Topic: US government

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Current Event November 6, 2017

Presidential Condolence Calls to Veterans' Families

war US government Veterans

The Presidents of the United States honor members of the military who have lost their lives in service to the country. The tradition of offering condolences has varied due to circumstances and are different for each president. From Lincoln to Trump, presidents have written letters, called families of the armed services member, and held ceremonies for the families of the fallen. The First Ladies have also found ways to honor service members. Listen to hear examples of this tradition and how it has changed over time.

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Current Event November 1, 2017

Infrastructure Upgrades Slow in Coming

Politics Engineering US government

There is widespread support for infrastructure spending from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Funding roads and bridges is good for the economy. It creates jobs, fuels growth, and helps Americans travel more quickly and safely. President Donald Trump promised a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan as a part of his campaign as well as his presidency. Trump’s new budget has allocated $200 billion in federal money for infrastructure over 10 years, but also cuts programs he calls wasteful, including water facilities and airports. Listen to hear questions and concerns about where the money is going to come from.

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Current Event October 16, 2017

Las Vegas Shooting Prompts Look at Gun Laws

Law Constitution US government

In Las Vegas, a man shot hundreds of rifle rounds into a crowd at a concert in the deadliest mass shooting in recent history. This has reopened the debate about gun control. Owning guns, hunting and recreational shooting are part of the culture in parts of Nevada. The state gun laws are less restrictive and difficult to enforce. Listen to this story about federal, state and local gun laws.

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Current Event October 11, 2017

History of the Presidential Pardon

Law US government

One of the most famous presidential pardons came when President Gerald Ford pardoned former President Richard Nixon. Recently, a former sheriff in Arizona and was found guilty of criminal contempt for defying a court order to stop detaining immigrants on suspicion that they were in the country illegally. President Trump pardoned the sheriff, which means he was forgiven of his crime and excused from punishment. Listen to hear the historical context for presidential pardons and about this pardoning, which has prompted questions about ethics and political procedures.

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Current Event September 1, 2017

Debate: Are Leaks Good or Bad?

US government

Leaks from the White House to the press are not uncommon, especially when looking at the executive branch over the last fifty years. President Trump has recently stated that there is a “culture of leaking in the U.S. government.” Trump, his administration, and the Department of Justice have all vowed to fight to bring criminal charges against leakers. Listen to hear a discussion of the history of presidential leaks and the difference between gossip and national security leaks and then debate: Are leaks good or bad?

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Current Event July 26, 2017

Donald Trump Jr. Met with Russians

Politics Global US government

The United States Intelligence Community has concluded that Russia interfered with the U.S. election. The Russian election scandal grows larger with the latest revelation that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer during the campaign. The meeting had eight attendees and Trump Jr. was told he would be given damaging information on Hillary Clinton. The question now is whether or not his meeting broke the law. Listen to this story to hear a law professor’s opinion on the meeting with Russian government officials.

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Current Event June 21, 2017

Trump Sued for Violation of Anti-Corruption Clause of Constitution

Politics US government

President Trump is being sued by Maryland and the District of Columbia for violating the Constitution's anti-corruption law. The lawsuit was filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a bipartisan group in Washington D.C. The lawsuit says that Trump is accepting money from foreign governments when diplomats and others stay at his hotel. Also, when foreign countries have their officials stay at the Trump hotel in Washington, it harms other local businesses. Listen to hear more about this clause in the Constitution and the lawsuit that was filed.

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Current Event May 23, 2017

Independent Prosecutor to Oversee Russia Investigation

Politics US government

The U.S. Deputy Attorney General appointed a special counsel, former FBI director Robert Mueller, to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The appointment comes after President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was investigating possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. In addition, the President reportedly asked Comey to drop the investigation into his former national security advisor. Listen to learn more about how this special counsel might impact the future of the Russian investigation.

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Current Event May 17, 2017

The Cost of Presidential Travel

Civics/Government US government Economy

President Donald Trump has made frequent trips to his Palm Beach resort to get away for the weekend or host foreign officials on official business. Each one of these visits is estimated to cost the U.S. government about $1 million for operating Air Force One, lodging Secret Service agents, and reimbursing local police. At this rate, President Trump is on course to surpass all eight years of Obama’s travel costs in a single year. Listen to learn more about presidential travel costs.

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Current Event April 24, 2017

Tensions between North Korea and the U.S.

