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 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.
Current Event May 24, 2019
What defines a movie? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents Oscar awards for movies that have been released in theaters before being distributed on demand. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have been producing original movies, and they want those movies to be eligible for Oscars, too. Some Academy filmmakers believe that such movies should not be eligible for Oscars. Listen to this story about the changing movie industry and debate: Should streaming-only movies be eligible for Oscars?
Current Event May 15, 2019
A fourth-grader in Texas had an idea to help kids put down their digital devices and have some fun outdoors. She partnered with a state representative to write a bill that would make state parks free to fifth-graders and their families. Listen to find out more about the case the student made to state legislators and next steps in making her idea a reality.
Current Event May 13, 2019
At 85, after reigning for three decades, Emperor Akihito of Japan is the first to step down from the throne in over two hundred years. In 1989, he was the first emperor to rise to the throne as a symbolic leader without political power under a U.S.-drafted constitution. Listen to hear how his departure has prompted reflection on his reign, what made it uniquely modern, and how it upheld some traditions and broke others.
Current Event May 10, 2019
In 2017, five students who sprayed racist graffiti on a historic African-American schoolhouse received a sentence designed to educate them about how racism has impacted people’s lives throughout history. They were assigned twelve books to read and respond to in writing. Listen to this interview with the state official who devised this unusual sentence and then debate: Can tolerance be taught?
Current Event May 6, 2019
The murder of rap artist and community activist Nipsey Hussle has brought renewed attention to the current state of gangs in the U.S. While gang membership totals have stayed relatively constant, gang members are getting younger, and they are still involved in serious crimes and violence. Listen to hear from a former gang member and a reporter about how and why gangs currently operate in the U.S.
Current Event April 24, 2019
If Uber and other transportation technology companies have their way, people who use ride-hailing apps will soon be able to order flying taxis. These futuristic vehicles would quickly transport passengers from location to location, traveling high above traffic on the ground. Listen to find out how and when the dream of flying cars may become a reality, and what issues need to be considered before then.
Current Event April 11, 2019
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were notorious gangsters during the Great Depression. The Barrow gang robbed banks and stores, led prison breaks, engaged in gunfights, and were constantly on the run from the law until they died in a shootout in their 20s. Surprisingly, Bonnie and Clyde also wrote poetry, and their original poems were recently put up for auction, along with some photographs. Listen to hear excerpts of their poetry and reflections on what it reveals about the legendary criminals.
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 29, 2019
The U.S. military is an all-volunteer force. However, when American men turn 18, they are required to register with the Selective Service, which means they are eligible to be drafted to serve in the military if the U.S. goes to war and needs more soldiers than the all-volunteer military force can provide. Recently, a federal judge ruled that requirement should not be limited to men in response to a lawsuit arguing that restriction was unconstitutional. Listen to hear different views about whether the U.S. should require both men and women to register with Selective Service and debate: Should women be drafted?
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 18, 2019
The recently proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexican border would not be the first of its kind. In 2006, Democrats and Republicans passed a bill to construct a secure fence across part of the border. To build the fence, the government took land from private property owners, which is allowed through a power known as eminent domain. In such cases, the government is not required to ask owners for permission to claim their land. Listen to hear about the laws that allow this kind of land seizure, how they impact landowners, and how issues related to eminent domain might resurface with the current border wall proposal.
Current Event March 5, 2019
A journalist in the Philippines who has been critical of the government was recently arrested for the sixth time, raising concerns among champions of press freedom around the world. The arrest was based on false charges, and the journalist may be in danger in a country where the press has been regularly targeted by an authoritarian government. Listen to this interview with a representative of Reporters without Borders, an organization that reports on press freedom, about the risks facing journalists worldwide.
Current Event January 27, 2019
A new group of Florida voters can now participate in the election process. Former felons in Florida were not allowed to vote for many years, but a recent amendment passed by a majority of Florida voters has reinstated this important right of citizenship. Listen to this story to hear more about what this change means for new voters and for the state of Florida.
Current Event January 11, 2019
The Farm Bill recently passed by the U.S. Congress includes a provision outlawing rooster fighting throughout the nation and its territories. This provision of the law is having a big impact on the island of Puerto Rico, where the rooster fighting industry is important to the economy. Supporters of the law say that rooster fighting is cruel and should have been made illegal years ago. Some Puerto Ricans view the ban on the centuries old tradition as an attack on their culture. Listen to the story to hear both sides of the issue, and then debate: Should rooster fighting be legal in Puerto Rico?