The World and Everything in It - February 22, 2022
A federal law that would give citizenship to international adoptees; the Durham report and what it means; and a visit to Valley Forge. Plus: commentary from Steve West, and the Tuesday morning news.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
People legally adopted from overseas sometimes learn they aren’t American citizens, even years after the fact. A bipartisan bill aims to fix that.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Also allegations from the Durham report on just how far a politically motivated smear campaign may have actually gone.
Plus the new and improved Revolutionary War park in Pennsylvania. We’ll take you there.
And the wonders of a snow day.
REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, February 22nd. 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 the news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: U.S. to impose new sanctions amid Ukraine crisis » President Biden is ordering new sanctions after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that regions in eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian separatists are no longer part of Ukraine.
PUTIN: [Speaking in Russian]
Putin on Monday announced what he called his “overdue” decision to—quote—“immediately recognize the independence … of Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic."
The European Union also says it will impose sanctions against those involved in Russia’s recognition of those separatist regions.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the U.K. is preparing sanctions as well.
JOHNSON: This is plainly in breach of international law. It’s a flagrant violation of the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine.
The White House says the new U.S. sanctions will prohibit new investment, trade, and financing in the two separatist regions that Moscow recognized.
Putin’s declaration further drives fears that Russia could imminently invade Ukraine.
COVID-19 cases continue to plummet » Boris Johnson also announced on Monday that he is scrapping the last of England’s COVID-19 restrictions.
He said, “We now have sufficient levels of immunity to complete the transition from protecting people with government interventions to relying on vaccines and treatments as our first line of defense.”
JOHNSON: Until the first of April, we will still advise people who test positive to stay at home. But after that, we will encourage people with COVID-19 symptoms to exercise personal responsibility, just as we encourage people who may have flu to be considerate of others.
Meantime, in the United States, new COVID cases continue to plummet as the omicron wave falls just as sharply as it surged.
A rolling 3-day average has new cases at just over 60,000 per day. That’s down from more than 800,000 just over one month ago.
Hospitalizations and deaths are also falling sharply.
Gas prices rising with no end in sight » While COVID cases are falling, gas prices are heading in the opposite direction.
The price at the pump is the highest it’s been in eight years.
Patrick De Haan with Gasbuddy.com says in just one month’s time, the national per gallon average has jumped 21 cents.
DE HAAN: It now stands at $3.52 a gallon. That’s a new high-water mark, the highest Americans have paid since 2014.
And the current price for regular unleaded is almost 90 cents higher than one year ago.
If you’re looking for prices to drop, you may be in for a long wait. De Haan says the nation will soon transition to more expensive summer gasoline.
DE HAAN: In addition, gasoline demand is starting to rise, not only in the U.S. but globally, as COVID cases come down and Americans hit the road ahead of spring break.
And on top of that, he says refineries are heading into their maintenance season. That could reduce supply and further raise costs.
Canada extends emergency powers after protests » Lawmakers in Canada voted last night to let the government keep its emergency powers for now despite police breaking up the protest in the capital city of Ottawa.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Monday.
TRUDEAU: Even though things seem to be resolving very well in Ottawa, this state of emergency is not over. There continues to be real concerns about the coming days.
Trudeau said some truckers just outside the city may be planning further blockades.
Canada’s Emergencies Act allows authorities to declare certain areas as no go zones. It also allows police to freeze truckers’ personal and corporate bank accounts and compels tow truck companies to tow away vehicles.
Police said the government has frozen the accounts of—quote—“influencers in the illegal protest in Ottawa, and owners and/or drivers of vehicles who did not want to leave the area.”
Meantime, some protesters say police used excessive force in some cases to break up protests over the weekend.
AUDIO: Police officers were extremely rough in certain measures, in certain cases.
The government is investigating at least two cases of possible excessive force.
SpaceX rocket launches with broadband satellites » AUDIO: [LAUNCH]
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Monday.
SOUND: 3, 2, 1, engines full power, lift off, Starling 4-8
The rocket is carrying nearly 50 Starlink broadband satellites. It’s part of Elon Musk’s vision to bring high-speed internet to all corners of the Earth.
Two weeks ago, a geomagnetic storm knocked up to 40 Starlink satellites out of orbit.
But Starlink now has more than 1,500 satellites operational in low Earth orbit.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: citizenship for international adoptees.
Plus, the beauty and fun of a snow day.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday, the 22nd of February, 2022.
You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we’re really glad you’ve joined us today. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
First up on The World and Everything in It: American citizenship for people adopted from outside the country.
You probably just assumed that a legal adoption would include citizenship for the child. New family, new country, new citizen. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work.
