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This is what mountaintop removal looks like

These are photos I took looking out across an active mountain removal site on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia.  It’s hard to get a feel for the size of the mining site without being there.  It’s even harder to imagine what it looked like in its natural state, but look at the dark green, tree-covered hills all around it to get some idea.

We’ll be bringing you more about what’s happening on Kayford Mountain soon, but I wanted to get these images out there right away.  Larry Gibson showed us around here.  He grew up on Kayford Mt. and now the land his family and others lived on for generations is being irreparably destroyed.  He came with his cousin that day to mow the grass in two family cemeteries that are here.  We walked past them on the way to what is now a cliff over the mining site where I stood and took these pictures.  Another of their cemeteries has already been destroyed by the mining company as they’ve blasted the mountain apart and carted away ton after ton of coal from inside of it.

Larry told us not to waste his time.  He wasn’t showing us around for no reason; he wanted to make sure we were going to do something about what we saw.  Larry is for abolishing the use of coal altogether, despite having family members who work in the industry and are upset by his stance.  Unlike many people we spoke to who expressed support for continuing mining in a responsible, less destructive manner, Larry told us he doesn’t believe it’s possible to mine and use coal in a way that is not harmful.

Over and over again last week, people mentioned supporting the Clean Water Protection Act as the most important thing anyone can do right now to help bring an end to mountaintop removal.  Contact your Congressmen and make sure they support it!

Please also check out our new forum on mountaintop removal, and these two blog posts from West Virginia last week – 1 & 2.

-Justin


Day 2 in Coal River Valley

Butch & Patty Sebok at home in Seth, West Virginia. photo: Antrim Caskey

We spent our first full day in West Virginia visiting people in their homes, taping interviews. People shared incredible stories with us that we’ll be bringing back. I recorded about 6 hours of audio today alone. We saw a 90 year-old woman’s fingers turn black with coal dust from running them across her tv screen. Again and again, people expressed their respect for the old ways of underground mining. At the same time, they spoke with outrage about mountaintop removal and the unprecedented level of destruction coal companies have caused in this area over the past 25 years or so.

Antrim took this picture of Patty Sebok and her husband Harry "Butch" Sebok in their kitchen. Patty is a community activist who works for Coal River Mountain Watch. Butch is a union miner who worked underground for almost 30 years. He was forced to retire when a doctor told him he risked paralysis if he continued working after an injury on the job that resulted in a herniated disk.

We’ll be up bright and early in the morning to tape some more interviews before heading up Kayford Mountain to see an active mountaintop removal site and meet the last man holding onto his home as the mountain is destroyed all around it. I encourage everyone to do their own research to learn more about mountaintop removal and the history of coal mining in West Virginia and beyond. Please let us know if you have any questions or thoughts to share.

-Justin


Dispatch from Indiana, Part 1, Saturday May 4th 2008

 

Hey folks – one of our interns, Christina Arrison, is in Indiana for the primary. She’s going to be sending us first-hand observations and thoughts from there for the next few days. By way of an introduction, here’s her first dispatch. 

-Justin 

The Dirty Truth

The public face of any political campaign is a polished, powdered, and prepped candidate hopping on and off planes, buses, and trains to deliver speeches in front of supporters and ever-present news cameras. But the dirty truth is that the real work of a campaign is done once the candidate rolls out of town, by an army of sleep deprived, underpaid, junk-food-stuffed, (usually) 20-somethings, who serve as the ground troops for the candidate. I’m a new intern at CEM, and I’m also wrapping up a stint working as one of those sleepy 20-somethings for a group of labor unions that have endorsed Barack Obama in the presidential primary. Since the endorsement I’ve worked in Columbus, Pittsburgh, and the suburbs of Philadelphia, and I’m currently on a plane headed back to Indianapolis for second stint there leading up to next Tuesday’s election. Justin asked me to write a little bit for the site about my experiences working in the primaries, so I’ll be sending a few dispatches from Indiana during these final, hectic days of campaigning.

The Hoosier View

The best part about being on the ground for three important primary contests has been the chance to talk to and work with people who are experiencing this election on an individual and personal level – people who, many for the first time, feel a meaningful connection to Washington and the process that puts politicians there. It’s a nice counterbalance to the Big Media view of the campaign – all scandal and spin and personal attacks and very little examination of what the election means to real people. It’s been four decades since the last competitive Democratic primary in Indiana. From what I’ve seen, many Hoosiers are a bit bemused by all of the attention – voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania are used to the swarms of canvassers and scads of robo-calls and TV ads from past general elections, but in Indiana, a solidly red state, many people are experiencing the invasion for the first time. Overall, though, I think people appreciate the attention and genuinely believe that their voice matters. Every day when our canvassers get back from the field they give reports of talking to voters who say that this is their first time voting, and that for once they think an election offers them a chance to concretely improve their lives – by getting better healthcare or livable wages, by ending the war, and for countless other reasons. We hear heartbreaking stories like the Katrina survivor with AIDS who can’t afford his pills, and asked our union volunteer to have the Obama campaign contact him to get him cheaper medication. But even if the personal connection to the campaign just involves a voter yelling at a canvasser to get off her property, or slamming down the phone on another prerecorded call, at least they are offered the chance to participate.

Rising Tensions

That being said, I am a little worried about the length and tone of the race. Even in just the three primaries I’ve worked on there’s been a shift in voters’ attitudes. When I knocked doors in Ohio, most of the Clinton supporters I talked to were firm in their choice, but polite. On the plane back to DC after the Ohio election, I was seated next to the president of the New York chapter of NOW, and we were able to chat relatively amicably about the election, she in her Clinton button, me in my Obama t-shirt. Canvassing in Pennsylvania, five weeks later, the tone had shifted. Lots more people yelled at me, balled up their flyers and threw them back, or slammed the door in my face. I remember walking up the driveway of one house just in time to hear the woman say to her neighbor "If I get ONE more thing from Obama I’m just going to-" I didn’t quite catch what she was going to do, as I was doing my best to blend in with the trees as I backed away. I think a lot of people (including some campaign staffers I know who literally have not had a day off in 15 months) are ready for this to end.

But in the meantime I hope that the next few days will provide some food for thought, and a chance to look at some of the issues that Indiana voters and the campaign workers and volunteers are thinking about.

-Christina Arrison


4/11/08 Andrei Codrescu is in town

We started the morning off today with a visit from Andrei Codrescu, writer of many formats and NPR commentator. He’s in Baltimore for a reading and talk tonight at CCBC Essex as part of their Creative Writing Forum. Click here for all of the info on tonight’s event. Marc and Andrei sat down and spoke for an hour or so. We’ll be bringing you a podcast of their conversation at the beginning of next week. Also stay tuned for the launch of the new CEM website, expected for next week, as well. We’re working on a piece that goes behind the scenes of the new documentary Body of War which will premier on the new site. Hope everyone has a good weekend and enjoys the spring weather!

-Justin


02/19/08 First Day on the Job

In case you didn’t catch the news in Baltimore Business Journal or dcrtv today, thought I’d write a quick note to let everyone here know that yesterday was my last day at WYPR, and today is my first day working as a producer at the Center for Emerging Media!  I’m thrilled to be here, and looking forward to continuing working with Marc and Jessica.  The best way to contact me directly, for the time being, is justinlevy2@gmail.com.  If anyone knows who justinlevy1 is, I’d like to get in touch with him.
It’s been great to see the discussion that has exploded on the blog here the past few weeks.  Hope this will continue to grow as a place for increasingly broader discussion.
I’ve been thinking about all of these things that we would have been discussing on the air the past few weeks.  What’s been catching people’s interest lately, outside of the WYPR fiasco?  Fidel Castro plans to step down, Kosovo declares independence, the largest beef recall ever, the worst suicide bombing in Afghanistan since 2001, Obama, elections in Pakistan…
-Justin 

1/31/08 interesting articles this week…

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Check out the first paragraph of this article:

 FINALLY SOME GOOD NEWS—someone is going to help me play music with whales instead of warning me that it’s against the law. According to the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act, all “harassment” of marine mammals is illegal, including my idea of playing live music to them just to see what happens. But there are still places beyond the grip of the law.

Read it all here, and hear Marc interview the author, David Rothenberg, at about 1:30 today.  For more of David’s writing, check out this piece on www.terrain.org.

Before that, after the news at 1pm, join us to discuss genetically modified food.  Seems like it was something that was really in the public eye, along with lots of outrage and uncertainty, a few years ago, but all of that has subsided a bit, here in the US, at least.  It certainly didn’t go away, though, as more genetically modified crops are being grown worldwide than ever, and the highest percentage of any country is right here in the States.  Yes, if you’re not sure, our food supply is flush with genetically modiefied ingredients.  We’ll discuss the details, focusing on the company at the center of it all, Monsanto, with Brian Hindo.  He wrote the article Monsanto: Winning the Ground War in Business Week.

