The World and Everything in It — August 6, 2020

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!

Violent crime has spiked this summer in big cities across the country. We’ll find out what’s behind that trend.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Also doctors increasingly rely on technology to meet with patients virtually. We’ll examine how telemedicine is changing healthcare.

Plus a behind-the-scenes look at WORLD’s latest venture.

And Cal Thomas on Joe Biden’s VP search.

BASHAM: It’s Thursday, August 6th. 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, Kent Covington has the news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Rescuers search for survivors, investigators hunt for clues in Beirut » Rescuers in Beirut were still digging through piles of twisted steel and concrete Wednesday, looking for more survivors of Tuesday’s massive explosions. 

AUDIO: [Sound from Beirut]

Meantime, investigators began searching through the wreckage of the port. They’re looking for clues to the cause of the blasts that killed well over 100 people and injured some 5,000 others. 

Buildings are damaged or destroyed for miles, and hospitals have been overwhelmed. 

Sami Nader leads a think tank called the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs. He’s based in Lebanon and said he’s never seen anything like it. 

NADER: I went through the civil war in Lebanon. I was witness to Hariri bombing, to other bombings that targeted politicians, but nothing on this scale I have seen in my life. 

Nader said “The whole city of Beirut was built economically and urbanistically around this port.” And he said when “you add this cataclysm to the Covid[-19] and financial crises” it will likely take more than a decade to recover. 

U.S. intelligence officials say there were no indications the explosions were the result of a terrorist attack.

Investigators are now focusing on 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate stored at a warehouse in Beirut for years. That’s a highly explosive chemical used in fertilizers. Officials want to know how that much of the volatile substance came to be stored there, and why nothing was done about it. 

Businesses slash hiring but stocks surge » U.S. businesses slashed hiring last month, suggesting the recent COVID-19 resurgence has slowed the economic recovery. WORLD’s Leigh Jones reports. 

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: Payroll processor ADP reported Wednesday that U.S. firms added just 167,000 jobs in July. That’s a stark contrast to June’s gain of 4.3 million and May’s increase of 3.3 million. 

ADP says July’s limited hiring means the economy still has 13 million fewer jobs than it did in February.

Hiring collapsed among companies of all sizes and in nearly all industries. A category that mostly includes restaurants, bars, and hotels added just 38,000 jobs last month, after gaining more than 3 million in May and June combined.

In spite of that report, stocks surged on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial rose 1.4 percent and the Nasdaq hit another record high closing almost 11,000. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones. 

Trump says he may act alone to suspend federal payroll tax » With negotiations over a new coronavirus relief bill moving very slowly, President Trump said Wednesday he might act alone. 

The White House has pushed for a payroll tax break in the next stimulus bill, something many Democrats have rejected. And Trump told Fox News…

TRUMP: Well I may do it myself. We’re negotiating right now. I have the right to suspend it, and I may do it myself. I have the absolute right to suspend the payroll. 

One of Trump’s economic advisers, Stephen Moore, wrote an op-ed this week in the Wall Street Journal. He said the president could order the Treasury Department to temporarily stop collecting the tax using the same provision of the tax code used to delay the due date for 2019 taxes earlier this year. 

The move would be a tax deferral, but Moore said the intention would be for “the next president, [Joe] Biden or Trump, [to] forgive the tax payment.”

But the president said he’s still hopeful the White House and GOP lawmakers can strike a deal with Democratic leaders on a new relief bill. 

Trump campaign sues Nevada over mail-in ballot law » And with the election less than three months away, the Trump campaign is suing the state of Nevada. The lawsuit seeks to halt a new measure Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak signed into law that sends mail-in ballots to all registered voters. President Trump said Wednesday: 

TRUMP: Absentee voting, great. But this mail-in voting where they mail indiscriminately millions and millions of ballots to people, you’re never going to know who won the election. You can’t have that. 

Republicans argue the law will allow for so-called ‘ballot harvesting’ since it expands who gets to collect and hand in ballots. They say volunteers working for political groups can easily hold back or turn in large quantities of votes to sway the election. 

Democrats charge that Republicans are trying to silence the voices of voters who don’t have safe access to polling stations during the pandemic. 

USDA investigating mysterious shipments of seeds » Americans in at least 22 states recently received mysterious packages of seeds in the mail sent from overseas. And the U.S. government is now investigating. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Department of Agriculture says the unsolicited packages many Americans received include a variety of seeds: Cabbage, lavender, mint, mustard, rose, sage, and others. 

