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The World and Everything in It - March 30, 2022


WORLD Radio - The World and Everything in It - March 30, 2022

On Washington Wednesday, President Biden’s budget proposal; on World Tour, the latest international news; and the origins of Washington’s famous cherry trees. Plus: commentary from Janie B. Cheaney, and the Wednesday morning news.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!

The White House released its budget proposal this week. Defund the police is out, spending more than the government collects? Still very much in.

NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday.

Also today, World Tour.

Plus 110 years ago, a journalist and a first lady plant the first cherry trees in Washington D.C.

And World commentator Janie B. Cheaney on living out the Sermon on the Mount.

REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, 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: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Biden is skeptical Russia is scaling back operations in Kyiv » President Biden says he’s skeptical about whether Russia will make good on its Tuesday announcement. Moscow said it will significantly scale back military operations near Ukraine’s capital and a northern city as peace talks continue.

Speaking at the White House, the president told reporters…

BIDEN: Let’s just see what they have to offer. We’ll find out what they do. But in the meantime, we’re going to continue to keep strong sanctions. We’re going to continue to provide the Ukrainian military with the capacity to defend themselves.

At peace talks in Istanbul, Ukraine said the country was prepared to declare itself neutral and its security would be guaranteed by an array of other nations.

Moscow's public reaction was positive, and the negotiations will likely resume this morning.

Amid the talks, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said Moscow has decided to—quote—“fundamentally ... cut back military activity in the direction of Kyiv and Chernihiv” to “increase mutual trust and create conditions for further negotiations.” End quote.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said take it with a grain of salt.

KIRBY: The Russian Ministry of Defense’s latest talking points may be an effort to move the goal post, moderating Russia’s immediate goals and spinning apparent lack of progress as what would be next steps, but it’s too early to judge what additional actions the Kremlin may take.

Kirby said this does not mean the threat to Kyiv is over.

While Moscow portrayed it as a goodwill gesture, its ground troops have become bogged down and taken heavy losses in their bid to seize Kyiv and other cities.

President Biden defends Putin power remarks » Meantime, the blowback continues over President Biden’s remarks in Poland over the weekend. During an impassioned speech, Biden said Vladimir Putin cannot be allowed to remain in power.

The White House quickly walked back the unscripted remark, seemingly suggesting he didn’t mean what he said.

But the president told reporters…

BIDEN: Number one, I’m not walking anything back. The fact of the matter is, I was expressing the moral outrage I felt toward the way Putin is dealing and the actions of this man …

But he clarified that he was expressing his personal feelings and his comments do not reflect a policy shift on regime change.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday…

MCCONNELL: The wild swings between the administration’s overly cautious, almost skittish official posture and the president’s emotional freelancing is becoming dizzying.

McConnell and many other Republicans are calling on the White House to take stronger action in Ukraine.

U.S. job openings, quitting at near record high in February »Employers hung ‘help wanted’ signs in the window at a near-record level again in February. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The Labor Dept. says employers posted 11.3 million job openings last month. That matched January's figure and was only slightly below December's record of 11.4 million.

The number of Americans quitting their jobs was also historically high, at 4.4 million, up from 4.3 million in January.

More than four-and-a-half million people quit in November, the most on records dating back two decades.

The vast majority of those quitting do so to take another position.

Tuesday’s report is separate from the government’s monthly employment report. In February, it showed employers added nearly 700,000 jobs.

Analysts say the high number of job openings and quits are helping to fuel rampaging inflation. That’s because many companies have had to raise pay to attract and keep workers.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.

FDA OKs another COVID booster for 50 and up » People aged 50 and older will likely be able to get another COVID-19 shot very soon. The FDA on Tuesday gave the green light for a second vaccine booster. The CDC still has to sign off on the move before it’s official.

Until now, the FDA had cleared fourth doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines only for people with severely weakened immune systems.

While the agency is authorizing a second booster, it’s not yet recommending it for everyone over age 49.

FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said Tuesday…

MARKS: The good news is that for most people who have been vaccinated and had one boosted, your original booster shot is continuing to provide you with good protection from being hospitalized or dying.

The authorization offers extra protection for the most vulnerable in case the virus rebounds.

He said the FDA might need to urge Americans to get a fourth shot in the fall.

MARKS: Because we may need to shift over to a different variant coverage.

That would be a booster that is specific to a particular strain.

An omicron subvariant, BA.2, just became the dominant strain in the United States. That strain has caused surges in other countries, but experts do not necessarily expect that to happen here.

