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For Grades 5-8 , week of June 19, 2023

1. WALKING BACK IN

Republican Senators in Oregon ended a six-week walkout, making it the second-longest in United States history. The boycott, which stalled the Senate from voting on bills because they didn’t meet the necessary minimum number of senators, was prompted by a bill targeting abortion and gender-affirming care. One of the most highly contested parts of the bill was a stipulation that doctors could provide an abortion regardless of a patient’s age and were not required to notify a minor’s parents in certain cases. In order to end the walkout, Democrats agreed to amend the language about parental notifications, specifying that a provider can decline to tell the parents of a patient if doing so would not be in the patient’s best interest or if it would lead to abuse or neglect of the patient. Write an article about the walkout in Oregon, using your newspaper or online research to find facts about the effects the walkout had for the state.

2. GOOGLE SETTLEMENT

Google has settled a class action lawsuit for $23 million regarding the search engine’s activity from 2006 to 2013. The lawsuit alleges that Google stored and shared users’ search queries and histories to other companies during the seven year period, which is a breach of privacy laws and Google’s own privacy policies. Anyone who used Google and clicked a search result link within the time period is entitled to part of the settlement, which is estimated to end up being around $8 per person. Write down the ways other companies could use the user data that Google provided and how that could have negative consequences for the users who didn’t know their data was being collected and distributed to other companies.

3. COMMISSIONER QUITS

Shock hit the New York Police Department when Keechant Sewell, the department’s commissioner, suddenly stepped down from her role last week. She was only in the role for eighteen months but rumors in the past year suggested tension between her and Mayor Eric Adams that reached a breaking point. While Sewell has not yet disclosed her reason for leaving the job, those close to her describe an environment where she was stripped of her ability to make decisions for the department, having to get permission of the Adams administration to enact changes. Consider how you might have approached the situation if you were in Ms. Sewell’s shoes. Then, draft a letter to Mayor Adams as if you were Ms. Sewell, outlining your complaints and suggesting potential solutions.

4. WOMEN PASTORS

The Southern Baptist church, the United States’ largest Protestant denomination, recently rejected requests from two churches who were appealing their expulsion from the overarching organization that governs Southern Baptists. The Southern Baptist Convention declined the appeals from Saddleback Church and Fern Creek Baptist, which were among a group of five churches expelled for having women pastors, which is against the Southern Baptists’ statement of faith. The convention went so far as voting to adopt an amendment to their constitution, specifying that only men can be appointed or affirmed as pastors—though the measure won’t go into effect until it is approved at the next annual meeting. Write an article explaining the perspectives of the two opposing sides in this story and what the end result was.

5. SYNTHETIC EMBRYOS

For the first time, researchers have successfully created a human embryo-like structure from stem cells instead of an egg and sperm. The synthetic embryos don’t have a heartbeat or brain, but they could be used in the future to further research of miscarriages and genetic diseases. However, critics have brought up the ethical question about using synthetic embryos, as most countries don’t have laws about them. As of now, researchers are barred from implanting synthetic embryos and are only able to keep them in a lab for up to fourteen days. Write an article that explores what the risks are of using synthetic embryos for research and why this could be a beneficial or problematic scientific gain.