In This Episode
- Florida’s 2023 legislative session begins today. Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled state legislature are expected to push Governor Ron DeSantis’s conservative agenda, ahead of his widely-expected 2024 presidential bid.
- Police in Atlanta, Georgia charged 23 people with domestic terrorism this week for allegedly attacking police during a protest against “Cop City” — a proposed $90 million police training center in a wooded area near a predominantly Black neighborhood.
- And in headlines: Israeli fighter pilots have joined protests over a proposed overhaul to that country’s judicial system, Russian military forces may be close to capturing the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, and Oklahomans will vote on whether to legalize recreational marijuana.
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Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Tuesday, March 7th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What A Day, where when we hear about the avian bird flu, we simply ask where?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, where’d the bird fly? Out the window? South for the winter? Details, people.
Tre’vell Anderson: A little willful ignorance can really help you sleep at night Josie. [music break]
Josie Duffy Rice: On today’s show, Russian forces are closing in on the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Plus, Oklahoma voters are heading to the polls to decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana.
Tre’vell Anderson: But first, I have the slightly depressing honor today of previewing what is on the docket for Florida’s 2023 legislative session, which begins today.
Josie Duffy Rice: Ugh.
Tre’vell Anderson: Very valid response, Josie. We’ve obviously spoken at length about Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, in all of his foolishness. So you already know where this is going. So, Josie, I want you to take some deep breaths with me along the way. Okay.
Josie Duffy Rice: Ugh. I’m trying. I’m trying to breathe deep.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes.
Josie Duffy Rice: But I’m not excited.
Tre’vell Anderson: You don’t have to be. That’s okay. That’s all right.
Josie Duffy Rice: We need to know. But we don’t need to love it.
Tre’vell Anderson: Exactly. So even before the legislative session begins, more than a thousand bills have already been filed. And because the state legislature is controlled by Republicans, it’s all but guaranteed that whatever DeSantis wants will come to fruition. The state Senate president even said last month, quote, “We’re going to get his agenda across the finish line.” For our sanity Josie, I’m just going to discuss two main categories of things we can expect. But keep in mind, this is literally just the tip of the iceberg. First up is the issue of education. By now, we’re all familiar with the don’t say gay mess and the anti critical race theory foolishness coming out of the state. While the legislature is bound to ratchet literally all of that up, you know, by ten times or so, there are at least ten bills aimed at removing quote unquote, “indoctrination” and quote unquote, “ideology” from the public school system. That’s all the way from pre-K through colleges and universities. One of those bills would ban any college degree focused on critical race theory, gender studies, or intersectionality, as well as any major or minor that quote unquote “engenders belief in those concepts.” That same bill, if passed as is, would also explicitly ban state colleges and universities from, quote, “using diversity, equity and inclusion statements, critical race theory, rhetoric, or other forms of political identity filters as part of the hiring process.” So basically, no more affirmative action, even though it’s white women, not people of color, who benefit the most from affirmative action.
Josie Duffy Rice: Good God.
Tre’vell Anderson: But that’s a, you know, separate conversation for a different time. There’s a different bill that also wants to ban school employees from using pronouns for kids that don’t align with their sex assigned at birth, even if the parents agree. So, you know, whatever happened to those alleged parents rights that the Florida state legislature was trying to protect in all of this? That same bill would also extend the don’t say gay bill, which applied to pre-K up to third grade. It would extend it all the way up to eighth grade.
Josie Duffy Rice: This just feels so cynical to me because it’s so explicit, like what the real driving forces here are. Right. Like, we’re fine indoctrinating you as long as we agree with the indoctrination. We’re fine listening to your parents, as long as we think your parents are conservative enough. Otherwise, like all our principles out the window, right?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s just upsetting. It’s upsetting.
Tre’vell Anderson: Maddening. Yeah.
Josie Duffy Rice: So what’s the second issue to keep our eyes on? You said education, but that was really like 13,000 issues and [laughter] one–
Tre’vell Anderson: It was. That’s the thing, right? So many of these bills kind of hit on a variety of different categories, purposefully so. Um. The second category, though, I want to talk about is gun control. In this state where 11 mass shootings have happened this year alone, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Some lawmakers are proposing a complete removal of concealed carry restrictions, which is quite absurd. Under the bill, Floridians would no longer have to apply for a license for concealed carry, and the regulation of concealed carry permits would completely end. Now, DeSantis has already said he’d approve something like this, and if it passes, as it is expected to, Florida would become the 26th state to remove such permitting requirements.
