News Updates

Breaking Points: 10/6/22 FULL UNCUT SHOW Russia-Ukraine war, OPEC oil production cut, Iran protests, Amazon warehouse fires, more

Krystal and Saagar analyze the Russia-Ukraine war, OPEC oil production cut, Iran protests, Amazon warehouse fires, Taylor Lorenz meltdown, Musk buying Twitter, victims of capitalism, & men dropping from the workforce!

Merch: Chicago Tickets:… Nicholas Eberstadt:…

Timestamps: Ukraine: 0:0037:15 OPEC: 37:1656:15 Iran: 56:161:05:25 Amazon: 1:05:261:11:55 Lorenz: 1:11:561:18:17 Saagar: 1:18:181:27:35 Krystal: 1:27:361:39:38 Nicholas Eberstadt: 1:39:391:55:19

According to bombshell reporting in The New York Times, Ukraine is responsible for the assassination of the daughter of prominent Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin. The Ukrainian government authorized a car bombing near Moscow that targeted Dugin himself before ultimately killing his daughter. It’s unclear who orchestrated the plot and signed off on it, and Ukrainian defense officials deny the NYT’s reports. American intelligence officials were not aware of the plot and their account corroborates findings by Russian authorities immediately following the attack. It signals a bold expansion of Ukraine’s covert operations in their war against Russia, currently escalating to serious nuclear threats by Russian President Putin. American officials have been leaking selective details of their Ukraine operations to The New York Times throughout the conflict. It is no accident that this report came out months after the murder and could indicate Ukraine will be carrying out another explosive attack on Russian soil. Nonetheless, the Biden administration will be sending $625 million of new military aid to Ukraine including key weapons, ammunition, and equipment. In total, the Biden administration has delivered $16.8 billion in military aid and vowed to continue supporting Ukraine in a phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky. Their newest offering contains four HIMARS, howitzers, artillery, mortar rounds, and small arms ammunition. All of these weapons have been crucial for the military success Ukraine has seen since the start of September.
The escalation of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia is generating nuclear threats not seen since the mid 20th century. Poland has approached the United States about nuclear weapons sharing as the possibility of Russia using a nuclear weapon on Ukraine grows. The small, eastern European nation has no nuclear stockpile of its own and a long history of being attacked by ambitious powers. The sharing can comprise anything from escorts for a mission to actively hosting an ally’s stockpile. All options are on the table and no specifics about the talks have been disclosed. Poland along with Estonia has been encouraging more active involvement from NATO allies in the war between Ukraine and Russia. The latter’s prime minister deemed Russia a terrorist nation and has ruled out diplomatic negotiations. If Ukraine is unable to secure its territory by the beginning of winter, Russia could begin to solidify its annexations in the southern and eastern parts of the country. The Ukrainians are hoping to capitalize on their momentum and continue their rapid territorial gains since September. The city of Kherson is a crucial test to gauge how extensive their gains will be in the southern region. It’s estimated that they could recapture the area by early November while the terrain becomes muddy ahead of the winter freeze. Moral, infrastructure, and logistical challenges have made it difficult for Russian forces to regroup. The shifts in terrain could give them an advantage in defending Russian gains towards the end of fighting season. If Ukraine continues to succeed in its counteroffensive, escalation by the Russians could reach even more dangerous levels.
In a major blow to the Biden administration, OPEC+ countries have agreed to major production cuts in an already tight oil market. They will reduce output by two million barrels per day and they are targeting a $100 price per barrel to compensate for global economic woes. Making this decision right before the midterms is being viewed by Democrats as an act of sabotage because it will lead to higher gas prices. Democrats slammed the move and called for retaliation against the OPEC powers led by Saudi Arabia. Congressman Ro Khanna deemed the Saudis a third rate power and Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy called for a re-evaluation of the Saudi relationship. The White House released a statement with a plan to consult Congress about the way to weaken OPEC’s power. One possibility would be repealing their immunity from antitrust legislation and challenging their function as a cartel. Americans across the political spectrum oppose continued arms sales to Saudi Arabia as part of less engagement in the Middle East. Rethinking the relationship with the Saudis could be a politically popular move with serious implications for American foreign policy moving forward. One alternative source for oil production being explored by the Biden administration is the Maduro regime in Venezuela. The Biden administration is preparing to loosen sanctions to allow Chevron the ability to pump oil there. In exchange, Maduro will move towards holding free elections with the opposition party in the country.
