The World and Everything in It - January 20, 2022
The threat posed by North Korea’s latest missile launches; Open Doors USA releases this year’s World Watch List; and a church in Nebraska loves their neighbors by helping them learn English. Plus: commentary from Cal Thomas, and the Thursday morning news.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
North Korea’s new missiles are faster, and more dangerous.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Also the fifty spots around the world where it’s most costly to be a Christian. Today, Open Doors, USA releases this year’s list.
Plus teaching English as a Second Language.
And commentator Cal Thomas on failing to see what’s in plain sight.
REICHARD: It’s Thursday, January 20th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. Good morning!
REICHARD: Time now for the news with Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR:
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: North Korea’s growing arsenal.
Plus, the threat of anti-Semitism.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Thursday the 20th of January, 2022.
Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up: North Korea.
Since the beginning of this month, North Korea has launched several hypersonic missiles. That’s the term for missiles that go at least five times the speed of sound. And these missiles aren’t just able to blow past the sound barrier—they’re also able to blow past many missile defense systems.
BROWN: North Korea also launched one into the waters of the east coast of the Korean Peninsula back in September. These military advances have North Korea’s neighbors worried.
But what do they mean for the United States? WORLD’s Josh Schumacher reports.
JOSH SCHUMACHER, REPORTER: North Korea’s new missiles are causing shockwaves—largely because of the way they’re being described.
KLINGNER: North Korea tested this recent one—a “hypersonic” missile, which has people kind of a-twitter because the of the word “hypersonic.”
That’s Bruce Klingner, a former U.S. intelligence officer who’s now a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
KLINGNER: But as experts have pointed out, virtually any missile going more than 300 kilometers becomes “hypersonic,” or flying at five times or more than the speed of sound.
Klingner isn’t concerned so much about the missile’s speed. It’s the weapon’s maneuverability that’s caught his attention.
KLINGNER: It can you know, even though it's a ballistic missile, in a way it can act like a cruise missile, which flies lower to the earth and can do some pull up or lateral movements so that it, it's harder first to detect and also harder to intercept.
Klingner says this missile test follows the ongoing trajectory of North Korea’s missile development over the past several years. The totalitarian country already possesses missiles that can transport a nuclear weapon to the continental United States. But Pyongyang has focused recent tests on improving its short- and medium-range missile arsenal—the ones that can reach South Korea and Japan.
KLINGNER: All of these recent improvements are to either augment the number of missiles that could be fired against our allies or they'll eventually replace some of the existing systems with more efficient, more capable, harder-to-detect missiles.
And North Korea is making significant progress toward those goals. In just the past few years, its military has developed numerous new weapons systems.
KLINGNER: In 2019, it was five new weapons systems, short medium range, revealed during those tests. Last year, five new weapon systems revealed through these tests.
But this warhead isn’t just another missile test. It’s an attempt to get the world’s attention.
David Maxwell is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He says North Korea’s latest moves are part of a larger strategy of what he calls “blackmail diplomacy.”
MAXWELL: For the last seven decades, they've really executed a pretty simple pattern, where they will, will raise tensions, they will create a threat, they will conduct a provocation missile test because they believe that South Korea and the United States do not want conflict…
And in order to avoid conflict and relieve tensions, Kim Jong Un believes the United States and South Korea will make concessions. That strategy has usually worked.
MAXWELL: And over the last seven decades, they've received many concessions.
What does Kim Jong Un want this time? Sanctions relief.
For a long time, the North Korean people have depended on the black market to get things they couldn’t get in state-sanctioned stores. These black markets depend on goods smuggled across the border with China. But David Maxwell says the Kim regime has started to view those markets as a threat.
MAXWELL: And so with the outbreak of COVID, Kim Jong Un is taking the opportunity to crack down on those markets. And, you know, he has cut the trade and closed the border with China. They have cracked down on the use of foreign currency, put in place severe movement restrictions, again, ostensibly to prevent COVID.
And that’s left the North Korean people with nowhere else to turn for basic necessities like food and medicine.
MAXWELL: What is problematic now and dangerous is that there is no relief valve, there is no safety valve, that's going to help the regime or the Korean people in the North, like there was in the 1990s. Because of sanctions, you know, the much more restrictive sanctions are in place now. It prevents the regime from being bailed out by South Korea.
Maxwell says North Korea’s system isn’t built to keep the people alive and well. It’s designed to keep the regime alive and well. But, if the people are pushed too far, that could threaten the regime.
