Current Event October 20, 2020
As the 2020 U.S. presidential election approaches, many are warning that a winner is unlikely to be declared on Election Day. Some say a delay is not a problem, and may actually help the country arrive at a more fair and accurate result. More voters than ever before are mailing ballots to avoid coronavirus exposure. With extra time, election officials can ensure every vote is counted and errors are corrected. Listen to a voting rights expert explain why she is not worried about a delayed election result, and learn what Americans can do to support fair elections.
Current Event October 16, 2020
Americans are currently eligible to vote at age 18, but some say the age should be lowered to 16. Supporters of the change say younger generations have proven they are engaged and informed through their political activism and should have a voice in decisions that will affect their future. Opponents fear that 16-year-olds lack the maturity to vote and may be heavily influenced by parents and teachers. Listen to hear a young activist argue for lowering the voting age and then debate: Should 16-year-olds be allowed to vote?
Current Event October 13, 2020
Russia is trying to meddle in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, just as it did in 2016, through disinformation campaigns on social media. This year, experts say it is easier because foreign actors need only repeat falsehoods being circulated by Americans, including the current administration, which has questioned the integrity of the U.S. election process without supporting evidence. This has the effect of eroding voter confidence in democratic institutions and processes and encouraging actual interference with those processes. Listen to learn which tactics foreign adversaries are using to influence the 2020 election and how American national security experts and technology companies are trying to combat them.
Current Event October 6, 2020
President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden recently faced off in Cleveland, Ohio, in the first of three presidential debates leading up to the 2020 election. The debate was marked by angry exchanges, frequent interruptions, and calls for order by the moderator. This audio story analyzes the two candidates’ goals going into the debate and how well they succeeded in meeting them, as well as the impact of the president’s remarks about white supremacist groups and the peaceful transfer of power. Listen to learn more about this unusually contentious and chaotic presidential debate.
Current Event October 5, 2020
Amy Coney Barrett, a judge, former law professor, and mother of seven, is President Trump’s nominee for the next Supreme Court Justice. She is highly accomplished and well-regarded at Notre Dame Law School, where she taught for 15 years. She once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and her conservative judicial record generally follows his approach to interpreting the Constitution. If her nomination is approved by the Senate, some worry that the Court will pursue a conservative agenda that includes overturning the Affordable Care Act. Listen to learn more about Amy Coney Barrett and what her appointment could mean for the future of the Supreme Court.
Current Event October 2, 2020
President Trump is establishing a new commission to promote what he calls “patriotic education.” Trump objects to teachers using resources such as the New York Times’ “1619 Project,” which addresses the history of slavery and systemic racism in America. He suggests that learning about these issues will brainwash students into hating their country and prefers that the curriculum focus on America’s strengths, such as its foundational democratic principles. Many educators believe that students benefit from examining America’s history in all its complexity, including where it has fallen short of the ideals expressed in its founding documents. Listen to hear more about the battle over teaching history and then debate: Is studying America’s flaws unpatriotic?
Current Event September 22, 2020
A majority of eligible young voters have not voted in recent elections, but the 2020 presidential election could mark a change in that trend. This year, many young people have become civically engaged, motivated by issues such as racial justice. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization aims to boost youth activity at the polls. The group sets up voter registration programs in high schools, where students can lead efforts to register their peers. Listen to hear a high school senior explain why she encourages her classmates to vote, and learn why a professor believes civics education needs to change.
Current Event September 15, 2020
As the 2020 presidential election approaches, many young people feel that voting is an essential component of active citizenship but not enough by itself. Youth today are more engaged in politics than in years past, and a large number of them plan to vote. But they also believe political action, including public protests, is a crucial way to bring about social change. Listen to hear young people talk about why they participate in protests and learn how increased youth activism could help boost voter turnout.
Current Event September 10, 2020
The 2020 presidential election faces an unprecedented set of challenges. Mail-in voting, adopted by many states to protect voters from exposure to the coronavirus, could overwhelm the U.S. Postal Service and delay election results. And the spread of misinformation may cause fear and confusion among voters, potentially suppressing voter turnout. Listen to hear a journalist explain why he thinks a “perfect storm” of problems could be coming, and what Americans can do to make sure their votes are counted.
