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NEWSBANK HOT TOPICS
CURRENT EVENTS RESEARCH TOPICS
PEOPLE: Bowe Bergdahl and Taliban Prisoner Trade
TOPIC: The Obama administration traded five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been in Taliban custody for the past five years. The former prisoners are going to Qatar. This is controversial because critics say it is negotiating with terrorists. The president defended it by citing the American tradition of not leaving anyone behind as our armed forces leave an area. What are the praises and criticisms of the trade, and do you agree or disagree with them?
SEARCH TERMS: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl AND Taliban
Civics, Government and Politics: Veteran Health Care
TOPIC: Congressional hearings have been held to investigate the long waiting periods, poor care and neglect within the Veterans Administration for the health care of war veterans. What misconduct by VA workers has been found? Who has resigned from his position and who else is being blamed for the problems at the VA?
SEARCH TERMS: (Veterans Administration OR VA) AND (investigation OR hearings)
Civics, Government and Politics: European Elections
TOPIC: Elections were held for the European Parliament in member countries of the European Union. Right-wing parties that ran against immigration and against aspects of the Union itself did surprisingly well. Why did they increase their share of the voters? Do these results help predict upcoming changes in the governments of the nations that voted?
SEARCH TERMS: European Parliament AND elections AND Country Name
SPORTS: World Cup Teams Announced
TOPIC: World Cup soccer teams are being named in the nations that have made it through to Brazil. The team groups were drawn earlier in the year. What surprises were there on the team you support? What other teams are in your group, and do you think your team will advance? If the answer to the last question is ‘No,’ which teams do you expect to advance and why?
SEARCH TERMS: World Cup AND team AND Country Name
SOCIAL STUDIES RESEARCH TOPICS
BUSINESS: McDonald’s Wages
TOPIC: Thousands of workers at McDonald’s fast food restaurants are protesting their wages and seeking the right to unionize without retribution. What is the current wage there, and what wage do the protesters seek? How profitable is McDonald’s? What are the arguments against higher wages and unionization? How are wages usually determined? What city has just raised its minimum wage and what has been the reaction locally and remotely to this change?
SEARCH TERMS: McDonald’s AND (wage OR union* OR protest*)
BUSINESS: Google’s Driverless Car
TOPIC: The Internet technology company Google is building a fleet of self driving cars. How do these cars work and how is Google building them? What have been the most compelling praise and criticism in regard to these cars?
SEARCH TERMS: Google AND (self-driving OR self driving OR driverless) AND cars
BUSINESS: France and Foreign Takeovers
TOPIC: France has changed the rules on when the government can intervene in foreign takeovers of French firms, as GE seeks to buy the energy assets of Alstom. How have the regulations changed? How intrusive is the French government in business? What is Alstom and why is the government intervening in this deal?
SEARCH TERMS: France AND Alstom AND GE
Civics, Government and Politics: New Prime Minister in India
TOPIC: Narendra Modi has been sworn in as India’s prime minister following his Bharatiya Janata Party’s massive defeat of the Congress Party at the polls earlier this spring. The ceremony was attended by the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. What caused their loss of power? What are the domestic policies of Modi and do they seem attainable? Why is it important that the leaders of neighboring countries attended?
SEARCH TERMS: India AND Narendra Modi
Civics, Government and Politics: Thailand in Turmoil
TOPIC: The political crisis in Thailand seems to have resolved itself; the armed forces have staged a coup that has been approved by the king. How did the crisis start? What role did the courts play in it? Who were the protesters and what were their complaints about the former government?
SEARCH TERMS: Thailand AND coup
Civics, Government and Politics: 2014 Primaries
TOPIC: Primary races are being run to determine party candidates for the 2014 Congressional midterm elections. What primary results are in, what patterns have been seen in the election results and what do they say about the public? Who are some of the most interesting candidates in the primaries and why?
SEARCH TERMS: (Congressional OR Congress) AND (primary OR primaries)
CRIME AND LAW: Death Penalty and Low IQ
TOPIC: The United States Supreme Court has ruled for greater protection to death row inmates who are intellectually unfit. What states were cited in the ruling as having laws that are too harsh and what was the reasoning behind the ruling? What are some cases in the past where the death penalty has been called into question because of the low intelligence of the inmate?
SEARCH TERMS: Supreme Court AND death row AND (IQ OR intellect*)
CRIME AND LAW: Vigilantes in Mexico
TOPIC: Mexico hopes to absorb vigilante groups into a new rural police force, making members of the group either direct members or reservists. It also helps to register their guns. Not all of the groups want to participate in this process. What led to the formation of these groups? How effective have they been? Why would some not want to participate in the new rural police? What does it say about Mexico that these groups exist?
