Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Elon Musk responded to calls for supporting the Ukrainian cause by donating thousands of Starlink satellite units to the country. In essence, the move provided free internet to areas where the commodity was inaccessible via a satellite internet constellation built by Musk’s SpaceX.
According to an excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s new biography Elon Musk, the entrepreneur ordered Starlink’s services near the Crimean coast be switched off last year, disrupting a Ukrainian sneak attack on Russian warships, thus avoiding what Musk labels a “mini-Pearl Harbor.”
“How am I in this war? Starlink was not meant to be involved in wars. It was so people can watch Netflix and chill and get online for school and do good peaceful things, not drone strikes,” Musk told Isaacson.
In a since deleted tweet, Zelensky advisor Mykhailo Podolyak wrote that “a result [of Starlink’s supposed deactivation is that] civilians, children are being killed. This is the price of a cocktail of ignorance and big ego.”
Now Musk claims that “the Starlink regions in question were not activated,” suggesting that what really occurred was his refusal to make his company an accomplice in a major escalation.
“There was an emergency request from government authorities to activate Starlink all the way to Sevastopol. The obvious intent being to sink most of the Russian fleet at anchor. If I had agreed to their request, then SpaceX would be explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation,” Musk responded.
–Juan P. Villasmil
On our radar
BUSH LIGHT Addressing a conference in Kyiv over video, George W. Bush described Volodymyr Zelensky as “a tough dude… a real Texan.” The 43rd president was born in Connecticut.
GERONTOCRACY WATCH #1 Nancy Pelosi announced her intention to run for another term in Congress. The former House speaker represents San Francisco and will turn eighty-four next year.
GERONTOCRACY WATCH #2 Vermont senator Bernie Sanders turned eighty-two today — but as this reflex catch off his grandson suggests, the former presidential candidate still has a few tricks up his sleeve:
Are you ready for President Kamala?
Vice President Kamala Harris assured the American people Thursday that she is “ready” to be president if the time comes for her to step in, striking fear in the hearts of every American. To be fair, Harris also said that Biden will be “just fine” — the same words I would use to describe a gas station taquito. Harris’s approval rating is somehow worse than the president’s, with an NBC News poll finding that only 32 percent of Americans have a positive view of her. And her comments on succeeding Biden will certainly make a nice campaign ad for the eventual GOP nominee.
Meanwhile, California governor Gavin Newsom attempted to end speculation that he might run as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate instead of Biden. He insisted to Chuck Todd he believes that Biden is going to run for another term, and that if he doesn’t, the honors for next in line should go to the aforementioned least popular VP in history. Harris is “naturally the one lined up,” Newsom said. That might be the tenor now, but it’s easy to imagine that calculus changing if and when Harris, who has no tangible achievements as VP and is tethered to the failures of the Biden administration, steps up the plate.
Will Trump stop using reelection money on legal bills?
Donald Trump is in the process of setting up the Patriot Legal Defense Fund, a fund to help pay off legal bills for him and his co-defendants in the four indictments he is facing, according to a report in the Messenger. Up until this point, the former president’s legal fees had been paid by his Save America super PAC. “Save America wasn’t really designed as a legal defense fund, so as the legal landscape evolved, so did this effort,” a Trump official told the site’s Marc Caputo.
So who can expect to be covered? Rudy Giuliani, presumably, who is named as a co-conspirator in Fani Willis’s Georgia case, and was the beneficiary of a Trump-hosted legal fundraiser at Bedminster last night. Giuliani’s fellow election attorney Jenna Ellis? Not so much: Ellis has switched her support to Ron DeSantis for 2024 and so has received no assistance from her former boss. Trump’s classified documents co-defendant Waltine Nauta seems like a likely candidate, as do other MAGAsphere figures who’ve toed the line since 2020: John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark and Kenneth Chesebro, to rattle off a few names.Will the fund cover the legal costs of the swathes of Capitol “rioters” and “sightseers” currently facing down the American legal system? Who, let’s face it, might not have made the trip to DC were it not for the urging of a certain president and his acolytes? Cockburn isn’t holding his breath…
–Cockburn, from his Friday gossip column