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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Mar. 25, 2024

1. IRELAND LOSES ITS PRIME MINISTER

Less than two years after taking office and making history doing so, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced that he will step down from the role as soon as his party chooses a successor. Varadkar was the. Youngest person elected to prime minister in Ireland when serving in the role from 2017 to 2020 and 2022 until now. He was also Ireland’s first biracial prime minister—his father is Indian and his mother is Irish—and the first openly gay person to hold the role. While he successfully campaigned to legalize same-sex marriage and abortion in the Roman Catholic country, his latest political blow was a failed referendum that would have amended the Irish Constitution to remove sexist language that says a woman’s role is in the home and includes a narrow definition of family. Research Ireland’s political parties and how Varadkar will be replaced. Then, write an article that summarizes Varadkar’s legacy in the role and what will happen next for Ireland.

2. FUNDING BILL FINALLY PASSED

The Senate narrowly avoided another government shutdown, passing a $1.2 trillion spending package that has been a topic of conversation for more than six months in Congress. The Senate had to pass the bill after the House had approved it and left for a two-week recess, which meant it couldn’t be amended without incurring a two-week delay before the lower chamber could vote on it. The measure passed the House 286-134, narrowly achieving the two-thirds majority required, and the Senate approved it with a 74-24 vote shortly before midnight on Friday. Republicans in the House were split, with 101 voting for and 112 against the bill, while 185 Democrats were for and 22 against. It’s in line with the agreement former Speaker McCarthy worked out with President Biden last year, which restricts spending for two years. Research the history of this spending bill, including why it was passed six months late and how it led to McCarthy’s ouster as House speaker. Then, write an article summarizing the lengthy battle to pass the spending bill and highlights of what the new bill includes.

3. NEWS FROM THE ROYAL FAMILY

After she became the subject of widespread internet conspiracy theories, Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, announced the reason for her disappearance from the public eye. Following an abdominal surgery in January, Kate was uncharacteristically absent from public events. Then, she released a photo for Mother’s Day that was digitally altered, leading to further speculation about her whereabouts. Last week, she recorded a video that was released by the royal family, explaining that she was diagnosed with cancer following her surgery and is undergoing treatment. It is the second such announcement in just two months; King Charles III said last month that he is being treated for an unspecified type of cancer as well. Kate’s husband, Prince William, is next in line to inherit the throne in Great Britain’s monarchy. The royal family lives very much in the public eye; what right to privacy do you think they have or should have when going through events like health problems? Research the complicated relationship between the royal family and the UK media—examples range from Princess Diana’s tragic death to the recent departure of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan Markle. Then, write an opinion article that summarizes what you’ve learned and how you think the media should handle Princess Kate and King Charles III’s diagnoses.

4. REAL ESTATE SHAKE-UP

Buying a house is a tricky process to navigate, but it’s made easier with the help of real estate agents. In return for representing a seller or buyer, the agents split the commission from the sale, which is between 5 and 6 percent of the home’s sale price. Now, that industry standard could be changing, thanks to a lawsuit brought by homeowners in Missouri. They said that the National Association of Realtors, who regulate the way US homes are sold and how agents are licensed, have artificially inflated the commissions standard. While it isn’t a minimum or a requirement, it’s become so common in the United States that it’s made it so people who want to negotiate lower rates are less likely to be able to sell their homes, because buyers’ agents are less likely to show homes they’ll make less money on. The lawsuit also says the fees aren’t transparent enough, with the five home sellers in the lawsuit saying they didn’t know they were expected to pay the buyer’s agent’s commission. The new rule changes that have been proposed as a result of the lawsuit include separating commission, so it’s paid out by the buyer and seller separately, and making commission more transparent for both buyers’ and sellers‘ agents.

5. A NEW FUNDRAISING AGREEMENT

As former President Donald Trump’s legal battles continue, he’s made a deal with the Republican National Committee to help pay his lawyers’ fees. A share of the donations to the RNC will be routed to a political action committee, or PAC, that is paying Trump’s legal bills. The deal was discovered in the fine print of an invite to a donor event in Palm Beach, Florida, next month, where some top donors were asked for donations in excess of $800,000 per person to attend the event. According to the invitation, the first $6,600 will go to Trump’s 2024 presidential election campaign. The next $5,000–the federal maximum for an individual donation—will go to his Save America PAC that pays his legal bills. The RNC will receive the next $413,000, then state parties will receive the rest. The Save America PAC has averaged $5 million a month in payments for Trump’s various legal cases. Research the role of political action committees in American politics and the rules that govern how they run and how donations are to be handled. Then, write an article summarizing that information and how it pertains to this new information about Trump’s PAC and the RNC.