In This Episode
- A manhunt is underway in Maine for the gunman behind two shootings in Maine. Eighteen people were killed and thirteen others were injured Wednesday evening, in what has become the deadliest mass killing in the U.S. this year.
- As the likelihood of an escalation in the war between Israel and Hamas looms, activists in the U.S. are revving up their demands for an immediate ceasefire. Eva Borgwardt with the progressive Jewish group IfNotNow joins us to talk about their push for peace and solidarity with Palestinians.
- And in headlines: a federal judge ordered Georgia to draw up new legislative maps ahead of the 2024 election, the U.S. economy grew at a blistering rate last quarter, and the inaugural Florida Man games are coming to the Sunshine State next year.
- IfNotNowMovement – https://www.ifnotnowmovement.org/
- Jewish Voice for Peace – https://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, October 27th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi and this is What a Day.
Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, a federal judge has ordered Georgia to draw up new legislative maps ahead of the 2024 election. Plus, analysts are skeptical about a better than expected report on the economy.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, a manhunt for the gunman in this year’s deadliest mass shooting in the United States continues in Maine. On Wednesday evening, 18 people were killed and 13 others injured after a man opened fire at a bowling alley and then a bar in Lewiston, Maine. As of the time of our recording at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, the suspect had been identified but is still at large. This has forced thousands of people in the area into an extended lockdown as law enforcement officials from local, state and federal agencies searched a large and mostly rural area to find the suspect.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. What do we know about the shooting and the suspect thus far?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So the suspect has been identified. We will not be naming him on the show, as is our policy. He is a 40 year old male from the nearby town of Bowdoin, Maine, who is an Army reservist and was employed as a firearms training instructor. Investigators say that he was taken by police for a mental health evaluation after military officials became concerned with his erratic behavior back in July. He was armed with a military style semiautomatic rifle. And a warrant is out for his arrest on eight counts of murder so far, that count is expected to increase up to 18, which is the number of people who he killed. But there is still a lot we do not know. Only eight of those 18 people who were killed have been identified at this point. And we don’t know the motivation behind this attack either.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, and I feel like with every mass shooting, the focus is always on that state’s gun laws. Um. And so right now there’s a focus on Maine’s gun laws or lack thereof. What can you tell us about those?
Priyanka Aribindi: The state of Maine has a longstanding history and culture of hunting, really high rates of gun ownership relative to other states in the U.S.. The state doesn’t require any permits to carry guns, and it also doesn’t have a red flag law on the books. Those, of course, prevent anybody who shows signs of being a threat to others or to themselves from purchasing or possessing guns. They instead have what’s called a yellow flag law that was actually written with the help of a gun rights group. So really, not the most [?] there.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Priyanka Aribindi: Before Wednesday, Maine was actually considered one of the safest states in the nation. Despite these high rates of gun ownership and not having these stringent gun laws on the books. But as we’ve seen, it really only takes one person with a gun to change everything in that regard. In one night, the state of Maine saw almost the same number of murders that they do in an entire year.
Tre’vell Anderson: Which is really wild when you–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes.
Tre’vell Anderson: –set it up that way. Now, on top of this already being a tragedy, this is incredibly frustrating because right we’ve seen mass shootings happen for years.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes.
Tre’vell Anderson: Literally all over this country. How this time have lawmakers responded?
Priyanka Aribindi: Well, you know, there are your typical thoughts and prayers from the usual suspects. There are your typical calls for gun reform from all the politicians who really care about this and have for years. But there was a notable change from one Democratic representative, Jared Golden, who represents Lewiston in Congress. Take a listen to him in his own words.
[clip of Jared Golden] I have opposed efforts to ban deadly weapons of war like the assault rifle used to carry out this crime. The time has now come for me to take responsibility for this failure, which is why I now call on the United States Congress to ban assault rifles like the one used by this sick perpetrator of this mass killing in my home town of Lewiston, Maine. For the good of my community, I will work with any colleague to get this done in the time that I have left in Congress.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s a good thing. But this has also been happening in so many communities for so long. It shouldn’t take this happening in your backyard for you to become concerned about it. So it is progress, but I’m hesitant.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: To feel so great about that. But obviously, we will continue to cover this story and any developments on the front of gun control legislation.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely.
