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Tovia Smith

Tovia Smith is an award-winning NPR News National Desk correspondent based in Boston.

For the last 25 years, Smith has been covering news around New England and beyond. She's reported extensively on the debate over gay marriage in Massachusetts and the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic Church, including breaking the news of the Pope's secret meeting with survivors.

Smith has traveled to New Hampshire to report on seven consecutive Primary elections, to the Gulf Coast after the BP oil spill, and to Ground Zero in New York City after the September 11, 2001 attacks. She covered landmark court cases — from the trials of British au pair Louise Woodward, and abortion clinic gunman John Salvi, to the proceedings against shoe bomber Richard Reid.

Through the years, Smith has brought to air the distinct voices of Boston area residents, whether reacting to the capture of reputed Mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger, or mourning the death of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy.

In all of her reporting, Smith aims to tell personal stories that evoke the emotion and issues of the day. She has filed countless stories on legal, social, and political controversies from the biggies like abortion to smaller-scale disputes over whether to require students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in classrooms.

With reporting that always push past the polemics, Smith advances the debate with more thoughtful, and thought-provoking, nuanced arguments from both –or all— sides. She has produced award-winning broadcasts on everything from race relations in Boston, adoption and juvenile crime, and has filed several documentary-length reports, including an award-winning half-hour special on modern-day orphanages.

Smith took a leave of absence from NPR in 1998, to launch Here and Now, a daily news magazine produced by NPR Member Station WBUR in Boston. As co-host of the program, she conducted live daily interviews on issues ranging from the impeachment of President Bill Clinton to allegations of sexual abuse in Massachusetts prisons, as well as regular features on cooking and movies.

In 1996, Smith worked as a radio consultant and journalism instructor in Africa. She spent several months teaching and reporting in Ethiopia, Guinea, and Tunisia. Smith filed her first on-air stories as a reporter for local affiliate WBUR in Boston in 1987.

Throughout her career, Smith has won more than two dozen national journalism awards including the Casey Medal, the Unity Award, a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award Honorable Mention, Ohio State Award, Radio and Television News Directors Association Award, and numerous honors from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Public Radio News Directors Association, and the Associated Press.

She is a graduate of Tufts University, with a degree in international relations.

Trump administration lawyers are defending their new rules on how campuses should handle cases of sexual assault. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued the new guidance last fall, after scrapping Obama-era rules that she said were forcing schools to violate the due process rights of the accused. But survivors' advocates filed a federal lawsuit shortly after, arguing DeVos' replacement guidelines discriminate against alleged victims and discourage them from reporting assaults.

Here's a little pop quiz.

Multiple-choice tests are useful because:

A: They're cheap to score.

B: They can be scored quickly.

C: They score without human bias.

D: All of the above.

It would take a computer about a nano-second to mark "D" as the correct answer. That's easy.

But now, machines are also grading students' essays. Computers are scoring long form answers on anything from the fall of the Roman Empire, to the pros and cons of government regulations.

They're used to rushing, tackling, and taking hits in front of 65,000 screaming spectators. But it was a whole different ball game when three New England Patriots came to a much smaller stage at a middle school in Boston's inner city this week to challenge five candidates vying to be district attorney on how they'd make the criminal justice system more fair.

"[My] nervous level is pretty high right now," conceded player Matthew Slater, as the auditorium began to fill up. Each clutching a wad of notes, his teammates Jason and Devin McCourty, seemed to feel the same way.

Updated at 11:40 a.m. ET

Boston's "Yawkey Way" will be renamed "Jersey Street."

The Boston Red Sox have won their bid to change the name of the tiny, two-block street outside Fenway Park. Team owners say the change is needed to distance themselves from a history marred by racism under the late, former owner Tom Yawkey, who was known for his philanthropy, but also for his historically racist ball club.

The Boston Public Improvement Commission voted unanimously Thursday to approve the name change.

Updated at 10:23 p.m. ET

Former first lady Barbara Bush died Tuesday at the age of 92, according to a family spokesman.

A statement issued on Sunday by the office of former President George H.W. Bush said that Bush had elected to receive "comfort care" over additional medical treatment after a series of hospitalizations.

Roseann Sdoia, who lost part of her right leg in the Boston Marathon blast five years ago, says it's still sometimes hard to comprehend how her annual outing to watch the race on that sunny Spring day changed her life forever.

"I still wake up in the morning five years later and go 'Oh my God, I don't have a leg,'" she says. "Even though I live it every day, and every day I have to put this stupid [prosthetic leg] on and lug it around ... I still have a really hard time thinking to myself what really happened."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

After last month's mass shooting a Florida high school, students around the nation have staged walk-outs, rallies and other demonstrations to advocate for stricter gun measures. In response, some school administrators have threatened to suspend students who protest, and are being criticized for cracking down too hard. At the same time, many colleges are sending the opposite message, encouraging and congratulating students' activism.

In Boston, New Mission High School junior Ariyana Jones says many students at her school have been scared off from participating.

As the nation's dairy farmers struggle through their fourth year of depressed milk prices, concerns are rising that many are becoming depressed themselves. The outlook for the next year is so bleak, it's heightening worries — especially in the Northeast — about farmer suicides.

