MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
The way we work may never be the same. And that means opportunity.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Also, Canada clamps down on religious freedom and jails a pastor.
Plus our Classic Book of the Month.
And commentator Les Sillars on justice and social media.
REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, March 2nd. 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: Now for the news with Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: First J&J vaccine doses roll out » A truck carrying the first shipment of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine rolled away from a distribution center in Kentucky on Monday.
AUDIO: [Sound of shipping]
Employees cheered as the UPS truck drove off.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zeints said 4 million doses are shipping right now…
ZIENTS: The supply will be limited for the next couple of weeks. The company then expects to deliver approximately 16 million additional doses by the end of March.
The CDC said Monday that it does not recommend any of the three vaccines now in use in the United States over another.
Studies showed the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be 85 percent effective against serious illness. And the company’s CEO Alex Gorsky said more importantly…
GORSKY: It kept all the patients out of the hospital and from dying, even against these new and really challenging variants.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is warning that those variants could wipe out the country’s progress against the virus if we let our guard down. She urged states and the public not to prematurely relax safety measures.
NY attorney general to control sexual harassment inquiry of Gov. Cuomo » New York’s attorney general will oversee in investigation into sexual harassment claims against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Two women who worked for the Democratic governor have accused him of harassment. And Cuomo this week acknowledged that his behavior toward the women may have been inappropriate. But he said his accusers misinterpreted his actions as unwanted flirtation.
He added—quote—“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended.”
He said he will cooperate with a sexual harassment investigation controlled by state Attorney General Letitia James.
James, also a Democrat, is expected to deputize an outside law firm for a—quote—”a rigorous and independent investigation.”
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
White House: U.S. remains open to new talks with Iran » The White House says President Biden remains ready to negotiate with Iran. That after Iranian leaders rejected an offer from the European Union to host a new round of nuclear talks.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday…
PSAKI: We were disappointed in Iran’s response. We remain ready to re-engage in meaningful diplomacy to achieve a mutual return to compliance with JCPOA commitments.
Iran began restricting international inspections last week, but under a last-minute deal with the United Nation’s atomic watchdog, inspectors retained some access.
Rafael Grossi is director-general of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency—the IAEA. He said access is severely limited.
GROSSI: To give you an example, if I wanted to go to a place where I want to go and it’s not part of the declared sites and I have a doubt about—I cannot. So it’s a huge loss.
He said inspectors might keep track of the quantity of enriched uranium in Iran, but they can’t do much more than that. Grossi said IAEA inspections should not be used as a bargaining chip.
Iran has maintained that the United States must drop economic sanctions before it will agree to new nuclear talks.
Texas AG suing electric provider » Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Monday he’s suing an electric provider for passing along massive bills to its customers during last month’s storm. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown reports.
ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: Texas electricity provider Griddy charges $10 a month to give customers a way to pay wholesale prices instead of a fixed rate.
But during last month’s historic winter freeze, wholesale electricity prices skyrocketed. And many Griddy customers stood stunned next to their mailboxes when their power bills arrived.
State Attorney General Ken Paxton said “Griddy misled Texans and signed them up for services which, in a time of crisis” cost individual Texans thousands of dollars.
The lawsuit seeks refunds for customers.
Meanwhile the organization that oversees the state’s power grid, known as ERCOT, just shifted about 10,000 Griddy customers to other utilities.
Griddy said in a statement that ERCOT—quote—“took our members and have effectively shut down” the company.
Griddy insists it has been transparent “at every step.”
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.
Myanmar army announces more charges against Aung San Suu Kyi » Police in Myanmar’s biggest city fired tear gas at defiant protesters who poured into the streets again on Monday.
Demonstrators in Yangon continued to protest last month’s coup, despite reports that security forces had killed at least 18 people a day earlier.
And the army has leveled several new charges against the country’s top political leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. She’s been under house arrest since the Feb. 1st coup. The military originally held her on charges of illegally importing walkie talkies.
The army is now accusing her of inciting unrest. That charge carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison. She also faces a secondary charge related to the walkie talkies.
The United States and most of the Western world have called on the military to release Suu Kyi and other political captives.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: shared office spaces.
Plus, Les Sillars on accountability for social media platforms.
This is The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 2nd day of March, 2021.
Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up: changing the way we work.
Even before the pandemic, remote work was trending up. Some companies early on saw technology as a way to save on expensive overhead like rent, heating and cooling, and maintenance just by allowing employees to work from home.
