WORD LISTS

This Week In Words: October 12–18, 2019

October 16, 2019
This week's news was chock full of exciting words from stories about wildfires, floods, impeachment, and more calamities. Learn them all while you can, because at this rate a sharknado could be right around the corner.
calamitous
Typhoon Hagibis hit Japan hard last week, causing massive flooding and property damage. Even the mighty bullet trains, emblems of Japan's technological prowess, were crippled by the floods. A calamity is a terrible event, a tragedy. It originates in Latin, where calamus refers to the stalk of food crops and their loss due to blight or weather would have been rightly seen as a disaster.
Experts say they also instill a false sense of security in a country inured to danger by the constant threat of calamitous earthquakes, tsunami and volcanos.
Washington Times (Oct 15, 2019)
caper
Former Massachusetts Governor and current Republican Presidential candidate Bill Weld said in an interview that the impeachment inquiry begun in the House of Representatives should proceed. He citied the Ukraine scandal and the ongoing accusations that the President continues to violate the constitution by profiting from his office, saying that the Founding Fathers were especially fearful of these two possible circumstances as threats to American independence and sovereignty.
"Those seem to be implicated by the Ukraine caper," he said.
Fox News (Oct 15, 2019)
emolument
An appeals court agreed to rehear arguments in a case brought against the President for receiving payments, specifically for rooms in his hotel in Washington, from foreign leaders while in office. This violates what's known as the Emolument Clause of the Constitution.
The brief order set oral arguments before a full panel of judges for Dec. 12 and essentially gives the novel lawsuit, which tests the anti-corruption emoluments provisions of the Constitution, a second chance.
Washington Post (Oct 15, 2019)
fractious
As India works to consolidate its control of Jammu and Kashmir, militants opposing Hindu rule in the majority-Muslim province are attacking civilians. Their goal is to prevent life from returning to normal after phone service has been switched back on and people try to keep businesses open.
Militants are terrorizing civilians in the fractious Kashmir Valley, hoping to bring life there to a halt in protest of India’s dramatic reorganizing of the region.
New York Times (Oct 15, 2019)
gumption
Since the departure from the White House of some senior foreign policy and defense advisors, the author argues that there is nobody left in the White House to talk the President out of doing lasting damage to our global reputation by, in this case, pulling our troops out of Syria and letting Turkey, Russia, and Iran (and ISIS) slug it out for control there. Gumption is an old-fashioned sounding word that's worth keeping alive. We wouldn't want it to go the way of "consarn it!"
Now all of those advisers are gone, and their replacements lack either the clout or the gumption to push back.
Slate (Oct 14, 2019)
illicit
Members of Congress from both parties are pushing a bill that would impose sanctions on Turkey after its invasion of Northern Syria last week. The President's executive order punishing Turkey was widely seen as much too weak, so this bill would increase the penalties, especially against banks and the military. Illicit comes from the Latin illicitus, which means "not allowed".
“Halkbank’s systemic participation in the illicit movement of billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil revenue was designed and executed by senior bank officials,” a justice department statement said.
Guardian (Oct 15, 2019)
insular
Facebook's recent decision to allow politicians to lie in the ads they run on that platform has cause a lot of blowback. Elizabeth Warren's campaign ran a knowingly false ad in protest, and critics (including this author, who changed his previous opinion) say that spreading misinformation for profit — which helps lies go viral — is indefensible and outweighs any free speech issues. Nobody has yet suggested removing the "k" from the "like" button, changing it to "lie".
See also its useful description of the insular culture of “inner YouTube.”
The Verge (Oct 15, 2019)
rhetoric
Twelve Democratic candidates for President debated Tuesday night in Ohio. Elizabeth Warren, now widely viewed as the frontrunner, took some heat from others on the stage who were looking to boost their own chances by taking her down a notch or two. But overall observers agreed that she handled herself well. Rhetoric originates in Greek and refers to language used specifically to convince others of something. A rhetorical question is asked for effect, not requiring an answer.
For the most part, Warren weathered these attacks with patience, grace, and an agility in her rhetoric that rivals that of a gymnast on a balance beam.
Guardian (Oct 16, 2019)
vegetation
The Saddle Ridge Fire outside L.A. originated beneath power lines, but the exact cause is not yet known. Many such fires in the past have been started by trees touching power lines. Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to almost 2 million California residents in the days before the fire, citing the increased risk. This decision caused a metaphorical firestorm of criticism, and the troubled utility is under a huge amount of pressure to upgrade its infrastructure.
After several deadly blazes in the past two years have been blamed on trees and vegetation hitting power lines and other causes involving electrical equipment, utilities have been given authority to shut off power when fire risk is extremely high.
Seattle Times (Oct 14, 2019)
waiver
The American woman who hit and killed a motorcyclist with her car in the U.K. and then returned to the U.S., citing diplomatic immunity. The case has created significant tension between the two countries as Britons demand that she be returned for questioning. She has said that she'll answer questions, but so far is unwilling to go back.
Britain made a formal request for a waiver of diplomatic immunity to the United States Embassy in London on Sept. 5.
New York Times (Oct 13, 2019)

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