WORLD Radio – The World and Everything in It – April 14, 2022
The latest effort to make the U.S. Postal Service financially viable; when we might expect some relief at the gas pump; and an Australian man who spent his life raising sheep. Plus: commentary from Cal Thomas, and the Thursday morning news.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!
The U.S. Postal Service has been in trouble for a long time. A new law aims to fix that, but will it?
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Also what the Biden administration is doing to bring down gas prices.
Plus we’ll meet an Australian shepherd.
And commentator Cal Thomas on taking back parental authority for children.
BROWN: It’s Thursday, April 14th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.
REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Good morning!
BROWN: Time now for news with Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: U.S. sends more weapons, equipment to Ukraine in $800m package » The United States is rushing more heavy firepower into Ukraine as part of another $800 million in military aid. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday…
KIRBY: It’s the first time that we’ve provided these 155 howitzers and the associated rounds that will go with them. And again, that’s reflective of the kind of fighting that Ukrainians are expecting to be faced with in this little bit more confined geographic area.
The Pentagon is also handing over transport helicopters, armored personnel carriers and Humvees, naval drone vessels used in coastal defense and gear used to protect soldiers in chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological attacks.
It’s all in preparation for a major Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine. For several days, officials have been urging residents in the region to flee.
And President Biden now says Russia’s war in Ukraine amounts to genocide. He used that term for the first time in what appeared to be unscripted remarks.
BIDEN: Yes, I called it genocide because it’s become clearer and clearer that Putin is trying to wipe out the idea of even being able to be a Ukrainian.
U.S. officials have repeatedly said Russia is guilty of “war crimes,” but steered clear of calling it “genocide.” The State Department said that’s because that term is actually a legal designation, and the United States was still gathering evidence.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zenenskyy said he is grateful and believes President Biden called it exactly what it is.
Leaders sound alarms about impact of Ukraine war on food supply, cost » Meantime, world leaders are sounding alarms about the impact of the war in Ukraine on food supplies and costs.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Wednesday …
YELLEN: I am deeply concerned about the impact of Russia’s war on food prices and supply, particularly on poor populations who spend a larger share of their income on food.
And U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres added …
GUTERRES: The war is supercharging a three-dimensional crisis, food, energy, and finance, that is pummeling some of the world’s most vulnerable people, countries, and economies.
He said “as many as 1.7 billion people—one-third of whom are already living in poverty—are now highly exposed to disruptions that are triggering increases in poverty and hunger.
Russia and Ukraine both play significant roles in global food supplies. About one quarter of the world’s wheat exports come from those two countries.
CDC extends travel mask requirement » The Biden administration is extending the nationwide mask requirement for public transit for two more weeks as it monitors a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The public transit mask order was set to expire on Monday. But the CDC announced it will extend the order until May 3rd to allow more time to study the BA.2 subvariant of the omicron strain. That is now the dominant strain in the country.
Over the past month, new cases have held steady at about 30,000 per day, even showing a slight increase.
Hospitalizations have shown a mild uptick in recent days as well.
In a statement, the CDC said it’s keeping the mask order in place to—quote—“assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity.”
Critics of the mask rule note that cases have dropped in many states even as they lifted their mask mandates.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Man arrested in Brooklyn subway attack, charged with terror » New York Police on Wednesday slapped handcuffs on the man suspected of shooting 10 people on a Brooklyn subway train.
ADAMS: My fellow New Yorkers, we got him. We got him.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams heard there.
The arrest ended a daylong manhunt. Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell told reporters …
SEWELL: Moments ago, Frank Robert James was stopped on the street and arrested by members of the New York City Police Department. Officers, in response to a CrimeStoppers tip, stopped Mr. James at 1:42 p.m. at the corner of St. Marks Place and First Ave. in Manhattan.
The 62-year-old allegedly deployed a smoke canister in a subway car on Tuesday before opening fire. Five victims are listed in critical condition.
He now faces a federal terrorism charge that could land him behind bars for life.
In recent months, James railed in online videos about racism and violence in the United States and about his experiences with mental health care in New York.
Search and rescue efforts continue in Philippine disaster » In the southern Philippines, rescuers are using tractors and backhoes to dig through tons of earth, twisted steel, and shattered lumber hoping to find more survivors from a spate of deadly landslides. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has more.
ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: At least 56 people have died and dozens remain missing after heavy rain pounded the region for days triggering floods and mudslides.
Army, police, and other rescuers slogged through mud and unstable heaps of earth and debris to find missing villagers.
More rescuers and heavy equipment, including backhoes, arrived Wednesday in villages partially buried by landslides.
Officials recovered 47 bodies in the city of Baybay. Nine other people drowned elsewhere in flooding.
Coast guard, police and firefighters rescued many villagers from their rooftops.
At least 20 storms and typhoons batter the Philippines each year, mostly during the rainy season that begins around June.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: keeping the Postal Service in service.
Plus, lessons for parents over challenging local school leaders.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Thursday the 14th of April, 2022.
Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. First up: saving the Post Office.
Last week, President Biden signed into law the Postal Service Reform Act. It’s intended to make the U.S. Postal Service more financially stable. But there may be downsides.
WORLD’s Josh Schumacher explains.
JOSH SCHUMACHER, REPORTER: During a signing ceremony at the White House, President Biden touted the Postal Service Reform Act as a much-needed financial lifeline for the national mail service.
BIDEN: With this bill, we’re repealing the pre-funding mandate, and setting the postal service on a more sustainable and stable financial footing…
The “pre-funding mandate” required the Postal Service to pay for retiree health benefits 75 years in advance. That meant the Postal Service could never manage to cover all its costs. Repealing that mandate relieves a large share of the agency’s financial burdens, and has long been a goal of Postal Service reformers.
But another measure they’ve long advocated did not get included in the bill: changing delivery requirements. Postal carriers must still make their rounds six days a week, rain or shine. And critics say that means this reform effort may very well fail on its promise to deliver financial viability. Even worse, it may create more problems in the long run.
Kevin Kosar is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and an expert on the Postal Service.
KOSAR: Well, in light of the fact that paper mail volume has declined more than 40 percent over the last 15 years, one thing we might consider doing is delivering mail less than six days per week. That’s a proposal that’s been around for a very long time. And perhaps it had some potential to cut costs. That wasn’t done.
Kosar says the legislation also leaves the Postal Service without a distinct role to play in the 21st century.
KOSAR: We’re just not a paper mail based society any more. Nor are we going to be one in the future. Paper mail is going to continue to atrophy. Meanwhile, we’ve got this massive rise in online shopping…
And that has forced the Postal Service to start delivering a lot more packages—something its delivery system isn’t really designed for. Meanwhile, there are many other package-delivery services already in the marketplace.
KOSAR: And so, you know, it’s an agency that doesn’t have a clear definition for what it should be devoted to, nor does it have a clear plan for how we’re supposed to pay for it. And Congress, unfortunately, has been very hesitant to address the existential question of what should we do with the postal service in the 21st century?
Robert Moffit is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. He says the financial savings measures in the bill don’t really save money. They just move the costs elsewhere.
The Postal Service ended 2020 almost $200 billion dollars in debt. About $75 billion of it came from retiree health care benefits.
MOFFIT: So what they decided to do, in order to solve the Postal Service’s financial problems, is to shift all of the costs of retiree health care from the Postal Service, to the Medicare program…
But those costs still have to be paid for somehow.
MOFFIT: The Medicare program is already in serious trouble. In less than four years, the Medicare Trust Fund, the part of the program that pays for hospital benefits for 63 million seniors is going to face insolvency, which means it’s not going to be able to pay for all those benefits.
Moffit says that by about 2026, unless Congress does something about it, Medicare beneficiaries are going to be faced with a 9 percent cut in benefits. And those benefit cuts will just get deeper and deeper and deeper after that.
Adding a big group of payees to that pot is only going to accelerate the problem.
MOFFIT: They’ve basically poured gasoline on Medicare’s fiscal fire.
Despite those drawbacks, the National Association of Letter Carriers applauded the bill’s passage. Here’s union representative Annette Taylor.
TAYLOR: Mr. President, the Postal Service is an essential facilitator of our democracy and our economy. We know there is more to do to secure long-term viability, but today is a huge step forward.
In a statement, the Postal Service said moving employee healthcare costs to Medicare will help it remain self-funded and keep its balance sheets in the black. And it called the reform bill a key step in completing its Ten Year Strategic Plan to provide excellent service to Americans while achieving financial sustainability.
