TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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October 18, 2019
College athletes have been banned from earning money from their sports, but a new law in California will change that. Starting in 2023, college players in California will be allowed to endorse products and sign sponsorship deals. Supporters say that the law will finally give skilled college athletes who bring in millions of dollars for their universities an opportunity to profit themselves. Opponents argue the new law will ruin college athletics by making them more like professional sports. Listen to hear from people on both sides of the issue and then debate: Should college athletes profit from playing sports?
October 17, 2019
Mosquitoes are biting insects that can bother people at summer barbecues, but they have also played an important role in human history. One historian says that mosquitoes have been critical in changing the course of history, primarily by spreading deadly diseases that have killed billions of people. He explains how new genetic tools might be used to eliminate the threat to humans posed by these dangerous insects, which offer no clear ecological benefits. Listen to hear the surprising ways that mosquitoes have influenced history and how mosquito populations could potentially be controlled.
October 16, 2019
Low-income urban neighborhoods are often hotter than wealthier neighborhoods in the same city. This is problematic, especially during heat waves, when residents’ health and even their lives could be at risk. One of the reasons poorer areas get hotter is because they tend to have fewer trees. Listen to learn how trees keep communities cool and why they are more prevalent in some neighborhoods than others.
October 15, 2019
“National Hispanic Heritage Month” (9/15 – 10/15) is a time to celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of Americans with origins in countries once under Spanish influence. The term “Hispanic” was added to the U.S. census to identify members of a diverse group of people with common interests. However, some people feel the term is problematic because of its connection to Spanish colonialism. Many prefer the term “Latino,” while others like to be identified by their national heritage. Listen to hear a journalist explain various preferences for naming ethnic identity and what they mean to people.
October 14, 2019
The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to impeach a president considered unfit for office. First, the House of Representatives investigates whether the president has committed a crime and votes on articles of impeachment, and then the Senate holds a trial and votes on whether to remove the president from office. The current impeachment inquiry investigating President Trump is taking place in a strongly divided country. Listen to an expert explain what today’s Congress can learn from the past, and why no president facing impeachment has ever been removed from office.
October 11, 2019
Congress is debating whether and how to compensate the descendants of African-American slaves. Some argue that reparations, which means money paid to those who have been wronged, would fairly compensate African-Americans for the crimes committed against their ancestors. Others believe that the past is past, and that today’s citizens should not be required to pay for actions that did not involve them. Listen to hear a congressional representative explain how the legacy of slavery continues to impact black communities today and how the government might invest in addressing ongoing issues, and then debate: Should Congress consider reparations for slavery?
October 10, 2019
Vaping has been linked to illness and even some deaths, and critics are arguing that ads targeting young people contribute to this growing public health problem. Vaping advertisers are looking to successful cigarette ads of the past to help them attract new users. They emphasize flavored varieties that appeal to young people and promote vaping as a healthy alternative to smoking. Listen to hear how vaping companies are working with advertisers to skirt regulations and craft ads that attract teens to the risky practice of vaping.
October 9, 2019
Would you be willing to wade into swamp water filled with bloodsucking worms? That is exactly what scientists did in order to learn more about leeches. Their efforts paid off when they discovered a brand new species of leech. Listen to hear how this recently discovered parasite uses its three jaws and why it is called a “medicinal” leech.
October 8, 2019
Hurricane Dorian, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the Atlantic, destroyed people’s homes in the Bahamas and sent thousands of islanders fleeing to Florida for refuge. The refugees are facing many challenges, such as gaining entry to the U.S. without proper documents, finding schools for their children, and supporting themselves. Listen to learn how some Bahamians are coping with the effects of a devastating hurricane and what they are doing to move forward with their lives in a new country.
October 7, 2019
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s leader for almost 30 years, died at age 95. In his early career, Mugabe was beloved by his own people and the international community for his stands on democracy and racial justice and against corruption. But as his power grew, Mugabe ruled with an increasingly iron fist. Listen to learn about this autocratic leader’s legacy of reform and repression, and how his countrymen ultimately forced him from power.
October 4, 2019
Cycling deaths are on the rise throughout the country. As more cyclists take to roads already crowded with cars, accidents are increasing. One cause may be older urban streets designed for horses, not cars and bicycles. The attitude of drivers unwilling to share the road with cyclists could also be to blame. In some states, laws that increase penalties for drivers who hit cyclists are under consideration. Listen to hear experts describe the upward trend in cycling deaths and how the problem might be addressed, and then debate: Should more be done to keep cyclists safe?
October 3, 2019
College students overwhelmed by challenging assignments and deadlines are turning to a growing industry for help: essay writing companies. These companies produce original papers written by ghostwriters that students buy and submit as their own. Colleges are trying new technologies to prevent cheating and also working to change campus culture. Listen to hear students, teachers and experts discuss the problem of cheating on college campuses and how to combat it.
October 2, 2019
Have you ever wondered what chirping birds might be saying to each other? Squirrels seem to understand communications between their feathered neighbors, and they use this information to help them stay alive. Recently, scientists decided to see just how much information “eavesdropping” squirrels gather from birds. Listen to discover what they learned and how these animals’ networks operate “almost like Facebook.”
