TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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May 19, 2017
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus have announced they will close after 146 years in the circus business because of high operating costs and low ticket sales. However, at the New England Center for Circus Arts, performers are still training to become performers. With the most well-known institution of the American circus industry shutting down, it is up to the new generation of performers to redefine the circus’ place in American culture. Listen to learn more about how young performers thinking about the future of the circus, and then debate whether the circus will survive.
May 18, 2017
There is a push in the comics industry to introduce characters that are diverse in race, gender, and sexual orientation. A large motivator for this change is the belief that children from diverse backgrounds deserve to see people in heroic roles that look like them and/or share their gender or sexual orientation. As a result, major comic publishers, such as Marvel, are introducing more characters that are people of color, female, and LGBTQ. Listen to learn more about the growing diversity in comic book characters and the controversies surrounding it.
May 17, 2017
President Donald Trump has made frequent trips to his Palm Beach resort to get away for the weekend or host foreign officials on official business. Each one of these visits is estimated to cost the U.S. government about $1 million for operating Air Force One, lodging Secret Service agents, and reimbursing local police. At this rate, President Trump is on course to surpass all eight years of Obama’s travel costs in a single year. Listen to learn more about presidential travel costs.
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump has fired FBI director James Comey. The reason given by President Trump was that Comey “wasn’t doing a good job”. However, Comey was also in the middle of an investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. elections and possible collusion between Trump and Russia, which many believe to be the actual motivation for his firing. Listen to learn more about President Trump’s decision to fire Comey and the future of the investigation into Russia.
May 15, 2017
Centrist politician Emmanuel Macron has won the presidential election in France, defeating far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. He now faces the challenge of unifying his movement into a political party, winning seats in parliament, and running a deeply divided country despite his limited experience in government. Listen to learn more about Macron, the challenges he faces as president, and the political divisions in France.
May 12, 2017
The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, is in the process of trying to repeal regulations on internet service providers, known as net neutrality rules. The basic principle of net neutrality is that internet service providers should not be allowed to block or slow access to any websites, apps or other services. And service providers such as Comcast and Verizon should not be able to charge companies for faster access. Currently, internet providers are required to treat every website equally. Listen to learn more about net neutrality and the FCC’s plans to roll back internet regulations and then debate: Should all websites be treated equally on the internet?
May 11, 2017
NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson has just broken the record for the most days spent in space. She has been off planet Earth longer than any other American in history. Whitson is also the first woman to command the International Space Station. President Donald Trump congratulated her in a call to the Space Station and she sent a message to young people. Listen to learn more about Whitson and her historic record.
May 10, 2017
It has been 25 years since riots in Los Angeles left more than 50 people dead and lead to around 6,000 arrests and roughly $1 billion in property damage. Despite a massive campaign to invest in rebuilding the city, L.A. has still not been completely repaired to where it was before the riots. In the aftermath of the destruction, many hoped that the “Rebuild L.A.” campaign would lead to stronger communities with more black-owned businesses. However, Rebuild L.A. is seen by many as a failure. Listen to learn more about the legacy of the L.A. riots and how these communities are still dealing with the aftermath.
May 9, 2017
The number of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is growing in the United States. Unfortunately, many individuals with autism struggle to find work. In fact, 40% of people with autism are unemployed. As people with autism enter adulthood, they lose a lot of their services and many struggle through socially challenging one-on-one interviews. However, some corporations are creating recruiting and training programs in an effort to employ people with autism. Listen to learn more about the challenges faced by people with autism as well as the unique strengths that they bring to the workplace.
May 8, 2017
Recently, severe weather struck Texas, the South, and the Midwest bringing thunderstorms, tornadoes, and floods that led to multiple deaths. The storms killed 15 people in East Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Mississippi and caused the rivers in Missouri to swell to levels not seen in a century. Listen to learn more about the human impact of this extreme weather.
May 5, 2017
Scientists say that in the future they will be able to make modifications to human DNA that can be passed down to subsequent generations. These same scientists say that such genetic modifications should only occur in cases of serious disease or disability and must be tightly regulated. However, there is fear around the idea of scientists altering the course of evolution and creating “genetically superior” humans. Listen to learn more about developments in genetic modification and debate: Should we make changes to human DNA?
