MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
American universities unwittingly participated in Chinese espionage.
But the jig’s up now.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Also, how churches in China are responding to the coronavirus.
Plus a real love story for Valentine’s Day.
LYN: I walked up on the front steps of her parents’ house and rang the doorbell, and from that moment I knew that she was mine.
And WORLD’s editor in chief wants your advice on how much money to spend on pets.
REICHARD: It’s Thursday, February 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 with Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: New COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases drop » The number of new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in China dropped for a second straight day on Wednesday. That gives health officials a glimmer of hope amid the outbreak that has infected over 45,000 people and killed more than 1,100.
So far, there are still only 12 confirmed cases in the United States. But Dr. Nancy Messionnier with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says U.S. healthcare providers must remain vigilant.
MESSONNIER: Most of the disease is in China, however, we can and should be prepared for this new virus to gain a foothold in the U.S.
Meantime in Japan, officials confirmed 39 new cases on a cruise ship quarantined at Yokohama, bringing the total to 174 on the Diamond Princess.
Attorney General Barr to testify amid firestorm over Stone sentencing » Attorney General William Barr has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next month. Lawmakers want to question Barr about this week’s move to seek a lighter sentence for longtime Trump ally Roger Stone. The decision caused a revolt among the prosecutors working that case.
The move came just after President Trump blasted the original sentencing recommendation on Twitter. But the Justice Department says it made the decision to seek a lesser sentence on Monday, before Trump’s tweet.
GOP Senator John Kennedy on Wednesday defended the move.
KENNEDY: This is a case of miscommunication between frontline prosecutors and the management at Justice over the recommended sentence for a public figure.
But Democrats aren’t buying it. They say President Trump has puppet strings on the Justice Department. And the president may have poured more fuel on that fire Wednesday by praising the attorney general’s decision.
TRUMP: I want to thank the Justice Department for seeing this horrible thing—and I didn’t speak to him, by the way, just so you understand. They saw the horribleness of a nine year sentence for doing nothing. You have murderers and drug addicts who don’t get nine years.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday called for swift action.
SCHUMER: Something egredious like this demands that the inspector general investigate, and demands that the chairman of the Judiciary Committee hold a hearing.
Schumer said he has formally requested that the Justice Department’s inspector general look into the matter.
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman resigns after troubled caucuses » The chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party announced Wednesday that he is stepping down after a disastrous caucus process marred by tech glitches that led to a days-long delay in reporting the results.
Chairman Troy Price said “The fact is that Democrats deserved better than what happened on caucus night. As chair of this party, I am deeply sorry for what happened and bear the responsibility for any failures on behalf of the Iowa Democratic Party.”
Price said his departure would occur as soon as the state party elects a replacement, and he called an emergency Saturday meeting to do so.
Pope addresses the Amazon’s need for priests » Pope Francis on Wednesday rejected a push to ordain married men in the Amazon region of South America to compensate for a shortage of priests. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: In a papal document titled Beloved Amazon, the pope did not mention the recommendation from Amazonian bishops. He instead urged them to pray for more people to become priests and to send missionaries to the region.
Last year, nearly 200 bishops met with Francis at the Vatican to talk about the growth of the church in the Amazon. Many people there live in isolated communities and only see a priest once every few months or years. Since a priest must administer the sacrament of Holy Communion, Catholics in the region rarely get to participate in the religious rite.
The pope’s stance is likely to rile progressives, who hoped he would open the door for married men to serve as priests and women to become deacons.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.
COVINGTON: Girls sue to block participation of transgender athletes » The families of three female high school runners filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday seeking to block transgender athletes in Connecticut from participating in girls sports.
Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the three students. In an online video, one of the student athletes, Selina Soule, said she first competed against transgender athletes in her freshman year.
SOULE: And once the gun went off, the two transgender athletes took off flying and left all of us girls in the dust. I knew right then and there that some girls would be missing out on great opportunities to succeed.
They argue that allowing athletes with male anatomy to compete has deprived them of track titles and scholarship opportunities.
The lawsuit was filed against the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and the boards of education in several cities.
Attorney Christiana Holcomb said. “Forcing girls to be spectators in their own sport is completely at odds with Title IX, a federal law designed to create equal opportunities for women in education and athletics.”
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: U.S. universities grow increasingly suspicious of Chinese influence.
Plus, a Valentine’s story about lifelong love and loss.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD: It’s Thursday, the 13th of February, 2020. This is The World and Everything in It and we’re so glad you’ve joined us. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up: China’s influence around the world. It’s growing.
Not too surprising. One in every five persons on earth is Chinese. China is the second largest economy in the world, after the United States.
