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Midday

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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