On Point

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Go behind the headlines: From the economy and health care to politics and the environment – and so much more – On Point hosts Meghna Chakrabarti and David Folkenflik speak with newsmakers and real people about the issues that matter most. On Point is produced by WBUR for NPR.

WBUR & NPR


    • Dec 1, 2021 LATEST EPISODE
    • daily NEW EPISODES
    • 42m AVG DURATION
    • 641 EPISODES

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    Latest episodes from On Point

    A rekindled Cold War? A reality check on the narrative around U.S.-China tensions

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 1, 2021 47:25

    The U.S. is locked in another "great powers" conflict, this time with China. That's what you'll often hear in Washington. But is a Cold War era analogy the right one for modern China?

    First Person: Activist Tiana Caldwell on finding strength in the face of eviction

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 30, 2021 8:09

    Tiana Caldwell lives in Kansas City, Missouri. And when On Point first spoke with her in May 2020, Tiana had been furloughed from her job and had just received an eviction notice from her landlord. In this radio diary, she joins us with an update on her life. "I fought, I didn't just lay down. It makes you feel like you are not powerless," she says.

    Tracking unspent pandemic relief funds

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 30, 2021 47:23

    $800 billion in COVID relief funds still hasn't made it to the American people. In Pennsylvania, $2.5 billion of that aid is being moved to the state's “rainy day fund.” We track unspent pandemic relief funds. Marc Goldwein, Rep. Torren Ecker and Claudia Sahm join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    What's driving the pandemic's health care exodus

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 29, 2021 47:08

    1 in 5 American health care workers have left the profession since the pandemic hit. The pandemic has pushed what was already a tough situation into crisis mode. And as psychiatrist Wendy Dean sees it, this is more than just burnout. What's driving the pandemic's health care exodus? Cassandra Alexander, Wendy Dean and Elaine Batchlor join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    In 'Last Best Hope,' George Packer asks if America can unite again

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 26, 2021 47:23


    Journalist George Packer says our country is divided into four factions “pitting tribe against tribe.” He's reported on political divides around the world. Does he think America can be united once again? In this rebroadcast, George Packer and Jack Beatty join Meghna Chakrabarti.


    The science behind good listening and why it matters

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 25, 2021 47:16


    People. Don't. Listen. “There's so much in our society that is encouraging us not to listen," Kate Murphy says. What is good listening and can it make a difference? In this rebroadcast, Kate Murphy and John Wood, Jr. join Meghna Chakrabarti.


    What it will take to build world-class infrastructure in the U.S. 

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 24, 2021 47:20

    President Biden made a big claim when he signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law. We check that claim, and the reality of how far the U.S. has to go for truly world class infrastructure. Nancy Qian and Kevin DeGood join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    States and cities decide where the infrastructure money goes. Here are some of their plans

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 23, 2021 47:28


    With the $1 trillion infrastructure act signed into law, state and local officials must now determine how most of that money will be spent. We talk with some of those with the power to make or break the infrastructure law. Gov. Janet Mills, Mayor Acquanetta Warren and Derek Green join Meghna Chakrabarti.


    Water in the West: Can Biden's infrastructure act help restore it?

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 22, 2021 47:29

    There's $8 billion in the new Infrastructure act for preserving water systems in the West. We look at where the money will go and what difference it could make. Professor Richard White and Kyle Roerink join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    First Person: A pastor reflects on how politics divide his congregation

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 19, 2021 5:00

    Scott Dudley is the lead pastor at Bellevue Presbyterian Church in Bellevue, Washington. Dudley says he has a generally supportive congregation. But lately, he's faced some hostility.

    Understanding the causes and consequences of white evangelical fear

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 19, 2021 47:05

    A recent poll found that more than any other group, white evangelical protestants believe American culture and values are under threat. Why? Anthea Butler and Robert P. Jones join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    Nuclear power and America's clean energy future

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 18, 2021 47:20

    President Joe Biden signed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill this week. Tucked into the plan includes the Biden administration's belief in the importance of nuclear power. Ernest Moniz, Allison Macfarlane and Rita Baranwal join Meghna Chakrabarti. 

