On Shifting Ground
When a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion revealed plans to overturn Roe v. Wade, Amnesty International labelled it a victory of an emboldened global anti-abortion movement. The court’s decision, however, could place the United States at odds with regional trends across Latin America – where a transnational pro-choice “Green Wave” movement is growing, despite historic cultural and religious opposition.  

What is the future of abortion in the Americas? We tackle that question–and where the U.S. fits into a changing reproductive health landscape–this week on World Affairs. We begin with a Mexican physician, who provided clandestine abortions in the country for over twenty years. Then, Ray is joined by Colombian attorney, Ximena Casas, to discuss the legal frameworks dictating abortion rights north and south of the U.S. border.




Gregory Berger, documentary filmmaker

Estela Kempis, Mexican physician

Ximena Casas, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch




Ray Suarez

Direct download: Reproductive_Rights_pt._1_for_podcast_feed_REV2.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 2:00am PST

We're releasing our latest episode early this week in light of the recent tragedy in Buffalo. Please take care of yourselves.


The recent mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York left ten dead, three injured, and a city–and country–reeling. Within hours of the deadly attack, evidence emerged that the 18-year-old gunman’s crimes were racially motivated, explicitly targeting the area’s Black community.


Buffalo is the most recent in a string of high-profile acts of violence inspired by the “great replacement theory,” an extremist doctrine based on the unsubstantiated belief that non-white populations will “replace” and subjugate white majorities across the globe.


Once confined to the radical fringe, replacement theory has now entered mainstream conservative rhetoric, peddled by prominent right-wing figures like Tucker Carlson and J.D. Vance, and shared in online networks from El Paso to Christchurch. On this week’s episode, Ray Suarez sits down with Daniel Byman, a counterterrorism expert and author of Spreading Hate: The Global Rise of White Supremacist Terrorism, to discuss the roots of the global white power movement, how extremism spreads, and what the mainstreaming of violence as a political tactic means for targeted communities–and democracy–in the world today.




Daniel Byman, Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution and professor at Georgetown University




Ray Suarez, co-host of World Affairs

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Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 11:00am PST

When the Biden administration announced that the United States would accept up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, hundreds began to show up daily at the US-Mexico border. With a scarcity of appointments at US consulates in Europe, for those who could afford airfare, this circuitous route was their best option. “At the peak of it, there were over a thousand Ukrainian nationals,  enough to fill a shelter in Tijuana,” KPBS immigration reporter Gustavo Solis explained to Ray Suarez. “They would get picked up at the airport and volunteers would be ready. There was even a guy playing music for them – like a welcome party in Tijuana.” Then they would be processed the next day. As you might imagine, that streamlined process isn't the same for most other refugees seeking asylum in the United States. Depending on your country of origin, entering the US at the San Ysidro crossing between Tijuana and San Diego can be quite a bit more complicated...or even impossible.

Guest: Gustavo Solis, Investigative Border Reporter for KPBS

Host:  Ray Suarez, host of World Affairs

If you appreciate this episode and want to support the work we do, please consider making a donation to World Affairs. We cannot do this work without your help. Thank you.

Direct download: Gustavo_Segment_for_podcast_feed.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 2:00am PST

As early as November 2021, the Biden administration began to declassify military intelligence about a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine and share it with the public. As declassified material poured in, the world watched the massive grinding gears of Russia's war machine creep towards Kyiv. Despite what seemed imminent—almost obvious—the White House and the State Department were under intense scrutiny. It wasn’t clear whether the strategy of opening the information floodgates would disrupt Moscow’s actions or provoke Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine. On this week’s episode, Ray Suarez discusses President Biden’s Ukraine strategy with US State Department Counselor Derek Chollet. 

Guests:  Derek Chollet, Counselor of the United States Department of State

Host:  Ray Suarez, co-host of World Affairs

If you appreciate this episode and want to support the work we do, please consider making a donation to World Affairs. We cannot produce this program without your help. Thank you.

Direct download: Chollet_Segment_for_podcast_feed.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PST

On February 9th, the U.S. Senate confirmed Chantale Wong as the U.S. Executive Director of the Asian Development Bank. On that day, she became the first LGBTQ person of color and the first "out" lesbian, to hold the rank of ambassador in the U.S. For the past 30 years, Ambassador Wong has spurned tradition and overcome challenges to forge her own trailblazing path, breaking barriers along the way. Her journey began in 1960, when at the age of six, her grandmother smuggled her out of Shanghai, and has included a thirty year career in public service, including stops at San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission, NASA, the Treasury Department and a brief stint as photographer for the late Congressman John Lewis. During this Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we celebrated the life and career of Chantale Wong at a live event on May 3, 2022. This is an excerpt of her conversation with Dean Fealk.

