Bridget Armstrong | WYPR

Bridget Armstrong

Producer, Midday

Bridget Armstrong is a producer for Midday hosted by Tom Hall. She joined the WYPR team as a producer of Maryland Morning in March 2016. Before coming to WYPR, she worked for SiriusXM and prior to that, at NPR.  While at NPR, Bridget worked on the 2014 Elections Desk and Tell Me More hosted by Michel Martin, where she produced discussions addressing race, gender and pop-culture.  A true lover of conversation, Bridget also hosted and produced a roundtable podcast. Bridget is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University, an Historically Black College.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

This week, we reflect on what’s happened in Baltimore since the 2015 violence and Uprising sparked by the death of Freddie Gray while in the custody of police. Even before the national guard troops left town in April 2015, civic leaders, law enforcement officials, scholars, business people and community activists identified systemic racial and economic inequality as root causes for the unrest. These community leaders envisioned a road forward that included more employment and educational opportunities for the city's poorest residents. Has that happened? What work do we have ahead of us?

Tom is joined by Dr. Freeman Hrabowski. He's been the president of The University of Maryland Baltimore County since 1992. He’s the co-author of Beating the Odds and Overcoming the Odds and the author of Holding Fast to Dreams: Empowering Youth from the Civil Rights Crusade to STEM Achievement. In 2012 he was asked by President Obama to chair the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. 

Flickr/Franco Folini

Last month, the outcry from concerned parents and citizens about the number of missing teenage girls in and around Washington, D.C. sparked national outrage. The conversation was prompted by the dozens of missing persons alerts with pictures of black and brown teenage girls shared on social media over a short period of time.

There were theories and fears that the girls were being preyed upon by human traffickers. The hashtag #MissingDCGirls trended on Twitter; celebrities and politicians weighed in, and Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a task force that will increase the number of police officers assigned to work missing persons cases, among other things. It turns out, that, according to the DC Metropolitan Police Department, the actual number of missing children has decreased over the last two years.  

Penguin Random House

Tom is joined today by Nigerian author, essayist and activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Adichie splits her time between her native country Nigeria and the US, where she has a home in Columbia, Maryland. She's won several prestigious awards, including the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. She's headlining the 2017 Baltimore CityLit Festival later this month. That’s an annual event sponsored by the CityLit Project, an organization that advances the cause of all things literary here in Maryland.

Getty Images

We begin with State Senator Jim Rosapepe (D-MD 21st District), with his take on why lawmakers in Annapolis spent this year’s session with one eye on Capitol Hill. 

Then, the Midday News Wrap panelists join Tom to discuss the biggest stories of the week. Yesterday, President Trump dropped the "mother of all bombs" on ISIS targets in Afghanistan, this comes after the President launched a targeted airstrike in Syria in response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad alleged use of chemical weapons. 

And, it's the video seen across the country; the footage of a 69-year old man being forcibly and violently removed from an overbooked United Airlines flight has caused a pr nightmare for the airline. Dr. David Dao's lawyer says he suffered a concussion and broken nose in the incident and lost two teeth, he plans to file a lawsuit. How did the incident escalate to violence and can United bounce back?

Maryland GovPics

Nearly 2,700 bills were introduced in this year’s session of the Maryland General Assembly, which came to a close on Monday night. Paid sick leave is in. Fracking is out. Ethics laws for lawmakers were juiced-up, as a long time member is indicted on fraud charges. There was a package of bills to address the opioid epidemic, and a measure that could lead to punishment for drug manufacturers who hike prices unreasonably. Gov. Larry Hogan reached a compromise on a transportation bill, and legislators found a way to allocate additional help to local school jurisdictions, including Baltimore. When asked to assess the third General Assembly since being elected in 2014, the Governor told reporters,“I’m not sure how it could have been any better."

Last night the Maryland General Assembly wrapped up its 437th annual session, passing hundreds of bills in the final hours of Sine Die, as the last day is known. Governor Larry Hogan was generally pleased with the session, but promised to veto a paid sick leave bill. Governor Hogan proposed a bill that would have required businesses that employ 50 or more workers in a single location to provide sick leave. Democrats rejected that bill, in favor of a bill that requires businesses with 15 or more full-time employees to provide employees the opportunity to earn at least 5 sick days a year.  

Tom speaks with House Minority Leader Nic Kipke who represents Anne Arundel County in the Maryland House of Delegates. 

Education Elsewhere

Yesterday, Governor Larry Hogan signed a bill allocating an additional $23 million to Baltimore City Public Schools. This comes after Mayor Catherine Pugh diverted additional funds to education in her budget. So is it enough to close the $130 million gap and avoid teacher layoffs? We’ll get an update from Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises

Then, a conversation with activists who use their artistry to empower young people. 

