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For Grades 9-12 , week of Oct. 09, 2023

1. INDEPENDENT ANNOUNCEMENT

Activist Cornel West, who was previously running for US President as a member of the People’s Party and then the Green Party, has announced he is now running as an Independent candidate. He’s criticized both Democrats and Republicans for partisan political struggles and has eschewed “internal party dynamics.” The African American scholar and best-selling author is working on getting his name on the ballot nationwide. Some Democrats were against West running with the Green Party, which would have given him an easier path to the ballot in every state. Research some former Green Party candidates who some suggest have affected the outcome of presidential elections in the past. Then, write an article explaining how West could have tipped the scales of the election if he were running with a party and why it might be more challenging for him as an independent.

2. MCCARTHY KICKED OUT

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. In the interim, Rep. Patrick McHenry is serving as the speaker pro tempore until a candidate can reach the 218 votes needed to be confirmed in the role. Write an article summarizing McCarthy’s short-lived tenure as Speaker of the House and his historic ousting from the position, using additional research from your newspaper or online.

3. A HAPPY ENDING

Charlotte Sena was kidnapped from a weekend camping trip with her parents when she was biking alone on a loop road lined with campsites. She was found thanks to a ransom note left by the kidnapper—police were able to analyze a fingerprint left on the note and found a match, which led them to the kidnapper’s mother’s house, where Charlotte was rescued from a cupboard cabinet. She was reunited with her parents two days after her disappearance. Some criticized the State Police, who were watching the Senas’ house when the kidnapper dropped off the ransom note, saying they should have intervened and arrested him them, but former police and criminal justice experts voiced their support for the state troopers, saying that it was the right decision in order to preserve evidence, like the fingerprints, and it led to the best possible conclusion for Charlotte. How would you report on a case like this while still maintaining respect and privacy for the families involved? Write your thoughts and share them with your classmates.

4. IN MEMORIAM

Women in politics gathered last week in memory of Dianne Feinstein, who died on Sept. 29 at age 90. She was San Fransisco’s first female mayor and California’s first female Senator and was the Senate’s oldest member before her death. Her memorial in her home city was attended by Vice President Kamala Harris, who was elected as California’s second Senator in 2017 before becoming the country’s first female Vice President; California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the first woman elected Speaker of the House; and Senator Chuck Schumer, the only man in elected office invited to speak at Feinstein’s funeral. Read about Feinstein’s accomplishments in her tenure as a politician. Then, write an obituary summarizing her political legacy.

5. BACK TO THE WALL

Despite it being a major source of contention during the previous presidential election, President Biden has announced that his administration will expand former President Trump’s wall along the Mexican border. The United States has seen a surge of migrants crossing into the country, which has become a source of intense political pressure for the White House. In tandem with the announcement of expanding the border wall, the US will also begin deporting Venezuelans who have entered the country unlawfully, ending a policy under which people from the troubled country were not turned away. Read more about the new immigration policy decisions in your newspaper or online. Then, write an opinion piece detailing whether you think the measures are warranted and will be successful or whether there are other solutions that you think should have been implemented.