The World and Everything in It — January 28, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

The World Trade Organization is short some judges after the White House tries to force change.  We’ll hear about why and what it means going forward.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Also President Trump signed a new executive order that upholds religious liberty in schools. We’ll talk about what that entails. 

Plus, Notable Speeches Past and Present. We’ll hear a pastor’s warning to Christians on common mistakes they make when dealing with politics.

FORSYTH: Through our lives, he brings about his purposes here on earth. It’s an incredible privilege to be used by the God of the universe. And yet at the same time we remember, you know, he’s still in control.

And WORLD commentator Kim Henderson on hard work and appreciation.

REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, January 28th. 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: Trump defense team blasts House Democrats, shrugs off Bolton report » President Trump’s defense team stuck to the plan on Monday in the Senate chamber, ripping the arguments of House impeachment managers. One member of that team, Ken Starr, told senators…

STARR: Has the House of Representatives, with all due respect, in these two articles of impeachment charged a crime or a violation of established law or not? 

White House lawyers shrugged off a media report based on a leaked excerpt from a forthcoming book by former national security adviser John Bolton. According to the New York Times, Bolton claimed President Trump said he wanted military aid to Ukraine withheld until it agreed to announce corruption investigations involving Democrats. 

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said the report changes nothing. 

SEKULOW: We deal with transcript evidence. We deal with publicly available information. We do not deal with speculation, allegations that are not based on evidentiary standards at all. 

President Trump on Monday refuted the report. He told reporters… 

TRUMP: Nothing was ever said to John Bolton, but I have not seen a manuscript. I guess he’s writing a book. I have not seen it. 

Trump set to announce Middle East peace proposal » The president heard there outside the White House alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders met on Monday to discuss a proposed Middle East peace plan. And President Trump said he plans to announce the details of the proposal today at 12 o’clock Eastern Time. 

TRUMP: It’s the closest it’s ever come, and we’ll see what happens. We have the support of the prime minister. We have the support of the other parties. And we think we’ll ultimately have the support of the Palestinians, but we’re going to see.

The president did concede that the Palestinians have already rejected the peace deal. But he said he expects that even as they publicly denounce the proposal, they’ll quietly be negotiating.  

The president will meet with Netanyahu again today. He’ll also discuss the peace plan today with the prime minister’s chief political rival, Benny Gantz. 

Supreme Court allows new green card rule » A divided Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Trump administration to put in place new rules that could affect permanent resident status for immigrants who use food stamps, Medicaid, and housing vouchers.

Under the new policy, immigration officials can deny green cards to legal immigrants over their use of public benefits.

The high court ruled 5-4 in the administration’s favor. The decision reversed a ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

Lawsuits against the rules will continue, but immigrants applying for permanent residency must now show they would not be a burden to the country.

U.S. military plane crashes in Afghanistan » An American military aircraft crashed in eastern Afghanistan on Monday. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen has more.

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER:The Pentagon said the downed plane appeared to be a Bombardier E-11A. That’s a U.S. Air Force electronic surveillance plane. 

Military officials could not say what caused the crash, but there were no immediate indications that enemy fire brought it down. 

A journalist in the area said he saw the burning aircraft. He told the Associated Press that he saw two bodies at the front of the aircraft, and that the front of the aircraft was badly burned, but the tail section was largely intact. His information could not be independently verified.

He added that the crash site was roughly 6 miles from a U.S. military base. And he said Taliban militants were combing the nearby village for two people they suspect may have survived the crash. The Taliban have total control over the area where the plane went down.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen. 

Officials search for remains from helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant » Coroner’s officials scoured a hillside outside Los Angeles on Monday—working to recover victims of a Sunday helicopter crash. Initial reports suggested five people were on board the chopper. But officials later said nine people died in the crash, including former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the accident, but local police departments say the weather was so foggy that they grounded their own helicopters. 

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva…

VILLANUEVA: We do know there was an issue of visibility and a low ceiling. The actual conditions at the time of impact, that is still yet to be determined. 

About 20 investigators spent Monday combing through debris scattered over an area the size of a football field.

Among those killed in the crash were Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Giannia, girls basketball coach Christina Mauser, longtime college baseball coach John Altobelli; his wife, Keri; and daughter, Alyssa, who played on the same basketball team as Bryant’s daughter.

