The World and Everything in It — September 30, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

The contenders for President of the United States duked it out last night in Cleveland.

NICK EICHER, HOST: We’ll talk to WORLD’s Jamie Dean about that, ahead on Washington Wednesday.

Also World Tour, with news from around the globe.

And WORLD founder Joel Belz on the mindset of debt.

REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, September 30th. 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: It’s time for the news. Here’s Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: State television: Kuwaiti ruler Sheikh Sabah has died at 91 » The ruler of Kuwait died on Tuesday. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: State television in Kuwait reports that Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah died Tuesday at the age of 91. The ruler drew on his decades as the oil-rich nation’s top diplomat to push for closer ties to Iraq after the 1990 Gulf War and solutions to other regional crises.

Sheikh Sabah assumed office as Kuwait’s ruling emir in 2006 and became known for his diplomacy in the Middle East. He advocated for a peaceful resolution to a dispute between Qatar and other Arab nations that continues to this day.

Kuwait has remained a staunch U.S. ally since the American-led war that ousted Iraqi troops from the country 30 years ago. 

Sheikh Sabah is expected to be succeeded by his half brother … the crown prince Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen. 

Worldwide death toll from coronavirus eclipses 1 million » Nine months into the global pandemic, the official worldwide death toll from COVID-19 eclipsed 1 million this week. That according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. 

And that figure is almost certainly a vast undercount because of inadequate testing and reporting and concealment by some countries.

Still, nearly 5,000 people die each day of COVID-19. New outbreaks are hitting parts of Europe, and experts fear a second wave in the United States, which accounts for more than 200,000 deaths.

U.S. man faces prison time in Thailand for critical hotel review » An American is facing possible prison time in Thailand for leaving negative hotel reviews online. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Thailand has extremely tough—and critics charge unjust—defamation laws. 

Prosecutors have targeted labor activists, journalists, and whistleblowers for allegedly violating criminal defamation laws.

And now American expat Wesley Barnes, who teaches English in Thailand, faces several years in prison. That after he posted critical reviews online of the Sea View Koh Chang hotel. 

The incident started with a dispute over a beverage fee. But Barnes claimed he also saw a manager treat a Thai employee abusively, and that’s why he decided to post his critical reviews.

The review he posted to TripAdvisor said “Do not sleep here! Don’t support modern day slavery of Thai people!” Later postings were similar in tone.

Police arrested Barnes earlier this month. He spent two nights in jail before being freed on $3,000 dollars bond. His next court date is Oct. 6th.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

NBA Finals tips off » One day after Tampa Bay won its first NHL championship since 2004..

NHL GAME: Time ticks down. The Lightning win the Stanley Cup! 

The NBA Finals tip off tonight. LeBron James will lead the Lakers against the team he helped win a pair of championships, the Miami Heat. 

The Lakers are favored to win their 17th championship behind two first team ALL-NBA superstars, James and power forward Anthony Davis. 

But the Heat aren’t intimidated. Rookie Tyler Herro and second-year players Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson will lead a youth movement into the best-of-seven series. 

The teams will play the entire series inside the NBA bubble at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando. Game one tips off at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on ABC.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: analysis of last night’s presidential debate.

Plus, Joel Belz on our MasterCard mentality.

This is The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: It’s Wednesday the 30th of September, 2020. You’re listening to The World and Everything in It, and we are so glad you are! Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up: the first presidential debate.

EICHER: What a night!

REICHARD: It sure was. Ninety minutes of, shall we say, pointed discussions about the Supreme Court, healthcare, the economy, and COVID-19. Lots to dive into. And joining us to unpack the rhetorical jousting is Jamie Dean. She’s WORLD’s national editor and chief political correspondent.

Good morning, Jamie!


REICHARD: What were you looking for going into last night?

DEAN: President Trump went into the debate last night as the presumable underdog—at least according to a string of recent polls showing him trailing Joe Biden. Polls also have reported an overwhelming majority of voters have already made up their minds about the candidate they’ll choose. 

