Current Event May 14, 2019
A recent military coup d’etat in the African nation of Sudan removed Omar al-Bashir from the presidency following months of anti-government protests. Al-Bashir claimed power in 1989 through another military coup, and his totalitarian regime carried out decades of violence. While protestors celebrated the removal of al-Bashir, they continue to actively demand a transition from military to civilian leadership. Listen to this story to learn more about the history of conflict in Sudan, the military takeover, and the people’s vision for the future.
Current Event May 13, 2019
At 85, after reigning for three decades, Emperor Akihito of Japan is the first to step down from the throne in over two hundred years. In 1989, he was the first emperor to rise to the throne as a symbolic leader without political power under a U.S.-drafted constitution. Listen to hear how his departure has prompted reflection on his reign, what made it uniquely modern, and how it upheld some traditions and broke others.
Current Event April 29, 2019
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London after officials in the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he had been living since 2012, said they would no longer provide protection for him as a political refugee. In 2010, WikiLeaks hacked into U.S. government computers and published classified information, posing a national security threat, according to many officials. Assange argued that he was operating as a journalist, exposing U.S. government actions that should not be kept secret from the public. Listen to this story to hear about the impact on national security and diplomacy of the unauthorized release of classified documents by WikiLeaks.
Current Event April 25, 2019
U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith has a new podcast called “The Slowdown,” in which she reads and reflects on a poem by a different poet each weekday. In the podcast, she shares personal thoughts and experiences related to themes that the poems address. Listen to this interview with Smith to learn how she thinks poetry can help people listen to and connect with each other, even across cultural and political divides.
Current Event April 24, 2019
If Uber and other transportation technology companies have their way, people who use ride-hailing apps will soon be able to order flying taxis. These futuristic vehicles would quickly transport passengers from location to location, traveling high above traffic on the ground. Listen to find out how and when the dream of flying cars may become a reality, and what issues need to be considered before then.
Current Event April 22, 2019
In a very close race, Benjamin Netanyahu was elected to his fourth consecutive term (and fifth overall) as prime minister of Israel. Since he was first elected in 1996, Netanyahu has taken different positions on the issue of trying to establish a separate Palestinian state, known as a “two-state solution.” Listen to this interview with a former U.S. ambassador to Israel to learn more about the history of this proposal for resolving the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Current Event April 1, 2019
Special counsel Robert Mueller led a two-year investigation into Russain interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. The inquiry has ended, and the team’s report has been submitted to the federal Justice Department. Although the full report has not been released to the public yet, a summary of its conclusions has been shared. Listen to this story to learn about the questions that framed the investigation and what the Mueller team found.
Current Event March 29, 2019
The U.S. military is an all-volunteer force. However, when American men turn 18, they are required to register with the Selective Service, which means they are eligible to be drafted to serve in the military if the U.S. goes to war and needs more soldiers than the all-volunteer military force can provide. Recently, a federal judge ruled that requirement should not be limited to men in response to a lawsuit arguing that restriction was unconstitutional. Listen to hear different views about whether the U.S. should require both men and women to register with Selective Service and debate: Should women be drafted?
Current Event March 27, 2019
Governor Gavin Newsom of California has issued a suspension of capital punishment in his state. While it has been years since a death row inmate was executed in California, voters have rejected proposoals to abolish the death penalty on recent ballot measures. Critics of the governor say that his action betrays the will of California residents. Newsom says that this decision to end the death penalty is the right one. Listen to hear the governor’s rationale and why this decision has many people talking.
Current Event March 25, 2019
The recent massacre of worshippers at two mosques in New Zealand was perpetrated by a white nationalist extremist. A counterterrorism expert draws parallels between these right wing extremists and Islamic extremists, explaining how the growing international network of right wing extremists has been engaging in practices that mirror those of al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other Islamic extremist groups. Listen to hear about why this former FBI agent believes that more attention must be paid to white nationalist terrorism and the threat it poses worldwide.
Current Event March 18, 2019
The recently proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexican border would not be the first of its kind. In 2006, Democrats and Republicans passed a bill to construct a secure fence across part of the border. To build the fence, the government took land from private property owners, which is allowed through a power known as eminent domain. In such cases, the government is not required to ask owners for permission to claim their land. Listen to hear about the laws that allow this kind of land seizure, how they impact landowners, and how issues related to eminent domain might resurface with the current border wall proposal.
Current Event March 14, 2019
Michelle Obama, whose marriage to President Barack Obama brought her into the national spotlight, has written a memoir titled Becoming. In the book, she tells the story of her journey from childhood to the White House and beyond, sharing reflections on challenges she faced along the way and on how she has forged her identity over the course of her life. Listen to this story to hear some of Obama’s insights into her experience of becoming who she is today.
Current Event March 8, 2019
The motto of the United States of America, “E Pluribus Unum,” meaning “Out of Many, One,” represents an ideal as old as the nation. A recent study investigated how people currently feel about living in a pluralistic society, side-by-side with those who are different from them. The study found that large numbers of Americans reported having little contact with people of different religions, races, or political beliefs. Listen to a reporter involved in the study discuss the poll results and then debate: Is pluralism still an American ideal?
Current Event March 5, 2019
A journalist in the Philippines who has been critical of the government was recently arrested for the sixth time, raising concerns among champions of press freedom around the world. The arrest was based on false charges, and the journalist may be in danger in a country where the press has been regularly targeted by an authoritarian government. Listen to this interview with a representative of Reporters without Borders, an organization that reports on press freedom, about the risks facing journalists worldwide.
Current Event March 4, 2019
Teachers across the country have been striking this year, asking for support in the form of smaller class sizes, more school nurses and counselors, and pay raises. While their specific demands differ somewhat across school districts, there are common themes. In addition to asking for higher pay for the work that they do, teachers are asking for improvements that would better meet the needs of students. In some cases, they are protesting policies that they believe are not helping students. Listen to this story to learn more about the recent national trend of organized teacher protests.
Current Event February 28, 2019
It has been one year since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. That shooting sparked a national movement led by survivors aimed at decreasing gun violence. The student activists who organized the March for Our Lives protests engaged people around the world in speaking out against gun violence and speaking up for policies to prevent it. Listen to this interview with a journalist who has written a book about the events and reflects on what the students have accomplished in the year since the shooting.
Current Event February 25, 2019
President Trump declared a national emergency so he could reallocate funds to pay for a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, which Congress did not agree to fund. In response, there are many lawsuits being filed, arguing that the president is exercising his executive power in a way that is unconstitutional in order to bypass the budgetary authority of Congress. The emergency declaration follows a long government shutdown, which occurred because Congress would not agree to fund the border wall that the president wanted. Listen to hear more about what might unfold as a result of this emergency declaration.
Current Event February 15, 2019
A recent viral video of an encounter at the Lincoln Memorial featured students wearing hats bearing the political slogan “Make America Great Again” (often abbreviated MAGA), prompting a lot of discussion about what the hats signified about those wearing them. Views differ about what the MAGA hat represents and whether it has become a racist symbol. Listen to this interview with a fashion and culture critic who recently wrote about what she thinks the MAGA hat symbolizes and then debate: Can a hat be more than a fashion statement?