MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
Governments all around the country are claiming enormous emergency powers, laying extraordinary burdens on free citizens. What are the limits?
Today, a conversation on that with a former U.S. attorney.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.
Also today: World Tour. Plus some advice from a veteran educator on how to manage “crisis schooling.”
And Joel Belz on the benefits of distance education.
REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, April 1st. 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 has today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: U.S. death rate could peak within two weeks » At the White House Tuesday, President Trump and top health officials said what Americans do over the next month, could save hundreds of thousands of lives.
TRUMP: It’s absolutely critical for the American people to follow the guidelines for the next 30 days.
Officials said if Americans take the social distancing guidelines seriously, the death rate in the United States from COVID-19 could peak within the next two weeks and improve after that.
The U.S. government’s top expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told reporters…
FAUCI: We’re going to continue to see things go up. We cannot be discouraged by that because the mitigation is actually working and will work.
Even so, the numbers are sobering. White House coronavirus response coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, displayed several charts and graphs. One chart showed a current computer model predicting the U.S. death rate will peak on April 15th, with more than 2,200 deaths on that date alone. And the model projects more than a 100,000 Americans will die between now and June.
Birx said those are the expectations with social distancing and full mitigation. But then she pointed to another chart.
BIRX: But this is a slide that gives us great hope and understanding about what is possible.
The chart showed significant progress in California and Washington—states that have taken big steps to mitigate the spread of the virus. That she said shows what’s possible with aggressive action.
NY, NJ continue to struggle with rapidly spreading coronavirus » Meantime, in New York and New Jersey the situation looks grimmer.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said Tuesday that over the past 24 hours, his state has seen nearly 2,200 new coronavirus cases.
MURPHY: Since yesterday, another 69 residents have died, and that total now stands at 267, each one of them another precious life lost from our New Jersey family.
New Jersey now has nearly 19,000 cases total.
And New York now has more than 75,000 cases. Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state still does have all the supplies and equipment it needs, especially ventilators. The federal government is sending ventilators to the states, but not fast enough to keep up with demand. And Cuomo said states are competing against one another to secure the devices.
CUOMO: It’s like being on eBay with 50 states bidding on a ventilator. And you see the bid go up because California bid, Illinois bid, Florida bid, New York bids, California re-bids. That’s literally what we’re doing.
Governor Cuomo’s brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo tested positive this week for the coronavirus. He said he is doing well, and Chris Cuomo will continue hosting “Cuomo Prime Time” from his home.
DOJ watchdog finds broader FBI wrongdoing in FISA program » The Justice Department’s inspector general says the FBI has misused the FISA surveillance program. And he said the bureau’s violations aren’t limited to the Trump-Russia probe. WORLD’s Anna Johansen has more.
ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: After the inspector general submitted his findings in December about the FBI’s use of the FISA program in the Russia probe, he announced a broader review.
And on Tuesday, Michael Horowitz said the FBI has repeatedly broken its own rules when submitting FISA applications.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—or FISA—allows the bureau to conduct wiretaps in national security investigations provided the case meets certain conditions. But it appears the FBI has made a habit of fudging the facts.
Horowitz said in a letter to FBI Director Chris Wray that in four of the 29 FISA applications his office selected for review, the FBI could not produce any supporting documents or records.
And in the other 25 applications, he “identified apparent errors or inadequately supported facts in all” of them.
As a result, Horowitz wrote, “we do not have confidence” that the bureau has followed FBI policy or that it is achieving “the ‘scrupulously accurate’ standard for FISA applications.”
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.
Trump admin rolls back Obama-era emission standards » The Trump administration rolled back Obama-era vehicle mileage standards on Tuesday. The EPA released a final rule that lifts the ceiling on emissions through 2026.
The change scales back strict mileage standards designed to push automakers toward electric cars and more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, released a statement Tuesday. He said the final rule “strikes the right regulatory balance that protects our environment, and sets reasonable targets for the auto industry.” He said this rule “supports our economy, and the safety of American families.”
Opponents contend the change guts responsible standards that benefit drivers, public health, and the environment.
Judges say abortions must continue amid pandemic » Healthcare providers across the country have postponed elective surgeries during the COVID-19 outbreak. Federal courts are telling states that doesn’t apply to abortions, though at least one state has won its appeal. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has that story.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Several governors have ordered a halt to nonessential medical procedures, including abortion. But federal judges in Alabama, Ohio, and Texas rolled back the measures this week. Judges are expected to rule soon in similar cases in Iowa and Oklahoma.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Texas said the governor’s order violated the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and halted the state’s freeze on abortions.
