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November 03, 2022
What A Day
True Crime Rates

In This Episode

  • In the run-up to the midterm elections, Republicans have made crime a central issue in their attacks against Democrats. But the fear tactics aren’t backed up by facts.
  • North Korea tried to launch a powerful long-range missile on Thursday, following an intense volley of short-range missile tests earlier this week. And with tensions already high in the region, there’s concern that North Korea may attempt a nuclear weapons test.
  • And in headlines: former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan was shot and wounded during a protest rally, U.S. Embassy officials met with Brittney Griner in Russia, and tens of thousands of student workers across the University of California system voted to authorize a strike.

 

Show Notes:

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, November 4th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice and this is What A Day reminding you that if you never turn the clock on your microwave forward for daylight saving, you don’t have to turn it back this weekend. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You’re still lazy, though. I’m just– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –Gonna call it. [laugh]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: But I get it. Sometimes. You just like to do some calculations in the middle of the day. Keeps your brain fresh. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, that’s a good point. Mm hmm. It’s a mental exercise. [music break] On today’s show, US embassy officials met with jailed basketball star Brittney Griner in Russia. Plus, Elon Musk paved up his Hyperloop Project and put up a parking lot. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: But first, as you may have heard, the midterms are coming up in less than a week. On Tuesday, Democrats will face an uphill battle in the fight to retain congressional power. And Republicans have been pulling out all sorts of messaging tactics in this election. Everything from trans kids are playing sports, to Democrats are groomers, to book bans are actually cool, to a perennial favorite, crime is up and it is the Democrats fault. So we thought today we’d talk a little bit about that claim. Is it true that crime is up? How do we know and what is the cause? So first of all, I want to say that while Republicans have mostly been running on this claim, the data shows that people across the political spectrum are concerned about crime and public safety. Republican voters tend to rank it higher on their list of priorities, but they aren’t the only ones who believe that crime is skyrocketing because of Democratic policies. But as you may not be surprised to hear, this is extremely, extremely, extremely not the case. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Of course, it isn’t Josie. Okay. So let’s first talk about that first part. You said that it’s not the case that crime is skyrocketing. What’s really happening then? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: The bottom line is that compared to the last 50, 60 years, crime is near historic lows. Much of the media, uh primarily Fox News and Fox News adjacent as well as like a lot of local TV news, etc., they’ve all been saying that crime is at an all time high. Right. They’ve been saying this for months and this is objectively false, objectively as far as the national picture goes. There is just no merit to that perspective. In fact, in early October, the FBI released their annual crime data, this was for data from 2021. And what they found was basically inconclusive. They found that some crimes are up. Homicides, for example, increased 4% from 2020. But overall, violent crime is down, but still kind of barely by just about 1%. You know, what we see is a much more nuanced and much less extremist picture than the current narrative would have you believe. It just kind of reflects normal shifts in crime, like those– 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: –Fluctuations happen, right? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. I mean, you know, I’m old enough to remember hearing last year about how crime skyrocketed drastically in 2020. Was that not the case or what was the story there? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So it is true that between the end of 2019 and the end of 2020, some crimes rose significantly. So there was a significant increase in murders. It was the biggest one year increase since 1960. But yet, let me be very clear about what that means. Right. So even with that increase, the number of homicides was still well below what we saw in the 1990s, the early 2000s. It is absolutely tragic that more people died, of course, and we don’t want to play down the enormous harm caused by such loss. But perspective is important. And when we say the biggest one year increase, you know, that only takes into account 2019 and 2020. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: But when you look at the bigger picture, we’re still near historical lows, you know, and when we see things like biggest one year increase, what people hear is the biggest number, the biggest amount, the biggest per capita. And the truth is like that’s not what that number means, right? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. Yeah. Okay. So tell us why crime has become such a talking point. For a while criminal justice reform was a real bipartisan issue. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But now we’re seeing candidates, mainly Republicans, claim that crime is skyrocketing because Democrats are too soft on crime, both of which just aren’t true. Tell us what happened there. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, you know, I think the simple answer here is really the true one, right? It’s like this because of politics. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And it’s also like this because of national attention around race. Look, Republicans have been running on tough on crime policy for decades. Like this is what they do. Right. As have Democrats, by the way. But at least Democrats have gotten a bit more progressive on the issue over the past few years. But, you know, traditionally, like telling voters that your opponent is making them more unsafe, it’s a very salient political message. It works. You can scare people into voting for your side. And this is basically the message that created mass incarceration. Right. That led to millions of people in prison every year. And after the George Floyd protests of 2020, Republicans have really weaponized criminal justice reform to get votes. They’ve really, really weaponized what was a fight against state and police violence and made it seem like it is driving a national crime increase. You know, if you pick a random Republican candidate running right now, I mean, you’ve seen the commercials. We’ve talked about them. Right. If you ask pretty much any Republican candidate, they’re going to tell you that crime is up because Democrats defunded the police. That couldn’t be less true. The 2020 rise in crime. First of all, it happened everywhere. Red and blue states and cities, rural, urban, white, Black. Like it’s not just a democratic area phenomenon, but it’s also true that police budgets have largely increased since 2020. We have done the opposite of defunding the police and yet that narrative persists. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, you mentioned those political ads. I’ve been seeing so many of them in these, you know, few days leading up to the election. And many of them say this exact same narrative here. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: So what exactly did cause the rise in crime? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, it’s a really good question. And the truth is that crime is a complicated term, right? It’s a result of many different social factors. It can’t be simplified into an easy cause and effect narrative. Different things cause different crimes. Different neighborhoods are driven by different things, but at least it’s actually normally more complicated than what we saw in 2020. Right? Because in 2020, there was a pretty clear reason that crime shifted. What do you think it was? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You know, I’m just going to make a guess that– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –That thing we call miss funky covidina had something to do with it? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Funky covidina is the culprit. We know what happened, right? We all experienced an unprecedented, traumatic, ground shifting event as a country, as a world. And it caused a lot of uncertainty and instability. And instability is a real contributor to quote unquote, “crime”. Right. And the pandemic made everyone unstable. You know, people lost jobs. They suddenly had to homeschool. They didn’t have an income. People suffering from domestic abuse were trapped with their abusers. You know, we all felt scared and isolated. And I can say it was a year unlike any I had experienced. You know, it was a major upheaval. And so there’s absolutely just no way it didn’t have a marked impact on the increase in crime rates. But that’s not what’s getting blamed, right? Because that’s not convenient politically. There’s just one other thing I want to say about this narrative of skyrocketing crime. You know, if Republican politicians were actually concerned about ending crime, they’d focus on preventing it, not just punishing it. Right. They’d invest in the front end tools and policies, they’d invest in schools, they’d invest in social services, they’d invest in a higher minimum wage. But it seems like the only thing many politicians on the right especially are willing to invest in is more cops and more prisons. And it’s just more evidence, of course, that this political weaponization is not exactly in good faith. And that solving the problem isn’t the priority of the Republican politicians who continue to wring their hands. We know how to solve crime. We know how to solve crime. But it takes investment that both political parties, but especially one, really don’t like to make. And so the question is, if they really care about this, what are they willing to do about it? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: These are great questions. Josie these are great questions. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: They don’t answer me, though. They don’t answer me. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Of course they don’t. Thank you for that. Now on to an international story about folks playing around with missiles. And by playing around, I mean seemingly preparing for an attack of some sort. And no FYI, this is not about Russia or Ukraine. So on Thursday, North Korea tried to fire an intercontinental ballistic missile toward Japan. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Oh, boy. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: The tests failed mid-flight, sending the missile splashing into the Sea of Japan, but not before triggering Japan’s security systems and air raid alarms. This came just a day after their previous test on Wednesday, in which North Korea fired at least 23 short range missiles off its East and West coasts, one of which landed about 100 miles from a South Korean island. It was North Korea’s largest deployment ever in a single day. So now the entire region is on alert. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Okay. So before we get into exactly why all of this is happening, can we backtrack a little, intercontinental ballistic missile? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Sounds kind of like a, you know, music group. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Like a punk rock band, maybe. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, but I don’t think it’s a punk rock band. I don’t think that’s what you’re talking about. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, no, it is not. So an intercontinental ballistic missile or ICBM is sort of what it sounds like. It’s a missile that can go a very long distance, and particularly here potentially across continents. They’re designed to carry nuclear weapons and drop them on whatever the designated target is. The only countries that have operational ICBMs right now are Russia, the United States, China, France, India, the U.K. and, of course, North Korea. Now, even though this test from North Korea was a failure, it’s evidence that North Korea is making progress with their weapons of mass destruction because back in March, a missile exploded shortly after taking off. Right. And now at least this latest failure, the missile has kind of you know, it had a longer trajectory before it you know went into the Sea of Japan. Also last month, we mentioned on the show a successful test launch of a missile that theoretically could have reached the U.S. territory of Guam. And so they’re doing the tinkering that they need to do behind the scenes, right. To be able to launch these weapons against whoever they want, whenever they’re ready. Now, Japan’s prime minister described this latest launch as, quote, “a violent action” and said that they, quote, “will not be permissible.” 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: That kind of like leads me to a question I have, which is like all of this really seems to be an aggressive move on behalf of North Korea. They’re essentially taunting Japan and other countries like why? Why are they doing this? Why right now? Why this way? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So tensions have been rising around the Korean Peninsula for a few months now. And a quick geography lesson. Japan is right off the east coast of North and South Korea. So it’s in this region. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Got it.