May 4, 2017
In 1967, Kathrine Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as an official entrant. Up until her entry, the race was a men’s-only event, and not many people thought women could run a marathon. The race director tried to pull off her official racing bib, but she finished the marathon. Now, in 2017, the 70-year-old runner competed in the race a second time. Listen to learn more about Switzer’s experience as the first woman to run the Boston Marathon and her outlook as she trains to run again.
May 3, 2017
President Donald Trump has reached 100 days in office, and he is beginning to feel the pressure to make good on his campaign promises. President Trump has promised to unveil a “phenomenal” tax reform, and as a result, investors are cautious as they wait to see if the tax reform is passed. Many are also curious about the federal budget and concerned about some of Trump’s plans, such as cutting federal aid. Listen to learn more about President Trump’s economic policies in his first 100 days.
May 2, 2017
A female baby mountain lion has been found in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Mountain lions in the recreation area are very isolated as the park is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, agricultural fields, and greater Los Angeles. Therefore, scientists believe that the baby mountain lion is likely a product of inbreeding among related lions with limited mating choices. This could lead to genetic defects and abnormalities in the mountain lions. Listen to learn more about the newborn mountain lion and the concerns about mountain lion inbreeding.
May 1, 2017
British Prime Minister Theresa May has called for early national elections in the U.K. to take place in June. The move is an attempt on her part to beat her Labor Party opposition and secure political support for Brexit negotiations, which would withdraw the U.K. from the European Union. May hopes to gain a stronger majority in Parliament in order to advance Brexit as well as other domestic reforms. Listen to learn more about the British Prime Minister’s decision and its possible impact.
April 28, 2017
The sculpture ‘Fearless Girl,’ is the name given to a statue that was placed directly in front of the famous Wall Street Bull statue. The statue depicts the girl putting her hands on her hips and staring down the bull, symbolizing female possibility. However, many feel the statue is an empty gesture and that it is condescending to represent womanhood with a cute young girl. Some think it changes the meaning of the bull from a symbol of strength to a symbol of a villain. Listen to learn more about the statue’s impact as well as the controversy surrounding it, then debate whether the meaning of art can be changed.
April 27, 2017
Student reporters for a Kansas high school paper uncovered that their new principal put misleading credentials on her resume. As a result of this investigation, the principal has been forced to resign. Now, journalists around the country are praising these student reporters for their detailed and conscientious investigation. Listen to learn more about the controversy and the investigative work of these high school students.
April 26, 2017
A team of neuroscientists is working on studying how the brain reacts when we tell lies. What they found is that as one tells more lies, each progressive lie shows less brain activity associated with conscience or guilt. This means that being dishonest becomes easier overtime. However, facing negative consequences as a result of lying will cause the brain to react and discourage lying. Listen to learn more about the brain science behind lying.
April 25, 2017
In the last few months, many refugees have crossed illegally from the United States into Canada. Refugees who cross the border this way are violating the Safe Third Country Agreement. This agreement says people must take refuge in the country where they first arrive. However, refugees are so unsure of their future in the U.S. that many are willing to enter Canada illegally because they know if their papers and background checks are cleared, they will be allowed to apply for asylum. Listen to learn more about how and why refugees are crossing illegally into Canada.
April 24, 2017
During his trip to South Korea, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea against testing the “strength of the Armed Forces of the United States”. The warning came a day after a failed ballistic missile test in North Korea. Pence also described the U.S. alliance with South Korea as “ironclad” and “immutable”. Listen to learn more about how the Trump administration is taking a more aggressive stance against North Korea.
April 21, 2017
In India, only 2% of citizens pay income taxes. There are many reasons for this, including that a large number of Indians do not meet the minimum salary for taxation. But there are loopholes in income reporting, and there is a cultural belief that the government is not using taxes to help the people, so many people just don’t pay. In India, unlike in America, the government doesn’t run large social welfare programs like Social Security, so Indians avoid paying taxes even if it’s illegal. Listen to this story and then debate: Should citizens pay taxes? Why or why not?
April 20, 2017
Women on sports teams make significantly less money than their male counterparts. USA Hockey dedicates fewer resources to the growth of women's hockey and provides less support. The U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team threatened to boycott the world championship unless their financial support was increased. They reached an agreement last month with USA Hockey, promising to increase the salaries of the female athletes. Listen to hear more about this historic agreement.
