Cianna B. Greaves | WYPR

Cianna B. Greaves

Midday Intern

Cianna is an intern with Midday

Photo courtesy Goucher College.

Elizabeth Strout is Tom's guest for this edition of Midday.  She is the author of six novels and many short stories; her most recent book is a series of linked tales called Anything is PossibleLinking stories together was a structural device that Ms. Strout also employed in what is perhaps her most well-known work, Olive KitteridgeThe book earned her the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction , and Frances McDormand starred in an adaptation of the story for HBO that won eight Emmy Awards.

Strout writes about people with big hearts who often live in small towns:  A disgruntled former school teacher, Somali immigrants, a school janitor, a successful writer who returns to rural Illinois to reunite with her estranged siblings.  We meet these and many, many more complicated and brilliant and flawed and eloquent characters who are powerfully and compellingly portrayed by a writer whose tremendous gifts of observation and explication are imbued with great magnanimity and compassion.

Elizabeth Strout is speaking at Goucher College this afternoon and again this evening.  For more information, click here or contact the Kratz Center for Creative Writing at kratz@goucher.edu

Photo by Zach Gross

Tom spends the hour today with Van Jones, a Yale-educated lawyer, former Obama Administration advisor, founder of several social justice organizations, and a commentator and host on CNN.  He's also an author, whose latest book is called 'Beyond the Messy Truth: How We Came Apart – How We Come Together'.

In his new book, Jones asserts that even in our current climate of strident bifurcation in the political arena, there are some issues about which voters and leaders of all political stripes can agree.  “Common pain should lead to common purpose,” he writes.  He criticizes both major political parties for letting down America time and again, and he suggests that a rebellion, like the one we witnessed last November, was justified.  A dedicated Democrat, Van Jones just thinks "the wrong rebel won."

He joins us today from NPR studios in Washington, D.C.

photos courtesy BBJ, CBS.

On this edition of the Midday News Wrap, ​our Friday review of some of the week's top news stories, Tom is joined in Studio A by Heather Mizeur, a former delegate in the Maryland General Assembly who ran a vigorous but unsuccessful campaign in 2014 for the Democratic nomination for governor. Mizeur recently launched a non-profit group called MizMaryland-Soul Force Politics, which is producing a policy blog and a podcast that Mizeur is hosting.

Melody Simmons also joins Tom in the studio.  Simmons is a veteran journalist and a reporter for the Baltimore Business Journal, which, on Wednesday, published her long piece -- in a BBJ series called "The Amazon Effect” – about the economic impact various Amazon projects will have on the city, and what they might cost in taxpayer subsidies.

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On this edition of the Midday News Wrap,  we look at President Trump's visit to Puerto Rico and his talk of relief efforts for the US territory in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. 

The National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobby, issued a statement about "bump stocks," the device that the Las Vegas mass shooter used to increase the carnage he inflicted. “The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semiautomatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles," the statement read, "should be subject to additional regulations.”

President Trump is reportedly planning to de-certify the Iran nuclear deal, leaving it to Congress to think about pulling out of the agreement altogether. Reports are that his top advisers are recommending the US stay in.  Last night while posing for a picture with military leaders and their wives, Trump described the moment as the "calm before the storm."  The Commander in Chief did not elaborate further.

And here in Baltimore, a highly respected lawyer from a prominent local law firm has been appointed to serve as the monitor of the Consent Decree between the Police Department and the Department of Justice. 

Tom discusses these and other of the week's top news stories with reporter John Lemire, who covers the White House for the Associated Press; Charles Robinson Political/Business reporter for Maryland Public Television; and Andrew Green, the Opinion Editor of the Baltimore Sun.  

photo courtesy hessgunshow.com

Tom speaks with the artist and curator behind a provocative art exhibition called Gun Show.  The installation is currently at University of Maryland-Baltimore County's Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture in Catonsville.  David Hess is the artist, and Dr. Kathy O’Dell is the UMBC curator who's put together this thought-provoking installation, which examines the ubiquity of guns in American culture, and what that signifies about our values as a nation.   

Gunshow will be on display at UMBC until October 14th.  Dr. O’Dell will lead a gallery talk next Friday, October 6th and the following Wednesday, October  11th; both talks will begin at noon.  For more information click here.  

Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun

The Excel Academy, a high school on the west side of Baltimore, in Poppleton, has just under 100 students, many of whom have been working to overcome behavioral problems; some are dealing with homelessness or pregnancy. And there is another, heartbreaking problem that these students have had to cope with. Six of their classmates have been killed in street violence over the last year. Six kids, from one school.

To date, 263 people have been killed in Baltimore in 2017. Of those 263 people, 26 were children and young people who did not live long enough to celebrate their 21st birthdays. Most were teenagers. Two were babies. 

Today on Midday, a conversation about what the constant trauma of street violence does to the mental and emotional health of young people. Tom is joined by a panel of guests. 

Writer and poet Kondwani Fidel wrote about his experience growing up in Baltimore in a cover story for the City Paper titled How a young boy has been decaying in Baltimore since age 10: A Death Note.

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Three million people are without power in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.  And the latest deadly earthquake in Mexico has left more than 280 dead as search and rescue efforts continue.

Many critics, both foreign and domestic, considered President Donald Trump’s debut address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York a different kind of natural disaster, this one of the diplomatic variety.  He threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and referred to Kim Jong-un as “Rocket Man,” a soubriquet the President appears to think is funny.   Kim Jung-Un, however, found the President's comments to be less than amusing, blasting Trump as a  "dotard," and a "frightened dog."

City of St. Petersburg

On this edition of the the Midday News Wrap:  An IED explosion rocks  the Parsons Green tube station in Southwest London during rush hour this morning leaving 23 people hospitalized.  It is the fifth act of terrorism in Britain this year.  The death toll from Hurricane Irma continues to rise as clean-up continues.  At least 39 people on the U.S. mainland, and at least 43 people in the Caribbean have died as a result of Irma.   

On Wednesday night, Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer issued a statement saying they a reached an agreement about DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.  The President, however, tweeted on Thursday morning that there was no deal.  Also, the Department of Justice said this week that none of the Baltimore Police officers who were charged in the 2015 death of Freddie Gray will face federal civil rights charges in his death.   Discussing these issues and more,  Tom is joined by Michael Fletcher  of ESPN's The Undefeated and Andrew Revkin, senior reporter for climate and related issues at ProPublica.