The World and Everything in It — April 15, 2020

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!

Presidential campaigning has taken a backseat to our national health crisis. But the November election will be here before we know it. How will COVID-19 affect the way Americans vote?

NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.

Also World Tour.

Plus a Notable Speech by former President Ronald Reagan to mark a Holocaust anniversary.

BROWN: It’s Wednesday, April 15th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrnan Brown.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!

BROWN: Up next, Kent Covington has today’s news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Trump halts U.S. funding to WHO » President Trump has officially halted funding for the World Health Organization. That as U.S. officials investigate the—quote—“organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.” 

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden Tuesday, the president laid much of the blame for the global pandemic at the feet of the WHO. He said the group “failed to investigate credible reports from sources in Wuhan” that conflicted “with the Chinese government’s official accounts.” 

TRUMP: The WHO’s reliance on China’s disclosures likely caused a 20-fold increase in cases, and it may be much more than that. The WHO has not addressed a single one of these concerns, nor provided a serious explanation. 

Trump again noted the WHO opposed his early decision to ban travel from China while many other nations followed the organization’s guidelines, keeping borders open to China. He added that accelerated the pandemic all around the world. 

The president said the United States is the world’s leading sponsor of the WHO, contributing nearly a half-billion dollars a year. And he said as such, the U.S. government has a duty to hold the group accountable. 

White House, states begin planning gradual reopening of economy » President Trump also said the White House is working on plans to gradually ease restrictions and reopen the country. 

Trump rankled some governors earlier this week by saying the federal government has absolute authority over how that process unfolds. 

But on Tuesday, he said everyone’s on the same team against this virus, and the governors will lead the way in their respective states. 

TRUMP: We’re all getting along and we all want to do the right thing. And I think they’re going to do a great job of leading their individual states. It will be a beautiful thing to watch. They’ll go and rely on their mayors and their local town officials. They’ll bring it right down, and Washington shouldn’t be doing that. 

But he said if he believes a state is mishandling the process or reopening too early, the White House will step in. 

Meantime, governors are already making their own plans to begin a gradual return to normal.

Some governors in the Northeast and along the West Coast announced separate agreements this week to coordinate the reopening of their economies. Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom told reporters…

NEWSOM: We just sent out a joint statement of a shared vision for a process and a protocol—a framework, we refer to it—for reopening, not just within our states, but more broadly as a region. 

Newsom is working with the governors of Washington and Oregon. 

And seven governors are teaming up on the East Coast. Both groups said reopening will be a gradual process and that health will remain the top priority. 

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said now is definitely not the time to scale back restrictions. 

But he’s planning ahead with the governors of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Navy removes some staff from hospital ship after testing positive for COVID-19 » The Navy has removed 126 medical staff members from its hospital ship docked in Los Angeles after seven of them tested positive for COVID-19. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The personnel from the USNS Mercy were taken to a nearby base and remain under quarantine. So far, none of them have needed hospitalization. 

It’s unclear where or how the sailors became infected.

All personnel were screened before boarding the ship, which arrived in L.A. late last month. 

None of the more than 1,000 personnel aboard were allowed to leave the ship once it departed San Diego. And the Mercy is only accepting patients not infected with the virus. 

Lt. Rochelle Rieger of the 3rd Fleet said “The only people going on and off the ship are the actual patients we’ve been treating so it’s very hard to trace where this came from.”

She said so far the ship has taken in only 20 patients from hospitals and none tested positive or showed any symptoms of the virus. 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Anna Johansen. 

IMF predicts worst year for global economy since Great Depression » The International Monetary Fund said Tuesday that it expects the world economy in 2020 will suffer its worst year since the Great Depression. 

That as the IMF issued its latest forecast. The group said it expects the global economy to shrink 3 percent this year—far worse than its 0.1 percent dip during the Great Recession in 2009. 

But IMF officials believe the global economy will rebound in 2021 with 5.8 percent growth. It acknowledges, though, that prospects for a rebound next year are clouded by uncertainty.

Obama, Sanders endorse Biden for president » Former President Barack Obama has formally endorsed his former vice president. Obama said Tuesday that Democrats must unite behind Joe Biden. 

OBAMA: Right now, we need Americans of good will to unite in a great awakening against a politics that too often has been characterized by corruption, carelessness, self-dealing, disinformation, ignorance, and just plain meanness. 

That came one day after Biden’s one-time rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, offered his endorsement.

