MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
The Trump administration isn’t mincing words about who’s responsible for the coronavirus pandemic.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: How might that affect U.S. policy toward Beijing? We’ll talk about it on Washington Wednesday.
Also World Tour with Onize Ohikere.
Plus a family connecting through music.
And Jamie Dean considers everyday opportunities for disaster response.
REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, April 29th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Good morning!
REICHARD: Up next, Kent Covington with the news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Treasury secretary expects summer bounce back for economy » Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Tuesday that he expects the economy to begin rebounding over the summer.
MNUCHIN: The states are going to open up slowly, so you’re going to see June and July pickup, but I think by August and September, you’re going to see a big bounce back from what has been a very rocky period.
He said the coronavirus aid packages and other measures by the Federal Reserve are injecting “unprecedented liquidity into the economy.” He said we are now in a deep hole, but he noted that the fundamentals of the economy were sound and did not cause the downturn. And largely for that reason, he believes the economy will ultimately prove to be resilient.
Meantime, at the White House Tuesday, President Trump delivered remarks on the recently replenished Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses.
TRUMP: Today we’re really celebrating American workers and small businesses. And we’ve done a job for you and we’re going to make it so where as we open up the country, you’re going to be in good shape as opposed to, you know, losing your business or how do we get some people to work here, especially since your employees were so good.
He said demand for the forgivable small business loans is very high. He also said the loan amounts in this round of funding are smaller. He said that’s a positive thing, as it indicates more smaller businesses are tapping into more than $300 billion of additional funds.
Trump orders meat processing plants to remain open » While the virus is hitting the economy hard, it also threatens the nation’s meat supply. Numerous large meat processing plants have temporarily shut down, largely at the urging of state and local officials, amid virus outbreaks within the plants.
But President Trump Tuesday said he would sign an executive order under the Defense Production Act to keep meat processing plants open.
Republican South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds was among those pressing Trump to sign that order. He warned that otherwise, a meat shortage could hit consumers quickly.
ROUNDS: We do have some in storage, but once the fear gets out into the community and people start to do the same thing to the meat supplies that they did with toilet paper, you’re going to see the shelves bare fairly quickly.
The president said ranchers are providing plenty of beef, pork, poultry, and other meats—it’s just a matter of getting it processed and distributed.
But his executive order could set up a showdown between meat processing companies and labor unions concerned about health risks to employees.
Ohio’s largely mail-in election viewed as a case study » The first major test of an almost completely vote-by-mail election during a pandemic unfolded Tuesday in Ohio. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: This week’s vote offers lessons to other states trying to avoid in-person gatherings at polling stations amid the pandemic.
The process hasn’t been smooth as state officials have navigated election laws and the need to protect citizens and poll workers from the coronavirus. Ohio’s in-person primary was delayed just hours before polls were supposed to open last month, prompting legal challenges and confusion.
The results are not in doubt, with Joe Biden already the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. But Ohio’s vote is being closely watched as a case study for how to proceed with elections if the pandemic doesn’t ease before November.
States have taken drastically different approaches, with Wisconsin proceeding with in-person voting earlier this month and New York saying Monday it would cancel its presidential primary, which was scheduled for June.
Some governors have suggested a possible shift to an all-mail-in voting system for the general election, something President Trump has strongly opposed.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
House not returning to Capitol next week amid virus concerns » Members of the House of Representatives will not return to Washington next week as planned. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced the reversal on Tuesday. Just 24 hours earlier, Democratic leaders said they’d be back on Capitol Hill next week.
Coronavirus infections in Washington, D.C., are still on the rise, and Hoyer said the House physician recommended against members returning on Monday.
But he added—quote—“we will come back very soon to pass the CARES 2 piece of legislation, and at that time we will be asking members to return to the Congress.” CARES 2 is another round of coronavirus relief.
