WORLD Radio – The World and Everything in It – December 21, 2021
Drunk driving prevention; a Delaware church’s legal fight for worship protections; and Whitney Williams and Jenny Lind Schmitt share some of their favorite holiday dishes. Plus: commentary from Kim Henderson, and the Tuesday morning news.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
New car technologies of the future could stop drunk driving before it starts.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Also a legal fight to protect religious liberty in the future.
Plus two of our own share their favorite holiday dishes.
And the importance of believing.
REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, December 21st. 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: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Biden tightens fuel-economy standards » The White House lamented would-be climate change measures in the now-stalled spending bill. But the Biden administration is still marching forward on the president’s climate agenda. WORLD’s Josh Schumacher has that story.
JOSH SCHUMACHER, REPORTER: The EPA issued a rule on Monday to tighten fuel efficiency standards and cut emissions.
It would raise mileage standards starting in the 2023 model year, with an industry-wide target of 40 miles per gallon by 2026.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan called the rule “a giant step forward” in delivering on President Biden’s climate agenda. He also said it helps “pave the way toward an all-electric, zero-emissions transportation future.”
The EPA says transportation is the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, making up 29 percent of all emissions.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher.
Haiti missionaries press conference » At a news conference Monday, an Ohio-based missions group explained how a group of missionaries escaped their captors in Haiti.
The 400 Mawozo gang took 17 missionaries hostage in October, 12 adults and five children, and demanded millions in ransom money.
Christian Aid Ministries spokesman Weston Showalter told reporters…
SHOWALTER: On several occasions they planned an escape, but they had decided if specific things didn’t happen at specific times that they had determined as a group, they would accept that as God’s direction to wait.
The gang released five of the missionaries earlier this month. But it did not release the rest of the group. Instead, on the night of Dec. 15th, the 12 remaining captives found their way to an open door and snuck out, escaping the guards’ notice.
The group carried the children into a forest through gang territory for roughly 12 miles before day broke. A Haitian found them and helped them call the police.
Christian Aid Ministries general director David Troyer told reporters …
TROYER: All of the hostages seem to be doing reasonably well. In fact, yeah, I think we can honestly say that.
While the missionaries were in captivity, the gang moved them multiple times and kept them mostly in small, barricaded rooms. The gang provided baby food for the young children, basic hygiene necessities, and sparse meals.
Earlier reports indicated a Haitian driver was also kidnapped, but Troyer said the driver was actually a Canadian missionary.
Moderna: Initial booster data shows good results on omicron » Moderna said Monday that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine should offer strong protection against the omicron variant. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Moderna said lab tests showed the half-dose booster shot increased antibodies by 37-fold. And a full-dose booster was even stronger, triggering an 83-fold jump in antibody levels.
Most Moderna boosters are a half-dose, but many health officials recommend a full-dose third shot for people with weakened immune systems.
The new test data is not yet peer reviewed, but testing by the National Institutes of Health found a similar jump.
Pfizer recently announced lab tests that also found that boosters of its vaccine also triggered a big jump in omicron-fighting antibodies.
Other research suggests that even without a booster shot, those who are fully vaccinated, likely still have fairly strong protection against severe illness.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Jury begins deliberating cop’s case in Daunte Wright death » The fate of suburban Minneapolis police officer Kim Potter is now in a jury’s hands. Attorneys made their closing arguments on Monday.
Potter is charged with manslaughter in the death of black motorist Daunte Wright during a traffic stop back in April.
She said she intended to use her Taser, but instead, under stress, grabbed her gun and pulled the trigger before realizing her mistake.
In footage of the incident, Potter was heard shouting a warning that she was about to fire her Taser. She took the stand on Friday and tearfully told the court she did not want to hurt anybody.
But on Monday, prosecutor Erin Eldridge told jurors…
ELDRIDGE: This case is about the defendants rash and reckless conduct. It’s not about her being a nice person or a good person. Even nice people have to obey the law.
But Potter’s attorney Earl Gray argued that Wright “caused the whole incident” because he tried to flee from police during a traffic stop. He said Potter mistakenly grabbed her gun instead of her Taser because the traffic stop—quote—“was chaos.”
GRAY: Her acts were all legal. Everything she did was legal. And then he tries to break away and consciously, she thought she was doing the right thing.
The 49-year-old Potter is charged with first- and second-degree manslaughter.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: the shortage of school counselors.
