Flooding On Ukraine's Front Line | Crooked Media
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June 06, 2023
What A Day
Flooding On Ukraine's Front Line

In This Episode

  • The Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine collapsed on Tuesday, unleashing massive floods and forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes. While the cause of the collapse remains unclear, both Russia and Ukraine have blamed the other for the dam’s explosion.
  • In a win for trans rights, a federal judge in Florida partially blocked a law that bans trans youth from receiving puberty blockers and other forms of gender-affirming care. In a 44-page ruling Tuesday, Judge Robert Hinkle called the ban a political decision and not a “legitimate state interest,” adding that “gender identity is real.”
  • And in headlines: the Atlanta City Council approved funding for the controversial “Cop City” training facility, three people were killed and dozens others injured following an earthquake in southern Haiti, and Hollywood actors could join writers on the picket lines later this month.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, June 7th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What A Day where we had to double check the year on our calendars after seeing that Chris Christie is running for president again. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, this is the part where we crack a joke about him, but that might be a George Washington Bridge too far. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yikes. [laugh] But deadass, he’s about 15 years too late, not ten, 15. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: 15. [music break]

 

Juanita Tolliver: On today’s show, the Atlanta City Council approved funding for the controversial Cop City training facility. Plus, Hollywood actors could join writers on the picket lines later this month. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: But first, as if being in the middle of a huge international conflict wasn’t enough already a major dam and power system in southern Ukraine collapsed yesterday, unleashing serious flooding that has washed out villages crops and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes. The Kakhova Dam is located within a Russian occupied part of Ukraine. The river it was located on, it divides the Russian occupied territory from land that is still held by Ukraine. And the dam itself held back a body of water that was approximately the size of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. So not an insignificant amount of water here. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yikes. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And, you know, that was until the dam was destroyed on Tuesday. Both Russia and Ukraine are blaming each other for the dam’s explosion. They have both described it as a terrorist act and as an ecological disaster. At this time, it’s not yet clear what exactly happened or which country is responsible, though U.S. intelligence is leaning towards Russia being responsible, which I feel like is probably not a surprise for anyone listening to this. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: The least surprising surprise there could be. And another not surprising component of all this is that Zelensky actually asked for help supporting and protecting the dam last October. So there’s that on top of everything. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: What else do we know so far? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So in terms of human impact, at least 16,000 homes have been destroyed by the flooding so far. Thousands more are at risk. Emergency crews rushed to evacuate the most vulnerable people on the western side of the river. But the eastern bank was more difficult to immediately assess. This flooding could also have major impacts on the agricultural areas that are downstream. Global prices of wheat and corn already jumped in the past day over fears that crops will be destroyed or that Ukraine won’t be able to ship them out. Ukraine is a major supplier of many crops around the world and at home Ukraine may not be able to keep an affordable supply of these crops just for people to eat if they are impacted by the flooding. And as I said, Russia and Ukraine are both currently claiming that this was carried out by the other side. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: In addition to all the damage you described, there are some other serious concerns here. Can you outline some of those for us? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I mean, first and foremost, the Geneva Convention explicitly prohibits targeting things like dams during war because of the threat that it poses to innocent civilians, just people living their lives. So– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: If this was an act of war, which is the natural assumption. Dams don’t just blow up on a Tuesday morning out of nowhere. This was most certainly a war crime, which also is the least surprising surprise, as you said, coming from Russia. Russia has committed war crimes over the course of this conflict that has lasted over a year long now, this would not be the first time. It probably will not be the last. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yep. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Also of major concern here, the Zaporizhia nuclear plant is another huge factor. It’s located upstream of the dam and though it isn’t immediately threatened by this, this does pose a risk of overheating the plant and it could in turn threaten Ukraine’s electricity supply. And the timing of all of this, I’ll say, is rather suspect as well. This coincided with what was thought to be the start of Ukraine’s long awaited counter-offensive, unleashing a massive flood into another country certainly limits that country’s options for carrying out anything like that, because lots of resources need to be diverted in order to protect innocent people, to feed them, to rebuild from the damage. All of these people and all of these areas are facing an incredible amount of destruction at this time because of this. So a really, really big, really shocking thing that happened here. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I mean, when you put it like that, Priyanka, it’s almost like Russia planned this out and timed it out or something like– 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –wow. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Wouldn’t be the craziest thought to have. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: In other news, we have another Pride Month surprise. This time a federal judge in Florida effectively blocked DeSantis’s ban on gender affirming care for trans youth and overruled the Florida law that banned minors from receiving puberty blockers. So take that Ron DeSantis, pow! [laughing]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: We love the punch. We love a punch. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, a President Clinton appointee, called the decision to pursue the ban on puberty blockers and hormonal treatment a political decision and not a, quote, “legitimate state interest,” and that, quote, “The elephant in the room should be noted at the outset. Gender identity is real.” Period. I mean, the period came from me, but y’all get it. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: You know, it worked. We liked it. [laughter]

