Understanding Russia's "Kamikaze" Drones | Crooked Media
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October 17, 2022
What A Day
Understanding Russia's "Kamikaze" Drones

In This Episode

  • Another deadly round of Russian attacks hit Ukraine’s capital Kyiv early Monday morning – this time, from so-called “kamikaze” drones believed to be made in Iran. Military analysts believe Russia is relying on those weapons because its stockpiles of other weapons are running low.
  • A new ACLU report found that Atlanta’s Fulton County jail is overcrowded — and many inmates haven’t even been charged with a crime. And as the city struggles to find a solution, the overcrowding issue has led to deteriorating conditions and more violence on the inside.
  • And in headlines: extreme floods have killed more than 600 people in Nigeria, Arkansas’ ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth went on trial, and rapper Kanye West said he will buy the right-wing social media site Parler.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It is Tuesday, October 18th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What A Day where unlike the band BTS we were exempted from South Korean military service to continue making audio content. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yes. And that is only possibly because we’re not from South Korea. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, perhaps. But the other possibility is they’re afraid to cancel WAD, because we are a national treasure. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Not the nation of South Korea. But [laughter] it is true that we are a national treasure. [music break] On today’s show, Arkansas’s ban on health care for transgender youth goes to trial. Plus, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West said he’s buying a right wing social media site. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But first, a quick update on the Russia Ukraine war. Early Monday morning, a new round of attacks hit Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. Similar to the missile strike that rocked the city last week, this attack happened as residents were preparing for work and school. By the time it was over, at least four people were dead and dozens of others injured. This comes in addition to continuing Russian airstrikes elsewhere in the country that have also injured and potentially killed many more. But there is something different about these latest attacks, Josie. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: That doesn’t sound good. Okay. Lay it on us. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Well, the attack on Kyiv was carried out by drones, meaning that as opposed to missiles that come out of, you know, nowhere. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mhm. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: People can actually hear the buzzing from the drones as the drones seek out their targets above them. Right? Which I imagine after eight months of this war evokes a different type of terror for residents. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Now the drones, they’re called kamikaze drones, which is a term that references the military aviators who flew suicide missions for the Japanese empire during World War Two. But these drones don’t require a human on board. They are part of a category of weapons known as, quote, “loitering munitions”, because they’re designed to hover over battlefields looking for their GPS oriented targets. And once they find their target, they launch themselves onto it and blow up on impact. Now, these drones are apparently inexpensive. They’re controlled remotely and able to evade most aerial defense systems. So they make useful tools in a war like this one. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I’m not playing down the severity of this at all. It really sounds like something from a movie. It’s so terrifying. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: They’re cheap. They require very little sacrifice on the attacking country. And they can basically evade all defense systems, but they will find you because they are built to do that. So– 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: –It’s one of the scariest things I can imagine. Can you explain why Russia is using drones like now? For months they’ve been relying on more heavy artillery so what has changed? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, well, military experts are saying that the use of drones could be a telltale sign that Russia is running out of its precision guided missiles because the Kremlin has hit some Ukrainian targets with missiles and rockets that were designed for much larger targets like aircraft or ships. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mm. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: The speculation is that the use of drones might be because their stockpile of more powerful weapons could be dwindling. That said, there has not been any definitive evidence presented publicly that Russia is actually running out of its best aerial weapons. This is all just speculation. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But what’s important to note here is that these drones are actually coming from Iran. They’re not Russian made, which some are saying confirms that Russia’s own arms industry, one of the biggest in the world, can’t keep up with the demand that they need to kind of sustain this war. Now, Iran has denied that it sold or provided weapons to Russia for a few weeks, but there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. The Washington Post even reported over the weekend that Iran is planning to send Moscow more weapons this time, in addition to the drones they’ve already provided, short range surface to surface missiles. Now, after Monday’s attack in Kyiv, the Biden administration issued a warning that in addition to even more U.S. sanctions against both Russia and Iran, they’re going to make it harder for Iran and any other third parties to sell these weapons to Russia. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Thanks for the update on that, Tre’vell. Meanwhile, here in Atlanta, a battle has been brewing over what to do with the city jail and also how to alleviate overcrowding at the county jail. This is a fight that really embodies the close the jail fights we’ve seen across the country in places like L.A. and New York City. And last week, the ACLU released a new report about the county jail population, which really kind of underscored the concerns that many local advocates have had all along. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. So before we get to the report, could you give us some of the background information here? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I would love to. Okay. So the first thing you need to know is that we are talking about jail, not prison. Jail is for two groups of people, Group A, people who have not yet been convicted of the crime for which they were arrested. So that can mean they haven’t yet been charged with a crime. That could mean they can’t afford bail. That could mean they’re being held without bail. It could mean a lot of different things. So that’s group A. Group B is people who have been convicted of a misdemeanor or a very low level crime and so have been sentenced to a year or less incarcerated. So that’s the first thing you need to know. The second thing you need to know is that we are talking about two different jails. There is the Atlanta City Jail and then there is the Fulton County Jail. If you’re not familiar with Atlanta, which you obviously are familiar with Atlanta, most of the city is in Fulton County. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. Shout out to Atlanta. My old stomping grounds. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yes, we miss you. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I’m a little familiar with the two separate jails here, but for the listeners, could you describe the difference between them? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Totally. So the city jail is an old like kind of barely used building that really only holds a few dozen people a night, 30 to 40 people in that jail on any given night. And for years, many city residents have been really encouraging the city to shut the jail down and repurpose it into a community resource center. In fact, back when the mayor, Andre Dickens, was on the city council, he actually sponsored legislation to do just that. And so plans are underway to create the John Lewis Center for Health and Wellness, named after our hometown hero, John Lewis, of course, which would provide, among other things, mental health support and drug and alcohol treatment and housing help for unhoused people. So the plan was to shut down the city jail. The county jail, on the other hand, is kind of the opposite. It is not barely used. It’s actually plagued by overcrowding. And that has caused other issues, including horrific jail conditions, violence, jail employee retention issues. Recent reports actually said that more than 400 people in the jail were sleeping on the floor as of last week. And also, according to Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat, in the past just 60 days, there have been 64 stabbings in the county jail.  

