Current Events


Agreement Ends Chicago Teachers Strike
November 9, 2019
The Chicago teachers strike has ended, after a contentious two weeks punctuated by large marches, lengthy negotiations, and plenty of missed school study time and sports playoffs contests. School resumed Friday. In all, teachers were out of school for 11 schooldays. The $1.5 billion agreement hammered out by the city and the teachers union still needs approval from the 25,000 members of the union; a vote is expected soon. A contingent of 700 elected delegates issued a tentative acceptance of the agreement on Wednesday. The agreement stipulates that only five of the 11 days will be made up, tacked on to the end of the school year in June. Teachers will be paid for those five days but not the other six. The salary increase is 16 percent, to be phased in over five years. The city agreed to place a nurse and a social worker in every city public school within five years and to implement phased hiring of new staff for the neediest schools, with principals making the call on what type of staff is needed. Another concession won by the union was a guarantee of nap time for children in pre-kindergarten classes.

Bolivian President Morales Resigns, Calls for New Elections
November 10, 2019
Bolivian President Evo Morales Bolivians will have another chance to vote in presidential elections just a month after the last one, after their president has stepped down. The embattled President Evo Morales made the announcement after the 35-member Organization of American States (OAS) recommended that the results of the October 20 election be thrown out. The OAS report found evidence of voting irregularities in counting and computer systems. In particular, the report noted that vote counting was halted with 84 percent of the votes counted and Morales appearing to be heading to a runoff with his opponent, Carlos Mesa, and when the vote tallying resumed after a full day of delay, the result showed Morales with a 10-point victory. The country's electoral rules call for one candidate to get at least 50 percent of the vote or have a 10-percentage lead over the nearest opponent. Polls leading up to the election showed that Mesa and Morales were running neck-and-neck. Morales resigned and also removed the members of the electoral council who had overseen the disputed election.

Re-enacting America's Largest Slave Uprising
November 8, 2019
German Coast Slave Revolt re-enactmentA group of determined volunteers donned period clothing, some marched and others rode horses, and all got into the spirit of historical re-enactment as about 500 people commemorated America's largest slave uprising with a 26-day march. Retracing the route taken by the 19th-Century slaves, the volunteers chanted "Freedom or Death" and other inspirational slogans as they walked along a levee on a two-day, 26-mile journey that began near La Place and ended in New Orleans. This time around, the idea was to celebrate the people who risked their lives in a desperate bid for freedom. Capping the journey was a celebration in New Orleans' Congo Square, in Louis Armstrong Park. Leading the re-enactment was a New York-based artist named Dread Scott (an echo of the famous slave whose lawsuit reached the U.S. Supreme Court).

Venezuela Expels More Diplomats as Barter Proliferates
November 10, 2019
Venezuela has ordered the expulsion of El Salvador's diplomats, a day after El Salvador President Nayib Bukele expelled Venezuela's diplomatic representatives, bringing to 55 the number of countries that have rejected the embattled presidency of Nicolas Maduro. Bukele further said that he and his government would accept a diplomatic mission from Venezuela's opposition leader, Juan Guaido, who appointed himself interim president earlier this year after the country's top legislative body deemed Maduro's 2018 re-election unofficial. Maduro succeeded longtime leader Hugo Chavez as president in 2012 and was elected again six years later.

Meanwhile, in the cities and towns, Venezuelans struggled to buy staples such as a food and gasoline. In fact, many motorists reported having to resort to barter, trading food for gasoline, because of a steep drop in the value and even the availability of the bolivar, the national currency.

Climate Change Study Required in Italian Schools
November 9, 2019
Italy has announced plans to require its students to study climate change and sustainable development, making it the first country in the world to do so. Beginning in September 2020, students in all levels of Italian public schools will study climate-change-related materials for 33 hours during the school year, or about one hour a week. Many teachers already address such topics, but the study of those topics will be a requirement, Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti announced. In addition, the Ministry said, teachers of other subjects–such as geography, mathematics, and physics–will be asked to include sustainable development ideas where possible.

More New Entrants into National Toy Hall of Fame
November 8, 2019

Coloring book Magic: the Gathering Matchbox cars
Another three toys have joined the ever-growing numbers of inductees in the National Toy Hall of Fame. The 2019 entrants are the coloring book, Magic: the Gathering, and Matchbox cars. That brings the total of toys inducted into the Hall to 63.

U.S. Officially Starts Paris Climate Agreement Pullout
November 4, 2019
As promised, the U.S. Government has announced that it is withdrawing the nation from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that the U.S. had notified the United Nations. The U.S., along with 194 other countries, signed the climate agreement, committing to cut greenhouse gas emissions up to 28 percent by 2030. Part of the provisions put in by all of those countries was the ability to opt out. If a country wanted to do that, it had to wait four years from the date of the signing of the original agreement. And then, the exit process is not trigged until a further year after that. (Coincidentally or not, that date is one day after the 2020 presidential and congressional elections.) U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to pull out of the accord in 2017. So far, no other country has indicated that it will leave the Paris Agreement. The U.S. is the world's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, trailing only China.