April 19, 2017
African-American artist Kerry James Marshall has made it his life goal to make black culture “indispensable” and “undeniable” to the art world. Marshall has dedicated his career to painting black subjects and depicting African-American experience through art. He hopes that in showing his work in major museums, he is combatting the historical underrepresentation of black culture in history. Listen to learn more about the artist Kerry James Marshall and his views on black culture in the art world.
April 18, 2017
Often, after a tragedy, rumors and false news stories about the event spread on the Internet. Many of these fake news stories promote the idea that the government is making up these events in order to advance its own secret goals. The motivation for spreading fake news ranges from real beliefs in conspiracy theories to drawing in more website traffic to undermining mainstream media for political gains. Listen to learn more about how fake news spreads and why.
April 17, 2017
On Thursday, April 6, President Donald Trump authorized airstrikes against Syrian military infrastructure targets in response to an apparent chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad. Now, Congressional leaders are asking Trump to outline his broader strategy for dealing with the Middle East conflict. Among their questions are how Trump plans to defeat the Islamic state, or ISIS, and how he will deal with Assad’s regime in Syria without creating a failed state. Listen to hear more about the challenges of creating a broader Syrian strategy.
April 14, 2017
The U.S. Census Bureau is set to announce the proposed questions for the 2020 census. Many are concerned that under the Trump administration, Latinos will be less likely to respond for fear that immigration enforcement will use their answers against the Latino community. As a result, these communities may be undercounted, leading to less political representation and federal funding for these areas. Listen to learn more about the concerns around the politicization of the U.S. Census.
April 13, 2017
Southwestern Pennsylvania is coal country, though most of the mining and steel jobs are long gone. A reporter talked with a father and daughter who have very different outlooks on life. The father is skeptical about climate change. His daughter is in college with plans to be an engineer and work on environmental issues. Their first conversation about climate change happened a year ago and was revisited recently. Listen to hear the common ground and differences in opinion between this father and daughter.
April 12, 2017
Vermont-based Keurig Green Mountain, a coffee company, makes K-cup pods for single coffee servings. They are now trying to solve the problem of the waste created by these pods. The hot beverage machines are so popular they have created a recycling problem because there are now billions of used plastic cups that are not recyclable. Keurig has pledged to make all K-Cups recyclable by 2020, which is a big challenge. Once a recyclable material is found for the cups, there is also the issue of sorting them at recycling facilities. Listen to hear more about the challenges of meeting this promise to recycle K-Cups.
April 11, 2017
In Jerusalem, a team has restored the shrine that is believed to hold the tomb of Jesus Christ. The team cleaned and reinforced the shrine, called the Edicule, located in Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians believe that the Edicule houses the cave where Jesus was buried and then was resurrected. Listen to learn more about the Edicule and the effort to restore it.
April 10, 2017
In an historic move, Democrats filibustered, or blocked, the appointment of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. This move is significant because neither party has ever tried to block a vote on a Supreme Court nominee in this way. A few days after this story aired, Senate Republicans, the majority party, voted to change the rules of the Senate to block future filibusters on Supreme Court candidates by lowering the number of votes needed to approve a nominee. Listen to learn more about how this could affect the future of the Senate.
Note: On 4/6/17, the Senate successfully voted to change Senate rules to allow the confirmation of Gorsuch and all other Supreme Court nominees by a majority vote. On 4/7/17 the Senate voted to confirm Gorsuch with 54 votes, the lowest in history.
April 7, 2017
There is a debate going on in Massachusetts about whether people should have the right to seek medical aid in ending their own life if they are suffering from a terminal illness. An “end-of-life” measure did not pass in Massachusetts in 2012. Now, the debate has been reopened because a retired doctor with terminal cancer is suing the state so he can be allowed to seek medical aid in dying. Part of the debate centers around the question of whether courts should be in charge of end-of-life cases or if the legislature should create a law addressing the issue. Listen to learn more about the legality of giving medical aid in dying.
