The News Podcast: Gwen Stefani And Operation Streamline

A deep dive into Gwen Stefani's career, mass deportations under Operation Streamline, Trump and NATO, and recommendations from the newsroom.

In this week's episode:

  • Introducing Field Report, where editor Marisa Carroll unpacks national news with the people covering it. This week she talks to reporter John Stanton about the time he spent inside a court where some immigrants pleaded guilty without even understanding what was happening.

  • On The Lede, VP of news and programming Shani Hilton and senior culture writer Anne Helen Petersen take us back to a time when things were a little less complicated and Gwen Stefani ruled the charts. What a sweet escape.

  • On this week’s Calm Down with Hayes Brown, our Deputy World News Editor tells one very special world leader that NATO isn’t the kind of club where you get kicked out over late fees.

  • In Highly Recommended, BuzzFeed News all-stars offer favorite shows, songs, and podcasts so you can live your best life. See the full list in this highly recommended thread.

Listen to this week’s episode:

Subscribe to The News on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, or Spotify!

Check out BuzzFeed’s other podcasts here and you can find transcripts for other episodes here.

Field Report - 00:46

Julia Furlan: We start this week looking at Operation Streamline, which is the name for a mass deportation process that started in 2005 under the George W. Bush Administration.

The program allows the government to process people charged with unauthorized entry into the US at a breakneck pace. Critics say that it skirts due process by rushing thousands of folks through the deportation courts too quickly for some defendants to even understand.

This is

Field Report,

where editor Marisa Carroll unpacks national news with the people covering it. This week we have John Stanton on the line from New Orleans.

Marisa Carroll: So are you back in New Orleans?

John Stanton: I am indeed!

MC: How long were you in Tucson?

JS: Um, I was there for about 10 days, 12 days?

MC: So John, President Trump has called for ending due process for all immigrants coming into this country illegally. Obviously the country has been focusing on what's going on with kids and families at the border; if this process, if Operation Streamline has been going on since 2005, why in 2018 with everything that's going on at the border, did you say, "I got to get to a Operation Streamline court?"

JS: I mean, I think I think the reason is because this is clearly the kind of thing that the Trump administration is going to look at as a model for how it's going to approach, you know immigration processes going forward I think. You know, we've already seen them trying to find ways to either expedite the way they handle uh claims of asylum, or immigration violations, and uh, or too slow walk asylum claims at the actual border itself, and I think that this streamline has been this thing that has gone on for years. It hasn't gotten a whole lot of attention frankly outside of the border itself. And you know, it's an important thing to look at to sort of see what we could be looking at at a much larger scale going forward.

MC: And what are those conditions like for people who are these immigrants who are facing these hearings? What is it like to, you know to be crossing the border? I know you said that it can be difficult for them to access even water while they're crossing.

JS: Yeah well, you know in Arizona... It's arguably the most dangerous part of the boarder to cross in the United States. It's the Sonoran Desert, temperatures get to be 115, 120 degrees. It's you know hundreds of miles in some cases before you would see anybody really, um, and you know they're being crossed increasingly by coyotes that are working in some sense with the cartels. They're either paying them taxes or they're being forced to uh carry drugs for them. And you know, it's a very harrowing journey. Lots of people are dying every day in the desert frankly. We don't know how many people are out there dying, but we do know that every year hundreds of people are being, hundreds of bodies are being found by activists out in the Sonoran Desert. And you know, so they go through this process, after however long it took them to actually get to the US border and all the problems that go along with that, and then they get put into a detention center for a couple of days at some cases where again they are being fed and then go to the bathroom, but they don't necessarily have blankets. They're sleeping on concrete floors. They can't shower. Um, you know, it's it's pretty—

MC: You said they call it "the icebox," right?

JS: Yeah. Exactly. They called they call these these detention centers "the icebox" because you know, they keep the temperature fairly cold. Now DHS will tell you "well, we don't keep it any colder than it should be and we definitely don't use it as a punitive measure," but people that I've talked to that have been to them have said that they are very very cold.

MC: So John you attended deportation proceedings in Tucson. Can you walk us through what happens?

