TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
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July 16, 2018
After months of being caught up in various ethical scandals, Scott Pruitt recently stepped down as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA. Despite the criticism Pruitt faced, President Trump and many conservative groups supported his work in this position. Andrew Wheeler, a lawyer and former lobbyist for the coal industry, will replace Pruitt as the leader of the EPA. Listen to learn more about Pruitt’s decision, Wheeler’s approach to his new job, and what the future holds for the EPA.
July 11, 2018
Birds evolved from dinosaurs, but scientists still don’t know exactly how. The species Ichthyornis is a creature that falls directly between a dinosaur and a bird. A recently discovered fossil of this ancient seagull-like animal revealed some fascinating information. Its characteristics are helping scientists solve the mystery of how ancient dinosaurs became modern birds, complete with beaks and large brains. Listen to this audio story to learn more about the Ichthryornis.
July 9, 2018
Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he is retiring from the United States Supreme Court after 30 years. Kennedy was often the swing vote in many of the most important cases that the court has faced in the last three decades.. Known for his far-reaching opinions, Kennedy has always been a very confident and active justice. Kennedy’s opinions on major social issues such as gay marriage or abortion rights made some conservatives upset and his retirement has some liberals worried about the future of those decisions. Listen to this story to hear about Justice Kennedy’s retirement and what effect it might have on the court.
July 5, 2018
Most often, poachers illegally hunt wild animals like elephants for their tusks, but a recent case proves that plants can also fall victim to this crime. Succulents have become the target of poachers. Succulents are drought-resistant plants like cactus that retain water in their leaves. They are very popular now as house plants and that’s causing an underground trade of stolen succulents. Listen to learn more about this strange crime.
July 2, 2018
Around national holidays many visitors come to Washington DC, the capital of the federal government. On the National Mall, a large park surrounded by national museums, they shared what they believe defines patriotism. They noted service, sacrifice and freedom. Listen to hear what patriotism means to some Americans.
June 27, 2018
Every four years, Adidas designs a custom soccer ball for the World Cup, and the 2018 event in Russia is no different. In past years, the style and structure of the balls have actually interfered with how they move, making the games unpredictable for athletes. That’s why this year, scientists tested the new Telstar 18 ball to make sure it works properly. Experts explain how this new ball compares to past years’ and the real reason Adidas creates a new ball design for every World Cup. Listen to learn more about this high-tech soccer ball.
June 25, 2018
President Trump recently decided that the U.S. would charge tariffs (taxes added to specific imported goods) on aluminum and steel from certain countries. The nations affected by this decision, such as the European Union and Canada, argue that this breaks agreements the U.S. has made with the World Trade Organization (WTO). The U.S. argues that these tariffs protect American national security. If the WTO cannot resolve this conflict, it may lead various countries to begin raising tariffs on each other, ultimately hurting the global economy. Listen to learn more about this possible trade war.
June 20, 2018
The Hawaiian volcano Kilauea recently erupted, destroying dozens of homes and putting many more at risk. Despite the constant danger of eruption, Hawaiian residents feel passionately about where they’ve chosen to live. Even while anxiously waiting in evacuation centers or being forced to start all over again after their houses are destroyed, many Hawaiian homeowners wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. They’re willing to accept the dangers of natural disasters like these in order to enjoy everything Hawaii has to offer. Listen to learn more about what makes living near a volcano worth it.
June 18, 2018
President Trump recently met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a long-awaited summit. North Korea’s expanding nuclear program and strained foreign relations with the United States have caused growing concern over the last several months. As a result of their meeting, Kim Jong Un signed a vague agreement committing to peace and denuclearization, while President Trump announced a surprising change in American military cooperation with South Korea against their northern neighbors. These outcomes give some hope, but leave others confused and worried. Listen to learn more about this historic summit.
June 15, 2018
A new Sacramento law makes what the city calls “aggressive panhandling” illegal. It forbids people from begging for food or money within 30 feet of a bank or ATM or outside of restaurants. Those caught breaking this law more than three times face fines and jail time. One homeless man is suing the city because he believes this rule violates his right to free speech. The city argues that it is only trying to prevent the most forceful panhandling and plans to defend the rule. Listen to this story about Sacramento’s new law and then debate: Should panhandling be illegal?
