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    June 2015




    Civics, Government and Politics: New Relations between Cuba and the U.S.              

    TOPIC: The United States has removed Cuba from their list of state sponsors of terrorism. No U.S. representative or senator objected. This is the latest step in the normalization of relations between the two countries. What steps have been made previously in this process? What major issues remain to be negotiated? What are some of the reactions to this step? What new opportunities now exist for relations between the two nations?

    SEARCH TERMS: Cuba AND U.S. AND “state sponsor of terrorism”


    Civics, Government and Politics: Renewal of Patriot Act              

    TOPIC: There are sunset provisions in the Patriot Act that, due to their controversial nature, come up for renewal every 5 years. What ones are up for renewal in 2015 and what specifically are the debate points on the key controversial ones? What are some of the events in the last 5 years that have raised the controversy of the Patriot Act’s sunset provisions?

    SEARCH TERMS: Patriot Act AND (renew* OR expire OR sunset)


    SOCIAL ISSUES: Immigration Crisis 

    TOPIC: European and South East Asian countries are the targets of illegal immigrants who are arriving by ships. Sometimes these craft have been abandoned by their crew and some have sunk. Are the reasons people are fleeing Africa and Burma similar? What are they? If they are different, how so?

    SEARCH TERMS: (immigration or refugees) AND Europe or Southeast Asia) AND crisis


    Civics, Government and Politics: Electoral Results in UK

    TOPIC: After a British electoral campaign that seemed like it would end with another coalition government, the UK returned the conservatives to power with a slim majority. The Liberals were reduced to eight MPs. Labour suffered a stunning defeat in Scotland, a traditional stronghold. How long did it take for the Labour and Liberal leaders to resign? What party eclipsed the Liberals to become the third-largest in Parliament? What are the Conservatives plans for the country, as set out in the Queen’s Speech?

    SEARCH TERMS: United Kingdom AND election




    BUSINESS: Takata Airbag Recall 

    TOPIC: Cars from up to 11 automakers that have airbags from the Japanese auto parts company Takata are being recalled out of concern that they are unsafe. What has been going wrong with them and how did the problem start? What is Takata doing to help with this problem?

    SEARCH TERMS: Takata AND recall


    BUSINESS: Time Warner and Charter Merger 

    TOPIC: Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable have agreed to a merger that would make Charter Communications the third largest pay TV company in the United States. How does each company benefit from the merger plans and what are some concerns that have been raised about it?  How do these plans impact Charter Communications acquisition of Bright House Networks?

    SEARCH TERMS: Time Warner AND Charter Communications


    BUSINESS: Airline Bankruptcy 

    TOPIC: Malaysia Airlines, whose flights MH370 and MH17 were lost or shot down resulting in many fatalities, has announced a restructuring. Its new CEO, Christoph Mueller, has said it was bankrupt and would be looking at downsizing its employee numbers and reviewing its fleet. Was the decline at Malaysia Airlines the result of the two tragedies it suffered in 2014, or were there underlying reasons? What in Mueller’s employment history makes him seem a good leader for this effort?

    SEARCH TERMS: Malaysia Airlines AND Christoph Mueller


    Civics, Government and Politics: 2016 Republican Primaries          

    TOPIC:  Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and former governors George Pataki of New York and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas have announced their candidacies for the presidential race of 2016. How does this change the dynamic of the Republican primary race and what are the politics and background of these two men? Who are the leading candidates in the Republican primaries so far and why?

    SEARCH TERMS: president* AND (Republican OR GOP) AND (2016 OR campaign OR race)


    CRIME AND LAW: Daring Jewel Theft

    TOPIC: Ten middle-aged men have been arrested for the diamond and jewelry theft that happened in Hatton Garden in London on Easter weekend. Two of the men are in their seventies and two more are a father and son. How was the robbery accomplished? What was the approximate value of what was taken? How was the robbery solved?

    SEARCH TERMS: Hatton Garden AND diamonds AND (robbery or burglary)


    CRIME AND LAW: Police and Military Equipment

    TOPIC:  President Obama has set limits on police use of military equipment to enforce the law. What specifically are these limits and what are the specific reasons for setting limits in these areas? What are some examples of police using military weapons that have raised concern?

