The World and Everything in It - November 25, 2021
Economists’ hopes and fears for this year’s holiday shopping season; and a visit to Plymouth, Massachusetts, for the celebration of the original Thanksgiving. Plus: commentary from Cal Thomas, and the Thursday morning news.
MRYNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning! Happy Thanksgiving!
And that makes tomorrow Black Friday. We’ll talk to some shoppers and analysts about what this holiday shopping season might hold for the economy.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Plus a trip to Plymouth Rock.
And Cal Thomas on the blessings of giving.
BROWN: It’s Thursday, November 25th. Thanksgiving Day. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
BROWN: Time now for news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Jury returns murder convictions in Arbery trial » Three Georgia men now await sentencing after a jury convicted them of murder on Wednesday in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.
Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley read the verdict.
WALMSLEY: Count one, malice murder: We the jury find the defendant Travis McMichael guilty.
The jury also found the other defendants, Greg McMichael and William Bryan guilty of felony murder.
The convictions carry a minimum sentence of life in prison. The judge may offer the possibility of parole, but the defendants will not be able to receive parole until they have served at least 30 years.
Jurors also convicted the men of aggravated assault and false imprisonment, which carry their own lesser sentences. And they still face federal hate crimes charges in a separate federal trial.
Following the verdict, prosecutor Linda Dunikoski told reporters…
DUNIKOSKI: The verdict today was a verdict based on the facts, based on the evidence. And that was our goal - was to bring that to the jury so that they could do the right thing because the jury system works in this country.
The convictions stem from a shooting in Brunswick, Georgia in February of last year. The three men chased 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery through their neighborhood and confronted him. The defendants said they believed he may have been a burglar and were trying to make a citizen's arrest. A struggle ensued in which Travis McMichael fatally shot Arbery.
Attorney’s for the defendants are likely to appeal Wednesday's verdict.
Disturbing details emerge in Waukesha parade crash case » Disturbing new details are emerging about Sunday’s deadly parade crash in suburban Milwaukee and about the suspect in that case.
During a court hearing this week, Waukesha Court Commissioner Kevin Costello said police believe Sunday’s incident was no accident.
COSTELLO: The nature of this offense is shocking. Actually, the detail I was not expecting here today, that two detectives, not laypeople, detectives not only tried to stop this, but rendered an opinion that this was an intentional act.
Multiple officers said they tried to stop the vehicle, but the suspect ignored them and continued speeding into the parade.
And a social media account reportedly belonging to the suspect, Darrell Brooks Jr. contained racist messages calling for violence against Jews and white people.
The 39-year-old Brooks faces five counts of first-degree intentional homicide. He will likely face another count after an 8-year-old boy died from his injuries on Tuesday.
At the time of the crash, Brooks was out on bail after an arrest in another criminal case and police say he had just left the scene of a domestic disturbance.
U.S. jobless claims hit 52-year low after seasonal adjustments » The number of Americans filing jobless claims plummeted last week to the lowest level in more than half a century. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Jobless claims dropped by 71,000 to 199,000. That’s the lowest level since 1969. But seasonal adjustments around the Thanksgiving holiday did contribute to the bigger-than-expected drop.
Unadjusted, claims actually ticked up by more than 18,000 to nearly 259,000.
The four-week average of claims, which smooths out weekly ups and downs, dropped by 21,000 to just over 252,000. That is the lowest since March last year, before the pandemic slammed the economy.
Overall, 2 million Americans were collecting traditional unemployment checks the week that ended Nov. 13th. That was down slightly from the week before.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
German parties to form post-Merkel government » Germany has a new government. Three parties announced Wednesday they had agreed on a governing coalition with two other parties bringing an end to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 16-year tenure.
Germany’s center-left Social Democrats bested Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats in September elections.
Since taking power in 2005, Merkel led Germany through a global recession and helped negotiate Britain’s rocky withdrawal from the European Union.
In 2017, she called for a vote on legalizing same-sex marriage after supporting only traditional marriage for years. She cast a symbolic “no” vote on the matter in line with her convictions, knowing the law would likely pass anyway. Merkel was raised in East Germany and is the daughter of a Lutheran pastor.
Most major retailers opt to close for Thanksgiving » Most large retailers are closed today, bucking what had been a growing trend in recent years. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has more.
LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: After years of launching Black Friday sales early on Thanksgiving Day, many large chains are once again shutting down for the holiday.
The list of stores closed today includes Walmart, Macy’s, JCPenney, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Academy Sports, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Target has also joined that list and says it plans to permanently remain closed on Thanksgiving.
Target CEO Brian Cornell said “What started as a temporary measure driven by the pandemic is now our new standard.”
