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The World and Everything in It - October 18, 2021

WORLD Radio - The World and Everything in It - October 18, 2021

On Legal Docket, the Boston Marathon bomber’s death sentence challenge at the Supreme Court; on the Monday Moneybeat, the latest economic news; and on History Book, significant events from the past. Plus: the Monday morning news.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

Lower courts set aside the Boston Bomber’s death sentences, but the government now appeals. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyer argues otherwise.

NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Legal Docket.

Also today, the Monday Moneybeat. Headline after headline on inflation in the economy, we’ll talk about it with financial analyst David Bahnsen.

Plus the WORLD History Book. Today, the 55th anniversary of a devastating accident in Wales.

REICHARD: It’s Monday, October 18th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!

REICHARD: Time now for the news with Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: New vaccine mandates now in effect » New COVID-19 vaccine mandates are now in effect in numerous states and cities.

As of this week in Massachusetts, unvaccinated state government workers face disciplinary action up to and including termination.

In San Francisco, nearly 200 unvaccinated workers at police, fire, and sheriff’s departments could also lose their jobs. In Chicago, vaccine holdouts in city government must now either get the shot or get twice weekly tests on their own dime.

But GOP Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says while he believes in the vaccines, he does not believe in mandates. He told NBC’s Meet the Press they’re counterproductive.

HUTCHINSON: The whole debate on manatees takes away from the efficacy of the vaccines themselves and our push to increase vaccination rates.

And fellow Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis says the state of Florida will fight the Biden administration’s push to impose mandates on private companies.

DESANTIS: We are going to contest that immediately. We think the state of Florida has standing to do it. And we also know businesses that we’re going to work with to contest it.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, better known as OSHA, would enforce the mandate. That’s the federal agency in charge of regulating workplace safety. The mandate would impact about 100 million workers.

House panel to vote on recommending charges against Bannon » A House committee will vote tomorrow to recommend charges against Steve Bannon. The former Trump adviser has defied a subpoena from the Select Committee probing the Jan. 6th Capitol riot.

Bannon has claimed the Trump administration’s executive privilege shields him from such a subpoena, though he worked for the administration years before the riot.

President Biden over the weekend said he fully supports action against Bannon.

BIDEN: I hope that the committee goes after him and holds him accountable.

The House panel is expected to recommend criminal contempt charges to the Justice Department. It will have final say over prosecution.

Even if the department does prosecute, the process could take months, if not years. And such contempt cases are typically difficult to win.

Bill Clinton released from Calif. hospital » Former President Bill Clinton is recovering at his home in New York today. That after doctors released him from a Southern California hospital on Sunday.

The 75-year-old checked into University of California Irvine Medical Center last week. An aide to Clinton said he had a urological infection that spread to his bloodstream but was on the mend and never went into septic shock.

He left Sunday morning with Hillary Clinton by his side, stopping on the way out to shake hands with doctors and nurses lined up along a sidewalk.

When a reporter asked how he was feeling, the former president gave a thumbs-up.

Gang kidnaps missionaries in Haiti » A gang in Haiti is accused of kidnapping 17 missionaries from a U.S.-based organization, including a 2-year-old.

Edward Graham works with Samaritan’s Purse, which provides aid in Haiti. He said on Sunday...

GRAHAM: This is pure evil, and you have to do something about evil and you have to take a stand. But it’s my prayer for these missionaries right now that God will deliver them safely and peacefully, and I’m praying for the kidnappers.

He said he’s praying the kidnappers will know their mistakes but also “fear what may come from the U.S. government.”

Gangs continue to terrorize the poverty stricken country. Police say the 400 Mawozo gang is to blame for the abductions. The same gang recently kidnapped a group of priests and nuns.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: the Supreme Court reconsiders the Boston Marathon bomber’s death sentence.

Plus, a famous whale makes its literary debut.

This is The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s Monday morning and a brand new work week for The World and Everything in It. Today is the 18th day of October, 2021. Good morning to you, I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. It’s time now for Legal Docket.

Before we get to today’s arguments a quick note about President Biden’s Supreme Court commission.

Back in April, President Biden created the commission by executive order. The commissioners’ task: to analyze arguments for and against changes to the Supreme Court. Things such as the number of justices, the length of time they serve, and how the court chooses cases.

The commission released its draft findings last week.

EICHER: Perhaps not surprisingly, the initial findings said the commissioners are divided on the question of court expansion … and so seemed to be edging against recommending it.

