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U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D) joins host Tom Hall for the hour. Maryland’s senior senator is a member of the Senate Finance Committee. He is also the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senate Republicans are confident that their tax bill will be approved this week. With so much attention on the tax bill, it’s easy to overlook other major stories, such as: Without a Continuing Resolution by Friday at midnight, the government will shut down. Last week, the White House and the State Department sent conflicting signals about conditions for talks with North Korea.  And, the President’s declaration that the embassy in Israel would be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has engendered a storm of criticism. 

Tom asks Sen. Cardin about these crucial issues and more. And the senator answers listener questions. 

University of Maryland Medical System

Asthma makes it difficult for thousands of Baltimoreans to breathe. Decrepit houses, trash and rodents can trigger asthma flare-ups. Would cleaning up poor housing cost less than frequent trips to the ER? A reporting partnership between Kaiser Health News and the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service looked deeply at where asthma flares up in Baltimore and what hospitals are doing about it.

We hear from Kaiser Health News’ senior correspondent Jay Hancock, and from one of the Capital News Service journalists who took part in that project--now a reporter for The Baltimore Sun--Talia Richardson.

Plus, the Breathmobile is run by the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. We speak to Dr. Mary Beth Bollinger, professor pediatrics, is the Breathmobile’s co-founder, and medical director.

More information at these links:

Kaiser Health News story - Hospitals Find Asthma Hot Spots More Profitable to Neglect Than Fix

Capital News Service package of asthma stories - Home Sick

A new report from the Environmental Integrity Project and the Abell Foundation documents stark difference in asthma hospitalization rates in rich versus poor neighborhoods in Baltimore, and reveals a dramatic drop in the far southern part of the city after a pair of nearby coal-fired power plants installed air pollution control devices in 2009. Asthma hospitalization rates in the zip codes for the Cherry Hill, Brooklyn, and Curtis Bay neighborhoods fell 57 percent between 2009 and 2013 – more than twice the drop citywide. 

Photo by Kathleen Cahill

Today on Midday: Helicon, the renowned traditional music trio is here.

Tomorrow they continue a great Baltimore holiday tradition with their 32nd annual Winter Solstice Concerts  at Goucher College’s Kraushaar Auditorium.

Helicon will be joined tomorrow by Charm City Junction and other performers, including the North American Step Dance champion Jonathan Srour.

Today, we’re keeping up a tradition of our own. For the many years, Helicon has treated us to a preview of their Winter Solstice concert here in Studio A.

Helicon’s Chris Norman plays wooden flutes and small bagpipes. Robin Bullock plays guitar, cittern, and mandolin, and Ken Kolodner plays hammered dulcimer and fiddle. Also here, from Charm City Junction: Brad Kolodner and Patrick McAvinue, the 2017 International Bluegrass Musician Association Fiddler of the Year.  The great old-time musician and vocalist Rachel Eddy is also here. They’ll all be performing at the two Winter Solstice concerts tomorrow, at 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm. Click here for tickets. 

Joan Gaither

Warm, cozy--and able to tell a story. We talk with artist and Baltimore native, Joan Gaither, who uses quilts to preserve and document American history. Her quilts are covered with beads, buttons, photos and fabrics of all colors. Now her quilts are on display at the Reginald F Lewis Museum in an exhibit called, “Freedom: Emancipation Quilted & Stitched”. Gaither describes putting her heart, soul, and identity into her quilts: It’s On the Record, after the news.

Ivy Bookshop

We revisit a conversation from July, 2013, with journalist Simeon Saunders Booker Jr. , who chronicled the Civil Rights movement for Jet and Ebony magazines. He died Dec. 10, 2017, at age 99. When he was 95, with his wife Carol McCabe Booker, he published a memoir called, Shocking the Conscience: A Reporter's Account of the Civil Rights Movement. (A warning: in recounting his travel through the South Booker used a racial slur. We have not censored it.) You can read his NYT obituary here and AFRO obituary here.

