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In a series called Close Listening: Decoding Nature Through Sound, Morning Edition has been profiling scientists who explore the natural world by listening to it.

But sometimes listening isn't enough — scientists have to record animals and even talk back to them to figure out what they're saying.

It's an increasingly popular move in higher education. Hundreds of schools no longer require student applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores.

In July, George Washington University became the latest school to throw its considerable weight behind the test-optional movement. Its explanation:

Morning Edition wants to hear what your part of the world sounds like when it's just waking up.

For our Close Listening: Decoding Nature Through Sound series, you sent us the sounds of birds, insects and other creatures in your backyard for experts from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to identify.

Illinois lawmakers set aside their bitter partisan bickering Wednesday to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's partial veto of bill addressing the state's heroin crisis.

The Obama administration Wednesday issued an after-action assessment of the police response to the demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., that erupted last year following the killing of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black resident of the city, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer.

Here is a pop quiz: How many trees are on the planet?

Most people have no idea.

A new study says the answer is more than 3 trillion trees — that's trillion with a T, and that number is about eight times more than a previous estimate.

It's been four months since more than 400 Baltimore businesses were damaged in riots following the death of Freddie Gray. Most — but not all — of those businesses have reopened, although some are still struggling to get back the customers they lost.

Six weeks after the April riots, the windows of Taylor Alexander's women's clothing store were still boarded up. Her shop, Flawless Damsels, was so empty inside that her voice echoed off the walls when she described what it used to look like before looters cleared her out.

Yellow Springs is a small college town in Ohio that has more than one head shop and a lot of tie-dye and hemp.

Many would consider it ground zero for likely supporters of the referendum on the ballot this November that could make Ohio the fifth state to legalize recreational and medical marijuana.

But the proposal is drawing some unusual opposition — and it's coming from residents who generally support legalizing marijuana.

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Nearly 100 pounds of gleaming, fresh-caught California yellowtail and white sea bass arrived at Chef Michael Cimarusti's Los Angeles-based restaurant Providence on Wednesday morning. But this wasn't just another ho-hum seafood delivery.

The pile of fish marks an important step toward a fundamentally different way that prominent chefs are beginning to source American seafood: the restaurant-supported fishery.

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There were protests today in Baltimore as hearings got underway in the case of six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Chanting) All night.

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By the time DeAngelo Cortijo was 14, he had been in more than a dozen foster homes. He had run away and lived on the streets for months, and he had been diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders, attachment disorder, intermittent explosive disorder or posttraumatic stress disorder. He had been in and out of mental hospitals and heavily medicated.

Cortijo, who was born in San Francisco, was taken from his mother after she attempted suicide when he was 3.

A recent outbreak of Salmonella in frozen tuna might have sushi lovers wondering if it's safe to eat that raw fish.

The outbreak in question began in California in March. All told, it sickened 65 people in 11 states. There were 35 cases in California, with another 18 in Arizona and New Mexico. The rest of the cases were scattered across the country, including four in Minnesota.

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More adults across the country are strapping on helmets and hopping on bikes to get to work. That's good news for people's hearts and waistlines, but it also means more visits to the emergency room.

Hospital admissions because of bike injuries more than doubled between 1998 and 2013, doctors reported Tuesday in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. And the rise was the biggest with bikers ages 45 and over.

Kentucky's Gov. Steve Beshear says he's powerless to stop Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis from refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — something she has done for consecutive days, flouting rulings from federal courts that include the Supreme Court and prompting a motion to hold her in contempt of court.

Carly Fiorina was relegated to the JV squad in the Fox News GOP presidential debate in August, but her strong performance that night helped her race past several of her peers in recent polls.

That surge in polling wasn't enough to get her into the next big debate — but it might be now.

That's because CNN Tuesday afternoon changed its criteria for who will get into its main Sept. 16 debate in such a way that Fiorina is much more likely to be included.

Both the Nasdaq and the Dow Jones index were hit by losses Tuesday, as concerns again rose about China's economy. The Dow is now down nearly 10 percent in 2015, after falling 469 points Tuesday to close at 16,058.

Markets in Europe and Asia also suffered, after renewed worries about a slowdown in China, the world's second-largest economy.

"The latest evidence is China's purchasing manager's index," NPR's John Ydstie reports, "which shows the country's manufacturing sector contracting."

The largest fish farm in America could be built 4 miles off San Diego's coast.

Rose Canyon Fisheries could have a footprint on the ocean floor of 1.3 square miles, about the same size as New York's Central Park. The goal is to produce 11 million pounds of yellowtail and sea bass each year.

More than a month after his trial on murder charges ended in a mistrial for the second time, former Eutawville, S.C., police Chief Richard Combs has been sentenced to a year of home detention. Combs agreed to plead guilty to misconduct in office Tuesday.

Combs, who is white, was the head of the police department in the small town of Eutawville back in May 2011, when he shot and killed 54-year-old Bernard Bailey, who was black, as Bailey tried to drive away from the Eutawville Police Department.

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During his trip to Alaska, President Obama has been calling on Congress to speed up funding for the construction of icebreakers. The president says the U.S. doesn't have enough of them. NPR's Jim Zarroli explains.

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Katherine Franke is a law professor at Columbia University where she heads the Public Rights/Private Conscience Project. And she joins us from New York to talk about this some more. Welcome to the program.

Take a trip to The Mob Museum in Las Vegas and you'll find exhibits on gangsters, corruption, killers, crime bosses, drug traffickers — and, now, the international governing body of soccer.

Tuesday, the much maligned FIFA Congress finds itself alongside the likes of the Mafia and drug cartels, thanks to the opening of a new, temporary exhibit called "The 'Beautiful Game' Turns Ugly."

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A couple of years ago on April Fools' Day, Google announced a feature it called Google Nose, a searchable database of smell. Brenda Salinas reports on new research showing that prank might not be such a dumb idea.

In her third year of medical school, Karen Duong found herself on the other side of Texas. She had driven 12 hours north from where she grew up on the Gulf Coast to a panhandle town called Hereford.

"Hereford is known for being the beef capital of the world," she says, laughing. "There's definitely more cows than people out there."

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