The World and Everything in It — December 12, 2019

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

Child welfare advocates are raising questions about a law they say prioritizes Native American culture over the well-being of Native children.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Also the country of Argentina has a new president whose politics veers left while neighboring countries are are going the other way. We’ll talk about what that means.

Plus opening up your home as a concert venue:

PARKS: Whenever I tell somebody that I’m having a concert here, they’re totally shocked. And I like that.

And Cal Thomas on when political correctness is at odds with public safety. 

REICHARD: It’s Thursday, December 12th. 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: Here’s Kent Covington now with the news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Justice Dept. watchdog testifies about report on FBI handling of Russia probe » Senators on the Judiciary Committee grilled the Justice Department’s internal watchdog on Wednesday about his report on the FBI’s handling of the Russia probe.

Inspector general Michael Horowitz said his office found “significant concerns” with the bureau’s actions. 

HOROWITZ: Particularly, the FBI’s failure to adhere to its own standards of accuracy and completeness when filing applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act authority, known as FISA. 

That was the FISA warrant agents obtained to begin eavesdropping on the Trump campaign. 

Republicans pressed the inspector general on the question of political bias. While his report found wrongdoing, it did not find evidence to conclude that political bias against Donald Trump was the cause. But Horowitz clarified that his report also did not absolve agents of acting politically. 

HOROWITZ: It’s unclear what the motivations were. On the one hand, gross incompetence, negligence. On the other hand, intentionality, and where in between, we weren’t in a position, with the evidence we had, to make that conclusion. 

Horowitz did conclude, however, that the FBI had adequate cause to launch the Russia probe. Attorney General William Barr has publicly refuted that conclusion. 

House defense bill authorizes Space Force, paid parental leave » Meantime, lawmakers in the House passed a big defense bill on Wednesday. That bill would establish a U.S. Space Force as the sixth armed service of the United States under the Department of the Air Force. 

GOP Congressman Mike Rogers said that would make it the first new branch of the military since 1947. 

ROGERS: It also recognizes space as a warfighting domain, and authorizes the transfer of Air Force personnel to the newly established Space Force. This is an important step for our National Security. 

The bill also includes a military pay raise of just over 3 percent. 

The annual bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act has a price tag of $738 billion. It passed easily on a vote of 377 to 48. 

GOP members won over Democratic votes by agreeing to include something else in the bill—paid parental leave. 

Democrat Carolyn Maloney of New York…

MALONEY: This provision will provide 12 weeks paid parental leave for all federal employees for the birth of a child or adoption of a child. 

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week. 

Pentagon halts operational training for Saudi students in wake of shooting » The Pentagon is taking action after a Saudi Arabian military student opened fire at a Naval Air Station in Florida last week. The U.S. military is halting its operational training for Saudi students and tightening its vetting process.

The suspension will only halt flying sessions. Classroom activities will continue. The decision grounded more than 300 Saudi aviation students.

Last Friday, a 21-year-old second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force killed three people at the naval base in Pensacola. President Trump has said his administration will review the program that provides training to members of foreign militaries.

Jersey City mayor: Gunmen targeted kosher market » Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said Wednesday that video evidence is shedding new light on a furious gun battle that left six people dead one day earlier. 

The three civilians who died inside a kosher market may not have been simply caught in the crossfire between criminals and police. 

FULOP: We do feel comfortable that it was a targeted attack on the Jewish kosher deli across the street here. 

He said video surveillance showed the gunmen drive up to the deli in a van, before calmly exiting the vehicle and opening fire. 

Still, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal isn’t quite ready to label it an anti-Semitic attack. 

GREWAL: Right now, we are working to learn more about the shooters’ motivations, and whether anyone besides the two gunmen may have been involved. 

The gunmen also killed a police officer at a nearby cemetery. The killers then drove a stolen rental van about a mile to the kosher market. They then used at least one high-powered rifle in a drawn-out battle with police. Both men died in the shootout.

One official told the Associated Press that law enforcement is examining potential connections between the attackers and the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. The official said some of its members are known to rail against whites and Jews. 

Judge blocks border wall funds » A federal judge in Texas has ruled that the Trump administration cannot divert more than three-and-a-half billion dollars in Pentagon money for a border wall. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has more. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: U.S. District Judge David Briones said President Trump’s national emergency declaration in January does not justify using military construction funds for the wall.

He said the move violates a restriction authorized by Congress to limit border wall funding to $1.4 billion. The administration is likely to appeal the ruling. 