Every Thursday from 1-2pm for the past few weeks, we’ve been featuring interviews with the authors of articles that we’ve come upon and found particularly interesting.  If you’ve caught any of these segments, what do you think?  Would you like to see this continue as a regular, weekly feature on the show?  Also, comment here with suggestions for articles that you’ve read and would like for us to consider featuring!

-Justin


1/31/08 Bail Bonds

What comes to your mind when you think of bail bonds?  The nice folks who help spring you from jail when you’re waiting for trial?  One of the few types of businesses that populate mostly vacant commerical blocks in poor neighborhoods throughout the city?  Those ubiquitous yellow and pink Big Boyz Bail Bonds pens that are everywhere in Baltimore?

A article on the front page of the New York Times Tuesday pointed out the interesting fact that the US is one of only two countries in the world that use the bail bond system, empowering private companies to put up someone’s bail for them in exchange for a fee.  The fee is generally 10% of the bail, non-refundable.  Critics raise the point that, although you are innocent until proven guilty, you tend to have to pay a lot of money to a private company in order to stay out of jail, innocent or not.  Bail bonds is one way among many that the United States has charted a unique course for its legal system, internationally speaking.

Adam Liptak, the author of the article, joins us for the first part of today’s show, and then we’ll continue the discussion with a panel of local guests, discussing the pros and cons of the bail bond system, and possible alternatives.

Also worth checking out is a post and comments responding to the article on the Freakonomics blog.

-Justin


1/30/08 Student Perspectives – ‘08 Elections

Every time an election roles around, people (or at least the media) start to talk a lot about the youth vote.  We wonder whether young voters will finally start coming out in larger numbers than usual.  Why do less young people tend to vote than the older folks?  Are they just apathetic?  Do they think voting won’t make a difference, or that no one represents them?  What issues do these elusive young people care about?  What about those who are politically active?

One of my first assignments as a youthful WYPR news freelancer was to report on the youth vote in November 2006; check it here.

At noon today, we’re bringing together a group of college students from the area to hear their opinions and observations on the upcoming elections.  We’d love to hear your thoughts, as well, whatever age you might be.  Call 866-661-9309, email thesteinershow@wypr.org, or post a comment here.

-Justin


1/30/08 The Geography of Bliss

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Living in Baltimore, I can’t help but notice a lot of distinctly unhappy looking people  around town.  I know this is not exactly some kind of utopia, so is it reasonable to assume that people are, in general, happier elsewhere?

NPR Correspondent Eric Weiner will be joining us at 1pm today to discuss what he learned travelling the world purposefully seeking out happiness.  Check out his book The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World.

-Justin


1/28/08 Steve Larsen

At noon, a topic I know some of our listeners follow very closely… while some of you might just wonder how you’re going to pay a $450 BGE bill this month, which, by the way, is slightly less than the bill that arrived at my house last week.

Something for everyone, then: Steve Larsen, Chairman of the PSC (Public Service Commission, more info on both Steve individually and the PSC as a whole here) joins us to discuss the ongoing investigation into Maryland’s 1999 energy deregulation deal, that led to a 72% rate hike for more than 1 million BGE customers last year, and could be followed by higher increases soon.

If, indeed, consumers got a bad deal, what should/can be done now?  Should Maryland consider re-regulating?  How about seeking monetary compensation from Constellation Energy in court?  Last August, Illinois reached a one billion dollar settlement with a coalition of power suppliers over contentious rate hikes there.  Read one account of it, from EnergyBiz Magazine, here.  Please join us with your questions for Steve Larsen on the air at noon (866-661-9309 or thesteinershow@wypr.org) and don’t forget to post your thoughts here, as well.

-Justin


1/24/07 Iraq, Oil, War, Politics, and Media…

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photo of an Iraq oil field fire by Ian Waldie

…Those are a few of the topics we’re planning to cover at 1pm today, focusing on the intersection of all of them.  We’ll look at recent developments in Iraq’s oil industry, and how it fits into the bigger picture of the Iraq War.  We’ll discuss why the presidential candidates and the media both seem to not be focusing on Iraq as much as they should be.

We’ll be talking with Ben Lando, UPI’s energy editor.  Check out an extensive archive of his articles here.  Ben also created The Iraq Oil Report, a website that tracks oil goings on in Iraq on a daily basis.

We’ll also be speaking with Antonia Juhasz, author of The Bush Agenda: Invading the World One Economy at a Time. She is the Tarbell Fellow at Oil Change International and Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Policy StudiesHere’s an archive of op-eds that she has written.

-Justin


1/24/07 The Last Great Landgrab

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This summer, scientists mapped more than 20,000 square miles in the Gulf of Mexico. The red lines indicate newly mapped areas of the continental shelf.
Illustration: Chuck Carter/Paul Morin
One of the most interesting things we came across in the past week, was an article in Wired Magazine called Foreigners Keep Out! High Tech Mapping Starts to Redefine International BordersIt describes how new underwater mapping technologies are being used by nations to claim a bit of extra territory, even if it’s all way underwater.
We’re interviewing the article’s author, Geoffrey Gagnon, in the last segment of the show today, so tune in to find out more.
And click here to see more underwater maps like this one:
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-Justin

1/24/07 Green Governor

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Then-Mayor Martin O’Malley at an Earth Day Planting at Gilmor Elementary in 2005

Before I came to work at WYPR, I worked at a documentary company called Soundprint.  While I was there, they were working on a series of stories about urban forests that delved into the unique environmental issues that cities face.  For the documentary Watershed 263, we attended an Earth Day planting ceremony at Gilmor Elementary in Baltimore.  Gilmor was one of a dozen schools in Baltimore that had converted their parking lot into a garden.  Things like parking lots and roads are terrible for the environment.  When it rains, the rain gathers up all the oil and other pollutants that have been sitting on the pavement and then whooshes it all into a storm-water drain.  That all ends up in the Chesapeake, of course, where it wreaks havoc.  A garden, on the other hand, keeps that water right there, and puts it to good use.  It’s a lot of fun for the kids, too, to get a day out of class to get their hands dirty and have a beautiful spot to play.

 The purpose of that whole long story was to tell you that on that day, then-Mayor Martin O’Malley was at that school, and ceremoniously planted the first flower in the soil.  I remember being impressed that he would find time in a busy schedule to visit a school, make a speech, plant a flower, and hang out with the kids for awhile.  I left with the feeling that he cared about the environment.

The impression I was left with would please the now Governor, and those who work to craft his image.  He has very purposefully cast himself as a “Green Governer“.  But what does that term really mean?  As the environmental crisis in the Bay and beyond seems to grow more urgent, how does the criteria for being an environmental politician change?  What is the gold standard in environmentalism for a politician?  What is the leading edge-and is O’Malley on it?

We’ll discuss this today with people who all care deeply and have devoted their lives to the environment.  Join us, to share your thoughts on what you would like to see happen in Maryland.

Poll: Do you think Governor Martin O’Malley is a Green Governor?

-Jessica

 

Here are some pictures courtesy of one of our guests today, Gerry Winegrad.  His descriptions are below:

 

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1.  brown bull headed catfish taken from the South River near Annapolis by USGS.  Nearly 2/3rds sampled had these cancerous tumors from water pollutants, most likely from stormwater runoff.
2.  BROWN TIDE KILLS 7,000 INNER HARBOR FISH   June 5, 2007 BALTIMORE — State environmental officials said a lack of oxygen killed thousands of fish in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor last weekend.  State program director Charles Poukish said the fish kill is  the result of an algae bloom or brown tide.  Poukish said the lack of dissolved oxygen is the result of a large bloom of microscopic algae. Recent warm water temperatures killed the algae and that depleted oxygen near the water‘s surface.   Massive fish kills also were reported in the Potomac during the summer and other kills in the Magothy and other rivers.
3.  rockfish with mycobactreiosis (chronic wasting disease).  A wasting disease that kills rockfish and can cause a severe skin infection in humans has spread to nearly three-quarters of the rockfish in the Chesapeake Bay, cradle of the mid-Atlantic’s most popular game fish.  The disease also sends a grim message about the entire bay ecosystem. The rockfish remains bay conservationists’ only success story — a species nearly wiped out, then revived by fishing limits.  But as the number of rockfish surged, the fish remained in a body of water too polluted to support the level of life it once did.

-Justin


01/14/08 O’Malley and Annapolis

We’re on the air right now with Andy Green from The Sun, Tom LoBianco from The Washington Times, and Erin Sullivan from City Paper… talking about the beginning of the legislative session, what to expect in the next 3 months, and, so far, the public’s perception of O’Malley.  Yesterday, The Sun published a poll showing a low approval rating for O’Malley, mainly because of the tax increases approved in the special session last fall, it seems.

What are your thoughts on O’Malley and the new tax increases?  How do you perceive yourself as being effected by the new tax plan?  Is a 1 percent sales tax increase something to complain about?  How about a 1.25% corporate tax increase?

