In This Episode
- Leaders of the 31 NATO nations gathered in Vilnius, Lithuania on Tuesday for the first day of the annual summit to discuss potentially admitting Ukraine and Sweden into the alliance. NATO leaders said they will invite Ukraine to join their alliance when “conditions are met,” and Turkey cleared the way for Sweden to join NATO.
- SAG-AFTRA members could be joining Hollywood writers on the picket lines as soon as Thursday if they fail to reach an agreement with AMPTP by Wednesday at midnight. If a deal is not reached, it would mark the first time both actors and writers are striking in 63 years.
- And in headlines: Donald Trump’s lawyers requested an indefinite delay in his classified documents case, workers at Sega’s North American branch voted to unionize, and Britney Spears’ tell-all memoir is coming to a bookstore near you this fall.
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, July 12th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson and this is What A Day where we hate to give you this cursed update, but Mark Zuckerberg is now training with two UFC champions in preparation for his cage match with Elon Musk.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m glad these two are taking it as seriously as I am taking it because if this shit doesn’t happen, we will be disappointed.
Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] I want a co-live stream on Twitter and Facebook.
Priyanka Aribindi: Facebook Live it please. [laughter] [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, Donald Trump’s lawyers are asking for an indefinite delay in his classified documents case. Plus, Britney Spears’s tell all memoir is coming to a bookstore near you this fall.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, the leaders of the 31 NATO nations gathered in Vilnius, Lithuania, yesterday for the first day of the NATO summit.
Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. So there is a lot going on in the world. What exactly was on their agenda this year?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, so obviously, Ukraine is very much top of mind for everybody. Russia’s invasion continues and the NATO allies are expected to discuss how to support Ukraine through this conflict, how to bring them closer to NATO without fully having them join and how to make sure they have the security support they need both during the fighting and hopefully afterwards to ensure that Russia can’t do something like this ever again. At this point, Ukraine has made it clear that they really want to be a part of NATO, they have since 2019. So it’s not like a brand new development just because they are in the middle of this invasion. And NATO leaders actually issued a joint statement yesterday saying that they will invite Ukraine to formally join their alliance. But the details on when and what conditions Ukraine has to meet before they can do that are not fully fleshed out yet, or at least not for all of us.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. Okay. So let’s talk a bit more about this vague timeline. I know that President Biden’s stance has been that Ukraine isn’t ready to join NATO yet, but why is that?
Priyanka Aribindi: One of the biggest parts of this alliance is the promise of collective defense. So if Ukraine joined NATO right now, as this war is ongoing, every single member of NATO would be obligated to fight against Russia, to support Ukraine. That is what being a part of this alliance means. That is not what a lot of people want to happen here, especially not Biden, not trying to have America on the ground fighting Russia in a war. That is bad. No one wants that. [laugh] Aside from that, there have also been some hang ups on whether or not Ukraine meets NATO’s standards for democracy and a few other things. But according to the joint statement, there will be regular reviews of Ukraine’s progress on meeting those standards. You know, up until the point where they do get this formal invitation. That being the goal. Despite these efforts, though, Ukraine is not satisfied with the uncertainty of this timeline. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky originally called it absurd, but yesterday evening he had dinner with NATO leaders. Today, he’s scheduled to meet with Biden and attend the first meeting of NATO’s Ukraine Council, which is a new group that aims to give Ukraine a voice right alongside member states of the alliance. So definitely getting a good amount of time to voice Ukraine’s needs, a good amount of face time, even though there’s no official invitation to become a part of NATO just yet.
