In This Episode
- On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy landed in Japan for the G7 summit, where he met with world leaders to continue lobbying for more military support for his country. And just hours after his arrival, Russian officials said troops had captured the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, a claim Zelenskyy denied.
- President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are back at the negotiating table today to continue debt ceiling discussions as the June 1st deadline looms closer. If both sides don’t reach an agreement beforehand, the government could default on its bills, causing a massive economic catastrophe.
- And in headlines: Greece’s ruling conservative party has taken a resounding lead in that country’s national elections, the NAACP issued a travel advisory for Florida, and scientists are tracking a group of orcas that appear to be targeting – and sinking – boats in Europe.
- LiveScience: Orcas have sunk 3 boats in Europe and appear to be teaching others to do the same. But why? – https://tinyurl.com/447e3rw5
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, May 22nd. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What A Day where we want to give a shout out to all the people out there with absolutely no opinion on Taylor Swift’s new boyfriend. I have never heard it, never seen it. Don’t know it. Mmm.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, we all know too much about her day in history [laughter] and it’s no shade. [sigh] [music break] On today’s show, Greece’s conservative ruling party won big in national elections over the weekend. Plus, Republicans are losing it because Senator John Fetterman is redefining Capitol Hill fashion.
Juanita Tolliver: Let this man live. If he wants to rock basketball shorts, let it be. [laughter] But first, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was preparing to sit down with G7 leaders in Hiroshima, Japan, this weekend, Russian military officials were declaring victory and telling media outlets that their troops had captured Bakhmut, an eastern Ukrainian city, which is also considered a front line of Russia’s invasion. Naturally, anything that Russia claims needs to be taken with a grain of salt and fact checked. And this is no different as there have been conflicting reports about what’s actually happening on the ground with Ukrainian officials saying that their troops still control a portion of the city as reinforcements move in to surround the perimeter. And Russian officials claim they control it outright. But one thing we do know is that Bakhmut has been decimated by 15 months of constant battles, bombs, and heavy losses by Russian forces in particular. While in Japan, Zelensky compared the devastation to Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945. And every bit of that symbolism is absolutely heartbreaking.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And kind of horrible that he has to make that comparison, right?
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: To convey the extent of devastation. So let’s backtrack for a second. Why exactly was Zelensky in Japan in the first place?
Juanita Tolliver: So as we’ve discussed on the show recently, Zelensky had been making the rounds through Europe, requesting more aid, more defense weapons and support from NATO allies. And his trip to the G7 summit was a last minute addition to that push. And let’s be real, by showing up in person in Japan face to face with other world leaders, Zelensky changed the entire G7 conversation and ensured that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was front and center. His arrival shifted focus away from key summit agenda items, including threats of growing nuclear arsenals in China and North Korea, climate change, artificial intelligence, outreach to the developing world, and more. But considering the sustained invasion and violent attacks by Russia, Zelensky was right to be there to huddle with the leaders who have had his back since day one. Now I don’t know who was running Zelensky’s schedule, keeping him booked and busy, but it was highly intentional. He had one on one meetings with President Biden, South Korean President Yoon, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, UK Prime Minister Sunak, Indian Prime Minister Modi and others. But now that meeting with Modi was a first for Zelensky, and I’m sure it was a little bit awkward because India continues to this day to buy oil and arms from Russia. In addition to those individual meetings, Zelensky also engaged in a series of broader discussions with all of the summit attendees, as well as special guests, Australia and Indonesia. Essentially, Zelensky’s message was as clear and consistent as everything he said up until this point, Ukraine needs more support with defense systems. On top of that, he is also beginning discussions about how best to rebuild Ukraine.
Tre’vell Anderson: So what commitments were actually made at the G7 summit?
