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Current Events

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December 4, 2014

5:38

Keeping Time

We use clocks throughout the day to mark the passage of time and organize our days, but what is time? For scientists who study time this is a surprisingly difficult question and it is becoming more complicated as even more accurate clocks are developed. Listen to learn more about a clock that is so accurate the passage of time varies based on where the clock is located.

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December 3, 2014

3:43

Civil Rights Activists Honored

Fifty years ago, on June 21, 1964, three young men went missing. They were part of Freedom Summer, an effort to register black residents to vote in segregated Mississippi. They were murdered by the local Ku Klux Klan. When their bodies were found a month later, the outrage led to the passage of civil rights protections. On November 24, 2014 President Obama posthumously awarded these three men the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to honor their sacrifice and work towards equality.

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December 1, 2014

4:30

Ferguson Protests

On Sunday November 23rd, a grand jury in St. Louis, Missouri decided there was not enough evidence to indict, or bring a case against, Darren Wilson. Wilson is the white Ferguson police officer who killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown on August 9, 2014. The city and surrounding communities erupted into protests at the news that the police officer wouldn’t be charged. There were also peaceful protests around the country. Use this public radio story to discuss the decision and the protests.

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November 29, 2014

3:12

The Inspiration for Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’

When Jack Kerouac’s novel 'On the Road' was published in 1957 it shocked a generation of readers. The novel followed Kerouac’s travels and counterculture lifestyle. But it was the stream of consciousness style that set the literary world on its head and made it the anchor text for the Beat Generation. Kerouac didn’t always write this way; in fact his first novel didn’t have any spontaneous prose. What inspired Kerouac’s dramatic departure to stream of consciousness? Listen to learn more about his inspiration and the “holy grail of the Beat Generation.”

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November 27, 2014

5:25

Millennials and Reading

It is hard for books to compete with the instant communication of Twitter or Facebook and the endless content on websites likes Buzzfeed. Book loving young people are now using these websites to create content honoring or inspired by books. Listen to learn more about these adaptations and their potential impact on literacy.

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November 26, 2014

5:00

Providing Programs to Curb Child Migration

The number of child migrants coming to the United States from Central America has slowed, but efforts to stop the underlying violence in these countries is growing. The United States Agency for International Development (USAid) is partnering with local government and police forces in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to bring violence prevention efforts that have worked in the United States to these communities. Listen to learn more about this programming and its impact.

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November 25, 2014

7:47

Virus Science

In 2002, bats brought SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) to humans in China and killed 800 people. Now camels have brought MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) to people in the Middle East, sickening nearly 900 people already and killing one-third of those infected. Researchers in North Carolina have been studying MERS so they can better understand the virus. But this research has been shut down because the US government believes it's too dangerous. Listen to learn why this research is considered so dangerous, and yet so important.

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November 23, 2014

4:40

Executive Action on Immigration

On Thursday November 20, 2014, President Obama announced an Executive Action to provide relief from deportation to some undocumented immigrants. Republicans argue that Obama doesn’t have the authority to take this action alone, while immigration activists are disappointed that the plan does not go further. This public radio story outlines the specifics of the Executive Action.

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November 20, 2014

3:53

Temple Mount

In 1967, a brief war between Israeli and Palestinian forces led Israel to capture the Old City of Jerusalem, which included the holy of sites in both Jewish and Muslim religions. The Temple Mount has become a point of tension among Israeli and Palestinian communities. From who can visit and pray there to who controls the space, this is igniting conflict as right wing Jewish politicians fight for more control and access to the site.

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November 19, 2014

5:28

Art Exhibit Celebrates Walden

For many, Henry David Thoreau is best know for his 1854 experiment in simplicity, living in the woods of Massachusetts on Walden Pond. The resulting book 'Walden, or Life in the Woods,' has connected generations of readers to Thoreau's vision of self-reliance, closeness to nature, and transcendentalism. An art museum located near Walden Pond has launched a show, Walden Revisited, with works inspired by and responding to Thoreau’s work.

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November 18, 2014

3:33

Acorn Snacks

Walnuts, pecans, peanuts and cashews are all nuts you typically see in the store and are healthy to eat. But what about acorns? Acorns, the tough nuts that fall from Oak trees are beloved by squirrels but rarely make it to the dinner table. In this public radio story we hear from a wild food advocate who is teaching people to eat acorns. We also hear about the history of eating acorns and the role of acorns in traditional Native American food.

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November 16, 2014

3:47

Comet Landing

Man has made it to the moon, rovers have made it to Mars, and now a lander is on a comet. On Wednesday, November 12th the European Space Agency landed a probe on comet 67P, which is 300 million miles from Earth. Sticking the landing was a huge achievement and gives scientists an opportunity to better understand comets and their role in providing the foundations for life.

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November 13, 2014

7:47

Giving Directly to the Poor

Traditional charity models give people in need food, clothing, job training, or health care. But they don’t typically give cash. This is changing with a new charity called Give Directly, which gives money directly to recipients, no strings attached, and then lets them choose what to spend it on. This public radio story takes you to Kenya to hear how the process works and what people spend their money on.

