The World and Everything in It - March 31, 2022
Museums returning stolen art; the Biden administration’s new rules for asylum seekers at the southern border; and great books to read aloud. Plus: commentary from Cal Thomas, and the Thursday morning news.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!
Museums around the world are starting to return artwork stolen by Nazis 80 years ago.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Also the Biden administration’s new rule to deal with asylum seekers aims to speed up decision making. But will it?
Plus Emily Whitten hosts a round table discussion about reading aloud to children.
And commentator Cal Thomas on an old political trick: changing the subject.
BROWN: It’s Thursday, March 31st. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.
REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Good morning!
BROWN: Time now for the news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Russia bombards areas where it pledged to scale back » It took only hours for Moscow to go back on its word.
Russian forces bombarded areas around Kyiv and another city the day after pledging to scale back operations in those zones to promote trust amid peace talks.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said it does appear Russia has moved a small percentage of its forces to other areas, but not as a good will gesture as Russia claimed.
KIRBY: Our assessment would be, as we said yesterday, that they’re going to refit these troops, resupply them, and then probably redeploy them elsewhere in Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials reported that Russian shelling hit homes, stores, libraries and other civilian sites in and around Chernihiv and on the outskirts of Kyiv.
Russian troops also stepped up their attacks in other parts of Ukraine.
Meantime, President Biden on Wednesday announced that the United States will dispatch another $500 million in direct aid to Ukraine.
The White House said Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymry Zelenskyy in a one-hour phone call that the additional aid was on its way.
Congress earlier this month approved spending up to $13.6 billion on assistance for Ukraine.
U.S. Intel: Putin misled by military, senior advisers » U.S. intelligence officials have determined that Russian President Vladimir Putin is not getting the truth from his top advisers.
White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said Wednesday…
BEDINGFIELD: We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being cripped by sanctions because his senior advisers are too afraid to tell him the truth.
Officials say Putin is now aware of the situation, leading to persistent tension between him and senior military officers.
The Biden administration is hopeful that divulging the finding could help prod Putin to reconsider his options in Ukraine.
The war has ground to a bloody stalemate in much of the country, with heavy casualties and Russian troop morale sinking.
U.S. astronaut ends record-long spaceflight in Russian capsule » A NASA astronaut caught a ride back to Earth in a Russian Soyuz capsule on Wednesday.
AUDIO: Touchdown. Touchdown confirmed at 6:28 a.m. Central Time. Mark Vende Hei and Pyotr Dubrov back home one year after leaving the planet.
Mark Vende Hei spent a U.S. record 355 days at the International Space Station with two Russian cosmonauts and returned to a world torn apart by war.
Vande Hei grinned and waved as he emerged from the capsule.
HEI: Hey hey, hello everybody!
Despite escalating tensions between Washington and Moscow over the war in Ukraine, Vande Hei’s return followed customary procedures. A small NASA team of doctors and other staff was on hand for the touchdown and planned to return immediately to Houston with the 55-year-old astronaut.
Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov said in a live NASA TV broadcast Tuesday that people have problems on Earth. But in orbit “we are one crew.” He said the space station is a symbol of “friendship and cooperation.”
Jackson wins GOP vote, nearly assuring Supreme Court seat » Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson is now all but assured of winning Senate confirmation.
That’s because moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, said Wednesday that she will vote “yes” on Jackson’s confirmation.
Collins said she made her decision after another hour-long conversation with Jackson.
COLLINS: She explained in more detail her careful, thoughtful reasoning. I didn’t always agree with the results that she came up with, but I had no doubt that she applies a very careful approach to the facts of a case.
Collins' support gives Democrats at least a one-vote cushion in the 50-50 Senate and likely saves them from having to use Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote to confirm President Biden's pick.
Finnish court upholds free speech » A court in Finland has unanimously ruled to dismiss hate speech charges against a Finnish politician and a Lutheran bishop for expressing Biblical beliefs about homosexuality.
The Helsinki District Court dismissed charges against Lutheran Bishop Juhana Pohjola as well as Finnish Parliament member and former interior minister, Päivi Räsänen, who told reporters…
RASANEN: I am happy and grateful to God and to all the people who have supported me.
They faced criminal charges for supposed “hate speech” stemming from comments about biblical views on homosexuality.
The court concluded it was not its job “to interpret biblical concepts.”
RASANEN: The court has had to, for the first time, take a stand on whether it is legal or not to cite the Bible and to agree with it.
The court also ordered the state prosecutor to pay more than 60,000 euros in legal costs.
