Fidel Castro passes away

On November 25, former Cuban President Fidel Castro passed away at the age of 90 due to health issues. Castro was one of the longest ruling leaders in modern times. He was the leader of Cuba for 49 years. Castro was born in 1926, and studied to become a lawyer. Castro believed in communism, where the government owns all property and controls jobs and education. He took over as Cuba’s leader in 1959, and gave up his presidency in 2008 because of health problems. Castro wanted to provide Cubans with the best education and health care system that was free for all. Today, Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world – out of 1,000 people, only 2 are uneducated. Castro was not kind to people who opposed him. Many who disagreed fled Cuba or were put in jail.

Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean Sea. It is separated from the United States by just about a hundred miles (about 160 km). Cuba and the United States did not get along under the rule of Castro. The US broke off diplomatic ties with Cuba in 1961. In 1961 and 1962, the United States even tried to overthrow Castro from power, but did not succeed. 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. Castro’s brother, Raul Castro, has been the president of Cuba since 2008.

Here are 2 videos – the first about Castro and the other about American Cuban relations.


Did you know?

During the time that Fidel Castro was the leader of Cuba, the United States went through 10 presidents, and the James Bond movies went through 7 actors!

Image Credits:  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington for the young Castro image, Agência Brasil and Antônio Milena/ABr for the older Castro image
Sources: BBC, CIA World Factbook, Seeker Daily, biography.com

World Chess Championship 2016

 Magnus Carlsen (a 26-year-old from Norway) won the World Chess Championship 2016 on November 30 in New York, USA. He defeated Sergey Karjakin (also 26 years old, from Russia). Carlsen has been the winner of the World Chess Championship since 2013. He became the youngest person to be ranked the World Number One chess player in 2010. He was just 19 years old at the time. Carlsen started playing chess at the age of 5, and by the time he was 13, he was awarded the title of chess Grandmaster (a title given to only the most excellent chess players around the globe). Carlsen can play multiple chess games simultaneously, while not looking at the chess boards and just being told verbally what moves his competitors have made. He is often called the “Mozart of Chess”. Here is a video about him.


Image Credits: Andreas Kontokanis from Piraeus, Greece for the image of Carlsen
Sources: https://ratings.fide.com, http://magnuscarlsen.com, New York Times

The Netherlands and Belgium swap land

The Netherlands and Belgium signed a treaty on November 28 to exchange some land at the Maas River (also known as Meuse). Belgium is giving two parcels of land in exchange for one from the Netherlands. Nobody lives on these lands.


In 1961, work was done to straighten some of the bends in the Maas river. Because of this work, these pieces of land were left on the wrong side of the border, and the two nations had problems accessing their own territories. The swap will make it much easier for both countries to get to their own land. The treaty has to now be approved by the parliaments of both nations.

People from Belgium are called Belgians and people from the Netherlands are called Dutch.

Did you know?

1961 was an interesting year as it read the same when turned upside down. The next time we encounter a year that reads the same when it’s upside down is 6009.

Image Credits: http://www.limburg.nl and ProvincieLimburg for the map images
Sources: http://www.dutchnews.nl, http://www.limburg.nl

A new rule for Indian cinemas

India’s Supreme Court has passed a new rule for the nation. All movie theaters have to play the national anthem before screening a film. The cinemas have been asked to display the national flag on the screen as the anthem is played. The goal is that hearing the national anthem will bring out feelings of patriotism and nationalism amongst Indians. The Indian state of Maharashtra has already been enforcing this rule for some time now. India’s largest city, Mumbai (which used to be called Bombay), is in Maharashtra.

Indians love going to the movies. One of the largest film industries in the world is the Hindi language film industry based in Mumbai. It has been nicknamed Bollywood. The word Bollywood is a portmanteau (a word that blends two or more words together) of “Bombay” and “Hollywood” (the American film industry).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the leader of India. India’s national anthem is “Jana Gana Mana”. You can hear the national anthem and watch a video about Modi here.