The USDA is working with other agencies to investigate the packages. But it has no evidence that they’re an act of eco-terrorism or a health threat. 

The agency said the seeds were likely part of a “brushing scam” to generate fake reviews and boost online sales.

Still, authorities are warning people against opening the packages or planting the seeds. The USDA recommended recipients mail them to their state plant regulatory authorities or state plant health director.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

I’m Kent Covington. 

Straight ahead: what’s behind the violent crime plaguing America’s big cities.

Plus, Cal Thomas on a leading candidate to be Joe Biden’s running mate.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MEGAN BASHAM: It’s Thursday the 6th of August, 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. First up: a spike in violence in America’s cities.

On July 21st, 15 people were shot outside a funeral home in Chicago. The funeral was for a victim of another shooting the week before. 

The month of July was Chicago’s deadliest in almost 30 years. But the Windy City isn’t the only metropolis plagued by violence this summer.

BASHAM: Crime statistics from the nation’s 50 largest cities show homicides are up this year by almost 25 percent. The summer months tend to be more violent than the rest of the year, but this season has been unusually deadly. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports on what’s behind the trend.

DONOVAN PRICE: Two people shot here, early evening. I don’t know, the ambulances aren’t leaving, so that might not be a good sign.

ANNA JOHANSEN: Donovan Price calls himself a first responder, but he’s not the traditional kind. He’s a street pastor.

PRICE: Father, you know the situation. Your will, Heavenly Father please let these people be okay, to see another day…

When a person is shot in Chicago, Price is one of the first people on the scene. His goal is to minister to the victim’s family, friends, and community. Sometimes he posts realtime videos on his website as he prays out loud.

PRICE: God bless tonight, God please bless this city and let this city be at peace tonight.

This summer, there have been few nights of peace in Chicago or in any of the major cities across the United States. In Chicago, in the month of July, killings were up almost 140 percent compared to last year. In New York, it was almost 180 percent. Other cities like Philadelphia, Detroit, Omaha, and Phoenix all rose at double-digit rates. 

Lance Williams teaches urban community studies at Northeastern Illinois University. He says violence in Chicago is nothing new, but this summer has been different. He flags a couple of main contributing factors. 

WILLIAMS: There has been a difference in policing. There’s been this heavy criticism directed at law enforcement, right, for being a racist and being brutal right in the community. And it’s having an impact on how in particular the regular rank and file police officers feel.

Williams says police officers are too afraid or too angry to intervene, so sometimes they aren’t stopping crime. Even minor things. Data from the Chicago police department show that traffic stops in June dropped by 86 percent. Williams says he saw it firsthand on his block the same morning we talked: A couple of cars running red lights, going 70 in a 25. A police officer posted on the corner did nothing about it. 

WILLIAMS: And so now we see guys who are just, you know, they don’t fear being stopped by the police. They feel like they can do whatever they want to do. 

Dan Schober is a professor of public health at DePaul University. He also works with a Chicago gun violence research program and he says this trend isn’t new.

SCHOBER: We saw a similar trend in 2016 when there was a lot of discussion about police. It seems like when there’s big events that put a lot of scrutiny on the police and law enforcement, there tends to be a change in violence that happens.

More violence and less trust in the police. That makes it really hard for officers to do their jobs. Schober says that’s reflected in Chicago’s clearance rate—the number of cases the police are able to solve. 

SCHOBER: Arrest rates after a shooting is less than 50 percent. And I think a lot of that goes back to how well can the police address and work with a community who has a better sense of what goes on day to day?

It’s not just the protests shaking things up. Coronavirus lockdowns have destabilized a lot of social structures. Churches, schools, and community organizations have all been sidelined for months. Institutions that infuse communities with a sense of hope are just gone.

Lance Williams points to another factor that might be contributing to the spike in violence. In March and April, Chicago officials worried about COVID-19 spreading in overcrowded areas so they released over 1,000 inmates from the city’s largest jail. New York City used a similar tactic. 

Williams says releasing those prisoners wasn’t a bad thing in and of itself. They weren’t in jail for violent crimes. But he says officials should have handled the process differently.

WILLIAMS: You cannot just empty out the jails and dump the people back into the community with no resources, no support, no nothing.

Chris Butler is a pastor at Chicago Embassy Church. He says it’s important to look beyond the big picture to the individual. 

BUTLER: The brokenness, the soul, deep brokenness, that has to be in a person to be the perpetrator of this kind of violence. We also have to think as a human society, about how do folks, so many folks, get this way? And what can we do about those things?

