The World and Everything in It — October 7, 2020

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

President Trump gets COVID-19 and the campaign pivots in response.

NICK EICHER, HOST: We’ll talk about how and why on Washington Wednesday.

Also WORLD Tour.

Plus, another in our occasional series: What Do People Do All Day? Today, a biologist who cares for wolves.

And WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney on finding good in this world.

REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, October 7th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

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

REICHARD: Up next, Kent Covington has today’s news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: White House: Trump “energetic,” hard at work » President Trump says he feels great as he recovers from COVID-19. 

White House officials say they’re taking precautions to keep others safe around the president. And Communications Director Alyssa Farah said Trump is very much on the job. 

FARAH: He’s energetic. It’s taking senior staff around him to tell him let’s slow down the pace, but he is working. He is here at the White House. He’s making calls. He’s meeting with senior advisers. 

And one of the president’s senior advisors has also also contracted the virus. Stephen Miller tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. 

Meantime, the heads of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as well as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, are self-quarantining.

That after Adm. Charles W. Ray, the vice commandant of the Coast Guard, tested positive on Monday. 

Officials do not believe Ray contracted the virus in connection with the outbreak among White House staff.

But another person who attended a recent Rose Garden ceremony has also tested positive. Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California says his symptoms so far are mild and he expects to make a full recovery.

Trump halts COVID-19 relief talks until after election » President Trump on Tuesday called an abrupt end to talks with Democrats over a new COVID-19 relief bill until after the election.  

Trump tweeted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was “not negotiating in good faith.” 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday…

MCCONNELL: Well, I think his view was they were not going to produce a result and we needed to concentrate on what’s achievable. 

Trump said he’s asked McConnell to direct all his focus right now on confirming Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

WH Blocks FDA Coronavirus Vaccine Guidelines / CDC coronavirus guidance » The Food and Drug Administration laid out updated safety standards Tuesday for makers of COVID-19 vaccines after the White House reportedly blocked their formal release. WORLD’s Anna Johansen has more. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The FDA said vaccine makers should follow trial participants for at least two months to rule out safety issues before seeking emergency approval. That requirement would almost certainly mean no vaccine before the Nov. 3rd election.

The Associated Press reports that a “senior administration official” confirmed that the White House had blocked the FDA’s plan to formally publish the safety guidance. The White House reportedly argued there was “no clinical or medical reason” for it.

But the FDA tucked the information into a memo posted ahead of a meeting with an outside panel of advisers. And it makes clear the FDA will impose those safety standards for any vaccine seeking an expedited path to market.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen. 

CDC: Coronavirus can spread beyond 6 feet, but infections are rare » Meantime, the CDC said this week that the coronavirus can spread more than 6 feet through the air, especially in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. 

Dr. Ashish Jha is dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. 

JHA: It does remind us that when you’re indoors with somebody that’s infected and they’re not wearing a mask, it can be quite dangerous even if you’re more than 6 feet away. 

But the agency maintained that infection beyond that range is uncommon so the current social distancing guidelines still make sense.

Some experts disagree, insisting the virus spreads beyond 6 feet more easily than the CDC suggests. They say the public should wear masks even in prolonged outdoor gatherings when they’re more than 6 feet apart.

Hurricane Delta takes aim at Mexico, US Gulf Coast » Yet another hurricane is heading for the Gulf Coast. 

At the moment, Hurricane Delta appears to be taking aim at New Orleans. But the eye of the storm could strike as far west as the Texas state line or as far east as Pensacola, Florida.

Daniel Brown with the National Hurricane Center…

BROWN: We’re seeing an increasing risk of life-threatening storm surge, damaging winds and flooding rains over portions of the north-central Gulf Coast, southern U.S. as we get toward later in the week. 

It’s too early to see exactly when Delta will make landfall in the United States, but right now forecasters say most likely Friday or Saturday. 

But today, Delta is set to ravage the northeastern tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. It could slam Mexico as a Category 4 hurricane. From there, it’s expected to weaken somewhat as it spins north across Gulf waters. 

Netflix faces felony charges over controversial film » Streaming giant Netflix faces felony charges in the state of Texas for distributing a controversial film. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has that story. 

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: Some lawmakers, both in Texas and in Washington have described the film Cuties as “child pornography.”

A state lawmaker tweeted an image Tuesday of the grand jury filing in a Tyler County court. It said Cuties “appeals to the prurient interest in sex, and has no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

Netflix angered its fans and lost subscribers when it released the film in September. It depicts young girls dancing in a sexually suggestive way. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones. 

