The World and Everything in It — November 27, 2019

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

All eyes seem trained on ending the trade war between the United States and China. But a possibly more consequential trade agreement is languishing in the U.S. Congress: free trade in North America.

NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.

Also World Tour with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere. 

Plus two years ago Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. Thousands left for Florida where churches were standing by to help.

GUASP: Just listening to them, praying with them, and then also providing to help them meet those needs as well.

REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, November 27th. 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 the news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Fired Navy secretary fires back at Trump over SEAL pardon » Recently fired Navy Secretary Richard Spencer is firing back at President Trump over his pardon of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher. 

A military jury convicted Gallagher of posing with a dead ISIS fighter in Iraq. On Monday, the president defended his decision to pardon Gallagher and other soldiers earlier this month.

TRUMP: I have to protect my warfighters. 

But in an interview with CBS News, Richard Spencer said the commander in chief sent the wrong message to U.S. troops; that actions don’t have consequences. 

SPENCER: I don’t think he really understands the full definition of a warfighter. A warfighter is a profession of arms. And a profession of arms has standards that they have to be held to and they hold themselves to. 

Spencer said he could not in good conscience obey an order that he believed violated an oath he took. 

Defense Secretary Mark Esper fired Spencer this week—after he allegedly went around Esper’s back to try and work out a compromise with the White House in the Gallagher case. 

Albania hit with strongest earthquake in decades » Rescue crews in Albania sifted through the crumbled concrete and lumber of collapsed buildings on Tuesday, searching for survivors of the strongest earthquake to hit the country in decades. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The 6.4 magnitude quake struck about 20 miles northwest of the capital city of Tirana, but it was felt across the southern Balkans. Multiple aftershocks followed, with several above magnitude 5.

At least 20 people are dead and more than 600 others injured.

The overnight quake knocked down apartment buildings and hotels while people slept. Neighboring countries and European nations sent search-and-rescue crews to help find any survivors still trapped in the rubble.

Albania experiences regular seismic activity. In September, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake destroyed about 500 homes.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Ebola responders on lockdown in Congo » Ebola responders are on lockdown in the eastern Congo city of Beni after angry residents attacked a United Nations base to protest repeated rebel assaults. 

Local officials said at least four protesters were killed. 

The violence is not directed at the World Health Organization or the Ebola teams at large. Beni residents are outraged that rebels continue to carry out deadly attacks despite the presence of UN peacekeepers and Congolese forces. Some demand that the UN mission act or leave.

But WHO said the unrest is endangering many more lives. The agency’s director-general tweeted that every day health workers don’t have full access to Ebola-affected areas is a “tragedy” that prolongs the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history.

Millions of Thanksgiving travelers hit the highways » About 49 million Americans are hitting the road this week for the Thanksgiving holiday. AAA spokeswoman Tamra Johnson says most of the top travel destinations this year are of the warm-and-sunny variety with Orlando, Florida and Anaheim, California topping the list. 

JOHNSON: The theme park destinations are very popular this year. But we’re also seeing that locations like New York, New York, Las Vegas, Nevada, and also Honolulu, Hawaii are also very popular and are all in the top-5. 

Today will be the busiest day on highways across the country. Johnson says if you can wait till tomorrow to make the drive, you’re probably better off. 

JOHNSON: Otherwise, try to leave as early as possible in the morning, no matter what day of the week you leave. That way you can avoid the rush hour traffic and get to your destination as soon as possible. 

AAA expects to rescue more than 300,000 motorists, mostly due to dead batteries, flat tires, and lockouts. With that in mind, Johnson recommends checking your battery and tire tread before you hit the road. 

Winter storms wreak havoc on holiday travel » Depending on where you live or where you’re traveling, you may also want to check the weather. 

Todd Krause with the National Weather Service says blizzard conditions will make for hazardous holiday travel from the Rockies to the Great Lakes.

KRAUSE: We’ve got warnings issued all the way from Colorado and Wyoming, through Minnesota, up to upper Michigan, and for heavy snow and strong winds. So we’re looking at 8 to 12 inches of snow, winds maybe gusting to 30-40 miles per hour. It’s gonna be bad. 

Thousands of travelers were stranded at Denver’s airport Tuesday, after winter weather forced airlines to cancel more than 500 flights. 

Further west, residents of Northern California and southern Oregon are feeling the force of a so-called “bomb cyclone.” The National Weather Service said residents there haven’t experienced anything like it in decades. 