Image Credits: Realcontents4u for the image of rupees, http://www.narendramodi.in for Narendra Modi’s image
Sources: https://rbi.org.in, http://www.hindustantimes.com, https://www.cia.gov, Seeker Daily, www.worldometers.info

College Scholastic Ability Test

 On November 17, several unusual things were happening in South Korea – many parents were praying, some flights were rescheduled to reduce noise pollution, people went to work at different times to reduce traffic on the roads, and people didn’t honk their horns for some time. All of this was done so that about 600,000 high school senior students could get to their test centers and have a quiet atmosphere to take an eight-hour exam called the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT). For most kids, this test result will determine which university they get into.


Sources: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr, http://www.independent.co.uk

2016 Formula One

Nico Rosberg, a 31-year-old from Germany, won the 2016 Formula One (F1) World Drivers’ Championship. He is with the Mercedes AMG Petronas racing team. This is Rosberg’s first F1 Championship. Rosberg’s father, Keke Rosberg, is also a winner of the F1 Championship. He won in 1982.

Formula One consists of a series of car races called Grand Prix. The number of Grand Prix races held in a year can change. The results of all the Grand Prix races are combined to determine the overall winner of the F1 Championship. The length of each race is around 300 km or 200 miles.

This year, 21 Grands Prix races were held in various cities around the world. The first was held in Melbourne, Australia in March. The last was held in Abu Dhabi, UAE in November. Rosberg came in 2nd in this last Grand Prix race. However, his overall score placed him to be the winner of the F1 Championship. You can watch the highlights from the race in Abu Dhabi here.

F1 started in Europe in 1950. Its roots are from Grand Prix motor racing which started in the early 1900s in France.


Image Credits: https://www.formula1.com for Rosberg’s image and for the F1 logo
Sources: https://www.formula1.com

OPEC agrees to cut oil output

OPEC announced that it will cut its crude oil output starting January 2017. This is to try to increase the price of oil which has more than halved in the last couple of years.

Oil is bought and sold all around the world. Its price is determined by how much oil there is to sell (the supply) and the amount of oil people need (the demand). In the last couple of years, the global demand for oil has fallen, but the oil supply has still been high. There has been a glut of oil and this has driven down the oil prices.

OPEC (the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) is a group of 14 countries which together produce more than one-third of the world’s oil. These countries are Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Gabon, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.

Indonesia has announced that it will leave the OPEC as it is not okay with the oil output cuts.

Here is a video about this story.

Image Credits: Vox for oil price graph, http://www.opec.org for the Opec Meeting image
Sources: Vox, Reuters, http://www.opec.org

Oldest person gets older

Emma Morano, an Italian woman who is the oldest known living person in the world, recently celebrated her 117th birthday. Morano is the last known person born on the planet in the 1800s. She was born on November 29, 1899. The world population has grown by over 5 billion people during her lifetime. Here is a video about her.

The oldest known person who has ever lived was Jeanne Calment (image), a French woman who died in 1997 at the age of 122 years.

Sources: http://www.grg.org, USA Today, http://geography.about.com

Trump elected as the next president of the United States

On November 8, the citizens of the United States voted for their next president. Donald Trump, an American businessman, won the elections. He will take office on January 20, 2017. Trump is 70 years old, and was born in New York, United States.

Presidential elections are held every 4 years in the United States. A person has to be a citizen of the country and must be at least 18 years old to vote. Here is a video about the United States government.

The United States is a country known for having invented numerous new products. You probably use many of these regularly – blue jeans, zippers on your pants, coca-cola, crayons, band-aid, bubble-gum, scotch-tape, vacuum cleaners, popsicles, photocopiers, the computer mouse, chocolate chip cookies, iPods, cell phones – the list is quite endless!

Image Credits: https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump for Trump’s image
Sources: http://www.enchantedlearning.com, BBC

Word of the Year for 2016

The Oxford Dictionaries picked their Word of the Year for 2016 to be (drum-roll) “post-truth”. Post-truth is an adjective, and is defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’. The usage of “post-truth” shot up this year.

Some of the other words on the shortlist were “coulrophobia” (extreme or irrational fear of clowns), “woke” (alert to injustice in society, especially racism), and “chatbot” (a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet).

Here is a video explaining why post-truth was selected for 2016.


Did you know?

Some of the previous Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year are vape, selfie, and even the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji.

Image Credits: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com for the word of the year image
Sources: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com