Ban removed on headscarves in Turkey

Turkey removes its last ban on wearing the Muslim headscarves (known as hijab) in public institutions. Women working in the military were not allowed to wear headscarves, and this rule has now been lifted. In the 1980s, a ban was placed on women from wearing headscarves in public institutions. Women in the army, police, universities, courtrooms, and schools were not allowed to wear them. Permission to wear headscarves was given to women on university campuses in 2011, women in civil services in 2013, and to female police officers in 2016.

Over 99% of the Turkish people are Muslims. However, Turkey is a secular country, meaning Turkey does not support or oppose any religion. The modern country of Turkey was founded in 1923.  Before that, Turkey was part of the Ottoman Empire, which was one of the largest empires in the world. It lasted for over 600 years, and fell at the end of World War I.

Ankara is Turkey’s capital and Istanbul is its largest city. A landmark of Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia (image), a building that has served as a church and mosque for hundreds of years each.

Image Credits: Omar David Sandoval Sida for Hagia Sofia’s image, Hijab salon make up for the image of the lady in hijab
Sources: New York Times, BBC,, CIA World Factbook,

No more hitting kids in Lithuania and Zimbabwe

In February, Lithuania placed a ban on any form of violence against children. The High Court of Zimbabwe recently ruled that kids cannot be beaten. (The rule still has to be approved by Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court.) Many teachers and parents in the world use corporal punishment for disciplining children. These methods (such as spanking and hitting with an object) cause physical pain to the kids. According to the organization the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, there are 52 nations that have banned all corporal punishment of children, with Sweden being the first in 1979. Here is an interactive map that shows each nation’s stand on corporal punishment for kids.

Image Credits: for its logo

Oscars 2017

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, were held on February 26. They are one of the world’s most famous movie awards and are held annually in Los Angeles, U.S.A. The movie ‘Moonlight’ won the Best Picture award. The Best Actress in a Leading Role award went to  Emma Stone for her role in the movie ‘La La Land’. The Best Actor in a Leading Role award went to Casey Affleck for his role in the movie ‘Manchester by the Sea’. The Best Animated Feature Film award was won by ‘Zootopia’. You can see the other winners here.


There were some mix-ups at this year’s ceremony. The Best Picture was first awarded to the wrong film ‘La La Land’. Also, while remembering famous artists who died this past year, the Australian costume designer Janet Patterson was mentioned. However, the photograph shown was of another person who is very much alive.


The first Oscars were held in 1929. The winners at the Awards are given an “Oscar”, a 13½ inches tall statuette of a knight on a reel of film holding a sword. It is unclear how the nickname came about, but one popular story is that a librarian who worked for the Academy mentioned that the statuette looked like her Uncle Oscar.

Did you know?

The Razzie Awards, also known as the Golden Raspberry Awards, were held a day before the Oscars in Los Angeles. These are considered to be an “Academy Awards spoof”. Oscars celebrate the best in films, whereas Razzies pick the worst. The worst picture award went to ‘Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party’.

Image Credits: for the Razzies’ image, for the Oscars’ images, for Moonlight’s image

Festivals around the globe

People around the globe took part in various annual festivals and carnivals. One of the world’s most famous street festivals took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Rio Carnival is famous for its fancy floats, dazzling costumes, and samba dances (a Brazilian style of dance). Another big festival was held in the town of Ivrea in Italy. A highlight of this festival is a big food fight where people throw oranges at each other. In the town of Galaxidi, Greece, people had a battle with colored flour called the “Flour War”.

Mardi Gras, a famous street party, took place in New Orleans, USA. During Mardi Gras, people wear fancy costumes and take part in parades. Many people in Venice, Italy celebrated at the Carnival of Venice. People wear very elaborate masks. In the city of Menton in France, the Fête du Citron took place. It is a festival of citrus. Giant designs made up of lemons and oranges are on display. Parades take place with large floats.

Here is a video with some scenes from the Rio Carnival and another from the Flour War.

Image Credits: for the lemon structure image, for the image of the Ivrea festival image

A bit more news

A fun train event just took place for folks into game development. It was called the Train Jam. Folks boarded a train in Illinois, USA on February 23, and about 50 hours later, they reached California, USA. On the train, they worked together developing games and learning from each other.

The Berlin International Film Festival ended on February 18 in Berlin, the capital of Germany. The best film award called the “Golden Bear” was won by the Hungarian movie ‘On Body and Soul’.

An 8th continent? Some scientists believe that New Zealand, New Caledonia, and other islands near them should be reclassified as being part of their own continent. They are calling the 8th continent Zealandia.



