This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for July 30–August 5, 2022

August 1, 2022
Stories about mysterious holes on the ocean floor, a 500-year-old shark, and a helpful hawk all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
A popular spray-on sunscreen was recalled after trace amounts of a known carcinogen were found in some batches of it. The Banana Boat company pulled SPF 30 Hair & Scalp Defense from store shelves after an internal review detected the presence of benzene in some products. The FDA said that benzene, which causes cancer in humans, was found in the propellant in the spray, rather than the sunscreen itself. The Greek root of carcinogen means "cancer or crab."
Residents of eastern Kentucky are just beginning to return to normal after last week's torrential rain and devastating flooding. The deluge caused streams, rivers, and creeks to overflow their banks, resulting in floods and mudslides that killed at least 37 people. Dozens remain missing, and hundreds lost their homes. The storm drenched the state with up to 12 inches of rain. Deluge is from the Latin diluere, "wash away."
Three centuries after she was found guilty of being a witch, Elizabeth Johnson Jr. has been exonerated. Johnson, who lived in Andover, Massachusetts at the end of the 17th century, was the last person convicted during the Salem witch trials to have her name officially cleared. The exoneration was part of a state budget bill signed into law last week, after three years of lobbying by an eighth grade teacher and her civics class. The root of exonerate means "remove a burden."
The United Nations has negotiated a deal to allow limited grain exports from Ukraine. The agreement makes it possible for Ukrainian-grown wheat to be shipped by sea to other countries, in an attempt to ease a worldwide food shortage partially caused by Russia's invasion. It will also provide about $1 billion in revenue for Ukraine in exchange for the grain. Before the war, the country was one of the world's major exporters of wheat.
Faced with a pigeon overpopulation in a subway station, California's Bay Area Rapid Transit hired a hawk named Pac Man to solve the problem. The El Cerrito del Norte station was overrun with pigeons and covered in their droppings when BART turned to Falcon Force, a pest-reduction company. Pac Man is a Harris's hawk, a raptor that's a natural predator of small birds; with his handler's help, he has scared away nearly all the pigeons. The root of hawk means "to grasp."
More than 4,000 beagles were removed from a Virgina research facility that kept them in inhumane conditions. The Humane Society of the United States is organizing an effort involving dozens of animal rescue groups to find safe, compassionate homes for the dogs. Earlier this year, a judge ruled that the Envigo facility, which used the beagles for pharmaceutical testing, had violated federal regulations by performing "unnecessarily painful medical procedures" on them.
A new study shows evidence that early Europeans drank milk for thousands of years despite being unable to properly digest it. Research that examined ancient human DNA and pottery shards coated in milk found that these lactose-intolerant groups made milk part of their diet although they lacked the enzyme that can break down its sugars. A French chemist coined lactose in 1843, from the Latin lac, "milk," and the chemical suffix -ose.
Nichelle Nichols, famous for her portrayal of Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek, died on July 30 at the age of 89. Nichols was one of the first Black women to be cast in a starring role on a TV show, playing the authoritative communications officer alongside William Shatner's Captain Kirk. Her character was fourth in command of the U.S.S. Enterprise. After the show ended in 1969, Nichols worked with NASA, recruiting minority and female astronaut candidates.
An English village is using an unusual traffic-slowing technique along one of its busiest roads: planting wildflower meadows. While reducing the speed limit and posting signs did nothing to slow speeding drivers, Long Newnton officials found that replacing grass with fields of native plants made them slow down. The lush expanses of flowers — and the birds and butterflies they attract — give motorists something to look at, inspiring them to take their feet off their gas pedals.
When the Canadian company Candy Funhouse posted an available position, they were overwhelmed with applicants — more than 6,000 of them. The "Chief Candy Officer" job pays $78,000 annually and involves taste testing 100 pieces of candy daily, running candy board meetings, and helping to decide what products the company will carry. Unlike most positions, this one requires nothing beyond living in North America and having "a passion for candy, pop culture, and a sweet tooth."
A study published in the journal Nature on August 1 shows that friendships between wealthy and poor people are correlated with reduced rates of poverty. By analyzing Facebook connections between 72 million people, researchers concluded that living in a place where people of different economic classes are friends increases the odds that a poor child will earn more money as an adult. Poverty comes from a Latin root, pauper meaning "poor."
A nuclear power station in Nikopol, Ukraine, is being used by the Russian army as a kind of fortress in its ongoing invasion. The reactor, Europe's largest, acts as cover while troops fire rockets from behind it. Ukrainians can't return fire without risking a release of radioactive waste. Many nearby residents have vacated the town, fearing dangerous radiation. Reactors are named for the way they house and control the nuclear reactions that occur inside them.
A slowing U.S. economy has curbed hiring at large technology companies, but economists say the businesses are unusually resilient. Amid a second-quarter drop in gross domestic product, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon all had earnings that reflected their ability to bounce back, especially when compared to smaller companies. The diversity of big tech's products is part of their resilience. Resilient's literal meaning, "springing back," is from a root defined as "to jump back."
During the same months that drivers saw gas prices increase dramatically, the two largest oil companies, ExxonMobil and Chevron, increased their revenue by staggering amounts. Exxon earned $111 billion during the three months of the second quarter, up 68 percent from the previous year; Chevron's revenue was $64 billion during the same period, an 80 percent increase. Revenue has a root meaning "come back."
Scientists say they're mystified by indentations they've discovered on the bottom of the ocean. The holes were spotted in the sediment along the floor of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, forming a regular pattern in the sand and silt. Tracks of about a dozen holes, four inches apart, were found in several locations. One theory is that animals below the sediment use the holes to breathe. Sediment is from the Latin sedimentum, "a sinking down."
President Biden announced that on August 1, a U.S. drone strike killed one of the people who planned the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Ayman al-Zawahri, who became the leader of Al Qaeda after the 2011 death of Osama Bin Laden, was at a safe house in Afghanistan when he was killed. Al-Zawahri was known for rallying radical groups to kill Americans around the world. Terrorist comes from terror and a root meaning "to tremble."
A large increase in tourism since the start of the pandemic has inspired several California counties to rework their rules about short-term rentals. Visitors traveling from out of state have been booking Airbnbs in such huge numbers that there aren't enough rental properties for local residents in certain areas. New restrictions in San Diego, Marin county, and other regions are hoped to tip the balance back toward local renters instead of favoring tourists.
The longest-lived vertebrate on Earth is the Greenland shark. This week one of these massive sea creatures, which mainly live in Arctic waters, surprised researchers off the coast of Belize. Scientists were glad to learn that the animals, which can live to be 500 years old, are apparently able to thrive in the tropics. Vertebrate is from vertebra, or "spine."

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