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Midday

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It's Thursday and that means it's time for Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck to join us with a review. This week, she joins guest host Rob Sivak to talk about "Trust," the new production now on stage at Fells Point Corner Theater in Baltimore until Sunday, March 19th.

Here's how Fells Point Corner Theatre describes this off-beat play by Steven Deitz -- one of the country's most prolific regional-theater playwrights:

"A rising star and a faded one. A radio DJ. A Bohemian. Guitar picks, pick-ups and wedding dresses waiting to be worn. In a fast-paced, grungy grind, how can anyone be trusted when temptation trumps all?  From the creative team who brought us previous year's productions of Other Desert Cities and Detroit, Director Michael Byrne Zemarel combines with the talents of Valerie Dowdle, Cassandra Dutt, Laura Malkus, Rachel Roth, David Shoemaker and Mark Scharf to bring you a play about rock'n'roll -- and the ones it leaves behind."

"Trust," by Steven Deitz,  is on stage at the Fells Point Corner Theatre in Baltimore until Sunday, March 19th.

AP Photo/Karin Laub

Kathleen Cahill sits in for Tom Hall today.  

President Donald Trump signed his first executive order on immigrants and refugees on January 26th,  less than a week after his inauguration.  It went into effect immediately, leading to chaos – and protests – at airports across the United States. That executive order was put on hold by the courts in February.  President Trump signed a revised executive order on immigrants and refugees on March 6th, set to take effect March 16th.

(Just hours after this broadcast, two federal judges -- one in Hawaii and the other in Maryland -- dealt separate blows to the revised travel ban.  As a result, its implementation has been temporarily blocked nationwide. )    

The revised order is aimed at travelers from a targeted list of majority-Muslim countries, including Libya, Sudan Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Iran. This time around, Iraq is not on that list.  No new visas will be issued to people from these countries for 90 days. Like Trump’s first travel ban, Travel Ban 2.0, as it has come to be known,  puts the U.S. refugee program on hold for 120 days. That means refugees from all countries will be barred from entering the United States.  The question is: Will President Trump's latest travel ban do anything to make the country safer from terrorist attacks?

Kathleen is joined in the studio by two guests who have focused intensely on immigrant and refugee issues: lawyer Marielena Hincapie,  Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) in Los Angeles, and Bill Frelick, Director of the Refugee Rights Program at Human Rights Watch in Washington, D.C.

Hincapie comes to our Baltimore studio straight from a hearing  at the federal court in Greenbelt, MD, where the ACLU and refugee rights organizations, including the NILC, have brought legal challenge to the travel ban. 

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay writes about  flawed women, women who are broken, women who won’t bow to a man’s will, women who make mistakes, women who challenge the status quo, women who are just trying to figure it all out, women women who are difficult...

Roxane Gay’s latest collection of short stories explores what it means to be a difficult woman.  Roxane Gay is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. She is the author of several books including New York Times bestseller Bad Feminist, and her latest Difficult Women. She joins guest host Bridget Armstrong to talk about Difficult Women and her forthcoming memoir Hunger, which is set to be released in June. 

Simon & Schuster

*Helene Cooper will be speaking about "Madame President" on Thursday, March 16 at 6:30pm at the Maryland State Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped, 415 Park Ave., Baltimore MD 21201.For more information click here.

Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf made history in 2006 she became the first woman to lead an African nation. Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times Correspondent Helene Cooper chronicles President Johnson Sirleaf’s path to the highest office in Liberia in her new book Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The book is as much about President Johnson Sirleaf’s life as it is about the culture that shaped her and the women who supported her.  President Johnson Sirleaf was born between two worlds at odds in Liberia. Educated at Harvard University, she was determined to return home to help her country--a decision that often put her in danger. When she was elected in 2005 the country had just come out of a brutal period of civil war. Now she’s nearing the end of her tenure and plans to step down peacefully, the first president of Liberia to do so in decades. Helene Cooper joins guest host Bridget Armstrong to talk about President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's legacy. Helene Cooper is the author of New York Times bestseller The House At Sugar Beach. The book is a memoir about Helene's childhood in Liberia. 

Cover art courtesy Little, Brown and Co., Publisher

Their names are familiar: Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice...and others.   Young, unarmed black men killed by police. Their common, tragic fates and what led to them are the focus of Tom's conversation today with Wesley Lowery.

Lowery is a Washington Post reporter who’s been on the ground covering incidents of police violence since protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, following the death of Michael Brown.

Lowery’s new book examines law enforcement culture and the legacy of unconstitutional treatment of African-Americans that continues to seed mistrust between police and communities of color. 

“For most white Americans," Lowery tells Tom, "the police are someone you call when you are in trouble. For most black and brown Americans, the police are an oppressive force, who they see as harassing them and interacting with them in ways that could lead to them being dead.”

A Midday Special Edition: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wesley Lowery on his new book, They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era of America’s Racial Justice Movement. 

