This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for November 5–November 11, 2022

November 7, 2022
Stories about playful bumblebees, a toxic toad, and stressed-out mice all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
The National Park Service issued an unusual warning to its visitors, urging them not to lick the Sonoran desert toad, which is native to deserts in Arizona and Mexico. The amphibian secretes a toxin that's rumored to have psychedelic and therapeutic effects on humans, but which is also deadly enough to kill a dog. Touching (or tasting) this cold-blooded animal could make people very sick. Amphibian's root means "living a double life," a reference to living on land and water.
At the UN climate summit, which opened in Egypt on November 6, developing countries are making it clear they expect wealthy nations to compensate them for harmful effects of pollution. The poorest regions have borne the brunt of the effects of harmful emissions, half of which were produced by the U.S. and other industrialized countries. They have pledged $40 billion annually for climate adaptations in poorer countries, but the UN estimates this is only 20 percent of what's needed.
Past research has shown that stress is contagious, and a series of new animal studies seek to explain how anxiety can spread between individuals like a disease. One neuroscientist found that mice emit chemicals called pheromones when they're stressed, and that other mice sniff them before exhibiting their own anxious behavior. Another researcher implanted heart-rate monitors in birds in order to watch stress move between them. The Latin root of contagious means "to touch."
Competitors in the New York City Marathon on November 6 endured record levels of heat and humidity that slowed many of them and injured several. Overall, Kenyan runners dominated the race; Evans Chebet, who won the Boston Marathon last month, outpaced his rivals, finishing in two hours, eight minutes, and 41 seconds. Sharon Lokedi, who is also from Kenya, won the women's race in two hours, 23 minutes, and 23 seconds.
Greta Thunberg, the 19-year-old Swedish climate activist, will eschew the UN's international climate summit this month. Thunberg, who has attended the annual conference since 2018, called it "greenwashing" that lacks real climate action and said she will stay away this year. Eschew shares a Germanic root with shy that means "avoid, shun, or dread."
A man who was accused of obtaining fraudulent coronavirus relief loans almost a year ago was arrested this week after being spotted at Disney World. Quashon Burton had vanished after being charged with stealing people's identities and obtaining PPP loans in their names, a scheme that netted about $150,000. A federal agent was on vacation when he happened to see Burton at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando. The Latin source of fraudulent means "deceit."
Samuel Katz, a virologist who helped develop the measles vaccine, died at the age of 95. For over a decade, Dr. Katz was part of a team determined to create an immunization against the highly contagious virus, which killed more than two million people annually. The illness was so common in the 1950s that being marked by its bright red blemishes was considered a normal part of childhood. Measles is the plural of the Middle English masel, "little spot."
Scientists are studying the unusual argonaut octopus in an effort to uncover genetic secrets behind its ability to construct a shell in which it keeps its offspring safe. Argonauta Argo females build a basket-like container using minerals secreted from their own bodies, storing up to 40,000 octopus embryos inside the thin shell. Researchers suspect that the octopuses independently evolved this way to protect their progeny, rather than using inherited DNA from ancestors with shells.
Research published this month in Animal Behavior shows evidence that bumblebees, which are famous for being hard workers, are also occasionally playful. Scientists found that given the option to fly straight or move through a passage that allowed them to roll small wooden balls, the bees would often choose to roll the balls. They deduced that the insects made this choice purely for fun, and noted that younger bumblebees were more playful than adults.
Russia reactivated a network of online trolls and bots ahead of the U.S. midterm elections. Automated accounts run by a Russian agency had been inactive for a year but began posting again in the weeks just before the election. The bots' messages criticized U.S. support of Ukraine and disparaged President Biden, echoing Russia's earlier attempts to influence U.S. voters using social media. Reactivate is from re-, "again," and the Latin actus, "a doing."
Over the next five years, Macy's will spend $30 million to support small business owners who belong to groups that are underrepresented in the retail industry. That means that non-white and female entrepreneurs who sell goods will be eligible for loans and investments in their business ventures. Retail initially referred only to selling things in tiny quantities, and its Old French root, retaillier, means "to trim or cut."
Though it will take weeks after the November 8 election to know exactly how many people went to the polls, early results show an enormous turnout overall. In 2018, a record 49 percent of voters showed up to cast their ballots in the midterm, and experts suspect that the 2022 election may exceed that percentage. The total number of citizens who participate in voting really does matter: political scientists consider it a given that democracies are healthier when more people vote.

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