The World and Everything in It — May 19, 2020

BRIAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!

Sweden adopted a different strategy to fight the coronavirus than the rest of the world. Some people think the United States ought to try the Swedish approach.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Also today, new guidance for handling accusations of sexual assault on campus.

Plus what an Atlanta History museum is doing to preserve personal stories of this unique time in history.

And Les Sillars with a story of God’s love for all his children.

BASHAM: It’s Tuesday, May 19th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Brian Basham.

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

BASHAM: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Many states loosen coronavirus restrictions this week » It’s a big week for reopening across the country. Almost half of all states are loosening restraints in some form this week.

On Monday, businesses like gyms and shopping malls put out the welcome mat in some states. 

Arkansas GOP Governor Asa Hutchinson told Fox Business…

HUTCHINSON: We’ve lifted a whole host of restrictions. In fact today, all retail shops in Arkansas are open for business, with some restrictions, but they’re all open. 

And Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, said retail businesses in northern Michigan can reopen as well, but also with new safety measures. 

WHITMER: Going to work is going to feel different for a little while. These are big changes and we’re all adapting to them. But they’re absolutely necessary for the continued protection of our families.

But one day after Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said reopening states are not seeing spikes of COVID-19 cases, numbers out of Texas are drawing new scrutiny. The Lone Star State saw more than 1,400 new cases last Thursday—the state’s biggest single-day jump. 

But Governor Greg Abbott says that may be due to an increase in testing rather than a spike in new illnesses. 

Texas was among the first states to lift some restrictions. Gyms, factories and offices reopen in the state this week. 

Meantime in Oregon, a judge ruled Monday that Democratic Governor Kate Brown overstepped her authority with coronavirus orders. The judge tossed out the restrictions, saying she did not follow state law when she extended stay-at-home orders without seeking approval from lawmakers.

Markets rally on vaccine optimism, Fed remarks » AUDIO: [SOUND OF CLOSING BELL]

Renewed optimism about a coronavirus vaccine may have helped spur a big rally on Wall Street. 

The Dow and the S&P 500 both enjoyed their biggest one-day gains since early April. The Dow surged more than 900 points, almost 4 percent. The S&P 500 gained 3.2 percent. 

Recent comments from Fed chief Jerome Powell also helped boost the markets. Powell told 60 Minutes:

POWELL: When the virus outbreak is behind us, the economy should be able to recover substantially. 

And he added “there’s a lot more [the Fed] can do” to help the economy. And—quoting here—“I will say that we’re not out of ammunition by a long shot. There’s really no limit to what we can do with these lending programs that we have.”

WHO chief pledges independent probe of virus response » The World Health Organization on Monday bowed to calls from many of its member states to allow an independent probe of its coronavirus response.

Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus virtually addressed member states on Monday.

GHEBREYESUS: I will initiate an independent evaluation at the earliest appropriate moment to review experience gained and lessons learned. 

But he also defended the WHO’s handling of the pandemic. And he said the probe would stop short of looking into contentious issues such as the origins of the coronavirus. 

The Trump administration says the WHO was complicit in helping China conceal the extent of the outbreak at a critical early stage. And President Trump is considering whether to cut the annual U.S. funding from $450 million a year to $40 million.

Justice Dept: Saudi Pensacola air base gunman was connected to al-Qaeda » The Saudi cadet who went on a deadly shooting rampage at a Florida military base last year communicated with al-Qaeda before the attack. That according to Attorney General William Barr. He told reporters Monday that the FBI finally succeeded in unlocking the gunman’s phones.

BARR: The phones contained information previously unknown to us that definitively establishes Alshamrani’s significant ties to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, not only before the attack, but before he even arrived in the United States. 

The Saudi Air Force officer tried to destroy his phones before being shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy.

Barr also sharply chastised Apple for not helping the FBI to unlock the phones.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the evidence trail shows signs of his radicalization as far back as 2015. 

