In This Episode
- Smoke and haze from wildfires burning in Canada have blanketed much of the eastern United States. Several cities, including New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C., remain under air quality alerts, and forecasters warn that dangerous conditions could linger for days.
- Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law is back in the spotlight, after the woman accused of fatally shooting Ajike “AJ” Owens, was arrested Tuesday night. Authorities say Owens, who was Black, was shot through the front door of her white neighbor’s home last week, following a dispute involving Owens’ children.
- Gothamist: How to protect your lungs as NYC’s air quality suffers from wildfires – https://gothamist.com/news/how-to-protect-your-lungs-as-nycs-air-quality-suffers-from-wildfires
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, June 8th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What A Day. Where we’re still processing the finale of The Ultimatum: Queer Love.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. I need to catch up on this. So does it really take 3 hours just to watch a single episode? [laughter] Because that’s what I’m hearing.
Juanita Tolliver: When I tell you you will be gagged. You’ll need to rewind and replay everything. Just trust me on this one. [laughing] [music break] On today’s show, former Vice President Mike Pence has thrown his hat into the ring for the 2024 presidential race. Plus, federal regulators are cracking down on cryptocurrency.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, smoke and haze from Canadian wildfires have enveloped the East Coast of the United States. Nearly 75 million people across the Northeast, Southeast and the Midwest are under air quality alerts. I currently am coming to you live from New York City, which as a result of this now has the worst air quality of any major city in the entire world.
Juanita Tolliver: Yikes.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yikes is right. The air quality index hit 484 on Wednesday. The scale is from 0 to 500. So that is an incredibly alarming figure. Things are really not good here. To paint a picture for all of you. It has been hazy here since Tuesday afternoon. It’s only gotten worse since then. Visibility is down during the daytime. It was this eerie orange color outside. It smells smoky even when you are inside. Like me I haven’t left my apartment all day and I feel very lucky to have been able to do that. I personally have developed a raging headache, which might not be the kind of details you come here for, but it feels like it’s just kind of letting you in on what it’s like. But Juanita, I know you’re on the East Coast as well. How are you doing through all of this?
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, my area doesn’t look like Mars, like New York yet. But what I have noticed is that people aren’t taking this seriously. When we walk the dogs. We see people riding in their convertibles like chilling.
Priyanka Aribindi: Geez.
Juanita Tolliver: No masks, no worries, no nothing. But I feel like that’s going to change soon.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: Tell us more about where this smoke is coming from, though.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So in Canada, hundreds of wildfires have been burning for weeks now, which I don’t know if we grasped the magnitude of that. That’s huge. Warm and dry conditions there have put the country on track for its worst ever year for wildfires. I mean, the year not halfway through, even at this point. So that does not bode well.
Juanita Tolliver: Mm mm.
Priyanka Aribindi: It truly is a disaster of epic proportions and not only for Canada, as we’re now seeing. The smoke has already hit places like New York and Philadelphia. More is expected to arrive in the D.C. area by the time we record this on Wednesday night. And it could move much further than that, according to analysis from a Stanford University researcher, the smoke impact on Tuesday alone was the third worst in the U.S. since 2006. Though regions in the West Coast have experienced higher levels of exposure during their own wildfires. The impact of this is thought to be higher because it’s affecting so many densely populated areas in these East Coast cities and the surrounding areas.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, and it makes me think of what our producer Lita mentioned, like spending an hour or a few hours outside is like smoking a half a pack of cigarettes. And that is ridiculously scary.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I believe it.
Juanita Tolliver: How long are these conditions supposed to last?
Priyanka Aribindi: That’s a really good question. It could take several days for the air to clear up. In New York City, the unhealthy air quality is expected to stay through this morning and could last through the entire day. Forecasts show that from tonight to Friday, it could move further west into western Pennsylvania and Ohio. But it’s tough to say exactly what will happen here because we don’t know how much smoke the wildfires, which continue to burn as we speak, will produce over the following days and if there will be any progress in putting them out. The weather conditions at the moment have also created a perfect storm, so to speak, for the smoke to hold up and stay closer to the surface. For example, if there had been calmer winds instead of the strong ones over the wildfires, the smoke would have risen and dispersed more easily, making the haze that we see and the smoke that we breathe less concentrated. But that obviously isn’t what happened here. Like, we kind of are in the worst possible scenario.
Juanita Tolliver: And you mentioned that fires are continuing to burn, and that’s because there’s so few resources to fight these fires. I know in Canada–
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: –they’re really focused on the fires around dense areas, but letting the rest go, and that’s concerning.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Juanita Tolliver: What can we do to stay safe right now?