The communist government’s growing influence in the West has freedom-lovers worried. China frequently violates religious liberty and human rights. Moreover, the government launches cyber attacks and steals intellectual property.
REICHARD: American colleges and universities have unwittingly opened a door to China’s influence in the United States. WORLD Radio correspondent Jill Nelson reports now on the soft propaganda of the Confucius Institutes.
JILL NELSON, REPORTER: FBI Director Christopher Wray issued a stern warning about China to the Senate Intelligence Committee last year:
WRAY: The Chinese counterintelligence threat is more deep, more diverse, more vexing, more challenging, more comprehensive and more concerning than any counterintelligence threat I can think of.
One of China’s targets, Wray added, is university campuses. Retired China scholar Steven Levine learned that lesson the hard way.
He arrived at the University of Montana in 2007. At the time it had a poorly funded Chinese Studies program. When he discovered the Chinese government was giving away seed money to start a program known as the Confucius Institute, he got on board.
LEVINE: We were attracted by the possibility of providing Chinese language education through the state of Montana where there was no Chinese language instruction in any of the high schools and only a poorly developed program in the university.
MUSIC: [Chinese music]
At first glance, the programs appear benign: They promote cultural and artistic opportunities, like Chinese New Year celebrations and language classes. The Chinese government usually provides both teachers and textbooks and up to $200,000 a year—a huge boost for smaller institutions.
The first Confucius Institute opened its doors at the University of Maryland in 2004. Their numbers grew to more than 100 nation-wide and more than 500 across the globe.
The University of Montana opened its Institute in 2007—an achievement Levine later regretted.
LEVINE: From Beijing, the Confucius Institute carefully vetted the teachers who were sent over here. There were things they weren’t allowed to speak about. Everything seemed to be sort of soft and cuddly, sort of the panda image of China. But in fact this was part of an official Chinese government agency.
Critics say Confucius Institutes attempt to control discussions about sensitive topics like human rights, Tibet, and Taiwan.
Levine wanted to find out if this was true. In 2014 he wrote to hundreds of Confucius Institutes around the world, asking them to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. Dozens of China specialists signed his letter. But none of the Confucius Institutes agreed.
LEVINE: The lack of response spoke volumes I think in terms of the way Beijing controlled these institutions.
Economic espionage is another major concern, both in the private sector and at universities.
Clayton Dube directs the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California. He believes openness and exchange lead to more rapid development, but he’s also concerned about intellectual property theft.
DUBE: This is a hazard and of course universities tend to be very open places. And so in cases where technology is being developed and the development of that technology is being done by the U.S. government, it’s imperative that the United States be the beneficiary of that technology.
But FBI Director Wray told the Council on Foreign Relations in 2019 that universities are starting to wake up to China’s threat.
WRAY: I’m encouraged actually by the number of universities we have around the country that are taking very thoughtful responsible steps to make sure that they’re not being abused and that their information, proprietary research, confidential information, isn’t stolen.
Washington is also taking action.
A law passed in 2019 prohibits universities that host Confucius Institutes from receiving Department of Defense funding for Chinese language studies. As a result, nine universities closed their programs. Several more, including universities in Missouri, Kansas, and Delaware, announced closures this year. Since 2014, 29 Confucius Institutes at American universities have shut their doors.
Levine said the institute he helped launch in Montana closed down a few months ago. The state is struggling to make up for the deficit.
Dube says countering China’s soft power involves more than just shuttering Confucius Institutes.
DUBE: Are you simultaneously going to vote for more money for language teaching? For teaching about China? If so I’m with you. I’m with you completely. But if your only answer is to close the American door to information about China, that seems like a program that’s not in American interests.
Levine agrees, and says many universities are starved of funds.
Dube says the United States needs to invest in Chinese language and cultural studies just like it invested in Middle Eastern studies after 9-11.
DUBE: You can’t cut yourself off from essentially one-fifth of the world’s population.
Developing our own China curriculum is good for American students going into business. It’s also a useful tool for American foreign policy.
DUBE: So what I’m looking for are politicians who recognize that and say instead of relying on Beijing to do it, we’re going to do it.
Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Jill Nelson.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: the coronavirus.
As you heard earlier, the coronavirus continues to spread. So does the fear and disruption the illness is causing. Nowhere is that more evident than in China, where the outbreak began.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: The widespread worry has created a unique opportunity for churches to share the gospel. Joining us now to talk about that is June Cheng. She’s WORLD’s East Asia reporter.
Good morning, June!
JUNE CHENG, REPORTER: Good morning, Mary.
