TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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October 4, 2017
Mexico has had three huge earthquakes within 15 days. One earthquake registered 7.1, killing at least 245 people and injuring more than a thousand people in and around Mexico City. Volunteers, both with and without rescue experience, are searching for survivors in the rubble of collapsed buildings. People around Mexico are gathering to prepare food, hand out water, and support each other. Listen to hear more about how people from Mexico are coming together to help each other during this crisis.
October 3, 2017
After Hurricane Harvey in Texas, many people evacuated their homes and are now living in shelters. Leaving home during an emergency was especially difficult for parents of small children. Even though they brought supplies when they left their homes, an essential item that runs out quickly is diapers. Toddlers need 6-8 every day, and infants need twice as many. Listen to hear more about how this issue is affecting families and how it is being solved.
October 2, 2017
Hurricane Maria landed directly on Puerto Rico, taking down trees and destroying homes. The hurricane seriously damaged the island’s infrastructure creating widespread power outages and damage to cell towers. People are also facing shortages of gas, food, and water. A few people have gas powered generators that are running, but most are in the dark with no way to contact friends and relatives. Listen to this story to learn more about Hurricane Maria’s effect on the people of Puerto Rico.
September 29, 2017
Teens who vandalized an historic black schoolhouse in Virginia got an unusual sentence. The teens pled guilty to spray-painting swastikas and lewd symbols on the building. Instead of jail time, the judge ordered them to visit the U.S. Holocaust Museum and read books written by black, Jewish and Afghan authors and write essays about them. Listen to this story and then debate: Can consequences change the way students think?
September 28, 2017
Houston, Texas is recovering from Hurricane Harvey and students were delayed in going back to school. Many students are staying in shelters and teachers are volunteering to provide learning opportunities to children who were traumatized or displaced by the hurricane. One special education teacher created a group of educators called Teachers Volunteering in Shelters to help these students. Listen to hear more about these volunteers.
September 27, 2017
Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year on basic research. A new study shows that money is not wasted since there is a strong link between basic research and future patented inventions. Researchers studied 4.8 million patents issued by the U.S. Patent Office and 32 million scientific papers and found a strong link between new technologies and research. Listen to hear more about this link.
September 26, 2017
In a surprise and historic ruling, Kenya's Supreme Court annulled the recent presidential election. It threw out the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta due to illegalities and irregularities, and ordered a new election within two months. This ruling was a surprise and sends a message that even those in power can be challenged by the court. Listen to hear more about these elections and this historic decision not only for an African nation but for any country.
September 25, 2017
In 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri, a police officer shot and killed a 24-year-old black man following a car chase. The officer, Jason Stockley, claimed it was self-defense, but he was heard saying on an in-car video camera that he was going to kill the driver Anthony Lamar Smith. Recently the case went to court and Officer Stockley was acquitted in the fatal shooting of Smith. People in St. Louis have been protesting this verdict over the course of many days. Listen to an alderman in St. Louis discuss his frustration and disappointment in the verdict.
September 22, 2017
In neighborhoods in and near Houston, Texas, many people stranded by the flooding brought on by Hurricane Harvey were not able to get through to 911. That's when social media sites such as Facebook, Nextdoor and Twitter became important connectors for people to ask for help. Some think these are effective when calls to emergency personnel don’t go through, and others encourage people to stick to 911 instead of social media. Listen to this story and then debate: Social media or 911: Who do you ask for help?
September 21, 2017
More and more trash is being recycled instead of going into a landfill, but we are not very good at sorting out what is not recyclable. There are 400-500 tons of recycling that come into one facility in Rhode Island each day. In the pre-sort area, workers stand at the conveyor belt and remove anything that isn’t recyclable, especially items that will get tangled in the machinery. Some people are still confused about what can be recycled, such as plastic bags or kitchen knives. Listen to this story to hear about the types of trash at a recycling facility and the steps workers and agencies are taking to solve this problem.
