Betsy Kaplan

Jessica Hill / AP Photo

The 2011 consolidation of Connecticut’s regional and community colleges hasn’t worked out so well. Administrative costs have gone up, it’s still hard for students to transfer credits from community to four-year colleges, and the system faces budget deficits that will require painful cuts. But a new proposal calling for give backs from employees has unleashed a furious backlash. 

Rennett Stowe / Creative Commons

Young people coming out of college today have a strong desire to do good in the world, but it’s not easy to find jobs with a social purpose. Instead, many are starting their own businesses, combining an entrepreneurial spirit with a social mission.

Erin Pettigrew / Creative Commons

Events this past week at Yale and the University of Missouri have sparked intense debate about the boundaries of free speech, and whether that debate is diverting the conversation away from a culture of racism at both schools that is not easily understood by those who don't live it.

Can we separate the fight against racism from the freedom to speak openly about it? Are we hurting students on the brink of adulthood if we protect them from exposure to the cruelties of life?

Peter D / Creative Commons

It's not uncommon to see someone wearing a prosthesis, especially after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sent many veterans home minus a limb. While losing a limb is a life-changing event, a good prosthetist can "carve" a prosthesis with just the right fit. It's a long process that can take years to perfect. 

Limbs today vary from simple body-powered prostheses moved by cables to a "fully robotic arm that has 26 joints, can curl 45 pounds and is controlled by the wearer's mind." As the stigma of a prosthesis lessens, amputees are seeking enhancement over replacement, opting for limbs that transcend what's biologically possible, even if lacking the aesthetic of a natural limb.

Peter Hapak /

You may best remember Ana Gasteyer eating Alec Baldwin's Schweddy Balls as Margaret Jo, the NPR co-host of The Delicious Dish on "Saturday Night Live." She was also a real-life Broadway actor and cabaret singer, and she just released her new album of jazz standards, I'm Hip. We talk about her upcoming appearance at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center on November 24, part of CPTV's new national music series, The Kate.

Wiki Erudito / Creative Commons

Star Wars fans are anxiously awaiting the release of "Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens," the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise, and first one without George Lucas at the helm. Will J.J. Abrams live up to the challenge? And where is Luke Skywalker?


Colum McCann was assaulted in New Haven last summer while attending a conference on empathy. He was knocked unconscious and suffered physical and emotional injuries that lingered long after the attack.

Geoffrey Fairchild / Creative Commons

President Obama spoke with frustration last month at a press conference after the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

He asked if anybody really still believes we need more guns and fewer gun safety laws.

Mass shootings are a big problem, but the majority of gun deaths are from homicide, accidental shootings, and suicide. The common denominator in all of them is easy access to guns.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Raouf Mama is a beloved storyteller by children and adults familiar with his books Why Goats Smell Bad and Why Monkeys Live in TreesHis love of storytelling stems from a long and honorable oral tradition that goes back to the ancient empire of Mali, when people preserved the lessons of life in memory instead of on the written page.

Raouf says we each have a story of belonging and identity. He uses his stories to entertain, comfort, and most of all as a tool to enlighten students.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Caroline Jacobs is a grown woman with children of her own. But by all accounts, she's a wimp. She would prefer to suffer in silence than stand up for herself or anyone else -- until she couldn't stand it anymore.  

One night, while at a public meeting and in a crowded room, she stood up, pointed her finger at the one she loathed, and shouted "F%$# You" to her nemesis. With that one phrase, she was ready to face her past. 

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Connecticut might mean clapboard homes, leafy suburbs, and town centers that show off their roots to our colonial past. Unless you're thinking of southeastern Connecticut.

The southeastern part of our state conjures images of casinos, submarines, and a blue-collar vibe that's just a little different from the rest of the state.

It probably doesn't help that the Connecticut River literally cuts the state in half, separating southeastern sections from their wealthier brethren. Wally Lamb describes it as "more feisty than fashionable, more liverwurst than pate."

Caitlin Mitchell

We had a great show planned for you today with two great authors. But, sometimes life is crazier than the fiction we talk about and today, we ended up with two great authors, but only one we expected. 

Sloane Crosley pays homage to Guy de Maupassant in her debut novel about three old friends searching for an elusive necklace as a way out of their quarter-life crisis, yet unable to share their deepest thoughts with their closest friends. 

Colum McCann was supposed to join us but was unable at the last minute. Instead, you'll hear from him next week. 

But, that left Colin with a lot of time on air by himself. He got to vamp for the last half hour like he hasn't been able to do since he started working at WNPR. He kind of liked it, especially when author David Mitchell dropped in for a surprise chat. You can't make up this stuff.

B Mauro / Creative Commons

This week, movie trailers lost their way when someone advocated boycotting Star Wars VII because they believe the trailer advocated white genocide. Why? Because a black man, a woman and a Latino were prominently featured in the trailer to the detriment of you guessed it, white men. What does this say about the level of diversity in science fiction fans?

USDA / Creative Commons

Access to health care has improved significantly since Obamacare, with big gains for previously uninsured minorities who were unable to gain access before the law took effect. But insurance isn’t the only barrier to overcome. Entrenched cultural beliefs and the way we deliver care can also limit access.

