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Current Events

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December 9, 2019

3:39

Drafting Articles of Impeachment

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that the House Judiciary Committee will write articles of impeachment against President Trump. The announcement follows weeks of hearings where witnesses testified about the president’s actions in Ukraine, which Pelosi says showed that the president abused his power. If the House of Representatives votes to approve the articles, President Trump will be impeached, and then the Senate will hold a trial to determine whether to remove him from office. Listen to hear Speaker Pelosi explain why she believes impeachment is necessary and learn what charges may be included in the articles of impeachment.

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December 6, 2019

3:26

Debate: Should Kids Have Smartphones?

Smartphones can help kids wake up on time, stay connected to their parents and friends, find information quickly, and access other useful resources. But children with smartphones are also vulnerable to cyberbullying, harmful content, and other risks. A recent national study found children are getting smartphones at younger ages, raising questions about how they are using smartphones and concerns about how to best protect them. Listen to hear more about the survey results and then debate: should kids have smartphones?

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December 5, 2019

5:10

Women Inventors

Inventors are not always famous people like Thomas Edison. They can be ordinary folks who think up new ways to solve everyday problems. Anyone can design a new gadget and patent it to protect the idea from being copied. Most inventors in the United States are men, leaving young women with few role models, but creative women hope that changes. Listen to hear female inventors describe how sticky tape and rainy days inspired their first inventions and why they believe more women inventors would benefit everyone.

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December 4, 2019

3:38

Living With Bears

Residents of Asheville, North Carolina find bears eating out of dog bowls, rummaging through garbage, and shaking seeds out of bird feeders. Instead of controlling the large population of black bears living in the area, the city lets them roam free. Asheville citizens have found ways to coexist with the large and sometimes dangerous woodland creatures that wander into their neighborhoods. Listen to hear a bear-friendly resident share strategies for living safely with local black bears.

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December 3, 2019

6:47

Harriet Tubman's Story

A filmmaker has brought an American heroine to life. The movie Harriet tells the story of Harriet Tubman, an escaped slave who risked her life many times to lead hundreds of her fellow slaves to freedom. The filmmaker wanted to show Tubman’s superhero qualities, along with her humanity, to make a legendary historical figure seem more real. Listen to hear the filmmaker explain why she was drawn to Harriet Tubman and how a hero from the 1800s can still inspire us today.

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December 2, 2019

4:59

The Dangers of Vaping

Recent reports of serious lung illness resulting from vaping have scared many, but there are many other health risks that are not as obvious. Nicotine inhaled through vaping can damage the developing brain. It binds to receptors throughout the brain, disrupting areas controlling memory, learning, and alertness and puts teens at risk for long-term learning and attention problems. Nicotine is also addictive, especially in young brains, and teens drawn to vaping’s appealing flavors often find themselves unable to quit. Listen to hear a young woman describe her vaping-related illness and learn from experts about the many health risks of teen vaping.

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November 27, 2019

3:44

Learning to Manage Money

How much allowance money do kids typically get these days? A group of accountants recently conducted a survey to learn the current going rate for kids’ pocket money. They also asked parents whether kids have to do chores for their allowances and polled kids on their savings habits. One expert called the survey results “a shocker.” Listen to learn more about what the expert thinks kids should be learning about managing money and how families can help.

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November 26, 2019

3:50

Counting Homeless Youth

Every year, volunteers from Youth Count comb the streets of Dallas looking for homeless youth. The group’s goal is to accurately count the number of young people living on the streets and collect data to help the city better meet their needs. Listen to hear a young woman describe how it felt to be homeless and discover how Youth Count aims to help end the problem.

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November 25, 2019

3:22

Rescuing Venice from the Floods

The worst flood in 50 years has hit the historic Italian city of Venice. The 6-foot high floodwaters damaged buildings, art, books, and other precious objects, and volunteers are streaming into the city to help. Listen to hear volunteers explain why they flocked to Venice after the flood and learn what is involved in saving the city’s valuable treasures.

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November 22, 2019

4:26

Debate: Should Political Ads Be Allowed on Social Media?

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook disagree on what to do with political ads. Twitter recently banned all political advertising, saying it could not fact-check the claims made by politicians and did not want to spread misinformation. But defining what counts as a political ad is tricky. Facebook continues to run political ads without fact-checking them, citing free speech. Critics claim that political ads on social media can be particularly misleading. Listen to hear an expert discuss these issues and then debate: Should political ads be allowed on social media?

