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The World and Everything in It: March 15, 2023


WORLD Radio - The World and Everything in It: March 15, 2023

On Washington Wednesday, lawmakers investigate the chaotic 2021 US withdrawal from Afghanistan; on World Tour, a record-breaking cyclone slams Mozambique; and lessons learned in a game cafe. Plus: commentary from Ryan Bomberger, and the Wednesday morning news.

Former Marine Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews, center, who was gravely injured, losing an arm and a leg in a suicide attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, arrives to testify before a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on the United States evacuation from Afghanistan on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 8, 2023 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

PREROLL: The World and Everything in It is made possible by listeners like us. My name is Rebecca Gregoire. Along with my husband Dan and eight children, we are missionaries in Slovakia, but currently in Marietta, Georgia until July. We hope you enjoy today’s program.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

The House Foreign Affairs Committee hears harrowing eyewitness testimony of the US pullout from Afghanistan. But who will be held accountable?

NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.

Also today, our global news roundup, World Tour with Onize Ohikere.

Plus the ongoing popularity of board games.

AJ PORFIRIO: It gets you off the device, right? Phones have … consumed us as a society.

EICHER: And World commentator Ryan Bomberger on the new kind of patriarchy.

REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, March 15th. 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. Here’s Kent Covington

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Bank investigations » The Justice Department and the SEC are investigating possible criminal wrongdoing in the months leading up to the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank.

Republican Senator Thom Tillis serves on the Senate Banking Committee. He said several questions must be answered:

TILLIS: What level of supervision was in play? Whether or not the mix for their liquid assets was the right.

The separate probes are in their early stages.

And investors in Silicon Valley Bank have filed a class action lawsuit. They claim S-V-B should have warned investors that the institution was highly susceptible to a bank run. The suit accuses top executives of deceiving investors.

Ohio suing Norfolk Southern » Meantime, the state of Ohio is suing railway giant Norfolk Southern to make sure it pays the bills for cleanup and recovery costs after last month’s fiery train crash and toxic chemical spill.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine:

DEWINE: There needs, frankly, to be a fund established by the railroad to make sure that everything is covered for people in East Palestine in the future.

Officials also want stronger safety measures going forward. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said Norfolk’s Southern accident rate has risen sharply over the past decade.

YOST: It’s up 80% over 10 years. And that’s a concerning number.

The lawsuit also seeks to force the company to pay for groundwater and soil monitoring in the years ahead and economic losses in and around East Palestine.

Russian plane/U.S. Drone » The Pentagon says two Russian fighter jets acted dangerously and unprofessionally by taking down a US surveillance drone over the Black Sea on Tuesday.

Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder:

RYDER: At approximately 7:03 a.m. Central European time, one of the Russian SU-27 aircraft struck the propeller of the MQ-9, causing U.S. forces to have to bring the MQ-9 down in international waters.

U-S officials are calling the act a brazen violation of international law.

Russia denies that knocked down the drone.

Facebook/Meta layoffs » Facebook parent company Meta is slashing another 10,000 jobs. WORLD’s Josh Schumacher has more.

The latest round of of cuts comes after the company slashed 11,000 jobs back in November, about 13% of its workforce at the time. Meta also said it would not fill 5,000 open positions.

CEO Mark Zueckerberg said the job cuts “will be tough and there’s no way around that.”

An uncertain global economy is hitting the tech sector particularly hard.

Last month, Meta posted falling profits and lower revenue for the third straight quarter.

Other big tech companies have announced cuts in recent months including Amazaon, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft.

Cyclone Freddy »

AUDIO: [Freddy Rain]

People in Malawi and Mozambique are digging through mud and rock where their homes once stood. Cyclone Freddy continues to batter the region, killling well over 200 people.

Heavy rains triggered floods and set off mudslides forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes..

AUDIO: [Nyanja] [family swept away]

This Malawi resident is says flood waters swept away his entire family.

The cyclone already hit Mozambique in last month, but after hitting Madagascar, it looped back around and slammed the mainland once again.

Cyclone Freddy is set to become the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record.

US weather »

AUDIO: [snow-plow]

In the northeastern United States, a late winter storm has knocked out power to hundreds of thousands.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul is urging drivers to stay off the roads.

HOCHUL: People in Upstate say, 'Well, snow is coming now. There's a snowstorm. I lived my whole life with snowstorms.' This is one we are cautioning people that this could be deadly.

The storm has forced airlines to cancel more than a 1,000 flights. New Jersey has declared an emergency in five counties.

New York and parts of New England are seeing one to two feet of snow.