The White House faced another challenge to wall funding earlier this year. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned an injunction issued by a federal judge in California. That allowed the administration to use two-and-a-half billion dollars in Pentagon funds to upgrade fencing.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.

UK voters head to polls » Voters in the UK are heading to the polls today for an early general election. 

JOHNSON: I hope very much I can count on your support tomorrow. Definitely, yeah. Thank you very much. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson heard there on Wednesday, campaigning door to door ahead of today’s vote. 

“Get Brexit done!” is the campaign slogan of his Conservative Party. Johnson pushed for the early election in hopes of breaking the gridlock in Parliament. If conservatives win a clear majority, he’ll finally have the backing he needs to deliver Brexit ahead of the January 31st deadline. 

Polls suggest Conservatives have a lead over the main opposition Labour Party. That party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, wants a second referendum on Brexit.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: rethinking the Indian Child Welfare Act. Plus, performances that turn living rooms into concert halls. This is The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: It’s Thursday, the 12th of December, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up, Native American children and foster care.

Forty years ago, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act, or ICWA. It was meant to remedy bias against Native American families. 

Beginning in the late 1800s, many Native American children were taken away from their families to be raised by white families. ICWA’s job was to keep Indian families together and preserve tribal authority.

EICHER: Under ICWA, if a child in custody proceedings has Native American heritage, ICWA supersedes state law. So first preference goes to a member of the child’s extended family, then to other members of the child’s tribe. As a last resort, if no one comes forward, the child can go to a non-Native family.

But now, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to reevaluate whether ICWA is helping or actually hurting Native children. WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Caleb and Becca Olfert began fostering soon after their first child was born. In 2013, they moved near the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Northeast Montana. 

BECCA: We started farming here and before we even like got settled in our house we were already receiving phone calls.

Fort Peck social workers asked Caleb and Becca Olfert to take a 3-year-old boy and his baby sister. Their case fell under the Indian Child Welfare Act. 

That meant state social workers started doing everything they could to place the brother and sister with blood relatives. 

BECCA: They started visits with birth mom, and she was proved that she cannot parent. 

Then they contacted one of the children’s dads. 

BECCA: Then he just decided they were in a good home and he wanted to keep them here. 

No extended relatives offered to take the children either. By then the siblings had been in the Olfert’s home for more than two years, so they moved to adopt. The family completed the state’s adoption process, but under ICWA, there was one last step. 

The state had to run ads in a newspaper for six weeks to let any tribe members know they could still take the children. In the summer of 2016, a great aunt heard about the ad. 

BECCA: And within weeks they were gone after two and a half years, and she has them.

Becca and Caleb Olfert say they understand the goal of foster care is the reunification of families. But the children were well-adjusted to their home and a part of their family. The great-aunt was a stranger

BECCA: That’s the part that was hard to swallow and still is hard to swallow because there wasn’t any consideration on what really was best for the kids. 

Mark Fiddler is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. He’s also a Minnesota-based foster and adoption lawyer. He turned against ICWA after he saw situations like the Olferts’.

FIDDLER: I was seeing kids that were securely attached to their non-Indian caregivers and tribes were disregarding that attachment and saying that it didn’t matter. Cultural preservation was the goal as opposed to attachment preservation of the child. 

Fiddler says that approach does nothing to preserve tribal identity and culture. 

FIDDLER: If Indian children grow up with attachment problems there, they have a harder time forming relationships in the future. And a harder time reconnecting with a tribal culture and other people whose relationships that they depend on for cultural connections.

Fiddler now represents three families challenging ICWA. They argue the law unconstitutionally treats Native children differently because of their race. 

Last year, a Texas district judge ruled in favor of the suit’s original plaintiffs in Brackeen vs. Bernhardt, overturning ICWA. Then in August, a 5th Circuit panel reversed that ruling. But, last month, the 5th Circuit announced a majority of its judges had agreed to review the case before the entire bench. 

Many Native American rights advocates argue the law is still necessary to protect Native children and culture. 

Marcia Zug is a professor of American Indian law at the University of South Carolina. Zug says Native American children are still removed from their homes at disproportionately high levels. And a chronic shortage of Native American foster homes means states often place children with non-Native families. Without ICWA, Zug argues, children wouldn’t come back to the tribe.

ZUG: It’s done a lot to keep Indian children with their families and if not with their families, with their tribes. 

And Zug says Natives have to be treated differently by the law because of what happened to them at the hands of the federal government. 

