February 3, 2012

Facebook Files IPO & Erin Brockovich Returns

It's February 3rd,
Flocab's got news you may have never even heard. Word.

In New York State it's a mystery,
Teens suffering from a tic, yo what could this be?
Hmmm... In comes Erin Brockovich,
Testing the environment; she's trying to put a stop to this.
In Florida we heard the voice of the populace,
Romney won big and Gingrich did the opposite.
It's quite clear those two are in the lead,
But only one can win, and one will concede.
If you're on the highways, better not speed,
75 had it bad - that's the truth indeed.
Smoke caused a terrible crash down in Florida,
Many people died and cars got torn up.

Yup - we'll take a trip to Iran,
Have you heard the new plan from the Pentagon?
They wanna place a military base,
In the form of a ship floating in open space.
Not to mention the UN inspection,
Their nuclear facilities are being questioned.
Iran's saying it's for energy,
When the West thinks it might be a weapon for an enemy.
Generally the winter gets cold,
But in East Europe the snow can freeze off your toes.
Have you heard the latest IPO?
Facebook's going public - you're gonna love it!
And they're saying that they plan to raise,
5 billion bucks, so they're gonna get paid.
Wait. Rest in Peace Don Cornelius,
The creator of "Soul Train" and its affiliates.

Now really it's time for us to skate,
Enjoy the Super Bowl, hope your team does great!

Erin Brockovich (the real one, not the Julia Roberts one).

Erin Brockovich is back. The former law clerk previously gained renown for linking cancer cases to groundwater contamination, and she became a household name when Julia Roberts won an Oscar for playing her in a film. Now Brockovich is investigating a mysterious illness that is causing facial tics and Tourette-like verbal outbursts in 15 teenagers in Le Roy, NY. In 1970, a derailed train spilled the cyanide and trichloroethene about 3 miles from the school that the teens attend. Brockovich suspects that there may be a connection between the spill and this disease, but her efforts to investigate have been rebuffed by Le Roy High School. School authorities kicked Brockovich's investigator off school grounds this week. Do you think Brockovich should have a right to investigate chemicals on school grounds? Learn more.

Newt Gingrich won't even look at that exit sign.

After losing to Newt Gingrich in South Carolina, Mitt Romney rebounded in the Florida primary this week. But the decisive win didn't come easily...or at least not cheaply. As a result of a 2010 Supreme Court decision, super PACs are now able to raise limitless money for politicians. Romney and his super PAC spent $15 million on ads, and the majority of them were attack ads against the other candidates. Comparatively, Newt Gingrich and his super PAC spent $4 million on ads. Mitt Romney would like Republicans to believe that his Florida win has made him a shoe-in for the party nomination, but Gingrich has vowed to keep fighting until the August convention. Do you think that super PAC spending is fair? Learn more.

A disastrous car crash--involving at least 12 cars, six tractor-trailers and a motor home--killed 11 people on Sunday in Florida. Smoke and fog from a nearby brush fire had left a stretch of I-75 with such poor visibility that some drivers reported that they couldn't see at all. In fact, the road had been closed earlier in the night, but it was reopened about 15 minutes before the accident. 18 survivors were hospitalized after the crash. In what conditions should you stop driving and pull off the road? Learn more.

The Pentagon is really a pentagon.

When we say "ship floating in open space," we don't quite mean a space ship hovering over the Iranian desert. Less grandly, the Pentagon decided to re-commission an assault ship and deploy it in the Middle East. The idea is that a military presence in the sea will help the U.S. to further fight against Somali pirates, and perhaps also dissuade Iran from its threats to close the Strait of Hormuz. Do you think the United States should create this military presence on the Middle Eastern seas? Learn more.

Iran wants this.

Iran wants nuclear weapons. Western nations think this is a bad idea, and are imposing sanctions on Iran to prevent its nuclear development. In response, Iran is threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz. In the midst of this standoff, the U.N. has begun a nuclear inspection of Iran to learn more about its nuclear capabilities. How do you think the findings of the U.N. nuclear delegation could influence Western sanctions? Learn more.

Cold weather may be beautiful, but it can be deadly.

This week at the Flocabulary HQ in Brooklyn, we enjoyed strangely spring-like temperatures. But over in Eastern Europe, the scene was rather different. In some regions, temperatures dropped to -26.5 F. And for those who didn't have a warm place to stay, the cold was deadly. At least 79 people froze to death, most of whom were homeless. Over 720 people were hospitalized with hypothermia and frostbite. How can cities help the homeless during cold spells? Learn more.

You know what's cool? Having a net worth of $28 billion dollars.

Facebook is about to friend Wall Street. Facebook updates its status to "Paid!" Facebook changes its privacy settings to public. No matter how you pun it, here's the fact: Facebook has announced its Initial Public Offering, or IPO, and it is huge. The social network will offer $5 billion of its stock, valuing the company between $75 billion and $100 billion. An IPO allows a company to raise money from investors, though it will mean that Facebook will have less autonomy. It also means that early supporters of the company are about to make bank...and it's not just coders in Palo Alto who will be new millionaires. One graffiti artist, who accepted company stock instead of cash in 2005 for a mural at the Facebook office, will be worth $200 million when the deal goes through. What current small companies do you think might be big in a few years? Do you believe in them enough to invest? Learn more.

Don Cornelius interviews Stevie Wonder on Soul Train

Don Cornelius -- who became famous for bringing legendary artists like Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Barry White into America's living rooms in the 1970s -- died this week. The TV dance show "Soul Train," which Cornelius created and hosted, was famous for showcasing R&B, soul and hip-hop acts on TV. It ran from 1971 to 2006. The cause of death was suicide. Who is your favorite musician from the 70's? Learn more.

Can the Giants' MVP do it again?

At 6:30 p.m. EST, Super Bowl XLVI will begin, as the Giants and Patriots face off for the second time in 4 years. Don't know what XLVI stands for? You can listen to Flocabulary co-founder Blake Harrison rhyme about Roman Numerals.for NPR's How To Do Everything podcast. Will you be watching the Superbowl? Learn more.
Which celebrity environmentalist is investigating a mystery disease in New York?
Erin Brockovich
Who won the Florida Republican primary?
Mitt Romney
What happened on highway I-75 in Florida?
A huge, deadly crash
What type of military base does the Pentagon want to form in Iran?
A floating base
Who is investigating Iran's nuclear facilities?
The U.N.
What was the temperature like in Eastern Europe this week?
Which tech company filed for a historically large IPO?
What television show did Don Cornelius host?
Soul Train
What big sporting event is happening on Sunday?
Super Bowl XLVI. See you next week!

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