TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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September 30, 2019
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced her support for a presidential impeachment inquiry by the U.S. Congress in response to a report suggesting that President Trump may have pressured the Ukranian president to investigate his political rival, presidential candidate Joe Biden. The “whistleblower complaint” alleges that financial aid may have been withheld from the Ukraine pending cooperation of its leadership with the U.S. president’s request. The U.S. Constitution empowers the Congress to charge the president with “high crimes and misdemeanors,” a process known as impeachment, as a check on executive power. Listen to hear what led to this important development and what is expected to happen next.
September 27, 2019
In response to the recent epidemic of opioid deaths, many states have filed lawsuits seeking millions – even billions – of dollars from drug companies. They say the companies misled the public about the dangers of opioids and ignored the problem of misuse. The companies say they are not responsible for how people used their product. A recent settlement awarded the state money to help pay for addiction treatment. Listen to hear more about penalties against drug companies and then debate: Should drug companies pay for opioid addiction treatment?
September 26, 2019
Many teens care about what is happening in the world, but they typically hear news from an adult perspective. One California teen is changing that. Fifteen-year-old Olivia Seltzer publishes a daily newsletter in her own voice, targeting issues important to youth. She brings in diverse viewpoints through an editorial team comprising teens from around the world. Listen to hear why one young person gets up at very early every morning to offer her generation an alternative to mainstream news media.
September 25, 2019
Recent weather has led to an increase in snake populations across the United States. Given this trend, it is important to understand how to avoid being bitten by these animals and what to do if the worst case scenario does occur. Listen to hear insights from a biologist and an emergency room doctor about how to avoid snake bites and how to handle them if necessary.
September 24, 2019
How much is a pair of sneakers worth? Shoe enthusiasts from around the country recently gathered in Washington, D.C. to settle that question at Sneaker Con, a marketplace for buying and selling sneakers. Thousands of “sneakerheads” lined up for a chance to get in on the action, much of which took place in the trading pit where negotiators haggled with each other to reach a deal. Listen to hear visitors and vendors explaining the appeal of sneaker culture and what drew them to the marketplace.
September 23, 2019
The Arctic may seem like an unlikely place for fires, but every year wildfires burn millions of acres of forest in Alaska, northern Canada, and Siberia. This century, the blazes have grown bigger, hotter, and more frequent, causing health problems for local residents and releasing harmful greenhouse gases into the environment. Listen to hear a climate scientist describe the effects of wildfires in the Arctic and how the global community can respond.
September 20, 2019
In response to mass shootings, many schools are turning to new technologies to help keep their campuses safe. There are a variety of systems that can monitor students’ communication and behavior and detect indicators of potential violence. However, some argue that these technologies violate students’ privacy rights and civil liberties. Listen to learn more about this complex issue and then debate: Should student communication be monitored?
September 19, 2019
Some school districts are exploring a new approach to saving money and improving educational outcomes: 4-day school weeks. Both urban and rural school districts throughout Colorado are trying out 4-day school weeks and observing how the change is impacting budgets, teacher retention, and student achievement. Listen to learn about the logic behind the 4-day school week and how this schedule has affected Colorado schools so far.
September 18, 2019
People have noticed more fireflies, or “lightning bugs,” than usual in Chicago this summer. In this story, a scientist who has been studying these insects explains why he thinks fireflies are currently thriving in the area, what this might mean for local ecosystems, and what can be done to help cultivate the firefly population. Listen to learn more about these popular summer insects and how they “light the way” in the ecosystems where they live.
September 17, 2019
President Trump recently tweeted that some Congressional representatives should “go back” to “the places from which they came.” These comments sounded familiar to many Americans, who have had others tell them to “go home,” though they were born in the United States. Listen to hear stories of Americans who have been told to “go back” and learn how such remarks have affected them.
September 16, 2019
India and Pakistan have been arguing for decades over control of the Muslim-majority Himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir. Since 1947, the state has officially been a part of India with special status. However, recently, the Prime Minister of India took this special status away by presidential decree. Many Muslim Kashmiris are very upset about this decision and how it was made, but others consider it a positive development. Listen to learn more about the conflict surrounding this change.
September 15, 2019
Listen to hear about how someone who stole ketchup from a restaurant felt guilty enough to make amends.
September 14, 2019
In Newark, New Jersey, and other places like Flint, Michigan, the water that comes out of the tap is no longer safe to drink. Lead that was used to prevent old pipes from rusting has now contaminated it. Listen to hear more about how this water crisis is affecting people’s daily lives and how New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is trying to change the law and use state funds to replace Newark’s old water pipes.
September 13, 2019
Congress recently held a hearing to consider how technology companies might be endangering the news industry and threatening democracy. Some newspaper publishers argue that online platforms like Google and Facebook unfairly threaten their existence and are controlling public access to information. Some technology executives say this is not the case, suggesting that the news media are not keeping up with innovative competition. In order to resolve this issue, lawmakers have proposed a bill with bipartisan support. Listen to learn more and then debate: Are online platforms threatening democracy?