Some major chains like Costco, Apple, Home Depot, and Lowe’s never did participate in the recent trend of opening on Thanksgiving. They will also be closed today.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: Christmas shopping.
Plus, gratitude and giving.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Thursday the 25th of November, 2021.
Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up: Black Friday.
Maybe you’ve already started buying Christmas presents. But tomorrow is the official start to the holiday shopping season. How might this year’s spending compare to previous years? WORLD’s Josh Schumacher reports.
JOSH SCHUMACHER, REPORTER: Last week, I stood outside my local big box store on a windy day and asked people about their Black Friday shopping plans.
PERSON: I've actually already done most of my Christmas shopping.
This woman wasn’t just hoping to avoid holiday stress. She was also worried about supply chain issues..
PERSON: Well, that's why I've done all my shopping ahead of time for the big ticket items. Because I was worried that what I'd want wouldn't be there.
But many people told me they weren’t worried about not being able to find what they wanted.
PERSON: No, ‘cause I thought some of the things that I'd already gotten would have problems, but they're not.
But not all shoppers are as confident. Brian Strow is a professor of economics at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
STROW: Well, Black Friday may be more constrained than normal. We do see some consumer prices going up, in some cases fairly dramatically. And so there has been some discussion among some consumers that they may cut back on purpose this holiday season. At the same time, the reason prices are in fact, higher is because people are interested in buying things…
Strow says the main question with this year’s Black Friday is whether the supply chain will be able to hold up.
STROW: I certainly do have some supply chain concerns. Now, a couple of the nation's largest retailers have assured their customers such as Target that they have, in fact, supplies on hand in that they, they don't expect major supply chain concerns going forward. And so that's been reassuring in the last couple of weeks...
But that’s not the case for everybody.
STROW: Nevertheless, there are shortages everywhere, if you're trying to order furniture, or new cars, or frankly, anything with a computer chip, and it is is backordered for months.
Thanks to federal stimulus payments and rising wages, many consumers are flush with cash. Strow says that’s made retailers optimistic about demand. But that won’t matter if they can’t keep store shelves stocked.
And the supply chain isn’t the only concern. There’s also inflation--big time inflation. And Brian Strow says that has consequences for the health of the economy as a whole.
STROW: Well, the economy if anything is overheating, right now we see inflation over five, six per cent--the highest rate, it's been in 30 years. 11 million job openings going unfilled. So if anything, with new spending being proposed from Washington, DC, the economy is running too fast...
Strow says typically, economists worry about too little spending going into the holiday shopping season. This year, it’s very much the opposite. Increased spending will just throw fuel on the inflationary fire. So, for some economists, less spending might not be entirely unwelcome.
Shawn Ritenour teaches economics at Grove City College. He says if consumers are spending money they don’t actually have, that would amplify those inflation issues even more.
RITENOUR: I think, if we end if we increase our spending, and fund that by increasing consumer debt, I think that's a big mistake, because those chickens are going to come home to roost…
Ritenour says the country can’t keep up its current level of inflation forever.
RITENOUR: I mean, things have been able to have been kept afloat, largely because the Federal Reserve has pumped so much money into the economy, and at some point, the Feds gonna say we can't continue this inflation, they're going to have to slow the rate of growth in the money supply. And when that happens, interest rates are going to go up significantly, and a lot of economic activity that has been undertaken will be proved to be built on a house of financial cards.
But Brian Strow says consumers shouldn’t be too worried.
STROW: I think the average person on the street should smile, it's Christmas holiday season, and you should do what's good for you. If times are good in your household, and you have some loved ones you'd like to reward with a gift by all means, don't think twice about doing that.
Back at my local big box store, that’s exactly what most shoppers seem to be doing. One woman told me she planned to keep shopping disruptions in perspective.
PERSON: If I don't find what I need, it's really probably not the end of the world.
Reporting for WORLD I’m Josh Schumacher in Leesburg, Virginia.
EICHER: Well, speaking of the supply side of the price inflation problem in our economy, I’ll suggest a gift idea that suffers precisely ZERO supply chain issues and that’s a subscription to WORLD Watch. That’s our video news for young students. A terrific resource for families, for homeschool families, all families really, and we’re making available our very best price of the year: You can have 6-months of WORLD Watch for just $20—our Black Friday offer at worldwatch.news for a Black Friday price, available right now and into Monday—$20 for six months.
BROWN: Just head over to worldwatch.news anytime between now and Monday, click the orange button in the center of the screen, enter your info, take advantage of the $20 offer to start streaming WORLD Watch immediately and for six full months. That’s worldwatch.news.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Nothing like political pseudo events to lighten the mood, so it falls to me to announce President Biden’s first-ever presidential pardon.
