TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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November 19, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently resigned at the request of the president. Sessions was one of President Trump’s earliest political supporters, but Trump has been critical of Sessions since appointing him to lead the Department of Justice. Listen to hear about what preceded the president’s request for Sessions to resign and why many people consider it to be a significant development with implications for the ongoing investigation into Russian election interference.
November 16, 2018
Many teachers use food to reward students, but often these foods are unhealthy. Since childhood obesity is a growing problem nationally, there is concern that celebrating with junk food at school may be contributing to students’ poor health. Listen to hear why one California school district is discouraging the use of edible prizes in school and debate: Should teachers reward students with junk food?
November 15, 2018
The Smithsonian has selected a design for its National Native American Veterans Memorial to be built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The artist is Harvey Pratt, a Native American veteran from Oklahoma, and his design is called “Warriors’ Circle of Honor.” It aims to engage all Americans in appreciating and learning about the tradition of Native American service. Listen to hear the artist’s reflections on the meaning of his design, how he hopes people will experience it, and why honoring veterans is an important part of his heritage.
November 14, 2018
The Sahara Desert is expanding due to cycles of drought. A scientist at the University of Maryland who studies the earth’s atmosphere has proposed a solution to this problem involving solar panels and windmills. Listen to learn how her proposed solution could change the future climate of the Sahara region and harness energy at the same time.
November 13, 2018
The recent midterm elections had especially high voter turnout. While each of the major political parties claimed some victories, one of the most significant election results was a shift in Congressional power. The Democrats gained a clear majority in the House of Representatives, while the Republicans reinforced their Senate majority. Listen to this story to hear about this significant change to the U.S. Congress, where Republicans had previously held a majority in both the House and the Senate.
November 9, 2018
Electric scooters are becoming increasingly popular in big cities where traffic is congested and public transportation can be unreliable. Some companies are offering electric scooters that can be unlocked via mobile app, ridden, and dropped off anywhere in the city. This may be convenient for some people, but it can be hazardous for others. Listen to this story to learn about the controversy caused by electric scooters and debate: Should electric scooter rentals be allowed in cities?
November 8, 2018
After 130 years in business, the department store Sears has filed for bankruptcy. Sears began as a catalog company and was an historically important innovation in shopping that offered many people opportunities to buy products that were not available to them locally. Sears department stores made one-stop shopping a common practice in many communities around the country. However, recent shopping trends have had a negative impact on Sears. Listen to this story to learn what made Sears a dominant influence in shaping American shopping habits and what changes have contributed to its downfall.
November 7, 2018
Mexico City faces a water shortage because an underground aquifer that stores water is being drained faster than it is being replenished. In addition, the imbalanced drainage of the aquifer is causing the city to sink, leading to all sorts of other issues. Listen to this story to learn about the problems this major metropolis is facing because of high demand on its underground water supply.
November 6, 2018
Traffic, usually considered an urban problem, has been an issue at Yosemite National Park for a long time. While the park is sometimes shut down to all traffic because of forest fires, when it reopens, hundreds of cars come back to enjoy the majestic natural beauty of the park. Figuring out a solution to this problem has become even more important recently with an increase in bear deaths in the park. Listen to hear about how traffic jams in this popular national park are affecting the wildlife there as well as visitors’ experiences.
November 5, 2018
The gunman who recently attacked a Pittsburgh synagogue made reference to anti-Semitism, refugees, and conspiracy theories via social media. The man who allegedly sent mail bombs to prominent political and cultural figures had a social media history that indicated an anti-media bias and a presence at political rallies. There has been an increase in U.S. mass-casualty attacks in recent years by mentally unstable, violent individuals who link themselves with ideological or political causes. Listen to this interview with a counter-terrorism expert to learn more about the connection between hostile political rhetoric and violence.
November 2, 2018
A popular, powerful weed killer has been banned in Arkansas, but some farmers are still using it. The herbicide intended for weeds also harms crops and wildlife. Although some farmers are planting new varieties of soybeans and cotton that are resistant to the weed killer, others are not. When farmers with the resistant crops spray the weed killer, it impacts their neighbors’ farms, often with dire consequences. Listen to hear about the battle in Arkansas among neighboring farmers, and then debate: Should farmers be allowed to use a powerful weed killer?
November 1, 2018
NASA recently sent a probe into space aiming to get closer to the sun than ever before. The spacecraft is the first ever NASA has named after a living person. The Parker Solar Probe is named after solar science rock star Eugene Parker, who is a legend in the field. Listen to hear about Parker’s breakthrough discoveries that earned him fame, as well as what mystery he and other scientists are hoping the new probe will help them solve.