So, I think the question for Trump going into the evening was: Could he do something to change that dynamic? Would he have a compelling, clear message that would win over the slice of voters that aren’t yet decided? 

When it comes to former vice president Joe Biden: Biden hasn’t had to appear in many unscripted encounters this year. It’s not been a traditional campaign season, and he’s often been able to deliver prepared remarks without a lot of the off-the-cuff exchanges we usually see on the stump. He’s verbally stumbled in some of his public appearances.

So how would Biden do? Would he seem fit and ready to take on the job of the presidency? 

And finally—and perhaps most importantly—what would the candidates have to say? What might we learn about actual policy matters? 

REICHARD: Okay, before we get to the answers to those questions, set the stage for us a bit. Tell us about the parameters for the debate.

DEAN: The candidates debated in an auditorium at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Chris Wallace of Fox News moderated. And though Fox is known as a conservative network, Wallace is known for holding Trump’s feet to the fire, so this didn’t promise to be an easy stroll for Trump. 

REICHARD: What were the topics?

DEAN: The idea was to have six, 15-minute segments focusing on a single topic in each segment: the pandemic, the economy, the Supreme Court, the candidate’s records, election integrity, and race and violence in American cities. 

I’ll admit when I saw that list I thought: Wow, those are big topics to cover in 15 minute chunks. But that’s how Wallace set the table for the evening. 

REICHARD: Okay, let’s get to the main course. What were your main take-ways?

DEAN: It’s hard to know where to begin, but I think it was really a pretty miserable evening all around. I had to go back to my notes to try to find the threads that emerged over the course of the debate because it was quite hard to follow at points.

The candidates spoke over each other so much, the moderator had to plead with them to stop. 

And President Trump certainly had the hardest time not interrupting his opponent. Chris Wallace ended up telling him: I think the country would be better served if they could hear from both of you without interruptions.

But beyond the interruptions, it just went low: Trump said there was nothing smart about Biden. Biden called Trump a fool. 

It seemed like the dynamic reflected so much of the division and rancor in the country right now, when what we need are leaders who can model how to talk with people who we disagree with in ways that are respectful and productive. I certainly don’t think that happened last night, so in many ways, I found it to be a sad moment after such a long year. 

REICHARD: What did we learn about policy?

DEAN: I think this debate was more about personality than policy in a lot of ways, and it was hit-or-miss when it came to hearing nitty gritty details about what the candidates would actually do.

A couple of things jumped out at me: On the Supreme Court, I think we got a glimpse of Biden’s strategy when it comes to the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. 

He didn’t go after her personally. And he first emphasized how the court might handle the Affordable Care Act in the coming weeks. So Biden narrowed in on an issue that he probably thinks is in the forefront of many voters’ minds right now. 

He did go on to mention Roe v. Wade, and said that would be an issue too. But that wasn’t his first line of offense.

REICHARD: What about the notion of expanding the Supreme Court if Trump goes ahead with Barrett’s confirmation against Democrats’ wishes? 

DEAN: Well, that’s something that Democrats have floated: Some have said, if Trump pushes ahead, we should add justices to the court if we win the election. Biden in the past has said he’s against that idea, but he really dodged the question when Wallace directly asked him what he would do.

BIDEN: Whatever position I take on that, that will become the issue.

So that’s significant. He’s not pledging to resist court-packing and he’s not ruling out eliminating the Senate filibuster—which is something else he has said in the past he didn’t think we should do. So that opens the possibility of an expanded Supreme Court and a Senate that could pass legislation with a simple majority instead of a 60-vote threshold. I thought that was a significant moment.

REICHARD: How did Trump respond?

DEAN: Overall, I think the president tried to tie Joe Biden to the far left of his party. And a lot of people have raised questions about how far left Biden would be willing to go, since he has moved left on some policies already. This is where Biden said something I thought was really interesting:

BIDEN: I am the Democratic Party.

