In This Episode
- An appeals court ruled on Tuesday that doctors in Texas are not required to perform emergency abortion care as a necessary, stabilizing treatment to protect the health of the mother or pregnant person. In the opinion, Judge Kurt Engelhardt wrote the federal statute “does not mandate any specific type of medical treatment, let alone abortion.”
- A pair of bombs exploded in Iran on Wednesday and killed at least 95 people and injured over 200 others. The attack happened near the burial site of Iran’s former top general, Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq back in 2020. It is not yet clear who is responsible for the attack.
- And in headlines: several state capitol buildings across the country were evacuated after a bomb threat was mass-emailed to officials, Donald Trump formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court to keep him on Colorado’s primary ballot, and Snoop Dogg is teaming up with NBC to help cover the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, January 4th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What a Day where from now on just call us the podcast name Michael.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah it is recirculating that Nikki Haley apparently rebranded her husband when they were dating because she didn’t like his first name, which was Bill, so she just decided to call him Michael. And now everyone in his life calls him Michael.
Juanita Tolliver: I mean.
Priyanka Aribindi: What? [laugh]
Juanita Tolliver: Talk about rejecting someone’s identity.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, the whole thing is a massive red flag.
Juanita Tolliver: [laughing] Like, man.
Priyanka Aribindi: I will say. [music break] On today’s show, we will tell you what you need to know about bombings in Iran that killed nearly 100 people, plus several state capitol buildings in the U.S. closed yesterday because of bomb threats.
Juanita Tolliver: But first, we’ve got more bad news out of Texas, as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that doctors in the state are not required to perform emergency abortion care as a necessary stabilizing treatment to protect the health of the mother or pregnant person. As we say regularly on this show, cruelty and inhumanity know no bounds in the state of Texas.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So take us back a little bit, what led to this ruling?
Juanita Tolliver: So back in the summer of 2022, after the conservative justices on the Supreme Court voted five four to overturn Roe v Wade, the Biden administration issued a nationwide guidance that medical providers should offer abortions in emergency situations in accordance with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act of 1986. That law requires doctors to provide the emergency services needed to stabilize any person who comes into an emergency room, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. Naturally, disgraced Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton took issue with the guidance and filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration. A district court sided with Paxton and the three judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed that district court ruling, writing that the federal statute, quote, “does not mandate any specific type of medical treatment, let alone abortion.”
Priyanka Aribindi: What they’re saying is that if someone comes in and they are dying, they need that lifesaving care. They are not obligated to perform an abortion simply because they are against abortions.
Juanita Tolliver: Ding, ding, ding.
Priyanka Aribindi: They’re just signing death certificates for people who are being extremely poorly served by their state.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t envy anyone in government right now because this is the kind of stupidity and ignorance you have to deal with. But what impact will this have on women and pregnant people who are in Texas?
Juanita Tolliver: Sadly, this is going to be yet another barrier for women and pregnant people to access basic health care. And now that includes during emergency situations. Remember, just before the holidays, we got a bit of a preview for how this would play out in an emergency with the tragic case of Kate Cox. Cox requested and was denied an emergency court order after learning that her fetus suffered from a fatal diagnosis and she ultimately had to leave the state to access an abortion. What Cox’s experience highlighted is that the exception that Texas touts, you know, the exception that conservatives say is there to protect women and pregnant people. It’s not real. Kate Cox didn’t receive an exception in her dangerous emergent case, and that’s why the guidance from the Biden administration was so important.
Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. I mean, how has the Biden administration responded to this?
Juanita Tolliver: In a statement yesterday, the White House said, quote, “This decision endangers women’s health and lives because of this injunction. It’s even harder for women in Texas to get the health care they need, including during an emergency.” Similarly, abortion rights advocates are calling out the conservative bent of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and how this decision creates life threatening situations for pregnant people. Looking ahead when we continuously see rulings like this when it comes to abortion access and bodily autonomy, you better believe that abortion is going to be on the ballot this year and it’s going to be a mobilizing force, just like it was in 2022 and in 2023.
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean. Absolutely. Thank you so much, Juanita, for these updates. I mean, it’s so upsetting to hear.
Juanita Tolliver: Truly.
Priyanka Aribindi: Infuriating, really. But I appreciate you keeping us up to speed on everything going on. Switching gears a little bit. In Iran yesterday, a pair of bombs exploded and killed at least 95 people and injured over 200 more near the burial site of Iran’s former top general, Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq back in 2020. It is not yet clear who is responsible for the attack, which targeted civilians who were observing this week’s anniversary of Soleimani’s killing. Though this does follow escalating tensions in the region on the heels of Israel’s war against Hamas, as well as their strike in Lebanon earlier this week that killed one of Hamas’s top leaders.
