The World and Everything in It — January 13, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

The Supreme Court hears a dispute that pits the rights of landowners against the EPA over contaminated property.

PALMORE: They’re saying that my clients in Opportunity, Montana, have to get permission from EPA in Washington if they want to dig out part of their backyard to put in a sandbox for their grandchildren.

NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Legal Docket. 

Also today, the Monday Moneybeat: we close the book on 2019, the final jobs report, and it gives us another year of 2 million-plus new jobs.

Plus the WORLD Radio History Book. Today, President Bill Clinton awards a soldier the Medal of Honor, 103 years after the battle.

CLINTON: We are profoundly grateful as Americans for this remarkable family. And I am honored that I had the chance before I left office to correct what I think is a significant historical error.

And Trillia Newbell on those new year resolutions.

REICHARD: It’s Monday, January 13th. 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 news. Here’s Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Demonstrators flood streets of Tehran after Iran government admits to shooting down passenger jet » Demonstrators flooded the streets of Tehran on Sunday after Iran’s government admitted to mistakenly shooting down a commercial airliner last week.

AUDIO: [Sound of Iran protest]

Many protesters called on senior leaders to resign, calling them liars. For days, the government denied that its own missiles brought down the passenger jet. But on Saturday, the Iranian military admitted that an officer mistook it for an enemy missile and gave the order to shoot it down.  

All 176 people aboard the jet died in the crash—including 82 Iranians. 

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CBS’ Face the Nation that the United States stands with the Iranian people

ESPER: They want prosperity. They want the ability to live their lives, to raise their children. We do support those same aspirations for people wherever they are. I just think you see a very corrupt regime that the Iranian people are finally standing up and trying to hold them accountable.  

President Trump tweeted his support for the protesters on Sunday, and added—quote—“To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching.”

Pelosi to seek vote on appointing impeachment managers » House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’s ready to set a vote to appoint impeachment managers and send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Pelosi told ABC’s This Week…

PELOSI: We have confidence in our case, that it is impeachable, and this president is impeached for life, regardless of any gamesmanship on the part of Mitch McConnell. 

She’s held onto the charges for several weeks, hoping to give Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer some leverage in shaping the Senate rules for the trial.

But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week that he has enough votes from Republicans to pass a rules package without Democratic support.

Texas governor to reject new refugees » Texas Governor Greg Abbott says his state will no longer accept the resettlement of new refugees. The governor officially announced the decision on Friday. It could have major implications for refugees coming to the United States. 

According to the UN, Texas took in more refugees than any other state during the 2018 governmental fiscal year. And the Pew Research Center says that since 2002, Texas has resettled an estimated 88,000 refugees, second only to California.

Abbott said Texas—his words—“has been left by Congress to deal with disproportionate migration issues resulting from a broken federal immigration system.” He added that Texas has done “more than its share.”

President Trump announced in September that resettlement agencies must get written consent from state and local officials in any jurisdiction where they want to help resettle refugees beyond June 2020. 

The White House has already slashed the number of refugees allowed into the country for the 2020 fiscal year to a historic low of 18,000. 

Severe storms kill 11 in Midwest, South » Severe storms ripped through parts of the South and the Midwest over the weekend—killing 11 people. 

Liz Leitman with the National Weather Service…

LEITMAN: They’ve produced damaging winds, anywhere from 50 to 70 mile per hour gusts. And then we’ve probably had about a dozen or so tornado reports. 

The storms knocked out power to thousands, overturned train cars, uprooted trees, and damaged or destroyed hundreds of buildings. 

One tornado packing winds of at least 134 mph hit Alabama’s Pickens County on Saturday, killing three people. 

And in Louisiana, officials are blaming high winds for five deaths.

Australia fire crews go on offense amid break in weather » Crews battling Australia’s wildfires said Sunday that they have been able to turn from defense to offense for the first time in weeks. That’s thanks to a break in the weather. 

New South Wales State Rural Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons…

FITZSIMMONS: We really want to take advantage of the more mild conditions that are before us over the next five to seven days, to see if we can get as much consolidated and as much contained as we can before we see a return to warmer conditions. 

A fire crew in New South Wales bulldozed small trees and burned scrub over the weekend ahead of the fire’s projected path. They’re hoping to starve the fire of brittle fuel before it reaches a major highway. 

The fires have now scorched an area larger than the state of Indiana—killing 27 people and destroying more than 2,000 homes. 

