MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!
Credit cards and electronic payment apps are more popular than ever now that we’re trying to limit contact with other people. But some shoppers still insist on using cash.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Also President Trump wants to remove liability protections for social media platforms like Twitter. We’ll tell you what that means for the rest of us.
Plus WORLD editor in chief Marvin Olasky and talk-show host Michael Medved on God’s hand in U.S. history.
BASHAM: It’s Thursday, June 4th. 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: Up next, news with Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: New charges announced against officers involved in Floyd’s death » All four of the fired police officers involved in George Floyd’s death last week now face criminal charges.
Derek Chauvin is the man seen in video footage with his knee pinned against Floyd’s neck. Prosecutors upgraded his third-degree murder charge to second-degree murder along with second-degree manslaughter.
And Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said he filed a complaint against the other three officers…
ELLISON: That charges police officers King, Lane, and Tauo with aiding and abetting murder in the second degree, a felony offense.
They’re also charged with aiding and abetting manslaughter.
Floyd’s family will hold a memorial service for him in Minneapolis today, the first of several services. And Minnesota’s Democratic Governor Tim Walz told reporters Wednesday…
WALZ: Tomorrow will be a day of mourning and of celebration of George Floyd’s life. But I think it’s critically important for them to see, and for Minnesotans, to display to them that there’s another side to them and to this state that they did not see last Monday night.
Services are also scheduled for June 6th in Floyd’s hometown of Raeford, North Carolina and June 8th in Houston.
Esper opposes use of active duty troops to quell rioting » Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday he does not support using military forces to contain current street protests.
President Trump has called on governors to deploy the national guard in sufficient numbers to “dominate the streets.” And he said if governors don’t do so, he would use the U.S. military to restore order.
But Esper told reporters at the Pentagon…
ESPER: The option to use active duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort, and only in the most urgent and dire situations. We are not in one of those situations now.
Deploying active duty soldiers on U.S. streets would involve invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807. Esper made clear that he would oppose such a move.
But hundreds of active duty troops will remain on standby in the Washington D.C. area. Esper reversed an order late Wednesday that would have sent the troops home.
Fmr. Defense Secretary rips Trump’s handling of protests » Meantime, President Trump’s former defense secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday penned a scathing rebuke of Trump’s heavy-handed approach to the protests.
In a statement published by The Atlantic, Mattis said Trump has set up a false conflict between the military and civilian society. And he said he’s watched this week’s events “angry and appalled.”
He also seemed unconvinced by the president’s insistence that he had no involvement in clearing Washington’s Lafayette Square before walking through the park to pose for a picture in front of a nearby church.
Mattis said he never dreamed troops “would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief.”
He called the incident an abuse of power. And he added, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”
Moody economist: COVID-19 recession may be over » Finally, some possible good news on the economy: the worst of COVID-19’s impact may be behind us. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The payroll company ADP reports that U.S. businesses shed 2.8 million jobs in May. That’s not good. But it is far less than the roughly 9 million job losses expected.
Mark Zandi is chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. He said he believes the COVID-19 recession is over, barring a major second wave or—quote—“serious policy errors.”
He expects job growth “to resume in June.”
That’s the good news. The bad news, according to Zandi, is that the recovery will likely be slow “until there’s a vaccine or therapy that’s distributed and adopted widely.”
If the recession is over, he noted that it would be the shortest recession on record, but also among the most severe.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Senate Judiciary panel grills Rosenstein on Russia probe origins » Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was on Capitol Hill Wednesday for a series of hearings to review the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe.
He told the Senate Judiciary Committee that every warrant he signed under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act appeared justified at the time.
But committee chairman Lindsey Graham asked Rosenstein…
GRAHAM: If you knew then what you know now, would you have signed the warrant application?
ROSENSTEIN: No, I would not.
The Justice Department’s inspector general found 17 errors and rules violations in the FISA warrant application to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
It was Rosenstein who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller to lead the Russia probe after former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation.
U.S. to block Chinese flights amid trade and travel tensions » The Trump administration moved Wednesday to block Chinese airlines from flying to the United States in an escalation of trade and travel tensions between the two countries. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports.
ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The Transportation Department said it would suspend passenger flights by four Chinese airlines to and from the United States starting June 16th.
The decision was in retaliation for China’s failure to let United Airlines and Delta Air Lines resume flights to China this month.
The airlines suspended those flights earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic that started in China’s Wuhan province.
The Transportation Department accused China of violating an agreement between the two countries covering flights by each other’s airlines.
