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Midday

Karl Merton Ferron /Baltimore Sun

When Baltimore Police Commissioner Designate Darryl DeSousa appeared on Midday last Wednesday, he was quick to credit the efforts of Erricka Bridgeford, one of the founders of Baltimore Ceasefire 365, for the city’s 12 day streak with zero murders. 

It was in the days during and after the third Ceasefire weekend that began on February 2nd, that Baltimore experienced no homicides for nearly two weeks, the first time that has happened in our city since 2015.  Since then, three men have been killed: Sadik Griffin, John Townes, Jr., and Sean Sewell.    

Erricka Bridgeford cares about the disheartening data, but she also cares about the individuals who’ve lost their lives, and the devastating effects their deaths have on their families, their neighborhoods, and their communities.  She joins us today in Studio A. 

The efforts of Baltimore Cease Fire 365 to stem the tide of violence in Baltimore are on-going and next Ceasefire weekend is scheduled for Mother’s Day weekend, in May.

www.morgan.edu

Governor Hogan’s recent offer of $100 million dollars to settle the 12 year-old lawsuit filed by the state’s HBCU’s against the Maryland Higher Education Commission, was met with hope by some, and incredulity by others as the state admitted that the cost of reversing the legacy of discriminatory funding practices would actually cost billions. 

Debora Bailey, reporter for the AFRO Newspaper, and Dr. Earl Richardson, President Emeritus of Morgan State University, are in Studio A to discuss the road ahead for the Maryland’s Historically Black Institution.

 

Office of the Governor

Today, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan joins Tom live in Studio A.  He is one of only two Republicans elected to our state’s highest office in the last 50 years, and in a poll released last month by Gonzales Media and Research, 71% of MD voters said they approve of the job the Governor is doing.  While there is no shortage of Democrats vying for the chance to face the Governor in the general election in November, Mr. Hogan leads all of them in head-to-head match-ups at this early stage in the campaign. 

Calling for bipartisanship and cooperation in his State of the State Address last month, the Governor points to education funding and accountability, re-districting, and the environment as some of his top priorities.  Tom discusses some of those issues during his 30-minute interview with Mr. Hogan. 

Later, Maryland and government reporter for The Daily Record, Bryan Sears, joins us on the line with the latest from Annapolis and reaction to the Governor's remarks. 

AP Photo by Wilfredo Lee

Joining Tom for the NewsWrap today are White House correspondents Ayesha Rascoe of Reuters and Tamara Keith of NPR.   

In the wake of another massacre at an American high school, politicians who oppose any move toward gun regulation are keeping the families in Parkland, Florida in their thoughts and prayers, and keeping the NRA satisfied that no significant changes to federal gun policy are likely.

The Senate fails to find a fix for DACA, and resignation of White House aide Robert Porter’s raises questions about how casually President Trump and his staff handle top secret intelligence. 

Nearly 40% of the President’s original picks for his cabinet have been involved in ethical controversies in the last year.  The latest is the head of the Veterans Administration.

Ayesha Rascoe and Tamara Keith join us on the line from NPR studios in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Katie Simmons-Barth

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us today with reviews of two plays now running in the region:  Red Velvet, by the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, and All She Must Possess, a world premiere at Rep Stage, on the Howard Community College campus.

Chesapeake Shakespeare's Red Velvet (profiled on Midday's January 31st showtells the story of Ira Aldridge, a celebrated and controversial African American actor who won international renown for his groundbreaking portrayal of Shakespeare's Othello at a London theater in 1833.  The play by Lolita Chakrabati is directed by Shirley Basfield Dunlap, and features Christian R. Gibbs as Ira Aldridge and Yuri Lomakin as a London theater manager.

All She Must Possess, directed at the Rep Stage by Joseph Ritsch, is the world premiere of a play by Susan McCully, who portrays the lives of Baltimore's Victorian-era Cone sisters -- Dr. Claribel and Etta Cone.  The iconic pair's passion for collecting art and curios from around the world brings them into the rarified company of many of the artistic and literary geniuses of their day, including avant-garde writer Gertrude Stein.

Red Velvet at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, and All She Must Possess at Rep Stage in Columbia, both continue through February 25.

