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Current Events

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November 10, 2017

6:01

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Debate: Should Drug Companies Be Sued for Creating the Opioid Epidemic?

Opioid addiction is killing from 35,000 to 50,000 people every year. Ten states and a number of cities and counties are suing opioid makers accusing them of lying about the addictive nature of the powerful painkiller. Many of those lawsuits involve Mike Moore. When Mike Moore was Mississippi's attorney general, he spearheaded the 50-state lawsuit against tobacco companies and won the biggest civil settlement in U.S. history. Now, he's trying to do the same thing against opioid manufacturers and distributors. Listen to hear more about this deadly and complicated crisis, and then debate: Should the drug companies be sued for creating the opioid epidemic?

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November 9, 2017

4:35

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Russian Propaganda and the U.S. Elections

There is evidence that Russian campaigns on social media sent out fake news stories and false conspiracies to create divisions among Americans during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter are being asked about this interference in the first public congressional hearings on Russian propaganda. Listen to hear more about how Russian propaganda affects people’s beliefs and behavior, and how quickly false stories spread.

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November 8, 2017

3:11

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More Women Say #MeToo

Many women recently have tagged their social media posts with the hash tag “Me Too.” These two words are meant to bring attention to sexual assault and highlight its prevalence, since it is not often spoken about. This movement began ten years ago when an African American woman wanted to bring attention to the problem of sexual harassment and assault. Now, in response to movie producer Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault scandal, it has become a movement. Listen to hear more about how social media and the #metoo campaign is helping people speak out about sexual harassment and assault.

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November 7, 2017

4:37

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Barbershop Promotes Reading

Schools are finding creative ways to encourage kids to read. In Fort Worth, Texas, barbershops are giving kids a chance to read while they get their hair cut. Some barbers are doubling as reading coaches—asking kids if they understand what they are reading, helping them with difficult words, and listening as they read aloud. This effort started in Texas with the city schools and similar programs are starting in cities across the country. Listen to hear more about how kids are being encouraged to read by their barbers.

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November 6, 2017

3:49

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Presidential Condolence Calls to Veterans' Families

The Presidents of the United States honor members of the military who have lost their lives in service to the country. The tradition of offering condolences has varied due to circumstances and are different for each president. From Lincoln to Trump, presidents have written letters, called families of the armed services member, and held ceremonies for the families of the fallen. The First Ladies have also found ways to honor service members. Listen to hear examples of this tradition and how it has changed over time.

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November 3, 2017

1:50

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Debate: Should Animals be Allowed in Cafes?

One of the newest trends in coffee shops is welcoming animals. The way these cafes work is that people pay to enter and get a free drink. People who don’t have time or room for a pet can come and spend time with animals, without having to own them. Most people come to pet the cats, rabbits, sheep, or owls in the cafe. But some cafes might be going too far. In South Korea, one cafe welcomes raccoons, a typically wild animal that can be dangerous. Listen to hear about a visit to this cafe and then debate: Should animals be allowed in cafes?

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November 2, 2017

5:15

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Pop-up Shakespeare

Shakespeare was an English playwright and actor. Today his work is seen as culturally significant and serious. His plays are studied and reinterpreted in performances and movies, presenting a wide range of emotions and conflicts. A new interpretation of Shakespeare’s work is a lighter pop-up book. Two actors who perform Shakespeare’s works have partnered with an artist to create the book. They wanted to approach his work playfully and be inviting to all audiences. Listen to hear more about this new version of Shakespeare’s plays.

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November 1, 2017

3:44

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Infrastructure Upgrades Slow in Coming

There is widespread support for infrastructure spending from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Funding roads and bridges is good for the economy. It creates jobs, fuels growth, and helps Americans travel more quickly and safely. President Donald Trump promised a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan as a part of his campaign as well as his presidency. Trump’s new budget has allocated $200 billion in federal money for infrastructure over 10 years, but also cuts programs he calls wasteful, including water facilities and airports. Listen to hear questions and concerns about where the money is going to come from.

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October 31, 2017

3:58

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The Best and Worst Halloween Candy

On Halloween, many children come home with bags full of candy. Some is eaten right away, some is left in the bag for later, and some is traded for more desirable candy. Some people rank their favorite candy based on texture or according to the proportion of ingredients such as the ratio of chocolate to caramel. What candy would be on your favorite list? Listen to this story to hear about one person’s ranking of Halloween candy based on her preferences.

