• North Korea and Radiation

    At least four North Korean defectors have shown signs of radiation exposure, South Korea said Wednesday. The four are among 30 defectors from the area near North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site, although South Korean authorities could not immediately determine whether they were exposed through the country's controversial nuclear weapons program. North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test since 2006 in September under the mountains of Punggye-ri. The last explosion was so large that it raised fears that Pyongyang had produced a hydrogen bomb that could have released radiation into the area. Another defector, a soldier, was found to have been exposed to anthrax, stoking concerns that Pyongyang is developing biological weapons in violation of international law. 

    Discussion Questions:

    • Do you believe these individuals were intentionally harmed? Why or why not?
    • Do you think North Korea could produce a nuclear weapon? Why or why not?
    • Is North Korea a threat today?

  • A Christmas Gift from America?

    Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin received the gift of horse manure for the holidays. A neighbor found a Christmas-wrapped package addressed to Mnuchin in his Bel Air driveway Saturday, the Los Angeles Police Department told the New York Daily News.The neighbor alerted the authorities who opened the package and found horse manure. The Secret Service is reportedly picking up the package Sunday. The package was initially thought to be suspicious, but authorities later determined its contents were not threatening, according to KTLA.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Why do you think this happened?
    • What punishment should the offender face?
    • Should secretaries be given more security and protection? Why or why not?
  • Merry Christmas from Trump

    President Trump went to the "Winter White House," his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, on Friday, where CBS News reports he told friends dining at his club, "You all just got a lot richer" because of the GOP tax overhaul he'd signed several hours earlier. Two sources at a nearby table described the comments to CBS. In public statements before the bill became law, Trump repeatedly claimed he, as a wealthy person, would take a financial hit so that ordinary Americans could pay lower taxes. Since the legislation was finalized, analysis has shown Trump will save millions annually under the new system.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Do you think Trump only cares about the rich? Why or why not?
    • Do you think Trump personally assured the bill would pass?
    • Does this story bother you? Why or why not?

  • Tax Reform

    After every triumph comes another challenge, as many in the GOP are learning this week. The passage of a sweeping tax plan has clearly reinvigorated the White House and GOP lawmakers. President Trump is hoping the tax win will spur Congress to act on some of his other goals, like rewriting welfare rules and overhauling infrastructure. For now, though, the hurdle for House Republicans is cobbling together a proposal to keep the government open ahead of tomorrow's shutdown deadline. Yes, tomorrow. Some big-ticket items still must be hammered out, including disaster aid, defense spending and funding for health insurance for children.
    Discussion Questions:
    • Do you think the tax reform is good for America? Why or why not?
    • What are your thoughts on a potential shutdown?
    • Is all policymaking partisan today? Why or why not?
  • Trump Judicial Nominee Withdraws

    Matthew Petersen, President Donald Trump's district court nominee, has withdrawn his nomination just days after his bizarre confirmation hearing went viral. In a video of the hearing, Petersen, who now serves as a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, was peppered with questions about how many depositions he had worked on, how many jury trials he had tried and the last time he had read the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It's safe to say, he had a bit of a hard time landing the answers. In a letter to the President, Petersen said the hearing amounted to "my worst two minutes on television."
    Discussion Questions:
    • Do you think he should have withdrawn? Why or why not?
    • Is this Trump-specific in your eyes?
    • Are you bothered by Peterson's answeres? Why or why not?
  • AMTRAK Derails in Washington

    At least three people were killed and more than 100 injured when an Amtrak passenger train derailed in Washington state, DuPont Fire Chief Larry Creekmore said Monday night. The Amtrak Cascades 501 was making its first trip on a new service route when the train ran off the track near DuPont, spilling 13 cars off an Interstate 5 overpass onto rush hour traffic below, authorities said. All the deaths were contained to the train, said Ed Troyer, the Pierce County Sheriff's Office spokesman.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Is AMTRAK safe? Why or why not?
    • Should train travel be more regulated? Why or why not?
    • What reaction do you expect to this derailment? Why?
  • The Future of Paul Ryan?