Shaé McCoy of Coyophotos

Welcome to another edition of Living Questions, a monthly series we've been producing in collaboration with the Institute for Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Studies  (ICJS), exploring the role of religion in the public sphere.  Today we'll meet three young African-American women with a decidedly spiritual agenda: bringing their conversations about faith, friendship and racial identity in a podcast called “For Collard Girls.” (Think collard greens and pastoral collars.)

Connecting with religious women of color, using touchstones of hip-hop culture, poetry, and biblical interpretation, their frank conversations about faith guide listeners along their spiritual paths. 

Joining Tom in the studio to talk about their project are podcasters Laura Kigweba James, the recently-appointed pastor at the Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church here in Baltimore;  Tamika Young Savage, a seminarian studying to obtain her Master of Divinity degree at United Lutheran Seminary in Pennsylvania, who is also a Vicar of Christ Lutheran Church in DC; and Maya Camille, aka Camilla the Killa, a Baltimore-based poet and spoken word artist whose writing addresses aspects of the spiritual in our lives; Maya also works with Baltimore's S.A.N.D. Gallery, an exhibition and event space whose name stands for "Sell Art, Not Drugs."

Amit Peled

Dedication and hard work really can make childhood dreams come true. We meet international musician Amit Peled. He plays the cello once owned by Pablo Casals, the renowned musician who inspired him as a boy. The book, “A Cello Named Pablo,” tells the story, urging children to pursue their dreams. Then we visit Peled at his studio to learn what it’s like to teach and study at the world famous Johns Hopkins Peabody Institute. Information about the book release and free concert on Dec. 17, 2017 at An Die Musik can be found here.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Democrat Doug Jones narrowly defeated Republican Roy Moore in a surprising upset for the open Alabama Senate Seat. It is the first time a Democrat has won the seat in 25 years. Today on Midday, reaction from Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) who heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. 

Black voters turned out in record numbers and overwhelmingly supported Doug Jones, while a majority of white voters stuck with Moore, despite allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls as young as 14. Georgetown University Law Professor Paul Butler joins Tom to analyze the results and answer the question; has the Trump tide begun to turn? 

Paul Butler is a former federal prosecutor. He teaches law at Georgetown University, but this year, he’s a visiting professor at his alma mater, Harvard Law School. His most recent book is titled Chokehold: Policing Black Men – A Renegade Prosecutor’s Radical Thoughts on How to Disrupt the System

 

Now we turn to a Soulful Rock and Roll tribute to the legendary Jimi Hendrix. This Saturday at the Creative Alliance acclaimed soul singer Navasha Daya will headline a benefit concert honoring the rock and roll icon. The proceeds from the concert go to the Youth Resiliency Institute's Baltimore Guitarists Against Violence program which provides opportunities for students who are interested in guitar to perform, connect with professionals and even record. 

Navasha Daya is a soul singer, cultural arts activist and Co- Founder and Director of Healing and Performing Arts for the Youth Resiliency Institute.

When he first started at Field and Stream, Bill Heavey realized the realm of outdoor writing was overpopulated with experts. What they needed was an amateur, up for any adventure and ready to fail spectacularly. To fill that niche, Heavey has gone deer-hunting in the woods of Kentucky, snowmobiling in the bush of eastern Alaska, and cross-country-skiing in the wilderness of Ontario. He tells about his love for nature, coaxing his daughter to join him outdoors, rethinking what it means to shoot a deer, and his new book, “Should the Tent Be Burning Like That?"

Photos courtesy State delegates offices

The MD General Assembly will convene for the 2018 Session in a little less than a month, on January 10th.  By the time that sine die rolls around in April, lawmakers will have considered hundreds of bills, and will have jockeyed for position on any number of important bills that will compete for the attention of their fellow legislators, leadership and their constituents. 

The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland will be rolling out their priority agenda for the upcoming Maryland General Assembly session, reviewing policy and pushing for legislation that will champion issues impacting black communities in Baltimore and across the state.  

Today, we are joined in studio by three of 51 members of the MD Legislative Black Caucus, who represent the Baltimore area. 

Del. Cheryl Glenn is the chair of the caucus.  She represents the 45th District, here in Baltimore City.  

