Bombing in Manchester

On May 22, there was an explosion outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, United Kingdom. A 22-year-old British man blew up a bomb killing himself and 22 other people. More than 50 people were injured. The concert was over, and Grande had already left the stage when the bomb blast occurred. To show support to the United Kingdom, many countries lit up their landmarks in colors of the nation’s flag, known as the Union Jack.


The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack. The IS is a group whose aim is to establish a state for Muslim people where strict Islamic law is followed. The group’s leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (image). He calls himself a spiritual leader of the Muslim people. The IS came out of another group in Iraq. It was well-funded and became very powerful. In 2014, the IS started taking over large parts of Iraq, and then moved on to take over parts of Syria. The group is known for being strict, harsh, and brutal. The IS has killed many people, including Muslims who don’t agree with its philosophy.


Ariana Grande (image) is a 23-year-old American singer and actress. She has cancelled her next shows which were to take place in London, the capital of the United Kingdom, and some other European cities. After the attack, she tweeted, “Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have words.”



Image Credits: http://www.imdb.com for the image of Grande, http://editorials.voa.gov for the image of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,
Sources: New York Times

Elections in Iran

Presidential elections were recently held in Iran. The current President Hassan Rouhani (image) won another term. He is 68 years old and has a degree in law. Rouhani has been the president since 2013. The President of Iran is the second-highest ranking official in the country. The highest is the country’s “Supreme Leader”, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.


Iran is home to one of the world’s oldest continuous major civilizations, since around 4000 BC. The country was known as Persia until 1935, and its official language is still called Persian. Tehran is the capital of Iran.


Did you know?

Have you read Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, or The Voyages of Sindbad, or Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves? They all come from The Arabian Nights (also known as One Thousand and One Nights) – a collection of stories that include Persian, Arabian, and Indian tales from centuries ago.

Image Credits: http://www.president.ir for President Rouhani’s image, read.gov for The Arabian Nights’ image
Sources: BBC, http://www.pbs.org, http://www.president.ir, https://www.britannica.com, CIA World Factbook

The king secretly flies planes!

The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, recently disclosed a secret. He has been working as a co-pilot on commercial flights for 21 years. He worked for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the national airlines of the Netherlands. He flew planes with passengers twice a month, while the passengers had no idea that royalty was in the cockpit. Here is a video about it.


Willem-Alexander became king in 2013 when his mother stepped down as the queen of the Netherlands to pass on the monarchy to him. King Willem-Alexander was the first male monarch of the Netherlands in over a hundred years. The last Dutch king died in 1890 – it had just been queens ever since. The king is 50 years old and has three daughters. Orange is the color of the Dutch Royal family.


The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four parts within it – Aruba, Curaçao, St Maarten, and the Netherlands. The head of the government of the country is not the monarch, but the prime minister. The current prime minister is Mark Rutte.

The Netherlands 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 things that pop up are tulips, windmills, canals, wooden shoes, cheese, cyclists, and the painter Vincent van Gogh.

Did you know?

If you feel short in the Netherlands, there is a reason. On average, the Dutch are the tallest people in the world.

Image Credits: https://twitter.com/KLM for the image of King Willem-Alexander, https://www.royal-house.nl for the image of King Willem-Alexander and his family.
Sources: CNN, http://www.telegraaf.nl, https://www.royal-house.nl, http://www.telegraph.co.uk, http://www.dutchamsterdam.nl, CIA WorldFactbook

Men’s Ice Hockey World Championship

On May 21, Sweden won the 2017 Men’s Ice Hockey World Championship defeating Canada. It was a very exciting game. The two countries were tied at 1-1, and the game went to overtime. Still a tie, and the game had to go to a shootout. Final score was 2-1.

Sixteen countries participated in the Championship games which were held in Germany and France. The tournament is held annually. Ice hockey is believed to have originated in Canada in the mid-1800s. You can watch Sweden’s march to the gold here.

Image Credits: http://www.iihfworlds2017.com and Andre Ringuette/HHOF for Sweden’s Ice Hockey team image
Sources: http://www.iihfworlds2017.com, http://www.iihf.com

Eurovision Song Contest

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 Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. 42 countries participated. The winning song was “Amar pelos dois”, performed by Salvador Sobral for the country Portugal. This was Portugal’s first win ever. The song was in Portuguese.



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 Portugal.


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

You can watch the winning song and Céline Dion’s winning song here.


Did you know?

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

Did you know?

The website for Eurovision is http://eurovision.tv. The “.tv” is the country Tuvalu’s Internet domain. It was sought by many TV stations across the world. In 2000, Tuvalu’s government leased its .tv domain to an American company in return for money.

