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Here and Now with Robin Young
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Monday March 30, 2009

Automakers Fail Test

The Obama Administration has rejected re-structuring plans from GM and Chrysler, forcing GM’s CEO to resign and putting both companies on a short time line to re-make themselves or face bankruptcy and sale. We’ll speak with Justin Hyde, Washington DC correspondent for the Detroit Free Press.

Is the U.S. Another Argentina?

Simon Johnson is former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, who was dispatched to help save many failing economies. He says the US economy resembles other collapsed systems, including Argentina and Russia. He argues that smashing the financial oligarchy here is the only way to fix the banking system. Johnson is an MIT professor and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He writes an influential blog called “The Baseline Scenario.”

Flight to Mars Experiment

Six volunteer astronauts from Russia, France, and Germany will take part in an experiment to see if human beings would be able to withstand the two-year journey to Mars and back. The volunteers will begin the second stage of the experiment tomorrow in Moscow. They will be locked inside a mock spaceship module until July. The BBC’s Richard Galpin reports.

The Hallucinogenic Herb Salvia Divinorum

Salvia Divinorum is a hallucinogenic herb that is legal in many states and readily available online. It’s also becoming popular with teenagers. Some lawmakers want to ban its use; while researchers say it may hold promise in the treatment of pain, depression, and addiction. We talk with John Mendelson, a pharmacologist at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute; he is studying salvia divinorum’s impact on humans. We also hear from Kathleen Chidester of Wilmington, Delaware. She blames her 17-year-old son’s suicide on his salvia use and says it should be banned nationwide.


Earth, Wind and Fire’s Philip Bailey

Earth, Wind, and Fire‘s lead vocalist, Philip Bailey joins us to talk about that unmistakable falsetto voice of his which was at the center of such hits as “Reasons”, “Fantasy” and “After the Love has Gone”.

Music from the show

  • Ahmad Jamal, “Patterns”
  • Funk Brothers, “You Keep Me Hanging On”
  • Thelonius Monk, “Caravan”
  • Radiohead, “In Limbo”
  • Talking Heads, “This Must Be the Place”
  • Jonathan Mann, “Hey Paul Krugman (A song, A plea)” (parents beware, song contains four letter word)
  • Alex North, “Space Station Docking”
  • Earth, Wind and Fire, “Shining Star”
  • Earth, Wind and Fire, “After the Love Has Gone”
  • Earth, Wind and Fire, “Boogie Wonderland”
  • Earth, Wind and Fire, “Reasons, September”
  • Earth, Wind and Fire, “That’s the Way of the World”
  • Steven Trank

    I first heard Philip’s voice on a remake of “”Where Have All The Flowers Gone”. a 60′s hippy tune, remade so unbelievably beautiful on EWF’s first hit Album. The way he sang that song made me an instant FAN and have been ever since. I have never had the chance to thank him for so many wonderful songs, for so many years.

    Philip, Thank you so much for sharing your talents.


  • Alex C.

    I was excited this morning when I heard that the efforts to ban salvia would be a topic on today’s show.

    I find this to be one of the silliest, reactionary causes around. It seems like people just automatically feel like they have to ban any recreational drug besides alcohol. As you was pointed out, this is a detriment to science. Not to mention our rights, of course.

    I’m glad that Mr. Mendelson mentioned the actual reactions people have to this drug. As someone that has been involved in drug culture, I know that when salvia comes up in conversation, the talk is almost always that it’s one of the least pleasurable drug experiences around. For the most part, people are not going out and doing salvia every day, allowing it to consume their lives.

  • Josh Picard

    With regards to the story on salvia divinorum I’d like to say that it would be a tragic loss of freedom to outright ban it. When one considers the atrocities and turmoil by (even the legal) consumption of alcohol it would appear foolish by comparison. I understand well that salvia use requires a fair amount of maturity to enjoy or try safely, but so does riding a bicycle on the streets.
    As a light user of salvia for the last 5 years (I’m 27 now) I feel as though the people enjoying it responsibly and safely are under-represented and don’t yet have a voice. Thank you for the story Robin!

