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Current Events

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April 10, 2022


Weird News: Man Travels to His 100th Birthday Party by Parachute

Listen to hear about a World War II veteran's 100th birthday celebration.

Vocabulary: parachuting, tandem, serenaded

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April 8, 2022


Debate: Should the U.S. Government Issue Digital Currency?

The U.S. government is considering creating digital currency as a substitute for paper money. Payment apps like Apple Pay involve moving traditional money from banks behind the scenes, costing transaction fees. No fees would be charged for digital currency, allowing more people to participate in the electronic marketplace. Some say the new system would keep America competitive with China, too. Digital currency would give the government greater access to information about where and how people spend, however, raising concerns about privacy. Listen to learn more about a new type of money and then debate: Should the U.S. government issue digital currency?

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April 7, 2022


TikTok Poet Says "We're All Poets"

In honor of Poetry Month, National Public Radio invites listeners to post their original poetry on social media platforms, including Twitter and TikTok. In this interview, a popular TiKTok poet discusses her early experiences sharing her spoken word poetry with others, and she explains why she believes that everyone is a poet. Listen to hear her recite one of her original poems and share advice with poets who are just starting out.

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April 6, 2022


Bandit Bears Steal Ice Cream

For many people, dealing with animals such as squirrels who feast on garbage is a typical part of owning or renting a home. However, it is far less common to have bears getting into the garbage or invading the garage for food. In the Lake Tahoe area, this is a real and persistent issue. As humans have occupied more and more space in bear habitats, bears have started relying on humans for food. Listen to hear about hungry bears breaking into homes and what the state of California plans to do about it.

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April 5, 2022


Kid News: New Baseball Technology

Professional pitchers try to outsmart batters by throwing baseballs that wobble, curve, or go extra fast. But try as they might, pitchers cannot always make the ball do exactly what they want it to do, and sometimes they use tricks that many consider unfair. Recently, an American ballplayer discovered a baseball in Japan that could help pitchers perform more evenly on the mound. Listen to learn more about the ball and why it could be a game-changer.

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April 5, 2022


How to Supercharge Your Brain

Researchers have learned a lot about what may help keep the human brain working as well as possible. According to a scientist who has written a book about supercharging the brain, it doesn’t necessarily require solving puzzles every day. In this interview, the scientist discusses a famous case of a man who experienced brain trauma, and he shares how brain function can be hurt and helped. Listen to hear what scientists see when they look at a brain that has been damaged, and learn about the practices that can boost brain function.

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April 4, 2022


Investigating Russian War Crimes

The international community has agreed that countries at war must follow certain basic rules of combat, such as not targeting civilians. Violations of these rules can constitute war crimes, and an international court was established in 1998 to bring perpetrators of war crimes to justice. Recently the court has begun to look at evidence from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where observers say war crimes have been committed. Listen to hear a war crimes expert discuss the rules of war, how Russia has violated them, and what might be done to hold the perpetrators accountable.

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April 3, 2022


Weird News: Ancient Discovery in Siberian Permafrost

Listen to hear about the discovery of a well-preserved ice age animal.

Vocabulary: permafrost, thaw, traces

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April 1, 2022


Debate: Is Social Media a Reliable Source of News?

Social media platforms make it easy to share information openly and widely. Some platforms, like Twitter, have become sources of up-to-the-minute news, with people reporting on important events as they happen. Some say the varied perspectives and live reports from citizen journalists make these social media platforms a good source of news. The stories being shared on social media are not always accurate, though. Sometimes images and videos are altered, and those looking for “clicks” often share sensational stories, whether or not they are true. Listen to hear how propaganda and disinformation about the war in Ukraine are spreading online and then debate: Is social media a reliable source of the news?

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March 31, 2022


Virtual Fashion

Big fashion brands like Nike and Ralph Lauren are experimenting with virtual fashion for metaverse spaces like social media and online gaming. In this interview, a fashion expert discusses the limitless creative possibilities of virtual fashion and the reasons why fashion exists. Listen to hear about the exciting virtual fashion choices people can make in the metaverse to express themselves and find out why companies may believe exploring virtual fashion is a smart business decision.