Hospitals, morgues in Brazil near breaking point amid COVID-19 crisis » Hospitals and morgues in Brazil are reaching their breaking point as the coronavirus ravages the country. WORLD’s Anna Johansen has that story.
ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Medical officials in Rio de Janeiro and at least four other cities warned they are already overwhelmed or on the verge of collapsing. That as confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 68,000 with nearly 5,000 deaths.
But those numbers likely understate the problem due to a low testing rate.
Scientists from two universities in Brazil estimate the actual number of infected people in the country is between 600,000 and 1.1 million.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has maintained COVID-19 is a—quote—“little flu” and social distancing and other measures are not needed. Earlier this month, he fired a health minister who called for a tough response to the pandemic and replaced him with someone who supports keeping the economy open.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: U.S.-China policy in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
Plus, Jamie Dean on being the coronavirus cavalry.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD: It’s Wednesday the 29th of April, 2020. You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we’re so glad to have you along. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. First up: U.S.-China policy.
REICHARD: China continues to insist that it did everything it could to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. But most of the rest of the world isn’t buying it. During his Monday press briefing at the White House, President Trump summed up the growing international frustration.
TRUMP: We are not happy with China. We are not happy with that whole situation. ‘Cause we believe it could have been stopped at the source. Could have been stopped quickly. And wouldn’t have spread all over the world. And we think that should have happened.
U.S. intelligence agencies are investigating how the virus got started in Wuhan, with particular attention on a biocontainment lab where researchers were working with coronaviruses and bats. But the Trump administration isn’t waiting on the results to draw its own conclusions. Here’s Peter Navarro, director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy.
NAVARRO: The Chinese Communist Party basically inflicted this virus on the world. And we should never forget that here in America.
So, what effect will the coronavirus pandemic have on the already tense relationship between Washington and Beijing?
Joining us to talk about it is Will Inboden. He served at the State Department and the National Security Council under former President George W. Bush. He’s now executive director of the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin.
Professor, thank you for your time today and good morning to you.
WILL INBODEN, GUEST: Good to be with you, Mary.
REICHARD: As we’ve just noted, we have enough evidence at this point to lay almost all of the blame for this global crisis at China’s feet. Before this, some people might have argued that what happens in China shouldn’t really concern us, unless it’s directly related to U.S. interests. But this crisis certainly has shown the limits of that perspective. How has this changed global attitudes toward China and is it likely to change U.S. policy in the short-term?
INBODEN: I think the current crisis is accelerating what was already a deteriorating relationship between the United States and China, and likewise accelerating what was already growing global skepticism about China. So, we might think of the coronavirus pandemic as an acid test that is peeling away any residue of goodwill or cooperation that might have been lingering and, instead, revealing the core nature of the relationship between the U.S. and China, which is a strategic rivalry. And, likewise, isolating China more in the eyes of a lot of the rest of the world as a powerful bad actor.
REICHARD: What about in the long-term?
INBODEN: Well, it is hard to say where all of this is going to lead. I will say in the short term I’m concerned that China is making some gains here. I think with the thus far rather inept American response, especially coming from Washington, to the pandemic and then to the United States just being on the sidelines while China is doing this misinformation warfare offensive against us, I worry that we’re eroding our position there. However, longer-term, I am more optimistic.
China has managed to alienate most of its neighbors in its region. It is now provoking a backlash against itself in Europe with being the irresponsible source of the virus and then with its ham handed response. And, likewise, I think we’re seeing some real vulnerabilities in the Chinese economy.
Where I think we are right now is I’m calling it a “Cold Peace.” It’s not a cold war yet. It’s not nearly as tense as the Cold War was against the Soviet Union. But it has a number of elements of the Cold War and I think things are going to get worse before they get better.
REICHARD: Before the pandemic, Washington took a strong stance against Beijing’s spreading influence in the global marketplace, especially in the tech sector. I’m thinking specifically of Huawei.