South Korea says North lied about ICBM launch » South Korea on Tuesday said North Korea was lying when it said it launched a newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile last week. WORLD’s Josh Schumacher has that story.

JOSH SCHUMACHER, REPORTER: South Korean officials say the North actually fired off a less-powerful missile last Thursday than it claimed.

Pyongyang said it launched a Hwasong-17 missile, its longest-range ICBM to date.

Its state media called the launch “a historical event” and released a stylized Hollywood-style video. It showed leader Kim Jong Un in sunglasses and a leather jacket, supervising the launch.

But South Korea’s Defense Ministry now says the North didn’t fire a Hwasong-17, but a Hwasong-15. That’s a missile the country successfully tested five years ago.

Both missiles are potentially capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. But the Hwasong-17 can travel farther, it may be able to carry multiple nuclear warheads, and better evade missile defenses.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: President Biden’s budget proposal. 

Plus, living in the kingdom.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Wednesday the 30th of March, 2022.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up: President Biden’s budget.

The president unveiled his budget blueprint this week. It calls for higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy and more spending on his domestic priorities and on defense.

The budget office admits the plan overspends to the tune of more than a trillion dollars, but also on paper will reduce the deficit.

What would the president’s plan mean for the U.S. economy? And will Congress play along?

REICHARD: Joining us now to help answer those questions is Matt Dickerson.

Matt is an expert on budgetary and tax policy issues with more than a decade of experience as a Congressional staffer.

Matt, good morning to you!

MATT DICKERSON, GUEST: Thanks so much for having me.

REICHARD: We just said the White House budget proposal over spends by a trillion dollars but also on paper reduce the deficit. How does that work?

DICKERSON: Frankly, this is an irresponsible budget from a fiscal policy perspective. Biden's budget increases spending and increases taxes and it's just going to pass the cost on to the American people.

REICHARD: The president talked several times about fiscal responsibility. His proposal would reduce the deficit, but it would still have the country spending a trillion dollars more than it takes in.

Have we become so comfortable with massive deficits that this is the best we can hope for only adding a trillion dollars or so to the national debt in a year?

DICKERSON: I don't think so. And I think the American people are wide awake to the problems of so much excessive government spending. We've seen 7.9% inflation over the last year. And that's really hitting families right where it hurts in their pocketbook. And that's due to excessive government spending, excessive government regulations causing too much inflation. And this president's budget doubles down on those disastrous policies that we saw in Biden's first year.

REICHARD: Deficit spending is not just a Democratic issue. Biden repeatedly criticized his predecessor for running huge deficits. Was that a valid criticism?

DICKERSON: That's absolutely right. Both Republicans and Democrats have contributed to overspending over the last several decades. But it's going to take both parties to turn the tide and reduce the size and scope and role and control of government in people's lives. And the only way you could do that is by not adding new federal programs like Biden is proposing, turn the tide of overspending and the current programs that we have. But Biden wants to press the gas pedal. And we can't be adding new taxes that are just going to harm the economy, reduce growth, and make it harder for the American people to succeed and keep their own money and not be impacted by disastrous inflation.

REICHARD: Now, if you had to state what the other side believes it's doing that’s good, what would that argument be?

DICKERSON: President Biden’s plan, well, he wants to take more money from the private sector from people who have earned it, Americans, give it to the federal bureaucrats and politicians and think that they can allocate that money more effectively. And I think a lot of people would have a lot of problems with that and think that's just not fair. And we're not going to get the right type of outcomes that won’t be good for the American people.

REICHARD: Do you have an example of that?

DICKERSON: The president wants to raise taxes on the rich, on high income people, but the way he wants to do that is he wants to take money away from the businesses that they invest where people work, and they want to give that money to the federal government and create more programs, more welfare programs so that people become dependent on government. You saw this in President Biden's Build Back Better proposal where he wants to exert more government control over more aspects of people's lives, whether that is their childcare, pre-kindergarten, their K-12 education, and even through people's college. More government control means more power for politicians and bureaucrats and less power for individual Americans.

REICHARD: Biden’s plan includes a minimum tax on the ultra rich—a minimum tax of 20 percent. Paying at least 20 percent certainly sounds reasonable. Explain the potential impact of that provision?