Years ago, Butler started a type of street outreach he calls “positive loitering.”

BUTLER: We would go out very late on Fridays and just hang out shine lights, you know, flashlights and car light, candle lights, all that kind of stuff, we’ll be playing and just kind of hang to fill up spaces where negative things will usually happen with positive activity.

It was just one small thing. And Butler knows there will never be a magic cure for this kind of societal sickness. But he hopes Christians will realize they have part of the cure. 

BUTLER: Those of us who, who name the name of Christ and participate in the church, and in any level, you know, we are called to this.

Butler recommends asking two questions: What do I have the capacity to do? And what is God calling me to do? Then do those things.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.

NICK EICHER: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: Seeing a doctor without an actual office visit.

MEGAN BASHAM: Despite COVID-19, patients still have chronic and routine ailments to deal with. To avoid potentially catching the virus in doctors’ offices, many are trying out telemedicine. That’s where health professionals provide medical consultations by internet and phone.

EICHER: The nonprofit group FAIR Health says that use of telemedicine increased 8,000 percent between April 2019 to April 2020. But patients and doctors alike say the tool presents both benefits and challenges. WORLD senior correspondent Katie Gaultney reports.

KATIE GAULTNEY, REPORTER: Andrew Boyett is still paying for a fleeting mistake he made while studying abroad in France 15 years ago. Driven by all the hubris a 20-year-old could muster, he and some classmates decided to climb a moss-covered exterior wall at what remains of Richard the Lionheart’s castle. 

BOYETT: My goal in life was to climb higher than everybody else, which I did…

But after climbing 40 feet, Boyett remembered that what goes up must come down.

BOYETT: So I jumped and I didn’t think I was as far up as I was.

He still feels the pain of the resulting herniated disk, and it flared up again earlier this year. His doctor’s appointment arrived in April, just as the coronavirus hit the United States and medical practices canceled most in-office visits. Boyett’s doctor consulted with him through an online platform. Boyett didn’t even have to leave work. And he says that convenience will make him a repeat telehealth customer.

Telemedicine has been around for several years. But the pandemic has caused many patients to experience it for the first time. And like Boyett, many of them will likely continue utilizing it when they can. 

Andy Kahn is an ER physician turned telemedicine provider. He left hospital practice in December 2017 and transitioned to virtual visits full time. Some doctors have brick-and-mortar offices and offer the option for telehealth, but others, like Kahn, contract with online-only telehealth providers. Kahn says his work has an annual rhythm.

KAHN: You see kind of seasonal things. So in the summer there’s not as many patients, but you see more like swimmer’s ear and poison ivy from hiking and people wanting medicine before they go traveling somewhere with altitude or motion sickness… 

But once school starts, calls begin rolling in from teachers and students who picked up a bug in class. October through March, Kahn sees an increase in flu and respiratory-related calls. Then, in a typical March, things slow down a bit.

But if 2020 has proven anything, it’s that things just aren’t typical these days. Mid-March this year Kahn noticed a spike in the number of patients using telehealth services because their primary care doctors weren’t taking non-emergency cases.

KAHN: There were so many people calling in that, you know, there weren’t enough doctors on telemedicine, so people were waiting a long time and sometimes the system would crash. 

He said online platforms quickly got the bugs worked out after that initial influx of patients. As weeks went on and doctor’s offices began reopening, patients still wanted to avoid waiting room exposure, so telehealth patient volume has remained steadily high. Kahn has also noticed more providers joining telemedicine networks. 

Tara Cavazos is a doctor of nursing practice who runs a Dallas clinic. Before the pandemic hit, Cavazos’ practice was set up for telemedicine visits through its electronic health record system.

CAVAZOS: And we probably were doing, I mean, I would do one or two telehealth visits a week at most, if even that…

By mid-March, though, Cavazos and her partners took nearly all appointments virtually. Her office was authorized to do COVID-19 testing, so it was important to limit in-office exposure for healthy patients. With the huge shift from office visits to nearly all virtual visits, Cavazos and her partners faced some hurdles—mainly figuring out the financial side of the technology, plus dealing with less tech-savvy patients.

That may be the biggest obstacle to telehealth. On the one hand, Kahn says most patients can get online.

KAHN: Everyone has either internet connection with their phone or their laptop…

But that’s just the first step. Patients also need to create an account login for the online platform and make sure they’re using a computer with a camera or a smartphone or tablet. Cavazos says providing that tech support puts an additional strain on her office’s front desk staff. 

She was relieved when the federal government announced in late March it would waive privacy law restrictions against providers using less secure technologies for patient consultations.

