MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
Another round of stimulus checks are in the works. We’ll hear how that’s going.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.
Also: World Tour.
Plus, last month Mississippi lawmakers voted to change their state flag. We’ll check in on the process of choosing a new standard.
We have the opportunity to participate and have a voice, and I thought it was important for people to participate.
And WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney on truth and consequences.
REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, July 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 has the news.
Attorney general testifies on protest response, high profile prosecutions » Attorney General William Barr faced lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday. He defended the federal law enforcement response to civil unrest.
BARR: Obviously, as I’ve said from the beginning, these peaceful protests in many places are being hijacked by a very hard core of instigators, violent instigators.
And he pushed back against Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee … who said the administration is quashing dissent.
Democrats also accused Barr of carrying out instructions from President Trump when he reduced the recommended sentence of Trump ally Roger Stone.
Congressman Hank Johnson …
JOHNSON: You think the American people don’t understand that you were carrying out Trump’s will?
BARR: I had not discussed my sentencing recommendation with anyone at the White House.
Barr also defended his decision to drop charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn … after wrongdoing within the FBI came to light.
BARR: The cases that are cited, the Stone case and Flynn case were both cases where I determined that some intervention was necessary to rectify the rule of law, to make sure people are treated the same.
Barr suggested both men had been prosecuted more aggressively because of their connections to Trump.
Trump administration won’t accept new DACA applications » The Trump administration will deny new applications for so-called “Dreamers” and cut DACA renewals from two years to one. That despite reversals in court that kept the Obama-era program alive. WORLD’s Leigh Jones reports.
LJ: The Supreme Court ruled last month that President Trump did not follow proper procedures in trying to end the DACA program. But it left the door open for the president to try again. And the administration’s new rewrite of the program signals that he’s doing just that.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program currently shields about 700,000 immigrants from deportation. All were brought into the country illegally as children. President Obama went around Congress to create the program by executive order in 2012.
New applications were put on hold when President Trump moved to end DACA in 2017. But two-year renewals have continued.
A federal judge in Maryland ruled earlier this month that DACA should be restored to original form. The White House fully expects legal challenges to Tuesday’s announcement.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones.
Trump to receive nomination in NC » President Trump will accept the GOP presidential nomination in North Carolina after all.
The Republican National Convention was originally scheduled to take place in Charlotte beginning August 24th. But when North Carolina’s Democratic Governor Roy Cooper could not guarantee a crowd would be allowed to attend … the party moved the convention to Jacksonville. But the GOP had to cancel those plans last week amid a surge of COVID-19 cases.
There still won’t be a crowd in Charlotte, but many Republican delegates will attend.
TRUMP: I think we did the right thing, and I’m really happy that we’re going to be having a piece of it at least, and a very important piece, in North Carolina.
No word yet on the exact date or the location where Trump will accept the nomination.
Florida, Texas report positive coronavirus trends » Florida on Tuesday reported a new single-day record for coronavirus-related deaths, 191. The health department also reported more than 9,000 new cases.
But Governor Ron DeSantis said there is some good news to report.
DESANTIS: Statewide, we’ve seen a decline in visits for COVID-like illness to emergency departments. We’ve seen a stabilization or a decline in the COVID hospital census.
Just over 9,000 Floridians are now hospitalized with the virus … down from 9,500 roughly one week ago. The Republican governor said the recent rise in the rate of positive tests has also leveled off.
And Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Tuesday that the surge is also slowing in his state.
ABBOTT: That is happening because of one very important reason, and that’s because so many people in this region, they have become aware of the dangers of COVID-19, and they’ve been acting in safer ways.
On Sunday, Texas reported about 4,300 new cases … the lowest total since the July 4th weekend. The positivity rate has also been declining for more than a week.
Fauci responds to Trump Twitter jab » The White House’s top infectious disease expert again defended himself Tuesday from another jab by President Trump.
The president on Monday retweeted a post from the Twitter account for a podcast hosted by former White House adviser Steve Bannon. It said—quote—“Dr. Fauci has misled the American public on many issues, but in particular, on dismissing hydroxychloroquine”.
Fauci told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos … he doesn’t pay attention to the tweets.
FAUCI: I just will continue to do my job no matter what comes out because I think it’s very important. We’re in the middle of a crisis. This is what I do. This is what I trained for my entire professional life and I’ll continue to do it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: To the charge you’ve been misleading the American public?
FAUCI: I have not been misleading the American public under any circumstances.