Agri-Mark Inc., a dairy cooperative with about 1,000 members, saw three farmers take their own lives in the past three years. The most recent was last month. It's a very small sample, but very sharp and disturbing increase.

The New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady, are hoping to once again do the unheard of in this Sunday's Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles. If they win it'll be their sixth championship in 16 years.

Any teacher will tell you, class has never been the same since kids started coming to school with cellphones. Ancient Roman history will pretty much never win the day when competing with Snapchat and Instagram.

And sneaky as kids think they are, teachers know exactly what's going on when students look up with those zombie stares and constantly ask: "Can you say that again?"

When the cardinal's residence was built in the 1920s atop a hill in the leafy, most western outpost of Boston, it was modeled after an Italian palazzo. The grand mansion, replete with ornate mahogany and marble appointments, stood as a testament to the Boston Archdiocese's stature in the very Catholic city of Boston. Political candidates — local and national — would come calling, and even the pope came to visit.

Updated at 8:30 a.m. ET

Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston — once widely seen as America's most influential prelate before resigning in disgrace amid the growing clergy sexual abuse scandal — has died in Rome.

The Holy See's press office confirmed Law's death "after a long illness." He was 86.

This week marks five years since the mass shooting deaths of 20 young children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

One of those killed was 6-year-old Avielle Richman, who was shot in her first-grade classroom. Her parents, Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel, plan to spend this year's anniversary day quietly, at home with the two children they had after Avielle's death.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Along with explicit sexual education classes, some schools are beginning to offer more G-rated lessons on love. Experts say the so-called "iGen" is woefully unprepared to have healthy, caring romantic relationships and young people need more guidance. So schools are adding classes that are less about the "plumbing" of relationships, and more about the passion.

As more executives accused of sexual harassment are being ousted from companies around the nation, including NPR, many are rethinking whether human resources departments are willing or able to handle the job of fielding and investigating complaints. Many have grown skeptical, after recent news stories suggesting some HR departments knew of issues, but failed to adequately respond. Many others have lost faith in HR through experiences of their own.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

New federal guidelines for handling allegations of sexual assault are prompting a range of reactions from school administrators. While many are expressing concerns and vowing to maintain current policy, others are breathing a sigh of relief or scratching their heads in confusion.

The Trump administration is expected to address Obama-era policies cracking down on campus sexual assault. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has signaled she wants to make significant changes to how schools handle allegations, to ensure the process is fair to accused students.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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A classic David and Goliath story is playing out in Boston. A group of inner-city teens are facing off against the corporate giant that owns the Boston Bruins and their home arena, the TD Garden. NPR's Tovia Smith reports.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Signs are everywhere these days urging Americans "If you see something, say something." Now, in Boston, new posters are going up that urge residents to go a step further and intervene if they see Islamophobic harassment. From a distance, it looks like a cute cartoon, until you read the bold black headline – "What to do if you are witnessing Islamophobic harassment." Below is a giant comic strip showing a young woman watching as a burly guy grimaces at a woman in a long dress and hijab.

There's been an unprecedented spike in white supremacist activity on campuses across the U.S. since the election and college students and administrators are struggling to figure out how to respond.

Posters at the University of Texas at Arlington last month implored students to "report any and all illegal aliens. America is a white nation." Also last month, at the University of Pennsylvania flyers blared "Imagine a Muslim-free America."

Editor's note: This story contains language that may be offensive to some readers.

Hate incidents can happen anywhere: the mall, the church, the office. But, in the wake of the 2016 election, hate's been showing up a lot in school.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A late-season storm is continuing to roll across the Northeast all the way up through Maine, leaving some areas under 2 feet of snow. NPR's Tovia Smith says it's left hundreds of thousands without power, and it's crippling travel.

The Department of Homeland Security is stepping up its support for Jewish institutions across the nation who've received more than 120 bomb threats in the past two months. Jewish Community Centers have been pressing for help as they've been targeted by waves of threatening calls as well as vandalism.

Since January, the calls coming in to JCCs have been both vivid and unnerving. Betzy Lynch, executive director of the JCC in Birmingham, Ala., got three of the threatening calls, all very similar.

Editor's note: This story contains language that may be offensive to some readers.

Harassment, threats and intimidation of minorities and immigrants spiked nationwide after President Trump's election in November. Comprehensive statistics are hard to come by, but officials and watch groups say hate-motivated incidents remain higher than usual more than three months after Election Day.

Massachusetts is among the many states that have seen such a spike.

They say opposites attract. But these days, maybe not so much.

A growing number of singles are adding a clause to their online dating profiles telling either Trump haters or Trump supporters — depending on their political preference — that they need not apply.

"This was like a deal breaker for me," says 50-year-old Elizabeth Jagosz from the Detroit area. "If you are Trump supporter, I'm not even going to consider meeting you for coffee."

It's not just an issue of party politics, Jagosz says. It's about core values. Love, she says, cannot conquer all.

For decades the same test has been used to convict drunk drivers.

Police ask a driver to stand on one leg, walk a straight line and recite the alphabet. If the driver fails, the officer will testify in court to help make a case for driving under the influence.

But defense lawyers argue, science has yet to prove that flunking the standard field sobriety test actually means that a person is high, the way it's been proven to measure drunkenness.

So, as attorney Rebecca Jacobstein argued to the Massachusetts high court, the tests shouldn't be allowed in evidence.

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