The World and Everything in It — February 9, 2021

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

Tens of thousands protest the military coup in Myanmar in defense of human rights. We’ll talk to an expert on the geo-political situation there.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Also today the far-reaching effects of a presidential order redefining the meaning of a very important word.

Plus, how a notable broadcaster used his nationwide platform to plead the cause of civil rights.

And commentator Cal Thomas on the curse of government debt.

REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, February 9th. 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 with today’s news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Trump Senate Impeachment trial begins » The second Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump begins today on Capitol Hill with both sides laying out their arguments. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that all parties have agreed to a resolution spelling out the structure and timing of the trial. 

SCHUMER: Each side will have ample time to make their arguments: 16 hours over two days for the House managers, the same for the former president’s counsel. If managers decide they want witnesses, there will be a vote on that. 

Lawyers for President Trump filed a brief on Monday calling the case against him “political theater.” The former president’s legal team will argue this week that he was simply exercising his First Amendment rights and that he called for a peaceful protest.

Former senior advisor to Trump, Jason Miller told Fox News…

MILLER: Nobody who could consider themselves a supporter of President Trump could ever participate in any violence like that because President Trump is so anti-mob violence and has been so outspoken on this. 

But House impeachment managers will argue that Trump aimed a mob of supporters “like a loaded cannon” at the Capitol. 

White House, Democrats continue work on relief package » Lawmakers and the White House continue to haggle over what the next big COVID-19 relief bill will look like. But it appears all but certain that Democrats will use a process called budget reconciliation to pass the nearly $2 trillion package. That would cut Republicans out of the process. GOP leaders have urged President Biden to consider a more targeted and scaled down relief measure. 

But some questions remain. Among them, who will qualify for the next round of stimulus payments. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden is talking with lawmakers. 

PSAKI: He had proposed kind of a threshold. There’s a discussion about what that threshold will look like. A conclusion hasn’t been finalized. That will be worked through Congress. 

The “threshold” being some kind of an income cap for those receiving full stimulus payments. Right now, the package is expected to send $1,400 payments to most Americans. 

President Biden also wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and hopes to include that as part of the measure. But he said it’s up to the Senate parliamentarian to decide whether Democrats can push that through using budget reconciliation. 

UN: ‘Concerning news’ vaccines may not work against variants » The head of the World Health Organization Tedros Gherbreysus says new COVID-19 variants have raised questions about whether or not existing vaccines will work. 

His remarks follow South Africa’s decision to suspend its campaign using the AstraZeneca vaccine. The South African government said it was not proving to be very effective against a new variant that is now the dominant virus strain in the country.

Ghebreyesus called that “concerning news.”

GHEBREYESUS: These results are a reminder that we need to do everything we can to reduce circulation of the virus with proven public health measures. 

He said it was increasingly clear that vaccine manufacturers will have to tweak their existing shots to address mutations of the virus. 

And he said booster shots will likely be needed everywhere, especially since new variants of the virus are likely to become the predominant strains.

Other COVID-19 vaccines developed by Novavax, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson also appear to be less effective against the South African strain, although they may prevent severe disease. 

U.S. to re-engage with U.N. Human Rights Council » Secretary of State Tony Blinken says the United States will re-engage with the troubled U.N. Human Rights Council after former President Trump withdrew from it almost three years ago. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Blinken said Monday that pulling out of the council “did nothing to encourage meaningful change, but instead created a vacuum of U.S. leadership.”

The U.N. human rights body has long drawn criticism for overlooking abuses by autocratic regimes while even accepting human rights abusers as members. Critics say the panel also frequently, and often unfairly, targets Israel. 

Blinken, in a statement, acknowledged problems with the council. He said it is—quoting here—a “flawed body, in need of reform to its agenda, membership, and focus, including its disproportionate focus on Israel.” 

But Blinken said the council, when it works well, “can serve as an important forum for those fighting injustice and tyranny.”

The United States withdrew from the Human Rights Council in 2018 when it did not adopt a list of reforms demanded by the Trump administration. 

Current members of the Human Rights Council include China, Cuba, Russia, and Venezuela.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

U.S., Iran locked in standoff on nuclear deal » President Biden has expressed an interest in returning to something else President Trump pulled out of in 2018—the Iran nuclear deal. 

But Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei says his county will not return to the bargaining table unless the United States first lifts all economic sanctions. 

