G-7 Summit

The G-7 summit is currently being held in Shima, Japan (May 26–27). It is a meeting of leaders from seven powerful countries around the globe. These countries are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States. The presidents of the European Union Council and the European Union Commission also participate in the meetings. Some of the issues being discussed at this summit are the global economy, trade, human rights, and climate change.

The G-7 was started in France in 1975. There were only six members then, and sure enough, it was called the G-6. The addition of Canada made it the G-7, and Russia bumped it to the G-8. In 2014, the membership of Russia was suspended. This was because of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, where Russia took over a region of the country called Crimea. Now it is back to being G-7. The group meets every year.

The G-7 is not the only “G” out there. There is the G-20, which is a group of 19 nations and the European Union. There is also the G-77, a group of countries which did start with 77 members, but now has 134. The group decided to stick with its original name though, which was very wise, otherwise it would have been changing its name every few months! :-)

Here are the current leaders of the G-7 nations: Canada – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, France – President François Hollande, Germany – Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italy – Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Japan – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, United Kingdom – Prime Minister David Cameron,  and the United States – President Barack Obama.


Image Credits: http://www.japan.go.jp/g7 for the leaders image and the flags image
Sources: https://www.g7germany.de, http://www.japan.go.jp/g7, ww.g77.org, https://www.g20.org

No Coke in Venezuela

The company Coca-Cola announced that its bottling company in Venezuela has stopped production of Coke and its other sugary drinks for the time being. This is because of a huge shortage of sugar in Venezuela. Coca-Cola will continue to produce its diet (or light) drinks in Venezuela that don’t use sugar to sweeten the taste. The shortage of sugar is partly because fewer farmers are growing sugar cane crop. The cost of growing sugar cane has shot up. The price of sugar cane is controlled by the government, where the farmers cannot charge beyond a maximum price that is set by the government. Therefore, farmers have turned to growing other crops that will make them more money.

Well, how much sugar can a 12-ounce of Coke have? One can contains over 9 teaspoons of sugar.

Sugar isn’t the only shortage Venezuelans are dealing with. Another is “power.” Power shortages are caused by drought problems which have led to low water levels in the country’s rivers and dams. About 70% of the country’s energy comes from hydroelectric power plants (where falling or flowing water is used to generate power). With very low water levels, the hydroelectric plants are not generating enough electricity for the nation. There have been daily power cuts around the nation.

Venezuelans are unhappy with their government. Many have signed a petition for the removal of their President Nicolas Maduro.

Coca Cola was invented in the United States in 1886 by a pharmacist named John Pemberton (image). Pemberton initially sold the drink for medicinal purposes, and claimed that it cured a few diseases. A man called Asa Candler bought the formula of the drink and went on to create the Coca Cola Company in 1892. Today the company has more than 3,500 beverages and sells its drinks in over 200 countries.

Here is a video of a Coca Cola’s advertisement that became popular called “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing”. There are two more videos, one about how much sugar is in a can of Coke, and the other is an experiment using cans of Coke and Diet Coke to see which will float or sink.

Did you know?

The story above contains an oxymoron. Oxymorons are a combination of contradictory words. Can you spot the oxymoron? It’s “huge shortage”. :-)

Image Credits: http://www.coca-colacompany.com for Coca-Cola’s image and Pemberton’s image
Sources: http://money.cnn.com, http://www.reuters.com, http://www.coca-colacompany.com

Eurovision Song Contest 2016

The Eurovision Song Contest, an annual song competition for countries that are active members of the European Broadcasting Union, was recently held. This year, the contest took place in Stockholm, Sweden and 42 countries participated. The winning song was “1944″, performed by Jamala for the country Ukraine. Eurovision is one of the world’s largest and oldest music competitions. It started in 1956, and has been broadcast on TV every year since, making it one of the longest running television shows in the world. The participants can sing in any language they wish. The contest is held in the country of the previous year’s winner. Therefore, next year’s Eurovision will be held in Ukraine.

Some of Eurovision’s contestants have gone on to become quite famous. ABBA from Sweden (the 1974 winner), Celine Dion from Canada (the 1988 winner), and Julio Iglesias from Spain (a 1970 participant) are some examples.

You can watch the winning song here.


Did you know?

Belgium’s song entries in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2003 and 2008 were in made-up languages.

Image Credits: Thomas Hanses (EBU) and http://www.eurovision.tv for the image of Jamala
Sources: http://www.eurovision.tv

Robots replace humans

 Foxconn Technology Group recently announced that it is in the process of replacing 60,000 jobs that are done by humans with robots. Foxconn is a Taiwanese electronics manufacturing company. Amongst other products, Foxconn makes parts for Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

Taiwan is an island at a distance of about 100 miles (160 km) from mainland China. The status of Taiwan is a controversy. Taiwan has its own government and runs its own economy. Many Taiwanese want Taiwan to be an independent country. China considers Taiwan to be a part of itself.

Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in as president of Taiwan on May 20, making her Taiwan’s first female president.


Image Credits: http://www.foxconn.com for Foxconn’s logo image, http://www.president.gov.tw for Tsai Ing-wen’s image

Sources: http://www.foxconn.com, BBC

Festival de Cannes 2016

The Festival de Cannes (pronounced “kaan”), one of the world’s most famous and prestigious film festivals, was held from May 11 to 22. The festival is held every year in the town of Cannes, France. Film celebrities from all over the world were in attendance. The highest award at the festival is the Palme d’Or (French for “Golden Palm”) which was awarded to the film “I, Daniel Blake” (United Kingdom). The festival is quite large, with about 35,000 film professionals and over 4,000 international journalists in attendance. An unofficial award is also given to the dog that has the best performance in a film. The award is called the Palm Dog. The winner this year went to the dog Nellie for her role as the male Marvin in the American film “Paterson.” Nellie passed away earlier this year.

The Cannes film festival was first held 69 years ago, but that’s only about half as old as film-making itself. Photography, or the art of “still pictures” was invented in the 1820s. It was only in the 1890s that “moving pictures” were invented. The Lumiere brothers, Auguste and Louis (image), invented a device in France to record and show moving pictures. They called it the “cinematographe”, from which we got the word “cinema”. Their first film was “La Sortie des usines Lumière”, which was just 46 seconds long. They did the first paid public showing of their films in Paris, the capital of France, on December 28, 1895. Many scholars view this event as the “birth of cinema”. Years later, Louis Lumiere was asked to become the first president of a film festival – the Festival de Cannes.

You can watch “La Sortie des usines Lumière” here.

Did you know?

“View from the Window at Le Gras” is considered to be amongst the world’s first photographs. It was produced by the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826 or 1827. Here is a video about how he created the photograph.

Image Credits: http://www.festival-cannes.com for its logo, http://www.hrc.utexas.edu for Niépce’s photograph
Sources: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com, http://www.palmdog.com, http://www.festival-cannes.com, http://www.hrc.utexas.edu, http://www.earlycinema.com, http://www.britannica.com

New leaders elected in the Philippines and Austria

Folks in the Philippines and Austria held elections to choose their next presidents. Rodrigo Duterte won the elections in the Philippines. In his campaign to become president, Duterte promised he will focus on decreasing crime and corruption in the nation. The Philippines is named after a Spanish king, Philip II, from the 16th century. It is a country of islands (over 7,000), mountains, rainforests, hot & humid climate, coconuts, mangoes, volcanoes, typhoons, and lots of languages! Manila is its capital. The way the flag is flipped gives a message about the state of the nation. In times of peace, the flag is flown with the blue band at the top. In wartime, the flag is flown with the red band at the top.

The election in Austria was extremely close. Alexander Van der Bellen won by 50.3% votes. His opponent had the remaining 49.7%. Austria has given the world very famous composers. Some of them are Wolfgang Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Johann Strauss II, and Franz Schubert. The capital of Austria, Vienna, is referred to as “the City of Music” by many. The restaurant St Peter Stiftskeller, in the city of Salzburg, claims to be one of the oldest restaurants in the world that is still operating today. It opened just 1,200 years ago in 803 AD. :-)

You can hear some of the music of the Austrian composers here.

The Marriage of Figaro (Wolfgang Mozart)

The Blue Danube (Johann Strauss II)

Ellens Gesang III”, D. 839 (Franz Schubert)


Did you know?

The sentence “Anne, I vote more cars race Rome to Vienna.” is a palindrome – it spells the same forwards and backwards.

Image Credits: http://www.stpeter-stiftskeller.at for its logo
Sources: http://www.stpeter-stiftskeller.at, BBC, Al Jazeera, CIA World Factbook

A bit more news

On May 22, Canada won the 2016 Men’s Ice Hockey World Championship defeating Finland. Sixteen countries participated in the Championship games which were held in Russia. The tournament is held annually.

On May 25, an underground water pipe burst under a road in Florence, Italy. The road collapsed, and the cars on the road fell into the hole.

A lady in Texas, United States posted a video of herself. She was trying on a face mask of Chewbacca (a character from the Star Wars movies) and was laughing hysterically. Her video, with over 140 million views, broke the Facebook record for the “most-watched live video” ever.

The world’s largest cruise ship is now the Harmony of the Seas (image) owned by the Royal Caribbean. It was completed this month. Its passenger capacity is about 6,000 people with a crew of over 2,000.

Google recently announced a new product called Google Home. It is a voice-activated device that allows a person to get answers from Google, stream music, change the temperature, turn on lights in a room, order a taxi from Uber, and manage other everyday tasks.

You can watch a video about the Ice Hockey Championship here, and another showing the top 5 goals and saves. There are also videos about the sinkhole in Florence, the Chewbacca mask, Harmony of the Seas, and Google Home.

