This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for April 30–May 6, 2022

May 2, 2022
Stories about Broadway superstitions, a Ukrainian opera singer, and an ancient swan all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
Historians have long believed that tales of women warriors in ancient Greece were myths, but growing archaeological evidence suggests that these amazons really existed. Researchers recently found the remains of four women buried with spears and arrowheads in the location cited in ancient stories of the fierce fighters. The discovery supports the theory that powerful nomadic women fought with men on the Eurasian steppe. Amazon derives from an Iranian word meaning "warrior."
On May 2, the Biden administration launched a $3.1 billion plan to begin producing powerful car batteries in the U.S. The effort is part of a larger push to combat global warming by switching to solar and wind power, as well as electric vehicles. Increased production of cars powered by advanced batteries will also protect drivers from fluctuating fuel costs. Most of the devices, which convert chemical energy into electricity, are currently built in Asia.
Researchers who sequenced the genomes of over 2,000 dogs and surveyed the owners of 18,385 pups found that a dog's breed matters very little when predicting its behavior. The study suggests that the specific type of canine (beagle, pug, or spaniel) influences the way it looks (hair length, color, size, and so on) far more than the way it acts. Breed is from the Germanic -brod, "hatchling," and a root meaning "to boil," from the sense of incubating an egg with heat.
A group of zoologists and biologists published a paper this week arguing that collaborations between zoos and museums would benefit scientific research and foster a greater understanding of animals. These partnerships would combine the institutions' data, which includes three billion specimens and nearly a million living animals. Zoos and museums have a shared goal of preserving biodiversity, making an alliance a natural fit. The Latin root of collaborate means "work with."
On May 1, demonstrators around the world observed May Day, also known as International Workers' Day, by rallying for labor rights. These political protesters lobbied for immigration overhauls, worker protections, and better working conditions. In New York, a pro-union rally was focused on organizing efforts by Starbucks workers. More than 100 people in Istanbul, Turkey were arrested for demonstrating without a permit. The root of demonstrator means "point or show."
The Ukrainian diva Liudmyla Monastyrska replaced a Russian soprano in the title role of Turandot at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on April 30. The opera's former star, Anna Netrebko, was dropped because of her vocal support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. After Monastyrska's performance, she emerged at her curtain call wrapped in a blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag. The Latin diva means "goddess."
A draft ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision was leaked to the press on May 2. The Court confirmed that the preliminary majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, was authentic. If the draft becomes an official ruling, it will end the constitutional federal protection of abortion rights guaranteed by the 1973 case. The "rough or early copy" meaning of draft dates from the 14th century.
A Garth Brooks concert on the Baton Rouge campus of Louisiana State University was so loud that it registered as an earthquake. The April 30 performance literally made the ground shake; during Brooks's rousing Callin’ Baton Rouge, an LSU seismograph recorded a minor quake. It was only the second time the device sensed such an extreme vibration, the first being a 1988 football win over rival Auburn University.
The European Union's member countries will vote on a planned embargo of Russian oil imports. Rather than the immediate total ban that was initially proposed, the new plan by the European Commission will gradually phase out imported Russian oil. The E.U. had already agreed to a gradual embargo on coal from Russia. Embargo is from the Spanish, meaning "seizure or arrest."
After struggling in the early months of the pandemic, Black-owned businesses rebounded, and the number of Black entrepreneurs in the U.S. has soared to its highest rate in decades. These business owners now face new challenges, including supply chain issues and a labor shortage. Many are using creative strategies to lure employees and compensate for higher supply prices. Entrepreneur comes from a French word meaning "one who undertakes or manages."
Scientists have developed an enzyme that breaks down commonly-used plastics that normally take hundreds of years to decompose. The complex protein devours polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, commonly found in packaging, carpet fibers, and textiles. The German Enzym was coined by a scientist using a Greek root meaning "in yeast" because of the way the proteins use fermentation to consume things.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York held its annual fundraising extravaganza, the Met Gala, on May 2. The posh party earned a record $17.4 million to benefit the museum's Costume Institute. About 400 celebrity guests attended the event, which had the theme of "Gilded Glamour." Attendees were dressed opulently, in gold gowns and lavish costumes. A now-obsolete 17th-century meaning of gala was "festive attire."
Spanish officials said on May 2 that hackers had breached cell phones belonging to Spain's prime minister and defense minister. Skilled programmers apparently used Pegasus spyware to break into the devices and download data from them. The term hacker was coined in the 1970s at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where it was originally used to mean "creative prankster."
The worldwide governing body for competitive figure skating proposed a new minimum age for major competitions. Currently, skaters can compete at 15 years old; under the proposal, they would have to be no younger than 17. The International Skating Union will vote on the measure next month. If it passes, the minimum age rule will apply to competitors at the 2026 Milan Olympics. In Latin, minimum translates as "smallest thing," from a root meaning "small."
Scientists say replacing grass with native wildflowers is not only a great way to provide the pollen that bees and butterflies need, but it also reduces the amount of the powdery yellow substance in the air and reduces allergic reactions in humans. When insects can find their preferred source of pollen in flowers, there's less of it floating around and irritating the eyes and noses of allergy sufferers. The Latin root of pollen means "fine flour."
Rampant speeding has become a growing problem in New York City, and a new public service campaign intends to shock drivers out of their flagrant disregard for the speed limit and rules of the road. As of April 26, the city had already recorded 64 traffic deaths for the year, half of which were pedestrians killed by cars. The $4 million media campaign will feature billboards and advertisements showing cyclists and pedestrians being thrown backward by the impact of vehicles.
A Broadway production of Macbeth canceled several shows after its star, Daniel Craig, tested positive for Covid. This led to discussion among stage actors and fans about theatrical superstitions. One of the most common of these is the belief that it's bad luck to say the name of that particular Shakespeare play aloud; actors often call it "the Scottish play" instead. Other stage superstitions include not whistling and saying "Break a leg" instead of the unlucky "Good luck."
This week, Japanese researchers published new evidence of a previously unknown genus of ocean-dwelling swan called Annakacygna. These big, flightless birds had dainty wings and long heads, as well as unusually broad hips and heavy bones. Scientists initially thought they were an unusually large kind of duck, but further research showed them to be what they've nicknamed "the ultimate bird," a close relative of modern swans. The word's root means "the singing bird."
As part of a push to conserve water in one of the most drought-stricken regions of the U.S., the city of Las Vegas will require all nonfunctional turf to be removed. The new law allows private lawns and grassy fields in public parks, but it bans all grass that doesn't serve a specific purpose. Planting turf on median strips and other decorative uses will no longer be permitted, as these grass-covered areas require frequent watering to stay green.
Scientists say they've made recent progress using the deadly venom in animals like snakes, spiders, and scorpions to develop life-saving medicines. These natural poisons have been used to create several promising drugs, including one, made with toxins from the deadly Fraser Island funnel web spider, that keeps cells from dying after a heart attack. Venom is derived from a Latin root, venenum, which means "poison."

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