Week In Review

Week in Review: January 29, 2023

Understanding the News

Let’s take a look at some of the context behind recent headlines, for a deeper comprehension of the news.
Lebanon’s Currency
The Lebanese government has devalued its official currency exchange rate by 90 percent, in an effort to get a handle on the nation’s economic turmoil, which has seen a run on banks due to insolvency.
College Board Changes Course
After criticism by conservatives, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the College Board has revised its African American Studies AP course, eliminating the topic of critical race theory and making subjects like Black Lives Matter optional. So, what is the College Board and how does it set a curriculum?
34 Years Later
England’s police forces have collectively apologized for their “profound failings” at the 1989 Hillsborough disaster that saw 97 people die in stampedes at a soccer match.
Stalingrad Surrender
Today marks the 80th anniversary of the Soviet victory at Stalingrad, which many consider the turning point of World War II in Europe in favor of the Allies.

How the Groundhog Became a Meteorologist

Every February 2 since 1887, all eyes turn to Punxsutawney, Penn., to watch a groundhog emerge from hibernation. If it sees its shadow and retreats, the legend goes, there will be six more weeks of winter. Groundhog Day can be traced back to northern Europe, where farmers watched for the emergence of hibernating animals—like badgers or hedgehogs—to signal the coming of spring, which told them when to plant crops. The tradition was brought to America by Germans who migrated to Pennsylvania, where they found groundhogs in abundance.

Off the Beaten Path

The news cycle has been particularly intense over the last week, so we thought it would be fun to highlight a few offbeat stories that recently caught our attention.
Boeing, Boeing, Gone
The last Boeing 747 jet has rolled off of the assembly line, marking the end of the epochal “Queen of the Skies,” which has become less popular than more fuel-efficient models.
Big Feet to Fill
Is Bigfoot actually a bear? That’s the suggestion from data scientist Floe Foxon, who recently published a paper showing a correlation between black bear population density and Sasquatch sightings.
Bogged Up
An extensive survey of bog bodies has been released, the first to look at all of them collectively, indexing more than 1,000 mummies. But what exactly are bog bodies and why are they so remarkably well-preserved?
BTS Army, For Real
Talk about a tough act to follow. Jin, a member of K-pop band BTS, enlisted in the South Korean military in December. In January, he won first place in a military talent show, earning an extra vacation day in the process.

Why Was February Chosen for Black History Month?

The origin of this annual celebration can be traced back to historian Carter G. Woodson, who championed African American studies in the early 20th century. He chose February for a few reasons. Both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln were born in February; it’s also the month in which the Thirteenth and Fifteenth amendments—which outlawed slavery and guaranteed Blacks the right to vote—were signed. But it all started as a week-long celebration in 1926. It would take another 50 years for that week to be expanded into Black History Month.
Did You Know? Black History Month. The history and meaning of Black History Month in the United States.
How Black History Month Was Born
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Understanding the News

Let’s go below the surface into some of the dynamics shaping recent headlines.
Tyre Nichols Video
The release of body cam footage showing the deadly beating of Tyre Nichols at the hands of Memphis police led to a weekend of mostly peaceful protests across the nation, as the issue of police brutality again takes center stage in America.
Pakistan Mosque Attack
A suicide bomber attacked a mosque in northwest Pakistan on Monday, killing and injuring dozens of worshippers. A faction of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which opposes Pakistan's rule in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, claimed responsibility.
EV Price Cuts
In the wake of Tesla slashing prices on its most-popular models, Ford on Monday said that it too would cut the cost of its Mustang Mach-E. After years of increasing prices, the discounts may help promote widespread adoption by making electric vehicles more affordable.
Image: © William Barton/Shutterstock.com

Nearly Immortal

Nothing lasts forever, though some creatures come pretty close. A naked mole rat, for instance, can prevent tumors from forming and can live for 18 minutes without oxygen. The turritopsis dohrnii is called the “immortal jellyfish” due to its ability to rejuvenate cells whenever it needs to (such as if it is attacked, gets sick, faces environmental stress, or just plain grows old). But none can hold a candle to the tardigrade, also known as the water bear, which can stay in suspended animation for decades, slowing metabolism down to 0.01 percent of its normal rate.
Do We Have to Get Old and Die? A lesson demonstrating how humans and age-deyfing animals, like the naked mole rat, repair chromosomes and how that difference may affect the aging process.
The Most Indestructible Creature on Earth
© Science Faction Images—SuperStock/age fotostock
The Superpowers of a Naked Mole Rat
© Aughty Venable/Dreamstime.com

Tension in the Mideast

On Thursday an Israeli raid in the West Bank set off one of the worst cycles of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in years. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is expected to discuss tensions with the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority in person. But what is fueling the recent violence?
Netanyahu’s Return
Israel’s polarizing prime minister is relying on a far-right coalition to keep him afloat… and its ministers have already been stirring the pot.
Raids on Palestinian Militants
Militants from the Islamic Jihad movement carried out a series of attacks in Israel in 2022. Israel has been stepping up efforts to root out the organization since last year.
Jerusalem’s Holy Sites
A provocative visit by a government official to a contentious site has raised concerns about the status quo. A similar provocation in 2000 ignited a Palestinian uprising.
Image: © Elizabeth Minin

Celebrating a Peacemaker

It has been 75 years since Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, yet his legacy shines as brightly as ever. A founding father of modern India, Gandhi used peaceful civil disobedience—against the world’s most powerful empire—to achieve Indian self-rule. His approach has inspired many other movements, influencing a young Martin Luther King, Jr., for instance. Today, we celebrate one of history’s great revolutionaries, whose words still echo through any determined but nonviolent resistance across the globe.