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Breaking Points: 8/2/22 FULL UNCUT SHOW FIXED The Pelosi trip to Taiwan, Ukraine war developments, primary elections tonight, more

Krystal and Saagar break down the Pelosi trip to Taiwan, Ukraine war developments, primary elections tonight, abortion referendum in Kansas, DeShaun Watson situation, anti-human social media, & the Forward Party freakout!

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Timestamps: Terrorist Dead: 0:0012:17 Pelosi: 12:1838:58 Ukraine: 38:5950:42 Primary Watch: 50:431:15:11 Abortion: 1:15:121:20:50 DeShaun Watson: 1:20:511:28:15 Saagar: 1:28:161:38:07 Krystal: 1:38:081:52:40

PELOSI
President Biden announced the death of Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri by a US drone strike. He was a confidant of Bin Laden and played a central role in planning 9/11 and other terrorist plots. A triumph for the United States, it demonstrates that counterterrorism operations can be successful without troops on the ground.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s diplomatic trip to Taiwan is causing concern internationally. Her visit has the potential to provoke retaliation from China and their People’s Liberation Army after Chinese officials sent warnings to the United States. President Biden and his advisors urged Pelosi not to make the trip; the first by a Speaker in 25 years. In preparation, the administration distanced itself from Pelosi in their talks with Chinese autocrat Xi Jinping last week. She did not officially include Taiwan on her itinerary of trips throughout Southeast Asia, but reports suggest she will hold meetings in Taipei, the island nation’s capital. The White House is worried a provocation and escalation could create an international crisis on the Taiwan strait. China’s threats have grown over the past few days, and military exercises by the PLA backed up their rhetoric. Fears of war breaking out in the Taiwan strait and further Chinese military activity have been mentioned by America and Chinese observers.
The Pentagon through spokesperson John Kirby believes Beijing is using the visit as a pretext to heighten military buildup. He also assured Americans that US policy towards Taiwan is unchanged, despite reports to the contrary. Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan and opposes all visits by US lawmakers. America has pursued a diplomatic strategy of ‘strategic ambiguity’ surrounding Taiwan since the Taiwan Relations Act was passed in 1979. This has enabled the US to support Taiwan without acknowledging its independence and ruining relations with China. Speculation has been abound that America is seeking to depart from strategic ambiguity after Biden made an informal promise to defend Taiwan. Since then, the administration has walked back Biden’s statements and reassured Chinese officials. The military will be protecting Pelosi on her visit, ensuring safe passage during her expedition.
UKRAINE
After Russia and Ukraine’s diplomatic agreement on grain exports was brokered by the UN and Turkey, it looked like a Russian strike sabotaged the deal. However, on Monday Ukrainian grain shipments departed from the Odessa port into the Black Sea for the first time since the war began. The grain carrier will head to Lebanon after completing inspections in Istanbul on Tuesday as per the agreement. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, particularly to the developing world, and an estimated 18 million tons are trapped in the country. The extended backlog will take months to clear out and Ukraine’s exports will still be at levels much lower than before the war began. Further, ships that have been loaded since the Russian invasion in February are expected to depart from Odessa in the coming days. The resumption of grain shipments to the world will be a major relief to the burgeoning global food crisis, and it will be a lifeline for the nation’s economy. The agreed upon deal will be in effect for 120 days with the option of being renewed, depending on if Russia is able to follow through with their commitment. This diplomacy between the warring nations to ensure grain exports so far has not translated to peace talks. War between the two in the Eastern Donbas region of Ukraine is ongoing, and the Ukrainians are looking to fight back against Russian forces in the Southern city of Kherson. The newly launched offensive in Ukraine has been gaining momentum in large part because of the western artillery sent by President Biden. Tensions caused by the war still remain high, prompting the UN to warn the world about the risks of nuclear weapons. In his remarks during non-proliferation discussions, a top UN official warned annihilation is still possible, a statement directed towards the US and its nuclear adversaries.
