Rohingya people flee Myanmar

In recent weeks, over 350,000 Rohingya people have fled their country of Myanmar and gone to Bangladesh. They are concerned for their safety.

The Rohingya people are a Muslim minority group. The government of Myanmar doesn’t consider the Rohingya as citizens even though many of them were born there and have lived there for many generations. It considers the Rohingya to have illegally come from the neighboring country of Bangladesh and doesn’t offer much support for them. The group has been discriminated against for many years. Over time, some Rohingya people have left their homes and run away from Myanmar because of terrible living conditions or fear for their lives.

On August 25, Rohingya militants took up arms and attacked some police posts in Myanmar. In return, the nation’s troops and some locals started killing the Rohingya, causing this recent exodus of people. With such a large Rohingya population showing up, it is hard for the nation of Bangladesh to accommodate all the people. There isn’t enough shelter, food, medicine, and water for them.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, got its independence from the United Kingdom in 1948. From 1962 until 2010, Myanmar was ruled by military governments. In the last few years, Myanmar has been going through changes and is moving towards becoming a more democratic country. Almost 90% of Myanmar’s population is Buddhist, and about 4% is Muslim. Myanmar is known as the “Land of Pagodas” because there are many pagodas in the country. A pagoda has a distinct bell-shaped top and is often used by Buddhists as a religious building. One of the landmarks of the country is the Shwedagon Pagoda (image) located in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city.

Here are two videos, one about the Rohingya people and the other about Myanmar’s name.


Image Credits: un.org and Saikat Mojumder for the image of the Rohingya people, N.L.Aung for the Shwedagon Pagoda image
Sources: http://www.un.org, CNN, CIA World Factbook, NowThis World

An earthquake and a hurricane

On September 7, a powerful earthquake struck the southwestern coast of Mexico near the Guatemala border. It had a magnitude of 8.1 on the Richter scale, making it the strongest earthquake to strike Mexico in over a hundred years. Buildings shook, homes collapsed, and power lines were damaged. About a hundred people have died.

Here is a list by the United States Geological Survey of the world’s twenty largest earthquakes ever recorded.

A big, monstrous storm struck the islands in the Caribbean and the United States earlier this month. Hurricane Irma, at its strongest, had winds of 185 miles per hour (300 km per hour) and was labeled as a Category 5 storm. It was one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic. It tore through Barbados, Cuba, the Virgin Islands (part of the US), the British Virgin Islands (part of the UK), Puerto Rico (part of the US), Saint Martin (part of France), Sint Maarten (part of the Netherlands), Florida (part of the US), and more. Buildings, homes, roads, and power lines were destroyed. The storm caused floods and much damage along its path.

Here are two videos, one about Irma and the second about hurricanes.

Did you know?

The island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean Sea is split into Sint Maarten (which is part of the Netherlands) and Saint Martin (which is part of France).

Image Credits: https://earthquake.usgs.gov for the image of the earthquake
Sources: https://www.washingtonpost.com

US Open 2017

The 2017 U.S. Open tennis tournament was held from August 22 to September 10 in New York, United States. Sloane Stephens (USA, image left) beat Madison Keys (USA) to win the women’s singles title. Rafael Nadal (Spain, image below) beat Kevin Anderson (South Africa) to win the men’s singles title. This was Stephens’ first US Open and Grand Slam title. This was Nadal’s third US Open and 16th Grand Slam title. You can see the list of all the winners here, and here is a video with the best moments from the tournament.

So what’s a Grand Slam title? You get a Grand Slam title by winning any of the four Grand Slam tournaments – the Australian Open, US Open, French Open, or Wimbledon. The US Open started in 1881 in Rhode Island, USA. The tournament is played on hard courts.

Why is tennis a noisy game? Because each player raises a racket. :-)

Did you know?

Roger Federer has the most men’s all-time Grand Slam titles with 19.

Image Credits: http://www.usopen.org for the images of Stephens and Nadal
Sources: http://www.usopen.org

Hajj pilgrimage

About 2 million Muslims made the journey to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the Hajj pilgrimage. Hajj is an Islamic annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city of Islam, where the pilgrims visit the mosque called Masjid al-Haram. Islam is the world’s second largest religion, and people who follow Islam are called Muslims. One of the duties of Muslims is to do Hajj at least once in their lifetime if they are physically fit and if they can afford it. Hajj takes place over five days. This year, Hajj started on August 30. Hajj is considered to be one of the largest annual gatherings of people on Earth.