    SEARCH TERMS: police AND military AND equipment


    ECONOMICS: Los Angeles Minimum Wage  

    TOPIC:  Los Angeles, California has approved an increase in its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020.   Who were the groups for and against raising the wage and what were their most compelling arguments? What groups that fought in favor of the raise are now seeking an exemption and for what reason?

    SEARCH TERMS: minimum wage AND Los Angeles


    ECONOMICS: Trade Deal Closer to Reality

    TOPIC: The Asian nations and the U.S. have developed a trade agreement: the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Why is this trade agreement controversial? Are its contents broadly known, and, if not, why not? Can trade agreements threaten national sovereignty?

    SEARCH TERMS: Trans-Pacific Partnership OR TPP


    EDUCATION: Diploma Mill Shut

    TOPIC: Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh, CEO of Axact, has been arrested in Pakistan for running a global diploma mill, using the names of dozens of non-existent high schools and universities. He is charged with forgery and fraud, along with other charges. What are diploma mills and why are they illegal? What business did the company say it was in before its crimes came to light? What industry was Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh trying to enter?

    SEARCH TERMS:Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh OR Axact


    EDUCATION: Established Internet Slang

    TOPIC:  Merriam Webster’s latest edition of their dictionary includes Internet slag for the first time. What are some examples that are included in the new edition and what do the terms mean? What are the criteria that they use in deciding what gets included in the dictionary?

    SEARCH TERMS: Merriam Webster AND (Internet OR Web OR computer) AND slang


    EDUCATION: Spelling Bee Tie

    TOPIC: Gokul Venkatachalam and Vanya Shivashankar have tied as winners of this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee, marking the second consecutive year there has been a tie. What were some of the most difficult words they had to spell? When did spelling bees begin and how have they evolved?

    SEARCH TERMS: Scripps National Spelling Bee


    HISTORY:  Attica Prison Riot  

    TOPIC:  New papers on the 1971 Attica Prison riot have recently been declassified by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. What new information do these papers reveal? What events triggered the prison riot and how did events play out? What were some events that happened in the aftermath as a result of the riot?

    SEARCH TERMS: Attica AND prison AND riot


    HISTORY: Historic Victory Recalled

    TOPIC: The 70th anniversary of the defeat of Hitler and the end of the European Theater of World War II has recently passed. How was it celebrated or noted in various countries? Why did some national leaders not go to Moscow for its celebrations? Do you agree with their decision, given that the Soviet Union sacrificed so much during the war?

    SEARCH TERMS: World War II AND anniversary AND Europe


    SOCIAL ISSUES: Historic Vote

    TOPIC: In a referendum, the citizens of Ireland have voted to legalize gay marriage. It is the first country to have held a popular vote on this. Nearly two-thirds of the voters voted in favor of it. What other countries have legalized gay marriage and what process was used to establish it?  What was the Vatican’s response to the vote in this Catholic country?

    SEARCH TERMS: Ireland AND gay marriage AND referendum


    SOCIAL ISSUES: Hold on Immigration Plan  

    TOPIC:  A federal appeals judicial panel has upheld a hold on President Obama’s immigration plan. What legal arguments have been made for and against this ruling? What was the reaction from President Obama to this ruling?  

    SEARCH TERMS: Obama AND immigration AND (appeals OR appellate)




    ENVIRONMENT: Texas and Oklahoma Floods

    TOPIC: Texas and Oklahoma have suffered record breaking floods. What are the weather patterns that created these extreme conditions? What are some of the ways people living in these areas protected themselves and their property and what kind of relief efforts took place after the storm?

    SEARCH TERMS: (Texas OR Oklahoma) AND flood*


    ENVIRONMENT: Heat Wave in India

    TOPIC: India is in the grip of a massive heat. 1,400 people have died as of this writing and it is expected to last for a few more days. How are people trying to beat the heat? What groups are most at risk? What natural recurring phenomena will help end it?

