MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
A big shakeup at the agency that oversees Voice of America and other taxpayer funded global broadcasters. We’ll talk about the changes, why they matter and what they mean going forward.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.
Also World Tour.
Plus the coronavirus response and biblical archaeology. It’s made it a bit more difficult to protect those sites.
And WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney on these changing times.
REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, June 24th. 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: Up next, Kent Covington has today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Fauci optimistic COVID-19 vaccine will be ready in 2020 or early 2021 » On Capitol Hill Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci said a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready by the end of this year. He told lawmakers that several vaccines have shown promise.
FAUCI: One of them will enter Phase 3 study in July. This is one that has already shown in preliminary studies some very favorable response in the animal models that were developed.
That’s a study being led by biotech firm Moderna. In Phase 3, about 30,000 people will receive a small dose of the vaccine.
Fauci, the White House’s top infectious disease expert, testified to a House panel on the federal response to the virus. He noted that a few other possible vaccines are only a few months behind the Moderna test. And he said he’s cautiously optimistic that we’ll have a vaccine either by the end of this year or early next year.
But in the meantime, he said he is deeply concerned about a recent rise in infections.
FAUCI: Right now, the next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surgings that we’re seeing in Florida, in Texas, in Arizona and in other states. They’re not the only ones that are having a difficulty.
Fauci and other top health officials also said no one at the White House has asked them to slow down testing for the coronavirus.
That despite a remark by President Trump at his recent Tulsa rally suggesting otherwise.
Assistant Health Secretary Brett Giroir said that, in fact, testing is still ramping up.
GIROIR: Even without major technological advances, I estimate the nation will have the capacity to perform between 40 to 50 million tests per month by fall.
He said the nation is now averaging about a half-million tests per day.
Trump issuing executive order to protect monuments from protesters » President Trump said Tuesday he’ll issue an executive order to help protect monuments across the country. Protesters in recent days have vandalized or destroyed numerous statues and other monuments with ties to the Confederacy or slave ownership.
Trump spoke to reporters on the White House lawn just before boarding his Marine One helicopter.
TRUMP: We are looking at long term jail sentences for these vandals and these hoodlums and these anarchists and agitators.
His remarks came after a group of demonstrators tried to topple a statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park near the White House.
Trump tweeted a warning that those who vandalize monuments could face 10 years in prison under the Veterans Memorial Preservation Act.
He said Tuesday that the new executive order will—quote—“reinforce what’s already there, but in a more uniform way.”
The president opposes the removal of monuments, calling them an important part of American history.
Mourners pay final respects to Rayshard Brooks » AUDIO: [Gospel music]
Gospel music filled the sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Tuesday, the same church where Martin Luther King Jr. used to preach.
Scores of mourners wearing face masks gathered there to pay their final respects to Rayshard Brooks, who was fatally shot by an Atlanta police officer earlier this month.
Among the speakers at the service was Martin Luther King’s daughter, Reverend Bernice King.
KING: We are here because individuals continue to hide behind badges and trainings and policies and procedures, rather than regarding the humanity of others in general and black lives specifically.
Friends and family remembered Brooks as a loyal friend, father and husband. His mother-in-law Rochelle Gooden said she’ll always have a living reminder.
GOODEN: I look at my grandbaby right there, she looks just like him. And when I look at her, I know that he’s not gone.
Former officer Garrett Rolfe is facing numerous charges, including murder. He opened fire after Brooks fired a stolen police taser at him while fleeing arrest.
FBI: NASCAR noose incident a misunderstanding, not intentional » NASCAR announced Tuesday that the FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway. And it has determined that the company’s only black driver, Bubba Wallace, was not the victim of a hate crime.
The FBI opened an investigation after a noose was found in Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega this week.
But the bureau said evidence revealed that a garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since early last fall, long before the arrival of Wallace’s team.
NASCAR said in a statement, we “are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba.”
On Monday, all 39 other drivers marched on the Talladega track and pushed Wallace’s car to the front of the track in a show of support.
Major League Baseball set to play 60-game season » Major League Baseball is moving forward with plans for a shortened 2020 season. WORLD’s Anna Johansen has more.
ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Big league teams will likely play just 60 regular season games this year, compared to the normal 162.
The league made a unilateral decision to start the season over the objections of the players union. That after a long and heated labor battle between players and owners, mainly over how much players will earn while playing in empty stadiums.
