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WYPR Features

The Reports: Week of August 31st 2020

Henry Barnes 2020-08-28

Aug 28, 2020

August 12, 1955: There's traffic and chaos outside of Gordons, a popular crab carryout at Orleans Street and Patterson Park Ave. It's a typical summer scene. Gil tells us about the time Traffic Commissioner Henry Barnes put himself and his reputation smack dab in the middle of the craziness.

Cru Beaujolais

Aug 28, 2020
Matthew Rogers via Flickr (Creative Commons BY-NC 2.0)

Beaujolais is like everybody's favorite buddy: approachable, rewarding, informal and so very versatile. The "Cru" Beaujolais are among the best.

Last week, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan chaired an annual meeting of Chesapeake region government officials supervising the Bay cleanup effort.

“It’s been an honor to serve as the chairman of this body for the last three years,” Hogan said to open the meeting the Chesapeake Executive Council. “Our theme for today is: Healthy Bay, Healthy People, Healthy Economy.”

One thing that was not healthy was the turnout for the annual meeting of Bay leaders. Only two of six regional governors even bothered to attend the video conference: Hogan himself and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who showed up in part to receive the gavel for next year’s chairmanship.

A key no-show was President Trump’s EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist who – in theory – is supposed to act as the cop overseeing and enforcing the whole Bay cleanup. 

Algonquin (l) Simon & Schuster (r)

On this edition of The Weekly Reader, we go behind the scenes with ghost writers and gatecrashers to see how the other half lives. Marion Winik reviews Heidi Pitlor's Impersonation and Ben Widdicombe's Gatecrasher.

The Eyes Have It

Aug 25, 2020

Why do babies stare? It's because they are scientists who are researching and learning from faces. (Photo by iStock/AJ_Watt)

American Tobacco Campus via Flickr (Creative Commons BY-NC 2.0)

Last week we put on our baking hats and whipped up some summer fruit cobblers, short cakes and tartlets. Today we'll keep those baking hats on our heads and cross over to the savory side of the street. And Chef Jerry Pellegrino tells me there are a lot of things we can do with Maryland produce that work well with batter and dough.


Jerry is thinking about quiches, tarts, empanadas, and pot pies, all of which can benefit from using local protein and produce. Here are a few ideas.

Chad Cooper via Flickr (Creative Commons BY 2.0)

When the bard posited so many years ago that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, he couldn’t have imagined the idea of 21st century sports.

In Shakespeare’s world, the term student-athlete would have been an oxymoron, like tasty gruel or benevolent king.

Flash forward to today where such linguistic gymnastics are standard fare for the NCAA and its member institutions. 


Unoaked Chardonnay

Aug 20, 2020

If you want all that great chardonnay flavor but none of the oak, try these delicious unoaked versions.

Mike Mozart via Flickr


Food insecurity is rampant in Baltimore, with nearly a quarter of the city's residents struggling to acquire healthy, affordable food. On this month's episode of Future City, we discuss why food insecurity persists in one of the wealthiest states in the country, and how local urban farmers, religious leaders, and advocates are fighting for food justice in the city. 

Covid Forces A Choice

Aug 19, 2020

What would you do if your child contracted COVID-19? You’d probably call your doctor, quarantine your family, and do everything you could to keep them well and prevent the virus from spreading. ​But what if you lived pay check to pay check? You would have to make some very difficult choices. (Photo: iStock/ti-ja)

Brent Walls has dedicated his life to stopping water pollution in Western Maryland. He’s worked for the last 11 years as the Upper Potomac Riverkeeper, an advocate with a nonprofit organization, the Potomac Riverkeeper Network.

Now 48 years old, his life turned in this direction because of a moment of clarity he experienced when he was 21. He recalled that was serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier, the U.S.S.  Constellation. During his first cruise in the Pacific Ocean, he witnessed a routine procedure.

“Twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, the boat will slow down and a bell will ring, and everyone on that ship will gather their trash and take it to the back of the boat and throw it over,” Walls recalled.  “I did this several times, and I remember one time, in particular:  It was a sunset, nothing but open ocean, you see the glow of the sun in the background, and the boat slowed down and you see this miles and miles of floating, huge paper garbage bags, that we have just unloaded into the ocean. And that just kind of made me sick. It really did.”  

He knew there had to be a better way.   And so, Walls transformed himself into not only a clean water warrior, but a high-tech sleuth who works every day to document pollution with digital photos and video, and report it to the authorities.


"Joshua Barney"

Aug 18, 2020
Library of Congress / Flickr/Creative Commons

On August 24, 1813, during the Battle of Bladensburg, Commodore Joshua Barney, along with 360 sailors and 120 Marines, defended Washington—fighting against the British hand-to-hand with cutlasses and pikes.

