In This Episode
- The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt opened on Wednesday for the first time since the Israel-Hamas war began. The move comes after a deal was reached this week to allow foreign nationals, aid workers, and some injured Palestinians to leave the embattled enclave.
- Representative George Santos of New York survived a House vote that would have removed him from Congress. But he isn’t off the hook just yet: he’s still under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, and his criminal trial for fraud and money laundering is tentatively scheduled for next September.
- And in headlines: families of transgender teenagers asked the Supreme Court to block Tennessee’s ban on gender-affirming care for youth, the Biden administration announced a narrower plan to forgive student loan debt, and teachers at Oregon’s largest school district are on strike for the first time ever.
- POLITICO Magazine: 3 Expert Shoemakers Say Ron DeSantis Is Probably Wearing Height Boosters – https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2023/10/31/desantis-boots-shoemakers-00121044
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, November 2nd. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What a Day. On today’s show, families of transgender teens ask the Supreme Court to block Tennessee’s ban on gender affirming care for youth. Plus, teachers at Oregon’s largest school district are on strike for the first time ever.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, after weeks of waiting, the border crossing between southern Gaza and Egypt opened for the first crossing of civilians out of Gaza yesterday. Aside from the four hostages released by Hamas, this appears to be the first time that anyone has been able to leave the Gaza Strip since the war between Israel and Hamas began. And hundreds of people were able to cross via busses and ambulances. These evacuations came as the result of a deal negotiated on Tuesday between Israel, Egypt, the United States, Qatar and Hamas to let foreigners, aid workers and people who are critically wounded to leave Gaza in the coming days.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, this is definitely welcome news across the globe. And can you tell us more about the people who got to leave Gaza yesterday?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So busses yesterday took 361 people, including a few Americans, into Egypt and ambulances took 45 Palestinians who were severely injured, along with some of their family members, to Egyptian hospitals. That is according to Al Qahera, which is a state run TV channel in Egypt. Those numbers are actually lower than what was expected today. Some people weren’t able to get to the border and some were not willing to leave without members of their family who weren’t approved to cross over. As I said, a few Americans were included in this initial group. Officials declined to share the exact number, but more are expected to exit Gaza today and in the next few days. According to the State Department, there are still roughly 400 Americans, along with their eligible family members who want to leave Gaza. And the department has been in communication with their families about getting them home.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, I know. That’s got to be welcome news for these families who are waiting to be reunited.
Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely.
Juanita Tolliver: And also, I can’t imagine the treacherous journey it might be depending upon where they are in Gaza, especially if they’re not close to the border right now.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: On yesterday’s show, we discussed Israel’s airstrike on the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza. Do we have any more details about what happened there?
Priyanka Aribindi: Well, actually, there was another Israeli airstrike on the same area yesterday as well. The first of the strikes on Tuesday, which according to the Israeli military, targeted and killed a senior Hamas commander, also killed over 50 people and left another 150 people wounded while destroying dozens of buildings in the area. At the time of our recording, the scale of the later strikes on Jabaliya were not entirely clear. But as rescue workers in Gaza tried to locate and help victims of the previous day’s airstrikes, there was another major interruption to Gaza’s Internet and phone service for 8 hours yesterday.
Juanita Tolliver: Wow.
Priyanka Aribindi: Meaning that none of the area’s 2 million residents could communicate via phone or Internet for quite some time. We just discussed, you know, if people had difficulty getting to the border, a lot of people, you know–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: –may be eligible to cross out of Gaza. This inability to communicate for this long period of time certainly extends that process for longer than it needs to be.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, And it really is telling that these signal jamming moments happen when there are these airstrikes also happening. And so it’s unclear why–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: –that just keeps coinciding. But tell us more about the international reaction to the strikes on Jabaliya.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So the reaction to these strikes and Israel’s continued bombardment of Gaza has been widespread, diplomatically speaking. Jordan, which is a major U.S. ally in the Middle East, recalled its ambassador to Israel yesterday. They said it was in response to the civilian deaths and unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. Bolivia on Tuesday cut diplomatic ties with Israel. Chile and Colombia also recalled their ambassadors. In a statement, Chile called the airstrikes, quote, “collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza.” Chile is also notably home to the largest community of Palestinian people outside of the Middle East. As of the time of our recording, the U.S. State Department had not made any assessments of whether the strike violated international law. That is according to department spokesman Matthew Miller. Certainly a question I imagine that they will get a lot of in the coming days. But earlier yesterday, President Biden, who was in Minnesota for a campaign event, was confronted by a protester demanding a cease fire. Take a listen.
