The World and Everything in It: September 7, 2023
Lawmakers struggle to counter abortion providers mailing drugs into pro-life states; the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund is almost out of money; and a Christian human rights advocate represents hurting people at the United Nations. Plus, commentary from Cal Thomas and the Thursday morning news
PREROLL: The World and Everything in It is made possible by listeners like me. Hi, I'm Heather German, a science teacher at Landmark Christian School in Fairburn, Georgia. I was introduced to WORLD by Jenny Lind Schmitt, my very good friend from college who is World's Global desk chief who I am visiting in Porrentruy, Switzerland. I hope you enjoyed today's program.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning! Abortion businesses are breaking pro-life state laws by mailing in drugs. What can lawmakers do to stop it?
AUDIO: We have to start thinking more creatively about what we can do to stop chemical abortion.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: Also, the federal government’s disaster relief fund is running out of money, where did it go and what needs to happen to stop the leak?
Plus, speaking up for persecuted Christians around the world before the United Nations.
AUDIO: We cannot fight here as if the United Nations is our hope. We are fighting here because we have a greater hope.
BUTLER: And Commentator Cal Thomas on why claims of a “climate change emergency” are overblown.
BROWN: It’s Thursday, September 7th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.
BUTLER: And I’m Paul Butler. Good morning!
BROWN: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Ukraine/attack/Blinken » In eastern Ukraine, weeping civilians dug through blackened ruins of an outdoor market Wednesday after a Russian missile rained down, killing at least 17 people.
Video footage showed a chaotic scene of charred bodies strewn across the market in the deadliest Russian attack on a civilian target in months.
That attack in the town of Kostiantynivka came as U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken paid an unannounced visit to the capital city of Kyiv.
BLINKEN: I am here first and foremost to demonstrate our ongoing and determined support for Ukraine.
Blinken announced another $1 billion dollars in aid to Ukraine with the most of that backing Ukraine’s military.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stood shoulder to shoulder with Blinken at a joint news conference.
ZELENSKYY: Thank you so much. We really are thankful to you. We are very thankful to the White House.
He called Blinken’s visit and the new aid announcement “a great message of support.”
Harris ASEAN » Vice President Kamala Harris is in Jakarta for a major summit with Southeast Asian Nations, an event known as ASEAN.
She announced that the United States is opening a new ASEAN center in Washington aimed at forging stronger cultural ties with Asian nations.
Harris on Wednesday also pushed back against those who say President Biden, at age 80, is too old to serve another term. She said in her many Oval Office meetings with the president, she’s observed …
HARRIS: His ability to understand issues and weave through complex issues in a way no one else can to make smart and informed decisions on behalf of the American people.
GOP candidates » But White House hopeful, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he’s not convinced. He also noted that former President Donald Trump is only three years younger.
CHRISTIE: We have two leading contenders in each party who are both too old. Seventy-eight is too old too for Donald Trump. We don’t need two candidates who are gonna be 160 years old running next November.
But Trump still holds a nearly 40-point edge in an average of recent polls over his closest GOP rival.
But general election polls now show Biden leading Trump by one point.
Coach Kennedy resigns » A High School football coach who was fired for praying on the field until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor, has resigned.
The high court earlier this year ruled that the school district violated Coach Joe Kennedy’s Constitutional rights by firing him for kneeling at the fifty-yard line after each game.
Kennedy returned for one game at Bremerton High School in Washington State, but says he feels he can best advocate for religious liberties outside the school system.
Cars privacy » A consumer watchdog group is warning that the biggest threat to your privacy might be parked in your garage. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN: If you drive a high-tech late-model car, your vehicle may record information about speed, mileage, driving patterns, and even where you drive.
Many cars also have microphones that could record audio inside the vehicle.
And the Mozilla Foundation says that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The group examined 25 automakers and found that nearly all of them say they can share drivers’ data with third parties. And many said they hand your information to the government or law enforcement without a court order.
For WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Brazil flooding » In Brazil, at least 31 people are dead and more than 1,600 others are now homeless after flooding in the southern part of the country.
An extratropical cyclone has roared across much of the country since Monday, washing away houses and submerging streets.
Another cyclone pounded Brazil in June, killing 16 people while ripping apart dozens of cities.
I'm Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: pro-life efforts to halt the flow of abortion drugs into states that prohibit them. Plus, an evangelical at the United Nations.
This is The World and Everything in It.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: It’s Thursday, the 7th day of September, 2023.
Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Paul Butler.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. First up: keeping abortion pills out of pro-life states.
