Topic: Politics

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Current Event January 15, 2016

Debate: Should We Hold Historic Figures to Contemporary Standards about Race?

Politics Race

The name of President Woodrow Wilson is on programs and buildings at Princeton University and students are calling for its removal. The former president is remembered for his progressive views, but his record on race is divisive as he actively supported segregation. Some think his legacy is now disputed, and his name should be removed. Others think the answer is not to deny history but to understand it. Listen to this story with students and debate the issue of whether historic figures should be held to contemporary standards.

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Current Event January 12, 2016

Saudi Arabia Upsets Middle East Alliances

Politics Religion Middle East

The relationship between two powerhouses in the Middle East is deteriorating. Iran and Saudi Arabia are battling for domination and control of the Middle East. The withdrawal of the United States and the recent collapse of three Arab states has created a void of power. More recently there is also heightened tension between Sunnis and Shiites because Saudi Arabia recently executed a well known Shiite cleric. A mob in Iran then ransacked the Saudi Embassy. Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran and other Gulf states and recalled ambassadors from Shiite Iran. Listen to hear how this affects the United States policies and threatens peace talks in Syria.

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Bill clinton may 14 2009 3 by jake wellington

Current Event January 11, 2016

Bill Clinton Stumps for Hillary

Civics/Government Politics

With just weeks before the first votes are cast in the 2017 presidential race, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s husband hits the campaign trail. Former President Bill Clinton remains a popular figure among Democrats, but he also comes with a mixed history. Some are worried that he will overshadow Hillary on the campaign trail, but there are positives to having a former President promote a candidate. Listen to hear about the pros and cons of having Bill Clinton on the campaign trail.

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Current Event January 4, 2016

Women Enter Politics in Saudi Arabia

Politics Gender

In an historic election for women in Saudi Arabia, women won 20 seats out of about 2,000 seats available on local councils. It was historic because even though women in Saudi Arabia are banned from driving, they were allowed to vote and be candidates for the first time. Women had to be creative in their campaigning to work around rules about women traveling unaccompanied and forced segregation of men and women. Since Saudi Arabia is a monarchy, the royal rulers make all the important political decisions and smaller decisions are left to local councils. Even considering the restrictions on women, this is a step toward women having a voice in Saudi Arabia.

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Current Event December 18, 2015

Debate: Should We Set Limits on Campaign Contributions?


Campaign contributions come in from many sources. There are limits to the amount of money a campaign committee can contribute to support a candidate, but there are no limits on how much money a Super PAC can contribute. Republican Senator Mitch McConnell would like to change the campaign finance law. These laws were put into place to prevent corruption, but both Republicans and Democrats have been working to dismantle campaign finance limits. Listen to this story with your students and debate this question: Should we set limits on campaign contributions?

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Current Event December 14, 2015

Trump's Plan on Muslims

Politics Religion Democracy

Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, recently called for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. In making this announcement, he cited polls as evidence that large segments of Muslims hate Americans. This has prompted very strong criticism, including from some of his fellow Republican candidates and state party leaders. Trump announced this a day after President Obama urged Americans to reject discrimination against Muslim Americans. Listen to hear about the reactions to Trump’s idea.

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Current Event December 8, 2015

Sanders' Democratic Socialism


Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been campaigning across the country explaining his version of Democratic Socialism. He talks about the policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt as the framework for his own policies, trying to show socialism in a positive light. He states that “real freedom must include economic security.” Sanders is tying his ideas to the politics of the United States of the 1930s through 1960s. Listen to hear more about this version of Democratic Socialism.

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Current Event December 4, 2015

Debate: Should Rich Nations Pay to Preserve the Rainforest?

Politics Climate Change Geography Ecosystems

Scientists say the results will be devastating if we don’t address global warming. The Climate Summit in Paris this month will bring countries together to agree on a plan to slow climate change. People call the Amazon rainforest the “lungs of the world.” Most of Europe and America have already cut down their trees in favor of agriculture and industry. Is it fair to ask Brazil to sacrifice its interests to preserve the rainforest for the rest of the globe? Listen to this story and have students choose a side in this debate: Should rich nations pay to preserve the rainforest?

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Current Event November 18, 2015

ISIS Responsible For Paris Attacks

Politics Violence

In coordinated attacks at six sites across Paris, France, 129 people were killed and more than 200 people were injured. This large-scale terrorist attack is being claimed by the Islamic State, or ISIS. The terrorists used suicide belts and automatic weapons to attack people at a concert, a football game which the President of France attended, restaurants and cafes. Listen to hear what led to this attack and what is being done to prevent future attacks.