Stonehenge Builders Lived Just a Mile Away, Archaeologists Say
November 2, 2019

As it turns out, the people who built Stonehenge didn't live very far away. Archaeologists have found more than 70,000 stone tools at Blick Mead, a site just a mile away from the iconic stone circle monument in Wiltshire. Also known as Vespasian's Camp, the site predates the Romans and nearly Aurochs cave paintingeveryone else, with settlements dating to about 6000 B.C. The settlement was at that time next to a river, which was on a large flood plain that would have been home to a large number of auruchs, a type of cattle that is now extinct. Among the finds at the dig have been aurochs skulls and bones, situated in a particular way, suggesting that they were placed there with a certain amount of reverence, if not part of a ceremony. Radar scans of underground layers of soil revealed a 30-foot-long structure that had the remains of cattle prints in it, another sign of the role that such animals played in the society of the people who settled there. Similar findings have been announced at Stonehenge itself.

Niagara Falls Scow Moves a Century after Running Aground
November 2, 2019
Niagara Falls stuck boat An iron boat that ran aground near Niagara Falls has finally moved, 101 years later. The 80-foot-long dumping scow on a dredging mission broke loose from a tugboat just above Horseshoe Falls on the afternoon of Aug. 6, 1918, and ran aground 600 feet from shore. The U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities rescued the two men onboard, who opened dumping doors before they left, which slowed the boat so it wouldn't be borne away by the current. On Halloween 2019, however, heavy weather and heavy current combined in moving the boat from its century-old moorings, flipping it on its side and moving it more than 160 feet downriver, closer to the edge of the falls.

Babe Ruth-signed Baseball Expected to Fetch $50,000 at Auction
November 3, 2019
Babe Ruth signed baseball 1915 World Series A baseball signed by the one of the sport's most larger-than-life characters, Babe Ruth, is going up for auction. Ruth, who gained most fame by hitting 714 home runs during his career, began as a pitcher, playing for the Boston Red Sox and helping them win the World Series in 1915 and in 1918. (He was later traded to the Yankees, an event that triggered stories of the "Curse of the Bambino".) The ball is from that year's World Series and has 27 other autographs, including that of another Hall of Famer, Tris Speaker. Dick Hoblitzel, a former Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds first baseman who was Ruth's teammate in 1914–1918, had the ball, and his family has put the ball up for auction as part of the Fall 2019 Classic Auction by Leland's auction house. The Matawan, N.J.-based Leland's says that the Babe Ruth-signed baseball is expected to sell for at least $50,000.

New Brexit Deadline: January 2020
October 28, 2019
Brexit has a new deadline, and it's in 2020. The exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union was originally scheduled to happen earlier this year, on March 29. Then, both the U.K. and the EU agreed to an extension, with a new deadline of April 12. Then, both sides agreed to another extension, October 31. Now, the new deadline is Jan. 31, 2010. The reason: The U.K. Parliament has still not agreed to any sort of deal regarding immigration, trade, and a myriad other details that would be thrown into open question if no details are ironed out.

Chicago Teachers Strike Stretches to Second Week
October 28, 2019
The Chicago teachers strike has reached an eighth day, with more than 300,000 students still missing out. Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union are no closer to reaching an agreement that would put teachers back into the classrooms of the nation's third-largest school system. Sources for both sides disagreed on the size of the money gap, with the union saying that the district needed to find another $38 million and the district saying that the what the union was asking for would require another $100 million. Both sides negotiated through the weekend, with Janice Jackson, the school district's chief executive officer, joining in for the first time.

$26 Million for Medieval Painting Found Hanging in French Kitchen
October 27, 2019
Cimabue lost painting A painting hanging above an electrical appliance in a French kitchen has sold at auction for €24.2 million ($26.8 million). The 8-inch-by-11-inch painting is Christ Mocked, part of a series of eight scenes from the last days of Jesus that dates to the 1280s. The artist was Cimabue, who some art historians revere as influential in the development of Western painting. It was the first time that a work by the celebrated painter had been up for sale at auction.

Ocean Cleanup Company Turns to Rivers
October 28, 2019
Ocean Cleanup Interceptor Boyan Slat has set sights on a new target: the world's polluted rivers. The Dutch inventor who founded The Ocean Cleanup and launched a working plastic retrieval system into the depths of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has invented a device to pluck rubbish out of a river. The Interceptor is a solar-powered machine that floats down rivers, scooping up plastic waste as it goes, keeping that refuse from reaching the oceans. The machine guides the trash into an opening in the bow and then along a conveyor belt to a set of receptacles deep inside. The front of the machine is designed to keep obstacles like floating tree trunks from interfering with the waste collection. The modern technology element comes in the form of what happens next: The Interceptor is designed to send text messages, to organize collection of the plastic waste collected.