The president responded to that ultimatum during an interview with CBS’ Face the Nation

O’DONNELL: Will the U.S. lift sanctions first in order to get Iran back to the negotiating table?

Biden said Tehran must start adhering to the rules of the 2015 nuclear deal before the two sides can come to any new agreement. 

KHAMENEI: [Speaking Farsi]

But the 81-year-old Iranian supreme leader said the United States must start by meeting his demands, and he will not budge. He told state television—quote— “This is the definitive and irreversible policy of the Islamic Republic, and all of the country’s officials are unanimous on this, and no one will deviate from it.”

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: the consequences of President Biden’s attempt to redefine sex.

Plus, Cal Thomas on addiction to government.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 9th of February, 2021. You’re listening to The World and Everything in It and we are so glad to have you along today. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up: a transgender directive.

President Joe Biden issued 29 executive orders in his first three weeks in office. He signed one of the most significant on day one. It’s a mouthful. The Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation.

REICHARD: The order calls for federal agencies to end what the Biden administration defines as discrimination against those who identify as transgender or gay. Last week we told you how that could affect women’s sports. Now WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports on the order’s other far-reaching effects.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Nightlight Christian Adoptions works with foster care systems in six states. Daniel Nehrbass heads the organization.  

NEHRBASS: These are children who are wards of the state. They’re in state custody. And the state has the prerogative to choose which organizations they’re going to place their children with, for supervision of their care.

But some state and county governments won’t work with religious organizations that refuse to place children with gay or transgender couples. 

For instance, Colorado and California require adoption agencies to be willing to place children with same-sex couples. 

Despite that demand, Nightlight has chosen to continue its work with those state foster care agencies. Although, Nehrbass says, so far, it’s been able to work around those requirements.

NEHRBASS: We have had same sex couples come to our trainings. But to date, we have not had any same sex couples continue with the training beyond the first session. 

Other states give Nighlight complete freedom to determine which families it wants to work with. States like South Carolina. 

Nehrbass says President Biden’s executive order could change that. 

That’s because in order for states to receive federal foster care funds, they’d have to comply with federal demands.

And under the Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination, states couldn’t contract with Christian adoption agencies that don’t want to work with same-sex or transgender couples.

NEHRBASS: Let’s take South Carolina as an example. If they currently don’t have a stipulation in their contract, that the agencies must place with same sex couples, then presumably, the next step would be for the state of South Carolina, to demand each of its counties to put that in their contract. And then the contract that we have in South Carolina would have to change. 

This is just one of the many potential effects of President Biden’s executive order.

Matt Sharp is an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom. He says the order could affect any organization that receives federal funds and adheres to scientific and biblical teachings on marriage, sexuality and gender. 

The order finds its legal grounding in a 2020 Supreme Court ruling called Bostock vs. Clayton County, Georgia. In that case, the court ruled an employer can’t fire someone for being gay or transgender. 

Matt Sharp says the Biden administration is using that opinion to end religious and conscience objections to the gay and transgender lifestyle. But Sharp says that’s a flawed legal interpretation of the Bostock ruling.

SHARP: The court was very clear that it was, it was basing its understanding of sex on the biological understanding. And so the court was not expanding the understanding or rewriting these into federal law. Number two, the court was very clear that this ruling, it’s rolling only applies to Title VII in the employment context. And it very clearly said this does not apply to other federal laws. 

If the Biden administration does end religious exemptions, Christian colleges could face immediate repercussions. 

SHARP: I think there’s a very real risk that this could impact religious colleges. One of the big sources of funding is those Pell Grants, and federally backed student loans and things like that, that a lot of students are able to use to go to the faith based College of their choice. 

And the executive order could place new demands on women’s shelters

SHARP: It’s going to put the same demands on every shelter, that a women’s only shelter has to open its doors to biological males, without regard for the safety or security concerns of the women that those shelters serve. 

Sharp also points to what it could mean for federal women’s prisons. 

SHARP: And so one of the big concerns is what is this going to mean for women? Are they going to be forced to allow a male to be housed in the same cell as them in the same facilities as them?

Big changes could also be in store for healthcare. 

Roger Severino headed up the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights during the Trump administration. He says President Biden’s order would affect how hospitals identify and treat biological men and women… which could affect patient health. 

SEVERINO: There are many biological sex differences that matter tremendously to the practice of medicine, the events of research and science.