Rock ‘n’ roll icon Eddie Van Halen dies » Rock ‘n’ roll icon and guitar virtuoso Eddie Van Halen has died. 

Van Halen is among the top 20 best-selling artists of all time. The band burst onto the charts in the late ’70s and went on to produce smash hits like “Jump” and “Panama.” 


Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. 

A person close to his family confirmed the rocker died Tuesday due to cancer. He was 65.

Singer-songwriter Johnny Nash dies » Also on Tuesday, singer-songwriter Johnny Nash died at the age of 80. 

Nash, who was also an actor and producer, was best known for his chart-topping anthem in 1972 “I Can See Clearly Now.”

MUSIC: [I can See Clearly]

Nash died of natural causes at home in Houston.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: COVID and the presidential campaign.

Plus, Janie B. Cheaney on the source of true goodness.

This is The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: It’s Wednesday the 7th of October, 2020. Thanks for joining us for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up: an October surprise! 

Just as the presidential campaign was headed into the home stretch, President Trump contracted COVID-19. The virus had taken something of a backseat on the campaign trail after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The fight to fill her seat dominated campaign messaging—that is, until Friday. Now, the pandemic—and the Trump administration’s response to it—is once again the main topic of discussion.

EICHER: The president returned to the White House on Monday after spending three days in the hospital. And he reiterated his long-held view:

TRUMP: And I learned so much about coronavirus. And one thing’s for certain. Don’t let it dominate you. Don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to beat it. We have the best medical equipment. We have the best medicines. All developed recently. And you’re going to beat it.

During a townhall event broadcast Monday on NBC, Democrat challenger Joe Biden questioned the president’s approach.

BIDEN: I would hope that the president, having gone through what he went through and I’m glad he seems to be coming along pretty well, would communicate the right lesson to the American people. Masks matter. I hope no one walks away with a message thinking that it is not a problem. It’s a serious problem.

REICHARD: Joining us now to talk about the effect this may have on the campaign is Sean Evans. He’s a political science professor at Union University, a Christian college in Jackson, Tennessee.

Good morning, professor!

SEAN EVANS, GUEST: Good morning and thank you for having me.

REICHARD: We still don’t know details about President Trump’s condition, or the timeline for his recovery. But it’s accurate to say he won’t be returning to the campaign trail in the next week or so. How will this affect his bid for re-election?

EVANS: I don’t really think it’s going to affect it that much because most people have made up their mind about President Trump and nothing is going to change that. I think it can have an impact on the margins because Trump is being outspent by almost 2-to-1 in most of the swing states, and Trump was counting on the free media coverage of his rallies. And they have also organized most of their get out the vote activities around the rallies also. So, that could make a difference in the turnout in those key states.

REICHARD: Some people say the recent COVID outbreak among Republicans in government is proof the administration bungled its response to the pandemic. Of course, some of that is political haymaking. Yet 72 percent of people surveyed in a new ABC News/Ipsos poll said they believed the president “has not taken the risk of contracting the coronavirus seriously enough” and did not take “the appropriate precautions when it came to his personal health.”

Has that changed the narrative about the coronavirus and is it likely to have any effect on the way people vote?

EVANS: I believe that the only issue that Trump is favored over Biden on is handling the economy. So, anything that detracts from that focus for the Trump administration is bad news for him. And so the more the media covers COVID, the more that indicates that the public needs to judge the president based on his policies toward COVID. I think you might see that Trump will try to use his illness and his so-called quick recovery to suggest that COVID is not a threat and we need to continue to open up our country. But he might actually be better served by responding as a recent convert in saying we need to make these changes. I think people might be more willing to forgive some of his past things based on his personal experience.

REICHARD: What about the down-ballot races, particularly in the Senate. What effect do you think this might have on those contests?

EVANS: I think we have seen that as the country has become more polarized, there has been more straight ticket or party line voting. And so Trump’s low approval is a drag on Senate and House candidates. Now, it’s not really a surprise that he is a drag in Democratic leaning states like Colorado and Maine. But Trump’s behavior has also alienated many Republicans, which has ended up threatening Republican senators in Republican leaning states like Arizona, Iowa, Georgia, and North Carolina.

REICHARD: We don’t know for sure whether the president and Joe Biden will debate one another again between now and Election Day. If they don’t meet again, or have to postpone the next debate until very close to the election, who benefits most?

