The World and Everything in It — January 14, 2021

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!

A recent court ruling in the U.K. is offering hope to parents fighting transgender treatment for children.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Also, Open Doors releases its annual list of countries where it’s hardest to be a Christian.

Plus we’ll meet a violinist who lost her livelihood during pandemic shutdowns, but found her calling.

And Cal Thomas on why political revenge won’t heal the country’s divisions.

BASHAM: It’s Thursday, January 14th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. Good morning!

BASHAM: Now the news with Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: House impeaches Trump for second time » The House of Representatives has impeached President Trump for a second time. 

AUDIO: Article 1 – incitement of insurrection

That charge stemming from last week’s deadly mob siege of the Capitol. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi read the final tally. 

PELOSI: On this vote the ayes are 232, the nays are 197. The resolution is adopted. Without objection, the motion to reconsider is laid upon the table. 

Many Republicans, like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, did not defend President Trump…

MCCARTHY: The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding. 

But McCarthy and most other GOP members argued that impeaching Trump again, a week before he leaves office, would only further divide the country. 

However, it was not a straight partyline vote. Ten Republicans crossed the aisle, voting “yes”—including the No. 3 GOP House leader, Liz Cheney. 

She said Trump—quote—“assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.” She added “Everything that followed was his doing.”

If a two-thirds majority in the Senate convicts Trump, it could then bar him from ever running again. But a Senate trial will not take place until after President-Elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Wednesday. 

YouTube suspends President Trump’s account » Another online platform is locking the president’s account. WORLD’s Paul Butler  reports. 

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: YouTube has suspended President Trump’s channel for at least a week. 

The Google-owned platform said it’s freezing the account due to—quote—“ongoing potential for violence.”

And the company said it removed uploaded content to Trump’s channel on January 12th for inciting violence. It did not provide any further explanation. 

The platform is not removing his channel, but under the suspension, Trump is blocked from uploading new videos for at least seven days. YouTube is also disabling comments on his videos indefinitely. 

Facebook and its subsidiary, Instagram, have also suspended Trump’s accounts, while Twitter and Snapchat have permanently banned him.

Critics call the moves a troubling encroachment on freedom of speech. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Paul Butler. 

De Blasio: NYC will terminate business with Trump organization » Meantime, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says his city is terminating all contracts with President Trump’s business enterprise.

DE BLASIO: It’s just really clear, this president has committed an unlawful act. He has disgraced himself. He will no longer profit from his relationship with New York City. We will not allow it.

De Blasio said the Trump Organization earns about $17 million a year in profits from its contracts. It runs two ice skating rinks and a carousel in Central Park as well as a golf course in the Bronx.

The mayor said the city can legally terminate a contract if the leadership of a company is engaged in criminal activity. 

And de Blasio said—quoting here—“Inciting an insurrection against the United States government clearly constitutes criminal activity.”

A Trump Organization spokesperson responded, saying “This is nothing more than political discrimination, an attempt to infringe on the First Amendment and we plan to fight vigorously.”

U.S. eclipses single-day record for COVID-19 deaths » Coronavirus deaths in the United States have set another single-day record. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: More than 4,300 died in the United States Tuesday from the illness, with Arizona and California among the hardest-hit states.

More than 380,000 Americans have died during the pandemic—a total that is now closing in fast on the U.S. death toll from World War II. Just over 400,000 Americans died in the war.  

Deaths have been rising sharply in the past 2 and 1/2 months. And the country is in the most lethal phase of the outbreak yet, even as the vaccine is rolled out. New cases are running at nearly a quarter-million per day on average. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Ontario announces lockdown, UK restrictions to stay in place » Canada’s most crowded province has ordered a new lockdown as coronavirus cases surge. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the stay-at-home order that takes effect today. The order does grant exemptions for essential workers and activities like seeking health care and grocery shopping. But police will enforce violations. 

Meantime across the Atlantic, British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said his country’s lockdown will remain in place as long as necessary, but he said he’s optimistic.  

HANCOCK: We’re on track to deliver the vaccination program to the four groups who are most vulnerable to COVID by the 15th of February. That’s really good news. 

The British government imposed restrictions around the first of the year in hopes of lifting them in mid-February. But Hancock said the government won’t ease the lockdown before delivering vaccines to the highest priority groups. 

The U.K. is the epicenter of a new more contagious variant of the coronavirus.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: a common-sense ruling on transgenderism in the U.K.

