What actors strike means for productions, John Kerry grilled by House GOP: 5 Things podcast

On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Hollywood actors strike.

Hollywood actors strike. What’s that mean for movie and TV production? Plus, House Republicans grill U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry, USA TODAY National Political Correspondent Phillip M. Bailey looks at how diverse GOP presidential candidates weigh their campaigns with a conservative-led backlash against racial equity policies, record temperatures bake much of the country, and USA TODAY National Correspondent Elizabeth Weise has some tips for staying cool, while saving money (and the planet).

Podcasts:True crime, in-depth interviews and more USA TODAY podcasts right here.

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below.This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:…………..

Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Friday, the 14th of July 2023. Today, Hollywood shuts down. Plus, what a diverse Republican presidential field means ahead of 2024, and a severe heat wave continues across the country.

Hollywood actors have voted to strike. They join already striking writers in a move that shuts down the production of countless movies and TV shows. Screen Actors Guild President Fran Drescher said yesterday that they had no choice.

Fran Drescher:.

We are the victims here. We are being victimized by a very greedy entity. I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us.

Taylor Wilson:…………..

Hollywood writers have been on strike since May 2nd, holding out for better payment contracts amid other terms. Actors are also looking for better pay deals, especially from streaming services like Netflix. The strike caps a month of tense negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the major studios. On June 28th, an open letter from more than a thousand SAG members, including Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, and other big stars, expressed the membership’s willingness to strike if they were not able to meet all demands in a new contract. The combined writers and actors strike means the immediate shutdown of any movie or TV show currently in production and includes promotional appearances like red carpet walks. You can learn more by tuning in to this coming Sunday’s episode of 5 Things.

US Climate envoy John Kerry testified yesterday before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability. There he defended his office’s agenda on climate change.

John Kerry:.

And so this warming is now totally documented. Everybody knows it’s happening. So you’ve sort of got a simple choice here. You either stop making those emissions or you can do something with them that’s useful and doesn’t harm things, and there is no proof to this date that we have the ability to be able to do that.

Taylor Wilson:…………..

House Republicans grilled him about what they said was his regular use of a private jet during travels, something Kerry called a stupid lie. And much of the hearing centered on US climate negotiations with China, ahead of Kerry’s trip there this weekend. Republicans cited China’s record of human rights abuses and what lawmakers described as the country’s avoidance and refusing to make bigger slashes to fossil fuel emissions. They also said that it’s not fair China insists it’s still a developing economy and therefore should not be held to the same climate standards as developed nations. Kerry responded saying that the disparity between China’s claims and the size of its economy should not be allowed to stop progress on cutting emissions. Kerry heads for Beijing on Sunday for the first major face-to-face climate discussions in a year between the world’s two worst polluters.

Republicans in 2024 will have the most diverse presidential field in their history. That’s despite an ongoing conservative led backlash against racial equity policies. I spoke with USA TODAY National Political Correspondent Phillip M. Bailey about what Black conservatives want ahead of the election, and about what Senator Tim Scott and other candidates are saying on race ahead of 2024. Welcome back to 5 Things, Phillip.

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Phillip M. Bailey:….

Hey Taylor, how are you?

Taylor Wilson:…………..

Good, thanks. So you write that there are important distinctions that help explain Black conservatives’ political outlooks. What do experts say here?

Phillip M. Bailey:….

Well, look, we have the most diverse Republican field for president probably in history. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina is probably the name that comes to most people’s mind. But besides him, you have former Congressman Will Hurd, political commentator Larry Elder, former Governor Nikki Haley, and others who come from an immigrant background as well. So this is happening at the same time though that there’s this major conservative backlash against diversity, equity and inclusion policies and also teaching about race and slavery in basic school curriculum. In addition to that, the blockbuster US Supreme Court case on affirmative action.

So it’s important to look at this issue and subject, because a lot of times when we talk about Black Republicans and Black conservatives, we look at them through a liberal prism, through a liberal lens. They’re often satirized as colorblind dupes, or at worst, Uncle Tom race traitors who turned their back on the community. And what experts say, and some research that was done by Pew Research when we reached out to their researchers and interviewed them for this, is that look, there are some really important nuances here to pull out. I talked to Kiana Cox, an associate at Pew Research who did a great study and survey in 2022 on Black Republicans, all Black voters really, but Black Republicans in particular. And we find, Taylor, that there is some overlap right between Black Republicans and Democrats in terms of their income, in terms of their ethnic pride and also in terms of them saying that they’ve been discriminated against.

