In This Episode
- Turkey’s presidential election is likely heading to a runoff on May 28th. Neither incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who’s been in power for two decades – nor his rival, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, have cleared the 50% threshold to win. The results will determine if Turkey, a NATO ally, will continue its autocratic backslide, or take a more democratic path.
- Nearly two weeks after putting Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold on a New York City subway train, Daniel Penny surrendered to police on Friday to face second-degree manslaughter charges. His arraignment came nearly two weeks after Neely’s death, which sparked protests over the treatment of people struggling with homelessness and mental illness.
- And in headlines: Israel and Palestinian militants agreed to a ceasefire on Saturday, North Carolina’s Governor Roy Cooper publicly vetoed a 12-week abortion ban, and Brittney Griner hit the court for the first time since her release from Russian custody last year.
- Brittany Packnett Cunningham: Jordan Neely Paid the Price for White Discomfort – https://www.thecut.com/2023/05/jordan-neely-paid-the-price-for-white-discomfort.html
- 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 Monday, May 15th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What A Day, the Daily News podcast that celebrates all moms.
Tre’vell Anderson: Especially in the words of season three winner of American Idol, Fantasia. Baby Mamas.
Juanita Tolliver: [laughter] You caught me off guard with that one. But actually, those are the true superstars of Mother’s Day. Come on.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. [laughter] [music break] On today’s show, a truce has been called to end days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants. Plus, Brittney Griner hit the court for the first time since her release from Russian custody last year.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, I’m just so thrilled that she’s back to doing what she loves.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: But first, the presidential election in Turkey is heading to a runoff election as neither President Tayyip Erdogan nor rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu cleared the 50% threshold to win. Considering that Erdogan has been in power for 20 years, not winning 50% of the vote shows how the population of Turkey is probably ready for someone new. But now all eyes turn to May 28th, when the runoff election will take place. Now, this outcome isn’t without question, as there were claims from Kilicdaroglu, that some vote counts were being blocked by repeated objections. Naturally, he took to Twitter, the same app that Erdogan has been known to block in Turkey during moments of crisis. And the opposition leader tweeted, quote, “Do not block the will of this nation. I call out to our democracy workers on the field. Never leave the ballot boxes and election boards. We are here until every single vote is counted.”
Tre’vell Anderson: Juanita, it’s giving déja vu. No Beyoncé and I don’t like it.
Juanita Tolliver: We know this too well. Sadly.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Okay, so going into this election, was Erdogan expected to win?
Juanita Tolliver: Well, this election was considered a little bit of an uphill battle for Erdogan, and that’s to put it mildly. Going into the polls, Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu were neck and neck. And that’s not great when you’ve been leading the country for 20 years.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Juanita Tolliver: Not to mention, this was the first time that a 50% threshold was put in place after a public referendum. So it’s a brand new hurdle for Erdogan. When you add that to the virtual tie in the polls, it’s not a good start at all. Another reality is that Erdogan is blamed for the struggling economy and the record inflation people are dealing with. Yet another similarity and parallel. And earlier this year, Erdogan faced backlash for what was considered a poor response to the massively devastating earthquakes in February. There are even allegations of corruption and negligence that allowed for violations of building codes and safety standards, which probably led to a higher death toll after the earthquakes. And this detail is pretty striking considering that a devastating earthquake is what actually helped Erdogan get elected back in 2002. Additionally, there have been growing concerns about Erdogan’s autocratic posture over the years as he’s cracked down on protesters, secularists, and the academic community writ large. I’m talking about burning and banning hundreds of thousands of books following an attempted coup in 2016. And as NPR put it, Erdogan, quote, “methodically consolidated all branches of government under his authority.”
Tre’vell Anderson: You know, 20 years in a position is a very long time.
Juanita Tolliver: C’mon.
Tre’vell Anderson: For anybody. Okay. So maybe it is time for him to bow out. So what will happen if Erdogan loses?