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November 21, 2019

5:45

Student Loan Debt Grows

Some students are questioning whether the rising cost of a college degree is worth it. As the government reduces funding to public colleges, students and families are paying more. Many students graduate with crushing debt that limits their future choices. At the same time, the earning potential of college graduates compared to non-graduates has continued to climb, making a college education seem more important than ever. Listen to hear financial planning experts explain the pros and cons of a college education and ways to make college more affordable.

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November 20, 2019

3:08

The Secret Language of Plants

What does corn sound like when it grows? How does a cactus respond when you touch its spines? A new exhibit at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden allows visitors to hear the sounds plants make and answer those questions for themselves. Listen to find out what we can learn by paying attention to what plants are saying.

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November 19, 2019

4:03

What Japanese Americans Lost During WWII Internment

Shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1942, President Roosevelt ordered the relocation of thousands of Japanese Americans to detention centers. The order grew out of fear that these innocent citizens could become spies. Around 117,000 Japanese Americans were sent to incarceration camps, many losing their jobs, homes, and property. The internment of Americans of Japanese descent is now viewed as one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history. Listen to hear a Japanese American woman recall the experience of being uprooted from her home and how a neighbor helped her family.

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November 18, 2019

3:58

How Impeachment Works

Congress has launched an impeachment inquiry. Impeachment involves an investigation by the House of Representatives into potential wrongdoing by the president and, if they find it, a vote on whether to impeach. If a majority of House members vote yes, the president is impeached. His case then goes before the Senate for a trial to determine whether to remove him from office. Listen to hear a reporter clarify the steps in the impeachment process and explain what to expect as the impeachment of President Trump proceeds.

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November 15, 2019

3:52

Debate: Should Athletic Shoes Be Regulated?

The Nike Vaporfly, a super-light, bouncy running shoe, is helping athletes achieve record-breaking times, but also raising questions. Some argue the shoe gives athletes an unfair advantage, making sports more about equipment than conditioning. They believe running shoes should be regulated to make races fair. Others say it is impossible to define “unfair advantage” or to know how best to regulate shoes. Listen to hear a Boston Marathon winner explain the technology that has runners buzzing, and then debate: Should athletic shoes be regulated?

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November 14, 2019

3:33

Marijuana and Teen Health

The Surgeon General announced a campaign to educate young people about a drug he says is more dangerous than kids realize – marijuana. Today’s marijuana is typically three times stronger than in past decades and comes in different forms. Teens who use it regularly are more likely to do poorly in school, experience depression, and become addicted. But as marijuana has become legal in over 30 states, many teens seem unaware of the serious health risks it poses. Listen to hear a medical expert talk about the dangers of marijuana use and how the president has personally supported efforts to raise awareness.

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November 13, 2019

3:23

Saving Coral Through Captive Breeding

Coral reefs are endangered all around the world. Scientists are working on a variety of solutions to protect these important ecosystems and species. Recently, one Florida-based team was able to successfully breed corals in a lab. This is quite an accomplishment, especially since corals are delicate and require specific conditions to reproduce. Listen to learn how the Florida scientists managed to get corals to breed in a lab, and find out what it might mean for coral reefs around the world.

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November 12, 2019

6:53

The Meaning of "Quid Pro Quo"

“Quid pro quo” refers to someone doing a favor for another person and expecting something in return. Exchanging favors is common, but off-limits to politicians who could abuse their power. Congress is investigating whether President Trump sought a quid pro quo from the president of Ukraine by asking him to investigate a political rival in exchange for releasing U.S. aid funds. Listen to learn how the meaning of the Latin term quid pro quo has evolved over centuries and why asking for a favor can be complicated, even embarrassing.

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November 8, 2019

5:43

Debate: Should Synthetic DNA Production Be Regulated?

DNA is the molecular code that controls cells, instructing them to do everything from producing hormones to fighting an infection. For years, scientists have been making synthetic DNA and inserting it into cells in order to produce helpful chemicals for new medicines, food products, and more. But the genes in DNA can also be combined to make dangerous viruses like Ebola, and some people are questioning whether the system of safeguarding synthetic DNA works well enough to protect against dangerous misuse. Listen to hear what could happen if DNA falls into the wrong hands, and then debate: Should synthetic DNA production be regulated?

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November 7, 2019

2:21

Books on Instagram

"Alice in Wonderland" is now on Instagram. Social media fans can find five works of literature, including the classic novel by Lewis Carroll, on their social media feeds. The New York Public Library has posted multimedia versions of the works through its new Insta Novel project. By combining the fun and appeal of social media with popular novels and poems, the library hopes to attract new readers. Listen to hear a blogger describe her experience with "Alice" online, and discover how it lined up with the aims of the Insta Novel creators.