Juanita Tolliver: According to Reuters, hosting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the group was committed to, quote, “strong backing for Ukraine from every possible dimension.” And President Biden said, quote, “We have Ukraine’s back and we’re not going anywhere.” During the summit, President Biden announced new military aid worth $375 million dollars for Ukraine, saying the US will provide ammunition and armored vehicles. And as Zelensky was flying into Japan, Biden announced that the US agreed to allow training on American made F-16 fighter jets, which is a huge update considering that the US had been resistant to that idea up until now. All of these commitments will undoubtedly be critical to Ukraine’s continued fight against Russia’s invasion, but I cannot discuss these new commitments without noting one hell of an accounting error by the Department of Defense, which they recently announced. According to the reports, the DOD accidentally miscalculated how much aid was being sent out to Ukraine by $3 billion dollars. Yes, billion with a B.
Tre’vell Anderson: Wow.
Juanita Tolliver: Now, I won’t get into the nuance because it’s complicated, but the financial word of the day y’all is valuation. Honestly, I’m glad the error was caught and fixed and that those funds are making their way to Zelensky and his people. But when I tell you I was gagged [laughing] by a multi-billion dollar accounting error, like what? Who exactly lost their job over this? Because this is wild.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, somebody getting fired. Okay.
Juanita Tolliver: Come on.
Tre’vell Anderson: Maybe a [laughter] couple of people at this point, because that’s huge. Wow. And speaking of world leaders and some of the things that they might be concerned about. A lot of folks are still keeping an eye on our saga here in the U.S. regarding the debt limit. As of this morning, we are about ten days away from that June 1st deadline, at which point the government could default on its bills at any point causing massive economic catastrophe. Now, I feel like Howie Mandel is standing at a podium with our–
Juanita Tolliver: Oooh.
Tre’vell Anderson: –elected officials and every time a round of negotiations end he’s like, deal or no deal? And they keep yelling out no deal with pride. Mind you, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he wanted to finalize a deal by the end of last week, and yet here we are. That said, negotiations restarted yesterday evening between the representatives of each side and then today, Biden and McCarthy themselves will meet at the table.
Juanita Tolliver: Man. That is one hell of a vision of silver briefcases being rejected one after another like wow. But which details are they still debating over?
Tre’vell Anderson: So it appears that the crux of the talks at this stage are largely about the extent and duration of new restrictions on federal spending, which is exactly what we knew would be the holdup. And while Biden initially made it seem like his administration wasn’t interested in any limits, over the weekend, they reportedly offered a proposal that would have limited spending next year on both the military and a range of critical domestic programs. And guess what the Republicans said? They said no deal. They said, nah, nah, thank you.
Juanita Tolliver: Are we shocked? Are you shocked? I’m not shocked. Bueller?
Tre’vell Anderson: We’re– [laugh]
Juanita Tolliver: Bueller.
Tre’vell Anderson: We’re not shocked. [laughter] But it is still enraging nonetheless. Republicans are pushing instead for higher defense spending and more significant domestic spending cuts. But after everybody went back to their corners for a day or so, as I mentioned, they’re back at the negotiating table trying to work on a proposal. But again, spending will be the main factor. GOP negotiator Representative Garret Graves said, quote, “A red line is spending less money. And unless and until we’re there, the rest of it is really irrelevant.” And he’s saying that, as President Biden is saying this:
[clip of President Joe Biden] Now it’s time for the other side to move from their extreme positions because much of what they’ve already proposed is simply uh, quite frankly, unacceptable.
Tre’vell Anderson: I will note here that, you know, everyone seems to be on the same page about the urgency of the moment. Now, one might think that that would mean we would have had a deal by now considering. But what do we know? Apparently not enough. Uh.
Juanita Tolliver: Not to get our hopes up. [laughter]
Tre’vell Anderson: That part. Okay. More updates on all of this is surely to come, but that’s the latest right now. [music break] Let’s get to some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: Greece’s ruling Conservative Party has taken a resounding lead in that country’s national elections. According to early exit polls, the New Democracy Party, led by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is ahead of its left wing rival party by 20%, but has fallen just five seats short of capturing an outright majority. So for now, Mitsotakis’s party must either find a party to team up with or hold a second election, which they’ve signaled is what they want to do. That election could happen in late June or early July. And to give you some background about who we’re dealing with here, Mitsotakis recently admitted to spying on a political rival and has severely limited press freedoms in Greece. But European leaders are apparently willing to endorse him anyway because his government has hardened its stance on the ongoing migrant crisis. To the point where Greece has been accused of illegally expelling or even abandoning stranded migrants at sea.
