MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
Today, former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats tells us when and why he stepped down from that job.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.
Also WORLD Tour with Africa correspondent Onize Ohikere.
Plus, a visit to Oberlin, Louisiana, to check in on relief efforts.
SPIKES: The world is different than what is was before Hurricane Barry came through. We had about 200 homes that got damaged to some degree…
And WORLD founder Joel Belz on matters of the heart when government tries to mandate it.
REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, January 8th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Good morning!
REICHARD: Now the news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Nearly 60 killed in stampede at Soleimani funeral » President Trump is expected to address the nation today after Iran fired a series of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops.
The missiles struck the Ain al-Asad air base west of Baghdad and another base in Erbil in Iraq’s Kurdish region.
AUDIO: [Sound of missile]
There were no immediate reports of American casualties.
President Trump tweeted last night that—quote—“Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.”
Iranian state TV said the pre-dawn missile strikes were in revenge for a U.S. airstrike that killed the leader of Iran’s proxy wars, Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani.
The attack came hours after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif again accused America of a terrorist act, vowing revenge.
ZARIF: [Speaking in Farsi]
Iran has claimed the U.S. drone strike killed Soleimani while he was in Baghdad on a diplomatic peace mission. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded on Tuesday.
POMPEO: Anybody in here believe that? Is there any history that would indicate that it is remotely possible that this kind gentleman, this diplomat of great order, Qassem Soleimani, had traveled to Baghdad for the idea of conducting a peace mission? I made you reporters laugh this morning, that’s fantastic. We know that wasn’t true.
The White House says on the contrary—the United States caught him red handed as he prepared to coordinate more attacks against Americans and U.S. interests.
A commercial airliner crashed in Tehran early this morning, killing at least 170 people.
That according to Iran’s state news agency. It said the Boeing 737 crashed shortly after takeoff from Imam Khomeini Airport and that mechanical problems caused the crash.
The plane was operated by Ukraine International Airlines. Flight-tracking service FlightRadar 24 reported that downed jetliner had only been in service for a little over three years.
The 737 did not not operate with the same troubled flight system believed to be at the heart of Boeing’s now-grounded Max jetliners.
France, Europe threaten retaliation in trade war » France is threatening to retaliate if the United States moves forward with proposed tariffs. And French officials say they have the full backing of the European Union. European trade commissioner Phil Hogan warned on Tuesday…
HOGAN: We will look at all possibilities if any tariffs and measures are imposed by the United States.
The Trump administration is considering tariffs on more than $2 billion worth of French products—including Champagne, cheese, and handbags. That in response to France’s decision to tax the local digital business of major tech companies. U.S. officials say that unfairly targets American tech giants like Google and Facebook.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said “sanctions against the French digital tax” would be “unfriendly, inappropriate, and illegitimate.”
But he said U.S. and French negotiators had agreed “to intensify efforts in the coming days” to find a compromise.
Another powerful earthquake rattles Puerto Rico » Another earthquake rocked Puerto Rico on Tuesday. The 6.4 magnitude quake struck off the island’s southwest coast, killing at least one person and injuring eight others.
Hotel guest Paul Schott said he was jolted from his sleep.
SCHOTT: Just surveying the surroundings. The power in my room here in Old San Juan is out.
The predawn quake cut power to the entire U.S. territory. And a large swath of smaller quakes shook southern Puerto Rico throughout the day.
Governor Wanda Vásquez, declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard. She said some 300,000 households remained without running water late Tuesday, and hundreds had fled to shelters.
Tuesday’s earthquake followed a 10-day string of tremblers, including a 5.8 magnitude quake on Monday. And John Geiger with the U.S. Geological Survey said Puerto Rico still isn’t out of the woods. He said significant aftershocks may follow.
GEIGER: Usually the aftershocks are smaller, but that’s not always the case. There’s always a potential for a larger aftershock.
