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FROM THIS EPISODE

In 2011 the United States pulled troops out of Iraq, a country it praised as well on the way to democracy. Now on the eve of its first parliamentary elections since the withdrawal, Iraq is ravaged by sectarian strife and the worst violence since the height of the conflict. Also, the US imposes new sanctions on Russia, and an NBA team owner’s reputation hits a new low: the long and controversial history of the Los Angeles Clipper's Donald Sterling. Barbara Bogaev guest hosts.

Banner image: Iraqi security forces stand at the scene of a car bomb attack at a Shi'ite political organisation's rally in Baghdad, April 25, 2014.  Photo: Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters

Producers:
Benjamin Gottlieb
Andrea Brody
Caitlin Shamberg

The US Imposes New Sanctions on Russia 7 MIN, 34 SEC

The United States and the European Union imposed more sanctions today on Russia over its actions in Ukraine, targeting President Vladimir Putin's very wealthy inner circle and specific Russian companies. Meanwhile, there's more violence in Eastern Ukraine. Today the mayor of the region's largest city was shot in the back by unidentified gunmen presumably in an assassination attempt. Karen DeYoung is senior diplomatic correspondent at the Washington Post.

Guests:
Karen DeYoung, Washington Post (@karendeyoung1)

The Iraq We Left Behind, Is It a Democracy? 36 MIN, 17 SEC

As Iraq heads into parliamentary elections on Wednesday, the country is slipping back into civil war. Dozens of people have died at a campaign rally and polling sites. Fighting in Anbar province has destroyed villages and turned tens of thousands of Iraqis out of their homes. Scores of people were killed in suicide bombings at polling centers, where police and other government officials are casting early ballots. On Friday more than 30 people died in explosions at a campaign rally for Shiite groups in Baghdad. This year is on track to be the bloodiest since the height of sectarian violence in Iraq in 2006 and 2007. Will bloodshed and religious strife derail democracy? Will this election change anything given Iraq's increasingly authoritarian Prime Minister? Should the US recommit to help stabilize this fledgling democracy it withdrew from little more than two years ago? 

Guests:
Ned Parker, Reuters News Service (@nedmparker1)
Peter Mansoor, Ohio State University (@osuhistorydept)
Zaid Al-Ali, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (@zalali)
Emma Sky, Yale University (@JacksonYale)

More:
Al-Ali's 'The Struggle for Iraq's Future: How Corruption, Incompetence and Sectarianism Have Undermined Democracy'
Dexter Filkins on what we left behind in Iraq
Mansoor's 'Surge: My Journey with General David Petraeus and the Remaking of the Iraq War'
Parker on the sectarian violence that threatens Iraq ahead of elections

Clippers Owner Donald Sterling's Alleged Racist Comments 6 MIN, 37 SEC

The irony takes your breath away. Los Angeles Clipper's owner Donald Sterling was about to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP when TMZ released the now infamous recording, allegedly between Sterling and former girlfriend V. Stiviano, in which Sterling makes numerous racist remarks. But this isn't the first time he's faced questions relating to race. As a landlord he settled four discrimination lawsuits. He was also sued by a former Clippers manager on charges of discrimination. What's in the NBA's playbook for dealing with Sterling. Jeff Benedict is special features writer for Sports Illustrated.

Guests:
Jeff Benedict, Sports Illustrated (@authorjeff)

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