REICHARD: Start by telling us about the woman that you wrote about. Zhang Ruzhen.
CHENG: She’s a woman in her 80s and she traveled from Wuhan to Chengdu to celebrate Chinese New Year with her son and his family. And soon after she arrived she started to develop a cough and a low grade fever. When the family brought her to the hospital, they quickly diagnosed her with the coronavirus.
REICHARD: Tell us about how her son’s church responded and what happened next.
CHENG: Her son attended a church called Enfu Church and the members of that church started to pray for her, they brought food to her, as well as her son who was also forced to be in quarantine because he was in contact with someone who had contracted the virus. And the pastor, Paul Peng, called Zhang and explained to her the gospel, just told her how Jesus died for her sins, and she accepted Christ that day. And a few days later she passed away.
So, because so many people were quarantined and they were afraid to go out, they held a memorial service for her over video conferencing. And Pastor Peng preached about Psalm 80 and talked about how calamity can cause people to pray for rescue but also lead people to repentance and turning back to God. The son also shared his testimony. And after that, several of the family’s friends actually professed faith in Christ.
And the sermon was put on WeChat, which is China’s social media, and within a few days it had about 80,000 views. And someone actually contacted pastor Pung and asked him if he would lead her in the sinner’s prayer because she wanted to accept Christ.
REICHARD: So poignant. What are other churches doing during this outbreak?
CHENG: In Wuhan, there are Christians who are going out onto the streets and passing out face masks as well as gospel tracts. They’re just trying to look for ways to evangelize to their neighbors, especially in a time when people are very anxious and they’re very also angry.
REICHARD: Well, speaking of anger, I’ve read that a lot of people are angry at the government for its role in the spread of the coronavirus. Tell us about that.
CHENG: Yeah, there’s a lot of people who are putting a lot of the blame of the quick spread of the coronavirus on the government’s slow reaction to the outbreak. So, the first people to get infected with the virus, a lot of them are connected with a fish and wildlife market in Wuhan. And they started developing symptoms and going to the hospital in December. And at the end of December, eight people—including some doctors—shared about this unknown pneumonia on social media and they were actually sanctioned by the government for spreading rumors and told to stop.
And it wasn’t until January 20th when an epidemiologist said that this virus can spread through human contact. That’s when President Xi Jinping started to speak out about it and because he said it, then the lower officials were able to admit the problem and to seek a solution.
And so on January 23rd, Wuhan actually completely shut down. Unfortunately, this came a little too late because 50 million people had already left the city since this was during the Chinese New Year holiday, which is the biggest travel season of the year.
REICHARD: Yeah, so much time had passed by that point. June, you wrote about the doctor who first blew the whistle on this outbreak, a man named Li Wenliang. He himself got infected. And then this week we learned that he died. And he was just 33 years old. What’s the reaction been to that?
CHENG: Very upset, very outraged, there’s been a huge outpouring of grief about his death. The fact that he was punished for sharing about the coronavirus in a group chat with his former medical school classmates have people really angry at the government. The police made him sign a statement to say that he would stop sharing these rumors and told him to go back to work. And it was after he went back to work in his hospital that he was infected from one of his patients and then later died.
What’s been really interesting about this is that recently the term “freedom of speech” has started to trend on Chinese social media. Academics have been publishing essays critical about the Chinese government. And local journalists have courageously documented what’s been going on on the ground in Wuhan where there’s overcrowding in hospitals, where people with symptoms are being turned away, and some people are even dying on the streets.
I think this is going to be a huge challenge for the government as the CCP has wanted to seem like they’re in control—they control the narrative, they control the people. But this time, unlike with the Hong Kong protests, it’s hitting very close to home. And people are seeing what’s happening first hand, so they can’t be so easily swayed by the propaganda.
REICHARD: Right. June Cheng is WORLD’s East Asia correspondent. Thanks for joining us today, June, and stay safe!
CHENG: Thanks, Mary.
NICK EICHER: Let’s say you google “strange things captured on Google Maps.” You’d find quite a few surprising results, most of them silly.
But here’s one appropriate for Valentine’s Day.
A German man used a machine to plant a field of corn to spell out a very heartfelt message. Since we’re googling, how about Google translate?
AUDIO: Willst du mich heiraten?
Meaning, Do you want to marry me?
The man is 32 years old. He’s a part-time farmer. His name is Steffen Shwarz, and he said he got his girlfriend to fly a drone over the field, revealing the proposal.
And since it turned up on Google Maps, his message has found a much larger audience!
REICHARD: Wait, did she answer the question?!