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October 30, 2017

4:29

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A Big Defeat for ISIS

Raqqa is a city in northeastern Syria. ISIS leaders made Raqqa its operations hub and training ground more than three years ago, claiming it as an Islamic caliphate. Recently, after four months of airstrikes, ISIS no longer controls Raqqa. Syrian Democratic Forces, the American-backed militia group made up of Syrian Kurds and Arabs, took control of the city. Many of the people who joined ISIS were attracted by the idea of a physical Islamic state, and without this territory, ISIS may go back to being an underground terrorist organization. Listen to hear more about what might be next for the Islamic State.

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October 27, 2017

4:07

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Debate: Should We Surround Ourselves with People Who Have the Same Values and Beliefs?

Neighborhoods are often chosen by real estate prices and schools, and now they might be chosen by politics. Some people can feel like outsiders if they are living among others who don’t value or believe what they do. One idea is to create conservative Republican enclaves, where everyone shares the same values and feels connected to each other. Others think we should figure out how to exist together with different types of people. Listen to this story and then debate: Should we surround ourselves with people who have the same values and beliefs?

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October 26, 2017

4:07

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Outgrowing Food Allergies

An estimated 1 in 13 children have food allergies. Some are potentially life-threatening and avoiding the allergen can be challenging and stressful. The blood tests and skin prick tests rule out specific food allergies but are not as accurate when confirming food allergies. The oral food challenge, where the food is eaten under the supervision of a doctor has become the gold-standard for determining allergies. Listen to this story about allergies as a health concern and the best way to tell if the food allergies have been outgrown.

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October 25, 2017

2:58

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Electronic Waste Created by Outdated Cell Phones

Most people want to buy new phones with the latest technology, but new devices lead to electronic waste, or e-waste, when old phones are discarded. Phone companies used to offer free phones with contracts, which meant people got new phones every two years. Now contracts are changing and there are new ways people are thinking about phones. One way is the modular approach, where the components are detachable and replaceable. Another is to create longer-lasting phones that are better for the environment. Listen to this story about how new technology can help eliminate electronic waste.

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October 24, 2017

3:54

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Smooth Transition of Power in African Nation

For the first time in 38 years, Angola has a new president. José Eduardo dos Santos had ruled Angola since 1979, soon after its independence from Portugal in 1975. He handpicked his successor, João Lourenço, who was the former Defence Minister. Lourenço won the presidential election and faces the challenge of bringing change to the country. Half of Angola’s citizens live in poverty and the hope is that Lourenço will fight corruption in the country. Listen to hear more about this peaceful transition of power.

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October 23, 2017

3:36

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Generators Power Puerto Rico

About a month after Hurricane Maria, almost 90% of Puerto Rico is without power and many residents have become dependent on generators. Hospitals, restaurants, air traffic control towers and other businesses are now operating with generator power. The dependence on generators has introduced a new level of division between the privileged and the poor for these U.S. citizens. Listen to hear the concerns about generator power and how people in Puerto Rico are surviving after the hurricane.

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October 20, 2017

1:39

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Debate: Does Technology Help or Hurt Writing Skills?

Middle and high school students can spend a lot of time on their phones. Teens use technology to communicate and share information and a new study by the Pew Research Center finds this is helping teens be more creative and collaborative. But many teachers say students are taking shortcuts to writing and finding it difficult to understand longer material. Listen to this story and then debate: Does technology help or hurt writing skills?

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October 19, 2017

3:48

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A New Book by Mark Twain

Even though Mark Twain died more than 100 years ago, a new book was recently published based on his writing. Taking 16 pages of handwritten notes by Mark Twain, two authors collaborated to write a children’s book based on the bedtime stories Twain told his children. They discuss decisions they made throughout the process, including the main character’s race, and the goal they set as they wrote the story. Listen to hear more about this collaboration and the challenges of writing this book.

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October 18, 2017

3:25

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Online Crowd Misidentifies Man as Racist

The white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA in August brought hundreds of people carrying shields, guns, and torches who marched while shouting racist chants. Many people shared photos of these marchers to publicly identify them as racists. But there was at least one person misidentified. A university professor was flooded with people threatening him online because he looked like someone who attended the rally. This event highlights the fact that most people are not experts at identification. Listen to this story to hear the consequences of being mistaken for someone else in the era of social media.

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October 17, 2017

4:32

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Wildfires Devastate Parts of Northern California

Forest fires across Montana, Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California have burned over 8 million acres of land this season. In Northern California, fires have killed at least 23 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses. The dry conditions and extreme heat, along with high winds, have helped the fires spread quickly. Listen to this story about the destruction caused by the fire in a mobile home park in northern California.

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October 16, 2017

3:36

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Las Vegas Shooting Prompts Look at Gun Laws

In Las Vegas, a man shot hundreds of rifle rounds into a crowd at a concert in the deadliest mass shooting in recent history. This has reopened the debate about gun control. Owning guns, hunting and recreational shooting are part of the culture in parts of Nevada. The state gun laws are less restrictive and difficult to enforce. Listen to this story about federal, state and local gun laws.

