FROM Carlos Alzugaray
Will Pope Francis Be an Agent of Change? Yesterday, Pope Francis met with Cuban President Raúl Castro and former President Fidel. He said Mass in Havana's Revolution Square. He also delivered what's being called a "gentle" critique of Communist ideology and Cuba's suppression of dissenters. Later this week, he'll be in Washington, where some Catholic Republicans are already angry about his very un-gentle critique of free enterprise Capitalism. He'll address a joint meeting of Congress — and also visit with homeless people, laborers, immigrant children and prisoners. Cuba's Castro Brothers were educated and raised as Catholics, but their Communist revolution in 1959 made Cuba an atheist state. More recently, they have reached out to the Church, and Francis is the third Pope to visit the island since 1998.
Will American Tourists Spoil Cuba? Next week, the Presidents of the US and Cuba will meet for the first time since Fidel Castro's revolution of 1959. The US embargo is still on, but there's now an opening for American tourists who want to see Cuba before it becomes "Americanized." Historic buildings and old cars create nostalgia for life in the 50's — but when average wages are $20 a month they also illustrate poverty and decay. Is Havana a museum piece that's about to be "spoiled," or the capital of a desperate nation hungry for change?
Washington Opens Ties with Havana President Obama says isolation and punishment have not forced Communist Cuba to change, so he’s reversing 50 years of diplomatic policy. He said the US will end its isolation of Cuba and begin establishing normal relations by opening an embassy in Havana. Critics call normalizing relations an "undeserved bailout" of the Castro regime, based on the "illusion" that renewed ties will translate into political freedom. But supporters say it puts the onus on Cuba itself to further liberalize its economy, allow more dissenting voices and, ultimately, to establish democracy. Will it produce a historic transition or more of the same?
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.
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?
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.
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.