TEACHERS: Current events podcasts for the classroom!
New current events added daily. Get Our Weekly Roundup.
November 11, 2016
There is pressure to increase the minimum wage from low wage workers around the country. Some cities and states, including New York and California, have already increased the minimum wage to $15 an hour. For employees working minimum wage jobs, like in some fast food chains, the bump would make it easier for them to afford their rent and other essentials. However, raising the minimum wage also will also affect small business owners, who are concerned about the high costs of running their shops. Listen to hear different perspectives on this issue and debate whether it’s a good idea to raise the minimum wage.
November 10, 2016
This week the United States elected Republican Donald Trump as the 45th President. He defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton, the first female candidate for President. Trump will be the first U.S. President to have never served in public office nor served in the military. He tapped into widespread dissatisfaction voters feel toward the political establishment. While Trump won the electoral college votes needed to become president, it appears Clinton won the popular vote, which reveals a deeply divided country. In his acceptance speech Trump talked about bringing the country together. Listen to hear more about the results of this election.
November 9, 2016
North Korea has shown it is close to having the scientific ability and political will to launch a nuclear weapon. Recently the Communist nation has conducted a number of nuclear missile tests. Even though these tests weren’t successful, many intelligence officials believe North Korea is close to becoming a nuclear power. There is growing concern among U.S. intelligence experts that their technology is improving as they learn from their failed missile launches. Listen to hear how the experts view the threat of North Korea.
November 8, 2016
When the founding fathers of the United States were writing the Constitution in the 1780s, they were deadlocked about what to call the leader of the executive branch. At the time, “president” was used in other contexts. University heads were called presidents and heads of colonies sometimes used that title as well. But until President George Washington, this word had never been used to describe a leader of a country. Listen to hear how the decision was finally reached.
November 7, 2016
This election will be the first time some young people will be able to vote. Listen to a few first-time voters who are preparing to vote in the presidential election. Some are certain they are voting for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Gary Johnson while others are still undecided. They discuss their feelings about their choice of candidates and what their friends are talking about related to the election. Listen to hear more from young voters and the issues that are most important to them individually.
November 4, 2016
On election night in the United States, most news organizations won’t report results until the polls close. But this year, voting information may be released in real time while many people are still voting. It is commonly thought that publishing information on voting projections would change voters’ actions and possibly change the election results. Others think that voters should have the same access to information as news organizations. Listen to this story and then debate whether you think we should have real-time voting projections on election day.
November 3, 2016
Self-driving cars have been getting a lot of attention lately, with companies such as Uber, Tesla and Google trying out their autonomous vehicles on city streets. However, the big shift towards self-driving vehicles may not be with fancy electric cars, but with long-haul trucks. Trucks are well-suited for self-driving technology and will make the job of driving less dangerous. Listen to hear why people are predicting that trucks will undergo the shift earlier than cars.
November 2, 2016
Astronomers have noticed blobs of eerie light glowing in outer space and have been puzzled by them since their discovery. Astronomers were studying galaxies in the distant universe, when they noticed strange glowing clouds of gas that were 10 times the diameter of the Milky Way. They have been looking into the source of light coming from the blobs and have recently made an interesting discovery that reveals why the blobs produce a glow.
November 1, 2016
The city of Mosul, Iraq is the largest city under ISIS control. After 2 years of violence in Mosul, Iraqi government forces and their allies are planning to retake the city of about one million people. The long-awaited military operations could take weeks or even months. Some people fleeing Mosul do not intend to return home when ISIS is defeated. Like many displaced people, they fear chaos and violence will continue in Mosul, and do not trust that local officials will maintain order. Listen to hear what Mosul may look like after the war.
October 31, 2016
Climate change and energy policy are issues that are important to millions of Americans, but the issue has not been front and center in the presidential election. Both candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have said they want to make the country energy-independent but their views on how to do that are very different. Listen to hear how Trump and Clinton differ sharply on topics such as coal, renewable energy and the Paris climate agreement.
