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FROM THIS EPISODE

Wildfire season is in full swing, and a pilot died yesterday while fighting one near Yosemite National Park. Are our fire prevention techniques up-to-date? Wal-Mart is ending health coverage for its approximately 30,000 part-time workers. What will it mean for part-timers seeking medical care, not just at Wal-Mart but also at other retailers who may follow suit? In our weekly tech news roundup, we look at new apps that let neighbors in California secretly turn each other in to authorities for wasting water in the drought. Next, naturalist and author Diane Ackerman explains why she thinks the so-called Human Age we live in -- in which virtually every corner of the Earth has been touched by mankind -- is a good thing. And finally, should chimpanzees be afforded the same rights as humans? A New York appeals court will consider that question today.

Banner Image: The July Complex Fire in the Klamath National Forest in California, which began on Aug. 3, 2014 from an undetermined cause and consumed over 50,000 acres; Credit: U.S. Forest Service

Producers:
Andrew Walsh
Christian Bordal
Matt Holzman
Jolie Myers
Anna Scott

How We Fight Wildfires 7 MIN, 30 SEC

It’s been a catastrophic wildfire year in California, with more than 5,000 so far. Yesterday, a pilot died when his tanker plane crashed near Yosemite National Park. The weather and lack of water are big factors, but what about our fire management practices? Are they also to blame?

Helicopters drop water and fire retardant on the Harris fire, near the Mexican border, in 2007 to stop the wildfire from advancing

Guests:
Tom Scott, Center for Conservation Biology (@U_of_California)

Wal-Mart To Drop Part-Timers’ Healthcare 5 MIN, 54 SEC

Wal-Mart is ending health coverage for its approximately 30,000 part-time workers. The company says it’s too expensive under the Affordable Care Act. Wal-Mart is the country’s biggest private employer, and other retailers are expected to follow its lead. We look at what this means for part-timers’ seeking medical care.

Guests:
Anna Wilde Mathews, Wall Street Journal (@annawmathews)

More:
Wal-Mart to End Health Insurance for Some Part-Time Employees

Drought Tattletale Apps 8 MIN, 35 SEC

Today in our weekly tech news roundup, we look at new apps that let Southern California neighbors secretly turn each other in to the authorities for wasting water. We also look at Facebook’s new embrace of anonymity, and how Hong Kong protesters avoided the Internet while organizing.

Guests:
Alex Goldman, Reply All (@agoldmund)

How We Shape the World 13 MIN, 56 SEC

The Anthropocene -- or “the Human Age” -- is what scientists call the era we’re in now. And it has affected nearly every inch of the Earth: air, land, water… there’s nothing humans haven’t touched. We often hear the negative side of this, but writer Diane Ackerman has a different perspective. She’s hopeful that humans can create beauty and innovation in response to the destruction we have already wrought.

Guests:
Diane Ackerman, author, 'The Human Age'

The Human Age

Diane Ackerman

Chimps on Trial 10 MIN, 8 SEC

Is keeping an animal in a cage par for the course for pet owners? Or is it unlawful imprisonment? That question goes before a New York appeals court today. And the answer will depend on whether the court considers a chimp a person.

Guests:
Charles Siebert, New York Times

More:
Should a Chimp Be Able to Sue Its Owner?

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