Midday | WYPR

Midday

Monday-Friday from noon-1:00, Tom Hall and his guests are talking about what’s on your mind, and what matters most to Marylanders:  the latest news, local and national politics, education and the environment, popular culture and the arts, sports and science, race and religion, movies and medicine.  We welcome your questions and comments. E-mail us at midday@wypr.org, tweet us: @middaytomhall, or call us at 410-662-8780.
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Meet the Midday team

Midday programs with Sheilah Kast as host ended on September 16, 2016

Archive prior to October 5, 2015

Iron Crow Theatre

It's Thursday and that means Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us to spotlight one of the region's thespian offerings.  Today, she talks with Midday senior producer and guest host Rob Sivak about "The Cradle Will Rock," a 1937 "play in music" written by the late Marc Blitzstein that's getting a spirited revival by Iron Crow Theatre, at the Theatre Project, now until Sunday, October 8th.

Blitzstein’s pro-union, anti-capitalist musical was the first ever shut down by the federal government.  It's an allegorical but in-your-face indictment of capitalism and socio-political corruption -- too-familiar themes in today's headlines.  Even as it attacks the wealthy class and the political power it unjustly wields, it also pays homage to the oppressed and the poor, and those struggling to survive. Brechtian in its bold scope and style, The Cradle Will Rock is considered by many critics to be one of the most historically significant works in American theater.

The Cradle Will Rock revival by Iron Crow Theatre continues at The Theatre Project until Sunday, October 8th.

Johns Hopkins University

On this edition of Midday on Ethics, Dr. Jeffrey Kahn stops by Studio A to discuss human gene editing and some of the ethical questions that surround its implementation.  Dr. Kahn is director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Center of Bioethics.  We also take a look at some of the first successful gene therapies, including one that the FDA recently approved for the first time in its history. 

The approved therapy is aimed at adults and some children with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a common form of the disease. It  involves genetically modifying immune cells from a patient’s blood and then infusing them back into the same patient.

Dr. Kahn also addresses listener questions and comments.

REUTERS/Chris Wattie

 

We begin with an update on the Las Vegas mass shooting that left 59 dead and more than 500 people injured. Almost immediately after the tragic shooting --which is being characterized as the largest mass shooting in recent U.S history-- Democrats and Republicans began the predictable debate about gun regulation in our country. Unfortunately it’s story we know all too well. Last year, following what is now the second largest mass shooting in recent history at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Democrats proposed extended background checks in private gun sales, and banning sales to suspected terrorists. Republicans proposed increased funding for a national background check database; and a judicial review process for people on a terror watch list when they attempted to purchase firearms. None of those bills passed. In 2012, after 20 children and six educators were fatally shot at Sandy Hook elementary in Newtown Connecticut, President Obama made an emotional appeal to Congress for tougher gun laws. Obama signed several executive orders relating to gun control, but neither of the two major pieces of gun legislation proposed at the time passed in the Senate. 

What To Expect From The Supreme Court This Session

Oct 2, 2017
supremecourt.gov

Today is the first Monday in October, which marks the beginning of a new term for the Supreme Court.  

Last week, the courts decided to postpone hearings on President Trump’s travel ban, but the justices still have several contentious cases to consider. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking to law students at Georgetown University recently, predicted it be, quote, “momentous.” They are expected to take on political gerrymandering in Wisconsin; voting rights in Ohio; religious exemptions from discrimination laws.

It is also the first full term for Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed last April, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. 

Midday legal analyst Edward Smith joins Tom in Studio A. He’s a retired  private practice lawyer, who's worked in the office of the State’s Attorney and he has argued cases in front of the Supreme Court.  

Tom is also joined by Jamal Greene, the Dwight Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and frequent media commentator.  

Photo courtesy New Press

Today, a Midday Newsmaker interview with  Georgetown University law professor and former federal prosecutor Paul Butler.  He’s written a book that is a clarion call for a complete change in the way we think about the problems of racial inequality and injustice.  

The book is Chokehold: Policing Black Men – A Renegade Prosecutor’s Radical Thoughts on How to Disrupt the System.  In it, Butler quotes the famous Langston Hughes poem, Harlem, in which Hughes asks, “What happens to a dream deferred?  Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?...Or does it explode?”

