Current Event June 21, 2017
President Trump is being sued by Maryland and the District of Columbia for violating the Constitution's anti-corruption law. The lawsuit was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a bipartisan group in Washington D.C. The lawsuit says that Trump is accepting money from foreign governments when diplomats and others stay at his hotel. Also, when foreign countries have their officials stay at the Trump hotel in Washington, it harms other local businesses. Listen to hear more about this clause in the Constitution and the lawsuit that was filed.
Current Event June 14, 2017
President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. The accord is an international agreement signed by more than 190 countries who have agreed to address climate change by trying to keep global temperature rise this century below 2 degrees. Trump says that the Paris Agreement would have been bad for U.S. workers and their businesses. The U.S. produces the second highest greenhouse gas emissions and is only topped by China, who remains committed to the agreement. Listen to learn more why Trump decided to leave the agreement and what it might mean for the future.
Current Event June 5, 2017
General Manuel Noriega, the former dictator of Panama, has died at the age of 83. Noriega’s attacks on American citizens in Panama led to the 1989 U.S. invasion of the country that links Central America to South America. When President George H.W. Bush ordered the invasion, it was the largest U.S. military action since the Vietnam War. Noriega was ultimately ousted and sentenced to 40 years in prison in the U.S. for drug smuggling. Listen to learn more about Noriega’s life, his brutal rule, and his fall from power.
ELA Middle School
Author Marjane Satrapi created the graphic novel “Persepolis”—later adapted as a movie—about her experience growing up during the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. Satrapi was a rebellious teenager, fighting to maintain her beliefs and individuality while living under a government that dictated how its people should live—for example, mandating that women must wear veils. Listen to hear about the Iranian government’s reaction to the movie and how others reacted to it.
Current Event May 24, 2017
As the economic crisis deepens and the political climate intensifies in Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro announced he’s creating an assembly of representatives to propose changes to the country’s constitution. While Maduro says it is an attempt to bring peace, opponents see it as a move towards dictatorship. Opponents took to the streets in the capital city of Caracas in protest, adding to other protests that have been going on for months. Listen to hear more about what this means for Venezuela's future.
Current Event May 23, 2017
The U.S. Deputy Attorney General appointed a special counsel, former FBI director Robert Mueller, to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The appointment comes after President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was investigating possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. In addition, the President reportedly asked Comey to drop the investigation into his former national security advisor. Listen to learn more about how this special counsel might impact the future of the Russian investigation.
Current Event May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump has fired FBI director James Comey. The reason given by President Trump was that Comey “wasn’t doing a good job”. However, Comey was also in the middle of an investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. elections and possible collusion between Trump and Russia, which many believe to be the actual motivation for his firing. Listen to learn more about President Trump’s decision to fire Comey and the future of the investigation into Russia.
Current Event May 15, 2017
Centrist politician Emmanuel Macron has won the presidential election in France, defeating far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. He now faces the challenge of unifying his movement into a political party, winning seats in parliament, and running a deeply divided country despite his limited experience in government. Listen to learn more about Macron, the challenges he faces as president, and the political divisions in France.
Current Event May 3, 2017
President Donald Trump has reached 100 days in office, and he is beginning to feel the pressure to make good on his campaign promises. President Trump has promised to unveil a “phenomenal” tax reform, and as a result, investors are cautious as they wait to see if the tax reform is passed. Many are also curious about the federal budget and concerned about some of Trump’s plans, such as cutting federal aid. Listen to learn more about President Trump’s economic policies in his first 100 days.
ELA High School
Throughout his life in South Africa, playwright Athol Fugard witnessed firsthand the cruelty and injustice of apartheid. Not only did racism fracture the country he loved so dearly, but it also created profound strain in his relationship with his father, whom he calls “a huge bigot.” Many elements of that difficult and complex relationship resonate throughout Athol’s play “‘Master Harold‘. . . and the Boys,” which became a Broadway hit at the peak of the anti-apartheid movement. Lisa Fugard, Athol’s daughter, also grew up in South Africa but left the country to pursue an acting career and later became a writer. Listen to hear about how both father and daughter explored their personal and the political struggles brought about by apartheid.