The forecast called for wind gusts of 75 miles per hour in some areas—with waves up to 35 feet slamming the coast. 

And forecasters said mountain passes in the region could get up to 2 feet of snow.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: the U.S. trade deal with Canada and Mexico hits a snag in Washington. Plus, Puerto Rican immigrants get a warm welcome from Florida churches. This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD: It’s Wednesday the 27th of November, 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. It’s Washington Wednesday. Today, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

That’s the less-than-catchy name for the trade deal that’s supposed to replace NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. The new deal is called the USMCA. President Trump signed an initial agreement outlining the terms almost a year ago. It came during a summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. 

Since then, the deal has languished in the House. And both the House and the Senate have to ratify the agreement before it can take effect.

REICHARD: Mexican lawmakers voted their approval in June. The Canadian parliament came close to giving its approval over the summer as well. That’s been delayed but soon to be taken up again. 

That just leaves U.S. lawmakers to take their vote.

EICHER: The White House had hoped to finalize the deal by the end of 2019. But time is running short. Joining us now to talk about what’s causing the delay is Derek Scissors. He’s an economist and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Good morning!


EICHER: So here’s where we stand. The president says USMCA is dead in the water. He said that on Sunday. The speaker of the House says she wants a done deal before the end of the year. 

But we should note that between now and the end of the year, I see only eight days on the legislative calendar, so that timeline seems rather a tall order. 

Do you know what the main sticking points are between Democrats and the White House?

SCISSORS: Well, I think for awhile—House Democrats have a right to ask for what they want before the put this up for a vote. And for a while they seemed to be focused on pretty specific issues having to do with how the U.S. would respond to failures by the other parties—Canada and Mexico, but especially Mexico—to fulfill their side of the deal. And that’s long been a concern with people about free trade deals that you sign the deal, the other side doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, and then nothing happens. After months of talking to the administration, House Democrats are still saying, “Enforcement, enforcement, enforcement,” which is a very vague statement. So I think the original hold-up was legitimate issues. And the current hold-up is politics.

EICHER: It’s interesting that our top three trading partners are China, Mexico, and Canada. China is the number two economy in the world, measuring by GDP, and Canada and Mexico are pretty small economies, relatively, yet major trading partners for us. So a trade agreement with our neighbors seems really crucial. 

Talk about why the president felt the need to negotiate a new framework.

SCISSORS: Well, there are two reasons. The first one is NAFTA’s old. It’s 25 years old. It’s time for a new agreement. We didn’t even have e-commerce when we signed NAFTA. There’s a whole different way people trade and buy things now that didn’t exist. Lots of other changes and technology, other improvements that we realize we could have now that we didn’t in 1994. So, I think everyone who wants an agreement wants to update NAFTA. The president also has another goal, which is he thinks NAFTA has serious flaws. For example, in auto trade. So he saw an opportunity to both update the agreement, which would clearly improve it, and change it to make it more fitting with what he wants. And, in fact, both of those goals fit with what House Democrats want, but they still haven’t been willing to move forward.

EICHER: So what happens if it doesn’t get done by the end of the year?

SCISSORS: It’s very risky to let this go into an election year. Obviously people can come back and say, “Oh, right, a vote on January 6th. That’s not a problem. Why are you being so dramatic?” But when Congress comes back from recess, every recess every time—Republican or Democrat, Senate or House—they come back anti-trade because their constituents are angry about trade. And members of Congress who are in office, they don’t say, “Well, actually it’s my fault.” They say it’s somebody else’s fault. It’s usually the other party. But if it’s not the other party, it’s some other country. So, when you go away to recess, you have a problem with trade agreements. And when you go away to recess going into an election year, you have the other problem that none of the Democratic candidates have supported USMCA and if one of them pulls into the lead or if there are three of them that have outdistanced the others and they all say we hate USMCA, it becomes impossible at that point for Democrats to vote for it. So, the clock is clearly ticking. It doesn’t run out December 31st, but it very well could run out January 31st.

EICHER: Now, we’ve been talking about a trade deal with Canada and Mexico. And as important as that is, it’s not the trade deal getting the most attention these days: that would be some kind of settlement of the trade war with China. 

It seems fair to say many economists, business leaders, and, in particular, Wall Street seem much more worried about trade talks between Washington and Beijing. Are you among them?

