In This Episode
- Congressmembers yesterday and today are hearing from the family members of the victims of recent mass shootings across the country. They’re there to essentially beg lawmakers to act on both gun violence and white supremacy.
- The World Bank issued a bad prognosis for the global economy yesterday, saying that a recession is going to be difficult to avoid for a number of countries. This is happening as a result of a lot of conditions: Russia’s war in Ukraine, international supply chain issues, inflation, and more.
- And in headlines: the NFL welcomed its first openly trans cheerleader, the U.S. is set to approve a new COVID vaccine, and the U.S. seized a Russian oligarch’s yacht.
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Gideon Resnick: It’s Wednesday, June 8th. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I am Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day, where we are canceling all of our summer road trips because we can no longer afford the gas.
Gideon Resnick: That’s right. Me and the family are going on a big vacation three doors down at my friend Allison’s pool.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, if you have a pool in my area, I don’t have a friend Alison, please reach out. I would love to visit your pool.
Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, FDA advisers give the thumbs up to a new COVID vaccine made by the company Novavax. Plus, a Russian-owned yacht sets sail under U.S. control.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, yesterday and today, Congress members are hearing from the family members of the victims of recent mass shootings across the country, who are there essentially to beg Congress to act both on gun violence and on white supremacy. Yesterday, Garner Whitfield Jr, the son of 86-year old Ruth Whitfield, who was the oldest victim in the Buffalo supermarket shooting just last month, spoke before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on domestic terrorism. He challenged the lawmakers to act, asking them the question that is on everybody’s mind, What are you doing? Take a listen to this excerpt of him in his own words:
[clip of Garner Whitfield] You elected to protect us, to protect our way of life. I ask every one of you to imagine the faces of your mothers as you look at mine, and ask yourself, Is there nothing that we can do? Is there nothing that you personally are willing to do to stop the cancer of white supremacy and the domestic terrorism it inspires? Because if there is nothing, then respectfully, Senators, you should yield your positions of authority and influence to others that are willing to lead on this issue. The urgency of the moment demands no less. My mother’s life mattered. My mother’s life mattered! And your actions here today would tell us how much it matters to you. Thank you.
Gideon Resnick: Wow. Yeah, that’s really powerful to hear. So that hearing isn’t all that is happening this week on the gun violence front. What else do we need to know for now?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Yesterday’s Senate hearing was the first of two that are taking place this week, where lawmakers will be getting testimony from family members of victims and survivors of the recent mass shootings. Today, 11-year old Miah Cerrillo of Uvalde will be testifying before the House Oversight Committee to share her experience. Just two weeks ago, she had to cover herself in her friend’s blood in order to appear dead and to avoid being shot in her school.
Gideon Resnick: Jesus.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it is really horrifying. Also speaking will be the parents of Lexi Rubio, a ten-year old student at Rob Elementary who was killed, and Zeneta Everhart, a survivor of the mass shooting in Buffalo. Her son was shot in the neck and thankfully survived.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, all of these are going to be essential that people pay attention and listen. Also yesterday, the actor Matthew McConaughey was at the White House press briefing as well, talking about all of this. What did he have to say?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. He is a Uvalde native himself, and a gun owner. He was speaking emphatically about the victims in Uvalde and the need for gun control. He spent most of the past week with families of the victims, and he used the briefing to share their stories. He brought pictures of their artwork, and in one case, the green Converse sneaker Maita Rodriguez wore to school every day that was used to identify her body. She had drawn a little heart on one of them–really just heartbreaking details that emphasize just how young these kids were.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So as Congress is weighing strengthening federal gun legislation, the Supreme Court is expected to announce a decision that could potentially weaken states laws on guns. Can you tell us a little bit more about what that entails?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So this case concerns a New York state specifically, but could have broader ramifications. New York has some of the country’s most restrictive gun laws, in a good sense. Just this past Monday, actually, the state passed a number of gun control bills, that included raising the age to buy semiautomatic weapons from 18 to 21-years old. The Supreme Court case to watch, however, deals with a law that limits people’s abilities to carry weapons outside of their homes with unrestricted licenses unless they have, quote, “proper cause.” Sounds actually pretty great to me, but two people from upstate disagree. They were denied those unrestricted licenses because they didn’t meet the standard of proper cause, and instead of accepting that decision–here we are, before the Supreme Court. Which, you know, might come out with a decision as early as today. Experts are nervous that the court could strike down New York’s law. If that happens, other states like California, Connecticut, Maryland, and Massachusetts may have to rewrite similar laws that they also have. And practically speaking, it could also result in a lot more guns out on the streets–which I don’t think very many people want at this moment in time. That is the update on where things stand with gun regulations across the country at the moment. We will continue to keep you updated as we know more.