President Trump also retweeted a post that promoted a conspiracy theory that the use of hydroxychloroquine is being “suppressed” in America “to keep deaths high so the economy can be shut down ahead of the election.”
The Trump administration’s own Food and Drug Administration recently withdrew an order that allowed the drug’s use for COVID-19.
In a statement, the FDA said in “a large, randomized clinical trial” hydroxychloroquine “showed no benefit” for treating the illness.
Fauci says Marlins outbreak could endanger MLB season » The Miami Marlins have postponed all games through Sunday as more players test positive for COVID-19. WORLD’s Anna Johansen has that story.
AJ: Four more Marlins players tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday … for a total of 15.
The outbreak had already forced the postponement of several games. And it has renewed questions about MLB’s attempts to conduct a season outside of a bubble environment … like the safezone the NBA is trying to create in Orlando.
Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned that the outbreak “could put [the season] in danger.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred told the MLB Network … he still believes the league “can keep people safe and continue to play.”
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: measuring the stimulus bill benefit.
Plus, Janie B. Cheaney on America’s unraveling.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: It’s Wednesday the 29th of July, 2020.
Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
Before we get going, a quick note about our new Legal Docket series! Very exciting, it’s happening, and it will launch this week. But as sometimes happens, technical glitches mean it’s not yet showing up on all the podcast platforms. It will, eventually. So keep looking, and know we will present it on the World and Everything in It feed on Saturday, in case you miss it.
BASHAM: OK, excited to hear episode one!
First up: another round of COVID-19 stimulus.
The largest COVID-19 relief package passed in March — the CARES Act. It involved some of the partisan wrangling you might expect, but by and large, lawmakers agreed they needed to do something quickly. And it had to be big. This time around, that consensus is gone.
SCHUMER: If you lost your job, you can’t get to work. The administration has bungled this crisis. And now they want to take $1,600 dollars out of your pocket every single month. Blaming the victim.
REICHARD: Unemployment benefits are a major sticking point. Right now the federal government is paying unemployed Americans $600 per week on top of what they’re getting from state unemployment. Democrats want to extend the big extra benefit, as is, through the end of the year. They say people who lost their jobs need that money to survive.
BASHAM: Republicans say it is disincentivizing work. They want to cut the extra unemployment benefit to $200 dollars per week for 60 days, or until states can provide workers 70 percent of what they made before getting laid off. They say that will encourage people to go back to work and help jumpstart the economy.
REICHARD: But the Republican proposal does not cut back on stimulus payments sent to a majority of American families. Most people would get another $1,200 dollar check in the mail, whether they need it or not. Those payments were designed to offset costs related to the pandemic and bolster the retail sales number. But did they work?
Angela Rachidi is a research fellow studying poverty for the American Enterprise Institute. She analyzed the data and joins us now to talk about what those numbers tell us. Good morning, Angela! Thanks for joining us.
ANGELA RACHIDI, GUEST: Good morning, nice to be with you.
REICHARD: Let’s talk about how people used those $1,200 dollar payments, starting with households making more than $75,000 dollars a year. What did they do with their stimulus checks?
RACHIDI: We were able to look at census data. So this is survey data where people were asked exactly how they used those payments. And what we found is that households that did have income over $75,000 per year, about half of them used it to meet their daily expenses with the roughly other half using it to pay down debt or to add to their savings.
And we saw a very different pattern among those higher or middle and higher income families than what we saw among low income families—where the low income family, lower income families overwhelmingly used those payments to meet their daily expenses and spent very little of it to pay down debt and contribute to savings.
REICHARD: You’re talking about households making less than $75,000 dollars a year. Clearly the economic shutdown affected them differently.
RACHIDI: Yes, so we know from the data that the employment disruptions that were experienced by so many households after the start of the pandemic was though primarily experienced by lower income households. And so the employment disruption, so this is when people say that they had some loss of employment related income, we see rates of like 60 percent among the lowest income households, and roughly half of those that we think of as kind of middle income. And then as you go up the income scale that employment disruption is really reduced.
So we know that those employment disruptions were concentrated among lower income households. And then we know from the data about how they use those payments, which makes sense because they experienced so much employment income disruption, they overwhelmingly used those payments to meet their daily expenses.
