WORD LISTS

This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for November 20–November 26, 2021

November 23, 2021
Stories about a Thanksgiving parade, humpback whales, and a lunar eclipse all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
artifact
A man who has stolen more than 1,000 artifacts from Cambodian temples over the past 50 years pledged to return hundreds of the valuable relics. Toek Tik, who began looting ancient statues and other antiquities as a teenage Khmer Rouge recruit, has identified at least 100 of the valuable objects in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other museums. Thanks to his cooperation and the remorse he’s expressed, Toek Tik will face no charges in the thefts.
astronaut
Jessica Watkins has been part of NASA’s astronaut program since 2017, but in April she will make history as the first Black woman to join the crew of the International Space Station. A Space-X capsule will fly Dr. Watkins and three other astronauts to the large, orbiting science lab, where they will stay for six months. Astronaut was coined by fiction writer Percy Greg in 1880, from the Greek astro, “star,” and nautes, “sailor.”
dementia
A new study suggests that drinking moderate amounts of coffee and tea may reduce the risk of dementia and stroke. For more than a decade, Chinese researchers followed 360,000 participants, who reported the number of caffeinated drinks they consumed each day. The lowest rates of memory and mood impairment were found in those who drank two or three cups of coffee, three to five cups of tea, or up to six cups of both daily. This group had a 28 percent reduction in dementia symptoms.
drought
Ongoing droughts in the western United States have inspired scientists to take another look at an old technology known as cloud seeding. About a third of the country is currently experiencing severe water shortages, and several states are turning to the technique of injecting tiny particles of silver iodide into clouds, causing ice crystals to form and snow to fall. Scientists hope the resulting increase in snowpack will offset the persistent drought conditions.
eject
On November 21, LeBron James was ejected from a game after an on-court argument escalated into an angry altercation. Referees called a flagrant foul on James, who inadvertently hit Detroit Pistons player Isaiah Stewart in the face, bloodying his mouth, a call that automatically results in removal from the game. Stewart’s furious reaction and the resulting fracas ended in suspensions for both players — one game for James and two for Stewart.
exonerate
Two of the three men convicted of killing Malcolm X 55 years ago have been exonerated. A judge officially threw out the convictions of Muhammad Aziz and Khalil Islam after a review found they had not received a fair trial in 1966. Evidence of the men’s innocence had been suppressed by the FBI and other agencies, and Mujahid Abdul Halim, who confessed to the murder, always insisted they were not involved. Islam died in 2009, but Aziz's exoneration made him a free man at age 83.
feast
For the fifty-first year in a row, retired grocer Bob Vogelbaugh spent his Thanksgiving throwing a feast for his neighbors in Moline, Illinois. Ever since 1970, when Vogelbaugh hosted his first free turkey dinner in the back room of his small grocery store, he has issued an open invitation to anyone who might be hungry or lonely on the holiday. This year, the meal attracted more than 3,000 neighbors and was funded by donations. Feast shares a root with festival.
genome
Scientists say genome sequencing will help create a more climate-resilient chickpea in the future. A new study that focused on the genetic information from more than 3,000 separate chickpea samples is being hailed as one of the largest-ever efforts to sequence plant genomes. A deeper understanding of the legume’s genes will help plant breeders to increase the plant’s diversity and make it more likely to withstand droughts, flooding, and disease.
glitch
A glitch in Tesla's smartphone app this week left many drivers locked out of their cars. Worldwide, owners of the electric vehicles reported getting an error message when they attempted to use the app, indicating that it was unable to connect with a server. Although Teslas come with a key card that can also be used to enter and start the cars, many users rely on their phones. Glitch comes from the Yiddish glitsh, meaning "a slip."
international
The Mexico City Capitanes are the latest G League team in the National Basketball Association’s recent international expansion effort. As Mexico's very first minor league basketball team, the Capitanes have attracted players from around the world, including South America and the United States. The pandemic has forced the team to base its home games in Texas, but the NBA plans to hold next year's games in Mexico City, officially expanding the league’s footprint beyond the U.S. and Canada.
landslide
Flooding and landslides caused the city of Vancouver in British Columbia to become almost entirely inaccessible by road. Record rainfall washed out bridges and sent mud sliding down hillsides and covering stretches of highway. The summer’s drought and deadly wildfires contributed to conditions that led to the landslides, killing plants that normally strengthen the soil against heavy rain. At least 17,000 people were evacuated from their homes and vehicles last week.
