Krystal and Saagar cover the Pelosi attack, midterm polls, Ukraine grain deal, Twitter shakeup, Brazil elections, Obama’s return, UFO report, & government censorship online!
Ken Klippenstein: https://theintercept.com/2022/10/31/s…
Timestamps: Paul Pelosi: 0:00 – 24:39 Midterms: 24:40 – 38:16 Ukraine: 38:17 – 47:59 Twitter: 48:00 – 1:06:54 Brazil: 1:06:55 – 1:15:47 Krystal: 1:15:48 – 1:24:47 Saagar: 1:24:48 – 1:33:10 Ken Klippenstein: 1:33:11 – 1:48:14
10/31 NEWSLETTER: Pelosi Attack, Midterm Races, Twitter Shakeup, Brazil Elections, & More!
Welcome to the October 31st, 2022 Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar premium newsletter. We wish you all the best on this Halloween night if you have not already celebrated this year.
We appreciate you bearing with us as we got everything sorted out on Friday morning. There was a glitch on Supercast that involved the YouTube link to the Counter Points show. Thankfully, we were able to get it resolved and get the show to you earlier than usual. Please email my associate firstname.lastname@example.org
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The husband of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was assaulted
in his home at approximately 2:30AM PST on Friday morning by a suspect wielding a hammer. The man’s name is David Depape and his motive has not been identified. Paul Pelosi was immediately sent to the hospital for treatment and should make a full recovery from serious injuries he suffered. In a statement
, Nancy Pelosi expressed her horror at the attack by a man who was reportedly searching for her. Soon after, the details
of the attack by Depape and his background began to come out. He is a 42 year old Berkeley resident who forced his way into the home through a back entrance. Officers were apparently let into the front door of the home by an unknown person when they arrived on the scene. Later on, police clarified
that there were two people in the home, not three, and Paul Pelosi had no personal contact with Depape prior to the assault. Cops were alerted to the situation after Pelosi called 911 secretly
so the intruder would not know and the physical struggle with Depape was heard by the dispatcher. Pelosi told the intruder he needed to use the bathroom, enabling him to step away and obtain his phone. Police praised dispatcher Heather Grimes for her quick thinking and her institution to figure out what was going on. When Depape entered the home, he went up to Pelosi’s bedroom and asked for Nancy. He was holding a bag
containing multiple zip ties, duct time, the hammer he used on Pelosi, and other items. He faces charges of attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary, and other felonies in association with the attack.
While no official motive has been stated, Depape’s extensive online history
has been uncovered in the past few days. On his blog, he posted conspiracy theories about QAnon, the 2020 election, covid vaccines, pizzagate, and other outlandish claims associated with the far-right. He posted antisemitic rants about the Holocaust and other bigoted commentary. Depape’s personal life
involved limited connections to his family due to mental illness and drug addiction. Comments from friends indicate he used hard drugs and had illusions of seeing angels. He spent time as a nudist making hemp in a Berkeley home with a Black Lives Matter flags and a pride flag with marijuana on it. The home is an encampment where psychedelic drug usage is common by people who come and go. Older social media posts
and descriptions of Depape by friends show a person with radical left wing politics that were secondary to struggles with drug induced psychosis. Other theories about Depape that are unproven spread around social media and were amplified by Elon Musk is a tweet reply
to Hillary Clinton. With the fast moving nature and extensive media coverage of this story, all of the latest details will be covered on this show.
CBS News’ Battleground Poll
published yesterday shows Republicans in a strong position to take back the majority in the house. With a week to go, CBS puts Republicans at 228 seats in their baseline model compared to 207 for Democrats. It would be a 15 seat gain for the GOP, and more than what CBS summer projections had for them. About eight in ten Americans feel like things in America are out of control, as opposed to under control, according to CBS. Their polls show
those more concerned about the economy are backing Republicans, while those more concerned about democracy are backing Democrats. Likewise, just over half of voters believe gas prices
will go up under Democrats compared to only 21% for a GOP congress. On crime, Republicans have a 16 point lead
in making people feel safer, and 53% of voters believe
Democrats will try to cut police funding if they win. Voters also believe Democrats would pass a national abortion law, open the southern border, and increase social security benefits. These figures are a reflection of how GOP’s crime and immigration messaging have been effective against Democrats. The Dems’ messaging on abortion has widely caught on, but less so on other issues. Center-left election prediction site Fivethirtyeight
puts the senate at a dead heat, compared to a two thirds chance Democrats would hold at the beginning of the month. Betting markets are responding accordingly
, and favor the GOP to take the senate for the first time in two months. It is hard to quantify the sampling of political betting markets, but they have been more accurate than pollsters in prior elections.