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November 12, 2014

6:51

Tearing Down the Berlin Wall

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communism in West Germany. The Berlin Wall was a physical and emotional divider of democratic East Germany and communist West Germany. When it was torn down in 1989, an unlikely American TV star played a surprising role in the fall of the wall. David Hasselhoff of the hit TV show Baywatch, sang a concert to crowds at the Brandenburg gate. This public radio story remembers that moment in history and its impact on German citizens.

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November 11, 2014

2:33

Viruses in Poop

Bacteria and viruses are the source of most illnesses. A new source of ancient viruses has been found in the Canadian Arctic in the poo of caribou. Caribou, also known as reindeer, have lived and pooped in cold weather for millennia, so their frozen excrement is a source for ancient viruses. This public radio story introduces us to the scientist who discovered the DNA of two new viruses in 700 year old frozen Caribou waste.

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November 9, 2014

3:21

Wounded Veterans Memorial

The National Mall in Washington, D.C. has long honored the fallen of American war heroes, but what about those who survived but lost parts of themselves to war? The first memorial honoring disabled veterans opened Sunday, October 5, 2014 after twenty years of fundraising and advocacy by disabled veterans primarily from the Vietnam war. This public radio story brings you the voices of disabled veterans and analyzes the impact of war and the memorial that honors these veterans.

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November 7, 2014

4:08

What is Quarantine?

From New Jersey to Maine, there are ongoing discussions about how far quarantine should go to prevent the spread of Ebola disease. But what is quarantine? This public radio story explains the origins of government action to prevent the spread of infectious disease like the bubonic plague and influenza. It will get your students talking about the pros and cons of proactive government efforts.

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November 6, 2014

4:00

Sleep Clears Toxins

When people don’t get enough sleep they aren’t able to think clearly, but why? A new study has uncovered what happens in the brain of animals as they sleep. These findings shed light on why people and animals need sleep and help researchers better understand the links between sleep and Alzheimers. Listen to this public radio story about why sleep is important to brain health.

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November 5, 2014

4:49

Homeless Student

Being the top student in your high school class is difficult under the best of circumstances. This audio tells the story of a remarkable young woman, Rashema Melson, who graduated as valedictorian of her high school, despite six years of homelessness. Listen to learn more directly from Rashema herself.

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November 4, 2014

8:48

Helping the Blind See

Human embryonic stem cells are able to become any kind of tissue in the body. Because of this, many researchers see huge potential for curing and preventing disease. Up until now this has been theory, but a new study has had early success in using stem cells to improve the eyesight of the blind. This sound-rich story takes you into the operating room to hear the eye surgery and meet someone whose life was changed by the procedure.

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November 2, 2014

3:50

Sunken U-Boat Tells Story

World War II was full of battlefronts, Europe, Africa, Asia, but what about on the shores of America? Nautical archaeologists have found evidence of secretive fighting that was going off right off America’s East coast between German submarines, known as U-Boats, and American freight vessels carrying supplies to Europe. A new discovery of a sunken German U-Boat and U.S. freight vessel side by side is helping historians better understand this period of WWII history, known as The Battle of the Atlantic.

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October 31, 2014

5:52

History of Witches

When we imagine a witch today, we think about a halloween costume with a pointy black hat, warts and a broom. This public radio story takes us back to a darker period in colonial America, when people believed that witches lived among them unnoticed. At this time, accusations of being a witch led to the Salem witch trials and the execution of more than a dozen women. We hear from an author who recently compiled a book about the reality behind these accusations of witchery, and what they say about society and stereotypes.

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October 30, 2014

3:07

Stateless Kurds Shape Region

What happens to a group of people who have no state to represent them? This happened to the Kurdish population after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. The Kurds, a cultural and ethnic group, wanted a unified state but instead European powers split their community among four states - Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. This public radio story can be a great starting point for a conversation about statelessness, identity and minority rights.

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October 29, 2014

3:53

Living in a Drought

California is in the middle of a four year drought. The city of Santa Cruz has stepped up its conservation efforts with tough water restrictions. Water use is rationed by household, pushing residents to conserve in every way possible. This public radio story takes you to Santa Cruz and sheds light on how the city uses high penalties and water school to get people on board with water conservation.

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October 28, 2014

4:23

Absentee Voting

On Tuesday November 4th, there is a national mid-term election with all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives up for election and 33 of 100 Senate seats are contested. 38 states are electing governors. 33 states allow qualified voters to cast their ballots early. But that’s more complicated than it sounds. Listen to this public radio story to learn how voting early can be problematic.

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October 27, 2014

4:09

Gas Prices Drive Growth

The price of a gallon of gas is dropping dramatically, in some cases more than 25 cents a gallon. This drop in price will mean people have more money to spend on other things. This public radio story analyzes the true economic impact this price drop could have on the economy as a whole.

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October 24, 2014

5:56

The Word Genocide

Although the concept of genocide has been around for a long time, the word “genocide” is relatively new. A new documentary tells the story of a Polish man who coined the term in 1943, and then advocated for its widespread adoption and recognition. He possessed a strong sense of justice, and he felt determined that crimes related to genocide should be prosecuted. Listen to hear more about this inspirational man and the powerful documentary that tells his story.

