In This Episode
- Boulder police have identified a suspect in Monday’s deadly shooting in Colorado, which killed 10 people. President Biden addressed the nation and called on Congress to not wait “another minute” before working to act gun control laws, including a ban on assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines.
- An independent oversight board accused AstraZeneca of choosing data that was “most favorable” instead of the most updated and complete info.
- And in headlines: attacks on AAPI people continued in New York City in spite of protests, jurors selected for the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, and Prince Harry scores his first 9-5 gig.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Wednesday, March 24th. I’m Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: And Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day, your source for vaccine efficacy numbers that seemed to change every hour.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, you know, I’m done with the numbers. Now, I just judge the vaccines based on Dr. Fauci tone of voice when he’s talking about them.
Gideon Resnick: I am truly number blind and I love all vaccines equally. On today’s show, we just can’t quit AstraZeneca then some headlines.
Akilah Hughes: But first, the latest:
[clip of President Biden] I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense steps that’ll save the lives in the future, and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act.
Akilah Hughes: That was President Biden speaking yesterday about the second mass shooting we’ve seen in the United States in as many weeks. We’re going to get more into Biden’s response, but we’ll start with the details on the shooting in Boulder, Colorado. These details are still developing, but Gideon, what more do we need to know at this point?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So all this information is as of last night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. But we know that 10 people were killed in this horrific shooting, which took place at a King Soopers grocery store. And we feel that it’s important to first acknowledge the victims here. Among them was Rikki Olds, a 25-year old manager at the store. Friends and family described her to the Denver Post as bubbly and a person who loved cats and hiking in Colorado. Lynn Murray was a 62 year old former magazine photo editor who reportedly was working for Instacart in her retirement. Her husband told The New York Times that she once charmed the actor who played the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld.
Akilah Hughes: Teri Leiker was a 51-year old employee of the store who had reportedly worked there for about 30 years. Kevin Mahoney, 61, died as well, according to his daughter, who shared photos of her wedding and called him her hero. That post was trending on Twitter, as well as the radio station where she’s the news director.
Gideon Resnick: The other victims include Eric Talley, a veteran of the Boulder Police Department, 20-year old Denny Strong, another employee. 23-year old Neven Stanisic. 49-year old Tralona Bartkowiak. 59-year old Suzanne Fountain. And 65-year old Jody Waters. We will link to The Denver Post in our show notes. They’ve been spotlighting the lives as more information is gathered.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, it’s just really sad all around. But what else have we found out in the last 24 hours or so?
Gideon Resnick: So yesterday, the Boulder Police Chief identified the suspect as 21-year old Ahmad Alissa of Arvada, Colorado. The chief said that he had been taken into custody with a leg injury from being shot, but was in stable condition. He was reportedly armed with a semiautomatic rifle and a pistol and was charged with 10 counts of first degree murder. Officials are attempting to determine a motive at this time and the New York Times said that he was known to the FBI due to his link to another individual who had been under investigation. But the other details there are murky. We’d mentioned in the show yesterday that the suspect was a white man. As an update, court records reportedly showed he was born in Syria in 1999, and reportedly he had lived in the U.S. since he was three. Regarding his gun purchases, there was a police affidavit made public that showed the suspect had purchased a semi-automatic pistol last week. But reportedly, law enforcement hasn’t made clear just yet if that was specifically used in this attack.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, and a lot of focus has been on a potential assault weapons ban in Boulder as it relates to this. So let’s explain that a little bit more.
Gideon Resnick: Right. So in 2018, the city of Boulder enacted a ban on assault weapons, which came in part as a response to the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, that year. But that ban was blocked in court just 10 days before this mass shooting happened. That was due to a legal challenge from two Boulder residents, a local gun shop and the Colorado State Shooting Association, according to The Denver Post. The judge essentially said that under Colorado law, localities can’t go stricter than state and federal laws. And the NRA, of course, was enthused by the ruling and their lobbying arm actually supported the lawsuit. The Post notes as well that police have not said yet whether the band would have prevented Alissa from buying the weapon or using it within city limits. So we’ll keep following that part of the story, too. But Akilah, let’s turn to more of what Biden had to say, and some other responses that came in yesterday.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, so the day was filled with responses and calls to action on gun control. In President Biden’s address, he said that he and the first lady are devastated. And as we heard in the clip, he called on Congress to not take another minute to act. Specifically, he called for a ban on assault-style rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Biden has some history on this issue as well. Following the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, then Vice President Biden led a gun violence task force that met with the NRA and asked if they could support a ban on assault rifles. They said no. And while the NRA is currently in shambles, their lobbying efforts with the GOP senators seems to have kept this issue from ever being addressed in any meaningful way.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, that is the truth. And to that point, yesterday, Senator Ted Cruz from Cancun talked about narrow reforms that would not have prevented the two mass shootings the country has been rocked by in recent days. But what else have people said in response to the violence?
