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Current Events

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June 24, 2019

4:17

Red sun sadness

Life and Death Across the Geologic Ages

About 250 million years ago, there was a widespread extinction on earth. Scientific investigations into the climate conditions leading to this prehistoric “Great Dying” can shed light on how climate change in the modern world might impact life on the planet. The “Deep Time” exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History explores the state of the earth and its inhabitants in that era. Listen to hear about how the “Great Dying” happened and why it is relevant today.

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June 19, 2019

3:03

A cup of coffee and some rumors

The Benefits of Gossip

According to a new study, talking about other people who are not present, commonly known as gossip, may not be all bad. Researchers studied gossip by recording and listening in on participants’ conversations. Listen to hear what these eavesdropping scientists discovered and learn about some potential benefits of gossip.

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June 17, 2019

3:47

Grad caps

Valedictorian Speech Causes Controversy

While giving her valedictorian speech at her graduation, a Texas high school student was cut off before finishing. School administrators had asked the student to remove what they believed were controversial elements in her speech, but she chose not to do that. Listen to hear more about what the student felt was important to include in her speech, despite the school’s objections, and why.

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June 14, 2019

3:49

Capitol building cops

Debate: Should public protests be restricted?

The National Park Service has proposed new rules for protests on park property. The proposed rules would limit the amount of available protest space and require protesters to pay fees to hold a protest. Many people have expressed opposition to these rules, arguing that they would limit the freedom of speech that is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Listen to hear more about why the rules were proposed and why people are concerned about them, and then debate: Should public protests be restricted?

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June 13, 2019

4:51

Vr movie eeg

Computer-Assisted Telepathy

Being able to communicate with someone using only mind power is the stuff of science fiction, but it might not be so far off in the future. At the University of Washington, scientists have developed a system that supports a very basic form of computer-assisted telepathy, or thought-based communication. While this technology has many potential positive uses, there are some serious possible risks to consider. Listen to hear how the technology works and what it might mean for the future.

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June 12, 2019

3:30

Youth fight for climate change

Students Protest Climate Change

Students around the world have been skipping school to protest their governments’ lack of action on climate change. Now, this movement has come to the United States. American students are gathering together to demand that Congress take action to protect them from the effects of climate change. Listen to find out more about what students are asking of their government leaders and why.

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June 11, 2019

6:36

Pink razors for women

Podcast Winners Take on Taboo Topic

The middle school winners of this year’s NPR Podcast Challenge chose a topic that few of their classmates or teachers felt comfortable discussing. This group of girls from a school in the Bronx,New York chose to focus their podcast on menstruation and periods. They investigated the stigma of talking about periods and associated feminine hygiene products and discussed changes they would like to see. Listen to hear more about the team’s winning podcast and why they decided to take on the taboo topic of periods.

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June 10, 2019

3:36

Flooding in arkansas

Flooding and Tariffs Concern Farmers

Midwestern states are experiencing extreme flooding caused by excessive rain, which is interfering with planting seasons for farmers. In addition, the ongoing trade war with China has caused agricultural exports to fall. The government has offered a financial relief package for farmers affected by the trade war, but recent news about a possible trade dispute with Mexico is adding to farmers’ worries. Listen to hear about how the recent flooding and trade wars are affecting midwestern farmers.

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June 7, 2019

3:00

No smoking sign

Debate: Is Reducing Smoking Worth Increasing Nicotine Addiction?

Researchers from the United Kingdom now have scientific evidence that using e-cigarettes is significantly more effective for quitting smoking than other methods. However, U.S. public health officials worry that promoting e-cigarettes could increase nicotine addiction. Listen to this story to hear about the research study findings and debate: Is reducing smoking worth increasing nicotine addiction?

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June 6, 2019

3:54

Two baseball dudettes

Women in the Baseball Hall of Fame

The Women in Baseball section of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY has recently acquired some new members. Corrine Mullane and her daughter Molly Mullane-Cavagnaro are the first ever mother-daughter duo enshrined in the library. The women are honored in the Hall of Fame because of their continued service as “Ball Dudettes” for the San Francisco Giants. Listen to hear about how Corrine got started and how the mother-daughter duo made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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June 5, 2019

4:39

Rodney robinson solo shot

Teacher of the Year Teaches Inmates

The most recent recipient of the National Teacher of the Year award does not teach in a typical public school classroom. Rodney Robinson works in a juvenile jail with students of many ages and skill levels, and he is dedicated to helping his students learn and succeed. Listen to hear how this National Teacher of the Year supports his students’ learning and what he thinks needs to change about the American public school system.

