February 24, 2012

Beneath the Surface

It's been a great week. Here's the evidence:
Monday we had a holiday for the Presidents.
On Fat Tuesday, we got to party y'all,
It's like every city has their own version of Mardi Gras.

But oh no it isn't all gravy,
Will Israel bomb Iran? I dunno, maybe.
The US and UK say, "Dont,"
But Israel's like "We're gonna do what we want."

Because Iran's working on a nuclear program,
The UN wants to inspect, but they told 'em "No man!"
That's why you've seen the price of gas rising,
We're hoping a solution lies in the horizon.

If you're freestyling on your snowboard,
You better be prepared, keep an airbag stored,
'Cause you could get killed by an avalanche,
So put safety first to be sure you have a chance.

Now you wanna hear something that's awesome?
Guess what researchers in Russia made blossom?
A flower that was 32,000 years old,
It survived under Siberian ice that was cold.

The Supreme Court made a move that was bold,
That may affect how universities are enrolled.
It started from a college student's reaction,
Now we don't know the future of affirmative action.

While in Syria they can't turn the tide,
Two Western journalists and many more have died.
They're dropping bombs on the city of Homs,
And it's harder for the rest of the world to stay calm.

Obama broke ground; did you see him?
For a new National Black History Museum.
Baaayum! Another Flocab hit,
It's The Week in Rap. I gotta go... That's it!

Happy Birthday, George! But what about Abe?

Many of you had a day off on Monday for Presidents Day. Or at least that's what we thought. But it turns out that Presidents Day is listed as Washington's Birthday on the official federal calendar. While most people think that Presidents Day is intended to honor both Washington and Lincoln, Lincoln's February 12 birthday is really getting ignored. No presents for you, Abe. Which U.S. presidents do you think we should celebrate on Presidents Day? ‬ ‪ Learn more.

People who celebrate Mardi Gras get lots of beads.

Mardi Gras is a holiday that originally comes from the Catholic tradition. "Mardi Gras" is French for "Fat Tuesday," and it is intended to be a day to eat lots of fatty foods before fasting for Lent. But the celebrations, which were held this past Tuesday, have spread beyond religious observers. The whole city of New Orleans famously celebrates Mardi Gras each year with opulent parades, music and parties. Other cities host smaller celebrations, too. What other secular celebrations began from religious tradition? ‬ ‪ Learn more.

The Israeli army

Iran's growing nuclear program has been a source of international worry for the last few months. Western nations and Israel believe that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, though Iran denies that this is true. The United States and the European Union are trying to fight Iran with sanctions. But Israel is considering military action, because the nation believes that it could be destroyed if Iran had nuclear powers. Historic tensions between Iran and Israel have been increasing recently: Iran has blamed Israel for the deaths of nuclear scientists, and now Israel is blaming Iran for violence against Israelis. But both the U.S. and Britain have cautioned Israel that an attack could have devastating and deadly consequences in the area. Do you think that Iran should be allowed to develop nuclear weapons? ‬ ‪ Learn more.

Nuclear facilities in Iran

The United Nations is trying to make sure that Iran's nuclear program remains peaceful. But Iran did not cooperate with a recent U.N. visit. Iran wouldn't let U.N. inspectors visit its military bases and facilities where they suspect that Iran may be creating weapons. Iran's top religious leader said that the nation is not seeking weapons because they are "useless, harmful and dangerous." But for peace of mind, the U.N. wants to make sure for itself. Why do you think Iran kept inspectors from visiting? ‬ ‪ Learn more.

How we get oil

Gasoline prices have been on the rise across the United States since the start of the New Year. Prices are typically lower in February, so it is possible that these unseasonably high prices forebode record-high gasoline rates for this summer. The current cost is a result of lower production in the North Sea, as well as the tensions between the United States and Iran. On Thursday, President Obama spoke about his plans to wean the United States off imported oil. How can you cut back on your gasoline use? ‬ ‪ Learn more.

An avalanche on a house

Skiing and snowboarding in the backcountry can offer breathtaking natural beauty. But with avalanches on the rise, it can also be very dangerous. This week, three expert skiers were killed when they were buried under an avalanche in the Washington State backcountry. One woman who survived the avalanche was wearing a specially designed avalanche airbag, which helped keep her up near the surface of the snow. While various technologies can improve chances of survival in avalanches, knowledge of avalanche conditions and knowing when it isn't safe to ski are most important. Do you think that avalanche safety technology like airbags makes skiing more or less safe? ‬ ‪ Learn more.

This modern flower looks almost the same as its ancient relative.

When scientists used ancient DNA to bring back dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, we called it science fiction. But this week, real-life scientists revived a plant that had been buried under Siberian ice for 32,000 years. Now scientists are on the lookout for more ancient plants to bring back. Perhaps dinosaurs aren't too far off? What are possible benefits and risks of reviving ancient plants? ‬ ‪ Learn more.

The Nine Supreme Court Justices...can you name them all?

Affirmative action has been a hotly debated issue since it came about in the 1960s. Affirmative action is the policy of considering a minority student's race as a positive factor in admissions. Supporters of affirmative action believe that it helps make up for historical institutional racism, while those who oppose it say that it is itself a form of racism. The Supreme Court has heard cases on affirmative action in 1978 and 2003, and has come out in favor of it each time. That means that universities currently can use race as a positive factor in admissions. But the Supreme Court has announced that it will hear a new affirmative action case from a white student from Texas who is seeking to end "racial preferences" in college admissions. The results of this case could possibly forbid colleges from using affirmative action. Do you think that colleges and universities should be able to use affirmative action? ‬ ‪ Learn more.

Rémi Ochlik and Marie Colvin, journalists killed in Syria this week

The violence in Syria isn't stopping. Syrian President Bashar Assad's has continued his government's siege against rebel soldiers, with particularly intense shelling of the opposition in the city of Homs. French photojournalist Rémi Ochlik and American journalist Marie Colvin were killed by shellfire on Wednesday. A U.N. Panel has now accused Syria of crimes against humanity. How do you think the violence can be brought to an end? ‬ ‪ Learn more.

Washington, D.C.'s extensive national museums can be a highlight of any visit to the capitol. And there's a new museum on its way. This week, President Obama spoke at the groundbreaking of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum will tell the history of black life, art and culture. It is scheduled to open in 2015. Have you ever visited a museum? If so, which have you visited? ‬ ‪ Learn more.
What holiday kept many people out of school on Monday?
Presidents Day (Officially Washington's Birthday)
What holiday did New Orleans celebrate with beads and parades this Tuesday?
Mardi Gras
Which nation is considering taking violent action against Iran?
When the U.N. went to inspect Iran's nuclear program, what happened?
Iran wouldn't let them on military bases.
The price of what source of energy is on the rise?
What killed three skiers in Washington?
An avalanche
How old was a flower that was found under Siberian ice?
32,000 years old
What issue will the Supreme Court hear a case about soon?
Affirmative action
Where did two western journalists die this week?
What museum will be opening in Washington, D.C. in 2015?
The National Museum of African American History and Culture. See you next week!

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