In This Episode
- Hurricane Idalia made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast yesterday morning and wreaked havoc in its wake. So far, it has left at least two people dead and caused major flooding and destruction.
- A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that Rudy Giuliani is liable in a defamation lawsuit brought by two Georgia election workers. They say their lives were upended after being targeted by Giuliani and Donald Trump after the 2020 election.
- And in headlines: Narcan will soon be available over the counter in the U.S., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to freeze in front of reporters, and flight attendants at American Airlines voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike.
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, August 31st. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What A Day where the size of our show is always as promised.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Unlike Burger King’s, which is being sued for misrepresenting the size of the Whopper.
Juanita Tolliver: I promise, size does matter. [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: I think we were all thinking it. I was going to say get our mind out of the gutter, but, like, it would just be impossible.
Juanita Tolliver: No, nope.
Priyanka Aribindi: Not a realistic expectation. [laughter] [music break]
Juanita Tolliver: On today’s show, Rudy Giuliani is going to court for defaming election workers in Georgia. Plus, did you see the super blue moon last night? Hope you did.
Priyanka Aribindi: But first, yesterday morning, Hurricane Idalia made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast and wreaked havoc in its wake. Take a listen.
[clip of Jacksonville resident interviewed by First Coast News] Unfortunately, this is not our first rodeo. This is the third year in a row that we have had trees and or limbs fall on our house. So when you hear that sound the first time, it’s something that you never, never forget.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is one woman in Jacksonville interviewed by First Coast News about her home, which was crushed by a fallen tree.
Juanita Tolliver: Sounds really traumatic.
Priyanka Aribindi: Seriously. The catastrophic Category three storm created winds up to 125 miles per hour. It was the strongest storm to hit this part of the Gulf Coast in over 125 years. So far, it has left at least two people dead, major flooding and destruction in its wake, and over 390,000 customers without power in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, this is going to be a heavy cleanup project and I hope people can stay safe out there. But it made landfall yesterday morning. Where is the storm right now?
Priyanka Aribindi: So we are recording this at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday night. But by yesterday afternoon, Idalia had weakened to a tropical storm as it moved over southeast Georgia. It will continue to weaken as it moves to the east, but the rain was still very heavy. Winds were up to 70 miles per hour. So nothing to play around with. The storm surge warnings in Florida have been discontinued, but as of our recording time, Georgia and South Carolina are still under tropical storm warnings. And along the Carolina coast, there are reported surges as high as five feet.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh, my gosh. And we know surges cause not only the most damage, but also the threat to human life. So please don’t try to drive through this stuff y’all.
Priyanka Aribindi: No.
Juanita Tolliver: Also, what has the government’s response been so far?
Priyanka Aribindi: The federal government has moved very quickly and preemptively on this. Take a listen to President Biden speaking yesterday.
[clip of President Joe Biden] Early Monday morning, long before the storm made landfall. I spoke with Governor DeSantis and approved an early request for emergency declaration to enable him to have the full support ahead of time to protect the people’s lives in the state of Florida. I, we surged personnel to Florida to help the state move people quickly to safety and out of the danger zone and to help the governor and his team to the greatest degree possible in advance of the hurricane’s arrival.
Priyanka Aribindi: It is very nice to have a president who–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: –will not withhold federal resources from governors who have a differing political ideologies from them. In this case, President Biden preemptively wanted to give Florida and Governor Ron DeSantis access to the resources the state will need to recover and protect themselves. And the same just will not be true with everybody who tries to get his job.
Juanita Tolliver: And was not true in past years. So it’s like–
Priyanka Aribindi: No!
Juanita Tolliver: We have evidence of this. We have evidence.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So FEMA so far has deployed 1500 responders and 540 search and rescue personnel. And FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell plans to meet with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis today to survey the damage firsthand.