    SEARCH TERMS: India AND heat wave


    HEALTH: Breast Cancer Breakthrough

    TOPIC: London researchers have discovered that breast cancer tumors release an enzyme before the cancer migrates into the bones of the patient. The enzyme creates holes in the bones that will later be filled by the cancer. Further, they discovered that a pre-existing drug halts the spread of the enzyme. Unfortunately, these findings only relate to about 30% of patients. How many breast cancer patients’ deaths are actually from bone cancer? What makes the 30% of patients eligible for this treatment but denies it to the rest? Does this offer new pathways for treatment of this disease?

    SEARCH TERMS: breast cancer AND enzyme


    HEALTH: Cancer Research  

    TOPIC:  A new blood test called a liquid biopsy can get information on cancer tumors from blood without taking samples from the tumor itself. What is the predicted future for this noninvasive process and how would patients benefit? What is still being investigated for this new process?

    SEARCH TERMS: cancer AND liquid biopsy


    HEALTH: Beijing Smoking Ban 

    TOPIC: Authorities in Beijing have banned smoking in public places. Beijing, notorious for its air pollution, is thought to be home to 4.2 million smokers, including half of all Chinese men. Is this the first ban on smoking in the country? How do the Chinese authorities hope to enforce this new rule? What has been the long term health outcomes of Chinese smoking, and how will bans like this potentially change these outcomes?

    SEARCH TERMS: Beijing AND smoking ban



    TOPIC:  A military lab at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah has accidentally shipped live samples of anthrax that were erroneously marked as inactive. How did this mistake happen, where were these samples shipped and what precautions are being made to identify them and insure safety? What could be the result of exposure to one of these live samples and how could it spread?

    SEARCH TERMS: Anthrax AND Army AND Dugway



    TOPIC: DNA research on modern day Egyptians and Ethiopians may have solved a major question of prehistory, Where did early man leave Africa? The testing seems to show that they left from the Sinai Desert. How was the testing done? How did they control for later migrations in analyzing the data? 

    SEARCH TERMS: humans AND Africa AND migration AND DNA




    SPORTS: Brady Suspended  

    TOPIC: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been suspended for 4 games as punishment for evidence suggesting that he knew of and approved of his team’s footballs being partially deflated against NFL rules giving the Patriots an unfair game advantage. How can partially deflated footballs give a quarterback an advantage and what is the rule for how footballs are to be inflated? What was the evidence that suggested Brady’s knowledge of this? What other penalties did the New England Patriots face?

    SEARCH TERMS: Patriots AND Tom Brady AND deflat*


    SPORTS: American Pharaoh Wins Preakness  

    TOPIC: Racehorse American Pharaoh has won the Preakness race at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. Who was the winning jockey and what are the particular talents of horse and jockey that give them such success? What are the races that make up the Triple Crown and how many has American Pharaoh won for 2015?

    SEARCH TERMS: American Pharaoh AND Preakness


    SPORTS: French Open 

    TOPIC: The French Open is a clay court tournament for male and female tennis players held in Paris. It is one of the four majors in tennis, along with the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. What are the surfaces of the other courts, and how do court surfaces affect play? Who were the leading players going into the French Open? Have there been any major upsets? Who were the ultimate winners?

    SEARCH TERMS: French Open AND tennis


    SPORTS: Juan Pablo Montoya Wins Indianapolis 500

    TOPIC: Juan Pablo Montoya has won his second Indianapolis 500. Who were the closest finishers and what were some key strong points in the race for Montoya? What happened to racer James Hinchcliffe during the practice run and how did it happen?

    SEARCH TERMS: Indianapolis 500


    SPORTS: FIFA Arrests

    TOPIC: Swiss authorities have arrest several top officials at FIFA, the organization that runs international soccer. They did this at the request of the FBI, who had been investigating bribery and corruption in the awarding of soccer tournaments. Who were the arrested officials and what were they charged with? Was the soccer world surprised by the alleged corruption in FIFA? Did the arrests have any impact of the election of the head of FIFA, held soon after the arrests were announced?