 

Juanita Tolliver: To further drive the point home, Judge Hinkle went on to state in yet another mic drop moment that, quote, “Dog whistles ought not be tolerated” and quote, “There is no rational basis for a state to categorically ban these treatments.” Now, I want DeSantis and all of the anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-trans Republicans who are advancing similar bills across the country to eat it, like just eat it. No doubt this is a huge win for parents and trans kids. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: A huge win for like what is right in this world, which feels like something to celebrate. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Imagine. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That is a thing to celebrate at this point in time. But can you tell us a little bit more about the specifics of this particular case? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: This lawsuit was brought by three trans youth and their families who argued that the ban is unconstitutional and that the minors would, quote, “suffer irreparable harm if they were not allowed to continue accessing hormones and other types of gender affirming treatments.” Upon reviewing Judge Hinkle’s ruling, one of the plaintiffs identified only as Jane Doe and her child as Susan said in a statement, quote, “Today, my entire family is breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing we can now access the treatment that we know will keep Susan healthy and allow her to continue being the happy, confident child she has been.” Now, it’s important to keep in mind that this ruling is a temporary block, a preliminary injunction that only applies to the three minors involved in the case and not to all trans youth in Florida who may be feeling the irreparable harm that the plaintiffs referenced in this case. But this ruling could have an impact on whether or not the ban ultimately survives the legal challenges that are making their way through the court. And it’s also critical to note that this ruling does not address the ban on surgery for minors, nor language that makes it difficult for adult trans people to access gender affirming care. So there’s still a lot of work to do to ensure that trans people have all of the care and support that they need in Florida. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely true. So how are Florida Republicans reacting to this ruling so far like I don’t even want to know. But– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Guess. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –please, [laughter] please tell us. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I mean, naturally, Ron DeSantis was unavailable for comment, but it’s clear what he thinks as he’s running for president on his inhumane anti LGBTQ+ agenda that he pushed through the Florida state legislature at warp speed and the sponsor of the original legislation in question. Republican state Representative Randy Fine said, quote, “We will not stop fighting to defend children,” of course by that, he means he will not stop explicitly targeting and harming LGBTQ youth. But okay.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: They like, say one thing and like what they’re doing is just the exact opposite. It’s like, why do you keep doing that? Why do you keep lying? It’s just strange. It’s bizarre. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I mean, but it’s the thing of the Republican Party because beyond Florida, we also know that Republicans across the country are passing anti-trans laws at a fast clip. According to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, 20 states have already passed bans on gender affirming care for minors, and seven additional states are considering similar bans. Thankfully, advocates, trans youth, and their families and physicians are challenging these laws, and we can only hope for more positive outcomes to overturn these bans. This is also part of the reason why the Human Rights Campaign has declared a national emergency as LGBTQ+ people are being attacked from every which way by Republicans. Of course, we’ll keep following this story and all the lawsuits to protect trans rights, but that’s the latest for now. [music break]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: First, we have an update on a story that we told you about yesterday. Despite widespread opposition, the Atlanta City Council ultimately decided to allocate $31 million dollars in public funds to help build the 85 acre police training facility known as Cop City. The 11 to 4 vote came down just after 5 a.m. Tuesday morning after hundreds of people crowded Atlanta’s City Hall and waited for hours to voice their concerns and opinions, many of whom were staunchly against the facility. The approval means that taxpayer money will go toward building the $90 million dollar facility, and in a leaseback agreement, the city will also have to pay another $36 million dollars over 30 years for the city’s police force to actually use it. I feel like we’ve done several episodes– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Chile. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: –on this topic. If you want to know how we feel, if you couldn’t already gauge by the way that we sound. But yeah, this is preposterous. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And in some unexpectedly serious news about an unserious sport. The PGA Tour, which organizes many of the biggest tournaments in golf, announced that it is merging with LIV Golf, a Saudi backed league that has lured world renowned golfers away from other circuits. LIV and the PGA Tour have had very public clashes that have divided the sport globally. So imagine making a public announcement that you’re now besties with your arch nemesis. But more importantly, LIV is bankrolled by PIF, one of the world’s largest independent wealth funds, which is headed by Saudi crown prince and royal psychopath Mohammed bin Salman. There’s a lot of cash behind the curtains of this announcement, no doubt. And it follows a more recent pattern of Middle Eastern investment in professional sports in Europe and beyond, including PIF’s takeover of the Newcastle United soccer team in 2021 and the United Arab Emirates picking up smaller Australian and American soccer teams. Human rights groups were quick to denounce the LIV golf merger and criticized the PGA for, quote, “giving in to the Saudi government.” And personally, my favorite response was from one senator, Chris Murphy, who tweeted that the PGA officials were apparently in his office just a few months ago saying how the Saudi’s human rights abuses disqualified them from owning a stake in the American company. But here we are. CREAM is the money. Dollar dollar bills y’all. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Three people were killed and dozens of others were injured in southern Haiti after a 4.9 magnitude earthquake hit the island early Tuesday morning. This comes just days after Haiti was hit with heavy rainfall and severe flooding over the weekend that left at least 42 people dead and dozens more hurt. According to a statement from Haitian officials, the flooding and resulting landslides have displaced more than 13,000 people, and there’s mounting concern that Haiti could be hit with more torrential rain in the coming days as hurricane season continues. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: George Santos will have to spill the tea over who helped bail him out last month after he was indicted for money laundering and other fraud charges. That’s according to a ruling from U.S. magistrate Judge Anne Shields, who said she’ll keep the names of the people who cosigned his half million dollar bond sealed for now to give Santos time to appeal. The decision came a week after news organizations asked Judge Shields to release their names, arguing that it’s a matter of public interest. Santos, for his part, said this week he’d be willing to go to jail to keep their identities secret. Like, bro, you’re not a journalist. These are not sources. Chill the fuck out. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Ugh. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: In a letter sent to the judge Monday evening, Santos’s lawyer argued that revealing their names would mean they would, quote, “likely suffer great distress, may lose their jobs and, God forbid, may suffer physical injuries.” Santos and his legal team have until noon Friday to appeal the decision and taking physical injury off the table of course, these people deserve to be embarrassed and dragged publicly for backing Joanne the scammer with a half a million dollars. Like I want to know each and every one of these people immediately. Immediately. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. I didn’t even know that people got to do this and like [laughter] not be attached to it like that feels so like why? 

