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CURRENT EVENTS RESEARCH TOPICS
HEALTH: Obamacare Problems
TOPIC: The government website set up for people to sign up for insurance mandated by Affordable Care Act has been having severe problems. What has been the nature of the site’s glitches and what have the administration and the web designers said about the problem? Why have thousands of people found their health care plans canceled and why was this a surprise to them?
SEARCH TERMS: (Obamacare OR affordable health care) AND (website OR cancel*)
Civics, Government and Politics: NSA Spying on Foreign Leaders
TOPIC: Foreign leaders who have traditionally been friendly with the United States have complained recently because the National Security Agency has been spying on their private communications. What leaders have complained and how was it discovered that they had been spied on? How has this impacted U.S. relations with those countries? What have been the reactions of the Obama administration and the NSA to these charges and how has this affected relations between the agency and the administration?
SEARCH TERMS: (NSA OR N.S.A. OR National Security Agency)
ENVIRONMENT: Australian Wildfires
TOPIC: Australia is suffering from devastating wildfires. Its prime minister, Tony Abbott, has confidently declared that they are not the result of global warming. What caused the fires? How large have they grown and how damaging are they? Is the prime minister correct, or could global warming have contributed to them in any way.
SEARCH TERMS: Australia AND fires
HISTORY: Kennedy Assassination
TOPIC: It has been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. What is the official record of the assassination, what are some of the most popular theories about it, which seem the most plausible to you and why? What were some of the key achievements of the Kennedy Administration?
SEARCH TERMS: Kennedy AND assassination
SOCIAL STUDIES RESEARCH TOPICS
BUSINESS: Twitter Stock Launch
TOPIC: The popular social networking service Twitter has announced it will be filing for an initial public offering. How much does it expect to raise when it opens on the stock market and why? How does Twitter make its money?
SEARCH TERMS: Twitter AND (initial public offering OR IPO)
BUSINESS: NSA Impact on Tech Businesses
TOPIC: NSA spying revelations have threatened a proposed U.S. and EU free trade agreement and may lead to the suspension of a Safe Harbor agreement that allows US tech firms to operate in Europe. At issue is the privacy of EU citizens, which is protected by stronger laws than those of the U.S. What does the Safe Harbor agreement allow? How do firms qualify for it? How would its suspension impact U.S. firms? What jeopardizes the negotiations for a free trade agreement?
SEARCH TERMS: EU AND free trade OR Safe Harbor
BUSINESS: Bankruptcy in Brazil
TOPIC: OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes SA, a Brazilian offshore oil company, has filed for bankruptcy, seeking time to restructure. Eike Batista, its owner, has reportedly lost most of his personal fortune as well. How did Batista get his start in business? What sort of lifestyle did he enjoy? Does this bankruptcy say anything about the economy in Brazil, or is it more about Batista’s business sense?
SEARCH TERMS: OGX Petroleo e Gas Participacoes SA OR Eike Batista
Civics, Government and Politics: Chemical Weapons
TOPIC: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)has announced that it has completed the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stocks. It also won the Nobel Peace Prize this month. What is this organization, where is it based, how is it funded and who is its leader? How are chemical weapons destroyed? How confident can one be that Syria has revealed all its weapons stockpiles to the OPCW?
SEARCH TERMS: Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons AND Syria
CRIME AND LAW: New Execution Drug
TOPIC: Ohio is going to use a new drug combination for its lethal injection in the execution of Ronald Philips. What are the two drugs being combined in this new injection. What concerns may there be about them? What other states have been investigating new drugs for this purpose and why?
SEARCH TERMS: Ohio AND Ronald Philips AND injection
CRIME AND LAW: Baby Maria
TOPIC: A blonde child seen living with Roma in Greece was taken from her parents. DNA tests showed they were not related, though further testing showed she was the child of a Roma woman from Bulgaria. This story was big news as it fulfilled many fears, if stereotypical ones, of parents in Europe. What were those fears? How did the couple come by the child? What are the main stereotypes of Roma in Europe and how valid are they?
SEARCH TERMS: Roma AND Maria
ECONOMICS: Currency Center
TOPIC: Under the terms of an agreement signed by China and Great Britain, London firms will be able to trade investments denominated by the Chinese currency the Yuan. They will be able to invest Yuan directly in China, as well. London follows Hong Kong as a center for this currency. How important is this for London to remain a financial center? What does this signal about the Chinese involvement in world financial markets?