Kevin Kosar says despite the new challenges on the horizon, consumers can still rely on their local Post Offices, at least for now.
KOSAR: The Postal Service is not going to disappear anytime soon, they can assume that it’s going to be there, and that it can be depended upon.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: relief at the pump.
President Biden recently announced another release of oil supplies from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserves. He’s ordered the release of 1 million barrels of oil per day for six months. And this week he unveiled a plan to produce more corn-based ethanol.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Those were the administration’s latest moves to control soaring energy prices. The national average for regular unleaded is just over $4 dollars per gallon.
Here to help us understand what to expect is Katie Tubb. She is an expert on energy policy and a research fellow at the Center for Energy, Climate, and Environment at the Heritage Foundation.
REICHARD: Katie, good morning!
KATIE TUBB, GUEST: Good morning! Thanks for having me on, Mary.
REICHARD: Glad to have you back. Has the release from the strategic petroleum reserve so far had much of an effect as far as lowering prices at the pump?
TUBB: I think it certainly had some effect. But the problem is it’s not a permanent solution. And so my frustration and I think many people’s frustration with the president’s decision is that he continues to resort to these kind of short term cosmetic fixes to what are much deeper problems about our supply. So, temporary effect, sure, but long term effect, I think there’s a lot more work to be done.
REICHARD: What effect will President Biden’s plan to increase ethanol production have on fuel prices?
TUBB: It kind of depends on where you live. So, E-15 is a higher percentage of ethanol, that’s what President Biden allowed for for the rest of this summer. But most gas stations don’t offer E-15 fuel. If you look at a gas pump, you’ll see E-10, which is what most gas stations offer and are required to offer under the Renewable Fuel Standard, which Congress put in place in 2005, mandating the use of ethanol. So that’s a longer way of saying it depends on where you live, but I don’t think it’s going to help many Americans, and certainly not in the long run.
REICHARD: Many Democratic lawmakers accuse oil companies of price gouging American consumers. Is this scapegoating oil companies for the cameras, or is there something to this accusation of taking advantage of consumers?
TUBB: No, I think this is again another diversion tactic and it’s because oil, crude oil, which is the fundamental component of gasoline, is a commodity that’s globally priced. So, American oil producers, gasoline refiners, they’re competing with prices that are set at a global market. So I think, again, it’s diversion tactics to say that American oil and gasoline producers are running some kind of cabal over American consumers here.
REICHARD: The White House has also criticized energy companies recently, saying some of them have permits to drill on public lands, but they’re not using those permits. What is your response to that?
TUBB: Again, more of the same, unfortunately. So, the way energy production on federal lands and waters works is it’s quite a long and economically intensive process. So, you know, the stats the administration has been relying on, you know, these 12 million acres of leased lands that aren’t producing 9,000 leases that companies aren’t availing themselves of, you know, those sound like big numbers, but I’ll just, you know, 12 million acres again, sounds like a big number, but the federal government manages over 700 million acres just for multiple use purposes. And then you start to look offshore, and the federal government manages well over a billion acres. That’s a billion with a B. So again, 12 million acres isn’t a whole lot. Looking at the leasing side of things, 9,000 leases, again, sounds like why are these oil companies using the leases that they have? But I think the president is either not understanding the process or hoping Americans don’t understand the process of energy production on federal lands. And I think it’s described well by thinking of a funnel, that you get a bunch of leases, and you start to work down to ones that actually have energy that can be produced at all or even just affordably. There’s no guarantee when you get a lease, that there’s actually energy under there, and that you can get it out. So, again, when the administration points to these leases that aren’t being utilized, I think they either don’t understand the process, or they’re not willing to admit that there is a process of actually producing energy on federal lands and waters, for that matter, that’s quite time intensive and quite expensive and at the end of the day, it all comes down to is there even energy there to be produced?
REICHARD: One thing that has helped to bring the national average gas price down a little bit is that a handful of states have suspended their state gas tax for now. In Georgia, for instance, that’s 29 cents per gallon. Is suspending the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents seriously on the table? And would that be a good idea?
