Fighting in DR Congo

There has been fighting going on in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo). The country is due for its next presidential elections. However, nothing has been done about it. No date has been set and no voters have been registered. People are upset. They are not sure what the intent of the current president is. Some folks have started protesting, and there has been fighting going on between the police and the protestors.

Joseph Kabila (image) has been the president of DR Congo for the past 15 years. According to the country’s constitution, he cannot be elected as the president again in the next elections. The country is supposed to hold presidential elections every 5 years, and the last were held in 2011.




DR Congo was a Belgian colony and gained its independence in 1960. It is the second largest country by area in Africa (after Algeria). Many languages are spoken in DR Congo, but its official language is French. It has a part of the world’s second largest rainforest, the Congo Rainforest (image). The largest is the Amazon in South America.


Image Credits: U.S. Department of State for Kabila’s image, http://www.worldwildlife.org for the Congo Rainforest’s map image
Sources: The Washington Post, New York Times, CIA World Factbook, http://www.mapsofworld.com, http://www.onegreenplanet.org

Typhoon Meranti

A very powerful storm, Typhoon Meranti, struck parts of the Philippines, Taiwan, and mainland China earlier this month causing much destruction. Meranti was the strongest storm recorded this year. It had winds of up to 280 kilometers per hour (175 miles per hour). Areas were flooded, homes were destroyed, trees were uprooted, and power lines were damaged. People were left without clean water.


Typhoons are very large storms with winds swirling around at high speeds. What’s the difference between cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons? Not much! They are all the same type of storm – the difference is what part of the world the storm strikes. In the South Pacific and Indian Ocean, they are called cyclones. In the Northwest Pacific, they are called typhoons. In the Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific, they are called hurricanes.

Here is a video of a giant moon model that rolled away with the winds of the typhoon in Fuzhou, China, and another video about tropical storms.



Image Credits: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov,  Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response for Typhoon Meranti’s image, Kelvinsong for hurricane diagram
Sources: New York Times, http://www.hindustantimes.com, http://www.nasa.gov, noaa.gov

Arctic sea ice coverage

On September 10, the Arctic sea ice coverage appeared to have hit its lowest for the year. This was the second-smallest ice cover ever recorded, tying with the low of 2007. The lowest was in 2012. The Arctic sea ice floats in the water body around the North Pole region. The size of  the coverage has been recorded by scientists since 1979. The ice cover melts and decreases in the summer months, and it refreezes and increases in the winter months. Usually, the largest sea ice cover over the Arctic is in the month of March, and the lowest is in the month of September.

The Arctic sea ice is very important. It acts like our planet’s air conditioner and helps control Earth’s climate. The sea ice reflects back into space a large percentage of sunlight that reaches the ice. The ocean surface without the ice cover would absorb a large percentage of the sunlight, which in turn would make the water warmer, and melt more ice.

Here is an older video explaining Arctic sea ice cover, and 3 videos explaining the role of ice in the ocean.


Image Credits: NOAA Climate.gov  for the Arctic sea ice and graph images
Sources: NOAA Climate.gov

Renewable energy in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has gone for over 2 months straight without burning any fossil fuels to generate electricity. They have used only renewable energy (hydropower, geothermal, wind, biomass, and solar energy). This year, the country has had a total of 150 days where the electricity came only from renewable sources. Last year, the country had a total of 300 such days. About 80% of the country’s electricity comes from hydroelectric power plants (where falling or flowing water is used to generate power). You can watch 2 videos here to learn more about this story.

Image Credits: Central Power Research Institute, Ministry of Power, Government of India for the renewable energy image
Sources: http://www.independent.co.uk

Guinness World Records book 2017

The Guinness World Records book for 2017 was recently released. These books are sold in more than 100 countries. A few of the new records mentioned in the 2017 edition are the youngest female with a full beard, tallest female dog, longest domestic cat, longest monster truck, and largest rocking chair. You can watch a short trailer about it here


Image Credits: http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com for the book cover image

Sources: http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com

Hajj pilgrimage

About 1.5 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 September 9. Hajj is considered to be one of the largest annual gatherings of people on Earth. You can watch a video here about Hajj.

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. Various tribes ruled the area that is today called Saudi Arabia. Abdulaziz Al-Saud conquered and united the tribes and formed the modern nation of Saudi Arabia in 1932. He became the first king, and was the king until his death in 1953. He is believed to have had over 30 sons and about 20 wives. All the kings after him have been his sons, including the current king.

Did you know?