SEARCH TERMS: Mexico AND vigilantes
ECONOMICS: Eurozone Economic Report
TOPIC: The Eurozone was expected to report its fourth straight quarter of economic growth in May. What are some of the positive economic signs In Europe? What may the European Central Bank do in response to this news?
SEARCH TERMS: Europe AND economic growth
ECONOMICS: Oil Well Regulation
TOPIC: A congressional investigation has found that the government has not properly inspected thousands of oil and gas wells that risk environmental damage. What spurred this investigation and what evidence was produced? What are examples of environmental risks posed by these poorly inspected or uninspected wells?
SEARCH TERMS: oil AND (inspection OR regulation) AND wells
EDUCATION: California Preschool
TOPIC: California has decided to scale back its ambitious plan to offer preschool for every child in the state. What was the original plan, how did they amend it and why? What other states have broad preschool offerings and how are they paid for and managed?
SEARCH TERMS: preschool AND California
EDUCATION: Return of Segregation
TOPIC: A report by the UCLA Project on Civil Rights shows that, due in part to courts whittling away at integration orders, there has been a gradual racial re-segregation in U.S. schools in the 60 years since Brown v. The Board of Education. What was the decision by Brown v. Board of Education, how was it enforced and what are some ways that it slowly became undone? What are some examples of how different racial groups are affected?
SEARCH TERMS: segregation AND report AND Project on Civil Rights
EDUCATION: New UK Education Standards
TOPIC: The United Kingdom’s Department for Education (DfE) has issued new regulations for the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) tests on literature. The government says they are trying to increase the percentage of British works studied. American literature, in particular, will be minimized. What are the new policies? What will they have to read under the new policy? Do these works sound interesting? What do critics of the policy change argue?
SEARCH TERMS: GCSE and American Literature
TOPIC: A shipwreck off the northern coast of Haiti is believed to be the Santa Maria, Columbus’s flagship from his 1492 expedition. The Santa Maria was the first European ship to be wrecked in the Caribbean. What is the evidence that this is the Santa Maria and how strong is it? What is the value of protecting this wreck and thoroughly studying it? Who found it and when?
SEARCH TERMS: Haiti AND Santa Maria
TOPIC: The 70th anniversary of D-Day, and the 25th anniversaries of the crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protesters, and the Polish elections that brought Solidarity to power all occur this June. Is there some overarching theme among these events? How are they being officially remembered, if they are? If they are not being remembered, why are the anniversaries not being acknowledged?
SEARCH TERMS: D-Day OR Tiananmen Square OR Solidarity
TOPIC: This Memorial Day remembered fallen soldiers on the anniversaries of the 20th century’s two world wars, World War I and World War II. How many people died in each world war and what were the reasons for each war? How did Memorial Day start and what are the traditional ceremonies that take place to honor fallen soldiers?
SEARCH TERMS: BASIC AND computer AND language
SOCIAL ISSUES: Child Migrants
TOPIC: There has been a sharp increase in children illegally crossing the border alone from Mexico into the United States. What has caused this phenomenon and what are some of the situations in which this has been seen? What efforts have been made to stop or slow this trend?
SEARCH TERMS: child* AND Mexic* AND border
SOCIAL ISSUES: Privacy Concerns
TOPIC: The Court of Justice of the European Union has told Google that privacy laws mean that Google will need to remove certain types of information about individuals, if requested. This includes information published in newspapers and posted on websites. What was the reason for this? What were Google’s arguments? How technically difficult will this ruling be to comply with?
SEARCH TERMS: Court of Justice of the European Union AND Google AND privacy
SOCIAL ISSUES: Arkansas Gay Marriage
TOPIC: The Arkansas Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by the state attorney general to halt same-sex marriage in the state. How did the state attorney general try to halt this and what was the legal basis of the rejection of this effort? What previous decision in Arkansas was the state attorney general’s action in response to?
SEARCH TERMS: Arkansas AND (gay OR same-sex) AND marriage
SCIENCE AND HEALTH RESEARCH TOPICS
ENVIRONMENT: Colorado Mudslide
TOPIC: A massive mudslide near rural Collbran, Colorado has damaged a large amount of property and several people are missing. What was the size of this mudslide and what caused it? What are some ways to protect a community that is vulnerable to a mudslide?
SEARCH TERMS: (Colorado OR Collbran) AND mudslide
ENVIRONMENT: Carbon Dioxide Limits
TOPIC: President Obama is proposing limits on carbon dioxide in an effort to reduce factors that contribute to global warming. What are the limits being proposed and how could they assist in curbing the rate in which the earth is warming? What kind of energy providers will be helped and which ones will be hurt by this proposal?