 

Juanita Tolliver: The privilege. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Why would you let them do that? [laughter] Yeah. I don’t know. Just a thought. One of many things that is baffling about our, our justice system. Members of SAG-AFTRA, the union representing Hollywood actors, overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike by the end of the month unless they can sign a new labor contract with studios and production companies. The union, which represents about 160,000 TV and film actors and other broadcast talent, said on Monday night that 98% of its members approved the action. That is a stunningly high number. That is higher than the number of the percentage of writers who voted to authorize the strike for the Writers Guild. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Very, very high. The vote comes amid the ongoing Hollywood writers strike that has been going on for over a month now. And many SAF-AFTRA members have joined their striking Writers Guild colleagues on the picket lines to show their solidarity. Both unions have similar demands. Actors are seeking better compensation, especially over residual payments from streaming platforms. SAG-AFTRA members have also voiced concerns over how AI could threaten their jobs as well. While Monday’s vote doesn’t guarantee that actors will walk off the job. An actors strike could further disrupt the film and TV industry that is already struggling without its writers. The deadline for a new contract is June 30th and contract negotiations are set to begin today. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Do it, do it, do it, like literally your favorite shows Succession and Barry are over. Little Mermaid is killing it at the box office. Join the picket line. Strike! Strike! Strike! Now! 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Now is the time. I mean, unless you’re Selling Sunset. I’m so sorry if you’re one of [laughter] the Selling Sunset girls. I need you to keep showing up to work every day. But everybody else. Please do what you need to do to get what you need. We support you. Solidarity with the actors, with the writers. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I love how you think the Selling Sunset girls are actors. [laughter]. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, like– 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Like are they a part of SAG? [laughing]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Well I don’t think so um but I [laughter] Selling Sunset girls like is just to mean that like Jason and Brett Oppenheim. I’m so sorry. Like, no, they’re not [laughter] playing a large role, I would say, in the show. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Period. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s the ladies of that show that are carrying the drama. But that’s all I have to say about that. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: No lies detected.

