January 11, 2013

Giant Squid, Rising Temperatures & Gun Control

Check it out!
Special, special shout-out to Riley Upper Elementary School in Livonia, Michigan!
Is Flocab in the house? Without a doubt!
You know how we do,
The news is what we talk about,
Now people in Alabama are screaming roll tide,
’Cause they beat Notre Dame in a way that was so fly,
Meanwhile in Syria their president won’t hide,
Al-Assad’s still fighting though so many have died,
He won’t step down, he blames the other side,
Let’s hope for peace, next we’ll take a ride
To Australia - the temperatures are record high,
And it seems all over they’re fighting the wildfire,
New Zealand and Tasmania too,
Peace to everybody putting in work to make it through,
Next up in the news, picture this if you can,
They filmed a giant squid swimming off in Japan,
That’s the first time one has been filmed in its natural habitat
How about that? Let me take it back to...
The states where they’re talking about gun control,
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
, yep, you know,
The one who was shot, well, she’s taking a lead,
And in the mass shooting states we’ve seen sales recede,
Meanwhile if you need a reason
To keep your hands clean - watch out, it’s flu season!
It started early - and they’re saying it’s severe
So do what you need to do so you can be prepared,
President Obama made changes to his cabinet,
There was a little controversy but he wasn’t having it,
He wants Secretary of Defense to be Chuck Hagel,
And Brennan will run the CIA
, if he’s able,
If you’re a hockey fan, then I bet you feel great,
’Cause it looks like the NHL is gonna skate!
It’s Flocab and we came to rap on the break,

This week's winner of our Week in Rap Shout-Out Contest is Riley Upper Elementary in Livonia, Michigan. The challenge was to write a haiku about a major news story from 2012, and they blew us away with their succinct and moving poems. Check out the winning entries., as well as some excellent poems from runners-up. Want your school shouted out in the next Week in Rap? Check out this week's Shout-Out Contest challenge. See the contest and enter here!

The Crimson Tide is unstoppable.

They know how to play football in Alabama. The Alabama Crimson Tide cruised past the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at the BCS college football title game this week. Not only is Alabama repeating national champion, they've won three of the last four championships. That's called dominance. Are you more likely to go to a college that wins in sports? Learn more.

President Assad isn't backing down without a fight. Or at all.

Sixty thousand people have lost their lives in the two years of civil war in Syria. But neither side is backing down or looking for peace. President Assad is clinging to power. He gave a defiant speech this week, telling supporters that "what we started, we will not stop." Assad has previously offered some concessions to the rebels. Months ago, he held parliamentary elections. But his opponents boycotted the elections, fearing that Assad would tamper with the results. Assad also denounced foreign governments for aiding the rebels. Do you think the conflict in Syria has more in common with the American Revolution or the American Civil War? Learn more.

Hot, dry conditions are wildfire fodder.

2012 was by far the hottest year in America's recorded history. Temperatures are rising, but last year was an especially large jump. And it's not just America that is feeling the heat. It is summer in Australia, and the country is currently in the midst of its largest "heat event" ever. Temperatures this week got up to 129 degrees Fahrenheit. And the conditions have created catastrophic wild fires that are threatening large parts of the country. The fires are so large, that they're visible from the International Space Station. Nearby, New Zealand and Tasmania are experiencing simliar conditions. What's the hottest weather you've ever experienced? Learn more.

Giant squid can reach lengths of up to 43 feet.

Deep below the ocean's surface, in the pitch black depths, lurks a creature that for thousands of years was merely a legend. It can grow up to 43 feet long. It has 8 massive arms, each featuring large, teeth-lined suction cups. It can change color. It's unblinking eyes are larger than a human head. This creature is the giant squid, and scientists filmed one in its natural habitat for the first time. Previously, dead giant squid carcases had washed ashore. But this is the first footage of a giant squid in its home, thousands of feet below us. Footage of the squid will air on the Discovery Channel. Would you ever try scuba diving or riding in a submarine? Learn more.

Gabrielle Giffords stands up for gun control.

Two years ago, a gunman opened fire on then US representative Gabrielle Giffords and the men, women and children she was meeting with at a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona. Giffords and 18 others were shot. Two years later, Giffords is still alive, but struggles to speak and to walk. That hasn't stopped her from standing up for a cause that is dear to her heart: more gun control. She and her husband Mark Kelly, a former astronaut, are supporting a new bill that would make it harder for individuals to buy and sell guns. It's a topic that ignites passion on both sides, and has been in the spotlight since the tragedy in Newtown a few weeks ago. What's your position on gun control measures? Learn more.

More civilians have guns in the US than anywhere else in the world.

In the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and the reelection of President Obama, many in the nation think that Congress may pass some new gun control measures. In response, gun sales have increased across the nation. There were nearly twice as many background checks to buy guns (which is how they measure gun sales) this December compared to last December. The notable exception is that people in states that have recently experienced a mass shooting (Connecticut and Colorado) have seen much less of a spike. Why do you think Colorado and Connecticut would have less of a bump in gun sales than other states? Learn more.

Vaccines save lives.

Winter is flu season. Each year a new strain of the influenza virus (which we usually just call "the flu") begins to spread from person to person. It lasts from October to May, but usually peaks in February. This year has been a particularly bad flu year, and many states are running low on the vaccine. Massachusetts just declared a state of emergency because of the high number flu cases and the dwindling doses of vaccine. Eighteen people in Massachusetts have already died from flu-related illness this season. Do you get the flu shot each year? Learn more.

President Obama and Senator Hagel share a laugh.

The office of the President of the United States is not just filled by a single person. Obama has a cabinet. These are selected people who run all of the government agencies. It's common for some cabinet members to step down after four years, which means Obama needs to pick new ones. This week he announced his nominees for two important positions: former GOP Senator Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense, and John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Even though Hagel is a Republican, many Republicans don't support him, believing he may not be a strong ally of Israel, though he has stated he would be. The Senate must confirm the nominations. Do you think it's important for a Democratic President to pick some Republicans for his cabinet? Learn more.

Hockey will return.

In case you weren't noticing, there hasn't been any professional hockey this year thanks to a disagreement between the players and the owners over contract rights. Players wanted a larger percentage of the money that the sport generates, and owners didn't want to give it to them. But the two sides came together and reached an agreement this week. The schedule is yet to be set, but soon teams with names like the Ducks, the Wild, the Canadiens, and those always ferocious Maple Leaves will be back on the ice. What can hockey do to become a more popular sport? Learn more.
Who has dominated college football three of the last four years?
Alabama Crimson Tide
Who is being defiant, giving speeches in the Middle East?
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
What two countries are experiencing record temperatures and dangerous wildfires?
Australia and New Zealand
What animal was filmed in its natural habitat for the first time?
A giant squid
What famous victim of gun violence is pushing for gun control?
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
What is the longer name for the flu?
What must happen before Obama's cabinet nominees start their jobs?
They must be confirmed by the Senate.
What sport has been on strike?
Bonus: How long can giant squids grow to?
43 feet long
Bonus: Which of these is NOT an NHL team: the Wild, the Canadiens, the Hogs, the Ducks?
The Hogs is not an NHL team.

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