In This Episode
- Rescue efforts continue in Maui after fast-moving wildfires caused catastrophic damage across the island this week. The death toll from the wildfires has risen to at least 53 with several others wounded. Thousands of Maui residents have been displaced by the catastrophe, as well.
- The Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers will return to the negotiating table today. The meeting comes as the writers’ strike just crossed the 100-day mark, a milestone the Guild’s negotiating committee co-chair Chris Keyser has called “an anniversary of shame.”
- And in headlines: the first of Trump’s many criminal trials could start as soon as January 2nd, the Supreme Court put on hold a bankruptcy settlement involving OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma, and Virgin Galactic sent its first tourists into space yesterday.
Help those affected by the fires in Maui:
- Maui Mutual Aid Fund – https://www.bit.ly/mauimutualaide
- Hawai’i’ Community Foundation Maui Strong Fund – https://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/maui-strong
- Fundraiser for Pūnana Leo o Lāhinā whose school site at Waiola Church, which burned down: https://www.instagram.com/p/CvvWWoqSl9V/
- Fundraiser for Nā ‘Āikane O Maui Cultural Center, which burned down: https://www.instagram.com/p/CvvJeNzy2WM/?img_index=1
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
Crooked Coffee is officially here. Our first blend, What A Morning, is available in medium and dark roasts. Wake up with your own bag at crooked.com/coffee
Follow us on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/crookedmedia/
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, August 11th, I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I am Priyanka Aribindi. And this is What A Day, the podcast that wants just one luxury vacation. Meanwhile, Justice Clarence Thomas is over there getting 38. One doesn’t feel like a lot to ask for.
Tre’vell Anderson: And ProPublica’s new report says they were all funded by conservative benefactors. Lucky him. Maybe I need to get me some conservative friends, Priyanka. [laughing] [music break] On today’s show, negotiations are back on between Hollywood studios and striking writers. Plus, the first of Trump’s mini criminal trials could start as soon as January 2nd.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, the rescue efforts continue in Maui after fast moving wildfires caused catastrophic damage across the island this week. The death toll from the wildfires has risen to 53, with several others wounded as of the time of our recording at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Thursday. Those numbers could, of course, change in the coming hours and days. According to officials, the blaze is currently 80% contained.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, I’ve been seeing the photos, the video’s, not looking great by any means.
Priyanka Aribindi: No.
Tre’vell Anderson: What’s it like on the ground there at the moment?
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, the devastation is just widespread. The aerial footage shows wreckage where the historic town of Lahaina used to be. The people who’ve survived just have the most harrowing accounts of evacuating their homes, trying to escape the flames. As we were telling you on yesterday’s show, some people even jumped into the ocean to get away from the flames. Take a listen to Lahaina resident Kekoa Lansford’s account from Hawaii Now:
[clip of Kekoa Lansford] Still get dead bodies in the water floating and on the seawall. They’s been sitting there since last night. We’ve been pulling people out since last night, trying to save people’s lives. And I feel like we’re not getting the help we need. You know? Oh, my God.
Tre’vell Anderson: You can hear the devastation, the desperation in their voice.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, definitely. And there’s also been a huge issue around shelter on the island. Thousands of Maui residents have been displaced by this catastrophe. 11,000 customers don’t have power. And, of course, the island had many tourists who were there earlier this week on vacation. On Wednesday, over 14,000 people were moved off of the island with another 14,500 moved yesterday. They were either sent to other Hawaiian islands to finish up their vacations or back to their home states and countries. However, the focus in Maui at the moment is very rightfully so on helping the island’s residents who are in desperate need of food and shelter in the aftermath of this disaster.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. What do we know so far about the recovery efforts?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, there are groups and aid workers on the ground who are working to help people in real time. We will link in our show notes to some ways that you can support them. That’s definitely a great place to contribute. But this is a huge disaster. There is also aid coming in at the federal level. That is the magnitude that this is at. On Thursday, President Biden issued a federal disaster declaration and had this to say.
[clip of President Joe Biden] I’ve ordered all available federal assets on the island, including the US Coast Guard, the Navy Third Fleet and the U.S. Army to assist local emergency response crews along with the Hawaiian National Guard.
