In This Episode
- As debt limit negotiations continue between Republicans and the Biden Administration, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen repeated her warning that the U.S. government could run out of money to pay its bills as early as June 1st. And if a deal isn’t reached before then to avoid default, it could have catastrophic consequences for the global economy.
- Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that defunds diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at public colleges and universities in the state. DeSantis, who is widely expected to run for president, has previously criticized such programs as being “woke indoctrination.”
- And in headlines: a man armed with a metal baseball bat attacked two staffers at a Virginia Congressman’s office, Vice Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and Martha Stewart became the oldest model to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue.
- Vox: Ron DeSantis’s war on “woke” in Florida schools, explained – https://tinyurl.com/588u67we
- L.A. Times: Making tamales with Gloria Molina and other stories – https://tinyurl.com/3buyb586
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Tuesday, May 16th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson and this is What A Day which will remain spoiler free for all of our Succession fans out there.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it sounds like all of the bad parts of the last three years got squeezed into one hour. I don’t watch Succession. That feels like a win for me. I don’t know.
Tre’vell Anderson: Is that why everyone is talking about wasabi and Lacroix? I’m still too afraid to ask. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: On today’s show, a man armed with a metal baseball bat attacked two staffers at a Virginia congressman’s office. Plus, Martha Stewart has returned to her modeling roots.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. But first, an update on the ongoing drama regarding the US’s debt limit. For weeks, we’ve told y’all that the country is in danger of defaulting on its bills if the limit isn’t increased. And we’ve also mentioned the battle between Republicans and the Biden administration about it all. Well, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is once again repeating her warning that the U.S. government could run out of money as early as June 1st. But now she has also shortened the potential buffer period after that date from weeks to days. And just to be clear, June 1st is 16 days away. So time is definitely of the essence.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. So don’t really like that the buffer period is getting cut here. Thought we maybe had a little bit of time. Uh. Feels like that’s a little uncool to do. But what would be even more uncool is uh getting to that point. So please tell us, where are the negotiations on this? Like can we please have a moment of peace or are we not there?
Tre’vell Anderson: We’re not quite there yet. So Republicans still don’t want to raise the debt limit without also making some spending cuts. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy doesn’t seem to be bending quite yet on that, even though he recognizes that the deadline is coming very soon. He’s basically trying to use that impending deadline, though, to pressure President Biden. And Biden still maintains that the debt limit should be raised without stipulations at all. Still, negotiations have been ongoing. Staff are discussing both the debt ceiling and potential caps on spending in hopes of reaching a deal that satisfies each side. And Biden is reportedly scheduled to reconvene with McCarthy and the other top three congressional leaders today. What’s interesting here, though, is that McCarthy has expressed wanting to have a framework for the deal finalized by the end of this week. But Biden is supposed to be leaving for Japan to attend the G7 leaders summit on Wednesday. So we’ll have to see how close to a resolution they can get to today.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. So what happens if they don’t make a deal?
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, the U.S. has never defaulted before, but the potential impact extends far beyond the U.S. As Secretary Yellen said, it would risk undermining U.S. global economic leadership. That is because investors around the world view our government debt as a safe haven asset. And so if U.S. Treasuries were to suddenly seem risky and prompt a sell off, it could sew literal chaos in global financial markets and could permanently reduce foreign investors appetite for holding U.S. government debt. And we’re already beginning to see some of that trepidation manifest. Ahead of the G-7 summit, the finance ministers of those countries, which include the U.S., Canada, Italy, the U.K., Germany, France and Japan, they all met last week. The U.K.’s representative said, quote, “It would be absolutely devastating if America, which is one of the biggest motors of the global economy, was to have its GDP knocked off track by failure to reach agreement.” Indonesia’s representative, who also attended the meeting, also said that it may be time for countries to, quote, “learn to wean ourselves from that kind of situation at the end of the day.” But as we wait for a deal, we can expect these updates from the Treasury to ramp up in frequency, especially as things become even more urgent. We obviously will do our best to keep everyone updated on it all.
Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. Thank you for that Tre’vell. Meanwhile, uh in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis continues his quest to make the state where woke goes to die.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Priyanka Aribindi: So yesterday, he signed a bill into law that bans the state’s public colleges and universities from spending state or federal funds on diversity, equity and inclusion programs. And the law limits the ways that race can be discussed in several university level courses.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, this is not sounding great, but very little greatness comes out of Florida, at least the state legislature.
Priyanka Aribindi: Nope.
Tre’vell Anderson: So walk us through how this law actually works.