 

Tre’vell Anderson: North Korea has basically said that its actions are in response to, quote unquote, “provocations by its neighbors” and by provocation. North Korea is actually talking about military drills that the three countries have been doing recently in the region. One of those drills, which started earlier this week between South Korean and the United States militaries, is actually an annual training exercise. Right. And so it’s not the attack or the the threat that North Korea is making it seem to be. This is something that South Korea and the United States have done, you know, for years at this point. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And according to experts, North Korea is kind of deliberately ramping up tensions with its neighbors, possibly building to something bigger, such as a nuclear test or a full long range ballistic missile test out into the Pacific or both. And they say all of this has a political objective, largely because it follows a pattern that North Korea’s leadership has already used, both in 2010 and 2017, in which they ramp up tensions to a frightening level. And then they call for engagement and concessions from South Korea, Japan, and the United States. It’s also been stated that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un you know might be feeling his olds and feeling froggy, if you know what I mean. Largely because, you know, his BFF, Vladimir Putin and Russia have been throwing their nuclear threats around all willy nilly. And– 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –So the experts are saying that like it’s emboldening Kim Jong-un and North Korea to not only continue shoring up their weapons of mass destruction, but like testing them and shooting them in the direction of their neighboring countries. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And on that note, the United States said on Wednesday that North Korea has been secretly sending weapons to Russia to help them in the war against Ukraine. And so there’s not really a good picture at all when it comes to this nuclear weapon discussion in that region of the world. It’s not a good picture at all. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: No, it’s really not. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And so, of course, we will keep an eye on this story and keep you updated on its various developments. But that’s the latest for now. [music break] Let’s get to some headlines. 

 

[sung] Headlines. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Imran Khan, the former prime minister of Pakistan, was shot on Thursday in what his allies believe was a politically motivated assassination attempt. Khan was leading a protest march on the way to the country’s capital of Islamabad, as part of his campaign to regain power when a man opened fire on his convoy. Khan was hit in the leg but is said to be in stable condition, though one person was killed and at least nine other people were injured in the attack. A suspect was arrested at the scene. Khan was forced out of office back in April after a no confidence vote. He has since staged numerous rallies, claiming that his successor and the United States both conspired to remove him from power. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: U.S. embassy officials in Moscow Thursday met with Brittney Griner at the Russian prison where she’s being held. It was the first time American diplomats have seen the WNBA star since she was sentenced to nine and a half years behind bars on drug charges in early August. A State Department spokesperson tweeted after the meeting that those officials, quote, “saw firsthand her tenacity and perseverance despite her present circumstances.” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that freeing Griner and other detained Americans continues to be a top priority. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Tens of thousands of student workers across the ten campus University of California system overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike on Wednesday to demand higher wages and better working conditions. Those workers include graduate students, teaching assistants, and postdocs. They could walk off the job as early as November 14th, just before finals season. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: The neck breaking speed that our culture forgives men who did terrible things was put on display Thursday when Johnny Depp was revealed to be a surprise guest in Rihanna’s annual Savage Fenty fashion show, which will stream on Amazon Prime. Depp’s spotlight moment follows his defamation trial against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, who accused him of abuse. The jury partially sided with Depp and he was awarded over $10 million dollars, but he was still charged with a single count of defamation. The actor actually filed to appeal that court decision on Wednesday, and this won’t be his first time back on a stage. Hollywood welcomed Depp back with open arms back in August when he appeared onstage at the VMAs dressed as an astronaut. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You know. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mmm. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: We don’t really talk too negatively about a one Rihanna. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Um. However. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: In this particular situation, I need to know what’s going on. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: What is– 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Did she bump her head? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: –going on? Why ? 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Maybe she doesn’t know. You know I don’t know–