As far as term limits: The commissioners noted that replacing life tenure for justices with an 18-year limit had the most widespread and bipartisan support.

The final report isn’t expected until the middle of next month.

REICHARD: Alright. Well, while I was away last week, my colleague on the Legal Docket Podcast did the heavy lifting. WORLD legal reporter Jenny Rough is here with today’s update. Good morning, Jenny!

JENNY ROUGH, REPORTER: Good morning, Mary!

Today, I’ve got two oral arguments the justices heard this month. The first arises from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Two brothers detonated the bombs near the finish line. Three spectators bled to death. Including an 8-year-old boy. The bombs also maimed hundreds of others. Victims lost limbs, their sight, their hearing.

And of course there was a lot of media coverage and that matters in this case.

REICHARD: Yes, it does. As for the perpetrators, the brothers: the older one died during a shootout with police. With regard to the younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, police arrested him, he went on trial, was found guilty and sentenced to death … as well as several life sentences. The appeals court tossed out his death sentence. And the government is arguing that it ought to be reinstated.

ROUGH: So here are the two questions the Supreme Court agreed to look at here:

First: did the jury selection process violate Tsarnaev’s constitutional rights.

Before the trial began, the potential jurors went through a process called voir dire. A legal phrase that means “to speak the truth.” The judge, the prosecutor, and the defense lawyer ask questions of the jurors to see if they’re biased or if there’s a reason why they shouldn’t serve. Questions like: Do you understand the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Or: How do you feel about the death penalty?

And those questions get more personal as lawyers learn about prospective jurors.

For example, in this case, one worked at Mass General as a telecoms engineer. On duty the day of the bombings. So the defendant’s lawyer asked: Did you see anything? Go to the emergency department that day?

Another potential juror purchased a Boston Strong t-shirt for a nephew. The defendant’s lawyer asked: What does that phrase mean to you?

You get the idea. A fascinating process. And jury selection in this case took 21 days.

One of the questions the defendant’s lawyer wanted to ask centered on media coverage. What stood out in a juror’s mind? But the trial court didn’t allow it.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor seemed concerned about that. Here she questions attorney for the government, Eric Feigin:

JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR: The court permitted people to tell how much they had read. A little, a lot, or a moderate amount. But it didn't permit questioning as to what kind of publicity, because there was a whole lot of different publicity here. There was publicity on the day of the event. There was publicity the days after. There was publicity about what major politicians and others were suggesting the punishment should be. There were interviews of victims. … And the government objected when counsel attempted to elicit that kind of information.

ERIC FEIGIN: As to the different kinds of publicity, Justice Sotomayor, they didn't request any questions asking whether jurors had seen specific types of publicity. And I think the reason they didn't do that is because they didn't want to focus the jurors on those kinds of things, like what opinions people might have expressed about the death penalty—

SOTOMAYOR: So what’s wrong with the one question they wanted to ask, what stands out in your mind about all that publicity? That seems like a totally appropriate question to me.

ERIC FEIGIN: I think a question like that is unlikely to be particularly useful in a case like this because everyone saw the same coverage, so they were all going to say the same things: the carnage at the finish line, the chase in Watertown, the killing of Officer Collier. 

SOTOMAYOR: If you ask a juror that and the juror says, I listened to Victim X and that has haunted me, that certainly would be information relevant to a defense attorney and even to the prosecution.

So that’s one question the court will consider: Did the district court make a mistake with that voir dire process in jury selection?

The second question had to do with the penalty phase and that’s one of two phases in death-penalty cases. First comes the trial: innocent or guilty? And then, if guilty, what punishment?

That’s the penalty phase and during that, the law allows a defendant to introduce mitigating evidence. Reasons why the defendant shouldn’t receive the death penalty. For example, he could introduce evidence that his older brother was bigger, more aggressive, controlling. And that unduly influenced him.

Tsarnaev did get to introduce some evidence like that. But not all he wanted.

For example, two years before the Boston Marathon bombing, somebody murdered three people in nearby Waltham, Massachusetts. Police never solved that crime. But one of the suspects turned out to be Tsarnaev’s older brother, his name is Tamerlan Tsarnaev. A friend of Tamerlan accused him of being the killer. During an interrogation at the accuser’s home, an altercation broke out and an FBI agent ended up shooting him dead.

