Current Event May 11, 2021
In 1915, the Ottoman Empire, now Turkey, began a systematic process of deporting, torturing, and killing over a million of its Armenian population in what many regard as one of history’s worst atrocities. The United States had previously avoided officially labeling the massacre a “genocide.” Recently, though, President Biden changed course and joined the dozens of other countries that have declared the Armenian Massacre a genocide. Listen to a member of Congress explain what was behind the president’s decision and the effect it may have on our international relationships.
Current Event May 6, 2021
In Afghanistan, education officials have banned girls over the age of 12 from singing in public, but the girls are speaking up. Many are posting videos of themselves singing on social media as part of a protest campaign. The ban comes as the Afghan government negotiates a peace agreement with the Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist group opposed to equal rights for women and girls. Listen to the director of an Afghan music institute explain why depriving girls of the right to sing is a “big issue,” and how it could impact the country’s future.
Current Event May 4, 2021
The U.S. and China have a long history of mistrust and competition. In 1971, though, an unusual situation helped thaw this chilly relationship. At the invitation of China’s communist leader, Mao Zedong, the U.S. Olympic table tennis team visited China for a 10-day tour and tournament. The widely publicized visit sparked a process that eventually allowed President Richard Nixon to accomplish one of his top priorities – opening dialogue with China. Listen to learn how Ping-Pong Diplomacy influenced the relationship between the U.S. and China and where that relationship stands 50 years later.
Current Event April 13, 2021
The Suez Canal is a 120-mile waterway dug in the Isthmus of Suez, between Africa and Asia, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. When it was built in 1869, the Suez Canal cut the travel time for ships bringing goods around the world, and global trade increased. Over the years the canal has been the site of conflict between powerful nations, and occasional disaster. Recently, a giant container ship got stuck in the canal and jammed water traffic for six days. Listen to learn more about the history and importance of the Suez Canal and why experts say accidents there are likely to recur.
Current Event April 6, 2021
In 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami set off explosions at a nuclear power plant near the Japanese town of Okuma. The disaster killed more than 20,000 people in the region and forced many others to flee their homes. In this audio story, a reporter returns to Okuma ten years after the explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to check on the city’s rebuilding efforts. Listen to newly-returned residents discuss the town’s past and future, and learn how removing the top of a mountain could help protect them from future devastation.
Current Event March 16, 2021
In a recent television interview, Prince Harry, grandson of Queen Elizabeth of England, and his wife, Meghan Markle, aired their grievances against the British royal family. The couple spoke publicly for the first time since stepping back from their royal duties a year ago. Meghan, who is biracial, objected to what she felt were racist comments from family members as well as the palace’s insensitivity to her mental health needs. Listen to hear more about the young couple’s disappointment with Buckingham Palace and why they chose to leave the royal life behind.
Current Event March 15, 2021
A small but powerful band of Kurdish women has led the fight against ISIS, or the Islamic State, a group of militant Islamic fundamentalists, as they tried to overtake northeastern Syria. The women of the YPG force trained as warriors to defend their neighborhoods and towns, and fought side by side with American forces. Becoming fighters was unusual for women living in a traditional society, and their actions helped advance their goals of gender equality. Listen to learn what motivated the women to take up arms against ISIS and how one warrior’s uncle treated her differently after she fought.
Current Event March 14, 2021
Listen to hear about an endangered Australian mouse that has proved to be a survivor.
Vocabulary: rodent, location, extinct, endangered
Current Event February 17, 2021
The height of the world’s tallest mountain is changing. The height of Mount Everest, located on the border between China and Nepal, was recorded at 29,029 feet. But over hundreds of years, natural events, such as earthquakes and moving plates in the Earth’s crust, have caused the mountain’s height to shift. In recent years, Chinese and Nepalese scientists have worked together to re-measure the giant peak. Listen to learn about the methods used to measure the mountain and challenges involved, and hear a climber explain why the height of the mountain matters to her.
Note: Since this story aired, the height of Mt. Everest was newly measured at 29,032 feet.
Current Event February 10, 2021
A lot of new baby elephants have recently been born in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. Elephants need just the right environmental conditions to have babies, and the mothers spend years nursing and rearing their young. The unusual baby boom means that elephants are thriving in one part of Kenya, but their rising population could also mean trouble for their future survival. Listen to hear a journalist and his guide search for baby elephants in a safari truck, and learn how long the babies stay with their moms.
Current Event October 29, 2020
Recently fighting has erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics, in Nagorno-Karabakh, an area in the Caucasus Mountains. The conflict first began over 30 years ago, when Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, a region within Azerbaijan, sought independence as an ethnic group from the Soviet Union. Armenia eventually took control of much of Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as some adjoining areas within Azerbaijan. The region has geopolitical interest for Russia, Turkey, and Iran. Listen to learn what is emboldening Azerbaijan to take action and why one reporter calls this “a very dangerous conflict.”
Current Event October 9, 2020
A judge recently blocked President Trump’s order to ban all U.S. downloads of the video sharing app TikTok, which is currently owned by a Chinese company. Trump views the app as a national security threat, saying that the data it collects from American users may be accessible to the Chinese government. Defenders of the app say no evidence exists that the Chinese government could access American TikTok data, which is housed in the U.S. Listen to learn more about the controversy surrounding TikTok and then debate: Should TikTok be banned in the U.S.?
Current Event August 19, 2020
A teen in India has become a celebrity after bicycling across the country carrying her dad. Fifteen-year-old Djoti made the trip when she and her father found themselves close to starvation and desperate to return to their home village. Djoti rode roughly 100 miles a day on a bicycle with no gears. Listen to hear the young athlete describe how she felt during the long journey, and learn how sports officials responded to her incredible feat.
Current Event August 17, 2020
A colossal explosion in Beirut, Lebanon has killed at least 200 people and injured 5,000 others. The blast occurred when explosive material stored in a warehouse in the port city caught fire. The catastrophe follows a year of protests against government corruption and mismanagement, and many Lebanese now blame the government for failing to remove the dangerous explosives earlier. Listen to learn more about one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, and hear Lebanese citizens explain why they no longer have faith in their government.
Update: Several days after this story aired, the prime minister of Lebanon, Hassan Diab, resigned.