MoistCritikal Scam Accusations, Barbie, Carlee Russell Theories Spread, Abbott Border Crisis, & More
- Today we're talking about border patrol agents reportedly being ordered to push migrant kids and babies back into the Rio Grande, questions around Carlee Russell's disappearance and later reemergence now heating up, Trump's about to get indicted again, Moist Critical is throwing out scamming accusations, the disturbing situation around the Gilgo Beach Killer. We're gonna talk about all that in so much more in today's brand new Philip DeFranco show, your daily dive into the news. So buckle up, hit that like button and let's just jump into it. Starting with, we've gotta talk about updates involving the mysterious disappearance of Carlee Russell. She's the Alabama woman who vanished for two days after calling 911 about a toddler she said she saw on the side of the highway, then showing up back home Saturday night. And since then, her boyfriend has asked people to be respectful of her situation and saying, "She was literally fighting for her life for 48 hours, so until she's physically and mentally stable again, she is not able to give any updates or whereabouts on her kidnapper at this very moment."
And her mother promising to give the media more information when they're ready. But the internet has been floating ideas and theories about what happened in the meantime. Like there being one theory that sex traffickers used the supposed toddler is bait to lure Russell into a trap. Though there, the nonprofit that runs a national human trafficking hotline doubts those claims saying, "As far as we are aware, this is not a tactic that traffickers use." And adding, "Far more common ways that traffickers use to recruit is that it's a family member. You have a lifelong tie to them and they will exploit that."
And so as time's gone on, we've increasingly seen more people accusing Russell of fabricating her own disappearance and calling the whole thing a hoax, with them pointing to unexplained details like the whereabouts of the supposedly missing toddler or a 911 recording that seemingly shows Russell's family reporting a call from her at a motel about five miles from where she went missing Saturday night. Though in that same call, first responders say the front desk staff had no residents checked in under Russell's name. And so with all this you have the likes of conservative pundit Candace Owens suggesting Russell May be the female Jussie Smollett. Though that and other skepticism provoking an angry response from many online, who say the conspiracy theories are racist. People saying things like, "What's wild is how the allegations of a hoax have started with absolutely no evidence.
Y'all don't trust black women. Y'all don't believe black women. Y'all don't even want the bare minimum of safety for us."
And others adding, "It's nasty work to believe that because your thirst for entertainment has not been quenched by Carlee Russell and her family, that something is off. They're entitled to privacy, period. If you are that concerned for safety reasons about what happened to her, contact the Hoover Police Department." But ultimately for now as we're recording, that's where things stand.
And honestly, until there's more concrete information that clears up all the speculation, this is gonna remain a mystery and people are gonna keep sounding off on it. Though in the meantime, I gotta pass the question off to you. What are your thoughts here? And then, this guy's been described as a big, goofy family man. He is had a successful career, a 25 year marriage and it turns out he is one of Long Island's most notorious serial killers.
Or at least that's what investigators are claiming, now that they've arrested a suspect for the Gilgo Beach murders; which if you haven't heard of, this goes back to 2010, when the remains of nine women, one man and one toddler were found off a highway near Gilgo Beach. Most of the victims were sex workers in their twenties who went missing over the previous few years. But for the next 13 years, the case went cold with the Gilgo Beach Killer becoming this kind of boogeyman for the local area. That is until last week, when police announced that they had found the man who did it. A hulking, six-foot-four, 59 year old creep by the name of Rex Heuermann. - Rex Heuermann. I'm an architect,
I'm an architectural consultant. I'm a troubleshooter. Born and raised on Long Island, - Okay. - Been working in Manhattan since 1987.
- And as for the evidence, police reportedly connected him to the murders through a discarded pizza box with DNA matching a hair found on the burlap used to wrap a body, as well as four burner phones Police say that he activated before each murder and shut off afterward. Court records showing a Google search history that allegedly shows he closely followed the murder investigation, looked up sex workers and torture porn, and stalked and harassed the victim's families after killing them. Also, inside his home, Detectives reportedly found over 200 guns and a life-sized doll inside a glass case. But all of this leading to last week, with video capturing the moment when agents in dark suits swarmed on Fifth Avenue in New York for his arrest.