PRIMARY WATCH
Tuesday night will feature contested Republican and Democratic primaries across the country. Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington will have intriguing primaries in hotly contested races. The Arizona GOP Gubernatorial primary has been noted for poor candidate quality, especially because of its frontrunner Kari Lake. The former news anchor has peddled conspiracy theories and dramatically shifted her political views to secure Trump’s endorsement. Her opponent is the GOP establishment backed Karrin Taylor Robson who holds more conventional views. Trump endorsed GOP populist Blake Masters is projected to win the Arizona Senate primary to take on Mark Kelly. Other Trump backed candidates in Arizona’s AG race and House contests are likely to win as well. In Missouri, another contested GOP Senate primary is taking place. Donald Trump refused to endorse a candidate in the race, leaving it up to the voters to decide. The Democratic primary in Missouri is also highly contested, featuring populist candidate Lucas Kunce against an establishment backed moderate. Progressive Democrat Cori Bush is facing a primary in MO where she is likely to win. The same situation is faced by her colleague Rashida Tlaib in Michigan. The other Michigan Democratic primaries include one between two Democratic incumbents and another featuring large amounts of outside funds. On the GOP side, the Gubernatorial primary to face Gretchen Whitmer has been a mess because of widespread ballot fraud. Conservative media personality Tudor Dixon is projected to win that race after receiving Trump’s endorsement. Washington’s unique voting system makes their primaries more difficult to assess, but their Senate contest and a couple of Congressional elections will be worth keeping an eye on. Major themes in the primaries have been the power of Trump’s endorsement, ramifications of redistricting, and factional battles on the Democratic side.
ABORTION
The deep red state of Kansas will be holding a referendum on the right to an abortion. The first vote of its kind since Roe v. Wade was overturned, decisions on abortion will be made directly by voters. It means Kansas will be a battleground in the abortion fight for which it has received national attention. Following the SCOTUS decision, abortion fights have returned to the states, galvanizing national groups on both sides of the issue. On the primary ballot is a state constitutional amendment to declare there is no right to an abortion in Kansas. It would not outright ban abortion though it would blaze the path for the state legislature to do so. Right now, the state has abortion restrictions after 22 weeks of pregnancy alongside limits to clinics and patients. Compared to other conservative states, Kansas’ abortion restrictions are lenient, in part because of a 2019 state Supreme Court ruling that held up the right to an abortion. Kansas is one of the only states in the south where abortion remains legal for a substantial period of time. Out of state patients from neighboring conservative states have flocked to Kansas to have desired procedures. Liberal activists are holding onto hope that the unpopular, fringe positions of the GOP give them a fighting chance in the conservative bastion. The pro-life and pro-choice activists have been focusing on voter turnout as much as persuasion to ensure people make their voices heard.
DESHAUN WATSON
Star NFL Quarterback DeShaun Watson has received a six game suspension from the league after settling around 30 lawsuit pertaining to sexual assault. The allegations were primarily from massage therapists he solicited during his tenure with the Houston Texans, where he became a prolific gunslinger. The punishment is extremely light compared to NFL suspensions of other players for gambling and marijuana usage. Watson sat out the entirety of last season to handle legal troubles and wait for the Texans to trade him to a more competitive franchise. Watson’s stardom had powered the Texans to multiple playoff appearances before major personnel losses weakened the roster. He ended up being traded to the Cleveland Browns who were in need of a QB after mediocre performances from former top pick Baker Mayfield. After the trade they granted Watson a $230 million extension, and the contract was structured to ensure Watson would hardly lose any of it during a suspension. No consequences for the Houston Texans who enabled Watson’s behavior throughout his time with the franchise.
