The World and Everything in It — March 11, 2020

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!

Today, foreign intelligence surveillance. The so-called FISA debate is a controversial one.

COLLINS: People have lost trust in the Department of Justice. They lost trust in the FISA court. And, remember, the FISA court was put into place because of abuses in the intelligence system and abuses among law enforcement. 

NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.

Also today World Tour, and we will meet a Snow Safety Director and hear what she does all day to manage avalanches.

DYE: It’s constant analysis. And monitoring to make a decision on when it is manageable for us and safe to allow public skiing on it.

BASHAM: It’s Wednesday, March 11th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!

BASHAM: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Biden widens delegate lead over Sanders with ‘Big Tuesday’ victories » As election results rolled in from last night’s Big Tuesday votes, Joe Biden supporters had more reasons to celebrate.

BIDEN: Looks like we’re gonna have a good night! [cheers]

Biden heard there after winning Mississippi, Missouri, and Michigan—three of the six states that voted last night. He also won Idaho. 

As of 1 a.m. Eastern Time this morning, North Dakota and Washington State were still too close to call. But in any event, it was in fact another good night for Joe Biden. 

BIDEN: Just over a week ago, many of the pundits declared that this candidacy was dead. Now we’re very much alive. 

Not just alive, but firmly in the driver’s seat. After the former vice president upended the race with a huge Super Tuesday showing last week, he added at least 152 delegates to his total last night. And he widened his lead over Senator Bernie Sanders, who now finds his campaign somewhat on the ropes. But as Sanders noted on Tuesday, the race is far from over. 

SANDERS: I think that at the end of the day, in a two-person race, when our record is compared to Biden’s, when our vision is compared to Biden’s, when we have that debate in Phoenix, I’m feeling pretty good. 

The presidential debate in Phoenix will take place on Sunday night. Arizona is one of four states that will vote next Tuesday.

Washington moves to ease economic impact of virus » Meantime, back in Washington, the White House and lawmakers are talking about plans to ease the economic impact of the coronavirus. 

President Trump pitched his proposed payroll tax break on Capitol Hill. Trump’s economic team joined in presenting the economic stimulus package privately to Senate Republicans.

TRUMP: We just had a meeting on stimulus, and you’ll be hearing about it soon, but it was a great meeting. There’s great unity within the Republican Party. 

Democrats are preparing their own package of unemployment insurance and sick pay for workers struggling to keep paychecks coming as the outbreak disrupts workplaces.

At the White House, Vice President Mike Pence met with health insurance executives about making it easy for Americans to get tested. 

PENCE: All the insurance companies here, either today or before today have agreed to waive all copays on coronavirus testing and extend coverage for coronavirus treatment in all their benefit plans. 

Pence also said coronavirus tests are available at public health labs in all states.

And he added that insurance companies have agreed to cover telemedicine for patients to get care without having to leave home.

State and local officials announce measures to slow spread of virus » Elsewhere in the country, officials are rolling out drastic measures to halt the spread of the virus. 

In a New York City suburb, schools, houses of worship and large gathering places are shutting down for two weeks in a “containment area” centered in New Rochelle. Governor Andrew Cuomo.

CUOMO: We’re also going to use the National Guard in the containment area to deliver food to homes, to help with the cleaning of public spaces. 

But Cuomo stressed that this isn’t a lockdown. People who aren’t personally quarantined will be able to leave their homes and go to work, and local businesses can remain open. 

The suburb of about 80,000 residents is at the center of an outbreak of 108 confirmed cases. 

In California, Santa Clara County’s public health officer, Dr. Sara Cody had this announcement on Tuesday. 

CODY: I have issued a legal order banning events with more than a thousand people in attendance. This order will take effect at 12 a.m. on Wednesday, March 11th. 

The virus has infected over 700 people in the United States and killed at least 27. Worldwide, at least 120,000 have been infected and over 4,200 have died.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. 

Proposal could could allow Putin to remain in power until 2036 » Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday voiced support for a proposed constitutional amendment that could allow him to remain in office for another 16 years. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The constitutional change would suspend a law that limits presidents to two consecutive terms. That would pave the way for the 67-year-old to seek reelection four years from now and potentially remain in power until 2036.

A lawmaker who is revered in Russia as the first woman to fly in space authored the measure. Former cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova proposed scrapping the term limit or stopping the clock so the law wouldn’t apply to Putin.

The Russian leader and the lower house of parliament quickly endorsed the proposal. Kremlin critics denounced the move as a corrupt power play. 

Lawmakers also passed a set of constitutional amendments proposed by Putin, including a measure defining marriage as a heterosexual union.

