Sheilah Kast

Host, Midday

Sheilah Kast is the host of Midday, Monday-Friday 12-1 pm.  Originally, she hosted WYPR's  Dupont-Columbia University award-winning Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast from 2006 - October 2015.  She began her career at The Washington Star, where she covered the Maryland and Virginia legislatures, utilities, energy and taxes, as well as financial and banking regulation.  She learned the craft of broadcasting at ABC News; as a Washington correspondent for fifteen years, she covered the White House, Congress, and the 1991 Moscow coup that signaled the end of the Soviet empire.  Sheilah has been a substitute host on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Diane Rehm Show.  She has launched and hosted two weekly interview shows on public TV, one about business and one about challenges facing older people.

Ways to Connect

Courtesy Sagamore Development

The company behind the planned Port Covington development has reached a 30-year, multi-million-dollar agreement with six South Baltimore neighborhoods. The deal also sets up a group, made up of members of Sagamore Development and the communities, to oversee how the nearly $40 million dollars worth of funding is disbursed. The communities’ wish-list includes a library, police substation, and after-school programs. Supporters say this deal is too good to pass up, but opponents question if it goes far enough on jobs or affordable housing. And all this hinges on the City Council’s approval of a $660 million dollar tax-increment-financing deal, the largest in Baltimore history. 

Andreas-photography/Flickr via Creative Commons

For years, Maryland courts held that parental rights were limited to biological and adoptive parents. This month, Maryland’s highest court overturned that policy, ruling that adults involved in raising a child may be considered “de facto parents.” Today, we’ll look at the implications for LGBT parents and also for blended families. What does this mean for the rights and responsibilities of former step-parents and other adults who help raise a child? Does this decision reflect a shift in how courts consider the interests of children? We’ll speak to an attorney who has pioneered legal protections for LGBT couples, and to state Senator Rich Madaleno, whose proposal for de facto parents died in the 2015 General Assembly. What makes a parent?

How are you? Ask most anyone, and the answer you’ll get is busy. We are nation starved for free time. Many of us live in a state of perpetual motion, bouncing from one obligation to the next: Work, childcare, grocery shopping, cooking, bills, laundry, more work. It’s hard to find time for sleep, let alone that forgotten indulgence, leisure. And in some circles, being busy has become a badge of honor. How did we get here? Is public policy to blame or are we bringing this on ourselves? How much of our busyness is in our heads? And what can we do to find peace? The cult of busy.

Five years ago, uprisings in Egypt, Libya, and other Arab countries seemed to herald a transformation of the region’s politics. Today, the Middle East has devolved into failed states and proxy wars, while ISIS has seized vast territory and inspired terror across the globe. What went wrong? Was the Arab Spring a failure or a flash point in the long-term struggle for democratic change? Political scientist Marc Lynch argues that the United States would make a mistake if it defaulted to the imagined stability of authoritarian regimes. Marc Lynch joins Midday to discuss the balance of power in the Middle East, the devastation of Syria, and why Islamic extremism is growing. His latest book is "The New Arab Wars: Uprisings and Anarchy in the Middle East".

Gilda/Flickr via Creative Commons

Leather created by microbes. Bacteria genetically engineered to prevent malaria. In community labs around the world, a growing number of amateur scientists with little academic background are learning the ins and outs of biotechnology. Like computer hackers before them, they hope to democratize a complex technology. What are they working on? Is it risky to let amateurs tinker with the code of life? Or should we all learn these skills as biotechnology increasingly alters our everyday lives? 

House GOP / Flickr via Creative Commons

We’ll start with a round-up of political headlines: Enoch Pratt CEO Carla Hayden confirmed as head of the Library Congress; an update on the Maryland U.S. Senate race, and a look at the Democratic and Republican party platforms. We’ll talk with the Baltimore Sun’s John Fritze. Then, Congressman Elijah Cummings, chair of the Democrats’ platform committee, discusses some of its planks - which include criminal-justice reforms, a $15 minimum wage and free in-state tuition at public colleges.

Zoos. Many of us went to them as children. Many of us take our own children to them. But public outcry over keeping wild animals captive has grown in recent years. SeaWorld plans to stop breeding orcas after widespread criticism of their treatment. The Ringling Brothers retired their circus elephants this year. The city of Buenos Aires has announced it will permanently close its 140-year-old zoo. And the National Aquarium in Baltimore plans to send its dolphins to a sanctuary. Is it the beginning of the end for zoos and aquariums? What is the role of these institutions in our society? Do the benefits outweigh the costs?

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. More than 2 million Americans are currently behind bars. But reformers on both sides of the aisle are finding common ground on everything from cutting back on mandatory minimum sentencing to limiting solitary confinement. Conservatives are among the loudest voices calling for an end to mass incarceration. How did this happen? How did tough-on-crime conservatives come to fight for prison reform? And what can this rare area of agreement teach us about bipartisanship in a polarized age? A new book by two Johns Hopkins University political scientists seeks to answer these questions. Why have conservatives turned against mass incarceration?

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis joins Midday to share his reaction to last week’s violence  --two black men shot by police, in Baton Rouge and near Minneapolis, and five police officers killed by a black sniper in Dallas, after a Black Lives Matter march. We ask Davis what police are doing to confront violent crime, including near-daily homicides. We ask about the number of officers who have left the department and what’s being done to fill those vacancies, as well as what to expect from the U.S. Justice Department’s review of Baltimore. Plus a look at Baltimore’s new policy about using force, the first full rewrite in more than a decade. And your questions for Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.

Snipers in Dallas killed five police officers Thursday night, the deadliest attack on law enforcement since September 11th. The shooting occurred at the end of a protest following the fatal shootings of African-American men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota. What does this shooting mean for the Black Lives Matter movement? How does the path forward look for those calling for police reform? Professors Karsonya Wise Whitehead and Lawrence Brown join us to discuss what Dallas means for the future of protests. And Baltimore Police Lt. Kenneth Butler, president of a local group for black police officers, shares his reaction to last week’s violence.