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The World and Everything in It: August 1, 2022

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WORLD Radio - The World and Everything in It: August 1, 2022

On Legal Docket, religious liberty cases percolating in the lower courts; on Moneybeat, how to measure the health of the economy; and on History Book, important dates from the past. Plus: the Monday morning news.


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

Religious liberty disputes are still bubbling up in lower courts, despite clear direction from the Supreme Court.

NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Legal Docket.

Also today the Monday Moneybeat. We’re in recession—it’s official or is it? We’ll talk about what makes up Gross Domestic Product—and what might be a better measure of economic health.

Plus the WORLD History Book. Forty-five years ago this week, President Jimmy Carter tackles the energy crisis by creating a new federal agency.

REICHARD: It’s Monday, August 1st. 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: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.


KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Kentucky flood death toll rises » Raging flood waters have killed dozens of people in Kentucky and there is more rain in the forecast. Gov. Andy Beshear…

BESHEAR: We have got rain and maybe even a lot of rain that’s gonna hit the same areas. Please pray for the people in these areas.

The confirmed death toll climbed to 28 on Sunday and dozens of people remain missing.

The National Weather Service said rainfall of 1 to 2 inches per hour is possible today in some of the same areas swallowed by flash floods last week.

One Hazard, Kentucky, resident said water rose quickly around her home on Saturday.

AUDIO: Within 10 to 12 minutes, I hear the noise and I raise the window and I seen the water. And I knew I had to get out of there.

National Guard troops have performed hundreds of high-water rescues so far.

Gov. Beshear said flash floods have already caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Pelosi confirms Asia trip with no mention of Taiwan » House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will travel to Asia this week. She confirmed Sunday that she’ll lead a delegation to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan—but no mention of Taiwan, following threats from the Chinese government.

But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say Beijing should have no say in the matter. Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan.

SULLIVAN: We cannot let the Chinese Communist Party dictate where senior American officials travel.

Beijing sees any recognition of Taiwan’s independence as an affront. China said it would take—quote—“strong measures to thwart any external interference.” And it added, “those who play with fire will perish by it.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby responded.

KIRBY: There is no need for that kind of rhetoric. It’s unhelpful. It’s unnecessary.

He said the US government hasn’t changed its One China policy.

Pelosi said the talks in Asia will focus on a range of topics, including…

PELOSI: Security, economy, and governance.

The White House says it will be up to the speaker and her delegation whether they choose to visit Taiwan.

Senators debate burn pit bill » Lawmakers are sounding off about a bipartisan bill currently stalled in the Senate that would expand healthcare access for veterans exposed to so-called burn pits.

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said if this bill doesn’t pass, veterans will have the burden of proving to the VA that toxic smoke from burning waste caused their cancers.

GILLIBRAND: We owe this to them and we cannot fall back on our promises.

The bill passed overwhelmingly in a June Senate vote. But when it went back for a procedural vote last week, some Republicans blocked it.

Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey told CBS’ Face the Nation, that’s because Democrats added an unrelated provision…

TOOMEY: And it’s designed to change government accounting rules so that they can have a $400 billion dollar spending spree.

And he said he’s pushing an amendment that would strip that provision out of the bill.

Biden tests positive for COVID-19 again » President Biden tested positive for COVID-19 again on Sunday for the second day in a row.

BIDEN: Hey folks, Joe Biden here. I tested positive this morning. Gonna be working from home for the next couple of days.

The president said he’s feeling well and has no symptoms.

After testing negative and emerging from his quarantine last week, Biden tested positive again on Saturday.

The White House said it’s unlikely that he caught the virus again. Rather, it appears to be a rare case of COVID “rebound” following treatment with the antiviral drug Paxlovid.

The president’s doctor said there’s no need for Biden to receive further treatment.

Protesters camp in Iraqi parliament for second day » In Baghdad, hundreds of protesters camped out Sunday inside the Iraqi parliament for a second day …

AUDIO: [Iraq protest]

That a day after followers of an influential Shiite cleric toppled security walls around the building and stormed parliament.

The demonstrators are trying to derail efforts by their rivals from Iran-backed political groups to form the country's next government.

They’re demanding early elections, constitutional amendments and the ouster of some government officials.

Weekend box office goes to the dogs » The weekend box office went to the dogs.

TRAILER: I have an owner and he’s Superman.