JS: Yeah, so they meet with lawyers for about 20 minutes in the morning, 40 minutes if they're lucky, and then the afternoon they go in and they sort of cattle call where over the period of several hours a federal judge will hear their cases in batches, and of up to seven or eight people, and rule on all of their cases. They're they're—all of the charges that are against them are for misdemeanor, um illegal entry into the United States, and then they are typically found guilty or they uh, plead guilty, they get time served, and then they are remanded to ICE who then generally deports them. And it can take about on average about six minutes to do that for seven to eight people at a time.

MC: Six minutes for seven or eight people to ultimately be deported?

JS: Yeah, that's right. The judges have generally speaking scripts that they use and you know, they'll sort of run them through their charges.

TAPE: "So you have two deportations. You actually have a felony conviction for in particular too, last time you served 55 days.

JS: They'll ask them a series of questions in terms of whether or not they've been coerced to plead,

TAPE: "Are you pleading guilty today freely and voluntarily? That is, is this your decision to do so?"

JS: If they understand their rights, um, if they understand sort of what's going on,

TAPE: "I want to make sure there's not someone behind the scenes putting pressure on you to give up your right to a trial if that's what you want. You understand ma'am?

JS: And then they will answer. Uh, sometimes they understand what's going on, sometimes they clearly don't. There were several detainees who when they were asked if they had been um, uh coerced for instance, they would just say "I'm guilty."

MC: Do you mean that they were they were pleading guilty? Or were they answering questions in a way that didn't make sense?

JS: Yeah, so for instance the judge would ask um, you know, "has anybody coerced you into pleading guilty today?" And they would just say uh, "culpable," which is furnished for for uh guilty, not realizing that what I think that what the judge was asking wasn't "are you guilty" but "are you you know, has anybody forced you to do this" essentially. And they weren't understanding what they were being asked. They only knew that they were told by their attorneys to say that they were guilty. You know that really raised a flag for me because if you know, you've been told that and the judge says "well has anybody coerced you" and the only answer you can come up with is "I'm guilty," that doesn't answer the question; that that does raise the potential for people feeling like they have no choice.

MC: What was the mood like in the room when that was happening? When you saw someone answer "guilty" to a question that "guilty" or "not guilty" couldn't even be the answer?

JS: You know again, I think—that was one of the more striking things of it. Um, the migrants, they had no idea really what was going on. I think most of them, um, the lawyers and the clerks and the US Marshals and the judge, to them it happened so many times before they didn't notice.

MC: So you reported on a Guatemalan immigrant who went through an Operation Streamline proceeding. Can you tell us a little about his example? Because he didn't speak Spanish, right?

JS: Yeah, so um, Mr. Lux-Tom, he was caught coming across the border in Arizona, I believe the day or two before the court case that I saw, and he was part of a group of the first sort of set of uh migrants that were being tried that day. And none of them spoke enough Spanish or English to be able to participate in their in their trial. And that day there was no um translator on hand that could speak their native languages. He speaks K’iche, which is a Guatemalan um, Indian dialect. And so they were—for most of them they were dismissing the charges against them, sending them to ICE and having them deported. In his case he had been already found, already pled guilty to an illegal Crossing in January in Texas. And his lawyer, you know raised an objection to a continuance that the government wanted because government wanted to put him in jail, and the lawyer said "look, you know, my client at the time was never given the ability to speak to a lawyer on his own. Um, he was tried in a court in Pecos, Texas," which is renowned amongst, uh immigration attorneys for being really a like a just a factory for deportations essentially where they do they do these batches at 20 at a time with one lawyer representing all of them and the lawyers will generally meet with all of these detainees all at once and um, you know the time when he was in Pecos, he had no one around who spoke K’iche. He had no idea what was happening to him. They never asked him if he wanted a translator. And they just deported him. And then he came back and so um, you know in this instance the judge agreed to give uh, the lawyer the ability to get a translator to speak with his client. Um, but more remarkably she she really decided to sort of do something I thought was um interesting, which is that she basically acknowledged that due process in some of these cases is really being eroded to the point that detainees are being tried and found guilty without ever understanding what's going on around them or what their rights are. And it was pretty extraordinary.