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: a dispute over cleaning up industrial pollution.

Plus, Trillia Newbell considers New Year’s resolutions.

This is The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: It’s Monday morning and time to get back to work this 13th of January, 2020. Good morning to you, I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. The Supreme Court is back from break and has oral arguments on the schedule for this week. Today we’ll do some more catching up on arguments from December. 

Up first: industrial pollution, and who’s responsible for cleanup.

It’s expensive work. At an old copper smelter site in the tiny town of Opportunity, Montana, cleanup expenses are approaching half a billion dollars—that’s billion with a b. Half a billion so far.

Under the federal Superfund law approved back in 1980, taxpayers and the party responsible for the contamination have to foot the bill. Superfund gives EPA the power to direct cleanup of contaminated sites. The question now is whether affected landowners can sue under state law to obtain additional funding.

EICHER: Here’s some background. 

At its height, the Anaconda Copper Mining Company was the fourth-largest company in America, and was the dominant player in Montana’s economy—employing three-fourths of the state workforce.

But Anaconda took a big hit in the 1970s during the energy crisis and the low-growth, high-inflation economy. Anaconda sold to Atlantic Richfield, on the hope the industry would turn around. 

It didn’t. 

The smelter closed in 1980, the same year the Superfund law passed. The company left 300 square miles around the smelter site contaminated with arsenic and lead. EPA put it on the list of sites to clean up.

For nearly 40 years the EPA and the site’s current corporate owner worked to restore the land.

REICHARD: But about 100 homeowners in the area say the job remains undone. Heavy metals remain in the soil and water. They fear for their health.

So they sued the company for funds to complete the restoration of their properties themselves. And the Montana Supreme Court ruled the landowners could pursue up to $58 million in additional claims.

That puts Atlantic Richfield on the hook for even more money. Its lawyer, Lisa Blatt, argues that puts her client in an impossible position: setting up the landowners’ plans against those of the EPA.

BLATT: All of the pillars of their plan violate EPA’s order … . Now Atlantic Richfield cannot carry out that plan without massive fines and violating law. In the order, it says undertaking any action without EPA’s approval violates the order.

Not only that, but messing around with that property could disturb soil that EPA has determined should remain undisturbed. That invites more trouble if landowners are allowed to go outside EPA and undo its plan. 

But the landowners’ lawyer, Joseph Palmore, calls that an overstatement of facts on the ground. 

PALMORE: The vast majority of my clients have had zero work done on their land. And if you put all their land together, the work has been done on only 5 percent, okay? So, on 95 percent of the land, literally nothing has been done. So there’s no undoing there.

Some justices looked for a simple way through this. For example, just have the landowners ask permission from EPA before doing anything to remediate their property. 

It was tough going for Palmore, lawyer for the landowners. Listen to this exchange with Chief Justice John Roberts.

PALMORE: They’re saying that my clients in Opportunity, Montana, have to get permission from EPA in Washington if they want to dig out part of their backyard to put in a sandbox for their grandchildren and —

ROBERTS: … you can say dig out part of their backyard. EPA would say if you want to disturb arsenic-infected land, dirt in a way that would not only harm your neighbors but could harm people many — many miles away. I mean, yes, you want to just do things on your land, but you can’t overlook the fact that that is going to have harmful effects on everybody else around you.

I think there’s a good chance this one will be remanded to lower court. For one thing, EPA says its cleanup plan won’t be finished until 2025. It makes some sense to let that play out before letting the landowners’ case proceed, although landowners are frustrated by the long wait. But the law has no deadline in it. 

The United States has more than a thousand Superfund sites. The court’s decision here could reshape the contours of individual, state, and federal cleanup efforts for years to come.

This next case is another ERISA dispute, one of three that the Supreme Court hears this term. That tells you something about the confusion that is that law. 

ERISA is an acronym that stands for Employee Retirement Income Security Act. It governs private company retirement plans.

Here, a former employee of Intel Corporation sues under ERISA because he thinks the retirement fund was managed poorly. 

The legal question involves the time within which such a lawsuit must be brought or be barred from bringing the case at all.  It’s either six years or three years, depending upon when you have “actual knowledge” something’s gone awry.

Now ask yourself: all that mail—physical and electronic—that you receive about your investments, doesn’t it frequently just end up in the trash, unread?