It’s  Midday on Music and today we explore  music as a window into Muslim Culture, and the creative work of Muslim women, who are being celebrated in a series at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore this season called Nisa’a Women.  My guests this afternoon are Sudanese singer Alsarah and her band The Nubatones.  The group is in town as the second installment in the Nisa’a Women series.  They are conducting workshops at local schools, they’ll be at a community potluck for refugee and immigrant communities and they will give a concert at the Creative Alliance tomorrow night.

Later on, a discussion about the growing popularity of Contemporary African music. Despite Hip Hop  and Afrobeats artists dominating music charts around the world, they were not well represented at this year’s Grammy awards.  Stephanie Shonekan, University of Missouri Associate Professor of Black Studies and Ethnomusicologist, joins us on the telephone to discuss who wins awards, who doesn’t and  why.  

Baltimore Police Department

Tom's guest today is the newly appointed chief of the Baltimore Police DepartmentDarryl De Sousa is the Commissioner-Designate.  His confirmation hearing at the Baltimore City Council is slated for a week from today.  Mr. De Sousa has been on the job for less than a month, but he’s been a member of the Baltimore Police Department for more than 30 years.  Prior to his elevation to Commissioner, he served as the top commander in the patrol bureau. 

Mr. De Sousa takes the reins of the department as it is reeling from revelations that surfaced at the trial of two officers who were convicted Monday night on racketeering and fraud charges.  Ironically, and much to everyone’s delight, for 12 consecutive days, as the trial was underway, Baltimore experienced no new homicides.  Ericka Bridgeford, the founder of Baltimore Ceasefire, tells us that the city hasn’t gone that long without a homicide since 2014.  The Baltimore Sun reported that an unidentified man was shot and killed in Belair Edison yesterday afternoon, in a district that the Commissioner Designate served as Commander years ago.

Against the backdrop of a city still beset by crime, hopeful of a turnaround, and in urgent need of a police force it can trust, Darryl DeSousa joins Tom in Studio A.

photos courtesy RealNewsNetwork; LEAP

Following his interview with Baltimore City Police Commissioner-Designate Darryl D. DeSousa in the first half of today's Midday, host Tom Hall welcomes to the studio two guests with keen insights on the many challenges facing Mr. DeSousa and his beleaguered department.

Joining Tom is Maj. Neill Franklin (ret.), the Executive Director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), a national organization that advocates for criminal justice reform and healing police-community relations.  In his 34-year career, Major Franklin served in both the MD State Police and the Baltimore City Police Department.

Stephen Janis joins Tom as well.  He’s a journalist with The Real News Network, who has covered the city for many years as an award-winning investigative reporter for the Baltimore Examiner and WBFF (Fox 45) Television.

We are joined  by the Emmy Award winning filmmaker, Stanley Nelson, whose latest documentary chronicles the history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  The HBCU tradition in the United States was born out of necessity, animated after the Civil War by the conviction that education would be the foundation upon which the success of Freedmen and Freedwomen would be built. 

There are currently 101 HBCU schools, 20 fewer than in the 1930s.  Its graduates include Black luminaries like WEB DuBois, Thurgood Marshall, Spike Lee, Althea Gibson, and Toni Morrison.

Mr. Nelson’s film is called “Tell Them We are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges & Universities.”  The film speaks of the history, the legacy and the importance of HBCU’s to the Black community and to the whole of American Society.    

On this edition of What Ya Got Cookin'?, Midday's regular series on cuisine, we speak with Culinary Historian Michael Twitty.  His new book is called “The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African American Culinary History in the Old South.” and is part personal memoir, part history, and part cook book.  It’s a startling and poignant chronicle of how people held in bondage, with little to nothing of their own, created a culinary tradition and a lasting cultural identity, and how the author came to understand his own identity by studying the ways in which his ancestors cooked.  He joins us from the studios of NPR in Washington.

Chef David K. Thomas joins our conversation as well.   He is the executive chef at Baltimore’s modern soul food restaurant, Ida B’s Table, named for Ida B. Wells, the famous African American journalist and activist who was born just a couple of years before the Civil War.  

You can learn more about Michael Twitty, and his work as a culinary historian on his blog, Afroculinaria.com 

Matt Mendelsohn Photography

Today on Midday: three perspectives on immigration.

First, let’s consider what we might call "immigration amnesia." It seems like a good way to describe the affliction of politicians and others who speak derisively about immigrants -- when they themselves are, like everyone except for Indigenous People, descendants of people who came to this country from somewhere else.

