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For Grades 9-12 , week of Apr 29, 2024

1. PUBLISHER’S TESTIMONY

Recently, at former President Donald Trump’s first criminal trial in New York, New York Enquirer David Pecker testified about his handling of damaging stories about the then-president elect. Pecker shared that he had a role in the “catch-and-kill scheme,” where he bought the rights to stories without intention to publish them, thus suppressing the stories from reaching the American public. The publisher acknowledged camouflaging what would have amounted to an illegal campaign donation to Trump and the motive for the scheme, which was helping the former president win the 2016 election by hiding potentially damaging stories. Read more about Pecker’s testimony in your newspaper or online. Then, write an article that summarizes how his testimony affects the trial of the former president.

2. NICOTINE PRODUCT RISKS

Nicotine pouches called Zyn have become the source of increasing debate among pro- and anti-nicotine and tobacco groups. Zyn is a pouch that users stick between their lip and gums, similar to chewing tobacco, where it slowly releases nicotine. However, because it doesn’t contain tobacco, there’s no spitting out the product and it doesn’t carry the same risks of cancer and gum disease. These products can be useful for smokers who want to quit but are still addicted to nicotine. However, researchers have recently conducted studies that show Zyn and similar nicotine products still contain other harmful chemicals. The main concern with Zyn and other products like it is whether it’s encouraging young people who wouldn’t otherwise smoke to start using nicotine products. Using research, write a campaign that encourages young people to stay away from products like Zyn and warns them of the dangers.

3. WEALTH GAP

New research shows the wealth gap between white families and Black or Hispanic ones is at a record high of about $1 million in household wealth. A new report by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan group that focuses on economic and social policy research, found that median wealth for white families in 2022 was $284,000, compared with $62,000 for Hispanic families and $44,000 for Black families. The average for white families the same year was $1.3 million, a record high, compared with $227,000 for Hispanic families and $211,000 for Black families. What does median and average household wealth actually tell us? What are some of the ways that our society and social issues impact household wealth? What explanations can you think of for why there’s such a large disparity? Write down your thoughts, then read more about the data covered in the report. Write a paragraph that compares your initial thoughts with the observations and explanations offered in the report.

4. NONCOMPETES BANNED

Employees are often made to sign noncompete agreements in order to start work at a new company, which can make it difficult for them to switch jobs within the same industry later on. However, the Federal Trade Commission created new nationwide ban on new noncompete agreements for employees below senior executives and determined that existing non-competes are not enforceable. The agency found that noncompetes are harmful to workers because it keeps them from taking other jobs or starting their own businesses. The US Chamber of Commerce, a trade group that advocates for US businesses and corporations, said it would sue to block the new rule, saying it would be harmful to businesses. Using research, consider what a noncompete clause does for an employee and an employer. Then, write an opinion article that explains whether you think the new ban on noncompetes is a good or bad thing for the US and why.

5. GRADUATION CANCELLATION

The University of Southern California announced last week that it will not be holding its main graduation ceremony for students following increasing campus protests over the Israel-Hamas war. The university said that the graduation would not take place because of the increased safety measures that would be needed at the event. More than 90 people were arrested earlier in the week for pro-Palestinian protests at the university. The graduation ceremonies were already entrenched in controversy after the valedictorian, Asna Tabassum, was announced. Several Jewish organizations complained that the Muslim student had posted a link to a controversial pro-Palestinian organization on social media; USC told Tabassum that she would not be delivering the valedictorian speech as a result. Using research online or from your newspaper, write an article that summarizes the recent increase in campus protests for the Israel-Hamas war and how some of the schools involved have responded.

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