The World and Everything in It — May 13, 2020

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!

From defunding the World Health Organization to learning from the Marshall Plan. We’ll talk to WORLD Senior Editor Mindy Belz about a global perspective on the pandemic.

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

Also World Tour.

Plus farmers are finding creative ways around the supply-chain disruptions and reaching consumers directly.

And Janie B. Cheaney on finding room to breathe when life hits pause.

BASHAM: It’s Wednesday, May 13th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

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

BASHAM: Now news. Here’s Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Dr. Fauci, other health officials testify about coronavirus and U.S. response » The top U.S. infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned states on Tuesday not to cut corners in their efforts to reopen. 

Fauci testified virtually from home to members of the Senate about the coronavirus outbreak and the government’s response. He said the trends are positive, but we can’t afford to overestimate our progress. 

FAUCI: The curve looks flat with some slight coming down. So I think we’re going in the right direction. But the right direction does not mean that we have by any means total control of this outbreak. 

Fauci, a key member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, helped create the administration’s guidelines for reopening. He cautioned that if local governments “skip over the checkpoints” in those guidelines for phased reopening, it could set the country back in its efforts to return to normal.

Fauci also said he’s hopeful that current research will result in more than one possible vaccine. 

Several other top health officials also testified. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said adequate testing is a critical key to jumpstarting the economy. To that point, FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said his agency is closely examining COVID-19 tests. 

HAHN: FDA is helping to ensure the availability of tests that are providing accurate answers. We are also monitoring the marketplace for fraudulent tests and are taking appropriate action to protect the public health. 

Last week, the FDA granted emergency use authorization to the Quidel Corporation for its new antigen test, which can provide results in minutes. Antigen tests could eventually be developed for at-home use by consumers.

Russian spokesman hospitalized with COVID-19 as Russia passes U.K. in total cases » Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and his wife have been hospitalized with COVID-19 just as Russia passes the U.K. in total reported cases. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The Kremlin says the 52-year-old Peskov is in “satisfactory” condition.

Several other top Russian officials have also tested positive. 

The announcement of his hospitalization came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia was slowing the outbreak and announced he was easing some restrictions. 

But many are questioning Putin’s response to the pandemic. 

The country reported a single-day record high of nearly 12,000 new cases on Monday and a record 107 deaths the next day. The country now has a reported total of 232,000 cases, surpassing the U.K. That’s second only to the United States, though many experts question reported numbers from China. And Russia has only recently ramped up testing for the virus. 

What’s more, many Russian healthcare workers are falling ill with the virus as many complain that protective gear is in short supply. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.

Republicans gain at least one U.S. House seat in special elections » Republicans may be on the brink of doing something they haven’t done in more than 20 years—flipping a U.S. House seat in California. 

The battleground was the state’s relatively purple 25th District. That includes parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties. 

As of 11 p.m. Pacific Time, with most of the votes in, former Navy fighter pilot and political newcomer Mike Garcia led Democratic state lawmaker Christy Smith by about 12 points. That was with 76 percent of the ballots counted. 

The winner will serve out the rest of the term of former Congresswoman Katie Hill, who resigned amid a scandal in October. But both candidates will be back on the ballot again in November.  

Garcia did not claim victory last night, nor did Smith concede.

But another Republican did declare victory Tuesday in another special election. Trump-backed state Senator Tom Tiffany easily defeated Democrat Tricia Zunker for the U.S House seat in Wisconsin’s rural 7th District. 

TIFFANY: I have one goal as I go out to Washington D.C., and that is to get America back up on her feet again. 

He’ll fill a seat left vacant after GOP Congressman Sean Duffy stepped down in September, citing the health of his daughter.

Series of attacks kill at least 39 people in Afghanistan » A series of violent assaults in Afghanistan left nearly 40 people dead on Tuesday, including newborns and mothers at a maternity hospital. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has that story. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Three militants attacked a maternity clinic in Kabul run by Doctors Without Borders. That sparked an hourslong shootout with police—killing at least 14 people, including two newborn babies, their mothers, and several nurses. 

No group claimed responsibility. ISIS and the Taliban are both active in the region, though the Taliban has denied involvement. 

Also on Tuesday, in nearby Nangarhar province, a suicide bomber killed 24 people and injured nearly 70 others at a funeral, and a bomb exploded in a market south of Kabul, killing one child and injuring 10 others.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Major League Baseball pitches players on plan for shortened season » Major League Baseball owners have signed off on a plan to begin a shortened season in late July. And league officials are said to be pitching the players’ union on that plan this week. 

