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: @MiddayWYPR, 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

Photo courtesy CBS News

Our guest today is Heather Mizeur, the former Democratic primary gubernatorial candidate who has a new project called Soul Force Politics.   The project lives online at MizMaryland.org, and includes a  weekly podcast and a policy blog, and will eventually run women-empowerment workshops.

In her podcast conversations with guests like Melissa Etheridge, Gov. Larry Hogan, or film maker and actor Sonja Sohn, she makes the case that spirituality should not be divorced from our political discourse. And her new project explores the merging of what she calls inner wisdom and external actions, and how that union can animate political movements. 

Photo by Joan Marcus

It's Thursday, and that means it's time for our visit with theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins us each week with her review of one of the region's many thespian offerings. This week, she tells us about the new touring production of The Lion King, the Tony-Award-winning musical on stage at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre until December 10th.

A stage adaptation of Disney's Academy Award-winning 1994 animation, The Lion King tells the story of Simba, a young lion prince born into a royal pride of African lions. Simba idolizes his regal father, Mufasa, but resists the responsibilities of his status in the pride.  When his wicked uncle Scar seals his grip on power by taking his father’s life, Simba flees to neighboring lands, leaving the life he knew behind. Eventually, his responsibility to family comes calling on the adult prince, and Simba is persuaded to challenge his powerful uncle, bring goodness back to his ancestral home, and fulfill his destiny to be king.

Directed by Tony winner Julie Taymor, The Lion King is the highest grossing Broadway production of all time. The score by Elton John and Tim Rice features the songs “The Circle of Life,” “I Just Can't Wait to Be King,” “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel The Love Tonight.” The show has been seen by over 90 million people worldwide, with 24 productions happening around the globe.

The touring production of The Lion King stars Gerald Caesar as Simba, Mark Campbell as Scar, Gerald Ramsey as Mufasa, Buyi Zama as Rafiki, Nia Holloway as Nala, Greg Jackson as Zazu, Ben Lipitz as Pumbaa and Nick Cordileone as Timon.

The Lion King continues at the Hippodrome Theatre until Sunday, December 10th.  For ticket information and showtimes, click here.

Photos courtesy John Bullock, Zeke Cohen

Our guests this afternoon are two of the newest members of the Baltimore City Council. They join us on Midday to reflect on their service and the urgent affairs of the city, as they complete their first year in office. 

A few months ago, Tom spoke with freshman council members Shannon Snead, Leon Pinkett and Ryan Dorsey

Today, we welcome Dr. John T. Bullock, who represents the 9th Councilmanic District.  That includes West and Southwest Baltimore.  Before being elected to the council he was an assistant professor of political science at Towson University, and the executive director of the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance.  He and his wife are the parents of two sons, Thomas and George.  They live in Union Square…

Councilman Zeke Cohen joins us as well.  He represents the 1st District, which includes Canton, Fells Point, Greektown, and O’Donnell Heights.  He taught in local public schools as a member of Teach for America, and later went on to found The Intersection, which works on college readiness and leadership skills for high school students.  He lives in Canton, where he and his wife are expecting their first child, a daughter, in early December.

Like the entire 14-member council, Dr. Bullock and Mr. Cohen are Democrats.  They were elected in November 2016 along with six other candidates who were joining the council for the first time when they were sworn into office on December 8th of last year.  What are the issues that most animate them?  What are the issues that most animate you?  The councilmen spend some time addressing your calls and emails. 

Johns Hopkins University

Today, another edition of Midday on Ethics. 

We’ve talked several times over the past year about gene editing, and the ethical questions that go along with potentially editing the genes of plants and animals, including humans.  Today, we revisit these questions with Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, the  Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics.  Why?  Because there is some news, perhaps a new way of thinking, about a technology developed only four years ago called Crispr.  It allows scientists to edit genes precisely, to do things, potentially, like reduce the risk of passing along an inherited disease, or eliminate the risk all together.  Or, for example, to eliminate the mosquitoes that carry malaria.  

