The World and Everything In It – March 30, 2021

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

President Biden wants net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the United States in less than 30 years. We’ll hear how he plans to do that.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Also the United States suspends trade with Myanmar following a particularly violent weekend. We’ll talk about the latest there.

Plus, rail travel is back.

And a lesson in contentment.

REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, March 30th. 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: Now news. Here’s Kent Covington.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Chauvin trial underway in Minneapolis » The trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd is underway.

In his opening statement on Monday, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told jurors in Minneapolis,

BLACKWELL: We are going to prove to you that Mr. Chauvin’s conduct was a substantial cause of Mr. Floyd’s death. We have charged him with second degree, murder in third degree, and manslaughter for using excessive force.

Prosecutors also played video of the incident for the jury at their earliest opportunity.

Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson in his opening statement told jurors that he intends to show that other factors led to Floyd’s death. He said prior to Floyd’s arrest.

NELSON: Mr. Floyd consumed what were thought to be two Percocet pills. Mr. Floyd’s friends will explain that Mr. Floyd fell asleep in the car and that they couldn’t wake him up.

The jury also heard from the first witness, 911 dispatcher Jena Lee Scurry.

She said she was able to see Floyd’s arrest on a neighborhood surveillance camera in real-time, and she felt so unsettled by what she saw that she called the sergeant on duty.

SCURRY: It was a gut instinct to tell me that now we can be concerned. 

The Chauvin and Floyd families are allotted one seat each in the courtroom. Floyd’s brother Philonise represented the Floyd family on Monday. The seat for a Chauvin family member was empty.

WHO team to release report on origins of coronavirus » The World Health Organization team that visited Wuhan, China earlier this year to investigate the origins of the coronavirus is expected to release its report today. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin reports.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: In a draft obtained by the Associated Press, the researchers, including Chinese scientists, said it is “extremely unlikely” that the virus leaked from a lab. The document describes four scenarios and labels transmission from bats through another animal as the most likely.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has told CNN he was concerned about the team’s methodology, including Beijing’s involvement. Multiple delays held up the investigation and report, and some suspect Chinese officials were interfering with results. Last year, China repeatedly prevented researchers from accessing areas and data associated with COVID-19.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Biden administration extends eviction moratorium » The Biden administration is extending a federal moratorium on evictions of tenants who have fallen behind on rent during the pandemic. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

PSAKI: The moratorium was scheduled to expire on March 31st and is now extended through June 30th. The president is committed to supporting renters and small landlords through the COVID-19 crisis. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday moved to continue the eviction protection.

The CDC initially enacted the moratorium for qualified tenants last year. The reasoning behind it was that some evicted tenants would be forced to move in with others contributing to the spread of the coronavirus.

Over the past five weeks, judges in Texas and Ohio ruled that the moratorium is unlawful. They say the CDC overstepped its authority. But neither judge issued an injunction, and the Justice Department has appealed.

Supreme Court to hear bid for new defense of Kentucky pro-life law » The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from Kentucky’s attorney general who wants to defend a pro-life law that the state’s governor will not defend. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has more on that.

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s appeal.

It centers on a 2019 Kentucky law that largely banned a type of abortion called dilation and evacuation, also known as dismemberment abortion.

Abortionists often use this method to crush a baby’s body parts or remove the baby in pieces during the second trimester.

Kentucky’s governor at the time, Republican Matt Bevin, signed the bill into law. But the next day, a federal judge struck it down. Bevin appealed, but the state’s current Democratic Governor Andy Beshear dropped the case.

But Daniel Cameron said he wants to take up defense of the law. When the appeals court rejected his efforts to intervene, Cameron appealed to the Supreme Court. And the high court will hear the case, likely sometime in the fall.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.

Traffic again moving through Suez Canal » Ships are once again sailing through the Suez canal, a day after salvage teams freed a colossal container ship stuck there for nearly a week.

As the container ship clogged one of the world’s most vital waterways, it caused a massive traffic jam of hundreds of ships. That held up $9 billion dollars a day in global trade.

And Captain John Konrad, CEO of the shipping website gcaptain, said it also delayed delivery of critical supplies.

KONRAD: Things like respirators for COVID and PPE are undoubtedly on these vessels, as well as oil tankers and boat carriers with grain and food supplies. Everything can pass through now. 

The container ship, called the Ever Given, is one of the largest in the world. It’s almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall.

