This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for August 13–August 19, 2022

August 15, 2022
Stories about invasive donkeys, dreaming spiders, and an underwater village all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
On August 15, the team of attorneys defending WNBA player Brittney Griner said they had appealed her conviction in a Russian court on drug charges. The basketball star has been detained since February and was sentenced to nine years in a penal colony earlier this month. Griner's legal team made the request for a higher court to review the decision as a first step in the process of setting up a possible prisoner exchange between the U.S. and Russia.
The Supreme Court will hear a case this fall to determine whether the artist Andy Warhol violated a copyright when he created a work based on a photograph of the musician Prince. The 1981 photo, taken by Lynn Goldsmith, was used in Warhol pieces that now sell for millions of dollars. The Court will decide if Warhol created new art or infringed on Goldsmith's ownership of the photo. Copyright, coined in the 1720s, comes from the sense of "the right to make copies."
Researchers studying a species of jumping spider observed it going through phases of rapid eye movement as it slept, similar to the part of the human sleep cycle in which we dream. They concluded that the spiders may be dreaming too, though further research is needed to understand what happens when non-human animals are asleep. Dream has a Scandinavian root and is not related to the Old English dream, which means "joy or music."
As worsening drought conditions contribute to a water crisis in Southern California, middle- and upper-class residents are finally starting to replace lush, green lawns with more sustainable yards. Grass requires so much water, which is permanently in short supply, that alternatives like artificial turf, gravel, cactuses, and native plants are increasingly popular. More than 1,400 people in the Los Angeles area applied for rebates last month to help them pay to swap out their lawns.
William Ruto, the deputy president of Kenya, narrowly defeated several opponents to win that country's presidential election. Ruto was widely considered to be an underdog in the contest, and his win remains controversial as some officials questioned the legitimacy of the vote. A legal challenge is likely within the next week. The Latin source of election means "a choice."
After years of declining enrollment, historically Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, have seen an uptick in applicants over the past several years. More and more Black students are choosing to enroll at HBCUs such as Howard University and Morehouse College, where 60 percent more students registered in 2020 than 2019. Some applicants are inspired by well-known graduates of HBCUs, like Vice President Kamala Harris, and others see them as more comfortable learning environments.
Since the 1930s, wildlife managers have struggled to control a population of invasive donkeys in Death Valley National Park. While the wild, non-native animals threaten some plant species, experts have recently noted several ways they benefit the ecosystem. The feral donkeys are the main prey for mountain lions, and the donkeys' digging creates habitats for native plants. In French, feral means "wild," from the Latin phrase fera bestia, "wild animal."
Floods in northern Nigeria killed at least 50 people and displaced hundreds. Several days of torrential rain and thunderstorms caused the River Hadejia to overflow. Buildings across Jigawa State were submerged, and more than 200 homes were damaged enough that residents had to seek shelter at temporary camps. Flood derives from the Old English flōd, "an overflowing of water," and its root, which means "flow."
A new study showed that two proteins guard the genome together, working in tandem to repair damaged DNA and ward off potential cancers in human cells. Researchers observed replication protein A, or RPA, fixing broken DNA strands as another protein, WAS, directed it to the areas requiring repair. Scientists say the discovery could lead to gene therapy to prevent the growth of tumors. Genome was coined in 1920 from gene and chromosome.
Cities in India held celebrations on August 15th marking the 75th anniversary of the country's independence from British rule. Buildings were illuminated in saffron, white, and green, the colors of the flag adopted in 1947 to represent a newly independent India. Festivities included parades with elephants and dancers, as well as rousing speeches. Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned Mahatma Gandhi's "vision of inclusion" as he led the 20th century's Indian Independence Movement.
Nearly a million Brazilians have signed a manifesto warning that democracy in the country is in "immense danger." The public declaration is supported by a variety of Brazil's high-profile citizens who say they fear that the current far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, will refuse to accept the results of this fall's election if he loses. Manifesto originally meant "proof" in Italian, from the Latin manifestus, "obvious facts."
A new study provides strong evidence that Earth's seven continents were created by long-ago meteorite impacts. Researchers equate the size and effect of the giant space rocks hitting the planet with those believed to have caused the extinction of dinosaurs, "but billions of years earlier." Analysis of minerals within ancient rocks provided the proof of these transformative collisions. Meteorite is derived from a Greek root meaning "thing high up."
A nonprofit group that's dedicated to paying off unpaid medical bills has wiped out $6.7 million in patient debt. The philanthropic organization buys batches of hospital bills, most of them owed by low-income patients, and erases any responsibility to pay them. RIP Medical Debt raises money from donors, using it to purchase bundles of debt the way collection agencies do — but instead of using it to make money, the nonprofit relieves the financial burdens of millions of people.
Eight children from Lviv performed in the U.S. premiere of a Ukrainian play, Mama Po Skaipu, or Mom on Skype, on August 14. The performance took place at Irondale Center in Brooklyn, New York. The actors spoke Ukrainian, and English subtitles were displayed. The play was originally staged in a Ukrainian bomb shelter a few weeks after the Russian invasion began. Premiere is from the French première représentation, "first performance."
Llanwddyn, a village in Wales that was deliberately flooded in 1889 to create a reservoir, has reemerged thanks to a severe drought in the country. Water levels have fallen so low in the valley, which was dammed over a century ago to create the drinking water repository, that bridges, buildings, and walls are visible in the reservoir. The word's original meaning, "place where something tends to collect," comes from from the Latin reservare, which means "retain or save up."
Amaan Sandhu has become the first Indian-born athlete to earn a Division I men’s college basketball scholarship. Sandu was born in Mohali, Punjab and played with India's NBA Academy before moving to the U.S. to attend high school. The award will allow him to play college basketball at Monmouth University this fall. The "source of funds to support a scholar" definition of scholarship dates from the 1580s.
Nearly 750 million people around the world are affected by tinnitus, according to a new study that analyzed decades of research. The perception of a ringing, buzzing, or other persistent sound in the ears is considered a symptom rather than an illness itself; there are at least 200 health problems that can cause tinnitus. Though there's no clear cure for the condition, several treatments can help. In Latin, tinnitus means "a ringing or jingling."
The agency that oversees New York City's subways, trains, and buses has seen ridership decline sharply since the start of the pandemic. The transit system faces a $2.5 billion budget shortfall over the next three years, the result of fewer riders paying fares. Federal aid has helped keep transportation moving since 2020, but that money is nearly gone. As the city's transit reaches a crisis point, passengers can expect service cuts and higher fares in the near future.
The U.K. approved a new booster this week that defends against two variants of Covid-19. It's the first time a country has authorized a vaccine to target both the original version of the virus and the dominant Omicron variant. In trials, the booster was effective against both strains, as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. Variant is from the Latin variare, "to change."

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