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For Grades 5-8 , week of Nov. 20, 2023

1. OUT OF SIGHT

An eyedrops company in India that recently had to recall its products sold in the US was discovered to have more than a dozen sanitation and manufacturing violations. The plant produces more than two dozen types of eyedrops that were sold at CVS, Rite Aid, Target, and more. FDA inspectors visited the plant and found workers walking barefoot in sterile areas, not wearing masks, gowns, or gloves. The FDA report also showed that officials at the factory would frequently omit or falsify results about contaminations in the products. Write a summary of what you would do if you were an executive at CVS, Target, or Rite Aid and discovered you were selling products from this plant.

2. POPE PROTESTS

Pope Francis is at odds with many conservative American Catholics and it was evident during a meeting of 250 American bishops last week. A small crowd gathered to protest the meeting in support of Bishop Joseph Strickland, who was fired by Pope Francis after he accused the pope of undermining the Catholic faith with his views. The pope has been seen as moving the church in a more progressive direction, prioritizing reaching out to LGBTQ Catholics and recently releasing new guidance that says transgender people can be baptized and serve as godparents. Research Bishop Strickland’s views and what he said against Pope Francis. Then, write a short summary of the conflict between the two and how Strickland came to be fired.

3. ORDER APPEALED

The gag order that temporarily kept former President Trump from commenting about court personnel involved in his New York civil fraud trial was lifted by an appeals court last week. Judge David Friedman received Trump’s appeal of the gag order and issued a stay, which temporarily suspends the gag order while the appeal is ongoing. The issue at hand is whether or not Trump’s First Amendment right to free speech was violated by the order. While the First Amendment guarantees that the government shall make no law that inhibits someone’s freedom of speech, there are exceptions and types of speech that are not protected under that law, including incitement to violence. The trial judge stated that the gag order was necessary to protect his staff’s safety, as the former president’s statements could incite violence against them. Write a short opinion article about whether you think measures like gag orders are necessary in some cases and should be allowed or if people should have the right to say anything they want at any time. Then, discuss your view with your classmates to learn different perspectives on the issue.

4. A RENEWED EXPULSION EFFORT

Representative George Santos has faced two expulsion efforts in his short tenure in Congress and maintained his House seat through both of them. However, he now faces a third after the bipartisan House Ethics Committee released a report that Santos violated House rules regarding campaign fraud. The Republican chairman of the committee, Michael Guest, introduced the third resolution to expel Santos, citing the evidence uncovered during the committee’s investigation. Santos is accused of spending tens of thousands of dollars on personal expenses like vacations and designer goods. He’s also been charged with 23 felonies by federal prosecutors in the past few months related to the same campaign misdeeds. Using research, create a timeline of Santos’ short time in Congress, including the ethics committee investigation against him, the federal crimes he was charged with, and the two previous expulsion attempts.

5. TIKTOK FACES TROUBLE

A flood of antisemitism on TikTok led Jewish celebrities like Sachs Baron Cohen, Debra Messing, and more to join a video call with TikTok executives to confront them about the harassment Jewish people are facing on the app. “What is happening on TikTok is it is creating the biggest antisemitic movement since the Nazis,” said Cohen on the call. They urged the app’s head of operations to take more action against the hate speech and anti-Jewish rhetoric. Antisemitic and Islamophobic speech have increased dramatically since the Israel-Hamas war began in October, with antisemitic speech jumping more than 919 percent on X in that time. While change must come from the app and its leadership, what are some things individual users and creators can do to limit hate speech and make sure all people feel welcome? Brainstorm your own ideas and share with your classmates.