Current Event May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump has fired FBI director James Comey. The reason given by President Trump was that Comey “wasn’t doing a good job.” However, Comey was also in the middle of an investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. elections and possible collusion between Trump and Russia, which many believe to be the actual motivation for his firing. Listen to learn more about President Trump’s decision to fire Comey and the future of the investigation into Russian election meddling.
Current Event May 15, 2017
Centrist politician Emmanuel Macron has won the presidential election in France, defeating far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. He now faces the challenge of unifying his movement into a political party, winning seats in parliament, and running a deeply divided country despite his limited experience in government. Listen to learn more about Macron, the challenges he faces as president, and the political divisions in France.
ELA High School
Throughout his life in South Africa, playwright Athol Fugard witnessed firsthand the cruelty and injustice of apartheid. Not only did racism fracture the country he loved so dearly, but it also created profound strain in his relationship with his father, whom he calls “a huge bigot.” Many elements of that difficult and complex relationship resonate throughout Athol’s play “‘Master Harold‘. . . and the Boys,” which became a Broadway hit at the peak of the anti-apartheid movement. Lisa Fugard, Athol’s daughter, also grew up in South Africa but left the country to pursue an acting career and later became a writer. Listen to hear about how both father and daughter explored their personal and the political struggles brought about by apartheid.
Current Event May 3, 2017
President Donald Trump has reached 100 days in office, and he is beginning to feel the pressure to make good on his campaign promises. President Trump has promised to unveil a “phenomenal” tax reform, and as a result, investors are cautious as they wait to see if the tax reform is passed. Many are also curious about the federal budget and concerned about some of Trump’s plans, such as cutting federal aid. Listen to learn more about President Trump’s economic policies in his first 100 days.
Current Event May 1, 2017
British Prime Minister Theresa May has called for early national elections in the U.K. to take place in June. The move is an attempt on her part to beat her Labor Party opposition and secure political support for Brexit negotiations, which would withdraw the U.K. from the European Union. May hopes to gain a stronger majority in Parliament in order to advance Brexit as well as other domestic reforms. Listen to learn more about the British Prime Minister’s decision and its possible impact.
Current Event April 24, 2017
During his trip to South Korea, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea against testing the “strength of the Armed Forces of the United States”. The warning came a day after a failed ballistic missile test in North Korea. Pence also described the U.S. alliance with South Korea as “ironclad” and “immutable”. Listen to learn more about how the Trump administration is taking a more aggressive stance against North Korea.
Current Event April 18, 2017
Often, after a tragedy, rumors and false news stories about the event spread on the Internet. Many of these fake news stories promote the idea that the government is making up these events in order to advance its own secret goals. The motivation for spreading fake news ranges from real beliefs in conspiracy theories to drawing in more website traffic to undermining mainstream media for political gains. Listen to learn more about how fake news spreads and why.
Current Event April 17, 2017
On Thursday, April 6, President Donald Trump authorized airstrikes against Syrian military infrastructure targets in response to an apparent chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad. Now, Congressional leaders are asking Trump to outline his broader strategy for dealing with the Middle East conflict. Among their questions are how Trump plans to defeat the Islamic state, or ISIS, and how he will deal with Assad’s regime in Syria without creating a failed state. Listen to hear more about the challenges of creating a broader Syrian strategy.
Current Event April 13, 2017
Southwestern Pennsylvania is coal country, though most of the mining and steel jobs are long gone. A reporter talked with a father and daughter who have very different outlooks on life. The father is skeptical about climate change. His daughter is in college with plans to be an engineer and work on environmental issues. Their first conversation about climate change happened a year ago and was revisited recently. Listen to hear the common ground and differences in opinion between this father and daughter.
Current Event April 10, 2017
In an historic move, Democrats filibustered, or blocked, the appointment of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. This move is significant because neither party has ever tried to block a vote on a Supreme Court nominee in this way. A few days after this story aired, Senate Republicans, the majority party, voted to change the rules of the Senate to block future filibusters on Supreme Court candidates by lowering the number of votes needed to approve a nominee. Listen to learn more about how this could affect the future of the Senate.
