WORLD Radio – The World and Everything in It: October 20, 2022
How the protests over the death of Mahsa Amini are impacting the church in Iran; the future of Social Security; and how a Kansas non-profit is helping teens kickstart their businesses. Plus: commentary from Cal Thomas, and the Thursday morning news.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
The death of a young woman in police custody in Iran brought protests across the country. Have those protests affected the church in Iran?
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Also Social Security benefits just increased. What’s that mean for the overall program?
Plus mentoring young entrepreneurs.
And commentator Cal Thomas on one of his predictions that came true.
REICHARD: It’s Thursday, October 20th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. Good morning!
REICHARD: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Truss takes on Parliament / loses 2nd minister in a week » British Prime Minister Liz Truss told Parliament Wednesday that despite mounting challenges, she will keep pressing forward.
TRUSS: Mr. Speaker, I am a fighter and not a quitter!
That during a lively debate in the House of Commons during which opposition lawmakers repeatedly called for Truss to resign.
SPEAKER: Order! Order! I am going to hear the prime minister.
Bad news keeps piling up for Truss. She just lost her second cabinet minister in a week’s time.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said she resigned after breaching rules by sending an official document from her personal email account. But in her resignation letter, Braverman said she had “concerns about the direction of this government.”
Braverman’s departure comes days after Truss fired her Treasury chief after the economic package the pair drew up spooked financial markets.
Petroleum reserve » President Biden says his decision to release another 15 million barrels of oil from the nation’s strategic reserve will help to keep gas prices in check, and help American families.
BIDEN: When the price of gas goes up, other expenses get cut. That’s why I have been doing everything in my power to reduce gas prices.
But Republicans are calling it irresponsible. Florida Senator Marco Rubio says the timing of Biden’s Wednesday announcement, less than three weeks before Election Day, is no coincidence.
RUBIO: We are depleting our reserves. Our oil reserves do not exist to win midterms. They exist to help this country in an emergency or in the midst of a storm.
The latest move completes the release of 180 million barrels authorized by Biden in March. That has sent the strategic reserve to its lowest level since 1984. The reserve now contains roughly 400 million barrels of oil.
Israel: No weapons to Ukraine » Israel says it stands with Ukraine against Russia’s invasion and will continue sending humanitarian aid, but not weapons. Defense Minister Benny Gantz…
GANTZ: I don’t see us sending offensive military equipment. Maybe we can support them with early warning systems.
That announcement Wednesday came two days after Russia warned that an Israeli move to bolster Kyiv’s forces would severely damage relations.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, has called out Israel for not joining other Western nations in helping to arm Ukraine.
But Israel needs Russian cooperation to continue its campaign of air strikes in neighboring Syria, where Russian forces are present and where Israel frequently hits Iranian-linked targets.
Putin declares martial law in occupied regions » Vladimir Putin declared martial law Wednesday in the four regions of Ukraine that Moscow has attempted to illegally annex. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Putin did not immediately spell out the changes that will happen under martial law, but he said his order was effective starting today. His decree gives law enforcement agencies three days to turn in their proposals to create militias in the annexed regions.
He also gave all regional governors in Russia emergency powers. That opens the door for sweeping new restrictions on things such as travel and public gatherings, along with tougher censorship.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
NYC migrants » New York City has set up a complex of giant tents on an island to shelter migrants arriving in the city from the southern border.
Texas, which has been overwhelmed by border crossings, has been busing migrants to so-called sanctuary cities. And other GOP-led states have followed suit.
Dr. Ted Long heads New York City’s Department of Health and Human Services.
LONG: There is no limit to how long people that are seeking asylum can stay in this facility.
But the tent complex on Randall’s Island is intended to be temporary shelter for single, adult men — many from Venezuela. Families are being housed in hotels.
The tents include cots for up to 500 people, laundry and recreation facilities and phones to make international calls.
Zachary Iscol is Commissioner of New York City Emergency Management.
ISCOL: There will also be snacks that are provided, coffee, tea, water 24 hours a day. And those meals are all culturally appropriate. It is South American fare.
Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency earlier this month, calling the increased demand of the arriving migrants “not sustainable.”
While thousands have been relocated to New York, well over a million migrants have crossed into Texas over the past year.
Abrams: Abortion is a solution for inflation » Recent polls show that voters are much more concerned about inflation than they are about access to abortions.
But the Democratic nominee for governor in Georgia, Stacey Abrams, on Wednesday told MSNBC that abortion is part of the solution to concerns about inflation.