He said the odds of another trembler that’s actually larger than Tuesday’s are only about 3 percent. But there’s a 1-in-5 chance of another quake almost as strong—right around magnitude 6.
Venezuela opposition rejects disputed vote, swears in Guaidó » In Venezuela, opposition lawmakers on Tuesday swore in Juan Guaidó for another term as leader of the National Assembly after allies of disputed president Nicolas Maduro moved to replace him.
Guaidó was expected to easily win reelection in a weekend vote. But as Guaidó and top opposition lawmakers tried to enter the National Assembly building on Sunday, a line of Maduro-controlled security forces in riot gear physically blocked them.
Meantime, inside the building, a chaotic scene…
AUDIO: [Sound from Venezuela]
As lawmakers loyal to Maduro organized a vote for the next leader of the assembly, and claimed that on a show of hands, Luis Parra had defeated Guaidó.
Parra was previously expelled by his party over alleged corruption.
On Tuesday, Guaidó and other opposition lawmakers finally pushed their way into the building singing the country’s national anthem.
AUDIO: [Venezuela anthem]
Hours later, 100 of the assembly’s 167 members held a separate vote, reelecting Guaidó.
The United States and more than 50 other nations recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful leader.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats talks about his time in the Trump administration.
Plus, the challenge of flood recovery with no help from FEMA.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MEGAN BASHAM: It’s Wednesday, January 8th, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up, Washington Wednesday.
Today our managing editor J.C. Derrick has another interview he did on his recent trip to the nation’s capital. And he’s here to set it up for us. Morning, J.C.!
DERRICK: Hey, Mary!
REICHARD: OK, today we’re airing excerpts of your interview with Dan Coats. He’s a former Indiana congressman, senator, and U.S. Ambassador to Germany. He was also President Trump’s director of national intelligence for the first two-and-a-half years of his presidency, if I remember correctly.
DERRICK: That’s right. He’s also an evangelical Christian, so I asked if he would be willing to talk about how his faith played a role in his work as director of national intelligence. And to be perfectly honest with you, I was surprised he said yes!
REICHARD: I’d guess he doesn’t get to talk about his faith very often with secular reporters.
DERRICK: Well, yes, but he hasn’t been doing any kind of interviews since stepping down last August. He’s been very quiet. And that’s at least partly because news of his resignation came right in between President Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president and the whistleblower report that came right after it.
REICHARD: Did you two talk about that at all?
DERRICK: We did, and he made some news. And it’s that he did not resign in protest, as many have wondered.
But before we get to that, I should note that the interview actually took place in two parts. So in this first part we’re about to play, you’ll notice Coats is a little bit off mic. This is where we talked about the timeline of his departure. But it’s important to hear this in his own voice, because it hasn’t been reported elsewhere.
REICHARD: OK. Do we need any background?
DERRICK: Well, just remember that Dan Coats’ last day as director of national intelligence was August 15th. The whistleblower report that touched off the current impeachment saga landed on his successor’s desk the very next day—August 16th. So I asked him if he was glad he got out when he did.
COATS: Well, yes, although I didn’t know the inspector general’s report was coming, but this was a date that the president had announced earlier would be my last day.
I felt bad for the new interim director of national intelligence. I hired him to be head of our counterterrorism organization. But here the poor guy ends up now interim director of national intelligence, and then that inspector general’s report came across his desk, and I felt bad that he was put in that position.
I had no idea that this would happen, but I guess I was spared, and he was the one that had to go before the Congress in a difficult time and deal with this issue.
DERRICK: So July 28th is when the president announced in a tweet that you would be stepping down. Was that the day that you had told him—that you had submitted your resignation?
COATS: Well, I had talked to him earlier about that. But that was the date when he announced, through a tweet that was picked up by The New York Times, I guess, and then passed on to me, that he had chosen the date of August 15th to be my last day in office. That did give me time to wrap up some things and so forth. I was grateful for that. But that’s an agreement we had made earlier in July.