Priyanka Aribindi: Basically, none of these state colleges or universities can spend money on diversity, equity and inclusion programs. If you’re unfamiliar, the goal of DEI programs is to increase the diversity of these institutions, both in terms of students and faculty, and to create an environment where all of these students and staff can thrive. And diversity in this case isn’t limited to just race and ethnicity, though those are great kinds of diversity to have. It also can apply to sexual orientation, religious diversity and socioeconomic status. All things that are important to have in institutions of higher learning and people to be learning from and interacting with. Very much mirrors what real life is. But these DEI programs try to accomplish this in a variety of ways. So, for example, they update curriculum to reflect diverse perspectives. So not just the work of dead white men. They train professors on bias and cultural competency. They also support efforts to increase diversity among university staff. So aside from the DEI programs, the law also prevents public colleges from offering required courses that, quote, “distort significant historical events, teach identity politics, or are based on theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression or privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political or economic inequalities,” which is a striking statement because it is like so accurate, like about it just really accurately describes, you know, these systems, but they basically are like, yeah yeah yeah, so you know, like all those facts we just said? Like, absolutely do not tell anyone about those in your classrooms.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s really wild that they don’t want to offer courses that distort significant historical events without also realizing that so much of the education is already distorted because you don’t have the perspectives of, you know, diverse folks factored into some of the teaching. But, you know–
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Tre’vell Anderson: They never were trying to make sense over there.
Priyanka Aribindi: No, no, no. Like this was absolutely not about that. You’re totally right. Um Ron DeSantis signed these bills at the New College of Florida, which is a liberal arts college. It has become very conservative. You could hear protest chants in the background the whole time as the bill was being signed. This has obviously sparked a ton of backlash, both from higher education experts, First Amendment advocates, also just like regular people who are like, this is crazy. How are you going to do this for college classes for adults? Like this isn’t even just kids in school like these are adults. DeSantis could not care less, though. Here is what he had to say during the bill’s signing. Just brace yourself.
[clip of Ron DeSantis] If you want to do things like uh gender ideology, uh go to Berkeley. Go to some of these other places. That’s fine. [applause and cheers from audience]
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m just going to assume everyone’s clapping because UC Berkeley is, of course, one of the best universities in this country. Probably not the example I would use if I were uh him. But it’s just really striking what he’s trying to do here. It’s very obvious.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s just really wild because he’s basically telling people that if you want that type of education to go somewhere else, um which is just interesting. I feel like interesting is the only word that I could use to describe this foolishness, because–
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s a choice.
Tre’vell Anderson: It is super wild, but is the point here of doing all of this to just own the libs, basically?
Priyanka Aribindi: Pretty much, yes. I mean, I don’t think there are many concerned parents who are knocking down his door to act now on college curriculum decisions like this is not like a pressing issue.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: In any way, shape or form. But it is one of those things that he can do, like very loudly in this really extreme way to project who he is, get all this media attention. He’s been doing this on a whole host of issues like you’ve seen him do it on immigration policy, like where he just kind of goes wild with it and gets all of this attention. And, you know, he hasn’t declared his candidacy for 2024 yet, but there’s a pretty good sense that it’s coming. This is an interesting way to position yourself opposite to Donald Trump. I don’t really get it. I don’t really think very many people get it, but that’s fine. We don’t have to get it and we don’t have to vote for this man or Donald Trump. So that’s all I’ve got to say. But we will continue to keep you updated on what Ron DeSantis is up to, when that announcement comes. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break].
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly said that two of his staffers were hurt after a man attacked them with a metal baseball bat on Monday. According to authorities, the 49 year old suspect arrived at Connolly’s district office in Fairfax yesterday morning, demanding to see the Democratic representative. Staffers told him that Connolly was out of the office at a nearby ribbon cutting event, and that is when the suspect took a swing at one of Connolly’s senior aides. He also hit an intern who was there for her first day on the job, which is so crazy, probably like a high school or college aged kid just smacked with a baseball bat on day one of their job. I–
Tre’vell Anderson: Wow.
Priyanka Aribindi: –can’t even fathom what I would do in this situation. Both staffers were rushed to the hospital but are expected to be okay. Meanwhile, the suspect has been charged with aggravated malicious wounding for the attack. Police have yet to publicly identify a motive, though it comes amid growing concerns from members of Congress about their personal safety. I mean, like all of this happens with the political rhetoric and this animosity that has been fostered by the way that our politics are discussed. And like I’m just going to say, it’s not on our side. Like–
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Priyanka Aribindi: The way people talk and, you know, the language that you use like this is birthed extremism and it fuels this political violence that I don’t think anyone thinks is okay, regardless of what your opinions are.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: And it’s made life scary for regular like 18, 19 year old interns going to their first day of work probably ever and are like, I’m sorry, I never want to go to the workplace again.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. Especially not there. Right?
Priyanka Aribindi: No, yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: Huh yi yi. Last Thursday, Tennessee’s Republican governor Bill Lee, quietly signed a bill that provides extra legal protection for gun and ammo manufacturers and dealers. Its passage comes a little less than two months after the elementary school shooting in Nashville that killed three children and three adults and would effectively shield gun companies from lawsuits stemming from such violence. The measure cleared the state’s House of Representatives in March, right before the Nashville shooting, but passed the state Senate just a few weeks after the massacre. It will take effect on July 1st. But the hypocrisy doesn’t stop there. Governor Lee is also somehow calling on those same Republican lawmakers to keep guns away from people who may be a danger to themselves or others. He has scheduled a special legislative session in August to, quote, “strengthen public safety and preserve constitutional rights when it comes to guns.” Seems interesting that we would put the gun manufacturers before strengthening public safety. But what do I know? Maybe my priorities are messed up.
