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Midday

photo courtesy Comstock-Fasano

A little touch of Broadway comes to Baltimore tonight when the acclaimed New York cabaret team, Eric Comstock and Barbara Fasano, return to Germano’s Piattini in Little Italy.  They’ll present a show called Downton Abbey Road: The Best of Britain  

Known for their imaginative interpretations of the American Songbook as well as more contemporary fare, Comstock and Fasano are award-winning artists who are regulars on the New York circuit, as well as in venues around the country.  Today, they join Tom in Studio A. We'll hear some recent recordings, and talk about their new show and their storied career as married musical partners.

Photo courtesy of Monica Reinagel

It's another edition of Smart Nutrition, our regular series of bi-monthly conversations with the Nutrition Diva, Monica Reinagel.  Today, she and Tom talk about whether there's any such thing as a "disease proof" diet. 

We’ve all heard the expression: we are what we eat. Study after study suggests that if people would only eat more of this and less of that, they would be less likely to develop cancer, diabetes or heart disease. But what if someone eats all the right things but still develops cancer? If people make good food choices – if people eat leafy greens and we avoid processed sugar and trans fat - can people actually “disease-proof” themselves? There are plenty of books in which authors claim just that. There are titles like "The Breast Cancer Prevention Diet", "The MIND Diet", "The Fertility Diet"; there’s even one called, "Disease Proof."  The Nutrition Diva helps us sort the facts from the fiction.

Monica Reinagel is an author and a licensed nutritionist who joins us on Midday every other month. Follow her blog at nutritionovereasy.com.

Photo by A. Mains

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom for her weekly review of one of the region's thespian offerings.  

Today, she spotlights Fallout, the play by Laura King that's being staged by Baltimore's Vagabond Players as part of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival.  It's directed by Audra Mains Mullen, and stars Gareth Kelly as David and Ryan Gunning as Anna, two strangers with issues, who seek refuge from an unknown menace in a fallout shelter, a relic of the nuclear holocaust paranoia that raged during the Cold War.  In the tight confines of the shelter, Anna and David wrestle with their inner demons, even as they deal with their terror of what lurks outside.

The Vagabond Players' production of Fallout -- one of just two plays to be fully-staged in this year's Baltimore Playwrights Festival -- runs through Sunday, July 30.  Special Thursday show July 27, 8 pm; Friday and Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm.

The Vagabond Players is located at 806 South Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231.
Tickets can be purchased here.

Eighteen years ago, the state of Maryland deregulated its electricity market with the idea that a free market would give consumers cheaper rates. This has since led to the proliferation of retail electricity suppliers competing for the attention and affection of consumers. With renewable energy production currently on the rise, these suppliers have also been touting what they call “green electricity” plans.

Have consumers made the switch toward these alternative energy plans? Has deregulation delivered on the promise of lowering prices?

Joining Tom in the studio to help us answer these questions is Kent Mottice, Energy Policy Manager at the Maryland Energy Administration, the state agency whose mission is "to promote affordable, reliable and cleaner energy for the benefit of all Marylanders."

With us on the line from DC is Tim Brennan, a professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where he teaches Economics and Public Policy. He’s also a senior fellow at Resources for the Future, an organization that conducts economic research on environmental policy. And on the line from Pacifica affiliate KPFT in Houston is Ryan Handy. She covers the regulation of public utilities and the oil and gas industry as energy reporter for the Houston Chronicle.

Macmillan Publishers

Today, a conversation about criminal profiling and how it came to be standard procedure in police investigations.  Today, we take it for granted that when crimes occur, particularly serial crimes - think Ted Kaczyinski or David Berkowitz or Jeffrey Dahmer - that police will consult with experts who are able to provide a likely profile of these perpetrators so police can figure out who and where they are.

Courtesy of Medscape

It’s another edition of Healthwatch, our monthly conversations with Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen.  She and Tom discuss a wide range of public health issues, from the weekend’s dangerous heat to the hot drama on Capitol Hill as Senate Republicans continue their struggle to repeal Obamacare. They also talk about White House plans to cut essential public health budgets, and about new state funds for a city program promoting healthier food options in the city's corner food stores. And Dr. Wen has the latest on the continuing threat of the mosquito-borne Zika virus -- remember the Zika virus?

