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Current Events

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March 31, 2015

3:59

Plane Crash Answers

Last Tuesday, March 24, 2015, a German plane flying from Barcelona, Spain to Dusseldorf, Germany was crashed on purpose by Andres Lubitz, its 27-year-old co-pilot. All 150 people on board were killed. When the pilot went to the bathroom, Lubitz locked the cockpit and took the plane off auto-pilot, leading to a 8-minute direct descent into the mountainside. Authorities have uncovered evidence that helps explain what happened, but doesn’t identify the co-pilot's motives. Listen to learn how this tragedy is changing the airline industry.

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March 29, 2015

4:02

Can a Canadian-Born Politician be President?

The first candidate in the 2016 US presidential race has announced he is running for president. But there could be a major problem with his candidacy. Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. Cruz was naturalized at birth because his mother is an American citizen. He renounced his dual US-Canadian citizenship in 2013. But the US Constitution says the US president must be a “natural born citizen.” Listen to learn more about what the Constitution says on this issue and what the founding fathers were protecting against when they included this requirement in Article 2.

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March 27, 2015

3:03

Women on the Money

When you look at traditional American currency, from bills to coins, you will see the portraits of presidents, founders, and inventors. And almost all of them are men. A group of women in New York is trying to change this in time for the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2020. The campaign Women On 20s is proposing that Andrew Jackson be removed from the twenty dollar bill and replaced with a famous woman chosen by popular vote. Listen to learn more about the candidates they are proposing and why they think Jackson is the ideal president to replace.

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March 26, 2015

5:00

Gerrymandering and the Constitution

In the U.S. all voters are required to cast their ballots in the district that’s been assigned to them by their state legislature. The state has the power to create and change legislative districts. In some states legislative districts look like jigsaw puzzles, created to increase the chance that the party in power remains in power. This process is called gerrymandering. Some states are fighting this practice by creating independent commissions to control redistricting. One case has risen to the U.S. Supreme court, where the constitutionality of independent commissions is being challenged.

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March 25, 2015

7:01

Body Clocks

The human body is complex. It has long been thought that body systems are synchronized through a master clock in the brain. But recent studies have found that virtually all cells and all organs in our bodies have their own clock. These systems and cells are often in sync. But what happens when things go awry? Listen to learn more about how clocks in the human body work together to keep us going.

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March 24, 2015

2:33

Equality for Women

In 1995, the United Nations held the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China to focus on issues of gender equity. Twenty years later, the UN has released a report about the status of women in the world today. From areas of progress to inequities that remain, listen to learn more about the findings in the report.

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March 23, 2015

4:18

Should College Athletes Get Paid?

With college basketball’s March Madness Tournament heating up, all eyes are on college sports and the money they generate. From ticket sales, to merchandise, and TV rights, college sports bring more than just pride to their schools; they also generate huge amounts of money. College athletes are awarded scholarships to cover tuition, but they don’t get paid anything else. Is this fair? Athletes are speaking out and telling their stories of financial need. Listen to hear about one former college athlete who is challenging this system in court.

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March 20, 2015

3:57

The Donner Party

As the United States grew as a nation, people moved West seeking opportunity. In 1846 a group of 87 pioneers, called the Donner Party, left Illinois for California in a wagon train. The westward pioneers were trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains from November to February because of heavy snow. More than half the party died from starvation and disease. Some who survived did so by eating the remains of the less fortunate pioneers. This made the Donner Party the most infamous group of Westward migrants. Listen to learn more about the history of this trip from a descendant of a Donner Party survivor.

Note: This story contains a discussion of cannibalism.

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March 19, 2015

3:55

Hospitals of the Future

Hospitals have a reputation for being drab and sterile, but a new wave of hospital design is changing what patients can expect. An aging population, and increased access to healthcare due to the Affordable Care Act, has spurred a new era in hospital development. Listen to learn how two new hospitals in Dallas are revolutionizing the look of of patient care.

