Midday Podcast | WYPR

Midday Podcast

Photo courtesy Bowie State University

It's the Midday News Wrap, our regular Friday review of the week's top local, national and international news. This week, as headlines focused on President Trump's first foreign trip, his 2018 budget proposal, and on the continuing investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign, the nation was stunned by news of the May 20 stabbing death of Bowie State University student Richard Collins III.  The 23 year-old Collins, who had just been commissioned as a US Army lieutenant, was murdered by a University of Maryland/College Park student, who has been identified as a member of a white supremacist hate group on Facebook. How is the community responding to this tragedy, and what are school officials doing to address rising concerns about racially motivated attacks on their campus? Joining Tom on today's NewsWrap panel to discuss these and other issues in the news this week are Kamau High, managing editor of the Afro-American Newspaper and Dr. Kaye Wise Whitehead, an associate professor of communication and African and African American studies at Loyola University Maryland, and the author of “Letters to My Black Sons: Raising Boys in a Post-Racial America.”

Photos courtesy Austin Caughlin, Mikecheck

We close the show today with a little live music to spring us into the Memorial Day weekend. 

Austin Caughlin is a name familiar to listeners of Midday.  Every Friday, we remind you that Austin wrote and recorded the Midday theme music.  Austin is on the composing staff of Clean Cuts, a music production studio here in Baltimore.

On Saturday night, May 27th, Austin hosts a benefit concert  -"Singing in Solidarity" - with other artists and musicians from 7-9 pm at the Four Hour Day Lutherie to raise money for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society.  

Austin joins Tom in the studio today with Mikecheck, a local singer and musician who'll also be appearing at the SPLC benefit tomorrow night, along with other performers, including singer Sandy Asirvatham and writer Rion Amilcar Scott.

It’s time for another installment of Smart Nutrition here on Midday.

When it comes to nutrition, we’re often faced with information overload and conflicting conclusions from different studies.  For example, if you drink one diet soda per day, do you increase your chances of getting dementia? Maybe. Maybe not. Broccoli is good for you, right?  If you have irritable bowel syndrome, not so much.  Same goes for cauliflower, cabbage and Brussel sprouts. Good for most people most of the time, but not all people, all of the time.    

How are we to make sense of the steady stream of research about what to eat and what to avoid -- and just how much of a connection is there between what we eat and diseases we may develop?  Should we try to eat well?  Sure, of course.  But a lot of us are confused by what seems to be varying conclusions when it comes to food research. A new study sheds some light on why making the best nutritional choices can be challenging for a lot of us.  And another says that the sources of our information about nutrition are not always the most reliable.    

To help us sort this all out today, we turn to Monica Reinagel, The Nutrition Diva.  She is an author and a licensed nutritionist who blogs at nutritionovereasy.com.  And she joins us on Midday every other month to discuss the latest trends in food, health and nutrition, and take your calls, emails and tweets.  

Photo by Dave Iden

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom for her weekly review of thespian doings.  This week, it's the final production of Baltimore Annex Theater's 2016-17 season: The King of Howard Street is an original play based on the life of the formerly homeless Baltimore writer and housing rights advocate, Anthony Williams, who's portrayed in this production by Joshua Dixon.

For more than two decades, Williams lived in abandoned buildings up and down Howard Street. Several years ago, he began to chronicle his life story and the stories of his friends and family. Last year, Williams approached Annex Theater's Artistic Director, Evan Moritz, outside of the theater and handed him three spiral-bound notebooks filled with drawings and writings, including a draft of his autobiographical play.  Inspired by Williams' story, Moritz commissioned playwright Ren Pepitone and director Roz Cauthen to bring this story to a wider audience, and they've done so with a compelling mix of dance, music, and theater.