Juanita Tolliver: Before we get into more about what happened here, can you give us some of the background to understand who Soleimani was and the possible significance of this attack?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, definitely. So Qassem Soleimani was a general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC that is a branch of the Iranian armed forces that is separate from the traditional military. So the traditional military might deal with defending the state’s sovereignty, things like that. Instead, the IRGC is tasked with defending the Iranian regime and spreading their ideology. They have conducted a bunch of covert terror attacks all around the world, and they’ve also long been accused of providing funds, arms and support to other militant groups like Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon that oppose the West and Israel. They are designated as a terrorist organization in the U.S. and the EU. And uh back, you know, before his assassination in January of 2020, the rationale by the U.S. was that they wanted to prevent further attacks on American service members and diplomats.
Juanita Tolliver: But in Iran, he clearly had enough support for people to commemorate his death, right?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Soleimani was revered in Iran and other parts of the region for building and organizing a network of these militant groups. And every year since his death, the anniversary has been observed, at least by some people in Iran, including all of these people who were attacked yesterday. As I said, we do not know who is responsible at this point. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack. But Iran’s president, Ebraham Raisi, has blamed the United States and Israel. And Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a statement vowing a, quote, “strong response.” Just not what anyone who wants, you know, the conflict in the region to remain contained, not spread, not get bigger, wants to hear. It’s not good.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: But, I mean, it is worth noting that despite the timing here, following Israel’s strike in Beirut and the allegations by President Raisi, this does not really fit within Israel’s previous history of strikes against Iran. In the past, they have targeted specific high ranking officials or nuclear scientists, really similar to the strike in Beirut. But this was a large scale attack on civilians. It very well could have been carried out by Sunni Muslim terrorist organizations or separatist groups in Iran. Both of these kinds of groups do have a history of targeting civilians like this. We just don’t know quite yet who was behind this or how this happened.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, there are definitely questions to be answered, but are there any other details that we do know about the bombing at this time?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So according to Iranian officials, the two bombs were placed in bags alongside the road leading to the cemetery. The first exploded as a large procession was approaching. The second bomb was actually deadlier than the first. It exploded on a delay afterwards and it killed many people who were just trying to help people who were injured in the first blast. That is actually a common tactic in terrorist bombings. Videos from the scene show a chaotic and bloody aftermath. Many people who were wounded are in critical condition. So, you know, as is typically the case, when we report a death toll on the show, that could rise in the coming hours and days. We’ll continue to keep you updated as we learn more about this. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break].
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: Several state Capitol buildings across the country were evacuated yesterday after a bomb threat was mass emailed to officials. The FBI later determined that the threats were a hoax and said in a statement that the bureau has, quote, “no information to indicate a specific and credible threat.” The bomb threat led to evacuations in Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi and a bunch of other states. And according to CNN, which obtained a copy of the threat, the email recipients included government offices in at least 23 states. Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri and others also received threats but did not shut down. In its statement, the FBI urged folks to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately. In addition to dealing with bomb threats, public officials have recently been the target of swatting calls. Those are prank calls that lead law enforcement, often a SWAT team to show up at a particular location. And in recent days, those locations have been the homes of elected officials, including Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, who we talked about on yesterday’s show. She was swatted only a day after she booted Donald Trump off of the state’s presidential primary ballot. Other officials who’ve been the target of swatting recently include Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Republican representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Brandon Williams, among others. It really is scary to see how these threats of violence and acts of violence have just escalated and continue to proliferate in our society. It is sick. It really is.
Juanita Tolliver: And in more Trump ballot news, the former president formally asked the U.S. Supreme Court to keep him on the primary ballot in Colorado yesterday. This is the big battle to watch, especially since the Supreme Court has never ruled on Section three of the 14th Amendment. We talked about a lot of this chaos on yesterday’s show in relation to the main ruling and appeal. But as a refresher, in December, the Colorado ruling removed Trump from the state’s 2024 ballot under the insurrectionist clause of the 14th Amendment. Last week, the Colorado GOP actually filed a separate appeal. For now, the Colorado ruling is on hold while the Supreme Court decides whether to take up these appeals. It’s not likely that this case is going to get resolved in the coming days, but Colorado’s primary is set for March 5th. So, as promised, we’ll be keeping close tabs on how all of this unfolds.