SCISSORS: No, I definitely don’t think the China trade deal is more important. And it’s very strange to me that the stock market is so focused on China, not on USMCA. You already mentioned that Canada and Mexico are top two partners and China is third. But, of course, there are two of them so there’s twice as much or more than twice as much trade involved in USMCA as with China. More important than that, USMCA is a comprehensive agreement that if it passes the Congress will last for decades because it’s been a Republican and Democrat, administration and Congress all agreed. The China agreement in comparison to USMCA is just a little phase one ceasefire and maybe we’ll get to it later. Congress isn’t involved. The next president could reverse it. It’s smaller and it’s much more temporary. So, there’s been a lot of attention on Wall Street, you’re right, to the China trade deal, but that’s strange because in terms of our economy and ordinary people’s lives, USMCA is much more important. 

EICHER: Well, what do you think about that? Why is China a bigger priority on Wall Street?

SCISSORS: Well, to be honest—or blunt—I think this is the stock market being different from what’s good for the country. There are a lot of financial interests at play in the U.S.-China relationship that don’t really exist in the Canada and Mexico relationships. You mentioned that China is the second biggest economy in the world and Canada and Mexico are down the list. That means there are a lot of deals that can be struck with China because it’s so big. So, Wall Street, stock market, the financial community has a great deal of interest in U.S.-China. The rest of the country has much more interest in U.S., Mexico, and Canada. But that isn’t reflected in the stock market and it isn’t reflected in U.S. news coverage.

EICHER: Do you see any connection between delays in the USMCA and the U.S.-China trade talks? Are they related?

SCISSORS: Well, I think the trade talks are connected. I don’t think the delays are connected. House Democrats are dealing with internal politics within the Democratic party. That’s what the delay is about. But the trade talks are connected because it’s really hard for both of these to go well or both of these to go badly for President Trump. If they both go badly, it’s a hit to the stock market, it’s a potential hit to the economy. He looks like he can’t close a deal. He’s under a lot of pressure at that point. Even if they both go well, there could be a problem because someone might say, wait, you were supposed to stand up for American workers and here you are making deals all over the place. So, I would expect that the worse the odds are the better the odds are for the other, which sounds strange, but I think that’s the situation the president wants to be in in 2020. I made a deal, a great deal with one of these countries and I didn’t make the deal because it wasn’t good enough with another one of these countries.

EICHER: Derek Scissors is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Thanks so much for joining us today!

SCISSORS: Thanks for having me.

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

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Protests continue in Iraq—We start today in the Middle East.

AUDIO: [Iraqi students protest]

Protests in Iraq show no signs of slowing. Students in the southern city of Basra took to the streets Monday to demand a new government. At least 13 protesters died in clashes with police there.

Another protester died on Tuesday during protests in Baghdad. Nearly 3-hundred-fifty people have died since the protests started on October 1st.

AUDIO: [Iraqi student protestor]

Protesters like this man demand police stop firing live ammunition and tear gas canisters into crowds. U.S. officials and the United Nations have also denounced the use of force.

Despite the ongoing public anger, political leaders in Baghdad have so far rejected calls to step down.

Korean evangelist killed in Turkey—Next to Turkey.

A Korean evangelist died last week after an attacker stabbed him. Jinwook Kim had lived in Turkey for five years and had just planted a small church there.

Police are treating the stabbing as a botched robbery. But Christians believe the unidentified attacker targeted Kim because of his faith. They are calling Kim a martyr—Turkey’s first since 2007.

Floods and mudslides in Kenya—Next we go to Africa.

AUDIO: [Floods in Kenya]

Search crews are continuing to find victims of weekend flooding and mudslides in Kenya. The death toll now stands at 65.

AUDIO: [Fredrick Kimanga]

Fredrick Kimanga is the district county commissioner of West Pokot, one of the hardest hit areas. He urged people to evacuate because the rain is expected to continue and relief supplies could be slow to arrive.

Torrential rains are not normal in Kenya this time of year. But an unusual weather system has dumped heavy rain over the entire region. South Sudan and Somalia have also seen record-breaking rainfall.

French soldiers killed in Mali—Next to Mali.

AUDIO: [Florence Parly]

Thirteen French soldiers died Monday during an operation against insurgents near the borders of Burkina Faso and Niger. It was the heaviest single loss for the French military in nearly four decades.

French Defence Minister Florence Parly said the soldiers were on board two military helicopters that collided in midair. She called the soldiers “heroes who died for France.”

French forces have been fighting Islamic militants in Mali since 2013. Insurgents have increasingly targeted army outposts in recent weeks despite efforts to stop the violence.

Egyptian woman wins inheritance case—And finally, we end today in Egypt.

