All Social Studies

Current Event October 26, 2015

Religious Diversity Under Threat

Religion Middle East

Religious diversity is under threat in the Middle East according to a new report by the U.S. State Department. The threat is coming mainly from ISIS. The report recounts the ways ISIS, or the Islamic State, is threatening and attacking Christians and other minority groups. The State Department says these groups are being targeted, sold into slavery or killed. Some want the US. to call these attacks genocide. The U.S. has a special team working on this, acknowledging there is no magic button to fix these issues. Listen to hear about these increased attacks on religious diversity and what it means for the future of the Middle East.

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Current Event November 19, 2015

Racial Issues on College Campus

Race Protest

At the University of Missouri several racially charged events went unaddressed. Racist graffiti, open racial slurs and simmering racial tension were met with no response from the school’s administration. Out of frustration, many students protested. One graduate student went on a hunger strike and the football team refused to play until the President of the university resigned. The pressure by students forced the President, as well as the Chancellor, to step down. Listen to this story to hear more about the message this sends to the students on this campus.

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Current Event October 5, 2015

Syria the Target of Russian and US Bombs

Middle East Civil War

Russia and the U.S. are conducting airstrikes in Syria, with the agreed target of ISIS. However, Russia has launched 20 airstrikes on other targets besides the terrorist group. The U.S. Defense Secretary said the strikes were expected, but to some, the targets may be a surprise. Russia is said to have targeted rebels who oppose Syrian President Assad, a Russian ally but no friend of the United States. The Defense Secretary said this development may prolong the civil war and drive Syrians toward ISIS. With both Russia and the U.S. conducting air operations in the same country, errors or mistakes are likely. This week, Russia and the U.S. will hold talks to make sure both sides’ pilots do not harm each other during the bombings. Listen to hear more about this developing conflict.

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Current Event October 7, 2015

Economic Power of Latinos

Civics/Government Economics Immigration

When Donald Trump announced he was running for President he made derogatory remarks about Mexican immigrants, characterizing them as criminals. The Latino community responded not with riots and protests, but with their economic power. In reaction to Trump’s remarks, companies that see a lot of revenue from Latino customers pulled out of Trump owned products or events. Macy’s will no longer carry Trump’s menswear line, NBC will no longer allow him to host and Univision will no longer air beauty pageants that he partially owns. Latinos’ purchasing power is expected to reach $1.5 trillion this year. Listen to hear more about how Latinos are using their economic influence.

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Current Event September 10, 2015

Kentucky Clerk Refuses Same-Sex Couples

Civics/Government Religion Constitution

A county clerk in Kentucky was briefly jailed for contempt of court for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A 2015 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage and requires all clerks to issue licenses to same-sex couples. The Kentucky clerk says she won’t go against her religious beliefs, which condemn same sex relationships. Although the law does not support her decision, she has supporters in Kentucky. She lives in a state where same-sex marriage was banned in 2004.

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Current Event September 25, 2015

Debate: Is Bowe Bergdhal Guilty?

Law Veterans

U.S. Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl went missing from his base in Afghanistan and was captured by the Taliban. He was rescued by a U.S. Special Operations team five years later as part of a controversial swap for five Taliban officials. A hearing is underway to decide whether to bring charges against Sergeant Bergdahl for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. The prosecution is arguing that Bergdahl intentionally broke the rules and endangered the safety of others. The defense says it was the supervising officer’s fault because he chose to conduct a 6 week long dangerous search for Bergdahl. The search put other soldiers at risk. Who is to blame? Use this story to hear about Bergdahl’s disappearance and debate in class whether he’s guilty of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

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Current Event September 11, 2015

Uber Versus Taxis

Economics Law

Uber is a leader in the “sharing economy.” It brings together people who need rides with people who have cars. But its business model has been challenged by the traditional taxi business as well as by its own drivers. Uber drivers argue that they should be classified as employees and not contractors. In California, the law states that employers have to reimburse employees for expenses to do their jobs. Now a federal lawsuit is digging into this issue. Use this story to spark a debate among your students.

Debate It! Uber Versus Taxis: Should Uber drivers be classified as employees or independent contractors? Provide evidence for your opinion.

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Current Event September 14, 2015

Why Run For President?

Civics/Government

The next U.S. President will be elected in November, 2016. But the race is already packed with candidates. There are more than two dozen major candidates who are seeking the job as president. Running for president is difficult and exhausting, so why would so many people want to run? There are many reasons, both legitimate and delusional. Without an incumbent president, a lot of people think they have a chance to win this election. Some candidates hope to bring attention to their message and some to cash in on their new celebrity. Listen to hear about this race and the reasons so many people are running for President this year.

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Current Event September 21, 2015

American Catholic Church Sustained by Immigrants

Immigration Religion

Pope Francis, the worldwide leader of the Catholic Church, is visiting New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC this week. He is expected to speak about immigration reform. Many Catholic churches in the U.S. were originally established by European immigrants and are now relying on newer immigrants to America to keep them open. As the number of American born Catholics has dropped, the number of immigrants have increased. More than a quarter of the Catholics in America today were born outside of the U.S. and Hispanics and Asians are keeping Catholic churches vibrant. Listen to hear how the Catholic parishes are being replenished.

