The World and Everything in It - August 18, 2021
WORLD Radio - The World and Everything in It - August 18, 2021
On Washington Wednesday, the political fallout from the crisis in Afghanistan; on World Tour, recovery efforts following Saturday’s earthquake in Haiti; and the story of two families sharing one heart. Plus: commentary from Joel Belz, and the Wednesday morning news.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
The chaos in Afghanistan is reaping severe fallout for President Biden. What’ll it mean for this administration going forward?
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.
Also World Tour.
Plus part-two in our organ donation story. Today, we meet the family who made the emotional decision to give their son’s heart to someone they didn’t know.
And justice suffers when truth is deemed relative. World founder Joel Belz has thoughts on that.
REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, August 18th. 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: White House: Taliban will allow civilians safe passage » Top Defense and national security officials briefed reporters at the White House Tuesday on the crisis in Afghanistan.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan said airlifts are back on track in Kabul and the United States remains committed to evacuating American citizens and U.S. allies.
SULLIVAN: The Taliban have informed us that they are prepared to provide the safe passage of civilians to the airport, and we intend to hold them to that commitment.
But he acknowledged reports that Taliban militants were turning away or even beating some civilians as they tried to reach the airport.
Other reports state that the Taliban has been going door to door in Kabul looking for civilians on a list of people targeted for retribution.
As for the military withdrawal that led to the Taliban’s takeover, the White House is doubling down Tuesday. Press Secretary Jen Psaki...
PSAKI: The president stands by his decision because he knows it’s in the interest of the United States, our national security, and the American people.
But the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Marco Rubio, fired back.
RUBIO: You look at the intelligence, you look at everything before us; it was clear that not only was the worst-case scenario out there, it was the likeliest outcome that was going to happen.
He said—quote—“this administration was specifically told Afghan forces would surrender faster than our ability to exit. They decided to ignore these warnings.
U.S. likely to authorize COVID booster shots » After struggling for months to persuade Americans to get the COVID-19 vaccine, U.S. health officials could soon face a new challenge: Convincing already-vaccinated Americans to get booster shots. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: As early as this week, U.S. health authorities are reportedly expected to recommend an extra dose of the vaccine for all Americans eight months after they get their second shot.
That according to two officials who spoke to the Associated Press.
Evidence shows that while the vaccines remain highly effective at least six months after the second dose, protection does gradually fall off month by month.
On July Fourth, President Biden proclaimed that the nation was declaring its independence from the virus. But since then, infections have soared and hospitals in some areas are filling up with mostly unvaccinated patients.
Booster shots won’t be widely administered until the Food and Drug Administration formally approves the vaccines. Right now, they’re distributed under an emergency use authorization. But the FDA is expected to grant full approval of the Pfizer shot in the coming weeks.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
New Zealand to enter lockdown after single virus case found » New Zealand's government took drastic action Tuesday by putting the entire nation into a strict lockdown after finding a single case of COVID-19.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern noted that the delta variant on a global rampage and said —her words—“We have seen what happens elsewhere if we fail to get on top of it.”
ARDERN: Just as we successfully stayed home and saved lived last year, I’m asking the team of 5 million to unite once more to defeat what is likely to be this more dangerous and transmissible variant of the virus.
The city of Auckland, where the infected man lives, and Coromandel, where he had visited, will go into a full lockdown for a week.
The rest of the country will lock down for three days while health experts try to find the source of his infection.
Commerce Dept: Americans spent less in July » Americans cut back on their spending last month.
The U.S. Commerce Dept. reports that retail sales fell a seasonal adjusted 1.1% in July from the month before. That was a much steeper drop than the 0.3% decline Wall Street analysts expected.
Auto sales fell almost 4 percent. Spending also dipped at stores that sell clothing, furniture and sporting goods.
Gus Faucher is chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group. He says the delta variant surge is getting much of the blame, however…
FAUCHER: We actually saw a big increase in restaurant sales over the month, which suggests that perhaps it wasn’t rising COVID cases.
