Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Nov 2, 2021 in Stuff You Should Know

Barbados Elects First President

The Caribbean island of Barbados was a British colony until fifty-five years ago, when the country first announced its independence. But it remained in the British commonwealth  and Queen Elizabeth remained the ceremonial head of state. In 2020, Barbados declared its plans to become a republic. This meant replacing Queen Elizabeth with an elected president. In October, Dame Sandra Mason was chosen as the country’s first-ever president.

Mason, 72, has been governor-general since 2018. The governor-general is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister of Barbados. The new president of Barbados will hold the following duties

  • signing legislation;
  • appointing the Cabinet;
  • appointing the Prime Minister; and
  • performing other ceremonial duties and acting as head of state.

Mason was also the first woman to be admitted to the Barbados Bar, and the first woman to serve on the Barbados Court of Appeals. She also has served on the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (and as chair of the committee for two years). Mason was the Ambassador to Venezuela; and acted as Chief Magistrate for Barbados. She is the mother of one son, Andrew, who is also an attorney.

Dig Deeper To better understand the governmental structure of Barbados, use the Internet to learn more about it. Then create a chart or draw a diagram to visually describe what you learned.

Indiana City Offers “Grandparents on Demand”

Cities spend money every year updating parks, improving roads and sidewalks, and beautifying public spaces. These expenses help build community spirit, but they also make a city attractive to new residents. Some cities have even offered cash incentives to people who work remotely for other companies but are interested in living in smaller places. Greensburg, Indiana–population 12,000–has put together an interesting package to draw new residents. Greenburg is offering $5,000 to help with moving expenses and a one-year membership to the local YMCA and coworking space. The city is also providing complementary tickets to the local playhouse and gift cards to the local farmer’s market. And finally, Greensburg has created a program for new residents called “Grandparents on Demand.”

Who are these “grandparents on demand”? They’re a local couple, Tami and Dan Wenning. Tami is the director of the Decatur County Community Foundation, and Dan drives the local school bus. They believe that having built-in “grandparents” will help new residents transition more easily to life in Greensburg. So, they have offered to provide occasional babysitting or to attend events such as school “Grandparents Day” with children who don’t have their own grandparents in town. Tami and Dan have plenty of qualifications for the job. They are grandparents themselves, and they have also hosted foreign exchange students in the past.

Not everyone is allowed to sign up for this grandparent service. To qualify, you need to move to Greensburg within the next year and work a job remotely somewhere else in the United States.

What Do You Think? List five features of a community that would make it a place you would like to live. Explain your answers.

New Planet Discovered Outside the Milky Way

What is beyond the limits of our Milky Way galaxy? Scientists may now be one step closer to finding out. For the first time ever, NASA astronomers have discovered what may be a planet outside our galaxy. It is thought to be located in the M51 or “Whirlpool” galaxy, about 28 million light-years from Earth.

concept image of outer space
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers have found more than 4,000 exoplanets so far. They are called exoplanets because they are not in our solar system. This is the first possible planet that’s located outside of our galaxy. The new object is estimated to be about the same size as Saturn. It orbits a star from a distance of almost 2 billion miles. How did scientists first detect the exoplanet? They noticed that something was passing in front of a star, briefly blocking its light and causing its brightness to noticeably change. This phenomenon, called a “transit,” made them start looking for what was blocking the light.

It is important to note that the discovery isn’t definite until more research can be done to confirm the data. It’s possible that the light was blocked by something other than a planet, like a cloud of dust. However, it will be difficult to do this research because of the size of the exoplanet’s orbit. It will be about seventy years before it passes in front of its star again.

What Do You Think? Imagine that you are a NASA astronomer. What would you name the new exoplanet, and why?

Georgia Man Spends COVID Relief Money on Pokemon Card

Imagine that you received an $85,000 deposit in your bank account. What would you spend it on? A vacation? A car for your parents? How about a Pokemon card? Sounds crazy, but a man from Dublin, Georgia, named Vinath Oudomsine has done just that. He received $85,000 and spent $57,789 of it on a single Pokemon card.

Some people purchase Pokemon card sets in the hopes of finding a rare card. These rare cards are single printings. They sometimes feature holographic printing features or other unique elements that set them apart. The most important feature is that there are no duplicates. Because these cards are so rare, they are often sold at very high prices to other card collectors.

But there is a problem with Oudomsine’s purchase. That money came from the federal government. And they’re not too happy about his purchase.

In July 2020, Oudomsine applied for small business COVID relief aid from the Economic Injury Disaster Loans. This is a federal program which awards loans to small businesses to help them survive the pandemic. The money should be used for things like employee payroll, sick leave, and business-related rent. Oudomsine lied about having an entertainment services business with ten employees. He also falsely stated that this business generated about $235,000 in revenue. The business was completely made up. In August 2020, Oudomsine received the loan from the Small Business Administration, and five months later, he spent most of that money on a Pokemon card.

Oudomsine pleaded guilty last week to one charge of wire fraud. If convicted, he faces up to twenty years in prison and $250,000 in fines. Unfortunately, if you are wondering which Pokemon card he purchased, that information hasn’t yet been released to the public.

Dig Deeper Use Internet resources to find other examples of rare collectibles that non-collectors view as just toys. Put together a list of the top five collectibles that you think are most interesting or most unusual.