Midday Podcast | WYPR

Midday Podcast

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It's Theater Thursday on Midday, and that means our theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, joins Tom with her weekly review of the region's thespian offerings. This week, it's The Magic Play, the latest work of 2015 Helen Hayes Award-winner Andrew Hinderaker (Colossal). He returns to the Olney Theatre Center with another unique story combining passionate theatricality with a touch of genuine theater magic.

Brett Schneider plays a talented magician (like himself) who has won acclaim by maintaining absolute control over his performances. He has tried to do the same with his love life, but when his lover forces him toward some painful emotional reckonings, it threatens even his confidence as a magician. Hinderaker's play weaves a tale of emotional conflict and sleight-of-hand wizardry.

The Magic Play is directed by Halena Kays, with magic created by Brett Schneider.  Jim Steinmeyer serves as magic consultant.   Also in the cast are Jon Hudson Odom and Harry A. Winter.

An advisory from The Olney Theatre Center:  The Magic Play is recommended for ages 16+ for mature themes, strong language and intimate situations. It is not a magic show appropriate for children.

The Magic Play continues at the Olney Theatre Center through Sunday, May 7th.

Kids Safe Zone

Following the 2015 Uprising, everyone from politicians to activists pointed to issues of systematic racism and inequality as the cause of the unrest. Today as we reflect on the 2 years since the Uprising sparked by the death of Freddie Gray we’ll check in with two activists who lead non-profits to talk about the work they’re doing and the work the city has ahead to achieve equity. 

Ericka Alston Buck is the CEO of Maryland Community Health Initiatives Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides several services based programs in the Penn North Community, including the Kids Safe Zone and the Penn North Community Resource Center.

Photo by George David Sanchez

Today, it’s Midday on Mid Life.  Mid Life can be a dizzying hash of juggling jobs, keeping a marriage vibrant, tending to children as they enter adulthood, and caring for parents as they enter their twilight years.  No wonder the term “midlife” so often has the word “crisis” attached to it like a tentacle.     

But our 40s, 50s and 60s can also be a time when we come into our own, forge new relationships, and discover fresh things about the world and ourselves. 

In her most recent book, Life Reimagined: The Science, Art and Opportunity of Midlifeformer NPR correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty takes a clear-eyed look at the challenges and joys of being old enough to know better, and young enough to enjoy the new things that life may have to offer. 

Barbara Bradley Hagerty will talk about her book Wednesday night (April 26) at the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church on Dulaney Valley Road in Lutherville.  Her talk is sponsored by a group called Well for the Journey.  The event begins at 7:30.  More details here.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

This week, we reflect on what’s happened in Baltimore since the 2015 violence and Uprising sparked by the death of Freddie Gray while in the custody of police. Even before the national guard troops left town in April 2015, civic leaders, law enforcement officials, scholars, business people and community activists identified systemic racial and economic inequality as root causes for the unrest. These community leaders envisioned a road forward that included more employment and educational opportunities for the city's poorest residents. Has that happened? What work do we have ahead of us?

Tom is joined by Dr. Freeman Hrabowski. He's been the president of The University of Maryland Baltimore County since 1992. He’s the co-author of Beating the Odds and Overcoming the Odds and the author of Holding Fast to Dreams: Empowering Youth from the Civil Rights Crusade to STEM Achievement. In 2012 he was asked by President Obama to chair the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. 

Photo by Getty Images

It's the Midday News Wrap, our weekly roundtable on the week's major local, national and international developments, with a rotating panel of journalists and commentators.

Joining Tom on the News Wrap panel today:

Dr. Zeynep Tufekci is a contributing opinion writer at the New York Times and author of  the new book Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protests.  She joins Tom on the line from Chapel Hill, where she is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina.

Kamau High joins us in Studio A.   He is managing editor of the Afro-American Newspaper, based here in Baltimore, and a former reporter and digital producer in New York City for the Wall Street JournalThe Financial Times, among others.

Michael Fletcher is also here today.  He is a senior writer at ESPN’s The Undefeated.  He was for many years a national economics reporter and a White House reporter for The Washington Post, and before that, he was a reporter for many years at The Baltimore Sun. 

Photo courtesy Dr. Axe

For most of us, there’s at least one food we just can’t think about eating: otherwise-respectable fare like broccoli or Brussels sprouts, cabbage or kale, organ meats or sardines, tofu or…gorgonzola cheese. One look, or one whiff, and our minds tell us, no way…  

Today we're going to explore ways we might get around such food blocks, on this installment of What Ya Got Cooking? -- a regular Midday feature where we talk about recipes, food trends, traditions and good eats with our resident foodies:  John Shields and Sascha Wolhandler. 

