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KCRW's To The Point



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Sanders and 'socialism,' Trump and disinformation

With Bernie Sanders leading the Democratic candidates, Republicans are reviving a political dirty word: “socialism.” Meantime, the Trump campaign has weaponized digital media, assaulting voters with disinformation. Will Democrats respond in kind?


The US ‘rendered itself incapable’ of handling a disease epidemic

China has locked down an entire city to control the coronavirus, while President Trump has eliminated federal programs to cope with disease epidemics. Meantime, the Iowa caucus disaster means continued disunity for the Democratic party.


Super Bowl gambling behind bars

John J. Lennon is a confessed killer doing time at Sing Sing Prison. He’s also published in the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and Sports Illustrated. He talks about illicit gambling behind bars and “escape” into fantasy football for this week’s Super Bowl.


Trump’s impeachment: politics and the Constitution

Did President Trump abuse his power? That’s now up to the Senate. But is that even a crime? Democrats and Republicans agree on the facts, but not on the Constitution. Trump says he can do whatever he wants. At stake is the separation of executive and legislative powers basic to America’s founding document.


The climate debate and impeachment

While Trump cuts environmental protections, Democrats debate climate change -- when reporters give them a chance. CNN didn’t ask until the second half of the latest debate. We hear what the candidates said. In the meantime, Chief Justice John Roberts will “preside”over the impeachment trial, but he won’t be a judge.


President Trump is trapped in history

President Trump and Iran’s Ayatollah brushed with armed conflict this week. Did it all begin with the U.S. embassy takeover in 1979 or the violent replacement of Iran’s elected president in 1953? What will killing an Iranian general mean for America’s third president to face impeachment?


‘Homewreckers’: the demolition of the American dream

In 2008, the subprime mortgage crisis cost hundreds of thousands of American families their homes. A small group of predatory lenders ultimately made billions. They include not just some of Donald Trump’s inner circle but members of his presidential cabinet. Peabody-winning investigative reporter Aaron Glantz says it was probably legal.


The Whistleblower who came out into the cold...

The White House insider who blew the whistle on President Trump remains under federal protection. But whistle-blowing is a dangerous game. Warren talks with a whistle-blower who did prison time after his identity was revealed. Was he guilty of espionage--or being African-American in the CIA?


Artificial Intelligence and your life in the future

Thinking machines are finally able to think for themselves. In the US, it’s for money. In China, it’s to enforce state control. Futurist Amy Webb warns about “the steady erosion of humanity” if America’s “tech titans” don’t learn to share values with China’s.


Brexit: Britain’s history and America’s future

Conservative leader Boris Johnson won big in the Brexit election. Labor’s Jeremy Corbyn lost disastrously. Is there a lesson for America’s Democrats who are still divided over next year’s presidential nominee? With the failure of the UN Climate Conference in Madrid… are multilateral organizations losing their grip?


President Trump’s broken bromance with his generals

Donald Trump took office with more generals in his cabinet than any previous president. It didn’t take long for all to resign or be fired. Peter Bergen’s new book is “Trump and His Generals: the Cost of Chaos.” He takes readers from the Pentagon’s secret decision room to the battlefields of Afghanistan, and assesses the consequences for the chain of command and America’s interests.


Deadly protests in Iran; divestment from fossil fuels

When political protesters were gunned down by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, was it a victory or a defeat for President Trump? Also on this episode: the rude disruption of this year’s Harvard-Yale football classic in the fight over climate change. Should their massive endowments divest themselves of fossil fuel stocks?


Draining the swamp -- for better or worse?

“Draining the swamp” was a popular slogan, and President Trump has made good on his promise. Crucial firings and resignations have hit almost every department. Are Americans better off? Joel Stein gives his answer in a new book titled “In Defense of Elitism.”


Do TV debates help voters decide?

Presidential debates have become reality TV, and performance is more important than substance. With 10 candidates onstage and two more in the wings, potential voters are far from consensus. Can the Democrats unite in time to take on the reality TV veteran now in the White House?


Climate change, the EPA and protecting medical privacy

Personal medical records behind public health regulations are now stamped "confidential." If they aren’t opened up, the Trump EPA says it will ignore them. Is that “transparency” really needed, or is it a way to avoid tough rules against new health risks that climate change is bound to require?


Is Trump dumping justice reform?

With support from Democrats as well as Republicans, President Trump agreed to release inmates from harsh prison terms due to the War on Drugs. But his own Justice Department wants them back behind bars. With 4700 former inmates already on the street, does the First Step Act have a future?


Climate change: Trump vs. California

President Trump’s denial of climate change has him at war with California. Their battle over fuel emission standards has divided the auto industry as well as drivers. Meanwhile, 11,000 scientists say we’re facing a “climate emergency.”


Does facial recognition software threaten our freedom?

Surveillance cameras are capturing what we do on the streets, at airports, in stores, and in much of our public space. Facial recognition software is touted as making us safer. Is it worth the risk of misidentification -- and the violation of privacy? Is the genie out of the bottle or can it be controlled?


Preparing for climate change fires in Los Angeles

Fire season now lasts all year long in Southern California, and residents of Topanga Canyon have set an example for how to get ready. Volunteers are on the alert to help their neighbors, save their homes and protect their animals, or to evacuate.


High crimes and misdemeanors: how much will they matter?

Impeachment by Democrats in the House may lead to trial in the Senate, with Chief Justice John Roberts presiding. Can he prevent the Republican majority from rushing to judgement? Whatever the outcome, will it restore or erode America’s faith in democracy?