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Current Events

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September 13, 2019

3:56

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Debate: Are Online Platforms Threatening Democracy?

Congress recently held a hearing to consider how technology companies might be endangering the news industry and threatening democracy. Some newspaper publishers argue that online platforms like Google and Facebook unfairly threaten their existence and are controlling public access to information. Some technology executives say this is not the case, suggesting that the news media are not keeping up with innovative competition. In order to resolve this issue, lawmakers have proposed a bill with bipartisan support. Listen to learn more and then debate: Are online platforms threatening democracy?

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September 12, 2019

7:47

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Rural Doctor Tries to Bridge Cultural Divide

Dr. Ayaz Virji moved to Dawson, Minnesota to help fill a need for doctors in rural America. At first, all was well, but during the 2016 election, the climate began to shift. As a Muslim, he no longer felt as welcome in Dawson, and he regularly faced discrimination. Virji decided to take action to help his community and others like it better understand and tolerate his faith and has since written a book about his experiences. Listen to hear Dr. Virji’s story and learn about his plans for the future.

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September 11, 2019

1:57

Art garden

Edible Art Garden

When a vacant lot in Sacramento was up for sale, one neighbor had an idea for what it could become. She envisioned an urban farm, so she bought the lot and invited a local nonprofit group to help turn it into an “edible art garden” after gathering input from other community members. Listen to learn what this once bare lot looks like today and how it benefits the neighborhood surrounding it.

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September 10, 2019

3:57

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Preparing for Earthquakes in California

Southern California recently experienced several large earthquakes. Fortunately, the damage caused by these events was minimal, and mostly confined to the desert, where fewer people live and work. However, some experts are concerned about what might happen if a severe earthquake occurred in urban Los Angeles, for example, where the potential damage to infrastructure could cause major problems. Listen to learn how Californians should prepare for a future major earthquake.

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September 9, 2019

4:09

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Amazon Rainforest Fires

Fires are raging in the Amazon rainforest at an unusually high rate. The flames are destroying hundreds of acres of forest, killing wildlife, and spreading smoke across thousands of miles. Scientists are concerned that, since trees take in carbon dioxide from the air, the loss of so much forest could speed up climate change. Some environmentalists argue that this is a man-made disaster, caused by intentional deforestation. Listen to learn more about the enormous scale of the fires burning in the Amazon rainforest and the ongoing debate about who is responsible.

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September 6, 2019

4:59

Facialrecognition

Debate: Should Facial Recognition Apps Cause Concern?

FaceApp allows people to modify photos to change their appearances, trying out different hairstyles or even seeing what they may look like decades from now. While the app is fun and silly, some political leaders have warned against using it due to privacy issues related to its facial recognition capabilities. However, a technology writer argues that FaceApp is no more dangerous than many other social media applications. Listen to learn more and then debate: Should facial recognition apps cause concern?

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September 5, 2019

5:16

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Solar Energy in Communities of Color

Renewable energy sources like solar power can help protect the environment and lower people’s electricity bills. Unfortunately, not everyone is benefitting equally from alternative energy sources and the technologies that harness them. One African-American solar technology professional is trying to reverse this trend. Listen to learn how he is bringing renewable energy to communities of color in Nashville and why this goal is so important to him.

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September 4, 2019

3:43

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Condor Comeback

In order to prevent the California condor from going extinct, conservationists created a captive breeding program for the unique bird species. In the 1980s, they began gathering all the remaining California condors, breeding them, and releasing their offspring into the wild. Listen to learn more about “chick number 1000” and find out why one scientist thinks California condors are among the most remarkable birds in the world.

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September 3, 2019

6:40

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Girls Play War Games

Women make up 14% of the U.S. military. In an effort to interest more girls in the military and national security, the non-profit group Girl Security invited a group of young women to play a “war game.” In this exercise, the girls had to role-play two sides in a difficult and complex military conflict. Listen to learn how they played the game and how the experience affected them.

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August 30, 2019

7:55

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Debate: Should We Send Astronauts to the Moon Again?

