Morocco Races To Save Quake Victims | Crooked Media
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September 10, 2023
What A Day
Morocco Races To Save Quake Victims

In This Episode

  • A destructive 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck Morocco late Friday night and left 2,000 people dead and thousands injured. It’s the strongest to hit the country in over a century and rescue and recovery efforts have since been slow and tough.
  • It’s looking more and more likely that auto workers will go on strike starting this Friday. That’s unless United Auto Workers and the big three U.S. carmakers reach a deal by Thursday night.
  • And in headlines: the Lahaina fire is officially 100% contained one month after it began, a court ruled that the White House overstepped the First Amendment and coerced social media platforms, and 19-year-old Coco Gauff came out on top to win the U.S. Open.


Show Notes:


How to Help Quake Victims in Morocco


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Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Monday, September 11th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


Abdul El-Sayed: And I’m Abdul El-Sayed and this is What a Day. The podcast compatible with all usb-c cords, just like the new iPhone out this week.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Apple’s only doing it because of a law passed by the EU. 


Abdul El-Sayed: But we’re doing it because we love Y-O-U and because we know you got way, way too many cords. [laugh] [music break]


Josie Duffy Rice: On today’s show, Detroit auto workers are poised to strike within days. Plus, 19 year old Coco Gauff comes out on top to win the U.S. Open. 


Abdul El-Sayed: But first, an update on the deadly 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Morocco late Friday night. Over 2000 people are dead and thousands injured as of our recording at 9:30 Eastern Sunday night and the quake was the strongest to hit the country in over a century. Take a listen to this video recorded during the earthquake posted on TikTok by user “Abbie Pollard 1” [sound of rumbling and shaking and indistinct voices]


Josie Duffy Rice: Just nightmarish. Really hard to imagine experiencing something that devastating. Can you tell us a little bit more about the areas that suffered the most damage? 


Abdul El-Sayed: Yeah, it really is harrowing. The quake’s epicenter was in the mountain range over 40 miles southwest of the city of Marrakech. In Marrakech itself many of the modern buildings were still intact, but plenty of historic structures, including some dating back to the 12th century, were affected. But much of the destruction happened in the small towns near those mountains where the quake originated. Some were heavily damaged or just completely destroyed. For example, the BBC reports that one town, just ten miles from the epicenter was essentially no more. And nearly half of its 200 residents are dead, with dozens more still missing. Here’s BBC reporter Nick Beake. 


[clip of Nick Beake] Many people had no chance the way these buildings have been flattened. And if you look at the materials, these were not complex structures. And an earthquake of this magnitude meant that they simply came crumbling down. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I mean, like losing half your town in seconds. It’s just we keep saying it, but it’s just actually nightmarish. 


Abdul El-Sayed: You can’t even imagine it. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it’s been a few days since the quake happened now, what’s happening on like the recovery and rescue side, how is that effort going? What do we know about that? 


Abdul El-Sayed: As you can imagine, Josie, it’s been a slog. It’s been slow and tough. Some of the roads leading to those towns are damaged or blocked entirely by debris, making it hard for rescue workers. One local senator told Al Jazeera that the army’s help was necessary to get to those people in need. But time is of the essence. In total, the World Health Organization said that more than 300,000 people have been affected. So, unfortunately, that current death toll of over 2000 could grow as workers continue to dig under the rubble. But remember, the death toll is just the tip of the devastation. Thousands of survivors are now homeless. Some have taken to staying in tents while others have slept on rugs laid outside. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Gosh. 


Abdul El-Sayed: And the humanitarian crisis could get worse as time progresses. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Talk to us about the international community here, like what’s happening in terms of help coming from other countries. 


Abdul El-Sayed: A number of countries have sent or will be sending teams of rescue workers, including planes, medical equipment, food and more to Morocco. So far, the country’s accepted the help from Spain, Qatar, the UK and the UAE, and there are ways our listeners can help too. In our show notes, we’ll link to organizations you can donate to, like the Moroccan Red Crescent Society, which is among the many who’ve deployed workers and resources to help the quake’s victims. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I donated today, if you can give this is a great effort to give to, really necessary right now. And there’s a lot of loss. 


Abdul El-Sayed: That’s right, Josie. Our family did too. And I really hope that listeners out there will um will reach into their pockets and give some to folks who just had their lives ripped away from them. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Absolutely. Okay. Turning now to some union news. There might be another strike on the way, this time in Detroit. Despite public assurances from the White House, it’s looking more and more like autoworkers will be striking starting this Friday unless United Autoworkers, otherwise known as UAW and the big three U.S. carmakers reach a deal in the very, very near future. This would be a huge deal. The last time that UAW went on strike was in 2019, and that was just against General Motors right. So now the union is suggesting they might go on strike against GM, Ford and Stellantis, which would be a major move. 


Abdul El-Sayed: I can tell you, Josie, I was on the picket lines back in 2019 and the mood on the ground now is just significantly worse. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Oof. 


Abdul El-Sayed: And folks feel like they haven’t got their fair share in a long time. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Wow. 


