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Trickling Down

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Monday, June 27, 2011

On today’s show: Alex Prud'homme explains how collaborating on a memoir with his great-aunt, Julia Child, inspired him to investigate our planet’s dwindling supplies of fresh water. Singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale performs live and talks about his new album, “Reason and Rhyme.” We’ll look back at the “hot coffee” lawsuit against McDonald’s and how it has influenced the debate over tort reform. Plus, we’ll examine the changing definitions of family in the United States.

The Fate of Fresh Water

Alex Prud'homme tells the evolving story of freshwater—as the climate warms and the world population grows, demand for water has surged, but supplies of freshwater are static or dropping, and new threats to water quality appear every day. The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-first Century investigates the state of our water infrastructure, the supply and quality of water, how secure our water supply is, new sources of water, and discusses whether the wars of the 21st century will be fought over water.

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Jim Lauderdale’s Reason and Rhyme

American roots musician Jim Lauderdale discusses his approach to bluegrass and performs live from his latest album, “Reason and Rhyme,” written with Robert Hunter.

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Hot Coffee and Tort Reform

Filmmaker Susan Saladoff, a former public interest lawyer, talks about her documentary “Hot Coffee,” about the McDonald’s coffee case, which continues to be cited as a prime example of how citizens use “frivolous” lawsuits to take unfair advantage of America’s legal system. But is that an accurate portrayal of the facts? The movie looks at the infamous legal battle that began with a spilled cup of McDonald’s coffee and investigates America’s zeal for tort reform, which, Saladoff argues, could restrict the legal rights of everyday citizens and undermine the entire civil justice system. The documentary debuts June 27 on HBO.

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America’s Ideas about Family

Brian Powell talks about how Americans’ definitions of family are changing and what that means for public policy. Counted Out: Same-sex Relations and Americans' Definitions of Family broadens the scope of previous studies of how Americans view their own families to examine the way Americans characterize the concept of family in general. Although such issues as same-sex marriage and gay adoption remain at the center of a cultural divide, Counted Out demonstrates that American definitions of family are becoming more expansive, not less.

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Remembering Peter Falk

Peter Falk became a household name as the rumpled television star of “Columbo,” with a cigar dangling from his mouth, but he also worked with John Cassavetes over his long career. He died recently at the age of 83. He spoke with Leonard back in October of 2006 about why he was turned down for a job with the CIA, his life on and off the screen, and the tumor that caused him to lose his right eye when he was only three years old. Listen to that interview, above.

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