Andrea Appleton | WYPR

Andrea Appleton

Andrea no longer works for On The Record.

Andrea Appleton is a producer for On The Record. She comes to WYPR with years of experience as a freelance journalist filing stories for newspapers, magazines, and public radio. She has reported on topics ranging from bull riding to bionic fish, with an emphasis on science.  She is also former senior editor of the Baltimore City Paper, and a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism.

She and her husband live in Baltimore with their two young sons.

Courtesy of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives

Originally aired February 25, 2016

Frederick Douglass was an escaped slave, a gifted author and orator, and a champion of emancipation and civil rights. But here’s something you may not know: he was passionate about photography. In fact, Frederick Douglass was the 19th century’s most photographed man. Why was a man who devoted his life to ending slavery and racism so in love with photography? A book called “Picturing Frederick Douglass” explores that question. We’ll talk with John Stauffer, who co-authored the book. And we’ll meet Kenneth Morris, Jr., a Frederick Douglass descendant who is himself a modern-day abolitionist. Morris grew up surrounded by some of the 160 photos featured in the book. 

Center for a New American Security

Killer robots. That’s what some are calling a class of weapons that do not yet exist, but could one day soon. Formally known as lethal autonomous weapons, they would have the ability to choose and destroy targets on their own, with no human involvement. They could absorb data and take action at lightning speeds. Some argue that these weapons could target more precisely, and preserve the lives of human soldiers. But how will they distinguish friend from foe? And what if these powerful weapons fall in the wrong hands? Are lethal autonomous weapons the key to more humane warfare, or should they be banned before it’s too late? Our guests: Mary Wareham, global coordinator of the ‘Campaign to Stop Killer Robots’ at Human Rights Watch; Major General Charles Dunlap, Jr., former deputy judge advocate general of the United States Air Force and Executive Director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke University; Paul Scharre, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

Drug shortages don’t sound like the kind of thing that could happen in the United States. Yet shortages of drugs ranging from cancer treatment to painkillers have become commonplace. The FDA even has a mobile app for shortages, aimed at healthcare professionals. When the supply of a medication runs dry, doctors scramble to find alternatives. They are often less familiar with the substitute drug. It may be less effective. It may have side effects. And in some cases, there simply is no substitute. That means physicians increasingly face an agonizing ethical decision: which patients should receive drugs and which should not? We discuss how physicians are coping with the crisis in our nation’s drug supply. Our guests: Dr. Yoram Unguru, an oncologist at the Children’s Hospital at Sinai in Baltimore and a faculty member at the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University; and Dr. Jesse Pines, director of the Office for Clinical Practical Innovation at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.  

At the top of the hour - Officer Edward Nero found not guilty on all charges related to the arrest of Freddie Gray. WYPR reporter P. Kenneth Burns explains Judge William's verdict and we discuss what this means for the remaining trials.

Next, can civic engagement stave off memory loss as we age? Can bringing seniors into elementary schools for a few hours a week boost students’ reading ability? The Baltimore Experience Corps has matched 300 older adults to nearly 30 elementary schools for the purpose of improving literacy. Branch director Bill Romani joins us to discuss how this 18-year-old program benefits teachers, students, and retirees, and is changing attitudes about aging. Volunteers Sylvia Seymour-Crosby and Lauren McKenzie share what the Baltimore Experience Corps means to them.

Matt Tillett/Flickr via Creative Commons

The Conowingo Dam supplies enough clean energy every day to power 160,000 homes and businesses. But this dam and others have greatly altered the Susquehanna River. Legend has it you could once walk across the river entirely on the backs of migrating shad. Last year, around 8,000 shad made it past the dam, a record low. Only 43 made it all the way to their spawning grounds. Plus, millions of tons of polluted sediment have built up in the reservoir behind the dam. It is now at capacity. Meanwhile, for the first time since 1980, the Conowingo is up for relicensing. Could this be a watershed moment?

Penn State / Flickr via Creative Commons

Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed. Plato, Socrates, Hippocrates. All of them had at least one thing in common. They fasted. It turns out these influential figures were on to something, at least when it comes to health. Some scientists say that regularly abstaining from food for even short periods of time may improve health, boost brain power, and fight diseases ranging from cancer to diabetes to Alzheimer’s. It could even extend lives. The catch is that you have to periodically put down your fork. Could you permanently say goodbye to breakfast if it meant you might live longer? What about skipping all your meals two days a week? We speak to Mark Mattson, chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging, and University of Maryland molecular geneticist Steve Mount, who has been a practitioner for the last 12 years.

