Current Event May 8, 2020
Governments around the world are using surveillance technology to help keep citizens safe from the spread of the coronavirus. Collecting cell phone location data can help officials implement some of the most effective tools for containing the virus, including contact tracing. In some countries, however, the government’s use of personal data to track people’s movements is raising privacy concerns. Listen to learn how three different countries are tracking personal data to fight the pandemic and then debate: Should surveillance technology be used for contact tracing?
This audio story was recorded in late April. The news about COVID-19 is changing rapidly and parts of this story may be dated.
Current Event May 1, 2020
States, political parties, and the federal government are considering how to hold safe elections this November during a pandemic. Many states have postponed their presidential primary elections or are allowing citizens to vote by mail. In the Wisconsin primary, there were long lines at the polls and fears about increasing the spread of COVID-19. Voters had to choose between maintaining social distance by staying home or risking their health while exercising their right to vote. Listen to this story about rules related to voting by mail and then debate: Should voting procedures change during a pandemic?
Current Event February 3, 2020
President Trump is taking steps to remind students and teachers of their right to pray in school. Under the Constitution, students have a right to freely practice their religion. However, the Constitution also says that public schools may not promote any religion. Listen to learn which religious expressions are allowed in public schools and how the law aims to prevent discrimination on the basis of religion.
Current Event January 31, 2020
Felons in Mississippi often permanently lose their right to vote, even after serving their sentence. The practice has resulted in the disenfranchisement of 10% of the state’s population. Now, civil rights groups are challenging the law in court, claiming it discriminates against black citizens and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. Those in favor of the law say although it was originally passed to suppress the black vote post-Reconstruction, there is no evidence of racial bias today. Listen to learn more about the lawsuit against the state of Mississippi and then debate: Should former felons be allowed to vote?
Current Event December 11, 2019
Trained dogs regularly report for duty at police stations and military agencies throughout the country. These obedient animals loyally serve their human handlers, often assisting with difficult, dangerous tasks. But what happens to police dogs when they retire? Texas lawmakers recently settled this question when they voted to amend their state constitution. Listen to learn what they decided and how the new law will affect Texas police dogs who have completed their service.
Current Event November 1, 2019
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.
Current Event October 22, 2019
A Boston judge ruled that Harvard University’s admissions process is legal. Harvard had been sued by a group claiming the university discriminated against Asian-American applicants when deciding whether to admit them. The judge ruled that Harvard’s process was fair because it considers many other factors when admitting students, and affirmative action allows the university to ensure a diverse student body. Listen to learn how a ruling for Harvard could affect schools throughout the country and why the legal battle over using race in college admissions continues.
Current Event October 4, 2019
Cycling deaths are on the rise throughout the country. As more cyclists take to roads already crowded with cars, accidents are increasing. One cause may be older urban streets designed for horses, not cars and bicycles. The attitude of drivers unwilling to share the road with cyclists could also be to blame. In some states, laws that increase penalties for drivers who hit cyclists are under consideration. Listen to hear experts describe the upward trend in cycling deaths and how the problem might be addressed, and then debate: Should more be done to keep cyclists safe?
Collection October 1, 2019
Justice is not a destination, but a journey of struggle to right societal wrongs. This audio story collection features examples from recent history of quests for justice by many different groups in a variety of contexts. These stories explore what justice might entail, and, more often, what the absence of a just society means for the daily lives of those who have been oppressed and marginalized. These stories span multiple countries, decades, and causes, but the common threads tying them together are the shared struggles and the importance of advocacy by and on behalf of people suffering injustice of any kind.
Current Event September 27, 2019
In response to the recent epidemic of opioid deaths, many states have filed lawsuits seeking millions – even billions – of dollars from drug companies. They say the companies misled the public about the dangers of opioids and ignored the problem of misuse. The companies say they are not responsible for how people used their product. A recent settlement awarded the state money to help pay for addiction treatment. Listen to hear more about penalties against drug companies and then debate: Should drug companies pay for opioid addiction treatment?
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 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 August 12, 2019
“Are you a U.S. citizen?” The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot include that question on the 2020 census, even though the Trump administration wanted to add it. However, the administration is still trying to get as much citizenship data as possible, and the controversy over whether to add this question could still affect the way undocumented immigrants answer the census. Listen to hear about the controversy over adding a citizenship question to the census and where it stands.
Current Event July 29, 2019
A policy adopted by the Customs and Border Protection agency known as “metering” has significantly reduced the number of immigrants being processed daily at the U.S.-Mexico border. While the agency says that they cannot keep up with the large numbers of asylum seekers, migrants and immigration reform advocates say that this slower processing speed causes serious problems. Listen to hear about how metering has affected those seeking asylum in the U.S. through its southern border.
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 June 5, 2019
The most recent recipient of the National Teacher of the Year award does not teach in a typical public school classroom. Rodney Robinson works in a juvenile jail with students of many ages and skill levels, and he is dedicated to helping his students learn and succeed. Listen to hear how this National Teacher of the Year supports his students’ learning and what he thinks needs to change about the American public school system.