Priyanka Aribindi: Hopefully, we have some more to report there in the near future.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Thanks so much for that, Priyanka. Turning now to some updates on the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. It has now been three weeks since Hamas’s initial attack, and as of today, the war is now the deadliest conflict involving Israel and Gaza for both sides. The Gaza Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas, reported yesterday that more than 7000 Palestinians have been killed. Though that number is difficult to independently confirm. It means the current Palestinian death toll is three times higher than when Israel launched its last operation in Gaza back in 2014. Meanwhile, Israel’s military said it dispatched tanks and troops to conduct a series of brief raids in the northern part of the territory to prepare for its expected ground invasion. And as the likelihood of that escalation looms here in the United States, activists around the country are revving up their demands for an immediate cease fire.
[clip of American Jewish peace groups] Cease fire now! Cease fire now! Cease fire now! Cease fire now! [yelling and clapping]
Tre’vell Anderson: You just heard members of American Jewish peace groups chanting cease fire now inside the Capitol Rotunda. About 300 people were arrested during that action last week. Over the past few days, they also joined with Palestinian American groups and their allies to deliver that message straight to lawmakers themselves. Protesters recently staged sit ins at the D.C. offices of several prominent Democrats, including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Senator Bernie Sanders, calling for them to support a cease fire in Gaza. We recently caught up with Eva Borgwardt with, If Not Now, one of the progressive Jewish groups that’s been taking part in these protests. She told us that the mood from lawmakers right now reminds her of the lead up to the Iraq war.
Eva Borgwardt: As Jewish organizers. One thing that we want to make extremely clear is that while the Biden administration and the U.S. government is invoking Jewish and Israeli safety as justification for this response, this is not at all about the safety of Israelis or Jews. A majority of Israeli society right now is attributing much of the responsibility for the October 7th attack to Netanyahu and the policies of the most far right government in Israeli history, as well as the audacity of successive Israeli governments to act as if they could keep human beings, keep Palestinians caged for decades, and brutalize them whenever they try to nonviolently resist and not expect disaster to happen to their own citizens.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So If Not Now, actually held a demonstration in D.C. on Wednesday calling for the Biden administration to push for a cease fire. One of the things you did there was lay stones in front of the U.S. Capitol and say prayers for those who have died in this conflict. Can you tell us about the significance of doing that?
Eva Borgwardt: That’s a practice that comes from Jewish tradition, which is that we lay stones on the graves of people who have died, who we’ve lost. And whenever you visit someone’s gravesite, you place a stone on their grave. And there’s something like really important and tactile about that in terms of some sort of a tangible physical act, an alteration of the world that um reflects your grief. And yes, so we were passing hundreds of stones down a line of people and placing them to convey and connect with the magnitude of the death that is happening right now in one small way that our tradition offers us.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m curious about your reaction to the way If Not Now and other groups with similar goals are kind of being portrayed, right? Like, for example, the Anti-Defamation League has called If Not Now, quote unquote, “anti-Israel,” and they say that your group and others engage in, quote, “divisive and inflammatory rhetoric.” I wonder, how do you respond to that criticism, considering the work that you all are doing?
Eva Borgwardt: If anyone were still taking the Anti-Defamation League seriously as an arbiter of what constitutes hate or an arbiter of the severity of that hate, they should definitely be disillusioned now. Anti-Defamation League was echoing right wing comparisons of the protest last Wednesday at the Capitol, where hundreds of Jews, led by rabbis, were sitting in peaceful protest and singing inside the Capitol and calling for a cease fire. And the ADL echoed far right claims that that was akin to the insurrection on January 6th, which is preposterous. The January 6th protest was about undermining any semblance of US democracy. And one of the core tenets of democracy is that all human beings are created equal. That’s one of our highest democratic aspirations and ideals. And a peaceful protest with singing Jews and rabbis, which is geared toward ending this horrific war and honoring the idea that all human life is sacred and all humans are created equal is a fundamentally democratic protest. And January 6th, of course, was a violent insurrection led by people who were threatened by the idea of even a modicum of greater equality in our country. It’s preposterous to compare those things, and the ADL should be ashamed, and no one should take them seriously.