Gideon Resnick: So let’s also talk about some economic updates we got yesterday, none of which are particularly good.
Priyanka Aribindi: The never are.
Gideon Resnick: No. The World Bank issued a bad prognosis for the global economy that said, a recession is going to be difficult to avoid for a number of countries.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. So can you remind us why exactly a recession is in the cards?
Gideon Resnick: Yes. So the World Bank in this report was basically describing a lot of overlapping conditions that we have talked about before, right: Russia’s war in Ukraine, these continuing international supply chain issues, rises in prices for goods, food, and energy, and more recently, pandemic-fueled lockdowns in China. The World Bank put a number to the forecast as well, saying that global growth was expected to slow to 2.9% this year, down from 5.7 in 2021, with no immediate bounce-back expected by the end of next year either.
Priyanka Aribindi: That does seem like a big drop. So tell us, what are the ramifications of all of this happening?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I mean, it could be akin to the so-called quote unquote “stagflation” that defined the 1970s. Our listeners may need to consult with somebody older about that, I guess.
Priyanka Aribindi: I think we have some older listeners. I think some might know what that is.
Gideon Resnick: I would hope so. That was in which economic growth stagnates and the inflation rate remains high. David Malpass, the president of the World Bank Group, wrote in the report, quote, “The risk from stagflation is considerable, with potentially destabilizing consequences for low and middle-income economies.” He added that, quote, “There is a severe risk of malnutrition and of deepening hunger, and even of famine in some areas.” So the repercussions are really serious. This all could also lead countries to default on debts, as developing nations owe money to foreign institutions at a record level, as Sri Lanka did recently.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. So this report came out on the same day that U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testified before the Senate Finance Committee about inflation. Let’s listen.
[clip of Sec. Janet Yellen] We currently face macroeconomic challenges, including unacceptable levels of inflation, as well as the headwinds associated with the disruptions caused by the pandemic’s effect on supply chains, and the effects of supply-side disturbances to oil and food markets resulting from Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t think I’d ever heard her voice before, and I like it. Tell me, what else did she have to say?
Gideon Resnick: Yes. So she conceded that the use of the word, quote unquote, “transitory” to previously describe America’s inflation may have been slightly off, that she could have, quote, “used a better word” to describe it at the time.
Priyanka Aribindi: Just slightly.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Still, though, those comments have been used by Republicans to argue that the administration is at fault for inflation and rising gas prices. Yellen also recently had to issue a statement regarding the way in which the COVID stimulus plan, or the American Rescue Plan, played into all of this– another kind of big Republican talking point. Excerpts from an upcoming biography alleges that Yellen had concerns about the size of that financial package and that she had advised that it should be pared down. Her statement denied this, and when pressed during testimony yesterday, she said, quote, “It can’t be the case that the bulk of the inflation that we’re experiencing reflects the impact of the ARP.” Yellen also said that it was the American Rescue Plan that actually helped pull the U.S. out of deeper trouble towards the start of the Biden presidency.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, clearly, there are several other things that you listed before this that are happening, that that couldn’t be the only factor at all. There are so many other moving parts to the story of the economy at the moment, but another that is really interesting is how stores are responding to both shifts in demand and to inflation. To that point, can you tell us what Target is up to?
Gideon Resnick: Yes. So we’re in this kind of strange moment where all of a sudden you’re seeing stories about how various stores have too much inventory of basically the wrong goods–and b-y wrong there I mean things that people are no longer buying as much as they had before, things like furniture, appliances and other sort of essentials for staying at home. Target said yesterday that they’re going to address this by lowering prices, canceling some orders, and cutting their profit as a result, in order to get rid of inventory that customers no longer want at the moment.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. Probably not a good thing for the long term, but if you are a deal-hunter on furniture or like sweatsuits, other stay-at-home essentials–may be the time to go for a little shopping.
Gideon Resnick: I have always wanted Champion sweatsuits that match.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s your time. It’s your time.
Gideon Resnick: It’s my moment. We’ll follow how that all pans out as well as this other economic news. More on that soon, but that is the latest for now. Let’s get to some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: Louisiana became the 18th state to ban trans athletes from women’s school sports yesterday after Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards neither approved nor vetoed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. The governor essentially allowed the bill to become law by not taking any action on it, and is now set to take effect on August 1st. The rule will apply to schools at every grade level that receive any kind of public funding. However, there was also some much-needed positive news about trans athletes on Tuesday. The NFL officially welcomed its first openly trans cheerleader. Justine Lindsay made history yesterday when she announced that she is the newest member of the Top Cats, a.k.a. the Carolina Panthers cheerleading team. Black women like Lindsay are very underrepresented in professional cheerleading, a field dominated by cis white women. And in her first interview since joining her squad, Lindsay told BuzzFeed News that she wants to open the door for more trans athletes in the future, saying, quote, “I think more people need to see this. It’s not because I want recognition, it’s just to shed light on what’s going on in the world.”