MC: So when did Operation Streamline begin and what was it meant to do?

JS: It started in uh, 2005 during the Bush Administration when there was a spike in Central American migrants coming to the border and being apprehended crossing, um, illegally. And you know at the time it was designed to try to expedite the deportation process. And you know the people that argue for it will say "these are people that have crossed illegally, you know, they're going to have been found guilty, um of these crimes anyway, um, you know, sort of going through them this quickly is necessary." And you know, they also do have the ability, if you want to try to ask for asylum, once your case is over, you can ask for asylum, which can in some cases keep you from being deported. And you know for a lot of defense attorneys, they think it's a good thing because it keeps their clients out of jail. A lot of people would rather not have to go through that and spend sometimes up to a year or more in federal prison. So there is, you know, an upside to going through this process. I think the detractors and the people that are really critics of it say that we’re not affording people the most fundamental aspects of due process.

MC: So do the lawyers and experts you spoke to say that this is pretty normal in any legal proceeding in the U.S., seeing seven or eight people in six minutes and deciding on all of their cases?

JS: No. I think, you know, there are certainly examples of that for instance, you go to traffic court in some jurisdictions, and they’ll do batches of people for instance. I know that, like, here in New Orleans for instance, you know, like I’ve heard that there are cases where they’ll do it for Mardi Gras — drunk tank cases, things like that. But even in those instances, you have the ability to get your own lawyer, you have the ability to talk to somebody, you know, you have a better sense of what’s going on around you. This is unique certainly within the immigration context on the operation streamline courts, which are now starting this week all across the entire Southern border this week.

MC: The hearings started in San Diego this week. Has there been a response — have there been many cases handled, have there been protests? What’s been going on on the ground there?

JS: You know one of the interesting things I’m going to be looking for in San Diego is see whether or not judges and the clerks and the defense lawyers and frankly everybody falls into this sort of very mundane sort of approach to the bureaucracy of the whole thing. There was a banality to the proceedings in Tucson, which was a little bit unsettling, you know, this sense that everybody had done this a thousand times before, they were going to do it a thousand more after that. That was the case for everyone except for the immigrants themselves. What they were doing was just essentially pushing buttons and pulling levers. There was no there was no real sense that these were human beings that were being processed, which is disconcerting to see when you have people that are fleeing, you know, from from danger. And I know that like in places like Tucson, for instance, activists and lawyers have fought that sort of bureaucratic sense as hard as they can and it’ll be interesting to see whether or not they are successful in San Diego.

JS: President Trump has said he wants to get rid of the ability of of immigrants to even ask for any sort of a trial that he wants them to be automatically turned away at the border

CLIP: Without Borders. We do not have a country folks. You can’t allow people to pour into our country. Tell people not to come to our country illegally, that’s the solution.

JS: And no one really thinks that that’s going to end up happening at least anytime soon. But the bigger concern is that these kinds of expedited reviews and judicial processes could start to be put into place across the board for immigration cases, um, and that that this could become eventually a model for how we handle, you know, immigration courts. And how we handle these claims against people for crossing the border illegally, and that due process will be further eroded essentially through administrative rulemaking.

MC: Well, keep us posted on on where this goes. I know it’s, you know, it’s something that you’re going to keep covering.

JS: Absolutely.

JF: That was Marisa Carroll talking to John Stanton.

Hi Jojo! Whenever you hear that sweet little song, that’s JoJo our friendly news bot who’s here to help you get more info on a story we’re talking about. To talk to JoJo, just look at the show notes for this episode and text JoJo the keyword we give you.

Jojo’s number is 929.236.9577. To read John Stanton’s story for example, text JoJo the word “streamline.”

The Lede - 12:59

[Clip from "Just A Girl"]

JF: For The Lede this week, we’re going back in time when things were a little...less complicated, and Gwen Stefani ruled the charts. I’ll let Shani Hilton and our foremost celebrity expert Anne Helen Petersen take it from here.

Shani Hilton: It's kind of nice to talk about something not terrible.

Anne Helen Petersen: Yes!