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March 30, 2022


Lions Tested Positive for COVID-19

Many researchers studying the origins of COVID-19 have reached the conclusion that it started in Wuhan, China with a jump from animals to humans. While this has not been conclusively determined, support for this claim can be found in the fact that humans have been shown to be infecting animals as well. In South Africa, they realized that lion keepers at a private zoo had infected lions. Listen to learn about this twist in COVID-19 pandemic transmission and what it teaches us about the ways in which viruses can mutate and spread.

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March 29, 2022


Kid News: Blue Bananas

Bananas that Americans eat are typically flown into the country from all over the world, but transporting them is harmful to the environment. A type of banana called the Blue Java, which has a light blue peel, might be able to help. Unlike common yellow bananas, blue bananas can grow in colder climates. Listen to learn more about blue bananas and how they offer a chance to eat locally grown food.

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March 29, 2022


Remembering Trayvon Martin 10 Years Later

The community of Sanford, Florida, continues to remember the life and legacy of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teen killed there in 2012. A local Black history museum displays many of the items left at the memorials created for Martin soon after his death. In this interview with the woman who founded the museum and set up the very first memorial for Trayvon Martin, she recalls when she learned about his death and what happened in her community in the days following the killing. Listen to hear about the impact of Trayvon Martin’s death, and learn why the woman compares him to Emmett Till.

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March 28, 2022


Russian Attacks on Ukraine Leave Millions Displaced

Russia has expanded its attack on Ukraine, bombing airports, apartment buildings, and other targets throughout the country. Ukrainians are fleeing in massive numbers, seeking escape through humanitarian corridors, or protected areas where civilians can escape the fighting. A large proportion of the country’s population has been displaced. The attack has taken a huge physical and emotional toll on Ukrainians, both those who have fled and those who have stayed behind. Listen to hear an update on the war in Ukraine and how Ukrainans are responding to the chaos.

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March 27, 2022


Weird News: Snake Sound Investigation

Listen to hear what item was discovered as the source of a mysterious sound.

Vocabulary: suspected, source, venomous, malfunctioning

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March 25, 2022


Debate: Should the U.S. Military Engage in Ukraine?

U.S. leaders are debating whether to increase America’s military engagement in the war in Ukraine. Russia has bombed Ukrainian hospitals, schools, and other civilian targets – acts considered war crimes – and Ukrainian president Zelensky has pleaded with the U.S. and NATO to create a no-fly zone banning Russian aircraft from flying over the country. He says this is the best way to protect Ukrainian citizens and the country from further destruction. However, some say enforcing a no-fly zone would drag America into direct conflict with Russia and escalate the conflict. Listen to hear politicians’ views on the issue and then debate: Should the U.S. military engage in Ukraine?

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March 24, 2022


Endurance Wreckage Discovered Near Antarctica

A search spanning more than a century for the wreckage of the Endurance, a British exploration ship that sank in 1915, is over. A team of scientists used information recorded over 100 years ago and new technology to locate the shipwreck on the floor of the Weddell Sea in Antarctica. Listen to hear details about the wreckage and find out how the Endurance’s crew escaped their sinking ship and survived bitter temperatures in rough seas until they found land.

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March 23, 2022


Trading a Bobby Pin for a House

Social media has been used for all kinds of interesting projects, some that start small and then gather interest, and even become global phenomena. One California woman started with an idea of using TikTok to trade a bobby pin, with the goal of eventually trading her way up to a new house. Along the way, she increased her TikTok audience from zero followers to millions. Listen to learn how she did it and hear about some of her most memorable trades.

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March 22, 2022


Kid News: 8-Year-Old Author Hides His Book on Library Shelves

An 8-year-old author’s book has become a must-read at his local library in Boise, Idaho. Librarians there officially added his book to their collection after he snuck it onto a shelf. They found his illustrations to be imaginative and sophisticated, and they appreciated how the young author’s writing incorporated many literary genres. Listen to hear more about the young author’s book and find out what advice he has for other aspiring writers.

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March 22, 2022


Positive Pandemic Predictions

While the COVID-19 omicron variant caused infections to surge in the first weeks of 2022, one medical expert felt confident that cases would greatly decrease within six to eight weeks. His predictions turned out to be true. In this interview, the expert discusses why he believed that the spike in omicron infections would not last long, and he shares data from his hospital that supports his prediction. Listen to hear a medical expert discuss the recent good news about COVID and his thoughts about the future of the pandemic.

