In This Episode
- Another intense winter storm slammed into California Tuesday, bringing heavy rain, wind, and intense wind to the Golden State. It’s the latest in a series of atmospheric rivers that have led to the deaths of at least 17 people since late last month, and put millions of Californians under flood warnings.
- California Rep. Katie Porter announced she’s running for Senator Dianne Feinstein’s seat – even though Feinstein, a longtime incumbent, has not signaled her intention to retire.
- And in headlines: at least 17 people were killed Monday in southern Peru during anti-government protests, the U.S. will train Ukrainian troops to operate the Patriot missile system in Oklahoma, and the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could limit how unions go on strike.
- Allure: “Gwen Stefani: ‘I Said, ‘My God, I’m Japanese’’” – https://www.allure.com/story/gwen-stefani-japanese-harajuku-lovers-interview
- What A Day – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/@whatadaypodcast
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, January 11th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What A Day telling Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene that she is not allowed to use any of our songs in her videos, in addition to the songs of one Dr. Dre.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, if we hear Colin Gilliard or Kashaka over any MTG content, we will be taking legal action. Josie will be getting involved as our lawyer. There will be issues here. [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: On today’s show, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could change how labor unions go on strike. Plus, Gwen Stefani offered a bizarre defense of her Harajuku era.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I don’t even want to get into that, but I’m sure we will later. But first, relentless storms once again slammed California yesterday with heavy rain, thunder, intense winds, and even hail. Over 20 million people across California were under flood alerts yesterday with nearly 50,000 residents across the state under evacuation orders and nearly 160,000 without power.
Juanita Tolliver: My goodness, with all of the rain, the winds, the hail, it sounds apocalyptic out there.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, truly. I mean, here in Los Angeles, just to give you a sense, it felt like my apartment was being battered by rain for just hours on end.
Juanita Tolliver: Yikes.
Priyanka Aribindi: From Monday night to Tuesday morning. It was really different and much more intense than any other storm I’ve experienced here. And this isn’t even where it was worse. It was much worse in other areas of the state and even other areas of L.A.
Juanita Tolliver: Like last week, we were talking about a completely different storm in California, though. Can you explain what’s happening now and how these are connected?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So this is actually the fourth storm of this magnitude to hit the state since December. You may remember us talking about atmospheric rivers last week, which are basically just storms that are capable of dropping massive amounts of rain and snow. The National Weather Service has warned of a, quote, “relentless parade of atmospheric rivers in California”. And that is exactly what we’ve been seeing.
Juanita Tolliver: Yikes.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Big yikes. Since these storms started in December, nearly all of California has gotten 4 to 6 times the rainfall that we typically see during this time of year. And it’s been catastrophic, really, to say the least, especially, you know, having these storms back to back to back in such quick succession. Between Monday and Tuesday afternoon, there were approximately 150 to 200 reports of flooding and mudslides in Southern California alone. Obviously, all of the rainfall from these storms has caused rivers to rise, which leads to flooding risks and evacuations for that reason. And mudslides were actually made much more likely because of California’s long period of drought leading up to these storms. So during prolonged droughts, soil dries out, it gets hard, it becomes a lot less permeable to water. So then when the rain falls, instead of the soil absorbing it like it should normally much less of the water soaks through. Instead, more of the water sits on top of the soil, basically kind of is like a hard rock and that water can eventually pool and start to run. And that can become really dangerous on steep slopes and hills, which, you know, there are many of those around California, especially near the coast. And the water can accelerate. It can pick up rocks and debris and become a really dangerous mudslide. Communities near wildfire burn scars are also more likely to see potentially dangerous mudflows. And it can take many years after a fire for those areas to fully recover.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. And I’ve seen the footage. I’ve seen the rescues happening of peoples whose cars are submerged. Like clearly there’s a lot of effort to save people. And please, everyone, stay safe out in California. But what else do we know in terms of damage from these storms so far?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, The conditions that these storms have created are extremely intense and even deadly in some cases. At least 17 people have died since these storms started last month and that number is expected to rise still. It’s still difficult to get a handle on the full extent of the damage, especially, you know, with these storms in such quick succession. But the overall cost right now is estimated to reach over one billion dollars to repair the damage that’s already been caused. President Biden has approved California Governor Gavin Newsom’s request for an emergency declaration in California. That should definitely help get relief to the state faster. Emergency declarations basically authorize FEMA to coordinate relief efforts and mobilize emergency resources. That’s definitely very necessary. As Gavin Newsom made clear, you know, recovery is going to be made even more difficult because of the fact that these storms have been happening in such quick succession. There’s very little time in between to even get things under control or start to recover. You know.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Just to be hit by another storm. And these kind of whiplash weather events are really just becoming more and more common because of manmade climate change.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. And are there any signs of these storms stopping?
