Maryland Morning Podcast

 We start today with a conversation with a local Syrian Imam about how the Muslim community is reacting to the heated public debate over recent terror attacks and the surge of refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war.

Then, we’ll talk about the legal and political challenges those Syrian refugees face as they seek safe havens in Europe and the United States, with Ruben Chandrasekar of the International Rescue Committee and David Rocah of the ACLU.

Next, theater critic J Wynn Rousuck has a review of Middletown, a play about a small town and the friendship between a longtime resident and a new arrival.

And -- and just in time for Thanksgiving -- our regular foodie and restaurant owner Sascha Woldhandler joins us to share her scrumptious squash recipes, from butternut squash soup to squash lasagna.

First, a look at the upcoming United Nations-sponsored Conference on Climate Change. Parties hope to leave Paris next month with a new agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Senior producer Rob Sivak talks with Bill McKibben, a leading environmental activist and author of The End Of Nature, about what’s at stake for the U.S and the more than 160 other countries attending.   
  Then, more than 30 neighborhood churches have been working to shape the future of Sandtown-Winchester, especially in the wake of the Freddie Gray unrest in April 2015. In a conversation we first aired last summer, Tom Hall speaks with pastors of two of those churches: Amelia Harris of Newborn Community of Faith Church, and Lewis Wilson of New Song Community Church.   Plus, the seasonal holidays will soon be upon us, and for many folks that means a chance to dress up for the festivities.  Sloane Brown, the Society and Style reporter for the Baltimore Sun, offers her thoughts on the sometimes daunting challenge of looking your best during the holidays. 

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 Before the Supreme Court’s historic decision last summer that said states could no longer ban same-sex marriage, there was Edie Windsor, a woman in her eighties; her longtime female partner; and her real estate taxes.  Roberta Kaplan is the lawyer who took Edie Windsor’s case to the Supreme Court, and when she won, the Defense of Marriage Act was no more. Roberta Kaplan takes us behind the scenes of that historic case. Then, poet Daniel Mark Epstein talks with Tom about some of the milestones in a writing career that's spanned nearly half a century, and discusses  his latest book, Dawn to Twilight.   Plus, the holidays are upon us, with the joys and rich foods and stress that they entail.  This morning, the connection between stress and fat with Dr. Pam Peeke of the University of Maryland Medical School.   


We begin with Dr. Gary LaFree, a terrorism expert from the University of MD.  We’ll find out how the latest data on terrorism may inform the world’s response to ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for the deadly November 13th attacks in Paris.

Next, the status of Charm City Schools.  What’s the best way to make them more equitable for all students?  What's new in the conflict surrounding public charter schools?   We'll ask longtime educator and former Baltimore City School Board member Dr. David Stone.

Then, we ask you to help us pick a new theme song.  We’ll give you five samples to choose from, and we’ll talk to the Creative Director of Original Music at Clean Cuts Music about the art of matching music to Maryland Morning.

And our theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, has a review of The Secret Garden at Baltimore’s Center Stage.

The Vacants to Value program, introduced in Baltimore with great fanfare five years ago, is intended to put committed homeowners into some of the city’s 16,000 empty homes.   How well has the program been working?  Tom gets some answers from Joan Jacobson.  She’s the author of a new Abell Foundation report that evaluates which of the program’s goals are being met, and which are missing the mark.         

Next, WYPR’s Mary Rose Madden joins Tom to discuss her continuing series, On the Watch.  The series brings us the voices (and images) of the Baltimore police and members of the city's African American community, and examines the struggle to improve their troubled relationship. 

Then, with the need for male mentors greater than ever,  the president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake talks with Tom about how men can make a powerful, positive difference in the lives of the region's young people. 

As the Republican presidential candidates gathered November 10th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for debate number four, low-polling Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee were relegated to the so-called "kiddie table" debate held two hours before the evening's main event.  Lindsay Graham wasn’t even invited to dinner.  Are national polls the best way to choose who’s in and who’s out?  And who gets to decide?   Tom puts those and other questions about the Republican contest to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist ER Shipp, from Morgan State University; Sheri Parks, from the University of MD; and Republican blogger Richard Cross.

