Heatwave Back At It | Crooked Media
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June 30, 2021
What A Day
Heatwave Back At It

In This Episode

  • Intense heat waves in the Pacific Northwest are causing heavy power demands and rolling blackouts. Unprecedented rainfall in the Midwest has caused flooding, which politicians have blamed on a lack of spending on proper infrastructure.
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced a bill to establish a House committee that will investigate the January 6 Capitol riot. The committee will have 13 members, but it’s not known whether Republicans will want to be part of it.
  • And in headlines: L.A. county advises masking indoors again, rare black hole and neutron star collisions are spotted, and the House votes to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol.




Akilah Hughes: It’s Wednesday, June 30th. I’m Akilah Hughes.


Cleo Stiller: And I’m Cleo Stiller in for Gideon Resnick.


Akilah Hughes: And this is What A Day where we are announcing that we will not be competing in the Olympic event for news podcasting.


Cleo Stiller: Yeah, we’re not in this for the glory. And apart from that, we’re not even sure that the event is real.


Akilah Hughes: Oh, I just checked. It’s not. More reason not to compete, though. On today’s show, House Democrats begin to form a committee to investigate the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol, plus some headlines. But first, we have a new guest host with us, Cleo Stiller. She is a Peabody Award and Emmy Award-nominated journalist, author of the book “Modern Manhood: Conversations About the Complicated World of Being a Good Man Today”—go by it—and has had her work named in Harvard Journalism Foundation’s 2021 Trends to Watch. She’s also a friend of mine. Welcome to a WAD Cleo.


Cleo Stiller: Oh my God. I love how I sound coming out of your mouth.


Akilah Hughes: Thank you. [laughs]


Cleo Stiller: Thank you for having me on my favorite daily news show.


Akilah Hughes: Well, thank you for thinking of us that way. I think the WAD squad agrees, we’re pretty cool over here. But let’s get into it. First, the latest:


[news clip] Official temperatures are measured in the shade, but here on the street, this is measuring at 157 degrees. It feels like a furnace.


Akilah Hughes: Oooh. OK. So that is part of a report from the ABC affiliate in Portland yesterday. It’s too hot to have your dogs even touch the blacktop, so—just so you know, I just learned that. I have a dog. But a climate change deniers can keep sweating away the truth because this week the world is really punishing us with extreme weather. Cleo, start us off with the latest from the Pacific Northwest.


Cleo Stiller: So temps reached as high as 116 degrees yesterday, shattering heat records in a region that usually sees temperatures in the 70s and 80s this time of year. Now, for me, any time I hear about a temperature above 90 degrees, like it could be 100 degrees or it could be 200. To me, it just sounds hot. So to understand the severity of the situation, I’ll tell you a couple things that the folks in the region are facing. So in Seattle, they had to shut down portions of their interstate because parts of the highway just buckled.


Akilah Hughes: Oh, my God. That’s, I don’t know how you handle that. What are you supposed to do?


Cleo Stiller: It sounds like a Jurassic Park scene to me.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah. Totally.


Cleo Stiller: So—right? And then many there were without power, in some instances because the power lines just melted. Not good, right? So as the heat wave moved inland yesterday, people in Spokane, Washington, faced rolling blackouts throughout the day due to high demand. And listen, losing power at any time is an inconvenience. But just ask the folks in Texas: the absolute worst time to not have power, be it heat or air conditioning or fans, is during extreme weather like this. It’s not just unbearable, it’s potentially lethal.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, I have heard some horror stories. I have friends who live in the Pacific Northwest and they’re saying they’re in the basement. It’s 89 degrees sleeping temperature, and upstairs it’s like over 100. So my thoughts are absolutely with them. And that’s not even the most intense heat wave happening right now. So tell us about how Pakistan is baking.


Cleo Stiller: Right. So there’s a city in Pakistan called Jacobabad where temperatures can get up to over a 125 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a global record. In fact, I think this headline from The Telegraph really says it best. The headline is “Hotter than the human body can handle, Pakistan city broils in world’s highest temperatures.” That is one hell of a mental image, right?