Priyanka Aribindi: He ensured that anyone who lost their homes or loved ones would be getting help immediately and that FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell will be on the ground in Maui today to ensure that survivors have access to federal assistance ASAP. In addition to streamlining these processes, a disaster declaration can include things like grants for temporary housing and repairs, low cost loans to cover property losses that were uninsured, and other things that can help people rebuild their lives and livelihood in the coming days, weeks and months. Once again, if you are able to help, we are including a list of groups and funds in Maui that could use your donations in our show notes if you’re able to contribute, it is so desperately needed by so many at this time. So please take a look at those and consider doing so if you can.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Now on to an update on the Hollywood strikes, which for the writers just crossed the 100 day mark. Today, the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the industry’s top studios and streamers. Both groups will be returning to the negotiating table. Now, that 100 day mark is an important milestone because it means this strike is now longer than the previous one from 2007 that also transformed the industry in irreversible ways, such as the birth of reality TV star Donald Trump, due to the rise of Celebrity Apprentice. Or my personal qualm of all of this, the canceling of the iconic TV show Girlfriends. The Guild’s negotiating committee co-chair Chris Keyser, told the Hollywood Reporter that the 100 day mark is, quote, “an anniversary of shame for the Producers Alliance.”
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes, certainly is. So can you remind us what the writers are asking for in all of this?
Tre’vell Anderson: They’re asking for a few different things. They want better pay and a better system for residuals in particular to account for how streaming has changed the industry so much. They also want minimums placed on how small a writers room can be because studios have been, in their words, abusing what’s known as mini rooms. And they also want to regulate how artificial intelligence can be used as to not replace actual human writers.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right. All very important things. How has this strike impacted these writers so far, especially now that we are 100 days over three months in?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So I’m sure you’ll remember this quote that an executive said in the press a few weeks ago. He said, quote, “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses, which I know you remember it made a big stink, a big storm in the industry and beyond because–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: How heartless can you be in this type of process?
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. I don’t think anyone will be forgetting that one for a long time.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. Well, 100 days later, that is exactly what’s happening. One writer told NBC News, quote, “I feel like I’m subsidizing this strike with my savings in a way that’s starting to get scary.” She says that after writing on an award winning show just last year, she’s been cobbling together these stopgap gigs to make ends meet, like walking dogs and nannying, doing travel arrangements for folks, doing paid surveys. And then there’s another writer, Corey Dashaun. He’s a third year Writers Guild member and says that the last few months have been, in the words of singer Vivian Green, an emotional roller coaster, especially for early career screenwriters like himself, and even more so for Black and queer creators who are really just getting opportunities, especially after, you know, the great racial reckoning of 2020. He said, quote, “It’s demoralizing to try to build a successful career right now.” And if you go on social media, you’ll hear of a variety of folks, writers, actors as well, right. Sharing their stories, sharing how these strikes are impacting them. One of the more notable ones was Billy Porter, who revealed that he had to sell his home to make ends meet and if–
Priyanka Aribindi: Wild.
Tre’vell Anderson: –somebody with that level of visibility and celebrity has to sell their home. Imagine what rank and file folks right are having to do.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Tre’vell Anderson: As always, we are expressing solidarity with the striking workers and the actors. But that is the latest for now. [music break] Let’s get to some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: We have two more updates on Trump’s legal woes. First, prosecutors working under special counsel Jack Smith asked U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan for a January 2nd starting trial date. This is for the case where Trump is charged for attempting to overturn the 2020 election. The prosecutors say that starting right after New Year’s would, quote, “vindicate the public’s strong interest in a speedy trial. It would also be about two weeks before the first Republican primary in Iowa. Trump’s lawyers are predicted to respond to the prosecutor’s date in the coming days. They previously indicated that they want to delay the process as long as possible, but the start date is for Judge Chutkan to decide, and she is expected to make her decision during a court hearing on August 28. Moving on to another of Trump’s cases, this time the one for classified documents held at Mar-a-Lago. Trump and his longtime aide Walt Nauta pleaded not guilty yesterday to the updated charges they face. Those charges include trying to delete incriminating security footage at Mar-a-Lago.
