Not Some Distant Tragedy | Crooked Media
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October 10, 2023
What A Day
Not Some Distant Tragedy

In This Episode

  • The devastation from the war between Israel and Hamas continues to unfold. As of Tuesday, nearly 2,000 people combined have been killed in Israel and Gaza, with many more injured. President Biden confirmed that at least 14 Americans are among the dead, and U.S. citizens are among the hostages held by Hamas.
  • Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is heading to Israel today in a show of solidarity. The U.S. has already repositioned military assets in the region as Israel gears up for what could be an unprecedented assault on Gaza.
  • And in headlines: thousands of people are feared dead following Saturday’s powerful earthquake in Afghanistan, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced he’s running for president as an independent, and economic historian Claudia Goldin won a Nobel Prize for tracing the history of women in the workplace.


Show Notes:



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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, October 11th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.


Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What a Day. On today’s show, thousands of people are feared dead following a powerful earthquake in Afghanistan. Plus, an American economist has won a Nobel Prize for tracing the history of women in the workplace. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But first, the world watches the devastation out of Israel and Gaza continue to unfold. 


Juanita Tolliver: So what’s the latest on the ground now? 


Priyanka Aribindi: So in response to the surprise attack and atrocities committed against Israeli civilians by Hamas on Saturday, Israel formally declared war against Hamas and implemented a blockade on power, fuel, food and water to the Gaza Strip, as well as retaliatory airstrikes on the area. Yesterday, those strikes intensified, destroying buildings and sending civilians in the densely packed territory scrambling for safety. The only remaining crossing out of Gaza was also targeted by an airstrike and is now closed, leaving residents trapped and according to humanitarian groups, with overwhelmed hospitals and dwindling supplies. The Israeli military has also mobilized 300,000 reservists for what is believed could be an upcoming ground incursion into Gaza. Hamas also struck back. Yesterday from Gaza, the group launched a barrage of rockets into Ashkelon, a southern coastal city in Israel, in what they say was a response to the displacement of people in Gaza. They are also still holding between 100 and 150 hostages in Gaza and have threatened to execute them and broadcast those executions. The death toll on both sides of this conflict continues to mount. As of our recording time at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday night, Hamas has killed over 1000 people in Israel since Saturday and wounded 2800 more. And according to Palestinian authorities, Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 920 people in Gaza and injured at least 4600 more. That is just the information we have so far. Those numbers will almost certainly continue to climb in the coming days. 


Juanita Tolliver: And President Biden addressed the nation and the rest of the world about this yesterday. Tell us more about what he said. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So President Biden spoke from the White House yesterday. He strongly condemned Hamas’ terrorism and reiterated U.S. support for Israel. Take a listen. 


[clip of President Joe Biden] There are moments in this life, I mean, this literally when the pure, unadulterated evil is unleashed on this world. The people of Israel lived through one such moment this weekend, bloody hands of the terrorist organization Hamas, a group whose stated purpose for being is to kill Jews. This was an act of sheer evil. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Biden also confirmed yesterday that there are Americans among those being held hostage in Gaza, but he did not say how many. What we do know is that at least 14 Americans were among those killed during Hamas’s attack and at least 20 other Americans are still unaccounted for. We will, of course, continue to bring you updates on what’s happening on the ground in the days and weeks to come. But I just want to take a minute to acknowledge here what a heavy time this is for so many people. You know, the images and the reporting that we have seen about what is happening to innocent civilians, they are truly just beyond words. It’s devastating. And to our listeners here who are really feeling it right now, you are not alone. It is a scary, scary time. 


Juanita Tolliver: And sadly, the devastation is likely only to continue. And I want to take a second to look ahead now. Today, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling to Israel for meetings with senior Israeli officials on Thursday. According to State Department spokesperson, Secretary Blinken will deliver a quote, “message of solidarity and support.” And he will get a better understanding of what they need and how the U.S. can support Israel. This follows the remarks from President Biden that you mentioned, Priyanka, and reaffirms the president’s commitment to share intelligence and hostage recovery resources with Israel and support them as this war continues. And current support from the U.S. extends beyond Blinken’s visit to also include military aid, which John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, confirmed earlier this week, was already on the way to Israel. 


