The World and Everything in It — October 22, 2019

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

A new rule about overtime pay might help you put more money in the bank. But it may also put the squeeze on nonprofits.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Also bringing new life to old neighborhoods takes Christians engaged with people’s lives. We have a report from Chicago.

Plus managing traffic in one of the busiest shipping channels in the country.

And a courtroom scene that WORLD commentator Kim Henderson cannot forget.

REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, October 22nd. 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 has the news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: U.S. troops leaving northern Syria but aren’t heading home » U.S. troops leaving northern Syria aren’t heading home just yet. 

Most of the 1,000 soldiers pulled from the region are crossing the border into Iraq—remaining nearby in case they’re needed to combat ISIS fighters. 

And Defense Secretary Mark Esper says about 200 soldiers could remain in northeastern Syria near critical oil fields… 

ESPER: A purpose of those forces, working with the SDF, is to deny access to those oil fields by ISIS and others, who may benefit by their revenues that could be earned. 

Esper said that plan has not been finalized. And he added that the troop withdrawal will take weeks, not days. 

On Monday Syrian Kurds threw potatoes and other objects at U.S. military vehicles as they drove through Syria. Many accuse the United States of abandoning them. One man shouted “Like rats, America is running away.”

Ohio counties reach opioid settlement » Three of the nation’s biggest drug distributors and a major drugmaker reached a $260 million settlement with two Ohio counties yesterday. The settlement resolved a dispute over the deadly havoc caused by opioids.

Cuyahoga County Chief Executive Armond Budish celebrated the settlement outside the federal courthouse in Cleveland.

BUDISH: It’s definitely not adequate for all the things that need to be done to fix this problem. But it goes a long way. It gives us hope.

Audio courtesy of Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS.

Across the country, drug companies are facing more than 2,500 lawsuits brought by state and local governments seeking to hold them accountable for the crisis.

The agreement reached Monday calls for the distributors to pay a combined $215 million. While Israeli-based drugmaker Teva will contribute $20 million in cash and $25 million worth of a drug used to treat opioid addiction.

Chicago teacher’s strike » Chicago teachers lined up to picket outside public schools for a third day on Monday. 

AUDIO: We’re asking for a fair contract! We’re asking for those resources! And if we don’t get it, what are we gonna do? Shut it down!

More than 300,000 students in Chicago are out of class again today. It’s the fourth day without classes and after school activities in the first major teacher walkout since 2012.

Contract talks between the teachers’ union and the school district stalled over the weekend. The union is demanding smaller class sizes and more resources for schools.

Tornado leaves destructive trail through Dallas » Dallas residents are still surveying the destruction from a series of violent tornadoes and thunderstorms.

The storms struck late Sunday night demolishing homes and buildings and leaving behind piles of debris and downed power lines. 

The twisters packed winds topping 140 miles per hour and knocked out power to nearly 100,000 homes.

A Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman said the damage is severe, but they’re counting their blessings.

AUDIO: Considering the path the storm took—it went across a pretty densely populated part of our city—we should consider ourselves very fortunate we didn’t lose any lives, no fatalities, and no serious injuries.

But the storms turned deadly as they moved north and northeast. Three people died in Oklahoma and one in Arkansas.

Netanyahu unable to form majority government in Israel » Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday that he has failed to form a majority government in parliament. 

That marks a major setback for the Israeli leader. And it plunges the country into even deeper political uncertainty.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is now expected to ask Netanyahu’s chief rival Benny Gantz to try his hand at forming a coalition. But he may find the task of glueing together warring factions equally tough. 

Trudeau projected to retain power in Canadian election » Meanwhile in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal party faced a tough election on Monday in the wake of scandals that dented Trudeau’s approval ratings. 

But when the clock struck midnight on the East Coast, Trudeau was projected to retain power. 

AUDIO: [Sound of election]

His supporters cheered the early returns. However, it appears his Liberal party has lost its majority in Parliament.  

That means Trudeau will likely have to have to reach out to other parties in order to keep control. But he might not create a formal coalition government. His party could instead use a separate process to cooperate with other parties and piece together the 170 votes it needs to maintain power. 

World Series begins tonight » The World Series begins tonight in Houston. The Astros host the Washington Nationals for game one.

The Nationals swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship Series, but had never won a playoff series until this year. Nats First baseman Ryan Zimmerman…

ZIMMERMAN: You gotta catch some breaks, and I think in the years past, maybe we didn’t catch those breaks. I think we caught some breaks this year, but I think more importantly we took advantage of those breaks.

