Month: October 2009 Page 1 of 3

News Quiz Answers for the Week of October 26th-30th, 2009


Here are the answers to this week’s Extemp Central news quiz.  Remember, next week starts a new rollout of content on Extemp Central, so come back Monday for a new news quiz!

Also, post how you did this week and go to our facebook page and comment on your 2009 election projections for New Jersey, Virginia, and NY-23!  We’ll post those predictions to the site on Monday and see how close the extemp community can come to the actual results on Tuesday.

Topic Brief: New Jersey Governor’s Race

New Jersey governor's race candidates, from left, Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, independent Chris Daggett, and Republican Christopher Christie. / New Jersey Star-Ledger Photo Composite (

by Logan Scisco

Although most of the country’s political attention is focused on potential Republican challengers to President Obama in 2012 or how the economy will impact the Democratic Party’s chances in midterm elections next November, there are two races extempers need to focus on next week:  the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey.  Elections in “off years” often are the red haired step child of political campaigns, never quite attracting the attention they deserve.  This year marks a stark contrast as the frustrations of the first year of the Obama administration and the national economic climate, not to mention the poor fortunes of the Republican Party as of late, make these two races a critical barometer for 2010.

When he assumed the chairmanship of the Republican Party in 2009, former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele said that he was focused on winning the Virginia and New Jersey governor’s races.  At the time, sweeping both races looked to be an impossible task because of Democratic gains in Virginia, which now has two Democratic senators and has an outgoing Democratic governor, and because New Jersey has typically been reliably Democrat for in-state politics over the last decade.  However, with healthcare reform bogged down in Congress and President Obama’s standing looking increasingly vulnerable, there is a real possibility of a GOP sweep next week in these two races.  Virginia’s outcome looks certain with Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds trailing former state Attorney General Bob McDonnell by double digits in some of the latest polls.  New Jersey’s race, though, has seen incumbent Democratic Governor and former U.S. Senator Jon Corzine close the gap with his Republican challenger Chris Christie over the last several weeks to the point that the race is now too close to call.

With the Virginia election reaching a near certain outcome, this brief will zero in on the New Jersey gubernatorial race and discuss the major issues in the race, the candidates involved and their platforms, the major issues in the race, and finally what a Democratic or Republican victory may mean for 2010 and beyond.

AGD: The Death of Newsprint

Its like the sound the coyote makes when falling off the cliff in those old cartoons.

It's like the sound the coyote makes when falling off the cliff in those old cartoons.

by Corey Alderdice

I wouldn’t want to be a newspaper right now.  Other than the limited color scheme, short life span, the constant risk of being recycled and competition from techno-wonders like the Nook and Kindle, it turns out that the last few months have been killer for the folks in the print side of the mainstream media.

According to the New York Times (notice the hyperlink to underscore the point in play), circulation of United States daily newspapers is down by 10% over the last 6 months.  The story is particularly bleak as one realizes that mainstays such as the San Francisco Chronicle, Star-Ledger of Newark and Dallas Morning News have lost over 20% of their readership in the last 12 months.

According to the Times, two major factors are at work against the industry:

The figures join a list of indicators of the industry’s health — like advertising and newsroom headcounts — that, after years of slipping, have accelerated sharply downward, as newspapers face the greatest threats since the Depression. Through the 1990s and into this decade, newspaper circulation was sliding, but by less than 1 percent a year. Then the rate of decline topped 2 percent in 2005, 3 percent in 2007 and 4 percent in 2008.

It comes as no surprise that more and more readers are turning to the internet for their news.  When online, however, they are still visiting the journalistic mainstays in addition to new media outlets.

Extemp Questions for the Week of October 27th-November 2nd, 2009

1.  Who will win the New Jersey gubernatorial race?questions
2.  Is it too late to save the Afghan election?
3.  Will a public option opt-out in the Senate healthcare bill enable it to overcome a filibsuter?
4.  Should Congress rein in Obama’s czars?
5.  What explains José Mujica’s electoral success?
6.  Will Karadzic’s war crimes trial be a boon for international justice?
7.  What is the key to Pakistan achieving success in South Waziristan?
8.  Can Nigeria’s amnesty for militants in the Niger Delta bring the calm the country needs?
9.  Will the perceived ineffectiveness of the stimulus bill hurt Democrats in 2010?
10.  Did Obama act too early in declaring a national emergency over swine flu?

News Quiz for the Week of October 26th-30th, 2009 (Short Answer Version)


Here is the short answer version of this week’s Extemp Central news quiz.  Answers, as always, will be released on Friday morning so you can see how you did.

Also, if you have any feedback on how to make our news quizzes better for you or your team, please let us know by commenting here.

Good luck!

