The World and Everything in It — October 23, 2019

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning! Today, some clarity on the complicated situation in Syria.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Also World Tour with Onize Ohikere. Plus an after-school program that encourages children to spend time in front of computer screens.

LOGAN: Like say someone’s can pay you $1,000 if you make a website for them. That’s why I think it’s important to know how to code.

And Joel Belz on civil discourse.

REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, October 23rd. 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: Now the news. Here’s Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: House Democrats question diplomat in impeachment probe » House Democrats say former U.S. Ambassador William Taylor in closed-door testimony Tuesday contradicted key White House claims about dealings with Ukraine. 

Lawmakers said Taylor drew a “direct line” to the quid pro quo at the center of the impeachment inquiry.  

In an opening statement, Taylor reportedly said President Trump wanted to tie military aid for Ukraine to a public vow that Ukraine would investigate the Bidena’ actions in that country along with other matters. 

House Democrats previously released excerpts of text messages from Taylor in which he wrote, “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy again blasted the process and Democrats’ ongoing closed-door questioning of witnesses.

MCCARTHY: They won’t let you read the transcripts. They want to leak certain items. They don’t want to have it in Judiciary Committee where the American public can see it like we’ve done it before. They don’t want to have you vote on an inquiry. 

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper will appear on Capitol Hill today. 

On Tuesday, President Trump once again said he did nothing wrong in dealings with Ukraine and he compared the impeachment inquiry to “a lynching.” 

Criteria for U.S. no-fly list upheld by appeals court » The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the largely secret criteria for the government’s no-fly list. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The American Civil Liberties Union represented four people who sued the government after being barred from flying. An attorney with the ACLU said “Our clients have been unable to visit family, pursue job opportunities or fulfill religious obligations for over nine years based on vague criteria” and secret evidence. 

But a three-judge panel unanimously sided with the government. The judges said the government has gone as far as the law requires in explaining why each plaintiff is on the list without breaching national security.

Judge Raymond Fisher wrote that “The government has taken reasonable measures to ensure basic fairness to the plaintiffs.” He added that freedom to travel is important but “it must be balanced against the government’s urgent interest in combating terrorism.”

The no-fly list has kept tens of thousands of people from boarding commercial aircraft flying to, from or over the United States since 2001.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen. 

Jimmy Carter suffers fall » Former President Jimmy Carter has had another fall at his home in Georgia. This time he fractured his pelvis. 

In a statement Tuesday a spokeswoman said the 95-year-old suffered a minor fracture and was taken to an area hospital. Carter is reportedly in good spirits and is looking forward to recovering at home.

This is the third time Carter has fallen in recent months. In May he broke his hip on his way to go turkey hunting. Earlier this month he fell and required 14 stitches. But the next day traveled to Nashville to help build a home with Habitat for Humanity. 

More blackouts possible in California » More than half a million people in northern California are facing more blackouts this week. The state’s largest utility warned Tuesday it may cut power again to reduce the risk of wildfires.

Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to 2 million people earlier this month when high winds and dry conditions made fires more likely.

Somona County First District Supervisor Susan Gorin said intentional blackouts wouldn’t be necessary if PG&E had taken steps to reduce risk years ago.

GORIN: They should have been on this from decades ago. Undergrounding lines. Segmenting the transmission grid as they have been doing in Southern California. Where have they been?

Investigators blame PG&E equipment for starting the deadly Camp Fire last year. It killed 85 people and burned more than 240 square miles.

This week’s outages could cover parts of 16 counties. 

British lawmakers approve Brexit deal but reject timetable » British Prime Minister Boris Johnson won a big vote in Parliament Tuesday, but lost another.  

The good news for the prime minister was that lawmakers—for the first time—voted for a Brexit plan. They approved the framework of his renegotiated divorce deal with the EU.

AUDIO: They ayes to the right, 329—the nos to the left 299, so the ayes have it. They ayes have it. 

But minutes later, they rejected Johnson’s push to fast-track the bill. 

