TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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April 1, 2019
Special counsel Robert Mueller led a two-year investigation into Russain interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. The inquiry has ended, and the team’s report has been submitted to the federal Justice Department. Although the full report has not been released to the public yet, a summary of its conclusions has been shared. Listen to this story to learn about the questions that framed the investigation and what the Mueller team found.
March 29, 2019
The U.S. military is an all-volunteer force. However, when American men turn 18, they are required to register with the Selective Service, which means they are eligible to be drafted to serve in the military if the U.S. goes to war and needs more soldiers than the all-volunteer military force can provide. Recently, a federal judge ruled that requirement should not be limited to men in response to a lawsuit arguing that restriction was unconstitutional. Listen to hear different views about whether the U.S. should require both men and women to register with Selective Service and debate: Should women be drafted?
March 28, 2019
A recent scandal has exposed multiple cases of bribery and fraud in college admissions. A number of wealthy parents paid to falsify test scores and applications and bribe coaches to get their children admitted to competitive colleges. While these actions are clearly illegal, there are other ways in which privileged students have been able to influence the college admissions process that feel unfair to students who have had to earn their place without those advantages. Listen to hear college students talk about their reactions to the scandal and their views about inequities in the college admissions process.
March 27, 2019
Governor Gavin Newsom of California has issued a suspension of capital punishment in his state. While it has been years since a death row inmate was executed in California, voters have rejected proposoals to abolish the death penalty on recent ballot measures. Critics of the governor say that his action betrays the will of California residents. Newsom says that this decision to end the death penalty is the right one. Listen to hear the governor’s rationale and why this decision has many people talking.
March 26, 2019
Millions of American children do not have a home. When families are not able to afford housing, some live in homeless shelters, but there are many hardships facing students in those circumstances. Listen to this interview with an Idaho teenager and his grandmother about their experience of homelessness, how it has affected them, and how they find support in handling their daily challenges.
March 25, 2019
The recent massacre of worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand was perpetrated by a white nationalist extremist. A counterterrorism expert draws parallels between these right wing extremists and Islamic extremists, explaining how the growing international network of right wing extremists has been engaging in practices that mirror those of al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other Islamic extremist groups. Listen to hear about why this former FBI agent believes that more attention must be paid to white nationalist terrorism and the threat it poses worldwide.
March 22, 2019
A clinic in Kiev, Ukraine is offering a controversial experimental procedure that allows parents experiencing infertility to have babies with three genetic parents. While this type of genetic engineering is allowed in some countries, it has been banned in the U.S., as there are many concerns in the medical community about the procedure’s safety and its ethical implications. Listen to this interview with the mother of one of a handful of three-parent babies that have been born and debate: Should three-parent babies be allowed?
March 21, 2019
The world famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race takes place annually in March. Sled dog teams and their human mushers travel 938 miles through the Alaskan wilderness. This year’s competitors include a rookie team led by musher Blair Braverman, whose large fan base is known as the “ugly dogs.” Listen to this interview with Braverman to learn about some of the stars of her sled dog team, their preparations for the race, and how the “ugly dogs” got their name.
March 20, 2019
North American football has become well known to many people as a sport with serious injury risks. This growing awareness of the dangers of football has led to a general decrease in participation, but not for people from low socioeconomic backgrounds. A recent report suggests that the rate of participation for low-income children is on the rise. One reason that low-income children continue to play football may be the possibility of opportunity offered by the popular sport. Listen to hear more about this increasing participation gap, the reasons for it, and the implications for children and society at large.
March 19, 2019
Mattel’s world famous “Barbie” doll turns 60 this year. The toy company that first released the popular doll in 1959 has introduced a line of Barbie dolls designed to honor accomplished women from around the world. The dolls are intended to inspire girls by honoring role models whose accomplishments represent a variety of fields. However, the dolls do not fully resemble the women they are designed to honor. Listen to this conversation between two journalists about whether these role model Barbies are as empowering to girls as they could be.
March 18, 2019
The recently proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexican border would not be the first of its kind. In 2006, Democrats and Republicans passed a bill to construct a secure fence across part of the border. To build the fence, the government took land from private property owners, which is allowed through a power known as eminent domain. In such cases, the government is not required to ask owners for permission to claim their land. Listen to hear about the laws that allow this kind of land seizure, how they impact landowners, and how issues related to eminent domain might resurface with the current border wall proposal.