The Astros were the 2017 World Series champs. Houston shortstop Carlos Correa…  

CORREA: Two out of three years going to the World Series, that’s pretty special. We’ve talked about building a dynasty and we’re on the right path. 

First pitch is just after 8 p.m. Eastern Time tonight.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: more salaried workers are about to be eligible for overtime pay. Plus, controlling the traffic going in and out of one of the busiest ports in the nation. This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, the 22nd of October, 2019. Glad to have you along today!  Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up on The World and Everything in It, changes to overtime pay.

Fifteen years ago, the federal government made employees eligible for overtime pay if they earned around $23,000 a year in salary. Employers had to pay these workers time-and-a-half for time worked in excess of 40 hours a week.

REICHARD: The Trump administration is now updating that overtime threshold. The Labor Department announced last month that employees making around $35,000 are eligible. That nearly $12,000 increase will affect more than a million salaried workers.

EICHER: But not everyone thinks that new threshold is a good idea. 

They think the regulation would put a real crimp on nonprofits.

WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg has our story.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: The Trump administration’s new overtime salary threshold is a jump, but it’s much smaller than the Obama administration’s 2016 proposal.

That year, the Obama administration announced the new overtime salary threshold would more than double.

PBS NEWSHOUR: President Obama would like to lift that salary cap higher in 2016, so that all workers earning up to $50,000 dollars a year would be eligible for overtime. 

Kate Rubalcava heads the Utah Nonprofit Association. She also sits on the board of the National Nonprofit Council. Rubalcava says when the Obama administration announced those changes many nonprofits panicked.

RUBALCAVA: I remember the anxiety back then where HR managers, nonprofit executives were saying, I’m not sure how we’re gonna figure out how to do this. I don’t know that we’re going to have the revenue to be able to pay these requirements.

The Obama-era rule would have meant a big increase in wage costs for many organizations. A federal judge later overturned that regulation, calling it unenforceable.

Now, Rubalcava says the Trump administration’s overtime salary threshold is much less shocking. But the changes will still affect many nonprofit employers.

Nonprofits typically rely on fewer workers to pull heavier loads. Sometimes that means putting in more than 40 hours a week. The Labor Department estimates about 7 percent of nonprofit and government employees will be impacted by the change. That’s compared to 5 percent of for-profit workers.

Kate Rubalcava says the new overtime salary threshold might have a positive side-effect. It could force some groups to bring wages up to be more in line with today’s cost of living.

RUBALCAVA: I’m happy to see an increase for employees. And I think that it helps us clarify a little bit more about what nonprofit organizations can do to support their employees.

But Rubalcava says she wishes the government would have allowed nonprofits more time to meet the regulation requirements. The new overtime salary threshold goes into effect on January 1st. That’s after the start of many organization’s new fiscal year.

RUBALCAVA: But there’s no ramp up period, and we have two months to comply. When budgets for organizations have already been put in place for the fiscal year that started in October.

Tom Cathey is the legislative director at the Association of Christian Schools International. Cathey says the salary threshold change will affect some employees at Christian schools. Under federal law, teachers and administrators are exempt from the rule, but support staff like HR managers, development directors, and secretaries are not.

CATHEY: At this point, we haven’t heard a lot from our schools that it’s  been a huge concern of the new amount. If they have to move some of the exempt employees to non-exempt, then yeah, there would be some training as far as making sure they’re keeping their hours and you know, then making sure that they’re being paid over time.

Rachel Greszler is an economics research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. She says to comply with the updated salary overtime regulation both nonprofit and for-profit employers have options.

They can increase salaries over the $35,500 threshold. Or they could keep the employee salaries but make them start counting their hours. Another option is to convert salaried employees to hourly wages. If a nonprofit chooses that option, it could also decide to lower an employee’s hourly wage.

GRESZLER: They could shift workers who currently might be making, you know, $30,000 per year on a salary to an hourly position at a little bit less than what would equate to $30,000 per year so that they have wiggle room in case the worker does have some overtime.

Greszler says overall the changed regulation is just one more regulation eating up a nonprofits time and resources to ensure they’re complying. And she says, even more so, it will cost the employees who will lose the flexibility that comes with a salary.

GRESZLER: Most people would prefer to have a salary and know that that same check is coming every week and not to have it vary significantly. And if you are shifting and work hourly, then the employer might try to save costs more frequently by asking that employee not to come in, not to work the overtime hours. It just makes it more difficult I think on both sides for the workers and the employers. 