But Texas appealed the ruling, and in a split decision the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Yeakel’s order.
In Ohio, U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett instructed abortionists to determine on a case-by-case basis whether delaying an abortion could save resources—such as personal protective equipment needed to fight the coronavirus.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: government powers during a national health crisis.
Plus, tips for teaching the kids at home.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD: It’s Wednesday the 1st of April, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up: Washington Wednesday.
On Saturday, President Trump announced he would not issue quarantine orders for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Instead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a domestic travel advisory for the area. It encouraged Americans “to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.”
REICHARD: Although the president backed off a wide-scale quarantine, state leaders across the country are issuing their own orders. At least 30 states have some form of stay-at-home or shelter-in-place mandates. And in some places, police are arresting anyone who violates those orders.
Quarantines aren’t unheard of in the United States. Officials used similar restrictions during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918. But none of us was alive then, so this level of government control is a new experience.
EICHER: Joining us now to talk about what the government can and can’t do during a national health crisis is David Iglesias. He’s a former U.S. attorney who now teaches law and political science at Wheaton College. Good morning, professor!
DAVID IGLESIAS: Good morning!
EICHER: Let’s start at the federal level, and with the executive branch specifically. What powers does the president have to issue quarantines and travel bans, beyond say what he’s already done?
IGLESIAS: The thing to keep in mind is that the federal government has limited powers. Primarily the state, local government has greater direct power. Now, saying that, the federal government has enormous support power. So, in terms of creating materials to help state and local government. But for example, the president could not issue an order to quarantine a state or a city. That is something that is specifically reserved for the state and local government leaders.
EICHER: Does Congress have any role in this, or is this purely an executive branch prerogative?
IGLESIAS: No, Congress has an important role such as passing legislation such as the Defense Production Act of 1950, which allows the president to order key industries to stop making what they normally make and make something related to the war effort. So, I’m thinking of, theoretically, the president could order under the DPA General Motors to stop making cars and start making respirators.
EICHER: Which he did.
IGLESIAS: Correct. The president can also declare a national emergency, mobilize guard and reserve members—I’m a former reservist myself—and he can order the Navy hospital ships‚ one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, to go and provide medical services. So, but the congressional powers are pretty significant.
There’s a law called the Public Health Service Act, which gives the Centers for Disease Control and the Health and Human Services Department statutory authority over specific diseases. Not across the board, but specific diseases such as cholera, [tuberculosis], plague, smallpox, and flu-causing pandemics.
EICHER: Let’s move to the state level, because you said that seems to be really where the action is. Where do governors fit into the picture? Do they have the same powers—in a sense—than the president has at the federal level?
IGLESIAS: So, governors can issue quarantine orders, but cannot specifically target a certain city. So, the governor of Illinois cannot say, “Chicago, I’m shutting you down.” The mayor has that authority. So, the thing to keep in mind is their shared power. And the 10th Amendment to the Constitution makes clear that those powers not specifically allocated to the federal government have to go to the states.
EICHER: Let’s talk about how conflicts get resolved between federal and state officials. Last week President Trump had been talking about a goal of reopening the country by Easter. And some governors were saying they were not going along with that at all. So, let’s say in a situation where we run into a meaningful disagreement, who gets the final say so?
IGLESIAS: That would be a power reserve to the governor or to the mayor. So, I’m sure when the president initially said what he did, he probably then talked to White House counsel who said, “Mr. President, you don’t have that statutory or constitutional authority.”
EICHER: We’ve heard accounts of significant restrictions and surveillance tactics in other countries. I’m thinking specifically of Israel, where the government has faced criticism for tracking people’s movements via cell phone and things like that.
Now, I know that has no control over what we do in the United States. Nevertheless, we do watch what happens elsewhere fighting the pandemic, and I just wonder if those kinds of things might come here. Are there any limits that keep that from happening here in this country?
IGLESIAS: Well, now that’s an interesting question because Forbes magazine is reporting now that the U.S. government is in fact doing that also. The thing to keep in mind—if the listeners can remember one thing from my comments, it’s this: quarantine laws are the most extreme government power over a person who has not committed a crime.
So, provided the information is kept in the aggregate, that’s fine. I think that would pass constitutional muster. And, again, they’re not trying to put people in jail, they’re trying to make sure the quarantine laws are being kept. So, aggregated, anonymized information is probably constitutional, but that can be abused and that’s where the courts would come in.
EICHER: Do you worry at all that if we chip away at some of our civil liberties and we accept these during a time of legitimate crisis that it may be difficult for the government to give that up?