And on Thursday he was charged with three counts of first degree murder and he is the prime suspect in a fourth. Though there he pled not guilty and his lawyer saying that he wept when he was arrested. Well, what's been perhaps most shocking for so many people, is how normal this guy appeared to be.
At the same time that he allegedly murdered several women, he also was living the suburban life with his wife and two kids. Also notably there, police saying that his wife's hair was found on multiple bodies, though she was outta state when the murders happened. And the county commissioner saying that he believes that the family were completely unaware of his crimes.
Saying, "They were shocked, they were disgusted, they were embarrassed." Meanwhile, you had neighbors telling The Times that the family was reclusive and enigmatic; cashiers at a supermarket saying they knew them as this quiet, cheerless family that shopped several times a week, though Heuermann never accompanied them. But then also you had others describing him as a menace, saying they told their kids to avoid his house on Halloween, that he glared at them while swinging an ax in his front yard, with one neighbor saying, "We would cross the street."
"He was somebody you don't wanna approach." And all the descriptions of people either who were close in proximity to him, or actually knew him, kind of show how he was able to compartmentalize things. But these back-to-back lines from the New York Times, I think really highlighting this, with the article stating, "Mr. Heuermann's friends and clients in the real estate business were flabbergasted."
But then saying his neighbor said, "I wasn't surprised at all-- because of all the creepiness." And I think that's why you should almost never be surprised by things, because whoever you get in the moment, that's who they're giving you. But with all this you do still have to keep in mind, Heuermann is still insisting on his innocence.
And so we're gonna have to see how this trial plays out. And then, "Barbenheimer" is fast approaching, we're just now days away. And with the dual strike happening right now, while there's a lot of excitement, there're also a lot of questions. Because you got some consumers calling for a boycott of streaming services, others wondering if they're crossing some sort of picket line just by going to see a movie in the theaters. Some wondering, "Do I need to cancel my tickets to show solidarity?" And while there, the the short answer is no, that's not necessary. You can still go to the theaters and watch TV and support the writers and actors, with right now neither of the guilds asking consumers to boycott any content, and so your "Barbenheimer" double feature can continue as planned.
Though current box office estimates say that at least domestically, about twice as many people are expected to go watch "Barbie." But more specifically with the situation, you had one WGA strike captain tweeting: "WGA nor SAG have asked for a boycott of the streamers. So that's not union guidelines, but you do you. But you can donate to the entertainment fund.
Or bring water to the picket lines, it's really hot outside. Or food." Meanwhile, you also have others encouraging people to go to the theater and watch television, saying, "The show slash movies created prior to the strike still deserve your support." And adding, "Do not boycott anything coming out soon unless the unions call for it. Go see Barbie, Oppenheimer." Another SAG strike captain adding, "A reminder SAG has not called for a consumer boycott.
Please keep watching TV and films. If anything, this helps prove the studios need us. AI doesn't have the soul or emotion real people do.
Also this helps prove marginalized stories and actors are sorely needed in our industry." Which on that note, if you wanna donate to the Entertainment Community Fund, which helps impacted workers as well as the Union Solidarity Fund, I'll link to those down below. And then, is it a scam or is it just trash? That is the debate around this situation involving two creators by the name of Moist Critical and Nick The User, because Moist Critical says that he got scammed. Yesterday posting a video saying he was going through Steam to play some of the worst games there. When he came across a game called "Greed of Man" with terrible reviews.
Saying it looked like a fun, shitty game, it caught his attention normally at a $30 price tag, though he got it on sale for $20. - Twenty dollars for the worst experience I've ever had on Bad Games Night. The game's not a scam just because it's bad. I'm gonna get into it in a moment. It's a legitimate, genuine scam by all definitions. - With him then going on to describe the game as empty and non-functional, saying he went to the Steam community forums to see if there was any chatter, and, - It turns out this game was actually developed by a TikTok star.