April 6, 2017
Not only is the peanut butter and jelly sandwich a classic American comfort food, it is also a wildly popular snack in the National Basketball Association. The tradition of PB&J sandwiches in the NBA is believed to have started when Celtics star Kevin Garnett asked for one before a game. Garnett played well and asked that PB&J’s be provided before every game. Although it is not the most nutritious snack, PB&J makes players feel relaxed and happy when they are stressed out on the road. Listen to learn more about the PB&J fad in the NBA and the unique preferences of various teams and players.
April 5, 2017
Traditionally, medical animal testing has been conducted primarily on male subjects. Several reasons have been cited, such as complications in pregnant animals and difficulties creating controlled experiments for both genders. Now, the National Institutes of Health is requiring the studies it funds to test male and female subjects. This new requirement is a response to inequalities in health outcomes between men and women. Many researchers believe that the higher incidence of negative reactions to medication found in women is a result of the gender bias in the testing phase. Listen to learn more about gender bias in animal testing.
April 4, 2017
Since the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011, the neighboring country of Jordan has taken in more than 650,000 Syrian refugees. Many of these refugees were farmers in Syria and are leaving behind their ancestral land. Only one in 10 Syrian refugees in Jordan live in camps, the rest live mostly in cities. For farmers, city and camp life is a difficult transition, so many gravitate towards farms in Jordan where they live and work as migrant laborers. Listen to learn more about Syrian farmers living in Jordan and the effect of migration on their families.
April 3, 2017
Thousands of Russians took to the streets this week in Moscow and other cities to demand the resignation of Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev. Ten thousand people showed up to protest in St. Petersburg and about 20,000 people joined protests in Moscow, making this the largest anti-government protest the country has seen in years. Anti-corruption activist and government opposition leader Alexei Navalny organized the nationwide protests after publishing an investigation that alleged serious corruption charges against the prime minister. Listen to learn more about the mass protests and the motivations behind them.
March 31, 2017
Howard Zinn is best known for his book, “The People’s History of the United States” in which he reveals the United States’ long history of war, invasion, and human rights violations. A lawmaker in Arkansas has introduced a bill to ban the writings of historian Howard Zinn from schools in the state. Some people view Zinn’s work as an important insight into the negative aspects of U.S. history, while critics say that it is anti-American. Listen to hear more about Zinn’s perspective on United States history and an Arkansas educator’s views on the proposal to ban Zinn’s books from schools. Listen and then debate with your students: Should some books be banned?
March 30, 2017
Researchers have completed a study that documents the environmental impact of producing a loaf of bread. They determined the amount of greenhouse gas emissions at each stage of bread production—from wheat farming to transportation—and added up the total. They found that 2.6 million tons of greenhouse gases are emitted each year in the U.K. as a result of bread production. The study’s authors hope the findings will lead to more efficient and sustainable production methods. Listen to learn more about the environmental footprint of a loaf of bread and how consumers can help make a difference.
March 29, 2017
During Women’s History Month, we celebrate the accomplishments of women who have made change in the world. Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese politician, diplomat and author who shaped the opposition of Myanmar, also known as Burma, is one such leader. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 because of her opposition to the military dictatorship. But she was unable to leave Burma to accept the prize because she was under house arrest. In 2012 she was freed from house arrest and gave her Nobel prize acceptance speech. Listen to this story about her speech accepting the Nobel Prize and learn more about Suu Kyi’s legacy that led to her to win the award.
March 28, 2017
The latest research shows that humans are the leading cause of wildfires in the United States. As global warming leads to longer fire seasons and larger wildfires, human activity is causing wildfires to happen at times of the year when they would not be happening naturally. Human activity has also extended the normal fire season in the U.S. by three months, and ecologists worry that without action taken on this issue, wildfires will become even larger and more frequent. Listen to learn more about humans’ role in increasing wildfires, and what ecologists believe must be done to reverse this trend.
March 27, 2017
The results of the 2017 World Happiness Report are in, and Norway is at the top of the list as the happiest country in the world. As one might imagine, developing countries show some of the lowest rates of happiness, but some low- and middle-income countries such as Nicaragua are showing encouraging gains. Interestingly, the United States has dropped from 13th to 14th place on the list, which the World Happiness Report attributes to declining social support. Listen to learn more about the findings and what factors support happiness around the world.