The World and Everything in It - March 29, 2022
New CAFE standards might increase fatalities in car crashes; European churches are working together to minister to Ukrainian refugees; and a veteran volunteer serving his fellow service members and their families. Plus: the Tuesday morning news.
KENT COVINGTON: Ukraine-Russia peace talks resume in Turkey » Diplomats from Ukraine and Russia met in Turkey on Monday starting a new round of negotiations … that as the United Nations renewed its push for peace. Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
GUTERRES: I am therefore appealing for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to allow for progress in serious political negotiations aiming at achieving a peace agreement.
But for now, the peace talks are taking place as bombs continue to fall.
In an overnight video address to his nation, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine is seeking peace “without delay.”
Zelenskyy says he will consider a compromise on contested areas in the country’s east … and he’s prepared to declare Ukraine’s neutrality. Russia has long demanded that Ukraine drop any hope of joining the Western NATO alliance.
But Zelenskyy also stressed that his priority is to ensure his country’s sovereignty … and to prevent Russia from carving up the country and redrawing its borders.
Ukraine refugees near 4 million » Meantime, many Ukrainians continue to surge over the border into neighboring European countries. Almost 4 million people have now fled Ukraine.
A 31-year-old refugee, Alina Beskrovna, said life in her hometown of Mariupol became unbearable.
BESKROVNA: There’s no gas, no electricity, no heating, no cell phone service. We melt snow to have at least something to drink. We cook on open fires under shelling and bombs.
European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said the total exodus now stands at 3.87 million, and half of the refugees are children.
JOHANSSON: Those that are doing the most right now is, of course, Poland, which is hosting more than 1.5 million refugees right now. Of course the other neighboring countries: Romania, Hungary, Slovakia.
She said Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, and Lithuania are also taking in large numbers of refugees.
Biden unveils budget, calling for higher taxes, greater spending » President Biden unveiled his budget blueprint on Monday. It calls for higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy … and more spending on his domestic priorities and on defense.
BIDEN: The budget I’m releasing today sends a clear message to the American people what we value. First, fiscal responsibility; second, safety and security; and thirdly, the investments needed to build a better America.
Biden is proposing a total of $5.8 trillion in federal spending in fiscal 2023.
That would generate a budget deficit of more than a trillion dollars. But the president insists it’s still fiscally responsible because that would be lower than recent deficits.
His budget includes nearly $800 billion for defense, and just over $900 billion for domestic programs. The balance would go to mandatory spending on things like entitlement programs and interest on the national debt.
The proposal includes a top individual tax rate of nearly 40 percent, but he pledged …
BIDEN: Under my plan, as I said, no one making less than $400,000 a year will pay an additional single penny in taxes.
But it also includes a higher corporate tax rate of 28 percent. And critics say consumers ultimately pay corporate taxes in the form of higher prices.
Justice Thomas joins arguments by phone after hospital stay » Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas participated in arguments by telephone on Monday following a hospital stay of nearly a week.
Chief Justice John Roberts said at the beginning of arguments that Thomas would be “participating remotely this morning," but did not say why.
Thomas' voice was clear when he asked several questions during arguments.
Thomas missed all three days of arguments last week while he was hospitalized.
The 73-year-old justice was admitted to the hospital March 18 after experiencing “flu-like symptoms. ” He tested negative for COVID-19 … but was treated for an infection with intravenous antibiotics.
Reporter still detained in Ethiopia » Lawmakers are joining calls for the release of a journalist being in Ethiopia without charges. WORLD’s Anna Johanson Brown has more.
ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff and Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon joined those demanding release of Amir Aman Kiyaro. He is a freelance video journalist for the Associated Press, now behind bars in Ethiopia.
Authorities there arrested Kiyaro and local journalist Thomas Engida in November in Addis Ababa. Police told state media the journalists violated the war-related state of emergency law and an anti-terrorism law. That could lead to sentences of seven to 15 years if convicted.
Authorities claim Kiyaro served a terrorist organization’s purposes by interviewing a member. But the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Ethiopia, says journalists should not be imprisoned for interviewing sources classified as terrorists.
A court is scheduled to review Kiyaro’s case today, and the state must then either formally charge or release him.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johanson Brown.
I'm Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: new fuel standards for cars and trucks.
Plus, serving others.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, CO-HOST: It’s Tuesday the 29th of March, 2022.
Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, CO-HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
First up … fuel economy and driving safety.
Last year, car crash fatalities in the United States rose 12 percent as compared to the same period a year ago.
The Biden administration says it’s prioritizing safety on American roads. But new regulations related to fuel economy could make driving more dangerous. WORLD’s Josh Schumacher reports.
JOSH SCHUMACHER, REPORTER: Late last year, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration—or NHTSA—proposed new “CAFE” standards.
Van Doren: CAFE standards. It's an acronym that stands for “corporate average fuel economy”…
This is Peter Van Doren, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He says these standards basically require car companies to design new cars with a certain fuel efficiency. And they require those car companies to average a certain fuel efficiency across all their vehicle sales. If they sell too many big, not very fuel-efficient cars, and not enough smaller, very fuel-efficient cars, they face consequences—millions of dollars’ worth of consequences.
The government’s CAFE regulations aim to lower the carbon footprint of U.S. automobiles. But Peter Van Doren says that wasn’t their initial purpose.
Van Doren: They were instituted in a law passed in 1975, during the first oil shock… And but anyway, it was a political response to a political problem… Which is what, what are we going to do about gas prices?
An OPEC oil embargo had created a gas shortage in the United States, which raised the price of gasoline. Lawmakers wanted to lower prices and ease the shortage. But to do that, they had to get consumers to use less gas, in part by driving more fuel-efficient cars. But they didn’t think Americans would go along without some kind of incentive.
Van Doren: Instead, Congress needed to pass something because gas prices were high. And we're not going to make consumers pay for it. We're going to make companies do something, right? To respond by making them make cars that are more fuel efficient.
Van Doren says the CAFE standards went into effect, and … nothing really happened. Gas prices dropped during the mid 1980s and on through the ’90s. And, since the political problem of gas prices went away, CAFE standards were basically forgotten… Until 2008. That’s when the United States hit an economic recession. But that’s not what really drove renewed interest in fuel efficiency.
Van Doren: The real shock was not that so much as the Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA that said the EPA had to do something about climate change—about global warming.
CAFE standards were suddenly re-purposed to reduce C-O-2 emissions. And they’ve more or less stayed in place ever since.
But Van Doren says the CAFE standards don’t have much of an effect on C-O-2 emissions. He says it would be more effective to increase the gas tax, which would encourage Americans to drive less. But that’s political suicide.
Van Doren: [Laughs] Because people, people would see the price of gas going up because of a political decision. And they tend to vote negatively about that, particularly if they're Republican. And even Democrats aren't into telling their constituents that the price of gasoline needs to go up to change their behavior.
The CAFE regulations proposed by the Biden administration require all new vehicles together to average 48 miles per-gallon by 2029. But according to the NHTSA, that could have some deadly consequences.
The agency published a Preliminary Regulatory Impact Analysis in October estimating that new vehicle sales will drop by more than 2 percent once the regulations take effect. That’s because more fuel-efficient cars cost more.
But older vehicles aren’t as safe as newer vehicles. So, regulators say having fewer new cars on the road will lead to 1,800 additional deaths, 80,000 more injuries, and almost 300,000 more crashes involving property damage each year.
Although new cars have better safety features, they have one major drawback.
Andrew Nolte is a professor of political leadership at Regent University.
Dr. Nolte: The logic of the argument goes like this, the more you are trying to increase fuel efficiency by essentially making vehicles lighter, so that they can go further on each gallon of gas. And that decreases the weight of the vehicle. And lighter-weight vehicles tend to be a little bit less resistant to damage in crashes.
The NHTSA itself admits that occupants of larger cars are less likely to die in crashes than occupants of smaller cars.
And Nolte says consumers who really want to drive bigger cars will probably continue to demand those vehicles.
Dr. Nolte: There's no real evidence, for example, that if you're the type of person who's likely to buy a pickup truck fuel standards are going to decrease or SUV, changing fuel standards is not going to necessarily change your consumer behavior on that… [Pause] Bottom line is, yes, there is a possibility that traffic fatalities would increase, because of the MPG standards.
No matter what the government regulations say, Andrew Nolte says consumers are still responsible for the choices they make.
