Topic: Economics

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Current Event August 2, 2017

Understanding the Vanilla Shortage

Economics Africa Agriculture

There is a global vanilla crisis. Recently there’s been a global shortage of vanilla that’s affecting bakeries and ice cream shops across the country. The spice is primarily grown in Madagascar, an island off the southeast coast of Africa. Listen to this story to hear what caused this shortage and the dangers and problems faced by vanilla growers.

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Current Event July 10, 2017

Paying the Bills on $10 an Hour

Economics KERA

Making ends meet is something that many families in the United States struggle with. As the cost of living, day care, food and other essentials become more expensive, it is much harder for parents to provide for their kids. MIT has created a calculator to determine the living wages for people and families in each state. Working at a job that pays minimum wage often results in pay that is far below what is needed. Listen to the story of how a mother from Dallas pays the family bills, and some of the issues around a living wage.

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Current Event May 19, 2017

Debate: Will the Circus Survive?

Economics Arts

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus have announced they will close after 146 years in the circus business because of high operating costs and low ticket sales. However, at the New England Center for Circus Arts, performers are still training to become performers. With the most well-known institution of the American circus industry shutting down, it is up to the new generation of performers to redefine the circus’ place in American culture. Listen to learn more about how young performers thinking about the future of the circus, and then debate whether the circus will survive.

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Current Event May 10, 2017

Repairing L.A. after the Riots of 1992

Economics Race Protest

It has been 25 years since riots in Los Angeles left more than 50 people dead and lead to around 6,000 arrests and roughly $1 billion in property damage. Despite a massive campaign to invest in rebuilding the city, L.A. has still not been completely repaired to where it was before the riots. In the aftermath of the destruction, many hoped that the “Rebuild L.A.” campaign would lead to stronger communities with more black-owned businesses. However, Rebuild L.A. is seen by many as a failure. Listen to learn more about the legacy of the L.A. riots and how these communities are still dealing with the aftermath.

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Current Event May 9, 2017

Autism Can Be An Asset at Work

Economics Labor

The number of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is growing in the United States. Unfortunately, many individuals with autism struggle to find work. In fact, 40% of people with autism are unemployed. As people with autism enter adulthood, they lose a lot of their services and many struggle through socially challenging one-on-one interviews. However, some corporations are creating recruiting and training programs in an effort to employ people with autism. Listen to learn more about the challenges faced by people with autism as well as the unique strengths that they bring to the workplace.

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Current Event February 8, 2017

Keystone and Dakota Access Oil Pipeline Get Green Light

Politics Economics Environment

Environmentalists are taking a strong stance against President Trump’s executive order to revive two controversial oil pipelines—Keystone XL and Dakota Access. Several environmental groups have vowed to fight these pipelines in the courts and the streets if they are moving ahead. In addition, there are still hundreds of indigenous protestors at the Standing Rock camp in North Dakota who are committed to blocking construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. Backers of the projects say we need pipelines to transport oil more safely and efficiently. Listen to learn more about Trump’s plans to expedite pipeline construction and the groups working to block these projects.

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Current Event December 12, 2016

Devastating Oakland Warehouse Fire

Economics Law Arts

A fire broke out in a warehouse in Oakland where a number of people lived. The warehouse was converted to artist studios and living spaces. At least 36 people died in the fire. Some people are raising questions about this housing arrangement and other artists’ communities because there were no sprinklers or fire alarm system in the building. Listen to hear from one artist who lived in the warehouse and escaped from the building after the fire broke out.

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Current Event July 11, 2016

Venezuela in Chaos

Politics Economics Latin America

For years, socialist president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez, led the country as a dramatic presence. Three years after his death, Venezuela is spiraling downward. It’s economy depended mostly on oil, and with the crash in oil prices there are rolling power blackouts and food shortages. The government can’t pay to import goods, so many grocery shelves are empty, leaving hungry citizens to resort to looting. Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, has refused to allow a recall referendum against him and the country is becoming politically unstable. Listen to hear more about the crisis in Venezuela.

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Current Event May 27, 2016

Debate: Would a Universal, Basic Income Reduce Poverty?