October 31, 2018
The annual MacArthur Foundation Fellowship awards, known as “genius grants,” are a very highly respected prize dedicated to “celebrating and inspiring the creative potential of individuals.” Among this year’s recipients is Reverend William Barber II, whose work aims at increasing awareness of problems such as poverty and racism by using creative approaches to activism. Listen to hear about Barber’s efforts to improve American lives and how he plans to use the grant to support their continuation.
October 30, 2018
What you eat after working out can make a difference in how your body recovers. Consuming the right types of snacks after exercising can help to replenish your energy, build muscle mass, and burn fat. Listen to this interview with a dietician to learn more about what to eat after exercise and why. Spoiler alert: chocolate milk is a good choice!
October 29, 2018
Many voters do not realize the importance of state elections and therefore do not pay as close attention to candidates for state office as they do to those for federal office. Governors and state representatives make many decisions that affect people’s daily lives, such as how money will be spent on schools and roads, and often these state politicians move on to national leadership positions. Listen to hear how campaign leaders from both major political parties are working to try to gain or hold power in these influential midterm races.
October 26, 2018
In the wake of Hurricane Florence, extreme flooding caused an enormous amount of damage along the coast of North Carolina. Many of the affected areas have experienced repeated flooding, yet the majority of these homes and businesses are not covered by flood insurance. Some people want to rebuild in the same spot, and others want to move inland away from waterways that could flood again. Listen to hear about the dilemma facing eastern North Carolina residents, and then debate: Should people rebuild on coastal property after major storms?
October 25, 2018
Ravens have long had a reputation for being spooky in literature and popular culture. Featured in Greek myths, Native American tales, and a famous poem by Edgar Allan Poe, the raven is frequently associated with darkness. However, many people are not aware how intelligent these feathered creatures are. Ravens communicate with and learn from each other, and they behave in ways that often bear little resemblance to how they are represented in literature. Listen to learn the real story behind what makes ravens special.
October 24, 2018
A recent report by a United Nations panel indicates that if we do not take action immediately to lessen the impact of global climate change, the negative consequences will be severe. A professor who worked on the report explains that global warming is already influencing our lives and the ecosystems that surround us. Listen to hear more about the rapid pace of climate change and what we can do to decrease the potential for disaster associated with it.
October 23, 2018
Russian agents interfered in the last major U.S. election in many ways, including planting “disinformation” or false information intended to mislead voters about the voting process. A new state office in California has been established to combat such disinformation leading up to the next election in November. While some welcome the role the state is playing, others are concerned about the potential for domestic political interference. Listen to hear how voters have been misled and what the state of California is trying to do about it.
October 22, 2018
Since the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida in February 2018, there has been significant national interest in the issue of gun violence in schools. The federal government surveyed all U.S. schools in order to find how exactly how many school shootings had occurred within a year. Investigative journalists followed up on the survey results, finding that the actual number of shootings was much lower than reported by the government. Listen to hear about the investigation and its implications.
October 19, 2018
Malaria is a devastating disease transmitted by mosquitoes, affecting millions each year. A team of scientists has been experimenting with genetic engineering that would cause the mosquito population carrying malaria to destroy itself. Listen to hear how the genetic engineering process works and how different groups are responding to the controversial experiment, and then debate: Should mosquitoes be genetically modified to self-destruct?
October 18, 2018
When plastic is thrown away, it crumbles into tiny pieces, known as microplastics. These small bits of plastic, less than 5 millimeters (or 0.2 inches) in size, are polluting rivers, lakes, oceans, and even soil. Scientists are studying how microplastics find their way into the ecosystem and what happens when they do. Listen to hear what research ecologists are doing to learn more about how microplastic waste may be affecting us and our world.
October 17, 2018
An earthquake and 18-foot tsunami hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on September 28th, devastating the coastline. Tens of thousands of people have lost their homes, and thousands more are dead or missing. Communication is difficult, and recovery efforts face significant challenges. Listen to hear a reporter in Palu, Indonesia describe the aftermath of the tsunami and its impact on people’s lives.
October 16, 2018
Originally organized by the Jefferson estate and the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, an exhibit called “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello” has been expanded to include recently discovered items associated with Sally Hemings. Hemings was an enslaved woman owned by Thomas Jefferson and also the mother of several of his children. Listen to hear one of their descendants, who now works at Monticello, reflect on the complexity of American history as represented in the exhibit.
October 15, 2018
In a recent Senate vote, Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired. The confirmation proceedings were very contentious, and the Senate vote was among the closest in history. After hearings about accusations of assault, reactions to Kavanaugh’s nomination were full of emotion and partisanship. Listen to hear about this historic vote.
October 12, 2018
Top executives from Facebook and Twitter recently met with Congressional committees about their roles in stopping interference in American elections by international powers such as Russia and Iran. Signs indicate that such interference remains a significant problem heading into the upcoming elections, and major social networks report that they are making efforts to address the issue. Listen to learn about what the networks are doing and debate: Should Facebook and Twitter be required to protect us?