Priyanka Aribindi: You know, sadly, not yet. At this point in time. There might be a few dry days for the rest of this week, but the rain is expected to return this weekend. Some estimates say as much as seven more inches could fall in many parts of California. So this is definitely not over yet.
Juanita Tolliver: Let’s shift gears here, but keep the focus on the Golden State. The 2024 race for California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s seat kicked off yesterday as Representative Katie Porter announced her candidacy and released her first ad. And yes, Representative Porter made this announcements for a seat that Senator Feinstein has not vacated or made any formal announcements about. But alas.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Okay. I’m going to need you to break this down for us because you know. Know Katie Porter, love Katie Porter. She is great. But is it surprising that like this has happened before Feinstein has even said anything like that doesn’t seem quite right. Right?
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, it sends a signal, right? Like that can’t be ignored.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: And Representative Porter hit the ground running, raising $250,000 within 90 minutes of posting her first ad. And she’s already getting a few endorsements like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. The white board was front and center in her ad, along with hits on McConnell and threats from extremist Republicans, as well as an emphasis on the need for change. Honestly, I understand the political strategy about announcing first and reaching donors quickly, but it feels a little bit icky, right? To launch a campaign before Senator Feinstein could even announce her own transition. A little tinge of disrespect, if you will. When reporters asked Senator Feinstein about Porter’s announcement uh, she said, quote, “Everyone is, of course, welcome to throw their hat in the ring and I’ll make an announcement concerning my plans for 2024 at the appropriate time.” She went on to say that she’s instead focused on helping her home state cope with the storms, as you just talked about. And honestly, that was a piece of preliminary feedback Katie Porter has been getting. You don’t launch a campaign–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: –When your state is in crisis.
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously.
Juanita Tolliver: Uh. But based on this response, we can surmise that Feinstein is unsurprised by Katie Porter’s campaign launch and will likely make a formal announcement soon. But I can’t help but sense a tone of I’ll do it when I’m good and ready from the senator.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Okay. I mean, I guess that is like a reassuring sign for those of us who were kind of like, Hey uh. Well, what’s happening uh, Senator Feinstein? Are we going to move it along or, you know, what’s the deal here? But I mean, a crazy few months, I guess, for us ahead.
Juanita Tolliver: Right. And we have to remember that there’s been questions about Feinstein’s age. She’s turning 90 later this year and questions about her popularity among Democratic voters, especially after she hugged and praised Senator Lindsey Graham during the 2020 Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Hearings which were jammed through only weeks before the 2020 election. And Feinstein said at the time, quote, “This has been one of the best set of hearings that I’ve participated in.” Girl.
Priyanka Aribindi: Ma’am, what?
Juanita Tolliver: Like, let’s be real. There’s not much love lost here among Democrats.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I uh forgot about that particular moment. I mean, there have definitely been others but wow. Okay. So is this the vibe that we should kind of be expecting for the 2024 campaign season? People just like jumping in there? Is Katie Porter, are we expecting her to get some competition? Is it going to be messy like this? [laughing] What do we know?
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, yeah, look, this mildly messy start is only going to get exponentially messier as the 2024 Senate race will be a showdown featuring the wealth of talent hailing from California. In addition to Representative Porter, I think we can look to her peers in the Democratic House caucus as potential competitors, namely Representatives Barbara Lee, Adam Schiff or [?], to name a few, all of whom are well-established and well-known in their own rights. And that national brand will be critical in the early days of the campaign cycle. I peeped some preliminary polling that has been circulating from Porter’s polling team and based on the top lines among Democratic and independent voters, Representative Porter and Representative Schiff have comparable levels of support at around 30% each, and that’s a pretty comfortable place to be starting off at.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, definitely. These are people who are known and liked, very well liked nationwide.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: And as you said, this primary could definitely get crowded. There are people who want this job. All of these people would probably be very good at this job. Um. But, you know, it’s a little a little nerve wracking when you’re seeing a bunch of people, like giving me like 2020 flashbacks a little bit when like a bunch of people–
Juanita Tolliver: Oh goodness.
Priyanka Aribindi: –who you pretty much like are kind of just duking it out and you’re like, this is hard to watch and I don’t like this.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Is this a bad thing for Democrats if this field gets crowded?