Priyanka Aribindi: That’s awesome. You know, I’m happy for her. And on the flip side, think it’s pretty pathetic that John Bel Edwards just was like, shrug, not going to do anything. Not going to say anything.
Gideon Resnick: It’s bizarre to be a governor and that’s your mode. You’re like, I don’t want to legislate.
Priyanka Aribindi: That’s like your one big thing. You get to sign something or you get to veto something. And he was just like, Meh, it’s fine.
Gideon Resnick: I don’t get it.
Priyanka Aribindi: Anyways, here are ten words that will send you back into the long, cold winter of 2020: the U.S. is set to approve a new COVID vaccine–here we are, time is just on a loop. An advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration recommended that the agency authorize Novavax’s two-dose COVID vaccine yesterday. This shot is protein-based and uses a more traditional technology. Experts are hopeful that it will be a good alternative for people who can’t or who won’t take the mRNA vaccines. An FDA report found Novavax’s shots were 90% effective in protecting people against mild, moderate, and severe disease. However, the report’s data was collected before Omicron had ever been detected in the U.S., so some experts told the FDA panel that they had concerns about how it would hold up against newer variants. Ultimately, the FDA panel voted almost unanimously to authorize the Novavax vaccine, citing its comparable efficacy to mRNA-based shots. The FDA usually follows the recommendations of its advisers, so if it gives Novavax the green light, the CDC could quickly endorse it as well. But it could take weeks to get these shots out to the public because the FDA still needs to sign off on the company’s manufacturing process.
Gideon Resnick: If we stay in the pandemic long enough, perhaps more vaccines will be on the way.
Priyanka Aribindi: Will emerge, crawling out of the woodwork.
Gideon Resnick: I guess that’s the “glass half-full” situation. Hoping to avoid a scenario where everyone got to watch Mike Pence get executed except him, Trump apparently wanted to join supporters on a march to the Capitol on January 6th, and Secret Service agents scrambled to make it happen. Parts of this story have been known for a while. All the way back in April, the former president told The Washington Post, quote, “I wanted to go so badly. Secret Service says, You can’t go. I would have gone there in a minute.”
Priyanka Aribindi: That’s like some shit you would say about a concert. Like, not about a fucking insurrection. What is wrong with you!?
Gideon Resnick: Right. He missed the headliner, and he’s upset. But yesterday, the Post reported out new information that was leaked from the congressional investigation, including Secret Service agents going as far as contacting D.C. police on January 6th about blocking intersections for Trump’s motorcade–anything to cut through coup traffic–but police officials declined because their officers were busy monitoring protests. All this info is critical as congressional investigators try to determine whether Trump tried to use the Secret Service to help block the peaceful transfer of power. Also in news about the blockbuster televised hearings of the January 6th committee on Thursday, which for legal reasons we have to refer to as the “Big Game”, FOX has announced it is taking a different path than CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, and NBC, it will not be broadcasting the hearings during primetime, and instead it will dump them on its preppy little cousin, Fox Business. And all the young Sheldon viewers are going to be radicalized in the process, missing Young Sheldon on whatever one of those networks it’s on.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, they’re going to be pissed off. They’re going to go to Fox News. This is not good for us, everybody.
Gideon Resnick: Be careful. Be careful what you wish for.
Priyanka Aribindi: Another Russian oligarch has learned a costly lesson about why you shouldn’t invest too much in things that float: their 350-foot Superyacht, Amadea, was seized and sailed away yesterday by U.S. authorities, just hours after officials in Fiji, where the boat was docked, gave them the go-ahead. Earlier this year, the U.S. launched an operation aimed at seizing the assets of Russian oligarchs worldwide as a way to put pressure on Moscow to end the war in Ukraine. And this yacht in particular, is quite the catch, among the many others that have been seized. It is worth $325 million and features several amenities that every sailor needs, including a swimming pool, a helipad, and a live lobster tank. The FBI says the yacht is owned by billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, a Russian senator best known for owning Russia’s largest gold mining company. Authorities have also said that time is of the essence because the yacht might have been headed for Russia after its pit stop in Fiji. That is partly because the Justice Department found a text message on a crew member’s phone that read, quote, “We’re not going to Russia.” Followed by an extremely suspicious shushing emoji.