Fifteen states protect unborn babies from abortion except for in limited circumstances. Many also specifically prohibit sending abortion pills through the mail. But are laws like these enough to keep abortion providers from sending the drugs to women in these states?
BUTLER: Here’s WORLD’s Life Beat reporter Leah Savas with our story.
LEAH SAVAS, REPORTER: In some ways, the appointment Brittany Green had with a pregnancy center client in July wasn’t that unusual.
GREEN: The girl that I just met with a week ago, she, when she came to us, she needed an ultrasound.
That’s normal at Radiance Women’s Center, a pro-life center Green directs outside of Austin, Texas. But the purpose of this one was different. This woman needed an ultrasound to know how many abortion pills to take.
GREEN: She had already ordered the pill and she had been awaiting for it to arrive.
Most abortions are illegal in Texas, although Texas explicitly exempts the women who seek abortions from punishment. Mailing abortion drugs is also illegal, but online pill providers are still sending pills into Texas.
Green said the young woman showed her the email she had received from Aid Access, the European group that was sending her the drugs. It laid out instructions for taking the abortion pills at home.
GREEN: So that's concerning, because there's no oversight on how many pills they're taking and when they're taking them if they're taking them the way they're directed.
Aid Access boldly announced in July that it had sent abortion pills to more than thirty-five hundred people in pro-life states in less than a month. In Green’s mind, Texas just doesn’t have the systems in place to enforce its own laws against this kind of activity. She says that’s why she didn’t tell local authorities that Aid Access was mailing abortion pills to this woman.
GREEN: There has to be some policy to actually bring and hold accountable the individuals or businesses that are shipping these products in. And right now there is no accountability for it.
At the end of August, Green texted me saying another woman just came in for an ultrasound who had already ordered the pills and received them in the mail.
Other pro-life organizations in East Texas and Mississippi have told me similar stories.
ANGELA HILL: The practicality of stopping it is pretty tough.
That’s Mississippi State Senator Angela Hill. Like Texas, Mississippi has a law that specifically prohibits mailing abortion pills. Hill authored it, and it passed in 2013. She says that even before Mississippi shut down abortion businesses in the state, the law seemed to stop in-state abortionists from mailing the drugs. But it doesn’t deter abortionists in other states from sending abortion pills into Mississippi. She says that’s because of how hard the law is to enforce.
HILL: It's hard for us as a state law enforcement agency to track what's in the mail.
Hill said the federal government is in a better position to do that. But any support from the Biden administration is unlikely, given its pro-abortion position. And other states are increasingly unwilling to cooperate.
Since 2022, states like New York and Massachusetts have been passing laws shielding abortionists in their states from facing prosecution for breaking another state’s law against mailing abortion pills.
So what’s the solution?
JAMESON TAYLOR: We have to start thinking more creatively about what we can do to stop chemical abortion.
Jameson Taylor is one of the Mississippi lobbyists behind the law that eventually led to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case that overturned Roe v. Wade.
Taylor says he’s been surprised by the pro-life movement’s lack of ideas for addressing the chemical abortion problem. Meanwhile, pro-abortion groups are getting very creative.
TAYLOR: The blue states are the one pushing back against red states like Mississippi, like Indiana, and they're saying, you know, we don't really care that you have made abortion illegal in your state. We're going to create a safe harbor for our doctors to mail chemical abortion pills across state lines into your state. We're going to encourage doctors to illegally offer telemedicine appointments to women in your state. And they know that this is illegal.
Taylor said pro-life states need that kind of energy, but in defense of law and order. And he has ideas for how to respond. One is to take a page out of the pro-abortion playbook.
TAYLOR: Do what the left does, which is to sue everybody. The Comstock Act basically says that you can't send anything related to abortion through the U.S. Mail. Okay, so sue the federal government, sue the post office, because they're aiding and abetting this violation of federal law. Sue those states that are encouraging doctors in their state to break both federal and state law. Sue, sue groups in other countries like Aid Access. Sue the Netherlands, because they're allowing this group to operate.
Taylor also suggested compelling Internet providers to block abortion pill websites. Another idea is to force pro-abortion states to cover medical costs for abortion pill complications in pro-life states.
The idea is to at least try something to protect women and babies from these unsupervised abortions.
TAYLOR: So the question is, are we going to take our pro-life protection seriously? And if we don't, it's going to just show that we don't have the same passion and energy that the radical pro-abortion side. It's not a question of policy or legality. It comes down to what do we really believe? And what are we willing to sacrifice for?
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leah Savas.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: Paying the bill for disaster recovery.