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Wow. Okay. 400 people sleeping on the floor. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You say these people haven’t been charged. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: They can’t afford to pay bail. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Or they’re low level crime. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Why don’t we just let the people go? What’s going on? This doesn’t sound good. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Tre’vell, thank you for being such a genius. Although you don’t even have to be a genius to draw that conclusion. Because exactly that. This is a county jail that has a history of poor conditions. When you hear that people are sleeping on the floor, that they’re stabbing each other, etc., like, I don’t hear public safety. Right? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mhm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I hear we’re arresting too many people and we need to let some people go. Because remember, these are people who have not yet been charged with a crime. Like you said, they’re often just too poor to pay cash bail, like you said. So perhaps like it’s better for them to go home and then instead of sleeping on the floor. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. I mean, listen, we can get to the point about whether or not these people should be locked up in the first place. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But they definitely shouldn’t be sleeping on the floor. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That seems inhumane, perhaps. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. Right. And so here in Atlanta, they have decided to somehow make this terrible situation even worse. The mayor, the same one who once wanted to close the jail, has now done a total 180. So now he’s pushing to nix the plans for now for the John Lewis Center for Health and Wellness and instead turn that city jail into an overflow facility for the county jail. This is a plan he proposed, a lot of holes in that plan, but it did pass the city council a few months ago and they agreed to let the city jail take overflow from the county instead of repurposing the space. So instead of housing a few dozen people a night, the city jail very well could soon be housing over 1000 people a night. There was one caveat, though, which was that first there had to be a study done of who was actually in the county jail, how many of those people couldn’t pay bail? How many were eligible for diversion programs? How many hadn’t been charged with a crime? Like basic questions about the population, right? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Basic questions that one would think they would have the answers to already. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm yeah. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But apparently not. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Nope. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But that is where this new ACLU report comes in, right? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Exactly. So the county has been stalling on releasing that information. So the ACLU kind of just went ahead and did it for them. And what they discovered about the county jail population was pretty mind blowing, honestly, even to me. Tre’vell so many of these people could just be let out. For example, when they took a snapshot of who was there on one day in mid-September, about 300 people were in there because they couldn’t pay bail, meaning that they wouldn’t be in there if they had more money. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: 250 people in the county jail were charged with just misdemeanors, charged, not yet convicted, mind you. And in many places, those people would not be held in jail before being convicted. But here they’re maybe sleeping on the floor. Over 100 people were eligible for the city’s diversion program, which is this incredible program called the Policing Alternatives and Diversion Initiative. It’s a pretty groundbreaking program here in Atlanta, and it works directly with the city. So 100 people could be in that diversion program and they’re not. Almost 400 people had been in jail for at least three months and had not yet been indicted, meaning they had not been charged with a crime. Hard to imagine that you could just be sitting in jail for that long without even knowing what you’re facing or why you’re in jail, right? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Over 100 people had been in custody for over a year without being charged with a crime. 100 people. So just imagine that you got arrested. You’re been told you committed a crime, but you haven’t been charged, so you can’t be released. You may not be eligible for an attorney. You just have to wait at the jail until they get around to actually charging you with a crime. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Which is absurd. But also like these numbers are fairly damning, I would say. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Absolutely.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: So it seems like there are plenty of people at the county jail who just don’t need to be locked up. You know, if they had decided to release some of these people that have been stuck there, would it be enough to alleviate the overcrowding problem? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, that’s a great question. And the answer is yes it would be. The jail is holding somewhere around 300 more people than it should right now, that number fluctuates, obviously. But let’s say it’s about 300 people. The ACLU found that quote, “in total, the Fulton County Jail over detained 728 people.” So more than twice the overflow number. Local officials have insisted that in order to address the county jails overcrowding problem, we need to fill up the city jail. But the ACLU report kind of shows that that’s really not the case. Right? And so as of now, the city is still expected to move forward in like the next month with their plans to fill up the city jail. Even though advocates and Atlanta residents continue to fight for the John Lewis Community Resource Center, which is going to mean fewer resources that address the root issues of crime like mental illness and addiction issues and homelessness. And more resources for, you guessed it, locking people up. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And, you know, I know that for politicians, crime is always a big talking point. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But if you really cared about crime– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –you would address some of the root causes– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right– 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –which this community center would have helped alleviate. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: The overflowing does not do that. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: At all. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. You know, if you really want to address crime, I suggest not sticking people into a building, making them sleep on the floor and having 64 stabbings in 60 days. I just don’t feel like that is a environment of public safety that helps people be active members of society. So it’s not good. And obviously we will keep you updated on the story as this develops. But that is the latest for now. We will be back after some ads. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Josie Duffy Rice:  Let’s get to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Nigerian officials say more than 600 people have died this year from extreme flooding, the worst that country has seen in a decade. Over a million people have been displaced from their homes and rescue workers are working around the clock to provide relief to survivors. Seasonal flooding is common in Nigeria, but authorities say this has been an especially bad year because of unusually heavy rainfall. And regional governments in the West African nation are bracing for more flooding in the coming days. Some areas could be at risk until the end of November. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: The federal trial over Arkansas’s ban on gender affirming care for transgender youth began yesterday. It’s the first court challenge in the nation over a state’s ban on such care. The law at the center of this case bans doctors in Arkansas from providing hormones, puberty, blockers and other transition related treatments to anyone under the age of 18. It even prohibits doctors from referring patients to other providers who can meet their needs. A judge temporarily blocked the law last year after families of four trans kids sued the state who argued that the policy is unconstitutional. That same judge will now hear evidence and testimony to decide whether the law should be permanently blocked. The trial is expected to last for at least one week. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: You know, on one hand, those doctors went to med school. But officials in Arkansas, no just kidding. They have literally no qualifications for making this decision [laughter] it’s an outrage. The UK’s new finance minister, Jeremy Hunt, had a very busy first four days on the job. Yesterday, Hunt scrapped the remaining elements of Prime Minister Liz Truss’s tax policy that was announced just three weeks ago. Those proposals, which included tax cuts for the wealthy, were the centerpiece of Truss’s economic plan, but they kicked off weeks of market turmoil around the globe. Last night, Truss publicly apologized for the economic chaos on the BBC. 