ABRAMS: Having children is why you’re worried about your price for gas. It’s why you’re worried about how much food costs. For women, this is not a reductive issue. You can’t divorce being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy from the economic realities of having a child.
During a recent campaign event, Abrams also falsely claimed that—quoting here—“there is no such thing as a [fetal] heartbeat at six weeks.” She called it a “manufactured sound designed to convince people that men have the right to take control of a woman’s body.”
Recent polls show incumbent GOP Gov. Brian Kemp with about a 6 point lead over Abrams.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: protests and religious freedom in Iran.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Thursday the 20th of October, 2022. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. It’s been more than a month now since Mahsa Amini died in police custody. Officials arrested her for not wearing a head covering to their standards. Soon after her death, demonstrations erupted across the country and around the world.
REICHARD: According to Iran Human Rights based in Norway, police have killed more than 200 protestors over the last four weeks—numbers difficult to confirm. As the unrest approaches its fifth week, what have the protests accomplished? And how are Christians and the church faring? WORLD’s Paul Butler has our report.
PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: While the US government has been working to reestablish a nuclear deal with Iran, the Biden administration has been relatively soft-spoken on the protests in Iran. But last week, President Biden issued his strongest statement yet while in Irvine, California:
JOE BIDEN: And Iran has to end the violence against its own citizens simply exercising their fundamental rights. And you know, Mahsa Amini’s death…it stunned me, what it awakened in Iran. It’s awakened something that I don’t think will be quieted in a long long time.
HORMOZ SHARIAT: What happened to Masa was a trigger. There are suppressed anger, frustration discussed in the Iranian society, and this was an excuse for all to come out.
Hormoz Shariat came to the United States after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. He later placed his faith in Christ and founded Iran Alive—a Christian satellite television ministry that broadcasts into Iran and across the Middle East.
DR. HORMOZ SHARIAT: You know the farmers came out last year and the government arrested some and killed some. Then the retirees came out. The same. The teachers came out a few months ago. Again, the government’s answer to all these problems was violence, killing and arrest. So now all these suppressed people groups who had gone into their homes individually, they found a cause, Masa Amini. What they want is not about hijab, they want to change the government.
The current Iranian government is one of the most restrictive in the world. That makes it of particular interest to International Christian Concern, a religious freedom advocacy group. Claire Evans is Senior Assistance Manager.
CLAIRE EVANS: Iranian leaders have a lot of authority, it’s a totalitarian country, that is governed by a strictly Islamic code…one of the harshest Islamic codes worldwide.
So it’s no surprise to Evans that the people of Iran have had enough. And unlike earlier protest movements, this one is much more difficult to shut down.
CLAIRE EVANS: What makes this one different, I think is there’s no leader. This is very organic. So that makes it harder for the Iranian authorities to even have a response because it’s all grassroots. Who do you arrest? Who do you quiet? And the more people that you kill, the more angry people get.
This weekend Iranian security services allegedly beat a 16-year old female student who refused to sing a pro-regime song. She also died from her wounds—adding fuel to the protest fire…both in Iran and around the world.
This woman from Cyprus believes this harsh treatment of women will lead to revolution.
SEGAL: Women [in Iran], they have had enough. Women have been oppressed more than anyone in that country, and they led this revolution, and our brave men also followed.
The ultimate outcome of the protests is yet to be seen, but International Christian Concern’s Claire Evans is concerned for the safety of Iranian Christians:
CLAIRE EVANS: …Every time there is a protest, the government has to come up with new ways to crack down new ways to monitor new ways to do surveillance. And the church always suffers with that, because a lot of those tactics get used against them. So we do expect to see pushback…
And it’s Christian women who often bear the harshest treatment.
CLAIRE EVANS: When women are arrested for practicing their faith, the authorities will often call them whores, or assault them, because there’s just this understanding within the government structure that women who don’t want to wear, the hijab must deserve whatever kind of sexual abuse they’re going to experience. So it does open up the doors to a lot of very gender specific persecution that Christian women have to face once they’re arrested.
Even in light of 40 plus years of persecution, the Iranian Christian church has grown significantly—often through women stuck at home, stumbling upon the gospel via Christian satellite television programs or the internet.
CLAIRE EVANS: The church is becoming more vocal, more more open about the things that they’re expressing and the things they’re feeling and the hardships and that’s very much a good thing.
Claire Evans sees the protests as an opportunity—not only for the Iranian church, but for the American church as well. First in prayer, but then in other ways as well.
