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Today we start with an update from Morro Bay, where the fate of California Coastal Commission Executive Director Charles Lester is being decided. The future of the commission’s leadership has big implications for California’s coast.

Then, John Kasich took second place among Republicans in the New Hampshire primary yesterday. What’s his track record?

Also in politics, New Hampshire primary winner Donald Trump touts a message of American exceptionalism. How did this idea become entangled in the country’s politics?

Next, the new science of gene editing.

And finally, a look inside one of California’s most notoriously violent prisons.

Banner Image: Supporters of California Coastal Commission Executive Director Charles Lester handed out stickers and displayed signs at a hearing in Morro Bay; Photo Credit: Saul Gonzalez

Drama at the Coastal Commission 8 MIN, 33 SEC

The fate of the embattled executive director of the California Coastal Commission, Charles Lester, was discussed today in a public hearing in Morro Bay. Lester was appointed in 2011. Some commissioners question his management and leadership. But environmentalists say the commissioners’ real motive is to make the board friendlier to developers. The Coastal Commission decides what can and cannot be built along California's coast. We get an update from Morro Bay.

Saul Gonzalez, Host, 'There Goes the Neighborhood: Los Angeles' (@SaulKCRW)

Kasich's Record? 7 MIN, 11 SEC

After a blistering defeat in Iowa, Ohio Gov. John Kasich took second place in the New Hampshire primary yesterday. Kasich appealed to New Hampshire’s more centrist voters with promises of reasonable, pragmatic leadership. He also spoke out against what he called the inflammatory rhetoric of Donald Trump. In short, he cast himself as a moderate. But what about when he was governor of Ohio? And, before that, a congressman? What’s his record?

Governor of Ohio John Kasich at NH FITN 2016
Photo Credit: Michael Vadon

Chrissie Thompson, Cincinatti Enquirer (@CThompsonENQ)

The History of American Exceptionalism 7 MIN, 30 SEC

If John Kasich won by coming in second place last night in New Hampshire, then Donald Trump really won when he took the top spot with Republican voters. He kicked off his victory speech with what is by now a familiar slogan: “Make America Great Again.” This idea of America’s unique greatness on the world stage, also known as American exceptionalism, has catapulted many a candidate to the presidency over the course of American history. Where does it come from?

Paul Kramer, Vanderbilt University

Gene Editing 15 MIN, 35 SEC

If we have the ability to make “designer babies,” should we? We might be able to overcome gene-related diseases, like Huntington’s disease, Down syndrome and even cancer. We could also potentially improve intelligence or make our baby taller or choose an eye color. With a new technology called CRISPR, this question is becoming more and more of a reality. Until now, changing the genetic code of any living thing to create a genetically modified organism – or GMO – has required years of work using million-dollar technology in high-end research labs. But CRISPR is cheap, fast and relatively easy to use. In other words, it’s a game changer.

Josiah Zayner, biohacker (@4LOVofScience)
Paul Knoepfler, UC Davis (@pknoepfler)

GMO Sapiens

Paul Knoepfler

Inside High Desert State Prison 9 MIN

High Desert State Prison in Northern California is a notoriously violent place. It’s a maximum security prison, housing 3,500 dangerous criminals including murderers, rapists and sex offenders. Two months ago, the state inspector general released a report describing severe inmate abuse and misconduct by prison staff. On top of that, five guards have committed suicide in the past seven years. The prison’s isolation is one challenge to addressing the problems there. Few outsiders even have access to it. Madeleine speaks to one journalist who got inside.

Karen Foshay, KCRW (@karenfoshay)

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