Photo courtesy WBUR

It's the Midday News Wrap, with guest host Nathan Sterner sitting in for Tom Hall.  Among the stories Nathan spotlights in this week's review: the drama of competing healthcare bills, the wrangling and chaos within the Republican Party, and the still-unfolding puzzle of possible Russian ties to President Trump's inner circle.

 Early in the week, Senate Republicans lacked the votes for their latest proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act.  By Tuesday, President Trump announced, “We’ll let Obamacare fail.”  The confusion deepened later in the week with proposals to Repeal without Replace and Repeal with Delayed Replace.

Also this week, there was the drip, drip of revelations about exactly who else was in the room in June of 2016 when Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chief at the time, attended a meeting where they were promised Russian government help for their campaign and some dirt about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.  Then on Thursday came the announcement that Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort have all agreed to appear before Senate committees next week to discuss Russia and the 2016 election.

Andy Green, Editorial Page editor of the Baltimore Sun, and Richard Cross, a longtime Republican communications staffer in both Annapolis and Capitol Hill, are here with background and analysis on the week's developments.

But first, Julie Rovner is on the line from DC to help us make sense of the week’s healthcare news.  Rovner is chief Washington correspondent for Kaiser Health News, where she is the Robin Toner Distinguished Fellow.  If her voice is familiar to you, that’s because Rovner was a health policy reporter for NPR for 16 years before joining KHN.  She is the author of the book “Health Care Politics and Policy A-Z,” now in its third edition.  

Public Domain

Roughly a fifth of the US population – and a third of the under-30 crowd – say they have become disaffected with traditional religious institutions and they’re telling pollsters that they don’t identify with any particular church or religious faith.

They‘re called "nones" -- as in "none of the above," but most say they still believe in God. So why are growing numbers of Americans turning away from the traditional church, synagogue, and mosque? And what are they looking for? Senior Producer Rob Sivak sits in for Tom Hall as host of today's edition of Living Questions, our monthly series examining the role of religion in the public sphere, produced in collaboration with The Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies.

Joining Rob in Studio A are the Reverend Joseph Wood, assistant rector at Baltimore's Emmanuel Episcopal Church;  Joshua Sherman, program associate at Repair the World at Jewish Volunteer Connection;  and Terrell Williams, associate organizer for Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD).  Alan Cooperman, Director of Religion Research at the Pew Research Center and the author of its 2012 report, Nones on the Rise, joins us on the line from Pew headquarters in Washington D.C.

Spotlighters Theatre / Shealyn Jae Photography

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Senior Producer Rob Sivak in the studio today with her review of the musical Spring Awakening, produced by the Spotlighters Theatre.   It tells the story of a group of 19th century German teenagers trying to discover more about one another and themselves, under the intense scrutiny and repressive control of the adults in their lives.

Television Academy

The Emmy nominations are in. Saturday Night Live and HBO’s Westworld racked up 22 nominations a piece, while other popular newcomers like HBO’s Insecure were left off the list. With so many high quality options for viewers on television and on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, are we entering a golden age of television?  The Emmy awards will air in September, today Bridget Armstrong, sitting in for Tom Hall, dishes about the television hits and misses of the season with her TV-talking partner, WYPR digital producer Jamyla Krempel

Radha Blank also joins the conversation. She’s a playwright, performer and screenwriter. She's written for Empire on Fox, Netflix’s The Get Down and most recently she worked as a writer and co-producer for Spike Lee’s latest series She's Gotta Have It which premieres on Netflix this Thanksgiving.

Courtesy Washington Post

We have seen the videos from cell phones, surveillance footage and police cameras. In the moments before and sometimes after police shootings of black people, it sounds like the police and the black people are speaking from completely different social realities. The shootings are the horrific tip of an iceberg. According to a GenForward survey done by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago, two-thirds of African-Americans under the age of 30 say they or someone they know has experienced violence or harassment at the hands of the police. Twenty-four percent of black men between 18 and 34 report that they have been mistreated by the police in the last 30 days, according to a Gallup poll

Courtesy of Reuters

Today, we examine the realities of being an immigrant in Baltimore in the Trump Era.  President Trump has called for the immediate deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, commonly known as illegal aliens.  Mr. Trump and his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, have made immigration enforcement a priority. Plans continue for a wall of unprecedented scale all along the U.S.-Mexico border.  And the Department of Justice has threatened to withhold federal funds from so-called "sanctuary cities" -- municipalities where local police authorities do not check the immigration status of people who are stopped for other reasons, or who are seeking public services.

