Current Events

 

Dueling Protests as Parliament Brexit Vote Looms
December 9, 2018 Brexit logo
Ahead of a Parliamentary vote on the proposed Brexit plan, to facilitate the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, thousands of people took to the streets in London and elsewhere to voice support for their causes, on both sides of the issue. The U.K. government has invoked Article 50 of the EU constitution, which provides for measures to be taken in order for one country to leave the Union; it is the first time that such measures have been taken. Negotiations between the U.K. and EU have been ongoing, in fits and starts, with a March 29, 2019, deadline looming. That is the day on which the official split is to happen, as the last day of the two-year provision set for in Article 50. The vote by Parliament is on the latest proposal put forth by Prime Minister Theresa May and by EU negotiators. The government is a minority one, meaning that opposition parties have more seats in the House of Commons than does May's Conservative Party. Opposition in Parliament to the proposed deal is expected to be strong.

Objections Scuttle Agreement at Climate Change Conference
December 9, 2018 COP24 logo

Negotiators at the COP24 climate change conference in Poland have ended their first week's tasks without reaching agreement on how to treat a landmark report. At the end of the first week of the two-week conference, which is taking in Katowice, negotiators from Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. joined together to ensure that the conference would not "welcome" the recent IPCC report that listed stark consequences of the world's leading nations' not taking action to reduce the increase in global temperatures. The vast majority of the other nearly 200 countries in attendance were willing to accept the report, meaning that it would be a blueprint for actions to take in the future. But the four objecting nations would not agree to use the word "welcome" because of a belief that that would constitute an endorsement of the report. Instead, those four nations agreed that the report would be "noted," a stance that requires no consequent action.

Murray Keeps Heisman Trophy in Oklahoma's Hands
December 9, 2018 Kyler Murray, Heisman Trophy winner
Kyler Murray won the 2018 Heisman Trophy. The Oklahoma junior quarterback was a runaway winner, with 517 first-place and 2,167 total points. Runner-up was Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama, with 299 first-place votes and 1,871 total points. Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins finished third. It was the second straight year that a quarterback from Oklahoma won college football's top award. In 2017, it was Baker Mayfield taking home the trophy; Mayfield has gone on to play in the National Football League, for the Cleveland Browns. Murray had college football's highest quarterback rating, second-highest completion percentage, second-most passing touchdowns, and third-most passing yards. He threw for 4,053 yards, including 40 touchdowns. He was intercepted seven times and sacked 15 times. He led Oklahoma to a 12–1 record; their lone defeat was a 48–45 loss to Texas. Oklahoma will play Tagovailoa's Alabama team in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29, with the winner advancing to the national championship game.

Discord Rules the Day at GCC Summit
December 9, 2018
Top officials from the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council attended a one-day summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. International disputes were top of mind for much of the discussions.

NYC Statue to Honor 1st African-American Presidential Candidate
December 6, 2018 Shirley Chisholm
She was the first African-American woman elected to Congress. Now a statue of her will stand in New York City. Shirley Chisholm, who served in the state legislature and then represented New York's 12th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1969 to 1983, was also the first African-American candidate to run for President as part of a major political party. She ran in 1972. Chisholm ran as a member of the Democratic Party. Other African-Americans had run in earlier years; Chisholm was the first to seek to represent one of America's two major parties. Chisholm's monument will stand in Prospect Park, in her beloved Brooklyn. Estimated completion date is the end of 2020.

Jar Used for Toothbrush Dates to Ancient India
December 6, 2018 Harappan toothbrush jar and owner
When is a toothbrush holder like a 4,000-year-old artifact? When the owner doesn't know what he really has in his bathroom. Karl Martin, an Englishman who frequents yard sales, picked up a small piece of pottery at such a sale, in Willington, Derbyshire, about five years ago. He paid £4 (US$5) for the small jar and for another piece of pottery. He liked the painting of an antelope that was on the jar. Martin put the jar, which has a small hole at the top that widens into the rest of the jar below, in his bathroom; in the jar he kept his toothbrush and toothpaste. As it turns out, the jar was made by a member of the Harappan civilization, which lived in the Indus Valley in what is now India about 4,000 years ago.

Public Transport in Luxembourg: No Charge
December 4, 2018

Tiny Luxembourg has pledged to become the world's first take-public-transport-for-free zone. The central European grand duchy will begin its free rides on buses, trains, and trams in the summer of 2019, says the recently elected government. Luxembourg City, the country's capital, houses 110,000 residents. On work days, however, about 400,000 more people come into the city in order to go to work. Similar characteristics exist for the country as whole. Nearly 200,000 people who live in Belgium, France, and Germany cross the border into Luxembourg to work.

