This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for January 8–January 14, 2022

January 10, 2022
Stories about a party for a queen, a helpful badger, and chilly temperatures all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
A frigid blast of arctic air moved into the northeastern U.S. and Canada on January 10 and 11, bringing the coldest temperatures of the season to the region. Millions of people woke Tuesday to dangerously cold conditions; Boston and New York City experienced wind chills around zero, while parts of northern Maine and upstate New York had temperatures that felt like 40 below zero. Arctic derives from the Greek arktikos, "of the north."
Spanish archaeologists were led to a stash of more than 200 ancient Roman coins by a badger. In an apparent attempt to dig a nest, the short, stout animal had tunneled through a crack in a rock inside Spain's La Cuesta cave and dislodged about 90 coins. A dig team excavated the site and recovered a total of 209 coins, some dating to 200 CE. Badgers are nocturnal, have distinctive black and white stripes, and typically live in underground burrows.
A devastating fire on January 9 in the Bronx caused the deaths of 17 people, eight of them children. The conflagration was sparked by faulty wiring in an electric space heater. As the flames spread through one apartment, thick smoke quickly filled the 19-story building after several doors were left open. More than 200 New York City firefighters responded, battling the blaze for nearly four hours. The Latin root of conflagration means "to burn."
After brain researcher Laura Cuaya moved with her dogs from Mexico to Hungary, she began to wonder if they noticed a difference between Spanish and Hungarian. After conducting a study with 18 dogs, Cuaya and her colleagues discovered that dogs can, in fact, differentiate between the two languages. An MRI machine studied the brain activity of the dogs as they listened to stories read in Spanish and Hungarian. The dogs had different brain patterns when listening to the two languages.
Diplomats from the United States and Russia met for seven hours on January 10. Russia's negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, was adamant that Ukraine must never become a NATO member, while the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman refused to eliminate that possibility. Despite the deadlock, both emissaries expressed optimism for ongoing diplomatic talks.
Following 2020's 10 percent decline in greenhouse gas emissions, last year saw an increase of more than 6 percent. The rise in polluting substances released into the atmosphere followed renewed activity at coal plants and additional highway truck traffic during 2021. Experts say the current goal of cutting U.S. emissions to 50 percent of 2005 levels will be impossible without policies enforcing a quick transition to clean energy like wind and solar power.
On January 11, President Biden said he supported a change in Senate rules that would eliminate the filibuster for voting rights legislation. While it's not mandated in the Constitution, the filibuster, which requires 60 votes rather than a majority of 51, is a long Senate tradition. Previous administrations have selectively ended the practice, most recently when Republicans changed the rules for Supreme Court nominees. The root of filibuster means "pirate."
Complex, written rules, as well as the need to look for visual cues like blue or red lines, make most at-home Covid tests inaccessible to blind users. As a result, many visually impaired people don't get tested, even when they have symptoms. Scientists are scrambling to change tests so that blind people can easily use them, adding things like Braille phone numbers that can be called for assistance; audio instructions; and touchable templates to orient where to place droppers or swabs.
Doctors say the current focus on Covid-19 has resulted in fewer Americans being vaccinated against influenza. Although many consider the flu to be a mild illness, U.S. deaths from the virus range from 12,000 to about 60,000 annually. The infectious disease can cause pneumonia, particularly in older people, and sends hundreds of thousands to the hospital each year. As of October, only 11 percent of Americans over 65 had gotten a flu vaccine. The Latin root means "influence of the stars."
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her 70 years as monarch with a Platinum Jubilee next month. Buckingham Palace announced its full list of events for the anniversary, including a nationwide competition to develop a new national dessert in honor of the Queen. The Jubilee officially begins on February 6, the date in 1952 when Elizabeth acceded to the throne, but festivities will continue through June with street parties, concerts, and pageantry.
Thirty-four-year-old Rachel Balkovec has been named manager of the Tampa Tarpons, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the New York Yankees. She will be the first woman to manage a team affiliated with Major League Baseball. Balkovec, who played softball in college, has worked in professional baseball since 2016, most recently as a hitting coach for the Yankees.
Filippo Bernardini, who worked for Simon & Schuster U.K., was arrested by the FBI last week for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts. Charges included wire fraud and identity theft, as Bernardini allegedly impersonated publishing professionals in order to obtain the work of various authors. The original meaning of manuscript was "a document written by hand," from Latin roots that mean "hand" and "to write."
Paleontologists have discovered new evidence of a prehistoric rainforest amid Australia's rusty red rocks. Over the past three years, fossils of flowers, bird feathers, and insects have revealed that the country's dry Central Tablelands had a lush, green past. The discoveries were published this week in Science Advances, and they help paint a clearer picture of the dense Australian jungle that existed about 15 million years ago.
A Glasgow arts center, SWG3, has joined forces with a geothermal energy company to install a renewable system that uses the body heat of dancing clubbers to heat and cool the entire venue. SWG3 is known for hosting huge dance parties; the new technology will reduce the center's carbon use by at least 70 percent, regenerating energy with every new group of dancers. Each person is estimated to produce about 500 watts of energy when dancing vigorously.
The Golden Globes faced sharp criticism and was shunned by most of Hollywood last spring, after the organization's lack of Black members and ethical lapses were exposed. The motion picture industry's rejection of the Globes included the show's broadcaster, NBC, refusing to air the awards this year. The January 9 ceremony was reduced to a lackluster series of posts on Twitter. Etymologists suspect that shun comes from a root meaning "to hide."
A pet dog lost in the snowy wilderness of the Sierra Nevada mountain range survived for four months before being rescued this week. Russ, a pit bull mix, went missing near Lake Tahoe in August. He endured multiple snowstorms and the destructive Caldor Fire, all while living in an area populated by coyotes. A skier found Russ buried in five feet of snow, and rescuers took him down the mountain by sled. He was safely reunited with his owner.
On January 8, the James Webb Space Telescope completed the final step in its setup when the last section of mirrors was successfully latched into place. The device is three times larger than the Hubble Space Telescope and capable of viewing the oldest galaxies and stars. The telescope will now embark on a month-long trip to a location where it can safely begin to orbit the sun. Telescope's Greek root means "far-seeing."
Researchers have developed a new way to locate endangered species in order to better protect them: a device that allows scientists to vacuum the animals' DNA out of the air. A team of biologists tested the tool at the Copenhagen Zoo, successfully sucking up genetic material that allowed them to correctly identify 25 different animal species. Scientists use a similar method to track environmental DNA in water, but this is the first time it's been extracted from the air.
The National Park Service announced that ancient geometric art at Big Bend National Park was damaged by vandals last month. The petroglyphs, estimated to be 3,000 years old, were harmed beyond repair by unknown park visitors who scratched words into the rock. Vandalizing park resources violates federal law. Vandal, "destroyer of something beautiful," derives from the name of the Germanic tribe that sacked Rome in 455.
The Wolf Volcano, the tallest of 21 on the Galapagos Islands, erupted late last week. The mountain is located in an unpopulated area of Isabela Island, and only eight people had to be evacuated when the 5,580-foot volcano began spewing lava and smoke. Volcano comes from the Italian vulcano, "burning mountain," and the ancient Roman god of fire, Vulcan.

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