United States Embassy opens in Jerusalem

The United States Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel, opened on May 14. The embassy used to be in Tel Aviv and was moved to Jerusalem. May 14 was also a special day for Israel. It was celebrating 70 years of being a nation. In fact, the United States was the first country to recognize Israel as an independent state on May 14, 1948.

The day was also marked with thousands of Palestinians staging protests in the West Bank and Gaza. Some Palestinians along the border of Gaza and Israel threw burned tires and petrol bombs at Israeli soldiers. The soldiers fired back, and about 60 Palestinians were killed and many were injured.

The Palestinian protests were to express unhappiness for the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem. Palestinians consider the eastern part of Jerusalem to be their capital city, while Israelis consider Jerusalem to be theirs. Since the status of East Jerusalem is contested, most countries have their embassies located in Tel Aviv. However, in December last year, the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

For centuries, Jewish Israelis and Arab Palestinians have both lived in the same geographical region. Today, the area is called Israel, but it was previously called Palestine. Since that region is “home” for both sets of people, they have strong disagreements about who should get to live where. In 1947, the United Nations, an international peace organization, proposed splitting the area into two regions – one for the Jews and one for the Palestinians. The Palestinians did not agree with the plan, and fighting broke out. By the time the initial fighting was over, the Jewish people had created a country called Israel in 1948. This was followed by a war between Israel and some Arab countries (Jordan, Egypt, and more). By the time the war ended in 1949, many Palestinian people had fled to two areas. One was called the Gaza Strip (which borders Israel and Egypt) and was under Egyptian control. The other was called the West Bank (which borders Israel and Jordan) and was under Jordan’s control.

In 1967, there was another war between Israel and some Arab countries (including Jordan and Egypt). At the end of the war, which lasted for 6 days, Israel took over both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In the 1990s, agreements were signed by the Palestinian and Israeli leaders giving control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to the Palestinian people. The two areas are referred to as the Palestinian territories.

If you look at a map, you’ll see that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank don’t border each other. The status of these two areas is contested. The Palestinians have been trying to get the rest of the world to recognize the Gaza Strip and West Bank as their independent country, while the Israelis consider the areas as territories under their country.

Image Credits: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov for the map image, https://il.usembassy.gov for the US Embassy sign, Bienchido for Jerusalem’s image, https://palestinett.org for the West Bank-Gaza map
Sources: CNN, BBC, https://il.usembassy.gov, CIA World Factbook

Kellogg pulls out of Venezuela

The American company Kellogg announced that it was closing its factory in Venezuela that employed locals and produced a popular breakfast cereal. The government announced that it was against the law to shut down the factory, and has taken over Kellogg’s operations in the nation. Kellogg had said it was shutting down because of worsening economic conditions in the country.




Kellogg is not the first company to shut down its operations in Venezuela. Kimberly-Clark, Clorox, and General Mills are some of the other companies that have pulled out. Venezuela is facing serious economic problems. There are shortages of basic food items and products. Prices of every-day foods such as eggs are very high. People aren’t able to afford simple nutritious meals. There aren’t enough medicines and toilet paper for people. The public transportation is not reliable. Scheduled buses don’t show up. Some people have been trying to leave the country. There aren’t enough teachers at schools and doctors at hospitals. There are water and power shortages. According to the Washington Post, in the first three months of this year, the country had over 7,000 blackouts.

Image Credits: https://www.kelloggs.com for the Corn Flakes box image
Sources: https://www.reuters.com, Washington Post, https://www.kelloggs.com

New leader in Malaysia

Mahathir Mohamad was sworn in as Malaysia’s new prime minister. He is 92 years old and has been the prime minister before (1981 to 2003). One of his goals is to fight corruption and another is to improve the country’s finances. When he was last prime minister, Malaysia had done well economically.



Malaysia also has a king and his name is Sultan Muhammad V. The King of Malaysia is the head of state and the prime minister is the head of government.

The Petronas Towers are a landmark of Kuala Lumpur, the country’s capital. The Towers are 88-storey high and the outline of the towers resembles the letter “M” for Malaysia.


Did you know?

Mahathir Mohamad has already set a world record. He is now the “oldest current Prime Minister”.

Image Credits: https://www.malaysia.gov.my for the image of Mahathir Mohamad, Dudva for the image of the Petronas Towers
Sources: https://www.petronastwintowers.com.my, http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com, BBC, https://www.straitstimes.com, CIA World Factbook

A new bridge

On May 15, Russian President Vladimir Putin got into a large truck and drove across a new bridge that links the Russian mainland to the Crimean peninsula. The bridge crosses the Kerch Strait and is the longest in Russia with a length of 19 kilometers (12 miles).



Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was not happy about the bridge and called its construction “illegal”. This is because the status of Crimea is currently disputed.

