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FROM THIS EPISODE

President Bush has held what’s likely his last press conference of 2006. We get the highlights and talk about his long-term military plans. Also, the waiting game in Fidel Castro’s Cuba. Should the US relax its embargo or get tougher still?

Producers:
Vanessa Romo
Dan Konecky
Christian Bordal

Main Topic Congressional Frustration in Fidel Castro's Cuba 27 MIN, 13 SEC

Fidel Castro's health is a state secret in Cuba, but acting leader Raul Castro--Fidel's brother--has twice made overtures for negotiations with the United States.  The US has maintained an embargo against its Communist neighbor for almost 50 years, and the current Bush Administration has tightened restriction on travel and remittances sent home by Cuban refugees. Last week, in response to Raul Castro's offers, 10 members of Congress spent three days in Havana. But their request to meet with Raul himself was denied.

Guests:
William Delahunt, Congressman (D-MA)
Oscar Corral, Reporter, Miami Herald
Brian Latell, Senior Research Associate Institute for Cuba and Cuban American Studies
Antonio Jorge, Professor of Political Economy and International Relations

Main Topic Robert Gates and Increasing the Size of the Army 22 MIN, 3 SEC

In what was likely his last news conference of 2006, President Bush said today, "We're not winning" in Iraq but "we're not losing," and eventually "we're going to win." While the President has not decided if that will require a "surge" of troops in the short run, he does want to increase the overall size of the Army and the Marines. The cost--and the politics--of building ground forces, comprised a major plank in John Kerry's Presidential platform two years ago.  Meantime, fresh from his swearing in as Donald Rumsfeld's replacement, Defense Secretary Robert Gates already is on the ground in Iraq, talking to reporters about the possibilities of a short term "surge" and a long term increase in America's ground forces.

Guests:
Michael Fletcher, Washington Post
Kevin Ryan, Senior Fellow, Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times
Gordon Adams, American University (@Gadams1941)

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