In This Episode
- The House of Representatives adjourned for a second day without electing a new speaker, after Rep. Kevin McCarthy failed to convince 20 of his Republican colleagues to support his bid. He lost another three rounds of voting Wednesday, leaving no indication when the stalemate will end.
- California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency amid a potentially catastrophic storm that’s bearing down on the Golden State. It’s now the third atmospheric river to hit the state in just two weeks.
- And in headlines: the FDA finalized a rule change that will make abortion pills more accessible, the organizer of the “Varsity Blues” college admissions cheating scandal was sentenced to federal prison, and Salesforce said it would lay off about 10% of its staff.
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, January 5th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tollivera and this is What A Day, the only news podcast that is recorded using the same high tech motion capture technology as Avatar.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, you don’t even want to know how many millions of dollars we burn every single time we make an episode [laughter] just set on fire.
Juanita Tolliver: All these little sensors on our faces cost money.
Priyanka Aribindi: You can’t even see us right now and we still do it. [music break] On today’s show, the FDA finalized a new rule that will expand access to abortion pills. Plus, New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ war against the rats is getting personal over an alleged infestation at one of his properties.
Juanita Tolliver: Eew. Not one of his own properties? Like–
Priyanka Aribindi: Eew.
Juanita Tolliver: –how is he being part of the problem? Yikes.
Priyanka Aribindi: Big yikes.
Juanita Tolliver: But first, today felt like déja vu in Washington, D.C., as Representative Kevin McCarthy failed to change any of the minds of the 20 Republicans who continue to refuse to support his bid to become Speaker of the House. McCarthy lost three more rounds of voting yesterday, and as of our recording time at 9:30 p.m. Eastern, the House has just adjourned a second day of unsuccessful votes for speaker of the House. And all McCarthy has to show for it is 20 votes for Florida Representative Byron Donalds and one present vote. So McCarthy is even deeper in the hole than before.
Priyanka Aribindi: Great. I mean, that was our prediction yesterday. We were like more and more people keep defecting.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: And that’s what’s happening. I just wonder like, when’s he going to move his shit out of the office? Cause this–
Juanita Tolliver: Girl.
Priyanka Aribindi: –is not happening at this point.
Juanita Tolliver: Come on, he shouldn’t of even moved in there. But for what we saw yesterday, the decision by never Kevin Republicans to spice things up by nominating Donalds, a Black man, it was sickening, yet entirely unsurprising because racist tokenism is a signature move from Republicans. I mean, we most recently saw this with Herschel Walker in the Georgia Senate race when Republicans picked any Black Republican they could find just to show how racist they weren’t. But the cherry on top here is that House Republicans are using Donald’s nomination to say they, too, have made history by nominating the first Black man to be speaker of the House, when in reality, we know exactly what this is.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: Moreover, the decision to nominate Representative Donalds came after former President Trump posted on bootleg Twitter that Republicans should vote for Kevin, close the deal, take the victory. In all caps of course. Trump also made calls to his loyalists with the same message, but that outreach apparently fell flat, as Representative Lauren Boebert said that the former president, quote, “needs to tell Kevin McCarthy that sir, you don’t have the votes and it’s time to withdraw.” Of course, that makes zero sense because Trump refused to accept the 2020 election results and led an armed insurrection to the Capitol building. But alas.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Clearly she forgot who she was talking to. Um. But what can we expect next from the Republicans on this you know two days of failed votes? Are we just sedentary doing this until I don’t know, we get a result? When is this going to happen?
