The World and Everything in It — January 20, 2021

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

It’s day one of the Biden administration. We’ll hear what to expect over the next 100 days.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.

Also, World Tour. 

Plus, remembering pro-life pioneer Joe Scheidler.

And commentator Kim Henderson on perspective gained from a visit to the cemetery.

REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, January 20th. 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: Time now for the news. Here’s Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Biden set to take oath of office at noon today » At noon Eastern today, Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath of office, swearing in Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the 46th president of the United States.

On Tuesday, Biden spoke to reporters as he boarded a plane in Delaware en route to Joint Base Andrews. 

BIDEN: I’m truly honored to be your next president and commander in chief, and I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware. 

At 11 a.m. this morning, President-elect Biden will arrive at the U.S. Capitol. 

The inauguration program will begin a short time later with the invocation and Pledge of Allegiance. Singer Lady Gaga will perform the national anthem. 

After the ceremony, President Biden will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He’s expected to arrive at the White House with a military escort around 3:30 this afternoon. 

Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton will attend today’s ceremony. 

Vice President Mike Pence will stand in for President Trump who will not attend.

White House posts Trump farewell address » President Trump did wish Biden well in a video message on Tuesday, while not mentioning him by name. 

TRUMP: This week we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous. We extend our best wishes. 

In his recorded farewell address, Trump reiterated that political violence has no place in our country and he touted the accomplishments of the last four years. 

TRUMP: I stand before you truly proud of what we have achieved together. We did what we came here to do and so much more. 

Among the accomplishments he highlighted were tax cuts, a booming pre-pandemic economy, the creation of the Space Force, eliminating terrorist leaders, and the rapid development of coronavirus vaccines. 

The president also condemned censorship and said “Shutting down free and open debate violates our core values and most enduring traditions.”

Biden nominees testify in confirmation hearings » Senators grilled several of Biden’s top nominees during confirmation hearings on Tuesday. 

Tony Blinken is the nominee for secretary of State. He told lawmakers that he’s prepared to engage a rapidly changing world. 

BLINKEN: A world of rising nationalism, receding democracy, growing rivalry from China and Russia and other authoritarian states, mounting threats to a stable and open international system, and a technological revolution. 

Retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin would be the next Secretary of Defense. 

But as a recently retired general, he will need a waiver from Congress to fill what is designed to be a civilian role. He worked to reassure lawmakers on Tuesday. 

AUSTIN: If confirmed, I will carry out the mission of the Department of Defense always with the goal to deter war and ensure our nation’s security. And I will uphold the principle of civilian control of the military as intended. 

Nominee for Treasury Secretary, former Fed Chair Janet Yellen, said she’s on board with Biden’s proposals to spend big on the U.S economy and other priorities.

YELLEN: Right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is to act big. In the long run I believe the benefits will far outweigh the costs. 

A Senate impeachment trial of President Trump could complicate efforts to quickly confirm some of Biden’s nominees.

Pompeo says China’s policies on Muslims amount to ‘genocide’ » In his final hours at the State Department, outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared China guilty of crimes against humanity. 

POMPEO: We now have conducted an exhaustive review of the facts and made the determination that in fact, the Chinese Communist Party has committed these crimes against humanity and is continuing to try and deny these people, not just the Uyghurs Muslims but other faiths as well, the simply capacity to continue to exist.  

Pompeo said those crimes include forced labor, forced sterilizations, and forced abortions. 

He added that officials under control of the Chinese Communisty Party have committed genocide against minority groups in the Xinjiang region. Pompeo said “I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs.”

The Trump administration has taken a range of actions against senior Chinese Communist Party leaders and state-run enterprises over abuses in Xinjiang.

The rarely used “genocide” designation is sure to provoke an angry response from Beijing.

Biden and members of his national security team have expressed support for such a designation in the past.

Panel: China, WHO should have acted quicker to stop pandemic » Meantime, a panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization is criticizing China for not moving to curb the outbreak of the coronavirus sooner. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The independent panel reviewing the virus response said it found “lost opportunities” in the early stages of the outbreak.

Their report stated that the Chinese government could have applied public health measures “more forcefully” last January.  

CHUNYING: [Speaking Mandarin]

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying pushed back. 

She said “As the first country to sound the global alarm against the epidemic, China made immediate and decisive decisions.”

Two former heads of state led the panel investigation: former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The experts also questioned why the WHO did not declare a global public health emergency sooner. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: anticipating Biden’s first executive orders.