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October 13, 2017

5:11

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Debate: What Do the National Anthem Protests Mean?

The football field has become a field for demonstrations. American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest against racial injustice consisted of kneeling during the national anthem at the start of NFL games. After President Donald Trump attacked NFL players who have knelt during the anthem, other athletes were inspired to kneel as well, while others locked arms and stood during the anthem. One point of view is that those who kneel are disrespecting the flag, veterans, and America and another is that politics should be removed from football games, and another is that Kaepernick is not showing disrespect and he has the right to protest injustice. Listen to this story and then debate: What do the national anthem protests mean?

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October 12, 2017

2:15

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2017 Nobel Prize Winners in Medicine

The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards given to people who make outstanding contributions in the areas of science, culture, or academics. This year the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine was given to three U.S. scientists for their discoveries about how internal body clocks govern human biology. Our daily rhythms, our sleep and awake cycles, are related to the cycles of the sun. We typically get tired in the evening and feel awake during the day. Listen to hear more about this discovery about how our internal clocks work.

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October 11, 2017

3:49

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History of the Presidential Pardon

One of the most famous presidential pardons came when President Gerald Ford pardoned former President Richard Nixon. Recently, a former sheriff in Arizona and was found guilty of criminal contempt for defying a court order to stop detaining immigrants on suspicion that they were in the country illegally. President Trump pardoned the sheriff, which means he was forgiven of his crime and excused from punishment. Listen to hear the historical context for presidential pardons and about this pardoning, which has prompted questions about ethics and political procedures.

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October 10, 2017

4:47

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How Your Body Responds to Stress

Everyone has experienced stress, which is your body’s response to a demand made on it. A surge of hormones is released when people are stressed and that helps them deal with the danger or threat, but it also affects the nervous system and can cause health problems. When we experience a lot of stress, our bodies don’t easily return to a relaxed state. Listen to hear more about what stress does to our bodies and what we can do about the impact of stress.

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October 9, 2017

3:17

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What Can Be Called Domestic Terrorism?

In Las Vegas, more than 20,000 people were at a music festival when a man shot into the crowd, killing more than 50 people and injuring almost 500. This mass shooting is the deadliest in recent history and has no known links to international terror groups. Investigators are still gathering information about the shooter. Law enforcement is avoiding calling this domestic terrorism. Listen to a discussion of the definition of domestic terrorism and the other cases that have also prompted this discussion.

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October 6, 2017

3:39

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Debate: Should Athletes Be Considered Role Models?

A role model is a person who can be imitated by younger people, and have an impact on their behavior, choices, and values. Sports stars have been looked up to as role models, however some such as Charles Barkley, a retired professional basketball player, have declared that he is not a role model. What are the responsibilities of people who are paid to play sports? Listen to this commentator’s opinion, and then debate: Should athletes be considered role models?

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October 5, 2017

4:26

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Elephant Seals Have Signature Snorts

The sounds of male elephant seals are different and each has a unique rhythm. A new study suggests that alpha males are recognized by their calls during mating season. If other males hear the call, they will scatter. An elephant seal’s call is loud and is also used to signal who they are. Males have unique rhythms and females have calls to threaten and calls to their pups. Listen to hear more about the new discoveries about what the calls of elephant seals mean.

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October 4, 2017

2:41

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Volunteers Clean Up After Mexico's Earthquake

Mexico has had three huge earthquakes within 15 days. One earthquake registered 7.1, killing at least 245 people and injuring more than a thousand people in and around Mexico City. Volunteers, both with and without rescue experience, are searching for survivors in the rubble of collapsed buildings. People around Mexico are gathering to prepare food, hand out water, and support each other. Listen to hear more about how people from Mexico are coming together to help each other during this crisis.

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October 3, 2017

3:42

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Diapers Make a Difference After a Hurricane

After Hurricane Harvey in Texas, many people evacuated their homes and are now living in shelters. Leaving home during an emergency was especially difficult for parents of small children. Even though they brought supplies when they left their homes, an essential item that runs out quickly is diapers. Toddlers need 6-8 every day, and infants need twice as many. Listen to hear more about how this issue is affecting families and how it is being solved.

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October 2, 2017

3:38

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Puerto Rico Without Power After Hurricane

Hurricane Maria landed directly on Puerto Rico, taking down trees and destroying homes. The hurricane seriously damaged the island’s infrastructure creating widespread power outages and damage to cell towers. People are also facing shortages of gas, food, and water. A few people have gas powered generators that are running, but most are in the dark with no way to contact friends and relatives. Listen to this story to learn more about Hurricane Maria’s effect on the people of Puerto Rico.

