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The Leonard Lopate Show

Bad News about Pesticides

Friday, April 11, 2014

Reporter Susan Freinkel talks about what happens to brains of children who have been exposed at a young age to pesticides. She’s joined by Lee Fang, who reports on how the pesticide companies have influenced regulations in Washington and at the local level. Both Freinkel and Fang are contributors to The Nation magazine. Freinkel is the author of the book Plastic: A Toxic Love Story and her article Warning Signs: How Pesticides Harm the Young Brain and Fang’s article The Pesticide Industry vs. Consumers: Not a Fair Fight appear in the March 31, 2014, issue of The Nation magazine.

Find consumer guides about pesticides and produce and more at the Environmental Working Group's web site: ewg.org.

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PRI's The World

Harrison Ford joins Tom Friedman as climate change correspondents in a new Showtime documentary series

Friday, April 11, 2014

Study after study suggests that many Americans don't understand climate change — and many don't yet buy it. They either don't believe that climate change is real, or don't believe that humans are largely responsible for it. That's left journalists scratching their heads and looking for new ways to report the story.

Enter Showtime, with a new documentary series on climate change called Years of Living Dangerously.

It is clear from the opening sequence that this is, indeed, a different approach than you're likely to get on any news program. Though it was dreamed up by two former 60 minutes producers, it features action movie music and visuals right out of a video game.

And the first two "correspondents" you hear aren't journalists at all, but movie stars — Harrison Ford and Don Cheadle.

It isn't until almost five minutes into the first hour that you encounter the first real journalist — New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Friedman.

Friedman says the series' somewhat amped-up approach is an appropriate response to the "wicked problem" of climate change.

"It's wicked because it's slow moving," Friedman says. "It plays out over long periods of time, there isn't just sort of one moment. And it's the kind of problem where you'll never really know how serious it is, until it's too late. And therefore, it requires an enormous act of stewardship on behalf of one generation by another. And that's really hard."

Friedman says there are other challenges to conveying the scope and seriousness of the problem. One is that the people who know the most are climate scientists.

"They're extremely knowledgeable," he says, "but they're extremely, and rightly, careful about what they say. And they tend to speak in very technical language."

Then there are what he calls the "merchants of doubt."

"Just as there was in the case of tobacco," Freidman says, where supposed experts told the public "'don't believe those [other] people — tobacco doesn't cause cancer.'" Friedman says "the same people are active in trying to confuse people about climate change. Because they don't have to persuade people that they're right, they just have to inject doubt. And they're very good at that."

Years of Living Dangerously uses Hollywood-style production values and "celebrity correspondents" to create an allure that will attract people who might not otherwise watch a documentary series on climate change.

Even with the glitz, Friedman says for the most part, the project is just basic, old-style journalism. It uses the voices of real people around the world who are telling their own stories.

Friedman's own segments for the series focus on the role of climate change in contributing to unrest in the Middle East through extremely unusual droughts, heat waves and food supply disruptions.

He says the segments are "based on real, on-the-ground reporting. We try to put it into a broader context. We try to respect the fact that none of [these events] can be directly attributed to climate change, but everything that is playing out today corresponds with the models scientists predict of ... global warming."

As for the glitterati who play the roles of other "correspondents" in the series, Friedman suggests that they are hardly dilettantes.

"Harrison Ford is a long-time member of the board of Conservation International," Friedman says. "Harrison knows this field very well."

Years of Living Dangerously premiers on Showtime on Sunday, April 13.

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What's A Breath Of Fresh Air Worth? In China, About $860

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Beijing artist who collected a jar of air from Provence, France, sold it at auction "to question China's foul air and express dissatisfaction."

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All Things Considered

A Peek Beneath A Mummy's Wrappers, Powered By CT Scanners

Thursday, April 10, 2014

John Taylor, the curator at the British Museum, discusses how CT scans and imaging are used to discover information about mummies.

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All Things Considered

Drilling Frenzy Fuels Sudden Growth In Small Texas Town

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The boom has brought unexpected prosperity — and many new problems — to Cotulla. It's in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale area, which has quickly become the nation's No. 2 oil-producing region.

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Scientists Publish Recipe For Making Bird Flu More Contagious

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Researchers ignited a debate three years ago when they changed a deadly flu virus so that it could spread between people. Only five mutations are needed to turn the virus into a pandemic threat.

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Even A Very Weak Signal From The Brain Might Help Paraplegics

Thursday, April 10, 2014

By electrically stimulating the lower spine in men with paraplegia, researchers were able to get them to initiate movement. The big challenge is how to achieve coordinated motor control.