The written statement of that friend wouldn’t be allowed at a regular trial. It’s considered hearsay, considered unreliable … because the friend cannot be called into court and questioned. He’s dead now.

But at the penalty phase for the younger Tsarnaev, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, he argued it should be allowed—as mitigating evidence that young Dzhokar was under the control of brother Tamerlan, a cold-blooded, experienced killer.

But the trial court wouldn’t allow it. And Justice Elena Kagan seemed to disagree.

JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN: This court let in evidence about Tamerlan poking somebody in the chest. This court let in evidence about Tamerlan shouting at people. This court let in evidence about Tamerlan assaulting a former student, a fellow student, all because that showed what kind of person Tamerlan was and what kind of influence he might have had over his brother. And yet, this court kept out evidence that Tamerlan led a crime that resulted in three murders?

FEIGIN: And this is very unreliable evidence because Todashev had every incentive to pin this entire thing on Tamerlan, who at that point was already dead and they knew they were looking for him.

Ginger Anders represented Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. She argued such evidence only needs to be minimally reliable. That Tsarneav didn’t have the chance to present that evidence had a profound effect. But Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out allowing such evidence could lead to a trial within a trial.

CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: It would focus debate on something that the district court determined really just couldn't be resolved. There were no witnesses available. They were both dead. And he concluded that that would require—I don't know if he used the term or not—but a mini-trial, certainly, a detour into something that, at the end of the day, there was no basis for resolving. It isn't a question of, you know, who do you believe. It's they're both dead, and they're not there.

Anders later said the sibling relationship in this case is similar to the two DC snipers.

GINGER ANDERS: This is powerful mitigating evidence that showed that Dzhokhar was indoctrinated at the instigation of his brother. I think we know that influence and leadership are incredibly powerful mitigating concerns because of what happened in the D.C. sniper case. We know that that was a situation similar to here, where Lee Malvo was a teenager at the time he committed the offense, and he was radicalized at the behest of an older man. I think that is what could have happened to Dzhokhar here if this evidence had been permitted in.

Well, the last argument today involves a prisoner convicted of murder, Ervine Davenport. At his jury trial, authorities had him shackled at the waist, wrists, and ankles. Some jury members noticed those shackles, others didn’t. Both sides agree those visible restraints violated his constitutional right of due process. They don’t agree whether that violation is merely a harmless error. Davenport says he’s entitled to a new trial. But the other side says, he’s not because the shackles didn’t affect the jury’s verdict. Here, Justice Brett Kavanaugh questions Davenport’s attorney:

JUSTICE BRETT KAVANAUGH: What about the fact that all the jurors testified that the shackles did not influence the verdict?

TASHA BAHAL: This Court has made clear that relying on juror testimony as to whether the effect of shackles affected their verdict is unreliable. Because a juror will not always be aware of the effect of seeing a defendant in shackles. It has sort of a subconscious effect on the jurors.

The question in this case: What legal principles apply to determine whether the error was in fact harmless?

And that’s this week’s Legal Docket. I’m Jenny Rough.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: We recently told you about a painting called “Girl with Balloon” from the mysterious artist known as Banksy. It fetched top dollar at a Sotheby’s auction.

AUCTIONEER: And sold for 860 thousand. [gavel]

But Banksy is known for, well, let’s call them pranks. And soon after the painting sold, we learned the frame was rigged with a shredder.

AUDIO: [beeping, reaction]

Well, that painting, with its shredded lower half hanging below the frame was retitled and placed back on the auction block.

It’s been re-titled to “Love Is in the Bin” and it's even more valuable now. Just how valuable? Well...

AUCTIONEER: 15 million, 750 thousand pounds.

The bidding war continued, and the final sale price:

Just over $25 million U.S. dollars.

We don’t think the frame is rigged up for any further destruction, but the buyer might want to keep his receipt just in case.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: the Monday Moneybeat.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Financial analyst and adviser David Bahnsen joins us now for our weekly conversation and commentary on markets and the economy. David, good morning.

DAVID BAHNSEN, GUEST: Good morning, Nick, good to be with you.

EICHER: Looking at the Wall Street Journal’s “Economy” page, let me run down the headlines, from top to bottom, the first four: “Inflation to last well into next year,” “Inflation sets off alarms around the world,” “Largest cities had some of the lowest U.S. inflation rates,” “Maybe productivity will save investors from inflation.”