BIDEN: By the power vested in me as president of the United States, I pardon you.
It’s the week of Thanksgiving, so you know what’s coming next.
But give the president some credit, he did get the birds to speak up in their own inimitable way.
BIDEN: I pardon you this thanksgiving. … Go ahead and say something [gobble -- laughs]
The birds hail from Jasper, a small southern Indiana town, interestingly about half an hour’s drive north of the town of Santa Claus, Indiana, but that’s another story for another day.
Schoolchildren in Jasper named the two happy birds Peanut Butter and Jelly, of course.
After departing the White House, the turkeys headed back to Indiana where they will live out the remainder of their lives at Purdue University’s Animal Sciences Research and Education Farm living the academic life.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Thursday, November 25th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your Thanksgiving day.
Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.
Thank you if you’ve made a first-time gift in our November New Donor Drive. If you haven’t yet, I hope you’ll do that today.
We have an added incentive to get to the $40,000 mark, some friends committed that if you can help us get to that level, they’ll chip in a bonus $10,000 as their way of saying thanks and welcome to the team of people who make our work possible!
BROWN: Please head over to wng.org/donate and make your first-time gift today, would you? We’re grateful and excited to add you to that growing number of people who believe in sound journalism grounded in facts and biblical truth. wng.org/donate
EICHER: Coming next on The World and Everything in It: a visit to the birthplace of Thanksgiving.
Last year marked the 400th anniversary of the start of Plymouth Plantation on the shores of the Atlantic. But local officials postponed the quadricentennial celebrations due to COVID. So this year Plymouth, Massachusetts, is making up for lost time.
BROWN: WORLD’s Special Correspondent Sarah Schweinsberg visited the old city earlier this fall with a Pilgrim reenactor and tour guide to find out what the colony was like.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Plymouth, Massachusetts is a bustling seaside village. Bike paths along the shore overlook Cape Cod Bay where fishing boats bob on gentle swells. Tourists walk past colorful clapboard-sided houses, perusing shops and eating lobster rolls.
Of course, things looked a lot different here in 1620. Peter Martin's job is to take people back to that time.
MARTIN: If you have a question, go ahead and ask the questions as we go along.
Martin has been giving historic tours of Plymouth for years. He wears an all-black pilgrim-style outfit with a black cape and a black-brimmed hat shielding his face from the falling rain.
MARTIN: This is a lot warmer than the pilgrims encountered when they came there. I'll tell you that.
He starts his tours by a stream flowing through the center of town called Town Brook.
AUDIO: RUSHING WATER
The rushing, brown brook eventually flows into the ocean. It doesn’t seem all that remarkable, but it’s actually a key reason the Pilgrims decided to settle here.
MARTIN: This stream offered them three things. Not only did it offer them a freshwater source, it offered them fish. In springtime, this is a herring run…
Native Americans showed the Pilgrims how to fertilize their crops with the herring. And the stream offered something else: energy. In 1636, the Pilgrims used the stream’s rushing water to build a corn-grinding mill.
MARTIN: The Town Brook drops 80 feet in under a mile… So they knew that would be a great thing to have.
Martin leads his group of 20 tourists downstream toward the ocean. As he walks he explains that the Pilgrims had another attraction to this location. Instead of thick woods, they found open fields ready for planting.
A village of Wampanoag Native Americans had called this place home up until just a few years before the Pilgrims arrived.
MARTIN: And they had completely died out… And the reason they died was a disease probably around 1615-1616.
They caught the illness from previous European explorers who traveled through the area.
Eventually, the Pilgrims paid other Wampanoag for the land and the two groups entered into a peace treaty. The Pilgrims supplied the tribe with weapons to defend themselves against rival tribes… and the Wampanoag gave the Pilgrims food and knowledge of the land.
MARTIN:It was the longest lasting, lasting peace treaty in the history of the United States, and lasted 55 years. So what we’re going to do is zip up this side street…
Martin comes to a stop on the sandy seashore. There a large white portico with tall pillars stands over a famous landmark: Plymouth Rock. It’s a boulder the size of a bathtub with 1620 engraved on it.
There isn’t rock-solid historical evidence that the Pilgrims actually stepped on the stone when they landed here. But Peter Martin says it’s still important because it represents the Pilgrim’s values of liberty, faith, and equality. He quotes a speech that President Calvin Coolidge gave about Plymouth Rock.
MARTIN: Plymouth Rock marks neither a beginning or an end. It marks a revelation that's without beginning and without end. A purpose, shining through eternity, like a resplendent light undimmed even by the imperfections of men.
From Plymouth Rock, Martin heads to Plymouth Plantation’s first street.
