TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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December 1, 2017
Doctors faced an ethical dilemma recently in a case of conjoined twins. They had separate heads and torsos, but they were connected at the abdomen and the pelvis. They shared a liver and a bladder and other organs, and had just three legs in all. One of the twins had heart and lung disease so serious that she was likely to die soon, and as a result, her sister would die in the process. Listen to hear how doctors discussed what to do in this situation and then debate: Should doctors separate conjoined twins to save one of them?
November 30, 2017
The gap between rich and poor is one of the great concerns of modern times. It's even leading archaeologists to look more closely at wealth disparities in ancient societies. The rise of agriculture in the ancient world led to an unequal distribution of wealth, due to access to work animals and land. Scientists have discovered that the societies in the Americas were more egalitarian than those in Europe. Listen to hear more about how ancient societies can help us understand issues in society today.
November 29, 2017
When people don't get enough sleep, it can affect attention, reflexes, and communication. Even the reactions of people are different when they are well rested from when they are deprived of sleep. A group of scientists studying epilepsy also studied the effects of sleep deprivation. They learned that when people don’t sleep enough, certain brain cells literally slow down. Listen to hear more about how important sleep is to the way we process information.
November 28, 2017
India's most famous monument, the Taj Mahal, is an example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India's rich history. Now it is at the center of a bitter controversy. Hindu nationalists say the Muslim emperor who built India's iconic monument was a "traitor." The construction of the mausoleum was completed in the 1640s as a mausoleum for Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan’s favorite wife. Listen to hear about how India’s national pride along with religious ideas are contributing to this controversy.
November 27, 2017
China is currently the United States’ biggest source of imports and one of its top export markets. President Trump has promised to enforce U.S. trade laws and agreements and promote free and fair trade with China. President Trump recently met with China’s president, Xi Jinping, to discuss trade practices. But the trade relationship is still shaky. Another focus in the relationship with China is the rapid increase of Chinese investment in U.S. start up companies. Listen to learn about the realities of investments and trade between the U.S. and China.
November 22, 2017
A turkey at the Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Maryland is not worried about becoming Thanksgiving dinner. Instead this turkey will be the guest of honor at dinner. Every year hundreds of people who eat only vegan or vegetarian food gather to eat with the turkeys, pigs, sheep, and other farm animals at Thanksgiving time. And they let the animals eat first. With help from charitable donations, this sanctuary has over 200 animals and a full-time caretaker. Listen to hear more about this unusual feast at Thanksgiving.
November 21, 2017
Nearly 4,000 Vermont veterans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. Many veterans are still dealing with the invisible wounds of war. Some of them, however, have begun to find healing through farming. One veteran who is raising pigs and goats is enjoying his days with animals and says it changed the way he sees his life. Listen to hear more about this veteran’s experience and other stories about veterans who have begun farming as a way to recover from the events of war.
November 20, 2017
More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled from their homes in Myanmar, also known as Burma, into Bangladesh since the end of August to escape the violence from the Burmese military. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority in a majority Buddhist country, and the violence has been called “ethnic cleansing” by some. The Burmese government’s stance is that their actions are in response to the attacks by an armed group of Rohingya against the Burmese police. Listen to hear about this crisis and what the Burmese government and United States government are doing to help the Rohingya.
November 17, 2017
Like the United States, Germany is grappling with fake news and hate speech and what to do about it. Offenses are banned under law, but on the Internet what is fake and what is hate speech is not always clear. The German parliament recently passed a controversial law imposing big fines on social media companies that fail to remove illegal, racist or slanderous posts. German ministry officials are anticipating a large volume of complaints about censorship. Listen to this story about social media and offensive posts, and the debate: Should social media sites be fined for not removing fake news and hate speech?
November 16, 2017
The shape of measuring cups hasn’t changed for decades. But how they are shaped affects how accurate they are. That is the reason why a software engineer quit his job to redesign the measuring cup. He named his new company Euclid after a Greek Mathematician and began experimenting with shapes and formulas. Listen to this audio story to learn about the difficult journey to make-over a seemingly simple kitchen tool.