Again, those are the top four, skipping toward the bottom now—“Fed official sees risks of more persistent inflation,” “Fed worried about inflation risk,” “Accelerating inflation spreads.”

I think you get the picture.

BAHNSEN: Well, I don't know how anybody couldn't be talking about these price increases. I mean, it's in everybody's face. I think the stuff on the Fed is somewhat amusing because the headlines don't match what the stories say, time and time again. The people that matter at the Fed, which is essentially a person and his name is Jay Powell, has said that they believe the price increases aren't to be transitory, and very specific to the supply chain disruptions. And he's also repeatedly said that they don't believe the quantitative easing is causative in inflation. I think he's definitely right about that.

The issue, though, on the price increases, is an incredible failure of policy. I think a lot of people on the right from a political standpoint, will want to pin it on increased government spending. And they may get a little political traction out of that, although it's a wrong narrative. But the price increases that we're suffering from, I don't think American people care what's causing it, I think that they care about the fact that stuff costs more.

And to the extent that there's a supply shortage of various things that pushes prices up, when ports aren't open, running at full capacity, when ships are backlogged to get into ports to drop off cargo, when there are inadequate amount of drivers to take stuff on trucks away from ports, to take stuff to destinations, from factories, to warehouses, up and down the supply chain, most notably and felt is in semiconductors, but now really, across the board.

As you know, I have a book coming out in a couple of weeks, and I'm talking to my publisher every day, because Amazon is changing release dates on 20 titles an hour, because they're not getting into Amazon from the publishers on time as a result of this backlog. And so those things naturally push prices higher and cause incredible pain in the economy. And so it's a very real story.

It is not what people generally mean by inflation. By inflation, people usually mean the dynamic that takes place when prices go higher, because of too much money chasing too few goods. That's not exactly what's going on here. But if it looks and feels like inflation, those economic nuances aren't going to matter much to real people.

EICHER: You mentioned the supply-chain disruptions, ports not operating at full capacity: What do you think about the government’s push last week to open up the Port of Los Angeles fully to operate round-the-clock and clear out the cargo backlogs? That seemed to be the big story of the week, just saying, hey, get this port open 24-hours-a-day.

BAHNSEN: Well, of course, that port should be open 24 hours, the federal government doesn't have jurisdiction over it. So they can come in and ask them, and pretty-please ask them. And pretty, pretty pretty, please ask them. But why in the world was a port not open 24 hours already? Are there union issues? Are there other dynamics that we don't know about?

It is unbelievable to me that, given the problems we've had that didn't start this week, they started months ago. And the fact that made news that the White House was asking that port to open 24 hours, did not make news because they were asking them. It made news because I couldn't believe it hadn't been open 24 hours. And so I would imagine it comes down to labor shortage, they didn't have adequate supply of personnel to rotate the shifts that you need with 24 hours.

You know, at the end of the day, I don't think that there's one simple solution, I think it really is a calamity of errors across the board. But there's nothing the White House can do about this. They can get some press and say some things but ultimately, you have a combination of events that are gonna have to play out in a lot of different localities.

EICHER: Well, before we go, what in your view was the most important storyline of the week that we ought to be paying attention to?

BAHNSEN: I actually think you could argue it was the jobs numbers because it does feel to me now that we're getting here into October a bit, we had our lowest initial weekly jobless claims numbers it was well below 300,000—it was about 30,000 better than expected. You had the continuous claims number come in and the lowest didn't come in at. And then you saw retail sales went higher everyone expected they were going to be lower. 

There's a pile-on of data now, I mean, now it's just sort of rubbing the doomsayers’ noses in it a little about how little of an impact Delta actually had on societal behavior. The Delta variant with COVID did not become the job killer did not become the economic activity killer. It definitely became fodder for a lot of I think somewhat unproductive policymaking, but it does appear that human economic activity was able to advance through COVID reasonably unscathed, and that's that's a big story for the week. And you know, it's the middle of the month but as far as weekly economic indicators go, this was a pretty good week.

EICHER: David Bahnsen, financial analyst and adviser. He writes at dividendcafe.com. David, grateful as always.

BAHNSEN: Thanks so much.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything In It: The WORLD History Book. Today, a tragedy in Wales, a mob boss fails, and Captain Ahab sails. Here’s senior correspondent Katie Gaultney.