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, you know, it sounds like he’s got the best situation possible because. Right. Nobody we don’t need to be involved in no kind of war. Okay. Not directly. Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: And so it feels like this agreement, this kind of set up, is the best–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: –possible option right now.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. You could see why he would want more. I understand it from his perspective, but I think for everyone else, this is probably the best that’s going to happen.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. So there was also the news late on Monday about Sweden joining NATO. Can you explain what happened there?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So for more than a year, if you remember us talking about it on the show, Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan had blocked Sweden from joining NATO. Among other things, he claimed that Sweden harbored people with ties to groups that Turkey considers terrorist organizations, that they’ve been complicit in Islamophobic demonstrations. There’s a bunch of complaints that he has had against Sweden. But on Monday evening, it came out that Turkey has now agreed to back Sweden’s bid to join NATO. That’s a big change of heart, according to NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg. The two countries work together very closely to address Turkey’s concerns. Of course, this is another country joining the alliance, bringing them up to 32 countries in total. But it’s an especially strategic addition. Sweden, along with Finland, which joined NATO earlier this year, is positioned right along the Baltic Sea, which also borders Russia, offering NATO more proximity and access to this area right next to Russia. Sweden also brings their military resources into the alliance, including hundreds of planes and tanks in addition to, you know, tens of thousands of soldiers, troops on the ground. Not a great day to be Russia with more and more countries allying against what you are trying to do. This doesn’t mean that Sweden will be immediately joining NATO though, Turkey and Hungary still have to vote to approve their membership. The timeline isn’t 100% clear yet. We will be keeping track of this story, obviously, keep you updated on any new developments.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Now on to some domestic news out of Tinseltown. As we all know, the writers behind everything you watch on TV or at the movie theater are on strike. The members of the Writers Guild of America and their supporters have been picketing every major Hollywood studio for almost three months now. Literally every weekday, they are outside the gates of Disney and Warner Brothers and Fox and Netflix and Amazon and everybody else demanding better wages and job security. And it seems like there is no end in sight for them. Well, fairly soon, as early as Thursday, SAG-AFTRA, which represents all your favorite actors, might be going on strike, too. That’s because today, or rather, 11:59 p.m. Pacific tonight is the deadline for the Union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or AMPTP to come to an agreement on terms for their next contract. At the time we went to record Tuesday evening, it was not clear if a deal would be made despite reported progress over the weekend.
Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. All right. So what are the actors calling for in their negotiations?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So interestingly enough, their demands are very similar to the writers, which is why you’ve seen many actors joining picket lines in solidarity. They want higher wages, increased residual payments and significant guardrails regarding the use of artificial intelligence in the industry. Now, I know there’s a lot of people out there who think that actors make a lot of money, but that’s not quite the case. Sure. Your Meryl Streep’s your Leonardo DiCaprio’s your your big name folks. Right. Are likely making cute coins, But there’s a whole lot more folks who don’t make the billing poster who are robbing Peter to pay Paul as my grandmother used to say, even though they may be working rather consistently. Specifically on the residuals point. I want to play a quick clip from actress Brandee Evans, who some of y’all might know if you watch the show P-Valley. She plays Mercedes on that very wonderful show. A couple months ago, she took to TikTok to share the amounts of three SAG checks that she had received. Take a listen.
[clip of Brandee Evans] What’s up, y’all? So I just walked in the house, ain’t even taken off my bag yet because I was like, are those three SAG-AFTRA checks on my table? Let me open them up. It’s my birthday week, my birthday Friday. So I was like, perfect timing. Let me show you all what they got me okay? That’s the first check. That’s the second check. And that’s the third check. And that’s why we going to strike.
Tre’vell Anderson: Now, what you listeners can’t see is that the first check was for $3.99. The second check was for $4.67. And the third check was for just $0.01, literally a penny.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. You really need to see it to believe it. I was thinking, you know, sure, they’re not Leonardo DiCaprio, they’re not Meryl Streep. But like, surely actors are making some money like this in total is not even $10. Like, this is crazy. Anyone would be furious if you showed up to work. And that is what you got paid.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: So it’s very understandable that that really puts it into simple terms for all of us.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And so many other actors have also, you know, shared, you know, similar stories, similar experiences. It’s really widespread. And Brandee, she had posted that video shortly before the strike authorization vote by SAG-AFTRA members. And once votes were counted, 98% of members voted in favor of striking if a deal isn’t reached. Now, in anticipation of that possibility, the Guild has already laid out some rules that the actors would be expected to follow. For example, along with stepping away from all film and television productions worldwide, actors will not be permitted to take part in promotional work of any kind, which includes press junkets, film premieres and fan events like San Diego Comic-Con, which is supposed to happen next week, according to reporting from The Wrap. And actors can’t even promote any of the work they’ve done on social media.
