Putting Alabama On The Map | Crooked Media
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October 05, 2023
What A Day
Putting Alabama On The Map

In This Episode

  • Federal judges chose a new congressional map for Alabama on Thursday, after a major, two year legal fight. The final, court-approved map gives Black Alabamians more political power, and could also give Democrats an edge in 2024.
  • Talks between SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP resume today, after negotiations to end the Hollywood actor’s strike restarted earlier this week. It’s not clear if they’re close to a deal, but the use of artificial intelligence may be a major sticking point.
  • And in headlines: the Biden administration has cleared the way to allow more border wall construction in Texas, Canadian voters elected a First Nations member to lead the province of Manitoba, and the CDC is phasing out its paper COVID vaccine cards.


Show Notes:


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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, October 6th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice and this is What a Day where we are totally 100% not mad about being snubbed for this year’s MacArthur Genius grants again. 


Tre’vell Anderson: There’s always next year Josie, keep hope alive, keep hope alive. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I’ve got to be honest, I don’t think next year is my year. I’m going to go on a five year timeline. Okay. [laughter] [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, the Biden administration has cleared the way to allow more border wall construction in Texas. Plus, the CDC is phasing out paper COVID vaccine cards. 


Josie Duffy Rice: But first, federal judges chose a new congressional map for Alabama on Thursday after years of the state legislature drawing districts in ways that disenfranchise Black voters. The decision comes after two years of a major legal fight, one that involved the Supreme Court two separate times, in fact. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, I remember this story and the absurdity around it. And you know it’s bad if even this Supreme Court that we have says that you’ve gone too far. For the folks who might not remember. Can you give us a little background on the case? 


Josie Duffy Rice: So basically, in 2021, when Alabama state legislators did their once a decade redrawing of congressional districts, only one of the seven seats in the state was in a majority Black district. That was the case despite the fact that Alabama is 27% Black. I feel like most people don’t really realize this sometimes, but most Black people in America live in the South. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Alabama has a massive Black population more than almost any other state. And to have just one district being majority Black was pretty crazy. The map was drawn by an overwhelmingly Republican state legislature, and it left Black voters who are also obviously more likely to vote Democratic disenfranchised. And so a lawsuit was brought against the state. It went all the way to the Supreme Court. And like you said, shockingly, the court ruled in June that the state had impermissibly disenfranchised Black voters, that they had violated the Voting Rights Act. It was a 5-4 decision. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh sided with the three liberal justices. And it’s worth noting, like Roberts is a long time hater of the Voting Rights Act, like since law school basically has really tried to narrow the Voting Rights Act, has really tried to gut it. And so if he even thought this map was too bad, that’s a bad map. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: So after that ruling, state lawmakers were supposed to draw a new map. And they did. And yet they did not create any more majority Black districts. Instead, they made one district a little more Black instead of 30% Black, it was now 40% Black. They were like, we did our job. I guess they thought they would get away with it. And a three judge panel and federal appellate court said absolutely not. They stated in their decision that they were, quote, disturbed by the legislature’s defiance and noted the legislature’s failure to, quote, “even nurture the ambition to follow the Supreme Court’s decision.” I love that phrasing. Even nurture the ambition. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, they were like, you didn’t even try. 


Josie Duffy Rice: You put no effort into this. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. So did it go back to the Supreme Court again after that? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Well the state legislature appealed to the Supreme Court again. They were clearly hoping that the conservative majority would again take the case and that they would sort of like wink, wink and nod, nod and give them a pass for trying, even though once again, they did not try. We cannot emphasize that enough. But um the Supreme Court did not take the case. They rejected the attempt to appeal. And so as a result, the appellate courts ruling is what stands. And this time, the appellate court didn’t even give the state a chance to draw their own districts. Instead, they basically appointed a special master to draw a new map. They are like, you guys cannot be trusted to do this because we told you all to do it and you said you would and you didn’t. So– 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. 