Biden’s nomination for president became all but official when Sanders ended his campaign last week.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: a virtual stop on the presidential campaign trail.

Plus, Janie Cheaney on what our future self has to do with today.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MYRNA BROWN: It’s Wednesday the 15th of April, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up: campaigning for president during a national health crisis.

Last week, Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic primary, making Joe Biden the party’s presumptive nominee. At any other time, that would have been big news. But amid the wall-to-wall coronavirus coverage, it barely rated a mention.

BROWN: Right, while Biden is stuck at home like everyone else, he’s still trying to campaign—virtually. He’s reportedly done more than 40 remote interviews in the last month. And he’s speaking directly to voters through livestreams and even a new podcast.

And like the rest of the country, he’s focused on the coronavirus and the country’s eventual economic recovery. Here he is speaking in a video message posted on April 2nd.

BIDEN: I’ve done this work before. I can tell you it takes more than tweets and press conferences. It’s hard. It’s painstaking work. This is when leaders have to lead and governments have to work.

EICHER: Well, it’s Washington Wednesday. And joining us now to talk about the effect the pandemic is having on presidential politics is Kyle Kondik. He’s with the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. Good morning!

KYLE KONDIK, GUEST: Good morning!

EICHER: The 2020 presidential race—just like everything else—has been frozen for the last five weeks or so, at least the public piece of it. But surely they’re not sitting still. I imagine the candidates using the down time to—what? Build war chests? Work on grassroots? What are you hearing? 

KONDIK: Well, I think part of what at least the Biden campaign has been up to is bringing the primary essentially to a formal close, but of course, the president’s just going to get way more attention because he’s the commander in chief in the midst of a crisis. And so he’s been giving these long briefing updates basically every day. Now, what we have seen in the numbers is that people’s approval of the president’s handling of COVID-19 generally went up a little bit and now maybe it’s more reflective of his normal approval rating, which is somewhere around low 40s, 45 percent or so, disapproval over 50 percent. 

But also, we have seen some outside Democratic groups running ads criticizing the president on COVID-19 and the Republicans thus far have not really been running advertisements on television. Maybe that will end up changing here. And, of course, the president is kind of omnipresent anyway. So, in terms of media, the candidates are still out there to a great degree, but certainly for someone like the president particular who really thrives on having these big campaign events and filled arenas and things like that, those are things he can’t really be doing at this point.

EICHER: So, the president is able to show himself in charge and Biden’s just running. But there are other kind of smaller commanders on the scene. I’m thinking of state governors and local officials also getting some time in the national spotlight. Is any of that having an impact on the VP short list, to your mind? 

KONDIK: Well, you know, Joe Biden has indicated that he’s going to select a woman to be his vice president. And historically the Democrats really seem to favor U.S. senators when they pick vice presidents. Fifteen of the last 18 vice presidential selections on the Democratic side have been senators and yet it’s impossible not to notice the rise of some women governors who could be playing themselves into the VP sweepstakes. I think most notably you’d look at Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of Michigan. And Michigan, of course, is a very important presidential state although typically candidates are not chosen for their ability to help in a given state but rather for sort of bigger governance and optics reasons. But certainly I think Whitmer has become a contender for vice president, although there are many women in the U.S. Senate who are probably contenders as well. I’d say namely Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris in the Senate. And then also you’ve seen a number of governors on both sides of the political aisle I think essentially acquit themselves very well during this crisis. Thinking of folks like Mike DeWine, Republican in Ohio. Larry Hogan, Republican in Maryland. Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom. Democratic Governor Jay Inslee of Washington. Certainly Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic governor of New York, has become a much more visible, national figure throughout this crisis.

EICHER: I was thinking of something as you were talking there, Kyle, about how I wonder if Joe Biden is not feeling like, man, I boxed myself in. Newsom’s looking pretty good. Inslee’s looking pretty good. Cuomo. And they’re off the drawing board because of the promise he made.

KONDIK: Yeah, that’s right. And I don’t think that Biden can reverse himself on this. And it’s not like he doesn’t have qualified women to choose from, it’s just that many of them are in the Senate. And also, if you do select a senator and you end up winning the presidency, that senator obviously has to resign and become vice president and then that seat will be filled temporarily by a gubernatorial appointment in most places, but then there will be typically a special election. And if the senator chosen is from a competitive state, that could imperil a Democratic Senate seat and there’s no risk, obviously, to a Senate seat if you select a governor.

