Topic: Culture

Current Event August 9, 2020

Weird News: Social Distancing Shoes

Culture International Community

Listen to hear about special shoes that can help people keep a healthy social distance from others.

Vocabulary: typical, benefit

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Current Event August 2, 2020

Weird News: Stuffed Animals Ride Roller Coaster

Culture Animals

Listen to hear about the adorable roller coaster riders replacing human visitors during the pandemic.

Vocabulary: hurtle, historic

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Current Event July 19, 2020

Weird News: Space Chess

Technology Culture International

Listen to hear about two astronauts in space playing chess with an expert on Earth.

Vocabulary: versus, draw, anniversary

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Current Event July 12, 2020

Weird News: Old Sneakers Sell for High Price

Culture Sports

Listen to hear about an old pair of sneakers that was sold for a very high price.

Vocabulary: auction, permanent

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Current Event July 5, 2020

Weird News: Coronavirus Hairstyle

Culture International

Listen to hear about how a hairstyle in Kenya has become popular again due to COVID-19.

Vocabulary: era, resemble, resurgence, austere

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Current Event June 12, 2020

Debate: Should Baseball Season Open During the Pandemic?

Health Culture Sports

This past spring, professional baseball shut down during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, as summer approaches, there is talk of partially reopening the season, sparking debate about the benefits and risks of resuming play. Some point to the power of baseball to console and unify the nation in times of crisis and say it is needed now more than ever. Others worry about the health risks to the players of bringing them on the field, even without spectators. Listen to hear more arguments for and against reopening baseball and then debate: Should baseball season open during the pandemic?

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Current Event June 11, 2020

Bicycles Bring Freedom for Women in Pakistan

Culture International

There has been a huge increase in bicycling around the world during the pandemic. In Pakistan, women and girls are riding bicycles in larger numbers than ever before. Traditional cultural norms have resulted in frequent harassment of Pakistani women who ride bicycles. The pandemic, however, has brought changes that have opened the door for more women and girls to enjoy the excitement and freedom of traveling by bike. Listen to learn why conditions during the pandemic have made it safer for Pakistani women to ride bikes, and why the cultural change may persist even after the health crisis ends.

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Current Event June 5, 2020

Debate: Should Videos of Community Violence Be Shared?

Race Culture Violence Media

How do videos of violent acts affect people? This question has been raised again by the recent leaked videotape of the killing of an unarmed black man, Ahmaud Arbery, in Georgia. Some say violent videos can help achieve justice for the victim, while others point out the harms that are caused when the videos become routine. Listen to learn more about the effects of viral violent videos and then debate: Should videos of community violence be shared?

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Current Event May 20, 2020

How the Pandemic May Influence Fashion

Culture Modern World History

The pandemic is causing some people to rethink their fashion choices. They are wearing more casual clothing, shaving beards, trimming nails, and choosing stylish face masks. One fashion expert says that sweeping changes in style often happen during times of social disruption. Listen to hear how past wars have influenced American fashion, which styles are currently trending, and how people may choose to express themselves through clothing when public life opens up again.

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Current Event April 29, 2020

Handshakes May Be History

Health Culture

The spread of the novel coronavirus has indicated that the time-honored custom of shaking hands may be history. Handshaking began thousands of years ago as a peaceful greeting, and has been praised for its ability to bring people together as equals. In light of new rules of social distancing, however, some people are suggesting alternative greetings that continue to connect us while keeping us safe. Listen to learn how handshakes were once used to check for concealed weapons and why some people are happy to see the practice end.

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Current Event April 5, 2020

Weird News: World's Longest Cake

Culture Food

Listen to hear about the longest cake ever baked.

Vocabulary: resolution, regret, previous

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Current Event March 20, 2020

Debate: Should the Dictionary Reflect Offensive Language?

Culture Sports Language International Ethnicity

A new definition was recently added to the Oxford English Dictionary, causing some concern. The word, a racial slur against Jews, has been used for years by fans of an English Premier League soccer team to refer to themselves. Opposing fans, though, often use the word in anti-Semitic chants. Some say adding it to the dictionary makes the offensive word seem more acceptable, but the publisher claims the dictionary is simply reflecting common usage. Listen to hear how English soccer fans feel about their controversial nickname and then debate: Should the dictionary reflect offensive language?

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Current Event February 20, 2020

Esports Explosion

Culture Sports Industry

Several universities are offering students the chance to major in a subject unheard of just a few years ago: competitive video gaming, or esports. Esports have gained a huge following in recent years, allowing athletes to earn money through sponsorships, merchandise, and tournament winnings. Fans watch games not only online, but also at arenas that can draw thousands of enthusiastic spectators. Listen to hear how schools are preparing students for careers in this growing field and how some people are working to make esports more inclusive.

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Current Event February 10, 2020

Weird News: Stuffed Animal Lost for 14 Years

Culture Human Connection Weird News

Listen to this story about an 18-year-old girl who discovers her long-lost stuffed animal that was missing for 14 years.

Vocabulary: intact

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Current Event January 20, 2020

Weird News: Penny Pyramid

Culture Visual Arts

Listen to hear about a man who built a pyramid out of pennies.

Vocabulary: demolish, unconventional

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Current Event December 18, 2019

"Mudlarks" Seek Buried Treasure

Culture Geography Class Ancient Rome Prehistory

Many years ago, poor children known as “mudlarks” used to dig through garbage along the Thames River in London. One modern English woman has been mudlarking for years, but for a very different reason: she searches for ancient relics of everyday life in years past. It is dirty work, but rewarding. She has discovered all sorts of artifacts from periods throughout history. Listen to hear a modern mudlark describe the excitement of digging for buried treasure and what she has uncovered in the process.

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