John Shields is a chef, cookbook author and, with partner John Gilligan, the proprietor of Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art.  He’s also the host of Coastal Cooking and Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields on Maryland Public Television and PBS.

Sascha Wolhandler runs Sascha’s 527 Cafe with her husband, Steve Susser.  

John and Sascha join Tom today with their tips for overcoming food aversions with a little creative cooking…and they share a few ideas for making the most of the delicious new spring veggies now available at local farmers markets

So, what foods do YOU avoid?  Got a recipe that’s changed your mind about a food you’ve always hated?  You’re welcome to join the conversation!

photo by Jeremy Daniel

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom each Thursday to share her impressions of the region's thespian offerings. This week she's here with a review of the touring company production of the Broadway musical Something Rotten!, now playing at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre.    

A musical comedy brought together on stage by the director of Aladdin and co-director of The Book of Mormon and the producer of Rent, Avenue Q and In the Heights, Something Rotten! tells the story of brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom, two Renaissance-era playwrights mired in the shadow of their rockstar contemporary, Will Shakespeare. After a fortune-teller informs them that the next big trend in theater will involve plays that feature singing, dancing and acting at the same time, the brothers decide to produce the world's first musical. Their efforts provide Something Rotten!'s driving energy.

The musical's New York production opened in April 2015. The National Tour commenced in January of this year, with three Broadway principals reprising their roles: Rob McClure as Nick Bottom, Adam Pascal as Shakespeare and Josh Grisetti as Nigel Bottom. The touring cast also features Maggie Lakis as Bea, Blake Hammond as Nostradamus, Autumn Hurlbert as Portia, Scott Cote as Brother Jeremiah and Jeff Brooks as Shylock.

The original musical is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon, Aladdin), with music and lyrics by Grammy Award winner and Tony Award nominee Wayne Kirkpatrick and Golden Globe Award and Tony Award nominee Karey Kirkpatrick, and a book by Tony Award nominees Karey Kirkpatrick and best-selling author John O’Farrell.

Something Rotten! continues at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore for a limited engagement from Tuesday, April 18 to Sunday, April 23.

Flickr/Franco Folini

Last month, the outcry from concerned parents and citizens about the number of missing teenage girls in and around Washington, D.C. sparked national outrage. The conversation was prompted by the dozens of missing persons alerts with pictures of black and brown teenage girls shared on social media over a short period of time.

There were theories and fears that the girls were being preyed upon by human traffickers. The hashtag #MissingDCGirls trended on Twitter; celebrities and politicians weighed in, and Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a task force that will increase the number of police officers assigned to work missing persons cases, among other things. It turns out, that, according to the DC Metropolitan Police Department, the actual number of missing children has decreased over the last two years.  

Penguin Random House

Tom is joined today by Nigerian author, essayist and activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Adichie splits her time between her native country Nigeria and the US, where she has a home in Columbia, Maryland. She's won several prestigious awards, including the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship. She's headlining the 2017 Baltimore CityLit Festival later this month. That’s an annual event sponsored by the CityLit Project, an organization that advances the cause of all things literary here in Maryland.

US News and World Report

The Trump Administration and the Republican leadership in Congress are still vowing to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but as of now, Obamacare remains the law of the land.

With growing numbers of Americans speaking out in support for all or parts of Obama’s signature legislation, what lies ahead? 

How healthy is the ACA, and what changes might be in store for the tens of millions of Americans who depend on it?

Joining Tom to discuss the status and future of the Affordable Care Act are three experts on the ACA and national health policy: Julie Rovner, the chief Washington correspondent for Kaiser Health News and a former health policy reporter for NPR;  Professor Brad Herring, a health economist in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Andrew Ratner, Director of Marketing and Strategic Initiatives at the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange, the agency that runs the state's health insurance marketplace.  

We also take your tweets, calls, and emails.

Getty Images

We begin with State Senator Jim Rosapepe (D-MD 21st District), with his take on why lawmakers in Annapolis spent this year’s session with one eye on Capitol Hill. 

Then, the Midday News Wrap panelists join Tom to discuss the biggest stories of the week. Yesterday, President Trump dropped the "mother of all bombs" on ISIS targets in Afghanistan, this comes after the President launched a targeted airstrike in Syria in response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad alleged use of chemical weapons. 