SAAGAR
Saagar’s monologue today focuses on the death of social media as shown by Instagram’s update to copy TikTok. The hallmark of the update was taking over the screen of the user and flooding it with recommendations instead of choices by the user. TikTok is destroying Instagram with teenagers and time on the app so the platform could do nothing but copy their competitor. It is a distressing development, in part because it transparently shows how the user in social media is the production. Your experience on the app does not matter, it’s all about how much time you spend on it. The more time you spend, the more data is obtained, sold, and used by advertisers. On this social media format, TikTok and its supercharged algorithm has won the day. It is not a coincidence that Instagram announced their sweeping update at the same time Facebook suffered a revenue drop for the first time since it went public. They were hit specifically in the advertising business with possibly more revenue losses to come. TikTok’s numbers have been quite different; on track to triple revenue this year. The platform surpassed Instagram as the most downloaded app in 2022. According to internal data, Instagram is losing dramatically with younger users because of the TikTok algorithm. The depressing part is that TikTok destroys the social aspect of social media and makes it another media company. What you decide to follow is not a good predictor of what you will like tomorrow. Humans are imperfect and the algorithm is better at choosing what you’d like, which kills the genesis of social media. People could share photos or random thoughts for fun without worrying about how it will affect their future. Turns out the social aspect of connecting with friends has become detrimental to the business model, setting aside TikTok’s China question. If you want to discover new content, the recommendation algorithms can be a useful tool. But sometimes a mix is important and the human elements of the platforms do matter. After widespread outrage from Kylie Jenner, Kim Karshashian, and millions of users the platform walked back its update. The update from Instagram will be a harbinger of the future of social media, and platforms will keep figuring out ways to remove individual control of what they see. It does not matter whether we like it or not, because at the end of the day users have little control over these platforms.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar talk about how the recommendation algorithm is prominent on YouTube as well. It removes control from the creator over their own destiny, and it makes surface level metrics like subscriptions irrelevant. Their content decisions are not about what you like, it’s about what keeps you angry and on the platform. Enjoying the experience does not matter if the negative emotions keep users engaged, and that is what matters for tech companies.
KRYSTAL
In her monologue, Krystal offers her perspective on Andrew Yang’s new political party and the liberal freakout about it. Called the Forward Party, Yang’s launch was announced with two former Republican lawmakers who have cashed in after their political careers. They believe America is lacking a party for the common sense majority and that both parties have catered to radicals. But the Democratic party has not been too radical–instead it fails to deliver on basic campaign promises. The moderate middle is in favor of Democrats’ promises on economics to expand healthcare, tax corporations, raise the minimum wage, and bolster social security. These positions are not included when chasing a constantly moving center between both parties. They believe we need to find a sensible middle on flashpoint cultural issues and climate change. But the moderate wing of the Democratic party has already staked out these positions, as shown by their recent legislation. A lack of commentary on economic positions is the real problem with the Forward Party, and they are unlikely to tackle corruption when their leaders are benefitting from it. On electoral reforms, the Forward Party offers specific and beneficial policies such as ranked choice voting, open primaries, ending gerrymandering, and voting rights. These efforts would create the space for more vibrant third parties that lack the grift operations of the two entrenched ones.
The Forward Party launch has generated a meltdown from liberals online. At once the Forward Party will be a tremendous failure and devastating for the Democrats according to them. A Biden surrogate insisted the Forward Party was a vanity project, and that the political system should not have any added choices. Vote for Democrats to protect democracy, but do not use your right to vote on anybody else. Their fear mongering is the only play for liberals whose grift and incumbent protection racket could fall apart if there are more options. Dems are not interested in appealing to voters, rather they just scare everyone about the Republicans. The worse Republicans become, the more incentive it gives Democratic elites to rely on this playbook. But if it does not work, the party is never to blame for its failures and a scapegoat is always around the corner. Yang believes the party could make a genuine breakthrough in creating space for third parties to reform the political system.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar issue their criticism of the Forward Party and the way liberals reacted to the announcement. It is an innovative project that deserves real analysis instead of being paranoid about siphoning a small share of votes. Blaming voters is never the right way to go, as Democrats did with the Green Party in 2016, and instead they should hold themselves accountable. They have fought to get the Greens off the ballot in North Carolina, and Democrats frequently wax poetic about democracy despite their actual contempt for the democratic process. This story is about Democrats’ insecurity about any third party and their refusal to make the case to voters about why to support them.
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