This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for June 5–June 11, 2021

June 7, 2021
Stories about feral peacocks, a heroic rat, and a pizza vending machine all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
An Italian entrepreneur has launched Rome’s first automated pizza vending machine. The Mr. Go kiosk produces a hot, freshly baked pizza in three minutes with the push of a button. Customers can watch through glass as the machine mixes and kneads the dough, then presses it into a circle. An infrared oven bakes the pizza quickly, and the finished product is packaged in a classic pizza box. Automated was coined in 1948 by the vice president of the Ford Motor Company.
The National Institutes of Health has begun a new trial, giving booster shots to vaccinated adults to determine whether their antibodies increase. The results should provide clarity about how long vaccines protect against coronavirus and when to recommend boosters. Pathogens affect human immune systems in different ways, with some vaccines (such as the measles shot) providing lifetime immunity and others (like tetanus or flu) requiring boosters.
On June 6, gymnast Simone Biles dominated the United States Gymnastics Championships, winning an unprecedented seventh U.S. title. The competition is part of the traditional run-up to the Summer Olympic Games, which will take place in July, and Biles was victorious in three of the four events. Instead of the incredibly difficult vault she performed at the U.S. Classic in May, Biles executed two routine vaults almost flawlessly.
The coronavirus pandemic shuttered the cruise industry for most of the past year. For North Americans, June 5 marked the first day they were permitted to board a cruise ship, when the Celebrity Millennium set sail from Philipsburg, St. Maarten with 500 passengers on board. The seven-day voyage will include port stops in Barbados and Aruba.
While the U.S. is one of few nations with widely available Covid-19 vaccines, many expatriates haven't been able to get the shots. About nine million Americans live in other countries, and while they must pay U.S. taxes, they have not been able to access U.S.-provided vaccines. A campaign to inoculate citizens abroad has gained momentum as cases have spiked in Thailand, where a large number of expatriates live. Before 1900, an expatriate was “one who is banished."
Researchers have found new evidence that sharks nearly went extinct 19 million years ago. Some unknown catastrophic event nearly eliminated the large, boneless fish from every ocean on Earth. Scientists used microscopic shark scales to pinpoint the extent of population decline and the time period in which it occurred. The near-extinction drastically reduced the diversity of sharks, an effect that can still be seen today. The Latin root of extinct means “to destroy."
Neighborhoods northeast of Los Angeles have recently been overwhelmed by a large population of feral peacocks. On June 8, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance to prohibit feeding the wild birds. Residents have complained about the early-morning screeching of the peacocks, as well as their tendency to tear up gardens, rip shingles off roofs, and peck ferociously at their reflections in parked cars. Feral derives from the Latin ferus, “wild.”
Around the U.S., dozens of tiny outdoor galleries have been installed in urban and suburban neighborhoods during the past year. The Free Little Art Galleries, influenced by the sidewalk book exchanges known as Little Free Libraries, provide a venue for displaying and swapping small pieces of art. Local artists and kids alike can admire the petite exhibits, take any art they like, and create their own pieces to show in the wee galleries.
Music producer Clive Davis is planning a large-scale concert in Central Park this summer. Though no performers have been confirmed yet, Davis — who has worked with stars including Bruce Springsteen and Aretha Franklin — says the show will feature eight musical icons. The mega-concert, tentatively scheduled for August 21, will feature three hours of superstar performances in front of an audience of 60,000.
In 15 U.S. states, most of them in the south, vaccination rates continue to lag behind the rest of the country, with fewer than 50 percent of adults having received at least one dose. Public health officials worry that the slower vaccine pace will lead to a surge of new infections this summer, with high temperatures driving southerners indoors and fewer people wearing masks. In the sixteenth century, lag meant "the last person."
During an annual count near the Delaware Bay, conservationists noted a steep decline in the population of red knots, migratory shorebirds. The area is a regular stop on the birds' spring migration northward from Argentina. The red knots depend on horseshoe crab eggs when they rest on the New Jersey shore, food which fuels the remainder of the trip to their Arctic breeding grounds. Warming temperatures and crab harvesting by humans have reduced the supply.
A rat that has worked detecting unexploded ordnance and landmines in Cambodia for five years is retiring this month. The African giant pouched rat, named Magawa, was born in Tanzania and trained by a nonprofit group, APOPO, which teaches rodents to sniff out explosives and mines. Magawa’s ability to detect the dangerous artillery shells and alert his handlers has helped to clear 2.4 million square feet, disabling 71 land mines and 38 items of unexploded ordnance.
High schools around the U.S. that were forced to cancel last year's prom season saw a return to nearly normal this month. The ubiquitous American teenage rite of passage was a double celebration at many schools — marking both the end of high school and of restrictions that had forced much of the Class of 2021 to attend classes remotely. Proms had varying rules for social distancing and mask-wearing, but they all had the trappings of the formal, end-of-year dance students hoped for.
The U.S. Justice Department announced on June 7 that it had seized more than four million dollars in ransom from the Russian hackers of the Colonial Pipeline. The attack last month shut down the pipeline, causing fuel shortages and spiking gas prices. Hackers demanded millions in Bitcoin payment before returning control of the company's computer systems. Officials hope the seizure, of about 85 percent of the total ransom, sends a message to other would-be hackers.
For the first time since 2014, there were no tornado-related deaths in the U.S. during the month of May. Late spring is typically a busy time for the violent windstorms. While many twisters touched down across the Plains states last month, they missed most populated areas. Tornado is probably a mangled version of the Spanish tronada, “thunderstorm.”
On June 6, Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced the birth of their second child, Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor. The baby's name is a tribute to Harry's mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, and his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. Lilibet, the Queen's lifelong nickname, came from her own childhood mispronunciation of her name. The gesture is widely interpreted as showing gratitude and respect to two of Britain's most beloved royal women.

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