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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Sep. 18, 2023

1. LETTERS BROUGHT TO LIGHT

Actor Ashton Kutcher has resigned as the chair of Thorn, an anti-sex abuse organization organization he cofounded in 2009 with then-wife Demi Moore. He stepped down after letters surfaced that Kutcher and his wife Mila Kunis wrote on behalf of their former “That ‘70s Show” co-star Danny Masterson, who was recently convicted of rape. Letters by Kunis and Kutcher to the judge seeking a lenient sentence for Masterson were made public after Masterson’s sentencing, where he was given 30 years to life in prison. Do you think the letters, which were meant for the judge to read before sentencing, should be available for the public to read? Write a paragraph detailing your opinion and discuss with your classmates.

2. SPENDING BILL STRUGGLES

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy gave in to resistance from far-right Republicans about a Pentagon spending measure, bringing the government closer to a shutdown. Staunch conservatives have threatened to oust the speaker from his role, to which McCarthy dared them to try to have him removed in a closed-door meeting of House Republicans. The Pentagon spending measure is typically a part of the budget that draws bipartisan support, but this year it has been the subject of controversy. Democrats have opposed the bill because it goes against the debt ceiling deal brokered between McCarthy and President Biden earlier this year and contains several conservative policies; far-right Republicans have said they won’t support any of the remaining spending bills unless they’re assured the measures won’t exceed pre-pandemic spending levels. Even opportunities to make amendments to the legislation were met with resistance, making a government shutdown seem imminent. Using online research, write a short article summarizing what a government shutdown would mean for the country and how average American citizens could be affected.

3. A CASE FOR GOOGLE

Thirty-eight states and territories have laid out their case against Google in the beginning of an anti-trust trial against the tech giant. The Justice Department and states allege that Google used its vast wealth to remain the dominant search engine, effectively squashing competition—for example, the company pays $10 billion to Apple to be the default search on its smartphones. In response, Google asserts that it hasn’t excluded its competitors but offers a superior product that users want. The trial will stretch on over the next ten weeks and could have impacts for other tech companies and the way they do business. Read more about the case against Google and both sides of the argument. Then, write an opinion piece in which you make a prediction about how the case will turn out.

4. CATASTROPHIC FLOODING

Two dams in Libya burst from heavy rains, causing massive flooding that killed thousands of people. Entire neighborhoods were washed into the Mediterranean Sea as floodwaters destroyed much of the city of Derna, on the country’s northern coast. A lack of a meteorological authority and crisis management in the country hurt evacuation and rescue efforts; many residents didn’t receive much warning about evacuating or received conflicting information about whether or not to leave their homes. Libya is currently ruled by rival governments, which has complicated the matter further. Research the government of Libya. Then, write a short article that explains how the rival governments could be a cause for further problems in the wake of the developing humanitarian crisis there.

5. ON STRIKE

Nearly 13,000 members of the United Auto Workers union went on strike Friday from plants in Ohio, Michigan, and Missouri after the union was unable to reach an agreement with Detroit’s Big Three automakers—Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, which owns Chrysler, Jeep, and Ram. The autoworkers are seeking pay raises of up to 40 percent, which the union says correspond to increases in top executives’ compensation. The companies say the raises would affect their investments in electric vehicles. Read more about the UAW strike in your newspaper or online. Then, write an article about how the strike would affect the US in terms of car shortages and/or the economy.

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