If so, you’re just like a certain justice of the Supreme Court. This is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

GINSBURG: And it’s hard to read the word “actual” to mean something other than yes, I, in fact, know. And…there are many people who don’t read these mailings. I must say I don’t read all the mailings that I get about my investments.  (Laughter.)

Intel argues it’s following ERISA’s requirement that companies send out disclosures about its investments. But it can’t be faulted if people don’t actually read them.

The important phrase here is “actual knowledge,” and it isn’t defined in the law, hence the dispute.

You can imagine that some people will claim they didn’t read the disclosures, and therefore have no “actual knowledge,” just to gain more time in which to sue. 

Congress could clear this up in an instant with a uniform time limitation. 

Meanwhile, the justices will have to choose between the plain text of the law and what most district courts have decided—and that favors the employee who didn’t read his mail.

This next case involves horrendous crimes by a man who had a horrendous childhood. Unspeakable abuse. And I’ll spare you the details. 

James McKinney dropped out of school in 7th grade. In 1991, when he was 23, he murdered two people in Arizona. A jury found him guilty. The penalty phase involved a separate hearing before a judge, who sentenced McKinney to death. Years have passed since that sentence in 1993, with many many trips to court. 

You can hear the gist of McKinney’s petition to the Supreme Court in this, from his lawyer, Neil Katyal:

KATYAL: The State seeks to put James McKinney to death even though he’s never once had a sentencing proceeding that complies with current law…. We’re not talking about some technical violation here or something. We’re talking about the heart of what capital punishment sentencing is all about, the weighing of mitigating and aggravating circumstances.

Katyal said current law. That’s key. 

The law in Arizona at the time of McKinney’s sentencing was different. 

The judge permitted McKinney to show evidence of his abusive childhood. But that would not mitigate or lessen his sentence unless it established a causal connection from the abusive childhood to the murders. 

In this case, the judge found no connection between McKinney’s diagnosis of PTSD and the crimes he committed, so no mitigation figured into his sentence.

A few years later, the U.S. Supreme Court found Arizona’s sentencing procedure unconstitutional, in a case called Ring v Arizona. But it wasn’t applied retroactively to cases like McKinney’s.

This case was reopened by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014. 

But the question now is whether the Arizona Supreme Court is required to apply current law about mitigating evidence in old death penalty cases.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh didn’t seem to think so.

KAVANAUGH: You are requiring a new jury sentencing 28 years after the murders and after the victims’ families have been through this for three decades…. Why go back to a jury re-sentencing 28 years later?

Nor did Justice Samuel Alito.

ALITO: What you really want is another shot at convincing a jury …You want… effectively a retroactive application of Ring and your real beef is …with the actual sentence that the jury decided to impose.

KATYAL: I couldn’t disagree more profoundly with that.

The justices grappled with what kind of new sentencing McKinney was entitled to—a review of the case on the record before it, on paper alone? 

Or a completely new rehearing with experts and witnesses and a jury? That’s what McKinney seeks.

The conservative leaning justices were more sympathetic to the arguments of Arizona’s lawyer: that what McKinney really wants is a sort of windfall, a double crack at a case that should be closed. 

The liberal leaning justices seemed to favor McKinney. Katyal, again his lawyer, ended with this:

KATYAL: Why is an aggravating circumstance different than a mitigating one? Because mitigating ones go to mercy in which this court in Caldwell has said that’s the thing in which you need the trial court to see up front and personal as opposed to on a cold record.

The bench sounded quite split on this case. It’s possible the justices could agree to give McKinney a new sentencing hearing. And they could limit it to only a judge to assess mitigating factors like childhood abuse, and not convene another jury.

This last case I’ll keep short. It’s quite technical.

A man convicted of assault received a sentence of 30 years in prison. He filed various paperwork to have his case reconsidered. Courts denied his attempts. One reason was for filing too late. But he argued that particular late filing could be recharacterized as something that has a longer time in which to sue.

From my reading of the case, I’ll just say, it’s the sort of dispute that might make you glad you’re not a Supreme Court justice. But if it’s your case, you have to be glad there’s a Supreme Court to hear it.

And that’s this week’s Legal Docket!

MARY REICHARD: Coming next on The World and Everything in It, the Monday Moneybeat.

NICK EICHER: With the December jobs report, we can now close the books on a perfect decade of growth in jobs, net positive, each year, for 10 years, an average of 2.26 million jobs added annually. That’s a record and it points to a growing and dynamic economy heading into 2020. 

