Topic: Civics/Government

Current Event July 1, 2015

Marriage: A Right for All

Civics/Government Constitution Civil RIghts

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court expanded the right to marry to same-sex couples in the United States. The Court ruled that gay marriage is a right protected by the 14th amendment and that all states must allow same-sex couples to wed. This 5-4 decision overrides state laws and state constitutional amendments that forbid same-sex marriage. Many groups are celebrating the decision saying that this is a civil rights case that will one day be celebrated like the landmark integration case, Brown vs. Board of Education. Others who oppose same-sex marriage vow to fight the decision saying the court doesn’t have the right to override public opinion and states’ rights to define marriage. Listen to learn more about this historic decision. You can see how this decision will impact different states with this NPR Map and read the decision for yourself.

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Current Event June 17, 2015

What Cheap Clothes Really Cost

Civics/Government Economics Religion

As people head out to buy summer clothes a new documentary called “The True Cost” asks people to stop and consider all it takes to create affordable clothing. Clothing is a rare product where the price of a dress or shirt has dropped, but the cost to create it hasn’t. The increased production of clothing and the decreased cost has negatively affected workers across the world. It’s also had an impact on the environment. Listen to learn more about the economics of T-shirts that cost $5.

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Current Event June 14, 2015

Corruption in Soccer

Civics/Government Ethics

Top officials at FIFA, the group that governs international soccer and the World Cup, have been accused of corruption. Investigators in the United States and Switzerland have uncovered bribes and wire transfers between World Cup host countries and FIFA officials. Sepp Blatter, who has served as FIFA’s president for 17 years has resigned in the face of this scandal. Listen to learn more about the scandal rocking the soccer world.

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Current Event June 9, 2015

China - U.S. Friend or Foe?

Civics/Government World History II Geography

Since the end of World War II, the United States has served as a dominant military and political power in Asia. The enormous economic growth of China has some former U.S. diplomats worried. When China’s economy shifted from pure government control to a more mixed model they widened their international impact and their scope of interest. Should we continue to see China as a solid ally in the region or as a powerful potential rival? Listen to hear why to former diplomats argue that China is a threat.

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Current Event June 7, 2015

Limiting Phone Surveillance

Civics/Government

The provision of the Patriot Act that allowed the government to conduct massive phone surveillance has expired. The National Security Agency can no longer conduct bulk surveillance. In its place, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, which allows for limited surveillance. Politicians in both the Democratic and Republican parties felt that this phone surveillance needed limits but there was a showdown over how far the changes should go. Listen to learn how this standoff came to an end and changed the way the government conducts surveillance.

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Current Event June 5, 2015

Does Raising the Minimum Wage Help or Hurt?

Civics/Government Economics Labor

The Los Angeles City Council has voted to increase the city’s minimum wage from the current $9.00 to $15.00 by 2020. The move has workers cheering and critics making predictions about how it will hurt local businesses. Listen to learn more about this increase and its potential impact.

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Current Event June 4, 2015

State versus Towns Over Fracking

Civics/Government Earth and Space Science Environment

The practice of fracking, extracting gas from deep inside the earth, has divided neighbors and split towns. And now it’s pitting cities and towns in Texas against the state of Texas. The Texas state legislature has passed a law that takes the power to regulate the gas industry away from the cities and towns directly impacted by fracking. As you'll hear in this public radio story, blocking these local efforts to control fracking has sparked a fierce debate.

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Current Event June 2, 2015

Oil Spill Puts Focus on Safety

Civics/Government Earth and Space Science Environment

On Tuesday, May 19, 2015, an oil pipe in Santa Barbara California burst, spilling more than 100,000 gallons of oil into a storm drain that emptied into the ocean. The oil has devastated the coastline. From plants and animals on shore to the bottom of the ocean, this spill is expected to have a lasting impact on this ecologically diverse coast. Listen to learn more about the spill, its environmental impact and the political response it has inspired.

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Current Event May 31, 2015

Bird Flu Sweeps Across the West

Civics/Government Life Science Health Agriculture

A new and deadly strain of avian influenza, or bird flu, has hit poultry farms in the Midwest. This outbreak is new and surprising because infectious disease experts don’t know how it is spreading. The old theory that the disease is spread between birds in close contact has not been consistent with this mutated strain of bird flu. Millions of chickens and turkeys have died so far, impacting both farmers and consumers. Listen to learn more about this disease and its transmission.

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Current Event May 27, 2015

Secret Cold War Pilot

Civics/Government World History II Engineering Cold War

During the Cold War the United States and the Soviet Union were in an espionage and arms race. From spying to building weapons and planes, the military and diplomatic corps were always working. Captain Roger Moseley was part of one of the most secret programs during the period, the development of the Stealth F-117 airplane. This airplane could avoid Soviet detection, allowing the planes to spy. Moseley wasn’t an obvious choice for such an important project, but an inflammatory speech made him attractive to the U.S. government spying program.

