Jakob Lazzaro Can't Let Go of bounty hunters and corn mazes. Libby Berry attached to past presidents and a near death experience, and Priyanka Godbole fixated on sexual assault on college campuses. Stories featured in this episode hail from Reply All (Part one and two), CNN, and the New York Times. Transcript below.
<Music: Little Lily Swing>
Jakob Lazzaro: Hey everyone, welcome back to Can't Let Go, NBN podcast where we discuss news and personal stories from the week that we can not let go of. I'm your host, Jakob Lazzaro, and I'm here with two new guests to the show – we have Libby and Priyanka. Guys, you want to introduce yourselves?
Libby Berry: Yeah, hi. I'm Libby Berry. I'm the Editor in Chief of North by Northwestern, and I'm really excited to be on the show today.
Priyanka Godbole: And I'm Priyanka Godbole, and I'm the politics editor of North by Northwestern, and I too am excited to be here today.
Jakob: Ok Libby, do you want to get us started?
Libby: My story this week comes from CNN, you might have seen some pics from it. All five former living presidents made an appearance this weekend at a benefit concert in Texas to raise money for hurricane relief, and I just really like seeing the pictures of all five of them sitting in a line smiling. Some of them are so old, like Jimmy Carter was there, and he’s great.
Jakob: He’s like almost 90, right?
Libby: I think so. And he’s like still building houses for Habitat for Humanity, I think he just offered to negotiate with North Korea if needed. It’s nice to see Obama out in public again, he’s been kind of… not hibernating but he’s been kind of off the grid. So it’s great to see them all together and I thought it was really nice to see that show of unity from both sides of the political aisle.
Jakob: So my story this week comes from, surprise, another podcast. I'm really into this podcast called Reply All, which is from this company called Gimlet. So this week’s episode is called the Skip Tracer, and it basically focused on this lady named Kris. So several years ago, they were in North Carolina driving to dinner, she and her two brothers – they were on vacation. And they got into a really bad car wreck with this other car driven by this guy named Luis. And her two brothers were both killed, and Luis was arrested. He also allegedly had a DUI, he was driving under the influence when he caused this terrible car wreck. He gets arrested, eventually gets released on bail. It’s a really low bail, and Kris showed up at the jail to be there when he was getting his bail because she was sure he was going to run and not show up for the court date. And she went up to him, she was interviewed in the story saying something along the lines of “I want you to know what you’ve taken from me. My two brothers, we were very close.” And then according to her, he said “Talk to my lawyer.” And then he vanished. She eventually gets linked up with this bounty hunter named Michelle in Texas, who is well known among the community of american bounty hunters for being really good. She got linked up to the bounty hunter through this interesting organization called the Remembrance Project, which is run by this lady called Maria and her husband. And what the organization does is advocate for people who have had their family members killed or had crimes committed against them by undocumented immigrants. So Maria, who's the lady who runs the Remembrance Project, contacted Kris, got her story, and then contacted Michelle who was the bounty hunter and is getting her to try and find Luis because the Remembrance Project, as they’re interviewed in the story, they want to use Luis as their big publicity case as for why undocumented immigrants are bad and they cause lots of crime. So that’s the levels of political intrigue. But basically, she figures out that the reason Luis was released on a low bail easily was because he was not an undocumented immigrant. He had this interesting thing called… it’s not asylum, but it’s a temporary right to stay. He was from Honduras, and back in Honduras the gangs there had apparently executed his mother in front of him. So he came to the U.S. fleeing gang violence, and Luis is afraid that if he goes back to Honduras, he’ll get killed. So that’s why the police were not able to hold him, he was able to get this low bail and get out and then he eventually left. But the whole spectrum of the story is that Michelle thinks he’s now in Spain. She was like “If he comes back, he can get asylum. He’s fearful of the violence in his home country,” but then Sruthi was like “I’ve talked to several immigration lawyers and that is probably not going to happen. They’ll probably just deport him.” So it’s this really interesting thing of… there’s this lady named Kris who just wants closure for her two brothers that were killed in this terrible car crash. And then there’s Michelle, who is kind of caught between a rock and a hard place because she feels like, deep empathy for this guy named Luis because he was fleeing violence in his home country, but she felt like he needed to come to justice in the United States. She was afraid that if she found him, she would be inadvertently sending him to his death because he’d probably get deported. And then there’s the whole thing of the Remembrance Project who wants to use Luis as their test case, but then it turns out that he actually wasn’t an undocumented immigrant.
Libby: And like, the statistics about crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, it’ s just not true that they commit inordinate amounts of crime. So it’s really interesting to see how political actors frame these issues for their own benefits. It’s not even true – this man’s status, he was a legal immigrant, so it’s really interesting that they got involved.
Priyanka: Out of curiosity, what exactly was Luis’s status in the United States? Like, did hie have a visa or a temporary green card?
Jakob: They didn’t really say. He came to the country as an undocumented immigrant, but when he was here he ended up with some sort of status as… there’s a name for it that I can’t remember off the top of my head. But it’s basically temporary asylum because he feared violence in his home country. But he did not have permanent residency or any sort of long-term legal status, it was apparently a temporary thing.
Priyanka: So on another slightly serious note, my story this week comes from the New York Times. It’s headlined ”I was illing to do everything: Mothers defend sons accused of sexual assault.”
Priyanka: This story just shows the other side of the coin regarding Betsy DeVos’ rescinding of Obama-era guidelines on campus sexual assault. The four women’s sons were all accused of assaulting college women on their respective college campuses, and all four of these women were really for Betsy DeVos rescinding this crucial piece of legislation, as they believed that while their sons may not have intentionally been wrongfully accused, the consequences for their sons were kind of taken too far in their opinions as mothers, and their kind of fierce maternal instinct kicked in. In the story, they’re quoted as saying that they would have done anything to prevent their sons’ futures being ruined.
