WORD LISTS

This Week In Words: Current Events Vocab for October 24–30, 2020

October 28, 2020
Stories about the worsening pandemic, the closing days of the Presidential campaign, and big tech under scrutiny all contributed words to this week's list of vocabulary from the week's news.
assumption
The stock market fell sharply amid continued uncertainty about the election and numbers that show the pandemic is getting significantly worse in many parts of the country. The travel industry was especially hard hit, as were tech companies.
“The concept that ... it’s going to disappear is just a faulty assumption.”
Reuters (Oct 28, 2020)
callous
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer responded to the President's remarks about her at a recent rally. When the crowd started chanting "lock her up" after he mentioned her, he said that the plot by white nationalist extremists to kidnap the governor was "maybe... a problem, maybe it wasn't." The governor blamed the President for encouraging the plot against her, and for the many death threats she has received.
To underplay "what is the most serious plan to hurt a governor in our nation I think shows an incredibly callous approach to looking at everything through a lens of what does it mean for himself, as opposed to what it means for the good of our country, the health of our people and the welfare of our democracy," Whitmer said.
CBS News (Oct 28, 2020)
dysfunction
The identity of "Anonymous," author of a best-selling 2019 book critical of the Trump administration, was revealed to be Miles Taylor, former chief of staff for the Department of Homeland Security. In a statement, Taylor called on his fellow Republicans to vote for Joe Biden. The President and other officials were harshly critical of the book when it came out, and rejected its claims.
Writing under the pen name "Anonymous," Taylor authored a 2018 newspaper column and 2019 book that attacked Trump's leadership and described utter dysfunction within his administration.
USA Today (Oct 28, 2020)
hooligan
As Europe sees a dramatic rise in Covid-19 infection rates, countries in the region are imposing restrictions on public gatherings, including bars and restaurants, and reinstating mask mandates and curfews. Scientists say the increase is due to colder weather, which brings people indoors, and to what they're calling "pandemic fatigue," where people are tired of distancing and other precautions which keep the virus from spreading.
In Italy, where the Lombardy and Campania regionals are hardest hit, officials have accused right-wing extremists, soccer hooligans and anarchists of using widespread malcontent over new anti-virus restrictions on restaurants, gyms, pools and theaters as a pretext to wage “urban guerrilla” violence during recent protests.
AP (Oct 28, 2020)
hypothermia
At a Trump campaign rally in Omaha, supporters were shuttled on buses from parking lots four miles away to attend the event at Eppley Airfield. However, no buses arrived after the event to bring people back to their cars. Some attendees had to be treated by medical personnel for hypothermia — which means "below temperature" in Greek — a dangerous condition where a person's core temperature drops due to prolonged exposure to cold air or water.
Backers of President Donald Trump were left stranded overnight, with several taken to hospital for hypothermia after an Omaha campaign rally ended in chaos.
Newsweek (Oct 28, 2020)
opt
As tech CEOs testify before Congress, a study shows that Facebook radicalizes its users more than some other platforms. This appears to be because of the company's algorithm for promoting posts; the ones that get the most engagement — likes and comments — get seen by more people. Because controversial or anger-inspiring political posts tend to get a lot of comments, these posts end up being some of the most widely viewed.
Our analysis traces four years of visits made to social media platforms (Facebook, Reddit and Twitter) and online news sites by nearly 200,000 typical U.S. Internet users, using data from an opt-in consumer panel.
– Washington Post (Oct 26, 2020)
perturbed
Methane, a greenhouse gas 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, is beginning to bubble up from the ocean floor off the Siberian coast. Scientists say that if the climate continues to warm, the release of this methane will accelerate warming dramatically. And since the Arctic is warming twice as fast as other parts of the planet, they're concerned that warmer water will cause more and more methane to be released.
This East Siberian slope methane hydrate system has been perturbed and the process will be ongoing,” said the Swedish scientist Örjan Gustafsson, of Stockholm University, in a satellite call from the vessel.
Guardian (Oct 27, 2020)
reap
Recorded interviews that the President's son-in-law Jared Kushner gave back in April and May were released to the public. In them, Kushner says that the U.S. was at the beginning of what he called the "comeback phase" of the pandemic. He also spoke about how he thought the President was smart to leave the pandemic response to governors, because then Trump could take credit for the reopening but blame the governors for any failures.
In his April 18 interview, Kushner described how he believed Trump had set himself up to reap the political benefits of a successful containment of the virus while ensuring that state governors, and not the President, would be blamed for any failure to stop the spread.
CNN (Oct 28, 2020)
relent
The Senate Commerce Committee questioned the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook, and Google about their content moderation practices. Senators wanted to know how they dealt with hate speech and disinformation, and whether they showed favoritism in the posts they took down versus those they allowed to remain. The Justice Department is suing Google for antitrust violations, and is expected to charge Facebook next month.
Facebook and Twitter limited the spread of the article — with Twitter initially blocking links outright before relenting — out of concern about the origins of the information.
Washington Post (Oct 28, 2020)
strenuous
Some Republican Senators are reportedly discussing plans to counter possible efforts by the President to dispute or ignore an election loss on November 3. The President has repeatedly said that he would not commit to accept the election results, or to a peaceful transfer of power in January. To call something strenuous — like a workout — is to say that it's as much as you can take, pushing your maximum tolerance for exertion and effort.
I think he’s been very strenuous about telling people around him that he intends to use every tool at his command to see that there is no way that the Democrats and Joe Biden can win this election,” he said.
Daily News (Oct 27, 2020)

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