In This Episode
- After weeks of pressure, President Biden announced he would send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. The decision clears the way for Germany to send over a dozen of their own tanks to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian forces.
- In an interview with the Associated Press, Pope Francis called laws that criminalize homosexuality “unjust.” It’s the latest statement he’s made in support of the LGBTQ+ community — though he maintained the Catholic Church’s view that being gay or lesbian is a sin.
- And in headlines: India forced Twitter and Youtube to take down a documentary critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Meta announced that it will reinstate Donald Trump’s Facebook account, and Justin Bieber sold his share of the rights to his music catalog for $200 million.
- 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/whataday/
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, January 26th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What A Day where now that DirectTV is dropping Newsmax from their cable lineup, we’re welcoming any shunted viewers with open arms.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, open but deeply mistrusting arms.
Tre’vell Anderson: Y’all are most likely going to hate it here, but you’re welcome nonetheless.
Priyanka Aribindi: I was going to call it a safe space but I feel like they really wouldn’t like that. [laughter] [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: On today’s show, Donald Trump is coming back to Facebook and Instagram. Plus, the parody awards show known as the Razzies apologized for nominating a child actor.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, President Biden announced yesterday that he would send 31 M-1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. This decision followed Germany’s announcement that they would send 14 tanks of their own to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian forces. We touched on this briefly in yesterday’s headlines, but we wanted to go into some more detail about how this happened and what it means.
Tre’vell Anderson: Okay. So let’s start with why the U.S. is doing this in the first place.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. Here is President Biden explaining this decision.
[clip of President Joe Biden] These tanks are further evidence of our enduring, unflagging commitment to Ukraine and our confidence in the skill of the Ukrainian forces.
Priyanka Aribindi: He also emphasized that this wasn’t meant to escalate the conflict or to be construed as an American threat against Russia. It is just supposed to be them helping out Ukraine. This war has been going on for almost a year now, and while Ukraine definitely has seen some successes, there are no signs that it will be over anytime soon. There are also fears that once we’re out of winter, a spring offensive will be coming and that Russia will mobilize more troops. So Ukraine has been asking for help, backup, more supplies and weapons in any way possible for a long time.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, and initially it seemed like those allies weren’t going to be providing that extra advanced weapons support, including the U.S.. What changed their minds?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, So the pressure has been mounting for weeks internationally to send tanks to help Ukraine. Ukraine has been insisting that Western made tanks specifically would really help their efforts. So both the Abrams tanks from the U.S. and leopard tanks from Germany and other European countries are considered better than the Soviet era tanks that both Russian and Ukrainian forces use. They are faster, they have better targeting hardware, more firepower. They also provide more protection for the people who are operating them. So earlier this month, Britain announced that they would send 14 of their own tanks to Ukraine. They were the first country to do so, and they were hoping that their decision would prompt other countries to follow suit. But the U.S. initially was reluctant to send over their M-1 tanks. The Pentagon reportedly had concerns over Ukraine’s ability to maintain the machines. That shifted attention over to Germany. There are about 2000 German made leopard tanks around Europe. Poland and Finland both have them and wanted to send some of those tanks to Ukraine. But as part of the purchase agreement they made, they have to have the German government’s permission to transfer those tanks. And German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was initially not on board with giving them that permission. He also wasn’t trying to send Germany’s own stock of tanks over to Ukraine. You know, he wasn’t trying to poke the bear here. He wasn’t trying to prompt any retaliation from Russia for doing this and allowing other countries to do this with their German made tanks. He kind of was like, we’re going to catch a lot of heat from these people and we’re not trying to get in the middle of that.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Priyanka Aribindi: But after weeks of this pressure, Germany relented and announced on Wednesday that they would send 14 of their Leopard 2 tanks as an initial shipment to Ukraine, as well as grant that permission to other countries who want to send their Leopard tanks as well. And very quickly afterwards, Biden made his own announcement about the American tank shipment. It was almost as much of a vote of support for Ukraine as it was, you know, this stance of unity with Germany, like they are doing it. We’re doing it, too. We’re not the only ones. Everyone’s kind of in it together.
Tre’vell Anderson: Gotcha. So at least 45 tanks are now headed to Ukraine. What is Russia’s reaction to this? I imagine it’s not great.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I mean, you can guess what they’re thinking. You know, they are furious. In fact, uh they’re saying that this, quote “takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation, that these are blatant provocations against Russia.” Once again, I mean, if they got out of Ukraine, I’m pretty sure none of this would be happening. So feels like they could solve all of their problems if they wanted to. They just don’t. We’ll obviously continue to follow this and see how this unfolds over the coming weeks and months. But, yeah, a lot of new supplies and equipment heading towards Ukraine.
