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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.

Each day in the U.S. more than 86,000 older adults fall. That’s about one per second, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for the elderly.

We talk with Dr. Kelly Westlake and Dr. Mark Rogers, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who are working to help seniors react faster and stay safer if they take a tumble through innovative balance training.

To participate in the study visit this link or contact Kathleen Simpson at 410-605-7179 or by email at Kathleen.Simpson@va.gov

 

Photo courtesy mrs.sog.unc.edu

Today, another edition of the Midday Healthwatch with Dr. Leana Wen, the Health Commissioner of Baltimore City.  Lawmakers in Annapolis and Washington are wrestling with competing views on prescription drug affordability, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, legislation to stem the rising tide of opioid addiction, and changes to the Affordable Care Act, among other issues. 

What are the feds and the state willing to do to help cities like Baltimore, who are strapped for cash, and who have no shortage of people in need?

And with influenza season in full swing, what can you do to protect yourself and the ones you love, particularly children and the elderly, who are most at risk for a disease that can be fatal?

Baltimore's Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen spends the hour discussing how the city is responding to its most pressing public health concerns, and answering your questions and comments.

100 S Broadway, part 2

Jan 29, 2018

This episode begins with a recovering addict who’s found peace, purpose, and a modest income folding paper flowers and peddling them to passersby on the street corner.  The episode ends with a Salvadorian immigrant who spends 50 hours a week on an assembly line in a chicken processing plant.  In between are more stories of entrepreneurs and day-laborers, people trying to make a living and trying to live life along the way.

Backbone Campaign/Flickr Creative Commons

Last month, Ajit Pai, the Trump-appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, made good on a promise to repeal Obama- era regulations that governed the internet.  By a vote of 3-2, the commission ended regulations that required Internet Service Providers to treat all content the same. Before, ISPs couldn’t pick and choose which content loaded fast and which loaded more slowly, or not at all, nor could they charge a premium for faster service.

Why is this important? 

Midday's guests today have given this subject a lot of thought. Deb Tillett joins Tom Hall in Studio A. She’s the executive director of the Emerging Technologies Center, an incubator for tech startups here in Baltimore. 

Brandi Collins is the Senior Campaign Director for Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization.  She oversees that organization’s Media, Democracy and Economic Justice department.  She’s on the line from Oakland, California.

Ritu Agarwal is a professor, senior associate dean for research, and the Dean’s Chair of Information Systems at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business.  She is also the founder and director of the school’s Center for Health Information and Decision Systems.  She joins us from her office in College Park.

The summer before he starts high school, 14-year-old Miles doesn’t have much to do but get into trouble. He smokes weed; fights with his younger sisters; clashes with his parents, who are divorcing; obsesses over a crush; has few friends; and takes his skateboard anywhere around Baltimore that might pierce his adolescent boredom. We know all this from his diary-- it is the just-published novel "Kill Me Now," by author Timmy Reed.

Reed will be speaking at Atomic Books on February 1 (in conversation with Madison Smartt Bell) and Bird in Hand on February 8th (in conversation with Jane Delury).

barvasquez/flickr

We talk food allergies with dietitian Amy Chen, cocktails with Brendan Dorr, president of the Baltimore Bartenders' Guild, and Chef Wolf sends Tony into the woods for a Chef's Challenge. 

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

On today's Midday NewsWrap, Tom begins with a review of some of the week's major national and international developments, from President Trump's "America First" speech this morning to the World Economic Forum in Davos, to the bombshell New York Times report that the President ordered  the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller last June, but then backed off.  Tom is joined on the line by journalists Ron Elving --Senior editor and correspondent on the Washington Desk at NPR News -- and Karoun Demirjian, defense and foreign policy correspondent for the Washington Post.

Then, we switch gears and focus on the week's top local news, from Mayor Pugh's shakeup of the city's police department and the continuing mystery surrounding Detective Suiter's violent death...to why Baltimore lost its bid for Amazon's coveted HQ2 . Tom is joined in the studio by Andy Green, Opinion Editor at the Baltimore Sun, and community activist Bishop Douglas Miles, pastor of the Koinonia Baptist Church and Co-founder Emeritus of BUILD (Baltimorians United In Leadership Development).

