In This Episode
- A gunman killed at least 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday. Officials say they expect the death toll to rise with additional victims hospitalized but in critical condition.
- Today, President Biden is expected to issue an executive order on federal police reform on the two-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd. The order will direct all federal law enforcement agencies to revise their use-of-force policies, create a national registry of officers who have been fired for misconduct, and more.
- And in headlines: the Indiana Legislature overrode their governor’s veto of an anti-trans sports bill, the national birth rate rebounded in 2021, and an Iraqi national was arrested for plotting to assassinate George W. Bush.
- KSAT: “Uvalde elementary shooting: How to help, where to donate blood” – https://bit.ly/3wNdp43
- Everytown for Gun Safety – https://www.everytown.org/
- Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America – https://momsdemandaction.org/
- Texas Gun Sense – https://www.txgunsense.org/
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whataday/
Gideon Resnick: It’s Wednesday, May 25th. I’m Gideon Resnick.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi, and this is What A Day. We’re going to jump straight into our show today because there is a lot going on that we want to tell you about.
Gideon Resnick: There is yet another mass shooting in the U.S., this time at an elementary school in Texas just two days before its students were set to go on summer break. It happened yesterday in the town of Uvalde, Texas, which is just 85 miles west of San Antonio. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, an 18-year old gunman walked into Robb Elementary and killed 19 children, along with at least two teachers. And officials say they expect the death toll to rise with additional victims hospitalized but in critical condition. This is the deadliest shooting in an elementary school since Newtown, which is unfortunately, unfathomably a real comparison that we can draw, living in the United States of America.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, yesterday really was a nightmare. The ages and identities of all the victims are unknown at the time of our recording at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday night because their families are still being notified. But Pete Arredondo, the police chief of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, said that Robb elementary students are between the second and fourth grades. Children at that grade level are typically between the ages of seven and ten-years old. The school is 90% Hispanic, according to the state’s data. The gunman was shot and killed by police. He has been identified, but we on WAD will not say his name to give him any notoriety. But Governor Abbott said that the gunman, who was also a student at the nearby high school, had shot his own grandmother shortly before entering Robb Elementary. Authorities say he acted alone but have not identified his motive.
Gideon Resnick: In the wake of the shooting, President Biden ordered federal buildings to lower their flags yesterday in honor of the victims. He also said this from the White House last night.
[clip of President Biden] There’s a lot we don’t know yet. There’s a lot we do know. The parents who will never see their child again, never have them jump in bed and cuddle with them. Parents who will never be the same. To lose a child, it’s like having a piece of your soul ripped away. There’s a hollowness in your chest, you feel like you’re being sucked into it, and never going to be able to get out. Suffocating. It’s never quite the same. It’s a feeling shared by the siblings and the grandparents and the family members and the community that’s left behind.
Gideon Resnick: Biden went on to say, quote, “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?”
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Gideon Resnick: I think that is a question that has been asked and answered every day for at least a decade of my life so far.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s really moving to hear him speak about this, seeing as that’s an experience, losing a child, that he’s been through. You can kind of hear it in his voice and the way he speaks about it. Just, nothing like it. The shooting has also reawakened widespread outrage over the failure by Republican lawmakers to take action on gun control. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who is from the district where the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place, had this to say to his colleagues on the Senate floor yesterday:
[clip of Sen. Chris Murphy]] Our kids are living in fear every single time they set foot in a classroom because they think they’re going to be next. What are we doing? Why do you spend all this time running for the United States Senate, why do you go through all the hassle of getting this job or putting yourself in a position of authority, if your answer is that as this slaughter increases, as our kids run for their lives, we do nothing? What are we doing?
Gideon Resnick: A lot of nothing. In the coming days, we’ll also plan to talk with activists about the overwhelming number of mass shootings in the U.S., from Buffalo, New York, to Laguna Woods, California, to Uvalde, Texas. According to the way the gun violence archives tallies up mass shootings, this event in Texas was number 212 in just this year alone. We’re going to put some resources in our show notes so you can get involved to push your own lawmakers into making gun control a priority. You can ask them how many dead children is acceptable to each and every one of them. And if you live nearby Uvalde, how you can help donate blood.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. We’re going to turn now to another story. Today, President Biden is expected to issue an executive order on federal police reform. It’s no coincidence that this is happening now. Today is the two year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, who was murdered by police in Minneapolis back in 2020, setting off a worldwide movement against racism and for police reform.