EICHER: OK. Well, let’s talk about the conventions for just a minute. The Democrats were planning mid-July in Milwaukee. That’s pushed back now a full month back to mid-August. I suppose it’s possible it would be canceled altogether. Nothing is for sure in these days. But how big a deal is the convention for Biden? And talk, too, about the Republicans.

KONDIK: Well, you know, historically, the conventions are an important kind of mile marker on the road to the general election in that often the parties will get a support bump in the polls immediately following the convention. Although it’s going to be a compressed effect this time if in fact the conventions are held back-to-back as they’re currently scheduled to be held over the course of two weeks in late August. 

There was in 2016 some agitation among supporters of Bernie Sanders at the convention that I think caused some headaches for the Hillary Clinton camp. Now that Sanders has already endorsed Biden and they seem to get along personally a bit better than Sanders and Clinton did in 2016, I wonder if those sorts of floor fights would be more muted in 2020, although, of course, if there’s a virtual convention, there’s no real opportunity for there to be a floor fight with the cameras spanning the crowd and showing protesters and that sort of thing. It would be just a different kind of effect. 

So, in some ways, it may be easier to project unity if there’s not an actual convention than if there is a physical convention. But this is all so much up in the air, we don’t know how long the social distancing requirements and suggestions will last. We’re all kind of flying blind here.

EICHER: Let me try to frame this up in the best way that I can. I’m reminded back before everything shut down, we had this sort of idea that there was a battle on for the soul of the Democratic party between the Bernie Sanders revolutionary wing and the Joe Biden sort of return-to-normalcy wing. So, the question I guess I have for you is did Joe Biden win the fight? Or did Joe Biden simply win the argument, “Hey, we don’t have time for this right now?”

KONDIK: I think in some ways the desire to beat Donald Trump kind of focused the Democrats on sort of the short term and thinking about who in this particular election was better equipped to defeat Trump and a majority of the electorate believe that Biden was that person. 

Also, Biden is taking some conspicuous steps to try to offer olive branches to the left, which isn’t usually what you do when you win a presidential nomination. Usually the so-called pivot to the center that you see mentioned in presidential fights. Biden seems concerned with his left flank at this point, which I wouldn’t say that that’s necessarily a sign of strength headed into a general election. And of course, the general election is still about a half a year away. So, in terms of the fight for the soul of the party, I guess you could say that the kind of more establishment’s maybe less liberal wing of the party won this time. But if Biden were to lose, I think that would tell a lot of people on the left that, hey, we went along with Clinton and Biden in 2016 and 2020 and they didn’t work. In 2024 we should nominate someone who’s clearly more liberal. So, there are fissures in both parties and I think those fissures have kind of been papered over for the time being. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist and that they won’t manifest themselves in the future.

EICHER: A long way to go until November, and before I go, Kyle, I want to talk to you just a bit about this. What are you hearing in terms of possible procedural changes on voting day? I mean, if the election results are close and we’ve had to change procedures in various states—key states—how likely are we to see legal challenges based on these adjustments? What are you hearing?

KONDIK: The closer the race is, the more open it is for there being not necessarily judicial interventions but appeals for judicial interventions. I do hope that these various states figure this out in advance of November because if there are people who feel like their vote, that they weren’t able to vote because they didn’t want to potentially risk getting the disease in order to go vote, I just think there’s going to be bad feelings about the election no matter what the result is. But you just hope that the results are as legitimate as they can be. And it seems like given the crisis that there has been an impetus to essentially give voters expanded options in order to make sure that they can vote.

EICHER: Kyle Kondik is an analyst with the University of Virginia Center for Politics. Thanks for joining us today.

KONDIK: Thanks, Nick.

MYRNA BROWN: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Locust swarms—We start today here in Africa. 


East Africa is already battling the worst locust outbreak it has seen in 70 years. Now, a second wave is expected to hit in the coming months. 


Villagers in Uganda used sticks to bang on plastic containers, hoping to drive the pests away. But billions of locusts have already settled in the region. 

Heavy rains and favorable breeding conditions in May will likely trigger swarms up to 20 times the size of the current wave. That second round is expected to start during the harvest season in late June. 

The locusts pose a massive threat to food security and livelihoods. 

Chad vs Boko Haram—Next, we go to Chad.


Soldiers returned home last week after a military offensive against Boko Haram in the western part of the country. Troops piled into trucks and tanks and drove past waving crowds. 