His name is Nick The User. And he is apparently notorious for making fake games and hosing his audience down for money, buying into the idea that he's a great game developer releasing hit products. - With "Greed of Man" apparently being his latest endeavor, which he initially promised would be free to play, but then it hit the market at $30 even though the price was eventually lowered. And according to Moist, he believes that one aspect of it might be similar to a phishing scam as well. Because as he was playing it on Steam, tons of people started telling him it was a scam. He then later stopped playing to get a refund, but also realized to play the game he had to put his steam account information in.
So he speculated, - Let me run through how I think this goes. I think what's happened here is Nick has made games like this, which are basically like "GTA Online" or "ROBLOX Open World," come in, come on. And what happens is when you try and play the game, you have to sign up on his website, which I did, and you have to link your Steam, which I did like an absolute buffoon. So I think what he does then, is he maybe sells your information somewhere.
- And saying he doesn't think Nick uses the information himself, but rather he's a data harvester. And notably, Moist isn't the first YouTuber speaking out against Nick. Just last week, another YouTuber by the name of BigfryTV also made similar allegations, saying Nick amassed a large audience promoting a different failed game before "Greed of Man," saying he's now making almost $3,000 a month off of his Patreon, where he says he promises stuff like early access betas, including to "Greed of Man," so you have all that.
And then for his part, Nick, who is apparently only 17, responded to previous scamming accusations by saying he's just a high schooler who does this for fun on the side. And adding, - Scams are something where you get your money taken and you don't get anything out of it. This, it's a Steam game.
You can buy the game and if you don't like it, you refund it. - And today he actually made a video responding to Moist, saying he understands why he thinks the game's a scam and wants to correct any wrongs. - And about calling all of my games and projects scams, I just don't think I fully understand how large my audience truly is. Like in my mind when I was making those projects, I had a really small community of just a few people that were kind of interested and were willing to pay a decent amount of money to help me develop and learn new skills with the game development. But I understand now that my community's so big that if I release a project, it's gotta be good or else it's gonna be listed as a scam. - Which he said he takes responsibility for, saying he thought only a couple people would spend $30, that he didn't anticipate so many people buying it.
And so with that saying he's working to get the game to a better state. He also addressed the choice to charge for the game instead of making it free, saying that he wants to build up so he can start his own studio. - I'm not trying to be a scammer, I am trying to be a genuine developer and I just didn't approach things correctly.
- He also made a video showing his future plans for "Greed of Man" and responded to a comment asking about the login info on his website. And to that, he said it's for moderation and to prevent pirating, but he's working on a way to get seamlessly logged in without the website. With all that then bringing us back to the question of: is it actually a scam or is it just trash? Like a variation of that other game that we constantly play out.
Is it evil or just stupid? Part of the reason they're always such big debates around those things is it's an argument around intent. And so we'll have to wait to see how things play out. But in the meantime, I'd love to know which camp you land in. Are you in the camp of this was a scam or something scammy? Or do you think this is a situation where a kid got in over his head and now a bunch of people are piling on? Which side are you agreeing with and why? And then we're hoping to get back to Italy someday. So I'm working on my Italiano.
(speaking in Italian) I still gotta work on it a lot, but miles better than when I was a kid, just not understanding what my grandparents were saying in the car. But you know, thanks to the fantastic sponsor of today's show, "Babbel," I can ask random people in Italy if they like my show, which by the way, the answer is no. We have almost no viewership there. Look, the best way to learn a language is through immersion, living where the language is spoken natively, using it every day, or you just download and use Babbel to start speaking your chosen language in as little as three weeks. Babbel came in handy when we were in Mexico. I refreshed up my Spanish skill, something that was very important, because I failed Spanish 2 twice back in high school.
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that's 55% off at babbel.com/defranco, spelled B-A-B-B-E-L .com/defranco. Rules and restrictions may apply. And then according to an absolutely insane new report from the Houston Chronicle, officers working for Texas Governor Greg Abbot's Border Security Initiative have been ordered to push small children and nursing babies back into the Rio Grande and have been told not to give water to asylum seekers, even in extreme heat.
