MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
Next year brings new congressional districts and that has state political parties jockeying for control.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Also big tech may be in for big changes. We’ll talk about that.
Plus a profile of a social club in Virginia that uses a hobby to reach out to those in need.
And what our editor in chief Marvin Olasky learns from hummingbirds.
REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, October 13th. 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: Lawmakers begin questioning in Barrett confirmation hearing » Lawmakers will begin questioning Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett this morning on day two of her confirmation hearing.
Barrett once clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia and on Monday, she said his legal reasoning helped to shape her own.
BARRETT: His judicial philosophy was straightforward: a judge must apply the law as it is written, not as she wishes it were.
She said the court’s role is vital but limited, and that the Judicial Branch should not attempt to make or reshape public policy.
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee again voiced their concerns that Barrett may hold pro-life views and that she could cast the deciding vote to strike down Obamacare.
And Senator Dianne Feinstein insisted…
FEINSTEIN: We should not be moving forward on this nomination. Not until the election has ended and the next president has taken office.
Noting that the GOP-led Senate did not vote on President’ Obama’s high court nominee in 2016, Democrats called the hearing “hypocritical” and even “illegitimate.”
Republican Senator Mike Crapo fired back saying the Senate has handled this scenario the same way since the 1800s. He pointed out that 29 times a president has named a Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.
CRAPO: 19 of those 29 times, the parties of the president and the Senate majority were the same. And 17 of those 19 nominees were confirmed.
In contrast, he said when different parties controlled the White House and the Senate—the Senate hasn’t filled an election year vacancy in more than a century.
India on track to surpass U.S. in confirmed coronavirus cases » New COVID-19 cases are rising once again in America and around the world. And one country is on track to surpass the U.S. total in confirmed cases with new infections rising at twice the rate of the United States. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: India’s confirmed coronavirus toll crossed the 7 million mark this week. That trails only the United States, which has 8 million official cases.
But U.S. testing capacity is far greater—with 118 million tests conducted so far. That’s nearly one test for every three people in the country.
In contrast, Indian health officials have tested 88 million people. That’s roughly one test for every 16 citizens.
That means India is likely already the hardest hit nation in the world. And several other countries, including Brazil and Peru, likely have higher totals per capita than the United States.
Meantime, Iran broke its single-day record for COVID-19 deaths on Monday for a second straight day. The country reported 272 deaths and more than 4,000 new cases, though the true totals are likely much higher.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Two Americans win Nobel Prize in economics » Two American economists won the Nobel Prize on Monday for improving how auctions work.
HANSSON: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has today decided to award the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences jointly to Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson.
Academy secretary-general Goran Hansson heard there.
The Nobel Committee said the work of the economists underlies much of today’s economy—from the way Google sells advertising to the way telecom companies acquire airwaves from the government.
Milgrom, 72, and Wilson, 83, both of Stanford University tackled some tricky problems with auctions.
One of those issues was what Wilson called the “snake in the grass strategy.” That’s where a company hides its interest in the item up for bid until the last minute. Wilson said “It’s like sniping” at the very end of an eBay auction.
The pair designed rules that force bidders to reveal their interest earlier on.
The Nobel Committee said their work has “benefitted sellers, buyers, and taxpayers around the world.”
Roberta McCain, John McCain’s mother, dies at 108 » Roberta Wright McCain, the mother of the late Sen. John McCain died Monday at the age of 108. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has that story.
LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: Many voters got to know Roberta McCain during her son’s presidential campaign in 2008. At 96, she became the Republican senator’s secret weapon at campaign stops, helping convince voters they shouldn’t worry about her son’s age. He was 71 when he launched his White House bid.
Roberta married Senator McCain’s father, John McCain Jr., in 1933 at the age of 20. Her husband would later retire from the U.S. Navy as a four-star admiral.
The senator said in 2008 that his “father was often at sea, and the job of raising my brother, sister, and me would fall to my mother alone.”
Senator John McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, posted a statement Monday saying “I couldn’t have asked for a better role model or a better friend.”
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones.
Big league Hall of Famer Joe Morgan dies » Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan died this week.
Morgan was the spark plug for the Cincinnati Reds teams of the 1970s, known as “The Big Red Machine,” playing alongside Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and others.
He was a 10-time All-Star and won five Gold Gloves.
In a 2016 interview, he said his greatest baseball memory was winning the World Series with the Reds in 1975.