Current Event May 1, 2017
British Prime Minister Theresa May has called for early national elections in the U.K. to take place in June. The move is an attempt on her part to beat her Labor Party opposition and secure political support for Brexit negotiations, which would withdraw the U.K. from the European Union. May hopes to gain a stronger majority in Parliament in order to advance Brexit as well as other domestic reforms. Listen to learn more about the British Prime Minister’s decision and its possible impact.
Current Event April 24, 2017
During his trip to South Korea, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea against testing the “strength of the Armed Forces of the United States”. The warning came a day after a failed ballistic missile test in North Korea. Pence also described the U.S. alliance with South Korea as “ironclad” and “immutable”. Listen to learn more about how the Trump administration is taking a more aggressive stance against North Korea.
Current Event April 18, 2017
Often, after a tragedy, rumors and false news stories about the event spread on the Internet. Many of these fake news stories promote the idea that the government is making up these events in order to advance its own secret goals. The motivation for spreading fake news ranges from real beliefs in conspiracy theories to drawing in more website traffic to undermining mainstream media for political gains. Listen to learn more about how fake news spreads and why.
Current Event April 17, 2017
On Thursday, April 6, President Donald Trump authorized airstrikes against Syrian military infrastructure targets in response to an apparent chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad. Now, Congressional leaders are asking Trump to outline his broader strategy for dealing with the Middle East conflict. Among their questions are how Trump plans to defeat the Islamic state, or ISIS, and how he will deal with Assad’s regime in Syria without creating a failed state. Listen to hear more about the challenges of creating a broader Syrian strategy.
Current Event April 13, 2017
Southwestern Pennsylvania is coal country, though most of the mining and steel jobs are long gone. A reporter talked with a father and daughter who have very different outlooks on life. The father is skeptical about climate change. His daughter is in college with plans to be an engineer and work on environmental issues. Their first conversation about climate change happened a year ago and was revisited recently. Listen to hear the common ground and differences in opinion between this father and daughter.
Current Event April 10, 2017
In an historic move, Democrats filibustered, or blocked, the appointment of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. This move is significant because neither party has ever tried to block a vote on a Supreme Court nominee in this way. A few days after this story aired, Senate Republicans, the majority party, voted to change the rules of the Senate to block future filibusters on Supreme Court candidates by lowering the number of votes needed to approve a nominee. Listen to learn more about how this could affect the future of the Senate.
Note: On 4/6/17, the Senate successfully voted to change Senate rules to allow the confirmation of Gorsuch and all other Supreme Court nominees by a majority vote. On 4/7/17 the Senate voted to confirm Gorsuch with 54 votes, the lowest in history.
Current Event April 3, 2017
Thousands of Russians took to the streets this week in Moscow and other cities to demand the resignation of Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev. Ten thousand people showed up to protest in St. Petersburg and about 20,000 people joined protests in Moscow, making this the largest anti-government protest the country has seen in years. Anti-corruption activist and government opposition leader Alexei Navalny organized the nationwide protests after publishing an investigation that alleged serious corruption charges against the prime minister. Listen to learn more about the mass protests and the motivations behind them.
Current Event March 31, 2017
Howard Zinn is best known for his book, “The People’s History of the United States” in which he reveals the United States’ long history of war, invasion, and human rights violations. A lawmaker in Arkansas has introduced a bill to ban the writings of historian Howard Zinn from schools in the state. Some people view Zinn’s work as an important insight into the negative aspects of U.S. history, while critics say that it is anti-American. Listen to hear more about Zinn’s perspective on United States history and an Arkansas educator’s views on the proposal to ban Zinn’s books from schools. Listen and then debate with your students: Should some books be banned?
Current Event March 29, 2017
During Women’s History Month, we celebrate the accomplishments of women who have made change in the world. Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese politician, diplomat and author who shaped the opposition of Myanmar, also known as Burma, is one such leader. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 because of her opposition to the military dictatorship. But she was unable to leave Burma to accept the prize because she was under house arrest. In 2012 she was freed from house arrest and gave her Nobel prize acceptance speech. Listen to this story about her speech accepting the Nobel Prize and learn more about Suu Kyi’s legacy that led to her to win the award.