Guest: Ambassador Chantale Wong, U.S. Executive Director, Asia Development Bank

Host:  Dean Fealk, World Affairs trustee and co-managing partner at DLA Piper.

If you appreciate this episode and want to support the work we do, please consider making a donation to World Affairs. We cannot do this work without your help. Thank you.

Direct download: Chantale_Wong_Segment_for_podcast_feed_REV2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am PST

After a thirty year civil war, Sri Lanka rebuilt its economy, with the help of foreign investment. But when the pandemic forced the small island nation to shut its borders, things began to unravel. Now, the war in Ukraine and skyrocketing food and fuel prices are pushing the country into deeper economic turmoil, political unrest, and violence.  


Today, Sri Lanka owes a staggering $50 billion to regional neighbors, like China, and international lending institutions, like the World Bank. And it isn’t the only country in this situation. Ray Suarez talks with Washington Post’s Gerry Shih, and Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, a Sri Lankan geopolitical analyst, to understand why–and how–nations like Sri Lanka accumulate foreign debt, what it means for everyday citizens …and why it can be so hard to pay back.




Gerry Shih, India bureau chief, Washington Post 


Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, senior fellow at the Millenium Project




Ray Suarez, co-host of WorldAffairs

Direct download: Sri_Lanka_Segment_for_podcast_feed_REV1.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 2:00am PST

"At the end of the day, he believed it would be too great a gift to the regime—too great a gift to Putin—if he stayed away."

Daniel Roher is the award-winning director behind "Navalny," a film that documents Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's journey from Germany to a Russian jail. Roher was given unprecedented access to Alexei Navalny while he was in Berlin recovering from an attempted assasination, searching for the Russian agents who tried to poison him, and eventually returning to Russia where he was inevitably imprisoned. 

"Navalny" offers an intimate portrait of the man intent on undoing Vladimir Putin and his ongoing search for justice. The film premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and is now streaming on HBO Max.


Daniel Roher, documentary filmmaker and director of "Navalny"


Ray Suarez, co-host of WorldAffairs

Direct download: NAVALNY_for_podcast_feed_REV1.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 2:00am PST

For the last century, Finland has walked a diplomatic tightrope between East and West. A former Russian imperial holding and Soviet target, the independent nordic nation boasts a free market economy, EU membership, and regional defense partnerships. Yet, Finland has previously stopped short of formally joining NATO, the West’s major military alliance–maintaining a pragmatic policy of forced neutrality along its 800-mile border with Russia. That is, until Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine.

How does a country survive the threat of Russian aggression? Ray Suarez talks with Henri Vanhanen, advisor to the Finnish National Coalition Party, about his country’s recent pivot toward NATO membership–both in parliament and the polls–and what it could mean for the future of international security. 


Henri Vanhanen, foreign policy and EU advisor for the Finland National Coalition Party

Ray Suarez, co-host of WorldAffairs

Finland 101, by Ray Suarez

Maybe you’ve noticed how often Finland comes up during the Ukraine coverage, and wondered why? Here’s a quick little history…a thousand pages in a few seconds.

For centuries, the Finns have had to thread their way, as a people, through the conflicts of other big powers in their part of the world. Ethnically and linguistically distinct…they’re not their Swedish neighbors to the west or their Russian neighbors to the east…but they had to fend off both to remain themselves.

For centuries Finland was fought for, or fought over, by Russians and Swedes. As the 20thcentury began, Finland was part of Czarist Russia…then the Czar abdicated and the Empire collapsed. The Finns flirted with Communism, and with monarchy, before becoming a republic with a new president in 1919.

Josef Stalin wanted Finland back for the USSR. The Soviets invaded, shortly after the Nazis bulldozed Poland in 1939. The Finns fought back ferociously. They inflicted heavy casualties. The Soviets eventually recognized Finland’s independence, signed a peace treaty, and permanently seized about a tenth of Finland’s territory, incorporating it into the USSR.

The Finns would remain independent, somewhat free of Soviet domination after the Second World War, but that freedom came at a cost. Finland gave up more territory, and population, and diplomatic freedom of movement. The country lived in a gray area between east and west during the Cold War. Its status even got a dismissive name…Finlandization, used to describe a forced neutrality, an expensive freedom. 

Finland had a market economy, democratically elected governments, freedom of speech, and growing prosperity….all the while staying aloof from the expanding European Union, and certainly NATO, the western military alliance.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, much as Czarist Russia did, Finland had an escape hatch… denounced its earlier treaties, joined the EU, adopted the Euro, but remained outside NATO, sharing an eight hundred mile border with the Russian Federation.

Direct download: Finland_for_podcast_feed.mp3
Category:News & Politics -- posted at: 2:00am PST