Sheilah Kast | WYPR

Sheilah Kast

Host, On The Record

Sheilah Kast is the host of On The Record, Monday-Friday, 9:30-10:00 am.  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.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says drinking alcohol during pregnancy is the leading preventable cause of birth defects and intellectual disabilities. The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome -- NOFAS - estimates that upwards of 17,000 school children in Maryland may suffer with the consequences of prenatal exposure to alcohol. We speak to Kathy Mitchell, vice president of NOFAS and the birth mother of a daughter with fetal alcohol syndrome. 

Some research indicates men may be almost as likely as women to be victims of sexual assault. Yet we rarely think of them in that light. We hear from psychologist Dr. Andrew Smiler, a leading expert on the masculine self and a board member of MaleSurvivor, an advocacy organization for male victims of sexual assault. Then we turn to Kenneth Rogers, Jr., a Baltimore schoolteacher who has written a book about his experience as a victim. It took him two decades to face the abuse he suffered--in part, he says, because of his gender. He will read and discuss his book at the Waverly Branch of the Enoch Pratt Library on Saturday at 3pm. 

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Imagine - you’re in your car, and you hit some traffic. But you don’t have to lift a finger because your self-driving cars slows down on its own. The U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland was recently designated by the federal government a site for trying out self-driving cars. 

You may feel that you’ve heard more about the American working class in the last year than in the previous decade and a half combined. Could be. There have been books--like Nancy Isenberg’s "White Trash" and J.D.Vance’s "Hillbilly Elegy"--explaining attitudes of and about the working class. More pointedly, Donald Trump highlighted the frustration of the working class and harnessed it to build his campaign’s momentum. While much of the public may have been overlooking the working class for years, Johns Hopkins sociologist Andrew Cherlin has been paying it a lot of attention, and drawing links between what’s going on in the economy and what’s going on in families. In 2014 Cherlin, who is the Benjamin H. Griswold III Professor of Public Policy, published “Labor’s Love Lost: The Rise and Fall of the Working-Class Family in America.” 

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The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth has had trouble bringing inner-city kids into its programs. African-American kids from lower socioeconomic backgrounds haven’t done well on the standardized tests the center typically uses. So the Center is looking for new ways to identify bright kids from underserved neighborhoods. The result is the Baltimore Emerging Scholars Program. Program manager Andrew Moss and Amy Lynne Shelton, director of research at the Center and a professor and associate dean for research in the Johns Hopkins School of Education, both join us. We also hear the impressions of 4th-grader Santino Vaughan, who seemed impressed with an astronomy lesson involving a grapefruit and a flashlight. “We saw the phases of the moon," he says. "We saw the crescent moon, we saw the half moon, we saw the gibbous moon, and then we saw the full moon.” 

Comedian and Baltimore native Meshelle shares her story of moving from the city to the suburbs when she was little. Her story has been edited for brevity. 

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Open enrollment for Obamacare closes at midnight Tuesday, and Marylanders seem to be signing up for it at almost the same pace they did last year. We’ll talk with the acting head of the ‘Maryland Health Benefits Exchange’ about premium increases and other challenges--including confusion about what might replace the Affordable Care Act when Congress repeals it. And we’ll turn to a professor of health policy and management to discuss some elements the Republican congressional majority is considering.

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Do juvenile offenders in Maryland, sentenced to life with the possibility of parole, have a realistic opportunity for release? A federal judge heard arguments on this question this month, in a lawsuit filed on behalf of three men, now in their 50s, who were sentenced as teenagers. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled it’s unconstitutional to juveniles to life without the chance of parole. We discuss the case with Walter Lomax, executive director of the Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative.

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Research suggests that the human appetite for seafood could decimate the world’s fisheries in three decades if we don’t change our ways. What can consumers do to be part of the solution? We hear from TJ Tate, director of the National Aquarium’s Sustainable Seafood Program, about fish you can buy with a clear conscience. Then Beth Lowell of the nonprofit conservation group Oceana joins us to talk about seafood fraud; she shares tips for getting the fish you think you’re getting. For example: “Buy as close to the whole fish as possible. The more processing that’s happened to a piece of fish--like the skin, the fins, the heads all removed--the better opportunity for seafood fraud to happen.” 

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Every day doctors write more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In some of those cases, addiction follows. As a result, deaths from prescription opioids have more than quadrupled since 1999. My guest today has a unique vantage point on the problem. Travis Rieder is a bioethicist at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute for Bioethics, and he personally experienced a dependence on opioids. He wrote about it in the January issue of the journal “Health Affairs,” and a portion of that article was excerpted in the Washington Post. He joins Sheilah in studio.