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for Grades 9-12

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For Grades 9-12 , week of Nov. 20, 2023

1. DIPLOMATIC DISCUSSION

President Biden and President Xi Jinping of China met last week for the first time in a year. The two were firm in their positions but did their best to assure the world that there is enough room for both global superpowers. Following the meeting, Biden spoke to executives at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Fransisco, saying that the US would continue to focus on diplomacy with China, including on military-to-military communication and on regulating the production of compounds used to make fentanyl, which has contributed in large part to the US’s opioid epidemic. Read more in your newspaper or online about the meeting between Biden and President Xi and what came from it. Then, write an article summarizing your findings.

2. COMMUNICATION BLACKOUT

Because of a lack of fuel, internet and telephone services in the besieged territory of Gaza have collapsed, leaving the 2.3 million people still in the area cut off from the outside world. The Israeli military has indicated that the fight against Hamas could move south, which is where most of the Gaza civilians have fled. In addition to the lack of fuel for communication services, the United Nations has warned about the possibility of starvation for those still in the area. Another cause for global concern is Shifa Hospital, which holds 650 wounded patients and 5,000 displaced people, according to its director. The same fuel that the communications services rely on also power the hospital and its crucial equipment like dialysis machines and incubators for premature babies; the hospital has not had electricity for at least a week. Write an article that summarizes some of the most imminent threats to civilians in Gaza, both from the military and humanitarian perspectives.

3. X IN TROUBLE

Advertisers are pulling from X (formerly known as Twitter) after owner Elon Musk endorsed an antisemitic post that accused Jewish communities of pushing hatred against white people, calling it “the actual truth.” Musk has been under fire for months, with accusations that he tolerates and even endorses antisemitic comment on X. Following his amplification of the post in question, advertisers pulled their content from the site and others questioned X on why their ads appeared alongside white nationalist, antisemitic, and Nazi content, after an article from Media Matters for America—a leftist advocacy group—called out several examples. Imagine you were part of a company responsible for advertising on X. How would you react to Musk’s post and having your content on the platform? Write a letter to the company that addresses how you feel about the situation and what you would expect them to do.

4. SHUTDOWN AVERTED, AGAIN

House Speaker Mike Johnson cleared his first significant hurdle in the new role, pushing through a stopgap bill that would avert a government shutdown until after the new year. Johnson won the position as a relatively unknown Republican hardliner, one that opposed the previous spending bill some six weeks ago. Now, he was responsible for gathering bipartisan support for an almost identical bill this week, despite objections from the same group of Republicans he previously counted himself among. Johnson said he wasn’t willing to risk a shutdown the week of Thanksgiving only three weeks into the new position. President Biden signed the bill shortly after to enact the temporary measure that will last until early 2024. While they’re been a lot of talk about the temporary measures to avoid a shutdown, what is the more permanent solution that Congress will look at in the new year? Research the spending measures that have kept Congress from passing a budget thus far and write a short summary about the issues facing them.

5. A DEADLOCKED JURY

The trial of former police detective Brett Hankison ended with a deadlocked jury last week, causing the judge to declare a mistrial. The case centers on a raid of Beronna Taylor’s apartment in 2020 that led to her death when two other officers shot her. Hankison fired ten bullets in the apartment, some of which entered a neighboring unit, but none of his gunfire hit anyone. A jury last year found Hankison not guilty on state charges of endangering the lives of Taylor’s neighbors during the raid; the Justice Department then announced federal civil rights charges on behalf of Taylor and the neighboring family. The Justice Department has not announced whether they will retry the case against Hankison. Write an article that summarizes the events of the raid and the subsequent court cases for Hankison and the two other officers.