Each of these topics comes in the form of a question that students can react to immediately; hence they make excellent prompts for on-demand, in-class, timed essays. At the same time, any of them could be used as a springboard for a fully developed research paper, one requiring time spent exploring--and documenting--support for the writer's position. They also make excellent topics for informative or persuasive speeches that you might assign.
One of the guiding criteria for this list is that it be relevant to a broad cross section of today's high school students. Even your most reluctant writers will find they have an opinion on most of these topics. Another benefit of the list is that you, the teacher, can choose any one of the topics and turn it into an impromptu writing assignment. In that case, this list will easily provide you with a whole year's worth of topics. Or you can choose two or three, or more--give them the whole list if you think they could use it! In this case, you've given your students a choice--which they always appreciate.
If you do end up using the topics as part of a research assignment, you might consider another item from Tim's Tool Box: How to Write a Thesis Statement for a Research Paper on a Controversial Issue. They make good companions.