MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
A big win for religious education from the U.S. Supreme Court.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Also today, Washington Wednesday: We’ll talk about American troops leaving Germany.
Plus one dance teacher’s mission to change the culture of ballet.
And WORLD Founder Joel Belz says the media’s claim that remote learning “doesn’t work” has it all wrong.
REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, July 1st. 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 Kent Covington has the news
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Fauci warns U.S. COVID-19 cases could hit 100k per day » Dr. Anthony Fauci says U.S. coronavirus cases could grow to 100,000 a day if Americans don’t start following public health advice.
The country’s top infectious disease expert told members of a Senate panel that too many people have behaved as though the pandemic is over.
FAUCI: A lot of people came out on Memorial Day, which was about four weeks ago and were out on the beaches and in the bars. Right now, we are seeing the result of that in Florida and in Texas and in certain other locations.
Asked to forecast the outcome of recent surges in some states, Fauci said he can’t make an accurate prediction but believes it will be “very disturbing.”
Regarding a coronavirus vaccine, Fauci said there are no guarantees, but he is cautiously optimistic.
FAUCI: Again working with the companies and the investment made by this Congress, hopefully there will be doses available by the beginning of next year.
He also said he believes it’s possible to safely return kids to school in much of the country. And he said that’s important to avoid the “unintended consequences” of keeping them home.
EU reopens borders to 14 countries but not to U.S. » The European Union is reopening its borders today to travelers from more than a dozen countries, but the United States is not on that list. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Southern EU countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain are desperate to entice summertime visitors to breathe life into their damaged tourism industries. And American tourists make up a big slice of the summer tourism market.
But with the recent rise in U.S. coronavirus cases, the EU will continue turning away American travelers for at least another two weeks.
Citizens from 14 countries, including Canada, will be allowed to visit EU member states. Among the other major nations not on that list are Russia, Brazil, and India.
China was also left out. The EU said China is “subject to confirmation of reciprocity”—meaning Beijing must lift all restrictions on European citizens.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
White House: Trump has now been briefed on alleged Russian bounty » The White House says President Trump is now in the loop about intelligence that Russian military operatives may have offered to pay bounties to militants in Afghanistan for killing U.S. troops.
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany Tuesday had strong words for whoever leaked the intel and blasted The New York Times for publishing it.
MCENANY: This report makes it more difficult to come to a consensus on this matter, to verify intelligence. And number two, this level of controversy and discord plays directly into the hands of Russia and unfortunately, serves their interest.
The White House maintains that the president was never briefed on the intelligence until now, explaining the intel was unverified and that some intelligence officials had their doubts about it.
McEnany said, “Make no mistake. This president will always protect American troops.”
House Democrats received a briefing on the matter Tuesday at the White House. And Majority Leader Steny Hoyer complained that President Trump is wrongly dismissing the report.
HOYER: The president called this a hoax publicly. Nothing in the briefing that we have just received led me to believe it is a hoax.
Senate Republicans who attended a separate briefing largely defended the president, echoing the White House’s argument that the intelligence was unverified.
China enacts Hong Kong “national security” law » Twenty-three years after the Chinese government pledged to give Hong Kong 50 years of autonomy, the mainland has stripped the former British colony of its freedoms.
China has now enacted a contentious so-called “national security” law that could quash dissent. Rather than going through the Hong Kong legislature, Beijing imposed the law. It will criminalize what it calls subversive and secessionist activities.
Protesters again demonstrated against the law on Tuesday…
AUDIO: [Sound of protest]
But authorities quickly cracked down. This is the sound from a shopping center atrium as police in riot gear closed in on protesters.
The chilling effect on free speech is already evident. A major pro-democracy group disbanded after its founding members quit over fears of the new law. And Hong Kong National Front, a political party advocating the territory’s independence, also disbanded its local office but said its divisions in Taiwan and the U.K. will continue its work.
Carl Reiner dies at 98 » Comedy legend Carl Reiner has died at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 98 years old.
After working with comedian Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows in the 1950s, Reiner wrote the first 13 episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
He also acted in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and the latest Oceans Eleven movies. He’s heard here in a sketch called “The 2000-Year-Old Man.”
SKETCH: In the history of man, nobody’s ever lived more than 167 years, as a man from Peru would claim to be. But you claim to be 2,000. Yes, I’ll be—I’m not yet—I’ll be 2,000 October 16th.
He was married to his wife, Estelle, for 64 years until her death in 2008. They had three children who survive them, including actor-director Rob Reiner.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: a Supreme Court win for school choice.
Plus, Joel Belz on unfair criticism of distance learning.