It’s been 50 years since man first walked on the moon. Now, decades later, NASA is working on sending a manned spacecraft back to the moon. This time, however, the trip to the moon is part of a larger plan: getting man to Mars. However, NASA will need bipartisan political support to make their goals a reality, and some have dismissed this mission as unnecessary. Listen to learn how and why NASA plans to send astronauts to the moon and beyond and then debate: Should we send astronauts to the moon again?

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August 29, 2019

2:32

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Government Shutdown Sparks Cheesecake Business

Last winter, when the U.S. government shut down for 34 days, hundreds of thousands of workers were furloughed. This meant that these employees were suspended from work and did not receive their regular paychecks. In order to deal with this difficult circumstance, two sisters decided to start their own business making cheesecakes. Listen to learn how they made enough money to get through the holidays and create a successful new business.

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August 28, 2019

3:45

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Preschool Predicts Multi-generational Success

Many decades ago, children from poor families participated in an early childhood educational program known as the Perry Preschool Project aimed at improving the children’s academic achievement. While the program did not have the effect that the researchers anticipated, it did have a positive impact on their lives and on future generations. Listen to learn about the long-term effects of the Perry Preschool Project and how this study may shift the way we prepare students for success.

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August 27, 2019

6:32

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Palestinians Leave Gaza for Opportunity

The Gaza Strip is a Palestinian territory that shares a border with Egypt. In the ongoing conflict between Israel and the the militant Palestinian organization Hamas, this region has been subjected to many attacks, blockades, and power struggles. With the economy suffering and violence escalating, many people who live in Gaza want to leave. Listen to hear stories of people who have decided to leave their home and learn how the departure of so many is affecting Gaza.

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August 26, 2019

3:44

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Extremism, Violence, and the Internet

A man recently shot and killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Just before he committed this terrorist act, he posted a manifesto describing his motivations in an online forum called 8chan. Two other mass shooters also published their intentions on 8chan before their attacks this year. Listen to learn more about the role digital technology can play in extremist violence and the consequences 8chan has faced since the El Paso shooting.

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August 23, 2019

5:40

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Debate: Should Elephants Be Considered Property?

Should some animals be considered “persons”? One lawyer is working to classify certain animals as “persons” so they can be protected under the law. Specifically, the lawyer wants to send three elephants from the “Big E” fair in New England to a sanctuary, where they will no longer have to give rides to customers. The fair owner disagrees and wants to keep the animals. Listen to hear the arguments on both sides of this complex animal rights issue and then debate: Should elephants be considered property?

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August 22, 2019

6:41

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Haiku about Summer

Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry. These short poems traditionally describe impressions of nature. Haiku are quite popular among poets with a wide range of experience. Listen to hear some examples of modern haiku-inspired poetry and find out why one author says, “if you want to write something perfect, write a haiku.”

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August 21, 2019

4:00

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Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Many California immigrants become their own bosses. For example, one immigrant from Thailand started a Thai food business that will likely be expanding very soon. Experts note that there are some good reasons why immigrants are likely to become entrepreneurs. Listen to learn the causes behind this Californian trend and hear more of one immigrant’s story.

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August 20, 2019

4:34

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Stonewall and AIDS Activism

In 1969, a police raid of a bar frequented by homosexuals called the Stonewall Inn, led to a riot. The bar’s patrons began protesting and reacting violently to discrimination and harassment by the police, who regularly targeted gay bars. About ten years later, the HIV/AIDS epidemic began. This deadly auto-immune disease disproportionately affected gay men, and therefore was essentially ignored by doctors and lawmakers, leading the gay community once again to turn to activism. Listen to learn how the Stonewall riots influenced the fight against AIDS.

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August 19, 2019

3:33

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Boris Johnson Becomes Britain's Prime Minister

Boris Johnson was recently elected the new prime minister of the United Kingdom. His first challenge will be to withdraw Britain from the European Union, which is required under a referendum voted by a slim majority of citizens in 2016. This is a difficult and controversial issue, commonly referred to as “Brexit.” Johnson is a distinctive and divisive figure. Some British citizens like and believe in him, while others find him unlikable, incompetent, and even dangerous. Listen to learn more about this new British leader and what he promises to do as prime minister.

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August 16, 2019

3:44

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Debate: Should Extremist Videos be Removed?