GM investing 2.2 billion in Detroit factory » General Motors is spending $2.2 billion to refurbish an underused Detroit factory—part of its plan to make more electric and self-driving vehicles. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: GM said in a statement Monday that the factory will start building the company’s first electric pickup truck late next year. It also plans to build a self-driving shuttle for GM’s Cruise autonomous vehicle unit. 

Eventually, the company expects to hire more than 2,000 employees at the factory. 

In November of 2018 GM announced plans to close the factory along with three others in the United States. But during recent negotiations with the United Auto Workers union, the company promised to reopen this one to build electric vehicles.

The plant is now operating with one shift of about 900 workers making Cadillacs and Chevy Impala sedans.

The factory will shut down at the end of February to refurbish and retool the facility. When it reopens, it will be GM’s first assembly plant to be fully dedicated to electric vehicles.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

A quick correction from yesterday’s news. In our report on the Grammy Awards, I incorrectly referred to the winner of several awards as Billie English. Her name is, of course, Billie Eilish.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: moderating trade disputes among global powers.

And Kim Henderson adds ‘farm sitter’ to her resume.

This is The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: It’s Tuesday, the 28th of January, 2020. 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: Trouble at the WTO, the World Trade Organization. 

You may have heard of the WTO, but maybe you don’t know what it does. 

Fundamentally, it’s a 25 year old association of about a hundred countries that helps to sort out global trade disputes. So when one nation believes another nation has broken the agreed-upon trade rules, a WTO panel of judges reviews the case, and makes a recommendation. 

If a country doesn’t agree, it can appeal the recommendation to an appellate body that then issues a final ruling.

EICHER: Those final rulings have been problematic for the United States for many years. Presidents Bush, Obama, and now Trump—all of them with very different views on trade—have registered their dislike of those rulings by blocking the appointments of judges to the WTO panel.

So now, an appellate tribunal meant to have seven judges is down to just a single one. And that person cannot issue rulings alone. 

That hamstrings the WTO and leaves high-level trade disputes in limbo.

WORLD Radio’s Sarah Schweinsberg has our story.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Last week, hundreds of world leaders gathered at the annual World Economic Forum in Switzerland. There they raised concerns about how world events like wars, refugee crises, climate change, and Brexit could affect the global economy.

President Trump talked about his trade-war with China and how the country’s unfair trade practices have hurt America. But he also said China isn’t entirely to blame. 

TRUMP: The World Trade Organization has been very unfair to the United States for many, many years and without it China wouldn’t be China. China wouldn’t be where they are right now. That was the vehicle that they used.

President Trump said the WTO has let China get away with intellectual property theft and currency manipulation by labeling China a “developing” country. That status exempts China, the world’s second largest economy, from following all of the rules Western economies do. But China still gets the benefits of WTO membership. 

TRUMP: They got tremendous advantages by the fact that they were considered developing and we weren’t and they shouldn’t be.

So what do those issues have to do with the WTO’s Appellate Body?

Tori Smith is a trade economist at the Heritage Foundation. She says Presidents Bush, Obama and now Trump blame the Appellate Body for taking away the United State’s ability to defend itself from unfair trade practices. The panel of judges has consistently ruled against America’s use of tariffs and duties to protect domestic industries. 

SMITH: Really, it all boils down to the fact that the United States has been ruled against in a lot of cases that they’re unhappy about.

Smith says Appellate Body critics also argue the court has become bureaucratic. Original WTO rules mandate judges must issue a final ruling within 90 days. But a dispute between airplane manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, dragged on for 15 years

SMITH: There is valid complaint there that these cases should be getting through faster.

President Trump says the World Trade Organization needs a makeover. Its rules and dispute resolution system are outdated. 

Steve Charnovitz is an international law professor at the George Washington University Law School. Charnovitz says, in the meantime, by refusing new appointments to the Appellate Body, President Trump can wage trade wars. And he can do so using trade tools traditionally declared unlawful by the WTO. 

Right now, countries have brought several disputes against the United States over its steel and aluminum tariffs. 

CHARNOVITZ: It’s a way for the United States government under this administration to stop any ruling against the United States at the World Trade Organization. And in effect the United States is getting immunity.

Jennifer Hillman is an international trade economist at the Council on Foreign Relations. She also served one term as a WTO Appellate Body judge. Hillman says President Trump’s plan could backfire. If there’s no Appellate Body, it can’t rule against the United States, but it also can’t hold other countries accountable. 

For instance, EU members have been threatening digital taxes on U.S. tech companies. President Trump opposes them.  

