The World and Everything in It - July 21, 2021
On Washington Wednesday, what could be next for the DACA program; on World Tour, international news; and the growing options for space tourism. Plus: commentary from Janie B. Cheaney, and the Wednesday morning news.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
A federal judge declares a major immigration policy unconstitutional. We’ll talk about the ramifications.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.
Also today World Tour.
Plus a new chapter in space travel.
And the “body positivity” movement.
REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, July 21st. 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: Time now for the news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: White House, Capitol Hill staffers test positive for COVID-19 » Staffers at the White House and on Capitol Hill have tested positive for COVID-19.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters...
PSAKI: A fully vaccinated White House official tested positive for COVID-19 off campus. In accordance with our rigorous COVID-19 protocols, the official remains off campus as they wait for a confirmatory PCR test.
She said officials have conducted contact tracing interviews and have “determined no close contacts among White House principles or staff.
Also on Tuesday, a top spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tested positive. That after coming in contact with Democratic state lawmakers who fled Texas last week to stymie new election legislation.
Five of those Texas lawmakers tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.
CDC: Delta variant now 83% of U.S. COVID-19 cases » Meantime, the CDC continues to sound alarms about the delta variant.
CDC Director Dr. Rochele Walensky said Wednesday that the strain is spreading rapidly.
WALENSKY: The delta variant now represents 83 percent of sequenced cases. This is a dramatic increase, up from 50 percent the week of July 3rd.
The variant is also fueling an increase of so-called breakthrough infections—fully vaccinated people testing positive. But those who are vaccinated are still far less likely to contract COVID-19 and if they do, it’s likely to be less severe. The CDC stresses that almost all of those now hospitalized are unvaccinated.
New cases have tripled since late June, and hospitalizations have almost doubled.
The good news is that the number of deaths in the United States from COVID-19 has not increased substantially—up about 9 percent from early July.
Canada to reopen U.S. border to vaccinated Americans » Canada announced this week that it will once again allow vaccinated Americans to travel into the country early next month. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that vaccinated U.S. citizens can once again travel into the country, effective Aug. 9th. And it will allow travel from the rest of the world on Sept. 7th.
But the United States has not yet indicated any plan to change current restrictions at the land border. Canadians are able to fly into the United States with a negative COVID-19 test.
The White House says it will follow the guidance of medical experts in determining when to reopen the northern border.
Canada now leads G20 countries in vaccination rates. About 80 percent of eligible Canadians are vaccinated with their first dose and over 50 percent are fully vaccinated.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Amazon founder rockets into space » AUDIO: [Sound of Blue Origin launch]
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos blasted into space Tuesday on his rocket company’s first flight.
He was the second billionaire in a span of nine days to travel into space. Richard Branson crested the Earth’s atmosphere aboard his Virgin Galactic spacecraft last week.
Joining Bezos was a small, hand-picked group: his brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands, and an 82-year-old aviation pioneer from Texas.
His capsule touched down on the desert floor in remote West Texas Tuesday after the 10-minute flight.
BEZOS: What we’re doing is the first step of something big.
His upstart space tourism company plans to take many more people into space.
He called Tuesday's flight the “best day ever!”
Biden welcomes Super Bowl champs at White House » President Biden hosted the Super Bowl champions at the White House on Tuesday.
The president honored Tom Brady and the rest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a ceremony on the South Lawn.
BIDEN: In the middle of a long, dark winter, every Sunday people were able to sit down and watch you play. You created memories that helped folks make it through and believe that we could get back to normal again.
He added—quote—“This Buccaneer team is a testament to the fact that it’s never too late to come together and achieve extraordinary things.”
The Bucs defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-to-9 in Super Bowl 55.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: what’s next for dreamers.
Plus, the delusion of body positivity.
This is The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s Tuesday, the 21st of July, 2021.
Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up, a renewed push to pass immigration legislation in Congress.
A federal judge last week ruled that a presidential executive order known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen kept the policy in place for existing recipients, but barred the government from accepting new applicants.
EICHER: It’s known by its acronym—DACA.
It shields from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.
Then-President Obama issued the DACA executive order in 2012 after becoming frustrated with Congress because it wouldn’t pass a bill that would do essentially the same thing.
Legal battles over DACA have taken the better part of a decade. Judge Hanen’s ruling last week striking it down stems from a lawsuit by Texas and eight other states. They argued Obama lacked authority to create DACA because that’s the job of Congress.
Interestingly, President Obama once made that exact argument.
OBAMA: The problem is, is that I’m the president of the United States. I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to enforce, execute that are passed, and Congress right now has not changed what I consider to be a broken immigration system.
