Topic: Culture

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: Worlds 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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Current Event December 12, 2019

Clothing That Made History

Culture U.S. History Visual Art Modern World History

Can a first-day-of-school dress or a pair of mismatched cleats reveal anything important about history? The author of a new book argues that examining clothing from the past helps us remember historical moments and view them in a new light. Listen to hear a fashion historian explain how a belt from the Holocaust and an outfit worn by Princess Diana in a minefield can make history come alive.

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Current Event December 6, 2019

Debate: Should Kids Have Smartphones?

Technology Culture Youth

Smartphones can help kids wake up on time, stay connected to their parents and friends, find information quickly, and access other useful resources. But children with smartphones are also vulnerable to cyberbullying, harmful content, and other risks. A recent national study found children are getting smartphones at younger ages, raising questions about how they are using smartphones and concerns about how to best protect them. Listen to hear more about the survey results and then debate: should kids have smartphones?

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Current Event November 14, 2019

Marijuana and Teen Health

Culture Health Human Body

The Surgeon General announced a campaign to educate young people about a drug he says is more dangerous than kids realize – marijuana. Today’s marijuana is typically three times stronger than in past decades and comes in different forms. Teens who use it regularly are more likely to do poorly in school, experience depression, and become addicted. But as marijuana has become legal in over 30 states, many teens seem unaware of the serious health risks it poses. Listen to hear a medical expert talk about the dangers of marijuana use and how the president has personally supported efforts to raise awareness.

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Current Event November 1, 2019

Debate: Should a River Be Granted Personhood?

Culture Climate Change Law Conservation

A Native American tribe in California took an unusual step to protect a river central to its way of life – it gave the river the same rights as a person. The move allows the tribe to take legal action against anyone who harms the river. Listen to hear a tribal member explain the special role of the river in tribal life and why the group decided to take such bold action.

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Current Event October 28, 2019

Who Are The Kurds?

Culture International Ethnic and Religious Conflict

The Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the Middle East without a country of their own. The population is spread among Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, and many have been fighting to create an independent Kurdistan. Recently, the U.S. withdrew troops from northern Syria that were protecting the Kurds, and Turkey attacked Kurdish areas because of a longstanding conflict. The Kurds’ ethnic identity and their freedom to express it depend on which country they call home. Listen to the voices of a Kurdish guide and poet explain what it means to be a Kurd and describe the experience of living in the Kurdish region of Iraq.

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Current Event October 21, 2019

Ocean Warming Is Accelerating

Culture Environment Climate Change Weather and Climate Human Impacts Oceans

A recently released United Nations report looks at changes in the world’s oceans caused by a warming climate. The report found that oceans are rising at a faster rate than ever before and becoming more acidic, threatening human and fish populations. Communities that depend on the sea for their food and way of life are especially vulnerable. Listen to learn more about the challenges humans will face as sea levels continue to rise.

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Current Event October 15, 2019

Reconsidering the "Hispanic" Label

Politics Culture Ethnicity

“National Hispanic Heritage Month” is a time to celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of Americans with origins in countries once under Spanish influence. The term “Hispanic” was added to the U.S. census to identify members of a diverse group of people with common interests. However, some people feel the term is problematic because of its connection to Spanish colonialism. Many prefer the term “Latino,” while others like to be identified by their national heritage. Listen to hear a journalist explain various preferences for naming ethnic identity and what they mean to people.

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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 October 10, 2019

Vaping Ads Target Teens

Health Culture Ethics Media

Vaping has been linked to illness and even some deaths, and critics are arguing that ads targeting young people contribute to this growing public health problem. Vaping advertisers are looking to successful cigarette ads of the past to help them attract new users. They emphasize flavored varieties that appeal to young people and promote vaping as a healthy alternative to smoking. Listen to hear how vaping companies are working with advertisers to skirt regulations and craft ads that attract teens to the risky practice of vaping.

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