Up To Date | KCUR

Up To Date

Weekdays at 11 a.m.

Up To Date focuses on pressing issues, both local and national, including politics, economics, planning and design, history and culture — topics that have an impact on the lives of the Greater Kansas City region.

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Coming up the week of September 23, 2019:

  • Monday: Kansas City's Rental Inspection Program / Indie Film Critics
  • Tuesday: "Over the Santa Fe Trails to Mexico"
  • Wednesday: University of Missouri System President Mun Choi / Black Maternal & Infant Mortality Rates
  • Thursday: NPR's Scott Horsley
  • Friday: NPR's Shankar Vedantam

Author delivers second novel featuring a teenage black female superhero.

L.L. McKinney's experience in the publishing industry as a woman of color has required a patience and persistence but it has resulted in two young adult novels. Both revolve around the heroine Alice caught up in a Wonderland very different from the Lewis Carroll original.  McKinney talked about the importance of representation in fantasy fiction and said when it comes to writing for teens, "You have to come at them with respect, with understanding."

Jamie Hobbs / KCUR 89.3

Public defense attorneys are often overworked and underpaid, leaving them vulnerable to negative mental health consequences.

“I have a number of lawyers who will talk about their anxiety… waking up at night, or family issues,” says Ruth Petsch, who oversees the Kansas City public defenders office.

Each of the office's 35 attorneys is assigned 100 or more cases, and the pressure is steadily getting worse.

Segment 1: Heavy caseloads and long hours are taking a toll on Missouri's public defenders.

Officials say public defenders in Kansas City, Missouri, are sometimes handling more than 100 cases at a time, and staffing and workload situations have been dire for years. We speak with leaders of the public defender's office to find out how those pressures are affecting attorneys' mental health and the ability of clients to get a fair trial.

He brings us local news highlights with his primetime public affairs TV program each weekand his journalistic experience spans from the BBC to Kansas Public Radio. Nick Haines is rarely the one answering the questions, but today he shares an exclusive look at what makes KCPT's Kansas City Week in Review happen every Friday.

Segment 1: A Missouri man is free after spending 23 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit.

With his newfound freedom, Ricky Kidd said he's excited to be a "responsible citizen and embrace the freedom that should have never been taken away from me in the first place." The Midwest Innocence Project attributes part of the failed system to an overworked public defenders office, and it's costing people like Kidd their lives.

Ever since the teams’ first meeting in Oakland, nearly 60 years ago, the rivalry between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders has been considered one of the bitterest in the NFL. After this past Sunday it will never be quite the same. Commentator Victor Wishna explains why, in this month’s edition of 'A Fan’s Notes.'

On Sunday the Kansas City Chiefs made what is most likely their final trip to Oakland for one last dance in the dirt.

Can you land an airplane on the deck of a submarine? Can you build a swimming pool out of cheese? Can you lift a house with two helicopters glued together? These are the strange and hypothetical questions that inspire Randall Munroe, whose internet-famous comic series xkcd is known for its stick figure cast and impractical wit. Dig deep enough for answers, and you may just learn a lesson in science.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The results of global climate change are becoming readily apparent, and it’s affecting the younger generations inheriting a world of extreme weather.

Segment 1: Kansas City area officials adapting strategies for climate mitigation  

Since December 2018,  governments in the Kansas City region have been working to make their cities and counties climate resilient.  Two people behind the Metro KC Climate Action Coalition explained how everything from direct renewables agreements to LEED zero standard development are among the tools being used to meet that goal.

Segment 1: What Kansas City area organizations are doing to reduce gun violence 

In 2017, firearms killed nearly 40,000 people with 60% of those being suicides. Every year 1,500 children die from guns including those left unlocked in the home. This week in Kansas City, Missouri five persons died in a 24-hour period from gun-related incidents.  Three women deeply involved in these issues expressed frustration, desperation and determination about reducing gun violence. 

Segment 1: Gun policy specialist says the gun control debate needs to shift.

In his book "Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America," constitutional law specialist Adam Winkler examines how Americans approach the gun control debate. He explained the need to concentrate on ending everyday gun violence rather than mass shootings, and says gun rights and gun control are not mutually exclusive.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR 89.3 file photo

There's a serious teacher shortage in Kansas City and across the country, as fewer people pursue a career that often involves low pay, high stress and lack of community support.

Missouri’s teaching colleges are battling that trend, trying new strategies to attract students pursuing education degrees and to answer a vital need for quality instructors in every classroom.

Segment 1: Young adults are making life decisions with their carbon footprints top of mind.

From your morning ablutions to your night on the town, every action you take these days impacts the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Young people are acutely aware of this, and it's changing the day-to-day and long-term decisions they make in life.

Segment 1: The most reliable source of qualified teachers now produces half the candidates it once did.

The number of undergraduate education degrees awarded every year peaked in the early 1970s at almost 194,000. Today that number is less than 92,000. Two college deans discuss the challenges of bringing future teachers into the education major, meeting the need for special education and bilingual educators, and graduating teachers more reflective of today's diverse communities.

Virgin Hyperloop One

It sounds like science fiction hype, but supporters believe ultrafast Hyperloop transportation could become reality within a decade, propelling passengers from Kansas City to St. Louis in a 30-minute trip.

