The World and Everything in It: February 13, 2024 | WORLD
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The World and Everything in It: February 13, 2024


WORLD Radio - The World and Everything in It: February 13, 2024

Governors address abortion and pro-life positions, enrollment in trade schools rises amidst increased demand, and a Muslim searches for God. Plus, Hunter Baker on El Salvador’s strongman president and the Tuesday morning news

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs delivers the State of the State address in Phoenix on Thursday. Associated Press/Photo by Ross D. Franklin, File

PREROLL: The World and Everything in It is made possible by listeners like us. My name is Aaron Hoak, I pastor a church in Warsaw, Indiana. This is my second preroll, and I know some of you hearing this know me and will let me know that you heard me today. I think it's about time you send in your own preroll so I can hear you and let you know. And I hope you all enjoy today's program.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning! Governors recently gave state of the state addresses. We’ll hear who’s for and who’s against protections for the unborn.

GOV. KRISTI NOEM: Later this week I will proclaim that 2024 will be the Freedom for Life Year in South Dakota.

LINDSAY MAST, HOST: Also, what trade schools are doing to attract more young people. And a former Muslim tells how his life changed after an encounter at an Internet café.

AUDIO: I committed myself to Islam, but never experienced God. Never.

And the price of peace in El Salvador’s recent presidential election.

REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, February 13th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

MAST: And I’m Lindsay Mast. Good morning!

REICHARD: Time for the news. Here’s Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Winter weather » A monstrous winter storm is bearing down on northeastern states this morning, and officials are urging caution.

ADAMS: We’re strongly encouraging New Yorkers, if you don’t have to go out, stay home.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee said much the same.

MCKEE: We’re talking about heavy snowfall beginning around 9 in the morning through the afternoon.

And Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey warned New Englanders:

HEALEY: We expect high wind gusts with the potential to bring down tree limbs and power lines — minor to moderate coastal flooding.

Some areas could see as much as a foot of snow.

Hostages rescued » Two Israeli men abducted by Hamas in October are now home with their families.

They are Fernando Simon Marman and Louis Har.

YAEL NIR: [Speaking Hebrew]

Dr. Yael Frenkel Nir is deputy director of Israel’s Sheba hospital. She said doctors checked out both men, and that they’re in good condition. But she added, “the marks of [their] time in captivity are visible.”

The Israeli Defense Forces extracted the hostages from the city of Rafah - under fire in a dramatic nighttime raid. Troops stormed a heavily guarded apartment as the IDF bombarded the surrounding area.

IDF Spokesman Daniel Hagari.

HAGARI: They were intentionally held in the middle of a civilian neighborhood, inside a civilian building, to try and prevent us from rescuing them.

Biden and King of Jordan meeting » The White House says bringing the rest of the hostages home is a top priority for the president. And Biden welcomed Jordan’s King Abdullah in the Oval Office Monday to discuss efforts to broker a new cease-fire.

At a joint press conference with the king, Biden told reporters:

BIDEN: The United States is working on a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas, which would bring an immediate and sustained period of common good to Gaza for at least six weeks.

Jordan has assisted in trying to arrange terms for a cease-fire along with countries like Egypt and Qatar.

Head of UNRWA defends agency » The head of the United Nations’ Palestinian refugee agency, known as UNRWA is speaking out amid a major scandal.

LAZZARINI: No, I have no intention to resign. We have one government calling for the resignation. I haven’t heard any other government.

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini heard there, one day after Israeli authorities revealed a Hamas tunnel network that runs under the agency’s Gaza headquarters.

And that revelation follows accusations that some UNRWA employees directly participated in the October 7th terrorist attacks against Israel.

More than a dozen countries suspended funding worth a half-billion dollars. Lazzarini is urging those nations to resume funding UNRWA’s relief efforts.

Austin hospitalized » After Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin checked back into Walter Reed military hospital this week some lawmakers say they’re concerned that his ongoing health issues could jeopardize American security.

GOP Congressman Michael McCaul chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

MCCAUL: The world is on fire right now, and if we’re not projecting strength, but rather weakness, it only invites aggression and conflict.

The secretary had to cancel a planned trip to Brussels to meet with NATO ministers.

Austin transferred his authority to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks as he undergoes treatment for a bladder infection. It’s reportedly the latest complication from his recent surgery for prostate cancer.

But Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder told reporters:

RYDER: The current bladder issue is not expected to change his anticipated full recovery. His cancer prognosis remains excellent.

