Current Event January 5, 2018
In the fight against global poverty, there have been a lot of experiments. Organizations have tried to give seeds, job training, or education to help move people out of poverty. In a rural village in Western Zambia, a small but steady stream of cash was given to people who needed it. Giving the people money with no strings attached has resulted in incredible results. Listen to this story and debate: Can giving cash ease poverty?
Current Event November 27, 2017
China is currently the United States’ biggest source of imports and one of its top export markets. President Trump has promised to enforce U.S. trade laws and agreements and promote free and fair trade with China. President Trump recently met with China’s president, Xi Jinping, to discuss trade practices. But the trade relationship is still shaky. Another focus in the relationship with China is the rapid increase of Chinese investment in U.S. start up companies. Listen to learn about the realities of investments and trade between the U.S. and China.
“The Canterbury Tales” is a collection of stories written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the late 14-century, and is widely considered to be one of the influential works of early European literature. It is a “frame story” containing a collection of tales told by a fictional group of religious pilgrims on their way to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at the Canterbury Cathedral. Chaucer made specific use of real locations to root his stories in the world of his time. Listen to hear about how the Canterbury Road has influenced other famous writers, and about how the locations of Chaucer’s tales have changed over the centuries.
Current Event August 2, 2017
There is a global vanilla crisis. Recently there’s been a global shortage of vanilla that’s affecting bakeries and ice cream shops across the country. The spice is primarily grown in Madagascar, an island off the southeast coast of Africa. Listen to this story to hear what caused this shortage and the dangers and problems faced by vanilla growers.
Current Event July 10, 2017
Making ends meet is something that many families in the United States struggle with. As the cost of living, day care, food and other essentials become more expensive, it is much harder for parents to provide for their kids. MIT has created a calculator to determine the living wages for people and families in each state. Working at a job that pays minimum wage often results in pay that is far below what is needed. Listen to the story of how a mother from Dallas pays the family bills, and some of the issues around a living wage.
Current Event May 19, 2017
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus have announced they will close after 146 years in the circus business because of high operating costs and low ticket sales. However, at the New England Center for Circus Arts, performers are still training to become performers. With the most well-known institution of the American circus industry shutting down, it is up to the new generation of performers to redefine the circus’ place in American culture. Listen to learn more about how young performers thinking about the future of the circus, and then debate whether the circus will survive.
Current Event May 10, 2017
It has been 25 years since riots in Los Angeles left more than 50 people dead and lead to around 6,000 arrests and roughly $1 billion in property damage. Despite a massive campaign to invest in rebuilding the city, L.A. has still not been completely repaired to where it was before the riots. In the aftermath of the destruction, many hoped that the “Rebuild L.A.” campaign would lead to stronger communities with more black-owned businesses. However, Rebuild L.A. is seen by many as a failure. Listen to learn more about the legacy of the L.A. riots and how these communities are still dealing with the aftermath.
Current Event May 9, 2017
The number of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is growing in the United States. Unfortunately, many individuals with autism struggle to find work. In fact, 40% of people with autism are unemployed. As people with autism enter adulthood, they lose a lot of their services and many struggle through socially challenging one-on-one interviews. However, some corporations are creating recruiting and training programs in an effort to employ people with autism. Listen to learn more about the challenges faced by people with autism as well as the unique strengths that they bring to the workplace.
Current Event 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.
Current Event 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.
Current Event July 11, 2016
For years, socialist president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez, led the country as a dramatic presence. Three years after his death, Venezuela is spiraling downward. It’s economy depended mostly on oil, and with the crash in oil prices there are rolling power blackouts and food shortages. The government can’t pay to import goods, so many grocery shelves are empty, leaving hungry citizens to resort to looting. Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, has refused to allow a recall referendum against him and the country is becoming politically unstable. Listen to hear more about the crisis in Venezuela.
Current Event May 27, 2016
Poverty is an ongoing problem that is difficult to solve. One charity is addressing global poverty in a new, unique way. It is planning to provide people living in poverty with guaranteed annual salaries for about a decade. The charity’s co-founder says that people living in poverty are capable of making smart decisions about how to spend their money. These salaries will enable the poor to take steps to improve their own lives. Listen to learn more about how “universal basic income” may change people’s lives for the better.
Current Event May 13, 2016
Uber is a ride-sharing company that allows users to request rides, and allows drivers to use their own cars to provide rides. When demand for Uber rides is greater than the supply, Uber uses “surge” pricing. During surge pricing, the rides cost 2, 3, or 4 times more than they do normally. The drivers like surge pricing since it accounts for a large part of their income. But the riders don’t like surge pricing because they pay more for the same ride. Uber is planning to end surge pricing. Listen to this story and debate the rights of both the workers and the consumers. Have students think about whether consumer rights are more important than worker’s rights.