It ran aground on a bank of the canal during a sandstorm. But on Monday, a flotilla of tugboats, helped by a rising tide, wrenched the ship from the canal’s sandy bank.

I’m Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: restricting fossil fuels.

Plus, Whitney Williams on searching for a new place to call home.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday, the 30th of March, 2021.

You’re listening to The World and Everything in It and we’re so glad to have you along today. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

First up today: renewable energy.

The executive branch of the federal government holds broad regulatory power over environmental and energy policy. The Trump administration used that power to remove more than 70 climate regulations. It argued that deregulation would lead to greater innovation, cheaper energy, and more jobs.

REICHARD: President Biden is taking a very different approach. He wants to implement policies to push the United States to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, and do so by the year 2050. WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports on what exactly that agenda entails.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: On the presidential debate stage in September, two views of how to care for the environment collided.

BIDEN/TRUMP: [Arguing back and forth.]

Philip Rossetti is an environmental policy analyst at R-Street. He says former President Trump and President Biden exemplify two very different positions on climate care.

ROSSETTI: You either have the approach where you want to force a transition. You force renewable adoption by subsidies or mandates. And then the alternative approach is really about the virtue of the free market as the best tool for bringing this sort of transition. And that’s fundamentally at odds with the regulatory approach, with the subsidy approach.

President Biden has two major goals: achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and get the United States to use 100 percent emissions-free electricity by 2035.

Last year, America got just 20 percent of its power from renewable energy sources like windmills and solar panels. Another 20 percent came from nuclear energy.

To replace the other 60 percent, Biden wants to spend $2 trillion dollars over the next four years. That money will subsidize what he calls modern, sustainable infrastructure.

Nick Loris is an environmental policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. He says that would mean spending $1.37 billion dollars a day in subsidies.

LORIS: It looks like a huge chunk of that money would go to utilities and renewable energy companies. And then another big chunk of the money would go to the electrification of the transportation sector. The Biden administration has also proposed to help subsidize the production of those vehicles, and the charging infrastructure with half a million new charging stations. 

The president also plans to enforce regulations on fossil fuels.

First, he ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to review fuel efficiency and emissions regulations for airplanes, cars, and appliances.

He wants to return to Obama-era fuel economy standards. That would mean automakers need to manufacture vehicles that get 54.5 miles per gallon within the next four years. Former President Trump’s plan called for 40 miles per gallon within the next five years.

The president is also targeting the supply of fossil fuels.

In his first weeks in office, he cancelled construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a pipeline that would have pumped oil from Alberta, Canada, all the way to Nebraska.

He also signed an executive order halting any new oil and gas leases on federal land and waters. Federal lands account for 10 percent of U.S. oil production every year. It’s unclear how long that moratorium will last.

Nick Loris says oil and gas companies anticipated the change and stocked up on drilling permits in the final days of the Trump administration. So extraction will mostly continue uninterrupted for the next four years.

LORIS: The shale resources that we have in a lot of respects are on private and state owned lands in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and North Dakota. And so a lot of that will continue on.

Many of the president’s goals and policies echo the Green New Deal, the 2019 climate proposal laid out by progressive Congressional Democrats.

That has environmental groups energized. The Green New Deal Network is a coalition of climate organizations lobbying for ambitious environmental policies.

Kaniela Ing is the climate justice director with People’s Action, a member of the network. He says at first, People’s Action wasn’t all that excited about President Biden.

ING: It didn’t look like during the primary election that President Biden’s plan was, frankly, at the scale we need. 

Now, Ing says Biden’s climate proposals have scaled up.

ING: Biden’s coming out right off the bat talking about 100 percent clean energy standard by 2035. That was aggressive. Just a few years ago, talking about $1 trillion in green investment was considered like a far left, very bold policy. Right off the bat, he’s talking about a $2 trillion green infrastructure package. And that’s completely right. 

But other environmental policy analysts say President Biden’s policies will hurt innovation that leads to cleaner and more efficient energy uses. While at the same time cutting jobs and upping energy prices for consumers.

Philip Rossetti at R Street supports a combination of government regulations and free-market tools. He says President Biden is leaning too heavily on government intervention. When the government forces companies to focus on certain technologies, they stop trying to find undiscovered innovations.

ROSSETTI: When you subsidize technology, you are reducing the incentives for competition. So you’re reducing ways for these technologies to become lower cost and increase their adoption. And you’re reducing the opportunities for competition, for new technologies that we might not even be aware of right now, that could make a huge impact globally. 

