In This Episode
- Israel is accused of committing genocide in Gaza in a case before the International Court of Justice on Thursday. South Africa filed the claim, and it alleges that Israel violated international law by committing and failing to prevent genocidal acts against Palestinians in Gaza.
- Hunter Biden took a surprise trip to the Capitol Building on Wednesday to look Republicans in the eye as they advanced a resolution to hold him in contempt of Congress. And outside the Capitol, Hunter and his legal team reiterated the notion that House Republicans are attempting to use Hunter as a surrogate to attack the president.
- And in headlines: at least 10 people are dead in Ecuador in a series of attacks blamed on armed gangs, Chris Christie suspended his presidential campaign, and the Screen Actors Guild and the Director’s Guild Award nominations dropped yesterday.
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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Juanita Tolliver: It’s Thursday, January 11th. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi and this is What a Day. The podcast that has big questions about McDonald’s Double Big Mac that will debut in two weeks.
Juanita Tolliver: So many questions. But mostly, why not the McRib? Like, that’s what I would love to see make a return. I mean, that’s all.
Priyanka Aribindi: Give the people what they want. No one’s asking for the Big Mac, please. [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: On today’s show, Hunter Biden made a surprise appearance at the congressional vote to hold him in contempt. Plus, Chris Christie says he’s out of the presidential race.
[clip of Chris Christie] And it’s clear to me tonight that there isn’t a path for me to win the nomination.
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, that wasn’t clear like last year? But okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: Just tonight?
Juanita Tolliver: Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: Just tonight?
Juanita Tolliver: Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, Israel is scheduled to appear today before the International Court of Justice in The Hague to face a case that accuses them of committing genocide in Gaza. This case, brought by South Africa, alleges that Israel violated international law by committing and failing to prevent genocidal acts against Palestinians in Gaza. Including the large scale killing and injuring of civilians using unguided munitions known as dumb bombs, causing mass destruction and displacement, and depriving civilians of access to food, water, medical care, sanitation and more. This is yet another call in the growing international pressure on Israel to scale back its military actions in Gaza, which, according to the health officials there, have killed over 23,000 Palestinians over the past three months. According to new reports, nearly one in every 100 people in Gaza has been killed since the war between Israel and Hamas began, and crises of mass displacement, hunger and disease continue to grow.
Juanita Tolliver: That’s just a harrowing statistic and a harrowing reality for what’s happening in Gaza right now. But before we get into this, tell us more about what the International Court of Justice is.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So the ICJ was established post-World War two as the United Nations highest judicial body. It is made up of 15 judges who are elected by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. And after the Holocaust in 1948, the U.N. ratified a convention that made genocide a crime under international law and gave the ICJ the authority to determine whether or not it had been committed by a state. So that is how we ended up here, because South Africa filed this case against Israel.
Juanita Tolliver: Interesting. So let’s talk about the significance of this being brought by South Africa.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s definitely interesting and definitely layered. So South Africa had a long history of apartheid, which was a state sanctioned policy of segregation on the basis of race. And the post apartheid government there has long recognized and supported Palestinians and their struggle for freedom and statehood, as you know, being congruent to their own. In a speech back in 1997, Nelson Mandela himself said, quote, “we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestinians.” According to South Africa’s present day Justice Minister, Ronald Lamola, they believe that it’s important for a state like South Africa that has experienced apartheid discrimination to stand with the people of Gaza and Palestine. And they certainly aren’t the only nation that has been highly critical of Israel’s military conduct in Gaza.
Juanita Tolliver: I want to circle back to that in a moment. But first, let’s talk about Israel’s response to this case. How are they responding to everything?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I mean, they completely reject this accusation. The concept of genocide carries a particular weight in Israel specifically. The term itself was first used to describe the systematic killing of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. And it was after that genocide that Israel was established. So, of course, there is even more sensitivity and emotion around this kind of accusation. Of this case. Israel’s President, Isaac Herzog, had this to say on Tuesday.
[clip of Isaac Herzog] There’s nothing more atrocious and preposterous than this claim.
Priyanka Aribindi: He went on to point to Hamas, the group behind the October 7th attack, and their explicit calls for the annihilation of Israel in their charter as what’s actually genocidal. Israel has maintained throughout this time that they didn’t choose to start this war, that they were forced into it after Hamas’s attack on their civilians. And they maintain that the action that they’ve taken has been in accordance with the international rules of war. But on this show and in other reporting, you know, there have been plenty of instances in which they have not.