IGLESIAS: You know, no. Having been in government for most of my career—at the federal level primarily, but also at the state and local government—our government [is] comprised of citizens who, I think, understand what we have here in the United States is quite special.
EICHER: Let me ask you a final question related to churches. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio going back to Monday said he would close any places of worship that did not follow his shutdown orders. Then if we look at Florida, sheriff’s deputies have arrested a Tampa-area megachurch pastor who held services on Sunday despite local orders against mass gatherings.
Now, whether that’s a good idea or bad idea, are those officials on solid legal ground to do that?
IGLESIAS: I think probably, yes, provided that the order is enforced uniformly to all large organizations. So, there’s a problem if they would specifically target churches.
There’s an interesting case out of San Francisco called Jew Ho v. Williamson, it’s a 1900 case in which quarantine for bubonic plague in that case was enforced only against Chinese. And the Ninth Circuit struck that down. So, provided that the order is being uniformly applied against all organizations, it’s constitutional. If churches are being specifically targeted, that’s problematic in light of the First Amendment. I think the court will strike down that.
EICHER: Before I say goodbye, let me give you a wide open lane here. Maybe my questions didn’t elicit something you felt you needed to say here. So, this is just wide open if you want to add anything.
IGLESIAS: Well, thank you for giving me that. You know, there is tremendous governmental power, but it’s not unlimited. Go back to Harry Truman who tried to order a steel mill in the steel industry to stop making their products and make war time products. That’s the Youngstown steel case that the Supreme Court struck down that presidential action. So it is not unlimited.
Also, there’s an interesting case out of Massachusetts in which the Supreme Court heard a challenge to mandatory smallpox vaccination. Listen to this language, Justice Harlan said in the 7-2 majority, “The U.S. Constitution does not import an absolute right in each person to be at all times, and in all circumstances, wholly free from restraint. Rather, a community has a right to protect itself against an epidemic.”
That was true then, I think it’s true now. So, I would say we still have constitutional protections. This is temporary and this too will pass.
EICHER: David Iglesias is a professor of law and political science at Wheaton College. Thanks so much for joining us today.
IGLESIAS: Thank you, have a good day. Stay healthy, please.
MARY REICHARD: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Violence at Kenyan ferry dock—We start today here in Africa.
AUDIO: [People screaming, police yelling]
Hundreds of people thronged a dock in Kenya last week, trying to board a ferry ahead of the evening curfew. The ferry was running at low capacity and closing early in an effort to encourage social distancing.
When a huge crowd gathered at the dock, police used tear gas to disperse the passengers. They beat people with batons and shoved them to the ground, injuring dozens.
The ferry runs between mainland Kenya and the small island city Mombasa. Many Kenyans live on the mainland and travel to work on the island. The ferry is the only means of transportation.
North Korea missile launch—Next, we go to Asia.
AUDIO: [North Korean military parade]
North Korea fired two more test missiles early Sunday morning. The projectiles landed in the sea off the coast of Japan. In recent weeks, North Korea has fired a slew of test missiles in an apparent effort to reinforce national unity.
Some experts say the tests are designed to show that the regime is still in control in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. North Korea insists it has no cases of COVID-19.
Hungary rule by decree—Next, we go to Europe.
AUDIO: [Man speaking Hungarian]
The Hungarian parliament passed a law Monday that grants sweeping emergency powers to Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
The new law gives Orban the power to rule by decree indefinitely. It also ramps up punishment for people who spread false information about the pandemic. The government can now imprison people for up to five years.
The prime minister says the move was necessary to fight the coronavirus, but critics say he’s using the pandemic to grab power by declaring an indefinite state of emergency.
Van Gogh painting stolen—Next, we go to the Netherlands.
Thieves broke into a museum near Amsterdam early Monday morning. They smashed a glass door and made off with a painting by Dutch master Vincent van Gogh. That triggered an alarm, but the thieves were gone by the time police arrived.
AUDIO: [Man speaking Dutch]
The director of the museum announced the theft and asked any witnesses to step forward. The museum has been closed for two weeks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Van Gogh finished the painting in 1884. It depicts a spring garden and is valued at over $6 million. The theft took place on what would have been van Gogh’s 167th birthday.
Kidnapped Christian girl returned—Finally, we end today in Pakistan.
A 13-year-old Christian girl returned to her parents last week after 25 days in captivity. She was kidnapped by two Muslim men in early March. Her family went to the police, but at first they refused to help. Then the family’s story went viral on social media.
Her mother testified that the girl was forced to convert to Islam and marry one of her captors. On Thursday, a judge ordered the men to return the girl to her family—a rare victory for Pakistani Christians.