In a Monday vote, the union’s executive board rejected the league’s latest proposal.
The season is expected to start roughly one month from now.
The shortened season may include several rule changes for 2020 only. Those include using a designated hitter in the National League and starting extra innings with a runner on second base.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.
Earthquake strikes southern Mexico » A powerful earthquake shook southern Mexico Tuesday, killing at least two people, while sending thousands fleeing into the streets.
The 7.4 magnitude quake caused a building collapse in the Pacific resort town of Huatulco killing one person and injuring another. A second person died in an apparent house collapse in a small mountain village.
Otherwise, the Mexican government said reports of damage were mostly minor.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: the president’s plan for America’s international public broadcasters.
Plus, Janie B. Cheaney on rebuilding our current ruins.
This is The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: It’s Wednesday, the 24th of June, 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: Washington Wednesday.
When you hear the term “public broadcasting,” you probably think of National Public Radio or the Public Broadcasting Service. NPR and PBS are household names here at home, funded both publicly and privately.
The United States also funds 100 percent of several other media outlets meant for international audiences. They include Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.
EICHER: In 2018, President Trump nominated Michael Pack to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media. That’s the government organization overseeing all of these outlets.
The Senate sat on Pack’s nomination for nearly two years, largely because of his reputation as a conservative controversialist. The Senate did approve Pack’s nomination just this month, with only Republicans voting in favor.
REICHARD: Pack quickly removed the heads of all the agency’s outlets. The shakeup is raising questions about other changes on the way.
Joining us now to talk about all of this is Mark Pomar. He worked with Radio Free Europe and Voice of America in the ‘80s and ‘90s and he served as executive director of the Board for International Broadcasting.
Today, he’s a senior fellow at the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin. Thanks for joining us today!
MARK POMAR, GUEST: Well, thank you.
REICHARD: I’d like to start with a brief history of these international media outlets we taxpayers fund. Why do we need them? How did they get started?
POMAR: Well, they started during times of crises specifically during wars. Voice of America, which broadcasts in many different languages—up to 40 languages—started during World War II, several months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. And it was critically important to communicate to the world during World War II. And after the war there were some voices expressed in Congress about maybe closing it down, the war is over, we succeeded. But the Cold War started up shortly thereafter and the Voice of America was seen as an important instrument for continuing to broadcast the American message, to explain American policy, and to make sure that our values are heard and understood throughout the world.
Radio Free Europe also comes out of war, but this time it’s the Cold War and it was started in 1950. Radio Liberty in 1953 and they were directed exclusively at the communist East Block, as we used to call it. Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and other countries. And the idea behind it was really fascinating. The idea behind it was we would create a radio station as if it were broadcasting in the country to which we broadcast. In other words, the Polish service of Radio Free Europe would be a free Polish service situated in Munich but broadcasting as though it were situated in Warsaw. And there was a lot of understanding in the Truman years, the Eisenhower years that this was an extremely important way by which we would help the people in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union get information and understand what was going on in the world.
REICHARD: I see you spent a decade working for many of these outlets, and you did it during critical times in history for the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. How important a role would you say Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty played during that time?
POMAR: Well, let me briefly tell you that when I started in 1982, the height of the Cold War, we were being jammed. Radio Liberty had been bombed in 1981 by we presume security services of Eastern Europe. By 1992 with the fall of communism, Voice of America and Radio Liberty were welcomed in Eastern Europe, given offices, praised by democratically elected leaders. I attended the 40th anniversary of Radio Liberty in Moscow. Gorbachov came. The who’s who of the Russian sort of democratic movements came. We were honored everywhere. So in the 12 years that I worked, from the middle of the Cold War to the end, that role was recognized throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
REICHARD: Of course, things have changed, haven’t they. The media landscape is much different today. So how do these outlets work now? Is their foreign policy role as critical today as it was then?
POMAR: Well, in some ways I think it’s even more critical. But they work differently. Shortwave radio broadcasting is gone. In other words, the delivery of the product has changed tremendously. And as it should, of course. The challenges are different. We face a hostile world. We also face something we did not have in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. We have a very aggressive China. Chinese media, international media, the largest in the world—bigger than the U.S., bigger than the U.S. plus BBC plus Europeans. And they are very aggressive in making sure that the Chinese version of the world and their views are being heard throughout Africa, Latin America, Middle East, you name it.