CLAIRE EVANS: There are actually rather large Iranian diasporas here in the US. And they they are very much impacted by what’s going on in Iran, these people are often our neighbors, and they’re, they’re having challenges, just maybe their family is still there, and they’re worried. And so it’s a really good opportunity to minister to our neighbors…
For WORLD, I’m Paul Butler.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: Social Security.
Everyone’s feeling the pinch of inflation these days. For people on a fixed income, inflation is causing even more anxiety on how to make ends meet.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Last week, the government announced some welcome news for retirees: an 8.7 percent boost to Social Security benefits next year. That’s the biggest increase in 40 years and it will put an average of $140 more per month in a retiree’s pocket.
BROWN: For years we’ve heard that the Social Security program is running out of money. So does this boost in benefits mean the program will crash sooner?
Here to talk about it is Rachel Greszler, an economist with the Heritage Foundation. Rachel, good morning.
RACHEL GRESZLER, GUEST: Good morning and thank you for having me on today, Myrna.
BROWN: Rachel, give us an overview if you would. What is the current state of the Social Security program, before this latest cost of living raise comes into the picture?
GRESZLER: So the Social Security trustees put out a report every year. It comes out in the summer. And so according to that, which was the summer of 2022, they said the Social Security program is on track to run out of money in 2034. So that’s just a dozen years from now. And at that point, benefits will have to be cut across the board by 23%. That’s whether you’re 80 years old or just 65 and just started collecting benefits. And the problem here is that it’s not just that this is a new thing that Social Security is on track to run out of money, it’s that from the beginning, really, Social Security has consistently paid out more in benefits than it has taken in taxes. And this has led to a massive $20.4 trillion in unfunded obligations.
BROWN: This 8.7 percent increase is set to take effect in January. How will it change the outlook for Social Security?
GRESZLER: So this additional spending is likely to cause Social Security’s finances to deteriorate and its insolvency to come a little sooner than was previously projected. And that’s because while these benefits are going up 8.7%, workers wages, which are what fund the program through the payroll taxes we all pay, they grew by less than half of that last year. They had a 4.1% increase. And since it appears that we’re also likely in the start of a recession, that will further exacerbate Social Security’s finances because it’s going to mean that even less money is coming into the program, but the same amount or more is going to be coming out.
BROWN: That sounds pretty dire. But, when you think about it, so is the situation of a senior living on fixed incomes, with gas and grocery prices soaring. Did the government have a choice in making this cost of living adjustment?
GRESZLER: No, it didn’t. The COLA that they make is governed by law. And absolutely seniors, especially those who are no longer able to work, don’t have the opportunity to go out and earn more income to pay for the higher inflation and so while on the one hand, it’s extremely important to be protecting them, unfortunately, the Social Security system uses an incredibly outdated and inaccurate measure of inflation that actually only applies to 32% of the population. And it doesn’t account for how people respond to changes in prices. And so we’ve shifted our buying habits to the things that are less expensive. So while there’s not a choice in the COLA year-to-year, Congress could update Social Security’s inflation metric to, first of all, a more accurate one, and one that actually accounts for how people respond to these things over time. And it would go a long way towards solving Social Security shortfalls. It would cover about 20% of the system’s current shortfalls.
BROWN: Is there anything the government could do to preserve Social Security and make sure it is around for future generations?
GRESZLER: Yes, that is the good news here. And I think the start there is getting back to what Social Security was originally created for. And that was meant to protect against poverty for people who had outlived their savings, or they lost the ability to work earlier on in life and needed to provide for the dependents.
But today’s Social Security doesn’t align with that original version. It doesn’t make sense for a social insurance program to provide the highest benefits to people who had the highest lifetime earnings, and who already have the highest retirement accounts of their own. So, we at the Heritage Foundation have proposed a set of reforms that would better target Social Security to its original intent. And the goal there is not only to protect lower income earners, but actually to increase their benefits. And so we would move gradually towards a universal benefit that would lift more people out of poverty, slowly raise the retirement age accounting for the fact that life expectancy is up by 17 years since the program started. And then just common sense things like that more accurate inflation measure I talked about and some other modernizations to the program.
BROWN: Last question: For people in today’s workforce who are planning to retire after the projected D-Day for Social Security, what advice do you have for them?
GRESZLER: In terms of Social Security reform, I would say support the proposals that would make it better targeted. Because Social Security has become such a big portion of workers’ paychecks, it’s hard for people, especially lower and middle income earners, to save on their own. But saving on your own is actually what allows people to have more money in retirement. The reality of Social Security is that it takes every dollar that we pay today and immediately sends it out the door and so it strips people of the opportunity to earn a higher rate of return on their investment over time. And that’s what’s so crucial to building income for retirement is being able to benefit from those positive returns. But what we have today is a program that’s handicapping lower and middle income earners and not giving them a shot at being able to build that wealth of their own. But regardless of what happens with Social Security, and I think a lot of younger people don’t believe that it will be there for them and that’s probably a good thing. It will be there in some capacity for sure, but we shouldn’t be counting on it in the way that previous generations were.
