This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for May 29–June 4, 2021

June 1, 2021
Stories about Covid-sniffing dogs, a microscopic cleaning crew, and new images of our galaxy all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
On June 1 and 2, 1921, a mob in Tulsa, Oklahoma burned the thriving Black community of Greenwood to the ground and killed as many as 300 of its residents. Thousands were left homeless, and dozens of Black-owned businesses were destroyed. President Biden marked the 100-year anniversary of the massacre with a speech in Tulsa, calling it "an act of hate and domestic terrorism with a through line that exists today," and noting the event is rarely taught in history classes.
The drug company Moderna applied to the FDA on June 1 for full approval of its Covid-19 vaccine. While more than 100 million Moderna shots have already been given, it has only been accessible under an emergency use authorization that grants conditional approval. If the FDA formally approves it, the vaccine will continue to be available after the coronavirus public health emergency ends. Approval comes from the Latin probare, "to try or test something."
An installation curated by the National Museum of Norway at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale focuses on new communal living concepts. What We Share: A Model for Cohousing presents ideas for group housing that would reduce both social isolation and carbon emissions. A prototype that visitors can walk through is modeled on an existing communal housing project in Norway, in which residents share and co-own all common spaces.
A former Uber employee and labor organizer has started a worker-owned cooperative in New York City that will compete against the Uber and Lyft. The Drivers Cooperative currently has a roster of 2,500 drivers and will charge lower fares than its larger competitors in the ride-share business. Member drivers will earn more money per ride, receive dividends from the company's profits, and have a say in the way it's run. The Latin root, cooperari, means "to work together."
Dogs in several countries are being trained to detect whether or not people in public spaces are infected with coronavirus. Early studies suggest that Covid-sniffing canines are better able to detect the virus than rapid antigen tests, which are commonly used in places like airports and sports arenas. The dogs' sensitive noses can perceive the compounds produced when someone with Covid-19 sheds damaged cells. Detect derives from the Latin detectus, "uncover."
New laws in Montana and Maryland are the first in the U.S. to limit the use of forensic genealogy by law enforcement. This method of investigation, also known as DNA matching, has recently been used to solve several high-profile crimes. Investigators in those cases uploaded suspects' genetic markers to genealogy websites and tracked down their relatives. The laws, intended to protect privacy, require judicial warrants to obtain genetic information online.
A recent glut of Chinese-made N95 masks is likely to force some U.S. companies out of business. The American manufacturers stepped in during last year’s worldwide mask shortage. Currently, the enormous quantity of N95s made by Chinese companies, their low price, and the loosening of mask guidelines have led to a sharp drop in sales for U.S mask producers. Glut originally meant “a gulp" and "the condition of being too full," before gaining its current definition.
A new Biden administration plan would make it significantly easier to immigrate to the U.S. The plan's initial blueprint includes proposals that would allow more foreign-born people to enter the country and apply for citizenship, in part by lowering barriers to immigration like fees and in-person appointments. Though Biden's proposed legislation for overhauling immigration has stalled in Congress, these latest plans could be put into place without its passage.
Afghan interpreters who worked for the British government are being relocated to the U.K. along with their families. The move, which is being hastened as NATO troops begin to withdraw from Afghanistan, is meant to protect Afghans from retribution by the Taliban. Meanwhile, the U.S. is waiting for approval on visa applications for thousands of its own interpreters who worked for American military forces translating local languages into English.
NASA has published new photos, the first to show the "violent energy" at the center of the Milky Way, and the clearest pictures ever taken of the X-rays near the massive black hole there. Astronomers say that one of the X-rays is evidence of a phenomenon that occurs when opposing magnetic fields are forced to combine, releasing enormous amounts of energy. These magnetic events are responsible for solar flares, as well as the northern lights.
Italian art restorers and scientists have begun using microbes to clean Michelangelo's marble tombs in the Medici Chapel. The pristine white surfaces of the chapel and its sculptures have darkened over the years, stained by age, inexpertly entombed bodies, and plaster used to make copies of the masterpieces. Hungry microscopic organisms — Serratia ficaria SH7 bacteria, to be precise — have taken over cleaning duties, consuming oil, glue, and even phosphates emitted by cadavers.
The gumboot chiton or "wandering meatloaf," a lumpy, slow-moving mollusk, has teeth that contain a rare mineral never before seen in a living animal. Scientists already knew that the mollusk's tiny teeth, which it uses to scrape algae off rocks as it lumbers along the intertidal zone of the Pacific Ocean, are the hardest known material in any living organism. A recent study showed that they're composed of an iron-based mineral previously found only in rocks.
The Chinese government announced on May 31 that married couples are now allowed to have three children, ending a two-child policy that had been in place since 2015. China currently faces a population crisis as its citizens grow older and the number of young workers declines. Observers fault the country's decades-long one-child policy, established in 1979 to slow population growth. Population shares a root with people.
Over the past several months, a Virginia seminary began paying reparations to the descendants of enslaved Black Americans forced to work there. The effort at the Virginia Theological Seminary is one of the first in the U.S. to pay cash reparations. While largely symbolic, the annual $2,100 checks are seen by many as the start of a move toward making amends for the legacy of slavery in the U.S.
The Svalbard Satellite Station in the Norwegian Arctic is the world's northernmost tracking base, located 800 miles from the North Pole. It plays a vital role in climate research, with 100 giant antennas that keep tabs on several hundred satellites. Many of these orbiting objects record the effects of warming on the earth, including coastal erosion and shrinking glaciers. At its high latitude, the SvalSat is uniquely able to connect with polar-orbiting satellites.
The U.S. child care industry is experiencing an extreme shortage of workers, just as many parents are returning to in-person jobs. Around the country, daycares have few spots and long waiting lists for children needing care. With a median hourly wage of $11.65 per hour, child care jobs are among the lowest paid in the country, and many don't offer benefits like health insurance. Most daycares are unable to offer higher wages, and fewer workers are choosing to take available positions.
Memorial Day had a special significance this year for many veterans and their families. After the pandemic made parades and ceremonies impossible in 2020, many people were able to honor the sacrifices of former U.S. military members in person on May 31. President Biden, whose late son Beau was a veteran who served in Iraq, spoke at Arlington National Cemetery. "We're free because they're brave, " he said. Veteran has a Latin root meaning "old soldier."
On May 31, second-ranked women's tennis player Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open. She pulled out of the tournament after announcing last week that she wouldn't participate in required news conferences after the match. Despite Osaka's statement that negative questions harm her mental health, French Open officials fined her $15,000 when she skipped the news conference following her first game on Sunday. Osaka exited the tournament the following day, citing her need for self-care.

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