DICKERSON: That's how it's being billed by the Biden administration, but that's not actually how it would work in practice. What Biden is proposing is to raise taxes on the business holdings of wealthy Americans. And this is not going to impact those wealthy Americans, most of whom are Democrats. It's going to take money out of places where people work and the businesses where people buy their supplies. So it's going to hurt working Americans, it's going to hurt lower middle class people who need to buy things and need to work places. And it's just going to empower the government, and it's going to empower tax lawyers and accountants. It's not going to hurt the people that Biden is claiming it is.

REICHARD: He has also proposed raising taxes on corporations to 28 percent. What impact would that have on the budget and the economy?

DICKERSON: That will hurt the economy. Right now, the United States has a 21[percent] corporate tax rate. Communist China charges their corporations 25%. So President Biden wants to raise our corporate rate to 28% at the federal level, higher than Communist China charges businesses in their country. Think about the effect that's going to have. It's going to take money away from workers. About 70% of the cost of the corporate tax rate is borne by workers. So this is going to mean lower wages for Americans, it's going to mean higher prices, it's going to make the United States less internationally competitive. And so businesses will have an incentive to leave the United States and offshore. And it's just going to be a terrible result.

REICHARD: Did his proposed increase in defense spending surprise you at all, and what impact might that have?

DICKERSON: The President did actually, to his credit, propose increasing the funding for our Department of Defense, which is needed. Unfortunately, he's not directing those increases to where it will be most effective. He wants to add $3 billion to the Department of Defense to fight climate change, which if you look at the aggression that we're seeing from Russia, from China, that's not actually going to help secure America's national security. We should be investing in our force structure, in our army and our Air Force in purchasing the most up to date technology for our men and women in uniform, rather than misinvesting in some of the ways that President Biden is proposing.

REICHARD: Given your background in budgets and policy, what should the American people understand about the White House’s budget?

DICKERSON: It's just too much taxes, too much spending. And it's not tackling the real problems that the federal government should be addressing—from inflation, to our energy independence, to investing in our national security, and getting the country in a better way. So we should be doing the opposite of what President Biden is proposing and get as much of the government out of the way as possible, reduce spending, get ourselves on a responsible fiscal trajectory, lower taxes, and trust the American people.

REICHARD: Do you know what a child being born today owes to the federal government/ Do you know what that figure is now?

DICKERSON: It's about $60,000 is every American’s share of the national debt currently, and President Biden over the next 10 years his budget proposes doubling the national debt over the next 10 years.

REICHARD: Do you think there’s a point where the American worker is not going to be able to sustain the productivity required to pay this off?

DICKERSON: I think that's a real risk. One of the biggest problems you see in the economy today is many people not in the labor force. People have dropped out of the labor force and they're not working and in large part that's due to bad incentives coming from the government where they're paying people to not work. And they're not able to see the return on investment from putting in the hours and dealing with the regulations when there's all these different government programs that can make it easier for people to stay out of the workforce. And so that that's a real risk

REICHARD: Matt Dickerson the director for the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget at The Heritage Foundation. Matt, thanks so much!

DICKERSON: Thank you.

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

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Ceasefire in Tigray—We start today in Ethiopia.

Tigrayan rebels agreed to a “cessation of hostilities” on Friday, raising the possibility the 17-month conflict in northern Ethiopia could soon come to an end.

The rebel announcement came a day after the government declared an indefinite humanitarian truce in Tigray. The rebels said they were committed to ending the fighting and urged the government to send emergency aid immediately.

In Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, people cheered the decision.

AUDIO: [Man speaking Amharic]

This man said it would be good to end the fighting because people in Tigray are starving.

Since war broke out in November 2020, thousands have died, and many more have fled their homes. According to the United Nations, nearly half of Tigray’s residents face a severe lack of food.

Solomon Islands and China defend security pact—Next we go to Solomon Islands.

Leaders from the island nation and China are defending a proposed security pact unveiled last week.

AUDIO: [Man speaking Mandarin]

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman called the pact “beyond reproach” and in line with international law. He also urged Western nations to respect a decision made by two sovereign countries.

In a speech to his country’s parliament, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare also blasted criticism of the agreement.

AUDIO: We do not belong to any external alliances, Mr. Speaker. Nor do we wish to pick any side. The only side we will pick is our national security interest.

The agreement would allow China to send armed forces “to assist in maintaining social order.” Sogavare noted anti-government protests last year threatened seven new sports stadiums China is building ahead of the 2023 Pacific Games. The unrest also left severe damage to the Chinatown district in the Solomon Islands’ capital.

But critics accuse Sogavare of using Chinese security forces to prop up his government. And Australia, New Zealand, and the United States have raised concerns over Chinese military involvement in the region.