October 28, 2016
The Federal Bureau of Prisons can petition the court for the early release of a prisoner for extraordinary and compelling reasons, called compassionate release. It is typically granted in cases where the inmate is dying or has a debilitating medical condition. This story highlights the case of a former Massachusetts House Speaker who was sentenced for corruption in 2012. He is dying of cancer and the Federal Bureau of Prisons has filed a motion to release him early. Listen to hear more about this extraordinary type of release and debate whether sick prisoners should be released for compassionate reasons.
Update: A federal judge ruled to grant the Massachusetts House Speaker early release because of his health.
October 27, 2016
Democracy has lasted in the United States when it has failed in other countries. This is due to many reasons, but mainly because there has always been a peaceful transfer of power following an election. Going against political norms for hundreds of years, Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has claimed the election will be rigged and has hinted that he may not concede if his opponent, Hillary Clinton, is elected. Trump has expressed concerns about voter fraud at polling stations, and encouraged people to closely monitor voting. Listen to this story to hear an expert in election law explain why he doesn’t believe the recent polls are not close enough for concerns about a rigged election to be realistic.
October 26, 2016
Eating a lot of sugar may change the brain and affect how many calories a person eats. There are many researchers trying to understand what controls our eating and one researcher is looking for a link between exposure to a diet high in sugar and obesity. There may be a way to control eating by using biochemistry, which will change the view that controlling eating is just a matter of willpower. Listen to hear more about research into the effect of sugar on the brain.
October 25, 2016
Combat veterans have started long-distance hiking on wilderness trips across the country as a way to transition to civilian life. Having time in nature can help veterans process the war. A non-profit, Warrior Expeditions, sponsors dozens of combat vets each year to walk the Pacific Crest, the Continental Divide and the Appalachian Trail. They hike with other veterans who can support each other since they have been through similar experiences. Listen to hear from veterans who have hiked over 2,000 miles together and their reflections on the journey.
October 24, 2016
The Supreme Court is short handed with only eight justices to do the job of resolving the important legal questions of the United States. Since February 2016 when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly, the Supreme Court has been evenly divided in important cases. Under the Constitution, the Senate’s job is to confirm or reject the President’s nominee. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has promised that no Obama nominee would get a hearing or a vote and he believes the next president should select a nominee. Listen to hear more about how the presidential election may impact the next appointment to the Supreme Court.
October 21, 2016
Affordable housing is become increasingly scarce in many cities around the country. Many low-income tenants often find themselves unable to pay their rent and at risk of eviction. Most tenants who fail to pay rent and are taken to court have no lawyer, while most landlords do. Some people believe this could be improved by providing free legal help to tenants. Listen to hear stories of people facing eviction and the struggle for affordable housing. Then debate whether the government should have a role in increasing affordable housing.
October 20, 2016
When dog owners talk to their pets, they usually use praising words and speak in an approving, cheerful tone. Neuroscientists studied the brains of dogs to learn more about how they interpret praise. By looking at certain pathways in the brain scans, the research team discovered some interesting results that suggest dogs may process the meaning of the words they hear in addition to the tone of voice. Listen to hear the details of the study about what dogs understand when we speak to them.
October 19, 2016
Hurricane Matthew has left destruction in Haiti, with over 1,000 fatalities. In some towns, 80 to 90 percent of the homes were damaged or destroyed. Aid workers are making their way to the most vulnerable Haitians and trying to overcome the obstacles in getting food and water to some towns. Listen to hear more about the concerns about the spread of disease as well as what it will take to rebuild these devastated areas of Haiti.
October 18, 2016
In Colombia, there has been fighting between the Colombian Government, rebel groups and other factions for over 50 years. FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a rebel guerrilla group, remains in control of some remote areas of the country but has not gained significant political power. An historic peace deal signed by Colombia’s President and the FARC leader was expected to end decades of hostility. Colombia’s President was even recognized for his efforts with a Nobel Peace Prize. But when the deal was put to a popular vote, it was rejected by a narrow majority. Listen to hear more about this conflict and reasons why Colombian voters rejected the deal.
