In The Blinken of an Eye | Crooked Media
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November 05, 2023
What A Day
In The Blinken of an Eye

In This Episode

  • Israeli troops said they closed in on Gaza City, and Gaza appeared to be under yet another communications blackout on Sunday – the third in 10 days. Meanwhile, the conflict at the Israel-Lebanon border has gotten more deadly after an Israeli strike killed four people Sunday evening.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in the Middle East over the last few days meeting with a host of leaders in hopes of containing the war’s fallout. On Sunday, Blinken met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. He later stopped in Baghdad where he issued a warning, particularly to Iran and its proxies like Hezbollah.
  • And in headlines: Donald Trump is set to take the stand in New York’s civil case against him and his company for fraud, more than 150 people were killed in an earthquake in Nepal, and SAG-AFTRA is reviewing an offer by AMPTP after months of failed labor talks.


Show Notes:


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Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Monday, November 6th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What a Day. On the show, Trump takes the stand today in New York’s civil case against him and his company for fraud. Plus, elections are happening tomorrow in several battleground states. And we’ll tell you how to get info and how you can help get out the vote wherever you are. 


Josie Duffy Rice: But first, on Sunday Israeli troops closed in on Gaza City, the main city on the Gaza Strip. Over half a million people lived there before the latest conflict began in October. And it’s extremely densely populated. The Israeli military said they expect to enter Gaza City within 48 hours and say that that they have essentially divided the region into two. Telling reporters, quote, “today there is north Gaza and south Gaza.” Currently, there are 1.4 million people internally displaced across the area, according to the UN. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, we know that they’ve been kind of gearing up for this invasion for a couple of weeks now. Can you tell us more about their attempt to surround Gaza City? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So Israeli troops are approaching the region from three directions. They’re coming from the northwest, the northeast and the south. And according to The Washington Post, satellite imagery shows that Israeli troops have been pretty successful in surrounding Gaza City along the southern edge, but that troops moving in from the northwest and the northeast have not made significant progress. In part because of quote, “heavy fighting” along those routes. And so it seems like Israel might be slightly overstating their success in getting this far, but it is still likely that Gaza City will be surrounded in the coming days. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, and I know there was also another communications outage in Gaza. Can you tell us more about that? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, absolutely. You may remember that the other two communications outages, one lasted 36 hours. Another one lasted a few hours. As of record time on Sunday evening at 9:30 Eastern, Gaza seemed to be under yet another blackout, meaning that there is no ability to communicate due to the Internet and phones being down. That makes it, of course, very difficult to get information about what’s happening there. Some of what we know about the area comes from sources outside of Palestine. For example, the World Food Program said on Sunday night that there are only about five days left of food in Gaza. The World Food Program’s executive director Cindy McCain. Yes, that Cindy McCain. This was news to me today that she is now the executive director of the World Food Program, and she says that the situation there is catastrophic. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, I feel like aid workers since almost the beginning have been saying that they need more resources, more food than they have for the level of tragedy that folks are living through. And we’ve also heard more news about rockets being fired into Israel. What’s going on with that? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, so apparently more rockets are being fired into the north and central areas of Israel, including Tel Aviv. Hamas has said that they are launching these rockets due to the continuing death and destruction in Gaza. According to Israel, these rockets have not killed anyone or really caused any damage thanks to the Iron Dome, which is the missile defense system in Israel that uses missiles to intercept rockets before they can cause damage. It’s worth noting that one of the Iron Dome missiles malfunctioned this weekend and caused a small fire, though no major damage and no injuries or deaths. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Gotcha. All right. So are there any other key updates from the ground this weekend that we should be aware of? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, as you know, things are changing kind of constantly on the ground. But as of Sunday night at record time, there are some other pretty key updates. The first is that the conflict at the Israel-Lebanon border has gotten more deadly. This weekend, an Israeli missile hit a car in southern Lebanon, which killed three young girls and their grandmother. The car held the family of a Lebanese journalist and the journalist was in the car ahead of the car that was hit. So it’s a little unclear if like they meant to hit the car with the journalist or what’s going on there. But it was a pretty big deal and somewhat of an escalation given what’s going on on that border. And according to reports, attacks by Hezbollah in retaliation for this attack on the car killed one Israeli. So it’s unclear if the Israeli was a civilian or a soldier. We don’t know much about them. Also this weekend, Israel said that they paused attacks for a few hours in order to allow people to evacuate from some of the areas they were planning to hit. But according to The New York Times, many people did not get information about that evacuation because of the lack of access to phones and Internet. And others were scared to evacuate due to the ongoing attacks among evacuation routes. As one man interviewed by The New York Times said, quote, “I want to leave, but I don’t want to lose my life on the way. It is better to die at home than to die in the street.”. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Mmm. [sadly]