looter
Dozens of looters broke into a San Francisco Nordstrom store on November 20 in what police said was a “planned event.” An estimated 80 thieves stole thousands of dollars of goods from the store simultaneously, escaping in waiting cars. Looter comes from loot, which has a Sanskrit root meaning "stolen property."
lunar
A partial lunar eclipse was visible this week as a rusty red-tinged full moon. The eclipse, which occurred as the earth moved in between the moon and the sun, lasted about six hours, casting a spooky shadow on the lunar surface. Lunar is derived from the Latin luna, meaning "moon" or "moon goddess."
manuscript
A rare Einstein manuscript was auctioned off in Paris on November 23, selling for more than $13 million. The 54-page document was handwritten by Einstein and his frequent collaborator, Michele Besso, illustrating preliminary work toward what would become his general theory of relativity. It's one of only two known surviving manuscripts documenting the theory's development; Einstein famously threw away most of his working drafts. The Latin root means "written by hand."
mascot
Superintendents at West Point and the Naval Academy are cracking down on a longstanding tradition: for years, cadets have stolen each other's team mascots before the Army-Navy football game. After Army cadets kidnapped the wrong goat, endangering the elderly animal’s life, officials say they plan to investigate and take measures to discourage future pranks. The word mascot comes from a French word meaning "sorcerer’s charm" — mascots are thought to bring good luck.
moral
Researchers who study artificial intelligence have unveiled a new system named Delphi that they say is capable of making moral judgments. The technology is designed to solve ethical dilemmas instantly, answering questions like "Should I kill one person to save 100 others?" based on its built-in understanding of right and wrong. Critics say that Delphi is inconsistent and sometimes illogical — and some argue that morality comes not just from reason, but also emotions.
nominate
On November 22, President Biden announced he will nominate Jerome Powell as chair of the Federal Reserve for the second time. Biden said he chose to reinstate Powell as head of the U.S. central banking system to ensure stability at a time of great economic uncertainty. Most Democrats and Republicans expressed support for Powell’s nomination. The Latin source of nominate is nominare, "call by name" or "name to office."
parade
The 95th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade kicked off at 9 a.m. on November 25. Along with giant inflatable favorites like Snoopy and Spongebob Squarepants — and 8,000 human participants — the spectacle featured six new balloons including Baby Yoda and Pikachu. Thousands of onlookers watched marching bands, floats, and high-kicking Rockettes as they paraded down Central Park West, crossed to Sixth Avenue, and ended at 34th Street in front of the flagship Macy’s department store.
rebound
Just two decades ago, there were no humpback whales spotted along the coast of the Salish Sea, a Pacific Ocean inlet that borders Seattle and Vancouver. The giant creatures, recently considered endangered, have seen their population begin to rebound over the past several years. This fall, researchers and whale watchers have recorded more than 500 humpbacks in the Salish Sea, along with 21 calves — twice the number spotted in 2020.
surcharge
An increasing number of U.S. companies are enacting a health insurance surcharge for unvaccinated employees. After Delta Air Lines found it cost the company $50,000 for each employee hospitalized with Covid-19, officials announced that workers who choose not to get a vaccine will pay $200 per month extra for insurance. Other employers are charging unvaccinated workers a monthly "risk pool fee" in addition to their usual insurance payment. The prefix sur- means "over or on top of."
testify
Eleven weeks into her fraud trial, former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes took the stand to testify in her own defense. Her testimony on November 23 was meant to refute the prosecution’s claim that she lied to investors about her company's faulty technology. During a long day on the witness stand, Holmes repeated her claim that she believed Theranos blood tests worked, laying the blame on the company's scientists and engineers. Testify has a Latin root that means "witness."
vendor
New evidence suggests that the first known Covid patient was a vendor in an animal market in Wuhan, China, not an accountant who lived miles away from the market. After a painstaking review of the earliest pandemic data, a scientist says he has traced the initial case to a man who sold fish in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. Earlier reports said the first patient had no link to the market, but the new analysis shows that over half of the initial patient group worked or shopped there.

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