The World and Everything in It — October 16, 2019


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

Another impeachment drama rolls on in Washington. What’s new? Why won’t Congress hold a formal vote? What about Hunter Biden? And what about a shift in public opinion in favor of impeaching the president?

NICK EICHER, HOST: Ahead on Washington Wednesday, I will talk to Henry Olsen and ask about all of that.

Also World Tour with Onize Ohikere.

Plus a visit to a former communist nation where Christianity is beginning to take root once again.

META: When I hear your stories, when I hear you talk about Jesus, the way you love him, the way you trust him, I don’t know. It makes me want to cry now that I’m talking about it.

And Janie B. Cheaney compares the folly of ancient Rome with the folly of the modern West.

REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, October 16th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!

REICHARD: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Democrats face off in Ohio for 4th presidential debate » Twelve White House hopefuls packed a crowded stage in Ohio last night. 

AUDIO: Ladies and gentlemen, the candidates for president of the United States! 

The candidates roundly supported the impeachment inquiry in the House. And most said Congress should remove the president from office. Billionaire Tom Steyer made his first debate appearance last night. He started and funded the Need to Impeach campaign. 

STEYER: Every candidate here is more decent, more coherent and more patriotic than the criminal in the White House. 

But the impeachment inquiry has also called attention to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter’s, foreign business dealings. CNN moderator Anderson Cooper noted Biden’s pledge that if he’s elected president, no one in his family will be involved in foreign businesses.

COOPER: If it’s not okay for a president’s family to be involved in foreign businesses, why was it okay for your son when you were vice president?
BIDEN: Look, my son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong. 

Biden deferred to a public statement his son made before the debate. 

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was back in the spotlight and appeared energetic after a health scare, suffering a heart attack earlier this month. 

And Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard was back on the debate stage after failing to qualify for the third debate last month. Gabbard, an Iraq War combat veteran, criticized President Trump’s handling of the troop pullout in northern Syria, but also chided members of her own party.

GABBARD: Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hand, but so do  many of the politicians in our country from both parties who have supported this ongoing regime change war in Syrian that started in 2011. 

And she clashed with another military veteran on the stage, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. 

BUTTIGIEG: No, you can embrace — or you can put an end to endless war without embracing Donald Trump’s policy as you’re doing.
GABBARD: Will you end the regime change war is the question. What is an endless war if it’s not yet another regime change war?

Buttigieg said he believes the president destroyed America’s credibility by abandoning the Kurds.

Democrats will next converge in Georgia next month for the fifth presidential debate. 

Democrats question witnesses in provide over GOP objections » As Democratic candidates debated impeaching President Trump, Democrats on Capitol Hill continued to question witnesses as part of the House impeachment inquiry. 

On Tuesday they questioned George Kent, who oversees Ukrainian policy at the State Department. They spoke with him in another closed-door session and Republicans complain they’re being locked out. GOP Congressman Michael McCaul…

MCCAUL: We should have open hearings on this. The American people should be able to watch this.

On Monday, Democrats questioned Fiona Hill, the president’s former Russia expert, also behind closed doors. She reportedly told lawmakers that former national security adviser John Bolton found information about attorney Rudy Giuliani’s work for Trump in Ukraine alarming. So much so that he recommended Hill consult White House lawyers about it. 

Bolton reportedly told Hill that Giuliani was a—quote—“hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up.”

Democrats are set to hear from Michael McKinley today. He resigned last week from his role as adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

Russian troops fill vacuum left by departing U.S. soldiers in northern Syria » Russia moved to fill the void left by the U.S. military in northern Syria on Tuesday.

Russian soldiers are now patrolling between invading Turkish forces and Syrian government troops. 

Though Russia is closely allied with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s regime, Moscow says it’s trying to keep Syrian and Turkish forces apart to avoid a bloody battle. 

The Kurds this week announced that with its American allies pulling out of the region, they’ve stuck a deal with the Syrian government. That deal reportedly allowed government forces to take control of security in several areas near the Turkish border.

The Trump administration on Monday announced economic sanctions against Turkey over the invasion. Vice President Mike Pence is leading a delegation to Turkey today to try and broker a ceasefire. 

Death toll climbs from Typhoon Hagibis » In Japan, the toll of death and destruction from Typhoon Hagibis climbed on Tuesday. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the number of deaths tied to the typhoon has climbed to 53. Another nine people are presumed dead. Japan’s Kyodo News agency, citing its own tally put the death toll at 69.

Hagibis battered Japan’s main island on Saturday with strong winds and torrential rains that pushed more than 200 rivers beyond their banks. 