We have an aggressive Russia that has RT and Sputnik and is very, very aggressive in terms of promoting its message, its views, its anti-Americanism. I mean, something that I would hope all listeners to this program realize is that level of anti-Americanism throughout the world, which we somehow have to contend with. And we don’t join them in being propagandistic, but we have to find ways in which we communicate who and what we are as a country and as a people.
And the challenges were different in my time. We had communism, we had a Soviet Union that was waging a cold war against us. Now the situation is different but it’s no less dangerous.
REICHARD: You’ve mentioned this in a way, but I wonder how does the rest of the world view American-funded media outlets?
POMAR: Well, it depends very much where. We only broadcast not to any country that is technically our ally and has an open system. There’s really little reason to broadcast—although, worldwide English can be heard everywhere. But, generally, you broadcast to areas that are troubled, that are a foreign policy concern to the United States, and countries that may have very little access to any other form of media.
Just to give an example, while Poland was communist and while we broadcast Polish service of VOA, Polish service of Radio Free Europe, once Poland became part of NATO and is an open country and you can buy and listen to anything you wish, it makes no sense for us to broadcast. So, there is that criteria. It is strategic broadcasting, if you would. There’s a strategic component to it, but that does not mean that it’s propagandistic. Quite the contrary. The strategy being we have a dangerous world around us. We have a world with which we have to interact and a world with which we want to trade, a world with which we want to have good relations.
And one of the ways is to reach the public in those countries with some sense of what and who the United States is and what we stand for and what our culture is and what we care about. A lot of the programs of VOA and Radio Free Europe were not political. They were music, they were film, they were religion. Why? Because this was communism and it was an atheistic country and there was no religion to be talked about. We broadcast church services on VOA and Radio Liberty on holidays because that was a strategic thing to do at that time. You wouldn’t necessarily do it now because religion is quite open in Russia. But you may find it very important in China or you may find it very important in parts of the Middle East.
REICHARD: My final question. You mention politics in that answer. The Trump administration took issue with the way Voice of America covered the coronavirus story, particularly with regard to China’s role in it. His opponents think he’s turning international news outlets into a propaganda machine to benefit himself. What do you make of it?
POMAR: Trump is not the first to come in and try to fire. There have been others who have tried to do this. Well, I can’t comment on the Chinese program for the simple reason that I don’t know Chinese and I did not follow it. I do participate on the Russian TV VOA and Radio Liberty as a guest. And so I’m on and I do follow their programs. I think they cover it very, very professionally.
There’s an old adage at VOA and I remember that when I was there. VOA as an organization does not comment. It is not pro. It is not anti. In other words, the Voice of America is not any one administration’s voice. The administration has a say. It can nominate people to run it. But it’s supposed to represent the diversity of the United States, not any one particular party.
REICHARD: Mark Pomar is the former assistant director of the Russian Service at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the former director of the USSR Division at the Voice of America. He also served as executive director of the Board for International Broadcasting. Thanks so much for joining us today!
POMAR: Well, I’m delighted and I wish you all the very best. Thank you.
MARY REICHARD: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Ethiopia plans to fill dam reservoir—We start today here in Africa.
AUDIO: [Man speaking]
Ethiopia declared Friday that it would start filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam next month. That’s when the rainy season starts, bringing more water to the Nile River. Ethiopia’s goal is to become a major power exporter, boosting the economy and bringing its population out of poverty. But Egypt still opposes the project. Egypt depends on the Nile for 90 percent of its water and worries the dam would restrict that supply.
Tensions between the two countries have been rising ever since Ethiopia started work on the dam in 2011. Egypt says the countries should reach an agreement before filling the dam. But the countries remain locked in a political standoff.
Both Egypt and Ethiopia have hinted at military steps to protect their interests.
Tunisians protest unemployment—Next we head north to Tunisia.
AUDIO: [Sound of protests]
Protests in the southern part of the country turned violent over the weekend. Crowds blocked roads with burning tires and pelted security forces with stones.
For weeks, demonstrators have demanded officials provide jobs in the oil and gas sector. At first they were peaceful, but then police arrested a lead spokesman for the protesters. In response, several demonstrators attacked a police station with Molotov cocktails. Police arrested 10 people and used tear gas to disperse the crowds.
Ever since the Arab Spring uprising in 2011, Tunisians have demanded greater work opportunities and a more robust economy. In 2017, hundreds of people staged a sit-in. The protest ended when the government pledged to invest almost $28 million dollars in the region. But Tunisians say the government has failed to fulfill that promise. About 30 percent of people in the area are unemployed.