Poll: Do you approve or disapprove of the job Martin O’Malley has done as governor so far?

-Justin


01/14/08 Archimedes Codex

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What role did the Walters Art Museum have in discovering the earliest surviving manuscript by Archimedes, which includes some previously undiscovered writings?  Join us at 1pm today to find out, as we’re joined by the authors of The Archimedes Codex: How a Medieval Prayer Book Is Revealing the True Genius of Antiquity’s Greatest Scientist.

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For more info in the meantime, check out this informative blog post by Dan Harlow.

-Justin


01/03/08 THE RAVENS!!!

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I’m a huge Ravens fan, so I could go on and on about all of the trivial things that only another Ravens fan would care about.  I had a bad feeling after we lost the first game of the season to The Bengals.  We should have won that game, right?  We were right there on the goal line….

That scenario repeated itself, in more and less similar ways, many times throughout the season, and it turned out to be a trainwreck of a season.  What went wrong?

Now Billick is gone, and fans seem to have divided opinions, with many not being sure whether it was a good decision to fire him, or not.  The questions we can ask now, as all we can do is look forward to next season, are endless, starting with who will be head coach.  And the whole coaching staff was fired, so what about the other coaches?  Who will start as quarterback?  Will we ever have a strong offense?

Lots of questions, and we’ll welcome your thoughts from noon to 1pm today on the air, or right here at any time.

-Justin


01/03/08 Mania, Depression, and Manic Depression (and Bipolar Disorder)

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Emily Martin, professor of anthropology and author of the book above joins us at 1pm today.  She has a lot of insight to share on mania and depression, and we hope you’ll join us with questions, and to share your own experiences with these common parts of our lives, as well.

-Justin


12/13/07 The Bay

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I went down to southern Maryland last August and took this picture standing in the Chesapeake Bay at Calvert Cliffs, although maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.  Beautiful place, but the water didn’t quite look as clean as it might have.

This hour we’ll be talking about what really would need to be done to clean up the Bay.  Is it realistic at all to see a cleaner Bay?  Efforts have been made for decades, but results are less than hoped for so far.. What do you think?

-Justin


12/12/07 In 15 Minutes..

..we go on the air.  Just time for a quick post today.

In the first hour, we’ll be looking at the role religion is playing in the ’08 presidential campaigns, so far, and more broadly at the role religion plays and has played in American political life.  What does it say about our society that a candidate’s religious beliefs have become a central part of political campaigning?  Are Democrats trying to out-biblethump the Republicans?  What did you think of Romney’s speech last week?  When will we elect our first openly atheist president?  More at noon…

In the second hour, we’ll have what has now become an annual show commemorating Homeless Memorial Day, which is actually next Friday, December 21st.  We were talking here recently and I asked if anyone else had noticed a more visible, larger homeless presence in certain parts of downtown (Guilford Ave under the JFX, St. Vincent’s Church…) We all had noticed, but didn’t know what to attribute it to, so I called Jeff Singer at Healthcare for the Homeless and got the scoop from him.  He’ll be here at 1pm to discuss with us further on the air, but basically he said, yes, the homeless population is growing in Baltimore and has been for years.  He attributed it to factors including homeless shelters closing, some shelters that are still open have become transitional, rather than emergency, shelters and offer less beds, the rising cost of housing, the decrease of available public housing units, and the increasing difficulty of obtaining public assistance for single adults.  On top of all that, for those that do get public assistance, it hasn’t been adjusted for inflation in about five years.  More at 1pm…

-Justin


12/11/07 Foster Care Reform

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Here’s a picture from earlier this year of Governor O’Malley swearing Brenda Donald in as the new Secretary for Maryland’s Department of Human Resources.  With her job, comes the responsibility of running the state’s foster care system.

About a month ago, we had a show looking at the foster care system, which I described at the time like this:

We’re starting off the hour with a look at Baltimore’s foster care system, which, no one would argue, is in need of some huge reforms.  A class action suit was brought on behalf of 2,500 foster children in 1984.  In 1988, the court entered a comprehensive consent decree requiring reforms, and nearly 20 years later we’re still waiting for those reforms.  Change doesn’t happen overnight, but two decades is a long time by anyone’s standards.  If you’re unfamiliar with this lawsuit, or the foster care situation here in general, a good place to start would be this article from Tuesday’s Sun.

Where are things now, another month later?  Brenda Donald will be here at 1pm to let us know, and take your questions, as well.

-Justin


12/10/07 Surge?

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What effect has the increased level of US troops, ‘the surge,’ had in Iraq?  Statistics show decreased levels of violence, but does that constitute a success?  There are still tragic amounts of daily violence, and a host of other problems, throughout Iraq.  What would a “good” outcome to the war look like at this point?

 Joining us today is Nancy Youssef, who just returned from Iraq where she reports for the McClatchy newspapers.  Read her articles here.  Also joining us is Adil Shamoo, who recently wrote an article supporting a military withdrawal from Iraq, which you can read here.

 

Join us…

-Justin


12/10/07 Kid’s Books

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Does anyone remember this book, “Owl At Home?”  I remember a lot of great books from my childhood, but this one has really stuck with me for some reason.  I picked it up again a few years ago, and was struck by how emotionally evocative it was.  Arnold Lobel, also the creator of the Frog and Toad books, is a genius.

What are your favorite kid’s books?  We had great response from our kid’s books show a year ago, so we’re bringing back the same guests today at 1pm for another round.

-Justin

Useful links:

Enoch Pratt Free Library

Children’s Bookstore in Roland Park

Red Canoe Bookstore and Cafe


12/06/07 What to Eat?

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Marion Nestle will be here at 1pm today, and looking at the cover of her most recent book above, you can see the some of the questions we’ll be discussing.  She’s got a great blog – check it out here.  And don’t forget to let us know what you think as you listen to her on the air with us today.  Continue the discussion with your comments here!

-Justin


12/05/07 Deputy Mayors

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Dixon at yesterday’s inauguration.. who’s the guy in the suit?

Sheila Dixon was sworn in as Mayor of Baltiomore yesteday, after being Mayor for about a year already, since the guy in the suit left this small town for a nice position in Annapolis.  Can’t blame him, being Mayor is not an easy job.

Today we’ll welcome two of the people Dixon has chosen to help her run the city:

Andrew Frank – Deputy Mayor for Neighborhood and Economic Development

Salima Marriott – Deputy Mayor for Community and Human Development

What would you like to ask, or tell, the people running this city?  Call us between noon and one pm today, 410-662-8780, while we’re on the air with Baltimore’s Deputy Mayors.

-Justin


11/29/07 The Past Catching Up With You…

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When someone broke into Sean Taylor’s home in the middle of the night and killed him earlier this week, was it a case of some trouble from Sean’s past catching up with him, or a random crime?  We don’t know, yet, but if I had to guess, I would guess that he was targeted, given the past, public incidences of violence in his life.  And not everyday violence, but things like an assault charge for threatening people with a gun, and being on the receiving end of a hail of bullets in his SUV.

There’s lots of other incidents around the NFL, and sportsworld in general, of players who’ve been dragged down by connections to their sometimes turbulent past.  Look at Michael Vick, Darrent Williams (Bronco’s player killed in a drive-by last New Years Day,) or the jail time Jamal Lewis served while playing for The Ravens, and, of course, Ray Lewis, who was charged, along with 2 of his friends, with a double murder.  Lewis accepted a plea bargain, pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice, and his friends were acquitted.

The thing is, this isn’t particular to proffesional athletes by any means.  Michael Wilbon said it better than I could in his column earlier this week.  Here’s an excerpt:

The issue of separating yourself from a harmful environment is a recurring theme in the life of black men. It has nothing to do with football, or Sean Taylor or even sports. To frame it as a sports issue is as insulting as it is naive. Most of us, perhaps even the great majority of us who grew up in big urban communities, have to make a decision at some point to hang out or get out.

The kid who becomes a pharmaceutical rep has the same call to make as the lawyer or delivery guy or accountant or sportswriter or football player: Cut off anybody who might do harm, even those who have been friends from the sandbox, or go along to get along.

Mainstream folks — and, yes, this is a code word for white folks — see high-profile athletes dealing with this dilemma and think it’s specific to them, while black folks know it’s everyday stuff for everybody, for kids with aspirations of all kinds — even for a middle-class kid with a police-chief father, such as Taylor — from South Central to Southeast to the South Side. Some do, some don’t. Some will, some won’t. Some can, some cannot. Often it’s gut-wrenching. Usually, it’s necessary. For some, it takes a little bit too long.

That’s a lot to think about.. join us at 1pm today, and leave your thoughts here, as well.

Also, check out the Sports Illustrated article that helped get us thinking about all of these things today.  It’s called “The Road to Bad Newz” and written by one of today’s guests, Farrell Evans, and George Dohrmann.