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September 29, 2017

3:38

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Debate: Can Consequences Change the Way Students Think?

Teens who vandalized an historic black schoolhouse in Virginia got an unusual sentence. The teens pled guilty to spray-painting swastikas and lewd symbols on the building. Instead of jail time, the judge ordered them to visit the U.S. Holocaust Museum and read books written by black, Jewish and Afghan authors and write essays about them. Listen to this story and then debate: Can consequences change the way students think?

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September 28, 2017

3:54

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Teachers Step Up During Hurricane

Houston, Texas is recovering from Hurricane Harvey and students were delayed in going back to school. Many students are staying in shelters and teachers are volunteering to provide learning opportunities to children who were traumatized or displaced by the hurricane. One special education teacher created a group of educators called Teachers Volunteering in Shelters to help these students. Listen to hear more about these volunteers.

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September 27, 2017

2:28

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The Link Between Research and Inventions

Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year on basic research. A new study shows that money is not wasted since there is a strong link between basic research and future patented inventions. Researchers studied 4.8 million patents issued by the U.S. Patent Office and 32 million scientific papers and found a strong link between new technologies and research. Listen to hear more about this link.

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September 26, 2017

3:18

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Kenyan Elections Annulled for Fraud

In a surprise and historic ruling, Kenya's Supreme Court annulled the recent presidential election. It threw out the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta due to illegalities and irregularities, and ordered a new election within two months. This ruling was a surprise and sends a message that even those in power can be challenged by the court. Listen to hear more about these elections and this historic decision not only for an African nation but for any country.

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September 25, 2017

3:50

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Verdict in St. Louis Ignites Protests

In 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri, a police officer shot and killed a 24-year-old black man following a car chase. The officer, Jason Stockley, claimed it was self-defense, but he was heard saying on an in-car video camera that he was going to kill the driver Anthony Lamar Smith. Recently the case went to court and Officer Stockley was acquitted in the fatal shooting of Smith. People in St. Louis have been protesting this verdict over the course of many days. Listen to an alderman in St. Louis discuss his frustration and disappointment in the verdict.

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September 22, 2017

3:16

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Debate: Social Media or 911: Who Do You Ask for Help?

In neighborhoods in and near Houston, Texas, many people stranded by the flooding brought on by Hurricane Harvey were not able to get through to 911. That's when social media sites such as Facebook, Nextdoor and Twitter became important connectors for people to ask for help. Some think these are effective when calls to emergency personnel don’t go through, and others encourage people to stick to 911 instead of social media. Listen to this story and then debate: Social media or 911: Who do you ask for help?

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September 21, 2017

5:04

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Why We're Not So Great at Recycling

More and more trash is being recycled instead of going into a landfill, but we are not very good at sorting out what is not recyclable. There are 400-500 tons of recycling that come into one facility in Rhode Island each day. In the pre-sort area, workers stand at the conveyor belt and remove anything that isn’t recyclable, especially items that will get tangled in the machinery. Some people are still confused about what can be recycled, such as plastic bags or kitchen knives. Listen to this story to hear about the types of trash at a recycling facility and the steps workers and agencies are taking to solve this problem.

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September 20, 2017

2:29

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Why Some Animals Are Faster Than Others

Animals with long limbs and lots of muscle should be faster than other animals. In reality, even though a giraffe has much longer legs than a cheetah, it runs only about half as fast. This is because there are other factors involved in acceleration and speed of animals, such as how much energy they have to burn. Listen to learn about how new research on animal speeds can give scientists clues about the lives of prehistoric animals.

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September 19, 2017

2:56

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Message in a Bottle Travels 500 Miles

A message in a bottle washed up on a beach this week in Gaza, a small Palestinian territory. It traveled nearly 500 miles across the Mediterranean Sea, from the Greek island of Rhodes. It floated past Turkey and Cyprus and was found by a 54-year-old Palestinian fisherman. For a decade, the militant group Hamas has controlled the area of Gaza and mail sent there must first pass through Israeli security. The message in the bottle included an email address which provided a connection between the British couple who sent the message and the Palestinian fisherman. Listen to hear more about the extraordinary journey of this message.

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September 18, 2017

3:56

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Hurricanes and Climate Change

Hurricane Harvey was enormous and Hurricane Irma had record high winds of 185 miles per hour. This is very unusual, but not unprecedented. What’s unusual is that they both hit land. Global warming creates more heat, and the more heat you have, the bigger the storms. Listen to hear about the relationship between big storms and climate change.

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