Note: On 4/6/17, the Senate successfully voted to change Senate rules to allow the confirmation of Gorsuch and all other Supreme Court nominees by a majority vote. On 4/7/17 the Senate voted to confirm Gorsuch with 54 votes, the lowest in history.
Current Event April 3, 2017
Thousands of Russians took to the streets this week in Moscow and other cities to demand the resignation of Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev. Ten thousand people showed up to protest in St. Petersburg and about 20,000 people joined protests in Moscow, making this the largest anti-government protest the country has seen in years. Anti-corruption activist and government opposition leader Alexei Navalny organized the nationwide protests after publishing an investigation that alleged serious corruption charges against the prime minister. Listen to learn more about the mass protests and the motivations behind them.
Current Event March 31, 2017
Howard Zinn is best known for his book, “The People’s History of the United States” in which he reveals the United States’ long history of war, invasion, and human rights violations. A lawmaker in Arkansas has introduced a bill to ban the writings of historian Howard Zinn from schools in the state. Some people view Zinn’s work as an important insight into the negative aspects of U.S. history, while critics say that it is anti-American. Listen to hear more about Zinn’s perspective on United States history and an Arkansas educator’s views on the proposal to ban Zinn’s books from schools. Listen and then debate with your students: Should some books be banned?
Current Event March 29, 2017
During Women’s History Month, we celebrate the accomplishments of women who have made change in the world. Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese politician, diplomat and author who shaped the opposition of Myanmar, also known as Burma, is one such leader. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 because of her opposition to the military dictatorship. But she was unable to leave Burma to accept the prize because she was under house arrest. In 2012 she was freed from house arrest and gave her Nobel prize acceptance speech. Listen to this story about her speech accepting the Nobel Prize and learn more about Suu Kyi’s legacy that led to her to win the award.
Current Event March 22, 2017
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups has jumped from 30 to over 100 in the last year, with many new anti-Muslim groups. Now, some Muslim Americans are running for elected office in order to fight back against Islamophobia. Although these candidates face strong resistance, non-profit organizations, such as Jetpac and New American Leaders Project, are supporting their campaigns and training them on how to respond to anti-Muslim rhetoric. Listen to learn more about the rise in anti-Muslim hate groups and how some Muslim-Americans are turning to politics to push back.
Current Event March 21, 2017
During women’s history month, it’s important to look back at the impact of women on history. Madeleine Albright was the first female Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton. She directed foreign policy from 1997 until the Clinton administration left office. She is most known for leading diplomatic relations during the Kosovo conflict and being the first U.S. official to travel to North Korea and meet with then leader Kim Jong-il. Listen to learn more about Albright’s behind-the-scenes diplomacy, her impressions on being a woman working in the U.S. government, and her opinions on current events.
Current Event March 20, 2017
Republicans have released a health care bill that will repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act. This new bill has been reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office, which states in a report that with this plan as many as 14 million Americans will lose health coverage in the next year, with estimates of 24 million people losing health coverage over the next decade. Many Republicans believe these numbers are overestimated. They are focusing instead on how the Republican plan will reduce the federal budget deficit by over $300 billion over ten years. Listen to learn more about the changes to the U.S. health care system proposed in the Republican plan.
Current Event March 15, 2017
One of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises was to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. Legal professionals believe that hundreds of landowners will bring lawsuits against the U.S. government to stop the wall from being built in their backyards. While George W. Bush was President in 2006, he decided to build a fence along a portion of the border and hundreds of lawsuits were filed by landowners. Listen to learn more about the land disputes surrounding the proposed border wall and how Trump’s wall is likely to affect landowners and courts.
Current Event March 1, 2017
The role of First Lady is one that has been performed very differently by each presidential spouse. Melania Trump is no exception, and has already broken with some of the traditions around being the First Lady. Most notable is the fact that she has chosen to live in New York where her son attends school, rather than move into the White House right away. Listen to learn more about the roles of the first families now and in the past.
Current Event February 27, 2017
It’s a tradition of American democracy that members of Congress who are on recess hold town hall meetings in their districts to hear the concerns of the people they represent. This most recent recess, many Republican members of Congress are facing angry voters who are raising concerns about the Trump Administration’s policies. Most of the criticism has centered around the Republican party’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Listen to learn more about the backlash Republican Congress members are facing in different parts of the country.