Josie Duffy Rice: You’ve lost map drawing privileges. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Right. So what does the map look like now? And what will it mean for voters as we get ready for this election coming up? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Funny enough, there still isn’t a second majority Black district in Alabama. There is a district that’s about 49% Black now, but we’re still at just one majority Black district. However, this second district is where Black voters’ likely preferred candidate is projected to win. So they’re not a majority, but they’re expected to be in the majority for the vote. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: At the end of the day like that matters for the bottom line. And it doesn’t just matter for Alabama, it matters for the nation, because as we know, the Republicans have a pretty narrow majority in the House. And this map means one more seat that will likely go to Democrats and one less that will likely go to Republicans. Right. So we’ll see next year, because this map, as you said, will be used in the 2024 upcoming election. And we will be able to tell kind of the real impact that it has on the national landscape of partisan politics. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. Thank you for that, Josie. Now on to a quick update on the actors strike in Hollywood. SAG-AFTRA, the union representing all of your favorite actors and perhaps some of your not favorite ones, too, are still at the bargaining table with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or AMPTP. Talks are proceeding today and both sides have already set time to meet on Monday. They released a joint statement saying that the two groups would each be, quote, “working internally over the weekend.” So, you know, we can only hope that legitimate progress is being made and that we’ll see an end to the strike very soon. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, this is really exciting news, especially because these groups have not actually met in months, if I remember correctly. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Prior to the restart of negotiations, which happened earlier this week, SAG and the AMPTP, they hadn’t met since the actors started striking back in July. And while we don’t know what came out of those conversations this week yet, we do know that artificial intelligence is definitely a major sticking point. And coincidentally, SAG’s national executive director, Duncan Crabtree Ireland actually spoke during a hearing before the Federal Trade Commission about this very issue on Wednesday. Like he literally left the FTC hearing early to return to the bargaining table with the studio. So, you know, he means business. And in his testimony, he basically said three things were important here consent, credit, and compensation. And he shared this example that I think is really interesting and really kind of, you know, illustrates the situation at hand. He said, quote, “If an individual decided to infringe on one of these companies copyright protected content and distributed it without paying for the licensing rights, that individual would face a great deal of financial and legal ramifications. So why is the reverse not true? Shouldn’t the individuals whose intellectual property was used to train the A.I. algorithm at least be equally protected?” 


Josie Duffy Rice: This is like not just an acting thing, right? This is a thing for kind of any work that feeds AI. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Like all of AI is built off of work that humans have done. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And the fact that the work is used to build this thing that then may make it impossible for people to work and there is no kind of compensation about that is so crazy. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, it’s really kind of absurd. And I think we can use this example in particular to really forecast what SAG is likely bargaining for, especially because in the absence of governmental regulations on some of these AI tools, it’s the unions that have had to be thinking about these things for their members. We know that AI was a sticking point in the WGA negotiations, and you can imagine how the gains that they made in their agreement with the AMPTP are a great foundation to build upon. But with actors, we’re not just talking about their words, right? Major stars rightfully fear that they may lose control of their very expensive likenesses. And then you have the lesser known actors who think that they could easily be replaced altogether with digital actors. Not to mention, did you know that they are out here recreating the voices of dead folks like Anthony Bourdain and Andy Warhol to use in documentaries? 


Josie Duffy Rice: I hate this so much. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Why? We don’t have to do things just because we can do things. We just can let no pun intended, sleeping dogs lie. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m right there with you but this is what’s happening, right? And so for good reason. The actors are rightfully concerned. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. Absolutely. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Now, I have some other thoughts about all of these celebrities who are currently doing the latest trend on social media, the A.I. yearbook, where Keke Palmer or Hoda Kotb are uploading photos of themselves and this app, you know, spits back out these throwback Thursday yearbook photos. I don’t know, feels like maybe they shouldn’t be doing that. But you know, what do I know? 


Josie Duffy Rice: In general, don’t upload things that just say that we’re going to manipulate your likeness and spit it back at you. You know?


Tre’vell Anderson: It’s just not great right now. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It is not good.


Tre’vell Anderson: It’s not at all. But that is the latest for now. We will be back after some ads. [music break]. 




Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Tre’vell Anderson: A quick heads up. This first story deals with allegations of sexual assault. So feel free to skip ahead here if you need to. George Tyndall, the former campus gynecologist accused of sexually abusing female patients at the University of Southern California, was found dead at his home in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Tyndall, who worked at the university for more than three decades, was awaiting a criminal trial set to begin next year for 27 felony counts of sexual misconduct that allegedly took place between 2009 and 2016. The Los Angeles Times first broke the story of Tyndall’s predatory behavior in an explosive 2018 investigation, which uncovered disturbing allegations of abuse from both students and USC medical staff dating back to the nineties. Hundreds of women eventually came forward, but many of their accounts fell outside of the ten year statute of limitations or didn’t have enough evidence to move forward with a legal case. USC ultimately agreed to pay out more than $1 billion dollars in three separate settlements with hundreds of his alleged victims. Tyndall surrendered his medical license in 2019 and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him that same year and had been free on bond ever since. 


