In author Jabari Asim's fictionalized St. Louis -- the 'Gateway City' first introduced in his short story collection 'A Taste of Honey' –- characters come to grips with the fallout of the civil rights era in surprising ways. We talk with Asim about the fictional world he created and examine the realities of how we deal with race in America today.
The Catholic Church has a new leader, its first from the Americas, in Pope Francis. D.C. police are still looking for answers after a drive-by near the intersection of New York Ave and North Capitol Street early Monday left 13 wounded. And the Transportation Security Administration recently announced new rules for carry-on baggage, set to go into effect on April 25. It’s your turn to share your views on the news.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. It's Your Turn. By Your Turn we mean, well, your turn to start calling now, 800-433-8850, to discuss anything that's on your mind. Events in the news, recent editions of this broadcast or anything else, 800-433-8850. You set the agenda for this first part of the broadcast.
MR. KOJO NNAMDILater in this broadcast put your dancing shoes on, Irish music, get ready to dance a jig. But first early Monday morning a drive-by near the intersection of North Capital Street and New York Avenue left 13 people ranging in age from 17 to 30 wounded. Most injuries relatively minor, though one victim who was hit in the lower back remains in critical condition. Due to the nature of this case homicide detectives are leading this investigation. But so far they report no arrests or leads in this case.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe incident has the city abuzz because of the high number of victims and because it took place at the intersection of two D.C.s, the up and coming neighborhood known as Noma, for North of Massachusetts Avenue and Townhouse, a housing project which begs the question, do you think the story would be getting as much or more attention if it had happened in another part of town, 800-433-8850? Send email to email@example.com. It's Your Turn. Send a Tweet at kojoshow. Do you think this is an anomaly or a sign that we're in for a violent summer?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIf there are other issues you'd like to discuss, just a few suggestions. Yesterday, not long after our broadcast ended with a round of the Hallelujah Chorus, white smoke poured out of the chimney at the Vatican, announcing to the world that the Catholic Church's 266th pope had been selected. About an hour ago Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina who will be known as Pope Francis, emerged to address the crowd gathered in St. Peters Square.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe new pontiff, formerly head of the church's influential Jesuit order has a reputation for humility. He'll lead a flock of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, the majority in his native Latin America and all of whom are wondering what this new papacy will bring to a church that has seen its share of scandal. 800-433-8850, it's Your Turn. What do you think of the selection and what direction do you think he'll be taking the church in?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIf you're Catholic, what changes would you like to see or not from Pope Francis, 800-433-8850? You can also go to our website kojoshow.org and ask a question or make a comment there. Let's start with Toni in Southwest Washington. Toni, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
TONIWell, hi Kojo. I didn't know we were going to be talking about the pope. I called about something else entirely.
NNAMDIYou can talk about whatever's on your mind. It's Your Turn.
TONIOkay. Then this is a question of (unintelligible). The sequester -- well, in preparation for the sequester, Mayor Gray instituted a hiring freeze in D.C. And I just wondered where the line would be when you're instituting a freeze like that. I mean, I can understand that you have jobs out there. Okay, they're frozen. You have jobs you have applications for. Okay, they're frozen.
TONII was hired and before I could go to work, I was told I couldn't come to work because it's frozen. Now that doesn't seem quite reasonable to me. What do you think and what do other people think?
NNAMDIWhat's reasonable really depends neither on what you or I think. It depends on what the economy is doing and if there is, in fact, a hiring freeze because the D.C. government, as you know, and the federal government have a very close relationship. And if there's going to be sequestration at the level of the federal government and the D.C. government decides, we can't take the chance to give people jobs that we might not have the money to pay for, we better hold off for a while, then the reasonableness of that decision is, in a way, out of both your and my hands.
NNAMDIWhat if you did get the job and at the end of one week they said, you know what? You've worked all week, but we don't have the money to pay you?
TONII'd rather have that.
TONIYeah, I'm hired. I'm hired. I just can't go to work. It just frets me, I guess. So...
NNAMDIWell, the mayor's order -- let me give you the facts -- prohibits the hiring of new employees or extending the terms of existing term employees. It freezes promotions, pay raises, reclassifications, bonuses, awards, freezes travel, except travel within 50 miles of the District. That includes only the use of government vehicles, cabs or metro. And it freezes training, seminars and conferences, except those conducted by D.C. employees at D.C. government facilities. So one, I guess, assumes that when all is unfreezed your job will -- or unfrozen, your job will still be available. But why would you want to take it now if you know that you can't get a paycheck?
TONIWell, you know, with $140 million extra, I figured maybe, but anyway my boss has written for a waiver. I guess I'll wait on that.
NNAMDIWe will see what happens because you're right, the city does have a cash -- a surplus, but they do not want to spend it at this point. Thank you very much for your call, Toni. It's Your Turn. You can call us on any issue on your mind. It's 800-433-8850, whether it's the new pope Pope Francis, the violence that occurred in the District lately, the violence that's been occurring in Prince George's County involving high school kids.
