In This Episode
- The twelve year tenure of right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may come to an end as early as this week if the broad coalition of officials that are set to replace him can hold together and form a new government. We spoke with Haggai Matar, the executive director of +972 magazine in Israel about the coalition, which includes representatives from eight ideologically distinct parties.
- Last week, U.S. Marshals shot and killed 32-year-old Winston “Boogie” Smith Jr. in Minneapolis while attempting to arrest him. Now, people in the city are calling for more transparency into the shooting and asking that anyone who might have video footage come forward.
- And in headlines: a federal judge overturns California’s 30 year ban on assault weapons, Vice President Kamala Harris travels to Central America, and Joe Manchin reiterates his support for the filibuster and opposition to HR1.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Monday, June 7th, I’m Akilah Hughes
Gideon Resnick: And I’m Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day, where we’re welcoming Megan and Harry’s daughter to her very first episode of a podcast.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, we’re just going to assume she’s listening and we hope she enjoys it.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I think she’ll understand every word.
Akilah Hughes: Totally.
Gideon Resnick: On today’s show, protesters took to the streets in Minneapolis throughout the weekend after law enforcement shot and killed 32-year old Winston Smith Jr.. Plus, we’ll have headlines.
Akilah Hughes: But first, the latest with a check in on Israel.
[clip of Haggai Matar] The government is supposed to be formed within the coming week and a half. They announced they were successful in creating this coalition government, but it, it will be about a week and a half before it’s actually sworn in. And a lot can happen in a week and a half.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, that is Haggai Matar, Executive Director of +970 magazine in Israel, who I spoke with yesterday. And as early as this Wednesday, the country may form a new government that pushes out Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister. So we wanted to get context on what that might mean for the government, the people, and more.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, and as you mentioned there, we are just days away from Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure possibly coming to an end. But on the ground, tensions were ramping up all last weekend despite this current ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. So what’s going on?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, a lot. So yesterday, Israeli police detained a number of Palestinians, including Muna and Mohammed El-Kurd, who have been trying to protect their home in Sheikh Jarrah. They were released after a massive outcry, but that also followed the arrest of a journalist from Al-Jazeera over the weekend as well. And then on top of that far-right Israeli groups are once again planning to march through the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem later this week, which could coincide with the actual vote on this new government. So a lot of the same conditions that led to the most recent conflict are playing out again.
Akilah Hughes: And as we mentioned, a broad coalition came together last week to oust Netanyahu. That’s not a done deal, though. So what’s happening this week?
Gideon Resnick: Well, we could see a vote happening in the Knesset or parliament as soon as the next few days here. And the deal right now is between eight ideologically different parties. It would tentatively install right-wing pro annexation politician Naftali Bennett as prime minister for the first two years. Here’s what journalist Haggai Matar said we should know about him:
[clip of Haggai Matar] He’ll probably be the most right-wing prime minister Israel has ever had, the first religious prime minister Israeli has ever had. At the same time, he will be part of a coalition where he’s in the minority in these positions of his, and he will be curtailed in his ability to promote—he won’t be able, for example, to go ahead and annex territories.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So after those two years are up, Yair Lapid would be the next prime minister. He’s often branded as a centrist, but still politically quite to the right. Here’s Matar talking about Lapid.
[clip of Haggai Matar] He does not oppose the occupation in any serious way, does not support any sort of progressive agenda on the economy in any sort of way. And then at the same time kind of positioned himself in recent years as the absolute center of the Israeli map, which is very much on the right as the goalposts of what is considered left and right in Israel has really, really moved further, further to the right. Now he’s considered center. Normally, we would say that he’s on the right.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah. So it doesn’t sound like much would change on the political spectrum overall compared to Netanyahu. But what have people on the ground been saying about this new possible coalition?
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, so aside from the pro-Netangahu supporters, Matar described a lot of confusion and unhappiness.
[clip of Haggai Matar] A lot of people saying: OK, it’s good that we’ll get rid of Netanyahu. But nobody’s happy with this coalition. I don’t think there’s a single person who voted for any of this, these lists that will make up the new coalition, who’s content. Because they all essentially had to give up so much of their platforms just in order to kind of make it, and make do with the other parties, that nobody’s really happy. So everybody’s confused and kind of wondering if this will survive.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, and Gideon, it’s very possible that this coalition could fall apart before Wednesday as well. And Netanyahu isn’t going down without a fight.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, he is not. And Matar said that even if this new government is formed, Netanyahu wouldn’t actually go anywhere in that case.