Tom's first guest is Jennifer Mendelsohn. With her #resistancegenealogy project on Twitter, she has found a persuasive way to remind anti-immigrant Washington types of their own immigrant past. 

Mendelsohn is a Baltimore journalist. She is a former People magazine special correspondent and a columnist for Slate. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The L.A. Times and many other places. She’s also an avid genealogist who serves on the board of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland.

University of Texas Press

Continuing with Midday’s focus on immigration today, Tom welcomes Dr. Perla M. Guerrero.

Guerrero is an Assistant Professor of American Studies and U.S., Latina and Latino Studies at the University of Maryland in College Park. Her new book is called Nuevo South: Latinas/os, Asians and the Remaking of Place -- on what can happen when an influx of immigrants settles in places that had been almost entirely white. 

Prof. Guerrero joined Tom on the line from her office in College Park.

National Immigration Law Center

Tom’s final guest today is Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. 

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to take up immigration reform tonight. During budget negotiations that resulted in two brief government shutdowns, Senate Democrats extracted a promise from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to begin debate on a fix for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and comprehensive reform of immigration policy.

President Trump has issued a deadline of March 5th for Congress to come up with a fix for the DACA program, which Mr. Trump ended last fall.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has said that he, too, is committed to finding a fix for the 800,000 young people in the DACA program, but, despite Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s marathon speech on the House Floor last week, Ryan has made no promise about bringing immigration legislation to a vote in the Congress.

Hincapie, on the line from Washington, D.C., offers her perspective on what’s next for DACA, and for immigration policy moving forward.

On today's News Wrap, we review some of the week's top state and local stories. During the nearly three-week trial of two Baltimore police officers indicted on federal racketeering charges, a steady stream of witnesses --including other members of the now-defunct Gun Trace Task Force who'd pled guilty to similar charges -- described in detail the way members of the "elite" police unit routinely engaged in a variety of criminal activities, ranging from robbery and drug dealing to lying about overtime.

The jury heard testimony from more than 32 witnesses, some of whom were alleged victims of Officer Daniel Hersl and Officer Marcus Taylor.  The testimony unfurled a dark canvas of banditry and abuse that has further deepened the suspicion and mistrust of Baltimore's police force already long felt by many people of color throughout the city. By week's end, the jury had begun deliberations on a verdict for the two officers.

Joining us by phone is WBAL-TV's award-winning investigative reporter Jayne Miller, who has been covering the police corruption story since it began almost a year ago. 

Later, we turn our attention to Annapolis, where we are one month into the Maryland General Assembly's 2018 Legislative Session. WYPR’s State House correspondent Rachel Baye joins Tom with a status report on some of the key legislative developments thus far.

A conversation with Timothy Kreider, a writer who grew up in Baltimore, and has become one of the most highly respected cartoonists and essayists on the literary scene today.  For more than a decade, his cartoon, The Pain: When Will it End ran in the City Paper here in Baltimore and in other alternative weeklies around the country.  His cartoons have been published in three books.  His work has also appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker and elsewhere. 

His latest book is a collection of essays about love: love that is requited and unrequited, love for his cat, love for his best friend, love at the circus, and how scientists study our capacity to love.  It’s really good.  It’s called I Wrote This Book Because I Love YouTim Kreider has returned to his hometown and  joins us in Studio A.

Photo by Kathleen Cahill

The Motor Trend International Auto Show opens today at the Baltimore Convention Center and runs through Sunday. There are more than 500 cars at the show, and we wondered: What’s hot and what’s not?

Midday host Tom Hall wandered around the car show last night with Rory Cahill. Rory knows a lot about cars, and his expertise has attracted the attention of a lot of folks. On two occasions, General Motors has shipped a car to Rory’s house in Baltimore and asked him to try it out for a week, and to give them his unvarnished opinion. In the biz, he’s known as “an influencer.”

So Rory seemed like a good guy to talk to when we wanted to find out which cars are the coolest cars at this year’s show. There’s only one thing Rory doesn’t know about cars: how to drive them. Rory is 13, three years shy of getting his license. Here’s a film about Rory that debuted at the Maryland Film Festival last year, plus a couple of his reviews from the 2016 New York Auto Show about the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio and the Lexus LC 500.  Special thanks to director and engineer Luke Spicknall, who turned our trip to the Baltimore Auto Show into today’s Midday...