Dr. Nolte: Really more what what I think has has an impact is, you know, us as, as believers, and as, you know, consumers, who are believers really thinking through in a responsible way, and making choices of how we're going to spend our money, especially on big ticket items, based on a lot of these factors that come into play. Really, if we're going to solve both the safety issues, and the environmental issues, it sort of comes back to us, you know, making the right decisions and making smart decisions, doing our due diligence, and sort of, I would say, not relying on a government standard to solve the problem for us.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher.
MARY REICHARD, CO-HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: welcoming refugees.
NICK EICHER, CO-HOST: The war in Ukraine is now in week six. An estimated 3.8 million people have fled Ukraine in search of safety. Most of them have gone west into Europe.
And churches across the continent are mobilizing to help.
WORLD’s European correspondent Jenny Lind Schmitt is a member of a church in France where the first bus of Ukrainian refugees arrived yesterday morning. And she joins us now to talk about it.
REICHARD: Good morning, Jenny!
JENNY LIND SCHMITT, CORRESPONDENT: Hi Mary!
REICHARD: Tell us about this particular group of refugees. Where did they come from? and is it mostly women and children as we hear a lot about?
SCHMITT: We've welcomed a group of 27 people. And it's really a mix. We do hear a lot about mothers and children leaving Ukraine. And in our group, we do have that. But there's also a woman traveling with her older parents, and several young women in their 20s, traveling as friends. And then there's a few boys - 12, 14, 16 - traveling with grandmothers. Part of our group is from eastern Ukraine. And then the other part is from a church and Kyiv, their pastor had a direct connection with our pastor.
REICHARD: Jenny, what is your church doing to help get them settled in France?
SCHMITT: We want to provide three things right now: shelter, food, and then help and just learning how to adapt to their new surroundings. How to use public transportation. How to get on the Wi Fi, and where to take walks. We also want to provide Ukrainian community and Christian community. Ukrainian culture is very community oriented. And even for the refugees that didn't know each other before their bus trip here, that time traveling has really knit them together. So it's really important to provide opportunities for them to see each other, speak their own language, and share their experiences. Most of the people that came to us are believers. So we're looking into options to have our worship service translated into Ukrainian or else to live stream a worship service coming from somewhere else.
REICHARD: Getting ready for all these people must have required quite a lot of effort. Tell us about that.
SCHMITT: When our church started praying about this, people started coming forward to say they had a room they could share or an Airbnb that they wanted to open up to refugees. And the number just kept growing every couple days, every week. Our church pulls from kind of a spread out geographical area. So kind of organically, hosts in different areas formed little WhatsApp groups, to talk about things like how to register the kids in local schools, or what steps are required to apply for asylum status in France. And then also just to talk about ways to get people together for social visits. And then we put out a call for people who aren't hosting but who are able to help with translation, with transportation, or teaching French eventually or other needs as they come up.
REICHARD: Who is part of this effort, I’m talking church to church?
SCHMITT: [3:43] As word started getting out that we were going to welcome refugees and through our church, other churches in our region came to us and offered more housing options. So this is something that has turned into a project across several churches in our region. And while that may be a bit of an organizational challenge, it's also a really beautiful thing to see the whole body of Christ working together to take care of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters.
REICHARD: We’ve been talking about church-related efforts here. But what about governments in Europe? Are they working together to deal with this crisis?
SCHMITT: [5:24] yeah, that's that's kind of an interesting question. The EU as a whole has taken a very welcoming stance towards Ukrainians coming in. And each country has provisions concerning refugees. However, what we've found is that even though the law is there, it's taking a while for that to trickle down to local governments, so they know how to handle the situation. France has an official website to sign up to host refugees. But that seems to be moving really slowly. So we found that we're pushing up against kind of the slow wheels of French bureaucracy, and we're trying to get them to move faster. So that's not necessarily a bad thing. In France, this kind of thing is first dealt with on a local level by the mairie, or the town hall. And over the past couple of weeks, we've found that the first time someone goes to their local town hall and asks, what do they need to do about well, to welcome refugees, the office doesn't quite know what to do. But then because of that visit, they check higher up and then a couple days later, they call that person back with the answer.
It's worth noting that while 3.8 million people have now left Ukraine, over the last month, most of them have stayed in Poland and other neighboring countries. Now, people are starting to move further west. So hopefully, we're helping the local authorities figure out the process before the next wave of people comes.
REICHARD: In the last five years or so, we’ve heard a lot about divisions in Europe. How has the war in Ukraine and the resulting refugee situation changed that?
