The World and Everything in It: October 31, 2023
Israel expands its ground operations in Gaza amid calls for a cease-fire, Guatemala’s president-elect faces obstacles, and a bug festival for kids and collectors. Plus, commentary from Andrew Walker and the Tuesday morning news
PREROLL: The World and Everything in It is made possible by listeners like us. I'm Rebecca Cameron from Southern California. And my mom, Wendy Freeman, introduced me to this wonderful program. Thanks mom. As a stay at home, homeschool mom I like to listen while I wash dishes or sort laundry. It's important to me to know how to pray for our country and our world. My kids usually enjoy an episode of WORLD Watch over lunch. I hope you enjoy today's program.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning! Israel expands the war in Gaza amid growing calls for a ceasefire, and it’s splitting longtime Democrats from young progressives.
AUDIO: People who are calling for a ceasefire now do not understand Hamas.
NICK EICHER, HOST: We’ll talk it over with a former member of the national security council. Also today: political upheaval in Guatemala. And a bug festival in Virginia.
AUDIO: Here's a chance for people to actually see for themselves, the real thing. How big it is.
And the predictable overreaction to Speaker of the House Mike Johnson.
BROWN: It’s Tuesday, October 31st. 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: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Israel » Fighting continues to intensify in Gaza.
SOUND: [Fighting in Gaza]
Israeli troops and tanks are pushing deeper into Gaza … advancing on two sides of the territory’s main city.
Israel says its forces are successfully cutting down Hamas leaders.
And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is rejecting calls by some global leaders for a ceasefire.
NETANYAHU: Just as the United States would not agree with a ceasefire after the bombing of Pearl Harbor or after the terrorist attack of 9/11, Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas after the horrific attacks of October.
And the White House continues to back him up on that point. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby:
KIRBY: We believe that a ceasefire right now benefits Hamas. And Hamas is the only one that would gain.
Gaza aid » The White House has voiced support for more limited humanitarian pauses in certain places to allow aid to reach civilians in Gaza.
And more truckloads of aid arrived at a hospital in Gaza on Monday.
SOUND: [Truck noise and horn]
Though aid workers say it’s not nearly enough.
John Kirby said Israel has agreed to support a significant increase in the flow of aid into Gaza.
Hostages » Hamas leaders released a short video Monday purporting to show three women captured during its Oct. 7th attack inside Israel. One of the women delivers a brief statement, likely under duress, criticizing Israel’s response to the hostage crisis.
Militants captured hundreds of people during the attacks in Israel. They’ve said they will release them in return for thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
Those include some militants implicated in the terrorist attacks. Israel has dismissed the offer.
Ukraine support » Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova is making the case once more for approving more military aid to her country.
MARKAROVA: We need to sustain the effort. We need to continue liberating our land and our homes from the brutal aggressors. We need to defend ourselves with US air defense.
The White House is asking for more than $100 billion dollars in supplemental funding to include aid for Israel and Ukraine, among other things.
And Senate leadership is unified on doing whatever it takes to back Ukraine. GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:
MCCONNELL: And the path toward greater security for all of us is simple; help Ukraine win the war.
House Speaker Mike Johnson wants to separate aid to Ukraine from other measures.
He says that will provide more transparency and give Congress more oversight over how that money is spent.
Student Loan Billing Errors » For millions of Americans, the restart of student loan payments this month after a long pandemic-era pause has been an administrative mess. WORLD’s Josh Schumacher has more.
JOSH SCHUMACHER: The Department of Education says the organization it contracted to service student loans nationwide has dropped the ball in a major way.
The Department says the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority—or MOHELA—sent bills out late to two-and-a-half-million borrowers, causing many to miss the payment deadline.
And the Education Department now is punishing MOHELA, saying it will permanently withhold a $7 million dollar payment for billing services in October.
It’s also ordering MOHELA to give all affected borrowers forbearance until the problem is fixed.
For WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher.
UAW deals » Autoworkers have put down their picket signs after the union struck a tentative labor deal with GM, likely ending the six-week strike.
Like the recent Ford and Stellantis agreements with the United Auto Workers union, the GM deal would reportedly give workers a 25% pay raise over several years along with improved benefits.
Union members still have to vote to approve the agreements.
Biden AI » President Biden is moving to give federal agencies more oversight over the development of artificial intelligence.
BIDEN: With today’s executive order I’ll soon be signing, I’m determined to do everything in my power to promote and demand responsible innovation.