    The life and losses of politician Michael Tubbs

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 17, 2021 47:01

    Michael Tubbs grew up in poverty. He became Stockton, California's first Black mayor when he was just 26 years old. Now, he's sharing the reality of his life beyond the headlines. Michael Tubbs joins Meghna Chakrabarti.

    'Miseducation': Journalist Katie Worth on climate education and corporate influences

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 16, 2021 47:28

    What are American school kids being taught about climate change? Journalist Katie Worth visited schools and analyzed dozens of textbooks, and she says a web of corporate and political influences is miseducating many school children about climate change. Katie Worth, Kristen Del Real and Deb Morrison join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    Therapeutics and the part they play in the fight against COVID

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 15, 2021 47:29

    Vaccines are still the first, best way to end the pandemic. But can so-called therapeutics also help? The FDA says there are 11 treatments already authorized for emergency use. We learn about therapeutics, and the part they play in the fight against COVID. Dr. Preeti Malani, Dr. Nahid Bhadelia and Dr. George Yancopoulos join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    AI home-buying and how it could change real estate

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 12, 2021 47:23

    Zillow went on an algorithmic home-buying spree. It didn't work. But what is algorithmic home-buying? We learn the impact AI home-buying is having on the housing market. Gregor Matvos and Jeff Meyers join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    The truth behind the mysterious Havana Syndrome

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 11, 2021 47:13

    Something strange is happening to American officials around the world. Migraines, dizziness, even brain injury. And the incidents keep happening. So who, or what, is behind Havana Syndrome? Adam Entous and Frank Figliuzzi join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    America's future in Taiwan

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 10, 2021 47:13

    China vows to take back Taiwan, as Xi Jinping warns against American interference. But for the U.S., Taiwan is about a lot more than Taiwan itself. What is America's true interest in Taiwan? Oriana Skylar Mastro, Yun Sun and Steve Blank join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    Lessons from Virginia's governor race and what voters really want

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 9, 2021 47:17

    Democrats lost the governorship in Virginia. What did voters really care about? A long-time democratic analyst joins us with the lessons he's learned from Virginia, and why he's worried his party refuses to see the bigger picture. Ruy Teixeira and Jack Beatty join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    First person: How climate change shapes the community of Kivalina, Alaska

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2021 5:01

    Colleen Swan and the members of the indigenous Iñupiat community who live on Kivalina, climate change isn't a remote abstraction. It's an emergency that's threatening their lives now.

    The case for climate reparations

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2021 47:27

    Climate change has a disproportionate impact on the Global South. So should the world's industrialized nations make reparations? We hear the case for climate reparations. David Wallace-Wells and Riton Quiah join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    What's behind the supply chain breakdown at the Port of Long Beach

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 5, 2021 47:21

    What is going on at the Port of Long Beach? Truckers, longshoremen and port managers tell us why the supply chain is breaking down. Matt Schrap and Mario Cordero join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    Mayoral races across the country: A look at who will lead America's cities

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 4, 2021 47:10

    Mayoral elections across the country this week. We take a look at who will next lead America's cities, and the impact those mayoral races may have on national politics. Anthony Brooks, Jon Collins, David Hyde, Rose Scott and Dave Debo join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    Lessons in paid family leave from parents around the world

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 3, 2021 47:30

    About 180 countries have some sort of paid parental leave. We hear from moms around the world about how those nations made it work. Isra'a Hamdeh, Jody Heymann, Dr. Raisa Renner and Tilde Bang-Kristensen join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    What the Supreme Court's next big gun case means for gun laws across the U.S.

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 2, 2021 47:22

    The Supreme Court is about to hear its highest profile gun case since 2008. We take a look at the case, and why the court's decision could have an impact on state gun laws across the country.