EVANS: I think canceling the debates benefits Biden the most because since he in the lead, he has the most to lose. And so if he’s in a debate and makes a gaffe, that could potentially change the course of the election. The other thing to keep in mind is that if it is moved later in the cycle, closer to Election Day, that can magnify the importance of any gaffe or mistake made by any other candidate because there’s less time for the candidate to recover.

REICHARD: Given that uncertainty, do you think tonight’s debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris becomes more significant?

EVANS: I think that the illness that Trump is suffering from and the fact that both candidates are in their 70s is a reminder that the vice presidential choice is a very important one—one that I think we sometimes overlook. But it’s also important for another reason and that’s talking about 2024 or 2028.

The debate is important for Mike Pence in two ways. First, he is auditioning to be a potential replacement for Donald Trump if something happens to him between now and the election. Two, he wants to be able to show that he can go toe-to-toe with Senator Harris who would be a strong contender to be the next Demoratic nominee after a Biden administration.

REICHARD: The vice president and Senator Harris have very different personal styles. What are you looking for in tonight’s matchup?

EVANS: Well, I think there’s several things we can expect. First, I think the tone is going to be much more civil than what we saw in the first debate. Second, you are going to see that Senator Harris is going to by and large avoid Pence and try to talk as much as possible about Trump because the Biden-Harris campaign want this to be a referendum on Trump. By the same token, the Trump campaign wants to make this a choice election. And so Mike Pence is going to point out how Senator Harris is much more liberal than Vice President Biden and he is going to suggest that the choice of Harris is to assuage the liberal base in the party and that the liberals are going to push Joe Biden further and further to the left in his administration. And, therefore, you need to choose Donald Trump and Mike Pence because they are not going to go to that ideological extreme.

REICHARD: Sean Evans is a political science professor at Union University, a Christian college in Tennessee. Thanks so much for joining us today!

EVANS: It’s my pleasure.

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

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Women accuse Ebola aid workers of abuse—We start today here in Africa.

More than 50 women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have accused international aid workers of sexual abuse. The women reported multiple incidents of abuse that happened during the 2018 Ebola crisis.

SURVIVOR: He told me to come to his hotel and I felt a little afraid. We had heard strange things about these foreigners.

The men worked for organizations like the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders. Five women said their abusers worked for the Christian non-profit World Vision.

The women said multiple men had coerced them into intimate acts in exchange for a job, or fired them when they refused. Some reported the abuse happened as recently as March. The World Health Organization promised a full investigation and serious consequences for abusers.

AUDIO: The allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers…are deeply horrific and heartbreaking.

World Vision also launched an investigation into the allegations.

Malaysia and Indonesia palm oil human rights abuses—Next, we go to Asia.

Plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia are facing accusations of human rights abuses. That’s according to a recent report by U.S. investigators. The report found that Malaysian palm-oil plantations use forced child labor, abuse their workers, and house them in inhumane living conditions.

AUDIO: The industry has been built on a backbone of modern slavery. And it’s been built on the backbone of these companies being able to violate human rights norms left, right, and center with no consequence.

As a result, U.S. customs officials said they will block all palm-oil products from one of Malaysia’s largest producers.

U.S. manufacturers use palm-oil in more than half of all packaged consumable products, everything from cosmetics to animal feed. Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s two largest producers.

Washington threatens to close embassy in Iraq—Next, to the Middle East.


The United States has threatened to close its embassy in Iraq, following a string of attacks on American troops. In recent weeks, militias and rogue groups have targeted Baghdad’s Green Zone. That’s where the Iraqi government and several embassies are based. A rocket attack killed six women and children last week. The next day, a roadside bomb targeted a U.S.-led convoy south of the capital.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that the Trump administration may close the embassy if Iraq doesn’t take steps to halt the attacks.

Last week, Iraq’s foreign minister said if the United States shuts down its embassy, other nations might follow. He also said the move might encourage extremist groups to increase attacks.

Floods in France and Italy—And finally, we end today in Europe.


A massive storm hit the border regions between France and Italy over the weekend. It brought record rainfall and heavy floods that swept away roads. Two people died and nine are missing. One hundred homes were damaged or destroyed.

Officials reported 24 inches of rain in 24 hours. That’s more than the region usually gets in three months. The water level in one Italian river jumped 9 feet the same day, blocking access to several mountain villages.