Under the proposal, each team would play 82 regular-season games, largely limited to opponents within the same region. And the league would expand postseason play from 10 clubs to 14 by doubling wild cards in each league to four.

Also, the designated hitter would be expanded to the National League to reduce injury risks to pitchers in the truncated season.

There would be no fans in attendance for the foreseeable future. But teams would still play home games in their own stadiums if local and state regulations allow it.

Negotiations will be difficult. Player’s union officials are already balking at a proposed revenue split between teams and players.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: analyzing the global response to COVID-19.

Plus, Janie B. Cheaney on a miraculous attitude change.

This is The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: It’s Wednesday the 13th of May, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. First up: Washington Wednesday.

The world is nearly six months into its battle with the new coronavirus. Millions of people have been infected. More than a quarter million have died.

Shutdowns and stay-at-home orders designed to stop the virus from spreading have upended the global economy. They have also sparked protests and created a level of financial uncertainty we haven’t seen since the end of World War II.

EICHER: Obviously this is a super-complex, world-wide story, but we’re going to try to bring some context for you today. 

To do that we turn to WORLD senior editor Mindy Belz, using her iPhone now to capture the conversation. Mindy, good morning!

MINDY BELZ, GUEST: Good morning, Nick.

EICHER: The latest issue of WORLD Magazine features a timeline of COVID-19, which you and a small team put together. Let’s start with why you wanted to create the timeline and what you tracked in it.

BELZ: I think at this point where we are months into a global crisis, it seemed important to all of us to look back in order to look forward. It’s just a way of taking stock, a way of checking on ourselves about what happened when. And a few of the things that stood out right away in preparing this, first of all, what we’ve suffered as a world. Just being able to go back and look at the tremendous, you know, everyone talks about the exponential curve, but that jump that every country around the world has taken in terms of the number of cases and the number of deaths, just to absorb that in that way, so important. 

But second, I think one of the things that comes through so clearly is what the delays on the part of China and the World Health Organization early on cost us. If you just look at a couple of the dates early on, the World Health Organization dates the first recorded case of the coronavirus to December 8th. We now know that it probably was sometime in November. And we didn’t have the full DNA sequencing of COVID-19 until mid-January. And contrast that to France, where they had their first three confirmed cases January 25th and five days later they had the full sequencing published to be sure that they were dealing with the same thing. 

So, we see that if this had started in Europe, if it had started other places that were not trying to control and contain the flow of information, we would be looking at a very different story in the world right now. 

EICHER: Obviously you have a ton of experience covering international organizations and the American relationship with those organizations. So, let me ask you this, from your perspective on the U.S. decision to block funding for the WHO, how did China come to have so much influence there? And is cutting funding the right thing to do, in your judgement?

BELZ: It’s complicated and I think I would give the Trump administration two-thumbs down and one-thumbs up for this decision. I mean, let’s be clear that what the United States did was suspend funding for certain programs for 60-days. Not clear if we’re going to get the investigation that President Trump has called for. I think that would be very helpful. 

My two-thumbs down are simply the timing in the midst of a world pandemic, and the effect that it will have on poor countries. I don’t think in the United States we fully appreciate if you are in Syria, if you are in a poor African nation that does not have a well-formed system of hospitals and medical institutions as we have in the West, you are much more dependent on something like the World Health Organization. Syria is completely dependent on the World Health Organization right now for its supply of testing kits and lab structures. And so this is a dramatic hurt to the places that need it most. 

My one-thumb up would be that it got the World Health Organization and the UN’s attention. And the World Health Organization does need reform, but it also does need our engagement.

EICHER: Mindy, let’s talk about the cover story you wrote in the latest issue of WORLD Magazine talking about the plight of refugees in overcrowded camps around the world. Now, obviously the watch word has been “social distancing,” and you don’t get that in overcrowded refugee camps. Tell us about the threat that they face and the efforts of aid groups to try to help them.