SEARCH TERMS: China AND Great Britain AND Yuan OR currency)
ECONOMICS: Nobel Prize in Economics
TOPIC: Three Americans, Eugene Fama, Lars Hansen and Robert Shiller, have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for their empirical analysis of asset prices. What are asset prices and what did their analysis reveal? What other contributions did each of these men make to economics?
SEARCH TERMS: economics AND Nobel Prize
EDUCATION: State Education Standards
TOPIC: A study has been done showing how students in the United States would rank in comparison to students from other nations on the international exam Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS). What was done to show how the students would rank? How did each state fare, and what countries did each state come closest to?
SEARCH TERMS: (Trends in International Math and Science Study OR TIMSS) AND (U.S. OR United States)
TOPIC: A study of attendees at Oxford and Cambridge since the Middle Ages conducted by the London School of Economics shows that certain families with Norman names have persisted as students at them down through the years. What does this study show about the nature of British society? What, if anything, does it say about the British educational system?
SEARCH TERMS: (Oxford OR Cambridge) and surnames
HISTORY: Vietnamese General
TOPIC: Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap was a Vietnamese General. He was famous for defeating, first, the French Army, and then the U.S. Army. Where, if anywhere, did he get his military training? How did he defeat the French at the battle of Dien Bien Phu? What lessons did he learn in this battle that he used against the U.S. forces? What role did he have in government after the end of hostilities?
SEARCH TERMS: Vo Nguyen Giap AND Vietnam
SOCIAL ISSUES: Texas Abortion Regulations
TOPIC: A federal appeals court has reinstated most of the abortion restrictions that a federal ruling had declared unconstitutional three days earlier. What restrictions were in the law that these two rulings addressed? What other states have laws similar to Texas and how may these rulings impact them?
SEARCH TERMS: Texas AND abortion AND law
SOCIAL ISSUES: Renewal of Traversal
TOPIC: Spanish shepherds paraded a flock of sheep through Madrid, in their annual renewal of traversal of the land by flocks that has been happening since 1273. This transhumance, as it is known, means Spanish livestock travel lengthy paths from one grazing area to another. How many miles of these paths crisscross the country? Does any other country have a similar ritual?
SEARCH TERMS: transhumance AND Spain
SCIENCE AND HEALTH RESEARCH TOPICS
ENVIRONMENT: California Water Levels
TOPIC: Many reservoirs around the state of California are dangerously low and groundwater levels are low too. What is causing these low water levels and what is being done to manage the problem? What are some common practices that use a high volume of water?
SEARCH TERMS: California AND water AND low
HEALTH: Teen Pregnancy in the Third World
TOPIC: The U.N. has released a study on the number of teen births in developing countries. Girls under the age of 18 gave birth to millions of babies during the course of the studies. Why are rates of teen pregnancy dropping in developed countries? What are the health and social issues that confront teenage mothers?
SEARCH TERMS: teen pregnancy AND U.N.
HEALTH: Cataract Treatment
TOPIC: Nepalese surgeon Sandut Ruit has taught Myanmar doctors a new technique for treating cataracts that does not require stitches. He also led teams at two camps that performed 1300 surgeries on this condition. Why does Myanmar have so many cataract patients? How do their doctors hope to use this new technique?
SEARCH TERMS: Myanmar AND cataracts AND Sandut Ruit
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
TOPIC: The Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to James E. Rothman, Randy W. Schekman, and Thomas C. Sudhof for their discoveries involving the regulation of vesicle traffic. What is vesicle traffic and what is it that these men discovered? What are some possible impacts of this discovery?
SEARCH TERMS: Nobel Prize AND vesicle
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Physics Nobel Prize
TOPIC: This year’s Nobel Prize for Physics was shared by Belgian Francois Englert and Briton Peter Higgs for their independent theoretical work on what happened after the Big Bang. The building blocks of the universe had to somehow materialize, gain mass and create everything. A major piece of this was the so called God particle or the Higgs boson. Last year it was announced that a Higgs boson had been discovered at CERN. What are other elements of their theory? Where does their theory fit into the Standard Model of particle physics?
SEARCH TERMS: Peter Higgs AND Francois Englert AND Nobel Prize
SPORTS RESEARCH TOPICS
SPORTS: Red Sox Win World Series
TOPIC: The Boston Red Sox have beaten the Saint Louis Cardinals to win the 2013 World Series. When was the last time they won the World Series on their home field, Fenway Park? Who were the key players and the key plays in the game? What was it about last season that makes this win so impressive for the Red Sox?