October 17, 2016
Both U.S. Presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have said they are committed to creating more economic opportunities for Americans.There is a sense that economic opportunity is slipping away for some Americans, which is causing them to become angry. While both candidates have addressed this topic in their campaigns, they have presented their plans in different ways. Listen to hear how each candidate talks about the economy, and their plans to create more jobs and improve the lives of Americans.
October 14, 2016
Implicit racial bias has been discussed in recent police shootings, preschool suspensions, and in both the presidential and vice-presidential debates. Unconscious attitudes or stereotypes can lead us to draw conclusions about each other that are sometimes opposite of what we consciously think or believe. In this study on bias, over one hundred preschool teachers looked for disruptive behavior in some children more than in others. Listen to hear how race and empathy are involved in how children are viewed, and debate whether you think everyone has a bias.
October 13, 2016
Former Israeli President and statesman Shimon Peres was one of the founders of Israel. His participation and influence in Israeli politics spanned decades. After his recent passing, he is remembered for winning the Nobel Peace Prize and for his optimism about forming peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Listen to learn more about Peres’ legacy.
October 12, 2016
The debates between the U.S. presidential candidates will mark the first time gender is a dynamic. The way women are perceived in a debate setting is different from the way men are perceived. The pitch of a woman’s voice and the way a woman dresses should not affect the debate, but are often highlighted or criticized. Listen to hear more about how some people see women versus men in a debate setting.
October 11, 2016
National Museum of African-American History and Culture opened on the National Mall in Washington D.C. in September 2016. It started with a vision and a mission to tell the story of America through the lens of black history and culture. Many people have given parts of their lives to this museum, which has collected 37,000 artifacts. The first item to come into the building was Jim Crow-era segregated train car that was lowered underground. Currently, 3,000 artifacts are displayed in the museum, and the curators will keep collecting for future exhibitions. Listen to hear more about this museum that was first proposed by black veterans of the civil war, and was recently opened to the public.
October 10, 2016
Countries that are a part of NATO, including the United States, promise to keep the peace and come to the defense of any member state that is attacked by another country. When the U.S. gets involved overseas, such as in Afghanistan, it acts with international alliances. Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have very different views of what the U.S. relationship with NATO should be. Listen to hear about both candidates’ positions, and the goals of NATO as a military alliance.
October 7, 2016
There is a common belief that busy people get more done than less busy people. This may seem counterintuitive, but researchers at Columbia University have discovered there is some truth to this claim. It turns out that there are certain times when being busy can make people feel overwhelmed, and there are other times when being busy can be helpful. Listen to hear about the series of experiments tracking busy people and what they reveal about business, motivation and recovering from setbacks. Then debate whether you think that busy people really do get more things done.
October 6, 2016
Recent police shootings that resulted in the deaths of African-American men have led to protests and serious scrutiny of law enforcement. While there have been many incidents like these in the two years since the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the number of fatalities has not accurately been tracked. This makes it difficult to assess the effectiveness of police reform trainings. Listen to hear more about the connection between increased scrutiny of law enforcement and police use of deadly force.
October 5, 2016
This year’s presidential campaign has been divisive, partly due to the polarizing nature of candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The social media site, Facebook, has been a popular platform for political conversation in past election years, but has surged this year. There have been over 4 billion posts, comments and reactions about this presidential election. As people take to Facebook to express their views, contentious political posts have been driving people apart, often leading to unfriending. Listen to hear how Facebook users are reacting to political posts.
October 4, 2016
In the fifth year of the Syrian civil war, more than 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives and more than 11 million people have fled their homes. The city of Aleppo in Syria remains under siege and rebel areas are being bombarded daily by warplanes, killing hundreds of people. The cease-fire between the Russian supported Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and the U.S. backed rebel groups collapsed. There was a deadly attack on a humanitarian convoy, which led to the United Nations halting aid to Syria. In addition to aerial attacks, there are ground offensives, and the water supply was cut off to the opposition-held half of the city. Listen to hear more about the escalation of fighting in Syria.
October 3, 2016
The next president of the United States will face national security issues, including terrorism and ISIS, along with the role of the U.S. in foreign affairs. Many voters want to know how candidates Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton might approach these international issues. This audio story discusses the ways each candidate might make choices and create policies that are similar or different from the existing policies of the Obama Administration. Listen to hear more about the foreign policy challenges the next president will face.
