TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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January 10, 2019
The U.S. winners of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship are an increasingly diverse group. In addition to large proportions of women and first generation Americans or immigrants, this year’s Rhodes Scholars include the first recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Listen to this interview with Jin Park, who emigrated to the U.S. with his Korean parents at age 7, to hear what the scholarship award means to him and what he plans to do with the opportunity at to study at Oxford University in England as a Rhodes Scholar.
January 9, 2019
How do you remember a phone number? At a recent neuroscience conference, brain scientists found themselves debating this surprisingly difficult question. Storing a phone number turns out to be a complex working memory task with broader implications for how the brain works. Listen to this story to hear two different theories about how working memory operates and why understanding this basic function matters.
January 8, 2019
Artist Georgia O’Keeffe is famous for her paintings of flowers and southwestern desert landscapes. Few know, however, that her sister Ida O’Keeffe was also an artist. Ida’s work is being exhibited at the Dallas Museum of Art. Listen to this interview with a museum curator to hear Ida O’Keeffe’s story and learn why her name is virtually unknown, while her sister Georgia is one of America’s most recognized 20th century painters.
January 7, 2019
The government has been partially shut down since before the new year, leaving more than 800,000 federal employees without a paycheck. The government is partially closed because Congress has not passed a bill to fully fund its operations, having reached an impasse over funding a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border. As a result, roughly a quarter of the government is closed, including all functions that are considered “non-essential.” Listen to this story to learn about the political standoff that is behind the shutdown and prospects for ending it.
January 4, 2019
Technology giant Google is facing pushback from its employees who are accusing the company of collaborating with the Chinese government to develop a search engine that would violate users’ privacy and allow government censorship. Experts say that Chinese residents would be unable to search for information using keywords related to human rights. The search engine would also provide the Chinese government access to the search history of users. Listen to learn more about this issue and debate: Should Google agree to let China censor online searches?
January 3, 2019
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have issued new instructions for how to treat children and teens with concussions. Until recently, the doctor-recommended treatment was complete isolation for at least a week. The rationale was that anything that required physical or mental effort could be dangerous for the child’s recovery, but doctors have found that the isolation could be more harmful. Now doctors believe that children should return to their activities after a few days of rest if the child feels ready. Listen to this story to hear about this new development in the treatment protocol for concussions.
January 2, 2019
The popular video game Fortnite has millions of players, and while the game is free, Fortnite coaches are getting paid up to $25 an hour. Some of these coaches are hired by parents who want to help their children get better at the popular shooter game. Some experts believe that Fortnite is becoming something of a social proving ground for children with a lot of pressure to win. Listen to hear more about the how and why of Fortnite coaching.
December 31, 2018
Jimmy Carter, a soft-spoken peanut farmer from Georgia was the 39th President of the United States and served only one term. His accomplishments included brokering important peace agreements between Middle Eastern adversaries and nuclear superpowers. But Carter, a Democrat, lost reelection in 1980 following a bad economy and a hostage crisis in Iran. Carter has been very influential in his long post-presidential life primarily through the Carter Center, which works in conflict zones, monitoring elections and eradicating disease. Listen to this story to learn about Carter receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his work with the Carter Center.
December 28, 2018
Ronald Reagan was an actor, governor of California, and the 40th President of the United States. He served two terms and died in 2004 of Alzheimer's disease, ten years after leaving office. He was a Republican known for his conservative stance on reducing taxes, who instituted supply-side economic policies known as “Reaganomics,” which many credit with helping the economy prosper. Reagan helped to facilitate the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. However, his administration was tied up in the Iran-Contra affair, in which senior officials secretly broke an arms embargo and sold weapons to Iran. As a former actor, Reagan brought glamor to the presidency, and he is ranked as one of the more popular presidents. Listen to this conversation with an historian about how Reagan’s time in office is remembered, including some myths about his presidency.
December 27, 2018
After serving many years as governor of Arkansas, Democrat Bill Clinton was elected the 42nd President of the United States in 1992. He is remembered for signing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), passing welfare reform, and balancing the budget, among other achievements. As he ended his second term, he noted the fast economic growth, low rates of unemployment and poverty, and other indicators of economic prosperity during his presidency. Democrats and Republicans disagree, however, about what led to the economic boom during his presidency. Listen to hear competing theories about causes of economic growth in the Clinton years.
December 26, 2018
President George W. Bush was the governor of Texas before he became the 43rd President of the United States. Bush, who is the son of President George H.W. Bush, was elected in 2000 in a close, controversial race involving a recount in Florida and was reelected in 2004. His presidency was defined by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001, eight months into his presidency. Listen to learn how this event shaped Bush’s legacy.
December 24, 2018
President Barack Obama served as an Illinois Senator before he was elected President of the United States in 2008 and again in 2012. Born in Hawaii, he worked as a community organizer, civil rights attorney, and law professor before entering politics. Obama, a Democrat, was the first African American elected president, entering office at the beginning of a global financial crisis. He is widely credited with saving the U.S. economy from the brink of recession, and his other accomplishments include passing a major health care bill known as the Affordable Care Act. Listen to hear an economist discuss his thoughts on Obama’s legacy.
