00:57 GMT26 January 2021
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    War Criminals Pardoned as Julian Assange Languishes in Prison

    The Critical Hour
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    US President Donald Trump issued pardons for 15 people on Tuesday, including convicted war criminals, as WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, who exposed war crimes in Iraq, is tortured via prolonged solitary confinement in the UK's Belmarsh Prison.

    Jim Kavanagh, writer at The Polemicist and CounterPunch, joins us to discuss the slew of pardons by Trump. The presidential pardons included "four Blackwater military contractors jailed for massacring more than a dozen Iraqi civilians — including two children — in Baghdad in 2007," Common Dreams reported. However, Assange was conspicuously absent from the list.

    Dr. Linwood Tauheed, associate professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, joins us to discuss the ongoing political battle over COVID-19 stimulus relief in the US. Trump blew up social media on Tuesday night by threatening to veto the $900 billion bipartisan agreement. He called it a "disgrace" that is full of pork and asserted that the stimulus checks for Americans should be bumped from $600 to $2,000.

    Robert Fantina, pro-Palestinian activist, peace and human rights leader, journalist and author of "Essays on Palestine," returns to The Critical Hour to discuss the upcoming Israeli election. The Knesset dissolved Tuesday after failing to pass the 2020 budget, and major issues such as COVID-19 vaccines and peace deals will dominate the election cycle.

    Caleb Maupin, journalist and political analyst, joins us to talk about Venezuela's recent moves to bypass brutal US sanctions. Venezuela has now received nine air shipments of medical supplies from China to help with the COVID-19 pandemic. Venezuelan Executive Vice President Delcy Rodríguez thanked Beijing for the assistance on Tuesday, and the Orinoco Tribune reported, "With China's cooperation since March, an air bridge has circumvented the illegal US blockade, providing supplies needed for the health of the Venezuelan people."

    Dan Lazare, investigative journalist and author of "The Velvet Coup," joins us to talk about President-elect Joe Biden's response to the most recent Washington Post claims of suspected Russian hacking. Biden's team is saying that he is considering retaliation via sanctions and cyberattacks, even though there has been no evidence provided that the attacks were committed by anyone related to the Russian government or even a state actor.

    Ted Rall, political cartoonist and syndicated columnist, joins us to talk about France's advancement of neoliberal policies. As France's economy slumps dramatically amid the pandemic, the western European nation has announced that it will be building a replacement for its Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier, a project which French media outlets have estimated will cost some $8.5 billion, according to the Associated Press. Are the people of France losing the battle of "guns vs. butter"?

    Netfa Freeman, Host of Voices With Vision on WPFW 89.3 FM, pan-Africanist and internationalist organizer, returns to The Critical Hour to discuss US foreign policy in Africa. The US has finalized a deal with Sudan. The impoverished nation will be taken off the list of state sponsors of terrorism and have its sovereign immunity restored in return for normalizing relations with Israel. This may cause internal political problems, as most of the nation's citizens oppose the move, and the current prime minister has voiced significant concerns.

    Laith Marouf, broadcaster and journalist based in Beirut, Lebanon, joins us to talk about the instability in the Middle East regarding Iran. While Israel and its Gulf allies are pushing for a seat at the table regarding the Biden administration's Iran policy, "Qatar's foreign minister has called for a de-escalation of tension in the Gulf region and for dialogue between Arab countries and Iran," Reuters reported. Will the hawks win out, or will cooler heads prevail?

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    Venezuela, Russian hacking, Joe Biden, Julian Assange, Trump, Iran
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