SH: I was really excited to read this big retrospective of Gwen's career and kind of who she is, in part because I grew up in southern California pretty much an hour away from Anaheim and Orange County where she's from, and I was a child in the mid 90s, I was obsessed with No Doubt I was obsessed with Gwen Stefani. And over the years we've kind of grown apart, I would say.

AHP: Same.

SH: But in reading your piece, I really... it was kind of nice to just look back on who she is, what she's done, all of that, and sort of put her into context for who she is now. And I think what I liked best about your piece is that you argue that she is the same person she's always been, even though a lot of people who have followed her career for a long time think like, "what, what is she doing? What's going on with Gwen Stefani?"

AHP: Yeah! Like you I had these very vivd memories and obsessions with Stefani from the 90s. And then... grew apart. But you know through the, through looking, really digging deep through every profile and article and interview that she's done, I discovered not only that she had this really interesting contradiction at the heart of her image when she first became a star, but how she's maintained that over the last two decades.

SH: And so you end your story with kind of a window into her life now. You attended a performance that she did as part of a residency in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. Tell me about that.

AHP: Yeah so she, there's this new residency called Just a Girl which, you know, both hearkens back to the beginnings of her her image in the mid-90s. I wasn't expecting a ton. Like I was like, "I don't know will this be interesting?" Like when I went to Britney's residency, which was in the same theater, I was like “this is going to be very meaningful to me.” And so I had kind of low expectations for this and I was blown away by it. She has always been known for this incredible energy on stage. Like she's kind of her own hype man, um, because she doesn't dance so she just is like, using her own energy to infect the crowd, and it absolutely worked.

SH: Reading it, I got jealous and what I did, was that I just ended up listening to No Doubt all day yesterday.

AHP: Yes! Same! And like revisiting those early videos, which is an exercise in nostalgia, but also, in like having this weird throwback to a time when someone's style could be so incredibly influential, and like I know that the Kardashians are influential in a slightly different way, but like, the way that Stefani's specific intervention into fashion and the way she kind of hodgepodged together these different styles, which I didn't realize but I'm sure people from Southern California realized were actually very much a reflection of the hodgepodge of different styles that comes out of Orange County.

SH: Yeah, so, you know when I was growing up, a lot of what she was wearing the way that she was dressing was very much like LA Chola culture combined with like, Indian Eastern influences. And you mentioned this in the piece, her boyfriend, Tony Kanal, who inspired a lot of her early music is Indian, and so clearly she was inspired by his family. And then also the platinum blond hair which was you know, Marilyn and Madonna. Yet she was so distinctly herself, but it's funny because she sort of got into a little bit of trouble in the 2000s with the Harajuku girls, but I think she got away with it just before we had the technology to like, crush stars with backlash. And so she like never had to answer for it in a way that other people would today.

AHP: Yeah. So the big item of fashion that she Incorporated from Indian cultural traditions is the bindi that she wore in a lot of videos and in public appearances and that sort of thing. And not only was it commodified, like you could buy bindi kids at Nordstrom but, no one criticized it, there was never like the use of the word "cultural appropriation." It's not in any of the press from the time. I'm sure people were talking about it. You know, I've talked to some Indian women who are contemporaries and one of them told me that looking at it in hindsight — she's a cultural scholar like she obviously it's cultural appropriation — but what she remembers feeling was that, for the first time, you know an object of my culture of is being treated as glamorous.

SH: No, totally. That was how I viewed it and I'm not Indian, so obviously have a different frame of reference but like, for me was like, oh she's bringing this thing to the mainstream in a positive way.

AHP: Right.

SH: And our frame of reference is just so different now than it was then.

AHP: Yeah, totally. We understand that it's more than just visibility, that there's also like oh, it's a white woman wearing this bindi. So she got away with it for lack of a better phrase, um in the mid and late 90s and then because no one had said like, "oh, maybe you should think about this," then she also continued to do this sort of magpie-like cultural appropriation with the fashion of this group of Japanese women and girls who are part of a certain kind of neighborhood in Tokyo.

