Can Russia Take Its Foot Off My OPEC? | Crooked Media
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October 05, 2022
What A Day
Can Russia Take Its Foot Off My OPEC?

In This Episode

  • President Biden visited Florida on Wednesday to survey the damage from Hurricane Ian, which has left at least 100 people dead in that state. So far, many of those victims are older adults. Dr. Sue Ann Bell, a disaster researcher at the University of Michigan, tells us why older people are especially vulnerable during natural disasters.
  • The OPEC Plus coalition, led by Russia and Saudi Arabia, said it will cut oil production by 2 million barrels a day, which is expected to push energy prices higher around the world. The move would benefit Russia, and help finance its war against Ukraine.
  • And in headlines: anti-government protests in Iran entered a third week, actor Alec Baldwin agreed to settle with the family of Halyna Hutchins, and longtime lesbian icon Velma Dinkley comes out in the latest Scooby Doo movie.


Show Notes:



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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Thursday, October 6th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What A Day. A podcast once promoted on Dr. Oz’s TV show as the cure for vision loss and vertigo. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, we didn’t ask him to say those things, but I think he just kind of does it by default. 


Juanita Tolliver: Just lies. All right. And again, our apologies to the FDA for not keeping the doctor in check. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, it doesn’t really seem like our job to do, but we do feel bad about it. [music break] On today’s show, women led protests continue in Iran. Plus, actor Alec Baldwin reached a settlement with the family of Halyna Hutchins. 


Juanita Tolliver: But first, yesterday, President Biden visited Florida to survey the damage from Hurricane Ian, which made landfall in the state over a week ago. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That is right. He toured the cities of Fort Myers and Sanibel by helicopter, along with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. And on the ground, the president and first lady Jill Biden met with and comforted local residents who are still reeling from the storm’s impact. 


Juanita Tolliver: As of now, what’s it look like in these areas? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, really not great. So as we go to record the show at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time. At least 100 people are confirmed dead. Rescue crews are still going door to door searching for survivors in the worst hit areas, though there are fears that the death toll could continue to rise in the coming days. So far, it’s likely that Ian was the deadliest hurricane to hit Florida since 1935. After Biden’s motorcade made its way through the devastation, he told reporters at the joint news conference with DeSantis that recovery could take years and will most likely cost tens of billions of dollars. 


Juanita Tolliver: It’s all just so devastating. And I did hear uh reporting that the average age of people confirmed dead is about 71 years old. And that’s just tragic because it shows how vulnerable elderly people are in these crises. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I think that’s actually something that gets a little lost in discussing this disaster and the recovery efforts, specifically with the population in Florida. So over one fifth of Florida residents are over the age of 65. Many of them didn’t have the same ability to evacuate that some others may have and may not have the resources to rebuild. I wanted to hear a little bit more about that specifically. So I spoke with Dr. Sue Ann Bell. She is a disaster researcher at the University of Michigan and a nurse practitioner whose area of expertise is disaster response for older people and people with disabilities. I started by asking her to discuss the challenges of evacuating people. 


Dr. Sue Ann Bell: One challenge is for many groups that have special health needs, they need as much advance notice as they can get to evacuate. But they also might have a number of reasons why evacuation is either not possible or presents specific challenges. And I think one upsetting thing to hear is officials say, like, God help those who stay behind because it really doesn’t think about individuals who you know very well might want to evacuate. So it implies that it’s a choice when quite often that’s not the case itself. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. How could decision makers better support people to help keep them safe? 


Dr. Sue Ann Bell: For decision makers, making those outreach efforts to visit faith based organizations, visit organizations that support older adults to really try to convey that message. There’s actually like a half a century of research around like, risk communication and public warning systems. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Mm hmm. 


