MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
The economic shutdown cost jobs which made it hard for people to pay rent. The government stepped in to help, and in the process did some other damage.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Also a new rule from the Department of Education ties funding for universities to upholding the Constitution. We’ll talk about that.
Plus struggles facing Palestinian Christians.
And World commentator Les Sillars on redemption.
REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, September 15th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Good morning!
REICHARD: Now the news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Hurricane Sally set to slam Gulf Coast today » Hurricane Sally will make landfall on the Gulf Coast today, quite possibly as a Category 2 storm, packing winds of more than a hundred miles per hour.
Storm tracks on Monday placed Gulfport, Mississippi in the storm’s crosshairs. But communities from New Orleans to Pensacola, Florida are bracing for impact.
Dave Roberts with the National Hurricane Center said storm surge is a major concern.
ROBERTS: Excess of 7 feet up to possibly 11 feet, and that’s within the storm surge area. Further toward the east, you’re still looking at 5 to 8, all the way up to the Mississippi-Alabama border.
He said even parts of the Florida Panhandle could see 4 to 6 feet.
As of this morning, Sally is spinning just off the Gulf Coast and could officially roar ashore sometime around 7 p.m. Central Time.
Sally’s arrival comes less than three weeks after Laura struck southwestern Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane.
Trump visits California amid wildfire crisis » President Trump met with fire officials and lawmakers in California on Monday as wildfires continue to rage along the West Coast.
Speaking in suburban Sacramento, the president praised first responders and Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom.
TRUMP: Together we’ll keep the people safe. I want to thank the governor for the job he’s done. We’ve had great coordination, great relationship. I know we come from different sides of the planet, but we actually have a very good relationship; good man.
But the president blamed poor forest management in California, Oregon, and Washington for the wildfires.
Governor Newsom conceded that—quote—“we have not done justice on our forest management.” But he said the government can’t ignore climate change.
NEWSOM: We come from a perspective, humbly, where we submit the science is in and observed evidence is self-evident that climate change is real. And that is exacerbating this.
The fires have reportedly charred more than 3 million acres and destroyed some 4,000 structures in California.
Police continue search for gunman in shooting of deputies » Elsewhere in the state, police continued their hunt Monday for a gunman who shot two LA County sheriff’s deputies as they sat in their squad car Saturday.
Both were seriously wounded and remain hospitalized. The 31-year-old female deputy and 24-year-old male deputy underwent surgery after the shooting. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said both officers are likely to recover.
Rochester mayor fires police chief after probe of officer-involved death » Meantime, the mayor of Rochester, New York has fired the police chief amid upheaval over the death of a black man in police custody.
Mayor Lovely Warren told reporters Monday that she has fired Police Chief Le’Ron Singletary.
Singletary announced his retirement last week, saying he felt his response to Prude’s death had been misrepresented and politicized. But he said he would stay on through the end of the month. Mayor Warren initially defended him, but she said after reviewing the findings of an internal probe, she felt she had to act.
WARREN: This initial look has shown that we have a pervasive problem in the Rochester Police Department, one that views everything through the eyes of the badge and not the citizens we serve.
The fallout stems from an incident in March. Officers found Daniel Prude running naked down the street. They handcuffed him and put a hood over his head to stop him from spitting, then held him down for about 2 minutes. During that time, he stopped breathing. Video of the incident surfaced months later.
Warren also suspended her top lawyer and communications director without pay for violations of policy. And she said she shares blame for not releasing details of the case to the public sooner.
TikTok chooses Oracle over Microsoft in deal to keep app running in U.S. » The Chinese owner of the popular video app TikTok has chosen Oracle over Microsoft to be its “trusted technology provider” in the United States.
The Trump administration has flagged Tik Tok as a national security risk over worries about funneling user data to Chinese authorities. And it has threatened to ban TikTok by September 20th unless it sells its U.S. business.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC, the next step is for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States—or CFIUS for short—to review the deal.
MNUCHIN: There is also a commitment to create Tik Tok global as a U.S.-headquartered company with 20,000 new jobs. I’m not going to go into the entire proposal. We will be reviewing that at the CFIUS committee this week, and then we’ll be making a recommendation to the president and reviewing it with him.
TikTok denies it is a national security risk and is suing to stop the administration from enacting the threatened ban.
Much remains unclear about the proposed deal with Oracle, which is pointedly not referring to it as a sale or acquisition.
Nalvany’s health improves as French, Swedish labs confirm Novichok poisoning » The condition of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is improving, as labs in two more countries confirm he was poisoned with a Russian nerve agent. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: German doctors say Navalny is now able to breathe on his own and briefly leave his hospital bed.