Plus, Kim Henderson on lessons from gravestones.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Wednesday, the 20th day of January, 2021. 

You’re listening to World Radio and we’re so glad that you’ve joined us today. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. First up on The World and Everything in It, the first 100 days.

Depending on what hour of the day you’re hearing this, President-elect Joe Biden may already be President Joe Biden. And he has pledged to waste no time getting to work on his agenda. 

Incoming White House Communications Director Kate Beddingfield told reporters this week…

BEDDINGFIELD: President Biden is going to come into office and take decisive steps to roll back some of the most egregious moves of the Trump administration, and he’s going to take steps to move us forward.

REICHARD: He will sign a series of executive orders immediately, addressing a range of issues. So what should we expect in the opening days of the Biden administration? 

Here to answer that question is Henry Olsen. He’s a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a columnist for the Washington Post.

Henry, good morning!

HENRY OLSEN, GUEST: Good morning. 

REICHARD: Let’s start with the pandemic. Some have asked if Biden will issue a nationwide mask mandate. Does he have authority to do that? What’s left for the states? 

OLSEN: Yeah, I do not believe he will do that, in part because he realizes he doesn’t have the authority and with the 6-3 Republican majority on the Supreme Court, he would be unlikely to win court endorsement for trying to establish the authority. He has said he will do a mask wearing mandate on federal property, which clearly would be within his purview. But other than that, I think he’ll try and rely on the bully pulpit and not press an unfriendly court to constrict rather than expand his presidential powers.  

REICHARD: He has also talked about speeding up vaccine distribution. What should we expect there? 

OLSEN: Well, it’ll be interesting to see how much of this is reality and how much of it is rhetoric. There’s apparently not a whole lot of vaccine left in the stockpiles, that basically there is a problem in different states with getting vaccine from state storage into people’s arms, but there’s not apparently a whole lot of problem of getting it out to the states. So I can imagine that there will be a lot of rhetoric and Biden trying to work with governors to speed up their own systems, maybe putting some federal resources behind the ability to jab people with the vaccine or maybe federal personnel to help do that. But, again, I think this is going to be more messaging than substance because there’s only so much vaccine that the manufacturers can turn out and it seems to be getting to the states pretty quickly. 

REICHARD: Moving on now to climate and environmental policies. President Biden plans to rejoin the Paris climate change accord and do so immediately. What will that mean in practical terms? 

OLSEN: Well, it depends, again. The Climate Accord itself does not have enforceable provisions. It’s more of a wishlist of goals. If the president is serious about implementing legislation to move us towards those goals, the only way to do this in the short term is to discourage the use of fossil fuels, either by driving up their price or subsidizing their alternatives or limiting their use. That’s pretty much the only way in the five or 10 year period that you can seriously deal with that and that will have impacts on virtually everybody because fossil fuels are the lifeblood of the American economy, whether it’s their production, their extraction, or their use. So, if he’s serious about this, expect to see higher prices and more subsidies going to non-fossil fuel energy sources, which will increase government spending and/or the debt. 

REICHARD: And he will reportedly also pull the plug on the Keystone pipeline. What does that signal about his energy policies going forward? 

OLSEN: Well, it signals that his energy policies will be following in line with his climate policies, that the discouragement of fossil fuels is going to be a — he has said that in the debates and he cannot meet climate goals without discouraging fossil fuels. That means that he’s probably going to limit exploration on federal lands for alternative fossil fuel. It means he’s probably going to be looking at using federal power to limit or regulate fracking, and it means across the whole panoply of policies, you’re going to see an attempt to make fossil fuels cost more and be less convenient for manufacturers, for individuals, and for anybody else who is using them. So, I think this is just the tip of the spear when it comes to the Democratic Party policy with respect to our energy lifeblood. 

REICHARD: What executive actions should we expect from President Biden on immigration and border security? 

OLSEN: Well, I think the different — there will be a difference between executive action and legislation. Executive action he can control INS and border security. I expect that he will issue a symbolic order to stop separating parents from children. I expect that he will have less severe INS sweeps to identify and deport people who are in the country illegally. More important is he has signaled he will submit legislation on day one or close to it that will pretty much implement the Democratic priorities with respect to immigration, which is a path to citizenship, no e-verify, that will ensure that people will be legally in the country to be able to work, and that is not something that will go down well with Republicans and, I suspect, with a good number of moderates as well. 