The order will require companies developing A-I programs to share safety test results and other data with the government.
It is part of a broader plan to regulate AI that includes new legislation in Congress … and cooperation with governments around the world.
I'm Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: Policy and propaganda on the ground in Gaza. Plus, A bug festival to remember.
This is The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 31st day of October, 2023. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. First up on The World and Everything in It: Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza.
On Saturday, three weeks after the genocidal attack on October 7th by Hamas militants, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that ground forces would expand operations in the Gaza Strip.
EICHER: The Israeli Defense Force, the IDF, was expected to move in shortly after the initial attack, but held off until now for humanitarian reasons and to try and negotiate the release of hostages and likely for reasons of logistics as well.
BROWN: Joining us now to talk about it is Will Inboden. He’s a former member of the National Security Council under President George W. Bush. Now he’s a professor at the University of Florida, and a columnist with WORLD Opinions.
EICHER: Will, good morning to you.
INBODEN: Good morning, Nick, great to be with you.
EICHER: Well, let’s start with the timing of Israel’s ground offensive. Will, we mentioned three possibilities for the three-week delay. Do you think those are sound? Would you add or subtract any, or emphasize one over any of the others?
INBODEN: Yeah, you know, the Israeli leadership is for very understandable reasons, being very careful about not revealing a lot of their own internal thinking. And obviously, they just don't want to tip their hand to the enemy here, to Hamas. But we do know that they are trying to balance a number of different strategic equities, we might call. You know, foremost among them, of course, is doing anything possible to get as many hostages released and returned as they can. It also is just doing a diligent and intelligence assessment of conditions on the ground and underground in Gaza, given the vast total network and the unprecedented difficulties that involves. And then of course, they want to maintain their very close relations with the United States and other regional allies, but also have to take on board some of the inputs that they're they're getting from from American officials.
BROWN: On Saturday, IDF leaders announced that they had killed the head of aerial array for Hamas, one of the planners behind the October 7th attack. Now, it’s clear that one of Israel’s goals is to hunt down the men who planned and carried out atrocities against Israel, but the bigger question for Israel, it seems, is destroying Hamas and not letting it have control over Gaza. Isn’t the question of political control the bigger one?
INBODEN: Yes. And that's that's where Israel has a new strategic goal here very differently than any other other previous operations into Gaza in the short term. Previously, the goals, you know, in 2014 and 2021, when they would do more limited incursions, those goals were to just, you know, kill or capture a few key Hamas leaders, while Israel was, you know, content to leave Hamas in control of Gaza. Now with the you know, unprecedented atrocities and the quite literal existential threat that Israel has faced from Hamas from the October 7 attacks, they have a very different strategic goal of destroying Hamas, eradicating all the Hamas leadership and ensuring that Hamas cannot regain political control of Gaza.
EICHER: Since the start of this conflict, Democrats have been divided on their support for Israel versus the Palestinians. On October 19th, an open letter claiming to be anonymously “signed” by around 400 congressional staffers was published on social media. The message called on Congress to pass a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and thirteen House Democrats support passing such a resolution.
Meanwhile, older Democrats including the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton don’t think a ceasefire is the right option. Here’s Clinton at an event on Thursday evening:
CLINTON: People who are calling for a ceasefire now do not understand Hamas. That is not possible.
She went on to say that a ceasefire would merely give Hamas more time to rearm. More importantly, that’s the position of the president and therefore the administration.
Will, talk about this political rift among Democrats. How serious is it? And will the president be able to hold firm for Israel, do you think?
INBODEN: Yeah, this is a very serious problem for President Biden and his administration, right, you know, and we've seen this throughout his presidency. He has felt the need to cater or defer to or at least be mindful of the progressive left, the more radical activists within his political base. Biden himself, I don't think that's where his personal instincts are. But he, you know, he knows that he's had relatively thin support, and he needs to be mindful of his hard left. The moment this awful war was launched by Hamas, many of us news just a matter of time before the Democratic left turns against Israel, you know, starts to provide more more tacit support for Hamas. That said, I'm surprised how quickly it's happened. The fact that we're, you know, the war is just getting underway and already President Biden is having to manage this rift within his coalition. And so it's a real political challenge for him.
EICHER: I want to follow up on that. And I wonder, do you think that that was sort of in the mind of those who were setting strategy for Hamas, to go ahead and make this attack thinking that just with an eye on American politics that way that they might be able to outlast the political situation here?