 

[clip of Liz Truss] I do want to accept responsibility and say sorry for the mistakes that have been made. I wanted to act, but to help people with their energy bills uh to deal with the issue of high taxes. But we went too far and too fast. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: The reversal seems to have calmed some nerves in the financial world, but it weakens Truss’s credibility and makes her even more politically vulnerable. Truss says she isn’t going anywhere, but lawmakers from the Opposition Labor Party and her own Conservative Party are now calling for her resignation. I got to say, she’s been in office, what, 20 minutes [laughter] and she has already had to publicly apologize for her number one bit. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: She came in hot. She really did come in hot. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: She came in so hot and also cold in a way. Truly something. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: More evidence that the business man, President Donald Trump, saved the best deals for himself. The House Oversight Committee released expense records yesterday that showed the Trump Organization significantly overcharged the Secret Service when its agents stayed at Trump owned hotels while on duty to protect Trump and his family. Congress recently obtained documents from 40 different cases where Trump’s company charged the Secret Service as much as five times more than the approved government rate. And on top of that, the review said U.S. taxpayers paid the Trump Organization at least $1.4 million dollars for those overnight stays since Trump took office. The documents contradict statements made by Eric Trump, that’s the less frenzied of Trump’s two sons, who also serves as the company’s executive V.P.. He has repeatedly said the Trump Organization didn’t profit off those Secret Service stays and even claimed that agents received discounts. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Bad news for Steve Bannon. Good news for retail associates at the Orvis Outlet who are tired of processing his returns. [laugh] We’re all deranged here. The former Trump adviser should be given a six month prison sentence, according to the Justice Department, after a jury found him guilty of contempt of Congress. The DOJ also wants Bannon to be fined $200,000. Bannon willfully disobeyed a subpoena from the House committee investigating January 6th, citing executive privilege, a term that, according to the Trump University School of Law, means literally whatever. Bannon’s own lawyers are pushing for probation. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: I’m sure they are. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I’m not one to call for prison, but I think we could up that $200,000 even more also. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: At minimum, right? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: At minimum. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Kanye West pulled what rich people refer to as a mini Musk by purchasing his own social media platform. Ye’s agreement to buy the right wing Twitter clone Parler was announced yesterday, and it comes after the rapper was locked out of Twitter and Instagram for anti-Semitic comments. By going to Parler, he is making a time honored pivot from hate speech to free speech. Parler’s CEO said the sale will help Ye to, quote, “continue the fight against censorship, cancel culture and authoritarianism.” FYI that CEO, is also the husband of Candace Owens, the conservative media personality who recently modeled a shirt for Ye that said white lives matter. So you can’t trust her either. Okay. Asked about the purchase, Ye told Bloomberg about his belief in free expression online and said, quote, “I use social media as my therapist,” a reminder that it’s also bad to be anti-Semitic to your therapist. But also, social media is not therapy. Stop playing games y’all. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: After many times doing this show that might be the most cursed headline [laughter] we got. It has all of the worst things in it. From antisemitism to Candace Owens to Parler. Just bad, bad across the board. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And those are the headlines. One more thing before we go. The final episode of Crooked’s political documentary series, The Wilderness is out now. You will hear from young Black voters, activists and political strategists in Atlanta about where they see the future of democracy. And be sure to catch up on the rest of season three of The Wilderness wherever you get your podcasts. [music break] That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Book a reasonably priced hotel room and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading and not just posts on mainstream social media sites like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 

 

[spoken together] And shop Orvis. [laughing]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, you can be among the number like Steve Bannon. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Truly. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: If that’s– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I just love his fashion. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –something you want. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I love his fashion. It’s so good. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. Best dressed list. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Best dressed list. [laugh]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Ten out of ten. No notes. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Yeah. [music break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.