Current Event January 25, 2021
Joseph Biden was sworn in as America’s 46th president on January 20, 2021. The inauguration ceremony took place at the U.S. Capitol, two weeks after violent extremists stormed the building in an effort to overturn the election. Vice-president Kamala Harris also took the oath of office, making history by becoming the first female vice-president and also the first Black and Asian American. Biden and Harris take office as the country faces extraordinary challenges, including a worldwide pandemic and a deeply divided nation. Listen to hear more about an historic event and how it differed from past inaugurations.
Current Event January 19, 2021
A week after the attack on the U.S. Capitol, President Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for inciting an insurrection, which is a violent uprising against the government. He is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. Ten Republican lawmakers joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump, indicating more bipartisanship than his last impeachment garnered. The process now moves to the Senate for a trial, although that will not occur until after President-elect Joe Biden takes office. Listen to hear the voices of lawmakers arguing for and against impeachment and reporters considering what might happen next.
Current Event January 14, 2021
Rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol could be charged with sedition, or an attempt to “overthrow, put down, or destroy the government by force.” The mob attacked legislators as they were carrying out a fundamental duty of American democracy: certifying the electoral votes confirming the country’s next president. Although sedition is hard to prove in court, some say that holding violent extremists responsible for their actions will help prevent future attacks. Listen to learn more about the meaning of sedition and how it has been used in the past to prosecute terrorism.
Current Event January 11, 2021
Pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol building while Congress was meeting inside to officially count the electoral college votes establishing Joe Biden as the next U.S. president. They broke windows and looted offices, forcing lawmakers to flee to secure locations. Trump has falsely claimed that the election was stolen, and some say his words and actions incited the violence. Lawmakers met later in the day, after the building had been cleared, to finish their work. The insurrection, or act of rebellion against the government, has prompted a shift in support for the president in his final days in office. Listen to hear about a major attack on American democracy and the questions it raises.
Current Event January 8, 2021
A deepfake is a piece of audio or video that has been manipulated to represent something that never actually happened. Created using advanced technology, deepfakes often look and sound so real that it is easy to be fooled by them. Many people worry that deepfakes will cause damage by spreading false information so widely that the truth will be lost. Some are concerned that deepfakes will erode people’s trust in the media, causing them to dismiss truth as fiction. Listen to learn more about media manipulation and then debate: Will deepfakes change how people view media?
Current Event January 7, 2021
Professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe is considered one of the world’s top athletes. Among her many accomplishments, she helped bring the U.S. women’s national soccer team to victory in several Women’s World Cup tournaments. Rapinoe is also an activist who champions causes she cares about, including gay rights, equal pay for female athletes, and racial equity. She speaks openly about her personal struggles, and many view her as a role model. Listen to hear Megan Rapinoe reflect on a range of topics, from the current state of youth soccer to how it felt to realize she was gay.
Current Event December 14, 2020
There is a long tradition of US presidential candidates delivering a concession speech when they lose an election. A concession speech gives the losing candidate a chance to publicly acknowledge their loss and offer congratulations to the winner. Hearing a concession speech helps all Americans, including the candidate’s supporters, accept the newly-elected leader and feel reassured that a peaceful transfer of power will occur. This year, President Trump has refused to concede, breaking with long tradition. Listen to hear parts of presidential concession speeches from the past few decades, and learn why one candidate conceded the election twice.
Current Event December 11, 2020
Theme parks throughout the country closed soon after the pandemic hit, although some have since reopened. To control outbreaks of infection, reopened parks have limited the number of visitors and imposed strict rules, including mandatory mask wearing. Many people lost their jobs when parks closed, and the reopenings have put some back to work. California public health officials have decided that theme parks like Disneyland should not reopen until the risk of COVID-19 spread in the surrounding community is lower. Listen to hear from people for and against theme park reopenings and then debate: Should theme parks reopen?
Current Event November 24, 2020
As the first woman, who is also biracial, to be elected vice president, VP-elect Kamala Harris is an inspiration to young people around the country. Girls and young people of color, in particular, see her as a role model, and many have attended campaign events to catch a glimpse of her in person. Harris has used those opportunities to encourage girls to become leaders and imagine new roles for themselves. Listen to hear girls who admire Kamala Harris describe the impact she has had on them, and hear the incoming VP’s own words of advice to young people.
Current Event November 23, 2020
President-elect Joe Biden has formed a scientific advisory board to support the nation’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.This audio story features an interview with a prominent medical expert on the board, Dr. Atul Gawande, who outlines the major challenges facing the country as Americans plan for holidays in the midst of surging infection rates. He also looks ahead, speculating on the future of the virus and vaccines that can help to stop its spread. Listen to hear more about next steps in the battle against COVID-19 and how to stay safe – and keep others safe – during the holidays.
Current Event November 10, 2020
President Trump and many of his supporters refuse to accept the results of a close 2020 election, in which Joe Biden won more than the 270 electoral votes required to become the next president. Trump and his backers continue to claim fraud, though there is no evidence to support those claims. They distrust the media, who called the race for Biden based on official vote counts from each state. They also express concerns about the security of mail-in voting, but there is no evidence of wrongdoing. Listen to hear how some Trump supporters are feeling in the wake of a deeply divisive election.
Current Event November 9, 2020
After a long week of vote counting in a tight race, Joe Biden has been elected 46th president of the United States. Biden has run for president several times, starting in 1987, and has served as U.S. Senator and Vice President under President Barack Obama. Biden has suffered many significant losses, both personal and professional, throughout his life, but he says he has never lost faith in the American people. Listen to hear about his journey to the presidency and how his victory speech to a divided country addressed themes of unity and optimism amid challenging times for the nation.
Current Event November 6, 2020
Many Americans rely on polls to predict the outcome of elections. Polls ask large numbers of voters how they plan to vote, and news media outlets often report on those findings. However, many such polls did not accurately predict 2020 election outcomes, and people are wondering why. Some say that polling has become less reliable, and the media’s use of them can be misleading. Others say that polls can still help to inform us, and that without them, we would be in the dark. Listen to hear more about election polling and then debate: Should the news media rely on election polls?
Current Event November 2, 2020
The Senate voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett as a justice of the US Supreme Court. Barrett fills the seat vacated by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September. Democrats objected to the timing of the vote, which took place a week before the 2020 election, and senators voted almost entirely along party lines. Barrett’s confirmation gives the Supreme Court a 6-3 conservative majority. Listen to hear Republican and Democratic leaders react to the confirmation process, and learn how the pandemic affected the proceedings.
Current Event October 29, 2020
Recently fighting has erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics, in Nagorno-Karabakh, an area in the Caucasus Mountains. The conflict first began over 30 years ago, when Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, a region within Azerbaijan, sought independence as an ethnic group from the Soviet Union. Armenia eventually took control of much of Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as some adjoining areas within Azerbaijan. The region has geopolitical interest for Russia, Turkey, and Iran. Listen to learn what is emboldening Azerbaijan to take action and why one reporter calls this “a very dangerous conflict.”
Current Event October 26, 2020
The practice of observing elections, when people from both major parties watch the voting process to ensure it runs smoothly, has a long tradition in the U.S. People who watch polls must follow rules established by state and local governments. Historically, however, some election observers have been accused of acting aggressively to intimidate groups of voters and keep them away from the polls. Listen to hear more about guidelines for observers at the polls, and learn what one voting expert believes election officials can do to safeguard the 2020 election.
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.