Pressfoto / Freepik

When we think of school segregation, we tend think of that long, dark period in American history, before the landmark Supreme Court Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954, that refuted the notion that “separate but equal” schools were constitutional. For decades following the decision, schools became more integrated, opening their doors to students of color voluntarily and through court ordered busing programs. However, in the last 30 years school across the country have moved towards re-segregation.

Maryland has the third most segregated classrooms in the United States behind New York and Illinois. So, what does that mean for the young people we’re educating? 

Photo by Craig Schwartz

We turn to the world of theater and the premiere of a new musical at the Everyman Theatre here in Baltimore.  Its subject couldn’t be more timely:  Los Otros or, The Othersdelves into the complexities of immigration, cultural identity, sexuality, and coming of age.

In 2012, a very different version of Los Otros was presented at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.  Vincent Lancisi, the founder and artistic director of the Everyman, commissioned a re-write of the musical after that original production, and then held a workshop in New York so that the writers could make further revisions, which continued as the rehearsal process for the Everyman production got underway.

The man who composed Los Otros' beautiful music and the woman who wrote the lyrics and book join Tom in Studio A.  Composer Michael John LaChiusa is a five-time Tony Award nominee for work on and off-Broadway.  He’s won, among other awards, an Obie, a Dramatists Guild Award, and Daytime Emmys.  Ellen Fitzhugh has received Tony, Emmy and Drama Desk award nominations, and written lyrics with numerous film score composers, including the renowned Henry Mancini.

If Republicans in the US House of Representatives can’t pass their health care bill by Friday afternoon and send it on to the Senate, the President says he’ll walk away, and move on to other items on the Trump agenda.  Has Repeal and Replace morphed into Reveal and Disgrace?

Last October, FBI Director James Comey revealed he was looking into Hillary Clinton's e-mails. He waited until this week to mention that at the same time, he was also looking into allegations about collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.   Devin Nunes is the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. He got to visit the White House this week! And then he said he’s very sorry about it.  Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch has made his pitch to join the Supremes. Chuck Schumer says the Dems will filibuster.  

 

Today, a conversation about Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Maryland is home to four of the nation’s more than 100 institutions. Last month, President Trump issued an Executive Order directed at HBCUs after meeting with nearly 100 presidents and leaders of those institutions. Some HBCU students and alumni criticized the meeting, calling it a photo op. Several HBCU presidents who attended say they were given little time to discuss their concerns and talk about strategies to help their institutions succeed. 

In 2015, following the uprising sparked by the death of Freddie Gray, there was a big spike in people expressing interest in mentoring. Now two years later has that interest been sustained? Few question the fact that when young people develop a close relationship with a caring adult, those young people do better in school, and they are able to navigate the tricky waters of adolescence much more effectively than their peers who do not have an adult providing a model, and interest in their lives. Kera Ritter is the President of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake, one of several organizations in Maryland connecting young people with mentors.

Monica Reinagel

Today, another installment of our semi-monthly health feature, Smart Nutrition, with our regular guest, licensed nutritionist and blogger Monica Reinagel.  On this edition, Monica assesses a popular personal-health makeover plan called The Whole30 Challenge, in which folks are encouraged to spend at least 30 days not only cutting out the usual bad-diet culprits -- junk foods and sugar -- but also giving up some stuff that’s considered pretty good for you, such as dairy, beans and whole grains.  The creators of the program say it’s not a diet but a way to jumpstart a more nutritious lifestyle. So, does it work?  And more importantly, is it healthful?

Monica Reinagel, who blogs at nutritionovereasy.com as The Nutrition Diva, weighs in on the pros and cons of The Whole30 Challenge, and takes your nutrition questions, too. 

Morgan State University

Dr. Eric Conway is director of the Morgan State University Choir as well as Chairperson of the school’s Fine Arts Department. He joins Tom to talk about Morgan State University's upcoming production of The Wiz: Super Soul Musical, which opens next Thursday.

The musical hit Broadway in 1975. R&B singer Stephanie Mills starred as Dorthy. Diana Ross and Michael Jackson starred in the 1978 film adaptation. Morgan State's production features  the talents of Morgan State students and local singers and actors. 

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay writes about  flawed women, women who are broken, women who won’t bow to a man’s will, women who make mistakes, women who challenge the status quo, women who are just trying to figure it all out, women women who are difficult...