Plus, the call to believe at Christmas.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday, the 21st of December, 2021. Thanks for joining us for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up, preventing drunk driving.
Among the many items in President Biden’s infrastructure bill is a new technology requirement for cars rolling off the assembly line.
WORLD’s Caleb Bailey reports.
CALEB BAILEY, REPORTER: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 28 people die every day as a result of drunk driving. Most states already have penalties for driving under the influence. But prevention relies on enforcement and catching drivers in the act.
Keeping impaired drivers off the road falls to friends or bartenders. But what if the cars themselves could help?
In a decade or so, they will. The new infrastructure bill passed last month includes a provision that will eventually require alcohol detection technology in all new vehicles.
Alex Otte is the president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
OTTE: So that’s something that’s really important is all of the technology being considered, even though one hasn’t been chosen, that’s just a condition for it to be considered as one of the options is that it’s entirely passive.
Otte is the organization’s first president who’s not a parent. She’s also the first to be injured in a drunk driving accident, rather than lose someone. She was 13 years old when an intoxicated boater ran into her on a jet ski, causing severe injuries and putting her in a week-long coma.
OTTE: So I knew then that I wanted to be the last little girl it would ever happen to and I know 11 years later that I wasn’t. But I will fight for the rest of my life to see a day when there’s a last little girl and there’s a last victim of drunk driving.
Otte says the mandate for technology to prevent drunk driving is a proactive step in that direction. She says the technology would passively monitor a driver’s performance to look for signs of impairment.
And there are lots of ways that might work. Otte’s team has sent a list of 241 different types of technology to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for consideration.
Those suggestions fall into three basic categories.
First, driving performance monitoring.
OTTE: An example of that is like lane departure warning, automatic braking, things that monitor what the car is actually doing.
Second, driver monitoring.
OTTE: An example that puts cameras in either the dash or in the rearview mirror to monitor a person’s eye gaze, whether they’re looking down for too long, there’s signs of impairment, things like that.
And finally, alcohol detection.
OTTE: An example of that is putting sensors either in the steering wheel or in the Start button that can measure how much alcohol is in a person’s sweat.
What’s not up for consideration? Technology already used to monitor people with previous drunk driving convictions. Things like breathalyzers or ignition locks.
OTTE: So the drunk or otherwise impaired driver will get in their car, and it either won’t start won’t move, or will pull itself over once it detects impairment, depending on which technology’s chosen, the sober driver will get in their car and never even know it’s there.
Otte says measures the government regulators are reviewing could save many lives. But they would come with a cost. Cars equipped with the new technology will be more expensive and so will any required repairs.
William Yeatman is research fellow at CATO Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies.
YEATMAN: So the direct costs, as I understand, don’t at this point be appear to be earth-shattering.
But direct costs aren’t the only potential financial impact.
YEATMAN: It would appear that there is a huge unanswered potentially indirect cost or more more likely an unintended consequence. And that is, by requiring this of automakers, it could potentially or stands poised to roil our regulatory and insurance frameworks for drunk driving liability.
If the technology fails, and the impaired driver gets into a wreck, who’s liable? The driver or the manufacturer?
Despite those concerns, automakers are already using technology that helps drivers … drive better. Some manufacturers, including GM, BMW, and Nissan have installed infrared cameras in vehicles that monitor driver behavior and semi-automated driver assist to prevent things like dangerous lane changes.
Yeatman says that makes this new mandate even more puzzling.
YEATMAN: But to the extent that automakers were already doing this, why did Congress have to step in with a mandate? And that’s by no means an endorsement of drunk driving.
Mandating the new technology industry-wide artificially accelerates the production and testing process. That could open a Pandora’s Box of indirect consequences and legal headaches.
YEATMAN: But I guess my point here would be, you know, the nature of government intervention in these sorts of things is to engender unintended consequences that perhaps outsize the original problem even.
One potential consequence: a system failure that renders a car undrivable in an emergency situation not involving alcohol.
But implementation is still a ways down the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has 3 to 6 years to decide on a technology. It must then give automakers enough time to develop a system. That could take another two or three years.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Caleb Bailey.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: Churches working to prevent future pandemic restrictions.
Bans on coming together to worship imposed during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic have largely come to an end. But two churches in Delaware are suing their state governor hoping to prevent that from happening again.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Joining us to talk about it is Steve West. He’s an attorney and writes about religious liberty issues for WORLD Digital. Good morning to you, Steve!