Severino says he’s also concerned about what will happen to conscience objection  protections for doctors and nurses. 

SEVERINO: I would hope there’d be very little change, because civil rights should not be a political hot potato. 

ADF’s Matt Sharp says the order could also roll back Trump-era protections for private businesses that don’t want to pay for employee contraception or sex-change surgeries. 

SHARP: This is going to implicate not just contraception, abortion abortifacients. But getting into gender identity surgeries, and other things that violate those principles and beliefs of private employers. 

Agencies have less than 80 days to issue their proposed policy changes. Right now, these trickle down effects are speculation, but Roger Severino says most signs indicate there are many legal battles ahead—between religious freedom advocates and the country’s new leaders. 

SEVERINO: What I’ve seen from the Biden administration so far, is they’re going to rush headlong towards ideology over science. I hope that’s not the case. But those are the initial indications.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: Myanmar, the country also known as Burma. 

On the first of February, the military seized control of the Southeast Asian country in a bloodless coup. The new leaders arrested the democratically elected leaders, cut phone lines, and in order to prevent protest organizing, it blocked access to Facebook.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Military rule is nothing new in Myanmar/Burma. After declaring independence from Great Britain in 1948, a military coup 14 years later gave the military power for decades. Brief periods of democracy followed, although the military never fully relinquished power.

Joining us now to help make sense of the latest political upheaval is Dan Blumenthal. He is director of Asian studies at the American Enterprise Institute. And the author of The China Nightmare: The Grand Ambitions of a Decaying State. 

Good morning, Dan!


REICHARD: We’re talking about this in terms of a coup, yet the military has maintained significant control over the country since the last coup in 1962. It might be helpful to understand how Myanmar’s government is structured. Can you explain that?

BLUMENTHAL: Well, in 2009 there was a restructuring where the U.S. opened relations with Burma again and there were democratic elections, in fact, not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but over the last few years there have been democratic elections and real problems with democratic-elected government and some of its human rights abuses, awful human rights abuses. But this is a military coup. The democratically elected government has been overthrown by the military.

REICHARD: Aung San Suu Kyi’s party led the democratically elected government. She lived under house arrest for almost 15 years under the last military junta. She won the Nobel Peace Prize 30 years ago for her pro-democracy efforts. And then in 2015 her party won a majority of seats in parliament and she became state counsellor, essentially prime minister.

But then in 2019 she defended the military against allegations of genocide against the Rohingya. So is she a champion of democracy or not?

BLUMENTHAL: She is a champion of democracy in Burma, but obviously what she did with respect to the Rohingya is awful and should definitely be — and she has gotten international condemnation for that. But, again, they were the democratically elected government of Burma, very flawed. Obviously very flawed. But this is a military coup to be sure.

REICHARD: President Biden has condemned the coup. What options does he have to persuade military leaders to reverse course?

BLUMENTHAL: Well, most of them are already pretty sanctioned by the United States and other allied countries. But there are still more sanctions that can be enacted against the military leadership. And, of course, going back to policy, there’s a diplomatic isolation that we had up until 2009, 2010. So, there are a number of policies that can be taken and of course there’s diplomatic pressure in conjunction with some of the southeast Asian states and some of our allies in Asia that can be brought to bear as well. But it certainly frees the improving of relations between our two countries.

REICHARD: Myanmar, especially its military, has close ties to China. Could U.S. action strengthen that bond, and if so, what are the potential consequences? 

BLUMENTHAL: Well, it will strengthen the bond in the short term, without question. Although the bond’s pretty strong as it is. So we have—this Burma policy has not succeeded in many of its fundamental objectives including weaning them off of a dependency on China. China’s corrupt, as we know, and spends a lot of money to corrupt the leaders of Burma and other countries along the periphery as well. 

REICHARD: Dan, what do you think the American public needs to know about this that perhaps they don’t?

BLUMENTHAL: Well, you know, these are extraordinarily complicated issues because we have security interests in having Burma and other southeast Asian nations with human rights abuses on our side in a geopolitical competition with China. But we also can’t just ignore these grave human rights abuses as well as military coups. So, a complicated issue.

REICHARD: Dan Blumenthal is director of Asian studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Thanks so much for joining us today.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you very much for having me.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Well, anyone who’s ever lost a wallet knows what a sick feeling that is. 

