Midday | WYPR


Courtesy of Thread

How do you take students performing in the bottom 25 percent of their class to walking across the stage at college graduation? The Baltimore non-profit Thread seems to have the answer: follow each student for a decade, provide them with a team of supporters, and do whatever it takes to help kids succeed, from packing lunches to matching students with summer internships. Ninety-two percent of Thread students graduate from high school, and 90 percent are accepted to college. Sarah Hemminger, co-founder of Thread, tells us how Thread is scaling up its efforts. And we hear from a volunteer and from a member of Thread’s first cohort, now a board member with the organization. Original air date: April 13, 2016.

Kevin Galens/Flickr via Creative Commons

Capable of moving thirty million tons of international cargo valued at more than $50 billion dollars. First in the nation for handling autos and light trucks. One of just four East Coast ports able to accommodate the massive ships now passing through the expanded Panama Canal. The Port of Baltimore is an essential player in both global trade and Maryland’s economy. This hour, we catch up with James White, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration. Will larger ships coming to Baltimore bring more jobs to the city? What challenges lie ahead for the port? All this, plus we remember Helen Delich Bentley, congresswoman, reporter and longtime advocate of the port. 

AFGE/Flickr via Creative Commons

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is a massive undertaking. The text of the trade accord is more than 5,000 pages. If it’s approved it would be the largest regional trade agreement ever, governing nearly 40 percent of the global economy. The Obama administration argues the TPP would support American jobs and protect workers’ rights and the environment throughout the dozen countries in the deal. Critics say the agreement is geared to protect the interests of multinational corporations, and would hurt American workers. The Trans-Pacific Partnership has become a hot topic on the campaign trail. What exactly is it? And what would it mean for citizens of the United States and the 11 other Pacific Rim countries involved? 

Courtesy Sagamore Development

With rents rising faster than wages, affordable housing around Baltimore is out of reach for many working people. While thousands of new housing units have been built across the city over the past decade, fewer than 40 of them have come from the city's inclusionary housing program. The city has also exempted the planned Port Covington development - which is asking the city for more than half a million in bonds - from inclusionary housing requirements. The developer has set a goal of setting 10 percent of its units at below market rates. In the County, the Council just rebuffed a bill to keep landlords from rejecting housing vouchers. We discuss the struggle for affordable housing. 

Philip Montgomery / Bloomberg Businessweek

If you live or work in Baltimore, you may have been filmed by an aerial surveillance camera some time this year. In January, a private company began flying a Cessna outfitted with high-tech cameras over Baltimore City, on behalf of the police department. The program was paid for by an anonymous donor. Most of us, including members of the City Council and perhaps even the mayor, learned about the program just last week, when Bloomberg Businessweek published an article about it. What is this technology capable of, and why wasn’t the public informed? Has Big Brother come to Baltimore? Our guests: Monte Reel, reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek; David Rocah, staff attorney for the ACLU of Maryland; and Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith

News coverage of the health care needs of LGBT individuals tends to focus on young people. What about the needs of older LGBT adults? Research shows that nearly half of LGBT older adults report they have disability, one-third report they are depressed, and more than one out of five say they have not disclosed their sexual or gender identity to their physician. With nearly 3 million adults age 50 and older in the U.S. self-identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, we discuss their unique needs and hear their stories. We speak to Bethany Henderson, a social worker who until recently worked with LGBT elders at Chase Brexton, and Jessica Rowe, a licensed clinical social worker and member of the Howard County Older Adult LGBT Task Force.

Clinton - Hillary for America/Trump - Michael Vadon / Flickr via Creative Commons

Hateful. Inflammatory. Empty. The word “rhetoric” has a bad reputation. But it has a pedigree: in history, rhetoric is a skill. Plato called it “the art of winning the soul by discourse.” As the campaign for president hits high gear, the public is getting a heavy dose of political rhetoric. How does the discourse this election season compare to campaigns of the past? What kinds of rhetorical strategies are candidates using? We’ve all heard of logical fallacies like the red herring and the slippery slope. How often do they crop up in political speech, and how can we learn to recognize them? From alliteration to tapinosis, the role of rhetoric in politics. Our guests: Trevor Parry-Giles, a professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Maryland, and Shirley Logan, a newly retired English professor from the University of Maryland. 

Two hundred forty years ago, just weeks after the colonies had declared their independence from Great Britain, George Washington’s army was outnumbered and outmaneuvered. The rebels would likely have been wiped out, and the revolution over before it began,.. except for the elite unit of Maryland fighters who repeatedly attacked British headquarters, buying a precious hour for the bulk of Washington’s army to escape. Two hundred-fifty-six Marylanders were killed in the Battle of Brooklyn. Where they are buried is still a mystery. But the Maryland regiments went on to supply the margin of victory in dozens of battles. Military historian Patrick O’Donnell tells their story in "Washington’s Immortals: The Untold Story of an Elite Regiment Who Changed the Course of the Revolution".