TUBB: It hasn’t been pulled off the table. So until it’s pulled off the table, it’s something to be considered. But I don’t think it would actually help Americans and here’s why. The federal gas tax is used to support maintenance of the highway system, or that’s what it’s intended to use. So if we’re not paying for that through the gas tax, we will be paying for it elsewhere in federal spending or in taxes. So really, suspending a gas tax is just shifting that cost elsewhere. And hoping nobody notices. And I think, you know, with all of these things, Mary, we’ve talked about, it all boils down to what I think is more of the root problem. And that’s increasing supply in the United States. There’s a lot of things I think the administration could be doing to get to that root problem. And to, frankly, help our allies do the same. But these other proposals, gas tax holiday, E-15, SPR, these are all I think, very cosmetic, surface level “solutions” to kind of distract from that root problem, which gets frankly to the core of the president’s policies when he talks about energy, climate, and economic vision for this country.
REICHARD: Katie Tubb is an expert on energy policy with the Heritage Foundation. Katie, thanks so much!
TUBB: Mary, thanks for having me on.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: The umpires standing around home plate for Monday night’s game between the Giants and Padres might have thought they were seeing double, if not for the uniforms.
Pitcher Tyler Rogers walked out of the Giants’ dugout to present his team’s lineup card before the game. And relief pitcher Taylor Rogers did the same for the Padres.
NBC Sports captured the moment.
AUDIO: Well, the Rogers brothers both, well, they’re identical twins. And low and behold, the first time they face each other, they’re going to get out and exchange the lineup cards.
Nine other sets of identical twins have played in the big leagues. And this is the fifth time in more than a century that such twins have played in the same game.
Tyler is in his fourth big league season, all with the Giants.
Taylor was just traded to San Diego after spending six seasons playing for the Minnesota Twins!
It’s The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, April 14th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: sheep and those who care for them.
Interesting factoid: in Australia, sheep outnumber people by 3-to-1.
We take you to a retired sheep farmer in Australia’s state of Victoria who reflects on life and the farm. Here’s WORLD correspondent Amy Lewis.
REPORTER AMY LEWIS: Dennis Richmond maneuvers his wheelchair into the driveway of his Inverleigh home. His wife’s immaculate gardens are on the right. Beyond the fence are 5 black-faced sheep. Keeping five sheep is easy compared to the 3,000 Richmond cared for before he retired three years ago.
DENNIS: I’m just 2nd generation wool farmer, sheep grower. My dad started when he was a return soldier from the second World War.
Growing wool started to grow on Richmond.
DENNIS: When I was able to work in the sheds as a kid, I just loved the feel of the wool on my hands, and even the smell. And it just got into my blood, basically, from then, and that was all I wanted to do.
At age 16, he started wool school to learn how to classify a fleece’s fiber-size and quality. But then things took a turn. One day he and his brother were feeding sheep from their ute, or utility truck.
DENNIS: A fox got up, which is enemy number one of the sheep farmer, so we started to chase it, and I got in the back and was trying to shoot it. First corner we got to, we were going quite fast, and I got tipped out. And I was just knocked out and didn’t realize what I’d done to myself.
Two weeks later…
DENNIS: I had really severe backache, and went to bed one night, and woke up, and couldn’t feel from my chest down. It just cut me off, yeah, at the T4 level.
A blood clot had formed around his spinal cord, paralyzing most of his body. After 10 months of post-op and rehab, he regained some use of his legs. He left the Melbourne hospital on crutches, still determined to be a wool classer, even as an incomplete paraplegic.
DENNIS: I took on the hard work. It was a little bit of an extra challenge, but once I realized that I could do it, it really spurred me on.
For 10 hours a day he stood and classed wool.
DENNIS: It was at the start a bit tiring. But as I got 2-3 years down the track, it actually was helping me, physically, to overcome the disability I had, ‘cause it was keeping me fit…
Eventually, Richmond married. He and his wife Marilyn ran about 3,000 sheep on his father’s property. But life wasn’t easy.
DENNIS: We did have quite a few bad years when we were first going…
His disability also gave farming an extra challenge.
DENNIS: Well, physically I couldn’t run. Which obviously I had to be a bit smarter if I wanted to catch animals.
An ATV four-wheeler was especially helpful in moving more quickly. The animals he had to catch were Merino sheep growing ultrafine wool. Wool is measured in microns or millionths of a meter. A human hair is about 70 microns thick. His sheep’s wool was 15 microns.
But sheep are more than the sum of their products.
