Retro Report’s Kit Roane: “The Shadow of Thalidomide”

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 8.39.12 AMVirtually no legal drug in American history carries as much fear as Thalidomide. A wonder drug, imported from Germany in the late 50s, that would help calm the nerves – even being prescribed for morning sickness among pregnant women.

But the drug had not been properly tested, and the side effects were devastating. Thousands of children, across the world, born deformed – arms, legs. The drug was taken off the market and banished.

But the Thalidomide story doesn’t end there. It turns out another use has been found, and this villain that caused so much suffering may have a second chance at becoming the wonder drug that was promised. How could this comeback occur? Is it worth the risk?

The story is being told by Retro Report, the non-profit news and documentary group that specializes in following important news events after the headlines have faded. Kit Roane produced their new video “The Shadow of Thalidomide.”

Why Millennials Drive Less — And What it Means for Transportation’s Future

It might not feel like it while  trapped in rush hour traffic, but Americans are driving less. Much less. After a nearly 60-year driving boom following World War II, newly released federal government data show that driving continued to decline in the first half of the year – the eighth straight year of decline.

And while the trend cuts across state lines, it might surprise you that one group in particular leads the way: Millennials.

Why the drop? Will it sustain? And if it does, what does that mean for how we should think about transportation investment? Dr. Phineas Baxandall is a Senior Analyst for Tax & Budget Policy at US PIRG. He analyzed the Federal data from disparate sources for his latest report: “Moving Off the Road: A State-by-State Analysis of the National Decline in Driving.”

Retro Report’s Josh Fisher: “Freeing Willy”

Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 6.12.50 PMSome 20 years ago, the surprise hit film “Free Willy” followed a boy’s fictional quest to free a dancing, swimming, performing whale named Willy.

While you likely remember the movie, you may have forgotten that there was a real-life Willy, and his name was Keiko. Keiko played Willy on screen, and following the film’s success, lots of movie goers asked the same question: If Willy gained freedom, why not Keiko?

That launched a movement to Free Keiko and deliver his own Hollywood ending. But Keiko met a far different fate than Willy, and his story – and the stories of the humans who tried to save him – continues to affect the global animal rights movement even today.

It’s a story being told by Retro Report, a non-profit news and documentary group that specializes in following important news events after the headlines have faded. Josh Fisher produced their new video, “Freeing Willy.”

Rana Mitter, University of Oxford: “Forgotten Ally: China’s WWII 1937-45”

When we talk today of the WWII Allies, many of us immediately think US, Britain and Russia. We forget, some of us at least, the fourth Ally: China. In fact, China’s involvement in World War II not only predated the other Allies – they began fighting Japan in 1937, some two years before war in Europe.

But we should forget China’s WWII experience at our own peril. Because much as the war shaped other countries’ futures, today’s China – the Communist takeover, the rise of a global super power, deepening tensions with the US and Japan, among others – can be best understood through the WWII lens. Few have considered – or can explain – the connections between China’s past and its global present better than University of Oxford professor Rana Mitter. He’s author of the new book “Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II 1937-1945.”

Retro Report’s B. Drummond Ayres, Jr.: “The Battle for Busing”

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 10.56.50 PMThe topic is as contentious as it is enduring: Desegregation in America’s Schools. What began with Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 advanced with busing and other maneuvers – and our schools became less segregated. Then, in the late 90s, a change. Lawsuits and more court decisions. And a generational push against busing. The verdict in many places: Desegration largely had succeeded, and as a result, institutionalized techniques like busing were no longer required.

What happened next is not only surprising, but also provides a clear example of the precarious tensions among race, education and equality in America. And of how quickly things can change.

This complex and important story is being told by Retro Report, a non-profit news and documentary group. Their new video is “The Battle for Busing” and focuses on ground zero for busing’s ups and downs: Charlotte, NC. The co-producer is B. Drummond Ayres, Jr., a former New York Times National Correspondent who covered the Civil Rights movement, desegration, busing and Charlotte.