-Justin


11/27/07 Mountaintop Removal Mining

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*click here to listen to this show (might take a minute to load)

Ever wonder where the electricity in your home comes from?  Go to this website, type in your zipcode, and within seconds you can see the power plants on your grid.  They’ll also tell you if they use any coal taken from mountaintop removal mines, and show you where those mines are.

We have some pictures to go along with the show, because this is something you have to see to fully grasp, courtesy of photographer Antrim Caskey.  She took the picture above, and you can click here for more of her pictures from West Virginia.

Many of the guests who’ll be on this program will also be at The Charles Theater tonight (Tuesday) for a screening of Black Diamonds at 7pm.  The documentary, directed by Catherine Pancake, "charts the escalating drama in Appalachian states surrounding the increase in massive mountaintop removal coal mines that supply cheap coal to the US and Europe. The film documents one of the most radical, environmental grassroots movements in the US today as impoverished local citizens fight to end the destruction of their mountain vistas, communities, and culture."  It’s a fundraiser for Coal River Mountain Watch, and there’s more info here.

Here’s the rundown on the guests:

-Justin


11/19/07 Holiday Cooking

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First, a disclosure.  Having become vegetarian and then learned to cook, in that order, I’ve never cooked a turkey.  Still, Thanksgiving is 3 days away, and at 1pm today we’ll be talking about cooking all sorts of things, including turkey, I’m sure.  What are your favorite holiday recipes and family traditions, when it comes to eating?  Share them here and on the air today, and have a great holiday!

-Justin


11/14/07 TV writers on strike!

It’s not the usual group of workers you’d expect to go on strike, not the auto workers, or municipal workers in some far off part of South America or Europe.  Members of the Writers Guild of America, tv and film writers, walked out over a new contract dispute.  They want to update their residuals payments to reflect the increasingly popularity of tv shows being streamed online, often free of charge to the viewer.

Interesting, the intersection of technology, media, labor……

So, will the next season of your favorite show be on as expected?  How much longer will the strike last?  Will our tv’s be sitting in the basement next to our old vcr’s soon, as we watch everything on our computers?  Joining us to answer all of your questions will be Baltimore Sun tv critic David Zurawick, at 1pm.

-Justin


11/14/07 Shodekeh

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Baltimore’s premier practictioner of the art of the human beatbox, Shodekeh, will be here at 1:30pm today.  If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, check out www.beatboxing.com for some background on beatboxing.  Shodekeh has a page on there here that will tell you more about him.  And check out his myspace page, as well, for some live videos, including one performing with KRS-1, and a piece on Shodekeh done by WYPR’s own Aaron Henkin for The Signal.

-Justin


11/13/07 SNOOP

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Snoop is possibly the most terrifying character on The Wire.  She looks like she’s about 12 years old, she’s completely androgynous, she’s got the strangest, almost alien-sounding voice, and she kills people in a completely matter of fact way like it’s nothing.

Felicia Pearson drew on her own experiences, which she documents in her new memoir, Grace After Midnight, to create the character she plays.  Just how much of her own experiences?  Well, she grew up with a foster family in East Baltimore, got involved in the drug game, and wound up in prison for murder.  Her book is full of some real-life terrifying stories, like the first time she visited her real mom’s house after being put into foster care.  Her mom screamed at her, maybe 8 years old, to take off all of her clothes and then locked her in a closet.  She cried until she passed out, and woke up to find out that her mom had taken her clothes and sold them for crack.

I’ll leave the rest of the stories for her to tell today.  She’ll be here for an hour at 1pm.. do not miss..

-Justin


11/13/07 David Kaczynski

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What would you do if you realized your brother was the Unabomber?  Not a question most people have had to answer, but you can find out what it was like from someone who has at 12:30pm today.  After we check in on the goings on in Annapolis, as the special session heads toward a close as early as the end of the week, we’ll be joined by David Kaczynski.

After the Unabomber’s Manifesto was published in the NY Times and Washington Post, David recognized his brother’s writing style and was faced with an agonizing decision, which would change the course of his life completely.  Join us to find out what happened, and about the work that David is currently doing as executive director of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty.

-Justin


11/12/07 Veteran’s Day (observed)

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What does it mean to go to war?  How does a society decide to go to war?  Is there such thing as a good war?  How about a necessary war?  What is the cost of war to those who fight it, and those who survive it?  Is an end to war a realistic thing to hope for?

What have we learned from struggles to wage war, and struggles to wage peace, in the past?  What can we learn from today’s conflicts?

We’ll be reflecting on these questions, and maybe a few others, with veterans of war and veterans of the peace movement, and at least one person who is both of those things.

-Justin


What’s on tap today?

As has been the case the first three days of the week, we have a show with many different parts to it.  Any thoughts on that – have you noticed?  do you like it? – are welcome.

We’re starting off the hour with a look at Baltimore’s foster care system, which, no one would argue, is in need of some huge reforms.  A class action suit was brought on behalf of 2,500 foster children in 1984.  In 1988, the court entered a comprehensive consent decree requiring reforms, and nearly 20 years later we’re still waiting for those reforms.  Change doesn’t happen overnight, but two decades is a long time by anyone’s standards.  If you’re unfamiliar with this lawsuit, or the foster care situation here in general, a good place to start would be this article from Tuesday’s Sun.

Then we’ll hear from House Speaker Mike Busch, live from Annapolis, for an update on the special session.  Following that, we’ll leave some time for our listeners’ thoughts on the special session, so get your thoughts and questions ready by 1pm.

Lastly, we’ll be joined by Elbridge James.  He’s the director of the Maryland Black Family Alliance, a new group of black politicians, ministers, and activists seeking to promote “fairness, justice, and equality for all families” aka legalization of same-sex marriage.

-Justin


11/06/07 Education.. and More Education.

A couple weeks back, I was reading this article in The Sun, “Towson scraps gender effort,” and came upon a statistic that really surprised me.  Apparently, 42% of US college students are male, 58% female.  I had no idea there was such a big gender gap.  We’re going to be looking at the reasons behind that in the first part of today’s show.

The education theme will continue as we debate possible education funding cuts in the proposed state budget, and also host a teachers’ roundtable to continue the conversations from earlier in the show from a teacher’s perspective, as well as look at other issues that are important to teachers.  A new contract, maybe?

-Justin


11/05/07 Child Refugees

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This picture was taken in a refugee camp in Kenya in 2003, where Sudanese refugees wound up after fleeing first their own country, and then refugee camps where they had settled in Ethiopia.  For more on their story, see this article.

It’s written by Charles London, who’ll be joining us from 1-2pm today.  Charles left Baltimore, where he grew up, to work for Refugees International.  His experiences led him to write a book called One Day the Soldiers Came, in which he tells the stories of children displaced by war who he met over the past few years.

He was in Burma during the recent unrest there.  He recorded his observations in a piece for the NY Times magazines; that piece is here.

One more thing to check out.. Charles was interviewed on All Things Considered recently; that interview is here

-Justin


11/1/07 Tune in today….

…to hear two more interesting conversations that, like yesterday’s show, if you missed the first time, you won’t want to miss again.  A couple of months ago we had a show about the digital divide, with a focus on how it plays out in Baltimore’s economy.  We’ll be airing that for a second time at noon today.  See the original blog post, and comments, here.

A couple weeks ago Garrison Keillor came and spent most of the the day at WYPR during a trip to Baltimore.  For a genuinely touching piece Keillor wrote about his recent visit here, check out this column on salon.com.  At one, we’ll rebroadcast his appearance on The Marc Steiner Show.  You can see the original blog post for that show here.

-Justin


10/31/07 Free Speech: Waters, Nader, Thomas

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Last month MICA and the Maryland ACLU teamed up to put together a rather unusual celebration for Constitution Day, a holiday that not many people bother to celebrate in the first place.  They put together an event devoted to the First Amendment, and the right of free speech.  Who better to speak on this topic than the trio of John Waters, Ralph Nader, and Helen Thomas?  That’s what someone thought, at least, and they were all brought together for a couple hours.  It turned out great; the auditorium at MICA couldn’t even fit everyone who tried to get in.  So, for those of you that missed it the first time, we’ll be playing it as a two hour special, from noon-2, on The Marc Steiner Show today.  To hear the complete version, because we had to cut a little bit for time and edit a few words here and there, ironically enough, just go to www.wypr.org and download the podcast anytime in the next month.

-Justin


thoughts from Sarbanes after today’s show

Michael Sarbanes was kind enough to sit down in the next studio over with WYPR senior news producer, Mary Rose Madden, right after the Marc Steiner Show today.  Click here for the audio of their conversation, which includes additional ideas from him on the land bank plan, including any loose ends that he felt were left at the end of the show.

-Justin


10/30/07 New City Council Members

Assuming each of these Democrat nominees wins the general election next month, there will be four newly elected City Council members in Baltimore.  Today at 1pm you’ll have a chance to find out more about three of them, and the ideas they will be bringing to the City Council.  Sharon Middleton is already serving on the Council, having been appointed to fill a seat left vacant last January.  She’ll be here along with newbies Bill Cole and Bill Henry.