So it’s kind of really two, two pronged is one, those low income households are in a worse position any way to afford or to have the resources they need to meet their daily expenses just by the nature of being lower income. But then it was kind of a double whammy, because they also then experienced employment disruptions at a much higher rate. So it’s not surprising that they used those economic stimulus or economic impact payments for expenses. But the data really show that that was very much true and clearly show that there was a need among those households for those payments.
REICHARD: Based on that data, how should Congress structure this next stimulus package?
RACHIDI: Sure, I mean, the big concern about those stimulus payments is that they are mistargeted, that they’re going to households who don’t really need them. And by don’t need them, it means they didn’t experience any income loss to employment disruption. They haven’t really had any other reductions in income coming into the household.
And so the question is, why should they receive government assistance if they have, if they were not experiencing any hardship? So then the question becomes, well, if we want to avoid that, how do we then target them appropriately?
And so what I’m hoping Congress is thinking about and we’ve seen a little bit of this already, is trying to target those payments to not only the households that are likely experiencing hardship right now, because they traditionally have been lower income, but also to the households that have disproportionately been affected by employment disruptions.
And so again, when we look at the data, we see that those really are the lower income households. And it’s borne out in the data by how they spent those original payments in they spent those payments to meet their daily expenses.
REICHARD: Republicans don’t want to extend the $600 dollar a week boost to unemployment benefits because they say it motivates people to stay out of the workforce. A disincentive to work. Do they have data to back that up?
RACHIDI: There, there’s quite a bit of literature on just unemployment insurance in general. And it does show that as the payments get higher, it does disincentivize work, which makes sense. I mean, any rational person, if you can make more not working, you’re gonna do that and you have no incentive to go, or I shouldn’t say no incentive, you have less incentive to go and find employment. So I think it makes sense to really think about what the appropriate level of unemployment insurance is.
I think that the stimulus payments or the economic impact payments can be a nice complement, though, to reducing unemployment insurance. And the reason I say that is if the if the lower income households are still experiencing unemployment, and they had been getting that $600 extra weekly check, and that now is reduced in order to try to encourage them to get back into the labor market, any hardship that they might experience from that reduction in unemployment insurance can be offset by an economic impact payment.
And so I think that really getting this right in terms of who should we target the economic impact payments to and how should we properly structure unemployment insurance—if they can get those two pieces right, it can avoid a lot of hardship among those lower income families.
REICHARD: Well, Angela, finally here, from a poverty-fighting perspective, what else could Congress do to help families struggling now?
RACHIDI: I think that really taking a look at the different safety net programs and how can they meet both the short term economic needs of families that are struggling because they’re not employed. But how can they match that to incentives to get them quickly back into the labor market. And ultimately, it does come down to public health issues. If we can get a control over this disease, get the economy back moving, those jobs will be available for people and they can get back to work.
REICHARD: Angela Rachidi researches poverty for the American Enterprise Institute. Thanks so much for joining us today!
RACHIDI: Thanks for having me.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: World Tour, with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Somalia prime minister removed—We start today here in Africa.
AUDIO [0:55] PARLIAMENT CHEERING, RAISING HANDS
Somalia’s parliament voted to remove the prime minister on Saturday. The delegates had gathered to work on the structure of the 2021 elections. But a parliamentary speaker said the prime minister had failed to pave the way for a fully democratic election. That led to a vote of no-confidence.
The prime minister’s allies called the vote unconstitutional and claimed “irregularities” in the process.
The dispute follows a power struggle between the prime minister and the president over the timing of the next election. Somalia is working toward a one-person, one-vote system. Right now, Somali clans select delegates who then vote for the president.
The former prime minister said the election must go ahead in February as scheduled. But the president has insisted it should only happen if it’s held on a one-person, one-vote basis.
Teen girl kills two Taliban militants—Next, we go to the Middle East.
AUDIO [0:05] QAMAR GUL SPEAKING
A 15-year-old girl killed two Taliban fighters in Afghanistan last week. Qamar Gul shot the militants when they stormed her home in a remote village.
Qamar’s father was head of the village council and a staunch government supporter, making him a target for the insurgents. A group of Taliban fighters broke down the door in the middle of the night and shot Qamar’s mother and father. Qamar grabbed her father’s rifle and killed two of the insurgents. One of them was her own husband, who had had a falling out with the family. Her 12-year-old brother injured a third attacker. Other villagers soon arrived and forced the Taliban to retreat.
Qamar and her brother have been moved to a safe location, and will soon leave for Kabul to meet President Ashraf Ghani.
Suspect confesses to setting French cathedral fire—Next, we go to Europe.
