Current Event October 15, 2018
In a recent Senate vote, Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired. The confirmation proceedings were very contentious, and the Senate vote was among the closest in history. After hearings about accusations of assault, reactions to Kavanaugh’s nomination were full of emotion and partisanship. Listen to hear about this historic vote.
Current Event October 12, 2018
Top executives from Facebook and Twitter recently met with Congressional committees about their roles in stopping interference in American elections by international powers such as Russia and Iran. Signs indicate that such interference remains a significant problem heading into the upcoming elections, and major social networks report that they are making efforts to address the issue. Listen to learn about what the networks are doing and debate: Should Facebook and Twitter be required to protect us?
Current Event October 10, 2018
In some instances, voting laws cause confusion about who is eligible to vote. For example, laws about whether citizens with a felony record can vote vary from state to state. In addition, efforts to keep voting registration records accurate have sometimes mistakenly removed eligible voters from the list. Listen to learn how various legal barriers influence voting and hear about the experiences of some of the people who have encountered these obstacles.
Current Event September 25, 2018
Interest in the upcoming midterm elections is higher than it has been in a long time, yet many Americans who are eligible to vote do not do so. More people tend to vote when there is a presidential race on the ballot. However, elections between those races (called midterms), which include important Congressional races, also have a significant impact on the lives of Americans. Listen to hear why some Americans who are able to vote have chosen not to cast a ballot and what that may mean for the election outcomes.
Current Event July 23, 2018
Since Justice Anthony Kennedy resigned from the U.S. Supreme Court, President Trump has chosen Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a Circuit Judge in the U.S. Court of Appeal who also served in the George W. Bush administration, to replace him. Because Kavanaugh has a long history of experience in Republican politics, he is a controversial choice for this position. Kavanaugh’s opinions from the bench could have a major influence on abortion law and other important issues. He now faces what will most likely be difficult confirmation process. Listen to learn more about Kavanaugh and his potential influence on the Supreme Court.
Current Event July 9, 2018
Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he is retiring from the United States Supreme Court after 30 years. Kennedy was often the swing vote in many of the most important cases that the court has faced in the last three decades.. Known for his far-reaching opinions, Kennedy has always been a very confident and active justice. Kennedy’s opinions on major social issues such as gay marriage or abortion rights made some conservatives upset and his retirement has some liberals worried about the future of those decisions. Listen to this story to hear about Justice Kennedy’s retirement and what effect it might have on the court.
Current Event April 27, 2018
Youth organizers want the voting age lowered to 16. There have been some successes and some setbacks in this effort. People who want to keep the voting age at 18 cite issues with maturity and think this might support Democrats only, however 50 percent of millennials self-identify as political independents. Other say that many issues affect 16 and 17 year olds, so they should be allowed to vote on them. Listen to hear from a youth advisory board member for Vote16USA and then debate: Should the voting age be lowered?
Current Event May 17, 2017
President Donald Trump has made frequent trips to his Palm Beach resort to get away for the weekend or host foreign officials on official business. Each one of these visits is estimated to cost the U.S. government about $1 million for operating Air Force One, lodging Secret Service agents, and reimbursing local police. At this rate, President Trump is on course to surpass all eight years of Obama’s travel costs in a single year. Listen to learn more about presidential travel costs.
Current Event April 21, 2017
In India, only 2% of citizens pay income taxes. There are many reasons for this, including that a large number of Indians do not meet the minimum salary for taxation. But there are loopholes in income reporting, and there is a cultural belief that the government is not using taxes to help the people, so many people just don’t pay. In India, unlike in America, the government doesn’t run large social welfare programs like Social Security, so Indians avoid paying taxes even if it’s illegal. Listen to this story and then debate: Should citizens pay taxes? Why or why not?
Current Event April 14, 2017
The U.S. Census Bureau is set to announce the proposed questions for the 2020 census. Many are concerned that under the Trump administration, Latinos will be less likely to respond for fear that immigration enforcement will use their answers against the Latino community. As a result, these communities may be undercounted, leading to less political representation and federal funding for these areas. Listen to learn more about the concerns around the politicization of the U.S. Census.
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 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 December 6, 2016
In 2002 the U.S. Supreme Court barred the execution of the intellectually disabled. But states have the ability to decide who is given the label of "mentally retarded." (This outdated term is used throughout this story since it’s the language in the court case.) The U.S. Supreme Court heard a case that questions what standards states may use in determining whether a defendant convicted of murder is mentally deficient. Listen to hear about this argument.
Current Event November 30, 2016
Twitter and Facebook say they are cutting off bulk data access to a firm that scans vast amounts of public social media posts. Critics say the service enables police to conduct invasive surveillance. Others say that social media is a useful tool in investigating crimes. Listen to hear more about this controversy, which includes the issue of protecting civil rights and law enforcement’s use of commercial products.
Current Event May 3, 2016
Puerto Rico is at risk of defaulting on a $400 million debt payment due May 1, 2016. House Speaker Paul Ryan pledged to have a plan ready by then to help Puerto Rico find a way to repay its debt. Many people have started predicting what a collapse of the Puerto Rican economy will mean for bond markets and the U.S. economy. There is currently a plan in Congress to set up a process to restructure Puerto Rico’s debt. Listen to learn more about this crisis and how it might be solved.
Current Event May 2, 2016
Populism has been a big factor the presidential election. In both Republican and Democratic races, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are tapping into frustrations against the elites and the establishment. Many voters see this election as being about economic fairness, and they feel like they've been left behind. The resentment has become more intense and politicians who name a clear target of blame have many people rallying behind them. Listen to hear about the lasting effect this may have on American politics.
Current Event April 25, 2016
The $5, $10, and $20 bill are all due for an update, and there has been a big push to honor a woman on the face of U.S. currency. Escaped slave Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the face of the $20 bill. Jackson will be moved to the back of the bill. The change came after the US Treasury Secretary invited the public to submit their own ideas of which female from US history should be featured. Tubman not only escaped slavery but created the Underground Railroad through connections and networks, bringing people together to reach a goal. Listen to learn more about the changes in store for U.S. currency.