Biden gun background » President Biden is calling for tighter gun control measures. He signed an executive order on Tuesday that directs authorities to clarify who is federally licensed to sell firearms … and therefore required to conduct background checks.

BIDEN: This executive order helps keep firearms out of dangerous hands as I continue to call on Congress to require background checks for all firearm sales.

The executive order also calls for the promotion of red flag laws. Those laws allow citizens to petition law enforcement to take away firearms from potentially dangerous individuals.

Biden spoke about the order during a visit to Monterey Park, California. A gunman killed 11 people at a dance studio there in January.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: digging into the chaos of America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Plus, bonding over board games.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It's the 15th of March, 2023. You’re listening to today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s time for Washington Wednesday. Congress is examining the lingering effects of the catastrophic U-S military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

It was 18 months ago that American troops left Afghanistan in a wave of chaos as the Taliban took control.

REICHARD: Now, U-S troops who witnessed the pullout say a lack of answers and accountability is adding to the trauma on all sides. Last week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee gathered some of those witnesses to try to figure out what went wrong.

MICHAEL MCCAUL: The committee on foreign affairs will come to order. The purpose of this hearing is to examine the administration’s disastrous, emergency evacuation from Afghanistan.

EICHER: Committee chairman Michael McCaul opened the hearing by stating the obvious: The war in Afghanistan ended in disaster.

Throughout the five-hour hearing, U-S service members told heart-rending stories of Afghans who helped American troops, only to be left behind to suffer at the hands of the Taliban.

DAVID SCOTT MANN: Jay, a former Navy SEAL in Pineapple received a text on Signal from his Afghan partner: "My daughter has been trampled, Sir. I know we are going to miss our chance to escape, but she is unconscious and barely breathing. It’s okay, my friend. Thank you for trying."

REICHARD: That’s retired Lieutenant Colonel David Scott Mann testifying to the committee. He served three combat tours in Afghanistan and worked with other veterans to rescue Afghan supporters when the Taliban took over. He blasted U-S leaders not only for abandoning Afghan allies but also for keeping silent about it afterward.

Service members described how in the final days of the war, they looked to leaders for answers and direction, but got none. In mid-August 2021, Aidan Gunderson deployed from Fort Bragg to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul to help with the evacuation.

AIDAN GUNDERSON: I remember vaguely remember the wheels touching down the night of August 15th and thinking to myself, Are we going to land in a firefight? Not a single person on that plane was prepared for combat. A sense of dread spread spread over me, and to make matters worse, the only food and water we had was what we packed in our rucksacks before leaving America.

EICHER: Another veteran, Tyler Vargas-Andrews, lost an arm and a leg in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport—a bombing he thinks he could have prevented. He said he and a fellow soldier spotted someone in the crowd who fit the description of the would-be suicide bomber. They asked permission to shoot, and got no answer.

TYLER VARGAS-ANDREWS: We made everyone on the ground aware. Operations had briefly halted but then started again. Plain and simple we were ignored. Our expertise was disregarded. No one was held accountable for our safety.

REICHARD: At one point in the hearing, Congressman Rich McCormick of Georgia addressed the panel of witnesses:

RICH MCCORMICK: If we're gonna have an entire hearing, we're gonna have all these fine people who have sacrificed their lives, and we talked about traumatic brain injuries, limbs, lost, family members, lost friends lost, time spent away from family years away from our family, and then we looked down the line we say, not one person was held accountable that made the decisions, then how can we learn and how can we heal?"

EICHER: In 2021 as the withdrawal unfolded, critics made dire predictions about Afghanistan’s future—many of which have already come true. Just last week, the United Nations declared Afghanistan the most repressive country for women in the world. Girls may not continue their education beyond sixth grade. Women cannot work. They must cover themselves from head to toe when they go out in public.

Roza Otunbayeva is head of the UN special assistance mission in Afghanistan. She addressed the UN Security Council last week:

ROZA OTUNBAYEVA: At the moment when Afghanistan needs all of its human capital to recover from the cuts of war, half of the country’s potential doctors, scientists, journalists, and politicians are shut in their homes, their dreams crushed, and their talents confiscated.

REICHARD: In Congress, lawmakers asked witnesses what, if anything, the U-S can do to make things right in Afghanistan. They answered that first and foremost, America must keep its commitments to its Afghan allies, doing everything possible to get those left behind to safety.

U.S. forces evacuated about 80,000 Afghans when Kabul fell, but more than 160,000 are still waiting to be approved for special immigrant visas.

