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Paper, soda cans, old electronics. For both environmental and economic reasons it is incredibly valuable to recycle these products. But glass, even plastic? Not so much. Broken-down bottles are often exported overseas, burning more fossil fuels than are saved by recycling them, and it's cheaper to just make new ones. Cities across the United States are adopting zero-waste initiatives, aiming to eventually divert all waste to recycling and compost facilities. But, is more recycling always better? We speak to a critic who argues that some recycling comes with unjustifiable environmental and economic costs. He believes that our commitment to this practice may be holding us back from pursuing more valuable environmental goals. Is it time to rethink recycling?

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With the push of a button, you can summon a driver, rent out your apartment, or hire someone to paint your fence. These are all possible because of mobile platforms that directly connect individuals to freelance work. What does the so-called “gig economy” mean for the future of work? Will full-time jobs with benefits eventually be a thing of the past? Supporters argue that these jobs offer flexibility and the opportunity to be your own boss. In this hour, we speak to a critic of the on-demand economy, who argues that sites like Uber and Upwork allow companies to cut costs while exploiting workers. Is the gig economy a raw deal? 

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The death of forty-nine people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida marks the deadliest mass shooting in United States’ history. As new details emerge about the gunman, we discuss one factor that’s played a role in other shootings: mental illness. Is there a link between mental illness and mass shootings? Can a diagnosis of mental illness predict future violence? While politicians call for increased access to mental health treatment and laws to prevent those with mental illness from accessing firearms, researchers say that these conversations distract from a more effective remedy to mass shootings: gun law reform. 

Professor Mikita Brottman is a psychoanalyst, cultural critic and Oxford-educated scholar of the humanities. She’d had the experience of teaching smart, well-prepared students at MICA … but what would it be like to share books she loved with men convicted of serious crimes, and serving time for them at Jessup Correctional Institute? She tells what it’s like in her new book, "The Maximum Security Book Club: Reading Literature in a Men’s Prison." In this hour we talk to Brottman about what the experience meant. We ask what surprised her about the men and the workings of the prison, and how their discussions changed her view of literature. And we’ll meet one of her readers, now free. 

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Zymurgy. Trub. Wort. All words related to the art of making beer. Just ask anyone at this week’s National Homebrewers Conference in Baltimore. More than a million Americans now brew their own beer. Some are purists, sticking to traditional ales and lagers. Some dabble in odd ingredients: cucumber, cilantro, even doughnuts. Some use high-tech automated machines; others make magic with little more than a bucket and a hose. Why, in an age of great craft beer, are more and more people making their own suds? This hour, we’ll wet our whistles with two homebrewing experts. Be it sour, session, malt or stout, we’ll talk about the quest for the tastiest draft.

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As kids count down the final days of the school year, their minds are on playdates with friends, trips to the pool, and no homework. But one consequence of two months off from school is that many youth lose some of the academic gains they've made, forcing teachers to re-teach skills in the fall. How can educators and parents put a halt to the dreaded summer slide? What can students do to get an educational boost over break? Sarah Pitcock, head of the National Summer Learning Association, explains how summer learning opportunities can narrow the achievement gap and benefit all students. And librarian Marisa Conner previews Baltimore County’s summer reading program.

Most people in jail in Maryland haven’t been convicted of a crime. They’re awaiting trial behind bars because they can’t afford to post bail. Critics have called for bail reform for decades, but recent events have amplified their voices. A Baltimore judge set a $500,000 dollar bail for a teenager who broke the windshield of a police car following the death of Freddie Gray, far more than the bails set for the officers charged in Gray’s death. The contrast made national headlines. Advocates say the bail system is arbitrary, and that poverty, not guilt, often lands people in jail. What would eliminating money bail mean for criminal justice in Maryland?

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When you clean out your fridge, do you find yourself tossing good food that’s gone bad? As much as 40 percent of the American food supply goes to waste each year, at a cost of more than 160 billion dollars. Why is so much food discarded while 14 percent of American households suffer from food insecurity? Roni Neff, of the Johns Hopkins’ Center for a Livable Future, explains how our consumer culture encourages needless buying, as well as how wasted food impacts the environment. Plus, Beth Martino, president of the Maryland Food Bank, discusses how the nonprofit works with grocery stores and farms to redirect food that’s headed for the landfill. 

A lot of what you thought you knew about poor black kids growing up in Baltimore may not be true. A research effort by three sociologists who got to know 150 African-American young adults who were born into public housing and exposed to significant violence finds that most of them didn’t turn to crime themselves, and that many kept themselves on track by finding something to be passionate about. But still, despite the promise many showed in school, very few have gotten a college degree and a firm hold on a middle-class life. We’ll talk to sociologist Kathryn Edin of Johns Hopkins, one of the authors of "Coming of Age in the Other America."

Johns Hopkins Medicine

Tens of thousands of people are currently waiting for lifesaving organ transplants from donors. And hundreds of thousands of people receive bone grafts every year. Some must sacrifice a rib or leg bone for the procedure. What if instead we could build organs and bones for these patients from scratch, using living cells? One day we may be able to, with the help of 3D printers. Scientists are learning how to create everything from arteries to jawbones with these remarkably simple machines. How might 3D printers alter the course of medicine? Is it possible that one day we’ll be able to print a human heart? We discuss the medical applications of 3D printing with Warren Grayson, assistant professor in Biomedical Engineering Department at Johns Hopkins University, and Adam Feinberg, associate professor of Materials Science and Biomedical Engineering in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.