Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Friday Flashback: Vladimir Putin, Syria weapons, and more

by Take Two®

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin takes part in a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) at the Ala-Archa state residence in Bishkek, on September 13, 2013. Putin said today the global community should welcome Syria's decision to join a ban on chemical weapons, saying it shows the 'serious intentions' of Damascus. AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Time now for the Friday Flashback, our weekly analysis of the stories in the news. Joining us from Washington DC today is David Gura of Marketplace, and in the studio, James Rainey of the LA Times.  

It's was the kind of news week where maybe we all need some analysis. We start with the latest events involving Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with his counterpart in Geneva to talk work on a plan that would require Syria to turn over its chemical weapons to UN inspectors. Meanwhile, the Syrian president, Bashar Assad, is insisting there will be no deal unless the U.S. stops aiding rebels. 

This effort to disarm Syria is only a few days old, but already it seems like there's a good chance it will unravel. Is there optimism that this diplomacy might actually resolve the crisis?

At the center of all this is Russian president Vladimir Putin. He wrote an op-ed published yesterday in the New York Times titled "A letter to America." Putin seems to have improved his position, but at the expense of President Obama.  

If nothing else, the Russian proposal at least allowed Congress to return their focus to the big fiscal issues. There's the budget, and the fact that the government will shut down in two weeks if they don't do something. Plus that pesky debt ceiling. 

The nation will be unable to pay its debts beginning sometime in October unless Congress votes to increase the credit limit. On the House side, Speaker John Boehner is trying to broker some kind of deal, but he's been unable to keep his own Republican conference in line.

Conservatives in the House are determined to defund Obamacare, and they appear prepared to let the government shut down, and maybe even default to get there.

A group of conservatives also say they want to restore funding that was cut from defense, even if it means increasing the deficit. How can John Boehner find a way to satisfy the hard right and still get enough other votes to pass a funding bill?

A government shut down and a credit default can't be good for an economy that's still struggling five years after the financial crisis. We're coming up on the fifth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. There was also this study, by a respected UC Berkeley economist, that showed the concentration of wealth is greater now than at anytime since 1928. 

Why do you think more Americans aren't more upset by the fact that 95 percent of income gains over the past three years went to the wealthiest top one percent? Where's the outrage, and movements to reform?

The AFL-CIO held their convention here in Los Angeles this week. Did any of this rich getting richer stuff come up?

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