The animated DC League of Super-Pets opened in first place with $23 million in ticket sales over the weekend.

The R-rated thriller Nope finished second with another $19 million.

Meantime, Minions: The Rise of Gru became the first animated pic in the pandemic era to gross $300 million domestically.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: Religious liberty disputes bubble up in the lower courts.

Plus, how to judge the health of the economy.

This is The World and Everything in It.


MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Monday morning and a brand new work week for The World and Everything in It. Today is the first day of August, 2022.

Good morning to you, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s time for Legal Docket.

Today, we hear about religious liberty cases percolating in the lower courts. One firm that specializes in these cases is First Liberty Institute.

REICHARD: That firm had some big wins this year, really big wins! At the Supreme Court. We’ll touch on those, but for today, I really wanted to hear a smattering of the cases First Liberty is handling that haven’t reached the high court.

Mind you, I’m only talking to one side of these disputes, but the purpose is to inform you of what’s bubbling up in the lower courts.

Here now is part of my conversation with First Liberty’s senior counsel Jeremy Dys. I begin by asking him for the status of the case known as Sweet Cakes by Melissa, that’s been dragging on for years.

JEREMY DYS, GUEST: Yeah, this is a case going all the way back to 2013. This is Aaron and Melissa Klein, living the American dream, you know, they started a small business, doing something that Melissa really had both a passion and a skill with and that was doing really beautiful wedding cakes and customized designs for wedding cakes and anniversary cakes and things like that. And here's the story, you guys know it already, that someone came in to ask for a wedding cake that was the same sex couple, they politely declined at the time in Oregon, when same sex marriage was still against the law. They politely declined citing their religious beliefs. And very soon thereafter, they found themselves brought up on charges and for the Bureau of Labor and Industry in the state of Oregon. And ever since then, they were fined like $150,000. That money has just been sitting in escrow for the last almost nine years, waiting for that to be returned to Aaron and Melissa. They've gone to the Supreme Court once. They've had to go back to the state of Oregon, they've had multiple levels of appeal in Oregon. And just recently, they actually had some of that money returned, but the decision itself has not been disturbed at all. And so in the next couple of weeks, we're probably going to have to appeal to the Supreme Court of United States, again, to see if we can vindicate their their First Amendment freedoms.

REICHARD: Let's move on now we're going to move very quickly through these cases, Shields of Strength. This involves Kenny and Tammy Vaughn who started a company. Tell us about that one.

DYS: Yeah, these are little dog tags, or little additions of the dog tags anyway, that Kenny made just as a way to encourage men and women that are on the battlefield. They bear the logo of the military on one side, whether its’s the Navy, the Marine Corps or whatever. And on the other side, they have has an inspirational saying, usually a Bible verse or something like that. And the Department of Defense has come out and said, you know what we don't like that. Those religious things appear opposite of our logos. And so they've been hassling Kenny and his wife for a couple of years now trying to get them to stop this process. But we've been fighting on behalf of Kenny for multiple years making sure that our men and women who are sacrificing themselves in the frontlines defending our freedom have the freedom to wear something that's important to them, namely their faith.

REICHARD: Third case we want to talk about involves the US Navy SEALs where the government is forcing a choice between exercising your religious liberty and service to one's country. Tell us about these 35 Navy SEALs.

DYS:Yeah, we're not only talking about 35 Navy SEALs, those are the guys that are on the front lines of this right now that decided to put their name on the actual line. But they've also now been fighting for the whole Navy. We've got a class action in place that protects our members of the Navy. But look, there are a lot of people that have a religious objection to taking the COVID shot. But we're still fighting, you know, two years into this plus of this, this pandemic, to ask the Department of Defense to simply recognize and protect the conscience rights of the men and women of our armed forces. And yet, we have a Department of Defense that is just absolutely insistent on either driving good men and women out of the military that have a religious objection to this COVID shot. Or fighting us all along the way to before they're willing to back off of this.

REICHARD: Mm-hm. And I understand that every one of the denials that the Navy issued is exactly the same. So it suggests that the Navy is just not taking these religious accommodation requests seriously at all.

DYS: Yeah, that's exactly right. It's kind of a foregone conclusion, it's a multi-step process that supposed to be individualized case by case. And yet, what goes into the machine comes out exactly the same 35 steps later. A rubber stamping that the judge said the Navy is engaged in here.