Sogavare denies claims China eventually intends to build a military base in the Solomon Islands.

Royal family holds memorial service—And finally, we end today in Europe.

AUDIO: [Sound of singing]

Britain’s royal family held a memorial service for Prince Phillip on Tuesday. Queen Elizabeth’s husband of 73 years died nearly a year ago. He was 99.

Pandemic restrictions at the time prevented the family from holding the service the prince planned for himself before his death. But nearly 2,000 guests packed London’s Westminster Abbey on Tuesday.

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

NICK EICHER, HOST: A runner in California just set a Guinness World Record by running a half-marathon in 2 hours and 19 minutes.

Chad Kempel isn’t the first person to run a 13-mile race in that time. But he is the first person to do it while pushing a stroller with all five of his four-year-old children. Yep. Quintuplets!

Even on wheels, pushing five kids for that distance isn’t easy. Especially on hills. But Kempel told TV station KIVI, his kids gave him some motivation.

KEMPEL: And they’re saying ‘run faster dad!’ And I’m just dying sweating, and I’m like ah, I don’t even know if I can go any farther!

This wasn’t Kempel’s first record. He also set a record for a quintuplet-pushing full marathon and the fastest 10k.

Kempel wisely added that it’s nothing compared to what mom does every day with the kids!


EICHER: That’s a smart husband!

It’s The World and Everything in It.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Wednesday, March 30th. Thanks so much for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.

Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s spring in the Northern Hemisphere. The cherry trees are blooming in Washington, D.C.

This past Saturday marked the 110th anniversary of the planting of those trees. A gift from Japan. Today, WORLD reporter Jenny Rough brings us the story of how that gift came to be.

PARSELL: They are not fully out. They’re only out about I’d say 2/3rds. So they’re not at their peak yet.

JENNY ROUGH, REPORTER: Diana Parsell has lived in Washington, D.C., for over 40 years. She never misses the cherry blossom show each spring. Over 3,000 graceful trees fill the city. Mainly in Potomac Park around the Tidal Basin—a reservoir near the National Mall.

PARSELL: Most of them are this white variety that you have called Yoshino. This is really like the crème de la crème of the cherry trees. There’s a Kwanzan. Some are pink. There are different varieties, and they sent a dozen varieties.

Parsell says many people know that the trees were a gift from Japan to the United States in 1912. But few are aware that the idea originated with an American journalist.

Parsell learned the full story herself when browsing a bookstore in Asia. There, she picked up a travelog published in 1897.

PARSELL: It just had the initials of the author, E.R. Scidmore. And I said, “Gee, that’s quite a fascinating little book.” It was very well-written, very lively. And I said who is this guy? And when I went online and did Wikipedia research, I was stunned to find out that it was an American woman.

Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore. The journalist who proposed the idea of cherry trees in Washington. And that little book bloomed into a passion for Parsell, whose forthcoming biography on Scidmore is due out next year.

As a child, Scidmore excelled at spelling and language. She loved geography. Most kids play with games and toys.

PARSELL: With her, it was maps and a globe.

At age 19, Scidmore got her start as a reporter. Back then, much of Washington was marshland. Mucky. Smelly. Prone to flooding. In the 1880s, city planners decided to fill in the marshland and create a park. Scidmore reported on it.

PARSELL: She went to the top of the Washington Monument when it was still under construction. And she gets to the top, and she looks out over, and this is in 1883, and she says, “This is going to be the most magnificent park in the city and a scene of great magnificence,” or something like that.

Soon after, Scidmore began traveling to Japan where her brother worked. For the first time, she saw cherry trees. Not the edible fruit variety. Decorative trees with delicate blossoms.

PARSELL: There was a famous park in Japan called Mukojima. And it was this mile long avenue of trees in Tokyo, along the Sumida River.

A flurry of petals like snow in the wind. Potomac Park immediately came to mind.

PARSELL: And she said oh, what this new park needs is some of these Japanese cherry trees.

She imagined not only trees, but the recreation of a tradition that still goes on in Japan today.

PARSELL: Hanami, cherry tree viewing. It’s really been a tradition for like a thousand years. People picnicking under the trees, office workers, families, friends coming together. And she wanted to recreate that experience of seeing people congregating in harmony and peace under the trees.

Three times Scidmore proposed the idea to different park superintendents—in different administrations. Three times, she got the same answer: No.

Then, in 1909, William Howard Taft came to the White House. Mrs. Taft took on the project of beautifying Potomac Park. She wanted to add a bandstand for concerts. A newspaper announced the plan. And Scidmore saw another chance.

