January 13, 2012

Pirates and Primaries

Week in Rap: A brand new edition,
Things are getting hot with Iran, just listen!
13 Iranians had gone fishing,
For 2 months they'd been missing.
They’d been abducted by Somali pirates,
On a boat, till the U.S. Navy surprised it.
Iran didn’t say thank you,
They’re sentencing an American to be hanged soon.
They say he’s a secret agent,
He says he’s on vacation, is he faking?
Back in the states, Romney’s taken
The first two contests
, he’s acing,
Winning Iowa, now New Hampshire,
His two wins have gone unanswered.

Next up? We’ll head down South,
Where Perry hopes to show what he’s about.
In GA, we don’t stay aware,
Of childhood obesity, but is it really fair
To say that “It’s no fun being fat,”
Some think it’s harsh and don’t like the ads.
Our debt's big now, it’s gotta be,
The size of the entire economy.
So Obama’s making military cuts,
To make it more agile but still be dangerous.
But he wants money for teen jobs,
So get your grind on like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
A study shows teachers can change lives,
I’m saying thanks to all the teachers who changed mine.
When it’s game time, I’m A-L-A-B-A-M-A,
So stay amazed.
I don’t tic tac, on my Sudoku,
Week in Rap when we roll through, yeah you know who... Flocab!

After the rescue, relief

Last week, Iran was warning the U.S. to keep its warships out of the Straight of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. But for a 13-member Iranian crew, it's a good thing the American ships were in the region. American troops on a U.S. Navy ship rescued the Iranian fishermen after they had been held captive on their vessel for more than 40 days by Somali pirates. And then a few days later, the U.S. Coast Guard rescued six more Iranians from a sinking boat. Do you think these rescues will affect Iran's stance on American ships near the Persian Gulf? Learn more.

The Iranian government has issued the death penalty to Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, a 28-year-old Iranian-American man. Iran has charged him with espionage, and claims that he was working with the CIA to make Iran seem guilty of terrorism. Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine, claims that he was simply visiting his grandmothers who still live in Iran. The U.S. State Department says that the charges of spying are false, and it's working to help Hekmati fight the sentence. Why do you think U.S. officials have accused Iranians of exploiting Hekmati for political gain? Learn more .

Mitt Romney has a reason to smile this week.

After just barely eking out a win last week in the Iowa caucuses, Mitt Romney decisively won the New Hampshire Republican primary on Tuesday. Romney beat second-place Ron Paul by 40,684 votes...a win margin that was 40,676 votes greater than last week's. Next stop in the primary marathon? South Carolina. The other candidates will need a strong showing in the next few contests to challenge Romney's front-runner status. If you could interview the Republican candidates about important issues for you, what questions would you ask them? Learn more.

One of the controversial television ads

Doctors agree that childhood obesity is a problem that can set kids up for health problems later in life. But citizens of Georgia are in disagreement about whether a new slate of anti-obesity ads will help to solve the problem. The ads feature overweight children, with messages like, "It's hard to be a little girl if you're not." The Children's Healthcare of Atlanta pediatric hospital, which is running the campaign, says that the shocking nature of the ads is the whole point. They say that local parents and kids need a wake up call about childhood obesity. But opponents say that the ads are overly harsh, and that they could further stigmatize already-bullied kids. After watching the ad, do you think its tone is appropriate? Learn more.

The U.S. national debt is growing. And if you include debt to future generations in the number, like Medicare and Social Security, the debt is now equal to the value of all goods and services the U.S. economy produces in one year. While Republican candidates have seized on this number as a sign of President Obama's economic failings, some economists say that the number is skewed. They argue that debt is better measured by the money the government owes to creditors. That measure would still bring the debt in at 70% of the economy. Do you think that the government should prioritize cutting the national debt? Learn more.

Fewer of these will be taking off

Last year, President Obama ordered the troops in Iran and Afghanistan home, after nearly ten years in the region. And now the President has proposed to cut billions of dollars from the military budget over the next decade. Some are concerned that these cuts will weaken the military, while others believe that we need to rethink the role of our military in the modern era. Do you think that cutting military funding is a good idea? Learn more.

Not a bad summer job

National unemployment isn't just a problem for those who have finished school. The teenage unemployment rate is 21%, which means that 1 out of every 5 kids who wants to get a job won't be able to find one. To help teens gain valuable work experience--and cash in pocket--President Obama has proposed a "Summer Jobs +" initiative. The White House has asked companies across the public and private sectors to commit to hiring teenagers, and so far many companies have agreed to participate. The jobs may not be sitting in a big chair on the beach, but they should give teens more opportunities. Have you experienced teen unemployment in your community? Learn more.

Maybe it's time to start making more statues of great teachers.

A new studies has confirmed what we already knew: Good teachers change lives. But researchers wanted to know exactly how much influence good teachers have. A lot, it turns out. After tracking 2.5 million students over 20 years, the study found that replacing one poor teacher with an average one would increase their class's lifetime earnings by $266,000. But while everyone agrees that teacher quality matters, the question of how to measure the quality is a source of contention. Some argue that the test scores used to measure teacher quality do not reflect a teacher's complete set of skills, while others say that there simply isn't any other objective measure. Think about the best teacher you've had. What made him or her great? How would you measure those qualities objectively? Do you think you can? Learn more.


Alabama beat the LSU in the national college football championship. The Crimson Tide didn't just beat top-ranked LSU--they shut them out 21-0. Were you watching the game? If so, who were you rooting for? Learn more.
Who had held Iranian fishermen hostage for 40 days?
Somali Pirates
What sentence did the Iranian government just give to a U.S. citizen?
A death sentence
Who won the New Hampshire Republican primary?
Mitt Romney
In Georgia, a set of ads is running to counter what medical issue?
Childhood obesity
By some measures, what is now as large as the U.S. economy?
The U.S. debt
What organization is slated for billions of dollars in cuts?
The U.S. military
President Obama has proposed a plan to help which group of people get jobs?
A study this week showed numerically how much ________ can change lives.
Who won the college football championship?
We don't play tic tac toe. We're on our...
Sudoku. See you next week!

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