With those allegations coming from an email sent by a Department of Public Safety trooper to a superior and viewed by Hearst Newspapers, which owns the Chronicle as well as CNN. And notably all this comes as Abbott has recently ramped up efforts to prevent migrants from crossing the border through his controversial "Operation Lone Star" policy. With this, the email provides several previously unreported incidents that the trooper witness firsthand in Eagle Pass, which is the target of the most aggressive initiatives under Operation Lone Star.
This including miles of razor wire being strung up and a large wall of buoys being deployed along the Rio Grande River. Those efforts not only attracting widespread criticism from human rights activists, but also drawing legal complaints from the Mexican government and created conflicts with federal officials. With Hearst newspapers reporting last week that federal border patrol officials issued internal warnings that the razor wire is preventing their agents from reaching at-risk migrants and increasing the risk of drownings in the Rio Grande.
And in that, you had the trooper also suggesting that Texas has set barrels wrapped in razor wire in parts of the Rio Grande where the water levels are high but visibility is poor and calling them "traps," reportedly adding that the wire has caused more drownings, because migrants are forced to deeper parts of the river. And the trooper writing, "I believe we have stepped over a line into the inhumane. We need to operate it correctly in the eyes of God. We need to recognize that these are people who are made in the image of God and need to be treated as such."
And the stories they witnessed and shared in the email are absolutely wild. And keep in mind all of these incidents took place just over the course of one week, with a trooper detailing four absolutely horrible examples that took place just on June 30th alone. This including a group of people who had a four year old girl with them, who were trying to cross the wire, but were pressed back by Texas Guard soldiers due to orders given to them. The little girl passing out from exhaustion due to the recent heat wave, which brought temperatures of well over a hundred degrees.
In another instance, a young woman who was said to be "in obvious pain," she was stuck in wire, with a medical assessment later determining that she was pregnant and having a miscarriage. The trooper also treated a man who had a significant laceration on his leg after he cut his child free from a barrel with razor wire, as well as a 15 year old who broke his leg in the river because the razor wire was quote, "Laid out in a manner that it forced him into the river where it is unsafe to travel." And just days before those four incidents, the email also described a group of 120 migrants, including several young children and babies, who were camped out near fence along the river. With the trooper writing that the group was exhausted and hungry, but the shift officer in command had ordered troops to push the people back into the water to go to Mexico. Though the troopers there deciding that was wrong, because it brought the very real potential of exhausted people drowning.
And so again, they called command with their concerns, but were ordered to tell them to go to Mexico and get into our vehicle and leave. Beyond that, the trooper's email also sheds new light on a series of previously reported drownings in the river during a one week stretch earlier this month, that including a mother and at least one of her two children, who federal border patrol agents spotted struggling to cross the Rio Grande on July 1st. And so with all that, you had the trooper also calling for a number of policy changes to fix migrant safety, with that including removing wire razor barrels and getting rid of the directive on withholding water. And notably here in an email to reporters, the Department of Public Safety spokesperson said that there was not a policy against giving water to migrants, but he did acknowledge that the DPS was aware of the email and even gave the Chronicle more emails in response, with the outlet reporting: "Those emails detail seven other incidents reported by federal border agents in which migrants were injured on the wires, including children." And among the emails shared by the spokesman was one from DPS director Steven McCraw, sent just this weekend, where he called for an audit to see if more steps can be taken to decrease the risk posed to migrants by Abbott's policy.
And McCraw also noting in another email that there's been an increase in injuries from the wire. Writing, "The purpose of the wire is to deter smuggling between the ports of entry and not to injure migrants." And adding, "We must take all necessary measures to mitigate the risks to them, including injuries from trying to cross over the concertina wire, drownings and dehydration." But despite everything we've talked about, a spokesperson for Abbott appeared to defend his policies in a statement to both the Chronicle and CNN, painting his actions as necessary steps to protect the border and accusing federal officials of failing to do so, saying, "Texas is deploying every tool and strategy to deter and repel illegal crossings between ports of entry as President Biden's dangerous open border policies entice migrants from over 150 countries to risk their lives entering the country illegally." And claiming that the absence of razor wire and other deterrent strategies encourages migrants to make unsafe and illegal crossings between ports of entry, while making the job of Texas National Guard soldiers and DPS troopers more dangerous and difficult.
