Russia's Broadening Definition of Treason, Manipulating Science Journalists, and More

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Russia tries to broaden its definition of high treason, one journalist's quest to get the media to stop referring to immigrants as "illegal," and the upcoming presidential debates.

The Lady with the Microphone

In 1992, former ABC anchor Carole Simpson became the first woman to moderate a presidential debate. There hasn't been another female moderator since. That'll change later this year, but Simpson says that even this year, women moderators are confined to the vice presidential debate and a town-hall style debate where the moderator can't ask questions of their own. Brooke talks with Simpson about what women moderators might add to debates. 

Kelley Stoltz - Little Girl

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"Illegal" vs. "Undocumented"

Since writing an article called "My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant" in the New York Times Magazine last year, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas has been trying to foster conversation about immigration issues. In a speech last week at the Online News Association conference, he announced his plan to track and hopefully influence news organizations away from using the term "illegal" to describe immigrants. Bob asks Vargas why he feels this change in nomenclature is important.

Latin Playboys - Crayon Sun

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Manipulating Science Reporting

Last week, a group of scientists in France released a study linking genetically modified food with cancer. Journalists who wanted to see an advanced copy of the research had to sign a confidentially agreement that ensured they wouldn't be able to get other scientists to weigh in on the study. Brooke speaks to science writer Carl Zimmer, who says the researchers were trying to manipulate journalists in order to skew the coverage in their favor.

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Russia's Expanding Definition of Treason

Last week, Russia's lower house of parliament unanimously approved an amendment that broadens the definition of treason. If it becomes law, Russian citizens who cooperate with international civil and media organizations could face 20-year prison sentences. Bob talks with the Christian Science Monitor's Fred Weir about the law's potential ramifications.

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In 1981, student journalist Seth Rosenfeld began researching the FBI's misconduct in its investigations of 1960s student protests at UC Berkeley. The project blossomed into a 30-year investigative odyssey, resulting in the release of 300,000 FBI documents, which the government spent over $1 million trying to block. Bob talks to Rosenfeld about some of the stunning revelations from his new book, Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power

Yo La Tengo - Damage

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"Terms of Service; Didn't Read"

With the lengths of terms-of-service agreements reaching Shakespearean proportions, it's no wonder that internet users are clicking "I Agree" without actually reading what they agree to. A website launched this summer called Terms of Service; Didn't Read is coming up with new ways to inform consumers and fix what it calls "the biggest lie on the web." Bob talks to Michiel de Jong, one of the site's "hacktivist" co-founders.

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Emoticon Origins :-)

Today, emoticons - those smiling, frowning, or winking faces comprised of text and punctuation - can be found in everything from emails to text messages. But before their invention 30 years ago, there was no short cut for expressing sentiment in text form. Brooke speaks to computer science professor Scott Fahlman, who came up with the smiling and frowning faces, about how they came to be.

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The Oogieloves in the Great Box Office Misadventure

Producer Ken Viselman, the marketing guru behind the explosive American success of "The Teletubbies" and "Thomas the Tank Engine" had a vision – a movie for toddlers that encouraged the audience to sing, dance and interact with the on-screen action. The result was"The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure," a movie that debuted in late August and holds the record for the lowest opening weekend box office of all time, earning just $206 per theater. Bob talks to Entertainment Weekly's Grady Smith about what went wrong and Smith's singular fascination with the Oogieloves phenomenon.


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