Background Briefing: April 18, 2024


A View From Ukraine as the Fate of Their Country Hangs in the Hands of Mike Johnson and Marjorie Taylor Greene

We begin with Speaker Johnson promising the Ukraine aid bill will be on the House floor on Saturday as the far-right Republican pro-Putin caucus intensifies their threats against him. We go to Ukraine to discuss how Ukrainians feel about the small minority obstructing the flow of desperately needed arms and ammunition as at least 31,000 of their soldiers have died defending their country from Putin’s invasion, a death toll which US intelligence suggests is more like 70,000. Joining us is Illia Ponomarenko, a Ukrainian journalist known as a former defense and security reporter at The Kyiv Post and subsequently a co-founder of The Kyiv Independent. He has covered the war in eastern Ukraine since the conflict’s earliest days, as well as Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. He has also had deployments to Palestine and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as an embedded reporter with UN peacekeeping forces. He won the Alfred Friendly Press Partners Fellowship and was selected to work as USA Today’s guest reporter at the U.S. Department of Defense. We discuss his new book, out next month, I Will Show You How It Was: The Story of Wartime Kyiv.


Jurors Quit the Trump Trial as the Criminal Defendant Tests the Gag Orders

Then with two seated jurors now quitting the New York Trump trial as the criminal defendant defies the gag order, posting wild accusations against the jurors and testing the patience of the judge, we speak with Scott Horton is a professor at Columbia Law School and is a contributing editor at Harper’s in legal affairs and national security. He serves on the American branch of the International Law Association, and has represented a variety of journalists and whistleblowers.  


As Billionaires Try to Kill the NLRB, the UAW Makes Gains in the South

Then finally we look into how Musk and Bezos, two of the richest men in the world, along with Starbucks’s billionaire Schultz and Albrecht family that own Trader Joe’s, are trying to destroy unions by getting rid of the NLRB that has protected workers since the 1930’s. Joining us is Steven Greenhouse, a Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation who was previously a reporter for The New York Times where he covered labor and the workplace for nineteen years. He is the author of The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker and Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor, and we discuss his latest articles at The Guardian, “Trader Joe’s and Starbucks are helping Elon Musk undermine the US government” and “‘Victories would be nothing less than an earthquake’: Can UAW win in the south?