BELZ: Yeah, it’s impossible. And what we learned as we began to talk to a number of different aid groups working in some of these camps, numbers are helpful here, I think. If we think about the Diamond Princess—the cruise ship where 712 passengers tested positive for COVID-19 and nine died—it had a population density of 24 people per 1,000 square meters. The camps that we looked at in Bangladesh, 40 people per 1,000 square meters. One of the camps in Greece, the Moria camp that’s been getting a lot of attention where more refugees than it was ever designed to hold are housed there has 204 people per 1,000 square meters. This is just a simple fact of what public health officials and aid workers are dealing with when they try to figure out how to prepare these places for an outbreak.

EICHER: Mindy, one more thing before I let you go, you noted in your most recent column similarities between the world’s post-COVID-19 recovery and what we faced after World War II—the Marshall Plan was the American response to a global need there. And you suggest it as a model going forward for now. 

BELZ: I do and I think for a couple of reasons. I mean, in the midst of all of this and all of the ups and downs that we see with the battle against this coronavirus every day, the American spirit at its best is so much needed in the world right now. And by that I mean the can-do spirit that has so many places doing clinical trials of drugs and vaccines and things right now. You don’t see that anywhere else in the world. And it also is a spirit that says that we are better than just standing by and watching millions die and watching our economies, the things that we’ve all built with our working lives disappear. 

But for the reasons that we’ve already highlighted, I believe our U.S. response needs to be about more than just we Americans. It needs to be about vaccines and rapid testing that will help the world get on its feet, help our churches return to serving the unreached and the underprivileged. And I think that average Americans and our leaders in public health and politics would kind of find it a welcome relief to focus on others. That was kind of the essence of the Marshall Plan that, as you recall, helped to rebuild Europe after World War II. 

But now with the benefit of hindsight, we can look back and say that rebuilding Europe helped to also kickstart the United States, make it one of the leaders in the world that it is today. I think that we can do that again and I think that we aren’t doing as much as we can right now, but I want to be hopeful that we will begin to embrace that vision.

EICHER: Mindy Belz is WORLD’s senior editor. She is chief international correspondent. You can read her latest work in the current issue of WORLD Magazine, available online at Thanks for joining us today, Mindy.

BELZ: Thank you, Nick.

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

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Kenyans protest demolition of homes—We start today here in Africa.

AUDIO: [Kenyan protests]

Hundreds of protesters in Kenya blocked a major highway Friday. They set cars and tires on fire and put up barricades. Police used teargas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.

AUDIO: [Kenyan woman protestor]

The protests started after the Kenyan government demolished houses and shops in an informal settlement near Nairobi. Workers bulldozed through the rickety metal structures, leaving more than 7,000 people homeless.

The government said the structures were built on government land, and it wants the property to expand the capital’s sewage system. 

Iran says 19 killed in missile training accident—Next, we go to the Middle East.

An Iranian military training exercise went badly wrong Sunday. A warship fired a missile at a training target, but accidentally struck another ship instead.

AUDIO: [Iranian survivors]

The blast killed 19 sailors and wounded 15 others. The botched exercise took place in waters near the Strait of Hormuz. It happened just months after Iran mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing all 176 people aboard.

Chemical leak in India kills 11—Next, we go to Asia.

AUDIO: [Indian gas leak]

A gas leak at a chemical factory in India left at least 12 people dead and hundreds struggling to breathe. The toxic gas seeped out of the plant early Thursday morning, blanketing a 2-mile area. Hundreds fled on foot or in trucks.

The chemical is used to make fiberglass, rubber, and latex. It can immobilize a person within minutes and is deadly in high concentrations.

The leak is suspected to have come from large tanks left unattended because of the coronavirus lockdown.

Hong Kong arrests 200 protesters—Next, we go to Hong Kong.

AUDIO: [Hong Kong protestos]

Hong Kong police arrested more than 250 people on Sunday after a day of anti-government protests across the city. Hundreds of protesters gathered to chant slogans and sing “Glory to Hong Kong,” the anti-government movement’s anthem.

AUDIO: [Glory to Hong Kong]

Officials said protesters were violating the city’s ban on public gatherings of more than eight people.

The pro-democracy protests began last year. They died down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but have resurged in recent weeks. That’s partly because of new bills introduced in the legislature. Chief Executive Carrie Lam plans to overhaul the city’s education system. Lam says the liberal studies curriculum helped fuel last year’s protests and needs greater government oversight.

Kidnapped Italian aid worker released—Finally, we end today in Europe.

AUDIO: [Italian applause]

Onlookers applauded as a kidnapped aid worker returned home to Italy. Silvia Romano was 23 and volunteering at an orphanage in Kenya when she was seized by gunmen in 2018. The attackers were Islamic extremists linked to al-Shabaab.