A weekend in Saudi Arabia is on Friday and Saturday.

Image Credits: Bluemangoa2z at Malayalam Wikipedia for Masjid al-Haram’s image, Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo for King Salman’s image
Sources: http://www.aljazeera.com, CIA World Factbook, BBC, http://www.saudi.gov.sa, http://www.pbs.org, http://mci.gov.sa

Street signs in Seoul

The city of Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is running an interesting competition from September 21 to October 4. Folks are asked to submit errors they find in signs in public areas written in foreign languages (English, Chinese and Japanese) along with the location of the sign. The people who submit the most errors will receive gifts. An example is of a sign that says in Korean “Meeting point in Cheong Wa Dae,” and is translated into English as “Staring point for Cheong Wa Dae.” :-)


Image Credits: http://mediahub.seoul.go.kr for the image of the competition, http://english.seoul.go.kr for the texting street sign
Sources: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr, http://mediahub.seoul.go.kr, http://english.seoul.go.kr

US Open 2016

The 2016 U.S. Open tennis tournament was held from  August 29 to September 11 in New York, United States. Angelique Kerber (Germany, image) beat Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) to win the women’s singles title. Stan Wawrinka (Switzerland, image) beat Novak Djokovic (Serbia) to win the men’s singles title. There were other winners as well. You can see the winners in the video here, and there is another video with the best moments from the tournament here.

The Arthur Ashe Stadium is the main stadium of the US Open tennis tournament. The stadium got a new retractable roof before this year’s tournament, to allow the games to continue in bad weather. The roof was put to good use since it did rain during the tournament. However, the roof created another problem for the players – the noises from the audience got louder! :-)  Here is a video about the stadium.

The US Open started in 1881 in Rhode Island, USA. The tournament is played on hard courts.

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
Tennis who?
Tennis my favorite number!

Image Credits: http://www.usopen.org for its logo, Richiekim for the Arthur Ashe Stadium image
Sources: http://www.usopen.org, www.si.com, http://funkidsjokes.com

Regular flights between the United States and Cuba

JetBlue became the first U.S. airline to have a regularly scheduled commercial flight between the United States and Cuba in more than 50 years. The first flight took off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA to Santa Clara, Cuba on August 31. This was another step between the two nations in trying to resolve their differences.


Cuba and the United States are separated by just about 100 miles (160 km). In 1959, a man called Fidel Castro took over as the leader of Cuba. The government of Cuba took over many industries and companies in the nation, including some that were owned by companies in the United States. Cuba also became friendly and increased its trade with the Soviet Union, a nation the U.S. did not get along with. Cuba and the United States’ relationship worsened and the US broke off diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1961.

In 1961 and 1962, the United States even tried to overthrow Castro (image) from power in Cuba, but did not succeed. In 1962, the U.S. government realized that the Soviet Union was building missile bases in Cuba. This tremendously upset the U.S.. Eventually, the U.S. and Soviet leaders struck a deal. The Soviet Union removed its missiles from Cuba, and the U.S. removed its missiles from Turkey. The U.S. government placed trade restrictions with Cuba, which hurt the Cuban economy. Since December 2014, the two countries are making an effort to become friends again.

Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean Sea. Christopher Columbus (image) arrived in Cuba in 1492, and claimed it as a Spanish territory. The U.S. helped Cubans get their independence from Spain in 1898. Cuba was under the U.S. for a brief period of time, and became an independent nation in 1902. A game Cubans love to play is dominoes. Many people gather and set up tables on the street to play the game. Here is a video about Christopher Columbus.

Image Credits: Business Wire and jetblue.com for the image of the first flight, google.com for map of flights, http://acervo.estadao.com.br for Castro’s image
Sources: time.com, https://history.state.gov, http://www.state.gov, http://www.biography.com, http://www.cubaheritage.org

Flight around the world

Lachlan Smart is indeed a smart teenager. The 18-year old Australian set a world record on August 26 to become the youngest person ever to fly alone around the world in a single engine aircraft. He flew about 24,000 nautical miles (45,000km) in 54 days stopping in 24 locations. The previous record was held by a 19-year old. Here is a video showing Smart’s final landing in the Sunshine Coast, Australia.



Did you know?

The distance around the Earth at the Equator (that’s where the Earth is the widest) is 24,901 miles (40,075km).

Image Credits: http://www.wingsaroundtheworld.com.au for Smart’s image
Sources: http://www.wingsaroundtheworld.com.au, http://www.stuff.co.nz