Plus, Cal Thomas offers a suggestion for building a better future.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: It’s Thursday, the 14th of January, 2021. 

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. First up: gender dysphoria.

Before we go any further, this is a story that might not be appropriate for younger listeners. So if you’ve got the kids around, you might want to hit pause and come back later.

BASHAM: Last month, Great Britain’s highest court handed down a ruling that limits access to puberty blockers for minors. The decision put the brakes on the headlong rush to treat gender dysphoria as a physical problem, rather than a mental and emotional one. Child advocates hailed it as a victory for vulnerable teens who need protection, sometimes from themselves.

WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown reports.

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: When Keira Bell was 16, she wanted to be a boy. She struggled with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts. She thought she’d been born in the wrong body, so she went to London’s Tavistock Centre. It runs the country’s only gender identity development clinic. There she got puberty blockers. Then cross-sex hormones like testosterone. Then a double mastectomy—all so she could live as a man.

Here she is in a 2020 interview with the BBC.

BELL: Years ago, when I went to the clinic, it felt like it was saving me from suicidal ideation, and just depression in general. And at the time, I felt like it relieved all those mental health conditions I was struggling alongside gender dysphoria…

But her mental health struggles persisted, and Bell began to regret making such radical, life-changing decisions as a teen. She wanted to be a girl again.

Eventually, Bell sued the gender clinic, saying she was rushed into treatment without enough counseling and therapy. She says no one challenged her ideas or offered a different way of thinking.

BELL: I should have been told to wait, and not affirmed in my gender identity I was claiming to have…

In December, Bell won her case. The U.K.’s highest court ruled that minors under the age of 16 should not be given puberty blockers without a court order. The ruling emphasized the “experimental nature” of the drugs: The lack of evidence showing they help improve mental health, or that they’re even safe and without serious side effects.

Dr. Andre Van Mol is a family practitioner in California. He says the court is exactly right.

VAN MOL: Well, it’s hardly a hormonally neutral thing you’re doing to the person. The consequences of treatment are highly complex and potentially lifelong and life changing in the most fundamental way imaginable.

Puberty blockers are just what they sound like. As long as the patient gets regular injections, the drugs stop puberty from happening. Advocates say it’s a pause button that allows children extra time to decide what gender they really want to be. They insist the effects are fully reversible.

But Dr. Van Mol points out that’s not a sure thing. After all, during puberty, there’s a lot going on: Major changes in organs and musculature.

VAN MOL: Puberty is the time of the greatest increase in bone density a person has in their life. So if you block that, that’s a problem. You’re asking for premature osteopenia and osteoporosis.

The brain also develops rapidly during puberty.

VAN MOL: Hindering of brain development milestones, you know, can you get those back later? We don’t know. 

Dr. Van Mol says it just isn’t possible for a young person to make an informed choice on something like this because they cannot grasp the scope and implications of the decision.

Ryan Anderson is a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

ANDERSON: When you think about the things that are really, really meaningful to adults, when it comes to family life and their fertility and their ability to have children and to nurse children that to kids aren’t even on the radar screen, right?

Parents are in an especially tough spot.

LARUE: My name is Gigi LaRue. And I am using a pseudonym. I work with Our Duty, USA, which is a group of parents whose children have become convinced that they’re born in the wrong body.

LaRue uses a pseudonym to protect her young daughter, who struggles with gender dysphoria. 

LARUE: She sort of got the idea from someone else. And, you know, it made sense to her because she feels uncomfortable. But it’s a very alluring concept to believe that any discomfort you have in your body can be fixed with surgery and drugs.

LaRue says she’s one of the most liberal people on the planet. But she doesn’t think kids should be making gender decisions so young.

LARUE: And little kids are, who still believe in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus, are grasping these ideas and applying them to themselves. And being encouraged by parents and the community to be, you know, be your authentic self, instead of being allowed to explore tutus and, you know, dolls as a boy, they’re being told that they’re really a girl, or vice versa.

Without getting to the root problems, puberty blockers and hormones and surgery won’t fix anything.

LARUE: A lot of them detransition. There’s a lot of kids who have changed their minds. Because they weren’t ready and it didn’t solve it. And they did make a decision too early. And so I think that that’s trying to sort of be hush hush because nobody wants to admit that this doesn’t always work.

Instead of rushing to intervention and changing the body, Dr. Van Mol recommends trying to understand why children feel this way.

VAN MOL: You’re going to find underlying issues both in the child and the family. And those can be addressed, you know, interventions can happen to help those which will also improve the situation.

