Friday, October 06, 2006

What’s New @

What’s New @

· Facts On File World News Digest
· Issues & Controversies
· Issues & Controversies in American History
· Today’s Science
· World Almanac Reference Database

Facts On File World News Digest

*Resource Center* -- a brand-new feature containing creative classroom assignments using material from the Facts On File World News Digest, special guides for students, and a wide variety of teaching aids -- is now online. See the full collection at

New *Focus On* features accessible from the Research Features menu provide a succinct overview and a wealth of links to comprehensive background information on a variety of top news stories. See recent Focus On pieces on Hurricane Katrina and Israel-Lebanon Strife Check back often to see additions to this new collection.

*The Cover Story* looks back at the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and examines the evolving U.S. response to them since then Coming next: a full preview of the 2006 midterm elections.

*Need a Research Topic?* provides students and researchers with concise introductions to important news topics and helps students to find ideas for research projects. See the complete collection, including a new topic, the International Criminal Court, at

*2006 Election Guide* provides students and researchers with a concise introduction to the upcoming midterm congressional and gubernatorial elections, followed by links to key events in the 2006 election cycle and comprehensive background information. See the complete guide at

*Top News Stories* include the ousting of Thai Premier Thaksin Shinawatra in a military coup, plans to transfer peacekeeping duties in Sudan’s Darfur region from an African Union force to a U.N. force and President Bush’s acknowledgement of secret CIA prisons

*Editorial Cartoons* on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias, an agreement reached on the treatment of detainees, and voting have been added to the editorial cartoons menu. See the full collection at

Themed Research Topic

In late September 2006, the U.S. Congress approved legislation permitting the use of tribunals for the prosecution of terrorism detainees, and outlining rules regarding the interrogation and trials of detainees.

Starting Points:
-- Guantanamo Detainees and the Law
-- Supreme Court Strikes Down U.S. Military Tribunals for Terrorism Suspects at Guantanamo
-- White House, Senators Reach Detainee Bill Compromise
-- U.N. Urges Guantanamo Closure; Panel Finds Violation of International Law
-- U.S. President Bush Acknowledges Secret CIA Prisons, Sets Transfer of Top Terrorism Suspects to Guantanamo

Discussion Questions:
-- In June 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that President Bush’s previous system of trying terrorism detainees using special military tribunals was unauthorized under federal and international law. Do you think that the Court made the right decision? Why or why not?
-- Earlier in September, President Bush acknowledged the presence of secret CIA prisons abroad, where terrorism suspects had been held. He said that the program was necessary in order to extract important, time-sensitive information from terrorists. Do you agree? Why or why not?
-- Why do you think many in the international community wish to see the closure of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay?

Issues & Controversies

The *New Cover Story* focuses on Teen Driving. Would withholding full driving rights from teens help make the nation’s roads safer? Or is this a measure that does nothing to improve road safety? Read more about this issue at

*New Editorial Cartoons* cover topics such as U.S.-Pakistan relations and U.S.-Mexico border enforcement. See the full list at

*New and Updated Articles* include:
-- Breast Implants
-- U.S.-Pakistan Relations
-- Self-Defense Laws
-- Voting Rights Act

*National High School Debate Topics* now includes comprehensive coverage of this year’s topic, National Service and Volunteerism See the full list of debate topics from 1997 on at

Themed Research Topic

In late September 2006, businessman and adventurer Richard Branson announced that all profits from his airlines and train company would be used to develop alternative energy sources that do not contribute to global warming.

Starting Points:
-- Corporate Social Responsibility
-- Socially Responsible Investing
-- Global Warming
-- Celebrity Endorsements
-- Celebrities in Politics

Discussion Questions:
-- Why do you think that well-known icons or celebrities become involved with charities and other causes?
-- Do you think it helps a cause or charity when a well-known figure or celebrity becomes involved with it? Why or why not?
-- In the last number of years, many famous figures and celebrities such as Irish singer Bono, Microsoft chief Bill Gates, and investment expert Warren Buffett have become involved with charities and other causes. Do you think that more famous figures are involved in charity work today than in the past? Why or why not?