And, it's the video seen across the country; the footage of a 69-year old man being forcibly and violently removed from an overbooked United Airlines flight has caused a pr nightmare for the airline. Dr. David Dao's lawyer says he suffered a concussion and broken nose in the incident and lost two teeth, he plans to file a lawsuit. How did the incident escalate to violence and can United bounce back?

Photos by Sigrid Estrada

In this week when Jews celebrate Passover and Christians celebrate Easter, it’s another installment of Living Questions, our monthly series in which we explore the role of religion in the public sphere.

Today: the thorny issue of anti-Judaism in some of the great works of Christian art, with two writers for whom the famed 18th-century German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, is a central focus.   

Lauren Belfer is a novelist.  Her latest book, And After the Fire, follows the journey of a Bach cantata as it changes hands over the course of two hundred years.

The music scholar Michael Marissen has written extensively about the religious and often anti-Jewish sentiments in the texts that Bach chooses to set to his glorious music.

His latest book is called Bach and God.   Marissen also explored this topic in a monograph he co-wrote in 2005 with Tom Hall and former ICJS executive director Christopher Leighton, called The Bach Passions in Our Time: Contending with the Legacy of Antisemitism.  

Confronting the legacy of anti-Semitism in the arts, on this edition of Living Questions, a collaborative production of WYPR and the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies (ICJS).

Photo by Glenn Ricci

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins Tom each Thursday with her impressions of the region's latest stagecraft,  this week reviews what Submersive Productions likes to call its "immersive" new offering at Baltimore's historic Peale Center, called H.T. Darling's Incredible Musaeum Presents the Treasures of New Galapagos and Astonishing Acquisitions from the Perisphere.

Like previous excursions by Submersive Productions, H.T. Darling's Incredible Musaeum, based on a concept by Lisa Stoessel, engages the audience in a non-traditional theatrical setting. It encourages playgoers to explore the former Peale Museum's three stories of interconnected rooms, each not only filled with art, curios and exhibition-style display cases, but also peopled with live actors and puppets.

The titular H.T. Darling, played by mustachioed Sarah Olmstead Thomas, is a well-to-do explorer who has just returned from an expedition to a fanciful region of outer space called the Perisphere, and an alien planet he's named New Galapagos.  Darling shares the artifacts he's brought back with him in his Incredible Musaeum, where each audience member chooses his or her own path through the rooms, and through the evening's strange and cleverly organized events.

H. T. Darling's Incredible Musaeum is directed by Lisi Stoessel, Susan Stroupe and Glenn Ricci.  Mr. Ricci is also Submersive Productions' co-artistic director, with Ursula Marcum.

The cast also includes Josh Aterovis (Clayton, a museum guard),  Francisco Benavides (The Groundskeeper), Caitlin Bouxsein (a museum guard), David Brasington (Carol, a curator), E’Tona Ford (a museum guard), Emily Hall (shopkeeper-shared role), Brad Norris (Cedric), Martha Robichaud (shopkeeper-shared role), Trustina Sabah (Aku Maxilla, “humanoid specimen”), Lisi Stoessel (Maude, a curator),  and Alex Vernon (Dr. Percy Warner).  

Ursula Marcum and Jess Rassp are the play's puppeteers.

H. T. Darling's Incredible Musaeum is playing at the historic Peale Center, where its run has been extended through Sunday, May 14.  Ticket and showtime information here.

Maryland GovPics

Nearly 2,700 bills were introduced in this year’s session of the Maryland General Assembly, which came to a close on Monday night. Paid sick leave is in. Fracking is out. Ethics laws for lawmakers were juiced-up, as a long time member is indicted on fraud charges. There was a package of bills to address the opioid epidemic, and a measure that could lead to punishment for drug manufacturers who hike prices unreasonably. Gov. Larry Hogan reached a compromise on a transportation bill, and legislators found a way to allocate additional help to local school jurisdictions, including Baltimore. When asked to assess the third General Assembly since being elected in 2014, the Governor told reporters,“I’m not sure how it could have been any better."

Last night the Maryland General Assembly wrapped up its 437th annual session, passing hundreds of bills in the final hours of Sine Die, as the last day is known. Governor Larry Hogan was generally pleased with the session, but promised to veto a paid sick leave bill. Governor Hogan proposed a bill that would have required businesses that employ 50 or more workers in a single location to provide sick leave. Democrats rejected that bill, in favor of a bill that requires businesses with 15 or more full-time employees to provide employees the opportunity to earn at least 5 sick days a year.  