CBS NEWS: Tonight the death toll in Maui continues to rise. The wildfire is now becoming the deadliest in modern U.S. history…
FOX: Hurricane Hilary has prompted historic weather alerts in California as millions across the…
NBC NEWS: This is the power of Hurricane Idalia and we’re right in the thick of it. The winds here have really picked up.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: The month of August started with fires in Maui and ended with Hurricane Idalia in Florida. In between, the Biden administration warned that FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was running low on disaster relief funds, adding additional stress to communities trying to recover from loss. What do these new challenges mean for clean up after natural disasters?
BROWN: Joining us now is Richard Stern, the head of the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget at The Heritage Foundation.
RICHARD STERN: Thank you for having me on.
BROWN: Can you start us off with some explanation: What is the FEMA disaster relief fund, and how does it work?
STERN: You'd imagine we know that there's a lot of natural disasters that happen and we have an entire fund that is dedicated to being able to give money out to families that are affected that are injured in a disaster relief area. So we have something called the Stafford Act that governs all of the provisions about how the federal government deals with disasters declares disasters. And what kind of sharing agreements there are how much of the money states have to put in how, much the federal government has to put in. Now, the Disaster Relief Fund gets a regular appropriation from Congress, that money sits there, and then is doled out through the automatic mechanisms of the Stafford Act. This is designed so that when there's a disaster going on, you don't have a secondary disaster, which is dealing with Congress trying to get its act together in the middle of the crisis. But that being said, half the money that was in the Fund for this year got spent by the Biden administration on quote, "COVID spending," despite the fact that COVID is no longer an emergency. And so when they say the fund is underwater, that the fund is going to be bankrupt. And it's actually gonna be eight and a half billion dollars underwater by the end of the fiscal year, they don't really mean that the Disaster Relief Fund is going to be, they really mean that having stolen half the money out of the fund for non-emergencies. It's gonna be underwater.
BROWN: You know, Richard, I grew up on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, and lived through a hurricane or two. And so I got to experience FEMA, the disaster relief at work, so it is critical. Talk a little bit more about what happens, you know, what this means, the relief fund is running low, is this a first?
STERN: Well, I should say as well, I'm from Florida, so I hear you on the kind of ever present danger of the Gulf Coast. Right,
BROWN: Right, yeah.
STERN: So it's not common. I know what's happened before part of this, again, is because presidents have raided the Disaster Relief Fund in a lot of other funds at different points in time. But this is not good, let me put it that way. And it's rare to have this kind of situation. And I think, you know, the other part of this, of course, is that Biden is asking for money for the disaster relief fund to backfill what his administration took out of there, but wants to tie it to more Ukraine funding. And so we now have this hostile situation, where Biden is saying, Yeah, I'm willing to backfill the money that I took out of there for non-emergency reasons, but only if you guys give me another $20 billion for my war in Ukraine that I have no end to no strategy on and no transparency the American public about why we're there, how long are there, what the commitment is or even what that money is going to be used for?
BROWN: How will the funding shortfall affect victims of the fires in Maui and Hurricane Idalia in the southeastern U.S. and for that matter, disasters yet to come?
STERN: Yeah, so it means that that money doesn't get out the door. Alright, it means that people don't get the money that they're relying on. But it means not even just that, but things run by the state governments and local governments that are designed to deal with disasters, they don't get the money they're expecting either. And, you know, I should point out this is money that we all pay in through taxes. And part of that is that this money is sent to the federal government in trust, that it will be held for something that is actually useful to the American public, and not just squandered somewhere else. So yeah, it delays the money out the door, it adds uncertainty at a moment when certainty is key, it adds uncertainty to the mix. And of course, by tying it to Ukraine funding, it brings this whole other dimension into the politics of it. And it's just playing politics at a moment when people want certainty.
BROWN: You mentioned earlier that President Biden has asked Congress for funds to backfill the Disaster Relief Fund…about $16 billion in total. I’m just wondering, is a quick infusion of funding the wisest course of action in the long term?
STERN: So I think the way that we look at this right is we would like reform, frankly, of the Disaster Relief Fund. We'd like to make it so the money is there for the purposes was to be for that's actually tied to the Stafford Act. You know, I think my concern, you know, that and my team as well is the Biden administration lifted $20 billion out of there for non-disaster related stuff. There's no reason why they couldn't do that again with that money, to be perfectly honest with you. You know, if let's say that we broke up the political Cabal, and we did a cash infusion of the Disaster Relief Fund with no Ukraine funding, there's nothing to stop his administration from taking some of that money and saying, Hey, Ukraine is a disaster in the United States, we're going to just send the money abroad. And it sounds ludicrous in some ways, but that's actually how a lot of the federal budget works. The President has what are called reprogramming authorities over an enormous amount of that money, and can just pick it up and slosh it around. And really, a lot of times, we have no caps, no limits, not having to let Congress know, not having to talk to them at all. So, you know, that's part of why we're always hesitant to just take more money from hardworking Americans, and just throw it in as a quick infusion to different programs.