Boy, 9, Leads Effort to Overturn Town's Snowball Ban
December 4, 2018 No more snowball ban
Throwing a snowball is now clearly not forbidden in Severance, Colo., thanks to the efforts of a 9-year-old boy. Dane Best declared victory over a longtime law that had been interpreted to have prohibited the launching of snowballs, as if they were missiles, within the limits of the town. The Town Board, which had recently clarified the wording of the law, handed Best a snowball that they had preserved in a freezer (because, oddly, no snow was on the ground at the time); then, Best threw the snowball into the air, celebrating his teacher-inspired lesson in local governance.

Thoughtful Students Overturn School Christmas Ban
December 4, 2018
Students at a secondary school in Yorkshire will see Christmas decorations this year, after the school had banned them. The school was Lady Lumley's School, in Pickering, in North Yorkshire, England. The coeducational school of more than 850 students aged 1118 had decreed that Christmas was too commercialized and had lost its original meaning. Chris Paul, a religious education teacher at the school, challenged pupils with writing a persuasive argument for why the school should still celebrate Christmas with such things as cards, gifts, and a tree. Students responded with more than 500 emails and letters in favor of keeping Christmas celebrations at the school.

Highest-ever Emissions; Big Jump in Greenland Icemelt
December 4, 2018

Greenhouse gas emissions will hit an all-time high, scientists say, and that has meant a consequent rise in global temperatures. The study, by the Global Carbon Project at Stanford University, found that the world total of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel sources will be 37 billion tons in 2018, a 2.7-percent increase over the 2017 total, which was itself an increase from the year before. Also, research has found that Greenland is shedding its ice more quickly than at any time in the industrial era. A study by the Woods Hold Oceanographic Institution found that surface melt from the world's largest (non-continent) island has accelerated at what they say is an alarming rate.

Multilateral Agreement, China-U.S. Trade Truce Highlight G-20
December 2, 2018 G-20 logo
The G-20 has ended, with leaders of the members nations returning home after a multi-day series of meetings and a joint agreement on multilateral trade. In addition, the joint agreement included a commitment by the member countries to examine the policies and practices of the World Trade Organization. One brewing international crisis was put off, for three months. China and the U.S. agreed to a 90-day truce in what has become a widening trade dispute between the countries punctuated by retaliatory tariffs. Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump had a one-on-one meeting at the G-20 Summit, after which the truce was announced. Among the details of the truce are that China has agreed to buy more American goods and that the U.S. has agreed not to increase tariffs on Chinese goods.

Emission-cutting Rules the Goal of Climate Change Conference
December 2, 2018
Officials from the world's leading nations are meeting in Poland to try to influence their leaders to take drastic action on climate change. The COP24 conference, in Katowice, is taking place under urgency in the wake of recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Challenge (IPCC), the U.N., and from American scientists–all of which warned of the need for nearly immediate action to stem the tide of global warming. The conference is the latest in pursuit of a united strategy in pursuit of the goals agreed on by the 2015 Paris Agreement. More than 180 countries ratified the Paris Agreement, but it doesn't become operational until 2020. Part of the responsibility of those attending the COP24 conference is to hammer out the details on what will be common rules on ensuring that nations that are party to the agreement keep to their promises.

Former President George Bush Dead at 94
December 1, 2018 George Bush speaking
George Bush, the 41st President of the United States, has died. He was 94, the first former President to reach that age. Bush was to lie in state at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. The U.S. declared a national day of mourning in his honor, and flags over federal buildings flew at half-staff. Texas ceremonies were planned for Houston, Spring, and College Station. Bush was to be buried next to his wife, Barbara Bush, who died in April 2018, and their daughter, Pauline, who died in 1953, on the grounds of his presidential library, in College Station.

Tensions Swirl as G-20 Leaders Gather for Annual Summit
November 29, 2018 G-20 logo
The G-20, a gathering of the leaders of the world's 20 leading economies, is on again, this time in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The group meets annually, at a site within one of the group's borders. This year's meeting is officially two days, but many meetings and preparations are happening on other days as well. The meeting comes against a backdrop of increasing international tension, involving China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S.