MORGAN: We’d been knocking on the door for three or four years, and all of a sudden we are world champions. So I was still pinching myself when I went back into the locker room, you know, before I got in the shower. You know, is this real?
The Reds won the World Series the following year as well. Morgan was league MVP both years.
A family spokesman said Joe Morgan died at his home Sunday in Danville, California. He was 77.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: state-level races worth watching.
Plus, Marvin Olasky on hummingbirds and elections.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, the 13th of October, 2020. This is The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up, redistricting.
Next year, states will redraw congressional districts based on the new census data gathered this year. Those boundaries will influence state and national politics for the next 10 years.
REICHARD: Most states rely on their state legislatures to determine those voting districts. That means going into this election, Republicans and Democrats are vying for control that extends beyond their local political influence.
WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports now on what’s at stake.
ROSS: I’m Nate J. Ross, I am an engineer by trade. I’m running for State House 67. And I am a Republican.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Nate Ross knew he wanted to run for Michigan’s State House after his second daughter was born.
ROSS: Wanting to have a positive influence in politics and hopefully, impact the community in a positive way to give them a brighter future…
But Ross has an uphill battle. He’s young. COVID-19 gathering restrictions have made campaigning difficult. And Democrats have held this district for a decade.
Ross says one reason Republicans struggle to win here is because of the electoral map. Most of District 67 is rural and leans Republican, but the northwest corner takes a little bite out of Lansing, the state capital. It has a much higher concentration of Democratic voters.
ROSS: Ingham County where my wife and daughters and I live has three districts and they’re all controlled by the Democratic Party right now. I think there is more of an opportunity to have maybe a Republican representing at least one district in Ingham County but you know depending on how those lines are drawn…
At the dawn of a new decade, those district lines are on the minds of state and national politicians across the country, says Wendy Underhill. She is the director of elections and redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Underhill says electoral district boundaries play a big part in determining who will represent voters.
UNDERHILL: We know that urban environments tend to have more Democratic voters. Rural areas tend to have more Republican voters. Suburbs, they’re more of a swing set of communities.
So who controls map drawing and its final approval is important.
Back in 2010, Republicans went hard after winning state legislatures. Wendy Underhill says the strategy worked.
UNDERHILL: So by Republicans picking up a lot of seats all around the nation, they were able to get chamber control and legislative control in more states than they’ve had before. In fact, 24 of the 98 partisan chambers in the nation flipped from D to R in 2010.
Drew Savicki is a state legislature political analyst. He says in a redistricting term, state parties are after creating, protecting, or breaking up what’s called a trifecta. That’s where one party holds the House, Senate, and governor’s office.
Right now, Republicans have 21 trifectas and Democrats have 15. There are 13 split state governments. (Nebraska has a unicameral legislature, so it doesn’t count in this list.)
Savicki says split states hold the most opportunity for both parties.
SAVICKI: Most state legislatures aren’t going to flip. It always comes down mostly to these swing states. Where one party either doesn’t have total control, or it’s divided government.
Democrats have set their sights on seven states where they made big gains in the 2018 midterms. Those states are Arizona, Texas, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
And money has poured in. In July, Texas Democrats saw five times more donation dollars than in 2016. Arizona Democrats saw a 300 percent increase over 2016.
Chaz Nuttycombe directs CNalysis, a state legislature forecasting group. He says Republicans are mostly focused on warding off Democratic assaults in their trifecta states of Arizona, Iowa, Missouri, and Texas. But they also have a new trifecta opportunity.
NUTTYCOMBE: If Republicans want to create a trifecta this year, their best opportunity is Montana. They’re slight favorites in the governor’s race and the state House and state Senate are safe Republican.
But a growing number of states and politicians are getting tired of redistricting politics.
Rita Albrecht is one. She’s a Democrat running for Minnesota’s State Senate against a Republican incumbent. Her party only needs to flip two Senate seats to create a Democratic trifecta in the state.
But Albrecht says she doesn’t want her party or Republicans to control redistricting. She’d like to see an independent redistricting committee do that.
ALBRECHT: I think that’s what Americans want. I think Minnesotans want us to be fair and equitable. And to me, that makes a lot of sense.
So far, seven other states have approved independent redistricting committees. These committees are supposed to eliminate gerrymandering. That’s when the political party in charge creates congressional boundaries that benefit them.
Chaz Nuttycombe says how well those committees work depends on the state.
NUTTYCOMBE: Some states have commissions they say are independent, but really they get stacked.
Two years ago, Michigan voters adopted an independent commission, so this will be the first time the state legislature doesn’t draw district lines.
