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March 19, 2021
What A Day
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In This Episode

  • European countries including Germany, France, Italy, and Spain will resume using the AstraZeneca vaccine as early as today or next week. This comes the European Medicines Agency found no increased risk of blood clots among millions of vaccinations. The Biden administration announced plans to do “vaccine diplomacy” by sending millions of AstraZeneca doses to Canada and Mexico.
  • It’s still not clear whether this week’s killings in Georgia will officially be designated a hate crime… we explain why that designation is so rare, specifically in instances of anti-Asian violence.
  • Plus, we’re joined by The Daily Show’s Roy Wood Jr. for headlines: Putin and Biden transatlantic beef, free sushi for people named Salmon in Taiwan, and Justin Long double-crosses to do ads for PCs.

 

Transcript

 

Akilah Hughes: It’s Friday, March 19th, I’m Akilah Hughes

 

Gideon Resnick: And I’m Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day, also known as Zack Snyder’s What A Day.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah, this is the Snyder cut of today’s episode—the original was only a minute long.

 

Gideon Resnick: Jared Leto is here and, well he’s freaking everybody out, as usual. On today’s show: more on the situation in Georgia and the laws around hate crimes. Then some headlines.

 

Akilah Hughes: But first, the latest:

 

[European Medicines Agency speaker] The committee has come to a clear scientific conclusion. This is a safe and effective vaccine. Its benefits in protecting people from COVID-19 with the associated risks of death and hospitalization outweigh the possible risks.

 

Akilah Hughes: That was the head of the European Medicines Agency talking about the AstraZeneca vaccine yesterday. Earlier this week, several European countries suspended the use of the vaccine due to isolated reports of blood clots. So Gideon, what does this announcement from the EMA mean?

 

Gideon Resnick: Mmm. It is a tricky situation over there. So the pauses came as several countries in Europe are dealing with a new surge of cases. So there was a lot of urgency in figuring this out really quickly. And now the EMA has repeated their stance that the vaccine is safe, as we heard there. But reportedly they’re also going to add a warning label to the shot so the medical community can be on the lookout for potential rare complications. They basically reviewed millions of cases, they said, and found that there was not an increased risk of the clots. But this appears to be a precautionary measure given that some of the cases were deadly. They did confirm a small amount of the dangerous cases, though it’s not conclusive whether they were actually related to the vaccine.

 

Akilah Hughes: OK, so how are the countries responding to that new information then?

 

Gideon Resnick: Well, for one thing, a lot of these countries that had paused on using the vaccine have now said that they’re going to restart as early as today or next week. That includes Germany, France, Italy and Spain. I saw that Norway might actually wait and study the issue further. But big picture here, Europe is not in great shape at the moment. Yesterday, the World Health Organization said that the continent was vaccinating too slowly to slow down COVID transmission, and that cases have gone up for three weeks in a row, and that more people are dying than they did a year ago. That is kind of how bad it is right now. And we can see it in the individual responses from countries too. The prime minister of France announced that a number of regions, including Paris, are going to go into a month-long lockdown beginning today. It’s reportedly a less stringent lockdown than previous ones, but still. We mentioned a similar situation taking place in Italy and Poland as well, just to name a few countries there. And so the question has been this week with the suspension and now this quick uptake of the vaccine: is this going to diminish trust in this vaccine at a critical moment for Europe? When I spoke to Dr. Ashish Jha earlier this week, he said he hoped that the transparency would actually calm some nerves—I think that’s a hopeful outlook. So we’ll see.

 

Akilah Hughes: Well, meanwhile, AstraZeneca is all over the news. There was a big update from the Biden White House on the U.S. sending doses to Canada and Mexico. So what’s the full story there?