Juanita Tolliver: President Biden also took the opportunity to link this disaster to climate change. Can you talk about that?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So in light of this hurricane and the recent wildfires in Maui, President Biden was quick to attribute this increasing frequency of natural disasters to climate change. Scientists also noted that the warm water in the Gulf of Mexico helped fuel the rapid intensification of the storm. It went from a Category one hurricane in the Gulf all the way up to a Category four overnight on Tuesday and early Wednesday, before it eventually made landfall on Wednesday morning at a Category three. According to Jeff Masters, a meteorologist for Yale Climate Connections, who spoke with NBC News, that kind of rapid intensification is what we can expect with hotter ocean temperatures. And in the past few months, if you’ve been listening to the show, we have been talking basically nonstop about the world’s oceans that are shattering previous temperature records. This is something that will happen with increasing intensity and increasing frequency, which leaves us with not one, but two major issues. The first, of course, are these more intense storms and weather events, and the second is less and less time to warn people before they actually happen and get them to safety.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. So the ocean feeling like a Jacuzzi/hot tub is a very, very bad thing for all of us.
Priyanka Aribindi: Not a good thing at all. No, no, no.
Juanita Tolliver: So we’re also following news out of Trump World. Yesterday, a federal judge ruled that Rudy Giuliani is liable in a defamation lawsuit brought by two Georgia election workers. They say they had their lives upended after being targeted by Giuliani and Donald Trump after the 2020 election. For those who may not remember, weeks after the election was called, Giuliani circulated surveillance video clips of Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss, counting ballots, which he claimed showed proof of fraud. Surprise, surprise, there was absolutely no fraud.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. Okay. Feels like some of us have known this for a very long time. But now that it’s official, it’s nice to see the consequences of his actions catch up with him. So what else do we know about this ruling?
Juanita Tolliver: To put it mildly, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell went in on Giuliani in this decision. She did not hold back. And I’m here for it, this is my favorite type of energy to read. The judge essentially said that Giuliani was playing the victim and that he was only giving lip service when it came to the discovery process. Judge Howell wrote, quote, “Donning a cloak of victimization may play well on a public stage to certain audiences.” Wink, wink. “But in a court of law, this performance has served only to subvert the normal process of discovery.” The order goes on to grant the default judgment that Giuliani is liable and requires Giuliani and his businesses to pay more than $130,000 in attorney fees for Freeman and Moss.
Priyanka Aribindi: That is absolutely the bare minimum here. [laughter] But this man is also–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: –reportedly broke. So we’ll be very curious to see how that goes. But how have Freeman and Moss reacted to this court decision and what is Giuliani had to say about it also?
Juanita Tolliver: In a statement, the mother and daughter called the ruling a, quote, “sweeping victory.” And they said that they were, quote, “smeared for purely political reasons and the people responsible can and should be held accountable.” They also emphasized the impact that all of this has had on their lives, noting that, quote, “The fight to rebuild our reputations and to repair the damage to our lives is not over. But today we’re one step closer, and for that we are grateful.” Naturally, Giuliani’s team is calling this a, quote, “weaponization of the justice system,” and called for the decision to be reversed. It’s all giving desperation, especially since Giuliani is hurting for cash, like you said, Priyanka, and he’s struggling to pay his legal fees as well as because he’s facing criminal charges in a different case in Georgia. Giuliani’s really got to be feeling the walls closing in on him at this point.
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, absolutely, that’s exactly what is happening. So what happens next in this case?
Juanita Tolliver: Well, now that Giuliani has been found liable, this case will go to trial for a jury to decide whether Giuliani will be required to pay more in damages for making these false statements. The trial will happen in Washington, but a trial start date has not been set yet. We’ll definitely keep you posted as we get more information. But that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: Abortion rights activists in Ohio are suing Republicans over their attempt to add misleading language to a ballot referendum that’s aimed at protecting abortion access in the state. For context, Ohioans are set to go to the polls this November to vote on issue one, a measure that would enshrine the right to an abortion in a state’s constitution. However, on Monday, Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against the state’s GOP led ballot board. In the measures summary they are accused of switching out the term fetus for unborn child, a term that is often used by anti-abortion advocates, that was not in the original amendment. The board also changed the phrase, quote, “Abortion may be prohibited after fetal viability.” To say that the amendment would allow, quote, “abortion on demand up to the moment of birth,” which is–
Juanita Tolliver: What he actual fuck.
