Current Event November 9, 2017
There is evidence that Russian campaigns on social media sent out fake news stories and false conspiracies to create divisions among Americans during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter are being asked about this interference in the first public congressional hearings on Russian propaganda. Listen to hear more about how Russian propaganda affects people’s beliefs and behavior, and how quickly false stories spread.
Current Event November 1, 2017
There is widespread support for infrastructure spending from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Funding roads and bridges is good for the economy. It creates jobs, fuels growth, and helps Americans travel more quickly and safely. President Donald Trump promised a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan as a part of his campaign as well as his presidency. Trump’s new budget has allocated $200 billion in federal money for infrastructure over 10 years, but also cuts programs he calls wasteful, including water facilities and airports. Listen to hear questions and concerns about where the money is going to come from.
Current Event October 30, 2017
Raqqa is a city in northeastern Syria. ISIS leaders made Raqqa its operations hub and training ground more than three years ago, claiming it as an Islamic caliphate. Recently, after four months of airstrikes, ISIS no longer controls Raqqa. Syrian Democratic Forces, the American-backed militia group made up of Syrian Kurds and Arabs, took control of the city. Many of the people who joined ISIS were attracted by the idea of a physical Islamic state, and without this territory, ISIS may go back to being an underground terrorist organization. Listen to hear more about what might be next for the Islamic State.
Current Event October 27, 2017
Neighborhoods are often chosen by real estate prices and schools, and now they might be chosen by politics. Some people can feel like outsiders if they are living among others who don’t value or believe what they do. One idea is to create conservative Republican enclaves, where everyone shares the same values and feels connected to each other. Others think we should figure out how to exist together with different types of people. Listen to this story and then debate: Should we surround ourselves with people who have the same values and beliefs?
Current Event October 24, 2017
For the first time in 38 years, Angola has a new president. José Eduardo dos Santos had ruled Angola since 1979, soon after its independence from Portugal in 1975. He handpicked his successor, João Lourenço, who was the former Defence Minister. Lourenço won the presidential election and faces the challenge of bringing change to the country. Half of Angola’s citizens live in poverty and the hope is that Lourenço will fight corruption in the country. Listen to hear more about this peaceful transition of power.
Current Event October 13, 2017
The football field has become a field for demonstrations. American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest against racial injustice consisted of kneeling during the national anthem at the start of NFL games. After President Donald Trump attacked NFL players who have knelt during the anthem, other athletes were inspired to kneel as well, while others locked arms and stood during the anthem. One point of view is that those who kneel are disrespecting the flag, veterans, and America and another is that politics should be removed from football games, and another is that Kaepernick is not showing disrespect and he has the right to protest injustice. Listen to this story and then debate: What do the national anthem protests mean?
Current Event September 19, 2017
A message in a bottle washed up on a beach this week in Gaza, a small Palestinian territory. It traveled nearly 500 miles across the Mediterranean Sea, from the Greek island of Rhodes. It floated past Turkey and Cyprus and was found by a 54-year-old Palestinian fisherman. For a decade, the militant group Hamas has controlled the area of Gaza and mail sent there must first pass through Israeli security. The message in the bottle included an email address which provided a connection between the British couple who sent the message and the Palestinian fisherman. Listen to hear more about the extraordinary journey of this message.
Current Event September 11, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months. This program was established by executive action during the Obama administration to grant people under 16 who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents a temporary reprieve from deportation. Immigration officials will stop taking new applications and will decide on renewals on a case by case basis. Listen to hear more about the ending of the DACA program.
Current Event August 25, 2017
Illegal immigration has been a topic of political debate in America for generations. Trump’s administration has brought a harsher tone to cracking down on illegal immigrants in the United States, not only at the border, but also arresting non-criminal immigrants. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, arrests of non-criminals have increased sharply across the country. Immigrant advocates claim this is worsening community relations. ICE agents say they are “misunderstood and that they simply want to enforce the law”. Listen to this story to hear from both sides of the issue and then debate: Are ICE agents just doing their jobs or going too far?
Current Event August 24, 2017
Recently violence broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia after a rally held by white nationalists became violent when they clashed with counter demonstrators. One woman was killed. The white nationalists were in Charlottesville to protest the city’s plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee. The clash has raised tensions around the country about what to do with monuments honoring Confederate figures. One city, Richmond, Virginia has a rich history when it comes to the early development the United States. It had a massive slave marketplace and a strong Confederate Army during the Civil War. Listen to hear a discussion of the history and fate of Confederate statues.
Current Event August 23, 2017
The Defense Intelligence Agency has concluded that North Korea has developed a miniaturized nuclear warhead. A warhead of that size can sit on a missile and create a serious threat to the United States. Upon hearing this news President Donald Trump has responded forcefully stating, “They [North Korea] will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Listen to learn about Korea’s nuclear warheads, and what is thought to be North Korea’s reasoning for revealing this new information.
Current Event August 22, 2017
Paul Kagame has been in power in Rwanda for nearly two decades. Kagame is a national hero, leading a rebel army that ousted the government and put an end to the Rwandan genocide in 1994. While Rwanda boasts a healthy democracy and strong support for Kagame, opposing candidates claim that Rwandans are simply scared of their government. Citing examples of rhetoric used against his political opponents, critics hope to bring light to his authoritarianism. Listen to this story to hear about Kagame’s rise to power, his rival candidates, and the future of Rwanda.
Note: Soon after this story originally aired, Kagame won the presidential election
Current Event July 26, 2017
The United States Intelligence Community has concluded that Russia interfered with the U.S. election. The Russian election scandal grows larger with the latest revelation that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign. The meeting had eight attendees and Trump Jr. was told he would be given damaging information on Hillary Clinton. The question now is whether or not his meeting broke the law. Listen to this story to hear a law professor’s opinion on the meeting with Russian government officials.
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.