This is The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: It’s Wednesday, the 1st of July, 2020. You’re listening to The World and Everything in It. Thanks for joining us! Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. The U.S. Supreme Court handed down two opinions on Tuesday.
First, a victory for the free exercise of religion.
In a 5-4 ruling, the majority justices gave private religious schools more access to state financial aid.
EICHER: Five years ago, Montana gave a modest tax credit to people who donated to a scholarship program. The program made no distinction between secular or religious schools. It was open to all.
The Montana Supreme Court said that violated the state constitution, because families could use their scholarship money to pay tuition at religious schools. Soon after, the state shut down the whole program.
REICHARD: Three mothers with students benefiting from the scholarship argued the state violated their right to free exercise of religion.
The majority justices agreed. The U.S. Constitution reigns superior to state law in matters of free exercise. And parents have the right to direct their children’s religious upbringing.
During oral argument in January, Deputy Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall made that winning argument in support of the mothers. Stillwater is the name of one of the Christian schools.
WALL: Everybody concedes that if all the parents in this program had wanted to choose secular schools, there’d be no basis for the state court’s ruling. The scholarship program would still exist. It’s only because some parents said, “I want to send my kids to schools like Stillwater…”
EICHER: The opinion cited the bigoted origins of state amendments that block funding for religious groups. The so-called “Blaine Amendments” came about during a period of anti-Catholic fervor during the 19th century.
The majority opinion says the U.S. Constitution “condemns discrimination against religious schools and the families whose children attend them.”
REICHARD: The four liberal justices dissented, writing that when the state got rid of the entire program, the religious and nonreligious were treated equally. Therefore, no discrimination.
But Justice Samuel Alito quoted French journalist Anatole France in his concurrence. The dissent’s solution, he wrote, is like saying, “the law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”
EICHER: This ruling does not throw out all state Blaine Amendments. It’s more narrow than that, applying to educational funding. The court is apparently chipping-away at the amendments on a case-by-case basis.
In 2017, it threw out Missouri’s Blaine Amendment as it applied to generally available state grants.
School choice advocates cheered Tuesday’s ruling, saying it removes a major obstacle to similar programs in other states.
It’s also the third time in the last 20 years the court has ruled in favor of a school-choice program.
REICHARD: The second ruling is a win for the travel website Booking.com.
The majority eight justices rejected the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s argument that the phrase “dotcom” is too generic to trademark. The high court says “booking” put together with “dotcom” can be trademarked, so long as the public perceives it as a non-generic, brand name.
You can hear the eventual ruling in this from Justice Stephen Breyer during oral argument in May:
BREYER: You can have a trademark that’s an address. 1418 35th street or something. You can have a trademark that’s a telephone number. So why can’t you have a trademark that is a dot-com?
EICHER: Oddly, Justice Breyer was the dissenter. He worries a lot of generic word trademarks will lead to a monopoly of useful and easily remembered domains.
Other businesses such as Wine.com and Cars.com are expected to trademark their names now as well.
Eight opinions remain for the court to hand down before it breaks for the summer.
MARY REICHARD: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: Washington Wednesday.
NICK EICHER: Last month, President Trump made a surprise announcement about the longstanding U.S. military presence in Europe. Here he is talking about the decision last week.
TRUMP: We’re going to be reducing Germany very substantially, down to about 25,000 troops. We actually have 52,000, but we’ll be moving it down to about 25,000. Germany’s paying a very small fraction of what they’re supposed to be paying. They should be paying 2 percent and they’re paying a little bit more than 1 percent, depending on how you calculate. You could also calculate that they’re paying less than 1 percent.
But if you assume they’re paying 1 percent, that’s a tremendous delinquency. Let’s use that word. Delinquency. So, we’re going to be reducing our forces in Germany. Some will be coming home. Some will be going to other places. But Poland would be one of those places. Other places in Europe.
REICHARD: The mention of Poland wasn’t coincidental. President Trump made the comments during a news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda—the first foreign leader to visit Washington since the coronavirus lockdown began in March.
EICHER: The president’s announcement rattled some NATO allies. Late last week, Defense Secretary Mark Esper traveled to Belgium to meet with NATO’s Secretary General. According to a Pentagon statement after the meeting, Esper reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to NATO and the importance of working together to address security challenges.
But that’s done little to calm fear in Europe, which views U.S. troops as the best protection against Russia.
Joining us now to talk about it is Will Inboden. He served at the State Department and the National Security Council under former President George W. Bush. He’s now executive director of the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin.
Professor, thank you for your time today and good morning to you.
WILL INBODEN, GUEST: Good morning to you, Nick. Good to be with you.