Dr. Sue Ann Bell: And one of those key takeaways is that humans are some of the hardest animals on the planet to warn. So that decision making around when to evacuate is a really challenging one to make quite often, because if you decide to make an evacuation order and you do it and the hurricane shifts, then research has shown that in the future people will say, well, I didn’t need to go last time, so I’m not going this time. And so for me, as someone who thinks about um how we can better support older adults, people with disabilities, for me, I would want that evacuation order as soon as possible so that people and their support systems are able to plan. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, definitely. And you have been deployed to a number of other areas affected by major disasters in recent years, like Hurricanes Maria and Irma, some of the wildfires in California. So looking back on those experiences, can you walk us through some of what worked and then what didn’t for older people who were affected by those events? 


Dr. Sue Ann Bell: One of the biggest challenges that I see after a disaster is the disruption in access to health care. Of the many challenges people who have chronic health conditions and specific medical needs that they need to stay safe and healthy and return to their homes or stay in their homes who are not able to meet those health needs because of the disruption of a disaster. Um. And so my role, I’m on a federal disaster response team and I provide health care after disasters. So to try to bridge some of that gap when health care systems are disrupted. But I think for older adults, meeting essential health needs is of critical importance, and that’s where a lot of planning falls short and needs greater attention. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That was my conversation with Dr. Sue Ann Bell. There are some amazing organizations that work specifically to help people with disabilities get the help that they need during disasters like Hurricane Ian. We’ll add a link in our show notes so you can learn more about them. 


Juanita Tolliver: Thanks for that in-depth discussion, Priyanka. Uh. Let’s turn back to this meeting between Biden and DeSantis really quickly. They’re not exactly friendly or chummy with each other. 


Priyanka Aribindi: No they’re not. 


Juanita Tolliver: What more can you tell us about how that went? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, very fair question. DeSantis has been one of the loudest Republican critics of the Biden administration, along with Florida GOP Senator Rick Scott. They have very, very different politics and policy goals than the Biden administration. 


Juanita Tolliver: To say the least. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, in one past administration, that may have meant that Florida would be treated differently in this recovery process. Flashback Donald Trump circa 2018– 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –the California wildfires like threatening to withhold federal funding for disaster relief. That is very much not the case here, though. Biden was joined by DeSantis, Scott and Republican Senator Marco Rubio yesterday. And by all accounts, it was very civil between all of them. Even before his visit, Biden promised to put politics aside as White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre put it. When it comes to the aftermath of this disaster quote, “We are working as one”. And DeSantis really returned the favor. He welcomed the president, shook his hand. And in their joint appearance, he emphasized that they are working together on rescue and recovery efforts. And both of them said that the cooperation had been going well so far. Biden, however, did not miss the opportunity to make one thing abundantly clear: 


[clip of President Joe Biden] There’s a lot going on, and I think the one thing this has finally ended is a discussion about whether or not there’s climate change. We should do something about it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Facts. 


Juanita Tolliver: Name it. Like handclaps for Biden. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yup. 


Juanita Tolliver: I love how he called it out explicitly. And even in that address, he talked about the extreme fires, the extreme droughts, the extreme floods, and the fact that this is not a question. Climate change is real people, and I would love this energy on him. What else happened during this visit? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So Biden spent a lot of time meeting with Florida residents and officials who are involved in this recovery process. He did have a little bit of a hot mic moment in one of these meetings, but it’s very lighthearted and not a big deal, actually very funny. Uh. While talking with Ray Murphy, the mayor of Fort Myers Beach, this is what happened: 


[clip of Mayor Ray Murphy] Thanks for everything. Thanks for coming down. We appreciate it, uh. 


[clip of President Joe Biden] [indistinct] By the way.


[clip of Mayor Ray Murphy] [indistinct] 


[clip of President Joe Biden] Ray, just so you know. 


[clip of Mayor Ray Murphy] [indistinct] 


[clip of President Joe Biden] No one fucks with the Biden. 


[clip of Mayor Ray Murphy] Ehh god damn it. [laughing]


[clip of President Joe Biden] And you can’t argue with your brothers outside the house. 


