In This Episode
- As Israel continues to gear up for its anticipated ground invasion of Gaza, diplomats with the United States, Egypt, and other countries are scrambling to avert a larger humanitarian crisis. Israel has given repeated orders for Gazans to evacuate south ahead of that, but basic services in that region are already incredibly strained due to years of an international blockade.
- And in headlines: Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan is the new GOP nominee for House Speaker, far-right Republican Jeff Landry has won Louisiana’s gubernatorial race, and Kaiser Permanente says it has reached a tentative labor deal with a coalition of healthcare workers.
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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, October 16th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice and this is What a Day. On today’s show, House Republicans’ latest nominee for speaker may not have enough support ahead of tomorrow’s floor vote. Plus, a coalition of unions has reached a tentative agreement with Kaiser Permanente.
Tre’vell Anderson: But first, the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues. According to The New York Times over the weekend, the Israeli military is preparing to launch a ground invasion into the Gaza Strip soon. Their stated goal is to destroy the top political and military officials of Hamas, the extremist Palestinian group that claims their recent violent attacks are in response to decades of Israeli occupation. We mentioned on Friday’s show that Israel had given Palestinians in the northern part of Gaza some 1 million people, just 24 hours to relocate to the southern part of the territory. Though hundreds of thousands of people heeded that warning, countless others stayed as Hamas assured their protection. Reportedly, Israel’s initial invasion plan has been delayed a few days at least due to weather conditions that would have made it more difficult for Israeli pilots and drone operators. And so now the international community is waiting to see what Israel will do. But their assault is expected to be the country’s biggest ground operation since it invaded Lebanon in 2006. It would also be the first in which Israel has attempted to capture land and at least briefly hold onto it since it last invaded Gaza in 2008. The Israeli military says Hamas’s initial attack and ongoing rocket fire from Gaza has killed more than 1300 people and injured 3200 others. Gaza’s health ministry says that Israeli airstrikes have killed over 2600 people and wounded at least 9600 others. The death toll also includes 30 U.S. citizens and 13 Americans remain unaccounted for.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, we’ve obviously been talking about this for a few days now, but the number of dead is just mind boggling each time and just devastating. So many people that were here last week are gone. So can you tell us a little bit about what actions are being taken to kind of try to diffuse the situation or reduce further harm?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, so there’s a lot of behind the scenes conversations happening right now because almost everyone says that civilians in the region shouldn’t be targeted or caught in the middle. And many don’t want the conflict to spread into a broader issue for the region. So US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been jetting throughout the region, meeting with the different world leaders since late last week. He’s set to return back to Israel today as what is slowly becoming a humanitarian crisis unfolds. Before leaving Egypt, Blinken told reporters, quote, “Israel has the right, indeed, it has the obligation to defend itself against these attacks from Hamas and to try to do what it can to make sure that this never happens again.” He continued, quote, “The way that Israel does this matters. It needs to do it in a way that affirms the shared values that we have for human life and human dignity. Taking every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians.” Then you have, for example, Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who Blinken also met with this weekend, who said on state run media that Israel’s effort in Gaza has surpassed the, quote unquote, “right of self-defense” and turned into, quote, “a collective punishment.” That said, much focus of the ongoing discussions is on trying to establish humanitarian corridors that allow resources and aid to go into Gaza and foreigners to get out. There are a number of convos happening with the U.S. serving as a mediator for some of them. There’s also negotiations happening with Hamas to release at least some of the 150 hostages they captured last week. But as of our record time, no deal of any sort has been struck yet.
Josie Duffy Rice: Moving to the situation on the ground in Gaza, which has deteriorated significantly in the past few days as retaliation for last weekend’s attack on Israel continues. Given the conditions on the ground, it’s not always easy to know exactly where things stand in the region. But what we do know is that things are bad and they’re likely to get worse in the coming days and weeks. Many are saying this is the worst Gaza has ever been. Here’s Noor Hazeen, a Gaza based journalist who spoke to our friends at Pod Save the World on Friday.
[clip of Noor Hazeen] I’ve been working as a reporter for like 12 years now and I’ve seen injured children. I’ve seen dead children. I’ve seen bodies that have been under the rubble for five and four days. I’ve seen a lot. And this is what we’re going through now, it’s even worse.