    SEARCH TERMS: FIFA AND arrests AND corruption or bribery


    SPORTS: Manager Fired

    TOPIC: Real Madrid, which did not win its domestic league or the Copa del Rey and which did not advance to the finals of the Champions League, fired its manager Carlos Ancelloti. He had led the team to its tenth Champion’s League victory just last year. What are his future career prospects? Where else has he managed and what other honors has he won? Who did Real Madrid replace him with? Who won their league and by how many points?

    SEARCH TERMS: Real Madrid AND Carlos Ancelloti


    SPORTS: Heysel Stadium Disaster Anniversary

    TOPIC: It is the 30th anniversary of the Heysel Stadium Disaster, when fans of Juventus fleeing attacking fans of Liverpool in the Belgian stadium caused a concrete retaining wall to collapse. Thirty-nine people, mostly Juventus fans, died. How were the fans of the rival clubs allowed to be so close together? How did the physical condition of the stadium contribute to the disaster? What did the investigations into the disaster reveal? What penalties were exacted after this? How has Juventus commemorated it?

    SEARCH TERMS: Heysel AND Juventus AND Liverpool


    SPORTS: NBA Finals                        

    TOPIC: The Cleveland Cavaliers will play the Golden State Warriors for the championship in NBA basketball. What is the Warriors record this year and when was the last time they’ve had the best record in the NBA? What are the major strengths and weaknesses of each team?

    SEARCH TERMS: Cavaliers AND Golden State




    FILM AND TELEVISION: American Idol          

    TOPIC:  American Idol, the popular televised competition of amateur singers, will be coming to an end after 15 seasons. Why is the show closing? Who are some of the major singing stars who got their start on American Idol?

    SEARCH TERMS:  American Idol


    FILM AND TELEVISION: Cannes Film Festival

    TOPIC: The Cannes Film Festival has recently taken place. What films were entered in the competition part of the festival and which films, directors and actors won awards? What other films were shown out of competition? Which films are you likely to see and why?

    SEARCH TERMS: Cannes Film Festival



    TOPIC: The sculpture of American artist Nathan Sawaya has gone on display in Paris. His artistic medium is Lego bricks. What sculptures is he showing there? How interesting do they seem to be? Are Lego bricks really an artistic medium, and, if not, why not?

    SEARCH TERMS: Paris AND Nathan Sawaya AND Lego


    FINE ARTS AND ARCHITECTURE: Hirschfield Drawings       

    TOPIC:  The New York Historical Society is exhibiting never before seen drawings by the caricaturist Al Hirschfield. What kind of caricatures is he most famous for and what are some of the publications that commonly carried his work? What are some aspects of the drawings that most impressed the critics and what was the hidden message in most of his drawings that his fans would hunt to find?

    SEARCH TERMS: Al Hirschfield AND New York Historical Society


    LITERATURE: The Daemon Knows  

    TOPIC: The Daemon Knows is the latest book by Harold Bloom and in it he writes about his favorite American authors. Who are the authors he writes about in his book, what does he like about them and what are some of the most interesting parts of his book? What kind of literary criticism is Harold Bloom known for and what are some of his most famous books?

    SEARCH TERMS: Harold Bloom AND The Daemon Knows


    LITERATURE: Man Booker International Prize

    TOPIC: Hungarian author László Krasznahorkai has won the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. Unlike the annual Man Booker Prize, this award considers the totality of an author’s work. What types of fiction does Krasznahorkai write? How popular is he in his own country? What works of his have been translated into English?

    SEARCH TERMS:László Krasznahorkai


    PERFORMING ARTS: Another Swedish Victory

    TOPIC: Sweden has won the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, with Russia coming in second. It is the seventh time Sweden has been voted the winner. How is the voting done? How did Australia get into a European contest? What Swedish group of the 1970s went from this contest to worldwide fame?

    SEARCH TERMS: Eurovision Song Contest


    PERFORMING ARTS: Berlin Philharmonic

    TOPIC: Members of the Berlin Philharmonic have failed to elect a successor to Sir Simon Rattle, who is leaving the orchestra in 2018 at the conclusion of his contract. Orchestra members meet in secret and can propose any conductor. What has Rattle accomplished for the orchestra? How do other orchestras select their conductors?