AUDIO [0:05] LAWYER SPEAKING FRENCH
French authorities arrested a man for setting a cathedral on fire last week. The suspect was a church volunteer tasked with locking up the 15th-century building. The blaze started in three different places, shattering stained-glass windows and destroying an iconic organ. Officials quickly identified the cause as arson. They questioned the cathedral volunteer, then released him…only to detain him again over the weekend. After further questioning, the man admitted to setting the fire. His motive remains unknown.
The arson charge carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $175,000 dollars.
Mountain rescue team saves St. Bernard—Finally, we end today in England.
AUDIO [0:13] “Good girl!” “Oh, good girl!”
Saint Bernard dogs are known for helping rescue stranded hikers in the mountains, but the tables were turned this weekend. A mountain rescue team spent nearly five hours saving Daisy, a 120-pound Saint Bernard.
Daisy collapsed Friday evening while descending England’s highest peak with her owners. The rescue team said the dog showed signs of pain in her legs and refused to move. They adjusted their human-sized stretcher to be more dog-friendly, then took turns carrying Daisy down the mountain.
That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: It’s not always easy to contest speeding tickets.
But one driver in Italy has a pretty compelling case. Let’s hope she prevails, because she got a speeding ticket that could cost her a thousand dollar fine.
The ticket arrived by mail. It alleged she drove 400 miles per hour over the speed limit.
Well, that’s not true. As it happens, the top speed on the speedometer on her 4-cylinder Ford Focus is 140. And most can’t reach that speed anyway.
She probably won’t need Perry Mason on the case to get that ticket tossed out.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Wednesday, July 29th.
You’re listening to The World and Everything in It. And we’re glad to have you along today! Good morning. I’m Megan Basham.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
Coming next: Unfurling a new flag. In June, Mississippi lawmakers voted to remove their state flag. This came after decades of debates regarding the image that sat in its left top corner—a Confederate battle emblem.
BASHAM: But what happens now … when the state no longer has a flag to fly? Senior correspondent Kim Henderson has the story.
KIM HENDERSON, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: The Complete Flag Source store sits on a frontage road that runs beside the main interstate in Jackson, Mississippi. It sells flags as big as 30 by 60 feet, and some as small as your hand.
SOUND: INSIDE THE STORE
They have historic flags, state flags, and some for every branch of the military. There’s an Israeli flag near the ceiling, and one for the Auburn Tigers hanging on a rack.
But one flag is noticeably absent.
MCINTYRE: It’s been very, very busy. The whole United States has sold out of Mississippi flags. So it’s not just Mississippi . . .
That’s store co-owner Brenda McIntyre. She says Mississippi’s most recent flag—the one that is no longer—is backordered with all her vendors. Collectors are making a rush on them.
SOUND: MINNEAPOLIS RIOTS
George Floyd’s death in Minnesota had a rippling effect in Mississippi. But instead of riots, heated discussions about the state flag rose to the surface…discussions that had been simmering for decades.
That became a concern for Shawn Parker, head of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board.
PARKER: I and other leaders in Mississippi Baptist life, began to ponder and pray about whether we should make a statement.
The view from Parker’s office includes a wide sweep of the state capitol building, the place where legislators vote on issues like the flag. One day he looked out on that scene during a Zoom call with several former presidents of the Mississippi Baptist Convention. They talked about what they saw happening in their state.
PARKER: Far too many times in these kinds of discussions, economics drive the decision, or in this case, athletics, uh, threatened to drive the decision . . . we really feel that, that there was a moral dimension to this, and we felt it was our responsibility as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ to provide the moral voice on the issue.
NEWSCASTER: Well, the state’s Baptist Convention is also taking a stand on the issue of the state flag…
Soon, Parker had a press conference where he read a statement approved by members of his executive committee. Mississippi Baptists went on record requesting the state adopt a new flag.
PARKER: [0:20] Currently, 38 percent of Mississippi is Black, and many of those Mississippians are hurt and shamed by the historical symbolism of the current flag. For those who follow Christ to stand by indifferently and allow this to exist is inconsistent with both these two teachings of Christ. This reality calls us as brothers and sisters in Christ to stand up and help our hurting neighbor.
Parker says they’ve received lots of support for the statement. And also some criticism.
PARKER: They feel like we shouldn’t be involved in politics. They are concerned that we are violating a vote of the people in 2001 . . .
