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WYPR Features

Alan Levine / Flickr/Creative Commons

On January 16, 1920, The Volstead Act ushered in Prohibition, as well as a lot of creative methods for getting around the law in "The Free State of Maryland." 

Holidays & Social Distancing

Dec 28, 2020

This is Al Waller, your host for ClearPath Radio – Your Roadmap to Health and Wealth. Last month the CDC reported that even small social gatherings are causing a surge in COVID-19 cases. Joining me is Mihaela Vincze, public health expert for nonprofit Transamerica Institute, here to discuss social distancing during the holiday season.
Al: Thanks for joining me, Mihaela.
Mihaela: Thank you for having me.


The Reports: Week of December 28th 2020

Naomi Osaka hitting a tennis ball with a tennis racket
Peter Menzel via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

It’s customary, at the end of a year, for wags and pundits to sum up the previous 12 months in a crude context, by naming those whose reputations have risen and fallen during that time, the winners and losers, If you will.

Goodness knows the year 2020 provided plenty of candidates for each category, most centered around conduct related to either the COVID crisis or the push for social justice or both.

From this vantage point, the best of the best this year includes names like Kara Lawson, Naomi Osaka, Maya Moore, Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe.

On Christmas Day, 1943, in the heart of World War II, there was an announcement on radio station WFBR—to the effect: Listen to a special broadcast from somewhere in England. Hear your loved ones wishing you a Merry Christmas from deep in the heart of war torn Europe. The broadcast happened exactly as it was advertised—bringing to all on both sides of the Ocean the merriest of Christmases.

Ah, Christmas time!  I went walking through my neighborhood and was charmed by the strings of lights illuminating porches, the inflated Santa, the plastic reindeer, the snow and ice.  But then I saw flowers emerging from the ground, near a cherry tree in full bloom.  

It made me confused. Why are flowers blooming in December in Baltimore?  The wildflowers called snowdrops normally emerge from the ground in February or March. And most cherry trees, of course, bloom in March or April; although a few do flower in the fall.

“It definitely seems odd this year,” said Theresa Crimmins, a plant ecologist at the University of Arizona and Director of the National Phenology Network, which studies which seasons plants bloom in across the U.S. 

“All across the country, people have reported things flowering this fall – this past October and November, specifically – that they never reported in the past flowering in October and November,” she said.  "Things like chokecherries and mountain magnolia were in flower this past fall in North Carolina, which is not normal. On Long Island, people reported clematis and false lily of the valley flowering in the fall, and those are definitely springtime species."   

Ecco (l); Algonquin (r)

On this edition of The Weekly Reader, two very different takes on growing up in America: Natasha Trethewey's memoir Memorial Drive and Gabriel Bump's novel Everywhere You Don't Belong.

Everybody is looking for advice on good buys for bubbly wine. Here is our list of recommendations at all price points.

Three barbecue pulled pork sliders on a plate
Jane Charlesworth via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Without a doubt the season of entertaining has arrived, albeit in a much modified form. Since we will be gathering in very small groups this year, it makes sense to stack up a bunch of recipes for very small bites. And so Chef Jerry Pellegrino has these suggestions for tempting bite-size treats.

Al_HikesAZ via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

There’s very little that many of us will take from this dumpster fire of a year. Most people I know have already purchased a calendar for 2021 in joyous anticipation of ripping the one for 2020 off the wall.

Of course, such a move is only symbolic. The year ahead of us appears primed to deliver some measure of pain and suffering, but, if the fates are kind, 2021 will bring more than its share of joy. And if there is sorrow, we may be able to share it with people we love, as opposed to this year, when so many of us are cooped up alone and afraid.

If there is a positive to be taken from 2020, it is that this may be the year when we as a nation began, on some level, to come to grips with the great national tragedy of our racial and cultural divide. 

Healthy Providers, Healthy Kids

Dec 21, 2020

  Has your child care provider told you her plans for staying safe from COVID-19 over the holidays? Have you told her yours? Sharing your plans are essential to keeping your kids healthy.  

The Power of Gratitude During the Pandemic

Dec 21, 2020

This is Al Waller, your host for ClearPath Radio – Your Roadmap to Health and Wealth. This year of uncertainty, change, and confusion has many of us looking for a source of strength. Joining me is Mihaela Vincze, public health expert for nonprofit Transamerica Institute here to discuss the power and health benefits of gratitude.


The Reports: Week of December 21st 2020

"Cab and Thurgood"

Dec 18, 2020
Flickr/Creative Commons

In the 1920s, two extraordinary students attended the Colored High and Training School in Baltimore. After graduation, their lives took very different paths, but each shared his particular talents with the world, arguably making it a better place for all of us.