News Quiz for the Week of October 26th-30th, 2009 (Multiple Choice Version)


Here is the multiple choice version of this week’s Extemp Central news quiz.  Answers, as always, will be released on Friday morning so you can see how you did.

Also, if you have any feedback on how to make our news quizzes better for you or your team, please let us know by commenting here.

Good luck!

Extemp Central National Points Race: St. Mark’s Final Breakdown

To avoid double counting at St. Mark’s, Extemp Central awarded points to extempers based on their finish in both the IX and USXpointsraceheader-01 portions of the tournament.  The top six extempers based on points accumulated would be ranked first through sixth and they would receive the fifth tier points for the National Points Race.

Here are the top six finishers at St. Mark’s and the points they will receive in the National Points Race.  Sam Scott and Shahid Ahmed of Plano Senior High School received the same amount of points based on their combined finishes and had the second and third tier points split between them because of the tie.

1st: Dillon Huff (Southlake Carroll High School, Texas)—40 pts.
T2nd: Sam Scott (Plano Senior High School, Texas)—32.5 pts.
T2nd: Shahid Ahmed (Plano Senior High School, Texas)—32.5 pts.
4th: Haydn Forrest (L.C. Anderson High School, Texas)—15 pts.
5th: Mirza Germovic (Des Moines Roosevelt High School, Iowa)—12 pts.
6th: Shikha Garg (Plano Senior High School, Texas)—10 pts.

The Extemp Central National Points Race will be adjusted to accompany these changes within the next few days.

St. Mark’s Heart of Texas Invitational: Huff Completes First Sweep Since 2005

This weekend at the St. Mark’s Heart of Texas Invitational, Dillon Huff, who finished third in last year’s Extemp Central Nationalst. marks Points Race, swept the International and United States extemp tournaments. This is the first time this has been done since Alex Stephenson accomplished the feat in 2005. The pair of victories give Huff three victories in the tournament over the last two years, as he won the International extemp portion of the tournament last year as well.

Here are the results from the St. Mark’s Heart of Texas Invitiational.  Thanks to Adam Johnson, we are able to give you the results of the final rounds of International and United States extemp as well as the semi-finalists in each category.

Local Results: LaRue County Lincoln Invitational (Kentucky)

khsslThanks to Bill Thompson, coach of Kentucky Country Day School in Kentucky, Extemp Central has gathered extemp results from the first Kentucky tournament of the year, the LaRue County Lincoln Invitational.

Champion:  Emily Martin (Boone County High School)
2nd: Lori Lovell (Boone County High School)
3rd: Jake DeLong (Scott County High School)
4th: Ryan Eldridge (Grant County High School)
5th: Erin Taylor (Boone County High School)
6th: Alexis Caddell (Boone County High School)

Remember, if you have local results, we want to post them here at Extemp Central so let us know about them!

AGD: To Mars and Back in 80 Days?

by Corey Alderdice

Jules Verne would be jealous.  Instead of simply traveling around the world in 80 days, it looks as though adventurers may soon have the potential to go to the red planet and back in the same time.

The U.S. space program, like the nation’s automotive industry, ain’t what it used to be. What once seemed like innovative plans to send humans to the moon once more have been bypassed for attempts to blow it up.  However, some individuals are pushing past Earth’s only satellite altogether in search of the next great frontier: Mars.  Sure, we’ve sent lots of pieces of metal in that direction but never human beings.  It’s an innovative plan, but current technology means a trip there and back would take around two-and-a-half years.  Talk about cabin fever.

A new technology, though, hopes to cut that trip to around 39 days each way.  The New Scientist explains:

There’s a growing chorus of calls to send astronauts to Mars rather than the moon, but critics point out that such trips would be long and gruelling, taking about six months to reach the Red Planet. But now, researchers are testing a powerful new ion engine that could one day shorten the journey to just 39 days.

Traditional rockets burn chemical fuel to produce thrust. Most of that fuel is used up in the initial push off the Earth’s surface, so the rockets tend to coast most of the time they’re in space.

Ion engines, on the other hand, accelerate electrically charged atoms, or ions, through an electric field, thereby pushing the spacecraft in the opposite direction. They provide much less thrust at a given moment than do chemical rockets, which means they can’t break free of the Earth’s gravity on their own.

The space program was a hallmark of twentieth century politics, global competition, innovation, ingenuity and American education.  While the talk is bold, deficit hawks claim NASA’s overall plans are too costly.

With NASA’s Ares I-X rocket scheduled for its first launch next week, eyes will be looking skyward.  Where should NASA and other global space programs go from here?  We’d like your thoughts.