As for the fourth, Warren Branch, he’ll remain a bit of a mystery to our listeners, but not for lack of an invitation.  You can read an article here in The Sun about the city public works inspector’s primary victory over incumbent Vernon Crider by a mere 51 votes.  If you’re googling him, don’t confuse him with bodybuilder Branch Warren.

-Justin


10/30/07 Land Bank

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 Some interesting stats on vacant houses and property in Baltimore:

  • 13% of the total property in the city is abandoned

  • there are about 30,ooo abandoned buildings and lots in Baltimore

  • the city owns about 1/3 of the abandoned property

  • the city owns about 4,000 abandoned buildings and 6,000 abandoned lots

  • the city owns about 25% of vacant buildings

All of these figures are taken from here, the Housing Authority’s “A Plan to Create The Baltimore City Land Bank.”  Basically, the city is planning to sell many of its vacant properties cheaply as soon as next July.  The city is also planning to acquire more vacant properties, with the intention of selling them, as well.

If you’re wondering if and how you’ll be able to buy a cheap house to fix up, tune in at noon today, when the author of the Land Bank Plan and the head of Baltimore Housing, as well as housing activist Michael Sarbanes, will be here to help us figure out how this is all going to work.

And for a look at a land bank program that has already been implemented in Flint, Michigan, another town full of abandoned properties, take a listen to this story from Morning Edition today.

-Justin


10/29/07 Special Session Begins Today!

A special legislative session begins in Annapolis today, and while that might not be the most exciting news to everyone, it may end up having an impact on your daily life in more ways than one.  The goal of the session is to work toward balancing the state budget, which means finding more revenue than the state is currently taking in.  So, by the time it’s over, we could see things like an increase in different kinds of taxes, whether it be sales tax, personal income tax, or business taxes.  Once again, for the millionth time, bringing slots to Maryland will be considered and debated, with the possibility of a statewide voter referendum.

This hour we’ll be focusing on the business side of the equation.  Are businesses taxed fairly?  What that means depends who you ask, of course, so at noon we’ll be seeking some varied opinions.  Call in or write us here to let us know what you think.

An article in the Wall Street Journal last week about Wal Mart’s agressive strategies to cut their state income tax bills got us talking about some of the ideas we’ll be exploring today.  Wall Street Journal doesn’t have free online archives, but thanks to walmartwatch.com the article is reprinted here in its entirety, along with other related articles.

-Justin


10/25/07 Roger Kamenetz

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You may have heard Marc interview Roger Kamenetz in the past.  He’s best known for two of his books, The Jew in The Lotus and Stalking Elijah.  His newest book is all about interpreting dreams in the context of spirituality.  It’s called The History of Last Night’s Dream.

It’s crazy to think that we all spend about a third of our lives asleep, and who knows how much of that time dreaming, but most of us give it so little thought during the other two thirds of our lives, when we’re awake.  I rarely remember my dreams past the moment I wake up, but if anyone has had any interesting experiences with dreams lately, we’d love to hear about it.

-Justin


10/24/07 Paul Krugman

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Of all the people in the world who love to spout off about politics, few make a living doing it.  Even fewer get paid to do it in The New York Times twice a week.  This Paul Krugman must be a pretty smart guy.

He certainly has a lot to say.  Click here to see his work for The NY Times, and also a link to Krugman on The Colbert Report!  Click here for his own page with an extremely extensive archive of his writing.  There is even an official Krugman site with tons of archives, other people’s writing about Krugman, and much more.  Click here for that.

Lastly, for a review of his new book, The Conscience of a Liberal, on salon.com, click here.

And, of course, tune in at noon today to here Paul Krugman on The Marc Steiner Show, then share your thoughts right here.

-Justin


10/18/07 Baltimore Teachers’ Contract Dispute

Main Entry: im·passe Listen to the pronunciation of impasse

Pronunciation:
\ˈim-ˌpas, im-ˈ\
Function:
noun
Etymology:
French, from in- + passer to pass
Date:
1851

1 a: a predicament affording no obvious escape b: deadlock2: an impassable road or way : cul-de-sac

Thanks to Webster’s for the above definition.  Impasse is the word of choice for the contract dispute between the Baltimore Teachers Union and the Baltimore City Public School System.  If you are not a teacher or school administrator, you might be wondering what is such a big deal about some planning time that it is stalling the entire contract negotiation process, leaving teachers working without contracts.

I’m sure that our two guests today, BCPSS CEO Andres Alonso, and BTU President Marietta English can shed some light on the issue for you.  We’d love to hear thoughts from parents, students, teachers, and school administrators about how they view this dispute, and how the impasse is effecting them.  Call 410-662-8780 during the show at noon today, or leave your thoughts here on the blog!

Poll: Who should have their way in this situation?

-Justin


10-17-07 Food and Kids… and School.

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If this picture triggers horrible flashbacks to your school cafeteria lunch days, I’m sorry.  If this picture looks like your lunch today, I’m also sorry.  If this picture is making you hungry and you’re offended by the first two sentences, I’m sorry, as well.

I never had cafeterias in my elementary schools, so I always had to bring lunch to school.  So, I don’t have memories of frozen peas, carrots, corn, processed meat, cheese, white bread, boxes of milk, and whatever the hell is in the top right corner of that tray.  Jello?  Probably…

The contradiction between people’s desires to raise healthy kids and the food we feed kids, whether in school or at home, is one of those things you might not ever think about, but once you do, it’s hard not to wonder what on earth we’re doing.  If we want kids to be healthy, why are school lunches notoriously unhealthy?  Why are kids menus full of fried, greasy, fatty foods like pizza, french fries, and chicken nuggets?  Why do we assume these are the types of foods that kids naturally like?

At 1pm today, we’ll talk about some different approaches to feeding kids, again, both in and out of school.  For some interesting ideas, check out The Food Studies Institute, started by one of our guests today, Antonia Demas.

If you’re a parent, what have your experiences been when it comes to feeding your kids?  Are you happy with the food that they’re given in school?

-Justin


10-16-07 The Story of Tibet

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The Dalai Lama is in DC this week receiving the Congressional Gold Medal Award.  Bush will become the first US President to appear publicly with the Dalai Lama, which is kind of funny in a twisted way, but not to the Chinese government.

Thomas Laird is going to be in DC for the occasion, and while he’s there, he’s making a trip up to Baltimore to join us in the studio at 1pm today.  He has spent years living in Asia and written extensively about Tibet.  His book The Story of Tibet is an oral history of the country as told to him by the Dalai Lama himself over the course of many visits to Dharamsala.

Funny side note:  there is a small community of Tibetan Monks in East Baltimore, including one who fled Tibet with the Dalai Lama.  We were hoping to have him and some of the others also join us for the show today, but they’re all in DC with His Holiness.

-Justin


10/11/07 Voices of Lombard Street

Lombard Street, back in the day

Lots of people pitch show ideas to us all of the time.  Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re not, but we only have so many hours in a week, and we could never get to them all even if we wanted to.

The idea for his hour’s show came to us from the Jewish Museum of Maryland, who want to promote a new exhibit they have opening on Sunday.  In general, if someone is pitching an idea that is a thinly vailed promotion, I would politely decline.  In this case, however, I realized this idea had some great potential for us.

The exhibit is called “Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore.”  The idea of actually bringing together a group of people with deep roots in one neighborhood, so that we could explore the history of the neighborhood from a personal level, is what really appealed to me in putting this hour together.  In a place like Baltimore, the combination of neighborhood histories and personal stories always makes for something interesting.

If you, or someone in your family, grew up around East Lombard Street, have memories of the area at different times, or live there today, we’d love to hear from you.  As always, you can call or email while we’re on the air at 1pm today, and also leave your stories here.

We’re thinking about adding a new segment on the air in which we’ll read emails and blog posts from listeners reflecting on shows that have already aired either later in the week or the following week.  So, don’t hesitate to keep writing after each show.

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-Justin


10/10/07 Edward P. Jones

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It’s my pleasure to announce that Ed Jones will be joining us in the studio today.  I think his work speaks for itself.  If you haven’t read him, yet, check out The Known World, Lost in the City, or All Aunt Hagar’s Children.  And listen to what he has to say today.

-Justin


10/09/09 Mike Busch

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Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates Mike Busch joins us live from his office in Annapolis at noon today.  Expect talk of balancing the state budget, O’Malley’s plan which includes slots and tax increases, and maybe a few wild card questions.  What would those be?  You’ll have to tune in to find out..

-Justin


10-08-07 Slots?

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Are slots coming to Maryland?  The Governor hopes so, because he needs to raise some money to cover the state’s budget deficit, and the less he has to raise taxes, the happier we all are.  Slots have been a politically divisive issue for years, though, and bringing them here is far from a done deal, yet.