Heritage’s Nick Loris says the free market is already cutting waste and emissions on it’s own because that’s what consumers want and it’s just smart economics.

LORIS: We’re seeing more consumers and more businesses interested in going green. And when the market has the opportunity to meet that demand, it does so very well. Just natural innovations to meet consumer demand. When the market is allowed to operate, it can add up to big savings in terms of monetary savings, as well as emissions reductions. 

But so far, the Biden administration isn’t waiting on the free market. It announced plans for another $3 trillion dollar spending package last week. A third of that would go to infrastructure and clean energy.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Next, the struggle for democracy.

Yesterday, the Biden administration suspended all trade with the nation of Myanmar, known also as Burma. This, after a particularly bloody weekend there. Pro-democracy protesters clashed with forces from the military that seized power in February.

First, a bit of history: Back in 2015, Myanmar held its first free election in 25 years. The nation’s first civilian government in half a century came under the National League of Democracy headed up by Aung San Suu Kyi.

The new democracy certainly had its problems, but any democracy at all was a big improvement from decades of military rule.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: But just under two months ago, on Feb. 1st, the military arrested the nation’s top political leaders and once again seized power.

The weeks that followed have seen daily protests in city streets against the coup and increasingly bloody military crackdowns on those demonstrations.

Joining us now with more insight on the crisis in Myanmar is Olivia Enos with the Heritage Foundation. She specializes in human rights and national security challenges in Asia. Olivia, good morning!

ENOS: Good morning. Thank you so much for having me on today.

REICHARD: Well, we touched on it a moment ago, but give us a brief overview of the power struggle in Myanmar. There’s a long history of military rule in the country, correct?

ENOS: There is, and I think for a long time people looked to Burma as a bright spot in southeast Asia for the potential of a burgeoning democracy for human rights and civil and political liberties to really take root there. And, obviously, since February 1st, we’ve seen a dramatic turn of events where the very will of the Burmese people has really been overturned.

Late last year, there was an election in November that really gave the current ruling party—the National League for Democracy—a solid victory and the military saw that as a huge threat.

And so obviously they took over and what has ensued has, especially in recent weeks, turned incredibly bloody. So there’s a real need for a strong U.S. response. I think we’ve seen, actually, some really strong and swift responses from the Biden administration, but of course there’s certainly more than can be done not only to hold the Burmese military accountable for the coup, but also to hold them accountable for the genocide and crimes against humanity they’ve carried out against the Rohingya Muslim minority inside of their country.

REICHARD: How has life changed for the people in Myanmar under this military junta since it took control at the beginning of the year?

ENOS: I mean, it’s been a pretty dramatic shift. Obviously the military and the civilian government have long shared power. But there hasn’t been intervention on the part of the Burmese military in such a solid and strong way. People there—there was a very poignant quote on Twitter from a Pulitzer Prize winning Reuters journalist that talked about how if you’ve never lived under a coup, it’s hard to understand what exactly it feels like for people that are there. But as she described it, it essentially looks to them like there’s no future for them. There’s no future for their children. They don’t see a way to get the country back on track. And so it’s really quite a hopeless and dire situation. And, unfortunately, I think it’s going to be quite some time, if ever in the near term, that we’ll see Burma returning toward a path of democracy.

REICHARD: What more do you think the U.S. could do and how far should it go to intervene?

ENOS: I think the U.S. government took some really important action last week where they targeted two of the biggest military-owned conglomerates—MEC and MEHL. Those are huge funding sources for the Burmese military. And so I think the hope was that those actions as well as some of these later actions that we’ve seen cutting trade under TIFA and otherwise as trying to create risk mitigating factors that would perhaps cause military leaders to chart a different course.

But I think it’s a little too soon to know exactly how the military might respond. And I think there’s going to be a need to continue to increase pressure. As I understand it, they’ve stopped short of sanctioning and targeting the oil and gas industry there.

I think supporting the civil disobedience movement in ways that we can is incredibly important. And I also think that we should start looking to refugee mechanisms that we may have. I’ve advocated previously, prior to the coup, extending refugee status to Rohingya refugees. There are 800,000 to over a million currently displaced in Bangladesh, but it may become more urgent as people start to flee the country to look at those options for people who are simply fleeing the coup in general.

REICHARD: Based on what we’ve seen from the Biden administration so far, what do you think the Biden administration will do in the future?