    SEARCH TERMS: Berlin Philharmonic


    PERFORMING ARTS: Wolf Hall   

    TOPIC: The British production company Playful Productions has brought the theatrical adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s famous novel Wolf Hall to Broadway titled Wolf Hall, Parts 1 and 2. What are the qualities of this play that impress the critics? How does the theater adaptation differ from the book and television series? What was the title of the British production of this play and why was the title changed when it came to New York?

    SEARCH TERMS: Wolf Hall AND Broadway




    PEOPLE: B. B. King          

    TOPIC: B. B. King was one of the most famous performers of American blues in the world. What was it about B. B. King’s style of singing and guitar playing that made him so popular? What are some of his most popular songs? What controversy has arisen regarding his death?

    SEARCH TERMS: B. B. King


    PEOPLE: Beau Biden         

    TOPIC: Beau Biden, the elder son of Vice President Joe Biden, was an Army Officer and an attorney general for the state of Delaware. What are some ways in which he distinguished himself in the military and as a state attorney general? What sadly took his life, and what were his plans for a political career at the time of his passing?

    SEARCH TERMS: Beau Biden


    PEOPLE: Jim Wright  

    TOPIC: Jim Wright was a longtime U.S. Congressman from Texas and briefly Speaker of the House of Representatives in the late 1980s. What was the scandal that forced him to resign? What were some of his most impressive accomplishments during his political career?

    SEARCH TERMS: Jim Wright


    PEOPLE: Archbishop Oscar Romero

    TOPIC: The Roman Catholic Church has beatified Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated while saying mass in El Salvador during the civil war in that country. While not a proponent of liberation theology, he did speak out for the poor and against the violence that ultimately killed him. He has been proclaimed a martyr. What is Liberation Theology? Was anyone prosecuted for Romero’s death? Who was thought to have organized it?

    SEARCH TERMS: Archbishop Oscar Romero


    PEOPLE: Jean-Marie Le Pen

    TOPIC: Jean-Marie Le Pen has been suspended from the political party he founded for remarks denying the Holocaust and praising Gen. Petain. The National Front also may abolish the office he holds, honorary president for life. He remains an MEP. What are his plans? What does he think is wrong with the National Front? Who is currently running the NF and what relation is she to Le Pen?

    SEARCH TERMS: Jean-Marie Le Pen AND National Front


    PEOPLE: John Nash                       

    TOPIC: Popularly known today as the man portrayed by Russell Crow in the popular film A Beautiful Mind, John Forbes Nash was a mathematician whose theories are widely used today in economics, computing, games of chance and can be used in a variety of technical and scientific areas. What are some of his most used theories and how are they applied? What are some of the awards he has won and what specifically were they awarded to him for? What mental illness did John Nash suffer and what was the impact on his life and work?

    SEARCH TERMS: John Nash                   


    PEOPLE: Mary Ellen Mark  

    TOPIC:  Photographer Mary Ellen Mark is known for her stark portraits of both famous and regular people, often creatively displaying the hard impact of life on humanity. What are some of her most famous portraits? What were some of the types of people Mary Ellen Mark routinely photographed and in what situations?

    SEARCH TERMS: Mary Ellen Mark


    PEOPLE: Nneka Jones Tapia   

    TOPIC: Nneka Jones Tapia has a clinical psychologist background and has been named to head the nation’s largest prison, Chicago’s Cook County Jail. How does her background help her in this job and what are some other aspects of her background? What is the history of Chicago’s Cook County Jail and what are some of the features of the facility?

    SEARCH TERMS: Nneka Jones Tapia


    PEOPLE: Osama Bin Laden   

    TOPIC:  Recently a batch of documents found in Osama Bin Laden’s home, including letters and reading material on his shelves, have been declassified and released to the public. What new information do these papers tell us about him? How can information found in them be helpful in preventing terrorism?

    SEARCH TERMS: Osama Bin Laden AND bookshelf


    PEOPLE: Dean Potter  

    TOPIC:  Dean Potter was a skilled free mountain climber and BASE jumper. What is BASE jumping and what are the dangers and precautions taken in the sport? What were the circumstances of the fatal wingsuit flight that killed him?

    SEARCH TERMS: Dean Potter AND BASE jump*