TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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December 15, 2017
Across the country there’s a debate over whether or not out-of-school suspensions are effective in dealing with a student’s disruptive behavior. A city council member in Washington D.C. believes they are not useful and that more money should be put toward in-school activities for disruptive students. This issue concerns teachers since dealing with disruptive behavior can take time out of classroom teaching and affect other students. Listen to hear more about the pros and cons of in-school suspensions and then debate: Should suspension be in school or out of school?
December 14, 2017
Whether you’re on a plane or an astronaut in space, you can see cities around the world lit up at night. The amount of lighting increases every year and has affected wildlife and how we view the night sky. This is known as light pollution, and there’s probably more than we are aware. The way we measure light pollution does not pick up on LED lighting making the light not trackable to scientists. Listen to learn where the most and least light pollution is and why it should be considered a problem.
December 13, 2017
President Obama established the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah in 2016, which is sacred to Native Americans and dense with ancient artifacts. Now, President Trump has dramatically reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Monuments. There is debate whether the vast amount of land protected under the federal government hurts or helps the communities that surround the monument, including local ranchers and Native Americans. Listen to learn how the park reductions will affect different groups and spark a legal battle.
December 12, 2017
North Korea has tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, which has reached further than any previous missile. This puts the United States in range of the missile. However, many wonder if North Korea has the capability to put a nuclear warhead on the missile, which would create a more dangerous situation. President Trump has responded by saying we would take care of the situation. Listen to hear how vital communication between the two countries is in maintaining a stable relationship.
December 11, 2017
The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum recently opened with the help of former Texas Senator, Florence Shapiro. Shaprio is a first-generation American whose family faced tragedy throughout the Holocaust. As she grew up, Shapiro continued to hear more stories about her relatives who lived in Berlin throughout the 1930s. She has made an effort to share this history with her children. Listen to hear how opening the museum carries on her father’s legacy and has allowed Shapiro to educate people of all ages about the Holocaust.
December 8, 2017
Soccer is played by more than 3 million kids in leagues across the United States. Most parents cheer respectfully for their children, but some parents don’t. One volunteer referee for the American Youth Soccer Organization wrote a letter to parents with his thoughts on parents’ behavior. He encourages parents to be civil and be a good example for their kids. Listen to this story and debate: What is a parent’s role on the sidelines of kids' sports?
December 7, 2017
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to remove laws that protect net neutrality. Net neutrality is the result of laws that have been in effect for 2 years that prohibit Internet service providers from speeding up or slowing down any websites you use. Without net neutrality, Internet service providers could go from being neutral gateways to gatekeepers. There are differences in opinion about whether this will be helpful for consumers or the economy. Listen to hear from the former FCC chairman about his thoughts on an open Internet.
December 6, 2017
For people facing issues from stress to self-harm, there is a new way to get support. The Crisis Text Line provides free crisis intervention through text messages. Counselors have exchanged more than 50 million messages with people who are in crisis and need to talk with someone right away, but might not feel comfortable making a phone call to a traditional crisis hotline. In this story you’ll hear one volunteer counselor explain how she intervenes when people are in crisis and text for help.
December 5, 2017
Two longtime business associates who served together on the Trump presidential campaign were recently indicted on charges including conspiracy against the U.S. and conspiracy to launder money. Paul Manafort was a former Trump campaign manager and Rick Gates also worked for the campaign. Although this was discovered during an investigation looking into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, these charges do not include collusion with the Russian government. The charges describe a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. of millions of dollars in taxes. Listen to hear more about these charges.
December 4, 2017
One in five North Texas children live in poverty and more than a quarter million are hungry. A recent report by Children’s Health, a hospital network in Dallas, found that children living in poverty are seven times more likely to be in poor or fair health. High costs can deter some parents from getting health care. There are other obstacles to success for these children in low-income families. Listen to hear more about the struggles and possible solutions for children living in poverty.