Taylor Wilson:…………..

Turning to Senator Tim Scott, what role does race play in his politics and how does he weigh being a Republican, as you say Phillip, at a time when we’ve seen this conservative-led backlash against DEI policies among other issues?

Phillip M. Bailey:….

Senator Scott – again, of South Carolina, a state that is at the center of racial history in our country, the Civil War started in South Carolina – Senator Scott has never shied away from his heritage. He often talks about being discriminated against as an African-American. He often talks about his upbringing and his grandfather picking cotton. During his campaign, he has confronted liberal assumptions about him and about race. He jousted with the liberal host on The View. He pushed back and had a back and forth with former President Barack Obama when he criticized Black Republicans for downplaying racial inequality. Senator Scott, I think his vision is that look, America did have this original sin, but America’s gotten better.

People might remember that Senator Scott declared in his rebuttal to the State of the Union that America is not a racist country. So Scott is sort of taking a version of Obama’s “hope and change” and adding it to a conservative mix and saying look, the country has gotten much better. The things that my grandfather could not do that my mother may not have been able to do, I’m able to do. I’m able to exercise that in my identity in a way that they were not. I think that always is going to be a clash with more liberal outlooks who remain steadfast in saying that there are persistent inequalities, there are institutional inequalities that are embedded in some of our institutions. Scott would disagree with that vehemently. And I think his candidacy and these other Black Republicans and other non-white conservative voices that are popping up, I think they do represent a challenge to that liberal orthodoxy, particularly at a time when the Republican party is more aggressive against those with diversity initiatives.

We talked to Senator Scott for this story. He points out that look, look at Republicans and their support for HBCU funding, Historically Black College and Universities. Look at support for sickle cell anemia funding, right? He will point to these sort of smaller policy initiatives and say look, there are some efforts here that I’m proud of that the Republican party has been backing. The issue though, and our story tries to get at this, is that when you see Senator Scott and other Black Republicans and other minority republicans make these points, Taylor, they often make them in front of mostly white audiences, right? You see Senator Scott in these town halls hosted by Fox News and it’s a sea of white faces when he talks about how America’s changed. “That’s not my America. My America isn’t a racist country.”.

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And the question I think for Black conservatives and others is, when is that message going to be made in front of non-white audiences? We are seeing an uptick of Black support for Republicans both in the 2020 election and in the 2022 midterms. The criticism that liberal critics and others and observers and experts make of Black Republicans is that look, they’re making them in front of these white audiences because it makes those white audiences feel better. It’s almost like their medicine. It’s like their ice cream. And I think that’s the part for Black Republicans going forward, both in this year’s races and in next year, that will be a test. How will those Black conservatives, how will those Black Republicans answer from non-white voters who may lean more conservative on a lot of issues, but still see themselves and their racial identity as important?

Taylor Wilson:…………..

All right, Phillip M. Bailey, thanks for your insight here. Really appreciate it.

Phillip M. Bailey:….

No problem, Taylor.

Taylor Wilson:…………..

An unrelenting heat wave continued to scorch much of the south central United States yesterday, bringing near record temperatures. As of yesterday afternoon, more than 113 million Americans were under some form of heat alert according to the National Weather Service. That’s about a-third of the country. The alerts included excessive heat warnings and advisories and stretched thousands of miles from Oregon to Louisiana. And Phoenix and Las Vegas, both under excessive heat warnings this week, may challenge each other over the next few days for potentially all time record highs. Phoenix could hit 118 degrees this weekend. Climate scientists also reported this week that the planet as a whole endured its warmest June this year in recorded history.

And if you’re one of those Americans suffering from record heat, you may be wondering how you can save on your air conditioning bill this summer. I spoke with USA TODAY National Correspondent Elizabeth Weise about saving while also helping the planet. Hello, Beth.

Elizabeth Weise:…….

Hey, how are you?

Taylor Wilson:…………..

Good, thanks. Welcome back to the show.

Elizabeth Weise:…….