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March 21, 2022


Russians Protest War in Ukraine

Public protest is illegal in Russia, a country ruled by an authoritarian government. After invading Ukraine, the Russian government has spread misinformation about the war among its citizens and declared harsh penalties for anyone speaking out against the Russian war effort. Even so, some Russians opposed to the war in Ukraine have been protesting. They have said they could not stay silent, even though they risked arrest and imprisonment for their actions. Listen to hear a young Russian activist discuss her motivations, and learn how she used two colorful Harry Potter books to stage a public protest against the war.

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March 20, 2022


Weird News: Identical Triplets Born

Listen to hear about rare identical triplets born in New Jersey.

Vocabulary: risky, odds, identical

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March 18, 2022


Debate: Are Leaders Born or Made?

Before the recent Russian attack, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was unpopular. With a background in acting and little political experience, he did not inspire confidence among many citizens. Zelensky’s leadership since the attack, however, has drawn admiration from many, at home and internationally. He has demonstrated courage, empathy, and patriotism, inspiring his own people to fight and winning support from countries throughout the world. Were Zelensky’s leadership skills already present, or did his circumstances shape him into an effective leader? Listen to hear an expert analyze Zelensky’s leadership style and then debate: Are leaders born or made?

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March 17, 2022


Orcas in the Arctic

For years, scientists have been making underwater recordings of orcas, also called killer whales. Orcas spend much of their time in an icy, dark area of the world, the Arctic, where they can be difficult to find, and scientists were hoping the recordings might help them better track and study the marine mammals. Recently scientists started listening to the recordings, which span thousands of hours. Listen to hear the sounds of killer whale calls, and learn what the recordings are teaching researchers about orca behavior and habitat.

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March 16, 2022


NASA Helicopter Roaming on Mars

Flying drones has become increasingly common. NASA is conducting experiments on Mars with a drone helicopter named Ingenuity. The helicopter may be useful for deeper scientific exploration of previously unseen parts of the planet. Listen to hear about this leap forward in drone technology and to find out how a helicopter is taking the study of Mars to potentially greater heights.

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March 15, 2022


Celebrating Persian New Year

Many Iranian Americans, along with others in the Middle East and Central and South Asia, celebrate Persian New Year. Called Nowruz in Persian, the New Year’s celebration takes place in March on the first day of spring. In this interview, an Iranian-American author explains the meaning of Nowruz and how it is celebrated with food and family traditions. Listen to hear more about Persian New Year and the delicious sweets involved.

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March 15, 2022


Kid News: Ukraine War Explained

Russian soldiers have crossed the border into Ukraine, and their invasion has forced many Ukrainians to flee to neighboring countries for safety. Volunteers in these countries are welcoming the Ukrainian refugees and offering them the resources they need for life away from their homes. Listen to hear why Eastern European countries are helping Ukrainians and find out how Russia’s president is reacting to Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion.

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March 14, 2022


Ukrainians Under Siege Leave Home

Millions of Ukrainians are fleeing their homes to escape the ongoing attack by Russian forces. They are traveling by train, plane, car, or foot, heading to safer parts of Ukraine or towards neighboring countries. Many leave quickly, taking few belongings with them, and face an uncertain future. This audio story features an interview with one such refugee, a Ukrainian writer who fled her home in Kyiv to cross the border into Poland. Listen to hear about her experiences and emotions as she leaves her home country behind in the midst of war.

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March 13, 2022


Weird News: Triceratops Fossil for Sale

Listen to hear about a giant triceratops fossil that was put up for auction.

Vocabulary: estimated, enthusiast, prehistoric, fossil

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March 11, 2022


Debate: Are Emoji Skin Tones Helpful?

Deciding which thumbs up emoji to add to a post may sound trivial, but for many people the dilemma carries with it larger questions about racial identity, awareness, and even politics. Using an emoji demands that people make their race explicit – and with that comes difficult choices. For a person who identifies as Black but is seen by others as white, which emoji should be used? What does it mean when a white person uses the bright yellow emoji versus a more realistic light-skinned color? Listen to hear emoji-users and a social media researcher discuss the racial politics of emojis and then debate: Are emoji skin tones useful?