Juanita Tolliver: And you just reminded us of a number of them at the top when you talk about the mass destruction, mass killings and the blocking of any type of aid to reach the people of Gaza. And so what about the rest of the world? What have they had to say about today’s case?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, South Africa certainly not the only ones condemning how Israel has waged this war. In December, the U.N. General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution calling for a cease fire. The UN Security Council also passed a binding resolution that called for the delivery of more humanitarian aid into Gaza. But Israel’s most important ally throughout all of this has been the United States. And in this matter, they still have the US’s full support. National security spokesman John Kirby described South Africa’s case as, quote, “meritless, counterproductive, completely without any basis in facts whatsoever.”
Juanita Tolliver: That’s quite a quote, and I’m sure there’s no mistake in the fact that it mirrors exactly what we played just a second ago from Israel’s president. Right. Like, okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: So what happens next here?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So the initial hearings in this case will start today and tomorrow. And to be successful here, South Africa has to show that Israel’s goal was not only to wipe out Hamas, but to do the same to Palestinians in Gaza more broadly. But a final ruling on this could take years to reach. South Africa has asked the court for an emergency provision to order Israel to immediately stop its military operation. But I mean, I wouldn’t get my hopes up quite yet. Though the court’s rulings are technically legally binding. They don’t have all that many ways to enforce the decisions that they do make. So back in 2022, for example, they ordered Russia to stop its invasion of Ukraine. But, I mean, it’s 2024 that is still ongoing. We talk about it on this program regularly. So it remains to be seen what will happen in the courts and what, if any, result that has on Israel’s actions in Gaza.
Juanita Tolliver: Thanks so much for that overview, Priyanka. Now turning to drama in Washington, DC. Yesterday, Hunter Biden took a surprise trip to the Capitol building to look Republicans in the eye as they prepare to begin the process of holding him in contempt of Congress. And let’s just say that these House Oversight Committee members were completely caught off guard.
Priyanka Aribindi: What a moment that was. But before we get into it, can you remind us how we got to this point? And was it quite as chaotic as I would imagine?
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, friend, it was pure chaos. [laughing] Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: So looking backwards as part of House Republicans efforts to avoid doing anything of value for the people, they’ve targeted Hunter Biden as a witness in an attempt to find dirt on President Biden that connects him in any way to Hunter’s business dealings. Last November, Republicans subpoenaed Hunter to provide closed-door testimony. And in response, Hunter insisted that he would only offer testimony in public, and he didn’t attend the December hearing. So that brings us to today. When Hunter crashed the House Oversight Committee meeting with his legal team. As soon as he walked in, Republican Representative Nancy Mace called for his immediate arrest. Even though that’s not how contempt of Congress works at all. Like this is not a courtroom, Nancy. Get it together.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it’s giving Judge Judy. The vibes are–
Juanita Tolliver: 100%.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s like cable law TV. I don’t even know. But what else happened in that hearing room?
Juanita Tolliver: Well, the plot thickened when Democratic Representative Jared Moskowitz called out the blatant hypocrisy of Republicans when members of their own conference defied subpoenas during the January 6th select committee hearings. Take a listen.
[clip of Representative Jared Moskowitz] I’ll make this bipartisan. I’ll vote for the Hunter contempt today. You can get my vote. You can get my vote. But I want you to show the American people that you’re serious. Here is the subpoena to Representative Scott Perry, who did not comply. I’d like to enter this into the record. Here is the subpoena to Mark Meadows. I’d like to enter this into the record, who did not comply. Here is the subpoena to Jim Jordan, who did not comply with a lawful subpoena. I’d like to enter that into the record. Here is the subpoena to Mo Brooks, who did not comply. I’d like to enter that into the record. Here is the subpoena to Mr. Biggs, who did not comply. I’d like to enter that into the record. And here’s the subpoena to Mr. McCarthy, who did not comply. I’d like to enter that into the record.
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, y’all know I love receipts [laughing] and these receipts are yet another reminder of just how unserious these House Republicans are.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that’s a CVS length receipt.
Juanita Tolliver: Yes!
Priyanka Aribindi: It kept going and going. [laughter] In the midst of all of this, though, did Hunter Biden even make a statement?
Juanita Tolliver: Well, Representative Moskowitz asked for a show of hands of how many people were willing to hear public testimony from Hunter Biden right then and there. And lo and behold, not a single one of the Republicans expressed interest.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: After that, Hunter Biden left just as Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene was about to speak.
Priyanka Aribindi: Which good for you, Hunter. Protect your peace. Do what you need to do.
Juanita Tolliver: Outside of the Capitol building. Hunter and his legal team reiterated the notion that House Republicans are attempting to use Hunter as a surrogate to attack the president, and that they have offered to work with the House committees and public hearings multiple times.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right. So, you know, what can we expect next in what has really just become an ongoing saga here?
