Musk’s Starlink a National Security Liability - The Monday AM Quickie 7/31/23

Honest Abe Lincoln never had to pass the bar exam. Back in the day, apparently, you just had to have a certificate of “good moral standing” from the court to practice law. - Robert

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Ukraine Faces Headaches Over Dealings with Musk’s Satellites; Taiwan Steers Clear

With over 50 percent of all active satellites in the night sky, Starlink is largely unavoidable in the realm of satellite-internet technology. That fact is leaving national security officials in many nations with headaches as they see Starlink’s owner, Elon Musk, as a wildcard with uncertain loyalties, according to a Friday report from the New York Times.

Ukraine has had a particularly mercurial relationship with Musk :

...Mr. Musk has restricted Starlink access multiple times during the war, people familiar with the situation said. At one point, he denied the Ukrainian military’s request to turn on Starlink near Crimea, the Russian-controlled territory, affecting battlefield strategy. Last year, he publicly floated a “peace plan” for the war that seemed aligned with Russian interests.

Despite this, Ukraine has become completely dependent on Starlink, with its digital minister Mykhailo Fedorov telling the Times that it is the “blood” of their entire communication infrastructure.

Taiwan won’t have anything to do with Starlink because of Musk’s business dealings with China, per the Times:

Taiwanese officials had spoken with SpaceX about Starlink, said Jason Hsu, a former Taiwan legislator who advises the government on digital infrastructure. But talks slowed partly because of “tremendous concerns” about Mr. Musk, whose financial interests are tied to China, he said. With roughly 50 percent of new Tesla cars estimated to be manufactured in Shanghai, Taiwan did not trust Mr. Musk to provide Starlink access if Beijing applied pressure to turn off the service, he added.

Musk is also busy giving the citizens and city officials of San Francisco migraines with the obnoxiously bright and strobing X-logo he’s placed on Twitter HQ.

To quote his fellow narcissist, anti-semite Kanye West, who Musk let back onto Twitter Sunday, “No one man should have all that power.”

Regional Powers in West Africa Threaten Military Action in Niger to Restore Government Overthrown in Coup

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), led by Nigeria, have threatened military action if the democratically elected government overthrown in Niger is not restored within a week, according to the Financial Times. President of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, was imprisoned by his own presidential guard. General Abdourahmane Tiani, head of the guard, has declared himself leader of the country. Thousands of pro-coup protesters attacked The French embassy in Niger’s capital Niamey, breaking windows and setting fires, according to NBC News. (France had colonized Niger for much of the 20th century, and holds neocolonial sway there today.) Many of the protesters were carrying Russian flags, and some replaced an embassy plaque with a Russian and Nigerien flag. The Wagner group may be involved as its propaganda machine has been in “overdrive” since the coup occurred, per FT. Wagner chief Prigozhin has stated that his sights are set for Africa, where the group has been active before, so their involvement wouldn’t be that much of a stretch. France has suspended development aid and the EU is suspending security operations, according to AlJazeera. France still has 1,500 troops stationed in Niger, and the U.S. has 1,000 plus a drone base. It’s unclear as of now if there are plans to evacuate western military personnel.

I will say it’s frustrating that the available coverage in English-language media is solely focused on the geopolitical aspect of the story, and nothing at all about the people of Niger. I’ll keep my eye out for more detailed coverage as the situation develops.

Mississippi Jails Mental Health, Substance Use Disorder Patients, Without Them Ever Having Committed a Crime

A ProPublica and Mississippi Today investigation found that Mississippi was the only state that regularly jails mental health and substance use disorder patients who have been ordered into treatment, a process called civil commitment. Hundreds are jailed every year in Mississippi as a result of this mandated “treatment,” per ProPublica and Mississippi Today:

The news organizations examined jail dockets from 19 Mississippi counties — about a quarter of the state’s 82 — that clearly marked bookings related to civil commitments. All told, people in those counties were jailed at least 2,000 times for civil commitments alone from 2019 to 2022. None had been charged with a crime.

Some of the patients interviewed said they weren’t provided their prescribed psychiatric medications and had minimal medical care from withdrawal. At least 13 people awaiting treatment for mental illness or substance use disorder have died in Mississippi jails since 2006 – ten of whom were never charged with a crime. Nine of the 13 committed suicide.


  • Judge Blocks Arkansas Law Allowing Criminal Charges on Librarians For Providing ‘Harmful’ Material  Put another “L” in the column for would-be censors. via Politico.
  • 44 Killed by Suicide Bombing at Political Rally in Pakistan Initial investigations suggest an ISIS attack, but no terrorist group has claimed responsibility yet. via AlJazeera.
  • Judge Tosses Out Trump’s Defamation Lawsuit Against CNN Trump alleged in his ​​$475 million defamation suit that CNN’s coverage of Trump’s attempt to lie to overthrow the U.S. election made him seem like a Nazi. Well, if the shoe fits. via Axios.
  • Private Equity-Backed ER Operator With Locations in 18 States Shutting Down Doctors found out that they might not be getting paid for the month of June. via the American Prospect.


48 percent

That’s how much hearing aides can reduce the risk of cognitive decline for adults at high risk of dementia, according to a new study. via the Washington Post.


7/31: Happy Monday! Sam and Emma speak with Meron Rapoport, editor of Local Call, to discuss the recent passage of  Prime Minister Netanyahu's proposed judicial reforms through the Knesset, its challenges before the Supreme Court, and the unrest that's resulted.


American Doctor Describes The Absolute Nightmare That Is Private Health Insurance

It’s a nightmare for providers as well as patients.

WGA Strike Captain Gives Update From The Picket Line

This executive producer on a hit show was driving for Lyft to make ends meet.


"I guarantee you, we will not be focusing on climate change."

-- Scott Perry (R-PA), chair of the subcommittee responsible for federal response to natural disasters. Meanwhile, climate change will be focusing on creating natural disasters for him to respond to. via E&E Daily.

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