Priyanka Aribindi: What you just brought up is totally that’s the reality of what’s going on here. There are hundreds of wildfires. It’s really scary. And if you didn’t believe we were in a climate catastrophe before, you should now. But I will say there are definitely a few things we can all be doing to stay safe. Now is not the time to be outside if you can help it. I mean, skip the outdoor runs, skip the errands or trips that you might not need to make. Keep your windows closed. I know a lot of people in New York City were told to work from home today. If you can’t do that, you need to commute to work or have to go outside to get groceries, to walk your dog, wear an N95 or a KN95 mask. Most people became familiar with these kinds of masks during COVID. They can keep most of the smoke particles from damaging your lungs, certainly much better than if you’re just going out and breathing the air normally. Obviously, if you have an air purifier, now is its time to shine. Use it if you have it, but also if you have air conditioning, run it. That can help recirculate the air inside your home. Turning on your fan to circulate the air is also a good idea. Just anything to get the air moving. And also there are some things that we can avoid that you might not even think of. I mean, steer clear of burning candles or lighting fires, frying food, even inside your home at this time. You just want to take it as easy as you can on your lungs while these conditions are so bad because your lungs are already contending with a lot with the air quality, you just don’t want to overtax them. And of course, if you’re able to check on anyone you know who may be vulnerable, if you have older neighbors, if you have friends with asthma, if someone’s coming to mind, as I’m saying this, check in with them and just see, you know, how is it like where they are? Is there anything that they need? Because for these people, it’s not quite as simple as throwing on a mask and going outside if they need something that could be–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: –even more damaging for them.
Juanita Tolliver: And you know who else folks need to check in with? All those climate denying Republicans who refuse to believe that all of this will keep happening and keep getting worse.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I’d love to get a comment from them right now, it feels real quiet.
Juanita Tolliver: Real quiet. In other news, nearly four days after shooting Ajike “AJ” Owens through a closed door in Ocala, Florida, Susan Lorincz has been arrested by the Marion County sheriff’s office and charged with manslaughter with a firearm, culpable negligence, battery, and two counts of assault. In Florida, manslaughter with a firearm is a first degree felony charge and is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. The arrest and charges come after days of Owens’s family and community leaders holding vigils and pleading with local law enforcement to take action. Take a listen to what AJ’s mother, Pamela Dias, said after learning of the arrest and the charges.
[clip of Pamela Dias] Tonight was a pivotal moment. With the arrest of the perpetrator who shot and tragically killed my daughter in Ocala, Florida. I would like to thank all the community leaders, everyone near and far, everyone who supported us in achieving this victory tonight. It does not go unappreciated. I know it’s a long road ahead. But together we can do this. And I thank you.
Juanita Tolliver: When I tell you I am beyond heartbroken for AJ, for her mother and sisters, for her children. And I’m furious that it took almost four days to arrest this woman. Like, what the hell was that?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it feels like to get real consequences, the whole country has to get outraged, and that shouldn’t be what happens here.
Priyanka Aribindi: Nope.
Juanita Tolliver: But what do we know about AJ and this tragic shooting?
Juanita Tolliver: AJ Owens was a 35 year old mother of four whose family describes her as someone with an infectious personality and a, quote, “smile that would light up the room.” She was known in her community as a team mom for her children’s football and cheerleading teams and as a caring single mother who would, quote, “give to other single mothers that were in similar situations that she’d been in.” She was all around a loving person who adored her children. And now she’s set to be laid to rest on Monday. Regarding the shooting last Friday, AJ was simply defending her children, who were playing in an open field near their apartment, and she was killed when she went to confront her neighbor, Susan Lorincz. According to reports, the fact that AJ’s children were playing in the field is what upset Lorincz to the point of shouting racial slurs, swinging an umbrella and throwing objects at the children, including roller skates. And later, firing the single deadly shot through a closed door while AJ stood on the porch with her nine year old son right beside her. The shooting occurred after a two and a half year feud between the two neighbors, and the local sheriff has described the shooting as, quote, “simply a killing.”
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. I mean, all of this is horrific, but simply a killing seems to make absolutely no sense. That is a huge deal. Nothing simple, really about that. Why did it take the sheriff so long to make an arrest that, like a killing is is a huge crime?