[clip of Mayor Ray Murphy] That’s exactly right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Might not have caught it there. No one fucks with the Biden is what he said. 


Juanita Tolliver: Come on. Like in the words of Beyoncé. This is big energy, right? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. 


Juanita Tolliver: I love that Biden is keeping it 100. He’s just being real. And I don’t have a single problem with it because he knows the value of the aid and the relief coming from the White House and the fact that he’s responding to any and everything that DeSantis and Floridians need. So I’m like, he’s matching that energy, so continue– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Juanita Tolliver: Carry on. 


Priyanka Aribindi: He’s not being like vindictive or rude about it. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: He and this guy are having like this funny conversation and they’re just like kind of, the guy’s telling him to, like, stay strong and like, get through this. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And he’s like, Yeah, I got this. He’s doing great. 


Juanita Tolliver: I feel reassured. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. 


Juanita Tolliver: And I hope that mayor feels reassured. All right. Let’s turn to some other news we’re following. Just as we’re saying gas prices dropped below a $4 average in the United States. The Opec+ alliance has agreed to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day. That’s about 2% of global oil production. And that’s an ominous sign for consumers worldwide who are already struggling with high energy costs. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. So before we get into that and all the implications, let’s rewind a little. What exactly is OPEC+, can you give us the context that we need here before we dive in? 


Juanita Tolliver: All right. Think of OPEC+ like OPEC and friends, right? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. 


Juanita Tolliver: You know, so it’s a loose alliance of 13 oil producing and exporting nations like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, plus 11 of the world’s major non-OPEC oil exporting nations. So like the B-team of oil, right. That includes Russia and the queen bee of this crew is Saudi Arabia, as they are one of the largest oil exporters in the world, and they possess somewhere around 15% of the world’s petroleum supply. And since the Saudis are extra friendly with Russia, you better believe that Russia stands to benefit from this cut in production. 


Priyanka Aribindi: How exactly will Russia benefit from this drop and why are they doing this right now? 


Juanita Tolliver: Okay, so the decision to cut production will result in an increase in oil prices at a moment when Russia is looking to drive up its oil revenue and to punish countries that are buying less Russian oil because of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Essentially, this is a revenge move for Russia and it’s being supported by the Saudis. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: Russia is not only going to make a lot of coins when this change takes effect, but they’re also going to be in a prime position to make Europeans and Americans and any nation that opposes their invasion suffer under higher energy prices that we all know have been rough since the invasion began and inflation surged. Another important factor here is that while the United States and Europe were sanctioning Russia and reducing oil imports from Russia since the start of the invasion, Saudi Arabia has been quietly tiptoeing and investing in Russian energy companies, and they doubled the amount of oil that they were buying from Russia this summer. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Wow. 


Juanita Tolliver: So the tension has been building and ultimately leading up to this moment, and it’s about to get messy for everyone. As the United States already has strained relations with Saudi Arabia and the U.S. is 100% backing Ukraine as they continue to beat back Russian troops. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. Like that’s obviously not changing. We’ve sent billions of dollars to Ukraine since the start of this war. That’s not stopping. So how has the Biden administration responded to this cut in oil production? 


Juanita Tolliver: Well, thus far, the response has been a clear understanding that this is a harmful move that also shows Saudi Arabia’s support for Russia. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called that out yesterday during a gaggle with the press aboard Air Force One while en route to Florida. 


[clip of Karine Jean-Pierre] It’s clear that OPEC+ is aligning with Russia with today’s announcement. 