So it goes without saying that Paul Grisham was delighted to have his wallet returned, given that he hadn’t seen it in 53 years!

Here’s Grisham talking with television station KFMB:

GRISHAM: It brings back memories like you can’t believe. First and foremost is my ID card. There’s a picture of me with dark brown hair instead of grey.

He’d basically forgotten about the wallet and considered it lost forever, not only because of how much time had passed, but where he was when he lost it—an out-of-the-way outpost 25-hundred miles south of New Zealand. A place he called “the ice.”

GRISHAM: I never say Antarctica. I always say ‘the ice’ because that’s what we all called it.

He’s 91 now and the Navy vet shipped out to “the ice” in 1967 for a 13-month assignment as a meteorologist. Workers found the lost wallet while clearing out a building slated for demolition.

The wallet contained not only the driver’s license and ration card, but also a helpful pocket reference on what to do in case of atomic, biological, and chemical attacks. Good thing he didn’t need it.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, February 9th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: fighting injustice. 

Yesterday, you heard the story of Isaac Woodard. On the night of February 12th, 1946, a South Carolina chief of police beat him mercilessly—permanently blinding the U.S. Army Sergeant.

EICHER: The story might have disappeared if it weren’t for radio and film celebrity Orson Welles. Over the course of five weeks in the summer of 1946, Welles talked about the case during his Saturday radio commentary program. The uproar over the story eventually got the attention of President Harry Truman and galvanized a very young Civil Rights Movement. 

WORLD Correspondent Paul Butler brings the story.

WELLES: Good morning, this is Orson Welles speaking, I’d like to read you an affidavit. I, Isaac Woodward Jr, being duly sworn to depose and state as follows…

CORRESPONDENT, PAUL BUTLER: That’s how Orson Welles began his radio program 75 years ago on July 28th, 1946. He devoted the entire quarter hour to Woodard’s story. During the first two minutes, Welles read from Woodard’s affidavit.

WELLES:  When the bus got to Aiken, he got off and got the police. They didn’t give me the chance to explain, the police then struck me with a billy across the head and told me to shut up. 

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, believed Woodard’s case should be known outside of South Carolina. They successfully lobbied a few newspapers across the country to pick up the story, but it didn’t get much traction. Then, Executive Secretary Walter White sent a letter to film director and producer Orson Welles. The letter included Woodard’s testimony of the event. 

WELLES: About 5:30 that evening they took me to the Veterans Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. I believe the doctor who cared for me was Dr. Clarence. I told him what had happened to me. He made no comment, but told me I should join a blind school. Sworn by me, the 23rd day of April, 1946… 

Welles then addressed the officer who blinded Woodard. 

WELLES: Now it seems the officer of the law who blinded the young Negro boy the affidavit has not been named. Until we know more about him, for just now we’ll call the policeman Officer X. You might be listening to this. I hope so. Office X I’m talking to you. 

Orson Welles promised that he would do all within his power to figure out the officer’s true identity and release it to the public. 

WELLES: We invite you to luxuriate in secrecy, for it will be brief. Go on, suckle your anonymous moment while it lasts. You’re going to be uncovered. We will blast out your name. We’ll give the world your given name, Officer X. Yes, and your so-called Christian name. It’s going to rise out of the filthy deep like the dead thing it is. We’re going to make it public with a public scandal that you dictated by failed to sign. 

A few weeks later he announced that his investigators, along with help from the NAACP and the FBI, discovered the truth:

WELLES: I have before me, wires and press releases to the effect that a policeman of Batesburg by the name of Shaw, or Shore or Shull–it is given three different ways here–the flashes just before us: Chief L.L. Shull has admitted that he was the police officer who blinded Isaac Woodward. 

A week later, Welles continued.  

WELLES: Now we have him. We won’t let him go. I promised I’d hunt him down. I have. I gave my word I’d see him unmasked. I’ve unmasked him. I’m going to haunt Police Chief Shull for all the rest of his natural life. Mr. Shull is not going to forget me. And what’s important, I’m not going to let you forget Mr. Shull.

During the original broadcast, Welles read Isaac Woodard’s claim that the beating took place in Aiken, South Carolina. It actually occurred 20 miles away: a fact that many tried using to discredit both Woodard and Welles.

