MARY REICHARD, HOST: Merry Christmas Eve!
Today we continue our week of special Christmas programs. We’ll have more of your Christmas memories to warm your hearts.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And we’ll remember more notable people who died in 2019.
EMAN: That is such a consolation. Whatever happens, God is always with us.
And we’ll end with a Christmas hymn…
REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, December 24th. 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 with Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Majority leader not ruling out witnesses in Senate trial » Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that he hasn’t ruled out calling witnesses in the Senate’s impeachment trial.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer continues to call for new documents and testimony.
SCHUMER: What is a trial with no witnesses and no documents? It’s a sham trial. And that’s why we feel so strongly that there ought to be witnesses and documents.
McConnell said he just wants to see the chamber handle proceedings the same way it approached former President Bill Clinton’s trial.
MCCONNELL: What we need to do is to listen to the arguments, have a written questioning period, and then decide whether we need witnesses or not.
He said all 100 Senators, including Schumer, backed that approach in 1999. Schumer insists the circumstances are very different.
Democrats are also calling for scrutiny of newly revealed internal emails from the White House budget office. A non-profit group obtained the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request.
In one email, dated July 25th, senior budget official Michael Duffey told the Pentagon to hold military aid to Ukraine. That email came just hours after President Trump’s controversial phone call with the president of Ukraine.
The Office of Management and Budget says any suggestions that the delay of aid to Ukraine was anything more than procedural are “misleading and inaccurate.”
U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan » An American service member was killed in combat Monday in Afghanistan. The Pentagon did not provide details.
But the Taliban quickly claimed responsibility. The group said a roadside bomb in northern Kunduz province killed the U.S. soldier.
That brings the number of U.S. deaths in Afghanistan this year to 20. There have also been three non-combat deaths in 2019.
The Taliban continues to stage near-daily attacks targeting Afghan and U.S. forces—even as its leaders hold peace talks with a U.S. envoy.
Boeing CEO resigns amid crisis » Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg resigned Monday amid the ongoing crisis that engulfed the Max 737 jetliner. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The company’s board said a change in leadership was needed to restore confidence in Boeing.
The Federal Aviation Administration grounded the 737 Max after two deadly crashes involving the jets. And it’s still unclear when the FAA will clear the jets to fly again.
Last week, Boeing announced it is suspending production of the Max in January. And Boeing suffered another stinging setback over the weekend. Its Starliner space capsule went off course during a bungled, unmanned test flight to the International Space Station.
Muilenburg will depart immediately and the board’s current chairman, David Calhoun, will take over as CEO next month.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Saudi court sentences 5 to death for Khashoggi slaying » A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced five people to death Monday for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Riyadh’s criminal court also found three other people guilty of covering up the crime and sentenced them to a combined 24 years in prison. That according to a statement from the Saudi attorney general’s office. The office did not release the names of those found guilty.
A government spokesman said the trial concluded the killing was not premeditated. That finding is in line with the Saudi government’s official position.
But many believe the evidence contradicts that explanation—including the United Nations secretary general. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters…
DUJARRIC: The secretary general continues to stress the need for an independent and impartial investigation into the murder, to ensure full examination of and accountability for human rights violations committed in the case.
Questions linger outside Riyadh about the Saudi crown prince. The CIA concluded last year that Mohammed bin Salman likely ordered Khashoggi’s murder. Jamal Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist and frequent critic of the Saudi royal family.
His fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, told the Associated Press the Saudi court’s “decision is too unlawful to be acceptable.”
Death toll climbs amid India protests » The death toll continues to climb in India amid protests over a new citizenship law. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has that story.
ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Police now say at least 23 people have died—including nine deaths over the weekend in the state of Uttar Pradesh after protesters clashed with police.
Some died of bullet wounds but a government spokesman denied police were responsible. He said officers—quote—“have used only tear gas to scare away the agitating mob.”