STEVE WEST, REPORTER: Good morning, Mary.
REICHARD: Well, tell us about who filed this lawsuit and what are they asking the court to do?
WEST: One lawsuit was filed by David Landow, the pastor of Emmanuel Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware. The other was filed by Alan Hines, pastor of Townsend Free Will Baptist Church, who actually was born in Asheville, North Carolina and raised in nearby Swannanoa. So, there may be different theological perspectives represented here, but the two pastors are united in their concern that religious worship be protected from governmental overreach.
REICHARD: What are they arguing in this lawsuit?
WEST: They want a court order to block any future shutdown restrictions on worship, for one thing. They also want to block government attempts to interfere with preaching and teaching or to prohibit singing or celebrating the sacraments. So this cuts a bit broader than just bans on gathering together at church, as it was really an effort to micromanage religious worship. And they seek damages for restrictions imposed in the past.
One interesting argument is rooted in the Delaware Constitution, which they argue is more protective of religious liberty than the US Constitution. The state constitution’s language bars government exercise of power to “interfere with or in any manner control the rights of conscience in the free exercise of religious worship”–words that they argue are absolute. No strict scrutiny test here. That’s the highest level of judicial scrutiny that applies when a fundamental right is infringed upon by the government. No showing by the government of a compelling interest or least restrictive means to achieve that interest. No, they argue this is an absolute bar to governmental regulation of church worship.
REICHARD: Isn’t this a moot point? Haven’t the restrictions been lifted?
WEST: They anticipate that argument from the state. Some other states restricted their governors’ emergency powers after the height of the pandemic. But Delaware hasn’t done that. So they argue that although Gov. John Carney dialed back the restrictions last July, he could reimpose them at any time–and, in fact, with new variants of COVID out there, he’s indicated that he will consider that.
REICHARD: What have the courts ruled so far with regard to reasonable or unreasonable restrictions?
WEST: In February, a Supreme Court majority struck down California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s near total ban on indoor worship, following a late 2020 ruling where it blocked New York City’s numerical caps on worship. A conservative majority concluded that California could not treat churches differently than other businesses that capped capacity at 25%. The clear message: No discrimination. Treat businesses and churches the same.
REICHARD: Okay, so what happens next?
WEST: Unlike cases brought during the height of the pandemic, the churches have not asked for an immediate order blocking further restrictions. That’s according to Delaware attorney Thomas Crumplar, who represents both pastors. But he said that the case would go through the normal process to hopefully wind up with a judgment declaring the rights of churches under the Delaware Constitution.
REICHARD: How have other states dealt with this?
WEST: Over half the states have placed limits on executive powers. They’ve passed laws that restrict governors and health officials in what they can do and for how long they can do it without legislative authorization.Some of these laws limit governors’ and health officials’ ability to impose mask mandates, require vaccinations, and quarantine and isolate individuals. Some critics say this impedes states’ ability to react quickly to dire public health emergencies. But proponents such as Republican Arkansas state Sen. Trent Garner point to the importance of keeping power close to the people. Garner said: “What the people of Arkansas want is the decision to be left in their hands, to them and their family.”
Steve West writes about religious liberties for WORLD Digital. You can read his work at WNG.org. You can also subscribe to his free weekly newsletter on First Amendment issues, called Liberties. Steve, always good to have you on. Thank you!
WEST: Glad to be on. Thank you, Mary.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, December 21st. You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we’re so glad you are!
Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: holiday cooking.
This year, for a special Christmas treat, we asked our WORLD Radio team members to take their microphones into the kitchen while they prepared their favorite holiday dishes.
REICHARD: For the next few days, we invite you to join us as we measure the flour, juice the lemons, and try not to knock over the jar of cookie sprinkles. First up, Whitney Williams.
AUDIO: Macaroni and cheese!
WHITNEY WILLIAMS: Mac and cheese: The ultimate Christmas comfort food and a favorite in the Williams’ household. While other dishes go home in Tupperware, my mac and cheese gets scraped from its dish.
AUDIO: Sound of kids opening the microwave and stirring the sauce
What’s my secret? A man named Bob. Trusty Bob Evans. It’s his recipe and it’s nearly impossible to mess up, as he’s already prepared it for me. “Here, Whitney, let me get that for you,” says Bob. “I know you’re busy.”