Brian Flanagan, who was a Baltimore City firefighter, shares a Stoop Story about his scariest experience on the job. Flanagan passed away last fall.

You can hear his story and many others at stoopstorytelling.com.

Fred Pridham, February 9, 1904 / Wikimedia Commons

One hundred fourteen years ago, flames consumed Baltimore, turning entire city blocks into smoking rubble. How did Baltimore rise from the ashes? We speak to historian Wayne Schaumburg ahead of the fire's anniversary on February 7th. 

Photo by Rob Clatterbuck

Every Thursday, our resident theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, joins Tom in studio to regale us with her review of a local theater production. This week, she spotlights a new production of the opera Trouble in Tahiti at Stillpointe Theatre.

Originally composed and conducted by the legendary Leonard Bernstein (whose other works include "West Side Story"), this opera centers on a young suburban couple who live a seemingly perfect and beautiful life. In reality, both husband and wife are suffering a numbing discontent with their lives and relationship. Claire Galloway Weber and Peter Tomaszewski play the lead roles of Dinah and Sam.

Trouble in Tahiti is directed by David Schweitzer, with musical direction by Ben Shaver.  For ticket info, click here.

Those who escape the clutches of human trafficking often face a hurdle in building a new life: A criminal conviction that stems from the coercion they endured--charges like trespassing or prostitution, can block them from a job--or safe housing or a scholarship.

Lawyers Jessica Emerson and Laurie Culkin from the Human Trafficking Prevention Project - a partnership of the University of Baltimore School of Law and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service -  describe how they help victims clear their criminal records.

Survivor advocate Shamere McKenzie tells us how she came to be trafficked and how charges arising from it have followed her. Shamere McKenzie is the Anti-Trafficking Program Director for the Salvation Army of Central Maryland, which runs a safe haven for victims of trafficking called Catherine’s Cottage.

Courtesy United Way website

We’ve been reporting on the United Way of Central Maryland’s statewide analysis that revealed a staggering statistic: one out of three households in Maryland has income above the federal poverty level … but not enough to cover basic necessities like food and housing. The acronym is ALICE: Assets limited, Income constrained, Employed. Last spring we interviewed two mothers who are ALICES … and wanted to check in with them again. In our conversation, Heather Housand talks candidly about trying to get ahead, and Victoria Cox explained how she’s navigated a job loss and several other obstacles over the past year.

photo from Johns Hopkins University

How are you feeling today?  Flu-ish maybe?  If so, you’re not alone.  We keep hearing that this is the worst flu season in years.  And if you’ve had this year’s flu, that’s no doubt how it feels. In fact, it is probably the worst flu season in the past three years, and we’ll have to wait until it’s over before the CDC can rank it more definitively.   

Here’s what we do know in this -- the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Influenza pandemic, which infected 500 million people worldwide.

This year’s flu is now widespread in 49 states -- all but Hawaii. The number of children who have died from flu this winter has now reached 30.  Three years ago 148 children died from the flu, according to the CDC.  The number of adults who die from flu in any given year is less clear.  But what is clear is that the flu is serious.  

The severity of this year’s flu raises some interesting ethical questions.  For example:  Should getting a flu vaccination be mandatory?   Of course, being vaccinated is no guarantee that you’ll avoid the illness, but experts point out that if more people are vaccinated, the outbreak will theoretically be less virulent.

Where children are concerned, the link between vaccination and health is perhaps clearer.  Most of the 30 children known to have died from the flu so far this winter -- about 85% -- had not been vaccinated. 

Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, the Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, joins Tom today.   He stops by from time to time to help us explore how ethicists frame some very complex questions, in a segment we call Midday on Ethics.

Photo by Sarah Wanyana

The African Children’s Choir joins Tom in Studio A to preview their concert tonight in Baltimore.  These 18 young singers, aged between  7 and 10 years, are all from Uganda. Many come from families impacted by war, famine and disease.  They are now on a 9-month, nearly 50-concert tour of the United States. After Baltimore, they'll venture across the mid-Atlantic, up to New England and then out west to Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

Over the years, the African Children's Choir has performed for heads of state and shared the stage with celebrated artists such as Paul McCartney, Mariah Carey and others.