The U-S also needs to care for veterans of the war. Colonel Mann warned lawmakers of a coming “mental health tsunami” among veterans. He said three of every four Afghan war veterans say they feel betrayed by how the war ended. And he had one more warning:

COLONEL MANN: We might be done with Afghanistan, but it's not done with us. The enemy has a vote. If we don’t set politics aside, and pursue accountability and lessons learned to address this grievous moral injury on our military community; and right the wrongs inflicted on the most at-risk Afghan Allies, this colossal foreign policy failure will follow us home and ultimately draw us right back into the graveyard of empires where it all started.

EICHER: The hearing concluded after five hours of testimony, but Chairman McCaul told Margaret Brennan of CBS earlier this week that he’s not finished.

MCCAUL: In fact, Margaret, this is the first open hearing we've had on Afghanistan since the fall of Afghanistan. And I intend to move forward with this investigation. And I want to know what the commanding officer was thinking when he denied permission to take out the threat and how what levels did it go to within the United States government? I think those are all very important questions and the State Department has not been compliant with our document requests. I met with the secretary, we had a very cordial conversation. Cooperation is always key but they're not cooperating. If he fails to cooperate with my document production request by you know, the time he testifies on March 23rd, I am prepared to issue a subpoena.

REICHARD: Regardless of what Secretary of State Tony Blinken does, the investigation will continue later this month. But whether anyone will take responsibility for the carnage in Kabul remains an open question.

That’s this week’s Washington Wednesday.

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: Mozambique cyclone again — Today’s World Tour kicks off in Mozambique…where a record-breaking cyclone made a second landfall.

AUDIO: [Tree felling]

Cyclone Freddy brought strong winds and heavy rainfall as it lashed the port city of Quelimane. The cyclone uprooted trees while roofing sheets littered the streets. Authorities say at least 17 people died. They expect the toll to rise.

AUDIO: [Rainfall]

In neighboring Malawi, the cyclone has killed nearly 200 people as it triggered landslides and destroyed mud homes.

Aubrey Singaenyama is the deputy police spokesman for the city of Blantyre.

SINGANYAMA: We are conveying the dead bodies whenever we find them to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital mortuary of which is currently now full.

Freddy pummeled Madagascar last month before slamming Mozambique. At least 21 people died in the two countries combined.

The United Nations weather agency says Freddy is on track to become the longest-lasting tropical cyclone in history after traversing the entire Indian Ocean for a month.

China Congress ends — Next, to China where the ruling Communist party wrapped up its annual meeting on Monday.

AUDIO: [Congress in session]

Nearly 3,000 delegates of the National People’s Congress gathered in Beijing for the weeklong session. They reappointed Chinese President Xi Jinping to a third five-year term in an expected move and also selected a new administration for the next five years.

President Xi called for China’s reunification with the self-governed Taiwan.

XI: [Speaking Mandarin]

He says here that China needs to oppose external influence and pro-independence activities in Taiwan.

He also stressed the need for stronger national security as the Congress increased the defense budget by more than 7 percent.

Italy migrant protest — We head over to Italy.

AUDIO: [Protest]

Thousands of people marched through the streets of the Italian town of Cutro on Saturday.

Local mayors joined the protest to remember the shipwreck late last month that killed at least 74 migrants. Some protesters held up signs that read “Stop the slaughter at sea.”

Migrant crossings along the central Mediterranean Sea more than doubled in the first two months of this year.

Rossella Miccio is president of the humanitarian group EMERGENCY. She joined the Saturday march.

MICCIO: [Speaking Italian]

She says here that authorities need to face the issue with more legal migration routes and not only penalizing smugglers.

Over the weekend, the Italian Coast Guard rescued about 1,300 migrants from three different ships in distress.

Lebanon financial crisis — Next, to Lebanon.

AUDIO: [Money counting]

The country’s struggling currency hit a new low yesterday. The lira, also called a Lebanese pounds, traded at a record 100,000 to a U.S. dollar in the black market.

The crash comes as Lebanese banks resumed their strike over ongoing lawsuits. Some depositors sued the commercial banks after they started to restrict cash withdrawals.

AUDIO: [Traffic]

The Lebanese pound has faced a downward spiral since decades of mismanagement and corruption triggered a financial meltdown in 2019.

Many grocery stores, restaurants, and other businesses now price their goods and services in dollars in an attempt to cope with the crisis.

Mohamaed Faour is an assistant professor of finance at the American University of Beirut:

FAOUR: As long as this current status quo persists all that we could see is continuous dollarization at an accelerated pace.

Three-quarters of Lebanon’s population of over 6 million people now lives in poverty.

Iraq liquor ban - We wrap up today in Iraq.