About a year and a half ago, scientists proposed what to many people seemed like a good idea at the time -- using Crispr to save endangered animals that were threatened by an invasive species by implanting a so-called gene drive -- a gene that would reduce the fertility of the invasive animals, thus giving the endangered species in the same area a better chance at survival. Last week, the news caught our eye that the very scientist who had proposed this originally now says that field testing the gene drive would be a bad idea. So why is that? What are the unintended consequences of gene editing, including human gene editing? Dr. Jeff Kahn jojns Tom in the studio to explain how ethicists frame complex questions like this, and to answer your questions.

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 Monica Reinagel

(This program originally aired on September 13, 2017)

Many of us are carrying a bit more weight on our fragile frames than we would prefer. In fact, more Americans are obese than ever before.  

But what about folks who are technically "overweight" but whose cholesterol is okay, who have normal blood pressure, and whose other health indicators are not worrisome?   Some experts say that’s okay.  This belief -- that you can be fit and fat -- is driving the so-called Health at Every Size movement.

The Nutrition Diva, Monica Reinagel, joins Tom Hall in Studio A to tell us more about this movement.  She is an author and a licensed nutritionist.  She blogs at nutritionovereasy.com and she joins Midday for our Smart Nutrition segment every other month.  

Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock.com

It’s the What Ya' Got Cookin'? Thanksgiving edition, a beloved tradition here on Midday, going all the way back to 2016. Midday’s resident foodies John Shields and Sascha Wolhandler join Tom with suggestions, tips and words of comfort for folks cooking the big meal. Plus, listeners calls and emails about their Thanksgiving traditions. 

John Shields is a chef, author and the host of Coastal Cooking and Chesapeake Bay Cooking on Maryland Public Television and PBS. He and his husband John Gilligan are the proprietors of Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Check out John's feature on Chesapeake Thanksgiving in Bay Weekly Magazine

photo courtesy gbmc.org

It's another edition of the Midday Healthwatch, our monthly conversation with Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana WenShe’ll bring us up to date on the city’s continuing battle with the twin epidemics of violence and drug abuse.  We’ll also talk about health insurance.  Record numbers of Marylanders are signing up under the Affordable Care Act.  How the city’s B’more for Healthy Babies initiative is giving babies a healthy start.  And, despite record high temperatures today, it’s Code Blue season.  How are some of our most vulnerable citizens going to stay safe this winter? 

Photo courtesy Mean Girls Broadway

Our indefatigable theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, joins us with her review of  Mean Girls, writer-comedian Tina Fey's lively new musical theater adaptation of her hit 2004 movie, now getting its world premiere on the boards at The National Theatre in Washington, D.C., before heading to Broadway.

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. 

The manhunt is still underway for an unidentified suspect who fatally shot Baltimore City homicide detective Sean Suiter last week. Police and state officials are now offering a $215,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the assailant. 

Judge Catherine Blake issued a decision in the decade-long lawsuit between Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the state. The lawsuit concerns diversity and Judge Blake ruled that neither party’s solutions were adequate to boost diversity within the HBCUs. Without a clear victor, many are wondering if it’s back to the drawing board for the case.

On this edition of the Midday News Wrap, Tom spoke with  NPR Justice Correspondent Carrie Johnson, Baltimore Sun Opinion Editor Andy Green and longtime local columnist Barry  Rascovar about  some of the week's top national and local news stories including further accusations of sexual misconduct, this time against Sen. Al Franken;  the tax code revision passed by the House yesterday; and the status of the Senate plan, which -- for now, anyway -- is tied to repealing the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act. 

The News Wrap began with discussion of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony this week to the House Judiciary Committee, the ongoing Russia investigations, and the upcoming special election in Alabama to fill a U.S. Senate seat.  Carrie Johnson joined Tom from the studios of NPR in Washington.  

Here in Baltimore, Police Detective Sean Suiter, a 43-year-old father of five children, died yesterday from injuries he received when he was shot in the head on Wednesday afternoon in Harlem Park while investigating a murder there.   

