This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for January 1–January 7, 2022

January 3, 2022
Stories about baby orangutans, what science says about eating snow, and champion figure skaters all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
As companies adjust their plans to bring employees safely back into offices, some of those workers are choosing to wear special accessories that signal their preferences for social distancing. Colorful wristbands and pins allow people to quietly communicate whether they're comfortable with handshakes or hugs. In some workplaces, a red band around the wrist expresses a wish for six feet of space; in others, a green pin means "I'm open to being hugged."
In New Mexico, 21 people were rescued after spending a freezing night stranded in two aerial tram cars during a snowstorm. The group was headed home after working a New Year's Eve shift at a restaurant located at the top of Sandia Peak, near Albuquerque, when the tram stalled, suspended 10,000 feet above sea level. Rescuers had to hike up the mountain and then use ropes to lower the passengers to the ground one by one. After more than 12 hours, they were flown to safety by helicopter.
On January 3, four beekeepers were arrested during a protest in Santiago, Chile. The apian workers were demonstrating in support of government subsidies for honey producers, after a lengthy drought devastated flowers and crops on which bees feed. Seven police officers suffered apian injuries as they tried to move beehives out of the street. Apian derives from the Latin apis, "bee."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech booster for 12- to 15-year-olds on January 3. The official approval came at a moment when the omicron variant continued its spread across the country and schools reopened after winter breaks. The FDA authorization, which also applies to younger children who are immunocompromised, was endorsed by CDC regulators on January 6.
A catastrophic wildfire destroyed nearly 1,000 homes and 100 businesses in towns near Boulder, Colorado. It was the worst fire in the state's history. While the initial cause remains under investigation, authorities say the fire's fast and devastating spread was exacerbated by a years-long drought resulting from the changing climate. Thousands remain without power days after the fire, and several people are feared dead. The Greek root of catastrophic means "an overturning."
As winter brings snow to parts of the Northern Hemisphere, scientists advise it's generally safe to eat the fluffy stuff, with some caveats. Snow is mainly composed of water, with only trace amounts of pollutants, but experts warn it's prudent to wait until it's been falling for an hour or two before eating it. One climate researcher says snow "cleans" pollutants like soot from the air, making the initial flakes the dirtiest. In Latin, caveat means "let him beware."
The U.S. Figure Skating Championships began January 6 in Nashville. The event will conclude on January 9 with an official announcement of which skaters will compete in next month's Beijing Winter Olympics. While the U.S. men's team is considered nearly certain to be led by skater Nathan Chen, results in the Nashville competition will determine who makes the women's Olympic team. Championship comes from champion and its Latin root, which means "gladiator."
A new study by environmental scientists recommends against the use of common road de-icing salts, which often contaminate lakes, streams, and wetlands. While the billions of pounds of salt that are dumped on icy roads annually make driving safer, environmental researchers found that they end up in freshwater and drinking water. The resulting contamination causes increased salinity, as well as higher levels of lead and radium in groundwater.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised all travelers to avoid taking cruises, following a two-week period during which 5,013 coronavirus cases were reported on ships in U.S. waters. The agency officially raised its risk warning for vacationing on an ocean liner from three to four, its highest level. Travelers onboard ships, who necessarily keep close quarters, have been vulnerable to spreading the virus since the start of the pandemic.
In May, the Full Circle Everest Expedition will be the first all-Black team of climbers to attempt to scale Mt. Everest. Seventy years after Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary became the first to officially scale the summit of Earth's highest mountain peak, only about 10,000 mountaineers have achieved the feat. The nine members of Full Circle, all of whom are experienced climbers, hope to bring increased diversity to the largely white world of mountaineering.
Since July, 2021 the Biden administration has sent monthly payments to the families of 61 million children. This child tax credit, originally part of a $1.7 trillion pandemic relief bill, expired at the end of December after Congress failed to extend it. Progressive Democrats had hoped to make the payment permanent; research showed the money kept nearly four million children out of poverty in November. Expire derives from a Latin word meaning both "breathe out" and "die."
Scientists studying orangutan mothers have published new research looking at how they teach their young to forage for food. Baby orangutans stay with their mothers for about nine years. They're taught to identify and gather more than 200 foods, to use tools, and to recognize when food is ripe and what parts are edible. Babies are permitted to grab food from their mothers; the older they get, the less often this is allowed, which gradually pushes them to forage on their own.
Astronomers predict that 2022 will be a banner year for lunar voyages, with at least nine planned trips to the moon. NASA will sponsor five lunar missions, including the Orion capsule, which will orbit the moon and travel back to Earth. India plans to carry out a moon landing this summer, and a Japanese mission will deliver a rover to the lunar surface. The Latin root of lunar is luna, "moon."
On January 1, Pittsburgh residents heard — and felt — a boom so loud and deep that it shook several buildings, causing many to assume that an earthquake was responsible. However, meteorologists eventually determined that the sound was caused by a meteor exploding in the atmosphere overhead. Thick clouds obscured the flash as the half-ton space rock hurtled to Earth and broke apart. Scientists said the meteor's blast was equivalent to 30 tons of TNT.
Hundreds of drivers faced a lengthy ordeal when they were stranded on a Virginia highway on January 3. Many of the travelers found themselves trapped in freezing temperatures overnight after a snowstorm caused over 100 accidents and blocked access to part of Interstate 95 for more than 20 hours. After running out of gas, many huddled in cold cars without food or water before the roads were cleared on January 4. The root of ordeal means "trial by physical test."
Sudan's prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, resigned on January 2 in a televised statement. Hamdok was originally appointed in 2019 as part of the country's planned transition to a civilian government. He was removed from office during October's military coup and then reinstated the following month in a deal between military and civilian leaders. Hamdok's resignation comes amid increasing clashes between protesters and military authorities. Resign's Latin root means "give back."
The classic BlackBerry smartphone was officially retired on January 4. The demise of what was once as much a status symbol as a cellphone was widely seen as inevitable in an era of 5G technology and touch screens. The phone's retirement is part of a larger move to shut down all devices that ran on 2G and 3G networks. After their end date, BlackBerries will no longer be able to dial 911 or send text messages. Retire comes from the French verb retirer, "draw back."
One of the largest roofing companies in the United States has developed a new product that's aimed at lowering the cost of solar power for homeowners. GAF Energy now sells a " solar shingle" that doubles as roofing material while simultaneously harnessing the sun's power the way a solar panel does. The material looks like an asphalt shingle, but it contains small photovoltaic cells that collect and transfer the sun's energy. The Latin root of solar means "sun."
Shepherds in the German town of Schneverdingen used their animal-moving expertise to send a loud message on January 3. Using bread to lure them into position, the shepherds arranged 700 goats and sheep in the shape of a 330-foot-long syringe as part of a push to encourage vaccination. The enormous hypodermic needle was filmed from above and broadcast across the country, where about 70 percent of people have gotten at least one vaccine jab and more than 100,000 have died from Covid-19.
The jury in the Elizabeth Holmes fraud trial reached a verdict January 3, finding her guilty of four out of eleven charges. Holmes, the former CEO of the blood testing company Theranos, was accused of defrauding investors and patients. After 50 hours of deliberation, jurors found Holmes not guilty of the counts related to patients, but guilty of scamming people who invested in her company. She faces up to 20 years in prison. Verdict comes from a root meaning "true."

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