Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on May 5, 2021 in Stuff You Should Know

Biden Calls Killing of Armenians Genocide

Over one hundred years ago, about 1.5 million ethnic Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Now, for the first time, an American president has officially recognized this tragedy as a genocide. President Biden made a statement on April 24, 2021, on the 106th anniversary of the beginning of the killings. President Biden described the event as a genocide–a deliberate attempt by the Ottoman Empire to target and kill the Armenian people. The president stated the United States’ commitment to ensure that nothing like that ever happens again. Past U.S. presidents have avoided talking about the incident for fear of damaging the United States’s  relationship with Turkey. (Turkey is a NATO ally and an important country geographically because of where it sits between Europe and the Middle East.)

How did Turkey respond? Days before Biden’s speech, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the press that what Biden was going to say was a lie. But Biden made it clear that he would declare the killings to be a genocide. Immediately following the speech, the Turkish government downplayed it, calling Biden’s statement a symbolic act. But then later in the day, the Turkish foreign minister contacted the U.S. ambassador to Turkey to protest it.

Armenian Americans were happy that President Biden publicly recognized this tragic incident. Members of the Armenian American community across the country hold annual memorials on April 24 to remember the lives lost. Those who attended these 2021 memorials in Los Angeles, California and New Jersey said that they felt relief for Biden’s statement. They hoped that the president’s actions will help people learn more about the history of this event, so that nothing like it happens again.

Dig Deeper  Research the U.N. definition of genocide to learn more about it and do some research to learn about other historical examples of genocide.

Matsuyama Wins Masters

Even if you’re not a golfer, you’ve probably heard of the Masters tournament—one of professional golf’s most prestigious tournaments. The 85th Masters concluded on April 11, 2021 and this year, history was made. Hideki Matsuyama won, becoming the first Asian-born man to do so. He won by one stroke, at ten under par. He is also the first Japanese man to win a major golf championship.

Matsuyama is 29 years old and was a teenage golf prodigy in Japan. As a child, he was taught how to play golf by his father. Matsuyama first played in the Masters ten years ago, and received recognition for shooting the lowest amateur score. He came into the 2021 tournament ranked 25th in the world, and the odds against his winning were 46-1.

Matsuyama is intensely private. But in Japan, this win will make him a national hero. Despite achieving such historic status, Matsuyama is quiet and intense and still avoids the limelight. After winning, his remarks about his win centered around how he hoped that this would show other Japanese youth that they can be world champions in golf as well. He also said that he was excited for his caddie, Shota Hayafuji, because it was his first win.

Matsuyama will receive $2,070,000 for his win at the Masters.

Dig Deeper Where did the game of golf originate? How did it become popular in Japan? Use Internet resources to help you find your answer.

International Space Station Crew Swells to 11

On April 24, 2021, a crew of four Space X astronauts arrived safely at the International Space Station (ISS). It was the third crew to arrive this year, bringing the total population of the ISS to eleven–the biggest crowd in more than a decade. But it didn’t stay that crowded for long. Four of the existing ISS crew returned to Earth on May 1. The overlap was important because NASA wanted the old crew to be able to help the new crew get familiarized with the station. Surprisingly, though, this is not the highest number of astronauts ever on the ISS: that record is 13, set in 2009. At times, the crew has dropped to as low as three people.

The International Space Station
The International Space Station. Credit: NASA

During the overlap, the ISS crew included six astronauts from the United States, two from Russia, two from Japan, and one from France. The group that returned home ncluded three Americans and one Japanese. Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi landed safely by parachute in the Gulf of Mexico off the shore of Panama City.

This group was in space for more than five months, setting the record for the longest time in space by a crew that launched aboard an American-built spacecraft. Those who just arrived will spend the next six months at the ISS.

Dig Deeper Victor Glover, one of the astronauts who returned home on Wednesday, set an important “first” as well. Why was his spaceflight historical?

CDC Releases New Masking Guidelines

Vaccine numbers are climbing, but infection rates remain high. Rules about when and how to mask and social distance are changing quickly, and changes vary from place to place. Last week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came out with a new set of guidelines governing COVID-19 safety, now that more people are being vaccinated.

You are considered fully protected two weeks after being vaccinated. At that point, the CDC says you no longer have to wear a mask outside, even in a small gathering. This is true whether the people you’re with have been vaccinated or not. If you are in a crowd, such as a parade or sporting event, masks should still be worn even if you are fully vaccinated. Masks are still required indoors, such as in shops and restaurants, regardless of one’s vaccination status.  

What if you haven’t been vaccinated yet? According to the CDC’s recommendations, you can be mask-less at small outdoor gatherings with a few friends, if they are all fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated people can also exercise outside without wearing a mask. Masks are still required for indoor exercise because a recent study revealed that the virus is nineteen times more likely to spread inside than outside.

But why do you have to wear a mask at all if you’ve been vaccinated? There are a couple of important reasons why. First, although early results are very successful, scientists are still researching how effective vaccines are at preventing the spread of the disease. Secondly, in a public setting, you have no way of knowing who has and has not been vaccinated. And there have been recorded cases of “breakthrough infections,” meaning people who are vaccinated still getting the disease.

Dig Deeper While the CDC has issued national guidelines about masks and social distancing, individual states have requirements of their own. What are the mask requirements in your state? Visit this website to find out.