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Current Events

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August 2, 2017

4:09

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Understanding the Vanilla Shortage

There is a global vanilla crisis. Recently there’s been a global shortage of vanilla that’s affecting bakeries and ice cream shops across the country. The spice is primarily grown in Madagascar, an island off the southeast coast of Africa. Listen to this story to hear what caused this shortage and the dangers and problems faced by vanilla growers.

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July 26, 2017

4:54

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Donald Trump Jr. Met with Russians

The United States Intelligence Community has concluded that Russia interfered with the U.S. election. The Russian election scandal grows larger with the latest revelation that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign. The meeting had eight attendees and Trump Jr. was told he would be given damaging information on Hillary Clinton. The question now is whether or not his meeting broke the law. Listen to this story to hear a law professor’s opinion on the meeting with Russian government officials.

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July 19, 2017

7:58

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Corals in the Great Barrier Reef Struggle to Stay Alive

Earth’s largest living organism, the Great Barrier Reef, has had record losses of coral in the last few years. A team of scientists estimate that an average of one-third of the corals along the entire Great Barrier Reef died between March and November of 2016. The global rise in greenhouse gas emissions has made ocean temperatures rise and has contributed to the number of coral that is dying, which is devastating for thousands of species that depend on the reef. Listen to hear more details about the loss of coral and the causes.

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July 17, 2017

4:19

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Bed Bugs are an Expensive Pest Problem for Renters

An infestation of bed bugs is horrible, along with being costly to treat. They search for blood, mostly at night when people sleep, and their bites leave red welts and itchy skin. They spread easily and hide during the day, making them difficult to find. Getting rid of bed bugs is expensive and creates difficulties for low-income renters. Many tenants do not realize that their leases have sections that put the responsibility of getting rid of the bed bugs on them and not on their landlords. Listen to hear one family’s story and the options available to you when there is a bed bug infestation.

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July 12, 2017

2:40

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Opium Prescriptions Still Too High

The United States is in the middle of an opioid addiction crisis. Millions of Americans are addicted to prescription painkillers, and thousands are dying from overdoses. The increase in addiction is attributed to doctors overprescribing painkillers. Recently doctors have decreased the amount of opioids prescribed as a response to the crisis, but there are still a high number of prescriptions given for these drugs. Listen to hear more about the trends in opioid prescriptions and what might be done about this crisis.

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July 10, 2017

4:36

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Paying the Bills on $10 an Hour

Making ends meet is something that many families in the United States struggle with. As the cost of living, day care, food and other essentials become more expensive, it is much harder for parents to provide for their kids. MIT has created a calculator to determine the living wages for people and families in each state. Working at a job that pays minimum wage often results in pay that is far below what is needed. Listen to the story of how a mother from Dallas pays the family bills, and some of the issues around a living wage.

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July 5, 2017

3:55

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Learning about Brain Science from Phineas Gage

In the mid 1800s our understanding of the brain was radically changed as a result of a freak accident. Phineas Gage survived an accident that drove an iron rod through his head, but he had some changes in his personality. This case highlighted the relationship between the structural parts of the brain and changes in behavior. Listen to hear more about what this case can tell us about the brain and personality.

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June 28, 2017

3:31

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Teen Found Guilty of Encouraging Suicide

Two teenagers started a relationship in 2012, mainly through texting, which ended tragically. When Conrad Roy became depressed, his girlfriend, Michelle Carter, encouraged him to seek treatment, but then began to encourage him to commit suicide. Roy intentionally filled his truck with carbon monoxide and Carter sent him emails urging him to stay in the truck. For her encouraging texts and failure to act, Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The judge based his ruling on the words she used, extending the boundaries of criminal law. Listen to hear more about this ruling and what it might mean for future cases.

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June 21, 2017

5:23

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Trump Sued for Violation of Anti-Corruption Clause of Constitution

President Trump is being sued by Maryland and the District of Columbia for violating the Constitution's anti-corruption law. The lawsuit was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a bipartisan group in Washington D.C. The lawsuit says that Trump is accepting money from foreign governments when diplomats and others stay at his hotel. Also, when foreign countries have their officials stay at the Trump hotel in Washington, it harms other local businesses. Listen to hear more about this clause in the Constitution and the lawsuit that was filed.

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June 19, 2017

4:13

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Flying Cars Coming in 2020

Recently, Uber announced plans to use new technology to create flying cars which will be ready for demonstration by 2020. Rather than picturing a car from a science fiction story, imagine a vehicle that looks more like a helicopter. In fact, Uber is calling them “vertical takeoff and landing aircraft”. Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas were selected as the company’s first United States partner cities. Listen to an aviation engineer from Uber explain this new technology.

