Cianna B. Greaves | WYPR

Cianna B. Greaves

Midday Intern

Cianna is an intern with Midday

Photos courtesy State delegates offices

The MD General Assembly will convene for the 2018 Session in a little less than a month, on January 10th.  By the time that sine die rolls around in April, lawmakers will have considered hundreds of bills, and will have jockeyed for position on any number of important bills that will compete for the attention of their fellow legislators, leadership and their constituents. 

The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland will be rolling out their priority agenda for the upcoming Maryland General Assembly session, reviewing policy and pushing for legislation that will champion issues impacting black communities in Baltimore and across the state.  

Today, we are joined in studio by three of 51 members of the MD Legislative Black Caucus, who represent the Baltimore area. 

Del. Cheryl Glenn is the chair of the caucus.  She represents the 45th District, here in Baltimore City.  

Del. Curt Anderson serves as Chair of the Baltimore City House Delegation.  Representative of the 43rd Legislative District. 

And Del. Benjamin Brooks, Sr. joins us as well.  He represents the 10th district in Baltimore County.  He was elected in 2015.  He also serves as a Deputy Majority Whip, and a member of the Economic Matters Committee. 

On this week's edition of the Midday NewsWrap: a federal government shutdown averted for two whole weeks; the Mueller investigation turns to President Trump’s borrowing history; Donald Trump Jr. invokes attorney-client privilege in testimony to Congress, and Roy Moore is far from being kicked out of the special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Also, former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager is sentenced to 20 years for the killing of Walter Scott.  And the killing of Detective Sean Suiter here in Baltimore more than three weeks ago remains unsolved.  The FBI has been asked to take over the investigation.  No word back from them yet. 

Joining Tom in Studio A to discuss this week's news is Alec MacGillis, politics and government reporter for Pro Publica and a Robin Toner Prize-winner for excellence in political reporting.

But we begin with President Trump's announcement Wednesday that he has ordered the U.S. Embassy in Israel to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem -- a city claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as their capital, and whose status was to have been decided in a final Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.  For an analysis of what Trump's controversial order could mean for such an agreement -- and for the wider Mideast peace -- Tom speaks with Phyllis Bennis, the director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. She joins us on the line from her office in Washington, DC.

Among the stories on this week's edition of the Midday News Wrap:  former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn appears in federal court in Washington to plead guilty to lying to the FBI about a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador.  The plea provides another indication that General Flynn is cooperating with that investigation. 

Just in time for the holiday, a new movie called The Man Who Invented Christmas is opening in movie theaters across the country. The film tells the story of 19th-century British novelist Charles Dickens and how he came to write his immortal classic. It's a story that will be of special interest in the Eastern Shore community of Chestertown, Maryland, which this weekend is launching a festival that celebrates the famous scribe. 

Photo by Mike Roemer, Associated Press

On this edition of  Midday on Sports: the NFL limps from one PR disaster to another as they continue to  battle declining ratings; the Baltimore Ravens, having lost five of their last seven games, try to keep play-off dreams alive; and 'Bama feels the 'Burn after Saturday's loss in college football playoffs. 

To sort out these and other developments in the world of sports, Tom is joined by LaTasha Miles of Women Talk Football Too and the SHE-SPN Network, and Mark Hyman, c0-author of the book, Concussions and Our Kids: America's Leading Expert on How to Protect Young Athletes and Keep Sports Safe and an assistant teaching professor with George Washington University's sports management program

Photo courtesy mybrotherskeeperbaltimore.org

The nation observes Thanksgiving on Thursday, and for most of us, it will be a day of traditional feasting, and enjoying the warmth of family and friends.  But for thousands of people, the challenges of housing insecurity will make Thanksgiving just another day in which they must wrestle with a persistent problem that's hard for most people even to imagine.

By the city’s official count, there are nearly 3,000 people who are experiencing homelessness in Baltimore. But housing advocates point to the people who are likely not included in that figure.  People who are doubling up with other families, for example. And, according to the city school system, there are 3,000 homeless school children in the city.  So, logically, the total number of people without homes in our midst, in our city, could be many thousands more  than 3,000.