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March 18, 2015

4:21

Frog Dissection

Animal dissection has been used for centuries as a tool to better understand the human body. Technology has made virtual dissections possible - allowing young people to see the inner workings of frogs through a computer program or app. This technology cannot give students the real life, visceral experience of cutting through skin or experiencing the way organs fit together, leading many educators to continue to champion real dissection. Listen to learn how frog dissections can impact students and teachers.

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March 17, 2015

3:32

Police and the Constitution

Recently there’s been more violence in Ferguson, Missouri. Two police officers were shot last week while protecting the police department during a protest. The violence comes months after police shot and killed an unarmed black teenager last August. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigated the police department in Ferguson and found a pattern of discrimination against black residents in everything from traffic stops to use of force. Listen to learn more about this DOJ report and how police in Ferguson were found to be violating the Constitution.

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March 15, 2015

4:07

Gym Class for Saudi Girls

The rights of women around the world vary widely. Women in Saudi Arabia have fought for their right to drive, be part of government, compete in the Olympics and, most recently, attend gym class. The school system in Saudi Arabia is divided by gender. Boys schools have long had gym class; a new policy would allow girls schools the same. The reaction within the country has been mixed. Some argue it breaks religious law, others say it is a natural and healthy way for young girls to grow. Listen to hear from women in Saudi Arabia.

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March 13, 2015

2:19

Religious Expression and Fashion

The First Amendment protects freedom of religion and freedom of expression, but what about religious expression? The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case where religious expression and company policy clash. When a 17-year-old Muslim woman applied to work at Abercrombie and Fitch, her applicant score was downgraded because she wore a headscarf to her interview. Abercrombie argues that wearing caps is against their “Look Policy” and that Samantha Elauf should have asked for an accommodation. Elauf argues that Abercrombie broke the law banning religious discrimination in employment. Listen to learn more about this First Amendment debate.

Update: The Supreme Court ruled in an 8-to-1 decision in favor of a Muslim woman who was denied a job because of her headscarf.

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March 12, 2015

3:47

Boston Marathon Bombing Trial

The trial of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has begun despite multiple attempts by his defense team to get the trial moved out of Boston. A pool of nearly 1,400 Bostonians has been whittled down to a group of 21 jurors and alternates but the question still remains - is it possible for Tsarnaev to get his sixth amendment constitutional right to a fair jury trial of his peers in a city so negatively impacted by his actions? Listen to learn more about the process of jury selection and the issue of bias.

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March 11, 2015

4:48

Arming Teachers

Mass shootings in gun free zones like schools have some Western lawmakers considering legislation that would eliminate these zones. Colorado, Wyoming and North Dakota are weighing proposals that would allow guns in schools, in the hopes of avoiding future mass shootings. The Second Amendment of the Constitution is being cited by lawmakers who support the proposal. Listen to learn how the proposals differ by state and how educators and lawmakers are responding to this proposal.

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March 10, 2015

7:16

Selma 50 Years Later

Fifty years ago, a bloody confrontation on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama exposed the nation to the racial injustice and brutality of the American South. This event paved the way for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, forcing all municipalities to allow black residents to register to vote. Listen to learn more about this historic event in the Civil Rights Movement from people who participated in Bloody Sunday.

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March 6, 2015

4:37

Visiting Mars

In 2024 crews of four will be sent to Mars with the goal of creating a permanent human settlement there. The mission is being planned by a non-profit organization in the Netherlands called Mars One. 200,000 people applied to be one of the first four people to make this all expense paid trip. Mars One has narrowed the applicants down to 100. Shirelle Webb, a 22 year old college student from Texas has made the cut. Listen to learn why she wants to be considered for the one-way trip.

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March 5, 2015

4:54

Supervising Children

How do you get to school? What age is the right age for kids to walk to school alone? A rise in parental neglect cases has sparked a debate across the country about when and where it’s appropriate for kids to go solo. Listen to learn more about the factors that parents and authorities consider when judging what is neglect and what isn’t.

