23:50 GMT19 January 2021
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    Anger Erupts at US Congress Over Stimulus Deal Only Providing $600 Checks for Americans

    The Critical Hour
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    The US Congress has approved a new stimulus package. Like the CARES Act before it, the legislation includes a number of tax breaks for businesses, but ordinary Americans will only receive checks for up to $600, plus another $600 per child.

    Dr. Jack Rasmus, professor in the Economics and Politics Departments at St. Mary's College of California, joins us to discuss the bipartisan COVID-19 relief package approved by the US Congress on Monday. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) described it as "a strong, strong shot in the arm to get things going." Meanwhile, independent pundits and social media critics are less than impressed by the package, with one Twitter user describing it as a "slap in the face" to ordinary Americans.

    Medea Benjamin, co-founder of anti-war organization Code Pink, returns to The Critical Hour to discuss the Biden administration's makeup. A group of human rights activists has issued an open letter imploring US President-elect Joe Biden not to nominate Michael Morell for the post of CIA director and saying the Senate should not confirm Avril Haines as director of national intelligence. Signatories include such notable figures as CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou and retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a US Army whistleblower.

    Oscar Chacon, co‐founder and executive director of Alianza Americas; and Carlos Castaneda, immigration lawyer, come together to discuss the fate of the "dreamers" who would be protected under the proposed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. A US judge in Texas will hear arguments on Tuesday in a lawsuit that could end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides protection from deportation to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as minors.

    Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector in Iraq, joins us to discuss the possibility of the Biden administration returning the US to the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. European Union leaders are backing the proposal that Biden return to the deal in its original form and forego any further deliberation, a position Iran supports. Germany, France and the UK, along with fellow accord signatories Russia and China, are supportive of the US returning to the agreement.

    David Schultz, professor at the Department of Political Science at Hamline University and author of "Presidential Swing States: Why Only Ten Matter,"  joins us to discuss reports that the Trump administration is considering granting legal immunity to Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in connection with an alleged assassination plot against a former Saudi intelligence officer, which could also protect the prince from legal actions related to the murder of former Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi. Additionally, he discusses US Attorney General Bill Barr's position that no special counsel will be needed to review allegations of election fraud or the Hunter Biden case.

    Dan Lazare, investigative journalist and author of "The Velvet Coup," joins us to talk about a recent report from The Intercept saying that CIA-trained death squads in Afghanistan have executed children as young as eight years old. The article says, "Residents from four districts in Wardak — Nerkh, Chak, Sayedabad and Daymirdad — spoke of a string of massacres, executions, mutilations, forced disappearances, attacks on medical facilities and airstrikes targeting structures known to house civilians." 

    Dan Kovalik, lawyer, professor and author, joins us to discuss US regime-change activities in Nicaragua. The Trump administration has instituted new sanctions against officials in the Nicaraguan government, making the usual claims of anti-democratic actions. In August, The Grayzone reported on a document that allegedly detailed a plot by the US government to overthrow the democratically elected government of President Daniel Ortega.

    Mark Sleboda, Moscow-based international relations and security analyst, returns to discuss new US sanctions against Russian and Chinese firms allegedly tied to military activities. Also, the EU previously levied sanctions against several Russians over their alleged ties to the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. The Russian government is retaliating by expanding the list of EU officials who are prohibited from entering Russia.  

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    Sanctions, China, Joe Biden, Alexei Navalny, Daniel Ortega
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