Ryder said Austin might resume working from the hospital as soon as today.

Church shooting » Police have identified the suspect who opened fire inside Joel Osteen’s Lakewood church in Houston this week as 36-year-old Genesse Ivonne Moreno.

Houston PD Commander Chris Hassig:

HASSIG: We do believe that there was a familial dispute that has taken place between her ex-husband and her ex-husband’s family, and some of those individuals are Jewish. So we believe that that might possibly be where all of this stems from.

Moreno’s rifle had the word “Palestine” written on it.

The suspect was known to police and reportedly struggled with mental illness.

After opening fire inside the church, two off-duty police officers shot and killed Moreno.

Two other people were injured, including a seven-year-old boy believed to be Moreno’s son. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

Biden TikTok » Amid growing concerns about President Biden’s age, the Biden campaign joined TikTok ahead of the Super Bowl in a bid to connect with young voters.

SOUND: Chiefs or Niners? Two great quarterbacks — hard to decide.

That led to tough questions at a White House press briefing Monday given that U.S. intelligence has voiced concerns that the Chinese-owned social media app is a national security risk.

REPORTER: So, is the administration still weighing a ban on TikTok? 

KIRBY: Again, I have nothing for you on that ….

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said only that TikTok remains banned on all federal government devices.

I'm Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: What state governors are saying about abortion and unborn life. Plus, leaving Islam.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 13th of February, 2024. This is WORLD Radio and we’re so happy to have you along with us today. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

LINDSAY MAST, HOST: And I’m Lindsay Mast.

First up on The World and Everything in It: state governors on pro-life matters.

WORLD’s Leah Savas reviewed the governors’ 2024 state of the state addresses. She has this report about what they say about pro-life issues.

LEAH SAVAS: Since early January, lawmakers across the country have gathered in state capitols to hear this year’s state of the state addresses. In these speeches, governors tout legislative wins, and signal priorities for the year ahead.

KELSEY PRITCHARD: Generally people aren’t sitting around and listening to those unless you're a lobbyist, unless you work in state government, unless you have a stake.

That’s Kelsey Pritchard, state public affairs director for the organization Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. She and her colleagues have been keeping tabs on how governors are addressing the life issue in their speeches.

PRITCHARD: I think it makes clear what bills they may be bringing, their office may be introducing or working with legislators to introduce and signaling to them the kind of policy they want to see get to their desk and the thing that they’ll be using their platform to push for…

Some are using their platforms to promote an agenda of unregulated abortion. Four Democrat governors that caught Pritchard's attention used their speeches to set bold pro-abortion goals for their states.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers:

GOV. TONY EVERS: I will veto any bill that takes away your reproductive freedom or makes reproductive healthcare any less [accessible] than it is today.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy:

GOV. PHIL MURPHY: I am calling again, with respect, on our Legislature to pass a bill to scrap out-of-pocket costs for abortion procedures

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs:

GOV. KATIE HOBBS: And we should stop government overreach that invades women’s privacy by collecting and publishing data on every abortion in Arizona.

And Washington Gov. Jay Inslee:

GOV. JAY INSLEE: We need to enshrine reproductive freedom in our constitution and pass a constitutional amendment protecting the right of choice this year…

Pritchard says these priorities are out of touch with the American people.

PRITCHARD: Because if you're talking about no protection—not even a 14-week protection is okay—you're saying taxpayers should completely fund abortion, you should get rid of abortion reporting, and we should have in our constitution a right to unlimited abortion—that shows where the Democrat Party is at.

Pritchard contrasts these speeches with four key pro-life addresses from Republican governors in South Dakota, Iowa, Alabama, and Nebraska.

GOV. NOEM: Later this week, I will proclaim that 2024 will be the “Freedom for Life Year” in South Dakota.

That’s Gov. Kristi Noem. She and other pro-life governors focused on what Pritchard calls a pro-life safety net: practical support for pregnant and new moms and their babies.

GOV. NOEM: We are offering the Bright Start program, and it’s to get one-on-one nursing services to first-time moms and to their babies from pregnancy until the child’s second birthday.

In neighboring Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds [wren-olds] set a goal of improving postpartum Medicaid coverage.

GOV. KIM REYNOLDS: Today, Medicaid covers postpartum care for two months after birth. I am proposing to extend that coverage to 12 months, for new moms who make less than $42,000 a year. Let’s do more to help moms, babies, and their families get off to a good start.