Juanita Tolliver: If Erdogan loses, then Kilicdaroglu will inherit an economic crisis but he would have an opportunity to rebuild democratic institutions and standards in Turkey, including freeing a number of political prisoners. He would also have an outsized role in what happens next in Ukraine. You see, Turkey is a NATO member state, but since Russia started its invasion of Ukraine, Erdogan has been riding for Moscow hard, keeping up critical trade deals with Putin when other NATO members are united against Russia. With Erdogan out of office, though, that would mean that Putin would lose a key ally and he would face sanctions from Turkey. And this alignment with NATO would be a long time coming since Erdogan has made it his thing to disregard NATO commitments, which has left many nations in the West beyond frustrated. According to The New York Times, Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister, said on Friday, We all want an easier turkey. Well, that reality could come on May 28th, depending on how Turkey votes. And you better believe we will be watching.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Thanks so much for that, Juanita. Now on to an update in the story about Jordan Neely, the unhoused man who was killed on a New York City subway over two weeks ago. So we already mentioned on Friday’s show that the man who put Neely in a chokehold, Daniel Penny, was going to be charged with second degree manslaughter. Well, Penny actually surrendered to police later on Friday. And while he did appear in court, he did not enter a plea yet. After the hearing, Penny posted bail and was released. He also had to hand over his passport.
Juanita Tolliver: Now, before we get into the details here, let’s rewind a little bit. How exactly did we get here in the first place?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So on May 1st, Jordan Neely, who was an unhoused subway performer and Michael Jackson impersonator, was on the F train. According to reports, he started having a mental health crisis yelling and acting, quote unquote, “erratically,” when Daniel Penny, who is a 24 year old Marine veteran, put him in a chokehold. To be clear, Neely had not physically attacked or harmed anyone, but that chokehold which Penny held for up to 15 minutes, led to Neely’s death. A few days later, the medical examiner determined that Neely died of compression to his neck caused by the chokehold, and they ruled his death a homicide. Now, it took prosecutors over a week to announce their intent to charge Penny. And in that time, a whole lot of discourse was happening online about this story. Some folks noted the white privilege present in that Penny was questioned and released the night of the incident and that it took what many feel is entirely too long to get to this point where charges seem likely. Others have noted how this situation represents how we as a society treat unhoused people poorly. You know, broadly speaking. And still others think Penny was justified in his actions. His lawyers notably are calling the actions self-defense. And I say that’s notable because, again, there are no reports that anyone was in any physical danger.
Juanita Tolliver: That’s the part I keep coming back to. And you can definitely put me in the group of people who are thinking this all took entirely too long. But you mentioned earlier that Penny surrendered to authorities on Friday, but he did not enter a plea before being released. Why is that?
Tre’vell Anderson: So he hasn’t entered a plea because he has not yet been officially indicted by a grand jury. Prosecutors are still presenting evidence to a grand jury. And if the grand jury returns an indictment against Penny. Prosecutors will then be able to proceed with the felony case. But, of course, the decision to bring the charges against Penny before that happens is a sign that prosecutors are confident that the grand jury will return an indictment. Now, what the prosecutors have to prove here is kind of steep. It’s not enough to prove that the chokehold led to Neely’s death. We basically know that as much from the coroner’s report. Right. They must also show that Penny either intended to cause Neely’s death or that Penny acted with, quote unquote, “depraved indifference,” which is a tough standard to meet. They basically have to prove that he used deadly force without reasonably believing that Neely was doing the same or was about to. If convicted, Penny could spend up to 15 years in prison. And before we go, I want to note something else that I’ve seen pop up in conversations about this story, and that is the role of Mayor Eric Adams in all of this.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: Since the beginning of his administration, he has demonized and dehumanized New York’s unhoused population while also cutting vital social services that could help them. And all of this has led to an overall escalation in the criminalization of the homeless. And so, you know, it’s important for us to acknowledge the interconnectedness here and how Neely’s killing is a symptom of so many other issues. Right. That we also need to keep front of mind.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: As this plays out. But that is the latest for now. We’re going to go pay some bills and we’ll be right back. [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: Things are quieting down in the Gaza Strip after Israel and the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad agreed to a cease fire on Saturday. The truce, which was brokered by Egypt, ends a five day stretch of fighting that left 33 Palestinians and two Israelis dead. The violence broke out last Tuesday when Israeli forces launched an airstrike that killed three of Islamic Jihad’s commanders. Israel claimed that it was only targeting members of the group. But ten civilians were caught in the crossfire, sparking outrage among Palestinians in the region. Islamic Jihad says it launched more than a thousand rockets in response, some reaching as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Many Gaza residents took to the streets to celebrate the truce. But some worry that the violence will flare up again on Thursday, when Israeli nationalists are expected to hold their annual Jerusalem Day March. The event commemorates the day that Israel captured Jerusalem’s Old City in the 1960s and just two years ago the anniversary touched off an 11 day war between Israel and the militant group Hamas.