EICHER: Let’s begin with the reasons we have U.S. troops in Germany in the first place. Our presence there started, as you know, after World War II. The reasons then were pretty obvious. But what about now? Why do we still have a military presence in Germany and elsewhere in Europe?
INBODEN: Well, a key thing to appreciate, Nick, is we have the troops there primarily for America’s benefit. They certainly benefit our allies as well, but they’re there because every president since [Dwight] Eisenhower has judged it in our national interest to have a presence there in Germany. It’s the nerve center for a lot of our force projection into Africa and the Middle East. It’s a jumping off point for that as well as a reception point for returning troops, especially the wounded ones.
It played a very important part in solidifying the political and intelligence aspects of our alliances throughout Europe on the continent. And it certainly serves as a bulwark against potential Russian aggression. President Reagan had a great line saying we keep troops over there so we don’t have to fight over here, referring to keeping our troops in Europe so we don’t have to fight on our home shores here in the United States.
EICHER: And we’ve heard that argument from President Bush in fighting al-Qaeda and other Islamic terror groups better that the battlefield is overseas than here at home. But the president said he’s not planning a full-scale retreat; he plans to move some of the troops out of Germany into Poland, or possibly elsewhere in Europe. Isn’t there a benefit to that?
INBODEN: So, even though I’m overall quite critical of a lot of President Trump’s foreign policy, I want to be fair here and say that there is an argument to be made for bolstering the American troop presence in Poland. And there even can be an argument made for adjusting or drawing it down a bit in Germany.
My problem is the way that President Trump went about this. He did it without any consultation with our military leadership who by and large opposes this. He did it without any consultation with our German allies or other NATO allies. And he seems to have done it more out of a fit of petulance rather than any strategic rationale.
This announcement came right after German Chancellor Merkel said she wasn’t going to be coming to the U.S. for the G-7 Summit primarily because of the coronavirus. And so out of retribution, President Trump decides to do this pretty abrupt troop move. And so that’s the concern is that there’s not a strategic rationale for this.
And then, well, the good reason to put them into Poland would be it’s even closer to the Russian border. Poland would be a potential site—very vulnerable to Russian aggression. But he seems to be doing it more because of a clumsy effort to interfere in the Polish election process there, to bolster the Law and Justice Party who are his favorite ones by dangling the increase in U.S. troops there. So, it’s the reasons why and the way he’s gone about this that I think is very concerning.
EICHER: Still, let’s talk about the benefit of having American troops closer to the Russian border. The Russians say, of course, they don’t want that. What about the fallout with the Russisans?
INBODEN: So, well, it’s hard to predict, but, again, I will say if the United States is trying to cater to Russia’s whims, that’s our first mistake. OK? Every president since George H.W. Bush—Clinton, then Bush 43, who I worked for, then Obama, and now Trump—has tried to be deferential to Russian desires, and we’ve largely gotten hostility from Russia instead.
Most recently these awful and seems to be verified reports about Russian intelligence paying bounties to the Taliban to kill Americans. So, I’m not much bothered. I’m almost of a mind of Putin doesn’t like it, it probably is a good move, OK? That said, you don’t want to make any gestures if you don’t have a strategic rationale for it and the credibility to back it up.
But let’s remember this. Let’s take a step back. Putin sees America’s allies as a source of our strength. And one of his strategic goals is to do whatever he can to destruct our alliances. And so the fact that he is applauding pulling our troops away from Germany in the way that we’ve done it to humiliate Chancellor Merkel does play right into Putin’s hands. So we need to—that should tell us something about the way it’s done was not a good idea.
EICHER: Of course, Chancellor Merkel hasn’t been altogether cooperative. Late last year she said that Germany would increase its defense spending to 2 percent by the early decade of the 2030s. Do you think that with the president’s action that perhaps Germany might speed up the timeline?
INBODEN: It’s hard to predict. And, first, I want to say that every U.S. president since Eisenhower has also been frustrated at West Germany, now Germany, for not paying for its own defense. So this is a legitimate, long-standing American concern.
But the way to get Germany to pay more for its defense is not to jerk them around like this, not to disrespect them, not to fail to consult with them, not to try to blackmail them. And this will play right into the hands of the left-wing in Germany that doesn’t want American troops there anyway and would rather be pivoting closer to Russia. So, yeah, if our goal is to get Germany to contribute more to its defense budget, which is a goal I share, this is not the right way to go about it.