[clip of Rabbi protester in Minnesota] Mr. President.
[clip of crowd reaction to protester] Oh, my God.
[clip of Rabbi protester in Minnesota] If you care about Jewish people. As a Rabbi, I need you to call for a cease fire right now.
[clip of crowd reaction to protester] No, sit down. Get out. [banter]
Priyanka Aribindi: According to reporters who were in the room, the president responded saying, quote, “I think we need a pause. A pause means time to get the prisoners out.”
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, that’s markedly different from what the official line from the Biden administration has been thus far and different from the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., vetoing the humanitarian pause in the Security Council vote a couple of weeks back. So that’s a big shift.
Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. And we will see, you know, if that plays out diplomatically in the coming days, something we will all be watching very closely. Meanwhile, the fighting on the ground continues. At least 15 Israeli soldiers have been killed in northern Gaza since Tuesday. Those are the first casualties that the IDF has confirmed publicly since the initial phase of the ground invasion started on Friday. And the death toll in Gaza has approached 8800.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, thank you for that update, Priyanka. We want to switch gears now because last night Republican Representative George Santos survived an expulsion vote, giving him the opportunity to lie in Congress and to the voters of New York’s third Congressional District for at least another day.
Priyanka Aribindi: Great.
Juanita Tolliver: And it wasn’t a tight vote as the final count on the resolution to expel Santos was 213 no votes, 179 yes votes and 19 present votes. Now, going into this, House Speaker Mike Johnson hinted at this outcome when he said on Fox earlier this week that Santos deserves due process. So that really set the tone and expectation that Santos would be saved by Republicans, even though it was New York Republicans who put forth this resolution to expel him.
Priyanka Aribindi: All right. Everyone here had the opportunity to band together, had the opportunity to, you know, have this common enemy and allow that allow that to bring them bring them together as a group.
Juanita Tolliver: Such low hanging fruit.
Priyanka Aribindi: They could have done the right thing. They really just could have and they didn’t. And not even by like a close margin either, as you pointed out. So let’s rewind a little bit. How did we get to this floor vote?
Juanita Tolliver: Well, just as federal prosecutors announced additional criminal charges against George Santos last month, five House Republicans decided that they’d seen enough and they introduced a motion to expel him from Congress. Their argument was largely based on their concerns about Santos’s morality. And it can also be inferred that since they represent swing districts, they wanted to take a stand on Santos ahead of their tough reelection campaigns in 2024.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, this wasn’t the first time members of Congress have even called for George Santos’s expulsion from Congress. Walk us through what’s happened here.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, this is the worst Groundhog Day episode ever. But the last time we were here, it was New York Democrats who called for Santos’s expulsion. What’s also different this go around is that Santos has been charged with 23 criminal counts, which include wire fraud, credit card fraud, money laundering, identity theft, and more related to his congressional campaign. Santos has pleaded not guilty to the charges. But for this to be the second unsuccessful attempt to expel Santos reiterates the sickening reality that House Republicans will do whatever it takes to hold on to every single member of the Republican conference since their majority is tiny. It reeks of desperation, but it’s exactly in line with how the GOP operates. I mean, look at their undying fealty to one Donald J. Trump.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, absolutely. Really not a party with a history of doing the right thing at all.
Juanita Tolliver: Mm mm.
Priyanka Aribindi: So this unfortunately makes sense. So what happens next? Does George Santos just get to uh, as you said, live another day to lie to Congress [laugh] like what do we keep an eye out for?