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, yes and no. I think any and everyone who wants to seek public office should run, period. I also think Democrats have to keep in mind the fact that California will have an open primary in June 2024 where every voter casts a ballot and the top two vote getters advance to general election. If there are three or four Democratic candidates who are still polling in the single digits come January 2024, they may consider dropping out in order to maximize Democratic voters’ power and block any GOP candidates who may be lurking in the wings to try to benefit from vote splitting.
Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely.
Juanita Tolliver: Of course, we’ll keep monitoring this race as it takes shape and share more as announcements are made, But that’s the latest for now. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: At least 17 civilians and one police officer died during anti-government protests in southern Peru on Monday. The demonstrations first began in December following former President Pedro Castillo’s removal from office, after he attempted to dissolve Congress and rule by decree. Castillo’s supporters remain loyal and have continuously called for his release from prison and for his successor, President Dina Boluarte to resign. In suppressing dissent, Peru’s security forces have been accused of indiscriminately using lethal force on protesters. A total of 47 of whom have been killed so far. Supporters of Castillo are calling for new general elections right away, Boluarte has proposed moving up the election by two years to 2024.
Juanita Tolliver: U.S. officials said yesterday that the Pentagon will soon welcome dozens of Ukrainian troops to Oklahoma City for military training, starting as early as next week members of the armed forces will teach Ukrainians how to use the Patriot missile defense system at the military base at Fort Sill. The U.S. is set to give Kiev one of these systems to counter Russia’s missile attacks. American troops typically train for at least one year before using the Patriot system on the battlefield. But Pentagon officials are reportedly looking for ways to speed up that process. So far, the U.S. has not trained Ukrainian soldiers on American soil. So this move could escalate tensions with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I mean, like geopolitical implications aside from this, I’m wondering how are these troops going to like Oklahoma City? [laughing] How is Oklahoma City gonna treat these troops? I’m very intrigued. I want to know more.
Juanita Tolliver: But also, how’s the Pentagon going to speed up this training process safely so they’re not out on the battlefield looking crazy.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay Juanita, you have you have very legitimate questions. [laughter] Mine are a little more like, what are they going to do in Oklahoma City? [laughter] I hope they like it. Anyways. Hopefully people are nice. The Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a case that could limit workers rights by allowing companies to sue certain unions that go on strike. The case is brought by Glacier Northwest, a company that makes concrete for construction projects. Glacier alleges that when some of its workers walked off the job in 2017, it almost caused its supply of wet cement to harden, therefore making it unusable. Glacier accused the strikers of timing the action to ruin its products. It probably should have just paid their workers more because their product is so important clearly. The company argued that it should be able to sue the union that organized the strike for intentionally damaging its property. If the High Court rules in Glacier’s favor, it could open the door for employers across industries to sue workers who exercise their federally protected right to strike. The official decision likely won’t come until June, but based on the questions that justices asked yesterday and their track record of ruling against unions in labor disputes, it is likely that the high Court will side with Glacier and we will be living in even worse of a nightmare than we are already.
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, I can’t wait to see how Amazon uses that decision.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, geez.
Juanita Tolliver: The perils of working for Donald Trump were on full display yesterday, as former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg was sentenced to five months in jail by a New York judge. This comes after he pleaded guilty last year to taking part in a 15 year long tax fraud scheme that helped Trump organization executives avoid paying taxes by compensating them with big off the books perks like luxury cars and apartments. Weisselberg began serving his sentence immediately and is being held at Rikers Island. Meanwhile, two more Trump Organization executives will be sentenced this week after they were convicted on charges of tax fraud and falsifying business records.
Priyanka Aribindi: And a new Allure interview with Gwen Stefani contains some quotes from the singer that are nothing short of bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. [laughing] You’re all singing it, too. All right. I had to do it. The magazine’s senior editor asked Stefani about her controversial Harajuku era in the early 2000s, when she appropriated many elements of Japanese culture for her music videos, marketing, and merchandise. Given the opportunity to account for her choices during this period, Stefani showed zero remorse and no doubt. Instead, she told her Filipina American interviewer about her first visit to Japan as a kid when she had this thought, quote, “I’m Japanese and I didn’t know it.” Also in the interview, Stefani said she was, quote, “a little bit of an Orange County girl, a little bit of a Japanese girl, and a little bit of an English girl.” Uh. Dear reader, she is not [?] of those things just to break it to you. The Allure writer noted that despite Stefani’s creative interpretation of her ancestry, she did not make any public statements of support during recent cycles of hate against Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the US. Huh.
Juanita Tolliver: I just need to shout out the interviewer who is Filipina American, who probably sat there and looked at this woman cross-eyed when she’s talking about I’m Japanese. It’s just like, no white woman, but you are taking being a culture vulture to the next level. That’s what she’s doing.