Priyanka Aribindi: I want to ask about how listeners who support a ceasefire in Gaza can get involved, can put pressure on Congress. Do you have any thoughts on how these people can support this goal of a ceasefire? These people can support and advocate for what they believe?
Eva Borgwardt: The only way that we will actually succeed in ending US unconditional backing for the Israeli government’s assault on Palestinians right now is with everyone. All Americans like must take responsibility for our country’s foreign policy establishment that currently right now is lining up to send offensive weapons to Netanyahu’s government, which previously in previous months, Biden himself was holding at arm’s length to American Jews. Like we see the pain that you’re in. And I had a coworker who had a friend in Israel and her two little kids who were murdered a couple of weeks ago. And this is extremely close to home. And we shouldn’t have to organize through our grief right now. As American Jews, we’re looking to our Israeli partners and friends who are quite literally burying their loved ones right now and who are still raising their voices to cry out against this horrific war and say that the memories of their loved ones should not bring about other shattered families. And also, we can look to Palestinians. I have colleagues at Palestinian organizations who are constantly having to show up to work through their grief and figure out how to mobilize their communities through tragedy that is extremely close to home. When we talk about genocide, there used to be hundreds of people with my family’s last name, not my current last name, but my mom’s maiden name. And those people were nearly wiped out before I was born, decades before I was born. There are only a handful of us left who share that name, who are in that family, and that is happening to Palestinians today. Again, like people ask, you know, how are you as Jews in the streets? We want to understand, you know, what’s driving you right now. It’s because, of course, of course, we are. Like, how could we not be? Because are invoking our names right now, but also that the rhetoric that we’re hearing out of this Israeli government and the intent that they have made extremely public resonates for us in devastating, terrifying ways. And that’s why we are mobilizing by the thousands, by the tens of thousands to do everything we can to stop it.
Tre’vell Anderson: That was our interview with Eva Borgwardt, with the Jewish Peace Group, If Not Now, we will continue to follow the conflict in the days and weeks ahead. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after a short break for some ads. [music break].
Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s get to some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: Starting in Georgia, where a federal judge there ordered the state’s political maps to be redrawn in time for the 2024 election. Judge Steve C. Jones released the 516 page order yesterday, saying that Georgia’s current voting maps violate the Voting Rights Act by diluting the power of Black voters in the state. In his decision, Jones acknowledged that Georgia has made, quote, “great strides” toward voting equality since 1965, when the Voting Rights Act was passed. But he continued, quote, “Georgia has not reached the point where the political process has equal openness and equal opportunity for everyone.” The judge gave lawmakers until December 8th to redraw the maps and warned that the court would step in if the state is unable or unwilling to do so. Republican Governor Brian Kemp has since scheduled a special legislative session for lawmakers to go back to the drawing board on November 29th, though the state is likely going to appeal. Yesterday’s ruling comes after a trial in September that challenged the voting maps. It also follows a Supreme Court ruling from June that sided with Black voters in Alabama and ordered that state to draw up new maps. Meanwhile, congressional districts in Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and other states are also being challenged.
Priyanka Aribindi: Listen. I’m glad these things are being challenged because clearly they’re finding that they are unfair. But it’s also so disheartening.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: How prevalent and widespread this is, these attempts to dilute the rights of Black voters–
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: –to be heard. It’s disgusting. It really is.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. Absolutely.