SCHMITT: It's been a huge wake up call for European nations. And there's a really strong desire for democratic countries to work together in the face of this threat from Russia. You really see an about face on defense spending from countries like Germany and Sweden that traditionally have not been spending much of their budget on defense. And when I talk to people about this war and the mass refugee situation, there's this repeated refrain I keep hearing like we thought this was something from the history books. One woman from our church remember stories her mother told her about being a refugee during World War II, and that's actually what moved her to open up her home.
REICHARD: Human nature doesn’t change and our memories are short…any anecdote that comes to mind that you might share?
SCHMITT: Yesterday after their arrival, I had lunch with some of the women who will be going to be staying with my friend and it was this lovely spring day. And one of the women asked if we could eat outside and she said, "The fresh air is so nice. For a month our throats have been sore because of the smoke from all the burning buildings." She's in France with her daughter. And her husband and her 18 year old son have stayed in Ukraine to defend the country and distribute humanitarian aid.
REICHARD: So many family separations … so hard. Jenny Lind Schmitt is our correspondent in Europe. Great to talk to you!
SCHMITT: It’s always great to talk to you, Mary.
NICK EICHER, CO-HOST: A maternity ward at a Florida hospital recently celebrated an unusual delivery. Unusual in the sense that the mother left with her 10 babies, and each of them walked out of the hospital … on his or her own!
Well, to be accurate … they waddled out of the hospital … because that’s what ducklings do.
These ten baby ducks hatched in the courtyard of the hospital. The problem is, the courtyard is enclosed, so the only way out was through the hospital.
Employees guided mama duck and her waddling babies through the hospital corridors.
[duck sounds] Can you keep this door open?
The labor and delivery center later posted to Facebook:
"We're still 'quacking' up over this sweet story. Congrats, Mama! We'll see you in six weeks for your follow-up."
MARY REICHARD, CO-HOST: So cute!
MARY REICHARD, CO-HOST: Today is Tuesday, March 29th.
You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we’re so glad you’ve joined us today! Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, CO-HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
Coming next on The World and Everything in It: supporting veterans and active duty personnel.
Today is Vietnam Veterans Memorial Day. It was first recognized nationally five years ago—in honor of the last U.S. combat troops to leave Vietnam on March 29th, 1973.
REICHARD: There’s a military base near the international airport in Panama City Beach, Florida. So it sees a lot of military members coming through.
On a recent trip through that airport, WORLD Radio reporter Lillian Hamman noticed a military welcome center. She spoke with one of its volunteers.
SOUND FROM AIRPORT
LILLIAN HAMMAN, REPORTER: It’s a late night at the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Panama City Beach, Florida. TSA finishes locking up security checkpoints as a janitor sweeps leftover sand from the beach out the automatic doors. With the restaurants closed, vending machine peanuts suddenly become a five-star meal.
A group of military men headed for Tyndall Airforce base less than 50 miles away wait for their luggage around the baggage claim carousel. Wearing a POW-MIA hat over his white hair and an American flag mask, 84-year old Roger Straley is the first to greet and serve them.
ROGER STRALEY: Thank you, men!
For the last 10 years, Roger has volunteered at the airport’s locally owned and operated military welcome center.
The space is designated free of charge for the Bay County Veterans Council to provide a home for servicemen and women, and their families, as they travel through the world at war.
ROGER STRALEY: We have little piddly snacks and little drinks, cold drinks for them… We have a great supply of books and I show em the books…take some books with you, if you're a reader take the book… they can spend the night there… we have a little separate room with a cot on it…And it's free… So I think it's quite convenient for them. And we enjoy doing it.
Other organizations like the USO offer similar services. But they’re available only to active military members. The welcome center in Panama City is open to everyone with a military connection.
ROGER STRALEY: If you served in the second World War you can come here, you've served Korea, you served in the desert war you can come. We don't care, we're glad to have you.
A Navy veteran himself, Roger is as well-acquainted with airports, as he is sacrifice and service.
ROGER STRALEY: I enlisted in 1957. And I got out in 1977… I enjoyed my 20 years and three days.
Roger served as an aviation electronics technician, helping flight crews and patrol bombers look for submarines. But that wasn’t always the plan.
ROGER STRALEY: Before I went into the Navy I went to the University of Florida for two years, but I was busy drinking beer and they invited me to leave if I didn't make grades in my fourth semester. And I said eh and thought to myself, you can't throw me out because I quit. And I did and went in the Navy, and spent 20 years, and wisened up.