Then he changed his mind and issued the order.
REICHARD: Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a Trump administration effort to end the program, ruling that the administration hadn’t ended it in the right way. So that kept the program alive once more.
But in light of last Friday’s ruling, many are now calling on Democrats and Congress to try again to pass legislation to make it constitutionally legitimate.
Here now to help us understand what’s happening in Washington and what’s next is Marc Clauson. He is a professor of History and Law at Cedarville University. Professor, good morning!
MARC CLAUSON, GUEST: Good morning.
REICHARD: First of all, help us understand this program a little bit better. Who has qualified for DACA protection and who has not?
CLAUSON: Whoever is qualified was qualified under the previous regulation that was still being upheld, until the decision made last week, late last week. So anyone who's under a certain age is considered a minor. And they would be -- if they came into the country illegally, they would be allowed to have two year renewable visas to stay in the country. And that could be indefinite for each of those minors.
REICHARD: Remind us of what happened and didn’t happen at the Supreme Court last year. Obviously, in light of last week’s decision, the high court did not affirm the legality of the program or the manner in which it was created, correct?
CLAUSON: Yeah, if I could go back, it's really complicated and kind of messy. In 2012, Obama begins the process of issuing the regulations that we call DACA today. In 2017, President Trump begins the process of eliminating those regulations. In 2019, the Supreme Court affirmed a circuit court, Fifth Circuit Court ruling that struck down the DAPA program—that's D-A-P-A, which is similar to DACA but a different program. Didn't say anything about DACA. In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration had not used the Administrative Procedures Act correctly in rescinding that order of Obama's and so it was still in place. And then, of course last week, the District Court, which is the lowest court, the trial court level, ruled in Texas, ruled that the program was itself illegal because the president didn't have the power, the executive power to do that. That belonged to Congress. And because he didn't use the Administrative Procedures Act correctly. So that's where we stand today with all this mess, right?
REICHARD: Thanks for that history of DACA. That’s really helpful. Well, many Republicans support the program in principle, but want it legislated, in the law. They say former President Obama unconstitutionally created the program. And as we said, Obama himself made that argument before he did it. So how has the DACA program created by the executive branch managed to survive court challenges for as long as it has?
CLAUSON: Mainly procedural. It's not been substantive. The court, actually, when it struck down President Trump's attempt to rescind DACA, it explicitly said that it was not ruling on the actual merit of that case and saying that it was lawful. They were only saying that you got to try it again, find a way to do it right this time, if you want to do it. So nobody had ruled on the actual merit, the actual constitutionality of the DACA program until now. And now it's finally come to fruition because of the sort of the Byzantine, you know, processes of the federal court system. It's kind of gotten up and down, in and out and messy in the process. That's mainly why we haven't seen it until now.
REICHARD: Take us back to the failed Dream Act legislation. What were the big points of disagreement there and why was Congress unable to come together on a law?
CLAUSON: Well, that's a good question. Immigration policy has been an area where Congress has not been able to come to agreement in almost 40 years now. And, really, sort of beyond that even. It's considered the third rail, one of the third rails of politics. You don't touch this. The Republicans don't want to mess with allowing too many people into the country, too many people who otherwise would be illegal. And the Democrats seem to be more inclined toward letting more people in and both have their constituencies and their constituents are telling them don't give in. And so neither side is willing to give in on this because it's a major issue in their campaigning, and in their governance, from president to president, from administration to administration. So it's gotten to be one of those issues that you can't bother with it because you can't get anywhere with it.
REICHARD: Well, there is this renewed push now to enshrine the program in law. Democrats have a slim majority in both chambers of Congress, but they don’t have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. So how do you see this new legislative push playing out?
CLAUSON: If the filibuster is not eliminated—and I don't think it will be—it's still not going to go anywhere. It'll continue to be pushed down the road into the next administration, so that the Senate and the House would hope that would happen, they really just don't want to deal with it. And I think that unless the filibuster is eliminated—and even if it is eliminated—I'm not sure you can get the votes necessary to actually pass an act to fulfill this desire of the dreamers or to fulfill the desires of the other side either, completely. So again, I go back to the what I said before, there's just nobody willing to give on either side on this, on immigration policy in general, and this issue specifically. And it's going to continue until something somewhere down the road is going to become a critical point, a critical mass point or crisis.
REICHARD: It seems like we’re already in a crisis. I mean I follow the courts myself. And we have a million cases backlogged in the immigration courts. How much more crisis do we need than what’s going on at the border now plus the court system backlog?