Republican state House candidate Nate Ross says he’s hopeful the commission could be the start of a fairer redistricting era and he’s anxious to see District 67’s new borders.
ROSS: We might get more the rural area or more of the city of Lansing, but definitely, before the district changes, you know, trying to give it a shot here in 2020.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.
MARY REICHARD: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: breaking up Big Tech.
Last week, a House panel issued a report on the business practices of tech titans Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook. The report accused them of amassing “monopoly power.”
NICK EICHER: Democrats control the House, therefore the committee, therefore the report. And their bent toward regulation shows up in the recommendations. They range from breaking up the companies to providing more funding and oversight tools to the government’s antitrust agencies. The top Republican called the report’s factual findings “undeniable.” Even as he disagreed with some of the proposed remedies. The companies say they’re being punished for their success.
REICHARD: Joining us now to talk about where things go from here is Jason Thacker. He is chair of research in technology ethics at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Good morning, Jason!
JASON THACKER, GUEST: Good morning. Thank you for having me.
REICHARD: What was your biggest takeaway from this report? Did anything surprise you?
THACKER: Honestly, there wasn’t a ton that surprised me. A lot of this specific report was focused on antitrust, obviously. So it really wasn’t designed to engage a lot of the issues that everyday people are questioning—talking about the role of misinformation or the role of social media in our elections, the undue influence of algorithms. A lot of listeners might have seen The Social Dilemma in the last few weeks. This report doesn’t really address a lot of those kind of pressing question. It really focuses on antitrust matters and are these companies too big? Do they need to be broken up? Does there need to be additional regulation in order to protect consumers but also to push for greater competition.
REICHARD: Do you think the Big Tech companies will make any changes to try to preempt any proposed regulation?
THACKER: Possibly. It’s one of those things that right out of the gate you had Amazon and Google pointing out that a lot of these antitrust proposals—specifically in this report—were flawed. They misunderstood the ways that the businesses are set up. But Twitter and Facebook are making changes with the upcoming election about the spread of misinformation and a possibly contested election. And so you’re starting to see some changes and I think that’s really helpful and I think that’s encouraging.
But the report itself was kind of heavy-handed and some of the proposals are met with skepticism on both sides—specifically on more of your conservative senators and things. And I think it’s really important in this specific instance to note that this report didn’t have a single Republican sponsor or supporter. It was written by Democrats and in many ways it kind of reinforced a lot of the ways that Democrats have already been approaching these things in terms of Big Tech and antitrust.
REICHARD: From a cultural perspective, these platforms have become ubiquitous. Even critics often use them because they are so woven into the way we now communicate or go about our daily lives. So, what do you think is driving the groundswell of antipathy toward them? Are they victims of their own success?
THACKER: Yes and no. I mean, we’re kind of at a tipping point, kind of a crucial moment within our economy and in the life of our nation where you have these big technology companies really able to have outsized influence in many ways in the ways that we communicate, in the ways that we connect as a public. And so given that we’re facing a lot of challenges that are, I don’t like to use the word unprecedented in the land of 2020, but in many ways they kind of are because we don’t really know exactly how to navigate a lot of these things. And we’re kind of having to figure it out while we’re navigating them, while we’re right in the middle of it.
And so for me is thinking through is how do we address this even as Christians and how do we approach these things. And I think we need to be really nuanced and I think we need to take responsibility for the ways we use these tools every single day. But then also be really thoughtful about any types of regulatory approaches. How do we actually want to just go about a lot of these problems and hopefully bridging the aisle, bridging the gap between the left and the right and the liberals and conservatives to come up with some types of good, common sense solutions that really benefit not only consumers but also push for a better economy and business.
REICHARD: A lot of what happens next depends on the November election. What do you think are the likely next steps in this push to break up Big Tech, and how do you think it will affect our daily lives?
THACKER: Yeah, as you said, a lot of this does kind of ride on the election. So, in the short term I don’t think this is really going to change the nature of the conversation too much. As I said earlier, it kind of confirms what people already believed about these issues and about these situations. So, I don’t think the report itself will do that.
What it does do is it generates more conversation, even having conversations like this today. It generates more conversation, which is good. We need healthy public discourse around these really important issues—not just specifically antitrust regulation, but really just the role of social media and the role of technology companies in our society and in our economy. I think these are going to be the pressing issues that we’re going to be dealing with and facing over the next few years.
REICHARD: Jason Thacker is chair of research in technology ethics at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Thanks for joining us today!