The storm flooded or damaged thousands of houses. And as of Tuesday, more than 30,000 homes remained without power, while more than a 100,000 lack running water.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

COVINGTON: I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: unpacking the Republican response to the impeachment inquiry. Plus, a visit with Albanian Christians eager to spread the gospel. This is The World and Everything in It.

REICHARD: It’s Wednesday the 16th of October, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher.  It’s Washington Wednesday.

Well, Democrats’ push to impeach President Trump continues. On Monday House committees heard from former White House Russia adviser Fiona Hill. 

This week also brings several deadlines for documents requests—including two issued to Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

But it’s unlikely Democrats will get much from them. The White House says it will not cooperate until the House votes to officially begin an impeachment inquiry. So far, that hasn’t happened. 

Here now to discuss the latest developments with me is Henry Olsen. He’s a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. 

Henry, good to talk to you again!

HENRY OLSEN, GUEST: Thanks for having me back.

EICHER: When you and I last spoke, last month, Democrats had just announced their impeachment investigation. And as a reminder: This isn’t about Russia—not directly, anyway. This latest push is about a July phone call President Trump had with Ukraine’s new president. Trump asked him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, who had business dealings in Ukraine. 

Now, Congress has been away the last couple of weeks, but Democrats have plowed ahead with committee interviews, subpoenas and the rest. Lots of media interviews. How much more do we now know—versus about a month ago—about this Ukraine story?

OLSEN: I don’t think we know a whole lot more. There’s tiny bits of evidence that occasionally come out that are much ballyhooed, but the core of the allegation remains the telephone call that the president had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he mentioned Joe Biden’s name and asked the president to get to the bottom of whatever happened there. 

EICHER: Did Hunter Biden not legitimize this at least a little bit by announcing ahead of the Democratic debate last night that he would not serve on any foreign boards should his father win election? 

OLSEN: Well, yeah, I think that will continue to give cause for Republicans to say that there was a there there. That if this was something Hunter Biden thinks causes his dad problems, maybe he should have thought that it would cause his dad problems six years ago when his dad was the vice president of the United States. I don’t think it helps in the short term and I think it will continue to keep the issue alive for Republicans in the not so distant future. 

EICHER: Well, let’s talk about Republican politics. The GOP has remained almost universally supportive of the president on the impeachment question. But most of them have focused on process, not the substance of the criticism about Trump’s efforts to get foreign governments—whether we’re talking about Ukraine or that moment when he was speaking to the media and saying, you know, I think China ought to investigate the Bidens. How do you assess the Republican approach? 

OLSEN: I think what the Republicans are primarily looking at are two things. One is what comes out through the investigation process. They know that they don’t know what they don’t know. And so getting ahead of the news is a very risky proposition for them. 

Secondly, what they are very carefully looking at is how the Republican voter base is taking this, that to-date there has been very little slippage in the president’s job approval rating among Republicans. Very little support among Republicans and Trump-supporters for an inquiry, much less removal from office. 

And it defies belief that Republican members of the House or the Senate will go against the wishes of 75 or 80 percent of their voters. So they’re waiting to see what happens in the court of public opinion. 

EICHER: I guess if you’re a Republican office holder, it’s a little difficult—I think you said it nicely—you don’t want to get out ahead of the news. Does that mean you don’t want to get out ahead of what President Trump might say on Twitter the next day if you put yourself in a position of defending this, that, or the other thing? 

OLSEN: Yeah, but they’re darned if they do, darned if they don’t in the sense that if they get out ahead by saying he unequivocally has done nothing wrong and is fit for office, you never know what’s going to come up. 

On the other hand, if they go ahead and say, you know, I’ve seen enough. It’s time the guy ought to go. Well, they are way out of base with where the Republicans are. So they are politically—from a political sense—properly in a holding pattern. They are waiting to see whether it is safe for the plane to touch down. 

EICHER: Let’s talk about the polls for a moment. There have been at least some Democrats arguing for impeachment since 2017, so there is a lengthy polling history on this. A month ago, only 40 percent of Americans supported impeachment based on the Russia investigation. 

And as you would expect, Democrats were overwhelmingly for it, Republicans overwhelmingly against it, and independents in between. 

That breakdown hasn’t changed. But what has changed over the last three weeks is that support for impeachment has risen in all three of those groups. So now, overall, roughly 50 percent of Americans want to impeach the president, 44 percent don’t. That’s new

How does public opinion factor into all of this? 

OLSEN: Well, I think it certainly factors into the votes of members of both parties, that once the Ukrainian phone call became public, it was quite clear that moderate Democrats could no longer hold back the progressives. That if they did not come out in favor of impeachment, they risked primary challenge. 