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Meanwhile, Israel also rejected calls for any significant pause in their attacks on Gaza, as many across the world have called for, as you know. And it is worth noting that Israel’s claim that they gave people a chance to evacuate is kind of undermined by something else that happened this weekend. So Israeli warplanes hit two refugee camps in Gaza on Sunday, killing at least 53 people. One of those refugee camps is a Maghazi refugee camp where, according to the Associated Press, Israel’s military had, quote, “urged Palestinian civilians to seek refuge.” So they had said that this would be a safe place for Palestinians to go, and then they bombed it and they killed over 50 people. One AP reporter saw eight dead children after that attack, including a baby. And one person in the camp said, quote, “It was a true massacre. All here are peaceful people. I challenge anyone who says there were resistance fighters here.” 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So that’s the situation on the ground. Now, let’s turn to the latest in the diplomatic efforts of the Biden administration. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been back in the region over the last few days, meeting with a host of leaders in hopes of containing the fallout from the war with Hamas. The administration has been very clear that they don’t want the conflict to spread. And so the White House is trying to keep it that way. I’m going to focus on two of the stops on Blinken’s tour. Those in the West Bank and Iraq. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So this is kind of big news. Let’s start with the West Bank. What happened there? 


Tre’vell Anderson: So Blinken met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the second time since Hamas’s inciting attack a few weeks ago. In the meeting, Abbas called for an immediate end to the war, the acceleration of humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza. And he demanded that the attacks happening in the West Bank by Israeli soldiers and extremists end. Blinken basically reiterated the administration’s stance of being committed to getting aid to folks, and he, quote, “made clear that Palestinians must not be forcibly displaced as a result of the conflict.” As you already mentioned, though, well over a million Palestinians have already been displaced. Blinken also discussed with Abbas his efforts to get Israeli leaders to, quote, “minimize civilian harm.” 


Josie Duffy Rice: He also went to Iraq. Can you tell us about what happened there? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. So Blinken made an unannounced stop in Baghdad where he basically issued a warning, particularly to Iran and its proxies like Hezbollah. Take a listen. 


[clip of Antony Blinken] I made very clear that the attacks, the threats coming from militia that are aligned with Iran are totally unacceptable. And we will take every necessary step to protect our people. We’re not looking for conflict with Iran. We’ve made that very clear. But we’ll do what’s necessary to protect our personnel, be they military or civilian. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So, you know, he’s basically telling them, you know, run up, get done up. If y’all act crazy, we are going to use the full power of our military in response. And then there’s one other statement Blinken made that I want to highlight. This one was during a press conference with his Egyptian and Jordanian counterparts in Jordan, and it’s him talking about the images of Palestinian children being killed in the conflict. 


[clip of Antony Blinken] When I see a Palestinian boy or girl pulled from the wreckage of a building, it hits me in the gut. This is it hits everyone’s gut. And I see my own child, in their faces. And as human beings, how can any of us not feel the same way? 


Josie Duffy Rice: And as you mentioned earlier, he said he wanted to, quote, “minimize civilian harm.” He did not say he wanted a cease fire, which to me is a clear way of minimizing at least some harm. And what so many of the protests across the country and globe are calling for, including a massive, massive protest in D.C. this weekend, right? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, the D.C. demonstration was gigantic. But right, it’s not only protesters who are calling for a cease fire. Other elected officials have been joining calls for a ceasefire. We mentioned last week that Dick Durbin has become the first senator to call for a cease fire. And, you know, I will just share what Blinken had to say directly to this point about cease fires. 


[clip of Antony Blinken] It’s our view that a cease fire now would simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on October 7th. And so it is important to reaffirm Israel’s right to defend itself, indeed, its obligation to do so and to take necessary steps so that October 7th can never happen again. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So he went on to reiterate that how Israel does what it does is important, you know, minimize civilian harm. But that is basically the official response on calling for a cease fire right now. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I guess I’m a little skeptical right about this minimize civilian harm thing. Right. Because we just mentioned that 53 people died at a refugee camp where people were specifically directed to seek refuge by the Israeli government. They were told to go there, to stay safe and then that space was bombed. I don’t think that’s minimizing civilian harm. We’re seeing a lot of civilian harm. We’re seeing, you know, almost 9000 people killed at this point. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, it’s very wide ranging, the level of destruction that’s happening right? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: But I think what we’re all noticing is this sort of kind of tightrope that’s being walked here, socio politically. Right. The both and approach that the administration is striving for. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Despite it not really landing the way I think they wish, particularly among many progressive minded people. And this really brings me to former President Barack Obama, who tried to thread a needle of his own in a recent interview with Pod Save America, also with varying levels of success in terms of audience response. Take a listen to this clip. It’s a little long, but I think it illustrates this point so well.