September 20, 2017
Animals with long limbs and lots of muscle should be faster than other animals. In reality, even though a giraffe has much longer legs than a cheetah, it runs only about half as fast. This is because there are other factors involved in acceleration and speed of animals, such as how much energy they have to burn. Listen to learn about how new research on animal speeds can give scientists clues about the lives of prehistoric animals.
September 19, 2017
A message in a bottle washed up on a beach this week in Gaza, a small Palestinian territory. It traveled nearly 500 miles across the Mediterranean Sea, from the Greek island of Rhodes. It floated past Turkey and Cyprus and was found by a 54-year-old Palestinian fisherman. For a decade, the militant group Hamas has controlled the area of Gaza and mail sent there must first pass through Israeli security. The message in the bottle included an email address which provided a connection between the British couple who sent the message and the Palestinian fisherman. Listen to hear more about the extraordinary journey of this message.
September 18, 2017
Hurricane Harvey was enormous and Hurricane Irma had record high winds of 185 miles per hour. This is very unusual, but not unprecedented. What’s unusual is that they both hit land. Global warming creates more heat, and the more heat you have, the bigger the storms. Listen to hear about the relationship between big storms and climate change.
September 15, 2017
A city in Maryland is debating whether to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections and cast ballots for mayor and other city officials. This is happening at a time when other places around the country are imposing voter restrictions and a federal commission is focusing on voter fraud. Council Member Christine Nagle sponsored this voting measure to include long-term residents of her community in the decision-making process of town governments. Listen to this story and then debate: Should non-citizens be allowed to vote in local elections?
September 14, 2017
The cafeteria can be a scary place when you do not have a place to sit. Natalie Hampton, an 11th grader, has created an app to help students avoid this feeling. The “Sit with Us” app helps students find “open lunches”, which are tables with students willing to have people they don’t know join them. Listen to hear about how Natalie Hampton took her lunch time struggles and created an app to save students from facing public rejection in the cafeteria.
September 13, 2017
The rate of summer jobs for teenagers has significantly decreased from the previous generation. There is a lot of disagreement about whether this decline is due to an overall lack of opportunity in the workforce, or laziness on behalf of the current generation. Listen to this story to hear from two struggling teenagers, a skeptical mother, and an economist as they discuss the many factors that go into the severe decline in summer jobs for high school students.
September 12, 2017
Going to college is a dream for many people. Alex Gutierrez is a 16-year-old junior at International Leadership of Texas high school, and would like to go to college and study criminal justice to become an FBI agent or a police detective. Her mother also has hopes for Alex to be successful. But finding and applying for college can be overwhelming. Listen to hear about the fears and hopes of Alex as well as her mother, about going to college. This story from KERA also has resources that can provide more information about the process.
September 11, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months. This program was established by executive action during the Obama administration to grant people under 16 who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents a temporary reprieve from deportation. Immigration officials will stop taking new applications and will decide on renewals on a case by case basis. Listen to hear more about the ending of the DACA program.
September 8, 2017
Colin Kaepernick has been an elite quarterback in the National Football League. But he’s also one of the most controversial athletes in the NFL. Kaepernick has faced a backlash for refusing to stand during the national anthem. Instead he kneels in silent protest against social injustices such as police brutality. Some people saw this as disrespect for America, and some people supported his protest. Now he is a player without a team as no football franchise has selected him for the 2017/18 season. Listen to hear about Kaepernick’s situation and the NFL’s reaction and then debate: Should a social protest affect football?
September 7, 2017
Minecraft has become one of the largest and fastest growing games of all time. It is a game of free realm, allowing people to build whatever they please, with creativity and innovation. Unfortunately, not everyone has equal access to Minecraft as it is costly to have all the equipment. One non-profit group is helping to provide access to a wider audience of future coders. Listen to hear about how this Minecraft camp exposes young kids to a future where creativity and computer science collide.