 

Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads to consider whether it’s really worth it to drop thousands of dollars on a pair of ski goggles from the future. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: No. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. [laughter] Spoiler alert. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, WAD squad and we are coming to you with another edition of a segment that we like to call Geeks WAD, where we dive straight into an important story from the world of tech. If you are new here, Geeks WAD is spelled with the word geeks space and then the acronym WAD. Totally fair use, but please do not ask us about USB cables. We cannot help you with that. You’re in the wrong place. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I mean. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Wrong geek squad. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I feel like it’s a low lift, Priyanka, but don’t actually call me. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Well. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Because I actually don’t want to help. So. [laughing]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, USB’s might actually be easy, but Juanita we can’t like make it seem like we’re available over here. Absolutely no.

 

Juanita Tolliver: Completely unavailable. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. [laughter] Yes, we’re on the same page here. Earlier this week, Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, a chance for the tech giant to showcase its new products and technologies. This years WWDC promised to be its biggest yet. After months of rumors that the company was set to unveil its very own virtual reality headset, here is Apple CEO Tim Cook, a.k.a. Tim Apple making the big reveal during Monday’s keynote address. 

 

[clip of Tim Cook] Introducing Apple Vision Pro. Vision Pro is a new kind of computer that augments reality by seamlessly blending the real world with a digital world. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: That didn’t really sound like a great pitch to me like I’m not jumping up and down about this. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, [laughter] listen, um maybe it depended on the visuals, but I’m just going to say like we weren’t sold. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Hmm. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: By that. [laughter] Anyways, if that didn’t paint the picture for you, just imagine putting on a clunky pair of ski goggles and having all of your apps, text messages, and 5 billion slack notifications flooding your field of vision because that is what Apple Vision Pro purports to do. But if there is one thing that puts the reality back in virtual reality, it is the price tag because Tim Cook left that crucial detail for the very end. [laughter] Take a listen to what one audience member recorded during the in-person event. 

 

[clip of unspecified audience member] Apple Vision Pro starts at $3499. [gasps and moans and boos from audience] [Juanita laughing and clapping] It will be available early next year on Apple.com. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I’m screaming. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Oh my god you can’t even hear the price! 

 

Juanita Tolliver: I’m screaming. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: They’re too busy booing.

 

Juanita Tolliver: They said, do you have McDonald’s money? Like that was the vibe I was getting. Like, how dare you? $3500 for some ski goggles, please. Priyanka, are you spending your coins on this? 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Well absolutely no. But like it’s also wild [laughter] because the people in this audience are like journalists and then a bunch of people who paid to be here, like, paid a non insignificant amount of money. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Wait, wait, wait–

 

Priyanka Aribindi: To listen to this. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: –wait wait. They paid to sit in lawn chairs outside and watch a screen. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, like, I got to be honest with you, I was told this by our producers. [laughter] Like we call ourselves Geeks WAD. I don’t really identify as a geek in this way, but uh I’ve been told that they pay good money to attend this. So the fact that they the like target audience for this shit is balking at the price should really really be telling, at least to me. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: There’s a reason why I’m not an early adopter. I ain’t paying $3500 for any of this. No hard pass. [laughing] 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely not. Yeah. I got to say, the only thing that sounds appealing to me about this like that I have like, been like, ooh, I wish I had that at some point is like some kind of map app being like, you can see like where you’re going instead of having to look at your phone. Uh. But I imagine you look like more of an idiot. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. Meanwhile, you’re getting mugged because you don’t have any other peripheral– [laughing] 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Look like more of an idiot with the ski goggles [laughter] then staring at your phone. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Exactly right. You’re going to be a easy mark. [laugh] For for being mugged. [laughing] 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. I can’t say that this sounds like something I’m jumping up and down to do, but it sounds like we’re on the same page here. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: 100%. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that’ll do it for this edition of Geeks WAD. And don’t forget, choose a strong password. That is all the tech help that we can give you, but not too strong because you don’t want to get locked out. And that’s all I’ll say. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Right. [laugh] [music break]. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Ignore the Slack notifications on your pricey VR headset [laughter] and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just the short list of people willing to bail out George Santos like me, What A Day is 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 eat it Ron DeSantis. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Full disclosure, it’s a Beyonce reference. If y’all know heated, eat it, eat it–

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yup. 

 

Juanita Tolliver: Eat it eat it eat it. Mmm. Yummy, yummy. Come on. 

 

Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Juanita’s singing it [laughter and Juanita clapping] and I’m just taking it in. It’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful moment. And, uh yeah, there are a lot of things I could tell Ron DeSantis, but eat it is probably the nicest one. [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 Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. 

 

[AD BREAK]