December 1, 2017
Doctors faced an ethical dilemma recently in a case of conjoined twins. They had separate heads and torsos, but they were connected at the abdomen and the pelvis. They shared a liver and a bladder and other organs, and had just three legs in all. One of the twins had heart and lung disease so serious that she was likely to die soon, and as a result, her sister would die in the process. Listen to hear how doctors discussed what to do in this situation and then debate: Should doctors separate conjoined twins to save one of them?
November 30, 2017
The gap between rich and poor is one of the great concerns of modern times. It's even leading archaeologists to look more closely at wealth disparities in ancient societies. The rise of agriculture in the ancient world led to an unequal distribution of wealth, due to access to work animals and land. Scientists have discovered that the societies in the Americas were more egalitarian than those in Europe. Listen to hear more about how ancient societies can help us understand issues in society today.
November 29, 2017
When people don't get enough sleep, it can affect attention, reflexes, and communication. Even the reactions of people are different when they are well rested from when they are deprived of sleep. A group of scientists studying epilepsy also studied the effects of sleep deprivation. They learned that when people don’t sleep enough, certain brain cells literally slow down. Listen to hear more about how important sleep is to the way we process information.
November 28, 2017
India's most famous monument, the Taj Mahal, is an example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India's rich history. Now it is at the center of a bitter controversy. Hindu nationalists say the Muslim emperor who built India's iconic monument was a "traitor." The construction of the mausoleum was completed in the 1640s as a mausoleum for Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan’s favorite wife. Listen to hear about how India’s national pride along with religious ideas are contributing to this controversy.
November 27, 2017
China is currently the United States’ biggest source of imports and one of its top export markets. President Trump has promised to enforce U.S. trade laws and agreements and promote free and fair trade with China. President Trump recently met with China’s president, Xi Jinping, to discuss trade practices. But the trade relationship is still shaky. Another focus in the relationship with China is the rapid increase of Chinese investment in U.S. start up companies. Listen to learn about the realities of investments and trade between the U.S. and China.
November 22, 2017
A turkey at the Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Maryland is not worried about becoming Thanksgiving dinner. Instead this turkey will be the guest of honor at dinner. Every year hundreds of people who eat only vegan or vegetarian food gather to eat with the turkeys, pigs, sheep, and other farm animals at Thanksgiving time. And they let the animals eat first. With help from charitable donations, this sanctuary has over 200 animals and a full-time caretaker. Listen to hear more about this unusual feast at Thanksgiving.
November 21, 2017
Nearly 4,000 Vermont veterans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. Many veterans are still dealing with the invisible wounds of war. Some of them, however, have begun to find healing through farming. One veteran who is raising pigs and goats is enjoying his days with animals and says it changed the way he sees his life. Listen to hear more about this veteran’s experience and other stories about veterans who have begun farming as a way to recover from the events of war.
November 20, 2017
More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled from their homes in Myanmar, also known as Burma, into Bangladesh since the end of August to escape the violence from the Burmese military. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority in a majority Buddhist country, and the violence has been called “ethnic cleansing” by some. The Burmese government’s stance is that their actions are in response to the attacks by an armed group of Rohingya against the Burmese police. Listen to hear about this crisis and what the Burmese government and United States government are doing to help the Rohingya.
November 17, 2017
Like the United States, Germany is grappling with fake news and hate speech and what to do about it. Offenses are banned under law, but on the Internet what is fake and what is hate speech is not always clear. The German parliament recently passed a controversial law imposing big fines on social media companies that fail to remove illegal, racist or slanderous posts. German ministry officials are anticipating a large volume of complaints about censorship. Listen to this story about social media and offensive posts, and the debate: Should social media sites be fined for not removing fake news and hate speech?
November 16, 2017
The shape of measuring cups hasn’t changed for decades. But how they are shaped affects how accurate they are. That is the reason why a software engineer quit his job to redesign the measuring cup. He named his new company Euclid after a Greek Mathematician and began experimenting with shapes and formulas. Listen to this audio story to learn about the difficult journey to make-over a seemingly simple kitchen tool.
November 15, 2017
Women will soon be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. For decades the monarchy in Saudi Arabia forbid women from driving and other activities. Now the young crown prince has relaxed many restrictions on women as part of larger reforms in efforts to modernize the Middle Eastern country. There have been protests of the driving ban, including in 1990 when forty women drove the streets of the capital and lost their jobs. Listen to this story to hear more about the changes coming to Saudi Arabia.
