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Who’s Saving Electricity in Your Neighborhood?

Software company Opower thinks it can get consumers to use less electricity by instigating some friendly neighborhood competition.

 

Breeding Tropical Fish to Save Their Schools

For every tropical fish that becomes a pet, four are killed. Joan Holt wants to take the violence out of their world.

 

Library Parks Foster Community in Colombia

Medellín, Colombia’s “library parks” — built for its poorest residents — are bringing sanity and community to one of the world’s most violent cities.

 

Street Makeovers Put New Spin on the Block

How community activists are taking city planning into their own hands and creating pedestrian-friendly blocks via pop-up urbanism.

 

U.S. Planting Seeds of Peace in Afghanistan

U.S. soldiers work to undo some of the damage done to Afghanistan’s agricultural communities from decades of war.

 

Returning Warriors Go to Work, in the Fields

Facing high unemployment rates, returning U.S. veterans are finding work on the farm.

 

Tattoo Remorse Spawns New Business

Tattoo remorse is leading many of the painted masses to rethink their ink, which is fueling a burgeoning business: specialty tattoo removal shops.

 

Turning Cellphones Into Mobile Microscopes

Researchers across California are working to bring medical microscopes to our cellphones — and vastly improve field medicine.

 

Work-Life Balance Benefits Low-Wage Workers, Employers

A growing body of research reveals myriad benefits — for employers and employees alike — when company policies promoting work-life balance are offered to low-wage workers.

 

Beyond PTSD: Soldiers Have Injured Souls

Now that modern militaries accept that war creates psychological trauma, therapists wonder about its toll on the spirit.

 

Celebrants Offering More Meaningful Funerals

Trained celebrants — often with backgrounds in psychology, social work, acting and other professions that emphasize writing or public speaking — are helping families create personalized ceremonies to honor loved ones who’ve passed on.

 

Can Cigarette Butts Be Recycled?

A San Diego innovator pays $3 a pound for cigarette butts. But whatever can you recycle them into?

 

Pol Pot’s Legacy: Cambodian Refugees in Poor Health

Advocates look to expand programs that address a legacy of the Pol Pot era: an epidemic of heart disease, diabetes and stroke among Cambodian-Americans.

 

Save the Birds — With Doppler Radar

Doppler radar helped save the Texas forests where millions of migrating birds rest each spring.

 

Can Biosecurity Go Global?

Outside the U.S., biological labs follow few if any security regulations. A Sandia National Laboratory team works to help those labs prevent deadly microbe releases, accidental and deliberate.

 

The Farm School: Growing Organic Farmers

At The Farm School, students learn the nuts, bolts and economics of organic farming, and the spiritual side isn’t ignored, either. Garlic plantings may get blessed.

 

Search Dogs Seeking Fake Disasters to Sniff

The canine-handler teams produced by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation are the gold standard in their field. All the foundation needs now are some fake disasters the dogs can sniff.

 

Protecting the Child Beggars of Senegal

When they beg for alms, are Senegalese “talibés” supporting Quranic schools — or being exploited? The government begins a fitful program of regulation.

 

Turning Failed Commercial Properties Into Parks

Turning foreclosed commercial properties into park networks could put people to work, raise real estate values and promote wise redevelopment.

 

Art and Alzheimer’s: Another Way of Remembering

How the life and death of the Chicago painter known as Hilgos helped bring art — and a better quality of life — to Alzheimer’s patients.

 

Native Environmentalism and the Alberta Oil Boom

Is Canada’s use of “traditional ecological knowledge” in resource planning an environmental advance or just a political sop to native tribes?

 

Global Warming: the Archaeological Frontier

Melting glaciers yield evidence on new theories of Asian migration to the Americas. Underwater robots search the sea bottom, looking for more.

 

When Facebook Is Your Medical Record

Emerging research suggests kids’ social network postings reflect their real-life behavior. Should that information be used in their medical care?

 

Ranking States’ Citizen Embarrassment Levels

Amid a rush of political scandals and missteps, we figure that some citizens are more embarrassed for their state than others. We look at the shameful headlines and determine where these states would rank on the citizen embarrassment level.

 

Bamboo Houses to the Rescue

Bamboo houses combat climate change, encourage economic growth and protect the poor from natural disaster. Why aren’t there more of them?

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Don’t Text and Drive—Especially If You’re Old

A new study shows that texting while driving becomes even more dangerous with age.

Apparently You Can Bring Your Religion to Work

New research says offices that encourage talk of religion actually make for happier workplaces.

Canadian Kids Have a Serious Smoking Problem

Bootleg cigarette sales could be leading Canadian teens to more serious drugs, a recent study finds.

The Hidden Psychology of the Home Ref

That old myth of home field bias isn’t a myth at all; it’s a statistical fact.

The Big One

One in two United States senators and two in five House members who left office between 1998 and 2004 became lobbyists. November/December 2014

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