KATIE GAULTNEY, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: One hundred and seventy years have passed since Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick breached the literary scene, first published as The Whale. Captain Ahab and his motley crew debuted on October 18th, 1851.

MOBY-DICK: Call me Ishmael. Some years ago--never mind how long precisely--having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little...

Those are the opening lines to the classic tale, read by Stewart Willis for Librivox.

Melville’s publisher offered him £150 and half the book’s profits. But, that didn’t amount to much, since the book didn’t exactly fly off the shelves. Richard Bentley’s London publishing house only sold about 300 copies in the book’s first four months. In fact, it was a flop, and went out of print during Melville’s lifetime.

Geoffrey D. Sanborn is an English professor at Amherst College. He has a special interest in Melville. He said that because Melville was self-taught, critics of the day didn’t take him seriously.

SANBORN: … think about him as somebody who was this sort of DIY writer who figured it out on his own, didn’t have formal education, made it up as he went along, and when he’s 31 wrote this amazing book, Moby-Dick.

But 1920s-era readers dusted off old copies and dove in, leading to what became known as the “Melville Revival.” By now, the book has been adapted for film, stage, TV, radio, and children’s books, and it’s been translated into dozens of languages.

And from the high seas to high crimes.

As head of the notorious Chicago Outfit gang, mobster Al Capone was known for bootlegging, racketeering, womanizing—and his love for jazz and expensive clothing. And what a fortune he had—an estimated $100 million net worth at the height of his criminal empire.

But on October 17th, 1931, he became known for failing to pay his taxes. Federal authorities finally got some charges to stick to the mob boss, putting him behind bars for 22 counts of tax evasion.

Federal prosecutors noted that mob figures led lavish lives but never filed tax returns. Biographer Jonathan Eig explains in a Ken Burns documentary.

EIG: The income tax was a fairly new phenomenon. A lot of people didn’t understand it, and if you’re a criminal, and all your income is illegally gained, it makes sense that you’re not going to file a return and admit that you’re taking in all this illegal income. Tell the government basically, “In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been bootlegging for the last year and here’s how much I made!”

Convicting mobsters for tax-evasion was a sort of loophole…the feds could put the bad guys behind bars without a need for hard evidence or testimony about their other crimes.

U.S. District Judge James Herbert Wilkerson sentenced Capone to 11 years in federal prison.

In prison, the effects of syphilis ravaged Capone’s brain, and he spent the last year of his sentence confused and deranged in the hospital unit at Alcatraz. He died of heart failure at age 48 in Florida, a few years after his release.

And we’ll close with a tragic anniversary.

It’s been 55 years since a mining accident that killed 144 people—the vast majority of those schoolchildren. A slurry of waste from the mining process cascaded like a landslide onto the small village of Aberfan, Wales, on October 21st, 1966.

A British newsreel from the time describes the rescue efforts.

NEWSREEL: These men are miners. Their children were buried in that mud. Mud almost filled the classrooms. With shovels, if necessary with bare hands, they pitted themselves against the uncounted tons of slimy filth…

The coal waste repository was a sort of man-made mountain that sat atop a natural spring. A period of heavy rainfall in the area led to the sudden collapse of the mountain-like structure, with black sludge burying buildings and hitting the junior school especially hard.

Marjorie Collins lost her 9-year-old son in the collapse. On the 50th anniversary of that loss, she spoke to ITV News, reflecting on how the accident wiped out a generation.

COLLINS: Before the disaster you could always hear children outside playing. And for a couple of years after, you couldn’t hear a thing.

Parliament convened a tribunal to investigate. Tribunal members determined blame rested with Britain’s National Coal Board, calling out several individuals in particular. They called for new safety standards in mining.

Jeff Edwards was 8 years old on that day. He was the last child to be pulled from the rubble alive. He spoke to ITV 50 years later..

EDWARDS: Most of my friends in my class died, so our childhood was over on that day at 9:15, and basically we were happy go lucky children looking forward to the half-term holidays, and at 9:15, our childhood stopped.

A memorial garden now marks the spot of the disaster.

SONG: “The Miners Hymn,” performed by The Black Dyke Band

That’s this week’s History Book. I’m Katie Gaultney.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: Why are so many young men not going to college? We have a report on some of those reasons.

And, China’s war games. We’ll talk about Beijing’s latest moves against Taiwan.

That and more tomorrow.

I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.

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

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

Jesus said: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.

Go now in grace and peace.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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