FROM Dimitri K. Simes
Russian Democracy and Putin's Power Politics He's seen in the West as a throwback to the days of the Soviet Union: centralized power, control of the media, stifling of political opposition. But since Vladimir Putin was elected President , the economy has been booming and his combative behavior has persuaded Russians they're back as a world power. Putin has turned this weekend's parliamentary elections into a referendum on his two terms as President. Opposition rallies have been broken up, and leaders have been jailed. Former chess champion Gary Kasparov was sentenced to five days for protesting the conduct of the election. With the Kremlin determined to boost the turnout, many Russians say they're being pressured to vote at work, with the implicit threat of losing their jobs if they don't support Putin's party, United Russia . Will this weekend's parliamentary elections consolidate Putin's power, even as the Constitution requires him to step down? Will US and Russian relations continue to deteriorate, while both countries undergo political transitions?
Trump's new look at civil rights and global warming President Trump is reportedly ready to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We look at the possible consequences. On the second half of the program, we hear about cuts in Obama-Era civil rights programs called for by the Trump Administration's first budget plan.
What is Trump's plan for Middle East peace? On his first foreign tour, President Trump has promised "peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. Are there any details for re-starting talks that have been stalled for the past three years?
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?