EICHER: That trend has given rise to another one: coworking spaces. Companies that offer coworking spaces have things remote workers can’t always get at home. Like reliable wifi, access to copiers and printers, not to mention chatter in the coffee room.
WORLD correspondent Maria Baer recently visited a coworking space in Columbus, Ohio. She brings us this report.
MARIA BAER, REPORTER: Last March, Jarrod Mobley wasn’t so much sent home by his company as he was kicked out of his home.
MOBLEY: Once the pandemic hit, it was the kids back in the house and, we don’t live in a big house.
Mobley is a sales rep for human resources software company Paylocity. And he was already working remotely. But when the lockdowns hit, his elementary schoolers—and their noisy school Zoom classes—suddenly invaded his home office. He says he tried working in his garage for a while, but it wasn’t sustainable.
MOBLEY: Paylocity actually sent out an email saying that, they were willing to help with workplace accommodations, so I immediately took advantage of that…
Now he works at COhatch. It’s a stylish, two-story brick building in the heart of Easton Town Center, a sprawling indoor-outdoor mall in a northeast Columbus suburb. While some Easton stores have closed in the last year, COhatch is one of the mall’s newest tenants.
TOUR: So this is like the main lobby area…
The front door clicks open every few minutes as customers step in, stomping snow off their boots. Some set up their computers at communal tables topped with trendy succulents. The main room is wide open, thrumming with pop music and the soft popping of coffee brewing.
The workers come from a variety of industries—real estate, travel agencies, even an architecture firm—but this is their office. It might be for the day, the week, or the foreseeable future. All for a fee, of course. COhatch’s Community Manager, Natalie Kokoska, gives the tours.
TOUR: Back here we have our kitchen, we always have coffee, tea, and water…
Lower-tier COhatch memberships offer guaranteed desk space. Members can also reserve private dedicated offices, meeting rooms; even a sound-proof podcasting booth.
Jenna Dray is COhatch’s director of corporate solutions. She says that while the remote work trend predates the pandemic, the lockdowns have presented an opportunity.
DRAY: A lot of businesses I’m talking to are wanting to do some sort of hybrid approach so that they have coworking as an option for their team and then it also allows them to come together as a team.
Dray’s position was created mid-pandemic. She sells businesses on purchasing group memberships for their employees. It’s an attractive option for companies that still haven’t brought their employees back to their own offices. One survey of over 100 major U.S. companies in December found that less than 20 percent of executives believe they’ll bring all their employees back into the office full-time.
DRAY: So there will be like large corporate companies that have a national presence but they have a division here. So why keep an office for a dozen people.
Not every coworking company has done well during the pandemic. WeWork, a national company with more than 820 locations in 120 cities, collapsed over the summer. Experts attributed their failure to a murky business plan and erratic behavior by the company’s founder. Coworking pioneer Regus filed for bankruptcy in the fall for nearly 90 locations. Most were in major U.S. cities like New York and San Francisco, where strict lockdowns and urban flight decimated their business.
COhatch founder Matt Davis says his business did take a small dip last spring.
DAVIS: We decided, instead of losing people, we just gave them free memberships for a while because some people needed to work…
But as the months wore on, COhatch started growing again. Davis credits COhatch’s strategic suburban locations and its emphasis on community involvement, including scholarshipped memberships for local nonprofits. Davis says COhatch either began construction or officially opened 11 of its now 14 locations after the pandemic hit.
DAVIS: In reality, a lot of people don’t want to work from home, or can’t work from home, so they’re allowing their employees to work from here. So we’re just starting to see that uptick quite a bit now.
Sam Koon owns a commercial real estate appraisal firm based in Columbus. He appraises real estate across the country and says teleworking—both as a trend and a pandemic necessity—means most commercial spaces are depreciating in value.
KOON: We have begun to make some downward adjustment for pandemic impact, but we don’t know what it is.
Last August, a report from Moody’s Analytics predicted nearly 20 percent of U.S. office space would stand vacant in 2021. That’s an historic high—and is projected to increase in 2022.
The Office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost employs about 400 lawyers. Before the pandemic, they worked from leased space in multiple buildings in downtown Columbus. They’ve recently left one building altogether, and Yost says they’re still downsizing.
YOST: We’re reducing our real estate footprint by about a little over a third.
Still, Yost says his attorneys, particularly the younger ones, rely on interaction with older colleagues to hone their skills. Like many other companies, he plans to implement a hybrid work model, with teams of employees coming in and out of the office throughout the week. Essentially, the AG’s office will create its own coworking space.
YOST: We’ll be bringing teams in on certain days. But then we’ll wipe it down and tomorrow it’s going to be somebody else.