Gigi LaRue wants more people to speak up.

LARUE: It’s really difficult to find somebody who will even talk about it with you, because everyone’s afraid. We’re not allowed to talk about it, we’re not allowed to publicly disagree with it, because you’re immediately labeled as phobic or somehow anti, which is not the case, I just don’t believe children should be medicalized.

She doesn’t agree with conservatives on much of anything. But she says advocates for puberty blockers are practicing bad medicine. And that should unite people on both sides of the aisle.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: persecution.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Every year, persecution watchdog Open Doors releases a list of the places where it’s most difficult for Christians to practice their faith. This year’s list includes some familiar names and reveals some disturbing new trends.

WORLD’s Leigh Jones reports.

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: The global pandemic has disrupted life for just about everyone around the world. But for Christians, that disruption has been especially painful.

CURRY: Governments and extremists are using COVID-19 as a way to justify an increase in the persecution of Christians.

David Curry is CEO of Open Doors. He says in some places, like India, Christians who have lost their jobs during lockdowns can’t get access to government aid.

CURRY: In many cases, those village leaders will not distribute food to Christians because they think they have either, in a religious sense, brought a curse upon themselves, or because they say, you’re not part of our group. You’re not part of our tribe.

In places like Somalia, Islamic militants are using the pandemic to stoke hatred and fear.

CURRY: Al-Shabaab, the terror group within that country, has spread the word and is reporting that the coronavirus is the fault of Christians. And it’s this kind of misinformation in some communities that is driving some of this persecution.

But perhaps the most dangerous trend related to the pandemic involves an increase in government surveillance, starting with the place where the new coronavirus originated.

Chris Meserole is a foreign policy expert with the Brookings Institution. He says that while public surveillance in China is nothing new, Beijing has now honed its ability to track people in private.

MESEROLE: What’s never been possible before, really, is a surveillance technology that enables the regime to ban like private forms of religion. Even kind of the private messages and communications that people have, or what they say in their home. Or banning and effectively enforcing the ability of religious communities to kind of meet in private, maybe not in a public church but in somebody’s house. And on top of that, they’ve also got this incredible array of geolocation data so that if you are trying to meet with certain folks in private, they can actually figure that out and begin to unwind some of those private religious communities, too.

Meserole says when that’s paired with existing systems that track online communication and public movements, the government can build a frightening level of detail about where people have been and what they’ve been doing.

MESEROLE: And it’s a new technology that we haven’t really seen before used in quite this way. And it’s something that, again, if we’re concerned about religious freedom we should really be taking it seriously.

Because what starts in China won’t stay there. Rushan Abbas is a Uighur American activist who advocates for China’s persecuted Muslim minority group. She says Beijing’s campaign against Uighur Muslims is part of a pilot program.

ABBAS: China is already exporting this to other parts of the world, to other countries. So if we don’t stop what the Chinese government is doing to Uighurs right now, just look at the Uighur people today and imagine the future, the tomorrow for the world.

David Curry says that while the United States is in the midst of its own debate about online privacy and censorship, it’s nowhere near China in terms of surveillance.

CURRY: I also think, though, that if it helps you to imagine what it might be like within America, let that motivate you to care deeply about what’s happening to people of faith, Christians, around the world, wherever they may be. Whatever pressure or intolerance you sense, you feel, I can promise you it’s one thousand times worse in every country on the World Watch List.

The top 10 countries on this year’s list are North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, Nigeria, and India.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Necessity is the mother of invention, and coronavirus lockdowns have proven that old adage to be very true. 

The owner of a bed and breakfast in northern Michigan says business suffered when virus restrictions forced him to shut down the dining room.

LEASK: I knew at the end of summer the writing was on the wall and we had to come up with something.

That’s when Graeme Leask got creative. He installed five shanties on the property. Those are little shacks popular with ice fishermen. 

Leask is a Scottish transplant to the snowy lakefront region. He told WPBN…

LEASK: What’s more northern Michigan than ice shanties? So we built them and here we are.

With the help of local artists, he turned them each into a charming private dining room. And they’ve been a big hit with customers, allowing him to bring four people back to work and even hire a new employee!

LEASK: It’s wonderful! I thank everybody for their support and keeping local people working.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Thursday, January 14th. You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we are so glad you are! 

Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: COVID-19 silver-linings.

BROWN: The coronavirus and the pandemic shook up everyone’s life in one way or another. Many of those changes were painful and hard. But turns out, some were for good. 

