Current Event May 11, 2021
In 1915, the Ottoman Empire, now Turkey, began a systematic process of deporting, torturing, and killing over a million of its Armenian population in what many regard as one of history’s worst atrocities. The United States had previously avoided officially labeling the massacre a “genocide.” Recently, though, President Biden changed course and joined the dozens of other countries that have declared the Armenian Massacre a genocide. Listen to a member of Congress explain what was behind the president’s decision and the effect it may have on our international relationships.
Current Event April 27, 2021
Hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased over the last year, as anti-Asian scapegoating rhetoric, harassment, and violence have accompanied the pandemic. The alarming trend has affected Asian Americans in a variety of ways. In this audio story, three teens explain how this threatening social climate has affected their day-to-day lives. Listen to hear the students describe their experiences at school, why they fear for their families, and what they are doing to stay safe.
Current Event April 22, 2021
Former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder for the May 2020 death of George Floyd. During Floyd’s arrest in Minneapolis on the suspicion that he was using a fake $20 bill, Chauvin held a knee to Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes while he lay face down and handcuffed. Floyd’s painful death, captured in a video recording taken by a bystander and recounted in the televised trial, drew attention to the problems of systemic racism and police brutality, and triggered protests around the world. Listen to hear how the crowd outside the courthouse reacted to the verdict and what it may signal for the future.
Current Event April 20, 2021
A violent mob stormed the Capitol building on January 6, 2021 and temporarily halted the process of certifying the presidential election of Joe Biden. The events of that day highlighted the growing problem of domestic terrorism in America. Domestic terrorist groups believe in a range of extreme ideologies, including anti-government, anti-Semitic, and racist views, and they threaten the safety of fellow Americans. The government is looking for ways to stop groups posing threats of violence from growing more powerful. Listen to a former CIA analyst discuss the rising threat of domestic terrorism and what Congress is doing to address it.
Current Event March 30, 2021
On March 13, 2020, police raided the apartment of a young Black woman, Breonna Taylor, and fatally shot her while she slept. The incident followed other killings of Black people by the police and sparked outrage around the world. This audio story features an interview with a leader of Black Lives Matter, an organization fighting racism and police brutality, on the one-year anniversary of Taylor’s death. Listen to an activist reflect on why Beonna Taylor’s death affected people deeply and how citizens can help prevent similar acts of violence in the future.
Current Event March 23, 2021
Recently a gunman in Atlanta killed eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent. The attack followed a year that saw a dramatic increase in verbal and physical attacks against Asian Americans, accompanying a rise in racist rhetoric that scapegoated China for the coronavirus pandemic. Anti-Asian discrimination and racism have a long history in the U.S., and tend to worsen during periods of tension and fear, according to a former professor of Asian American studies. Listen to learn about the history of anti-Asian violence in the U.S. and how today’s situation parallels the past.
Current Event March 15, 2021
A small but powerful band of Kurdish women has led the fight against ISIS, or the Islamic State, a group of militant Islamic fundamentalists, as they tried to overtake northeastern Syria. The women of the YPG force trained as warriors to defend their neighborhoods and towns, and fought side by side with American forces. Becoming fighters was unusual for women living in a traditional society, and their actions helped advance their goals of gender equality. Listen to learn what motivated the women to take up arms against ISIS and how one warrior’s uncle treated her differently after she fought.
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 12, 2021
Martin Luther King, Jr. practiced nonviolent protest and advocated for racial harmony. The racism and violence he experienced throughout his life, however, sometimes filled him with rage. King believed anger could be a useful, positive force if it was channeled productively. Listen to hear more about MLK, Jr.’s views on the strong emotion of anger and how he used it to help him accomplish his goals.
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 October 19, 2020
The actions of armed anti-government groups, often calling themselves “militias,” are gaining attention in the U.S. One such group was recently accused of plotting to kidnap the governor of Michigan. Militant groups sometimes claim the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which calls for “a well-regulated militia,” protects their right to exist. But are private militias really legal? Listen to learn whether armed anti-government groups can operate legally in the U.S. and how social media platforms help them thrive.
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 June 15, 2020
Protesters angry over the death of black people at the hands of police are demanding sweeping changes to policing systems around the country. Some say police department budgets are too large and want some of the money diverted to community support services. Others argue the only way to bring real change is to dismantle and replace police departments with entirely new systems. Listen to learn how policing rules in Minneapolis have already changed and why one former police officer and professor thinks abolishing the police is risky.
Current Event June 9, 2020
Protesters throughout the U.S. and the world are speaking out against racism and police brutality after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others. In this interview, a state representative from Louisville, Kentucky discusses why the demonstrations are fueled by frustrations, built up over decades, about inequities between white and minority communities. Listen to hear the representative describe how a peaceful protest she attended turned violent and how she hopes the movement will motivate young people to act.
Current Event June 5, 2020
How do videos of violent acts affect people? This question has been raised again by the recent leaked videotape of the killing of an unarmed black man, Ahmaud Arbery, in Georgia. Some say violent videos can help achieve justice for the victim, while others point out the harms that are caused when the videos become routine. Listen to learn more about the effects of viral violent videos and then debate: Should videos of community violence be shared?
Current Event June 2, 2020
Protests broke out in cities around the country following the death of a black man in Minneapolis. Video footage showed a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for over eight minutes while he begged for his life and while other officers watched. Although the officers were fired and one was charged with murder, protesters are demanding sweeping changes to a police system they say suffers from deep-seated racial bias. Listen to learn more about the protests and hear one protester explain why she risked her health to participate.
Current Event May 19, 2020
A videotaped act of violence in Georgia has highlighted the challenges black men around the country face in their everyday lives. Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed young black man, was shot by two white men who said they believed he was a burglar. Arbery was jogging when he was attacked and killed. Research shows that black men of all social classes often feel threatened as they go about their daily routines. Listen to a sociologist describe his research on what black men do to appear less threatening and how the threat they regularly feel impacts their lives.
Update: Since this story aired, Ahmaud Arbery’s attackers have been arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault.
Current Event March 2, 2020
The FBI announced it is moving racist violence to the same threat level as foreign terrorism. The change comes in response to a nationwide rise in racially motivated crimes, including attacks on blacks, Jews, Latinos, and other minority groups. To combat the trend, the FBI director instructed his special investigative teams to keep their eyes on domestic terrorism, and they have already arrested seven members of a violent neo-Nazi group. Listen to learn more about the FBI’s crackdown on domestic threats and why some people question whether the move will make a difference.
Current Event January 6, 2020
A Mississippi memorial to a teenage boy murdered on the banks of the Tallahatchie River has been rededicated for the fourth time. Emmett Till was an African American boy from Chicago visiting his Southern relatives when he was kidnapped and killed by two white men. Images from the horrific act helped to start the Civil Rights movement. Since the 1955 killing, three memorials have been installed to honor Emmett Till, but all have been vandalized. Listen to hear the director of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission explain why the group decided to put up a fourth marker and how it will be protected.