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June 4, 2019

3:36

Bumblebee

Preventing Mass Extinction

Up to one million species of flora and fauna are at risk of extinction, according to a new U.N. report on biodiversity. While the findings from this research are alarming, climate scientists believe that there are still a variety of actions that citizens and politicians can take to try to prevent this impending disaster. Listen to hear about this global crisis and what people can do to help make the situation better.

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June 3, 2019

5:58

Effects of tariffs farmer

The Effects of Tariffs

The trade war between China and the United States continues with the Chinese government imposing more tariffs on U.S. imports. While the two nations are arguing about business practices and intellectual property, it is mostly individuals who are feeling the consequences of the trade dispute, which seems far from resolution. Listen to hear more about how U.S. residents are feeling the effects of the trade war between the global superpowers and what could come next.

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May 31, 2019

5:35

1500 m race

Debate: Should high testosterone disqualify female athletes?

Caster Semenya, who has dominated in the 800-meter dash for the last few years has received difficult news about her career. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has decided that women like her with naturally high levels of testosterone cannot compete in certain track and field events unless they medically reduce those levels. Listen to the story to hear more about this case and debate: Should naturally high levels of testosterone disqualify female athletes?

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May 30, 2019

5:27

Yoga session

Beating Stress and Burnout

Everyone feels stress, which can have a significant impact on health. A new book explains how and why stress affects the body and describes what people can do to lower the negative effects of stress on their health. Listen to this interview with the authors to learn about the evolutionary value of stress and how to keep it from causing burnout in today’s modern world.

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May 29, 2019

2:32

Pyrenees

Plastic in the Air

The air thousands of feet high in France’s Pyrenees Mountains should be some of the cleanest on Earth. However, recent research revealed that the air at the top of the mountains actually contains microscopic plastic. Listen to learn more about the experiment that revealed this surprising fact, why it matters, and what researchers plan to investigate next.

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May 28, 2019

4:39

Guaido  pompeo  and pence

Unrest in Venezuela

Venezuela has been in turmoil for years, with a growing economic crisis causing dire conditions for many citizens who are trying to survive. Shortages of food, medicine, and other supplies have made life difficult for many people. Recently, opposition leader Juan Guaido, called for a military and popular uprising to challenge President Nicolas Maduro, who refuses to give up power. Guaido is supported by the U.S. and 50 other nations as the legitimate interim president of Venezuela. Listen to this story to learn more about the political and economic upheaval in Venezuela and how it is affecting people’s lives.

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May 24, 2019

3:25

Oscars statuettes

Debate: Should streaming-only movies be eligible for Oscars?

What defines a movie? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents Oscar awards for movies that have been released in theaters before being distributed on demand. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have been producing original movies, and they want those movies to be eligible for Oscars, too. Some Academy filmmakers believe that such movies should not be eligible for Oscars. Listen to this story about the changing movie industry and debate: Should streaming-only movies be eligible for Oscars?

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May 23, 2019

3:31

Ramadan iftar

Ramadan Begins

The holy month of Ramadan has begun. This means that Muslims around the world will be having breakfast before the sun has risen and waiting to have dinner until after the sun has set. While this traditional practice of fasting has been going on for centuries, the global context surrounding it has changed. Listen to hear more about how Muslims celebrate Ramadan and how their experiences are affected by what is happening in the world today.

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May 22, 2019

4:33

House burning test

Burning Down a House to Test Fire Safety

A new natural disaster lab uses extreme methods to test which building materials are safest to withstand major storms and wildfires. Listen to find out why insurance companies want to invest millions of dollars in this lab and why climate change makes the lab’s experiments more important than ever before.

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May 21, 2019

6:01

Iss

Earth Calling Space

The job of an astronaut on the International Space Station is demanding, and those interested in the job must have many skills and qualifications. Astronauts must be prepared for spacewalks, science experiments, station maintenance, and many other tasks. Like any job, being an astronaut has its own special quirks and challenges. Listen to hear from some astronauts on the International Space Station about their experiences orbiting the earth for science.