Räsänen, who is being represented by Alliance Defending Freedom International, expressed relief but expects the prosecutor will appeal. She said she is “ready to defend freedom of speech and religion in all necessary courts.”
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: museums reconsider some pieces in their collections.
Plus, something that’s ahead but not immediately straight ahead.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Thursday the 31st of March, 2022.
You’re listening to The World and Everything in It and we’re so glad you are! Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. First up: stolen art.
Museums in Belgium and France recently returned paintings to the heirs of the artworks’ original owners. They were among an estimated 600,000 works of art looted by the Nazis from mostly Jewish-owned homes and galleries during World War II.
REICHARD: Returning those works of art 80 years later is an idea catching on at museums around the world.
WORLD correspondent Bonnie Pritchett reports.
REPORTER: Flowers by Lovis Corinth is being returned to its rightful owners 80 years after it was stolen from a Jewish family in Brussels by the Nazis…
BONNIE PRITCHETT, REPORTER: This Expressionist painting of a tall blue vase brimming with pink roses hung in Belgium’s Royal Museum of Fine Arts for 71 years. But last month, museum staff took it off the wall and packed it for shipment to England where the great grandchildren of its original owners live.
The Belgian museum still has 23 paintings known to have been stolen by the Nazis but whose owners have not been identified.
NEWS REPORT: The government has promised to make the best effort to return art works that were expropriated by the Nazis but it’s not easy to find the actual owners or their heirs…
Thomas Kline explains why. He’s an attorney for Cultural Heritage Partners and has spent three decades restoring stolen art to its rightful owners.
KLINE: Towards the end of World War Two, and after World War Two, the term ‘country to country returns’ was used because it was too hard for the Monuments Men and the other people tasked with dealing with displaced art to return it to the actual families. You can imagine many languages, many laws, very difficult chasing heirs. Obviously, millions of people had died and millions more were displaced…
Many of the items returned to the countries from which they were stolen were eventually absorbed into national art collections.
Even if owners are identified now, there is no international standard for restoring stolen art. Kline says national and local laws often pit claimants against the possessor.
KLINE: But in France, Monaco, Switzerland, if an object is sold in good faith, then the buyer receives title. And after a period of time that title might become incontestable…
And the debate over stolen art isn’t just about World War II. Klein says it has prompted museums in Europe and the United States to reconsider their holdings of ancient relics.
KLINE: Much of Sub-Saharan Africa was stripped of its cultural treasures and artwork during colonial times. And much of that art is in European museums…
Jeff Kloha is chief curatorial officer at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. He noted the obvious example—the excavation of King Tut’s tomb.
KLOHA: And eventually they did end up in Egypt, which I think is the right, the right decision. But, but yes, exactly right. They’re during the colonial period. you know, they were legal excavations at the time, it was a British protectorate or under British control. Nowadays, there's much more concern about being respectful of those ancient cultures, and having those objects displayed and controlled by by the people who are, you know, the heirs, right, the people who, whose traditions they are…
Before the museum opened in 2017, its board of directors hired Thomas Kline to help review the purchase history of every object scheduled for display.
KLOHA: So, that involved going back into, you know, donation paperwork, research into prior history, you know, auction history, any any kind of documentation that we could find, and then research on our own, including, you know, going back to previous owners…
The process revealed thousands of objects purchased between 2009 and 2012 that lacked sufficient documentation. It took a few years to work out the logistics, but the museum eventually returned the objects to Egypt and Iraq.
Kloha says the review also turned up two New Testament manuscripts that legally belonged to someone else.
KLOHA: And then we also, we restored a gospel manuscript that was stolen from Athens University sometime in the 1980s. And subsequently sold twice publicly with by public auction. And then, even as recent as—we currently have it on display actually—a gospel manuscript that was looted from a monastery in Greece in 1917…
Museum representatives plan to return the manuscript to the monastery in October.
But Kloha says some museums in Europe and the United States are not willing to give up their prized displays.
KLOHA: Like the Elgin Marbles at the British Museum, right. So it's, quite obviously, are part of the Parthenon. But the British Museum chooses to hold on to those. So, despite claims from Greece, or requests from Greece, that they'd be returned. So, who actually owns them? Right? And how far back do you trace that…
Pretty far back, in the case of some artifacts. Thousands of years. So why, after all this time, does it matter where these items are displayed?
Monica Dugot is an attorney who worked for Christie’s Art Restitution division. She talked about the real harm done by looting during World War II in a 2016 TED Talk at Yeshiva University.