REICHARD: Of everything that the president is planning to do in his opening days in office, what do you think will affect people the most, for good or for ill? 

OLSEN: Well, whether for good or for ill partly depends on what you think of the country. For conservatives, I think most of the Biden initiatives will be viewed as being things for ill. I think the main results will be seen, though, in legislation, which is to say that there’s only so much he can do with executive orders. That it’s still the case that to seriously change the country you need the consent of Congress. And we will see whether or not the legislative ideas that he has talked about, which are not things that Republicans could get behind, are opening shots towards a serious deal, which is to say I can imagine a Republican deal on immigration if it included mandatory e-verify because that would give them something that would be serious. Or whether or not it’s the opening shot for the attempt to ram through a partisan agenda through a 50-50 Senate. Time will tell, but if it’s the latter then I think we’ll be seeing an intensification of the divisions in our country. And, if they’re successful, a significant move leftward.

REICHARD: Henry Olsen is senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Henry, thanks so much!

OLSEN: Thank you.

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

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Yoweri Museveni wins reelection—We start today here in Africa.

AUDIO: [Music, sounds of celebration]

Supporters of incumbent president Yoweri Museveni celebrated over the weekend as Uganda’s electoral commission declared him the winner of last week’s election.

Museveni won 59 percent of the vote to extend his 35-year grip on power for another four years. But the main opposition party, NUP, disputes the election results.

AUDIO: We have evidence of ballot stuffing and other forms of election malpractice. And after putting together, we are going to take all measures, I repeat all measures, that the law permits to challenging this fraud.

Opposition leader Bobi Wine came in second in last week’s vote. Since Thursday, soldiers and police have surrounded his home, preventing anyone from going in or out. During the campaign, government forces cracked down on the opposition, breaking up rallies and arresting Wine’s supporters.

Bird flu devastates farms in Iraq—Next we go to the Middle East.

AUDIO: [Sounds of chickens clucking]

An outbreak of bird flu north of Baghdad has killed thousands of chickens and left officials racing to contain its spread. The local governor estimated at least 60-thousand chickens caught the sickness within the first few days. But chicken farmers estimate nearly 200,000 birds have died so far.

AUDIO: [Man speaking Arabic]

The country does not have any vaccine available, so farmers are left to wait for their chickens to die.

One in five Iraqis work in agriculture, which represents 5 percent of the country’s GDP.

Guatemala holds up migrant caravan—Next we go to Central America.

AUDIO: [Police chanting, hitting batons on shields]

Police and soldiers in Guatemala broke up a caravan of migrants on Monday, using tear gas to disperse the crowd. Officials estimate about 2,000 migrants are traveling together through the country in hopes of reaching the United States. Police stopped them with a roadblock on a rural highway, where they camped for two days.

AUDIO: [Woman speaking Spanish]

The migrants are mostly from Honduras. This man says they left because they don’t have work or food. Two major hurricanes battered the country in November, compounding the misery of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hondurans already face grinding poverty and rampant gang violence.

Miners trapped in Chinese mine—Next, to Asia.

AUDIO: [Sounds of rescuers talking as note is pulled up]

Rescue crews in China are racing to save 12 miners trapped underground for more than a week in a collapsed gold mine. The men attached a note to the end of a wire fed into the mine on Sunday, providing the first confirmation that they are alive.

The explosion at the mine on January 10th trapped 22 men. Ten are still unaccounted for.

Paraplegic climbs skyscraper in Hong Kong—And finally, we end today in Hong Kong.

Lai Chi-wai was one of the world’s top mountain climbers before a car accident in 2011 left him confined to a wheelchair. But that hasn’t stopped him from enjoying his hobby or advocating for people with disabilities.

AUDIO: [Man speaking Mandarin]

On Saturday, Lai scaled a nearly 1,000 foot tall skyscraper to raise money for others suffering from spinal cord injuries. It took him 10 hours to haul himself more than 800 feet in the air using a pulley system attached to his wheelchair.

Although he didn’t make it to the top of the building, he raised more than $600,000.

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

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: A man in London was worried about his dog, Billy. The dog was limping along on three legs, keeping a front paw off the ground. 

So Russell Jones, who was limping around on crutches due to his own fractured ankle, took Billy to the vet. 

X-rays and a thorough exam later, what did they find?

JONES: Nothing. They said they couldn’t find anything with him.

So Russell took Billy home, and began to notice that Billy only limped when with him. 

