Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on May 19, 2021 in Stuff You Should Know

Deadly Protests Rock Colombia

Anti-government protesting in Colombia has paralyzed much of the nation. It all started in late April 2021 when the government proposed a new tax reform plan which  called for an increase in taxes to make up for money lost during the COVID-19 pandemic (Colombia’s GDP dropped by 6.8 percent last year, its biggest dip in decades). The plan would have also eliminated some individual tax exemptions and increased taxes on businesses. Tens of thousands of protestors took to the streets in response. After four days of protests and demonstrations, the government has withdrawn the tax plan. But the protests continued anyway. The protestors are now calling for universal free college tuition, universal basic income, an end to police violence, equal health care access, and indigenous rights.

Colombian President Ivan Duque met with members of the National Strike Committee on Monday, May 10, 2021, but the two parties were unable to reach any agreements. The protest leaders said that the government didn’t show any empathy for their position. The government said that the purpose of the meeting was just to gain more information. Meanwhile, the country is also facing a third wave of spiking coronavirus infection rates.

Dig Deeper Based on what you read above and have heard and seen in the news, design a protest poster that addresses one or more of the reforms that Colombian protestors are calling for.

Fighting Between Israel and Palestine Escalate

There has been a dramatic increase in violence between Israel and Palestine in May 2021. The tension started with an  Israeli Supreme Court case that will decide whether Palestinians can be evicted from an East Jerusalem neighborhood. While the anticipation for that decision grew more tense, Hamas, an Islamic Palestinian group that is in charge of the Gaza territory demanded that Israel remove police from a portion of Gaza. When Israel refused, Hamas launched rockets. Israel responded by killing several Hamas senior officials in a series of airstrikes. In Israel, a soldier was killed when Palestinians protested the airstrikes, along with more than twenty police. Israeli leaders have made many arrests and set curfews in many areas.

physical and political map of the Middle East with an inset image on Israel
Credit: McGraw Hill

Hamas members retaliated against Israel by firing rockets from the territory they control in the West Bank. Israel has carried out many airstrikes on Gaza and used its Iron Dome missile defense system to intercept some missile attacks. As of May 17, 2021, the death toll reached over 200 people in Gaza and in Israel. Several thousands more people have been injured.

For Muslims, this is even more devastating because it is happening during Eid al-Fitr, a time of celebration marking the end of the month-long Ramadan fast. Now, the United Nation’s Middle East envoy fears that the violent and volatile situation could escalate into a full-scale war.

Dig Deeper Look in your world history textbook to learn more about the history of the Gaza territory and border disputes with Israel. Write a paragraph about what you find.

Oil Pipeline Undergoes Cyberattack

There has been lots of panicked purchasing of gasoline in some part of the United States. People are concerned about a national gasoline shortage as the result of a cyberattack on a major oil pipeline, owned by Colonial Pipeline Co. In fact, the pipeline that was shut down supplies about 45 percent of the East Coast’s total gasoline and jet fuel.

Last Thursday, cybercriminals conducted a ransomware attack. They took control of almost one hundred gigabytes of data. They then threatened to release the data onto  the Internet if they didn’t receive payment. The ransomware attack caused Colonial to temporarily shut down all pipeline operations and IT systems.

The cyberattack did not shut down the oil flow. The compromised data was administrative–such as billing–and Colonial shut down the pipeline as a precautionary measure. The FBI confirmed that a group called DarkSide was responsible for the ransomware attack. \It’s unknown whether the attack was carried out by a group or by a single individual. News stories since May 12 indicate that DarkSide claimed other ransomware attacks on three other companies around the world.

Eventually, Colonial paid the $5 million ransom to retrieve most of their data. Even so, the company has indicated that it will likely take several days for their fuel distribution to return to normal.

Dig Deeper Test your ability to prevent a cyberattack on yourself by taking the following online quiz.

Eat More Fish!

You probably know that fish is good for you. It provides protein, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. But you may not know how valuable small fish, such as anchovies, really are. Shakuntala Thilsted is the winner of the 2021 World Food Prize for her research into the nutritional benefits of small fish. Thilsted is also the first woman of Asian descent to win the prize.

a school of sardines against a white background
Sardines are a cheap source of nutrition around the world.

What makes small fish so great, according to Thilsted? First, they are a nutritional superfood, especially for children and pregnant women. They provide protein and nutrition, but are also vital for brain development and cognition, as well as physical growth in children. Second, they are cheap. Low-income families all over the world already eat small fish as a regular part of their diets. They are also accessible to people of all income levels, because they can be raised easily in backyard ponds. (Backyard ponds are extremely common in many Africa, Asian, and Southeast Asian nations.) These fish are also good for the environment, as they don’t require as much care, space, or maintenance to raise as larger fish.

Thilsted stresses that everyone should eat a well-rounded diet, which is good both for our health and for the environment. Her daily recommended dosage of fish is actually pretty low: 25 grams for children and 50 grams for adults. (For comparison, an average single 7 ounce filet of fish represents about 200 grams.)

Dig Deeper Now that you know how important small fish are to your diet, go online and investigate what different types of small fish are available. Which types are most popular in other parts of the world? If you can, will you give some of these fish a try?