AUDIO: [Glass bottles]

Authorities there are enforcing a new law that bans the import and sale of alcohol.

The law was passed back in 2016, but only became official after it was published last month. Public consumption of alcohol is generally prohibited in the Muslim-majority country, but it is still available in liquor stores or licensed bars.

AUDIO: [Speaking Arabic]

Baghdad resident Abdullah Mohsen saying here that the law does not make sense, since Iraq still has people of diverse races and cultures.

Christian lawmakers appealed the law saying it ignores the rights and freedom of minorities.

That’s it for this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.


NICK EICHER, HOST: A family in England heard this sound inside their home, but they couldn't figure out where it was coming from. The muffled bird sounds seemed to be coming from inside a wall, so the homeowners called some local wildlife rescuers.

Volunteers were on their way when the family called again and said, never mind.


EIDHER: Turns out, all the hubbub was over a stuffed toy by the name of Hedwig. You know, the pet owl in Harry Potter? Hedwig got lodged under the sofa.

This is just so out of character, so I am reliably told, this is more of an Errol the owl thing. It would never happen to Hedwig.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, March 15th.

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: boardgames.

COVID kept us locked up for way too much of the year 2020. To pass the time, board games became more popular for home-bound families. Now that people are gathering socially again, the board game boom has kept on going even outside the home.

WORLD reporter Jenny Rough recently visited a board-game cafe.

JENNY ROUGH, REPORTER: On a Friday night, I met my brother and his friend at Game Point Cafe in downtown Nashville.

GREG: Hey.

ROUGH: Hi. How are you?

At first glance, the spot looks like a cafe. Place your order at the countertop.

GREG: I got pretzel bites.

Find a seat at a table.


But the tables aren’t just for food. They’re for dice, cards, pawns, chits, cubes, markers, spinners, pegs. The cafe has a library full of hundreds of games. We start with Azul.

LEON: Do you want to be the black, the gray, the white or the brown?

ROUGH: I’ll be white.

Azul is a tile laying game.


RICK KEULER: Azul, it’s just so pretty! The tiles themselves are super pretty.

Rick Keuler is the co-owner of Game Point.

KEULER: They’re so tactile.

Use the tiles to create patterns and score points.

KEULER: The gameplay is easy to understand but is difficult to do well. I think that's kind of the hallmark of a great game.

Keuler first fell in love with board games when he worked in a big law firm.

KEULER: And my wife said I needed to get a hobby. And that hobby became strategy board games.

He and his wife hosted game nights at home. It grew to about 40 friends. Then, at a board game convention, he met Bob Berstein. Bernstein wanted to host board game nights too, but in a public setting.

KEULER: So I was like, well, what about a board game cafe? And that's how we came up with the plan to kind of marry this idea of community gaming with, with a cafe space.

Game Point opened in 2017. It has a tranquil vibe. Mellow background music. Players gather around tables stacking sets, shuffling cards, and moving pieces.

KEULER: I mean the real goal for the business was to create a community space where people could interact together and have a good time face-to-face. So it's just a great way to have quiet social time that gets rid of the distractions.

A.J. Porfirio agrees.

AJ PORFIRIO: It gets you off the device, right? Phones have consumed us as a society.

Porfirio is a board game designer in Middle Tennessee.

PORFIRIO: It’s just one other way to have a human connection with people. For many people, it’s refreshing. And I think that’s why our hobby has seen a huge growth.

He’s been to Game Point to demo some of the games he’s created. Like Popcorn Dice. My 6-year-old niece’s favorite.

ROUGH: Put the dice in the bucket and shake ‘em up.

ELENA: I’ll shake it up first.

The bucket: a red-and-white striped container. The dice inside: the popcorn. The goal: To roll as many “pops” as you can.


A light game. But many games at the cafe are rule-intensive heavy games. Like Twilight Imperium. It takes 8 hours to play. Not counting the time it takes to parse the rulebook!

One group of friends at the cafe had been on their way to Top Golf when they saw the sign for Game Point and changed their plans.

PLAYER 1: This is our first time here. We walked in, we were instantly like, “We like this!”

They’re playing Settlers of Catan.

PLAYER 2: This is by far my favorite board game. City domination type games where you’re competing against other players for limited space on a board.

PLAYER 3: Very competitive group here. [Laughter]

But that rivalry might be why some people steer clear of board games.

PORFIRIO: These are people who may not like heavy competition or “take that” kind of games where I’m doing something to directly hinder my opponent. For some people they don’t like that feeling that that gives them.

Board game designer Porfirio says people who don’t like competitive board games might discover they enjoy cooperative games.