MONICA DUGOT: This looting wasn’t sideshow to the main genocide, but very much a main part of it. It sought to wipe out a collective culture. It sought to dehumanize. But to continue to deny an original owner now is to continue to deny their very existence and their family’s existence…
Dugout’s work is personal: she’s the granddaughter of Jews displaced from their homes in Austria and Poland. One of her grandfathers and his daughter did not survive the Holocaust.
She says righting past wrongs has future repercussions.
DUGOT: Recovering the past restores humanity. And it’s a vital victory against a Nazi regime that robbed us of so much. It makes the 6 million lost not just a number but gives names and stories back to people and their descendants.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Bonnie Pritchett.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: changing the asylum rules at the border.
Migrants seeking asylum at the U.S. southern border may soon have a decision in months rather than years.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: The Biden administration rewrote asylum rules recently in hopes of speeding up the process. The new procedures will likely take effect in late May. They’ll empower asylum officers to grant or deny claims.
Right now, only immigration judges have that authority at the southern border. Asylum officers only screen migrants and then hand that information off to backlogged immigration courts.
BROWN: Joining us now to talk about what these changes might mean for asylum seekers and U.S. border traffic is Victor Manjarrez. He served for many years as sector chief for the U.S. Border Patrol. Today, he is Associate Director of the Center for Law and Human Behavior at the University of Texas El Paso.
REICHARD: Good morning to you, sir!
VICTOR MANJARREZ, GUEST: Good morning!
REICHARD: Well first of all, again, as of now, asylum officers only handle the initial screening and hand that information off to immigration judges, who are completely overwhelmed. So getting an answer on an asylum claim can take a very long time. What happens in the meantime?
MANJARREZ: Well, you’re absolutely right. It could take years. When you look at the backlog on immigration cases, just a simple immigration case, it's a backlog anywhere from 18 to 20 months right now. So in the meantime, you know, when someone's allowed to petition at the courts here in the United States, they're given what is referred to as an order to show cause. It’s that legal document says you have to go to court. But in the meantime, there's an expectation that they're not going to become a ward of the state, which means that they're going to seek employment, you know, the good productive residents, many people bring with families. So it's, you know, the ability to get people into school. And so they actually start to become part of that society, which is a big risk, because they're not sure if they're gonna win that case or not.
REICHARD: Will this change to asylum rules reduce the numbers of people released within the United States while their cases are decided?
MANJARREZ: It potentially could do that. When you go to an asylum officer, it's that step before the immigration judge that comes back. So there's the ability, but if you look across the board at the criminal justice system, just law enforcement—aside from the homeland security enterprise—people like probation officers, that would have like a very similar role have huge caseloads that they can't manage. And I have not seen where the department Homeland Security has hired the number of asylum officers which would be under the Citizenship and Immigration Services Branch. And so it appears they're gonna try to do that with current staffing, which makes it a huge task and very difficult to complete. And there's a risk. There's a really big risk. You know, what happens when someone really has a bonafide asylum claim? And because the caseload is so heavy on an asylum officer they get a claim denied and that becomes a really tragic consequence.
REICHARD: Do you think the new rules will cut down on the numbers who make asylum claims in the first place?
MANJARREZ: I don’t believe so. What we’ve seen along the border—everywhere from Rio Grande Valley to San Diego—is that what's driving these people is that small hope, there's a small chance. And when these people come up, they're usually the poorest of the poor. The vast majority are economic migrants. And so what we've seen in the last, at least in the last 30-35 years, is that people believe almost anything on that if there's a chance or hope. So I don't see that slowing down. And it's gonna be really problematic because we're seeing, you know, large numbers of migration now. I think it's only going to increase further down the road.
REICHARD: As you mentioned, a lot of the people who make asylum claims come from difficult circumstances, but by the letter of the law, an aim to better one’s life doesn’t count for asylum purposes. Who is supposed to qualify for asylum?
MANJARREZ: Well, exactly right. The vast majority we’ve seen in the last 36 months, or just less than 36 months, about 3% of the people actually qualify for asylum. And usually, the asylum case is based on on some type of persecution—it could be political persecution, sexual persecution, religious persecution—so it's those type of things that qualify someone, not the fact that they're in poverty. Right? Which again, that's that's really the economic migrant, and they will simply fail to qualify.
REICHARD: What is the state of the border crisis overall right now? Better or worse from say a year ago?