Abdul El-Sayed: So can you tell us a bit more about specifically what the union’s asking for? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So a major part of the ask is a salary increase. 46% over four years is the ask. They also want to restore traditional pensions. They want to institute a 32 hour workweek for the same pay. I’ve seen these proposals called audacious, even by the man leading the charge, UAW President Shawn Fain. But as Fain and others have pointed out, the bigwigs at corporate are profiting majorly from these workers. Their profits are pretty audacious. The Big Three automakers have made $21 billion dollars in profit in just the first half of this year. Here’s what Fain said in a live stream last Friday. 


[clip of Shawn Fain] The Big three have profited a quarter of a trillion dollars in North America in the last decade. Their CEOs have made hundreds of millions of dollars personally. They jack up car prices. They shortchange the workers. They take whatever they can get from the U.S. taxpayer. And they pocket the profit for themselves and their Wall Street cronies. For years the big three have gotten away with this. They’ve been the leading edge of corporate greed. 


Josie Duffy Rice: That about says it. 


Abdul El-Sayed: That does about say it. Imagine making $40 billion dollars in a year and being upset because the people who actually make your cars want some of that? 


Josie Duffy Rice: And willing to lose out a big chunk because you refuse to compromise. It’s just ridiculous. 


Abdul El-Sayed: Yeah, I know there’s been some back and forth on whether they’ll strike against all three automakers or just choose one. What’s it looking like now? 


Josie Duffy Rice: That part is still kind of unclear, though Fain has definitely implied that a strike against all three is absolutely not off the table. Basically, a strike against all three would obviously up the ante here, like it would increase the pressure on the companies to come to an agreement. It would increase the pressure on the government to pressure the companies to come to an agreement. But as much as it would increase the pressure, it would also deplete the union strike fund in under three months. So the companies would have this incentive to kind of just wait it out, even though it would be costing them a billion dollars a month. After three months, they would know they kind of had it in the bag. Right. It’s important to say, like the union isn’t the only one vulnerable here. Automakers don’t have a ton of vehicles just lying around. They couldn’t really withstand a long strike. And as people have pointed out, there are all these new electric vehicles that are supposed to be coming out in the near future. And the strike would set that timeline back. And they really, really don’t want that. So they’re also very interested in avoiding this. 


Abdul El-Sayed: Yeah, I would say that what they’ve got on the table is probably just worth making sure that workers get a piece of what they’re due. You mentioned the White House and they said publicly they think that there’ll be an agreement. Any word on what they’re saying privately? 


Josie Duffy Rice: According to Politico, White House officials, including Biden, are absolutely aware that a strike is likely to happen. They’ve been actually in the background encouraging an agreement all summer. Having a particular official be involved in the talks and really pushing for the workers and the big three to come to an agreement before a strike happens. Whether or not that will work is to be determined. For what it’s worth, UAW is a little miffed with Biden, apparently, who has pushed for manufacturing that counters climate change and encourages clean energy and has obviously put a lot of money into helping create those jobs. But UAW doesn’t feel like workers have really been considered in these policies. Right. And these grants and this dispersal of federal money so Fain has actually refused to endorse Biden’s campaign for reelection, saying that the administration should be asking for higher pay and better labor standards when they hand out corporate subsidies for these projects. 


Abdul El-Sayed: Yeah, I know one of the big frustrations that a lot of these projects have gone to nonunion shops. So where does this leave us now? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Well, now we wait. As of last Friday, it wasn’t looking like an agreement was imminent. UAW rejected counterproposals from automakers who offered increases from 9 to 14% over four years, which is like a quarter of what UAW asked for. Right. Fain even threw these proposals in the trash on a livestream. 


[clip of Shawn Fain] If we hit 11:59 p.m. on Thursday without a deal at any of the Big three automakers, there will be a strike at all three if need be. 


Josie Duffy Rice: He’s not playing around. So we will continue to follow this story. That is the latest for now. We will be back after some ads. [music break]. 




Abdul El-Sayed: Now let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Abdul El-Sayed: The G-20 summit wrapped up in host country, India, over the weekend. The annual summit is a way for the leaders of the top world economies to be together in one room and discuss everything from climate deals to food security to public health. They welcomed the African Union to the group for the first time since South Africa had been the continent’s only member state prior to Saturday. But tensions were high before and during this year’s summit, especially because of the G-20’s leaders sharp differences on the Russia Ukraine war. Russia is a prominent member of the G20, and this year the group’s condemnation of the Ukraine invasion was notably soft compared to last year’s summit. And with major fossil fuel producers around the table, including Saudi Arabia, Russia and Australia, there was no tangible commitment to phasing out coal and polluting fuels. Still, the U.S. has been looking to strengthen ties with India, despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party’s dubious ethno nationalism. And the summit was a big step in that direction. In one of the more significant announcements from the weekend, President Biden helped unveil the launch of a new economic corridor that will link India with the Middle East and Europe through a network of rail and shipping infrastructure. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Some updates on the West Maui wildfires. The Maui Fire Department said last week that the Lahaina fire is officially 100% contained one month after it began. But locals continue to deal with the damage, and fires elsewhere have yet to be contained too. Around 10,000 customers in Lahaina and Kula are still without clean water. Officials from the Maui Water Supply have advised residents in both areas to refrain from drinking from their tap, but added that about 85% of Kula residents should have clean water in about a week. That’s a long time to go without water. Meanwhile, Hawaii Governor Josh Green said on Friday that officials plan to reopen most of West Maui to tourists in less than one month. This comes after Green’s administration encouraged tourists to visit other parts of the island to support the state’s economy while West Maui recovers. You’ll remember that the islands are expected to lose nearly $2 billion dollars in revenue due to how much damage the fires caused. Lahaina town would still be off limits to visitors moving forward. But some were shocked to hear that tourists would be welcome back to West Maui so soon, amid recovery efforts that will likely take years to complete. This all comes amid mounting discourse about Hawaiian tourism and its impact on the livelihoods of locals and native Hawaiians, according to Green, tourists can visit West Maui starting as soon as October 8th. 