REICHARD: Very interesting!
DERRICK: Yeah, several interesting things there. There’s been widespread speculation that Coats resigned because of the Zelensky call—because the call had taken place just three days before President Trump’s tweet. Some have theorized that Coats resigned in protest.
But Coats says he turned in his resignation before that call ever took place and he didn’t know about the whistleblower report. He also says he found out along with the rest of us in that tweet from the president that August 15th would be his last day.
REICHARD: Did he even know the call had taken place?
DERRICK: Well, I asked him exactly that.
COATS: I was not aware of that call. I think that probably the White House felt that I was going to be leaving very, very soon, and it wasn’t necessary for me to see the transcript or hear the call.
DERRICK: OK, so it did not have anything to do with the timing of your resignation?
COATS: No, it didn’t. It sure looks like it did, but it didn’t…
DERRICK: What did lead to your resignation?
COATS: Well, there were a series of things that made me believe that it would be in the best interest of the president and in the best interest of me to submit my resignation at a future date. And this was conveyed to the president as significant—months ahead of the time that I left. But the timing of leaving was left to his determination, and of course I learned about that through a tweet to me that was provided just days before I stepped down.
REICHARD: OK, well, there are several more nuggets there.
DERRICK: Right, Coats says the White House did not make him aware of the call. He also acknowledges that it does look like the call had something to do with his departure. But he says that’s not the case. And he gives the president full responsibility for the exact timing of his departure.
REICHARD: That’s also very interesting. Anything else before we move on to the main portion of the interview?
DERRICK: Just one—and this is on a completely different subject. You’ll hear him say in the larger interview that he and his wife have been married for 50 years. And in the off-mic portion he talked about the role she has played in his life.
COATS: Well, Marsha has been with me all through all the steps that we have taken in an exciting but yet very challenging lifestyle, but it was her patience and her support, her wise counsel, and love that I think gave me the strength and support that I needed, along with others, to do the job that I did. I think God pretty much let me know that I couldn’t do this on my own, and I needed a partner, and that partner was Marsha.
REICHARD: Awww! That’s so sweet.
DERRICK: Yeah, it’s a little window into who he is on a personal level. And that was actually what much of the interview was about—his development as a person and a Christian and how his faith influenced his work as director of national intelligence.
REICHARD: And we should note that what we’re about to play is only a teaser. The full half-hour interview with Dan Coats will air on our sister podcast Listening In.
We’ll join the interview now as J.C. is asking Coats how faith in God helped him cope with the burden of knowing about security threats around the world.
DERRICK: Does it help in that moment to have a good sense of God’s sovereignty?
COATS: You have to have a sense of God’s sovereignty or I think you would go bonkers with all that’s happening and with all the threats and potential things that could happen. You do lie in bed at night thinking about what could go wrong, what could happen that would be a major threat to the United States. And it’s a never-ending thought process because dozens and dozens and dozens of different things could go wrong and you’re in a real difficult situation.
There were times when under a lot of stress things needed to be done and said—I remember when I took the oath ending with “so help me God,” that sort of turned into “so, God, please help me.”
DERRICK: So, you saying that brings to mind one particular instance—when you say things that had to be done that you maybe didn’t want to do but you did anyway… In 2018, there was a very controversial press conference in Helsinki with the president and Russian President Putin. And, as I recall, you were the only senior member of the administration who contradicted your boss in a way and said, no, there was Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Is that one of those tough decisions that you’re talking about?
COATS: Well, I’m really not in a position at this time to go into specifics. What I can say is it was very clear to me that the mission through the oath of office and the mission and responsibilities of being leader of the intelligence community was to adhere to doing everything we could to seek the truth. It became my motto that I wanted all of our people to adhere to—to seek the truth and speak the truth.
And so seeking the truth requires a lot of effort, because there’s a lot of contradicting things that are being said and done out there, and truth sometimes is defined as what people want to hear or think and not what it actually is.