BROWN: Alright. Well, Richard Stern, thank you so much for joining us.
STERN: Thank you for having me on again.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: A Los Angeles german shepherd is in the doghouse after running away from home. Her owners knew the dog was missing, but had no idea where she’d gone.
Then they got a call from a local shelter saying that Storm was with them. Turns out she’d had quite the adventure. Storm lives near Ingelwood’s SoFi Stadium. Apparently she sneaked into the venue during a recent Metallica concert. Audio here from KTLA-TV:
DOG OWNER: How did she get past all of the securities and the gate and like the metal detectors and everything? So she probably just squeezed her way through the crowd.
The band posted photos of Storm sitting in a seat, looking relaxed, and it looking like she was enjoying the show--or at least the attention.
Storm’s owners are glad to have her back and will be sure to keep an eye on her when the next big act comes to town.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Ha! A four legged roadie.
BUTLER: It’s The World and Everything in It.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: Today is Thursday, September 7th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Paul Butler.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: international affairs.
Most people know that the United Nations is the largest intergovernmental organization in the world, with 193 member states. The UN was founded to provide a forum for peaceful international dialogue.
BUTLER: Christians often debate the merits of such an institution, for governments and for Christians. But one man says that it’s not so much what the United Nations can do itself, but the forum it provides for others that can make a difference.
BROWN: WORLD’s Europe reporter Jenny Lind Schmitt attended a recent meeting of the United Nations in Switzerland, and she brings us the story.
AUDIO: I now give the floor for a joint statement from the World Evangelical Alliance.
WISSAM AL-SALIBY: Thank you Mr. Vice President.
JENNY LIND SCHMITT, REPORTER: It’s one of the most intense parts of Wissam al-Saliby’s job. In a vast hall at the United Nations in Geneva, the Human Rights Council is holding one of its annual meetings. Delegates sit attentively in curved rows under a ceiling dripping with multi-colored resin stalactites.
And Wissam al-Saliby has exactly two minutes to state the most pressing concerns of evangelicals worldwide.
AL-SALIBY: The World Evangelical Alliance and the Commission of Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches remain gravely concerned about the ongoing violation of human rights of religious minorities in Algeria and India.
Al-Saliby is director of the World Evangelical Alliance office in Geneva, Switzerland. Today he is in front of several hundred representatives to make the case for freedom of worship for Christians in nations under periodic review by the Human Rights Council.
AL-SALIBY: [Speaking Arabic]
A little while later, in Arabic, he calls for the Algerian government to stop forcibly closing evangelical churches and arresting Christian leaders.
Al-Saliby has a job with no end in sight: Calling powerful governments to account and making their religious discriminations public.
AUDIO: Do you need a minute with your coffee?
No, I'm fine. It’s Nepresso.
Over a cup of coffee in a small rented office nearby, al-Saliby explains how statements to the Human Rights Council can make a difference:
WISSAM AL-SALIBY: States don't want to be criticized by other states.
In many countries where evangelical Christians are a minority, hostile governments have no qualms about discriminating against believers. But when those discriminations are brought to light on the international stage, that can influence governments to treat their citizens more fairly. Al-Saliby wants to use the forum of the United Nations to show that evangelicals are not as isolated as they may seem.
AL-SALIBY: Part of the way to solve that is to say that this local church is connected to the bigger family. Here's the bigger family. And then the Government needs to feel like these people are connected.
As Christianity has spread across the globe, so has persecution against Christians. According to the Open Doors World Watch List, 2022 was the worst year on record. Over 360 million Christians suffered high levels of persecution or discrimination for their faith.
AL-SALIBY: So what we do here is to support the national church advocacy to amplify the voice. And to really make the government think twice before doing some things.
Before he became advocacy officer for the World Evangelical Alliance, al-Saliby worked at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, outside of Beirut, Lebanon. Al-Saliby’s work at the seminary brought him into contact with hundreds of Muslim-background students from around the Arab world.
AL-SALIBY: Some of them were Muslims studying, becoming sheikhs. And then they had a dream. And then something happened.
