FROM Chris Hawley
Can We Have a 'Pandemic' without the Panic? The World Health Organization says all of humanity is now under threat from a swine flu pandemic, but nobody knows how severe it might turn out to be. Compared to the flu epidemics that occur every year, not that many people have died, and the WHO's warning is designed to keep things from getting worse. Mexico City, near where the outbreak began, is virtually shut down. But experts are warning about the dangers of over-reaction. Today President Obama called a cabinet meeting to talk the H1N1 virus, which officials are calling by its scientific name because it's now transmitted from human to human and not just from pigs. He cautioned against “alarm,” but acknowledged the need to prepare for the long term “since we know that these kinds of threats can emerge at any moment.“ The virus cannot be stopped by shutting down borders, so what can be done? Are public health systems prepared? If it gets worse, can a vaccine be ready in time?
Buying, Selling and Using Assault Weapons in the US The International Association of Police Chiefs reports that high-caliber automatic weapons are increasingly common on the streets of American cities. Local police departments are fighting back with military-style armament of their officers. But there's dispute about whether the arms race started when the federal Assault Weapons Ban expired three years ago or long before that. Was the ban really all that effective? Are there other reasons both cops and criminals are more heavily armed? How come so many US assault weapons are turning up in Mexico? We hear from journalists, industry and policy and gun-safety experts.
Will the Senate write a healthcare bill in secret? While Democrats and Republicans argue White House relations with Russia, another question is being decided behind closed doors: who gets help buying health insurance and who doesn't? We hear how the pros and cons are being shrouded in secrecy.
Venezuela spirals into economic and political chaos Venezuela, a country whose potential for prosperity is unmatched, finds itself on the verge of civil war. What sustains the repressive government? With time running out, guest host León Krauze looks at what the international community can do to pull the country from the edge of collapse.