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The Iowa caucuses are just six days away but what’s it like in Iowa without all the campaign hubbub? We chat with journalist Robert Draper about his story “Iowa’s Heartland Beyond the Campaign Trail.”

And on the campaign trail, an emerging theme: abortion. The controversial issue is back in the spotlight after a Texas grand jury indicted two anti-abortion activists who made undercover videos of Planned Parenthood.

Then, a look at President Barack Obama’s executive order to ban use of solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons.

After that, we go back to the Sundance Film Festival and talk about the movie Tallulah.

Finally, we wrap up with an Instagram experiment-turned-performance-art-piece.

Banner Image: Approaching storm southeast of Des Moines, Iowa; Credit: Samir Thuther via Flickr

Robert Draper on "Iowa's Heartland Beyond the Campaign Trail" 12 MIN, 40 SEC

There’s more to Iowa than meets the political eye. Usually the unassuming state is covered extensively on the presidential campaign trail but there’s not much said beyond that. So journalist Robert Draper rents a car and documents his road trip through Iowa in a recent New York Times article. Draper is covering the campaign trail but also makes time to explore off Iowa’s beaten path.

Robert Draper, New York Times Magazine / National Geographic / GQ (@DraperRobert)

The Politics of Abortion 8 MIN, 22 SEC

Abortion is back on the radar of Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. With yesterday’s Texas grand jury decision to indict two abortion opponents who targeted Planned Parenthood with an undercover video, abortion is a hot-button issue once more. Senator Bernie Sanders was even asked about reproductive rights at a town hall meeting Monday night. One thing is clear: Abortion politics is not going away any time soon.

Rebecca Traister, New York Magazine (@rtraister)

No More Life Sentences or Solitary Confinement for Kids 9 MIN, 20 SEC

The government made two big decisions this week about the treatment of American children in the country’s criminal justice system. President Barack Obama, by executive order, banned solitary confinement of juveniles in federal prisons. And yesterday, the Supreme Court decided that state courts will have to hold new sentencing hearings for anyone now serving a mandatory life sentence they were given as a minor. The two decisions are being called a start in the effort to reform the American criminal justice system.

Marsha Levick, Juvenile Law Center (@marshalevick)

Sundance Film Festival Round Two 9 MIN, 33 SEC

Host Madeleine Brand is at her very first Sundance Film Festival this week in Utah. Today she talks to the director of Tallulah, a film about the trials of motherhood starring Ellen Page and Allison Janney.

Sian Heder, director, 'Tallulah' (@sianheder)

Instagram Hoax Turned Performance Art 8 MIN, 34 SEC

One woman’s three-part storyline on her move to Los Angeles was documented on Instagram in minute detail. From boozy brunches to frilly outfits, everything seemed perfect. But then things took a turn for the worse. One photo showed her posing with a gun and unable to kick a bad drug habit. Yet, before long, the woman had redeemed herself through yoga, posting photos in meditative poses, complete with the hashtags #namaste and #healthy. After about five months of this, the woman, Amalia Ulman, revealed she was an artist and the photos were all part of a performance art piece. She claimed to be making a feminist critique on the representation of women in popular culture. Vapid hoax or authentic art? Make the decision for yourself by listening to the piece.

Nora Caplan-Bricker, Slate (@NCaplanBricker)

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