Utah Nonprofit Association’s Kate Rubalcava says nonprofits are competing for talent and want to offer competitive wages like businesses. But nonprofits are always striking a balance between carrying out their mission and paying fair living wages. Wage regulations can make finding that sweet spot that much harder.

RUBALCAVA: We don’t want to place ourselves in a position where we’re not paying our employees enough that they can’t live the lives that they want to live. But then the other side of it is that we have a challenge with figuring out how to come up with that extra money.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg reporting from Salt Lake City, Utah.

NICK EICHER: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: urban renewal.

American cities often struggle to revitalize distressed neighborhoods. Chicago relies on public-private partnerships to entice developers and investors to fund projects they might not otherwise build. In return, they receive future federal tax credits.

MARY REICHARD: That might help fill empty lots with new homes and businesses. But will it be enough to bring once-vibrant communities back to life? WORLD Radio Intern Michelle Schlavin talked to community leaders to find out.

LIGHTFOOT: Our pathways to fiscal health have to run through households and neighborhoods like Roseland and Rogers Park, Austin and Englewood.

MICHELLE SCHLAVIN, INTERN: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot delivered her State of the City address in August. In it she laid out her plan for revitalizing inner-city neighborhoods.

LIGHTFOOT: We must lead with public investment along with private partnerships to catalyze neighborhoods. We need to continue to give residents and businesses of all stripes, reasons to stay, to come, and to grow.

NEWSCAST: The newest population estimates from the census bureau confirm more people are out of Chicago than moving in. The numbers show…

Chicago’s population has declined for four years in a row. The rise in cost of living and lack of affordable housing are two main reasons people leave.

Lightfoot sees the problem as stemming from financial neglect. So, her solution is to bring in more money. 

LIGHTFOOT: We must expand opportunity, expand our tax base, and expand our population.

But church leaders say without community buy-in, no amount of outside investment will bring the kind of change Chicago needs. 

NEELY: Even though housing will revitalize the community, are there other issues that we’re gonna have to address? 

Winfred Neely teaches at Moody Bible Institute and pastors a church in Oak Park. He says Lightfoot’s plan for these new housing initiatives started with community members who saw an unmet need and spoke up.

He believes this kind of communication is the first step to opening the door of revitalization.

NEELY: You’re doing more than talking about housing. You’re talking about the organization of citizens. You’re talking about changing neighborhood dynamics. You’re talking about ending gun violence. I mean, you’re talking about improving schools and organizing people … So it’s more than just building, it’s more than homes here. This is a massive step toward people gaining control of their neighborhoods.

Just over 15 miles away, in nearby Englewood, vacant lots and worn down buildings are everywhere. Pastor Jonathan Brooks grew up in the neighborhood and says he made a conscious decision to stay. 

BROOKS: Typically you have two kinds of people. People who are here cause they have nowhere else to go. And people who are here because there’s no other place they’d rather be…

Brooks says the church needs to play a role in bringing life back to communities. 

BROOKS: My belief is that we are not supposed to look at ourselves as outside of whatever’s happening in our place. Yes, it does take more than funds and resources. It takes us actually living together and being concerned about communal flourishing in our communities.

Brooks sees many churches focusing solely on evangelism. He insists that cannot be the only form of outreach. Brooks believes engaging all aspects of the community is the only way to bring both physical and spiritual renewal.

That’s what’s happened in Lawndale. It’s about 30 minutes north of Englewood.

Richard Townsell is the executive director of the Lawndale Christian Development Corporation. 

TOWNSELL: We worked with this planning firm and we decided that we were gonna take a very specific target area around our church. and try to acquire vacant buildings that we sell back to people to own because home ownership is so important. 

Like Neely and Brooks, Townsell believes revitalization starts with bringing community residents together. He sees housing and homeownership as a means to that end. 

TOWNSELL: We do housing because people have to live in it. Right? I don’t really care about housing. Some people are like housing experts and gurus. I’m a people expert.

Townsell says Lawndale uses government funding through low income tax credits for almost all of its projects. But capitalizing on the strengths already present in the community is key to Lawndale’s success.

Local leaders encourage residents to get involved in the discussion over new development. That has helped soothe fears of gentrification.

TOWNSELL:  We organize a homeowners association. So we’re organizing a power block so that no one will be able to just come in and then just, you know, buy wholesale and start building half a million dollar homes. Cause we’d have people that will stop that.