The department said talks will continue, but—quote—“In the meantime, we will allow Chinese carriers to operate the same number of scheduled passenger flights as the Chinese government allows ours.”
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: free speech and social media.
Plus, Cal Thomas on America’s reckoning with racism.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MEGAN BASHAM: It’s Thursday the 4th of June, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Before we get started, I just wanted to remind you that today is the day we will release our second episode of the special series, “Ask Doctor Horton.”
It’s questions and answers with WORLD’s medical correspondent, practicing physician Charles Horton. Still, lots of questions about the coronavirus.
You’ll find that special program later this afternoon right here in this podcast feed. So do check it out.
BASHAM: OK! First up on today’s program, President Trump takes on Twitter, his favorite social media platform. And by favorite, I mean his most frequently used social media platform.
Last week, Twitter placed a couple of warning labels on two of the president’s tweets. The warnings called his comments about mail-in voting in California “potentially misleading.”
EICHER: The president’s response was swift and sweeping.
First, he labeled Twitter a censor and a politically motivated one at that. And then a move that’s been simmering since at least the social media summit last year: an executive order that among other things directs the Federal Communications Commission to look into whether platforms are policing content in good faith.
BASHAM: Joining us now to talk about these changes and how they could affect the rest of us is Jason Thacker. He’s an associate research fellow at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. And he specializes in technology. Good morning, Jason!
JASON THACKER, GUEST: Hey, good morning. Thank you for having me, Megan.
BASHAM: At the root of this fight is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Can you start by explaining what that says?
THACKER: Yeah. I think most Americans don’t even realize that this is an act that was enacted by Congress. But it was passed in 1996 when the internet was basically a fledgling medium. Many of the largest service providers were under constant attack from litigation often concerning content that was posted on their platforms. So, Section 230, the Communications Decency Act, helps to protect these internet providers from third-party content that’s posted on their platform. So, essentially, 230 allowed a more open and free market of ideas and it led to some really great developments in the internet in terms of Facebook and Twitter and even Craigslist because it gave these companies an additional protection from litigation upon good faith efforts on their part to moderate content. And also to protect users from otherwise pretty objectionable content and material.
BASHAM: So the law shields companies from lawsuits if they remove “objectionable” content. And it does seem like there could be legitimate reasons for that protection. Another one that comes to my mind was several instances where mass shooters tried to stream their crimes live on Facebook. Is it fair to say we probably want internet companies to have that discretion?
THACKER: Yeah, I mean, at the end of it, we do want these companies to have the ability to moderate content on their platforms. They are private companies, after all. These are their products. And so most of these companies in the recent years have developed community policies or community standards or kind of the way they want their user to interact on the platform. And without 230 there would be a lot of litigation against these companies against false or misinformation, bad facts, and even defamatory posts that are seeking to really attack certain people for their beliefs. And so we do want that level of protection for these companies not just because it protects them from lawsuits, but because it does really create that more free and open internet. And so that’s where we really need to be looking to Congress to say, “Let’s clarify this.” But that’s going to be something that’s really left up to Congress because this was an act that Congress passed in 1996. So it’s not something that even the president really has the power to change.
BASHAM: Gotcha. 1996, that seems tough to apply a law from then to what we’re dealing with now. So, this debate has split the social media giants. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg publicly disagreed with Twitter’s decision. Zuckerberg said his platform would not engage in fact-checking politicians.
In the meantime, Snapchat just announced they will no longer promote the President’s account, saying, “We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion…”
How do you think these different positions could play into any efforts to modify Section 230?
THACKER: Yeah, two of the main approaches that were taken were kind of the distinction between Facebook and Twitter’s approach. This happened, actually, last year when they announced their policies and regulations on political ads. Facebook kind of took a more hands-off approach, saying they wanted the market to regulate itself. They didn’t want to be in the business of fact checking or saying what’s true and what’s not true because it’s fraught with complexity. Twitter, on the other hand, took a very different approach in saying, no, they would engage in fact checking. They would label false or manipulative videos. They would seek to ban or suspend certain accounts based on information or inciting violence. And really in both of these approaches you can see the intentions and some of the good reasons why they would implement those types of things because at the end of the day, this debate over Section 230 is less about conservative or liberal or good or bad on the internet, it really comes down to the role of free speech in our society and how we as a nation want to engage in free speech on these online platforms that are a lot bigger than they were in 1996.
BASHAM: The president clearly has a love-hate relationship with Twitter. It has been key to his ability to communicate directly with followers, and he clearly doesn’t want to lose that platform. But CEO Jack Dorsey doesn’t seem inclined to back down. Do you think there’s a middle ground solution here?