Juanita Tolliver: This direct call out also points to increased tension with a nation led by Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, someone whom the CIA has linked to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. And in spite of that, President Biden has already validated him on the global stage when they met back in July to discuss oil supplies. And on top of all of that, we have to add in the fact that before Opec+ voted to cut oil production under Saudi Arabia’s leadership, the U.S. reportedly launched an ill fated pressure campaign to dissuade Middle Eastern allied countries from supporting the production cut. Honestly, we should all be on the lookout for additional actions from the Biden administration as they continue to react to the Saudi Russian alliance. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Got it. Okay. So how will all of this affect the global economy? And not only that, but also, you know, regular people who are still paying a lot at the gas pump, like I think of myself, like I’m still kind of avoiding filling up my tank– 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Aribindi: –because it’s still pretty expensive. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. It’s costly. And globally. Plain and simple. It’s going to hurt, especially in European countries that are already experiencing even greater inflation than the U.S. and that were more dependent on Russian oil prior to the invasion of Ukraine. And as economists are warning that a global recession is near or already here, the increase in energy costs is going to be painful. In the U.S. we should expect that streak of falling gas prices to stop and for prices to reverse course and move in the opposite direction. And that’s bad news for everybody. Like you mentioned, Priyanka, in an effort to limit the impact, though, the president has already directed the Department of Energy to release another 10 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve next month. And the White House is consulting with Congress about additional tools that can reduce OPEC’s control over energy prices. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. And this is all happening. As you know, something big is on its way in November. 


Juanita Tolliver: Just, you know, a tiny election of sorts. And naturally, some Republicans have already hinted that this could be a helpful political nugget ahead of the midterms. But since the production cut won’t take effect until November, Democrats may narrowly avoid a sudden surge in gas prices ahead of the election, though Republicans will try to stoke voter anxiety anyway. Of course, in any event, we’ll keep a close eye on all of this and we’ll have more very soon. But that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. 




Priyanka Aribindi:  Let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Anti-government protests in Iran are now stretching into their third week following the police custody death of 22 year old Mahsa Amini. One human rights group estimated that authorities have killed at least 154 people since the demonstrations began. Adding to the protesters anger this week, reports circulated on social media that a 16 year old had died after taking part in one of those rallies. In Iranian schools, students have been waving their headscarves in the air in demonstrations of support. When Amini was detained last month, she was allegedly violating the country’s rule, requiring women to cover their hair. 


Juanita Tolliver: I can’t believe 154 people, in addition to Amini, have been killed by the government. And it’s really positive to see these kids standing up. The kids are all right. And all my support goes to everyone protesting in Iran. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. 


Juanita Tolliver: Earlier this year, LAPD officer Houston Tipping died during a quote unquote “training accident.” But on Monday, the lawyer representing Tipping’s family claims he was actually beaten to death by a fellow officer. Attorney Brad Gage said around the time that he died, Tipping was investigating a gang rape that was allegedly carried out by four of his colleagues. Gage said that one of the four cops accused of that sexual assault was at the training exercise that left Tipping dead. The LAPD says Tipping fell from a high ledge while grappling with another officer, though, according to the autopsy report, Tipping suffered from a collapsed lung, broken ribs and three fractures to his spinal cord. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I know a lot of this information is coming from his lawyer, so we will be on the lookout for more details. But this isn’t sounding so good. Actor Alec Baldwin on Wednesday agreed to settle with the family of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer who was killed last year on the set of the movie Rust, when Baldwin fired a prop gun. The Hutchins family filed the wrongful death lawsuit against the actor, along with the movie’s production crew after her death. The civil case is set to be dismissed in light of the undisclosed settlement. But it’s possible that criminal charges may be brought against them in the coming months. Filming for Rust is set to restart in January. 


Juanita Tolliver: I can’t believe they’re going to keep going with this movie. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Juanita Tolliver: Okay. Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a new bill into law Tuesday, refusing to give over $100 million dollars in federal funding to the state’s children’s hospital. I got to repeat that, the state’s children’s hospital. Unless they stop providing gender affirming care to trans youth. For context, the state received this federal aid package from the American Rescue Plan Act, a program that’s meant to expand health care access during the pandemic. State lawmakers divvy up the funds to decide who gets what. So basically holding these funds hostage. Stitt, who is up for reelection next month, by the way, has also called for a ban on some gender affirming care for adults statewide. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Listen. There is only one party that kind of holds federal funding hostage– 


Juanita Tolliver: Just one.