Priyanka Aribindi: Listen, January 2nd, let’s just hit the ground running in 2024. I’m into that timing. I think that’s about right.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Priyanka Aribindi: The United States and Iran reach a deal to free five detained Americans in exchange for the release of some jailed Iranians and access to $6 billion dollars of Iran’s funds in South Korea. Iran on Thursday transferred four Iranian-American dual citizens to house arrest from Tehran’s notorious Evin prison. Three of the five total prisoners are Siamak Namazi, Emad Sharghi, and Morad Tahbaz, all of whom were detained on unsubstantiated charges of spying and sentenced to ten years in prison. The families of the other two prisoners withheld their names, and according to The New York Times, the prisoners will stay under house arrest at a hotel in Tehran for several weeks and will only be allowed to leave once the agreed upon assets hit the central bank in Qatar, which will be regulating the money. Those assets include $6 billion dollars in Iranian oil revenue in South Korea, which Iran will be able to access only for humanitarian purposes like buying food and medicine. Officials say that process is expected to be completed in the next month or so. As for the Iranian prisoners in the U.S., the Biden administration declined to comment or confirm details about them to news organizations. But The Times reports that the administration will free a, quote, “handful of Iranian prisoners when the detained Americans return to the U.S..”
Tre’vell Anderson: The outgoing Ecuadorean president, Guillermo Lasso, has declared a nationwide state of emergency for 60 days following Wednesday’s assassination of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio, in the capital of Quito. Lasso has also stated that the country will observe a three day mourning period and that the August 20th election will go forward as planned. In a televised statement, Lasso told Ecuadorians that, quote, “We aren’t going to hand over power and the democratic institutions to organized crime. The elections aren’t going to be suspended.” The country has already been suffering from a surge in violent crime as gangs from Mexico and Colombia have used Ecuador’s ports in recent years to ship cocaine. So far, six Colombian nationals have been arrested in connection with the killing. There have been conflicting accounts of those claiming responsibility for the murder from different gangs. But what is known is that Villavicencio isn’t the only politician who has been killed recently. The mayor of the city of Manta was shot dead last month, and so was a candidate for the National Assembly in the coastal city of Esmeraldas.
Priyanka Aribindi: The Supreme Court on Thursday put on hold a bankruptcy settlement involving OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma. That settlement would have shielded the family who owns the company from future civil opioid lawsuits. The court sided with the Justice Department in an unsigned order yesterday, agreeing to review the case and pause the $6 billion dollar settlement plan. The justices will hear arguments about the case in December. Thursday’s move comes after a federal appeals court back in May approved the deal protecting the Sackler family, who themselves are not seeking bankruptcy protection from these opioid lawsuits. But the Justice Department has opposed shielding the family from liability, and legal experts have said that the settlement could set a troubling precedent for other bankruptcy agreements between wealthy people and companies. Health experts have pointed to OxyContin for fueling the opioid crisis, and nearly 80,000 deaths were linked to opioids in the U.S. just last year.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’ve ever had FOMO, when you saw your friends post selfies from Italy or Coachella, just wait for it. Virgin Galactic, the space tourism company founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, sent its first tourists into space yesterday after being delayed for several years. The passengers were a mother daughter duo from Antigua and a former British Olympian who has Parkinson’s disease. The spaceship took off from Spaceport America in New Mexico for the 90 minute trip, where they were able to experience a short period of zero gravity and see the views of Earth from the windows. The success of Virgin Galactic’s flight means that the company will now be joining Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX in the space tourism business. When Jon Goodwin, the British Olympian, first bought his ticket for this trip, the year was 2005 and it cost him $250,000. Now, that ticket would cost a cool $450,000. Keisha Schahaff and her 18 year old daughter, Ana Mayers, won their tickets aboard in a sweepstakes organized by the nonprofit Space for Humanity. They are some of the first people from the Caribbean to travel to space and the first from Antigua. I mean, this is a very expensive ticket to go to space. You got a lot of money just sitting on your hands if you want to spend it on going to space.
Priyanka Aribindi: I have a lot of thoughts on this. First, if they’re auctioning off seats on this spaceship for like this first voyage, I don’t know. I would maybe wait. Why can’t they fill them?