EICHER: Well, they are planning a June wedding. So let’s go back to Google translate …
AUDIO: Ja, ich würde gerne heiraten
Oops. Went with the wrong direction. I can handle the English. Yes, I would like to marry you.
REICHARD: Not quite a romance language.
EICHER: But clever and very efficient.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: Today is Thursday, February 13th. We’re so glad you’re along with us today for The WORLD and Everything in It. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next: a love story.
Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and that means flower bouquets and candy boxes are flying off the store shelves about now. But as you know, the best expressions of love cannot be bought.
EICHER: Kim Henderson takes us now to meet a couple whose love is in the refining fire of serious illness. If the doctor’s prognosis is correct, tomorrow will be their final Valentine’s Day together. Here’s their story.
AUDIO: [SOUND OF MOTHER AND DAUGHTER IN KITCHEN]
KIM HENDERSON, REPORTER: A birthday lunch is wrapping up at the ranch-style house where Lyn and June Hutcherson raised their two daughters. Their oldest is turning 37.
LYN: Virginia’s been over here most of the morning, and we’ve had a real good day.
AUDIO: [SOUND OF MOTHER AND DAUGHTER SAYING GOOD-BYES]
Walking to her car in the driveway, Virginia describes her parent’s relationship as something she longs for.
VIRGINIA: It’s very much the kind of relationship that you don’t see anymore… Never once even blinked their eyes at the thought of being anywhere other than being with each other…
When terminal cancer became part of her parents’ love story, she observed something from the sidelines.
VIRGINIA: It’s brought them closer together even though they’re about to be further apart than they’ve ever been.
With their daughter on her way, Lyn and June go back to their recliners. And October 1975.
MUSIC: [JIVE TALKIN’ — THE BEE GEES]
Bill Gates was starting Microsoft, and the Bee Gees were topping the charts. That’s when Lyn and June met on a blind date.
LYN: I walked up on the front steps of her parents’ house and rang the doorbell, and this beautiful 16-year-old girl with clear blue eyes and a huge bright-blonde shag haircut opened the door. From that moment I knew that she was mine.
The spring after June graduated from high school, they stood in front of her pastor in that same house.
JUNE: I was 18 and a half the day we got married. He was 20.
They had car trouble on their way to their honeymoon in New Orleans.
JUNE: He jumped out and fixed it. I’m like, this might not be so bad. Maybe. Maybe he can keep us going.
The Hutcherson marriage has weathered a lot over 43 years. A child’s birth defect. Business loss. June’s debilitating arthritis.
In 2017, doctors removed a football-sized tumor from Lyn’s kidney. After multiple rounds of treatment, doctors recently told him he has three to six months to live.
LYN: The hard part is going to be for the people who have to watch me do this, but it’s in God’s hands and not mine.
JUNE: You see how it looks outside—glum? That’s how it is for me. I mean, I have faith, yes, but just, you know, I’m pretty empty feeling and pretty blue and gray and that’s how it is. Just, just knowing that there’s a void coming.
Anytime someone steps onto the five-acre Hutcherson property, their canine security system lets them know. That’s important because Lyn was a professional mechanic. He had a garage full of expensive tools and a retirement stash of hot rods waiting to be restored, including June’s favorite, an antique F-100 truck.
JUNE: With the special engine, with the hyper-eutectic pistons…
Lyn recently closed the doors of his shop and sold everything. It was one way he could prepare his wife for life without him.
LYN: When I’m gone, there will be an empty metal building out there. Unless they want the dirt off the floor, there is nothing else to get. So she has no concerns…
When he says that, he looks across the room at his wife. She shakes her head.
JUNE: Just again, how hurt he was to have to do that. It, it, it hurts. It hurts me to see him like that.
They mention another piece of finished business.
AUDIO: [SOUND OF PREACHER LEADING JUNE IN VOWS]
In December, the Hutchersons renewed their vows.
LYN: We realized that we’ll never see 50 years… it just gave me a chance to say one more time (weeping) what I meant. I was serious about it 43 years ago, and I’m serious about it now.
These days, the couple lingers long over their morning coffee, but life is changing. Hospice care started Monday. For Lyn, the loss of physical strength has been humbling.
LYN: June had to open a coke for me the other day…
But spiritually, he’s still growing. The longtime Gideons International speaker can’t wait to open his Bible when he wakes up.
LYN: I’ve read these verses a hundred times, but that means something new almost every day. And I’ve used my highlighter more in the last six weeks than I think that I have in the last 10 years.
Still, June sees how fatigued he’s becoming—how much he sleeps. She knows a chapter of their lives is ending, and she has a goal.
JUNE: …make sure that the book closes gently rather than slammed shut.