Akilah Hughes: So Ted Cruz went on to make some sort of inane comment about how the left is canceling ‘thoughts and prayers’ but he remained reticent to consider the mandatory background check bills that passed in the House last week. As far as people who actually have consciences, former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords spoke out. She told Politico that she supports universal background checks, but said that that can’t be all we do to address the issue. As a reminder, Giffords is married to Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, and was shot at point blank range in an assassination attempt at a grocery store in 2011. 19 people were shot and six were killed in that incident. And the GOP has not advanced a single piece of gun reform legislation since then.
Akilah Hughes: Colorado officials spoke out as well. So let’s talk about some of what they had to say.
Akilah Hughes: All right. So Congressman Joe Naguse, who represents Boulder, and who you all may remember from his closing remarks in Trump’s second impeachment trial, spoke in Boulder yesterday. Here’s a clip:
[clip of Rep. Joe Naguse] Like many of you, my heart is heavy and it is in grief and in anguish. The loss of life is truly heartbreaking and unimaginable. And so our hearts, thoughts, our prayers are with the families of those victims, with the survivors of yesterday’s terrible mass shooting, with the front-line grocery store employees, and with every member of our community here in Boulder.
Akilah Hughes: He also retweeted statements from the victims’ families, shared mental health resources in Colorado, and called for an end to the filibuster to enact meaningful gun reform, including universal background checks and banning assault weapons. We’ll keep you updated on the situation. But one last story to check in on from yesterday: AstraZeneca. You know, you’ve been following the crazy ins and outs of the saga. We really were just joking about talking about them every single day. But it does seem to be our lives now. So what is the latest here?
Gideon Resnick: I honestly feel like my brain is going to explode from this. So, Cliff Notes: yesterday, we talked about this encouraging information released by AstraZeneca about their U.S. vaccine trials, the company’s first uniformly good bit of news in a while. Well, that lasted about 24 hours. Less than even.
Akilah Hughes: Oh no.
Gideon Resnick: After midnight on the East Coast that day, an independent oversight board that was helping to oversee the trial accused AstraZeneca of basically selectively choosing data that was, quote “most favorable” instead of the most updated and complete info. And here’s the thing: according to The New York Times, the efficacy might have been something between 69 and 74%, and the one that was presented was 79. That’s again, also the arguably less important number than the 100%success against severe disease. But I digress. Anyway, the company has just made a ton of unnecessary errors for a vaccine that is by most measures successful. As Dr. Fauci put it, following the update from the board, quote “Any type of thing like this could unfortunately contribute to a lack of confidence in the process.” AstraZeneca, meanwhile, said that it is going to share its latest data with the monitoring board and put out fuller results soon. I hope that everything I just said is still relevant a few hours from now, but that’s the latest.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Wednesday, WAD squad, and in place of today’s temp check, we’re trying out a new segment called Nothing But Net, where we talk about a story that took over the Internet.
Gideon Resnick: Oh, yeah.
Akilah Hughes: OK, so today we’re looking at yesterday’s Shrimp-omin Toast Crunch saga: Shrimp-amon Toast Crunch, the tales you can see. Um. [laughs]
Gideon Resnick: Oh god.
Akilah Hughes: Right. So basically, a comedian named Jensen Karp found sugar-encrusted shrimp tails in his Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Gideon Resnick: Yes, he did.
Akilah Hughes: He tweeted out a picture of it. Everyone was grossed out and General Mills responded, claiming the shrimp tails were just, quote “an accumulation of the cinnamon sugar.” I don’t know how they can believe that, it looks like shrimp tails—
Gideon Resnick: I have seen shrimp
Akilah Hughes: —from every angle. [laughs] Yeah, don’t tell us what we’re seeing. Karp’s bag seemed to have clear tape along the bottom, so someone could have tampered with the bag after it left the Cinnamon Toast Crunch factory. As of last night, Jensen was trying to get the cereal tested to understand its contents, which also included unidentifiable black things—probably eyes from the shrimps.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. We can only assume.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, not great. Uh, Gideon, as a citizen of the Internet, were you following this and how did it make you feel?
Gideon Resnick: I did follow this. It made me feel disgusting, you know like that you would eat shrimp tails possibly by accident in otherwise good and sugary cereal. I also thought that the company was just kind of playing themselves in the way they were responding to this with these like really serious, like statements that were bad—I feel like one had hot line on it or something that was like: if this has happened to you, please call. So it was just like, it was really, you know, just take, just take the L, and either privately explain what happened, but don’t turn it into like a PR win for this guy, who is clearly riding it to the bank. Like he has thousands of posts now that are like really going full hog on telling the story.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. I mean, you know, we’ve all been in the house too long. The most exciting thing is what comes out of your cereal box. You know, I get it.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. It’s also weird that his last name is Karp as well. There’s too many fish words that are all, there’s too much convenience that’s going on here.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, definitely.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. How are you feeling about this? Do you follow the ins and outs?