November 15, 2017
Women will soon be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. For decades the monarchy in Saudi Arabia forbid women from driving and other activities. Now the young crown prince has relaxed many restrictions on women as part of larger reforms in efforts to modernize the Middle Eastern country. There have been protests of the driving ban, including in 1990 when forty women drove the streets of the capital and lost their jobs. Listen to this story to hear more about the changes coming to Saudi Arabia.
November 14, 2017
A group of fathers in Texas wanted to be sure every student in their schools had a father figure. So they created a group called All Pro Dads. This group of volunteers now has 1,300 fathers who serve the school district. At every school there are dads who welcome students as they are dropped off to help them start their day. They provide male role models in an effort to support students with mentorship, positivity, and encouragement. Listen to hear from volunteers as well as students about this program.
November 13, 2017
Catalonia is a region in northeast Spain that has its own language and customs, and accounts for 20% of Spain’s economic output. This region has had financial disputes with the other regions of Spain and a history of striving for independence. Catalonia recently declared independence from Spain and in response Spanish authorities assumed direct control of the region. A warrant was issued for the arrest of the deposed Catalan leader and several Catalan ministers were arrested. Listen to hear more about the events in Catalonia, and the reactions to their efforts for independence.
November 10, 2017
Opioid addiction is killing from 35,000 to 50,000 people every year. Ten states and a number of cities and counties are suing opioid makers accusing them of lying about the addictive nature of the powerful painkiller. Many of those lawsuits involve Mike Moore. When Mike Moore was Mississippi's attorney general, he spearheaded the 50-state lawsuit against tobacco companies and won the biggest civil settlement in U.S. history. Now, he's trying to do the same thing against opioid manufacturers and distributors. Listen to hear more about this deadly and complicated crisis, and then debate: Should the drug companies be sued for creating the opioid epidemic?
November 9, 2017
There is evidence that Russian campaigns on social media sent out fake news stories and false conspiracies to create divisions among Americans during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter are being asked about this interference in the first public congressional hearings on Russian propaganda. Listen to hear more about how Russian propaganda affects people’s beliefs and behavior, and how quickly false stories spread.
November 8, 2017
Many women recently have tagged their social media posts with the hash tag “Me Too.” These two words are meant to bring attention to sexual assault and highlight its prevalence, since it is not often spoken about. This movement began ten years ago when an African American woman wanted to bring attention to the problem of sexual harassment and assault. Now, in response to movie producer Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault scandal, it has become a movement. Listen to hear more about how social media and the #metoo campaign is helping people speak out about sexual harassment and assault.
November 7, 2017
Schools are finding creative ways to encourage kids to read. In Fort Worth, Texas, barbershops are giving kids a chance to read while they get their hair cut. Some barbers are doubling as reading coaches—asking kids if they understand what they are reading, helping them with difficult words, and listening as they read aloud. This effort started in Texas with the city schools and similar programs are starting in cities across the country. Listen to hear more about how kids are being encouraged to read by their barbers.
November 6, 2017
The Presidents of the United States honor members of the military who have lost their lives in service to the country. The tradition of offering condolences has varied due to circumstances and are different for each president. From Lincoln to Trump, presidents have written letters, called families of the armed services member, and held ceremonies for the families of the fallen. The First Ladies have also found ways to honor service members. Listen to hear examples of this tradition and how it has changed over time.
November 3, 2017
One of the newest trends in coffee shops is welcoming animals. The way these cafes work is that people pay to enter and get a free drink. People who don’t have time or room for a pet can come and spend time with animals, without having to own them. Most people come to pet the cats, rabbits, sheep, or owls in the cafe. But some cafes might be going too far. In South Korea, one cafe welcomes raccoons, a typically wild animal that can be dangerous. Listen to hear about a visit to this cafe and then debate: Should animals be allowed in cafes?
November 2, 2017
Shakespeare was an English playwright and actor. Today his work is seen as culturally significant and serious. His plays are studied and reinterpreted in performances and movies, presenting a wide range of emotions and conflicts. A new interpretation of Shakespeare’s work is a lighter pop-up book. Two actors who perform Shakespeare’s works have partnered with an artist to create the book. They wanted to approach his work playfully and be inviting to all audiences. Listen to hear more about this new version of Shakespeare’s plays.
