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Experts Stumped By Chicago's Soaring Homicide Rate

The homicide rate in Chicago has soared more than 50 percent in the first few months of 2012 over the same time period last year. The number of non-fatal shootings is up sharply, too. Why? Some say it could be just a statistical blip or due to rising temperatures, as Chicago had an extremely mild winter this year with record-setting warmth in March, the bloodiest month. But others say there is a deeply entrenched culture of violence in some city neighborhoods and within the prolific Chicago street gangs. They worry 2012 could be one of the most violent years in the city since the 1990s.
NPR

UniverSoul Circus Co-Host: 'Soul Is Not A Color'

In the beginning, all of the talent was black, but the UniverSoul Circus evolved into an eclectic mix of acts from around the world. Now, the circus is pushing to diversify its audience, with a show called "Us."
NPR

Fla. Students Crash After State Raises Bar On Test

The Florida Board of Education has voted to temporarily lower the passing grade for its state writing test after a dramatic drop in scores on this year's exam. The state had made the test more difficult and raised the passing grade in an attempt to upgrade standards. But education officials were stunned when preliminary results showed the passing rate for 4th graders this year had plummeted from 80 percent to less than 30 percent.
NPR

House Passes Its Version Of Domestic Violence Act

The House Wednesday passed a Republican version of a bill to renew the Violence Against Women Act. This is expected to set up a battle with the Democratic-controlled Senate, which has already passed a broader measure that's supported by the White House.
NPR

Defense Rests In John Edwards Trial

The defense in the John Edwards trial rested on Wednesday. Attorneys for the former presidential candidate and vice presidential nominee did not call Edwards, his daughter or Rielle Hunter, the woman he had an affair with and who bore his child. Edwards is accused of skirting federal campaign finance laws by accepting secret payments to cover up the affair and further his political ambitions. North Carolina Public Radio's Jeff Tiberii speaks with Melissa Block from Greensboro, N.C.
NPR

Town's Effort To Link Fracking And Illness Falls Short

Many residents of Dish, Texas, blame the fracking operations that surround their tiny town for a host of health problems — from nosebleeds to cancer. The former mayor was so scared, he left town. But scientists who've studied Dish say there's not enough evidence to link natural gas operations to any illness.

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