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, it is horrifying. And, you know, I watched a little special about it. And yeah, people’s bodies can’t even cool them off at this point. Like, it’s just not tenable to be living in a situation like that.


Cleo Stiller: Right. And right, exactly. So, you know. Now it’s not just the temperature alone that’s concerting, it’s because of the heat and the humidity combination. And this area of Pakistan is one of only two places on earth, the other being in the United Arab Emirates, that have passed the threshold that the human body can safely exist in. Now, it has happened multiple times over the last several years, albeit only for several hours at a time. But this is a milestone that scientists predicted we wouldn’t pass for decades. And yet . . . here we are.


Akilah Hughes: Ah, man. Not great. I just, I, all I can say is still not great. I would love for there to be one good bit of climate news, but it’s not coming for the rest of our lives. Well, on the other end of the spectrum, on the other end of the spectrum, climate change is causing unprecedented rainfall in America’s Midwest. I’ve heard a lot about this as well. And communities are struggling to literally stay above water.


Cleo Stiller: Cities like Chicago and Detroit were pummeled by heavy rainstorms in the past few days. So in Chicago, more than six inches drenched the area, leading to flooded streets, partly because the city’s sewer system wasn’t designed to handle the storms. So what will happen is they’ll hold the water in the streets, even though it means flooded streets for a couple of hours, because if they flood all the water straight to the sewer systems, it’s going to back up into your basement, right? And obviously, no one wants that. Now—right, and your friends in Seattle who need their basement, right?


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, exactly. Oh, man.


Cleo Stiller: It continues. Let’s go to Detroit, where flooding was also widespread. We had Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer toured the area and she blamed the flooding on both climate change and the lack of spending on proper infrastructure. Now, to offer just a little bit of analysis for everyone, when I was reporting for Bloomberg, we used to say all the time, politicians know this very well, but infrastructure is not a sexy item, right?


Akilah Hughes: Yeah.


Speaker 4 People don’t rush to the polls to vote for infrastructure. Or if you think about yourself, if you’ve got construction going on in your area, it’s loud. It holds up traffic. Politicians get calls to their office with complaints. So no one likes to deal with infrastructure. But it’s critically important and I say this because everything we’re talking about in this story is on one hand about climate change, but on the other is about investing in infrastructure. And this is really something that we, the lay people need to push for and hold our corporations, our municipalities and our government on all levels accountable for. Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who’s been very outspoken about climate change, I think he really said it best—he told CNN yesterday: this weather is a warning to everyone.


[clip of Gov. Jay  Inslee] But I think the important lesson for the Pacific Northwest is, we’re getting ours tonight, but everybody’s going to get it.


Akilah Hughes: Everybody’s going to get it.


Cleo Stiller: Everybody is going to get in.


Akilah Hughes: Ah, man, he’s not wrong.


Cleo Stiller: Yeah. So it’s coming for you. All right. Turning now to some political news. Akilah, the January 6th insurrection attempt is going to be investigated thanks to a new bill in the House of Representatives. Can you tell us what’s going on here?


Akilah Hughes: Yeah. So on Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced a bill to establish a House committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection attempt by Trump supporters. And the language in the bill itself isn’t mincing words. It refers to the event as a, quote “domestic terror attack” and explicitly says the point was to, quote “interfere with the peaceful transfer of power.” So intellectually, we all know this to be true, but it is maybe only the second time it’s been named so intentionally at such a high level, the time before being Trump’s record second impeachment hearings. And all of this is happening after the Senate Republicans used the filibuster last month to stop a bipartisan independent commission, and to stop a discussion about a commission altogether. So good news is we’re not just going to act like we didn’t all watch on live TV as a bunch of unhinged people broke windows and killed a cop at the Capitol.


Cleo Stiller: Right. I, I don’t think I used the term gaslighting so much ever as in this exact incident.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, absolutely. It is endless.


Cleo Stiller: Yes. So today that bill is headed to the House floor and is expected to pass. But I think probably all of us want to know what is the makeup of that committee being put together by Pelosi?