Spending rose at restaurants and bars nearly 2%, though that growth was slower than previous months.
Economists think Americans are also shifting their spending from goods to services, things like haircuts or vacations, which were not included in Tuesday’s report.
And rising prices for everything from food to washing machines may have curbed spending.
California wildfire threatens towns » Authorities in Lassen County, California had to order more Californians to flee their homes on Tuesday as the nation’s largest wildfire closed in.
Operations Section Chief Chad Cook told reporters…
COOK: The fire experienced really good growth with the southwest winds, The fire did push out toward the communities of Janesville, out toward Susanville.
Susanville, with a population more than 15,000, is the largest town the Dixie Fire has threatened so far.
The fire has been stuck at about 31 percent containment. It has consumed more than 600,000 acres.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: political consequences from the disastrous pullout in Afghanistan.
Plus, cracks in the U.S. justice system.
This is The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s Wednesday the 18th of August, 2021. You’re listening to World Radio and we’re glad to have you along today. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up: a White House in crisis.
President Biden addressed the nation on Monday as images of the chaos in Afghanistan played out on screens everywhere.
His continued stance on the U.S. military pullout was unequivocal.
BIDEN: I stand squarely behind my decision.
EICHER: Former secretary of state under President Obama, Leon Panetta compared Biden’s troop pullout in Afghanistan to another pivotal moment in American history: President John F. Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs. Panetta noted that Kennedy accepted responsibility for that catastrophe.
President Biden on Monday admitted a miscalculation, but entirely deflected blame.
REICHARD: To many Vietnam veterans, the troop withdrawal resembled another dubious moment in history. But Biden said there were “zero” parallels between the Afghanistan pullout and the Vietnam withdrawal nearly a half-century earlier.
BIDEN: There’s going to be no circumstance where you’re going to see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan.
EICHER: But that is exactly what happened and little has unfolded as the president predicted.
Biden already faced some tough questions about his administration’s handling of the pandemic and crisis at the U.S. southern border. But the disastrous events in Afghanistan have plunged this White House into a crisis of competence.
Can President Biden recover, politically? And if so, what will it take?
REICHARD: Here to answer those questions and others is Mark Caleb Smith. He’s a political science professor at Cedarville University, a Christian college in Cedarville, Ohio. Good morning, professor!
MARK CALEB SMITH, GUEST: Good morning, it's good to be with you.
REICHARD: Professor, President Biden said Monday that not only does he not regret the troop withdrawal, but the events that have unfolded made it even clearer to him that he made the right call. Politically speaking, what was your reaction to the president doubling down?
SMITH: Yeah, at some level, he didn't have much of a choice but to double down. Right now the situation is such that he really can't reverse it. He may be able to improve it just a little bit here and there at the margins, But it's done. It's happening. He also recognizes, of course, that this is still early in his term of office. He has several years, potentially, to recover—assuming he's gonna run for re-election, that is. And so there's time to make amends, potentially. But make no bones about it, it was a catastrophic set of images that came out of Kabul just over the last several days.
REICHARD: Well it certainly was. Democrats cast President Biden as a stabilizing force—an experienced executive who would make sound decisions and steady the ship. But confidence in this president has taken a great big hit here, at least with some Americans. Can Biden rebuild the trust, as you mentioned earlier, and how is he going to do it?
