MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
The Biden Administration is just now in place, but may face confrontation with Iran sooner rather than later.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Also the sights and sounds of the inauguration from someone who was there.
Plus two Georgia grandmothers reflect on the sanctity of life.
And our editor in chief finds some protection for the unborn within the words of Roe v Wade.
REICHARD: It’s Thursday, January 21st. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. Good morning!
REICHARD: Now it’s time for news with Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Biden gets to work after smooth inauguration » President Joe Biden woke up this morning in the White House, ready for his first full day on the job.
His inauguration went smoothly on Wednesday—no security issues or disruptions. He took the oath of office right around noon Eastern Time, Chief Justice John Roberts administering:
ROBERTS: Preserve, protect, and defend – BIDEN: Preserve, protect, and defend
ROBERTS: The Constitution of the United States -BIDEN: The Constitution of the United States
ROBERTS: So help you God? – BIDEN: So help me God
ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President. (cheers)
The president declared that “democracy has prevailed,” as he was sworn in front of the U.S. Capitol, two weeks after rioters laid siege to the building.
BIDEN: We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative against liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.
COVID-19 precautions limited the audience to a small faction of a typical inauguration crowd.
Biden led attendees in a moment of silence for the roughly 400,000 Americans lost to the virus and called for renewed resolve to fight the pandemic.
BIDEN: We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation, one nation! And I promise you this, as the Bible says, weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning. We will get through this together.
The celebration wasn’t quite the same in the middle of the pandemic, but pop star Lady Gaga was on hand to perform the Star-Spangled Banner.
And country music icon Garth Brooks sang Amazing Grace.
Biden signs 17 executive orders on day one » As promised, President Biden wasted no time getting to work on his agenda Wednesday. Immediately after settling into the White House, he signed a series of executive orders. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown reports.
ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: President Biden wore a mask in the Oval Office Wednesday, seated at the Resolute Desk behind a stack of orders.
He signed a total of 17 orders on day one. Among them, an order mandating masks on all federal property. He also signed an order rejoining the Paris climate accord. Another extends moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, and an order pausing student loan repayments.”
While his predecessor did not attend Biden’s inauguration, he did follow through on one tradition—leaving behind a letter.
President Biden said Trump “wrote a very generous letter.” But he said he would not reveal its contents until he had a chance to speak with Trump.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.
Trump skips inauguration, receives sendoff en route to South Florida » As the nation’s leaders gathered at the Capitol Wednesday morning, President Trump departed for his new home in South Florida.
A short time before Biden took the oath of office, President Trump arrived at Joint Base Andrews for a brief send off ceremony.
And speaking to a small crowd, the president delivered one final address on the tarmac. He again wished the incoming administration well, and highlighted accomplishments of the last four years—including tax cuts, a partial overhaul of federal courts, and investments in national defense.
TRUMP: We rebuilt the United States military. We created a new force called Space Force.
The president then one final time boarded Air Force One. The song playing on loudspeakers as he departed: Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”
MUSIC: FRANK SINATRA, MY WAY
About two hours later, he arrived in Palm Beach, Florida. Supporters lined the streets as Trump’s final presidential motorcade taxied him to his Mar-a-Lago resort. He arrived home just minutes before Biden was sworn in as president.
Trump issues final pardons, clemency actions » In his final 24 hours hours as president, Trump issued a flurry of pardons and clemency actions. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: President Trump extended pardons or clemency to more than a hundred people early Wednesday morning.
Among them, his former chief strategist Steve Bannon. Prosecutors accused him of misusing cash from a border wall fundraising effort.
He also pardoned Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy. He pleaded guilty last fall in a lobbying scheme. Another on the list was Ken Kurson, a friend of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. He was charged with cyberstalking during a heated divorce.
But his final list of pardons was mostly full of more conventional candidates, many of them championed by criminal justice activists.
Trump commuted the sentence of a man who spent more than two decades in prison on drug and weapons charges, but had shown exemplary behavior behind bars. He did the same for a former Marine sentenced in 2000 following a cocaine conviction.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Powerful winds wreak havoc in Calif. » Powerful winds have wreaked havoc this week in California.
The winds blew months-old embers from a deadly wildfire back to life and fanned other fires up and down the state. The wind and flames also prompted safety blackouts to tens of thousands of people.
And Eric Sherwin with the San Bernardino County Fire Dept. urged drivers to watch out, warning that wind gusts could be strong enough to topple tractor trailers.
SHERWIN: For our eastbound and northbound traffic, they tend to rollover onto the shoulder. However, our westbound trucks and our southbound trucks do tend, when they roll over they roll over into traffic lanes. So give these truck drivers a wide berth!