England stabbing—Next we head to Europe.
Three people died and three others were injured in a knife attack in England on Saturday. One eyewitness said the attacker walked into a park and began yelling.
AUDIO: And I saw a massive knife in his hand, probably five inches minimum. And then he turned and started looking towards us, and that’s when I started shouting run.
Police arrested the attacker, a 25 year old man from Libya. Officials say he was operating alone. They labeled the assault an act of terrorism.
The town held a minute of silence on Monday to honor the victims.
Solar eclipse—And finally, we end today in Asia.
AUDIO: [Sound of crowd]
Crowds in Taiwan gathered to watch the solar eclipse Sunday. They peered through special telescopes and homemade pinhole boxes as the moon slowly inched in front of the sun. Its black disc covered almost all of the sun, but left a bright “ring of fire” around the rim.
AUDIO: [Girl speaking]
One student said she was excited to see the phenomenon, because it won’t be visible in Taiwan again for almost 200 years.
The ring of fire eclipse was visible in most of Asia and Africa. It also coincided with the longest day of the year, the summer solstice.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.
NICK EICHER: The game of bridge isn’t child’s play. The card game requires sharp memory, great judgment, strategic thinking. It’s a game to grow in mastery over a lifetime.
But some people are ahead of that curve. Way ahead.
Andrew Chen has always loved to solve puzzles. That aspect of bridge drew him to the game.
Chen recently earned the title “Life Master” from American Contract Bridge League. That its highest honor.
The organization said typically it takes decades of playing at accredited clubs and tournaments to earn the title. But Chen pulled it off in just two years.
And that’s pretty remarkable, but not as remarkable as this:
He earned the title just three days after he turned 8 years old!
Of course that’s a record, but wow, life master when you haven’t really mastered life yet?
REICHARD: He’ll learn.
EICHER: It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, June 24th. You’re listening to the The World and Everything in It and we’re so glad to have you along with us today. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next, how archaeology’s been affected by the response to COVID-19.
A watchdog group in Israel reports at least 100 archaeological sites in the Holy Land have been vandalized or plundered. The group cites reduced security as part of the reason. And now many educational programs that conduct archaeological digs are canceled due to travel restrictions. WORLD reporter Paul Butler spoke with a couple of archaeologists to find out what’s at stake.
STRIPLING: My name is Dr. Scott Stripling. I am the director of excavations for the Associates for Biblical Research, currently excavating in ancient Shiloh…
PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: ABR’s Scott Stripling’s been an archaeologist for more than 20 years. Since 20-17 he’s managed its excavations at the Biblical site of Shiloh—where the Tabernacle stood before Solomon built the temple.
STRIPLING: Normally I would be in this role right now and I would have awakened at 3:45 in the morning and had breakfast at four and loaded the bus at 4:45 and arrived at Shiloh.
Under normal circumstances, Stripling would be overseeing one of the largest archaeological teams in Israel, up to 100 people.
STRIPLING: You know, the day just never ends. We take the excavations through our protocols with a grid, then we take it through a final phase of wet sifting where we wash the material to make sure we’re not missing any small fines. We do pottery reading and object analysis, and then we’ve got team meetings and then lectures in the evening and you get up and do it all again the next day.
But earlier this spring, Stripling had to make a difficult decision.
STRIPLING: Ultimately we did have to pull the plug on our season. We’ve not had to do this since the Second Intifada many years ago when we had to cancel several seasons.
Reports of vandalism at dozens of archaeological sites across Israel and Jordan have many concerned. While his site at Shiloh is well guarded, many others are not. It’s one of the unforeseen results of the international pandemic.
STRIPLING: We have 30,000 archaeological sites in Israel and each one is important in its own way. And so you can’t undo vandalism because it messes up the stratigraphy of the site.
Stratigraphy is the layered deposits of things like pottery, tools, and bones. Each layer corresponds to a particular time in history. Archaeologists are very careful to not contaminate those strata as they dig. Vandalism disrupts those layers.
STRIPLING: As an archaeologist, I get one bite at the apple. I can’t go back and replicate the experiment. We’ve got to do it right the first time. And so once the stratigraphy is lost, then you know, there’s not a whole lot we can do with that material.
Each year, many colleges and universities send their students to do field work. According to Stripling, this summer’s cancelled season may have long reaching effects on these programs.