INBODEN: Perhaps so, Nick. I think that's very plausible. I've not spoken with any Hamas leadership, I won't pretend to know what's inside their perverse, twisted minds, but we do know that Hamas follows American politics very closely. We do know that Hamas has been adept at trying to manipulate and manage international public opinion. You know, they've got a very capable propaganda arm. We saw this with how quickly they quote "won the information war" about that strike on the Palestinian hospital. We now know that that was a terrorist missile. It wasn't from the Israelis. But you know, in the first 48 hours or so of the news cycle, Hamas and their propagandists persuaded most major media outlets to blame Israel for that. And so Hamas is certainly very attuned to their fellow travelers are their enablers, if you will, in the international media, and then among the progressive left activist groups in Europe and the United States. And so I do think it's very likely that they are paying attention to that, and maybe even trying to, you know, feed some talking points or their particular views in. So that's another challenge again that President Biden is managing.
EICHER: Right. So last question for you, Will, President Biden continues to insist that, and say so publicly, insisting that Israel must comply with international law, reminding Israel to take care to minimize civilian casualties, which seems a bit condescending from an ally. We don't we don't hear anything like that toward the Ukrainians. But he's also pounding this idea that the end result has got to be progress toward a two state solution. Do you think really, that we’re likelier today than we were before the Hamas offensive to have a two state solution? Where do you think we're less likely now?
INBODEN: I think we're probably less likely now. And you know, that's tragic, because at the end of the day, there are a large number of Palestinians who don't support Hamas, right, and who don't support these awful atrocities. You know, ultimately, we hope for a better future for them. But I don't see any of the conditions anywhere near ripe for a Palestinian state right now. I think the focus has to be on protecting and preserving Israel security and completely eradicating Hamas' rule in Gaza. And then later, you know, those conversations can be had about future political progress or political solutions, but and we also need to remember that as much as civilian casualties are lamentable, you know, pretty much every innocent Palestinian killed in Gaza is Hamas' fault. Okay, Hamas is the one preventing them from evacuating, Hamas is the one using them as human shields, Hamas is, are the ones who embedded themselves in hospitals and schools and other civilian shelters in the midst of their attack on Israel. And so the moral responsibility for these falls on Hamas, Israel needs to do its part of course, to you know, minimize civilian casualties. But let's put the blame where it properly belongs.
BROWN: Will Inboden is a former member of the National Security Council and a current contributor to World Opinions. Thank you for your insights, Will!
INBODEN: Thank you very much.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: political upheaval in Guatemala.
Like many countries in the region, Guatemala is plagued by gang violence and political corruption, but the winner of a recent presidential election aimed to change that.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Back in August, a majority of voters elected Bernardo Arevalo to be president on an anti-corruption platform.
But since then, Guatemala’s attorney general has attempted to alter the results of the election and block Arevalo from taking office in January.
BROWN: How have Guatemalans responded to the chaos, and what does it mean for the stability of life in Central America more broadly?
WORLD Associate Correspondent Noah Burgdorf recently visited Guatemala, and he brings us the story, with protest sound courtesy of the Associated Press.
NOAH BURGDORF, ASSOCIATE CORRESPONDENT: For the past three weeks, tens of thousands of protesters have crowded the streets of Guatemala, waving signs and demanding the resignation of the Attorney General, Consuelo Porras.
JOSE ARMEZ: There are communities all over the country protesting, blocking roads, and threatened to block the airport if some of the parties don't quit from the actual government.
Jose Armez was born and raised in Zone 18, the most dangerous neighborhood of Guatemala City. He’s watched corrupt politicians and presidents come and go…and thinks these protests won’t get Porras out of office.
President-elect Bernardo Arevalo is the son of Juan Jose Alevaro, the first Guatemalan president to be democratically elected. And Bernardo is looking to follow in his father’s footsteps in office.
But his victory in the recent runoff raised eyebrows.
STEVE SWYUWLKA: Two days before the elections, he was polling at 2.2%. And he jumped up to 9% to get into the runoff.
Steve Swyuwlka is a missionary in Guatemala City and is a director for TGN Radio—a Christian radio station. He explains that while Attorney General Porras sees the jump in the polls as evidence of foul play, there may be a simpler explanation.
SWYUWLKA: Most of his campaign was on social media and apparently, a lot of young people who were not represented in the polls were the ones that voted for him.