That was an intriguing statement: I am the Democratic Party. I think what he’s trying to say there is: Don’t worry about those who are to the left of me. And Trump is trying to keep those on the left in front of voters minds because they do have an influence on Biden.

REICHARD: Okay, what did they have to say about the handling of the pandemic?

DEAN: This got into a lot of back and forth about whether Trump acted soon enough in handling the pandemic, and whether Biden would have done better. I think maybe the more pressing question of the evening for a lot of voters is what would the candidates do now?

On this point, I think the president tried to plant a flag about what he thinks Biden would do if the pandemic worsens again. Trump actually talked about this during the segment on the economy, but I think it’s safe to say there was a lot of overlap in topics all night. Here’s what he said.

TRUMP: This guy will close down the country and destroy the whole country. 

DEAN: That’s a message I think Trump wanted to land, especially for voters concerned about a return to lock-downs. 

REICHARD: There was also a discussion about race in America and some of the recent riots, right?

DEAN: Right. And here is where Chris Wallace pressed Biden on whether he had called on the mayors of cities in Oregon to allow the national guard to come in and help quell the ongoing riots in those cities. 

WALLACE: Have you ever called the democratic mayor of Portland or the democratic governor of Oregon and said, Hey, you got to stop this. Bring in the national guard, do whatever it takes, but you’d stop but days and months of violence in Portland?

BIDEN: I don’t hold public office now. I am a former vice president. I’ve made it clear. I’ve made it clear in my public statements that the violence should be prosecuted. It should be prosecuted. And anyone who commits it should be prosecuted.

WALLACE: But you’ve never called for the people. Excuse me, sir. You had never called for the leaders in Portland and in Oregon to call in, bring in the national guard and knock off a hundred days of riots.

BIDEN: They can in fact take care of it if he just stays out of the way.

TRUMP: Oh really? Oh, really? (bickering)

So I think this was a weak spot for Biden. If voters are concerned about how he would handle rioting and unrest in American cities, I’m not sure they heard the answer there.

President Trump was very insistent saying we need law and order, and he tried to paint Biden as less enthusiastic about that. But Trump faced his own moment of dodging an important question when Wallace asked him about whether he would condemn white supremacy. 

WALLACE: The vice president for not specifically calling out Antifa and other left-wing spring this groups, but are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups? And to say that they need to stand down and not add to the violence and a number of these cities as we saw in Kenosha, and as we’ve seen in Portland.

TRUMP: I don’t have a, I would say almost everything I see is from the left wing, not from the right wing (or what do you, what are you saying?) I’m willing to do anything. I want to see peace.

WALLACE: Well then do it, sir.

TRUMP: Do it, say it. Do you want to call them? What do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name of [inaudible bickering] stand back and stand by, but I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left, because this is not a right wing problem. This is a direct, this is a left wing problem.

That’s a moment where it’s hard to understand why the president wouldn’t just say: “Of course I condemn white supremacy.” Even if he thinks leftist groups are more responsible for the riots going on in American cities—and even if that’s the point he wants to make—it would still be simple and wise to say: Yes, I condemn white supremacy. 

REICHARD: After a discussion on climate change, Wallace ended the debate by asking the candidates if they would pledge not to declare victory until after the election is independently verified. What did they have to say on that question?

DEAN: Trump expressed his concerns over mail-in voting, and I think he was trying to emphasize how overwhelmed the voting systems might become when they receive an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots over the next few weeks. That’s a valid concern, and it could mean we end up waiting a few days or even weeks to learn the outcome of the election, if it comes down to a close count in a swing state. Trump also talked about reports of mishandled ballots, and his concerns that there is fraud in the system.

Biden kept it pretty simple when he spoke about voting, and I think this might have been one of his strongest moments of the night. He spoke directly to American voters, and reminded them about the opportunity in front of them:

BIDEN: Go vote.

REICHARD: So overall, would you say there was a winner or loser in tonight’s debate?

DEAN: I don’t think there was a winner. I think the debate was way too uncivil to think of one candidate as triumphing. 

