Morocco is part of the African Union

Morocco has been admitted as a member of the African Union (AU). The AU is an organization comprising of nations on the African continent. The vision of the organization is to have “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa”. The AU was established in 2002, and it came out of another organization called the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Morocco used to be part of the OAU, and withdrew from it in 1984. It withdrew because the OAU recognized “Western Sahara” as its own independent territory. Western Sahara is an area on the north-west coast of Africa which Morocco claims as its own. It is still a disputed territory. Now, with Morocco back in, the total count of members of the AU is 55 (with Western Sahara continuing to be a member).

Here is a video about the African Union.

 

Image Credits: https://au.int for the flag image
Sources: http://www.aljazeera.com, http://www.un.org, https://au.int

Toilets in Japan

Phew, using toilets in Japan will become a whole lot simpler! An association of toilet makers in Japan has decided that toilets manufactured this year onwards will all have the same symbols on the control panels. The pictograms on the toilet buttons tells a person what the toilet will do if the button is pressed. However, the various manufacturers had their own unique symbols. Now there is a standardized set of 8 pictograms. You can see them in the image. Clockwise from the top left side, their meaning is – big flush, small flush, lid raise, seat raise, fan, front spray, rear spray and stop.

 

Image Credits: http://www.sanitary-net.com for the toilet sign images
Sources: http://www.sanitary-net.com, The Japan Times

Worst passwords of 2016

SplashData, a company based in the United States, publishes a list every year of the “worst” passwords. These passwords are terrible because they are the most leaked passwords on the Internet. SplashData recently published its list for 2016, and the worst of all the bad passwords was “123456” followed by “password”, “12345”,“12345678”, “football”, “qwerty”, and “1234567890”. The next time you have to select a password, make sure it’s not one of the above!

 

Image Credits: https://www.teamsid.com for the Worst Passwords of 2016 image
Sources: https://www.teamsid.com

2017 Australian Open

The 2017 Australian Open, a world-famous tennis tournament, took place from January 16 to 29 in Melbourne, Australia. Roger Federer (from Switzerland) beat Rafael Nadal (from Spain) to win the men’s singles title. This was his 5th Australian Open title. The women’s singles winner was Serena Williams (from USA). She beat her sister Venus Williams. This was Serena’s 7th Australian Open title.
The Australian Open is held every January and is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments (the other three are the French Open, US Open, and Wimbledon).

 

Federer and Serena Williams are both 35-years old, which is considered “old” in the realm of the tennis world. Federer has the most Grand Slam titles in men’s singles tennis (he has 18) and Williams has the most in women’s (she has 23) in the open era of tennis. The “open era” began in 1968 when the Grand Slam tournaments allowed professional tennis players to compete with amateurs.

Here is a joke:
Why should you never fall in love with a tennis player?
To them, “Love” means nothing.

Did you know?

Australia is the 6th largest nation in the world (by area).

Sources: http://www.ausopen.com/index.html, http://www.nationsonline.org
Image Credits: Edwin Martinez for Williams’ image, http://www.ausopen.com/index.html for Federer’s image

Some fun videos

The American space agency, NASA, put out a video on what it would be like to land on Pluto. Pluto used to be called a planet, but was reclassified in 2006 as a “dwarf planet”. Here are three videos: the first is about landing on Pluto, the second is about one of the most difficult words to translate, and the last is about fake news.



 

Image Credits: NASA for the Pluto image
Sources: NASA, Behind the News, Ted Ed

Miss Universe 2016

The Miss Universe 2016 competition was held in the Philippines on January 30, and had women from over 85 countries and territories competing for the crown. Miss France, Iris Mittenaere, won the title. Miss Universe is an annual beauty contest for women that has contestants from around the globe. The contest was started in the United States by a clothing company in 1952.

 

 

Image Credits: https://www.facebook.com/iris.missfrance for Miss Universe’s image
Sources: https://www.missuniverse.com, http://www.businessinsider.com

The Gambian President

Senegalese troops have entered The Gambia. Senegal is not at war with The Gambia. The troops are there to help the new president take on his role as president.

Presidential elections were held in The Gambia last year. Adama Barrow (image) defeated the country’s president Yahya Jammeh and won the elections. Jammeh had been the leader of The Gambia for 22 years, and he rejected the results. He still refuses to step down. Barrow went to The Gambian Embassy in Senegal, and was sworn in as president there. Some African nations, including Senegal and Nigeria, have offered to help Barrow take over as president.

Many Gambians are leaving the country because of fear of fighting breaking out while the two leaders are trying to figure out who will be the president of the nation.

The Gambia has a short coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, with the rest surrounded by Senegal. Its capital is Banjul. Here is a video about this news story.

 

Image Credits: SULAIMAN LEIGH for Barrow’s image
Sources: New York Times

Wealth of 8 equals wealth of half of the world

According to the international organization Oxfam, the world’s richest 8 people have as much wealth as the world’s poorest 3.6 billion people (which is half of Earth’s population). These 8 people are Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Amancio Ortega, Larry Ellison, and Michael Bloomberg. Together they are worth US$426 billion. That is $426,000,000,000!

 

 

Oxfam is urging world leaders to help make our planet a more equal place. The organization points out that the gap between the poor and the rich is getting wider. Last year in January, Oxfam had stated that the world’s richest 62 people had as much wealth as the world’s poorest half.

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is an English idiom. CNN’s image on the left tells this news story in one picture. Here is a video about the eight richest people.

 

Did you know?

In this list of the 8 richest people, there are two (Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg) who went to Harvard University in the United States, and both dropped out of the university.

Image Credits: http://money.cnn.com for the 8 richest men’s image
Sources: https://www.oxfamamerica.org, http://www.independent.co.uk, http://money.cnn.com

Last year was hot!

According to two American government agencies, NASA and NOAA, 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded (record keeping started in 1880). Both these agencies monitor global surface temperatures, amongst other things. According to NASA, the year 2016 was 0.07°C warmer than the previous record breaking hottest year of 2015. Sixteen of the seventeen warmest years that have ever been recorded have all occurred since 2001. Here is a video showing the temperature of our planet over the years, and here is an image that shows the temperature changes.

 

Image Credits: http://www.noaa.gov for the earth temperature image
Sources: http://www.noaa.gov, https://www.nasa.gov, https://public.wmo.int

Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival 2017

 The 33rd Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival is going on in Harbin, China. It started on January 5 and will last for over a month (depending upon the weather). It is one of the largest ice and snow festivals in the world. There are life-sized buildings carved out of ice that are lit up with colorful lights. It looks like a magical land of fairy tales with castles, statues, and ice slides. Harbin is nicknamed “City of Ice”, and there is a good reason for that. The average daily high temperature for the month of January in Harbin is -13 °C (9 °F). Brrr – that’s cold!

Another famous snow festival is about to start in February. It is called the Sapporo Snow Festival and is held annually in Japan.

Did you know?

The world’s first ice hotel was built in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden and is called “ICEHOTEL“. An ice hotel is built every year from ice and snow when it is cold enough. When the weather warms up, the hotel melts away.

Image Credits: Harbin-Ice-Festival-2017-Facebook for the ice festival’s image
Sources: CNN, http://www.icefestivalharbin.com, http://www.icehotel.com, http://www.snowfes.com