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March 10, 2022


Working and Living on the International Space Station

NASA is teaming up with SpaceX to send a crew of astronauts to the International Space Station. Astronaut and geologist Jessica Watkins will be on this mission, and she will become the first Black woman to live in space for an extended period of time. In this interview, Watkins discusses the research her crew will conduct. She also explains what it has been like training for the mission and the importance of collaboration in space. Listen to hear details about the mission and to learn how Watkins feels about joining the legacy of Black women astronauts.

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March 9, 2022


The Wisdom in Neanderthal Cave Campfire Design

Learning to control fire was an important milestone in human development. Prehistoric people used fire for cooking, heat, and keeping predators away. But one question that has puzzled experts is how Neanderthals were able to use fire in a cave without causing conditions that would make it hard to survive. Listen to learn how recent research has helped solve that puzzle and has also revealed the ingenuity of our prehistoric ancestors.

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March 8, 2022


Kid News: Coral Lifesaver

Coral reefs, made of marine invertebrates, are underwater ecosystems that protect fish and shorelines.The impacts of human behavior and climate change, however, are killing coral reefs around the world. Scientists have discovered how to treat a disease that affects some coral species using a medication made for humans. Listen to hear how treating sick coral is similar to how doctors treat an ear infection, and find out how corals take their medicine.

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March 8, 2022


Voice from a Ukrainian Bomb Shelter

Huge numbers of people have fled Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, after Russian troops invaded the country and began advancing on the capital. But others have chosen to stay and are sheltering underground in makeshift bomb shelters. In this story, a Ukrainian journalist describes the conditions in a bomb shelter and explains why she decided to stay there. Listen to hear about the other people in the shelter with the journalist, and find out what she thinks about the war’s impact on the Ukrainian people.

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March 7, 2022


CDC Updates Masking Guidance

As cases of COVID-19 continue to drop, the CDC has issued new guidance that permits many Americans to go unmasked indoors, including in schools. The guidance is based on a new tool, the COVID-19 Community Level, that measures hospitalization rates in local communities. For the many Americans living in low-risk communities, the CDC says masks can be removed. There continue to be situations where masking is required or highly recommended, however. Listen to hear more about the new guidance, how public health experts are responding, and what it may mean for life in the coming months.

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March 6, 2022


Weird News: Sixth-Grade Superhero

Listen to hear how a sixth-grader saved two people’s lives in one day.

Vocabulary: recognize, honorary, heroism

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March 4, 2022


Debate: Should Podcasts Be Regulated?

Radio and television broadcasts are overseen by the FCC, a federal agency that sets guidelines and ensures compliance. Podcasts, on the other hand, have no government oversight. With millions of podcasts now available, some say that should change. They argue that, without regulation, podcasters are spreading misinformation on a range of important topics, confusing the public and poisoning public discourse. But some say that government regulation could limit podcasters’ creativity and potentially infringe upon their right to free speech. Listen to hear about a Spotify podcaster who has spread false information and then debate: Should podcasts be regulated?

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March 3, 2022


Authentic Food Makes Afghan Refugees Feel Welcome

Thousands of refugees from Afghanistan have settled in the U.S. after fleeing their country during the Taliban takeover. Many feel grateful for their new lives but also homesick for the family members, country, and culture they left behind. Break Bread, Break Borders is an organization in Dallas, Texas, that welcomes and comforts refugees by offering authentic, culturally appropriate meals. Listen to newly settled Afghan refugees tell their stories and describe what it means to them to share a familiar meal.

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March 2, 2022


Wordle and Other Puzzle Crazes

People have enjoyed solving different kinds of puzzles for centuries. Wordle, a popular online puzzle, requires players to figure out the word of the day within six tries. Puzzles like Wordle are fun, and they can sharpen people’s language and critical thinking skills. In this story, the author of a book about puzzles discusses historical puzzle crazes and why he believes puzzles can benefit society. Listen to hear about puzzles that have been popular throughout history and why some people have called puzzle crazes dangerous.

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March 1, 2022


Kid News: Cloned Ferret

Endangered animals are at risk of disappearing entirely, but cloning can help prevent that from happening. Cloning means growing the cells of a living thing into an exact copy of the creature. Listen to hear how scientists are using cloning to protect an endangered species of ferret.

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