ENOS: So, I’ve been pleasantly surprised  by how quickly the Biden administration has responded to the coup. And my hope is that you’ll continue to see targeted financial measures. And the Biden administration has also said that they really want to work with allies and partners, whether that’s partners in the region or the European Union. I think mobilizing and activating some of those actors can be really important. One thing that the Biden administration also talked about was using the quad framework as a potential mechanism for trying to hold the Burmese military accountable. And so I think perhaps activating some of those allies and partners, those friends in the region, would be an incredibly useful next step.

REICHARD: Olivia Enos with the Heritage Foundation has been our guest. Olivia, thanks!

ENOS: Thank you so much for having me.

NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s like something from an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

People shopping in Anchorage, Alaska say thieves steal their groceries from right in front of the store.

One victim said it was obvious these scofflaws had pulled off this kind of thing before.

He told the local newspaper that he “literally took 10 steps away and turned around,” and two ravens swoop down, ripp off a package, and flew off with it.

Another person wrote on Facebook that her parents were minding their own business when a bird made off with one of their steaks. The birds hopped from car to car, others circling over head, waiting for just the right time to strike.

One shopper Matt Lewallen said, “They’re very fat so I think they’ve got a whole system there.”

Yah. It’s like they’re organized.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Tuesday, March 30th. 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: Train travel.

As with the entire transportation industry, the rail system has suffered over the past year. In October, Amtrak had to cut many long-distance routes down to just a few times a week.

Still, people love to travel America’s heartland.

WORLD Senior Correspondent Kim Henderson brings us this story from one of the affected lines, the City of New Orleans.

KIM HENDERSON, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: The Godbold Transportation Center in Brookhaven, Mississippi, is swathed in yellows. Sunlight pours through tall walls of windows onto concrete floors stained the color of honey. Wooden benches with a history are re-finished in a light amber. Painters have turned cinder block walls into gold. It’s a pleasant place to begin a journey.

  AUDIO: [conversation in train station]

This is an unmanned facility, which means there’s no station agent on site to sell tickets or arrange baggage assistance. Basically, you get on and off by yourself. But Pap Henderson has served as caretaker here since 2011.

CARETAKER: I open it up for them to come out of the weather, to use the bathrooms. And I give them information that they need. 

Information like “the train is running late.” That’s news to Wilbert Cameron, a middle-aged rider who is traveling to a funeral.

CAMERON: No, it said when I googled it said it would be about, what, 12:16? 

The caretaker says Amtrak’s cut in service hasn’t really affected ticket holders who ride for the pleasure of it. He still sees plenty of them.

CARETAKER: Families like to ride the train and see the scenery for their kids and things, especially going south to the New Orleans area.  

That would include Jay Perkins and his son. They just stepped off the train after a spring break trip to see the World War II Museum.

PERKINS: We live here, and it goes right to New Orleans, just a matter of blocks from where we were staying. So that makes it very convenient. You don’t have to take a car, don’t have to pay for parking the car. 

Nearby, a retired couple spoke of quarterly trips, all starting at this platform under the gabled canopy. They call riding the rails “something different, an adventure.”

Adventure is a good word for a trip on what may well be America’s most legendary passenger train.

AUDIO: song

Thanks to Arlo Guthrie, the City of New Orleans became the fodder of folk songs in 1972, bringing forever fame to its Illinois-Louisiana line. One hundred twenty-nine miles of that track cover the distance between this hub and the Big Easy. It’s a three-and-a-half hour ride.

AUDIO: [horn]

Pre-COVID, the steamliner’s five cars would often leave for New Orleans fully loaded, standing room only. Each car can hold 78 passengers.

Although Amtrak is a private for-profit corporation, the federal government controls the company’s operations and subsidizes it. In 2019, the national passenger railroad came close to posting a profit for the first time in its history. Then came the coronavirus and changes for lines like this one, which starts in Chicago. Still, passengers agree with vintage commercials. They say there’s no better way to go.

VIDEO: [vintage commercial]

The coach seats are roomy, and there’s a dining car and a cafe. But 14-year-old John Kelly favored another spot.

SON: On a moving train can be a little bit difficult to go from one place to another. We stayed in a sleeper car, and that was pretty fun.

The City of New Orleans’ main draw, however, isn’t an asset under Amtrak’s control. It’s the cast of characters who put their bags overhead that give this form of travel a flavor like no other.

AUDIO: [interior train sounds]

I discovered this several years ago during my own City of New Orleans train trip.  On board that day riders were reading, sleeping, eating, and pushing their points about how to barbeque ribs. But those who were in it for the experience all headed to what the industry calls the sightseer lounge, or observation car. It’s where the windows are wide and seats are mounted toward the view.