November 14, 2017
A group of fathers in Texas wanted to be sure every student in their schools had a father figure. So they created a group called All Pro Dads. This group of volunteers now has 1,300 fathers who serve the school district. At every school there are dads who welcome students as they are dropped off to help them start their day. They provide male role models in an effort to support students with mentorship, positivity, and encouragement. Listen to hear from volunteers as well as students about this program.
November 13, 2017
Catalonia is a region in northeast Spain that has its own language and customs, and accounts for 20% of Spain’s economic output. This region has had financial disputes with the other regions of Spain and a history of striving for independence. Catalonia recently declared independence from Spain and in response Spanish authorities assumed direct control of the region. A warrant was issued for the arrest of the deposed Catalan leader and several Catalan ministers were arrested. Listen to hear more about the events in Catalonia, and the reactions to their efforts for independence.
November 10, 2017
Opioid addiction is killing from 35,000 to 50,000 people every year. Ten states and a number of cities and counties are suing opioid makers accusing them of lying about the addictive nature of the powerful painkiller. Many of those lawsuits involve Mike Moore. When Mike Moore was Mississippi's attorney general, he spearheaded the 50-state lawsuit against tobacco companies and won the biggest civil settlement in U.S. history. Now, he's trying to do the same thing against opioid manufacturers and distributors. Listen to hear more about this deadly and complicated crisis, and then debate: Should the drug companies be sued for creating the opioid epidemic?
November 9, 2017
There is evidence that Russian campaigns on social media sent out fake news stories and false conspiracies to create divisions among Americans during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter are being asked about this interference in the first public congressional hearings on Russian propaganda. Listen to hear more about how Russian propaganda affects people’s beliefs and behavior, and how quickly false stories spread.
November 8, 2017
Many women recently have tagged their social media posts with the hash tag “Me Too.” These two words are meant to bring attention to sexual assault and highlight its prevalence, since it is not often spoken about. This movement began ten years ago when an African American woman wanted to bring attention to the problem of sexual harassment and assault. Now, in response to movie producer Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault scandal, it has become a movement. Listen to hear more about how social media and the #metoo campaign is helping people speak out about sexual harassment and assault.
November 7, 2017
Schools are finding creative ways to encourage kids to read. In Fort Worth, Texas, barbershops are giving kids a chance to read while they get their hair cut. Some barbers are doubling as reading coaches—asking kids if they understand what they are reading, helping them with difficult words, and listening as they read aloud. This effort started in Texas with the city schools and similar programs are starting in cities across the country. Listen to hear more about how kids are being encouraged to read by their barbers.
November 6, 2017
The Presidents of the United States honor members of the military who have lost their lives in service to the country. The tradition of offering condolences has varied due to circumstances and are different for each president. From Lincoln to Trump, presidents have written letters, called families of the armed services member, and held ceremonies for the families of the fallen. The First Ladies have also found ways to honor service members. Listen to hear examples of this tradition and how it has changed over time.
November 3, 2017
One of the newest trends in coffee shops is welcoming animals. The way these cafes work is that people pay to enter and get a free drink. People who don’t have time or room for a pet can come and spend time with animals, without having to own them. Most people come to pet the cats, rabbits, sheep, or owls in the cafe. But some cafes might be going too far. In South Korea, one cafe welcomes raccoons, a typically wild animal that can be dangerous. Listen to hear about a visit to this cafe and then debate: Should animals be allowed in cafes?
November 2, 2017
Shakespeare was an English playwright and actor. Today his work is seen as culturally significant and serious. His plays are studied and reinterpreted in performances and movies, presenting a wide range of emotions and conflicts. A new interpretation of Shakespeare’s work is a lighter pop-up book. Two actors who perform Shakespeare’s works have partnered with an artist to create the book. They wanted to approach his work playfully and be inviting to all audiences. Listen to hear more about this new version of Shakespeare’s plays.