SEARCH TERMS: carbon dioxide AND Obama AND energy
ENVIRONMENT: Massive Flooding in the Balkans
TOPIC: Three months’ worth of rain fell in three days, causing immense floods throughout Bosnia and Serbia. Thousands had to be evacuated, and 43 people were known to have died. What was the impact of the flooding on landmines left over from the Balkan wars of the 1990s? Why did so much rain fall so quickly?
SEARCH TERMS: (Bosnia OR Serbia) AND floods
TOPIC: The United Nations has declared the recent spread of polio to be an international public health menace. It cited Syria, Pakistan and Cameroon for allowing the disease to be spread beyond its borders. Why has this disease flared up again? What were the efforts to eradicate it? What does the UN think those three countries should do to limit its spread? What other countries are seeing the disease rates spiking upward? What conditions hinder the efforts to vaccinate people?
SEARCH TERMS: (United Nations OR UN) AND polio
TOPIC: A USA Today study that looked at data from federal agencies and private firms has found that there is a rapidly growing problem of abuse and addiction to prescription drugs by senior citizens. What are some of the reasons for this sharp rise? What measures are being made to correct this problem?
SEARCH TERMS: senior citizens AND prescription AND (abuse OR addict*)
TOPIC: The volume of measles cases in the United States is now the highest it has been in 20 years according to the Centers for Disease Control. Why has the number of cases grown so much? What are measles and how are they treated?
SEARCH TERMS: measles AND (Center for Disease Control OR CDC)
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Decoding Marine Life
TOPIC: The University of Florida is trialing a shipboard laboratory to decode the genetic blueprints of unusual marine life. What kind of marine life are being studied and how does this laboratory work with support from the university? What are some of the most intriguing qualities of the marine life being studied?
SEARCH TERMS: Copasetic AND lab* AND University of Florida AND marine
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Colin Pillinger
TOPIC: Colin Pillinger was the British scientist that planned the Beagle 2 mission to Mars that ultimately failed. What other projects was he involved in? What was the failure of the Beagle 2 attributed to?
SEARCH TERMS: Colin Pillinger AND Beagle 2
SPORTS RESEARCH TOPICS
SPORTS: California Chrome
TOPIC: Californian Chrome has won the first two races of the Triple Crown and has only the mile-and-a-half Belmont Stakes to go in his attempt to win them all. How long has it been since there has been a Triple Crown winner? How many horses since then have won the first two races and lost at Belmont? What in his lineage looks good for his success?
SEARCH TERMS: Triple Crown AND California Chrome
TOPIC: The seasonal draft for the National Football League opened this year with the Houston Texans selecting defensive end Jadeveon Clowney from the University of South Carolina. When was the last time a defensive player was the first pick and why is it considered unusual? Who were some of the other top picks this year and what are the most impressive qualities of those players?
SEARCH TERMS: (National Football League OR NFL) AND draft
SPORTS: Ballmer Buys Clippers
TOPIC: Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has won approval to buy the NBA basketball team Los Angeles Clippers. What was the controversy that forced a sale and what qualified him to buy the team? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the team in terms of basketball and what make them an attractive?
SEARCH TERMS: Steve Ballmer AND Clippers
TOPIC: Sir Jack Brabham was an Australian race car driver that won the Formula One championship three times in 1959, 1960 and 1966. The last was for his own team and when he also won the constructor’s championship that year and in 1967. Who was he racing for when he won his first two titles? What was notable about the cars that won in ‘66 and ‘67? Is his 1966 double win likely to ever be repeated and if not, why not?
SEARCH TERMS: Jack Brabham
SPORTS: Brazil Prepares for the World Cup
TOPIC: The World Cup will begin in June in Brazil. How has the country progressed in readying the stadiums that will be used? Why has one part of the populace protested the tournament? Do you agree with their reasoning?
SEARCH TERMS: Brazil AND World Cup AND (stadiums or protests)
TOPIC: American racecar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay has won the Indianapolis 500. What impressive qualities does he bring to the race? Who was the winner of the pole position, who one Rookie of the Year and how are these wins measured? What are some factors of the Indianapolis 500 that make it an impressive race?
SEARCH TERMS: Indianapolis 500
ARTS AND LITERATURE RESEARCH TOPICS
FILM AND TELEVISION: Gordon Willis
TOPIC: Gordon Willis was a cinematographer known for his elegant visual scenery in films such as Woody Allan’s Manhattan and The Godfather. What are the qualities that his cinematography is praised for and what is his process of achieving them? What other films did he do the cinematography for?