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, so this is truly perplexing. The committee will be made up of 13 members, eight of whom Pelosi will appoint, and then five of whom will be picked by Republicans, the party that so far has not shown to take that attack on the Capitol seriously. I don’t know why they get to say, but, all right. [laughs] In fact, the GOP have floated a million alt endings to the insurrection attempt from their followers back in January. It was antifa. No, it was just some peaceful tourist. No, actually, it was the FBI, but not Trump’s FBI, some other secret FBI. You know, these morons are throwing an Olive Garden’s worth of spaghetti at the wall, trying to make their story stick. And now they get to be on the commission to investigate the deadly attempt to overthrow the U.S. government. It is actually nonsense.


Cleo Stiller: But there is a tiny bit of silver lining, right?


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, there is. All right, so it lies in the fact that no one knows if House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will actually exercise that right to name Republicans to the panel. He hasn’t expressed support of a commission at all. And the number two House Republican, Steve Scalise, said in a memo that the panel, quote “is likely to pursue a partisan agenda.” If he really wanted bipartisanship, though, maybe Republicans should have supported that Senate committee instead of killing it. You know, there were options. But fear not, we will likely hear from some Republicans seeing as the House committee can subpoena documents and witness testimony. The lunatic House member from Georgia, Miss Marjorie Taylor Green, should probably prepare for the worst and fly somewhere that they don’t extradite. The makeup of the panel is being discussed as we speak. And many people are looking to the Benghazi hearings in which there were seven Republicans to five Democrats as the sort of standard. Of course, the GOP has the ideological consistency of a magic eight ball. So they’re already saying it’s not fair. We’ll let you know just how many of the Republican chickens come home to roost when the time comes, but that’s the latest for now.


Akilah Hughes: It’s Wednesday, WAD squad, and for today’s temp check, we were discussing adventures in well-intentioned design. Yesterday, IKEA Canada rolled out a series of Pride themed love seats which were inspired by the flags of different LGBTQ+ communities. And the results were extremely mixed. The company wanted to highlight the diversity within the LGBTQ+ community, and they definitely did that well. But what they also did was create furniture that looked like it had been dipped in glue and thrown at every shelf in a Micheal’s. The most notable couch was the couch inspired by the bisexual flag, and it included several creepy handshake pillows, plus a line scrawled on the seat cushion that read “When you change ‘or’ to ‘and’ nobody believes you.” That line is a statement on bisexual erasure, but it seems a little heavy for a couch that you own if you are bi in your house. So, Cleo, what was your take on this collection overall? It was, it was wild.


Cleo Stiller: Yeah. OK, so first of all, if you’re listening to this and you’re driving, just flag this for something to do when you get to where you need to be because you do want to see this. It’s not to be missed, which is probably a big success for IKEA. But I do feel like I would have asked the team of IKEA like, did you mean to offend the queer community when you put these out? Because this does not seem like anyone’s identity is flattered or held here. I mean, of all of them, Akilah would you take any of them home with you?


Akilah Hughes: So I have died on the hill of a gender fluid couch being great. Everyone else thinks it looks like they’re trying to cover up stains in a dorm room with the design. And I made the joke to Charlotte that is: it’s not jizz, it’s gender fluid. [laughs] But in any case, I think that one was pretty solid. But yeah, the hands, the hands are like stuck to the seat. So not only are they there and ominous and touching you, but like, they truly are a texture of the couch. I’m also not sold on the font for the painting or a single cushion just saying “No one will believe you.” To me, that’s, that’s kind of threatening. I don’t want that in the couch.


Cleo Stiller: I definitely want to hear from the folks listening to this. Hit us up. We want to know which, if any, is the couch you would take home?


Akilah Hughes: Yeah. Like, are you sitting on these couches? Are you avoiding sitting down. You’re good. You’re going to stand. If anyone else wants to sit, please take the seat. I’m good. I feel that. Well, just like that, we have checked our temps. They are very cool, like a nice pillow that is not made out of a hand. Stay safe, and we’ll be back after some ads.


[ad break]


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


[sung] Headlines.


Cleo Stiller: In Los Angeles, health officials strongly recommended on Monday that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, go back to wearing masks indoors amid increased circulation of the highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant. This comes almost two weeks after California lifted all coronavirus restrictions, which for folks who listen to the show Akilah, you obviously felt very strongly about.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, I think that they messed up, and I was right.