The war in Syria has displaced more than half the population, and hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed. The country’s rich cultural heritage is another victim of the conflict. Syria’s archaeological sites include the ruins of our earliest civilizations and some of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world. ISIS has attacked archaeological sites, including the famous ancient city of Palmyra, with bulldozers and explosives. Bombing, looting, and illegal excavation have wreaked further havoc. Palmyra is one of six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Syria. All have been damaged or destroyed. What’s been lost and what’s being done to protect the antiquities that remain? 

Did you know that dinosaurs didn’t actually go extinct? One group is still with us: they’re called birds. Were you aware that most dinosaurs had feathers? Does it surprise you to hear that Tyrannosaurus Rex is closer to us in time than it was to Stegosaurus? Dinosaurs are as popular as ever, particularly among children. But the picture the general public has of them hasn’t kept pace with the science. Today University of Maryland dinosaur paleontologist Thomas Holtz, Jr. joins us to talk discoveries, dispel myths and tell us how we know what we know about one of the most successful groups of animals to ever walk the earth.

Raised on the Registry / Human Rights Watch

Roughly 200,000 people are on the sex offender registry for something they did as a child, as young as age nine. Some committed serious offenses. But pulling down a classmate’s pants or having sex underage can also land you on the registry, with devastating consequences. Sex offenders must steer clear of churches, parks, and schools. They must keep law enforcement constantly informed of their whereabouts. Their photographs and personal information are often public. And they can remain on the list for decades, even life. Critics say the registry does profound, lasting damage to kids who are placed on it, while failing to protect public safety. Is it time for reform?

These days, the old cliché that women aren’t funny sounds pretty ludicrous. We are in an age of hugely popular female comics: Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, among many others. Yet male comedians still dominate the comedy circuit, book the talent, and make more money making jokes. Some female comedians have also started to speak out about sexual harassment and abuse within this largely male world. Is the comedy scene unwelcoming to women? Are there topics male comedians shouldn’t make jokes about, like rape? If so, what else is off limits? What’s funny and not so funny about being a funny lady? We hear from Megan Wills, co-founder of the Charm City Comedy Project and the Charm City Comedy Festival in Baltimore; Jessica Henkin, performer with BIG, the Baltimore Improv Group; and Meshelle, the Indie-Mom of Comedy, stand-up comedian. (Meshelle's new album, Funny as a Mother..., is available on iTunes.)

One out of 15 kids in Maryland–more than 80-thousand young people –has had a parent behind bars at some point during their childhood. Nationwide, it’s more than 5 million children. How does that affect kids and the communities they live in? Research by the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds that the ripple effects for a child can be far-reaching and long-lasting. The emotional distress is on par with abuse, domestic violence, or divorce. And when a parent is put away, family incomes can drop sharply, adding to the stress. Is this collateral damage part of the price those convicted of crimes should pay? Or are there ways to minimize the impact of incarceration on innocent children? We discuss with Ryan Chao, vice-president for civic sites and community change for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Joseph Jones, president for the Center for Urban Families.

Baltimore was once one of the country’s busiest ports for immigration. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, 1.2 million immigrants first set foot on American soil in Baltimore. Yet while Ellis Island draws millions of visitors a year, Baltimore’s immigrant history isn’t widely known. The new Baltimore Immigration Museum aims to remedy that. It tells the stories of the Europeans who landed here at the peak of immigration to the city, as well as the tales of those from other parts of the world who’ve come since. We’ll talk to the museum’s founders - Brigitte and Nick Fessenden - about those forgotten stories and the museum’s role in bringing them to light. Plus, JoAnn Best, a member of Locust Point Community Church, talks about a boarding house run by the church during the heyday of immigration to Baltimore. 

Aaah-choo! It’s allergy season, and as you may have noticed, this one’s a doozy in our region. As of this morning, rates Baltimore as the number two pollen hotspot in the country, closely followed by Washington, DC. The season will eventually pass and with it, seasonal allergies. But allergies are on the rise in developed countries. And scientists say climate change is likely to increase pollen counts and extend the growing season for plants like ragweed. What new developments are on the horizon for treating hay fever? How effective are alternative treatments, like acupuncture? And what can those with allergies do to prevent the seasonal sneezes? Our guest: Dr. Sandra Lin, allergy expert and associate professor in the Johns Hopkins Department of Otolaryngology.

Check out this link with treatment advice. Scroll down to the "For Patients" section.