MAXWELL: We really have to understand that if there is a breakdown in society. It could really cause a breakdown of the regime. And that could cause severe internal instability on a scale we have never seen.
But Maxwell believes the Biden administration needs to stand firm.
MAXWELL: Our diplomacy must rest on a strong foundation of deterrence, of defensive capabilities while we continue to offer the ability to negotiate, and to allow Kim Jong Un to survive through diplomacy, survive through economic reform, and survive by also ending his human rights abuses as well.
The United States has imposed sanctions on six leading figures in North Korea following the missile launches, and also on the Russian company that Washington accuses of supplying the parts for the missiles. South Korea and Japan have also both condemned the launches.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: dangerous places for Christians.
Across the globe, well over 300 million Christians live in countries and regions where they suffer religious persecution.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: One out of every eight believers worldwide live in a place where they cannot safely declare and practice their faith in public.
Each year, Open Doors USA publishes its World Watch List—shining a light on the 50 places around the world where it costs the most to be a Christian.
Open Doors is publishing its 2022 Watch List today.
REICHARD: And joining us now to discuss it is David Curry. He is the president of Open Doors USA. He frequently briefs lawmakers on religious liberty concerns around the world and has testified before Congress about those concerns. David, good morning!
DAVID CURRY, GUEST: Thank you for having me on this show. I appreciate it.
REICHARD: David, give us just a very brief summary of how you compile this list. What goes into putting it together?
CURRY: Well, we have researchers around the world in all of these countries. And then we have networks of churches and groups that helped us collect this data. So it's the largest grassroots survey on the religious freedom of Christians—probably any religious minority group in the world today. That's why it's trusted by the White House and State Department in all the different administrations. And it really tells the story, especially this year, of this seismic shift towards violence against Christians, discrimination, and the many issues that are happening around the world, some of which we know about some of which we don't.
REICHARD: Alright, well let’s talk specifics here a little bit with regard to the 2022 Watch List. I will clarify for our listeners that a high score on this list is not a good thing. You do not want a high score here.
And the country that has the highest overall score on this year’s list is Afghanistan. Why does Afghanistan top this list?
CURRY: Well, that's a seismic change. North Korea has been number one for almost two decades. North Korea hasn’t gotten better - Afghanistan has gotten worse. TheTaliban has obviously taken over, as we all know, in August. Took over, seized control of the government. It already for many years controlled large parts of the country, because it's a very tribal, rural country and the Taliban had control in those areas. As such, many people fled to Kabul and the cities because it was controlled by a government that was relative to the Taliban, dependable. Now the Taliban controls those areas as well. What it means is that Christians are tracked. They are punished. They can be killed. It means that schools are shut down. Certainly they're not going to allow women, young girls to go to get an education because they have a medieval interpretation of Islam. They don't represent all of Islam, and we shouldn't overstate it. But they themselves—the Taliban and their followers—are extremist and they want to kill Christians. Some Christians have left. We know that some exist. We don't give a target of how many Christians there are because the Taliban wants to track them. But there is no freedom of religion for Christians in Afghanistan today.
REICHARD: In last year’s list you focused a lot on China and a long list of concerns there. Has anything changed in China for better or for worse over the past year?
CURRY: China's number 17 on our list this year. It continues to move up the list. But that actually sort of belies the major issue there. It is the number one model of centralized control being used against religious minorities. They have all of this technology—facial recognition, they monitor the internet, they control the internet, they use artificial intelligence to watch whether you're attending church or a mosque. And then they punish you by diminishing your social score so that if you're too observant to Christian faith, you can't fly, you can't travel, you can lose your job, your kids aren't going to be able to go to the school of their choice. So China has this roadmap. And I call it a high tech noose. And it continues to get tighter and tighter and tighter. So for example, we estimate that 80 percent of the churches there that were meeting in commercial buildings now are out. They fractured into small groups, because they're trying to shut down these churches. Then they go online, but they're monitored online. And those groups are shut down if they reach more than a few dozen. So China continues to tighten the noose around Christians. They're now editing. Just recently passed new laws that allow them to edit the Bible if it doesn't conform with the state ideology and methodologies. So you are going to have 100 million Christians in China—that's more than there are members of the Chinese Party—who are reading Bibles shortly that have been excised due to whatever the Chinese Communist Party thinks. You have the Three Self Church, which is the national church that already has their sermons as censored. So this is a major issue. And unfortunately, other countries are following suit. They would love to have that sort of centralized control to monitor what's going on with Christians. And we have to challenge that and have to fight that.