October 1, 2019
Frustrated by the slow pace of progress on addressing climate change, millions of young people around the world recently skipped school and took to the streets in protest. The strike came days before the U.N. Climate Action Summit, and protesters of all ages joined the students with signs demanding that their governments take urgent action. Listen to hear more about these worldwide strikes and what the marchers hoped to accomplish.
September 30, 2019
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced her support for a presidential impeachment inquiry by the U.S. Congress in response to a report suggesting that President Trump may have pressured the Ukranian president to investigate his political rival, presidential candidate Joe Biden. The “whistleblower complaint” alleges that financial aid may have been withheld from the Ukraine pending cooperation of its leadership with the U.S. president’s request. The U.S. Constitution empowers the Congress to charge the president with “high crimes and misdemeanors,” a process known as impeachment, as a check on executive power. Listen to hear what led to this important development and what is expected to happen next.
September 27, 2019
In response to the recent epidemic of opioid deaths, many states have filed lawsuits seeking millions – even billions – of dollars from drug companies. They say the companies misled the public about the dangers of opioids and ignored the problem of misuse. The companies say they are not responsible for how people used their product. A recent settlement awarded the state money to help pay for addiction treatment. Listen to hear more about penalties against drug companies and then debate: Should drug companies pay for opioid addiction treatment?
September 26, 2019
Many teens care about what is happening in the world, but they typically hear news from an adult perspective. One California teen is changing that. Fifteen-year-old Olivia Seltzer publishes a daily newsletter in her own voice, targeting issues important to youth. She brings in diverse viewpoints through an editorial team comprising teens from around the world. Listen to hear why one young person gets up at very early every morning to offer her generation an alternative to mainstream news media.
September 25, 2019
Recent weather has led to an increase in snake populations across the United States. Given this trend, it is important to understand how to avoid being bitten by these animals and what to do if the worst case scenario does occur. Listen to hear insights from a biologist and an emergency room doctor about how to avoid snake bites and how to handle them if necessary.
September 24, 2019
How much is a pair of sneakers worth? Shoe enthusiasts from around the country recently gathered in Washington, D.C. to settle that question at Sneaker Con, a marketplace for buying and selling sneakers. Thousands of “sneakerheads” lined up for a chance to get in on the action, much of which took place in the trading pit where negotiators haggled with each other to reach a deal. Listen to hear visitors and vendors explaining the appeal of sneaker culture and what drew them to the marketplace.
September 23, 2019
The Arctic may seem like an unlikely place for fires, but every year wildfires burn millions of acres of forest in Alaska, northern Canada, and Siberia. This century, the blazes have grown bigger, hotter, and more frequent, causing health problems for local residents and releasing harmful greenhouse gases into the environment. Listen to hear a climate scientist describe the effects of wildfires in the Arctic and how the global community can respond.
September 20, 2019
In response to mass shootings, many schools are turning to new technologies to help keep their campuses safe. There are a variety of systems that can monitor students’ communication and behavior and detect indicators of potential violence. However, some argue that these technologies violate students’ privacy rights and civil liberties. Listen to learn more about this complex issue and then debate: Should student communication be monitored?
September 19, 2019
Some school districts are exploring a new approach to saving money and improving educational outcomes: 4-day school weeks. Both urban and rural school districts throughout Colorado are trying out 4-day school weeks and observing how the change is impacting budgets, teacher retention, and student achievement. Listen to learn about the logic behind the 4-day school week and how this schedule has affected Colorado schools so far.
September 18, 2019
People have noticed more fireflies, or “lightning bugs,” than usual in Chicago this summer. In this story, a scientist who has been studying these insects explains why he thinks fireflies are currently thriving in the area, what this might mean for local ecosystems, and what can be done to help cultivate the firefly population. Listen to learn more about these popular summer insects and how they “light the way” in the ecosystems where they live.
September 17, 2019
President Trump recently tweeted that some Congressional representatives should “go back” to “the places from which they came.” These comments sounded familiar to many Americans, who have had others tell them to “go home,” though they were born in the United States. Listen to hear stories of Americans who have been told to “go back” and learn how such remarks have affected them.
September 16, 2019
India and Pakistan have been arguing for decades over control of the Muslim-majority Himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir. Since 1947, the state has officially been a part of India with special status. However, recently, the Prime Minister of India took this special status away by presidential decree. Many Muslim Kashmiris are very upset about this decision and how it was made, but others consider it a positive development. Listen to learn more about the conflict surrounding this change.
September 13, 2019
Congress recently held a hearing to consider how technology companies might be endangering the news industry and threatening democracy. Some newspaper publishers argue that online platforms like Google and Facebook unfairly threaten their existence and are controlling public access to information. Some technology executives say this is not the case, suggesting that the news media are not keeping up with innovative competition. In order to resolve this issue, lawmakers have proposed a bill with bipartisan support. Listen to learn more and then debate: Are online platforms threatening democracy?
