The World and Everything in It - March 24, 2022
An unusual, long-term side effect of COVID-19; the war on the ground in Ukraine; and the other March madness gripping the world of soccer. Plus: commentary from Cal Thomas, and the Thursday morning news.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
Loss of smell after Covid is a common complaint. Most people regain their sense of smell, but not everyone does.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Also the war in Ukraine. What’s the situation on the ground?
Plus international soccer’s March Madness.
And commentator Cal Thomas on political naivete.
REICHARD: It’s Thursday, March 24th. 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 news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: U.S. finds Russian troops have committed war crimes in Ukraine » Russian troops have committed war crimes in Ukraine. That is the official declaration now from the U.S. government.
Beth van Schaack is U.S. ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice. She said the Russian military has targeted civilians.
SCHAACK: Hospitals, schools, theaters, etc. being intentionally attacked, as well as indiscriminate attacks. Russia’s forces have destroyed apartment buildings.
In a statement, Secretary of State Tony Blinken said the war crimes declaration was based on a “careful review” of public and intelligence sources.
Biden huddles with allies in Europe as war rages in Ukraine » President Biden, meantime, is currently huddling with European leaders in Brussels. The United States and its allies will announce more sanctions against Russia today.
The leaders will also discuss a range of vital concerns, including Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.
European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen on Wednesday said “energy policy is also security policy.”
LEYEN: And that’s why the commission has proposed measures that would allow us to significantly reduce our gas imports from Russia. This is very ambitious, but we can achieve it.
They’ll also talk about how to address the growing humanitarian crisis.
And U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the leaders will discuss how to respond to whatever Russia does next.
SULLIVAN: The possibility of cyber attacks by Russia against the United States or other allied partner countries; the possibility of the use of chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine.
In addition to thousands of Ukrainian dead thus far, Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is sending many of his own countrymen to the slaughter in Ukraine.
NATO estimated on Wednesday that between 7,000 to 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in four weeks of war.
For comparison, Russia lost about 15,000 troops over 10 years in Afghanistan.
Louisiana digging out after tornadoes plow through homes » National Guard troops rolled into storm-ravaged parts of Louisiana on Wednesday.
They cleared roads and joined firefighters and others searching damaged homes and buildings to make sure no storm victims were left behind.
A massive EF-3 tornado tore through the New Orleans area on Tuesday. One resident described the moment it passed his home.
AUDIO: When it hit, I mean, it was so fast. It was like a freight train, and I could feel the house shaking. And I remember my son looking up at me, and I told him, put your face down and keep down no matter what happens.
The twister flipped a school bus, toppled trees, and ripped off rooftops. It even deposited a house with a family inside it onto the middle of their street.
Two people were killed as the storm front blew across the South, starting in Oklahoma, and in Texas where Gov. Greg Abbott declared a disaster in 16 counties.
ABBOTT: A massive tornado ripped apart substantial regions of Houston County.
And the storms also shredded buildings in Mississippi and Alabama before pushing toward the Atlantic Coast on Wednesday.
Jackson fields final round of questions from Senate Judiciary panel » Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson faced a final round of questioning Wednesday from Senators on the Judiciary Committee on day-3 of her confirmation hearing.
Republicans again expressed concerns about her judicial record and her personal ideologies.
But Jackson once again pledged…
JACKSON: To look carefully at the facts and the circumstances of every case without any agendas, without any attempt to push the law in one direction or the other.
She now awaits a vote from members of the committee on whether to send her nomination to the Senate floor.
Taliban break promise on higher education for Afghan girls » In Afghanistan, girls above the sixth grade showed up at school with their backpacks only to be turned away. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has that story.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Taliban rulers suddenly reversed course on reopening schools Wednesday to girls above the sixth grade despite pledging to let older girls return to classrooms.
The move appeases the new government’s hard-line base. But it will further drive a wedge between the Taliban and global leaders at a time when the group is trying to get sanctions lifted and attract international aid dollars.
Afghans are now suffering a humanitarian crisis that is only growing worse by the day.
The Taliban’s reversal was so sudden that the Education Ministry was caught off guard on Wednesday, the start of the school year. Many girls showed up at schools only to be told to go home.
The U.S. government expressed—quote—“shock and deep disappointment” about the decision, calling it “a betrayal of public commitments.”
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Madeleine Albright, 1st female US secretary of state, dies » Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has died.
Her family confirmed that the 84-year-old died of cancer on Wednesday.
Albright fled the Nazi regime as a child refugee. And in 1997, she became the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state under President Bill Clinton.