Jakob: Oh yeah, because their son’s future was the one who really got ruined in the situation.
Libby: I guess it’s just family relations.
Libby: It would be hard, I guess, to kind of stand up against someone that you really love and care about.
Priyanka: One of the most interesting parts of this that really stood out to me was the New York Times shared this article on Facebook. The quote they used in the Facebook caption was this one – “One mother, Judith, said her son had been expelled after having sex with a student who said she had been too intoxicated to give consent.” And Judith was quoted saying “In my generation, what these girls are going through was never considered assault. It was considered ‘I was stupid, and I got embarrassed.’”
Priyanka: So that really shows how this article is showing the extreme opposite side of all the women who are completely against what DeVos is doing.
<Music: Little Lily Swing>
Jakob: So now we're going to move on to personal stories for this week, and I can start. My friend Paola, who has been on this show previously, had never been to a corn maze because she’s not from the midwest – she’s from Miami. Justin is from the midwest, Tony is also from the midwest, I am from Charleston, South Carolina but I have been to corn mazes before. So Paola was like I need to lose my corn maze virginity. So there was a fall festival at the Lincoln Park Zoo this Saturday, so we went down there. Then we go to the corn maze. Paola was fucking pumped. She was like oh my god, this corn maze is gonna be so great. Never been to a corn maze before. We go into the corn maze, and instead of being – in my opinion – an actual corn maze, they had taken stalks of corn, like, dried ones, and stapled them to wire fencing and arranged the fencing in a maze shape. So it was like, you walked into the maze, and it was tall. You couldn’t see. But it was not a true corn maze.
Libby: But did she think it was a true corn maze?
Jakob: No, I don’t think she thought it was a true corn maze. And she’s not here, so I'm not going to drag her, but I felt sad that her first corn maze experience was this pastiche of what a corn maze supposedly is.
Priyanka: As a Nebraskan, I can speak to corn mazes pretty in-depth, and it sounds like what you guys experienced was kind of a fake corn maze. But if it pleased Paola, that’s really all that matters.
Priyanka: So this weekend, Libby and I decided to go to Devon Street as a kind of post-Diwali celebration on Friday.
Jakob: And what is the significance of Devon Street?
Priyanka: Devon Street is basically called Little India in Chicago. So we went down to Devon Street, and we ate dinner at this really delicious place called Ghareeb Nawaz. But after that, we went to this dessert place which was just an indianized bakery.
Libby: So the desserts were mainly the new thing that I had tried, and I really liked all of them. They were great. So we finished up eating and called our Uber to go back to Evanston. And in the car, my mouth started feeling really dry, and my lip was pulsing. It became more difficult to swallow, so I was like “Hmm. This is kind of weird.” And apparently Priyanka heard me making a weird throat noise…
Libby: Because I was trying to test how well I was swallowing. I was trying to stay calm because maybe I was overreacting. So we get back to Evanston and Priyanka has all our leftovers, so I was like “Oh, i’ll help you carry them inside.” But mainly, I didn’t want to be alone in case I started, like, dying or something.
Libby: So we went inside and I was like “Um, Priyanka, I think I might be having an allergic reaction, I don’t know.” So Priyanka gave me a Benadryl. She thinks she should be a premed student because she knew to give me a Benadryl.
Jakob: I agree.
Priyanka: I'm leaving Medill tomorrow.
Libby: And I drank some water, but I still was feeling really weird. So Priyanka and I made our way to the emergency room.
Jakob: Oh no.
Libby: Which was just, like, ridiculous. We checked in, and they made me wait forever. And they were like, yeah, if it gets worse make sure you tell someone. Like, I guess if I couldn’t breathe, they would want to know.
Priyanka: So at this point, Libby was fully admitted into North Shore Hospital.
Priyanka: It was what you would call a lit Friday night. But I was really glad that I got to get out of the main waiting area, because a lot of families with little kids who were really sick were coming in and I didn’t really want to watch that.
Libby: But then things got kind of wild because Priyanka realized she needed to turn in a Spanish assignment by midnight!
Jakob: Oh no.
Libby: And we were at the hospital, and she’s like I don’t know what to do. And I was like, “I will call you an Uber,” because her phone had died. She’s like “No, i’ll figure it out.” And she was able to call a friend she lives with and have this person submit the assignment on her computer, just in time. But yeah. Priyanka was being a true friend. She almost failed an assignment just so she could stay in the hospital with me.
Jakob: Hashtag my true Northwestern.
Priyanka: I should point out it was a midterm essay.
Jakob: Oh that’s even worse!
Priyanka: So late submissions would not have been accepted, and I will never procrastinate again.
Jakob: So that’s our show this week. You can find our show on northbynorthwestern.com, of course, but it’s in the iTunes and the Google Play store. Just search Can’t Let Go or North by Northwestern, hit subscribe, and you’ll get a notification whenever we have a new episode for you. Our theme song is Little Lily Swing, by Tri-Tachyon under a Creative Commons Attribution License. I'm your host, Jakob Lazzaro.
Priyanka: I'm Priyanka Godbole.
Libby: And I'm Libby Berry.
Jakob: And this is NBN Audio.
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Libby: He’s wearing a plaid shirt under a blazer, which seems so Bill Clinton to me. Kind of trying to be like folksy and a relatable guy, but he’s getting older too. He’s definitely showing his age a bit.