And the flip side for the Republicans is any Republican who comes out [for] impeachment who’s not in a swing district is going to be savaged by members of their own party—whether in a primary now or later. 

So, I think public opinion has a huge amount to do with what will actually happen, as opposed to some sort of theoretical cone of political silence, for the old Get Smart fans. Votes may take place that would be different than votes in the real political world. But both party’s representatives are in the real political world. 

EICHER: I’d like for you to speculate a bit. Why do you suppose Democrats haven’t voted officially to open an impeachment inquiry? Do you think that moderate Democrats or Democrats in Trump-leaning districts don’t want to go on the record? What’s your theory on that?

OLSEN: That’s exactly what I think is going on. Eventually, they will have to vote. Because the House cannot impeach the president without a vote of its members. You cannot get it passed by a committee and then the Speaker says, ‘Okay, we’re done.’ 

But what delaying the floor vote means is that until there is a specific charge on which they can hang their coats, the moderates do not have to have an irrevocable vote. 

Now, that said, they have had a number of statements in which they have committed themselves in a way that’s difficult to distinguish from an actual vote. But there’s still a number of Democrats in Republican-leaning seats who have not committed one way or another. And people like Anthony Brindisi in upstate New York. 

And by not having a vote, it allows those 10-20 Democrats to continue to be in ambiguous land until they are forced to make a decision. 

EICHER: Before I let you go, I want to make a radical shift of gears. I’m curious what you know about what’s going on with regard to Syria. Because outside of Rand Paul, who’s more of a Libertarian, really, than a Republican, there seems to be a universal sort of bipartisan criticism of the president’s decision to pull out of Syria and expose the Kurds to the Turks. Including staunch allies. So it’s not just moderate Republicans. Do you see, Henry, that as relevant to the impeachment conversation either for Republicans or Democrats, or do you see it on completely separate tracks? 

OLSEN: It is on somewhat separate tracks. It is intertwined in the sense that it will certainly color the way Republicans view Trump, but when push comes to shove, they will make the same calculation they would have made otherwise, which is to say one based on part politics and part fact. 

The fact is that the Republican elites are much more interventionist than their voters. I suspect that in 10 days or so, when the first polls that will be released with information coming out post the decision and post the Turkish invasion come out, that you’ll see no erosion and, perhaps, even a little strengthening in Trump’s position. Because most voters in the United States do not care about what happens in Syria or Turkey or the Kurds. They only care if their lives are threatened. And speculation that ISIS may or may not come back is not sufficient to worry most Americans. 

EICHER: Henry Olsen is a senior fellow for the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He’s also a Washington Post columnist. Henry, it’s always a pleasure. 

OLSEN: Thanks for having me back.

EICHER: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa correspondent Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Tunisia gets new president—We start today here in Africa.

AUDIO: [Tunisa election celebration]

Fireworks exploded over the capital of Tunisia on Sunday as residents celebrated their new president. Political newcomer Kais Saied won the election with nearly 73 percent of the vote.

AUDIO: [Tunisia’s electoral commission]

The country’s electoral commission announced the official results on Monday. It was only the country’s second free presidential election since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.

During his campaign, Saied vowed to shake up Tunisia’s governing structure. He also wants to give more power to young people and local governments.

Peace talks in South Sudan—Next we go to South Sudan.

Leaders there are hosting peace talks between Sudan’s transitional government and rebel leaders.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed helped to mediate the power-sharing agreement that ended months of violence in Sudan.

AHMED: With all parties committed to peace the potential for Sudan to shift its focus and energy towards building a strong economy that will pave the path for a prosperous nation is important.

Protesters in Sudan succeeded in overthrowing longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April. But they quickly clashed with the military over the transition to new leadership. The current power-sharing agreement calls for joint military and civilian rule until elections can be held a few years from now.

Russia declares opposition group a foreign agent—Next we go to Russia.

The Russian Justice Ministry has declared the anti-corruption group run by opposition leader Alexei Navalny as a foreign agent. That designation implies the group is spying for a foreign government.

AUDIO: [Russian police raid]

Police raided the offices of The Foundation for Fighting Corruption in September. Security cameras recorded them bursting through the front door. The foundation’s director said the foreign agent listing is part of ongoing efforts to intimidate and silence the group.

The foundation focuses on major investigative reports in Russia. It takes donations from Russian supporters but has long refused foreign funds.

AUDIO: [Kremlin critic Navalny]

In a video posted to his YouTube channel, Navalny vowed to continue fighting what he called “crooks and thieves.” He called the foreign agent listing unlawful.