The gunman was at the Pensacola Naval Air Station as part of a program in which foreign militaries receive instruction in the United States. He killed three sailors and injured eight others in the December attack.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: two rulings from the Supreme Court.

Plus, Les Sillars on evidence of God’s astonishing love.

This is The World and Everything in It.

BRIAN BASHAM: It’s Tuesday the 19th of May, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Brian Basham.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. 

The Supreme Court handed down two opinions in the past week. Both unanimous. 

First, compensation for victims of terror attacks. The court ruled terror victims can seek punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. 

Six hundred people sued the government of Sudan for injuries they suffered in attacks back in 1998. Al-Qaeda carried out twin truck bombings at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. And during that time, it was Sudan that gave al-Qaeda safe haven.

At issue for the Supreme Court was whether a law passed years after the attacks applies retroactively. An argument that it shouldn’t was that it’s unfair to impose new burdens after the fact. At oral argument, you can hear a foreshadowing of the court’s ruling in this question from an incredulous Justice Samuel Alito:

ALITO: I mean, is the idea that if a — if a foreign state is going to sponsor terrorism, it might think, well, you know, if we’re going to be liable for compensatory damages, it’s worth our while, but if we’re going to get hit with punitive damages, well, that’s going to stop us?

The justices decided that Congress did intend for punitive damages to be available to terror victims for past actions. And so the case returns now to lower court to align with this ruling.

BASHAM: The second unanimous decision is in a trademark case. 

In dispute were apparel makers Lucky Brand, Inc. and Marcel Fashions, Inc. They’ve long disputed the use of the word “Lucky” on their products. 

Years ago, the companies reached a settlement agreement, but it didn’t anticipate disputes in the future

Marcel argued that settlement precluded Lucky Brand from bringing up new defenses in future cases. But the justices say new facts foster new claims and, therefore, it has to allow for new defenses.

NICK EICHER: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: lockdowns or herd immunity.

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 began to slow in mid-May after weeks of social distancing. But the disease has still taken more than 90,000 lives

The economic toll is also dire: Damage to and outright destruction of thousands of businesses and the resulting joblessness have led to economic loss that could rival the Great Depression.

BRIAN BASHAM: There’s a growing consensus that our economy cannot survive indefinite lockdown. But how do we reopen in a way that prevents outbreaks that overwhelm hospitals? 

WORLD reporter Jill Nelson now on the different approaches different countries are taking to answer that question.


JILL NELSON, REPORTER: It’s Saturday afternoon in San Clemente, California, and local beaches are crowded. People are tired of quarantine, its many demands, and its economic toll. That’s why the perspective of people like Scott Atlas, a former neuroradiology chief at Stanford Medical Center, has so much appeal.

ATLAS: If we totally prevent human interaction, we are preventing immunity in the population. This is very important to understand. Ninety-nine percent of people who get this infection are either asymptomatic or have very mild illness.

Atlas, who’s also a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, claims lockdowns do more harm than good. Among those harms: economic devastation and forecasted deaths due to undiagnosed cancer treatments and other delayed medical visits.

Many in Atlas’ camp also have theories about the nature of the virus. They claim it’s far too contagious to be contained and will eventually result in the same infection rate around the world. They say herd immunity is our passport through this ugly season.

And Atlas says that means we need to do a better job protecting high risk groups and letting the virus circulate among low-risk groups.

ATLAS: There’s absolutely no rationale for closing K through 8 schools. There’s no scientific basis for doing that. 

This mirrors the approach Sweden embraced from day one. The Scandinavian country made the bold decision to keep K-through-8 schools open and avoid lockdowns. Groups over 50 are banned but restaurants and other businesses that follow national guidelines can stay open. That stands in stark contrast to other countries in Europe.

Anders Tegnell is Sweden’s chief epidemiologist. He helped direct his country’s approach and claims lockdowns don’t prevent deaths; they just delay them. Earlier this month he updated Sweden’s progress in a video posted online.