Priyanka Aribindi: –very different thing. Take a listen to Lauren Blauvelt, co-chair of Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights. She spoke to NBC4 Columbus on the new language proposed by Republicans.
[clip of Lauren Blauvelt] The whole summary from top to bottom is deceptive. It’s written as anti-choice propaganda. Voting yes on issue one is the only way to protect abortion access from government interference.
Priyanka Aribindi: Ohioans United is asking the state Supreme Court to order the ballot board to, quote, “adopt ballot language that properly and lawfully describes the amendment before voters head to the polls later this year.” The referendum vote is slated for November 9th.
Juanita Tolliver: Narcan, the lifesaving medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, will soon be available over the counter in the U.S.. Emergent Biosolutions, the company that makes Narcan, said yesterday that their product is en route to major retailers like CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart, and that some customers may even be able to order Narcan online as soon as this week. This comes after the FDA approved the initiative back in March authorizing the sale of Narcan pretty much anywhere. People were already able to buy Narcan before that, but different states had different rules about how to get it, and most pharmacies didn’t carry it in stores. While the FDA’s move to make Narcan more accessible has been hailed by harm reduction advocates, the drug’s price could be a sore spot for some. A box of Narcan, which contains two doses of the lifesaving drug, costs about $45. But just having the drug on store shelves still has the potential to save lives. Overdoses are the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S., having killed more than 100,000 people in 2021 alone. Fentanyl, a notoriously strong synthetic opioid, was linked to more than 70,000 of those deaths.
Priyanka Aribindi: Oops, he did it again. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to freeze in front of a group of reporters in Covington, Kentucky, on Wednesday. This is not the first time that this has happened. Take a listen.
[clip of unidentified reporter] [indistinct mumbling] running for reelection in 2026? [indistinct mumbling] [long pause]
[clip of unidentified aide in McConnell’s team] Did you hear the question, Senator? Running for reelection in 2026?
Juanita Tolliver: Yikes, yikes, yikes.
Priyanka Aribindi: Hard to listen to. He continued to stay silent. And when he reengaged, he briefly answered two other questions, both of which needed to be repeated to him by his aide. One of McConnell’s spokespeople said afterwards that, quote, “Leader McConnell felt momentarily lightheaded and paused during his press conference today.” The episode reignited calls from both sides of the aisle for term limits on aging and potentially ailing members of Congress. Listen, it is not our job to hypothesize about what is going on. We will not be doing that. But–
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: There is something happening here. He should be able to rest and recuperate. And should he be doing that while he is in this office? I don’t know if that is doing a service to his constituents. That’s all I’ll say.
Juanita Tolliver: It’s not safe in America eh? Canada updated its travel advisory for the United States on Wednesday, warning LGBTQ+ travelers about state and local laws that may put them at risk. The travel advisory page links to advice for queer residents, encouraging them to research and follow the laws of the country they are visiting, quote, “even if they infringe on your human rights.” I mean, I’m not mad at that direct call out because that’s what it is.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yup.
Juanita Tolliver: In June, the Human Rights Campaign, the American LGBTQ advocacy group, declared a state of emergency for queer people living in the U.S. They cited the record breaking wave of legislation that targets the LGBTQ community and increasing hostilities towards them. This year, so far, more than 500 anti LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures. At least 70 of those bills have been enacted.
Priyanka Aribindi: Listen, if this country had any shame like this would be enough to be like, hey, what is going on here? Maybe we shouldn’t be going down this path. But sadly, I don’t think any amount of–
Juanita Tolliver: Nope.