Saudi Arabia is a desert country. It has no permanent rivers or lakes. The capital is Riyadh and the official language is Arabic. Saudi Arabia is governed according to Islamic law. The country has a special police force that makes sure that the laws of the religion are followed. The country is a monarchy, where the leader of the country is the king. The current king of the country is King Salman (image). The king is not elected by the people. Instead, the role is passed on within the same family.

Did you know?

A weekend in Saudi Arabia is on Friday and Saturday.

Image Credits: http://www.aljazeera.com for the image of Masjid al-Haram, Secretary of Defense for the image of  King Salman
Sources: http://www.aljazeera.com

40 years in space for the two Voyagers

This August and September mark NASA’s spacecrafts Voyager 1 and 2’s 40 years of exploring space. They have boldly gone where no man or man-made object has gone before. Both Voyagers left Earth in 1977. Their lifespan was expected to be five years, but 40 years later, they are still going strong! They still send daily messages to Earth.

Voyager 1 is now almost 13 billion miles from Earth. It left our solar system and is travelling northward through “interstellar space”. It has been zooming at a speed of about 38,000 miles per hour (60,000 km/h). It takes over 19 hours for a signal from Voyager 1 to reach one of the antennas here on Earth.

Interstellar space is the space between stars where the effects of the stars are not felt.

Voyager 2 is now almost 11 billion miles from Earth. It is traveling southward, and has a few years before it reaches interstellar space. It is the only spacecraft to have flown by the four planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. It has been zooming at a speed of about 34,000 miles per hour (55,000 km/h). It takes about 16 hours for a signal from Voyager 2 to reach one of the antennas here on Earth.

There is a time capsule with information about human beings on both the Voyagers. The capsule has a 12 inch gold-plated phonograph record with images that portray people and life on Earth, natural sounds of birds, music from several countries, and greetings in various languages.

2017 also marks 60 years since the first artificial satellite was launched by humans into space to orbit Earth. Sputnik I was launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957.

You can watch a video here about the two Voyagers and another video about how far humans have sent spacecrafts into space.



Did you know?

“To boldly go where no man has gone before” is a quote from Star Trek television episodes and films.

Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech for the golden record image and the Voyager images, NASA, ESA, and Z. Levay for the Voyager 1 and 2 path image, U.S. Air Force for Sputnik 1’s image
Sources: https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov, http://www.history.com, Tech Insider, https://history.nasa.gov

A bit more news

Japan’s Princess Mako officially announced that she is going to marry a commoner. According to Japan’s Imperial Law, if a princess marries a commoner, she has to give up her royal status. The law also only allows the throne to be passed on to a prince (and not a princess). Mako is 25 years old, and her grandfather is the current Emperor of Japan.


The Guinness World Records book for 2018 was recently released. These books are sold in more than 100 countries. A few of the new records mentioned in the 2018 edition are the largest collection of teddy bears, heaviest bicycle, largest tape ball, farthest flight by hoverboard, first implanted antenna, highest jump on a pogo stick, and shortest married couple.



On September 12, Apple unveiled its new iPhone X (X is the Roman numeral for the number ten). Your face is your password to unlock the phone. The phone charges wirelessly. You can have an animated emoji (Animoji) that mimics your expressions, including one that uses the poop emoji! Here is a video about the new smartphone. Apple also unveiled its new iPhone 8. So there is iPhone seven, eight and ten. What happened to nine? Maybe 7 8 9 (seven ate nine)? :-)



The International Olympic Committee has selected Paris (France) as the host of the 2024 Summer Olympics and Los Angeles (USA) as the host of the 2028 Summer Olympics.



Halimah Yacob has been elected as Singapore’s first female president. She was the only qualified candidate in the elections.





The Venice Film Festival was held in (well, that’s easy) Venice, Italy. “The Shape of Water”, an American fantasy movie, won the best film award, the Golden Lion. This film festival is the oldest in the world and was started in 1932.



On September 15, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will dive into the planet Saturn destroying itself. The spacecraft is running low on fuel and scientists don’t want it to crash into one of Saturn’s moons. Scientists want the moons to remain in their original conditions for future exploration.  Cassini was launched into space in 1997 and has been orbiting Saturn since 2004. We have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about Saturn, its moons, and its rings thanks to Cassini.

Here are two videos – one about Cassini and the other is a Ted Ed puzzle.