Park Heights Renaissance

The northwest Baltimore community of Park Heights is home to Pimlico RaceTrack and the annual Preakness Stakes. To the frustration of those who live there, it’s also known for vacants, crime, and blight. A decade ago, the city devised an extensive roadmap for redevelopment there. Since then, a few affordable housing developments have opened and a recreation center has been revamped. Two area schools are undergoing renovations. But the scale of the blight in Park Heights tends to dwarf efforts like these. What would it take to truly revitalize Park Heights? What would revitalization look like? Is the city’s roadmap the way to go? We hear from urban designer Klaus Philipsen, of ArchPlan Inc., and Cheo Hurley, executive director of the nonprofit organization Park Heights Renaissance

ELISA PAOLINI / Flickr via Creative Commons

"Memento," "The Bourne Identity," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Amnesia is a Hollywood staple. Even the true stories often seem fantastical. Just last month an Ontario man named Edgar Latulip recovered his memory after 30 years. He’d been missing and presumed dead, despite living 80 miles from home. Acute memory loss fascinates us, probably because in many ways, we are our memories. What triggers amnesia? What happens to your sense of self when your memory is gone? What can amnesia teach us about memory? Dr. Jason Brandt, a neuropsychologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who specializes in memory and memory disorders, joins us in studio to explore these questions. Also: Dr. Brandt is currently looking for older patients with mild memory impairment or early Alzheimer’s disease to take part in a clinical trial on dietary intervention. If you'd like to take part, call: 410-955-1647. Original air date: 

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science


In late July the Chesapeake Bay saw one of the worst “dead zones” on record, an area with low-oxygen water. By early August, conditions returned to the typical range, but efforts are ongoing in Maryland and surrounding states to shrink the dead zone. We speak to Tim Wheeler, managing editor of The Bay Journal, and Dr. Don Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. What do low oxygen levels mean for the health of plants and animals in the Bay? How will climate change - expected to bring warmer water temperatures and rising sea levels - affect the “dead zone”? We take a deep dive into the dead zone.

Courtesy of Rodney Foxworth

Philanthropic institutions are overwhelmingly white. Less than 4 percent of foundation CEOs are African-American, for instance, and the numbers for executive staff are similar. My guests today say that, despite good intentions, foundations lack moral urgency in addressing the problems that plague poor black communities. Social entrepreneur and philanthropy consultant Rodney Foxworth recently wrote an essay on the subject on Medium.com, titled “The Need for Black Rage in Philanthropy.” Are foundations too complacent, too comfortable, too willing to take things slow when it comes to inequality? Is rage the missing ingredient? Rodney Foxworth and Erika Seth Davies from the Association for Black Foundation Executives join us.

Michael Sauers / Flickr via Creative Commons

“What’d ya say?” “Speak up, stop mumbling!” “Would you repeat that?” Sound familiar? Maybe it’s someone you care about; maybe … it’s you. About 30 million Americans have enough trouble hearing it interferes with communication, and it’s much more common as we age. It’s not a minor frustration – hearing loss is linked to health problems like falling, to depression, anxiety and onset of dementia. Yet only a fraction of Americans who could benefit from hearing aids wear them. In this hour we’ll talk to a noted hearing researcher at Johns Hopkins about the impact of hearing loss, what keeps people from getting help with their hearing … and new developments on the horizon that might change that. Our guest: Dr. Frank Lin of Johns Hopkins Medicine. His clinical practice is dedicated to the medical and surgical management of hearing problems, and his research focuses on the intersection of hearing loss, gerontology and public health.

SimonQ錫濛譙 / Flickr via Creative Commons

Water main breaks. Sewer overflows. Flooded basements. Baltimore’s water infrastructure is often in the headlines. But some listeners may find the most recent news from the Department of Public Works particularly unwelcome: water and sewer rates are set to go up, pending Board of Estimates approval. Baltimore City residents would see a 33 percent water rate increase over the next three years, plus two new fees. But there will no longer be minimum billing for water usage, so water charges for some users may actually decrease. Surrounding counties that use city water will also see changes to their bills. Jeffrey Raymond, Chief of Communications and Community Affairs for the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, answers your questions.