Photo by Stan Barouh

It's Thursday and time for our weekly visit with theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins us today with her review of the new production of Eugene O'Neill's dark classic, Long Day's Journey Into Night, now on stage at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre.

Director Donald Hicken​ helms a seasoned cast of resident company* and guest actors in O'Neill's iconic, semi-autobiographical play that recounts a summer day and night in 1912 in the Connecticut home of the Tyrone family.  A stream of interactions quickly reveals the family members' deep emotional wounds and long-simmering conflicts.  James Tyrone (played by Kurt Rhoads, in his Everyman debut), his morphine-addicted wife Mary (Deborah Hazlett*), and their two sons, Jamie (Tim Getman*) and Edmund (Danny Gavigan*), struggle to connect with each other through their tangled webs of drug addiction, alcoholism, anger and love.  The production also features actress Katherine Ariyan as Cathleen, the Tyrone's housekeeper.

Long Day's Journey Into Night continues at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre til Sunday, March 4.  For ticket information click here.

Cover photo courtesy Farrar, Straus, Giroux

Few musical artists of our day have had a more sustained impact on contemporary culture than Canadian singer-songwriter, Joni Mitchell.

As a composer, Mitchell’s harmonic language and literary sophistication are unparalleled.  As a performer, she has riveted audiences for decades from her days as a willowy, guitar-slinging soprano, to her long career as an exacting and imaginative bandleader whose opus runs the gamut from popular idioms to modern jazz. 

David Yaffe is Tom's guest today.  He’s a professor of humanities at Syracuse University, and an award-winning music critic.  He’s the author of an acclaimed biography of Bob Dylan, and for his most recent book, he’s turned his attention to Joni Mitchell, tracing her life from her beginnings in rural Canada to her position in the upper echelon of creative artists.  The book is called Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell.

David Yaffe joins us on the line from public radio station WAER in Syracuse, New York.

Illinois US Senator Tammy Duckworth made headlines recently when she announced that she would be expecting her second child this spring.  She will become the first sitting Senator to give birth.  While her announcement might be an historic first for Congress, Sen. Duckworth is one of 25 million working mothers in the United States.

The #MeToo movement has given voice to women from assembly lines to corner offices around the persistence of sexual harassment and assault.  While working mothers with children under the age of 18 make up  for a third of the women in the labor force, many women face workplace discrimination based on pregnancy.  More than 30,000 claims of discrimination were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission between 2010 and 2015.  3,000 claims were filed just last year. 

New mothers also face obstacles when it comes to breastfeeding with fewer than 40 percent of women having adequate break time or access to acceptable nursing facilities on the job.

We take a look at the politics of pregnancy in the workplace.  Do women still have to choose between starting a family and pursuing a career? And what protections are afforded expectant mothers by their employers under the law?

Dr. Sheri Parks joins us in studio A for Midday Culture Connections on the first Tuesday of every month.  She is an Associate Professor in the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland College Park. She’s the author of Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman.   

Michelle Chen joins us on the phone from New York.  She is a contributor to The Nation, and host of Dissent Magazine’s podcast, Belabored.

From a photo by Paul McGeiver

It was clear from watching Super Bowl 52 this past Sunday -- regardless of which team won -- that the tradition of companies spending millions of dollars for a 30-second Super Bowl advertisement to promote their brands is still going strong.  

ETrade, Mars' M&Ms, Procter & Gamble, Amazon and Netflix, and more than 60 other companies all took the expensive plunge.  Beer and cars, not surprisingly, were well-represented too.  Perhaps the most controversial ad was for Dodge Ram Trucks, whose appropriation of a sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., drew swift criticism online.  Some ads were very funny, some much less so, and a few even used important global issues, such as scarce drinking water, to connect with audiences.  Virtually gone from the ads yesterday were the frequent  Super Bowl themes of sex and heavy social drinking.

Tom's guest today calls the Super Bowl the “high holiday” of advertising, but he predicts that because of the many new ways we have to rid our lives of ads -- at least on all of the days that are not SuperBowl Sunday -- the advertising we know and love (or hate) today will soon be changing.

