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Poverty in America

Poverty in America

Renee's guest is Kathryn Edin, a sociologist and a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University. She specializes in the study of people living on welfare. Edin is author of "$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America."
S12 E18 Length 28:02 Premiere: 2.3.17

Poverty in America After Welfare Reform

Since welfare reform was enacted in the 1990s, the United States has seen a sharp rise in the number of families living on as little as $2 a day in cash, according to a Johns Hopkins University sociologist.

Kathryn Edin, a poverty researcher and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University, is the author, with H. Luke Schaefer, of “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America” (2015). She spoke with Renee Shaw on KET’s Connections about her research and its implications for policy.

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According to the book, in 2011, about one out of every 25 households in America with children was living on no more than $2 a day in cash income, a number that had doubled since 1996, when welfare reforms were enacted.

“We’re kind of focusing on losses in manufacturing jobs, but even when you look at the low wage sector, the bad jobs of today are simply much, much, worse than the jobs of 20 years ago,” she said.

Edin said it is very difficult for those without a high school diploma to find a full-time job in the retail sector. “Employers will give you 25, maybe 30 hours a week, but no more. But they’ll also expect infinite availability so you can’t get a second job,” she said.

Since welfare reform in the 1990s, some states have put more money into child care subsidies, as well as liberalizing Medicaid eligibility so people don’t lose medical benefits as soon as they leave welfare for work. The federal Earned Income Tax Credit reduces income taxes for low- to moderate-income working individuals and couples.

In fact, Edin said, welfare reform did initially result in more employment of single mothers in the late 1990s. “We really did a lot of good things to support work,” she said. “The problem is the economy started to work against us, and these things were predicated on the assumption that you could find a full-time employer – which for many Americans now is like chasing a rainbow.”

The Great Recession
Edin said people who have found full-time, full-year work have never been better off. “If you can find that full-time job, we support you more than we did before,” she said. “For those who can’t do that, it is definitely the case that they are worse off than before.”

Most people who don’t work full time do work at some point during the year, Edin said. But they have periods of several months without cash income. “Here in Kentucky, there are counties where there simply are no jobs. They’re ending up in these situations where they literally have no safety net to catch them when they fall.”

In the late 1970s in Kentucky, 90 percent of families with children with no means of support got some sort of cash support from the government, Edin said. Now that figure is 19 percent.

Edin has found that many people in poverty want to work. “When you go to places like eastern Kentucky and you look for them, you find families who are all about work. They have work histories, they’re trying to get work. … I think they’re sort of hanging on to the ragged edge of a low-wage labor market that’s really dissolving within their grasp.”

Living With Almost No Cash
Edin said over past 20 years, government has cut back on cash assistance dramatically. Now less than 800,000 adults across the country are receiving cash assistance. More do get food stamps, and at this time more people are covered by Medicaid. “The irony is, our research suggests that living without cash is actually associated with making you sick,” she said.

In her research, Edin met a 26-year-old young woman who had lived in poverty since age 12. “The first thing you notice about her is she puts her hand in front of her face when she smiles. She has no teeth. She got no regular dental care as a child,” she said. “So you can imagine what this has done in employment situations.” Her health profile, Edin said, is that of a 60 or 70 year old.

People who are extremely poor must be resourceful to survive, collecting rainwater to wash clothes, growing food, and selling plasma, Edin said. “Only in the United States can you give [plasma] up to two times a week,” she said. “All other nations on earth consider this a health risk. Because of this, the U.S. has become the OPEC of plasma. We provide up to 70 percent of the world’s plasma. A lot of this is from the veins of the poor.”

Extreme poverty takes a heavy toll on a person’s physical and mental energy. “It taxes it in such a way that psychologists show it forestalls long term planning. Literally, the energy you’re expending on survival is compromising your future.”

Some people in extreme poverty trade food stamps for cash on black markets. She has also met women who turned to prostitution to get money for food. “This is not what we want to see in America,” she said.

Solutions for Extreme Poverty
Rural poverty is growing faster than urban poverty, Edin said. The largest concentration of extreme, $2-a-day poverty is concentrated in Appalachia and the Deep South, she added.

