Current Event February 7, 2017
President Donald Trump has selected Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch is a respect and deeply conservative justice. It’s expected many Democrats will oppose his nomination, in part because former President Obama had selected another justice to replace Scalia and the Republican majority Congress refused to meet with him for political reasons. Listen to hear about the political battle that is expected over the Supreme Court nominee.
Current Event February 6, 2017
Last week President Trump issued an executive order banning refugees for from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for a 90 day period. The order also prevents all refugees from entering the country for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely. Some experts fear this policy will have a strongly negative impact on foreign affairs, sending the message that the United States is at war with Islam and willing to restrict immigration based on religious beliefs. Listen to learn more about Trump’s refugee ban and its potential foreign policy consequences.
Current Event February 3, 2017
President Trump has assembled the richest administration in history. With the nomination of Vincent J. Viola as secretary of the Army, Trump’s cabinet now has a combined net worth of about $13 billion and includes four billionaires. Federal ethics regulations require many of these cabinet appointees to sell off some of their investments to avoid conflicts of interest. However, cabinet members who do sell investments are allowed to keep all of the profits without paying a capital gains tax. Listen to learn more about Trump’s cabinet and then debate the benefits and drawbacks of having a very wealthy people in key government positions.
Current Event January 31, 2017
Three countries are watching the policies of President Trump closely, since their relationship to the United States will likely change under this administration: China, Russia and Mexico. In China, they are watching what Trump has said about the One China policy, along with possible trade wars. In Mexico they are worried about the U.S. building a longer border wall and the President’s threat to impose a 20% tax on imported goods. In Russia, they are hoping sanctions will be lifted. Listen to hear three NPR reporters in China, Russia and Mexico talk about perceptions of the new President in each country.
Current Event January 30, 2017
As a part of his campaign promise to re-evaluate America’s free trade commitments, President Trump is pulling the United States out of a negotiated but not ratified agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. Trump promised on the campaign trail to withdraw from the TPP. He is also expected to renegotiate NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. Listen to one of Trump’s former economic advisors explain the new administration’s views on trade.
Current Event January 26, 2017
Millions of people across the country and around the world marched the day after President Donald Trump took the oath of office. Women, men and children marched in hundreds of cities including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Austin, New York, Chicago, Paris, Delhi and Bangkok. The purpose, marchers say, is to take a stand for women's rights and against Donald Trump's agenda. Climate, science, women's rights, human rights, LGBT rights and minority rights are just a few of the issues that were highlighted by those who attended the women's marches. Listen to hear more about these demonstrations across the country.
Current Event January 25, 2017
Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. In his inaugural address, he laid out his vision for the country. He repeated themes from his campaign saying “Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves.” He called these “just and reasonable demands.” And he vowed to always put “America first.” Listen to hear parts of Trump’s inauguration speech.
Current Event January 23, 2017
The Senate is holding confirmation hearings for President-elect Trump's Cabinet choices. Democrats say majority Republicans are rushing the nominees through the process and that several of them haven't yet completed or submitted all of the financial disclosure and ethics paperwork required. Each committee holding a hearing has its own set of rules about the information it requires. Listen to hear about this push to confirm Cabinet nominees quickly.
Current Event January 19, 2017
Donald J. Trump will be sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States. Inauguration day always occurs on January 20th following the presidential election. In recent history, at the start of every American presidency, the new president gives an inaugural address after being sworn into office. These speeches have sometimes become memorable tag lines for the president's priorities. This story is an historical reflection on several past inaugural addresses.
Current Event January 9, 2017
This week, the Obama administration announced sanctions against Russia after saying it was confident the Russian government interfered in last year's presidential election. The purpose is to deter Russia from cyberspace hacking in the future. The United States also expelled 35 undercover intelligence agents to deter Russia from harassing U.S. diplomats in Russia. Listen to hear more about possible retaliation and what actions are legal when the U.S. is not at war.
Current Event January 5, 2017
Fake news stories with clickable headlines that millions of people read and share have become a focus during the U.S. Presidential Election. People who run fake news sites make a lot of money from advertising. The identities of these fake news creators can be hard to track. In this story a reporter pursued one story to its creator to learn about why he started writing fake news. Listen to hear more about how untrue news goes viral, and who creates these stories.