Don Mandy lives in Bass Lake, just north of Fresno. Strong winds knocked a 100-foot-tall pine tree onto his house.
MANDY: Sounded like an earthquake. The house just did like this—bump-boomp!—and then I [SIC] whoa, that’s a tree!
Gusts began Monday night, howling at speeds of nearly 100 mph in some areas.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: Iran’s hopes for a U.S. policy reset.
Plus, Marvin Olasky offers a suggestion to the Supreme Court.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Thursday, the 21st of January, 2021.
We’re so glad you’ve joined us for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up: Iran.
The new administration faces a list of daunting challenges, including public health and the economic fallout from the lockdowns. So it’s not likely that Iran tops the priority list. But that could change.
BROWN: Some experts say Tehran may force its way onto the Biden agenda. The rogue state may want to test an administration it views as weaker than its predecessor. Is team Biden ready? WORLD’s Jill Nelson reports.
JILL NELSON, REPORTER: In May 2018, then President Donald Trump announced a major shift in U.S. policy toward Iran.
TRUMP: I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. In a few moments I will sign a presidential memorandum to begin reinstating U.S. nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime.
And in January 2020, Trump authorized the assasination of Iran’s most powerful military commander, General Qasem Suleimani.
These actions earned Trump a reputation in the Middle East as a tough guy.
KNIGHTS: Their militias and Iran itself have more respect for the Trump administration when it comes to its track record at undertaking military retaliation. They don’t know what the Biden administration will be like yet.
Michael Knights is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He says Iran will likely test President Joe Biden’s determination and level of attention to Iran in the first six months of his administration. Iran’s presidential election is scheduled for June. And Knights says Iran’s proxy groups are itching for revenge against the United States for Soleimani’s death.
KNIGHTS: Those militias have been restrained while the Trump administration was still in position in case it retaliated against Iran directly but perhaps Iran won’t be able to restrain those Iraqi militias after January 20th. In fact, some of those militias have been saying exactly that: We have to wait until after January 20th to get our revenge.
That could mean an attack on Americans in Iraq, Syria, or the Gulf region.
Other signs of trouble brewing: Iran earlier this month seized a South Korean oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran has $7 billion dollars in oil payments frozen in South Korea due to U.S. sanctions.
Knights says Iran has a well-established playbook for moving itself up the international agenda.
KNIGHTS: They may do things to attract attention to the Iran portfolio and to the urgency of reentering nuclear negotiations or undertaking sanctions relief.
Biden wants to re-enter the Iran deal if Tehran returns to full compliance. That would allow lifting sanctions. But Israel and some Arab States worry a return to the nuclear deal means Washington will turn a blind eye to Iran’s bad behavior in the region.
Knights says some of these concerns are warranted:
KNIGHTS: The Biden team is very hesitant to link the nuclear and nonnuclear issues together and say we can’t have pro progress on nuclear issues unless we have progress on the nonnuclear. But I think in reality the two are kind of linked.
Others have pointed out the benefits of Trump’s “maximum pressure” approach. Jake Sullivan is President Biden’s pick for national security adviser. He was part of the original negotiations with Iran for the nuclear agreement, also known as the JCPOA. He acknowledged during an interview with the Hudson Institute last May that he was wrong about some aspects of the Trump administration’s Iran policy.
SULLIVAN: Advocates and defenders of the JCPOA, myself included, thought when the Trump administration pulled out and imposed unilateral sanctions, that those sanctions were not likely to be as effective, because the Trump administration wasn’t bringing the rest of the world along with them. That didn’t turn out to be true. Actually, those sanctions have been very effective in the narrow sense of causing deep economic pain in Iran.
But Sullivan also pointed out a major drawback to leaving the nuclear deal: Iran is closer to a nuclear weapon today than when Trump took office. And we no longer have a way to monitor Tehran’s quest for a nuclear weapon.
Iran announced this month that it’s using more advanced centrifuges and enriching uranium to 20 percent. That crosses a red line drawn by many European countries and Israel.
Former Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross says Iran has shrunk the time frame it needs to reach weapons-grade material.
ROSS: We need an approach that’s going to extend that time and therefore reduce the nature of the threat.
Ross spent 25 years serving in senior national security positions for both Democrat and Republican presidents. He does not think a return to the nuclear deal is feasible for the Biden team.
ROSS: You’re going to find it difficult to get Republican support and you do certainly have doubts from some of our regional partners.