After the war, Roger used his GI bill to finish his bachelor’s degree at Temple University. A masters degree from Tyndall Air Force base’s program with the University of Southern California led him to a long 28-year career working in defense contracting.
While retirement and age prevent Roger from performing the same duties as his active military days—he embraces any opportunity to serve.
ROGER STRALEY: The wife and travel quite frequently...if we're home, we volunteer. She's still doing the turtles quite often. And I'm out here at the airport fairly frequently. And I enjoy doing it.
By “turtles,” he means the turtle watch held at Tyndall to protect the eggs that are laid on the base. And by “at the airport fairly frequently”, he means 5 to 6 days every week.
ROGER STRALEY: You know, they say join the Navy and see the world. And in my case, I did pretty much… There is no place like America. It is just so good… And part of what I do volunteering out here at the Welcome Center is paying back to America for what it has done for me. It is beyond description. We're a land of opportunity. And I'm so grateful to be an American.
And he invites everyone to join him in serving.
ROGER STRALEY: People always need volunteers in whatever they're doing, you know, some worthwhile cause… It's really not hard at all… I'm 84 years old… If I can do it, anyone can do it.
Reporting for WORLD from Panama City Beach, Florida, I’m Lillian Hamman.
NICK EICHER, CO-HOST: Today is Tuesday, March 29th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, CO-HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Here’s WORLD commentator Whitney Williams on the practice of honoring others.
WHITNEY WILLIAMS, COMMENTATOR: When it comes to outdoing one another in showing honor, the exhortation in Romans 12:10, I have to admit, I often feel outdone.
For example, not too long ago I contacted some WORLD friends who live about an hour and a half away from me. I wanted to thank them for their financial support by taking them to lunch.
“Bring your boys!” they said.
“Oh boy,” I thought.
My kids are well-behaved, but I knew they’d have a hard time sitting in a booth for two hours while mama talked business. So I suggested a quick lunch and then asked if we could spend the rest of our time together at the couple’s hobby farm. “Maybe show us some of your leather and woodworking skills, Ron?” I said in an email.
AMBI: Woodcutting and talking [fade under]
Ron did more than show. He and his wife, Cami, had the Williams boys up on stools hammering, sawing, sanding …
I set up that meeting to get to know Ron and Cami, and to say thanks. But these WORLD supporters outdid me in showing honor.
I left their farm that day filled with gratitude. But I have to admit, I don’t always appreciate being outdone. For instance, my sister-in-law consistently hits home runs in the gift-giving department. Her tissue paper’s crisp, she includes a package of batteries with electronic gifts … always gets my kids an extra something on top of what they asked for. And I’m grateful, of course. But oftentimes, as we pack up the car after family Christmas celebrations, guilt and shame overtake me. “Outdone, once again! Why you gotta be so cheap, Whitney? You have GOT to do better on the gifts next time.”
To make matters worse, I’m usually hit with a double-whammie of honor at those family celebrations. My mother-in-law prepares a feast that could feed my family for a week. She takes joy in the preparations, as does my sister-in-law with her gift giving. “So where does that leave me?” I wonder, filling ill-equipped as I scrub dishes in my in-laws’ kitchen. “How could I ever possibly outdo these women in showing honor?”
Cook more on holidays? Spend more on gifts?
But then again, maybe God created, equipped, and called me to fill in the honor gaps elsewhere. Some days, people need a listening ear, a word of encouragement, or free childcare.
AMBI: [0:55] Noisy kids playing [fade under]
These are things I can offer. In fact, today I have three extra kids at my house. And they’re over here so much, I’m starting to wonder if I can claim them as dependents on my taxes. Their working mom just sent me a grateful text. She fears she’ll never be able to reciprocate the honor. I tell her not to worry. I know exactly how she feels. Perhaps God’s created and equipped you to fill in the honor gaps elsewhere, I text her. And then I joke that the Mason jars full of creamy, homemade iced coffee she often brings me more than make up for the tornado of joyful children tearing through my house.
I’m Whitney Williams.
EICHER: Tomorrow: cyber attacks. We’ll find out what tech experts are worried Russia might do next.
And, cherry blossoms! We’ll take you to Washington, where the annual display is on full display.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
REICHARD: And I'm Mary Reichard.
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