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For Grades 9-12 , week of Oct. 23, 2023

1. Biden foreign policy address

After a brief visit to Israel last week, President Biden announced an unprecedented aid package that would include assistance for Israel, Taiwan, Ukraine, and funds for the US-Mexico border. The visit itself was history-making—no US president has ever visited Israel in a time of war. The president was very careful to express his support of Israel while also clarifying that Hamas does not represent the innocent Palestinian people caught in the crossfire. Read or watch President Biden’s foreign policy address that he made following the trip. Then, write an article summarizing his remarks and how they do or do not resonate with you as an American. Which parts, if any, did you find moving or powerful? What do you think the point of the speech was? Do you think it was successful in reaching that goal?

2. GEORGIA CASE CONTINUES

Sidney Powell, a former member of Donald Trump’s legal team, pleaded guilty to six misdemeanors in the Georgia election fraud case the president is also indicted in. Powell was a close adviser to Trump following the 2020 election and previously shared outlandish conspiracy theories about ballot fraud when trying to subvert the election results in Georgia. She was originally indicted on seven felonies but following the plea deal, was sentenced to six years of probation for six counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with performance of election duties. Research the claims Powell originally made following the 2020 election. Then, write an article that summarizes her previous behavior and how it relates to the current charges against her.

3. SPEAKER STRUGGLES

As Republicans in the House of Representatives continue to struggle to elect a new speaker, interim speaker Patrick McHenry has threatened to resign from the position. The move comes as Republicans have begun to pressure him to try to move legislation on the House floor without a vote to expand his power as speaker pro tempore. If successful, the precedent would give future temporary speakers the power of the elected Speaker of the House, which could in turn mean that a new speaker wouldn‘t need to be elected in order for legislation to move forward. McHenry has questioned the constitutionality of such a move, while former Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been a proponent of the idea. Write an opinion article asserting whether you think the temporary speaker should be able to move legislation along to keep the House of Representatives running or whether that would defeat the purpose of electing a new Speaker of the House.

4. HOSTAGES FREED

The militant group, Hamas, that launched an attack on Israel on October 7 has released two American hostages. A mother and her 17-year-old daughter were among the 200 people held in Gaza for the past two weeks and were the first to be released into the hands of the Israeli military. The release was part of an agreement between Hamas and the government of Qatar. The pair were on a trip to Israel to celebrate a Jewish holiday from their home in a suburb of Chicago when they were captured in the initial attack. The daughter was able to speak with her father back home in the US and hoped to be home by her 18th birthday this week. Read about the latest developments in the war from at least two different sources. Then, write an article summarizing any differences you notice between the reporting from the different sources.

5. JOURNALIST HELD IN RUSSIA

A Russian-American journalist who works for a US government-funded media company has been detained in Russia on charges of failing to register as a “foreign agent” because of her employment. Alsu Kurmasheva is an editor for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is accused of collecting information on Russia’s military activities for foreign sources. She traveled to Russia for a family emergency from her home in Prague in June and was stopped at the airport for failing to register her US passport with Russian authorities. Her passports were confiscated, and she was waiting for them to be returned when the charge was filed against her last week. Read about the US’s response to Kurmasheva’s arrest online and write an article summarizing her case and the similarities and differences between it and that of reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested for alleged spying in May.

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