CAVAZOS: And so our office, when that came out, we made the decision to use something more familiar with patients. Like older patients know how to FaceTime their grandkids. So they knew how to pick up the call. So we used our in-office iPads to do FaceTime or Google Hangout. 

Virtual consultations are convenient and often more affordable than an urgent-care visit. But Kahn and Cavazos say they don’t hesitate to tell an e-health patient when they should be seen in person by a provider. 

CAVAZOS: There are the few that we just need to get into the office to get blood work, or we need to listen to the heart and lungs or they’re complaining of ear pain and, you know, we need to look in the ear. 

Some providers worry the growth in telehealth will widen the chasm between underserved patients and quality care. Dallas doctor of nursing practice Katy Vogelaar says her low-income patients—many of them refugees—have language barriers that make telephone encounters difficult. That is, if the patient even has a phone: 

VOGELAAR: To do telemedicine, you have to have a way to communicate with someone first. So you have to have a reliable telephone. Some places require you to do a video chat. Well that requires you to have a smartphone. 

Cavazos says many doctors agree that telemedicine isn’t for every patient. Even providers get a little weary from it. 

CAVAZOS: We didn’t go into healthcare to be behind a computer. You know, we went into healthcare to, you know, part of a holistic approach is seeing, touching, talking to a patient. And when you are behind a screen, you lose some of that.

But like so many trends sped up by the pandemic, telemedicine is here to stay. And it’s poised to make lasting changes to healthcare, for patients and providers alike.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Katie Gaultney.

NICK EICHER: Jill Karofsky is a brand new justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. She had her swearing in during a marathon ceremony last weekend.

And by marathon, I don’t mean the ceremony was really long. I mean she was literally sworn in in the middle of a marathon! A 100-mile ultramarathon to be more precise! 

Karofsky took the oath of office during an outdoor ceremony in south-central Wisconsin around the 35-mile-marker.

KAROFSKY: And will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of said office—to the best of my ability—to the best of my ability—so help me God—so help me God. Thank you.

I’m impressed. Terrific breath control.

The 54-year-old justice then finished the race, which took her 34 hours to complete.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Thursday, August 6th. 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: a brand new way to get the news of the world.

On May 1st, WORLD Watch News in 3 made its debut on YouTube. It’s a video news program for students from grade school to high school.

EICHER: On Monday, we launch the full WORLD Watch program. WORLD senior correspondent Myrna Brown takes you behind the scenes of our latest venture—nearly 40 years in the making.

WORLD NEWS IN 3: This is what’s known as a splash down…  

MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: It’s early afternoon at the WORLD headquarters in Asheville, North Carolina. A team of young reporters and staff are working feverishly—putting the final touches on the next day’s WORLD Watch video news program. 

BING: So that will be his raw take into this.

BASHAM: Good Morning, It’s Tuesday, August 4th and you’re watching WORLD Watch News in 3.

WORLD Watch is the latest development in a 40-year dream.

In 1981 Joel Belz began the children’s publication God’s WORLD News—in honor of his father:

BELZ: He said speak the truth to a 12 year old and then you’ll be amazed at how many adults are listening in. 

And they were. Soon, parents were asking for a news publication from a Christian worldview of their own. And WORLD Magazine was born. 

CEO Kevin Martin sees the WORLD Watch News as a return to Belz’s founding vision:

MARTIN: The reason we serve kids, is because Joel served kids….It is full circle because he started with Kid’s Papers and expanded that into World Magazine and that became the podcast and the digital and now we’re going back to kids again with the videos.

The current pandemic provided a great opportunity to step in and help families and educators. The timing was right.

MARTIN: All these kids who couldn’t go to school were at home and so in April we started saying why don’t we just start producing a short version of this program and just see what we can do with it. 

70 shows later, the WORLD Watch team is finally settling into a production rhythm. 

MEETING: Why don’t we bow our heads for a minute. Heavenly Father, we thank you for this week that you’ve given us. 

It starts around a black table in a small conference room overlooking a huge green screen. 

MEETING: I have a feature I want to bounce off you guys.

WORLD Watch associate producer, Rich Bishop kicks off the morning editorial meetings, pitching stories he discovers from various sources. 

BISHOP: Evaluating whether or not the story will give us some good visuals to work with or whether it’s truly a headline story. And whether or not the kids really number one, should know about it and number two, want to know about it.  

After the team settles on content and flow, reporters get their story assignments.

AUDIO: Let’s have Sarah do NASA milestone story.  