December 21, 2018
For a long time, the handwritten signature was a distinctive mark of individuals. It used to be that credit card transactions, contracts, and other important documents required a handwritten signature to be considered valid. These days, however, electronic signatures are often replacing handwritten ones, but some worry that they are not a secure enough form of identification. Listen to hear an expert discuss the past, present, and future of handwriting and then debate: Are electronic signatures risky?
December 20, 2018
While some migrant children travel to the United States with their families, others arrive on their own to be reunified with family members they have not seen in a long time. Such family reunifications may bring happiness, but they can present challenges as well. Listen to learn about the experience of two girls from El Salvador who came to live with their mother in Virginia after not seeing her for ten years.
December 19, 2018
Selective colleges and universities are using a new strategy to diversify their student bodies; they are recruiting transfer students from community colleges. There are many reasons that high-achieving students may choose to start at community colleges, but now many private four-year colleges are inviting those students to transfer after they have completed an associate’s degree. Listen to this story to hear from one such student about her dreams, her challenges, and her experiences as a transfer student at an elite school.
December 18, 2018
Millions of people travel through airport security each year. When scanning carry-on luggage, TSA agents are usually on the lookout for liquids or wrapped gifts, but recently they have been seeing more guns. Firearms are on the TSA list of prohibited items, meaning that they are never allowed in the cabin of an airplane. Listen to this story to hear more about why this is an issue, how the TSA is managing it, and what happens to those who mistakenly try to carry a gun on an airplane.
December 17, 2018
The East African nations of Ethiopia and Eritrea, which had been at war for many years, have recently reopened their borders after reaching a peace agreement. The war claimed many lives and displaced residents of the two countries, which used to be one. Families that had been separated for a generation are now able to reconnect. Listen to hear from people living on the border about the complex emotions surrounding this major development in their lives.
December 14, 2018
Facebook has been using artificial intelligence (AI) to try to help prevent suicide and self-harm. Facebook’s head of safety says that the AI system, which triggers alerts when Facebook chatter indicates potential risk, was used several times in its first year. While some people support this use of AI, others want the social media giant to be more transparent about its use. Many worry that this development could lead to more AI surveillance. Listen to hear more about how the AI system works and debate: Should AI be allowed to assess suicide risk on Facebook?
December 13, 2018
People who are homeless are often stereotyped as not having a job and living on the street. But many working people do not have a stable home of their own because they cannot afford it. They may live with friends or family temporarily, or sometimes in their cars. This story features a woman with two children who does not want her employer to know that she is homeless for fear of being judged and potentially losing her job. Listen to hear about her experience and learn about what some advocates are doing to try to protect people in her position.
The California Dream series is a statewide media collaboration of CALmatters, KPBS, KPCC, KQED and Capital Public Radio with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the James Irvine Foundation.
December 12, 2018
A new NASA probe called InSight recently landed on Mars after traveling 300 million miles from Earth. The success of this mission was a very exciting accomplishment, as it involved a complex process of slowing down the probe very quickly in order to make a smooth landing. Listen to this story to learn about this important engineering achievement and what NASA hopes the probe will do now that it has safely landed on Mars.
December 11, 2018
China’s presence has grown on the world stage in recent years in both business and politics. President Xi Jingping and other Chinese leaders are making efforts to influence the way that the world views their country. They have invested heavily in state-run media, which has also increased its international presence. Experts believe that this outreach is working well in spreading China’s message to the developing world, but that they are having a harder time influencing the West. Listen to hear how China is trying to shape its world image.
December 10, 2018
President George H.W. Bush died recently at the age of 94. Bush served as president of the United States from 1989–1992. The former president is remembered as a Republican moderate who presided over the end of the Cold War, nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, led military interventions in Latin America and Iraq, and signed legislation prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities. Listen to President Bush’s biographer talk about his legacy as the 41st president of the United States of America.
December 7, 2018
A Chinese scientist claims to have created genetically edited human babies, igniting a major ethical controversy. The scientist says he used a new genetic engineering technique to modify genes in human embryos to resist HIV infection and then created twin girls from those embryos. His claim has yet to be verified. The scientific community has responded with strong ethical concerns about the risks of this type of human experimentation. Listen to this story to learn more and then debate: Should humans be genetically modified?
December 6, 2018
Record numbers of women ran and were elected during the 2018 midterm elections. In particular, more women were elected to the House of Representatives than ever before, including many notable firsts. Listen to this audio story to hear more about why the surge of women in politics is such an important development.
December 5, 2018
A new government report on climate change warns of the rapidly increasing negative effects of climate change and offers recommendations to help slow down its adverse impact. The report explains that not only are humans responsible for climate change, but our ongoing actions are making it worse. Listen to this interview with a climate change expert to hear about the urgency of this warning and what makes her hopeful.
December 4, 2018
Laurie Simmons is a New York artist whose photographs frequently feature dolls in domestic scenes. As a retrospective exhibit of her work opens in Texas, she reflects on her art and what it means to her. Listen to this interview with the artist to learn more about what is behind her fascination with photographing dolls.