Film Tells Ancient Poor Man's Tale in Dead Language

November 29, 2018

A new film tells an ancient story in a dead language. The story dates to Mesopotamian times. The language is Babylonian, which hasn't been spoken in 2,000 years. A University of Cambridge professor, Dr. Martin Worthington of St. John's College, led a team of researchers in recreating the words used in the 20-minute film, The Poor Man of Nippur. In the story, a city mayor kills the prized possession, a goat, of a pauper named Gimil-Ninurta. In return, the poor man exacts his revenge in the form of three separate beatings. Although the action is sometimes violent, the story is told in a humorous way, including the use puns; many descriptions of the text describe it as satire.

Fearless Girl off to New Location Outside Stock Exchange
November 28, 2018 Fearless Girl footprints
Fearless Girl is no longer facing down the Charging Bull. The New York City statue of a girl, sculpted by Kristen Visbal, was installed in honor of International Women's Day in 2017, and was intended to promote the idea of more women on the boards of large, publicly traded companies, like the ones doing business on the stock exchange. The city government announced in April that the statue would be moving. The two statues had been in Bowling Green Park, on Broadway. The bull statue made its debut in December 1989. The sculptor, Arturo Di Modica, put the 11-foot-tall statue in front of the New York Stock Exchange, as a symbol of the strength of the city's financial district, commonly known as Wall Street. The Stock Exchange, however, had the statue moved to its present location, two blocks to the south.

Strong Action Needed Now to Cut Emissions, U.N. Warns

November 28, 2018
A new U.N. report has called on the industrial nations of the world to act more quickly in addressing the effects of climate change because greenhouse gas emissions are again on the rise. Among the report's calculations was that in order to meet the target of no more than a 2°Celsius rise in global temperature by 2030, which all countries that signed the 2015 Paris agreement pledged to do, those countries must act quickly and decisively to cut greenhouse gas emissions by one-quarter. Just last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that even a 1.5-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures would lead to catastrophic results in severe weather, droughts, sea level rise, and coastal flooding. This most recent U.N. report said that in order to keep the temperature rise at 1.5°Celsius, the industrial powerhouses of the world must cut their emissions by a full 50 percent.

Ancient Cave Painters Were Astronomers, Study Says
November 27, 2018 Lascaux Shaft Scene
The ancients knew a whole lot more about astronomy than we have been giving them credit for, according to a new archaeological study. Researchers from two United Kingdom universities studied Paleolithic and Neolithic art at sites in four countries, focusing on the animal symbols found on cave walls and in sculptures. What the researchers found was evidence, they say, that the artwork used drawings of animals to depict constellations in the night sky. One key piece of evidence was a matching of cave art to the positions of stars as predicated by complex software. The researchers used chemical dating techniques on the paint in certain cave paintings to determine when the paint was applied, then turned to computer-generated calculations of where certain stars would have been in the night sky at that point in history. What the researchers found was one match after another.

1st African-American Woman in Coast Guard Dies at 103
November 24, 2018 Olivia Hooker in the Coast Guard
Olivia Hooker, the first African-American to join the U.S. Coast Guard, has died. She was 103. Hooker was also known for her role in achieving justice for the victims of America's worst race riot, which she survived. She was 6 when her family was one of many attacked during the 1921 Tulsa race riot, which resulted in the deaths of a great many African-Americans. She later served on the Tulsa Race Riot Commission, which achieved some reparations for the victims of the violence. An accomplished professor, she taught at Fordham University for more than 20 years. She retired at 87 and then took up volunteering, going into the Coast Guard Auxiliary when she was 95.

3,000-year-old Mummy of Woman Found Intact
November 25, 2018 Well preserved mummy found in sarcophagus
Egyptian authorities have for the first time opened a sarcophagus in front of international media. The coffin dates to more than 3,000 years ago, and the mummy inside, of a woman, was well preserved. A group of archaeologists found the woman's coffin and another coffin a few days earlier in El-Asasef, a west Nile necropolis. Officials from Egypt's antiquities authority had earlier opened the other coffin, which also contained a well preserved mummy. The two coffins dated to the 17th and 18th Dynasties, respectively, officials said. The coffin opened first contained the well preserved mummy of Thaw-Irkhet-if, a priest and the overseer of a mummification shrine found in the Valley of the Kings. The other mummy was that of his wife, Kharousekhmet-Nefret. The opening of her sarcophagus was the first time that Egyptian authorities had done so initially in front of international media.

Leaning Tower of Pisa Fixed, Slightly
November 25, 2018 Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa isn't straight, but it's leaning just a bit less, thanks to efforts by engineers. The team of engineers from has worked for more than 20 years to ensure that the tower doesn't fall over. It is now one-and-one-half inches straighter than it had been. It was not the first such effort. In 2001, engineers finished off another slant-reducing effort, removing 17 inches by removing soil from the foundations and installing large amounts of braces and lead counterweights. That recalibration took more than a decade. An earlier effort, in the 1920s, involving injecting cement grouting into the tower; that, too, worked, for a certain extent.