Butler argues for explosion in this provocative book, which questions assumptions long held by those on both the left and the right.  He also chronicles how the curse of White Supremacy has dictated in a fundamental way the political, judicial, and social norms in America; and he proposes some very controversial ideas, such as abolition of prisons. Throughout, Butler argues the case for radical reform persuasively, and with tremendous grace, erudition and scholarly authority. 

Professor Butler joins Tom from NPR studios in Washington, D.C. 

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.  

photo courtesy Pixabay

We’ve all heard of the campaigns in the US to legalize medical and recreational uses for marijuana -- the cannabis plant with potent therapeutic and hallucinogenic properties.  Less well-known is the campaign to legalize marijuana’s weaker cousin -- hemp -- an industrial crop that won’t get you high, but yields a high-quality fiber and oil that’s used to make thousands of products, from rope to soap. 

Hemp is grown commercially in about 40 countries around the world, including Canada, but not in the United States, where, since the 1970s, the federal government has classified hemp, like marijuana, as a dangerous drug.  But things are changing.  A resurgent interest in the economic potentials of this age-old crop has led the federal government and many states to take the first steps toward legalizing hemp production. Maryland has been slow to take those steps, but there are signs of change here , too, and we’re going to talk about that with three guests today who’ve taken a keen interest in hemp... 

Joining Tom in the studio is David Fraser-Hidalgo. He’s a Maryland State delegate - a Democrat who has represented District 15, including Montgomery County, since 2013.  He has also co-sponsored a series of hemp legalization bills over the past few years, including an unsuccessful measure introduced earlier this year during the 2017 General Assembly session. 

Also in the studio is Rona Kobell. She’s a writer for the Chesapeake Bay Journal, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, and the author of an Abell Foundation report published this past spring, called Hope for Hemp: A Misunderstood Plant Prepares for its Comeback.

And joining us on the line from public radio station WMRA in Harrisonburg, Virginia, is Glenn Rodes.  He’s a farmer from Rockingham County in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He is a partner in Riverhill Farms, and works with his parents, two brothers, and four nephews. The Mennonite family raises turkeys, operates a dairy, grows crops, feeds beef cattle, and does custom harvesting.  They also grow a bit of hemp.  Glenn Rodes is one of two farmers who’ve partnered with James Madison University on a hemp research project to explore ways to grow the industrial crop with existing farm equipment.

photo courtesy Red Branch Theatre Company

It's Thursday, and that means Midday's theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, once again joins Tom in the studio, this week with her review of a new musical production of The Bridges of Madison County, by the Red Branch Theatre Company in Columbia, Maryland.

Based on the best-selling 1992 novel by Robert James Waller (who died this past March at the age of 77), the musical adaptation describes a four-day romantic encounter between Francesca (played by Erin Granfield), a married but lonely Italian housewife in Iowa, and a traveling National Geographic photographer named Robert Kincaid (played by Ryan Burke). 

The sentimental storyline is enriched with a musical score by Tony Award®-winning composer Jason Robert Brown and book by Pulitzer Prize winning Marsha Norman.  The Red Branch Theatre Company production is directed by Clare Shaffer, with music direction by Paige Rammelkamp.

The Bridges of Madison County (which contains adult language and themes) continues at the Red Branch Theatre Company through Saturday, October 14.

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.

penguin random house

Author and musician James McBride joins Tom to talk about his latest collection of stories Five Carat Soul. McBride won the National Book Award for his novel, The Good Lord Bird. He’s written an internationally acclaimed memoir, The Color of Water, and a novel about the Underground Railroad called Song Yet SungHis 2002 novel, Miracle at St. Anna was made into a hit movie by Spike Lee.

The stories in Five Carat Soul are tragic and hilarious. In one four-part story, we meet the members of the Five Carat Soul Bottom Bone Band -- Goat, Beanie, Bunny, Dex, Ray Ray and Butter. We meet many more unforgettable characters, including a toy broker on a quest to procure a most unique train with a complicated history; a Union Soldier who unexpectedly becomes an adoptive parent; the devil, and a lion named Harold.  

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