Andrew Essex is the former CEO of Droga5, an advertising agency in New York that won multiple “Agency of the Year” awards.  Its clients have included Under Armour, Google, and Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.  Essex, who is sometimes described as a "recovering" ad man, published a book last summer called The End of Advertising: Why it Had to Die, and the Creative Resurrection to Come (Penguin/Random House) 

Andrew Essex joins us on the line from Argot Studios in New York, and takes listener calls, emails and tweets.

  

The headlines this week have been dominated by the impending release of a memo prepared by staffers for Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee.  The FBI and the Justice Department are strongly opposed to making the memo public. President Trump is eager to have it released.  Devon Nunes, the Committee chair, also wants it made public, despite refusing to share it with his counterpart, Richard Burr, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign

This comes after news that Robert Mueller is negotiating with the President’s lawyers to interview the President in connection with his investigation.

In an 80-minute State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, the President touched on a long list of issues, including trade.  A little later in the News Wrap, we’ll talk about the future prospects for NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and other economic issues, with Don Lee, who covers economic developments for the LA Times.

But first, we begin with David Smith, the Washington bureau chief for the Guardian.  He joins us from NPR studios in Washington, DC.  

Photo by Stan Barouh.

Everyman Theatre’s new production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Eugene O’Neill’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning masterpiece (premiered posthumously in 1956), begins on a bright summer day in the Connecticut home of the Tyrone family.  But the play soon sweeps us into an emotionally tortuous night in which the family begins to confront long-buried secrets of drug addiction and dysfunction, and then struggles, despite their love for each other, to cope with the truth.

Joining Tom in the studio to discuss the challenges of bringing this play’s characters and its powerful themes to life, is Everyman resident company actor Deborah Hazlett, who plays the drug-addicted matriarch, Mary Tyrone; and Jonathan K. Waller, Everyman’s managing director.  They explore how O’Neill’s dark classic seems especially resonant today, as an epidemic of opioid addiction and abuse tears at the fabric of millions of American families, here in Baltimore and across the country, and how the company is reaching out to address that issue with its audiences and the wider community.

Long Day's Journey Into Night, directed by Donald Hickencontinues at the Everyman Theatre through March 4.

Photo courtesy 20th Century FOX.

It's another edition of Midday at the Movies, our monthly get-together with Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday and the Maryland Film Festival's founding director, Jed Dietz, who's just back from the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. 

They join Tom in Studio A with a report on the mood at Sundance, as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements continue to be a force at festivals and awards ceremonies.

With the March 4  Oscars ceremony a little more than a month away, our movie mavens also talk about which films live-up to their pre-Oscar hype, and whether or not the organization that awards the Oscars --the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences -- has yet become as inclusive as the industry it represents. 

Photo by Joan Marcus

It's Thursday again, so it's time for the weekly review from our peripatetic theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck. This week, she spotlights Waitress, the new touring production of the hit Broadway musical, that's now on stage at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre.

Based on the popular 2007 movie of the same name, the musical stage version of Waitress is energized by an all-female creative team, with original music and lyrics by 5-time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles, book by screenwriter Jessie Nelson and direction by Tony Award laureate Diane Paulus.

Waitress tells the story of Jenna (Desi Oakley) - a pregnant waitress and a gifted pie maker who dreams of escaping from her small-town and a loveless, stifling marriage. Her hopes for a happier life are stirred by a baking contest in a nearby county, the arrival of the town's new doctor (Bryan Fenkhart), and the encouragements of her fellow waitresses (Charity Angel Dawson and Lenne Klingaman). 

Waitress continues at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre until Sunday, February 4.  Ticket info here.

In a speech that was Bill Clinton-esque in its length, President Donald Trump called for unity and outlined his vision for a “safe, strong and proud America.”  Touching on many themes he embraced during his campaign, Trump took an hour and 20 minutes to take credit for a booming stock market and low unemployment.  He declared that the war on American energy was over, that the veterans administration has been denuded of 1,500 nefarious employees, that he has protected the Second Amendment, and that we are in a, quote, “new American moment.” 

There were many moments in the speech which did not seem particularly new.  He went to great lengths to associate undocumented immigrants with gangs and violent crime.  He introduced a 12 year old boy by way of condemning NFL protests against police misconduct, and he called for expanding the American nuclear arsenal. 