Marc has been covering slots and gambling, discussing how, when, if, why, and where they might find a home in Maryland as long as he’s been on the air, and today the debate continues.  We’re joined by Ron Wineholt from the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, Aaron Meisner from Stop Slots Maryland, and James Karmel, a history professor from Harford Community College with a new book on the way called Gambling on the American Dream: Atlantic City and the Casino Era.

-Justin


10/4/07 O’Malley on Gay Marriage… City Teachers’ Contract Impasse

Many thought Maryland would join the small list of states to allow gay marriage until the Court of Appeals made a decision upholding the ban two weeks ago.  Some have questioned whether Governor O’Malley has changed his position on the issue over time.  See this article in The Washington Blade, as one example.

There’s a clip from WJZ in October of 2004 in which, referring to gay marriage, O’Malley, then Mayor of Baltimore, says “I’m certainly not opposed to it.”  Not necessarily wholehearted support, but maybe moreso than his statement following the court’s decision, quoted here in The Washington Blade article mentioned above:

“I look forward to reading the Court’s full opinion, but as we move forward, those of us with the responsibility of passing and enforcing laws have an obligation to protect the rights of all individuals equally, without telling any faith how to define its sacraments,” O’Malley said in a statement following a request from the Blade for comment. “I respect the Court’s decision.”

O’Malley addresses the controversy around his position on gay marriage at the beginning of our show today, and then one of the lead plaintiffs in the case that sought to legalize gay marriage in Maryland, Lisa Polyak, joins us to respond.

Also, in the noon hour, you can hear about the ongoing dispute over teacher contract negotiations in Baltimore.  They’ve reached an impasse over the logistics of adding a mandatory collaborative planning period into teachers’ schedules.

We separately interviewed the two key players, Andres Alonso, CEO of BCPSS, and Marietta English, President of the Baltimore Teacher’s Union.  More info from The Sun here.

Teachers, parents, students, administrators, objective third parties, supporters and opponents of gay marriage, please, leave us your thoughts here.

-Justin


10/3/07 Rob Gifford – China Road

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Before Rob Gifford got his current job as NPR London Bureau Chief, he spent six years as NPR’s Beijing correspondent.  While there, he made the 3,000 mile journey from east to west along China’s Route 312.  Then he wrote a book about it, China Road.  Rob joins us via ISDN from London today to tell us all about his exotic roadtrip, his time in China, and to share some observations about China’s present and future role as growing world superpower.

While you’re listening, you can go to Rob’s site to see some pictures from China, like the one below, taken by Patrick Fraser.  Click here to go right to the pics.

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-Justin


9/3 Columnists/Reporters on Crime

Statistics show the murder rate in Baltimore could reach three hundred by the end of the year. Our metropolitan neighbor to the north, Philadelphia, has already passed that number. This fall, both cities are facing mayoral elecions where crime, specifically the rise in homicides, is one of the leading issues.

Down south, in New Orleans, has returned to its pre-Katrina homicide rate. Once again, we’ll discuss how these cities are dealing with the increase in crime, from the viewpoints of reporters and columnists in Baltimore, Philadelphia and New Orleans.

                                                                                                                                     -Marcus

Click on each journalist’s name for a link to their writing:

Gus Sentementes – Baltimore Sun

Annette John-Hall – Philadelphia Inquirer

Allen Johnson Jr. – New Orleans freelancer

-Justin


cute kitten, as promised

Not long ago, I mentioned there would be some forthcoming pictures of a cute kitten.  We had BARCS on, and they brought this great puppy, and hopefully it inspired some people to do something nice for an animal, like maybe adopt one from the shelter.  We got this kitten from our neighbors, who obviously didn’t have their cat fixed.  Maybe they’re pro-life.

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And now, a serious question, which picture is the cutest?  Cast your vote here.

-Justin


10/01/07 Public Housing

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 The varied face of public housing in Baltimore.. the above pictures are all from different public housing developments, or projects, in the city.  From top to bottom, we have Somerset Homes, O’Donnell Heights, Latrobe, and Cherry Hill.

The Baltimore Housing Authority has been on the defensive lately, starting with an article in The Sun last week questioning their use of funds to demolish certain housing projects without plans to rebuild them, or replace the lost units of housing elsewhere.  That raised objections from a few people, including Congressman Cummings.

Then, The Abell Foundation released a study yesterday, authored by Joan Jacobson, entitled “The Dismantling of Baltimore’s Public Housing.”  Maybe you can tell by the title, it offered some criticism.  Included in the report is a candid rebuttal by the Housing Authority, which is actually longer than the study itself.

We’re bringing together some of the key players today, with some different ideas of how to meet the challenge of providing housing for the poorest in our city.  If you have 2 cents to throw in, we’d be curious to hear it.

-Justin


9/24/07 Jena 6, and Edwidge Danticat

Today at Noon we discussed what is going on in Jena, Louisiana, and what it means for the entire country, and for race relations.  How will this particular event go down in history?  Can Jena be redeemed?

And then…

How do you get to be known as “legendary” while still in your 30’s?  I don’t know, but I guess Edwidge Danticat does, because she has accomplished this.  She joined us to discuss her new book, a memoir.  It begins on a day in September of 2004 when she learned that her father was dying and that she was pregnant.  From there it moves to her childhood, and her emigration to the U.S. 

Hope you enjoyed it!

-Jessica

For more info about Jena 6, click on the names below to go to a couple of other blogs that were mentioned during the show today:

Friends of Justice (Alan Bean)

Southern Poverty Law Center

-Justin


9/20/07 Robert D. Kaplan

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Whether or not you agree with Robert Kaplan’s politcal opinions and worldview, which are undoubtedly controversial, a couple points are hard to argue.

He’s highly influential, not only through his prolific writing, which includes a dozen books and twenty years worth of features and op-eds in everything from the NY Times to The Washington Post to military journals to The Atlantic Monthly, where he serves as correspondent, but also through the role he has played as advisor to the US government and military.

He’s a great writer, always conveying a wealth of information in a way that is both literary in style and readable.  He does a great job of combining on-the-ground reporting, history, politics, travel writing, and literary references with his own forward-thinking analysis.

That said, you can decide for yourself what you think of Kaplan’s opinions.  Click here for an archive of his articles for The Atlantic Monthly.  His most recent book is Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts.  I would strongly recommend one of his earlier books, Balkan Ghosts, an in depth look at the tumultuous Balkans.

Leave your comments here to let us know what you think of today’s interview and any of Kaplan’s writing that you may have read.

-Justin


9/19/07 Health Care Reform

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Before we get to the cute puppies at 1pm, we’ll be taking a look at health care reform.  You can never have enough pictures of cute puppies, though.  If anyone would like to share any of their own, please feel free.  Actually, I should post some pictures of the new kitten in my house that’s about 7 weeks old, talk about cute.  Check in soon for those.

I know everyone has a lot to say about health care reform, not to mention a lot of questions.  Today, we’ll be discussing different ideas for reform, the possibility of a single payer system, what the presidential candidates are talking about, and much more.  So, call or write in with your own thoughts, ok?  Thanks.

-Justin


9/18/07 Rumi Turns 800!

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September 30, 2007 will mark the 800th anniversary of the great Sufi mystic poet Rumi.  A number like 800 deserves more than one day of celebration, so we’ll be starting ours at 1pm today with Coleman Barks, who has done the finest English-language Rumi translations that I have read.

If you already are familiar with Rumi’s tremendous body of work, I don’t need to write anything else here.  If not, I hope you’ll have a chance to hear today’s show.  There’s plenty of Rumi’s writing, as well as information about him online, as well.  Click here for one good place to start.

-Justin


9/17/07 Iraq Correspondents Panel

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Reporting from Iraq, not everyone’s idea of a choice job.  Despite the obvious risks, some people wouldn’t have it any other way.  One of our guests this hour, The Washington Post’s Baghdad Bureau Chief Sudarsan Raghavan, has been on with us a couple times before.  Last time, his hearing was damaged from a bomb blast in the Green Zone that he was caught in the middle of.  I remember him talking about whether he considered leaving Iraq after that, and it sounded like he really felt compelled to stay.  Check out his articles here.

Two other reporters are joining us for the first time today, Gordon Lubold from the Christian Science Monitor and Tina Susman from the LA Times.  Just click on their names to see what they’ve been writing.

Hopefully, we’ll have an hour today that goes beyond all of the political rhetoric on Iraq  last week, from Petraeus and Crocker’s testimony to Bush’s speech, and helps us gain an understanding of what is really going on there.

-Justin


9/12/07 Bo Lozoff

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I was trying to figure out how to describe our guest for 1pm today, which isn’t easy.  It seems like he has a lot of pursuits going on, with a common underlying motivation, but not anything that fits into the usual categories.  Then I found a mention on this website of an award he won that seems to sum it all up: The Temple Award for Creative Altruism.  You can learn more about the award and the institute behind it here.  It was the phrase “creative altruism” that struck me, though.  That seems to be the common thread in his works, whether doing prisoner outreach, writing books and music, starting the first biodiesel processing nonprofit in his home state of North Carolina, and more, which we’ll hear about today.