The Indian government has tried unsuccessfully to silence the protests. Authorities shut down the internet and other communications in some places. It has also banned public demonstrations over the law. But that hasn’t stopped protesters.
The controversial immigration law allows Hindus, Christians and other religious minorities who are in India illegally to become citizens. That is if they can show they were persecuted because of their religion in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It does not apply to Muslims.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen.
COVINGTON: I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: notable deaths from religion, music, and sports. Plus, your Christmas memories.
This is The World and Everything in It.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Pastor and writer Warren Wiersbe became a Christian in high school after he heard a young Billy Graham preach.
Wiersbe went on to lead several Bible ministries but his greatest passion was studying, writing and preaching about the Bible. Some of his most famous books are the Biblical commentaries called the BE series and church history books, Listening to the Giants and Walking with the Giants.
Here’s Wiersbe in a 2018 interview.
WIERSBE: I’m not an athlete, I’m not a mechanic. I can’t do so many of the things that successful men can do. But I can read and study and think and teach.
Warren Wiersbe died in May, just shy of his 90th birthday.
Next, Denny Rydberg, the longest serving president of Young Life. He led the youth ministry for 23 years, stepping down in 2016.
During his tenure, Young Life expanded from 25 countries to just over 100. In a 2013 interview, Rydberg said he avoided ministry burnout by recognizing that growth and change takes time.
RYDBERG: You have to remember this is a marathon not a sprint. If you think you’re going to accomplish everything in the first year or the second year, you are in for a rude awakening.
Denny Rydberg died in May. He was 74.
MUSIC: [Music from The Hiding Place]
Now, we remember Dutch Christian Diet Eman. Eman was 20 when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands. She and her boyfriend soon joined a Resistance group and began hiding Jews.
In 1942, the Gestapo raided a Jewish safehouse and found a diary with Eman’s identity. She went on the run for two years. Here she is talking about the experience in 2012.
EMAN: I always feel like David. Remember he had to flee from Saul. I had to flee from the Gestapo.
In 1944, Eman was caught, imprisoned, and released three months later. In 1945, she learned her fiance had been killed at Dachau. Diet Eman emigrated to the United States and kept silent about her work until she heard another Dutch Christian speak: Corrie Ten Boom.
In 1998, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel gave Deit Eman the title, Righteous Among the Nations. She said her faith was her courage.
EMAN: That is such a consolation. Whatever happens, God is always with us.
She died in September at age 99.
Next: notable deaths in music. First, international opera star, Jessye Norman. She died in September at age 74.
Norman grew up singing in church and made her stage debut in Berlin in 1969. And she quickly became one of the first black singers to achieve worldwide opera acclaim.
She sang classic works like Carmen but also broke out into Jazz and Spirituals.
At age 52, Norman became the youngest person ever to earn the Kennedy Center Honor. Former President Barack Obama also honored her with the National Medal of Arts. Her later work focused on raising money to help under-privileged children study music.
Now to a very different type of music.
Rocker Eddie Money had nearly a dozen Top 40 songs in the 70s and 80s. His hits included songs like “Shakin” and “Two Tickets to Paradise.”
MUSIC: Two tickets to paradise. Pack your bags, we’ll leave tonight. Two tickets to paradise.
His first album, Eddie Money, went double-platinum. He then became the first rockstar to overdose on fentanyl. He survived and made a comeback with his 1982 platinum album No Control.
MUSIC: I got no control…no control.
Money’s loyal fans kept him busy doing reboot tours for the rest of his life. He died in September at age 70.
Next, to sports. First up, Hall of Fame baseball player Frank Robinson.
In 1956, the National League named a 20-year-old Robinson, Rookie of the Year. He went on to become a 14-time All-Star. In 1966, he led the Baltimore Orioles to a World Series victory and was named World Series MVP. Four years later, Robinson and the Orioles won another World Series.
AUDIO: Baltimore is the world champs!