Polio vaccine campaign in the Philippines—Next to the Philippines.

AUDIO: [Sound from Philippine vaccination campaign]

Health officials there began a mass vaccination campaign to protect children from polio. The potentially crippling disease has re-emerged in the country after nearly two decades.

Vaccination rates dropped in the Philippines after several children died during an immunization campaign in 2017. The country is now struggling to contain deadly outbreaks of measles and dengue fever.

Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that mainly affects young children. It has no known cure and can only be prevented by immunization.

Protests end in Ecuador—And finally, we end today in South America.

AUDIO: [Sound of celebrations in Ecuador]

Members of Ecuador’s indigenous community celebrated on Sunday after leaders reached an agreement to end weeks of unrest. The protesters wanted the government to cancel austerity measures that included a sharp increase in fuel costs.

After the government agreed to their demands, the protesters quickly dispersed—but not before helping to clean up the mess they created.

AUDIO: [Workers clean Quito’s streets]

Young protesters took down improvised barricades built two weeks earlier. They returned the paving stones to the construction sites they had come from or piled them onto the beds of city trucks. They also helped sweep up the charred remains of tires and construction material set on fire during the protests.

That’s this week’s World Tour. For WORLD Radio, I’m Onize Ohikere reporting from Abuja, Nigeria.

REICHARD: File this one under “think again.” Or, maybe just “think.”

A man in Florida keeps calling the police to say that, “Hey man, my roommate is stealing my weed.” 

Dude, I’m a lawyer. Possession of marijuana is illegal in the state. First-degree misdemeanor. Up to a year in jail. Up to $1,000 fine. Two year driver’s license suspension. 

You shouldn’t call the police and make that report. That’s my advice.

Which is basically what Pasco County Deputy Neal Zalva said. Here’s a little video the officer made and posted on Twitter:

ZALVA: Alright, so I just received a call. A guy’s calling in saying his roommate stole his weed, $20 worth, and he’s upset, so he keeps calling 911. So I had to give him a call, to tell him to stop calling about his weed.

Yeah, I wonder what’s going to happen if he keeps calling.

The video is part of the Sheriff’s #TweetAlong program that lets people hear what police sometimes have to endure on the job.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

REICHARD: Today is Wednesday, October 16th. Thanks for listening! Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Albania.

It’s a small coastal country right across from Italy’s boot heel. It has a lot in common with its neighbor, Greece: Miles of coastline, rolling mountains.

After World War II, Albania’s communist leader kept the country isolated for forty years. The economy crumbled. Albania had the lowest standard of living in Europe. Bad housing. Bad roads. And absolutely no religion allowed.

REICHARD: After communism fell in the early 1990s, few Christians were left. But that number is growing. This past summer, an Albanian church teamed up with a group of Americans to run an English camp. The goal was to share Jesus with a generation desperate for meaning. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen brings us their story.

AUDIO: [Sound of welcome music]

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: It’s the official camp kick-off night. Everyone’s gathered on the patio under a couple of enormous red umbrellas.

TONI MANELLI: [Speaking in Albanian]

ERA VOCI [translating]: Welcome dear friends to our home.

TONI MANELLI: [Speaking in Albanian]

ERA VOCI [translating]: It is a honor to have you here with us.

There are about 40 people here. The Albanian team has decorated the patio with red and black flags. There’s a lot of baklava. A lot of dancing. 

AUDIO: [CHANTING ALBANIAN SONG LYRICS]

They play a popular song about the Albanian flag. When it comes on, everyone whoops, dances, whistles, claps, and sings along.

AUDIO: [SINGING IN ALBANIAN]

They have a lot of pride in their heritage. But if you ask young Albanians about their plans for the future…most of them say they want to leave. They want to get away from Albania’s haphazard infrastructure, high unemployment, and low average income. 

That’s why some of them came to this camp. They want to learn English, get a job, and go anywhere but here. But the Christians running the camp are hoping for something more.

AUDIO: [HALLELUJAH, SINGING IN ALBANIAN]

This is how every morning starts. Most of the campers have never been to church before. But now, every day, they listen to members of the American team share stories of how God changed their lives.

BRUBACHER: It is a moment when Jesus spoke to me in a very calming way.

TRANSLATOR: [SPEAKING ALBANIAN]

BRUBACHER: So my question to you is…do you know the one who helps the helpless?

After worship, the campers split into three groups based on their English proficiency: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced.

Today, the advanced group is running mock job interviews.

THERESA KUNGEL: Hi, I’m Theresa.

STUDENT: Hi, nice to see you.

KUNGEL: Do you have your resume?

STUDENT: Yeah.