And so I had to keep reminding myself and reminding our intelligence community that our job is to make sure we do not politicize or massage or change or manage any kind of information that we had. It had to be the straight stuff. And we had to adhere to that or the whole system would collapse.
Right now we’re in a situation where some people are defining facts and defining truth as what they want to hear but not exactly to what it is. And we see that coming, sometimes, from both sides on certain issues.
REICHARD: That’s former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats speaking with WORLD Radio’s J.C. Derrick. To hear much more of their conversation, catch Listening In this Friday wherever you listen to podcasts.
MARY REICHARD: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: WORLD Tour with our correspondent in Africa, Onize Ohikere.
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Historic flooding in Jakarta—We start today in Indonesia.
AUDIO: [Sound of rushing water, voices]
Jakarta residents are bracing for more rain after historic flooding struck the capital over the New Year’s holiday.
At least 66 people have died, and tens of thousands of people remain in shelters. It was the worst flooding to hit the city since 2007.
Mudslides and power blackouts have hampered the search for those still missing. And health workers now fear the unsanitary conditions could spark an outbreak of disease. More than a thousand soldiers and health workers sprayed disinfectant on hard-hit areas.
Low-lying Jakarta has been prone to flooding for a long time. Unregulated development and poor infrastructure has only made it worse. Last year, the government proposed a plan to build a new capital on the island of Borneo.
Attack on university in India—Next we go to India.
AUDIO: [Sound of police entering university, sirens]
Police restored order at a elite university in New Delhi after a mob attacked students and professors. At least 23 people were hurt.
Officials blamed the clashes on rival student groups. But witnesses said the attackers belonged to a student organization linked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
This student said the attackers used hammers, shovels, and long sticks to smash anything that got in their way—including students.
STUDENT: They targeted Muslim students specifically.
The latest violence follows a string of protests over a new citizenship law passed in December. The law grants citizenship to refugees from three neighboring Muslim-majority countries. But it excludes Muslims, something critics say fits into Modi’s attempt to turn secular India into a Hindu nation.
At least two dozen people have died in protests against the law.
Protests over church law in Montenegro—Next to Eastern Europe.
Members of rival Orthodox churches in Montenegro celebrated a tense Christmas Eve on Monday. Dozens of police officers looked on as members of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Montenegrin Orthodox Church lit Yule logs.
Tensions have been high in the tiny Balkan country after the government passed a law the Serbian church says will strip it of its property.
AUDIO: [Sounds of chanting during protests]
Protesters in Serbia gathered outside Montenegro’s embassy in Belgrade last week. Thousands of ethnic Serbs who live in Montenegro have protested daily since the law passed last month.
Montenegro lost its independence in 1918 when it joined a Serb-led Balkan kingdom. It finally split from the much-larger Serbia in 2006. But about one-third of Montenegro’s citizens consider themselves Serbs and want closer ties with Belgrade.
Taiwan prepares for elections—And finally, we end today in Taiwan.
AUDIO: [Sound of chanting at political rally]
Supporters of President Tsai Ing-wen gathered for a political rally ahead of Saturday’s election. Tsai is seeking a second term in a contest dominated by fears over Chinese influence in the country.
Taiwan has been a de facto sovereign nation since 1949. But China still views the island as its territory and has vowed to reunite it, by force if necessary.
Tsai supports her country’s continued independence and points to Hong Kong as evidence of what Beijing would do with more influence in Taiwan. Her opponent wants stronger ties with China—although he denies claims he supports giving up Taiwan’s sovereignty.
That’s this week’s World Tour. For WORLD Radio, I’m Onize Ohikere reporting from Abuja, Nigeria.
MARY REICHARD: Someone out for a walk in his neighborhood in Florida got a shock: he heard chilling cries coming from inside a house.
And when the voice cried “Let me out!” he immediately dialed 911.
A short time later, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies pulled up to find the owner of the house in the driveway tinkering with his car.
