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Recent Episodes and Articles

A New Cuba

Friday, December 19, 2014

“There had been eighteen months of secret negotiations, seven meetings that took place in Canada, under the good offices of the Canadian government, and also by Pope Francis in the Vatican, to help make this happen,” Jon Lee Anderson says about the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba. Anderson joins his fellow New Yorker staff writer Evan Osnos and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s Political Scene podcast to talk about the new relationship between the two nations. They discuss the differences between Raúl and Fidel Castro that made the agreement possible, the impact that Marco Rubio’s opposition could have on his Presidential campaign, and the diplomatic lessons we can draw from U.S.-China relations. “China today is still a one-party state. It’s not like Cuba is going to wake up next year and suddenly have freedom of expression, freedom of worship, rule of law, judicial independence, human-rights protections,” says Osnos. “We will still represent an oppositional political culture that is not going to be relieved just because we have this new, much more open economic relationship.”
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The Torture Report

Saturday, December 13, 2014

“The stain from this scandal is one of the worst ever in the history of the C.I.A., and from my standpoint one of the worst in the country,” Jane Mayer says of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on C.I.A. interrogation tactics. Mayer joins her fellow New Yorker staff writer Steve Coll and Amelia Lester, an editor for the magazine, on this week’s Political Scene podcast to talk about the report and its political significance. They discuss the unreliability of information obtained through torture and the unlikeliness of anyone being held accountable for the treatment of detainees. “I don’t think there’s any prospect of reviving criminal investigations in the United States,” Coll says.
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Negotiating Climate Change

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Focussing on a very narrow set of countries, as we did in Kyoto, and looking for aggressive emissions cuts in the short term doesn’t do anything,” Robert Stavins, the director of the environmental economics program at the Harvard Kennedy School, says about the international conference on climate change taking place in Lima this week. Stavins joins the New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week's Political Scene podcast to talk about the conference, which is the first of its kind since the 2009 conference in Copenhagen. They also discuss the recent United States-China agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the evolution of the Republican Party's pronouncements on environmental issues, and the fact that climate change remains a second-order issue to the American public. Of this, Kolbert says, “While I really think we have to applaud the administration for saying, ‘this is the best we can do in a bad situation,’ as a country we have to ask ourselves, ‘Really, is this the best we can do?’ ”
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Jeffrey Toobin and John Cassidy on Ferguson

Monday, December 01, 2014

“I think it would have been very difficult, maybe even impossible, to get a criminal conviction,” Jeffrey Toobin says of the grand-jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown. Toobin, who wrote this week about the prosecutor Robert McCulloch’s “document-dump” approach to the case, joins John Cassidy and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s Political Scene to discuss the investigation, and how the issue of race plays out in the criminal-justice system. Of Darren Wilson’s testimony, Cassidy says, “He wasn’t challenged at any point … we don’t know how he would have held up on a witness stand.” They also revisit Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,’s 1995 magazine piece “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man,” about the jurors in the O. J. Simpson trial. Toobin says, “The jury system does rely on different people having different perceptions. And that’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing. The problem is when those perceptions are so clearly shaped by race.”​
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Obama and Immigration

Monday, November 24, 2014

“If the Democrats are going to win in 2016, they’re going to have to put back together the Obama coalition. This gives the coalition something to fight on,” John Cassidy says about President Obama’s executive action on immigration reform. Cassidy joins Hendrik Hertzberg and host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s Political Scene podcast to talk about the new measures and how they will impact the Presidential race. They discuss its likely effects on the lives of undocumented immigrants, the recent history of executive orders, and Obama’s decision to fight for the issues he cares about rather than appease the Republicans. “With any luck, we are seeing a new, unleashed Obama,” Hertzberg says. “I don’t understand why, for so many years, he labored under the spell of the bipartisan, let’s-all-sing-kumbaya-together approach to governance.”
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Clinton’s Rivals

Thursday, November 13, 2014

“Once you identify a candidate who is really making a case against Clinton, interesting things can happen,” Ryan Lizza, who wrote about Hillary Clinton’s potential Presidential opponents in this week’s magazine, says on this week’s Political Scene podcast. “The history of these open primaries is that the dominant front-runner always gets challenged.” Lizza joins Evan Osnos and the host, Dorothy Wickenden, to discuss the challenges that Clinton may face as a candidate, both from within her party and from the Republicans. They talk about the reasons that Obama was able to defeat Clinton in 2008, the legacy of her vote for the Iraq War, and the expectation that her campaign will disparage the Obama Administration. They also discuss how Obama’s agreement with China on carbon emissions may play out, environmentally and politically. Of this, Osnos, who has written about China’s clean-energy initiatives for the magazine, says, “Since China and the United States account for almost half of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions, this now gives permission to other countries to be more ambitious in their own targets.”
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Obama and the G.O.P.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