Gideon Resnick: So what specifically does this order include?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, there are a number of things that are included in this executive order. Most notably, it will direct all federal law enforcement agencies to revise their use-of-force policies. It will also create a national registry of officers who have been fired for misconduct, use grants to encourage state and local police departments to tighten restrictions on chokeholds and no-knock warrants, and it will restrict the transfer of military equipment to law enforcement agencies.
Gideon Resnick: And so how long has this actually been in the works here?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, a while, as you can imagine. We’ve been talking about this for two years, at least, on this broader scale. You may remember Biden pushing Congress to pass comprehensive police reform legislation. It was called the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Like so many things that seem to make sense to a lot of us, this obviously did not get bipartisan support in our Congress. So instead, the White House started working with the Justice Department on this last year in order to get something accomplished here.
Gideon Resnick: So speaking of the Justice Department, this past Friday, they also released their new use-of-force policy. So tell us a little bit more about what’s in that. Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: So this is actually the first time in 18 years the DOJ has updated its use-of-force policy. The biggest change is that the policy now explicitly states that federal officers and agents must step in if they see other officers using excessive force, and that they must give or call for medical aid in situations where it’s needed. It’s very easy to see how those policies connect directly back to George Floyd and the way that he was murdered. As we said earlier, this is the first time that they’ve updated those use of force policies in 18 years, but they’ve also made incremental changes in the past few years, like banning chokeholds and carotid restraint maneuvers unless deadly force is authorized, and limiting the use of no-knock warrants like the one that was used in the police killing of Breonna Taylor. The policy applies to all of the agencies under the Justice Department, which includes the FBI, the DEA, ATF, and U.S. Marshal Service, but we should note that federal officers aren’t really the ones involved in these high-profile cases of police brutality and murder against people of color–that is typically local and state police officers doing those things.
Gideon Resnick: Right. I sort of had that question as to how expansive an impact this could be. So how are people responding to this and the executive order?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it feels increasingly difficult for lawmakers to land on anything that people are happy about these days. A lot of progressive activists wanted more limits and more accountability here. The administration actually took out language that would have only allowed the use of deadly force, quote, “as a last resort when there is no reasonable alternative”–in other words, only when necessary to prevent imminent and serious bodily injury or death. That is, once again, the part that was on the cutting room floor here. That is like not even the standard, which is crazy. But we also have Republicans, on the other hand, who are using, you know, a rise in crime in some cities to drum up fear and to call for more “law and order” quote unquote. So I can’t imagine that they are too happy about any of this.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. And in the midst of all this, to get an early perspective on the expected order, particularly from Minneapolis, where George Floyd was murdered, I also reached out to Minister JaNae’ Bates. She was the communications director for the Yes for Minneapolis campaign, which tried and failed last fall to pass an amendment that would have replaced the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety. Here’s what she had to say when I asked about what the Biden administration is planning:
JaNae’ Bates Most certainly that is definitely a step in the right direction, one that I think most people would agree is far overdue. And the reality is that also very much far short of what we need as a nation to really start to take seriously the issues around police brutality, police harm in the country. I don’t know if there will be the resounding joy that one would hope for when you see these kinds of changes, because the people are actually ready for big transformation, for big changes that have concrete impact on people’s day-to-day lives.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s really felt like that for a while and we’ve been waiting for a while.
Gideon Resnick: In the coming days, we’re going to talk with more activists and experts about the state of policing and police reform throughout the country. And that is the latest for now. We’re going to be back after some ads.
Gideon Resnick: Let’s get to some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: On Tuesday, the Indiana state legislature overrode Governor Eric Holcomb’s veto of a bill that would ban trans girls from playing girls sports in schools. The Republican governor vetoed the bill back in March, citing the legal challenges the law would inevitably face, but the Republican-led state legislature overrode that veto yesterday and passed the bill into law. According to the Human Rights Campaign, this makes Indiana the latest state to restrict trans kids from competing in school sports that align with their gender identity. 17 other conservative states have passed similar laws in recent months, some of which were also enacted after a state legislature veto override. But as predicted by Holcomb, the Indiana law has already been met with a legal challenge. The ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit yesterday to block the law from being enforced within minutes of the override. The suit was filed on behalf of a ten-year old trans girl who plays softball at her school, and seeks to keep the measure from going into effect on July 1st as it would ban her from playing.
