Topic: Politics

Current Event March 18, 2019

Seizing Land for Government Use

Politics Civics/Government Immigration Law

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.

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Current Event March 14, 2019

Michelle Obama on Becoming

Politics Memoir Autobiography

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.

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Current Event March 8, 2019

Debate: Is Pluralism Still an American Ideal?

Politics Race Culture Religion

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?

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Current Event March 5, 2019

Press Freedom Around the World

Politics Law Journalism Censorship Media

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.

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Current Event March 4, 2019

Teacher Strikes Share Common Cause

Politics Education Protest Reform

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.

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Current Event February 28, 2019

Parkland Students: A Year in Activism

Politics Protest Reform

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.

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Current Event February 25, 2019

Legality of Emergency Declaration

Politics Civics/Government

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.

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Current Event February 15, 2019

Debate: Can a hat be more than a fashion statement?

Politics Race Culture

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?

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Current Event February 11, 2019

U.S. and Russia Leave Nuclear Arms Agreement

Politics War

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed an important treaty agreeing to a nuclear weapons ban that represented a major milestone in ending the Cold War between the two superpowers. More than thirty years later, that treaty may be falling apart. The U.S. government says that Russia is not in compliance with the treaty and is threatening to withdraw if that does not change. Listen to this interview with a national security expert who explains what this means for national security and the potential threat of a renewed nuclear arms race.

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Current Event February 8, 2019

Debate: Does Media Coverage Sway our Views?

Politics Culture Protest

A video of a recent incident in Washington, DC went viral, causing a flurry of reactions that played out in the media. The brief video showed an encounter between a Native American elder, who was part of an “Indigenous People’s March” on the mall, and a group of students from a Catholic high school who were in town for a “March for Life.” Media coverage initially generated strong reactions. When additional longer videos surfaced, the media’s response changed, and lots of public dialogue about the incident ensued via social media. Listen to this story about what happened and then debate: Does media coverage sway our views?

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Current Event February 4, 2019

What's Next After Government Reopens?

Politics Civics/Government

The longest government shutdown in U.S. history has ended, but the resolution is only temporary. The government has reopened, furloughed workers have gone back to work, and Congress has promised to pay government workers their lost wages, while contractors may never recover their lost pay. The future is still uncertain, however, as Congress and the president are still negotiating over the budgetary issues that initially led to the shutdown – namely funding for a wall on the U.S. Mexico border. Listen to this story to hear about what might happen next as negotiations over border security in the budget continue.

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Current Event January 30, 2019

Civil Rights Photographer Worked for FBI

Politics Race US History I Civil RIghts Reform

A Memphis photographer famous for capturing iconic moments of the civil rights movement was recently revealed to be an FBI informant who secretly reported information about Martin Luther King, Jr. and other activists to the government. As a recent book recounts, Ernest Withers, whose photography earned him an international reputation, was involved in civil rights activities in ways that even his family was not aware. Listen to this interview with the author of the book about Withers to learn more about his complicated story.

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ELA

Kurt Vonnegut

Politics Classics Science Fiction Philosophy Vietnam War Satire Human Connection Dystopian Worlds

Acclaimed American author Kurt Vonnegut is known for his legacy of satirical literature, including his best-selling novel Slaughterhouse Five and his short-story collection Welcome to the Monkey House. His writing often mixed dark humor with speculative fiction, calling attention to important issues in American society, politics, and life. Listen to learn more about Vonnegut’s influential work from interviews with the author himself.

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Current Event January 28, 2019

Third Annual Women's March

Politics Race Gender Protest Civics Reform

For the third year in a row, a Women’s March was recently held on the mall in Washington, DC and in other cities around the world. The first Women’s March was organized in response to the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. This year, there was discord preceding the event, with some of the march’s leaders being accused of anti-Semitism. Many people, however, joined the marches in solidarity again, focusing on issues of equity and justice affecting women. Listen to this story to learn more about the event and the issues surrounding it.

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Current Event January 24, 2019

Human Impact of Government Shutdown

Politics Civics/Government

The longest government shutdown in U.S. history has been going on for several weeks. While the president and Congress argue about funding for a wall on the southern border, 25% of the government has been closed. Hundreds of thousands of government workers are not getting paid, though many of them are still required to work. As a result, many working families are struggling to pay their bills and making difficult sacrifices during the shutdown. Listen to this interview with one federal worker and mother whose family has been feeling the impact of the shutdown and hear about what the experience has been like for her.

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Current Event January 18, 2019

Debate: Should houses of worship decide who may enter?

Politics Gender Religion Protest Reform Ethnic and Religious Conflict

Three women in their 40s recently entered a famous Hindu temple in India that for centuries has not allowed females between 10 and 50 years old because they are of childbearing age. The temple was targeted by Indian feminists, who have been protesting gender discrimination, and there has been a political backlash among Hindu nationalists. Listen to learn more about how this incident raises issues of both gender equity and religious freedom, and then debate: Should houses of worship decide who may enter?

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Current Event January 17, 2019

19-Year-Old Representative Takes Office

Politics Protest Reform

A newly elected New Hampshire state legislator is only 19 years old. Cassandra Levesque entered politics at age 15 through her efforts to change child marriage laws in her state, which allowed 13-year-olds to marry. Working closely on the issue with a state representative led to deciding to run for office herself. Listen to this interview with Levesque to hear about her path to elected office and what she hopes to do now that she has become a state lawmaker.

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Current Event January 14, 2019

Government Shutdown Could Impact Safety

Politics Civics/Government Transportation

The current partial government shutdown is affecting many employees and contractors who are not being paid while the president and Congress are arguing about whether the federal budget should include funds for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. One important area where the shutdown may pose a safety risk is air traffic control. Uncertainty about the future is influencing the day-to-day work of these federal employees as well as the experiences of the flying public. Listen to this story to hear about the various ways that the shutdown is impacting airport travel.

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