Current Event January 3, 2017
The U.S. Capitol is a very dog-friendly workplace and lawmakers have been bringing their dogs to the Capitol since the 1800s. They used to sit at Congressmen’s feet in the Senate Chamber and roam the hallways with their owners. There are occasions when the dogs fight with each other, but mostly they are a friendly face in the lawmakers’ workplace. Listen to hear more about these dogs and their long history in the Capitol.
Current Event December 23, 2016
The Department of Labor has guidelines for companies that want to use unpaid interns. Essentially, unpaid interns have to be treated like students and shouldn't do the work of paid employees. But those rules don’t apply to government internships. There are hundreds of interns that work for free in government agencies, and one former intern is trying to change that because he says it favors students who come from wealthy families who can afford to support the students during the internship. Listen to this story and debate whether government interns should be paid.
Current Event December 22, 2016
Lawmakers in South Korean voted 234-56 recently to impeach President Park Geun-hye. A constitutional court will now decide whether to remove her from office because of her involvement in a corruption scandal. In South Korea there have been protests of Park’s leadership, with over 2 million people calling for her impeachment. President Park’s power as president is temporarily removed as the court makes its decision. Listen to hear more about the ongoing political events in South Korea.
Current Event December 19, 2016
There is evidence that a CIA assessment found that Russia intervened in the U.S. presidential election to try to help Donald Trump win. In this story, a reporter from the Washington Post discusses what they found out about how the Russians intended to help Trump in the election. It’s known that Russians hacked into both Democratic and Republican emails, and released emails to Wikileaks that were damaging to the Democratic campaign. President-elect Trump has stated that he does not trust the CIA’s assessment. Listen to hear more about what is known about the CIA report.
Current Event December 13, 2016
Recently, Austria held a runoff election for president and Italy voted on changes to its constitution. The countries voted on different things, but the underlying issue was the future of Europe. After the Brexit vote, where Britain voted to leave the European Union, Austria predicted a victory for a far-right, anti-immigration candidate. In their election upset, the leftist leader won the vote. In Italy, the country’s position in the European Union was challenged and a growing anti-establishment mood won the election, rejecting the changes to its constitution. As a result, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned, and asked the government to carry out its mission faithfully. Listen to hear more about these important elections.
Current Event December 5, 2016
Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has died at age 90. Castro took power in the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and was in power for nearly 50 years leading the only communist state in the Western Hemisphere. He led a movement to overthrow Fulgencio Batista, Cuba's military dictator, and had wide support from Cubans. But there were flaws in his socialist system, and the economy, education, and health care systems fell into disrepair. Castro outlasted many U.S. presidents and their attempts to overthrow him. He was a skilled politician with a complex legacy, and a man determined to continue holding power whatever the costs. Listen to hear more about the leadership and life of Fidel Castro.
Current Event November 29, 2016
The Philippines’ former dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, died in exile in Hawaii more than two decades ago. Where to bury the dictator has been tied up in a court battle, but the justices of the highest court recently ruled he should be laid to rest in Manila's Heroes Cemetery. Opponents argue that he was no hero and doesn’t deserve to be buried there, but others think this will be an important step to heal the nation from his divisive rule. Listen to this story and hear about the reaction of people from the Philippines.
Current Event November 28, 2016
The U.S. federal anti-nepotism law prevents a public official from appointing a relative to a position in their agency. It was made a law in 1967 after President John F. Kennedy nominated his brother as Attorney General. It is also used to prevent congressmen from hiring their wives to work in their offices. President-elect Donald Trump has relied on his son-in-law as a key adviser during his campaign. If his son-in-law were given a job in the White House, it would raise legal questions around nepotism. Listen to learn more about nepotism laws in the U.S.
Current Event November 22, 2016
Hundreds of thousands of South Koreans from across the country gathered in central Seoul recently, in an organized and peaceful protest against the president, Park Geun-hye. They are demanding she resign because she has been charged with abuse of power and fraud. The South Korean president shared classified information with a friend and was advised by her on a range of state affairs. President Park says she understands the seriousness of this situation, but shows no sign she will resign. Listen to hear more about the government crisis in South Korea.