Priyanka Aribindi: Sounds extreme, but sounds effective. Like sounds like they really mean business and care about what they’re striking for. But I mean, there is a chance that both the writers and the actors could be on strike at the same time. That seems like a difficult position for Hollywood to be in. What kind of impact could that have?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, well, if the actors do indeed go on strike, it would be the first time in 63 years that both groups are out at the same time over a contract dispute. But we’ve already seen an 80% shut down in Hollywood, just over the writers strike. If the actors go, it’s giving absolute standstill. And that would have an even worse impact on the local economies of cities where there’s a lot of filming that typically takes place, like in L.A., like in Atlanta, like in New York City. And also, one of the important points I think it is important to mention is, you know, in these cities, right, there’s a whole ecosystem, right, of folks that are impacted when the writers aren’t working or when the actors aren’t working. You know.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Tre’vell Anderson: Coffee shops have been reported doing lower business as a result of these types of things. Restaurants that rely on, you know, people who work at these studios, actors who work on productions, right um to come to their places during their lunch breaks and whatnot. So many entities have already been affected. And so if the actors also go on strike is not going to be cute for a lot of these cities.
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, we’re cutting it very close to the deadline here, but is there any chance that an actor strike can be avoided or is that just pretty much where we’re heading at this point?
Tre’vell Anderson: Well, there’s always that possibility, and I’m sure that’s what folks would prefer, considering the impact of having some, you know, 160,000 SAG members joining the already 11,000 writers on the picket line.
Priyanka Aribindi: Wow.
Tre’vell Anderson: That’s a lot of people.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: They don’t want that, I would imagine. But after the parties negotiated all weekend, it remained unclear whether they were any closer to a resolution. And it’s now being reported that the union and the major studios may be bringing in a federal mediator to settle the contract at the 11th hour. So we will just have to wait and see. As always, we will keep you posted on the important developments here. But that is the latest for now. We’re going to go pay some bills and be right back. [music break].
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: Donald Trump’s lawyers are asking for an indefinite delay in his classified documents case. The court filing submitted late Monday comes after prosecutors working for the special counsel requested a trial date of December 11th just last month. Now, both sides are waiting on U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee who has a history of being sympathetic to the former president to set the case date. In the lawyers filing on Monday, Trump and his team argued, quote, “The government’s request to bring a trial of this magnitude within six months of indictment is unreasonable, telling, and would result in a miscarriage of justice.” Um. I don’t think any part of that is true, but all right. And as if this situation wasn’t unprecedented enough, pushing the case date could also cause even more complication. For example, if the trial is pushed back until after the presidential election and Trump, God forbid, wins the thing, he could try to pardon himself after taking office or have his attorney general dismiss the matter altogether, which would be hugely problematic. As a reminder, Trump is being charged with 37 felony counts that accuse him of illegally storing classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and trying to hide them from the Justice Department as investigators demanded them back. Absolutely no one should be okay with this. So uh continues to baffle us that he has supporters.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. A federal judge yesterday ruled against the Federal Trade Commission’s attempt to block Microsoft from its more than $70 billion dollar acquisition of video game company Activision Blizzard. The FTC argued that an injunction temporarily blocking the deal was necessary to protect consumers and keep open competition, especially since this merger would allow Microsoft to acquire popular franchises such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Candy Crush. This ruling is a huge setback to the Biden administration’s push to scrutinize big tech mergers, which it has struggled to do so far. But the merger is not totally in the clear yet because the FTC can still bring the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Earlier this year, the FTC dropped its case against Meta’s proposed acquisition of Virtual Reality Startup Within Limited. So it’s not out of the question that the FTC would drop this case, either allowing Microsoft to move forward with the deal as soon as this month.
