Kathleen Cahill | WYPR

Kathleen Cahill

Producer, Midday

Kathleen is a producer for Midday With Tom Hall.  Previously, she was a producer for Maryland Morning and, before that,  a freelance radio reporter  for the WYPR newsroom.  She was for many years an editor at The Washington Post – on the Foreign Desk;  at Outlook  (The Post’s Sunday commentary section) and as a special projects editor for the Post’s Financial Desk.

Kathleen lived in Turkey for a couple of years in the ‘90s as Time Magazine’s stringer for the region and as deputy editor of  Dateline Turkey, an English-language weekly newspaper based in Istanbul.   (Sadly, her Turkish is rusty now, but if you know a few words, please stop by and say merhaba.)Early in her career, Kathleen was a frequent contributor to CFO, The Economist’s monthly magazine for financial executives, and a staff writer for Bostonia Magazine.

She is a graduate of Boston University and also attended University College Dublin, in Ireland.  She was a visiting media fellow at Duke University’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Journalism and Democracy and attended the wonderful Stanford Publishing Course.   She is the editor of two books.

Photo by Getty Images

It's the Midday News Wrap, our weekly roundtable on the week's major local, national and international developments, with a rotating panel of journalists and commentators.

We're approaching the 100-Day mark in the Trump administration: Republicans hold the House, the Senate and the White House, and yet -- while the Senate did approve Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch --President Trump has had little to show for as far as legislative victories are concerned.  What’s next on the president’s agenda?  Another attempt to repeal and replace the ACA?  Or perhaps he’ll move his long-promised tax reform agenda to the front burner, although we’re still waiting to see a tax reform proposal of any kind.   

Bill O’Reilly has lost his job, but Fox has helped leaven the pain of that loss for him with a $25 million dollar check, despite more than a dozen complaints that he is an indecent creep.  Even creeps have contracts, it appears.

And in Georgia, a young filmmaker came within 2 points of an outright victory for a seat in Congress.  An untested Democrat, Jon Ossoff, got 48% of the vote in a field of 18 mostly Republican candidates, just short of what he needed to win without a runoff.  Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel got less than 20%.  They’ll face each other head-to-head in June.  Polls today have them tied. 

Speaking of elections, the French are set to begin voting this Sunday in their presidential election.  There are 11 candidates in that race, four of whom are polling close to each other.   

And in the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May, who is preparing the British exit from the EU, has called for a national election in June -- three years ahead of schedule.  

In Turkey, voters seem to have narrowly approved President Recep Tayip Erdogan’s bid to consolidate his power.  President Trump quickly congratulated the Turkish leader, but critics have called the vote an erosion of democracy.

Arkansas, amid protests and court rulings, last night, carried out its first execution in more than a decade.

Here in Baltimore, Wednesday was the second anniversary of the death of Freddie Gray. 

And Dallas Dance, Baltimore’s charismatic school superintendent still in the first year of a four-year contract, announced, surprisingly, that he will retire at the end of June.  

Joining Tom on the News Wrap panel today:

Dr. Zeynep Tufekci is contributing opinion writer at the New York Times and author of  the new book Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protests.  She joins Tom on the line from Chapel Hill, where she is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina.

Kamau High joins us in Studio A.   He is managing editor of the Afro-American Newspaper, based here in Baltimore, and a former reporter and digital producer in New York City for the Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, among others.

Michael Fletcher is also here today.  He is a senior writer at ESPN’s The Undefeated.  He was for many years a national economics reporter and a White House reporter for The Washington Post, and before THAT,  he was a reporter for many years at The Baltimore Sun. 

Penguin Random House

Today, another edition of Midday on Ethics. Later this month, HBO and Oprah Winfrey will bring the story of Henrietta Lacks to television. The film, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” based on the best-selling book of the same name by Rebecca Skloot, premiers on April 22.

You may already be familiar with the story of Henrietta Lacks, who lived in southeastern Baltimore County in the early 1950s. She had cancer, and in 1951, doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital did a routine biopsy. She died eight months later. But her cells live on, because without her consent, and without the knowledge of her family, cells taken during the biopsy were used, for decades, in medical research around the world.   In fact the HeLa cell line -- H-E for Henrietta and L-A for Lacks -- revolutionized medical research, and, by some accounts, has resulted in billions of dollars worth of medical breakthroughs. None of the proceeds, however, went to Ms. Lacks or to her descendants.

Could the same thing happen today? We’ll try to untangle the ethical questions in this conversation about Informed Consent. How much have standards changed in the 65 years since Henrietta Lacks was a cancer patient at Hopkins? What are today’s standards?

Dr. Jeffrey Kahn is the Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. He stops by Midday regularly to talk about how ethicists help us frame the complex questions that surround stories like the extraordinary case of Henrietta Lacks.

Photo courtesy NY Daily News

It's the Midday News Wrap, our regular Friday effort to make sense of the week that was.  