Getty

On this Fête Nationale in France, President Trump has completed a quick trip to Paris where he visited Napoleon’s tomb, dined at the Eiffel Tower, viewed a military parade on the Champs Élysées, and got to know his younger French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, a little better.

He made inappropriate remarks about the body of the first lady of France, but gone were disparaging remarks about how no one was going to visit Paris anymore. He promised to return, and Macron assured Mr. Trump that he was welcome any time.

The Hill

This is a special edition of Midday as NPR prepares to air live coverage of the news conference in Paris with President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron. 

Trump is sure to face questions about Russia and its meddling in the 2016 Presidential election. He has been largely out of the public eye since the release of his eldest son’s now famous emails. The scope of Russia investigations in the House, the Senate, and with the special counsel continues to expand.

Courtesy Jaclyn Borowski / Baltimore Business Journal

Cities from Tallahassee to Spokane have implemented comprehensive networks of protected bike lanes on major city streets. Baltimore City has been steadily following suit, though not without controversy.

Baltimore City recently installed semi-protected bike lanes on several major roads throughout the city, most recently on Maryland Avenue, Roland Avenue, and Potomac Street. Immediately after the construction of the Potomac Street lane in Canton, nearby residents began to register their complaints, primarily about limited options for parking. However, it wasn’t until the Baltimore City Fire Department assessed that the road was too narrow for emergency vehicles to pass that Mayor Pugh decided to take action.

Penguin Random House

“Do Black Lives Matter to the Courts?” It’s a question raised time and time again when unarmed black men are killed by police and the officers are either not indicted, or not convicted. It’s a question raised by NAACP Legal Defense Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill in a new collection of essays called Policing the Black Man: Arrest Prosecution and Imprisonment.

Professor Angela J. Davis is the editor of Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution and Imprisonment. She's a law professor at American University's Washington College of Law. She's also the author of several books including Arbitrary Justice: The Power of the American Prosecutor.

Sherrilyn Ifill is the President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She  co-wrote the essay in Policing the Black Man with her colleague Jin Hee Lee "Do Black Lives Matter to the Courts?" Sherrilyn is the author of On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century

courtesy Keith Allison via Creative Commons

Cal Ripken and Lou Gehrig are forever linked in history as the two great “iron men” of baseball.  For decades, Gehrig’s record of 2,130 consecutive games-played seemed an insurmountable mark until Cal Ripken met it, and surpassed it by more than 500 games. 

By the time Ripken retired in 2001 the age of 40, he and Gehrig were the only two of 17,000 players in the major leagues who had played more than 2,000 games in a row. 

The history of their amazing achievement is chronicled in a new book The Streak: Lou Gehrig, Cal Ripken, and Baseball's Most Historic Record by Baltimore sportswriter John Eisenberg, who fills his account with stories not only of Ripken and Gehrig, but of the other ironmen who endured injuries and the vagaries of managers to make their marks as tenacious, every-day players. 

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Today, all eyes are on Hamburg Germany, the site of the G-20 summit, where about three hours ago, Donald Trump met Vladimir Putin for the first time as President. The meeting takes place as North Korea continues its sword rattling, the Syrian conflict continues to displace and kill thousands, big policy differences between the US and other G-20 members in areas like climate change are once again laid bare, and new economic agreements that exclude the US are taking shape.

On today's edition of Midday at the Movies, our monthly conversation with Jed Dietz, founding director of of the Maryland Film Festival, and Ann Hornaday, film critic for the Washington Post, Tom and our movie mavens will be talking about Ann’s new book: Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies.

In this veteran film reviewer's guide, Hornaday suggests that the best movies let us grapple with tough questions, reflect on cherished ideals, experience the world from another point of view, and know the joy of authentic human connection. So, how do you know you've seen a great movie? By examining the various aspects of filmmaking -- writing, acting, directing, cinematography, editing and sound -- Ann explains the ways that great filmmakers have produced work that resonates with audiences across generations.