Romano was found in a forest in Somalia on Saturday. She returned home a day later. Italy’s prime minister waited with Romano’s family to greet her as she stepped off the plane.

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

NICK EICHER: Police in India got a call to look into the break-in of an ATM recently.

Delhi police officers arrived at the kiosk to find the cash machine partially disassembled. 

It appeared someone ripped the front panel off the machine, leaving wires and circuitry exposed—but not far enough to grab cash. 

Police thought perhaps the thief got spooked and ran. 

But then they had a look at the surveillance video. 

It was not a crook with a crowbar, it was a monkey with his bare hands. And he did get inside and had a look around before leaving the scene. 

He was either just the Curious George type or maybe he just forgot his pin number.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, May 13th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: problem solving.

Over the past two months, food producers have faced a lot of challenges. Closed restaurants and schools mean fewer customers buying meat and milk. And coronavirus outbreaks at meat-packing plants forced many to shut down temporarily.  

EICHER: That left farmers with some difficult decisions. 

But some have found creative ways to get their products directly to consumers. WORLD reporter Sarah Schweinsberg has our story.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Keaton Brenneman and his family raise 60,000 hogs at Brennco Farms in Western Ohio. 

BRENNEMAN: You’re producing nutritious food for people, and that’s a real decent calling, I think.

Three hundred miles away, Mary Beth Brown and her husband raise dairy cows in the rolling green hills of Western Pennsylvania. They call their farm the Whoa Nellie Dairy. 

BROWN: This has been his family’s business forever…his family came over from England in the late 1700s, and they have been here over since. 

Both farmers in very different industries are facing a similar problem. They are producing as much milk and pork as ever…but they have fewer customers to buy it. 

NEWSCAST: Across America, dairy farmers have dumped perfectly usable milk..

NEWSCAST: Overnight more news. Meat processing plants in the Midwest are closing…

NEWSCAST: Local dairy farms say restaurant closures have led to a surplus of milk and no way to process it before it goes bad. 

NEWSCAST: But as they shut down due to sick workers, farmers are now saddled with an overflow of pigs to care for.

Hog producers rely on meat packing plants buying and processing a consistent number of hogs. Brennco Farms has 25 hog barns.

AUDIO: Here piggies! Get up! Get up! 

Each week, Brenneman rounds up and sells all the hogs in one building to a meat packing plant. That’s about 25-hundred pigs. As soon as those pigs leave, 25-hundred piglets replace them. 

BRENNEMAN: So literally we have a one-week gap, where we can clean the barn and we have time to get it ready for the next group, so it’s disease free and clean and sanitized. 

The recent meat packing plant closures left him with a dire choice. 

BRENNEMAN: We were forced with the decision of either to euthanize our 300 plus pound pigs so that we can make room for the new piglets or we would have to euthanize the piglets in order to keep the market hogs that would be going to market soon. 

Mary Beth Brown faced a similar decision. She usually bottles and sells about half of the farm’s milk herself. The rest goes to a milk distributor. Last month, the milk company called and said there wasn’t enough demand to take it. 

BROWN: A lot of their milk went to schools and restaurants, and they couldn’t turn it around fast enough to move their market.

So they asked the Browns to dump the milk instead. Mary Beth Brown couldn’t stomach dumping perfectly good milk down the drain. 

BROWN: We knew that people were already struggling…  from getting laid off from the pandemic… 

And Keaton Brenneman couldn’t handle seeing animals that could feed people go to waste. 

BRENNEMAN: You raise these animals hoping to protect them and feed them and some day they will help you prosper. And me and my girlfriend prayed that night, and we were just asking that God would provide some kind of clarity or solution… 

Both Brown and Brenneman say God did provide. Thanks to friends on social media, good neighbors, and a desirable product. 

Keaton Brennaman heard about other hog producers putting their pigs up for sale on Facebook. He thought it might be worth a shot. 

BRENNEMAN: So I put a post out there, hogs for sale and it blew up in less than… Oh, I don’t know, by the end of the evening it had 25,000 shares and it was just shared all over the place. 

For more than two weeks now, his phone has been ringing off the hook. 

BRENNEMAN: I probably get 100 calls a day.

Brenneman and his family have sold pigs the last two Saturdays. The first Saturday, they sold 3-hundred pigs. 

