TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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April 27, 2018
Youth organizers want the voting age lowered to 16. There have been some successes and some setbacks in this effort. People who want to keep the voting age at 18 cite issues with maturity and think this might support Democrats only, however 50 percent of millennials self-identify as political independents. Other say that many issues affect 16 and 17 year olds, so they should be allowed to vote on them. Listen to hear from a youth advisory board member for Vote16USA and then debate: Should the voting age be lowered?
April 26, 2018
The shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man killed by police in Sacramento, California, sparked outrage and demands for police reform. In Sacramento there is a call to rebuild communities of color. Stephon’s brother, Ste’Vante Clark is part of a group of new activists, called Build. Black. Coalition. They want to lessen the disparity around education, job opportunity, and housing, which affects the people living in predominantly black neighborhoods. Listen to hear more about how this tragic event is sparking activism to try to transform black communities.
April 25, 2018
In 1967, President Johnson addressed the nation after five days of rioting that was motivated by racial inequality in Detroit. Johnson announced a commission on civil disorders, which would attempt to explain why so many of the country’s cities erupted in riots. The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, called "The Kerner Report," determined that white racism and the black frustration at lack of economic opportunity was the cause of the riots. Many people at the time disagreed with the conclusions. Listen to learn more about the Kerner Report and what this report can tell us about racial tensions today.
April 24, 2018
Refugees arriving in the United States typically get 3 months of government funded support. It’s often not enough time to adjust and learn everything from navigating the medical system to finding transportation and a job. One teacher in Virginia started a non-profit to connect refugees with people in the community to help them adjust to a new country and culture. Listen to hear more about this program.
April 23, 2018
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before both houses of Congress about how the social media giant protects the privacy of its users. He was questioned about how the political data mining firm, Cambridge Analytica, obtained data from millions of Facebook users. Zuckerberg was forced to acknowledge that Facebook extensively tracks users when they are using the site and when they are not even logged in. Several members of Congress asked whether Zuckerberg thought Facebook should be regulated. Listen to hear more about Zuckerberg’s statements in his testimony before Congress.
April 20, 2018
New technology can help athletes gain a deeper understanding of how their bodies work. By submitting their DNA, athletes can see the results of their genetic fitness assessment. This can help athletes personalize their training routine, gain information about their ability to build muscle, or find out how prone they are to joint injuries. The results are organized in categories to let people know what they need to work on. Listen to learn more about this new technology and then debate: Should DNA determine the sport you play?
April 19, 2018
Only about 50 percent of adolescents with depression get diagnosed before reaching adulthood and as many as 2 in 3 depressed teens don't get the care that could help them. The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued guidelines that call for universal screening for depression. They suggest that all teens over the age of 12 be screened during a visit to their doctor’s office. Listen to hear more about the effort to identify teens with depression.
April 18, 2018
Fifty years ago Martin Luther King, Jr. flew to Memphis to support sanitation workers during a strike. In 1968 the working conditions were so dangerous for trash collectors that two men were killed on the job. The workers organized to demand better working conditions and higher pay. In a climate of racism they demanded to be treated with humanity and respect as men. When King traveled to Memphis, he was assassinated. Listen to this story to hear how Memphis has changed in the last 50 years.
April 17, 2018
A group of Dallas teens are learning history on their spring break. They are taking a civil rights tour from Dallas to Brownsville, Texas and places in-between to learn more about Mexican-American history. Students are watching traditional Aztec dances, learning about community responsibility, and hearing from Mexican-American activists. Listen to hear more about this program and how it’s inspiring students to learn about and be proud of their history.
April 16, 2018
President Trump and President Xi Jinpin of China have said they are going to impose taxes on imports and exports from each others’ countries. Because China is imposing its own tariffs in response, American businesses and consumers may see cost increases. The tariff dispute has created concern that this might escalate into a trade war. Listen to hear more about the promised changes in trade between the United States and China.