THACKER: I surely hope so. I mean, I think we should be looking to Congress is to say let’s have these debates. They’re tough, they’re difficult, they’re fraught with complexity, but we’re a deliberative people. And so I’m really hoping that we can. The one thing that I think Christians should keep in mind—especially in light of these big platforms and their influence—is that they are indeed private companies. And so do we want the government, being able to tell a private company what they can and can’t do. There are a lot of religious liberty implications to that, but there’s a lot of just free speech and how our democracy is set up. But there are a lot of kind of common sense measures and good sense measures that can be implemented to protect the vulnerable, to protect the weak, and to make sure that we’re promoting truth instead of falsehoods.
BASHAM: Jason Thacker is with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He’s also recently released a book about artificial intelligence. It’s titled, The Age of AI. Thanks for joining us today, Jason!
THACKER: Thanks for having me, Megan.
NICK EICHER: Next up on The World and Everything in It: cash and coronavirus.
MEGAN BASHAM: Cash is king. Right? Well, not any more.
First credit and debit cards took over as Americans’ favorite payment methods. Now, shoppers are turning to cashless payment apps on their smartphones. And the coronavirus pandemic is increasing that trend. Some businesses have stopped taking cash altogether over fears it could spread the virus.
EICHER: That has some financial experts predicting digital payment methods will replace cold, hard cash much sooner than expected. But moving toward cashless commerce has its drawbacks. WORLD reporter Sarah Schweinsberg has our story.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Zao Asian Cafe is a fast-casual franchise, serving-up noodle bowls and salads. Its dining rooms have opened back up, but its cash registers haven’t.
A sign over this Riverdale, Utah location’s register says, “We accept you for who you are, but we don’t accept cash.”
Isaac Cistro manages this location. His voice is muffled by a thick, black mask. He’s asking everyone to pay online or use digital wallets, credit or debit cards.
ISAAC: I have a couple people come in with cash, but they get it they understand because of the virus.
If a customer only has cash, Cistro will accept it. But he says eliminating cash is safer for his employees and the customers.
ISAAC: Cause we don’t know where the money comes from, you know.
Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise businesses to use touchless payments as much as possible. That’s pushed some businesses like supermarket giant Publix to begin accepting Apple and Google Pay at its 1,200 locations.
Politico reported that Paypal, which also owns the Venmo App, has seen twice the usual number of new customers setting up accounts each day.
Kenneth Rogoff is an economist at Harvard University. He says this uptick is just speeding up an existing trend.
ROGOFF: There’s been a steady change for 100 years, first, the checks and then credit cards, and then debit cards, and then smartphones, and now all these new payment apps…. So I think the days of cash are numbered, and I don’t think there’s any question that Covid-19 is going to accelerate this trend.
Rogoff says, germs aside, businesses have been promoting cashless payments because greenbacks have drawbacks.
ROGOFF: Actually managing cash is a very expensive. First of all, your insurance rates are much higher when you’re a cash-intensive business for obvious reasons, there’s a lot of employee theft that businesses need to control, they’re all kinds of handling problems, record-keeping problems…
But some cash-advocates argue a digital financial world creates disadvantages for the poor and elderly who may not have bank accounts, smartphones or access to credit cards. Cash is also more private than recorded digital transactions.
Michael Lee heads the ATM Industry Association. He says paper money is being unjustly targeted amid coronavirus fears.
LEE: It’s completely unfair to single out cash as a factor for transmitting the coronavirus because any physical surface could carry that.
The idea of cash being dirty gained steam in March. That’s when British newspaper, The Telegraph, published an article saying paper bills might be spreading the virus. The World Health Organization then issued a statement refuting those claims, but Lee says the message took hold.
LEE: Our members really suffered, during March, when this was at its height. We spent two months sending our correctional messages.
So is cash dirty or clean? Dr. Amesh Adalja is an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins University. He says cash is dirty, but so is everything else.
ADALJA: It just is the fact that everything that human hands touch everything on this planet is teaming with microorganisms, most of which don’t cause any problems, however when there are outbreaks and pandemics, like what’s going on now, people do worry about transmission through coins and paper bills. However, I don’t think it’s a major route for this virus to get around the world.
Dr. Adalja says after touching any surface, including cash, safety comes down to handwashing and not touching your face.
And so, many businesses are still accepting cash, but they are taking precautions.
AUDIO: [Sound of cash register]
At a Great Harvest Bread Company in Layton, Utah, an elderly man pays an employee with a $20 dollar bill. The employee wears a mask and gloves, and she avoids the man’s hands when she gives him his change. Then she wipes down the register.