That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.
NICK EICHER: An astrophysicist at Melbourne University in Australia was recently hospitalized for reasons related to the coronavirus, but it’s not what you may think.
Twenty-seven-year-old Daniel Reardon did not contract the virus. No, he got magnets stuck in his nose!
Reardon and his research partner wanted to do their part to stem the spread of the virus. So they set out to design a device that would sound an alarm when a person’s hand approaches his face.
He was experimenting with magnets for the device. He put one on the outside of his nose and another two on the inside. But when he removed the ones on the outside, guess what happened?
AUDIO: [Magnet click]
Click. The little magnets inside snapped together, nice and tight. Probably didn’t feel great, either.
I’ve got a little rare-earth desk toy and so I recorded what I imagined it sounded like in the poor guy’s head.They’re pretty grabby!
And they don’t like to let go!
But back to our astrophysicist friend: He didn’t rush to the hospital. Instead he used another magnet to try to draw out the stuck ones. But that just made matters worse. That one got stuck too.
So he hustled off to the doctors, who did manage to get the magnets out and had a good laugh at Dr. Reardon’s expense.
For his part, he says he’s done with face-magnet experiments. But it’ll be awhile before he lives this one down!
REICHARD: I’m afraid it’s, ah, gonna stick, so to speak.
EICHER: It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, April 1st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: crisis schooling.
For those without much experience teaching, the sudden task of teaching at home can be daunting.
And with many school districts now saying school may not start up again on site until the fall, many parents are wondering how to make it work.
WORLD’s Emily Whitten now has some helpful tips for homeschool success.
EMILY WHITTEN, REPORTER: Recently, an overwhelmed Israeli mom recorded a video from the safe space of her car. It was the second day of distance learning for her four children. The video quickly went viral, getting translated into 20 languages, as moms and dads across the globe shared it in social media timelines. Here’s part of the YouTube version. I’ll read some of the English translation for you:
AUDIO [TRANSLATED]: Listen, it’s not working, this Distance Learning thing. Seriously–it’s impossible! It’s crazy….enough guys, teachers, dial it down, lower expectations!”
In addition to sudden onset homeschooling, many parents need to work from home. NPR’s Sarah McCammon described her new reality in this tweet: “Day 1 of Coronavirus Homeschool: Here’s a detailed itinerary by which we will live full and productive lives. Day 3: Here’s a donut; please put on pants by noon….”
The struggle is real, y’all.
I wish I could offer a cure for struggling families. But it’s unlikely we’ll get a sibling-rivalry vaccine anytime soon. Unlimited free knitting curriculum and online museum tours may distract kids for a minute, but let’s face it—they’re no panacea.
So, I offer what I can—a little encouragement.
Over the last three years, my oldest daughter went through a health crisis. It affected nearly every part of our family life, including our homeschooling. We spent many weeks and months stuck at home, missing out on church, co-op, time with friends. We got behind on our math lessons.
But we learned other things, like how to persevere through long days of frustration. We did unit studies on handling disappointment and anxiety. We took daily pop-quizzes on forgiving each other and living out God’s grace.
My 12-year old, Anna, says she learned practical ways to deal with stress. Her suggestions for others? Connect with friends. Do things differently—do school outside when you can. Here’s some of my conversation with Anna:
ANNA: Exercising helps a lot even if you don’t want to. Because it makes you feel so much better. Books are nice because you don’t really think about what’s going on. You get submerged into a little world where everything is good…well, things are not good but they’re not your problems! (laughter)
I learned the importance of prayer in a time of crisis. Pray alone. Pray with your spouse and kids. Pray with other moms and dads going through the same thing. Pray without ceasing, because you cannot win the spiritual battle you are in without God’s help.
I also learned the importance of support from other families. Homeschool veterans can be especially helpful. They can help you troubleshoot problems and remind you you aren’t completely crazy. In a pinch, check out online homeschool communities like Hip Homeschool Moms or Read Aloud Revival. Sarah Mackenzie’s book, Teaching from Rest, and her online resources can help you focus on God’s role in education.
MACKENZIE: (Teaching from Rest) First we remember what we’re doing, cultivating wisdom and virtue in our children. Who we’re doing it for is God. We have to go all in, fill our basket, fill our pitchers, whichever metaphor you wanna use. And then remember, He is responsible for the miracle.
Over the next few weeks, you and your kids may need to grieve real losses—milestones like graduation days that will never happen. People you love may lose their lives or their livelihood. Your kids may want to journal about this or spend extra time talking with friends. There is no shame in talking to a pastor or counselor if you need it.