YouTube has started removing videos containing extremist content promoting white supremacy. Some people and organizations support this policy as a way to make social media platforms safer. Others point out that the system for removing videos is imperfect, and this policy could interfere with video creators’ right to freely express themselves. Listen to learn more about YouTube’s new restrictions and then debate: Should YouTube remove extremist videos?

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August 15, 2019

2:51

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Puppy Dog Eyes

Has a dog ever given you “puppy eyes”? If so, you probably did whatever your furry friend wanted. According to a recent study, “puppy eyes” result from thousands of years of evolution impacted by the relationship between humans and dogs. This distinctive expression comes from a specific muscle and creates unique effects that help dogs become “man’s best friend.” Listen to learn more about why “puppy eyes” are so powerful and how studying dogs can help humans learn more about themselves.

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August 14, 2019

4:19

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Working on a Trash Mountain in Delhi

As India produces more and more garbage, giant mountains of trash are growing around its cities. The mountain of waste in New Delhi is nearly as tall as the world famous Taj Mahal. This creates an awful smell and a variety of safety issues, but some poorer Indians have also used it as an opportunity to create their own waste-based businesses. Listen to learn more about how these entrepreneurs turn trash into treasure and the risks they take in mining these man-made garbage mountains.

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August 13, 2019

5:10

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Remembering Justice John Paul Stevens

Retired Supreme Court Justice Paul Stevens recently died at the age of 99. Appointed in 1975, he served on the Supreme Court for decades. He authored numerous important majority opinions for the court and helped to decide many significant cases, even through difficult times and political changes. Listen to learn more about the judicial legacy of Supreme Court Justice Stevens.

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August 12, 2019

3:55

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U.S. Census Goes Forward

“Are you a U.S. citizen?” The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot include that question on the 2020 census, even though the Trump administration wanted to add it. However, the administration is still trying to get as much citizenship data as possible, and the controversy over whether to add this question could still affect the way undocumented immigrants answer the census. Listen to hear about the controversy over adding a citizenship question to the census and where it stands.

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August 9, 2019

3:03

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Debate: Do the Risks of Airdrop Outweigh the Benefits?

AirDrop allows people with iPhones to share pictures and other media with others who are located near them through Bluetooth technology. This means that sometimes, people receive photos or memes on their phones from strangers. While AirDrop offers a convenient way to share files, and many teenagers are having fun with it, some use it in ways that could be harmful. Listen to learn about “AirDrop crossfire” and other uses of the technology and then debate: Do the risks of AirDrop outweigh the benefits?

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August 8, 2019

3:40

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The Limits of Human Endurance

Have you ever wondered how far humans can push themselves physically? A scientist recently conducted a study to help answer this question. He studied athletes who ran six marathons a week for months to learn about what determines their capacity to expend energy over time. Listen to find out more about what researchers understand about human endurance and hear one scientist’s surprising take on what constitutes the height of human capability.

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August 7, 2019

4:34

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Woman Aviator Led the Way

One of the first female U.S. Navy pilots and the first woman air squadron commander recently died. Rosemary Mariner entered the U.S. Navy in the 1970s and rose through the ranks to become a great leader. She inspired many friends and colleagues with her strength of character, her intelligence, and her respectful and supportive attitude. Listen to learn about the effect Rosemary Mariner had on one of her fellow women aviators and on the world at large.

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August 6, 2019

3:37

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Protests in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, protesters have been clashing with police as ongoing conflict on the streets of Hong Kong continues. Activists fear Hong Kong’s democracy is in danger because of the influence the government of mainland China has on their leaders and their lives. Listen to learn why protesters are concerned about the future of Hong Kong and its citizens, and find out what they are willing to do to protect it.

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August 5, 2019

6:55

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Moon Landing Anniversary

It has been 50 years since the first moon landing. Astronaut Michael Collins orbited the moon while his more well-known colleagues Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on its surface. As someone who was just 15 miles away from this world-famous event, Collins offers a unique perspective on the moon landing. Listen to learn about his experience and hear why he believes humans should continue traveling into space today.

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July 31, 2019

2:34

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Celebrating Women's Soccer

When the U.S. women’s national soccer team won the 2019 World Cup, they paraded down the streets of New York City while people tossed confetti to celebrate. This type of ticker-tape parade has been happening for over a hundred years, but this particular event was especially significant for women in America. Listen to find out what made this parade both traditional and unique.

