FROM Gordon G. Chang
Is North Korea backing down? Kim Jung Un now says he won't send four missiles toward the territory of Guam, apparently easing the threat of nuclear war -- at least for the moment. That comes in the aftermath of President Trump's threat to rain "fire and fury" down on North Korea, backed up by US military leaders. The US and South Korea still plan annual military exercises later this month — regarded as hostile by both North Korea and China. We ask former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and others if tough talk and that kind of action are working.
Is North Korea getting ready for nuclear war? Last Friday, North Korea took the rest of the world by surprise by detonating a nuclear explosion more than twice as large as the one it tested just eight months ago. Increased economic sanctions haven't worked. The speed of development and defiance of international retaliation are giving new urgency to old questions: do the US and its allies really know what Kim Jong Un is up to? Is our understanding of this country fundamentally wrong? The consensus has been that his nuclear program was more political than military — designed for internal consumption and international show. We hear some new assessments of what's at risk for the world.
Is China's New 'Charm Offensive' Doomed to Fail? For the second time in 20 years, the leaders of China have just completed a peaceful transition of power. Xi Jinping has become the Communist Party Chairman, Commander in Chief of the Army and—yesterday--President of the Country. All that took place, as usual, behind closed doors. Xi will be running an economic powerhouse with an inferiority complex about its lack of cultural influence. He says, "Just as China needs to learn more about the world, so does the world need to learn more about China." But, can he develop China's "soft-power" in the face of political censorship, limits on foreign tourism and military saber rattling? We hear about the contradictions that make the world's second most powerful nation harder to understand — and more frightening — than it wants to be.
Politics in the Other Superpower While the world waits to see if there will be leadership change in Washington, in China it's guaranteed, but nothing is out in the open. The Communist Party is about to start meeting behind closed doors to endorse the tiny group who will run the number two superpower for the next ten years. The biggest turnover since the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 -- and only its fifth generation of leaders since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949 -- will have worldwide consequences, though nobody knows just what to expect. We hear about murder, corruption, public unrest and the uncertain future of the "economic miracle."
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?
Human Rights in the era of Donald Trump President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself–and a US resignation could make things worse. Later on today’s show, now that he’s into his second term, comedian turned US Senator Al Franken is telling jokes again.
Trump's 'America First' goes missing abroad In the Middle East, President Trump is changing some policies of the Obama Administration—and reversing his own campaign attacks on Islam as a religion that "hates us." We hear about his visit to Saudi Arabia and what's at stake for the rest of his foreign excursion.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.