[Clip from "Harajuku Girls"]

AHP: Then she took it a step further and also have employed four women who were wearing this style and who would stand behind her at public events.

SH: Yes. I remember that, and a little bit of call out culture picked that up.

AHP: Yes.

SH: But she really truly believes that she was doing a positive thing and like fundamentally does not get why people would even be upset about it, which is fascinating, but also speaks to who she is.

AHP: Totally. So the most visible call-out was Margaret Cho who is a Korean American comedian was like, "This is bullshit." And Gwen Stefani reacted so negatively, like a year after it happened, she was talking to Entertainment Weekly and she's like, "Margaret Cho didn't do her research. There's two sides, I'm just trying to appreciate the culture."

SH: She said something that was like, "How embarrassing for Margaret Cho."

AHP: She said that! She really did. Gwen Stefani said, "How embarrassing that she didn't do her research." But it goes to show you like Gwen Stefani hadn't learned that this was the sort of thing that would have that sort of reaction.

SH: Yeah, looking at her now and she's in this really romantic, seemingly real relationship with Blake Shelton. It actually does make a funny sort of sense, if you take a minute to think about it.

AHP: Totally. Well and the other thing is like, reading a bunch about her now, and this is you know, somewhat presumptuous, but like I think that Gavin Rossdale was never as like demonstrative about their relationship as she wanted him to be. Like they, they kept it very private.

SH: Gavin Rossdale by the way was the front man and lead singer for Bush and they were married for several years.

AHP: Yeah, but Blake like, his Instagram is just like all of just Gwen all the time. And those are things that Gavin Rossdale never did and I think you know, part of it too, this is me mapping a lot of other dynamics on to it, but it is one of those classic stories of like, one member of the celebrity couple becomes much more famous than the other and how does the other person manage with that decrease in visibility and fame and worth.

SH: And Blake is actually like on her level in terms of just the size of his profile, I think.

AHP: Totally, and you know, it's one of those things where that makes sense like, oh, you have two people who are actually pretty traditional and conservative. Like of course. Even if their musical styles or their aesthetic, you know fashion styles are somewhat different, it makes total sense that two people who are on the height of celebrity that they can be on The Voice that they would be together.

[Clip from "Go Ahead and Break My Heart"]

SH: So I, obviously I was one of those people when that certain happening was like this is a showmance like what ... why ... where ... um ... but then as I was doing my little No Doubt retrospective recently and listening to a lot of the band's music — and her solo stuff — I think one thing that I, as a romantic, always loved about Gwen Stefani/No Doubt was how much of her music was about love and relationships.

AHP: Yeah.

SH: And like longing for perfect love and all of those things, but set to a soundtrack that didn't typically address, you know, the matters of the heart of young women.

AHP: Yeah, like it wasn't like Celine Dion's like "My Heart Will Go On."

[Clip from "Underneath It All"]

AHP: And I loved that. And like, even the videos too, like how they kind of hinted at those romances, like to me the fact that she was singing to a member of the band the song about their breakup — like the video for "Don't Speak" is just so ... it speaks to your ninth grade heart in a way that's incredibly powerful.

SH: Absolutely, absolutely.

AHP: And then she also like, you know the songs that she's doing now, I wasn't as familiar with them, but at the residency they brought the house down. Like people love them. There's this one about her divorce that the entire stadium was just on their feet going crazy for it.

[Clip from "Used to Love You"]

AHP: It's about basically like, how do you find yourself after a divorce or after the end of a really long-term meaningful relationship? And you know, that's a common thread, like that's something that speaks to women that are in their late 30s or 40s who maybe, you know knew a different valence of Gwen Stefani when they were teens.

SH: But one way that she's not like a lot of women of her era in their 30s and 40s is that she continues to really distance herself from the idea of being a feminist even though I think anybody who knew her work in the 90s would have put her in that bucket.