Josie Duffy Rice: Uh. I guess that makes sense. 11 mass shootings is not enough. We need more.
Tre’vell Anderson: Apparently.
Josie Duffy Rice: What could possess you to, I just don’t yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: It doesn’t make sense um not to us sane individuals, at least. But that’s not even the worst of it. Right?
Josie Duffy Rice: What? How is that possible?
Tre’vell Anderson: [laughter] Well, they’ll be considering bills to enact further restrictions on abortion and reproductive rights. There’s a bill that would require private companies to check their employees immigration status. DeSantis has said that juries should be able to issue the death penalty even when they’re not unanimous. And he’s even asking the state for 12 million more dollars to continue the program where he sends migrants from border states to Martha’s Vineyard or D.C.. Like we’ve covered at length on the show before, there are so many changes that could be coming to Florida over the 60 day legislative session, changes that would be, in many cases, long sought after wins for the most conservative of the GOP. But of course, when they win, so many folks lose. Mind you, it’s expected that Ron DeSantis will officially throw his hat into the ring against Donald Trump and Nikki Haley and whomever else will be running for the Republican nomination for president shortly after this session concludes. So the thinking is that this will, you know, set his campaign up well to be a legitimate challenge for Trump. He’ll be able to say, I have won all of these conservative policies that have been passed in Florida. You should vote for me because they still want to make America great again or whatever. Though, of course, you know, I should be clear in my book, both Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are bad choices, but that’s what we’re dealing with in the alleged Sunshine State that’s bringing a lot of darkness our way.
Josie Duffy Rice: It really is. This is to be expected, but also very surreal–
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Josie Duffy Rice: –decisions coming out of Florida. All right. So moving on to a neighboring state of Florida, my state of Georgia here in Atlanta, the protests over what opponents have called Cop City have continued during a planned week of action occurring as we speak. And that has resulted in some serious backlash from law enforcement. So for those who may need reminding, Cop City is a proposed 85 acre, $90 million dollar police training center here in Atlanta. If built, it would sit within a 300 acre forest in a largely Black neighborhood. So where to start on all the parts of this that aren’t cool?
Tre’vell Anderson: There is so much about this that isn’t cool. Is it safe to say that Cop City is unpopular in Atlanta, even though they’ve continued pushing it through?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that. Of course, like public opinion varies and this is still Georgia, after all. So a lot of conservatives here, but many residents are very unhappy with the millions of dollars being spent on this facility. And in fact, plans for Cop City have forged ahead despite major backlash from city residents. Right. The Atlanta City Council voted to lease the land to the police union after 17 hours of pretty much entirely negative public comment. That was back in 2021. And if you’ve ever been to a city council meeting or watched one, you know that 17 hours of negative comment means a lot of people really care about this because it’s hard to get 17 hours of anything at a city council meeting. So since Cop City was approved, the stop Cop City movement, which is also called Defend Atlanta Forest has grown exponentially and it’s really spread across the country. Many of the people involved are environmental activists who are protesting the destruction of the local forest in order to build this facility. Atlanta really prides itself on being a city in a forest. And according to Columbia University, a quote, “urban tree canopy covers almost 48% of the city.” So the fact that some of this would be destroyed to build this training facility is driving a lot of the protest. And again, as we covered back in January, a protester named Manuel Terán was killed by police. Police claimed that Terán fired at them. But there has been some pretty serious dispute of that claim.
