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April 05, 2021
What A Day
Vaccine Passport To Adventure

In This Episode

  • The MLB is officially moving the All-Star Game out of Georgia after Republicans in the state passed a restrictive voting law. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp insinuated the move amounts to so-called “cancel culture.” And in Texas, big businesses are starting to speak out against a similar voter suppression law there before it’s on the books.
  • The CDC released new guidance for vaccinated Americans on how to safely travel. Plus, “vaccine passports” are emerging as a major flashpoint for both politics and privacy. We explain.
  • And in headlines: Chicago Police will release video of an officer fatally shooting a 13-year-old boy, major wastewater leak in Florida, and VP Harris moves into the VP residence.

 

Transcript

 

Akilah Hughes: It’s Monday, April 5th. I’m Akilah Hughes.

 

Gideon Resnick: And I’m Gideon Resnick, and this is What A Day, the official podcast of whoever wins March Madness.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah, we’re already wearing the Stanford merch for the ladies, so we’re just going to wait to see what’s going on with the men.

 

Gideon Resnick: I have bought tons of Gonzaga and Baylor merch, and some of it needs to be returned.

 

Akilah Hughes: On today’s show, travel updates for vaccinated Americans, and the contentious idea of vaccine passports, then some headlines.

 

Gideon Resnick: But first, the latest:

 

[clip of Gov. Brian Kemp] Secure, accessible, fair elections are worth the threats. They are worth the boycott as well as the lawsuits.

 

Akilah Hughes: OK, well, that was Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, on Saturday, repeating the lie that there were shenanigans at play in November’s election. For the 900th time, your party was just not popular this go around, and you got fewer votes because the shit you’re trying is not working. But in true loser form, Kemp is doubling down on his party’s unpopular policies and defending Georgia’s new voter suppression law.

 

Gideon Resnick: What is new there? So we’ve spoken a bit about the battle lines that have been drawn in Georgia over these laws and growing protests by individuals and large corporations. So what is the latest there?

 

Akilah Hughes: Well, Major League Baseball is officially withdrawing the All-Star Game from the state, meaning that Kemp has fumbled the bag to the tune of about 100 million dollars in money that the event could have brought to the state. And after Delta’s CEO spoke out about the new legislation, Georgia’s GOP-led House voted down a jet-fuel tax break that would have benefited the company. The state Senate ignored the bill for now so it’s not a law yet, but it is kind of funny because the only way to get Republicans to care about the planet that they live on is out of spite for being called out for their anti-democratic racism. But it’s also just important to note the lengths to which the GOP is willing to go to silence or cancel these companies because they’re not sitting silently watching the GOP cancel democracy.

 

Gideon Resnick: Mm hmm. And to your point, Kemp had this press conference on Saturday where he also tried to stoke fears about cancel culture?

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah, there’s that reason that I harped so hard on the two-part episode that other daily news podcast, but let’s just go ahead and take a listen to Kemp:.

 

[clip of Gov. Brian Kemp] Cancel culture and partisan activists are coming for your business. They’re coming for your game or event in your hometown.

 

Akilah Hughes: I mean, they’re coming to what? Like, help Americans vote and not be thrown in jail for offering water to people who are just waiting in outside lines because the GOP has shuttered so many poll locations in Black areas. Is that what cancel culture is now? No? It’s just still meaningless. OK, great.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, glad we checked in there. And Stacey Abrams had some words to share about the boycotts, too, right?

 

Akilah Hughes: That’s right. And Abrams has been very outspoken about how a boycott hurts families and jobs, which is absolutely understandable, especially after so much goodwill was sewn through this last election cycle. But she also ultimately said that boycotts are a good thing, and continued to place the blame on the GOP’s legislation, not on corporations who can’t in good conscience make a state that openly undervalues people of color, a lot of money.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, and nationally, big corporations are taking customer threats of boycotts seriously because they’re finally being proactive in states like Texas. What’s happening there?