  • http://www.ceei-climate.org Max casebear

    great music is back thanks again, the great sounds are much more better ! KMC

  • Joe

    There just simply is no reason to ban salvia. As the John Mendelson pointed out, most people don’t find the experience to be all that pleasurable and hence has a very low potential for addiction. He said 1.8 million Americans have tried salvia and there’s been two case studies where salvia could possibly have been a factor. Only two!!! As here and now reported last friday, 87,000 emergency room visits each year in this country are attributed to tripping over cats and dogs. Should we ban dogs next? Maybe just ban them if you’re over 70 and walk a bit slowly? So from a numbers perspective, banning this herb is ridiculous. But my biggest concern is, as other people’s comments have mentioned, is the infringement on our rights. Leave people alone to do what they want in their own private lives.

  • Jonathan K

    I was saddened to hear there is a movement to criminalize salvia. I have personally experienced salvia on many occasions and consider it to be a powerful tool for stimulating spiritual experiences. There is no mention whether the teen who committed suicide may of had a pre-exsisting mental illness. Leave the decision making in the hands of the people, not in the hands of the government. How about educating people rather then spending millions to enforce a ban?

  • Nathan

    I was extremely disappointed by Here and Now’s report on Salvia Divinorum during today’s show. The way in which this story was reported framed the debate incorrectly. The question of whether to make Salvia Divinorum illegal or not has nothing to do with the the potential negative or positive effects associated with the drug. The real debate we should be having is whether we want to continue to incarcerate large numbers of non-violent and otherwise law-abiding citizens because they choose to use drugs. Our strict drug laws do not deter drug use.

    The majority of Americans now recognize that our current drug policies are not working. At a time when we should be reforming our drug policies, you are irresponsibly giving equal time to a understandably distraught mother who is clouding the debate. Kathleen Chidester is justifiably grief stricken, and unfortunately I think her grief is causing her to come to incorrect conclusions regarding the cause of her son’s death and the best course of action to prevent future deaths. Even more unfortunately, our empathy for her grief is causing all of us to ignore the problems with her cause in deference to her loss. No matter how we badly we may feel for Mrs. Chidester, the fact is that Americans will continue to use drugs no matter how harsh we make the penalties due to our own mental blind spots. Instead of criminalizing behavior, we should be providing treatment where needed and tolerating drug use when it is not causing harm.

    Finally, we have missed an opportunity to talk about preventing teenage suicide by allowing ourselves to be distracted by the extremely tenuous link between Salvia Divinorum and a tragic, isolated single instance of suicide. We know definitively that suicide was the third largest cause of death for Americans between the ages of 15 and 19 in 2002, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. We also know that the best way to prevent suicide is to look for the signs and seek help; surely this would save more lives than another bad drug law. I hope Here and Now will try harder in the future to frame these kind of policy debates more responsibly.

  • http://medtattsforlife.com charlie robinson

    I was wondering how long the effects that are produced when you use this dangerous drug? I know someone who uses pot for medical reasons. He has terminal cancer.
    Recently he used some pot that had serious side effects. He thought he was going insane and tried to kill himself!
    We examined his pot supply and found a substance that look’s like savlia.
    Look’s like dealer’s are trying to expand their market for lost revenue by adding salvia! Who’s easier to tap then young people.
    I wonder just how many individual’s who have tried salvia have tried or succeded in taking their own live’s!
    It should be banned period. Young people need to be educated about this terrible drug and only allowed to be used for medical research!

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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Remembering Jesse Winchester

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A Call To Reject Corporal Punishment As Part Of Black Culture

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Would You Pay To Get Your Kid Into A Top College?

A San Francisco company charges parents for a consulting package based on the odds their student will get into a certain university, with prices up to a million dollars.