Priyanka Aribindi: An imam in New Jersey has died after being shot outside of a mosque early yesterday morning. Police found Hassan Sharif lying in a parking lot just ten feet from the mosque’s entrance with multiple gunshot wounds. He was taken to a nearby hospital in critical condition and died just a few hours later. Authorities said that the suspect hasn’t been found and that they don’t have enough information about a motive just yet. But Sharif’s death comes amid a rise in threats and violence against Muslim Americans since the start of the war in Gaza. Sharif was a well-known figure in Newark, New Jersey. He appeared with city leaders in the area, even leading prayers in council meetings and worked as a transportation security officer at Newark Liberty International Airport. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said in a statement yesterday, quote, “At a time when the Muslim community is concerned by an increase of biased incidents and crimes, I want to assure the Muslim community and people of all faiths that we will do everything in our power to keep all residents safe, especially in or near our houses of worship.” This is just incredibly sad.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, and it tracks with what you mentioned earlier about the violence and the rise of it being a sign of the times we’re living in and how tragic this reality is. Taking lives day after day.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: Russia and Ukraine exchanged a total of nearly 500 prisoners of war yesterday. It’s the largest single release since Russia’s invasion began almost two years ago. Ukrainian officials said 230 prisoners of war returned to Ukraine, while Russia’s defense ministry said 248 of its prisoners of war were returned. The exchange was the first in nearly five months and it was mediated with the help of officials from the United Arab Emirates. In a video address on the messaging app Telegram, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in part, quote, “Despite all the challenges, there is long awaited good news. There was a long pause in the exchanges, but there was no pause in the negotiations.” The exchange came as Russia on Wednesday said Ukraine targeted the border city of Belgorod. And it comes after Russian forces on Tuesday launched a large scale attack on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and other cities. In a post on X on Tuesday, President Zelensky said that in the days since last Friday, Russia had launched about 300 missiles and more than 200 drones against Ukraine.
Priyanka Aribindi: President Biden is set to give a speech on Saturday for the third anniversary of the January 6th Capitol riots in an effort to warn voters of the dangers of another Trump presidency. That is according to officials from Biden’s reelection campaign. Communications director Michael Tyler told reporters that the president’s remarks will focus on the stakes for this year’s election and how Trump will, quote, “use all of his power to systematically dismantle and destroy our democracy if he wins a second term in November.” Biden will give his speech in Philadelphia, near Valley Forge, the place where George Washington rallied and trained the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign also has programming scheduled on January 6th. He is hosting two rallies in Iowa. So get ready for some split screen TV content. This weekend if you are in Iowa. Hide your kids. Hide your wife. [laughter] Board up the windows. Stay far away.
Juanita Tolliver: We love a throwback and highly relevant throwback.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes we do.
Juanita Tolliver: Because–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes.
Juanita Tolliver: Trump is about to say some wild mess on the stage y’all so brace yourselves and also just take mental note. This is the message he’s going to use for the rest of the year, not just on January 6th.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right. We’ve seen this film before, everybody.
Juanita Tolliver: And finally, Snoop Dogg just secured a summer job. He’s teaming up with NBC to help cover the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Here’s a teaser from NBC featuring Snoop and U.S. gold medal gymnast Suni Lee.
[clip of Snoop Dogg] Oh, wow. What is this move called?
[clip of Suni Lee] That’s an aerial, a cartwheel without your hands.
[clip of Snoop Dogg] On that little bitty piece of wood right there?
[clip of Suni Lee] Yes.
[clip of Snoop Dogg] That’s what it sound like right? [knocking on wood] [laughter]
Juanita Tolliver: Mess. [laughing] Snoop is probably not the first person you think of when you hear Olympics, but just know that this is not his first rodeo. The rapper said that he grew up watching the Olympics and still loves to follow them. And two years ago, he reported on the 2021 Summer Games in Tokyo with Kevin Hart in a special series that aired on Peacock. Take a listen to their takes on one of the equestrian events.
[clip of Snoop Dogg] Horses. I like this. This is equestrian. [banter] They call this equestrian. By the way. Look at that horse. Did you, oh the horse crip walking. [?] You see that? [laughter] [?] That’s gangster as a [?] [shouts] Oh.
Juanita Tolliver: Bye.
[clip of Snoop Dogg] Look at this [?]. Oh, come on, man. This horse is off the chain. I’ve got to get this mother fucker in a video. Oh.
Juanita Tolliver: [laughing] Okay. One, I love, love, love that he’s his full self. But let’s be real. If you’re going to be on the network, you got to cut the curse words Snoop, so work on that. Step one. But two, I’m sure he was talking about dressage, right? Like–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes.
Juanita Tolliver: Okay. Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. We got that. [laughing] So Snoop will be covering the events starting July 26th. And, you know, we’ll be tuning in if for no other reason than the commentary like, yes, please.
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously, I love the enthusiasm. I love the joy. More of that in 2024. I’m very here for this. This is so fun.
Juanita Tolliver: And those are the headlines.
Juanita Tolliver: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Remember that recreational pot is illegal in France Snoop and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: Does he know about that? Are we sure?
Juanita Tolliver: Probably not.
Priyanka Aribindi: No. [laughter] That was in the fine print. Anyways and if you are into reading and not just the lyrics of nothing but a G thing in French like me. What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe a crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver.
[spoken together] And call us Michael.
Juanita Tolliver: I feel like this rejection of who her husband was when they got together. I’m worried for Michael or excuse me Bill I’m worried for–
Priyanka Aribindi: Bill?
Juanita Tolliver: Formerly Bill.
Priyanka Aribindi: Bill. Blink twice if you need help. [laughter] [music break] 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 showrunner is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.