He heard story after story of God’s supernatural intervention and call. And he also heard about opposition to the gospel in the countries where students longed to return to preach Christ.
Years before, al-Saliby had worked with humanitarian groups around the Middle East, documenting human rights violations and violence against civilians. The work was difficult and emotionally wearing, but he says that experience was essential for the work he does now.
AL-SALIBY: Human rights work includes very difficult, very thorough documentation methodology. And this is an ongoing fight to make sure we have the resources to get the professional methodology right so that the people on the receiving end would assess the validity of our claims from our methodology and the way we’re working.
Al-Saliby insists that national Christian advocacy groups need to learn this kind of careful documentation so they can be heard in an international setting.
AL-SALIBY: We had an Excel file, date, location, the names of the people. What happened, you know, exactly and everything. So that kind of work is difficult, it’s time demanding, it’s resource demanding, it’s what we should be doing. If you shout genocide or if you shout ethnic cleansing or if you shout Christians are being killed, people will not listen, and they’re not listening.
AUDIO: [Statement on India]
Armed with facts and numbers, al-Saliby can bring documentation of persecution against Christians to the floor of the Human Rights Council. He can also address delegates of member nations directly. It’s essential to document what the national government in question did or didn’t do. Recent attacks on Christians in Nigeria are a case in point.
AL-SALIBY: Likely the government was complicit with the attackers. But we have to find a way to document this correctly and say it.
Al-Saliby insists that local Christians on the ground need to clarify how they want their governments to change. Once they make those appeals for freedom of religion, the World Evangelical Alliance can make sure the United Nations hears them. But always remembering where help really comes from.
AL-SALIBY: We cannot fight here as if the United Nations is our hope. We are fighting here because we have a greater hope. And once we engage with this mentality, once we talk with the people with this mentality, then this place. Maybe God will use it for His glory, for His church.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Jenny Lind Schmitt at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is September 7th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: And I’m Paul Butler. Commentator Cal Thomas now on recent pushback against climate change activism.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: It’s been a good summer for climate activists who are pushing the false narrative of “climate change.” We had the Canadian wildfires with smoke drifting into parts of the U.S. Then there were hotter than usual temperatures in many parts of the country, followed by a devastating fire in Maui and Hurricane Idalia.
Never mind that the fires in Canada might have been prevented with proper clearing of underbrush and removal of old trees. The same goes for Maui, which could have benefitted from better management of the fire when it first broke out.
Consider this: According to the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, "98 percent of wildfires are human caused.” Maybe it’s time to bring back Smokey Bear who said: “Remember, only YOU can prevent forest fires.”
Returning to Canadian wildfires, which are common across that country during summer, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that half were caused by lightning strikes while the other half had causes ranging from discarded cigarette butts to sparks from passing trains. While the newspaper includes “climate change” as a contributing factor, better forest management would have helped reduce the risk.
Much of the media hauled out one of their favorite words – “unprecedented” – to describe Idalia. That’s despite the fact that hurricanes routinely happen during the summer and early fall and some of the worst ones occurred long before the Industrial Age. According to a study on the webpage Advancing Earth and Space Sciences: “Global hurricane counts and Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) have significantly decreased since 1990 likely due to a trend toward LaNina.”
CNN went full crisis mode when its top climate “expert” Bill Weir said: “The cost of [using fossil fuels] is becoming bigger with every storm. Science has been warning about this for a very long time, in many ways it has been predicted…”
Not all “science” and not all scientists would agree with Weir, especially those who don’t receive grants from the federal government, which could skew the credibility of their findings. The organization Climate Intelligence has published a letter signed by more than 1,600 “scientists and professionals” who say there is no climate emergency. Their letter is loaded with scientific facts and not statements by politicians and reporters who repeat familiar lines.
In addition to their citation of scientific facts, they write: “To believe the outcome of a climate model is to believe what the model makers have put in. This is precisely the problem with today’s climate discussion to which climate models are central. Climate science has degenerated into a discussion based on beliefs, not on sound self-critical science. Should not we free ourselves from the naïve belief in immature climate models?”
It’s a good question and one purveyors of the “climate change” storyline should contemplate.
I’m Cal Thomas.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: Tomorrow: concerning trends in Canada and what they might mean for us, our conversation with John Stonestreet on Culture Friday.
And, there are two types of people in this world: those who are Greek, and those who wish they were. The third installment of My Big Fat Greek Wedding is in theaters this weekend. Collin Garabrino has a review.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Paul Butler.
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.
Jesus said to the woman at the well, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John chapter 4, verses 13 and 14.
Go now in grace and peace.
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