In other local news, a verdict was reached this morning in the Trial Board hearing for Baltimore Police Lt. Brian Rice, the highest ranking officer involved in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray in 2015.  He has been cleared of all charges. 

WYPR reporter Dominique Maria Bonessi was at Lt. Rice's Trial Board hearing this morning.  She joined Tom in studio to discuss the verdict. 

For those of us who may overindulge between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, it’s not always easy to stick to a workout routine or diet, especially if we’re traveling or going to parties at the office or in the neighborhood.  Just in time for Thanksgiving, we’ll talk about best practices for fending off those extra holiday pounds. 

Julia Ngo is a BodyPump Group Fitness instructor. She teaches at the Downtown Athletic Club; and at the Merritt Athletic Club in Canton. Sam Bassi is an exercise specialist and personal trainer at the DAC and elsewhere.  Tamarra Fleming Wimbish, aka Diva T, owns and operates a fitness studio called Diva T Fitness or DTF Studio & Rental Venue in Parkville. She’s a licensed  personal trainer and Zumba instructor. She also teaches Cranked Up Cardio, an aerobic dance program that uses Baltimore Club Music. 

photo by Richard Anderson

It's Thursday, and that means our peripatetic theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, joins Tom in Studio A for our weekly look at the region's thespian offerings.  Today, Judy reviews Shakespeare in Love, the new stage version of the multi-Oscar winning 1998 film that's now on the boards at Baltimore Center Stage.  Adapted by Lee Hall from ​from Marc Norman's and Tom Stoppard’s original screenplay, Shakespeare in Love is a funny, bawdy back-story take on the famous Bard's creative muse, and on the complex relationship between art and love.

Pixabay

A student is suspended from the University of Tulsa for statements his husband made on Facebook; posters advertising “Straight Pride Week” ordered removed from bulletin boards at Youngstown State University. A law professor is asked to resign when she wears blackface to a Halloween party, to promote a conversation about race. Today on Midday, a conversation about free speech on college campuses. Are trigger warnings and safe spaces in higher education stifling intellectual thought and violating the first amendment or creating intellectually diverse and inclusive campuses? 

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.

Creative Commons

Now, a look at how Marylanders are trying to make sure they have health insurance.  Open Enrollment through the Maryland Health Connection began on the first of November.  In previous years, the enrollment period has lasted 3 months.  This year, the enrollment period is only half that long.  It ends next month, on December 15th. 

With about a month to go, we thought it would be a good idea to check-in on how enrollment is going so far.  Tom's guest in Studio A is Dr. Howard Haft.  He’s the Interim Executive Director of the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange, which runs Maryland Health Connection.Gov, the website where people shop and sign-up for health and dental plans.

Creative Commons

Now, a conversation about the challenges posed by caregiving. 

Forty-two million Americans -- one in four adults -- is currently shouldering the enormous responsibility of caring for an aging relative.  Here in Maryland, more than 770,000 people have assumed the role of caregiver for their parents, grandparents, or family friends, either at home or elsewhere.

What toll is this taking on the caregivers?  Can they find the resources and services to cope with the emotional, physical, and financial stress of caregiving?  We asked two experts in the field to join us with some answers.

Amy Goyer is a specialist on Aging, Family and Caregiving at AARP in Washington.   She’s the author of “Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving,” in which she tells the story of her caring for her parents and her sister.  She joins Tom this afternoon on the line from NPR studios in New York.

Dorinda Adams is the Program Manager in the Office of Adult Services in the Maryland Department of Human Services.  She also helps direct the Maryland Caregivers Commission.  She joins Tom in Studio A.

AP Photo

In this edition of the Midday News Wrap, we focus on the status of the Republican plan to overhaul the tax code. The GOP-controlled House and Senate have hammered together separate plans that propose a $1.5 trillion tax cut, but with a different set of rates, different deductions and on a different timetable.  Democrats, and not just a few Republicans, reject both plans as tax windfalls for the rich that assault America's middle class and threaten the poor. 