Abdul El-Sayed: Imagine not having water and then hearing that a bunch of tourists are going to come visit your community in less than a month. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, exactly. 


Abdul El-Sayed: The Biden administration suffered a loss in court on Friday. A federal appeals court said that it likely overstepped the First Amendment when it asked social media platforms to remove what it considered false or harmful content about the COVID 19 pandemic and other topics. In its ruling, the three judge panel, all Republican nominees, by the way, wrote that the White House and the Office of the Surgeon General had, quote, “coerced social media platforms” to take down content through, quote, “intimidating messages and threats of adverse consequences.” Friday’s ruling specifically restricts the White House, the surgeon general, the CDC and the FBI from communicating with social media companies directly. The White House said the Department of Justice is reviewing the court’s decision and defended its actions, saying, quote, “This administration has promoted responsible actions to protect public health, safety and security when confronted by challenges like a deadly pandemic and foreign attacks on our elections.” Now, the Biden administration has ten days to seek intervention from the Supreme Court. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And Texas is truly getting too hot to handle. Those are the federal government’s words, not mine. The U.S. Energy Department declared a statewide emergency order last week over concerns for Texas’ power amid record high temperatures. The Texas grid is grappling with a surge in demand as residents are using all the AC that they can to stay cool. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees electricity, serving 90% of the state’s customers, filed for the emergency order on Wednesday, and it was approved the next day. This order could now allow Texas power plants to surpass pollution limits to meet the demand for electricity. That sounds great. This comes as Dallas hit 107 degrees last Thursday, which marked the fifth consecutive day of triple digit temperatures. And it also shattered a new all time record since temps reached 104 back in 2012. The council warned residents that power outages may become necessary if they can’t supply additional resources or the power demand is not lowered. 


Abdul El-Sayed: Well, the good news is that Ted Cruz is not using any of that because he’s probably in Cancun. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s true. The other good news is that climate change is a hoax. So is this even really happening? 


Abdul El-Sayed: I don’t know. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Apparently not. 


Abdul El-Sayed: I don’t know. Probably not. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Who knows? You know. 


Abdul El-Sayed: And finally, let’s wrap up with some news from the world of sports. First, Luis Rubiales, the head of the Spanish Soccer Federation, officially resigned from his position yesterday. This, of course, comes after he kissed women’s World Cup winner Jenni Hermoso on the lips without her consent last month, and after Hermoso filed a sexual assault complaint against him just last week. In a statement posted yesterday on X, formerly Twitter, Rubiales said that he had submitted his resignation and wrote, quote, “After the rapid suspension carried out by FIFA plus the rest of proceedings opened against me, it is evident that I will not be able to return to my position.” 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Abdul El-Sayed: Yeah dude. That has more to do with what you chose to do. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Feels like we’re blaming the wrong thing there. 


Abdul El-Sayed: In much better news, over in the world of tennis, Coco Gauff took home her first major title win over the weekend. [sound of crowd erupting in cheers and applause and indistinct talking] That’s the sound of the crowd erupting when she won the U.S. Open women’s single title on Saturday after defeating Aryna Sabalenka. And at 19, Gauff is the youngest American to win the U.S. Open since Serena Williams won back in 1999. Take a listen to what she had to say after her win. 


[clip of Coco Gauff] Honestly, thank you to the people who didn’t believe in me. Um. I mean. [pause] Like a month ago I won a 500 title and people said I would stop at that. Uh. Two weeks ago, I won a 1000 title and people were saying that was the biggest it was going to get. Um. So three weeks later, I’m here with this trophy right now. Um. So the– [crowd cheering]


Abdul El-Sayed: And if you haven’t seen the clips of a 12 year old Gauff dancing at the U.S. Open seven years ago, please do that. It’ll melt your heart. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it’s very cute. 


Abdul El-Sayed: And those are the headlines. 




Abdul El-Sayed: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. You go Coco and tell your friends to listen. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just unions flexing their strength like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


Abdul El-Sayed: And I’m Abdul El-Sayed.


Josie Duffy Rice: And Usb-c you later lightning cables. 


Abdul El-Sayed: I’ve been so hooked into the whatever the weird iPhone cable is for so long, I feel like I’m about to throw away a whole bunch of cables. 


Josie Duffy Rice: No! [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 senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. [music break]