Changes Coming to Extemp Central Next Month

Starting next month, on November 2nd, there will be some changes appearing on Extemp Central.  We plan to debut axmas-party better rollout of content on a weekly basis to best assist the extemp community.  We are also open to additional suggestions you might have on how to make the website more user friendly or provide you with better resources.

The changes that will be implemented are:

1) Each day, Extemp Central will post links to five major news articles that you will want to read about global events.  These articles can come from newspaper sources, think tanks, policy journals, etc.  All of these are meant to diversify the readings extempers do and provide them with additional material if they are not cutting it for their files.

Extemp News Quiz Answers for the Week of October 19th-23rd, 2009


Here are the answers to this week’s news quiz.

The answers are found in the multiple choice format and are bolded.

AGD: The Buzzword

by Corey Alderdice

Even though the worlds of forensics and technology have yet to find a way to come together during tournament competitions, it seems as though both coaches and students have embraced technology as a way to hone our skills before entering rounds.

In many ways, the emergence of technology has benefited students participating in limited prep events. The notion of actually “cutting files” has mostly gone the way of VHS and cassettes. The internet has provided students with numerous resources for researching issues and topics, communicating and facilitating the community aspects of our activity, and even looking stylish outside of rounds. (I couldn’t help the plug.)

However, this may be a gadget that holds the most promise for extemporaneous speakers. Everyone has their verbal crutches and stumbling blocks. Hearing the phrase “we can see” in any event is like nails on a chalk board for me. Moreover, little words like “uh”, “um”, and “like” not only interrupt fluidity in performance but also detract from the overall credibility of a competitor.

When I was a student, we would have group coaching sessions where everyone would shout and throw paper wads when you said a crutch word–a strategy that is both bad for the environment and your confidence as well. That’s why the Buzzword could be just about the neatest gizmo for folks of the LP persuasion.

According to the Think Geek-the product’s supplier-it could be a “shockingly” simple step toward making you a more polished speaker.

We all have verbal tics, words our mouth fills in while we’re talking but our brain’s off processing something else. The trick is that we’re rarely conscious of them. The manufacturer of Buzzword has worked out a way to change that. They’ve made a wristband that has a microphone which allows you to train it to recognize when you use certain crutch words in your speech, such as “like” or “you know.” After training it, you slide it on your wrist and it gives you a reminder when it hears you use that word — a small shock. Soon your subconscious is associating those words with an unpleasant sensation, and before you know it, you sound more polished and professional.

Best of all, the control panel allows you to track usage of your buzzwords over time to monitor improvement.

There’s just one problem:  The Buzzword was an April Fool’s joke.  We’d love to see this become a reality, though.

That leads us to a question for you: What kind of technology or device would make your speech life easier?

Topic Brief: Kerry-Lugar Bill

By Logan Scisco

Since September 11, 2001, the Pakistani government has been a friend to the United States.  Although Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) organization helped to establish the Taliban and was friendly to the Taliban government in Afghanistan, the Pakistani government under Pervez Musharraf made an about face after that date.  Musharraf’s cooperation helped to secure billions of dollars in military and civilian aid for his country and also helped to silence Bush administration officials who might have otherwise been angry at the Musharraf regime’s handling of human rights issues (not to mention a lack of true democracy being practiced in the country).

In August 2008, Musharraf stepped down as President of Pakistan and was replaced by Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto.  Under his leadership, the Pakistani government has gradually adopted a harder line on Islamic militants inside of the country (after first trying to accommodate them) and Pakistan’s resolve has been in contrast to the current U.S. position in Afghanistan that looks indecisive and shaky.

However, U.S. officials have always been wary of Pakistan.  The army acts as an independent force from the government and has been known to meddle in political affairs.  The army has participated in three coups against the Pakistani state.  With this backdrop, U.S. officials have wanted to tighten conditions for aid that is sent to Pakistan and this is where the Kerry-Lugar bill, passed last month by Congress, comes into play.  This brief will describe some motivations of the Kerry-Lugar bill, the Pakistani people’s reaction to it, and how it could damage US-Pakistani relations.

Extemp Questions for the Week of October 20th-26th, 2009


1. Due to its economic problems, should the U.S. cut foreign aid?
2. How can the Democrats get 60 votes on healthcare reform?
3. Was it a shrewd move for Fatah to endorse the Egyptian reconciliation plan?
4. Despite its more inclusive government, why are foreigners still wary of investing in Zimbabwe?
5. Is America’s Afghan strategy in danger of doing counter-insurgency on the cheap?
6. What can rescue the Michigan economy?
7. Do the U.S. and Pakistan need to do more to address the concerns of the Pashtun people?
8. Why are AIG employees getting yet another round of bonuses?
9. If the U.S. were to copy a nation’s healthcare system who should it be?
10. Will the British National Party be successful come election time?

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