She also served as ambassador to the United Nations before that. The woman who currently holds that post, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, paid her respects to Albright yesterday…
GREENFIELD: Her story, a story of fleeing Czechoslovakia as a refugee at a young age and rising to the highest levels in the U.S. government has echoed in my mind amid the current crisis in Ukraine. And I hope to do justice for her memory today.
The lifelong Democrat often promoted diplomacy backed by force, toeing a hard line on relations with Cuba and supporting NATO expansion into Soviet countries.
In 1999, she advised Clinton to go to war against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to prevent ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
I'm Kent Covington. Straight ahead: a long-term COVID side effect.
Plus, dealing in bad faith.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Thursday, the 24th of March, 2022.
You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we’re glad you’ve joined us today. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. First up on The World and Everything in It: a smell test.
If you had COVID-19, particularly early on, chances are you lost your sense of taste and smell. A minor, temporary inconvenience. But for some people, that inconvenient side-effect turned into something much worse. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown reports.
MIELING: Eggs, bacon, sausage, oatmeal, cereal, pancakes, waffles, bagels.
ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN: This is Joanna Mieling.
MIELING: Any fruit, or pasta, and most meats, and most pizza.
She’s not making a grocery list. These are the foods she can’t eat. At least, some of them. It’s not an exhaustive list.
MIELING: Coffee, peanut butter, popcorn, and wine.
It started last fall. Around Thanksgiving.
MIELING: I kept smelling this horrible smell when I was doing dishes. And I kind of thought that maybe it was like a rotting sponge, or a rotting dish rag, just that had been old and sitting in the sink. So I kept smelling those, but those smelled fine. And then I figured out that it was the dish soap. And so I had my husband smell it. I was like, Can dish soap go bad? Is this dish soap rotten? And he's like, No, it smells fine to me.
But Mieling kept noticing the smell. Everywhere. And it kept getting worse.
MIELING: It smells and tastes like vomited carnival food, because it's kind of like sickly, but also like sweet.
The smell got stronger and stronger so Mieling finally started doing some research.
MIELING: And I figured out that it has a name: Parosmia.
Post-Covid Parosmia, to be precise. Mieling discovered thousands of other people are suffering from the same condition. They all had Covid, lost their sense of taste and smell … and then about two months later, started smelling something weird. Rotten meat, sulfur, sewage…
Some studies estimate 20 percent of people with Covid go on to develop parosmia. It primarily affects women under the age of 30. But not exclusively.
Ahmad Sedaghat is a doctor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine who specializes in nose and sinus problems. He used to get a few parosmia patients here and there. But after Covid hit, the number of cases skyrocketed.
SEDAGHAT: Oh, I couldn't even count. The numbers have been astronomically higher compared to before the pandemic started.
No one is quite sure what causes it. But doctors have a few theories. Sedaghat says parosmia might actually be a part of recovery.
Covid tends to infect cells in the lining of the nose, especially cells that support the function of the olfactory nerves.
SEDAGHAT: And so when these supporting cells get infected with the virus and die, the smell nerves, the olfactory neurons become dysfunctional.
That might be why people with Covid lose their sense of smell. Then, when those nerves start to regrow, they get their wires crossed. They start sending signals to the brain again, but … the wrong signals.
SEDAGHAT: So a great example is that if you were to smell a cup of coffee, there is a combination of odorants that are in those vapors and those combination of odorants then stimulate a combination of smell nerves up at the top of your nose, and then those smell nerves together then signal to the right combination of nerves in your brain that then go to the right memory centers and sort of in that combination triggered the memory for coffee and what it used to smell like and what it smells like. If some of those smell nerves don't wire to the right nerves to go to the right memories, that's where you get distortions in your sense of smell.
That’s one theory. Other doctors think it might be due to hyperinflammation or an overactive nervous system. But few studies have come to any solid conclusions.
Jennifer Knight has had parosmia for 14 months.
KNIGHT: Running water. So for probably six or eight months, I had to take a shower with a nose plug.
When it first started, she’d never heard of the condition and none of her doctors knew what was wrong.
KNIGHT: You know, okay, well, it's probably a sinus infection. So you go to the ENT. Nope, I don't know anything about this. Let me see. So then they've got to look at that. I went to a neurologist. Nope, don't know anything about it. Never heard of it. Let me look it up…
She went to eight different doctors. She tried vitamins, steroids, salines, nasal sprays. None of them worked.
A lot of people thought she was overreacting or just imagining it. She wasn’t.
KNIGHT: So garlic, onions, perfumes, soap products, exhaust fumes, it's all the same smell. There's no way for me to differentiate.
The never-ending barrage of foul odor really started to wear her down.
