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January 23, 2017
The Senate is holding confirmation hearings for President-elect Trump's Cabinet choices. Democrats say majority Republicans are rushing the nominees through the process and that several of them haven't yet completed or submitted all of the financial disclosure and ethics paperwork required. Each committee holding a hearing has its own set of rules about the information it requires. Listen to hear about this push to confirm Cabinet nominees quickly.
January 20, 2017
The man found guilty of killing 9 church members in South Carolina was recently sentenced to death. However, before the jury decided to put Dylann Roof to death, there was a lot of division among family members of the victims as to whether the death penalty should be applied. This story looks at the ethics and the moral positions in this case.
January 19, 2017
Donald J. Trump will be sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States. Inauguration day always occurs on January 20th following the presidential election. In recent history, at the start of every American presidency, the new president gives an inaugural address after being sworn into office. These speeches have sometimes become memorable tag lines for the president's priorities. This story is an historical reflection on several past inaugural addresses.
January 18, 2017
For people who are visually impaired, many of the experiences sighted people take for granted aren’t available, such as going to an art museum. Now, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. are offering special tours to help blind and visually impaired visitors “see” the art. This story takes you on a tour with this unique group of visitors.
January 17, 2017
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is under control now, according the the World Health Organization. During the outbreak in 2014, 11,000 people in Africa died of Ebola. Now scientists have discovered a vaccine against Ebola. The vaccination is different from other vaccines, which are typically given to healthy people before they are exposed to a virus. This new vaccine is given to someone after they are exposed to Ebola and can protect them. Listen to this story to learn more about this important discovery.
January 13, 2017
People around the world experience racism. In the United States the Civil Rights act of of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race. It’s a civil law, which means companies could face fines if they break it. Countries respond to racism in different ways. In Brazil, in an effort to curb racism, the country had made it a criminal act to be racist. If caught and found guilty, you could go to jail. This audio story explores how even with laws against racism, the practice continues in Brazil. Listen and debate this question: Can racism be outlawed?
January 12, 2017
Scientists are experimenting with genetically modifying mosquitoes to wipe out some diseases like malaria. Every year malaria kills a million people. This new technique uses genetic engineering to alter mosquitoes genes. It’s a practice called “gene drive” and it’s controversial because it can be use to eradicate disease but could also be used as a weapon. This audio story explores the science behind gene drives and the controversy surrounding the technique.
January 11, 2017
There are parallels between the race struggles of Martin Luther King half a century ago and the Black Lives Matter movement of today. This story tells of how attention is being brought to the disparities between races in the United States, and how the message has changed from an aspirational tone to a commitment to truth-telling. Protesters in both struggles were working to transform America and focus on respect. Listen to hear more about civil rights activism in this interview recorded on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
January 10, 2017
A week of high pollution levels in Paris has brought strict restrictions on driving. The Paris mayor is making public transportation free in an effort to reduce the pollution particles in the air. There are also health concerns if people breathe this air for more than an hour, so some school sports and outdoor activities were banned temporarily. Listen to hear more about how Paris is managing this pollution crisis.
January 9, 2017
This week, the Obama administration announced sanctions against Russia after saying it was confident the Russian government interfered in last year's presidential election. The purpose is to deter Russia from cyberspace hacking in the future. The United States also expelled 35 undercover intelligence agents to deter Russia from harassing U.S. diplomats in Russia. Listen to hear more about possible retaliation and what actions are legal when the U.S. is not at war.
January 6, 2017
China is working to improve its public education by focusing on sparking curiosity and encouraging students to think independently. Traditionally, the focus was on gathering knowledge, passing tests and following orders. Now, students in some schools do their own research and discuss their ideas, which is helping to improve student achievement. In a country where Chinese authorities traditionally assign students’ college majors and jobs, these changes in the education model will help students think for themselves and also thrive in Chinese society.
