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Out Of The Classroom And Into The Woods

May 26, 2015

Kids in the U.S. are spending less time outside. Even in kindergarten, recess is being cut back. But in the small town of Quechee, Vt., a teacher is bucking that trend: One day a week, she takes her students outside — for the entire school day.

It's called Forest Monday.

Eliza Minnucci got the idea after watching a documentary about a forest school in Switzerland where kids spend all day, every day, out in the woods.

Documentary photographer Dorothea Lange had a favorite saying: "A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera."

And perhaps no one did more to reveal the human toll of the Great Depression than Lange, who was born on this day in 1895. Her photographs gave us an unflinching — but also deeply humanizing — look at the struggles of displaced farmers, migrant laborers, sharecroppers and others at the bottom of the American farm economy as it reeled through the 1930s.

At least 2,500 years ago, tea, as we know it, was born.

Back then, it was a medicinal concoction blended with herbs, seeds and forest leaves in the mountains of southwest China. Gradually, as manners of processing and drinking tea were refined, it became imbued with artistic, religious, and cultural notes. Under the Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907), the apogee of ancient Chinese prosperity, the drink involved ritual, etiquette and specific utensils. During this period of splendor, the first book dedicated solely to tea was written by Lu Yü.

The IRS says criminals gained access to the accounts of more than 100,000 taxpayers through its online service Get Transcript. The data stolen included taxpayers' Social Security information, when they were born and their street addresses.

At a news conference, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said criminals made about 200,000 attempts to access tax information; 100,000 of those attempts, made from February to mid-May, were successful.

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An unidentified New Jersey man died after returning home from West Africa, where he had contracted Lassa fever, a virus that has symptoms similar to those of Ebola. Federal health officials are treating the case with caution because the virus, which commonly is spread by rodents, can occasionally spread from person to person.

Presidential candidates are doing what they have to do at this point in the campaign season — they're raising money and strutting their biographies and electoral viability to voters. We haven't heard much yet about policy papers or what they would actually do if they win. But those policy issues will matter — as the campaign picks up steam and especially once the next president steps into the Oval Office on Day 1.

Ignatius Agon practices his greeting: "OK, good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Ignatius and I am going to guide you into the dark."

It's Monday, and the first day of training for a new restaurant opening this month in Kenya. Diners will be served in the dark. They'll have to find their food with their forks and eat it in a pitch black room.

And the waiters are blind.

Mary Ellen Mark, the influential photographer known mostly for her humanist work, has died. She was 75.

Mark died Monday, a representative said Tuesday. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that she died in New York.

Mark's work appeared in Life, New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. Her photo essay on runaway children in Seattle became the basis of Streetwise, an Academy Award-nominated film that was directed by her husband, Martin Bell.

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