A nationwide vote on the amendments is scheduled for next month.

Putin has been in power for more than 20 years, and he is Russia’s longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.

COVINGTON: I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead on Washington Wednesday: the ongoing FISA debate.

Plus, Joel Belz on socialism and education.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MEGAN BASHAM: It’s Wednesday the 11th of March, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s Washington Wednesday.

In 1978 Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. We will refer to it often, so we’ll go with the acronym FISA. The legislation created FISA courts that approve surveillance and other investigative actions for “foreign intelligence purposes.” 

But not all of the subjects are foreign nationals. More on that in a moment.

BASHAM: Supporters of the law include former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. 

In 2017 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Coats said FISA allowed the U.S. military to track down and kill the No. 2 ISIS commander and two of his associates. 

Coats gave the law his unequivocal endorsement:

COATS: Section 702 is an extremely valuable intelligence collection tool and one that is subject to a rigorous, effective oversight program.

EICHER: Meanwhile, others say the law is ripe for abuse and point to the controversial beginnings of the Russia probe that spawned the Mueller investigation. A December Inspector General report found the FISA application to surveil Trump campaign aid Carter Page, included 17 errors. That included information that could have led the FISA judge to deny the request.

Now FISA is up for reauthorization, and members of both parties say they want reforms. But as you might expect, they disagree on what those reforms should be. If Congress doesn’t act, several key aspects of the FISA law will expire on Saturday. 

John Tyler is a lawyer and professor of government at Houston Baptist University. He’s written about this issue and joins us now from his office there. 

Professor, good morning to you.

TYLER: Good morning, Nick. It’s great to be with you. 

EICHER: I’ll note here at the outset your view is that FISA is unconstitutional, and before we wrap up, I’d like for you to explain that. But as much as you’ve studied FISA to come to those conclusions, I’d like your expertise to help us understand it better. So let’s go back in time to when the government created FISA. What’s the best rationale for why it was done?

TYLER: Well, the irony is that there were abuses discovered during the Nixon administration with the FBI, CIA, and NSA. And there was a committee called the Church Committee that looked into these abuses and the FISA statute was an attempt to reel in these agencies to prevent unconstitutional conduct. 

The difficulty is, however, whenever Congress tries to set a statutory standard that conflicts with the constitutional standard, people in power will generally find loopholes around the protections. All these constitutional protections, by the way, developed over centuries of governmental abuse and each of these protections, ironically, developed in response to precisely the type of abuse that we’ve seen in the last two to three years under the FISA statutes. 

EICHER: Now, FISA—the first three letters of the acronym are Foreign Intelligence Surveillance. And we heard from the former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats—he’s a prominent supporter of the FISA law—and he says it’s been helpful in the war on terror, dealing with Islamic state leaders and so forth. We do need foreign intelligence surveillance, do we not? Is that not a generally agreed upon point for this law? 

TYLER: Right, but that justification goes primarily to foreign nationals. With regard to citizens in the United States, they are entitled to full constitutional protection. The Supreme Court—the argument that the government always gives in these types, when their powers are involved—is that national security requires it. 

But the difficulty, as the United States Supreme Court highlighted in a case entitled U.S. vs. U.S. District Court in 1972 is that Fourth Amendment and constitutional protections are more essential in national security cases than in any other type of case, including terrorism. And there’s nothing in a regular court system that inhibits our regular courts from taking the necessary actions. 

EICHER: Now, there are political concerns with the law. A leading FISA skeptic among House Republicans is Doug Collins of Georgia. In his view, and he said this on Fox Business a few days ago, the votes aren’t there in Congress for reauthorizing FISA without changes.

COLLINS: People have lost trust in the Department of Justice. They lost trust in the FISA court. And, remember, the FISA court was put into place from the — in — the in the ’70s because of abuses in the intelligence system and abuses among law enforcement. [Right] Does that not sound familiar today? [Well] If it was worth reevaluating then, we need to reevaluate it now.

What he means when he asks, “Does that not sound familiar now?” are his concerns over the origins of the Russia probe, and how FISA figured into it. Collins wants reforms. President Trump says he wants reforms. How likely is that to happen? 

TYLER: Well, I think it’s going to be very likely that the Senate will not pass it without reforms. Speaker Pelosi wants the act reinstated just as it is right now, but of course the act was their primary weapon to try to force President Trump out of office. I think the important thing about what Representative Collins says is this, that we’ve lost faith in the FBI, CIA, and NSA. 