March 15, 2019
What identifies a person as Native American? Is it tribal citizenship? Is it ancestry? If so, how much? The fact that Senator Elizabeth Warren registered as “American Indian” with the State Bar of Texas in 1986 has generated public discussion about who can call themselves Native American. The U.S. census indicates significant growth in the number of people identified as Native American over the last sixty years, estimated at 2% of Americans in 2010. Listen to this story to learn about the complexities associated with identifying as Native American, and then debate: Should tribal citizenship define Native American identity?
March 14, 2019
Michelle Obama, whose marriage to President Barack Obama brought her into the national spotlight, has written a memoir titled Becoming. In the book, she tells the story of her journey from childhood to the White House and beyond, sharing reflections on challenges she faced along the way and on how she has forged her identity over the course of her life. Listen to this story to hear some of Obama’s insights into her experience of becoming who she is today.
March 13, 2019
An astronomy writer has written a new book about “hazards to life in our universe,” in which he describes exploding stars, nuclear meltdowns, viral epidemics, natural disasters, and other phenomena with potentially cataclysmic impact on earth. Listen to this interview with the book’s author to hear what he learned from his research about past, present, and future threats to life on earth.
March 12, 2019
Freedmen’s communities were started by newly freed slaves following the Civil War. One such community was ‘Little Egypt’ in Dallas, Texas. The neighborhood got its name from a nearby church that is still open today, though in a different location. By the 1960s, many community residents had been bought out, and Little Egypt became part of Lake Highlands, a major suburb of Dallas. Listen to this story to hear what it was like to live in Little Egypt in years past and learn about how historians at Richland university uncovered the buried history of a southern freedmen’s community.
March 11, 2019
A deadly shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, neo-Nazi demonstrations, and other recent events have brought national attention to the issue of anti-Semitism in contemporary America. Recent comments by a new member of Congress have generated debate about what constitutes anti-Semitism and spurred the U.S. House of Representatives to pass a resolution condemning “hateful expressions of intolerance.” Listen to this interview with a Jewish scholar and author who reflects on anti-Semitism in America today.
March 8, 2019
The motto of the United States of America, “E Pluribus Unum,” meaning “Out of Many, One,” represents an ideal as old as the nation. A recent study investigated how people currently feel about living in a pluralistic society, side-by-side with those who are different from them. The study found that large numbers of Americans reported having little contact with people of different religions, races, or political beliefs. Listen to a reporter involved in the study discuss the poll results and then debate: Is pluralism still an American ideal?
March 7, 2019
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is starting off big in 2019 with Captain Marvel. The film, which features a superheroine battling evil, is the first ever movie in the Marvel Universe with a female lead. In order to do the character and story justice, Marvel hired not only a female director, but also female producers and writers. Geneva Robertson-Dworet is one of those writers, and her experience has shown her that opportunities are limited for female screenwriters. The film industry has been historically dominated by men, which has had an impact on how female characters have been portrayed. Listen to a Captain Marvel screenwriter describe her experience as a woman in the film industry.
March 6, 2019
While living in California is often associated with beautiful beaches, mountains, and movie stars, millions of Californians actually live in areas with high levels of pollution in both the air and the soil. Imperial County is one of three areas in California that does not meet the federal standards for air quality. This pollution has caused major health issues for its mostly low-income residents. Some who moved there for opportunity now worry about the health of their children. Listen to a family that moved to Imperial County to pursue their own California dream discuss how living in a highly polluted environment has affected them.
This story was produced as part of the California Dream series.The California Dream series is a statewide media collaboration of CALmatters, KPBS, KPCC, KQED and Capital Public Radio with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the James Irvine Foundation.
March 5, 2019
A journalist in the Philippines who has been critical of the government was recently arrested for the sixth time, raising concerns among champions of press freedom around the world. The arrest was based on false charges, and the journalist may be in danger in a country where the press has been regularly targeted by an authoritarian government. Listen to this interview with a representative of Reporters without Borders, an organization that reports on press freedom, about the risks facing journalists worldwide.