SMITH: Yeah, I think the most difficult part of this, politically, is that in some ways this connects President Biden to President Trump. The best thing that he had going for him, really, was that he was not President Trump. Different mentality, different approach to foreign affairs, different approach to social media, all these things are very obvious. But the way that this has unfolded, and that it was connected to the Trump administration, continues to, I think, make our relationships with allies even less stable. And I think that's going to really cause people to reevaluate Joe Biden to some extent. We elected him, at least in part, to be a stabilizing influence, as you said, particularly on the international stage. This certainly takes a hit there. People are going to look at this and say, “This is a series of mistakes that ultimately land at the president's feet.” I don't know if it's something that he can just magically rebuild trust on unless there's something else equivalent that takes place. He can continue to try to do the best that he can on domestic policy. Unless there's another crisis, though, I'm not sure he's going to get a chance to simply say, “Okay, look, now I can do this better.” These things are sort of unusual. They happen during presidencies. Not everyone gets to choose the crisis they have to confront as president. But this one? Well, I'm not sure that it's a simple process of just recovery.
REICHARD: Let’s talk about spillover issues as related to that trust question, one has to wonder if some will be less likely to believe Biden when he makes assurances about other things. For example, when he says huge spending won’t add to inflation. Do you think the mishandling in Afghanistan will affect the odds of Biden getting his domestic agenda passed?
SMITH: Yeah, I really do. I think it's a great question. All too often, I think we assume that foreign and domestic policy are disconnected somewhat from each other. A president's power is really directly proportional to how popular he is, and how trusted he is. And those things can give the president a great deal of influence, especially early in his first term of office. So we're still kind of in Joe Biden's honeymoon period to some extent, which gives him more influence over Capitol Hill, and really much more influence over moderate Democrats and potentially even a handful of Republicans, especially in the Senate. Now that this has happened, you wonder whether that kind of influence, whether that kind of room for negotiation that he's enjoyed over the past several months, whether that's going to stay. You know, will someone like Joe Manchin in West Virginia or Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona rethink their decision to maybe go along with Joe Biden in key areas because of what's taking place right now in Afghanistan? So, this is the kind of event I think that could truly weigh down a presidency, not just in international affairs, but across the board.
REICHARD: We know that midterm elections are coming up next year. Do you see some Democrats trying to distance themselves from Biden even more than you say?
SMITH: It's a great question. I mean, I think sometimes the president can have a significant effect on those midterm elections. The historical pattern is that the party that's in the White House loses a fair number of seats in the House, and even some seats in the Senate. Right now, things are so close, of course, on the Hill, that if that happens, the Democrats lose control potentially of both chambers of Congress. You know, I'm not even sure I have to say it, but that'd be catastrophic for Joe Biden's agenda over the next couple of years. Democrats, I think, probably will distance themselves a little bit from this to some extent. But those congressional elections are rarely about foreign policy. So, I think the only way this will probably really creep into the midterms directly will be if it continues. Is this going to be a long drawn out several month process? We're going to continue to see this kind of devastating footage that we've seen over the last few days. If that happens, I would say all bets are off. But if this is a relatively limited crisis, so to speak, members of Congress don't have a lot of direct influence over foreign policy anyway. I'm not sure there'll be much of a need to run away from Joe Biden necessarily.
REICHARD: How do you think Republicans might use this against Biden and Democrats overall?
SMITH: I think Joe Biden's greatest susceptibility as a presidential candidate was his record on foreign policy. You know, the old joke is that Joe Biden's been wrong about every major issue since he's been a senator. And even if you agree or disagree with that statement, they're going to use this as just another thing to give an example to Joe Biden's miscalculations on the international stage. So Joe Biden was for the Iraq war, but he was against the surge. Joe Biden wanted to spend less money on defense spending during the Cold War, whereas more spending actually seems to have ended the Cold War. This is just gonna be another thing they're going to use against him. And it's a pretty powerful argument. However, I think we have to be honest with ourselves, rarely are presidential elections decided by these kinds of foreign policy issues. Most American voters just aren't all that connected to foreign policy. I don't think that they really make a lot of voting decisions based on that alone.
REICHARD: Final question here: how do you think this will affect President Biden’s relationships with other world leaders?