But I do think Biden showed he could hang in there with Trump and make the points he wanted to make. I think Trump showed he was digging in and reaching out to his base. I’m not sure that either candidate would have won over voters who were undecided after tonight, but they do get two more chances: We’ve got two more presidential debates coming up in October.

REICHARD: Jamie Dean is WORLD’s national editor and chief political correspondent. Thanks so much for joining us today!

DEAN: You’re welcome, Mary.

NICK EICHER: Say you’re walking along a familiar path and look down and notice something unfamiliar.

A man in Arkansas was exploring in a park he’d enjoyed since he was a kid when something shiny caught his eye.

He thought it was just glass, but I left out a detail. He was in the Crater of Diamonds State Park and you can’t blame him for wanting to be certain.

It took some time, but workers in the park confirmed it: a 9 carat diamond! That’s really big. It could fetch $100,000.

Now, this state park, it’s unique. It’s truly finders-keepers. Locating diamonds is the point and in the 50 years the park’s been open to the public, explorers have found more than 30,000 diamonds and only one bigger than this one. 

The kicker? The finder’s going to be hearing from the IRS. The bad news is, even if he doesn’t sell it, Uncle Sam’s going to be demanding a cut.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, September 30th. This is WORLD Radio. Thanks for joining us today! Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Afghanistan-Taliban peace talks—We start today in the Middle East.


Violence in Afghanistan continues to rise, despite ongoing peace talks between the government and the Taliban. Afghan forces launched an airstrike earlier this month, killing Taliban fighters and dozens of civilians. A day later, Taliban forces attacked security checkpoints, killing 24 Afghan soldiers. 

Both sides blame each other for the rising violence. Almost 100 civilians have died during the past two weeks, even as government officials and Taliban representatives discuss a vision for a united Afghanistan. 

Abdullah Abdullah is a key negotiator in the peace talks.

ABDULLAH: At the moment, unfortunately, the level of violence is very high. The number of security incidents initiated by the Taliban in different parts of the country has increased, not decreased.

Some analysts aren’t surprised. They expected the Taliban to increase attacks during peace talks, using the show of strength as a negotiating tactic. 

The United States brokered a deal with the Taliban six months ago to launch the peace talks. Washington promised to withdraw its troops from the country. And Afghanistan vowed to release 5,000 jailed Taliban fighters. In exchange, the militants promised to release 1,000 Afghan troops and cut ties with al-Qaeda and other terror groups. 

But so far, the Taliban has failed to follow through on several key promises: It continues to work with al-Qaeda and has only released about 250 Afghan soldiers.


So far, the two sides have only discussed a framework for how to negotiate. Officials say they have resolved most procedural issues, but they’re stuck on which school of Islamic thought they will use to resolve disputes. 

ABDULLAH: Both sides come from two different worldviews—views about the life, about rights of citizens.

The Afghan government hopes to preserve civil and democratic rights, while the Taliban could push for strictly enforcing Islamic rule.

Germany looks for a new nuclear waste site—Next, we go to Europe.


Germany is looking for a site to store its radioactive nuclear waste. The nation’s waste management organization issued a report on Monday listing 90 different sites that are geographically suited to storing the material.

After Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, Germany decided to phase out its nuclear power generation. But the country is still trying to decide what to do with all the leftover waste.

Officials are looking for a site that can house almost 2,000 containers of the material for 1 million years. Authorities aim to reach a decision by 2031, and to begin using the site in 2050.

Sudan food prices skyrocket—Next, we go to Africa.

AUDIO: Actually it has been quite catastrophic, if I may.

Sudan has declared an economic state of emergency.

AUDIO: Last July, inflation was at 144 percent. August was almost 167 percent.

The country’s inflation rate is at a record high. The prices of staple goods have skyrocketed. Beef has almost doubled in cost, and the price of bread and sugar has increased by 50 percent over the past few weeks.