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, this is also interesting. We have talked so much about AstraZeneca this week, it’s crazy. But, you know, we had talked about some of this, quote unquote “vaccine diplomacy” that was going on with other countries and how the U.S. would get pressed to contribute as well. So the plan as it stands, is to send millions of AstraZeneca doses to our neighbors, Canada and Mexico. And as a reminder, this vaccine hasn’t been authorized for use in the U.S. just yet, but it has in those countries. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki characterized it as a loan, yesterday, and what’s even more interesting is that this is coming at a moment where Biden is trying to address a surge at the border. Reportedly in a conversation with the Mexican president, he had asked whether more could be done to assist the U.S. in effectively stemming the tide of people from their end. And that was something that happened in the Trump administration but with the threat of tariffs. The New York Times reported that both sides are saying that the two issues are not dependent on one another, they just happen to be overlapping at this moment. Then also on immigration, the House voted yesterday to create a pathway to citizenship for about 2.5 million undocumented immigrants, including Dreamers and others with TPS status, as well as a second measure for close to a million farm workers and their families. So lots of news to digest there that we’re going to keep following. But for now, let’s get back to the situation in Georgia.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah, so there’s not a ton of new information about the investigation in the past day. But Atlanta police officials did hold a press conference yesterday, where they said that they are continuing to investigate all motives for the shooting spree and did not rule out classifying the attack as a hate crime. They also distanced themselves from the Cherokee County police—that’s the office that held that blunder-ful news conference earlier this week, saying that the gunman had a quote “bad day.” Even though it’s the same gunman, the attacks took place in different jurisdictions so the Atlanta police are conducting their own separate investigation. And by the way, that Cherokee County Sheriff’s Officer Jay Baker that gave the terrible press conference, well, he’s now been removed from his role as spokesperson for this case. Couldn’t have happened sooner.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I don’t understand how he got into that position in the first place. OK, let’s also talk more about the hate crime designation. Activists have pointed out that these are not random attacks, that being Asian is central to why these women were attacked, but also why so many Asians in America have been harassed and harmed in the past year alone. I’m sure you’ve also seen a flood of posts on social media calling to label this crime a hate crime. But we wanted to talk more about why the official designation can be so rare.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah, so there’s a really excellent story in The New York Times from Nicole Hong on why proving racist motivation—but specifically in cases of anti-violence—is so different. I encourage you all to read it. But the gist is that our justice system requires such explicit hatred towards a group that it’s difficult to prove. But with Asians in particular, the problem seems to lie in the fact that the hate symbols and slurs against them are simply not well known or established the way a swastika, a noose or the N-word might be. And because many of these attacks have happened to businesses, it’s often hard to prove that the targets weren’t chosen because of opportunity or perceived affluence—which goes without saying we have to, as a society, stop relying on such explicit bias and racism, to be sure something is racist. The burden of proof is incredibly heavy on victims and their families, and it just doesn’t feel like justice

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it does not. And it’s also important to note that the solutions to these problems within the justice system are fraught for a variety of reasons. For example, giving more funding to police may lead to harsher policing of Black, LatinX communities, and Asian-American communities. But back to the laws that exist around hate crimes. Georgia has one that actually just passed and it could come into play here.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah, that’s right. So following the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, Georgia added a law last June. It was actually one of the very few states that still didn’t have a law like this at that time, but it actually may be really helpful here. So I’ve seen some really strong discourse online about how messed up it is that violence against women isn’t classified as a hate crime—I totally agree with that—even when the motive for a lot of mass shootings is hatred of women. Georgia’s hate crime law actually does cover attacks based on gender specifically, though. So even if proving racism as a motive is difficult, the fact that women were predominantly killed and that Jay Baker—of racist tee-shirt fame—expressed publicly that the gunman claims sex addiction as a motive, that may be harder for him to prove that wasn’t a factor now. And also, if you spoke out about Ahmaud Arbury’s senseless death, you may have helped encourage the bipartisan passing of this law that may now bring some accountability to this horrible tragedy. So thank you for speaking out. It does help.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And then last thing: we talked about this stop AAPI hate report yesterday, but wanted to take a moment to go deeper on it to better understand what this looks like. So the report compiled data on hate incidents against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in the last year. The headline was that there were 3,800 incidents.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah, for sure. The report found that 68% of those incidents were verbal harassment. Shunning, or the deliberate avoidance of Asian-Americans composed about 20%. And about 11% of the reports involve physical assault. Women were more than 2.3x as likely to report hate incidents than men. And as far as where these incidents took place, businesses were the primary site of discrimination, with over 35% of reports happening there, followed by public streets and then public parks. We’re going to link to the report in our show notes. But given what we know about all of these reports and the fact that they’re only from people who did report the information, we can deduce that this is probably even more widespread than we know, and that it deserves our attention and advocacy. That’s the latest for now. Stay safe and we’ll be back after some ads with a special headline’s guest.