SMITH: I think that's probably the most important question over the short term. We're hearing news out of Germany already, sort of rumblings that this has really been a defeat for the entire Western alliance. You know, again, as I said earlier, the best thing Joe Biden had going for him was that he's not Donald Trump. On the international stage, remember, President Trump really kind of eroded some of those alliances with our NATO allies in particular. The way that this looks, I think further erodes those alliances in a way that's just gonna be difficult to recover. And so countries like Germany and France and Great Britain and others who've been very helpful in our war on terror generally speaking, this is not going to help those relationships whatsoever. Not to mention all the instability that it creates in the Middle East itself. And so, you know, yeah, I think it's gonna cause Joe Biden to be reassessed by many foreign leaders.
REICHARD: Professor Mark Caleb Smith with Cedarville University has been our guest. Professor, thanks very much!
SMITH: Thank you.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: a World Tour special report on Haiti, where a 7.2 earthquake struck Saturday morning along the island’s southern coast.
And on Monday, a tropical depression added to the country’s misery, dumping as much as a foot of rain.
Despite desperate conditions, relief efforts are ramping up. WORLD’s Onize Ohikere reports.
AUDIO: [Sound of voices, honking]
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Rene Lako and a small group of aid workers with Hope Force International traveled to Haiti’s southern coast on Sunday.
LAKO: And we visited Les Cayes, went to different parts of the city and saw firsthand some of the damage. The first one was a totally collapsed hotel, where big equipment, heavy equipment was already removing debris, loading it into a truck. Then we saw damaged homes, sometimes totally collapsed. We saw a couple of churches that were damaged and collapsed.
Not all of the damage is that bad. But even when homes are still standing, people are too scared to stay indoors.
LAKO: And since they are afraid of aftershocks, and they're maybe already damaged homes further breaking down, they are afraid and kind of that fear factor was probably that struck me the most, that even if their houses were not damaged or just had those those cracks, they were still afraid to be inside.
More than a thousand people died in the earthquake and 6,000 suffered injuries. Many thousands more were left homeless.
Because people are staying outside, Lako says tarps and tents will be in high demand. But that’s not a good long-term solution.
LAKO: They certainly do not do not want to go back to like the tent city sort of camps they had after the 2010 earthquake. So we collectively want to learn lessons from things that were done right, but also things that have gone wrong in the 2010 response, and you know, those tent cities are surely not part of the answer.
Aid groups in Haiti have experience with what doesn’t work, but also with what does. Dr. David Vanderpool runs a hospital in the village of Thomazeau,.
VANDERPOOL: We worked extensively in the 2010 earthquake, that's what brought us to Haiti, we set up a large hospital right after the earthquake and did a lot of surgeries there to care for the people. And so we've got quite a bit of experience with disaster relief.
Thomazeau is about 100 miles from the epicenter of Saturday’s quake. But Vanderpool and his team felt the tremors.
VANDERPOOL: And so we began to mobilize our efforts and contact people that we know in that area, to be able to transport food, medical supplies, as well as medical teams down into that area. Our hospital is open and working. And so we'll be able to receive patients who were injured in the earthquake. We very fortunately have electricity 24/7 because we're solar powered, and, and we have internet as well. So we're able to, to work pretty efficiently in this disaster.
But getting people in and out of the disaster zone isn’t easy.
VANDERPOOL: There's really just one main way into this area, and the roads are destroyed. And so we're not seeing a lot of traffic coming out yet. We hope that soon that we'll be able to, the roads will be able to allow trucks to carry people out of the area, perhaps boats will be able to do that. But as it stands right now, we've not received anyone from the quake in our facility.
Gang violence in the area is also hampering recovery efforts.
VANDERPOOL: In fact, one of the most primary gangs in the country is at that juncture, between the main body of Haiti and this peninsula, and they control that single road in. And so they also control the fuel depot in that area. And so fuel is very scarce right now. And then also, the violence is just crippling. There's just absolutely no way to safely get into that area, without some kind of military presence, which there are none.
Both Vanderpool and Rene Lako moved to Haiti after its last big earthquake. So they know bodies will heal and buildings will be repaired. But Lako says the long-term effects will linger.
