Loujain al-Hathloul, a Saudi Arabian women's rights
activist, was sentenced to five years in prison for "harming national security" and "advancing a foreign agenda." She has been in prison since her arrest in 2018, which came shortly before the government allowed women to drive cars — one of the issues she fought for. Her family says that she has been tortured and harassed in custody, and is innocent of all the charges.
Naturalists are looking at a number of sites in the San Francisco bay as possible areas for sea otter repopulation. A total of about 3,000 of the threatened creatures, widely known to be among the cutest of all animals, live in
estuaries along the California coast but their numbers have not increased in recent years. Ecologists are hopeful that large, shallow parts of the north bay might provide excellent habitat for otters.
Archaeologists excavating the Roman city of Pompeii, which was buried in a volcanic eruption in 79 C.E., unearthed a food stall with beautiful
frescoes depicting live and dead birds, people, and horses. The shop, known as a termopolium, sold street food out of ceramic pots sunk into a concrete counter that was heated from below. Traces of pork, beef, snails, and fish were found in the containers.
Fresco means "fresh" in Italian, because the technique uses paint mixed with wet plaster.
The LeBron James Family Foundation announced plans to build a community
hub in downtown Akron, Ohio, the basketball superstar's hometown. House Three-Thirty will offer job training programs, financial and other counseling services, a sports complex, and a food court with dining areas. The opening is scheduled for 2022.
Hub is of unknown origin, though it probably comes from a regional English dialect.
Studies show signs that
immunity to Covid-19 may last for years after contracting the disease. This is good news, especially if the vaccines provide similar protection. Some people appear to have caught the virus more than once, but for the most part re-infection appears to be extremely rare. "Immunis" means "exempt from taxation" in Latin, and that sense of being protected carried over into its use as a medical term.
The actress Lori Loughlin was released after serving two months in federal prison for her part in the conspiracy to get her daughters admitted to the University of Southern California under false pretenses. Her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, is still
incarcerated. The couple was among a number of other high-profile parents involved in a scheme to bribe college officials and fake sports achievements in an effort to make the students more attractive to schools.
After threatening to veto it unless Congress raised the individual benefit from $600 to $2000, President Trump signed the pandemic relief bill without that change. Congressional Democrats moved immediately to pass a separate piece of
legislation increasing the checks to $2000, but Senate Republicans blocked it. "Legis" is a form of the Latin word for "law" that you can also see in "legal."
A number of new electric cars will be available in 2021, including some from new companies. Rivian will be launching their R1T pickup, with an SUV to follow, and
Lucid will release the Air sedan. The Air, designed to compete with Tesla's flagship Model S, will have up to 517 miles of range and as much as 800 horsepower.
Lucid comes from the Latin "lucidus," meaning "to shine."
"Wolfwalkers," the most recent film from the Irish studio Cartoon Saloon, is the third installment in their trilogy based on Celtic mythology. This movie, which features a group of
lycanthropes who help a young girl fight an evil ruler, was made using hand-drawn animation rather than computers. Despite being over one hundred years old, the technique has a timeless quality that many critics say ages better than digital animations, which can quickly look outdated.
A man blew himself up in an RV parked in downtown Nashville, causing severe damage to several blocks and breaking windows in a large area. The
motive for the attack is till unclear, but authorities are working to understand the bomber's goal in causing such devastation. "Motivum" is Latin for "impulse," "reason," or "cause."
The Associated Press awarded Naomi Osaka its Female Athlete of the Year, citing her athletic achievements — including winning the U.S. Open and climbing to number three in the world — and her
outspoken activism off the court. Osaka used her global fame to address issues of racism and police brutality, wearing a visor with a different police shooting victim's name on it for each round of the Open.
The House of Representatives voted to
override the President's veto of the defense policy bill, and the Senate is poised to do the same. A two-thirds majority in both houses is required. If the Senate votes the way the House did, as many expect it to, it will be the first veto
override of the Trump presidency.
The President has the ability to grant
pardons, freeing people from prison and preventing them from receiving further punishment for crimes listed in the document. President Trump
pardoned 41 people in the last couple of weeks, including a number of high-profile members of his campaign who were found guilty of lying to the FBI or Congress or financial crimes.
Pardon is Old French for the act of forgiving an offense.
A small number of Covid-19 patients develop severe mental symptoms, including
psychotic episodes that resemble extreme paranoia or schizophrenia. Doctors have no explanation yet for how the disease causes these problems in people who mostly experienced mild symptoms while they were sick. "Psyche" means "mind" or "spirit" in Greek, and you'll see that root in related words like "psychology."
A dozen new
species have been discovered in the depths of the Atlantic ocean. Mollusks, mosses, corals and other previously plants and animals were identified by robotic submarines patrolling the ocean floor around 2,000 feet deep, where the pressure would crush human divers. Many of the discoveries took place near thermal vents, where volcanic activity below the sea floor heats water and pumps it full of nutrients that nourish whole ecosystems.
Medical experts warned that another
surge in infections would follow the Christmas holiday, when many people traveled to visit family and loved ones. Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that holiday travel and gatherings, including New Year's parties, would result in "a
surge upon a
surge," since infection rates had already jumped dramatically after Thanksgiving. "Surgere" is a Latin verb meaning "to rise."
The Nashville bombing took place outside an AT&T
transmission facility, causing a major outage of Internet and cellular service in the area. Authorities are unsure whether this was one of the bomber's objectives. The company used portable cell sites and other measures to restore service within a few days and waived data overage fees for cellular customers through the end of the year.
Two days after "Wonder Woman: 1984" premiered, Warner Brothers announced that a third movie in the
trilogy had been fast-tracked for production. Gal Gadot will continue in the lead role, and Patty Jenkins will once again write and direct it. While the first film made over $800 million worldwide, and received generally glowing reviews, the reception to the sequel has been mixed.
Trilogy comes from the ancient Greek "trilogia," a series of three tragic plays.
With the U.K. formally cutting ties to the European Union on midnight of December 31, Brexit became reality. Ambassadors from all 27 E.U. nations gave
unanimous support to a treaty laying out trade, border, and legal agreements that establish a new relationship, and both the European and British parliaments will vote to ratify the treaty next week.
virtuoso bluegrass guitarist and singer Tony Rice died at 69. Widely hailed as the most influential bluegrass guitarist of his generation, Rice managed to delight both traditionalists and those hungry for innovation. He carried the genre's Appalachian roots into other areas like rock and jazz, collaborating with a range of performers and building a large audience for his adventurous, lightning-fast playing.