ZUG: They didn’t make this choice to have, you know, their families destroyed. And this relentless assault on their culture, and it really does require a different analysis because of that.

But lawyer Mark Fiddler says ICWA has always misidentified the problem. Federal policy toward Native Americans broke down families. And until they are strengthened again, ICWA won’t fix anything. 

In the meantime, children will continue to be placed according to ICWA priorities. Becca and Caleb Olfert’s sister-in-law, Mindy Olfert, also had a Native foster child removed under ICWA earlier this year. 

The girl came to the family when she was eight days old. The family tried to adopt her, but under ICWA, a relative eventually came forward. When the girl left, she was nearly 3. The family’s hearts are broken, but Mindy Olfert says she doesn’t despair.

MINDY: We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is God and He is good, and he has a good plan for these kiddos, so we trust Him with them.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG: One last note before I go. This story is complicated. There’s a painful past causing a painful present. What is the best way forward? There’s nuance and gray areas. It’s not simple, black-and-white.

Here at WORLD, we believe that presenting a shades-of-gray story as a black-and-white one is not only inaccurate. It also wouldn’t serve you very well. 

We want to help you wrestle through the complicated issues of our day by doing the hard work of factual reporting.

The lawyer in my story today, Mark Fiddler, told me, “Don’t trust narratives, they explain too much.” 

Not a bad point. But there is one narrative we can trust: one that explains everything we need to know in order to understand the world. 

You know where I’m headed: the gospel. The world is broken. Sin is out there, but also in here, and I’m pointing at myself.

The good news is we have a God who saves, redeems, and restores. That changes everything! It changes how we approach journalism, too.

For more than 30 years, WORLD has been helping readers and listeners understand the news in light of that truth. Would you help us continue to do that? 

I’m Sarah Schweinsberg, and this is WORLD’s December Giving Drive. Please, take a moment and visit That’s where you can make a year-end gift to help us go into 2020 strong.

Thank you.

NICK EICHER: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: changing politics in Argentina.

The South American country swore in a new president on Tuesday. Alberto Fernández is from the country’s center-left Peronist movement. It takes its name from former president Juan Peron whose ideology took hold in the 1940s. You may remember, his wife Eva Peron became the subject of the popular musical Evita.

MARY REICHARD: Peronist policies have changed over time. But they are basically left-leaning and trend toward social justice and economic nationalism. That puts Argentina at odds with the current conservative political trend sweeping South America.

Joining us now to talk about what that means for the region and U.S. policy there is Robert Lloyd. He teaches political science and global development at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida. He’s also dean of the School of Arts & Sciences there. Thanks so much for joining us today!

ROBERT LLOYD, GUEST: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.

REICHARD: Peronism has a long history in Argentina. But it fell out of favor for a few years under the outgoing president, Mauricio Macri. What caused voters to return to it in this latest election?

ROBERT LLOYD, GUEST: Yes, I think one of the interesting things about the dynamic there is Argentina used to be per capita one of the richest countries in the world if you look back at the early 1900s. Peronism came in in the 1940s and moving forward to varying degrees each decade, which always pushed a very strong populism, concern for the poor, social services, state intervention, and the economy. That was alternating with military rule, which also sort of stressed intervention in the economy. The political liberalization that started following at the end of the Cold War pushed Argentina into more of a free market direction with some economic success. At the same time, there’s a very strong political culture in the country of state intervention. And one of the reasons that Macri, the former president, had his challenges is he was trying to liberalize the economy, but he didn’t as much. So in many ways they got all the negative outcomes of state intervention, but they didn’t get the positive benefits that would have come from deregulation of the economy. So, people felt like they were repudiated by their outcome. So, Argentina in many ways is going back to the political norm, which is a stronger, sort of center-left state intervention. And some of those very policies are what got Argentina where it is in the first place.

REICHARD: Other major players in South America—Chile, Bolivia, and Brazil—are trending in the other direction, politically speaking. How will Argentina’s return to leftist policies affect relationships with these other countries?

LLOYD: Yes. In Latin America, there are two trends going on. There’s been sort of the center-right governments and there’s the center-left governments. And they switch around from time to time, say, in places like Brazil or Argentina, Chile. So, working as a whole, it’s made it a challenge, for instance, for Latin Americans and for the United States involvement in the Organization of American States, to forge sort of common policies. There’s something called the Washington consensus, which is a set of policy prescriptions for trade, free trade, open markets, and that’s faced some opposition when you have these leftist-center governments that come in and are skeptical of basically neo-liberal economic and political policies.

