To The Point

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We’re trying to push for a unity government because even General Petraeus said the last thing we want is to be viewed in that part of the world as siding with the Shias again against the Sunnis.
Lawrence Korb, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Reagan administration, talking about Iraq on today’s To the Point.

Interview with Alexis Okeowo:

Two weeks ago, the Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 girls from a state school in a remote northern part of the country.

So far, the government hasn’t been able to rescue these teenagers and now there are rumors of the girls being forced into mass marriages with their captors.  

Alexis Okeowo, a freelance journalist based in Lagos, recently spoke with family members of the missing girls, as well as a few girls who escaped. Okeowo says the mass kidnapping is one of a series of attacks on schools and villages over the past five years by the jihadist group, which has vowed to combat Western education and other secular values. The government and military has largely turned a blind eye to these attacks, leading the families of the kidnapped girls to view with skepticism official statements describing an intense, ongoing search.

Hundreds of Nigerian women have begun daily protests in the capital city of Abuja, demanding the government make clear what’s being done to rescue the girls.

“Some parents I spoke to just couldn’t speak, they were so upset and so disappointed by the government,” Okeowo says. “They had tried themselves to go search for their girls, but it was too dangerous.”

A few of the teenagers who escaped soon after the kidnapping have reported they were forced to cook, clean, fetch water and firewood and do other tasks for the men, Okeowo says. Now, the missing students’ parents are hearing that they are being married off to the militants. Some reports specify that the girls, who are between 16 and 18 years old, are being sold for about $12 each.

“It’s difficult to know what exactly Boko Haram wants right now besides just creating fear and terror,” Okeowo said.

She described a conversation with a girl who escaped and is now tormented that her cousins and close friends are still captive. “All she’s doing is fasting and praying and thinking of them.”

(Photo Credit: Perdelsky/Wikimedia Commons)
More children than ever before are trying to cross the US-Mexico border, to escape violence back home, especially in Central America.

While the number of illegal bordering crossings is at a 40-year low, there has been a dramatic surge in the number of children being stopped by Border Patrol along the US Mexico border.

In fact, government officials estimate that in fiscal year 2014, which ends in Setpember, at least 60,000 children will be apprehended as they try to enter the country illegally. That’s 10 times the number of children stopped only three years ago.

Most of the children are from the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Most are fleeing the increasing gang violence and poverty that is plaguing their communities. Most are trying to reunite with a parent or a family member in the US.

Sonia Nazario is familiar with these stories. Her 2006 book, “Enrique’s Story,” which was based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning series Nazario wrote for the Los Angeles Times, was recently updated. It tells the story of Enrique, a Honduran boy who makes the dangerous trek alone to reunite with his mother in the US. “Many of these kids have no money to take this journey, so they do it the only way they can, which is gripping for dear life to the tops and sides of these freight trains travelling up the length of Mexico,” Nazario says. 

Nazario says jumping on and off those box cars isn’t the only dangerous part of these sorts of journeys. The Mexican drug cartels often control the tops of these trains, where the children ride. “They’re kidnapping 18,000 Central Americans every year, making their way north through Mexico and they prefer children,” Nozario explains. “These kids are carrying the number of a relative in the US and they can extort these relatives for money, for $3000 to $5000. And if you don’t pay, they’ll kill the children.”

Nazario says the trauma doesn’t stop there for many of the children — the ones who get caught. Once stopped by Border Patrol, the children areed in a detention center and, ultimately, must stand before an immigration judge.

Nazario recalls seeing a 3-year-old, clutching a teddy bear, standing before a judge without even a lawyer at the toddler’s side. Nazario is on the board of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a non-profit organization that has created a network of more 6000 lawyers who represent these children pro-bono.

KIND President Wendy Young says something must be done policy wise that recognizes these children as “Children first. Immigrants second”

This photo was taken at Santa Monica College early this morning. 

On Friday, a gunman killed 5 people during a rampage that culminated in a shootout at SMC, where KCRW and To the Point are headquartered. 

More here. 

Dramatic and tragic events continue to unfold in Boston last night and today. The FBI identified the two suspected Boston marathon bombers after they robbed a Seven Eleven store in Watertown, a Boston suburb. That led to a deadly gun battle, which left one of the suspects dead. The city is locked down and an enormous manhunt is underway for the second. Who are Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the two brothers believed to be Suspect 1 and Suspect 2? Does their Chechen background help explain their actions?

Reid Wilson, editor-in-chief of Hotline, the National Journal’s daily briefing on politics, talks to Warren about the political aftermath of the Newtown massacre and who the unlikely moderates are who have lined up in favor of new gun control laws.

After the election, will we continue to have a war of words, a stalemate between Republicans and Democrats, between the President and the Congress (no matter who’s President)? Or will there be a brief window where people say, “OK, OK, OK. The campaign’s over. Is there something we can do here so we don’t look like the complete laughing stalk?
From today’s TO THE POINT: David Wessel, Wall Street Journal economics editor and author of “Red Ink,” on the budget stalemate.
It’s sort of like giving yourself a haircut with a chainsaw.
From today’s TO THE POINT: Robert Zarate, of the Foreign Policy Initiative, talking about the dangers of the indiscriminate sequestration cuts to the defense budget.

KCRW’s To The Point is tumbling all things politics as the final days to the Election tick away. Throughout the month we’ll be broadcasting the Presidential Debates live on 89.9.

During tonight’s first debate we’re excited to be hosting a live web chat in real time.

Read along as To The Point producers and special guests Rachel Hastings, W. Kamau Bell, Ted Johnson, Joshua Trevino, and Farai Chideya weigh in with their opinions in real time on our Live Chat.

Have something to add? Tweet your own thoughts with the #KCRW hashtag‬.


Rachel Hastings
Rachel Hastings is an LA-based irreverent comedian and writer. Maybe she can be on hand to help us identify the ZINGERS?!

W. Kamau Bell

W. Kamau Bell is a comedian, activist and star of his own show on FX, “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.” He also writes a weekly column for The Washington Post analyzing President Obama’s actions, words and thoughts leading up to the Nov. 6 presidential election.

Ted Johnson
Ted Johnson covers the intersection of politics and entertainment for Variety & his cool website, So this pretty much makes him a perfect guest for KCRW’s LIVE CHAT.

Joshua Trevino
Josh Trevino is a Writer-at-Large for Texas Monthly, he is also a Co-Founder of We’re excited for his insightful analysis of both candidates.


Farai Chideya

Journalist, political analyst and the author of four books, Farai also hosted a series called Pop and Politics during the midterms! 

To the Point producers Katie Cooper, Gary Scott and Caitlin Shamberg will also be weighing in to keep the conversation going. 

The KCRW live chat is being hosted on BRANCH. A new conversation platform that we are pretty geeked over. 

To the Point team deep into their work at DNC.