REICHARD: Mm-hm. Well let's move on now, Jeremy, to case number four: Calvary Missionary Baptist Church. This involves an indoor Junior Olympic sized pool in Florida. Tell us about that one.

DYS: This is a small African American church in the middle of the state of Florida that wants to serve its community. And they happen to have a resource with which to do that. There are no real free pools in the area of Florida. And by the way, Florida tends to be pretty hot in the summertime. And they have this family life center that they'd like to open up to the entire community. The problem is that their pool has a broken pump. And in order to repair that would be very, very expensive for the church to do so. But thank goodness, the City actually has a grant program that they're allowed to apply to - they qualify for the grant, they've actually, the city's been back and forth in terms of whether or not they've applied or approved this grant or not. Most recently, they were negotiating with us to kind of finalize the grant. And then I mean, just suddenly out of the blue, they cut off all communications with us. And I think they're going to take the next step of actually removing that grant award that they had previously approved. And so it looks like we're actually I have to go to court to say once again, that if a religious organization qualifies for a public benefit program like this grant, then to deny them that, but to approve secular organizations like they have for a golf courses in the area, for instance, that is just rank discrimination. That's something the Supreme Court has addressed not once, not twice, but at least three times in the past 40 years. So I guess we may have to go to court actually, to prove that point again.

REICHARD: Well I want to talk about some encouraging case wins now to leave us all on a high note and not just leave people in despair over these fights that we continually have to have. Talk about the big wins that First Liberty has had.

DYS: You know, we were so delighted to have two wins at the Supreme Court in the last week of its term. So the first one was Carson versus Macon, which was a case out of the state of Maine that opened up the freedom of educational choice for parents across the country. And it basically said, the court said, look, again, if you're going to establish a program to give money for a secular purpose, you cannot then deny people the right to be able to use that for a religious purpose if they qualify for the same thing. So in this case that was being able to send kids to a private school if they wanted to, using state dollars. But if they tried to send that student to a private school that actually believes some sort of religious belief, not just teaches it, but actually believes it, then that was somehow disqualified. This has really changed the landscape right now. And I think across the country, we're going to be seeing states opening up the opportunities for parents to be able to direct the funds of their taxpayer funds to the educational choices that they make for their kids.

But then we had a Coach Kennedy. Coach Kennedy took a knee in private prayer after every football game that he coached as a high school coach in Bremerton High School in Washington. And later on, he was fired. And the Supreme Court said, Look, this is something that we've done throughout our history, and that the important thing in our country today…is that we teach our students to tolerate and in fact, to to create a more diverse society, it's good for us to welcome these incidental displays of religion in public. And so it's perfectly fine for coach Kennedy to engage in prayer, he couldn't be fired for that, nor could somebody be fired for wearing a crucifix around their neck as a teacher or a yarmulke on their head or a hijab around their face.

The court kind of tapped on the microphone and said, Hey, look is this thing on? We need to remind you that the Establishment Clause that you're using as a bottle of Lysol to spray everything down whenever religion pops on schools campus, that is also shared in the same amendment with the Free Exercise Clause. Those are meant to complement one another, the court said, not to work at odds with each other.

REICHARD: Amazing. And the bottom line here really, Jeremy, is what? Somebody has to stand up.

DYS: That's exactly right.

REICHARD: Courage and perseverance. That's what it takes. Jeremy Dys is a lawyer with First Liberty Institute. Jeremy, thanks again.

DYS: Thanks so much for having me.


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: the Monday Moneybeat.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Time now for our weekly conversation on business, markets, and the economy with financial analyst and adviser David Bahnsen, head of the wealth management firm Bahnsen Group. Good morning!

DAVID BAHNSEN, GUEST: Well, good morning, Nick, good to be with you.

EICHER: OK, so the numbers are in for Gross Domestic Product. GDP growth turned negative for a second straight quarter, so the economy is smaller than it was six months ago. The two-quarter contraction is a traditional signal of recession and if recessions are bad economic events, they are really bad political events, thus the argument over whether this is really a recession.

And there’s room to argue, because as you wrote for WORLD Opinions after the news broke last week, David—and I’ll link to your column in the program transcript today—there are other factors besides two straight negative GDP reports.