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November 6, 2019

4:49

Invasion of the Lanternflies

A Chinese insect has invaded Pennsylvania. It likely traveled on shipping containers across the Pacific ocean and when it arrived, it found bountiful food and no real predators. Now, the spotted lanternfly populations are getting out of control. With both ecosystems and businesses suffering, experts are considering drastic actions to reduce this invasive insect’s spread. Listen to learn more about the spotted lanternfly and scientists’ “crazy” solution to this bug’s growing numbers.

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November 5, 2019

4:13

California Wildfires Create State of Emergency

Wildfires are raging across California, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and prompting neighboring states to send supplies to help fight the blazes. Adding to the confusion, some areas have gone dark as California’s biggest electric company has shut off service. The company claims blackouts are necessary to contain the fires, but California’s governor blames the company for creating the problems that led to an unsafe electric grid. Listen to hear the governor of California describe how Californians can stay safe and why he feels such urgency about the electric company fixing the power grid.

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November 4, 2019

3:52

Ensuring Election Security

For many years, Americans have questioned whether our election system is secure. After Russians meddled in the 2016 U.S. election, officials have been trying to replace old voting machines and add other safeguards to ensure secure elections in 2020. In spite of their efforts, however, experts predict that millions of people will still vote on outdated machines in the next presidential election. Listen to hear about the risks to voting security posed by digital technology, how old-fashioned technology can help, and why more election interference is expected in the future.

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November 1, 2019

3:29

Debate: Should a River Be Granted Personhood?

A Native American tribe in California took an unusual step to protect a river central to its way of life – it gave the river the same rights as a person. The move allows the tribe to take legal action against anyone who harms the river. Listen to hear a tribal member explain the special role of the river in tribal life and why the group decided to take such bold action.

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October 31, 2019

2:12

Singular "They" Enters the Dictionary

The editors of the Merriam-Webster dictionary added a new meaning of the pronoun “they” to its pages, sparking controversy. Although “they” has long been understood to mean several people, now it can also be used to refer to one person who does not identify as either male or female. Some people find this confusing, while others welcome the addition of a word that is already commonly used. Listen to hear a dictionary editor explain how the tricky decision to add a new word to the dictionary is made.

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October 30, 2019

4:24

Birds Are Disappearing

According to a new report, bird populations are generally decreasing throughout North America. Having fewer birds could negatively impact our ecosystems and our lives. However, there are steps we can take to help our feathered friends bounce back. Listen to learn what factors are causing bird populations to decline and some simple steps people can take to help slow the trend.

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October 29, 2019

4:12

Vampire Bats

With their sharp teeth and thirst for blood, vampire bats can be frightening. They have been known to bite the feet of sleeping children, and they sometimes spread disease. But these fuzzy, wrinkle-nosed creatures are also loving friends. Listen to learn more facts, both scary and surprising, about the legendary vampire bat.

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October 28, 2019

3:51

Who Are The Kurds?

The Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the Middle East without a country of their own. The population is spread among Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, and many have been fighting to create an independent Kurdistan. Recently, the U.S. withdrew troops from northern Syria that were protecting the Kurds, and Turkey attacked Kurdish areas because of a longstanding conflict. The Kurds’ ethnic identity and their freedom to express it depend on which country they call home. Listen to the voices of a Kurdish guide and poet explain what it means to be a Kurd and describe the experience of living in the Kurdish region of Iraq.

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October 25, 2019

3:41

Debate: Can Social Media Cause Depression?

A recent study says teens are experiencing increased rates of depression, anxiety, and other serious mental health issues. Although the causes of the trend are not clear, some experts believe hours spent surfing online and using social media have sparked feelings of isolation and anxiety among young people. Others argue the stress stems from teens facing an uncertain future. Listen to experts discuss the roots of this troubling trend and then debate: Can social media cause depression?

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October 24, 2019

4:50

Revitalizing Neglected Urban Spaces

Landscape architect Walter Hood is famous for transforming worn out urban spaces into beautiful and useful places. The winner of a MacArthur Fellowship, also known as a “genius grant,” Hood researches the history of a neighborhood, talks to residents, and then incorporates their ideas into his designs. Listen to learn how Hood’s childhood memories influence his work and how he integrated a slave ship drawing into a museum design project.