JENKINS: We're going to walk up Leyden street in a little while…
The steep street runs uphill from the shore. It’s where the Pilgrims built their first homes: simple wooden houses with chimneys and thatched roofs.
The Pilgrims called it First Street but the town changed it to Leyden Street in the 1800s. Leyden was the Dutch village the Pilgrims lived in before coming to America.
MARTIN: So Leyden Street was the center of the plantation.
All of the original buildings are gone. But plaques mark who used to live here. Names like William Bradford, Edward Winslow and John Billington. The first structure the Pilgrims built was a common house at the bottom of the hill.
MARTIN: Now a common house was a house not owned by a single family. It was common to the community. But they were all living on the Mayflower. And they needed a place to start offloading some of them from Mayflower.
Another house at the bottom of the hill belonged to Samuel Fuller.
MARTIN: He was the physician on the Mayflower.
A little further up the street lived John Carver and his wife. But they both died in the Spring of 1621... soon after the house was built. So it went to their servant, John Howland who married Elizabeth Tilley. The couple would have 10 children. Today, two million Americans can trace their lineage to the Howlands.
MARTIN: You know some of his descendants. George W. and George H. W. Bush… Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a descendant of John Howland. Teddy was too.
At the top of Leyden Street, Martin points out another famous landmark.
MARTIN: Now, if you look to the right, this is Burial Hill.
Burial Hill is one of the oldest cemeteries in the country.
MARTIN: A number of the Pilgrims are up there. William Brewester, William Bradford, John Howland…
Before it was a cemetery, it was the site of the colony’s two-story fort. The hill offered the highest point to overlook the town and the bay.
JENKINS: You’ve got to remember the British were at war with the French at the time the Pilgrims came here, so they wanted to make sure they could defend themselves.
As Martin tries to give people an idea of what it was like to be a Pilgrim first arriving on these shores… visitors take home different lessons.
Many like Nick, a 20-something, have never really learned about the Pilgrims.
NICK: I'm from Massachusetts, I've been here my whole life. I don't even think like, I, I haven't actually came here before.
He was inspired by the Pilgrims’ ability to carve a life out here with the help of the Native Americans.
NICK: So just being able to be more, I guess, self-reliant, I think is a quality that I think people should be more focused on today, rather than having to, you know, get everything around them to make their life easier.
Other tourists like Ingrid look back at the colony and recognize how it helped shape her world today.
INGRID: They wanted freedom. And so they came here. And they found it. And you know, they wanted a bottom up government, not a top down government. And so they were able to establish their own government. So I give them all the appreciation for their courage and their faith and their strength, for coming here and doing what they needed to do under the most incredible odds.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, November 25th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.
Commentator Cal Thomas now with some thoughts on gratitude during difficult days.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: For some, this Thanksgiving—like last year—is a more difficult occasion than previous ones. Perhaps you lost a loved one to Covid-19. Or maybe you feel isolated from relatives and friends due to lockdowns, quarantines, travel restrictions, vaccinations (or not), masks and “distancing.” Maybe you think you have little to celebrate or be thankful for.
What we regard as the first Thanksgiving was recorded in 1621 after the Pilgrims’ first harvest. They faced many challenges, including the loss of friends and family who died on the treacherous journey from England. Others succumbed to disease after they arrived. Still, these adventurous explorers thanked God for their survival and for the religious and other freedoms they believed they now had. Gratitude in the midst of such circumstances should be a model for us, who are many times more blessed.
At Thanksgiving we are supposed to be thankful for what we have received. But Jesus told his followers to think more about what they give to others. During the Sermon on the Mount he said, “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Those who make a practice of giving to others, especially people in need, understand why he told us to love our neighbors sacrificially.
On the other hand, our culture tells us we are entitled to certain benefits and deserve them. The focus is on receiving, not giving. There is little gratitude that comes from receiving what one deserves. But giving brings much happiness, especially when we give to those who cannot reciprocate. The rewards last far longer than overeating at the Thanksgiving table. Giving might take the form of something material, like food, or help with a rent payment. Or it could be something as simple as a phone call or note telling someone you are thinking about them and how much they matter.
When President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day celebration in 1863, the nation was torn apart by the Civil War. In spite, or perhaps because of that tragedy, Lincoln ended his proclamation with this: “And I recommend to (the American people) that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
That seems to be as relevant today as it was then, since we also are torn apart by a social and political “civil war.” But we still have much to be thankful for. Let’s demonstrate our gratitude by giving to others.
I’m Cal Thomas.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: Culture Friday. We’ll check in with John Stonestreet and ask for his reflections on how he’s thankful in the good and bad in American culture.
And, we’ll suggest some Advent resources the whole family can benefit from this Christmas.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.
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As the Psalmist says, Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.
Go now in grace and peace.
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