 

[ad break]

 

Akilah Hughes: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.

 

[sung] Headlines.

 

Akilah Hughes: So today, we’ve got a special guest with us: Roy Wood Jr., he is one of our favorite comedians, writers and actors, a ole homey from New York. You might know him as a correspondent on The Daily Show, and soon you’ll know him from his new podcast called Roy’s Job Fair. Roy, so happy to have you. Thank you, man.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: I just want to briefly before we get into the headlines, Akilah, compliment your colorful radiance on all social media platforms.

 

Akilah Hughes: Thank you.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: And I hope to—it wasn’t until the pandemic I realized how many neutrals I’ve been peddling in my whole life.

 

Akilah Hughes: [laughs] Yeah. You know, we all realized things about ourselves. Mine was that I express my emotions through colorful shirts. All right, let’s get it. So world leaders may have power, but what’s more difficult for them is friendship. President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are fighting right now, after Biden described Putin as a killer on national TV—not great. Biden’s slam can be heard here:

 

[clip of interviewer] So, you know Vladimir Putin—you think he’s a killer?

 

[clip of President Biden] Mm-hmm. I do.

 

Akilah Hughes: OK, to be clear, I don’t think that he slammed him. I think he just agreed with the slam.

 

Gideon Resnick: Right, right. He co-signed the slam.

 

Akilah Hughes: But, clearing his name, you know, whatever. Listen, guys, there you have it. The mm-hmm that started the second Cold War

 

Joy Wood Jr.: What if he was just lying about knowing Vladimir Putin?

 

Akilah Hughes: [laughs] That’s a good point. “So you know Vladimir Putin?” “Oh, totally, mm-hmm.” [laughs]

 

Gideon Resnick: He didn’t hear the second part of the question.

 

Akilah Hughes: Killer right? Yeah. Maybe he heard: he’s killer, right? And he’s like: yeah, mm hmm. We don’t know. We don’t know for sure. [laughs] Well, the interview prompted the Kremlin to recall its US ambassador back to Russia. Putin weighed in yesterday on Russian TV, employing an expert I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I technique to say that Biden was the real killer. He said, quote “when I was a child, when we argued in the courtyard, we said the following: if you call someone names, that’s really your name.” Biden, head to Camp David. You’re going to need some rest. [laughs] Um. Geez. Putin also challenged Biden to debate him online. Very strong alt-right YouTube energy.

 

Gideon Resnick: Uh huh.

 

Akilah Hughes: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the debate probably won’t happen—which I think anyone could have guessed. But also that Biden doesn’t plan to take back what he said. That “um hmm. I do” stands.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: And he shouldn’t. He shouldn’t. “I’m Biden. I’ll fight you.”

 

Akilah Hughes: [laughs] Exactly.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: “You see the way I jogged to that podium on election night?”

 

Akilah Hughes: [laughs] He’s all malarkey now.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, he’s got longer legs. You know, he could kick, we don’t know what would happen.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: Mm hmm. All right. So cows are known for two things: tasting good and contributing to global warming by burping and farting. So nearly 10% of methane emissions in the United States come from agriculture with, you know, these gassy cows, they’re farting up and contributing to it a lot. So—I love how they always say: oh, it’s, it’s you know, it’s livestock, it’s cow farts. That’s . . . cow farts.

 

Akilah Hughes: [laughs] Yeah. Are you, are we sure they’re not being blamed for it? Like a ‘he who smelt it dealt it’ situation. [laughs] I think that they know for sure it’s the cows, right?

 

Joy Wood Jr.: So researchers at UC Davis may have found a solution, though. By showing that cow methane emissions can be cut by 82% if the cows are regularly fed seaweed. So the challenge now is finding enough of the seaweed used in the study, for the cattle. Hopefully it doesn’t take long because it would be nice to eat hamburgers and I feel like I’m not participating in the murder of all God’s creatures, just the one who’s currently my dinner.

 

Akilah Hughes: Fully. Fully.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: I don’t know if I approve of this, because it’s just going to—like burgers are going to leave the dollar menu because there’s seaweed. You see how much grass-fed beef costs. That’s grass. That’s in America.