Image Credits:  Minas Panagiotakis / HHOF-IIHF Images for Canadian hockey image, kees torn for largest cruise ship image

Sources: http://www.iihfworlds2016.com, New York Times, https://www.facebook.com/zuck, http://www.royalcaribbean.com, google.com, euronews

Brazil’s President suspended

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff (image) has been suspended from the top job while a trial decides if she will continue on as president of the nation. Brazil’s Vice President Michel Temer has stepped in as the country’s president. Rousseff became president of Brazil in 2011, and was re-elected two years ago. She is blamed for wrongdoing to make the country’s economy look better than it actually is.

Brazilians have been frustrated with Rousseff’s government for some time now. Many people don’t have jobs and the cost of living has shot up. Brazil hosted one major sporting event in 2014 (FIFA World Cup Soccer), and is going to host another big event in August (the Olympics). The government has spent tons of money in creating the infrastructure to host these events. There have been many complaints that the government has overspent money for these events, but not invested enough money for the nation’s citizens.

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world (by both area and population). It was a Portuguese colony for over 300 years, and got its independence in 1822. When you say Brazil, some things that pop up are – the Amazon Rainforest (the largest rainforest on our planet), the Amazon River (the second longest river in the world), the statue of Christ the Redeemer (a tall statue of Jesus Christ overlooking the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro), the Copacabana beach (famous for its New Year’s Eve parties), the Rio Carnival (an annual street party), and the samba (a Brazilian dance). Brazil’s capital is Brasília, and its official language is Portuguese. Brazilians love soccer. Brazil holds the record for the most World Cup Soccer titles with 5 wins. One of the world’s most famous soccer players is a Brazilian named Pelè (image, real name Edison Arantes do Nascimento). How famous is he really? In 1967, Nigerians stopped an ongoing civil war for 2 days so that they could watch Pelè compete in a match!

Did you know?

Brazil is the only South American country with Portuguese as its official language.


Image Credits: http://www2.planalto.gov.br for Rousseff’s image, http://footballforpeaceglobal.org for Pelè’s image
Sources: New York times, http://kids.nationalgeographic.com, http://www.fifa.com, http://sites.duke.edu

2016 World Snooker Championship

Mark Selby (from the United Kingdom) won the 2016 World Snooker Championship on May 2 by defeating Ding Junhui (from China). The championship is played every year in Sheffield, UK. Snooker, like billiards, is played by using a long stick to hit a bunch of balls on a green table with holes. The most likely origins of snooker come from the British soldiers in India over a hundred years ago. They had invented a different version of billiards which got named after the term used for inexperienced soldiers – “snookers”! Here is a video about how to play snooker.

Image Credits: http://www.worldsnooker.com for Selby’s image
Sources: http://www.worldsnooker.com

May Day

May 1 was celebrated around the world as May Day. Like every year, there were at least two important celebrations associated with it. One celebration was for the International Workers’ Day or Labor Day. Workers in many countries gathered around to express their unity and also voice their concerns. In Kuala Lumpur (capital of Malaysia), Lisbon (capital of Portugal), Colombo (Sri Lanka), and Manila (capital of the Philippines), people asked for better working conditions, higher salaries, and more jobs. In Buenos Aires (capital of Argentina), people protested against the large number of recent job cuts in the country. In Istanbul (Turkey), Seattle (United States), and Paris (capital of France), the protests turned violent. A few people were hurt, and some were arrested. There were many more protests held around the globe.

Why did May 1 become a day to celebrate the workers of the world? On that day in 1886, large rallies were started by workers in various cities in the United States to shorten the working day. The rallies lead to some riots in Chicago, USA which resulted in the death of several workers as well as policemen. In 1889, an international labor organization decided in Paris, France to choose May 1, 1890 as the day to commemorate the workers’ fight for an eight-hour work day across the globe. Since then, May Day has become an annual event celebrated by several countries in the world.

 May Day is also celebrated as the first day of summer in many cultures. A tradition in the United Kingdom is for people to dance around Maypoles which are wooden poles decorated with flowers and ribbons. In France, some people present their loved ones with stems of lilies of the valley (a type of flower). Some Americans hang a basket of flowers on a neighbor’s door knob. A German tradition is for the people of a village to steal the Maypole of other villages.

Did you know?

If you say “Mayday” three times, it becomes a call for help. Mayday is often used over radios by boats and ships, for instance, to indicate that they are in trouble and need help. This word, though, has nothing to do with May Day! It is believed to originate from “M’aider” which means “help me” in French.

Image Credits: www.walkingmountains.org for May pole and dancing image, flights.indonesiamatters.com for May Day’s image
Sources: http://www.cnn.com, http://www.cbc.ca, http://www.npr.org, http://www.oxforddictionaries.com, http://www.iww.org, http://frenchmoments.eu, http://www.bavaria.by