This was a week of unraveling and unveiling.  The Trump administration unraveled Obama-era rules on internet privacy and the environment.  The House Intelligence Committee, which is -- or was -- investigating Russian meddling in the U.S. election and possible Trump ties to Russia, unraveled itself -- cancelling its public hearings amid loud calls for Committee chair Devin Nunes to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. 

The New York Times and the Washington Post reported that Nunes met secretly with two or possibly three White House officials and then briefed the president about information that he had not shared with his own committee.  The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating the same issues picked up the slack in what is, at least for the moment, a much more bi-partisan way.  It held ITS first hearing yesterday, which included dramatic testimony from a former FBI agent.   

In Baltimore, Mayor Catherine Pugh unveiled her first budget proposal, which calls for lowering taxes, while spending more on schools and police.  She also vetoed a bill that would have raised the minimum wage in the city to $15 by the year 2022. 

Britain took its first formal steps to exit the European Union, and Scotland took another step toward exiting Britain…

To help us untangle these stories, Tom is joined in Studio A by a terrific panel of journalists:

Frances Stead Sellers is a writer on the national staff of The Washington Post.  She covered the 2016 presidential election for The Post and she is currently a journalism fellow at Oxford University in the UK.  She was a key member of the Post team that produced the best-selling biography “Trump Revealed…”

E.R. Shipp is here.  She is Associate Professor and Journalist in Residence at Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism and Communication. She is a columnist for the Baltimore Sun and the winner, in 1996, of the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, when she was at the NY Daily News. She also worked as a reporter and editor at The New York Times and as the ombudsman at The Washington Post.

And Andy Green is here as well.  He’s the Editorial page editor for the Baltimore Sun.

We also take your calls and comments.

We begin today with Congressman Elijah Cummings. He represents Maryland's 7th District, which includes parts of Baltimore City and some of Baltimore and Howard Counties, and he serves as the ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. 

Rep. Cummings is holding his 20th annual Job Fair on Monday, April 3, from 9 am to 2 pm at the Fifth Regiment Armory near the State Center complex in Baltimore.  

More than 40 employers plan to be at the fair -- interviewing candidates for various positions. Here is a list of employers that plan to attend.  And here is the complete agenda of job-search workshops to be held at the fair. 

Alec Ross joined Tom in Studio A.   Ross is an innovation expert and the author of the New York Times best-selling book “The Industries of the Future,” about the changes that economies and societies can expect over the next decade -- and what we and our children should do to prepare for the changing nature of work. The book is now available in paperback.

He’s also a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, where he advises the university on turning new research into start-up companies.     For several years, he was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s senior adviser for innovation.  

He also worked on the Obama campaign and transition team from 2007 to early 2009.

Alec Ross will be one of the featured speakers at Light City, the festival of lights and ideas that kicks off for the second year on Friday in the Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore.  

He and Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, will be appearing together at Light City, a week from today. Their topic will be “A Path to the Future” for young people.

Kathleen Cahill

Today on Midday, a trip down memory lane with Gil Sandler. You know Gil for his marvelous "Baltimore Stories," heard every Friday morning on WYPR during "Morning Edition." Now he has written and narrated a new radio documentary, Baltimore in the Great Depression: Stories That Tell the Story. The hour-long documentary, produced by Luke Spicknall, and with a contribution by theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, airs for the first time tonight at 8 pm, here on WYPR.

Ken Jackson, who hosts the Big Band show In the Mood every Friday night at 9 here on WYPR, helped choose the music for tonight's program. He is also with Tom in studio, as is Fred Rasmussen of The Baltimore Sun. Rasmussen started his career at the Sun more than 40 years ago as a photo librarian. He had a column called “Back Story” for a long time; he’s a contributing writer to the “Retro Baltimore” feature in the Sun; and he’s been writing obituaries for the Sun for 25 years.

The Great Depression in Baltimore, and across the country, was a time of unemployment, uncertainty, and fear. But it was also a time of hope, Sandler says. Be sure to hear his radio documentary tonight at 8 pm. But first, listen as Gil, Ken and Fred join Tom with their reminiscences of Charm City in the 1930s. 

AP Photo/Karin Laub

Kathleen Cahill sits in for Tom Hall today.  

President Donald Trump signed his first executive order on immigrants and refugees on January 26th,  less than a week after his inauguration.  It went into effect immediately, leading to chaos – and protests – at airports across the United States. That executive order was put on hold by the courts in February.  President Trump signed a revised executive order on immigrants and refugees on March 6th, set to take effect March 16th.