June 14, 2018
Illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America to the United States is currently a major political issue. Politicians and citizens have strong opinions on both sides. In order to help people better understand what it’s like to attempt crossing the border, a Mexican film director created a virtual reality exhibit that allows users to experience it for themselves. Based on the true stories of immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally, the director hopes this exhibit will foster more compassion and empathy. Listen to learn more about this project and its aims.
June 13, 2018
Greenhouse gases trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere, contributing to climate change. One of the most common greenhouse gases is methane. In the United States, cars and industry are the primary sources of greenhouse gases. In Africa, which has more agriculture than industry, burping cows are the main producers of methane gas. Researchers have found that African and American cows are actually quite different from each other in the amount of methane in their burps. African scientists are studying how cows’ diets affect their methane production. Listen to hear how cow burps affect the environment.
June 12, 2018
Everyone makes mistakes they need to apologize for in order to repair their relationships. Public figures like politicians and celebrities also have to say sorry publicly for inappropriate behavior, as we have seen more often recently. However, not all apologies are created equal. A few key elements make some much more successful than others. An expert in dispute resolution explains what makes for an effective apology in the digital age. He also discusses how cultural differences and other circumstances affect the way you should ask for forgiveness. Listen to learn how to tell a good apology from a bad apology.
June 11, 2018
A new data protection law in the European Union is designed to preserve citizens’ privacy by fining those who use others’ personal data without their permission. This rule could cause problems for many who take photos in public places and post them online. According to this law, anyone who appears in a photo, even if it’s in the background of a selfie, must agree that the photo can be uploaded to the Internet. This law will likely force photographers to consider their subjects’ consent more carefully. Listen to learn more about this new rule.
June 8, 2018
Spotify recently announced it would be removing singer R. Kelly’s music from its playlists due to the artist’s history of sexual misconduct allegations. In addition to removing music that encourages violence against certain groups from its algorithms and playlists, Spotify’s new policy against hate speech will also stop promoting songs by artists who they determine behave poorly. While many agree with the decision to pull R. Kelly’s music specifically, some experts are concerned about the amount of power this policy gives to streaming services. Listen to learn more about Spotify’s new rule and then debate: Should streaming services punish artists accused of harassment?
June 7, 2018
Ramadan is a month-long Muslim practice during which observers do not eat or drink during daylight hours. Two American Muslim[MB10] women and podcasters recently discussed what it’s like to observe Ramadan in America. They described their coworkers’ reactions to their fasting, their experiences observing Ramadan, and what the holy month means to them. They also provide advice for non-Muslims who want to learn more about the religion from their Muslim friends. Listen to learn more about Ramadan.
June 6, 2018
In 2016, professional football player Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem before a game in order to protest social inequality and police treatment of minorities. Since then, some football players have continued to kneel during the national anthem, prompting reactions from fans, fellow players, the NFL, team owners, and even President Trump. The NFL recently decided that no players will be allowed to kneel during the national anthem. The football players’ union is unhappy with this decision. Listen to learn more about the NFL’s ruling.
June 5, 2018
A teenager recently discovered what turned out to be the fossil of a large, dinosaur-eating crocodile in northern Texas. Many amateur fossil hunters enjoy looking for ancient animals’ bones in this rocky area. At the site, for example, a combination of harsh living conditions exposed dirt makes it easier to uncover all sorts of fossils. An expert explains how fossil hunters help him discover ancient species. He also describes why dinosaurs fascinate us and how they can help us learn more about science. Listen to learn more about this dinosaur-eating crocodile.
June 4, 2018
The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided that states can decide for themselves whether or not to make sports betting legal. This means that many states will likely legalize gambling on athletic events soon. Some experts suggest that betting will help engage sports fans in games. Gambling will also make sports leagues much more money. However, others are worried that sports betting could lead to corruption, especially for amateur or student athletes. Listen to learn more about the Supreme Court’s ruling on this issue and what legalizing sports betting may mean for American athletics.
June 1, 2018
Many police departments already use basic facial recognition software, but more advanced technology in this area is raising new questions about what information law enforcement should or should not be able to instantly access. The latest software can rapidly identify people in all sorts of poses and situations, making it appealing for both businesses and law enforcement. If implemented, experts worry that it could make remaining anonymous in day-to-day life virtually impossible. Listen to this story about real-time facial recognition software and debate: Should police use facial recognition?
