FROM Gordon Chang
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."
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
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.
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.