The World and Everything in It: February 6, 2024 | WORLD
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The World and Everything in It: February 6, 2024


WORLD Radio - The World and Everything in It: February 6, 2024

Senate negotiators unveil a border deal and a grassroots convoy at the southern border, Pennsylvania lawmakers consider rescinding safety regulations for abortion facilities, and February’s Classic Book of the Month helps families remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Plus, Brad Littlejohn on Elon Musk’s Neuralink project and the Tuesday morning news

Immigrants wait to be processed at a U.S. Border Patrol transit center in Eagle Pass, Texas, December 20, 2023. Getty Images/Photo by John Moore

PREROLL: The World and Everything in It is made possible by listeners like me. Good morning. I am Betty Beason and I live in the beautiful foothills of northern California and Grass Valley. I love the world and everything in it and I listen to it each morning when getting ready to go to the gym. Your ministry is a great addition to my day. Thank you to all involved in the world and everything in it. I hope you enjoy today's show.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning! America’s border problem: what do ordinary Americans think about political fixes?

AVILA: It's very upsetting to me. And to the immigrants that made it legally.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Also, Pennsylvania considers ending safety regulations for abortion businesses. And WORLD’s Classic Book of the Month.

SHENVI: In that speech I Have a Dream, Dr. King appealed to our founding documents and said, hey, America, live up to your good, righteous, just ideals.

And the Neuralink project from Elon Musk raises ethical red flags.

REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, February 6th. 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 news with Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Border bill » House Speaker Mike Johnson says leaders in his chamber have read through the Senate’s bipartisan border bill.

JOHNSON: And it did not take long to realize that this is dead on arrival. There’s no way we could bring this through the House.

Sen. James Lankford was the lead Republican negotiator in crafting the bill. He’s asking House Republicans to give it a chance.

He says the bill would, among other things end so-called catch-and-release border practices, raise asylum standards, and build more sections of the border wall.

He also said it would close loopholes in immigration laws.

LANKFORD: Even President Trump asked for those to be closed while he was president. And Congress was unable to get it done. We would get it done in this.

But Republican critics contend the Senate bill is riddled with loopholes of its own.

And Speaker Johnson notes that the bill would give work permits to many migrants who cross the southern border.

JOHNSON: What it would do is further incentivize illegal immigration. It would not resolve any of the problems, not reform in any meaningful way.

Even in the Senate Lankford and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are the only Republicans publicly backing the bill.

Migrant crimes in New York City » Meantime, in New York City, Police Commissioner Edward Caban told reporters on Monday:

CABAN: So in recent months, a wave of migrant crime has washed over our city.

Police this week arrested several Venezuelan migrants in the Bronx accused of operating a robbery ring, targeting mostly women, snatching purses and cell phones.

And detectives are trying to track down migrants accused of beating New York police officers.

Mayor Eric Adams:

ADAMS: The overwhelming number of 170-plus-thousand migrants and asylum seekers are pursuing the American dream. But those who commit a crime will be treated like any other criminal in this city.

Migrant crime has posed a particular challenge, because in many cases, police have no records or photos to use in identifying the suspects.

Blinken to Middle East » Secretary of State Tony Blinken is back in the Middle East hoping to tamp down tensions in the region and secure a cease-fire that would see more Hamas hostages go free.

And State Department spokesman Vedant Patel says Blinken will also continue to push for a Palestinian state independent of Israel.

PATEL: Some kind of longer term solution here that gets us out of an endless cycle of violence. We continue to feel strongly that a two-state solution is that solution forward.

Blinken met Monday with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince. He’s set to travel to Egypt, Qatar, Israel, and the West Bank.

SOUND: [Protest at UNWRA HQ]

UNRWA investigation » Dozens gathered outside the Jerusalem offices of UNWRA yesterday. That’s the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

Protesters waved Israeli flags and demanded that the agency be expelled from the holy city after allegations that a dozen of its staff participated in the October 7th terror attacks by Hamas.

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Aryeh King:

KING: These people working here, UNRWAL, they are poisoning, poisoning the head, the brain of children in Jerusalem. They are poisoning them against Israel, against Jews!

The UN on Monday announced an independent review of UNRWA policies and procedures to be led by a former French foreign minister. It’s unclear if that probe will satisfy the demands of the US government for a “immediate and serious investigation into the allegations.”