Frank Robinson was also the first player in major league history to win MVP in both the American and National Leagues.
After 21 seasons as a player, Robinson became the first African American to manage a Major League Baseball team. He went on to manage more than 2-thousand games. In 1989, he earned League Manager of the Year. In a 2015 interview, Robinson said he wanted to manage because he didn’t want to leave the game.
ROBINSON: The closest thing to being a player is managing a baseball club. I prepared myself to where I would be ready if the opportunity came along.
Frank Robinson died in February at age 83.
Next, an Emmy-winning sportscaster. Jack Whitacker announced Super Bowls, golf championships, Olympic games, and Secretariat’s Triple Crown victory at the Belmont Stakes.
WHITAKER: I’m Jack Whitaker and welcome to the 105th running of the Belmont Stakes.
He earned fame not just as a sports announcer but as a scholarly observer of events.
WHITAKER: I think the real winner aside from him has been the Olympic course which brought out the best in these players. We saw shot making this week that was absolutely superb.
However, his choice of words at the 1966 Masters got him banned from coverage for six years. He called the gallery of viewers a “mob,” an offensive term to organizers. Jack Whitaker was 95 when he died in August.
Now, for the man who turned snowboarding into a global sport: Jake Burton Carpenter. He died in November at age 65.
Growing up, Carpenter’s parents took him on frequent ski trips. After college, he moved to Vermont and, in 1977, started his iconic company, Burton Snowboards.
Carpenter changed the snow board’s design from what looked like a water ski to today’s shorter and rounder board with bindings.
As his company grew, Carpenter pushed ski resorts to open their slopes to snowboarders. Carpenter’s continued advocacy for the sport turned it into a global phenomenon. And in 19-98, snowboarding became an Olympic sport.
AUDIO: Shaun White takes gold in PyeongChang!
Finally, we remember Peter Frates, the former college baseball player who helped inspire the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
FRATES: For those who don’t know me, my name is Pete Frates, I’m 27, and I was recently diagnosed with ALS.
Frates didn’t start the challenge but when his family got involved it exploded on social media. In 2014, videos of people and celebrities dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads and challenging others to follow suit went viral.
ZUCKERBERG: I’m going to challenge Bill Gates, my partner at Facebook, Sharyl Sandberg and Netflix’s founder and CEO, Reed Hastings.
According to the ALS Association, the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised more than 200-million dollars worldwide for research into what is often called Lou Gherig’s Disease. It’s also helped raise awareness for other diseases. Frates was 34 when he died this month.
Now we remember notable deaths in science. Austrian-born Liane Russell was a pioneering geneticist who studied the effects of radiation on unborn children.
Russell took a job at a U.S. nuclear lab where she studied the effects of radiation on gestational mice. She noticed radiation caused foot and tail deformities.
So, in 1952, Rusell and her husband, also a geneticist, published findings that pregnant women, or women who might be pregnant, shouldn’t receive any radiation procedures like X-rays. The research was controversial, but, in a 2018 interview, Russell said it was soon accepted.
RUSSELL: So that became pretty well known in medical practice. It’s still being used as far as I know.
Liane Russell’s research also led to the discovery of the male Y-chromosome. She died in August at age 95.
Next, the founder of modern particle physics, Murray Gell-Mann, who proposed the theory of quarks. The theory said that subatomic particles, like protons and neutrons, are themselves made up of smaller particles called quarks. Gell-Man received the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery.
Later, he also discovered gluons, the particles that hold quarks together. In a 2007 TED Talk, Gell-Mann said he was successful because he looked for beauty.
GELL-MANN: When the mathematics is very simple, when in terms of some mathematical notation you can write it very simply, in a very brief space, that’s essentially what we mean by beauty or elegance.
Gell-Mann was 89 when he died in May.
MUSIC: [Chinese music]
And finally, we remember Shuping Wang, who exposed an HIV scandal in China. She died in September at age 59.