Economics Ethics

Poverty is an ongoing problem that is difficult to solve. One charity is addressing global poverty in a new, unique way. It is planning to provide people living in poverty with guaranteed annual salaries for about a decade. The charity’s co-founder says that people living in poverty are capable of making smart decisions about how to spend their money. These salaries will enable the poor to take steps to improve their own lives. Listen to learn more about how “universal basic income” may change people’s lives for the better.

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Current Event May 13, 2016

Debate: Consumer Rights versus Worker’s Rights

Economics Technology Transportation

Uber is a ride-sharing company that allows users to request rides, and allows drivers to use their own cars to provide rides. When demand for Uber rides is greater than the supply, Uber uses “surge” pricing. During surge pricing, the rides cost 2, 3, or 4 times more than they do normally. The drivers like surge pricing since it accounts for a large part of their income. But the riders don’t like surge pricing because they pay more for the same ride. Uber is planning to end surge pricing. Listen to this story and debate the rights of both the workers and the consumers. Have students think about whether consumer rights are more important than worker’s rights.

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Current Event May 4, 2016

College Food Pantry

Economics Education Ethics

Colleges and Universities across the state of Texas are providing food pantries in order to keep students from going hungry. Schools don’t want students to skip meals, so they are providing this short-term fix to avoid their students going hungry. Some colleges have considered providing more access to school cafeterias or temporary meal plans for these students. Colleges don’t want to stop recruiting students who come from low income families, but they have had to increase tuition due to a decline in state funding. Listen to hear more about hunger on college campuses.

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Current Event May 3, 2016

Puerto Rico in Debt

Civics/Government Economics US government

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.

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Current Event April 29, 2016

Debate: Should Britain Leave the EU?

Politics Economics

There is an important debate in the United Kingdom about whether they should stay in the European Union or leave. One opinion is that there is a huge amount of discontent with the workings of the European Union and it will dissolve in the future. Another opinion is that the European Union has helped facilitate change in Europe and has promoted democracy, human rights and market economies. Listen as two brothers debate this issue, then discuss your students’ opinions about whether Britain should leave the EU.

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Current Event April 16, 2016

Making Rugs at Colonial Mills

Economics

There is a good chance braided rugs sold across the country were made in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. At Colonial Mills, employees produce beautiful braided rugs. Rug-making was once done completely by hand, but new machines and technologies have sped up the process. Employees have also found other ways to update their products so they look modern and new. Though Colonial Mills has faced challenges like the recent recession, it is a thriving business today. Listen to the story to hear more about this local rug factory has survived and thrived in a changing economy.

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Current Event April 11, 2016

Global Tax Avoidance

Economics Law

A law firm in Panama that sets up shell companies for people around the world so they can hide their financial transactions recently had a huge number of documents leaked to the public. Now these world leaders, movie stars and athletes’ tax avoidance isn’t hidden anymore. Regulators in a number of countries say they will use these documents to identify illegal activity. Following the release of this story, the scandal forced the Prime Minister of Iceland to resign. Listen to this story to hear more about identifying and regulating tax avoidance schemes.

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Current Event March 21, 2016

Economic Effects of Low Oil Prices

Economics

Falling oil prices typically help the global economy. Consumers have more money if they aren’t paying as much for gas, so they spend money on other things which stimulates the economy. Falling oil prices should also mean oil producers are making less money. But this isn’t necessarily true today. Some countries have built up reserves when oil prices were high, to minimize the effect of lower prices. Other countries are experiencing high inflation and economic damage from lower oil prices, subtracting from global growth. Listen to hear more about the effects of cheap oil today.

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Current Event March 3, 2016

Massive Milk Cows

Life Science Economics Genetics

America's dairy farms today have fewer cows, but those cows are producing more milk than ever before. The dairy cows are being bred to be larger, hungrier, and more productive. The focus on genetics to produce more milk has raised concern among livestock advocates. There are criticisms that the trade-offs are not worth it. Some think that finding ways to keep the cows content will increase milk production. Listen to learn more about the debate about genetics and dairy cows.

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Current Event January 19, 2016

A World Without Borders

Economics Immigration

The recent Syrian refugee crisis highlights the central issue of sovereign borders. Countries spend millions of dollars every year to protect their borders and tightly determine who can enter. An economics professor wants to see a world with open borders. He says open borders with no discrimination against where someone is born, and technology that allows ideas to flow freely, could double the global gross domestic product. Listen to hear this interesting description of a world without borders.

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