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February 14, 2017
North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile recently that few for about 300 miles and landed in the Sea of Japan. The test increases the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. The Prime Minister of Japan called the test "absolutely intolerable". If a nuclear warhead can be paired with a missile of this power, North Korea would be able to use the threat of nuclear attack to deter the United States from interfering in its affairs. Listen to learn more about North Korean weapon development and the danger it poses for the United States.
February 13, 2017
President Trump’s travel ban has already affected tens of thousands of people traveling to and from the United States. Among the affected groups are scientists. Scientific discovery often depends on the ability to communicate and collaborate with experts from around the world. However, with the travel ban in place, many are forgoing the trip to the United States entirely. Listen to learn more about specific examples of affected scientists and the impact the travel ban is having on the scientific community of the United States.
February 10, 2017
If you look up “lie” in the dictionary, it says a “false statement with the intent to deceive.” At President Trump’s first speech at the CIA headquarters, he made a number of untrue claims including falsely inflated numbers of attendees at his inauguration. Journalists have struggled with how to characterize the President’s wrong facts. NPR reporters used terms like “untrue claims” and “false denials” to describe the inaccuracies in Trump’s speech rather than labeling them as lies. The reporters were criticized for not referring to these falsehoods as lies. Listen to learn how reporters are debating when to use the word lie and then debate in your classroom: What is the difference between a lie and a false statement?
February 9, 2017
A new app is available allowing people to send anonymous compliments to one another. A twenty-five year old developer came up with the idea of creating a virtual compliment box able to impact people around the world. On the app, people can leave each other anonymous compliments, see photos of positive reactions and can choose to reveal their identity later. Listen to learn more about the origins of the app, and how the founder hopes to use it to create a kinder, more empathetic culture.
February 8, 2017
Environmentalists are taking a strong stance against President Trump’s executive order to revive two controversial oil pipelines—Keystone XL and Dakota Access. Several environmental groups have vowed to fight these pipelines in the courts and the streets if they are moving ahead. In addition, there are still hundreds of indigenous protestors at the Standing Rock camp in North Dakota who are committed to blocking construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. Backers of the projects say we need pipelines to transport oil more safely and efficiently. Listen to learn more about Trump’s plans to expedite pipeline construction and the groups working to block these projects.
February 7, 2017
President Donald Trump has selected Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch is a respect and deeply conservative justice. It’s expected many Democrats will oppose his nomination, in part because former President Obama had selected another justice to replace Scalia and the Republican majority Congress refused to meet with him for political reasons. Listen to hear about the political battle that is expected over the Supreme Court nominee.
February 6, 2017
Last week President Trump issued an executive order banning refugees for from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for a 90 day period. The order also prevents all refugees from entering the country for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely. Some experts fear this policy will have a strongly negative impact on foreign affairs, sending the message that the United States is at war with Islam and willing to restrict immigration based on religious beliefs. Listen to learn more about Trump’s refugee ban and its potential foreign policy consequences.
February 3, 2017
President Trump has assembled the richest administration in history. With the nomination of Vincent J. Viola as secretary of the Army, Trump’s cabinet now has a combined net worth of about $13 billion and includes four billionaires. Federal ethics regulations require many of these cabinet appointees to sell off some of their investments to avoid conflicts of interest. However, cabinet members who do sell investments are allowed to keep all of the profits without paying a capital gains tax. Listen to learn more about Trump’s cabinet and then debate the benefits and drawbacks of having a very wealthy people in key government positions.
February 2, 2017
California has been in a severe drought since 2014. It’s underground aquifers, which are permeable rocks that can hold groundwater are dry. During recent droughts, farmers pumped groundwater to irrigate their crops, which dropped the water table and drained the aquifers. In the Sierra Nevada Mountains, they are also getting less snow and more rain, which just runs into the ocean. Farmers are now experimenting with water management and ways to store excess water. With some recent heavy rains, rivers all over the state flooded and some farmers flooded their fields, letting the water seep deep into the ground to refill the aquifers. Listen to hear about ways to catch and store rainfall to help farmers.
February 1, 2017
For centuries police officers have used face-to-face conversations as a central part of their work. But as more younger officers join the force, these Millennials are used to having much of their social interaction online, and they don’t have a lot of experience engaging in conversation. Police departments are now requiring new police officers to have face-to-face conversations with the public and are teaching them how to read body language. A new training program for young police officers includes having them engage with strangers in conversation and providing feedback. Listen to hear more about this new training and why it’s needed.
January 31, 2017
Three countries are watching the policies of President Trump closely, since their relationship to the United States will likely change under this administration: China, Russia and Mexico. In China, they are watching what Trump has said about the One China policy, along with possible trade wars. In Mexico they are worried about the U.S. building a longer border wall and the President’s threat to impose a 20% tax on imported goods. In Russia, they are hoping sanctions will be lifted. Listen to hear three NPR reporters in China, Russia and Mexico talk about perceptions of the new President in each country.
January 30, 2017
As a part of his campaign promise to re-evaluate America’s free trade commitments, President Trump is pulling the United States out of a negotiated but not ratified agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. Trump promised on the campaign trail to withdraw from the TPP. He is also expected to renegotiate NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. Listen to one of Trump’s former economic advisors explain the new administration’s views on trade.
January 27, 2017
A recent study tested over 7,800 teenagers on their ability to differentiate fake from real news and sponsored ads from news articles. The results showed that 80-90 percent of high school students had a difficult time judging the credibility of news. This skill is necessary to make choices about what to believe and what to share. Listen to this story to hear more about this study and what can be done to educate people about fake news and then debate with your students, how can students become prepared to spot fake news?
January 26, 2017
Millions of people across the country and around the world marched the day after President Donald Trump took the oath of office. Women, men and children marched in hundreds of cities including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Austin, New York, Chicago, Paris, Delhi and Bangkok. The purpose, marchers say, is to take a stand for women's rights and against Donald Trump's agenda. Climate, science, women's rights, human rights, LGBT rights and minority rights are just a few of the issues that were highlighted by those who attended the women's marches. Listen to hear more about these demonstrations across the country.
January 25, 2017
Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. In his inaugural address, he laid out his vision for the country. He repeated themes from his campaign saying “Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves.” He called these “just and reasonable demands.” And he vowed to always put “America first.” Listen to hear parts of Trump’s inauguration speech.
January 24, 2017
Parents in France who want to prevent their kids from joining militant groups like ISIS now have some support. A French Muslim anthropologist, Dounia Bouzar, has written a book to help parents identify and defend against recruiters who "set out to break every emotional, social and historical tie in the kids' lives." She travels the country training psychologists, police and experts to deal with homegrown radicalization. One of the keys is reestablishing connections for the radicalized youth with their former lives. Listen to hear more about this woman’s method of diffusing the pull of radical Islam.
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.