And I’d like to review just some of the findings that came from the inspector general’s reports on December 9, 2019. And there were three major findings there. The first is that the Justice Department failed to disclose that they had independently determined that there was no probable cause to investigate Carter Page. This is a disclosure they did not make to the FISA court. The probable cause is the Fourth Amendment trigger before the federal government can surveil anyone. 

Second main claim is that they failed to disclose an important fact, which is that Carter Page was actually working, apparently, for the CIA and not with the Russians. And, in fact, a lawyer with the Justice Department actually doctored a critical email to hide the fact that Carter Page was really working for the United States and not the Russians.

The third major thing is that the Justice Department failed to disclose any information that undermined the credibility of either Christopher Steel or his dossier. It lead to an extraordinary event that I think is unprecedented in our history, which was a rare public order from the FISA court on December 19th, 2019—10 days after the IG report—which barred any agents that were involved in the Carter Page FISA warrants from taking part in further proceedings before the FISA court. 

It also required a new type of oath that there has to be an oath taken and signed by anybody filing information before the FISA court that there is no exculpatory information that they are not disclosing to the court. And that’s why the essence of due process is to have opposing counsel in these proceedings. 

EICHER: Do you think the kind of reforms that are being batted around by folks like Congressman Collins—and what President Trump is hoping for—do you think that those reforms will fix it? 

TYLER: No, I do not. And the reason for that is even the reforms that I have heard talk about will not satisfy any of the five specific requirements in the Fourth Amendment in the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment is a very crucial guarantee of rights that government cannot surveil its citizens without a warrant based on probable cause. This specifically identifies the person to be targeted or the location to be surveilled. And even the reforms will not satisfy a single one of these requirements. 

The way that the FISA statute is set up, as I explain in detail in the article I wrote a couple years ago, it allows federal officials—without any showing of probable cause and without satisfying any of the requirements of the Fourth Amendment—to have surveillance, secret surveillance on U.S. citizens without any reason to suspect them of wrongdoing at all. And that’s simply unconstitutional and a violation of our rights.

EICHER: John Tyler is a professor of government at Houston Baptist University. Professor, thank you for your time. 

TYLER: Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.

NICK EICHER: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It, World Tour with Africa reporter, Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Brazil landslides—We start today in South America. 

At least 32 people have died in Brazil since Sunday as heavy rains lash the area. The extreme weather has triggered mudslides in several coastal cities, toppling homes and buildings. 

AUDIO: [Brazil landslide cleanup]

Rescue workers are still clearing debris and searching for survivors. More than 5,000 people have been displaced and dozens are still missing. 

Brazil has been suffering from historically heavy rains this year. One city saw six inches of rain in 36 hours. That’s more than it usually receives in an entire month. 

Harry and Meghan’s last royal appearance—Next, we go to the United Kingdom. 

AUDIO: [Harry and Meghan’s last royal appearance]

Prince Harry and Meghan joined the royal family at Westminster Abbey on Monday for the annual Commonwealth Day celebration. The couple briefly spoke with other dignitaries before taking their seats for the ceremony.

The event was the couple’s last official appearance as working royals. Harry and Meghan announced their plans in January to step back from their royal duties. The couple plans to establish a non-profit and to earn a living partly through speaking engagements.

Prisoners in Italy protest coronavirus restrictions—Next we go to Italy. 

A dozen prisoners climbed to the roof of a jail in Milan Monday to protest coronavirus restrictions. They hung a sheet painted with the Italian word for “pardon.” A crowd of demonstrators gathered outside the prison, chanting, “Freedom!”

AUDIO: [Prisoners in Italy protest coronavirus restrictions]

The Italian government announced Sunday that it would restrict jail visits in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. Under the new measures, prisoners are only allowed to contact family members remotely. Those restrictions sparked inmate protests that have left at least six dead.

Turkey Russia Syria ceasefire—Next we go to the Middle East. 

AUDIO: [Displaced Syrian villagers]

Displaced Syrian villagers began cautiously returning home after a ceasefire went into effect last week. They drove down bombed-out streets, scoping out the damage to their homes. 

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian president Vladimir Putin agreed to a deal on Thursday to end fighting in northwestern Syria.

The Russian-backed Syrian regime has been waging a campaign to retake Idlib, the last major outpost held by opposition fighters in Syria. In response, Turkey sent reinforcements to the area. The conflict has forced about 1 million people to flee the region since December 2019.

The ceasefire deal establishes joint Turkish and Russian patrols in the area. It also gives the Syrian regime control of several key highways.

Last Ebola patient in DRC—And finally, we end today here in Africa. 