Tre’vell Anderson: Thanks for that update there, Priyanka. Now, let me take you to church, the Catholic Church, to be specific. Where Pope Francis is doubling down on his support of queer people, at least sort of kinda. In an interview Tuesday with the Associated Press, Pope Francis called laws that criminalized homosexuality, quote unquote “unjust”, which is definitely a good thing, right? Especially as almost 70 countries or jurisdictions worldwide still outlaw consensual same sex sexual activity. Almost 50 of those countries deliberately target women in same sex relationships. And 11 of those 70 countries can or do impose the death penalty. That’s according to the human dignity trust. And then even here in the U.S., more than a dozen states still have anti-sodomy laws on the books, despite the Supreme Court declaring them unconstitutional in 2003. So, you know, having the pope saying that these laws are unjust is a definite positive.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Positive. Feels like the first time a pope has ever said that. But it does also feel like there is a but coming in your assessment here.
Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, yes, and there is. But before I get there, though, I want to note that this isn’t the first time Pope Francis has expressed some sort of support toward the leg booty, as they call it, on TikTok. That’s what the kids say. [laughter] On TikTok, I’m trying to stay hip, Priyanka.
Priyanka Aribindi: Love it.
Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] So back in 2013, when asked about priests who are gay, Pope Francis said, quote, “If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?” Then in 2020, he mentioned support for same sex civil unions, saying about queer folks, quote, “they’re children of God and have a right to a family.” And then just last year, he called on parents of LGBTQ folks to not condemn their kids. So Pope Francis might as well be wearing a rainbow pin on his lapel, right? Even a number of queer and queer Catholic advocacy orgs applauded the pope’s latest statement as historic. Like you just mentioned. But, there’s your but, this whole situation is a bit more complicated than that, because while the pope did say that homosexuality should not be criminalized and he did say that Catholic bishops needed to recognize the dignity of everybody, he’s also still out here articulating that being gay or lesbian is a sin.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that is a tough one to say all those things, but not comment on that part of it, if that’s still holding, these two are a little bit at odds with each other, one would think.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, you know, it does not make sense. And I don’t know how religious the WAD squad out there is, but I grew up in the church. Okay. The Black one, not the Catholic one. But many of the core principles are the same, especially around queer people. And all my life I’ve heard this refrain of, you know, love the sinner, hate the sin, which is often presented as one of the only ways that we as queer folks can exist in some of these religious spaces. They’ll let us direct their choirs and lead the praise and worship team. Right. But we can’t get married there, right? The fullness of our identities aren’t actually accepted and embraced because in the case of Catholic teachings, for example, homosexual acts are deemed, quote, “intrinsically disordered.” So what the Pope is basically saying is that being queer shouldn’t be a crime, but that our sexualities are still ultimately wrong, which is what sins are. And so his latest statements are really a case of, you know, one step forward and a whole lot more steps to go. And I will just note that the pope didn’t say anything in this interview specifically about transgender or non-binary people, just homosexuality. So, you know, maybe that’s also something we want to keep in mind before labeling folks and institutions as allies. I don’t know, just a thought.
Priyanka Aribindi: It’s a very, very important thing to bring up because I think people are very quick to say like, this is so amazing. And in many ways it is, but it’s not like this is uh being accepted in its totality, just like the way you mentioned, LGBTQ people aren’t accepted in totality in these spaces. So very important point to bring up. Thank you so much.
Tre’vell Anderson: More work to do. Let’s just leave it that way.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: More work to do. Okay.
Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely.
Tre’vell Anderson: We’re going to take a quick break and we’ll be back after some ads. [music break].
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: A Virginia teacher who was shot by a six year old student in her classroom is suing her school board, alleging that administrators could have prevented the shooting. Abigail Zwerner was wounded in the chest earlier this month when the first grader pulled out a gun from his backpack and fired at her during a lesson. Thankfully, she survived and no one else was hurt. But Zwerner’s lawyers told reporters yesterday that several other teachers and school employees tried to warn administrators three separate times that day that the boy had a gun and threatened people several times leading up to the shooting. But no action was taken. That is bananas. This comes after NBC News reported on Tuesday that Zwerner also texted someone shortly before she was shot, expressing her frustration with the school for ignoring those red flags. The school district declined to comment on her accusations, citing the ongoing investigation. Yesterday, the school board voted to terminate the contract of its superintendent effective February 1st.
Tre’vell Anderson: India’s right wing government invoked an emergency law to force Twitter and YouTube to take down a BBC documentary critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It centers on Modi’s role during the anti-Muslim riots in 2002, which led to the deaths of 1000 people. Modi has been accused of allowing authorities under his watch to instigate the violence. And throughout the past week, police have gone to universities to intimidate students still trying to watch the doc. The takedown order has resulted in more criticism for Twitter CEO Elon Musk, who has claimed to be a champion of quote unquote, “free speech” since taking over the site. He tweeted in response to the controversy, quote, “It is not possible for me to fix every aspect of Twitter worldwide overnight while still running Tesla and SpaceX, among other things.” Sounds like something you’d think about before putting down $44 billion to buy another company. But maybe that’s just me.