That vote made it highly unlikely that the UK will exit the European Union ahead of the October 31st deadline. 

With that, the prime minister said he would “pause” the legislation until the EU decides whether to agree to delay Britain’s departure. 

Johnson was forced to grudgingly ask the EU for a three-month delay on Saturday. Parliament had passed a law ordering the government to seek a postponement if a deal wasn’t already ratified. 

Johnson said his government’s policy remains that the UK should not delay again. But he said it’s now up to the EU whether it will grant another extension. 

JOHNSON: I will report back to the House. And one way or another, we will leave the EU with this deal to which this House has just given its assent. 

European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted Tuesday that because of the votes he would recommend that the other 27 EU nations grant another Brexit delay.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: The U.S. pullout in northern Syria has left Christian communities exposed. Plus, an after-school activity that encourages more screen time. This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, the 23rd 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.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up, the war in northern Syria.

Kurdish forces completed their pullout of an exclusion zone in northern Syria on Tuesday. That announcement came hours before a ceasefire in the region was set to expire. But fighting in the area continues. And it’s not clear how the territorial dispute between Turkey and Syria will end.

WORLD senior editor Mindy Belz has been following the situation closely and joins us now to help unpack the details.

Good morning, Mindy!

MINDY BELZ, GUEST: Good morning, Nick. 

EICHER: Most of the reports on this conflict, Mindy, mention two groups: Turkey and the Kurds. But I understand it’s a little more complicated than that. Start by explaining for us who the actors are. 

BELZ: Well, besides the United States being in a somewhat unclear state of withdrawal from Syria—we still have some U.S. forces on the ground, we have some that have departed and have moved into Iraq. We now have a new actor and that is Russia. Late yesterday, Turkey and Russia signed an agreement that will allow Russia to move into this disputed region with Syrian forces. That turns the scene into something new again. We now have one major world power out of the region and one major world power in. And so we have Syria and Russia on one side of the line. The Kurds somewhat still in the middle with a lot of civilians who have been put on the run by this entire two-week situation. And then we have Turkey still pressing down at the border with groups like the Syrian Free Army. 

EICHER: Well, let’s talk about them. Let’s talk about who the Syrian Free Army is and what role they’re playing. 

BELZ: This is an interesting bunch. The Syrian Free Army began with defectors from the Syrian government army who wanted to fight the Assad regime. But throughout the course of a long war in Syria, that group has morphed into an Islamic jihadist group. It is full of al-Qaeda militants. It has some ISIS militants in it. One of the monitoring groups in Syria early last week identified at least 40 former ISIS fighters who were part of this group, probably a lot more than that. But so we know it’s an Islamic jihadist group. 

EICHER: So, ISIS fighters clearly are exploiting the chaos here. 

BELZ: Yes. And it’s important to understand the Syrian Free Army, starting in 2016 has been funded and has had training from Turkey. This is one of the things I think we misunderstand in all this. We have Turkey the NATO partner. We have Turkey the jihadist supporter. 

EICHER: Let’s talk about that ceasefire. You made a mention of it just a minute or so ago. Didn’t last very long. But you’ve been in contact with the groups on the ground. What are they telling you about the ceasefire. 

BELZ: Ceasefire was not really a ceasefire. We never saw Turkey pull back under the terms that it was supposed to abide by in the agreement. We did see the Kurds pull back as they were asked to do. They pulled back out of Ras al-Ain and Talkalakh, two of the main cities in this region. They have been holding those cities since 2015 when they fought and won them back from ISIS. I think it’s important to underscore here that the Kurds have lost 11,000 fighters since 2015 and that’s because they were doing the bulk of U.S.-supported fighting on the ground to rid this region of ISIS. So when we look at the situation we want to look at cities that the Kurds had under their control, they fought for. And the people living in this region, especially those that have been forced to flee again because of new fighting, this is the second or third time for most of them. They had to flee ISIS. They had to flee these groups like the Syrian Free Army. Now they’re fleeing again because they don’t know who’s in control. 