September 12, 2019
Dr. Ayaz Virji moved to Dawson, Minnesota to help fill a need for doctors in rural America. At first, all was well, but during the 2016 election, the climate began to shift. As a Muslim, he no longer felt as welcome in Dawson, and he regularly faced discrimination. Virji decided to take action to help his community and others like it better understand and tolerate his faith and has since written a book about his experiences. Listen to hear Dr. Virji’s story and learn about his plans for the future.
September 11, 2019
When a vacant lot in Sacramento was up for sale, one neighbor had an idea for what it could become. She envisioned an urban farm, so she bought the lot and invited a local nonprofit group to help turn it into an “edible art garden” after gathering input from other community members. Listen to learn what this once bare lot looks like today and how it benefits the neighborhood surrounding it.
September 10, 2019
Southern California recently experienced several large earthquakes. Fortunately, the damage caused by these events was minimal, and mostly confined to the desert, where fewer people live and work. However, some experts are concerned about what might happen if a severe earthquake occurred in urban Los Angeles, for example, where the potential damage to infrastructure could cause major problems. Listen to learn how Californians should prepare for a future major earthquake.
September 9, 2019
Fires are raging in the Amazon rainforest at an unusually high rate. The flames are destroying hundreds of acres of forest, killing wildlife, and spreading smoke across thousands of miles. Scientists are concerned that, since trees take in carbon dioxide from the air, the loss of so much forest could speed up climate change. Some environmentalists argue that this is a man-made disaster, caused by intentional deforestation. Listen to learn more about the enormous scale of the fires burning in the Amazon rainforest and the ongoing debate about who is responsible.
September 6, 2019
FaceApp allows people to modify photos to change their appearances, trying out different hairstyles or even seeing what they may look like decades from now. While the app is fun and silly, some political leaders have warned against using it due to privacy issues related to its facial recognition capabilities. However, a technology writer argues that FaceApp is no more dangerous than many other social media applications. Listen to learn more and then debate: Should facial recognition apps cause concern?
September 5, 2019
Renewable energy sources like solar power can help protect the environment and lower people’s electricity bills. Unfortunately, not everyone is benefitting equally from alternative energy sources and the technologies that harness them. One African-American solar technology professional is trying to reverse this trend. Listen to learn how he is bringing renewable energy to communities of color in Nashville and why this goal is so important to him.
September 4, 2019
In order to prevent the California condor from going extinct, conservationists created a captive breeding program for the unique bird species. In the 1980s, they began gathering all the remaining California condors, breeding them, and releasing their offspring into the wild. Listen to learn more about “chick number 1000” and find out why one scientist thinks California condors are among the most remarkable birds in the world.
September 3, 2019
Women make up 14% of the U.S. military. In an effort to interest more girls in the military and national security, the non-profit group Girl Security invited a group of young women to play a “war game.” In this exercise, the girls had to role-play two sides in a difficult and complex military conflict. Listen to learn how they played the game and how the experience affected them.
August 30, 2019
It’s been 50 years since man first walked on the moon. Now, decades later, NASA is working on sending a manned spacecraft back to the moon. This time, however, the trip to the moon is part of a larger plan: getting man to Mars. However, NASA will need bipartisan political support to make their goals a reality, and some have dismissed this mission as unnecessary. Listen to learn how and why NASA plans to send astronauts to the moon and beyond and then debate: Should we send astronauts to the moon again?
August 29, 2019
Last winter, when the U.S. government shut down for 34 days, hundreds of thousands of workers were furloughed. This meant that these employees were suspended from work and did not receive their regular paychecks. In order to deal with this difficult circumstance, two sisters decided to start their own business making cheesecakes. Listen to learn how they made enough money to get through the holidays and create a successful new business.
August 28, 2019
Many decades ago, children from poor families participated in an early childhood educational program known as the Perry Preschool Project aimed at improving the children’s academic achievement. While the program did not have the effect that the researchers anticipated, it did have a positive impact on their lives and on future generations. Listen to learn about the long-term effects of the Perry Preschool Project and how this study may shift the way we prepare students for success.
August 27, 2019
The Gaza Strip is a Palestinian territory that shares a border with Egypt. In the ongoing conflict between Israel and the the militant Palestinian organization Hamas, this region has been subjected to many attacks, blockades, and power struggles. With the economy suffering and violence escalating, many people who live in Gaza want to leave. Listen to hear stories of people who have decided to leave their home and learn how the departure of so many is affecting Gaza.
August 26, 2019
A man recently shot and killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Just before he committed this terrorist act, he posted a manifesto describing his motivations in an online forum called 8chan. Two other mass shooters also published their intentions on 8chan before their attacks this year. Listen to learn more about the role digital technology can play in extremist violence and the consequences 8chan has faced since the El Paso shooting.
August 23, 2019
Should some animals be considered “persons”? One lawyer is working to classify certain animals as “persons” so they can be protected under the law. Specifically, the lawyer wants to send three elephants from the “Big E” fair in New England to a sanctuary, where they will no longer have to give rides to customers. The fair owner disagrees and wants to keep the animals. Listen to hear the arguments on both sides of this complex animal rights issue and then debate: Should elephants be considered property?