Josie Duffy Rice: In a major policy reversal, the Biden administration will waive more than 20 federal laws and regulations to resume border wall construction along the southern border and Texas. The Department of Homeland Security posted this announcement early Thursday morning, saying the waiver will suspend the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, among other laws to allow building to continue along the 17 mile stretch. The DHS notice cited the large numbers of migrants coming into the Rio Grande Valley and noted that money for the construction will come from funds appropriated by Congress in 2019. You may remember that President Biden campaigned against building the wall. And here’s what he had to say yesterday when he spoke to reporters in the Oval Office. 


[clip of President Joe Biden] Border wall money was appropriated for the border wall. I tried to get them to reappropriate to redirect that money. They didn’t, they wouldn’t. And in the meantime, there’s nothing under the law other then they have to use the money for what is appropriate. I can’t stop that. 


[clip of unspecified news reporter] Do you believe the border wall works? 


[clip of President Joe Biden] No. 


Josie Duffy Rice: In case you couldn’t hear that last part, a reporter asked the president if he thinks the border wall works, and he said no. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And yet here we are. 


Josie Duffy Rice: So that’s a puzzle. I love to suspend the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act for things that don’t work. That seems great and perfect to me. Anyway in other immigration news, the Biden administration also said yesterday it will restart direct deportation flights for Venezuelan migrants who cross the US-Mexico border unlawfully and don’t have a legal basis to stay in the U.S.. It’s not clear when those deportation flights will begin. But just last month, the administration granted temporary protected status for hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who arrived in the U.S. by the end of July. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I need Biden to pick a side. That’s all I’m going to say. 


Josie Duffy Rice: This is a wild decision. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Elsewhere in North America. 


[clip of Wab Kinew] My dear, sweet Manitoba, look at what we have done here tonight. [sound of cheering]


Tre’vell Anderson: For the first time ever, Canada has elected a First Nations member as a provincial premier, the equivalent of a state governor here in the U.S. Wab Kinew, who is set to lead Manitoba, secured his seat in elections held earlier this week. The 41 year old progressive who was a rapper, broadcast journalist and university administrator before entering politics, also struggled with addiction. He touched on that in his victory speech, which he dedicated to Canada’s Indigenous youth. 


[clip of Wab Kinew] I was given a second chance in life [roar of cheers and applause] and I would like to think that I’ve made good on that opportunity and you can do the same. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Manitoba is home to many prominent indigenous Canadians, though Kinew will be the first person of Indigenous heritage to lead the province in 145 years. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And finally, it’s time to bid farewell to paper COVID 19 vaccination cards, or at least frame them as a memento of a time that many of us would much rather forget. That’s because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will no longer give out the cards since COVID vaccines are no longer distributed by the federal government. The once ubiquitous white cards, depending on where you are, some places they were less ubiquitous, were handed out to folks after their first shot. And you may have been one of the millions of people around the world who proudly took a selfie with yours. Let’s not forget that not too distant past, where depending on where you were, you needed to show your card to get inside restaurants and bars and concert venues and weddings. And, I don’t know, maybe your mom’s house. I don’t know. People were really asking to see those cards about the time that lockdown restrictions started to ease. According to reporting by the Associated Press, more than 980 million vaccine cards were shipped by the federal government between late 2020 through May 10th of this year. Moving forward if you want to access your COVID 19 immunization records, you’ll now need to request them from wherever you received your shots or through your state’s immunization information system. In the meantime, if you haven’t lost your old card yet, it’s still a good idea to hang on to it, even just for old time’s sake. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, I think everyone should keep your vaccination cards, will treat them like mementos. You know, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen, like, your parents or your grandparents like birth certificate, but it looks very different than ours. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And it’ll be a nice little memento to be like oh, remember when? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. If you think I’m throwing away that card, you’ve lost it. Keep it. You never know what you might need one day. 


Tre’vell Anderson: You never know. And those are the headlines. 




Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Go ahead and laminate your COVID vaccine card and tell your friends to listen. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just congressional maps of Southern states like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter. So check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


[spoken together] And give us a chance MacArthur Foundation. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, we’re doing very important work here for the WAD Squad that can only be described as genius. So like, come on now. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Absolutely. [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: What a Day is the production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanila. 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.