Then, a conversation with Ellis Marsalis, jazz legend and patriarch. He's helping the Reginald F. Lewis Museum celebrate its 10th anniversary this weekend.  He’s been helping jazz musicians, including several of his own sons, celebrate this great American art form for more than 40 years.  

Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano is under fire over how he is running the nation’s fifth largest Public Housing Authority.  No one in City government has headed an agency longer than he has.  Luke Broadwater from the Baltimore Sun joins me to assess Graziano’s tenure so far, what the future might hold for him, and for residents in public housing.   Plus, Steve Inskeep will be at MICA tomorrow night to talk about his book on Andrew Jackson, and his work on NPR’s Morning Edition.  Steve joins us live, with a preview. Then, Nathan Sterner speaks with George Timko from the MD Department of Natural Resources about keeping the deer population in check,  and J Wynn Rousuck reviews the new show at Baltimore’s Theater project.  And we close with a nod to Guy Fawkes Day, in which our own Nathan Sterner describes how he and his family annually mark this historical British commemoration. 

Fern Shen - Baltimore Brew

With our colleagues at Baltimore Brew, an independent online news source that focuses on local issues, we begin an occasional series on Maryland Morning that we're calling The Accountability Index.  When the stories warrant, we’ll take a hard look at public spending and public servants and we’ll ask:  How much are we spending, and why?  In the spotlight this morning:  two controversial city road projects are turning out to be a lot more expensive than they were supposed to be.  Investigative reporter Mark Reutter has written extensively about the projects, and joins Tom to discuss what's gone wrong and who might be to blame.

Plus, on Maryland Morning Movie Mayhem, film critics Jed Dietz and Ann Hornaday discuss the hottest new films on screenAnd Tom talks with Palestinian Bishara Haroni and Israeli Yaron Kohlberg, two of the most celebrated young pianists of their generation. The two play all over the world together as a duet, and for many, their collaboration symbolizes the hopes for peace in the Middle East.  

And Gil Sandler has a Baltimore story.  

Amy Davis

Tom begins today with a look at the challenges facing immigrant students at Patterson High School in East Baltimore, where one third of the student body is foreign-born. Many of them have fled war, urban violence and oppression.

Tom is joined by journalist Liz Bowie, who profiles some of these remarkable young people in her Baltimore Sun series called Unsettled Journeysand Margot Harris, who works with the immigrant students as head of the English for Speakers of Other Languages program at Patterson.

 Then – Fanon Hill on the work of The Youth Resiliency Institute he co-founded and leads.  The Institute  works with African American children and adults, primarily in Cherry Hill and Albemarle Square. One of its programs is called The Journey Project, which focuses on family engagement to help kids improve their performance in school. It includes an African Family Drumming Group, designed to build cultural and family connections in the community.  Cherry Hill residents and members of the drumming group join Tom in the studio.   Tom Pelton puts the Environment in Focus.  And Andrea Pippins, a designer and illustrator who teaches design at the Maryland Institute College of Art, joins Tom in the studio to talk about her latest project: a new coloring book for grown-ups called I Love My Hair: A Coloring Book of Braids, Coils, and Doodle Dos. 

Pedro Ribeiro Simoes//Flickr Creative Commons

Sunday, November 1st was the first day of the fall open enrollment period for the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange. The state agency runs the Web portal that Marylanders use to sign up for Obamacare coverage plans.  A recent state audit revealed significant management and security problems at the exchange -- problems the agency says it's fixing.  We’ll start with an update on the health benefit exchange, and we’ll look at how a non-profit called Health Care for the Homeless is helping the indigent find quality medical services. 

Then, a look at the changing theater scene in Baltimore.  Kwame Kwei Armah talks about his big plans for Center Stage.

Theater critic J Wynn Rousuck reviews the August Wilson play, Fences, at the Everyman Theater.

And for drama that’s a bit off the beaten path, a preview of the Charm City Fringe Festival, which launches this week.