October 11, 2018
Researchers are studying barn owls to better understand how they are able to focus so intensely, with the goal of shedding light on why some humans struggle with focused attention. Specifically, they are studying how the owl brain ignores all the information that distracts from what is most important to the owl’s survival. Listen to learn how and why research on owl brains might be able to help people with attention issues.
October 10, 2018
In some instances, voting laws cause confusion about who is eligible to vote. For example, laws about whether citizens with a felony record can vote vary from state to state. In addition, efforts to keep voting registration records accurate have sometimes mistakenly removed eligible voters from the list. Listen to learn how various legal barriers influence voting and hear about the experiences of some of the people who have encountered these obstacles.
October 9, 2018
The process of becoming a legal U.S. citizen has been lengthening for years, but the backlog in citizenship applications has increased significantly during the Trump administration, which is concerning to immigrant advocates. People applying for citizenship must fill out a written application, take a citizenship test, and be interviewed, and each of those steps takes longer now. Listen to hear about recent changes in the citizenship application process and timeline and how they are viewed by various participants in the process.
October 5, 2018
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) says there is an epidemic of e-cigarette use among kids, and they are trying to address it. To do this, they are cracking down on those who make and sell e-cigarettes. Listen to hear what the FDA is doing and how different groups feel about it, and then debate: Should e-cigarettes be banned?
October 4, 2018
Additional hearings were added to the Senate confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh to address allegations made by a woman who testified that he assaulted her when they were in high school in 1982. A current high school senior wrote and published an opinion piece describing her experience of the hearings. Listen to hear an interview with the student author about her reflections on the testimony and its implications.
October 3, 2018
There is so much flooding in Bangladesh that many students cannot travel safely to school. In order to ensure that students in isolated villages have access to education, a nonprofit organization has created floating schools that pick students up at their homes and hold class right on the boat. Listen to learn about how and why these special schools are helping students in Bangladesh.
October 2, 2018
A teen theater company has developed a play about gun violence, and they have designed a set that also functions as a public art installation. The room-sized exhibit includes thousands of shoes representing people affected by gun violence this year, with a shoe added for each new victim through the run of the show. Listen to learn about what inspired the design of this play and art exhibit.
October 1, 2018
It has been a year since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. While some progress has been made, there is still a huge amount of damage that has not been repaired, even a year after the hurricane. Listen to hear reflections from a Puerto Rican Senator about the government’s response to last year’s major hurricane and related implications for the upcoming hurricane season.
September 28, 2018
Three New England Patriots football players recently moderated a community forum where they asked candidates for district attorney how they would address inequality in the criminal justice system. The forum was part of a national series organized by the Players Coalition, a group that negotiated a $90 million campaign for social justice and racial equality with the NFL. The football players explained that, as citizens, they want to make a positive impact on their communities that is more powerful than protests on the playing field. Listen to hear more about what these football players are doing to tackle injustice and then debate: Should Professional Athletes Get Involved in Politics?
September 27, 2018
Some tiny, microscopic bacteria hunt and attack other bacteria, including those that make people sick. Scientists are now researching possible uses of these predatory bacteria in treating infections. They are also interested in whether these germ-eating germs might be useful in the event of germ warfare. Listen to hear how this exciting research could impact people’s lives.
September 26, 2018
A fire recently destroyed Brazil’s National Museum and millions of artifacts within it representing thousands of years of history. An anthropologist and ethnology professor who studies the history of Brazil’s indigenous cultures lost much of his life’s work in the fire. Listen to hear his reflections on the fire and what the loss of hundreds of historic objects and documents means to him, his country, and the world.
September 25, 2018
Interest in the upcoming midterm elections is higher than it has been in a long time, yet many Americans who are eligible to vote do not do so. More people tend to vote when there is a presidential race on the ballot. However, elections between those races (called midterms), which include important Congressional races, also have a significant impact on the lives of Americans. Listen to hear why some Americans who are able to vote have chosen not to cast a ballot and what that may mean for the election outcomes.
September 24, 2018
It has been a major challenge for many people in the Carolinas to get their basic needs met in the wake of Hurricane Florence, which hit land Friday, September 14th. In addition to power shortages caused by the storm, the flooding and destruction have made it difficult for many people to find food, gasoline, and safe places to stay. Listen to hear about how Hurricane Florence has affected people’s everyday lives.
September 21, 2018
There have been several recent high profile cases of employees secretly recording conversations with colleagues at work and then sharing those recordings. This practice is controversial. Some say that it is the only way that they will be believed when reporting that a colleague has behaved inappropriately. Others say that it interferes with trust and damages workplace culture. Listen to hear arguments on both sides and debate: Should secret recordings be allowed at work?