Gov. Kay Ivey in Alabama last week called on her state to foster a culture of life.

GOV. KAY IVEY: I am proud to support a pilot program that will start hosting checkups for pregnant women at nine county health departments in the areas of need.

And in January, Nebraska’s Gov. Jim Pillen also highlighted practical help for pregnant moms.

GOV. JIM PILLEN: We will continue to embrace life here in Nebraska with the launch of a yearlong “Culture of Life [and Love] Initiative.” It will provide resources to expecting moms, especially those in crisis who need support more than ever.

South Dakota and Alabama have protections for unborn babies starting at conception. But Iowa and Nebraska do not. Iowa’s heartbeat bill is currently on hold in court. And in Nebraska, lawmakers settled for protections after 12 weeks of pregnancy last year when attempts to pass a heartbeat bill failed. But Reynolds and Pillen did not call on lawmakers to take the next step and protect babies at conception.

Pritchard boils it down to the makeup of key state legislatures, which hasn’t changed since the latest attempts to enact stronger protections.

PRITCHARD: So yeah, bills could exist, but I don't think unfortunately, we're going to see much movement in the states on that front this year.

For now, these states are zeroing in on how to provide practical support to moms in need… to hopefully remove the reasons why a woman might get an abortion.

PRITCHARD: It really shows the compassion side of the pro-life movement, and how much of a focus that is and is going to be in 2024. It includes protecting the baby and it also includes helping the mother and helping the parents.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leah Savas.

LINDSAY MAST, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: the next generation of workers in the trades.

Maybe you’ve experienced something like this: a pipe bursts, water pouring from the ceiling. You call the plumber. He can get to you in a few days. Another one can’t get there any sooner.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And it’s not just plumbers. Around a half million job openings exist in the construction trades right now. That’s according to Associated Builders and Contractors.

Now, trade school enrollment has been slowly rising over the past few years. But is it enough? WORLD Radio’s Mary Muncy has the story.


MARY MUNCY: About nine students are prepping boards to frame a floor at Blue Ridge Community College in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

OMAR RECINDIZ: It's something that I've enjoyed since I was in high school.

Omar Recendiz has been in construction for about five years. He’s in Blue Ridge’s construction trades apprenticeship program to expand his hands-on and management skills.

RECINDIZ: I didn't know what to do when I was maybe in 10th grade. But my senior year, I knew that working in construction, woodwork, carpentry, or any of that was the path that I wanted to take, because I saw this is beneficial to me and to others. So it was a win win.

Recendiz is part of a growing number of students choosing trade school over what’s become the norm—a four-year university degree.

The National Student Clearing House reports two-year degree enrollment in construction trades, precision production, and mechanic and repair technology is up about 12 percent from five years ago. But while enrollment is on the rise, the need for skilled tradesmen is rising even faster.

Greg Sizemore is a Vice President for Associated Builders and Contractors. He says the number of skilled workers is dropping because many Baby Boomers are retiring, and they wanted the best for their kids.

GREG SIZEMORE: If you think about the end of World War Two, and when those individuals came back from overseas, the one thing that they really wanted to do is say that my kid will do better than I did, whatever that looks like.

Often that looked like a college degree.

SIZEMORE: And here we are five decades later. And quite frankly, we're still singing that same tune.

So as Baby Boomers retire from skilled trades work, they often don’t have a replacement. And to add the growing number of openings, the Biden administration last summer said its Inflation Reduction Act created about 170,000 thousand “clean energy” jobs so far… and many of those jobs are for skilled trades workers.

SIZEMORE: It's testing an already strained system.

Sizemore says it makes sense for parents to be wary of the trades. Sometimes these jobs are dangerous and it’s real, often dirty work.

But the industry has changed over the years… Many jobs could still be featured on shows like Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe or categorized as slinging a sledgehammer. But those jobs often also require high-tech equipment and expertise, and some aren’t even that dirty.

Sizemore says there’s also a misconception that trades jobs are for people who don’t have what it takes to do white collar work. But most trades jobs take a lot of on-the-job training, trade school, or a college degree.

SIZEMORE: These people are brilliant human beings that have learned a lot about building things, building things safely and that kind of thing. And so there has to be a light shined on that opportunity.

Sizemore says shining that light will start with expanding high school’s goals from just college readiness, to career readiness. He wants to show kids early on that the trades are viable careers with opportunities for growth and corner offices, just like many other jobs that require a college degree.