Are we doing enough. and are we doing what works, to help homeless people get back on their feet?  What more can be done and what should be done?  Joining Tom this afternoon in Studio A to address these questions: 

Kevin Lindamoodthe president and CEO of Healthcare for the Homeless, and Antonia Fasanelli, an attorney and executive director of the Homeless Persons Representation Project, Maryland’s only legal services organization dedicated to eliminating homelessness.

And on the line from the University of Maryland School of Social Work in Baltimore, adjunct professor Lauren Siegel, a social worker and co-founder of Mosaic Makers, a non-profit community arts program, who has spent the past 30 years helping people to understand -- and cope with -- homelessness. 

On this edition of Midday we focus on a particular group of immigrants, who are affected by immigration policy in ways unlike any other group.  Black African Immigrants are the fasting growing immigrant population in the United States.  According to PEW research, there was a 137% surge in the Black African Immigrant population between 2000 and 2013.  10% of all Blacks living in the United States are foreign born, up from 3% in the 1980s. 

They are a population that is often highly educated, family oriented and hardworking, all virtues that from the cornerstone of the American value system. So why do these Black immigrants face the highest levels of deportation, and unemployment?

We take a look at the challenges that Black African immigrants face as they strive to lay roots in this country and how the eradication of programs like DACA and the Diversity Visa Program affect their prosperity.

Aaron Nah/Bush Chicken

For this portion of the Newswrap, Tom focuses on several major news developments on the African continent. 

Contentious presidential elections in Liberia and Kenya have dominated recent headlines, as results in both contests have been tainted by allegations of fraud. As Liberia attempts its first nonviolent transition to power in over seven decades, its Supreme Court has been the linchpin to peace, amid accusations of bribery and intimidation. 

In Kenya, while the courts have tried to uphold the electoral process, they have not been able to avert bloodshed: nearly 30 people have died during election-related protests, ethnic violence, and clashes with police.  

Finally, an examination of the situations in Niger and the Sahel, where four Green Berets were killed during US military operations, ostensibly in support of local anti-terrorism forces.  

Emira Woods is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank that works on social and economic justice issues. She joins Tom for an update on Africa. 

Photo Courtesy Full Circle Dance Company

We're going to take a look now at how creative artists are addressing a very serious and longstanding problem.  Domestic violence affects nearly one in four women.  According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The National Institute of Justice, 22% of women experience at least one physical assault by a partner during their adulthood.

The Full Circle Dance Company has drawn on the stories of women affected by domestic violence to inspire their latest collaboration: a benefit performance this weekend called "Unshamed: Baring Our Secrets and Our Souls."

Joining Tom in Studio A to talk about the benefit performance -- and the difficult issue it's addressing --  is Donna Jacobs, the Artistic Director of Full Circle Dance Company, who is also a Senior Vice President at the University of Maryland Medical System

Dr. Carnell Cooper joins Tom as well.  He is an associate professor of surgery and the director of the Center for Injury Prevention and Policy at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

The Full Circle Dance Company performs "Unshamed: Baring Our Secrets and Our Souls" at the Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park, Maryland. on Saturday, November 4 at 7:30pm, and on Sunday, November 5 at 2:30pm.  A portion of all ticket proceeds will be donated to the Bridge Domestic Violence Program at UMMS.   Click here for directions and ticket info. 

photo courtesy BCPS

Today, a Midday Newsmaker interview with Dr. Sonja Santelises, the president and CEO of the Baltimore City Public Schools.  School has been back in session for two months; for many more months than that, the Kirwan Commission has debated ways to re-vamp the funding formula for schools statewide.  Their findings were to have been released by the end of the year.  Now, it appears that we won’t hear their ideas until well into next year.  We’ll find out what that means for our city’s kids.  Dr. Santelises joins Tom for the hour in Studio A, and takes your questions and comments.

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.