But let’s talk about the economic signal you pay closest attention to for telling how the economy is doing and that’s business investment

BAHNSEN: Well, Nick, let's back up for listeners to explain what GDP is: gross domestic product. And the growth of Gross Domestic Product is basically defined by a weighted combination of consumer activity, inventory built up, exports minus imports, and non-residential fixed investment, which is what I'm calling “business investment.”

Those are four broad categories that are weighted together to represent our formula for GDP.

My comment about business investment is that I believe what the consumer is going to do follows production. So therefore, if I think productivity is going higher, I assume that the consumer is going to do their best to eat well, dine well, travel well, shop, consume. It's part of natural human instinct, and particularly in American culture, we don't really suffer from an incentive to consume, in case you haven't noticed. Okay? So production is going to drive it.

And I think when you look at inventories, it's measuring what has been produced. When you look at trade, it has to do with two sides of the coin, because I think both imports and exports are important in the economy. And yet non-residential fixed investment, this business investment, to produce something and build upon the productivity of what the activity is, that's going to lead to more consumption activity, okay?

I don't think businesses put the accelerator down for more business investment when they feel economic times worsening. So, business investment is what I've been writing about since the financial crisis. During the years that President Obama happened to be president, our GDP growth averaged 1.6%. And every category went back to normal, except for business investment. It never got back up to its normal level, and the aggregates, therefore, were at half of what the real GDP number is.

So right now, business investment is basically flat in Q2. By the way, everything I said three months ago ended up being right, that the Import Export number was what hurt GDP in Q1, and it was the best part of GDP Q2, because we imported less from China and we exported more because of energy. We had our record quarter ever in exporting LNG, liquefied natural gas. It's just that that positive number of exports, the flat number of business investment, it wasn't enough to offset consumption decline and an inventory decline.

EICHER: I want to get your read on the big public policy development, David, and that’s the agreement with the elusive Democratic vote in the Senate and that’s Joe Manchin, the West Virginia moderate Democrat.

Manchin has agreed to support the tax, climate, and health bill—known as the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022—what’s your analysis of the substance and the politics?

BAHNSEN: Well, it's political, it allowed Republicans to be upset about something and it allowed Democrats to be happy about a headline. But when you unpack it, it is just a joke of a bill. The market was up huge a couple of days afterwards. And the companies that supposedly this thing goes after—they say it eliminates the carried interest tax for private equity—the private equity companies were up 5% in the last couple of days.

It does no such thing. It just simply changes the holding period of private equity from three years to five years. But the average holding period is closer to seven years anyway, so it doesn't do anything.

They assume they're going to raise revenue from that, which they won't. They assume they're gonna raise revenue from greater IRS enforcement, which is ridiculous. But the only real thing it does is allow Medicare to negotiate on prescription drug prices, which was going to pass as a standalone bill anyways. And then it does a bunch of crony giveaways on solar and electric power.

So the politics of it really kind of escape me in terms of Senator Manchin. Most people have been speculating that they traded for him a pipeline that will get done through West Virginia. And I suppose that's possibly why he did it. It's kind of ironic that everyone's heralding this as a big climate and environmental bill. And what got it done was that they're giving him an oil and gas pipeline in West Virginia. But all that to say, economically, it almost has nothing.

Now the one bad part on the tax side is a guaranteed minimum corporate tax -15% - and the current rate is at 21. And so you say, Well, how could that be bad? It's a lower rate. But right now what you have is 21% with certain deductions; what they're saying now is that you're going to pay 15, even if you have deductions that would make you go lower. Okay, so that's the negative part.

But I don't know if it gets altered further from here. And I don't even technically know that they'll have the votes. So this has been a very odd couple of days. But really, this thing almost says and does nothing. And it's quite a shame that we're in such a token period of American politics.

EICHER: All right, that's David Bahnsen. He's a financial analyst and advisor and head of the financial planning firm, the Bahnsen group. David’s daily writing is at DividendCafe.com. You can read him online or sign up there to receive his daily missive by email.

David, thanks again.

BAHNSEN: Thanks so much, Nick.


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Monday, August 1st. 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. Next up: the WORLD History Book. This week marks the anniversary of the start of intercollegiate athletics.

Also: a new federal agency grows up out of the energy crisis.

REICHARD: And the anniversary of the day Columbus first sailed the ocean blue in 1492. Here’s arts and media editor Collin Garbarino.

