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FROM THIS EPISODE

With campaign spending limits almost a thing of the past, candidates for the White House are lining up billionaires, giving a very few people unprecedented political power. Who are they? Is their influence a threat to democracy?

Also, the deadly AmTrak derailment in Philadelphia impacts a Congressional funding debate. On today's Talking Point, are murdered bloggers in Bangladesh part of a free-speech crisis?

Photo: DonkeyHotey

Producers:
Katie Cooper
Jenny Hamel
Evan George

Deadly Amtrak Derailment in Philadelphia Impacts Funding Debate 6 MIN, 30 SEC

A black box has been recovered from last night's Amtrak derailment near Philadelphia, where seven passenger cars went off the rails on a sharp curve while traveling more than 100 miles an hour. Robert Sumwalt, of the National Transportation Safety Board, told reporters, "We're looking at the track, at the train signal, the operation of the train, the human performance, we are setting up a multi-disciplinary investigation to try and understand the factors that led to this accident"

Meanwhile, Democratic Congressman Steve Israel of New York spoke against the cuts to Amtrak funding at the House Appropriations Committee today. "The budgets of this majority" subsidize special interests when they should have been subsidizing the safety of those passengers on that Amtrak train yesterday."

Heather Caygle, who reports on transportation for Politico, has more on the House committee vote to cut Amtrak budget.

Guests:
Heather Caygle, Politico (@heatherscope)

Sugar Daddies, Super PAC's and Winning the White House 31 MIN, 57 SEC

The US Supreme Court has taken the lid off political spending, so presidential candidates are lining up billionaires to finance next year's campaigns. It's not just the South Carolina and New Hampshire primaries any more. There's the "Adelson primary" and the "Koch primary" facetiously named for Republican mega-donors. Hillary Clinton is cozying up to super-rich Democrats. That's giving enormous power to a tiny group of billionaires – a Florida car dealer, a New York hedge fund operator and others. What do they want — what will they get -- for their money?

Guests:
Peter Beinart, New America Foundation (@PeterBeinart)
Eric Lichtblau, New York Times (@EricLichtblau)
Alex Isenstadt, Politico (@politicoalex)
Bradley Smith, Center for Competitive Politics (@CommishSmith)
Chris Lehane, Democratic strategist (@chrislehane)

More:
Ann Ravel on dysfunction at the Federal Election Commission
Beinart on how to push back against billionaire donors
Center for Competitive Politics on disclosure
Time magazine on the man who invented the Super Pac

Free Speech Crisis and Bangladeshi Bloggers 11 MIN, 25 SEC

Yesterday, masked men armed with machetes hacked a blogger to death in Sylhet. Three secular or atheist bloggers have been murdered recently in Bangladesh — a majority Muslim country. It sounds like it's far away, but the incidents are being seen as part of a worldwide pattern of attacks on free speech.

We hear more from Madeline Earp, a researcher at Freedom House, which focuses on journalism and online activism in Asia, and from George Packer, a staff writer for the New Yorker.  His article, "Mute Button: The Free Speech Crisis," appeared last month.

Photo: Anonymous Account

Guests:
Madeline Earp, Freedom House (@madelineearp )
George Packer, New Yorker (@newyorker)

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