Maryland Morning


This morning we talk about some of the reactions over the past week by politicians in this country to recent terror attacks by ISIS, the self-styled “Islamic State” group responsible for the November 13th Paris killings, among other atrocities, and their reactions also to the resettlement of Syrian refugees who are fleeing ISIS and the ongoing carnage of the Syrian civil war. The two subjects have become intertwined, and some say confused, in the public debate.  Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat joins us this morning to discuss how the Muslim community here in Baltimore is reacting to the growing chorus of anti-Syrian-refugee and anti-Muslim rhetoric by U.S. governors, members of Congress and presidential candidates. Imam Arafat is a native of Syria, serving in the 1980s as an imam in Damascus. But he has been living in the US for 26 years. He was Imam of the Islamic Society in Baltimore from 1989 to 1993. He is also president and founder of the Civilizations Exchange & Cooperation Foundation and currently serves as president of the Islamic Affairs Council of Maryland.


More than 4 million refugees have fled the bloody civil war in Syria over the past five years – that's about 10% of all the world’s refugees and displaced people, and a fifth of Syria’s population -- and many of them are still waiting, after arduous escapes and dangerous journeys, to find safe haven in Europe and the United States.  But in the wake of the ISIS attacks in Paris November 13th and growing fears of further terrorism, the welcome mat for Syrian refugees is being pulled away in some places. Joining us in the studio to talk about the situation facing those refugees, the resettlement process and the balance between national security concerns and civil liberties, is David Rocah, Senior Staff Attorney, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, and on the phone with us is Ruben Chandresakar, Executive Director of the Baltimore branch of the International Rescue Committee, one of nine non-profit agencies that manage refugee resettlement in the United States.

Chef Sascha Wolhandler is back with recipes that require you to get creative with squash just in time for Thanksgiving. 

Harry Bechkes

Loneliness, luck (or the lack of it), birth and death weave their way through Will Eno’s play, “Middletown” -- now at the Theatrical Mining Company in Baltimore.  In the opening scene, the character of a policeman describes the town: “Population: stable. Elevation: same. The main street is called Main Street…People come, people go. Crying, by the way, in both directions.”

Stylistically, this description is reminiscent of the Stage Manager’s description of Grover’s Corners at the start of “Our Town.” Much of what follows is an homage to that classic American play.

This past June, I moderated a playwrights’ panel at the second International Thornton Wilder Conference. Will Eno was one of the panelists. He praised Wilder’s immense skill at writing about the quotidian – the commonplace, the everyday.

  French authorities say a United Nations-sponsored climate conference will convene as planned in a Paris suburb on November 30, despite last week's deadly terrorist attacks. Delegates from more than 160 countries will be gathering for the 12-day round of talks, whose goal is to reach a new international accord on reducing emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases.

To find out what's at stake in the Paris climate talks, Maryland Morning senior producer Rob Sivak talks with Bill McKibben, an environmental activist, journalist and author of many books, including “The End of Nature,” the 1989 classic  about our global environmental crisis. He is also the co-founder of, an international network that combats global warming through grassroots political action. 

Baltimore Heritage

Today, we revisit a conversation with three pastors who lead churches in Sandtown-Winchester, the Baltimore neighborhood which has become the focal point of attention since the riots in April.  At one time, there were more than 50 churches in Sandtown.  There are now more than 30, which still represents a high concentration of churches in the 72 square block area that Sandtown encompasses.  What can and should these churches be doing in this neighborhood, which has long struggled with high unemployment, poverty, addiction, and crime?

We explore that question with three pastors who are doing a lot.  Pastor Amelia Harris is the co-pastor of the Newborn Community of Faith Church.  She has lived and worked in Sandtown with her husband, Elder C. W. Harris, for more than 30 years.  Dr. Louis Wilson came to Sandtown from Chicago in January, accepting the call to lead the New Song Community Church.  

Sloane Brown//Baltimore Sun

The holidays will soon be upon us, and for many folks, that means a chance or two to dress up and enjoy a few parties, and some special meals with family and friends.  What’s the best way to approach the often daunting task of putting together that special outfit for those special occasions?   Maybe more than a few of us have a little fashion phobia when it comes to staying stylish, on a budget, in a world where the range of styles one sees out and about run a very large gamut.  Sloane Brown joins me in the studio.  Sloane keeps a keen eye out for what people are wearing to various events around town, and I thought it would be good to check-in with her for some advice on how to take the fear out fashion, as we gear up for the holidays.  Sloane is the Society and Style reporter for the Baltimore Sun, where she writes the columns called Scene and Heard and Glimpsed.  

W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

In the fall of 1996, Congress passed, by an overwhelming margin, the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage in the eyes of the federal government, as being between a man and a woman. DOMA, as it’s known, was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013, the same year that Maryland’s Civil Marriage Protection Act became law after voters here became the first in the nation to approve same sex marriage by referendum.

Tom's guest this morning is Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer who argued the landmark Supreme Court Case that overturned DOMA. She wrote a book about that experience, and she will be speaking about it tomorrow night at an event sponsored by the Public Justice Center. The book is called Then Comes Marriage: United States v Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA. Roberta Kaplan joins Tom on the line from New York.

LSU Press

Daniel Mark Epstein has written numerous plays, and acclaimed biographies of an eclectic group of historical figures that includes Aimee Semple McPherson, Nat King Cole, Bob Dylan, and Abraham Lincoln. He has also garnered prizes for his eight books of poetry, and this morning, he joins Tom in the studio to talk about his latest collection of new and selected poems, which includes work that spans nearly 50 years. It’s called Dawn to Twilight

Dan will be reading from his collection tonight at the Ivy Bookshop in North Baltimore. That event starts at 7:00. Dan will be reading at The Book Plate on Friday night at 6:00PM in Chestertown, Maryland. 

Dr. Pam Peeke is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the author of several books, including her latest, The Hunger Fix. One of her best -selling books is called Fight Fat After Forty, where she talks about the relationship between fat and stress.

With Thanksgiving coming up next week, complete with the stress that often accompanies holidays Dr. Peeke talks through show the modern, high-stress lifestyle that can lead to overeating.