KNIGHT: You get desperate because it's such an anxiety and depression filled illness.
As she did her own research, Knight ran across a Facebook group for people with parosmia. Right now, it has close to 50,000 members. As she read other people’s posts, Knight realized she had a relatively moderate case. Some people have just five foods they can stomach. They’ve lost weight, been hospitalized, had a feeding tube inserted just to get the nutrition they need to live. The smell is so strong they gag and throw up. They can’t stand the smell of their kids, their husband, or even themselves.
KNIGHT: We've had people, you know, sign into that group and threatened to commit suicide. I mean, it's gotten, It's that serious.
Joanna Mieling says she’s noticed common themes in what people can and can’t eat. But it’s also incredibly random. It happens to vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. People can drink Dr. Pepper, but not Coke. Mieling can’t stand fresh raspberries, but she can eat them frozen. And cucumbers are the most disgusting thing she’s ever tasted.
Dr. Ahmad Sedaghat says all his patients do have one thing in common: The smell is always bad.
SEDAGHAT: No one ever comes in saying that everything smells like cupcakes.
So what’s the solution? Sedaghat prescribes smell training to promote nerve healing.
SEDAGHAT: Usually the regimen that is recommended is four essential oils consisting of one rose, two eucalyptus, three lemon, four cloves, and you smell each of them for 20 seconds per day, twice a day. And and that's sort of like a form of almost physical therapy for for the smell nerves and stimulates the olfactory epithelium.
Smelling those four scents, and actively remembering what they used to smell like, stimulates the brain to rewire itself. Sedaghat says it’s kind of like mind over matter.
SEDAGHAT: But there's actually a very physiologic basis to this because nerves, neurons that activate at the same time like to connect with one another. So if you activate the right combination of smell nerves, and you activate those memory centers in your brain at the same time, there's a greater likelihood that those nerves, those neurons are going to want to reconnect.
But smell training is a painfully slow process without any guarantee of success. It works for some patients, but not all.
Joanna Mieling says she’s just buckled in for the long haul, hoping for improvement, but not expecting it. Jennifer Knight says she’s gotten a tiny bit better just in the last six weeks. She’s going to keep trying things, hoping that someday—eventually—something will click.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: Who’s winning the war in Ukraine?
In a very important sense, there are no winners in this war, but which side has the upper hand right now in this conflict? And what can we expect in the weeks ahead?
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Joining us now to help answer that question is Ryan Brobst. He is a researcher on Military and Political Power at Foundation for Defense of Democracy.
His research focuses on arms sales and weapons development as well as regional military operations. Ryan, good morning!
RYAN BROBST: Good morning! Thank you for having me.
REICHARD: Well, I think it’s safe to say that things have not gone according to plan for Russia in this invasion. From the Kremlin’s perspective, how poorly has this invasion gone?
BROBST: I think that Putin is quite disappointed in how this war has gone based on reports we've seen. They expected to take the capital city, Kiev, in just a matter of days. And as we're about to reach one month into the conflict, the Kremlin is nowhere near achieving those objectives and most of their attacks on Ukraine have stalled thus far.
REICHARD: What has the Ukrainian military done right? How have they been able to frustrate the larger Russian army?
BROBST: Right, so probably the most important factor is their high morale and willingness to fight on the battlefield. Russian troops, they thought they were just going to an exercise in western Russia, and then were rushed across the border. And you know, just to put this in perspective, Ukrainians and Russians often have familial overlaps with each other. They know each other. This would be akin to trying to have the U.S. military invade Canada. There's not going to be a lot of will to do that. As well, the Russian officers are – there's a lot of conscripts in the Russian military who are not willing to risk their lives in their one year term of service for unclear objectives. And so I think that's the main factor that Ukrainian military has done well, and then they're supported by enormous amounts of Western equipment, which has been provided to them over the past several years, as well as rushed to them in the past few weeks.
REICHARD: Does either side really have the upper hand right now?
BROBST: Here's how I would describe the situation on the ground. Right now, we're currently in a transition between phases of the war. This first phase, which we just talked about, was an attempted blitz by Russia to collapse the Zelensky government, destroy the Ukrainian military and install a Russian puppet government. That hasn't worked so far. The Russian advances in the north near Kiev and in the east near Donbass have stalled, although Russian forces have made gains in the south near Crimea. So what's happened over the past week is that Russian ground forces have been in an operational pause while they regroup and try to get their supply lines in order. And I view it as likely that they will renew their assault on Ukraine in the near future, which is when the second phase of the war will begin. So to answer your question correctly: No, neither side currently has the upper hand and we're about to enter a new phase of the war.