LAKO: I think one thing that's that stood out to me is that a lot of these people and children are traumatized. And they will not only need physical help or material help, but also psychological help. And I think even after the 2010 earthquake, a lot of that was in need as well.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, August 18th. 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: Part two of a heart transplant story.
Yesterday if you were listening, you met Dave Sullivan, a husband and father of two who was in desperate need of a new heart in 2019.
EICHER: Today we’ll learn what happened when Sullivan got in touch with the family that helped meet that need and saved his life. WORLD Senior Correspondent Kim Henderson has the story.
DAVE: Rachel, I'll tell you what. I'm going to put this in the car, and then you can put the clothes in. Set it on top.
KIM HENDERSON, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: July 24th arrives hot and humid. Dave is under the carport with one of his daughters, loading up for a three-hour drive to Jennings, Louisiana. That’s where they’ll meet the parents of Dave’s heart donor.
DAVE: So I’ve got the stethoscope, and I also have a printout of the last EKG I had that shows the heartbeat . . . it's going to be kind of a gift to them, you know? I'm a little nervous…
Even Dave’s wife, Michelle—solid, steady, been-through-it-all Michelle—seems a little off her game.
AUDIO: [LOST KEYS]
And by 9:30, Dave is on his third cup of coffee. He had a restless night.
DAVE: I don't know why I'm nervous. I don't think I should be, but I just want to make sure I don't want them to be disappointed. You know? I just sometimes I feel like I wasn't worthy of the gift.
The gift was extraordinary. And it couldn’t be just any heart. The donor had to be a good match, from blood type to body size. The heart had to fit inside Dave’s rib cage just right. And since a donated heart can’t come from a person older than 55, the donor’s death is often the result of an accident. In this case, it was a snowboarding tragedy.
But Dave didn’t know any of this back on June 7, 2019, the day of his transplant. Forty-eight hours had passed since the initial call informing the Sullivans that a heart was available. He’d been prepped for surgery four times. Each time, the surgery got postponed.
MICHELLE: One surgeon went to get the heart while the other one started removing the LVAD. So everything had to be coordinated very, very carefully. She actually went in and inspected the heart and then called and said, “Yes, it's good. I'm on the plane back.” So that's when they started . . .
Fast forward six weeks. Michelle has her phone, and she’s videoing one of the happiest moments in their lives.
AUDIO: [DAVE GOING HOME]
They were leaving the hospital. Going home. With a new heart.
Meanwhile, emotions were running high for a family in Houston, too, but in the opposite direction. The Emerson household was missing a member—Jordan, the second of three sons. Here’s his dad.
BRENT: … kind of being a middle child who was very amicable, very much a pleaser. You know, he was really soft-hearted and you know, he was somebody who would give the shirt off his back to help a stranger in need.
Back when Dave Sullivan was getting the call that changed everything, Brent and Monica Emerson were at a hospital 400 miles away signing donation papers—with no hesitation. Just two months before, Jordan had come into their kitchen when his younger brother was renewing his driver’s license. The unchecked organ donor box started a discussion.
MONICA: I still see him just standing there, being so passionate in his words. He was like, “You just don’t have any idea how many people you can save …
Upon his death, Jordan’s parents donated his lungs, liver, corneas, and tissues like skin, tendons, bone marrow, and vertebrae. And of course, his heart.
During his recuperation, Dave Sullivan wasn’t even allowed to know what state his heart came from, much less the donor’s name. A few months later, though, he followed all the protocols and began writing—and rewriting—a letter.
DAVE: I basically told them all the things that I was going to be able to do now, because I had a new heart, and I thanked them. It was really emotional because I had no idea what they were going through. But as a parent, I knew that someone had lost a child …
A year passed with no response. The Sullivans began to think a relationship with the donor family just wasn’t part of God’s plan.