 

Akilah Hughes: Right now, Republicans in the Lone Star State introduced 49 odd bills to make voting harder. The big one to watch is SB 7, which passed in the state Senate just last week and now heads to the House. But a lot of companies headquartered there have come out to try and kill the bills before they pass. And nationwide, a ton of companies have spoken out against proposed laws elsewhere, including HP, Dow, Under Armour, ViacomCBS and so many more. And all of this is good and helpful, but I’d really like to see them shouting out H.R.1, the federal For the People Act bill, that can overrule some of the more hideous and desperate bills on the state and local level. To find out more about that, head to votesaveamerica.com/forthepeople to get involved. But let’s move on to the pandemic. The latest seems to be all about whether people should start planning that summer vacation. That’s crazy to think about because we’re definitely not out of the woods yet, but according to the CDC, the short of it is: if you’re vaccinated, you’re basically cleared to book that trip. Here’s CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

 

[clip of Dr. Rochelle Walensky] We state that fully-vaccinated people can resume travel to low—at low risk to themselves. For domestic travel, fully-vaccinated people do not need to get a COVID-19 test before or after travel, and do not need to self-quarantine after travel.

 

Akilah Hughes: OK, so my head is spinning because officials are also worried about us being on the cusp of another surge. That’s partly because of the variants out there. So what am I supposed to believe?

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, I mean, we’re in a strange moment where we have to believe both, I guess, at the same time.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah. Totally. I mean, listen, I’m going to listen to science even when the science is everything.

 

Gideon Resnick: Right, exactly. And so to that point, you know, almost a third of Americans have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine at this point, according to the CDC. But it does feel like, yeah, they are trying to communicate these safe rules for Americans who are vaccinated, while not creating more problems for the majority that still aren’t just yet. Especially to your point, while the surge might be on the horizon. Travelers to that point should still wear masks and practice social distancing, for example—kudos to you if you can figure that out at an airport where a lot of other people are going to be. But if you are vaccinated and you travel internationally, you have to have a negative test result before coming back home, and a few days afterwards, too. But here’s the kicker to all of this: the recommendation overall is still to not travel unless it’s essential. Maybe a little bit confusing there, but already we’re seeing air travel go up, so it seems like a best effort from the CDC to tell people how to do it safely if they’re just going to do it regardless.

 

Akilah Hughes: I mean, I feel like vacations seem to be essential at this point.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yes.

 

Akilah Hughes: But, you know what? Fine. I will do my best to stay home. Part of the challenge is that this info about the virus and vaccines keeps evolving over time. And scientists don’t know with 100% certainty that vaccinated people can never spread the virus. So, you know, things are still ebbing and flowing.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, that’s right. And there was some back and forth on this very point. Here’s Walensky again on Rachel Maddow last week:

 

[clip of Dr. Rochelle Walensky] Our data from the CDC today suggests, you know, that that vaccinated people do not carry the virus, don’t get sick.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah. So that little part of this, some took that to mean that vaccines offered total protection against transmission. But shortly after it, a CDC spokesperson qualified it to The New York Times, saying in part, quote “he evidence isn’t clear whether they can spread the virus to others.” So long story short, even experts are often in uncharted waters during the pandemic, and trying to respond and speak clearly as things evolve.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah, so when people start traveling, or even just doing things close to home, like going to a concert, some officials are trying out this thing called vaccine passports. What’s that about?

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, it’s basically a system where you can prove that you have been vaccinated, clearing you to board that international flight or get past the bouncer to get your G&T or whatever it is that you’re rocking with. Israel is using them. The UK is piloting something similar. And New York State debuted its own last Friday with the idea that very soon you could go to a game at Madison Square Garden by flashing your ticket and a vaccine passport on your smartphone. And the federal government is trying to develop standards throughout all of this. It all sounds great on paper at least.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah, there’s a catch, though, Gideon. You know, why is this idea not really a golden ticket for people?

 

Gideon Resnick: There are a lot of reasons. But, you know, as we try to get back to normal, vaccine passwords are going to be a major flashpoint. First, there are concerns about creating a kind of two-tiered society, or making our two-tiered society even worse, of the wealthier jet-setting crew living large while most people in the US and around the world still don’t have access to a vaccine. Then there’s the politicizing of it. For example, Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order last Friday that banned businesses in the state from asking that customers show proof of vaccinations. He talked about them being a, quote “violation of freedom,” but also of privacy. Mississippi’s Republican governor also pushed back on the idea.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah, and that part about privacy is what makes the push back against these passports interesting. It’s more than your just, you know, regular Biden-hating conservatives that are side-eying the idea of these passports, right?