REICHARD: But it doesn’t always. International adoptees sometimes find out that while their adoptions were finalized years ago, their citizenship never was. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill that could change that. WORLD’s Lauren Dunn reports.
LAUREN DUNN, REPORTER: Joy Alessi was adopted from Korea when she was 7 months old.
ALESSI: Some adoptees like myself came into the United States on a plane full of babies for the sole purpose of adoption.
That was in the 1960s. Alessi was adopted in California and grew up as an American. But in her 20s, when she applied for a passport for a trip to Mexico, she learned she wasn’t a U.S. citizen.
ALESSI: At that time, I was also told that if I had ever tried to apply for citizenship and resolve this issue, that essentially I could be in trouble because I had voted by then. And so the idea was that I could possibly be prosecuted, and then deported from the United States. And obviously, those words were enormously scary. And I was told that I should probably seek legal counsel.
Alessi is one of thousands of international adoptees who learned years after their adoption that they were not U.S. citizens. Often these adoptees don’t even know they aren’t citizens until they apply for a passport or school financial aid. Many are unsure of their legal status. In a few rare cases, some adult adoptees have been deported to their birth countries.
ALESSI: Lawyers continued to tell me, I should just be grateful that I have legal permanent residence, that at least I was able to work. And I shouldn't rock the boat, essentially.
Getting citizenship for adoptees is supposed to be part of the adoption process. And most get it without any problem. So how come some don’t?
Chelsea Sobolik is the public policy director at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
SOBOLIK: And I think it can be easy to say, Well, why didn't families just naturalize these individuals. Sometimes they weren't aware that they needed to naturalize them, or sometimes they thought they completed the process and didn't or there were some tragic cases where a parent died and paperwork was lost, and just a whole host of issues.
Congress tried to solve the problem in 2000 by passing a law that ensures every internationally-adopted child who comes to the United States becomes a U.S. citizen. It’s automatic, as long as the adoption is legal and finalized and at least one parent is a U.S. citizen.
But the new law only applied to adoptees who were under 18 when it was passed. Adoptees like Alessi, who were already adults by then, were left out.
Congressman John Curtis is a Republican from Utah.
CURTIS: It feels like it was unintentional that we let we left a loophole in it. And so when that bill was passed, if you were 18, at the time the bill passed, you didn't qualify even though you may have been very young when you were adopted as assistance into this country. So it feels like we just missed it in Congress, not like somebody intentionally said that these people should not be recipients.
Sobolik and others estimate about 30,000 adoptees fell through that loophole. Some still may not realize they aren’t citizens.
SOBOLIK: So the number is a little bit, it is an approximate number. And the reason for that is when some of these people realize they're not citizens, those agencies or organizations don't capture that information. You know, when you go to get a Social Security benefit and find out you're not a citizen, they don't ask you, were you adopted? So these are the best estimates based off of where adoptions are happening at the time...
Earlier this month the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Adoptee Citizenship Act as part of the broader America COMPETES Act. It grants citizenship for international adoptees legally brought to the country before they turned 18.
The Senate passed its version of the America COMPETES Act last summer. But it did not include the Adoptee Citizenship Act. There are other differences between the House and Senate versions, so the bill will go to conference committee before returning to both chambers for a final vote.
This isn’t the first time the Adoptee Citizenship Act has been considered in Congress. But this year is the first time the measure has passed in the House. And Sobolik says the bill has plenty of support.
SOBOLIK: The bill writ large really does enjoy broad bipartisan support, both in Congress, and then a lot of advocacy groups, whether it's faith based groups like ours, or child welfare groups, or adoption advocates are supportive of this bill and supportive of a fix, because this should have been done, you know, 22 years ago at this point, and it hasn't.
The issue is personal for Sobolik. She was adopted from Romania as an infant in 1991 and naturalized as a U.S. citizen. She and her husband Michael are in the process of adopting from India.
SOBOLIK: Adopting from other countries is a privilege and not a right. And so this is a way of signaling to partner countries that we will continue to honor our promises and that we will take the utmost care and concern of the people that we have adopted from their countries.
Joy Alessi became an American citizen a few years ago. She now directs the Adoptee Rights Campaign, an advocacy group that has raised awareness on this issue and helped adoptees. She says the House passage of the bill is a big step.
ALESSI: So I think the key is to continue raising support from both sides of the aisle. We definitely are going in that direction. So, you know, bipartisan support is tremendously important. If we can keep it on that track, then I think we'll do well.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Lauren Dunn.
One more thing, last summer I joined 25 college students and recent graduates for a two-week journalism intensive: “WORLD Journalism Institute.”
