Month: September 2014 Page 1 of 4

Eric Holder’s Resignation

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Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced his resignation.  Holder is one of three officials still remaining from President Obama’s original Cabinet and he was a lightning rod for conservative criticism of the administration.  During Holder’s six-and-a-half year tenure the Justice Department sought to re-emphasize the importance of civil rights, but it came under fire for refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the “Fast and Furious” scandal and prosecuting journalists that leaked government information.  Holder’s departure comes on the heels of an expected Republican takeover of the Senate, which may limit President Obama’s selection of his replacement.  Holder announced that he will remain at his post until a successor is chosen and confirmed.

This topic brief will discuss Eric Holder’s career at the Justice Department, analyze conservative and progressive criticisms of his job performance, and provide an overview of who President Obama may select as his replacement.

Readers are also encouraged to use the links below and in the related R&D to bolster their files about this topic.

R&D: Eric Holder’s Resignation

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Here is today’s premium R&D to accompany today’s premium topic brief on Eric Holder’s resignation.

HotTopics: United States Extemp Questions for the Week of September 29th-October 5th, 2014

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HOTtopics1. How can the Republican Party reverse its fortunes in California?
2. Should Debbie Wasserman Schultz step down as DNC chair?
3. Will the GOP add more than ten seats to their majority in the House?
4. Should illegal immigrants be allowed to enlist in the U.S. military?
5. Who should replace Eric Holder?
6. Should Yahoo merge with AOL?
7. Why are fewer Americans getting married?
8. Should the U.S. reconsider its policy on not negotiating with terrorist groups?
9. Do President Obama’s executive actions on climate change go far enough?
10. Could Jim Webb become a formidable presidential candidate?

HotTopics: International Extemp Questions for the Week of September 29th-October 5th, 2014

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HOTtopics1. Will corruption allegations against Jordi Pujol hinder Catalan independence efforts?
2. How can UN peacekeeping efforts be strengthened?
3. Will legal concerns scuttle a planned EU-Canada trade deal?
4. Should developed nations provide more investment dollars for renewable energy projects in developing nations?
5. Has the Vatican done enough to prevent child abuse?
6. Should multinational corporations be able to require nations to abide by international treaties?
7. Does ISIS pose a significant threat to Lebanon?
8. Will a recent agreement with Cambodia solve Australia’s refugee problem?
9. What will be Hamid Karzai’s legacy?
10. Will immigration issues undermine Labour’s chances of winning future elections?

2014-2015 Extemp Central National Points Race: New Standings Posted to Reflect Yale

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pointsraceheader-01The 2014-2015 Extemp Central National Points Race standings have been updated to reflect the Yale Invitational.  To access the standings, you can click on the National Points Race tab on the right of the main page or click here.

The National Points Race resumes in two weeks at the St. Mark’s Heart of Texas Invitational and the New York City Invitational.  Both of those tournaments are fifth tier tournaments, to the winner of each will receive forty points.  Extempers who reach    All of the competitors who reach the semi-final rounds of International and/or United States Extemp at St. Mark’s will earn a TOC qualifying leg.  The New York City Invitational is not a TOC qualifier.

R&D: Weekly Roundup for the Week of September 22nd-28th, 2014

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Here is our weekly survey of news stories to round out the week of September 22nd-28th, 2014.

 

R&D: The Russian Economy

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Today’s R&D covers the Russian economy.  Western sanctions are expected to significantly impact Russia’s economic fortunes next year, with some economists predicting a recession.  Yesterday, the World Bank announced that it expects Russia’s GDP growth to be minimal next year due to the sanctions and a lack of structural reforms.  Growth rates are expected to remain anemic in 2016.

 

Extemp Central News Quiz for the Week of September 22nd-28th, 2014

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quiz-01Here is this week’s Extemp Central news quiz.  Good luck!

To access a list of all our old quizzes, click here.

R&D: Medicaid & Medicaid Expansion

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Today’s R&D covers Medicaid, the federal program that provides health insurance coverage for poor Americans.  As part of the Affordable Care Act states were encouraged to expand Medicaid enrollment to those Americans makes less than 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).  The original legislation threatened to strip states of Medicaid funding if they refused expansion, but the Supreme Court found this provision to be unconstitutional.  The federal government is paying 100% of the cost of Medicaid expansion until 2017 and then pays for 90% of the costs until 2022.  Twenty states have opted not to expand Medicaid, with some governors citing concerns about the state costs of expanding the program in future years.

2014 Yale Invitational: Primack Wins Second National Circuit Title; Sapiro-Gheiler Finishes Runner-Up For the Second Straight Week

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yaleThis year’s edition of the Yale Invitational attracted one of the largest fields in tournament history as 124 extempers turned out for the second tournament on the 2014-2015 national circuit calendar. Jasper Primack of Newton South High School (MA) won the cumulative tournament, as well as his second national circuit championship, by three ranks over Eitan Sapiro-Gheiler of Durham Academy (NC). Primack, who won the George Mason University Patriot Games last season, is the first extemper from Newton South to win Yale. Primack will receive seventy National Points Race points for the win.

