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For Grades 9-12 , week of Oct. 16, 2023

1. MOURNING OF WAR

Hundreds of people gathered at a service in Manhattan to mourn the deaths in Israel and Gaza following the outbreak of war between the Israeli government and militant group Hamas last week. New York is home to the largest population of Jewish people in the world outside of Israel. Attendees recited the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, in honor of the lives already claimed by the war. On Wednesday, President Biden met with a group of American Jewish leaders to mourn “the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust” while simultaneously holding out hope that the administration could bring home the Americans held as hostage by Hamas. At least 22 American citizens are among those who have died in conflict so far. Look up at least three trusted news sources to read their accounts of what’s happening in Israel and Palestine. Then, write down the similarities and differences you notice between the reports.

2. HONORING THE ECLIPSE

While many people ventured out this weekend to see the solar eclipse as it moved across the Americas, some Indigenous tribes consider the celestial event an important event for honoring tradition. The Navajo Nation, which has the largest reservation in the United States, considers solar eclipses a sacred event in which tribe members are not supposed to look at the eclipse, eat, drink, sleep, or engage in physical activity. Instead, they should reflect or pray in solemn acknowledgement of the alignment between the sun and moon. The blocking of the sun is considered a rebirth, or a time when the sun and moon are embracing one another. Some also consider it a death of the sun, which is considered a father figure in the culture, and activity stops out in that moment of respect. Research other indigenous tribes’ traditions and folklore surrounding the sun, moon, and events like a solar eclipse. Then, write an article summarizing those beliefs and cultural practices. Indicate who you would talk to for firsthand knowledge and what questions you would ask if you were writing the article for publication.

3. ANTARCTIC ISSUES

Considered one of the most, if not the most, remote destinations in the world, Antarctica has generally been safe from the effects of industrialization and urban sprawl that have negatively impacted other natural environments in the world. However, the demand for krill, tiny marine crustaceans that make up the majority of whales’ diets, may be devastating for the remote destination. Krill fishing is banned in the United States because of concerns for the animals that feed on the paperclip-sized creatures, it’s been common off the coasts of Antarctica since the 1960s; the krill are canned like sardines and used as a protein-rich dietary supplement for everything from feeding farm-raised fish and making pet food to creating omega-3 pills. Scientists have warned that an increase in fishing around Antarctica could be devastating for species that call the region home. Read more about the issue, then write an article summarizing what you learned and what the effects could be if fishing in the region continues unchecked.

4. A REPRESENTATIVE IN TROUBLE

New York Republicans who previously stood by Rep. George Santos have now said they would vote to remove him from office after new charges have been filed against him. House Democrats had previously moved to expel Santos when he was first investigated and charged with crimes related to his campaign, but Republicans had blocked the measure at the time. Now the group of six House Republicans have announced that they will bring a new motion to expel him, a move that requires two-thirds of the House to agree, after he was charged with ten additionally felony counts. His campaign treasurer pleaded guilty last week to conspiring with Santos to report false donations, and he was charged with false statements to the Federal Election Commission, falsifying records, and aggravated identity theft, among other offenses. Write an opinion article detailing whether you think Rep. Santos should be removed from his position.

5. A HOUSE DIVIDED

More than a week after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was removed from his position, House Republicans have yet to elect a replacement. Rep. Steve Scalise, the House majority leader, was nominated in a secret ballot vote on Wednesday, narrowly defeating Rep. Jim Jordan by a vote of 113 to 99, but he withdrew his bid for the position the next day after it was clear he wouldn’t have the votes needed to be confirmed into the role. To become the next speaker, a candidate needs 217 of the 221 House Republicans to vote in favor, a high threshold for the divided party. Using your newspaper or online, read up on the latest news on the House Speaker nominations and votes. Then, write an article summarizing what’s led to this point and what the latest developments are.