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The January 11 'MHP' Syllabus

The Chris Christie bridge scandal, what two D.C. rappers were doing in North Korea, a different kind of political science, and much more -- Saturday at 10am ET!
Melissa Harris Perry MHP The Syllabus
Melissa Harris Perry MHP The Syllabus

This week, we watched as a local story on some unusual traffic turned into a full-blown political scandal. Back in September, when lane closings from Fort Lee onto the George Washington Bridge caused major gridlock, the explanation from Port Authority was that a "traffic study" was being conducted. But as we learned this week, the full explanation appears far from that simple.

On Saturday’s Melissa Harris-Perry, we will bring you the latest details surrounding the bridge story and what it could mean for Gov. Christie’s political future.

From the demographic changes amongst voters to growing partisan divide among state governments, we’ve talked a lot about the ever shifting makeup of American politics. This week, we are focusing on one group that is growing at a historic rate. According to a new Gallup poll, a record breaking 42% of Americans now identify as Independents while only 31% consider themselves Democrats, and 25% identify as Republican.

But are these individuals truly Independents? Or are they partisans in disguise? We’ll have more on that topic on Saturday's MHP.

If you weren’t around in 1959 to hear the first utterance of the term “Polar Vortex,” this week, you definitely became well acquainted with the meteorological term. While Americans hunkered down as the temperature plummeted, Rush Limbaugh took to his microphone to blast the media for inventing the term as a ploy to tie the Artic freeze to global warming. (NBC’s Al Roker was none too pleased and promptly dismissed Limbaugh’s claims via Twitter.) But aside from inciting political debate, Limbaugh’s claim brings up an interesting point about how science can help to impact political policy.

On Saturday, as we mark the 50th anniversary of the “Smoking and Health” report by Surgeon General Luther Terry, host Melissa Harris-Perry and her panel will highlight a few of the political movements that have been tied to science.

There was interesting cultural news out of North Korea this week and no, it had nothing to do with Dennis Rodman. Instead, it had everything to do with hip-hop. Pacman and Peso, two rappers from Washington D.C., used Kickstarter to raise funds to go to North Korea on a tourist trip and while they were there, they managed to covertly record a hip-hop video. Why? The two were aiming to critique both the totalitarian regime in North Korea as well as certain polices in the US. And while Pacman and Peso were busy proving the powerful influence of hip-hop, audio emerged this week of a U.S. Senate candidate claiming hip-hop has no redeeming value. Tune in on Saturday for a complete discussion on the political history of hip-hop and its important role in public discourse.

Be sure to read what we’ve linked above, and watch Melissa Harris-Perry Saturday at 10 a.m. EST on MSNBC! Also, don’t forget to join us on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #nerdland.