This Week In Words: June 27–July 3, 2020

June 30, 2020
Stories about new laws in Russia and China and more political and pandemic news in the U.S. contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
Voters appear to have supported changes to the Russian constitution, though the fairness of Russian elections has been in question for years. Among other new rules, the changes will allow President Vladimir Putin to remain in office until 2036. He has been President for 20 years so far. Opponents of the new constitution say it's a transparent move by Putin to make himself President for life.
Protecting the "historical truth" of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) and banning any " belittling" of the feats of those who fought.
BBC (July 1, 2020)
The President denies being briefed about a Russian operation that offered money to the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. The U.S. intelligence agencies say that they first knew about the plan last year, and that the information was given to the President.
Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said he had “confirmed that neither the President nor the Vice President were ever briefed on any intelligence” related to a Russian bounty, and that all news reports “about an alleged briefing are inaccurate.”
Washington Post (June 27, 2020)
Strong winds out of Africa continued to bring huge clouds of Saharan dust across the Atlantic to the Gulf Coast. It's a frequent occurrence, though the winds are at a lower than normal altitude so the dust is more noticeable. It presents a risk to people with breathing issues, and can make the air appear hazy for long periods. But the news is not all bad; the dust can make sunsets more dramatic, and it lowers the likelihood of hurricanes forming.
“The lack of moisture and increased winds are not conducive for tropical storm development.”
USA Today (June 29, 2020)
Pensions and Investment Research Consultants (PIRC), a prominent London-based advisory firm, is encouraging Tesla shareholders to remove Elon Musk from the company's board of directors. Musk has a history of controversial statements and actions, and most recently the announcement of a gigantic bonus package — that could pay Musk over $55 billion — has sparked outrage. PIRC says that the board is "enriching themselves at the company's expense."
Last year Musk was sued for $190m in defamation damages over derogatory tweets about the British caver Vernon Unsworth, who was helping to rescue 13 people trapped in a Thai cave.
Guardian (June 30, 2020)
The Center for Disease Control's deputy director Dr. Anne Schuchat said that the coronavirus is spreading too quickly in too many areas to be effectively contained or controlled. Because of the huge surge in infections following many states reopening and the lack of sufficient testing and tracking, she said that it looks likely that this new phase marks the beginning of a period that will prove to be much more serious than the spring was.
While the outbreaks in New Zealand, South Korea and Singapore have been of different magnitudes and followed different trajectories, officials in all three countries now quickly respond to every new infection in order to stamp out what remains of the outbreak, Schuchat said.
CNBC (June 29, 2020)
House Democrats passed a bill that would make health insurance and medicines more affordable for many Americans, as well as cutting funding for states that refuse to expand Medicare coverage. Republicans said that the bill has no chance of passing the Senate, and the White House moved to join some of those states in court to have the entire Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, declared unconstitutional.
Democrats pushed a package expanding “Obamacare” coverage through the House on Monday, a measure that’s doomed to advance no further but spotlights how the coronavirus pandemic and President Donald Trump’s efforts to obliterate that law have fortified health care’s potency as a 2020 campaign issue.
AP (June 29, 2020)
After weeks of demonstrations, extensive evidence shows that Black Lives Matter protests did not cause an increase in Covid-19 cases. Because the demonstrations were outdoors, and because the vast majority of participants wore masks, the infection did not spread. The states experiencing rapid increases in Covid-19 are those that allowed bars and other public venues to reopen without restrictions.
One third of protesting cities saw large-scale gatherings with 1,000 or more attendees, making those particular regions more susceptible to another outbreak.
Economist (June 30, 2020)
Former George W. Bush administration officials formed a political action committee called 43 Alumni for Biden. The group will raise money to support the Biden campaign and create pro-Biden videos featuring Republicans who are opposed to President Trump explaining why and how they think he's a danger to the United States. The former President is not involved in the group.
It plans to release “ testimonial videos” praising Biden from high-profile Republicans and will hold get-out-the-vote efforts in the most competitive states.
Reuters (July 1, 2020)
The mayor of Seattle ordered police to clear out the "Capitol Hill Occupied Protest" zone, or CHOP, downtown. Officers in riot gear cleared out tents and other gear from the area that had been occupied by Black Lives Matter protestors and activists. Vacate comes from the Latin verb vacare, meaning "to be empty." It's the root of several English words like vacuum, evacuate, and even vacation.
The move came after Seattle’s mayor, Jenny Durkan, issued an emergency executive order for protesters to vacate the area and declaring the gathering an “unlawful assembly”.
Guardian (July 1, 2020)
The new Chinese security law covering Hong Kong went into effect. The law cracks down on demonstrations, dissent, and any form of organizing against the government in Beijing. Concerns about the law have caused many activists and bookstore owners to delete social media posts or accounts, as many fear that freedom of the press and the rule of law will come under serious attack as a result of the change.
The law was designed to stamp out the anti-government demonstrations that have wracked the semiautonomous territory for more than a year.
New York Times (July 1, 2020)

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