Juanita Tolliver: House Republicans on the Oversight and Judiciary committees voted last night to approve a report recommending a contempt of Congress resolution to hold Hunter Biden in contempt. Now, the resolution will go to the House floor for another party line vote before a referral is sent to the Department of Justice. It’s unclear when the House floor vote will happen, but as y’all may recall from the January 6th Select Committee contempt of Congress referrals, this is a long drawn out process, so brace yourselves. That’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: In Ecuador at least ten people have been killed so far in a series of attacks blamed on armed gangs, including police kidnappings, blasts, and uprisings in prison. President Daniel Noboa declared a state of emergency and nightly curfew on Monday, after the leader of Ecuador’s biggest gang actually escaped from prison, triggering this wave of violence. More than 3000 police officers and members of the armed forces have since been deployed to find him. On Tuesday, armed gang members stormed a studio of a state owned television station while cameras were rolling and took hostages. Ecuador is right between two of the world’s largest cocaine producers, Peru and Colombia. So a lot of gangs within Ecuador are closely linked to other drug cartels in the region, intensifying the ongoing instability. But the Ecuadorian prison system is especially difficult for security forces to manage, since many are overcrowded, understaffed and inmates can sometimes take control. Officials in neighboring Peru said that they are enforcing security measures along the border with Ecuador.
Juanita Tolliver: Stateside, yet another Republican presidential candidate is out of the 2024 race. Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, ended his presidential campaign yesterday. Take a listen to what Christie, who’s been a vocal Trump critic, said about his decision at a town hall in Windham, New Hampshire, yesterday.
[clip of Chris Christie] It’s the right thing for me to do because I want to promise you this. I am going to make sure that in no way do I enable Donald Trump to ever be president of the United States again, and that’s more important than my own personal ambition. [applause]
Juanita Tolliver: Christie’s drop out comes just days before the Iowa caucuses. And it wasn’t immediately clear if he’d be endorsing any of his former opponents. I mean, let’s be real, he’s not endorsing them. He considers them scum so–
Priyanka Aribindi: No, he hates them. If he’s endorsing anybody it’s Joe Biden.
Juanita Tolliver: But speaking of those rivals, two of them took to the debate stage Wednesday night in yet another Republican debate. This time, only Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley went face to face in Des Moines, Iowa. CNN, which hosted the event, said that only Haley, DeSantis, and former President Donald Trump qualified for the debate. But Trump, of course, skipped out just as he has several times before. Instead, he participated in an hourlong Fox News town hall that started at the exact same time. Because, of course, this isn’t about people. This is a ratings war, Priyanka. I–
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously.
Juanita Tolliver: –can pull in more eyeballs than you like that’s it’s a game.
Priyanka Aribindi: Four eyeballs that were not on either of these programs. Yours and mine. So lucky, lucky for us, we escaped unscathed. A federal judge in Alabama ruled yesterday to allow an inmate to be executed using nitrogen gas on January 25th. This would be the first execution carried out in the US using the untested hypoxia method, which is administered using a mask and slowly deprives a person of oxygen. Naturally, human rights experts have strongly and publicly oppose this. The inmate in question, Kenneth Eugene Smith, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in 2022, and he actually survived a previous execution attempt, which–
Juanita Tolliver: Wow.
Priyanka Aribindi: –wild. Um. His lawyers are expected to appeal the decision to use the nitrogen hypoxia execution as well, accusing the state of making Smith a, quote, “test subject.” This method of execution has been approved by just three states, but it’s possible that the legal battle over its ethics could end up in front of the US Supreme Court. The United Nations even weighed in last week, warning that the execution of Smith with this method would subject him to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. I don’t think that’s an or I think that’s an and all of the above.
Juanita Tolliver: 35 states, five U.S. territories and four tribes plan to participate in a new summer food assistance program for kids this year. That’s according to an announcement yesterday by the United States Department of Agriculture, aka the USDA. That was a lot of letters. [laughter] The program, called the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer Program, or Summer EBT, will give eligible families $120 per child to buy food at grocery stores, farmers markets and more during the summer, much like Snap benefits. And in total, the program will serve nearly 21 million children across the country and its territories. But if the math ain’t mathing and you’re wondering why only 35 of all 50 states committed to this program, well, that’s because Republican governors in the remaining 15 states decided to opt out of the program this year because apparently they don’t want kids to eat.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s as simple as that.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. That means about 8 million children in the U.S. will not receive those benefits this summer. Those states include Alaska, Alabama, Texas, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, and more. And they came to this decision for different reasons. Iowa, for example, will enhance already existing nutrition programs in the state. That’s according to a news release last month in which Governor Kim Reynolds said, quote, “An EBT card does nothing to promote nutrition at a time when childhood obesity has become an epidemic.” Kim. Kim. Honey, you’re looking at the wrong thing right now.
