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South Korean president forced to step down

South Korea’s president, Park Geun-hye, has been removed from office by the country’s Constitutional Court. The country’s prime minister is the acting president. Elections are expected to be held in May to choose the next president.

 

 

Park (image) was accused of giving classified information to her friend, Choi Soon-sil. Choi used the information and her connection with Park to meddle in government affairs and to get lots of money from businesses in South Korea. Choi is being tried for her crimes. Park was the country’s first female president, and is now also the first democratically elected leader to be forced to step down. She is the daughter of Park Chung-hee who was South Korea’s leader from 1961 to 1979.

 

The official home of the president is called the Blue House (image), and is located in Seoul, the country’s capital. South Korea is known for its fancy electronics, robots, cars, and ships. Korean is the official language. The Korean alphabet is called Hangul. A popular Korean dish is bibimbap, a rice dish with different vegetables, meats, egg, and chilli paste on top. Another popular Korean food is kimchi, a dish made of pickled vegetables. Taekwondo is a form of martial arts that originates from Korea. A music genre that’s very popular in South Korea is K-pop (Korean pop).

South Korea and its northern neighbor, North Korea, used to be part of one country called Korea. A line in the middle was drawn and two countries, North and South Korea, were created in 1948. The line was called the 38th Parallel since it was at the latitude 38 degrees north.

Here is a video about Park and Choi.

Image Credits: Rishabh Tatiraju for the image of the 38th parallel, Steve46814and Humorahead01 for the image of the Blue House, Korea.net for Park’s image and the flag image
Sources: BBC, http://www.korea.net, https://www.britannica.com

Pi Day 2017

“Pi Day” was celebrated in many countries on March 14. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the name of a constant number in mathematics that represents the relationship between a circle’s diameter (its width) and its circumference (the distance around the circle). The value of the number is 3.1415926535… (and its digits go on forever).

Since March 14 is written as 3/14 in some countries, this day is celebrated as Pi Day. Many people eat and gift food in the shape of a circle (pizza and pies) to celebrate the number. Albert Einstein, one of the world’s greatest scientists, was born on Pi Day. The mirror image of “3.14” spells “PIE”. Some nations where the date is written as day/month celebrate Pi Approximation Day on July 22. This is because the fraction 22/7 is used as an approximation of pi.

In November 2016, over 22.4 trillion digits of pi were calculated. Here is a video about it, and another about pi.


Did you know?

The first 144 digits of pi add up to 666, and 144 = (6+6) x (6+6).

Image Credits: https://en.wikipedia.org for the circle image, RR Auction and Einstein’s World Author for Einstein’s image
Sources: www.piday.org, https://www.timeanddate.com, https://www.newscientist.com, SciShow

Boaty McBoatface

A remotely operated yellow submarine called “Boaty McBoatface” is about to start its first mission. It is going into the waters around Antarctica to study how global warming is impacting the oceans.

Last year, United Kingdom’s Natural Environment Research Council had asked the public to help name its new polar research ship. People voted for the names online. The name with the most votes was “Boaty McBoatface”. The research ship was given a different name, but this yellow submarine got the winning name.

Here is a video about this news story and another video of a song called “Yellow Submarine” sung by the group Beatles.

Image Credits: http://www.nerc.ac.uk for Boaty McBoatface’s image
Sources: https://www.bas.ac.uk, http://www.nerc.ac.uk, New York Times

Tiff between the Netherlands and Turkey

Turkey and the Netherlands are having a tiff. The government of the Netherlands refused to let a Turkish government official’s plane land in their country. The official was going to the Netherlands to take part in a rally. The rally was to persuade the Turkish community living there to vote for some Turkish constitution changes next month. The constitution changes will give the Turkish president more powers. The president of Turkey is Recep Tayyip Erdogan (image). However, the government of the Netherlands did not want the rally on its soil, and refused to let the official’s plane land. In response, Erdogan said some not-very-nice things about the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, parliamentary elections were recently held in the Netherlands. The current Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s (image) political party won the most votes, which puts him in a position to continue being the prime minister for another term. However, his political party didn’t win enough votes which are needed to govern. He will have to work with some of the other political parties to form a government.