January 5, 2017
Fake news stories with clickable headlines that millions of people read and share have become a focus during the U.S. Presidential Election. People who run fake news sites make a lot of money from advertising. The identities of these fake news creators can be hard to track. In this story a reporter pursued one story to its creator to learn about why he started writing fake news. Listen to hear more about how untrue news goes viral, and who creates these stories.
January 4, 2017
Five centuries ago, a German monk named Martin Luther protested the practice of indulgences. Christians who hoped to go to heaven and escape purgatory could make a cash offering to buy an “indulgence” certificate. The money often supported corrupt church officials and politics. Martin Luther presented 95 “theses” against the sale of indulgences, and sparked the Protestant Reformation. These ideas were circulated widely due to the recent invention of the printing press. Listen to hear more about how this technology changed religious ideas.
January 3, 2017
The U.S. Capitol is a very dog-friendly workplace and lawmakers have been bringing their dogs to the Capitol since the 1800s. They used to sit at Congressmen’s feet in the Senate Chamber and roam the hallways with their owners. There are occasions when the dogs fight with each other, but mostly they are a friendly face in the lawmakers’ workplace. Listen to hear more about these dogs and their long history in the Capitol.
December 23, 2016
The Department of Labor has guidelines for companies that want to use unpaid interns. Essentially, unpaid interns have to be treated like students and shouldn't do the work of paid employees. But those rules don’t apply to government internships. There are hundreds of interns that work for free in government agencies, and one former intern is trying to change that because he says it favors students who come from wealthy families who can afford to support the students during the internship. Listen to this story and debate whether government interns should be paid.
December 22, 2016
Lawmakers in South Korean voted 234-56 recently to impeach President Park Geun-hye. A constitutional court will now decide whether to remove her from office because of her involvement in a corruption scandal. In South Korea there have been protests of Park’s leadership, with over 2 million people calling for her impeachment. President Park’s power as president is temporarily removed as the court makes its decision. Listen to hear more about the ongoing political events in South Korea.
December 21, 2016
During the Christmas season, people of other faiths, such as Jews and Muslims, spend the holiday in different ways. Muslims and Christians both believe that Jesus is a prophet and Mary is a saint. One chapter in the Quran is titled ‘Mary' and retells the story of Christ’s birth, which point to similarities between religions. Listen to hear from Muslims about what new traditions come out of spending Christmas in the United States.
December 20, 2016
The first American to orbit the Earth, John Glenn, also had a political career as a U.S. senator. After his historic space flight, he served in Congress for 24 years. At the end of his political career, at the age of 77, he went back into space and became the oldest person to fly in space on the shuttle Discovery. Listen to hear more about the extraordinary life of John Glenn.
December 19, 2016
There is evidence that a CIA assessment found that Russia intervened in the U.S. presidential election to try to help Donald Trump win. In this story, a reporter from the Washington Post discusses what they found out about how the Russians intended to help Trump in the election. It’s known that Russians hacked into both Democratic and Republican emails, and released emails to Wikileaks that were damaging to the Democratic campaign. President-elect Trump has stated that he does not trust the CIA’s assessment. Listen to hear more about what is known about the CIA report.
December 16, 2016
Voters in three cities in California voted to place a one cent-per-ounce tax on sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Proponents of the ballot measure believe the soda tax will help keep kids healthy and cut down on obesity. This movement to tax sugary drinks is becoming popular in other states and worldwide. In Mexico, a tax on sugary beverages resulted in a 20% drop in sales. Listen to this story and debate both sides of a tax on sugary beverages.
December 15, 2016
A theater in Providence, Rhode Island is making an effort to get more people interested in Shakespeare, regardless of the language they speak. A touring production of Romeo and Juliet was performed in both English and Spanish. The theater first put on the play in Providence, where nearly 40 percent of the population is Latino. Listen to the story to hear the experiences of the director and actors to learn how putting on this production was a chance to showcase the culture of Latinos.