Nearly every voice you hear on this program and almost every writer you read in WORLD magazine or WORLD digital went through the WJI training program.
At WJI I learned to start asking questions and talk to people even when I felt nervous. And I was reminded that we don't need to worry about frightening headlines: the sky is not falling, our instructors told us, because God holds up the sky.
So if you’re interested in studying journalism grounded in facts and God’s word—or know a young person who is—WJI is currently accepting applications for the May course at Dordt University.
Apply online at WJI.world.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Up next: investigating the investigators.
A recent court filing by Special Counsel John Durham contains some startling revelations.
You may recall that former Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham as special counsel. Durham is probing those who investigated alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Durham’s latest filing shows that the effort to dig up and even invent dirt on Donald Trump went further than previously realized. It even reached into protected White House communications.
Those efforts have strong ties to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
Here to talk about it is Hans Von Spakovsky. He once worked as counsel at the Justice Department and served on former President Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in 2017. Now he serves at the Heritage Foundation.
REICHARD: Hans, good morning!
HANS VON SPAKOVSKY, GUEST: Good morning to you. Thanks for having me on.
REICHARD: Well, this is a difficult story. The details are a little convoluted. Let’s start with the central issue. If true, what happened?
SPAKOVSKY: That an internet executive and his company with the help, apparently, of a U.S. university, its cyber researchers, and multiple internet companies, they used their access to intercept and scoop up internet communications and traffic at Trump Tower and at Trump's New York apartment during the 2016 election. And then that same executive continued to do that once Donald Trump was in the White House because apparently his company had a contract to provide certain services inside the White House. His lawyers were the same lawyers representing Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign. And apparently what they were doing with all of this data and information, according to John Durham, is they were looking for derogatory information about Donald Trump—that's a direct quote from the pleadings—and looking for any inference they could create that Donald Trump had covert communications and relations with the Russian government, which we now, of course, know was totally untrue and a complete hoax.
REICHARD: You mentioned the former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann says this is overblown. On Thursday, he asked a judge to toss out the case against him in Durham's investigation. He said Durham is guilty of—quote—"extraordinary prosecutorial overreach."
What is Sussmann’s alleged role in this and what is your reaction to his claims that Duhram is overreaching?
SPAKOVSKY: Well, frankly, I would trust John Durham and as opposed to Michael Sussman. John Durham is an experienced, well-respected Justice Department prosecutor. He's been working there for 35 years. There's no way that he would put this kind of information, these kinds of facts into a court pleading unless he had all the evidence he needed to back it up. Sussmann very clearly lied to the FBI. He was asked by the FBI when he came to them and said, Oh, there are covert communications going on between Donald Trump, his campaign, and a Russian bank. Which was totally not true. He was asked specifically, Who are you representing and providing us with this information? And he said, Well, I'm not representing anyone. Well, it turned out that not only was he representing the internet company that scooped up all these communications, but his partner Mark Elias was the general counsel for the Clinton campaign and apparently there are billing records that have been obtained by John Durham from that law firm indicating that Sussman was billing the Clinton campaign for his work. So he clearly lied to the FBI. That is a criminal violation of federal law.
REICHARD: So, many conflicts of interest in all this. Hans, you wrote that even if there is criminal activity here, those involved may not ultimately be charged. Why not?
SPAKOVSKY: Well, unfortunately, there's a five year statute of limitation that applies to most federal statutes. This all occurred, apparently, in 2016, and early 2017. So the statute of limitations may have run. But for those who say, there's nothing really to this, no, there's a federal criminal statute called the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. And it makes unauthorized access to computer systems and computer networks a criminal violation of the law. And even if you have initial authorization, as apparently this company did, to the White House computers, that law makes it a criminal violation if you go beyond the authorization that you were given. The easiest way to understand this is, look, if you hire a computer expert to come in and fix the hard drive on your home computer, they do that. But then they cruise through your computer and they basically make copies of and take all of your email communications. That's a criminal violation of the law. The fact that you initially gave them authorization does not apply to them then taking those other steps and intruding into your computer system.
REICHARD: Last question, Hans: If not criminal charges, what might ultimately come out of this in your view?
SPAKOVSKY: Well, hopefully we will get a final report from John Durham on all his findings. Now, keep in mind, several individuals have been indicted, not just Michael Sussman, but the Russian who was the one who made up many of the false stories, remember, that were in the Steele dossier. And we may still get more indictments. Everyone should keep in mind that the grand jury—convened by John Durham—to investigate this is still meeting. So, I think there's more to come.