The 44-year-old was flown to Berlin for treatment two days after falling ill on a domestic flight in Russia last month.
German scientists later concluded that Navalny was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. And on Monday, Germany announced that French and Swedish labs have confirmed those findings.
The New York Times reported Monday that, according to a German security official, Nalvany is “fully aware of what happened.” But “He’s not planning to go into exile in Germany.” Instead, “he wants to go home to Russia and he wants to continue his mission.”
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: the effort to protect renters from eviction.
Plus, Les Sillars on repentance and grace.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MEGAN BASHAM: It’s Tuesday the 15th of September, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up: eviction protection and its consequences.
The economic shutdowns in response to COVID-19 triggered widespread job loss. To help homeowners and tenants, the federal government in March allowed them to defer mortgage and rent payments for up to four months, without losing their homes or being evicted. Those payment deferrals though expired at the end of July.
BASHAM: But then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made an unprecedented move. The agency tasked with addressing the nation’s health issues made it illegal for landlords to evict tenants hurt by job loss.
WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports now on what this policy means for those who pay rent and those who collect it.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Josh Wilkins is a single dad. He and his 3-year-old daughter live in a large apartment complex just off the interstate in Layton, Utah. His employer laid him off more than three months ago.
WILKINS: I’m a union sheetmetal worker and I make really good money when I’m working.
From April to July 31st, the federal government added an additional $600 to all unemployment checks. Wilkins says that money really helped.
WILKINS: Thank God for that extra $600…
After that bonus expired, President Trump signed an executive order in August that offered an extra $300 per unemployment check. In Utah, those payouts just kicked in.
Still, Wilkins says money is tight. He’s relieved that per the CDC’s new order, his landlord can’t evict him for the rest of the year.
WILKINS: It costs so much for a two bedroom apartment you know anymore, just like for with utilities and everything. It’s like $1,473 a month, I think I pay and that’s a lot, you know anymore.
But many landlords and property-owners are frustrated with what they feel are policies that only help renters.
The Trump administration did make landlords eligible for mortgage payment deferral, but only if their rental property mortgage was backed by the federal government. Only a third of landlords qualified.
At the same time many landlords experienced a decline in tenants paying rent. The steepest drop is in low-income rentals or what the industry calls C-Stock.
Bob Pinnegar heads the National Apartment Association.
PINNEGAR: This is where a lot of our workforce lives, especially in service sectors, because it’s, frankly, more affordable. January through March 80 percent of the rents were collected in the first 15 days of the month for C class properties. In July, it dropped to 37 percent. As the residents are feeling economic distress, it’s transferring itself over into the operators as well.
Sid Lakireddy directs the California Rental Housing Association. He points out that while most landlords still paid their mortgage and collected less rent, they also had to pay to keep the lights on.
LAKIREDDY: Water companies aren’t forbearing. Electric companies aren’t forbearing. Oh, yeah, property taxes. We don’t have forbearance here in California. So all those other bills are still due. And that’s what stretching property owners and really frustrating them at this point.
Once eviction bans expire, tenants will have to pay back rent. But landlords aren’t counting on that.
Joel Griffith is a financial regulations scholar at the Heritage Foundation. He’s skeptical most tenants will be able to pay their debts.
GRIFFITH: Especially in a situation where somebody has not actually saved those funds to make a payment. They could certainly declare bankruptcy. And in many instances, those landlords simply will not be able to collect what is owed them.
Low-income housing advocates say the eviction bans are necessary. Without them thousands of people could be turned out, placing them in danger.
Diane Yentel heads the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
YENTEL: It’s a very important preventative measure. If it’s upheld by the courts, it will protect 30 to 40 million renters and keep them housed over the next few months.
Adam Murray directs the Inner City Law Center in Los Angeles. He sympathizes with landlords. He also worries that when deferred rents do have to be paid, struggling tenants will face eviction anyway.
So, he argues the federal government should give banks additional funds so they can forgive mortgages… and then landlords can forgive rent.
MURRAY: We should put some resources as a country into bolstering these financial institutions but require them to forgive mortgages for this period of time and then require those mortgage forgiveness to translate into rent forgiveness.
In the meantime, some housing analysts worry about the future of low-income housing if landlords continue to see a drop in rent payments.
Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.
TANNER: You’re going to see a deterioration of the housing. Landlords are simply going to stop fixing up apartments. The second is that landlords when they have a vacancy are going to be reluctant to rent to low income people. If bringing in low income people in person into your apartment means they may not pay the rent and you can’t do anything about that, you’re going to be less likely to rent to them. And the long term what you’re going to do is see less apartments built. That’s going to drive up rents for everyone.