  Elissa is recommending:

Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory: Stories by Raphael Bob-Waksburg



Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women, and Queer Radicals by Saidiya Hartman

Gil tells us about Louie Goldstein, who spent more than a decade advocating for his beloved Calvert County to be the home of a third Bay Bridge span.

  As President-Elect Biden assembles his new administration, one candidate being considered for a top environmental position, perhaps director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, is Mustafa Santiago Ali.

Ali worked for 24 years at the Environmental Protection Agency and was its senior advisor for environmental yustice. He was a founding member of EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, which is dedicated to reducing pollution in minority and lower-income communities, including those in Baltimore.

After working for EPA most of his life – he started there as a student intern -- Ali quit in March of 2017 after the new Trump Administration tried to eliminate the Office of Environmental Justice. It was part of Trump’s general hostility toward government programs, especially those that would help urban areas and people of color.   

Here’s Mustafa Ali: "I saw what the new administration was going to do by not honoring science, by eliminating programs that were critical for front-line communities in protecting their lives and their health.  And I knew that I couldn’t be part of that.”


Heather Katsoulis via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Bottles of wine make great holiday gifts, and we have a great shopping list for you. Print it up and head out to your favorite wine merchant.

Plum Pudding

Dec 15, 2020
Simone Walsh via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

I've been reading some Charles Dickens lately, specifically "David Copperfield." With the holiday season upon us, I can't help but ponder that mainstay of the Dickensian Christmas table, the plum pudding. Chef Jerry Pellegrino will tell you this is the kind of evocative treat that most folks think must be extremely complicated to prepare. But in fact, if you can add a heaping spoonful of patience, it's amazingly easy.

Turtle Point (l); Yale University Press (r)

On this edition of The Weekly Reader, we review two new books that search for meaning by reflecting on the past: Cold Moon: On Love, Life and Responsibility, by Roger Rosenblatt, and A World Out of Reach: Dispatches from Life Under Lockdown, edited by Meghan O'Rourke.

Gage Skidmore via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In Washington, a handful of legislators are preparing to say goodbye to public life in the lame duck session of Congress.

Some will make farewell speeches. Others will attempt to assist constituents one last time.

Hawaiian Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is approaching her swan song after four terms by taking a swipe at transgender athletes.

The Reports: Week of December 14th 2020

Dec 14, 2020

The Reports: Week of December 14th 2020

Substance Abuse During COVID-19

Dec 14, 2020

National alcohol sales in stores were up 54% in March 2020 compared to March 2019, and online sales were up 262%, according to a RAND Corporation study. Joining me is Mihaela Vincze, the public health expert for nonprofit Transamerica Institute, here to discuss substance abuse during the pandemic.


On today's Baltimore Stories, Gil tells us about a transportation option that allowed riders to take in the "charms of Charm City" from a high perch.

The inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden on January 20 will mean a new day for millions of federal civil servants who were disparaged by Donald Trump as so-called “deep state” enemies of his administration.

The federal agency that will be perhaps most relieved when Trump steps onto the final flight to Mar-A-Lago will be the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which marked its 50th birthday on a downbeat note last week. Under Trump, more than 1,200 EPA employees were fired or quit – leaving staffing at the lowest level since 1987. His administration also weakened or eliminated almost 100 pollution control rules.

Stan Meiburg served at EPA for 39 years until 2017, including as Acting Deputy Administrator.

“The last several years have been tough for EPA,” said Meiburg, who now works as Director of Graduate Studies in Sustainability at Wake Forest University. “There are many employees in the agency who feel that the agency stepped away from its basic core values: Follow the science; follow the law; and be transparent.”

Under Trump, EPA ignored its scientists and literally followed the direction of a former coal industry lobbyist.


Respectful Approach to Parenting

Dec 9, 2020

Photo by iStcok/Iryna Kazlova) Edit | Remove

Helicopter parents take note, letting your babies and toddlers freely play and explore is good for your mental health and their development.

Kosher Wines

Dec 9, 2020

December is a big season for kosher wines, which have been getting better and better.

Emily Orpin via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The opening whistle for the holiday shopping season sounded a few days ago, and I know a lot of us are feverishly flailing around for gift ideas. If your loved one does any cooking then your job just got a lot easier because we are going to give you a long list of ideas. Chef Jerry Pellegrino keeps up with culinary technology, and Al has a number of gadgets in his own kitchen that are tried and true.

"Diamond Jim"

Dec 8, 2020
Flickr/Creative Commons / Bain News Service

In the early years of the 20th century, "Diamond Jim" Brady was a man of enormous appetites, for food, entertainment, and, of course, diamonds.