That Bob, such a nice guy. He comes through for me every year. All I have to do is remove his masterpiece from its cardboard sleeve, stab the plastic film that covers it a few times, place it in the microwave, cook it for a few minutes, take it out, remove the film, stir it, and place it back in the microwave for a few more minutes. This year, I let my boys take care of the whole thing—my eldest can read now.
AUDIO: [8-year-old reading/deciphering directions, twins fighting over who gets to stir and push buttons on the microwave, and then the microwave ‘dinging’ that it’s ready]
Voila, a beloved masterpiece.
When it comes to mac and cheese, my three boys—and even my mother—do not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it. My husband likes to rag on me for my store-bought, microwave mac and cheese, but he admits it tastes better than any homemade mac and cheese he’s had in the past—and his mom is a fabulous cook.
“Of course it’s good,” I tell him. “How do you think it got into the refrigerated section at the grocery store?”
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I mumble to myself, as I dig out my husband’s grandmother’s lace tablecloths and the china that my Papaw gave to my Memaw on their wedding day in 1959—white, trimmed with silver; a red rose on each delicate plate.
Only the best for my Christmas guests.
I’m Whitney Williams.
MARY REICHARD: Ya know, I appreciate that recalibration of unrealistic expectations! Who needs that anyway?
NICK EICHER: Ahem, I do. Those tacos aren’t going to grill themselves, not to give too much away!
REICHARD: Next up, a holiday treat that takes a little more effort to prepare. Here’s European correspondent Jenny Lind Schmitt.
AUDIO: We’re going to make Gluten Free stollen
JENNY LIND SCHMITT, REPORTER: Stollen, sometimes called Christstollen, is a dense Christmas bread that originated in Germany.
AUDIO: And it’s got flour, sugar, baking powder. Things that make it interesting are lots of butter and eggs, and vanilla…
When I met my husband Manu, his family introduced me to the tradition of eating Christmas stollen. I quickly adopted this tradition for myself.
AUDIO: Some people put almonds. We will actually be putting marzipan. Which is an option…
When I stopped eating gluten 14 years ago, this Christmas treat was one of the things I missed most. So one year, Manu made me a gluten free version. It was even better than I had remembered! He’s made them every Christmas since.
Like many things in our lives, the recipe is a mash-up of European and American. Some measurements are by volume: 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder, and others by weight: 170 grams of ricotta cheese.
AUDIO: We need 351 grams of flour, not 350…
The first step is measuring out the flour and then cutting in the butter.
AUDIO: I’m cutting the butter into small chunks.
AUDIO: [CRACKING EGGS]
While Manu mixes together the eggs and ricotta cheese, I cut dried apricots into small pieces.
AUDIO: [CUTTING DRIED APRICOTS]
The recipe calls for raisins, which he replaces with dried cranberries and candied orange peel.
AUDIO: [COOKING ALMONDS]
Manu remembers that he needs to toast the sliced almonds, so he quickly browns them in butter, and adds them to the mix.
The first references to Christmas Stollen came from a document from Dresden, Germany, in 1474. At that time, people were supposed to fast during the Advent season, and the church banned bakers from using butter. They could only use oil, and that was made from turnips. Their cakes were dry, and not very tasty.
So in the late 1400s, the Prince Elector of Saxony and his brother Duke Albrecht wrote a letter to the Pope to ask for special permission to use butter. The Pope denied the request. But the brothers didn’t give up.
AUDIO: [SCRAPING PAN]
Five popes later, Pope Innocent VIII replied with what became known as the “Butter Letter.” He gave permission to the Prince Elector to use butter in Advent cooking, but only for his family.
AUDIO: [SCALE BEEP]
Other people could use butter, but then they had to pay a stiff fine to help build the Freiberg cathedral. Less than 30 years later, Saxony became protestant and the butter fines were lifted. The Reformation may have had more to do with butter than we realize!
After kneading the sticky mixture into a dough, Manu shapes it into two oblong pieces on a wooden board. He rolls out the almond paste, called marzipan, until it’s an 8 inch-long log. He lays the marzipan down the center of the oblongs, folds the dough over it, and neatly tucks under the edges. It’s a little like swaddling a baby, and that’s not a coincidence. The finished bread is supposed to symbolize the Christ Child, wrapped in swaddling clothes.
AUDIO: [STOLLEN INTO THE OVEN]
Into the oven it goes for 40 minutes. Before long the fragrant aroma of butter, almonds, and orange wafts from the kitchen.
AUDIO: When I grew up, I had stollen because my mom would order it. So stollen for me means Christmas!