Protests against the Iranian regime have continued to reverberate across the country. A top Iranian official urged security forces to crack down on the movement he believes is destabilizing the country. Online videos have emerged of clashes between security forces and protestors in towns outside of Baghdad. Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to protest against the regime after a woman was killed while held in custody by the morality police. Demonstrations quickly shifted their aim to overthrowing the repressive regime and its clerical establishment. Iran has attributed the discontent to foreign meddling aimed at overthrowing the regime, without any evidence to back up their claims. The country’s middle class has been shrinking for the first time in a generation due to corruption and economic mismanagement. Urban middle class Iranians have been leading the demonstrations amidst 50% inflation and a weakening national currency.
Amazon has suspended 50 workers after they participated in a work stoppage during a fire in a Staten Island warehouse. The union workers stopped working due to safety concerns at the facility, which was unionized after a vote led by organizer Christian Smalls. They claim Amazon’s crackdown is intended to intimidate workers in Albany who will be voting in a union election in 10 days. The fire was caused by a compactor Staten Island workers say had smoke coming from it for months and was in desperate need of repair. More than 650 workers participated in the wildcat strike and marched to management’s office with demands during the fire. Amazon officials labeled the workers a “small group” who refused to work and remained in the building without permission. Other fires have been sprouting up at a warehouse in Alabama and in the Albany warehouse looking to unionize. It’s another demonstration of the company’s lack of concern for workplace safety and how it treats its workers. Amazon employees are beginning to push back against a company that views them as interchangeable widgets. After a couple of setbacks, union organizers will be closely watching the results in Albany.
Washington Post tech blogger Taylor Lorenz is at it again. She attacked a fellow columnist at the WaPo for suggesting that people need to stop being afraid of covid. WaPo columnist Helaine Olen lamented the few individuals who are still refusing to leave their home because of the virus. The subject came up because of radio shock jock Howard Stern’s first in person dinner with pals in two years. Lorenz called her colleague insensitive for her opinion and believes she is ignoring thousands of deaths per week. In addition, she claimed we have no drugs to prevent infection and immunocompromised people should not be attacked. Pundits online were quick to refuse Lorenz’s claims for a variety of reasons. First, it’s unclear whether the deaths she cites are caused by covid, or people happening to have the virus when they die. She does not refer to any data or studies to back up her claim. Second, she is tacitly downplaying the efficacy of covid vaccines in preventing death and severe covid symptoms. It is true that they do not prevent infection, but they make infection a much less severe ordeal. Third, covid vaccines and other therapeutics have been shown to substantially benefit immunocompromised individuals when they receive larger dosages. Fourth, Lorenz identifies herself with the immunocompromised yet has not disclosed what her condition is. She has not been transparent about her age or wealthy upbringing despite her prominence online.
On a related note, Saagar takes on the Twitter journalists freaking out about Elon Musk buying Twitter in his monologue. He believes it will not see a dramatic change in its censorship practices besides being less receptive to hysterical activists who claim speech is harm towards them. Elon will have to massively overpay for the platform and making it worth the investment is a titanic business operation. But the biggest losers from his presence are the growing niche of ‘disinformation’ experts online. Their job is to enforce current elite zeitgeist by pressuring tech companies into censoring opposition through pseudo-expertise and smear campaigns. Besides Taylor Lorenz, the worst online censorship enforcer is NBC News reporter Ben Collins. He threw a fit at the news because he believes it will affect the midterms. Musk will be able to oversee what gets recommended without oversight of the company. Collins admits that content moderation affects political outcomes, as shown by censoring the Hunter Biden laptop ahead of the 2020 election. But the liberals have been in charge, so they argued it’s a private company that can do whatever it wants. They are protecting users from bad information and anyone claiming they are affecting elections is a conspiracy theorist. Now that they are losing control, the mask has slipped because they might not like the electoral consequences. Woke activists are claiming a lack of censorship will be bad for minorities with word salads of buzzwords. On the flip side, it could be a gift to Democrats if racists and extremists return to twitter and expose themselves. Likewise, Donald Trump returning to the platform could remind people of his antics and put him at the forefront of news cycles again. People should be allowed to see this and make up their minds instead of censorship disappearing altogether. It’s better we know and dispute these ideas than hide them until people speak at the ballot box.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar converse about how twitter is a better place without Trump even though his antics showed where his priorities are. Elon buying twitter took the mask off liberals in favor of censorship and right wingers who have made noise about big tech censorship. Few people are principled in opposition to billionaire controlled media or censorship regimes and most want it to support their side. If we are to assume content moderation affects elections, democratic input is needed for all sides to have power over how the process works.