AUDIO: [Sheep scrabbling]
DENNIS: Sheep are sort of known for being a bit cantankerous. It’s almost as if they’ve got their will and they don’t want their will broken as well. When you get a bit older you realize they’re only trying to either (be a sheep) be a sheep, to either get out of the situation you’ve put them in….
Richmond and his wife had three sons.
DENNIS: And the last one, our youngest, was affected by the smell of the wool the same as I was, apparently. Because he would sit in the wool all day when we were shearing, even when he was a young fellow…
Three years ago, Richmond ended up fulltime in the wheelchair. Their youngest son, Mark, took over the business.
DENNIS: And he’s doing an excellent job. I feel like I was just caretaking for him to take over.
Mark learned the business side of sheep farming at agricultural college. He’s diversifying the business to include meat sheep, while also winning ribbons for his excellent wool. While he builds up the business, he works for an income off-farm shearing other people’s sheep and gleaning from their experience.
It’s not just about the wool.
MARK: Realistically, we’re not only in charge of the sheep, we’re in charge of 540 hectares here, so that incorporates all the animals and everything else, that’s in the soil…
These sheep growers know that caring for sheep means pastures of green grass, still water, and protecting them from enemies.
MARK: It all ties in together. If you’re gonna treat the sheep badly and try to be as tight as possible with what you’re doing, how you’re feeding them and stuff like that, and they’re not productive, you’re shut, slamming the door on your own foot.
Mark cares for his sheep. And they know the sound of his horn.
AUDIO: [Sheep, beep]
Being a sheep farmer is more than a job for father and son—it’s their life.
DENNIS: I used to love being down the paddock, just being with them. I would often disappear and just go and sit in the paddock with them, particularly on a nice day, wouldn’t I? I would disappear with the dog, and I’d lie down on the ground and the dog would lie next to me and yeah…
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Amy Lewis in Inverleigh, Victoria, Australia.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, April 14th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Here now is commentator Cal Thomas.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: The battle over whether parents or public schools should decide what goes into the minds and souls of students has entered a second stage.
The Washington Times reports LGBTQ activist groups are complaining about parents who object to children as young as 5 being taught alternative ideas about gender.
Deborah Caldwell-Stone directs the disingenuously named Office of Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association. She’s quoted by the newspaper as saying, “A parent or group should not have the right to restrict through government action what another parent’s child may choose to read.” That will come as a surprise to many parents who have a right to believe their child’s school lunch will not contain harmful substances, as well as the right to keep their kids from having a secular-progressive political agenda tainting their minds.
Caldwell-Stone has it backward. It’s not the conservative and religious parents who have stirred up this hornet’s nest. It’s the left-wing secularists who are indoctrinating children and stealing their innocence. I suspect many parents want teachers to stick to traditional subjects. Parents can teach whatever they wish to their kids at home. The public schools should focus on catching up to China on subjects like science and math, as well as teaching the full breadth of American history.
Caldwell-Stone apparently missed the significance of last November’s election in Virginia. Gov. Glenn Younkin rode to victory largely on the issue of parental rights. Last week, Youngkin signed into law a measure that requires the state’s schools to notify parents if their children are assigned books or other materials with sexually explicit content.
In New Jersey, educators are taking the opposite approach. According to the New York Post, first graders will learn in sex education classes “gender, gender identity, and gender role stereotypes” from a film called Pink, Blue and Purple. Let’s see how long it will take New Jersey parents to follow those in Virginia and show up at school board meetings, demanding the right to protect their children from what the education establishment and left-wing activists want to impose on them.
How is it that parents are encouraged to exercise control over their child’s computer and movie choices, but when it comes to schooling they’re told to butt-out?
I doubt cries of “censorship” from the American Library Association will have the impact it did in the 1980s. That’s when the organization made similar claims about intellectual freedom over sexually suggestive books some wanted banned from libraries.
Few, if any, issues rank higher for parents than the well-being of their children. Now’s the time for every parent with children in public school to start showing up at school board meetings. Demand your right to be their primary educator and the ultimate authority over what they learn.
If it worked in Virginia, it can work anywhere.
I’m Cal Thomas.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Tomorrow: John Stonestreet joins us for Culture Friday.
And, grassroots journalism. We’ll tell you about two documentaries that highlight the importance of local reporting.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Mary Reichard.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Mryna Brown.
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