    Why the Federal Reserve is an 'engine of inequality'

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 1, 2021 47:23

    Interest rates, inflation, employment. That's where the Fed formally flexes its power. That's also why Karen Petrou says it's an 'engine of inequality.' Could that change? Karen Petrou and Jeffrey Lacker join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    First person: 'Can you listen?' Young people reflect on 'the pessimistic generation'

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 29, 2021 6:18

    Kids today face a unique combination of challenges, from the pandemic, to climate change and political unrest. On today's hour, two young people share why so many kids are looking to the future with everything from trepidation to impending doom.

    The pessimistic generation: How grown-ups can grow up and give kids some hope

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 29, 2021 47:35

    From the pandemic to climate change, politics and social media, kids are pessimistic about their future. It's hurting them, and us all. We talk to people who say it's time to do something about it. Elissa Epel and Doug Abrams join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    Virginia's governor's race and what it reveals about America's political future

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 28, 2021 47:24

    The race for Governor of Virginia may be the most important political contest of the year. We look at Virginia's governor's race and what it says about the political parties – and where the country's heading. Mel Leonor and Bob Holsworth join Anthony Brooks.

    What it would take to pass meaningful voting rights legislation in America

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 27, 2021 47:04

    Senate Republicans have used the filibuster to block major voting rights legislation twice this year. Meanwhile, at least 19 states have enacted 33 laws that make it harder to vote. What would it take to pass voting rights legislation? Jack Beatty, Tia Mitchell, Sen. Angus King and LaTosha Brown join Anthony Brooks.

    The causes and consequences of inflation

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 26, 2021 47:26

    Inflation is back. The past year has seen more than a 5% jump in the Consumer Price Index. While the price of food, gas, cars, lumber are all up. But what is inflation, and do economists really know how it works? Jack Beatty, Diane Swonk and Laura Tyson join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    The importance of fixing bad COVID math

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 25, 2021 47:29

    Infection rates. Cases. Deaths. 14-day moving averages. Efficacy. We're wading through a world of COVID data. But the way that data's presented may do more harm than good.

    Full-length version: What the public doesn't know about Colin Powell

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 22, 2021 70:01


    In a full, unedited version of our conversation "From unknown successes to personal disillusionment: What the public doesn't know about Colin Powell," Retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Colin Powell's chief of staff for more than a decade, reflects on Powell's life and legacy.


    From unknown successes to personal disillusionment: What the public doesn't know about Colin Powell

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 22, 2021 47:29


    Colin Powell served America at its highest levels. Joint Chiefs Chairman. Secretary of State. A man both celebrated and tarnished by war. We look back on his life and legacy with his former chief of staff. Ret. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson joins Meghna Chakrabarti.


    What California's new zoning bills mean for the state's housing crisis

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 21, 2021 47:12

    California will now allow multi-family units on land zoned for single-family housing. Will it make a difference? Victor Gordo, Ben Metcalf and Adam J. Fowler join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    The life, culture and politics of voters across the Rio Grande Valley

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 20, 2021 47:24

    Texas's Rio Grande Valley is diverse and politically powerful. Until recently, the nation's two political parties saw the voters of the Rio Grande as a monolith. But that's been changing over the past two election cycles. We look at why Republicans and Democrats are working to woo voters along the Rio Grande. Cynthia Villarreal, Xavier Villarreal, Michael Rodriguez, Rogelio Nuñez and Perla Bazan join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    A running scandal and the price of power at Nike

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 19, 2021 47:29


    Nike attracted the world's best. Alberto Salazar was a Nike-funded coach for almost 20 years. That ended in scandal. Is a reckoning for professional runners upon us? Matt Hart and Lindsay Crouse join Meghna Chakrabarti.