 

Akilah Hughes: [laughs] Hella abundant. You’re right.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: We importing? Nah. No.

 

Akilah Hughes: You’re not wrong.

 

Gideon Resnick: The seaweed-fed Whopper: it’s going to be, it’s going to kill us.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah. I mean, if the other one doesn’t

 

Gideon Resnick: Move over saying “it’s your birthday” to get free ice cream, it’s time for making your name Salmon, to get free sushi. Dozens of people in Taiwan added the Chinese character for Salmon to their legal names this week after a chain said that made customers eligible for a free meal. Interesting. According to a local registration office, the names people chose to score fish included: Hotness Salmon, Dip Wasabi And Eat Salmon, and Can’t Help But Want To Eat Free Salmon. All very good names, I would say. But no reports of M. Night Salmon, Sa-Monsters Inc, or Sa-Monsters University, at this time. I will say in written form, would be slightly more confusing that if you just delivered it, given the word ‘monster.’

 

Joy Wood Jr.: Wouldn’t it be M Night Salamon?

 

Akilah Hughes: Oh, that’s a good one.

 

Gideon Resnick: That is better.

 

Gideon Resnick: Salmon. But then you got to hit the ‘L’ and see you’re, you’re a man of distinction. You don’t respect that L in the middle of Salmon.

 

Gideon Resnick: Right.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: Yeah.

 

Akilah Hughes: Salman, Salmon Rushdie. [laughs] Someone just changed the name to that. I mean it would’ve been fine.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah. M Night Salman Rushdie is the one that we’re going with. Apparently most people changed their names back after their meal, but officials in Taiwan discouraged anyone from doing that, reminding residents that they can only change their names three times in Taiwan. And they’ve already used up two, doing what we call the salmon shuffle.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: I think that the biggest takeaway that I have from this, is that, you know, apparently in Taiwan, the DMV line is very short, and you can just walk right in and change your name with no problem. [laughter] And there’s no drama whatsoever—do you understand how long it would take . . . The promotion would be over with by the time you’re—

 

[laughter]

 

Gideon Resnick: The sushi would have gone bad.

 

Akilah Hughes: You’re like: just ate it, it went bad. Um . . .

 

Joy Wood Jr.: Now you are just, you’re Fred Tuna for the next—[laughter] What was his name? Charlie Tuna. That was his name.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: StarKist isn’t a sponsor are they? Respect to StarKist.

 

Akilah Hughes: No, no, no, you know what, no allegiance there.

 

Gideon Resnick: Not any anymore they’re not. I’m just kidding. [laughs]

 

Joy Wood Jr.: Hey, I’m Roy, with a quick word about StarKist tuna. Do you know tuna? Alright, so I think we’ve witnessed what I believe is the first great betrayal of 2021—other than Radha’s [prime] not being nominated for best director for The-Forty-Year-Old Version—but that’s a separate conversation. Justin Long is doing ads for PCs. Now, if you remember Justin Long, 15 short years ago, he starred as a laid back iMac in a series of famous Apple commercials. So here, here’s Justin Long now with a new spin on his old catchphrase:

 

[TV ad] Hello, I’m a . . . Justin. Just a real person doing a real comparison between Mac and PC.

 

Gideon Resnick: OK.

 

Akilah Hughes: Wow. I’m a Justin. [laughing] I’m adjusting to this new normal.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: So, they can make computers do anything these days except ACT LOYAL. Siri: look up no fake friends for me, please. The commercials are for Intel and they follow a move by Apple to stop using Intel processors in their new laptops and computers. And Long isn’t the first spokesperson to double-cross a Fortune 500 corporation, you know. He follows in the footsteps of the Verizon ‘can you hear me now?’ guy who left Verizon, and started doing commercials for Sprint. He still got the same smirk on his face.

 

Akilah Hughes: Right. Yeah, and the same outfit. [laughs] It’s been in a hundred years. Is the outfit part of it?

 

Joy Wood Jr.: I get it though.

 

Gideon Resnick: How did Sprint get this outfit, too? That’s my question.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: I get the Verizon guy. Justin Long didn’t have to do this. He’s a star of television and film. I’m sure he has plenty of script offers on his desk. But the Verizon guy got—because he did so many Verizon commercials that I think there was like stories that he was like un-castable, or like it was hard to unsee Verizon.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah, that’s right.

