About The Takeaway
The Takeaway is the national morning news program that delivers the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what's ahead. Host John Hockenberry, along with the The New York Times and WGBH Boston, invites listeners every morning to learn more and be part of the American conversation on-air and online.
In The Takeaway John Hockenberry returns to his roots in public radio, where he was one of the medium's original innovators after 15 years in network and cable television. Hockenberry has also been recognized for his pioneering online content, hosts the award-winning public radio series The DNA Files, is a weeky commentator for the series The Infinite Mind and currently sits as a Distinguished Fellow at the prestigious MIT Media Lab.
The Takeaway is a unique partnership of global news leaders. It is a co-production of PRI (Public Radio International) and WNYC Radio in collaboration with The New York Times and WGBH Boston.The Takeaway is produced at WNYC in New York. You can support this program directly with a donation to The Takeaway.
In this week's Movie Date podcast, Rafer and Kristen grapple with two very different interpretations of life after death, in "Heaven is For Real" and "Transcendence." The first is a faith-based film based on a real memoir, starring Greg Kinnear. The second is a sci-fi thriller about the melding of mind and computer, starring Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall. One of them has Rafer yelling about it being the worst movie of the year. The other has Kristen wondering whether Jesus really has blue-green eyes. Also on the podcast: A look at the new FX series, "Fargo," which is based on the 1996 film of the same name; listener mail about films with social messages; and, as always, trivia!
According to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, New York City and San Francisco have nearly the same proportion of homeless residents: About eight percent of each city's population in 2013.
But in most California cities, homelessness is often more visible than on the East Coast. In San Francisco, more than 61 percent of the homeless population is considered unsheltered. In New York, that number is just five percent.
San Francisco has seen dramatic changes over the last few years. The tech boom has driven up the cost of living, and as rents skyrocket, some longtime San Franciscans have charged that the city's newcomers have a lack empathy for well-established residents, including the homeless.
Kevin Adler hopes to change that. His Homeless GoPro project does exactly what the name suggests—he gives portable GoPro Cameras to homeless citizen volunteers to document their experiences for all to watch on the web.
While Adler's project has already attracted critics, who argue that a camera hardly addresses the needs of homeless residents, he's also found a friend and ally of the project in his first volunteer, Adam Reichart, who has been homeless in San Francisco for six years.
"It's almost like doing a social experiment where you get to learn a lot about people's behavior," says Reichart of the project. "I've noticed, especially over the last two or three years, that people are really starting to lose their empathy and compassion towards humanity, not just with homeless but in general."
For Adler, the images and videos that Homeless GoPro provides can engage society's sense of empathy.
"Empathy is a very powerful force," says Adler. "It's a way to have a more established, shared concept of human dignity, which I think is important for all of the other types of service organizations that do provide the essential homes, shelters and food and other indispensable needs of homeless individuals."
Alder says that while many young people already utilize accessible documenting technologies likes mobile phones or digital cameras, homeless populations are often excluded from our selfie-driven culture.
"Homeless individuals have their own lives and we don't yet have a great snapshot of what their daily experiences and interactions are," says Adler. "The idea is to use a little bit of technology to extend that and empower their voices and share their stories."
While some may view the project as exploitive, Alder says that the project comes out of his own personal experience.
"My Uncle Mark was homeless for 30 years and he lived on and off the streets," he says. "He had schizophrenia, and he died about 10 years ago. He was found by himself in a halfway house, so I think empathy is a pretty good thing to build everywhere. Certainly in the kind of divisive environment in which we're in with the debate around tech workers and affordable housing, we're not wanting to be on either side of the debate. We're all people, we're all in this together, we're one city, and this is a way to help better connect the city through a little bit of empathy and a little bit of technology."
When it comes to affordable housing, Reichart agrees that tech workers in San Francisco do drive up prices and make it more difficult for people like him to find a place to reside.
"I just had some medical procedures done this week and I had to get a place so I wanted to rent a hotel for a week," says Reichart. "It cost me $350 for a week in a room with no toilet, no sink, and no shower. The same room three to five years ago would've $100 or $150."
Though the experiment just began, it seems to be yielding positive results already. Earlier this month, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on the Homeless GoPro project, which has been increasing awareness locally of the circumstances currently facing Reichart.
"I'll refer to something Adam told me after the first San Francisco Chronicle article ran," says Adler. "He said, 'The money has increased a little, but the humanity has increased a lot. It's lifting my spirits, and making me want to better myself.' He estimated that 75 to 100 people over the last few days have recognized him, expressed appreciation for what he's doing, and said, 'Adam, I've seen you here for years but I haven't had a better sense of who you are and your back story.'"
Reichart says that people have reached out to him with positive affirmations and said that work he is doing with Homeless GoPro has inspired them.
"If I could just touch one person's life out of all this, it will make me satisfied that I did something with this project," says Reichart. "One guy said he was going to volunteer at a homeless place in Germany, and another guy said he was going to volunteer locally here. That makes me feel good in my heart about this whole project. I feel like, to a point, we've already accomplished a little bit of something."
While Reichart says he wants to get off the streets, the project is also an important tool to raise awareness.
"I want to be able to wake up a lot of people and make them see what it's really like out here," says Reichart. "It's not all fun and games."