Our European allies didn’t share our concern six months ago. The United Kingdom approved of Huawei to build the country’s 5G network, over U.S. objections. But British lawmakers are now rethinking that decision. Will, do you think Washington might have more backing now in its warnings against getting too cozy with Beijing?
INBODEN: I think so and I hope so. One area where I’ve been critical of the Trump administration is it’s alienating so many of our allies. This is a source of American strength. It’s something the Chinese government envies of America. China has no allies. They see our allies as real assets of ours. And so when the American government is disparaging our allies or not cooperating with them, that really weakens us. And that’s one reason I think so many of our allies had embraced Huawei as a supplier for 5G. Now that our allies are seeing just how malevolent the Chinese Communist Party can be, I think and hope there’s going to be an opening to reconsider their 5G partnerships and a chance for the Trump administration to reset some of its relationships in a more positive direction.
REICHARD: As part of its effort to deflect criticism over its response to COVID-19, China has taken a page out of Russia’s playbook. Internet trolls linked to the Chinese Community Party are flooding social media with fake news about how the virus spread, among other things. Does that represent a new approach to foreign policy for Beijing? And if so, how might U.S. policy change in response?
INBODEN: I think it does. This is a very significant development and I think there’s two things going on here. The first is this growing partnership between Russia and China. For most of the 20th and early 21st century, the Soviet Union and then Russia were rivals, even enemies of China. And the United States was able to play that to our advantage, especially during the latter half of the Cold War. But under Putin and then Xi Jingping, we’re seeing this growing partnership between the Chinese and Russians in military cooperation, Russia is a gas supplier for China’s energy needs, cooperation together to support authoritarian thug regimes around the world. It’s really troubling.
China was already very active with the United States with Chinese propaganda, but their propaganda previously was more focused on trying to get the United States to like China, to think good things about the Chinese Communist Party, you know, present a positive face. It was clumsy, it wasn’t working very well, but that’s what they were doing with their Confucius Institutes and things like that. What’s new now, in addition to this Chinese-Russian partnership, is, as you said, these disinformation campaigns, this propaganda accusing the United States of creating the coronavirus, efforts to sow division in American society just as the Russians were doing it. It’s very worse, then, because the Chinese capabilities are more advanced and more extensive than the Russians are and so now China’s going in this direction. I worry we’re being slow to respond to it. Final thought and an analogy I’ve used before from the Cold War is in the 1980s the Soviet KGB created and spread this vicious slander that the CIA in the United States government created the AIDS virus and that we spread it around the world. Total fiction. Most Americans realized it as fiction, but the KGB was incredibly successful at spreading that in developing countries and it did deep damage to America’s image in Africa, Latin America, parts of Asia. I’d worry that something similar could be going on right now with Chinese propaganda about the United States having created the coronavirus, which again is just pure fiction. And so I really think and hope that the State Department and especially the intelligence community is active in countering this around the world, not just the United States.
REICHARD: There has been talk of U.S. and European companies, especially pharmaceutical manufacturers, reconfiguring supply chains to limit or even remove China’s involvement. How likely is that to happen?
INBODEN: I think it’s pretty likely. And, again, I go back to my point earlier about the pandemic is accelerating what already works in global trends. And so one of the global trends we already were seeing was the decoupling of the American and Chinese economies, you know, for the last 30 years our economy’s become deeply intertwined in finance, with supply chains, with trade regimes. And over the last several years we’ve already been starting to pull apart there. American companies realizing that the Chinese market is not so attractive anymore. The American government, of course, putting the tariffs on. And now that we’re seeing these supply chain vulnerabilities, especially with drugs, pharmaceutical products that we need being manufactured in China, you don’t want to have an adversary state having a monopoly on those supplies. I’ve said in another context before that one challenge with the U.S.-China relationship is it’s pretty much unprecedented in world history for two countries to be so economically interdependent as the United States and China are and also be strategic rivals. One of those had to give. Twenty years ago people hoped that the economic interdependence would bring a friendship and no strategic rivalry. Turns out it’s looking more like the opposite, that we’re decoupling our economies and the strategic rivalry is accelerating. Mostly because of some very bad choices Beijing has made.