[clip of Barack Obama] If there’s any chance of us being able to act constructively to do something, it will require an admission of complexity. And maintaining what on the surface may seem contradictory ideas. That what Hamas did was horrific and there’s no justification for it. And what is also true is that the occupation and what’s happening to Palestinians is unbearable. And what is also true is that there is a history of the Jewish people that may be dismissed unless your grandparents or your great grandparents or your uncle or your aunt tell you stories about the madness of anti-Semitism. And what is true is that there are people right now who are dying, who have nothing to do with what Hamas did and what is true, right? I mean, we can go on for a while. And the problem with the social media and trying to, TikTok activism and trying to debate this on that is you can’t speak the truth. You can pretend to speak the truth. You can speak one side of the truth. And in some cases you can try to maintain your moral innocence, but that won’t solve the problem. And so if you want to solve the problem, then you have to take in the whole truth and you then have to admit nobody’s hands are clean. That all of us are complicit to some degree. I look at this and I think back what could I have done during my presidency to move this forward as hard as I tried? I’ve got the scars to prove it. But there’s a part of me that’s still saying, Well, was there something else I could have done? That’s the conversation we should be having, not just looking backwards, but looking forward. And that can’t happen if we are confining ourselves to our outrage. I would rather see you out there talking to people, including people who you disagree with if you genuinely want to change this. Then you’ve got to figure out how to speak to somebody on the other side and listen to them and understand what they are talking about and not dismiss it. Because you can’t save that child without their help. Not in this situation. 


Josie Duffy Rice: That is one of the more, I think, remarkable things that any elected official has said about the situation. It doesn’t actually sound that remarkable given that people are being a little bit, I think, more vocal about some of the complicated dynamics right now. But certainly among elected officials or former elected officials and certainly former presidents, like that’s got to be one of the more nuanced, clearer things I’ve heard. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, I think I agree with that. I don’t think he needed to come for, you know, the social media girls like that. 


Josie Duffy Rice: [laughing] What did TikTok do? 


Tre’vell Anderson: Look exactly. TikTok’s like now why am I in it? Why what’d I do? [laughing] Also I think. Right. Social media has been a very useful tool in the dissemination of yes, misinformation and disinformation and all of that, but also actual positive information. Right. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Particularly some information that the broader media ecosystem has like failed to properly contextualize or provide. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Tre’vell Anderson: So he didn’t need to come for, you know, the TikTokers like that. But you can definitely tell that he and so many others are trying to maintain kind of the political position which is support Israel ally, all of that while also trying to recognize the like you know disproportionate negative impact that Palestinians are experiencing as a result of all of this.


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. And acknowledging the history and also acknowledging that perhaps people who are not responsible for that history are suffering the brunt of the attack in a way that doesn’t align with anybody’s principles. So that was a pretty big deal. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah, pretty big deal. I’ve seen a lot of the comments that are still very much so calling this what it is, which is a very kind of middle of the road position. But the full interview with Obama comes out on Pod Save America tomorrow, on Tuesday. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]




