Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Sep 29, 2021 in Stuff You Should Know

More Border Issues for President Biden

In the past few weeks, thousands of migrants have arrived at the border between the United States and Mexico. Many of these are Haitians who had been allowed to live in other countries several year ago. Many of these migrants crossed into Del Rio, Texas, and formed an encampment under a bridge there.

The Haitians left their home country previously to escape the nation’s intense poverty, high crime rate, government corruption, and a lack of basic resources. These conditions have all been complicated further by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the assassination of the Haitian president, and a recent 7.2-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people. Thousands more Haitians remain without access to safe drinking water or basic medical care. The Biden administration has stated that it will not allow these Haitians to stay in the United States. He is trying to return them to Haiti, even though they left Haiti several years ago and were migrating from other countries in South America.

Many Democratic leaders have condemned the White House’s actions as inhumane. The criticism increased when videos surfaced of Border Patrol agents on horses used force to round up the migrants to drive them back from the border. In the past week, more than 1,400 Haitians have been returned to Haiti, and the Texas bridge encampment has been cleared. Daniel Foote, the U.S. special envoy for Haiti, resigned last week in protest of what he called inhumane treatment of these people. President Biden has condemned the Border Patrol videos and said that an investigation of the events will be conducted. The agents are suspended during the investigation. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has suspended the horse patrols at the border. The White House has not explained how the administration plans to handle the continuing influx of migrants going forward.

Dig Deeper Use Internet resources to learn more about the many political and environmental problems that are happening in Haiti. Write a short paragraph about what you find.

Angela Merkel Leaves Office

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany and one of the world’s most prominent female leaders, announced recently that she will not be running in the upcoming national elections. This makes her the first German leader in modern history to voluntarily step down from the role.

former German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel of Germany

Merkel served as Germany’s political leader for sixteen years, and the legacy she leaves behind is complicated. She fought for pro-environmental policies, but today Germany is the world’s biggest producer of brown coal. She opened Germany’s borders to more than one million refugees. But this decision also led to backlash that allowed German conservatives to gain ground in her government. She believed in keeping open communication with controversial world leaders such as Vladimir Putin, but others resented her for not taking a stronger stance. She pushed progressive policies yet voted against a law permitting same-sex marriage.

Merkel grew up in East Germany, at a time when the Berlin Wall dividing East and West Germany still stood. She was 35 years old when the Wall came down and the Cold War ended. She was elected to Germany’s parliament in 1990 and became party leader by 1999. In 2005, she was elected to the role of Chancellor by a very thin margin of votes. Critical moments in her career involved fighting to save the euro (2009); allowing one million Syrian refugees into Germany (2015); and battling the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. More than anything else, during her sixteen-year term, Merkel helped to transform Germany into the modern society that it is today.

Dig Deeper Pick one example from this story of a decision Merkel made. Do additional research to learn more about the choices she faces in making this decision. Write a three paragraph essay explaining Merkel’s choice and provide evidence of why her government took that action.

Richmond Unveils Emancipation Memorial

Richmond, Virginia was the capital of the Confederacy during the United States’ Civil War. On September 8, 2021, Richmond removed the last of its monuments honoring Confederate leaders: a sixty-foot-tall statue of Robert E. Lee. Now, a new monument called The Emancipation and Freedom Movement has been unveiled about two miles away. This new memorial which honors the abolition of slavery has two twelve-foot-tall bronze statues. The statues depict  a man and a woman holding an infant, recently freed from slavery. The statues stand on a pedestal that lists the names, images, and stories of ten African American Virginians–five who fought for emancipation, and five who continued the fight for equality afterward. Those listed include:

  • Nat Turner, who led a rebellion of enslaved persons in 1831
  • Dred Scott, who challenged Southern segregation in an 1857 Supreme Court case
  • Mary Elizabeth Bowser, a Union spy in the Confederate government
  • Lucy Simms, an African American educator following the Civil War and Reconstruction
  • William Harvey Carney, a former enslaved person and the first African American to win the Medal of Honor and
  • John Mercer Langston, Virginia’s first African American member of Congress.

The monument was designed by Thomas Jay Warren, an Oregon-based artist. Its the first state-funded statue in the U.S. to honor emancipation. The project has been planned since 2011. The monument was originally planned to be unveiled in 2019, the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans brought to this continent in 1619.

Dig Deeper Choose one of the names listed on The Emancipation and Freedom Movement’s pedestal. Use Internet resources to write a brief biography of that person and their contributions.

World’s Oldest Twins

On September 1, 2021, sisters Umeno Sumiyama and Koume Kodama celebrated a very important milestone. At 107 years and three hundred days old, the pair became the oldest living identical twins in the world. They surpassed the previous record of 107 years and 175 days, which was held by Kin Narita and Gin Kanie of Japan.

The women, who also are from Japan, did not always celebrate their twin status. In fact, they were often bullied as children because of prejudices against multiple births in their country. They also spent much of their lives apart. After elementary school, Kodama was sent to a different Japanese island to work as a maid, while Sumiyama stayed at home. They married and started families and only saw each other for big family events, like weddings and funerals. Finally, in their 70s, they reconnected and began making pilgrimages together to Buddhist temples. They currently live in separate nursing homes. Kodama suffers from memory loss, but Sumiyama was very excited to receive her certificate from Guinness World Records.

Japan is the world’s fastest-aging nation and is known for having many supercentenarians (people who are 110 years old or more). Twenty-nine percent of the Japanese population is over 65, and about 86,500 Japanese people are 100 years old or older.

Dig Deeper The announcement that Sumiyama and Kodama are now the oldest twins in the world came on September 1, 2021, because that’s Respect for the Aged Day, a national holiday in Japan. Choose an older family member or friend and write a paragraph about their life. If you don’t know much about it, ask them!