REICHARD: Will Inboden is a former member of the George W. Bush administration and now heads the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin. Thanks for joining us today.
INBODEN: Thanks a lot, Mary. I enjoyed it.
MEGAN BASHAM: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Rwandan rebel attack in DRC—We start today here in Africa.
At least 17 people were killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday when a group of 60 Rwandan fighters ambushed a convoy of civilians and park rangers in Virunga National Park. The attackers appeared to be part of a rebel group linked to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
The park is Africa’s oldest nature preserve and home to a population of endangered mountain gorillas. It spans the borders of three countries and has faced repeated attacks by local armed groups as well as incursions by smugglers, poachers, and kidnappers.
Yemen separatists declare self-rule—Next we go to the Middle East.
AUDIO: [MAN SPEAKING ARABIC]
Separatist fighters in Yemen declared self-rule on Sunday. The Southern Transitional Council, or STC, declared a state of emergency and deployed its troops in the southern port city of Aden.
That violates a peace deal the group signed with the Yemeni government last fall. The government, the STC, and several other groups banded together in an uneasy coalition to fight Houthi rebels. The Houthis seized control of Yemen’s capital in 2015, sparking a bloody conflict and humanitarian crisis.
A spokesman for the STC said the government wasn’t doing enough to manage the crisis.
SPOKESMAN: That is why the STC is right now compelled to take action into their own hands.
The Yemeni government warned that the move undermined the peace process and would have “dangerous and catastrophic consequences.”
Brazil’s justice minister resigns—Next we go to South America.
AUDIO: [POTS AND PANS]
Hundreds of Brazilians banged pots and pans in protest after Brazil’s minister of justice resigned on Friday. Sergio Moro oversaw the country’s biggest anti-corruption probe and was extremely popular. His probe exposed billions of dollars in bribes and landed many powerful businessmen and politicians in jail.
But last week, President Jair Bolsonaro fired the federal police chief—one of Moro’s closest political allies. Police are currently investigating Bolsonaro’s son in connection with a money-laundering scheme.
AUDIO: [MORO SPEAKING PORTUGUESE]
Moro said the president wanted a chief who would give him inside information on police investigations. He called that unacceptable political interference and resigned in protest.
Dutch students sail back home from Caribbean—And finally, we end today in Europe.
Dutch teens chanted and whooped as they landed in the Netherlands on Sunday. In early March, the group of 25 high school students set off on a sail-study program in the Caribbean. After completing the program, they planned to fly home from Cuba.
But then the coronavirus shut down most air travel. So the students’ instructors and the ship’s crew decided to sail the 100 year old vessel back to the Netherlands. The 4,000 mile trip took five weeks. One student said flexibility was key.
STUDENT: I learned so much, not only sailing but also a little bit of cooking … just so much different stuff.
Relieved family members and friends gathered to watch the schooner glide into the harbor. They set off flares and cheered to welcome the students home.
That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.
MEGAN BASHAM: A couple in Michigan had big plans for their traditional wedding ceremony.
But coronavirus restrictions completely upended those plans earlier this month.
Amy Simonson and Dan Stuglik went ahead with their wedding, but friends and family had to stay home.
And yet, the pews were still packed! And it was anything but a cookie-cutter wedding. Instead, it was a cardboard cutout wedding!
BASHAM: Yep. A packaging company donated more than 100 cardboard cutouts to pose as stand-ins for the family and friends who couldn’t attend.
REICHARD: How’s that work?
BASHAM: Well, Menasha Packaging Company made cutouts to look like people tall and short, young and old, with long hair, short hair and ponytails.
The groom told WSBT that in some ways, the pandemic is bringing out the best in people.