Officials said the army killed 1,000 jihadist fighters during an operation in the Lake Chad region. 

Since 2009, Boko Haram fighters have hit the area hard. At the end of March, militants waged a seven hour attack on a Chadian army base, killing 92 soldiers. In response, Chad launched a massive military operation, chasing the Boko Haram fighters over the border into Nigeria. 

Yemen ceasefire—Next, we go to the Middle East.


Residents in Yemen praised a tentative truce in the region after the Saudi-led coalition announced a cease-fire in the ongoing conflict with Houthi rebels. The coalition said it wanted to prevent any cases of COVID-19 in the country and hopefully find a wider political solution to the ongoing conflict. 

But so far, the cease-fire is one-sided. Hours after the truce announcement, Houthi rebels launched missile attacks against two cities. The five-year conflict has led to the deaths of more than 100,000 people and triggered a humanitarian crisis. 

Germany addresses labor shortage—Next, we go to Europe.


Two planes carrying Eastern European farmhands arrived in Germany last week. 


Germany usually employs about 300,000 seasonal workers from other countries. But most foreign travelers aren’t allowed to enter the country because of the coronavirus. Now, the government hopes to address that labor shortage. 

Under the new program, workers will fly to Germany in controlled groups. They must wear protective gear and work apart from the farm hands already in Germany. The government plans to bring up to 40,000 workers into the country in April, and another 40,000 in May.

Astronauts join the ISS—And finally, we end today in … space!


Three astronauts blasted off from Kazakhstan on Thursday and flew to the International Space Station.

AUDIO: Moscow, this is Irkut 1, the hatch is open, copy, excellent. Great news.  

The three had been in quarantine for the past month. As they floated into the space station one by one, they embraced the three astronauts already there. Those three will return to Earth later this week. The newest crew members will remain on board until October.

That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.

NICK EICHER: Just a quick setup for a cultural reference to explain a difference between American and Canadian culture…

MUSIC: If I had a million dollars, if I had a million dollars, we wouldn’t have to eat Kraft Dinner. But we would eat Kraft Dinner. Of course we would. We’d just eat more. … I’d be rich!

OK, we mostly speak the same language, but the Canadians have a different term for everything.

So they call Kraft Mac and Cheese Kraft Dinner, and it’s a beloved staple food up there. 

Canadians consume it at a 55 percent higher rate per-capita than Americans. 

So, to keep the cheesy goodness flowing, Kraft’s Montreal plant has transitioned to around-the-clock production just to keep up.

Panic buying last month led to a 35 percent increase in demand nearly overnight. To meet that demand, the 960 employees in Montreal have started taking on extra shifts to accommodate the operation.

The plant manager said her people are very proud to do this, adding, “They feel they’re contributing to a noble cause, to serving the country.”

Welp, goes to show if you can’t put hockey on the ice, you can at least ensure a steady supply of Kraft Dinner, eh?

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, April 15th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MYRNA BROWN: And I’m Myrna Brown. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: another in our occasional series—Notable Speeches Past and Present.

Today, a sometimes-overlooked speech from Ronald Reagan due to the controversy that surrounded it. 

Back in 1985, the White House announced that the President was going to visit Bitburg Cemetery during a trip to Europe. But many Jewish leaders were upset that Reagan planned to lay a wreath at the German memorial.

EICHER: While in Germany, Reagan commemorated the 40th anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. More than 35,000 Jews died there, including Anne Frank.

But the firestorm over Bitburg overshadowed the powerful speech at Bergen-Belsen. But Reagan’s comments at the front gate of the camp are some of his most important words concerning the Holocaust. 

Features editor Paul Butler edited the speech for time.

RONALD REAGAN: What we have seen makes unforgettably clear that no one of the rest of us can fully understand the enormity of the feelings carried by the victims of these camps.

The survivors carry a memory beyond anything that we can comprehend. The awful evil started by one man—an evil that victimized all the world with its destruction—was uniquely destructive to the millions forced into the grim abyss of these camps.

Here lie people—Jews—whose death was inflicted for no reason other than their very existence. Their pain was borne only because of who they were and because of the God in their prayers. Alongside them lay many Christians—Catholics and Protestants.

For year after year, until that man and his evil were destroyed, hell yawned forth its awful contents. People were brought here for no other purpose but to suffer and die. To go unfed when hungry. Uncared for when sick. Tortured when the whim struck. And left to have misery consume them when all there was around them was misery.