BROWN: Rachel Greszler from the Heritage Foundation, thank you so much for joining us.
GRESZLER: My pleasure. Thank you.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Are you a mosquito magnet?
Well, could be! A new study finds that some people really do attract mosquitoes more than others!
Leslie Vosshall is a neurobiologist at Rockefeller University.
VOSSHALL: People come to me with their stories about – my mother is the one who’s always bitten, and we invited her to outdoor parties so she can receive all the bites and protect the rest of us.
Vosshall said high levels of certain chemicals on your skin makes you a smorgasbord for mosquitoes.
Researchers asked dozens of volunteers to wear nylon stockings on their arms to pick up their scent. Then the stockings were put in separate traps with a bunch of mosquitos. And sure enough, they swarmed their favorites!
The bad news for mosquito magnets: You can’t get rid of these chemicals on your skin without damaging your skin.
MYRNA BROWN: Oh well.
REICHARD: It’s The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Thursday, October 20th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: young entrepreneurs.
More and more teens these days are looking to start their own businesses. Junior Achievement USA found that 60 per cent of teens want to be entrepreneurs.
BROWN: But starting your own business doesn’t happen on its own. A nonprofit in Wichita, Kansas, is helping students kickstart their lawn mowing businesses – and grow their character while they’re at it. WORLD’s Lauren Dunn has the story.
LAUREN DUNN, REPORTER: Karina Mekhtieva is in 9th grade. She started mowing yards five years ago.
KARINA: When I first started, I had like three customers. And then when COVID hit like, I had only one.
At church, she heard about Student Startup, a nonprofit that would help students start lawn mowing businesses and find clients. She signed up this year, and convinced her younger brother to sign up, too.
KARINA: We usually split our like our work. So he does the backyard most of the time and I do the front yard.
Her brother Rizo Mekhtiev is 13. He says he likes working with his sister, but the job isn’t always easy.
RIZO: I do not like it when it’s very hot. That’s my least favorite thing when it’s hot, and the grass just comes flying at you. But that’s like, the only thing I don’t like – the rest is just awesome.
Student Startup helps students get the equipment they need and coaches them in business skills. It also provides one very important aspect of a new business: clients. Joe Woodward started the group with a friend in 2017.
WOODWARD: Without customers, you don’t have a business. And so we are that matchmaker between entrepreneurial young people, and homeowners who want to give students an opportunity, they just don’t know where to find the good ones. So capital coaching and customers is sort of our recipe for our program.
First they worked with two students. Then six, then 20. Now almost 60 students are participating in the program. Students ages 13-19 typically work with the program for 18 months to two years.
Staff are very clear that this is a Christian organization, but youth are not required to attend church or agree with Christian teaching. Woodward estimates about only about half of their students regularly attend church.
WOODWARD: How do you set yourself apart from the other options? How do you create additional value? And then taking it one more step? It’s, what would Jesus do if he was doing this work?
Students can join the program for free, but the group gets a percentage of their earnings when they provide a customer for the student. Currently about 20 percent of its budget is from acquisition fees. The rest comes from fundraising.
The program originally grew out of staff members’ desire to help boys become men. They want to help teens see themselves as producers rather than consumers.
WOODWARD: Much of what the world defines as being a man is based on what you consume. It’s drink this, drive that, do this – it’s all based on what you’re consuming makes you a man. That’s like, that’s, that’s silly. It’s based on what you produce, which really shows that you’re an adult, not a little boy anymore.
But the program works for girls, too.
WOODWARD: We’ve had a handful of girls, we had one girl who was running circles around the boys, she was making $5,000 a month with her lawn mowing business. She was incredible.
About two years ago, they added another program for girls who want to learn to babysit. And this summer, the group added another option for students who have their own business ideas.
But most students choose to enter the mowing program. Starting in January, the staff recruits teens for the program, often from entrepreneurship classes at the local public schools.
Working with teens isn’t always easy. Sometimes clients call Student Startup to let them know a job wasn’t done right. Woodward says this is where coaching comes in.
WOODWARD: You gotta go take this kid out to lunch, or better yet go with him on his job, and correct him on these on these areas. And again, it’s the opportunity to get to the heart of thing.