Priyanka Aribindi: –For hospitals organizations. Anyone who isn’t doing what they want. And it’s just something to bring to all of your attention. It’s not okay. It’s really terrible that this happened. It’s disgusting. And a follow on the biggest board game scandal since all those wild animals escaped from Jumanji. The 19 year old accused of cheating to beat the world’s chess champion allegedly cheated more than 100 times in online games and as recently as 2020, according to an extensive report from the online platform As you may remember, American grandmaster Hans Niemann was accused of cheating last month after he beat Magnus Carlsen, who is considered by many to be the best player of all time. There is still no concrete evidence of foul play in that match, but people have pointed to Neimann’s history of cheating to suggest that much like the chess piece that is shaped like a horse, he cannot be trusted to stay on the straight and narrow path. In its report, also said that Neimann’s improvement in over the board or offline chess is, quote, “statistically extraordinary and significantly greater than any other player in history,” which raises even more red flags. 


Juanita Tolliver: You know, of all the things to cheat at, I still can’t wrap my mind around trying to cheat a very complicated game like chess. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Cheating methods don’t sound. They sound pretty complicated themselves. 


Juanita Tolliver: Priyanka said go to to find out more information. [laughing] All right. So there’s one less mystery facing the Mystery Squad, because long time LGBTQ+ icon Velma Hinkley [correction: Dinkley] is portrayed unambiguously as a lesbian in the latest installment in the Scooby Doo franchise. The animated film is called Trick or Treat Scooby Doo, and it came out on streaming services this week. Here’s Velma on the show, trying and failing to hide her feelings for a new character named Coco Diablo: 


[clip of Velma Dinkley voice actor] We have our work cut out for us and I am focused like a laser on– [pop sounds] Okay, who am I kidding? I’m crushing big time, Daphne. What do I do? What do I say? 


Juanita Tolliver: I love this so much. She’s losing her mind over this beautiful character named Coco Diablo. I get it. And I’m so thrilled that she’s finally being portrayed as her full queer self. We love to see it. The creative teams behind other recent on screen Velmas have said they tried to write her sexuality into scripts, but got blocked by suits who are clearly more scared of being inclusive than they were of ghosts, ghouls, and goblins. I don’t know– 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Juanita Tolliver: –About you, Priyanka, but my day has been made. Velma finally gets to thrive and Coco Diablo is fly. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Listen, Coco Diablo. Who among us? Like [indistinct] Coco Diablo. I get it. I understand. And very happy for Velma. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yes. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That she can finally express herself. But mostly Coco Diablo. That’s the subject of our interest here. But anyways, those are the headlines. 


Juanita Tolliver: One more thing before we go. Crooked is bringing you the election coverage you love to hate with Crooked radio every weekend in October on Sirius XM Progress and on the Sirius XM app. Join our lineup of podcast hosts, candidates, experts and more, including all of us here on What A Day as we break down the issues that matter going into the midterms. We’ll dive into the conversation shaping our current political climate and give the only 100% correct opinions in politics of course. [laughing] You don’t want to miss this. Subscribe now and get up to four months free of Sirius XM. See offer details at [music break] That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, solve a mystery, and tell your friends to listen. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just explanations of the way different pieces move in chess like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at 


Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver.


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


[spoken together] And don’t touch that Jumanji board. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Not worth it. 


Juanita Tolliver: I like an adventure though. [laughter]


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s been a minute since I’ve seen that film and I think it is a little traumatizing. I feel like the last time I saw it, don’t need to see it again. 


Juanita Tolliver: All right. Don’t touch the board y’all. [music break]


Priyanka Aribindi: 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.