THACKER: Thank you for having me.
NICK EICHER: Intruders are managing to breach the best security in the world—the White House.
Can you believe it?
These bandits appear to be wearing masks, not COVID masks. It looks like a typical bandit mask covering the eyes, making it more difficult to identify them.
Well, not that difficult to identify them.
JOHNS: Raccoons, man! Again! That’s the second time.
CNN reporter Joe Johns. One of the bandit raccoons snuck up behind him while he was live on the air.
JOHNS: GET! There he is!
He turns and tries to scare it off!
And then he goes back to his live report.
JOHNS: Now, no events on the president’s schedule today.
Raccoons evidently have the run of the place.
It’s a bigger problem than flies during the VP debate.
But Johns didn’t have the same tolerance level for the pesky creature as Vice President Pence had.
JOHNS: I felt something on my leg and the first thing I thought was it was a cameraman from another network. And I looked down and it’s a raccoon that had just grabbed my leg!
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: Today is Tuesday, October 13th. You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we are so glad to have you along today. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Knitting.
Besides its practical purpose, studies show the craft can have therapeutic value. But that’s old news for a group of friends in Virginia.
EICHER: They call themselves God’s Girls Knitters, and the work of their hands has blessed recipients all over the world. Senior Correspondent Kim Henderson has their story.
KIM HENDERSON, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Members of God’s Girls Knitters have been getting together once a week for 11 years. They’re a tight-knit group, but they let me inside their circle—for a little while.
SAUNDERS: This is Elaine, Pat, Janice…
Leader Susan Saunders owns the cozy basement where they gather on Friday mornings. At one end, a free-standing heater counters the cool of a show stopping Appalachian autumn.
AUDIO: [CHIMES AND CHATTER]
Five faithfuls have come today, but during a time for prayer requests before they begin, they mention absentees like Bess, who’s away on a motorcycle trip. And Patsy, whose husband had a stroke.
Then they pull out their knitting needles and go to town.
DELONG: This is a cable stitch…
Before retirement, the women were teachers, an innkeeper, an x-ray technologist. These days, they’re in a new line of work—the hats, booties, and blankets business. Every piece gets donated.
DELONG: I don’t like to say knit for charity. We knit for love.
That’s Janice DeLong. She and the other ladies have knitted thousands of items for foster kids, veterans, dialysis patients, even the Lakota Indians. Member Nancy Waggener puts their efforts in Biblical perspective.
WAGGENER: We’re just encouraging each other not to be weary in well-doing.
Plastic laundry baskets lining one wall are filled with items ready to be delivered to grateful non-profits. And while quality is important, here it’s quantity that really matters. Still, Nancy and Janice point out that each item is custom work.
WAGGENER: I wouldn’t want to just do plain stockinette roll brim hats from here to kingdom come. What makes it interesting and challenging is what are you going to do with it to make each one a little bit different from the other one?
DELONG: Whatever we knit, it’s going to fit somebody. So if the baby shoes turn out really small, there will be a premie somewhere that will fit those shoes. And if the gloves turn out really large, somewhere there’s a man they’re going to fit.
Some knitting projects are quick and easy, like the hundreds of cotton washcloths they send on mission trips to Honduras. But completed baby blankets? Well, they represent a lot more time. The soft white one laid across Janice’s lap is about half done. When it’s finished, it will go to the Blue Ridge Pregnancy Center, to a mom who chose life.
Susan Campbell serves as executive director of the center. She loves to get deliveries from God’s Girls Knitters.
CAMPBELL: Last year we had 180 lives saved, and more than 50 percent of those clients received a handmade gift from this wonderful group.
The knitters also send hats to an orphanage in Nepal. Member Elaine Nice smiles when asked what it’s like to know something she’s made graces a tiny head in Asia.
NICE: It’s exciting to think that you’re able to help somebody that far away, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t ever meet them. Hopefully we will meet them in heaven, because this is a ministry that leads children to the Lord.
But Friday mornings aren’t all work. Cranberry muffins wait in the wings as a tea kettle boils.
SAUNDERS: Earl Grey, Constant Comment (one of the oldest teas going) and toasted coconut? Whoa. Yeah.
Lively conversation is a given, too.
SAUNDERS: We talk about books, we talk about the word of the day, we talk about Lyme disease…
But Susan says one subject is off limits.
Their fellowship has extended into a spin-off group in nearby Forest, Virginia. Pat Chauncey recalls how her 7-year-old grandson, Spencer, even got involved with their work.