    House Speaker Paul Ryan is "soul searching" about his future, some of his close friends tell CNN. Those people close to Ryan told CNN they believe it is possible that he could leave Congress after the 2018 midterm elections, if he can achieve his goal of passing GOP backed overhaul of the US tax system. Some say his departure could possibly happen even sooner. Some friends indicate that Ryan may be suffering from a bout of "Trump-haustion," but others believe there is serious contemplation of leaving Congress in 2018.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Do you think Ryan will leave? Why or why not?
    • Do you think Ryan will wait till 2018? Why or why not?
    • What do you think could convicne Ryan to stay?
  • Alabama Votes Today

    After all the accusations and rancor, the voters will finally have their say today in Alabama's contentious Senate race. Embattled GOP candidate Roy Moore, who's denied accusations of pursuing sexual relationships with teen girls when he was in his 30s, unleashed his anger at the national media and Democrats last night during a rally, which also featured Trump political guru Steve Bannon. Democratic candidate Doug Jones brought out basketball legend Charles Barkley, who told a crowd at a rally that Alabama has "got to stop looking like idiots to the nation." Jones, who needs an Obama-like African-American turnout to win, stressed that everyone needs to get out and vote. Here are five things to watch as the ballots roll in tonight.
     
    Discussion Questions:
     
    • What do you think will happen today?
    • Should Moore have stepped aside? Why or why not?
    • How will this impact Trump's agenda?

  • Iraq Declares Itself Free of ISIS

    Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi today declared the end of a three-year war to root out Islamic State militants from the country after the “liberation” of the Iraq-Syria border. “Our forces are in complete control of the Iraqi-Syrian border and I therefore announce the end of the war against Daesh (IS),” Abadi said at a press conference in Baghdad. “Our enemy wanted to kill our civilization, but we have won through our unity and our determination. We have triumphed in little time,” he was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse. The announcement comes after Iraqi forces regained control of Rawah, the last town held by ISIS near the border with Syria. Some 3 million Iraqis have been displaced since the so-called Islamic State took over nearly a third of the country’s territory in 2014. Abadi had initially declared the war over in July, but battles with ISIS continued in Mosul for weeks afterward.

    Discussion Questions:

    • How do you think Iraq was able to free itself from ISIS?
    • Do you think ISIS is fading internationally? Why or why not?
    • How do you believe Iraq's future will play out? Why?
  • Moore Accuser Admits to Altering Yearbook Signature

    Roy Moore accuser Beverly Young Nelson admitted to ABC earlier today that she added the date and place to Moore’s signature in her 1977 yearbook. “To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore... Roy Moore, DA. 12-22-77 Olde Hickory House,” the yearbook inscription read. Although Nelson’s lawyer Gloria Allred initially attributed the entire note to Moore, Nelson now says the date and restaurant annotations were hers. However, Nelson emphasized, the rest of the signature is authentic and she stands by her accusation that, when she was 16 years old, Moore groped and attempted to rape her. Although her admission does not compromise the meat of her story, it will likely give ammo to the Alabama Republican and his supporters who have called his accusers liars and suggested Nelson’s yearbook signature was a forgery.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Does this change how you view the Moore accusations? Why or why not?
    • Why do you think she added to the signature?
    • How do you think this may impact Moore's election? Why?
  • Kihuen Says Pelosi Knew

    Representative Ruben Kihuen (NV), who stands accused of sexual harassment, said today that those calling for his resignation—most notably House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)—knew of the allegations against him last year but continued to support his campaign. “I do find it interesting that the DCCC, Leader Pelosi, and [DCCC] Chairman Ben Ray Lujan—they knew about these allegations last year,” Kihuen, a freshman representative in Congress, told ABC News. “They looked into them. They didn’t find anything, and they continued investing millions of dollars in my campaign. They went out and campaigned for me.” A spokesman for Pelosi and a spokeswoman for the DCCC denied that the Democratic leader or the DCCC were aware of the allegations. Kihuen has said he will not resign.

    Discussion Questions:

    • Should Kihuen resign? Why or why not?
    • Do you believe Pelosi was aware? Why or why not?
    • If Pelosi knew, what should happen? Why?
  • White House Reacts to Flynn

    The White House today tried to distance itself from former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn by referring to him as “a former Obama administration official” who only worked for the Trump administration for 25 days. However, President Obama had warned Trump against hiring Flynn prior to his January 2017 inauguration. Flynn had led the Defense Intelligence Agency under the Obama administration but was fired in 2014 because of mismanagement and temperament issues. Flynn was later an early Trump supporter during the 2016 presidential election and worked for his campaign. “The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year,” said White House lawyer Ty Cobb, attempting to minimize the connection between Flynn and the Trump camp. “Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn.”

    Discussion Questions:

    • What do you think the next event will be related to Flynn's guilty plea?
    • Do you think this increases the chances of Trump being impeached? Why or why not?
    • Do you think Flynn's plea deal was fair? Why or why not?