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Priyanka Aribindi: If people are wanting to go on this, maybe I wouldn’t be so eager to, like, take that spot from the sweepstakes. But also another thought. I just have absolutely zero FOMO here. Like, I would have so much more FOMO from looking at the Italy pictures, from looking at the Coachella pictures like I think that is warranted. From a fucking space trip, that’s totally fine. I feel like I can watch a documentary, look at some pictures from NASA and we are good. Like there are some things you don’t need to experience to believe. And I think the enormity of this planet as viewed from space, is just something that we can just comprehend without having to actually experience for ourselves.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, I just think that there are certain activities that you leave to the experts, to the people who have studied.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: And trained and all of that, and going to space feels like one of them.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s up there with the Titanic exploration in my mind.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Absolutely. And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads with some of the best memes from the best news headline we read this week, the riverboat brawl in Alabama.
Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, WAD Squad. And for today’s Temp Check, we’re diving into the memes about the Montgomery riverboat brawl. Like Scuba Gooding Jr. Diving into the river. That’s one of my personal favorites.
Priyanka Aribindi: Same. Same.
Tre’vell Anderson: We told you about it earlier this week, But a quick reminder, a fight broke out on the riverfront last Saturday in Montgomery, Alabama, when a group of white folks in pontoon boats attacked a black dockworker. Some guy really just trying to do his job, y’all. That worker was really just trying to get them to move because they were in the spot reserved for a city owned riverboat trying to dock. The TLDR of all of this is they fucked around and they found out, four of the white pontoon people have been arrested so far.
Priyanka Aribindi: No one was seriously injured, but the whole event has become a huge source of absolutely hilarious memes. So there is the hat. The man who initially is being attacked and like the conflict is starting and you can see he uh takes off his hat and just throws it in the air. I don’t know why I’m miming this, this is a podcast. [laugh] He just throws it in the air, but like extremely high and basically kicking off the whole thing. There’s the chair. A man walks up holding a folding chair and just like, goes like full WWE.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes.
Priyanka Aribindi: There’s the swimming man who dives off of the boat and swims in the water to get in on the night. There are a lot of elements at play here, but all of them are more incredible than the last but Tre’vell, what are some of your favorites that you have seen so far?
Tre’vell Anderson: I agree with you that the hat is, you know, not talked about enough.
Priyanka Aribindi: There’s no reason to throw your hat like that.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: But it’s great.
Tre’vell Anderson: But see, this is the thing. And I should say I’ve seen people, you know, do memes like him throwing up the hat and there’s like a bat signal in the sky that, you know, summons–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes.
Tre’vell Anderson: –all of the folks. So I really love that. You know, I also really enjoy I mentioned this one on the show earlier about the Avengers endgame edit that I’ve seen with the portals popping up with folks coming out of it. Um. That’s been really enjoyable for me as a um, you know, Marvel fan. Um. And then my last one that I really loved, and this isn’t much of a meme per say, but it’s the fact that the name of the boat was named Harriet. And so I’ve seen all of these edits of like Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks, you know, showing up and like cheering on the Black [?] Fighters. And I just love that we’re able to take some important history and have fun with it. I love that for us.
Priyanka Aribindi: The kids aren’t learning it in school so–
Tre’vell Anderson: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: –this is where they need it. [laughter] I would agree. All of the above are things I also enjoy. One of my personal favorites is the Martin Luther King Junior Memorial.
Tre’vell Anderson: Oh yes.
Priyanka Aribindi: That has been photoshopped to include the chair.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes.
Priyanka Aribindi: Which I think is hysterical.
Tre’vell Anderson: So good.
Priyanka Aribindi: There was also all the names. Scuba Gooding Jr, I think is one of the more notable ones. There’s like a whole–
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: –laundry list we could go through. And I also personally really enjoy on TikTok, like the people who have just taken to their backyard pools to reenact this with their friends. But like you can tell they’ve done the work. They have done a close watch of this. They’re reenacting every single–.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s amazing when something captures the imagination like this has. It’s rare, but it’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful thing.
Tre’vell Anderson: It absolutely is. And just like that, we have checked our temps and remember that the Second Amendment protects your right to bear folding chairs. Thank you so much, NRA. You’re good for something. [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Send your money to Maui, not space, and tell–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yup.
Tre’vell Anderson: –your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you are into reading and not just where the nearest exit is on a Virgin Galactic flight like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
[spoken together] And send Clarence Thomas on a space vacation.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Hopefully one without a return flight, it’s fine.
Tre’vell Anderson: We could use a replacement of his seat.
Priyanka Aribindi: Just straight to Pluto. [laugh] [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: 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. Our intern is Ryan Cochran, and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.