Del. Curt Anderson serves as Chair of the Baltimore City House Delegation.  Representative of the 43rd Legislative District. 

And Del. Benjamin Brooks, Sr. joins us as well.  He represents the 10th district in Baltimore County.  He was elected in 2015.  He also serves as a Deputy Majority Whip, and a member of the Economic Matters Committee. 

Open Society Institute Baltimore

Living in a food desert -- where fresh, healthy food is not easily accessible -- is reality for one in four Baltimore City residents. We meet Eric Jackson, of the Black Yield Institute, who is working to combat what he calls ‘food apartheid.’  Jackson is a 2017 Open Society Institute Baltimore fellow; he’ll receive $60,000 over the next 18 months to create the ‘Building Black Land and Food Sovereignty Practice.’ Working in the Cherry Hill and Poppleton neighborhoods, Jackson intends to organize community-driven cooperative food ventures to create access to nutritious, affordable foods. We also meet Faith Cunningham, a resident of Cherry Hill, to learn what her grocery options really look like and why she's willing to travel to find healthier foods.

Briaising

Dec 11, 2017
Isaac Wedin/flickr

This week offers a step-by-step guide to selecting product, using the right amount of care, and choosing the right wine. Plus, an interesting Chef's Challenge! 

Jad Limcaco/Unsplash

Along with all the holly and jolly and red and green, for many, this time of year comes with a good bit of holiday blues. The stress that holiday expectations can bring, lead lots of folks to feel depressed, despite the seasonal good cheer that swirls around them.  Today on Midday, ways to cope with grief, depression, and anxiety during the holidays. 

Annette March Grier is a registered nurse and the President and Co-Founder of Roberta’s House, a grief support center in Baltimore. In 2014 she was honored as a CNN Hero for her work.    

BHLI

Half of people behind bars suffer from addiction, an illness that may be the cause of their legal troubles. We look at two efforts to connect those in jail -- or on their way out -- to treatment.

In Washington County, nonviolent offenders can transition from jail to home detention, and receive addiction treatment in the form of a monthly shot. We speak to Rebecca Hogamier, director of the Washington County Sheriff's Office's Day Reporting Center.

And outside the Baltimore City Detention Center, a mobile clinic awaits the newly released. We speak to Deborah Agus, director of the nonprofit Behavioral Health Leadership Institute, and peer advocate William "JR" Jones.

On this week's edition of the Midday NewsWrap: a federal government shutdown averted for two whole weeks; the Mueller investigation turns to President Trump’s borrowing history; Donald Trump Jr. invokes attorney-client privilege in testimony to Congress, and Roy Moore is far from being kicked out of the special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Also, former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager is sentenced to 20 years for the killing of Walter Scott.  And the killing of Detective Sean Suiter here in Baltimore more than three weeks ago remains unsolved.  The FBI has been asked to take over the investigation.  No word back from them yet. 

Joining Tom in Studio A to discuss this week's news is Alec MacGillis, politics and government reporter for Pro Publica and a Robin Toner Prize-winner for excellence in political reporting.

But we begin with President Trump's announcement Wednesday that he has ordered the U.S. Embassy in Israel to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem -- a city claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians as their capital, and whose status was to have been decided in a final Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.  For an analysis of what Trump's controversial order could mean for such an agreement -- and for the wider Mideast peace -- Tom speaks with Phyllis Bennis, the director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. She joins us on the line from her office in Washington, DC.

Sinking Ship Productions

Actor Jonathan Levin and playwright Josh Luxenberg, ​a Baltimore native,  join us to talk about their new play, A Hunger Artistwhich opens at Baltimore Theatre Project next week after acclaimed runs Off-Broadway in New York and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.

A Hunger Artist,  which is based on the Franz Kafka short story of the same name, uses physical theater, Victorian miniatures, puppetry and a set of simple props to support a powerhouse performance.

Luxenberg wrote the script. Levin is the show’s only performer. They are co-founders and co-artistic directors of Sinking Ship Productions, a theater company based in Brooklyn, NY. For more information about the upcoming Baltimore run of A Hunger Artist and for tickets, click here. 