Josie Duffy Rice: In addition to the regular airstrikes in Gaza, according to CNN, Gaza is, quote, “suffering shortages of every kind.” That goes from the extremely crucial necessities like food and water, and also for the almost as crucial necessities like body bags and medicine and electricity. Over 2 million people do not have access to clean running water since Israel cut the area’s water supply off. Israel’s minister of energy said last week that, quote, “No water spigot will be opened until the hostages are freed.” That decision has exacerbated the awful conditions in Gaza, as Hamas has not acquiesced to that demand. According to the AP quote, “When water does trickle from pipes, the meager flow last no more than 30 minutes each day and is so contaminated with sewage and seawater that it’s undrinkable.” As of our record time of 9:30 Eastern last night, there was no longer water, even at U.N. shelters in Gaza. Now, the good news, at least relatively, is that on Sunday, Israel said it had resumed providing water to southern Gaza after pressure from international allies, including the United States. However, people on the ground have claimed that turning the water back on is almost meaningless without electricity to ensure the water is treated and safe for consumption. So the significance of that reversal is, as of now, it seems not yet enough to ensure that Gazans actually have access to drinkable water.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. And what about other necessities like food and medicine?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, well, currently there is no humanitarian corridor that can ensure supplies actually get into Gaza. There’s really no way to get things in, right? U.S. authorities are reportedly trying to get supplies in via Egypt, but that’s not yet allowed. U.S. officials claim that Hamas is preventing that corridor from opening. It’s unclear what exactly is going on there and how reliable some of that information is. But to answer your question, already, it was hard to get necessities in and out of Gaza because there was a blockade that’s existed for years. But that has gotten even worse now. So doctors and hospitals can’t treat patients. People are at risk of dehydration and starvation. Which will inevitably lead to more deaths. And to be clear, it’s not just food and water and medicine. It’s body bags, it’s fuel, it’s electricity, it’s Internet access. So that means, as you can imagine, no ability to see after sundown given there is no electricity, which makes avoiding airstrikes even more difficult or pulling bodies out or trying to get across the country on foot. You know, Israel and others, including the U.S., have encouraged Gazans to just leave. But for many reasons, that’s extremely difficult and exacerbated by this situation so here is Hazeen again, talking about the impossibility of leaving right now.
[clip of Noor Hazeen] There is no airplanes, trains, there is only cars and there is only two streets basically that are linking Gaza City with southern Gaza. So most of the people who are lucky enough, they will take cars. And this is so rare nowadays because there is basically no fuel for the cars. And others are walking basically on their foot. I mean, I saw today hundreds of people taking that route.
Tre’vell Anderson: You also mentioned already that Israel is making it very difficult to communicate. No electricity, less and less access to the Internet. What kind of impact is that having for Gazans on the ground?
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I mean, basically Gazans have no access to what they need and they have a dwindling ability to let people know that they don’t have that access and let people know their needs. So Israel’s government is making the conditions untenable for civilians, and they are also making it very difficult to know what those conditions actually are. Here’s Hazeen one more time talking about the current conditions in Gaza.
[clip of Noor Hazeen] Uh. The infrastructure here in Gaza is totally damaged. We are facing problems with electricity, the internet. We barely get wifi when we are in the hospitals. The wifi lines in Gaza are all down. We cannot even communicate with each other. The lines are also down. It’s really bad. And this makes things even worse during evacuation because basically families cannot call each other and know what they’re planning to do.
Josie Duffy Rice: As we mentioned, many people who are able to are trying to leave the area to escape these untenable conditions. But like Hazeen just mentioned, there are a lot of obstacles to actually making that happen. But there are others that could leave who are choosing not to. They’re determined to stay in their homes even if it leads to their death. Take a listen to Mahmoud Shalabi, he’s the acting director of the British nonprofit Medicine for Palestinians. He also sent this voice memo to Pod Save the World late last week when the first order to evacuate was issued.
[clip of Mahmoud Shalabi] There are people who started fleeing their homes. It’s true, but there are also people who are refusing to do so and refusing to be part of a second Nakba. And I am one of those. I am not leaving my home. I am not going to be a refugee again. I am already a Palestinian refugee. This is not going to be repeated for me or anyone from my family. I understand the safety concerns. I understand how it’s going to affect many people. But I will not leave.
Josie Duffy Rice: We will keep you posted on the situation in Gaza and Israel. But that is the latest for now. We will be back after some ads. [music break].
Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Tre’vell Anderson: After Representative Steve Scalise bowed out of the House speaker race last week. House Republicans have since tapped Jim Jordan to take the job. And while the House is expected to hold a full floor vote for the speakership tomorrow at noon Eastern, Jordan is facing the same problem as Steve Scalise. He’s still far short of the 217 votes he needs to take the gavel. And his opposition includes at least 55 of his fellow Republicans, including some of the same lawmakers who voted out Kevin McCarthy because they just like wreaking havoc on the rest of our lives. But instead of talking things out like rational adults, Jordan and his allies are apparently doing the exact opposite. They’ve decided to blast those detractors on social media instead, and that is rubbing some of his supporters the wrong way. Here’s what Texas Representative Dan Crenshaw told CNN yesterday.
[clip of Dan Crenshaw] And as somebody who wants Jim Jordan, the dumbest thing you can do is to continue pissing off those people and entrench them.
Tre’vell Anderson: And just a reminder that the House of Representatives has been without a permanent speaker since October 3rd.
Josie Duffy Rice: Republicans have notched an important victory ahead of the 2024 elections. Louisiana Attorney General and Trump supporter Jeff Landry won the state’s gubernatorial race on Saturday. He received nearly 52% of the votes in the crowded open primary, staving off a runoff election. It’s a big win for the GOP since Democrat John Bel Edwards has held the governor’s seat since 2016. And with low Democratic turnout this election, it’s a wake up call for what they’re up against next year. Landry, who is also a former member of Congress, is notorious for pushing hard line conservative policies. He’s pushed a tough on crime agenda as attorney general. He supports bans on gender affirming care, a near-total ban on abortion. And Louisiana is historically a red state. Remember that Trump won the state by almost 19 points in 2020. But Landry is only the fourth Republican governor since the end of Reconstruction. I don’t get those politics, but Louisiana is going to Louisiana. Looking ahead, two more red states are holding elections for governor this year. Kentucky and Mississippi, both of those elections will be held on November 7th.
Tre’vell Anderson: And switching to some labor news from over the weekend. A coalition of unions representing Kaiser Permanente workers reached a tentative deal with the health care giant early Friday. This comes after nearly 85,000 technicians, vocational nurses and others walked off the job earlier this month in the largest health care industry strike in U.S. history. The main issues on the table amid the three day walkout were over compensation and staffing. Many workers spoke out about the challenges of working in understaffed departments while carrying heavy caseloads. The new deal requires Kaiser to address staffing and also gives workers a 21% pay bump over the next four years to retain current employees. Kaiser employees who are part of the strike will begin voting on whether to ratify the new contract on Wednesday.
Josie Duffy Rice: And finally, an update on the wildfire recovery in Maui. The three public schools that survived the Lahaina wildfires are set to reopen this week. This comes two months after the fires broke out in August. Since then, many kids haven’t been in the classroom because there are no classrooms to return to. Some private schools have already reopened and have offered public school students a year of free tuition so they can stay on track with their learning. But as eager as Lahaina parents are to make sure their kids don’t fall behind, many aren’t sure if they’re ready to send their kids back to their old classrooms. Some are concerned by how close the campuses are to the toxic burn zones. Local officials have tried to reassure families that the campuses are safe after restoring their utilities and installing air filters. But many families are opting to keep their kids at those private schools out of an abundance of caution. Meanwhile, teachers say they’re looking forward to seeing their students again, but are also concerned about their mental health after the trauma they’ve endured. Jacquelyn Ellis, a high school teacher at Lahainaluna High, told the news outlet Honolulu Civil Beat, quote, “It’s a big mixture I would say, of excited to be back here, but also just still mourning everything.”
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, it definitely makes sense that it’s a mixed bag of emotions and reactions. They’re still processing a lot.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: And so that makes plenty of sense to me.
Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. It’s just a very difficult situation.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. And those are the headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: And we also want to wish a very happy birthday to our show’s producer, Itxy Quintanilla, in the short time she’s been with the WAD team she’s put together incredible segments you’ve heard right here on this very show. Throughout all the chaos, she’s kept us all singing because someone’s got to do it. And that is, after all, what libras do best. So shout out to her.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. Shout out to her. [music break] That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review and tell your friends to listen.
Josie Duffy Rice: 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 Happy Birthday Itxy.
Tre’vell Anderson: I hope you are taking some time off.
Josie Duffy Rice: Same.
Tre’vell Anderson: For yourself. [music break]
Josie Duffy Rice: What a Day is a 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 Martínez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. [music break]