, week of
Dec. 11, 2023
1. ANTISEMITISM ON CAMPUS
Several universities are facing a congressional inquiry and pressure from angry donors due to their handling of antisemitism on their campuses. Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania all faced House committee hearings where they were questioned on the “rampant antisemitism” on their campuses. The presidents of all three universities are now facing calls for their resignations as critics say they haven’t done enough to combat the targeting and harassment Jewish students are facing. Read more about the issue and what students have reported dealing with at the three universities. Then, write an article summarizing what has happened thus far in the inquiry and what changes, if any, have been made at the schools.
2. NUNS VS. GUNS
A group of four Catholic nun congregations are suing gun maker Smith & Wesson as shareholders in the company. The lawsuit alleges that Smith & Wesson is intentionally violating laws in its production and sale of AR-15-style rifles and, as such, is putting shareholders at risk. “Earlier this year, the nuns sponsored a resolution to have Smith & Wesson conduct an assessment of the human rights impact of its business practices, but a majority of shareholders voted against it in September,” the New York Times reported. Now, they’re able to sue because as shareholders, they are allowed to hold executives responsible for breaching their duties to those who hold stock in the company. According to a lawyer for the group of nuns, they collectively own more than 1,000 shares of stock in the company—a small amount of the more than 46 million shares available. At its core, the lawsuit is about the rise in gun violence in the United States, which advocacy groups and activists have increasingly looked for creative legal tactics to address. Read about other such cases, like lawyer Josh Koskoff’s victory against Remington in 2022, that have tried to hold gun manufacturers responsible despite the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that protects them. Then, write a summary of the cases you found and how they were able to circumvent the protection act for gun makers.
3. U.S. VETO
Almost all the countries represented in the 15-member United Nations Security Council approved a resolution that demanded an immediate cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war. However, the United States vetoed the measure, with US deputy ambassador Robert Wood saying that stopping military action in Gaza would allow Hamas to run the territory unchecked. The Palestinian territory’s Health Ministry reports that Israel’s military campaign against Hamas has killed 17,400 people in Gaza and that 70 percent of those were women and children. UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutierrez warned of the “humanitarian nightmare” in Gaza, with some 60 percent of the housing in the territory destroyed and around 85 percent of its population displaced. Summarize the most recent updates in the war in Gaza and how different countries around the world reacted to the UN’s vote and the US’s veto of the resolution.
4. FAKE ELECTORS FACE CHARGES
Nevada has become the third state to charge fake electors, or in this case, people who submitted certificates to Congress falsely declaring Donald Trump the winner of the 2020 presidential election in the state. A grand jury in Nevada indicted six Republicans on the charges of “offering a false instrument for filing” and “uttering a forged instrument,” two felonies that can carry one- to five-year prison terms. Michigan filed felony charges of forgery and conspiracy to commit election forgery against sixteen Republican fake electors over the summer and Georgia charged another sixteen alongside former President Trump over a scheme to illegally overturn the results. Wisconsin recently settled a civil lawsuit against ten Republicans for taking part in a similar effort. Read more about the fake electors and the specific actions following the 2020 election. Then, write an article that explains what these individuals are accused of doing and what the charges they’re facing mean.
5. CAN A.I. LIE?
Artificial intelligence has been a hot topic for months, particularly following the release of tools like ChatGPT. However, one problem has remained unsolved: AI bots’ propensity to “hallucinate” or repeat inaccurate information. A Brown University professor who helped write the White House’s blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights explained that the technology behind tools like ChatGPT are trained to produce a plausible-sounding answer, not necessarily a correct answer. The biggest issue is that it’s often difficult to users to determine whether a chatbot is giving factual information or making up a plausible-sounding falsehood. High-profile examples include a lawyer who referenced six cases made up by a chatbot in a legal brief and a news outlet that had to issue a correction after an AI-generated article gave inaccurate finance advice. Would you be comfortable relying on AI for information that you can’t fact-check or verify? Do you think scientific, professional, and/or news articles written with the help of chatbots should include a disclaimer that AI was involved? What about creative works, like song lyrics or poems, that aren’t intended to be factually based? Write an opinion piece that explores your take on some of these questions surrounding AI and its tendency to not always tell the truth.