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May 20, 2019

3:58

Yellow vest protest

Yellow Vest Protests Continue

Since November, a group of French citizens known as the “yellow vests” have been protesting economic inequality across France. They are called “yellow vests” because they wear yellow safety vests to create roadblocks and draw attention to their protests. After the recent fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, conflict escalated around the yellow vest demonstrations in the streets of Paris. Listen to this story to learn more about why the yellow vest protestors are angry and how the country is responding to them.

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May 17, 2019

3/29/2019

Tower of babel

Debate: Is encouraging people to speak only English unAmerican?

Opinions vary about the importance of speaking English in the U.S. Some people believe that it is unAmerican to speak languages other than English, while others believe that speaking multiple languages reflects the essence of what it means to be American. Listen to hear the opinion of one bilingual woman and her response to those with different perspectives. Then debate: Is encouraging people to speak only English unAmerican?

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May 16, 2019

5:43

Women baseball uniforms

Girls in Baseball

Baseball is arguably the oldest professional sport in the U.S. Though the sport has been around for a while, women have never played baseball in the major leagues. Advocates for girls in baseball say there is no inherent reason why women should not play baseball, but rather that societal norms are behind their absence at the highest level of the game. Listen to this story to learn about Jackie Mitchell, the woman who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, and to hear about the prospects for girls in baseball.

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May 15, 2019

2:53

Santa elena canyon

4th Grader Proposes Free Park Entry

A fourth-grader in Texas had an idea to help kids put down their digital devices and have some fun outdoors. She partnered with a state representative to write a bill that would make state parks free to fifth-graders and their families. Listen to find out more about the case the student made to state legislators and next steps in making her idea a reality.

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May 14, 2019

3:49

Khartoum in the shadow of itself

Coup in Sudan

A recent military coup d’etat in the African nation of Sudan removed Omar al-Bashir from the presidency following months of anti-government protests. Al-Bashir claimed power in 1989 through another military coup, and his totalitarian regime carried out decades of violence. While protestors celebrated the removal of al-Bashir, they continue to actively demand a transition from military to civilian leadership. Listen to this story to learn more about the history of conflict in Sudan, the military takeover, and the people’s vision for the future.

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May 13, 2019

3:37

Reiwa paper lantern

Japanese Emperor Steps Down

At 85, after reigning for three decades, Emperor Akihito of Japan is the first to step down from the throne in over two hundred years. In 1989, he was the first emperor to rise to the throne as a symbolic leader without political power under a U.S.-drafted constitution. Listen to hear how his departure has prompted reflection on his reign, what made it uniquely modern, and how it upheld some traditions and broke others.

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May 10, 2019

3:54

Elie wiesel night

Debate: Can tolerance be taught?

In 2017, five students who sprayed racist graffiti on a historic African-American schoolhouse received a sentence designed to educate them about how racism has impacted people’s lives throughout history. They were assigned twelve books to read and respond to in writing. Listen to this interview with the state official who devised this unusual sentence and then debate: Can tolerance be taught?

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May 9, 2019

6:52

Marsai martin

A Teenage Executive Producer

Marsai Martin is Hollywood’s youngest executive producer. The 14-year-old pitched the idea for Little, a new comedy about a powerful executive who wakes up one morning in a child’s body, and she stars in the film as well. The teen actor got her acting breakthrough at age 10 on the hit sitcom Black-ish. She is not classically trained, but her colleagues say she is wise beyond her years. Listen to hear more about how Little came to be and how Marsai Martin became its executive producer.

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May 8, 2019

2:33

Rattlesnake

Snake Charmer

What would you do if you spotted a rattlesnake? A Texan man is in the business of removing unwanted snakes from underneath people’s houses. He has been fascinated with snakes all his life, and he has figured out a way to earn a living helping people and snakes at the same time. Listen to this interview with the man to learn about his passion for snakes and how it inspired his work.

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May 7, 2019

4:01

Colombo sri lanka

Terrorism Expert Reflects on Sri Lanka Bombings

On Easter Sunday, bombings at multiple churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killed hundreds of people. While the Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for these coordinated terrorist attacks, it is still unclear what role they may have played. Listen to this interview with a terrorism expert to learn more about the attacks and the current state of international terrorist organizations worldwide.