Priyanka Aribindi: Also does not make any sense when you consider every single thing that’s come out of this man’s mouth for the past–
Tre’vell Anderson: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: –several months. So that just simply does not describe what he’s been doing. This is wrong, plain and simple. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said that New York Representative George Santos, if that is even his real name, would be removed from office if the House Ethics Committee finds that he broke the law. Santos is under investigation over how he acquired and used campaign funds. Reporters yesterday pressed McCarthy on why he still supports Santos, who lied about his entire resumé and then some. McCarthy reaffirmed his support for the freshman congressman, but said that removing him is, quote, “not my role.”
Tre’vell Anderson: [laugh] He’s like not my job, honey. Somebody else’s.
Priyanka Aribindi: Alright then. [laughter] Heard you loud and clear. Uh. And you know what? He’s right about that–
Tre’vell Anderson: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: –but probably not a thing you should say. [laughter]
Tre’vell Anderson: He’s like get somebody else to do it, honey. Facebook needs to get to work on implementing a thumbs down button and fast because Meta, its parent company announced yesterday it will reinstate Donald Trump’s account. We told you last week the social media giant was mulling whether or not to end Trump’s two year ban. Facebook formally unfriended him over two years ago for egging on the January 6th rioters. And the suspension was originally meant to be indefinite. But Trump’s lawyers argued he should be able to return to the site since he is now running for president again. Meanwhile, Meta’s president of global affairs, wrote in a blog post, quote, “The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying. The good, the bad and the ugly so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box.” Which, I mean, come on.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, tell me you need people to be logged on to your platform to make money without–
Tre’vell Anderson: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: –telling me that you need to make money.
Tre’vell Anderson: Exactly. However, Trump could face what the company described as heightened penalties if he breaks any of their rules on content. Hopefully he gets the most severe form of Facebook punishment when he does, getting tagged in an unflattering, candid photo and not being able to remove it from his profile.
Priyanka Aribindi: [laugh] Justin Bieber, the artist who revolutionized music when he said the word baby three times in a row, sold the rights to all of his songs yesterday for a whopping $200 million dollars. Hipgnosis songs capital, the company that bought the superstar’s 290 song discography, said that the deal has been in the works since December and that this is their biggest rights acquisition to date. Usually companies like Hipgnosis won’t close deals with younger artists like Bieber because it’s hard to tell how their music will age over time. But Hipnosis was eager to invest, knowing how successful Bieber’s music has been ever since he released his first album, My World, in 2009. In other words, they belieb. [laugh] By closing the deal with Hipgnosis, Bieber signed away his entire stake in the royalties to his songs. But his record label, UMG, will still own the recorded music copyrights. I mean, $200 million dollars, it’s a high amount, but is that a like–
Tre’vell Anderson: I don’t know.
Priyanka Aribindi: He’s a prolific, like a huge the, one of the biggest artists live right now.
Tre’vell Anderson: Seems low to me.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: Justin.
Tre’vell Anderson: Baby, I think they swindled you Justin.
Priyanka Aribindi: Someone did you dirty. Uh uh.
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm mm.
Priyanka Aribindi: Scooter Braun we all know.
Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] The Razzies, the award show that honors the quote unquote “worst movies of the year” apologized yesterday after nominating a 12 year old actor for worst performance for her role in the Amazon prime financed remake Firestarter. In response to the incredibly valid criticism against bullying a child, the worst of awards instituted a new age requirement for their nominees, ensuring from now on, only those 18 and older will catch the heat of a Razzie nomination. So 16 year old Jacob Tremblay is safe for two more years, but just barely. Among the legal voting age Razzie nominees for 2022 films, Jared Leto for his turn in Morbius, Pete Davidson for his cameo in Machine Gun Kelly’s stoner comedy Good Morning and Tom Hanks for both his frightening performance in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis and his turn as Geppetto in Disney’s live action Pinocchio. We think these adult men can definitely take the heat. Leave the kids alone.
Priyanka Aribindi: Uh. But also kind of hilarious that Tom Hanks is nominated for two separate performances in this category. [laughing]
Tre’vell Anderson: I love that. I hope he pulls a Halle Berry and shows up to the awards–
Priyanka Aribindi: Show up!
Tre’vell Anderson: –and accepts–
Priyanka Aribindi: –Yeah get your prize
Tre’vell Anderson: You know, the trophy. Why not? Have some fun with it.
Priyanka Aribindi: Be an icon. Do it. And those are the headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Bully one less child today and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading and not just a Trump free Facebook feed 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 please stay off reels Donald.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh my God. What a cursed thought.
Tre’vell Anderson: Listen, I don’t need no more content from that man.
Priyanka Aribindi: Uh uh. That is an absolute no. Blocked and reported immediately. [laughter] [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: 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 Jocey Coffman and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.