Courtesy of Code in the Schools

After the unrest last spring following the death of Freddie Gray, critics pointed to the lack of opportunities for young people in Baltimore. Under a national spotlight, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake added $4.2 million in funding for after-school programs. The money paid for nearly 2,500 new spots for kids, mostly in underserved areas. Sandtown-Winchester, the neighborhood where Freddie Gray lived, was among them. Now budget season has rolled round once more. The city began the process with a major shortfall, and the mayor wants to cut last year’s bump in afterschool funding to help make up the difference. What would this mean for young people? 

elycefeliz / Flickr via Creative Commons

Free range, cage-free, or pasture-raised? All-natural or organic? The grocery store is awash in labels appealing to our conscience. Some claim the food in question is free of pesticides or antibiotics or genetic modification. Others promise that animals were well cared-for or that workers were well-treated. There are labels touting their power to protect the rainforest and make life easier for birds. How is a consumer to know which are meaningful and which are false advertising? How did our food labeling system get so fractured? Expert label decoder Urvashi Rangan, director of Consumer Safety and Sustainability for Consumer Reports, helps us separate the wheat from the chaff.

Andrew Copeland / Maryland Historical Society

Crowdsourcing is a new term but it’s not a new idea. In the 19th century, thousands of volunteers submitted entries to the Oxford English Dictionary, for instance. But if you’ve ever used Wikipedia, you know the internet has made crowdsourcing possible on a much larger scale. Historians are among those taking advantage of the internet’s broad reach. How is our increased connectivity changing the way we tell stories about the past? We’ll talk with Denise Meringolo, a historian at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and Joe Tropea, digital projects coordinator at the Maryland Historical Society, about how they’re collecting and archiving materials from the Baltimore Uprising of 2015.

Courtesy of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum

In the aftermath of last year’s unrest, what is the role of a museum dedicated to the history and culture of African Americans? Charles Bethea, chief curator at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore, started his job last fall, with the city still reeling from the death of Freddie Grey. He has pledged to take on current controversies, with input from the community. Potential future exhibits include one on black-on-black violence and another on the rapper Tupac Shakur, who was killed in a drive-by shooting. How can an institution like the Lewis engage new, young visitors at this critical moment in African American history without abandoning its preservationist mission?

urbanfeel/Flickr via Creative Commons

Which of Baltimore's neighborhoods are growing and which are shrinking? How do commute times vary across the city? A new report by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance captures thousands of data points on everything from education and workforce development to transportation and the arts. Seema Iyer, associate director of the Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore, tells us what we can learn from this statistical portrait of city life. But first, we hear about a block party that aims to unite some of those neighborhoods across lines of race and class in Central West Baltimore. 

m01229 / Flickr via Creative Commons

No income tax cuts for Marylanders, but the aerospace corporation Northrup Grumman will get $37.5 million dollars in tax breaks. These were among the many last minute decisions the General Assembly made before the clock struck midnight last night. We look back at the session and examine which proposals made it to Governor Larry Hogan’s desk and what happened once they arrived. WYPR Statehouse reporter Rachel Baye brings us the latest from Annapolis. Plus: Barry Rascovar of the Political Maryland blog and Baltimore Sun opinion editor Andy Green offer their reflections on the testy relationship between our highly popular Republican governor and a legislature dominated by Democrats.

baldeaglebluff / Flickr via Creative Commons

Scientists have been telling us for a while that sea levels are rising as a result of climate change. Then, a few weeks ago, the world got some devastating news. The oceans may be swelling much faster than we thought. One study found that if we continue to emit greenhouse gases at the current rate, a giant ice sheet in the Antarctic could crumble, to devastating effect. Children alive today may witness a sea level increase of five or six feet. That would mean environmental devastation and the disappearance of many coastal communities. What level of sea rise is now inevitable? What can we do to prepare? And what’s in store for Maryland? We speak to John Englander, oceanographer and author of “High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis”. 

Artondra Hall / Flickr via Creative Commons

Over the last week and a half, at least five vacant houses in Baltimore City have collapsed. The first, on March 28th, killed a man as he was sitting in his car in a vacant lot next door. The rest tumbled down during high winds last weekend. According to the Baltimore Sun, more than 500 buildings in Baltimore are considered so close to collapse that city inspectors visit them every 10 days. Many of these are row houses, making the risk of collapse extra troubling for neighbors. How common are collapses? Who owns these buildings? What is the city doing to prevent collapses, and what should the city be doing?

Kennedy Library / Flickr via Creative Commons

Tens of thousands of Marylanders attend for-profit colleges or private career schools. A recent report by the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition finds they pay more on average for their education, take out larger loans and face higher default rates than students at other institutions. Nationwide, enrollment in for-profit schools is dropping, but they still draw a lot of students. And they attract a disproportionate number of low-income and minority students. The majority of African Americans pursuing a higher education in Maryland are doing so at a for-profit institution. Are for-profit institutions predatory, plain and simple? Or do they have a role to play in our educational system?