Back at his apartment complex, Josh Wilkins says if he can’t pay his rent upfront and ends up owing back rent, he believes his relationship with his landlord will save him from eviction.
WILKINS: I’m sure they would help me out or send me to some programs that would help me out with rental assistance.
Other renters may be banking on relationships with their landlords as well. Most landlords own less than five units and know the families living in them. They understand the financial pressures these families are facing. Landlords are feeling the squeeze, too.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg reporting in Layton, Utah.
MARY REICHARD: Next up: religious liberty on campus.
The Department of Education last week released a new rule on free speech and religious liberty at public and private universities. It’s got teeth to it: federal grants are tied to the schools’ protection of students’ First Amendment rights.
Public universities are already required to uphold the Constitution, but students often have to take administrators to court to enforce their rights. The new rule adds an extra incentive for universities to do what they’re already supposed to do.
MEGAN BASHAM: The new rule also requires public universities to give religious student groups equal access to all the benefits secular groups enjoy. Things like the ability to reserve meeting rooms and apply to receive funding from student fees. Christian groups on campus have had to fight for these benefits as they are accused of discrimination. University administrators sometimes punish these groups for trying to uphold Biblical teachings on marriage and sexuality.
REICHARD: One of the groups in the thick of this battle is InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. That’s an inter-denominational, evangelical ministry founded 79 years ago. It has chapters on nearly 800 campuses across the country. Greg Jao is its director of external relations. He joins us now to talk about this new rule.
Good morning, Greg!
GREG JAO, GUEST: Good morning, Mary.
REICHARD: Well, let’s just start right there. How will this rule affect InterVarsity’s day-to-day activities?
JAO: The rule frees Intervarsity to focus on its mission, and I think the best thing it does is it frees students from the fear that they’re going to be de-recognized for requiring their leaders to be Christians. And instead they can focus on serving the campus, caring for their fellow students, and engaging their studies as Christians. It’s a great opportunity for our students.
REICHARD: It seems to me that in the last few years we’ve heard about fewer challenges to Christian groups on campus. Is that so? Has InterVarsity faced fewer First Amendment fights, or are we just not hearing about it?
JAO: We’ve had about the same number of First Amendment challenges in the last few years than we have in past years. They may not have risen to the level of public attention, but in two cases at the University of Iowa and at Wayne State University, we’ve had to file lawsuits to protect the students there. And, in many other cases, it’s just involving extensive negotiation with universities really across the United States.
REICHARD: What do you think is going on? What’s behind those kinds of challenges?
JAO: I think there are two things that are happening behind campus access challenges. In the one case, I think honestly it’s just a wooden reading of non-discrimination policies. We’ve tried to point out in those cases that, in fact, what it means not to discriminate against religious groups is to allow them to be fully religious, which includes allowing the religion to practice its own leadership requirements. And so we’ve tried to help administrators see a more welcoming, diverse, inclusive posture means allowing religious groups to be religious. And there are a number of universities—Ohio State, University of Texas at Austin, University of Florida—have already built these in to non-discrimination policies.
I think the second thing that sometimes happens is if it’s not just a wooden reading of non-discrimination policy, it’s just a misunderstanding of what religion really is. And so I’ve had a number of administrators say, “Couldn’t you do a Bible test to choose leaders?” And what I try to point out to them is there’s a vast difference between knowledge and belief. And the core issue for all religious groups is actually religious belief, not just knowledge. And so sometimes it’s just a misunderstanding of religion. On a very rare occasion it may be some antipathy toward religious groups, but by and large I think it’s a failure to understand how religion works and a failure of imagination about what non-discrimination and inclusion really require.
REICHARD: Private universities are not required to protect First Amendment rights on campus. That’s distinguished from the public universities. But this new rule does require private universities to follow their own written policies on freedom of expression, if they want to apply for federal grants. Can you talk about how Christian groups have fared at private universities in recent years. And will this new rule help?
JAO: Private universities have been just as problematic as public universities around campus access issues and there’s a host of universities where this has been an issue. My hope is that the new regulation redefines what non-discrimation is so that it’s fully inclusive of religious students. One of the challenges we face right now, of course, is universities will approve some religious groups and disapprove of other religious groups. And often the only distinction is the groups that have been disapproved, de-recognized are ones who have religiously based leadership requirements. The new regulations require public universities to treat all religious groups equally. My hope is this sets the standards across higher education so that private universities will also read their non-discrimination policy so that they aren’t picking and choosing between religious groups, which I think violates the spirit of what they’re trying to accomplish.