Politics Asia Global US government

During his trip to South Korea, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea against testing the “strength of the Armed Forces of the United States”. The warning came a day after a failed ballistic missile test in North Korea. Pence also described the U.S. alliance with South Korea as “ironclad” and “immutable”. Listen to learn more about how the Trump administration is taking a more aggressive stance against North Korea.

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Current Event April 14, 2017

Debate: Should the Citizenship Question Be Included in the Census?

Civics/Government Immigration US government

The U.S. Census Bureau is set to announce the proposed questions for the 2020 census. Many are concerned that under the Trump administration, Latinos will be less likely to respond for fear that immigration enforcement will use their answers against the Latino community. As a result, these communities may be undercounted, leading to less political representation and federal funding for these areas. Listen to learn more about the concerns around the politicization of the U.S. Census.

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Current Event March 14, 2017

CIA Hacking Tools on WikiLeaks

US government

Concerns about national security and electronic privacy are growing following a leak of documents on WikiLeaks. The documents show how the CIA uses technology to gather intelligence from companies and individuals. This development is damaging to the CIA, because it reveals its use of surveillance, while also highlighting vulnerabilities in its technology systems. Companies will now be able to close gaps in their security, making it harder for the CIA to gather intelligence from them. At the same time, some people are worried about groups who can use this information to launch an attack against the CIA. Listen to learn more these leaks.

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Current Event December 19, 2016

CIA says Russia Interfered in US Election

Politics Global US government

There is evidence that a CIA assessment found that Russia intervened in the U.S. presidential election to try to help Donald Trump win. In this story, a reporter from the Washington Post discusses what they found out about how the Russians intended to help Trump in the election. It’s known that Russians hacked into both Democratic and Republican emails, and released emails to Wikileaks that were damaging to the Democratic campaign. President-elect Trump has stated that he does not trust the CIA’s assessment. Listen to hear more about what is known about the CIA report.

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Current Event December 16, 2016

Debate: Should Sodas and Other Sugary Drinks be Taxed?

Health US government

Voters in three cities in California voted to place a one cent-per-ounce tax on sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Proponents of the ballot measure believe the soda tax will help keep kids healthy and cut down on obesity. This movement to tax sugary drinks is becoming popular in other states and worldwide. In Mexico, a tax on sugary beverages resulted in a 20% drop in sales. Listen to this story and debate both sides of a tax on sugary beverages.

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Current Event May 3, 2016

Puerto Rico in Debt

Civics/Government Economics US government

Puerto Rico is at risk of defaulting on a $400 million debt payment due May 1, 2016. House Speaker Paul Ryan pledged to have a plan ready by then to help Puerto Rico find a way to repay its debt. Many people have started predicting what a collapse of the Puerto Rican economy will mean for bond markets and the U.S. economy. There is currently a plan in Congress to set up a process to restructure Puerto Rico’s debt. Listen to learn more about this crisis and how it might be solved.

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Current Event April 20, 2016

U.S. Funding in Honduras

Politics Protest US government

The U.S. government has traditionally given money to Honduras to help with its military and police operations. However, some are arguing that Honduras is a repressive regime that does not deserve this money. Opponents of U.S. aid point to the many unresolved killings of Honduran political activists, arguing that the corrupt government neglects to fully investigate these murders. Listen to learn more about the controversy around giving aid to Honduras.

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Current Event April 4, 2016

FBI Hacks Phone

Civics/Government US government Government structures

After the San Bernardino terrorist attack, the FBI took Apple to court to try and require them to unlock the iPhone of the suspected shooter. Apple refused, but then the FBI figured out how to get past the phone’s security on its own to look for evidence. After that, more cases of locked phones possibly containing evidence in criminal cases are showing up around the country. The FBI recently agreed to help prosecutors in Arkansas hack into to a phone that is believed to have information in a murder case. Listen to the possible privacy repercussions of the government hiring people to unlock phones and devices.

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Current Event March 28, 2016

Historic Visit to Cuba

Civics/Government US government

Recently President Obama made an historic trip to Cuba. As the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba since 1928, the President pledged to restore diplomacy and cooperation between the two countries. He met with Cuba’s president Raul Castro as well as anti-government activists, hoping to normalize relations with both Cuba’s leadership and citizens. Listen to hear more about how Obama’s visit represents a new page in U.S.-Cuban relations.

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