MANJARREZ: It’s horribly worse. As you may have heard, Chief Ortiz, the National Chief of Border Patrol, was kind of prepping folks saying that, hey, we're gonna hit a million arrests once the final numbers for March come in. And so it's a million arrests in a six month period. Now, in the history of the Border Patrol, going back to 1925 when they started keeping the stats, they've only hit that number about 18 times. And the high water mark was in 1986, with 1.7 million arrests. They’re already at a million arrests in a six month period. And so they definitely look like they're gonna surpass 2 million. I'd venture to guess, in conjunction with this new asylum process as well as maybe the lifting of Title 42, that we should see a surge and arrests are probably closer to 2.5 million, which is absolutely incredible.
REICHARD: Victor Manjarrez has been our guest today. Thanks so much!
MANJARREZ: Thank you.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: We may have found the perfect gift for your next anniversary.
It’s a fragrance that could make you smell irresistible to your spouse. It’s called Frites By Idaho, and it’s no ordinary perfume.
This “limited-edition fragrance” captures the aroma of something everybody loves—even if we shouldn’t—crinkly, greasy, delicious french fries!
It makes sense, given that the perfume is produced by the Idaho Potato Commission.
The product description states: “Formulated from essential oils and distilled Idaho Potatoes, this fragrance embodies the irresistible essence of potatoes from Idaho.”
But good luck finding a bottle!
1.7oz bottles sold for just $1.89 on the commission’s website and supplies sold out quickly.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, March 31st. Thanks for starting your day with WORLD Radio. Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Last month, our sister publication WORLD Magazine published its annual Kids’ Book Issue. It included a Kids’ Book of the Year and many more recommended books for young readers.
REICHARD: Today, reviewer Emily Whitten brings us part of a recent roundtable with three writers who worked on that magazine issue. They discuss a few books you shouldn’t miss—and how families can learn to love books together through reading fiction aloud. Here’s Emily.
EMILY WHITTEN: Reading a great book aloud or listening to the right audiobook can open new doors of imagination and excitement for families. But maybe, like me, you didn’t grow up reading books out loud. How can busy families get started?
First, you’ll need a few good books. You can find plenty of classics online or at your local library. You could also invest in one of WORLD’s 2022 top kids’ book recommendations. Last week I sat down with Janie Cheaney, Kristin Chapman, and Mary Jackson to talk about a few of our favorites.
If you could only buy one, we recommend Little Pilgrim’s Progress with illustrations by Joe Sutphin. Kristen Chapman starts us off, followed by Janie Cheaney here.
KRISTIN CHAPMAN: The illustrations are just so beautiful. They're going to completely capture younger children's attention, as well as the storyline.
WHITTEN: Janie, agree or disagree?
JANIE CHEANEY: Oh, yeah, I would definitely agree. I haven't read the whole thing. But I have read enough of it. I bought a copy to give to my daughter. And she reads it.
The text of Little Pilgrim’s Progress comes from Helen Taylor’s 1979 adaptation of John Bunyan’s novel. In this 2021 version, Joe Sutphin complements Taylor’s text with a portrayal of Pilgrim and other characters as cuddly woodland creatures. Helen Taylor aims at kids 8-12 years old, but read aloud, this illustrated version can entertain a much wider age range. Here’s reviewer Mary Jackson.
MARY JACKSON: My six year old just loved the fact that there were these furry animal creatures and so it was very rewarding for him but then my older son had read other adaptations of Pilgrim's Progress such as Dangerous Journey, and so he was familiar with the plotline. But just having the added bonus of some pictures to look at and the story retold with animals. He's 13 and that held his attention.
Great read alouds can also grab parents’ attention and enrich their lives. Mary says this book definitely struck a nerve with her.
JACKSON: And it's just one of those where it's a tearjerker and you as a mom have to pause and gather yourself, you know, just thinking of elements of your own walk and faith.
Multiracial churches and families will also note that the book will be just as welcoming for kids of any ethnic background. Janie summed this up to a T.
CHEANEY: That's a good point that the animals sort of create a common ground for everyone.
We also discussed many other books families might want to read aloud. For instance, boys and girls ages 10-14 might appreciate WORLD Kids’ Book of the Year, The Swallows’ Flight by Hilary McKay. It’s set in England and Germany in World War II. The book came out in 2021, but Janie says it has a classic feel. The story begins with two young boys in Hitler’s Germany.
CHEANEY: They become best friends. And even though they're very different, they're both very personable. We just love these boys. You know, we just got so involved with the characters. As Hitler comes to power and bad things start happening, both the boys are very uncomfortable about this. You know, they don't go along with the whole Third Reich ideology, but they both love flying. So they end up flying for the Luftwaffe…
These boys end up crashing their plane in England, eventually colliding with two British girls and a spunky dog.