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March 4, 2015

3:27

Art Stolen by The Nazis

When the Nazi Party expanded its power and displaced Jews in Germany and other European countries, Nazis confiscated their belongings. Before becoming a politician and leader of the Nazi party, Adolf Hitler was an aspiring artist, so art was a particular target for him. He had plans to build his own personal museum after World War II, using 14 pieces of art owned by Baron Rothschild of Vienna. Listen to learn how the art, jewelry and rare books of the Rothschild family made it from the Nazi’s possession to an art museum in Boston.

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March 3, 2015

4:14

The Brain and Pain

We have all experienced pain. Whether it is pain in your hand, leg, arm or chest - your perception of pain is controlled by the brain. New scientific studies have increased our understanding of how the brain can increase and decrease our perception of pain. Listen to learn more about the connections between the brain and pain.

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March 1, 2015

4:22

Oklahoma Has More Earthquakes Than California

When Americans think of earthquakes, they often think of California. However, in the last few years, Oklahoma has become the leader in earthquakes in the continental United States. Some areas in Oklahoma experience two to three earthquakes a day! These quakes are being linked to a modern oil production technique known as hydraulic fracturing. It’s the process used to dispose of wastewater created during the extraction of oil from shale. Listen to learn how communities are responding to the quakes and the oil companies that might be creating them.

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February 28, 2015

4:17

What color is that dress?

A Twitter storm has broken out over the color of a dress posted online with the simple question: What color is it? This story goes beyond the social media chatter to look at the scientific reasons why we all see colors differently.

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February 27, 2015

3:27

Voltaire's Surging Popularity

When Voltaire wrote Treatise on Tolerance in 1763, it was an important and relevant work. The work’s message of religious tolerance is experiencing a resurgence over 250 years later in modern day France. After attacks by religious extremists on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, people in France who are looking for answers and a denunciation of violence in the name of religion are finding it in Voltaire. Listen to learn what inspired this 18th century book and why people are turning to it today.

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February 25, 2015

7:04

Fighting Cancer

When the human body gets a cold, the immune system goes into action, killing the invading cells that are making you sick. However, when a cancerous tumor begins to grow, the immune system cannot detect it. A new cancer treatment, known as immunotherapy, is working to change this invisibility so that the immune system can fight off cancer itself, without the help of surgery and chemotherapy. Listen to learn how cancer cells work and how this groundbreaking treatment is fighting them.

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February 24, 2015

3:54

How the Sun Works

The sun is a star that sits at the center of our Solar System. It provides heat and a gravitational pull for all of the planets that orbit it. Scientists have long believed they knew what the sun was made up of and how it worked. When new evidence upset the balance between theory and observation, a solar physicist set out to reproduce the way the sun functions in a laboratory. Listen to hear more about how the sun works.

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February 23, 2015

7:45

Remembering Malcolm X

Malcolm X was both charismatic and feared, and he advocated black power as a response to white racism. On February 21, 1965 he was assassinated while on stage giving a speech in Harlem. Thirty-nine year old Malcolm X was shot by three gunmen from the Nation of Islam, a group he had left the previous year. For the 50th anniversary of his killing, listen to this story about the life and legacy of this influential black leader.

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February 20, 2015

5:06

The Reality of Roads

Large American cities are known for their traffic jams - roads full of cars going nowhere. A new report from the U.S. Department of Transportation predicts that in 30 years this gridlock will be occurring in nearly all cities. As the U.S. population and U.S. manufacturing grow, more people and manufactured goods will be on the move. Our current infrastructure of roads and bridges will need a major overhaul to keep up. Listen to learn more about the problems and proposed solutions to this infrastructure puzzle.

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February 19, 2015

3:54

Trusting Computers to Make Decisions

Complex computer algorithms designed to weigh options and make choices are consistently outperforming humans. The algorithms aren’t perfect, though, and many people have a hard time trusting them. Why do we feel this way? Would you trust a computer to make an important decision in your life? Listen to learn more about how algorithms work and why humans often mistrust them.

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February 18, 2015

3:45

Diversity on Television

ABC’s new show “Fresh Off The Boat” is the first show on network television to feature an Asian American family in over 20 years. The story of a Taiwanese family who moves to Orlando Florida is inspired by the life of chef Eddie Huang. The show is starting a much needed conversation about diversity on television and the danger of having so few Asian American characters on television. Listen to learn more about the challenge of creating culturally real content in this fresh new show.