Revitalization without gentrification: a lot of syllables to describe an elusive goal. In urban neighborhoods, development too often means poor, usually minority residents are priced out. Cities have wrestled with this problem for decades. Now a group of Baltimore housing advocates think they have the answer. They’re asking the city to issue tens of millions of dollars in bonds in support of their plan. What’s the big fix? Community land trusts. This development model has been gaining steam in other cities. Now, as Baltimore seeks to solve the many problems it’s become famous for in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, advocates say community land trusts are key.

Stephen Dyrgas / Flickr via Creative Commons

Murderous cartels, over-incarceration, the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C: Many of our social ills are somehow related to drugs. Hence the War on Drugs. But critics say strict drug laws have done as much harm to society as the substances themselves. Now a high-profile international commission has released a report that says the same. The group of 22 medical experts is recommending the decriminalization of drug use and possession, around the world. This comes just as the United Nations prepares to convene a special session on drug policy that could shape future laws. Is decriminalization the solution? Or are we endangering youth and inviting even higher rates of addiction? Guest: Dr. Chris Beyrer, member of the Johns Hopkins-Lancet Commission on Drug Policy and Health, Director of the Johns Hopkins Training Program in HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Science, and President of the International AIDS society. 

Iqbal Osman / Flickr via Creative Commons

Antibiotics revolutionized medicine. Infections that were once severe, even fatal, can now be treated. But the dark ages could return. The reason? Overuse. We are in an arms race with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and we seem to be losing. Every year, 2 million Americans are infected with these nightmare microorganisms. At least 23,000 people die. The numbers are even more dire in some regions of the world. In fact, modern medicine itself may be in peril. One day not too far off, injuries that become infected could lead to death, as in the days before the discovery of penicillin. Who is to blame? And what’s to be done?

CAFOD Photo Library / Flickr via Creative Commons

  Last week marked a grim anniversary: five years of conflict in Syria. Nearly half the population has been displaced in that time, around 11 million people. Some have fled to other parts of the Middle East or to Europe. Many more have relocated within Syria. Nearly all require humanitarian aid, and despite peace talks and a shaky cease fire, the conflict is unlikely to end anytime soon. Meanwhile the European Union just announced they would send nearly all migrants arriving in Greece back to Turkey. What is the situation like on the ground? And how is the global community responding to the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II?

Have you had a cup of coffee today? A piece of fruit? You can thank a bee. In fact, most of the plants that provide our food require pollinators. That’s also true of most of the flowers we enjoy. Yet many bees, butterflies, and other pollinator species are in decline. Pesticide use and habitat loss are among the reasons. So what can the average Marylander do? Garden with pollinators in mind! Master gardener Patricia Foster, executive director of the Cylburn Arboretum Association, and Vincent Vizachero, manager for Herring Run Nursery, a non-profit nursery that specializes in native plants, are here to give advice and take your questions.

A Baltimore school police officer was filmed hitting and kicking a teenager early this month while another officer watched. The video went viral, and the school system moved quickly to suspend the officers and press criminal charges. The chief was also put on leave. Critics say this is not an isolated incident. Baltimore City is the only jurisdiction in Maryland with its own school police force, separate from the police department. Child advocates say that force needs a complete overhaul; they say it doesn’t hire or manage well, and officers tend to arrest kids for run-of-the-mill misbehavior. What’s happening that is not caught on camera? Are cops in Baltimore schools doing more harm than good? 

Courtesy of @port_covington / Twitter

Billionaire Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank is asking Baltimore City for $535 million to help fund redevelopment in Port Covington. The city would borrow against future property tax revenue to pay for streets, utilities, and other infrastructure related to the project. If approved, it would be the largest tax increment financing, or TIF, deal in city history. TIF is a common development tool across the country; the city of Baltimore has OK’d eleven deals since 2003. But tax increment financing is controversial. Supporters say it attracts private investment to blighted areas. Critics say it enriches developers at public expense. Our guests: Greg LeRoy, Executive Director of Good Jobs First, and Toby Rittner, President and CEO of the Council of Development Finance Agencies

Understanding Animal Research/Flickr via Creative Commons

Millions of animals are used in research every year. Cosmetics, pesticides, pharmaceuticals: Half of every dollar we spend on products is for something that was tested on animals. Animal-rights advocates condemn animal testing, but many scientists say it is vital. Can technology solve this problem?  Dr. Thomas Hartung, director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing, believes it can go a long way. His own lab at the Bloomberg School of Public Health has just developed a tiny replica of the brain using human skin cells. This mini-brain could replace hundreds of thousands of animals now used in neurology labs.