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July 29, 2019

5:10

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Metering Migrants at the Border

A policy adopted by the Customs and Border Protection agency known as “metering” has significantly reduced the number of immigrants being processed daily at the U.S.-Mexico border. While the agency says that they cannot keep up with the large numbers of asylum seekers, migrants and immigration reform advocates say that this slower processing speed causes serious problems. Listen to hear about how metering has affected those seeking asylum in the U.S. through its southern border.

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July 24, 2019

3:16

Spiral stars

Star Gazing Parties

Far from the bright lights of cities and suburbs, amateur astronomers gather to stargaze in the dark at events known as “star parties.” Stargazers enjoy sharing the experience with others who are passionate about dark skies and the faraway places they make visible. Listen to hear about what happens at star parties and what amateur astronomers are viewing in the dark night sky.

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July 22, 2019

4:02

Big fireworks

The Science of Fireworks

One of the world’s favorite holiday traditions has a long history. Fireworks started in ancient China where people used explosives because they were believed to ward away evil spirits. From their beginnings as simple noise makers to the dazzling aerial displays that light up our night skies today, fireworks have relied on chemistry to create the sounds and colors that provide excitement and enjoyment. Listen to hear a chemist explain the history and science behind a worldwide celebratory tradition.

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July 17, 2019

4:22

Kera garlic

Changing Consumers' Minds About "Ugly" Produce

Would you eat a scarred, lumpy carrot or an apple that is oddly shaped? Grocery stores do not typically sell these types of “ugly” produce, but some new companies aim to reduce food waste by selling fruits and vegetables that are rejected by stores. Listen to learn about the benefits of these efforts and find out what else you can do to reduce food waste.

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July 15, 2019

6:36

Mona lisa line

Tourism Overcrowding on the Rise

In recent years, traveling has become easier for people all over the world. This has led to many popular tourist destinations being overcrowded, which can impact the tourist experience as well as the sites themselves. Cities like Paris, France and Tokyo, Japan have been hosting more visitors than they can handle, and special attractions in out-of-the-way places are also drawing unmanageably large crowds. Listen to this story to hear about the reasons for this tourist overcrowding and what tourist destinations are doing about it.

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July 10, 2019

2:05

Disney world

Selling Cupcakes For a Trip to Disney

Many kids want to go to Disney World, but a family trip costs a lot of money. A teen boy started his own business and earned enough to make a fun-filled trip to Florida possible for his whole family. Listen to learn how he did it and what his next goal is.

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July 8, 2019

3:42

Me and my girls in a jeep

Women on D-Day

The 75th anniversary of D-Day marks an important World War II operation and offers an opportunity to commemorate all the people who made sacrifices on D-Day and throughout the war. Though often forgotten, women were critical contributors to the war effort and a key part of the invasion of Normandy by the Allied forces. In particular, women were involved in the French resistance D-Day preparations and took on unique risks and some of the most sensitive jobs. Listen to hear about some of the brave women heroes of the Second World War.

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July 3, 2019

3:39

Those stars tho

College Rocket Scientists

A group of college students recently came together to attempt an extremely challenging task: launching a rocket into space. Large companies and universities invest a lot of time, money, and resources to launch a rocket, but these ambitious students were determined to do their best with much less. Listen to find out how the idea was hatched, what happened at their first launch, and what they hope other students might learn from them.

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July 1, 2019

5:02

Mt everest sign

Regulating Mount Everest Climbs

Climbing Mount Everest has long been the ultimate achievement for many mountaineers. Now many more people are able to attempt the climb, making an already dangerous trip even more so. A variety of factors have come together to make 2019 one of the deadliest years for climbers on Mt. Everest. Listen to this story to hear more about what has increased risk on the tallest mountain in the world.

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June 26, 2019

3:13

Grand canyon south rim

Selfies Can Be Dangerous

Can taking a photo of yourself be dangerous? There has been a recent rise in selfie-related deaths. Many visitors to national and state parks are putting themselves in dangerous situations to get the perfect photo, and some have even lost their lives in the process. Listen to learn about why people risk their lives for selfies and what some organizations are doing to stop this troubling trend.

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