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June 14, 2017

3:42

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U.S. Pulls Out of Paris Climate Agreement

President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. The accord is an international agreement signed by more than 190 countries who have agreed to address climate change by trying to keep global temperature rise this century below 2 degrees. Trump says that the Paris Agreement would have been bad for U.S. workers and their businesses. The U.S. produces the second highest greenhouse gas emissions and is only topped by China, who remains committed to the agreement. Listen to learn more why Trump decided to leave the agreement and what it might mean for the future.

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June 12, 2017

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Student Juggles Classes, Work and Softball Team

A high-school senior at Duncanville High School in Texas is juggling classes with a part-time job and her role as manager of her school’s softball team. At home, she helps her mother pay the bills and cares for her younger brother. After school, the softball team has become like a second family. She finds encouragement from people in her life and they provide support to help her face her challenges. Listen to hear more about this student’s life and what she wants for her future.

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June 9, 2017

3:35

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Debate: Will a Textalyzer Improve Road Safety?

A new technology has been developed that could help law enforcement detect if a person has been texting while driving. Typically, in cases of auto accidents, law enforcement has to get an order from a court to look through a person’s phone records to see if they were texting at the wheel. This is a lengthy and difficult process that many believe slows the course of justice. However, the “textalyzer”, if used, would allow police to plug into a driver’s phone and quickly see their last 90 seconds of phone activity to determine if they were texting and driving. Listen to learn more about texting-while-driving bans and debate the benefits and challenges of using the textalyzer to improve safety.

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June 8, 2017

2:20

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Teenager Summits Mountain in Spain

A sheer rock face in Spain, called La Rambla, is notoriously difficult to climb. Recently, 19-year-old Margo Hayes became the first woman to climb this route. Hayes was able to complete the climb on her 17th attempt over seven days. She planned her route, remained positive, and was ultimately successful. Listen to learn more about what drove Margo Hayes to complete this successful climb.

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June 7, 2017

3:19

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School Napping Pods Help Reduce Stress

Chronic stress and lack of sleep seem to be the new normal for American teens. Most teens are not getting the 9-10 hours of sleep a night that their bodies require. As a result, some schools are purchasing nap pods—reclining chairs with a dome that blocks out light. The idea is that students can use the pods for 20-minute periods of rest and relaxation. These naps can boost memory and attention and help students perform throughout the day. Listen to learn more about the challenges facing modern teens and how nap pods can help.

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June 6, 2017

5:42

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Bird Flu Worries Scientists

Doctors around the world are worried about the threat of the global spread of bird flu, or avian influenza. In Hong Kong, scientists studying the virus are also concerned about how quickly the virus is evolving. The latest mutation of the virus is able to kill chickens in the lab within 24 hours. A leading scientist worries that a future mutation could be transmitted more quickly between humans, leading to a global pandemic. Listen to learn more about this research and the threat of bird flu.

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June 5, 2017

4:08

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Manuel Noriega, Former Dictator of Panama Dies

General Manuel Noriega, the former dictator of Panama, has died at the age of 83. Noriega’s attacks on American citizens in Panama led to the 1989 U.S. invasion of the country that links Central America to South America. When President George H.W. Bush ordered the invasion, it was the largest U.S. military action since the Vietnam War. Noriega was ultimately ousted and sentenced to 40 years in prison in the U.S. for drug smuggling. Listen to learn more about Noriega’s life, his brutal rule, and his fall from power.

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June 2, 2017

4:03

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Debate: Should Confederate Statues from the Past be Removed?

The mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana removed four Confederate statues from the city to ease controversy of how the city remembers the Civil War. He made a speech at the fourth and final removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Some saw these statues as symbols of white supremacy and of the systemic oppression of human beings, and some saw them as tributes to Confederate heroes. Listen to learn more about the statue removal in New Orleans and its place in the nationwide debate about the removal of symbols of the Civil War and then debate: Should Confederate statues from the past be removed?

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June 1, 2017

7:20

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Big Papi Tells His Baseball Story

After two decades in the major leagues, Red Sox legend David Ortiz has retired, and now he is releasing a memoir about his life and career. Throughout his career, David Ortiz, or “Big Papi”, hit 541 home runs and won three World Series championships with the Boston Red Sox. Listen to learn more about David Ortiz’s journey from his childhood in the Dominican Republic to major league baseball in the United States.

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May 31, 2017

4:31

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China Embraces Marathons

China is scheduled to host more than 400 marathons this year as part of the central government’s national campaign to boost tourism and promote exercise. During a period of slowed economic growth, more and more cities in China are signing up to hold marathons. However, the central government has also criticized runners for lack of health awareness and organizers for poor safety practices. Listen to learn more about the growing interest in marathons in China and how organizers are trying to improve the process.

