In This Episode
- It was another tragic weekend in the midst of our national epidemic of gun violence, with mass shootings taking place in Wisconsin, Texas, Nebraska, and Ohio. That was after the shooting last week at a FedEx warehouse in Indiana, which many have called to investigate as a hate crime against Sikhs. We discuss the shootings, as well as what’s happening in Minnesota in relation to the police killings of Daunte Wright and George Floyd.
- The worldwide death toll from COVID reached 3 million over the weekend. In lighter news, half of the U.S. population aged 18 and older has gotten at least one dose of a vaccine. The White House announced a plan to track variants.
- And in headlines: Republican lawmakers in Florida aim to make many forms of protest illegal, Biden walks back his decision to cap the number of refugees allowed into the U.S., and NASA will attempt to fly a helicopter on Mars.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Monday, April 19th. I’m Akilah Hughes
Gideon Resnick: And I’m Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day, where if Matthew McConaughey becomes governor of Texas, we will officially take his job as famous actor.
Akilah Hughes: Yes. And if it helps the cause, we’ll edit ourselves into True Detective.
Gideon Resnick: Time is indeed a WAD circle.
Akilah Hughes: On today’s show, while half of adults in America have at least one vaccine dose coursing through them, we’ll talk about yet another grim pandemic milestone, than some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: But first, the latest, and we’re going to start with a uniquely American epidemic that our elected officials continually refuse to touch: gun violence. There have been at least 45 mass shootings in the past month alone. With several more over the weekend, it is worth asking: what is going on?
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we’ve been trying to ask that question for decades now, but unfortunately, no one seems to have an answer for it, and no one has had to answer for it. But President Biden called it a national epidemic, and signed several executive actions, like red flag laws that allow concerned individuals to petition the court to take guns from certain individuals. But Congress—the very individuals who very nearly became victims of gun violence in January—still won’t do anything. And the result is devastating. Last Thursday night, a gunman killed eight people before killing himself at a FedEx warehouse in Indiana. At least seven others were wounded in the attack too. Tour of the victims in the shooting were Sikhs, so there have been a lot of calls to investigate the matter as a hate crime. And in March of last year, the shooter’s mother actually raised concerns about his mental state, and his shotgun was taken away, according to records. But a few months later, he was able to purchase two semiautomatic weapons legally. So clearly, red flag laws weren’t being enforced in this case. And they’re clearly not enough.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, absolutely. And as that community grieves amidst unthinkable violence, incidents like these are also happening across the country.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. So let me give a rundown of some of the events that happened only yesterday. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, there was a mass shooting at a bar early yesterday morning that left three men dead and three others injured. The local sheriff’s department has arrested one person of interest and it plans to charge that person with first degree intentional homicide. And later yesterday in Austin, Texas, a former sheriff’s detective who is currently charged with sexually assaulting a child, opened fire and killed three people in an apartment complex. At the time of recording, he’s still at large, and authorities worry that he, quote “might possibly take a hostage” over the course of the manhunt. Why he’s still allowed to have a gun is beyond me. I really don’t get it. And then in Omaha, Nebraska, two teenagers were arrested yesterday for a shooting in a shopping mall the day before that left one dead and another injured. And at a gun violence- vigil in Columbus, Ohio for a man who died a year earlier from gun violence, six people were shot, including a woman who died from her injuries. It’s hard for me to believe that any of these things are isolated incidents when guns are available to anyone who wants one. And nothing ever changes after people get murdered going on about their lives.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it is constant and constant and constant, and entangled in the conversation of America’s horrible relationship with firearms is the ongoing discussion of police violence resulting in the deaths of unarmed citizens. So what is the latest on that?
Akilah Hughes: Well, there were protests over the weekend in Chicago for 13-year old Adam Toledo, who was shot and killed by police on March 29th. The video of that killing was released to the public last Thursday. Those demonstrations were peaceful, but as people were dispersing, officers met them with violence, and suppression of their First Amendment right to protest. There’s video of the police beating up, tear gassing, and arresting two protesters, one of whom is a son of Black Lives Matter Chicago Executive Director. So another community grieving and being punished for it. And since the horrible video footage of Toledo’s killing was released to the public, calls for Mayor Lori Lightfoot to resign have grown. An attorney with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office was placed on leave after he said: Adam Toledo was in possession of a gun when he was killed. And then there was another police shooting that happened very recently in Hawaii: 29-year old Lindani Myeni from South Africa was killed last Wednesday by Honolulu police, who had moved there with his wife just this past January.
Gideon Resnick: It is all too much. And finally, let’s bring things back to Minnesota, where there is a lot happening on this very issue this week, especially. What’s there to watch there?