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Science Friday

SciFri: Scientists Study Vole Romance Under the Influence

Thursday, April 10, 2014

To learn how alcohol affects relationships, scientists mix prairie voles a drink.

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Science Friday

SciFri: With Her Kids' Help, Jean Craighead George’s ‘Ice Whale’ Sees Print

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The final novel from My Side of the Mountain author Jean Craighead George takes children underneath the Arctic Ocean.

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Science Friday

SciFri: Reawakening Limbs After Years of Paralysis

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Paraplegics were able to stand and move their legs again with the help of a spinal implant.

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Science Friday

SciFri: Up Close With the Lunar Eclipse

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The lunar eclipse on Tuesday, April 15, will be visible from all over North and South America.

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Science Friday

SciFri: Bill Nye Stops By

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bill Nye stops by to chat about teaching science, launching solar sails into space, and more.

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Science Friday

SciFri: Busting Bad Bacteria With Their Viral Enemies

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Phages added to packaged beef or spinach could cut down on E. coli bacteria outbreaks.

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On The Media

#21 - There Is No Such Thing As Silence

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Continuing our expose into the very hush-hush world of Silence, we look at an app that promises to deliver you four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence. PJ talks to Larry Larson, who helped design the 4'33" app.

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Freakonomics Radio

“If Mayors Ruled the World”

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Unlike certain elected officials in Washington, mayors all over the country actually get stuff done. So maybe we should ask them to do more?

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PRI's The World

Imagine if you could tell the time by touch? Well, now you can.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Watches designed for visually impaired people often look like any other watch. But they usually have a button on them that tells the time out loud.

It sounds like a robot. And the reason why blind people sometimes hate such a device is that it attracts attention to them. It’s like a holding up a giant spotlight to their disability.

But now there’s a new watch created by the company Eone Time to help people avoid the attention and just tell the time.

It’s winning praise for both its different looks and for its lack of sound.

It’s called the Bradley Timepiece. It uses magnets, and two moving ball bearings, to allow people to tell time by touch.

It’s named after retired US Navy Lt. Bradley Snyder. While serving in Afghanistan in 2011, he lost his sight in an IED explosion. He says that during his rehabilitation he found out that time is an integral part of life we often take for granted.

“Time is really the first thing you do when you wake up to orient yourself to you surroundings,” he says. “Without the ability to tell time I was often disoriented. It was hard for me to reconcile where I was, who I was and what was going on.”

Snyder says that early on his family looked for a timepiece he could use. They found a good one. But it was one that read the time aloud.

He didn’t like it. He didn’t need the reminder about his loss of vision. He was more a fan of devices and designs that are innocuous, or not noticeable.

So with the Bradley Timepiece, he’s able to tell the time without a sound.

“It doesn’t disrupt anyone,” he says.

Snyder joined the project through happenstance.

He had a friend going to business school at MIT. That friend heard about the timepiece project by Hyungsoo Kim. Soon the mutual friend put the two together. It clicked.

Snyder loved the idea of inclusive design, and Kim loved Snyder’s personal story.

“It bridges the gap between those with impairments and those without,” says Snyder. “And then the second story being my story. The background of how I lost my vision through a traumatic incident.”

He says they want the watch to tell a story. So when you put it on your wrist there’s a greater connection to it.

But all of this doesn’t matter if it’s impossible to tell time on the Bradley Timepiece.

Snyder says not to worry. It takes some practice, but soon it becomes second nature.

And even you can see, you don't need to in order to know the time.

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All Things Considered

Why Do Some Clouds Drop Rain, While Others Don't?

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

With little relief in sight for California's record drought, scientists are trying to learn why some clouds rain and other don't. As Lauren Sommer of KQED says, they're finding surprising answers.

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All Things Considered

Banning Traditional Animal Slaughter, Denmark Stokes Religous Ire

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The country's move to require animals to be stunned before being killed is seen by some as an affront to religious methods of slaughter. But now Jews and Muslims are working together to protest it.

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Pop Stars Are Sippin' On Patron, And Teens Are Bingeing

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

If you know Ciroc and Patron, you may well be listening to a lot of songs that name-check brand-name alcohol. And if you're a teenager, you may be binge drinking a lot more, researchers say.

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Gut-Eating Amoeba Caught On Film

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Dangerous and impolite: This little guy triggers food poisoning in people by biting off chunks of intestine, chewing on them for a bit ... and then spitting them out.

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