Priyanka Aribindi: I think there’s a whole part in it where uh the interviewer is looking at someone else in the room being like, what is this actually coming out of this woman’s mouth? Why? Why in the world?
Juanita Tolliver: Because in those moments, you literally have to look at somebody else and be like, is this shit happening?
Priyanka Aribindi: Are you hearing this right?
Juanita Tolliver: That’s right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Great. That Gwen Stefani has learned absolutely nothing.
Juanita Tolliver: Zero.
Priyanka Aribindi: Does not realize why anything she has done had been wrong–
Juanita Tolliver: Nope.
Priyanka Aribindi: –or harmful in any way. Lovely. Uh to live in the delusional mind of a white celebrity that does shit like this.
Juanita Tolliver: Period.
Priyanka Aribindi: What must it be like? Who knows? And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads with a marketing match made in heaven between two titans of New England culture.
Juanita Tolliver: Yay! [laughter] [music break].
Priyanka Aribindi: It is Wednesday WAD squad and today we are relying on our many years of experience as amateur financial advisors for a segment called WAD Money. Yes, it’s pronounced WAD for this for the purposes of rhyming with MAD Money. [laughter] We are going to look at a paradigm shifting development in the business world and tell you if it’s a buy, sell, or a hold. Juanita, are you ready for this?
Juanita Tolliver: I am beyond ready. So ready.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. You’ve. You’ve been ready. Okay, so I’ll give it to you. An age old Boston prophecy is finally being fulfilled with an official collab between actor Ben Affleck and coffee chain Dunkin’. If nothing brings you inner calm quite like paparazzi photos of Affleck balancing towers of stacked Dunkin’ iced coffees. You are in luck because yesterday the actor was spotted filming a commercial for the chain in Medford, Massachusetts. Affleck was seen serving customers at a drive thru window and delivering donuts to area firefighters. It’s not known when the campaign will come out, but according to an Entertainment Tonight source, Affleck’s wife, Jennifer Lopez, loves it and Affleck is heavily involved in it, not just as the campaign star, but as its director. So, Juanita, this is a green, monster sized collab between two iconic New England brands. With that in mind. Are you rating Dunkin’ as a buy, sell, or a hold?
Juanita Tolliver: I’m ranking it a buy and I’m ranking it a buy immediately from this exact location because many years ago, as a baby organizer, I launched many a canvasing events from this Medford Dunkin’ Donuts right. [laughter] Like this was my spot. When I tell you I am personally just hyped for this and shout out to my in-laws who still live in Medford, Massachusetts, like this is the spot. This is where we are meeting up for every family gathering in the future. I am obsessed with Dunkin’. I’m obsessed with Ben Affleck. So buy everyone, buy every bit of this.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oh my God. Wow. Like this–
Juanita Tolliver: I told you, this is deep. This is personal.
Priyanka Aribindi: This could have been you picking up donuts from Ben Affleck. That’s wild.
Juanita Tolliver: I know. I literally hesitated to text my father in law like, hey Dan, you see Ben today? [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: That’s so crazy. I mean. I love this. I think it’s so fun. I don’t know how this hasn’t happened sooner because there are so many photos of this man. Even in the worst of times. He is doing terrible. He’s–
Juanita Tolliver: Fully distraught.
Priyanka Aribindi: He’s like–
Juanita Tolliver: Fully distraught.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, he’s fully going through it. These [?] is the most divorced man in the world, clutching his iced coffee, doing his thing. And, you know, he made it through. He’s in the better days. And it is–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: I think Dunkin’ had a lot to do with it. So I think strong buy.
Juanita Tolliver: I think Dunkin’ brought him out of his funk, for sure. Dunkin’ is the reason why he has the life he has today. Let’s leave it with that.
Priyanka Aribindi: I know he’s married to Jennifer fucking Lopez. And thanks to Dunkin’, that was WAD Money, for legal purposes we have to say that our business and stock trading advice is bad, so uh maybe don’t take us on our word here.
Juanita Tolliver: Don’t listen to us y’all. We talk a good game, but it ain’t what it is. [laughing]
Priyanka Aribindi: I have not looked at a single number preparing for this segment, so yeah. [laughter] [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Run on Dunkin’ and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just instructions on how to spell bananas like me [laughter], What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi and–
[spoken together] And congrats on the gig Ben Affleck.
Juanita Tolliver: I feel like Dunkin’ should be sponsoring us at this point. [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. I want. I want a huge iced coffee.
Juanita Tolliver: Get Priyanka a new sippy cup from Dunkin’ please.
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. [music break] 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 Jon Millstein and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.