This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for June 26–July 2, 2021

June 29, 2021
Stories about a 70-year-old batgirl, a small Statue of Liberty, and a new species of human all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
On June 28, a federal judge threw out two antitrust lawsuits against Facebook. The cases claimed that the company holds a social networking monopoly and has illegally shut out any viable competitors. The Federal Trade Commission and dozens of U.S. states brought the suit in an effort to reign in Facebook's dominance among social networks and promote competition. The judge's ruling allows them to refile within 30 days and provide additional facts to support their claim.
British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with inventing the World Wide Web, will auction off his 1989 source code. The original, time-stamped files contain the computer languages and protocols that form the basis of the internet we know today, including HTTP and HTML. Originally intended as an academic tool, Berners-Lee's code spawned its first web page in 1991. The auction house Sotheby's said it's the first ever auction of a "digital-born artifact."
In Surfside, Florida, officials are seeking an explanation for why a condo building collapsed. A team of six scientists and engineers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology will investigate materials used to build Champlain Towers, the ground around it, and its history of repairs. Just months before half of the building abruptly collapsed and fell, a letter from the condominium board president had detailed extensive concrete damage.
Former South African president Jacob Zuma faced the country's highest court on June 29, where he was found guilty of contempt and sentenced to 15 months in prison. Zuma had been instructed to provide testimony in a corruption investigation into his own nine-year presidency, but he defied the judge's orders. The legal phrase contempt of court first appeared in the early 18th century.
On June 28, the National Collegiate Athletic Association panel recommended allowing student athletes to profit from social media, autographs, and endorsements. The NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors approved the rule change on June 30. For years, student athletes have only been able to receive scholarships and cost-of-living stipends. The new ruling means that some players may now earn millions from brand endorsements and other commercial uses of their image and name.
Scientists have discovered new evidence that a coronavirus epidemic hit Asia 20,000 years ago. They believe the outbreak was widespread and destructive enough to permanently change the DNA of ancient humans, an effect that can be seen in human genes today. The ancient epidemic may have lasted for generations. Originally used as an adjective meaning "affecting a whole people," epidemic derives from Greek roots epi-, "among," and dēmos, "people."
United Airlines announced on June 29 that it will add a record number of jets to its fleet. The order of 270 aircraft, valued at about $35 billion, is the largest purchase ever made by the company. The overall size of United Airlines' fleet will stay about the same, as the new jets will replace 200 small planes, but passenger capacity will increase with the larger aircraft. A fleet was originally a group of ships, from a verb meaning "to float or flow."
At the New York Yankees' June 28 game against the Los Angeles Angels, a 70-year-old honorary batgirl fulfilled a wish she'd had for 60 years. When she was ten, Gwen Goldman wrote to the team's general manager asking for her "dream job" and received a reply telling her it was no job for a girl. After Goldman's daughter sent the team a picture of the letter, its current GM offered the honorary opportunity, complete with full uniform and the chance to throw the game's first pitch.
A bipartisan infrastructure bill appears likely to pass in the Senate, despite continuing disagreements between moderate and progressive Democrats. The bill would invest $1.2 trillion into the country's aging roads and bridges, expand internet access, and fund new green projects over the next eight years. Some House members favor tying passage of the bill to another, larger proposal that includes funding for combating climate change, expanding health care, and other items.
Even when new fathers in the U.S. are offered paid paternity leave, they rarely take it for fear of harming their careers. A new study in Norway offers a potential path toward universal parental leave. It showed that dads who took time off when their babies were born bonded more closely with them but suffered slight salary losses caused by missed opportunities. Researchers concluded that such effects would be solved by offering small pay increases to dads who take paternity leave.
Broadway officially reopened on June 26, with Bruce Springsteen's first post-pandemic performance of his one-man show, which originally ran in 2017 and 2018. Springsteen on Broadway was the theater district's first full-length show since March of 2020. In the production, the musical icon plays guitar, harmonica, and piano in front of an audience of more than 1,700.
Official portraits of President Obama and Michelle Obama will be displayed at the site of their first date, the Art Institute of Chicago, through August. The paintings, by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, were the first by Black artists to be included in Washington D.C.'s National Portrait Gallery. The Chicago exhibit begins a five-city national tour for the portraits, which will be shown in Brooklyn, L.A., Atlanta, and Houston before returning to their permanent home.
After Tigrayan rebels took control of Ethiopia's capital, Mekelle, on June 28, the government declared an immediate ceasefire. The armed resistors from the northern region of the country did not agree to the truce. The Ethiopian military had controlled the capital since November, and the rebels' retaking of the area was widely celebrated by residents. Many fear that the conflict, which has already caused thousands of deaths, will devolve into full-blown civil war.
A second Statue of Liberty, much smaller than the original, will be sent by France to New York in time for Independence Day. The replica is one-sixteenth the size of its larger sibling and made of bronze, rather than copper. At ten feet high, it is an exact copy of an original 1878 plaster model. The replica will be exhibited in New York before moving to its permanent home at the French ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C. Replica's Latin root means "repeat."
As police departments and private security firms add robots to their forces, they see mixed results from the autonomous officers. The slow-moving, AI-powered robots patrol malls, casinos, and tourist districts, acting as automated security guards. Crime has gone down in some communities that use them, but there have been no reported robot-assisted arrests, and mishaps have included robots knocking down toddlers and falling into a Washington, D.C. fountain.
Scientists believe that a fossilized skull found in China may be evidence of a previously unknown species of ancient human. The 140,000-year-old skull belonged to a male with a large brain and protruding brows. Researchers named the potential new species Homo longi, and they say it's a closer relation to Homo sapiens than the Neanderthals, presenting a new chapter in the story of human evolution. In Latin, species means "a particular type."
On June 28, the U.S. carried out strikes on weapons storage facilities in Iraq and Syria. The attacks were aimed at Iran-backed militia groups that the Department of Defense said had conducted recent drone strikes against American troops in Syria. It was the second time in the past four months that the U.S. has ordered air attacks against the militias. There was no immediate news of casualties following the strikes.
Astronomers have discovered a new type of supernova. Using images from the Hubble Space Telescope showing a star before and after it exploded, scientists were able to deduce exactly how this type of luminous explosion, an electron-capture supernova, occurs. Unlike the stars scientists observed in the past, this one collapsed after gravity forced its electrons to fuse with atomic nuclei, causing a drop in pressure. Supernova was coined in 1929.
Thanks to an unprecedented heat wave, temperatures in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada continued to exceed records all week. Portland, Oregon reached 115 degrees two days in a row, a temperature never before recorded there, and parts of British Columbia saw record-breaking highs of over 120 degrees for the third day on June 29. In Canada alone, the heat is blamed for dozens of deaths. Portland's average temperature for this week is 73 degrees.
As the delta coronavirus variant continues its rapid spread in several countries, many governments have reimposed restrictions like mask mandates and lockdowns. While the virus has changed and mutated into many new forms, this more contagious variant, first identified in India, is now the dominant strain around the world. Although Israel has one of the highest vaccination rates, delta cases have increased rapidly over the past week, spurring a new mask requirement in that country.

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