April 13, 2018
A new report has highlighted that the National Rifle Association (NRA) has financial connections to hundreds of American schools. The NRA Foundation spends millions funding school clubs and organizations for students both in school and after school. Since the mass shooting at a high school in Florida, some schools have stopped taking these funds and are sending back equipment from the NRA. Listen to this story and then debate: Should schools refuse money from the NRA?
April 12, 2018
April is National Poetry Month. To kick off the month, professor and U.S. Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith, discusses writing poetry and what inspires her. She believes poetry helps us be more introspective, especially in this era of information overload with technology. Listen to hear more about poetry and writing from this Poet Laureate.
April 11, 2018
In Sacramento, California, a new program was started to help refugees and immigrants understand their legal rights. The “Understanding Your RIghts” program was sparked by an increase in refugee groups moving into the area, and a need to educate these newly arrived people of their rights. Listen to hear more about this new program that will help people understand the laws in the United States.
April 10, 2018
In the United States during the era of slavery, it was illegal for all African Americans, enslaved and free, to learn to read and write. But in 1863 the first school for freed slaves opened and by the end of the 19th century, black colleges supported civil rights activism and helped redefine what it meant to be black in America. A new documentary tells about the history of black colleges and the goals of these educational institutions. Listen to this story to hear more about the creation and development of historically black colleges and universities.
April 9, 2018
Every ten years the U.S. Census Bureau aims to count every person living in the United States. Data from the census directly affects how billions of dollars in federal and state aid is given to local and state governments. The next census is on April 1, 2020, and the questions have been approved and released. Included in this census is the question: Is this person a citizen of the United States? Some states have fears about how this question will affect the response rate, and then affect their state budgets. Listen to hear more about the changes to the 2020 census questions.
April 6, 2018
Uber, a ride-sharing company, has expanded into new areas such as self-driving cars and food delivery. A self-driving car operated by Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. It was the first pedestrian death involving a vehicle that was self-driving. There was a driver in the car in case of an emergency, however the accident was not avoided. Listen to hear how this accident might affect new laws related to safety and self-driving cars, as well as the factors involved in this tragic accident and then debate: Are self-driving cars safe?
April 5, 2018
NASA scientists now know more about how space travel affects the human body. They were able to study the genes of identical twins. One who went into space for a year and one who stayed on Earth. Since they share the same DNA profile, scientists had a chance to study changes to their bodies as well as changes to their DNA. The study showed that genes do change in space and remain changed even months after returning to Earth. Listen to learn more about how space travel can change human DNA.
April 4, 2018
Since 1985, women in Iran have been required by the Islamic Republic to wear a headscarf called a hijab in public, regardless of their religious beliefs. Today Iranian women are protesting this mandatory law. Police have arrested 29 women for publicly protesting the veil covering. This silent protest includes women taking off their headscarves and holding them on sticks in silent protest. Listen to hear more about this protest and its effects.
April 3, 2018
The Trump administration designated March 5, 2018 as the last day that recipients of DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, could apply to renew their status. But the fate of these young people is still uncertain as Congress hasn’t reached a compromise on this issue. One DACA recipient is a woman who graduated from college and is supporting her family on her teacher’s salary. But her younger sister is not protected by DACA. Listen to this story to learn more about the effects of the government’s decision not to accept new DACA applications.
April 2, 2018
Sparked by outrage over the Parkland, Florida school shooting, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marched in Washington, D.C. to demand gun regulation in an event called "March for Our Lives." It was one of the biggest rallies for gun control ever and over a million people marched in cities across America and around the globe. The survivors of the Parkland shooting helped organize the events and spoke at several rallies. Listen to hear the reactions of people who attended the rally to push for changes in gun laws.
March 30, 2018
For the last few decades, the most prominent toy store in the United States was Toys R Us. Recently this toy store announced that it would lay off its remaining 33,000 employees, declare bankruptcy, and close its doors. People are reacting with nostalgia for these stores and discussing how shopping experiences have changed. Listen to the reactions of these people to the closing of Toys R Us stores and debate: Are toy stores necessary?
