Current Event July 23, 2018
Since Justice Anthony Kennedy resigned from the U.S. Supreme Court, President Trump has chosen Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a Circuit Judge in the U.S. Court of Appeal who also served in the George W. Bush administration, to replace him. Because Kavanaugh has a long history of experience in Republican politics, he is a controversial choice for this position. Kavanaugh’s opinions from the bench could have a major influence on abortion law and other important issues. He now faces what will most likely be difficult confirmation process. Listen to learn more about Kavanaugh and his potential influence on the Supreme Court.
Current Event February 7, 2017
President Donald Trump has selected Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch is a respect and deeply conservative justice. It’s expected many Democrats will oppose his nomination, in part because former President Obama had selected another justice to replace Scalia and the Republican majority Congress refused to meet with him for political reasons. Listen to hear about the political battle that is expected over the Supreme Court nominee.
Current Event February 3, 2017
President Trump has assembled the richest administration in history. With the nomination of Vincent J. Viola as secretary of the Army, Trump’s cabinet now has a combined net worth of about $13 billion and includes four billionaires. Federal ethics regulations require many of these cabinet appointees to sell off some of their investments to avoid conflicts of interest. However, cabinet members who do sell investments are allowed to keep all of the profits without paying a capital gains tax. Listen to learn more about Trump’s cabinet and then debate the benefits and drawbacks of having a very wealthy people in key government positions.
Current Event December 2, 2016
The United Nations set an ambitious goal of ending extreme poverty and fighting disease by 2030. But a lot of governments and international organizations and researchers still aren't collecting basic statistics. For example, currently over 150 million kids in poor countries have stunted growth, largely due to malnutrition, but there isn’t data about which nutrients available in these countries are most needed to prevent malnutrition. The data gap is especially noticeable when it comes to statistics on girls and women. This makes it hard to prioritize health spending. Listen to this story and debate what can be done to improve data on poverty.
Current Event April 4, 2016
After the San Bernardino terrorist attack, the FBI took Apple to court to try and require them to unlock the iPhone of the suspected shooter. Apple refused, but then the FBI figured out how to get past the phone’s security on its own to look for evidence. After that, more cases of locked phones possibly containing evidence in criminal cases are showing up around the country. The FBI recently agreed to help prosecutors in Arkansas hack into to a phone that is believed to have information in a murder case. Listen to the possible privacy repercussions of the government hiring people to unlock phones and devices.
Current Event March 25, 2016
President Obama has selected Judge Merrick Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Garland was approved for confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., by the Senate in 1997 with strong bipartisan support. However Senate Republican leaders have vowed to block any action on his confirmation for political reasons. They believe a president who is leaving office within the year shouldn’t nominate a new justice. The Supreme Court is one of the three branches of government and was established to be above politics. Listen to this audio story and debate with your students: Who should control the Supreme Court Nominating Process?
Current Event November 16, 2015
In Myanmar, also known as Burma, there was an important parliamentary election. This election was seen as a test of the powerful Myanmar military’s willingness to have a fair, democratic election. The pro-democracy opposition looks like it is headed for a victory but the votes are still being counted. Suu Kyi, the country’s most popular politician, is a leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD). Supporters of her party have been celebrating their apparent victory by gathering in the streets. Listen to hear more about these historic elections.
Current Event November 13, 2015
Presidential campaigns reported their latest fundraising totals recently. There is a shift in campaign fundraising focus from a candidate’s own committee raising money to independent superPACs. A candidate’s own campaign committee can't take contributions greater than $2,700. SuperPACs have no contribution limits at all. Also, a candidate cannot raise big money for a superPAC, but it's fine for a superPAC to raise money for a candidate's campaign. Are the fundraising laws fair? Listen to this story with your students and debate whether political campaign spending should be limited.
Current Event September 1, 2015
The Supreme Court ruled this summer to support same-sex marriage. This does not apply to Native American tribes, however, since they are not parties to the U.S. Constitution. A decade ago, Navajo lawmakers drafted the Dine Marriage Act that prohibits same-sex marriage, and only a dozen of the 566 U.S. tribes recognize same-sex marriage. If Native Americans leave the reservation, they are free to marry whom they choose, but in their own home community, the relationship is not valid. Listen to hear more about how these contradictory laws are affecting Native Americans.