Porras has used Arevalo’s unexpected win to cast suspicion on the election’s validity. She has illegally raided polling stations and suspended Arevalo’s political party from engaging in Congress weakening his authority as president before he can even take office.
Dr. Eduardo Gamarra is a professor of political and international relations at Florida International University and he says this sort of political unrest is typical for Guatemala.
EDUARDO GAMARRA: Guatemala has had a long, long process of, let us say, corrupt politics, right? The promise of the new, let's say the President Elect, is that he will wipe out corruption. And the sincerity of his promise, of course, is one that we won't see until he actually tries to tries to implement his campaign pledges.
But Guatemala’s pattern of political corruption will be difficult to wipe out.
ARMEZ: Every president who has come has literally sold the country. Sold land, did business, dirty business with other countries and the last person, the last ones they think about is the people of Guatemala.
For years, gangs have taken advantage of Guatemala’s political corruption and dysfunction. And now control entire sections of cities, where they push drugs and extort people for money.
SWYULKA: They extort the corner store owner, the taxi driver, I mean, it's not they don't extort the big corporations because they can defend themselves. The people that suffer are the little people.
On top of that, there’s enormous social pressure for kids to join gangs. For kids growing up in a country with a poverty rate of almost 60%, a gang promising protection, food, and community is hard to resist. Gangs start recruiting as young as 10 years old and offer three options: join, leave their territory, or die.
Armez has outlived nearly everyone he grew up with and thinks that gang activity comes from a lack of role models.
ARMEZ: It's just because of the fact that a lot of the parents are either absent or in prison or, you know, just dead.
But Armez hasn’t given up hope that his country can change. He believes that the nearby country of El Salvador can be a model of revitalization through education and limiting gang activity.
ARMEZ: I want to see that children don't have to get involved in gangs. So if a president will come and fight the fight he has chosen to do, I am convinced that we will have some change in our country but no one has done that. Few have promised but no one has come through with any of their promises.
In an attempt to boost public safety, El Salvador has arrested over 72,000 suspected gang members since 2019 and allocated 250 million dollars to schools. Guatemalans think it’s possible to institute similar improvements in their country…but experts like Eduardo Gamarra aren’t so sure.
GAMARRA: But the real problem with approaches like that, is there longevity? How long can those programs go on? And especially in contexts where presidents like Arevalo will be will have a minority in Congress and won't have the enormous political muscle that that somebody like, like Bukele has in El Salvador.
The Guatemalan public support for Arevalo has only increased through the Attorney General’s attempt to block him. but that won’t be enough to establish his authority.
GAMARRA: You know, unless they find a way to move forward, right, and allow Arevalo to take office, I think you know the situation there is going to be kind of problematic there for the next few months.
Attorney General Consuelo Porras has until November 1st to compile evidence to overturn the election. But until then, the protests continue and threaten to become more violent.
Reporting from Guatemala City, I’m Noah Burgdorf.
NICK EICHER, HOST: A family in Arkansas woke up to a house full of smoke last week scary but no ordinary house fire.
CBS 5 talked to John Devane, the homeowner.
JOHN DEVANE: I was searching the house, I even got up in the attic like looking, where’s this smoke all coming from?
They finally found a smoldering hole on the back deck. The flames had melted their hot tub which is bad, but in doing so, it released a massive quantity of water and doused the fire. Devane suspected a meteorite and he tested his theory by dropping a magnet.
DEVANE: I literally went like that, and like that, and like that, and it clicked, and like I got a bite, and there it was.
Yep, an inch-wide metal rock. Had to be from outer space. It really grabbed, too!
That’s metal! WOW!
Still, only one way to be sure: The U.S. Geological Survey will have to examine and confirm it. But it’s going to take a year or more because of the backlog.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, October 31st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: a bug festival in Blacksburg, Virginia.
At this creepy crawly fair, exhibits feature both educational presentations and live bugs. It also displays one of the largest insect collections in the country.
EICHER: Festivals like these help encourage kids to explore the wonder of nature…and maybe hold a few millipedes in the process.
WORLD intern Emma Perley has the story.
EMMA PERLEY, INTERN: Children pull their parents by the hand to crowd around the dozens folding tables in the auditorium at Virginia Tech. At the front of one makeshift aisle is a microscope connected to a monitor. Maire gives her spiel to anyone who will listen.
MAIRE: These are nematodes, which are like really small worms. And then this is a piece of hair. So they're way smaller than a single piece of hair.