BRENNEMAN: So we said the sale was at 12 o’clock, we said it was from 12:00 to 5:00. The first person that showed up, was there at about 9:00. 

And last weekend, they sold 1,500 pigs. Those sales along with meat packing plants starting to reopen means Brennaman won’t have to euthanize any pigs. 

BRENNEMAN: I think people hate to see waste and this is perfectly good food that could nourish and help Americans and just other people.

Mary Beth Brown also used Facebook. She told customers that instead of dumping milk, they were going to do their best to bottle all of it themselves and sell it in their small milk store. 

BROWN: We were just hoping that people would get behind us on the fact that we don’t wanna waste anything and we kinda put the call out there too.

Community members responded. They came in droves with cars lined up the road waiting to buy milk. 

BROWN: Saturday here we had about 2 inches of snow on the ground and people were still lined up.

Over the past month, the crowds haven’t stopped. Mary Beth Brown says at first people just didn’t want to see milk go to waste. Now, they just love the fresh, creamy milk. 

BROWN: The milk that you will purchase tomorrow will be bottled within 12 hours of coming out of the cow, so it’s very, very fresh.

And they’ve donated extra milk to local food banks. 

Both Brown and Brenneman say finding ways to get their products directly to customers has helped, yet, like so many others, their operations are still hurting. But they both serve a big, creative God. 

BROWN: I’ve always felt like my kids are watching me and this will be part of their character, so if they ever come up against something hard, are they gonna choose to lay down and cry or are they going to just do the best they can with it and choose joy. 

BRENNEMAN: God provided. He came through with a way for us to sell her hogs and move them and it was just incredible that I don’t think that solution is from me or for from anyone else.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Wednesday, May 13th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Janie B. Cheaney now on anticipating God’s plan in life’s pauses.

JANIE B. CHEANEY: Looking across the landscape, I see plans derailed like a massive train wreck, cars spilled in all directions, from corporate collapses to anniversary cruises. I’ve added my own little plan to that pile-up.

Twenty-one years ago my husband was looking for a refuge in the country because of Y2K (remember that?). We found a 150-year-old farmhouse on 5 acres for a fire-sale price, then bit off a renovation project that was almost more than we could chew.

But I never really liked the place. Our house has its charms but also its inconvenient quirks. The only kind of internet connection we could get at first was dial-up, and driving two hours back and forth to church, as least once a week, got old fast. My husband felt differently, and we had our disagreements.

Fast-forward to 2018. We’re getting older. My husband has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and though it takes a while to convince him, he’s coming around to my conviction that we need to move. Five acres will soon be too much for us to keep up, and we should be closer to services, doctors, and help from the church.

By 2019, I have a plan: clean out the clutter, sell a few collectibles, line up carpenters and plumbers to make some minor repairs. Early in 2020 I’ll be repainting, window-washing, and carpet-cleaning, and we’ll stick a For Sale sign in the front yard by May 1.

In February, bad news. Our antiquated septic system will need a major overhaul. Also, the real estate agent has done a price comparison, and the likely selling price is way off what I’d hoped. I’ll have to scale back expectations.

Then comes March: real estate grinds to a standstill and so does everything else.

I used to lie awake at night, or wake up with a sense of dread that I’m stuck here forever. So this is like a nightmare come true, except—

My attitude has changed. Miraculously.

This property is beautiful in the spring. My carpentry plans are on hold, but I rearranged some furniture and my office and bedroom feel almost like a new house. We’ve been taking more walks, enjoying the peppy birdsongs and hopeful spring peepers near the pond. I put out some flowers last week. I find myself thinking, if we’re still here three years from now–

It will be okay.

For now, for me, it’s good to slow down and watch the sunset over our Kelly-green property line. Our problems haven’t disappeared, and the time will come to deal with them.

But I am not stuck. I am paused. In music, the pauses matter as much as the notes; potential hovers within, like the Spirit of the Lord hovering over the waters.  There’s a plan in all this: just not mine.

I’m Janie B. Cheaney.

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Seniors are graduating without the usual celebrations to mark the milestone. We’ll tell you how some schools are trying to make the moment special.

And, we’ll tell you why some college students are suing their schools over the switch to online learning.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Nick Eicher.

MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham.

The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.

WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.

The Psalmist encourages us to taste and see that the Lord is good. We are blessed when we take refuge in Him.

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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