November 1, 2017
There is widespread support for infrastructure spending from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Funding roads and bridges is good for the economy. It creates jobs, fuels growth, and helps Americans travel more quickly and safely. President Donald Trump promised a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan as a part of his campaign as well as his presidency. Trump’s new budget has allocated $200 billion in federal money for infrastructure over 10 years, but also cuts programs he calls wasteful, including water facilities and airports. Listen to hear questions and concerns about where the money is going to come from.
October 31, 2017
On Halloween, many children come home with bags full of candy. Some is eaten right away, some is left in the bag for later, and some is traded for more desirable candy. Some people rank their favorite candy based on texture or according to the proportion of ingredients such as the ratio of chocolate to caramel. What candy would be on your favorite list? Listen to this story to hear about one person’s ranking of Halloween candy based on her preferences.
October 30, 2017
Raqqa is a city in northeastern Syria. ISIS leaders made Raqqa its operations hub and training ground more than three years ago, claiming it as an Islamic caliphate. Recently, after four months of airstrikes, ISIS no longer controls Raqqa. Syrian Democratic Forces, the American-backed militia group made up of Syrian Kurds and Arabs, took control of the city. Many of the people who joined ISIS were attracted by the idea of a physical Islamic state, and without this territory, ISIS may go back to being an underground terrorist organization. Listen to hear more about what might be next for the Islamic State.
October 27, 2017
Neighborhoods are often chosen by real estate prices and schools, and now they might be chosen by politics. Some people can feel like outsiders if they are living among others who don’t value or believe what they do. One idea is to create conservative Republican enclaves, where everyone shares the same values and feels connected to each other. Others think we should figure out how to exist together with different types of people. Listen to this story and then debate: Should we surround ourselves with people who have the same values and beliefs?
October 26, 2017
An estimated 1 in 13 children have food allergies. Some are potentially life-threatening and avoiding the allergen can be challenging and stressful. The blood tests and skin prick tests rule out specific food allergies but are not as accurate when confirming food allergies. The oral food challenge, where the food is eaten under the supervision of a doctor has become the gold-standard for determining allergies. Listen to this story about allergies as a health concern and the best way to tell if the food allergies have been outgrown.
October 25, 2017
Most people want to buy new phones with the latest technology, but new devices lead to electronic waste, or e-waste, when old phones are discarded. Phone companies used to offer free phones with contracts, which meant people got new phones every two years. Now contracts are changing and there are new ways people are thinking about phones. One way is the modular approach, where the components are detachable and replaceable. Another is to create longer-lasting phones that are better for the environment. Listen to this story about how new technology can help eliminate electronic waste.
October 24, 2017
For the first time in 38 years, Angola has a new president. José Eduardo dos Santos had ruled Angola since 1979, soon after its independence from Portugal in 1975. He handpicked his successor, João Lourenço, who was the former Defence Minister. Lourenço won the presidential election and faces the challenge of bringing change to the country. Half of Angola’s citizens live in poverty and the hope is that Lourenço will fight corruption in the country. Listen to hear more about this peaceful transition of power.
October 23, 2017
About a month after Hurricane Maria, almost 90% of Puerto Rico is without power and many residents have become dependent on generators. Hospitals, restaurants, air traffic control towers and other businesses are now operating with generator power. The dependence on generators has introduced a new level of division between the privileged and the poor for these U.S. citizens. Listen to hear the concerns about generator power and how people in Puerto Rico are surviving after the hurricane.
October 20, 2017
Middle and high school students can spend a lot of time on their phones. Teens use technology to communicate and share information and a new study by the Pew Research Center finds this is helping teens be more creative and collaborative. But many teachers say students are taking shortcuts to writing and finding it difficult to understand longer material. Listen to this story and then debate: Does technology help or hurt writing skills?
October 19, 2017
Even though Mark Twain died more than 100 years ago, a new book was recently published based on his writing. Taking 16 pages of handwritten notes by Mark Twain, two authors collaborated to write a children’s book based on the bedtime stories Twain told his children. They discuss decisions they made throughout the process, including the main character’s race, and the goal they set as they wrote the story. Listen to hear more about this collaboration and the challenges of writing this book.