Otherwise, the dog would run and jump like nothing was wrong. And then it dawned on Russell that his dog was simply imitating his owner!

REICHARD: Aww, in sympathy! 

Yep.  Man’s best friend for sure.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Today is Wednesday, January 20th. Thank you for making WORLD Radio part of your day. 

Good morning. I’m Megan Basham.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: remembering pro-life advocate Joe Scheidler.

As a young man, Scheidler spent eight years studying for the priesthood in the Catholic church, but discovered his life’s work shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision. Scheidler founded the Pro-Life Action League in 1980 and spent the next 40 years fighting for the unborn around the world.

BASHAM: He fought a 30 year legal battle after the National Organization for Women sued him, on racketeering allegations. The Supreme Court heard the case on three different occasions before finally settling in Scheidler’s favor. 

Scheidler was a pioneer in sidewalk pro-life counseling—using both memorable slogans on placards and graphic images. His son Eric took over the ministry in 2009.

REICHARD: Here now are reflections from four friends: a politician, a couple of pro-life ministry founders, and a family values advocate. Their words will be presented without comment, with audio clips sprinkled in of Joe Scheidler over the years.

SCHEIDLER: I’m not taking my hat off. People don’t know me without the hat. They ask me in church: “Where’s your hat Joe?” I’m Catholic. I don’t wear a hat in church. 

ROSE: My name is Lila Rose. I’m the President and Founder of Live Action and I met Joe Scheidler, probably 10 to 15 years ago when I was in my late teens. He was a source of inspiration for me personally.

SCHEIDLER: Science knows that life begins at the very beginning. That tiny little dot, about the size of a dot at the end of a sentence, that is more valuable than the entire universe. 

SMITH: My name is David E. Smith. I’m the executive director of Illinois Family Institute. I’m not sure I remember the first time I met Joe…

SCHEIDLER: Most people, when they really know the facts, are not inherently pro-abortion. 

BOMBERGER: Hi, I’m Ryan Bomberger, and I’m the co-founder and chief creative officer of the Radiance Foundation. My first meeting was actually when I was able to be one of the keynote speakers at the Speak Out Illinois. We went out to dinner, and to be able to sit across from Joe and Ann and be told how inspired they were by the creative work that I did. I’m thinking, “wait a minute, I’m the one who was inspired to be a ‘factivist’ [by you] so many years ago.”

SCHEIDLER: We have a society now where everybody in their mid-thirties is a survivor of abortion. They could have been aborted, for any reason. 

MORRISON: This is State Representative Tom Morrison of the 54th district, in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. I got to know Joe Scheidler through volunteer pro life work here in the Chicago area. He was probably the most mission-focused and persevering man I ever knew in a very difficult and emotionally charged arena. 

SCHEIDLER: You have to be public, you have to be determined, you have to be effective. You have to be seen. And since the media wouldn’t come to us, we went to them. 

ROSE: The reason he was so passionately fighting for life was because he saw that the death of a child is not only that grave injustice against that child, but it it harms women, fathers, mothers, families, and in all of a society, it ruins a society because it puts violence in our most intimate relationships.

SCHEIDLER: And we’re working hard to talk women out of it. And we have to do it in the old Benedictian way: ora et labora. Ora et labora. To pray and to work. 

SMITH: He was very aggressive in going after the truth about the sanctity of life. But at the same time, he was kind, he was encouraging. He was winsome. Um…He was a role model. 

BOMBERGER: Joe Scheidler was not afraid to speak the truth. He wasn’t afraid to figure out ways to present that truth. And he was unapologetic about it. But here’s the thing, he combined grit and compassion. And that’s not an easy combination. 

SCHEIDLER: So we have compassion for the woman. The abortionists are always talking about the compassion is letting her have an abortion. Many of them don’t want an abortion, they want help. Abortion is a cry for help. 

MORRISON: He just had incredible strength in his faith and character. On the street, people might curse him, they might throw an object at him and it just never seemed to faze him or dampen his spirits, knowing that the cause was right.

SCHEIDLER: When I said: “Hey, when you were on their side, why the zeal, why the enthusiasm, why the hatred of us, why the hatred of God?” And she “because this is our church. This is our religion.” 

ROSE: Joe was fearless and creative. He was doggedly committed to peaceful non-violence, but he was creative in his approach to actually expose the abortion industry, and do community activism to shut down abortion facilities. 

