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for Grades 5-8

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For Grades 5-8 , week of Oct. 09, 2023

1. QUARTERBACK IN COURT

Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre will have to answer questions under oath this month about misspending of federal welfare money in Mississippi. Money given to the state by the federal government was meant to be a direct aid to families in one of the poorest states in the country, but most of the money instead went to projects supported by wealthy and well-connected people. One was a volleyball arena Favre supported at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, where Favre is an alum, and another is the development of a concussion treatment drug Favre supported. Write a summary of the case in Mississippi and Brett Favre’s potential involvement.

2. PEACE PRIZE AWARDED

This year’s Nobel Prize winners were announced last week, with the Nobel Peace Prize going to Narges Mohammadi, an activist for women’s rights in Iran. She’s currently in prison in Iran for the thirteenth time, and in total she has been sentenced to 31 years behind bars for her human rights work. It’s the fifth time the Peace Prize has been awarded to someone in prison or under house arrest. She has still contributed to the cause from prison, though, including writing an opinion piece for the New York Times last month about the ongoing protests in her home country. Her husband, who was exiled from Iran and now lives in Paris, said she likes to repeat that “Every single award will make me more intrepid, more resilient and more brave for realizing human rights, freedom, civil equality and democracy.” Read more about Mohammadi and the work she’s done for women’s rights in Iran. Then, write a short article summarizing her life and achievements.

3. VACANT SEAT

For the first time in US history, the Speaker of the House was voted out of his position in the House of Representatives. Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s confirmation to the position iIn January was contentious and to sway voters at the time, he agreed to allow just one member to put forward the motion to vacate, the procedure to remove the Speaker from his role, which was ultimately used against him last week by Rep. Matt Gaetz. The motion only needs a simple majority to pass; all House Democrats and eight Republicans agreed to oust McCarthy—many of them, the same people who voted against him becoming speaker earlier this year. Gaetz brought the motion to vacate after McCarthy worked with Democrats to keep the federal government from shutting down over the budget, which many Republicans have refused to approve. Read about the current frontrunners for the role and write a brief article describing who they are and what the process will be to decide a new Speaker.

4. OUT OF OFFICE

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was abruptly asked to leave her workspace in the US Capitol Building following Rep. McCarthy’s ousting from his position as House Speaker. She said Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry, who is the interim speaker while a new one is decided, ordered her to remove her belongings immediately so the room could be rekeyed for the new speaker’s use. The Speaker of the House has the sole authority to designate who gets the limited office spaces in the Capitol Building; Pelosi, like most other House members, has an office across the street in the Cannon House Building, but she had maintained a hideaway space in the Capitol since her term as speaker. Research how space in the Capitol building has been given out in the past, then write an article summarizing the history and theorizing why Pelosi may have been asked to vacate her space so quickly.

5. STUDENT DEBT: ON AGAIN, OFF AGAIN

While President Joe Biden’s overarching student debt relief bill was struck down by the Supreme Court, his administration continues to forgive student loans through other means. To date, the Biden White House has forgiven $127 billion of student debt with $9 billion of that across 125,000 borrowers coming as the pause on student loan repayments from Covid-19 comes to an end. The latest loan forgiveness includes those who qualify through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which eliminates student debt for people who work in public service for ten years; people who qualify for an income-driven repayment plan who have worked for twenty or more years but didn’t receive the debt forgiveness they should’ve; and borrowers who have a permanent or total disability. How does forgiving student debt affect the economy and other people who don’t have student loans, either positively or negatively? Write your thoughts and share them with your classmates.