Josh Haner, The New York Times / European Pressphoto Agency

This past week brought us the long-awaited first of six Democratic candidate debates, held at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas. The tone was substantive, exposing a few stark differences between the candidates and their Republican opponents. They offered nuanced and complex views -- overall, a good night for voters who want to know the candidates. 

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Three years ago, Hurricane Sandy hit the shores of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, killing 71 people and causing damages worth $50 billion. We suffer from a kind of amnesia: we know it happened, but we hesitate to change much about the way we prepare for future events. New York invested nearly $20 billion in new protective measures, simultaneously allowing 900 new housing units to be constructed next to the water.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most important voices in America today. He made the case for reparations last summer when he argued that it's time for America to confront the impact of slavery, Jim Crow, and other discriminatory policies that have consistently denied African Americans opportunities afforded other Americans. He says until we admit to the debts accrued from years of racism, we can never be whole.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

There's a debate over whether college should prepare kids with specific skills that will prepare them for jobs, or give them a wide-ranging but more general liberal arts education. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR


A judge in 17th century Connecticut ruled on the thorniest of problems. Some of these included ruling on a piglet’s paternity, who was to blame for faulty shoes, and whether illicit sex had occurred on a boat sailing to Stamford. 

The Huntington / Creative Commons

I could have called myself a Stradivarius,

for though I, of course, was just an ordinary violin, waiting,

ready to be held for the first time in a musician’s hands,

primed to be played,

mobilized by all my busy genes

to become music –

when first I felt the quiver

of its stirring sound,

I became, imparadised,

the most priceless stringed instrument

on the face of the earth. 

Frankie Leon / Flickr Creative Commons

Opioid overuse is America’s “silent epidemic,” affecting far too many of the roughly eight million people on opioid painkillers.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC says overprescribing is to blame.  "Every single day, 46 Americans die from an overdose of prescription opioid painkillers like Vicodin, Oxycontin or Methadone," he said. "These drugs are commonly prescribed in every community, and a surge in prescriptions has been the main force of this epidemic."

What's In a Title?

Oct 6, 2015
Eon Productions, MGM

The opening credits of your favorite movies and television shows set the mood, tone, and characters for what's to come, and allow you to relax and get ready for the show. Some fast-forward through the opening credits to avoid distraction from the main performance. Others say title sequences are supposed to be more like a score: felt, but not noticed. 

The film industry first fell in love with titles in the 1950s, when iconic opening sequences from Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" and Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone" were etched deep in our memories. The opening notes are still recognizable half a century later. The same can be said for the well-known HBO series "Game of Thrones." 

DonkeyHotey / Creative Commons

This week, Pope Francis was the biggest thing to hit America since the British Invasion. You could buy Pope-themed dolls, cookies with the Pope's face, hats, coffee mugs, backpacks, and even a Pope Bobblehead.

It was the pope's first visit to the U.S., and he seemed eager and happy to be here. He spoke passionately about the poor, climate change, and the migrant crisis, and cautioned against religious extremism. It has left some people wondering why he met privately and secretly with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refuses to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Phalinn Ool / Creative Commons

There are lots of tools to help us gauge the quality of nearly any product or service we wish to buy, from cars to computers to restaurants. Yet there's no easy way to assess the quality of the doctors who take care of what's most important to us -- our health. 

Woodley Wonder Works / Creative Commons


We've been talking a lot over this last year about problems like misogyny and violence in football, rape on college campuses, mass shootings, and increasing rates of suicide and addiction. What we don't say is that men are the victims of these behaviors as much as women, albeit in different ways. 

We often look for explanations in mental health, failed policy, or lax laws. But men overwhelmingly engage in these behaviors. Why are we reluctant to discuss what society expects from men, and whether those expectations are realistic? 

Geoffrey Fairchild / Creative Commons

Violent crime in America has been dropping for years, reaching a point in 2012 that was roughly half of what it was in 1993. But that may be changing.

The New York Times reported that violent crime was rising sharply in cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis. In Hartford, there were 19 homicides in all of 2014. That number was matched in late July this year.

Walking With Dante

Sep 28, 2015
Freeparking :-I / Creative Commons

"Dante's Inferno" is the most famous section of Dante Aligheri's 14,000 line epic poem, The Divine Comedy. But it's only the first part of Dante's long pilgrimage through the afterlife. He first enters the circles of hell, filled with beasts and sinners doomed to the Inferno for crimes like gluttony, lust, and treason. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Raouf Mama is a beloved storyteller by children and adults familiar with his books Why Goats Smell Bad and Why Monkeys Live in TreesHis love of storytelling stems from a long and honorable oral tradition that goes back to the ancient empire of Mali, when people preserved the lessons of life in memory instead of on the written page.

Raouf says we each have a story of belonging and identity. He uses his stories to entertain, comfort, and most of all as a tool to enlighten students.

Frankieleon / Creative Commons

There was a time when hard work brought most Americans a decent wage, a secure life, and opportunities to aim for a better life. George Packer says that's no longer the case for too many Americans.

Institutions that once anchored middle-class Americans are either collapsing or morphing into faceless institutions that benefit the wealthy, Packer says. Health and educational outcomes are significantly lower for the poor, who are also incarcerated at higher rates.