December 3, 2018
A large group of Central American migrants fleeing violence and seeking asylum in the United States have been gathering at the Mexican border as they await processing of their applications. Tensions erupted recently in Tijuana, Mexico during a protest by migrants impatient with the process, and some made a run for the U.S. border during the unrest. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers fired tear gas on the migrants and temporarily closed the border. Listen to this story to learn more about reactions to these events and ideas about how to improve the situation.
November 30, 2018
There has been increasing interest recently in teaching students about consent and sexual assault prevention as part of sex education in public schools. A series of workshops for teens aims to build awareness and change social norms in order to reduce sexual violence. Listen to hear students’ reflections on the workshops and then debate: Should schools teach sexual violence prevention?
November 29, 2018
A former illustrator who now owns an ink company finds ingredients for his ink in unlikely places, including city streets. Jason Logan has written a book that explains how he searches the environment for interesting sources of color that he uses to create a wide variety of inks. Listen to this story and follow the artist and his interviewer as they turn city trash into colorful ink.
November 27, 2018
Renowned author Khaled Hosseini, who wrote The Kite Runner and other novels about Afghanistan, has written a new short illustrated book called Sea Prayer about the Syrian refugee crisis. The book takes the form of a letter from a father to a son, describing his memories of their homeland before war forced them to leave. Listen to the author read excerpts and explain why he wrote the book.
November 26, 2018
The deadliest wildfire in California history has devastated a town called Paradise, burning homes and killing dozens of people. The town’s mayor, Jody Jones, lost her own home and has been evacuated along with 26,000 other residents. Jones said the town looks like a war zone, but she and others are committed to rebuilding. Listen to hear the mayor’s reflections on the current state of Paradise and plans for its future.
November 21, 2018
There are many potential hassles of air travel, including getting sick. Airports can be virus incubators, and researchers have investigated which particular airport spots carry the most germs. Recent studies have revealed that the dirtiest places in airports might not be where people expect. Listen to this story to find out how air travelers can take precautions to avoid bringing home a cold for the holidays.
November 20, 2018
Art can be a helpful outlet for self-expression. This is the case for Texas-based artist Arthur Peña, who found that art offered him a safe retreat while growing in a community that could be dangerous. His mother, who was also an artist, encouraged his interest. After earning his credentials at prestigious art schools, he moved back to Texas and began a successful career. When he encountered some life challenges, however, Peña’s art suffered. Listen to hear how working through his relationship with art helped to put his life back on a positive course.
November 19, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently resigned at the request of the president. Sessions was one of President Trump’s earliest political supporters, but Trump has been critical of Sessions since appointing him to lead the Department of Justice. Listen to hear about what preceded the president’s request for Sessions to resign and why many people consider it to be a significant development with implications for the ongoing investigation into Russian election interference.
November 16, 2018
Many teachers use food to reward students, but often these foods are unhealthy. Since childhood obesity is a growing problem nationally, there is concern that celebrating with junk food at school may be contributing to students’ poor health. Listen to hear why one California school district is discouraging the use of edible prizes in school and debate: Should teachers reward students with junk food?
November 15, 2018
The Smithsonian has selected a design for its National Native American Veterans Memorial to be built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The artist is Harvey Pratt, a Native American veteran from Oklahoma, and his design is called “Warriors’ Circle of Honor.” It aims to engage all Americans in appreciating and learning about the tradition of Native American service. Listen to hear the artist’s reflections on the meaning of his design, how he hopes people will experience it, and why honoring veterans is an important part of his heritage.
November 14, 2018
The Sahara Desert is expanding due to cycles of drought. A scientist at the University of Maryland who studies the earth’s atmosphere has proposed a solution to this problem involving solar panels and windmills. Listen to learn how her proposed solution could change the future climate of the Sahara region and harness energy at the same time.
November 13, 2018
The recent midterm elections had especially high voter turnout. While each of the major political parties claimed some victories, one of the most significant election results was a shift in Congressional power. The Democrats gained a clear majority in the House of Representatives, while the Republicans reinforced their Senate majority. Listen to this story to hear about this significant change to the U.S. Congress, where Republicans had previously held a majority in both the House and the Senate.
November 9, 2018
Electric scooters are becoming increasingly popular in big cities where traffic is congested and public transportation can be unreliable. Some companies are offering electric scooters that can be unlocked via mobile app, ridden, and dropped off anywhere in the city. This may be convenient for some people, but it can be hazardous for others. Listen to this story to learn about the controversy caused by electric scooters and debate: Should electric scooter rentals be allowed in cities?
November 8, 2018
After 130 years in business, the department store Sears has filed for bankruptcy. Sears began as a catalog company and was an historically important innovation in shopping that offered many people opportunities to buy products that were not available to them locally. Sears department stores made one-stop shopping a common practice in many communities around the country. However, recent shopping trends have had a negative impact on Sears. Listen to this story to learn what made Sears a dominant influence in shaping American shopping habits and what changes have contributed to its downfall.