TEGNELL: We think that we are reaching maybe a quarter of the population in the Stockholm area that have had the disease by now. And we believe that’s part of the reason the disease is slowing down now that a quarter of the population is immune. 

Andrew Noymer is an epidemiologist at the University of California in Irvine. He says Tegnell’s theory is unproven and comes at a high cost.

NOYMER: Sweden does not have flattering mortality statistics. Literally, elderly Swedes are being sacrificed for this policy of more freedom.

In mid-May, Sweden had 343 deaths per million, surpassing the United States’ per capita deaths and ranking 6th in the world for countries over 10 million people. Some say Sweden’s approach could prove even more disastrous for the United States because of its higher urban density and worse average health. And early economic projections show Sweden may not fare much better than the United States and Germany in terms of unemployment and GDP.

Atlas doesn’t look to Sweden as the model we should follow and blames Sweden’s death rate on its failure to protect nursing homes. But he does agree with Tegnell’s immunity theory. And he says the mortality rate of the virus is lower than many claim.

ATLAS: There have been three dozen studies all over the world that say the fatality rate is in the order of 0.1, 0.2, 0.3 percent. I don’t know the exact number because we don’t have the correct denominator, the number of infected people.

Noymer disagrees and puts the fatality rate around 0.6 percent. That would make COVID-19 six times more deadly than influenza with the ability to spread much faster and farther. Others in his field say the fatality rate is closer to 1 percent, making it 10 times more deadly than influenza. Many have pointed out that we don’t know the threshold for COVID-19 immunity or how long it lasts.

What you believe about fatality rates and immunity affects the policies you embrace as the economy begins to open. Atlas supports school openings, but Noymer believes it’s too early to decide. He points out that children bring the virus into the home. 

Sweden’s approach also assumes there won’t be a vaccine any time soon. 

Even if a vaccine takes years to develop, Noymer says it makes sense to delay deaths.

NOYMER: My take is that as this goes on and on, clinicians will get better and better at treating it. So the death to case ratio will decline over time as doctors, physicians get a better handle on clinical approaches.

Atlas and Noymer do agree on a few things. First, COVID-19 isn’t going away soon, and contact tracing will not save the day. New Zealand is among the countries that locked down early and employed massive testing. It now boasts a fatality rate of only four deaths per million. But Noymer says the scope and scale of contact tracing necessary to achieve similar results in the United States is beyond reach.

NOYMER: It’s one thing to talk about contact tracing when we’re all on lockdown and we have three contacts per week but what about when we start opening up and have 30 contacts per week?

Second, both recommend a slow reopening of the economy that includes social distancing measures and some testing. Atlas says Americans are already prepared  for that. But exactly how that plays out over the coming months in terms of fatalities versus economic gain remains to be seen.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Jill Nelson in San Clemente, California.

NICK EICHER: In 1972, Congress updated the Civil Rights Act with an amendment that became known as Title IX. That provision outlaws sex discrimination at colleges and K-12 schools. It also spells out policies governing campus sexual harassment and violence.

BRIAN BASHAM: The Department of Education provides guidance to schools to help implement those policies. And earlier this month, the Trump administration issued a set of new requirements. WORLD reporter Laura Edghill has our story.

LAURA EDGHILL, REPORTER: The Title IX revisions released the first week of May strengthen due process rights for those accused of sexual violence on campus. But they also shore up supports for victims.

COHN: It’s a huge victory for complainants in particular to make sure that their educational needs will be met no matter what.

Joe Cohn serves as the legislative and policy director at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a free speech advocacy group.

He says practices on college campuses over the years have swung too far in favor of the person bringing the complaint. That often leads to unjust punishments for those accused. He says the new rules rebalance the scales of justice and, more importantly, go a long way toward restoring Title IX’s original intent.