Before the pandemic, many companies were reticent to embrace remote work. It would’ve been a financial risk without the guarantee that employees could be just as productive from home.
The pandemic removed the option to be cautious. And for many companies, it’s paid off. Yost says his employees have done remarkably well.
So has Jarrod Mobley, the Paylocity sales rep with a COhatch membership.
MOBLEY: Since moving to the remote area, my productivity’s increased, and I’m back on track for another President’s Club, which, if I’d have stayed home, there’s no way.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Maria Baer in Columbus, Ohio.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: religious liberty in Canada.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Authorities charged the pastor with violating public health rules. Just over two weeks ago, Coates turned himself in to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
He’s been behind bars ever since, and courts say he will stay there until his trial in May unless he agrees to comply with the restrictions. Coates says he cannot do that in good conscience.
The Canadian Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms is representing James Coates in this case. John Carpay is its president and joins us now to talk about it. John, good morning!
JOHN CARPAY, GUEST: Good morning!
REICHARD: Well, let’s start by laying the foundation here. As we mentioned, you are in Canada. Now, the U.S. Constitution explicitly protects religious liberty, though it requires vigilant and constant defense. But what kinds of religious freedom protections does the Canadian Constitution provide?
CARPAY: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is similar to the Bill of Rights and it protects freedom of expression, religion, conscience, peaceful assembly, freedom of association. However in our charter, it also says the government can violate those rights and freedoms if the government has a sufficiently compelling reason and if the benefits of a law that violates religious freedom, the benefits are greater than the harms. And so there’s a lot of latitude for courts to approve of government violations of our rights and freedoms. And governments will frequently win in these constitutional cases. But the onus is on the government to justify the violation. And so in these court actions, and in regard to Pastor Coates as well as numerous court actions that we’ve commenced across the country, the onus is on the government to come up with the evidence in court.
REICHARD: What rules have been put on churches by the Canadian government and are they national rules or specific to Alberta?
CARPAY: Each province has its own restrictions. In Alberta currently the capacity limit at churches is at 15 percent of fire code capacity and the people attending the house of worship need to be 6 feet apart from each other unless they are members of the same family, and they need to wear masks in church. And Pastor Coates and a lot of people in Alberta are asking the government, “Where is the science to back this up?” And we’re not getting answers and so gradually more and more people are starting to not comply with these measures because they’re unscientific and they’re clearly a violation of our freedoms.
REICHARD: Both you and Pastor Coates believe that these restrictions on church gatherings violate the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms. How so?
CARPAY: Well, we’ve got the protection for religious freedom. That includes the right to worship God as you deem best. So, if you have a religious conviction that it’s important to meet together in person, then that is the practice of your faith and the government has to respect that, unless they have a good reason for violating it. Pastor Coates and his congregation believe that they should meet together — and they’re churches of a size that if they did want to go down to 15 percent capacity, they might have to hold six or seven or eight services every Sunday, which is not practical. I don’t think any pastor, no matter how much he might love the sound of his own voice, I don’t think any pastor could preach six sermons on one day.
REICHARD: Is the argument by Pastor Coates that he thinks the government has no right to impose any restrictions?
CARPAY: No, we know that COVID is not an unusually deadly killer. We know that it does threaten if you’re 85 years old and you’re in a nursing home and you’re already dying of cancer, heart disease, emphysema, diabetes, etcetera, yes, COVID can shorten the lives of some people that are vulnerable. But for children and teenagers and young adults and pretty much 90 percent of the population, COVID poses no threat. So, therefore, these restrictions we know 11 months down the road that these restrictions are simply not necessary. What we should do instead is protect the vulnerable in senior homes rather than taking away the human rights and the fundamental freedoms of an entire population.
REICHARD: Pastor Coates remains behind bars, and he may have to stay there until his trial in May unless he agrees to certain conditions the court has placed on his bail. What are those conditions?
CARPAY: Pastor Coates could make a solemn promise to start complying with the government restrictions to religious freedom and if he made that commitment, he could get out of jail. But being an honest man, he’s not going to make the commitment just to get out of jail and then a few days later break his word.
REICHARD: John, where does this case go from here? What should we be watching for?
CARPAY: Well, the trial, sadly, is two months away, which is a pretty long time to be locked up when you have not committed any crime. The Justice Center is filing an appeal with the next level of court, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, and our goal is to get him out of jail as soon as possible. If that fails, then the next step would be to go to trial in the month of May.
REICHARD: We’ll stay on this story. John Carpay is president of the Canadian Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms. Really appreciate your time here, John. Thank you.
