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Birthplace of MLK looks forward after 'endangered' designation
At Wheat Street Gardens farmers see a connection between their work and the work of Auburn Avenue's most famous residents.
August 10th, 2012
01:05 PM ET

Birthplace of MLK looks forward after 'endangered' designation

By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN

(CNN) - Atlanta's Auburn Avenue, the street which gave the world Martin Luther King Jr. is endangered. That's according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The group is concerned about a lack of commercial development along the historic Auburn Avenue corridor in downtown Atlanta.

This designation is the second for Auburn Avenue. It drew curiosity and questions from business owners along the street itself. Windsor Jones opened a bakery here five years ago in large part because of the historical nature of the neighborhood:

[4:55] "You definitely lose a sense of what the town was built on because Auburn Avenue was the richest black street in America. So for it to be on the endangered list, it's kind of sad because I mean less than 60 years ago it was thriving."

People along the street also worry that history might get in the way of sorely needed development.  Eugene Cook, for one, has incorporated history into his farming work:

[5:40] "Humans, every human, definitely deserves to eat good food so it is absolutely in that lineage of human rights issues."

Cook now works a few acres right in the middle of the district, known as Wheat Street Gardens. He trains new farmers and tends to organic produce. All of it, he says, is following the work done in service of social justice and human rights.

It's one small project in an area that preservationists say needs many more to avoid losing precious buildings and the history that lives inside their walls.

Mary Alex Romero and Caleigh Derreberry contributed to this report.

August 10th, 2012
10:00 AM ET

Vice Presidents: Historical do-nothings

By Tommy Andres, CNN

(CNN) - The job of vice president of the United States was once a consolation prize. It was literally given to the runner-up in the presidential election.

That led to some strange political bedfellows and laid the foundation for a job full of handshake photo ops and thumb twiddling.

John Adams, the very first vice president of the U.S., had some pointed words for the position:

[0:58] “I am vice president, and in that I am nothing.”

But despite the minimal power the office holds, the choice of a running mate can make or break a presidential campaign. And once elected, a president's poor veep choice can weigh heavily on an administration's reputation.

Take Martin Van Buren for example. He chose war hero Richard M. Johnson to be his number two. Historian Bill Kelter is author of the book, “Veeps: Profiles in Insignificance.” Kelter says it quickly became apparent that Van Buren's choice was a bad one:

[4:08] “The doorkeeper of the U.S. Senate called Johnson the most vulgar man of all vulgar men in this world. One of his slaves, Julia Chinn, was his common-law wife before she finally died in the cholera epidemic. After her death, he took up with another slave but she ran off with another man, so to punish her he had her caught, sold her at auction and then took up with her sister.”

Van Buren disliked Johnson so much that his taste for vice presidents soured all together. He ran for re-election without a running mate and lost.

So Mitt Romney better choose wisely. Because, while his political cohort may be little more than a last name on a bumper sticker, that lucky person could ultimately join a long line of historical gaffers, do-nothings, and even, some scoundrels.

Why the hottest days of summer are the "dog days"
The term "dog days" has a celestial origin.
August 10th, 2012
08:31 AM ET

Why the hottest days of summer are the "dog days"

By Jim Roope, CNN

(CNN) – The hottest days of the summer in the Northern hemisphere are commonly called the "dog days."

It turns out the name has nothing to do with man's best friend.

It comes from the star Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. Sirius is also called “the dog star” because it is found in the constellation, Canis Major, or “the greater dog.”

Dr. Ann Marie Cody, Astronomer with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, said this time of year, Sirius is situated in the sky very close to the sun.

[1:40] “The Romans and other ancient people knew this and they understood that when the sweltering summer heat set in, Sirius was right up there next to the sun even though it was not visible,” said Cody. “They concluded that the presence of this bright star was actually contributing heat and all the associated summertime misery to the Earth.”

But now we understand that it's the tilt of the Earth on its axis, the angle of the light rays and the duration of daytime that makes the difference in heating, not the “dog star.” That still doesn’t stop us from using the “dog days” as an excuse to escape.

Some take last minute trips to cooler spots like the beach. Some take time off from work to relax and stay out of the heat. And for others, because so many school districts are starting earlier, these hot, sticky days mark the end of their summer.

[2:57] “In August you’re school-supply buying, going to the dentist, get your check up, filling out this form, football practice. It’s no longer summer vacation,” said Celina Simic, a mother of four with kids spread from kindergarten to high school.

How do you spend the "dog days" of summer?  Let us know in the comment section below.

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