Akilah Hughes: So in response to Daunte Wright’s killing at the hands of former police officer Kim Potter, Minneapolis is proposing an unarmed Traffic Safety Division, which is good. There’s a great Washington Post article that explains how serious crimes are virtually never solved via traffic stops, and the risk to police officers is incredibly low. We’ll link to it in the show notes. And finally this week, we are expecting closing arguments in the case against Derek Chauvin, the police officer that killed George Floyd. America really needs to get its act together. But let’s move on now to the other epidemic that’s plaguing our lives: COVID-19. Gideon, where do things stand?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, we have to start again, unfortunately, on another grim note—it’s not all grim. Over the weekend, we reached a devastating toll of three million people worldwide who died from COVID-19—probably an unthinkable number just a year ago and one that is equivalent to the size of cities like Berlin and Chicago, or a state like Nevada. And right now, the major story here and around the world continues to be vaccinations and variants. And in extremely good news in the US, as you mentioned, Akilah, half of the population aged 18 and older has gotten at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the CDC. That is amazing stuff, and what is seen as the major key to beating back any variants that are spreading. God bless all of you who have gone and have yet to go. But still, states that are experiencing increases in cases are pegging it to re-openings, and the spread of variants like the UK one Colorado, for example, is seeing a big jump in cases and hospitalizations recently. And officials are keeping their eyes on Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan, among some other states. And then in other countries with varying vaccination rates, this is the focus as well. For example, France has imposed some travel limitations on people coming from Brazil, Argentina, Chile and South Africa. And then in India, cases are exploding, with over 200,000 daily recently. And public health experts are studying the contribution of a variant there that has a double mutation—those are not two words that are good to put together—possibly making it at least more transmissible. But there is a lot more to find out definitively there.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, and one of the things the White House wanted to do was put more resources into tracking and identifying the variants. So what’s the word there?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, they’ve gotten moving. So on Friday, the White House announced at $1.7 billion plan to track them, and that would break down something like this: so more than half would go to the CDC and states to actually monitor test results, to identify strains, and that information would then be shared with health officials. And some of the other money is actually geared towards developing the infrastructure to track and share the data a lot faster. And it’s possible that it won’t be too long before people need another shot of whichever vaccine they got—sorry to deliver that news. It is not certain, but the vaccine makers that have gotten approval in the US are preparing for that possibility of booster’s later this year.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, and as you said, the race is on for everyone to get vaccinated before variants can take hold or more develop. But right now, the Johnson & Johnson shot is on the sidelines. So where does this review process on that stand?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so that expert panel that we talked about last week advising the CDC on this, is set to meet on Friday. And here’s what Dr. Fauci said on CNN about what he expects there:
[clip of Dr. Anthony Fauci] But I would imagine that what we will see is that it would come back and it would come back in some sort of either warning or restriction. Again, I don’t know. I don’t want to be ahead of them, but I keep getting asked that. I do think we will get it back in some manner or form.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So one possibility, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, is that the J&J shot could be restricted to a particular age group. Another possibility is that the panel will recommend to reinstate it entirely, but with a warning. That report also said that one of the big drivers of the pause—instead of just worrying over the rare clotting cases—was actually to make sure that doctors didn’t mistreat the patients who develop the same symptoms. We can link to that story in our show notes, and we’ll update you on what is decided later this week. But that is the latest for now.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Monday, WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we’re talking about the separation between downward dog and state: in Alabama, the state Senate will soon vote on whether to overturn a ban on yoga in public schools, which has been on the books for 28 years. The pro-yoga argument says everyone basically agrees yoga is good and it can help reduce anxiety and depression. The anti-yoga argument is being pushed mainly by conservative Christian groups, and it basically says yoga might lead children to convert to Hinduism? One group even suggested that yoga could cause, quote “injuries, death from stroke and psychotic episodes.” So I guess they didn’t have to run the mile in elementary school. [laughs] Think that might be a little bit worse. But Giddy, based on your experience with yoga, which side do you end up on in this very important conversation?
Gideon Resnick: Oh man, I am, I’m pro. I’ve always looked at yoga and thought like I should do that. I like, it’s like the, it’s like the healthy item on the shelf that you know that you should eat more of, but you refuse to for whatever reason. For me, it’s like, well it used to be public embarrassment in a class where I would not be able to do something, or if I did do a pose, I would be stuck that way and would not be able to stand. And now I truly have absolutely no excuse, when tons of people are doing a thing and they’re all like: this thing is great. It’s like: uh, maybe they have a point.
Akilah Hughes: Right. it is weird that like other exercise forms haven’t let anyone to convert to a different religion, [laughs] just stretching, just ancient forms of stretching that help your body. That’s, for some reason it makes you see God, [laughs] and you choose a different religion then your small town. Oy.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. I mean, if listen, if you saw God via an exercise? That’s a powerful exercise. What can I say? That’s just how it is.
Akilah Hughes: Straight up. Yeah. Yeah, like, I’m usually looking at the mat.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, but same question, Akilah: you were, you are, you’re pro. You’re getting into it.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. I’m definitely into yoga. I mean I’ve been trying to do Peloton yoga so, you know, shout out to the people who have the app. I find it very helpful in relaxing. I like the playlists. But yeah, I’m not great at it by any means. But I think that, like, it is one of the exercises where you say, like if you say to yourself: as long as I do this for ten minutes, I at least did something good. Like that’s my vibe for working out. If if ten minutes was sufficient, then like, OK. But if it’s something where it’s like: OK, you have to do this for two hours before you feel something. I’m like: no. [laughs] I don’t care. So yeah, I think that yoga is great, especially for elementary school kids. I got to say, like it, it, it would chill them out. It means—
Gideon Resnick: Yeah!
