This Week in Words: January 5 - 11, 2019

January 10, 2019
We’ve rounded up the top words heard, read, and discussed in the news this week. Take a look back at the week that was, vocabulary style.
The second-longest government shutdown in history continues, and talks to reach an agreement that would reopen the government stalled when President Trump stormed out of a meeting in what Democratic leaders are labeling “a temper tantrum.” The President is reportedly considering declaring a national emergency to free up money that he can use to build the border wall he wants, and then he would presumably agree to the spending bill that would reopen the government.
The afternoon altercation came after President Trump appeared to rally nervous Senate Republicans around his strategy to keep parts of the government closed until Democrats accede to his demand for $5.7 billion for a border wall.
- The New York Times (Jan 9, 2019)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on a tour of middle eastern nations. After President Trump announced his plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, other countries are looking for assurances that America is committed to its other ongoing military missions in the region. Consternation is a good word to describe the reaction of American allies because the unexpected announcement caused worry and confusion.
Secretary of state is on an eight-day tour amid consternation among allies that the U.S. is pulling out of the region.
- The Wall Street Journal (Jan 9, 2019)
President Trump delivered his first televised address from the Oval Office to make a case for the wall he wants built on America’s southern border. Democratic leaders responded to the speech by emphasizing the importance of border security in general, but objecting to building a wall in particular.
But he excoriated Democrats for blocking the wall, accusing them of hypocrisy and exposing the country to criminal immigrants.
- The New York Times (Jan 8, 2019)
New evidence came to light suggesting that some individuals in the Trump campaign shared information with Russia. The testimony given by Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, revealed that polling data was given to a man with ties to a Russian intelligence agency. Hoary in this context refers to the writer’s opinion that repeated statements from the White House that there was “no collusion” are getting old.
One of the White House’s hoariest talking points as various former Trump advisers have been convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice by Mueller’s office is that none of the criminal behavior being prosecuted involved “collusion” with Russia.
- Slate (Jan 8, 2019)
We all know that plants take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, but now researchers at the University of Washington have genetically modified certain plants to remove benzene, chloroform, and other chemicals harmful to humans from the air. These chemicals are often found in industrial areas and can seep into nearby communities. The plants take in the chemicals and convert them into substances they can use to benefit their own growth.
Most people don’t want to live in a home filled with airborne chemicals – which is why these researchers came up with an ingenious way of cleansing indoor spaces of contaminants.
- Good News Network (Jan 9, 2019)
Some 200 years after they were last seen on the island, iguanas have returned to Santiago Park in the Galapagos. Darwin chronicled the life forms of the Galapagos in exacting detail, and the iguana is one of the species he discusses at length. Invasive, non-native predators that feed on the iguana, like feral pigs and rats, have been removed from the park so that the indigenous reptile can thrive there again.
Galapagos National Park Director Jorge Carrión lauded the ecological achievement on Twitter as “great news for Galápagos, for Ecuador, and the world.”
- Good News Network (Jan 8, 2019)
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expected to resign when the President’s new choice for Attorney General is confirmed by the Senate. As Deputy Attorney General, Rosenstein oversees Special Counsel Mueller’s Russia investigation.
A few months into his new job, Mr. Rosenstein found himself thrust into the middle of a political maelstrom that would permeate his entire tenure as deputy attorney general.
- The New York Times (Jan 9, 2019)
Brett Kavanaugh authored his first opinion as a Supreme Court Justice this week. The ruling on the case, which involved arbitration, was unanimous. Traditionally, Supreme Court Justices write their first opinions on less controversial cases when all the judges agree, like this one.
The decision, which united the court's conservatives and liberals, also showcased Kavanaugh's predilection for following the text of statutes and the precedents of the Supreme Court.
- USA Today (Jan 8, 2019)
The richest man in the world is getting a divorce. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie announced on Twitter that they will end their 25-year marriage. The couple has been together since before Bezos created the company that has grown to provide him a personal worth of $160 billion. The Bezos' live in a state where any wealth created during a marriage is split 50/50 in a divorce unless a prenuptial agreement says otherwise.
Since then, Bezos became the world's richest man and supplanting Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Forbes' annual list of the 400 richest Americans three months ago, with his net worth rising to $160 billion, up from $81.5 billion a year ago.
- USA Today (Jan 9, 2019)
There may be some hope for an end to the trade war between China and the United States. Preliminary hearings between the two nations on small issues have gone well, and this may set the stage for more substantive negotiations down the line. Insiders stress that they are at the beginning of a very delicate process, and that too much enthusiasm at this point is unwarranted. Still, any progress in the trade talks are being taken as a sign of positive things to come.
But they cautioned that the two teams hadn’t yet made a breakthrough and more discussions are needed to resolve a trade fight that has unnerved global markets.
- The Wall Street Journal (Jan 9, 2019)

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