Chicago Teachers Strike Stretches to 5 Days
October 23, 2019
Chicago teachers are still on strike, five schooldays after rejecting the latest in a series of offers from city officials. About 25,000 educators marched through the city streets to City Hall, where Mayor Lori Lightfoot was delivering a budget proposal. Lightfoot was elected just a few months ago. In her first State of the City address, she unveiled a plan for how the city could address an $838 million budget deficit. The city budget is separate from the school district budget, but the shortfall does indicate that the city doesn't have extra revenue beyond what it has already offered.

Egypt Reveals 30 Well Preserved Coffins, Mummies
October 20, 2019
Egypt has revealed the largest find of coffins by a domestic team in nearly a century. Officials unveiled 30 coffins, dating to 3,000 years ago, and some of the coffins contained mummies. Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany said that the very well preserved remains were of 23 men, five women, and two children and that some of the men appeared to be priests. He said that they knew this because of hands painted on the coffin: closed fists for males and open hands for females. Also painted on the coffins were hieroglyphs, depictions of deities and of scenes from the Book of the Dead, and even the names of the some of the dead.

U.K. Seeks Further Delay as Brexit Deadline Looms
October 21, 2019
The Brexit countdown ticks on. It's 10 days until the deadline that the European Union has set for the United Kingdom to submit details on Brexit, the exit of the U.K. from the EU. The U.K. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was in Europe last week for a meeting with European Union leaders; at that meeting, the leaders agreed to a deal that contained many specifics of that economic and political divorce. However, the deal is contingent on the U.K. Parliament's agreeing to the details; yet again on Saturday, Parliament didn't agree.

Wreck of Japanese Carrier Sunk at Midway Found
October 21, 2019
Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga It's not just American ships that the famed research vessel RV Petrel is after in its searches under the sea. The team announced finding the wreckage of the Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga, one of four carriers that American force sunk during pivotal World War II Battle of Midway. Photos taken by the craft show guns and gun mounts on the ship, which rested 18,000 feet below the surface. The converted battleship saw action during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the invasion of Rabaul, and the attack on Darwin, Australia.

Chicago Teachers Go on Strike
October 17, 2019
About 27,000 educators and members of the Chicago Teachers Union picketed schools around Chicago, starting at 6:30 a.m. Not attending school were the nearly 300,000 students who would normally report for learning in the U.S.'s third-largest school district. A full three-quarters of students across the city qualify free for lunch that is free or offered at a reduced price. As well, as large number of students eat more than one of their daily meals at school. To address this need, Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Janice Jackson said, schools would remain open to provide three meals a day. Teachers will not be at work, but administrative staff will. School buses will not be running, however.

Interactive Monopoly Game to Open in Hong Kong
October 17, 2019
Monopoly Hong KongOpening soon in Hong Kong is a real-life interactive entertainment area inspired by the board game Monopoly. The 20,000-square-foot attraction will open its doors on October 26 at The Peak Galleria, near some of the world's most expensive properties. First up for visitors will be an elevator ride to the secret home of Uncle Pennybags (Mr. Monopoly), the famous top-hat-wearing symbol of the game. After a brief tour of the residence (which contains, among other things, an oversized of the car token that has been the choice for millions of players through the years), visitors go through a neon-lit tunnel named Pass Go and end up in a town called Monopoly.

Unmanned Mayflower to Retrace Pilgrims' Voyage
October 16, 2019
Mayflower Autonomous Ship Another, unmanned Mayflower will retrace its famous predecessor's route across the Atlantic to mark the 400th anniversary of the journey of the Pilgrims to the New World. The Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS) will sail from Plymouth in the United Kingdom in September 2020 across the Atlantic to the United States. The plan is for the self-guided vessel to complete its journey in two weeks. The original Mayflower, carrying 102 English people in search of religious freedom, took two months, launching in September 1620 and reaching the eastern coast of North America in December of that year.

Louvre Leonardo Exhibit to Feature Vitruvian Man
October 16, 2019
The Vitruvian Man is going to France. The famed anatomical drawing by Leonardo, a combination of art and mathematics, will appear in next week's Louvre exhibition commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance Man's death. (He was born April 15, 1452, in Vinci, Italy, and died on May 2,, 1519, in Amboise, France.) The exhibit opens October 24 at the Paris museum and runs through Feb. 24, 2020. "Vitruvian Man" will be on display until December 14. Italia Nostra, a heritage conversation group, had gone to court to stop the loan of the famous drawing on the grounds that it was too delicate to travel or be displayed publicly. The drawing, which Leonardo did about 1490, is ink on paper. Its usual home is a climate-controlled room at the Accademia Gallery in Venice that is not open to the public. An administrative court said that as long as the transportation and display efforts followed proper procedure, the Louvre could borrow the art work.