Then they found out a letter was waiting for them at the hospital. That eventually led to the face-to-face meeting last month. I dropped by the Sullivans’ home after they got back.
AUDIO: [GREETING DAVE]
DAVE: We actually spent all of Saturday together and then half of Sunday, and we had dinner together and did a lot of talking…
The Emersons had met the Sullivans half-way. They wanted to keep their time private, no press.
Michelle videoed as Monica slipped on the stethoscope and listened to Dave’s—well, Jordan’s—heart. Then Brent took his turn. All three of them were wearing wide smiles. The tears would come later over stories and dessert.
But for the Emersons, it wasn’t a totally new thing. They’ve also met the recipients of Jordan’s lungs and liver.
MONICA: It’s just awesome and surreal at the same time, to see just the miracle that has happened here from our sweet boy.
BRENT: We’ve been so blessed in the context of the organ recipients of just what great families, what great people, what great stories that they have and have shared. It’s absolutely incredible. Absolutely incredible. Something that’s a terrible loss for us is turning into a great positive as well.
The positive includes something new for the Sullivans, something they aren’t used to doing—planning for the future.
MICHELLE: It took us a few months to kind of, okay, where do we go from here? What do we do now? And so, yeah, now it's like we plan things. it's about living again.
DAVE: Jordan is the one that brought up organ donation. It’s not something most 20-somethings think about. Because he did, we’re here today. He was thinking of others instead of himself.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kim Henderson in Mt. Moriah, Mississippi.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, August 18th. 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. WORLD Founder Joel Belz on imperfect justice this side of heaven.
JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: Almost 75 years ago, a big brick courthouse in Waterloo, Iowa, handed me my first disappointment with civil justice. I sat with my father and my grandfather while a judge ruled against them in a tax case involving the grain business they owned together. I was only 5 years old, but I learned that an impressive-looking building and an authoritative-looking judge weren’t enough to ensure justice.
Thirty-five years later, a van operated by the Christian high school where I was headmaster was involved in a minor fender-bender—but not so minor that the driver of the other car didn’t sue. Four times I took five students from their classes for the whole morning to serve as witnesses in the court case that followed. Four times, the party suing our school and its insurance company failed even to show up in court. And four times, inexplicably, the judge continued the case. The students learned a good bit more about American justice than I wanted them to.
Fast forward 10 years. A hospitalized friend was raped in the middle of the night by a male nurse in the intensive care unit of a local hospital. The criminal and civil cases that followed over the next few years made cynics of most of us who wanted to stand by our friend. Looking for justice, she got mere scraps thrown out the back door of a traveling circus.
I cite these specific scenarios because they illustrate so vividly how broken our system of justice tends to be here in America. The whole idea of a process thoughtfully assembled through the centuries was to gather components in careful balance that would punish wrongdoers while also protecting the rights of the innocent. But many Americans have lost all confidence that such justice prevails.
Why shouldn’t they? When righteous government shows itself so elusive, when educational systems have rotted to the core, when the term “business ethics” strikes many as an oxymoron, when the great old institutions fail us—why should we be surprised when jurisprudence also shows signs of collapse?
You may well have your own little list of personal disappointments. But whether we’re talking about government, education, business, or some other system, keep in mind that we’re not finally dealing with problems of structure, process, or methodology. The problem is with people.
The people put on juries, the people chosen as judges, and the people who get called on as witnesses have all been shaped by the governments, the educational institutions, the business ethics, and the systems of justice of our day. You can’t tell people for two or three generations that there’s no such thing as “truth” and that nothing is absolute—and then expect them to take truth seriously.
They can no longer be trusted to produce what we used to call “justice” because the basic tools of justice were never put in their hands in the first place.
I’m Joel Belz.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: faith on stage. We’ll tell you about difficulties Christian theater companies are facing from gay rights groups.
And, praying for Afghanistan—lifting up our brothers and sisters facing the prospect of severe persecution.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
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