Here’s how the year 2019 went: American employers added 2.11 million new jobs, although that’s down from 2018’s red-hot year of 2.68 million added. 

For December, the 145,000 new jobs is about 10 percent fewer than economists predicted, but they were enough to hold the unemployment rate at its 50-year low of just 3.5 percent. And it adds to a 111-month streak of new jobs added. For the first time in 10 years, by the way, the number of women on payrolls surpassed men. 

Here’s another trend identified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which collects, calculates, and reports these figures. Income inequality among those over age 25 earning paychecks has gone down: During the Trump presidency so far, wages for the bottom 10 percent of workers rose almost 6 percent per year. Compare that to just 3 percent growth for the top 10 percent. 

The poverty rate for African Americans and Hispanics is now the lowest on record. Forty million fewer people last year lived in households receiving government assistance than in 2016. And the food-stamp rolls have shrunk by almost 10 million over the past three years.

REICHARD: On Wall Street, it was the first full week of trading since the holidays, and all the major indexes posted gains overall for the week. Twice last week, the Nasdaq set new record highs, Wednesday and Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrials and the Standard & Poor’s 500 reached record highs Thursday, but all the indexes retreated slightly before the market close on Friday.

EICHER: The White House announced President Trump will attend the World Economic Forum next week, January 21st and 22nd. He didn’t go last year because of the government shutdown. Speaking of the global economy, the World Bank issued its projections for economic growth in the year ahead. 

Worldwide, growth in 2020 is expected to mirror 2019, just a tenth of a percentage point better.

Advanced economies, it is believed, will grow just 1.4 percent, emerging economies 4.1. Specifically, the World Bank expects 1.8 percent growth for the United States and 1 percent for the Eurozone.

The better news is the bank’s economists expect a slight pickup in global trade this year.

And that is today’s Monday Moneybeat.

NICK EICHER: A woman from south Florida did something pretty amazing over the past year. How amazing? You ask. 

Well, here’s how amazing: doctors told her she had a better chance of winning the lottery than she had of doing what she did. 

Back in March 2019, Alexzandria Wolliston gave birth to twin boys, Malakhi and Mark.

That’s just the half of it.

Wolliston told television station WPTV she was counting her blessings, but she had more counting to do!

WOLLISTON: I never thought, like you know, I would have two.

Never thought she’d have two. Meaning, two sets of twins—four boys in all—in the same year!

Nine months after Malakhi and Mark were born, she gave birth to Kaylen and Kaleb, her second set of twins, on December 27th—just made the year-end deadline.

WOLLISTON: I feel like I hit the twin lottery!

“I come from a big family,” she said. “I knew I’d be able to handle it.”

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Monday, January 13th. You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we’re so glad you are! Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book.

Today, President Bill Clinton honors an American soldier, more than 100 years after the battle. Plus, an iconic building is completed despite plenty of obstacles to get it built.

EICHER: But first, Paul Butler introduces us to a modern American jazz pioneer.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: We begin today with January 17th, 1920, in New York City—the birthday of  composer and jazz pianist George Handy


Handy is best known for his “bebop” style that emerged in the 1940s. Its characterized by quick tempos, complex chord progressions, and lots of key changes. 


Bebop was different from the popular swing music of the era. Due to its fast tempo, tricky syncopation, and complicated melodies, it wasn’t good for dancing to. 

George Handy attended New York University and Juilliard. He studied under the great American composer Aaron Copland. Handy went on to play, arrange, and compose for Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, the Dorsey brothers, and many others. 


Handy is also known for his collaboration with saxophonist Zoot Sims in the 1950’s.

George Handy died just a few weeks before his birthday in 1997. He was 76 years old.

Next, January 15th, 1943. After just two years of construction, the U.S. Military dedicates one of the most recognizable buildings in America—the Pentagon.

DOCUMENTARY CLIP: The facing of the building is Indiana limestone.

Audio from a Joint Forces documentary.

DOCUMENTARY: The final design is five concentric buildings called rings with light-wells in between. Corridors on the corners allowed for diagonal routes from one part of the building to another…

The Pentagon cost $83 million to complete. At times, construction outpaced design. Due to steel shortages during World War II, the engineers built the Pentagon with reinforced concrete.

More than 23,000 people work in the Pentagon. It is the world’s largest office building, with nearly six and a half million square feet of space. If you were to walk every hallway in the structure, it would be a 17 mile hike. 