Let’s go back to 2013 when Crimea was not a disputed area and was a part of Ukraine. At that time, many Ukrainians were unhappy with their government because the country’s president wanted stronger ties with Russia, whereas many people wanted stronger ties with other European nations. In February 2014, the pro-Russian president left Ukraine and a temporary government was put in place.

However, the people in Crimea were unhappy about this. Many living in Crimea considered themselves as “Russians”, even though the area was legally part of Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine used to be part of the same nation called the Soviet Union until its split in 1991.

The Russian government sent its troops to Crimea claiming that it is protecting people who consider themselves Russians. In March 2014, Crimea declared itself as part of Russia, and Russia accepted. Ukraine and many nations around the globe called this act illegal. The status today is still the same where both Ukraine and Russia consider Crimea as their land.

A battle fought in 1854 in an area of Crimea called Balaclava led to the names of two types of clothing. The British soldiers, who were fighting the Russians at the time, wore a wool garment on their heads and faces to keep them warm. This is how the ski-mask called balaclava (image) got its name. The other is the cardigan, a sweater that buttons up in the front. In this battle, the troops of one of the British officers named James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, wore such sweaters and the cardigan is named after him.

Did you know?

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was a British lady who became famous because she cared for and treated wounded soldiers during a war based in the Crimea region. She was called “The Lady with the Lamp”, as she would go around at night to check on her patients. Here is a video about her.

Image Credits: http://kremlin.ru for the images of the Crimean bridge and Putin driving the truck, https://www.highways.today and Google.com for the map image, amazon.com for the image of the balaclava
Sources: http://kremlin.ru, New York Times, https://www.express.co.uk

Eurovision Song Contest

The Eurovision Song Contest, an annual singing competition for countries that are active members of the European Broadcasting Union, was recently held. This year, the contest took place in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. Forty-three countries participated. The winning song was “Toy”, performed by Netta for the country Israel. The song was mostly in English.


Eurovision is one of the world’s largest and oldest music competitions. It started in 1956 and has been broadcasted 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 Israel.

Some of Eurovision’s contestants have gone on to become quite famous. ABBA 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.

Did you know?

The website for Eurovision is http://eurovision.tv. The “.tv” is the Internet domain for the country of Tuvalu. It was sought by many TV stations across the world. In 1998, Tuvalu’s government leased its .tv domain to an American company in return for money.

Image Credits: https://eurovision.tv for Eurovision’s logo image
Sources: https://eurovision.tv, https://twitter.com/Eurovision, http://www.xpats.com, http://metro.co.uk, https://abbasite.com/story, www.abc.net.au, http://www.news.com.au

Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Over 40 Ebola cases have been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It’s causing concern in the country. The nation’s government along with some organizations such as the World Health Organization are working to treat the patients and to control the spread of the disease.

Ebola is a very infectious disease and can make people extremely sick. The disease is caused by an infection with one of the Ebola virus species. It can be transmitted to humans from animals that have the virus. The infection can then be passed on from person to person through blood, sweat, and other bodily fluids.

In 2014–2016, some nations in Africa struggled with an Ebola outbreak. The disease had spread rapidly, and the worst affected nations at that time were Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Over 11,000 people died. When the outbreak started, there was no known cure for it and there was no vaccine that could prevent a person from getting the disease.

There is still no proven treatment available for Ebola virus disease. However, doctors have a better understanding of the disease, and there are some known treatments that help people survive the disease. There is also an experimental vaccine that has shown to be highly protective against the Ebola virus.

Image Credits: WHO and S. Hawkey for the vaccine image, WHO for the doctors’ image
Sources: http://www.who.int, https://www.theguardian.com

A bit more news

On May 3, a new zone of the volcano Kilauea on the island of Hawaii, USA, started erupting. On May 17, the volcano had some explosive eruptions spewing ash and smoke into the air. These eruptions have caused damage in the area. Kilauea has been erupting almost continuously for the last 30 years, but not always explosively.


A Japanese rail company issued an apology for a train that did not leave on time on May 11. Japan is a country known for an extremely punctual train service. This train left the Notogawa Station in Shiga Prefecture, at 7:11:35 a.m. instead of 7:12 a.m., a whole 25 seconds early.



Two Nepalese have recently set a world record for the most climbs to the summit of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. Kami Rita set a record for the most climbs by a male with his 22nd climb to the top. Lhakpa Sherpa set a record for the most climbs by a woman with her 9th climb to the top. She broke her own record. Mount Everest sits on the border between Nepal and China and has a height of 8,848 m (29,029 ft).

Swedish meatballs are considered to be a traditional Swedish dish. The Swedish government’s official Twitter account had the following post – “Swedish meatballs are actually based on a recipe King Charles XII brought home from Turkey in the early 18th century.” Many were very surprised with the revelation that the dish has origins in another nation.