HILLMAN: When you’ve destroyed the Appellate Body, you’ve taken the umpire off the field. If there’s a lot of rule breakers and you have no umpire to decide the cases, you know, then you really are entering the world of chaos… The other thing is that it is going to take away the United States is right to hold China or other countries to their commitments.

While the Appellate Body is functionless, other WTO nations want a way to resolve trade disputes. So last week the EU along with 16 other nations including China announced they’re forming an alliance. It will settle trade disputes through arbitration. 

But President Trump’s stymying of the Appellate Body could be moving the WTO toward his hoped for reforms. At the World Economic Forum last week, WTO director-general Roberto Azevêdo said the organization isn’t functioning and needs serious change. 

AZEVEDO: We have been saying for quite some time if the WTO is to deliver, and perform its role in today’s global economy it has to be updated it has to be reformed… the system has not been functioning properly in many areas.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

NICK EICHER: Next up on The World and Everything in It: protecting religious liberty on campus.

Earlier this month, President Trump signed an executive order upholding religious liberty and the right to engage in religious speech in public schools.

TRUMP: We’re proudly announcing historic steps to protect the First Amendment right to pray in public schools. So you have the right to pray. There’s nothing more important than that, I would say. Tragically, there is a growing totalitarian impulse on the far left that seeks to punish, restrict and even prohibit religious expression. That is why today my administration is issuing strong new guidance to protect religious liberty in our public schools…

MARY REICHARD: The Trump administration also proposed new rules to protect religious organizations from unfair treatment. Those rules will affect nine federal agencies that deal with faith-based groups. Joining us now to explain what it all means is Steve West. He writes the weekly religious liberty roundup for WORLD Digital. He’s also a fellow lawyer.

Good morning, Steve!

STEVE WEST, REPORTER: Good morning, Mary.

REICHARD: Let’s start with the new protections for K-12 students. What will those do for students and teachers?

WEST: Well, these will educate school administrators about students’ and teachers’ rights to live out their faith, basically, in the school environment. So, they’re guidelines. They make clear that students can pray or read or share religious materials outside of instructional time and participate in organized prayer groups—things like “See You at the Pole” or some other prayer groups or Bible studies—on the same basis as other extracurricular groups. And the same holds true for teachers.

REICHARD: Well, students already have constitutionally protected rights on campus. The Supreme Court has made that pretty clear. So is this really necessary?

WEST: Well, it is. And it’s not just advice. Public schools could lose federal funds if they don’t certify every year that they don’t have a policy in place that restricts this. So the guidance has some real teeth. And the other thing is it’s become increasingly common to hear about school officials shutting out religion—whether it’s because they’re ignorant about the law, or they fear of controversy, or they’re just downright hostile toward religious expression.

I can give you a good example of that—that would be Chase Windebank. In 2015 he was a sophomore at Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs. He started a prayer group of students during a free period that grew to around 90 students at one time—until the school shut it down. They tried to work that out, but it actually took a lawsuit to turn it around.

Some of this is a part of a cultural devaluation of religious liberty—particularly among elites, and that includes educational elites—who just don’t think religious liberty is that important or really has a place in public life, that being religious is somehow backward or bigoted. That’s just not what most people think.

REICHARD: That’s K-12. There’s something in these new rules for Christian colleges and universities. Tell us about that.

WEST: There sure is, and these are rules not just guidance like the previous that I was talking about. They do a lot toward ensuring that a college or university is not treated differently just because it’s faith-based.

Back during the Obama administration, religious institutions were treated differently than their secular counterparts in federal grant-making. These rules level the ground in ensuring Christian colleges—for that matter, any religious college or university—are eligible for federal grants on the same basis as similar secular groups. And, again, there’s teeth in this because if they don’t comply, then they may lose their ability to receive a federal grant.

REICHARD: We talked about K-12, colleges and universities. What about the other rules we mentioned? Those don’t all deal with schools. What are some of those?

WEST: Well, they’re really all very similar to the ones that I just spoke about in the Department of Education. There are eight other federal agencies that administer grants that would impact religious organizations—from Agriculture to Labor to Homeland Security.

See, there are lots of religious social service agencies engaged in poverty relief, or taking care of the homeless, or working with refugees are helped by the rules.

If they get a federal grant, they’re on equal footing with secular groups that get federal funds—they can’t be discriminated against in that. And that’s even true in states that have these so-called Blaine Amendments, which are just state constitutional amendments that prohibit aid to religious groups. So, if states or local governments discriminate based on religion, they risk a cutoff off of the federal funds.

