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Two California scientists were among the winners of the MacArthur Genius Grants announced yesterday.

Then, a two-part look at California’s recent criminal justice reforms: what’s it like for a person when his or her felony conviction is downgraded later to a misdemeanor? And what happens to DNA collected from felons after their crimes have been downgraded?

Next, KCRW D.J. Chris Douridas tells the unusual story of how he helped popularize a foreign band.

And finally, is kombucha tea a health friend or foe?

Banner Image: A glass of kombucha; Credit: Michael Coté

California MacArthur Geniuses 5 MIN, 1 SEC

Two Northern California scientists were among the 24 winners of the the prestigious MacArthur Genius Grant. Christopher Ré, a computer scientist at Stanford, got the award for his work on DeepDive, a system to tackle so-called dark data. And an inorganic chemist at UC Berkeley, Peidong Yang, received the $625,000 award for creating a synthetic leaf that can turn sunlight into other energy forms.

Peidong Yang, UC Berkeley

A Deeper Dive into DeepDive 7 MIN, 12 SEC

The other Californian who won a Genius Grant today is Christopher Ré, a computer scientist at Stanford. Madeleine speaks to one of his collaborators. Together they created DeepDive, a data platform.

Mike Cafarella, University of Michigan (@MikeCafarella)

The Effect of Downgrading Felonies 9 MIN, 44 SEC

A new report from the Public Policy Institute of California finds that realignment and Prop 47 have not, so far, resulted in an increase in crime in California. Realignment is the big shift of inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes from state prisons to county jails. Prop 47, passed last year, changes certain drug crimes and nonviolent felonies to misdemeanors. The measure is retroactive. On Sunday, a fair was organized at Exposition Park to help people with prior felonies reduce their criminal records, and more than 4,000 people turned up. Some lined up as early as four in the morning. We hear from people who were there.

Lenore Anderson, Californians for Safety and Justice (@LenoreAnderson)
Ed Sigler, former felon

Discarding DNA? 7 MIN, 20 SEC

Prop 47 may also have an impact on the state’s DNA database. Anyone convicted of a felony has his or her DNA added to California’s DNA Databank. But what happens with the DNA information of the hundreds of thousands of Californians eligible to have old felonies reduced to misdemeanors? That’s the subject of a battle now playing out in the California court system.

Kristina Davis, San Diego Union-Tribune (@kristinadavis)

A Music Discovery 9 MIN, 37 SEC

We all find the music we love in all kinds of different ways. Friends, siblings, Spotify. This summer, KCRW D.J. Chris Douridas took a big European road trip with his son and they listened to all kinds of music from around the world. Chris brought some of it back to play on his show here at KCRW and got a very unexpected reaction. He joins Madeleine to tell the story of how he discovered a unique new band.

Chris Douridas, Host of 'Chris Douridas' (@chrisdouridas)

Kombucha: Friend or Foe? 6 MIN, 20 SEC

Kombucha -- the cold, fizzy tea that claims to have all kinds of health benefits -- has come under government scrutiny. Because it’s fermented, kombucha usually has some trace amount of alcohol in it. In the past month, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has been cracking down on kombucha makers. The agency sent warning letters to kombucha makers whose products contain even the slightest bit more than .5 percent alcohol. That’s the threshold for officially qualifying as booze. And if you’re making booze, you have to abide by a whole bunch of special regulations. Behind this scrutiny is the exploding popularity of the drink. Once an obscure hippie concoction, kombucha is now a $.6 billion a year industry. It’s expected to reach nearly $2 billion in the next five years.

Andrea Giancoli, dietician (@AndreaNGiancoli)

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