Tom speaks with House Minority Leader Nic Kipke who represents Anne Arundel County in the Maryland House of Delegates. 

AP Photo

The Consent Decree between the city of Baltimore, the Baltimore Police Department and the Department of Justice was the result of a damning report in August 2016 that described a pattern or practice of unconstitutional misconduct by Baltimore police, which has disproportionately affected the city's communities of color.   

When Judge James Bredar signed the Consent Decree this past Friday (April 7), it became an order of the court.

So now, what’s next?  What will court oversight of the police department look like?  How will the Trump Justice Department be involved with an agreement reached during the waning days of the Obama administration?  And if the police department is committed to reform on its own, why is a consent decree necessary?

Joining Tom to address these questions are four people who've been closely following the evolution of Baltimore's Consent Decree over the past two years:

Monique Dixon is Deputy Director of Policy for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund;

David Rocah is the Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Maryland;

Bishop Douglas Miles is Pastor of the Koinonia Baptist Church and Co-Chair Emeritus of BUILD, Baltimorians United In Leadership Development;

and Kevin Rector covers the courts and crime for the Baltimore Sun. 

Photo montage courtesy Daily Express

It's the Midday News Wrap, our Friday focus on the week's top local, national and international news stories, which certainly came in a cascade this week.  Our special guest and our panel of news analysts help us sort them all out:

After promising an “America First” foreign policy, President Trump last night ordered a cruise missile attack on a Syrian airbase, in response to President Bashir Al-Assad’s latest use of chemical weapons.

Steve Bannon is out as a member of the NSC's inner circle.  Devin Nunes is out, at least temporarily, as the Republican's lead investigator on the House Intelligence Committee looking into Russian meddling in the US election.  

Also out: a 60-vote requirement for Supreme Court nominees.

In the U.S. for meetings with Mr. Trump were the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and China.  And the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is in, it seems, on just about everything.   

Tom begins the show today with Senator Chris Van Hollen, who won the seat vacated by Barbara Mikulski last year.  Then, Tom is joined by Domenico Montanaro, lead editor for politics at NPR and Luke Broadwater, reporter for the Baltimore Sun.

Photo by ClintonBPhotography

It's Theater Thursday on Midday, and time for our weekly visit from theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins Tom in the studio with her review of the new musical at the Everyman Theatre here in Baltimore.  Its subject couldn’t be more topical:  Los Otros  (The Others)delves into the complexities of immigration, cultural identity, sexuality, and coming of age.

It's a timely reworking of the musical that debuted at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 2012, from Tony Award nominees Michael John LaChiusa (music) and Ellen Fitzhugh (book and lyrics), who joined Tom on Midday back on March 24 to talk about their new production  at Everyman.

Directed by Noah Himmelstein, with musical direction by Jon Kalbfleisch, Los Otros presents as a series of vignettes in which two Californians, Lillian and Carlos (played by Judy McLane and Philip Hernandez), recall moments from their past in which their personal experiences -- as a white woman and a Hispanic man -- are woven together with their feelings of both "otherness" and cross-cultural intimacy.

Los Otros continues on stage at Everyman Theatre until Sunday, April 23rd. 

Penguin Random House

Today, another edition of Midday on Ethics. Later this month, HBO and Oprah Winfrey will bring the story of Henrietta Lacks to television. The film, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” based on the best-selling book of the same name by Rebecca Skloot, premiers on April 22.

You may already be familiar with the story of Henrietta Lacks, who lived in southeastern Baltimore County in the early 1950s. She had cancer, and in 1951, doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital did a routine biopsy. She died eight months later. But her cells live on, because without her consent, and without the knowledge of her family, cells taken during the biopsy were used, for decades, in medical research around the world.   In fact the HeLa cell line -- H-E for Henrietta and L-A for Lacks -- revolutionized medical research, and, by some accounts, has resulted in billions of dollars worth of medical breakthroughs. None of the proceeds, however, went to Ms. Lacks or to her descendants.

Could the same thing happen today? We’ll try to untangle the ethical questions in this conversation about Informed Consent. How much have standards changed in the 65 years since Henrietta Lacks was a cancer patient at Hopkins? What are today’s standards?

Dr. Jeffrey Kahn is the Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. He stops by Midday regularly to talk about how ethicists help us frame the complex questions that surround stories like the extraordinary case of Henrietta Lacks.