Woodward says another big challenge is a lack of transportation. Often staff members and volunteers need to help students with getting them – and their equipment – to clients.
Wyatt Abell is a college student studying industrial engineering at Wichita State University. He’s thinking about going into seminary. This summer, he worked full-time coaching students in the lawnmowing program.
ABELL: My coaching with students is more shoulder to shoulder like training them, you know, how to mow a lawn, how to edge how to trim, and do a good job…and then continues to you know, conversations in the car, things like that and helping develop them spiritually and morally.
Abell recommends the students read or listen to books like Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse and What is Reformed Theology by RC Sproul. Students aren’t required to complete the audiobooks, but they receive $50 for each book they read.
Karina and Rizo say they’ve learned a lot about how to get the job done.
RIZO: Never cut the grass too short. Do it in a very nice and neat way, so your customer knows you’re a good person and you’ll do the best and their lawn will look good. Always blow, make sure everything’s clean. Make sure nothing’s in the yard before starting to cut so you don’t break or damage anything.
Thanks to Student Startup, the siblings now have five regular customers. At first Wyatt Abell drove them to their lawn mowing clients. But then Karina and Rizo used their job profits to buy a bike trailer. Now, they can carry their mower to their jobs. That will work for now—though Karina hopes to have her own car next year. In the meantime, the duo is still splitting the work—and the fun.
KARINA: Whoever finishes first mowing and trimming gets the blower. And if we finish at the same time, we kind of fight over it. We make up these jokes and whoever roasts each other more gets the blower.
Today, Rizo won. The siblings pack up their mower for the first time on their new trailer. It’s a satisfying end to a job well done.
AUDIO: [Blower noise]
RIZO: My favorite part is just looking at the finished work and saying, Wow, we came in and it was all full grown. And now it’s like, all clean.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Lauren Dunn in Wichita, Kansas.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, October 20th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Immigration at the United States’ Southern border has been a problem for a while now. Commentator Cal Thomas says President Biden’s recent decision to deport Venezuelans isn’t likely to help.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: After refusing to do anything substantive about stopping the flood of migrants entering the country illegally, President Biden has acted, sort of. Only a cynic would say his order to deport certain Venezuelans, but not those from 40 other nations, is timed to influence the November election.
Call me a cynic.
The administration plans to invoke Title 42, a rule created during the Trump Administration and one Biden denounced for inflicting “cruelty and exclusion” on those fleeing the government of Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro. The new/old policy is intended to block single adult male Venezuelans from entering when they claim asylum.
That won’t stop them or anyone else from crossing the Rio Grande River and other points. Suppose the “single adult male” claims to be married? What if he is carrying a baby he claims is his? Most immigrants lack documentation so how will any of their statements be validated?
Customs and Border Protection says it encountered nearly 204 thousand people at the border last month and more than two million in all of fiscal 2022. This doesn’t count the “gotaways,” estimated by Border Patrol to be nearly 600 thousand.
George Rodriguez is an American of Mexican decent who lives in San Antonio and regularly visits local migrant centers. He also worked in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations on community relations and immigration outreach.
Rodriguez, who vehemently opposes the “open border” policy of the Biden Administration, thinks his fellow Americans should look beyond the crisis to the future impact of massive migration. These include, he says, a continuing disrespect for the law; the burden on the public school system, students and taxpayers; the need for special education and Spanish speaking teachers for immigrant children; welfare, disability payments and health and medical services.
Rodriguez worries that many of those who have entered the country illegally will not be fully assimilated. He fears that should Republicans regain power in Congress and the presidency they may not finish the border wall and deport those who broke the law to get here for fear of the media calling them “racists” and “inhumane.”
He also is critical of two major Spanish speaking television networks – Telemundo and Univision — which, he says, defend those coming across the border and influence migrants already here.
Rodriguez has questions he thinks must be addressed. These include whether law enforcement will be allowed to track alien criminals? Will the cartels be designated terrorist organizations because of the Fentanyl drug pouring into the country that is killing especially younger Americans? Will some district attorneys continue to put “social justice” ahead of public safety? Will unskilled, unemployed aliens turn to crime like the Salvadoran gangs of the 1980s?
All of these–and more–are good questions. Will Republicans answer them in ways that in the words of the Constitution “provide for the common defense [and] promote the general welfare”?
President Biden’s cynical response to the border crisis by ordering out single male Venezuelans will not stop migrants coming from 40 other countries.
I’m Cal Thomas.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Tomorrow on Culture Friday, the political ad that takes falsehood to another level. Andrew Walker joins us to talk about it.
And, Word Play with George Grant.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.
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