[clip of Haggai Matar] Well, he won’t be the prime minister. He will be the head of the opposition. And Netanyahu has a history as a very, very fierce head of opposition. We’ve already seen just the past few days since the announcement of the supposed new government just how ruthless he can be.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, what he’s talking about there is that Netanyahu has aggressively tried to get some of the more nationalist members of this new coalition to break away from it. Plus, his son, Yair Netanyahu was temporarily blocked from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter after reposting calls to protest outside of one lawmaker’s home, a repost that widely shared that person’s home address. Then over the weekend, the head of Israel’s internal security service issued this kind of rare statement voicing concern about, quote “extremely violent and inciting discourse” aimed at some of the lawmakers in this new coalition. And he went so far as to say he was concerned that it would open the door to violence. And even while Netanyahu has said that he condemns incitement and violence, he recently referred to the newly formed coalition as a result of the, quote “greatest election fraud in history.”
Akilah Hughes: That sounds so familiar.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, like nothing we’ve heard before. This is from the guy who, by the way, condemned the capital riot incited by, you guessed it, former President Trump. So lots to follow there in the next few days with that vote in Israel’s parliament happening as soon as this Wednesday. We’ll keep you up to date on all of it. Let’s turn back to the US, and Akilah, you are monitoring a story out of Minnesota.
Akilah Hughes: Yes. So it’s brutal. So really sorry to start your Monday off with this kind of news, but Minneapolis is once again at the center of a scandal around a Black man being extrajudicially murdered by people whose job it is to bring people in alive. 32-year old Winston “Boogy” Smith Jr. was shot to death last Thursday by U.S. Marshals who were attempting to arrest him on alleged weapons charges. But who can actually know for sure? Because U.S. marshals don’t allow the use of body cameras. There were four consecutive days of vigils and protests since his death, with people searching for answers and proof of what actually happened.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and so the official word from authorities is that Smith fired a weapon from inside his car, I guess resulting in the marshals firing back and killing him.
Akilah Hughes: Basically. And just to pull the curtain back a little bit, U.S. media has a real authority bias, so while we are reporting what the U.S. Marshals have said, we also know that the initial police report about George Floyd’s death was a complete mischaracterization of what took place. So part of media literacy has to be taking any information with a grain of salt, especially when it’s provided by authorities with no incentive to be truthful. This is what the multiple days of protests have mostly been about. These people in Minneapolis are so suspicious of what law enforcement say nowadays that they’re demanding video proof of what went down. Here’s community activist Toshira Garraway speaking last Friday:
[clip of Toshira Garraway] We refuse to believe that no one has video footage after all of those different departments showed up yesterday. So we want transparency and we demand it now.
Akilah Hughes: And a reminder that a bystander’s video was crucial in getting justice for George Floyd, and body cam footage is a key piece of evidence in the police shooting of Daunte Wright in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center in April.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, an activists, family members, and the community at large are not sold on what’s been shared so far on the killing of Winston Smith Jr., because as you’re saying here, officials claim that there are no tapes. So is there a good reason, at least, for that?
Akilah Hughes: No. So a Department of Justice spokesperson said back in February that Marshals could wear body cameras, but reports now claim that they haven’t been phased in yet. So I’m going to need help understanding why they can’t hand out the fucking body cameras already. I mean, it doesn’t seem like a real problem, it’s just a very convenient excuse. And just a little more context on the lack of body cameras, it is bizarre and it’s also been challenged by local law enforcement. Some police departments nationwide, for example, have pulled their own officers from federal task forces with the U.S. Marshals because they aren’t allowed to wear the body cams. It’s fascinating. But during the past weekend’s protests, family and friends describe Smith as a caring father of three. One childhood friend of Smith’s, who was unnamed, was recorded on the streets last Saturday by the organization The Citizen Reporter:
[voice clip] Winston was loved. Winston was a sweetheart. Winston loved his kids. Winston loved us. Winston loved you, if you ain’t know he loved you.
Akilah Hughes: But Smith was also often harassed by police. Protesters are demanding transparency in the investigation, and have asked that anyone who might have video footage come forward. We’ll keep you posted on the situation in Minneapolis as it unfolds. But that’s the latest for now.
Akilah Hughes: It’s Monday, WAD squad, and today we’re discussing another earth-shattering story from the digital world that we live in, in our segment: Nothin’ But Net. Somebody bought a chicken nugget on eBay last Friday, but—here’s where things get scary and weird—they paid almost $100,000 because the nugget looks like a character from a video game. Specifically, the nug bears a striking resemblance to an “Among Us” crew member. If you’re not familiar, Among Us is the game where one or two people sabotage everybody else on a spaceship, and it became hugely popular during the pandemic. The nearly $100,000 selling price means some people look back fondly on the period when our social calendars were dominated by smartphone-game based hangouts. The nugget also came from a BTS meal, which might have added to its value, and its seller said it would be frozen and air sealed prior to delivery, which is frankly the bare minimum for a six-figure piece of chicken. So Giddy, my question for you, how much would you pay for this?
Gideon Resnick: I would pay a dollar, I believe, and I think I unfortunately would probably have already consumed it at the point where I could have even realized in hindsight that it might have looked like this. So I would lose out on money because I would have eaten the food.
Akilah Hughes: Dang. That’s a, that’s a real bummer, man. I’m sorry to hear that.