 

Gideon Resnick: Right.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: And so now he’s just, like, adrift. So, yeah, I’m going to do Sprint, and then I’m going to do MetroPCS. I’m going to do whoever—

 

Gideon Resnick: Right.

 

Akilah Hughes: [laughs] Yeah.

 

Gideon Resnick: Cricket Wireless.

 

Akilah Hughes: Is it Boost Mobile: The whole city’s behind you. [laughs]

 

Joy Wood Jr.: Who do you think will be the next big betrayal in commercials? Flo from Progressive—

 

Akilah Hughes: Flo.

 

Gideon Resnick: Oh Flo.

 

Akilah Hughes: Gotta be Flo. Or Wendy from Wendy’s.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: Or the General Car Insurance.

 

Gideon Resnick: Oh, the General could pop up anywhere anytime.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: What if you just came back as the admiral and he had, he’s in the Navy now. Does Allstate, no Allstate is Mayhem and Dennis Haysbert—which I wish they would quit putting Dennis Haysbert in danger.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah. That man needs to stop being hit by cars.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: They just drop him in the middle of the freeway. “Are you in good hands?” You could have asked me that from the sidewalk, bro. Why are you in the median?

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah, and he’s not. Clearly not. [laughs] Why doesn’t he switch his insurance?

 

Gideon Resnick: Also, it should be a crime to put the president in such danger. Dennis Haysbert has been the president for quite a long time.

 

Akilah Hughes: That’s right.

 

Gideon Resnick: Quite a long time.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: Respect to President Palmer from 25. That’s a deep cut. And see, I like you G. I like you.

 

Akilah Hughes: He liked the cut of your jib, Giddy.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: He know his Black fictional presidents. That’s right.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah. The other one is Morgan Freeman.

 

Gideon Resnick: Right.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: Yeah. And was it Terry Crews in Idiocracy?

 

Gideon Resnick: Yes.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: He was a black president.

 

Akilah Hughes: We’re really going deep on the Black presidents. [laughs] You know, we have more fictional ones than real ones so it’s actually not that long.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: Ooooh. And on that note . . .

 

Akilah Hughes: Well, yeah. Roy, thank you so much for being here. This is just a dream. Is there anything you’d like to plug right now?

 

Joy Wood Jr.: The podcast man, Roy’s Job Fair. You know, it’s a place to, you know, if you: hate your boss, love your boss, want to slap your boss, be your own boss—get tips on how to do all four.

 

Gideon Resnick: Awesome.

 

Akilah Hughes: [laughs] Yeah. Tuning in for slapping bosses.

 

Joy Wood Jr.: I’m an expert. I’ve done all four of those things

 

Gideon Resnick: At the same time. [laughs]

 

Akilah Hughes: lived to tell the tale. [laughs] Well, thank you so much, Roy. And those are the headlines.

 

Gideon Resnick: One last thing before we go, we’ve been telling you all about Jason Concepcion’s new podcast, Takeline, but he also has a brand new crooked YouTube series called All Caps NBA. This is a busy gentlemen, folks. It’s funny. It’s fast paced. If you are familiar with Jason’s work, it is exactly what you know and love about him.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah, find all caps NBA as well as full video episodes of Takeline at YouTube.com/takelineshow and smash that subscribe button.

 

Gideon Resnick: That is all for today, if you’d like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, eat seaweed for the ozone layer, and tell your friends, listen.

 

Akilah Hughes: And if you’re into reading, and not just Vladimir Putin schoolyard insults in his native Russian like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m a Akilah Salmon.

 

Gideon Resnick: I’m Salmon Resnick.

 

[together] And thanks for the free sushi!

 

Akilah Hughes: You know, we finally got something for having this name that we definitely already had. We just been lying this whole time

 

Gideon Resnick: Yes. Mm hmm. I’ve been called this my entire life and it’s good that it paid off.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah. Sal Resnick, also sometimes Salmon.

 

Akilah Hughes: What a day is a production of Crooked Media.

 

Gideon Resnick: It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes.

 

Akilah Hughes: Sonia Htoon is our assistant producer.

 

Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producers are Katie Long, Akilah Hughes and me.

 

Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.