The King of Howard Street also features performances by Nathan Couser (Insurrection: Holding History) as Saint Lewis, William's right-hand man; Desirae Butler (The Tempest) as McFly; and Jonathan Jacobs  (Tempest, Master and Margarita) as Randall.  The cast also includes Malcolm Anomanchi, Kristina Szilagyi, Christian Harris, Mary Travis, David Crandall (Annex Company Member), and Elaine Foster. Costumes are by Stylz, Set by Bernard Dred, Lighting by Rick Gerriets (Annex Company Member), Sound by David Crandall, and Video by Rachel Dwiggins (Cook, Thief, Wife, Lover and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman)

Yesterday, President Trump issued a budget plan that proposes dramatic cuts to Medicaid and other programs like SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, often referred to as food stamps. Despite campaign promises to the contrary, the president wants to reduce Medicaid spending over 10 years by as much as $1.4 trillion according to some estimates. The Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides healthcare support under Medicaid to low income children, would be cut by 20% in the first year alone. This of course comes after House Republicans passed a health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act earlier this month. Some in the Senate have vowed to start over, rather than work with the House bill as they craft their own. 

What could these cuts mean for the most vulnerable folks living in our city who rely on programs like Medicaid and food stamps to survive? Tom is joined by Dr. Leana Wen, the Health Commissioner of the city of Baltimore, for the Midday Healthwatch. 

She's a three time Grammy award winner, who took her first violin lesson at the Peabody Institute here in Baltimore just before her 4th birthday.  Six years later, at the ripe old age of 10, she was off and running on a concert career that has taken her to five continents and 43 countries around the world. She spoke at the Peabody Institute’s commencement ceremony yesterday, and before she takes off for her next port of call, Hilary Hahn joins Tom in the studio.

Over the past 20 years, a revolution in biotechnology has allowed scientists -- and the giant ag-biotech companies many of them work for – to blow past the tedium and imprecision of ages-old traditional breeding and dive directly into the DNA -- the genetic core -- of a plant, animal or microorganism, and move desired traits in or out as needed.  The result is that nearly all of four major crops being grown today -- corn, soybeans, canola and cotton -- are now genetically modified, high-performance varieties that a majority of farmers in the US and many other countries have been planting with gusto.

But the worldwide proliferation of these new GM crops has raised fundamental questions that go far beyond “are GMOs safe to eat?”  The questions go to the nutritional value and diversity of the foods we buy and eat every day, to the social and economic structures of food production and marketing, and to the quality of the environment in which our food is being grown.

Today, guest host Aaron Henkin (producer of WYPR's Out of the Blocks series) spends the hour examining how well the Baltimore City Public School System's "school choice" program is working, twelve years after its launch.

The program was created to give all students (and their parents) a chance to participate in the selection of the middle schools and high schools they wish to attend. 

The annual high-school choice program starts each fall, it goes on through each spring, and it gives late middle-schoolers an opportunity to identify their top five preferred high schools.  Kids make these selections based on a range of criteria:  they look at student population, gender mix, sports programs and, special academic offerings like advanced placement courses and college-credit curricular tracks.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump spent a year on the campaign trail saying terrible things about Muslims and NATO. He railed against Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information. He even had bad things to say about the Pope.  

He leaves today to meet with leaders of Saudi Arabia, NATO, and Israel, whose trust he abused when he revealed secrets Israel had collected, to Russian diplomats. He’ll also meet with the Pope.  

Meanwhile, computers across the globe were paralyzed by ransomware, a white police officer was acquitted in Oklahoma after shooting an unarmed black man during a traffic stop, and layoffs are imminent in the Baltimore City Schools.  

ClintonBPhotography

Everyman Theatre is wrapping up its 26th season with the raucous British comedy Noises Off. Everyman’s Resident Company of actors transforms into a bumbling British company of actors just hours away from their opening night. Everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. Between the lost lines and love triangles pandemonium takes over before intermission. 

Vincent Lancisi is Everyman’s Founder and Artistic Director. He also directs this production. Deborah Hazlett stars in the role of Dotty Otley. They join Tom for a preview of Noises Off.

Pages