In 1995, Wang began working at a blood and plasma collection clinic in Central China. There, she discovered a donor with HIV who had already sold blood in four different areas.
Officials told Wang testing donors for HIV was too costly. So she bought her own test kits and found nearly 15 percent of donors had HIV. In 1996, the Chinese government finally added HIV testing at collection sites.
In 2001, Chinese officials admitted its blood banks had caused an AIDS crisis in Central China. More than half a million people there were infected.
Wang moved to the United States, but Chinese officials didn’t forget her. She reported that earlier this year, Chinese officers made threatening visits to her family members and former colleagues. The government was trying to pressure Wang to call off a play written about the HIV scandal. But the play still opened in London this fall.
MUSIC: [Music from the play’s trailer]
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.
NICK EICHER: Remember that banana an Italian artist duct taped to a wall and called it art?
Well, a couple that paid $120,000 for it say they do not have buyer’s remorse.
Maurizio Cattelan’s agricultural masterpiece is titled “Comedian.” And buyers, Billy and Beatrice Cox said—quote—”We are acutely aware of the blatant absurdity of the fact that ‘Comedian’ is an otherwise inexpensive and perishable piece of produce and a couple [of] inches of duct tape.”
But the Coxes said, “Ultimately, we sense that Cattelan’s banana will become an iconic historical object.” And they plan to donate it to an art museum.
A wiseguy pulled the original banana off the wall and ate, calling that “performance art.” But the Cox’s acknowledged, the banana will have to be frequently replaced anyway.
The duct taped banana has been parodied endlessly online. The Tampa, Florida Police Department recently auctioned a chocolate glazed donut duct taped to a whiteboard. The opening bid was $10. But that wasn’t enough. The department set a bidding reserve of $200,000 for the work!
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: Today is Tuesday, December 24th. It’s Christmas Eve and we’re so glad you’ve joined us for The World and Everything in It. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next, your Christmas memories. It’s really warmed our hearts to hear these stories, and that you took the time to send them in means a lot to us. Thank you for that!
Today’s memory comes from listener Paul Gebel. He and his wife, Noelle, live in Columbia, South Carolina.
GEBEL: Our third child, Julia, was born December 20th, 1990, in Colorado Springs. Doctors quickly discovered that she was born with a severely damaged heart. So the next morning, an ambulance transferred her to Denver’s Children’s Hospital. Noelle and I and our other two children drove up to be with her.
After the surgery, one of many that Julia would have, I took Noelle and the kids out to dinner in Denver before heading home. Because it was the Christmas season, the restaurant had hired a young man to dress as Santa Clause and interact with the customers. Santa came to our table and asked where we were from and what we were doing in Denver.
I told him about Julia’s surgery and how the day had gone. It was probably not what he expected to hear. But Santa pulled up a chair, sat down, and looked right in my eyes.
“I just became a Christian a little while ago,” he said. “So I don’t know a lot about all this. But God is going to take care of you and your daughter.”
My first thought was, God, thank you! Even Santa is pulling for us!
Julia was with us for two years and eight months before going home to Jesus. And Noelle and I will always remember her first Christmas in Colorado.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Tuesday, December 24th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s Christmas eve! Our closing musical selection today is from the 2018 Baylor Christmas Program. The piece is a popular English hymn known best by the first line of it’s lyric: “On Christmas night all Christians sing.”
REICHARD: It’s actual published title is: “The Sussex Carol” as that’s where hymn editor and collector Ralph Vaughan Williams first heard it sung. Here are the combined Baylor University Choirs with Brett Stewart’s arrangement of the hymn.
NICK EICHER: On tomorrow’s program: The WORLD Radio staff got together to share some of our reflections on Christmas. We’ll share those with you
And, we’ll listen to a few more of your Christmas memories.
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 angel said to Mary, “For no word from God will ever fail.” And Mary answered, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”
And to you I say, Merry Christmas Eve!