Edin said her research shows that cash benefits work best to alleviate poverty. She acknowledged that people worry that the poor won’t spend cash wisely, but said her research shows the opposite: People use the extra money from the Earned Income Tax Credit for savings, transportation needs, and debt payoff.

Edin says policy solutions to poverty should focus on three areas:

Supported work: “Supported work, supporting private sector employers to increase their labor force, and bringing services alongside these workers so they can stay in their jobs – employers love this idea because it takes away their risk,” she said. Such a program, Edin said, could make big differences in states with few jobs.

Housing: Edin said a voucher program for housing does better than public housing in terms of giving people more dignity. But landlords, she said, still discriminate against voucher holders, leaving them to find housing in some of the least advantaged neighborhoods, she said. “So we don’t get as much benefit from that program as we could,” she said.

Safety net: Edin believes the Earned Income Tax Credit should be expanded, or, as Schaefer says, families should be offered a guaranteed child allowance. “This is common in many parts of western Europe. That child is a public gift and public good, and we’re going to put a floor under you, a couple hundred dollars a month, you spend it how you see fit. But we wanted to signal to you that we value your role as parent. You need to go out and work to get the income that it takes for the rest of your family to survive, but we’re going to help you with that public good, given the cost of child care and other costs of raising a child.”

Some countries, Edin said, talk about establishing a universal basic income. Canada and Finland have experimented with this because they want more entrepreneurship, she said.

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Filmmaker Kiley Lane Parker discusses her film, Raising Ms. President, about raising the next generation of female political leaders.

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U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams is a former mayor of Youngstown, Ohio. From the recent SOAR summit in Pikeville, he talks about how Youngstown recovered from the decline of the steel industry and how those lessons can apply to Eastern Kentucky areas distressed by the sharp downturn in coal jobs.

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Susan Guess and her daughter, Morgan, began the Guess Anti-Bullying Foundation nearly four years ago after Morgan experienced bullying. They have raised $50,000 to bring a variety of anti-bullying programs to the region. Susan Guess was appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear in 2014 to serve on the Kentucky Bully Prevention Task Force, which will make recommendations to the governor in fall 2015.

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Diabetes Epidemic - S10 E20

Gilbert Friedell, MD, and J. Isaac Joyner, MPH, discuss their book, The Great Diabetes Epidemic: A Manifesto for Control and Prevention. The book advocates taking a public health approach to addressing diabetes, emphasizes prevention of diabetes-related complications, and encourages more community responsiveness.

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Cathy Zion - Zion Publications LLC - S10 E38

Cathy Zion became owner and publisher of Zion Publications in 1996, after a long career in banking. Her company publishes Today's Woman, and added new magazines, Today's Transitions and Today's Family.

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Gigi Butler - Gigi's Cupcakes - S10 E39

Gigi Butler opened her first Gigi's Cupcakes location just off of music row in Nashville, Tennessee in 2008 and in six short years, with 98 locations and counting, Gigi's is now the largest cupcake franchise in the world.

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Cathe Dykstra - Family Scholar House - S10 E41

Cathe Dykstra, chief possibility officer, president & CEO of Family Scholar House, discusses the Louisville organization and its impact on families and communities. Family Scholar House's mission is to end the cycle of poverty by providing housing and educational support to single-parent students and their families.

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Infant Nutrition and Breastfeeding - S10 E42

Renee and her guests discuss the health benefits of breastfeeding in recognition of national breastfeeding week, as well as provide tips on proper infant nutrition. Scheduled guests include: Doraine Bailey, MA, IBCLC, Breastfeeding Support Services with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Dept.; Ana Maria Linares, an associate professor in the UK College of Nursing and a Lactation Consultant who has conducted research on attitudes and practices around breastfeeding among Latinas in Lexington; and Nicole Peritore, program coordinator for the Health Education through Extension Leadership (HEEL) Office at the University of Kentucky.

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Andre Taylor - S10 E43

Andre Taylor has a distinguished 35-year career, building and advising businesses. He's the author of You Can Still Win! and a half-dozen other books, a frequent guest expert on ABC News, and an international authority on winning and leadership. Mr. Taylor was a speaker at the 13th Annual Lexington Bluegrass Area Minority Business Expo.