That’s important because there were things to see, like the dirt crossing at Fernwood and a cotton gin at Magnolia. People waving from the Salad Station. Houses – a hundred years old – built to face the cross ties. And during the brief stop at Hammond, it was nearly impossible to turn away from a good-bye scene between a mom and her son. She looked anxious. He looked ready, a pair of new boots in his hand.

AUDIO: [guitar]

During that trip, I didn’t think about recording anything for a podcast. But the sound track went something like this. Three men near the snack bar pulled out guitars and started to strum.

AUDIO: song

A rumor began to circulate that the dark-haired player, Richard Leigh, was a Grammy-Award winning songwriter from Nashville. Even the train attendants stopped what they were doing and took photographs of him on their phones.

The crowd hushed – the engine’s whistle, too, it seemed  –  when Leigh treated the car to his biggest hit, Crystal Gayle’s “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.”

He finished, but the couple dancing in the aisle didn’t.

AUDIO: song

Before long, we passed Middendorf’s seafood restaurant in Manchac, as well as bayous full of fishing boats and eagle nests. A row away from me a 4-year-old from Miami learned his “choo choo ride” would soon be over.

AUDIO: [train stopping]

Players put their cards away. A mom stopped to clear a booth of an empty bag of Zapp’s. Different degrees of friendship had developed among travelers during the trip, but most ended where the track does, at New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kim Henderson in Brookhaven, Mississippi.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, March 30th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.

Commentator Whitney Williams now on learning to be content.

WHITNEY WILLIAMS, COMMENTATOR: About 13 years ago during my senior year of college, I took a personality test that revealed my decision-making process uses nearly 100 percent emotion and zero logic.

My husband was warned.

I consider these results fairly often and think that surely over these past 13 years, I must have become a little less emotional and a little more logical, working at WORLD for almost 10 of those years, marrying a man who is eight years older than I, having three children… “adulting.”

But then our real estate agent sends me a property listing.


He hasn’t yet seen the photos, but he sees the address—“it’s on a super busy road,” he says, reminding me that we’d just discussed that road a few days prior and had decided against it.

My eyes try not to roll to the back of my head. “DOESN’T MATTER!” I say. “This house is AWESOME. Woods! It’s in the wooooods!” Pinterest perfect! AirBNBish! He reluctantly agrees to do a drive by.

I promptly text my mom the link to the house along with emojis that signify excitement, including a firey explosion, big eyeballs looking to the side, a dancing lady, and a shocked-face smiley.

My mom looks at the link and fans my flame. “Yes! You need to go see it tonight! And I LOVE my apartment,” she says. That’s a reference to the little bed, bath, and kitchenette above the garage.

I warm dinner, anxiously awaiting my husband’s call. We will need to go look with the realtor TONIGHT, I think to myself. “Should I go ahead and put on real pants?”

My husband calls. “Nope. SO MANY NOPES. Drive over here and see for yourself,” he says, crushing my very soul.

I do drive over, determined to ignore the person riding my bumper as I search for the ‘for sale’ sign on the busy, curving road.

I park in the driveway to have a good stare at the house. As I stand there, I get a text from my mom listing some negatives: “Kitchen super small, master bathroom tiiii-ny.”

“My mom, the traitor!” I think to myself.

My husband and I don’t talk much the rest of the evening, which gives me time to face the super annoying facts: This isn’t the best house for us. Once again seeking contentment in our current home, I begin telling myself the things one is supposed to tell oneself in these types of situations: Small bathrooms mean I have less to clean! Tupperware tumbling out of crowded kitchen cabinets signifies an abundance of food! Crowded quarters make for closer interactions with my hubby and three little boys. And a new home will not fill the void in my heart. True satisfaction, I remember, can only be found in Jesus. And in that moment, contentment comes.

Thank you, Lord, for this lesson and the next. Because I’m sure I’ll need a reminder when the next listing comes along.

Until the next listing.

I’m Whitney Williams.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: dealing with Beijing. The Biden administration’s approach to China is different from the prior administration. We’ll talk about where things stand.

And, we’ll take you to the streets of Lausanne, Switzerland, to meet a woman ministering to the city’s prostitutes.

That and more tomorrow.

I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY EICHER, 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.

Jesus said to Satan: Be gone!  For it is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.” [Matthew 4:10]

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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