Tre’vell Anderson: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Tre’vell Anderson: We have said it once and we will say it again. Grab your popcorn, your opera glasses and your drink of choice because Donald Trump is set to take the stand in court today. The former president will be testifying at his New York civil fraud trial. And as a reminder, this is the case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, alleging that he and his company overvalued his assets and inflated his net worth by billions of dollars. And depending on how the case plays out, the ex-president could lose control of some of his properties in New York, including Trump Tower. We can only hope Trump’s testimony comes after his sons, Eric and Don Jr took the stand last week. Both of them denied any involvement in their dad’s financial statements. And next up at the family reunion is Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who is expected to testify on Wednesday. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Now to some very devastating news in Nepal. More than 150 people were killed and 184 were injured in an earthquake in the northwestern part of the country on Friday night. The 5.6 magnitude quake toppled multiple buildings and some villages an estimated 90% of houses collapsed. The epicenter was close to the district of Jajarkot, where almost 200,000 people live in the villages, usually in remote hills. Thousands were left homeless after the quake and they spent Saturday night in the freezing cold. As rescuers tried to get aid into the hills, operations were hindered by the fact that many villages could only be reached by foot and roads were blocked by landslides that were triggered by the quake. Earthquakes are frequent in Nepal, but this was the country’s deadliest quake since 2015. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Moving on to some labor news, SAG-AFTRA, the union representing Hollywood actors is currently reviewing an offer that studio executives have called their, quote, “last, best and final offer” after months of failed labor talks. That’s according to a statement from the union’s negotiating committee on Saturday. A source who’s familiar with the new offer told The New York Times that it includes the highest wage increase the union has seen in 40 years, as well as increased pensions and health benefits. The deal also includes protections from AI and most importantly, a way to determine performance based residuals for streaming platforms. The negotiating committee said of the offer, quote, “We are reviewing it and considering our response within the context of the critical issues addressed in our proposals.” Though it’s unclear when the union will make a decision, today marks the 116th day of the strike. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And speaking of fair compensation and workers rights, Uber and Lyft agreed to pay a combined total of $328 million dollars to settle claims that they withheld pay and benefits from their drivers in New York State. This comes after a years long investigation into the two rideshare companies led by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The probe found that Uber deducted sales taxes and black car fund fees from drivers payments, when really those should have been paid for by passengers. Lyft did the same by deducting a quote unquote “administrative charge” from drivers fares. The money will be paid out to Uber and Lyft drivers who were cheated out of fair compensation as backpay. Thursday’s settlement also guarantees an earnings floor for drivers, meaning that they will receive a minimum pay rate that will adjust each year with inflation. James released a statement about the settlement on Thursday, calling it the largest wage theft settlement her office has ever won. She wrote, quote, “These drivers overwhelmingly come from immigrant communities and rely on these jobs to provide for their families. This settlement will ensure that they finally get what they have rightfully earned and are owed under the law.” 


Tre’vell Anderson: And finally, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gained some new and history making inductees over the weekend. They include Missy Elliott, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Chaka Khan, The Spinners and Soul Train creator Don Cornelius, among others. This year’s 38th annual ceremony took place at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. It kicked off with a performance by Crow and Olivia Rodrigo. And it came to a close more than 4 hours later with a show by Missy Elliott, who became the first female rapper to ever be inducted. During her performance, Elliott graced the stage in a sequined gold jumpsuit and delivered hits on hits on hits like Get Your Freak On, Work It, Lose Control, and more. While it was an eventful night overall, there was also notable representation from Black and women artists. And it came only a couple of months after Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner was removed from the Hall’s board of directors after he said this in a New York Times interview about who he didn’t include in his book of rock stars. 


[clip of Jann Wenner] Insofar as women, I mean, there were just none of them were as articulate enough on this intellectual level. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Hmm. 


Tre’vell Anderson: He added that some Black artists, quote, “just didn’t articulate at that level,” which, you know, he must not know his history of uh where all of this wonderful music comes from, but that’s fine. Take a listen to what Elton John’s songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, said during his acceptance speech Friday night in response. 


[clip of Bernie Taupin] I’m honored to be in the class of 2023 alongside such a group of profoundly articulate women. [cheers and applause] And outstanding, articulate Black artists. [cheers and applause]


Tre’vell Anderson: Alright Bernie. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I love that. I also [laughter] I’m glad you think we’re articulate I guess.


Tre’vell Anderson: I was about to say, we should just retire the articulate thing altogether. 


Josie Duffy Rice: We’ve got to let articulate go, is all I’m going to say. I appreciate the vibe. 


Tre’vell Anderson: [laughing] And those are the headlines. 


Josie Duffy Rice: One more thing before we go. Somehow it is already November and tomorrow, November 7th is Election Day in key battleground states across the U.S.. The media hype has turned to 2024. But that will not stop 2023 elections from having massive implications for abortion access, voting rights and more. So if you or someone you know lives in Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania or Mississippi, visit and make sure you are ready to vote tomorrow. [whispered] Tomorrow. I’m saying it in all different tones so like something sticks, you know? [laughter] Because it’s coming, tomorrow is coming. [music break]


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


Josie Duffy Rice: What a Day is also a nightly newsletter, so check it out and subscribe at I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. [music break]


Josie Duffy Rice: 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 showrunner is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.