Ross proposes a “less for less” approach. For example, Iran scales back its uranium enrichment and centrifuges while the United States allows Tehren to access some of its overseas accounts. That would keep the sanctions in place.
ROSS: So I view the less for less arrangement as a way to get around some of the difficulties created by the JCPOA while also building what is a more sustainable basis to buy time and preserve leverage at the same point.
Maintaining leverage would allow the administration to deal with other issues like Iran’s regional destabilization, human rights violations, and ballistic missile program.
Michael Knights says rebuilding nuclear negotiations will likely take time, but we should keep an eye on the clock.
KNIGHTS: Some people wonder if it’s a very short window, if we’ve got, it can’t be done in the first six months of 2021 but it kind of has to be done in the last six months of 2021 otherwise that window may be lost forever because the Iranians for instance push forward with their nuclear program to the point where there is no turning back.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Jill Nelson.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: witnessing the inauguration.
The United States doesn’t have many occasions for pomp and ceremony. We can chalk that up to our forebearer’s emphasis on substance over showmanship. But the inauguration of a new president is the one time we wallow in tradition and celebrate the endurance of the American experiment.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: This year, we had a lot less wallowing and a lot more worrying. Soldiers outnumbered inauguration guests. And the U.S. Capital seemed more like a city under siege than a city welcoming a peaceful transfer of power.
WORLD Reporter Emily Belz didn’t exactly have a front-row seat to yesterday’s events. Not many people did! But she was in Washington and joins us now to talk about what it was like.
Good morning, Emily!
EMILY BELZ, REPORTER: Hi! Good to be with you.
REICHARD: You’re based in New York City now, but you spent quite a few years living in D.C. What struck you most about the city when you arrived this week?
BELZ: It is completely transformed in terms of the barricades being everywhere. There’s a very large green zone is what they’re calling it where they put up barricades and fences and blocked vehicles from coming through. So it’s very strange to see military troops getting coffee at your local coffee shop, but it also, of course, made me feel very safe. It maybe was a little bit of an overreaction, I think, having upwards of 30,000 extra law enforcement in the city, but it was reassuring for somebody covering this.
REICHARD: The security perimeter around the inauguration itself was incredibly tight. How close were you able to get and what was it like where you were?
BELZ: Well, I unfortunately had to plan this all very last-minute because our D.C. reporter got COVID and so the credentialing process for the inauguration happens well ahead of time and there’s a lot of security protocols involved in that, as well as the fact that we’re in a pandemic means that they require testing before you could even enter the perimeter and that had to be done well ahead of time. So, all of that to say that because of the last-minute nature, I couldn’t get into the perimeter and get the tickets for that. But I think it was better from a reporting standpoint to be outside the perimeter with the regular folks and all the rabble, I guess, because that was where we thought there would be some action, potentially, some protests. And, I mean, I think that’s where the law enforcement was concerned about some violence happening. So that’s why I wanted to be there was just in case something happened. So it worked out, I guess, that I didn’t get a ticket so that I could be there to see if anything went wrong. Which, fortunately, it did not.
REICHARD: The large-scale rallies and protests officials feared did not materialize. But the National Park Service did set aside two areas along Pennsylvania Avenue for a small number of demonstrators. About 100 people each. Did you stop by there?
BELZ: I did not visit that part of the perimeter. It was a very large perimeter, but there were a number of protests closer to the Capitol. It was very small groups of people, I mean, I saw a few people with signs questioning the legitimacy of the election and some people with Black Lives Matter signs and some Westboro Baptist protesters, but it was all very unorganized and scattered. I don’t know exactly who the groups were that were in the official First Amendment zones. I didn’t get down that far.
REICHARD: What about the people you encountered as you walked around? What were they doing or saying?
BELZ: You know, the interesting thing is that there were mostly street preachers. It was strange. It was people with megaphones walking through these empty streets telling everyone they were on their way to hell. So those were the overwhelming people that I saw, the category of people that I saw. But otherwise there were the usual—some fans of Donald Trump and some fans of Joe Biden who were sporting kind of their team’s merchandise. But I did interview some people who showed up just because they kind of wanted to get in on the action if anything happened. So, one guy I talked to showed up with all this pepper spray and all this gear and he said he was worried about some of these militias coming and he wanted to help fight back, I guess. So there were people like that who seemed to be kind of drawn to the excitement of it, the potential for action, but it all stayed pretty calm aside from that.
REICHARD: Emily Belz is a reporter for WORLD Magazine. You can read her account of yesterday’s inauguration at WNG.org. Thanks for joining us today, Emily!
