Current Event November 8, 2016
When the founding fathers of the United States were writing the Constitution in the 1780s, they were deadlocked about what to call the leader of the executive branch. At the time, “president” was used in other contexts. University heads were called presidents and heads of colonies sometimes used that title as well. But until President George Washington, this word had never been used to describe a leader of a country. Listen to hear how the decision was finally reached.
Current Event November 7, 2016
This election will be the first time some young people will be able to vote. Listen to a few first-time voters who are preparing to vote in the presidential election. Some are certain they are voting for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Gary Johnson while others are still undecided. They discuss their feelings about their choice of candidates and what their friends are talking about related to the election. Listen to hear more from young voters and the issues that are most important to them individually.
Current Event November 4, 2016
On election night in the United States, most news organizations won’t report results until the polls close. But this year, voting information may be released in real time while many people are still voting. It is commonly thought that publishing information on voting projections would change voters’ actions and possibly change the election results. Others think that voters should have the same access to information as news organizations. Listen to this story and then debate whether you think we should have real-time voting projections on election day.
Current Event October 31, 2016
Climate change and energy policy are issues that are important to millions of Americans, but the issue has not been front and center in the presidential election. Both candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have said they want to make the country energy-independent but their views on how to do that are very different. Listen to hear how Trump and Clinton differ sharply on topics such as coal, renewable energy and the Paris climate agreement.
Current Event October 28, 2016
The Federal Bureau of Prisons can petition the court for the early release of a prisoner for extraordinary and compelling reasons, called compassionate release. It is typically granted in cases where the inmate is dying or has a debilitating medical condition. This story highlights the case of a former Massachusetts House Speaker who was sentenced for corruption in 2012. He is dying of cancer and the Federal Bureau of Prisons has filed a motion to release him early. Listen to hear more about this extraordinary type of release and debate whether sick prisoners should be released for compassionate reasons.
Update: A federal judge ruled to grant the Massachusetts House Speaker early release because of his health.
Current Event October 27, 2016
Democracy has lasted in the United States when it has failed in other countries. This is due to many reasons, but mainly because there has always been a peaceful transfer of power following an election. Going against political norms for hundreds of years, Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has claimed the election will be rigged and has hinted that he may not concede if his opponent, Hillary Clinton, is elected. Trump has expressed concerns about voter fraud at polling stations, and encouraged people to closely monitor voting. Listen to this story to hear an expert in election law explain why he doesn’t believe the recent polls are not close enough for concerns about a rigged election to be realistic.
Current Event October 24, 2016
The Supreme Court is short handed with only eight justices to do the job of resolving the important legal questions of the United States. Since February 2016 when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly, the Supreme Court has been evenly divided in important cases. Under the Constitution, the Senate’s job is to confirm or reject the President’s nominee. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has promised that no Obama nominee would get a hearing or a vote and he believes the next president should select a nominee. Listen to hear more about how the presidential election may impact the next appointment to the Supreme Court.
Current Event October 17, 2016
Both U.S. Presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have said they are committed to creating more economic opportunities for Americans.There is a sense that economic opportunity is slipping away for some Americans, which is causing them to become angry. While both candidates have addressed this topic in their campaigns, they have presented their plans in different ways. Listen to hear how each candidate talks about the economy, and their plans to create more jobs and improve the lives of Americans.
Current Event October 13, 2016
Former Israeli President and statesman Shimon Peres was one of the founders of Israel. His participation and influence in Israeli politics spanned decades. After his recent passing, he is remembered for winning the Nobel Peace Prize and for his optimism about forming peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Listen to learn more about Peres’ legacy.
ELA High School
George Orwell is widely regarded as one of the 20th century’s most influential authors. His most famous book, “Animal Farm,” is considered to be a commentary on the dangers of Soviet-style totalitarianism. The book follows a group of animals who overthrow their human owners and establish self-rule on the farm. Over time the hopes of a better life fade as a small group of pigs take control and establish a dictatorship over the rest of the animals on the farm. “Animal Farm” continues to resonate with those who read it. This audio story commemorates the 60th anniversary of the publication of the novel and discusses its plot, its influence, and connections to today’s world.
Current Event October 12, 2016
The debates between the U.S. presidential candidates will mark the first time gender is a dynamic. The way women are perceived in a debate setting is different from the way men are perceived. The pitch of a woman’s voice and the way a woman dresses should not affect the debate, but are often highlighted or criticized. Listen to hear more about how some people see women versus men in a debate setting.
Current Event October 11, 2016
National Museum of African-American History and Culture opened on the National Mall in Washington D.C. in September 2016. It started with a vision and a mission to tell the story of America through the lens of black history and culture. Many people have given parts of their lives to this museum, which has collected 37,000 artifacts. The first item to come into the building was Jim Crow-era segregated train car that was lowered underground. Currently, 3,000 artifacts are displayed in the museum, and the curators will keep collecting for future exhibitions. Listen to hear more about this museum that was first proposed by black veterans of the civil war, and was recently opened to the public.
Current Event October 10, 2016
Countries that are a part of NATO, including the United States, promise to keep the peace and come to the defense of any member state that is attacked by another country. When the U.S. gets involved overseas, such as in Afghanistan, it acts with international alliances. Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have very different views of what the U.S. relationship with NATO should be. Listen to hear about both candidates’ positions, and the goals of NATO as a military alliance.
Current Event October 5, 2016
This year’s presidential campaign has been divisive, partly due to the polarizing nature of candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The social media site, Facebook, has been a popular platform for political conversation in past election years, but has surged this year. There have been over 4 billion posts, comments and reactions about this presidential election. As people take to Facebook to express their views, contentious political posts have been driving people apart, often leading to unfriending. Listen to hear how Facebook users are reacting to political posts.
Current Event October 4, 2016
In the fifth year of the Syrian civil war, more than 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives and more than 11 million people have fled their homes. The city of Aleppo in Syria remains under siege and rebel areas are being bombarded daily by warplanes, killing hundreds of people. The cease-fire between the Russian supported Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and the U.S. backed rebel groups collapsed. There was a deadly attack on a humanitarian convoy, which led to the United Nations halting aid to Syria. In addition to aerial attacks, there are ground offensives, and the water supply was cut off to the opposition-held half of the city. Listen to hear more about the escalation of fighting in Syria.
Current Event October 3, 2016
The next president of the United States will face national security issues, including terrorism and ISIS, along with the role of the U.S. in foreign affairs. Many voters want to know how candidates Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton might approach these international issues. This audio story discusses the ways each candidate might make choices and create policies that are similar or different from the existing policies of the Obama Administration. Listen to hear more about the foreign policy challenges the next president will face.
Current Event September 29, 2016
On November 8, 2016, Americans will cast their ballots in the presidential election. In 37 states, plus the District of Columbia, Americans will have the option to vote earlier than the scheduled election day. This allows residents to vote during a 10-day window immediately preceding Election Day. Early voting can result in more people voting, but it's an extra expense for towns. How could early voting could affect the presidential campaigns? Listen to hear more about the early voting process.
Current Event September 23, 2016
During elections in the United States, many agencies run polls to predict who will win and by what margin. Using scientific methods, these polls are often somewhat accurate. Before the modern technique of polling, Americans used to place bets on who would win the election. Sometimes the loser would have to give up money, in other cases, the loser would have to do things like carry the winner around on his back or even eat a crow. Listen more to learn about the history of predicting election results and then debate: Should betting on elections be allowed?