Above all, we are struck by the horror of it all—the monstrous, incomprehensible horror. That is what we have seen—but is what we can never understand as the victims did. What we have felt and are expressing with words cannot convey the suffering that they endured. That is why history will forever brand what happened as the Holocaust.

Here, death ruled. But we have learned something as well. Because of what happened, we found that death cannot rule forever. And that is why we are here today.

We are here because humanity refuses to accept that freedom or the spirit of man can ever be extinguished. We are here to commemorate that life triumphed over the tragedy and the death of the Holocaust—overcame the suffering, the sickness, the testing, and, yes, the gassings. 

There must have been a time when the prisoners at Bergen-Belsen and those of every other camp must have felt the Springtime was gone forever from their lives. Surely we can understand that, when we see what is around us—all these children of God, under bleak and lifeless mounds, the plainness of which does not even hint at the unspeakable acts that created them. 

Here they lie. Never to hope. Never to pray, never to love. Never to heal. Never to laugh. Never to cry. And too many of them knew that this was their fate. But that was not the end. Through it all was their faith and a spirit that moved their faith.

Nothing illustrates this better than the story of a young girl who died here at Bergen-Belsen. For more than two years, Anne Frank and her family had hidden from the Nazis in a confined annex in Holland, where she kept a remarkably profound diary. Betrayed by an informant, Anne and her family were sent by freight car first to Auschwitz and finally here to Bergen-Belsen.

Just three weeks before her capture, young Anne wrote these words: “It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness. I hear the even approaching thunder, which will destroy us too. I can feel the sufferings of millions, and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right. That this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquillity will return again.” Eight months later, this sparkling young life ended at Bergen-Belsen.

Somewhere here lies Anne Frank.

We are all witnesses. We share the glistening hope that rests in every human soul. Hope leads us—if we are prepared to trust it—toward what our President Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” And then, rising above all this cruelty—out of this tragic and nightmarish time—beyond the anguish, the pain, and the suffering and for all time, we can and must pledge.

Never again.

EICHER: That’s Ronald Reagan from 1985 speaking at the site of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp—liberated 75 years ago this week.

MYRNA BROWN: Today is Wednesday, April 15th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Janie B. Cheaney now on Jesus and our future selves.

JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: What is your future self telling you?

Chances are, your future self occupies its own channel in your mind, where it daydreams about that promotion or vacation or new house. It projects rosy scenarios on a blurry screen—or, if you’ve received bad news, red-tinged forecasts of gloom.

Business guru Don Miller says, “Psychologically, you regard your future self as a whole other person,” who does not feel like you. Miller applies this insight to time management, especially when it comes to making commitments that may be months away. Since you and your future self are not the same, you might think, “I’ll just send future self to do that.” So the deal is made, and eventually future self becomes you, reluctantly packing for a weekend conference, wondering why you always get suckered into these things.

But I have more conflicts with my future self over the next day or hour than next month.

For example, the alarm goes off on a frigid January morning. I start conjuring reasons why I should stay in bed an hour longer. But future self is poking me in the conscience: Hey, you know how guilty and draggy you feel if you get up late. Whereas, if you get up now, you’ll feel great in an hour. Come on, get up. Put your running shoes on. I’ll meet you at 7. We’ll have coffee.

Any job, any ambition involves stuff we don’t want to do. But once we’ve decided it’s worth doing, or once we’ve committed to a master worth following, our future self can become our best friend.

Need inspiration? As the author of Hebrews says, “Consider Christ.” He who was from eternity deliberately placed his steps upon a timeline and took up—not just a body, but a past and a future self. He who knew everything learned obedience. He who was perfectly unified and perfectly joyful endured separation and suffering—for what?

You might say it was for his future self. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame. He experienced death for three days, burst out of the grave, commissioned his followers, and ascended into the heavens to meet his future self at the right hand of God, where he waits for us.

The joy set before him is also mine. Isn’t that what Paul means when he writes to the Colossians, “You died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, you also will appear with him in glory.” By committing himself to a future, Jesus became my future. In meeting him, I’ll meet my ultimate future self.

In the meantime, the alarm goes off, the task awaits. We’re meeting for coffee at 7.

I’m Janie B. Cheaney.

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Our policy response to the coronavirus could have long-term effects on global politics. We’ll lay out a few scenarios.

And, we’ll meet several people who caught the disease but who have now recovered.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Nick Eicher.

MYRNA BROWN: 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.

I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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