Melting Glacier the Venue for Massive Earth-friendly Postcard
November 17, 2018 Glacier postcard
The Aletsch Glacier was the setting for the world's largest postcard. The glacier, the largest of its kind in the Alps, is actually four smaller glaciers put together. It is part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch Protected Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The glacier has been retreating, which alarms many scientists. Current estimates are that the glacier is shedding a significant part of its ice every year. Scientists have warned that the glacial expanse, the largest in western Europe, could disappear without a trace by 2100. Melting glaciers contribute to a rise in sea level, which could threaten coastal cities and settlements around the world. Glacier melt happens naturally, but the global warming accelerated by the increase in greenhouse gas emissions since the advent of the Industrial Revolution has accelerated the rate of the melt. The postcard was made up to 125,000 drawings and messages done by children around the world. Together, the drawings and messages measure 26,910 square feet. The messages had to do with global warming and climate change. The entirety of the drawings and messages also spelled out a message when seen from the air: STOP GLOBAL WARMING 1.5 DEGREES C.

Easter Islanders Want Giant Statue Back from British Museum
November 19, 2018 Easter Island statue
People living on Easter Island want the United Kingdom to return one of the island's famous "giant head" statues that has been in the British Museum for nearly 150 years. The statue is known as Hoa Hakananai'a, which translates from the island's native peoples' language into English as "lost or stolen friend." The 8-foot-tall statue dates to about 1200. The crew of a Royal Navy ship, the HMS Topazei>, visited the island in 1868, dug up the statue–along with a smaller one known as Hava–and carted them back to England, presenting them to the monarch, then Queen Victoria, as a gift. The queen regifted the statues to the British Museum. Benedicto Tuki, a sculptor from the island, which the local people say is Rapa Nui, has made an offer of an exact replica to replace the one currently in the British Museum.

Paris Ceremony Commemorates Armistice Day Centenary
November 11, 2018 Macron speaking on Armistice Day
Leaders from several of the world's leading nations gathered at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to commemorate the end of World War I, 100 years later. French President Emmanuel Macron led the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Among the 70 other world leaders present:

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
  • U.S. President Donald Trump
  • U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Also part of the commemoration were the reading by children of letters by soldiers–British, French, and German–during the war and a performance by renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

In the U.K., Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Theresa May, and other national leaders taking part in solemn ceremonies across the country. Silence reigned for two minutes at 11 o'clock, the exact time 100 years earlier that the war had stopped. A lit beacon at Westminster Abbey and more than 1,000 others around the country symbolized the end of the darkness of war. Nearly 900,000 British soldiers died during the war. Joining the London remembrance ceremony was German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier; it was the first time that a German leader had been in London for a WWI remembrance ceremony. At the Cenotaph, Prince Charles a laid a wreath and 10,000 people (including relatives of those lost in the war) marched past.

Ceremonies in other countries also marked the loss of lives of their veterans.

Macron, Merkel Revisit Armistice Rail Car
November 11, 2018 Macron and Merkel
The leaders of France and Germany were on opposite sides of an armistice in 1918; in 2018, the new leaders of those two countries held hands and rested their heads together at a ceremony to mark the centenary of the peace. In 2018, it was French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel doing the commemorating. They inspected troops who were drawn up and at attention but there to pay respect to their fallen comrades of a century before. The troops, in fact, were both French and German. Unveiled at the ceremony was a plaque that honored the reconciliation and good relations now enjoyed by the two countries, who have so often battled each other in the past few centuries.

4,500-year-old Cat Statues, Mummies Found in Egypt
November 11, 2018 Cat statues found in Egypt
Archaeologists have found dozens of cat mummies and cat statues in tombs near Cairo. Also significantly, found for the first time were mummies of scarabs. The statues and mummies resided in a 4,500-year-old tomb at Saqqara, a large burial ground that served the ancient capital of Memphis. Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that the team of archaeologists found seven sarcophagi at the King Userkaf pyramid complex. Three sarcophagi held the mummified remains of cats, which are known to have been revered by the ancient Egyptians, both in life and in the afterlife. One of the statues was of bronze and was dedicated to the cat goddess Bastet.