BELZ: So great to be with you, Mary.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: A high school student in New Jersey just wanted to try out his Christmas present. The scientifically minded young man had received a Geiger counter. You know, the thing that measures radiation.
He wound up causing the school to be evacuated!
Here’s why. As part of a science project, he brought his Geiger counter to school along with a shard of an antique plate called Fiestaware. Brightly colored dishes from around the 1930s, glazed with uranium oxide. And that is radioactive!
Someone sounded the alarm and a hazmat crew arrived. Finding nothing dangerous, everything returned to normal.
The school hasn’t ruled out punishing him, but some scientists wrote to defend his curiosity and pointed out the radiation the plates do emit is harmless.
BROWN: Much ado about nothing, I guess?
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Thursday, January 21st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.
Nearly 50 years ago this month the United States Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade. The result overturned all state abortion laws and replaced them with one of the most permissive in the western world.
BROWN: Eleven years later, President Ronald Reagan designated the third Sunday in January—as “Sanctity of Human Life Day.”
This weekend many will recognize Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, including two Georgia grandmothers. They told me why they believe every life is worthy of respect, protection and care.
ALVEDA KING: My mom wasn’t ready to have a baby but my granddaddy convinced her.
MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: Alveda King was born in Atlanta, Georgia, January 22, 1951 into a family of preachers—her father, uncle, and grandfather. By the time she turned 18, two of them were gone.
ALVEDA KING: My uncle, Martin Luther King was killed in 1968 and my dad A.D. King was killed in 1969.
KIM DIXON: I grew up in DeKalb County…
DeKalb County, Georgia, is about 20 miles east of Atlanta. That’s where Kim Dixon was born, January 24, 1968.
KIM DIXON: I had a great mom, a great dad and I had a great childhood. We were involved in a local church.
They even got baptized at the same time.
KIM DIXON: And we all went down together and we were all in the baptismal pool together as a family. It was very much like a family decision rather than God speaking to me individually.
But looking back, Dixon says she never made a personal decision to follow Jesus.
KIM DIXON: Was searching, probably in really bad places was searching the world for happiness or joy.
Alveda King tells a similar story.
ALVEDA KING: So in the 1970s I had been married, divorced and was out and just in the world.
In her mid-twenties, King became a mother. Then she got pregnant again with her second child.
ALVEDA KING: Abortion was new. Abortion became legal in 1973 on my birthday, January 22. So the father was involved, he knew and he wasn’t ready for us to have another baby. And those who were advising him were saying, oh, it’s safe. And it won’t hurt as bad as pulling a tooth. They told me that, too. I had two abortions and a miscarriage. I became a pro-choice voice.
By the time Kim Dixon was in her twenties, abortion had been legal for nearly two decades.
KIM DIXON: I was not only once but twice involved in a crisis pregnancy.
Both of those pregnancies ended in abortion. Years later, Dixon eventually married and together they had three children. The family joined a local church and Dixon pursued her own relationship with Jesus.
KIM DIXON: Even though that church labeled that as a rededication in my life, years later I would come to realize that was my day of my salvation. It changed me forever.
While she believed God forgave her for the two abortions, Dixon still struggled with forgiving herself.
KIM DIXON: I thought of myself poorly…I had guilt and I had shame. When I was about 40, I reached out to a friend. And I forgave myself that day for what I had done. But I had to utter the words, Kim I forgive you.
Alveda King still remembers the words her grandfather spoke over her five decades ago. She was in her twenties, divorced and dating.
ALVEDA KING: I became pregnant and I was going to abort that baby and I told my grandaddy, I’m going to Planned Parenthood and I’m going to get an abortion granddaddy. Somebody should know where I’m going. And he said, wait a minute, wait a minute! That’s not a lump of flesh. That’s my great- grandchild. You can’t do that. We’re going to have a baby.
King not only had that baby, but also married the child’s father. Today the 70-year old is a mother of six with 11 grandchildren.
53-year-old Dixon is also a grandmama.
WOMEN’S EVENT VIDEO: Hi, thank you for letting me share my story today.
Dixon, a pro-life speaker, tells her story as often as she can. Sitting in a brown arm-chair, with a lapel mic attached to her blouse, she stares straight into the camera…
KIM DIXON: I’m like Lord, are you going to use me more for like an advocate for the unborn? Or are you going to use me more for an advocate for the women?
Alveda King already knows the answers to those questions.
ALVEDA KING: In 1983 I became a born again Christian. And I laid it all down for Jesus.
King runs a 16-year-old ministry that exposes the harm of abortion and educates men and women about the sanctity of life.