NNAMDIAnd then there's this. Late last week the transportation security administration, better known as the TSA announced revised rules for carryon bags. Starting April 25 you can bring some items that were banned after 9/11 including but not limited to a Swiss army knife, a whiffle ball bat or a snow globe. You can bring those onboard as long as the latter fits into the same one-quarter plastic bag you stashed your other liquids in, that is. Some are thrilled by the new rules. Others say they open up dangerous possibilities. What do you think? It's Your Turn. Come on. We await your calls, 800-433-8850. Here is Matt in Washington, D.C. Matt, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
MATTYeah, hi, Kojo. I'm calling them earlier about the story on the shoot-up on -- excuse me, at New York Avenue and North Ave. That same night -- so I live in the "U" Street corridor, which has been up and coming for the past couple years between 13th and 12th. And my neighbors and I stopped an attempted rape. And, you know, the police were notified, they came, the man was taken under.
MATTBut no notice has been put up through any of the boards, even (unintelligible) some of the places that do do police blotter type reporting. It hasn't shown up anywhere. And, you know, I noticed an underreporting. I've been noticing an uptick in crime in my neighborhood with a correlation of underreporting of it. And I don't know if that has to do with, you know, trying to sell some of the mass amount of units they're putting up on 14th Street or what. But definitely noticing a trend of those two things moving away from each other.
NNAMDIWhat time of day or night was the attempted rape that you prevented?
MATTIt was probably about 2:00 in the morning right on "W" Street about a block-and-a-half behind Ali Way on -- right behind Ben's Chili Bowl.
NNAMDIHow many people were involved with this -- was it one man attacking one woman?
MATTOne man attacking one woman, yes.
NNAMDIAnd you said you've seen an uptick in crime in your neighborhood. What kinds of crimes, because what the police department is saying is that the uptick in crimes that it is registering are mostly robberies of items like iPhones or trying to get money off of people, and that the level of violent crime is down.
MATTWell, we've noticed a lot of armed robbery, an uptick in that but there's been a lot of snatch and grabs on iPhones. We're right by the high school so there's a lot of that going on.
NNAMDIWhat do you think needs to be done about this?
MATTWell, I think if they make people aware of these crimes people tend to -- like my neighborhood, we have a Google group. We stay in touch with each other. When our alleys became sort of focal points of some of these crimes we encouraged people to walk in the street. So it was more of an awareness of the population, which is why the underreporting is sort of a symptom and a cause of these crimes is that if you don't let people know these crimes are happening, how they're happening, what time of day they're happening, it's harder for people to kind of protect themselves against it.
NNAMDIOkay, Matt. Thank you very much for your call. You too can call us. It is Your turn. Whatever you choose to discuss, whether it is the new pope, the violence that just took place on North Capital Street or the new Transportation Security Administration regulations that would allow you to carry a Swiss army knife onto an airplane. It's Your Turn. We move on to Chris in Crawford, Md. Chris, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CHRISHello. How you doing, Kojo?
NNAMDII'm doing well, Chris.
CHRISTwo comments, two subjects, the shooting and the sequester.
CHRISNow regarding the shooting. I believe for years that they should just legalize all drugs. It would cut the legs off from underneath all the drug dealers and it'll free up a lot of law enforcement resources.
CHRISThe second one regarding the sequester...
CHRIS...Aristotle said something -- and I'm paraphrasing -- he says the behavior that democracies like are not necessarily the behavior that preserves democracies. And in the early 1800s there was a European historian who came over here and visited. And he went home and wrote a book about America, the United States. He said, it's a great idea. They've got a great thing going and it will work until they can figure out that they can vote themselves money.
NNAMDIYou say these...
CHRISAnd that's my comment.
NNAMDINo, but you say these to say what, Chris? I need some explanations, some...
CHRISRegarding -- regarding what?
CHRISThe Aristotle comment? Well, it's just something I read that, you know, some book by Aristotle. And the second sighting of -- I believe it was Alex (sic) de Tocqueville, a Frenchman basically, you know, when you can vote yourselves money what's going to happen? And that's my idea of what a democracy -- you know, the behavior of democracy likes or generates is not necessarily what's best for a democracy.
NNAMDIWell, that's why democracy's...
CHRISAnd I don't know what the answer is.
NNAMDIWell, that's why democracies tend to be fairly messy, Chris, because people get the opportunity to air their opinions. And their opinions are not necessarily likely to be in agreement with one another.
CHRISOh, yeah -- no, I like...
NNAMDIAnd there's never going to be unanimity, or very rarely so that's why it's kind of messy. But thank you very much for your call. It is Your Turn. We're taking your calls at 800-433-8850. Any issue in the news that you want to discuss, the installation of a new pope or anything else. Here now is C.J. in Washington, D.C. C.J., you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
C.J.Hi. Thank you, Kojo. I have a question and I just want to throw it out to you and anyone in your audience who knows anything about the D.C. food stamp program. I have a friend who is on social security and that's all he gets. And, let's see, he has $150 left over after he pays his rent so he's not eating very well. And for months and months and months he's been applying for food stamps. And he sent in applications and he calls various numbers that he's given. And it's always a voicemail and then no one every calls back.
