Current Event February 15, 2019
A recent viral video of an encounter at the Lincoln Memorial featured students wearing hats bearing the political slogan “Make America Great Again” (often abbreviated MAGA), prompting a lot of discussion about what the hats signified about those wearing them. Views differ about what the MAGA hat represents and whether it has become a racist symbol. Listen to this interview with a fashion and culture critic who recently wrote about what she thinks the MAGA hat symbolizes and then debate: Can a hat be more than a fashion statement?
Current Event February 11, 2019
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed an important treaty agreeing to a nuclear weapons ban that represented a major milestone in ending the Cold War between the two superpowers. More than thirty years later, that treaty may be falling apart. The U.S. government says that Russia is not in compliance with the treaty and is threatening to withdraw if that does not change. Listen to this interview with a national security expert who explains what this means for national security and the potential threat of a renewed nuclear arms race.
Current Event February 8, 2019
A video of a recent incident in Washington, DC went viral, causing a flurry of reactions that played out in the media. The brief video showed an encounter between a Native American elder, who was part of an “Indigenous People’s March” on the mall, and a group of students from a Catholic high school who were in town for a “March for Life.” Media coverage initially generated strong reactions. When additional longer videos surfaced, the media’s response changed, and lots of public dialogue about the incident ensued via social media. Listen to this story about what happened and then debate: Does media coverage sway our views?
Current Event February 4, 2019
The longest government shutdown in U.S. history has ended, but the resolution is only temporary. The government has reopened, furloughed workers have gone back to work, and Congress has promised to pay government workers their lost wages, while contractors may never recover their lost pay. The future is still uncertain, however, as Congress and the president are still negotiating over the budgetary issues that initially led to the shutdown – namely funding for a wall on the U.S. Mexico border. Listen to this story to hear about what might happen next as negotiations over border security in the budget continue.
Current Event January 30, 2019
A Memphis photographer famous for capturing iconic moments of the civil rights movement was recently revealed to be an FBI informant who secretly reported information about Martin Luther King, Jr. and other activists to the government. As a recent book recounts, Ernest Withers, whose photography earned him an international reputation, was involved in civil rights activities in ways that even his family was not aware. Listen to this interview with the author of the book about Withers to learn more about his complicated story.
Current Event January 28, 2019
For the third year in a row, a Women’s March was recently held on the mall in Washington, DC and in other cities around the world. The first Women’s March was organized in response to the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. This year, there was discord preceding the event, with some of the march’s leaders being accused of anti-Semitism. Many people, however, joined the marches in solidarity again, focusing on issues of equity and justice affecting women. Listen to this story to learn more about the event and the issues surrounding it.
Current Event January 24, 2019
The longest government shutdown in U.S. history has been going on for several weeks. While the president and Congress argue about funding for a wall on the southern border, 25% of the government has been closed. Hundreds of thousands of government workers are not getting paid, though many of them are still required to work. As a result, many working families are struggling to pay their bills and making difficult sacrifices during the shutdown. Listen to this interview with one federal worker and mother whose family has been feeling the impact of the shutdown and hear about what the experience has been like for her.
Current Event January 18, 2019
Three women in their 40s recently entered a famous Hindu temple in India that for centuries has not allowed females between 10 and 50 years old because they are of childbearing age. The temple was targeted by Indian feminists, who have been protesting gender discrimination, and there has been a political backlash among Hindu nationalists. Listen to learn more about how this incident raises issues of both gender equity and religious freedom, and then debate: Should houses of worship decide who may enter?
Current Event January 17, 2019
A newly elected New Hampshire state legislator is only 19 years old. Cassandra Levesque entered politics at age 15 through her efforts to change child marriage laws in her state, which allowed 13-year-olds to marry. Working closely on the issue with a state representative led to deciding to run for office herself. Listen to this interview with Levesque to hear about her path to elected office and what she hopes to do now that she has become a state lawmaker.
Current Event January 14, 2019
The current partial government shutdown is affecting many employees and contractors who are not being paid while the president and Congress are arguing about whether the federal budget should include funds for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. One important area where the shutdown may pose a safety risk is air traffic control. Uncertainty about the future is influencing the day-to-day work of these federal employees as well as the experiences of the flying public. Listen to this story to hear about the various ways that the shutdown is impacting airport travel.
Current Event December 31, 2018
Jimmy Carter, a soft-spoken peanut farmer from Georgia was the 39th President of the United States and served only one term. His accomplishments included brokering important peace agreements between Middle Eastern adversaries and nuclear superpowers. But Carter, a Democrat, lost reelection in 1980 following a bad economy and a hostage crisis in Iran. Carter has been very influential in his long post-presidential life primarily through the Carter Center, which works in conflict zones, monitoring elections and eradicating disease. Listen to this story to learn about Carter receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his work with the Carter Center.
Current Event December 28, 2018
Ronald Reagan was an actor, governor of California, and the 40th President of the United States. He served two terms and died in 2004 of Alzheimer's disease, ten years after leaving office. He was a Republican known for his conservative stance on reducing taxes, who instituted supply-side economic policies known as “Reaganomics,” which many credit with helping the economy prosper. Reagan helped to facilitate the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. However, his administration was tied up in the Iran-Contra affair, in which senior officials secretly broke an arms embargo and sold weapons to Iran. As a former actor, Reagan brought glamor to the presidency, and he is ranked as one of the more popular presidents. Listen to this conversation with an historian about how Reagan’s time in office is remembered, including some myths about his presidency.
Current Event December 27, 2018
After serving many years as governor of Arkansas, Democrat Bill Clinton was elected the 42nd President of the United States in 1992. He is remembered for signing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), passing welfare reform, and balancing the budget, among other achievements. As he ended his second term, he noted the fast economic growth, low rates of unemployment and poverty, and other indicators of economic prosperity during his presidency. Democrats and Republicans disagree, however, about what led to the economic boom during his presidency. Listen to hear competing theories about causes of economic growth in the Clinton years.
Current Event December 26, 2018
President George W. Bush was the governor of Texas before he became the 43rd President of the United States. Bush, who is the son of President George H.W. Bush, was elected in 2000 in a close, controversial race involving a recount in Florida and was reelected in 2004. His presidency was defined by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001, eight months into his presidency. Listen to learn how this event shaped Bush’s legacy.
Current Event December 24, 2018
President Barack Obama served as an Illinois Senator before he was elected President of the United States in 2008 and again in 2012. Born in Hawaii, he worked as a community organizer, civil rights attorney, and law professor before entering politics. Obama, a Democrat, was the first African American elected president, entering office at the beginning of a global financial crisis. He is widely credited with saving the U.S. economy from the brink of recession, and his other accomplishments include passing a major health care bill known as the Affordable Care Act. Listen to hear an economist discuss his thoughts on Obama’s legacy.
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 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.