SEARCH TERMS: Gordon Willis
FILM AND TELEVISION: Cannes Film Festival
TOPIC: What films premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this year? What actors attended the festival? Were any works particularly controversial? Who won the awards?
SEARCH TERMS: Cannes Film Festival
FINE ARTS AND ARCHITECTURE: The Caryatid Statues at the Acropolis
TOPIC: The Caryatid statues from the Acropolis in Athens are being cleaned in front of museum goers. They are viewing the operation on screens as lasers as being used to help remove the centuries of grime. How are the lasers being used in this case? What is the Acropolis and what function did the Caryatids perform?
SEARCH TERMS: Caryatids AND Acropolis
FINE ARTS AND ARCHITECTURE: 9/11 Museum
TOPIC: The National September 11 Memorial and Museum has opened to commemorate the September 11th terrorist attack on New York and Washington as well as the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. What are the key features of the museum and what specifically do they convey? What aspect of the museum has been controversial and why?
SEARCH TERMS: (9/11 OR September 11) AND museum
TOPIC: Maya Angelou was one of the most celebrated poets and writers in the United States. What are some of her most celebrated works and why? What were some of the social causes that she championed and what was her contribution to them?
SEARCH TERMS: Maya Angelou
TOPIC: British author Mary Stewart was best known for a trilogy of books about Merlin and King Arthur. What other types of books did she write? How successful was she? Do these works sound like books you would like to read?
SEARCH TERMS: Mary Stewart
PERFORMING ARTS: Rupert Loewenstein
TOPIC: Rupert Loewenstein was the long-time financial advisor of The Rolling Stones. How did this private banker become involved with the rock band? What did he do for them? Did he leave them significantly better off than he found them?
SEARCH TERMS: Rupert Loewenstein
PERFORMING ARTS: Billboard Music Awards
TOPIC: Justin Timberlake was the big winner at the Billboard Music Awards, winning 7 of his 11 nominations. What were some of the other highlights of the awards ceremony? How did the Billboard Music Awards show start and what defines the criteria for the voting?
SEARCH TERMS: Billboard Music Awards
PEOPLE RESEARCH TOPICS
TOPIC: Jill Abramson has been removed from her position as editor of the New York Times. What reasons have been given for her dismissal and what are some reasons why it has been controversial? Who is the new editor of the New York Times and what is his background and accomplishments?
SEARCH TERMS: Jill Abramson
TOPIC: Former CIA agent and fugitive from justice for leaking classified material, Edward Snowden has given an extensive interview to NBC’s Brian Williams. What were some of Snowdon’s most revealing moments in the interview? What has been some of the reaction from key government officials to this interview?
SEARCH TERMS: Edward Snowden
PEOPLE: King Juan Carlos Abdicates
TOPIC: Spain’s King Juan Carlos has decided to abdicate in favor of his son, Crown Prince Felipe. Juan Carlos has suffered from ill health for some time. Who did Juan Carlos succeed when he came to power in the 1970s? What was a striking early action of his that supported democracy in Spain? What criticisms has he recently received, and are they justified?
SEARCH TERMS: King Juan Carlos
PEOPLE: Player of the Year: Luis Suarez
TOPIC: Luis Suarez has been named the Premier League’s Player of the Year. This comes a year after he was suspended 10 games for biting an opposing player. What were his accomplishments that lead to this honor? What team does he play for and what is his role on the team? Is he in the World Cup and, if so, for what nation?
SEARCH TERMS: Luis Suarez AND Player of the Year
TOPIC: Actress Ann B. Davis was best known for her role as the family maid on the popular TV program The Brady Bunch. What Emmy Awards did she win and for what roles? What are some films in which she acted?
SEARCH TERMS: Ann B. Davis
PEOPLE: Hector Xavier Monsegur
TOPIC: For his value as an informant for the FBI, Hacker Hector Sabu Xavier Monsegur has been released from custody after 7 months. What crimes did he commit under the pseudonym Sabu and what groups was he affiliated with? How specifically did he assist the FBI in catching hackers? What major international hacking plots have been effectively disrupted by the United States?
SEARCH TERMS: Hector Xavier Monsegur
TOPIC: Al Feldstein was an editor of MAD magazine from 1956 to 1985, a peak time for the magazine’s popularity. What are the qualities that made MAD magazine so popular and how did he help define the magazine as editor? What writing and artwork did he do outside of his work for MAD?
SEARCH TERMS: Al Feldstein
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