Current Event September 6, 2019
FaceApp allows people to modify photos to change their appearances, trying out different hairstyles or even seeing what they may look like decades from now. While the app is fun and silly, some political leaders have warned against using it due to privacy issues related to its facial recognition capabilities. However, a technology writer argues that FaceApp is no more dangerous than many other social media applications. Listen to learn more and then debate: Should facial recognition apps cause concern?
Current Event August 23, 2019
Should some animals be considered “persons”? One lawyer is working to classify certain animals as “persons” so they can be protected under the law. Specifically, the lawyer wants to send three elephants from the “Big E” fair in New England to a sanctuary, where they will no longer have to give rides to customers. The fair owner disagrees and wants to keep the animals. Listen to hear the arguments on both sides of this complex animal rights issue and then debate: Should elephants be considered property?
Current Event August 19, 2019
Boris Johnson was recently elected the new prime minister of the United Kingdom. His first challenge will be to withdraw Britain from the European Union, which is required under a referendum voted by a slim majority of citizens in 2016. This is a difficult and controversial issue, commonly referred to as “Brexit.” Johnson is a distinctive and divisive figure. Some British citizens like and believe in him, while others find him unlikable, incompetent, and even dangerous. Listen to learn more about this new British leader and what he promises to do as prime minister.
Current Event August 16, 2019
YouTube has started removing videos containing extremist content promoting white supremacy. Some people and organizations support this policy as a way to make social media platforms safer. Others point out that the system for removing videos is imperfect, and this policy could interfere with video creators’ right to freely express themselves. Listen to learn more about YouTube’s new restrictions and then debate: Should YouTube remove extremist videos?
Current Event August 13, 2019
Retired Supreme Court Justice Paul Stevens recently died at the age of 99. Appointed in 1975, he served on the Supreme Court for decades. He authored numerous important majority opinions for the court and helped to decide many significant cases, even through difficult times and political changes. Listen to learn more about the judicial legacy of Supreme Court Justice Stevens.
Current Event June 14, 2019
The National Park Service has proposed new rules for protests on park property. The proposed rules would limit the amount of available protest space and require protesters to pay fees to hold a protest. Many people have expressed opposition to these rules, arguing that they would limit the freedom of speech that is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Listen to hear more about why the rules were proposed and why people are concerned about them, and then debate: Should public protests be restricted?
Current Event May 17, 2019
Opinions vary about the importance of speaking English in the U.S. Some people believe that it is unAmerican to speak languages other than English, while others believe that speaking multiple languages reflects the essence of what it means to be American. Listen to hear the opinion of one bilingual woman and her response to those with different perspectives. Then debate: Is encouraging people to speak only English unAmerican?
Current Event April 1, 2019
Special counsel Robert Mueller led a two-year investigation into Russain interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. The inquiry has ended, and the team’s report has been submitted to the federal Justice Department. Although the full report has not been released to the public yet, a summary of its conclusions has been shared. Listen to this story to learn about the questions that framed the investigation and what the Mueller team found.
Current Event March 28, 2019
A recent scandal has exposed multiple cases of bribery and fraud in college admissions. A number of wealthy parents paid to falsify test scores and applications and bribe coaches to get their children admitted to competitive colleges. While these actions are clearly illegal, there are other ways in which privileged students have been able to influence the college admissions process that feel unfair to students who have had to earn their place without those advantages. Listen to hear college students talk about their reactions to the scandal and their views about inequities in the college admissions process.
Current Event March 22, 2019
A clinic in Kiev, Ukraine is offering a controversial experimental procedure that allows parents experiencing infertility to have babies with three genetic parents. While this type of genetic engineering is allowed in some countries, it has been banned in the U.S., as there are many concerns in the medical community about the procedure’s safety and its ethical implications. Listen to this interview with the mother of one of a handful of three-parent babies that have been born and debate: Should three-parent babies be allowed?
Current Event December 7, 2018
A Chinese scientist claims to have created genetically edited human babies, igniting a major ethical controversy. The scientist says he used a new genetic engineering technique to modify genes in human embryos to resist HIV infection and then created twin girls from those embryos. His claim has yet to be verified. The scientific community has responded with strong ethical concerns about the risks of this type of human experimentation. Listen to this story to learn more and then debate: Should humans be genetically modified?
Current Event September 21, 2018
There have been several recent high profile cases of employees secretly recording conversations with colleagues at work and then sharing those recordings. This practice is controversial. Some say that it is the only way that they will be believed when reporting that a colleague has behaved inappropriately. Others say that it interferes with trust and damages workplace culture. Listen to hear arguments on both sides and debate: Should secret recordings be allowed at work?
Current Event September 10, 2018
In an unprecedented move, the president has taken away the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan and suggested that he may do the same with other former intelligence officials who have been publicly critical of him. The clearance gave Brennan the right to access classified information after leaving his job so he could be an advisor to new administrations. Listen to hear about this significant event and why it matters.
Current Event September 6, 2018
Michael Cohen, who was Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to eight felony charges, including tax evasion and campaign finance violations. In addition to owing about $1.4 million in unpaid income taxes, Cohen, who has described himself as Trump’s “fixer,” admitted to a role in paying two women to stay silent about their relationships with Trump, with the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential election. Listen to hear more about Cohen’s admission of financial crimes and their implications for the president.
Current Event August 31, 2018
A group of students recently sued the state of Michigan for failing to teach them to read in their public schools. The students argue that literacy is a constitutional right. A federal judge dismissed their case because literacy is not explicitly mentioned in the United States Constitution. However, the case is being appealed, making the argument that students should have equal opportunities to learn, no matter which school they attend. Listen to an interview with one of the lawyers working on this case, and then debate whether students have a legal right to learn how to read.
Current Event August 29, 2018
President Trump recently called the news media “the enemy of the American people.” Now, one news publication has started a movement to respond to this claim. Over 300 news publications have decided to support the effort and run editorials about the importance of a free press. Listen to learn more about one journalist’s project to defend the free press.
Current Event August 27, 2018
The Trump administration recently established a policy of separating immigrant families at the U.S. border, detaining parents and children in different places, even if they are legally seeking asylum. Although this rule has been reversed, some Americans want to help reunite the families that were separated while the policy was in effect. People who are passionate about this issue have raised more money than anticipated to help these families. Listen to find out how a simple act can snowball into a larger effort.
Current Event August 24, 2018
A city in California is experimenting with a new program in which it will give certain poor citizens $500 a month. Unlike other types of assistance, this money won’t come with any requirements or conditions. It’s what’s called a “guaranteed basic income,” a system other countries like Finland and Kenya have tried. Listen to hear the city’s mayor describe his vision for the program.
Current Event August 13, 2018
Facebook recently deleted pages and accounts it believed were run by Russians attempting to influence the upcoming midterm elections. Unfortunately, this also affected a valuable page American protesters were using to gain grassroots support. This issue raises important, unresolved questions about the relationship between Facebook, free speech, and propaganda. Listen to learn what an expert on civil liberties thinks about censorship on social media.