King Charles cancer » King Charles III is undergoing treatment for cancer. Buckingham Palace announced the diagnosis on Monday, but did not immediately provide details on the type of cancer or his prognosis.

President Biden extended his well-wishes hours later.

BIDEN: Concerned about him. Just heard his diagnosis — probably talk to him, God willing.

The 75-year-old monarch will halt all public appearances for now. But British royal commentator Alastair Bruce says Charles shouldn’t have any trouble handling other duties 

BRUCE: Dealing with both approving both an enormous number of documents and giving effect to various different instruments from government and through Parliament. So the king will get on with that perfectly happily.

King Charles has no plans to hand over his constitutional roles as head of state.

Chile fires » In Chile, rampant wildfires have now killed well over a hundred people as firefighters struggle to contain the flames.

Today is the second of two national days of mourning.

BORIC: [Speaking Spanish]

President Gabriel Boric said the entire nation is “suffering and crying” for all of those lost.

Chile has declared a state of emergency. The flames, which broke out on Friday, have destroyed thousands of homes.

NBC Poll » The results of a new NBC News poll could be troubling election year news for Democrats. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.

KRISTEN FLAVIN: The poll of about a thousand registered voters gives Republicans a 4-point lead over Democrats in a generic congressional matchup.

It also puts President Biden’s approval at just 37 percent. That’s a new low for the president.

The poll gives GOP front-runner Donald Trump a 20-point lead over Biden on which candidate would better handle the economy and a 30-point lead on immigration and the border.

The survey also gives Trump a 16-point edge over Biden on being competent and effective. That’s a reversal from four years ago, when respondents gave Biden a 9-point edge when answering the same question before the 2020 election.

Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt leads one of the two firms that conducted the poll for NBC. He said the findings reveal “a presidency in peril.”

For WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

I'm Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: getting to the bottom of the U.S. border crisis. Plus, Classic Book of the Month.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 6th of February, 2024.

This is WORLD Radio and we’re so glad to have you along with 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: America’s problem with illegal immigration.

In a January poll conducted by Harvard and CAPS-Harris, immigration came out as the top issue of concern for voters. That follows a record-high number of encounters border agents reported. And now, after three years of saying his administration has the border under control, President Biden acknowledges something’s a little bit off.

BIDEN: I'm ready to solve the problem. I really am, massive changes. And I mean it sincerely.

MARY REICHARD: The debate now heating up centers on root causes and how to deal with them.

Over the weekend, the Senate released details of a bill that would allot about $20 billion for quicker processing at the U.S. southern border  among other things, while funding about $74 billion for aid to Ukraine and Israel, the lion’s share for Ukraine. The border funding would increase the number of immigration judges and raise the standards for claiming asylum while also making it easier to deport those who don’t meet the requirements.

EICHER: But House Republicans are rejecting the Senate’s pitch, calling for more transformative policy changes and calling on the president to take action. House Speaker Mike Johnson.

JOHNSON: We have an unmitigated crisis and the president can take executive authority immediately. And he's pretending as though he does not know that.

REICHARD: With so much media and political attention on the border crisis, a grassroots group of Americans recently decided they needed to see the border for themselves.

SOUND: [The event in Dripping Springs]

EICHER: On Thursday, hundreds gathered outside a distillery near Austin, Texas, for a rally hosted by the Take Back Our Border Convoy. The caravan of cars, trucks, and RVs rolled out from Virginia Beach several days earlier. Organizers describe their mission as one of prayer and revival. Here’s convoy organizer Robert Agee.

ROBERT AGEE: We're not going down to the border wall. We're not going to engage with law enforcement or individuals that are gonna be coming across that that border potentially. We're going to have a prayer gathering.

REICHARD: Many of those attending the rally said they support Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s efforts to secure the border and the message it sends to the federal government.

VICTOR AVILA: It’s not about the razor wire. It’s not about the seizing of that property of Shelby Park. It’s about a symbol, sending it to the Biden Administration and say, “You better speak on our side. Why aren’t you on our side?” That’s what it’s about.

EICHER: Victor Avila previously worked as a special agent for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

AVILA: You have Border Patrol that patrols the border. But a lot of people forget that it doesn't matter how much Border Patrol secures the border if you don't have the Department of Justice prosecuting people for those crimes.

REICHARD: As the son of legal Mexican immigrants, Avila is concerned about how illegal immigration affects the country.