AHP: Yeah, for sure and like even then, you know, it's hard to resituate her in the 90s because like that point, '95, '96, there were really so few public women who would say that they were feminists. Like it was a radical thing to do to be like, "I'm a feminist." And you could, you know, espouse many different tenants of feminism, but even you know, something like Lilith Fair just tried to distance itself in some ways from feminism. It's like, "No, we're celebrating women!" Lilith Fair, for those of you who don't know, is this incredibly important and iconic three-year tour led by Sarah McLachlan, of like basically every important female artist — not Gwen Stefani. Gwen Stefani was most definitely not a part of Lilith Fair, but it was like, uh, Tracy Chapman, Indigo Girls, like that sort of crunchy female artist touring in the late 90s. And over the course of the 2000s, feminism lost that kind of "F-word" status. We emerged out of the period that's been called post-feminism, and other stars have looked back and said like, "Oh, yeah, I was a feminist, I didn't realize what I believed, that this was a word that could be used to describe it." But she's held firm.

SH: It's so funny because she so clearly believes in freedom and personal choice and like, all the things that are just like basic, basic corporate feminism, and yet she still can't bring herself to put that label on her.

AHP: Well, I think it's the same as like a lot of women who don't see the need to affix themselves to a larger movement because they're like, "I'm not mad. I'm not disenfranchised. Why would I need this label and that to me?" And that, to me, it's a highly individualistic way of seeing the world. Whereas I think many, many women, especially women who are interested in intersectional feminism which is, you know, not just white women feminism. Many, many women see that label as a way of saying like, "I see myself as a greater structural movement that might not personally make my life that much better because my life is pretty good, but I'm trying to help people who might not have it as good as me."

SH: Gwen Stefani, who knew?

AHP: That's the thing! Every time I do one of these celebrity profiles people are like, "Did you know that she was interesting?" Or "Did you know what you're gonna find?" I was like no, you just have to look back really closely at how the images evolved. Buy a lot of magazines on eBay, which is what I do, and there's always something interesting there.

SH: Annie, what's your recommendation for, somebody who wants to like dive back into the world of No Doubt?

AHP: I would recommend the video for "Don't Speak."

[Clip from "Don't Speak"]

AHP: And I know that's kind of like an expected recommendation, but I talk about this in the piece, it does such an amazing job of juxtaposing these two different Gwens that are in contradiction. So the like, feminine Gwen is this iconic blue and white polka dot dress that anyone who's watched that video will remember, and then it's all this live footage of her performing and it's like a completely different creature. But also I think does a great job of showing how women aren't just one thing. They do hold all of these contradictions.

SH: My recommendation is their 2000 album "Return of Saturn," which I was personally obsessed with when I came out. They did it right around the time they all turned 30, which was why it's called "Return of Saturn." I was listening to the album yesterday and I ... It's such a romantic album.

[Clip from "Simple Kind of Life"]

SH: It's just really beautiful. Highly recommend.

JF: That was Shani Hilton talking to Aunt Helen Peterson and both of them channeling Gwen Stefani. Text the word "Gwen" to get a hand-picked playlist of YouTube videos that we put together just for you so that you too can relive the 90s.

JF: That was Shani Hilton talking to Anne Helen Petersen and channeling Gwen Stefani.

Text Jojo the word “gwen” to get a hand-picked playlist of youtube videos that everyone has been watching so you too can get in on the No Doubt.

Calm Down with Hayes Brown - 28:28

JF: Next Up, we have a very special episode of Calm Down with Hayes Brown.

Hayes Brown: Hi guys. Normally, here at Calm Down HQ, we want to speak to all of you. But today we're focusing in on one subject. Mr. President, Mr. Trump, Donald. This Calm Down if for you. This week, President Trump has been on a whirlwind international adventure taking him to meet with his counterparts at NATO's annual summit.

Last year's was a bit of a shit show.

TAPE: "I have been very very direct with Secretary Stoltenberg and members of the alliance in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share."

This year's was a lot of a shit show. Trump has spent the last year and half or so in office just absolutely wailing on NATO.

TAPE: "The countries in NATO are not paying their fair share. In our businesses, we call it, they are delinquent. We're getting ripped by everybody. We're getting ripped in NATO."

On the first day of the summit, he said that Germany's Angela Merkel is actually the one beholden to Russia. Not him.

TAPE: "Germany is totally controlled by Russia."