The Baptists’ pronounced involvement in the public debate was out of the norm. But so was the legislative action that followed it. It took a two-thirds majority of Mississippi’s House and Senate to suspend bill-filing deadlines. That had to happen before the flag change effort could even get rolling. But it did happen, plus a vote and a governor’s signing ceremony. All within a span of four days.
SOUND: LEGISLATIVE VOTE AND APPLAUSE
And with that, the Confederate battle emblem was no longer part of any state flag in the nation.
But getting a new flag is a process. Top politicians took part in a ceremonial retiring of the Capitol’s flags to the Museum of Mississippi History. State employees have removed flags from public buildings. The Department of Archives and History is fielding calls about proper flag disposal.
Also, officials have invited the public to submit design proposals for the new flag. The deadline for submissions is Saturday, August 1st. More than 600 entries have already rolled in.
SOUND: DISCUSSING SIZE OF FLAG
Back at the flag store, employees are helping Linda Freeman put the finishing touches on the scan of her acrylic design for the contest.
FREEMAN: What my flag says is it’s a statement of peace . . . It’s the state flower—a magnolia—with a red ribbon and kind of a . . royal blue background, and it has a touch of gold in it. And I thought the gold was important because I was thinking we all need to remember the Golden Rule.
Pointing out the simplicity of her canvas, Freeman admits she’s an amateur artist.
FREEMAN: I called several people that are really good artists and mentioned it to them and didn’t think they were going to do it, and I thought, “I’ll just do it myself.” . . . We have the opportunity to participate and have a voice, and I thought it was important for people to participate.
Not too far from Freeman, customer Jeff Cook is completing his purchase. He’s a lifelong Mississippi resident. He’s excited about a new flag.
COOK: The more I studied the times of 1894 . . . and what that flag meant at that time . . . I realized that that is not something that needed to continue. . . It was just a study of history. The more I dug into it, the more I was just speechless. And that is not Mississippi. That is not us at all. It’s who we were back then, unfortunately, but it is not who we are now.
A nine-member commission will have the difficult task of choosing the final design for the November 3rd ballot.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kim Henderson in Jackson, Mississippi.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Wednesday, July 29th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. What happens when a country’s center doesn’t hold? Here’s WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney.
JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: When I was a kid we played a game called “Spin the Statue.” Whoever was “It” would take each player by both hands, spin her around and let her go, to freeze in position. Once everyone was frozen, It would survey the group and assign each person a part in a scene (“You be the car, you’re the driver, and . . . uh . . . you’re the road”). Then turn around and count slowly to 10 while everyone assembled themselves.
When It turned back the scene was in place, usually with one unfortunate person at the bottom of the heap.
Two months ago the whole world was in the middle of an economic freeze, with no one to tell us how the scene was supposed to reassemble itself. Most agreed some changes would be permanent. Some predicted explosions of excess when the lockdowns were lifted, but I don’t recall anyone predicting literal explosions.
Given the pressures of being cooped up for two months, any emotional trigger could set off a whole nation. George Floyd’s death became the trigger because it was so iconic. A black man crushed into the gravel with a white man’s knee on his neck—what better picture of the whole tragic history of race? The tinder was already there. All it needed was a spark.
When the center does not hold, things fall apart. The political center formed by Western values has been crumbling for decades. Our culture, post-Christian, is quickly becoming post-American. Will God save us?
The one time in history God claimed a nation as His own, it wasn’t for national pride. The story of Israel’s roots, told in Genesis 12-50, is not the typical heroic origin story.
Our own history is a mix of lofty ideals and shameful deeds, heroic sacrifice and hypocritical greed. The potential for nobility creates a corresponding potential for venality. Freedom to achieve means freedom to stumble—but also to self-correct over time.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights . . .” That’s our national conscience, a sound and Biblical principle—and sound because it’s Biblical.
The United States as conceived is worth striving for, yet we know for a fact that no nation lasts forever. Sooner or later the United States will disunite.
We can pray for later, even while remembering we are dual citizens. What remains is the Word of God. Truth is stumbling in the streets (see Isaiah 59:14). But it won’t disappear. If we (as a nation) will not have truth for our conscience, we will have it as our consequence, played out in literal and figurative street fights. But we (as a royal priesthood) will always have a place to call home.
I’m Janie B. Cheaney.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Tomorrow: We’ll visit heartland communities facing COVID-19 outbreaks.
A former NFL football star talks about the potential of the gospel in healing division in our country.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Megan Basham.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!
I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!