PORFIRIO: So if you want to play a game and experience the table working together as opposed to “how do I outscore my opponents,” then cooperative games are a great option for that.

Next up at Game Point: The Crew. It’s a trick-taking card game. Like Spades or Hearts. Except all the players, the crew, work together to help each other win the tricks they need. The game has a space mission theme.

GREG: We are all on this mission together. We either all succeed, or we all fail.

Like most games, it takes practice to learn.

GREG: Well, we lost.

ROUGH: Oh, wait. Wait, wait, wait. I thought you played the nine.

GREG: No, I played the six.

ROUGH: Well, to me it looks like a nine because it’s upside-down.

GREG: That’s why there’s a dot.

But before long, we have the hang of it.


GREG: Yay! We did it.

Laughter. High spirits.

Playing games is a fun but somewhat trivial experience. Yet for generations, it’s been a way for families and friends to be together and enjoy conversation. Keuler says if you haven’t found a game you like yet, don’t give up. Whether it’s a word game like Letter Jam, a dexterity game like Jenga, or a memory game like Chicken Cha Cha Cha, there’s a huge variety.

KEULER: And that's kind of my favorite thing about the cafe is just listening to what people tell me they like and helping them find a game that's going to be fun for them. That they're going to want to play with their family over and over and make some memories, around that.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Jenny Rough in Nashville, Tennessee.

ROUGH: Do I have to play a rocket?

GREG: Yes.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, March 15th. 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. Up next: WORLD Commentator Ryan Bomberger on the new transgender patriarchy.

RYAN BOMBERGER, COMMENTATOR: The world’s not going crazy. The world has always been crazy. We’re just now in an era where ridiculous ideas are justified, codified, and amplified. A Supreme Court Justice can’t define what the word “she” means.

Medical Associations think men can chest feed. And a First Lady (guess that term will be obsolete soon) ran out of women to honor with the International Women of Courage Award. So, she gave it to a man.

Jill Biden said in that award ceremony, “Girls everywhere need to know that there are women fighting for them and winning.” Which women? Not many liberal ones. And sadly, not enough conservative or independent ones either. Where are the feminists when girls are being displaced in high school sports? Where are the feminists when women are being disgraced in raunchy drag shows? Where are the feminists when women are being erased in medical terminology?

LGBT activism has shifted its aims from cultural “tolerance” to political dominance. When feminists like J. K. Rowling do resist, their efforts are often condemned. Women’s rights, like Title IX, apparently paved the way for “transgender” activists to steamroll right over them.

And what happens when men step up and challenge the LGBT ideology that threatens their daughters? One dad in Vermont–Travis Allen–got suspended without pay from his job for daring to say male students should not be in the showers and locker rooms of female students.

For over a century, feminists have decried American patriarchy. One website defines patriarchy as the “general structure in which men have power over women.” That’s exactly what’s happening in our society today. Men beating women in swimming, track, weightlifting, multiple scholarships and awards is the very definition of having power. When men enter and rule women’s spaces, that’s LGBT Patriarchy.

We see it at work in colleges and universities like Smith College, a leading feminist all-women’s school. As early as 2015, that college decided to admit men who “identify” as women. In explaining their policy change and denial of science, a spokesperson claimed: “In the years since Smith’s founding, concepts of female identity have evolved.” But “female” is not a concept. It’s biological fact.

The Church of Corporate America is also preaching the religion of transgenderism. Hershey’s, a company that has tragically gone woke, recently launched a Women’s History Month campaign called #HerSHE, spelled with the letters S-H-E at the end. In this demeaning campaign, the once-family-friendly corporation features a man – Fae Johnstone -- who twirls and identifies as “trans”. Funny. I don’t recall Hershey’s featuring white people in blackface during Black History Month to celebrate “inclusivity.”

Jill Biden fell in line with LGBT Patriarchy by giving a male the “Woman of Courage” award last week. Which means, the same Democratic Party that denied Black people their personhood is now the Party that denies females their womanhood.

The crazy continues.

I’m Ryan Bomberger.

REICHARD: If you're interested in this and have kids or grandkids, you might want to check out Ryan's new book, SHE IS SHE. In the book, Ryan and his wife Bethany seek to counter gender radicalism.

EICHER: Tomorrow: A public school district in Arizona is barring student teachers from a Christian university because of their values. We’ll talk with WORLD’s Steve West about it.

And, we’ll hear from a musician who doesn’t just make music. He makes the instruments that make the music.

That and more tomorrow.

I’m Nick Eicher.

REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.

The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.

WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.

The Psalmist writes: But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me in your saving faithfulness. Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. Psalms chapter 69:13 and 14

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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