Our Little Earth – April 11, 2008

April 11, 2008
Our Little Earth
The Electronic Newspaper for Kids
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Zimbabwe holds elections

Fig One On March 29th, the people of Zimbabwe voted to elect their next president. All the votes have been counted but the winner still has not been declared! The two main candidates running for president are the current president, Robert Mugabe, and Morgan Tsvangirai. Mugabe claims that many votes need to be counted again. Tsvangirai says it’s been almost two weeks and there is no reason for not declaring the election results. He has appealed to Zimbabwe’s High Court to force the results to be released. The case is currently in progress.

Zimbabwe is a country in southern Africa. It used to be a British colony called Southern Rhodesia. In 1965, it declared independence from Britain and changed the name to just Rhodesia. In 1980, free elections were held, and the country was named Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe became its first leader and has been for the last 28 years! Zimbabwe gets its name from “Great Zimbabwe”, one of the largest ruins in Africa. Great Zimbabwe was built for over 300 years starting around 11th century A.D. It is a complex of stone buildings that covers an area of approximately 3 square miles (7 square km).  One amazing fact is that no mortar was used to stick the stone blocks together – they were simply laid one on top of the other. Zimbabwe is also famous for its animals, especially its herds of elephants, the world’s largest living land mammals.

Cyprus celebrates

Fig Two Ledra Street, one of the main shopping streets in Nicosia, Cyprus’ capital city, was opened up on April 3rd. This fact caused a lot of celebration among Cypriots (which is what the people of Cyprus are called). But it wasn’t because they could now shop there! Let’s look at the real reason.

Cyprus is an island country close to Greece and Turkey. Over the centuries, it has been ruled by many people: Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, British. It was a British colony until 1960. The majority of citizens of Cyprus are of Greek origin followed by Turkish origin. These two communities have had their differences over the years, but things got out of hand in the 1960s. The United Nations, an international peace organization, had to intervene and had to physically separate the two groups. This is when the permanent partition was put across Ledra street to separate the Greek Cypriots from the Turk Cypriots. A few years later, the partition was extended across the country and is known as the Green Line. Therefore, breaking down the partition on Ledra Street 44 years after it was put there is a big step for the people of Cyprus to become a united country.

Cyprus is said to be the birthplace of the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. The story says that she could make any man fall in love with her by just looking at her. She has inspired many famous paintings, statues, music compositions, movies, and even has an asteroid named after her! One of the world’s oldest named wine that has been in continuous production till today is from Cyprus – it is called Commandaria.

Earth Hour celebrated

Fig Three- From 8pm to 9pm on March 29th, millions of lights and electrical appliances stopped working all around the globe! A huge power failure? No. These were all turned off on purpose to celebrate Earth Hour.

Earth Hour is an annual event where people, businesses, and cities are urged to turn off as many lights and electrical gadgets as they can. While this saves electricity, the bigger goal is to create awareness in people about simple changes they can make in their lifestyles to help our planet. The Earth has gotten warmer over the last 100 years by about 1 degree Fahrenheit (we call this “global warming”). This could be something that the Earth is naturally doing, but many scientists believe that the Earth has gotten warmer because of our activities. One big contributor to global warming is coal-fired electricity. By reducing the amount of electricity we use, we can try to prevent heating up our planet even more.

Several hundred cities took part in this year’s Earth Hour. Many famous landmarks had their lights dimmed – the Opera House in Sydney, Australia; the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA; the Coliseum in Rome, Italy; the City Hall in London, UK. Also, note that the Golden Gate Bridge’s lights were dimmed 17 hours after the Opera House’s lights – because of the different time zones Syndey and San Francisco are in.

If you missed participating in this year’s Earth Hour, look out for it next year!

Let’s visit Victoria Falls, located on the Zambezi river between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe (they love the letter “Z” there, don’t they?).

Victoria Falls is considered to be the largest curtain of falling water in the world. It’s about 1.7 km (1 mile) wide and 108 meters (360 feet) high. Are you wondering how big that is? Imagine a wall of water that is about as high and wide as 20 soccer fields lined next to each other! That’s a lot of water!

The local people call the falls “Mosi-oa-Tunya” – “the smoke that thunders”, since the falling water makes a very loud sound and the spray from the water rises very high above the falls and looks like smoke. A very popular activity is bungee jumping from a bridge in front of the falls – it’s like jumping off a 25 storey building!

One of the highest bungee jumps that is regularly in operation is from Macau Tower, China (233 meters or 760ft) – that’s approximately 50 stories high!
The oldest known recorded human voice was recorded in 1860 (that’s almost 150 years ago) – a woman singing a 10 second clip of a French folk song. You can hear it here: http://www.firstsounds.org/sounds/1860-Scott-Au-Clair-de-la-Lune.mp3. It was heard for the first time ever just this last month!
Hickory Dickory Dock,
An elephant ran up the clock.
The clock is being repaired!
There’s a bucket of wine and a bucket of water of the same size. You transfer a cup of wine to the water bucket, and then a cup of the mixture back to the wine bucket. Is there more wine in the water or water in the wine?
You are in a dark room with a candle, a wood stove, and a gas lamp. You only have one match. What should you light first?
Puzzle from last edition: The letters of my name can be rearranged to spell “Employs magic”. What am I?
“Olympic Games”.
Puzzle from last edition: The blanks in the following sentences will be filled in with three different words that are spelled differently but sound alike. Can you fill in the blanks?
:”The wound on his _ _ _ _  won’t _ _ _ _ in time for the relay race, so _ _ ‘_ _ have to drop out.”
“heel”, “heal” and “he’ll”!
Credits: VirtualTourist for Zimbabwe elephant crossing sign; Animation Factory for light bulb animation; Q2 Travel for Victoria Falls photo.
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