Background Briefing: August 27, 2023

How NASA and the DoD Defer to Elon Musk Who Holds Ukraine’s Fate in His Hands While Buying What Putin is Selling

We begin with revelations in The New Yorker that Elon Musk has enormous leverage over the U.S. government, NASA, the Department of Defense and the country of Ukraine whose fate in this war for its survival in many ways is in the hands of a drug-addled, rightwing troll who his former business partner says has bought what Putin is selling hook, line and sinker. Joining us to discuss how the Pentagon defers to this mercurial billionaire is John Pike, one of the world’s leading experts on defense, space and intelligence policy. He is Director of, which is focused on innovative approaches to the emerging security challenges of the new millennium. Pike previously worked for nearly two decades with the Federation of American Scientists, where he directed the Space Policy, Cyberstrategy, Military Analysis, Nuclear Resource and Intelligence Resource projects.


How Much the U.S. is Helping and Hindering Ukraine’s War Effort

Then we speak with William Arkin, a Senior Editor at Newsweek and one of America’s premier military experts who has been a consultant to wide-ranging organizations, including the US Air Force, the United Nations Secretary General, Human Rights Watch, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The bestselling author of more than a dozen books including The Generals Have No Clothes: The Untold Story of Our Endless Wars, his latest book is On That Day: The Definitive Timeline of 9/11. We discuss his latest article at Newsweek, “How Ukraine is Crushing Russia’s Famed “God of War” Artillery” and how much the U.S. is both helping and hindering Ukraine’s war effort.


While Trump Gets Celebrity Treatment at the Atlanta Jail and Makes Money Out of His Mugshot, Inmates Inside Rot for Months Without Trial

Then finally we examine the double standard in American justice as Trump and his cohorts get celebrity treatment at Atlanta’s Fulton County Jail while inmates inside who can’t afford bail, rot for up to a year without trial. Joining us is Ekow Yankah, Professor of Law at the University of Michigan whose work focuses on questions of political and criminal theory and, particularly, questions of political obligation and justifications of punishment. His research focuses on Criminal Law and Theory, Political Theory, Policing, and Voting Rights. He also serves on the Executive Board of the Innocence Project and the American Constitution Society’s New York Chapter and his publications include A Paradox in Overcriminalization and Good Guys and Bad Guys: Punishing Character, Equality and the Irrelevance of Moral Character to Criminal Punishment.