CHAUNCEY: I suggested to him one day, “You know, why don’t you go through your cars, and maybe the little boys in Honduras, because we give their moms washcloths, and we’ll give them a car. Well, he just loved that…
She says Spencer donated a bag full of toys to the Honduran effort.
CHAUNCEY: The next trip they came back with pictures of the little boys getting cars. So he’s got that hanging up in his bedroom.
Since God’s Girls Knitters formed in 2009, some 33 ladies have joined. An outline of one of each member’s hands, cut from construction paper, is part of a scrapbook. It helps them remember friends like Brenda, who died in 2018. The group made hats to donate on what would have been her birthday.
SAUNDERS: We had her daughter come here, and the gal from Allow the Children came. And we donated—I don’t know how many—bunches, bunches. So that was in her memory, yeah.
When I visited, God’s Girls Knitters was marking two occasions—their 11th anniversary and their last time to formally meet. No more Friday morning gatherings. Susan says it’s like in Ecclesiastes, an end to an important season in their lives. They’ll continue to knit items individually for organizations, and the craft and its ability to bless others will go on.
WAGGENER: Knitting crosses generations for us. My mother taught me to knit. These were women who were true workers at home.
Nancy says when she’s knitting, she can’t help but think of her mother. And the God’s Girls group. And the need to pass on skills to others.
WAGGENER: And so being able to find young people who are interested in learning these crafts is, it’s a bit of a stretch. I’m always looking for the younger girls at church who are showing an interest in these kinds of things.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kim Henderson in Lynchburg, Virginia.
NICK EICHER: One last reminder to reserve your seat to hear Kim tomorrow.
If you’re in or nearby Jackson, Mississippi, Kim Henderson is speaking tomorrow afternoon at First Presbyterian Church.
The theme is “Journalism is Never Neutral.” It’s open to the public, but seating is limited, so you’ll need to RSVP. Details at worldandeverything.org/reception.
NICK EICHER: Today is Tuesday, October 13th. 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 editor in chief Marvin Olasky now on the lessons he’s learned from hummingbirds.
MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: My wife Susan and I, along with WORLD interns when we have them, live in a tall house on the side of a hill. Bragging Texans call it Edwards Mountain, which means our restaurant with three tables is just above the treetops.
It’s a restaurant with outdoor dining only and very tiny customers: hummingbirds, each of which weighs 1/9 of an ounce: That’s about what a 9 ½-week-old unborn child weighs. Two centuries ago a writer, John Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, called hummingbirds the smallest but the most beautiful of all God’s winged creations.
I agree. Our Austin home sits right where the ranges of ruby-throated hummingbirds and their black-chinned brethren overlap, so we host both kinds. We love watching them fly forward or backward with equal ease. They beat their wings between 70 and 200 times per second. They can dive at speeds that reach 60 miles per hour.
But they are also desperately needy. The hummingbirds’ hyper-fast metabolism pushes them to eat each day at least twice their own body weight in tiny bugs, nectar, and sugar water. That’s like a human eating all the food on every shelf of a big refrigerator.
So hummingbirds are different in that way from all except the fattest of human beings. But a hummingbird and a human are similar in that neither is a birdbrain. Hummingbirds can remember flowers they have visited. They even remember which humans can be trusted to refill empty hummingbird feeders.
Hummingbirds also have the family values, or lack of them, that characterize much of America today. Female hummingbirds work for five days to build a 2-inch-diameter nest of buds and plants. The mom makes it about an inch deep. She then lays her white eggs. They’re about the size of jellybeans. She sits on them for two weeks. But the father, meanwhile, tries to mate with any female he can catch.
Hummingbirds also resemble humans in this election season in one more way. They are fearful. They take a drink of the water with sugar mixed in that our restaurant serves. Then they fly away, only to come back for another drink a minute later when the coast seems clear. So even though there is plenty for everyone, our hummingbird restaurants function at only 25% of capacity, and hummingbirds normally eat alone at our 4-seater tables. They attack other hummers and even bigger birds that infringe on their social isolation.
Amid election fears, hummingbirds can remind us to consider Christ’s words: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” We don’t know whether the coming election will be blessing or curse. We do know that God will not abandon us.
I’m Marvin Olasky.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: The Senate begins the third day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing. We’ll talk to WORLD’s Jamie Dean about the woman poised to become the newest Supreme Court justice.
And, we’ll meet one of the volunteers who helps keep state parks running.
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.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!