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October 23, 2019

3:37

Fighting Aggressive Seagulls

The boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey, was plagued by food-stealing seagulls. They would dive down and snatch French fries, pizza, and even ice-cream right out of people’s hands. The city devised a creative solution to remedy this situation–more birds! Listen to learn how bringing in bigger birds made the boardwalk a friendlier place.

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October 22, 2019

3:40

Race-Conscious Admissions Allowed at Harvard

A Boston judge ruled that Harvard University’s admissions process is legal. Harvard had been sued by a group claiming the university discriminated against Asian-American applicants when deciding whether to admit them. The judge ruled that Harvard’s process was fair because it considers many other factors when admitting students, and affirmative action allows the university to ensure a diverse student body. Listen to learn how a ruling for Harvard could affect schools throughout the country and why the legal battle over using race in college admissions continues.

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October 21, 2019

2:56

Ocean Warming Is Accelerating

A recently released United Nations report looks at changes in the world’s oceans caused by a warming climate. The report found that oceans are rising at a faster rate than ever before and becoming more acidic, threatening human and fish populations. Communities that depend on the sea for their food and way of life are especially vulnerable. Listen to learn more about the challenges humans will face as sea levels continue to rise.

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October 18, 2019

2:52

Debate: Should College Athletes Profit from Playing Sports?

College athletes have been banned from earning money from their sports, but a new law in California will change that. Starting in 2023, college players in California will be allowed to endorse products and sign sponsorship deals. Supporters say that the law will finally give skilled college athletes who bring in millions of dollars for their universities an opportunity to profit themselves. Opponents argue the new law will ruin college athletics by making them more like professional sports. Listen to hear from people on both sides of the issue and then debate: Should college athletes profit from playing sports?

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October 17, 2019

5:31

Deadly Mosquito Changes History

Mosquitoes are biting insects that can bother people at summer barbecues, but they have also played an important role in human history. One historian says that mosquitoes have been critical in changing the course of history, primarily by spreading deadly diseases that have killed billions of people. He explains how new genetic tools might be used to eliminate the threat to humans posed by these dangerous insects, which offer no clear ecological benefits. Listen to hear the surprising ways that mosquitoes have influenced history and how mosquito populations could potentially be controlled.

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October 16, 2019

5:35

Trees Can Help Beat City Heat

Low-income urban neighborhoods are often hotter than wealthier neighborhoods in the same city. This is problematic, especially during heat waves, when residents’ health and even their lives could be at risk. One of the reasons poorer areas get hotter is because they tend to have fewer trees. Listen to learn how trees keep communities cool and why they are more prevalent in some neighborhoods than others.

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October 15, 2019

5:47

Reconsidering the "Hispanic" Label

“National Hispanic Heritage Month” is a time to celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of Americans with origins in countries once under Spanish influence. The term “Hispanic” was added to the U.S. census to identify members of a diverse group of people with common interests. However, some people feel the term is problematic because of its connection to Spanish colonialism. Many prefer the term “Latino,” while others like to be identified by their national heritage. Listen to hear a journalist explain various preferences for naming ethnic identity and what they mean to people.

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October 14, 2019

3:59

History of Impeachment

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to impeach a president considered unfit for office. First, the House of Representatives investigates whether the president has committed a crime and votes on articles of impeachment, and then the Senate holds a trial and votes on whether to remove the president from office. The current impeachment inquiry investigating President Trump is taking place in a strongly divided country. Listen to an expert explain what today’s Congress can learn from the past, and why no president facing impeachment has ever been removed from office.

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October 11, 2019

5:03

Debate: Should Congress Consider Reparations for Slavery?

Congress is debating whether and how to compensate the descendants of African-American slaves. Some argue that reparations, which means money paid to those who have been wronged, would fairly compensate African-Americans for the crimes committed against their ancestors. Others believe that the past is past, and that today’s citizens should not be required to pay for actions that did not involve them. Listen to hear a congressional representative explain how the legacy of slavery continues to impact black communities today and how the government might invest in addressing ongoing issues, and then debate: Should Congress consider reparations for slavery?

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October 10, 2019

5:06

Vaping Ads Target Teens

Vaping has been linked to illness and even some deaths, and critics are arguing that ads targeting young people contribute to this growing public health problem. Vaping advertisers are looking to successful cigarette ads of the past to help them attract new users. They emphasize flavored varieties that appeal to young people and promote vaping as a healthy alternative to smoking. Listen to hear how vaping companies are working with advertisers to skirt regulations and craft ads that attract teens to the risky practice of vaping.

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