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Baltimore Police Department

For two-and-a-half weeks, testimony in the federal courtroom shocked some and confirmed the fears of others: witness after witness described an elite unit of the Baltimore police gone rogue, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, drugs, guns and luxury accessories while pretending the seizures were legitimate law enforcement. The trial ended last night with Detectives Daniel Hersl and Marcus Taylor convicted of fraud, robbery and racketeering. WYPR reporter Mary Rose Madden covered the trial, and she’s here in studio.

100 S Broadway, part 3

Feb 12, 2018
all photos by Wendel Patrick

If we’re truthful about it, most of us will admit it:  There’s a gap between who we are and who we yearn to be.  In this episode, people confront the sting of getting honest with themselves.  In the end, some find redemption, and some just stare into the abyss.  There’s darkness in this episode, yes, but rays of hope have a way of shining in through the cracks.  As you’ll hear Francesca say, “Life is too short, the world is too cruel. Just love one another.”

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.

Baltimore Chinese School

We’re four days away from the new year -- Lunar New Year. The Year of the Dog starts Friday, February 16. We talk with Colleen Oyler of the Walters Art Museum to hear what’s on offer at its celebration of the Lunar New Year this weekend--dances, music and art making and how it connects to the Walters’ famed collection of Asian art. And we ask Professor Wei Sun, principal and co-founder of the Baltimore Chinese School, what he’d like visitors to know about Lunar New Year.

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.

Here’s a Stoop Story from Shindana Cooper about an ill-fated voyage with the Middle Passage Monument Project. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com, as well as the Stoop podcast.

Jack Burkert, senior educator at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, takes us back to the colonial origin of the Port, moving tobacco and then grain, and to the Port’s alliance with the B&O railroad expanding trade to the west. We hear about the human cargo--slaves, ripped from their families and sold to the South--as well as immigrants who passed through the port, seeking a new life in America.

The event at the Baltimore Museum of Industry - in partnership with the Irish Railroad Workers Museum - is this Saturday from 11 am-12 pm. 

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.

MTA Facebook page

High frequency buses, dedicated bus lanes, new routes - BaltimoreLink launched last June, a $135-million-dollar reboot of the city’s transit system. What is ridership like? Are buses running on time?

Kevin Quinn, head of the Maryland Transit Administration, gives us an update on service and technology changes. And transit activist and blogger Danielle Sweeney describes her work tracking no-show buses and fostering rider feedback.

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.

thebaltimorebeat.com

In our monthly pulse-check with the alternative weekly Baltimore Beat, managing editor Brandon Soderberg shares his experience reporting from the robbery-extortion-and fraud trial of two former members of the Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force. Soderberg said it’s affected him more than any trial he’s covered.  And, the Beat has labeled this week its annual sex issue. Editor-in-chief Lisa Snowden-McCray takes us on a visit to the legendary Millstream Inn Gentlemen’s Club. Read the whole issue and more at baltimorebeat.com .

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.

FORECAST / JHU Bloomberg School of Public Health/Bloomberg American Health Initiative

The synthetic opioid fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than the painkiller morphine. Fentanyl has overtaken heroin and cocaine as the driving force behind the epidemic of deaths from opioid overdoses. But not because drug users seek it out. Often users are unaware that fentanyl--or an even stronger tranquilizer for large animals, called carfentanil--has been added to the drugs they buy. Some say knowing fentanyl is present would change how they use drugs. 

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.

Maryland Agricultural Resource Council

The learning curve for beekeeping is steep. How do you make sure your bees are healthy and happy--and that they don’t sting you? Devra Kitterman, pollinator program coordinator for the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council, tells us about their beginning beekeeper course--and her work as a swarm catcher. And managing director Wes Jamison tells us what else you can do on the 150-acre farm park --from hiking and sunflower picking to learning how to back up a horse trailer.

YI WANG/FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

This week it's all about Champagne. Tony and Chef Cindy cover the basics of this beloved bubbly beverage and get some history from Rich Buchanan of Moët Hennessy.

  

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.

Will Kirk/Homewood Photography

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Until he escaped Maryland--and slavery--at age 20, where did he live? Who did he rub shoulders with? Where did he work? Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Distinguished professor Lawrence Jackson and his students have created an interactive map of the time Douglass spent in Maryland. Jackson tells why exploring the physical environment helps us better understand Douglass’s growth as a black leader, starting as a product of his community.

That was a Stoop Story from Melani Douglass, great, great grandaughter of Frederick Douglass and founder of the nomadic Family Arts Museum. She told of a holiday party that turned ugly ... and setting the record straight with a racist guest. Particularly meaningful as we commemorate the 200th anniversary of Douglass’ birth this month. You can hear her story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com--as well as the Stoop podcast.

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.

Melissa Gerr / WYPR

One of the most powerful forms of healing is peer support -- receiving advice and encouragement from someone who truly understands what you’ve been through because they’ve been through it, too. Our guests today live by that philosophy. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Society, or LEGS, says it provides "resources and emotional peer support for gentlemen who are diversely abled." LEGS co-founder Calvin Mitchell explains the distinction. We also hear from members Bong Delrosario and Derrick Waters.  

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

Amazon

What do very old people know about being happy that most of us don’t? Can we put their approach into use in our own lives? New York Times journalist John Leland spent a year with six elders and put what he learned in his new book, Happiness Is a Choice You Make -- Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old.

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