This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for July 23–July 29, 2022

July 26, 2022
Stories about space trash, baby talk, and butterflies all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
A lawsuit against the Mars company claims that Skittles contain a dangerous additive that is "unfit for human consumption." California resident Jenile Thames says that titanium dioxide, which the manufacturer adds to the candy to enhance its color, is unsafe and requires a warning for consumers. While the ingredient is permitted in food by the FDA, the European Food Safety Authority announced in 2021 that it "could no longer be considered safe," because it has the potential to damage DNA.
On July 25, Pope Francis issued a formal apology to Indigenous Canadians for the country's Christian residential school system. For decades, Native children were taken from their families and sent to the schools, where abuse was common. The pope used the word "sorry" twice during his speech. Apology originally meant "justification," from the Greek apologia, "a speech in defense," and the Socratic tradition of presenting a reasoned response to accusations.
A new website in the Netherlands offers the chance for people to barter for household repairs. Instead of paying money to fix things including appliances, furniture, torn clothing, and even cars, Guilder allows people to trade skills. For example, a user might request help fixing a broken toaster in exchange for a haircut or a few dog walking sessions. The Old French source of barter is barater, which means "to trade," but also "to cheat."
A widespread heatwave in China resulted in temperatures so high on July 23 that a bridge in Quanzhou buckled and broke in half. Chinese social media shared a video of the 20-year-old bridge as it contorted in the 104-degree heat, twisting and eventually collapsing. No one was injured in the incident. The verb buckle comes from bokelen, "to arch the body," and its Old French root, bocler, "to bulge."
On July 26, European Union members agreed on a deal that would reduce their consumption of natural gas. The compromise is intended to lessen the EU's dependence on Russian fuel and avoid an energy crisis in Europe. All EU countries must cut their use of natural gas by at least 15 percent under the agreement. Consumption derives from the Latin consumere, "to use up."
Following a Chinese rocket's successful launch on July 24, observers are watching closely to see where the broken pieces of its booster might land. While this space debris is unlikely to cause harm, the rocket's large size raises these odds slightly. The remains of a 2020 launch of the same rocket damaged villages in the Ivory Coast, but debris from a 2021 booster fell safely in the Indian Ocean. Debris is from an obsolete French word, debriser, "crush."
President Biden, who has made few comments about investigations into the January 6 attack on the Capitol, condemned the actions of former President Trump in a July 25 statement. Biden denounced Trump's refusal to stop his supporters as they stormed the Capitol, saying he "lacked the courage to act." The criticism, in a speech before the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, emphasized the fact that police officers were assaulted on January 6.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has added North America's migratory monarch butterfly to its list of endangered species. Over the past decades, both the milkweed the butterflies need to survive and the forests where adult monarchs live in the winter have declined sharply. Warming temperatures have also led to smaller populations of the showy insects year after year. To support the threatened butterflies, scientists are encouraging the public to plant native milkweed.
According to disease experts, the country must act decisively to contain the spread of monkeypox. Epidemiologists say there are currently at least 3,000 U.S. cases of the disease, which has been declared a public health emergency by the WHO. These scientists emphasize the critical need to ramp up supplies of tests and vaccines. The Greek root of epidemiologist is epidemios, "among the people."
U.S. stores that faced shortages of goods over the past two years, including appliances, furniture, fitness supplies and electronics, are now experiencing a glut of those same items. Large retailers like Target and Walmart have especially large surpluses of merchandise as customers have pivoted to spending on services rather than goods. The "oversupply" meaning of glut comes from earlier definitions: "feeling of being overfull," and "a gulp."
As the Gulf of Maine warms, pushing lobsters north into cooler water, lobstermen have seen their livelihoods threatened. One company, Atlantic Sea Far, is helping them fill in longer gaps between seasons by harvesting kelp. The seaweed, feathery and green when it's pulled from the ocean, is sold frozen and used in salads and smoothies. Kelp seeds planted on one rope in the fall can yield 6,000 pounds of fresh seaweed by spring. It's one of many pushes to diversify Maine's economy.
WNBA player Brittney Griner, detained in Russia since February on drug charges, appeared in court July 25. Griner's attorneys gave evidence that she hadn't intended to break the law, part of the defense team's argument for leniency from the court. They argued that Griner had a medical cannabis prescription for pain and that she should be returned to the U.S. instead of facing up to ten years in a Russian prison. The Latin root of leniency means "mild, gentle, or calm."
lingua franca
A worldwide study has found that parents around the globe speak a kind of lingua franca to their babies. This baby talk, or "parentese," is a sing-songy way of talking that sounds nearly identical across cultures. A large team of researchers collected more than 1,600 recordings of parents cooing at their infants in 18 different languages and found broad similarities, including high pitch and variability. Scientists suspect an evolutionary cause for this near-universal communication.
Ever since a 2021 volcanic eruption in Iceland, scientists have been using the rare event to get a closer look at the thick layer of earth that lies between Earth's crust and its core. Lava from the Fagradalsfjall volcano, dormant for 781 years, revealed previously unknown material from the planet's mantle. Analysis has shown chemical composition in the layer that may help scientists better understand what causes volcanic eruptions. Mantle comes from a word meaning "cloak."
A Massachusetts man was installing solar panels at a job site when he joined a search to find a missing five-year-old girl. The child, described by her frantic mother as "special-needs," had vanished just 15 minutes earlier. While neighbors searched their garages and yards, Jake Manna began looking in a nearby wooded area. He spotted the girl waist-deep in a marsh, waded into the sticky mud to pull her out of the swampy water, and returned her, damp but unharmed, to her grateful mother.
New research suggests that microscopic robots may soon be used to treat some illnesses. Chinese scientists created the machines, which are guided with lasers, using white blood cells. Earlier attempts with synthetic materials were less successful and more likely to be rejected by patients' bodies. So tiny they can only be seen with a microscope, the robots are manipulated by precision lasers called "scanning optical tweezers" that can move them wherever they're needed in the body.
A Brooklyn pastor and his wife were robbed during a Sunday sermon on July 24. Lamor Miller-Whitehead, who goes by "Bishop," was preaching at the Leaders of Tomorrow church when three armed robbers stole more than $1 million of jewelry that he and his wife, Asia DosReis-Whitehead, were wearing. In Latin, pastor means "shepherd," and the religious use comes from the idea of "shepherd or guider of souls."
After two difficult pandemic years, most small business owners in the U.S. aren't feeling very hopeful. A new survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses showed that the majority of them are pessimistic about the future. It revealed that one in three small businesses won't survive three months without a dramatic change or financial investment — a bleak result of expensive goods and a shortage of workers.
The U.S. economy shrank for the second quarter in a row, which is one of the markers of a possible recession. However, most economists — along with the Biden administration — say it's too soon to diagnose the nation as being in an official economic decline. There are additional indicators of a recession, like employment and spending, which aren't reflecting such an extreme downturn. The economic use of recession began in 1929, at the start of the Great Depression.

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