SOUND: [Bug fest activity]
A young boy named Azmi is particularly fascinated with one type of bug.
AZMI: The bees.
EMMA: You like the bees? What do you like about the bees?
AZMI: They make honey for us.
In one hand, Azmi happily waves around a little certificate for Junior Entomologist. The goal is to answer the questions about bug facts and anatomy as you explore the exhibits. His older brother, Ahmed, clutches the same certificate.
AHMED: I like learning new things about different bugs.
EMMA: What's something that you learned today?
AHMED: That there's a thing called the ant lion. It's like this thing that has a shell like Roly Poly and it has these big jaws and it's as small as a one of those small ants.
For twelve consecutive years, the Hokie BugFest has hoped to get visitors interested in the world of insects—and other creatures. From educational exhibits about bumblebee life cycles to live skinks and crawdads, the BugFest celebrates all living things.
This year, the BugFest also displayed one of the largest insect collections in the country. Its owner—73 year old Dan Capps—is a lifelong bug collector and informal entomologist.
CAPPS: Here's a chance for people to actually see for themselves, the real thing. How big it is, is exactly what you see. Put your hand next to it.
About 30 display cases, each three feet long, fill tables in the middle half of the auditorium. Each is overflowing with pinned insects: from butterflies the size of dinner plates to treehoppers as tiny as a thumbtack. Some cases have themes, such as mimicry and camouflage.
CAPPS: These three insects, which look like bees, are actually flies. The group that you see right here, all look like bees, but they are in fact moths.
For Capps, it all started in elementary school when the principal called him into his office.
CAPPS: I got down there and he opened a cigar box.
The principal had seen Capps in the schoolyard with a butterfly net.
CAPPS: And he showed me inside the cigar box, a luna moth, and a Cecropia moth, two of the biggest things any child in that area could ever imagine. And they looked huge, they impressed me so much. And so he said, ‘you know, keep on doing what you're doing.’ And that little bit of encouragement is sometimes all a kid needs.
So Capps started collecting bugs. After graduating high school in Madison, Wisconsin, Capps went straight to work at an Oscar Meyer meat processing factory. But all the while he continued teaching himself about bugs.
CAPPS: I never had the formal education in it. I did things in an untraditional manner.
As his network of fellow bug collectors grew, so did his ambition. His goal? To have one of every bug species in the world.
He began buying bugs from a distributor in New York. Then he bought the business. Capps went to the Madison Public Library to find addresses for all the museums and universities in the world. And he wrote letters asking to trade and sell bugs with them all. Capps flew to New Guinea, Jamaica, and Cuba. He drove down to Mexico. And soon he had, well, a lot of bugs.
CAPPS: All of what you see on display here today represents about one and a half percent of all the insects that I had, when I was when I designated myself as a collector.
Capps had thousands of bugs, but he wanted more. He built and filled Cornell drawers to display them, with a glass top and wooden bottom. He brought his collections to museums, botanical gardens, and did traveling shows.
CAPPS: When you're very young, sometimes you feel that there are no limitations, you could do anything that you put your mind to.
At this point, he was working nights in the factory and giving presentations at local schools during the day. He was married with two kids, but insects consumed most of his time. Slowly, he and his wife became strangers in the same house.
CAPPS: I'm sure it was a factor in me getting divorced, that my wife and I had grown apart. If anything, it was my fault.
Collecting had become an addiction. But no museum, let alone one person, has ever managed to capture one of every bug in the world.
CAPPS: When I built 6000 Cornell drawers and filled them and realized how short of my goal I was, I had to say, enough is enough.
And so he took a step back. Today, Capps is retired. But he still travels to shows like this one. He finds satisfaction in people’s enjoyment of his bugs.
CAPPS: I'm grateful for what I do have. And being able to do something like this is a blessing for me.
Kids eagerly come up to chat with him after browsing the collection. And Capps writes down their names and addresses in a notebook so that he can send them interesting bugs he finds.
CAPPS: I get to share something that I've been passionate about, something beautiful, and I can share it with people.
And for Capps, that’s enough.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Emma Perley in Blacksburg, Virginia.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: President Biden’s age has some Democrats worried, and turning to 3rd party candidates like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Could RFK be a spoiler? We’ll talk about it on Washington Wednesday.
And, a group that provides used cars to families traveling the long road out of poverty.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio. WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
The Psalmist writes, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. All those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.” –Psalm 111 verse 10
Go now in grace and peace.
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