May 30th, 2019
In this week's playlist you'll find:

The Venn Weekly
A selection of top political podcasts we recommend for enhancing your understanding of the week's news 

The Venn Deep Dive
Three great episodes from the podcast archives exploring our political topic of the week. This week we're focusing on Criminal Justice Reform

The Democratic 2020 process is well underway, so we're getting to know the candidates. This week we turn to Democratic Senator, Kamala Harris

How to access the podcasts:

Option 1: Click the yellow link above for the full easy-to-use playlist.  To learn how to download into your preferred podcast app follow the tutorial on our Instagram story.
Option 2: Click on any of the pictures below to go to the individual episode on the podcast host's website


This week we're focusing on Mueller's eight-minute speech that signalled the end of his two-year investigation into Russian meddling in the election, the latest ratcheting up of America's trade war with China: a ban on Huawei, and what Ta-Nehisi Coates makes of the growing discussion around reparations.


On Wednesday, Robert Mueller brought to an official end his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. In his eight-minute speech he reaffirmed much of what was said in his 446-page report: there was Russian interference, there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy, he could not clear Trump of obstruction of justice, and it was unconstitutional to charge a sitting President with a Federal crime. Lastly, it is up to Congress to decide what to do next.
“The report”, he said, “is my testimony”.
So, what are we to make of what may well be Mueller’s final words on the investigation? And how might it affect possible impeachment proceedings, should the Democrats choose to go down that path? Find out in this episode of Today, Explained.



Last week President Trump turned up the heat in his ongoing trade war with China by placing a ban on U.S. companies from doing business with the Chinese tech company, Huawei. Not only does this prevent Huawei from selling its products in the U.S., but it also stops U.S. tech companies from selling their products to Huawei, which means, for example, no more Android system on Huawei phones. This will seriously undermine the demand for its phones globally. 
Why the ban? Because of national security concerns. Huawei is reportedly aiding state-sponsored espionage, although they have denied all accusations. 
This is an important escalation in what many view as a US- Chinese ‘tech cold war’ and could have huge implications for the global economy. So what happens next? And how will China respond? In this episode, Vector podcast breaks down all you need to know.



“Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.” 
In his 2014 essay for the Atlantic, author Ta-Nehisi Coates set out the case for reparations - a compensatory payment made to American descendants of slaves. Reparations were needed, he argued, to make amends for the abolition of chattel slavery and to address the racial inequalities, and economic disadvantages, that have continued since emancipation. 
He never expected the government would act on his words, but he did hope to change the conversation around an issue he wanted people to start taking seriously. And some have. Ahead of the 2020 U.S. election, reparations have become a point of discussion, with eight Democratic candidates having committed to appointing a commission to examine the issue. 
In this episode, Ta-Nehisi Coates reflects on how this discussion around reparations has moved forward since he first penned his landmark essay five years ago.



This week is part one of our three-part installment on Criminal Justice Reform.
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. There are now 2.2 million adults in America’s prisons and jails, which represents a 500% increase over the last 40 years. This means that for every 100,000 people living in the U.S., approximately 670 of them are in prison.


Why does America put so many people behind bars? Because, argues legal reporter for The New York Times, Emily Bazelon, of mandatory sentencing and the resulting shift in power to prosecutors.
In the 1980s, America responded to a rise in crime by introducing new, tough measures that included mandatory minimum sentencing - laws that require judges to impose identical sentences for the same crime, regardless of the circumstances. The idea was to take discretion away from judges and make the whole system fairer by ensuring everyone received the same punishment. But, such is the law of unintended consequences, this now means that your prison sentence is determined by the charges the prosecutor decides to bring against you. The power of discretion has not, therefore, been removed from the courts, it has just been shifted from judges to prosecutors. 
In this podcast interview, Emily Bazelon discusses the growth in prosecutorial power in America, and why the key to criminal justice reform lies in the hands of… the prosecutors themselves. 



“Redemption is the essence of what it is to be human.” These were the words of then-Governor Jerry Brown as he explained why he’d chosen to commute former San Quentin inmate, Earlonne Woods’, lifelong prison sentence for attempted second-degree robbery. We have, he said, to recognize people’s ability to change, and give prisoners serving long sentences the opportunity for hope.
In this episode, Earlonne Woods, host, and co-creator of podcast series ‘Ear Hustle,’ which looks at life inside San Quentin prison, discusses the path that led him into America’s judicial system at age 17, and how he's changed as a result. He is joined by co-creator, Nigel Woods, as she discusses what it was like spending 40-plus hours a week inside the prison as she recorded the show, and what it taught her about the complexities of being a man. 



The First Step Act was signed into law on December 18th, 2018. It is the first major federal criminal justice reform legislation to pass in nearly a decade and had bipartisan support from Senators as ideologically opposed as Kamala Harris and Ted Cruz, and advocates as diverse as the Koch Brothers and the ACLU. So what does the Act do? Essentially, it reduces prison sentences by altering sentencing guidelines (like mandatory minimum sentences), facilitates early release, bans certain correctional practices (i.e. shackling pregnant women during childbirth), and broadens rehabilitative opportunities in prisons. But the implementation of the Act relies on a risk assessment tool that hasn’t yet been developed, making the timeline for its full rollout uncertain. 
In this episode, Critical Value weighs up this first major step in tackling America’s mass incarceration crisis and considers the fundamental question underpinning our criminal justice system: why do we send people to prison in the first place?


This rounds up our deep dive, but stay tuned as we will return to our three-part Criminal Justice series in two weeks.


There are now 26 candidates hoping to secure their party's nomination for the 2020 Presidential election. Two Republicans and 24 Democrats. We want to get to know them, fast. This week we're turning to former prosecutor and Presidential hopeful, Senator Kamala Harris. 


“America’s economy is not working for working people…” which is why Presidential hopeful, Kamala Harris, is proposing a $500 monthly credit for families earning less than $100,000 a year. It would, she says, be “the most significant middle-class tax cut in generations”. 
Harris is a prosecutor by training and has many firsts to her name. She was the first female district attorney, first black district attorney and first Asian-American district attorney in San Francisco and then California. She was also the second black woman to secure a seat in the U.S. Senate. If she wins the Presidency, it will be another historic first. But while she recognizes the weight of responsibility that breaking these barriers represents, it’s a distraction from the comprehensive policy agenda she hopes will win her the White House.
In this podcast interview with Pod Save America, Kamala Harris sets out her vision for reforming the economy, addressing illegal immigration and the U.S. asylum system, introducing Medicare for All, and prosecuting the case against the policies of the President. Also discussed: the litany of recipes she’s collecting on the campaign trail.


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