REICHARD: David, which country saw the biggest improvement and which country saw the biggest decline?
CURRY: Well, we've seen one jump in a negative sense is Cuba, which is back on the list. The government is trying to neuter the church there. There's a lot of Christians in Cuba. It's number 37 on our list. That would be of interest to people because we have seen some freedoms there in Cuba over the last few years. But that is changing. We have some hope in Uzbekistan and Vietnam. These are areas which have been much tougher in the past but seem to show some improvement. We know the Egyptian government even though Egypt is quite high on the list at number 20, the government itself would like to see an improvement of treatment of Christians and they're making the right moves. The issue there revolves around extremist and cultural differences, where the culture itself has ingrained extremism in it. There's a lot going on in the list. The challenge is that it's really a two front war on the expression of faith. It's tribal extremism—whether it be Hindu extremism in India, or Islamic extremism in Somalia and Afghanistan, Eritrea, these areas. And then you have this other group, which is the governments that are centralizing control and using it against Christians—choking their freedoms. That's the challenge. It’s two different kinds of things happening on the list.
REICHARD: Well, as you said this list certainly gives us all something to pray over. And for western Christians to wake up to all of this. David Curry, president of Open Doors USA, thanks so much for joining us.
CURRY: Thank you
MARY REICHARD, HOST: When you think of a $2 million house, what do you picture?
You’re probably imagining a rundown, uninhabitable 2,100 sq. ft. home with one bathroom, boarded-up windows, peeling paint and an unstable foundation, right?
Well, 2 million was the approximate sale price of a home that fits that exact description. It’s further evidence of just how overheated this real estate market is—especially in the San Francisco Bay area.
The house in question is a Victorian style home built in the year 1900 in the exclusive Noe Valley neighborhood, where land is hard to come by. So the soil it stands on is worth a lot more than the house itself.
It sold at several hundred thousand dollars more than other comparable fixer-uppers in the area as a result of a complex conservatorship sale. A judge approved the sale of the house on behalf of its elderly owner.
On the social media page Zillow Gone Wild, one commenter joked: “It actually has a parking space. No wonder it sold for almost 2 million!”
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Thursday, January 20th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: English as a second language.
Many churches offer language-learning opportunities as a ministry outreach. Often it’s classes—held weekly.
The U.S. Department of State designated Lincoln, Nebraska, as a refugee-friendly city in the 1970s. Today, Lincoln is home to more than 30,000 immigrants and refugees from approximately 150 different countries.
BROWN: WORLD Senior Correspondent Kim Henderson visited a congregation there that’s helping meet the language needs of one particular group—their Hispanic neighbors. Here’s her story.
KIM HENDERSON, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: It’s Thursday night in downtown Lincoln. A few cars drop students in a parking lot on South 12th Street.
Classes have started inside the large brick building belonging to Trinity Lutheran Church.
AUDIO: [START OF CLASS]
Trinity is the oldest Lutheran Church in Lincoln. The neighborhood looks different than it did when members first gathered in 1881. Lots of apartment buildings right around the church property. These days, the neighborhood sounds different, too.
AUDIO: [MAN SPEAKING SPANISH]
Listen closely, and you’ll hear lots of Spanish floating around. Lots of holas and rolled Rs.
Bethany Mrosko is director of Christian outreach at Trinity.
BETHANY: There's a Spanish grocery store and little bakery down the street. So that's part of our community and part of our neighborhood. And we want to be able to reach out to those people . . .
Structured language classes help Trinity’s neighbors to get acclimated to the United States. Better. Faster.
BETHANY: . . . being able to engage more in society and have more community here. And then feel comfortable in a church building here as well.
Tonight, Irma Gallegos and her daughter, Vianey Soenksen, are teaching. There’s a white board up front—tablets of lined manuscript paper—a cup full of sharpened No. 2 pencils.
The students sit socially distanced, two to a table. They’re practicing introductions.
AUDIO: [CLASS INSTRUCTION]
Gallegos and her family came from Spain, where they served as missionaries. So both instructors know what it’s like to immigrate to America. They know what’s priority.
IRMA: Whatever they do in their jobs, English will help a lot. It will be a good asset for them to have if they speak the language.
But Soenksen says some students already have a grasp of English grammar and spelling.
VIANEY: We have a lady here that her and her husband have like a PhD in Venezuela. So yeah, like theology, I believe. She wanted to work more on her English, because she wanted to have a better pronunciation.
