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January 31, 2008

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

January 31, 2008

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
January 30, 2008

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
January 30, 2008

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

January 29, 2008

1/29/08 Marc’s thoughts on today’s show

PAYING KIDS TO DO WELL Dr. Andres Alonso at noon Paying kids to do well on tests?!?!?!?!?!?!? My first visceral reaction was no way.  This is antithetical to what we all believe, that we should instill an intrinsic love of education.  Dr. Andres Alonso, CEO of Baltimore City Schools, is going to spend a million dollars, in part to pay kids in the 11th and 12th grade who failed one of the High School Assessment tests, if they improve their scores on future tests.   They will receive up to $110.00, depending on how much their scores improve.  Money will also be used to pay students to tutor other students. Some would argue, like Dan Rodricks, that middle and upper class families always bribe their kids with cash, dinner and objects of desire if they do well in school.  What is wrong with the city doing it for unmotivated kids also mired in poverty? Others argue it is a quick fix and a bribe that hides real issue of why students don’t have an intrinsic love of learning and why they lose in our schools. Is it a bad idea?  Looking forward to hearing what Dr. Alonso has to say.  Looking forward to what you have to say on air and on our blog.  BANISHED I was not amazed when I first heard that there was wholesale ethnic cleansing of African Americans from towns across America.  I was shocked when I found out that it occurred well into the depression era of the 1930’s. One of our guests, Marco Williams, recently made the movie Banished.  It's about the interactions of three Black families, who were descendents of the banished, and white people now living in those towns.   The issue of the day will be to find out what relevance this has on our lives now.  The Germans paid reparations to the Jews who survived the camps, the US paid reparations to the Japanese Americans and the descendents of those interned in camps during World War II.  Should the US do the same for those who are the descendents of those African Americans ethnically cleansed from their homes? Is it different because these are descendents of rather than the victims themselves?  Is monetary reparation the only possibility?  Does this give us as a society a chance for some reconciliation?  Is it just history, something for us to learn about and then let go? What do you think?  Call in or write in at one, or comment on the blog. Check with you later. -Marc
January 29, 2008

1/29/08 Dr. Andres Alonso and paying kids to perform

Did your parents ever give you an incentive to perform well in school?  As in, raise your grades and we'll raise your allowance?  Or, keep a certain GPA and we'll take you on a vacation?  Mine did.  Freshman year of college my mom wouldn't let me take my car to the campus first semester-and I wasn't allowed to bring it second semester unless I got a certain GPA.  I worked pretty hard to make sure I hit that GPA mark--I needed my car to escape campus every once in awhile. We all know that lots of parents do this.  But when the actual school system gets involved, we get very uncomfortable about the idea of learning having a cash/material reward system.  We want education to be pure-for students to be motivated by a love of learning-to learn for learning's sake.  But do we need to do a reality check? Do we need to abandon our high ideals and take a look at what is really going on, and maybe adopt a method that stems from a harm-reduction philosophy?  That's what we're talking about today at noon, with Dr. Andres Alonso, live and in studio.  Join us! Poll:  What do you think about Dr. Andres Alonso's idea that the school system pay students who improve their test scores? -Jessica
January 28, 2008

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
January 28, 2008

1/28/08 Black Conservatism

I remember in 2006 during the race for Maryland's vacant senate seat, a hot debate being sparked on our show when a guest said, "Any black person who votes for a Democrat in this election is a patsy."  Oh, the calls that came in for the rest of the hour-people were SO angry!  While it was a comment that probably could have been worded in a much more intelligent way, what it implied was interesting.  The implication was that the Democratic party was taking the African American vote for granted by not supporting the candidacy of Kweisi Mfume-and that blacks should vote for the Republican candidate, Michael Steele, an African American.  Most of the callers were offended by the very suggestion that the Republican agenda had anything to offer black voters. But according to statistics, more and more blacks are finding something about the Republican party to interest them. In 1972, fewer than 10 percent of African Americans identified themselves as conservative; today nearly 30 percent-11.2 million-do.  Those are the numbers presented by Christopher Alan Bracey in his new book, Saviors or Sellouts: The Promise and Peril of Black Conservatism, from Booker T. Washington to Condoleezza Rice. He points to the social issues that African Americans tend to be conservative on-abortion and gay marriage for example-and traces the history of politicla conservatism in the Black world. Figures like Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell--what appeal did they find in conservative politics?  Why do they remain such polarizing figures?  Join us today to discuss. -Jessica P.S. Go here for information on Bracey's event in Howard County this weekend!  
January 24, 2008

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
January 24, 2008

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
January 24, 2008

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