Tre’vell Anderson: Ay yi yi. So you mentioned there have been these protests happening this week. You mentioned some backlash from police. What exactly happened?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, well, the details are still coming out. But even from what we know, it seems clear that the police acted strangely, to say the least. And that’s pretty much the nicest way I can put it. Police claim that on Sunday, a number of protesters set vehicles ablaze and destroyed property. Those alleged actions were done by a very small minority of the hundreds who were protesting the area that day. And the people who did those actions had masked faces. They wore black and camouflage, so they couldn’t be identified. What’s strange is that according to reports, the police didn’t actually stop the destruction from occurring or arrest anybody in the moment. The New York Times reports that, quote, “law enforcement officers looked on and initially did not intervene. Instead, they waited until the protesters returned to the broader crowd, and then they swarmed the area and detained people. Despite not knowing exactly who was at fault for the destruction, because, again, they couldn’t see their faces.” So according to a statement by protesters, quote, “Police retaliated viciously by raiding the entire forest and arresting some people with no connection to or awareness of the action on the other side.” So, for example, the Southern Poverty Law Center tweeted that one of their employees was, quote, “arrested while acting and identifying as a legal observer on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild.” This is just more indication, right, that the police were basically arresting people willy nilly, indiscriminately.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Josie Duffy Rice: To say the more official word and were not super concerned with necessarily arresting the people that had actually committed the actions that they were upset about. And by the way, weren’t even concerned with stopping the actual property destruction that they later charged people for.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, it seems like an intentional choice, right, to let this alleged activity happen and then basically swarm the entire protest group. So what exactly are those protesters who’ve been detained facing?
Josie Duffy Rice: Well, 23 of them have been charged with domestic terrorism, which is extremely concerning. And that’s in addition to the six that were charged with the same thing back in January. Keep in mind that this is a pattern we’ve seen over the past few years, not only in Atlanta, but elsewhere. And it has a major silencing effect on the right to protest. As one lawyer told The Guardian in January, Georgia’s domestic terrorism statute is, quote, “overly vague”. He said that those charges were basically an attempt by prosecutors who were, quote, “trying to turn a political movement into a criminal organization.” So police’s indiscriminate arrests and extreme overcharging here, this is just more evidence that the right to protest is contingent on law enforcement respecting your First Amendment rights, respecting your constitutional rights, because the reaction of Cop City is yet another bad sign for protesters everywhere. You know, if going out and standing up against this new facility means you could get charged with domestic terrorism, just being a legal observer means you could get charged with domestic terrorism. It’s a pretty serious sign that police are trying to crackdown on protesting um more broadly.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if this is the type of training that they’re trying to do at said–
Josie Duffy Rice: Correct.
Tre’vell Anderson: –Cop City, we don’t need no more of it. At all.
Josie Duffy Rice: This is the thing. Like they’re saying, they need more space to train so they can become basically harsher cops like this is not helping their case, at least to many of us.
Tre’vell Anderson: At all.
Josie Duffy Rice: So we’ll continue to follow this story as it develops. But that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]
Josie Duffy Rice: Let’s get to some headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: Israelis are in their ninth week of protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to overhaul the country’s Supreme Court. As we’ve mentioned before on the show, the plan could weaken Israel’s legal system and threaten its democratic institutions. The unrest has now crossed over into Israel’s military and reserve duty pilots and its air force are especially concerned about what the changes could mean for them. Nearly all members of an elite air squad said they’d skip on a training exercise this week in protest. According to local reports, they’re worried that the reforms will enable the current far right government to order them to get involved in an illegal conflict.
Tre’vell Anderson: The battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut moved rages on as Russian military forces appear to be close to capturing it. If and when Bakhmut falls, it would be the first time in several months that Russia has been able to take over a city in Ukraine. And even so, military experts say it would not be a big win for Moscow. Bakhmut itself isn’t strategically important on its own, and the vast majority of people living there have already fled. Nevertheless, Ukraine’s top generals have vowed to defend the city despite heavy losses on both sides during the brutal months long campaign.
Josie Duffy Rice: New Zealand’s Georgina Beyer, the world’s first openly transgender member of any parliament, died yesterday. She was 65 years old, a lifelong champion of LGBTQ rights, Beyer began her trailblazing career in politics in 1995, when she became the mayor of a small town on New Zealand’s North Island, giving her the distinction of being the first known trans mayor in the world. She went on to serve in New Zealand’s parliament from 1999 until 2007 as a member of that country’s Labor Party. Beyer is best known for her work fighting for marriage equality and other protections for the LGBTQ+ community, as well as helping to pass a landmark bill that decriminalized sex work in New Zealand. A cause that was personal to her as a former sex worker. Take a listen to Beyer reflecting on her life in this interview she did with Radio New Zealand back in 2021:
[clip of Georgina Beyer] You know, you’ve got to live on the edge, but and that’s what life is sort of about. And I’m glad that, yes, I’ve faced a lot of adversity, but you can’t live in your victimhood all the time. You can’t wallow in it. You’ve got to learn from it, move on and change it, and change what, you know, create a [?] and I hope I’ve been able to do a bit of that.