December 14, 2016
The alt-right movement, which has been associated with white nationalism, is receiving more attention since the U.S. Presidential election. There is a debate about the best term to describe this movement. Richard Spencer, who coined the term “alt-right” states that this is a movement of consciousness and identity for European people in the 21st century. Leaders of this movement reject the suggestion that the movement is either racist or white supremacist, although Spencer ended a speech with “Hail, Trump!” while supporters made the Nazi salute. Listen to hear more about this group and the debate around it.
December 13, 2016
Recently, Austria held a runoff election for president and Italy voted on changes to its constitution. The countries voted on different things, but the underlying issue was the future of Europe. After the Brexit vote, where Britain voted to leave the European Union, Austria predicted a victory for a far-right, anti-immigration candidate. In their election upset, the leftist leader won the vote. In Italy, the country’s position in the European Union was challenged and a growing anti-establishment mood won the election, rejecting the changes to its constitution. As a result, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned, and asked the government to carry out its mission faithfully. Listen to hear more about these important elections.
December 12, 2016
A fire broke out in a warehouse in Oakland where a number of people lived. The warehouse was converted to artist studios and living spaces. At least 36 people died in the fire. Some people are raising questions about this housing arrangement and other artists’ communities because there were no sprinklers or fire alarm system in the building. Listen to hear from one artist who lived in the warehouse and escaped from the building after the fire broke out.
December 9, 2016
Law enforcement’s use of facial recognition databases is expanding, but the technology is not as accurate as it could be. Nearly half of all American adults, more than 117 million people, have been entered into a database for use by police and FBI. In large databases, it is more likely to find people who look similar. This technology also does not work well with darker skin. Listen to hear more about this technology and debate whether law enforcement should rely on facial recognition.
December 8, 2016
Wildfires swept through the city of Gatlinburg Tennessee, destroying several businesses and homes, forcing everyone to evacuate. The Great Smoky Mountains were being threatened by wildfires, along with Ripley’s Aquarium which houses 10,000 sea creatures. The staff at the aquarium were not allowed to stay and worried about the air quality and the flames reaching the building and the animals. Listen to this story to hear about the relief felt by the staff the next day.
December 7, 2016
Dark matter is invisible and barely interacts with anything else. Finding dark matter and proving it exists is a difficult task. There are a few theories about what dark matter is but no one has found a way to detect it. It could be that the universe is mostly invisible. Listen to hear more about dark matter and what it can tell us.
December 6, 2016
In 2002 the U.S. Supreme Court barred the execution of the intellectually disabled. But states have the ability to decide who is given the label of "mentally retarded." (This outdated term is used throughout this story since it’s the language in the court case.) The U.S. Supreme Court heard a case that questions what standards states may use in determining whether a defendant convicted of murder is mentally deficient. Listen to hear about this argument.
December 5, 2016
Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has died at age 90. Castro took power in the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and was in power for nearly 50 years leading the only communist state in the Western Hemisphere. He led a movement to overthrow Fulgencio Batista, Cuba's military dictator, and had wide support from Cubans. But there were flaws in his socialist system, and the economy, education, and health care systems fell into disrepair. Castro outlasted many U.S. presidents and their attempts to overthrow him. He was a skilled politician with a complex legacy, and a man determined to continue holding power whatever the costs. Listen to hear more about the leadership and life of Fidel Castro.
December 2, 2016
The United Nations set an ambitious goal of ending extreme poverty and fighting disease by 2030. But a lot of governments and international organizations and researchers still aren't collecting basic statistics. For example, currently over 150 million kids in poor countries have stunted growth, largely due to malnutrition, but there isn’t data about which nutrients available in these countries are most needed to prevent malnutrition. The data gap is especially noticeable when it comes to statistics on girls and women. This makes it hard to prioritize health spending. Listen to this story and debate what can be done to improve data on poverty.
December 1, 2016
Scientific discoveries are rarely the result of a “eureka!” moment. A recent discovery in biotech, called CRISPR, is an example of a discovery made by many people in labs all over the world. In the CRISPR discovery, there are issues of identifying exactly what that discovery is: a way to cut and paste DNA, how to control that process, or how to make it into a tool. In science, the question of who should get the credit often depends on who gets a paper published first, and not who discovered it first. Listen to hear about the process of discovery.