Priyanka Aribindi: And over in Texas, the state House of Representatives was up late to debate a trio of bills aimed at beefing up border security. Lawmakers eventually approved another billion and a half dollars to continue building barriers along the border with Mexico. But the longest fight was over House Bill four, which would empower police in the Lone Star State to arrest migrants and order them to leave the country. The legislation, which eventually passed early Thursday morning, would make being in the U.S. without authorization a state misdemeanor. Repeat offenders would be charged with felonies, carrying a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison. But Democrats fought long and hard to defeat it, including State Representative Armando Walle, who confronted one of his Republican colleagues for cutting off the debate.
[clip of Armando Walle] Y’all don’t understand the shit that y’all do hurts our community. It hurts us personally, bro. [indistinct someone else talking] It hurts us.
[clip of unknown person] Just just let us debate it.
[clip of Armando Walle] It hurts us to our fucking core. And y’all don’t understand that. Y’all don’t live in our fucking skin.
Tre’vell Anderson: Hmm.
Priyanka Aribindi: Someone had to say it. I don’t think it’s being said enough. The bill now heads back to the state Senate, which has already approved its own version of the bill and will likely head to Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s desk.
Tre’vell Anderson: The U.S. economy grew at a blistering rate last quarter. The Commerce Department yesterday reported that America’s gross domestic product grew by 4.9%, the highest quarterly growth since 2014. A lot of things have to get factored in to calculate how well the economy is doing, but we can thank Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Barbenheimer for their contributions. Almost 60% of that growth came from folks willing to drop a lot of cash this summer on concerts, going to the movies, eating out, and even splurging on expensive stuff overall. And while all of that does sound like good news, many economists say not so fast. That’s because the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates again sometime in the coming months. So if you decided to treat yourself this summer using a credit card, even higher rates are going to make it that much harder to pay it all off. Not to mention that many of us will have to start making payments on student loans. By many of us, I’m talking about me. All of that could put a big dent in economic growth in the near future. Still, most analysts think this better than expected summer means that we’re now less likely to hit a recession. So keep your fingers crossed and stick to your budget, people.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, if you are like me and you want that Beyoncé perfume, you uh might have to cut back on a few extra things if you want to make that happen. That shit’s expensive and it’s not getting any easier to splurge out here. [laughter] And finally, the world is gearing up for what could be the most anticipated sporting event of 2024. No, I am not talking about the Paris Olympics. I am talking about the inaugural Florida man games that will be held–
Tre’vell Anderson: Wow.
Priyanka Aribindi: –next February in the city of St. Augustine. The Florida Olympics if you will. The event will be exactly what it sounds like. According to organizers, it will feature a variety of tongue in cheek competitions that lean into Florida’s well-deserved reputation as the weirdest and wildest state in the union. The competition includes a, quote,” evading arrest obstacle course,” where contestants are chased by actual cops, [laughter] beer belly sumo wrestling, and of course, a mullet contest.
Tre’vell Anderson: Hmm.
Priyanka Aribindi: The real Florida Olympics, you got to have some kind of challenge where everyone’s on bath salts. [laughter] Will they eat someone’s face off? Remains to be seen. Anyways, if this sounds like your idea of a good time, you are in luck because participation is actually open to anyone. The event’s website says, quote, “being athletic is not required at all to compete.” I’m asking humbly Crooked Media. I am available to report live from the scene. Someone needs to go there and bring the news and I think myself brave enough to do it.
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, you know, since it’s open to anyone, maybe we just need to put together a WAD squad team, you know.
Priyanka Aribindi: Listen, count me out on that. But you, I I will be there. [laughter] I will report on it, and I will be a biased reporter and rooting for you the whole time. That’s fine.
Tre’vell Anderson: I mean, I’m just saying, don’t you want to see me participate in the mullet contest? You know.
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: Business in the front party in the back.
Priyanka Aribindi: I want to know how you do on bath salts. [laughter] I want to see. [laughing] Who among us does it? Anyways, lots to consider here. If you’re interested in being on our team, we’re recruiting. And those are the headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers and our senior producer is Lita Martínez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.