March 4, 2019
Teachers across the country have been striking this year, asking for support in the form of smaller class sizes, more school nurses and counselors, and pay raises. While their specific demands differ somewhat across school districts, there are common themes. In addition to asking for higher pay for the work that they do, teachers are asking for improvements that would better meet the needs of students. In some cases, they are protesting policies that they believe are not helping students. Listen to this story to learn more about the recent national trend of organized teacher protests.
March 1, 2019
Most of those infected with measles during a recent outbreak in the Pacific Northwest were unvaccinated children. While doctors and public health officials strongly recommend vaccinations, some parents choose not to vaccinate their children. Parents’ wishes, however, may differ from those of their children. Listen to this interview with a high school student who decided to get vaccinated when he turned 18, against his mother’s wishes, and debate: Should teens control their own health care?
February 28, 2019
It has been one year since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. That shooting sparked a national movement led by survivors aimed at decreasing gun violence. The student activists who organized the March for Our Lives protests engaged people around the world in speaking out against gun violence and speaking up for policies to prevent it. Listen to this interview with a journalist who has written a book about the events and reflects on what the students have accomplished in the year since the shooting.
February 27, 2019
In order to better understand head injuries and their risks, researchers from Washington University in St.Louis have been investigating the kinds of impacts that soccer players experience when heading the ball. To understand how much of that force of impact reaches the brain, they use a specialized MRI machine. Listen to this story to hear what the researchers learned about how our anatomy protects our brains and which types of impact cause the most damage.
February 26, 2019
Jonah Larson has become a very successful artisan and entrepreneur at the age of eleven. Larson got his start crocheting from watching YouTube videos, and now the pre-teen has become a social media star himself. The young entrepreneur sells his handcrafted products through his very popular Instagram page. Larsen’s business has grown so much that he has had to pause new orders as he catches up on old ones. Listen to hear how Jonah learned to crochet and what is next for this enterprising sixth grader.
February 25, 2019
President Trump declared a national emergency so he could reallocate funds to pay for a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, which Congress did not agree to fund. In response, there are many lawsuits being filed, arguing that the president is exercising his executive power in a way that is unconstitutional in order to bypass the budgetary authority of Congress. The emergency declaration follows a long government shutdown, which occurred because Congress would not agree to fund the border wall that the president wanted. Listen to hear more about what might unfold as a result of this emergency declaration.
February 22, 2019
A recent lawsuit against Harvard University alleged that the university discriminates unfairly against Asian-Americans in its admissions process. The trial led to an internal investigation at Harvard and the public release of admissions data indicating that Asian-Americans made up a much lower percentage of the class than they would have if admissions were based only on academic achievement. Some are concerned that the lawsuit may dismantle affirmative action practices that have ensured diversity at selective colleges. Listen to hear commentary from an Asian- American who attended an elite college and then debate: Should race be considered in college admissions?
February 21, 2019
The state of Virginia has been steeped in controversy about past actions of key elected leaders, including calls for their resignations. Both the governor and the attorney general have revealed that they wore blackface when in costume years ago, saying that they did not realize how offensive it is. Many are not aware of the history of blackface, dating to the late 19th century, when white people would darken their faces and perform minstrel shows, which depicted African-Americans in derogatory, dehumanizing ways. Listen to this interview with a journalist who explains the history of blackface in America and why it remains controversial today.
February 20, 2019
The governor of Washington state has declared a state of emergency because of a recent measles outbreak. The majority of those sick from measles are children who were not vaccinated. Washington state has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country. Measles is very contagious, and people who are not vaccinated are at high risk of catching the disease when exposed to it. Listen to hear more about the role vaccinations play in public health and what Washington is doing to contain this dangerous measles outbreak.
February 19, 2019
The comic strip Baldo has been published in newspapers across the United States for 20 years. It was the first ever to feature a Latino family as the main characters. Hector Cantu, the author of Baldo was inspired to create the comic strip after noticing how few Latino characters were represented in comics. Baldo features fictional characters who deal with real life issues. Listen to this story to hear from the author of Baldo about the creation of this ground-breaking work.