Juanita Tolliver: And staying with so-called border security. The mother of an eight year old girl who died in U.S. Border Patrol custody last week says agents ignored her pleas to take her daughter to the hospital. Mabel Alvarez Benedicks said that her daughter was so sick with the flu that she struggle to breathe and walk. And even though agents knew the girl had sickle cell anemia and a history of heart problems, they didn’t think she needed more urgent medical care. In a phone interview with the Associated Press, she said, quote, “They killed my daughter because she was nearly a day and a half without being able to breathe. She cried and begged for her life and they ignored her. They didn’t do anything for her.” The girl was being held with her family at the CBP station in Harlingen, Texas, and died on what would have been the family’s ninth day in Border Patrol custody. Under agency policy, people should not be held for more than 72 hours. The young girl’s death comes just a week after an unaccompanied 17 year old boy from Honduras died in Florida at a shelter run by the Department of Health and Human Services. And these types of issues are explicitly the concerns that we’ve been discussing on this show for weeks now. This should not be happening. No children should be dying or denied medical care. Like that’s basically like demonstrating how inhumane these practices or these facilities are treating individuals who are migrating.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. The NAACP issued a travel advisory for Florida on Saturday, warning all folks from historically marginalized groups to reconsider traveling to the Sunshine State. In a statement, the group says Florida has become, quote, “hostile to Black Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. The advisory specifically cites the wave of troubling legislation pushed by Governor Ron DeSantis, including the bill signed last week defunding diversity, equity and inclusion programs at public universities, as well as an earlier move blocking the AP African-American studies course from being taught in public schools. NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson accused DeSantis of putting politics over people and trying to appeal to a, quote, “dangerous extremist minority.” DeSantis is expected to announce his 2024 presidential campaign in the coming days.
Juanita Tolliver: Republicans have continued their longstanding tradition of being scandalized by, you guessed it, basketball shorts. [laugh] This comes after Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman appeared in casual dress for a press conference last Thursday in which he, alongside the besuited Senators Bernie Sanders and Ed Markey, urged President Biden to invoke the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling. Fetterman has caught some heat over the past few days for his sartorial choice to show up in basketball shorts and a hoodie. According to the Associated Press, while Fetterman’s staff initially asked the senator to don the expected suit and tie for work since his return from six weeks of treatment for clinical depression and lingering complications from his 2022 stroke, he has opted for comfier clothes instead. And Fetterman has reportedly been cleared by the Senate parliamentarian to wear casual clothing as long as he doesn’t actually set foot on the Senate floor. As for his peers, it’s a return to form emblematic of recovery. Vermont Senator Peter Welch, who went through the Senate orientation with Fetterman, said, quote, “He’s setting the new dress code. He was struggling and now he’s a joyful person to be around.” Okay, let this man live in hoodies and basketball shorts and literally Republicans, just mind your business, literally mind your business while you’re, you know, focused on stealing our rights and [laughter] basic access to health care and, you know, all those things. Why are you talking about this man shorts? You got plenty of criminals that you can be worried about on your own side. But alas.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. They’re always minding business that they shouldn’t. He’s got permission. It should be fine. Why are–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: –even talking about it? Calm down, people. And finally, here’s an example of what solidarity sounds like.
[clip of David Zaslav] If you want to be successful, you’re going to have to figure out how to get along with everyone. And that includes difficult people. [crowd of people shouting something indistinct]
Juanita Tolliver: I love that song.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right? It’s a great song, right? Wonderful song. You just heard Boston University’s Class of 2023 yesterday booing this year’s commencement speaker Warner Brothers Discovery CEO David Zaslav. He was apparently invited to give some inspiring words to his alma mater before the Hollywood writers strike kicked off earlier this month. His company is part of the consortium of major studios that the writers union is striking against. Zaslav spoke for about 20 minutes and was heckled almost the entire time and didn’t mention the strike once. But before you feel bad for a guy facing a tough crowd, consider this. According to the Writers Guild of America, Zaslav made $246 million dollars in 2021. Plenty of money. He can deal with a little bit of heckling. It’s totally fine.