November 1, 2017
There is widespread support for infrastructure spending from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Funding roads and bridges is good for the economy. It creates jobs, fuels growth, and helps Americans travel more quickly and safely. President Donald Trump promised a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan as a part of his campaign as well as his presidency. Trump’s new budget has allocated $200 billion in federal money for infrastructure over 10 years, but also cuts programs he calls wasteful, including water facilities and airports. Listen to hear questions and concerns about where the money is going to come from.
October 31, 2017
On Halloween, many children come home with bags full of candy. Some is eaten right away, some is left in the bag for later, and some is traded for more desirable candy. Some people rank their favorite candy based on texture or according to the proportion of ingredients such as the ratio of chocolate to caramel. What candy would be on your favorite list? Listen to this story to hear about one person’s ranking of Halloween candy based on her preferences.
October 30, 2017
Raqqa is a city in northeastern Syria. ISIS leaders made Raqqa its operations hub and training ground more than three years ago, claiming it as an Islamic caliphate. Recently, after four months of airstrikes, ISIS no longer controls Raqqa. Syrian Democratic Forces, the American-backed militia group made up of Syrian Kurds and Arabs, took control of the city. Many of the people who joined ISIS were attracted by the idea of a physical Islamic state, and without this territory, ISIS may go back to being an underground terrorist organization. Listen to hear more about what might be next for the Islamic State.
October 27, 2017
Neighborhoods are often chosen by real estate prices and schools, and now they might be chosen by politics. Some people can feel like outsiders if they are living among others who don’t value or believe what they do. One idea is to create conservative Republican enclaves, where everyone shares the same values and feels connected to each other. Others think we should figure out how to exist together with different types of people. Listen to this story and then debate: Should we surround ourselves with people who have the same values and beliefs?
October 26, 2017
An estimated 1 in 13 children have food allergies. Some are potentially life-threatening and avoiding the allergen can be challenging and stressful. The blood tests and skin prick tests rule out specific food allergies but are not as accurate when confirming food allergies. The oral food challenge, where the food is eaten under the supervision of a doctor has become the gold-standard for determining allergies. Listen to this story about allergies as a health concern and the best way to tell if the food allergies have been outgrown.
October 25, 2017
Most people want to buy new phones with the latest technology, but new devices lead to electronic waste, or e-waste, when old phones are discarded. Phone companies used to offer free phones with contracts, which meant people got new phones every two years. Now contracts are changing and there are new ways people are thinking about phones. One way is the modular approach, where the components are detachable and replaceable. Another is to create longer-lasting phones that are better for the environment. Listen to this story about how new technology can help eliminate electronic waste.
October 24, 2017
For the first time in 38 years, Angola has a new president. José Eduardo dos Santos had ruled Angola since 1979, soon after its independence from Portugal in 1975. He handpicked his successor, João Lourenço, who was the former Defence Minister. Lourenço won the presidential election and faces the challenge of bringing change to the country. Half of Angola’s citizens live in poverty and the hope is that Lourenço will fight corruption in the country. Listen to hear more about this peaceful transition of power.
October 23, 2017
About a month after Hurricane Maria, almost 90% of Puerto Rico is without power and many residents have become dependent on generators. Hospitals, restaurants, air traffic control towers and other businesses are now operating with generator power. The dependence on generators has introduced a new level of division between the privileged and the poor for these U.S. citizens. Listen to hear the concerns about generator power and how people in Puerto Rico are surviving after the hurricane.
October 20, 2017
Middle and high school students can spend a lot of time on their phones. Teens use technology to communicate and share information and a new study by the Pew Research Center finds this is helping teens be more creative and collaborative. But many teachers say students are taking shortcuts to writing and finding it difficult to understand longer material. Listen to this story and then debate: Does technology help or hurt writing skills?
October 19, 2017
Even though Mark Twain died more than 100 years ago, a new book was recently published based on his writing. Taking 16 pages of handwritten notes by Mark Twain, two authors collaborated to write a children’s book based on the bedtime stories Twain told his children. They discuss decisions they made throughout the process, including the main character’s race, and the goal they set as they wrote the story. Listen to hear more about this collaboration and the challenges of writing this book.