CLAUSON: You could argue we have a crisis now. And I think that all the members of the House and Senate, if they were asked privately, would agree that there's something of a crisis. But they're not going to publicly say it's a crisis, not all of them anyway. The Republicans are going to say it's a crisis. The Democrats are refusing to say it's a crisis, for the most part, some will. And until you get all sides agreeing that this is a crisis, and you need to do something about it, is just not -- politically, it's not feasible to happen. And then, of course, you got the courts in the background of all this. What kinds of policies do you legislate? What kinds of policies can you put into law by executive order or by administrative act of the agencies? Will the courts let you do that? What extent will they let you do that? That's always lurking in the background. So that's a problem, too, that everybody knows.
REICHARD: Some Democrats want to open up a doorway to citizenship in budget legislation they want to approve this year. If they could push that through using the budget reconciliation process, they could do it without a single Republican vote. But can they do that?
CLAUSON: I don't think it's politically feasible for them to do it. Because I don't think that all Democrats would vote for that. Now, the real problem is in a budget bill, you've got all sorts of things. Would they sort of give in to get what they want and let it go? I think it's too big an issue for this—especially for the Democrats who are along the border states. Even Democrats realize there's a problem there. So I don't think it's possible for them to get it through, even with a budget reconciliation.
REICHARD: Professor Marc Clauson with Cedarville University has been our guest. Professor, thanks so much!
CLAUSON: Well, thank you. Glad to be here.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with our reporter in Africa, Onize Ohikere.
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: South Africa cleans up after riots—We start today here in Africa.
AUDIO: [Sounds of sweeping, voices]
South Africans began cleaning up on Saturday from the riots and looting that destroyed shopping centers and left more than 200 people dead.
The destruction made an already bad economic situation worse.
AUDIO: We got no shop now. Where are we going to buy? How am I going to buy bread for 25 rand where I was buying it for about 13 rand? It’s bad for us. It’s bad.
With retail stores destroyed in the hardest hit areas, residents are having a hard time finding places to buy food. The government, aid agencies, and churches have stepped in to deliver emergency supplies.
Police and army troops are escorting aid convoys and supermarket delivery vehicles into the area.
President Cyril Ramaphosa visited cleanup sites in Soweto on Saturday. He vowed to rebuild and bring those responsible to justice.
AUDIO: Using the pretext of a political grievance, those behind these acts have sought to provoke a popular insurrection amongst our people.
Officials have arrested more than 2,500 people. But all but one of the suspected masterminds are still at large.
Power struggle in Haiti—Next we go to the Caribbean.
Haiti is getting a new prime minister, two weeks after the assassination of its president.
AUDIO: [Man speaking French]
Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph took control of the government after assassins killed President Jovenel Moise on July 7th. But on Monday he agreed to step aside in favor of the man Moise tapped as the new prime minister just a few days before his death.
Ariel Henry will form a temporary government with the goal of holding elections as soon as possible.
AUDIO: [Man speaking Spanish]
Meanwhile, police in Colombia say a former Haitian official ordered the hit on Moise. Investigators have identified more than 20 people who were involved in the assassination. Most of them are former Colombian soldiers.
But Colombia says they were duped into believing they were only to arrest the president. Haitian police are still searching for the former officials at the center of the plot.
England celebrates “Freedom Day”—And finally, we end today in Europe, where Great Britain celebrated “Freedom Day” on Monday.
AUDIO: [Sound of countdown, cheering, music]
Nightclubs reopened at the stroke of midnight for the first time since March 2020. And sports stadiums, cinemas, and theatres can now run at full capacity.
Despite increasing COVID case numbers, the government lifted legal mandates on social distancing, wearing masks, and working from home. But it urged Brittons to take personal responsibility for their health.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended the decision
JOHNSON: If we don't open up now, then we face a risk of even tougher conditions in the colder months, when the virus has a natural advantage and we lose that fire break of the school holidays. There comes a point after so many have been vaccinated, when further restrictions no longer prevent hospitalizations and deaths but simply delay the inevitable. So we have to ask ourselves the question, if not now, when?
Daily infections have climbed to more than 50,000 per day. And the Delta variant has taken hold in many areas.
But Johnson says thanks to a rapid vaccination program, the healthcare system should be able to manage new cases.
Other European countries are taking the opposite approach. Greece, the Netherlands, and Spain have reimposed restrictions to battle new outbreaks. And in France, lawmakers are expected to approve stricter vaccine mandates. Proof of vaccination or a recent negative test could soon be required to enter public venues like restaurants, bars, shopping centers, and movie theaters.
That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.