Juanita Tolliver: Girl probably we should expect the never Kevin Republicans to feel fully emboldened by all of this. They’re effectively disrupting Congress, humiliating Kevin McCarthy, and there’s no telling how much money they’re raising off of this stunt. Ultimately, the standoff is going to continue and it’s a direct head to head between McCarthy, who still maintains that he has the most votes and even said at the beginning of yesterday’s session, quote, “At the end of the day, we’ll get there.” Of course, they did not. And the 21 Republicans who are demonstrating exactly how much they can break government in real time. One thing we have to recognize is that these Republicans are not focused on using their power to govern and lead, but rather to cause McCarthy as much pain and shame as possible. But after last night’s nail biting vote, the House will reconvene today at noon to begin voting again as reported that McCarthy is actively negotiating with the 21 holdouts in his conference and working to make final decisions on committee assignments, rules for future primary elections and more.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Okay. I guess uh seventh time’s a charm for him.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. I also appreciated that yesterday President Biden reiterated exactly how embarrassing all of this is as he was in route to Kentucky. He said, quote, “I just think it’s a little embarrassing that it’s taking so long” and quote, “the rest of the world is looking to see if we can get our act together.” And the president’s not wrong. On top of that, House members are beginning to run into very real world issues since none of them can be sworn in until a speaker is selected. For example, Representative Mike Gallagher said in a press conference yesterday that he couldn’t attend an intelligence briefing because he doesn’t have an active security clearance. And that reality will only compound as more time passes and we still don’t have a Speaker of the House.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, you brought this up yesterday and it is all fun and games for now, but very quickly will cease to be that. So they really–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: –Need to get their act together and uh pick someone. Anyone, just do it. Let’s turn now to something that we covered in headlines from our last show. Yesterday afternoon, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency amid a potentially catastrophic storm that is barreling down on the Golden State. A separate system already sent heavy rain and strong winds across northern California over the weekend, causing power outages and triggering evacuation orders amid fear of widespread flooding.
Juanita Tolliver: I’ve heard this referred to as an atmospheric river. Can you explain what that means?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So that term uh gets thrown around from time to time. It sounds very alarming, but it’s actually a very normal phenomenon. Atmospheric rivers are basically long flowing parts of the atmosphere that transport water vapor. Most of them are pretty weak. They don’t cause damage. They result in regular rainfall and snow that helps the water supply. But the ones that contain the most water vapor and the strongest winds can create really extreme weather like what we saw in California yesterday. And this isn’t the first time that this has happened here. This storm is actually the third atmospheric river to hit California in the past two weeks alone.
Juanita Tolliver: Three in two weeks is wild. So–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes.
Juanita Tolliver: –Is this why the state of emergency was declared?
Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely so Governor Newsom said that he was doing so in order to, quote, “support response and recovery efforts”. And that is not just for this particular storm. It is for this collection of three that have caused a lot of damage.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Northern California has already seen dramatic flooding as a result of the first two storms. There have been school closures and flight cancelations all across the San Francisco Bay area. And this particular storm is expected to bring powerful wind gusts and over six inches of rainfall to some parts of the Bay Area through today. Officials say that those winds will most likely bring down branches and trees and are also warning of rapid rises in creeks and rivers across the region. And they’ve also issued flash flood warnings in several areas that have been impacted by recent wildfires. Down in Southern California, people are bracing for the worst stretch of the storm today, which could also lead to potential flooding, mudslides and dangerous waves on the coast. Winds in the desert are expected to reach between 60 and 65 miles per hour. Those are really dangerous speeds. That’s basically just under what a hurricane would be.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, goodness. I really hope people in California and especially Southern California today just stay safe, because none of this seems like the typical California weather that I’m used to knowing, like–
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Juanita Tolliver: –you know, the bright sunshine and no rain whatsoever. So how does this stack up with other storms the state has experienced?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, okay. Definitely not normal at all here in California. The state is still in its third year of intense drought. 2022 was one of the driest on record. So crazy to be watching this happen. But these storms could actually end up rivaling the El Niño fueled storms that hit California during the winter of 1997 to 1998. Really terrible storms in the state’s history. And we’re not even in an El Niño year, even though this could put a dent in the ongoing drought condition that California’s been facing over the past few years, the state isn’t exactly prepared to go from, you know, extremely dry conditions to this extreme storm and extremely wet conditions.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: But unfortunately, we can expect to see a lot more of this in the future. Recent studies have shown that climate change will make these kinds of whiplash weather events even more common than they’re already becoming. Of course, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this storm. And if you’re impacted, we hope you’re able to stay safe. In the meantime, that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break].