But of course this story and Abbott's response have gained widespread backlash from many people and even top leaders in the state, including Beto O'Rourke, who trended on Twitter this morning alongside the story, after sharing the article and writing, "Abbott you are a thug. A murderer. A ghoul. People are dying while you play war games against defenseless mothers and children. Pro-life my ass."
With him also calling on Biden to step in and saying that he's the one person who has the power to stop Abbott, which is also something that's been echoed by other leaders and some leaders calling for a federal investigation. But with that we've also seen experts say it's unclear what powers exactly Biden would have here, as well as would he actually try to step in and use his executive authorities over a governor. Because even if he did, any challenge would likely be taken to the courts. And then I never thought I'd have to give this advice, but do not run into North Korea.
And I say that 'cause this one American soldier apparently thought that this would be a good idea. Notably, he hasn't been heard from since he did this. It's believed that he's now in North Korean custody. But of course one of the biggest questions is how did he manage to cross, arguably, the most fortified border in the world? And apparently he just stepped over it.
With the incident happening when he was on tour of the joint security area. The South Korean side's run by the United Nations command, and has completely opened public tours all the time. And unlike the DMZ, which is an almost two-and-a-half mile buffer around the rest of the border, full of landmines and barbed wire, you can actually just walk into North Korea from this spot. With the border just marked by a single concrete line and you won't get shot for doing it, as the soldiers aren't even armed. That's where you might remember Trump walked over to meet his BFF Kim Jong-Un.
Now initially there was some mystery as to whether this was like an accident or what actually happened, but now US officials are quoted as saying that he willfully and without authorization crossed the border and more information has been slowly trickling out. With it now reported that the unnamed soldier was actually facing disciplinary action and being escorted back to the US, but somehow through whatever means he managed to shake his escort to the airport and got back into South Korea where he joined this tour. And an eyewitness actually told Reuters that while at the joint security area, the man gave out a loud "HAHAHA" and just runs in between some of the buildings.
And usually there are guards near the buildings, but it's also not unheard of them to back off a bit during the tours. And as for the North Korean side, it actually hasn't had visible guards since the pandemic began. But ultimately with where we are, you have the US and UN moving to have the soldier released, but he's also probably gonna have a bad time, because on top of the disciplinary action he may already be facing, he's looking at more problems because of the stunt. And also keep in mind: his timing could not have been worse. Tensions between North Korea, the US and South Korea have been rising lately, with North Korea testing more and more advanced missile systems. So really wouldn't be surprising if we saw this soldier turned into a bargaining chip or a propaganda piece.
In the past you've actually had US soldiers defect to North Korea for a variety of reasons and they're turned into tools to show the citizens there, Hey, look how great North Korea is. But just a friendly bit of advice, if you are on the run, a lot of better places than North Korea. Like almost literally every other place. And then you've heard this song before, but it looks like Trump's gonna be federally indicted again. Because just today the former president said in a post on Truth Social, that he received a letter from special counsel Jack Smith this weekend informing him that he's the target of a federal criminal investigation into the efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
With Trump calling Smith deranged again and claiming that the special counsel gave him a very short four days to report to the grand jury, which almost always means an arrest and indictment. Which, I mean he is not wrong in the last part. When someone gets a letter from the DOJ telling them that they're the target of a probe, it's usually a really good sign they're about to be indicted.
And to give you like a little quick catch up here, "target" is actually a technical term that the DOJ defines as: "A person to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime." And the DOJ specifically encouraging prosecutors to send so-called target letters in cases where people are likely to be indicted, so they get the opportunity to testify before the grand jury and their probe. And very notably, Trump was indicted on federal charges just days after it was reported that he had gotten a target letter for the Mar-a-Lago inquiry. Or in other words, here it seems like Trump's gonna be indicted in the January 6th probe in a matter of days or weeks. Which for Trump would be the third time he is been indicted and it would be his second federal indictment. Now, very notably with this one, experts say that an indictment related to the insurrection would actually be much more difficult to prove than the mishandling of sensitive government documents.