Priyanka Aribindi: For the first time in 150 years. The U.S. Marine Corps is operating without a Senate confirmed commandant. All because of one senator’s ridiculous protest. Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama has refused to confirm officer positions since the start of this year, blaming his disapproval of the Pentagon’s decision last year to support service members and their families who travel out of state to receive an abortion. The commandant position, which is the highest ranking officer in the branch, opened up Monday when General David Berger retired after 42 years in the Marine Corps. The current assistant commandant has been nominated to replace Berger, but Tuberville’s temper tantrum is delaying his Senate confirmation. And you might have seen this Alabama senator’s name in headlines this week for yet another reason. That is because of comments he made on CNN tonight on Monday, where he doubled down on remarks he previously made in which he appeared to defend white nationalists joining the military. In a back and forth with host Kaitlan Collins, who said that white nationalists are racist by definition. Tuberville replied by saying, quote, “Well, that’s some people’s opinion.”.
Tre’vell Anderson: Hmm.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh. Following backlash that uh very quickly ensued.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Tuberville spoke to reporters yesterday and finally called white nationalists what they are, racist. No one should give him a pat on the back um for that.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. Workers at Sega’s North American branch voted to unionize Monday, creating the largest multi departmental video game union in the country. The Allied Employees Guild Improving SEGA or AEGIS represents workers at the video game company’s California offices in Irvine and Burbank. And Monday’s vote is a huge win for workers who have been organizing for over a year to form a collective bargaining unit at the company behind everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog Sonic. AEGIS is the fifth video game union in the U.S. overall, following suit with workers who have unionized at giants like Microsoft’s Zenimax, the company behind the popular Elder Scrolls and Doom franchises. The union will represent departments beyond just game development, from marketing to sales to quality assurance teams and more. And this is just the latest example of video game workers organizing for better working conditions in an industry that is notorious for underpaying and overworking its staff, often to the point of burnout. SEGA quality assurance worker and union organizer Mohammad Saman said in a press release when the unionization efforts were first announced, quote, “Working for SEGA is a passion for many of us, and it’s been so exciting to see that through organizing, we can make this work a sustainable, long term career.”
Priyanka Aribindi: That is very exciting. Congratulations to everyone at SEGA. This is great it’s great news. And finally, some news from the juicy world of celebrity gossip. Pop icon Britney Spears announced on Tuesday that her forthcoming tell all memoir, The Woman in Me, is officially coming to a bookstore near you this fall. The singer revealed the release date and cover art for the book yesterday in an exclusive interview with People magazine. And the memoir has been highly anticipated ever since Spears announced the project early last year when she signed a $15 million dollar contract with Simon & Schuster to write it. This comes after the pop star was freed from her 13 year long conservatorship in 2021, when a Los Angeles judge terminated the agreement. According to a press release, Spears’ memoir, quote, “illuminates the enduring power of music and love and the importance of a woman telling her own story on her own terms.” The Woman in Me drops on October 24th wherever you get your books. And as the legend herself once said, “You better work, bitch.”
Tre’vell Anderson: She absolutely better work. $15 million dollars to write a book? As somebody who just wrote a book. Okay. Uh. And did not receive $15 million dollars. My Lord today okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s a lot of zeros. But you know what I–
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m looking forward to it, though. I’m. I’m ready.
Priyanka Aribindi: You and I both I believe she has a story to tell, and I feel like she is one who will not leave anything out. She will tell us the whole thing. I think it’ll be a good one.
Tre’vell Anderson: So good.
Priyanka Aribindi: And those are the headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Pay all workers what they deserve, and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading and not just Britney Spears’ memoir as soon as it drops like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
[spoken together] And oops we did it again. [laughing]
Priyanka Aribindi: What have we done? Unclear.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m looking really forward to this because if you’ve listened to Mariah Carey’s audiobook, she sings on it.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oooh.
Tre’vell Anderson: And like gives us all of this behind the scenes information. So I’m hoping–
Priyanka Aribindi: Wait.
Tre’vell Anderson: –that Miss Britney Jean Spears.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh yes.
Tre’vell Anderson: Will do the same.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, my God, she has to do. [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: 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. Our intern is Ryan Cochran, and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.