EICHER: We’re hearing a lot in other media reports about how this is affecting the Kurds. So what about Christians and other minority groups in the area?

BELZ: We know that most of the Christian villages in this region have been emptied within the last 10 days or so since the announcement by the Trump White House giving a green light to Turkey moving forward with this planned invasion. Turkey has been talking about doing this for a long time. It’s only been this small contingent of U.S. forces on the ground that have kept them from moving in as we now are seeing. If you listen to what Erdogan is saying, he wants to resettle this region with, he says, Syrian refugees. Most of those are Muslim, Arab, and many of them are going to be Free Syrian Army types. They are going to be al-Qaeda supporters. They’re going to be a much more radical element. And we know this scene. We’ve watched it happen in Iraq. We’ve watched it happen in other parts of Syria. When they come into this region, they will target and want to eliminate Christian communities—Yazidi communities, non-Muslim communities. 

EICHER: Mindy Belz is WORLD’s senior editor and chief international correspondent. And I’m grateful to you, Mindy, for your time and the work you’re doing watching this for us. 

BELZ: Thanks so much.

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

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Calls for a new government in Lebanon—We start today in the Middle East.

AUDIO: [Protesters in Lebanon]

Protesters in Lebanon demanded a new government on Monday despite promises of change from the current prime minister.

AUDIO: [Prime Minister Saad Hariri]

During a televised address, Prime Minister Saad Hariri said planned reforms were not merely an attempt to pacify protesters. Hariri abandoned the plan to raise taxes that started the protests five days ago.

Anger over the new taxes quickly turned into calls for the government to resign. 

Political power in Lebanon was once evenly divided between Christians and Muslims. But the influence of Hezbollah and its Shiite supporters has grown in recent years. So has discontent over corruption and the economy.

Unity follows Indonesia election—Next we go to Indonesia.

AUDIO: [Widodo inauguration] 

President Joko Widodo began his second term in office on Sunday when he took the oath of office. He urged Indonesians to unite after a bitter election season.

At least one person heeded that call. Opposition leader Prabowo Subianto announced Monday that he would join his rival’s cabinet. Subianto will focus on strengthening the country’s defense.

The former special forces general initially refused to accept the election results. He blamed his loss on fraud. Nine people died in post-election riots after officials declared Widodo the winner.

Subianto conceded after he lost a court challenge to overturn the election result.

Exhuming Franco’s remains—Next we go to Spain.

The socialist government will exhume the remains of former dictator General Francisco Franco on Thursday. He will be reburied in his family’s crypt in a cemetery close to the capital.

A court cleared the way for the move last month. The initiative started in 2007 when lawmakers passed a bill seeking redress for thousands of Franco victims buried in unmarked graves.

CALVO: [Carmen Calvo]

Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said moving Franco’s remains would ensure no one will exalt a dictator in Spain’s current democracy.

Franco came to power in 1939 after leading a rebellion against Spain’s democratic government. His brutal dictatorship lasted until 1975.

Mummies discovered in Egypt—And finally, we end today in Egypt.

AUDIO: [Sound of crowd, camera shutters]

Archaeologists there have discovered 30 well-preserved coffins that date back to the 10th century B-C. The ornately decorated sarcophagi were buried about 3 feet underground near the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. They contain the bodies of men, women, and children believed to belong to a family of high priests.

AUDIO: [Egyptian minister of Antiquities]

The Egyptian minister of Antiquities hailed the find as one of the most significant discoveries since the 20-11 Arab Spring uprising. The unrest and insecurity caused a delay in excavation projects. But more than 250 new projects are now underway.

That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Onize Ohikere.

MARY REICHARD: Locals call it “Death Road.” It winds nearly 11,000 feet into the clouds… 

It spirals over the jungles of Bolivia into the jagged peaks of the Andes Mountains.

Hundreds, if not thousands, have perished on that road. 

But that didn’t scare Mirtha Muñoz even a little bit.