SCOTT STRIPLING: In archaeology as a whole, I definitely expect to see some digs that will not start up again, and even some archaeological programs that are possibly not even going to continue.
While the news is grim, it’s not all bad.
GIBSON: My name is Shimon Gibson. I’m professor of history and archaeology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Shimon Gibson has been digging things up in Israel since his childhood. He sees a few silver linings in the summer cancelations.
SHIMON GIBSON: It means we can get cracking on publications because all our ecological projects, consists of the digging and then there’s the post excavation where we sort all the pottery and all the fines and everything, and we record everything, catalog materials. And then there’s the third part, which is that the publication.
Gibson maintains there’s another benefit of the near complete shut-down of digs and tourism in the Holy Land: It gives Israel and its neighbors a chance to reconsider the level of access granted to valuable cultural sites.
SHIMON GIBSON: There’s a lot of destruction, unfortunately, that, that occurs from masses of tourists visiting these archeological sites such as Massada, or in Jordan, Petra, which has become a kind of sort of ghost city. So maybe this is the time for the local authorities to think about conservation. Looking at, updating, putting in teams conservationists to preserve ancient crumbling walls and that sort of thing.
ABR’s Scott Stripling has similar feelings about conservation:
STRIPLING: God left us a specific revelation in the Bible. He left us a general revelation in nature, but I think there’s a third witness and that’s the material culture that was left behind. As a believer, to be able to excavate sites that are so important to the biblical record, and then to take on that responsibility of properly, scientifically, doing that and then publishing it properly so that there is a record, for future generations of what God did in history.
And for Stripling, that record is crucial in the battle for the truth.
STRIPLING: For the skeptic then who maybe has been taught that the Bible is not trustworthy, it also becomes apologetic because they can see that the Bible talks about it. And then we have a material culture that’s very consistent with what we would expect to see. It’s what I call verisimilitude. You read it in the text and then you find what you would expect to find in the material culture.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Paul Butler.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Wednesday, June 24th. 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. The times, they are a-changin’. Bob Dylan wrote that back in 1964 and it sounds still fresh today. Because times are always changing.
WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney hears the still small voice within all of that change.
JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: I’m old enough to remember when flower children roamed the earth, singing a song about humanity’s new dawn:
We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion-year-old carbon,
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.
We know how that turned out.
Everyone seems to agree that we’re on the edge of seismic change, and the culture we knew will never be the same. The unknown has overtaken us; once again, Utopia is canceled.
Here are some things we probably won’t be going back to, or at least not any time soon: cheap air travel; huge sporting events; restaurant meeting rooms; traditional higher education; urbanization; mega churches; and the careless expectation of a life without risk.
But history is marked with One Way signs at every major intersection. In the beginning we had the perfect life, capped by communion with God himself, and we threw it away. We can’t get back to the garden. Thousands of years ago humans used their longevity to increase in violence and wickedness. Post-flood, we can’t get back to 900-year lifespans. On the plains of Shinar humans employed their technology and communication skills to aspire to the heavens, only to be confounded and scattered through the earth. We can’t get back to Babel.
Human ambitions have collapsed with some regularity, but humanity always claws its way out of the ruins and builds the remains into something new, both for better and for worse. In every case of collapse, we can’t go back. And ultimately that’s to the good, because the God of history is leading us forward. Trying to get back to the garden—an ideal state of harmony and plenty—tends to breed just the opposite.
That’s not to say the future looks rosy. As government waxes in crisis mode, freedom wanes, and yet—the bigger government grows, the more incompetent, leaving gaps to fill. We may be headed for a more controlled economy, but an enterprising, entrepreneurial spirit is buried deep in American DNA. Here are some things that are likely to survive, and even thrive, in the near future: homeschooling, home cooking, teleconferencing and telemedicine, crafts and trades, extended families.
And we may see a smaller church, but also—God willing—a leaner, more energized church whose resources are pared down to the Holy Spirit alone. That’s all the 120 believers in an upper room on the morning of Pentecost had, and they remade history.
“New normal” is a term I’ve come to dislike intensely. It’s said with a sigh of lowered expectations. But God never takes away without also giving. We can’t go back to the garden, but he’s building us a city. In between is a pause—a very pregnant pause. What will we do with it?
I’m Janie B. Cheaney.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: a moving account of a memorial service for a veteran Mississippi law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty.
And, financial pressures are forcing some Christian schools to close. We’ll tell you which ones are feeling the most pain.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.
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