Gideon Resnick: I want to be on the prosecutorial teams that are in charge of seizing yachts and, you know, having to coordinate, like, Ah man, I got to be in Fiji. I got to supervise the capture of this yacht.
Priyanka Aribindi: I want to be on the team that is decoding emojis. I’m sure there are some good ones in the insurrection text. I’d love to hear more about it this week.
Gideon Resnick: I would as well. Tell us about all the emojis that you’ve seen everywhere. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back so we can play a Judge Judy to an important legal question that America needs the answer to: is a bee a fish. That is coming up after some ad.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, WAD squad. And today we are trying a new segment where we visit the last place where justice can be served in America, a place where people with no legal experience, apart from knowing parts of Legally Blond by heart, make all of the decisions. A place called the “Podcasters Court.”
Gideon Resnick: Oh, no.
Priyanka Aribindi: Insert some kind of amazing sound effect, please [gavel sounds]. Gideon, I’m going to tell you about a recent weird thing that happened in our nation’s courts, and you will evaluate it on its merits based on your amateur legal expertize. Are you ready?
Gideon Resnick: I am ready. I have filed all of my briefs. Proceed.
Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. A California appeals court just handed down a ruling that could lead to some very disappointing new aquariums: bees can legally be considered fish. Lest you think that judges spend all day working themselves into a frenzy trying to understand bugs, the ruling has a very specific application. It allows protections from the California Endangered Species Act to be extended to four types of bumblebees, which is something that several environmental nonprofits have been calling for based on a climate change-driven decline in bee populations. The way California’s Third District Court of Appeals came to their conclusion is interesting, too. It hinges on the way the Endangered Species Act defined fish, which is as a, quote, “wild fish, mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate, amphibian, or part spawn or ovum of any of these animals.” Invertebrate is the key word here. The lawmakers who drafted the act might have been thinking of, say, lobsters, but the appeals court judges say that this definition could also apply to bees, AKA sky lobsters. So, Gideon, as an amateur lawyer, what is your take on this?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I think that this is appropriate. You know, invertebrate, as you described, is the key word in this situation. I am an amateur lawyer as well as an amateur biologist, in which case I can confidently say that a bee would fit into that category. No harm, no foul. I think that this has been decided in the correct manner.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I’m with you. It’s right there in the definition. This is by the book, to a tee. What can anyone say about this? Bees are fish, guys. Bees are fish.
Gideon Resnick: Right. I don’t want to call a fish a fish. You know, if that’s the definition of fish, that’s the definition of fish. You know what I mean?
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m going to a seafood restaurant and I’m going to have fried bumblebees, I guess.
Gideon Resnick: I hope that you do.
Priyanka Aribindi: They would be terrible.
Gideon Resnick: Well, you don’t know until you try.
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, maybe without a stinger, I don’t know. But like, that feels very not good.
Gideon Resnick: In this particular case, I will say that we should not be eating bumblebees. We should be saving bumblebees.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, right. Because they’re, right. That actually sounds disgusting. So they wouldn’t be served? That was the podcasters court.
Gideon Resnick: Yes. Good save.
Priyanka Aribindi: This court is adjourned. I really hope I get a gavel sound somewhere. [gavel sounds]
Gideon Resnick: One more thing before we go. If you have not heard, Crooked is launching Cricket Coffee coming June 21st. It is launching with a medium and dark roast. The first blend, What A Morning, is going to be the favorite of all of you WAD squad folks out there. I just know it. I just know it for a fact.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, we can tell you that already. And not because it’s the only one that exists.
Gideon Resnick: Exactly. Not that at all.
Priyanka Aribindi: No. Now that the beans are premium ethically sourced, and a portion of proceeds from every bag is donated to Register Her, to help millions of women across the country vote–What could be better? To sign up for early access, go to Crooked.com/coffee.
Gideon Resnick: That is all today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, don’t spend a third of a billion on things that float, and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading, and not just unorthodox definitions of a bee like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Gideon Resnick: I am Gideon Resnick.
[together] A save the sky lobsters!
Gideon Resnick: We are on a mission. We will make sure that those aerial lobsters are–
Priyanka Aribindi: Are saved and not eaten. Sorry, I regret making a joke. I was not thinking.
Gideon Resnick: We’ll withdraw it from the court.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’ll be cut. It’s fine. No one will ever know.
Gideon Resnick: Motion sustained. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzy Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran and me, Gideon Resnick. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.