Andrea Appleton | WYPR

Andrea Appleton

Producer, On The Record

Andrea Appleton is a producer for On The Record. She comes to WYPR with years of experience as a freelance journalist filing stories for newspapers, magazines, and public radio. She has reported on topics ranging from bull riding to bionic fish, with an emphasis on science.  She is also former senior editor of the Baltimore City Paper, and a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism.

She and her husband live in Baltimore with their two young sons.

Artondra Hall / Flickr via Creative Commons

Over the last week and a half, at least five vacant houses in Baltimore City have collapsed. The first, on March 28th, killed a man as he was sitting in his car in a vacant lot next door. The rest tumbled down during high winds last weekend. According to the Baltimore Sun, more than 500 buildings in Baltimore are considered so close to collapse that city inspectors visit them every 10 days. Many of these are row houses, making the risk of collapse extra troubling for neighbors. How common are collapses? Who owns these buildings? What is the city doing to prevent collapses, and what should the city be doing?

Kennedy Library / Flickr via Creative Commons

Tens of thousands of Marylanders attend for-profit colleges or private career schools. A recent report by the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition finds they pay more on average for their education, take out larger loans and face higher default rates than students at other institutions. Nationwide, enrollment in for-profit schools is dropping, but they still draw a lot of students. And they attract a disproportionate number of low-income and minority students. The majority of African Americans pursuing a higher education in Maryland are doing so at a for-profit institution. Are for-profit institutions predatory, plain and simple? Or do they have a role to play in our educational system?

Revitalization without gentrification: a lot of syllables to describe an elusive goal. In urban neighborhoods, development too often means poor, usually minority residents are priced out. Cities have wrestled with this problem for decades. Now a group of Baltimore housing advocates think they have the answer. They’re asking the city to issue tens of millions of dollars in bonds in support of their plan. What’s the big fix? Community land trusts. This development model has been gaining steam in other cities. Now, as Baltimore seeks to solve the many problems it’s become famous for in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, advocates say community land trusts are key.

Stephen Dyrgas / Flickr via Creative Commons

Murderous cartels, over-incarceration, the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C: Many of our social ills are somehow related to drugs. Hence the War on Drugs. But critics say strict drug laws have done as much harm to society as the substances themselves. Now a high-profile international commission has released a report that says the same. The group of 22 medical experts is recommending the decriminalization of drug use and possession, around the world. This comes just as the United Nations prepares to convene a special session on drug policy that could shape future laws. Is decriminalization the solution? Or are we endangering youth and inviting even higher rates of addiction? Guest: Dr. Chris Beyrer, member of the Johns Hopkins-Lancet Commission on Drug Policy and Health, Director of the Johns Hopkins Training Program in HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Science, and President of the International AIDS society. 

Iqbal Osman / Flickr via Creative Commons

Antibiotics revolutionized medicine. Infections that were once severe, even fatal, can now be treated. But the dark ages could return. The reason? Overuse. We are in an arms race with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and we seem to be losing. Every year, 2 million Americans are infected with these nightmare microorganisms. At least 23,000 people die. The numbers are even more dire in some regions of the world. In fact, modern medicine itself may be in peril. One day not too far off, injuries that become infected could lead to death, as in the days before the discovery of penicillin. Who is to blame? And what’s to be done?

CAFOD Photo Library / Flickr via Creative Commons

  Last week marked a grim anniversary: five years of conflict in Syria. Nearly half the population has been displaced in that time, around 11 million people. Some have fled to other parts of the Middle East or to Europe. Many more have relocated within Syria. Nearly all require humanitarian aid, and despite peace talks and a shaky cease fire, the conflict is unlikely to end anytime soon. Meanwhile the European Union just announced they would send nearly all migrants arriving in Greece back to Turkey. What is the situation like on the ground? And how is the global community responding to the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II?

Have you had a cup of coffee today? A piece of fruit? You can thank a bee. In fact, most of the plants that provide our food require pollinators. That’s also true of most of the flowers we enjoy. Yet many bees, butterflies, and other pollinator species are in decline. Pesticide use and habitat loss are among the reasons. So what can the average Marylander do? Garden with pollinators in mind! Master gardener Patricia Foster, executive director of the Cylburn Arboretum Association, and Vincent Vizachero, manager for Herring Run Nursery, a non-profit nursery that specializes in native plants, are here to give advice and take your questions.

A Baltimore school police officer was filmed hitting and kicking a teenager early this month while another officer watched. The video went viral, and the school system moved quickly to suspend the officers and press criminal charges. The chief was also put on leave. Critics say this is not an isolated incident. Baltimore City is the only jurisdiction in Maryland with its own school police force, separate from the police department. Child advocates say that force needs a complete overhaul; they say it doesn’t hire or manage well, and officers tend to arrest kids for run-of-the-mill misbehavior. What’s happening that is not caught on camera? Are cops in Baltimore schools doing more harm than good? 

Courtesy of @port_covington / Twitter

Billionaire Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank is asking Baltimore City for $535 million to help fund redevelopment in Port Covington. The city would borrow against future property tax revenue to pay for streets, utilities, and other infrastructure related to the project. If approved, it would be the largest tax increment financing, or TIF, deal in city history. TIF is a common development tool across the country; the city of Baltimore has OK’d eleven deals since 2003. But tax increment financing is controversial. Supporters say it attracts private investment to blighted areas. Critics say it enriches developers at public expense. Our guests: Greg LeRoy, Executive Director of Good Jobs First, and Toby Rittner, President and CEO of the Council of Development Finance Agencies

Understanding Animal Research/Flickr via Creative Commons

Millions of animals are used in research every year. Cosmetics, pesticides, pharmaceuticals: Half of every dollar we spend on products is for something that was tested on animals. Animal-rights advocates condemn animal testing, but many scientists say it is vital. Can technology solve this problem?  Dr. Thomas Hartung, director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, believes it can go a long way. His own lab at the Bloomberg School of Public Health has just developed a tiny replica of the brain using human skin cells. This mini-brain could replace hundreds of thousands of animals now used in neurology labs.

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