Topic: Civics/Government

Current Event September 10, 2020

Concerns About the 2020 Election

Politics Civics/Government Health

The 2020 presidential election faces an unprecedented set of challenges. Mail-in voting, adopted by many states to protect voters from exposure to the coronavirus, could overwhelm the U.S. Postal Service and delay election results. And the spread of misinformation may cause fear and confusion among voters, potentially suppressing voter turnout. Listen to hear a journalist explain why he thinks a “perfect storm” of problems could be coming, and what Americans can do to make sure their votes are counted.

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Current Event September 3, 2020

30th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act

Civics/Government Law

President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. The law ensured people with disabilities had full access to jobs, schools, transportation, and public places. Listen to two disability rights activists, one who fought for the passage of the law and the other who grew up protected by it, talk about how each was inspired by the other, and how they believe life has changed for disabled Americans since the passage of the law.

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Current Event September 1, 2020

The History of the U.S. Postal Service

Civics/Government U.S. History Formation of U.S. Democracy

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has been in financial trouble for years.The postmaster general implemented cost-cutting measures that are reportedly slowing down the mail system, which is cause for concern among many as the national election approaches, with the expected rise in voting by mail during the pandemic. Listen to a historian explain the important role of the postal service in U.S. history, and why she believes it is more critical than ever to maintain smooth functioning of the USPS in support of American democracy.

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Current Event August 21, 2020

Debate: Should Federal Troops Intervene in Protests?

Politics Civics/Government Protest U.S. Constitution

Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, protests against racial inequities have taken place in cities around the country. Some have turned violent, and recently federal troops were sent into several cities to patrol streets and make arrests. Officials in those cities have not requested this help, however, and many do not welcome it. They claim it is the job of local and state governments, not the federal government, to control unrest. Listen to a mayor explain why she believes the police sent to her city do not belong there and then debate: Should federal troops intervene in protests?

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Current Event March 2, 2020

Racist Violence Declared High Priority for FBI

Civics/Government Race Religion Violence

The FBI announced it is moving racist violence to the same threat level as foreign terrorism. The change comes in response to a nationwide rise in racially motivated crimes, including attacks on blacks, Jews, Latinos, and other minority groups. To combat the trend, the FBI director instructed his special investigative teams to keep their eyes on domestic terrorism, and they have already arrested seven members of a violent neo-Nazi group. Listen to learn more about the FBI’s crackdown on domestic threats and why some people question whether the move will make a difference.

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Current Event October 11, 2019

Debate: Should Congress Consider Reparations for Slavery?

Politics Civics/Government Economics Race Culture Slavery U.S. History

Congress is debating whether and how to compensate the descendants of African-American slaves. Some argue that reparations, which means money paid to those who have been wronged, would fairly compensate African-Americans for the crimes committed against their ancestors. Others believe that the past is past, and that today’s citizens should not be required to pay for actions that did not involve them. Listen to hear a congressional representative explain how the legacy of slavery continues to impact black communities today and how the government might invest in addressing ongoing issues, and then debate: Should Congress consider reparations for slavery?

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Current Event September 30, 2019

Congress Launches Presidential Impeachment Inquiry

Politics Civics/Government

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced her support for a presidential impeachment inquiry by the U.S. Congress in response to a report suggesting that President Trump may have pressured the Ukranian president to investigate his political rival, presidential candidate Joe Biden. The “whistleblower complaint” alleges that financial aid may have been withheld from the Ukraine pending cooperation of its leadership with the U.S. president’s request. The U.S. Constitution empowers the Congress to charge the president with “high crimes and misdemeanors,” a process known as impeachment, as a check on executive power. Listen to hear what led to this important development and what is expected to happen next.

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Current Event August 6, 2019

Protests in Hong Kong

Politics Civics/Government Protest Violence Reform

In Hong Kong, protesters have been clashing with police as ongoing conflict on the streets of Hong Kong continues. Activists fear Hong Kong’s democracy is in danger because of the influence the government of mainland China has on their leaders and their lives. Listen to learn why protesters are concerned about the future of Hong Kong and its citizens, and find out what they are willing to do to protect it.

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Current Event July 29, 2019

Metering Migrants at the Border

Politics Civics/Government Immigration Law International

A policy adopted by the Customs and Border Protection agency known as “metering” has significantly reduced the number of immigrants being processed daily at the U.S.-Mexico border. While the agency says that they cannot keep up with the large numbers of asylum seekers, migrants and immigration reform advocates say that this slower processing speed causes serious problems. Listen to hear about how metering has affected those seeking asylum in the U.S. through its southern border.

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Current Event April 29, 2019

Assessing WikiLeaks Damage

Politics Civics/Government

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London after officials in the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he had been living since 2012, said they would no longer provide protection for him as a political refugee. In 2010, WikiLeaks hacked into U.S. government computers and published classified information, posing a national security threat, according to many officials. Assange argued that he was operating as a journalist, exposing U.S. government actions that should not be kept secret from the public. Listen to this story to hear about the impact on national security and diplomacy of the unauthorized release of classified documents by WikiLeaks.

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Current Event April 19, 2019

Debate: Can public memorials include religious imagery?

Civics/Government Culture Religion

The United States Supreme Court recently faced a case that tested the idea of “separation of church and state” that is a core tenet of American democracy. The case considered whether a giant memorial cross on public land might be unconstitutional. The justices heard a variety of arguments for and against the use of religious imagery in a public memorial. Listen to hear some of those arguments and debate: Can public memorials include religious imagery?

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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 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 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 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 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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Current Event January 7, 2019

Government Shutdown Continues into 2019

Civics/Government Branches of Government

The government has been partially shut down since before the new year, leaving more than 800,000 federal employees without a paycheck. The government is partially closed because Congress has not passed a bill to fully fund its operations, having reached an impasse over funding a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border. As a result, roughly a quarter of the government is closed, including all functions that are considered “non-essential.” Listen to this story to learn about the political standoff that is behind the shutdown and prospects for ending it.

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Current Event December 28, 2018

The Myth and Reality of President Ronald Reagan

Politics Civics/Government Branches of Government

Ronald Reagan was an actor, governor of California, and the 40th President of the United States. He served two terms and died in 2004 of Alzheimer's disease, ten years after leaving office. He was a Republican known for his conservative stance on reducing taxes, who instituted supply-side economic policies known as “Reaganomics,” which many credit with helping the economy prosper. Reagan helped to facilitate the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. However, his administration was tied up in the Iran-Contra affair, in which senior officials secretly broke an arms embargo and sold weapons to Iran. As a former actor, Reagan brought glamor to the presidency, and he is ranked as one of the more popular presidents. Listen to this conversation with an historian about how Reagan’s time in office is remembered, including some myths about his presidency.

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