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This Duncanville Student Gets Through Tough Times Thanks To Her Softball Team

Duncanville High School has undergone big demographic changes in recent years. Today, about 70 percent of the students are considered economically disadvantaged — students like Rykeyia Branch. The high school senior is juggling classes with a part-time job and her role as manager of the Panthers softball team.

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The High Five

KERA takes a look at five stories that have North Texas talking — buzz from D-FW and across the state.

Dallas, TX – Presidential wannabe Al Gore doesn't want to take credit for current gas prices. Yet, of the myriad things he has taken credit for - the Internet, Love Canal, "Love Story," and the economy - it's the one thing he genuinely has some responsibility for. After all, in his book, "Earth in the Balance," Gore wrote that higher fossil fuel prices were desirable as a national energy policy, and he cast the tie-breaking vote for 1993's gas tax increase.

DALLAS – Enoch Diaz, Harwood Street resident: This kite here, my daughter, that was her first little project. I save it. I save all this little stuff from the kids, from the years back. (Laughs)

Suzanne Sprague, KERA 90.1 Reporter (to Diaz): You're taking it with you?

Diaz: Those are all good memories.

KHVN 970 AM announcer (on tape): Heaven 97. It is now time for a special edition, a special program, a 15-minute program on the Lee Alcorn controversy.

Suzanne Sprague, KERA 90.1 Reporter: The controversy that rocked Dallas's African-American and Jewish communities began Monday. Local NAACP President Lee Alcorn was appearing on KHVN, a black gospel radio station, when he criticized Al Gore for picking Senator Joseph Lieberman, who is Jewish, over an African-American as his running mate.

DALLAS – Suzanne Sprague, KERA 90.1 Reporter: DART's current plans for light rail in North Texas do not hinge on the results of Saturday's election. The same cities will get light rail service no matter how the vote turns out. The big question is when.

Jesse Oliver, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Board Chair: It moves up on an average of five years.

Sprague: Jesse Oliver is chair of the DART Board.

Oliver: So rather than waiting until 2010, 2008 for that service, we're talking about 2004, 2006.

DALLAS – Suzanne Sprague, KERA 90.1 Reporter: As soon as former Superintendent Bill Rojas announced he wanted to leave the Dallas public schools, local business leaders began calling for trustees to consider hiring a non-traditional candidate: someone with management and leadership skills, but not necessarily a background in education. Dozens of community leaders turned out last night to voice their opposition to this proposal. Adelfa Callejo is a long-time Hispanic activist.

Dallas, TX – This year's U.S. Presidential candidates have been putting more effort into reaching the nation's estimated 31.3 million Latinos, and a new survey indicates their attention is well warranted. A June-July poll conducted by a group of public broadcasters indicates that U.S. Hispanics believe strongly that they have a stake in this year's presidential election -- and that more than 5.8 million Latinos are preparing to vote.

Dallas, TX – Suzanne Sprague, KERA 90.1 Reporter: Nearly one million people come to the United States to live each year. The majority of those immigrants are Latino, like Cuca Gonzalez and her family, who live on Fort Worth's north side.

[A woman pours a glass a juice and asks, in Spanish, "Do you want some?"]

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Race, Poverty And The Changing Face Of Schools

Take a deep dive into how four different high schools in North Texas have changed over the decades.

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Latest from NPR

Connie Dotts is a big fan of her insurance.

"I like that we can choose our own doctors," says the 60-year-old resident of Mesa, Ariz. "They also have extensive mental health coverage."

Dotts isn't on some pricey plan, either. She's among the nearly 2 million people enrolled in Medicaid in Arizona and one of the more than 400,000 who have signed up since the Republican-led state expanded Medicaid in 2013.

Give up. You will never, ever catch up with every new TV show that's out there. There's a reason for that, says Melanie McFarland, television critic for Salon: "There were more than 450 new shows that premiered last year across broadcast, cable and streaming."

On a cold and windy day off the coast of Alabama, a team of researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts gathers, conducting the first test outside a laboratory for a potential new solution to a challenging problem: cleaning oil spills from water.

The invention, the Flame Refluxer, is "very simple," says Ali Rangwala, a professor of fire protection engineering: Imagine a giant Brillo pad of copper wool sandwiched between layers of copper screen, with springy copper coils attached to the top.

The German city of Trier has never been particularly fond of its most famous son, Karl Marx, who helped turn communism into an ideology that changed the course of history.

Conservative and Catholic, the picturesque city on the French border took an ambivalent view of the radical revolutionary, born into a Jewish family in 1818.

There's a wall-long mural in the manufacturing area of SilencerCo, in West Valley City, Utah, that shows a crowd of people with muzzled mouths. One's holding a sign that says, "Fight the Noise." Another says: "Guns don't have to be loud."

As a leading manufacturer and seller of gun silencers — or suppressors, as they're more accurately called — SilencerCo wants to quiet guns. Congress may soon help in the effort.

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Here Are 39 Things You Should Do In Texas Before You Die

Texas Independence Day is March 2. (On that day, back in 1836, the Texas Declaration of Independence was adopted at Washington-on-the-Brazos.) So, to celebrate, the KERA News staff figured we’d come up with a list of quintessential Texas experiences – a list of things you should do in the Lone Star State before you kick the bucket.

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In-Depth Interviews

History, science, politics, books and more with KERA's Krys Boyd.