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FROM THIS EPISODE

The White House and Germany are at odds over what to do about the crisis in Ukraine; we look at German chancellor Angela Merkel’s unique ability to negotiate with Putin, and what it means for the ongoing diplomacy. Then, it’s been one year since the Russian government spent $50 billion on the Winter Olympics in Sochi. What’s happening there now? In our weekly TV roundup, a look at the Grammy Awards telecast and why it was widely considered underwhelming. Then, journalist Seven Brill talks about his new book on the American healthcare system. And finally, why is McDonald’s struggling financially, and what can the company do about it?

Banner Photo Credit: Philipp 

Producers:
Andrew Walsh
Christian Bordal
Matt Holzman
Jolie Myers
Anna Scott

Merkel and Putin 8 MIN, 4 SEC
The White House and Germany are at odds, and that may be just the way Vladimir Putin likes it. German chancellor Angela Merkel is in Washington today, where she met with President Obama to discuss the crisis in Ukraine. The White House has floated the idea of arming the Ukrainian soldiers fighting separatists there, but Germany is opposed. It’s not the first time Germany has been caught between the U.S. and Russia. We look at Merkel’s background as an East German native who speaks Russian, and why she’s uniquely qualified to negotiate with Putin.

Guests:
Hans Nichols, Bloomberg Television (@HansNichols)

Sochi, One Year Later 7 MIN, 46 SEC
A year ago, we took our seats for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The Russian government reportedly spent $50 billion to turn a relatively unknown ski resort near the Black Sea into a world-class sporting venue. And aside from some hiccups, like broken toilets and buildings without lobbies, it was a success. But Russia hasn’t been as successful in convincing the world’s winterati to come back to Sochi for a ski vacation. What’s the scene on the ground, one year after the Olympics?

Guests:
Paul Sonne, Wall Street Journal (@PaulSonne)

More:
One Year On, Sochi Suffers the Post-Olympic Blues

TV Roundup: Grammys, Small Screen Lawyers, and Brian Williams 9 MIN, 33 SEC
Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” won record and song of the year at last night’s Grammy Awards. The song’s title might also have been a meta-statement from the Grammys to viewers, who for the most part seemed unimpressed with last night’s ceremony. Ratings were down compared to last year, and the Twittersphere responded with a big, collective yawn. We talk about why the ceremony was so underwhelming, along with other small screen news, in our weekly TV roundup.

Guests:
Linda Holmes, NPR (@nprmonkeysee)
Michael Schneider, Indiewire / Variety (@Franklinavenue)

“Bitter Pill” 13 MIN, 42 SEC
Last year, journalist Steven Brill was putting the finishing touches on his big book on America’s healthcare system. He was intimately familiar with its massive problems, which can be boiled down to this: it is by far the most expensive health care system in the world, and yet Americans’ health isn’t improving. Brill was just about finished when he found himself strapped to a gurney, about to have open heart surgery. He joins Madeleine to discuss what he learned from that experience and how it dovetailed with his reporting, which is chronicled in his new book.

Guests:
Steven Brill, journalist and author (@StevenBrill)

The Past and Future of McDonalds 7 MIN, 31 SEC
Been to a McDonald’s lately? If you have, you may be in the minority. The nearly 70-year-old fast food brand is struggling with sluggish sales and an identity crisis. CEO Don Thompson got the boot after first-quarter sales infuriated shareholders, and McDonald’s is struggling to compete with chains like Five Guys and Chipotle. What’s next for the franchise?

Guests:
Susan Berfield, Bloomberg Businessweek (@@susanberfield)

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