SI HABRÁ EN ESTE BALDRÉS?” BY JUAN DEL ENCINA

COLLIN GARBARINO: Five hundred and thirty years ago on August 3rd, Christopher Columbus sailed southwest from Palos de la Frontera, Spain, hoping to establish a new trade route with China and India. He and his crew of 90 men sailed to the Canary Islands in three medium sized ships and then headed due west. Columbus recounted his findings in a letter he wrote on the return journey.

COLUMBUS: On the 33rd day after leaving Cadiz I came into the Indian Sea where I discovered many islands inhabited by numerous peoples. I took possession of all of them for our most fortunate king by making public proclamation unfurling his standard, no one making any resistance. To the first of them I’ve given the name of our blessed savior, trusting in whose aid I had reached this and all the rest, but the Indians called it Guanahani. To each of the others I also gave a new name ordering one to be named Sancta Maria de Concepcion, another Fernandina, another Isabella and another Johanna and so with all the rest.

Columbus thought he had made it to India, so he called the native population Indians, claiming they would be subjects of the Spanish crown.

COLUMBUS: And I gave them many beautiful and pleasing things which I brought with me for no return whatsoever in order to win their affection and that they might become Christians and inclined to love our king and queen and princes and all the people of Spain and that they might be eager to search for and gather and give to us what they abound in and we greatly need.

Columbus and his crew arrived back in Spain seven and a half months after departing.

Contrary to what you might have heard, humans have known the earth was round for thousands of years. Columbus challenged the scientific consensus of his own day by suggesting the earth was much smaller than everyone supposed. He turned out to be wrong, and the consensus turned out to be right. But sometimes big mistakes can lead to big discoveries.

Next we take a look at the beginnings of college sports.

HARVARD FIGHT SONG

One hundred seventy years ago, Harvard and Yale took part in America’s first intercollegiate athletic competition. The first Harvard–Yale boat race took place on August 3rd, 1852. The two universities had each formed rowing clubs almost ten years before, but no one thought about intercollegiate competition until an American business saw an opportunity. A representative from Sotheby’s auction house explains:

SOTHERBYS: It was in 1852 that another crew member from Yale was taking a leave of absence, and he was traveling home to New Hampshire to visit his family. When he was traveling he met a member of the Boston-Concord-Montreal Railway, and it was determined that a race could be held between Harvard and Yale, but on Lake Winnipesaukee because it was a beauty spot that would attract much tourism and business for the railroad. The event itself was a wild success, so thousands of spectators lined the banks of the lake. It absolutely proved to be the endeavor that the railroad wanted it to be, drawing people to this gorgeous setting.

Harvard won that first two-mile race by two boat lengths, and they’d win again in the second contest 3 years later. It wouldn’t be long before intercollegiate competition would spread to other sports and other universities. The first intercollegiate baseball game took place in 1859 between Amherst College and Williams College. And the first football game was in 1869 between Princeton and Rutgers.

True to its founding, college athletics still has that business interest. The NCAA reported generating record revenues last year of more than a billion dollars.

LSU PREGAME SONG

And we end today by looking back forty-five years to the birth of a new cabinet-level department.

On August 4th, 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed The Department of Energy Organization Act. The law combined the functions of many regulatory agencies into one department that was intended to give America a cohesive energy policy.

PRESIDENT CARTER: Our program will emphasize conservation. The amount of energy being wasted which could be saved is greater than the total energy that we are importing from foreign countries. We will also stress development of our rich coal reserves in an environmentally sound way. We will emphasize research on solar energy and other renewable energy sources. And we will maintain strict safeguards on necessary atomic energy production.

The gasoline crisis of the 1970s sparked this initiative. President Carter assumed America needed the Department of Energy to lead it in a world heading toward energy scarcity.

PRESIDENT CARTER: We must face the fact that the energy shortage is permanent. There is no way we can solve it quickly.

After Carter left office, energy production in America and around the world increased, creating abundance rather than scarcity.

That’s this week’s WORLD History Book. I’m Collin Garbarino.

N-R-G (THE ENERGY SONG) BY THE NEWARK BOYS CHORUS


NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: Escalating violence against pregnancy centers. We have a report.

And, WORLD’s Classic Book of the Month.

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.

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

The Bible says: Without faith, it is impossible to please [God], for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 ESV)

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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