Roxane Gay’s latest collection of short stories explores what it means to be a difficult woman.  Roxane Gay is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. She is the author of several books including New York Times bestseller Bad Feminist, and her latest Difficult Women. She joins guest host Bridget Armstrong to talk about Difficult Women and her forthcoming memoir Hunger, which is set to be released in June. 

Simon & Schuster

*Helene Cooper will be speaking about "Madame President" on Thursday, March 16 at 6:30pm at the Maryland State Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped, 415 Park Ave., Baltimore MD 21201.For more information click here.

Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf made history in 2006 she became the first woman to lead an African nation. Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times Correspondent Helene Cooper chronicles President Johnson Sirleaf’s path to the highest office in Liberia in her new book Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The book is as much about President Johnson Sirleaf’s life as it is about the culture that shaped her and the women who supported her.  President Johnson Sirleaf was born between two worlds at odds in Liberia. Educated at Harvard University, she was determined to return home to help her country--a decision that often put her in danger. When she was elected in 2005 the country had just come out of a brutal period of civil war. Now she’s nearing the end of her tenure and plans to step down peacefully, the first president of Liberia to do so in decades. Helene Cooper joins guest host Bridget Armstrong to talk about President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's legacy. Helene Cooper is the author of New York Times bestseller The House At Sugar Beach. The book is a memoir about Helene's childhood in Liberia. 

Tony Juliano

 

Today a conversation about the racial wealth gap and why it persists. Nationally, Blacks have a median household income that’s 60 percent of that of Whites; in Baltimore that number is even lower at just 54 percent. That’s according to a report from the non-profit Corporation for Enterprise Development

For millions of people, home ownership is the key to building wealth. African Americans and Latinos are less likely to own their own homes. And when they do, because of years of redlining in communities of color, they’re valued a lot lower than houses in traditionally white communities.

Sheri Parks

Today, a conversation about public funding of the arts, and how federal, state and local budgets reflect the priorities of President Donald Trump, Governor Larry Hogan, and Mayor Catherine Pugh. 

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities are two of 17 federal agencies that appear to be targeted by the Trump administration for elimination, as its budget inclinations lean heavily toward defense spending. The state of Maryland funded arts institutions at the highest level ever last year, and the Governor has proposed an additional $1 million this year, bringing the allocation for the arts to $21 million in Fiscal Year 2018. Ironically, Baltimore City Schools are facing drastic cuts. Principals looking to trim expenses, may have to make cuts to music and visual arts programs. 

An organization called Arts Every Day is holding a symposium this weekend that will call attention to the role that arts education plays in boosting attendance, improving test scores and making schools vibrant parts of their communities.

Photo by REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

It’s the Midday News Wrap, our regular Friday review of the week's top local, national and international news stories, with a rotating panel of journalists, commentators and community leaders.

President Trump gave a widely praised speech on Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress.  Various news outlets have identified more than a dozen false or misleading statements in that address.  The Washington Post is keeping track of such things.  They’ve accumulated 187 factually inaccurate statements by the President in his first 40 days in office.  Still, many people think the President quieted some skeptics with his performance in front of Congress.

Baltimore City Council

Today a conversation with three new members of the Baltimore City Council. Last November, voters elected eight new members to the council. At that time, pundits predicted that these new, often younger members would shake things up. So how are the first few months going and what can we expect from the city council going forward?  

There’s a public hearing tonight on a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. On Monday, the council passed a resolution tranfer control of the  Baltimore police department from the state to the city. And, funding for the school system is front of mind. We’ll find out where these freshmen lawmakers stand on these and other issues facing them in their first weeks in office.  

Photo by K. Whiteford

Today an update on the Maryland General Assembly. Late last week, a bill that would require many Maryland employers to provide paid sick leave advanced out of committee. The bill calls for companies with at least 15 employees to offer up to seven days of paid sick leave to full-time workers per year. Smaller companies would have to offer unpaid sick leave.

 There’s also legislation to make Maryland a sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants. And, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh now has the authority to bypass Governor Hogan to challenge the Trump administration in court. A spokesman for the Governor says that this one of the nearly one hundred bills aimed at limited Governor's Hogan's power since he was elected three years ago.

Bridget Armstrong

After a long day at work, a lot of folks just don’t feel like cooking an elaborate multi-course meal. Sometimes, it’s just easier to dump it all in a pot and start cooking. Resident foodies John Shields of Gertrude’s Restaurant and Sascha Wolhandler of Sascha’s 527 join Tom with tips on one-pot wonders.  

So, What Ya Got Cookin? Do you have a go-to lasagna dish? A favorite stew or soup?  Let’s share some recipes and tips for crock pots and dutch ovens and whatever your favorite pot is.  