AVILA: It's very upsetting to me. And to the immigrants that made it legally. They waited years to do it. They went through the vetting, through the health screening, through the background, through they paid fines. Sometimes it took them 10-12 years. And then they see millions of people walking across the river and like, it makes no sense, right?

EICHER: On stage, Convoy organizer Robert Agee spoke for a majority of Americans when he said someone in Washington needs to do something, and soon.

AGEE: This border needs to be fixed, this border issue needs to be fixed and these officials, these elected officials that we have elected to do this job that we paid and hired to do the job on our behalf have not been doing that job now.

REICHARD: WORLD Reporter Addie Offereins contributed to this report.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Police received a call from a shopping mall in Australia. They say police have heard it all, but I can’t imagine they heard this one before.

A toddler had crawled inside one of those arcade games. You’ve seen these, where the object is to manipulate a metal claw to grab a prize.

So there’s only one way to rescue the kid and it’s not going to be easy

MARY REICHARD, HOST: No, no, just no. Not trying to fish him out with the claw?!

EICHER: Well, no, but still risky. They coax the kid into a corner, convince him to cover his eyes, and then...

POLICE: Ready? 

SOUND: [Glass breaking]

Yeah, like that.

And then the happy sound we all wanted to hear.

SOUND: [Cries]

AUDIO: You won a prize, which one do you want?

I’m guessing in his three year old mind, he’s thinking which just one?

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It:

Protecting the vulnerable.

Now a quick word to parents. This story touches on some of the worst details of the case of abortionist Kermit Gosnell. He was a specialist in late-term abortions and was ultimately convicted on three counts of first-degree murder. He’s serving a life sentence for his crimes, and with good reason.

You may want to think about whether this story is appropriate for your family.

REICHARD: Back in January, Democrats in Pennsylvania marked the 51st anniversary of the now overruled Roe v. Wade decision. They made a promise. Sound here from a press conference at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

KHAN: We know that by getting rid of this law, we will ensure safe access to anyone who requires or needs abortion care.

EICHER: The law in question lays out health and safety standards for abortion centers, and opponents say it puts an undue burden on access to abortion, a legal term of art that no longer has any constitutional meaning. But missing from the conversation is any mention of the man whose crimes inspired those regulations.

GOSNELL: That wasn’t my fault that they didn’t inspect me, I felt that I was on the cutting edge of technology.

REICHARD: So to speak. That’s audio from journalist Ann McElhinney’s interview with Dr. Gosnell for the podcast Serial Killer.

At the time of his arrest, nail salons had more regulations than abortion centers, so in 2011 Pennsylvania passed measures to prevent the crimes Gosnell committed from happening again.

EICHER: So what’s at stake if Pennsylvania turns back the clock?

WORLD’s Lillian Hamman has the story.

WOOD: In patrol, you see a lot of ugly things.

In 2010, Pennsylvania drug detective Jim Wood was one of the first investigators to witness the inside of Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s abortion facility in West Philadelphia.

WOOD: When we got to Gosnell’s and we got those babies out of the freezer, yeah. The dirt, the bloodstains on the floor, cats running around with litter boxes all over the place, with fleas, and like the smell of death. That's what it actually smelled like and you couldn’t get that smell out of your nose for a while. That's definitely the worst that I've ever seen.

That “smell of death,” was a formaldehyde-like smell from baby body parts clogging drains, or stored around the facility in used water and bleach jugs.

The original charge to arrest Gosnell was for illegally dispensing oxycodone prescriptions to drug dealers. But Gosnell would soon be investigated for using illegal and gruesome methods to abort thousands of babies well past Pennsylvania's 24-week limit, even murdering those born alive, and killing women in the process.

Gosnell’s facility operated uninspected and unregulated for nearly two decades before his arrest in 2011.

Just a few months later, Pennsylvania lawmakers across the aisle created and passed legislation to try to prevent another Gosnell, and now those protections are under attack.

On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade last month, 12 Pennsylvania Democrats sponsored by Planned Parenthood proposed a bill to remove the protections for unborn babies and their mothers. Those protections include mandatory inspections, as well as structural requirements like updated HVAC systems, and hallways wide enough for wheelchairs and stretchers to fit.

Speakers at the new bill’s press conference called the protections “burdensome” and “unnecessary.” But former Republican Representative Matt Baker, who wrote the original bill with the protections, says preventing another Gosnell takes more than just wishful thinking.