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

NICK EICHER: Here’s something you may have noticed:

Political signs tend to stir up emotions.

So much so that concerned citizens got in touch with authorities in Easton, Maryland after noticing pro-Trump lawn signs with some kind of device duct-taped on them.

Whoever put them up attached audible alarms set to go off if someone tried uprooting the signs.

But the sight of these signs set off a different sort of alarm. And if you look at the pictures online, you could be forgiven for thinking the worst.

Local authorities sure did. They sent out the bomb squad, which spent two days investigating before concluding they weren’t explosive.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, October 7th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Our occasional series, What Do People Do All Day.

In the 1970s, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act. Among the species the law protected were wolves. They’d nearly disappeared from the United States by that time. 

Half a century later, the wolves are back. They’ve rebounded across the country.

EICHER: WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg spent a day with a wolf biologist in Wyoming to find out how they count them and study them.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG: Field days are some of Ken Mills’s favorites. 

He’s headed out of the office and into the Wind River Mountains: more than 2 million square miles of wilderness. 

MILLS: A huge component of my job is fieldwork. Tracking wolves. Looking for new packs. Working on catching wolves for radio collars, those sorts of activities.

Today’s wolf tracking site is an hour up into the mountains. On the way, Mills explains that at one time, humans had completely killed wolves off here. 

MILLS: In Wyoming, specifically wolves were extirpated by the 1930s. And so no more wolves in Wyoming at that point. 

Humans often saw wolves as a dangerous threat to livestock or game, like elk and bison. Now, due to government introduction and protection, there are about 300 wolves in the state. 

Mills pulls his truck up to the trail head. Then he unloads his two all-terrain vehicles. 

MILLS: You wanna get a horse out first? 

There’s one for me and one for him. 

MILLS: I use a horse from April to November, usually sometimes into early December. 


It’s the last day of August, but it’s cold. Mills pulls on leather chaps, a green wool sweater and suede cowboy hat. He loads his saddle bags with cold pizza and some survival gear. 

MILLS: I carry bear spray. I have a lighter in my saddlebags in case we need to light a fire and I have a spot unit that I can contact out if I need something.

Today, Mills is on a mission to gather a wildlife camera that will help him count how many wolves are living in these mountains.  

MILLS: Part of my job is really making sure that we have a rigorous and accurate count of wolves in Wyoming so that we can demonstrate that we’re managing the population responsibly. 

Mills’ interest in wolves and wildlife started as a boy. In college, he studied wildlife biology, and one of his professors sent him on a mission to track a wolf pack in Northern Michigan. That’s when Ken Mills officially fell in love. 

MILLS: It was September 22, 2000. By God’s providence, I would say found wolf tracks and they were adult and pup tracks there. 

An hour later and a thousand feet higher, Mills stops his horse at a scenic and windy overlook. 

Suddenly, a pair of shovel shaped antlers shoot out of a grove of pine trees. A bull moose.

MILLS: He’s in a hurry.  

It runs full speed down into the valley, never looking back. 

Mills wonders if it’s running from something. Maybe wolves. 

This is the Lava Mountain Wolf Pack’s territory. They’re 10 strong and have held onto this territory for several years now. 

MILLS: They maintain territories through a kind of constant maintenance of boundaries by scent marking. They howl. So howling is a form of territoriality communication, to communicate within packs, but also to show other surrounding packs, we exist. We’re here. 

Ken Mills says debates over the number of wolves in Wyoming continue. Some wildlife conservationists think there should be more. Some ranchers and hunters think there should be less. 

Mills says it’s important to unify the health of wolves with human interests. The wolf data he gathers helps by keeping wolf populations in a healthy range.

MILLS: The needs of people can be met. But also wolves have a legitimate place that that they can inhabit and and operate in.

Mills weaves his horse through the trees and into a meadow covered in willow bushes. Along the tree line, there’s a lightly trampled, narrow path. This is a wolf highway. 

MILLS: This will be the trail they will continue to use when they rendezvous in this area…

Back in June, Mills strapped a wildlife camera to a tree along this path. It’s captured more than 200 wolf videos. 

MILLS: It’ll do night shots and day shots. [Sound of clicking through]

In one video, a black wolf romps through with a pup. In another, several pups playfully pounce and roll along the path. 

These pups are what Ken Mills was hoping to see.

