TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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June 7, 2017
Chronic stress and lack of sleep seem to be the new normal for American teens. Most teens are not getting the 9-10 hours of sleep a night that their bodies require. As a result, some schools are purchasing nap pods—reclining chairs with a dome that blocks out light. The idea is that students can use the pods for 20-minute periods of rest and relaxation. These naps can boost memory and attention and help students perform throughout the day. Listen to learn more about the challenges facing modern teens and how nap pods can help.
June 6, 2017
Doctors around the world are worried about the threat of the global spread of bird flu, or avian influenza. In Hong Kong, scientists studying the virus are also concerned about how quickly the virus is evolving. The latest mutation of the virus is able to kill chickens in the lab within 24 hours. A leading scientist worries that a future mutation could be transmitted more quickly between humans, leading to a global pandemic. Listen to learn more about this research and the threat of bird flu.
June 5, 2017
General Manuel Noriega, the former dictator of Panama, has died at the age of 83. Noriega’s attacks on American citizens in Panama led to the 1989 U.S. invasion of the country that links Central America to South America. When President George H.W. Bush ordered the invasion, it was the largest U.S. military action since the Vietnam War. Noriega was ultimately ousted and sentenced to 40 years in prison in the U.S. for drug smuggling. Listen to learn more about Noriega’s life, his brutal rule, and his fall from power.
June 2, 2017
The mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana removed four Confederate statues from the city to ease controversy of how the city remembers the Civil War. He made a speech at the fourth and final removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Some saw these statues as symbols of white supremacy and of the systemic oppression of human beings, and some saw them as tributes to Confederate heroes. Listen to learn more about the statue removal in New Orleans and its place in the nationwide debate about the removal of symbols of the Civil War and then debate: Should Confederate statues from the past be removed?
June 1, 2017
After two decades in the major leagues, Red Sox legend David Ortiz has retired, and now he is releasing a memoir about his life and career. Throughout his career, David Ortiz, or “Big Papi”, hit 541 home runs and won three World Series championships with the Boston Red Sox. Listen to learn more about David Ortiz’s journey from his childhood in the Dominican Republic to major league baseball in the United States.
May 31, 2017
China is scheduled to host more than 400 marathons this year as part of the central government’s national campaign to boost tourism and promote exercise. During a period of slowed economic growth, more and more cities in China are signing up to hold marathons. However, the central government has also criticized runners for lack of health awareness and organizers for poor safety practices. Listen to learn more about the growing interest in marathons in China and how organizers are trying to improve the process.
May 30, 2017
Scientists have found a new bacteria in a cave 1,000 feet underground. The bacteria is resistant to 70% of antibiotics used to fight disease in humans. The fact that the bacteria is resistant to these antibiotics, despite never having been exposed to them, tells scientists that antibiotic resistance is genetically hardwired rather than developed as a result of exposure. Scientists are calling the bacteria a “hero bug” because it is not harmful to humans, and they hope that this new knowledge will lead to even more effective antibiotics. Listen to learn more about the “hero bug” and antibiotic resistance in bacteria.
May 29, 2017
On Monday, a suicide bombing took place at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England killing 22 people and injuring 59 others. Many of the victims were young people. The terrorist group ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing, and British Prime Minister Theresa May says that another terrorist attack may be imminent. Following the attack, thousands of Manchester residents attended a public vigil for victims. Listen to learn more about the victims and how residents of Manchester are coming together after this tragedy.
May 26, 2017
A fidget spinner has two or three paddle-shaped blades attached to a central core. Kids hold it by the core and flick the blades to make it spin. Fidget spinners are popular in elementary and middle schools. They can be an effective calming influence and can help some students concentrate. They can also become airborne and create distractions to others who are trying to focus. Teachers have to decide whether to allow or ban them in their classrooms. Listen and then debate: Should fidget spinners be allowed in classrooms?
May 25, 2017
Some high schools give special recognition to students who can speak and read in two languages. At graduation, these students receive a bi-literacy seal on their diplomas that recognizes not only test scores but also the value of learning two languages. This distinction shows appreciation for cultural perspectives and celebrates diversity, along with making these students ready to succeed in a global environment. Listen to learn more about this new movement to honor fluency in a second language.
May 24, 2017
As the economic crisis deepens and the political climate intensifies in Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro announced he’s creating an assembly of representatives to propose changes to the country’s constitution. While Maduro says it is an attempt to bring peace, opponents see it as a move towards dictatorship. Opponents took to the streets in the capital city of Caracas in protest, adding to other protests that have been going on for months. Listen to hear more about what this means for Venezuela's future.
May 23, 2017
The U.S. Deputy Attorney General appointed a special counsel, former FBI director Robert Mueller, to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The appointment comes after President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was investigating possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. In addition, the President reportedly asked Comey to drop the investigation into his former national security advisor. Listen to learn more about how this special counsel might impact the future of the Russian investigation.
May 22, 2017
A recent unprecedented global cyberattack was responsible for 75,000 different infections in more than 70 countries. The ransomware, which is a type of software that locks files and demands money to unlock them, took advantage of a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows. The worst of the attack is over, since a security researcher was able to effectively trigger a kill switch to stop the infection from spreading and Microsoft issued an emergency patch for its operating system. Listen to hear more about this cyberattack and what was learned.
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.