October 18, 2017
The white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA in August brought hundreds of people carrying shields, guns, and torches who marched while shouting racist chants. Many people shared photos of these marchers to publicly identify them as racists. But there was at least one person misidentified. A university professor was flooded with people threatening him online because he looked like someone who attended the rally. This event highlights the fact that most people are not experts at identification. Listen to this story to hear the consequences of being mistaken for someone else in the era of social media.
October 17, 2017
Forest fires across Montana, Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California have burned over 8 million acres of land this season. In Northern California, fires have killed at least 23 people and destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses. The dry conditions and extreme heat, along with high winds, have helped the fires spread quickly. Listen to this story about the destruction caused by the fire in a mobile home park in northern California.
October 16, 2017
In Las Vegas, a man shot hundreds of rifle rounds into a crowd at a concert in the deadliest mass shooting in recent history. This has reopened the debate about gun control. Owning guns, hunting and recreational shooting are part of the culture in parts of Nevada. The state gun laws are less restrictive and difficult to enforce. Listen to this story about federal, state and local gun laws.
October 13, 2017
The football field has become a field for demonstrations. American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest against racial injustice consisted of kneeling during the national anthem at the start of NFL games. After President Donald Trump attacked NFL players who have knelt during the anthem, other athletes were inspired to kneel as well, while others locked arms and stood during the anthem. One point of view is that those who kneel are disrespecting the flag, veterans, and America and another is that politics should be removed from football games, and another is that Kaepernick is not showing disrespect and he has the right to protest injustice. Listen to this story and then debate: What do the national anthem protests mean?
October 12, 2017
The Nobel Prize is a set of annual international awards given to people who make outstanding contributions in the areas of science, culture, or academics. This year the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine was given to three U.S. scientists for their discoveries about how internal body clocks govern human biology. Our daily rhythms, our sleep and awake cycles, are related to the cycles of the sun. We typically get tired in the evening and feel awake during the day. Listen to hear more about this discovery about how our internal clocks work.
October 11, 2017
One of the most famous presidential pardons came when President Gerald Ford pardoned former President Richard Nixon. Recently, a former sheriff in Arizona and was found guilty of criminal contempt for defying a court order to stop detaining people based on suspicion that they were in the country illegally. President Trump pardoned the sheriff, which means he was forgiven of his crime and excused from punishment. Listen to hear the historical context for presidential pardons and about this pardoning, which has prompted questions about ethics and political procedures.
October 10, 2017
Everyone has experienced stress, which is your body’s response to a demand made on it. A surge of hormones is released when people are stressed and that helps them deal with the danger or threat, but it also affects the nervous system and can cause health problems. When we experience a lot of stress, our bodies don’t easily return to a relaxed state. Listen to hear more about what stress does to our bodies and what we can do about the impact of stress.
October 9, 2017
In Las Vegas, more than 20,000 people were at a music festival when a man shot into the crowd, killing more than 50 people and injuring almost 500. This mass shooting is the deadliest in recent history and has no known links to international terror groups. Investigators are still gathering information about the shooter. Law enforcement is avoiding calling this domestic terrorism. Listen to a discussion of the definition of domestic terrorism and the other cases that have also prompted this discussion.
October 6, 2017
A role model is a person who can be imitated by younger people, and have an impact on their behavior, choices, and values. Sports stars have been looked up to as role models, however some such as Charles Barkley, a retired professional basketball player, have declared that he is not a role model. What are the responsibilities of people who are paid to play sports? Listen to this commentator’s opinion, and then debate: Should athletes be considered role models?
October 5, 2017
The sounds of male elephant seals are different and each has a unique rhythm. A new study suggests that alpha males are recognized by their calls during mating season. If other males hear the call, they will scatter. An elephant seal’s call is loud and is also used to signal who they are. Males have unique rhythms and females have calls to threaten and calls to their pups. Listen to hear more about the new discoveries about what the calls of elephant seals mean.