The city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is planning to start running Autonomous Aerial Vehicles later this year. These vehicles will basically be drone taxis that fly humans from one place to the other.


Scientists have discovered seven Earth-sized planets orbiting around a single star called TRAPPIST-1.

Here are videos about Zealandia, the drone taxi, and TRAPPIST-1.




Image Credits: for the Train Jam image, for Zealandia’s image, for the Autonomous Aerial Vehicle’s image,  NASA/JPL-Caltech for the TRAPPIST-1 image, for its logo
Sources:, USA Today,,, NASA,

Somalia has a new president

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has been elected as Somalia’s new president by the country’s parliament. He was a former prime minister of the country (2010 to 2011). His nickname is Farmajo, which comes from the Italian word formaggio for cheese. He has dual Somali-American citizenship. The members of parliament who elected the president were also recently elected. They were chosen by some respected elders in the country. The elections were held at an airport complex in the country’s capital Mogadishu. The area is considered the safest and most secure place in Somalia. It is guarded by many troops.

Somalia has had an ongoing civil war, and has not had an effective government for over 25 years. The country was created by joining two territories governed by the United Kingdom and Italy in 1960. In 1991, the different clans in Somalia overthrew the government of the country that had ruled for over 20 years. Different groups started fighting to gain control. In 2004, a government was put in place in Somalia with help from the international community. There have been multiple presidents, but Somalia’s government has not been able to get control over the whole nation. Parts of southern Somalia are controlled by a group called al-Shabab. This group is a big threat to the government of Somalia.

War is not the only thing Somalia has suffered. There have been serious food shortages in the country caused by droughts.

Did you know?

Somalia is part of a region called “Horn of Africa”.

Image Credits: AMISOM Photo/Ilyas Ahmed for Mohamed’s image
Sources:, CIA World Factbook

New words in the Merriam Webster Dictionary

More than one thousand new words have been added to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. Some of the new words are “binge-watch” (to watch many or all episodes of a TV series in rapid succession), “face-palm” (to cover one’s face with the hand as an expression of embarrassment), ”ghost” (to abruptly cut off all contact with someone by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages, etc.), “yowza” (used to express surprise or amazement), “Seussian” (of, relating to, or suggestive of the works of Dr. Seuss), and “woo–woo” (dubiously or outlandishly mystical, supernatural, or unscientific). Here is a video about the new words and another video about Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s word of the year for 2016.


Image Credits: for Merriam Webster’s logo

Africa Cup of Nations 2017

Cameroon defeated Egypt 2-1 to win the Africa Cup of Nations 2017, a soccer tournament amongst countries in the African continent. It was a gripping final. With a score of 1-1, it looked like the match would go into extra time. However, with two minutes left, Cameroon scored the winning goal. The tournament was held in Gabon, and sixteen countries participated. The Africa Cup of Nations is held every two years on odd-numbered years.

There is another soccer tournament held every two years in Africa. It’s called the African Nations Championship, and it is held on even-numbered years.

Image Credits: for the Cameroon team’s image

Ban on Valentine’s Day celebrations

On February 13, the High Court in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad put out a ban on Valentine’s Day celebrations in public areas across the country. The reasoning is that Valentine’s Day is not part of Pakistani culture. There have been protests by various groups in the country in the past against Valentine’s Day celebrations.

Some organizations in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, and Saudi Arabia asked their citizens not to celebrate Valentine’s Day because it is not part of their culture.

Valentine’s Day is a holiday celebrated on February 14. It is considered to be a day to express affection for the people you care for. Folks exchange cards, chocolates, flowers, balloons, and other gifts with their loved ones.

Islam is the official religion of Pakistan, with over 96% of all citizens being Muslims. The Urdu language, which is the national language of the nation, is written from right to left (unlike English). yad ecin a evah! (Get it? Try reading it like you would Urdu – right to left).

Here is a video about Valentine’s Day.


Image Credits: Chordboard for the Valentine’s Day image, for the red heart balloon image
Sources:, CIA World Factbook,

Grammy Awards

The Grammy Awards, considered very prestigious in the music industry, were held on February 12 in Los Angeles, USA. The “Song of the Year” award went to “Hello”, by Adele Adkins & Greg Kurstin. The “Album of the Year” award went to “25″, by Adele. The “Record of the Year” award went to “Hello” by Adele. Adele won a total of 5 awards. “Grammy” is short for “gramophone”, and the trophy that is awarded is in the shape of a gramophone. Many more awards were given out. You can see the winners here. You can watch the video of “Hello” here.


Image Credits: gghead06 for Adele’s image
Sources:, VEVO