In her monologue, Krystal reacts to and expands on the comments by comedian Bill Burr about socialism and capitalism. He went viral for his response to a fan who complained about his sympathetic comments about socialism and Bernie Sanders. Burr mocked his fan for ignoring the ills of capitalism that resemble the problems with socialist regimes. Racist scapegoating, government surveillance, genocide and middle class destruction have all happened under capitalism as well. When we remove our blinders, we can see the ills of American society caused by capitalism. Without rewriting the history of authoritarian communism in the Soviet Union, we can acknowledge the problems of sell out politicians, 2008 financial crisis, lying media, warmongering, for profit healthcare, and other problems with American capitalism. Take the Victims of Communism museum here in DC, placed right next to a park with dozens of homeless people.
One clear example of the problem is the opioid crisis still ravaging middle America. The Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, pushed oxycontin as a non addictive painkiller with a rubber stamp from a regulator. They went on to hire the regulator after he left the government to reward him for his service. After they gained FDA approval, oxy began being sold to athletes and workers in pain who needed relief, especially in places suffering job losses from free trade. The Sacklers knew the drug was addictive and would be abused by patients. They responded by burying evidence and pushing the drug even harder than before. We ended up with the worst overdose crisis in American history once those addicted to oxy moved on to even more potent street drugs. The Sacklers are evil yet unremarkable creatures in a capitalist system designed to put money over lives. Many people and institutions were in on the opioid crisis from major companies to consulting firms. No drug cartel could have pulled off a scam quite like this. Blue chip corporations responsive to shareholders are even duty bound to chase profits whenever possible no matter how many die. Conservatives typically point to individual failings in situations like this. A few greedy executives, corrupt regulators, drug traffickers, and victims of addiction themselves. Individuals certainly have agency and should be held accountable, but overwhelming economic forces render most of us utterly powerless. Liberals are also wrong about the deplorables, karens, or toxic men being the problem with the system. It’s all capitalism and we can do better once the blinders come off.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar react to Burr’s comments and how annoying it is to continue litigating capitalism and socialism. We should focus on how Americans are doing in the mixed economy we live in. Personal responsibility is not enough and we have to debate between different levels of government intervention. America will always be a nation of freedom where people want to live decent lives. Focusing on economic theories obscures that fact and what we can all agree on– rejecting authoritarianism.
Krystal and Saagar are joined by economist Nicholas Eberstadt to better understand why American men are dropping from the workforce at record levels. He has been pointing out the problem for a few years and updated his assessment after the pandemic. Depression era employment rates for men of working age spotlight the collapse of work for modern American men. Six million men are neither working or looking for a job and they have been ignored by conventional employment metrics. Pandemic shutdowns and unemployment benefits during covid have inadvertently exacerbated the lack of men in the workforce as labor shortages become visible throughout the economy. When men once took pride in being working members of society, there was a current of alienation and isolation spreading among them. Across the past two generations, this invisible crisis has been building and has continued since Eberstadt first wrote about the problem in 2016. Instead of working or in school, the overwhelming majority of men are spending their time outside of civil society and they are not helping around the house. What they do is watch television and abuse drugs on their way to deaths of despair. What comes out of this crisis is slower economic growth, larger wealth gaps in society, more long term dependence on welfare, less mobility, fragile families, degraded institutional trust, and other serious problems. Starting in 1965, intertwined influences such as erosion of American families, expansion of welfare, and explosion of crime and punishment breaking families apart. No other country in the rich, democratic world has the plunge at the level of America, with Canada being the closest one. Solutions can start with acknowledging the crisis happening to a quiet segment of the country. Government policy can generate incentives for vocational training, work first principle in welfare, and programs for ex-cons to get them back into employment. Bringing men who have dropped out of the workforce is an incredibly difficult task even during the post pandemic labor market of job openings and rising wages. America can learn from history and philosophers about how humans need to be part of society to thrive.
Thank you for reading the Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar newsletter. We really appreciate your support allowing us to keep expanding the show. There will be weekend content in the meantime so be on the lookout!

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