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?
Current Event December 21, 2018
For a long time, the handwritten signature was a distinctive mark of individuals. It used to be that credit card transactions, contracts, and other important documents required a handwritten signature to be considered valid. These days, however, electronic signatures are often replacing handwritten ones, but some worry that they are not a secure enough form of identification. Listen to hear an expert discuss the past, present, and future of handwriting and then debate: Are electronic signatures risky?
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 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 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 17, 2018
The State of Nevada recently had to postpone a scheduled execution of a convicted criminal because it could no longer use one of the drugs it had planned to put in the lethal injection. This case highlights a variety of issues surrounding the substances used in lethal cocktails, including their legality, proper protocol, and potential alternatives. It also raises important questions about the death penalty in general. Listen to learn more about this case and then debate: Does the method of execution in the death penalty matter?
Current Event August 15, 2018
A black state representative from Oregon was going door-to-door to speak with the voters she represents in her district when one of the neighborhood residents called the police. The resident thought the state representative was suspicious for knocking on doors, likely because of her race. Listen to find out how the state representative responded to the police and hear what she thinks can be done to make situations like these better in the future.
Current Event August 14, 2018
Israel recently passed a law that defines the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Israeli religious minorities, such as Muslims and Christians, feel that this law discriminates against them and fails to recognize their contributions. Some have even begun to protest it, gaining support from important and surprising allies. Listen to find out more about the controversy surrounding the Nation State law.
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.
Current Event July 9, 2018
Justice Anthony Kennedy announced he is retiring from the United States Supreme Court after 30 years. Kennedy was often the swing vote in many of the most important cases that the court has faced in the last three decades.. Known for his far-reaching opinions, Kennedy has always been a very confident and active justice. Kennedy’s opinions on major social issues such as gay marriage or abortion rights made some conservatives upset and his retirement has some liberals worried about the future of those decisions. Listen to this story to hear about Justice Kennedy’s retirement and what effect it might have on the court.
Current Event June 15, 2018
A new Sacramento law makes what the city calls “aggressive panhandling” illegal. It forbids people from begging for food or money within 30 feet of a bank or ATM or outside of restaurants. Those caught breaking this law more than three times face fines and jail time. One homeless man is suing the city because he believes this rule violates his right to free speech. The city argues that it is only trying to prevent the most forceful panhandling and plans to defend the rule. Listen to this story about Sacramento’s new law and then debate: Should panhandling be illegal?
Current Event June 11, 2018
A new data protection law in the European Union is designed to preserve citizens’ privacy by fining those who use others’ personal data without their permission. This rule could cause problems for many who take photos in public places and post them online. According to this law, anyone who appears in a photo, even if it’s in the background of a selfie, must agree that the photo can be uploaded to the Internet. This law will likely force photographers to consider their subjects’ consent more carefully. Listen to learn more about this new rule.