COHN: It wasn’t really designed to be a secondary shadow justice system. It was supposed to be there to ensure that sex-based discrimination didn’t drive students away, didn’t take them away from pursuing their educations.

Education Department officials spent the last year and a half combing through more than 124,000 public comments on the proposed revisions. The new rules replace previous Obama-era guidance that was frequently criticized for stripping the accused of their rights.

DE VOS: Title IX has brought an end to many injustices since it was enacted. And the new rule we announce today will help end more.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos described how Title IX now protects individuals from being punished before the evidence proves responsibility. She also emphasized that the new rules now carry the force of law.

DE VOS: For the first time ever, Title IX codifies into law sexual harassment as the discrimination it is. Before now, administrations only addressed it through Dear Colleague letters, which are not legally binding and do not have the force of law. We owe students more than letters.

The regulations take effect August 14th, so even though schools are currently preoccupied with a host of issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, they need to prepare. The new law requires them to hold live hearings and allow cross-examination of witnesses. They also must presume the accused is innocent until proven guilty, and adhere to a standardized definition of harassment.

Opponents quickly condemned the announcement. They say the changes shift protections too far in favor of the accused and create barriers to justice for victims.

Faith Ferber is a victim’s rights advocate.

FERBER: My reaction? I’m feeling really hurt after the announcement today. As a survivor, as an activist, as someone who’s been doing this work for almost five years now, it really feels like a slap in the face.

Stanford University law professor Michele Dauber says the new rules could have a chilling effect on victims.

DAUBER: They will make victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault far less likely to report.

Opponents of the law are particularly concerned about live hearings. They claim that requirement could make individuals already traumatized by sexual violence fearful to come forward. They also complain about the level of scrutiny required for behavior to be considered harassment. And they say alternative processes such as mediation or restorative justice could be intimidating for victims who’ve already suffered harm.

But Joe Cohn points out victims would face a live hearing in a criminal case. He also notes the new Title IX rules more closely mimic the off-campus legal process.

He said ultimately the introduction of strong protections for the accused is a win for everyone involved.

COHN: One of the main things I think people don’t think about is that due process isn’t only a benefit to the accused student. Complainants derive a lot out of due process protections. Even the protections that are one-sided and only go the other way, because it’s the presence of these procedural safeguards that gives the process its legitimacy.

He also emphasized that the addition of an extensive array of supportive services is really good news for victims. Those services may include modified class schedules, assignment extensions, housing changes, counseling, escort services, and even institutional enhancements like increased security in an area of campus.

But the bottom line, Cohn says, is that the Title IX revisions focus the law firmly on the accuser’s access to education.

COHN: And these regs say, absolutely, you must always be thinking about what ways you can support a complainant, to ensure they can continue their education. That’s really monumental.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Laura Edghill.

NICK EICHER: A couple in Newfoundland, up in Canada, is grateful to the paw patrol for saving them from a possibly deadly fire. 

Scott White’s slow cooker malfunctioned and sent a dull haze of smoke throughout his home.

The Whites were sound asleep and the outcome might have been tragically different if not for one of their pets. The Whites have two of them: a cat named Joey and a dog named Weston. 

Now anyone who ever saw an episode of the classic TV show Lassie knows what happens next. Weston bolted into their bedroom barking a dire warning and alerting his owners to danger, right? 

Wrong. The dog, who White says has been known to bark for very little reason at all, slept through the entire event. 

It was Joey who jumped into action! 

White said “Usually, Joey doesn’t bother us when we sleep,” but “I woke up with a paw on my face.”

Sensing trouble, White checked the house, found the fire, and got everyone to safety. 

He said Joey got a few extra treats in the morning for his heroics.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Tuesday, May 19th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

BRIAN BASHAM: And I’m Brian Basham. The second to last episode of The Olasky Interview, Season 2, is now online. 