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Current Event October 2, 2015

Debate: What Role Should Religious Leaders Play in Politics?

Civics/Government Politics Religion

During his visit to the United States, Pope Francis delivered a speech before a joint meeting of Congress. The Pope’s message, “Remember the Golden Rule. Do unto others what you would have them do to you.” The Pope addressed immigration, protecting human life and climate change- all issues that Congress is divided about. He supported the position of Democrats on some issues and the position of Republicans on others. According to the First Amendment, there should be a separation of church and state, and the government cannot promote a particular religion. Are the Pope’s statements about controversial topics promoting religion in Congress? Should the Pope’s opinion influence U.S. policy? What role do religious leaders in general play in influencing politics? Discuss these issues and debate the role of religious leaders in politics.

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Iran deal square

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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Nsa phone square

Current Event May 21, 2015

Phone Tapping Questioned

Civics/Government Politics Ethics Constitution

The provision of the U.S. Patriot Act that authorized the mass collection of phone records in the United States and abroad is set to expire at the end of this month. The National Security Agency has been collecting data from personal phone calls in an effort to prevent another terrorist attack. The U.S. House of Representatives has taken action and passed a bill that strictly narrows the scope of this surveillance. But some members of the U.S. Senate want to leave the Patriot Act as it and renew it. Listen to learn more about this debate and the impact it will have on how government surveillance is used to fight terrorism.

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Current Event May 10, 2015

Gay Marriage Before the Supreme Court

Civics/Government Politics Ethics

On April 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against the constitutionality of state-level bans on gay marriage. This hearing combined four different cases and tackled two big questions: whether state bans on gay marriage are legal, and whether it is legal for states to not recognize marriages from states where gay marriage is legal. The cases sparked a long and heated Supreme Court session. A decision is expected at the end of June. Listen to hear questions and arguments from the justices on this controversial issue.

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Current Event April 26, 2015

Britain off the World Stage

Civics/Government Politics World History II

Great Britain has a long history as a global power. From colonies around the world to diplomatic leadership, Britain has been a powerful leader through history. But the United Kingdom’s involvement and influence has waned in recent years. Since Britain’s involvement in the military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the British people and their politicians in Parliament have withdrawn from the world stage and turned their attentions inward. Listen to learn more about the causes and effects of Britain’s surprising absence from the world stage.

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Current Event April 21, 2015

Hillary Clinton Is In

Civics/Government Politics

Hillary Clinton has officially announced that she is running for president in 2016. Clinton has been in national politics since her husband Bill Clinton became president in 1993 and she became the First Lady. Her image has survived several difficult events in her husband’s presidency. She went on to become a New York Senator and Secretary of State under President Barack Obama. Her long career means most voters think they know her, but she is setting out to reintroduce herself to the American people in her upcoming campaign. Listen to learn more about her career and campaign.

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Current Event March 29, 2015

Can a Canadian-Born Politician be President?

Civics/Government Politics Constitution

The first candidate in the 2016 US presidential race has announced he is running for president. But there could be a major problem with his candidacy. Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. Cruz was naturalized at birth because his mother is an American citizen. He renounced his dual US-Canadian citizenship in 2013. But the US Constitution says the US president must be a “natural born citizen.” Listen to learn more about what the Constitution says on this issue and what the founding fathers were protecting against when they included this requirement in Article 2.

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Current Event March 26, 2015

Gerrymandering and the Constitution

Civics/Government Politics Constitution

In the U.S. all voters are required to cast their ballots in the district that’s been assigned to them by their state legislature. The state has the power to create and change legislative districts. In some states legislative districts look like jigsaw puzzles, created to increase the chance that the party in power remains in power. This process is called gerrymandering. Some states are fighting this practice by creating independent commissions to control redistricting. One case has risen to the U.S. Supreme court, where the constitutionality of independent commissions is being challenged.

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Food safety and the jungle

ELA High School

Food Safety and 'The Jungle'

Politics Health Ethics Fiction Reform Informational Text Persuasive

Our food supply is considered safe today thanks in large part to a movement to improve safety following the publication of the novel in 1906, "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair. It was a vivid portrayal of the lives of immigrant families who worked in a meat-packing plant in Chicago. Americans were shocked and disgusted. This public radio story tells of how "The Jungle" galvanized public support to improve the safety of our food system.

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