REICHARD: Well, I probably know the answer to this one, but is this the end of the story?

WEST: It hardly ever is. These are proposed rules, so now there’s a public comment period before they can be finalized. And of course, they can be challenged in court. But I think they’re on firm ground. Because of a case decided a couple years ago, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, the Supreme Court found it discriminatory to exclude religious institutions from certain government programs simply because they are religious. So, we really have cause to be hopeful.

REICHARD: Yes, we do. Steve West writes Liberties, that’s the weekly religious liberty roundup for WORLD Digital. Steve, thanks for joining us today.

WEST: Thank you, Mary.

MARY REICHARD: You know you can’t judge a book by its cover. 

But we do. 

Let me tell you a story about a member of 24-Hour Fitness, a guy who literally judged his gym by the name.

Dan Hill was working out in the pool. It was around midnight. But when he got out of the pool, the place seemed eerily quiet. He told TV station KSTU near his hometown of Sandy, Utah, what happened next:

HILL: Got out and dried off and walked out, and man, there’s just nobody. I mean, there’s no one at the desk. And usually I can hear weights clanking, you know, from people in the back …

And when he pushed on the front door to leave, it didn’t open. It was locked! So he called for help.

HILL: I called Sandy dispatch, just said hey, I’m locked in the 24-hour Fitness up here. There’s a long pause, and I can hear some snickering. And he said you’re where??

Police soon rescued him. 

Naturally, he thought 24-Hour Fitness meant fitness 24 hours a day. But it turns out, some locations close between midnight and 4 a.m.

No hard feelings. Dan still loves his gym. But now he wants to call it the 20-Hour Fitness.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD: Today is Tuesday, January 28th. You’re listening to The World and Everything in It and we are so glad you are! Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next, another in our occasional series: Notable Speeches, Past and Present. 

Today, an excerpt of a recent message from James Forsyth, senior pastor of McLean Presbyterian Church, outside Washington.

REICHARD: Pastor Forsyth recently spoke to staffers on Capitol Hill during a regular meeting called Faith and Law. That’s where public servants gather to think about how faith informs the public square. 

Forsyth’s message is titled: “The Pitfalls of a Political Faith.” He identifies three mistakes Christians make when considering the role of politics in their lives. Let’s listen.

JAMES FORSYTH: C.S. Lewis, you’ve heard of him. Famous Oxbridge professor, most famous for writing the Chronicles of Narnia also wrote a great little book called The Screwtape Letters. He imagines the advice that a senior demon would pass on to a junior demon. If the goal was to make Christianity completely ineffectual, how would you go about doing that? 

In one section, the senior demon addresses the connection between Christianity and politics and this is what he says: “Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand, we do want and want very much to make men treat Christianity as a means, preferably of course as a means to their own advancement, but failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice.”

Now, I love this section because it captures the tension because on one hand, our faith gives us unbelievable resources, unbelievable resources to make a profound difference in this world. On the other hand, as the demon points out, if we don’t understand the relationship between our faith and our politics, we actually end up neutering both of them.

We have to understand how these two things relate together and so for the sake of our faithfulness to God and indeed our fruitfulness in the world, we’re going to talk about some of the dangers, the pitfalls of a political faith. Looking forward to sharing three of them with you. 

Number one: underestimating the importance of politics. According to a 2019 Pew Research study, only 17 percent of Americans say they trust the government in Washington to do what is right, even most of the time. This contempt, this cultural milieu that we are in, has also bred a kind of cynicism in our churches where you’ll now have a contingent that would suggest that what the church should really do is simply transcend politics and, and preach the gospel. That the church and Christians shouldn’t get all that much involved in, in the swamp, but this would be a terrible pitfall for us to fall into. To underestimate the importance of politics. Governments, we believe, are a good thing. 

In fact, we even believe that they were God’s idea. So we don’t think of government, and we don’t think of politics as a kind of necessary evil. We think of them as as a positive good that has been created by God. And I hope that that’s an encouragement to us and an encouragement to you as we do our work. God has ordained your work for the welfare of humanity and the opposition, the stress, the problems, are worth it. They’re worth it. Don’t give up. Where politics has done poorly, the answer is to do it better. Not to give up. Pitfall number one is underestimating the importance of politics. 

Now, pitfall number two: overestimating the importance of politics. Politics has what we call a totalizing temptation. It makes you feel like everything depends on it. It’s just not true. It’s not true practically. And it’s certainly not true theologically. 