Image Credits: https://twitter.com/Eurovision for Sobral’d image, https://eurovision.tv for Eurovision’s logo image, AVRO for ABBA’s image
Sources: https://eurovision.tv, https://twitter.com/Eurovision, http://www.xpats.com, http://metro.co.uk

Cleaning up the Pacific

The Dutch foundation, The Ocean Cleanup, recently announced that it will start cleaning plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch within the next one year. The foundation estimates that within 5 years, it will cleanup half of the patch. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch refers to debris (such as small pieces of floating plastic) in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the Californian coast. The debris is spread over huge surface areas and is constantly moving with the ocean water. Here is a video with more information about the Garbage Patch.


Image Credits: https://marinedebris.noaa.gov for the image of the  Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Sources: https://www.theoceancleanup.com, https://marinedebris.noaa.gov

A bit more news

Japan’s Princess Mako is planning 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.


After 146 years, the American circus company the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus came to a close on May 21. The company shut down because it wasn’t making enough money to support the business. There was also a lot of pressure from animal rights groups to stop using animals as performers. The circus was known as the “Greatest Show on Earth”.


Remember the song “Gangnam Style” sung by the K-pop (Korean pop) star PSY? Well, PSY has a new song out called “I Luv It”.




The prestigious American university, Harvard, accepted a rap album as a student’s thesis in the English undergraduate program. Obasi Shaw graduated with honors.

Here is a little clip with the American Declaration of Independence from Shaw’s thesis, along with 4 videos. The first is about Princess Mako. The second is about the Ringling Bros. The third is PSY’s new song. The last is about how the Internet works.





Image Credits: KoreaNet for the image of PSY, Monadaisuki for the image of Princess Mako, https://soundcloud.com for the image of Obasi Shaw, https://www.ringling.com for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus logo
Sources: mashable.com, People Magazine, Behind the News, http://news.harvard.edu, https://soundcloud.com, https://www.ringling.com, CNN

Elections in France

Presidential elections were held in France on May 7. Emmanuel Macron won and will become France’s next president. He is 39 years old, which will make him the nation’s youngest president ever. Macron was France’s Economy Minister, and an investment banker before that.


The capital of France, Paris, is one of the most visited cities in the world. The Eiffel Tower in Paris is one of the most visited monuments in the world. A fun event took place at the Eiffel Tower on March 16. A race, called Verticale de la Tour Eiffel, was held to the top. The runners had to go up 1,665 steps. The winner climbed up in 7 minutes and 54 seconds.



The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889. It took 2 years, 2 months, and 5 days to construct it. The Tower is named after Gustave Eiffel, the person who helped design the tower. It is 324 m (1,063 ft) tall, and it was the tallest man-made structure in the world for 41 years. The Chrysler Building in New York, USA stole the title in 1930.



Initially, many Parisians were unhappy with the Eiffel Tower, since they thought it ruined the beauty of their city. There is also a story of a French writer, Guy de Maupassant, who regularly ate at a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. When asked why, he said that it was the one place in Paris from where he couldn’t see the Eiffel Tower! The Tower was also used in the early 1900s to transmit military radio signals.

Here is a video about the Eiffel Tower and Macron.

Did you know?

The Statue of Liberty in New York, USA, was a gift from France to the United States. The steel frame of the statue was built by Gustave Eiffel.
Image Credits: http://www.gouvernement.fr for Macron’s image, http://verticaletoureiffel.fr for Eiffel Tower’s image, http://www.gettyimages.co.uk for Eiffel’s image, Benh LIEU SONG for the image of the Eiffel Tower
Sources: CNN, http://verticaletoureiffel.fr, history.com, https://skyscrapercenter.com, http://www.telegraph.co.uk

2017 World Snooker Championship

Mark Selby (from the United Kingdom) won the 2017 World Snooker Championship by defeating John Higgins (also from the United Kingdom). 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”!

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

A new president in South Korea

South Koreans have elected Moon Jae-in as their next president. One of his campaign promises is to resume friendly talks with North Korea. He has also promised to create more jobs. He is a former human rights lawyer. His parents were refugees from North Korea.

The previous president Park Geun-hye was removed from office in March. She was accused of giving classified information to her friend, who used the information to meddle in government affairs and get money from businesses. Park is currently in prison awaiting trial.


North and South Korea have not been getting along in recent times. The two nations were part of a single country called Korea for over four thousand years. 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. After the two countries were created, North Korea attacked South Korea in 1950, starting the three year Korean war. After the war ended, the border between North and South Korea became the most guarded border in the world, and the two countries have evolved very differently from each other.

North Korea has been led by people from the same family since it was founded. Kim Jong-un is the current leader, and his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, and father, Kim Jong-il, were the leaders before him. The North Korean government very strictly controls many aspects of its citizens’ lives.vThere isn’t much communication between North Korea and the rest of the world.

Here is a video about Moon and another about the zone that separates the two Koreas.

Image Credits: http://www.korea.net for Moon’s image, m.blog.daum.net for the 38th parallel image, http://www.korea-dpr.com for Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il image
Sources: BBC, CNN, history.com, http://www.korea.net, NowThis