I think an interesting contrast is with, again, the way President Reagan handled his relations with allies is when Reagan comes into office, he valued our allies. He made a priority of increasing the American defense budget and then once we started doing that, he went quietly—not publicly to humiliate them—but quietly to allies like West Germany, like the United Kingdom, like Japan and said, hey, we’re anteing up on our side. The United States is doing more and we need you to do more as well. And his counterparts, those allies responded and they increased their defense budgets pretty dramatically. So, that’s how you do it. That’s how you get allies to chip in more.
EICHER: Will, before I let you go, let’s jump quickly to the Middle East. Do you think this change in direction will have any effect on our interests in the Middle East?
INBODEN: Potentially. The first is, like I said, our bases in Germany are the jumping off points for a lot of our presence in the Middle East in so far as we are drawing down those capabilities in Germany. And they can’t all just naturally be transferred to Poland. I mean, these are decades of infrastructure, of systems, of interoperability and so on and so forth. But going back to how does this look from Moscow, remember Putin’s geopolitical goal is to separate the United States from Europe, disrupt us with our allies there, and push the United States out of the Middle East and make Russia the dominant outside power in the Middle East. That’s why he did his aggressive play in Syria, among others.
And so, yeah, I think that this is of a piece with reduced American influence in the Middle East as well. And we were due for a recalibration there. I’m not saying that the last 20 years of American Middle East policy are an unmitigated success by any means. But as I often say, policymaking is the art of choosing from a bad set of options, and I worry that we’re going from bad options now in the Middle East to worse.
EICHER: Will Inboden is a former member of the George W. Bush administration and now heads the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin. Professor, thanks for joining us today.
INBODEN: Thank you, Nick. I enjoyed it.
MARY REICHARD: This was not one of those delivery videos some expectant mothers hope for.
Susan Anderson’s husband was driving them to a birthing center in Florida. And well, at least she made it to the parking lot.
Sandra Loviana is one of the midwives who ran out to help. A doorbell camera caught all the action.
AUDIO: It’s okay, it’s okay. I’m a midwife. She’s going to have a baby!
Mom was standing up when everything happened quickly, so quickly that the midwife literally caught the baby and then handed the baby girl to mom.
AUDIO: [Baby cries]
Both mom and baby Julia are doing well. Whew. I think that’s a super power!
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, July 1st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Up next on The World and Everything in It: the power of dance.
A famously beautiful and precise form of it is ballet.
That precision has also given the art a reputation for demanding perfection at all costs. The quest for perfection can turn into problems for some.
EICHER: WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg met a ballerina in Salt Lake City, Utah who is working to change that. Here’s her story.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG: The Rise Up School of Dance has been closed since March. This is the first week students are back.
AUDIO: [Sound of ballet music]
RUESCH: Hi, Alydia!
Ballerina and teacher Alyssa Ruesch greets her students at the door with bright blue eyes, a big smile and a temperature check.
RUESCH: Nate, are you or anyone in your family experiencing symptoms of COVID-19? Fever….
It’s a hot day so the studio’s fans are running on full blast. This is an intermediate ballet class. The girls have come dressed in black leotards and white tights. The lone boy wears basketball shorts with tights.
The two-hour long practice doesn’t begin at the ballet barre. It starts with Ruesch and her four students sitting in a circle on the shiny black dance mat.
RUESCH: So I would love to hear something that you are loving about your life right now and a challenge that you are facing.
Alyssa Ruesch very intentionally starts class this way.
RUESCH: So in a normal ballet class, I have been told verbatim, leave your life and your feelings at the door. That is really hard when you’re struggling. And it’s just really prevalent in ballet culture.
There are several aspects of ballet culture—especially elite training culture—that Ruesch is trying to change in her studio.
Growing up, she loved her ballet classes.
RUESCH: I had a really positive experience with ballet. It was like this amazing gift and it was very life giving…
Then Ruesch went to university on a full-ride academic and ballet scholarship. She began to realize her experience wasn’t as common.
During her freshman year, teachers pushed Ruesch to perfect her turnout… that’s where a ballerina opens their hips 180 degrees from their body.
RUESCH: If my turnout didn’t improve, I wasn’t going to be allowed to continue in the program…
So Ruesch went to work. But she worked so hard that she developed shin splints, which turned into multiple stress fractures. But for Ruesch the worst part was seeing how the push for perfection was affecting her classmates.
RUESCH: I was coming to see that my peers were really, really struggling emotionally and mentally from damage done in their training. We had a number of attempted suicides, and within a pretty short period of time.
Just by the nature of how difficult and demanding ballet is, Ruesch says unhealthy habits can make their way into the studio.
RUESCH: There’s a lot of shaming that can happen about weight or your feet or your legs or your build. And then to be comparing yourself to your peers constantly and then comparing yourself to what you think you should be constantly.