ALVEDA KING: And it’s my sincere belief that first, God says choose life. So I believe God that life is sacred. And then I believe that the right to be born is our first civil right.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Myrna Brown in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next, a preview of Listening In. This week, host Warren Smith talks with author and media specialist Phil Cooke. He’s one of the nation’s experts on the use of media in a Christian context. Cooke says messaging is much less important than integrity.
PHIL COOKE: I’ve often said, we don’t have a marketing problem, we have a Salesforce problem. It’s like going into the Coke, Coca Cola headquarters and everybody there’s drinking Pepsi, something’s wrong.
The truth is many people listening to this, this podcast at this moment, are probably dedicated Christians serious about their faith. But the truth is, if you look at the statistics, so many Christians are not living the life that God’s called us to live, that naturally suddenly see why the world looks at us and thinks, oh, if that’s who they are, then that, you know, it’s totally hypocritical. And they’re, they just walk away.
WARREN SMITH: You wrote an article 8 Reasons Why Christians Have Lost their Credibility in their culture. You mentioned prayer. You mentioned showing up for church. But you also mentioned some other things as well. One of the things that you talked about was becoming a better neighbor. Can you say more about that?
COOKE: Sure. In writing the book, we discovered a study that indicated something like 74% of Americans don’t know their neighbors names. And I thought, oh, my gosh, what a place to start. There’s a fantastic evangelist in the UK named J. John. Love J. John. He’s just fantastic. And he has a great saying that, hey, you want to be a missionary? Great. Go next door. You know, you don’t have to launch an international ministry to make an impact. Just go visit your neighbor. And you don’t have to take a tract. You don’t have to even witness to them. Just go meet them, take a pie, get to know them.
And I just think that we live in a world today where we don’t know the person in the next cubicle in the office. We don’t know our neighbor, but next to us or behind us. And so I think we start just by reaching out and just starting, you know, developing relationships with people and that makes a huge, huge difference.
REICHARD: That’s Phil Cooke talking to Warren Smith. To hear their complete conversation, look for Listening In wherever you get your podcasts.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, January 21st. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Here’s WORLD’s editor in chief Marvin Olasky with a suggestion for the Supreme Court.
MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: Tomorrow, January 22, is the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It was an evil Supreme Court decision that should be overturned. The court will have an opportunity to do so: Late this year or next it should hear oral arguments on any of the heartbeat laws that 10 states have passed. But here’s the problem: Some of the six prolife justices on the court may not be willing to overturn precedent. I think they’re wrong, but if they balk at going all the way, here’s a suggestion: read two sections of Justice Harry Blackmun’s Roe v. Wade decision.
In one section, Blackmun gives a list of reasons some women might choose to abort: Fear of a distressful future. Mental and physical health. An “unwanted” child. Here’s Blackmun’s summary sentence: “All these are factors the woman and her responsible physician necessarily will consider in consultation.”
What’s wrong with that sentence? This: In more than 95 percent of abortions today the woman has no consultation with a responsible physician. With a surgical abortion, she meets the abortionist when she’s already on the operating table. As the number of do-it-yourself chemical abortions grows, even that minimal human contact disappears. So the “consultation” process that was fundamental in Blackmun’s opining no longer exists.
Here’s Blackmun’s second key statement in Roe: “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins.” Blackmun in 1973 said doctors and others “are unable to arrive at any consensus.”
That wasn’t really true 48 years ago, but in 1984 the Journal of Ultrasound Medicine announced “Detection of fetal cardiac activity between 41 and 43 days of gestation.” At six weeks, using a high-resolution real-time arc sector scanner, scientists detected fetal heart rates at around 100 beats per minute.
The medical consensus now is clear: Heartbeats at six weeks. Imaginary or dead creatures do not have heartbeats. Those who are alive do. Some might pretend that the creature in the womb is not alive at two or four weeks, but we now know that at least by six weeks life has begun.
So if the Supreme Court won’t do an overt reversal, it can uphold those heartbeat laws by pretending Blackmun was right. In 1973 we did not have a consensus. In 2021 we do. In 1973 Blackmun opposed a kneejerk decision to abort without the counsel of a doctor. In 2021 many yard signs say, “I believe in science.” Good: The Supreme Court can praise Blackmun’s foresight. It can say: It’s time to accept factual, scientific information about the beating hearts of unborn children.
I’m Marvin Olasky.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Tomorrow: Culture Friday.
And, Megan Basham reviews a British independent film that explains the sudden interest in sea shanties.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Myrna Brown.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
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Go now in grace and peace.