She competed in a 37-mile cycling competition on Death Road called Skyrace, and in doing it she broke a record.

“It’s vertical climb,” she says, “you go up and up and there’s no rest.”

As for the record she broke? 

Well, at 70 years of age, she became the oldest person ever to compete.

Here’s hoping she breaks that record again and again!

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, October 23rd. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: teaching kids to code.

When the school day ends, many children go play soccer, take dance lessons, or learn to play a musical instrument. But now there’s another option.

EICHER: WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg went to a computer coding center for children in Sandy, Utah, to find out what’s behind this new trend.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: At Code Ninjas, the computer room is called the Dojo. This afternoon, six elementary-aged students—or ninjas—look intently at their computer screens.

DASHIELL: I think I’ve been here since last summer….

Eight-year-old Dashiell’s blonde-buzzed head bounces between his computer screen and a large tablet. The tablet displays sentences of code. It’s made up of words, numbers and symbols that tell Dashiell how to speak the computer’s language. 

DASHIELL: I think that dollar signs just for the code too, like connect to each header. 

Dashiell’s computer screen has a green, yellow, and orange star on it. With a small pointer finger, he types “spin parentheses yellow star comma negative 100 parentheses semicolon” into a line of code. 

DASHIELL: I’m doing spin counter clockwise on these Java strips. And I added negative signs. SARAH: What does that mean? DASHIELL: It will spin counter clockwise. 

Sure enough, the yellow star starts spinning.

Then, Dashiell types the same code for the green circle—expect this time negative 20. The green circle spins but much more slowly. He says it feels good to see the computer do what he tells it to do.

DASHIELL: My favorite thing about coding is like when it comes to like code, like it tells you to spin and you get to type in the number. But like the bigger the number, the faster it’ll spin. That’s a really fun. 

Code Ninjas is one of a growing number of coding centers for children. Emily Clark owns this location, and in the last three months enrollment here has doubled. Clark says parents see computer skills—like coding—are missing from most school curriculums. 

CLARK: From what parents and some of our ninjas have been telling me is that they only will do like introductory classes, maybe once a semester, but beyond that, there’s really nothing available to the kids. 

Throughout the week, 100 students come here after school. It will take them four years to work through the program. Students start as white belts. Once the new ninjas have mastered the building blocks of coding, they start leveling up.

CLARK: So we start off easy with some scratch games which is drag and drop block coding. And once they get through Java Script, they’re going to move into programming roadblocks games in the language that roadblocks uses.

By the very end of the program, in order to earn a black belt, students have to create their own video games.  

CLARK: And we help them code it into an app and then we teach them the business side, marketing and monetizing in the app store and the Google Play store and ways they can make money with the stuff that they create. 

Clark says learning coding is like learning a second language. And like any foreign language, it’s much easier to learn as a child.  

CLARK: A lot of advanced degrees like engineering and STEM degrees, they expect kids out of high school to know how to code and to program computers by the time they get to college. So kids that don’t know that already are already behind when they’re starting their freshman year in college. 

Keith Larson just dropped off his son and daughter at the Dojo. His children’s schedules are full of sporting events and dance recitals. But he and his wife think coding is a valuable skill for their future careers. 

LARSON: Just in terms of future technological employment. Just to give them a really good broad base, you know, understanding and a comfort level with technology. I really want to give these opportunities to my, not only my daughter, but my son. 

In an era where many parents are concerned about excessive screen time, some like Larson shrug it off when it comes to coding. 

That’s because Larson argues coding lets children become creators and not just consumers of entertainment. 

LARSON: We’d much rather them actually be coding and learning how these things are done.

Eight-year-old Logan already understands that what he’s learning can be turned into money. 

SARAH: Do you want to be a coder when you grow up? 

LOGAN: Well, yeah, and I think it’s important to know it. That’s why I started.

From beneath long dark lashes Logan’s honey-brown eyes dart around his screen. He drags a knight around with his mouse. He’s trying to escape an army of skeletons. 