In my experience, the two hardest parts of crisis homeschooling are finding a good daily rhythm and keeping kids motivated. To help with that, Christian author and podcaster Jonathan McKee suggests parents invite kids into the planning process. Maybe even have a family meeting about it:
MCKEE: (Parent Tips: Practical ideas) We as moms and dads make the mistake of just lecturing. But think about listening here. And maybe ask some questions. Say, hey, let’s say this is 4-6 weeks. What are your expectations for the next 4-6 weeks? What do you think your daily schedule will look like? I wanna hear from each of you. So literally go around the table and let each person share.
Involve your kids in setting a daily schedule…and let them choose some rewards. For younger kids, you could fill a shoebox full of dollar store treasures. Every afternoon, they pull out a reward when they finish their work. Let older kids brainstorm privileges they’d like to earn.
Remember, you don’t need to recreate an entire school day in your home. Kristen Rudd’s piece last week at the Circe Institute’s website is called Seven Ways to Weather Societal Shutdown with Your Children. She lists seven attainable goals for each day like “do some math” or “read part of a classic book.”
Kids doing online school or worksheets may have less flexibility, but parents can kindly let teachers know when expectations get too high. “Love covers a multitude of sins,” and we’re all on a learning curve right now.
One final lesson I’ll share: when you blow it, and you will, take five minutes and go eat some chocolate in your closet. Preferably dark chocolate. Then come back and ask your kids for forgiveness. Be honest about what God is teaching you, too. And pray together for the patience you need.
Then, keep going and trust God to work in the chaos. I’ll give the last word to my 14-year-old, Rebecca:
REBECCA: It’s not going to be normal, and you can’t make it normal…you have to decide what’s most important to you. You have to take a long view and know it’s not gonna last forever. The coronavirus isn’t gonna be here for the rest of your life. Even though it feels like it.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Emily Whitten.
NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, April 1st. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Next up, WORLD Founder Joel Belz recalls his experience with an early version of distance education.
JOEL BELZ, COMMENTATOR: My father was the ultimate do-it-yourselfer. He wasn’t always an especially patient man—which prompted him fairly often to “get on with things.” He dropped out of college and seminary two or three times, and always had an appropriate skepticism for academia. Which was odd, because folks who knew him tended to take seriously his views on the task of education.
Dad was also an early pioneer in what is now called “distance education.” The term refers to settings where the teacher is not in the same room with his or her students—and maybe even many miles away.
And now, for better or for worse, in this current coronavirus crisis, the concept has suddenly become a huge player. Within the last two or three weeks, millions of students who had been trundling along in traditional classrooms have found themselves reassigned to “distance education” arrangements.
Dad got into “distance education” because of his passion for planting new Christian schools—and especially new high schools. The strategic advantage of “distance education,” in almost every setting, is to make talented faculty accessible where they haven’t been accessible before. And I saw it work. I got to be part of it.
Thanks to Dad’s dogged pursuit, several of us banded together in the early 1970s to form the Cono Educational Network. At its peak, the Cono network combined 16 Christian high schools in a telephonic cooperative designed to enable those schools to share their best faculties with each other. Our 16 schools enrolled over 700 students and employed about 70 teachers.
Each of the 16 schools contributed what everyone hoped would be one of that school’s best teachers. All 16 schools, theoretically, got the cream of the crop. All this was delivered—live and two-way—by the host teacher over high quality AT&T lines to a learning center at each receiving school. Each student, equipped with his or her earphones, focused on the scheduled class. My dad would say: “In one ear, and in the other.” Basic skills tests tended to confirm his optimism.
Were there wrinkles and disadvantages? Indeed. You would laugh if I told you about some of them. But whatever limitations “distance education” might include, none are as limiting as having no teacher at all where one is needed. That’s why my dad became such a fan. And it’s why millions of students this spring are finishing this semester with their first exposure to distance education.
There were enough successes, victories, and lessons learned to prompt me to say: Don’t be overly skeptical or judgmental about distance education until you’ve seen it up close. I am still blessed now and then to bump into my students from 50 years ago. They remember—with fondness, they say—that I was their logic teacher back then. In today’s topsy turvy educational climate, that’s notable. American education—all apart from corona-virus—has some deep problems. We may need some approaches as radical as the Cono Network to bail us out.
I’m Joel Belz.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Healthcare workers on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19—we’ll hear from some of them about what it’s like.
Plus, a report on conscience-rights battles in Canada during the current health crisis.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
To all who labor and are heavy laden, the Lord says, come to Him and he will give you rest. You will find him gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Go now in grace and peace.