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Current Event September 23, 2015

Interest Rates At All Time Low

Economics

Interest rates in the United States are currently lower than they have ever been. Economists are divided about whether the Fed should raise the rates. The last time interest rates were raised was 2006. At that time, keeping the rates low prevented more companies from failing, households from going bankrupt and a likely depression. Recently the Fed met to decide whether or not it was time to raise the interest rate. This radio story aired before the decision was made, and discusses the pros and cons of each option.

As a follow up you may also want to listen to this story to hear why the Fed made its decision to leave rates where they are, for now.

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Current Event October 19, 2015

Israeli Palestinian Conflict Goes Back Centuries

Religion Protest Middle East

Israelis and Palestinians have had conflicts for centuries. Recently the violence and death toll on both sides has dramatically increased. The focus of the dispute is on one site in the Holy Land that is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. It’s known as Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims. According to an agreement in 1967, Muslim religious authorities administer the site, Israel controls security, and non-Muslims are not allowed to pray there. Jewish activists have recently decided that this is a holy place where Jews should pray, and their mass visits have caused protests. Listen to hear how control over Temple Mount has led to violence and threatens stability in the country.

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Current Event June 21, 2015

Misrepresenting Race

Race US History II Ethics Civil RIghts

The NAACP is a national civil rights organization that represents and works to serve the African American community. It was recently discovered that an NAACP leader from Spokane Washington lied and misrepresented her race. Rachel Dolezal was born to two white parents but identifies as black and has falsely claimed African American and Native American heritage. This falsehood had prompted a larger conversation about about racial boundaries and how they are observed.

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Current Event July 7, 2015

Future of the Confederate Flag

Race US History I Civil War

In June a 21-year-old white man entered a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, attended the bible study, and then shot and killed nine of the black church members. The alleged shooter was later identified as Dylann Roof, a self proclaimed white supremacist who photographed himself with a Confederate flag and hoped to start a race war. Listen to this story to learn how the attack has reignited the debate about the role of the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern heritage.

Update: South Carolina Governor signed a bill that removes the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol grounds on July 9, 2015.

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Current Event June 17, 2015

What Cheap Clothes Really Cost

Civics/Government Economics Religion

As people head out to buy summer clothes a new documentary called “The True Cost” asks people to stop and consider all it takes to create affordable clothing. Clothing is a rare product where the price of a dress or shirt has dropped, but the cost to create it hasn’t. The increased production of clothing and the decreased cost has negatively affected workers across the world. It’s also had an impact on the environment. Listen to learn more about the economics of T-shirts that cost $5.

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Current Event June 26, 2015

Napoleon’s Legacy Still Divides

World History I Imperialism

Napoleon Bonaparte is a controversial figure in France and Europe as a whole. The French Revolution began as a fight for democracy, but it ended with Napoleon Bonaparte naming himself emperor. Napoleon brought progress and equality through his Napoleonic Code, but he betrayed the revolution with his concentration of power and military expansion throughout Europe. Napoleon was defeated by English and Prussian forces for the final time at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815. As Belgium and England celebrate their victory 200 years later there is uncertainty in France about how to mark Napoleon’s defeat and remember his mixed legacy.

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Current Event June 12, 2015

Drones Track Illegal Logging

Life Science Economics Ecosystems

Rainforests are one of the most diverse and important ecosystems on Earth. Many rainforests have been protected as conservation areas or trusts. Unfortunately, some of these areas are so large and remote that they are almost impossible to monitor. A conservation group in Peru is fighting against deforestation by using drones. Small low-flying light weight airplanes can fly over and take pictures of parts of the remote jungle to find deforestation. Listen to learn more about the use of drones to protect the rainforest.

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Current Event June 9, 2015

China - U.S. Friend or Foe?

Civics/Government World History II Geography

Since the end of World War II, the United States has served as a dominant military and political power in Asia. The enormous economic growth of China has some former U.S. diplomats worried. When China’s economy shifted from pure government control to a more mixed model they widened their international impact and their scope of interest. Should we continue to see China as a solid ally in the region or as a powerful potential rival? Listen to hear why to former diplomats argue that China is a threat.

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Current Event June 10, 2015

A Computer Therapist

Technology Psychology Veterans

When veterans return from combat they bring with them memories of their service that can impact their mental health. Successfully screening returning veterans for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression is a challenge. The University of Southern California has designed a computer program, known as Ellie, that could help solve this problem. Ellie analyzes the tone and facial expressions of soldiers as they answer questions. It’s able to detect more than you might think. Listen to learn more about this promising new technology and how it can help veterans heal.

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Current Event June 14, 2015

Corruption in Soccer

Civics/Government Ethics

Top officials at FIFA, the group that governs international soccer and the World Cup, have been accused of corruption. Investigators in the United States and Switzerland have uncovered bribes and wire transfers between World Cup host countries and FIFA officials. Sepp Blatter, who has served as FIFA’s president for 17 years has resigned in the face of this scandal. Listen to learn more about the scandal rocking the soccer world.

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Current Event July 28, 2015

Iran Deal Faces Congress

Civics/Government Politics

The Obama Administration has signed a deal with Iran aimed at preventing Iran’s ability to create nuclear weapons. In exchange, the US will lift some economic sanctions against Iran. The President is allowed to make treaties, so President Obama doesn’t need approval from Congress. However, the President does need the legislative branch to agree to lift the sanctions. This push and pull between branches of government has the power to destroy the deal if Congress won’t agree to lifting the sanctions. President Obama’s cabinet members are aggressively promoting the deal to Congress in the hopes of getting enough Democratic support for it to survive. Listen to hear more about this debate.

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