Akilah Hughes: I mean, I did a little bit. I feel like I kept seeing stuff about Cinnamon Toast Crunch and then I finally saw the picture. It does look like shrimp tails.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah.
I just want to say on the record, I can see what everyone else is seeing. I would like it to be just chunks of cinnamon sugar, but that’s just not realistic. Also, if you’ve ever Cinnamon Toast Crunch, there’s always a bunch of cinnamon sugar at the bottom. It’s never shaped like shrimp tails!
Gideon Resnick: 100%.
Akilah Hughes: It’s a bad alibi. But, you know, one thing I also thought was that we haven’t had good prizes in cereal boxes in a long time, and maybe this is the prize. This is what they came up with. So congratulations. You poured some cereal, you got some free shrimp. Why are you complaining?
Gideon Resnick: It’s not that bad. When you think about it like that, it’s not that bad.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, well, just like that, we’ve explored the Internet, and we’ll be back after some ads.
Akilah Hughes: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: Five people of Asian descent were attacked in New York City this past weekend. The attacks happened as hundreds of people in the city and across the country marched to protest violence against the AAPI community. A 68-year old Sri Lankan man is in critical condition after an attacker yelled a racist slur and punched him on the subway. Disgusting. In another incident, 37-year old Katie Hou was attacked in front of her daughter while the two were on their way to an anti-hate protest. The attacks are being investigated as possible hate crimes by the NYPD, and they’ve led a large group of volunteers to create a civilian patrol team in the city. That group plans to cover Flushing and northeast Queens, which have large Asian populations, with the goal of stopping hate crimes and keeping people safe.
Akilah Hughes: Fourteen people in Minnesota have been selected as jurors in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin. According to the courts, the jury will consist of eight white people, four Black people and two people identifying as other. The selection process was notably slow and deliberate, which speaks to the difficulty legal teams had finding jurors they considered impartial. Chauvin’s defense was particularly concerned about the 27 million dollar settlement that the city of Minneapolis reached with Floyd’s family. They said the news could prejudice the jury, and asked him to the trial from Hennepin County, but the judge overseeing the case said there was nowhere else in the state where Chauvin could get a fairer trial. Opening statements are set to begin next Monday.
Gideon Resnick: Another sign of a recovering jobs market, out of work Duke, Prince Harry, finally got a nice gig working as Chief Impact Officer for a Silicon Valley life coaching startup called BetterUp. Congratulations, sir. In that role, Prince Harry will be involved in product strategy and charitable contributions. His move to an executive role differs from the way most high-profile celebrities joined companies, which is to get a seat on their boards. Harry has long been open about his struggles with grief and mental health, which is why BetterUp says he is a natural fit for his new role. Presumably, he’ll be the one on Slack, reacting to every message with a crown emoji—that is so like him. I know the guy. BetterUp didn’t say how Prince Harry would be compensated, but it’s doubtful that they can match his salary from his old boss: every person who pays taxes in England.
Akilah Hughes: Wow. Yeah, I’m glad his first job is as a C-level executive. Good for him. Former Trump lawyer and noted Kraken-tamer, Sydney Powell, is defending herself against a defamation suit by employing an advanced legal strategy. Basically, she said, “psych.”‘ Powell was sued by Dominion Voting Systems for pushing conspiracy theories that their machines tilted the election towards Biden, maybe contained the ghost of Hugo Chavez, shot Abraham Lincoln, and so on and so forth. In a new court filing, her lawyers say that she only advanced these claims as opinions, and they were so removed from reality that, quote “reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact.” One issue, though, with this argument is that as many as 3/4 of Republicans bought these claims, or others like them. I guess it still works if Powell is just saying that Republicans aren’t reasonable people, and if she is Ms. Tinfoil Hat lawyer, Esq., welcome to the resistance!
Gideon Resnick: Congratulations. We always knew you could make it over to this side. And we’re just, we’re happy to see you here.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. Thanks so much. And those are the headlines.
Akilah Hughes: One last thing before we go: on this week’s episode of America Dissected, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed talks to former Chicago city health commissioner and member of President Biden’s COVID-19 transition task force, Dr. Julie Morita, about the lessons we’ve learned, and those we still need to learn in this pandemic. Listen and subscribe to America Dissected wherever you get your podcasts.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you, subscribe, leave a review, let those crown emojis fly If you are a prince, and tell your friends to listen.
Akilah Hughes: And if you’re into reading, and not just the whole entire Internet like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out. Subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And keep fighting the good fight Dominion Voting Machines!
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, we believe in you. You’re going to get justice, and a fat-ass paycheck.
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.