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JoAnne Wheeler Bland - S10 E44

Renee talks with transgender activist JoAnne Wheeler Bland, who in her sixties transitioned from male to female. A practicing attorney for more than 40 years, she is a former Special Justice on the Kentucky Supreme Court, former Vice-President of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, current member of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education's Committee on Equal Opportunity (the Diversity Committee), and guest speaker at Women's and Gender Studies programs at Kentucky universities.

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Faith Politics - S10 E45

Renee and her guests talk about the role of religion in politics and public policy decision-making. Guests: Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper, pastor of New Union Christian Church, and Rev. D. Anthony Everett, pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church.

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Kinship Care - S10 E46

Kentucky has one of the highest rates in the nation of children being raised by grandparents and other relatives, also known as kinship care. Renee and her guests discuss what research tells us about the financial, emotional, and legal challenges that kinship care poses. Guests: Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, and Jeanne Miller-Jacobs, a kinship care provider.

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Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk - S11 E2

Renee Shaw interviews new Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk, who talks about his experiences in public education and his goals for the district.

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The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia - Gerald Smith - S11 E3

Renee's guest is Dr. Gerald Smith, an author and history professor at the University of Kentucky, and co-editor of The Kentucky African-American Encyclopedia: Life and Culture in the Commonwealth. The reference book contains entries on the individuals, events, places, organizations, movements, and institutions that helped shape the state's history and cultural diversity.

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Childhood Cancer - S11 E4

September is childhood cancer awareness month. Renee talks with survivors and parents about their experiences and the research on the rare maladies striking youth.

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Kellie Blair Hardt - S11 E5

Renee speaks with special education teacher Kellie Blair Hardt, who overcame homelessness, an absent mother, an alcoholic father and school expulsion to earn her GED. She received the National Education Association Foundation's 2013 Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence as one of the nation's top educators. Hardt is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in higher education at George Mason University. She was featured in KET's series Dropping Back In.

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Jacinda Townsend - S11 E6

Author Jacinda Townsend discusses her critically acclaimed novel, Saint Monkey, a coming-of-age story set in 1950's Eastern Kentucky. The book won the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for historical fiction. Townsend is a former Hurston-Wright Award finalist and currently teaches creative writing at Indiana University.

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Dorothy Butler Gilliam - S11 E7

Renee speaks with journalist Dorothy Butler Gilliam, who was the first African-American female reporter at The Washington Post. She retired in 2003 after a 35-year career with the paper.

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Allison Joseph - S11 E8

Allison Joseph is the author of six poetry books. She teaches at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, where she helped found {Crab Orchard Review}, a literary journal, and the Young Writers Workshop, a co-ed residential summer program for teen writers.

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Cynthia Knapek - Leadership Louisville Center

  • Sunday September 12, 2021 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 12, 2021 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday September 5, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday September 5, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday September 5, 2021 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday September 5, 2021 11:00 am CT on KET

Bill Farmer - S10 E8

  • Friday September 10, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 10, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 10, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 10, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 10, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 10, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Diane Follingstad - UK Women's Circle Endowment Chair - S10 E6

  • Thursday September 9, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 9, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kevin Chapman - S10 E5

  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 2:20 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 1:20 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Soreyda Benedit Begley and Chris Begley - S10 E3

  • Tuesday September 7, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 7, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 7, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 7, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Chris Rabb - S10 E1

  • Friday September 3, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 3, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 3, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 3, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday September 3, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 3, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Tanya Torp and Holly Houston - S9 E46

  • Thursday September 2, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 2, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday September 2, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 2, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Frontier Nursing University - S9 E45

  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

SWAG - Sisters and Supporters Working Against Gun Violence - S9 E44

  • Tuesday August 31, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 31, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 31, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 31, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 31, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 31, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Marta Miranda - S9 E43

  • Monday August 30, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday August 30, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday August 30, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday August 30, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday August 30, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday August 30, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Sarah Taylor Vanover - Early Childhood Education

  • Sunday September 5, 2021 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 5, 2021 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday September 4, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday September 4, 2021 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday August 29, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday August 29, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday August 29, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday August 29, 2021 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday August 29, 2021 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday August 29, 2021 11:00 am CT on KET