Cleo Stiller: Yes. Public experts are now on your side. So though public experts are in agreement that getting vaccinated is the best protection against COVID and say the Delta variant poses little risk to people who are fully vaccinated, L.A. officials are proceeding with caution until they have more information. Delta variants are now responsible for about one in every five new infections across the U.S. and that’s up from approximately one in every 10 just last week. Now, according to CDC data, 50% of L.A. County residents are fully vaccinated, but there are significant concerns that unvaccinated people remain vulnerable.


Akilah Hughes: Oh, goodness. They better make some room at the bottom of the ocean because last night the House voted to remove statues of Confederate officials from the U.S. Capitol. Yay yay. The House also voted to remove a bust of former Chief Justice and slavery advocate Roger B. Taney, who wrote the Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision in 1857 that ruled that Black people were not entitled to citizenship. Hmm. The passed measure directs the architect of the Capitol, quote “to remove all statues of individuals who voluntarily served the Confederate states of America” and to replace the busted bust of Taney with one honoring Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice. Last summer, during nationwide protests spurred by George Floyd’s death, the House passed similar legislation, but it didn’t advance in the then-Republican controlled Senate. The bill now heads back to the Senate and requires 60 votes to pass because Joe Manchin doesn’t give a fuck about this.


Cleo Stiller: Mm hmm! OK, many steps beyond cottage-core, there is something called Flintstones-core, and a woman in Northern California won the right to keep living in it this spring: her name is Florence Feng and she settled a lawsuit filed by her own town against her $2.8 million Flintstone’s house. Now, yeah, OK, another treat for those who are listening, but I do recommend that you flag this and pull up the images as soon as you can—don’t worry though, I will paint the mental image for you. So imagine a purple and orange structure with round domed tops and a yard really full of sculptures of Fred Flintstone, his family, and various 15-foot tall dinosaurs. Now, local officials with inner children that died many years ago have been going after Feng since 2019, calling her house, quote “a highly-visible eyesore”—which is extremely rude to say about your neighbor—and claiming that the statues in the yard violated local building codes. So that suit has been dropped. And additionally, the settlement requires the town to now pay Feng $120,000 to cover legal fees and any hurt feelings. Feng is, an 80-year old retired media magnate who once said in an interview, quote “I see a dinosaur, I buy it” Which is kind of, right, exactly. I’m like, you know, my grandmother sounds somewhat similar. So I do feel like that clarity of purpose is something we should all aspire to. And we are legally obligated to take her side.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, I mean, she’s right. When you’re, you’re right. Give me some Fred Flintstone any day.


Cleo Stiller: Yes.


Akilah Hughes: We love it. All right. Well, get ready. Because I’m about to say a bunch of stuff that I fully understand: for the first time, astrophysicists have detected two collisions between a black hole and a neutron star. Neutron stars are stars 10 to 30 times the size of the sun that died, aka star skeletons. The black holes did what the physics community describes as a “Pacman”, eating the neutron stars whole and becoming even bigger black holes, and releasing gravitational waves along the way. The mergers were first detected in January of last year, but the newly-published gravitational wave findings offer new information about how cosmic collisions affect the expansion and compression of space time. Exciting. Jeff Bezos, you should probably read up on this before your trip next month or you risk getting stuck out there forever.


Cleo Stiller: See ya Jeff.


Akilah Hughes: Yeah, good luck man.


Cleo Stiller: The unions will handle it


Akilah Hughes: [laughs] Exactly. Hope you have a good union on your spacecraft. And those are the headlines.


Cleo Stiller: That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, buy a dinosaur, and tell your friends to listen.


Akilah Hughes: And if you’re into reading, and not just ridiculously easy to understand astrophysics like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Akilah Hughes.


Cleo Stiller: I’m Cleo Stiller.


[together] And take swim lessons, confederate statues!


Cleo Stiller: Yeah.


Akilah Hughes: [laughs] Figure it out, you know. Or don’t. Once again, or don’t.


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 and Jazzi Marine are our associate producers.


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


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