Juanita Tolliver: It’s been a busy couple of days for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has been crisscrossing Europe this weekend. On Friday, he met with Pope Francis at the Vatican, then sat down with Italy’s prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, before jetting off to Germany and France on Sunday to meet with the leaders of those countries. And while in Berlin, Zelensky reiterated that his country’s military is focusing on recapturing territory from Russian forces and is not planning on launching attacks on Russian soil. He was responding to a recent report from The Washington Post, which found that Ukraine may have been trying to hit Russian targets to force the Kremlin into peace negotiations. Those revelations were part of the trove of leaked documents that ended up on the messaging platform Discord, earlier this year. And staying with Ukraine, though Swedish singer Loreen ended up winning this year’s Eurovision. The spotlight this year was on the Ukrainian duo Tvorchi. Just moments before the electro pop duo took to the stage on Saturday, Ukrainian officials confirmed that the group’s home town was hit by Russian missiles. Call us cynics, but it sounds like Putin is a little jealous that Russia hasn’t been invited to the annual song contest since the invasion was launched last year.
[clip of Governor Roy Cooper] We now have a vetoed bill. [cheers and applause]
Tre’vell Anderson: You just heard North Carolina’s governor, Roy Cooper, publicly vetoing a 12 week abortion ban during a rally at the state’s capitol on Saturday. The veto, however, faces an override vote by the state’s GOP supermajority in both legislative chambers. You can thank Representative Tricia Cotham for that. When she switched her party affiliation from Democrat to Republican last month. So if North Carolina Republicans get enough votes and they likely will, they can override Cooper’s veto and push the abortion ban through anyway. If passed, the bill would ban abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, except in instances of rape and incest. It could also make abortion even less accessible for folks traveling to North Carolina from nearby states with even more restrictive abortion laws.
Juanita Tolliver: The show may not go on for the 76th Annual Tony Awards. It won’t be on television or stream this year. That’s because the Writers Guild of America, which represents striking Hollywood writers, denied a waiver from the show’s organizers that would have allowed the ceremony to air as scheduled on June 11th. The award ceremony is broadcast by CBS, which is one of the studios facing off against the union over a new contract. The producers of the Tonys will meet later today to weigh their options. The ceremony could continue as planned, but it wouldn’t be televised. Or they could postpone the entire event until the strike comes to an end. And that seems like a really easy choice. You know, support writers postpone it, plain and simple. It isn’t the first award show to feel the impact of the strike. The MTV Movie Awards was forced to do a scaled back pre-taped show earlier this month after the WGA announced plans to picket the awards show. And Drew Barrymore dropped out of hosting the show in solidarity with the Guild.
Tre’vell Anderson: Brittney Griner reunited with her Phoenix Mercury teammates on Friday and played in her first basketball game since her ten month detention in Russia last year. The seven time WNBA All-Star was seen stretching on the sidelines ahead of the Mercury’s preseason game against the Los Angeles Sparks and was greeted with a huge ovation from the Phoenix home crowd. Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said of the moment, quote, “Just to see her back out there, it’s an absolute miracle.”
Juanita Tolliver: Yup.
Tre’vell Anderson: Ten out of ten, completely agree. Absolutely wonderful to see her back at it. And for her first game back, Griner came out strong, scoring a turnaround jumper early in the first quarter, and she finished with ten points and three rebounds. Afterwards, she said that she felt a little rusty and wasn’t quite satisfied with her performance. But given what she’s had to go through this past year alone, it was a great night for her and her team. Griner will be back on the court next Friday when the team officially opens up the regular WNBA season in Los Angeles.
Juanita Tolliver: Look, this was truly a bright spot this weekend for me because every minute she played was just magical, like the fact that she’s doing something she loves again, even though she says she feels rusty, You’re going to get back to where you were BG, I promise. But I’m celebrating every minute you’re out on that court.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. You know, we covered her detention at length, right, on this show.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: So definitely amazing to see her back at the game that she loves so much. And those are the headlines. [music break] That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Brace yourself for Brittney Griner’s first dunk of the season and tell your friends to listen.
Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just think pieces about Eurovision 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 quit being petty Putin.
Juanita Tolliver: Now we know, we know this man [laughter] has no ability to not be petty. Come on. Look–
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen.
Juanita Tolliver: He literally invaded an entire country twice.
Tre’vell Anderson: Exactly.
Juanita Tolliver: Because this is so petty.
Tre’vell Anderson: Exactly. I don’t know. We just better chalk it up to the game and expect more pettiness to come unfortunately.
Juanita Tolliver: Ooh. He’s just truly incapable. What a monster.
Tre’vell Anderson: What a monster. [laughter] [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. Jocey Coffman is our head writer and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.