Josh and Jon join Tom on the line from Argot Studios in New York.

Here’s a Stoop Story from Julie Hackett about her normal - not perfect - childhood. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com; the Stoop podcast is there, too.

Still lifes and landscapes, watercolors and oils. Artist James Hennessey came to Baltimore in 1965 to teach painting at MICA. Works from his five-decade career go on display at this weekend at the Creative Alliance--an exhibition called “Enduring Concerns”. Click here for information about the show.

Deborah Roffman

The intense reckoning America is experiencing around sexual harassment didn’t come out of nowhere.  We talk with Deborah Roffman, author and human sexuality educator at the Park School of Baltimore, about eye-opening events in the past five years that changed attitudes about taking what you want versus getting permission. Roffman teaches boys and girls as young as 9--fourth graders--and says forming personal boundaries starts with building self-respect.

ALAN DAVIDSON/SILVERHUB/REX/SHUT

From Hollywood to New York, a constant barrage of sexual harassment allegations against icons and wannabes alike in the news and entertainment industry continues unabated.  Two fixtures on New York public radio are among the latest to be accused of misconduct. 

On Wednesday, Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz, were placed on leave by New York Public Radio while the company investigates the claims made against them.  Mr. Lopate said that he wasn’t apprised of what the claims were or who made them.  He told the New York Times, quote, “I am sure any honest investigation will completely clear me.”

The actor Danny Masterson was written out of the Netflix series, The Ranchfollowing allegations of rape, and Dustin Hoffman was confronted by John Oliver at a screening Monday night at the 92nd Street Y in New York about published reports of his sexual misconduct.

How is all of this impacting the business and culture of Hollywood?  And will it change the power dynamic of fans, critics and movie idols? 

Joining us to talk about all of this -- and about some of the great new Oscar-contending films being released in the final weeks of 2017 -- are Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday, and Maryland Film Festival founder and director, Jed Dietz. As always, listeners are welcome to join the conversation as well.

Photo by Glenn Ricci

It's time for our weekly conversation with theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins Tom today with a review of Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, a post-apocalyptic fantasy in three acts by playwright Anne Washburn, being produced by Cohesion Theatre Company at "The Fallout Shelter" at Baltimore's United Evangelical Church.

The play asks a series of questions:  What happens to pop culture after the fall of human civilization? What about 7 years after the fall? Or even 75 years?

Mr. Burns runs those scenarios out over three time-shifting acts. When nuclear power plants across the country begin to “go up,” a group of survivors gather in the woods and begin to recount an episode of The Simpsons.  As Cohesion Theatre Company's program describes it, "casual storytelling evolves into theater, theater evolves into ritual, and one Simpsons episode evolves into a myth and legend for a post-apocalyptic world."

Cohesion Theatre Company's Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, directed by Lance Bankerd, continues at "The Fallout Shelter" at United Evangelical Church, located at 923 S. East Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224, until December 17th.  For ticket and location info, click here.

Vera Institute of Justice

As the Trump Administration bears down on immigration enforcement, what is the recourse of immigrants facing deportation, who are often without funds to enlist a lawyer’s help, or even the basic understanding of what that would mean? We hear from Annie Chen a program director from the Vera Institute of Justice about the SAFE Cities Network initiative. It’s a nationwide effort to bolster access to legal representation for immigrants and also provide education regarding legal rights. Also joining us is Tracy Brown, deputy director of Open Society Institute Baltimore that works with the local immigrant community. We also meet  Val Twanmoh, director of the Catholic Charities Esperanza Center, which will receive some of the SAFE Cities funding, and Heather Benno, managing attorney of immigration legal services at Esperanza Center.

Mary Rose Madden/WYPR

Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh was sworn into office one year ago today. Unemployment in Baltimore is the lowest it’s been in many years; 6,000 more people are now working than before she took office.

But all of the Mayor’s efforts, as well as those of the Police Commissioner and the City Council have been overshadowed by the violence that has plagued our city ever since the riots and uprising that followed the death of Freddie Gray in 2015. As 2017 draws to a close, Baltimore is on track to record more than 1,000 shootings, more than a third of which have ended in death.