But also the charges would be brought in Washington DC where the jury pool would likely be less sympathetic to Trump than it would be in Florida, where the charges in the documents broke are being heard. And then the state of news right now is crisis. It's really just a matter of which kind and at which level.
For example, it's not a secret that local news is in crisis. We're talking about a reported 7% of all counties in America now having no local news outlets, with another 20% on the brink of becoming news deserts. And everywhere you turn, there are headlines talking about the loss of local newsrooms and the potentially disastrous consequences, and there are very few solutions being thrown out. Which is why many news outlets have turned their attention towards modern tools like streaming and AI in an effort to stay afloat in their communities.
There's actually been some movement on the streaming front, with hundreds of local TV broadcast stations rallying together to be heard. We're talking about more than 600 broadcasters stations that are a part of trade associations representing the local affiliates of major networks like ABC and Fox. All of which have joined together, forming the Coalition for Local News. And that coalition recently sending a letter to the FCC, pressuring them to close a legal loophole that would leave local stations in the dust. Because that loophole is part of a provision from 2014 that requires traditional TV providers to negotiate directly with local broadcasters to carry their stations. However, the FCC doesn't define live streaming television the same way it does traditional TV.
So that loophole allows live streaming TV companies like YouTube to completely bypass negotiations with local broadcasters. With Michael O'Brien, senior vice president and chief distribution officer of one local broadcast group saying, "There's no way for us to advance our own individual strategies as broadcasters when we don't have a say in the largest growing platform and revenue stream in our business." And so the coalition wants the FCC to refresh the rules to reflect the modern streaming age, and that could force a completely new definition of what a TV provider is.
And it makes sense why they want these changes. I mean, the last time these rules were debated, there were fewer than 200,000 Americans subscribed to digital live TV. But now analysts estimate that's around 17 million. Now with this, the FCC says that while it can issue a public call for a refresh, it doesn't have the authority to actually change the provision itself.
Instead, it needs the backing of Congress. Which brings us to the lawmakers where we've actually seen some support, including the likes of senators Chuck Grassley and Maria Cantwell. And in fact, last month the FCC said that it was planning on investigating whether the current TV distribution models need to be revised.
So this is something we're gonna have to keep an eye on. Though notably they aren't stopping at streaming, because national and even local news have partnered with AI firms as well. And we're not talking like with little firms, we're talking about OpenAI, the parent of chatGPT.
With them actually announcing they've reached a two year deal with the American Journalism Project to help local outlets experiment with AI technology. With open AI committing 5 million dollars in funding to the AJP, who in turn will use it to offer grants to its organizations to experiment with AI and find the best practices for its use in newsrooms and products. With that money also reportedly being used to create a studio with the AJP to support local news as they experiment with the technology and share feedback with OpenAI and what is and isn't working. And the CEO of AJP saying, "We see this as an opportunity to create a feedback loop between OpenAI and the local journalism industry." It's just one part of their greater goal of establishing a relationship with the journalism industry for news and tech share.
Like for example, just last week they announced a two year deal with the Associated Press to share access to certain news content and technology, with the AP offering up some of their text archives for open AI to train their artificial intelligence. And with that, the AP will get access to open AI's technology and expertise. And with this, (unclear) are reporting that this partnership is meant for both sides to determine what responsible use of artificial intelligence in the newsroom looks like.
'Cause there's been a lot of concern about the future of AI specifically in news. With their senior VP and CFO saying, "News organizations must have a seat at the table to ensure this happens, so that newsrooms large and small can leverage this technology to benefit journalism." And that is where your daily dive into the news is gonna end.
But for more news you need to know, I got you covered right here, or in those links down below. And if you've already watched everything, do not worry, 'cause my name's Philip DeFranco, you've just been filled in. I love yo faces and I'll see you right back here tomorrow.