Gideon Resnick: It’s OK. It’s my cross to bear. How about you? What would you pay?
Akilah Hughes: I mean, I probably pay a $1,000 if it came with the BTS sauce—both of them, you know, not just one. But yeah, I think a $1,000 is good for this kind of ridiculous thing from this time period.
Gideon Resnick: Compared to the $100,000 it certainly sounds reasonable. Yeah.
Akilah Hughes: Definitely, right? I mean, I think that, you know, that’s the most any chicken could ever be worth. Well, that’s what’s new on the Internet. Invest wisely in nuggets and we’ll be back after some ads.
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Akilah Hughes: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Gideon Resnick: A federal judge in California overturned the state’s 30-year ban on assault weapons last Friday. US District Judge Roger Benitez made the ruling, arguing that the ban deprives Californians of owning assault-style weapons that other states allow. He also outrageously compared AR15 rifles to Swiss Army Knives, saying that the weapon is both a home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. He did fail to note, however, that Swiss Army Knives were not used for any recent mass murders in the country as far as I’m aware. Governor Gavin Newsom and the families of gun violence victims spoke out against the ruling, calling the judge’s comparison to a Swiss Army Knife, an insult. The judge granted a 30-day stay for the ruling, which means it won’t be implemented right away, and that the state Attorney General has the right to appeal it, which he has already vowed to do.
Akilah Hughes: Wow, that judge sounds like an asshole. Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Guatemala over the weekend for her first foreign trip in office. President Biden tasked her with the same role he had when he was VP, which is to address the issues causing mass migrations out of Central America. She plans to meet with both Mexico and Guatemala’s presidents, along with civil groups and business leaders, to talk about promoting business investments there and in surrounding countries. Harris is specifically focusing on Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, which have all been struggling with violence, corruption, and poverty for decades. Her hope is to encourage investments in the region that could eventually lead to fixing deep rooted systemic issues and ending mass migration crises.
Gideon Resnick: This Sunday, we were reminded of the four scariest words in the English language: Joe Manchin Op-Ed. The West Virginia senator and good Republican truther wrote that he would vote against the For the People Act or HR1, which would expand voting rights, restrict gerrymandering and generally revamp rules on campaign finance and ethics. Manchin’s position all but seals HR1’s fate. The bill would need support from all 50 Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents in the Senate to pass. And that’s assuming the Senate could reform the filibuster, which Manchin also loves, since it plays into his costly and destructive fetish for bipartisanship.
Akilah Hughes: Facts.
Gideon Resnick: Manchin argument against HR one is that voting rights legislation that only has support from Democrats would, quote “destroy the already weakening bonds of democracy.” For that reason, he instead supports the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, or HR4, which has a better chance of attracting Republican support than HR1, partly because it doesn’t do quite as much. In response to Manchin’s article, Democratic Representative Mondaire Jones of New York tweeted, quote “Manchin’s Op-Ed might as well have been titled “Why I’ll Vote to Preserve Jim Crow.”
Akilah Hughes: Right true. I mean, yuck. Bitcoin could have a new application besides paying ransom to hackers and buying identities on the Dark Web. The application is legal tender in El Salvador. At a Miami Bitcoin conference this Saturday, El Salvador’s populist president, Nayib Bukele announced his support for this idea. Bukele’s party holds a supermajority in Congress, so the Bitcoin as legal tender bill he plans to submit this week has a strong likelihood of passing. Many of El Salvador citizens live in the U.S., and each year they send billions of dollars to family members who live back home. Bukele says that if the money was transferred as Bitcoin, people could cut out intermediaries and save millions. Bukele also hopes to bring investors to his country by promising not to charge capital gains tax on cryptocurrency. Also, in an indication of the increasingly blurred line between “leader of a country” and “hustle culture influencer,” he changed his profile picture on Twitter to give himself laser eyes, which is some kind of Bitcoin meme, I guess. This is the guy you want to sit next to at the U.N. if you want finance tips, but also want to hear about the benefits of sensory-deprivation tanks and intermittent fasting.
Gideon Resnick: Yeah, where is Joe Biden’s laser eyes? I’m waiting.
Akilah Hughes: Yeah, honestly, I just don’t think he has the range. And those are the headlines.
Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, try intermittent fasting, and tell your friends to listen.
Akilah Hughes: Don’t do that. And if you’re into reading, and not just well-deserved Manchin slams on Twitter like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Akilah Hughes.
Gideon Resnick: I’m Gideon Resnick.
[together] And invest in nugs!
Akilah Hughes: They’re only going up. They probably have a stronger likelihood of not being volatile than Dogecoin.
Gideon Resnick: Nugs to the moon. That’s what they’re saying.
Akilah Hughes: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media.
Gideon Resnick: It’s recorded and mixed by Charlotte Landes.
Akilah Hughes: Sonia Htoon and Jazzi Marine are our associate producers.
Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producers are Leo Duran, Akilah Hughes and me.
Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.