Organization has given Lawndale residents a voice. But Townsell says true revitalization has come to the neighborhood because faith is at the heart of local redevelopment efforts.

TOWNSELL: I think the ultimate hope we have is in Christ, right? We’ve got to  help other folks collectively get hopeful about our future. So much so that they’re willing to dig in and fight to make it what we want it to be. Not wait for the government, not wait for the mayor and not wait for foundations and corporations, but what could we do with our organized people and our own resources, although limited, what can we collectively do?

For WORLD Radio I’m Michelle Schlavin, reporting from Chicago, Illinois.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Let’s say you’re a candidate for a political office. Say you don’t have a lot of experience to point to and you want to tap into voter disgust—the kind of voter who says, you know, there’s just nobody to vote for.

Well, here’s your guy. He was running for mayor of Keene, New Hampshire. His name is Richard Paul. Well, was Richard Paul. Before the name change. Ready for this one? Nobody

Yep, Mr. Nobody, candidate Nobody, sought to become Mayor Nobody.

How’d he do?

Well, points for originality, but that’s about it. Either voters weren’t disgusted enough with the existing options… 

OR they decided somebody was better than nobody.

Either way, Mr. Nobody got 47 votes out of more than 2,000 cast.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Tuesday, October 22nd and you’re listening to The World and Everything in It from WORLD Radio. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.

Last month Tropical Storm Imelda dumped as much as 22 inches of rain on parts of Southeast Texas. Much of that water ended up in the San Jacinto River. Which flows into a 73-mile waterway that leads to one of the busiest ports in the country.

EICHER: Yeah, it’s the Houston Ship Channel. And it is also home to the second largest petrochemical complex in the world. So it’s a busy place with scores of vessels passing through each day.

A division of the U.S. Coast Guard manages all that. It’s called the Vessel Traffic Service—VTS—Houston-Galveston Sector.

In our occasional series What Do People Do All Day, WORLD Radio correspondent Bonnie Pritchett introduces us to 

U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Darlene Sao.

DARLENE SAO: I mean it’s just raining so hard. It’s like the same when you’re in your car, it’s raining so hard you can’t see. It’s the same for the mariners…

BONNIE PRITCHETT, REPORTER: 26-year-old U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Darlene Sao, is a 2015 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy. She and her colleagues keep 1,700 mariners and maritime industry representatives apprised of the ever-changing conditions on the Houston Ship Channel.

On a routine day, up to 75 vessels and as many as 500 tow movements, transit the winding, and sometimes very narrow, channel. At the moment, because of Tropical Storm Imelda, there are only 30 vessels.

The VTS is kind of like air traffic control for ships—really, really big ships.

But even big ships are no match for rapidly shifting currents.

SAO: Since most of the flooding is north right now, what we’re really worried about is the San Jac, so all of these…

Sao points to one of the approximately 40 monitors surrounding the VTS Watch Floor. They show camera and satellite views of each vessel’s passage through the channel. The screen drawing Sao’s attention at the moment shows an enlarged map of the waterway. Sao identifies a sharp bend in the passage where the San Jacinto River flows into the ship channel.

That confluence creates a three-way intersection for container ships, tankers, tugs with multiple barges and today, potentially hazardous currents.

SAO: So, this is what worries us the most for mariners is when it rains a lot up north is the San Jac flooding. Because, when mariners come out of the San Jac, they won’t be able to have control if the flood water just takes them…

The flood waters did just that. Nine barges broke loose from their moorings and were swept downstream where they slammed into the Interstate 10 bridge that crosses the river. The damage shut down traffic traveling over and under the bridge. And, as with every change in ship channel conditions, Sao issued another update.

NEWSCLIP: Breaking news from the Houston Ship Channel where deputies are continuing arrest Green Peace portestors dangling from the Fred Hartman Bridge. 

It’s not always nature’s fury that interrupts shipping traffic and keeps Sao busy communicating updates. 

ASSISTANT CHIEF TIM NAVARRE: We’ve also had to shut down the ship channel temporarily because…

A week before Imelda’s unwelcome arrival, Harris County Sheriff Assistant Chief Tim Navarre spoke with reporters about protestors who had rappelled off a bridge that spans the ship channel. There they dangled for hours until authorities lowered them to awaiting vessels where they were arrested.