REICHARD: This rule carries more weight than, say, an executive order, because it did go through the official, lengthy, rule-making process. But it can be changed under another administration. So, how much solace do you take in this? Is it a long-term reprieve, or more like a respite?
JAO: I’m hoping it’s a long term reprieve. We recognize that there is a possibility that another administration would change the rule, but I trust that it’s difficult or at least requires some thought before you change a rule like this. And I think the fact that Muslim groups and Jewish groups in addition to Christian groups all said this actually serves not just Christian groups like InterVarsity, but it also serves religious minority groups, which are particularly vulnerable from being excluded from campus if they require their leaders to be adherers to their faith because they don’t have the resources like InterVarsity does to defend themselves. And so at the University of Iowa, for example, when we were de-recognized, so was a Hindu group, a Seikh group, the LDS group. In fact, more than even the Christian groups, it’s minority religious groups that need the kind of protection this regulation offers. And I hope every administration in their commitment to creating a welcoming and inclusive and diverse campus experience will support the regulations going forward.
REICHARD: Greg Jao is director of external relations with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Thanks so much for joining us today!
JAO: Thank you so much, Mary.
MARY REICHARD: The National Toy Hall of Fame has announced the 12 finalists for this year’s honors. That out of thousands of nominees.
Among the candidates are several board games, along with a few toys you might remember, depending upon when you were a child.
AUDIO: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe!
My Little Pony also made the cut, along with Baby Nancy and Breyer Horses.
The criteria for induction includes icon-status, longevity, discovery through play, and innovation.
Other nominees include Yahtzee, Jenga, the board games Risk and Sorry, and…
AUDIO: Light Bright, Light Bright
BASHAM: Oh I loved that one!
REICHARD: Me, too! A panel of judges will choose three winners and the public will choose another three by voting at toyhalloffame.org. Voting is open through Wednesday.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Tuesday, September 15th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. The last decade has seen a mass emigration of Christians from parts of Israel controlled by Palestinians.
A survey earlier this year of nearly a thousand Christians in the area tells of the struggles they face, and why they’d leave their homeland. WORLD intern Vivian Jones brings this story.
AUDIO: [Call to prayer]
VIVIAN JONES, CORRESPONDENT: What is it like to be a Christian in the land where Jesus was born? Five times a day, the Muslim call to prayer washes over the city of Bethlehem.
Every morning, hundreds of Palestinians move through border checkpoints to go to work in Jerusalem, about 20 minute’s drive away.
In 1922, Christians made up 84 percent of the population of Bethlehem. One hundred years later, only 12 percent of Bethlehem residents are Christian.
Christians make up an even smaller fraction of the entire Palestinian population: less than 1 percent.
SAYEGH: You are a really tiny minority in the land.
Khalil Sayegh is a Palestinian Christian who grew up in the Palestinian territory known as the Gaza strip.
SAYEGH: You’re living in a conflict zone. Whether you like it or not, there is this whole political conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And the consequences of this conflict, you have things like checkpoints, you have things like armies stopping you, you have things that you wouldn’t really like many times at the checkpoints.
AUDIO: [Street sound]
Gaza is now controlled by Hamas, and Sayegh lives in the city of Ramallah in the West Bank. Earlier this year, he helped conduct a survey to identify challenges that Palestinian Christians face as a part of daily life, and what motivates some to emigrate.
NICHOLSON: This is the world’s most famous conflict.
Robert Nicholson is president of The Philos Project, a nonprofit that conducted the survey together with the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.
NICHOLSON: The Christians who are a minority of both Israelis and Palestinians are suffering the most, right. They’re sort of caught between a hammer and an anvil. And they’re often missed in the larger story of the conflict, the ancient presence of Jesus’s followers in the land of his birth.
AUDIO: [Sounds of mass at Church of the Nativity]
Khalil and the survey team spoke with nearly a thousand Palestinian Christians to idenfiy struggles that life in the midst of the Palestininan-Israeli conflict presents.
Forty eight percent of the Christians surveyed said the dire economic situation is the most significant challenge they face.
Eighty two percent worried about the absence of liberty and the rule of law. Eighty percent feared corruption in the Palestinian Authority.
Notably, 77 percent are unhappy that their children aren’t learning any Christian history connected with their ancestral land.
SAYEGH: When they cover history you don’t see really any Christian arc of history. And that’s heartbreaking because we have a really rich history in this land where Christianity has been born in this land. Where even pre-Christ we have this whole Biblical culture that was in this land. However, in the Palestinian curriculum, they choose to deny it.
