Saturday, May 18

This Week: May 10

Photo credit: Helen Quach

A faculty rally on campus. Updates from the war in Gaza. TikTok sues the U.S. government. Podcasts editor Jack Garland and Podcasts contributor Reese Dahlgren discuss these stories and more. Shaun Thomas, the 2024-2025 science and health editor, joins the show.

Jack Garland: Today is Friday, May 10, and you are listening to This Week by Daily Bruin Podcasts.

Thanks for joining us for another episode. Today, we are discussing, on the international side, updates from the war in Gaza, the Pulitzer Prize and a foiled plot to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. And then on the national side, we have some updates regarding the TikTok ban, Trump’s New York trial and the campus protests. I’m Jack Garland. I’m the Podcasts editor and the international correspondent today.

Reese Dahlgren: I’m Reese Dahlgren, and I’m a Podcasts contributor and today’s national correspondent.

Shaun Thomas: Hi, I’m Shaun Thomas, and I’m the Daily Bruin’s newly appointed science and health editor.

JG: Shaun, welcome on the show. It’s good to have you here.

ST: Thanks, Jack. It’s nice to be here.

JG: And Reese, familiar face, good to have you back in the studio.

RD: Yeah, happy to be back.

JG: Reese, what took you so long to come back here? It’s been a while.

RD: I’m sorry. I’ve been busy. We’ve had midterms. I’m struggling.

JG: How are the midterms going?

RD: They’re going okay. It’s mostly essays, so just a lot of writing right now.

JG: What about you, Shaun? Any midterms?

ST: I got one Chem one coming up. Wish me luck.

JG: Good luck. I didn’t have any midterms this quarter.

RD: That’s crazy.

JG: I feel guilty.

All right, let’s get into the news. So we’re still dealing with the fallout from everything that happened on campus last week. So, Sean, can you give us some updates?

ST: Yeah, of course. Yesterday, 60 faculty members held a rally and press conference calling for amnesty for students arrested during the police raid of the Palestinian solidarity encampment last Thursday. The faculty members also called for UC divestment from companies with ties to the Israeli military. The rally was held outside the Charles E. Young Research Library at 11 a.m., following a letter that received over 800 signatures in 48 hours from UC faculty. In the letter, faculty demanded Chancellor Gene Block’s immediate resignation, all legal charges dropped for students, staff and faculty, and full disclosure of all UCLA investments. The letter also called for divestment from military weapons companies. Natalie Masuoka, an associate professor of Asian American Studies and Political Science, said during the press conference that the Asian American Studies Department denounces Block’s decision to call LAPD, California Highway Patrol and the LA Sheriff’s Department to disband the encampment. Susan Slyomovics, an anthropology and Near Eastern Languages professor, who is Jewish, said Block misinterpreted Jewish students in his statements on campus antisemitism and dismantling the encampment, referring back to a Block statement released on April 30 that said tactics used by both protesters and counter-protesters put many students, including Jewish students, in a state of anxiety and fear. Matt Barreto, a professor of Chicano Studies and political science, said that the UCLA Academic Senate’s Legislative Assembly will host a vote of no confidence on Block this week, which would determine if Block is fit to continue occupying his Chancellor position.

JG: And what happened after the rally yesterday?

ST: So after the rally, Jack, faculty members then marched to Murphy Hall to deliver their letter to Block. When the group arrived at Murphy Hall, APEX security, a security firm hired by UCLA, blocked members from entering and refused to accept the letter. The rally was also followed by a gathering of around 100 graduate students in the Court of Sciences to discuss an upcoming strike authorization vote in response to UCLA’s handling of the Palestine solidarity encampment.

JG: Was yesterday’s rally the only example of the faculty pushing back against the administration?

ST: No, it wasn’t. On May 1, a different letter circulated, garnering 1,100 faculty signatures. In this letter, you see faculty condemned the university’s lack of action during the April 30 attack on the Palestine solidarity encampment and called for police to not mobilize against students protesting within the encampment. Following the police sweep of the encampment on May 2, departments and institutes condemned the university’s choice, and some have even called for Chancellor Block to step down.

JG: Thank you for those updates, Shaun.

ST: Yeah, thanks for having me, Jack.