Priyanka Aribindi: –shaming or just even well-intentioned for their own citizens like warnings for people will um cause us to change path. And now to some good labor news as we head into Labor Day weekend. Flight attendants at American Airlines voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. The union representing them said yesterday that more than 99% of their members voted in favor of authorizing a strike. That is–
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: –wild. That is a–
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: –overwhelming understatement there. And union president Julie Hedrick said in a statement, quote, “Today we send a clear message to American Airlines management, we are fired up and ready for a contract.” But it’s not likely that a strike will actually happen. That is because a federal law actually makes it pretty hard for airline unions to walk off the job. And the president and Congress could even jump in to delay or stop a strike. But we love this energy. And let us not forget that pilots at American Airlines just recently approved a new contract that will raise their pay by more than 40% over four years. Let’s do it again with the flight attendants. If the pilots are getting a raise.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Why not the people working on the plane as well.
Juanita Tolliver: Run that back immediately.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. Also in labor news, yesterday, the Biden administration announced a proposal that would make millions of workers in the U.S. eligible for overtime pay. If enacted, the rule by the Labor Department would ensure overtime pay to most salaried workers earning less than about $55,000 a year. That is up from a previous threshold of about $35,000. The proposal would also adjust the salary threshold every three years to stay up to date with rising earnings. And it would also reinstate overtime protections for U.S. territories. Who among us has not been in a very low paying salaried job where you were working well over those 40 hours a week? This is protection for those people. I have been among them. Wish this was there when I was in that spot.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: But you know what? This will be great for people. I really hope this happens.
Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, this is huge. It’s giving Jerry Maguire in the best way. Show me the money. I love it. And finally, if you looked up at the night sky last night, you might have spotted a rare blue supermoon. But if you’re wondering why it wasn’t actually blue, here’s why. A blue moon doesn’t have anything to do with the color of the moon. Instead, it refers to the frequency of a full moon in the span of one month. So because this was the second full moon this month, it was a blue moon. And as for the supermoon bit, that happens when the moon’s orbit is at its closest point to earth and full at the same time. And together you’ve got a rare blue supermoon. The next time you’ll be able to see it won’t be until 2037. But luckily, scientists say the moon will appear full to the naked eye through Friday morning. So get out there. And if you’ve got a telescope, do not ruin this for everybody else. [laughter] But while it’s quite a sight, the close proximity of the moon could raise tides above normal. And yesterday’s blue supermoon happened at the same time as Hurricane Idalia made landfall in Florida. And according to the Associated Press, that means it could make tidal flooding worse, not just in Florida, but in Georgia and South Carolina as well. It’s like, can I get the moon without the gravitational pull? Is there like a way we can arrange that?
Priyanka Aribindi: I just wanted to see a nice bright moon outside, enjoy it and not have to worry about if this beautiful moon is making life worse for millions and millions of people.
Juanita Tolliver: Right.
Priyanka Aribindi: But I guess we can enjoy nothing fully in this world, it’s the lesson that I’m taking away from this.
Juanita Tolliver: Not in this frame of time. Like, I feel like everything’s tinged with another reality bite so yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yup.
Juanita Tolliver: That’s right.
Priyanka Aribindi: Exactly.
Juanita Tolliver: And those are the headlines. [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, make whoppers great again and tell your friends to listen. Oh my God.
Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just Moon news like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
[spoken together] And Canadian gays come and visit us at Crooked. [laughter]
Priyanka Aribindi: We’re all for it.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m gagged.
Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, neither Juanita or I is at the Crooked office, but like, we would love to have you.
Juanita Tolliver: And I feel like we’re not limiting this to Canadian gays. It’s like all the gays come visit us. [laughing].
Priyanka Aribindi: Come one, come all.
Juanita Tolliver: But yes. [laughter] [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our show’s producer is Itxy Quintanilla. Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf are our associate producers and our senior producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.