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, exactly. The ACLU told CNN that if the passports are digital only, for instance, they’ll exclude people who don’t have a smartphone—think of elderly parents or grandparents who still don’t know what an emoji is, or people who just can’t afford one. Plus, the organization is worried about people’s privacy and the sensitive health info being stored in an online database. And then some health professionals are worried about this as well. The head of the American Public Health Association told Stat News that vaccine passports could make inequities worse, politicize the vaccination process and more. Now on top of that, even some local music venues are skeptical. A rep from the National Independent Venues Association which represents venues around the country, also told Stat News that they were worried about the costs of implementing these kinds of checks at the door. So at this moment, vaccine passports aren’t your backstage pass just yet. We’ll stay on the story, and I guess try to help you find out what the new normal might be as you try to plan your summer. But that is the way it is for now.

 

Akilah Hughes: It’s Monday, WAD squad. And for today’s temp check, we’re talking about cartoons playing sports. The trailer for “Space Jam: A New Legacy” dropped this weekend and there was a lot going on in it. From toon LeBron to evil cyber Don Cheadle, to hundreds of characters from the extended Warner media universe—it seems like they went all out. The movie comes out July 16th. So Giddy, you saw the trailer, what was your reaction?

 

Gideon Resnick: Why are The Clockwork Orange guys?

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah, that was number one for me. I thought it was somebody trolling when I first saw the screenshot. And then it was also so quick in the trailer that I missed it. But then I did, like, pause. They’re definitely there.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah. Like, they’re watching a basketball game. And Pennywise is there too. Like tha—

 

Akilah Hughes: They should be in jail. [laughs]

 

Gideon Resnick: Right. They should be in jail. And if we are, if we’re the toon squad trying to win a game, I feel like that messes up my priorities a lot. Like my priorities immediately, like there is a murderous clown on the side of the game, like, let’s pause this basketball game—

 

Akilah Hughes: Like unless they’re rooting for you, then I guess, like, let him use his magic scariness to, like, kill the other team. [laughs] I don’t really know. I’m losing the thread a little, you know.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah. I just, it would totally, you know, throw off my jump shot in this situation. Like, I would want to know, you know, why this murderer’s row of literal murderers is at this game, before we proceed.

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah, they’re sitting, they have really good seats, too. Like, it’s weird that they’re right on the court. Like, you think that they wouldn’t be making that much money with all the horrible things they do. But somehow they have found the funds to see this very high-profile basketball game.

 

Gideon Resnick: Penny Wise had a great pension. I think that’s what the moral of this—

 

Akilah Hughes: Exactly.  You know, it looks like killing pays for him.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, but same question. Akilah, how did you feel about this trailer?

 

Akilah Hughes: Oh, I loved it. I mean, for me, it was the slowed down theme song that was so good. Like, I was like, that’s a bob—they absolutely did justice to the original. I’m going to like, come on and slam and welcome to the Jam personally, I loved the jerseys. Like I’m ready for that merch to officially drop, because I was deep in the toon squad merch back in the day, and I’m ready to just rehash it. Yeah. Toon LeBron was a surprise. I was wondering if that was just like a thing that happened because of the pandemic. But generally speaking it seemed good. Oh, one note—I don’t know why the bad guys team, since they’re not the mon-stars anymore, they’re now the goon squad. It’s a little too close. You know, it needs to be different enough. It’s not like there’s a team called the Cavaliers and like the Scavaliers, you know.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yes. Not yet.

 

Akilah Hughes: [laughs They wouldn’t do that in real basketball, and I think that LeBron should have requested, like: look, I’ll play this basketball game with a bunch of cartoons, but you guys are going to have to get a better, better name going. Also, who they? There was no, no clue who they were. And I definitely just want, I want more intel on the soundtrack. I need to know if we’re going to have these ballads, these hits, because still one of the best soundtracks of all time. But just like that, we have checked our temps. Stay safe. You know, if you’re going to be at a Space Jam basketball game, just, you know, be vigilant. It’s like some seedy characters out there. And we’ll be back after some ads.