LOGAN: Like say someone’s can pay you one $1,000 if you make a website for them. That’s why I think it’s important to know how to code. Wait, yes, I won the game.  

But other children are not so sure about this coding thing. Opposite Logan’s computer, his school classmate Naomi is getting antsy.

NAOMI: I’ve played like so many levels. It feels like a 1,000 levels.  

She pushes strands of brown hair behind her ears and pulls her knees up under her. She’s trying to get a ninja to jump around, but today, she’d rather be outside. 

SARAH: Why do you like coding? NAOMI: I don’t. SARAH: You don’t like it? NAOMI: Well I do and don’t at the same time. 

SARAH: What do you want to do when you grow up? NAOMI: Um, an art teacher.

Emily Clark believes even if some of these children will avoid tech careers…the skills coding teaches can still be valuable. 

CLARK: What we are trying to focus on developing in the kids is logic, problem solving, critical thinking and math, which can crossover into pretty much anything that they’re going to want to do.

And for some children, discovering coding can mean finding something new they’re good at. 

CAMERON: I don’t like sports. And I don’t take music lessons. 

Six weeks ago, 10-year-old Cameron started coding. Now another thing he likes is computers and being here. 

CAMERON: I just like how it can just the computer, what to do and it will do it.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg reporting from Sandy, Utah.

NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, October 23rd. 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. The political and social temperature out there can be very hot. WORLD founder Joel Belz says that gives Christians the opportunity to help bring the temperature down.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: Some observers say our nation has not been this divided since the Civil War. Never so polarized. Never with so many of its citizens set so bitterly against each other.

Since I wasn’t around back then, it’s a little hard for me to compare. But over the last three or four years, I’ve seen enough emotional yelling, table pounding, and enraged blame-shifting to know something atypical is at work. 

We see it not only in electoral politics. We see it in the news media, entertainment, music, even sports.

But what concerns me most when I see these to-the-death squabbles invade the walls of the local church. Drop in during what we used to call a “fellowship hour,” and you’ll find anything but fellowship. 

Sometimes it’s been just good, vigorous discussion. But it’s getting more and more animated. And that’s what scares me. When discussion turns into insults and abuse, Satan wins.

In my own experience I’ve observed four congregational types. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether your own church fits any of these profiles.

Congregation A steers clear of anything resembling political involvement. Whether from its pulpit, Christian education program, or informal discussion, it diligently follows half of the anciently safe proverb: “We just don’t talk about religion and politics here.” 

Congregation B is bolder. Under the heading of “Biblical World­view,” its leaders don’t hesitate to bring up subjects like abortion or care for the environment. They may differ with each other on the applicability and meaning of certain Bible verses, but they believe such teachings are there. 

Congregation C is more specific. It may or may not help its people develop a thoughtful Biblical worldview. No matter. The leaders of Congregation C decide which political positions and measures ought to be enacted. Then they rally the forces: “Vote for Proposition X,” they say.

Congregation D takes the next logical step by endorsing specific candidates for various offices. A Sunday morning pastoral prayer in such a church won’t just include a minimal request that God would oversee the work of civic leaders, as the apostle Paul instructed. It will go regularly beyond that to ask God to bless the good guys (by name)—and punish the bad guys (by name)—at next Tuesday’s election.

So here’s the challenge. How do we fill our roles as believers without allowing conversations degenerate into what looks like a meeting at a local political precinct? How do we resist our culture’s propensity to fill every conver­sation with ugliness and insults?

In short, it’s the same way we live the rest of our Christian lives. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and more. We’d do well to remember that the next time we gather for a fellowship hour. 

For WORLD Radio, I’m Joel Belz.

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow, meatless burgers are all the rage. We’ll tell you why they may not live up to all the hype.

And, we’ll introduce you to a long-time Christian truck driver who sees his job as more than hauling stuff from point A to point B.

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.

Proverbs teaches that the name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. 

Go now in grace and peace.

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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