The deputies told him their concerns. The man smiled and said hang on, he’d show them the source of the noise.
He stepped into the house and came back with Rambo. A 40-year old parrot.
The owner said he taught Rambo to say “Let me out!” decades ago, when he was still a child, to annoy his parents!
Officers let the neighbor who’d made the report know the true story. They all had a good laugh. All’s well that ends well.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Wednesday, January 8th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. It’s a new year. But last year’s problems linger for residents in a small Louisiana town whose homes flooded in July during Hurricane Barry. Disaster relief crews made quick work of gutting them. But some buildings remain in that condition.
REICHARD: That’s because repairing houses is the long slog of flood recovery. And those without the physical or financial means to do the work themselves rely on the government or the goodwill of others to help restore their homes.
WORLD correspondent Bonnie Pritchett visited a town where one retired couple is grateful for the assistance they’ve received.
NEWSCLIP: This morning Louisnana feeling the brunt of tropical Barry’s tropical storm and rain…
BONNIE PRITCHETT, REPORTER: The storm dumped more than 20 inches of rain on the rural Southwestern Louisiana town of 1,600 people.
Scores of waterways course through Allen Parrish where Oberlin is located. That’s ideal terrain for the rice and crawfish farmers. Those fields were already full of water when Barry came ashore. And city culverts, designed to divert run-off away from neighborhood streets, couldn’t redirect fast enough.
PASTOR CLIFF SPIKES: My name is Cliff Spikes. And I’m pastor of Oberlin Baptist Church in Oberlin Louisiana…The world is different than what is was before Hurricane Barry came through. We had about 200 homes that got damaged to some degree…
Cliff Spikes drives his work truck from the church to the flood zone less than a mile away. Waiting at a traffic light to cross the highway that bisects the town, he points to a barely perceptible rise in the curb-less two-lane road about 50 yards ahead.
SPIKES: So, as we go over the railroad track here, if you look you can see how there’s a little rise in the road there. Elevation. Just passed that is where the water covered. Both sides…
President Trump declared 25 Louisiana parishes—or counties—disaster areas, including Allen Parish. They qualify for public assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Those funds are off-setting costs by state and local entities for things like emergency work, debris removal, and infrastructure repair.
But the declaration does not qualify Louisiana homeowners for FEMA Individual Assistance. Those are the grants that usually help people repair their homes.
SPIKES: When you ride around our town, you know, you can tell it’s a very poor area. Mostly farmers of some sort. And as a result, they don’t have much. There’s no money. There’s no insurance. There’s no FEMA. There’s no help. So, these people are without…”
Volunteer disaster crews helped immediately after the storm. And Oberlin Baptist Church is committed to the long-haul recovery. But, Spikes admits the task is overwhelming.
SPIKES: And, it’s like, well, you know, we try to help each other the best we can, you know. But five times zero is still zero…
Oberlin residents are relying on their own limited financial resources, FEMA-approved Small Business Administration loans, and stipends from organizations like Catholic Charities and the Red Cross. Those funds help pay for costly supplies like flooring, insulation, and drywall. Spikes put out a nationwide plea for volunteer builders.
SPIKES: We’re working on two homes right now. This group is working on two homes…
During the last week in October, nine members of The Navajo Nation Christian Response Team answered that call. They’ve travelled 1,200 miles from a region more economically disadvantaged then Oberlin.
Jonathan Emerson is one of the Navajo volunteers. He says some of their fellow Navajo don’t understand the team’s motives. Why would they postpone work they are doing for the needy at home to help strangers, especially non-Native Americans, outside the reservation?
EMERSON: Many don’t understand that…For me, being a non-Christian, is you don’t care about anybody. You don’t care. You don’t love. There’s bitterness. Hatred…But when you become a Christian – when you’re getting to know God – you begin to see how people are in need. We don’t compare ourselves with other people. God looks at people all the same. There’s no higher. There’s no lower…
The disaster relief team formed in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Pete Belone tells how a meeting between Navajo pastors and community leaders turned to disaster relief outside the reservation.