Students smile during class. The instructors do, too. Both women are volunteers, but they seem fully invested.
IRMA: I say, like, if you guys need a translation, if you're doing paperwork and you don't know what to do, call me. I will help you even through the phone.
And students do call Gallegos when they need help. But they don’t want to stay dependent on translators.
AUDIO: [TEACHER AND STUDENT]
Dallas Kufferness is another ESL instructor at Trinity. He’s retired after a long career in Lutheran schools. He missed teaching.
DALLAS: It's a gift the Lord has given me, and so I need to use it, even though I'm 70 years old. It's like it's something I still could do.
Kufferness says starting out, he had one concern. But not now.
DALLAS: You can help teach ESL and you don't have to speak Spanish. They're here to learn English. And so they do teach me Spanish. I do learn a new word in every class: Casa. Clima...
He had another surprise, too. The origins of his students.
DALLAS: Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia. Brazil, Panama. Yeah. What I originally thought when I was going to teach ESL . . . I thought, well, these are all going to be from Mexico. They're not -- Cuba even.
Kufferness loves having new Hispanic friends.
DALLAS: I don't know what my perceptions were before, but they're far different now than they were before . . .
Class time is spent on vocabulary. Learning weather words. Body parts like “foot.” They play Bingo to work on numbers.
But the last 10 minutes of class, all the ESL groups meet together in the church sanctuary. There’s a bilingual devotion.
And they’re working on learning Amazing Grace and the Lord’s Prayer in English. Many already know them in Spanish.
IRMA: We want to make sure that they understand that we love them, because God loves us. And I want to make them feel that they're welcome here as a regular person, not because they don't speak the language . . .
Pam Heiden is a member of Trinity, and she’s observing these ESL classes for the first time. She’s considering what role she might have to play in this ministry. And she’s leaving tonight with a whole new perspective.
PAM: What if the roles were reversed? What if I were in their country, and I was trying to learn their language? And so that's kind of eye opening to me, and really puts things in perspective for me.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kim Henderson in Lincoln, Nebraska.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, January 20th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Here’s commentator Cal Thomas on the overall spirit of unease gripping the world.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: When is a terrorist not a terrorist?
Last Saturday, Malik Faisal Akram entered a Texas synagogue and took four hostages, including the rabbi. He demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist sentenced to 86 years in prison for attempting to murder members of the U.S. military in Afghanistan.
Initially, an FBI spokesman claimed Akram’s motive was “not specifically related to the Jewish community.” Really? Then why didn’t he visit a Baptist church?
After an outcry from Jewish and non-Jewish sources, the FBI admitted the obvious: it was an act of terrorism. Fortunately Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and three other hostages escaped unharmed.
Kenneth Marcus is founder and chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. He said the incident goes far deeper than what happened in Texas. Marcus said it was “obviously a matter of antisemitism” and “a failure of the FBI to understand this is something of a pattern with law enforcement in the United States and frankly in Europe.” Marcus does not believe the initial comment by FBI Special Agent Matt DeSarno denying a connection between the incident and the Jewish community was “a mere slip-up.” Instead, he said, “It is symptomatic of a widespread failure with law enforcement to understand the problems of antisemitism and anti-Zionism.”
Sarah Stern is president of The Endowment for Middle East Truth. She told me that in many pockets of the Muslim population, the old prejudices and conspiracy theories of the past still linger. That’s despite the fact that Israel has forged new alliances with several major Sunni Arab nations. And those prejudices extend to Muslim groups in the United States. Stern told me groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations have also called for Aafia Siddiqui’s release.
The Texas synagogue attacker was a British citizen. He entered the United States late last month and allegedly bought a gun off the street. Why didn’t immigration officials flag him? Britain apparently knows something because authorities there quickly arrested two teenagers they believe are connected to Akram.
This incident should not be seen as separate from the general lawlessness sweeping the country. Increasing numbers of the public are fearful about their safety. Many churches now feel the need to post security guards during service.
All of this is a reflection of the decadence that grips our society. If people can’t feel safe in their houses of worship, or while walking down a street, then we have a problem that is deeper than terrorism and lawlessness. It’s a problem of the spirit that even government can’t reach or control.
I’m Cal Thomas.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Tomorrow: John Stonestreet joins us for Culture Friday.
And, Star Wars! We’ll review the latest installment from a galaxy far, far away.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Mryna Brown.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
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