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February 17, 2015

3:22

A Rare Earth Monopoly

As the game Monopoly taught us as children, having a monopoly on something can be very profitable. In the 1990’s one man found himself selling Scandium, a rare chemical element used in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and realized he was the only person with that particular job. Listen to learn how he found this job and how different types of monopolies have different financial outcomes and economic impact.

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February 15, 2015

6:07

The End of Office Supply Stores?

Two office supply giants are hoping to join together to increase their value. Staples is planning to buy Office Depot so that they can compete with the sale of inexpensive office supplies at stores like Walmart as well as online. This shift says something larger about the economy and the way we work, buy and use technology. Listen to learn how the market is changing as we digitize work

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February 13, 2015

4:54

Careers in a Skilled Trade

American high school students are going to college at some of the highest levels in history. This increased emphasis on college readiness has meant a loss of focus on vocational education programs. As a result it’s created a void of skilled trade workers, such as mechanics, plumbers and electricians. As a generation of tradesmen retire, the U.S. education system might have to rethink how they approach teaching skilled trades. Listen to learn more about this debate.

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February 12, 2015

4:08

Where to Put the Snow?

New England has been hit hard by snow in the last month. Storm after storm has left unprecedented amounts of snow to be removed from the streets in cities like Boston, Massachusetts. Where does all of this snow go and what happens to it? Listen to hear how the City of Boston is dealing with mounds of snow.

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February 10, 2015

2:15

A New Harper Lee Novel

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee has long been considered a classic in American Literature. Its look at race and injustice in the South through the eyes of a young girl known as Scout endures to this day, more than fifty years after its release. Fans of the novel received an amazing surprise last week when it was announced that Harper Lee will be publishing another book. “Go Set A Watchman” features the same world and characters of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Listen to learn the fascinating story behind the new novel and how it inspired the original.

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February 8, 2015

2:17

Budget Priorities

President Obama’s 2015 White House budget reflects a new focus on the middle class. After cutting the deficit and coming out of the recession the President is using the budget to target uneven economic growth and support the middle class. Listen to learn why and how the president is shifting his budget focus.

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February 6, 2015

3:55

Measles Outbreak

Measles was a common and dangerous disease in the U.S. until measles vaccination became widespread in the 1980s. But recently an outbreak of measles in the U.S. has focused new attention on the disease. Measles is the most contagious infectious disease in the world, yet people remain unvaccinated. The disease is now rare in developed nations but continues to thrive in human hosts across the globe. Listen to learn more about measles transmission and prevention.

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February 5, 2015

3:56

Empathy, War and Video Games

People often play video games to escape reality or fight pretend wars. Journalists are combining video games and news to flip this reality - bringing real images of war to viewers through the virtual reality of video games. From the Syrian Civil War to conflict over oil, listen to learn how virtual reality is being used to generate empathy and support deeper understanding of existing conflicts and complex systems.

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February 4, 2015

3:55

Preserving Religion's Past

The militant group ISIS has displaced Christians from Northwestern Iraq in their quest to create an Islamic state. This displacement has threatened the community and its ancient heritage. A group of monks in Iraq have saved a library of ancient Christian manuscripts from destruction. Listen to learn more about this community and their rescue mission.

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February 3, 2015

4:32

Environmental Kids

Going to the movies can be entertaining, but for some young people it can also be life changing. Short documentaries showing young people working to protect the planet are inspiring other youth to take action and stand up for change. Listen to learn more about these documentaries and the efforts they have inspired.

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February 1, 2015

2:57

Nuclear Power in India

The demand for electricity in India is rising, but India relies on coal for the majority of their power. The hope of a new deal with the United States is to help India transition from dirty coal to cleaner nuclear energy. U.S. companies will sell nuclear technology to Indian power companies so they can transition to a cleaner energy source. This might be good for the earth, but what about for security? Listen to learn about the pros and cons of this international energy deal.

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