Zhu/Flickr via Creative Commons

In a few hours, the Baltimore City Council is to vote on whether or not to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022. The city currently follows the state minimum wage of $8.75 an hour. The proposal says small businesses--with fewer than 25 employees or less than a half a million dollars in gross annual income-- would not have to pay the higher minimum. Proponents say raising the basement wage is crucial to attacking poverty, in a city where one out of four residents is below the poverty line. They cite data showing the proposal would boost the incomes of more than one-fourth of workers in the city. Business advocates argue the proposal would backfire, killing jobs by pushing some businesses to move out of the city. Our guests: Ricarra Jones, political organizer with SEIU 1199, and Cailey Locklair Tolle, president of the Maryland Retailers Association. 

The Baltimore Police Department disproportionately stops, searches, and arrests African Americans in violation of federal law and the US Constitution. This is one of the conclusions of a scathing US Department of Justice investigation into how the city’s police force operates. The Justice Department found evidence of intentional discrimination against black residents, including orders by supervising officers to target African Americans for stops and arrests, and a failure by the department to investigate complaints alleging racial bias by officers. Baltimore now begins the hard work of drafting a court-enforceable framework of reforms. We hear reaction from a law professor and a local pastor, and from you. 

P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

A damning report by the Department of Justice reveals a pattern and practice of unconstitutional policing in Baltimore: illegal stops and arrests, excessive force and public strip searches, the targeting of predominantly African-American neighborhoods. The report reached a conclusion already experienced by many Baltimore residents -- that the Baltimore Police Department’s methods have broken the public’s trust. What’s next? Baltimore must draft a court-enforceable consent decree detailing reforms…reforms expected to cost the city millions of dollars. Can the Baltimore Police Department rebuild its relationship with the community? Is the city willing to devote time and resources to remedying years of discrimination and excessive force? Our guests: Kwame Rose, activist and and producer with The Real News Network; and Lieutenant Roy Alston, a patrol watch commander with the Dallas Police Department who has worked on past investigations with the US Department of Justice; former Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor Martin O'Malley.

Did you know that dinosaurs didn’t actually go extinct? One group is still with us: they’re called birds. Were you aware that most dinosaurs had feathers? Does it surprise you to hear that Tyrannosaurus Rex is closer to us in time than it was to Stegosaurus? Dinosaurs are as popular as ever, particularly among children. But the picture the general public has of them hasn’t kept pace with the science. Today University of Maryland dinosaur paleontologist Thomas Holtz, Jr. joins us to talk discoveries, dispel myths and tell us how we know what we know about one of the most successful groups of animals to ever walk the earth. Original air date: May 11, 2016.

Drug shortages don’t sound like the kind of thing that could happen in the United States. Yet shortages of drugs ranging from cancer treatment to painkillers have become commonplace. The FDA even has a mobile app for shortages, aimed at healthcare professionals. When the supply of a medication runs dry, doctors scramble to find alternatives. They are often less familiar with the substitute drug. It may be less effective. It may have side effects. And in some cases, there simply is no substitute. That means physicians increasingly face an agonizing ethical decision: which patients should receive drugs and which should not? We discuss how physicians are coping with the crisis in our nation’s drug supply. Original air date: May 24, 2016.

Our guests: Dr. Yoram Unguru, an oncologist at the Children’s Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore and a faculty member at the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University; and Dr. Jesse Pines, director of the Office for Clinical Practical Innovation at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

When entrepreneurs in Elizabethan England looked to the New World, they saw America as a land of waste land that was not productive -- but could be the place to offload the poor, idle, diseased and the children of beggars, all seen as human waste. That’s how historian Nancy Isenberg begins her history of class in America -- generation after generation of underclass viewed by society and government as disposable. In her book “White Trash,” Isenberg argues that far from the class-less society Americans claim, the United States always has enforced a class structure and disdained those at the bottom. We’ll ask Isenberg whether her focus on class ignores the bigotry of race … and how the ideas of “White Trash” show up in politics today.

American Community School / Flickr via Creative Commons

Universal pre-kindergarten. That’s the notion that preschool, especially the year just before kindergarten, should be free for everyone. It’s an idea with broad bipartisan support, and champions at the highest levels of government. Many cities and states already have begun to move towards universal pre-k. Advocates say good programs can help low-income kids catch up with their peers, and that making pre-k universal benefits everyone. But the question of whether pre-k makes a difference in the long run is sharply debated. What does the evidence suggest pre-K can do for children? Is making it universal the best way to help disadvantaged kids? The pros and cons of universal pre-k.

KPCC: Southern California Public Radio

Medical marijuana is coming to Maryland, and a lot of people hope to strike it rich. Nearly 150 companies are competing for just 15 growing licenses. Others are vying to process and dispense the stuff. Some have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, just to complete the application. The state will soon announce which growers and processors have made the first cut. Who is throwing their hat in the ring and why? How are Marylanders learning to navigate this new market? What are the rewards of being first in line, and what are the pitfalls of operating a business that’s illegal on the federal level?