Alyssa Ruesch wanted to teach ballet professionally after college, but she only wanted to teach the best parts of it.
After her sophomore year, she asked her pastor if she could teach free ballet lessons at their church on Saturdays. He said yes.
RUESCH: I wanted to see if we could take ballet and make it something that I hadn’t seen it be before. We had, like, 11 kids that summer. And by the next spring, we had 35. And by the next spring, we had 60. And by the next spring we had 80.
Today, Alyssa Ruesch is 25. Besides free weekend classes, she trains students during the week at her professional studio.
BALLET MUSIC, RUESCH: A 5, a 6, a 7.
After sharing time, the students take their places at the barre. Ruesch guides them through exercises for the next hour.
RUESCH: Oh those toes were so good. Yes, Sol, that was right! And a 1, 2, 3 closed 5th.
One student is a bit hunched over and relaxed. Reusch encourages her to tighten, extend her arms, lift her chest and bend even deeper into her plies.
REUSCH: See if you can make your plies look super generous. So it’s not a stingy kind of thing. It’s very abundant and gracious as you go.
I could say, extend your arms a little further. But if I say, Be generous, they’re attaching that movement to a character trait that we really do hope they’ll develop.
While Ruesch wants the studio to be a positive place, she also wants to push students. It can be challenging to accomplish both.
RUESCH: So for as much as we’re really positive, and are really trying to lift kids up, we’re also very honest. If I’m going to be a little more harsh or be critical, it’s going to come from a place of really knowing the kid and being really thoughtful about it.
RUESCH: That’s a good one to finish on.
At the end of class, the dancers sit in the circle again. This time each student tells another dancer what they saw them do well.
Fourteen-year-old Nate has been training here for the last three years.
NATE: I really just enjoy having the structure, and I feel like it’s a really good way to express myself.
Nate says it can be tough being a middle school boy who loves the arts, music, and drama. Ballet has helped him like who he is.
NATE: I feel like I’m a lot more confident in myself and just like how I look and just everything about myself. It really helped me accept who I was. And all of like my differences.
And that, Alyssa Ruesch says is the power of the art of ballet.
RUESCH: If they can leave more confident and more willing to put themselves out there, that makes a huge difference. And hopefully they also leave with fabulous technique.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg in Salt Lake City, Utah.
NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, July 1st. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD founder Joel Belz now on remote learning—and how to be a shrewd consumer of news.
JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: How would you respond if the highly regarded Wall Street Journal—in a lengthy front-page feature—proclaimed that you had utterly failed to meet the hardest challenge of your life?
That’s pretty much what the Journal did in mid-June with a big headline—quote—“The Results Are In for Remote Learning: It Didn’t Work.” End quote. The subhead on the second page stressed the same point: “Remote Learning Falls Short.”
Of course, not all “remote learning” is alike. And for thousands of readers who are also loyal homeschoolers, the article came across as a careless slur against a tried-and-true educational model. Wall Street Journal reporters Tawnell Hobbs and Lee Hawkins should have stressed that their focus was almost exclusively on the last-minute “remote learning” schools had to use following mandatory closures. That’s an important distinction.
What happened between February and June of this year was hardly a fair test of remote learning. Cobbled together by educators who had never spent 10 minutes leading any form of “distance education,” the project was set up for failure before it got off the ground. Many of the participants—both teachers and parents—had no confidence in the mass experiment they had to conduct.
Austin Beutner, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, illustrated this point. The authors quoted him saying, “We all know that there’s no substitute for learning in a school setting, and many students are struggling and falling far behind where they should be.” End quote.
So if “we all know” this, what is the discussion about? And doesn’t early June strike us all as a bit early to be evaluating an academic semester that hadn’t even ended yet?
As it is, the Hobbs and Hawkins feature includes precious little hard data from which the reader can begin to form opinions. When it does, the data prove pretty soft. An Oregon-based nonprofit called NWEA projects students will return to school with roughly 70 percent of the typical learning gains in reading and less than 50 percent in math, based on preliminary research. But words like “preliminary” and “projections” seem a little squishy to serve as foundations for headlines declaring “the results are in.”
Why does it matter? Because, for a variety of reasons, remote learning will play a bigger and bigger role in the years ahead, particularly for WORLD readers and listeners. That will be true in public school settings, traditional Christian schools, and home schools.
There will be problems along the way—and some serious. But there’s no reason to let that number be unduly inflated by overly negative reports in The Wall Street Journal.
I’m Joel Belz.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: We’ll tell you about community policing ideas that work.
And, we’ll talk to a Christian doctor who says what was once considered medical fact is now “hate speech.”
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.
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