Juanita Tolliver: Cue the backwards laws of Florida. And in this situation specifically, the Stand Your Ground law. According to reports, the sheriff stated that because of that single law, no arrests could be made until he could prove that the shooter did not act in self-defense. And one of the statements AJ’s mother repeatedly made in recent days was that AJ, quote, “had no weapon and she posed no imminent threat to anyone.” Ultimately, Lorincz was only arrested late Tuesday night after evidence and witness statements were collected and detectives concluded their investigation of her self-defense claims. The other tragic reality here is that some of those key witnesses were, in fact, AJ’s own children. Ben Crump, one of the attorneys representing the Owens family, told reporters that it was a relief to tell the children of the arrest. He added, quote, “Today we get to share with her children and try to make sure they understand that this senseless act of violence that killed their mother before their eyes was not their fault.” My heart truly breaks for these babies like their mother was snatched away from them and their lives. And this is another example of no real justice because they can never get her back. Of course, we’ll continue to follow this story as it develops. But that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after these ads.
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: Former Vice President Mike Pence is now the latest candidate to squeeze into the GOP’s clown car of 2024 presidential candidates. Just a terrible clown car to be in, if you ask me. He kicked off his campaign yesterday in Iowa and got just about as spicy as mother would let him on a weeknight.
Juanita Tolliver: Yikes.
Priyanka Aribindi: By denouncing his ex-boss–
Juanita Tolliver: Oh no.
Priyanka Aribindi: –former President Donald Trump. Pence questioned Trump’s conservative principles, though he mainly focused on his break from Trump during the January 6th riot and his refusal to go along with Trump’s scheme to overturn the 2020 election. Remarkably, he made that point in the absolute most boring way possible. Take a listen.
[clip of Mike Pence] On that fateful day, President Trump’s words were reckless, endangering my family and everyone at the Capitol. But the American people deserve to know that on that day, President Trump also demanded that I choose between him and the Constitution.
Juanita Tolliver: This man sounds like unseasoned chicken. He’s dry as hell and he’s refusing to, like, even get to the point of literally this armed mob was chanting hang Mike Pence, and that’s the energy you got in response?
Priyanka Aribindi: This man thought he really did something with those pauses. Like he just [laughter] really thought which–
Juanita Tolliver: He said, add dramatic effect. No.
Priyanka Aribindi: Like seriously, sir. How many times do you think he practiced that in the mirror? That just. Ooh. Anyways, for what it is worth, no other Republican candidate has bothered to mention January 6th in their announcement speeches. Kudos to you, Mike, for doing the absolute bare minimum. Keep doing your thing in the mirror. I’m sure you’ll only get better from here. [laugh]
Juanita Tolliver: How about you add the ultimate pause and just drop out tomorrow? You know?
Priyanka Aribindi: Wouldn’t mind, wouldn’t mind.
Juanita Tolliver: The Securities and Exchange Commission went after two of the biggest players in crypto this week. On Monday, it sued Binance, the world’s largest crypto trading exchange, accusing the platform of fraud and mishandling customer funds. Less than 24 hours later, regulators filed suit against Binance’s US based competitor Coinbase for allegedly operating as an unregistered brokerage. While the prices of Bitcoin and other major tokens have since rebounded, the action could pose an existential threat to the largely unregulated industry of invisible Internet money. That’s because in the case against Coinbase, the feds argue that cryptocurrencies should be treated as securities like stocks in a company and not like commodities. Think gold, cash or tickets to see Beyonce.
Priyanka Aribindi: Terms we understand.
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, clearly. So if you’re still holding on to your crypto coins for dear life, consider this. In its complaint against Binance, the SEC cited the company’s chief compliance officer who sent this message to one of his colleagues in 2018. Quote, “We are operating as a fucking unlicensed securities exchange in the U.S., bro.” What the fuck was that like? Okay. One–
Priyanka Aribindi: There’s so much.
Juanita Tolliver: Your Slack messages are record, two like you literally admitted it and it can be subpoenaed and used against you so.
Priyanka Aribindi: And let’s not forget three. The bro which I just. [laughter] I’m sorry. I’ll never I’ll never be over it. My one hope from this actually has nothing to do with crypto. Sorry. Uh. It’s just that like this person was in the C-suite of this company. I don’t know. You should never think that you are incapable of doing things that ostensibly seem like it’s a big deal. Or that, like, it might be hard because, like, we really have people who talk like this doing them. So you’re fine, you’re good.