September 30, 2016
Vermont is the new home of many refugees from Somalia and other countries that have become dangerous to live in. Some residents in towns with large concentrations of refugees are concerned that the newcomers will be a burden on taxpayers. For the most part, however, refugees are contributing to the well-being of the communities they have become a part of. The local residents in one town in Vermont, welcome them. Listen to hear about the experiences of residents of Winooski, Vermont and the refugees who have recently moved there.
September 30, 2016
Across college campuses, the idea of "trigger warnings," giving a heads-up to students before uncomfortable topics are discussed, and creating safe spaces for students to feel comfortable talking about their experiences, is gaining traction. Some people think this provides support for people who have been victimized and prevents triggering a recurrence of past trauma. Others people think this makes it possible for students to avoid certain topics and different perspectives that make them feel uncomfortable. The University of Chicago has decided not to give ‘trigger warnings’. Listen to this story to understand why and then debate the different perspectives on this policy.
September 29, 2016
On November 8, 2016, Americans will cast their ballots in the presidential election. In 37 states, plus the District of Columbia, Americans will have the option to vote earlier than the scheduled election day. This allows residents to vote during a 10-day window immediately preceding Election Day. Early voting can result in more people voting, but it's an extra expense for towns. How could early voting could affect the presidential campaigns? Listen to hear more about the early voting process.
September 28, 2016
Mother Teresa, a Roman Catholic nun and missionary, worked for years with the poor in India and was known as a “modern day” saint. She was born to an Albanian family in Macedonia and was a devoted humanitarian until her death in 1997. Recently, she was canonized by Pope Francis and is now officially recognized as a saint. The Catholic Church has spent over a decade examining evidence of miracles attributed to Mother Teresa in order to make her a saint. Listen to hear how the Vatican determined Mother Teresa’s sainthood.
September 27, 2016
Parts of New Jersey and New York were rattled by several homemade pipe bombs set in different areas. One exploded in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York city injuring dozens of people. Police arrested Ahmad Khan Rahami based on evidence that he started buying materials to make explosive devices back in June, and that he recorded a video of himself setting off an explosive device near his home in New Jersey. Investigators think the motivation was tied to Islamic terrorism. Listen to hear more about this investigation and what may have motivated this attack.
September 26, 2016
Thousands of Native Americans and supporters are protesting the construction of an oil pipeline from North Dakota to central Illinois, that will transport 470,000 barrels of oil per day. They are against it because a section of the pipeline will run near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The tribe and its supporters have serious concerns about the project affecting their land and water. President Obama has ordered a temporary halt on the construction of the pipeline, but the Sioux tribe wants a permanent halt to the construction. Listen to hear more about this controversy.
September 23, 2016
During elections in the United States, many agencies run polls to predict who will win and by what margin. Using scientific methods, these polls are often somewhat accurate. Before the modern technique of polling, Americans used to place bets on who would win the election. Sometimes the loser would have to give up money, in other cases, the loser would have to do things like carry the winner around on his back or even eat a crow. Listen more to learn about the history of predicting election results and then debate: Should betting on elections be allowed?
September 22, 2016
Sharks can live to be over two hundred years old, and recently a Greenland shark was found who may have lived up to 512 years. These sharks are the longest living vertebrates known to exist. They can be found swimming in the Arctic seas, where researchers are spending time studying the old creatures. Listen to the story to hear more about this fascinating species.
September 21, 2016
Every major presidential campaign has its own logo. The candidates work closely with graphic designers to create logos that represent a certain message the candidate would like to send to the public. In graphic form, they can project a voice, impression and identity to voters. In this story a graphic designer analyzes the logos of two major presidential campaigns.
September 20, 2016
Immigrants living in the United States have a lot to learn when they first arrive. Parents must learn how the school system works in the United States so that they can ensure their children are successful. There are often cultural differences as well as language barriers, which make it difficult to adapt. An organization in Rhode Island helps immigrant parents navigate the school system by providing classes that are translated into several languages. Listen to hear what kinds of challenges immigrant parents face.