Joe Rich owns the store. He says county guidelines discouraged cash, but he wanted to give his customers options.
RICH: I think that people who use cash are cash buyers. They have cash. They use cash. And I think to be able to give them the ability to come in and purchase without having them use a card, I think is important.
AUDIO: [SOUND OF MEXICAN MUSIC]
Marce Perez owns Garcia’s Mini Market in Kaysville, Utah. She still takes cash because many of her customers don’t like credit cards. Her son translates.
MARCE: Well, she’s saying, our people, our Hispanic people, aren’t really good with using their credit cards, and they don’t know how to control their financing and stuff like that so they use mostly cash when they come to stores….
That isn’t a problem unique to her community. As of 2019, Americans have racked up nearly $14 trillion in personal debt.
Harvard’s Rogoff says as tech advancements allow for even better digital payment security and variety, cash will continue to fade. But he predicts, real money will and should still have a place.
ROGOFF: I favor a less cash society and not a cashless one.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg in Layton, Kaysville, and Ogden, Utah.
NICK EICHER: Starting your day with The World and Everything in It, now that’s a great start.
Here’s a not-great start.
GESHEL: Joe, they’re fighting! They’re fighting! They’re fighting! They just, he just, he just, uh, oh my, they’re fighting outside the door!
Susan Geshel of Ft. Myers, Florida, was on her way to the kitchen when she heard what she thought was a knock at the door.
But the doorbell camera caught the whole thing: two big alligators locked in mortal combat right outside the front door.
GESHEL: One just snapped at the other and got him right in the middle. Oh my!
Eventually, the ’gators made their way down the sidewalk, presumably to a nearby pond.
But what a jolt…
And all this before her morning coffee.
Doubt she needed any caffeine that day.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: Today is Thursday, June 4th. 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: The Olasky Interview.
Today, a conversation with political commentator, columnist, and national talk show host Michael Medved. He’s the author of 14 books.
In 2004 he published Right Turns. It chronicles his personal journey from political liberalism to conservatism, and his conversion from secularism to Judaism.
EICHER: His latest project explores the providential hand of God in American history. Marvin Olasky and Michael Medved talk about it, but not before talking about cleanliness and godliness.
MARVIN OLASKY: Now we’ve spoken a few times over the years. The last time, I had the privilege to meet you at your synagogue and walk to your home for a wonderful Sabbath meal. I want to ask you one thing about that. You were picking up trash as we walked, and my wife and I last night were both remembering that, and she said, “I want to get one of those trash picker-uppers” because we have some trash in our neighborhood and that would be a very useful thing for us to do as we are walking our dog. So, what kind of trash picker-upper do you have?
MICHAEL MEDVED: I use a thing called, I think it’s called, the Gofer. But generally, they make these for old people.
By the way, I thought you were going to ask me something else which was that, in, in Jewish law, there are restrictions on transporting things carrying things from one place to another on the Sabbath.
MEDVED: The prohibition is because transporting something from one domain to another, is the essence of commerce, it changes its status. You’re of course allowed to carry something from one room of your house to another, or from your backyard, because it’s your property into your living room. And this very common practice, which is basically based on the idea of a walled city, is that when you’re in a communal space if you’re carrying something within the community, that doesn’t change its status and it doesn’t violate the sabbath.
Therefore, carrying litter away, it’s a, it’s part of what, what I call “Do It Yourself Conservatism.” In other words there’s so many people who complain about things, like the environment, this is something—my own little contribution—to making my immediate environment better. And I just have never seen any downside to it.
That whole idea of, well, “while I’m walking through, I’m going to improve the world on the path that I take” that I think is, is one of those things that has powerfully motivated you your whole career and I’ve tried to have that as my motivation as well.
OLASKY: Well, yes, but right now I should probably turn to your American history writing, because you do have a new book out: God’s Hand on America. Let me ask about some of the miraculous things that you cite, and I’m going to be a little bit skeptical about some of them.
I’m glad that you, you start writing about William Seward, he’s one of the underrated politicians in our history. You mentioned that on the night of Lincoln’s assassination, Seward, who had had a bad accident, was in bed and so one of the accomplices of John Wilkes Booth was going to kill him. And there he was, lying in bed, and was a little helpless in defending himself—although he did roll over and managed to get out of the way, at one point—so you point to the accident nine days before as actually helpful in some ways, but he wouldn’t have been lying in bed if he hadn’t had the accident. Perhaps he would have been better able to defend himself.