KUNGEL: And what is the position you’re applying for?
STUDENT: My position I am applying for is waiter.

In the beginner group, they’re learning the months of the year, holidays, animals…and animal sounds.

TIM BRUBACHER: Beef! Beef!

ALBANIAN: Lope, lope!

BRUBACHER: Mooooo. MOOOOOOOOOOO.

[LAUGHTER]

The afternoons are free for group activities–beach volleyball, swimming in the Adriatic. But the American Christians also use this time to connect one-on-one with the campers. They want to have meaningful conversations with each person here.

META: I’ve never heard stories about Jesus…I believe in God, but I never heard these things before. 

This is Sindi Meta. She’s 20. She studies English at the University of Tirana. She knew this was a Christian camp, and was curious to see what it was like.

META: When I hear your stories, when I hear you talk about Jesus, the way you love him, the way you trust him, I don’t know. It makes me want to cry now that I’m talking about it.

She says she wants to find out more. But it’s hard because she only has one Christian friend. Everyone else she knows says it’s silly to believe in God. 

META: If I’d had people around me who are Christians or believed or anything, I think I would be a Christian now.

One of the goals of this camp is to connect people like Meta with the local church. Everyone there knows what it’s like to be alone in their faith.

GULIQINI: Was a long time for me to decide just because…I was hearing different things from different people.

Kleo Guliqini is 23 years old. You heard his voice a minute ago leading worship. Six years ago, he attended a camp just like this one.

GULIQINI: What they challenged me was, don’t hear what I’m saying, don’t hear your friends…are saying, just go home and pray for it and pray for God to show you who he is. And he will. So he did.

After a year of questioning and thinking and praying, Guliqini says he woke up one day with new clarity.

GULIQINI: I do believe, I do believe that Jesus died for my sins and rose again.

Now, though most of his peers are trying to get out of Albania, Guliqini wants to stay. Why?

GULIQINI: I really want to meet new people and share with them. The most important thing that we have, that’s the good news. The gospel. We are speaking for eternal life, so it’s not something that, okay, if I choose by mistake, it’s not a problem. It’s really important. 

AUDIO: [HALLELUJAH, SINGING IN ALBANIAN]

For WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen reporting from Vlorë, Albania.

EICHER: Today is Wednesday, October 16th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Here’s WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney on the biggest threat to power in this world.

JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: We throw this word around a lot: Hate. Hate speech, hate culture, hate crime. We’ve largely dropped the noun form, hatred, and the adjective form, hateful. Now the verb serves as both noun and adjective. Why? Possibly because the verb is passionate, and personal, and appropriately ugly. It has a strong character and produces strong actions. Those actions may or may not be violent, but without the quickening verb they wouldn’t exist at all.

Why does the world hate Jesus, of all people?

Secular admirers of Jesus like to say it was because he challenged the religious establishment. That’s certainly true: he charged in and turned over tables, upsetting their pious rituals and longstanding traditions. They had it all figured out, their duty toward God and neighbor, their lighted path to the good life. Hypocrites! he called them, and today’s secular world approves. Some even think they’re siding with Jesus when they condemn Christian hypocrisy.

But it wasn’t the Jews who put him to death, or did the greatest harm to his church; it was the libertine, pagan, “tolerant” Roman Empire. Rome was a stellar example of pluralism. The Emperor and Senate couldn’t care less who or what their far-flung subjects worshipped, as long as rebellion wasn’t built in to their theology. So how did those Christians, who were peaceful, industrious, respectful—who were, in fact, constrained by their faith to be all those things—why did they become the target of official persecution and the subject of outrageous lies?

If the world hates you, know that it hated me… 

Today, in other parts of the world, there are religious zealots whose hatred burns white-hot and who make a special target of Christians. But in this country, the vast majority of haters claim to be tolerant. Live and let live, they say. We don’t care who your imaginary friend is, or what flying spaghetti monster you worship. But on Twitter and Instagram the gloves come off and the vilest language spills out. What really ticks them off?

Probably the same thing that infuriated the Emperor Diocletian or Marcus Aurelius. Christians had a king who was not of this world. In one sense, because he had risen from the dead and ruled in a place called heaven. But in another sense, because he was squarely opposed to the way of this world, where humility is weakness and sacrifice is subjugation and power is the ultimate prize.

Nothing has really changed. With some notable exceptions, churchgoers are probably the most peaceful, patriotic, charitable demographic in any nation. And yet one of the most vilified.

Don’t be deceived. It’s their leader the world really hates, and always has: peaceful, humble, and the greatest threat to cultural complacency the world has ever known.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Janie B. Cheaney.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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