This Week in Words: Current Events Vocabulary for December 31–January 6, 2023

January 2, 2023
Stories about brand new citizens, a see-through frog, and a coyote invasion all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
A college in Michigan has published its annual list of words and phrases they believe should be eliminated from our vocabularies. The faculty at Lake Superior State University would like to banish overused or meaningless terms including "inflection point," "GOAT," "irregardless," and phrases like "it is what it is." Since 1976, the college has argued in favor of ousting hundreds of words from the English language. Banish shares a root with ban meaning "to prohibit."
NFL player Damar Hamlin remained in critical condition after suffering cardiac arrest during a game on January 2. Hamlin, a safety for the Buffalo Bills, collapsed after receiving a hard blow to his chest as he tackled another player. He was unresponsive, with no pulse, and rescuers performed CPR and used a defibrillator to restart his heart. The Greek root of cardiac is kardia, "heart."
Border clashes between China and India have led to an Indian withdrawal from Himalayan buffer zones, hampering the traditional cashmere industry there. Chinese military bases increasingly occupy space in fields where goats once grazed. Semi-nomadic herders, whose animals produce soft, warm Pashmina wool, have less and less room for their goats. The lightweight fiber has been produced in the Himalayas for centuries, in a region known as Kashmir, the source of cashmere.
Nearly one million people were sworn in as U.S. citizens in 2022, the highest number in almost 15 years. Because of the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of immigrants were unable to obtain citizenship in time to vote in the 2020 election. Many of those who officially became Americans last year say they were motivated by anti-immigrant rhetoric and a desire to participate in the political process. Citizen originally meant "inhabitant of a city," from a root that means "city."
Despite revelations about his many deceptions, George Santos spent his first day on Capitol Hill on January 3. Santos, a Republican representative from New York, lied about his education, background, and work experience before and after being elected in November. He has falsely claimed to be Jewish, to have worked at Goldman Sachs, and to have founded a nonprofit animal rescue, among many other fabrications. Santos faces criminal investigations into ways he deceived voters and donors.
This week, thousands of mourners paid their last respects to the pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, who died on December 31 at the age of 95. The former Roman Catholic pontiff served as pope from 2005 to 2013, when he stepped down due to health issues and was succeeded by Pope Francis. Benedict was the first pope in 600 years to retire and take an emeritus position. In Latin, emeritus means "veteran soldier who has served his time."
Brazil inaugurated its new president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, on January 1. Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians turned up to show their support and celebrate the launching of Lula's presidency. In lieu of former leader Jair Bolsonaro bestowing a ceremonial sash on the incoming president, 33-year-old garbage collector Aline Sousa played the role, representing the Brazilian people. The Latin root of inaugurate literally means "take omens from the flights of birds."
The small Massachusetts town of Nahant hired federal sharpshooters to help them deal with a recent influx of coyotes. It's the state's first municipality to seek help from the Department of Agriculture. The town is home to 3,000 people, and the arrival of about 1,000 coyotes has frightened many, although no humans have been harmed. Several small dogs have been attacked and killed, however, three while being walked on a leash. Wildlife experts will start targeting coyotes later this month.
Scientists struggle to explain a phenomenon known as " precision waking," when people wake up immediately before their alarms go off. Researchers who specialize in sleep disagree over what might cause someone to awake at precisely 6:59, just in time to turn off a 7:00 alarm before it buzzes, but many people report similar experiences. Some experts say it's likely that anxiety about being late is responsible, pointing to the fact that the stress hormone cortisol is released before we wake.
About a million U.K. workers are on strike, including nurses, railway employees, and ambulance crews. Public support for laborers as they negotiate for better wages remains high. The walkouts are the result of salaries being outpaced by high costs due to inflation; many nurses say they rely on food banks in order to feed themselves and their families. Strike's "work stoppage" meaning may stem from a nautical sense of striking, or pulling down, a boat's sails.
A transparent frog’s ability to hide its blood from predators could offer clues for preventing deadly blood clots in people. The glass frog is almost completely see-through, camouflaging itself in nature using its clear skin, muscles, and tissue. When it sleeps, the animal's red blood cells move into its liver, essentially hiding there — the fact that the blood doesn't coagulate and clot may help scientists develop methods to protect humans from dangerous clots forming in blood vessels.
In 2022, Elon Musk became the first person in history to lose $200 billion in wealth. Musk, who is CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter, currently has a net worth of about $140 billion; in 2021, his riches were valued at $340 billion. Most of the loss is tied to a sharp drop in the value of Tesla stock. Wealth originally meant "happiness," as well as "possession of riches," from a Middle English root that means "well-being."

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