Our Little Earth – November 9, 2007

November 9, 2007
Our Little Earth
The Electronic Newspaper for Kids
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WHAT’S GOING ON
A husband steps down, a wife steps in

Kirchner picture On Oct 29, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner won the presidential election in Argentina and will become its next president on December 10th. The current president, Néstor Kirchner, is her husband and has decided to step down. Cristina, born in 1953, studied to be a lawyer and has been a senator. Cristina and Néstor met while they were in law school.

Argentina was a Spanish colony until 1816. When the first Spanish voyagers arrived in this part of the world, the locals gave them gifts of silver. That’s how Argentina got its name – from “Argentum”, the Latin word for silver.

Argentina is a very educated nation – almost 97% of its population over the age of 15 can read and write. Argentina has both the highest and lowest points in all of South America. It was also the place that produced the first animated feature film – El Apostol – in 1917, using 58,000 drawings.

The capital of Argentina is Buenos Aires, which is also home to a slang called Lunfardo. A slang is a kind of language where one uses playful words instead of regular ones. Lunfardo often uses the syllables of words in reverse, so as to confuse listeners who don’t know it. For example, “gomia” means “amigo” (friend), “zapi” is “pizza”, and “feca” is “café” (coffee). So if we tried something similar, can you guess what “lasku kavarhom” might mean?

Emergency in Pakistan

Musharraf picture On Nov 3, General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan and the Chief of the Pakistani Army, declared a state of emergency in Pakistan. This was because he really had to go to the bathroom. Sorry, just kidding – it wasn’t that kind of emergency . This state of emergency is actually something very serious – it means that people living in Pakistan lose most of their “fundamental rights”. These rights are granted by the constitution and enforced by the legal system. But General Musharraf has suspended the constitution and also fired many of the Supreme Court judges. All private TV news channels have been stopped as well.

One of the main reasons General Musharraf gave for declaring a state of emergency is to control terrorism in Pakistan which has been getting out of hand. Some people believe that his real reason is to make sure that he continues to be the President of Pakistan. The Supreme Court had started questioning his ability to do that, and that might have led Musharraf to take these steps.

There are several protests against this in and outside Pakistan, and leaders of other countries are trying to convince General Musharraf to bring things back to normal.

Pakistan was created in 1947 – it was a part of British-ruled India before then. It’s capital is Islamabad and the language spoken is Urdu. One interesting fact about Pakistan is that they produce excellent squash players – at one point, they won the prestigious British open championship for 16 years in a row!

The world’s biggest company

Oil Rig picture On November 5, PetroChina (a China-based company) passed Exxon-Mobil (a U.S.-based company) to become the world’s biggest company. PetroChina produces oil and gas and is the world’s first company to be worth more than 1 trillion US dollars – that’s 1 followed by 12 zeroes! One way to think about it is that PetroChina is worth more than everything produced by Australia!

Some of the world’s largest companies today are in China: Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (the world’s largest bank), China Life (the world’s largest life insurance company), China Air (the world’s largest airlines), and China Mobile (the world’s largest telecom company). In fact, China Mobile has almost 350 million users which is more than the entire population of the United States! China also supplies over 70 per cent of the world’s toys.

China has the largest population in the world with more than 1.3 billion people. That is more than the population of Europe, Canada, United States, and Australia all combined! Chinese Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world. To say “hello” in Mandarin, say “Ni hao”!

SOMETHING FAMOUS
Evita album cover

Hear Evita, a famous musical that has been performed all across the world for over thirty years.

Evita is based on the story of Eva Peron, the wife of Argentinean dictator, Juan Peron. Eva was also affectionately called Evita, and hence the name of the musical. Eva was born in 1919 into a poor family. She became a radio and stage performer. After Eva married Juan, she became very involved with politics and went on to become a very powerful and influential figure in Argentina.

The music to Evita, the musical, was created by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the lyrics (the words to the songs) were written by Tim Rice. The songs became quite famous – there are now more than 50 different recordings in over 15 languages. The song “Don’t cry for me Argentina” became a huge hit – you can hear it here). Evita won many awards, and was also made into a movie, where Madonna played the lead role of Eva Peron.

DID YOU KNOW
Fortune cookies, which are often served with Chinese food, were actually invented in a place rather far from China – California, USA!
In just one day, the average human blinks 17,280 times a day. So are you above or below average? Find out by counting how many times you blink in a minute, and then multiplying that by the number of minutes in a day (making sure you don’t count the time that you are asleep!).
FUNNY BONE
The child comes home from his first day at school.
His Mother asks, “Well, what did you learn today?”
The kid replies, “Not enough. They want me to come back tomorrow.”
GO FIGURE
8 + 8 = 91. That doesn’t sound right, does it? But there is one way you can make it correct without changing it – can you guess how?
I am mentioned in this newsletter. The letters of my name can be rearranged to spell “Pain Task”. What am I?
FIGURED OUT
Puzzle from last edition: This puzzle was found on an Egyptian scroll almost 3650 years old. Let’s see if you can match wits with the ancients!

As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven wives.
Every wife had seven sacks,
and every sack had seven cats.
Every cat had seven kits.
Kits, cats, sacks, and wives -
How many were going to St. Ives?

Solution: One. Only I was going to St. Ives. The rest were going in the opposite direction.

Note: One could argue for different answers for this puzzle. You can find a detailed analysis here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As_I_Was_Going_to_St_Ives.

Puzzle from last edition: I am mentioned in this newsletter. The letters of my name can spell “Lean and solemn”. Who am I?

Solution: Nelson Mandela

ETCETERA
Credits: Presidency of Argentina web site for Kirchner image, United States Institute for Peace for President Musharraf image, Gifmania for Oil Rig animated image, The Really Useful Group for the Evita image.
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