More New Entrants into National Toy Hall of Fame
November 10, 2018

The eighth time was the charm for Magic 8 Ball, one of the newest members of the National Toy Hall of Fame. Seven times a finalist, the mystical fortune-telling toy is now part of toy history. Magic 8 Ball

Joining Magic 8 Ball in the 2018 list of honorees were Uno and pinball. Magic 8 Ball burst onto the scene in 1946. With its randomly generated answers to whatever questions people posed to it, the Ball gained fame (although not entirely reliable in gaining people fortune). The person holding the Ball shook it while asking a question, and the Ball would then enable one of 20 preprogrammed answers mystically float to the surface. Some of the more famous answers were "Signs point to Yes," "No," "You may rely on it," and "Ask again later." UNO cards Uno was the creation of Merle Robbins, a barbershop owner from Ohio. He based Uno on another well-known card game, Crazy Eights. The idea is for each player to get rid of all the cards he or she is dealt as quickly as possible. Cards have numbers and colors, and a player can rid of a card by placing in on the pile on top of a "match," of either number or color. (For example, if the top of the pile has a red 4, then a player can top that red 4 with either another red card or another 4 card.) Each Uno deck also comes with a handful of hazard cards, which a player can place atop the discard pile, forcing the next player to draw extra cards. Robbins eventually sold the rights to Mattel, which has produced a great many decks, including specialized ones (with themes like Disney and Hello Kitty). Pinball machine Pinball is much older than either Magic 8 or Uno. The modern, coin-operated pinball machine dates to the 1930s, but some historians trace the idea of pinball to the 18th-Century French game bagatelle. It was the addition of side-of-machine flippers that transformed pinball into a game of skill. Pinball machines have become familiar sites at many gathering places, including arcades, amusement parks, and restaurants. It is quite common as well to sea specialized pinball machines (such as ones sporting logos and characters from TV shows and movies). The National Toy Hall of Fame announces its inductees each year, after the toys are selected by a committee of curators and historians.

Moonwalker Armstrong Memorabilia Nets $5.2 Million at Auction
November 5, 2018 Neil Armstrong Apollo 11 ID plaque
Neil Armstrong's memorabilia proved popular at auction, with one piece netting $468,500. That signature piece was the spacecraft ID plate from Eagle, the Apollo 11 lunar module. It was the auction item that brought the most money from the collection once owned by Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon. The spacecraft ID plate was one of three Lunar Module-5 Identification Plates that went to the Moon with Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins on their July 1969 mission. When the men returned, their were each given a plaque on which was affixed one of the plates. The Armstrong ID plate was part of the three-day Space Collection Signature Auction, put on by Dallas's Heritage Auctions. The entire sale brought in $7.4 million, the auction house said, with $5.2 million of that being paid for Armstrong items.

Stay at This Undersea Villa for $50K a Night
November 5, 2018 Undersea villa bedroom
A just-opened villa in the Maldives is thought to be the first undersea accommodation space. It sits 16 feet below the surface, and it costs $50,000 a night. The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island features the two-deck suite, called the Muraka, which means "coral" in Dhivehi, the local language. The villa can house up to nine guests. The lower deck has a bedroom, bathroom, and living space–all surrounded by very strong glass, to facilitate nonstop views of the ocean world on the outside. On the top deck is a standalone bathtub, along with another bedroom and another bathroom. A spiral staircase connects the two decks.

Torchlight Marks Solemn WWI Ceremony at Tower of London
November 4, 2018 Tower of London WWI centenary
Thousands of lit torches in the dry moat surrounding the Tower of London marked the 100th year since the ending of World War I. Members of the military and volunteers lit the torches, during a ceremony that featured special music, by composer Mira Calix, punctuated by words from Sonnets to a Soldier, a collection of poems by American poet Mary Borden, who also served as a nurse for the French Red Cross during the war. The ceremony also featured a minute of silence for the dead or injured.

Titanic II to Complete Original's Journey in 2022
October 28, 2018 Titanic II
The Titanic is still on the ocean floor, but the Titanic II aims to complete the original's route 110 years later. Blue Star Line, the company that has launched many a ship (including the ill-fated Titanic), has recreated that iconic ocean liner and will sail it along the exact same ocean trajectory.

Chocolate 1,500 Years Older Than Thought: Study
October 29, 2018 Cacao
Chocolate might be much, much older than we think. A study just out concludes that cacao, the prime ingredient in chocolate, was grown for food 1,500 years earlier and in a different place than has been thought.