Always happy to be here. Hope you are cool.

Taylor Wilson:…………..

Yes, trying to be. Well, first off, I just want to start here before we get to some of the solutions. How much do Americans spend on air conditioning each year?

Elizabeth Weise:…….

So it is a chunk of change. If you live in a hot place, there’s no denying it. So on average, the Feds say it’s $262 a year for the average household for air conditioning. But that’s a range. So like folks who live in Seattle or Portland where it’s pretty cool in the winter or where I’m in San Francisco where it’s actually cold, it’s $60 a year. However, if you live someplace that is hot and humid like the Southeast, $525 a year, which I mean, that is not nothing.

Taylor Wilson:…………..

No, not nothing at all. So you wrote about ways to save money and the planet at the same time while still staying cool this summer. One possibility, programming your air conditioning. What’s the idea here?

Elizabeth Weise:…….

The idea is that instead of just when it’s cold, you turn the thermostat up, when it’s hot, you turn your air conditioning on, these ones you can program them so that they warm up your house before you get up in the morning and then they cool it down before you get home at night. It turns out that you can use that to your advantage to save money. And the way you do that is… And this is if you live someplace where there are variable electric rates, which is pretty common now in the US where during times of high demand electric rates go up.

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So I talked to folks with the Department of Energy who said here’s kind of what that looks like. You choose a number that feels comfortable to you. It’s kind of your set point for air conditioning. So that’s your baseline setting. But in the morning you set your thermostat, so it brings the temperature down to about 70. So whenever you leave till about 11:00 to 2:00, which is typically when electric rates start to rise in most parts of the country. So you’ve kind of pre chilled your house when electricity is cheaper, and then you let the thermostat drift up to, say, 75 or so during the afternoon when it’s hotter and electric rates are higher. But because you pre chilled your house, it actually takes it a while to get up to those temperatures.

So you save money because you’ve used the air conditioning when electricity was cheaper to keep your house cool when electricity is more expensive. And then you set your thermostat to drop back down to your preferred temperature of 72 or whatever, around 8:00 or 9:00, which is when electric rates start to drop again. So you’re kind of using your house to hold in the cold.

Taylor Wilson:…………..

Love that idea. You also wrote about this thing called demand response. What is that and how can folks utilize it to save energy and money?

Elizabeth Weise:…….

So the way it works is during a heat wave when demand sky skyrockets, you’ve made an agreement with your electric company that they can raise your thermostat by a couple of degrees during the absolute worst of the demand spike. And then they’ll bring it back down. And you’ve agreed to this, and in exchange for that, you get money back on your bill. So they’ve kind of got a group of people that they know who said when things go crazy and there’s this enormous demand for energy, we’re willing to forego a couple of degrees so that the entire system doesn’t brown out or black out. You usually get 24 hours notice before this is going to happen because they know looking at the weather. And you can also opt out at any time. So if you get that notice, you can say, “You know what? My mom’s here and she’s older and I don’t want the house to go above 72, so I’m not down for it.” And this is increasingly something that electric companies offer. It saves you money.

Taylor Wilson:…………..

Another way to conserve energy has to do with washing and drying clothes. What advice can you give listeners on this?

Elizabeth Weise:…….

It mostly works if you live someplace where there’s a dry heat. And I do like your grandmother did. I mean, I remember going out and hanging up the clothes with my grandmother. You’ll save a lot of energy. And the other thing is, boy, this was a hard one for me. It turns out today’s clothes washers, especially today’s detergents, you don’t need hot water to clean. I mean, unless your clothes are really heavily soiled, cold water works just fine. 90% of the energy that you use to wash clothes is used to heat the water, so you’ll save a chunk of change washing in cold water.

Taylor Wilson:…………..

Wow. All right. Well, amazing tips and tricks as always. Thanks, Elizabeth Weise.

Elizabeth Weise:…….

Always happy to help.

Taylor Wilson:…………..

Thanks for listening to 5 Things. We’re produced by Shannon Rae Green and our executive producer is Laura Beatty. Special thanks to Cherie Saunders, Alexis Gustin, and Mark Sovel. If you have any comments, you can reach us at [email protected]. I’m Taylor Wilson back tomorrow with another episode of 5 Things.

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