 John is a chef, author and the owner of Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art.  Sascha and her husband Steve Susser run Sascha’s 527 Restaurant and Catering in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood of Charm City.

President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia have become one of the most controversial and pressing issues of his administration.

Last week during a press conference the president denied having any ties to Russia or the country's president Vladimir Putin. Saying "I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does." Russian diplomats have suggested a different story.    

Yesterday, President Trump named Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his National Security Advisor. With Michael Flynn out, and McMaster in, what might that portend for relations between Russia and the US?  

Accidental Courtesy

 

Reaching across the aisle to engage with your enemy. It’s a concept we hear politicians throw around but it’s becoming increasingly less popular as our political discourse becomes more divisive and polarizing. For some, respectfully engaging with an enemy that seems fundamentally opposed to their very existence is impossible, but it’s exactly what Daryl Davis has been doing for more than 25 years. Mr. Davis is a musician who’s played with the likes of Little Richard and Chuck Berry. But, when he’s not on stage, Mr. Davis, who is a black man, meets and befriends members of the Ku Klux Klan. This hobby started in 1983 when an audience member struck up a conversation with Mr. Davis after a gig. When the gentleman in the audience revealed that he was a member of the KKK, the conversation did not end and after years of being friends, that man dropped out of the Klan. In fact dozens of former KKK members have given up their robes as a result of their friendships with Mr. Davis. 

Johns Hopkins University

*This edition of Midday was shortened to accommodate NPR's special coverage of President Trump's press conference with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

 

Genome editing, that is the ability to make additions, deletions, and alterations to the genome of a human or animal, is not a new. Scientists have been experimenting with it in labs for a while to better understand the way some diseases and disabilities work. But now a new report released yesterday from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine sets international guidelines for genome editing. New editing tools like CRISPR have opened up the doors for more lab and clinical research projects. The scientists behind the report hope their guidelines will serve as a roadmap to help other scientists avoid the ethical concerns associated with gene editing.

Office of The Mayor

Today a conversation with Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh. Mayor Pugh took her post in December 2016 after a long career in Maryland politics, first as a Baltimore City Council member and later as a State Delegate, so she is no stranger to Baltimore’s old problems. 

To date, According to the Baltimore Sun, 45 people have been killed in the city this year. What can be done to assure that a homicide a day isn’t the new normal?   When Mayor Pugh was elected she campaigned on a platform that included improving education, now Baltimore City Public Schools may have to layoff 1,000 teachers and cut arts and enrichment programs due to a $130 million budget deficit. What role will the Mayor play in ensuring a quality education for the city's young people? 

SNL

WYPR producers Bridget Armstrong and Jamyla Krempel join Tom for Tube Talk. Shows like Saturday Night Live, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert are tackling President Trump and his administration one episode at a time. We'll talk about how the presidency is informing television. 

And, BET's New Edition biopic, which chronicles the ups and downs of the R&B boy band, is the highest rated program the network has aired in five years. We'll talk about what made the film successful and other shows on the horizon.

Lewis Wallace

What role do journalists play in the so called “post fact”era? It’s no secret that President Trump and his administration have a contentious relationship with the mainstream media. The president routinely calls outlets like CNN and the New York Times “fake news.” Senior Advisor, Kellyanne Conway, famously invoked the validity of “alternative facts” when pressed about inaccurate statements made by the President about the size of the crowd at this year’s inauguration. Another senior advisor, Steven Bannon, called the media “the opposition party,” and urged it to keep its mouth shut.  

So, are we in a “post-fact” era, as some have suggested? Does journalistic objectivity and neutrality mean something different with this President, in this highly segmented media landscape? And how are the notions of objectivity and impartiality being shaped by a more diverse journalism pool?

Baltimore City Public Schools

Last week, Baltimore City Public Schools President & CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises announced that unless additional funding is secured for next year’s school budget, Baltimore schools are facing layoffs of more than 1,000 teachers and faculty. Cuts to arts and enrichment programs are likely to come as well, as the system tries to to close a $130 million budget gap. Rising school costs and declining enrollment are not new challenges to city schools, but this year’s shortfall is the largest the district has faced in a long time.

The Baltimore Teachers Union called the layoffs “unacceptable” and Dr. Santelises herself concedes that her plan to balance the budget, will drastically change how the school system operates.

Stephen Melkisethian

We begin today with a conversation about the travel ban implemented by President Trump on Friday afternoon. The President blocked visitors from seven predominately Muslim countries, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The initial ban even included those who hold green cards. After a night and day of chaotic events at airports around the world, those holding green cards were allowed to re-enter the US.

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