March 29, 2018
During the eight-day Jewish holiday of Passover, observant Jews follow a set of kosher laws. Kosher food refers to the types of food and ways of preparing food that follow Biblical laws. Orthodox Jews follow these religious laws very closely and do not eat or drink what is not kosher. During Passover, observant Jews do not eat leavened products and during the Passover Seder meals, and they drink the ‘fruit of the vine” or grape juice as an important part of the observance. There is currently some competition for Orthodox shoppers in the grape juice business. Listen to hear more about Passover and the market for grape juice.
March 28, 2018
Stephen Hawking was considered by many to be the greatest scientist of his generation. He was brilliant and funny and authored a best selling book titled “A Brief History of Time.” He had ALS, a disease that led to his paralysis. But he was able to overcome his adversity and do great work as a scientist by using a speech-generating device with the muscles in his cheek. As a theoretical physicist, his work explored the mysteries of the universe and black holes and inspired millions of people. Listen to this story about Stephen Hawking’s life and accomplishments.
March 27, 2018
The Trump administration imposed new sanctions on 19 Russians over their alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Many were also a part of the indictments issued as part of Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian interference in the election. Also sanctioned was the Internet Research Agency, which created fake news and made up Twitter accounts to look like Americans to spread disinformation during the campaign. Listen to hear more about these sanctions and what they might lead to in the future.
March 26, 2018
Across the country students walked out of their classrooms to protest the mass shooting that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL and called for stricter gun laws. The protest was 17 minutes long in honor of each person killed during the shooting. There was another protest on March 24 in Washington D.C. and cities across the country called March for Our Lives, which aimed to end gun violence and mass shootings. Listen to hear from students at a high school in Philadelphia during the walk out, and more about these protests.
March 23, 2018
President Trump met with governors at the White House to discuss gun policy and school safety. He wants to see more teachers armed, making sure they are appropriately trained and have the right skills. Some people think that would be a good defense against school shooters, but many teachers do not want to carry a weapon in the classroom. Listen to hear more about guns in schools and what might be done to keep students safe and then debate: Should teachers carry guns?
March 22, 2018
The Trump administration has proposed changing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. The plan would provide people with nonperishable foods that are chosen for them instead of fresh foods they choose themselves. Native Americans recognized this as the same type of food assistance they have historically received, with devastating impacts on their health. Listen to hear more about food assistance in the past and in the possible future.
March 21, 2018
The demand for convenience is creating problems on sidewalks in China, especially in its largest cities. Shared bikes and food delivery on scooters are causing clutter and congestion on sidewalks. In Shanghai, a city of 24 million people, shared bikes are left on the sidewalk, piled on top of each other. Food delivery scooters have no dedicated lanes in the street, so they speed through pedestrians on the sidewalk trying to make deliveries on time. With such limited walking space left on the sidewalk, people sometimes walk in the road which is dangerous. Listen to hear more about the problems the convenience economy has created in China.
March 20, 2018
Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1950. Her poetry and writing was well known by many African-Americans who read a paper called the Chicago Defender. After winning the Pulitzer Prize, her writing became known by white people as well. She influenced and inspired other writers such as Toni Morrison, and funded programs and prizes to encourage people to write poetry. Listen to this story about the life of Gwendolyn Brooks.
March 19, 2018
President Donald Trump has agreed to direct talks with Kim Jong Un, President of North Korea. Since Trump took office, the two leaders have called each other names and threatened each other’s countries. The United States has many nuclear weapons and North Korea has been developing missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads and could reach the U.S. This potentially historic meeting could lead to negotiations about nuclear disarmament. According to past experience, however, North Korea will be a tough negotiator. Listen to hear more about the goals for this potential meeting.