Current Event September 4, 2020
A recent public opinion poll has found that the majority of Americans want the federal government to take strong measures to control the spread of COVID-19, including requiring people to wear masks in public. Infectious disease experts say that masks can slow the spread of the virus, and supporters of mandates say they are a necessary tool for controlling a highly contagious disease. Opponents argue that masks are unnecessary, and some say mask mandates violate their individual rights and restrict their freedom. Listen to hear more results from the poll and then debate: Should mask wearing be required by law?
Current Event August 25, 2020
Many states are encouraging voters to cast ballots by mail in November to protect themselves from virus exposure. However, voter confidence in the process has been shaken by politicians who are saying that mail-in ballots may not be secure. Listen to a Republican election official from the state of Washington, where elections are 100% vote-by-mail, explain why voter confidence in elections is crucial and what steps she takes to ensure that voting is secure.
Current Event August 21, 2020
Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, protests against racial inequities have taken place in cities around the country. Some have turned violent, and recently federal troops were sent into several cities to patrol streets and make arrests. Officials in those cities have not requested this help, however, and many do not welcome it. They claim it is the job of local and state governments, not the federal government, to control unrest. Listen to a mayor explain why she believes the police sent to her city do not belong there and then debate: Should federal troops intervene in protests?
Current Event August 18, 2020
Presidential candidate Joe Biden has announced that Kamala Harris will be his vice presidential running mate. Harris will be the first black woman to run on a presidential ticket. Her candidacy comes in the midst of national protests over racial inequities, and many leaders of color are marking this historic moment. Listen to learn about Kamala Harris’s background and views, and hear how other leaders have reacted to the announcement.
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.
Current Event August 12, 2020
Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to protect the right of every citizen to vote. It ensured that unfair tests for voters could be challenged in court and gave the federal government oversight over states with a history of voter suppression. In 2013, however, the Supreme Court decided that a key part of the Voting Rights Act could no longer be enforced. Listen to learn about this change in federal voter protections and why one expert believes it puts the legacy of voting rights activist John Lewis at risk.
Current Event August 3, 2020
John Lewis, a celebrated civil rights leader and long-time member of Congress, has died. As a young man, Lewis fought courageously for racial justice alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., and others. Among other acts of nonviolent resistance, he led the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in support of voting rights, where he was severely beaten and arrested. Lewis continued to champion issues of justice as a legislator, earning him the nickname, “the conscience of Congress.” Listen to learn more about the life of John Lewis and how his passion and commitment to racial equality has inspired lawmakers and citizens for generations.
Current Event July 15, 2020
With the presidential election months away and the coronavirus pandemic raging, some people are concerned about the health risks of in-person voting. Now, athletes are helping to address that problem. Several NBA teams have volunteered their sports arenas as polling places. The large spaces provide plenty of room for social distancing, which election officials hope will encourage voter turnout. Listen to learn how sports arenas could solve a range of voting challenges and why black athletes are speaking out about political causes more than ever before.
Current Event July 13, 2020
The Mississippi legislature voted to remove the Confederate emblem from its state flag. Designed in 1894, Mississippi’s flag incorporated an image of the Confederate battle flag, a symbol that is offensive to many citizens. The decision to remove the emblem was made amidst protests over police killings of black people and a national reckoning with racism in America, past and present. Listen to hear a Mississippi politician recount the experiences that shaped his understanding of the Confederate symbol and why he thinks the long-overdue change is finally happening.
Current Event July 8, 2020
The Supreme Court announced that DACA recipients, sometimes called Dreamers, can stay in the U.S. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a program enacted in 2012 to protect children brought to the U.S. illegally at a young age from being deported. President Trump canceled the program, but the Supreme Court rejected his action and kept protections for Dreamers in place. Listen to hear how DACA recipients are responding to the high court’s decision and why their battle to stay in the U.S. is not yet over.
Current Event July 6, 2020
Leaders throughout the world are working to control the spread of COVID-19 in their nations. Some have managed to keep their country’s illness rates very low or to quickly limit outbreaks. This story examines the qualities and strategies of these successful leaders and the commonalities in their responses to the pandemic that have so effectively addressed the health crisis. Listen to learn what the New Zealand prime minister said to calm her nation, how leaders of several Asian countries mobilized their governments, and what the German Chancellor did for the first time ever to rally her citizens to work together to reduce the threat of the virus.