Photo by Robert Neal Marshall

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio each Thursday with her weekly reviews of the region's thespian offerings.  This week, she critiques the new production of The Tempest from the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company

Today, we’re talking sports.  In May, the Baltimore Orioles had the best record in baseball.  In June, they broke a record by allowing 5 or more runs in 16 consecutive games.   They lost last night in Milwaukee.  They will send only one player to the All Star game next week, second baseman Jonathan Schoop.

As concerns grow about the catastrophic and often fatal consequences of concussive brain injuries in professional football players, some prominent voices are calling for an end to tackling in youth leagues, until players are at least 14. 

And on the basketball front, more than half of the players in the first round of the NBA draft were college players who played only one year.  That’s more Freshman than ever before who went pro.  We’ll talk about possible changes to NBA policy affecting what age young players will need to be in order to qualify for the league. 

Dr. Terry Anne Scott, an assistant professor of history at Hood College, is in the studio.  She’s currently working on a book about basketball legend Lenny Wilkens, among other projects.

Milton Kent joins us as well.  He’s the host of Sports at Large here on WYPR; he also serves on the faculty of the School of Global Journalism and Communication at Morgan State University.

And our longtime sports guru Mark Hyman is here too.  He’s on the faculty of George Washington University in their Sports Management program, and the author of a bunch of books, including Concussions and Our Kids:  America’s Leading Expert on How to Protect Young Athletes and Keep Sports Safe, which he co-authored with Dr. Robert Cantu.

Sheri Parks/D.Watkins

This program originally aired on May 2, 2017. 

Today another installment of Culture Connections with Dr. Sheri Parks of the University of Maryland. Author D. Watkins joins as we continue to reflect on the 2015 Uprising sparked by the death of Freddie Gray. D. co-hosts Undisclosed, a podcast that re-examines Freddie Gray’s death. 

This program was originally broadcast May 9, 2017.

Today, a discussion about what we might call the privacy paradox. We say one thing when it comes to online privacy, but many of us act in decidedly un-private ways when we’re on the internet. What do we mean by that? We often say that we don’t want to be spied on -- by big government or by big data, the companies that collect and sell information about every place we go online. But our behavior suggests that we don't really care about our privacy as much as we say we do.   We post all sorts of intimate details about our lives and our families. We voluntarily allow apps to know exactly where we are at all times. That information is valuable to all sorts of companies, and sometimes to certain government agencies. Do we, perhaps, care about privacy in some abstract way -- but not enough to behave online in a way that would keep our information more secure?  And if we say we value privacy, are we, as a society, able to articulate what’s wrong with losing privacy? Joining Tom at the top of the show today is Firmin DeBrander, a professor and philosopher who has thought a great deal about our relationship with online privacy and why privacy matters.  DeBrabander is an associate professor of philosophy at MICA here in Baltimore, where he has taught since 2005.  He is the author, most recently of the book, “Do Guns Make Us Free?”  He is working on a book about privacy, and an article that he wrote recently on the subject caught our eye, so we asked him to stop by Studio A to tell us more.

courtesy CNN Photo

When Senate Republicans unveiled their health care bill a little more than a week ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it would be voted on this week -- before Congress’s July 4 recess.  But, on Tuesday of this week, McConnell, realizing he didn’t have the 50 votes needed to pass the bill, pulled the plug on the vote.  What’s next for the bill that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would result in 23 million more people without health insurance in the next decade?   

Also this week, the President’s Travel Ban is back, in part. The Supreme Court announced that it will hear arguments next fall regarding lower court decisions that stayed the President’s executive order: And that parts of President’ Trump’s revised travel ban could be enforced.

The Trump administration made further claims about fake news this week.  

We’ll take on these stories and others this week on the Midday News Wrap:  Tom is joined  in the studio by AP White House correspondent Julie Bykowicz and, on the line from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, by Dr. Carol Anderson, the Chair of African American Studies at Emory and author of the NYT best-selling book “White Rage.”   

Photo by Dietmar Lipkovich

 

The members of Insingizi, a Zimbabwean musical trio, join Tom in Studio A. They specialize in performing inspiring concerts full of harmonious singing, call-and-response chanting, hand percussion and energetic choreography. The ensemble is stopping in the Baltimore area for the free Patterson Park Summer Series, at which they will perform this Sunday at 6:30 p.m., as well as in Washington, D.C. for Serenade: A JFK 100 Celebration, before making their way to Germany later in July. 