March 16, 2018
A false nuclear missile attack alert was recently sent to the phones of residents and visitors in Hawaii. It was sent by a state emergency management worker who believed the drill was a real attack. This has highlighted the disagreement over whose job it should be to warn the public about missile attacks. Federal officials would like the warning to come from local authorities, but there is legislation introduced to make the public warnings the sole responsibility of the federal government. Listen to hear more about this issue and then debate: Who should warn the public of nuclear war?
March 15, 2018
Money, secret deals, and big names in college basketball are involved in an ongoing federal investigation. Coaches, sneaker executives, and others are being investigated for bribery and fraud at the start of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, or March Madness. Ten men were arrested on a variety of charges including taking bribes and using money to place players in certain colleges. This illegal activity has been going on for decades and there are questions about whether these investigations will change the culture of men’s college basketball. Listen to learn more about these corruption charges.
March 14, 2018
Happy Pi Day! March 14 is celebrated in different ways in cities across the country. Pi, or 3.14, is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, and has been calculated to over one trillion digits. It was named for the Greek letter Pi, which corresponds with the letter ‘P’ which stands for the perimeter of the circle. Pi is an irrational number whose decimals continue infinitely, but it is also a delicious dessert. Listen to hear more about celebrating Pi Day.
March 13, 2018
One University professor is combining scholarship with an exploration of the Latino culture using the rich history of tacos. He uses food to connect his students to Mexican people and their narratives. Students travel to a taqueria to explore the food of Mexico, discussing history and culture to create understanding along with identifying misconceptions. Listen to hear this professor discuss questions of cultural appropriation and relationships to power as he teaches his students about Mexican culture using food.
March 12, 2018
There are double the number of women running for Congress in 2018 than there were in 2016. At latest count, 430 women may run for the U.S. House of Representatives nationwide and about 50 for the Senate. This year is on track to break records, with a very large majority of these women running as Democrats. Along with running for office, women are organizing, volunteering, and being more vocal about what is important to them. Listen to hear more about this trend of more women entering politics.
March 9, 2018
Firstborn children often have an advantage over their younger siblings. They get more attention from their parents because they are alone for the first months or years of their lives. But are they more successful? A new research study finds that firstborn sons are more likely to become CEOs. The research on birth order is interesting since some things can influence a person’s behavior, but a person’s fate is not determined solely by birth order. Listen to hear more about what this research study found and then debate: Does birth order matter?
March 8, 2018
Nellie Bly was a female reporter from Pittsburgh, PA in the late 1800s. Bly became famous for her daring reporting methods, such as pretending to be mentally ill in order to be committed to an insane asylum so she could write about the treatment of patients. Tired of writing “women’s stories” early in her career, Bly learned that she could get more attention and opportunities when she inserted herself into her stories. Listen to learn more about female pioneer Nellie Bly and her highly modern approach to journalism.
March 7, 2018
Voice-activated devices, such as Alexa and Google Home, always have their microphones on. They are passively listening until you say the “wake” word, but people are worried they are listening and recording every single thing that is said. The owners of the devices can go into the app to see a history of everything that is heard by the device. One concern is that this data could be used to look for evidence that could help to prosecute crimes, or be reviewed by the National Security Agency. Listen to this story to hear about the pros and cons of voice-activated devices and their impact on privacy.
March 6, 2018
Research on former players of the National Football League shows that brain injury is linked to repeated blunt impact. But little is known about the connection between football, brain damage, and young players. A scientist in Texas studied football players between 8 and 18 year old and measured how their brains changed after one season. They used sensors in football helmets to tell how hard the players were getting hit. Listen to hear the results of this study and suggestions for preventing these injuries.
March 5, 2018
In China, the president serves two five-year terms, according to its constitution. The Communist Party has now proposed changing the constitution and eliminating the term limits for presidents. China’s current leader, Xi Jinping may not retire after the standard 10 years in power. He also holds two other positions which outrank the presidency. He is the head of China’s Communist Party and the military. Listen to this story about the changes in term limits and discuss what this might mean for China.