Current Event December 10, 2018
President George H.W. Bush died recently at the age of 94. Bush served as president of the United States from 1989–1992. The former president is remembered as a Republican moderate who presided over the end of the Cold War, nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, led military interventions in Latin America and Iraq, and signed legislation prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities. Listen to President Bush’s biographer talk about his legacy as the 41st president of the United States of America.
Current Event December 6, 2018
Record numbers of women ran and were elected during the 2018 midterm elections. In particular, more women were elected to the House of Representatives than ever before, including many notable firsts. Listen to this audio story to hear more about why the surge of women in politics is such an important development.
Current Event December 3, 2018
A large group of Central American migrants fleeing violence and seeking asylum in the United States have been gathering at the Mexican border as they await processing of their applications. Tensions erupted recently in Tijuana, Mexico during a protest by migrants impatient with the process, and some made a run for the U.S. border during the unrest. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers fired tear gas on the migrants and temporarily closed the border. Listen to this story to learn more about reactions to these events and ideas about how to improve the situation.
Current Event November 19, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently resigned at the request of the president. Sessions was one of President Trump’s earliest political supporters, but Trump has been critical of Sessions since appointing him to lead the Department of Justice. Listen to hear about what preceded the president’s request for Sessions to resign and why many people consider it to be a significant development with implications for the ongoing investigation into Russian election interference.
Current Event November 5, 2018
The gunman who recently attacked a Pittsburgh synagogue made reference to anti-Semitism, refugees, and conspiracy theories via social media. The man who allegedly sent mail bombs to prominent political and cultural figures had a social media history that indicated an anti-media bias and a presence at political rallies. There has been an increase in U.S. mass-casualty attacks in recent years by mentally unstable, violent individuals who link themselves with ideological or political causes. Listen to this interview with a counter-terrorism expert to learn more about the connection between hostile political rhetoric and violence.
ELA High School
When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, many families forced to flee the island were resettled in towns throughout the United States. Some of these, of course, were students in the middle of their high school careers. Listen to hear how one high school senior is dealing with the tremendous challenges and uncertainty of finishing high school while being uprooted because of a natural disaster. This audio was provided through partnership with New England Public Radio. See the original story here
Current Event October 31, 2018
The annual MacArthur Foundation Fellowship awards, known as “genius grants,” are a very highly respected prize dedicated to “celebrating and inspiring the creative potential of individuals.” Among this year’s recipients is Reverend William Barber II, whose work aims at increasing awareness of problems such as poverty and racism by using creative approaches to activism. Listen to hear about Barber’s efforts to improve American lives and how he plans to use the grant to support their continuation.
Current Event October 29, 2018
Many voters do not realize the importance of state elections and therefore do not pay as close attention to candidates for state office as they do to those for federal office. Governors and state representatives make many decisions that affect people’s daily lives, such as how money will be spent on schools and roads, and often these state politicians move on to national leadership positions. Listen to hear how campaign leaders from both major political parties are working to try to gain or hold power in these influential midterm races.
Current Event October 23, 2018
Russian agents interfered in the last major U.S. election in many ways, including planting “disinformation” or false information intended to mislead voters about the voting process. A new state office in California has been established to combat such disinformation leading up to the next election in November. While some welcome the role the state is playing, others are concerned about the potential for domestic political interference. Listen to hear how voters have been misled and what the state of California is trying to do about it.
Current Event October 15, 2018
In a recent Senate vote, Judge Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, replacing Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired. The confirmation proceedings were very contentious, and the Senate vote was among the closest in history. After hearings about accusations of assault, reactions to Kavanaugh’s nomination were full of emotion and partisanship. Listen to hear about this historic vote.
Current Event October 12, 2018
Top executives from Facebook and Twitter recently met with Congressional committees about their roles in stopping interference in American elections by international powers such as Russia and Iran. Signs indicate that such interference remains a significant problem heading into the upcoming elections, and major social networks report that they are making efforts to address the issue. Listen to learn about what the networks are doing and debate: Should Facebook and Twitter be required to protect us?
Current Event October 10, 2018
In some instances, voting laws cause confusion about who is eligible to vote. For example, laws about whether citizens with a felony record can vote vary from state to state. In addition, efforts to keep voting registration records accurate have sometimes mistakenly removed eligible voters from the list. Listen to learn how various legal barriers influence voting and hear about the experiences of some of the people who have encountered these obstacles.
Current Event October 9, 2018
The process of becoming a legal U.S. citizen has been lengthening for years, but the backlog in citizenship applications has increased significantly during the Trump administration, which is concerning to immigrant advocates. People applying for citizenship must fill out a written application, take a citizenship test, and be interviewed, and each of those steps takes longer now. Listen to hear about recent changes in the citizenship application process and timeline and how they are viewed by various participants in the process.
Current Event October 4, 2018
Additional hearings were added to the Senate confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh to address allegations made by a woman who testified that he assaulted her when they were in high school in 1982. A current high school senior wrote and published an opinion piece describing her experience of the hearings. Listen to hear an interview with the student author about her reflections on the testimony and its implications.
Current Event September 28, 2018
Three New England Patriots football players recently moderated a community forum where they asked candidates for district attorney how they would address inequality in the criminal justice system. The forum was part of a national series organized by the Players Coalition, a group that negotiated a $90 million campaign for social justice and racial equality with the NFL. The football players explained that, as citizens, they want to make a positive impact on their communities that is more powerful than protests on the playing field. Listen to hear more about what these football players are doing to tackle injustice and then debate: Should Professional Athletes Get Involved in Politics?
ELA High School
More people have been deported from the U.S. in the last decade, starting under the Obama administration, than at any other point in history. Deportations occur for any number of reasons–criminal activity, improper paperwork, and so on–but regardless of the reason, they always have an impact far beyond the person who is removed from the country. Listen to hear how having her father deported has affected one teen and her family.
Current Event September 25, 2018
Interest in the upcoming midterm elections is higher than it has been in a long time, yet many Americans who are eligible to vote do not do so. More people tend to vote when there is a presidential race on the ballot. However, elections between those races (called midterms), which include important Congressional races, also have a significant impact on the lives of Americans. Listen to hear why some Americans who are able to vote have chosen not to cast a ballot and what that may mean for the election outcomes.
Current Event September 17, 2018
Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh faced many questions during his Senate confirmation hearings. He testified for days, answering questions from Senators about presidential power, abortion laws, and a variety of other issues. The hearings are intended to help the Senate and the public learn more about the president’s nominee for a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court, whose decisions will impact generations. Listen to hear about some of the major issues raised during these important hearings.