MEDVED: But it wasn’t his defending himself that delivered him. What delivered him was the contraption that the doctors had set up. Because he had broken both his upper and lower jaw…
MEDVED: …in the carriage accident, and they built a device that was made of metal plates that covered his throat and set his jaw in place and it was wrapped in canvas, sort of like a mummy, to keep it attached, very tightly to his face so that he could heal.
And the Friday morning of the Good Friday, when there was this attack on Seward the same night that Lincoln, his friend and of course his chief as president of the United States, was shot in the head.
Lewis Powell had been instructed as part of this Booth conspiracy to kill Seward.
So he came up and decided to use a knife. Now he was a trained killer. And he went for the jugular. And he brought the knife down repeatedly. Most experts on this incident say at least four times against Seward’s throat and it kept hitting the metal plate, that was only there because the accident that had nearly killed him nine days before.
Now, all of this becomes enormously important and ties in with America’s future. Because without Seward survival on this April 14th, Friday of 1865, America never acquires Alaska in 1867.
OLASKY: Right, we’re agreed upon the importance of Alaska, and the importance of Seward and making that possible. I guess my question is, you describe that vivid scene of his almost assassination. And yes, there is the, the metal plate protecting his throat, but, and you tie this in as God’s providential action there, which I very much believe God providentially acts. I’m wondering in the circumstance, when we tie together a particular accident and say “well this is the way God worked this and if it hadn’t happened this other stuff would not have happened,” are we are we saying too much? Are we saying beyond what we really know as far as God’s providential actions towards life in the life of America?
MEDVED: It’s certainly beyond what we really know, but it is not beyond what I think we can infer.
EICHER: That’s Michael Medved talking to Marvin Olasky.
More of this interview appeared back in April in WORLD Magazine. In the transcript of today’s program, we’ll have a link to it.
NICK EICHER: Today is Thursday, June 4th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. The book of James has some excellent advice: let’s all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.
Commentator Cal Thomas has some thoughts on that.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: This week conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh appeared on The Breakfast Club. It’s a nationally syndicated radio program that features discussions on progressive politics and black culture.
The fascinating conversation went on for almost half an hour. While it appeared that the hosts and Limbaugh were occasionally talking over each other, the conservative had to earn at least some respect with his forceful denunciation of the killing of George Floyd. Limbaugh said the police officer who killed Floyd should be charged with first, not third-degree murder.
The Breakfast Club hosts D.J. Envy, Angela Yee, and Lenard Larry McKelvey, focused mainly on what they called “white privilege” as the source of misery in much of the African American community. Limbaugh countered that the three hosts were examples of how one can overcome obstacles, including discrimination.
We will always debate solutions, but it’s hard to deny we have a major problem. And it’s not only racism. It is that we don’t know each other.
I grew up in a virtually all-white Washington, D.C., suburb—a city that practiced segregation well into the 1960s. So I didn’t know anyone of a different race, other than a family maid, until I began playing college basketball. Showering and eating meals with people who were “different” from me bridged a gap that no legislation could span. I came to see them as teammates, friends, equals, and better players than me.
White people have enjoyed privilege from the beginning of the country in almost every category. This includes professional sports, which are now dominated by African Americans, but for many years were not.
I recently re-watched the Ken Burns series “Baseball” on PBS and was reminded of how that sport banned black players from fields simply because of their skin color. It is important for white people to acknowledge white privilege and our history of white supremacy before helpful and healing conversations can begin.
Those who think we’re completely beyond the past should think again. It was only in 2009 that Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., who is African American, was arrested by a white police officer in Cambridge after a neighbor reported a black man trying to break into a house. It was Gates’ own home.
I asked Gates about our current upheaval, and he said—quoting now—“Those of us who love freedom and justice and believe in an America that stands for racial equality and community across the color line must join arms and fight white supremacy wherever and however it rears its heinous head.” End quote.
I’ll close with another observation from Rush Limbaugh’s conversation on The Breakfast Club. After Limbaugh played the segment on his show, a caller offered her definition of white privilege. She said it came from how the country was founded, reserving economic and political power for white, land-owning men.
Somewhat surprisingly, Limbaugh seemed to agree with her. He called her summation “brilliant.”
More of us need to have these conversations and not be so eager to get in our talking points. We should speak less and listen more.
I’m Cal Thomas.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Culture Friday. We’ll talk with WORLD commentator and pro-life activist Ryan Bomberger and we’ll discuss the killing of George Floyd up in Minnesota and the shockwaves all across the country.
And, a review of a new British drama on a game-show cheating scandal.
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.
John teaches us to ask in the face of any difficulty or turmoil, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!