 

[ad break]

 

Akilah Hughes: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.

 

[sung] Headlines.

 

Gideon Resnick: The Chicago Police Department announced it’ll be releasing body camera footage of an officer fatally shooting a teenage boy in a predominantly Latino neighborhood. Last Monday, an off-duty officer responding to a nearby call, shot and killed 13 year-old Adam Toledo. The boy’s family wasn’t notified until two days later. The officer is currently on administrative leave for 30 days. And initially, the police department’s oversight board refused to release the video, arguing that they legally couldn’t because the victim was under age. But after challenges from legal experts and calls for its release by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and others, the board reversed its decision. Adam was the third person to be shot by Chicago police within a week.

 

Akilah Hughes: He’s Florida declared a state of emergency in three counties over the weekend as a reservoir with over 300 million gallons of wastewater continued to leak. The leak was first reported late last month at a Tampa Bay reservoir connected to a former phosphate mine. At that point, it was leaking at a rate of two to three million gallons a day. Work crews have been manually draining millions of gallons of contaminated water into the bay to keep the wall of the reservoir from breaking. If the wall is breached, officials warn that it could result in a 20-foot wall of water crashing into residential areas. As of recording, over 300 homes are under mandatory evacuation. Environmental protection groups say a breach could lead to an ecological catastrophe, and that phosphate companies should be responsible for disposing their waste in environmentally acceptable ways.

 

Gideon Resnick: Mm hmm. If anyone listening has a “hand truck,” Kamala Harris might need to borrow it. This week, the Vice President is moving into her official residence after spending the first 2 1/2 months of her term in temporary housing at the President’s guest quarters. That delay was necessary because the vice president’s mansion needed repairs following Mike Pence’s departure. Who could say what those repairs were?

 

Akilah Hughes: [laughs] So much bleach.

 

Gideon Resnick: Maybe clear out his antique dolls that came to life, remove the steam engine he plugs in to recharge, convert his rage room into a library, etc.. The list goes on. Actually, though, the repairs included things like refurbishing hardwood floors—you didn’t hear from me, but Pence tore them up looking for ghosts. Harris’s new place is two miles from the White House on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory. Expect crowds of fans outside trying to catch a glimpse of Doug Emhoff gardening in a tank top.

 

Akilah Hughes: I mean, I’ll be there. Add operating a huge boat to the list of things women can’t do without getting harassed. So last month, Egypt’s first female ship captain was briefly blamed for the mess at the Suez Canal, despite being on a different ship at the time hundreds of miles away. Rumors that Marwa Selehdar caused the crash circulated on social media, spurred on by a fake newspaper screenshot. It’s worth noting that women only account for 2% of the world’s seafarers. The ocean is an extremely male-dominated space, except for Ursula from the Little Mermaid and Sea Horses—which are both moms and dads. As far as who actually caused the incident at the Suez Canal, two investigations are currently underway: one by Panama and the other by Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority. The ship’s owners and its insurers could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to the ship, damage to the canal, and loss of other ships’ revenue due to delays. Honestly, based on the mileage everyone got out of the story, I feel like we need to start a GoFundMe.

 

Gideon Resnick: Yeah, one dollar for every meme posted. It’s only fair.

 

Akilah Hughes: That’s right. You know, they “ever gave” us those memes, and we’re going to “ever give” back to them. Those are the headlines.

 

Gideon Resnick: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, c’mon and jam and welcome to the slam, and tell your friends listen.

 

Akilah Hughes: And if you’re into reading, and not haunted books from the 1800s that somehow mention Mike Pence 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 good luck on the move, VP Harris!

 

Akilah Hughes: Yeah, I hope that you have a really easy go of it and if not, you can buy pizza for your friends who are helping him.

 

Gideon Resnick: Mm hmm. Just be careful with the box that says fragile. That’s, I’m not always, so . . .

 

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 is our assistant producer.

 

Gideon Resnick: Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producers are Katie Long, Akilah Hughes and me.

 

Akilah Hughes: Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.

 

What A Day