Priyanka Aribindi: So what does this military aid consist of? 


Juanita Tolliver: On Sunday, the Department of Defense ordered its newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald Ford, and its eight squadrons of attack and support aircraft, four destroyers and one missile cruiser to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. The strike group of vessels was already in the vicinity conducting naval exercises off the coast of Italy. And the aid also includes air defense systems, munitions and weapons. So far, the Pentagon sent this military aid using existing authorities and funding and didn’t need congressional appropriations for this first round of aid, though eventually they will need more money from Congress for future shipments. Also, it’s important to note that these resources are being sent to the region not only to support Israel, but also as a deterrent and defensive signal to ward off any regional expansion of this conflict. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. Tell us more about who the U.S. is trying to deter in this situation. 


Juanita Tolliver: According to the Associated Press, a senior Defense Department official who briefed reporters shared that the U.S. is closely watching Hezbollah and other Iranian backed groups. And the official also shared that, quote, “The U.S. is flooding the zone.” In his first address since being sworn in as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff only two weeks ago, General Charles Q. Brown Jnr urged Iran not to get involved in the unfolding situation. While Iran has maintained that they were not part of the attack by Hamas. And while U.S. and Israeli officials said they have no firm evidence that Iran had a direct role in the attack, intelligence officials said that Iranian allies provided money, military training, and logistical support to Hamas in the past. On top of that, late yesterday, Israeli Defense Forces said that rockets were launched from Syria into Israeli territory near the Golan Heights area and the rockets landed in open areas. And that is certainly something the U.S. will continue monitoring further. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. What should we expect to see in these coming days? 


Juanita Tolliver: We should expect to see the impact of diplomatic engagement, including Blinken’s visit to Israel on Thursday and readouts from diplomatic calls, as President Biden maintains communications with Prime Minister Netanyahu, especially about the ongoing hostage situation that includes Americans. We should expect to see the number of casualties in Gaza and Israel continue to rise, as you mentioned, Priyanka. We should also expect to see the continued impact of not having a House speaker. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Juanita Tolliver: And how that could delay funding for not only Israel but also Ukraine. And the Arab League representatives are set to meet later today after the Palestinian delegation requested a special session, though likely outcomes are unclear. Of course, we’ll keep following all of this closely, but that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]




Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Relief efforts are underway in western Afghanistan after a powerful 6.3 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks struck the region on Saturday. The Taliban said that at least 2000 people were killed, though that number is expected to rise. Entire villages in Herat province were flattened, with many locals forced to use their bare hands to dig through the rubble in desperate search for survivors and for victims. The aftermath has already overwhelmed the province’s regional hospital, which was built to accommodate only about 600 patients. According to reports, some of the injured have had to be treated on the hospital floor. A World Health Organization official told Al Jazeera that the extent of the damage is still being confirmed as search and rescue operations continue. The global response to the disaster has been slow, in part because the 2021 Taliban takeover forced many aid organizations to leave Afghanistan. 


Juanita Tolliver: In other international news, the Biden administration yesterday formally acknowledged that the ouster of Niger’s democratically elected president by military leaders was a coup. Though other countries made that declaration soon after it happened in July, administration officials were initially reluctant to do so. That’s because of a congressional mandate to suspend military aid and training to places where military forces have installed their own government. Niger has also played a major role in U.S. counterterrorism operations in Central and Western Africa. A State Department spokesperson yesterday confirmed that most U.S. assistance to Niger has been suspended, but humanitarian food and health assistance will continue. And the U.S. ambassador to Niger will remain in the country. As you’ll recall, the coup ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, whose election marked Niger’s first democratic transfer of power since the country gained independence from France in 1960. Bazoum and his family have been under house arrest ever since the takeover. 


Priyanka Aribindi: We’d call this a spoiler alert, pun intended, but there is now one less conspiracy theorist running for president with one of the major parties. On Monday, Robert F. Kennedy Jr announced that he is now running as an independent. Kennedy originally entered the race as a Democrat, despite holding very few progressive values or policies. You may know him best for being an anti-vaccine activist, and he’s also known to push conspiracy theories on right wing podcasts. Having claimed that wifi gives you cancer and that antidepressants are to blame for school shootings. So just totally normal, totally presidential things to say in this day and age. Kennedy also came out with a new campaign slogan, Declare your Independence. But it didn’t sound like he was ready to do just that. Take a listen. 


