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FROM THIS EPISODE

Three explosions at the main airport and in the subway of Brussels, Belgium, today left dozens of people dead. The terrorist group ISIS has claimed responsibility. Why is Belgium such a center for Islamic extremism?

Then, is Islamic terrorism an existential threat to the United States?

Next, if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president, what will it mean for the GOP in California?

Elsewhere in the state, we look into the mysterious world of cactus smuggling.

And finally, a new report from a pre-eminent climate scientist warns that serious environmental changes could be coming decades earlier than previously thought.

Producers:
Matt Holzman
Anna Scott
Jolie Myers
Christian Bordal
Laura Swisher

Existential Threats From The Cold War to Today 8 MIN, 8 SEC

Today in Cuba, President Obama said, “I have come here to bury the last remnants of the Cold War in The Americas.” During the Cold War, nuclear attacks posed the greatest existential threat to the United States. President Obama’s visit to Cuba marks the end of an era, but today’s terrorist attacks in Brussels remind us we’re in a different one now. We look at the Cold War today as an ancient and sometimes absurd artifact. Yet it represented a very real existential threat to most Americans. Can we compare it to the threat of terrorism we face today?

Guests:
Yochi Dreazen, Foreign Policy magazine (@yochidreazen)

What Does Donald Trump Mean for California Republicans? 7 MIN, 47 SEC

Unlike most election years, California is now relevant in the Republican race for president. One hundred and seventy-two delegates are up for grabs in the June 7th primary, and Donald Trump is likely to grab a bunch of them. Is that a good or a bad thing for the Republican party here? The GOP isn’t much of a presence in California. How could that change with Trump? Also, what would a Trump campaign in California mean for other GOP candidates running in this year’s election?

Guests:
Jack Pitney, Claremont McKenna College (@jpitney)

Why Belgium? 11 MIN, 20 SEC

Three explosions in the airport and subway of Brussels, the capital of Belgium, left dozens of people dead today. ISIS has claimed responsibility. The attacks came four days after the capture of Salah Abdeslam near Brussels. Abdeslam is the only survivor of 10 men said to be behind the Paris terror attacks in November. ISIS also took credit for those. He was from Belgium, and he was radicalized there. The tiny country has a population of only 11 million people. But in the EU it has the highest number per capita of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria -- more than 500 in the latest count. Why?

Guests:
Matthew Levitt, Director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute (@levitt_matt)

Who Are The Cactus Thieves 11 MIN, 56 SEC

Cactus experts say there are about 2,000 different types of cacti living today. Many of them are out here in the deserts of the West, but they’re in danger. According to a study published last year in the journal “Nature Plants,” almost one third of them are threatened with extinction. They’re threatened by humans taking their habitat, and livestock trampling them. The biggest reason so many cacti are disappearing, however, is a simpler one: theft. People are stealing rare breeds and selling them. There are laws against it, but they’re tough to enforce across hundreds of thousands of square miles of the desert West. We take a look inside the cactus smuggling trade.

Guests:
Weston Phippen, Writer, Editor (@westonphippen)

A Dire Report on Climate Change 8 MIN, 19 SEC

Pre-eminent climate scientist James Hansen has published a new paper. Spoiler alert: It’s not good news. Hansen, who was the first scientist to call major attention to climate change in 1988, has found that the most dire consequences of climate change could happen one or two decades sooner than previously thought. That means collapsing ice sheets, violent storms and waves so strong that they could toss boulders onto the shore. How soon could this happen, and what will it mean for everyday life?

Guests:
Chris Mooney, Washington Post (@chriscmooney)

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