Juanita Tolliver: Idiots.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Just let that boost your self-confidence a little bit anyways. Chris Licht, who spent a tumultuous year as the chair and CEO of CNN, is now out of a job. His abrupt exit comes after he faced a volley of criticism over questionable decisions he made at the cable news network, including last month’s, quote unquote, “town hall with Donald Trump.” And just last week, Licht was the subject of a lengthy and scathing profile in The Atlantic, detailing his rocky tenure at CNN. And in other media news, The Los Angeles Times yesterday announced that it plans to cut 74 newsroom positions. In an email to staff, the L.A. Times’ executive editor said, quote, “The restructuring stems from the same persistent economic headwinds facing news media across the country.” It’s the first round of job cuts at the paper since it was acquired by billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong in 2018. The L.A. Times does really indispensable, really important work. This is–
Juanita Tolliver: Seriously.
Priyanka Aribindi: –a really a blow to news consumers, to all of us.
Juanita Tolliver: Supreme Court justices released their annual finance disclosure reports yesterday amid increased scrutiny over their outside income. I am, of course, side eyeing Justice Clarence Thomas, who, according to a bombshell report by ProPublica last month, went on lavish vacations paid for by a GOP megadonor. Unsurprisingly, Thomas asked for a 90 day extension to file that disclosure, as did Justice Samuel Alito.
Priyanka Aribindi: Good luck with that.
Juanita Tolliver: Of course they did, you know?
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: Meanwhile, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson had some receipts on her end in her filing yesterday, she disclosed that none other than Oprah Winfrey sent her a congratulatory floral display worth $1200 dollars. I feel like I need to step my game up. I don’t know.
Priyanka Aribindi: That. But I also feel like Oprah is like she’s trying to be tasteful here. Like she’s being like, you know, I’m going to send her not something crazy. This is a Supreme Court justice. $1200 feels like the right ballpark for Oprah.
Juanita Tolliver: Okay, I’m just going to claim it. Universe, please make a $1200 dollar friendly bouquet be like baseline for me one day.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, yup I think I like that.
Juanita Tolliver: Justice Jackson also noted that she received over $6500 in designer clothing for her August 2022 Vogue magazine shoot, which she decided to keep. I feel like Justice Jackson being explicitly clear, laying out her receipts is like, you ain’t finna catch me slipping. And she’s setting–
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Juanita Tolliver: –the tone for the other justices.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, and I mean, if you uh have your, I don’t know, panties in a bunch, is that what we’re going to say on this show about this? I feel like just just you wait 90 days because if you didn’t already feel that way, you got another thing coming.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s all I’ll say. And don’t be alarmed. But one of the most active volcanoes in the world erupted yesterday. And I’m not talking about that voicemail that Pete Davidson left to PETA the other day.
Juanita Tolliver: Yikes.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Yikes is right. This eruption happened inside Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, which is located on the big island inside a section of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park that is off limits to the public. The state’s volcano observatory first noticed a glow over its summit early Wednesday morning and issued an advisory shortly after. The last time Kilauea erupted was back in January and continued through March. But didn’t result in any damage to the surrounding area. Although Kilauea is the second largest volcano in the Hawaiian island chain, the last time it caused any trouble was in 2019 when it erupted amid a series of earthquakes that destroyed hundreds of residential homes and businesses. Officials say that yesterday’s eruption was contained and that the lava flow didn’t go beyond the volcano’s crater. State volcanologists say that they will keep monitoring the area as the eruption continues.
Juanita Tolliver: Okay, one volcanologist is a cool ass title. I want it.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yup.
Juanita Tolliver: I need it, two, I’m glad that this is contained and people are safe. It’s got to be super scary any time you’re near a volcano erupting. But this one sounds like it’s contained this time, which is good news.
Priyanka Aribindi: Contained uh yes. End of the world like kind of fitting with the vibes. I mean, like–
Juanita Tolliver: Oooh.
Priyanka Aribindi: There is like smoke and ash everywhere in on the East Coast, like there is volcanoes erupting. The vibes are not good. I’m just going to say that.
Juanita Tolliver: Brace yourselves, everyone. Find your nearest fresh water source. Hunker down.
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously.
Juanita Tolliver: Breathe. [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, think twice before leaving that angry voicemail and tell your friends to listen.
Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just self-incriminating quotes from Crypto bros like me, What A Day is–
Priyanka Aribindi: God.
Juanita Tolliver: –also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
[spoken together] And protect your damn lungs.
Juanita Tolliver: I feel like we went through this for the past three years. Like it should not be that hard of a fucking thing to do.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, you have the masks left over and if you don’t, I don’t know what to tell you. I already saw photos of CVS’s with signs that say no masks.
Juanita Tolliver: Why are we on repeat?
Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t like it one bit. The vibes. I told you, they’re bad. [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itzy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. [music break]