Listen to the full interview for more discussion from Adler and Reichart.
While violence escalates in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia militants have taken control of Donetsk, Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, have reached an agreement to deescalate the crisis in Ukraine.
President Barack Obama stressed the need for caution in a press conference yesterday. “I don't think we can be sure of anything at this point. I think there is the possibility—the prospect—that diplomacy may deescalate the situation and more towards what has always been our goal, which is to let the Ukrainians make their own decisions about their lives."
In a conversation with The Takeaway, Zbigniew Brzezinski echoes President Obama's cautious optimism. Brzezinski, who served as National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter and is now an advisor to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says that ultimately, an agreement must establish a special status for Ukraine that recognizes it's unique proximity to and entanglement with Russian geography and history.
"[The agreement] seems to indicate at least some limited accommodation on the most immediate, practical issues," says Brzezinski. "As far as I can tell, as of now, it doesn't address the larger issue of the long-term relationship of Ukraine to Europe, to Russia, and whether it's possible to have some sort of understanding between east and west."
The special status Brzenzinski would like to see for Ukraine would be similar to that of Finland—a non-NATO member that claims self-imposed neutrality driven by a fear of its large, powerful neighbor. Unlike Ukraine, Finland has a robust tech economy, and its population is very homogenous. Though Ukraine doesn't have a very sturdy self-sustaining economy like Finland, Brzezinski believes the nation can prevail independently if is properly managed.
"It is much more desperate by than Finland, but it is a desperation created by mismanagement of what potentially are major assets," he says. "Ukraine could easily be the breadbasket for Europe, and in fact, the Chinese are showing interest in having it as a breadbasket for China. It has an industry which the Russians are relying on quite a bit, and that makes it productive and they get paid for it. It has a good labor force—a really hard working labor force—it just has been totally mismanaged by its recent leadership."
Brzenzinski says that Ukraine's previous leaders acted like "kleptomaniacs," adding that the people at the top of society enriched themselves at the expense of the rest of the Ukrainian population.
"It's a scandal, but it can be corrected," he says. "But the Ukrainians will have to tighten their belts and work hard if they want to be independent. Nothing comes free in this world, and independence has to be earned—it's not a gift."
Though independence isn't free, neither is annexation. Russia will have to pay a substantial bill in Crimea to raise salaries and subsidize industries that are no longer supported by Ukraine. Brzenzinski, however, feels that there is no reason why Russia should keep part of Ukraine under a negotiated agreement.
He also takes issue with Putin's reasoning for action in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, which was to protect ethnic Russians.
"It's a little bit of a myth that Ukrainians are multinational," says Brzenzinski. "First of all, they're Ukrainian, though some speak Ukrainian and others speak Russian. There is a Russian minority in Ukraine, but by the way, there is an even larger minority of Ukrainians living in Russia. Should they have a special status? Don't let the Russians pose as great promoters of ethnic and linguistic autonomy, unless they practice it themselves."
Listen to the full interview for more analysis from Brzenzinski.
Also on Today's Show
Begins at 08:35: The fate of 115 female students abducted by Boko Haram remains uncertain. Several have managed to escape by jumping off trucks or slipping into the forest, but dozens are still missing amid fears they will be forced into sex slavery. For an update on this harrowing situation, we turn to Bronwyn Bruton, deputy director of The Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.
Begins at 21:29: According to the White House, 8 million people have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. But that might not be the magic number. It could be 35—about 35 percent of the 8 million people who have signed up are under age 35. Todd Zwillich, Takeaway Washington Correspondent, explains.
Begins at 25:55: Friday is movie day on The Takeaway. This week, our Movie Date team discusses this weekend’s big new releases, which include "Transcendence" and "Heaven is for Real." The Movie Date Podcast is co-hosted by Rafer Guzman, film critic for Newsday, and Kristen Meinzer, culture producer for The Takeaway. You can always subscribe to the Movie Date Podcast or listen to old episodes at MovieDatePodcast.org.
Begins at 30:53: For most of us humans, paying $10,000 to share a luxury plane—even if the seats do turn into beds—might seem like a complete rip-off. But airliners go to great lengths to design premium-class seating. In a new article in The New Yorker, reporter David Owen visits a leading designer of custom aircraft interiors to better understand how aircrafts attract their wealthiest customers.
Like the music you hear on The Takeaway? Check out our playlist from today's show.
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Next Monday, 36,000 runners will participate in the 118th Boston Marathon. We don't know who will be the first to cross the finish line yet, but we do know who will be the last.
Longtime race director Dave McGillvray likes to wait for all the runners to finish before he hits the course in the evening. He won't turn down Boylston Street until well into the night. He has run 41 Boston Marathons and overseen the last 26.
Until last year's race, all that was on McGillvray's mind in the lead-up to the marathon was the weather, always asking himself, "Will it be warm and sunny for the runners? Or will those clouds on the horizon rain everyone out?" But this year it's the emotional weather in people's hearts that he is thinking about.
"Quite honestly, I have never experienced anything like this," he says. "I don't think there ever has been or will be a sporting event that has this level of emotion."
McGillvray says that despite heightened levels of security, from the outside, the finish line will look the same as it always has—and Monday will be another opportunity for the world to witness Boston's resilience and the marathon's spirit.