• Are there universal expressions of emotion? – Sophie Zadeh
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    Are there universal expressions of emotion? – Sophie Zadeh

    The 40 or so muscles in the human face can be activated in different combinations to create thousands of expressions. But do these expressions look the same and communicate the same meaning around the world, regardless of culture? Is one person’s smile another’s grimace? Charles Darwin theorized that emotional expression was a common human feature. But he was in the minority. Until the mid-20th century, many researchers believed that the specific ways we show emotion were learned behaviors that varied across cultures. Personality theorist Silvan Tomkins was one of the few to insist otherwise. Tomkins claimed that certain affects— emotional states and their associated facial expressions— were universal. In the…

  • The story behind the Boston Tea Party – Ben Labaree
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    The story behind the Boston Tea Party – Ben Labaree

    Translator: Andrea McDonough Reviewer: Bedirhan Cinar You’ve probably heard of the Boston Tea Party, something about a bunch of angry colonists dressed as Native Americans throwing chests of tea into the water. But the story is far more complicated, filled with imperial intrigue, corporate crisis, smuggling, and the grassroots origins of the American Revolution. The first thing you need to know about tea in the 1700’s is that it was really, really popular. In England, each man, woman, and child consumed almost 300 cups of this stuff every year. And, since the English colonized America, Americans were crazy about tea too. By the 1760’s, they were drinking over a million…

  • What did democracy really mean in Athens? – Melissa Schwartzberg
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    What did democracy really mean in Athens? – Melissa Schwartzberg

    Hey, congratulations! You’ve just won the lottery, only the prize isn’t cash or a luxury cruise. It’s a position in your country’s national legislature. And you aren’t the only lucky winner. All of your fellow lawmakers were chosen in the same way. This might strike you as a strange way to run a government, let alone a democracy. Elections are the epitome of democracy, right? Well, the ancient Athenians who coined the word had another view. In fact, elections only played a small role in Athenian democracy, with most offices filled by random lottery from a pool of citizen volunteers. Unlike the representative democracies common today, where voters elect leaders…

  • How do US Supreme Court justices get appointed? – Peter Paccone
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    How do US Supreme Court justices get appointed? – Peter Paccone

    There’s a job out there with a great deal of power, pay, prestige, and near-perfect job security. And there’s only one way to be hired: get appointed to the US Supreme Court. If you want to become a justice on the Supreme Court, the highest federal court in the United States, three things have to happen. You have to be nominated by the president of the United States, your nomination needs to be approved by the Senate, and finally, the president must formally appoint you to the court. Because the Constitution doesn’t specify any qualifications, in other words, that there’s no age, education, profession, or even native-born citizenship requirement, a…

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    What you might not know about the Declaration of Independence – Kenneth C. Davis

    “All men are created equal and they are endowed with the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Not so fast, Mr. Jefferson! These words from the Declaration of Independence, and the facts behind them, are well known. In June of 1776, a little more than a year after the war against England began with the shots fired at Lexington and Concord, the Continental Congress was meeting in Philadelphia to discuss American independence. After long debates, a resolution of independence was approved on July 2, 1776. America was free! And men like John Adams thought we would celebrate that date forever. But it was two days later that…

  • What are the universal human rights? – Benedetta Berti
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    What are the universal human rights? – Benedetta Berti

    The idea of human rights is that each one of us, no matter who we are or where we are born, is entitled to the same basic rights and freedoms. Human rights are not privileges, and they cannot be granted or revoked. They are inalienable and universal. That may sound straighforward enough, but it gets incredibly complicated as soon as anyone tries to put the idea into practice. What exactly are the basic human rights? Who gets to pick them? Who enforces them, and how? The history behind the concept of human rights is a long one. Throughout the centuries and across societies, religions, and cultures we have struggled with…

  • How does impeachment work? – Alex Gendler
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    How does impeachment work? – Alex Gendler

    For most jobs, it’s understood that you can be fired, whether for crime, incompetence, or just poor performance. But what if your job happens to be the most powerful position in the country, or the world? That’s where impeachment comes in. Impeachment isn’t the same as actually removing someone from office. Like an indictment in criminal court, it’s only the formal accusation that launches a trial, which could end in conviction or acquittal. Originating in the United Kingdom, impeachment allowed Parliament to vote for removing a government official from office even without the king’s consent. Although this was an important check on royal power, the king couldn’t be impeached because…

  • Your Miranda Warnings (50 Years) – Landmark Cases – Episode # 8
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    Your Miranda Warnings (50 Years) – Landmark Cases – Episode # 8

    I hope this finds you well. In every episode I’ve seen of the First 48 it seems like the suspect usually ends up confessing in some way. and theres never an attorney in the room with them. Yet I have never heard the detectives say “ you have the right to remain silent; anything you say can be used against you in court; or you have the right to counsel; and the right to have counsel appointed. Over the last fifty years these rights have been known as Miranda Warnings. Credit goes to the First 48, whenever a suspect says they don’t want to talk anymore, the detectives immediately stop…

  • How is power divided in the United States government? – Belinda Stutzman
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    How is power divided in the United States government? – Belinda Stutzman

    Translator: Andrea McDonough Reviewer: Bedirhan Cinar Have you ever wondered who has the authority to make laws or punish people who break them? When we think of power in the United States, we usually think of the President, but he does not act alone. In fact, he is only one piece of the power puzzle and for very good reason. When the American Revolution ended in 1783, the United States government was in a state of change. The founding fathers knew that they did not want to establish another country that was ruled by a king, so the discussions were centered on having a strong and fair national government that…

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    Inventing the American presidency – Kenneth C. Davis

    Translator: Andrea McDonough Reviewer: Bedirhan Cinar The Oval Office, Inauguration Day, Rose Garden signings, and secret service agents with dark sunglasses and cool wrist radios. For a moment, forget all of it. Toss out everything you know about the President. Now, start over. What would you do if you had to invent the President? That was the question facing the 55 men who got together in secret to draw up the plans for a new American government in the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia, in the same place where the Declaration of Independence had been written eleven years earlier. Declaring independence had been risky business, demanding ferocious courage that put…