BAKER: You know, doctors have an oath and a slogan, do no harm. Well, legislation should have that too. This is going to be a recurring horror and problem if these regulations do not remain in effect.

Pennsylvania abortion facilities already fall short of health standards. A recent report from the Pennsylvania Department of Health revealed that half of the state’s abortion facilities failed health inspections in 2023. The list of failures includes improperly sterilizing medical instruments, not certifying abortionist credentials, and wrongly disposing of dead baby body parts.

Detective Wood says a lack of regulation was how Gosnell happened in the first place.

WOOD: It's only a matter of time before something else crazy happens where a woman gets mutilated. And an investigation comes up If they lower these restrictions, they're only going to hurt themselves.

Pennsylvania Family Institute President Michael Geer blames both Democrats and Republicans for turning a blind eye and perpetuating the issue.

GEER: There were failures across the board that started with governors who basically told the administration's hands off on the abortion industry. Of course every unborn child that goes into an abortion clinic is always at risk. And when two people go into an abortion clinic, a woman and the baby, typically only one comes out alive and, unfortunately, in Pennsylvania, we've had both end up dead.

Former Representative Baker is cautiously optimistic that Pennsylvania’s Republican-majority senate will not support the bill. But if it does, the bill will be in the hands of current pro-choice Governor Josh Shapiro, who voted in the House against the original 2011 protections. Governor Shapiro also announced last month that all tax-payer dollars traditionally allocated for pregnancy resource centers and alternatives to abortion would be used to fund grants for pro-abortion organizations instead. Even still, detective Jim Wood doesn’t believe the fight to protect women and babies is over.

WOOD: David and Goliath. That's what I always believe in. We're gonna win. In the end, God always wins in the end. We did what we needed to do for Gosnell. And that's what we do, you take a chop out of the tree until the tree falls down. That's what we're gonna do.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Lillian Hamman.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, February 6th. Thank you for turning to The WORLD and Everything in It to help start your day!

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.

Coming next: Black History Month. It’s this month. It’s a sad fact that today some people present America’s racial history in a way that further divides people along ethnic lines. But WORLD book reviewer Emily Whitten says a classic picture book for families can help.

KING: One day in Alabama, little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and little white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!

EMILY WHITTEN, REVIEWER: That’s Martin Luther King Jr. giving his I Have a Dream speech in August of 1963. Radio and TV mics carried his words across the country, and as many as 250,000 people watched in person as he spoke from the Lincoln Memorial during the march for civil rights.

You’ve probably heard of that speech before, but you may not have heard of our Classic Book of the Month for February. It’s also titled I Have a Dream. Published in 2012, it pairs some of the most powerful language of King’s speech with vivid oil paintings by artist Kadir Nelson.

NELSON: My art is inspired, I think, primarily by great stories. I really like stories of being able to overcome great odds.

Nelson certainly presents King as a hero, but to some extent, he isn’t the main focus. Instead, Nelson often focuses on themes of the speech like freedom and the brotherhood of man. We do see images of King and the crowd, but we also see a joyful choir of children singing “My country tis of thee….”. Another spread shows a close up of a white hand and black hand folded together in solidarity, complemented by these words.

KING: With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

In the 1960s, King stood for integration when many white and some black leaders promoted segregation and did not believe black and white people could thrive together. Neil Shenvi is co-author of Critical Dilemma, one of WORLD’s Books of the Year for 2023. He says that much of King’s speech remains significant in our day.

SHENVI: He appealed to our solidarity as human beings created in God's image. And he dreamed of a world, not where there's this battle between oppressors and oppressed, he dreamed of a world in which we could embrace each other as brothers and lay down our arms across lines of race and ethnicity.

Shenvi says King also draws on the best ideals of American history and law.

KING: This nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” 

SHENVI: In that speech I Have a Dream, Dr. King appealed to our founding documents and said, hey, America, live up to your good, righteous, just ideals. Whereas in contrast, critical race theorists tend to see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as oppressive documents, as ways in which white men impose their dominance on culture.

Of course, King spoke at a particular place and time.

SHENVI: It's not just a string of platitudes and one-liners. He was speaking about real people and real events. So he talks about, at the time he was speaking, people were being thrown in jail, homes and churches were being bombed. And this happened 50 years ago–within living memory.