NICK EICHER, HOST: People in Oregon can now do something they’ve not been permitted to do for a very long time.
Pump their own gas.
The state’s fire marshal now temporarily permits Oregonians to fill up all by themselves without any help!
State law typically doesn’t allow self-service pumps in the state’s western, more-populated counties.
But with the triple-digit temperatures out west, officials are giving a two-day reprieve so gas-station attendants don’t have to stand outside all day wilting in the heat.
Now there is one other state that also bans self-service pumps. New Jersey says it just isn’t safe to pump your own gas.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, July 21st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
AUDIO FROM LIFT OFF [COUNTDOWN]
As you heard just a moment ago, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and three other passengers blasted off from a launch pad near Van Horn, Texas, this morning.
AUDIO FROM LIFT OFF [SOUND OF ROCKET TAKING OFF]
The autonomous space flight lasted just over 10-minutes—reaching 66 miles above sea level.
The booster that got them off the ground is called the New Shepherd—it’s reusable—and it was the first to return to earth. A few minutes later, the RSS First Step capsule took over.
EICHER: With two successful private missions to space in recent weeks, the concept of “Space Tourism” is fast becoming a reality, though not everyone is ready to sign-up, as WORLD interns Caleb Bailey and Josh Schumacher found out when they conducted a straw poll in Asheville, North Carolina.
AUDIO: [“WOULD YOU GO TO SPACE IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE?”]
Well, more than 60 percent of those we polled in our very unscientific survey said “No. They wouldn’t go to space if they could.”
REICHARD: But both Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson say there’s already a long waiting list of those who would. So what might that mean for the rest of us?
WORLD’s Paul Butler reports.
PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Billionaire Richard Branson had 17 years to think about what he’d say after Virgin Galactic’s first successful crewed space flight. But at his July 11th press conference, he struggled for words.
BRANSON: You know, it’s just...look out of the window...and just...ah...it’s just...I...I...I’m never going to be able to do it justice. It’s indescribably beautiful and, ah, um, yeah, anyway...
Nine days later, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos seemed a bit better prepared:
BEZOS: The most profound piece of it for me was looking out at the earth and looking at the earth’s atmosphere. Everybody that’s been up into space, they say that it changes them.
For nearly 20 years, a handful of private companies have vied for the top spot in the civilian space race. Space X was an early leader with its commercial, communication, and government contracts.
But Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic had much smaller goals. This month, they both took a giant leap toward their vision of accessible space travel.
FAULKNER: The emphasis of these two is pleasure craft.
Danny Faulkner is astronomer for Answers in Genesis.
FAULKNER: When you go on vacation, you can go to the Grand Canyon, go to Hawaii, go on a cruise, or you can go into space.
That’s right. They want to make a run at making space tourism a reality.
SOUND: PROMOTIONAL VIDEO
The two companies have very different approaches.
Virgin Galactic uses a rocket plane strapped to the underbelly of a large aircraft—the VMS Eve. It takes off from a long airstrip. Once the two vehicles reach about 45,000 feet, they separate, and pilots in the smaller spacecraft burn the engine for 60 seconds. The ship reaches an altitude of about 50 miles...NASA’s definition of space.
Last Sunday, Branson’s crew included two pilots, and three additional aeronautic specialists. The crew experienced weightlessness for about five minutes. Before floating about the cabin, Richard Branson addressed the children of the world:
BRANSON: To all you kids down there. I was once a child with a dream, looking up to the stars. Now I’m an adult in a spaceship with lots of other wonderful adults looking down to our beautiful, beautiful earth. To the next generation of dreamers, if we can do this, just imagine what you can do!
The VSS Unity re-enters earth's atmosphere at a much lower slower speed than most spacecraft, so it doesn’t require much heat shielding. Like NASA’s space shuttle, the craft glides to its landing site.
Blue Origin uses a more traditional space flight process to launch its passengers. Their current booster vehicle is named after astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American in space.
AUDIO FROM BLUE ORIGIN LAUNCH FEED OR PROMOTIONAL VIDEO
The short rocket burns liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for about two minutes. A fully autonomous capsule sits atop the rocket. There are no pilots aboard. No interior controls.
During its maiden voyage with human passengers it crossed the Karman line—the international definition of space—62 miles above the earth’s surface. It reached its apogee, or high point, four miles later.
SOUND: PASSENGERS HAVING FUN
Once there, Jeff Bezos and his three fellow travelers threw Skittles candies across the cabin into each other’s mouths. They floated ping pong balls, and performed summersaults before buckling back in for re-entry.