RD: Now, let’s go to the international news of the week. Jack, what’s the top story?

JG: So we have some updates from the war in Gaza. At the time of this recording on Thursday, May 9, a ceasefire deal still has not been reached. There was some optimism last week, and on Monday, Hamas claimed to have accepted a deal, which led to celebrations in the streets of Rafah. However, Israel then came out and said that the deal Hamas agreed to was different than the deal Israel offered them.

RD: So now that there’s no ceasefire, what’s happening?

JG: The two sides are still negotiating in Egypt, and the long-awaited Israeli offensive in Rafah has begun. On Monday, Israel told Palestinians to start evacuating areas of the city. And now Israel claims to have operational control of the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing. Israel has called this operation “limited scope,” and President Biden has said that the Israeli operation has not yet crossed his red line.

RD: And what is President Biden’s red line?

JG: President Biden has said that the U.S. will continue to supply defensive weapons to Israel, but if Israel launches a full scale invasion of Rafah, the U.S. will not supply the weapons used for the invasion. Last week, the administration paused a shipment of heavy bombs to Israel. We’re at a very critical phase of the war right now. The ongoing operation in Rafah and the simultaneous ceasefire negotiations will greatly impact the future of this war and the future of Palestinian-Israeli relations.

RD: And what else is going on in the world?

JG: On Monday, the Pulitzer Prizes were awarded for journalism, letters and drama and music. The Washington Post and New York Times both took home three wins, and Jayne Anne Phillips won the Fiction Pulitzer for her novel “Night Watch.” And in other news, Ukraine said it foiled a Russian plot to kill President Volodymyr Zelensky and other top officials, which led to the arrest of two Ukrainian officials. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, there has been an ongoing effort by Russia to assassinate President Zelenksy.

RD: Thanks for those updates.

JG: Thanks, Reese. And now let’s turn to the national news. What is the top story from this week?

RD: So on Tuesday, TikTok and its parent company ByteDance sued the U.S. government in an effort to block the law that would ban the social media platform in the U.S., unless it was sold off to an American buyer. ByteDance argued that the banning of TikTok will restrict the speech of millions of Americans. In the legal filing, it states that “Banning TikTok is so obviously unconstitutional. In fact, that even the Act sponsors recognize that reality, and therefore, have tried mightily to depict the law, not as a ban at all, but merely a regulation of TikTok’s ownership.” President Biden had signed the law last month as a part of a larger foreign aid package. It states that TikTok’s parent company has nine months to sell the platform to a U.S.-approved buyer with a three month extension if the potential sale was in progress, or, if not, it would face a ban in U.S. app stores. ByteDance currently has no plans to sell TikTok off, which means the company has to shut down its app in the U.S. by next January if the law is upheld.

JG: Can you elaborate on why the US government decided to put this law in action?

RD: Yeah, so critics of TikTok in the U.S. government have suspicions that the app could be spreading misinformation and are worried that Chinese authorities could potentially gain access to American users’ data.

JG: And what’s the Bruin angle in this story?

RD: So according to Pew Research, over half of US adults ages 18 to 34 have used TikTok. If the Bytedance lawsuit successfully blocks the ban, then there will be no changes to the user experience for Americans. If the lawsuit fails, and the ban goes into effect, American users will be unable to download or update TikTok on their devices.

JG: And what else is going on across the country?

RD: So on Monday, Columbia University announced that it would cancel its main graduation commencement ceremony in favor of smaller ceremonies. The cancellation comes about in response to weeks of pro-Palestine protests on its campus. President Biden spoke on the campus protests after days of silence, speaking in favor of the right to protest, but not to “cause chaos.”

JG: What else are we following this week?

RD: On Thursday, Stormy Daniels testified at former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial. The state charges Trump with falsifying business records to cover up a sex scandal, which marks the first criminal trial against a former U.S. president. In Daniels’ testimony, she described her sexual encounter with Trump in 2006 and that he paid her to stay silent during his presidential campaign a decade later in 2016. Trump’s lawyer called for a mistrial, but the judge denied it.

JG: Alright, Reese, thank you for those updates.

RD: Yeah, no problem.

And that’s a wrap for This Week. Tune in next week for another episode.

Jack Garland
Shaun Thomas

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