AUDIO: [Last Ebola patient in DRC]  

The last Ebola patient in the Democratic Republic of Congo went home from a treatment center last week. Health care workers sang and danced to celebrate her release. 

The woman was released from a treatment center in Beni, one of the hotspots of the outbreak that began in August 2018. The World Health Organization estimates that over 2,000 people died in the epidemic.

In February, four African nations licensed an Ebola vaccine that is nearly 98 percent effective. 

That’s this week’s World Tour.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.

NICK EICHER: Online dating may be giving way to a new trend—on-sign dating. 

Recently, a 30-year-old Englishman named Mark Rofe rented a billboard and advertised for a date. 

The sign featured a picture of Mark and it read “Single? This could be the sign you’ve been waiting for. Visit”  

He spent the equivalent of $500 U.S. on the billboard. And he was pleased with the return on investment. Here he is on the TV show This Morning with Phillip & Holly

AUDIO: Oh my gosh, the reaction has been insane! So, I can’t believe it. I’ve had over a thousand people apply. So I’d like to thank every single one of those from the bottom of my lonely heart. You know, I can’t believe it!

Mark wasn’t the first person to try this approach. Last year, here in this country a fellow from Utah rented a similar billboard, and received nearly a thousand email responses.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, March 11th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: another in our occasional series “What Do People Do All Day.” 

Last year nearly 10 million skiers and snowboarders visited ski resorts in the United States. As they shred snow packed slopes, they have a lot on their minds—keeping their balance, avoiding other skiers, and staying comfortable. Most aren’t worried about avalanches.

EICHER: That peace of mind is thanks in large part to Snow Safety Teams. These are men and women who intentionally create avalanches, so resort guests won’t unintentionally get caught in one. WORLD reporter Sarah Schweinsberg spent the day with a Snow Safety Team in northern Utah to find out how they are making snow just a little more predictable.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: The sky is gray and the peaks of the resort mountains are shrouded in clouds. But no snow is falling.

DYE: If it was snowing, well I would have postponed this interview. 

Nichole Dye is the Snow Safety Director at Powder Mountain Ski Resort. She’s monitoring today’s weather from her computer screen. Her office uniform is a thick sweater, snow pants and bright green ski boots. 

Dye’s job is to do everything possible to prevent any type of avalanche from hurting guests. No new snow means less avalanche danger.

DYE: So there’s a loose snow, wet loose, soft slab, hard slab, wet slab, icefall, slush flow, cornice falls, a roof avalanche. 

Making sure all of the resort’s snow is avalanche proof is a big job considering Powder Mountain is the largest ski resort in the country.

DYE: It’s constant analysis. And monitoring to make a decision on when it is manageable for us and safe to allow public skiing on it.

It’s vital that Dye understands how weather conditions will affect the snowpack. Temperature, air moisture, wind speed and direction, the amount of snowfall and how past weather is still affecting today. 

One month ago, freezing rain covered the snow here. 

DYE: And now we have one to two centimeters deep. It looks like an ice rink. There is some historical articles that have been written up. I jumped into those even more deeper than I had before to try to understand how incoming storms or weather will affect this thing or how our avalanches are going to react to it. 

Dye scrolls through columns and columns of numbers. The numbers are readings from area weather stations.

DYE: Collecting all this data overnight and then presenting a forecast for the day is how we decide how we’re going to manage our terrain. And then we do like a reconciliation or reassessment if you will in the p.m. to see what we got right and what we got wrong.

The best way to see if the team’s forecast is correct, is to get outside. 

At noon, Dye and her teammate click into skis, put on bright red jacks and head out to check their designated resort zone. 

At the top of the main ski lift, Dye can see the resort’s main valley. It looks like a big bowl filled with snow, aspens and pines. All of the ski runs end up at the bottom.


They’re checking to see if the icy snow around the bowl has any dangerous build up that could turn into an avalanche. 

DYE: You just make like a loop, a non-stop loop basically. And ideally, if it’s snowing really hard, and it’s blowing really hard, you’d want someone to be through here every hour. Cutting it up. 

Nichole Dye demonstrates. She ski’s quickly over a pillow of snow. But her technique looks odd. She leans back into her heels. The tips of her skis come out of the snow, and she bounces from side-to-side. By pushing down with her weight and bouncing, any loose snow will slide down. The technique is called a ski cut. It keeps large amounts of snow from piling up.

DYE: What we are trying to do is keep it really small so it’s constantly manageable. You can do small manageable ski cutting while the resort’s open.

When the resort isn’t open, the Snow Safety team can use more explosive means to start bigger avalanches: snow bombs. The snow bomb sends shock waves through the snow. That causes avalanches. 