REICHARD: One of the biggest conflicts in South America right now, as you know, is in Venezuela. Nicolas Maduro is a socialist strongman who remains in power despite efforts to remove him. Will Argentina’s new regime have any effect on that situation?

LLOYD: The incoming government, one would expect it to be generally more sympathetic to Maduro and Venezuela and a little more of a challenge to develop Latin American, North American responses to how to deal with the ongoing crisis there, which is continuing. 

REICHARD:  Let’s talk about Argentina and the United States. How do you think American policy toward that region will change given this new dynamic with new President Fernandez?

LLOYD: The primary interest of the United States with Argentina has always been to have good relationships with the country. The challenge will be the United States will continue to favor freer markets, political liberalization. At the same time, the United States—both on the political left and the political right—itself is going through a populous stage of history right now with both the Democratic and Republican parties being more trade protectionist than before in favoring stronger state intervention. So, it’s kind of an interesting twist on the past. When that Washington Consensus, which came out of Washington—which was free trade, neo-liberal policies—now there’s some similarity in terms of some of the rhetoric, at least, in this country and in Argentina.

REICHARD: Professor Robert Lloyd teaches political science and global development at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Thanks for coming on the program!

LLOYD: You’re welcome.

NICK EICHER: You often hear that every vote counts, and sometimes you see vivid proof.

Take the recent City Council election in Boston.

One council seat wound up with only an eight vote difference between Julia Mejia and closest rival Alejandra St. Guillen. 

Of course, with just eight votes separating the candidates, that triggered a recount. 

And after three days of recounting and nail-biting, the margin didn’t get any better. It actually shrank. 

The final tally: Mejia 22,492 votes—St. Guillen, 22,491

So out of something like 67,000 ballots cast, a single vote decided the election!

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Thursday, December 12th. 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.

Long ago, some musicians and composers worked exclusively for the courts of wealthy European nobles. Their homes served as venues for private concerts. Those performances eventually left the home for public concert halls. The element of aristocracy followed them.

EICHER: But the home concert has never gone out of vogue. The performances invite neighbor, stranger, and musician to pull up a chair and share a music-filled evening.

WORLD correspondent Bonnie Pritchett attended one such concert just outside Houston, Texas.

BONNIE PRITCHETT, REPORTER: After the musicians take their final bow, concert goers collect their programs, coats and purses and begin sidling their way along the row of seats to the aisle. The patrons politely merge and make a bee line, not for the exit, but for the dining room table. There, concert hosts Kathy and Charlie Parks have laid a spread of simple desserts, cheeses, and fruit.

Warmed by hot cider and pleasant conversation, the gathering strikes the perfect chord to close off an early November house concert in a Cypress, Texas neighborhood.

KATHY PARKS: When we had the first concert, the sound was so amazing. It was like an experience I’ve never had. And I’ve been to hundreds of concerts…

That’s Kathy Parks. And since that first concert she and her husband have hosted three more. Tonight’s concert features a trio called “Aurora.” The professional Houston-area musicians include flutist Allison Vitek, cellist Katie Beth Farrell, and harpist Susanna Campbell.

A wall of white shuttered windows serves as the stage backdrop. The living room sofas and three rows of folding chairs accommodate almost 40 audience members. Some are the musicians’ friends or family. Others are strangers. But Kathy Parks is delighted to share an evening of music with them all.

And as Kathy Parks likes to say, there are no bad seats at a house concert.

PARKS: Whenever I tell somebody that I’m having a concert here, they’re totally shocked. And I like that. Because I think, guess what, you can do this…

House concerts have gained popularity in the last 20 years or so and cost homeowners little to nothing. Websites facilitate the pairing of host and musician. Invitations arrive by social media or word of mouth. Admission is usually by donation or a small ticket price. The hosts give the money directly to the musicians.

Often refreshments or a pot-luck meal encourage guests to linger after the concert.

Being part of a centuries-old practice intrigues Farrell, the cellist.

FARRELL: House concerts are actually a very old tradition. They’ve been going on since the 1500s that we know of. The modern concert hall, that’s actually a more novel concept as in its only about 200 years old.

Farrell is grateful for the wealthy patronage that financed the work of Bach and Haydn. But she believes there is a false perception that only the well-to-do attend concert hall performances. And she worries this could keep some people from enjoying a variety of live music.