To help us sort out some of the key parts and operating principles of the GOP tax plans, we turn to Marshall Steinbaum , Research Director and a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, an economic think tank based in New York.  Mr. Steinbaum joins Tom from NPR studios in Washington DC.  

Associated Press Photo

President Donald Trump is in the final stretch of his marathon, 12-day swing through Asia that has taken him to Japan, South Korea and China. He arrived in Vietnam Friday, and over the weekend  he travels to the Philippines for a regional security summit, before heading back to Washington Tuesday. 

The often-bombastic US president toned down his rhetoric against North Korea during his diplomatic tour, stating in Seoul, South Korea, that America was not seeking "conflict or confrontation."  Mr. Trump also presented a far softer side during his two days in China, the world's number-two economic power, where he arrived to much pomp and circumstance.  As President Xi asserts his power within China and around the world, is President Trump's new welcoming approach to Beijing a diplomatic masterstroke or something less ?   

Weston Konishi joins us in Studio A.  He’s a Senior Fellow at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation in Washington, D.C.   

Also joining the conversation is Matthew Pennington.   He reports from Washington on US-Asian affairs for the Associated Press, and formerly served as the AP’s correspondent in Southeast Asia, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  He joins us from the AP's Washington studios.

Photo courtesy Peabody Institute

Tom's guest today is celebrating a homecoming, of sorts.  Since receiving his artist diploma in conducting from The Peabody Institute eight years ago, conductor Joseph Young has appeared with orchestras throughout the US and around the world.   Now, he’s back in Baltimore, and back at Peabody, but he’s not a student this time.  He’s the newly appointed Director of Ensembles at the world renowned conservatory. 

He’s conducting one of those ensembles, the Peabody Chamber Orchestra, in a concert tomorrow night at Peabody's Griswold Hall at 8:00pm, in a program that will include music by Bach, Ravel and Haydn.  Click here for details about this free concert.  But right now, Joseph Young is Tom's guest in Studio A...

Photo courtesy Ira Forman

Today it's another edition of Living Questions, our monthly series on religion in the public sphere, produced in collaboration with the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies.

We focus today on the persistent problem of anti-Semitism.  Acts of bigotry and intolerance toward the Jewish community in the US are on the rise, with a particular spike after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, this summer.  There have been 60 more incidents in our region this year than occurred in 2016.  And we’re not talking about anonymous trolls on the internet.  These are physical incidents of bullying and vandalism, which often take place on school and college campuses. 

Tom's guest on today's Living Questions segment is Ira Forman, a distinguished visiting professor at Georgetown University and senior fellow at the University's Center for Jewish Civilization. Professor Forman, who has worked for more than forty years as a leading advocate for Jewish culture and community, is currently teaching a course in Contemporary Anti-Semitism.  Previously, he spent four years as the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.  Forman and most other Obama political appointees were asked to resign their positions this past January by the incoming Trump Administration; the Special Envoy post is still vacant.  What does that vacancy signal about current U.S. engagement in programs to combat anti-Semitism? What has the US Government traditionally done and what should it be doing at home and abroad to stop the curse of religious intolerance?  

Photo by Jim Preston

Theater critric J.Wynn Rousuck joins us in Studio A every Thursday with a review of one of the region's thespian offerings, and this week, she tells us about a new production of Origin of the Species now on stage at Strand Theater Company in Baltimore.

St. Martin's Press

In jurisdictions throughout Maryland, in New Jersey and in Virginia, and elsewhere yesterday, Democrats picked up wins in Mayor’s offices, Governor’s Mansions and State Houses. At the top of the Virginia ticket, Democratic Lt. Governor Ralph Northam walloped former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie by nine points, in a race that many around the country saw as a referendum on the Presidency of Donald Trump.

It was on this day, November 8th, one year ago, that Trump shocked the world when he completed his transition from campaign joke to President- elect. We are marking that anniversary today with a conversation with E.J. Dionne and Norman Ornstein, two of America’s most astute and respected political observers who are also the authors of a persuasive and insightful new book.

