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NASCAR changes gears for the Daytona 500

Feb 24, 2017

When the green flag signals the start of the Daytona 500 this weekend, there’s a good chance there will be plenty of empty seats in the stands and in front of the TV. Attendance has been falling for so long at NASCAR events that the organization stopped reporting attendance figures in 2012. TV viewership is off nearly 50 percent since 2005. But NASCAR has a plan to put stock-car racing back on track: The race will be divided into three parts.

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How celebrities choose their causes

Feb 24, 2017
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Adrienne Hill

Last year, the Oscars tried a thank you scroll along the bottom of the screen to encourage winners to move away from deadly boring, breathless-stream-of-appreciation speeches.

It didn’t work.

But this year, we might finally get something different.

02/24/2017: Political activism in Hollywood

Feb 24, 2017
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Marketplace

We'll explore why Chinese President Xi Jinping has plans to move new people into power on his economic team. Afterwards, a look at why stock car racing is struggling and how celebrities choose the political causes they're involved in.

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Marketplace

There have been a lot of protests going on recently. And at these events, there's a fair amount of time spent sitting, standing, waiting. Ian Bogost, a game critic and professor at Georgia Tech, discusses how a new website called protestgames.org aims to have attendees translate some of that downtime into positive energy. Next, we'll look at Alphabet's decision to sue Uber and Otto for allegedly stealing its intellectual property. And to end today's show, we'll play this week's Silicon Tally with Laura Weidman Powers, the co-founder and CEO of the nonprofit Code 2040.

The Justice Department may step up enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that have voted to legalize its recreational use, according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

"I do believe think you'll see greater enforcement of it," Spicer said, during his daily press briefing. He added that the Department of Justice will be looking into the issue further.

The debate over transgender restrooms is nothing new in Gloucester County, Va. The largely rural county in the eastern part of the state is the home of Gavin Grimm, whose transgender-rights case is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Thursday morning, law enforcement entered the Oceti Sakowin camp to do a final sweep before officially shutting it down, ending a months-long protest against the completion of the nearby Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Oceti Sakowin camp was the largest of several temporary camps on the northern edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Protesters have been living on this land for months, in support of members of the Standing Rock Sioux.

New Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding an Obama-era memo that directed the Justice Department to reduce the use of private prisons, NPR's Carrie Johnson reports

Sessions writes in the order that returning to the Bureau of Prisons' earlier approach would provide flexibility.

Vice President Pence is no stranger to the Conservative Political Action Conference, having addressed the annual gathering nine times when he was an Indiana governor and congressman.

The war against ISIS is entering a tough new phase, as Iraqi fighters with growing U.S. assistance push into western Mosul, warns the senior American commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend.

"ISIS is a brutal, brutal enemy," said Townsend, speaking in Erbil as Iraq's security forces were about to attack Mosul's airport with help from the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition.

President Trump has promised to build a wall along the 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

A third of that border already has a barrier, thanks to the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was signed by then-President George W. Bush. That initiative ran into issues with landowners near the Rio Grande. If the wall goes forward as Trump promises, more lawsuits may be coming.

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has a message for members of Congress who are citing the possibility of protests as a reason not to hold town meetings: "Have some courage."

Giffords, wounded in a 2011 shooting outside a Tucson supermarket where she was meeting with constituents, was responding to a statement by Republican Congressman Louis Gohmert of Texas. Asked why he wasn't holding public meetings, Gohmert said:

In baseball, if a pitcher wants to intentionally walk a batter, he has to actually lob the four pitches outside the strike zone. It's a technique often used to bypass a particularly strong batter, or to set up a double play.

But that rule now appears poised to change.

The Major League Baseball commissioner's office has proposed a rule change to have the pitcher forgo actually throwing four balls — instead, the bench would simply signal to the umpire that the batter will be intentionally walked.

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Murders are on the rise in the United States.

The national murder rate jumped dramatically in 2015, and early indications are that it rose again in 2016, though official numbers aren't available yet.

In America, there is a rare echelon of pop stars so big they only need one name: Madonna, Cher, Prince. In Italy, that name is Zucchero.

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The president has long promised that Mexico will pay for the border wall in one way or another. One suggestion is that the U.S. could recoup some of that money by withholding funds it's slated to send to Mexico in coming years.

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This week United Nations officials declared that a famine in South Sudan is growing — fueled by a deadly combination of drought and conflict. They estimate that nearly 4 million people are already struggling to get enough food. And officials expect the famine will spread to more areas in the coming months affecting an additional 1 million people.

Meanwhile the threat of famine is looming over three other countries: Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, putting a total of 1.4 million children at risk of death this year.

Some students, principals, parents and attorneys have condemned the Trump administration's decision to remove some federal protections for transgender students.

Those protections had been issued by President Barack Obama, who cited the federal Title IX law, and instructed public schools last year to allow transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities.

At a joint news conference in Mexico City on Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged the tension between the U.S. and Mexico. After talks with his Mexican counterpart, Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, Tillerson said that "in a relationship filled with vibrant colors, two strong sovereign countries, from time to time, will have differences."

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made his way to the Duma, the lower house of parliament, on the eve of Defender of the Fatherland Day. The Feb. 23 national holiday was once known as Soviet Army and Navy Day, and Shoigu, dressed in the uniform of a general, came to boast about the Russian military's latest achievements.

"We tested 162 types of contemporary and modernized weapons in Syria, which showed a high level of effectiveness," Shoigu said. Only 10 weapons systems performed below expectations, he added.

Amid deep strains in the U.S. relationship with Mexico, a country that's been a favorite target of President Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security chief John Kelly took part in talks in Mexico City on Thursday that were aimed at smoothing out tensions.

"That's going to be a tough trip," the president said Thursday morning at the White House. Some of the key issues between the two countries: immigration, border security, trade and U.S. aid to Mexico.

The Associated Press is reporting that Beyoncé will not make it to Indio, California in April for her planned headlining performance at Coachella, one of the world's most successful and highest-grossing music festivals.

Lawyers for a 17-year-old transgender student and the Gloucester, Va., school board that wants to limit which bathroom he can use don't agree on much.

But both sides have concluded the Trump administration's decision this week to revoke guidance that protects transgender students' ability to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity only heightens the need for a hearing before the nation's highest court.

President Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos, struck a defiant tone in brief remarks before conservative activists at a political conference outside Washington, D.C., on Thursday. But she held back on the administration's rescinding of Obama administration guidance to schools on transgender rights.

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