This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for November 13–November 19, 2021

November 15, 2021
Stories about a recovered teddy bear, a new Muppet, and a cotton candy lobster all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
Some experts see hydrogen-powered airplanes as the only way for the aviation industry to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Small, experimental jets fueled by the abundant element are already being flown, as scientists consider the challenges of using it to power larger airplanes. Although burning hydrogen creates no emissions, it is currently produced using natural gas, which is not considered to be eco-friendly. The Latin root of aviation, avis, means "bird."
At a tribal nations summit meeting on November 15, President Biden announced that his administration will ban fossil fuel drilling near a historic Native American site in New Mexico. All land in a ten-mile radius around Chaco Canyon will be blocked from oil and gas leasing, a move that was opposed by the fossil fuel industry. The restriction is part of Biden’s policy focus on limiting climate change and redressing wrongs done to Native Americans.
Sesame Street announced it will debut a new character next week. Ji-Young is a seven-year-old Korean American Muppet who will star in a special episode of the show titled See Us Coming Together: A Sesame Street Special. Ji-Young, who will become a regular cast member, is the show's first Asian American character. In French, début originally meant "make the first stroke at billiards."
U.S. congressional maps have been gerrymandered by both parties in an attempt to increase their share of representatives, and the results strongly favor Republicans, who are likely to flip at least five seats. Gerrymander combines the last name of 1812 Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry and the word salamander, for a lizard-shaped district redrawn in favor of his party.
Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke announced on November 15 that he will run for governor of that state. O’Rourke, who was a 2020 presidential candidate, would be the first Democratic governor of Texas since 1995 if he were elected. He will face incumbent Governor George Abbott. Governor derives from a Greek root that means "to steer."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed that hackers had broken into its email servers and sent fake messages to 100,000 people. The spam emails appeared to come from an FBI address and contained a subject line reading "Urgent: Threat actor in systems." The FBI said no personal information or data was stolen by the hackers. MIT students coined the term hack, or "creative computer prank."
Maine lobsterman Billy Coppersmith got a rare surprise this month when he pulled a trap from the waters of Casco Bay and discovered a pale, shiny, pink and blue lobster. Industry officials say this kind of crustacean, called a cotton candy lobster, is found only once in about 100 million lobsters. Coppersmith, who described the animal as "beautiful, like the inside of an oyster shell," named her Haddie and delivered her safely to an aquarium.
Fifty years after one of the biggest bank heists in Cleveland, Ohio’s history, an obituary helped find the thief at last. Investigators had long known the identity of the culprit, but he’d eluded them since 1969 — until U.S. Marshal Peter Elliot read a death notice for a Massachusetts man with life details that mirrored those of the bank robber. Thomas Randele, who died at age 73, was actually Theodore Conrad, who stole the equivalent of $1.6 million.
A small space rock that orbits the earth in a wide, looping path is now believed to be a chunk of the moon that broke off after a long-ago meteor impact. Scientists say the object, called Kamo'oalewa, or "wobbling celestial object" in Hawaiian, first locked into a regular orbit about 100 years ago. A new study has found that instead of being composed of minerals typically found in asteroids, as most astronomers thought, it appears to have a lot in common with the Earth's moon.
A pharmacy shortage in rural areas of the United States has worsened over the last two years. In sparsely populated places, people often rely on local drug stores to fill prescriptions. As it becomes more difficult for these small pharmacies to compete with large chains, many are closing. Recent studies show that 40 million Americans live in so-called pharmacy deserts, more than 15 miles from a drug store. The Greek root of pharmacy means "a healing medicine."
After 18 months in and out of Covid-19 lockdowns, residents of Delhi, India are preparing for another lockdown — this time due to air pollution. As contaminated haze settled over the city this week, officials closed schools and offices. Many residents say they wear masks in their homes because the air is so toxic; experts compare breathing in the city for a day to smoking 20 cigarettes. Air pollution is an ongoing issue in Delhi, but this is the first lockdown in response.