CHEANEY: What we loved about it was the way that she ties in very commonplace situations. That's a family story. These families are interrelated in Germany and in England.
If you’ve got younger kids, you might check your public library for some of WORLD’s Picture Books of the Year. Kristin Chapman mentioned one called Mel Fell which features a blue bird on the cover taking an intriguing nosedive.
CHAPMAN: The way the author carefully merged the text with the illustrations, and then there's like this unique aspect where you have to turn the book to kind of follow Mel's adventure, it just adds this engaging dynamic to the story, which just makes it a delight to read.
Once you’ve collected good books, find a good time of day or week to make reading together a habit. When our family homeschooled, we often read during meals or snacks. Now I find that the car ride to school offers a captive audience. And occasionally, one of my teens reads to me as I bake cookies or prepare dinner. It can be tricky to find the right book and time that works for your family, but it’s worth some trial and error. Here’s Janie.
CHEANEY: I think I read somewhere that shared reading is shared life. You can talk about the characters. You can talk about what happens in the story and how, you know, how you were affected by it. It's just a great conversation starter. There's so many, so many. so many trends in culture that drive families apart. But reading aloud is something that draws families together. And just for that reason alone, it's worth pursuing even when your kids are teenagers.
One final encouragement—if you feel frustrated or guilty because you feel you’ve failed in this area, ask God for help. During one hard season for her family, Mary says the LORD met their need in a surprising way.
JACKSON: My father-in-law offered to start coming over one night a week, or, you know, in some cases, we would go to their house. And he offered to read aloud to them. And it just, it felt like such a gift and such a present from the Lord that He would offer to do that. And it’s still a precious memory for our kids that he read through several books aloud to them.
Reading fiction aloud enriches our families, and we hope these suggestions might open that door for you and your family, too.
I’m Emily Whitten.
BROWN: To read more about WORLD’s Children’s Books of the year, we’ve placed a link to that issue in today’s transcript. Plus, if you’d like to hear the full roundtable discussion, it’ll be available this weekend on our podcast feed.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Thursday March 31st. 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’re in trouble, change the subject. It’s an old Washington political trick.
When a president’s poll numbers are low and falling; when the economy has produced the worst inflation in four decades and gas prices in some states have reached record highs; when the president claims we should expect food shortages; and when he produces gaffes instead of gas and then refuses to walk them back, even after aides have tried to correct him, change the subject.
While Biden attempts to persuade us that we are experiencing the best economy in decades, we know otherwise. We should not focus on bad things, he tells us, but look to his budget proposal for fiscal 2023! He claims it will lower the deficit and do all sorts of things for us, while imposing a wealth tax on those evil “billionaires” who just haven’t been paying their “fair share.”
I’ll repeat what I’ve said many times before: The federal government is taking in more cash than ever. It’s the spending that produces deficits and grows the debt. Biden never mentions the debt, nor does he think a single government program or agency should be cut or eliminated.
A recent Wall Street Journal editorial suggests Biden’s economic pivot to the left is a bid to “fire-up sullen progressives in November.” No doubt!
The president is again trying to include in this budget monstrosity money to pay for lawyers to assist undocumented immigrants who have broken our laws to get into the country. It’s something he proposed a year ago but couldn’t get through Congress along with the rest of his “Build Back Better” legislation. Hopefully, when Republicans take over one or both legislative branches in the November elections, many of these spending ideas will never again see the light of day.
Two polls demonstrate the deep hole the president has dug for himself and his party. A Gallup poll shows him with the lowest approval rating of his presidency: 40 percent. An NBC News poll found “7 in 10 Americans expressed low confidence in President Joe Biden’s ability to deal with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine…and 8 in 10 voiced worry that the war will increase gas prices and possibly involve nuclear weapons.”
Those impressions are unlikely to reverse before November, especially since progressives hope to use high gas prices to drive us into electric vehicles. On average, those cost $40,000 dollars, a price many Americans can’t afford.
It’s now up to Republicans. They should not just point out the obvious failures of the Biden presidency, but propose solutions to reverse disastrous foreign and domestic policies. Maybe they could call it “walk forward better.”
I’m Cal Thomas.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Tomorrow: John Stonestreet is back to analyze the culture for Culture Friday.
And, a streaming service anomaly. We’ll review a movie the whole family can enjoy with no reservations.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.
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