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Current Event May 24, 2015

Memorial Day Given Meaning

Civics/Government Civil War

Memorial Day is traditionally the weekend that heralds the start of summer barbeques, sandals and vacations. But the day has somber roots in the Civil War as Decoration Day, a day to remember Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. Today all soldiers who died in combat are remembered on Memorial Day, including one young soldier who was killed in Afghanistan in October 2010. Listen to learn more about the history of Memorial Day and how this loss changed the meaning of Memorial Day for one family.

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Current Event May 21, 2015

Phone Tapping Questioned

Civics/Government Politics Constitution Ethics

The provision of the U.S. Patriot Act that authorized the mass collection of phone records in the United States and abroad is set to expire at the end of this month. The National Security Agency has been collecting data from personal phone calls in an effort to prevent another terrorist attack. The U.S. House of Representatives has taken action and passed a bill that strictly narrows the scope of this surveillance. But some members of the U.S. Senate want to leave the Patriot Act as it and renew it. Listen to learn more about this debate and the impact it will have on how government surveillance is used to fight terrorism.

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Current Event May 20, 2015

Train Derailment Reveals Infrastructure Problems

Civics/Government Economics Transportation

Last Tuesday, May 12, 2015, an Amtrak train traveling from Washington, D.C. to New York City derailed when going around a sharp curve at over 100 miles an hour. At least eight people were killed and 200 injured. As the cleanup and investigation continues, people are looking for answers. Listen to this story about the history of Amtrak’s founding and funding and how this has shaped the troubled rail system’s infrastructure.

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Current Event May 19, 2015

Execution for Boston Marathon Bomber

Civics/Government Psychology Ethics

The sentencing phase of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has come to a dramatic conclusion. After just a day and a half of deliberation the jury voted to put Tsarnaev to death on 6 of the 17 eligible counts. An appeal is automatic but some families directly impacted still feel relieved by the sentence. Listen to learn more about the sentence and the response to it.

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Current Event May 17, 2015

Nail Salon Crack Down

Civics/Government Immigration Ethics Journalism

An investigation in New York City has found that hundreds of nail salons are ignoring workers’ rights. Middle and upper class customers have come to expect cheap manicures and until now, no one has questioned how the price can be so low. In a year long investigation for the New York Times journalist Sarah Maslin Nir found widespread wage theft and indentured servitude in an industry that puts its workers' health on the line. The two part series, “Unvarnished”, has prompted action from consumers and the state government. Listen to hear more from the reporter about her investigation and the reaction to the story.

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Current Event May 15, 2015

Schools Bring Back Native American Languages

Civics/Government US History I Ethics

The state of Montana is adopting a new approach to maintaining and reviving Native American languages in the state. The state’s new policy, to partially fund native language immersion in public schools, is very different from previous efforts to get rid of Native American language and culture through government boarding schools. Listen to learn more about the policies of the past and present, and why Native Americans in Montana feel strongly about passing their language on to the next generation.

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Current Event May 10, 2015

Gay Marriage Before the Supreme Court

Civics/Government Politics Ethics

On April 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments for and against the constitutionality of state-level bans on gay marriage. This hearing combined four different cases and tackled two big questions: whether state bans on gay marriage are legal, and whether it is legal for states to not recognize marriages from states where gay marriage is legal. The cases sparked a long and heated Supreme Court session. A decision is expected at the end of June. Listen to hear questions and arguments from the justices on this controversial issue.

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Current Event May 8, 2015

Is the American Dream Out of Reach?

Civics/Government Economics Race Poetry

How realistic is the “American Dream”? Is upward mobility a reality for everyone today? Are people still better off than their parents? These are the questions driving a study of economic mobility by economists at Harvard and UC Berkeley, as well as the radio reporter in this story. With a focus on Dayton, Ohio, its past and present, this story analyzes the modern factors that stunt economic mobility in West Dayton and other neighborhoods like it. It looks at whether the “American Dream” is truly attainable for everyone.

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Current Event May 6, 2015

The Last Americans Out of Saigon

Civics/Government US History II World History II

Forty years ago the Vietnam War came to an end. The Paris Peace Accords led to the withdrawal of American troops from South Vietnam, allowing the communist forces of the north, led by Prime Minister Ho Chi Minh, to retake South Vietnam and reunify the country. The final days of American occupation of South Vietnam was particularly tense in the South’s largest city, then known as Saigon. As troops left they also engaged in a huge evacuation effort, extracting American civilians and some South Vietnamese. Listen to learn more about these tense last days from Marines who were there.

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Current Event May 3, 2015

Nepal Earthquake Recovery is Slow

Civics/Government Earth and Space Science Geography

Nepal, the mountainous South Asian country nestled between China and India, is small but densely populated. On April 25th a large earthquake devastated the country. From the capital city of Kathmandu to the highest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest, every corner of the country has been affected. With the death toll rising above 6,000 the international community and aid groups have sprung into action, sending supplies and people to support recovery. Unfortunately, the limited infrastructure in this developing nation is making the relief effort difficult.

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