WORLD’S Sarah Schweinsberg has our story.

AUDIO: [Screechy violin]

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Violinist Gaga Won has a new student. The little girl has the look of a deer in headlights. 

Her eyes stare straight ahead—wide and brown. Her legs are stiff. 

WON: So don’t lock your knees. 

Gaga Won encourages her to relax. And focus on the strings and her fingers. 

WON: Good, so holding a bow. Thumb. So these two fingers are here and then pinky on the rest. 

Won stands in front of her. Her black bobbed hair pulled into a ponytail, arms wrapped in a bright gold sweater. 

She reaches out and repositions the violin and the bow in the student’s arms. Won reminds her to start beats on a down-bow. Then the up-bow. 

The young girl gingerly scratches the strings of her violin. 

AUDIO: [Screechy violin]

Won shows the student how to move the bow with confidence. 

AUDIO: [Won playing]

On a second try, the student’s violin starts to sing. 

AUDIO: [Student playing]

It’s one of the many small victories that makes teaching music so fun—an experience Gaga Won didn’t plan on having. 

WON: I don’t usually live here. My parents live here. But I usually live in San Francisco. 

Here is Fort Dodge, Iowa. 

Won’s family left South Korea for the United States when she was 12 years old. 

They first settled in Michigan. The family didn’t speak English. And they didn’t have much money. 

WON: When you first move into like, in a different country, you know, it’s you always have a hard time like trying to survive. 

Won had started to learn the violin and piano in South Korea. In America, her mother told her they could no longer afford lessons. A year later, she took up her instruments again until her mother got sick and she had to quit. 

That’s when a kind teacher stepped in. 

WON: I just like happened to like, saw my teacher on the street. And then my teacher was like, oh, Gaga, are you not showing up and lesson but then, I couldn’t really speak English very well. So I was just, start crying. Told my teacher that. My mom’s not well and he offered me free lessons for a year or two years. 

With the help of her teacher, Gaga Won earned a scholarship to a music boarding school. Then to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Then to the Yale School of Music. 

All along the way teachers taught her, pushed her, critiqued her, encouraged her. Won can remember the way each one affected her playing and her life. 

WON: I think it’s really important to have like a really, really good relationship with a teacher. Yeah, then then it will like spark.

After Yale, Won moved back to San Francisco. There she auditioned for parts in prestigious orchestras. She toured Japan and Italy, playing in front of large audiences.

MUSIC: [Won playing violin]

Won loved playing the violin. She loved her music community. By most professional violin standards, she’d arrived. But life was still a rat-race. 

WON: I thought like, if I reached this then like, I’ll be I thought I’ll be happy I’ll be done. But then they’re like, if you go up there, there’s more. It’s just like never ending.

MUSIC: [Won playing violin] 

Then the coronavirus came to San Francisco. It quickly shut down the city and its music scene. 

WON: I was suffering so much during the pandemic in San Francisco. 

After nearly eight weeks of lockdown, Gaga Won began asking herself why she was paying to live in a city where she couldn’t work. 

So she decided to return to the small city of Fort Dodge, Iowa where her parents run a South Korean restaurant. 

WON: So coming home was kind of a relief. 

She tried to work in the restaurant, but she got in the way more than she helped. 

WON: I was so like, useless. 

Then a music teacher heard she was back in town. She asked Won to take on some students of her own. So she began teaching violin and piano. 

AUDIO: [Piano playing, instruction] 

Won gives lessons at an old piano. A young boy with a blond buzz-cut calls out the names of notes.


Today, another small victory. Gaga Won can tell he practiced this week. He’s usually quite creative with his excuses. 

WON: So you actually practiced this time. (Clapping) Good job! High Five.  

Won says when she came  back to Iowa, she thought she’d return to San Francisco as soon as possible. But now, she plans to stick around. 

So many teachers poured into her life. Now, it’s her turn. 

WON: I’m actually glad I get to teach here. And I am supporting all my students and you know, the community. I also learned a lot of things when I did the teaching. 

And she’s enjoying the peace her new town offers and the time with her parents. 

Things she never knew she needed—until COVID opened her eyes. 

WON: I did miss a lot. And I miss performing and stage. But I think staying with my parents. It also kind of helped me stay calm more, rather than only thinking about the future, I think I’m more focused on now.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Coming up next, a preview of Listening In. This week, a conversation with conservative author Rod Dreher. He believes a “soft totalitarianism” is taking hold in America. In this excerpt of the conversation, host Warren Smith asks Dreher to define terms.