This week, WORLD’s editor in chief Marvin Olasky talks with Samuel Rodriguez. He’s president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. In this week’s episode, the two discuss the steady growth of the hispanic evangelical movement in this country and around the world. Check it out, wherever you get your podcasts.

EICHER: Coming up next on The World and Everything In It, preserving stories of the pandemic.

A few months ago, Atlanta’s History Center appealed to the public for personal accounts of life during the current crisis. People from across Georgia and around the world responded to that appeal. And WORLD reporter Myrna Brown has the story.

MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: It’s Monday morning and Paul Crater starts another week of work in his corner of what used to be an upstairs bedroom. 

CRATER: My wife and two kids are all packed into an office and we’re all kind of working side by side in this 12×12 foot room. Each of us with our own devices, each of us at our own desks. So, it’s a lot more busy than my regular job because I’m not interrupted every 25 seconds at my regular job.

Crater is an archivist at the Atlanta History Center. In this role, he receives, organizes, and preserves records. He must determine if items like photographs, maps, speeches, and letters are significant to the collection.  

CRATER: What is the intellectual content of a particular group of records and then conveys a description of them in an inventory that’s publicly accessible online so people can discover them.

When the Atlanta History Center temporarily closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Crater says many people began looking to history for answers. 

CRATER: We started getting calls from news organizations wanting information or documents related to the 1918 flu pandemic. And we had none.  

That’s when museum leaders came up with the Corona Collective, an idea to collect pandemic stories and materials to one day share with future generations. 

CRATER: Normally, the collection materials that people give us are given to us many years or in many cases many decades after they were produced. And so collecting in real time is just a different experience. We’ve never done this.  

Twenty-four hours after launching the Corona Collective, Crater says submissions started pouring in from Georgia and beyond. 

NEW YORK MAN ENTRY: My name is Joseph and the purpose of this video is to talk to you about my own personal experience of COVID 19 Coronavirus.

Videos arrived from people like this 32-year-old athlete from New York who talked for 10 minutes about testing positive for the virus. 

NEW YORK MAN ENTRY: The most memorable symptom was a sharp pain in my lower back. 

Other entries include digital photographs and images of changing environments.

CRATER: People are blown away by the fact that there are no cars on the interstate. And so they take photographs of that or they take photographs of parks that might be closed. We get some images of medical professionals who send us selfies in their PPE.

Students and educators are also participating, sending in digital journals and podcasts about their distance learning experiences. 

STUDENT PODCAST: I think the first semester we got really close and it’s kind of hard not being able to continue that community. 

One of the most memorable items arrived in mid-April, a letter, written by Andrea Winkler. 

CRATER: It was just sort of a spontaneous moment that touched her. 

WINKLER: That day it was a little warm and so it was Holy Saturday.

Winkler lives in a neighborhood about 30 miles east of Atlanta. 


The middle-age dog owner spends most afternoons walking Bella, Justin, and Ginger-bear. The day before Easter, she was helping a neighbor care for her dog. 

WINKLER: And Duke was still horsing around the yard and I thought, I’m hearing singing. Does someone have a radio on? So, I tried to isolate it because I thought, oh that sounds like a hymn. No, that’s…wait a minute.. That’s Fairest Lord Jesus!  

The college professor says a creek and a line of trees stood between her and the sweet sounds. But Winkler says with so much delight in their voices, she didn’t need to see her neighbors faces.  

WINKLER: And here were my neighbors. They couldn’t go to their houses of worship for whatever reason, but that wasn’t stopping them. Their churches were online, the physical buildings were shuttered, but they were taking the idea that when two or three are gathered in Christ’s name, there there is a church, there Christ will be as well.  

Heading back to her house, Winkler says she paused once more to enjoy one last selection, another classic hymn, Holy, Holy, Holy. 

WINKLER: They sang every single verse! One of the ones I’d forgotten. And so, I found myself humming this. 

And she didn’t stop humming until the entire experience was on paper.