(Just hours after this broadcast, two federal judges -- one in Hawaii and the other in Maryland -- dealt separate blows to the revised travel ban.  As a result, its implementation has been temporarily blocked nationwide. )    

The revised order is aimed at travelers from a targeted list of majority-Muslim countries, including Libya, Sudan Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Iran. This time around, Iraq is not on that list.  No new visas will be issued to people from these countries for 90 days. Like Trump’s first travel ban, Travel Ban 2.0, as it has come to be known,  puts the U.S. refugee program on hold for 120 days. That means refugees from all countries will be barred from entering the United States.  The question is: Will President Trump's latest travel ban do anything to make the country safer from terrorist attacks?

Kathleen is joined in the studio by two guests who have focused intensely on immigrant and refugee issues: lawyer Marielena Hincapie,  Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) in Los Angeles, and Bill Frelick, Director of the Refugee Rights Program at Human Rights Watch in Washington, D.C.

Hincapie comes to our Baltimore studio straight from a hearing  at the federal court in Greenbelt, MD, where the ACLU and refugee rights organizations, including the NILC, have brought legal challenge to the travel ban. 

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

It’s Friday, and time for  the Midday News Wrap.

On Capitol Hill, two House committees voted Thursday to approve a Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act. Some Republicans say it doesn’t go far enough in repealing Obamacare. Other critics, including groups of doctors, hospitals and insurance companies, have called the proposed plan unworkable.

Rod Rosenstein, the current US attorney for MD, was in the hot seat on Tuesday during his confirmation hearing to become the nation’s Deputy Attorney General. If confirmed, he would lead any investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, now that A.G. Jeff Sessions has recused himself. He did that when he admitted to failing to disclose his meetings as a Trump campaign surrogate with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. 

As in other recent weeks, the news has been dominated by Donald Trump. In a Tweet early Saturday morning, Trump leveled an extraordinary claim -- accusing President Obama of ordering wiretaps at Trump Tower in New York. The White House has yet to provide any evidence to support the claim. They’ve called for a Congressional investigation. 

And in Baltimore, Police Commissioner Davis puts an end to undercover policing in the city, in the wake of last week’s indictment of seven police officers on federal racketeering charges. 

Joining Tom today for the Midday News Wrap: 

Julie Bykowicz. She’s a White House Reporter for the Associated Press. She covered politics, and the 2016 election, for AP. Before that she was a political reporter for Bloomberg and for 10 years was a reporter at the Baltimore Sun, where she covered state politics, city courts and crime, among other things. 

Fraser Smith. He's a columnist for the Daily Record. He's also a longtime observer of Baltimore, and was at The Baltimore Sun for many years. He is about to step down as WYPR’s senior news analyst. But you’ll still hear him on our airwaves as a WYPR contributor. 

Classical guitarist Junhong Kuang joins Tom live today in Studio A -- and plays some glorious music.  He is the 17-year-old winner of the 2016 Yale Gordon Concerto Competition at the Peabody Conservatory, here in Baltimore.

Kuang is a native of Chengdu, China. He began playing guitar at age 5. At 15, he was accepted into the Peabody Conservatory where he is working toward a bachelor of arts degree in guitar performance under the tutelage of guitarist Manuel Barrueco.

Already in his young career, Kuang has given nearly 100 concerts. And will give another one tomorrow afternoon, at 3 pm at the Baltimore Museum of Art as part of the Shriver Hall Concert Series.

That free concert is sold out, but you can hear Kuang's extraordinary musical talents by listening to his performance today on Midday.  Enjoy!

Cover art courtesy W. W. Norton & Co., Publisher.

Russia remains firmly in the news. Seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that the Kremlin attempted to influence voters during the Presidential campaign, by spreading disinformation and hacking emails of Clinton campaign officials, and senior leadership of the Democratic National Committee. One senior US official, Gen. Michael Flynn, was forced to resign for not being forthright about his contacts with the Russian Ambassador, and another, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is facing calls to resign for doing essentially, the same thing. America’s posture towards Russia has ebbed and flowed, through two world wars and the Cold War, to the optimism of Perestroika during the Brezhnev/Gorbachev years. Relations deteriorated significantly during the Obama administration, especially when Russian aggression in Crimea and Ukraine led to international sanctions.

President Donald Trump appears to think highly of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but skeptics think that Trump’s bromance with Putin is premised in naiveté, rather than a studied understanding of geo- politics. As Will Englund points out in his new book, it’s nothing new that an American president might not understand Russia, and be ill-equipped to predict what Russian intentions are on the world stage. Englund is an editor on the Washington Post Foreign Desk, and he oversees that paper’s Russia coverage. A Pulitzer Prize winner, he has had three tours as a Moscow correspondent for both The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun. His book is called March 1917: On the Brink of War and Revolution (published by W.W. Norton & Co.).  Englund joins Tom on the line from the newsroom of The Washington Post.

Will Englund will be talking about his book a week from Tuesday (March 14) at the Ivy Bookshop in North Baltimore, and a month from today (April 6) at the Johns Hopkins Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Baltimore's Charles Village neighborhood.

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