In 2014, NATO members agreed that they all spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense.

On his way out the door, Trump said that they'd actually agreed to spend up to 4 percent — a claim that France quickly said was tres untrue. Before the summit even began, Trump, yet again, lambasted NATO's other 28 members for being quote "delinquent for many years in payments that have not been made." A lot of people have tried to get the president to calm down. But let's give this a shot.

To start, let's be clear. Nobody owes delinquent fees on anything. NATO isn't that kind of club. Nobody's getting kicked out over late fees. NATO is a military alliance. They're there to have each other's backs when the going gets tough, like after September 11th, which is the only time NATO has leapt into action. And look, yes, it's been tough for a lot of these countries to hit that 2 percent defense spending mark. But the number has been going up over the years and none of them owed the US or NATO back-pay like Trump is suggesting. So really, Trump has kind of won on this one, which begs the question: Why is he still harping on this?

He's also said that NATO isn't necessary anymore, which is confusing because why are you yelling at people to pay more for something that isn't working?

NATO was founded to try to block Russia's expansion into Europe. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, it's been tough to figure out what's next, but pretty much all of NATO agrees these days that Russia should be a priority again. Breaking up NATO on the other hand, has been a priority of Vladimir Putin's for years, and now it looks like he's actually managed to find a way to drive a wedge into the group. Trump is set to meet with Putin in Helsinki on July 16th, a few days after we taped this.

Before you get there. Mr. President, if you're listening, I would love if you could just take a second to think about what your real friends in NATO said. Take a deep breath, and calm down.

JF: That was for you, Mr. President.

If you want to follow everybody on this episode all around the weird depths of the internet text JoJo the word "whomst" for a list of everybody's handles. Again that's "whomst."

And JoJo's number is right in the description for this episode.

Highly Recommended - 32:08

JF: This is Highly Recommended, where we take a mic around the BuzzFeed Newsroom, interrupt people while they're working, and ask them what they like! So that you can like it.

Ahmed Ali Akbar: First of all I recommend not binging TV shows. I recommend just taking it easy and grazing. Which is what I've been doing a lot of. So I have been slowly watching Queer Eye. And I've just been tuning in whenever I feel like I need a good cry. Um, I've been watching an old anime that I've always wanted to watch, Hunter x Hunter. The other thing that I've always wanted to watch that I've been like grazing on is Jane the Virgin!

Eric Morrow: Um, so I really like the Double Pivot Podcast. I follow the writers on Twitter and I really like what they have to say.

Sara Yasin: So there's this singer Mabel, and she has this song, it's called Ring Ring. It's with Jax Jones and I really really really am obsessed with her.

TAPE: Ring Ring

SY: The lyrics are really terrible, but the song is really great and I think it should be the song of the summer but there's no justice, so it's not going to happen. But it's good.

Hayes Brown: Oh well, hello there. Uh, I think that this weekend I'm going to give everyone the gift of delightful summer trash, which in this case is Claws, a show on TNT in its second season.

CLIP: It's nails, gangsters, sex, and more.

If you're into that little mash up, you're gonna be into Claws.

HB: Picture this: Niecy Nash, Florida, crime, drugs, jokes. There's Russians in season 2. You should definitely check it out; make your life better.

Sylvia Obell: I highly recommend summertime Magic by Childish Gambino. It's a brand new song that he just put out today and I've already listened to it six times.

TAPE: You feel like summertime, you took this heart of mine.

SO: It feels like summer.

JF: That was: Hayes Brown, Eric Morrow, Sara Yasin, Ahmed Ali Akbar, and Sylvia Obell with the recommendations.

If you want to see all that good stuff for yourself, just text JoJo the word “rec” — R-E-C. Again, their number is 929-236-9577 and it’s in the notes for this episode!


This episode was produced by the PodSquad! That's Megan Detrie, Alex Laughlin, Camila Salazar, and me, Julia Furlan. Our boss is Cindy Vanegas-Gesuale, and our music is by Chad Crouch. We had some production support this week from Charlie Warzel. And special thank you to JoJo, who, fun fact: used to be in a No Doubt cover band called “some doubts.”

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