September 12, 2019
Dr. Ayaz Virji moved to Dawson, Minnesota to help fill a need for doctors in rural America. At first, all was well, but during the 2016 election, the climate began to shift. As a Muslim, he no longer felt as welcome in Dawson, and he regularly faced discrimination. Virji decided to take action to help his community and others like it better understand and tolerate his faith and has since written a book about his experiences. Listen to hear Dr. Virji’s story and learn about his plans for the future.
September 11, 2019
When a vacant lot in Sacramento was up for sale, one neighbor had an idea for what it could become. She envisioned an urban farm, so she bought the lot and invited a local nonprofit group to help turn it into an “edible art garden” after gathering input from other community members. Listen to learn what this once bare lot looks like today and how it benefits the neighborhood surrounding it.
September 10, 2019
Southern California recently experienced several large earthquakes. Fortunately, the damage caused by these events was minimal, and mostly confined to the desert, where fewer people live and work. However, some experts are concerned about what might happen if a severe earthquake occurred in urban Los Angeles, for example, where the potential damage to infrastructure could cause major problems. Listen to learn how Californians should prepare for a future major earthquake.
September 9, 2019
Fires are raging in the Amazon rainforest at an unusually high rate. The flames are destroying hundreds of acres of forest, killing wildlife, and spreading smoke across thousands of miles. Scientists are concerned that, since trees take in carbon dioxide from the air, the loss of so much forest could speed up climate change. Some environmentalists argue that this is a man-made disaster, caused by intentional deforestation. Listen to learn more about the enormous scale of the fires burning in the Amazon rainforest and the ongoing debate about who is responsible.
September 6, 2019
FaceApp allows people to modify photos to change their appearances, trying out different hairstyles or even seeing what they may look like decades from now. While the app is fun and silly, some political leaders have warned against using it due to privacy issues related to its facial recognition capabilities. However, a technology writer argues that FaceApp is no more dangerous than many other social media applications. Listen to learn more and then debate: Should facial recognition apps cause concern?
September 5, 2019
Renewable energy sources like solar power can help protect the environment and lower people’s electricity bills. Unfortunately, not everyone is benefitting equally from alternative energy sources and the technologies that harness them. One African-American solar technology professional is trying to reverse this trend. Listen to learn how he is bringing renewable energy to communities of color in Nashville and why this goal is so important to him.
September 4, 2019
In order to prevent the California condor from going extinct, conservationists created a captive breeding program for the unique bird species. In the 1980s, they began gathering all the remaining California condors, breeding them, and releasing their offspring into the wild. Listen to learn more about “chick number 1000” and find out why one scientist thinks California condors are among the most remarkable birds in the world.
September 3, 2019
Women make up 14% of the U.S. military. In an effort to interest more girls in the military and national security, the non-profit group Girl Security invited a group of young women to play a “war game.” In this exercise, the girls had to role-play two sides in a difficult and complex military conflict. Listen to learn how they played the game and how the experience affected them.
August 30, 2019
It’s been 50 years since man first walked on the moon. Now, decades later, NASA is working on sending a manned spacecraft back to the moon. This time, however, the trip to the moon is part of a larger plan: getting man to Mars. However, NASA will need bipartisan political support to make their goals a reality, and some have dismissed this mission as unnecessary. Listen to learn how and why NASA plans to send astronauts to the moon and beyond and then debate: Should we send astronauts to the moon again?
August 29, 2019
Last winter, when the U.S. government shut down for 34 days, hundreds of thousands of workers were furloughed. This meant that these employees were suspended from work and did not receive their regular paychecks. In order to deal with this difficult circumstance, two sisters decided to start their own business making cheesecakes. Listen to learn how they made enough money to get through the holidays and create a successful new business.
August 28, 2019
Many decades ago, children from poor families participated in an early childhood educational program known as the Perry Preschool Project aimed at improving the children’s academic achievement. While the program did not have the effect that the researchers anticipated, it did have a positive impact on their lives and on future generations. Listen to learn about the long-term effects of the Perry Preschool Project and how this study may shift the way we prepare students for success.
August 27, 2019
The Gaza Strip is a Palestinian territory that shares a border with Egypt. In the ongoing conflict between Israel and the the militant Palestinian organization Hamas, this region has been subjected to many attacks, blockades, and power struggles. With the economy suffering and violence escalating, many people who live in Gaza want to leave. Listen to hear stories of people who have decided to leave their home and learn how the departure of so many is affecting Gaza.
August 26, 2019
A man recently shot and killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Just before he committed this terrorist act, he posted a manifesto describing his motivations in an online forum called 8chan. Two other mass shooters also published their intentions on 8chan before their attacks this year. Listen to learn more about the role digital technology can play in extremist violence and the consequences 8chan has faced since the El Paso shooting.