-Justin


9/11/07 Petraeus and Crocker

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First of all, is it just me, or does “General Petraeus” sound like a character from The Aeneid or some other Greek war epic?  It’s a strange contrast with “Ambassador Crocker.”

Secondly, the attention seems to really be focused on him, as opposed to Ambassador Crocker.  Maybe Crocker feels slighted, or maybe he’s happy to avoid the harsh glare of the spotlight.  Either way, here are a couple takes on our willingness to trust military opinion on the war moreso than political opinion: one from the NY Times yesterday and one from The Center for Media and Democracy.

Here is the transcript of Petraeus’ testimony yesterday and here is the transcript of Crocker’s testimony yesterday.

Today is Patriot Day, a national holiday.  Wikipedia has an interesting article on it here.  Yes, there are greeting cards available, even e-cards.

-Justin


9/10/07 The next Mayor of Baltimore is…

…we’ll find out tomorrow.  In the meantime, it’s time to figure out who to vote for.  If you haven’t done your homework, yet, and are wondering what the mayoral candidates have to say, you can hear four of them for half an hour each on today’s show: Andrey Bundley, Jill Carter, Sheila Dixon, and Keiffer Mitchell.

If you’re looking to really go in depth, check out the new, ever-expanding page of election coverage we’ve been putting together on wypr.org.

-Justin


9/5/07 Forward-Thinking… and Nancy Grasmick

I’ll leave it up to you to make a connection between the two topics of our show today.

The new school year is underway, and we continue our educational coverage at 1pm with Nancy Grasmick, the State Superintendent of Schools.  For Maryland, of course.

But first at noon, we have a more, perhaps, abstract hour of thought.  It started with Bob Herbert’s editorial in last Saturday’s NY Times called “Anxious About Tomorrow.”  It got us thinking about the huge changes in US society, ranging anywhere from health care, to technology, to education, to our whole polical system and economy… everything, basically.  Are our current politcal and social institutions fit to adapt to these changes?

We’ll be trying to get the bottom of these and other small questions in an hour today.

-Justin


9/3/07 Labor Day

Happy Labor Day folks!

We’re celebrating by taking the day off and putting on a couple choice interviews that you might have missed earlier this summer.

At noon, we have an in-depth look at the history of the Pentagon.  The interview is with Steve Vogel, a reporter at The Washington Post and author of a book fittingly called The Pentagon: A History.  It actually has a longer, second subtitle as well: The Untold Story of the Wartime Race to Build The Pentagon – And to Restore It Sixty Years Later.

At one, we have a guest who should need little introduction, Michael Chabon.  Here him talk about his novels, including The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and his most recent book, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, as well as his enthusiasm for Barack Obama and plenty more.

Also, keep an eye on our website this week for the premier of a new section featuring behind the scenes videos of the campaigns leading up to the Baltimore Primary Elections, and our coverage of them.  We’re all thrilled to see the dialogue taking place here after the mayoral debate on Tuesday.. hope to see more as the election draws near.

-Justin


8/30/07 The Digital Divide

Interesting story of how this show came to be..

I keep a list of ideas for possible future shows.  Marc had an idea last fall about “expanding/democraticizing internet access.”  Months passed, and nothing came of it.  Then, earlier this summer, a friend of a friend named Pete showed up to play basketball at my house one evening.  He was telling me about his job as a research associate for a non-profit in DC that works to improve internet accessibility in the US.  I was telling him about my job here, and then realized he was the perfect person to talk to about this show idea from long ago.

Fast forward, Pete hooked me up with a ton of information and other people to talk to in planning a show about the digital divide, and why it matters that people have fast and affordable internet access.  It’s crazy to look at how quickly a lot of other countries have progressed in this area, while the US has been dropping further and further behind.  The internet was invented here, but while other countries have treated as a neccessary part of infrastructure that government should ensure is developed, we have treated it like a luxury commodity, allowing the big telecommunications companies to make huge profits but not ensuring that our population is best served.

Time for the show.. hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say afterwards.

-Justin


8/28/07 Linda Perlstein 1pm

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Back to school.. never my favorite time of the year.  So, I’m thankful that as students from nursery school to grad school go back to school this time of year, I’m not among them.

That being the case, I wouldn’t have chosen to do what author Linda Perlstein did.  She spent a year immersed in the life of Tyler Heights Elementary School in Annapolis.  Her book, Tested: One American School Struggles To Make The Grade, chronicles the time she spent there.  Its focus is on the effect No Child Left Behind, and the increased focus on standardized testing in education, is having on school administrators, teachers, and most importantly, students.

Public education in the US has changed a lot in just the past few years.  If you have first-hand experience with those changes, as a student, parent, teacher, or through any other perspective, we welcome your thoughts, as always.

-Justin


The Other News Out There

On Tuesday, author Linda Perlstein is coming on the show.  I was looking up reviews for her new book Tested, which led me to Newsday’s site.  The headline of their current “most emailed” story caught my attention: “Televangelist Bynum recovering after attack.”  Another click revealed that it is also currently their “most viewed” story.  I was intrigued enough to read it, but it’s strange to think about what captures people’s short attention spans these days…

-Justin


07/31/07 Ex-Felons’ Voting Rights

Should someone who has been convicted of a felony be allowed to vote after they finish their sentence and return home from prison?

The laws governing ex-felons voting rights vary from state to state, and many have changed in the last few years.  Ex-felons can now vote in most states, now including Maryland as of this year.

It makes sense to me that someone deserves to have the choice to vote after they’ve finished a prison sentence, whatever their crime was.  Any other argument aside for the moment, aren’t prisons supposed to offer a chance for reform and rehabilitiation?

I’ve heard arguments otherwise, though, including on the show today.  One caller suggested that offering ex-felons voting rights amounts to an attack on The Republican Party, based on his assumption that most ex-felons would vote Democrat.

Any thoughts?

-Justin


07/23/07 Iraq, Iran, and Gee’s Bend

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First off today, Iraqi-born, Maryland-residing professor Adil Shamoo joins us to discuss where he would like to see US foreign policy in Iraq go from here.  Here’s his July 16 editorial from The Sun: “America Should Leave Iraq, But For the Right Reasons.”

Then, we’ll hear about the long history of struggle for democracy within Iran.  Our guests are Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson.  They are husband and wife, and co-authors of both the book Foucault and The Iranian Revolution: Gender and The Seductions of Islamism and the recent article in The Nation magazine “The Iranian Impasse.”

Lastly, anyone been to The Walters Museum lately and seen The Gee’s Bend exhibit?  Tune in to hear an interview with Louisiana Bendolph and Mary Lee Bendolph, two of the quilters from Gee’s Bend, as well as Linda Day Clark, whose photographs from Gee’s Bend make up an accompanying exhibit.

-Justin

 


07/19/07 Open Phones and Harry Potter

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Two shows in one blog post.

At noon we’ll have our monthly installment of open phones.  If you want to get your ideas for discussion in early, comment here and we’ll see what you have to say before we go on the air!

Then at one, we’ll join in the frenzy of anticipation for the new Harry Potter book, which is going to be out at midnight on Friday.  I learned all about how closely guarded a secret this book is being kept until then when I looked into getting an advance review copy.  Turns out there’s no such thing; I guess they don’t need to worry about a lack of publicity.  So, it leaves us to speculate about what is going to happen in the last book.  We’ll also hear some ideas about what you and your kids can read once you’ve exhausted the Harry Potter collection.

 -Justin

 Here’s a list of books that were discussed today:

  • Harry Potter Series
  • Chronicles of Narnia
  • Phillip Pullman’s books
  • Lion Boy series
  • Inheritance trilogy – Christopher Paolini
  • Twilight and New Moon – Stephanie Myers
  • Coraline – Gaiman
  • Wizards Hall – Jane Yolen
  • So you want to be a Wizard – Diane duane
  • The Great Stalk and Company – Kipling
  • The Omen – Terry Prachett
  • Good Omens – Neil Gauman
  • The House of the Scorpion – Nancy Farmer
  • Mercedes Lackey – Tamora Pierce
  • Bartimaeus Trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  • Mike Lupica
  • Matt Christopher
  • The Dangerous Book for Boys
  • The Spy Handbook
  • The Redwall Series – Brian Jacques
  • Enid Blyton’s books
  • Discworld Series – Terry Pratchett
  • Lloyd Alexander’s books

06/26/07 noon Eastern Shore Development

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First off, a geography test.  Can you find the Eastern Shore on this map?

While much of The Eastern Shore is still full of small towns and farms, places like Kent County and Worcester County have seen large population growth and increasingly widespread development.  This hour we’ll be looking at some of the concerns accompanying current development projects around the region.

As Jessica is from Ocean City, perhaps she has more to add here.

 -Justin


06/26/07 1pm Commuting

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How much time do you spend getting to and from work every day?  What else would you like to be doing with that time, however much it may be?