The book is called One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate and the Not-Yet Deported. They wrote it with Thomas Mann of the University of California and the Brookings Institution.

E.J. Dionne is a senior fellow at Brookings, a syndicated columnist at The Washington Post and a visiting professor at Harvard University.

Norm Ornstein is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing columnist and editor at the Atlantic and the National Journal. They joined Tom from a studio at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

Centers for Disease Control

To date, more than 60 women have accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. The accusations range from indecent exposure to rape. A new piece in the New Yorker written by Ronan Farrow alleges that Weinstein hired private investigators to collect information on his accusers and the journalists who tried to expose him in an effort to suppress stories about his predatory behavior.  

In the days after the New York Times published the initial story on Weinstein detailing a few of the allegations, more people came forward with sexual assault allegations against other powerful men in Hollywood including producer James Toback and actor Kevin Spacey. At least 60 women have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault; a majority of those accusations came to light in 2014 and 2015. The trial in one of those cases ended in a mistrial earlier this year. 

photo by Kenneth K. Lam - Baltimore Sun

We begin with a look at the Baltimore Police Department's trial board hearing that's considering, in the first of three administrative proceedings, whether disciplinary action should be taken against Officer Cesar Goodson, Jr., one of six officers indicted in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray in 2015.  He drove the van that transported Mr. Gray.  Goodson was acquitted of the charges, including one for second-degree "depraved heart" murder, brought against him by State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.  But last week and again today (Monday), he sat before a three-member panel engaged by the Police Department to determine whether or not his actions merit disciplinary action.

Of the six police officers originally charged in the Freddie Gray case, just three face trial board hearings: Goodson,  Lt. Brian Rice (tried and acquitted) and Sgt. Alicia White (charges dropped).  Trial boards for Rice and White are expected to begin, respectively, later this month and  sometime in December.  Officers Garrett Miller (charges dropped) and Edward Nero (tried and acquitted) chose to receive one-week suspensions rather than face the trial boards.  A sixth officer involved in the Freddie Gray case, William Porter (charges dropped), faces no discipline.

David Jaros is on the faculty of the University of Baltimore Law School.  Debbie Hines is an attorney in private practice in Washington.  They both paid very close attention to Officer Goodson’s criminal trial last year.  They join Tom in the studio to talk about what the trial board hearings say about the ability of the Baltimore Police department to police itself, and whether these disciplinary proceedings can restore community trust in the force.

Last week, CSX Transportation shocked the Hogan administration and local officials by withdrawing its support for an expansion of the Howard Street Tunnel. What does that decision mean for the city and for the Port of Baltimore? And, what does it mean for the current tunnel, which was built in the 1890s? It was the site of a large chemical fire after a 60 train-car pile-up, which did severe damage to underground infrastructure, 16 years ago.    

 Colin Campbell is a reporter for the Baltimore Sun who wrote about CSX's decision to tank the tunnel plans.  David Warnock is the co-founder of Camden Partners, a venture capital firm, and a former candidate for Mayor. They join Tom to talk about the Howard Street tunnel. 

Kamau High, managing editor of The Afro-American newspaper, joins Tom to talk about the local stories his newsroom is covering. There have been some changes in the leadership of the local chapter of the NAACP, and a racially-charged controversy erupted last week, when some students at local private schools dressed up as Freddie Gray for Halloween. 

Jim Lo Scalzo - Shutterstock

The Republicans have proposed a sweeping overhaul to the tax code. Some of the changes involve deductions that have been baked into the cake of the code for generations, and the impact on the deficit is huge.  The President called for the death penalty for the man accused of killing 8 and wounding 12 in New York.  An excerpt from former interim DNC chair Donna Brazile's book is complicating matters for the Democratic Party as they continue to strategize an opposition to the Trump Administration.

Eugene Scott reports on politics and identity for the Washington Post politics blog, The Fix. He joins Tom to discuss the news of the week. 

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. 

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