Image Credits: http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com for the image of the GWR 2018 book, https://www.olympic.org for the 2024 Paris and 2028 LA image, https://www.gov.sg for the image of President Yacob, http://www.labiennale.org for its logo, Apple.com for the iPhone X image, Monadaisuki for the image of Princess Mako, https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov for Cassini’s image
Sources: https://www.olympic.org, https://www.gov.sg, http://www.labiennale.org, Apple.com, https://www.theguardian.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com, BBC, TedEd, http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com, https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov

North Korea fires a missile

On August 29, North Korea launched a missile which flew over northern Japan before landing in the Pacific Ocean. This is the first time North Korea has fired a ballistic missile over Japanese territory. This has upset Japan and some of its allies including South Korea and the United States.

North Korea has been working on building weapons that can cause a lot of damage. The United States, South Korea, and Japan have all urged North Korea to stop work on these weapons. Earlier this month, North Korea threatened to attack Guam, a territory of the United States in the western Pacific Ocean. The United States President Donald Trump told North Korea to back off. Tension in the region has been increasing.

North Korea has been led by people from the same family since it was founded. Kim Jong-un (image) is the current leader, and his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, and father, Kim Jong-il, were the leaders before him. Kim Jong-un is believed to be 33 years old.




The North Korean government very strictly controls many aspects of its citizens’ lives. There isn’t much communication between North Korea and the rest of the world. It is very difficult to visit the nation and for its citizens to leave. People who disagree with the government are very harshly punished. People don’t have access to many gadgets and conveniences. It is believed that there are food and power shortages in the country. The capital is Pyongyang. The Juche Tower (image) is a famous landmark.


North and South Korea were part of a single country called Korea. In 1910, the Japanese occupied Korea and ruled it until the Second World War. When the war ended in 1945, the Japanese had to give up control of Korea. Korea was then occupied by the Soviet Union in the north and the United States in the south. A line in the middle (called the 38th Parallel since it was at the latitude 38 degrees north) was drawn and two countries, North and South Korea, were created in 1948.

Here is a video about North Korea.

Image Credits: http://www.korea-dpr.com  for Kim Jong-un’s image, Union of Concerned Scientists by Jeremy White for the map image of the missile launch, yeowatzup from Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany for the image of Juche Tower, Rishabh Tatiraju for 28th Parallel’s image
Sources: Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC, NowThis

Floods in Texas, USA

A very powerful storm, Hurricane Harvey, made landfall in southeast Texas, United States on August 25. It had wind speeds of up to 130 mph (200 kph). Harvey was downgraded to a tropical storm the next day. However, Harvey hung over Houston, the largest city in Texas, dumping an enormous amount of rain on the city. The rain water has caused flooding and a huge amount of damage. People have had to evacuate their homes. Many folks were without electricity. The storm has moved on from Houston to other parts of the United States. Here is an animation showing Harvey from August 23 to 29, and another video about this news story.


Image Credits: https://www.nasa.gov for Harvey’s image
Sources: https://www.nasa.gov, time.com

Big Ben no longer chiming

 London’s famous Big Ben has gone silent until 2021. No, the bell is not protesting, but is undergoing repairs. Big Ben is the name given to the bell housed inside the clock tower, which is called the Elizabeth Tower. The tower will also get fixed up. A hammer hits the bell which creates the chiming sound. The bell first rang in 1859. It is unknown as to why Big Ben has the name. There are some theories that it was named after either a politician or a boxer.

Here is a video with more information about the bell.


Image Credits: Diliff for the image of Big Ben
Sources: telegraph.co.uk

La Tomatina 2017

Can you imagine some 20,000 people getting together to just throw tomatoes at each other? That’s exactly what happened in the town of Bunol in Spain on August 30. La Tomatina is a tomato fight festival that is held on the last Wednesday of August each year. It is probably the world’s largest food fight. This year, over 150 tons of tomatoes were thrown within the one hour that the fight lasted. The city of Bunol has been hosting the festival for over 60 years.

In the 1940s, some people got into a fight and hurled tomatoes at each other. This caught on, and became an annual tradition. However, after the first few years of the tomato fights, the city actually banned them. People who still threw tomatoes were put in jail. In 1957, the citizens of Bunol held “the tomato funeral” – they marched through town carrying a coffin with a single tomato inside. The city finally agreed to allow the fights, and later even started providing the tomatoes for the fights.

You can watch a video showing clips of La Tomatina here.


Image Credits: Carlesboveserral for the image of La Tomatina, http://latomatina.info for the La Tomatina logo, http://latomatina.info for the La Tomatina image
Sources: https://www.thesun.co.uk, https://www.usnews.com, http://latomatina.info