But as the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib observes, Trump, in an unusual posture, took a stab at somewhat optimistic rhetorical turns of phrase, saying that we are, quote “rediscovering the American way.”  This was notable given the fact that the premise of his campaign was that America was a mess in need of being made great again. 

We speak with Michael Barone, the senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics; and Christine Emba, a columnist and editor with the Washington Post.

Ira Aldridge was 17 years old when he left his father’s home to pursue his dream of becoming a professional actor in England. Born in New York in 1807, Aldridge grew up during a time when chattel slavery was legal, and black actors who performed works associated with Anglo culture were usually subjected to harsh criticism, and sometimes violence.  But Aldridge would go on to become one of the most celebrated actors in the world.  

Red Velvet is an award-winning play written in 2012 by British playwright, producer and stage actress Lolita Chakrabarti. It tells the story of Aldridge's 1833 London performance as Shakespeare's Othello that transformed him into an international star of the theater, and a seminal figure in the narrative of African American achievement.  Now, Baltimore's Chesapeake Shakespeare Company is giving the play its long-awaited Baltimore premiere, after critically acclaimed productions in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and London.

Shirley Basfield Dunlap is directing the company's new production of Red Velvet.  She's an associate professor in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, and Coordinator of Theater Arts at Morgan State University.  She joins Tom in Studio A to talk about this remarkable play, and its even more remarkable subject. 

Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s production of Red Velvet continues through Sunday, February 25th.  The run includes free public events in the community made possible by partnerships with the arts and culture community of Baltimore.  For more information, click the link below:

 https://docs.google.com/document/d/1T-dxzeLaONAuOEfWTBFHAwi5K-eTOyDsLpZ82nzbRFM/edit?usp=sharing

Photo courtesy mrs.sog.unc.edu

Today, another edition of the Midday Healthwatch with Dr. Leana Wen, the Health Commissioner of Baltimore City.  Lawmakers in Annapolis and Washington are wrestling with competing views on prescription drug affordability, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, legislation to stem the rising tide of opioid addiction, and changes to the Affordable Care Act, among other issues. 

What are the feds and the state willing to do to help cities like Baltimore, who are strapped for cash, and who have no shortage of people in need?

And with influenza season in full swing, what can you do to protect yourself and the ones you love, particularly children and the elderly, who are most at risk for a disease that can be fatal?

Baltimore's Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen spends the hour discussing how the city is responding to its most pressing public health concerns, and answering your questions and comments.

Backbone Campaign/Flickr Creative Commons

Last month, Ajit Pai, the Trump-appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, made good on a promise to repeal Obama- era regulations that governed the internet.  By a vote of 3-2, the commission ended regulations that required Internet Service Providers to treat all content the same. Before, ISPs couldn’t pick and choose which content loaded fast and which loaded more slowly, or not at all, nor could they charge a premium for faster service.

Why is this important? 

Midday's guests today have given this subject a lot of thought. Deb Tillett joins Tom Hall in Studio A. She’s the executive director of the Emerging Technologies Center, an incubator for tech startups here in Baltimore. 

Brandi Collins is the Senior Campaign Director for Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization.  She oversees that organization’s Media, Democracy and Economic Justice department.  She’s on the line from Oakland, California.

Ritu Agarwal is a professor, senior associate dean for research, and the Dean’s Chair of Information Systems at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business.  She is also the founder and director of the school’s Center for Health Information and Decision Systems.  She joins us from her office in College Park.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

On today's Midday NewsWrap, Tom begins with a review of some of the week's major national and international developments, from President Trump's "America First" speech this morning to the World Economic Forum in Davos, to the bombshell New York Times report that the President ordered  the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller last June, but then backed off.  Tom is joined on the line by journalists Ron Elving --Senior editor and correspondent on the Washington Desk at NPR News -- and Karoun Demirjian, defense and foreign policy correspondent for the Washington Post.

Then, we switch gears and focus on the week's top local news, from Mayor Pugh's shakeup of the city's police department and the continuing mystery surrounding Detective Suiter's violent death...to why Baltimore lost its bid for Amazon's coveted HQ2 . Tom is joined in the studio by Andy Green, Opinion Editor at the Baltimore Sun, and community activist Bishop Douglas Miles, pastor of the Koinonia Baptist Church and Co-founder Emeritus of BUILD (Baltimorians United In Leadership Development).

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