It’s almost done.
AUDIO: After they come out, we will brush them with two tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle them with confectioner’s sugar. And then once they’ve cooled off, we’re gonna brush them with butter again, and in case there wasn’t enough sugar, sprinkle them with sugar again.
AUDIO: [TAKING OUT OF THE OVEN]
Manu uses a pastry brush to slather the cakes with butter. Then he shakes on powdered sugar through a small sieve.
AUDIO: It’s like snow. Snow falling on Stollen.
Once well-sugared and wrapped, stollen will keep for a couple weeks. But solely for the purposes of sharing the experience with you, we decide to try it immediately.
AUDIO: Usually you don’t cut it right away, but I want to check that it’s done well. Because it’s still kind of crumbly. The marzipan is melty. Mmm.
He slices a couple pieces, and we enjoy.
AUDIO: Sweet enough? Buttery enough? …
I do like to spread butter on the top.
For tasting, for right now, it’s really good.
The rest gets wrapped up to eat later with our kids.
AUDIO: Thank you for making this for me.
I’m Jenny Lind Schmitt enjoying my Christmas stollen spread thickly with butter in Porrentruy, Switzerland.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, December 21st. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Here’s WORLD commentator Kim Henderson on the one thing that really matters.
KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: My aunt on Olive Street sends the first card every year. It’s there in the mailbox the day after Thanksgiving just as sure as a Black Friday sales paper. White envelope. Loping cursive in black ballpoint. Her short-and-sweet “Love, Aunt Elaine” written inside might as well be a Christmas couplet: The card’s here. Get your act in gear.
Maybe that’s why our kids always lauded her card’s arrival with excitement, but me, not so much. Her cards represent the Christmas countdown. They’re paper with anxiety-producing power.
I was still recovering from my turkey act when this year’s card arrived. Someone opened it and bravely left it on the kitchen island, with all its cranberry sauce puddles still waiting to be wiped away.
I don’t remember when I actually took time to read the card, but when I did I found a one-word imperative on its snowy cover: Believe. That’s it. My aunt sent good tidings to the tune of seven letters. B-e-l-i-e-v-e.
Which left me wondering: Just what am I to believe? Seems I’m prodded to “just believe” everywhere I go this season.
The Polar Express wants me to believe I’ll have everything I need, if I just believe.
The instructions on my poinsettias want me to believe I can keep them alive until spring.
My neighbor wants me to believe we have a shot at a white Christmas.
The jeweler wants me to believe Minnie Mouse mother-of-pearl earrings are a meaningful gift.
UPS wants me to believe they’ll be here by 7 tonight.
My father-in-law wants me to believe he can’t come up with a single, solitary thing he’d like for Christmas.
And, oh yeah, the radio wants me to believe this is the most wonderful time of the year.
Maybe it is, but not because of its music or its movies or even its peppermint bark, as grand as it is.
What must I believe? Well, I must believe what the Bible teaches. That Jesus is the God/Man. That He humbled Himself to reveal God to us. That He suffered much that we might live.
Hebrews tells us to take heed against having an “unbelieving heart,” the kind that would lead us away from God. The old Puritan John Owen called that book “The Epistle of Warning,” because there is such a thing as apostasy. Whatever this season calls us to believe, it demands one thing in particular: that we hold fast to our belief in Christ.
Of course, we’re clad in clay, so we will believe imperfectly. But the object of our faith has promised to keep us believing.
So, the Christmas card from my aunt—the one that came straight from Olive Street—is right on spot this year. Yes, it’s right on spot with its one-word admonition.
I’m Kim Henderson.
Could I just add another one-word admonition? Support.
We’ve been emphasizing it all month because it is that important.
And it’s as simple as that one word.
Yes, to produce a program like this requires effort: effort in reporting—effort in writing, effort in editing. It also requires professional skill and specialized tools to do the job.
But no amount of effort and skill can overcome a lack of support.
So if WORLD means something to you, if you’ve come to rely on us every day to provide the news you need from a perspective you trust, would you support it?
We’re down to our last few days in our December Giving Drive. And so I hope you’ll take a moment today to visit WNG.org/donate. Please make a gift of support today.
Thank you and Merry Christmas.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: Washington’s power broker. We’ll talk about Joe Manchin’s influence on the Democrats’ agenda.
And, two more holiday dishes. One for dinner and one for dessert.
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.
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The Bible says: For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Go now in grace and peace.
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