About 3,000 people in Sweden have gotten microchips inserted under their skin. It first started in 2015. The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It can be used to unlock doors, to pay bills, and even as train tickets.



There is a debate going on the Internet. There is a clip playing a word where some people hear “yanny” and others hear “laurel”. Which is correct? Here is a video about it and another about the Swedish microchip.


Image Credits: https://twitter.com/swedense for the meatballs image, https://www.usgs.gov for Kilauea’s eruption image, shrimpo1967 and Papa Lima Whiskey 2 for the image of Mount Everest, dinkat for the image of the train
Sources: AsapSCIENCE, https://twitter.com/swedense/status/990223361648275456, https://www.mercurynews.com, https://www.forbes.com , www.thelocal.se, TRT World, https://mashable.com, https://twitter.com/Hawaii_EMA, https://www.usgs.gov, https://www.hindustantimes.com, NPR

Historic North and South Korea meeting

Leaders of South and North Korea met on April 27 in the demilitarized zone between their countries. The two leaders held hands and crossed into North Korea and then into South Korea. They have agreed to work towards having a more peaceful relationship and to officially declare an end to the 1950s Korean War. This was a historic meeting as the two nations have not gotten along in the past.

Both Koreas also took down their loudspeakers at their border. For many years now, South Korea has been blasting Korean-pop music, world news, and other propaganda into North Korea. North Korea has been broadcasting negative messages about the South Korean government while praising its own into South Korea. The North Korean leader also said that his nation will change its clocks to match the time in South Korea. Currently, North Korea is in a time zone that is 30 minutes behind South Korea.

North and South Korea were part of a single country called Korea. 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.

North Korea attacked South Korea in 1950, starting the three-year Korean War. After the war ended, a peace treaty was not signed by the two, and so the countries are technically still at war. 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 (image) is the current leader, and his grandfather and father were the leaders before him. There isn’t much communication between North Korea and the rest of the world. The government very strictly controls many aspects of its citizens’ lives.



South Korea is democratic. The citizens of the country have a very high standard of living, and South Koreans are one of the world’s most hi-tech people. The current president is Moon Jae-in (image).

Korean is the official language of both North and South Korea. The Korean alphabet is called Hangul. A popular Korean food is kimchi, a dish made of pickled vegetables. Taekwondo is a form of martial arts that originates from Korea. Hanbok is a traditional dress of Korea.

Here is a video about this news story.


Image Credits: Yonhap News and Korea.net for the images of the loudspeakers and the Korean leaders shaking hands, 2018 Inter-Korean Summit Press Corps and Korea.net for the images of  Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, Rishabh Tatiraju for the map image of the demilitarized zone, United States federal government for the images of the Korean war
Sources: NPR, Korea.net, https://www.britannica.com, Newsy

A mace gets stolen

Nigeria’s senate was in progress, and some men stormed in, grabbed the ceremonial mace, and ran off with it. The ceremonial mace looks like a club with a heavy head on the end. It plays an important role in Nigeria’s senate. The mace usually lies on a table in front of the senate’s president, and is required to be in place for laws and bills to be passed. Luckily, there was a spare mace and the senate could continue with its work. A day later, the stolen mace was found under a flyover in the capital city of Abuja.

Nigeria got its independence from the British in 1960. It is now the most populous country in Africa (and 7th in the world). The national sport of the country is soccer. Nigerians love the sport so much that they once even stopped an ongoing civil war in 1967 for two days to watch a Brazilian soccer legend, Pelé, play a match. English is the official language, but there are over 500 languages spoken in the country. Many people speak pidgin, which is a mixture of English and native languages. Here are some examples:

How You Dey? – How are you doing today?
I no no – I don’t know
I Wan Chop – I want to eat

Did you know?

The Nigerian film industry is referred to as Nollywood.

Image Credits: onlinenigeria.com for the image of the mace
Sources: Washington Post, https://www.reuters.com, CIA World Factbook, https://matadornetwork.com, https://sites.duke.edu/wcwp

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. People gathered and marched in Istanbul (Turkey), Paris (France), Manila (the Philippines), Seoul (South Korea), Jakarta (Indonesia), and many cities around the globe. Some were protesting for better working conditions, higher salaries, and more jobs. Others were taking a stand against their nation’s government.

On May 1, 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 workday 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, people present their loved ones with flowers. A German tradition is for the people of a village to steal the Maypole of other villages.



Image Credits: http://germanculture.com.ua for the May pole’s image, https://www.workers.org for the image of the sign from 1886, https://banglavision.tv for the fist image
Sources: https://www.express.co.uk, https://www.usatoday.com, https://www.thelocal.fr