REICHARD: Let’s talk about the kinds of weapons the West is supplying to Ukraine. You recently wrote that the best weapons the West can provide are called loitering munitions. Explain what those are and why those weapons are so effective.
BROBST: They're a type of drone. And in America, when we think of drones, we kind of think of these large systems that are basically unmanned airplanes. But loitering munitions are very different. They're much smaller, kind of like the quad copters that you might see in civilian use. And what they do is they can hover above the battlefield, identify targets, and then dive in on them and detonate an explosive. So what it's doing is you're combining the surveillance and strike features, and the Russian air defenses cannot take care of these systems. But we only sent one hundred of these systems and we should be sending a lot more.
REICHARD: Ryan, how are everyday Ukrainians participating in this fight for their country’s survival?
BROBST: Ukraine established what's called the Territorial Defense Forces, which is kind of adjacent to the regular military, and allows civilians with oversight to help defend their towns and cities and provinces in the area nearby. And for those who can't fight, you know, they're supporting the war effort and other ways from knitting camouflage nets, to cooking meals for soldiers and just donating money, helping out in any way that they can.
REICHARD: Vladimir Putin has recently accused both the United States and Ukraine of harboring chemical and biological weapons. And President Biden has warned that Putin’s rhetoric suggests he may be considering using such a weapon himself and is trying to create a pretext for that.
How might this war change if Putin does cross that line and uses chemical or biological weapons?
BROBST: You're right. So what I've always said is the best way to figure out what Russia is going to do is to see what they're accusing everyone else of doing. And it does seem that they're laying out the groundwork to create a chemical warfare attack, which would be illegal and horrific. So the reason that they would do this is to try to terrify Ukrainians into submission, which for the record, I don't think is going to work given how Ukraine has resisted thus far, but they can kill a lot of civilians. And the U.S. and NATO are not going to respond in a kinetic fashion over this to avoid escalating the war. But what we can do is provide even more weapons, as well as provide protective equipment to Ukrainian units responding to these chemical attacks so that they can help treat the victims in a safe manner.
REICHARD: We’ll certainly hope and pray that Putin doesn’t cross that line. Ryan Brobst with the Foundation for Defense of Democracy has been our guest. Ryan, thanks so much!
BROBST: Thank you for having me.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Well, in most places, keeping a pet tiger is against the law.
Same thing in England. But police in the town of Oldham received reports of a tiger lounging in a neighborhood garden.
Police approached the tiger, who didn’t even move a muscle.
And no wonder. Soon enough the officers figured out why. The big cat was a stuffed toy.
Police quickly nicknamed him Tony the Tiger and posted a picture of him on Facebook with the caption of what he always said about frosted flakes:
AUDIO: They’re Great!
Tony is now safely booked into the property department at Oldham Police station.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Thursday, March 24th.
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: the World Cup.
Many American sports fans are obsessed with college basketball this month. But there’s another, much bigger March madness going on around the globe. WORLD’s Paul Butler has more.
PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Football—also known as soccer—is easily the most popular sport around the world. Interest in the game has been steadily growing in America over the last decade—up 27 percent. Late last year, a survey of American sports fans discovered that soccer is now the fourth most popular sport in this country—surpassing ice hockey and placing it just behind baseball.
BELZ: America is a melting pot and people from all over the world…are coming here and continuing to be soccer fans.
Adam Belz is a reporter and cohost of the Scuffed Soccer Podcast—covering the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team.
BELZ: I played soccer growing up, and always, always was a fan— especially around World Cup time—you know, that's such a festive global event. And it was always fun to watch our country's national team play on that stage.
The World Cup is a global soccer tournament that happens every four years. But unlike the NCAA basketball tournament crammed into about a month’s time—the World Cup tournament qualifiers happen over many months, even years. The first qualifiers for the 2022 finals in Qatar began in 2019—with 210 teams spread over six confederations—or conferences:
BELZ: So there's a South American Confederation. There's a North and Central American Confederation. The European one, African one, Asian one and Oceania. And each of those confederations sends a certain number of teams to the World Cup.
Each country in the tournament fields a national team. Throughout the regular soccer season, athletes play for clubs in Europe and North America. But at set times in the year, they return home to play for their countries.
The last of those windows is occurring right now for the final stage of 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Over the next week, top teams from each region are making a last push to qualify for the November World Cup finals in Qatar
In the North and Central America region, the top three teams at the end of the qualifiers are guaranteed a place in the tournament. The fourth team heads to a playoff for one more possible slot in the final 32. The rest of the teams in the confederation are disqualified. The U.S. Men’s team is currently in second.