This program was pre-recorded, so we didn't take any phone calls.  If you want to comment on the show, you can tweet us @middaytomhall, or write to us at midday@wypr.org or on Midday's Facebook page. 

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

It’s Friday, and time for  the Midday News Wrap.

On Capitol Hill, two House committees voted Thursday to approve a Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act. Some Republicans say it doesn’t go far enough in repealing Obamacare. Other critics, including groups of doctors, hospitals and insurance companies, have called the proposed plan unworkable.

Rod Rosenstein, the current US attorney for MD, was in the hot seat on Tuesday during his confirmation hearing to become the nation’s Deputy Attorney General. If confirmed, he would lead any investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, now that A.G. Jeff Sessions has recused himself. He did that when he admitted to failing to disclose his meetings as a Trump campaign surrogate with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. 

As in other recent weeks, the news has been dominated by Donald Trump. In a Tweet early Saturday morning, Trump leveled an extraordinary claim -- accusing President Obama of ordering wiretaps at Trump Tower in New York. The White House has yet to provide any evidence to support the claim. They’ve called for a Congressional investigation. 

And in Baltimore, Police Commissioner Davis puts an end to undercover policing in the city, in the wake of last week’s indictment of seven police officers on federal racketeering charges. 

Joining Tom today for the Midday News Wrap: 

Julie Bykowicz. She’s a White House Reporter for the Associated Press. She covered politics, and the 2016 election, for AP. Before that she was a political reporter for Bloomberg and for 10 years was a reporter at the Baltimore Sun, where she covered state politics, city courts and crime, among other things. 

Fraser Smith. He's a columnist for the Daily Record. He's also a longtime observer of Baltimore, and was at The Baltimore Sun for many years. He is about to step down as WYPR’s senior news analyst. But you’ll still hear him on our airwaves as a WYPR contributor. 

Classical guitarist Junhong Kuang joins Tom live today in Studio A -- and plays some glorious music.  He is the 17-year-old winner of the 2016 Yale Gordon Concerto Competition at the Peabody Conservatory, here in Baltimore.

Kuang is a native of Chengdu, China. He began playing guitar at age 5. At 15, he was accepted into the Peabody Conservatory where he is working toward a bachelor of arts degree in guitar performance under the tutelage of guitarist Manuel Barrueco.

Already in his young career, Kuang has given nearly 100 concerts. And will give another one tomorrow afternoon, at 3 pm at the Baltimore Museum of Art as part of the Shriver Hall Concert Series.

That free concert is sold out, but you can hear Kuang's extraordinary musical talents by listening to his performance today on Midday.  Enjoy!

Photo by Jillian Edelstein

Tom's guest today is the acclaimed Pakistani novelist and essayist Mohsin Hamid.  He’s the author of insightful and quirky novels like Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

In his latest work, Exit West, he explores the complexities and punishing challenges of being a refugee.  With hints of fantasy and a trenchant analysis of the human condition, Hamid writes fiction that forces us to listen and essays that compel us to question the common wisdom.

Mohsin Hamid joins Tom to talk about his work, and the uncertain fate of refugees in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to those displaced by war, famine and political upheavals.

You can meet Mohsin Hamid on Saturday, March 11, at the Church of the Redeemer in North Baltimore.  The event will support the work of the Baltimore office of the International Rescue Committee.  It’s sponsored by the Ivy Bookshop, and it begins at 7:00pm.   For more information, click here.

Photo by Richard Anderson

Midday's theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio -- as she does most Thursdays -- with her review this week of The White Snake, on stage in the renovated Head Theater at the newly named Baltimore Center Stage.

Based on an ancient Chinese fable, The White Snake uses mystery and magic to tell a fantastical tale that's staged in grand-spectacle style, intertwining traditional and modern storytelling techniques.  

Two animal spirits -- White Snake and Green Snake, played by Aime Donna Kelly and Eileen Rivera, have taken human form as a beautiful woman and her sly servant. White Snake falls in love with a poor pharmacist’s assistant (played by Joe Ngo), but their relationship is condemned by a conservative monk (played by Peter Van Wagner), and their newfound happiness is threatened by tragedy. 

The White Snake was written-adapted by Mary Zimmerman, and directed by Natsu Onoda Power.  Nicole Wee is the costume designer,  Hana S. Kim is the scenic and projection designer, and  Jeff Song is music director.

The White Snake is at Baltimore Center Stage until March 26th.  Ticket and showtime information is available here.

Tony Juliano

 

Today a conversation about the racial wealth gap and why it persists. Nationally, Blacks have a median household income that’s 60 percent of that of Whites; in Baltimore that number is even lower at just 54 percent. That’s according to a report from the non-profit Corporation for Enterprise Development

For millions of people, home ownership is the key to building wealth. African Americans and Latinos are less likely to own their own homes. And when they do, because of years of redlining in communities of color, they’re valued a lot lower than houses in traditionally white communities.

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