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May 6, 2019

6:15

Nipsey hussle

Gangs in America

The murder of rap artist and community activist Nipsey Hussle has brought renewed attention to the current state of gangs in the U.S. While gang membership totals have stayed relatively constant, gang members are getting younger, and they are still involved in serious crimes and violence. Listen to hear from a former gang member and a reporter about how and why gangs currently operate in the U.S.

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May 3, 2019

5:50

Cell block

Debate: Should life sentences be abolished?

A recent criminal justice reform bill that recently passed Congress has inspired hope in many people in the U.S. who are in prison. The bill ends automatic life sentences under the three-strikes penalty system, which led to significant growth in the prison population. Some are proposing that life sentences should be abolished altogether, particularly for juvenile defendants. Their arguments against life sentences include high costs, racial disparities in sentencing, and doubt about their effectiveness in deterring crime. Listen to hear more about life sentences in the U.S. and debate: Should life sentences be abolished?

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May 2, 2019

5:50

Test tubes and pipette

Data Bias Excludes Women

A new book makes the case that the data pool informing medicine, industrial design, digital technology, and a wide variety of other sectors reflects a clear, if unconscious bias towards men. The book provides examples of how this data bias plays out in women’s health and safety and in other aspects of life. Listen to this interview with the author to hear about the impact of this implicit cultural bias and her recommendations for addressing it.

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May 1, 2019

3:15

Students teach students

Teen Tutors Teach and Learn

A Washington, D.C. tutoring program is based on a unique concept for helping struggling students learn to read. In the Reach program, high school students tutor elementary school students in reading, and both benefit from the experience. Listen to this story to learn how both elementary and high school students are benefiting from this program.

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April 30, 2019

3:36

Notre dame fire

Fire at Notre Dame Cathedral

The Notre Dame Cathedral has stood as one of the most celebrated landmarks in Paris for more than 800 years. While much of the world famous monument survived a recent fire, portions of it, including the spire, were engulfed in flames for hours, while many people watched in helpless horror. Listen to hear from a Parisian journalist about how much Notre Dame means to Paris and how people are coming together to restore the beloved cathedral.

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April 29, 2019

3:53

Julian assange

Assessing WikiLeaks Damage

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London after officials in the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he had been living since 2012, said they would no longer provide protection for him as a political refugee. In 2010, WikiLeaks hacked into U.S. government computers and published classified information, posing a national security threat, according to many officials. Assange argued that he was operating as a journalist, exposing U.S. government actions that should not be kept secret from the public. Listen to this story to hear about the impact on national security and diplomacy of the unauthorized release of classified documents by WikiLeaks.

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April 26, 2019

1:42

Scavenger hunt magnifying

Media Literacy Scavenger Hunt

Do you like riddles, puzzles, or detective stories? Get out your figurative magnifying glass and try our Listenwise Media Literacy Scavenger Hunt. This game invites you to apply your media literacy skills to identify facts and fakes. As you take this quiz, you will be given clues to find Listenwise stories related to the theme of media literacy. (Scavenger hunt stories will have a special icon so that you know you found the right one.) Once you have found the right stories, listen to them carefully, and hunt down the answers to the related questions. We recommend working with two tabs or windows open at once–one for the quiz, and one for the stories. Explore Listenwise, learn about media literacy, and have fun!

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April 26, 2019

4:01

Playground for kids

Debate: Should Schools Have Lockdown Drills?

Lockdown drills to prepare for safety threats have become increasingly common in U.S. schools. Mental health experts worry about the negative effects these drills might be having on vulnerable children. Others believe that lockdown drills in schools make people feel safe and prepared. Listen to this story to hear more about the ways that lockdown drills affect students and debate: Should schools have lockdown drills?

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April 25, 2019

3:40

Tracy smith poet laureate

Connecting through Poetry

U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith has a new podcast called “The Slowdown,” in which she reads and reflects on a poem by a different poet each weekday. In the podcast, she shares personal thoughts and experiences related to themes that the poems address. Listen to this interview with Smith to learn how she thinks poetry can help people listen to and connect with each other, even across cultural and political divides.

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