MILLS: We have a commitment in our management plan to manage for a certain number of breeding pairs, which is a pack that raises at least two pups of the year to the end of December. So that’s the most intensive part of our monitoring is: did they den, did they have pups, did the pups survive till December? 

He puts the camera in his saddle bag. He’ll comb through these videos tomorrow. 


Mills encourages our horses to cross a cold, clear stream. The weather is turning and snow flurries start to fly. Up here, winter is never far off. 

He dismounts and pulls out a radio receiver and a large antenna. He’s put radio collars on three wolves in the pack. If they’re in the area, the radio will pick up their unique signal. 

MILLS: We’re looking to pick up that frequency and figure out what direction it is. 


Today. There’s just fuzz and more fuzz meaning they are either too far away or on the other side of a mountain blocking the radio’s signal. 

As we start our ride back, Mills stops at a flattened circle in the grass. There’s scattered bones from an elk or a deer and porcupine quills. 

MILLS: This is a place that the wolves have used as a rendezvous site. 

Even after two decades of studying wolves, seeing evidence of where they’ve been still puts Mills in awe. 

MILLS: It gets routine, but it never gets old. 

And while we didn’t see any wolves today, Mills says just spending time in their habitat helps him understand how and where they’re moving and hunting.

MILLS: Every day you’re in the field, you, you see things, you learn things. 

Unifying the interests of wolves and humans will continue to be a challenge. But Mills hopes his work will help people understand why God pronounced everything he created good—including wolves. 

MILLS: We’re looking at something that God’s said, You know what? I could make a boring Earth, but I’m gonna do more than that. And he decided to create something that, that just blows our socks off.

For WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsber reporting in Pinedale, Wyoming.

MARY REICHARD: Today is Wednesday, October 7th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Here’s WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney on human limitations.

JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: In the early days of the pandemic, actor John Krasinski produced a homemade video series called “Some Good News.”  From his living room, he virtually walked the nation through springtime rituals like prom, graduation, and weddings. Celebrity friends contributed their talents and viewers contributed short videos, artwork, and inspiring messages. Krasinski always concluded with, “and remember, no matter how hard things get, there’s always good in the world.”

Of course there is. The world was created good by a good God, and we hear echoes of that goodness in cheerful birdsong and soft evening breezes. But what about our species? Pessimism about human nature is not limited to the Psalmist’s declaration that there is none righteous. Christians and Jews, environmentalists, activists, and cynical politicians have always held a pretty robust view of human failing.

A recent book called Humankind: a Hopeful History tries to correct our bad rap by pointing to positive examples. Like, did you know that an actual Lord of the Flies situation occurred on a remote island of the South Pacific? In 1965, schoolboys from Tonga decided to play big-time hooky, “borrowed” a boat, got lost in a storm, and shipwrecked on a piece of rock, to be stranded for 16 months. Instead of turning on each other like the characters of William Goldman’s novel, they cultivated a garden, collected rainwater, organized daily routines (including prayers), and settled disputes peaceably. Cooperative behavior, according to the author of Humankind, is the norm, not the exception.

So what accounts for wars and oppression? The theory posed by the book is that quote-unquote “civilization” and land ownership interfere with our cooperative instincts. Evolutionary psychologists call it a mismatch: humans settled down before their DNA was ready for towns and farms, and have suffered a kind of schizophrenia ever since.

Interesting, but simplistic. If goodness is a matter of simple decency, most of us understand appropriate behavior and act accordingly. We want others to think well of us and we want to think well of ourselves.

But even decency isn’t absolute. Screaming obscenities in the face of a police officer may seem like fitting behavior to protesters who see cops as an obstacle to justice. Who’s to say they’re wrong? Certainly not the company they keep.

That’s why Jesus says that no one is good but God alone. Without a standard, even “common decency” lacks a common definition. So does “evil.” Cancel culture is about locating and condemning evil outside oneself. But corruption begins inside, with self-centeredness, rationalization, and petty resentment. It’s a deeply personal and individual matter that only the Holy Spirit can reveal.

Optimists and pessimists both get it wrong. There’s good in the world and God’s image-bearers are capable of virtuous deeds. Real goodness, however, is for God to define, and God to judge.      

I’m Janie B. Cheaney.

NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Another in-depth analysis of the data behind COVID-19. This time we’ll be talking about the death toll from the disease.

And, Marvin Olasky talks to two influential Christians who have very different views on the presidential choice.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: 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.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

I hope you’ll have a great rest of the day. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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