FARRELL: It’s a little intimidating. You have to go buy a ticket. You have to dress up. You have to go to Jones Hall… Whereas, if you’re just showing up to a house concert…your next-door neighbor could be there. It could also be one of the wealthiest people from Houston…”

Another venue where the trio has frequently performed is the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, surrounded by great masterpieces. But the group says that performing in someone’s home–surrounded by family photos and the living room furniture—adds a “warmth” to the experience unlike any other venue.

High ceilings in the Parks’ home provide wonderful acoustics for the music – as did the palaces of sixteenth-century aristocrats. But no castle or vaulted ceilings are required in order to share good music with friends and strangers.

Kathy Parks gladly takes any opportunity to bring music into her home. Guests attending the first concert she hosted appreciated the fact that she did.

PARKS: You know, nobody wanted to leave after it was over. But people wanted to get to know, talk to the musicians and to get to know them and talk to their friends. So, we had these people from different walks of life from here in Cypress just meeting all together and getting to know each other on this common ground which I thought was kind of neat.

For the musicians there is a practicality to performing in a home. Renting concert space is expensive. Advertising the event—and hoping people will attend—adds an element of stress. And concert hall engagements often require the musicians forgo introducing their audiences to more than the works of great composers.

FARRELL: Most people have not seen a harp up close before. Ever. [Remove abrupt chuckle] And some people have never seen the three instruments together. They’ve never seen flute, cello, harp together. So, a lot of people are definitely very fascinated by that…

Farrell calls the concert hall stage and lights “elements of separation.” Strip those away, place the musicians and audience in someone’s living room and the evening becomes about more than a mutual appreciation of music.

FARRELL: I always enjoy watching people perform who really love what they do. And so, I think, usually, my focus is, I want people to know that I enjoy playing and to be inspired by that. And I try to remind myself: I am doing what I love doing. Maybe I’ve had a long day. Maybe certain things have not gone the way I wanted them to but at the end of the day I have to remember, you know, that this is a gift that I have and I don’t want to take that for granted.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Bonnie Pritchett reporting from a living room in Cypress, Texas.

MARY REICHARD: Today is Thursday, December 12th. Good morning to you! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Extremist forms of Islam must be squarely faced, says WORLD commentator Cal Thomas.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: If it walks like a duck, well, you know the rest.

Following a shooting attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola by a Saudi national, the FBI issued a statement. It said it presumes 21-year-old Mohammed Alshamrani carried out a terrorist attack.

Now what might have given them that idea?

If profiling were not politically incorrect, authorities might have done a deeper dive into Alshamrani’s background.

First, he was a Muslim from Saudi Arabia. That country produced 15 of the 9/11 hijackers. Saudi Arabia promotes the most radical form of Islam, known as Wahhabism. It is taught to children beginning in primary school. The new leadership in Saudi Arabia has pledged to clean up its textbooks, but they have failed to provide convincing evidence they are actually doing it.

Second, Alshamrani and several other Saudi students reportedly watched a video of mass shootings before Alshamrani committed his evil deed.

Third, he reportedly posted a manifesto on Twitter. In it he denounced America as a “nation of evil” that is responsible for killing Muslims. And I’m shocked—shocked!—to know he also denounced Israel.

Any one of these should have raised concerns and prompted an investigation.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and members of Congress have rightly called for a review of vetting procedures for foreign nationals at American training facilities, but it will take more than that. After making the requisite statement that not all Muslims are terrorists, let me add that terrorist motivations require a more serious combat strategy for the protection of innocents.

The U.K. has had a program for some time designed to “de-radicalize” people arrested on terrorism charges. The problem with that, as terrorist expert Steve Emerson writes, is —quote—“Of the 400-plus Islamic terrorists released in recent years, nearly 70 percent refused to take part in any de-radicalization program while incarcerated.”

Emerson notes that the recent example of Usman Khan, who was on supervised early release from prison when he killed two people and wounded several others last month near London Bridge.

President Trump says the Saudi government has promised to compensate relatives of the dead and those who were wounded in the attack, but that’s not enough either. Yes, Saudi Arabia is an important ally in its opposition to the Iranian regime, but it has yet to be held accountable for the murder of Saudi businessman and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi—by Saudi agents at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Unless Saudi Arabia has a conversion moment that credibly repudiates the extreme wing of Islam it has practiced and taught for decades, one has a right—even a duty—to question its sincerity in the matter of the Pensacola killer.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow, Culture Friday. We’ll talk more about the so-called Fairness for All bill in Congress.

And, Megan Basham will have a review of a  new film about the man falsely accused of bombing the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

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.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, and it is not proud. 

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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