REICHARD: Hans Von Spakovsky has been our guest. Hans, thanks so much!
SPAKOVSKY: Sure. Thanks for having me.
NICK EICHER, HOST: How would you like it if you were snorkeling in the warm shallow waters of Florida and felt something ripping at your ankle? Not good, right?
Well, Heather West didn’t like it, either. She was snorkeling in Dry Tortugas National Park when a second rip followed that first rip and she pretty quickly realized she had a decision to make.
WEST: I knew that if he got a third rip in there, I wasn’t going to have a foot left. So I immediately sat up and leaned forward, and I just started punching with both my fists and - so he lets go.
If there’s one thing a shark doesn’t like is a punch in the face. So it let go of her foot and swam off. Then she screamed for her friends to help her out of the water.
What a relief to look down and see that her foot was still attached!
WEST: You know, I knew it was a battle for the foot and one of us was going to win and one of us was going to lose, and I honestly didn’t expect that I was going to be the winner of this. So I was pretty happy.
Let that be a warning to other sharks: don’t mess with Heather West! She has fought a shark and lived to tell the tale.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, February 22nd. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Valley Forge. As in soldiers, scant supplies, and the winter of 1777.
Last week, the Valley Forge National Historical Park visitors center in Pennsylvania reopened, just in time to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. WORLD Senior Correspondent Kim Henderson visited the park a few days after the ribbon cutting.
KIM HENDERSON, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Visiting Valley Forge is like returning to your high school history class, only this time it’s total immersion.
AUDIO: [SOLDIER MOVEMENT]
You can hear the sound of soldiers arriving. You can see rows of huts and even jump rain puddles at their doors to touch wooden pallets lining their walls.
But a close look at tree limbs above the hut at stop number 2 reveals a very plastic 21st century kite. And that represents the challenge. Keeping history alive while time moves on.
AUDIO: [NEWS CLIP]
The updates of the visitors center at Valley Forge were the first since its dedication during the nation’s bicentennial. An exhibit displays a photo of President Gerald Ford there on July 4, 1976, signing legislation establishing the 3,500-acre park.
Museum-like exhibits were the bulk of the update. They give the history of the Continental Army’s winter encampment at Valley Forge.
AUDIO: [MOM READING SIGN]
As a mom from Ohio reads aloud information to her daughter, another family checks out a hands-on option, recreating huts using toy logs.
Soldiers constructed more than 1,200 of the real ones.
A display further in teaches about fortifications. It’s hands-on, too, with squiggly magnetic cutouts representing redoubts, a type of defensive barrier used at Valley Forge.
Then a life-size screen soldier takes visitors through commands in both English and French. Remember, the French came to our aid that winter.
But the French aren’t the only ones who get equal time in this museum. The new scenes and signage at Valley Forge reflect diversity. A lot of it.
AUDIO: VISITOR CENTER MOVIE
A full-sized George Washington still sits atop his white horse, but exhibits also highlight the contributions of native Americans, immigrants, and slaves.
Telling the broader story may reflect current social pressures. Or it could be related to something that happened within the Parks Service as early as 1998. A report that year involving Civil War battlefields led to the “Holding the Higher Ground” initiative, an effort to more fully chronicle the lives of minorities and women at national park sites.
But one push in the displays seems a bit contemporary, the section on revolutionary medicine. Valley Forge is hailed as one of the first locations for a state-mandated mass-immunization program in history. Small pox.
The push also showed up on one of the museum’s figures, a soldier who’s lifelike, right down to the ridges in his knuckles. But don’t ask to remove the COVID mask covering the lower half of his finely-designed 18th century face. The park official will laugh you away. They want it on. Humorous history.
MUSIC: [YANKEE DOODLE SONG]
But what happened at Valley Forge wasn’t funny. A dispirited army of 12,000 became a unified fighting force, even while suffering from hunger, severe cold, and diseases like influenza and typhoid. It’s that hard history that proves the draw and fills the visitors’ album with recent signatures from Alabama, Kansas, Florida, Montana, New York, Oklahoma—even Germany and South Africa.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kim Henderson in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, February 22nd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
Well, we’re in another of these named winter storms—this one, Oaklee—which is promising snow and ice from the West to the Southern Plains, Midwest, and Northeast and that’s expected through the end of the week.
EICHER: So that means snow days. WORLD commentator Steve West, along with some help from WORLD readers and listeners, is remembering some favorite snow days of the past.
STEVE WEST, COMMENTATOR: In Liberties, a weekly newsletter I write about First Amendment issues, I often ask a question. For the last two weeks, I asked readers to share a memory of a snow day. There were many, some lengthy–a few of which you’ll hear, like this one from Bob McLeod.