Tea Party Women

Aug 2, 2016

With a woman at the top of the ticket of one of the major parties, it’s no surprise that women are an outsize force in shaping politics this year. But how are they shaping it? On the right, women have advanced in the Tea Party in ways they say the traditional Republican Party would have resisted. What are their goals? What issues do they stress? Political scientist Melissa Deckman discusses her new book, "Tea Party Women: Mama Grizzlies, Grassroots Leaders, and the Changing Face of the American Right".

The Congo, Syria, Iraq. Refugees from these countries and others now call Baltimore home. Nearly half of the refugees resettled in Maryland are children or young adults. How do school-age refugees navigate this dramatic transition? A new language, unfamiliar customs, the culture shock of life in America. We hear from a refugee from Eritrea who recently graduated from St. Mary’s College, a teacher who works with refugee and immigrant students at Digital Harbor High School, and the head of the International Rescue Committee, a resettlement agency in the city. Plus, we catch up with Baltimore Sun reporter Liz Bowie, whose series last year profiled refugee students at Patterson High School. 

Within a week after criminal charges were filed against police officers who arrested and transported Freddie Gray last year, the CEO of the Greater Baltimore Urban League publicly proclaimed, “To heal our city, we cannot focus exclusively on law enforcement.” Next week the Baltimore chapter will host the National Urban League conference, with the theme: “Save Our Cities: Education, Jobs & Justice.” This hour, we’ll focus on jobs. The Baltimore Urban League is opening a center for entrepreneurship with mentoring, workshops and a micro-business incubator. The goal is to help residents not just find a job, but start their own businesses, expand, and hire others. We’ll speak to Urban League leaders, and to a business owner whose online company has grown into a brick-and-mortar space at Eastpoint Mall.

Michael Chunko / Flickr via Creative Commons

Sand. It’s one of the world’s most vital commodities, though we don’t give it much credit. Our cities are essentially made of sand, from the asphalt roads to the concrete buildings to the glass windows. Human beings use more of the stuff than nearly any other resource. And as the global population expands and the world becomes more urban, it is in ever greater demand. Sand mafias in India have reportedly killed hundreds of people, and sand mines are wreaking environmental havoc all over the world. How can we possibly be running low on sand? And what does it mean for the future of civilization? The global sand shortage. Our guest, journalist Vince Beiser, wrote this piece for the New York Times and this one for WIRED. His work is supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Baltimore Police

There will be no convictions in the death of Freddie Gray, who was fatally injured while in police custody last April. Prosecutors dropped all the charges against the three remaining police officers charged in his death. Three other officers were previously acquitted. Last May, when Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby first announced the charges, outraged protesters celebrated, even as the police union condemned the charges. Why did the prosecution choose to drop charges now? What is the reaction to this news in the community where Freddie Gray lived? What does this mean for Marilyn Mosby, and where does Baltimore go from here?

Larry Weaner Landscape Associates

If you’ve ever planted a flower garden, you know what’s required: planting, watering, maybe adding fertilizer and compost. And then there’s that never-ending task, weeding. But what if there were an easier way to create a beautiful, rewarding garden? There is, according to landscape designer Larry Weaner, author of "Garden Revolution: How our landscapes can be a source of environmental change." He argues that many traditional gardening practices are not just time-consuming: they’re counterproductive and harmful to the environment. When we plant species that aren’t suited to our local landscape, we set ourselves up for struggle, he says. Instead, the natural processes of native plant communities should guide us. Stop pulling weeds, retire the rototiller, and start a revolution . . . in your garden. 

Y'amal / Flickr via Creative Commons

McDonald’s. Walmart. Nestle. Just a few of the multinational corporations that have vowed to stop selling eggs from caged chickens. Major brands have also promised to boycott pork from pigs kept in narrow cages known as gestation crates. And this spring, Perdue announced it will provide natural light and more space to the 700 million chickens it raises for meat every year, among other reforms. These companies are responding, they say, to consumer demand. Can the marketplace change the face of industrial farming? How much are Americans willing to pay for better treatment of animals? Do people agree on what is most humane?

Courtesy Sagamore Development

The company behind the planned Port Covington development has reached a 30-year, multi-million-dollar agreement with six South Baltimore neighborhoods. The deal also sets up a group, made up of members of Sagamore Development and the communities, to oversee how the nearly $40 million dollars worth of funding is disbursed. The communities’ wish-list includes a library, police substation, and after-school programs. Supporters say this deal is too good to pass up, but opponents question if it goes far enough on jobs or affordable housing. And all this hinges on the City Council’s approval of a $660 million dollar tax-increment-financing deal, the largest in Baltimore history.