This Week in Words: July 13–19, 2019

July 16, 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.
Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens died this week at the age of 99. Stevens was appointed to the Court in 1975 by President Gerald Ford and retired in 2010. When you describe someone as ardent about something, you are describing how passionate they are about their interests or beliefs.
Justice Stevens, a low-key Republican from Chicago, was as surprised as anyone to find himself not only taking the liberal side but also becoming its ardent champion.
- The New York Times (July 16, 2019)
The outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been officially designated as an international public health emergency by the World Health Organization. So far the virus has killed almost 1700 people. One of the centers of the outbreak is the city of Goma. Experts fear that because Goma is a travel hub right on the border with Rwanda, the virus is highly likely to spread to other African nations.
This is the fifth time the WHO has declared the spread of a disease to be a “public health emergency of international concern,” a designation that signals risk that a disease could spread internationally. It is intended to corral political and financial support to stop it.
- The Wall Street Journal (July 17, 2019)
The competition for campaign donations in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is heating up. After her debate performance last month, Kamala Harris saw a spike in contributions and raised the most money last quarter, but her lead is slim. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has also been raising a lot of money and is just behind Harris in the money race. The next Democratic debates will be held on July 30th and 31st. A dividend is a gain, a positive result.
A bold performance at the first debate last month appeared to pay dividends for Harris with a late spike to close the reporting period.
- The LA Times (July 16, 2019)
A Connecticut pawn shop owner has repaired and given away almost 600 motorized wheelchairs to people in need. Philip Pavone wants to continue his mission, and a GoFundMe page has been established to help him do just that. To empathize is to identify with someone else’s feelings, particularly when they are in a tough situation.
As a Vietnam veteran and cancer survivor who deeply empathized with the letters he received, Pavone decided to take action. First, he bought, repaired, and gave away four more used wheelchairs. It was during this process that he realized how many of them were sitting in basements and garages, unused or broken—and he began asking people to donate them, so he could repair them and give them away.
- Good News Network (July 17, 2019)
This July marks the 50th Anniversary the first human landing on the moon. President Kennedy promised in 1961 that The United States would put a man on the moon before the end of the 1960s, and it took determination and ingenuity to fulfill that promise. Many commemorative celebrations are planned around the anniversary of this monumental scientific and human achievement.
A desperate president who set an ambitious deadline to reach the moon. A Cold War rival whose technological edge in space prodded Americans into action. The unsparing ingenuity of U.S. scientists and industry to overcome long odds.
- USA Today (July 17, 2019)
A church in Florida’s Volusia County area is paying off the medical bills for sixty-five hundred families. The church is also funding three foster homes with the money it raised. This act of charity was modeled on similar relief efforts by churches in Kansas and Michigan.
They used a New York charity, RIP Medical Debt, which buys the debt for just pennies on the dollar, to leverage the money’s impact—and ended up wiping out $7.2 million of unpaid medical bills.
- Good News Network (July 16, 2019)
Tensions in the standoff between Iran and the United States escalated this week. The U.S. shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway vital for the shipment of oil. This followed the Iranian seizure of a tanker of unknown origin, The Riah. These incidents follow President Trump’s authorization and subsequent cancellation of strategic military strikes against Iran. In this case opaque means unclear or hard to understand.
The Riah’s movements—and its ownership—are opaque. The ship’s registered owners, Prime Tankers LLC, said it sold the vessel last year to another company called Moj Al Bahar in Dubai.
- The Wall Street Journal (July 18, 2019)
For the first time in eight years, Netflix lost subscribers in the last fiscal quarter. The company is blaming recent price increases for the loss of subscribers. The network hopes that the return of some of their most popular shows, like season three of Stranger Things, will prevent this from becoming a trend. In this context, robust means strong and solid.
Netflix said it will have a more robust content slate in the third quarter to attract more subscribers, forecasting 7 million paid net adds and revenue of $5.25 billion.
- USA Today (July 18, 2019)
The House Antitrust Subcommittee held a hearing this week to examine the possibility of more oversight of large technology companies such as Facebook and Google. Congress is worried that these tech giants suppress competition and wield too much power in the marketplace. Democratic Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has campaigned on a proposal to break up the big tech firms for similar reasons.
Concerns about the power of the major technology companies echoed across the nation’s capital on Tuesday, with politicians in both parties demanding more regulatory scrutiny of the tech giants’ reach and plans for expansion.
- The Wall Street Journal (July 16, 2019)
The House of Representatives has held Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for their lack of cooperation during the investigation into a citizenship question on the 2020 census. After the Supreme Court rejected Ross' reason for adding the question, the Trump administration decided to drop the issue for now. It is unclear how the House will enforce the contempt citation.
Democrats said Wednesday that their investigation would continue regardless, in an effort to vindicate Congress’s oversight authority and potentially neuter future attempts to discourage participation by noncitizens in the census.
- The New York Times (July 17, 2019)

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