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. Like–

 

Tre’vell Anderson: –what’s going on here. [laughing]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I hope she’s listening. If you want to know more about what’s up, just ask us. We are here for you. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Just ask us. My Lord. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Truly. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And we need to talk about the troubling trend of absentee tech CEOs, as Elon Musk annoys the whole world with his new toy Twitter, the first prototype of one of his earlier ideas, the Hyperloop has been demolished in California. The underground tunnel will be replaced with a parking lot for SpaceX employees. And if you want to understand why this is kind of juicy, you have to know a little bit about the history of the Hyperloop. Musk described it as a way to revolutionize travel, which would transport people from L.A. to San Francisco in 30 minutes. But after years of hyping the technology, all he’s built is a mile long tunnel that Teslas can drive through. Twitter employees would probably prefer it if Musk focused more on his tunnels. Layoffs at the company started Friday morning, and The New York Times reported that 50% of them are set to lose their jobs. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Wow. That’s an enormous number of employees. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, that’s like over 3000, 3500 people. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And it’s really unfortunate. I mean, we knew that Elon was going to, for lack of a better word, shake things up. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But this is horrible. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: He and a few others are supposed to be the kings of the economy, and here they are coming in and firing thousands of people. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I have questions. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Don’t we all? 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: And those are the headlines. We’ll be back after some ads to look at how the world is mourning a beloved 3D elf. 

 

[AD BREAK]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Friday, WAD squad. And for today’s temp check, we’re discussing the harmful environmental effects of everyone in the world reading one book. A memorial to a Harry Potter character on a beach in Wales is reportedly contributing to pollution. The character is Dobby, the house elf and the memorial site is at a filming location where he dies in the movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part one. For years, Harry Potter fans have left painted pebbles at the site as well as socks since receiving a sock from his former master is what allowed Dobby to be free in the books. Environmental officials had considered tearing down the memorial entirely over concerns that it could harm the beaches ecosystem. But last week they changed course and issued a release simply asking fans to stop leaving a bunch of foolishness there. So Josie, what is your take on this situation? I know you have thoughts. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: I have so many thoughts, including the entire point of this book is a.) It’s made up and b.), giving the elf a sock. It’s ridiculous that this is the system. This is bad. The, a house elf system is like slavery. You’re not supposed to endorse this and keep your socks on. Nobody wants your socks. And that is a rule. I hope everybody listening [laugher] never forgets and tells their friends because clearly people don’t know how to act. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You know? I find this to be a weird story, largely because Dobby is not real. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Dobby is not real. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: If this was like a memorial for somebody real and like you felt a connection to their work and you wanted to leave a little, a little gift, you know, for the ancestors. I could let it pass, but this is a fake character. I don’t get it. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: People take things too far. And I would say that is the theme of many episodes of this show. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] Listen, I try not to yuck on people’s yum. Okay. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: But keep your socks on. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: You know. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: Keep your socks on. Go say a little speech for Dobby. Put a stone there. Keep your socks on. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Pour one out for him and keep it going. Okay. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And pour one out for J.K. Rowling while you’re at it, since lots of people are not who they once were. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: Well, you know, you got a point there. And just like that, we’ve checked our temps. They’re colder than Lucius Malfoy’s heart. And I love that for us. [music break]

 

Josie Duffy Rice: One more thing before we go. This is the last weekend before Election Day. And just a reminder, doomscrolling or riding the polar coaster won’t change the outcome on November 8th. But making your plan to vote and helping others do the same, absolutely will. Last month, we saw over 10,000 of you volunteer to get out the vote with VoteSaveAmerica. If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s not too late. Head over to VoteSaveAmerica.com/volunteer now to find opportunities near you. [music break]

 

Tre’vell Anderson: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, keep the Hyperloop alive in your heart and tell your friends to listen. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: And if you’re into reading and not just the Harry Potter books exclusively like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. 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 R.I.P. Dobby. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: But I’m keeping my socks okay. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: See how we managed to do that and also keep our socks on. 

 

Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] It’s possible okay. 

 

Josie Duffy Rice: It’s possible. All of us have experienced grief and kept our socks on. So what is the problem? [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 Jon Millstein and our executive producers are Lita Martinez, Michael Martinez, and Sandy Girard. Production support comes from Leo Duran, Ari Schwartz, and Matt DeGroot. With additional promotional and social support from Ewa Okulate, Julia Beach and Jordan Silver. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.