Automakers Driving New 'Smart Intersection' Technology
October 29, 2018 Smart intersection
A number of the world's top automakers are onboard with having their cars talk to street lights. Earlier this month, Volkswagen and Siemens tested a smart light system in Wolfsburg, installing traffic signal systems that broadcast what color their lights were about to flash. Cars driving on that section of the road could receive the information and then regulate their speed so as to minimize stopping or slowing time and be able to drive straight through when the light flashed green. The system worked through a set of sensors transmitting via WiFi. At two of the crossroads on that smart-light-equipped stretch of road, Volkswagen and Siemens also trialled a system of sensors designed to detect pedestrians and cyclists and transmit that information to the cars on the road.

11,000-year-old Skeleton Survives Brazil Museum Fire
October 27, 2018 Luzia skull
Luzia lives on, in a manner of speaking. Most of the skull of the ancient woman known to Brazilians as Luzia survived the September 2 blaze that devastated the Brazilian National Museum. Her remains–which included most of her cranium and a few well defined bones and fragments–were discovered in Lapa Vermelha in 1975, Luzia survives in the person of her skull and parts of her legs and pelvis. About 80 percent of Luzia's remains were found amid the rubble, said Alexander Kellner, the director of the museum.

Ethiopia Elects First Female President
October 25, 2018 Sahle-Work Zewde
Sahle-Work Zewde is Ethiopia's first female President, the result of an unanimous election by the country's Federal Parliament Assembly. The post is ceremonial in Ethiopia, but it is still the first time that a woman has held the post. Among the functions that Ethiopia's President performs are appointing ambassadors, granting pardons, and acting on behalf of the government in welcoming envoys from other countries. Women make up half of the Cabinet as well.

Computer-generated Painting Sells for $432,000
October 25, 2018 AI portrait
A computer-generated painting has sold for $432,000 at auction. Christie's in New York had put an estimated sale value on the painting, Portrait of Edmond de Belamy, of between $7,000 and $10,000. Winning the auction was an anonymous telephone bidder, who outbid two other phone bidders, an online bidder, and a bidder physically in the auction room. Pulling the strings behind the AI painting efforts are Hugo Caselles-Dupré, Pierre Fautrel, and Gauthier Vernir, owners of a collective named Obvious. They used a computer model called a Generative Adversarial Network to take a virtual fine-toothed-comb tour through 15,000 human-drawn portraits for the last several centuries and recreate art based on the dataset.

Oldest Intact Shipwreck Found in Black Sea
October 23, 2018 Oldest intact shipwreck
Archaeologists have disturbed a ship at the bottom of the Black Sea for the first time in more than 2,400 years. The international team of maritime archaeologists, scientists, and surveyors found more than 60 shipwrecks during their three-year geophysical survey of the lower reaches of the Black Sea. The intact ship was found lying on its side 50 miles off the coast of what is now Bulgaria, 1.3 miles below the surface, and was preserved mainly because of a lack of oxygen at that level. The ship is 75 feet long and still has its mast, rudders, and rowing benches, looking very much the kind of ship that is depicted on ancient Greek pottery. One example is the famous Siren Vase, now in the British Museum, which depicts an episode from The Odyssey in which Odysseus is strapped to the side of the ship so as to be able to ignore the tempting call of the sirens.

China's Artificial Moon to Replace Streetlights
October 22, 2018
China has plans to launch an artificial moon in order to provide more illumination in one of its provinces. Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, is the target for the extra light. The city has a population of 14 million. The satellite is expected to be 500 kilometers (310 miles) above the surface of Earth. Scientists say that the artificial moon will be up to eight times brighter than Earth's Moon simply because it is much closer.

China to Open World's Longest Sea Bridge
October 21, 2018 Longest sea bridge
The longest sea bridge in the world, as of 23 October, will be the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge, at 55 kilometers, or 34 miles. President Xi Jinping attended the opening ceremony. As the name suggests, the bridge links Hong Kong and Macau to the Chinese mainland. It's part of the Greater Bay Area plan, an initiative to create a high-tech counterpart to America's Silicon Valley. Anyone wanting to drive the bridge just for run will have to apply for a special permit, though. The intent is for the bridge to be used by private buses, hired cars, and commercial vehicles. Public transport routes will not cross the bridge.

Reagan Rides Again, This Time in 3D
October 14, 2018 Reagan and dog hologram
Visitors to the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum can soon see the Gipper in person–sort of. The museum, in Simi Valley, Calif., has taken the wraps off a set of three-dimensional holographic images of America's 40th President. Viewers don't need special glasses to view the images. The museum picked three scenes to illustrate Reagan's life:

  • He's speaking from the back of a train in 1984, campaigning for re-election
  • He's at his California ranch, attired appropriately
  • He's in the Oval Office, wearing a suit and tie.