PETE BELON: There was a disaster that happened and that came into the conversation. And, then, what we said was, “When are we going to get involved? We had missionaries that come to our nation. When are we going to go back and help …”?
Within two months the nation sent its first crew to Port Arthur, Texas.
Back in Oberlin, the Navajo crew has been helping with the ongoing restoration of two homes.
At Frank and Cindy Fontenots’ house they’ve replaced paneling and drywall and painted three rooms. On their own, the retired couple repaired as much as they were able.
It’s the second time for some of the work. Just over a year ago Frank and Cindy’s children commemorated their parent’s anniversary with new flooring. After Hurricane Barry, they had to pull it up.
DANA THIBODEAUX: Happy 40th year anniversary to my parents because this is the date we completed it…
Their daughter Dana Thibodeaux reads the inscriptions originally penned on the concrete floor. Before putting in the second new floor, the family added another inscription. While most people will never know it’s there, the Fontenots do.
DANA TIBADEAUX: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. Isaiah 43:2. Remodel October 2019. Thank you, Navajo Brothers.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Bonnie Pritchett in Oberlin, Louisiana.
MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Wednesday, January 8th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD founder Joel Belz now on the limits of government mandates.
JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: Some years ago I noted in my WORLD Magazine column that the Bible refers to two functions of government—both suggesting a sort of “enforcer” role.
Romans speaks of government as the agency that “bears the sword.” It also talks about government’s role as a collector of taxes. Neither assignment brings immediately to mind a spirit of volunteerism.
Instead, government carries with it a sort of “do-it-or-else” image. I think God designed it that way.
Teaching moral good is always difficult. As any parent knows, it takes a deft teacher to encourage action from the heart, rather than because there’s a threat of punishment.
Government can’t normally be that deft. If it were, we wouldn’t need troopers to keep us driving at safe speeds. The IRS could send out fund-raising appeals instead of audit threats. And libraries could forget overdue notices.
Somewhere, though, troopers, tax collectors, and librarians have discovered that teaching good behavior is not their main calling. They can offer a few carrots here and there, but mostly it’s the threat of a stick that keeps people honest.
Affirmative action is about forcing people—using the government’s power—to do the right thing, even if it isn’t totally evenhanded. Affirmative action assumes that people won’t be good-spirited enough on their own to hire minorities in the workplace or to admit more women to medical school, for example.
Affirmative action today is different from the civil rights laws of the 1960s. Those made it illegal to cut people out of specific privileges, benefits, and opportunities. They applied to all citizens and said if you didn’t treat everyone by the same standard, you could get in big trouble.
But the government has gone from enforcing even-handed justice to teaching specific values. And we’ve seen it doesn’t work very well.
The problem isn’t primarily with the basic concept of affirmative action, which is a totally Biblical concept. God himself is perhaps the ultimate implementer of affirmative action. He “set his love on the nation of Israel” for reasons suitable to himself. And Jesus told the memorable story of the manager who hired people at different times during the day and chose to pay them wildly disparate wages.
And all of us exercise affirmative action—and, dare I say, discrimination—in our everyday lives. We do our charitable giving in selected sectors. We send our missionaries to selected countries. Against the hordes of hungry and needy people, we pick a few to help.
Christians should recognize affirmative action is a wholesome, natural, and totally defensible kind of human behavior.
It just gets off the track when civil government tries to mandate it. An entity intended to be the enforcer of justice is not good at requiring demonstrations of love and goodness.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Joel Belz.
MEGAN BASHAM: Tomorrow: many Venezuelans have fled to Peru to escape oppression. We’ll talk about the efforts to help them.
And, your lack of privacy online is the focus of a new regulation in California. It has nationwide application. We’ll talk about that and more tomorrow.
I’m Megan Basham.
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.
Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.”
I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day. Lord willing, please join us again tomorrow!