Listen, we step back and think about theological framework of our engagement here, we understand that God has created a beautiful economy where our lives actually matter.The lives that we lead actually matter. And actually, through our lives, he brings about his purposes here on earth. It’s an incredible privilege to be used by the God of the universe. 

And yet at the same time we remember, you know, he’s still in control. He’s not hurrying and scurrying around, worried about how he can hold his world together and hold all things together at the seams. 

And so we, we recognize that whether our candidate wins or loses, God still rules and reigns. And this is really freeing. It’s a really freeing thing because it enables us to attack our work with vigor because our work matters. And yet also to trust it all to the Lord of history. 

Pitfall one: underestimate the importance politics. Pitfall two: overestimating the importance of politics. Pitfall three: tying Jesus to your political party. 

We’ve said that individual Christians can and should be engaged in politics, that our faith will inform the issues that we’re passionate about and not just that, our faith will all even inform the kind of solutions we think should be pursued. We should also say that it’s right for a Christian to align themselves with a political party. They are the vehicles through which good work can be done and progress can be made. 

But, we must be very careful not to conflate the two. As Christians, we don’t ask: “Who’s side is Jesus on?” We ask, “Are we on Jesus side?” We don’t ask, “Oh, does Jesus align with my party?” We ask, “Do I align with, with Jesus?” And then we follow him. We follow him into politics. We allow our faith to overflow into our life. Jesus drives our political action, not the other way around. 

C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters, friends don’t make the demons happy, right? Don’t make the demons happy. Avoid these pitfalls. Allow your Christianity to flow over into your political life. It’ll make us more faithful to God, more fruitful in his world.

NICK EICHER: Today is Tuesday, January 28th. 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. Here’s a poem you’ve probably heard: “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.”

An 18th century Irish woman named Cecil Frances Alexander wrote those words later used in a hymn. 

WORLD Radio commentator Kim Henderson knows just what she meant.

KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: I have a new skill to list on my resume—farm sitter. At least, that’s what I’ve come to understand. I thought I was just doing chores for a friend while they vacationed, but it turns out such arrangements are big business in some parts of the country. The role can also be called barn nanny or critter sitter. There are garden gigs, too.

Our main farm-sitting focus was Elsa, a gentle Jersey capable of filling two-gallon jugs (easy) with the frothy white stuff. Milking her involved tail swats, grain, and a clean machine. Mostly, though, it involved early mornings. As in 4:30 a.m.

For five days straight we staggered out of bed at that unfamiliar hour and headed to the farm. When we arrived, the teenager lit up the scene with her phone, swiping for THE LIST. It told us to gather this, grab that. Start the hose. Unlock the gate. Things went according to schedule, and Elsa treated us like legit farm sitters. Every time.

I think my boots helped. Having red ropers on your feet makes you feel invincible. I let milk squirt down their leather creases like something in a Tony Lama ad. I trampled knee-high grass in the paddock with no thought of snakes. I hardly listened to the coyote sounds coming from a patch of woods to the west.

When we finished milkings, Elsa’s bag was soft and deflated. Her stomach (the first compartment, at least) was full of sweet feed, and my husband was usually full of instructions. Close this. Cap that. Over here. Let’s go.

We strained the fruit of our labors, then washed buckets and other integral parts of the homesteading system in something called Dr. Bronner’s lavender Castile soap. The scent hung to our hands as we moved on to feeding a dog and chickens and two portly pigs.

Each day we lugged home our prize—dairy gold—and watched it top out with an inch of cream. The teenager made butter, and we shared our surplus with anyone game to try raw milk.

By the end of our tenure we were tired. All agreed we appreciate our milk more now. Later, the teenager had a cup of the grocery store variety at church. She said  she couldn’t help but think of all the steps it took to get it from a stall to a fellowship hall refrigerator.

Seeing a new part of the day was nice, too. On our way home after our last milking, we decided to chase the sunrise on a piece of blacktop off the interstate.  We waited while a fiery, orange glow peeked over a stand of pines. Three minutes later, it was a blazing sphere, golden and metallic.

Off to my right, some Black Angus heifers dotted a pasture. The sight of them, backdropped by the sunrise, made me think of Elsa. 

And the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. 

For WORLD Radio, I’m Kim Henderson.

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: President Trump’s legal team continues to make its case against impeachment. University of Virginia professor Kyle Kondik joins us to talk about the latest on Washington Wednesday.

And, World Tour. 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.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 

Thanks so much for listening. 

And please join us again 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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