The Pentagon is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.

And finally, January 16th, 2001. President Bill Clinton awards a posthumous Medal of Honor.

CLINTON: The second Medal of Honor I award today is for the bravery of Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, on July 1, 1898. That was the day he led his volunteer troops, the Rough Riders, in taking San Juan Hill…

The ceremony takes place in the White House Roosevelt Room. Clinton jokes that this is the 37th Medal of Honor he’s presented during his two terms as president—but it’s the first time he’s done so in a recipient’s old office. 

CLINTON: TR was a larger-than-life figure, who gave our nation a larger- than-life vision of our place in the world. Part of that vision was formed on San Juan Hill. His Rough Riders were made up all kinds of Americans from all walks of life.  Twenty-two people won the Medal of Honor for actions that day. Two high-ranking military officers who had won the Medal of Honor in earlier wars and who saw Theodore Roosevelt’s bravery recommended him for the medal, too.

But the War Department never took action.

As President Clinton stands in front of a portrait of Teddy Roosevelt, Clinton says it’s time to make things right after 103 years. 

CLINTON: We are profoundly grateful as Americans for this remarkable family. And I am honored that I had the chance before I left office to correct what I think is a significant historical error. Here’s what he said, way back then:  “We know there are dangers ahead, as we know there are evils to fight and overcome. But stout of heart, we see across the dangers the great future that lies beyond, and we rejoice.” Let these words continue to guide as, as we go forth into a new century.  May we continue to live up to the ideals for which both Andrew Jackson Smith and Theodore Roosevelt risked their lives.

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.

MARY REICHARD: Today is Monday, January 13th. 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. Here’s WORLD commentator Trillia Newbell on the value of starting anew.

TRILLIA NEWBELL, COMMENTATOR: I have rarely ever done New Year’s resolutions. As a matter of fact, it would be safe to say I was a naysayer. I thought, Why bother if you are doomed to fail? 

A few years ago, I did decide to choose a word for the year. That’s something I heard people do. They choose a word that they hope to focus on—something that will mark their year.  

Now I can’t even remember what the word was—that’s how haphazardly I approached the process.

But over the past few years I’ve come to value the idea of starting afresh. I’ve been motivated to evaluate my work and life and consider how I can make adjustments. 

Perhaps it’s because I’m getting older. Or maybe I’m increasingly realizing that change is possible and fresh starts can be, well, refreshing.

But making a traditional list of resolutions has always seemed a bit daunting to me. With too many options to wade through, too many decisions to make in one year all at one time, I know I’ll give up before I even begin. 

That’s why I started looking for a different method. If I was going to join the crowd, I’d need to find a different approach!

This new approach came from reading something my friend and colleague Phillip Bethancourt shared on social media. He suggests focusing on these six categories: 1. Spiritual 2. Professional 3. Leadership 4. Technological 5. Marriage and 6. Family.

He advises reflection on each category. Then ask yourself: What’s one area I can focus on in each of these arenas? Easy. One goal, not a million. A few areas. I think that’s doable.

Maybe you’re thinking, that’s good for you but not for me. But remember, I wasn’t a fan either. 

Maybe you have been like me, hesitant to set goals or resolutions because you fear failure. Why bother? you tell yourself, I’m not going to complete my goals or keep my resolutions anyway. And perhaps that’s true.

But I’d like to also encourage you: Trying isn’t failing and failing doesn’t mean trying isn’t worthwhile.

Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father. Every task we complete is because of him. Anything we do that requires strength is only accomplished because our Lord has strengthened us for the task. That’s true whether we acknowledge it or not. And every “failure” is covered by grace. 

Should you start a task in January and realize come March that it’s been abandoned, you can pick up and start again or reevaluate and adjust your goals. And when it comes to growing in godliness, we will never arrive and we will always be adjusting. 

I’m starting the year knowing that I might not accomplish all that I hope for in 2020—and that’s okay. I’m confident that I will do all that God desires and designs for me to do this year. That I can know for certain. And the process of setting goals can be one way to help me see what God has done. 

For WORLD Radio, I’m Trillia Newbell.

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Both Democrats and Republicans say that working Americans ought to have paid family leave. They agree on the what, but not on the how. We’ll cover the debate.

Also, a plan to split the United Methodist Church is in the works. We’ll explain the details of that proposal.

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.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.

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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