They smile a knowing smile at each other, almost like they have some sort of secret. Lyn makes a point to say again that he wouldn’t trade his years with June for anything in the world.
LYN: When I look at her right now, I don’t see much different than I do the teenage girl when I first married her. They’re both one and the same.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Kim Henderson reporting from Hazlehurst, Mississippi.
MARY REICHARD: Coming up next, an excerpt from Listening In. This week, a conversation with pastor Michael Youssef.
Early in his ministry, he founded an Episcopal Church in Atlanta. But in the 1980s, he realized he could no longer stay in that denomination. So, he and his church left.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Host Warren Smith talks with Youssef about the real dangers of so-called “progressive Christianity.” Let’s listen.
WARREN SMITH: You witnessed that firsthand, because when you founded the Church of the Apostles, it was an Episcopal church, which you know, has a beautiful and storied history of faithfulness to the gospel. But then…
MICHAEL YOUSSEF: Starting back when I was part of the Episcopal Church of God, a man named John Spung said the reason he was “changing Christianity”—basically gutting it—from the virgin birth to the resurrection. He said, I’m doing this to “save it.”
Everyone ever since when they come to change it, water it down, modify it, tinker with it. Every one of them said, well, “it’s just not accepted anymore—all biblical Christianity—so we need to change it.”
Today, so many evangelical churches said, we need to reinvent Christianity. We need to reinvent church. And so having lived with that in the 70s, in the 80s, and I saw what it did to the Episcopal church and Presbyterians and now the Methodist and mainline denominations, and I’m seeing the same language is creeping into the evangelical pulpits.
Hopefully, that I can sound the alarm for those who are teetering about changing and following some of these young pastors who are really disarming the gospel from its supernatural. To the younger generation to not fall into that trap, because it’s easy, because it’s so popular, and it’s liked by the culture and accepted by society. I understand what that temptation is because I was offered positions. I was thinking, “but I’m going to face Jesus one day. Well, what am I going to say to him?” So having been through that temptation and overcome by the grace of God and the power of the Holy spirit, I’m able to warn others. Please don’t do this.
REICHARD: That’s Warren Smith talking to Michael Youssef. To hear their complete conversation, look for Listening In wherever you get your podcasts.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Thursday, February 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. Up next: WORLD Editor in Chief Marvin Olasky needs your help to resolve a conflict.
MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Now that my wife Susan and I have been married for 43 years, we never argue—but we occasionally disagree. I hope some of you will advise us about our current concern. I’ve promised to abide by your reactions, win or lose.
Here’s the backstory. Susan and I are the proud caretakers of our fourth dog, 5-year-old Greeley. We named him after famed newspaper editor Horace Greeley, whose birthday was Feb. 3, 1811. We like Greeley a lot, so what I’m about to relate is no reflection on him: This is about cultural change and standards of animal care.
We gave our three previous dogs carrots and bones to chew on. We took them to local vets and made sure they had all their shots. But we did not buy them fancy toys, elegant sweaters, and “curated dog food,” such as “a perfect blend of nutrient-packed ingredients… to provide antioxidants and phytonutrients”—whatever they are.
This brings me to a document we received from our local vet, an estimate of the cost to clean Greeley’s teeth: at least $429. That’s the cost of anesthesia, an electrocardiogram, a dental x-ray, the teeth cleaning itself, and other touches.
Our local vet is by no means extravagant. Some online research taught me that anesthesia-based cleanings can cost up to $1,000. I read statements like this one: “Veterinarians recommend a professional dental cleaning once or twice a year, depending on your dog’s needs.”
What are Greeley’s needs? Before whipping out a checkbook, I wrote for advice to my west Texas rancher friend John Erickson. John has written more than 70 Hank the Cowdog books, which kids love. John has had great dogs with great teeth.
My email said, “Our vet would like to clean the teeth of our dog, Greeley, at a cost of $429. The vet’s note says, ‘Be assured that the health of Greeley is our highest concern.’ John, what’s your sense of this?
John replied, “I have never heard of cleaning a dog’s teeth. For $429, you should get a liver transplant. Our local dental hygienist cleans my teeth for $130. She has never told me my health was her highest concern. She throws in a free toothbrush. I can give you her number if you wish.”
I want to be a good steward of the money God has given us, so I planned to feed Greeley carrots, but Susan still favors a professional cleaning. It’s up to you, dear listeners. Please advise me by an email to email@example.com.
For WORLD Radio, I’m Marvin Olasky.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow on Culture Friday: The Church of England and biblical marriage. Where does it stand?
And, Megan Basham reviews the documentary Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words.
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.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!