They play longtime rival Mexico tonight.
BELZ: We've never beaten Mexico in Mexico City—in a World Cup qualifier. It's a very difficult place to play. They call it the Azteca. It's a 100,000 seat stadium. One of the sort of cathedrals of Global Soccer. I think we'll probably lose that game.
But Belz is more hopeful for next week’s games against Panama and Costa Rica. He believes that if the U.S. team can pull off a win in at least one of those remaining matches—they should head to Qatar. They’re trying to overcome the bitter disappointment of 2018’s failed bid to qualify.
BELZ: That was an older team. And they just couldn't quite get over the finish line. Now we have a very young team, most of our best players are in their early 20s. And one reason to be excited is just we've never had this many good players. The flip side of that is because they're so young, they're a little bit inexperienced.
Belz is excited about this American team—not just because of their abilities, but the make-up of the squad.
BELZ: The other thing I think that's really exciting about this team is just how diverse it is. It is really a nice reflection of the American dream. Mexican American from El Paso is one of the strikers on the team, one of our best attackers is the son of the president of Liberia. He was born and raised in New York. And, you know, it's just a nice cross section of the whole country, which has not always been as true.
The U.S. team has fared well enough so far in the tournament, but they haven’t lived up to many analysts’ expectations. Belz says that could change in these next three games.
BELZ: The player to keep an eye on is Christian Pulisic. He was only 17 when we failed to qualify for the World Cup last time. And there is, at least in my little world, iconic images of him crying. He now is one of the most expensive players in the world. And well regarded attackers. He has not played super well for the U.S. in this qualifying cycle. But I think he's going to come into this window with a lot to prove. He's the one to watch.
The global COVID pandemic threatened to derail the World Cup qualifiers, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine may lead some to wonder about the focus on sports at this time in history…but Adam Belz thinks there’s still reason to move forward with the tournament.
BELZ: For me—and for a lot of people who pay attention to soccer on the level of detail that I do—there's always going to be problems. And I think as cheesy as it sounds, the World Cup is even bigger than the Olympics at this point. You know, you got people all over the world coming together to share something and pay attention to something and enjoy something that is a beautiful game. And I think it's okay to pay attention to, even though there are big problems in the world.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Paul Butler.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Thursday, March 24th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Here now is commentator Cal Thomas.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: When you sit down to make a deal with the devil, he usually wins. That’s because he’s “crafty,” as Genesis tells us.
The United States and Iran appear on the cusp of a deal with Iran. President Biden and his diplomats claim it will prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon in the short term. In exchange for guarantees that won’t be worth the paper they’re written on, Washington appears ready to release huge amounts of cash to the Ayatollah Khamenei, who still wants America and Israel eliminated. The Biden administration also appears ready to remove Iran’s Revolutionary Guard from its list of international terrorists. This is self-delusion at its worst. And to make this potential deal even more incredible, Russia remains a primary negotiator despite war crimes it’s committing against Ukraine.
Just one among many quotes from the Ayatollah ought to be taken seriously: “Today, America poses a threat to peace and security in the world. Therefore, the slogan ‘Death to America’ is no longer used only by our people. Today, you see throughout the world people setting fire to the effigy of the American president and chanting the slogan ‘Death to America.’ This is because of the American regime's exaggerated demands, its arrogance, its vanity, and its desire to control, and because it is a pawn in the hands of the Zionists.”
How can someone who has called America “The Great Satan” be trusted to honor any deal?
Iran has consistently denied it’s developing a bomb and claims its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Does anyone believe that?
We are sitting down with leaders of a nation who not only do not share American values, but who wish to destroy those values. That means we will leave the negotiating table with a deal that guarantees a further step down the road to instability at best and at worst, our destruction.
Even some Democrats oppose the deal. In a speech last month, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey noted the proposed deal still doesn’t address some of our most serious national security concerns. And he questioned why we would return to a deal that was insufficient in the first place.
It’s a good question and deserves an answer. A deal should come before the Senate for ratification. But if the administration doesn’t call it a treaty, it could bypass the Senate. That would be a big mistake on several levels.
The Biden administration seems desperate for any victory in light of a string of failures: The disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Inflation at the highest point in 40 years. A fluctuating stock market hurting retirees. High gas and food prices. And a continuing decline in the president’s favorability ratings.
But making a deal with the Iranian devil will not reverse Americans’ view of the administration’s failures. It can only make them worse.
I’m Cal Thomas.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Tomorrow on Culture Friday: our culture’s obsession with female sexuality.
And, a review of the movie The Lost City that’s in theaters now.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
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Go now in grace and peace.
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