Priyanka Aribindi: No.
Juanita Tolliver: This is about feeding kids.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes.
Juanita Tolliver: That’s all.
Priyanka Aribindi: That’s all.
Juanita Tolliver: In Texas, a spokesman with the Health and Human Services Commission told the Associated Press that implementing the program was, quote, “Not feasible for the state.” And Nebraska’s governor, Jim Pillen, has simply said, quote, “I don’t believe in welfare.” Hey, Jim. Yeah. No, we got to keep this PG. [laughing] I have nothing nice to say of any of these people.
Priyanka Aribindi: Republicans have done this with health care, extending it to the poorest in our communities.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: They’re now doing it with children, the most vulnerable communities that, you know, programs are established to help these people, to feed them to, you know, let them live healthy lives. And Republicans just are offered the funding, it’s on the table, no strings attached. And they say, just no thanks. We don’t need it. We’d rather these people be unhealthy, suffer from their conditions and starve all.
Juanita Tolliver: All in the name of owning the libs of course. Like because this is apparently a shot at Democrats.
Priyanka Aribindi: Truly, one of the most disgusting things that they stand behind, really is. University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban is retiring after 17 seasons. During his 28 year career, Saban won seven national championships, the most by any major college football coach. The most recent of those wins was 2020. And in all 17 seasons, Saban won 201 games total. In a statement yesterday, Saban said in part, quote, “It is not just about how many games we won and lost, but it’s about the legacy and how we went about it. We always tried to do it the right way. Hopefully we have done that and we will always consider Alabama our home.” In that statement, Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne went on to say, quote, “simply put, Nick Saban is one of the greatest coaches of all time in any sport, and the University of Alabama is fortunate to have had him leading our football program for the past 17 seasons.” You don’t have to know a lot about football to know this man’s name, to know he was an incredible coach. As as we’ve observed in our politics, you don’t need to know a lot about that to know that he should not go down the Tommy Tuberville route. I don’t know if that is of–
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: –his interest.
Juanita Tolliver: No.
Priyanka Aribindi: But just gonna nip that in the bud right now. Sir, you can go out on top. You can go out beloved. No need to try your hand at another arena and, um, maybe make everyone regret loving you.
Juanita Tolliver: And finally, as we continue our coverage of award show season, the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild Award nominations dropped yesterday, setting the stage for this year’s Academy Awards. Starting with SAG, Barbenheimer dominated the film categories with four nominations each including Best Performance by an ensemble. Colman Domingo was nominated for Best Actor for his performance as civil rights icon Bayard Rustin in Rustin. And Lily Gladstone received a nod for Best Actress for her role in Killers of the Flower Moon, just days after becoming the first Indigenous person to win a similar award at the Golden Globes. As for the Directors Guild Award, Barbie’s Greta Gerwig and Oppenheimer’s Christopher Nolan made the list of Outstanding Directorial Achievement, along with Alexander Payne for The Holdovers and Yorgos Lanthimos for Poor Things. In the category for first time directors, Celine Song received a nod for her debut film, Past Lives, and Cord Jefferson was nominated for his work on American Fiction. These two award shows serve as good indicators for which films will go on to compete at the Oscars, so if you’re filling out your Oscar ballot, these are the ceremonies to watch. The Academy will officially begin voting on Oscar nominations today. And y’all, if you haven’t seen most of these, I really need you to head to your theater immediately. Like, oh my gosh, these are some of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time, and I’m really excited to see them get their flowers.
Priyanka Aribindi: Juanita, you are convincing me because I’ve seen, like, perhaps one of these films.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, friend!
Priyanka Aribindi: But I’m just wondering, where is M3GAN? Where is M3GAN’s nomination for best, like, best–
Juanita Tolliver: Oh Priyanka.
Priyanka Aribindi: –performance in a drama? [laughter] Some of the best work I’ve ever seen.
Juanita Tolliver: And those are the headlines. [laugh]
Juanita Tolliver: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, smell you later Chris and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you are into reading and not just the nutrition facts of a double big mac like me.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh my god.
Priyanka Aribindi: No! What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver.
[spoken together] And Republicans, let Hunter speak.
Juanita Tolliver: In public. That’s the asterix, in public.
Priyanka Aribindi: In public.
Juanita Tolliver: In front of cameras where you can’t cut and splice whatever he says to fill your conspiracy theory needs. In public.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. [music break] 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 showrunner is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.