Our Classic Book of the Month, I Have a Dream by Kadir Nelson is a fantastic first look at King’s speech, but it doesn’t provide much context. So, families may want to use the book as a jumping off point to learn more about the civil rights movement.

This picture book for ages 3-13 includes an audio CD of King’s entire speech–something all ages can appreciate. Christians may note a lot of Bible references, and Nelson doesn’t shy away from these. He offers a striking pastoral interpretation of Isaiah’s “every valley” exalted and “every hill and mountain made low”. And on the book’s final spread, white doves launch into blue sky as King delivers his closing lines:

KING: Free at last, free at last, Thank God almighty, we are free at last!

That’s a powerful chorus, though it’s worth noting that man’s longing for freedom can only be ultimately fulfilled by Christ himself. Our sin and need for salvation is far too great for any human political solution. As for King’s own Christian faith, he certainly showed extraordinary courage and love for his enemies worth celebrating; but he also struggled with serious failings including adultery.

Still, King’s I Have a Dream speech remains one of the greatest speeches of American history. Shenvi says he often highlights King and other civil rights leaders for the diverse students of his homeschool co-op class.

SHENVI: I want them to understand that racism is wrong and that race today is still a salient social fact. But I don't want them to internalize that because they just play with their friends. And you see it in a playground, these little kids running around, red hair, blonde hair, black hair, dark skin, light skin. They couldn't care less. It's beautiful. I think it's what King was dreaming for and aren't we grateful to have that at least in part?

I’m Emily Whitten.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, February 6th. 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. Up next: AI and the brain. WORLD Opinions Commentator Brad Littlejohn says Elon Musk’s latest start-up may solve a few medical problems. But it may create some others.

BRAD LITTLEJOHN: Last week, Elon Musk’s Neuralink announced it had succeeded in implanting the first-ever computer chip in a live human brain. The breakthrough represents the latest reminder that yesterday’s science fiction is rapidly becoming reality, with ethical implications we have barely begun to grasp.

Before jumping to dark conclusions, though, we should ask: Are Neuralink’s ambitions really that sinister? After all, Musk has insisted that the near-term goal for the project is medical—to enable paralyzed patients or those suffering from muscular degeneration once again to interact with their environment.

In themselves, such aspirations are not wrong. But they are not medicine in the traditional sense, whose task, ideally, is to heal the human body—enabling it to return to its proper functioning. In some cases, where medicine cannot do so, it devises work-arounds that can simulate the lost functions, such as a prosthetic leg. Often, what begins as a supplement for a small subset of the population is then generalized for all. Consider the trajectory of in vitro fertilization or IVF. It began as a “treatment” for infertility but is now being employed by those who’d just rather not have their own babies or who would like to genetically enhance them.

In fact, Musk has been open about the fact that Neuralink harbors broader ambitions. Why shouldn’t we use implanted brain chips to allow a more seamless interaction between men and machines? Neuralink’s goal is to offer a product called Telepathy, which “enables control of your phone or computer, and through them almost any device, just by thinking.” The connection is also meant to be a two-way street. Not only will the chips feed my thoughts to a computer, but they will be able to feed the computer directly into my thoughts. Who doesn’t want to read their Facebook feed without even picking up their phone?

Well, presumably a lot of people. We are already grappling with the debilitating effects that the smartphone revolution has had on mental health. Where a generation ago I had to get up, walk to my desktop, and wait for dial-up internet to connect between browsing pages or composing a message, now I just have to pull my phone out of my pocket. There is little time for judgment to intervene before impulse and action. It is simply too easy to consume pornographic imagery or tweet an angry rant.

The world Musk imagines is not one that empowers thought, but one that abolishes it. Although too much friction would keep my car from driving at all, a world without friction would be one in which neither brakes nor steering wheels had any effect. Just so, effortless thinking would not be human thought at all, and effortless action would no longer be human action. Indeed, this is precisely Musk’s dream. He declared,“The long-term aspiration with Neuralink would be to achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence.”

Musk promises us a world without friction. But in such a world, will the word “I” still have meaning? The abolition of the stubborn barrier between mind and world may be the abolition of man.

I’m Brad Littlejohn.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: Washington Wednesday. The bipartisan tax bill the House passed. We’ll talk costs and benefits with an expert. And, tensions between Jews and Palestinians flare in the West Bank. 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.

Jesus said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.” —Matthew 13:31-33

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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