WARREN SMITH: You talk about hard totalitarianism, soft totalitarianism, and authoritarianism. Would you kind of define and position those phrases against each other. 

ROD DREHER: Sure, yeah. This is important to get clear. Authoritarianism is a form of government that you have when all the political power is concentrated in one leader or one party. Totalitarianism is an extreme form of authoritarianism. And that’s when the same political power is concentrated, but every aspect of life is taken to be political. Where they really want to control reality. 

Well, I believe that what the what Solzhenitsyn and the communist anti-communist dissidents lived under was hard totalitarianism. It was a totalitarianism characterized by a police state, by the gulags, by prisons for political dissidents, by secret police and torture. 

We don’t have that. We have rather, a softer form of totalitarianism, where the not only the state, but major institutions like Google, Amazon, like universities, like media and others, are manufacturing consent and making it impossible to for people who don’t go along with their official lies–for example, or usually with identity politics–they’re making it impossible for people who refuse to go along with that, to work and to be part of the public square. 

They’re doing this not with the use of secret police or these hard methods, but rather by soft methods, like–well, it doesn’t seem very soft if you’re canceled, but that’s that’s what I’m talking about. By cancel culture, by credentialism. I think it’s going to be difficult, for example, for Christians to practice law or get into medicine if they don’t affirm some things that Christians can’t affirm. 

And finally, I call it soft because it’s being done for the sake of therapy. These totalitarians say that we’re doing it just to make a safer space for marginalized identities, that sort of thing. It makes it no less totalitarian Warren that they’re doing it for soft reasons, using softer methods.

BASHAM: That’s Rod Dreher talking to Warren Smith. To hear the complete conversation, look for Listening In tomorrow wherever you get your podcasts.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Thursday, January 14th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.

Cal Thomas now on why political revenge won’t bring the healing our country so desperately needs.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: They say “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” That means it’s better to deliver retribution for a perceived or actual injustice after time has passed, so it can be done dispassionately. But sometimes it’s better not to serve that dish at all.

Dispassion is in retreat in Washington. Instead of serving revenge cold, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and many other Democrats are turning up the heat.

Some conservatives I hear from believe Democrats are trying to impeach President Trump for a second time and deny him the right to ever hold office again because they fear his policy successes and the 74 million who voted for him.

That’s more than revenge. It’s vindictive. 

If Pelosi and her fellow Democrats proceed with their threats, it will only further divide the country, deepen conspiracy theories, possibly lead to more violence, and hinder the confirmation of Joe Biden’s nominees for critical offices. It could also embolden our enemies. 

We have a better model for dealing with a president many feel has disgraced himself and the office of the presidency. It’s what Gerald Ford did for former President Richard Nixon following his resignation over the Watergate affair.

On September 8th, 1974, Ford pardoned Nixon. He noted a Senate trial would take up to a year and “in the meantime the tranquility to which this nation has been restored by the events of recent weeks”—meaning Nixon’s resignation—“could be irreparably lost by the prospects of bringing to trial a former president of the United States.”

Ford continued in his pardon announcement: “The prospects of such a trial will cause prolonged and divisive debate over the propriety of exposing to further punishment and degradation a man who has already paid the unprecedented penalty of relinquishing the highest office of the United States.”

True, President Trump’s situation is different. He hasn’t resigned or suffered from his actions, real or alleged. In fact, he’s categorically denied responsibility. But the principle remains the same.  

This vindictiveness has spread to members of the White House staff and even to Trump supporters in Congress. There have been calls, including from Forbes magazine, to deny them future employment as punishment for their association with Trump.

This is reminiscent of the Hollywood blacklist, the “Red Scare,” and the McCarthy era. Where are the principled people who courageously stood-up against those smears? If they don’t stand up again now, they risk possible future harm to themselves and to the country.

The best policy now is to allow Trump to leave office and let the justice system work. If he’s committed crimes, let the courts deal with them. Congress should focus on building a better future, rather than dwelling on a bitter past. Vindictiveness will only turn him into a martyr in the minds of his supporters. That, too, would be bad for the country.

I’m Cal Thomas.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Tomorrow: Trevin Wax joins us for Culture Friday. We’ll talk about the push to censor conservative voices online.

And, I’ll review the latest Tom Hanks movie.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Megan Basham.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.

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

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

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. 

Go now in grace and peace.

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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