August 23, 2019
Should some animals be considered “persons”? One lawyer is working to classify certain animals as “persons” so they can be protected under the law. Specifically, the lawyer wants to send three elephants from the “Big E” fair in New England to a sanctuary, where they will no longer have to give rides to customers. The fair owner disagrees and wants to keep the animals. Listen to hear the arguments on both sides of this complex animal rights issue and then debate: Should elephants be considered property?
August 22, 2019
Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry. These short poems traditionally describe impressions of nature. Haiku are quite popular among poets with a wide range of experience. Listen to hear some examples of modern haiku-inspired poetry and find out why one author says, “if you want to write something perfect, write a haiku.”
August 21, 2019
Many California immigrants become their own bosses. For example, one immigrant from Thailand started a Thai food business that will likely be expanding very soon. Experts note that there are some good reasons why immigrants are likely to become entrepreneurs. Listen to learn the causes behind this Californian trend and hear more of one immigrant’s story.
August 20, 2019
In 1969, a police raid of a bar frequented by homosexuals called the Stonewall Inn, led to a riot. The bar’s patrons began protesting and reacting violently to discrimination and harassment by the police, who regularly targeted gay bars. About ten years later, the HIV/AIDS epidemic began. This deadly auto-immune disease disproportionately affected gay men, and therefore was essentially ignored by doctors and lawmakers, leading the gay community once again to turn to activism. Listen to learn how the Stonewall riots influenced the fight against AIDS.
August 19, 2019
Boris Johnson was recently elected the new prime minister of the United Kingdom. His first challenge will be to withdraw Britain from the European Union, which is required under a referendum voted by a slim majority of citizens in 2016. This is a difficult and controversial issue, commonly referred to as “Brexit.” Johnson is a distinctive and divisive figure. Some British citizens like and believe in him, while others find him unlikable, incompetent, and even dangerous. Listen to learn more about this new British leader and what he promises to do as prime minister.
August 16, 2019
YouTube has started removing videos containing extremist content promoting white supremacy. Some people and organizations support this policy as a way to make social media platforms safer. Others point out that the system for removing videos is imperfect, and this policy could interfere with video creators’ right to freely express themselves. Listen to learn more about YouTube’s new restrictions and then debate: Should YouTube remove extremist videos?
August 15, 2019
Has a dog ever given you “puppy eyes”? If so, you probably did whatever your furry friend wanted. According to a recent study, “puppy eyes” result from thousands of years of evolution impacted by the relationship between humans and dogs. This distinctive expression comes from a specific muscle and creates unique effects that help dogs become “man’s best friend.” Listen to learn more about why “puppy eyes” are so powerful and how studying dogs can help humans learn more about themselves.
August 14, 2019
As India produces more and more garbage, giant mountains of trash are growing around its cities. The mountain of waste in New Delhi is nearly as tall as the world famous Taj Mahal. This creates an awful smell and a variety of safety issues, but some poorer Indians have also used it as an opportunity to create their own waste-based businesses. Listen to learn more about how these entrepreneurs turn trash into treasure and the risks they take in mining these man-made garbage mountains.
August 13, 2019
Retired Supreme Court Justice Paul Stevens recently died at the age of 99. Appointed in 1975, he served on the Supreme Court for decades. He authored numerous important majority opinions for the court and helped to decide many significant cases, even through difficult times and political changes. Listen to learn more about the judicial legacy of Supreme Court Justice Stevens.
August 12, 2019
“Are you a U.S. citizen?” The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot include that question on the 2020 census, even though the Trump administration wanted to add it. However, the administration is still trying to get as much citizenship data as possible, and the controversy over whether to add this question could still affect the way undocumented immigrants answer the census. Listen to hear about the controversy over adding a citizenship question to the census and where it stands.
August 9, 2019
AirDrop allows people with iPhones to share pictures and other media with others who are located near them through Bluetooth technology. This means that sometimes, people receive photos or memes on their phones from strangers. While AirDrop offers a convenient way to share files, and many teenagers are having fun with it, some use it in ways that could be harmful. Listen to learn about “AirDrop crossfire” and other uses of the technology and then debate: Do the risks of AirDrop outweigh the benefits?
August 8, 2019
Have you ever wondered how far humans can push themselves physically? A scientist recently conducted a study to help answer this question. He studied athletes who ran six marathons a week for months to learn about what determines their capacity to expend energy over time. Listen to find out more about what researchers understand about human endurance and hear one scientist’s surprising take on what constitutes the height of human capability.
August 7, 2019
One of the first female U.S. Navy pilots and the first woman air squadron commander recently died. Rosemary Mariner entered the U.S. Navy in the 1970s and rose through the ranks to become a great leader. She inspired many friends and colleagues with her strength of character, her intelligence, and her respectful and supportive attitude. Listen to learn about the effect Rosemary Mariner had on one of her fellow women aviators and on the world at large.