The Green Bay Packers and two players were fined by the National Football League for failing to follow Covid-19 safety protocols. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Allen Lazard were instructed to pay $14,650 each for attending a Halloween party despite the NFL rule prohibiting unvaccinated players from gathering in large groups. Rodgers violated another regulation by being unmasked as he spoke with a reporter. The team was fined $300,000 for failing to enforce the rules.
More than 100 Afghan students from the American University in Kabul have found refuge in an Iraqi city. The students are considered infidels by the ruling Taliban party, putting their lives in danger. Many doubted they'd find safety in Iraq after fleeing their home country. However, the American University of Iraq, in the liberal city of Sulaimani, offered the students a safe haven. The root of refuge means "place to flee back to."
On November 14, Austrian officials announced that all unvaccinated residents over the age of 12 would be confined to their homes starting the following day. The new restrictions follow a record-breaking surge in Covid-19 cases across Europe. Only 65 percent of Austria’s population is vaccinated, and the strict regulations are meant to lower the infection rate, which has risen 134 percent over the past two weeks. Restriction derives from a Latin root meaning "draw tight."
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the longest-serving member of the U.S. Senate, announced his retirement. Leahy, who is 81, has represented his state since he was elected in 1974. As the most senior Senate member, he serves as president pro tempore, a role that makes him third in line to the presidency. Leahy will retire at the end of his current term in 2022. He said his retirement plans include "more time in Vermont, and more time with family."
While hiking with her family in Glacier National Park in 2020, five-year-old Naomi Pascal lost her teddy bear. The bear, a gift from her adoptive parents in 2016, was her most beloved possession. Her family spent days searching for it, to no avail. A full year later, Naomi and Teddy reunited when a family friend happened to spy the bear in the truck of a park ranger who had found him months earlier. Naomi was reportedly "ecstatic" at being back together with her fluffy friend.
A survey of more than 10,000 Tokyo residents found that people in their 20s and 30s were increasingly considering moving to a more rural location. The survey was part of a government study into the effects the pandemic has had on city residents. Nearly one-third of people in this age group reported initiating serious plans to move away from the city, to less populated areas. The trend is good news for rural Japan, where populations have declined in recent years.
Two Indian journalists who reported on recent sectarian violence in the country’s northeast region were arrested over the weekend and charged with conspiracy and "spreading communal disharmony." Observers say the arrests are an example of the government’s attempt to silence media coverage of the growing conflict between Hindus and minority Muslims. India's home ministry responded with a statement claiming that reports of vandalized mosques were false.
Schools around the U.S. are experiencing a severe shortage of substitute teachers this fall. Due to the lack of qualified workers who can step in and temporarily fill the place of absent teachers, some schools are rotating staff, including principals and assistant principals, into classrooms. Other schools have found themselves so shorthanded that they have had to shut down for several days each month. Many districts are now offering higher salaries for substitute positions.
According to veterinarians, many pet owners want to know whether dogs and cats can be vaccinated to prevent Covid-19. Animal experts say that while pet vaccines are feasible, they’re unnecessary — though companion animals can contract the virus, they don’t appear to transmit it to humans. Growing evidence also suggests that dogs and cats rarely show symptoms and that pets tend to catch the illness from humans, rather than from other animals.
When two tourists became trapped at the bottom of a waterfall in Canada, five Sikh hikers unwound their turbans, tied them together, and hauled the tourists to safety using this 33-foot improvised rope. The long, coiled pieces of fabric that Sikh men traditionally use to cover their hair came in handy when the hikers were brainstorming ways to assist the couple stranded at the base of the falls at Golden Ears Provincial Park. Turban has a Persian root, dulband.
A high school football team from The California School for the Deaf in Riverside spent the past seven seasons as their division’s underdog. After sustaining so many losses, the Cubs are finally celebrating. They rank at the top of their Southern California division, thanks to an undefeated 2021 season. The Cubs are now two games away from winning the division championship.

Create a new Word List