“I’d like to see him use the last two years to make up for some of the rhetorical mistakes of the last six,” Hendrik Hertzberg says of President Obama on this week’s Political Scene podcast. Hertzberg joins David Remnick and host Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how Obama’s missteps contributed to Republican gains in the midterms, and what he can do to make the most of the remainder of his second term. They discuss how the myriad international crises of the summer may have affected the election, the waning power of the bully pulpit, Mitch McConnell’s victory, and the over-all dismal quality of political discussion in Congress today. Remnick says, “I don’t want to romanticize the Senates of the fifties or the sixties as if it were filled with Enlightenment kings and queens, but … it is so deeply dispiriting to watch the level of conversation and debate and politics on issues that are our future.”
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Understanding Contagion

Thursday, October 30, 2014

“The Administration should be faulted for giving mixed signals” about Ebola, the New Yorker staff writer Jerome Groopman says on this week’s Political Scene podcast. Groopman joins host Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how panic and misinformation have clouded the response to the virus in the U.S. so far, and what we should and should not worry about when it comes to this and other contagions. They examine the confusion over state versus federal quarantine policies, the evolution of the C.D.C’s guidelines, and the lessons that we can learn from the current outbreak. They also explore how epidemics have historically led to stigmas against vulnerable minority groups, and why Obama has a responsibility to emphasize the humanistic imperative to combat Ebola. Groopman says, “The President should state quite clearly that Americans are a compassionate and caring people, and that we take care of our own and, when we have the opportunity, we take care of others.”
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President Obama’s Judicial Legacy

Friday, October 24, 2014

President Obama “has achieved a level of diversity in the federal courts that is very much unprecedented in the history of United States courts,” says the New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin, who wrote about Obama’s judicial legacy in the current issue of the magazine. Toobin joins Amelia Lester on the Political Scene podcast to discuss how Obama has reshaped the federal judiciary and the major cases currently pending before the Supreme Court. Their conversation covers the President’s philosophy on selecting appointees, his cautious approach to same-sex marriage and affirmative action, the new restrictions on voting rights, and the question of when and whether Ruth Bader Ginsburg—“the Notorious R.B.G.”—will retire.
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A Panel on the Middle East

Thursday, October 16, 2014

“The Middle East is coming apart in a way that, I think, is unprecedented,” Dexter Filkins says on this week’s Political Scene, which was recorded live at The New Yorker Festival last Sunday. Filkins was joined by Steve Coll, Robin Wright, and Jon Lee Anderson for a panel discussion moderated by Evan Osnos about their experiences covering the Middle East and the rise of extremism in the region.
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Rand Paul's Counterculture

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ryan Lizza and Hendrik Hertzberg join host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s podcast to discuss Rand Paul’s political resurgence, and what it might mean for the future of the Republican Party. As Lizza explains in the magazine this week, if Paul is to run for President in 2016, he faces a challenge: how to avenge his father, who is still seen as a fringe figure, while distancing himself from his father’s image.
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Midterm Battlegrounds

Friday, October 10, 2014

With the midterm elections less than a month away, John Cassidy and Ryan Lizza join host Dorothy Wickenden on this week’s podcast to discuss the key Senate races, and how President Obama is affecting the campaign strategies of both parties.
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Lawrence Wright and Dexter Filkins on Syria

Friday, September 26, 2014

Lawrence Wright and Dexter Filkins on Syria
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Michael Specter and Jerome Groopman on the Ebola outbreak

Friday, September 19, 2014

Michael Specter and Jerome Groopman speak with Dorothy Wickenden about the Ebola outbreak
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William Finnegan and George Packer Discuss Income Inequality and the Fast-Food Labor Protests

Thursday, September 11, 2014

William Finnegan and George Packer Discuss Income Inequality and the Fast-Food Labor Protests
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Steve Coll and Ryan Lizza Discuss ISIS and Obama's Foreign-Policy Crisis

Friday, September 05, 2014

Steve Coll and Ryan Lizza Discuss ISIS and Obama's Foreign-Policy Crisis
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Dexter Filkins and Amy Davidson discuss Iraq and Syria.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Dexter Filkins and Amy Davidson discuss Iraq and Syria.
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What We Know and Don't Know About Michael Brown's Death

Friday, August 22, 2014

What We Know and Don't Know About Michael Brown's Death
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Dexter Filkins and Evan Osnos on the downfall of Maliki.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Dexter Filkins and Evan Osnos on the downfall of Maliki.
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Bernard Avishai and John Cassidy on the violence in Gaza.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bernard Avishai and John Cassidy on the violence in Gaza.
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