SOUND: REENTRY COVERAGE
Once the First Step capsule is within 10,000 feet of the ground, parachutes emerge, and slow its descent to 15 miles an hour. When it’s just a few feet from the ground, a strong blast of air cushions the landing.
FAULKNER: We’ve been putting people into space for 60 years…
Once again, astronomer Danny Faulkner.
FAULKNER: ...and for much of that time, everybody assumed it was a government program—you just couldn’t do that privately, but history has shown that private initiative always comes into play in these sorts of things.
In the midst of all the positive press, some have been critical of this “Billionaire Space race.” Private funding has made travel to the edge of space more affordable, but it’s still way out of reach of many.
Faulkner believes that over time, that may change.
FAULKNER: When people argue that only the rich can do something, that's fine until everybody can afford it. Only the rich could afford an automobile—at one time they were very expensive. But Henry Ford took it upon himself to make it the common man car. So yeah, it might be a rich man's game to go and put a guy into space, but it's conceivable that in a few decades, we could actually have affordable space travel for everybody...
Watching the post-flight press conferences, it was clear that organizers had done their market research. They attempted to convince their critics of the value of these ventures. Both crews described their flights in historic terms—riding the tails of earlier explorers. Bezos brought along Amelia Earhart's goggles and fabric from the Wright Brothers. Branson took a more emotional approach, carrying pictures of his kids and a deceased team member.
They both took the opportunity to announce undefined climate research initiatives. And Bezos even used the press conference to unveil a $100 million award for people fighting for social change.
For Danny Faulkner though, these flights provided a great opportunity for a different kind of message.
FAULKNER: It's like a giant billboard, the world around us, the space around us, advertising the fact that there is a creator and that brings up the whole question of sin, the fact that there's a great gulf between us and our Creator. But God has provided a way of salvation through the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ on the cross and his resurrection and faith through him. That His finished work can bring us to that proper relationship to God. That's, I think, the most important thing in life. And that is the thing that's most important in this that people need to see that rather than just the cool factor of going into space.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Paul Butler.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, July 21st. 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. Here’s World commentator Janie B. Cheaney.
JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: About 15 years ago, some teenage girls became so obsessed with thinness they were starving themselves. Outside of a few fringe websites, anorexia was universally condemned. Such a twisted relationship with food was obviously unhealthy!
But are we going too far in the other direction?
Enter “body positivity.” Like queer theory, critical race theory, and transgender ideology, it began in the university, where “fat-shaming” became just another form of discrimination by the powerful.
Let me be clear: healthy body types come in big, tall, and wide, as well as beanpole-skinny. Popular culture has idolized the swimsuit model, and so-called “ideal weights” are not necessarily ideal for everyone.
But there’s such a thing as obesity, and it’s becoming a dirty word. For instance, Love Your Body, a picture book by Jessica Sanders, stresses one theme, quote: “you are extraordinary exactly as you are.”
The (Other) F Word, a nonfiction book for teens, is all about being fat and loving it. Most of the 33 contributors are female, a few are male, and at least half are either gender nonconforming or gay. All reinforce the basic message as stated by the book’s editor. quote: “Your body is perfect. Yes, yours. Exactly the way it is, right now in this second.”
References to doctors are mostly negative, insofar as the medical establishment is biased against fat. None of the contributors say anything about exercise or physical activity. And—this seems odd—few of them say anything about food. They write of movies, clothes, relationships, self-esteem, and activism. But not the one thing, presumably, that made them fat. One contributor mentions food mostly as an act of “body sovereignty,” expressed by, quote, “Eating candy in the park at 10 a.m. while smiling at people taking their daily run.”
Genes and metabolism do play a part in weight gain. But most of us gain weight when we eat too much. And why does anyone eat too much? That’s a subject the contributors to The (Other) F Word never take up.
In some ways body positivity is a reaction against body negativity. We know (or remember) how kids are often vicious in their criticism of every physical imperfection, in themselves and others. But it’s also become an identity—part of who a person is, and therefore not to be challenged but embraced.
No body is perfect, but all are fearfully and wonderfully made. A body’s functions and abilities and potential are owed to Someone else, who designed and created it. Bodies are important to him, and that’s why they should be important to us. Not as self-expression, but as a God-expression. All bodies will die and go back to him. If they have glorified him, He will glorify them. That’s all the body positivity we need.
I’m Janie B. Cheaney.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: regulating Big Tech. We’ll tell you about the person now at the helm of the Federal Communications Commission and what she might have in store for the social media giants.
And, saving sound. We’ll take you to a shop in Illinois where you can hear echoes of the past.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
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