C.J.And one time he called and someone accidentally picked up the phone. And then he heard in the background someone else say, you're not supposed to pick that up. And so they hung up on him. And I'm thinking, have they stopped giving out food stamps and they just don't want to tell people? Or does anyone know what the deal is?
NNAMDIWell, first and foremost, they don't call them food stamps anymore. We just had a show on that issue. And as soon as I can get the information about that I will give you the date on which we did that show so that somebody who is industrious enough can go into our archives and listen to it. But no, there is still a program for the provision of food for -- it's called the Snap program these days. It's not a food stamp program anymore. And it is still in existence and the individual to whom you refer should be able to get hold of it.
NNAMDIAgain, sometime during the course of the broadcast I'll give out the show -- the dates of the show on which we talked about that. And he might be able to listen to that and get some more information. But C.J., thank you very much for your call and good luck to you. Here is Steven in Rockville, Md. Steven, you're on the air. It's your turn. Hi, Steven. Are you there? Steven, I can't hear you so I'm going to put you on hold and then go to Mora in Alexandria, Va. Mora, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
LAURAHey, actually it's Laura with an "L."
LAURAHow are you, Kojo?
NNAMDII am well.
LAURAGood. I am calling about an issue that we have just spent the past several days fighting with our insurance company on. And that is the fact that as January 1 the IRS has, in their infinite wisdom, decided to change the HSA rate. And those are for the Health Savings Accounts that those of us who have the high deductibles on our insurance hold. And that allows us to pay for a lot of our doctor's visits and things like that. And they changed their deductible rate from -- for an individual, 1200 to 1250.
LAURAAnd that has caused thousands -- and I would have to think tens of thousands of people a real headache because all of a sudden they get a notice from their insurance company, like we did, saying your plan is no longer covered. Boom. So here's your new card and you can no longer deduct things. Or if you'd like you can call us up and we'll reevaluate you, which means that you now have to go under complete new underwriting. And as a result, like us who, you know, my husband has preexisting conditions, his rate went from 750 to $1243 a month.
NNAMDIYou had no idea that this was coming at all?
LAURAWe had -- well, we had no idea that -- we got the notice from the insurance company and...
NNAMDIWhen did you get the notice from the insurance company?
LAURA...the -- I'm sorry.
NNAMDIWhen did you get the notice from the insurance company?
LAURAWe got that November 14.
NNAMDIAnd it took effect on January 1?
LAURAJanuary 1 and...
NNAMDIWas there anything you were able to find out between November 14 and January 1?
LAURANo. And that was our fault because we didn't pursue it because it's in that time period when things are going absolutely, you know, crazy with the holidays and the end of the year, that it would -- kind of got sideswiped. And, you know, it's in one of these form letters and we kind of said, oh you know, what's this? Okay. Maybe we'll think about it later. And it didn't actually hit home until we had got the letter fin January saying, here's the new card for your new plan. You're no longer HAS qualified, at which point we said, oh shucks, we better do something about this.
LAURASo he reapplied to discuss well, what can we do? Well, you have to now apply for $1400 deductible plans.
NNAMDIWell, you know, one of the things -- the lessons to be learned from that of course is not to put something as important as decisions regarding your health insurance off. The second is that Washington consumers' checkbook routinely writes -- there's an entire issue on health plans and whether or not people can switch from one plan to another during the months when government employees can switch. But I suspect that checking out Washington consumers' checkbook can give you an indication -- and that's at checkbook.org -- it can give you an indication of what you still might be able to do in that situation. And, well, all I can say, Laura, is good luck to you.
NNAMDIFor the caller who called earlier about her friend needing what she thought were food stamps and what we said was the Snap program, the broadcast I was referring to was on February 11 when we talked about local leaders attempting to live or eat on $5 a day, which is what the apparently average of what the Snap program provides for certain individuals. So if you go back to that broadcast it was on February 11. We had someone from the capital area food bank and the capital area food bank may be another good resource for you.
NNAMDISince that caller was older and may not have access, the phone number for the capital area food bank is 202-644-9800. 202-644-9800. Another possible resource is D.C. Hunger Solutions. That's 202-986-2200 and they are for Snap specific assistance. That's 202-986-2200. And we may have another suggestion from Julie in Washington, D.C. Julie, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JULIEHi. I just wanted to suggest also for the caller who's having trouble getting food stamps that he might want to talk with an attorney at the Legal Aid Society of D.C. That is one of the areas that we practice in and an attorney may be able to help him sort it out and get those benefits, if he's entitled to them.
NNAMDIJulie, thank you very much for your call. It's what happens on Your Turn. People not only have comments and opinions that they'd like to share, but they often are willing to help others. Unfortunately we have run out of time in this segment of the broadcast. Thanks to all of those of you who participated. We're going to take a short break. When we come back, Irish music. Get ready to dance. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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