May 31, 2018
A sound clip of a voice saying a single word has recently sparked intense debate on the Internet. When listening to this now viral piece of audio, some hear “Yanny,” while others hear “Laurel.” A neurobiology professor weighs in on this question and explains the science behind why some people hear one word and others hear another. To finally settle the question, the hosts of the show find the source of the original audio, which reveals the actual word that was recorded. Listen to hear the famous clip and learn more about what it means.
May 30, 2018
A high-tech vaping tool called a JUUL is designed to help adult smokers quit smoking traditional cigarettes by allowing them to inhale nicotine, the main addictive ingredient in tobacco products, along with a variety of flavors. Unfortunately, the cool design and fun flavors of these devices have also attracted teens’ attention. Many have become hooked on JUULing, as it's called by teens. To protect children from JUULing’s harmful effects, this story explains how San Francisco wants to ban all flavored tobacco products. However, opponents to this argue that adults should have access to flavored vape products so they can quit smoking.
May 29, 2018
A gunman recently shot and killed 10 people at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas. This event was, unfortunately, one of many school shootings in 2018. One student, Kayte Alford, avoided injury herself, but is now grieving the loss and suffering of her classmates. During this interview just one day after the tragic incident, Alford describes how the shooting has affected her daily life and future plans. She’s afraid to leave the house, attend her high school graduation, and even go to college. Her mother and grandmother also describe their reactions to the disastrous event. Listen to hear Alford’s story.
May 25, 2018
Some California school districts recently tried providing the SAT for free during the school day for high school juniors. While the cost for this first year was funded by a grant, future years of free SATs could be provided by a California bill that would allow school districts to to pay for the SAT or ACT rather than standardized tests. Supporters of this bill think it is important to reduce barriers to taking the SAT, while opponents argue that standardized tests are absolutely necessary. Listen to this story about how one high school is offering the SAT for free and then debate: Should the SAT be free in schools?
May 24, 2018
Philadelphia’s public school system has hundreds of broken musical instruments. In order to raise money to repair them, professional musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra along with school children will perform Pulitzer prize-winning composer David Lang’s new piece, “Symphony for a Broken Orchestra.” This composition highlights the “wounded” nature of these instruments to create a unique sound. Listen to how the composer wants to emphasize the community of the orchestra and how diverse musicians can come together to create something beautiful.
May 23, 2018
The United States government recently passed a law that requires all major restaurant chains to post the calories of their dishes on their menus. Studies have demonstrated that having this information about their food causes diners to cut back on the number of calories they consume. This can help them lose weight and avoid the dangers of obesity, especially since some foods have more calories than you might think. Listen to learn more about this law and its benefits from two experts on nutritional policy.
May 22, 2018
The United States recently moved its Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. President Trump’s reasoning for this move is that the U.S. wants to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people. This is a complicated and contentious issue, since the Palestinian people argue that Jerusalem is actually the capital of their nation. The opening of the new Embassy caused protests by Palestinians in Gaza and Israeli troops opened fire killing more than 40 people.
May 21, 2018
President Trump recently announced his decision to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal. Under this agreement, Iran promised to reduce its mining and stockpiling of uranium and plutonium, key ingredients in nuclear weapons. In exchange, the U.S. and a variety of European countries agreed to begin trading with Iran again. With the U.S. no longer participating in the deal, it will re-impose financial penalties and trade restrictions. Experts are concerned that these sanctions will accelerate Iran’s dangerous nuclear program. Listen to hear President Trump’s reasoning for this decision.
May 18, 2018
In the wake of the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, discussions about how to keep students safe have resurfaced. One approach is to employ school resource officers (SROs), police who monitor school grounds and respond to any threats. About 30 percent of all schools utilize SROs, but studies reveal that having dedicated police officers on campus doesn’t improve safety. In addition, SROs can actually cause issues for students, making their suspension, expulsion, or even arrest more likely. This is particularly problematic for students of color. For these reasons, some students argue that the money spent on SROs should be directed to other programs. Listen to hear more about the SRO debate: Do Police in Schools Make it Safer?
May 17, 2018
Scientists have identified a two-step process that helps our brains learn to first recognize, then categorize new sounds, even when they sound almost the same. This process is similar to how the brain processes visual information. The research team used monkey calls in their experiment and taught volunteers to recognize them. Then the volunteers’ brains were studied. Listen to hear more about this discovery about sounds and what the new studies may help us understand.