A Coptic Christian woman won a significant inheritance case on Tuesday. A court in Cairo ruled that Huda Nasrallah may inherit the same share as her brothers. That reverses the previous law that said women can only inherit half of what their brothers get.

Nasrallah is a human rights lawyer. She based her arguments on Christianity’s equal treatment of sons and daughters—making her victory even more remarkable in the Muslim-majority country.

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

MARY REICHARD: Sometimes, the best-laid plans just don’t work out. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled his new Cybertruck at a special event last week. The Cybertruck looks like something from a sci-fi movie.

Musk told the crowd that Cybertruck’s body will not bend or scratch. To make the point, a designer took a sledgehammer to the door of a normal pickup truck. You can imagine how that went: big dent!

MUSK: Now hit the Cybertruck. Hit it harder. [bang—cheers—laugh]

Not even a scratch! 

Then to really make the point, the designer threw a steel ball at one of Cybertruck’s windows. 

MUSK: You sure? Yeah. [thud] Oh my [bleep]! Well, maybe that was a little too hard. (laugh)

Supposed to be unbreakable, like the unsinkable ship Titanic. Whoops! 

Turns out they should have switched the order of bashes: first the window, then the door. The first bash cracked the base of the window, which is why the steel ball didn’t bounce off. 

Now if only they could engineer accidents to happen in the proper sequence like that! 

(But then it wouldn’t be an accident.)

It’s The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD: Today is Wednesday, November 27th. We’re so glad you’ve joined us today for The World and Everything in ItGood morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Next up: The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is in trouble. 

The small Caribbean island’s government declared bankruptcy two years ago. Violent crime and unemployment have spiked. Then, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck.  

That was the last straw for many. Over the next year, more than a hundred-thousand Puerto Ricans left for the mainland United States.

REICHARD: Some of those people came to Orlando, Florida where an already robust Puerto Rican community lives. But many came without jobs, without housing, or without schools lined up. 

A network of Hispanic churches stepped up to meet those needs. Here’s WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg with our story.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: At Iglesia Bautista Central’s Wednesday night service, a small congregation raises their hands. Some sing.. Some bow their heads in prayer. The band on stage alternates singing and Scripture-reading between Spanish and English. 

AUDIO: [Sound of scripture reading]

Ninety percent of this congregation is Puerto Rican. Some have lived in the United States for decades. Others have just arrived in the last two years in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. 

VALERIA: It’s like an image that’s never going to go out of my mind. 

Twenty-three-year-old Valeria Ortega and her family lived in the northern coastal city of Toa Alta when Hurricane Maria hit. To ride the storm out, the family climbed into their pickup truck in the garage. Through the garage’s windows, they watched the hurricane unfold. 

VALERIA: It was so impressive how you couldn’t even see the house in front of us. It was really impressive. We saw how a garage like crumpled into a ball. We saw how a car, the back crystal of the car, broke, like exploded. It was really traumatizing. 

The Ortega’s house didn’t get electricity back for two months. Valeria’s parents, Mildrey and Luis, ran a daycare. The daycare didn’t get power back for six months, so they couldn’t earn any income. Nine months after the storm, Mildrey Ortega says the family decided to leave for the United States. 

MILDREY: We always think that if the Lord open the doors for us, this would be the time. So that’s what happened. 

Thousands of Puerto Ricans with similar stories also arrived in the Orlando area. Edgar Vasquez is the pastor here at Iglesia Bautista Central.

VASQUEZ: In 2017 with all the problem that is happening in Puerto Rico, we are starting to notice that a lot of people from Puerto Rico starting come to our city. 

To be able to help everyone in need, a network of 35 Hispanic churches pooled volunteers and coordinated resources. Pastor Vasquez says the church network held job fairs, helped families find housing, donated medicines, vehicles, and furniture. Some volunteers visited the hotels where Puerto Ricans were staying and put hangers on door handles with the names and addresses of local churches. 

Volunteers also acted as translators for Spanish-only speakers and told them God cared about their situation.

VASQUEZ: For us is amazing because… no too good for the people because they have to leave their country. But for us is, is great having people because they are more open to God when in this kind of situation.

AUDIO: [Sound of children playing]

Iglesia Bautista Central church reached out to displaced Puerto Ricans through its K-12 Christian school, IBCK. Children play on the school campus right next to the church. 

AUDIO: [Sound of children playing]

In a normal year, the school has 400 students. Following Hurricane Maria, Head of School Dara Guasp says enrollment swelled to more than 600.  

