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For Grades 9-12 , week of Mar. 04, 2024

1. JOURNALIST IN CONTEMPT

An investigative reporter for Fox News was held in contempt of court and charged a fine of $800 per day for refusing to identify a source. Catherine Herridge is being pressed to reveal her source for a series of stories in 2017 about a Chinese American scientist, Yanping Chen, who was investigated by the FBI for potential ties to the Chinese military. Material for the story came from leaked FBI documents, including a summary of an interview during the FBI investigation and information from Chen’s immigration forms—a violation of the Privacy Act, which prohibits leaking private information without an individual’s consent. Chen sued the government over the information leak and the federal judge has demanded Herridge reveal her source for the information, noting that a free press and confidential sources are critical to the United States, but the court has an obligation to uphold the law. Write an opinion article about whether you think Herridge should be compelled to give up her source or not and the effects either decision could have on our society.

2. PARAMEDIC CHARGED IN PATIENT DEATH

In a rare case, a paramedic in Colorado was recently sentenced to five years in prison after the death of a patient. Two paramedics, Peter Cichuneic and Jeremy Cooper, were convicted of criminally negligent homicide for administering a sedative to Elijah McClain, a Black 23-year-old who died as a result. Cichuneic was also found guilty of second-degree assault for administering a drug without consent or a legitimate medical reason, which caused serious bodily injury or death. McCain’s 2019 death was brought to national attention after the death of George Floyd in 2020 sparked a national movement about racial injustice. The case sparked a debate about whether a paramedic should be charged for not following proper procedures—in this case, not conducting basic medical checks like monitoring pulse and breathing before administering the sedative. Consider all sides of the issue: how would it impact paramedics and other first responders if a precedent is set about charging them with a patient’s death in cases like these? What impacts could that have on the community? Write an article that explores the different perspectives of this topic.

3. BATTLE OVER A.I. CONTINUES

Elon Musk is suing OpenAI and CEO Sam Altman, alleging a betrayal of the founding aims of the company of benefitting humanity. Musk funded the company with the agreement that Altman and president Greg Brockman would keep it a nonprofit and make their code open to the public. Instead, the company has aligned itself with Microsoft and the lawsuit alleges it is now seeing to maximize profits, turning its back on the original mission. While the claims of breach of contract and unfair business practices are unlikely to succeed in court, some speculate that it may be a way for Musk to get his position on record. Consider the implications of a donor or investor suing a nonprofit or charity for not acting in a way they deem appropriate. How could the decision in this case affect other nonprofits outside the tech industry? Write an article summarizing the facts of this case and discussing future implications.

4. MISSOURI LAWMAKER REJECTED

A state representative who was kicked out of the House Democrats’ caucus in December was denied a bid for governor of the state. The Missouri Democratic Party refused to accept a filing for a run for governor from Rep. Sarah Unsicker and said in a letter that they did not wish to associate with her as a candidate. Unsicker was ousted by her party after she posted a picture on social media with a man identified as a Holocaust denier by the Anti-Defamation League. The statement about her removal from committee assignments in the House of Representatives said, “She has chosen to use social media to promote individuals who espouse baseless conspiracies and racist and anti-Semitic ideologies that are antithetical to the values of inclusiveness, tolerance and respect House Democrats are dedicated to upholding.” She can potentially still run for governor as a Republican or libertarian if either party accepted her, or independent if she can gather the requisite 10,000 signatures. Consider whether the punishment—removal from her committees in Congress and rejection of her bid for governor—fits Unsicker’s actions. Write an opinion article about whether you think Unsicker is being treated appropriately by her party, using research about her conduct to back up your assertions.

5. UNIVERSITIES UNDER SCRUTINY

A bill working its way through the Mississippi legislature would close three of the state’s eight public universities. While it doesn’t say which of the schools would be closed by June 30, 2028, the board that governs the state institutions would choose based on enrollment, tuition rates, degree programs, local economic impact, and federal aid granted to the schools. The Republican Senator who proposed the bill cited declining enrollment to the schools and said the state was spending too much on keeping the universities open. Others say that state support could help reverse the declining enrollment and bring more students to the state. While the bill is unlikely to succeed in the state, it brings up a point about states’ obligations to their public universities. Research the public universities in your state and compare their information, like tuition and enrollment, to a private university in the state. Write an article explaining the comparison and how the presence of public universities affect the state.