Priyanka Aribindi: Babies might finally be back in style. After declining by an average of 2% annually for seven years, the national birth rate rebounded in 2021, according to a new report from the CDC. 3.6 million babies were born in the US last year, marking a 1% increase over the previous year. The greatest uptick in fertility was reported among mothers in their thirties who are more likely to be financially stable and in committed relationships than younger folks. It won’t be clear for a while whether last year’s increase marks a full-blown reversal of the birth decline trend or simply points to a post-vaccine urge to go to the hospital for something cool for once. Experts generally consider the change to be modest and nothing to get too excited about. But as far as what’s been driving birthrates down in the longer term, the reasons are exactly what you’d expect: millennials are drowning in debt, they face soaring costs for housing and child care, and many of them are prioritizing education and work over starting families.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it makes sense. Pay attention to this next headline if you have plans to fabricate reasons to declare an unnecessary war. An Iraqi national was arrested this Tuesday for plotting to assassinate George W Bush–wow. According to the Justice Department, Shihab Ahmed Shihab Shihab was attempting to smuggle a team of seven into the United States to kill the former president. Shihab and his collaborators considered Bush to be responsible for killing thousands of Iraqis and tearing apart the country. Shihab, who is based in Ohio, claimed his role was, quote, “to locate and conduct surveillance on former President Bush’s residences and/or offices and obtain firearms and vehicles to use in the assassination.” The plot was uncovered through informants exchanging information with Shihab on WhatsApp. Shihab was convinced that his WhatsApp account was secure, but was unaware that some of his contacts were feeding info to the FBI. And one secretly recorded conversation, the suspect claimed to have previously smuggled two members of Hezbollah into the United States for $50,000 each.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s 2022 assume nothing is secure. That just feels like a safe assumption to me. Don’t put this stuff on text.
Gideon Resnick: Ay yi yi.
Priyanka Aribindi: We are still learning about the perils of trying to own JPEGs. The actor, producer, and guy you can never remember if you like or not, Seth Green, revealed this week that he had a Bored Ape NFT stolen from him in a phishing scam, putting his plans to launch a show starring said ape in serious jeopardy. Green lost several other NFTs too, along with the rights to put them on TV. If you thought that the whole point of NFTs was that they couldn’t be stolen, well, you just don’t get it.
Gideon Resnick: I guess not.
Priyanka Aribindi: It was reported last month that a hacker posted a phishing scam onto the Bored Ape official Instagram that managed to swipe 13 NFTs with a total value of around $3 million. Green’s hack occurred on May 8th, and since his show is close to debuting, he is coming out publicly now and hopes to get the rights back to his NFT character, whose name is quote, “Fred Simian.” Here is how Green summed up his ape friend Fred’s disappearance, he said, quote, “Days before he’s set to make his world debut, he is literally kidnaped”–once again this is just like an image on a computer. That’s my understanding of NFT’s. Please do not come for me if I’m not correct.
Gideon Resnick: Same.
Priyanka Aribindi: Could this all be a stunt? Maybe. Could NFTs in general be a stunt? Definitely. Transaction ledgers show that a hacker sold Green’s NFT for $200,000 to its current owner, Dark Wing 84, which may or may not be a pseudonym. I guess that might be his real name.
Gideon Resnick: We can’t rule it out.
Priyanka Aribindi: We can’t.
Gideon Resnick: We can’t rule out that it’s Dark Wing the 84th, generational name that’s been passed down. It’s possible.
Priyanka Aribindi: Sir Wing, if you’d like to come on the show and tell us about, you know, your heist, what you’ve pulled off, what you’d like for Fred, please do let us know.
Gideon Resnick: Please, do let us know. And those are the headlines. 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: And if you’re into reading, and not just the book, Protecting Your NFT for Dummies like me, What a day. It’s also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And find Fred Simian!
Priyanka Aribindi: Or he can be unfound. I don’t know. He’s free.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: Free Fred Simian. More like that.
Gideon Resnick: It’s fine either way, truly. 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.