Issues & Controversies in American History

*American Presidential Elections* provide capsule coverage of each U.S. presidential election from 1789 to the present. Each informative piece contains a results chart and a discussion of the issues and events that shaped the election. See the complete collection at

*Editorial Cartoons* are an excellent way to help students develop their critical-thinking skills and deepen their understanding of complex historic issues. See the complete collection including cartoons on the Dred Scott decision, Prohibition, and Tammany Hall at

*This Month’s Cover Story* focuses on the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Read more about the witch trials and why they occurred at

*New Articles* include:
-- Johnson Impeachment
-- Harlem Renaissance
-- Opening of Japan
-- Watergate Affair

Today’s Science

*This Week’s Cover Story* provides a clear, detailed explanation of the long-standing and famous Poincaré conjecture and examines 2006 Fields Medal winner Grigori Perelman’s proof for it

*New Articles* discuss the recent air travel threat of liquid explosives, a new method of extracting stem cells, evidence of the existence of dark matter, and the discovery of a gene that contributes to aging, but also helps to prevent cancer

*Editorial Cartoons* on biotechnology, face transplants, global warming, and obesity have been added to the editorial cartoons menu. See the growing collection at

*Forensics: The Science of Crime-Solving* focuses on forensics—a field of science that many people are interested in because of the popularity of TV shows such as CSI, Crossing Jordan, and Law and Order. This special feature introduces students to the world of forensic science, explains what it can and cannot do, and details advances in the field. See for yourself at

*Crossword Puzzles* help students to expand and deepen their understanding of scientific issues. See the complete collection, including crossword puzzles on forensics, the Neanderthal genome, and the new air travel threat of liquid explosives, at

Themed Research Topic

On August 24, 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) adopted a definition of planet that excluded Pluto, demoting it to the status of dwarf planet.

Starting Points:
-- Pluto: A (Dwarf) Planet By Any Other Name…
-- Planetary Challenge from Pluto Rival
-- Pluto’s Rival: Not Big, But Bright
-- Pluto Gets Some New Competition
-- Pluto Expelled?

Discussion Questions:
-- About a week before the vote to demote Pluto, astronomers had drafted a definition of planet that would include Pluto, Pluto’s moon Charon, the asteroid Ceres, and Eris, previously known as 2003 UB313 and nicknamed Xena. Why do you think that they finally agreed to demote Pluto? Do you think they made the right decision?
-- Do you think that the discovery of Eris affected Pluto’s status? Why or why not?
-- According to Alan Stern, leader of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto, less than 5% of the world’s professional astronomers voted to demote Pluto. Does this change your opinion on Pluto’s new status? Why or why not?

World Almanac Reference Database

This month’s *World Almanac Cover Story* looks back at U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s tax reform bill, which was the biggest overhaul of the country’s tax legislation in 40 years. Read more about Reagan’s tax bill and tax cuts at The article is linked to original World News Digest coverage of the 1986 tax reform bill and extensive background information.

*Pluto Demoted* is the focus of the World Almanac Encyclopedia’s front page story, and looks at Pluto’s recent demotion from the status of planet to dwarf planet Other special reports include doping allegations in the 2006 Tour de France, former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers’s fraud conviction, and the creation of the world’s biggest marine conservation area in Hawaii Coming next: a look at Mexico’s recent presidential election, lunar missions, and the 2006 U.S. Open.

Themed Research Topic

On October 6, 1876, the American Library Association was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Starting Points:
-- American Library Association
-- Libraries in Today’s World
-- Milestone for World’s Top Library
-- The Wave of the Future: Google to Digitize Libraries
-- Top 50 Public Libraries in the U.S. and Canada, 2003
-- Censorship

Discussion Questions:
-- What effects do you think the Internet and other electronic resources have had on libraries? Do you think these resources have changed the way librarians work? Why or why not?
-- The American Library Association and other library organizations are some of the biggest opponents to censorship. Are you surprised by this? Why or why not?
-- What do you think the library’s role will be in the future?

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