GUASP: In that process we really had to do a lot of counseling, just listening to them, praying with them, and then also providing, as a community, we tried to help them meet those needs as well.

AUDIO: [Sound of students dribbling basketball]

Today, in the school’s gymnasium, high school students play basketball between classes. A year ago this auditorium was full of volunteers filling backpacks with school supplies and sorting canned food. The supplies were for Puerto Ricans still pouring in after the hurricane. 

GUASP: We brought rice, beans, the canned vegetables… 

Dara Guasp says today the needs of the Puerto Rican community are still great. A fifth of this year’s student body just arrived from the island. To make ends meet, many parents are working two or three jobs. Children are also missing their tight-knit communities. To help, IBCK started a free after-school program where students can play sports or music and act in school plays. 

GUASP: When you have parents working, when the kids go home, they don’t necessarily have that person helping them with homework or studying with them, which is another reason why we have the after-school program. 

And the Ortegas? Well when they got to Florida, they didn’t have jobs. Through an online job site, they connected with Iglesia Bautista Central. The church helped them move into a house. Mildrey and her daughter Valeria both have teaching degrees. The church’s school hired them.  

MILDREY: I am in love really with my kids. There is strong kids and a smart kids. There are challenging kids, but I like a lot my group. 

Besides jobs, the Ortegas say their church has made Florida feel like home. When Hurricane Dorian threatened the state this fall, Mildrey and her husband Luis were scared. So church members came to their home, boarded up every window and prayed over the house. 

MILDREY: So we say, you see God is providing us also for that God provides us. 

LUIS: They made us to feel like family. Yeah. They welcome us as a family from the first day.

MUSIC: [Church worship band]

For WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg reporting from Kissimmee, Florida.

NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, November 27th. 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. Some aspects of the environmental movement are decidedly anti-Christian. But WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney gets to the root of the matter.

JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: Two hours among the giant sequoias of Yosemite, drinking in reams of information from a Park Ranger, will re-define anyone’s idea of “a walk in the woods.”

Any deep dive into nature impresses me with the marvelous variety and particularity of every living species. Each is itself, yet feeds and is fed by every other. Is nature locked in an unending struggle for limited resources, or does it participate in Creation’s great dance? The Bible says both.

The day before my walk in the Mariposa Grove, teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg addressed the U.N. Special Session on Climate Change. Thunberg has become the conscience of the elite, speaking to humanity’s desecration of Earth.

Her emotional speech to the U.N., laced with threats like, “We are watching you,” made no clear prescription about exactly what to do, besides cut global emissions by more than 65 percent. That, incidentally, would send the third world spiraling back to a subsistence economy.

The rejection of reason, the outright hysteria of climate activism often sounds like a neo-pagan religion. And in fact, one of the founding documents of radical environmentalism calls for just that.

“The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis” by Lynn White, was published in the journal Science all the way back in 1967. As a historian, Professor White blamed Christianity, “the most anthropocentric religion the world has seen,” for its supposed view that, quote, “nature has no reason for existence save to serve man.” 

According to White, ancient cultures saw every stream, tree, and hill protected by guardian spirits, but, quote, “by destroying pagan animism, Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.”

Having established the Christian roots of clear-cutting, surface-mining, and industrial pollution, White issued a startling call. Quoting now: “Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not.” End quote.

The adoration of Greta, the apocalyptic predictions, the self-flagellation, all indicate religious fervor running wild. Take the Union Theological Seminary chapel service in September, in which students were encouraged to confess their ecological sins to an array of potted plants. Forgive us, Aloe Vera!

Professor Lynn wasn’t wrong about the religious roots of ecological sin, but he should have consulted his Bible for the full picture. Nature rejoices in declaring God’s glory and power. Exploitation, like so much else, stems from the great human sin of refusing to participate in that glorification project and instead wresting glory for ourselves. Creation does indeed groan for our sins (see Romans 8:19), but it also anticipates our full redemption.

Redemption won’t come from 65 percent fewer carbon emissions, or 35 percent fewer people, or any program that diminishes humans in order to elevate houseplants. We are linked together, humanity and nature. And God has bigger, better plans for both of us.

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

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: people who live with cystic fibrosis have a new drug therapy to help them. We’ll talk to a woman who’s already experienced life-changing results.

And, given the occasion, the presidential Thanksgiving tradition of pardoning a turkey.

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 earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.

Thanks for listening, and please meet us back here 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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