STUGLIK: It’s been great to see that. You know, you have the scare news. But then you’re also getting some amazing news of some people that are just coming out of the woodwork to do really creative things to help out.
Stuglik said he’ll forever be thankful for the chance to do something special for his bride.
BASHAM: It’s The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD: Today is Wednesday, April 29th. So happy you’ve joined us today! Good morning to you! I’m Mary Reichard.
MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: making music.
After two months of almost-always-at-home quarantine, many of us are spending more concentrated time with our families. And maybe with all that extra time your family is discovering a new game, show, or activity to enjoy together.
REICHARD: Last month, before the lockdowns began, WORLD reporter Sarah Schweinsberg met up with one family in Santa Cruz, California, who are connecting through music.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: The 10 Brownlee and Barlett cousins see a lot of each other. They live in the same town, attend the same school, and many days have a get together like this after school.
EMMA, SELAH: We see each other seven days a week. A lot of times, twice a day. Monday through Friday. Church. Family dinners.
Five of the cousins gather around the Brownlee’s white kitchen island munching on chocolate chip cookies.
AUDIO: My name is Cooper and I’m 14. My name is Emma and I’m 17. My name is Faith, and I’m 14. My name is Eden, and I am 18. My name is Selah, and I’m 21.
The cousins are a mix of blondes and brunettes. They have tans from hours of surfing. They also enjoy skateboarding and playing basketball. But their favorite family pastime is making music.
COUSIN BAND [SINGING]: Lord I need you, oh, I need you. Every hour I need you.
Emma Brownlee says the family’s love of music started young.
EMMA: Our entire lives we’ve all played like classical instruments and been like classically trained because my parents have always really valued like the discipline and the practice of knowing an instrument really well.
Music lessons included piano, guitar, drums, violin, ukulele, and the Irish penny whistle. That was fun, but then a few years ago, some of the older cousins began to wonder if they could play together.
However, bringing 10 people together to make music doesn’t always go smoothly.
EMMA: The first day that we tried to become a band we almost broke up.
SELAH: There were tears. You get 10 different opinions.
FAITH: Different keys, different instruments.
EMMA: We were very stuck to I want to do this, I want to do this. So we’ve learned to adjust. We can compromise.
And so, the Santa Cruz Cousin Band was born. Here, 14-year-old Faith takes a solo away. Older cousin, Emma, who also loves to sing, sits back.
FAITH SINGING: Bless the Lord, oh my soul.
EMMA: There’s no point in doing it unless you’re gonna use it to bless others and have a fun time together.
The cousins sing in church, weddings and in local coffee shops, but their favorite place to perform is the streets.
AUDIO: [STREET PERFORMANCE]
Before lockdowns and social distancing began, couples and families ambled down the sidewalks of downtown Santa Cruz. As the sun sets, they browse clothing boutiques and sip boba tea.
The Brownlee and Bartlett kids find a sidewalk spot marked for street performers.
EMMA: There are spots that are like coveted by street performers…
Someone else has taken their favorite spot, but they find another and set up a music stand and tune guitars and ukuleles. It’s show-time.
EMMA SINGING: 2,3,4! If you are chilly, here take my sweater. My heart is aching, baby…
Emma and Faith lead most of the songs. With no microphones, they have to belt their voices above the wind and passing cars.
EMMA SINGING: Some people want it all. But I don’t want nothing at all if it aint’ you…
FAITH SINGING: Some people want diamond rings, some just want everything.
Cooper is on bass. Selah plays the ukulele or keeps the beat and calls out the next song.
And Uncle Jordan Brownlee plays the guitar.
FAITH SINGING: Lady, running down to the riptide. Take me away to the dark side. I want to be your left hand man.
As the cousins sing, pedestrians drop dollar bills and coins in a green bucket. Later, the cousins will split the earnings.
COUSINS: Thank You!
PERSON: You bet!