WELLES: The place was Batesburg. Isaac Woodward thought it happened in Aiken. He was wrong. I’ve repeatedly explained Woodward’s mistake and repeatedly apologize. But I broadcast his affidavit, and now the city of Aiken–having banned my movies, burned the posters in the streets and hang me in effigy–is threatening, believe it or not, to sue me to the sum of $2 million. If I had all that money, honestly, I wouldn’t mind owing it to Aiken. To the pride of having finally put the blame where it belongs. The blame belongs as I say in Batesburg, Batesburg, South Carolina. 

Orson Welles successfully made Woodard’s story national news, but many accused him of attempting to incite riots and social unrest. 

WELLES: Editorials, and lots of newspapers, and lots of people are writing me to demand to know what business it is of mine. God judge me if it isn’t the most pressing business I have. The blind soldier fought for me in this war, the least I can do now is fight for him. I have eyes he hasn’t. I have a voice on the radio, he hasn’t. I was born a white man. And until a colored man is a full citizen like me. I haven’t the leisure to enjoy the freedom that colored man risked his life to maintain for me. I don’t own what I have, until he owns an equal share of it.

Orson Welles’s five broadcasts on the Woodard case also got the attention of politicians, including President Harry Truman. He demanded the Justice Department investigate. The U.S. District Court in Columbia South Carolina, eventually found police chief Shull and his officers not guilty—even though they admitted to blinding Woodard.  

So a month later, President Truman established the Civil Rights Commission, and made civil rights a domestic agenda priority. In 1948 Truman issued two executive orders. The first banned racial discrimination in the military and the second desegregated the federal government. Today, the NAACP credits Orson Welles and his radio program for making it possible.  

WELLES: No one of us will live to see a blameless peace. We strive and pray and die for what will be here when we are gone. Our children’s children are the ancestors of a free people. We send our greetings ahead of us to them, to history yet unmade. Our greetings to the generations sleeping in our loins. Be of good heart. The fight is worth it.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Paul Butler.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, February 9th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Commentator Cal Thomas now on the curse of government debt.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: The problem with free money is that it leads to an addiction. In the case of the $1.9 trillion “relief” bill, Congress is the supplier. Those on the receiving end are becoming increasingly looking for a government fix.

In my lifetime, the United States has gone from a creditor nation to a debtor nation. History shows that massive national debt is a major cause of decline, even extinction, of nations that refuse to live within their means.

In addition to the usual unrelated pork, the bill includes $1,400 checks for most Americans. What happens when that money runs out, and why should the well-off be getting any? It also includes $130 billion for public schools. But teachers’ unions won’t allow many schools to open despite the science that kids can be kept safe. And finally, the bill includes $350 billion in aid to state and local governments, most of which have been poorly run by members of guess which party?

On top of that, $1 trillion from the first pandemic relief package still hasn’t been spent. According to a House Budget Committee, that includes $59 billion for schools, $239 billion for health care and $452 billion in small business loans. Meanwhile, state and local governments added 67,000 jobs in January.

A Wall Street Journal editorial concluded, quite rightly, “They don’t need more federal cash.”

Let’s take just one component of this massive bill—aid to renters—to illustrate why it is overkill and unnecessary. According to an analysis by The Heritage Foundation, “Delinquencies do not appear to have substantially increased since the start of this extended period of COVID-19 shutdowns.” The National Multifamily Housing Council tracks more than 11 million professionally managed apartment units. Its data show only a minimal deterioration in rental payments year over year. In December 2020, just over 6 percent of units had missed a rental payment by the end of the month. A year earlier, in December 2019, delinquencies were just 2 percent lower—94 percent. And that was before the pandemic started!

But these and other facts don’t matter to Democrats, who base their strategy on feelings and intentions, not results. That’s why it’s good to be a Democrat. One never has to actually solve a problem, only throw money at it.

We continue to ignore the wisdom of the Founders, who consistently warned against the evil of national debt.

Scripture says it is more blessed to give than to receive. That is meant to be personal. When government gives, it becomes a curse for the giver as well as the receiver and ultimately a curse on the nation.

I’m Cal Thomas.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: The second Senate impeachment trial of now former President Trump is underway. We’ll analyze legal arguments on both sides on Washington Wednesday.

And you think people are serious about politics, you’re going to meet some people who are serious about flowers. Kim Henderson takes us to a meeting of the Camellia Society where blooms from all around the country come to be judged.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Nick Eicher.

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.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.

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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