This Week in Words: September 14–20, 2019

September 16, 2019
From caustic substances to ominous skies, here's a collection of current events and the words that describe them. Take a look back at the week that was, vocabulary style.
Hong Kong protesters are continuing their fight for democracy. The protests, which have shut down the Hong Kong airport and caused other major disruptions, have been going on for fifteen weeks. This year, the Mid Autumn Festival, which is usually a time of mooncakes and lion dances, is a time of protest. The protests won’t stop until the allegations, or formal accusations, against the government are investigated.
Protesters have vowed to continue the unrest until the government responds to more of their key demands, including an investigation into allegations of police brutality and the resumption of long-stalled political reform.
— CNN (sep 14, 2019)
As lawmakers debate the details of a spending bill that will help American farmers affected by Trump’s trade war with China, House Democrats have sought to block the bail-out because it would cost the government too much and possibly cause a government shutdown in October. They are now working on a short-term spending bill. People briefed on the discussion weren’t actually there, they just got the story from people who were.
House Democrats, amid a backlash from moderates, are backing away from a plan to block President Trump from extending new farm bailout funds, people briefed on the discussions said.
— Washington Post (Sep 16, 2019)
Vaping is in the hot seat after hundreds of people have fallen ill from vaping-related lung injuries. At least six people have died. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has urged people to quit using e-cigarettes and other kinds of vaping until further research into the long-term effects can be done. Although pitched as a safe alternative to smoking, vaping caustic, or corrosive, chemicals doesn’t seem much better.
Doctors say the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the body apparently reacting to a caustic substance that someone breathed in.
— Fox News Channel (Sep 15, 2019)
Drones attacked and set fire to two major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia that are responsible for 70% of the country’s crude oil. After the fires, the oil company shut down half of its oil output. The facilities process crude oil and send it to refineries. Crude oil is the same thing as petroleum, and that’s what processed and used to fuel cars and heat houses. Oil prices will most likely rise because of this.
The shutdown would amount to a loss of about 5 million barrels a day, the Journal said, quoting its source, or roughly 5% of the world's daily production of crude oil. — USA Today (Sep 14, 2019)
Saudi Arabia blames Iran for a drone attack that caused a partial shutdown of two major oil facilities. Iran denies it. Yemen rebels have claimed responsibility in retaliation to Saudi Arabia’s role in the civil war in Yemen. These violent gambits are like a terrible game of chess in the Middle East. Making a gambit is like making a little sacrifice for a greater good.
The attack on Saudi oil facilities is the latest, most violent, example of an escalating series of gambits rival powers in the Gulf aimed at achieving their objectives by all measures short of all-out war.
— The Guardian (Sep 16, 2019)
The latest Democratic debate revealed ideological differences as the politicians argue to determine who to put on the ballot to defeat Trump in the next presidential election. Some of the biggest differences are regarding health care, gun control, and even age. Although many Democrats share an ideology, or set of beliefs, the presidential hopefuls are trying to stand out from each other by highlighting their ideological differences.
Thursday's encounter in Houston exposed ideological, personal and policy divisions between the candidates that offer clues about how the Democratic race will unfold from now on.
— CNN (Sep 14, 2019)
A building exploded in Farmington, Maine this week. A worker in the building reported a propane smell, and when the first responders got there, the building exploded. The fire chief died, and many people were injured as a result. The explosion shook nearby houses. The reason for the explosion is under investigation. Even though it was most likely an accident, it’s always an ominous scene when a building explodes.
"The scene was very ominous," he said. "There was still insulation falling from the sky like a gentle snow and first responders were running around trying to administer first aid and locate the missing chief."
— CNN (sep 14, 2019)
For the first time since 2007, the United Automobile Workers union went on strike to demand that General Motors reopen idle plants and to protest the fact that General Motors wants workers to pay more for health care. This year more workers have gone to the picket lines in protest than any year since the 1980s. The word picket can be the act of protesting or striking, or the person picketing can be called a picket.
The United Automobile Workers union went on strike at General Motors, sending nearly 50,000 members at factories across the Midwest and South to picket lines on Monday morning.
— The New York Times (Sep 16, 2019)
There were so many dragonflies swarming around Virginia that meteorologists saw them on the weather radar. It’s unusual because dragonflies don’t normally travel together, but weather changes might have something to do with the unusual behavior. A swarm of dragonflies was probably a little easier to handle than the swarm of mayflies that hit the Ohio this summer, or the grasshopper swarm in Las Vegas that looked like a storm.
Ohio State University entomology professor Norman Johnson told CNN that although weather conditions can cause the traveling insects to swarm, it is not a regular occurrence.
— USA Today (Sep 16, 2019)
Yes, it’s That Wall. Construction of the wall between Mexico and the United States has begun in Arizona. It’s being built in the Organ Pipe Cactus national monument, one of the most biologically diverse places in the United States, which includes animals on the endangered list. This is just one of the federally protected areas in the U.S. that the wall is being built on. In this case, the wall will traverse, or go all the way across, the southern edge.
In the face of protests by environmental groups, the wall will traverse the entirety of the southern edge of the monument.
— The Guardian (Sep 14, 2019)

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