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May 30, 2017

2:00

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A Hero Bug Helps Scientists Develop Drugs

Scientists have found a new bacteria in a cave 1,000 feet underground. The bacteria is resistant to 70% of antibiotics used to fight disease in humans. The fact that the bacteria is resistant to these antibiotics, despite never having been exposed to them, tells scientists that antibiotic resistance is genetically hardwired rather than developed as a result of exposure. Scientists are calling the bacteria a “hero bug” because it is not harmful to humans, and they hope that this new knowledge will lead to even more effective antibiotics. Listen to learn more about the “hero bug” and antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

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May 29, 2017

3:44

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Manchester Concert Bombing

On Monday, a suicide bombing took place at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England killing 22 people and injuring 59 others. Many of the victims were young people. The terrorist group ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing, and British Prime Minister Theresa May says that another terrorist attack may be imminent. Following the attack, thousands of Manchester residents attended a public vigil for victims. Listen to learn more about the victims and how residents of Manchester are coming together after this tragedy.

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May 26, 2017

2:29

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Debate: Should Fidget Spinners Be Allowed in Classrooms?

A fidget spinner has two or three paddle-shaped blades attached to a central core. Kids hold it by the core and flick the blades to make it spin. Fidget spinners are popular in elementary and middle schools. They can be an effective calming influence and can help some students concentrate. They can also become airborne and create distractions to others who are trying to focus. Teachers have to decide whether to allow or ban them in their classrooms. Listen and then debate: Should fidget spinners be allowed in classrooms?

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May 25, 2017

4:16

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Fluency in Second Language Recognized in Diploma

Some high schools give special recognition to students who can speak and read in two languages. At graduation, these students receive a bi-literacy seal on their diplomas that recognizes not only test scores but also the value of learning two languages. This distinction shows appreciation for cultural perspectives and celebrates diversity, along with making these students ready to succeed in a global environment. Listen to learn more about this new movement to honor fluency in a second language.

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May 24, 2017

2:48

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Venezuela Protests as Maduro Proposes Changes to Constitution

As the economic crisis deepens and the political climate intensifies in Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro announced he’s creating an assembly of representatives to propose changes to the country’s constitution. While Maduro says it is an attempt to bring peace, opponents see it as a move towards dictatorship. Opponents took to the streets in the capital city of Caracas in protest, adding to other protests that have been going on for months. Listen to hear more about what this means for Venezuela's future.

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May 23, 2017

3:39

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Independent Prosecutor to Oversee Russia Investigation

The U.S. Deputy Attorney General appointed a special counsel, former FBI director Robert Mueller, to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The appointment comes after President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was investigating possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. In addition, the President reportedly asked Comey to drop the investigation into his former national security advisor. Listen to learn more about how this special counsel might impact the future of the Russian investigation.

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May 22, 2017

4:17

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Lessons from the Global Cyberattacks

A recent unprecedented global cyberattack was responsible for 75,000 different infections in more than 70 countries. The ransomware, which is a type of software that locks files and demands money to unlock them, took advantage of a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows. The worst of the attack is over, since a security researcher was able to effectively trigger a kill switch to stop the infection from spreading and Microsoft issued an emergency patch for its operating system. Listen to hear more about this cyberattack and what was learned.

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May 20, 2017

3:43

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Why Hurricane Sandy Was So Dangerous

Hurricane Sandy was a unique storm for a variety of reasons. Named a “Frankenstorm” by many due to its problematic combination of factors, analyzing this event can teach us a lot about how hurricanes work. A professor of atmospheric science explains why Hurricane Sandy was poised to be a particularly dangerous, rare blend of an “extratropical storm” and a tropical storm. He explains how a hurricane’s winds, pressure, movement, timing, and temperature all play roles in how hard it hits coastal and urban communities. Listen to learn what made Hurricane Sandy especially powerful and what it shows us about Earth’s atmosphere.

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May 20, 2017

3:17

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Veterans Help After Hurricane Sandy

Resuming civilian life can be difficult for military veterans. Disaster relief volunteer groups like Team Rubicon allow veterans to use their specialized skills and work in cooperative teams while helping those suffering from the aftermath of natural catastrophes. Team Rubicon sent hundreds of volunteers in 2012, when superstorm Hurricane Sandy hit the East coast of the United States. Natural disaster victims are grateful to benefit from veterans’ expert assistance. Likewise, veterans enjoy the sense of purpose and community this work gives them. Listen to hear veterans’ stories of volunteering during Hurricane Sandy.

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May 19, 2017

4:38

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Debate: Will the Circus Survive?