SEARCH TERMS: World Series AND Red Sox AND Cardinals
TOPIC: Sebastian Vettel has won his fourth straight Formula One driver’s title and his Red Bull team has won the constructor’s championship as well. How many races did he win this season? How many more races are there to go? Where does he rank among the top drivers in the sport of all time? How do the fans feel about him?
SEARCH TERMS: Sebastian Vettel
TOPIC: Teen golfer Lydia Ko, from New Zealand, has turned professional in a low key manner, announcing it on Twitter. She is the youngest person to win a tournament on the LPGA. How old is Ko and what are the age limits on the professional tour? What are her other accomplishments?
SPORTS: French Soccer Clubs Boycott
TOPIC: French soccer clubs have decided to stage a boycott of their matches for one weekend in late November to protest a new tax on them (and other employers of highly compensated workers) by the government of Francois Hollande, claiming that the majority of clubs are already overtaxed. What is this tax and how popular overall is it? What impact does the financial situation of most clubs have on their ability to retain top players?
SEARCH TERMS: France AND soccer AND taxes
TOPIC: The National Basketball Association’s 2013-2014 season has just started. What teams look the strongest this season and why? What are some of the major changes in teams since last year? Who are some of the most promising new players?
SEARCH TERMS: NBA AND season
SPORTS: New York City Marathon
TOPIC: Kenyans Geoffrey Mutai and Priscah Jeptoo were the respective winners of the men’s and women’s divisions of the first New York City Marathon after Hurricane Sandy cancelled the event in 2012. What extra security measures were in place this year after the terror attack on the Boston Marathon? What are some of the other key running accomplishments of the two winners? What Bronx resident came in second after holding the lead for a substantial part of the race, repeating her 2011 placement?
SEARCH TERMS: New York City Marathon
TOPIC: Racehorse Mucho Macho Man barely beat Will Take Charge in Santa Anita Park, in Arcadia California to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic thoroughbred horse race in a photo finish. How many horse races take place over the two day event and what is the significance of each race? How does the selection process for this Cup work?
SEARCH TERMS: Breeders’ Cup
SPORTS: IndyCar Champ Franchitti Injured
TOPIC: Multiple champion of the IndyCar Series, Dario Franchitti suffered serious injuries when his car crashed in the Houston Grand Prix. What are the nature of his injuries and what are the expectations for recovery? How many IndyCar Series championships has he won and what are his greatest strengths as a driver?
SEARCH TERMS: Dario Franchitti
ARTS AND LITERATURE RESEARCH TOPICS
FILM AND TELEVISION: Gravity
TOPIC: A new film by Alfonso Cuaron about astronauts surviving a disaster in space called Gravity is getting positive reviews from both the public and critics. What is the film about? Where is the movie scientifically inaccurate and what would be different if the science was corrected?
SEARCH TERMS: Gravity AND Alfonso Cuaron
FILM AND TELEVISION: Director Carlo Lizzani
TOPIC: Carlo Lizzani was an Italian film director. His career began in the neorealist days after World War II and he was also an actor and a screenwriter. For four terms he was the direct of the Venice Film Festival. What films did he direct? What directors did he work with? What actors did he direct? Which of his screenplays (co-written with Giuseppe De Santis) was nominated for an Academy Award?
SEARCH TERMS: Carlo Lizzani
FINE ARTS AND ARCHITECTURE: Portrait Sale
TOPIC: A watercolor portrait of Jane Austen, based on a sketch done of her by her sister, will be auctioned by Sotheby’s in December. The painting was commissioned by her nephew. How good is the likeness of this painting? What use will be made of an engraving of it?
SEARCH TERMS: Jane Austen AND watercolor OR auction
FINE ARTS AND ARCHITECTURE: Temporary Art
TOPIC: A Parisian apartment block that is due to be torn down was turned into an art work, with street artists from around the world being given individual apartment to turn into art installations. The art of Tour Paris 13, as it is named, will vanish as the building is demolished. Who are some of the artists involved and what types of installations did they create? How popular was the artwork as a whole and did these exhibitions attract crowds? Does this seem like the kind of event that will be repeated?
SEARCH TERMS: Tour Paris 13
FINE ARTS AND ARCHITECTURE: Banksy in New York City
TOPIC: Street artist Banksy has been working in the City. What artworks has he done there and what are the themes? How have art critics and the public reacted to his work?