PARSELL: She knew that Mrs. Taft had an interest in Japanese culture. She approached Mrs. Taft about cherry trees. And Mrs. Taft said, “Oh yes, let’s add cherry trees.”

The two women found a few at a domestic nursery.

PARSELL: But Eliza Scidmore was so excited, she shared the news with a Japanese man that she knew who was in town that weekend. Jokichi Takemine.

A well-known chemist.

PARSELL: He got very excited by this. And he said I want to contribute 2,000 trees to Mrs. Taft for her project.

The gift was arranged. The trees arrived in the winter of 1910.

PARSELL: Unfortunately, the Department of Agriculture inspected the trees and said, no, no, no. These are full of pests and disease.

Scale bugs. Weevils. Root galls. The trees were burned. Two years later, Japan sent another batch.

PARSELL: It was spring already. The planting season, and so they put together this very quick little dedication ceremony.

Mrs. Taft planted the first one. The second stands right next to it—to this very day.

PARSELL: Those two trees are here. They live only about 40 years typically. These are 110 years now. There are about 100 of the original trees left.

Cherry blossoms only last for about 10 days. Even though they’re not mentioned in the Bible, they remind us of many passages.

Author and gardener Shelley Cramm gives this example from Isaiah 40:

SHELLEY CRAMM: God’s word says the grass withers, the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever. So he uses that contrast of flowers are fleeting, we all know that. We love flowers, they’re beautiful. You buy them and boom, they die. He uses the counter to that. The word of the Lord stands forever.

And trees like the cherry blossoms declare God’s greatest work.

CRAMM: God created the seasons. Of all the seasons, oh gosh, spring is the one so anticipated because it does come after that dark winter. And we do get ourselves through those dark times by remembering, you know, the light is coming. Things will bloom again. And so really, I mean spring testifies to resurrection. God brings life after death. That's what he does. That's what he is done for us. I mean it’s his biggest message.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Jenny Rough in Washington, D.C.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday 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. You know these words for Christians from the book of Matthew: “Blessed are those who…”

Here’s WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney

JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: During chapel at my Christian college, eons ago, we were introduced to a distinguished white-haired gentleman who had recited by heart the Sermon on the Mount, King-James version, 554 times. Then, for the 555th time, he recited it for us. I don’t remember the actual number—it was in the hundreds. What I most recall is his unwavering, slightly smarmy smile as he warned us that to be angry with a brother was tantamount to murder and that it was better to gouge out your own eye than let it lead you into sin. I was a church kid who had grown up hearing those words; the smile unsettled me more than they did.

In a letter to John Adams, dated October 12, 1813, Thomas Jefferson called the Sermon on the Mount, quote, “the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.” He wasn’t the only American eminence to do so: praising the Sermon as the ultimate moral code has been a habit of presidents as recently as Barack Obama. Even agnostics like Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes spoke of it as quote, “a rudder by which to steer.”

Presidents and jurists agree we’d all be better off if we lived by the words of Jesus. But I have to wonder how closely they read them.

Thirty-five years ago, author and professor Virginia Stem Owens assigned the Sermon on the Mount to her Freshman English class at Texas A&M. She assumed they at least knew who the speaker was and that their papers would make some respectful nods. Instead she met anger and outrage. For example,

“I did not like the essay ‘Sermon on the Mount.’ It was hard to read and it made me feel like I had to be perfect and no one is.”

Or, “The things asked in this sermon are absurd.”

Or, “I see no point in this.”

At first Owens was shocked, but then she felt a little encouraged by the students’ honesty. Better to see these words with fresh honest eyes than cultural piety. For in fact, this sublime moral code, as Jefferson called it, is deeply disturbing.

Matthew tells us that Jesus began his ministry by going throughout Galilee preaching “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” His famous sermon, recorded at the beginning of his ministry, can’t be understood apart from the kingdom. It’s not just a new ethic; it’s a new way of seeing the world. It’s about living on an entirely different plane than the people around you, seeing invisible walls and building on invisible foundations. It’s about giving up the now to gain the infinite Now. It’s absurd—if you live in this world. If you’re living in the kingdom, it’s giving up yourself in order to grow into yourself.

I’m Janie B. Cheaney.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: stolen art. We’ll tell you how and why museums are reconsidering some of the pieces in their collections.

And, reading aloud. We’ll recommend some books the whole family will enjoy hearing.

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.

The Third Commandment: You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. (Exodus 20:7 ESV)

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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