 Today, they join Tom in studio to offer a little preview of what’s to come this weekend.  Members Dumisani “Rama” Moyo and “Blessings” Nqo Nkomo are here with de facto leader of the ensemble, Vusa Mkhaya. Their performance today features “Boom Boom Jeys” (working translation: “It is important to know who we are and where we come from, so that we know where we are going”),  and the South African hymn “Siyahamba” (Zulu for “We Are Marching”), which closes out the show. 

Jeremy Daniel

Thursdays are for theater here at Midday, and theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck is here as always to review a local production. This week, she's discussing "Finding Neverland" at the Hippodrome Theatre. Directed by Tony Award winner Diane Paulus, "Finding Neverland" delves into the life of J.M. Barrie, the creator of one of the world's most beloved stories, Peter Pan. Barrie's relentless battle to find inspiration for a new play leads him to a single mother and her four children, whose imaginative spirits shape Barrie's stories and awaken his inner child.

"Finding Neverland" runs at the Hippodrome through July 2, 2017. 

Courtesy Penguin Random House

Today, Tom is joined by writer Daniel Mark Epstein for a discussion of his latest book, The Loyal Son: The War in Ben Franklin’s House.

Epstein is a prize-winning poet, playwright and biographer whose writing career spans nearly 50 years.  In addition to his nine books of poetry, he has written several plays plus acclaimed biographies of an eclectic group of historic figures including Aimee Semple McPherson, Nat King Cole, Bob Dylan, and Abraham Lincoln.

His new book examines the complex relationship between Ben Franklin and his only son, William. Benjamin Franklin was one of the most revered Founding Fathers of the country and an aid in drafting both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; William Franklin, however, remained loyal to the British crown throughout and after the revolutionary war. The Loyal Son is a fascinating read about the turmoil within one prominent family during the struggle for American independence. Epstein makes use of previously unknown source material to place a saga of loves won and lost, illegitimate children, and family intrigue in the context of our nascent country’s formative first years.

Daniel Mark Epstein will be reading from his book  tonight at the Ivy Bookshop in North Baltimore at 7pm.

Photo courtesy Creative Commons

There's no shortage of think pieces exploring the ways Millennials, that is - folks born between 1981 and 1996, differ from older generations. Those pieces often paint a picture of a generation of entitled, lazy, participation trophy babies, but some experts say that perception is wrong and informed by our society's misunderstanding of Millennials and their relationships to technology. 

Courtesy AP Photo

The Senate version of healthcare legislation is the topic on most people’s minds on Capitol Hill. Senate leadership wants to replace the Affordable Care Act with The Better Care Reconciliation Act.  As of this moment, passage of the Senate health care bill appears somewhat in doubt. Yesterday’s CBO score, and a chorus of critics, say the Senate bill will cause at least 15 million Americans to lose their health insurance by next year. It remains to be seen what effect passing the bill would have on patients, doctors, hospitals, insurers, and public health agencies, although there are plenty of people from each of those groups who have criticized McConnell’s “discussion draft” of the bill.

On today’s edition of Healthwatch, our monthly conversation about health and well-being in Baltimore with Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen, we’ll talk about the impact the Senate bill might have on our city’s most vulnerable populations, and the ongoing fight to quell the growing opioid epidemic. 

Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Last month, the Sinclair Broadcasting Group purchased dozens of TV stations from Tribune Media in a $3.9 billion deal. Based in Hunt Valley, Sinclair operates over 200 local television stations across the country. With their latest acquisition, Sinclair now holds stations in seven of the nation’s 10 biggest markets. The owners of Sinclair appear to lean conservative, as evidenced by the station’s robust and unchecked broadcasts of Donald Trump’s interviews throughout his presidential campaign. Sinclair’s conservative slant has left Washington insiders wondering whether Sinclair is trying to give Fox News a run for its money.

Tom is joined by David Folkenflik, the media correspondent for NPR and author of Murdoch's World: The Last of the Old Media Empires; and Hadas Gold, a reporter covering media and politics for POLITICO. 

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