SEARCH TERMS: Banksy AND New York
LITERATURE: Norman Mailer Biography
TOPIC: J. Michael Lennon, Professor of English at Wilkes University, has written a 900 page authorized biography of Norman Mailer called Norman Mailer: A Double Life. What are some other books on Norman Mailer that Lennon authored or c-authored? What are some revelations about Mailer in the new biography?
SEARCH TERMS: Norman Mailer AND Michael Lennon
TOPIC: Canadian author Alice Munro, known for her short stories, has won this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature. Why did the Nobel judges choose her? What did other Canadian writers say about her and her work? Does it sound interesting?
SEARCH TERMS: Alice Munro AND Nobel Prize
LITERATURE: Booker Winner
TOPIC: New Zealand author Eleanor Catton has won this year’s Booker Prize for Literature for her novel The Luminaries. She is the youngest author to win this award. What did other judges say about her and her work? What genre is it?
SEARCH TERMS: Eleanor Catton AND Booker Prize AND The Luminaries
PERFORMING ARTS: Arcade Fire
TOPIC: Arcade Fire, whose last record won a Grammy, have released a new double album Reflektor. It hints at the Haitian background of band member Regine Chassagne. How does it do this? How was it marketed? What do critics say about it?
SEARCH TERMS: Arcade Fire AND Reflektor
PERFORMING ARTS: New York City Opera
TOPIC: The New York City Opera has filed for bankruptcy. What plans had the company announced in May 2011 to try to contain costs? When Mayor LaGuardia founded the company in 1943, what was he hoping to achieve? Who are some of the major opera stars to come up through here? Who have been the directors over the years and what have been their legacies?
SEARCH TERMS: New York City Opera
PERFORMING ARTS: White Light Festival
TOPIC: The White Light Festival at New York City’s Lincoln Center is designed to showcase artistic experiences, often music, that are designed to help us understand ourselves and bring communities together. What are some of the acts that will be performing at this year’s Festival? What are some of the performances of the past and how have they worked toward its goals?
SEARCH TERMS: White Lights Festival
PEOPLE RESEARCH TOPICS
TOPIC: President Obama has nominated Janet Yellen to become the next Chair of the Federal Reserve. What positions has she held that qualify her for this nomination and how has she distinguished herself in them? What is her economic philosophy?
SEARCH TERMS: Janet Yellen
TOPIC: Lou Reed was a founding member and a leader of the influential rock band The Velvet Underground and went on to become a successful rock musician on his own, known for his deadpan tone and street smart poetic lyrics. What influence did he have on the early culture of punk rock in New York City? What are some of his most acclaimed songs and what qualities of those songs attracted praise?
SEARCH TERMS: Lou Reed AND Velvet Underground
TOPIC: Tom Foley was a long-serving U.S. Representative from the state of Washington, 57th Speaker of the House of Representatives and a U.S. Ambassador to Japan. What years did Tom Foley serve in these different positions and what were some of his major achievements? What was the conservative movement that was taking place the year Tom Foley lost his speakership of the House of Representatives?
PEOPLE: Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst
TOPIC: Following the news that Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst had authorized the spending of millions on a new official residence, the church has effectively exiled him from his diocese of Limburg. What was Teartz-van Elst’s explanation of the spending and the amount? Who will run his diocese will he is away? How does Pope Francis expect his bishops to live?
SEARCH TERMS: Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst
TOPIC: Heinrich Mueller, Gestapo leader who has not been seen since 1945, is claimed to have died then and to have been buried in a mass grave in a Jewish cemetery in Berlin. Who found this new information and how valid does it seem? What are some of the arguments against believing in it? Why is it horrifying that he may have been buried in a Jewish cemetery?
SEARCH TERMS: Heinrich Mueller
TOPIC: Scott Carpenter was an astronaut during the early years of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), serving on Project Mercury and the second man to orbit the earth. What was Project Mercury, who was involved and what evolved out of it? What are other projects Carpenter was involved with at NASA and what was the SEALAB project?
SEARCH TERMS: Scott Carpenter
TOPIC: Carol Burnett has been awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. What was her famous sketch comedy television program called and what were the qualities that made it popular with the public and critics? What comedic play launched her career and what are some other plays and films she starred in that were successful? What is the criteria to qualify for a Mark Twain Prize for American Humor?
SEARCH TERMS: Carol Burnett
TOPIC: Marcia Wallace was an actress and comedian, famous for her roles in situation comedies such as The Bob Newhart Show and The Simpsons. What are other situation comedies she played in and what are some of the defining elements of classic American situation comedies? What role did talk show host Merv Griffin play in helping establish her career?
SEARCH TERMS: Marcia Wallace