“We’ve already completed a feasibility study, and now we’re on to the next steps with this. It’s happening quicker than even I would have guessed,” said KC Tech Council President Ryan Weber, who is working with numerous other Missouri officials on a project that he predicted could be implemented in about seven years.

Segment 1: XP-1, a possible future mode of high-speed transportation, will be on display in Kansas City.

The Hyperloop test pod known as XP-1 is leaving its test site in Nevada and making a stop Kansas City. One expert said, rather than investing in additional lanes for I-70, the multi-billion-dollar hyperloop project could be a more effective use of land, money, and time for travelers between St. Louis and Kansas City. Learn more about the feasibility and funding of the future of transportation. 

Segment 1: "All genocides ... begin with words," says one Emory professor concerned about a rise in anti-Semitic rhetoric. 

Anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world, concerning scholars and Jewish communities. Money that could be spent in programming and outreach is being redirected to security measures for area Jewish Centers. "The fear in the community is palpable," says Gavriela Geller, executive director for Jewish Commuity Relations Bureau-American Jewish Committee.

Heather Sexton

Sexual assault remains a serious problem within the U.S. military, despite repeated efforts in Congress and the armed forces over the past five years to address it.

The Defense Department’s latest report estimated 20,500 service members were sexually assaulted in 2018, the highest number in four years. Many service members complain they face retaliation when they try to report the abuse, while nothing happens to the alleged perpetrators.

Segment 1: A new state system to determine Medicaid eligibility is under fire.

In Missouri this year, Medicaid enrollment numbers have dropped at more than twice the national rate, topping 7%. This means 120,000 people, including tens of thousands of children, have been dropped from the program. We heard answers as to why this is happening and how the state can and should respond.

Segment 1: School across Kansas and Missouri struggle each year to fill teaching positions.

Having enough teachers to fill classrooms is a perennial problem for schools in all parts of the Kansas City metro. Raytown Schools has created a novel way to address the shortage in their district, but several factors, including pay, are working against Missouri and Kansas districts' efforts to attract and retain qualified talent.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Missouri law severely limits Kansas City’s gun-control powers. But three rookie city council members say there’s still a lot the city can do to combat its violent crime crisis.

Segment 1: Council rookies relate what the first month on the job has been like.

In her first weeks on the Kansas City City Council Andrea Bough realized, "it puts you in the position of ... making a decision based upon what's good for the city as a whole." She and other fellow first-timers talk about learning how the council operates, and the urgent issues, like gun violence, that were waiting for them when they arrived.

Segment 1: Lawmakers from urban districts want their counterparts from rural Missouri to come witness the devestation guns create in their cities.

Members of Missouri's Legislative Black Caucus expressed frustration with Gov. Mike Parson for his unwillingness to take up gun violence in next month's special session. They say they're not shocked, but disheartened, by the lack of urgency to address the issue.

Segment 1: State task force on bullying looks to multiple stakeholders for information on harmful harassing behavior 

The Kansas Department of Education has brought together educators, legislators, students and others to garner recommendations as part of its efforts "to better understand how to combat" bullying. The co-chair of the task force discussed how big the problem is, the impact of technology as a means of bullying and why application of the state policies on bullying may not be applied equally by school districts across Kansas.    

The Making Of Koch Industries

Aug 27, 2019

You won't see its name on many products but the Wichita-based conglomerate touches the lives of most Americans.

Charles and David Koch took their father's oil-refining business and converted it into the second largest privately held corporation in North America. Business writer Chris Leonard discussed what has been behind the brothers' success, their past transgressions against Native Americans and environmental law, and their influence on American politics.

Segment 1: Port KC wields power beyond the banks of the Missouri River.

The goal of Port KC, is to drive economic development in Kansas City, Missouri, but many are questioning the agency's ability to act without answering to municipal voters or elected officials. Today, the organization's chief lends his perspective to the conversation, and defends their conduct when it comes to awarding tax incentives and taking on projects that are miles from the Port of Kansas City.

Segment 1: Nursing homes in Kansas can be a "black hole" for people with mental illness 

Red flags are being raised about a lack of mental health resources in Kansas, and the affect it's having on people's ability to move into independent living situations. In that state, patients who don't need to be institutionalized but aren't quite ready for independence sometimes end up in nursing homes. The problem is keeping that stop-gap measure from becoming permanent.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

As the homicide count in Kansas City continues to creep up and mass shootings happen regularly across the country, religious leaders from the suburbs to the city are finding it increasingly necessary to address the violence.

"We see a lot of memes, Facebook, and social media about 'thoughts and prayers are not going to take us much further' but, indeed, prayer is the foundation of the church," says the Rev. Laurie Anderson, minister of church life at Rolling Hills Presbyterian Church in Overland Park.

Segment 1: Addressing gun violence from the pulpit

Local leaders looking for a fix to the gun violence problem in Kansas City have tried policy solutions of their own, and have begged for legislative action from the General Assembly in Jefferson City. Progress, though, has been limited. Will turning to a higher power help? We ask local faith leaders what role their churches have in curbing gun violence.

Segment 1: Davids discusses gun violence, antisemetism and hate, and "Sharice's Shifts"

The August break that federal legislators get is often called a recess, but Rep. Sharice Davids' schedule suggests it's anything but. While back in her home district, Davids shares the concerns she's been hearing from her constituents, and the issues she's focused on for the next session.

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