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11.29.16: Tracking Hate Crimes, NASA's Planetary Defense Plan, & The Bookshelf

Nicholas Wilson via Flickr CC

Since Election Day, reports of hate crimes have soared across the nation. While well-documented in the news and on social media, the real numbers could be even higher. Today: why reporting and tracking hate crimes begins - and sometimes ends - with local cops, courts and cultural norms.

Also today, the Feds contemplate a scary scenario: an asteroid hurtling towards greater Los Angeles. We'll speak with NASA's planetary defense officer about teaming up with FEMA, the Air Force and other government agencies for a simulation of what could happen if an asteroid crashed into a densely populated region - and how they'd respond. 

Listen to the full show. 

Tracking Hate Crimes

Reports of hate crimes have soared since the bitter national election. “Black lives don’t matter and neither does your votes,” was spray-painted across a wall in Durham, North Carolina a day after the election. That same day, two students at a Pennsylvania vocational school were videotaped parading with a Trump sign shouting "White Power".  A flurry of swastikas and variations of  "Trump Nation Whites Only" have popped up on public buildings. All of these incidents have been confirmed or are under investigation by law enforcement, as have several incidences of harassment and intimidation of Muslim women, including forcing them to remove their hijab. But still many incidents have not been independently verified and may never be reported

Ken Schwenke and A.C. Thompson have been tracking the surge in hate crimes for Pro Publica, and have been looking into how these offenses are tracked and reported.  

Share your tips on hate crimes with A.C. via email: ac.thompson@propublica.org

Related: "Hate Crimes Are Up — But the Government Isn’t Keeping Good Track of Them"

Tracking Hate Crimes

NASA's Planetary Defense Plan

Here's a scary scenario: an asteroid hurtling towards greater Los Angeles. That’s not the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster, but a worst-case planetary protection exercise conducted this fall by representatives from NASA, FEMA, the Air Force and other government agencies. The group simulation was designed to run through likely consequences, defenses and on the ground responses to an asteroid colliding with a densely populated region. We spoke with Lindley Johnson, Planetary Defense Officer at NASA HQ.  

NASA's Planetary Defense Plan

Besides Life Here

From near death encounters to the teacher who sees potential in a troubled kid, tales of life changing experiences are often full of hope....but what happens when the most important event in your life is something no one believes? This story comes to us from Molly Graham.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org. 


Cannon Ball, North Dakota, is home to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and site of tense clashes between law enforcement and people protesting the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. On August 19th, North Dakota Governor, Jack Dalrymple declared a state of emergency, activating the National Guard to, as he put it: "maintain the peace.” The declaration also triggered an influx of out of state personnel in accordance with a Federal law providing interstate emergency assistance during natural disasters. Steve Horn is an investigative journalist and research fellow at DeSmogBlog. He looked into how that law is being used not only for catastrophes, but fighting protestors.

Related: This Natural Disaster Assistance Law Is Why Other States Are Policing Dakota Access Pipeline Protests


The Bookshelf: Memoirist Katrina Kenison's 'Moments of Seeing'

It's time for The Bookshelf - where NHPR's Peter Biello speaks with authors who live in or write about the Granite State. This week, Peterborough author and longtime editor of The Best American Short Stories Anthology, Katrina Kenison - her new memoir is called Moments of Seeing.  

You can listen to this full episode again here: The Bookshelf: Memoirist Katrina Kenison's 'Moments of Seeing'

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