May 16, 2018
About 150 migrants have reached the entrance to a U.S. border station in Tijuana, Mexico. They came in a caravan from Central America, sleeping on the tops of trains to escape violence in their own countries. They are applying for political asylum, but U.S. officials say they can only take a limited number of asylum applications. The United States law is intended to provide a safe haven for people who can prove they are fleeing persecution in their home countries. Listen to hear more about migrants seeking asylum in the United States.
May 15, 2018
The demographic shifts in Texas may preview changes in all of America. More Americans being born and growing up in Texas today are people of color. These populations have experienced economic inequality and lack of opportunities. Making changes and investing in education may help reduce some effects of these inequalities. The growing numbers of Latinos, African Americans and Asians may also change Texas politically as young people become more active in speaking up and voting. Listen to hear about the changes that are seen in Texas demographics and the changes that could help to ensure the success of all Americans.
May 14, 2018
On Hawaii’s Big Island, the Kilauea volcano sent a pool of lava back underground causing small earthquakes. At least 1,500 residents were ordered to evacuate after the volcano erupted. In some neighborhoods, lava is splitting the ground open and exposing molten rock that can shoot high in the air. The lava has covered over an acre of land and hundreds of small earthquakes have been shaking the ground. The Governor and National Guard have been working to ensure the safety of all residents. Listen to hear more about the volcano and earthquakes in Hawaii.
May 11, 2018
After recent mass shootings there has been a lot of talk about guns. In this country, it's hard to restrict guns because of the Second Amendment. There is a large divide between people supporting gun rights and people supporting gun control. The current politics in the United States do not support changing our Constitution, even after many mass shootings. But, the Supreme Court has said that the individual right to bear arms may be regulated. Listen to this story and then debate: Should we repeal the Second Amendment?
May 10, 2018
Over the past 125,000 years, mammals on Earth have become smaller. Ten thousand years ago the average mass of a mammal was 200 pounds and today the average mass is about 15 pounds. After dinosaurs became extinct, mammals became larger and new species developed. But when ancient humans evolved, they began hunting bigger animals. Eventually, in all areas populated by humans, the size of mammals became smaller and led to extinction in many cases. Listen to hear more about the effects humans have had on the size of mammals.
May 9, 2018
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened in Montgomery, Alabama. This memorial is devoted to the more than 4,000 African Americans who were lynched between 1877 and 1950. Killing for an alleged offense and without a legal trial was allowed in some parts of the South during this time period. Visitors are reminded of what happened in our past and encouraged to confront America’s continued racial divide. Listen to this story about this memorial that helps us to remember the thousands of Americans who were killed because of racism.
May 8, 2018
A workshop in North Texas aims to give people who have money the experience of what it’s like for people who live in poverty. Whether it's cashing a check, sending money to family, or trying to borrow money, people living in poverty have a different experience from others. This workshop simulation has people cash checks and complete other tasks without a bank account, social security number or a car. Listen to what they learn.
May 7, 2018
The leaders of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, and South Korea, Moon Jae-in, have agreed to seek elimination of nuclear weapons from Korea. They met during an historic summit where they discussed a potential peace deal to end the Korean war. During this meeting, they also signed a declaration and made a joint announcement standing side by side. Moon and Kim also had a private conversation with each other, without cameras or their aides. Listen to hear more about these steps toward peace in the Korean peninsula.
May 4, 2018
A lot of classroom skeletons, in high schools, universities and medical schools, are real human bones. A former student investigated the skeleton that hung in the back of her high school classroom. She consulted with the Smithsonian, and with a lab at Penn State and analyzed the skeleton to find out where it was from, how old it was and even what the person ate. In the 1800s there was a legal trade in human bones, which leads to some tricky questions about whether skeletons should be used in classrooms at all. Listen to this story and then debate: Should schools keep using classroom skeletons?
May 3, 2018
Offshore wind can be a big business, and property that is windy with shallow water is perfect for installing and maintaining wind turbines. The federal government has leased sites for developers to build industrial-scale wind farms over the next decade. The area of New Bedford, Massachusetts, which is close to Rhode Island and New York, is an area with a sustainable wind source. The developers are very engaged with fishermen in the area, since the spinning blades confuse the instruments they use to navigate through fog. By working together, turbines can be put in locations that won’t interfere with fishermen’s routes. Listen to hear more about offshore wind projects in this area.