Ed Castillo via Flickr (Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0)

Every week when I go shopping at the farmers market I pass by the fruit stands and start wondering how I can use all those beautiful peaches, pears and plums. Not only will I be eating them out of hand, but I will be doing a little baking that will put them to use. Chef Jerry Pellegrino has three ideas for baking a little fruit into our desserts: cobblers, shortcakes and tartlets.

Riverhead (l); Knopf (r)

On this edition of The Weekly Reader, we encourage you to take a break from your everyday worries and get lost in a great book! Marion Winik reviews Edmund White's A Saint from Texas, and Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet.

The Reports: Week of August 17th 2020

One of the greatest threats to an individual’s financial security these days is getting scammed. During pandemic where so many people are struggling, it’s especially disheartening that there are so many scammers out there trying to steal people’s personally identifiable information and money. Catherine Collinson, president of nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, is here today to talk about the latest scams.

Mayo Clinic via Flickr (Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0)

It’s hard to think of this miserable time that we’ve all been forced to endure as yielding a winner, as it feels as though in some ways we’ve all lost.

Yet, if it is appropriate to speak of a person in such terms, it would appear that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver would fit the bill. 

On an afternoon in 1946, a small crowd of spectators were gathered in front of a broken down, boarded up row house on tiny Tyson street, between Park and Read. Looking up they saw a strange sight: several men working on scaffolding set against the exterior wall of a house were panting the front exterior wall yellow... 

Since 1971, 10 states – led by Oregon and Vermont – have passed bottle deposit laws. These so-called “bottle bills” have proven to increase recycling rates and reduce litter on roadsides and in waterways. The laws give people a financial incentive, often five or ten cents per bottle or can, to pick up the litter and return the containers for a cash reward.

For example, Michigan passed a 10 cent bottle deposit law in 1976 and today enjoys a 95 percent recycling rate for bottles and cans. That’s almost four times the 25 percent rate in Maryland, which does not have a deposit law.

Six times in Maryland over the last decade, legislators have proposed bottle bills. Predictably, soda and beer manufacturers and store chains have fought the laws, because they don’t want to lose any income or take responsibility for handling dirty containers.

But that’s not why the bottle bills keep dying in Maryland and other states. The really effective lobbying against them in recent years has come from county and city recycling programs. These local government programs do not want to lose any of their own income, either from re-selling glass and aluminum or through grants from phony environmental groups such as Keep America Beautiful that are quietly bankrolled by the soda companies.

Investigative reporter Sharon Lerner popped the top off of this recycling corruption scandal in a recent article published on the news website The Intercept.  


Sour Beers

Aug 12, 2020

There's a hot new category in beer these days and it's all about being sour.

Larry Kacer / Flickr/Creative Commons

In August 1934, two young boys found a treasure trove of gold coins buried in the basement of a home located at 132 South Eden Street in East Baltimore. Their lives were never the same. 

Riverhead (l); Workman (r)

On this edition of The Weekly Reader, we review two new novels about the complex, full, and fascinating world of mature women's lives: Charlotte Wood's The Weekend and Larry Watson's The Lives of Edie Pritchard.

Paulo O via Flickr (Creative Commons BY 2.0)

Maryland is certainly known for its seafood, but I wonder if we get enough of it onto the summer grill. Grilling seafood does take a little finesse, but with a bit of instruction it's very doable. Chef Jerry Pellegrino who is a dab hand at all manner of grilling has some advice on how to handle seafood.

The Reports: Week of August 10th 2020

Accolades Don't Pay The Bills

Aug 10, 2020

What happens when a child exposes others to COVID-19 at child care? Even if the child care provider does everything right, it could still force them out of business. We must save child care. (Phot credit iStock/Yobro10).

We’re back with another edition of ClearPath – Your Roadmap to Health & Wealth.  I’m your host, Al Waller.  

COVID-19 has complicated workers’ financial and retirement security across generations and the pandemic’s full impact is far from becoming clear.

Dinur via Flickr (Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0)

It’s been nearly 20 years since Sean Frazier was a linebacker at Alabama that he’s done anything heroic on a football field. But when the history of how sports were conducted in 2020 is written, Frazier may stand taller than anyone else.

Frazier, who is the athletic director at Northern Illinois, could emerge from this year as one of the first people to attempt to interject reason and sensibility into a time where few of those qualities exist, at least where athletics stand.

It was Frazier, and Lisa Freeman, the president of Northern Illinois, who prodded officials of the Mid-America Conference, the league that NIU belongs to, to cancel all fall sports this year, including football, out of coronavirus concerns. 


Imagine Being a Baby

Aug 8, 2020

Imagine you’re a baby. You love being with mom and dad but there is so much more to learn. You’re excited about child care! But what if child care isn’t there? (Photo by iStock/ruizluquepaz)  

Maryland State Library for the Blind and Print Disabled

Did you know that 21% of adults in Maryland have reported that they have a disability? John Owen is the Director of the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Print Disabled. He tells us how blind and low-vision people access books and computers in the digital age.