MCLEOD: Snow is always deeper when you're younger, right? Sure seems like it. Anyone who lived in Connecticut in 1978 remembers "The Big One"—48" of snow fell overnight (at least at our house). My dad carved out the sidewalk and driveway like cutting cubes of sugar. The governor closed the state for a few days while people dug out. For my twin sister and me,10-year-olds and shorter than the 48 inches of snow, it was epic.
WEST: Don’t you just love snow? Oh, I know, this is a North Carolinian speaking, someone who doesn’t live with snow… day in day out and shovel it all winter long. It’s 74 degrees on this February day! And yet for this southerner there’s nothing like the not common waking to the different light and different quiet of a snowy day, of pulling back the curtains and peering out from a warm room behind a windowpane cold to the touch at what poet Billy Collins called a “revolution of snow.”
Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows
the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.
I have a friend in Minnesota who wears shorts and sandals in the winter. I thought of him when I heard this memory from Doug Norquist.
NORQUIST: We lived in the northern suburbs of St. Paul, Minnesota, and thought our school system was the slowest around when it came to canceling classes. Many days we rode the bus to or from school during snowstorms. It had to be an honest blizzard to bring a morning closure.
But on one April day, the administrator that usually made the decision was away, reportedly in Florida. We got a fair bit of snow—five or six inches, I think—but we almost didn't even check for school closures. For one thing, the forecast promised a change to sunny skies and mild spring temperatures. The administrative sub, however, hit the panic button and called off classes.
The forecast had been correct. Very soon the skies were clear and the temperatures mild. My cousins and I got together and celebrated by sunbathing. I must add that our mothers did not approve. And looking back, I'm sure it was not true sunning weather—perhaps 60 degrees F. But hey, we were Minnesotans.
Years ago—decades actually—we had an unusual two feet of snow here in the hilly Piedmont of North Carolina. After some next-day melting, the powdery mix froze ice-rink hard. In the late evening, our neighbors volunteered to stay with our sleeping children so we could enjoy some late night, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime sledding.
It was both thrilling—and dangerous. Our neighborhood has some significant hills and, shortly after our trip downhill began, we realized we hadn’t thought this through carefully. Yet there was no stopping. One mile later, we ran into a cul-de-sac curb, depositing ourselves in a neighbor’s yard, bruised but alive. By God’s grace, we lived on to see children to adulthood, our memories and bodies mostly intact.
WERHANOWICZ: I’m 70 and live in sunny Phoenix, far from snow days. But I still remember a day in Hereford, Texas when I was 5. In the panhandle of Texas all the time. One day we woke up to a solid wall of snow pushing against our front door. The back yard was bare! We took bowls to the front door, filled them with snow and made snow ice cream.
Thank you, Jodi Werhanowicz, for reminding me that we made snow cream when I was a child as well, only my mother wouldn’t let us eat the first snow, as the sky hadn’t been cleaned yet.
Doris Stanford shared a memory from an unusual-sounding town in northwest New Jersey. I’ll let her pronounce it.
STANFORD: It was my birthday, October 9th, in the mid-1970s, and the schools in Hopatcong, New Jersey, shut down because of only a few inches of snow. That was enough to make the steep hills in some parts of town dangerous for the school buses. But cars could manage the roads with no problems, and I spent a good hunk of my day at the home of a friend of mine who was a teacher at one of the local schools. My kids played with her kids, and I helped her correct English papers. A great way to spend one’s birthday!
I’ve searched the Bible and there’s no mention of snow falling in those mostly arid and hot lands—except in 2 Samuel where one of David’s mighty men struck down a lion in a pit on a day, it records, “when snow had fallen.” The New Testament records no snow falls at all.
Yet the Psalmist says “wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” The prophet Isaiah has the Lord promising, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” And Matthew describes the angel that rolled the stone away from the tomb as having “clothing white as snow.”
When it snows I’m just thankful to be, as Billy Collins writes, “a willing prisoner in this house, a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow .... listening hard to its grandiose silence”—snow, that great disruptor of the ordinary day, that welcome reminder that in a “world fallen under this falling” the snow of Christ’s sacrifice covers every sin.
Thanks to WORLD readers Bob McLeod, Doug Norquist, Jodi Werhanowicz, and Doris Stanford for helping us all remember the wonder of a snow day.
I’m Steve West.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: retiring early. We’ll find out why so many House Democrats are opting not to seek reelection.
And, Olympic dreams. We’ll hear how calls to boycott the games affect the athletes who train their whole lives to compete.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
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