Sayegh says it’s not surprising, but it is concerning.
SAYEGH: And I get it: from the perspective of Palestinians, to deny this means to deny the connection of the Jewish people and interest in the land and that kind of where they find their identity in the opposition to Israel. But still, it’s problematic because you are not only undermining the Jewish right and connection to the land, but you’re undermining the rights and connection of the Christians themselves to the land.
Beyond economic and cultural motivations, living as a minority in the midst of ongoing conflict between the Arabs and Israelis poses its own set of challenges: 44 percent reported experiencing religious tension and discrimination, including verbal attacks or racial slurs from Muslim neighbors. Sayegh says it’s not uncommon for Christians to be called “crusaders” or “infidels.”
On the other hand, 83 percent fear being expelled from their land, being attacked by Jewish settlers, or being denied their civil rights by the State of Israel.
Sayegh says many Palestinian Christians feel they’re nothing more than pawns in the political tug-of-war.
SAYEGH: When people talk about Palestinian Christians it feels to me that they just want to use them as a puppet for their own political agenda. So if you really want to help Christians in Palestine, you have to just look at their problems as it is—not trying to look at their problem in a way that will help your personal agenda.
While Palestinian Christians continue to face challenges to their freedom and economic prosperity, Philos President Robert Nicholson encourages action before they disappear entirely from the Holy Land.
NICHOLSON: Palestinian Christians are part of a larger whole, right? And if we look at the whole, we see that if we don’t do something for these communities, they will be gone forever. And so will their culture, their language, their unique faith traditions…
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Vivian Jones.
MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Tuesday, September 15th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. The brutal commander of a prison during the Khmer Rouge’s communist rule over Cambodia died earlier this month. Kaing Guek Eav was 77. He was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity.
His death prompted WORLD commentator Les Sillars to ponder monsters and repentance.
LES SILLARS, COMMENTATOR: His revolutionary name was Comrade Duch. Of all the evil things the Khmer Rouge did in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979, Comrade Duch operated the most horrific: a prison called Tuol Sleng, codenamed S-21.
His guards tortured and executed about 15,000. I’ve visited S-21, seen the rooms with white and beige checkerboard-tile floors containing whips, clubs, hooks, and electric wires. Guards worked over the screaming prisoners and then made them sit at a desk and scribble out confessions.
Duch reviewed each confession, made notations in the margins, and sent it back for another round of torture. The regime was hunting traitors and Duch wanted names.
AUDIO: S-21 Nath [Khmer voice]
In a documentary called S-21: Khmer Rouge Killing Machine, one former prisoner admitted that he denounced 60 people to save himself. He says, “They beat me so badly, Nath, I couldn’t take it. I said anything. I named everyone.”
Sometimes a confession went through many drafts before Duch was satisfied. Then the prisoner was trucked away, clubbed to death, and dumped into a mass grave.
After the Khmer Rouge fell in 1979, Duch fled to the Cambodian jungles. In 1999 he was recognized and soon after surrendered. In 2012, he was sentenced to life in prison.
A French journalist named François Bizot testified during one of Duch’s hearings in 2009. He had been Duch’s prisoner some years before the Khmer Rouge set up S-21. They developed a strange kind of intimacy. At the time Bizot saw himself and his friends in Duch: a Marxist and a decent man. What’s more,
BIZOT: Interpreter: I considered that I was on the right side of humankind and there were monsters and, thank heavens, I would never be amongst the ranks of them.
But then Bizot realized that Duch personally beat prisoners. He was shocked.
The idea that anyone is capable of great evil should unsettle us. But those surprised by the evil found in human hearts don’t yet know themselves. And those terrified by the discovery don’t yet know the grace of God.
On January 6, 1996, Comrade Duch professed Christ. He planted a church in his village, taught the Bible, and baptized other believers. He was known as a gentle, quiet man.
AUDIO: [Duch ECCC]
During his trial he stood up and said—quote—“I would like to confirm that I am morally and legally responsible for the crimes committed at S-21 … I will not make any denial, not a word.” Unquote.
If Duch had tortured my family to death, I admit, I’d question his sincerity. But if the question is, “Can monsters repent?” there can be only one answer. If monsters can’t be redeemed, then nobody can.
I’m Les Sillars.
MEGAN BASHAM: Tomorrow: The list. President Trump released additions to his list of potential Supreme Court nominees. We’ll talk about the ins and outs of that on Washington Wednesday.
And, we’ll introduce you to the illustrator of the Action Bible.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Megan Basham.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
Go now in grace and peace.