January 4, 2013

Fiscal Cliffs, Comfort Dogs & Edible Bugs

Peace y’all, happy new year!
Flocab’s back, you know that’s the crew - yeah.
Whether you were in New York to watch the ball drop,
Or wherever you were when it turned 12 o'clock...
Tick-tock - did you make a resolution?
Something to change or are you gonna stay the same?
Flocab’s still doing our thang,
Bringing you the news over these beats that bang.
Did you hear about that fiscal cliff?
Congress passed a law so we all avoided it.
Income taxes for most won’t rise,
Could it be that politicians learned to compromise?
Hillary Clinton, our Secretary of State
Was in the hospital
but they say she’s ok,
She fainted and had a concussion,
Get well soon, next up in our discussion is
Concord, Massachusetts - did you hear their plan?
Single-serving plastic water bottles are banned.
That’s the first place to do it in the states,
Do you think this is something that others will embrace?
The Sandy Hook students had a lot to face,
When they came back to school
, but they did it with grace.
They’re in a new building and they’ve got hope,
Plus they’ve got comfort dogs there to help ’em cope.
Now let’s take a trip through time and go back
150 years to be exact.
The Emancipation Proclamation was born,
The first step in changes and we still need more.
Last but not least - have you heard this yet?
Apparently Americans are eating insects.
They’re saying it’s something you should embrace in your diet
Is there anybody out there listening who will try it?
Just checking,
It’s Flocab and we’re repping,
Welcome to 2013!

Last year we kicked off a weekly Shout Out Contest. Want your school's name to be shouted from our virtual mountaintop? Each week there is a new contest. Students are encouraged to participate, but only teachers may submit entries. This week's contest is to write a haiku about a news story from 2012. Learn more and enter here!

The Senate voted Tuesday to pass a new budget deal.

The budget of the United States government is never very interesting to talk about. But it's important. Most people don't like paying taxes, but also don't want to cut government programs that help them. But the more money we borrow, the more that future generations (including young people today) will have to pay. After a lot of last minute scrambling and posturing, Democrats and Republicans compromised on a new budget deal. Taxes on those earning more than $400,000 per year will go up. Taxes will rise slightly for many Americans, though not nearly as much as what would have happened if no deal had been achieved. Do you think politicians should compromise more or be rigid about their positions? Learn more .

Hillary Clinton isn't letting a blod clot stop her.

The U.S. Secretary of State is our ambassador to the world. She is the one who meets with foreign leaders on a constant basis, and she keeps a busy schedule. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton caught a flu last month, fainted and hit her head. A follow-up doctor's visit revealed a blot clot in her head. It wasn't dangerous, but they wanted to make sure it didn't work its way to her heart or lungs. She was treated with blood thinners at a hospital and released this week. Unrelated to the illness, Clinton will be stepping down as Secretary of State. Obama has nominated Massachusetts Senator John Kerry as her successor. What do you think make good qualities in a Secretary of State? Learn more.

Single-use plastic bottles add up.

How many disposable plastic water bottles do you use each week? Each year? You might think plastic water bottles have been around for a long time, but 20 years ago very few people ever bought water from a store. People drank tap water, which is 1000 times cheaper than bottled water. One town in Massachusetts wants a return to the past. With an eye on helping the environment, the town of Concord banned single-serving plastic water bottles. Businesses are complaining that the town is limiting the freedom of consumers. Why do you think single-serving plastic water bottles should or shouldn't be banned? Learn more.

Animal companions have been shown to provide comfort to children, the elderly, and everyone in between.

After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in which a young man shot and killed 26 kids and teachers, it was hard for many of us to imagine how the surviving students would be able to return to scene of the massacre. This week, Sandy Hook students returned to school, but not their former building. They arrived an unused middle school that had been transformed over the holidays to look like their elementary school. Their desks were in place, and their artwork was on the walls along with hundreds of homemade paper snowflakes sent in from supporters all around the globe. Therapists were on hand. So were comfort dogs: golden retrievers that are trained to help trauma victims feel comfortable. The dogs don't bark, and they give the most attention to the quietest kids. Still, no snowflakes or cute dogs will replace the lives of those who were killed in December. What do you think of the decision not to return to the original school? Learn more.

Abraham Lincoln said, "I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right than I do in signing this paper."

150 years ago this week, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, a federal decree that freed all slaves in the Confederacy. It wasn't a law. It was a federal order during wartime. The even more important step wouldn't come until two years later when we added a 13th Amendment to the Constitution, permanently freeing all slaves, no matter what state they lived in. Still, Lincoln's document was monumental. It was a major step toward the type of equality that we now hold dear. Think 150 years is a long time? Your grandmother's grandmother could have watched him sign it. What are the three most important documents in American History in your opinion? Learn more.


What's going to be the big thing in 2013? Some people are hoping it will be bug burgers. Yes, insects are edible, and apparently they're good for you and good for the planet. A new study shows that getting protein from eating mealworms instead of beef and chicken would be much easier on the planet. Compared to raising livestock, growing mealworms requires less land and water, and produces less waste and greenhouse gases. And they're full of vitamins and low in fat. People around the world already eat nearly 2,000 species of insects. So go ahead, give that fried grasshopper a try. Would you consider trying insects? Learn more.
Republicans and Democrats compromised to not go over what?
The fiscal cliff
Which major figure was briefly hospitalized last week?
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton
What did a town in Massachusetts ban?
Single-serving disposable plastic water bottles
What helped some Sandy Hook students return to school?
Comfort dogs
What did a US president sign 150 years ago?
The Emancipation Proclamation
What source of protein is better for the planet than livestock?
Bonus: How much cheaper is tap water than bottled water?
1,000 times cheaper
Bonus: What event freed all of the slaves in America?
The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution

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