At Blue Ridge Community College, Devin Teofilak likes working with his hands, but that’s not the only reason he started working construction.

DEVIN TEOFILAK: I saw, like my parents come up in construction, and you know, probably work from the bottom and make it to the top. And you know, you can have a really good life. It's a career. It is what it is.

The trades aren’t for everyone and we still need doctors, lawyers, scientists, and teachers. But Sizemore says there’s something special about building and fixing things… and there’s plenty of space for new recruits.

SIZEMORE: So at the end of the day, yes, there is a stigma out there that it's tough, it's hard, it's hot, it could be cold, it's going to be all those things. But it's the most fulfilling, rewarding experience that anybody has ever seen when they walk into a place where nothing existed, and they walk out of there, and there's this thing that is built that is supposed to last in perpetuity forever.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Mary Muncy in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

ROCKY: Now here’s something we hope you really like!

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Ah yes, the old Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle show. Remember the squirrel and moose duo?

Well, out on the slopes of a Wyoming resort, a real moose gave the thrill of the chase to some downhill skiers. Of course someone had a camera and shouted out warnings:

SKIER: Go faster! He’s cruisin’.

A full three minutes of a breathtaking chase scene later, big sigh of relief. The moose opted for a different run. And nobody got hurt.

LINDSAY MAST, HOST: Now that’s something we can really like!

REICHARD: It’s The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, February 13th. This is WORLD Radio and we thank you for listening.

Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

LINDSAY MAST, HOST: And I’m Lindsay Mast. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: leaving Islam. 

In 2021, Ramazan Rafee escaped from the Taliban in Afghanistan and moved to a quiet suburb in Kentucky. Now he’s telling his story of how he found Christ.

Here’s WORLD Reporter Travis Kircher.

TRAVIS KIRCHER: Ramazan Rafee was born in Afghanistan 33 years ago into what he describes as a radical Shia Muslim family. His father was wealthy and owned a farm in the city of Ghazni, which meant Rafee got to enjoy a sheltered childhood for Afghanistan.

RAFEE: During the day you were going to outside and playing with other kids and have fun and this kind of stuff. The reason I said my family was somehow wealthy -- other people, their kids, they couldn't play. They had to work. Hard jobs.

But other aspects of life were anything but normal. Rafee says his extended family ruled the city for 25 years and administered brutal justice.

RAFEE: They cutted off hands. My cousins – they arrested some thieves and they killed them and cutted their hands.

In 1995, when he was around six years old, the Taliban came to Ghazni.

RAFEE: My people – they were fighting against Taliban… I remember when they were coming and I was playing soccer with other kids and we had to run. We had to escape.

The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, brutally imposing a radical interpretation of sharia law—the Islamic code that governs day-to-day living.

Rafee clearly recalls the night he heard the Taliban torturing a man from his village. They thought he was hiding weapons.

RAFEE: I could hear his voice when he was screaming from inside the mosque. And I was far away and I could hear that. So yeah. Just, it was like that. Everywhere was fear.

But as much as his parents hated the Taliban, they loved Islam. So they sent Rafee to Islamic school to train to be a mullah—an Islamic religious leader. By the time he was a teenager, he was preaching sermons.

RAFEE: I thought this is the real way. This is the truth. And I committed myself to Islam, but never experienced God. Never.

As he got older, he began to question his faith. And he started reading books by philosophers like Emmanuel Kant and Rene Descartes.

RAFEE: They defeated me. You have to doubt on everything – about yourself, about the universe, about everything. And I was thinking, “That’s cool!”

Rafee became an atheist. And in a radical Muslim country—that can be a dangerous thing. His father found out about his new beliefs when he was 17.

RAFEE: In 2007, my dad asked me to go pray in the mosque and read Quran. And I insulted Mohammed, I insulted Allah, I insulted Koran – which was not good. Which was not good…But he had a rifle and he took his rifle and he said, “I will kill you!” And yeah – my mother jumped in and she – in front of me – and she said, “First kill me and then Ramazan.”

Rafee got on his motorbike and fled to the city of Kabul. 

But it wasn’t long before he realized his atheism didn’t hold up either.

RAFEE: I had a big gap in my life. And I was thinking, “There is someone – there is a power, supernatural power – who is controlling the universe.”

He started investigating Christianity. For two years he tried to find a Bible, but this was next to impossible. When he asked for one at the library, they just laughed.

RAFEE: I was thinking, “Why this people are not allowed to have a Bible. Is it really bad?” “There is something.” I was thinking, “There is something. Why are they scared of this book?”

