BTS 1/21/11: Obama's Economic Policy; Baby Doc & Haiti; Stalin's Romeo Spy

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Paul Volcker is out and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt is in as Chair of a new “President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.” Are jobs the top priority? GE just announced big new investments in China, coinciding with Chinese Pres. Hu’s symbolic visit to the US. Symbolism aside, what direction in economic policy can we discern, what does it mean for state and local governments toying with bankruptcy, the concerted attack on pensions and public sector workers? We’ll ask Jack Rasmus to outline the political response to US economic reality and whether he sees solutions that provide relief to the population, not just the corporate sector.

One year after Haiti’s devastating earthquake, the monster dictator from the past tries to sneak back into Haiti – he says to help, but it appears that he wants to help himself to more money. Terror, torture and corruption characterized the rule of the Duvaliers, but it didn’t end with the dictatorship. Critical elections were just held, marked by widespread fraud, irregularities and corruption. Frantz Voltaire, film maker, historian, founder and director of CIDIHCA, appointed by President Preval to coordinate international cooperation between Canadian and Haitian organizations, was part of Haiti’s government in 1993-94, and has spent time in Haitian prisons. He joins us to talk about Haiti’s present and prospects.

Emil Draitser is back with a new book, Stalin’s Romeo Spy, a story more compelling than can be found in the best spy fiction. Dimitri Bystroyotov was a dashing man whose modus operandi was the seduction of women—among them a French Embassy employee, the wife of a British official, and a disfigured Gestapo officer. He stole military secrets from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy and enabled Stalin to look into the diplomatic pouches of many European countries. He was rewarded for his service, as was customary during Stalin’s rule, with arrest, torture, and 20 years hard labor in the gulag. Emil joins us to tell us some of the stories.

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Jack Rasmus is a Professor of Economics at St. Mary’s College and Santa Clara University. He is a freelance economics journalist and author of The War At Home: The Corporate Offensive From Ronald Reagan To George W. Bush (2006) and several stageplays. He has been a business economist, market analyst, vice-president of the National Writers Union and elected local union president and organizer for various labor unions.

2. Frantz Voltaire is a distinguished political scientist, publisher,producer, filmmaker and Director of CIDIHCA (Centre International de Documentation et d'Information Haïtienne). He has been appointed by Haitis’s President René Préval to coordinate international co-operation linkages between Canadian and Haitian organizations.

3. Emil Draitser was born in Odessa, Ukraine, in 1937. He began his writing career first as a freelancer, contributing satirical articles for Soviet newspapers and magazines. His work appeared in leading Soviet Russian journals under a pen name, though he was eventually blacklisted for writing an article critical of an important Soviet official, which prompted him to leave for the United States. He immigrated to Los Angeles in 1974, where he earned a Ph.D. in Russian literature from UCLA. His first book published in the United States, Forbidden Laughter: Soviet Underground Humor (1980) garnered national attention. His essays and short stories have since been published in the Los Angeles Times, Partisan Review, North American Review, and many other American and Canadian periodicals.