Education Elsewhere

Yesterday, Governor Larry Hogan signed a bill allocating an additional $23 million to Baltimore City Public Schools. This comes after Mayor Catherine Pugh diverted additional funds to education in her budget. So is it enough to close the $130 million gap and avoid teacher layoffs? We’ll get an update from Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises

Then, a conversation with activists who use their artistry to empower young people. 

Photo courtesy Eric Gay/Associated Press

It’s Opening Day on Midday!

Later today, the Baltimore Orioles begin their annual quest for a playoff berth against the Toronto Blue Jays -- the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season -- while Oriole Park at Camden Yards celebrates 25 years. 

And after a record-breaking weekend in the women’s NCAA Final Four -- including one of the biggest upsets in college basketball history -- the men take the court tonight.   It'll be a face-off between the first-time finalist Bulldogs of Gonzaga (out of Spokane, Washington) and the Tar Heels of North Carolina, who lost last year’s final to Villanova at the buzzer.

Later this week, The Masters golf tournament gets underway in Augusta, Georgia -- without Tiger Woods -- and later this month, the spectacle that is the NFL draft comes to Philadelphia.   Plus, the NBA is closing in on their list of playoff contenders.

Mike Pesca, an NPR contributor and host of Slate.com's The Gist and Milton Kent, host of WYPR's Sports at Large, join Tom to sort out all the action.  And we take your calls, tweets and emails.

Photo courtesy NY Daily News

It's the Midday News Wrap, our regular Friday effort to make sense of the week that was.  

This was a week of unraveling and unveiling.  The Trump administration unraveled Obama-era rules on internet privacy and the environment.  The House Intelligence Committee, which is -- or was -- investigating Russian meddling in the U.S. election and possible Trump ties to Russia, unraveled itself -- cancelling its public hearings amid loud calls for Committee chair Devin Nunes to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. 

The New York Times and the Washington Post reported that Nunes met secretly with two or possibly three White House officials and then briefed the president about information that he had not shared with his own committee.  The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating the same issues picked up the slack in what is, at least for the moment, a much more bi-partisan way.  It held ITS first hearing yesterday, which included dramatic testimony from a former FBI agent.   

In Baltimore, Mayor Catherine Pugh unveiled her first budget proposal, which calls for lowering taxes, while spending more on schools and police.  She also vetoed a bill that would have raised the minimum wage in the city to $15 by the year 2022. 

Britain took its first formal steps to exit the European Union, and Scotland took another step toward exiting Britain…

To help us untangle these stories, Tom is joined in Studio A by a terrific panel of journalists:

Frances Stead Sellers is a writer on the national staff of The Washington Post.  She covered the 2016 presidential election for The Post and she is currently a journalism fellow at Oxford University in the UK.  She was a key member of the Post team that produced the best-selling biography “Trump Revealed…”

E.R. Shipp is here.  She is Associate Professor and Journalist in Residence at Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism and Communication. She is a columnist for the Baltimore Sun and the winner, in 1996, of the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, when she was at the NY Daily News. She also worked as a reporter and editor at The New York Times and as the ombudsman at The Washington Post.

And Andy Green is here as well.  He’s the Editorial page editor for the Baltimore Sun.

We also take your calls and comments.

Photo by Brad Trent

Judy Collins' unparalleled musical career has spanned more than six decades, and her best-selling interpretations of music -- from traditional folk ballads and the work of singer-songwriters of the 1960s to the American Popular Songbook -- have delighted and inspired audiences around the globe.  

At 77, Collins today maintains a rigorous schedule of concerts, including an appearance at the Columbia Festival of the Arts on Saturday, April 1st (details here). Over the years, she has also been involved with many other projects such as books, movies, and activism on behalf of causes near and dear to her.  

Her latest CD is called A Love Letter to Stephen Sondheim, a collection of ten of her favorite songs by the renowned composer, performed with piano accompaniment by Russell Walden. 

Judy Collins joins Tom on the line from her home in New York.

Photo by Richard Anderson

It's Thursday on Midday, and that means theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us with her take on thespian offerings in the Baltimore-DC region. This week, she's here with her review of Twisted Melodiesthe one-man musical show at Baltimore's Center Stage about Donny Hathaway, a successful singer-songwriter of the 1970s best known for his duets with Roberta Flack. 

Written and performed by Kelvin Roston, Jr., and directed by Derrick Sanders, Twisted Melodies is an intense, emotionally charged play about Hathaway's brilliant but tragically short career.  Inspired by artistic genius but tormented by mental illness, Hathaway's poignant struggles are compellingly interpreted by the multi-talented Roston. 