Georadar Finds Viking Ship Buried in Norway
October 15, 2018 Buried Viking ship
A team of archaeologists in Norway have found a Viking ship buried not far underground. The team, from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research, found a 65-foot-long Viking ship near Viksletta, Østfold County, in the southeastern part of the country. Scans by ground-penetrating radar, or georadar, revealed the presence of the ship, the keel and floor timbers of which are intact. The ship is less than two feet below the surface. The scans also found the remains of five longhouses and several burial mounds nearby.

It's a Wonder: Norway to Open Seafloor Restaurant
October 14, 2018 Underwater restaurant
A handful of people are hard at work creating the world's largest underwater restaurant. It's off the coast of Båly, a small town in Norway. The builders have named it Under, and it's set to open in April 2019. (Some reservations have already been made.) Construction on the concrete building began in early 2018 and took six months to complete. That was the outside. The builders then moved the building down through the water in order to anchor it on the ocean floor, 16 feet below the surface. Now, work on the inside has commenced.

Blueprint for Building Human Power Generators
October 10, 2018
Step on it and make your own energy. Scientists in the United Kingdom have explained how to do just that. A group of scientists from the University of Surrey's Advanced Technology Institute have published a step-by-step guide for constructing a high-tech human-energy producer called a triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG). The idea of such a device is to capture kinetic energy from human movements and store it for future use, such as for powering devices that run on electricity. The scientists said that a TENG could be used to capture energy from nonhuman sources, such as vibrations from wind or waves or even machines; it's the human-generated power that is perhaps the most prevalent, though, the scientists said. One simple and quite common place to install a TENG is in clothing. Simply by walking or waving her arms or otherwise just moving, a person could generate energy to be stored elsewhere. And, the scientists said, the faster the movement, the more power that is generated.

Indigenous Peoples Day
Indigenous Peoples Day celebrates the indigenous people of North America and South America. People across the United States celebrate the day on the second Monday of October, on the same day on which the U.S. federal holiday of Columbus Day occurs. The holiday began in 1989 in South Dakota and was fully formed in 1992. The idea of ignoring Columbus Day and/or replacing it with Indigenous Peoples Day grew throughout the following decades, as more and more U.S. cities made the switch. As of 2018, three states do not celebrate Columbus Day; those states are Hawaii, Oregon, and South Dakota. Also, the states of Alaska, Minnesota, and Vermont have joined South Dakota in celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day instead. The number of cities that do not celebrate Columbus Day is in the several dozens. Among those are such large cities as Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, and even Ohio's Columbus (named for the explorer).

Drastic Action Needed to Mitigate Global Warming Dangers: Report
October 8, 2018
Drastic, immediate change is needed in order to forestall the dangers of climate change, according to a global scientific authority. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report at its annual session, which this year was in Incheon, South Korea. In that report, the product of 91 authors from 30 countries, the scientists sounded a clear alarm because they found that Earth is already two-thirds of the way along a perilous path of global warming. Global temperatures have already warmed about 1 degree Celsius. The clearly spelled out goal of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement was to limit such a rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. Unchecked, at the current rate, global temperatures will reach that level by 2040, the scientists said. Among the extreme results if widespread are changes are made, the report said:

  • mass die-off of coral roofs, as soon as 2040
  • an increase in an already high level of sea level rise, intensifying flooding, food shortages, poverty, and drought
  • the need for massive shifts in populations, away from permanently flooded coastal areas
  • an increase in the already high number and intensity of fires and storms
  • an increase in the number of human and animal deaths from such extreme weather events.

Youth Olympics Underway in Buenos Aires
October 7, 2018 2018 Youth Olympics kitesurfing
The Youth Olympics have begun in Buenos Aires. A youth-focused variant of the Olympic Games, the Youth Olympics take place every four years and feature competitions in 28 sports, some of which are not found in the "adult" Olympics. The Summer Youth Olympic Games take place during a 12-day period, and the Winter Youth Olympic Games take place during a 10-day period. All athletes are between the ages of 15 and 18. At this year's Games, a total of 4,000 athletes–2,000 girls and 2,000 boys–are competing in 239 events across 32 sports and 36 disciplines. A total of 1,250 medals will be awarded. The 2018 Youth Olympic Games mascot is #Pandi, a young jaguar. The name combines the scientific name of the jaguar, "panthera onca," and the term "digital," with the hashtag thrown in to emphasize the digital world in which much of today's youths are familiar. Four sports debuted at this year's Youth Olympics: dance sport, karate, roller sports, and sport climbing. Making their debut as disciplines are Beach handball, BMX freestyle, and kiteboarding.

