Today's Takeaway | November 27, 2012

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Is Literature Necessary? | Was Yasser Arafat Murdered? | Cell Phone Data a Legal Gray Area in the Courts | The Blank Slate of American Identity in Emma Donoghue's 'Astray'

Is Literature Necessary?

The new Common Core State Standards dictate that non-fiction reading should make up 70 percent of a high school senior’s reading curriculum across all disciplines. And so far, 46 states have either adopted these new standards or will be adopting them by next year.

Who came up with these standards? How do they work? And how do parents and teachers feel about them?

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Was Yasser Arafat Murdered?

Yasser Arafat, former chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, died after a mysterious, month-long illness in a French military hospital, eight years ago. Today French, Swiss, and Russian scientists will exhume Arafat's body in Ramallah.

Was Arafat poisoned? How will Arafat's exhumation affect the tenuous peace in the Middle East? Charles Glass is a Middle East expert, journalist and broadcaster. He discusses the investigation, and Arafat's legacy.

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Listeners Respond: Memorable High School Reads

Sometimes, high school reading assignments make a lasting impression. Listeners from across the country called to describe the books they're still thinking years after high school. At the top of the list were Herman Hesse's "Soddhartha" and the novels of George Orwell and Toni Morrison. But listeners also remembered being inspired and moved by books that opened their eyes to poetry, history, and science.

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Anti-Tax Icon Grover Norquist Losing His Grip on Some Republican Lawmakers

Broken pledges — that's the story this week in Washington as several Republican lawmakers begin backtracking from a pledge to not raise taxes they signed with Grover Norquist and the Americans for Tax Reform. Todd Zwillich, The Takeaway's Washington correspondent, has been following the story.

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Cell Phone Data a Legal Gray Area in the Courts

What happens when technology moves faster than the laws that govern it? That’s the major question before courts across the country, as cell phones, and the overwhelming amount of data they hold, become evidence. Peter Swire, professor at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law who worked on law and privacy issues for Presidents Clinton and Obama, explains how courts should deal with the emails, text messages, and social media accounts found on the cell phones of suspected criminals.

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The Blank Slate of American Identity in Emma Donoghue's 'Astray'

They’re the forgotten minor characters of history: A Texas slave who kills his master and runs away with the master’s wife. An elephant trainer heartbroken at the sale of his best friend to P.T. Barnum. The stars of these obscure news brief items — and many more — come to life in "Astray," a new collection of short stories by Emma Donoghue.

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