FROM John Carney
GOP Debate Roundup Last night's GOP debate was a more raucous affair than the first two. Sometimes the moderators seemed barely in control of the proceedings. And as early voting gets closer, there were a few more testy exchanges among candidates trying to raise their profile and damage their opponents.
High Finance and White-Collar Crime Raj Rajaratnam's Galleon Group hedge fund was once worth $7 billion, and he paid ten high-powered lawyers to defend him on charges of insider trading. But a working-class jury found him guilty on all 14 counts , based in large part on telephone conversations with tipsters recorded by federal investigators. After his conviction, the billionaire rolled away from New York's federal courthouse in a silver Mercedes. He's facing prison and fines, but it's not clear what the broader consequences might be. Prosecutors promise an ongoing crackdown on insider trading. Skeptics see Rajaratnam's trial as a road map for how to get away with it. Others ask, what about the bankers accused of causing the Great Recession? Polls show that most Americans think Wall Street is rigged. Will taking down a major player restore the confidence of ordinary investors?
The American Dream and Extended Credit Despite the recession and unemployment near 10 percent, Americans are still accumulating more debt. Solicitations for credit cards doubled last year. Lenders and retailers say the American Dream -- a big home, a big car and college — makes consumers willing to go into hock. They also see signs of "frugality fatigue." Others contend the law itself is rigged to favor indebtedness, with incentives that reward debt and discourage saving. Why are people spending money they don't have? Is it good for the economy? Is the government setting the right example?
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
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 plays scolder-in-chief with NATO allies At the opening of NATO’s dramatic new headquarters in Brussels today, President Trump acknowledged that Article 5 — promising that “an attack on one nation is an attack on all” -- has only been invoked one time: in the aftermath of September 11. But the President failed to provide what 27 other Alliance members have been waiting for: a re-commitment by America’s new leader to Article 5. Instead, they got a scolding.
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?