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: The Food and Drug Administration this week finalized a rule change that will make abortion pills more accessible. On Tuesday, the agency said pharmacies can dispense Mifepristone to patients with a prescription. The change expands access to the drug at brick and mortar stores, as well as online pharmacies that deliver by mail. Before the rule change, patients could only get it through authorized clinics. It also gets rid of a longstanding requirement that such medication must be picked up in person. Meanwhile, the Justice Department also announced late Tuesday that the U.S. Postal Service can continue to deliver abortion medication even in states where access is restricted.
Juanita Tolliver: The man who turned our world upside down by revealing that the very rich can buy their way into college, Rick Singer, was sentenced to three and a half years in federal prison yesterday for organizing the so-called Varsity Blues Admissions Scheme. Singer pleaded guilty to racketeering, conspiracy, and money laundering charges back in 2019. He notably helped the children of celebrities like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin faked their way into prestigious schools. Though Singer was dealt the harshest sentence out of everyone connected to the case, in addition to his three and a half year sentence behind bars, he will face three years of supervised release and will have to pay damages of $10 million dollars, or approximately the price of, you know, one wing of a university library. Oof.
Priyanka Aribindi: Elon Musk’s tireless quest to make Twitter less appealing continued on Tuesday as the company announced that it would permit more political ads on its platform. Back in 2019, under then CEO Jack Dorsey, Twitter banned political candidates and advocacy groups from running ads on the site to prevent them from targeting users with false or misleading information. But analysts say that Twitter can no longer afford to cut itself off from a potential source of revenue, especially after numerous brands stopped advertising on the site amid concerns that Musk’s love of, quote unquote, “free speech” could result in ads for their hamburgers and skin care products appearing next to the worst post that humanity has to offer.
Juanita Tolliver: You know, anything for the money, right? [laugh]
Priyanka Aribindi: I suppose at this point.
Juanita Tolliver: Speaking of tech companies that are short on cash. Business software company Salesforce announced yesterday that it would lay off about 8000 of its employees. That’s about 10% of the company’s entire workforce. The company’s co-chief executive cited concerns about the economy as one reason for the cuts, echoing similar sentiments from giants like Meta and Twitter, which both laid off thousands of employees ahead of the holiday season.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s a scary time.
Juanita Tolliver: Hard times. Hard times.
Priyanka Aribindi: And New York City Mayor Eric Adams is getting a crash course in a phenomenon known as Rat Karma. He was recently hit with two $300 summonses for a possible rat infestation outside of a brownstone that he owns in Bed-Stuy after he cultivated a public persona as a sort of jigsaw killer but for rodents. This is actually the fifth time since 2018 that rats have been found at Adams’s building. For his part, the mayor is casting doubt on the city health department’s findings, which included the presence of a, quote, “rat runway”. Eew.
Juanita Tolliver: Picture that.
Priyanka Aribindi: Just absolutely disgusting. I do not want to even attempt. Adams has been able to beat previous violations by spending money to ward off rats. And he said this week that, quote, “I will again challenge these violations and show that rats don’t run this city.” Sir. If you can’t take care of the rats, who can take care of the rats?
Juanita Tolliver: And he hasn’t been able–
Priyanka Aribindi: Fix it.
Juanita Tolliver: –To take care of the rats for years. This is his fifth violation in four years. Like, that’s sickening.
Priyanka Aribindi: I think the rats might run this city at this point.
Juanita Tolliver: Girl, girl.
Priyanka Aribindi: I think that shows what’s happening.
Juanita Tolliver: We all know who Pizza Rat is, is all I’m going to say.
Priyanka Aribindi: [sigh] And those are the headlines. [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Apprehend a rat jigsaw and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just descriptions of rat runways like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
[spoken together] And stay off Twitter skincare companies.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, listen, run ads with us.
Juanita Tolliver: Girl, I would love.
Priyanka Aribindi: We love skincare.
Juanita Tolliver: Hey, Tatcha. Come on over.
Priyanka Aribindi: We’re available.
Juanita Tolliver: Come on. [laugh]
Priyanka Aribindi: I love that water cream. It’s great.
Juanita Tolliver: Girl. [laughter] [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: 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 Jon Millstein and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.