February 15, 2019
A recent viral video of an encounter at the Lincoln Memorial featured students wearing hats bearing the political slogan “Make America Great Again” (often abbreviated MAGA), prompting a lot of discussion about what the hats signified about those wearing them. Views differ about what the MAGA hat represents and whether it has become a racist symbol. Listen to this interview with a fashion and culture critic who recently wrote about what she thinks the MAGA hat symbolizes and then debate: Can a hat be more than a fashion statement?
February 14, 2019
Some people who are deaf use assistive technology such as hearing aids or cochlear implants to help them hear. Others feel that using assistive technology impacts a deaf person’s identity. One teenager who was born deaf has had cochlear implants since she was a year old, enabling her to hear and speak. As a result, she has felt excluded by members of both the hearing and the Deaf communities. Listen to her reflections on her experience navigating both worlds as someone who is “hearing but deaf.”
February 13, 2019
An ocean cleanup project in the Pacific has run into some problems cleaning up a floating debris field known as the Great Pacific garbage patch. The 2000-ft. long, U-shaped floating barrier is designed to catch plastic trash in the Pacific ocean, where an enormous garbage patch has collected. The ambitious system is the brainchild of a 17-year-old scientist. The device is not yet working exactly as hoped, but engineers are trying to address the issues that are getting in its way. Listen to hear more about this creative pollution solution and the inventor’s optimistic outlook on its potential to help the environment.
February 12, 2019
Love is a universal human emotion that brings us joy, focuses our priorities, and helps us face the challenges in our lives. The experience of love has inspired many poets to write about what drives it and how it affects us. Poet Kwame Alexander reflects on his love for his children and invites students to write about what love means to them. Listen to this interview with Alexander, who reads poetry about love and discusses why this powerful feeling keeps people connected, engaged, and motivated.
February 11, 2019
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed an important treaty agreeing to a nuclear weapons ban that represented a major milestone in ending the Cold War between the two superpowers. More than thirty years later, that treaty may be falling apart. The U.S. government says that Russia is not in compliance with the treaty and is threatening to withdraw if that does not change. Listen to this interview with a national security expert who explains what this means for national security and the potential threat of a renewed nuclear arms race.
February 8, 2019
A video of a recent incident in Washington, DC went viral, causing a flurry of reactions that played out in the media. The brief video showed an encounter between a Native American elder, who was part of an “Indigenous People’s March” on the mall, and a group of students from a Catholic high school who were in town for a “March for Life.” Media coverage initially generated strong reactions. When additional longer videos surfaced, the media’s response changed, and lots of public dialogue about the incident ensued via social media. Listen to this story about what happened and then debate: Does media coverage sway our views?
February 7, 2019
A polar vortex caused temperatures in parts of the country to fall to historically low levels. In Chicago, temperatures dropped to 21 degrees below zero. A real estate investor in Chicago realized that the cold temperatures would be dangerous to those who sleep outside and decided to help homeless people by renting some hotel rooms for them. After her social media post about the act of kindness went viral, others decided that they wanted to help as well. Listen to hear how this good Samaritan made a positive impact on her local community.
February 6, 2019
A recent study concluded that “a parachute is no more effective than an empty backpack.” While this might sound ridiculous, the researchers who designed the study did so to make a point about the importance of being critical consumers of research who do not accept findings without considering the research design. Listen to this story to hear more about why the study was done and discover the secret behind the surprising finding.
February 5, 2019
Some students at Texas Woman’s University have won a NASA-sponsored design competition aimed at solving problems related to space travel. The students tackled a problem that astronauts have a lot–lower back pain. They created a shirt to prevent and treat this common health issue through a design that simulates gravity. Like many other inventions for astronauts, the space shirt may also have other uses on earth. Listen to hear about how these students worked together on their design and what is next for their winning space shirt.
February 4, 2019
The longest government shutdown in U.S. history has ended, but the resolution is only temporary. The government has reopened, furloughed workers have gone back to work, and Congress has promised to pay government workers their lost wages, while contractors may never recover their lost pay. The future is still uncertain, however, as Congress and the president are still negotiating over the budgetary issues that initially led to the shutdown – namely funding for a wall on the U.S. Mexico border. Listen to this story to hear about what might happen next as negotiations over border security in the budget continue.