SAO: We, as VTS, all we can do is close the waterway. With the protestors hanging down from below the bridge, it decreased the air draft so ships need a certain clearance to go under the bridge…

On a usual day, Sao knows in advance where along the waterway traffic will be impacted by scheduled activities. Monitoring traffic on the Houston Ship Channel is not unlike monitoring traffic on Houston roadways – endless construction, road hazards, detours, road closures, accidents…

SAO: You stay on your 12-hour watch and during that 12-hour watch you’re monitoring traffic. There’s going to be some sort of full or partial closure that day. There’s multiple dredges at work so you’re making sure the mariners are going around those dredges safely that we’re notifying them, or maybe there’s divers in the water. So, you’re just managing all of the traffic throughout the day.

What inspired the small-town Illinois daughter of Vietnamese refugees to join the US Coast Guard?

SAO: I had a great childhood but I wanted to see more of the world growing up and I thought a great way to do that would be to join the military. And I was like I love the mission of the Coast Guard. I like that they are a life-saving service. It’s humanitarian mission. And, so, I was like, ‘I’m going to go into the Coast Guard.”

There is a constant ebb and flow to the daily activities above the water, below the water and on the shore. Being able to communicate those changes, especially in an emergency, requires an intimate knowledge of the channel and the entities that operate there.

SAO: Everyone that goes through VTS is required to go through training. And part of that training is learning every single dock and every single waterway that covers the VTS area.

How many docks do they have to memorize?

SAO: Over 700 docks.

One of those docks is for a regular ferry that carries about 10 cars back and forth between the northern and southern banks.

VOICE: Welcome to the Lynchburg Ferry. For your safety we ask that you shut off your engines and set your parking brake. 

The small ferry soon begins crossing the channel. With the erratic currents, plus tankers, tugs, and container ships to contend with, it looks like a game of chicken. But each mariner knows the rules of the waterways. And 22 miles away, in a windowless room, Darlene Sao and her fellow VTS colleagues, are watching.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Bonnie Pritchett, reporting from Houston, Texas.

NICK EICHER: Today is Tuesday, October 22nd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD commentator Kim Henderson now on an incident involving her policeman husband and the mother of the man who attacked him.

KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: The recent hugging scene in a Texas courtroom reminded me of something that happened early in my husband’s peacekeeping career. It all started with a radio scanner. They told me not to buy one, much less listen to it.

But of course I did anyway. Set it right there on the kitchen table. A Uniden Bearcat, capable of scanning more than 50 radio channels. That night, I was tuned into one–42.120–listening for my lawman husband’s badge number. If I’d been in bed where I belonged, instead of up icing a cake, I wouldn’t have heard the two words a listening wife never wants to hear: Officer down.

Somehow, I got to the scene, a spot lit up in a sea of blue lights. My wise driver wouldn’t let me get out. He was level-headed, and he’d just spent 15 minutes with an aloud-praying woman who didn’t know whether her husband was dead or alive. No, he wouldn’t let me go out until he found out. Something.

The something was good news. An ambulance ride and hospital stay would fix my husband up. They finally led me to where he was sitting, bent over in his Crown Vic. He was wearing a smile and a blood-soaked uniform. I’d ironed the shirt just that morning.

Thanks to an all-out, all-night manhunt (and a girlfriend with loose lips), the guys who had escaped were caught. Investigators retrieved evidence from a creek bed while I retrieved kids from the neighbor. I had my husband. He had a new four-inch scar to hide in his hairline. We were grateful.

Fast forward a few months to the week-long trial. There in the Clay County courtroom, I got a free education. I learned the importance of jury duty and how hard our D.A. worked.

Then I had a lesson from a most unexpected teacher, one who just happened to belong to the defendant.

She sought me out, cutting through the crowd and all our differences. It’s a good thing the lawyers didn’t notice. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t approve of us meeting across an aisle in a courtroom.

But there we were. Me, bowed out with eight months of baby. Her, weighed down with who knows how many years of son-inflicted sorrow. This mother apologized. To me. For him.

In the middle of a courtroom of consequences, she taught me the hard truth of one of the Bible’s proverbs: A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him. I hope she knows I was paying attention. I was young then, with little mothering under my belt. It takes some experience to understand that kind of parental pain.

Years later a fellow lawman shot my husband a text. The population of the state penitentiary had decreased by one.

But it wasn’t my husband’s attacker that I thought of when I heard the news. I thought of her, his mother. She lived through a lot. I wonder. Did she live to see him out?

For WORLD Radio, I’m Kim Henderson.

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow, Mindy Belz joins us to talk about the latest in Syria.

And, teaching young children to program computers—not just play with them.

That and more tomorrow.

I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.

The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.

WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.

The spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline. 

I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!

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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