Akilah Hughes: You be taking their recess and art and everything else. Like why can’t they stretch for a minute? You want them to be as stiff as you are? I don’t think so.
Gideon Resnick: No. No. And let’s say that you were like the mean gym teacher who is like: you have to get the blue presidential badge on your shit, your fitness shit—if you did this, the stretch thing where you have to, like, touch your toes and push the thing: every single kid in the class will get the best one, because they’d be more flexible.
Akilah Hughes: Amen. Yeah. Like this is only helping. I do not see how it hurts. Oh my gosh. Well just like that we checked our temps. They’re really cool. You know why? We like yoga. Stay safe.
Gideon Resnick: We’re chillin.
Akilah Hughes: And we’ll be back after some ads.
Akilah Hughes: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Akilah Hughes: Republican lawmakers in Florida passed a bill that could threaten the rights of people protesting against police violence and white supremacy—focused on the priorities, as always. HB 1, also called the Combating Public Disorder Bill, makes it a felony to participate in a riot, which the bill partly defines as three or more people assisting each other in conduct that results in property damage or injury. As we’ve seen from last summer, the word riot has been frequently used to mischaracterize protests for Black Lives and protests against police violence. HB 1 one also lets local prosecutors appeal to the state if a city government tries to defund or cut its police budgets. On top of all that, there is a measure within the bill that could potentially protect counter-protesters in civil suits, if they injure a protester. The ACLU called HB 1 racist, unconstitutional and anti-democratic. And Republican Governor Ron DeSantis said he plans to sign the measure into law soon.
Akilah Hughes: Well, all those Gators fans who like to take to the streets afterwards: hope you like the idea of jail. That’s what’s happening. President Biden walked back his recent decision to keep a very low cap on the number of refugees the country would accept this year. Initially, on Friday, Biden signed an order extending the current cap on refugees entering the U.S. at 15,000 people, which was a historically low number set by the Trump administration. It was also way below Biden’s promise earlier this year to raise the cap to 62,000. After receiving widespread criticism from refugee advocacy groups and progressive lawmakers, White House officials swiftly signaled that Biden actually might raise the cap instead, way before the May deadline for extension. Biden confirmed with reporters over the weekend that he is planning to increase the cap, but had not yet specified how much.
Akilah Hughes: NASA absolutely decimated the Wright Brothers legacy this morning by pioneering aviation on Mars. That is assuming that everything went according to plan. The plan was at 3:30 a.m. Eastern Time to fly a miniature helicopter called Ingenuity above the Martian surface for about 30 seconds before bringing it down for a gentle landing. Now, because Mars is far away and Ingenuity is a humble king who does not like to brag, news of the helicopter’s success or failure didn’t reach Earth until 6:15 a.m. Eastern Time this morning. We recorded before that, and have most of what we own riding on this, so please let us know how it turns out. Not worried at all. Ingenuity coasted up to Mars on the rover Perseverance. The vehicle is flown using an autonomous pilot and navigation system. And if it lands on its side, it has no way of getting back up. NASA did not give Ingenuity a Life Alert so it could press a button and get help from its helicopter grandson. If Ingenuity successful, it will take several longer flights in the weeks ahead, officially kicking off post-vaccine vacation season.
Akilah Hughes: Quick update on the racist old movie that got pulled off of streaming services and turn into a congresswoman: Marjorie Taylor Green. She announced this weekend that she will not be launching her planned “America First” caucus after many within her own party pointed out how backwards it was. A flier promoting the caucus leaked last Friday. It said the group would carry forward Trump’s agenda, promote a, quote “respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.” Presumably, these traditions are voter suppression and low resolution memes that look like they were made on Palm Pilots in 1997. The document also repeated unfounded claims of voter fraud, and called to suspend all immigration. Representative Paul Gosar was said to be behind the plan along with Green. Matt Gaetz tweeted on Friday that he would also join the caucus, probably so it could be a part of something exciting during his last couple of weeks as an elected official. Gaetz joining was also good for Marjorie Taylor Green, who, as a former follower of Q, is required to keep a close eye on sex traffickers as possible. On Saturday, Green claimed she never read the leaked document that outlines her caucus’s views. Just so you know, Miss Green, if someone else reads it to you, it actually does still count.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it’s true. Any information you hear, you read it.
Akilah Hughes: You knew about it. And those are the headlines.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, help Ingenuity get back up, and tell your friends to listen.
Akilah Hughes: And if you’re into reading, and not just writings about the yoga-to-psychotic-episodes pipeline like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon. Resnick.
[together] And good luck, Matthew McConaughey!
Akilah Hughes: You can’t be any worse.
Gideon Resnick: That’s his slogan. That’s, that’s it right there. [laughter] When he said: all right, all right, all right—he was talking about how good of a governor he would be.
Akilah Hughes: His standard. Yup.
Akilah Hughes: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media.
Gideon Resnick: It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes.
Akilah Hughes: Sonia Htoon is our assistant producer.
Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran, Akilah Hughes, and me.
Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.