The Rise of Anti-Asian Violence

  • Sunday August 29, 2021 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday August 29, 2021 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday August 28, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday August 28, 2021 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 5:00 pm CT on KET

Judi Jennings - S9 E42

  • Friday August 27, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday August 27, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday August 27, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday August 27, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday August 27, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday August 27, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dr. Robert Hilgers - S9 E41

  • Thursday August 26, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday August 26, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday August 26, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday August 26, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday August 26, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday August 26, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Wil James - S9 E40

  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday August 25, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

African Americans and Mental Health - S9 E39

  • Tuesday August 24, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 24, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 24, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 24, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 24, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday August 24, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Charisse Gillett - Lexington Theological Seminary - S9 E38

  • Monday August 23, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday August 23, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday August 23, 2021 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday August 23, 2021 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday August 23, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday August 23, 2021 4:30 am CT on KETKY
Top

Season 12 Episodes

Kinship Care Activist Katie Okumu

S12 E46 Length 26:27 Premiere Date 8.25.17

Photographer Carol Peachee

S12 E45 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 8.18.17

Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative

S12 E44 Length 28:28 Premiere Date 8.11.17

Sec. Vickie Yates Brown Glisson

S12 E43 Length 29:17 Premiere Date 8.4.17

Criminal Justice Reform

S12 E42 Length 28:08 Premiere Date 7.28.17

Kayla Rae Whitaker

S12 E41 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 7.14.17

Uncovering Bias in Preschool Education

S12 E40 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 7.7.17

The Latest Data on Kentucky's Kids

S12 E39 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 6.30.17

Building Leadership Skills

S12 E38 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 6.23.17

The Ali Center's Donald Lassere

S12 E37 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 6.16.17

Improving Nutrition in the Daily Diet

S12 E36 Length 27:06 Premiere Date 6.9.17

Alzheimer's Disease

S12 E35 Length 28:19 Premiere Date 6.2.17

Innovation at the Alltech Conference

S12 E34 Length 28:33 Premiere Date 5.26.17

Political Journalist Cokie Roberts

S12 E33 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 5.22.17

2017 Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit

S12 E32 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 5.12.17

Alison Lundergan Grimes

S12 E31 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 5.9.17

Sexual Trauma in the Military

S12 E30 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 5.2.17

Foster Care

S12 E29 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 4.24.17

Justice Secretary John Tilley

S12 E23 Length 29:36 Premiere Date 4.14.17

Job Training in Kentucky

S12 E22 Length 29:31 Premiere Date 3.24.17

Kentucky Tourism

S12 E21 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 2.24.17

Reducing Youth Violence

S12 E20 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 2.17.17

State Treasurer Allison Ball

S12 E19 Length 28:51 Premiere Date 2.10.17

Poverty in America

S12 E18 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 2.3.17

Homelessness in Kentucky

S12 E17 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 1.27.17

Sadiqa Reynolds

S12 E16 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 1.20.17

Cory Jewell Jensen

S12 E15 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 1.13.17

Bill Goodman

S12 E14 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 1.6.17

Promoting Health Equity

S12 E13 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 12.16.16

Kentucky's Teacher of the Year

S12 E12 Length 27:22 Premiere Date 12.9.16

Important Issues for Seniors

S12 E11 Length 28:20 Premiere Date 11.18.16

Nonprofit Organizations

S12 E10 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 11.11.16

Iris Wilbur and Colmon Elridge

S12 E9 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 11.4.16

Alzheimer's Disease

S12 E8 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 10.28.16

Activism Through Music and Art

S12 E7 Length 28:31 Premiere Date 10.21.16

Paducah's Merryman House

S12 E6 Length 28:07 Premiere Date 10.14.16

The Achievement Gap

S12 E5 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 10.7.16

Discussing Domestic Violence

S12 E4 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 9.30.16

Musician Jon Secada

S12 E3 Length 29:13 Premiere Date 9.23.16

Playwright Mitzi Sinnott

S12 E2 Length 27:12 Premiere Date 9.15.16

FDA Chief Dr. Robert Califf

S12 E1 Length 26:26 Premiere Date 9.9.16

Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy

Preview Length 29:32 Premiere Date 9.8.17

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