Today on Midday, we examine violence in Baltimore City. Luke Broadwater from the Baltimore Sun talks about some of the initiatives that Mayor Pugh and Gov. Larry Hogan have introduced in just the last couple of days.

Later in the program, Tom speaks with Akai Alston, who is working in Sandtown Winchester in a program called U-TURNS, which helps young people living in one of Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods to build resiliency and overcome trauma, including violence. 

But first, Lester Davis joins Tom in Studio A.  Davis serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Baltimore City Council President Jack Young. Council President Young is the lead sponsor of a Youth Fund, which this year will total about $12 million.  The fund is expected to be approved by the City Council when it meets tomorrow night. 

Royal wedding fever has spread across the pond and here in the United States. Prince Harry, the youngest son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, will wed American actress Meghan Markle. Along with wedding plans and elaborate fascinators, much of the conversation about this royal engagement has centered on race. Ms. Markle is biracial, her mother is black and her father is white. Dr. Sheri Parks of the University of Maryland, College Park joins Tom for Midday Culture Connections to talk about royalty, race, and identity. 

Kelsey Parks Smith also joins from England. She’s a postgraduate student in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. She's also Dr. Park's daughter. 

Elementary to Middle School 28 / Flickr via Creative Commons

Maryland and many other states are facing teacher shortages, and yet the teaching profession loses 1 out of 5 teachers by their fifth year in the classroom. Educational researcher Linda Darling Hammond of the Learning Policy Institute says a range of factors, like planning time and access to materials, shape teachers’ decisions.

Check out the LPI map of "Understanding Teacher Shortages," and the report, "A Coming Crisis? Teacher Supply, Demand, and Shortages in the U.S".

And we hear from two Baltimore principals - Principal Patricia Burrell of North Bend Elementary/Middle School and Principal Marc Martin of Commodore John Rodgers Elementary/Middle School - about how they are supporting their teachers and fostering collaboration at their schools.

Out of the Ville, part 1

Dec 5, 2017
all photos by Wendel Patrick

We’re all taught that housing desegregation was a good thing, right? But if you talk to the old-timers in The Ville, they’ll give you a more nuanced story:  They’ll tell you it was a gift that came with a curse. In its heyday, The Ville was the beating heart of black Saint Louis, with historic African American institutions like Sumner High School and Homer G Phillips Hospital.  Desegregation opened the floodgates for a mass-exodus from The Ville, and now the neighborhood is more than 60 percent vacant.  Out of the Blocks travels to the Ville for this special episode, produced in collaboration with the Saint Louis Public Radio podcast We Live Here and the neighborhood organization 4 The Ville.  This episode was made possible by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Today's show is all about the wild ride of opening a restaurant. 

Guests 

  • TV Star and multi-Michelin-starred Chef Gordon Ramsay. Ramsay recently opened a restaurant inside the Horseshoe Baltimore Casino. 
  • Irena Stein of Alma Cocina Latina, a Venezuelan restaurant in Canton. 

Brian Copeland / Flickr via Creative Commons

For neglected and abused children, foster parents offer stability, love, and a safe place to call home. Tawana Nolan, supervisor for out-of-home care in Harford County, talks training and recruiting foster parents. And we speak to Darrow Brown, of Baltimore City, and Tracey Horstmann, of Harford County, about the challenges and rewards of foster parenting.

To get more information about foster parenting, check out these links:

State Department of Health guide to becoming a foster parent

List of local offices for foster care or out-of-home care

Helen Glazer

Artists have always drawn inspiration from nature. The grace of a crashing ocean wave, the warm palette of autumn leaves, the luminescence of a full moon. But … a stark, snow and ice-covered tundra? That’s where photographer and sculptor, Helen Glazer, toured and made images over the course of seven weeks as part of the ‘Antarctic Artists and Writers’ program. She won the grant from the National Science Foundation in 2015. Her exhibit, Walking in Antarctica, is on display through January 12, 2018 at the Rosenberg Gallery at Goucher College.

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