Twisted Melodies' run at Baltimore Center Stage has been extended thru Sunday, April 23.

We begin today with Congressman Elijah Cummings. He represents Maryland's 7th District, which includes parts of Baltimore City and some of Baltimore and Howard Counties, and he serves as the ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. 

Rep. Cummings is holding his 20th annual Job Fair on Monday, April 3, from 9 am to 2 pm at the Fifth Regiment Armory near the State Center complex in Baltimore.  

More than 40 employers plan to be at the fair -- interviewing candidates for various positions. Here is a list of employers that plan to attend.  And here is the complete agenda of job-search workshops to be held at the fair. 

Alec Ross joined Tom in Studio A.   Ross is an innovation expert and the author of the New York Times best-selling book “The Industries of the Future,” about the changes that economies and societies can expect over the next decade -- and what we and our children should do to prepare for the changing nature of work. The book is now available in paperback.

He’s also a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, where he advises the university on turning new research into start-up companies.     For several years, he was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s senior adviser for innovation.  

He also worked on the Obama campaign and transition team from 2007 to early 2009.

Alec Ross will be one of the featured speakers at Light City, the festival of lights and ideas that kicks off for the second year on Friday in the Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore.  

He and Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, will be appearing together at Light City, a week from today. Their topic will be “A Path to the Future” for young people.

Medscape.com

In a dramatic political showdown last week on the nation’s health insurance system, the Republican-led House and a determined President Trump tried but failed to repeal and replace The Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare. Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision to withdraw his controversial bill, because of defections by both conservative and moderate Republicans, means the ACA remains the law of the land. But with opponents still vowing to bring the program down, are critical medical coverage and public health services still in jeopardy? 

Concerns were also raised this month by the Trump Administration’s proposed 2018 budget, which would boost defense spending and sharply reduce funding to federal agencies like Health and Human Services, whose budget would be cut by 18% next year. What would such cuts mean for the future of medical research, maternal health care and addiction treatment?

For now, Governor Larry Hogan's declaration earlier this month of a State of Emergency provides an extra 50 million dollars over the next five years to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic in Maryland, and help support the state's prevention, recovery and enforcement efforts. 

Today, it’s another edition of the Midday Healthwatch, our monthly visit with Dr. Leana Wen, the Health Commissioner of the City of Baltimore. She joins Tom in the studio to talk about the ACA going forward, the state's continuing battle against the opioid epidemic, and other issues on the front lines of public health.

Pressfoto / Freepik

When we think of school segregation, we tend think of that long, dark period in American history, before the landmark Supreme Court Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954, that refuted the notion that “separate but equal” schools were constitutional. For decades following the decision, schools became more integrated, opening their doors to students of color voluntarily and through court ordered busing programs. However, in the last 30 years school across the country have moved towards re-segregation.

Maryland has the third most segregated classrooms in the United States behind New York and Illinois. So, what does that mean for the young people we’re educating? 

Photo by Craig Schwartz

We turn to the world of theater and the premiere of a new musical at the Everyman Theatre here in Baltimore.  Its subject couldn’t be more timely:  Los Otros or, The Othersdelves into the complexities of immigration, cultural identity, sexuality, and coming of age.

In 2012, a very different version of Los Otros was presented at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.  Vincent Lancisi, the founder and artistic director of the Everyman, commissioned a re-write of the musical after that original production, and then held a workshop in New York so that the writers could make further revisions, which continued as the rehearsal process for the Everyman production got underway.

The man who composed Los Otros' beautiful music and the woman who wrote the lyrics and book join Tom in Studio A.  Composer Michael John LaChiusa is a five-time Tony Award nominee for work on and off-Broadway.  He’s won, among other awards, an Obie, a Dramatists Guild Award, and Daytime Emmys.  Ellen Fitzhugh has received Tony, Emmy and Drama Desk award nominations, and written lyrics with numerous film score composers, including the renowned Henry Mancini.

If Republicans in the US House of Representatives can’t pass their health care bill by Friday afternoon and send it on to the Senate, the President says he’ll walk away, and move on to other items on the Trump agenda.  Has Repeal and Replace morphed into Reveal and Disgrace?

Last October, FBI Director James Comey revealed he was looking into Hillary Clinton's e-mails. He waited until this week to mention that at the same time, he was also looking into allegations about collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.   Devin Nunes is the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. He got to visit the White House this week! And then he said he’s very sorry about it.  Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch has made his pitch to join the Supremes. Chuck Schumer says the Dems will filibuster.  

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