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October 23, 2014

8:27

Fixing Genes

Illness can be caused by viruses and bacteria, but some very serious illnesses come from your actual genes, your DNA. Scientist have been able to identify genes that cause illness but until now they haven’t been able to fix them. A new discovery creates the framework for editing these problematic genes. This public radio story tells the unlikely story of this discovery and discusses its potential.

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October 22, 2014

7:17

Breaking Barriers: The Navy's Highest Ranking Woman

When Michelle Howard was growing up, women weren’t admitted to the Naval Academy. Now she is second in command of the Navy. And she is the first African American woman to earn the rank of a four-star admiral. This conversation with her will inspire listeners to pursue their dreams, overcome barriers, and find community no matter where you are.

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October 21, 2014

4:16

How Video Games Become Addictive

If you have ever had trouble putting down an addictive video game, you are not alone. Video games are actually designed using behavioral science to ensure that you will want to keep playing. This story gives you a behind the scenes look at how game designers plan to get you hooked.

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October 20, 2014

5:21

Status of Treatment for Ebola

The first in person in the United States has died of Ebola. This has health officials, health workers, and everyday people worried and curious about the disease. This public radio story answers questions about Ebola and deals with the facts about how Ebola is being treated. No hype - just serious questions and answers that can help us all better understand this deadly disease.

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October 17, 2014

5:12

Nutella Drives Nut Production

The creamy chocolate, hazelnut spread called Nutella is experiencing a surge in popularity. Kids eat it on bread for breakfast, adults snack on it with bananas and restaurants serve nutella crepes. The increase in demand is putting pressure on the world’s hazelnut crops, which are primarily in Turkey. Listen to this public radio story to learn about the history and current day economics of Nutella.

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October 16, 2014

3:35

Indonesian Cave Paintings

Cave painting has long been thought to be developed by early humans in Europe. A new discovery of equally old cave paintings on an island in Indonesia has upset this perspective and is pushing scientists to look even farther back to our human origins in Africa. Listen to this public radio story to hear more about the cave paintings themselves and to learn how archeologists discovered their true age.

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October 15, 2014

4:05

India Goes to Mars Cheaply

India successfully sent a spacecraft and probe to orbit Mars in September. The United States also has a probe orbiting Mars- but their mission costs ten times as much as the India mission. Why is that? From spacecraft, to orbit shape, to payroll - this public radio story explores why these price tags were so different.

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October 14, 2014

3:40

Protecting the White House

The Secret Service has been under scrutiny this month for high profile failures to protect President Obama and the First Family. First there was the successful attempt of fence jumper Omar Gonzalez to enter the White House with a knife. Then an armed man was found on an elevator with the president. Now there are calls for the Secret Service to tighten up its efforts to keep the President safe. Listen to this public radio story to learn more about these lapses and what can be done to strengthen the Secret Service.

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October 13, 2014

4:11

Recycling Food Waste

The Seattle City Council is launching a mandatory composting program to stop people from throwing food waste in the trash. Mandatory recycling has expanded from yard waste, to normal recyclables, and now to compostable food waste. With the addition of a third trash bin, the city hopes to collect 100,000 tons of food waste a year. Listen to this public radio story to hear about the motivations, logistics, and goals of the program.

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October 10, 2014

8:35

America Before Columbus

Columbus Day is celebrated every October, but our understanding of Christopher Columbus and his “discovery” of America has changed dramatically since Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1937. This change of perception has come with more knowledge of what the Americas and Native American cultures were truly like before Europeans arrived. Highly complex and organized communities could be found in places like the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan. This public radio story paints a vivid picture of the Americas before Columbus and compares our original understandings of the area with reality.

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October 9, 2014

4:50

Curtailing Weapons Exports in Germany

Germany is one of the top three exporters of weapons but the new economy minister is working to curb exports by enforcing arms rules and stopping sales to countries not in the European Union or NATO. His actions have politicians, arms exporters and workers upset that he is risking German jobs, security and reputation. Critics argue that other countries will take over production from Germany. This public radio story looks at both sides of the issue and can spark debate about who is responsible for weapons falling into the hands of dangerous groups.

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October 8, 2014

4:42

Preparing for a Future of Flooding: Tearing Down Homes

In recent years natural disasters have highlighted the dangers of living along the coast in a time of rising sea levels and unpredictable weather. People with homes on the coast face a difficult decision as their homes lose value. Should they try and sell their homes and move, or stay and hope for the best? State governments and environmental groups are increasingly supporting people moving away, so that land can be reclaimed as a storm buffer. Listen to this public radio story to hear from homeowners who are in this difficult position.

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October 7, 2014

5:46

Preparing for a Future of Flooding: Build Parks

Nearly two years ago Hurricane Sandy devastated communities on the New Jersey coast, leaving governments, scientists, architects, and citizens looking for innovative solutions to protect against natural disasters. This public radio story looks at the design and thinking behind the New Meadowlands Project in New Jersey. From the appeal of a new Central Park, to the protection wetlands provide neighboring communities from flooding, this story will get your students thinking about the benefits and challenges of implementing big environmental protection projects.

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