 

The Netherlands often causes confusion with its various names. It is often called Holland, which is a part of the Netherlands, but is sometimes used to refer to the country as well. The people of the Netherlands are called by a name that doesn’t resemble the name of the country at all – the Dutch. When you think about the Netherlands, some words that pop up are tulips, windmills, canals, wooden shoes, cheese, cyclists, and the painter Vincent van Gogh.

Here is a video about the tiff.

 

Did you know?

Some Turkish folks squeezed oranges while protesting against the Netherlands. This is because the color “orange” is associated with the Dutch Royal family.

Image Credits: https://www.government.nl for Rutte’s image, https://www.tccb.gov.tr for Erdogan’s image, http://www.holland.com for the tulip field’s image
Sources: http://www.euronews.com, New York Times, BBC, https://www.government.nl, http://www.holland.com

Earth Hour 2017

Earth Hour will be celebrated on March 25 from 8:30pm to 9:30pm (your local time). Earth Hour is an annual event where people, businesses, and cities around the globe are urged to turn off as many lights and electrical gadgets as they can for one hour. While this saves electricity, the bigger goal is to create awareness in people about simple changes they can make in their lifestyles to help our planet. Earth Hour began in Sydney, Australia ten years ago in 2007. Last year, hundreds of millions of people in 178 countries and territories turned off their lights for an hour. Over 400 of the world’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge (Australia), the Burj Khalifa (UAE), and the Eiffel Tower (France), also participated by going dark. Here is a video about Earth Hour.

Image Credits: https://www.earthhour.org for Earth Hour’s image
Sources: https://www.earthhour.org

A landmark lost

A landmark of Malta is gone. The Azure Window, a natural limestone rock arch, collapsed during a storm on March 8. There is going to be some reprinting of those travel brochures about Malta as the Azure Window shows up on many of them. The arch can also be seen in some films and television series (such as Game of Thrones). Here is a video about this news story.

Malta is an island country in the Mediterranean Sea. It got its independence from the United Kingdom in 1964. Valletta is its capital, and Maltese and English are the official languages.

Image Credits: PDTillman and Berit Watkin for the image of the Azure Window
Sources: npr.org, CIA World Factbook

A bit more news

Snap Inc became a publicly traded company on March 2. Snap calls itself a “camera company”. Many of us use the company’s popular messaging app called Snapchat. Snap’s market capitalization is about US$23 billion. (As a comparison, Facebook’s market capitalization is about US$400 billion.) Snap was founded in 2011. Evan Spiegel is the company’s CEO and one of its founders.

The International Women’s Day 2017 (IWD) was celebrated on March 8. IWD is a day when people show respect and appreciation for women. It is also a day when people mark achievements of women. The first IWD was celebrated on March 19, 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland.

Over 60 people have been killed in Ethiopia. There was a landslide at a humongous garbage dump just outside of Addis Ababa, the capital. Some homes near the dump were buried under trash.

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th. This was originally a religious Irish holiday but is celebrated all over the world now. A tradition is to wear something green. For over 40 years, the Chicago River in Chicago, USA has been dyed green as part of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. This year, the river was colored green on March 11.

 

 

The Whanganui River, the third longest river in New Zealand, has been recognized by the country’s government as a “legal person”. The river will have rights just as a human being does.

Here is a video about the garbage dump in Ethiopia, Western Union’s video for IWD, Chicago River turning green, Newsy’s video about the Whanganui River, and a video of a professor that has gone viral.





Image Credits: https://www.internationalwomensday.com for IWD’s image, http://visitwhanganui.nz for Whanganui River’s image, snap.com for its logo image, https://twitter.com/Chicago_Police for the Chicago River image
Sources: https://www.internationalwomensday.com, BBC, http://visitwhanganui.nz, Newsy, Al Jazeera, NewsBeat Social, https://www.snap.com, Chicago Tribune

A massive crack on an ice shelf

There is a massive crack that has been getting longer on the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica. The crack is about 175 km (108 mile) long. If it grows by just another 20 km, scientists expect a gigantic chunk of ice to break off creating one of the largest icebergs ever recorded.