Priyanka Aribindi: Vice Media, the brash new media startup known for its bold and edgy storytelling, has officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A group of lenders submitted a bid to buy the company for $225 million dollars and will also be taking over the company’s debt, which, according to filings, is in the neighborhood of about $834 million dollars, which is quite a lot of money. The group, which includes Fortress Investment Group and Soros Fund Management, which we should note has a minority stake in Crooked Media, has taken on a $20 million dollar loan to keep the lights on at VICE while the sale goes through for the next two or three months. That means that VICE can keep paying its journalists and other staff to keep daily operations going. At its peak, VICE was valued at over $5 billion dollars and attracted big name investors like 21st Century Fox and Disney. But like other companies in the digital media space, the company faltered in recent years. And just a few weeks ago announced layoffs and the end of Vice News tonight.
Tre’vell Anderson: For the first time ever, the United Nations officially observed the 75th anniversary of the Nakba yesterday. That’s the annual commemoration of the mass displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from what is now Israel. The Nakba, which means the catastrophe has been marked by Palestinian communities for decades. But there was strong resistance to the initiative among some U.N. member nations. As you can imagine, Israel wasn’t pleased. Its officials actually encouraged a boycott of the initiative, calling it, quote unquote, “despicable.” And 30 U.N. member nations ended up voting against the initiative, including the United States and Canada. And the American mission to the international body said no American diplomats were present at yesterday’s commemoration. And just a quick side note here, the United Nations had a hand in triggering the displacement when it divvied up then British controlled Palestine into Arab and Jewish states back in 1948.
Priyanka Aribindi: Los Angeles is mourning the loss of one of its trailblazing political leaders. Gloria Molina died Sunday evening at age 74 after a three year long battle with cancer. Molina’s decades long career was marked by her becoming the first Latina to hold several seats in state and local politics. She was the first Latina to serve in the California Assembly, the first Latina elected to the Los Angeles City Council and the first Latina to hold a seat on the powerful L.A. County Board of Supervisors. She got her start in politics as a student at East Los Angeles College, where she participated in the 1968 blowouts, where thousands of Chicano students across L.A. walked out demanding better conditions at local schools, as well as the 1970 Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War. By the mid-seventies, Molina joined a groundbreaking civil rights lawsuit against an L.A. hospital for sterilizing Latina patients without their consent. Her many achievements inspired women and Latinx folks to pursue political careers. And in a Facebook post, her family said, quote, “We are so proud that Gloria will be remembered in history for the impact that she made on Los Angeles, the state, and country. For us, Gloria will be remembered in our hearts as our loving mom and grandmother, protective older sister, wise Tía, and loyal friend.”
Tre’vell Anderson: And we’d be remiss if we didn’t give a shout out to Martha Stewart today. The 81 year old now holds the honor of becoming the oldest person to pose for Sports Illustrated’s 2023 swimsuit issue. And it’s very likely that she is also the first convicted felon to put on a tasteful one piece for the annual spread. And you know what? Diversity. Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: We love it. We love to see it.
Tre’vell Anderson: We love that. Representation matters. All right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Fact.
Tre’vell Anderson: Like the good journalists we are we of course actually read the articles. And she told the magazine, quote, “I don’t think about age very much, but I thought that this is kind of historic.” Truly beauty has no age and she deserves credit where credit is due. Martha is not the only one getting the CoverGirl treatment, though. Actor Megan Fox and model Brooks Nader will also grace the coveted cover, along with singer songwriter Kim Petras, who is now the second transwoman to pose for the iconic swimsuit edition. Leyna Bloom was the first back in 2021. So we love to see that. Shout out to all of the diversity right?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: Present on the Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s very exciting. I will just zoom right in on Martha for a minute because like this is quite a spread, if you have not seen it, it just is Martha being Martha. Like peak Martha, icon, perfect blow out. It doesn’t get better than that. She looks fantastic. Made me proud to be a Martha fan, I guess.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. You know what? I want to now be on the cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue when I’m 81 years old.
Priyanka Aribindi: Whoa.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. I mean, I feel like we can get you there sooner, but, like, [laughter] let’s do it again at 81. Why not? The campaign has started here first, get Tre’vell on SI swimsuit.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Hashtag something or other. And those are the headlines. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Send Kevin McCarthy a calendar reminder for June 1st and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you are into reading and not just the latest swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
[spoken together] And be careful with your Wasabi.
Priyanka Aribindi: You do not have to tell me twice. That is something you don’t want to be messing around with.
Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] Well, yeah, I don’t eat wasabi anyway in the first place, so I think I’m good here.
Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t really eat it either. Too spicy for me, not for me. [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla, and Raven Yamamoto is our associate producer. Jocey Coffman is our head writer and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.