September 6, 2017
The Caste systems plays a major role in Indian society. It a system that divides people into categories, giving privileges to higher castes and denying them for lower castes. The family you are born into can determine your job, where you live, and whom you marry. Even after discrimination based on the caste system was banned in the 1950s, it has certainly not been forgotten. One woman born into the untouchable caste, the lowest caste in Indian society, moved to America and became a subway conductor in New York. Listen to her story of discrimination and how the caste system still follows her.
September 5, 2017
Humans and baby birds appear to be very different creatures, but scientists are studying certain birds because they learn their songs in a similar way that humans learn speech. A new study from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center has shown similarities between how both species develop language. Listen to the lead scientist as he explains how a network of neurons in the brains of zebra finches could provide insight into how humans learn to speak.
September 4, 2017
Many parts of Texas were hit hard by Hurricane Harvey, the most powerful storm to strike Texas in more than half a century. The coastal tourist town of Rockport was hit directly. About half of the residents evacuated and rescue was difficult because of high winds, failed cell phone towers, and flooding. Listen to hear what this powerful hurricane was like from people who experienced it firsthand.
September 1, 2017
Leaks from the White House to the press are not uncommon, especially when looking at the executive branch over the last fifty years. President Trump has recently stated that there is a “culture of leaking in the U.S. government.” Trump, his administration, and the Department of Justice have all vowed to fight to bring criminal charges against leakers. Listen to hear a discussion of the history of presidential leaks and the difference between gossip and national security leaks and then debate: Are leaks good or bad?
August 31, 2017
Harvard University has a longstanding history of academic excellence as the first institution of higher education in America. Harvard also has a less proud history of slaveholding within its administration. At least three past Harvard presidents are known to have owned enslaved people, and slaves were also forced to work on Harvard campus. Recently, Harvard has made efforts to uncover its slaveholding past. Listen to this story that describes Harvard’s initiatives to research the details of its past injustices, and commemorate the enslaved people Harvard once owned.
August 30, 2017
Usain Bolt first received international recognition when he won three gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Shattering world records and then shattering his own records, Bolt is considered by many to be the fastest man in the world. His 6’ 5’’ build is not a common sight for elite sprinters, but there is no question that his top speed is faster than anyone else's. Bolt was in London for the World Championships to run his last 100-meter race. Listen to hear about his illustrious career, his charisma, and his legacy as he prepares for retirement.
Note: Usain Bolt came came in third in his final 100-meter race.
August 29, 2017
The white supremacist and neo-Nazi protest in Charlottesville, VA killed one woman and injured 19 people. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke thanked President Trump for criticizing the counter-protesters and Duke then called Black Lives Matter a “leftist terrorist group.” Black Lives Matter is a national organization working to fight against anti-Black racism, spark dialogue and encourage social action and engagement. The violence of Charlottesville brought urgency and attention to addressing attacks against people of color in the United States. Listen to hear from the leaders of Black Lives Matter and the NAACP and their attention to safety concerns.
August 28, 2017
South Sudan is the most recently formalized country in the world. The predominantly Christian south separated from the Arab north in 2011, which was a victory for many southern soldiers and people. Unfortunately, the south’s triumphs did not last long. Civil War and famine have impacted South Sudan’s ability to grow as a country, with nearly 60% of the country on the brink of starvation. Listen to this story to hear about the many struggles the South Sudanese face, and hear from others who still have hope.
August 25, 2017
Illegal immigration has been a topic of political debate in America for generations. Trump’s administration has brought a harsher tone to cracking down on illegal immigrants in the United States, not only at the border, but also arresting non-criminal immigrants. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, arrests of non-criminals have increased sharply across the country. Immigrant advocates claim this is worsening community relations. ICE agents say they are “misunderstood and that they simply want to enforce the law”. Listen to this story to hear from both sides of the issue and then debate: Are ICE agents just doing their jobs or going too far?