Dye skis up to a renovated shipping container. The Snow Safety team prepares the snow bombs inside. They can set off up to 130 shots a day.

DYE: They are made out of pentolite. They have a blasting cap that goes inside of them and then a fuse that comes out. And then we have these little pull wire igniters that you put on, pull it, it has a little coil and it lights the fuse. 

On days when they need to set off the explosives, Dye’s team arrive at the resort dark and early. They start setting off the bombs at dawn to make sure the resort can open on time. 

Back in her office, Nichole Dye says sometimes there’s just too much snow for bombs or ski cuts to work. When that happens, she closes sections of the mountain. People don’t like that. 

DYE: Just a lot of drive by comments of when and why, what is going to happen…  you just kind of be patient and tell them you know we’re doing the best we can. 

Dye says, even though she’s been working at the resort for a decade now and knows her snow, there’s still a feeling she could be missing something. 

DYE: You’re always nervous right. I mean, I’m nervous right now. When you’re dealing with other people’s safety, you’re, like, always nervous.

A close call earlier this year heightened those nerves. One morning, Dye and her partner went out patrolling the mountain. Suddenly the snow broke and an avalanche swept down the mountain taking Dye with it.

DYE: It kind of just tipped me over and took me down a couple hundred feet. It just washed me up so fast… it kind of sucked me into the gully.

The avalanche buried her from the neck down. Thankfully, she was OK. 

DYE: It was probably five minutes, by the time he had me out and I could actually stand.

That day made Nichole Dye evaluate if she still wants to intentionally cause avalanches. So far the answer is yes. The pay in powder and adventure is still too good to pass up. 

DYE: I have this weird sickness of like when I’m in it I want to get out of it. I’m just like stressed all the time. And then when I’m out of it all I wanna do is get back into it. 

MUSIC: [Ebb and Flow]

For WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg in Eden, Utah.

MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Wednesday, March 11th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Commentary now from WORLD founder Joel Belz.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: A recent visitor to my office posed a question: “Do you really think it’s possible that we might elect a self-professed socialist to our presidency before this year is out? How could that conceivably happen?”

Well, yes, I do think it could conceivably happen. Not likely, I add. But so many other unlikely things have happened in this topsy-turvy world that I’m reluctant to call anything impossible.

So I felt affirmed a couple of days later when the lead editorial in The Wall Street Journal said Bernie Sanders had become a favorite to win the Democratic nomination for president. The editorial expressed doubt that Sanders can beat Donald Trump in November.

But what really got my attention was the Journal’s main point. It raised my visitor’s second question: “How could that conceivably happen?” 

To answer that, the Journal editors cite our nation’s academy and media tilt toward the explicitly socialist agenda—a comprehensive welfare state. Quoting now: “[The academy and media] created the political environment in which he [Sanders] could prosper.” End quote. 

 The Journal writers point to four specific examples:

  •     America’s historic commitment to capitalism and the “free market” is so overwhelmingly rejected in both contexts.
  •     The rise of left-wing intolerance on campus.
  •     Seeing America as “irredeemably racist.”
  •     Espousing climate change as religion more than science.

Is this a gigantic conspiracy? Hardly. This is a worldview so far-reaching that no world leader could conceivably coordinate all its facets. The movement has operated far longer than most of us have been around. And most of it’s been in the open. 

Maybe that’s why the Journal’s typically insightful writers missed an important piece of the story in their analysis: They completely ignored the role of America’s public schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.

When you total up the impact on a young girl or boy over 180 days a year, for 13 years, you hardly need to analyze the content of that instruction. Just think about the colleges and universities that shaped most of the teachers in today’s schools, and you’ll understand why so many educators sound like socialists. 

The content of the classes is not the only thing profoundly shaping students. Day-by-day, intergenerational contact also plays a big role. Reliance on government is assumed throughout the process. Nobody needs to call it “socialism.”

Recent statistics suggest the number of Americans who got their education from regular public schools has dropped from 90 percent to 80 percent. That’s a happy development for the students and their families. 

But it’s still almost certainly a case of “too little, too late.” Despite some good teachers and students spread among that 80 percent, the vast majority of Americans will be led to believe socialism is a fine replacement for the principled capitalism that has served America so well.

I’m Joel Belz.

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: WORLD’s Kim Henderson introduces us to a Louisiana medical and research facility working with leprosy victims.

That and so much more tomorrow. 

I’m Nick Eicher.

MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham.

The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.

WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.

Remember what Isaiah told us: God’s counsel will stand. He will accomplish all His purpose.

I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day. We’ll talk to you 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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