CARPAY: Thanks for having me on your show.
NICK EICHER, HOST: This was almost two weeks ago: NASA’s Perseverance closing in on Mars.
NASA: Navigation has confirmed that the parachute has been deployed and we are seeing significant deceleration.
Turns out NASA rocket scientists left a hidden message in that parachute.
CHEN: So we invite you all to give it a shot and show your work.
Engineer Alan Chen laying down a challenge that a father and son in France would pick up.
Maxence Abela is an IT student in Paris. His dad Jerome is a software engineer. They put their heads together and deciphered the message scattered across the red and white parachute, hidden in binary code.
It took a few hours of figuring but eventually they figured it: A famous quotation by a former American president, “dare mighty things.” Here’s the younger Abela on GlobalNewsCanada:
ABELA: We found “dare mighty things.” That’s why. It’s very nice. It’s awesome.
It was a speech delivered in 1899 when Teddy Roosevelt was governor of New York aiming to inspire Americans to embrace strenuous effort and overcome hardship.
NASA’s Chen put a fine point on that.
CHEN: And we still get to “dare mighty things” together.
Like landing on Mars.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, March 2nd. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: our Classic Book of the Month.
For March, reviewer Emily Whitten recommends a novel some people would like to strike from America’s literary canon: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
AUDIOBOOK: …and whilst I eat my supper, we talked and had a good time. I was powerful glad to get away from the feuds, and so was Jim to get away from the swamp. We said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don’t. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.
EMILY WHITTEN, REVIEWER: That’s Huckleberry Finn in the Recorded Books audio version of Mark Twain’s classic novel.
Twain was born Samual L. Clemens and grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, in the mid 1800s. He worked early on as a printer’s apprentice and then a journalist. When he later became a novelist, he drew on his time near the mighty Mississippi River. Literature professor William R. Handley explains in the History Channel film, Mark Twain: Father of American Literature.
HANDLEY: Mark Twain’s best-known and best-loved books, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer published in 1876 and Huckleberry Finn published in 1885 are probably the reason that Ernest Hemingway famously said that all American literature comes from Mark Twain.
Huckleberry Finn made friends as well as enemies from the start. In his first few years, some librarians rejected the book as “rough, coarse, and inelegant.” Since the 1950s, many educators and parents have objected to Twain’s use of a racial slur which appears over 200 times in the book. Today, that criticism has only increased.
Jocelyn Chadwick, president of the National Council of Teachers of English, sympathizes with Twain’s critics. But she doesn’t want Twain canceled.
CHADWICK: We do have colleagues who say that, let’s get rid of all the old literature. It has absolutely nothing to say to us. But it does. It has so much to say to us. And to our students. To make them feel that what’s happening to them right now is not new to them. But it’s something we as a nation and a world have experienced since the dawn of time. And probably will experience again.
Chadwick suggests readers pair Twain with an author like Frederick Douglass, a former slave. Teacher and homeschooler Betsy Farquhar of Redeemedreader.com agrees that pairing Twain and Douglass could be fruitful. She often compares different authors to help students in her high school classes consider worldview.
FARQUHAR: Where is Frederick Douglass saying things that we think are great and thought provoking, and urging us on to love and good deeds? Where is Mark Twain doing that? Where are they doing things that are in opposition to each other? And which one is more Biblical?
Readers can see important elements of the conflict between Twain’s perspective and a Biblical worldview in the book’s climax. In the first half of the story, Huck and Jim became friends as they escaped together, rafting down the Mississippi. But Huck feels guilty. His slaveholding society tells him that Jim isn’t a human being—he’s a piece of property. To earn God’s approval, Huck believes he must return Jim to his owner. So Huck writes a letter to turn Jim in. But in a surprising twist, he reconsiders.
In the following audio clip, Benedict Whalen of Hillsdale College explains what that statement means. This comes from Part 4 of Hillsdale’s free course on Mark Twain.
WHALEN: This moment is, constitutes, Huck’s moral triumph. His conclusive recognition that Jim is a human being, not a piece of property. That Jim should not be owned. Huck refuses that moral system by saying all right then, I’ll go to hell.
Betsy Farquhar explains how she might discuss this climax and the book’s larger context with her students.
FARQUHAR: You can make an argument that Huckleberry Finn really celebrates the image of God, even in an enslaved person like Jim, because Huck is treating Jim with way more respect than Jim would have been treated in his original situation. So you can, you can start to wrestle, especially with high school kids with this, this tension. Does it go as far as we would want it to? No. But are there glimmers of that from the 1800s? in America? Well, sure.