 

 

An ice shelf is a sheet of ice that floats on water and is connected to a landmass. It forms when a large mass of ice slides from land into water. When a part of an ice shelf breaks off, it doesn’t increase the sea level because the ice was already floating in water. An iceberg is a large chunk of ice that breaks off from a glacier or an ice shelf and floats freely in water. Typically, only a small percentage of an iceberg is above water, and a large chunk of it is underwater. This makes it difficult to really say how big or what shape the whole iceberg is by just looking at what is sticking out of the water. This has led to the phrase “tip of the iceberg”, which means a small part of something that is larger but it is unclear how large it might be.

Antarctica is a continent owned by no nation. It is shared by many countries for scientific research, and it covers the Earth’s South Pole. Antarctica is the coldest place on Earth with the coldest temperature ever recorded of -135.8F in 2010. It is also the biggest desert in the world! Wait, but isn’t Antarctica cold and doesn’t it have a lot of ice? Yes, but the definition of a “desert” is an area where it hardly ever rains or snows or hails.

Here is a video about this news story and another about icebergs.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen was the first person to reach the South Pole in 1911.

Did you know?

Ants live on every continent on Earth, except for the one whose name begins with the word “Ant” – Antarctica!

DID YOU KNOW?

A passenger ship called the Titanic sank in the Atlantic Ocean after hitting an iceberg in 1912. The ship was headed from the United Kingdom to the United States. Here is a video about the Titanic.

Image Credits: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov for the Larsen C Ice Shelf image, MIDAS project and http://www.swansea.ac.uk for the Larsen C Ice Shelf rift image, https://www.nasa.gov for Antarctica’s image
Sources: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov, http://www.swansea.ac.uk, NASA, http://www.history.com, TedEd, http://www.swansea.ac.uk, http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com

A new Vice President in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev named his wife as the Vice President of the country. Mehriban Aliyeva (image) is the nation’s first VP as the role was created just last year when some changes were made to Azerbaijan’s constitution. Aliev became the country’s president in 2003, and his father was the president before him.

 

Azerbaijan was part of the Soviet Union until 1991. Baku is the country’s capital and Azerbaijani is the official language. The famous world chess champion Garry Kasparov (image) was born in Baku. About half of the world’s mud volcanoes are in Azerbaijan. A mud volcano pushes out mud and gases through cracks in the ground.

Here is a video about this news story and another about mud volcanos.


Did you know?

The Soviet Union broke up into fifteen separate countries: Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Georgia, and Russia.

Image Credits: Vugaramrullayev for the photo of Aliyeva, S.M.S.I., Inc. – Owen Williams and the Kasparov Agency for Kasparov’s image
Sources: https://www.washingtonpost.com, http://www.azerbaijan.az, CIA World Factbook, http://www.kasparov.com, http://www.slate.com

Trip around the moon

Two people have booked a very expensive trip for late next year. It’s no ordinary trip. The American company SpaceX recently announced that it is planning to fly 2 tourists on its spacecraft around the moon and back. SpaceX already uses its spacecraft to send supplies to the International Space Station (a large research facility in space). The company will fly astronauts to the Space Station before flying folks around the moon.

 

SpaceX was founded in 2002. Elon Musk (image) is its CEO. The company’s ultimate goal is “to enable people to live on other planets.”

Neil Armstrong, the American astronaut, was the first person to take a step on our moon in 1969. The last person to walk on the moon was Eugene Cernan, also an American astronaut, in 1972.

Forget the moon, here is a video about SpaceX transporting humans to Mars!

Did you know?

When Neil Armstrong took his first step on the moon, he said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” It can be re-arranged to say “Famed Neil Armstrong on pleasant moon path talks fine.” (by Joseph Simon)

Image Credits: SpaceX for its rocket launch image, Steve Jurvetson for Musk’s image, https://www.nasa.gov for Armstrong’s image
Sources: https://www.theguardian.com, SpaceX, http://www.space.com, NASA, Joseph Simon