Current Event August 31, 2018
A group of students recently sued the state of Michigan for failing to teach them to read in their public schools. The students argue that literacy is a constitutional right. A federal judge dismissed their case because literacy is not explicitly mentioned in the United States Constitution. However, the case is being appealed, making the argument that students should have equal opportunities to learn, no matter which school they attend. Listen to an interview with one of the lawyers working on this case, and then debate whether students have a legal right to learn how to read.
Current Event August 27, 2018
The Trump administration recently established a policy of separating immigrant families at the U.S. border, detaining parents and children in different places, even if they are legally seeking asylum. Although this rule has been reversed, some Americans want to help reunite the families that were separated while the policy was in effect. People who are passionate about this issue have raised more money than anticipated to help these families. Listen to find out how a simple act can snowball into a larger effort.
Current Event August 17, 2018
The State of Nevada recently had to postpone a scheduled execution of a convicted criminal because it could no longer use one of the drugs it had planned to put in the lethal injection. This case highlights a variety of issues surrounding the substances used in lethal cocktails, including their legality, proper protocol, and potential alternatives. It also raises important questions about the death penalty in general. Listen to learn more about this case and then debate: Does the method of execution in the death penalty matter?
Current Event August 15, 2018
A black state representative from Oregon was going door-to-door to speak with the voters she represents in her district when one of the neighborhood residents called the police. The resident thought the state representative was suspicious for knocking on doors, likely because of her race. Listen to find out how the state representative responded to the police and hear what she thinks can be done to make situations like these better in the future.
Current Event August 14, 2018
Israel recently passed a law that defines the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Israeli religious minorities, such as Muslims and Christians, feel that this law discriminates against them and fails to recognize their contributions. Some have even begun to protest it, gaining support from important and surprising allies. Listen to find out more about the controversy surrounding the Nation State law.
Current Event August 13, 2018
Facebook recently deleted pages and accounts it believed were run by Russians attempting to influence the upcoming midterm elections. Unfortunately, this also affected a valuable page American protesters were using to gain grassroots support. This issue raises important, unresolved questions about the relationship between Facebook, free speech, and propaganda. Listen to learn what an expert on civil liberties thinks about censorship on social media.
Current Event July 9, 2018
Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he is retiring from the United States Supreme Court after 30 years. Kennedy was often the swing vote in many of the most important cases that the court has faced in the last three decades.. Known for his far-reaching opinions, Kennedy has always been a very confident and active justice. Kennedy’s opinions on major social issues such as gay marriage or abortion rights made some conservatives upset and his retirement has some liberals worried about the future of those decisions. Listen to this story to hear about Justice Kennedy’s retirement and what effect it might have on the court.
Current Event June 15, 2018
A new Sacramento law makes what the city calls “aggressive panhandling” illegal. It forbids people from begging for food or money within 30 feet of a bank or ATM or outside of restaurants. Those caught breaking this law more than three times face fines and jail time. One homeless man is suing the city because he believes this rule violates his right to free speech. The city argues that it is only trying to prevent the most forceful panhandling and plans to defend the rule. Listen to this story about Sacramento’s new law and then debate: Should panhandling be illegal?
Current Event June 11, 2018
A new data protection law in the European Union is designed to preserve citizens’ privacy by fining those who use others’ personal data without their permission. This rule could cause problems for many who take photos in public places and post them online. According to this law, anyone who appears in a photo, even if it’s in the background of a selfie, must agree that the photo can be uploaded to the Internet. This law will likely force photographers to consider their subjects’ consent more carefully. Listen to learn more about this new rule.
Current Event June 1, 2018
Many police departments already use basic facial recognition software, but more advanced technology in this area is raising new questions about what information law enforcement should or should not be able to instantly access. The latest software can rapidly identify people in all sorts of poses and situations, making it appealing for both businesses and law enforcement. If implemented, experts worry that it could make remaining anonymous in day-to-day life virtually impossible. Listen to this story about real-time facial recognition software and debate: Should police use facial recognition?
Current Event April 11, 2018
In Sacramento, California, a new program was started to help refugees and immigrants understand their legal rights. The “Understanding Your RIghts” program was sparked by an increase in refugee groups moving into the area, and a need to educate these newly arrived people of their rights. Listen to hear more about this new program that will help people understand the laws in the United States.
Current Event January 16, 2018
Being homeless means continually wondering what you will eat and where you will sleep at night. In some cases this means homeless people break laws by sleeping in public spaces because there isn’t room at a shelter. In Texas, community courts have been established to help homeless people manage tickets they have gotten for breaking the law. In exchange for waiving the tickets for public sleeping, they take part in community service. Listen to learn what local people are trying to do to help rather than hurt those living on the street.
Current Event January 9, 2018
Wet wipes began as baby products, but now people use them for many things including makeup removal and applying insect repellent. As more people find uses for disposable wet wipes, more of them end up in the toilet. However, even if the company says they are flushable, they aren't always. Wet wipes are causing blockages in sewer systems around the country. Companies that label their wipes as flushable are suing states that have created standards for flushability. Listen to learn where your wet wipes go and how wastewater plants are using a form of forensics to uncover which companies are clogging up the pipes.
Current Event December 7, 2017
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to remove laws that protect net neutrality. Net neutrality is the result of laws that have been in effect for 2 years that prohibit Internet service providers from speeding up or slowing down any websites you use. Without net neutrality, Internet service providers could go from being neutral gateways to gatekeepers. There are differences in opinion about whether this will be helpful for consumers or the economy. Listen to hear from the former FCC chairman about his thoughts on an open Internet.
Current Event November 17, 2017
Like the United States, Germany is grappling with fake news and hate speech and what to do about it. Offenses are banned under law, but on the Internet what is fake and what is hate speech is not always clear. The German parliament recently passed a controversial law imposing big fines on social media companies that fail to remove illegal, racist or slanderous posts. German ministry officials are anticipating a large volume of complaints about censorship. Listen to this story about social media and offensive posts, and the debate: Should social media sites be fined for not removing fake news and hate speech?
Current Event November 15, 2017
Women will soon be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. For decades the monarchy in Saudi Arabia forbid women from driving and other activities. Now the young crown prince has relaxed many restrictions on women as part of larger reforms in efforts to modernize the Middle Eastern country. There have been protests of the driving ban, including in 1990 when forty women drove the streets of the capital and lost their jobs. Listen to this story to hear more about the changes coming to Saudi Arabia.
Current Event November 10, 2017
Opioid addiction is killing from 35,000 to 50,000 people every year. Ten states and a number of cities and counties are suing opioid makers accusing them of lying about the addictive nature of the powerful painkiller. Many of those lawsuits involve Mike Moore. When Mike Moore was Mississippi's attorney general, he spearheaded the 50-state lawsuit against tobacco companies and won the biggest civil settlement in U.S. history. Now, he's trying to do the same thing against opioid manufacturers and distributors. Listen to hear more about this deadly and complicated crisis, and then debate: Should the drug companies be sued for creating the opioid epidemic?
Current Event October 16, 2017
In Las Vegas, a man shot hundreds of rifle rounds into a crowd at a concert in the deadliest mass shooting in recent history. This has reopened the debate about gun control. Owning guns, hunting and recreational shooting are part of the culture in parts of Nevada. The state gun laws are less restrictive and difficult to enforce. Listen to this story about federal, state and local gun laws.