Christians have no required book list outside the Bible. If you don’t want to read the book, or if you’d prefer your kids read an edited version—one without racial slurs—I get that.
The one position Christians can’t hold: we can’t ban God from our lit class or our understanding of books. And that means we have to ask different questions from many of our liberal and conservative friends. Betsy Farquhar suggests a few to keep in mind.
FARQUHAR: What is this book’s view of who God is? Is there any reference to the divine? And that’s going to look different in the Odyssey than it’s going to look in Huckleberry Finn. Even if they call it Christian? Is it Biblical? Let’s unpack that.
In the instance of Huck Finn’s climax, we can appreciate Huck’s decision to reject slavery and treat Jim as a human being. But we also see that spiritually, Huck seems to fall prey to a false dichotomy. People who reject slavery don’t have to reject God.
Frederick Douglass can help us on that point. Many people of his day wrongly assumed that Douglass’s criticism of slaveholding Christians meant he was anti-Christian. So, Douglass wrote an appendix to his autobiography. In it, he explains that his rejection of slavery flows from his love for Christ. This audio clip is from a Libribox recording read by Jesse Zuba.
ZUBA: I love the pure, peaceable and impartial Christianity of Christ. I therefore hate the corrupt, slave-holding, woman-whipping, cradle-plundering hypocritical slaveholding religion of this land.
Reading Twain and Douglas together reminds us we desperately need Christ to enlighten our thinking. Without Him, we can’t adequately critique the sin in ourselves and our society—or find a solution to it. We need His help to know which books should we read? And why and how should we read them?
I hope our classic book of the month, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, prompts us to wrestle with those questions. But whether you eat or drink or read Huck Finn, whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
I’m Emily Whitten.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, March 2nd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
Congress passed Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in 1996. That’s the law that protects internet platforms from legal liability for things their users post. Conservatives say social media platforms hide behind Section 230 to censor conservative speech. Progressives say the platforms don’t censor enough speech. Both sides want reform.
Journalism professor Les Sillars says both sides are missing the point.
LES SILLARS, COMMENTATOR: Section 230 doesn’t need to be reformed. Congress should repeal it. I know, that’s just not realistic, even though Trump, Biden, and others have floated the idea. Nevertheless, let me explain why Section 230 should be repealed.
Communication law distinguishes between “vendors” and “publishers.” In general, vendors distribute content. Publishers produce content and are responsible for it. It’s based on the legal principle of “scienter,” or “guilty knowledge.” You don’t hold the guy selling newspapers on the corner responsible for the libel printed in the newspaper. But if you knew or should have known about the content, you’re responsible for it.
Congress passed the Communications Decency Act in 1996 to, basically, hold porn mongers accountable. Congress included Section 230 to encourage Internet companies to clean up their platforms. They can edit sexual, violent, or, quote, “otherwise objectionable” content and still be legally protected as long as they do so, quote, “in good faith.”
Section 230 was supposed to balance immunity and accountability. In reality, it tossed aside scienter. Guilty knowledge. So Facebook, Twitter, Google, and the rest have the best of both worlds: They can act like publishers but be protected like vendors.
Many say repealing Section 230 would force every internet organization that relies on user-generated content to choose: vendor or publisher? Vendor platforms couldn’t edit anything. Users would soon turn them into even bigger cesspools.
Publisher platforms would have to police user content. But what about free speech? And if social media platforms collapse, what about all those businesses and worthy organizations that rely on them to find their audiences, patrons, and customers?
Repealing Section 230 would certainly disrupt many businesses because many people would stop or at least moderate their social media use.
But would that be so bad?
Big Tech’s manipulation of public debate and double standards for censorship are very troubling. Why, exactly, should we trust the, quote, “good faith” of a handful of massive global companies to protect free speech? Together they have more money and social clout than most governments. Why should they continue to get special treatment through Section 230?
Should so many Christian organizations depend on these companies?
Does anybody believe that in five years Big Tech will censor less Christian content than today, no matter how you “reform” Section 230?
Social media technologies are among the most powerful things human beings have ever created. Because of Section 230, the people who run them are largely unaccountable for their content. Repealing Section 230 won’t fix everything, and might cause other problems. But it would at least restore an important principle of justice to this problem.
I’m Les Sillars.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: the future of the Republican Party. We’ll talk about Donald Trump’s message to CPAC and what it could mean for the next round of presidential elections.
And, we’ll introduce you to the lone survivor of a 2013 wildfire that claimed the lives of the rest of his crew.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
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