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, for now, right? Because the House Ethics Committee investigation is still going and they’re expected to take next steps as early as November 17th. It’s unclear what those steps will be, but the committee shared in a written update that it, quote, “has contacted 40 witnesses, reviewed more than 170,000 pages of documents and authorized 37 subpoenas.” And then there’s George Santos’s trial, which has already been scheduled for September 2024. Now, I’m sure all of this might put just a tiny damper on his reelection campaign. But polls have shown that the vast majority of voters in his district want him gone, and that’s across partisan lines. So it doesn’t matter. Democrat, Republican, Independent, they’re like over him.
Priyanka Aribindi: We can’t rely on these people in Congress for this, but I guess we can rely on the voters so that at least there’s something to take a little bit of solace in, I suppose.
Juanita Tolliver: Just a little bit. That’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: Transgender teens, their families and medical providers asked the Supreme Court yesterday to block Tennessee’s ban on gender affirming care for trans minors. Lawyers for the ACLU who are representing the families asked the high court to review an appeals court decision from September allowing the ban to remain in effect. That ruling also applies to similar restrictions in Kentucky. As a reminder, the Tennessee ban prohibits trans youth from getting hormones or puberty blockers and also bars them from any gender affirming surgery. What’s more, it also forces youth currently undergoing such treatment to end their care by the end of next March. Across the country, more than 20 states since 2021 have passed laws banning or restricting gender affirming medical care for trans youth, even though it is supported by every single major medical association in the country. Their stances have not wavered on this. And if the Supreme Court agrees to take on this case, it would be the first time the justices will weigh in on the matter. In a statement, one of the plaintiffs, a 15 year old identified only by their initials, LW, said, quote, “I want the justices to know transgender people are not going away and that we deserve the same rights as everyone else.”
Juanita Tolliver: Period. LW said what needed to be said.
Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely, said it beautifully, no one could have said it better.
Juanita Tolliver: House Republicans quietly decided to table a vote yesterday to censure Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib. It was brought last week by none other than Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene. She accused Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, of quote unquote, “anti-Semitic activity” and “sympathizing with terrorist organizations” for her criticism of Israel’s military response to the Hamas attack on October 7th. Greene, in her characteristically unhinged way, even went further by claiming that Tlaib was trying to lead an insurrection by attending a recent cease fire rally at the Capitol. I’m like, Miss Greene, you know exactly what an insurrection is.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, girl.
Juanita Tolliver: You helped with that last one.
Priyanka Aribindi: You were there in spirit.
Juanita Tolliver: Tlaib called Greene’s resolution, quote unquote, “deeply Islamophobic.” In all, only 408 lawmakers bothered to go on the record to weigh in. But remarkably, 23 Republicans voted in favor of just letting the whole thing go. Meanwhile, Democrats scrapped their plans to censure Greene right back. That resolution was introduced by Vermont Representative Becca Balint. And over the course of eight pages, it details the very long list of foolishness that Greene has said since she took office nearly three years ago, including her endorsement of an actual insurrection. Y’all, I read through the list and I just got a shout out the staffer or intern who put this together, who moved–
Priyanka Aribindi: Its long.
Juanita Tolliver: –effortlessly between the antisemitism to the attacks on Asian-Americans, to the homophobic attacks, to the Islamophobic attacks, and so on and so on. Because the list was long.
Priyanka Aribindi: Was it alphabetized, that I mean–
Juanita Tolliver: Not alphabetized.
Priyanka Aribindi: That’s incredible.
Juanita Tolliver: But there are dates in these receipts and, you know, I love that.
Priyanka Aribindi: Do we put it in our shownotes? Might have to. And in Portland, Oregon, teachers and other school staffers are on strike. They walked off the job yesterday, canceling classes for about 45,000 students in Oregon’s largest school district. According to their union, the Portland Association of Education. It’s the first strike of its kind ever for the district. They are calling for higher wages, more time lesson planning, limits on class sizes, and even proper temperature control for their classrooms. If you’ve ever tried to do anything in a room that is too cold or too hot, you might start to understand why that might not be an ideal learning environment, especially for children who–
Juanita Tolliver: Exactly.