[clip of Robert F. Kennedy Jr] I need my speech. [shuffling sounds] I can’t read anything. You can’t read anything. It’s upside down.  


Juanita Tolliver: Oh, [laugh] goodness. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh, God, that does not sound good. Meanwhile, Republicans aren’t too happy about the move, an RNC spokesperson recently called him, quote, “just another radical far left Democrat.” Though most Democratic strategists don’t seem to be too worried that Kennedy’s bid will hurt Biden’s chances at reelection. And Kennedy’s siblings weighed in with a joint statement, calling the announcement, quote, “deeply saddening,” even adding, quote, “Bobby might share the same name as our father, but he does not share the same values, vision or judgment.” 


Juanita Tolliver: They said we don’t know him essentially. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Sorry to this man. 


Juanita Tolliver: And speaking of grifters, New York Representative George Santos, a.k.a. Joann the scammer is facing some new charges, including identity theft. According to an indictment unsealed yesterday, Santos allegedly took credit card information from people who for some reason, gave him money to run for Congress. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Hmm. 


Juanita Tolliver: Prosecutors say his campaign would repeatedly charge their cards without their knowledge and in amounts above the legal individual limit, adding up to more than $44,000. 


Priyanka Aribindi: My God. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. Like you know better. You know exactly what you’re doing when you did this. And in one case, he’s accused of taking over 12 grand from one contributor with most of that cash ending up in his own personal bank account. Okay. I see that as plain stealing, but I’m curious to see what his legal argument for this behavior is going to be. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Very curious. 


Juanita Tolliver: The 23 count indictment replaces the original set of charges filed back in May and also accuses Santos of being involved in a fake loan and donor scheme, which his former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, pleaded guilty to last week. Okay. You know, it’s bad when the team around you is giving in. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Everyone’s falling like dominos. 


Juanita Tolliver: Santos is due back in federal court on October 27th. Meanwhile, Democrat Tom Suozzi, who held Santos’ seat before leaving Congress to run for governor of New York, announced he’s running to get his old job back. Now, this may seem like Real Housewives level drama, but you’re definitely going to want to watch this. That’s because members of both parties are looking at Santos’s seat next year, along with five other districts in New York as they duke it out for control of the House of Representatives. 


Priyanka Aribindi: And finally, a huge victory for the field of economics and actual hard work was announced yesterday. Economic historian Claudia Goldin was awarded a Nobel Prize for her trailblazing research investigating the gender pay gap in the U.S. and the role of women in the labor market. Goldin’s work began in the seventies, when she started looking into the reasons why women are paid less than their male counterparts in the American workforce. Drawing on over 200 years of historical material and data. She found that women’s participation in the workforce wasn’t linear over time. Instead, it changed as social norms adapted to industrialization. She also looked to answer why the pay gap is still around today. In a nutshell, women have been forced to balance their professional and family responsibilities since the Industrial Revolution. That may not seem radical if you have ever asked your boss why your coworker Chad makes more money than you. But consider this, before Goldin economists had never seriously examined how women fit into the workplace, and that is often because women tend to take on lots of unpaid labor, which often isn’t documented or measured. This comes as a surprise to absolutely no women. And if you are a woman listening as your blood is probably uh boiling a little bit now, it’s a little infuriating just to you know be faced with what it is and how we are treated in the workplace. And it is worth mentioning that she is only the third woman to win the Nobel Prize in economics ever, and the first ever to win it on her own. 


Juanita Tolliver: Claudia Goldin, thank you for doing a woman’s work. Like–


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. 


Juanita Tolliver: Clearly no other economist thought to even look at the value of women in the workplace before you. And I just appreciate you. Thanks so much. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely. Hats off to Claudia. And those are the headlines. [music break] That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review and tell your friends to listen. 


Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter, check it out and subscribe at I’m Juanita Tolliver.


Priyanka Aribindi: And I’m Priyanka Aribindi. [music break]


Juanita Tolliver: 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 Martínez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.