Sapiro-Gheiler finished runner-up at a National Points Race tournament for the second consecutive week. The last extemper to start the year with consecutive runner-up finishes was Nathaniel Donahue, also of Durham Academy, who went on to win the 2011 National Points Race.

Four of the extempers who reached the final round participated were finalists or semi-finalists at last year’s NSDA National Tournament. In addition to Primack, Josh Wartel of Lake Braddock Secondary School (VA), a two-time finalist in United States Extemp, finished third. Brian Anderson of LaRue County High School (KY), who placed fourteenth at last year’s NSDA Nationals in USX, finished fourth. And Vishal Narayanaswamy of James Madison Memorial High School (WI), who finished seventh in USX at last year’s NSDA, took fifth place.

Three of the finalists from Wake Forest found their way into the Yale final round as well. The winner of that tournament, Yijia Liang of Upper Arlington High School (OH), who entered Yale as the National Points Race leader finished sixth. Nathaniel Saffran of Trinity Preparatory School (FL), who took third at Wake Forest, ended the tournament in fifth place.

Ridge High School (NJ) had the largest number of outround participants, sending eight extempers into elimination rounds. However, the team failed to place an extemper in the final round.

According to the new qualification procedures of the Extemporaneous Speaking Tournament of Champions (TOC), all of the extempers that reached the quarter-final round and beyond earned qualifying legs. Thirteen extempers earned their first qualifying leg and four extempers – Sapiro-Gheiler, Saffran, Vaikunth Balaji of Ridge High School, and Brian Min of Trinity Preparatory – earned their second TOC qualifying leg and become the first at-large qualifiers of the 2014-2015 season.  The extempers who earned a TOC qualifying leg are indicated in italics in the resulting listing below. The next Extemp TOC qualifying tournament will take place in three weeks at the Crestian Tradition in Weston, Florida.

Here are the results of the 2014 Yale Invitational (Click here for tab sheet):

The Case for Catalan Independence

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Although the Scottish independence referendum failed last week, the cloud of secession still looms over Europe.  Catalonia, a region located in Northeastern Spain, is pushing for an independence referendum.  Catalans view their culture as separate from that of the larger Spanish state and the country’s economic problems have led growing numbers of Catalans to conclude that they would be better off if they went their own way.  A day after the Scottish independence referendum failed, Catalonia’s regional parliament authorized Catalan President Artur Mas to call a “consultation” (a fancy name for a referendum) on independence.  The Spanish government, headed by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, says that a Catalan independence vote would violate the Spanish Constitution and they have vowed a legal challenge to the measure.  Since the Catalan secession issue might drag out for the remainder of the year, extempers should be prepared to talk about the subject at tournaments.

This topic brief will provide some background on the Catalan independence movement, cover recent events driving the push for a referendum, and discuss some scenarios for where the Catalan independence movement might go in the aftermath of the Scottish failure to secure independence.

Readers are also encouraged to use the links below and in the related R&D to bolster their files about this topic.

R&D: The Case for Catalan Independence

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Here is today’s premium R&D to accompany today’s premium topic brief on the case for Catalan independence.

 

 

HotTopics: International Extemp Questions for the Week of September 22nd-28th, 2014

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HOTtopics1. Will Justin Trudeau and the Liberals win the next Canadian parliamentary election?
2. Is the Awami League undermining judicial independence in Bangladesh?
3. Will al-Qaeda’s plan to create a South Asian branch fail?
4. Does Australia need tougher anti-terrorism laws?
5. Is the Panamian government following a midguided policy to rein in gang violence?
6. How can Alonso Segura improve the Peruvian economy?
7. Are investors too optimistic about Alibaba?
8. Will 2015 be a bad year for the Russian economy?
9. What effect will the failure of the Scottish independence referendum have on the rest of Europe’s separatist movements?
10. Has the WHO mishandled the Ebola threat?

HotTopics: United States Extemp Questions for the Week of September 22nd-28th, 2014

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HOTtopics1. Should more states expand Medicaid?
2. What is the state of state economies?
3. Will federal college ratings rein in tuition?
4. How can Pat Roberts save his Senate seat?
5. Should Washington D.C. be given statehood?
6. How might a Republican takeover of the Senate in 2014 affect President Obama’s judicial appointments?
7. Should Iowa continue to be the first state on the presidential primary calendar?
8. Is Joe Biden a detriment to the Democratic Party?
9. Are Republican chances of winning the Senate decreasing?
10. Is it wise for the U.S. to send troops to West Africa to combat Ebola?

R&D: Weekly Roundup for the Week of September 15th-21st, 2014

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Here is our weekly survey of news stories to round out the week of September 15th-21st, 2014.

Good luck to all of the extempers competing at the Yale Invitational this weekend!

 

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