The deal between Russia and Ukraine to allow for peaceful grain exports from Ukraine to the world quietly collapsed
over the past few days. Russia suspended its participation in the agreement after an attack on the occupied Black Seat port of Sevastopol they blamed on Ukraine. They allege ships involved in securing the grain corridor had come under attack, resulting in Russia suspending its participation. Russia’s foreign ministry claims Ukraine had been using the cover of a humanitarian corridor to launch massive air and sea strikes, jeopardizing the safety of civilians on the cargo ships. The ministry’s spokeswoman claimed that terrorists supported by Zelensky had connections to the British government, which the UK furiously denies. France condemned Russia’s allegations as well, saying they are a distraction from Russia’s brutality. The grain agreement was a key diplomatic breakthrough back in July that was set to expire in the middle of November. UN Chief Antonio Guterres had been urging the two sides to renew the agreement before its expiration date. Ukraine is determined to continue providing the world with grain, a spokesperson said, and they say Russia’s claims are a false pretext to sabotage the deal. President Biden responded to the news by condemning Russia’s withdrawal during his time early voting for the midterms. Ramifications of the agreement ending are stark; food prices could skyrocket and millions in the developing world could go hungry.
In the UK, an investigation into a hack
of former Prime Minister Liz Truss’ phone is underway. It happened during her campaign to become Prime Minister but the news was suppressed. Her communications with foreign officials about the Ukraine war and other matters were intercepted. How the hack happened is unknown and unverified reports have placed the blame on agents working for Russia.
Elon Musk’s takeover of twitter is shaking up the company. Questions about online censorship and permissible speech prompted Musk to announce the formation of a council
to figure out content moderation. He tweeted that the council will have diverse viewpoints and no major content decisions will happen before it convenes. Already, Musk has ordered job cuts
throughout the company after he quickly fired executive leadership once his acquisition became official. The top executives were fired “for cause” in an attempt to avoid costly payouts
in severance and stock awards. Reasoning for the cause is unknown but it likely involves content moderation efforts by the old leadership. Depending on where one falls on the political spectrum, the reaction to Musk’s acquisition has either been childlike jubilation or dread about more speech permissions. Media liberals on MSNBC and elsewhere have led the hysterics, with a guest hitting at Elon for weaponizing
human nature. These comments were part of a segment where the host and guest try to distinguish between free speech as written in the first amendment and hate speech as they define it.
On Sunday, Brazil’s runoff election between left wing former President Lula Da Silva and hard right President Jair Bolsonaro took place. Results came in
last night demonstrating a 51-49 victory for Lula first reported by Brazilian press and then other western outlets. During the voting process, journalists sounded the alarm about efforts by Bolsonaro and his supporters to suppress the vote
on election day. The plot involving highway police officers had been figured out ahead of time by the Bolsonaro campaign. It appears to have failed, and Lula posted a triumphant message on twitter to celebrate his return to office. Previously, Breaking Points
covered the first round of voting with Brazilian-American journalist Glenn Greenwald in the link below. Greenwald noted that polling errors caught Brazil off guard in the first round of voting and Bolsonaro’s party performed well in down ballot elections. Greenwald’s reporting on judicial abuses in a corruption probe against Lula as part of a larger operation enabled Lula to be freed from prison. He has pointed out how Lula’s policy towards Ukraine goes against
the Biden administration and criticizes the United States. His antagonistic relationship with the west and views on the war represent many nations in the Global South. Nonetheless, western nations quickly accepted Lula’s election and sent congratulations his way. Bolsonaro has not accepted the election results and it remains to be seen what he does from here on out.
In her monologue, Krystal gives her thoughts on Barack Obama’s return to the campaign trail ahead of the midterms. He went to bat for Democrats in five crucial states as their midterm hopes fade away. His political talent was on display in his Wisconsin speech
where he leaned into economic messaging more than Democrats have nationally. Obama hit Republicans for their stated plans to cut social security and cut taxes on the rich. He delivered more effective abortion messaging than the national party as a follow up. Obama is not offering anything substantially different, just much better packaging. The real trick and talent of Obama was his ability to paper over the fact that his politics were the same as the status quo. He wrapped up the dying carcass of neoliberalism in a glorious package and somehow managed to make people feel inspired by it right up until the point where they unwrapped that package and found that it was the same old bankrupt ideology inside. Since then, Democrats have tried to pull the Obama maneuver again and again with pale imitators propped up by the media. At this point, it would be hard for Obama’s most effective imitator to pull off what he did in 2008, and then there’s our current president.
Biden is going back to the basement strategy
that he used to win the presidency in 2020. The belief is that you can succeed if you make the election about something other than yourself. Biden is avoiding the swing states besides Pennsylvania and recently appeared to tout the doomed Charlie Crist campaign for governor. It’s no accident that America elected Biden who predates the neoliberal era and still has some new deal instincts in him. Despite his lack of rhetorical skill, Biden has been better than Obama on policy matters. On China, trade, unions, anti-trust, and industrial policy he has taken tentative steps towards rebuilding the nation. It feels too little too late, with the policy not being bold enough and the messenger not being persuasive. Once the midterms come around, Biden will lose his position as a bulwark against Republicans because he beat Trump. Democrats’ gerontocratic leadership will be contested and the party will regret that Obama focused more on his personal brand than significant policy changes.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar give their thoughts on the lack of talent from the current Democratic bench. If Democrats do suffer big losses on election night, Biden will face real questions about his future as the leader of the party. Obama was a generational talent who barely won and faced massive defeats in midterm elections. Social trends under Obama exploded when he was forced off the scene because of term limits. With Joe Biden, he’s the last gasp of an old era and barely squeaked it out in the unique 2020 circumstances. Democrats other prospects look even more bleak than Joe and the elites know it.