Priyanka Aribindi: –who might lack the focus or ability to do that that adults may have. The strike comes after months of unsuccessful negotiations between the union and district administrators. And last month, a whopping 99% of union members voted to authorize the walkout. Schools are expected to remain closed through at least today. Representatives on both sides, along with a state mediator, are set to meet tomorrow. Listen, we all know teachers, they are heroes.
Juanita Tolliver: Absolutely.
Priyanka Aribindi: They educated all of us. They are educating our future. We must pay these people. Everybody who is striking has valid reasons. But the teacher is like, come on people.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, we 100% stand with the teachers. And staying with education, the Biden administration this week announced a new, narrower plan to forgive student loan debt. Under the revised proposals, the Department of Education would cancel all or some debt for borrowers experiencing the most extreme hardships. The plan includes borrowers who owe more than what they originally took out, which should really emphasize the scam of all of this right there.
Priyanka Aribindi: Such a scam.
Juanita Tolliver: Such a scam. People who took out big loans for job training programs and those who have been paying back their loans for 25 years or longer. Let me just say this. Borrowing money to attend school should not come with a life sentence.
Priyanka Aribindi: That’s absolutely not okay. Is such an indicator of a failed broken system. I don’t know what else could be.
Juanita Tolliver: The hope is that the administration can make good on its promise to help at least some people saddled with student loan debt. The Supreme Court earlier this year struck down the original plan that would have canceled up to $20,000 in debt for an estimated 43 million Americans. Meanwhile, the Education Department has come down on one of the largest federal student loan servicers in the country. The department said it is withholding more than $7 million dollars in payments it owes for the month of October to the Higher Education Loan Authority of the state of Missouri. That’s because the servicer failed to send out one time billing statements to two and a half million borrowers. As a result, about 800,000 of them were unable to make their first loan payments since the three year hiatus during the pandemic. Meanwhile, affected borrowers will be placed into administrative forbearance by the servicer until the issue is resolved. My goodness.
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. And finally, some hard hitting political journalism from the 2024 campaign trail. Ron DeSantis says he does not wear boot lifts to appear taller.
Juanita Tolliver: Prove it.
Priyanka Aribindi: My director says that is a lie. [laughter] This comes amid mounting discussion about the Florida governor’s true height. And as a result, the Internet has become obsessed with his oddly shaped cowboy boots over the past few weeks. DeSantis claims to be 5′ 11″. They all do. But the journalists over at Politico decided that that needed a fact check. They spoke to expert shoemakers to get to the bottom of it. And the consensus among them is that, yes, he definitely does.
Juanita Tolliver: Wow.
Priyanka Aribindi: One of the experts interviewed claims he has helped several politicians with their lifts. Juanita’s like mouth wide open–
Juanita Tolliver: My mind is–
Priyanka Aribindi: –in shock.
Juanita Tolliver: –exploding. [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: We got to know. We got to know. Adding that sticking inserts into cowboy boots in particular can basically turn them into, quote, “five inch stilettos.”
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, my God. Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. Don’t break an ankle out there Ron.
Juanita Tolliver: Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: And DeSantis might be going to these lengths or heights in this case because he’s trying to literally gain a few inches on his presidential campaign rival Donald Trump, who unfortunately is six foot three. Hate to say it, but it is sadly true. It does not help that Trump has thought about calling DeSantis tiny D either.
Juanita Tolliver: It appropriate.
Priyanka Aribindi: We will not be expounding on that. This is a family friendly program. For what it’s worth, DeSantis’s campaign denies the article’s claims, but we here at WAD would like to say, just remember to step with your heel first and take it slow.
Juanita Tolliver: When I tell you, I have the visual in my mind of his toes, just like scrunched up and–
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, yes.
Juanita Tolliver: –slamming into the front of his boots because he’s got these lifts in there. It’s ridiculous. I will be watching his gait and his step very closely in the future.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, my God.
Juanita Tolliver: Just to see– [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: Truly going to bring out the eagle eyes in the best of us. And those are the headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review and tell your friends to listen.
Juanita Tolliver: What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi. [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 Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers and our senior producer is Lita Martínez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.