August 24, 2017
Recently violence broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia after a rally held by white nationalists became violent when they clashed with counter demonstrators. One woman was killed. The white nationalists were in Charlottesville to protest the city’s plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. The clash has raised tensions around the country about what to do with monuments honoring Confederate figures. One city, Richmond, Virginia has a rich history when it comes to the early development the United States. It had a massive slave marketplace and a strong Confederate Army during the Civil War. Listen to hear a discussion of the history and fate of Confederate statues.
August 23, 2017
The Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that North Korea has developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead. A warhead of that size can sit on a missile and create a serious threat to the United States. Upon hearing this news President Donald Trump has responded forcefully stating, “They [North Korea] will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Listen to learn about Korea’s nuclear warheads, and what is thought to be North Korea’s reasoning for revealing this new information.
August 22, 2017
Paul Kagame has been in power in Rwanda for nearly two decades. Kagame is a national hero, leading a rebel army that ousted the government and put an end to the Rwandan genocide in 1994. While Rwanda boasts a healthy democracy and strong support for Kagame, opposing candidates claim that Rwandans are simply scared of their government. Citing examples of rhetoric used against his political opponents, critics hope to bring light to his authoritarianism. Listen to this story to hear about Kagame’s rise to power, his rival candidates, and the future of Rwanda.
Note: Soon after this story originally aired, Kagame won the presidential election
August 21, 2017
Solar Eclipses are a natural phenomena that occur when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, momentarily blocking the sun’s light from reaching Earth’s surface. For the first time in many years, people in some parts of the United States will get to see a total solar eclipse. Listen to hear from a few self-defined eclipse addicts, who reflect on their eclipse experiences and marvel at its beauty.
August 18, 2017
As more police departments around the country are using body cameras, a new debate is arising about who should have control over the images that they capture. As of now, the police themselves control the video images, which some believe may lead to a potential conflict of interest. This story explores both sides of the issue, and how police departments can work to improve their relationship with the public. Listen to this story and then debate: Who should have access to police body camera footage?
August 17, 2017
The youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize is 20-year old Malala Youzafzai, a Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for going to school, has campaigned tirelessly for girls’ rights to education. Youzafzai recently finished high school in England and is looking forward to not only continuing her own education, but ensuring access to education for girls in regions of the Middle East that are undergoing political and societal chaos. Listen to learn more about her struggle to stay optimistic in the face of overwhelming adversity.
August 16, 2017
Animals employ all sorts of techniques to avoid becoming prey. This is a story about one species of spider that have learned to mimic the movement of ants to avoid detection by predators. Listen to learn more about the life of a professional insect impersonator.
August 15, 2017
With the number of deportations of Mexican-American families increasing, schools across Mexico are struggling to address the unique challenges posed by incoming students who are fluent in English, but not Spanish. One school in Tijuana has seen great success by pairing incoming students with native Spanish speakers in the classroom and offering them one-on-one tutoring. Listen to learn more about how these children have been adjusting to life in the country their parents once called “home”.
August 14, 2017
Health care reform has become a major political issue in the United States. There are high costs for patients as well as the consequences of having millions of uninsured Americans. With many recent legislative votes on health care, the national debate is becoming intense. At the center of this debate is Medicare and Medicaid, which provide health care coverage for about 50 million Americans. Listen to an expert breakdown some of the details that make health care such a complicated subject.
August 7, 2017
A young Dallas couple has decided to open their doors to refugee children in their neighborhood. They don’t run a daycare or an afterschool program, but host refugee children at their home for games, movies, and even homework. Their home has become a popular place for kids in this diverse neighborhood. Listen to this story to hear exactly how this family began helping refugee children and what kind of impact they have on their community.
August 2, 2017
There is a global vanilla crisis. Recently there’s been a global shortage of vanilla that’s affecting bakeries and ice cream shops across the country. The spice is primarily grown in Madagascar, an island off the southeast coast of Africa. Listen to this story to hear what caused this shortage and the dangers and problems faced by vanilla growers.