Saagar revisits the topic of UFOs in the context of a new Pentagon report coming out on the situation. For context, it’s worth revisiting the origins of the UFO pressure campaign reaching the mainstream. A 2017 New York Times
story featured three videos showing objects observed by US aircraft moving in ways physics cannot explain. Intense debate erupted from those videos and they caused pilots to come out about what they saw in the air. Leaks began dropping from the Pentagon and eventually Congress demanded the Pentagon deliver a report on it in June of 2021. It was only a nine page report but it forced the US government to concede
that in at least 18 instances, UFOs demonstrated advanced technology. The objects were not part of a government program and zero information indicated they were human technology. At the time Saagar observed
how the media and Pentagon spun the results to say the report found no evidence of alien technology. But it found no evidence that the technology was not alien either. Journalists have an interest cozying up to power and the Pentagon has an interest in not being transparent, which forms the coverage. Some members of Congress were not fooled
and demanded much more from the 2022 version of the report. A provision in the new defense bill requires the Pentagon to compile number 1, all reported UFO related events that occured in a 1 year period number 2. all reported UFO related events that were not reported in the previous june 2021 report and 3 an analysis of data and intel through each reported event. They also require Congress on incidents that may indicate foreign technology and what the military is doing to collect data on any future events. Congress is demanding a lot more from the Pentagon and today is the due date for the 2022 report. Right before the report, The New York Times published a planted leak in the Pentagon downplaying
any UFO sightings. They blame any UFO sightings on Chinese spy drones that are not super technologically advanced yet have been able to spy on the US military. The Pentagon is trying to make people lose interest in the subject and maintain the stigma around taking it seriously. Perhaps they do not want to admit they can’t keep China from spying on us, or perhaps they are hiding something more. All we can do is keep pressing.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar ask questions about what the Pentagon is hiding about UFOs and how the media coverage can distort narratives around them. Government agencies could be covering up the unknown objects flying around or they could be hiding the extent of foreign spying on the United States, it’s hard to know.
Krystal and Saagar are joined by Breaking Points
collaborator and journalist for The Intercept Ken Kippeinstein. His scoop today is big enough to put in the full show instead of The Intercept segments he does for the show. Documents obtained by The Intercept reveal the Department of Homeland Security’s expansive efforts
to monitor and influence tech platforms that go well beyond the Disinformation Governance Board scrapped earlier this year. Now that the War on Terror mandate for DHS is winding down, the agence has taken monitoring social media to be its new mandate. Behind closed doors, the agency has been pressuring private platforms to try to shape online discourse. Discussions have ranged from the scale and scope of government intervention in online discourse to streamlining takedown requests for perceived misinformation. Government officials fear that subversive information spread online could undermine their support. Tech companies deny coordination with the government, but there is now a formal process for the government to flag information and request it be suppressed. Facebook has a special portal that requires a government or law enforcement email to use for content requests. DHS’s mission to fight perceived misinformation began with concerns about Russian influence over the 2016 election and took shape ahead of the 2020 election. They targeted a wide range of topics from covid origins, vaccine efficacy, the withdrawal from Afghanistan, racial justice, and support for Ukraine. How information is categorized as disinformation by the government is unclear, and the subjective nature of it gives the government wide authority to police speech online. DHS claims terrorist threats can be worsened by perceived disinformation online, but this laudable goal is easily subject to politicized maneuvering. It’s not clear how much DHS initiatives have altered social media feeds, but it appears tech companies accepted requests to throttle information 35% of the time. Prior to the 2020 election, tech firms had been meeting with the government on a monthly basis for an ongoing elections initiative. This started in 2018 under the Trump administration, much to the dismay of the president at the time. A DHS subagency tasked with critical infrastructure has conducted most of the work and coordinated with other US intelligence agencies. Emails demonstrate the focus on disinformation has grown under President Biden from foreign governments to domestic actors. FBI agents involved in getting the Hunter Biden laptop story taken down from twitter are still playing a role in domestic information control operations. Former twitter executive Vijaya Gadde, who also played a key role in censoring the Hunter Biden story, drafted a report calling for the agency to expand its role in shaping the information ecosystem. They argued the agency should halt the spread of false or misleading information by researching the effectiveness of certain platform interventions. By publicizing the Disinformation Governance Board, the Biden administration gave the public a window into what the DHS has been doing. Immediate public backlash led to the board’s termination, although most of the work in platform control is happening behind the scenes. Other government agencies are also expanding the scope of their efforts to counter perceived disinformation on a lesser scale than DHS. Unlike other agencies, DHS has made countering so-called disinformation its primary mandate going forward, which could have serious ramifications for speech online.
Thank you for reading the Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar premium newsletter. Tune in tomorrow for the next full show and get ready for election season!