SCHEIDLER: We are going to use all of these pictures, on billboards across the nation…

SMITH: And it really forces the public to grapple with the idea of what abortion really is and what it really does to whom it does…

NEWSCASTER: The tactics of a new anti-abortion group are drawing fire from family planning counselors tonight. Many Austinites consider the pictures offensive. 

SCHEIDLER: I hope it’s offensive. I would be horrified if the people of this area were not offended by seeing what abortion is. 

ROSE: He’s called the godfather of the pro-life movement for a reason…He was a man of love. Ultimately, his mission was love, service of others, particularly the most vulnerable—our children in the womb. So I think that ultimately that his legacy is one of love.

BOMBERGER: It’s hard to imagine the pro-life movement without a Joe Scheidler.  There’s some times when newer people in the pro life movement…are at times dismissive of those who came before us. I would never dismiss the incredible and tireless efforts of those who came before us. Because they didn’t have the means that we have today. They didn’t have social media, and they just kept fighting, no matter how impossible it seemed. So I’m really grateful for Joe Scheidler and how many countless other advocates he’s inspired.

SCHEIDLER: I don’t go into any important undertaking without an intense prayer, that this must be…if it’s God’s will at all, let me be at least a partial instrument, and we realize how weak we are. And God doesn’t need armies. Remember with Gideon, when God kept whittling the army down to fewer people? Not to us, but to your name give the glory, and that is what God wants, and that’s what we’re here for.

BASHAM: Pro-life advocates Ryan Bomberger and Lila Rose, Illinois State Representative Tom Morrison, and Illinois Family Institute’s David Smith on the life and legacy of pro-life advocate Joe Scheidler, who died Monday morning of pneumonia. He was 93.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, January 20th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. You can gain a lot of perspective visiting a cemetery. Here’s commentator Kim Henderson.

KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: I admit it. My husband and I drove through the Natchez City Cemetery for no other reason than to read tombstones. That’s right. We have a fascination with epitaphs, and it’s commonly acknowledged that the families of the dearly departed in historic Natchez, Mississippi, penned theirs with remarkable style. 

I guess that’s why we weren’t the only ones cruising plots that day. I do think I was the only visitor with a laptop slung over my shoulder. Occasionally I would lean its screen against a wrought iron gate and type because I could not help myself, the history was so thick in those etchings.

When we left, I tucked away a file of some 1,000 grave words in the heart of my computer. I figure an inauguration might be a good time to pull it out. That’s because life spans and Presidential terms have something significant in common – the hyphen between the beginning and the end of them.

And it’s the hyphen that counts, right?

We found that for some in the Natchez cemetery, character defined the hyphen. Benjamin Dreyfus’ marker proclaimed, “the crown of a good name excels all else.” For Mary Briscoe, “love and charity were the guides of her  life.” Frederick Read’s family believed “an honest man is the noblest work of God.” Duncan Minor died “beloved, respected and honored by all who knew him.” 

Forward others, it was devotion to a lifework. Joseph Stratton was pastor of First Presbyterian for 60 years. Dr. Frederick Seip, born during the American Revolution, “was useful in life and lamented in death.” The patients of another physician, Dr. Slicer, erected a monument to his “worth as a man and in gratitude for his faithful services.” Slicer, by the way, was the doctor’s real name.

North of the entrance, words on a brick crypt mourned William James, a true family man: 

“We miss thee from our home dear, Husband. We miss thee from thy place. A shadow o’ver our life is cast. We miss the sunshine of thy face. We miss thy kind and willing hand, thy fond and earnest care. Our home is dark without thee. We miss thee everywhere.”

Often epitaphs spoke directly to the tragedies of life, unexpected and early. Employees trapped by a fire. A man lost in the Mississippi River. A son said to “have never caused his parents grief but when he died.”   

And then there was the tombstone with only three words and a period: “Louise. The Unfortunate.” 

Boy, that will give you pause. But even without inscribed dates, God knew all about unfortunate Louise. All the comings and goings and doings that made up her hyphen, had she had one. That’s because nothing is hidden from God.  

And for the most part, the epitaphs we found were, well, grave – almost as grave as those Old Testament verses that say our lifetimes and our nations are as nothing before God.

Recently-elected types the country over would do well to visit a cemetery and ponder such things. 

I’m Kim Henderson.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Tomorrow: The Biden administration’s approach to Iran. We’ll hear from policy experts.

And, we’ll talk to a WORLD reporter in Washington for today’s inauguration.

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.

The Psalmist wrote: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Go now in grace and peace.

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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