WINKLER: I really did. I immediately went there because again, so many people are posting, “oh this is driving me to drink. I can’t go out, I can’t do anything. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.” And I thought, we need more stories about “we can.” 

Back in his converted Atlanta office, Crater agrees, as he analyzes the ever growing Corona Collective, so far, 400 digital items strong.

CRATER: One hundred years from now we will have something to show to the public. Just a slice of how Atlanta experienced this in 2020. I have been blown away by the clear realization that the people who are submitting know that they are in an historic moment. Their submissions really reflect a sense of community.

Reporting remotely for WORLD, I’m Myrna Brown in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

BRIAN BASHAM: Today is Tuesday, May 19th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Brian Basham.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. WORLD’s Les Sillars now with a story about how God’s astonishing love baffles our self-righteousness.

LES SILLARS, COMMENTATOR: Recently I came across the passage in Matthew where Jesus says to the chief priests and elders, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.”

It reminded me of a story I heard some years ago from Chris Fay. Chris is the executive director of Homestretch, an organization for homeless families near Washington, D.C.

In 1983 Chris was running a soup kitchen in New York City. A homeless woman named Brandy often came to help in the kitchen. She was tall and kind of big-boned. Very gregarious.

FAY: And one of the things that struck me about her was how she was always thanking the Lord. For everything. Thank the lord that it’s a beautiful new day. Thank the lord that there’s food on the table. 

I actually started getting irritated by it, because I felt like it was artificial. Someone who was out selling her body every day to make cash to feed a drug habit didn’t know God. That was my perspective through this, so I must have hidden my judgment. But it was true. I really did judge her.

But then over time I started to realize that she had an absolutely extraordinary background of abuse that would have killed other people. She was put in an institution at the age of about 6 for mentally ill sort of children. They never taught her to read or write. 

And she was also taught that the solution to feeling poorly was drugs. She was constantly put on medications to dull her and make her quiet.

And so when she got to be age 16, she aged out of this institution. And what they did, they treated her in the same way they treated an inmate getting out of prison. They released her on her birthday at midnight in the Bronx. Under a bridge. Because it was raining. They just dropped her out of the car. They gave her a bag of clothes and like 20 bucks.

And at that point she was lost. She was a lost little soul. She couldn’t read or write. She didn’t know the world. She’d never been out of this institution. And there were about three different women that saw her and befriended her and took her in. And these were prostitutes. But they saw this young girl, they took pity on her, and they said come with us we’ll take care of you. So they taught her their trade.

But as I got to know her over time, she would tell stories of being in the midst of an abusive relationship, where she, she thought the man was going to kill her. And having the reality that God was there. And that God was telling her I love you. I love you and I will always love you and I will always be there for you. You are my child.

And somehow she picked up Bible verses without ever knowing how to read the Bible. And she could cite them, and she would hold onto these little nuggets of Biblical truth. And when in my program she said, “Chris will you teach me to read?” So that’s one of the things we did with her was teach her to read and we taught her to read the Bible. And she became clean and sober.

I think what she taught me was that God has His own way of reaching you. Even if other people put up barriers, God can reach through to you. ‘Cause He did to her. He made her feel like a human being. He made her feel loved.

Brandy still lives in New York. She’s changed her name and is active in the Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous communities. Chris says she’s doing well.

I’m Les Sillars.

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: States were told they ought to wait for 14 days of COVID-19 declines before reopening their economies. Few have actually met that benchmark. We’ll talk about that on Washington Wednesday.

That and more tomorrow.

I’m Nick Eicher.

BRIAN BASHAM: And I’m Brian 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.

From where does my help come? The Psalmist reminds us, it comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. You can count on it: He who keeps you will not slumber.

Be sure and catch this morning’s WORLD Watch News in 3 at

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.

Like this story?

To hear a lot more like it, subscribe to The World and Everything in It via iTunes, Overcast, Stitcher, or Pocket Casts.







Pocket Casts

(Requires a fee)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.