Destruction of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri

An 800-year-old mosque in Mosul, Iraq has been destoryed. The Iraqi government blames the organization Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS) for the destruction of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri. The IS says that a United States airstrike blew it up, but the U.S. says it had nothing to do with it.

The IS took control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, in 2014. Since 2016, the Iraqi troops have been trying to get the city back.


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.

Here is a video about this story.

Image Credits: Faisal Jeber for the mosque’s image, The Independent for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s image
Sources: CNN, Newsy, Reuters

Puerto Ricans vote

A 51st state of the United States? Puerto Ricans recently voted for whether their island should become the 51st state of the United States, become an independent nation, or continue as a territory of the United States. 97% of the voters selected becoming a state of the US. However, out of the people who were eligible to vote, only 23% voted. This is the 5th time Puerto Rico has held such a vote. The government of the United States will make the decision on what to do with the result of this vote.

Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since 1898. It was a Spanish colony for about 400 years before that. Residents of Puerto Rico are citizens of the United States. However, they do not vote in the elections for selecting the president of the United States.

Here is a video about this story.

Image Credits: CIA World Factbook for the map image of Puerto Rico, CIA World Factbook for the image of San Juan, Puerto Rico
Sources: Newsy, Yahoo News, CIA World Factbook

World record for the largest haka

About 7,700 people recently gathered in a town in New Zealand to break the world record for the largest haka. The last world record was set in 2014 with 4,028 participants. Haka is a traditional ceremonial war dance of the indigenous people of New Zealand. It will take a few months to verify that the record was set.

New Zealand’s rugby team, the All Blacks, have a tradition of performing the haka before every match. Here is a video showing the record attempt, and another showing the All Black team performing the haka.


Image Credits: for the haka dance image

A new crown prince

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman (image) has assigned a new person as his successor. The crown prince (the next person to get the throne) was his nephew. Now he has changed it to his 31-year-old son Mohammed bin Salman.



The country is a monarchy, where the leader of the country is the king. The king is not elected by the people. Instead, the role is passed on within the same family. Various tribes ruled the area that is today called Saudi Arabia. Abdulaziz Al-Saud (image) conquered and united the tribes and formed the modern nation of Saudi Arabia in 1932. He became the first king and was the king until his death in 1953. He is believed to have had over 30 sons and about 20 wives. All the kings after him have been his sons, including the current king. This will change when the crown prince becomes king.

Saudi Arabia is a desert country. It has no permanent rivers or lakes. The capital is Riyadh and the official language is Arabic.




Image Credits:  U.S. military or Department of Defense for the image of King Salman
Sources: New York TImes,,,

Panama breaks off ties with Taiwan

Panama broke off all official ties with Taiwan and established a diplomatic relationship with the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It recognizes Taiwan as a part of China. Now there are only 20 nations (image below) left who have official diplomatic ties with Taiwan.



Taiwan is an island at a distance of about 100 miles (160 km) from mainland China. The status of Taiwan is a controversy. In the 1940s, there were two main political parties in China – the Nationalists and the Communists. Most of the country was controlled by the Nationalist Party, but the Communists were growing stronger. Soon after World War II, there was a civil war in China and the Nationalists were pushed out. In 1949, they fled to Taiwan and created a government there, calling themselves the Republic of China (ROC). The Communists, in the meantime, took control of mainland China and called it the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Thus, two different parties claimed to be the official government of China. For over 20 years, the United Nations recognized the ROC as the government of China but switched to the PRC in 1971.


Today, Taiwan has its own government and runs its own economy. China considers Taiwan to be a part of itself. Many countries agree with this but still do business with Taiwan as if it is a separate nation. Many Taiwanese want Taiwan to be an independent country.

Image Credits: for the image of the 20 nations with diplomatic ties with Taiwan. for the map of Taiwan
Sources:,,,,,, NowThis,

2017 French Open

The 2017 French Open, a world famous tennis tournament, took place from May 28 to June 11 in Paris, the capital of France. Jelena Ostapenko (from Latvia) beat Simona Halep (from Romania) to win the women’s singles title.



Rafael Nadal (from Spain) beat Stan Wawrinka (from Switzerland) to win the men’s singles title. This is the 10th time Nadal has won the French Open. The French Open is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments (the other three are the Australian Open, the US Open, and Wimbledon). It is played on clay-top courts.


The French Open is also referred to as “Roland Garros”. It is named after Roland Garros (image), a Frenchman who was the first person to fly a plane across the Mediterranean Sea without stopping. He did this on September 23, 1913.

Here is a video showing Nadal’s 10 wins, and here is another video showing highlights from the women’s final.

Image Credits: for Garros’ image, Christopher Johnson (globalite) for Nadal’s image, si.robi for Ostapenko’s image

A bit more news

The President of Vanuatu, Baldwin Lonsdale, passed away due to a sudden heart attack on June 17. The next president is expected to be selected in July. People from Vanuatu are called “ ni-Vanuatu”.  The country is made up of more than 80 islands. Port Vila is its capital.

On June 12, Alain Robert, a 54-year-old French man, climbed the walls to the top of the Melia Barcelona Sky Hotel (Spain) without a safety harness. The hotel is 380 feet (116 meters) high, and it took him 20 minutes to get to the top. Robert has climbed over 130 buildings and structures. Some of them are the Eiffel Tower (France), Empire State Building (USA), and Burj Khalifa (United Arab Emirates) – the tallest building on Earth. Can you guess his nickname? It’s “Spiderman”!

The American rapper, Jay Z, has changed his name. It’s now all caps and there is a hyphen: JAY-Z. When he was born, he was named Shawn Corey Carter.




A new museum has opened in Helsingborg, Sweden. It’s the “Museum of Failure”. The museum showcases inventions that have flopped. Here is a quote from Thomas A. Edison: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Here are 2 videos – the first showing Robert’s climb, and the second about the museum.


Image Credits: for Robert’s image, Joella Marano from Manhattan, NY for the image of JAY-Z, for its logo
Sources:, CIA World Factbook, EuroNews, Guinness World Records,,,,

Some countries cut off ties with Qatar

On June 5, a bunch of nations, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt, cut off ties with Qatar. They claim Qatar supports terrorist groups. Qatar, however, denies this.

All flights between Qatar and these nations have been cancelled. Not only flights, but sea and land travel to and from Qatar has been banned. Trade has been suspended. Qatari citizens living in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have been given 2 weeks to go back to their country.

One of the biggest impacts on Qatar with these bans is its food supply. Most of the country’s food is imported, and about 40% of it comes from Saudi Arabia.

Qatar is a small nation. It is a monarchy ruled by the Al Thani family. The current leader is Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. Its population is 2.3 million (that is about 1/4th the population of London, the capital of the United Kingdom).

Qatar is very rich in oil and gas. Its GDP per capita is one of the highest in the world. The GDP of a country is the total value of all the products and services that are produced by the companies and the people of that country over a year, and the per capita GDP is the GDP per person. Qatar’s official language is Arabic and its capital is Doha (image).

Here is a video with more on this story.

Did you know?

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to be held in Qatar.

Image Credits: for the image of Doha skyline, for the Emir’s image
Sources: CNN, CIA World Factbook, Newsy, Now This,

G-7 Summit

The G-7 summit was held in Sicily, Italy on 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 discussed at the summit were terrorism, climate change, gender equality, trade, and global economy.

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.

Image Credits: for all the G-7 Summit images