Our show this hour will be focused on commuting, so if you need to vent, now’s your chance.  Seems like commuting is something about which just about everyone has something to say, whether it be bragging about only having to walk two blocks to work or bragging about suffering through a two hour drive on congested highways.  We hope you’ll share your stories with us, both here and on the air.

A lot has been written about commuting.  Here’s a great article from The New Yorker a few issues back, There and Back Again: The Soul of the Commuter, by Nick Paumgarten.  It uses commuting as a medium for looking at some fundamental questions about our ability as humans to decide what is best for ourselves and what we do with our time.

-Justin


06/25/07 noon Some of our favorite recent articles and editorials…

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These pictures will make sense if you listen to the show on Monday, I promise.

This hour we’ll have interviews with the authors of some pieces that caught our attention in the papers lately, or in one case, online.  If you want to do some homework over the weekend, here’s a link to each one:

What Ted Stevens, Bolivian cocaine and Halliburton have in common by Michael Scherer on Salon.com

Parents’ paranoia takes toll on kids’ health, happiness by L.J. Williamson in The Baltimore Sun

New Lyrics for Israel by Adam Lebor in The New York Times

-Justin

 


06/25/07 1pm Camelia Entekhabifard

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Finished reading the articles for noon and looking for something else to read over the weekend?  Read the book that we’ll be discussing in the second hour on Monday with author Camelia Entekhabifard.  It’s called Camelia: Save Yourself By Telling the Truth, A Memoir of Iran. 

Camelia was born and raised in Tehran.  She has a pretty incredible story about being imprisoned there for her work as a journalist, and charming her way into an opportunity to flee the country after some horrible months in solitary confinement.

Now she lives in New York City and continues her work as a journalist around the world.  Just not in Iran.

-Justin


06/21/07 noon Cities With a Lot of Murders

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One city had more homicides per capita than Baltimore last year, Detroit.  Newark wasn’t far behind, barely beaten out for third by New Orleans.  This hour we talk with journalists from Detroit, Newark, and here in B-more who have been covering crime in their towns.

Violence is nothing new in any of these places.  How did it become such an entrenched part of their cultures?  How is each place dealing with the problem?  What can we learn from each other?

-Justin


06/21/07 1pm Stephanie Rawlings Blake

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Thanks to the City Paper for this artful shot of our current City Council President, taken back when she was City Council VP.  The article that it came from has this nice quote, as well: “I’m a workhorse, not a show horse.”

That said, the City Council President will be here today to discuss her bid to maintain her presidency in this fall’s election.  Tune in at 1pm.

-Justin


06/20/07 noon Maryland Politics

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I took this picture looking east from the top of Federal Hill recently.  Lots of cranes around the harbor, lots of development going on.

The plan for this hour is to talk about development around the city and state, along with other state political issues, with a focus on Maryland’s budget.

We have a group of journalists joining us for the discussion: Charles Robinson, statehouse reporter for MPT’s State Circle, Joanna Sullivan, editor of the Baltimore Business Journal and Blair Lee IV, columnist for The Gazette.

-Justin


06/19/07 noon David Frum

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We just wrapped up our hour with David Frum, conservative political commentator, author, and former speechwriter for our current president.  I was taking the calls and emails, and I have to say, we had some irate listeners.  If you heard Jerry from Pikesville’s call, you know what I’m talking about.

Along with some emotions, some interesting ideas came through.  Are we wrapped up in a liberal/conservative political divide to the detriment of our political discourse?  Are both sides doing anything more than boring each other to tears by repeating the same arguments/defenses over and over?  Is there any meaningful dialogue between the two sides amidst all the rhetoric?  How did we get to the point of viewing our political options as “two opposing sides?”

www.davidfrum.com is full of David’s writing, so you can take a look at his ideas and judge them for yourself.

-Justin


06/18/07 noon – The Baltimore Sun

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A view of the “Sun” Building at Baltimore and Charles Streets. It was built after the 1904 fire. The “Sun” moved in the 1950s to Calvert Street. The Baltimore and Charles Street building was demolished before 1962 for the Charles Center development project.”

Thanks to the Baltimore County Legacy Web for the picture and text above.

This hour some former Sun reporters, all of whom recently took a buyout, join us to talk about the Sun’s shrinking newsroom.  It’s nothing like the good-old-days on Charles Street, I’m sure.

-Justin


6/18/07 1pm John Feinstein

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Golf, anyone?

-Justin


06/14/07 1 pm Watching America

Tomorrow, get ready for an hour talking about planning for the influx of people coming into Maryland because of Base Realingment and Closure with Lietenaunt Governor Anthony Brown.

Scratch that. Elected officials are busy, and when your boss is the Governor and asks you to clear your schedule to come to a meeting, you listen! No harm, no foul. We’re working to schedule another date soon. Good thing we had a special super secret show in the works!!

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WatchingAmerica.com is a website I try and check on a daily basis. It’s a place where you can read articles from the foreign press about America. The people who run the website have dozens of articles translated each day from the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Russia, China, and more. In conversations with the founder of the website, William Kern, we thought that Watching America could translate into a radio special, too. So tomorrow we are putting some hurt on the phone bill at WYPR (which reminds me…are you a member yet?) and talking to foreign journalists around the world.

We’ll talk to:

  • Ahmad Khalidi, a co-editor of Mideast Mirror, a London-based daily, as well as the Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly Journal of Palestine Studies.
  • William Waack, a newscaster for O Globo, Brazil. He’s spent multiple decades as a reporter, editor, and international correspondent for the Brazillian Press.
  • Andrei Sitov, the Washington Bureau Chied for the Itar-Tass news agency of Russia.
  • and Hugh Williamson, the Berlin correspondent for the Financial Times since 2001.

We’ll be talking with them about how America is viewed by their audience and in their countries. What does the world think of our domestic debates over immigration? What does the world think of our scandals (federal prosecutor firings, Plamegate, etc.) Watchingamerica.com shows the foreign press writing about topics such as tensions between Iran and the U.S. (understandable; has consequences for the entire world) and Paris Hilton’s trip to, and from, and back to jail (less understandable; of course I care, and desperately, but why do they?)

Enjoy the show. It will be the first of many such programs on Watching America.

-Jessica

 I’m going to jump in here with a few quick words about this hour’s show.  I just came out of the studio, where we recorded the interview that will be played at 1pm.  The conversation never came around to Paris Hilton or any of the recent political scandals, but it did cover a lot of very interesting ground.  To find out the details, you’ll have to listen.  If you don’t catch it at 1pm, just go to http://www.wypr.org/M_Steiner.html.  We’ll have the audio up there as soon as possible.

We taped the show in advance in case we had any trouble with all of the international phone connections, and to better coordinate with schedules in so many time zones.  Since we won’t be taking calls as it airs, we’re really looking forward to some feedback right here!

-Justin


06/11/07 1 pm Morris Berman

Long time Steiner Show listeners may remember one of today’s guests from his last appearance on the show, July 20, 2000.  Cultural historian, social critic, author, teacher, and expatriate Morris Berman joins us by phone from his current home in Mexico City at 1pm today.  You can get some idea of the theme of his latest book from its title, Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire.

How much time does The United States have left in its position as a world-dominating superpower?  If its role were to change soon, would it be for better or for worse?

Depends who you ask, of course.  Morris Berman has written a whole book discussing these questions, and more.  Check out his blog here http://morrisberman.blogspot.com/

-Justin


06/07/07 Congressman Chris Van Hollen

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We’ve been hoping to have Congressman Chris Van Hollen on for a while.  It’s tough coordinating with those guys on Capitol Hill when they’re in session.  Unlike some of the Maryland delegation, he’s never been on The Marc Steiner Show.

That should change tomorrow, Thursday, at noon.  To read about the many roles Van Hollen is playing in Congress, check out his bio here: http://vanhollen.house.gov/HoR/MD08/Biography/

As always, we’ll be welcoming our listener’s questions and comments.  Start posting them here, or wait to call or email during the show tomorrow.

-Justin

 

(psst….this is Jessica, sneaking in with one for the ladies! )


“‘Ready to Blog’”

A week and a half ago when Jessica told us she had our long-awaited blog up and running, I thought, “Great, I’m ready to blog.”  Then I kept forgetting to get on it, as it’s not part of the daily routine, yet.

Today, I took a look at this page for the first time since it went up.  I had no idea Jessica had been so busy blogging away in the next room.  Good work.

I’m curious to know what listeners would like to see here.  Obviously, it seems like a good place to continue discussions that begin on the show.  We could do the same in reverse, as well, that is, start a discussion here that will continue on an upcoming show.  Thoughts about the BGE rate hike?  We’ll be discussing it again at noon on Wednesday; get us your ideas ahead of time right here.

Other ideas?  Predictions for The Ravens upcoming season?  Funny youtube videos?  Stories about our engineer Jon Ehrens?  I promised him I’d mention him on the blog.

Back to work,

-Justin