His search came to an end when he spotted an American missionary in an Internet café. He asked him for a Bible, and the man told him to come back the next afternoon at 1:30. Rafee showed up an hour early.

RAFEE: Because I was so thirsty and hungry for that book – that, “Today I am going to have it! And I am going to read it!”

The missionary gave Rafee a copy of the New Testament. Rafee asked the American to teach him about Jesus and they began meeting daily in the missionary’s home.

In less than two months, he had given his heart to Christ and experienced a God who was totally different from the one he heard about in the mosque.

RAFEE: I hear people say, “Well, we worship the same God.” No. We are not worshiping the same God. We are worshiping a living God, not an idol.

He says true Christianity is incompatible with Islam.

RAFEE: Everything is different. Love: You cannot see love in Islam. Love is different. Eternal life is different in Christ, God ask you to forgive your enemy. But in Islam, no. You cannot forgive your enemy.

Rafee says he’s turned his back on his old life. Even though he still has portions of the Quran memorized in Arabic, he refuses to recite them. And he’s pretty blunt about why.

RAFEE: I hate Islam. I know it is not nice word, but yeah. I saw a lot of difficulties from this people, and it is a Satanic religion.

Today, Rafee and his wife, Shamsia, translate pastoral materials into Farsi.

He says he’s grateful to be living for the God of the Bible and not the god of the Quran.

RAFEE: You’re a sinful person. The only thing that can save you is the grace of our Lord, though faith in Christ. And when you think about that you feel safe. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Travis Kircher in Louisville, Kentucky.

LINDSAY MAST, HOST: Today is Tuesday, February 13th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Lindsay Mast.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Up next: El Salvador’s constitutional crisis.

WORLD Opinions commentator Hunter Baker says the country’s recent vote to keep a strong leader in power is understandable, but also problematic.

HUNTER BAKER: In El Salvador, the rule has been that a president is not permitted to run for consecutive terms. But just over a week ago the millennial leader of the nation, Nayib Bukele, cruised to a landslide victory to win a second term. It is true that he used the country’s judiciary to get around the prohibition on consecutive terms. That said, it looks like he will have won another stint in office with the overwhelming support of his people.

During the Cold War, El Salvador often had the attention of the U.S. and Soviet Union as they waged a chess match for strategic advantage across the globe. Left-wing guerrillas and right-wing military groups traded power during the ’70s and ’80s. More recently, El Salvador’s peace has been threatened by extensive gang violence–the kind that makes life a waking nightmare for citizens.

So, when does a people willingly dismantle some of the limits they have placed on political leaders? They do it when peace can no longer be taken for granted and strong measures must be put in place.

When Americans think about government, too often we think about food stamps or universal pre-K programs or plans to reduce the amount of carbon fuels we burn. All of those things fly under the banner of government, but they are somewhat divorced from the essence of the institution. The distinctive quality of government is that it is the social body with a legal monopoly on the use of coercive force.

Government represents an awesome power that can be used for good or ill. Martin Luther saw it as a gift of God designed to restrain and punish those who prey upon the innocent in a world infected with sin.

El Salvador’s Bukele responded to rampant gang violence with a radical and sweeping action. He put in motion an operation to take over 70,000 gang members into custody, nearly doubling the nation’s prison population. He allowed film footage to be posted on social media showing large numbers of accused gang members herded into rows and stacked behind one another in complete submission. In the wake of Bukele’s radical action, the murder rate in the country has declined by 70 percent.

Romans 13 tells us explicitly that rulers are a terror to bad conduct and that they carry out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer as they act on his authority. A great sickness calls for a powerful remedy.

Nevertheless, neither the people of El Salvador nor we should too easily accept strong arm actions by the government without employing discernment. Leaders are human and sinful, just like the rest of us. The abuse of power can be as great a threat as lawlessness. What made Cincinnatus and his American heir George Washington great was their willingness to wield the sword and power when necessary, and then to retire from the scene when the job was done. We should pray that El Salvador is able to establish peace and keep it with a government still in check.

I’m Hunter Baker.

LINDSAY MAST, HOST: Tomorrow on Washington Wednesday: the southern border deal is dead. But foreign aid isn’t. We’ll have a report. And, a review of the Holy Sexuality video series for kids. That and more tomorrow.

I’m Lindsay Mast.

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 Psalmist writes: “But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, ‘Great is the Lord!’” —Psalm 40:16

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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