    Inside the 40-year fight to rid the world of malaria

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 18, 2021 47:14

    In Uganda, like many countries, malaria is endemic and deadly. But that might soon change. After 40 years in development, the WHO has approved the first ever malaria vaccine. Malaria has shaped human history. Could that story now be coming to a hopeful end? Dr. James Tibenderana and Dr. Ripley Ballou join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    The science behind good listening and why it matters

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 15, 2021 47:09


    People. Don't. Listen. “There's so much in our society that is encouraging us not to listen," Kate Murphy says. What is good listening and can it make a difference?


    Why school boards are a nexus of America's culture wars

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 14, 2021 47:17

    School boards are a new nexus of America's culture wars. Some say the targeting of school boards is a political tactic used by right-wing organizations. We hear that deeper story. Peter Montgomery, Noah Weinrich and Laura Vozzella join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    Is the Supreme Court too political? A look at the court's ideology

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 13, 2021 47:23

    The Supreme Court is supposed to rule by the law alone. But Randall Kennedy says that doesn't always happen. “A very common misconception is that the Supreme Court is above politics." If the Supreme Court is too ideological, what should be done about it? Randall Kennedy and David Cole join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    Why science says you deserve to be happy

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 12, 2021 48:09

    What determines your happiness? We talk about why science says, even with every problem in the world right now, you deserve to be happy. Laurie Santos and Jack Beatty join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    What New Zealand's changing COVID strategy tells us about the pandemic's end

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 11, 2021 49:30

    New Zealand was aiming for 'COVID zero.' What does New Zealand's changing strategy tell us about what the pandemic's end should look like? Dr. Celine Gounder, Joseph Allen and Dale Fisher join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    Scholar Randall Kennedy's reflections on race, culture and law in America

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 8, 2021 47:10

    For decades, scholar Randall Kennedy has been writing about race, culture and the law. “We are certainly much further from the racial promised land than I had thought that we were," he says. Randall Kennedy joins Meghna Chakrabarti.

    Facebook's whistleblower and the social media giant's 'Big Tobacco' moment

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 7, 2021 49:45

    A former Facebook employee says the social media giant knows it is tearing society apart. Will Facebook face its Big Tobacco moment? Sharon Eubanks, Kate Klonick and Phil Weiser join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    Your brain on authoritarianism: The inside forces that drive people to turn on democracy

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 6, 2021 47:26


    The brain, behavior and authoritarianism. Understanding the social and neurological forces that drive people to turn their backs on democracy. Timothy Snyder and Lisa Feldman Barrett join Meghna Chakrabarti.


    What compromise may look like for the Democrats' 'Build Back Better' plan

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 5, 2021 47:26

    The price tag for the Democrats' social spending bill may be shrinking – but the needs of Americans are not. We hear what stays in the bill, what goes and what it all means for Americans who need help. Jennifer Bendery and Jack Beatty join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    What America's supply chain shortages mean for your buying, from phones to cars

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2021 47:23

    Cars. Smartphones. Appliances. An international chip shortage is squeezing supply chains and inventory. How did this happen? And when will it end? Dr. Willy Shih joins Meghna Chakrabarti.

    The Prime Effect: Live from CitySpace

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 2, 2021 72:59

    Our series The Prime Effect explores the ways Amazon is changing how we live, work and shop. In a bonus episode live from CitySpace, host Meghna Chakrabarti and senior editor Dorey Scheimer give you a behind-the-scenes breakdown of what they learned while producing the eight-part series.

    Amazon: The Prime Effect, Part VII

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 2, 2021 47:32

    Local police departments can't put a corner at the end of every street. But Amazon already has—with Ring cameras. So what is Amazon really doing with all your data? We look at Amazon and surveillance. Ramesh Srinivasan and Jon Callas join Meghna Chakrabarti.

    Amazon: The Prime Effect, Part VI

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 2, 2021 51:00

    Maren Costa worked at Amazon for 15 years. That abruptly ended last spring when she spoke out about the company's climate impact. In the sixth episode of our series "The Prime Effect," we look at Amazon's labor force, and how, someday, it could be changing how you work. Karen Weise and David Glick join Meghna Chakrabarti.

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