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus have announced they will close after 146 years in the circus business because of high operating costs and low ticket sales. However, at the New England Center for Circus Arts, performers are still training to become performers. With the most well-known institution of the American circus industry shutting down, it is up to the new generation of performers to redefine the circus’ place in American culture. Listen to learn more about how young performers thinking about the future of the circus, and then debate whether the circus will survive.

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May 18, 2017

3:56

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Gender and Diversity in Comics

There is a push in the comics industry to introduce characters that are diverse in race, gender, and sexual orientation. A large motivator for this change is the belief that children from diverse backgrounds deserve to see people in heroic roles that look like them and/or share their gender or sexual orientation. As a result, major comic publishers, such as Marvel, are introducing more characters that are people of color, female, and LGBTQ. Listen to learn more about the growing diversity in comic book characters and the controversies surrounding it.

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May 17, 2017

3:13

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The Cost of Presidential Travel

President Donald Trump has made frequent trips to his Palm Beach resort to get away for the weekend or host foreign officials on official business. Each one of these visits is estimated to cost the U.S. government about $1 million for operating Air Force One, lodging Secret Service agents, and reimbursing local police. At this rate, President Trump is on course to surpass all eight years of Obama’s travel costs in a single year. Listen to learn more about presidential travel costs.

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May 16, 2017

3:47

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FBI Director Fired

President Donald Trump has fired FBI director James Comey. The reason given by President Trump was that Comey “wasn’t doing a good job.” However, Comey was also in the middle of an investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. elections and possible collusion between Trump and Russia, which many believe to be the actual motivation for his firing. Listen to learn more about President Trump’s decision to fire Comey and the future of the investigation into Russian election meddling.

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May 15, 2017

3:52

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Elections in France

Centrist politician Emmanuel Macron has won the presidential election in France, defeating far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. He now faces the challenge of unifying his movement into a political party, winning seats in parliament, and running a deeply divided country despite his limited experience in government. Listen to learn more about Macron, the challenges he faces as president, and the political divisions in France.

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May 12, 2017

3:42

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Debate: Should All Websites Be Treated Equally on the Internet?

The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, is in the process of trying to repeal regulations on internet service providers, known as net neutrality rules. The basic principle of net neutrality is that internet service providers should not be allowed to block or slow access to any websites, apps or other services. And service providers such as Comcast and Verizon should not be able to charge companies for faster access. Currently, internet providers are required to treat every website equally. Listen to learn more about net neutrality and the FCC’s plans to roll back internet regulations and then debate: Should all websites be treated equally on the internet?

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May 11, 2017

2:33

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Record Breaking Trip in Space

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson has just broken the record for the most days spent in space. She has been off planet Earth longer than any other American in history. Whitson is also the first woman to command the International Space Station. President Donald Trump congratulated her in a call to the Space Station and she sent a message to young people. Listen to learn more about Whitson and her historic record.

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May 10, 2017

8:16

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Repairing L.A. after the Riots of 1992

It has been 25 years since riots in Los Angeles left more than 50 people dead and lead to around 6,000 arrests and roughly $1 billion in property damage. Despite a massive campaign to invest in rebuilding the city, L.A. has still not been completely repaired to where it was before the riots. In the aftermath of the destruction, many hoped that the “Rebuild L.A.” campaign would lead to stronger communities with more black-owned businesses. However, Rebuild L.A. is seen by many as a failure. Listen to learn more about the legacy of the L.A. riots and how these communities are still dealing with the aftermath.

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May 9, 2017

4:10

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Autism Can Be An Asset at Work

The number of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is growing in the United States. Unfortunately, many individuals with autism struggle to find work. In fact, 40% of people with autism are unemployed. As people with autism enter adulthood, they lose a lot of their services and many struggle through socially challenging one-on-one interviews. However, some corporations are creating recruiting and training programs in an effort to employ people with autism. Listen to learn more about the challenges faced by people with autism as well as the unique strengths that they bring to the workplace.

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May 8, 2017

2:54

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Deadly Weather in South and Midwest

Recently, severe weather struck Texas, the South, and the Midwest bringing thunderstorms, tornadoes, and floods that led to multiple deaths. The storms killed 15 people in East Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Mississippi and caused the rivers in Missouri to swell to levels not seen in a century. Listen to learn more about the human impact of this extreme weather.

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May 5, 2017

4:12

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Debate: Should We Make Changes to Human DNA?

Scientists say that in the future they will be able to make modifications to human DNA that can be passed down to subsequent generations. These same scientists say that such genetic modifications should only occur in cases of serious disease or disability and must be tightly regulated. However, there is fear around the idea of scientists altering the course of evolution and creating “genetically superior” humans. Listen to learn more about developments in genetic modification and debate: Should we make changes to human DNA?

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