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WYPR Programs

Cover art courtesy Little, Brown and Co., Publisher

Their names are familiar: Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice...and others.   Young, unarmed black men killed by police. Their common, tragic fates and what led to them are the focus of Tom's conversation today with Wesley Lowery.

Lowery is a Washington Post reporter who’s been on the ground covering incidents of police violence since protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, following the death of Michael Brown.

Lowery’s new book examines law enforcement culture and the legacy of unconstitutional treatment of African-Americans that continues to seed mistrust between police and communities of color. 

“For most white Americans," Lowery tells Tom, "the police are someone you call when you are in trouble. For most black and brown Americans, the police are an oppressive force, who they see as harassing them and interacting with them in ways that could lead to them being dead.”

A Midday Special Edition: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wesley Lowery on his new book, They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era of America’s Racial Justice Movement. 

This program was pre-recorded, so we didn't take any phone calls.  If you want to comment on the show, you can tweet us @middaytomhall, or write to us at midday@wypr.org or on Midday's Facebook page. 

Cancer treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation can be harrowing, and the cancer often returns. But a new treatment has come into use: it harnesses the body’s own immune system to destroy cancer. So far, immunotherapy doesn’t work in most patients. But when it does, the results can seem miraculous. Cancer survivor Stephanie Joho had run out of treatment options when she discovered immunotherapy. She recalls a moment soon after she started treatment: “I sat at the dinner table and I remember crying. Because I looked at my parents and I said, ‘I’m hungry.’ I didn’t remember what that felt like. I hadn’t felt hunger in probably over a year.” She and Dr. Drew Pardoll, director of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins, join us.

How many people can call Antarctica home? Here's Meg Adams speaking in 2011 about her time living at the South Pole research station in Antarctica. You can listen to more stories, and learn about Stoop shows and The Stoop podcast, all at stoopstorytelling.com.

Today we continue our coverage of the $130 million dollar budget gap facing Baltimore City Schools. How does state funding for the schools work? Are the formulas that guide that funding adequate? Bebe Verdery, director of the ACLU of Maryland’s Education Reform Project, says that while factors like rising costs and falling enrollment are partly to blame for the massive budget shortfall, the real culprit is the funding formula itself.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

It’s Friday, and time for  the Midday News Wrap.

On Capitol Hill, two House committees voted Thursday to approve a Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act. Some Republicans say it doesn’t go far enough in repealing Obamacare. Other critics, including groups of doctors, hospitals and insurance companies, have called the proposed plan unworkable.

Rod Rosenstein, the current US attorney for MD, was in the hot seat on Tuesday during his confirmation hearing to become the nation’s Deputy Attorney General. If confirmed, he would lead any investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, now that A.G. Jeff Sessions has recused himself. He did that when he admitted to failing to disclose his meetings as a Trump campaign surrogate with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. 

As in other recent weeks, the news has been dominated by Donald Trump. In a Tweet early Saturday morning, Trump leveled an extraordinary claim -- accusing President Obama of ordering wiretaps at Trump Tower in New York. The White House has yet to provide any evidence to support the claim. They’ve called for a Congressional investigation. 

And in Baltimore, Police Commissioner Davis puts an end to undercover policing in the city, in the wake of last week’s indictment of seven police officers on federal racketeering charges. 

Joining Tom today for the Midday News Wrap: 

Julie Bykowicz. She’s a White House Reporter for the Associated Press. She covered politics, and the 2016 election, for AP. Before that she was a political reporter for Bloomberg and for 10 years was a reporter at the Baltimore Sun, where she covered state politics, city courts and crime, among other things. 

Fraser Smith. He's a columnist for the Daily Record. He's also a longtime observer of Baltimore, and was at The Baltimore Sun for many years. He is about to step down as WYPR’s senior news analyst. But you’ll still hear him on our airwaves as a WYPR contributor. 

Classical guitarist Junhong Kuang joins Tom live today in Studio A -- and plays some glorious music.  He is the 17-year-old winner of the 2016 Yale Gordon Concerto Competition at the Peabody Conservatory, here in Baltimore.

Kuang is a native of Chengdu, China. He began playing guitar at age 5. At 15, he was accepted into the Peabody Conservatory where he is working toward a bachelor of arts degree in guitar performance under the tutelage of guitarist Manuel Barrueco.

Already in his young career, Kuang has given nearly 100 concerts. And will give another one tomorrow afternoon, at 3 pm at the Baltimore Museum of Art as part of the Shriver Hall Concert Series.

That free concert is sold out, but you can hear Kuang's extraordinary musical talents by listening to his performance today on Midday.  Enjoy!

Photo by Jillian Edelstein

Tom's guest today is the acclaimed Pakistani novelist and essayist Mohsin Hamid.  He’s the author of insightful and quirky novels like Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

In his latest work, Exit West, he explores the complexities and punishing challenges of being a refugee.  With hints of fantasy and a trenchant analysis of the human condition, Hamid writes fiction that forces us to listen and essays that compel us to question the common wisdom.

Mohsin Hamid joins Tom to talk about his work, and the uncertain fate of refugees in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to those displaced by war, famine and political upheavals.

You can meet Mohsin Hamid on Saturday, March 11, at the Church of the Redeemer in North Baltimore.  The event will support the work of the Baltimore office of the International Rescue Committee.  It’s sponsored by the Ivy Bookshop, and it begins at 7:00pm.   For more information, click here.

Photo by Richard Anderson

Midday's theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio -- as she does most Thursdays -- with her review this week of The White Snake, on stage in the renovated Head Theater at the newly named Baltimore Center Stage.

Based on an ancient Chinese fable, The White Snake uses mystery and magic to tell a fantastical tale that's staged in grand-spectacle style, intertwining traditional and modern storytelling techniques.  

Two animal spirits -- White Snake and Green Snake, played by Aime Donna Kelly and Eileen Rivera, have taken human form as a beautiful woman and her sly servant. White Snake falls in love with a poor pharmacist’s assistant (played by Joe Ngo), but their relationship is condemned by a conservative monk (played by Peter Van Wagner), and their newfound happiness is threatened by tragedy. 

The White Snake was written-adapted by Mary Zimmerman, and directed by Natsu Onoda Power.  Nicole Wee is the costume designer,  Hana S. Kim is the scenic and projection designer, and  Jeff Song is music director.

The White Snake is at Baltimore Center Stage until March 26th.  Ticket and showtime information is available here.

Unless something changes, this coming fiscal year Baltimore City’s public schools will operate with their funds cut to close a $130 million budget gap, the largest in years. Schools CEO Sonja Santelises says more than a thousand people will be laid off. What would a cut of this magnitude mean for students? Today we hear from the principal of an elementary and middle school in Northeast Baltimore that stands to lose more than 20 percent of its funding. Dr. Patricia Drummond, principal of Hamilton Elementary Middle School in Northeast Baltimore, says, “When I saw my budget, I cried. I know how far we have come since I’ve been at Hamilton. And I just didn’t see a way that we can do that next year.” 

President Trump’s plan to cut diplomacy and foreign-aid budgets by more than a third has drawn a sharp push back from many former diplomats, retired generals, international aid advocates and members of Congress--including some Republicans. The chairman of a key Senate appropriations subcommittee called the idea “dead on arrival.” We’ll ask Bill O’Keefe, Vice President for Advocacy at Catholic Relief Services, and retired Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum what they think would result from deep cuts in foreign aid.

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