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For Grades 5-8 , week of Nov. 06, 2023

1. UNDERGROUND THREAT

A key part of the war between Israel and Hamas is a network of tunnels underneath Gaza, including pathways, rooms, cells, and even roads wide enough for vehicles. There are miles of these tunnels under the Gaza Strip controlled by Hamas, and they may be the reason Israel delayed sending troops into Gaza after Hamas’ initial attack in early October. The militant group has spent years on the tunnel network and it’s one of the biggest challenges to Israel’s military as the war enters its second month. Read more about the tunnels in your newspaper or online. Then, write an article that summarizes how they have affected the war thus far.

2. MONEY FOR ISRAEL

The House of Representatives passed a bill last week that approves $14.3 billion in aid for Israel under new House Speaker Mike Johnson. Senate Democrats have said they will not vote on the bill because it does not include funding for Ukraine and it includes funding cuts to the IRS in order to offset the cost of the aid for Israel. There is bipartisan support in the Senate for continued aid for Ukraine, but Republicans in the house remain opposed. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has noted that cutting IRS funding to offset the cost of aid would actually cost the United States $26.8 billion in lost revenue in the next 10 years because the agency would be less able to conduct audits and complete other necessary duties. What happens to the bill now that it’s passed in the House? What happens if the Senate won’t vote on it? Use research to understand the process for a bill, then write a brief article that summarizes this story and explains what will happen next.

3. TRADEMARK LAWSUIT

The Supreme Court is currently overseeing the case of a California man who wants to trademark the phrase “Trump too small,” a reference to the former president’s hand size. Steve Elster sought the trademark for exclusive rights to use the phrase on merchandise but was denied. A federal appeals court agreed that his free speech rights were violated by the denial, but the Supreme Court is poised to reverse that decision. It hinges on the provision that a trademark that makes reference to a living person must have that person’s written consent, which Elster does not have. Elster can still make and sell merchandise with the phrase but does not have exclusive rights to it without the trademark. While the Supreme Court hasn’t officially decided yet, they indicated last week that they would not side with Elster in the case. Do you think the provision about using other people’s names in a trademark is fair? Do you think the rules should be different for a public figure? Write a paragraph about your thoughts.

4. RANGER VICTORY

Last week, the Texas Rangers got their first World Series win in the history of the franchise, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 5–0, winning their fourth game in the best-of-seven series. Previously, they set the record for the longest road winning streak in MLB postseason history with 11 straight wins away from home. The Rangers appeared in two other World Series matchups previously, losing in 2010 and 2011. Sports writing goes beyond reporting the score or even interesting highlights from a game. Look up a few examples of sports reporting in your newspaper or online and think about the word choice and the details the writer chooses to include. Write down your observations about what’s included and what makes it a more interesting read.

5. NEW A.I. RULES

President Biden issued a executive order last week that outlined the federal government’s first AI regulations. It’s the government’s first actions to check the sweeping innovations from artificial intelligence in the last few years. Among the new requirements, products that use advanced AI must be tested to ensure they cannot be used to produce biological or nuclear weapons. There are also several recommendations included, like marking images, video, and audio as being created by AI when applicable so viewers are made aware. How do you think the use of AI could be improved with regulations? Do you think regulations will stifle some of the innovations that could be made with AI technology? Write an opinion article that states and defends your point of view.