California Schools to Have Later Start Times
October 13, 2019
California students will be able to start school later, the result of a bill passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The new law will take effect at the beginning of the 2022–2023 school year or at the end of a school's collective bargaining agreement (whichever of those is later). In the end, middle schools must start no earlier than 8 a.m. and high schools must start no earlier than 8.30 a.m. The stipulations are for required classes only; schools can still offer optional classes before the official start of the school day. As well, some rural schools are exempt. One estimate found that about half of the state's schools would have to change their start times once the new law takes effect.

Retired Law Professor Saied to Head Tunisian Government
October 13, 2019
Kais Saied The new President of Tunisia is Kais Saied, a law professor who was not part of the political establishment and ran an independent campaign. The national electoral commission reported that 72.71 percent of voters cast their votes for the 61-year-old Saied. It was a runaway win for the retired academic who promised to fight corruption and support moves to transfer some governmental power away from the federal apparatus. A regular television commentator, he was part of the committee who helped draft the country's new constitution, in 2014.

Leonardo's 500-year-old Bridge Crosses Digital Divide
October 13, 2019
Leonardo bridge drawings In the same way that physicists keep proving hunches and predictions by Albert Einstein correct decades after his death, a group of researchers have proven workable a 500-year-old bridge design by Renaissance Man Leonardo Da Vinci. Leonardo, at the behest of Sultan Bayezid II of the Ottoman Empire, had in 1502 submitted a proposal for the design of a bridge to connect Istanbul (then Constantinople) to its neighboring city Galata, across a river estuary known as the Golden Horn. Leonardo didn't win that contract, but he did outline a bridge concept that, like many other things in his famous Notebooks, were ahead of their time. Leonardo's design called for a 918-foot-long bridge, which would have been the longest bridge in the world at that time. A bridge of such length would, using techniques in use at the time, have required supports in the form of semicircular arches and at least 10 piers, the researchers said. Leonardo, however, proposed one flattened arch, which would have been tall enough for a sailboat, mast and all, to sail through underneath. A group of researchers at MIT have built a model to prove that Leonardo's theory was correct.

ACT to Allow Retakes of Parts of Exam
October 9, 2019
Students wanting to retake the ACT will be able to focus on only certain parts, organizers of the college entrance exam have announced. Starting in 2020, students can sit the exam again but take only individual parts; at the moment, a student can resit the exam but has to take the entire test again. To reflect this change, organizers have introduced a "superscore," a composite score of each time that a student has attempted a certain part of the exam. Officials said that they were making the change in part because of reports that students who retook the exam scored worse on subsequent sittings.

5,000-year-old 'New York' Found in Israel
October 8, 2019
Israel settlement Archaeologists in Israel have found a very large city that dates to 5,000 years ago north of Tel Aviv. The city is one of the largest ever found in Israel. Surrounding the city was a detailed fortification wall, at times six feet high. In the city was a large temple, inside of which were burnt animal bones, and figurines with animal and human faces; outside the temple was a large courtyard, in which were a large stone basin that religious officials filled with ceremonial liquids. Also found in the city was a cemetery. As well, the findings include a systematic street and city design–divided between public and residential buildings–that suggest a sophisticated approach to settlement design, Antiquities Authority officials said. The city, which is 5,000 years old, at its height would have had a population of about 6,000 and, officials said, would have been "the Bronze Age new York."

Famed D-Day Recording Found in Basement
October 6, 2019
D-Day landings An original recording of a famous account of the D-Day landings is in the public arena again, after being discovered in a New York basement. George Hicks was the reporter who came under fire from German planes while he was on the USS Ancon, as part of the armada that stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. The recording is 13 minutes of what Hicks observed as the invasion progressed. He is heard speaking calmly amid the chaos of war, his words competing for purchase over the roars of planes and guns and soldiers.

Ocean Plastic Cleanup Machine Records First Success
October 6, 2019
A giant refuse retrieval system has claimed its first victims: part of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit engineered by 25-year-old Boyan Slat, sent System 001/B out into the Pacific, in search of the hard-to-miss mass of garbage between California and Hawaii that at last estimate comprised more than 617,000 square miles of floating debris. The mechanism did its job, trapping within its nets a large selection of rubbish that would otherwise have had the potential to not only pollute the world's waterways but also endanger the world's marine life.

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Social Studies for Kids
copyright 20022019
David White