Juanita Tolliver: And this is one of those times where I will applaud Mass-holes for being Mass-holes and doing what is right like go off. I love to see it, but also Boston University administrators, have you not heard of canceling someone? Have you not heard of–
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: –rescheduling a speech? Because this timing. Not it.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely not. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads to remind you why it’s still not safe to go in the water, period.
Juanita Tolliver: Yikes.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday WAD squad and for today’s temp check, we’re talking about killer whales and the boats that have ticked them off. In the past month, orcas off the coast of Portugal and Spain have tactically targeted and sunk two separate watercraft, including one yacht and one sailboat. According to eyewitnesses, the killer whales have worked in coordinated groups, slamming into the boat’s rudders and sides. The orcas have even been observed teaching their young how to target the ships, demonstrating their slamming until the younger ones begin to imitate. This boat targeting behavior is relatively new for the marine animals, only cropping up within the last few years. Scientists speculate that sometime around 2020, a traumatic encounter with commercial fishers may have triggered a change in behavior in an orca they know as White Gladis, who then demonstrated it to the rest of the population. Killer whales are a playful species, subject to what marine biologists call fads or behavior initiated by one or two individuals and temporarily mimicked by others until it’s abandoned. So as far as we know, boat hunting might just be their fidget spinner. While they’ve clocked over 500 aggressive interactions between the killer whales and boats since 2020, only three have led to sunken ships with zero human casualties. So Juanita, I ask you, orcas versus European sailboats? Who you got?
Juanita Tolliver: You already know, orcas all day, every day. Especially if this behavior is coming from a traumatic experience. Like let’s be real. Commercial fishers oftentimes violate rules related to their industry and protections for this environment. So these big old fish, a.k.a. mammals, [laugh] have every right to defend their their space, their territory. But I feel like our producer, Raven hit the nail on the head when they said that even predators like great white sharks know not to challenge orcas because orcas stand their ground and handle their business.
Tre’vell Anderson: You know, I just have one question, really, and that’s why Gladis got to be white? Who came up with that?
Juanita Tolliver: Oooh.
Tre’vell Anderson: Did they not think through, you know, maybe it’s some sort of scientific situation or whatever, but that’s what stuck out to me.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m calling B.S. on that, because if you look at a killer whale it’s 99% black. Ain’t it?
Tre’vell Anderson: I mean.
Juanita Tolliver: So shall we call out the erasure here? Gladis, [laughter] I wish I want Gladis to weigh in on this. Gladis, tell us, girl. Tell us.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, Gladis, call into the show [laughter] 1-800-What-A-Day. And just like that, we’ve checked our temps. They’re–
Juanita Tolliver: –Boiling.
Tre’vell Anderson: –a little whale-ish.
Juanita Tolliver: Ooo!
Tre’vell Anderson: Perhaps?
Juanita Tolliver: I like it. [laughing] [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Make your peace with the orcas and tell your friends to listen.
Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just David Zaslav’s salary history like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
[spoken together] And pay your writers.
Juanita Tolliver: Period. And also how he get up on that stage and talk for probably 15-20 minutes and not mention the strike? The disrespect.
Tre’vell Anderson: He knows what he’s doing.
Juanita Tolliver: Exactly.
Tre’vell Anderson: He knows what he’s doing.
Juanita Tolliver: With his $240 million dollars a year. Yeah. He know exactly what he’s doing.
Tre’vell Anderson: Just give me a couple dollars.
Juanita Tolliver: [laughing] Wait you asking him for money? [laughing]
Tre’vell Anderson: I mean I will ask anybody for money. I’m open. Okay, you know. [laughing] [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 and Raven Yamamoto is our associate producer. We had production assistance this week from Fiona Pestana. Jocey Coffman is our head writer and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.