November 30, 2016
Twitter and Facebook say they are cutting off bulk data access to a firm that scans vast amounts of public social media posts. Critics say the service enables police to conduct invasive surveillance. Others say that social media is a useful tool in investigating crimes. Listen to hear more about this controversy, which includes the issue of protecting civil rights and law enforcement’s use of commercial products.
November 29, 2016
The Philippines’ former dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, died in exile in Hawaii more than two decades ago. Where to bury the dictator has been tied up in a court battle, but the justices of the highest court recently ruled he should be laid to rest in Manila's Heroes Cemetery. Opponents argue that he was no hero and doesn’t deserve to be buried there, but others think this will be an important step to heal the nation from his divisive rule. Listen to this story and hear about the reaction of people from the Philippines.
November 28, 2016
The U.S. federal anti-nepotism law prevents a public official from appointing a relative to a position in their agency. It was made a law in 1967 after President John F. Kennedy nominated his brother as Attorney General. It is also used to prevent congressmen from hiring their wives to work in their offices. President-elect Donald Trump has relied on his son-in-law as a key adviser during his campaign. If his son-in-law were given a job in the White House, it would raise legal questions around nepotism. Listen to learn more about nepotism laws in the U.S.
November 23, 2016
Since Donald Trump's election victory, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come out twice to address the issue of fake news. A spokesperson said Facebook is not doing business with fake news apps. These are sites that promote false and inaccurate information which then goes viral. Facebook sells ad space inside its news feed and says these outside parties are not allowed to use the ad network. However, stories make money for Facebook when they are clicked, if they happen to get posted. Google, another tech giant, said it's working on a policy to keep its ads off fake news sites. Listen to hear more about this social media controversy.
November 22, 2016
Hundreds of thousands of South Koreans from across the country gathered in central Seoul recently, in an organized and peaceful protest against the president, Park Geun-hye. They are demanding she resign because she has been charged with abuse of power and fraud. The South Korean president shared classified information with a friend and was advised by her on a range of state affairs. President Park says she understands the seriousness of this situation, but shows no sign she will resign. Listen to hear more about the government crisis in South Korea.
November 21, 2016
Immigration was a big issue in the U.S. presidential election and president-elect Donald Trump has said he definitely plans to build a barrier on the U.S. border with Mexico. He said he will prioritize deporting unauthorized immigrants with criminal records. Immigration and Customs Enforcement estimates about 2 million undocumented immigrants fall into this category, but the majority are not drug dealers or murderers, but charged with nonviolent crimes such as shoplifting. Listen to hear more about the potential plans of the incoming Administration.
November 18, 2016
The United Nations is set to appoint Wonder Woman as its honorary ambassador for a new social media campaign focused on the empowerment of women and girls. Many people agree that Wonder Woman is an appropriate choice, and think that she sends a strong message that girls can do anything. However, some feminist groups oppose the decision. Listen to hear what each side thinks about Wonder Woman becoming an ambassador for women’s issues and then debate: Is Wonder Woman a good Ambassador for Women’s Empowerment?
November 17, 2016
More than 65 million people around the world have been forced to leave their homes. These refugees are fleeing violence, persecution and natural disasters in their countries. The journey is often dangerous. Doctor’s Without Borders, an international humanitarian aid organization, created an exhibit to help Americans understand what it’s like to be a refugee. Listen to hear how visitors reacted to this experience.
November 16, 2016
Scurvy is an ancient disease that used to prevent long distance sea travel. People need to eat food containing vitamin C to prevent scurvy, so it's rarely seen today because most people have a vitamin rich diet. But recently, cases of scurvy have appeared in some populations. Low-income males and people with mental health issues are especially at risk. Scurvy is easy to treat, and eating more vitamin C is enough to reverse its effects. However, doctors often don’t think to look for scurvy, thinking it’s a disease from the Ancient Egyptians, not today. Listen to hear how doctors are helping their patients deal with the reappearance of this old illness.