If that voice sounds familiar, it should. Nick Eicher, co-host of The World And Everything in It, has also helped to launch WORLD Magazine and WORLD digital. For the past three months, he’s been working on WORLD Watch with program director and host, Brian “The Big Bash” Basham. 

EICHER: What else would you call him? He’s big and happy and lights up every room that he walks into and it’s like, It’s the Big Bash. He’s fun to work with, he’s got a lot of broadcast knowledge.  

Basham uses that experience to lead and mentor the team of six reporters; recent WORLD Journalism Institute graduates, Hannah Harris and Michelle Schlavin, along with a few voices you’ve heard before.  

EICHER: Kristen Flavin, Sarah Schwiensberg, Anna Johannen, they’re helping out as they can.

FARRAR: I’m Taylor. Nice to meet you. 

New to the team, Liberty University graduate, Taylor Farrar. And rounding out the crew, a television news veteran who spends his days making every frame count. 

BASHAM: Every time we get to the end of the show, he adds this little element to take us off.

Basham also has a signature closing. 

AUDIO: I’m the Big Bash and remember, whatever the news, the purpose of the Lord will stand.

 BASHAM: There’s a lot of bad stuff in there that you don’t want to dwell on. We just want to let kids know you’re going to hear a lot of bad stuff. You’re going to be living in a lot of stuff that’s not great. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter does it? Because his purpose is going to prevail.

When WORLD Watch News expands on August 10th, Joel Belz will be watching and celebrating

Earlier this week, he stopped by the studio to encourage the team.  

BELZ: I don’t know who chose this auspicious day. August 10th is a pretty big day. It’s my birthday. You guys work and we’ll see if it measures up. I can’t imagine anyone having a grander gift than to see all of this unfolding and with such a stellar group of people. So thank you, in the Lord’s name. 

After many years of dreaming, and months of planning, Nick Eicher reflects on Belz’s legacy. He does so by quoting from Deuteronomy 6:

EICHER: It’s like in Deuteronomy we’re harvesting in vineyards we didn’t plant. We’re living in homes that we didn’t build. We’ve got giants on whose shoulders we stand and Joel Belz is one of those people.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Myrna Brown in Asheville, North Carolina.

MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Thursday, August 6th. 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. Commentator Cal Thomas now on Joe Biden and the Veepstakes.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden appears to have painted himself into a corner with his promise to select a woman as his running mate. And based on his reported finalists, it seems sure to be an African American woman. 

This means people with good ideas need not apply, if they don’t fit the predetermined demographic criteria. 

Press reports indicate congresswoman Karen Bass, a Democrat from California, is a leading contender. She chairs the Congressional Black Caucus and, unlike Biden, presents well on TV with her appealing smile and soothing voice.

All candidates have baggage, and Bass has plenty of it—especially when it comes to Cuba. Bass had visited Cuba multiple times in the 1970s when she and Hollywood celebrities were praising the “literacy” and health care programs of the communist dictatorship.

In a “Fox News Sunday” interview, Chris Wallace reminded Bass of her statement on the 2016 death of dictator Fidel Castro. She said—quote—”the passing of the Comandante en Jefe is a great loss to the people of Cuba.”

Bass said that her perspective on Cuba “developed over time” and that she now understands the Castro government “was a brutal regime.” Bass said she spoke with colleagues from Florida—which has a large Cuban and anti-Castro population in Miami—and they raised concerns about her comments. She said she “would not do that again, for sure,” and professed not to be a socialist or a communist.

But that begs the question: Why did it take her so long to become “educated” about Cuba? Was it only in the last four years that she learned about the repressive nature of the Castro regime? Did she think communism was of a different brand when practiced in Havana than in Moscow or Beijing, where people are jailed or executed for speaking ill of, or resisting, the government?

On other issues, Bass seems consistently in line with the party’s Bernie Sanders wing. She was the lead author of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, a partisan bill that passed the House and went nowhere in the Senate. Among other things, the bill would have prohibited police officers from—quote—”intentionally pointing…a firearm at an individual.” 

What about the intentional pointing of a firearm by a criminal at a police officer? The bill has nothing to say about that. Criminals would love it.

Any real journalist should ask Bass about these subjects and more—before she’s anywhere near “one heartbeat away” from the presidency. 

I’m Cal Thomas.

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: the second part of our Culture Friday discussion on racial division and the church.

And, a little-known film that avoids the common pitfalls of the Christian movie genre.

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.

Proverbs tells us the lot is cast into the lap. But its every decision is from the Lord. 

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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