Indian Petroglyphs Date to 10000 B.C.
October 7, 2018 Petroglyphs from 10000 B.C.
Archaeologists in India have found a number of rock carvings thought to be tens of thousands of years old and perhaps created by a previously unknown civilization. The petroglyphs are in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, a state in the western part of the country. Some petroglyphs were known to people living in the area and were, in fact, worshiped by some of those local people, who considered the drawings as holy. Most of the petroglyphs, however, had been hidden beneath layers of civilization for a very long time. Among the shapes discovered are birds, humans, sharks, turtles, whales, and geometrical designs. Not confined to one area, the petroglyphs were carved in a number of places, in what is now 52 villages.

French 'Eco-neighborhood' Taking Shape
October 7, 2018 Clichy-Batignolles
A former industrial wasteland in Paris is on its way to being the French capital's first "eco-neighborhood." Like 70 other cities around the world (including San Francisco), Paris has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050. That means that the city will offset as much emissions as it produces. The previously abandoned neighborhood is Clichy-Batignolles, an area in the northwest of the city that was envisioned as part of the Olympic village if Paris had succeeded in winning its bid to be the host country for the 2012 Olympic Games. Those Games were instead in and around London. The neighborhood is showing signs of being a model for such "green" improvement. At its hub is Martin Luther King Park, a 10-hectare green space that channels rainwater toward wetlands. Two-thirds of the homes that ring the park have rooftop solar panels; all homes are heated by a new geothermal plant. Residents also wait expectantly for the construction of a metro line, to provide a public transportation alternative to getting around by car.

More Clues to 1st English-led Expedition to New World
October 3, 2018
A combination of high-tech scanning and low-tech tenacity has resulted in the development of new information about the first English-led expedition to North America. Italian Giovanni Caboto, better known as John Cabot, sailed across the Atlantic Ocean under the employ of England's King Henry VII in 1497, reaching North America in the summer of that year, becoming the first European since Leif Ericson in the 11th Century to do so. Two scholars associated with the University of Bristol now say that they think that a Bristol merchant named William Weston went himself to the New World.

Lincoln Items Auction Nets $300,000
October 3, 2018 Abraham Lincoln in 1860
A collection of items related to Abraham Lincoln has brought in nearly $300,000 at auction. Swann Galleries of New York says that a collection of hundreds of artwork, documents, and books sold for $299,995. The item that sold for the most money was a John C. Wolfe painting of the 16th President from 1860, before he had a beard; that went for $40,000.

2018 Blue Ribbon Schools Number 349
October 1, 2018
The U.S. Department of Education has released its annual list of Blue Ribbon schools. This year, the total is 349. Of those, 300 are public schools and 49 are private schools. All schools are honored in one of two performance categories: Exemplary High Performing (based on results of state assessments or nationally normed tests) and Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing (based on improving performance of some groups as compared to other groups).

Flying Car Makers Ready for Transition to Reality
September 27, 2018 Terrafugia Transition
After several years of patents, trials and promises, the world's first flying car is going on the market. Massachusetts-based Terrafugia says it will begin taking pre-orders in October 2018 and deliver its first two-seat car-plane models in 2019. Price has yet to be determined. In the air, the Transition, as the vehicle is named, can reach speeds of 100 mph and fly up to 400 miles at a top altitude of 10,000 feet before refueling. The electric-hybrid machine has fold-out wings and permanent landing gear that double as the car's wheels. Switching from one mode of transport to the other takes about a minute, the company said.

Sandstone Pharaoh Paintings Found at Kom Ombo Temple
October 1, 2018
An archaeological team who set out to reduce the groundwater level at a famed Aswan temple is continuing to discover new (old) things. The team at the famed KomOmbo temple most recently turned up two ancient sandstone paintings belonging to two different ancient kings, Seti I and Ptolemy IV.

Bangkok Repeats as World's Most-visited City
October 1, 2018
Bangkok is still the most popular visitor destination in the world, according to an annual study. The Global Destination Cities Index, put out by credit card company Mastercard, reported that more than 20 million people visited the Thai capital (and its Grand Palace, left) in 2017. It was the second straight year that Bangkok topped the list. Coming a close second in the list was London, with just fewer than 20 million. Paris, with 17.4 million visitors, was third. In fourth, fifth, and sixth places were Dubai (15.79 million), Singapore (13.91 million), and New York (13.13 million).

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Social Studies for Kids
copyright 20022018
David White