Many Sudanese blame the government for the economic downturn. In April, the government raised the minimum wage from 245 Sudanese pounds to 3,000. Critics say the government funded the new policy by simply printing more money, driving up inflation. Devastating summer floods also wiped out crops.

Ten million people in the country currently face severe food shortages.

Mali civilian leader sworn in after coup—Next, we go to Mali.


An interim president took the oath of office on Friday, five weeks after the military ousted the country’s previous leader. Last month’s coup toppled the government after weeks of protests and unrest. The military leaders appointed the interim president as part of the transition to civilian rule. He swore to honor international accords and crack down on the Islamist insurgency.

Mali has been in upheaval since a 2012 uprising. Jihadists remain active in the area, and the violence has claimed thousands of civilian lives. That conflict, coupled with government corruption and a weak economy, led to mass protests against the previous president. It all culminated in last month’s military coup.

The interim president will hold power for up to 18 months before the next election.

Mine-sniffing rat wins award—And finally, we end today in Asia.


A rat has won an award for saving lives in Cambodia. Magawa is an African Pouched Rat trained to sniff out landmines. Decades of conflict have left Cambodia littered with millions of explosives. The leftover landmines kill or injure dozens of people every year.

An organization trained Magawa and rats like him to sniff out the TNT in unexploded bombs.

AUDIO: They’re completely depending on their smell and hearing and if you look at them they’re sniffing all the time.

Because the rodents are small, they don’t trigger the landmines. Magawa has discovered 67 explosives in the past seven years. And he can clear an area the size of a tennis court in half an hour. A human with a metal detector might take four days to clear that much space.

That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.

NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, September 30th. Good morning to you!  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 makes the connection between an unhealthy mindset and debt.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: I finally found some “common ground.” Not quite what I was looking for, but as best I can tell, it’s an issue Republicans and Democrats completely agree on. 

But they do it in silence.

The topic is debt retirement. It’s a current issue because here in the United States, we’ve just taken on some $3 trillion in brand new debt. That’s $13,000 in new debt for every man, woman, and child. Add that to the $100,000 already owed by every individual coming into this most bizarre era.

The sober fact is that we as a nation approach this tough fiscal assignment with a credit card mentality. We are a people unable to defer the gratification of our desires. By and large, we live in homes that are nicer than our parents had at the same age. The same is true for cars, clothes, use of leisure time, travel and vacations, and everything that drives our family budgets up, up, and up.

We Christians are, in this regard, virtually indistinguishable from the society we live in. And by blending in with our surroundings, we are missing a strategic opportunity for witness to a key element of the gospel.

Christians, of all people, should understand that the MasterCard mentality is not the way to master life. The pattern Jesus established was one of deferring desires—not because the fulfillment of desire is wrong, but because “my time has not yet come.” Most of us think our time has come five minutes after the desire first pops into our minds.

Yet few concepts are more central to a Christian way of thinking than the ideal of deferring a present desire—in the confidence that something richer lies down the road. It is a constant and unrelenting theme of Scripture.

The principle is everywhere except in our consumer consciousness. There, the infection still rages. And that is costly in two ways.

First, wasted resources. We spend far more than we should on interest, carrying charges, and fees. We would literally have 50 percent more to spend on what we want—maybe even more—if we were patient to wait until the resources were in. Think what impact that might have on the underfinanced ministries of God’s kingdom.

Second, it is costly in terms of a wasted witness. If Christians were known around the world as people who through their patience, thrift, and keen sense of priorities lived prosperous lives, the gospel they preach and teach would have more credibility than it does now when so many of us spend most of our years playing catch up with the finance companies.

As it stands, our political leaders—from both parties—have nothing but silence when it’s suggested that such basic principles of finance be applied to the nation’s astonishing debt. And their silence is becoming more and more deafening.

I’m Joel Belz.

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Land mismanagement. We’ll find out how policies have contributed to the intensity of the fires plaguing the West Coast.

And, we’ll get an update on the unrest in Belarus.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.

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

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

Writing of Abraham, the Apostle Paul wrote, “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God; he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised.” 

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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