Background Briefing: April 18, 2022


The Heartless and Vile Liar Alex Jones Tries to Avoid Paying the Parents of the Children Massacred at Sandy Hook

We begin with the latest dodge by the conspiracy-monger Alex Jones of InfoWars whose claims that the Sandy Hook massacre of kindergarten children was a hoax which added cruel insult to the  parent’s painful injury inflicted by Jones’s followers who harassed the parents to the point some had to go into hiding. Joining us to explore whether this purveyor of heartless and vile lies will have to pay judgements which he is trying to avoid by bogus bankruptcy moves is Anna Merlan, a journalist specializing in politics, crime, religion, subcultures, and women’s lives. A Senior Staff Writer at Vice Features, she was previously an investigative reporter for Gizmodo Media Group, a senior reporter at Jezebel and staff writer at the Village Voice and the Dallas Observer. She is the author of Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power and we discuss her latest article at Vice, “Sandy Hook Families May Not Buy InfoWars’ Sudden Bankruptcy Filing.”


How the U.S. Tax System is Making Inequality Worse

Then, now that average taxpayers have filed their taxes, we look into how the U.S. tax system is making inequality worse and speak with Paul Kiel, a reporter covering business and consumer finance for ProPublica with a focus on the IRS and its ability to administer the nation’s tax laws. He is the author of The Great American Foreclosure Story: The Struggle for Justice and a Place to Call Home and we discuss his latest investigation at ProPublica, The Secret IRS Files: America’s Highest Earners And Their Taxes Revealed and how incomes and tax rates of the 400 highest earning Americans from leaked IRS files reveals a system where the very highest earners, on average, pay far lower tax rates than the merely affluent do. And even among the top 400, some groups have it better than others with Tech billionaires paying rates well below other business owners.


Russian Nationalists and a Public Indoctrinated by Bloodthirsty Propaganda Want Putin to Destroy Ukraine

Then finally we get an update from Ukraine from Emily Channell-Justice, the Director of the Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program at the Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University. A sociocultural anthropologist who has been doing research in Ukraine since 2012, she joins us to discuss mounting pressure on Putin from nationalists and a public indoctrinated by bloodthirsty propaganda to destroy Ukraine and not negotiate with an enemy they are told are Nazis.