Some people just stand and watch. A woman wearing all black stands and listens for almost 30 minutes. She says more than the music, she’s drawn to seeing a family together.
BYSTANDER: I like all of it. That they’re united like a family and that they sing from the heart.
AUDIO: [SINGING AMAZING GRACE]
As some of the older cousins head off to college or near the end of high school, they are training younger cousins to take over the band. Nine-year-old Ryder jumps in to sing.
RYDER SINGING: Darling, stand, by me. Oh Stand, by me. Stand by me!
Each cousin has different goals with their music. Emma would like to sing professionally. Faith can’t decide if she likes music or beach volleyball more. Eden wants to be a nurse. Some of the boys like music, when they aren’t surfing.
Mom, Shana Bartlett, says making music together has taught the cousins to set aside differences and focus on one constant—no matter the circumstances—family.
SHANA: Their favorite thing to do is to be together and working together. That brings them the most happiness. It’s been amazing watching that.
SINGING: We are family. I got all my cousins with me! Get up everybody and sing.
For WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg in Santa Cruz, California.
SINGING: We are family. I got all my cousins with me! Get up everybody and sing. Ohhh yeah! Get up everybody and sing! [Clapping]
MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Wednesday, April 29th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD’s national editor Jamie Dean now on the opportunity to be the coronavirus cavalry.
JAMIE DEAN, NATIONAL EDITOR: When deadly tornadoes struck parts of the South recently, I found myself struck by another thought: in just a few weeks, hurricane season begins. As officials in government agencies combat COVID-19, they also must prepare to respond to potentially devastating natural disasters—during a pandemic.
This is particularly on my mind as this summer marks the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The Category 5 storm was the first of many natural disasters I’ve covered for WORLD, and I’ve thought a lot about how reporting on those calamities compares to reporting on a global pandemic.
A couple of weeks into the coronavirus shutdown, I called Ben McLeish—a deacon I met in New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck. Ben and his family have lived and served in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city for two decades. This time, we talked about New Orleans becoming one of the hotspots for COVID-19.
After Katrina struck, one of the most inspiring sites was the traffic backed up on Gulf Coast interstates—with relief workers and volunteers trying to get into the disaster zones. Churches sent teams and checks and supplies to bolster the efforts of local ministries.
But as the coronavirus spread in early March, and cases flooded New Orleans, McLeish realized this time the cavalry wasn’t coming. With the pandemic hitting all over the country, McLeish knew: “We’re all in the same boat.”
That is one of the things that makes this widespread disaster so different. We can’t rush resources to one spot and simply start to clean up and rebuild.
But I think the cavalry is still coming. It’s just, this time, it’s gloriously local. In our thousands of different callings and vocations and neighborhoods and relationships: We are the cavalry. God is using us, right we are.
Doctors and nurses work long shifts. Grocery store clerks keep manning the counters so we can buy food. The other day, I found myself waving exuberantly at the man hopping off a truck and emptying garbage cans in my neighborhood—I was suddenly so thankful for people who keep our lives going in ways we often don’t notice.
Someday, we’ll thank the researchers working nearly non-stop to develop treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. But for now, let’s also look for ordinary ways to offer relief to the people nearest to us.
Maybe it’s the meal for a high-risk neighbor who can’t get out. Or the quiet commitment of a Ben McLeish who lives in the same place and loves the same people for a long time.
Maybe it’s the family from my own church who stood in my driveway on Easter afternoon and sang from a distance: “Christ the Lord is risen today—Alleluia!” It was just the reminder I needed that we can be a little cavalry right where we are because the greater Calvary has already come: “Ours the cross, the grave, the skies: Alleluia!”
I’m Jamie Dean.
MEGAN BASHAM: Tomorrow: Theater and dance stages are likely to stay dark for the near future. We’ll find out how those performance venues are coping.
And, a lot of people are out of work in the meat processing industry. We’ll learn how churches are serving immigrant communities affected by that.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Megan Basham.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.
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