 

Tonight at 7 pm they will be performing in Baltimore at St. Matthew Catholic Church at 5401 Loch Raven Blvd.  The concert is free and open to all. The Music for Life Institute, the non-profit charitable organization that runs the Choir, welcomes donations, which help support African Children's Choir programs such as education, care and relief campaigns.   Click here for more information.

Photo courtesy Baltimore Sun

Today, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh joins Tom in Studio A.  Like Mayor Martin O’Malley, Mayor Sheila Dixon, and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake before her, last Friday, Mayor Pugh fired the city's police commissioner.  Kevin Davis was an outsider who had come to Baltimore after tenures in Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties.  He was replaced by a 30-year veteran of the Baltimore Police, Darryl DeSousa.  The Mayor’s mandate to her Commissioner-designate is clear: improve violence reduction, and turn around our city’s crime numbers, which are at historic levels. 

The first few weeks of this New Year have not been easy for the city: multiple maintenance crises in city schools, the announcement by Amazon that we are out of the running for their new headquarters, the shuttering of the only big box department store in West Baltimore, and hovering above it all: murders on our streets that continue at an alarming rate. 

Mayor Pugh points to several areas in which the city is making progress. The Police training academy has a full class preparing to join the force. Bloomberg Philanthropies has invested millions to improve technology for law enforcement, and to train young entrepreneurs.  The Safe Streets program is being expanded, and a new violence reduction program that has shown promise in Boston is being bought to Baltimore. 

The Mayor has spoken of changing the narrative about our city.  She talks about how she plans to do that in today's Midday with the Mayor.  And she takes questions and comments from the Midday audience.

Today's program was streamed live on WYPR's Facebook page, where you can now watch the complete video.

Ivy Bookshop

We talk taxes with Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and author David Cay Johnston, who will be at the Pratt Tuesday, Jan 23, to discuss his new book: “It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America.” Johnston explains how he forsees the new tax law affecting the economy.

Baltimore Speakers Series

Robin Wright has built her expertise in foreign affairs from the ground up. She reported from more than 140 countries on six continents for the Washington Post, the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine and other publications. Next month she’s off again to Moscow and the Middle East. Ahead of her appearance at the Baltimore Speakers Series, we asked what she expects could unfold next in North Korea and Iran. 

Baltimore Police Dept.

Even before Mayor Pugh presented her new police commissioner to the press, Darryl DeSousa said, he had put into action his plan to curtail violence with waves of police on the street. We asked Councilman Brandon Scott and Councilman Ryan Dorsey, chair and vice of of the city council’s public-safety committee, how will that work? And executive director Ray Kelly gives us the view from the No Boundaries Coalition.

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File

 The Consumer Electronics Show ended 10 days ago in Las Vegas. From voice-activated AI, to Smart Cities, to innovations for the disabled, Tom talks to a panel of experts to walk us through the trends and some of the gadgets they took note of at this year's show.

 

Courtesy of Mary Rose Madden

Today, two editors of the Afro Newspaper in Baltimore join Tom to discuss the firing of Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and the hiring of his Deputy Commissioner Daryll DeSousa. Mayor Catherine Pugh announced this change-up last Friday citing her dissatisfaction with the city's high homicide rate. DeSousa, a 30-year veteran of the force, now inherits the challenges of his predecessor such as the ongoing Gun Trace Task Force scandal and the Consent Decree with the Department of Justice.

Kamau High is the Managing Editor of the Afro Newspaper.  Sean Yoes is a columnist, editor and host of The Afro First Edition.

 

Paula Ouder, courtesy Louisiana Sea Grant College Program

On the menu this week: stone crab soup, venison, wine history and Chef Wolf accepts Tony's sandwich-themed Chef's Challenge.

This is a rebroadcast. 

Courtesy of Evan Vucci / Associated Press

In this week's news, the federal government faces a shutdown as Baltimore’s mayor shakes up the city's police department.

The U.S. House and Senate are arguing about passing a short-term spending resolution to avoid what Republicans are calling "the Schumer Shutdown." Democrats say that the bi-partisan bill to preserve DACA crafted by Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Dick Durbin has what it takes to solve the crisis for Dreamers, and avoid a messy and costly shutdown.

Meanwhile,  Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh has fired Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.  30-year city police veteran Darryl DeSousa began serving as acting commissioner this morning. 

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