1. Trump Makes History
Only three presidents have been impeached in the history of the United States, and the case against President Trump ended with the same outcome as the two previous cases. The U.S. Senate acquitted Trump of both charges voted against him by the U.S. House, just as the Senate had done in the impeachment cases against Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1999. Trump, however, will have a unique place in the nation’s impeachment history. He is the first president who will face voters after being impeached and acquitted. Neither Johnson nor Clinton was running for re-election after impeachment, but Trump is. And he already is using the impeachment proceedings to portray himself as a victim of a partisan effort by Democrats. Whether voters accept that argument remains to be seen, but it will make the 2020 presidential race unique in U.S. history. President Trump is already campaigning for re-election. In the newspaper or online find and closely read stories about messages and themes he is using to convince voters to give him another four-year term. Use what you read to write a political column analyzing how you think voters will respond to his message. Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
2. On to New Hampshire
The New Hampshire primary election takes place this week, giving voters their first opportunity to choose candidates at the ballot box. Tuesday’s election is the second event in the primary process following last week’s Iowa caucuses. Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders ran neck and neck at the top of the field in Iowa and will be getting close attention in New Hampshire. Also getting close scrutiny will be U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who comes from neighboring Massachusetts, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who finished a disappointing fourth in Iowa. The nation’s Democrats have not yet settled on a candidate to take on President Trump in the 2020 presidential election, but their views will become a lot clear after voting in the next four weeks. The New Hampshire primary will be followed by elections in South Carolina on February 29 and in 14 states on March 3, including California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about how important the New Hampshire primary was to each of the Democratic candidates compared to the “Super Tuesday” voting of March 3. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor, analyzing which candidate benefited most from the voting in New Hampshire going into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.
Common Core State Standards: Writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
3. Facial Recognition
Facial recognition technology is one of the fastest growing fields of artificial intelligence. It can identify people based on the shape and contours of their face and store that information in massive databases. Facial recognition technology already is used on social media sites like Facebook and in business security systems. And it is increasingly being used in law enforcement. In the European city of London, England, the metropolitan police have announced a plan to use facial recognition cameras to police the city and identify potential suspects in crimes. The cameras will be set up in areas identified by police as places frequented by people responsible for serious or violent crimes. The decision to implement the plan was made despite an investigation by England’s Information Commissioner's Office that raised serious concerns over privacy and the accuracy of the technology. The investigation especially questioned the technology’s effectiveness identifying women and people of color. “This decision represents an enormous expansion of the surveillance state,” one opponent noted. Facial recognition technology can provide useful information for law enforcement, but it has also raised concerns about privacy, civil liberties and individual rights. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement — and concerns it has raised. Use what you read to brainstorm an idea for a short documentary film detailing the benefits and liabilities of the use of the technology by law enforcement agencies.
Common Core State Standards: Writing narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
4. Climate and Construction
Climate change is having an effect on coastal areas all over the world. Rising sea levels, hurricanes and severe storms have caused millions of dollars in damage in shore towns, and experts expect things to get worse rather than better. In the state of New Jersey, which has a long coastline of beaches and resorts, damage was extensive from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and flooding has become routine in lesser storms. Now the state is taking action to reduce future damage. An executive order signed by Governor Phil Murphy will require that rising sea levels and other effects of climate change be considered before permits can be issued for buildings, highways, bridges and other infrastructure. “After Superstorm Sandy, we have to think smarter and more strategically about where we’re going to build,” a spokesman for the New Jersey Chamber of commerce told CNN News. “The devil’s in the details.” The effects of climate change are forcing communities and government agencies to consider changes in their policies and operations. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about such changes. Use what you read to write a short editorial assessing changes that you think would be the most effective.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. Honor for Firefighters
Wildfires scorching the bush regions of Australia have caused death, destruction and heartbreak across the southern Pacific nation. Both people and wildlife have been hard hit, and this month Australians tied the two together by naming three rescued koala bears for American firefighters who died after volunteering to fight the bush fires. The snowy mountain koalas were named for 44-year-old Capt. Ian McBeth of Great Falls, Montana; First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson, 42, of Buckeye, Arizona; and 43-year-old Flight Engineer Rick DeMorgan Jr., Navarre, Florida. The three men died in the crash of an air tanker plane while dumping water on the fires. Communities often honor firefighters, police and other emergency personnel for their actions or bravery. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about an officer or emergency worker who has done something worthy of recognition. Write a proposal to honor this person, telling why the honor is deserved, what form it would take and how the community could be involved in giving this recognition.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task.