Josie Duffy Rice: One of Beyer’s friends announced her death on social media, saying she passed away peacefully in hospice care.
Tre’vell Anderson: If you’ve ever encountered or been a family traveling with small children. You know, they’ve been through enough already. The Transportation Department announced it’s putting out an online dashboard to show travelers which airlines have committed to allowing families to sit together at no extra cost. So far, that list is pretty short. Only Alaska, Frontier, and American Airlines will let you sit with your kids without ponying up more cash. The move follows President Biden’s pledge during last month’s State of the Union address to come down on junk fees and hidden surcharges. Now, let’s see a few more airlines put that junk back in the trunk.
Josie Duffy Rice: I won’t even get started [laughter] on the cost of flying with children. But if anybody wants to hear an eight episode podcast about it, I’m ready. Oklahomans will head to the polls today to vote on whether recreational marijuana should be legal in the state. The special election comes five years after voters legalized medical marijuana in the Sooner state by a solid margin. Cannabis advocacy groups have worked ever since to put recreational weed on the ballot since thousands of Oklahomans are arrested every year for marijuana possession. If it passes, the measure would allow adults 21 and over to buy and possess up to an ounce of cannabis, as well as grow a limited number of plants for their own use. It would also allow residents with cannabis related convictions to petition the state to have those charges expunged from their records. Roll that in your ballot and smoke it.
Tre’vell Anderson: Puff puff pass, honey. [laughter] When it comes to chocolate, Switzerland is anything but neutral. The chocolatiers over at Toblerone will be forced to change their packaging after announcing plans to move some of its production from Switzerland to Slovakia due to regulations that monitor the Swiss-ness of products that evoke Swiss imagery. The original Toblerone packaging predominantly showcases the Matterhorn, an iconic mountain in the nearby Alps. Toblerone will replace the Matterhorn on its packaging, with a generic peak still evoking the shape of the triangular honey and almond nougat chocolate. Swiss officials have been enforcing a Swiss-niss Law since 2017. Food products that claim to be from Switzerland have to contain at least 80% Swiss products, and the essential manufacturing of the food must take place in Switzerland. These rules lose their power as soon as you cross the border, which is why over here in America, Gruyere can be any old cheese with tiny holes in it. And that Swiss Miss hot cocoa you’re drinking definitely came from Wisconsin.
Josie Duffy Rice: Swiss Miss hot cocoa is better than anything that Switzerland makes. I’m just going to say it. It’s so good. [laughter]
Tre’vell Anderson: Somebody is very upset at you right now.
Josie Duffy Rice: I know. I’m so sorry.
Tre’vell Anderson: But Swiss Miss is that girl.
Josie Duffy Rice: It really is.
Tre’vell Anderson: I take my Swiss Miss powder. I put it in a glass of cold milk and I lightly stir it so that there’s still chunks of, like, powder that I can scoop out with my spoon.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s a very comforting experience.
Josie Duffy Rice: Reverend Tre’vell [laughter] speaking on the religious experience of Swiss Miss Hot cocoa, which truly is so good.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s great.
Josie Duffy Rice: And those are the headlines. That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, summit the chocolate Matterhorn and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading and not just how to direct charges straight to your junk fee folder like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
[spoken together] And let our Miss be Swiss.
Josie Duffy Rice: Call it whatever they want. I will keep drinking it. [laughter] They can call it Wisconsin Miss for all I care.
Tre’vell Anderson: Wis Miss. Wis Miss.
Josie Duffy Rice: Wis Miss!
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Josie Duffy Rice: Oh my God. [laughter] That has been trademarked. [?] get on it. [laughter] [music break] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jocey Coffman and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.