Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Mar 15, 2022 in Stuff You Should Know

Crisis at the Pump

Have you noticed the rising price of gasoline? As of the week of March 6th through 12th, 2022, gas prices in the United States hit a record high average of $4.17 a gallon. This was a 55 cent increase in a single week.

So why this recent price increase? The answer is pretty complicated and is the result of a mixture of reasons. First, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused the U.S. to ban imports of crude oil from Russia. The U.S. gets about eight percent of its crude oil from Russia, so that means a smaller supply here, which raises our prices.

But gas prices are a complex mixture of global supply, demand and choices made many months ago may only now be changing the price of gasoline. Global gas prices have been rising  as the population continues to respond to expanding COVID vaccination. The severe drop in gas demand during the earliest months of pandemic caused OPEC and oil producing nations to cut production. Only recently has the production rates increased and that is resulting in a steady increase in gas prices—even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Biden’s import ban.

Despite the financial strain this places on Americans, an overwhelming majority of people still support banning imports of crude oil from Russia as part of the effort to speed the end of Putin’s invasion. According to President Biden, economic sanctions have been very effective. The value of the Russian ruble declined by fifty percent since the invasion of Ukraine began. Biden has also pledged to release thirty million barrels of oil from reserves to help fight rising prices at the pump.

Dig Deeper The last time gas prices were close to this high was in the summer of 2008, when the average price of a gallon was $4.11. How much would that be in today’s dollars? And what caused the surge in prices that time? Use Internet resources to find out.

Closing the Bracket Gap

For many sports fans, March means just one thing: March Madness. Often overlooked in past excitement was the NCAA Women’s tournament, which also happens in March but receives less attention than the Men’s tournament. In fact, out of the forty million people who filled out a March Madness bracket last year, only twelve percent filled out one for the women’s tournament.

To raise awareness about this discrepancy, Degree antiperspirant has launched the “Bracket Gap Challenge.” Beginning March 13, 2022, until the start of the first women’s tournament game on March 18, anyone who wishes to participate can go online to fill out and submit a women’s tournament bracket. Out of everyone who submits a bracket, one grand prize winner will receive $25,000 and a donation of $75,000 in their name to a women’s athletic program of their choice.

Why is it important to fill out a women’s bracket? Because more brackets lead to more viewers and visibility, which in turn leads to more funding and recognition for women’s teams and players. Ultimately, this can help to close the gender gap in sports, in which female athletes often receive less attention and much lower pay than their male counterparts. The Bracket Gap Challenge is just one part of Degree’s five million dollar Breaking Limits program, which seeks to break down barriers that can result from gender, race, sexual orientation, abilities, or age in athletics.

Dig Deeper The spokesperson for the Bracket Gap Challenge is Candace Parker. Who is she? Use Internet resources to learn more about Parker and her accomplishments and contributions to women’s basketball. Write a paragraph about what you’ve learned.

Endurance22

In 1915, Sir Ernest Shackleton led an Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition to the South Pole to establish a British base there. But his ship, the Endurance, became immobilized by ice and could sail no farther. The ship was stuck in the polar ice for ten months until it finally sank in October 1915. All 27 men aboard the ship survived. They were the first explorers in recorded history to cross Antarctica on foot. This was the beginning of another ten-month journey that tested their mental and physical strength.

The 'Endurance' frozen in polar ice
Sir Ernest Shackelton’s exploratory ship was recently discovered after 100 years.

This miraculous story has received new attention lately. That’s because on March 5, 2022, the Endurance was located at the bottom of the Weddell Sea, along the northern coast of Antarctica. It was found about four miles from its original sinking point. Some say that the discovery of the Endurance is the greatest one since the Titanic. It was also the world’s most difficult shipwreck search, due to sea ice, blizzards, and incredibly low temperatures. The expedition of scientists, historians, and filmmakers who led the expedition called themselves Endurance22.

After two weeks of active searching, they found the sunken ship nearly two miles deep, using drones and other hybrid underwater vehicles that were operated by remote. Endurance is still intact and in excellent condition. The ship’s name is still clearly visible on the stern. But it can’t be moved or taken apart due to the Antarctic Treaty, because it is considered a designated monument, and no physical artifacts can be disturbed or brought to the surface.

In an interesting twist, the ship was found on March 5, 2022, exactly one hundred years after Sir Ernest Shackleton’s funeral.

Dig Deeper: What is the Antarctic Treaty? When was it signed, by whom, and for what purposes?

Power Changes Hands in South Korea

In South Korea, the president is allowed to serve only one term of five years. So last week, the country held elections to replace President Moon Jae-in. Moon took office five years ago when President Park Geun-hye was impeached on charges of corruption. Last week, conservative Yoon Suk Yeol of the People Power Party, defeated Democrat Lee Jae-myung by a razor-thin margin: 48.56 percent to 47.83 percent. In his concession speech, Lee took responsibility for his defeat, thanked his supporters, and encouraged unity.

President-elect Yoon has been a prosecutor for the past 27 years. He entered the political arena by acting as chief prosecutor during investigations into corruption scandals involving President Moon’s aides. The key issues facing his presidency right now are threats from North Korea, tensions between the U.S. and China, the COVID-19 pandemic, and several economic and social issues. During his campaign, Yoon advocated for strengthening ties with the United States. He also called for taking a stronger stance against North Korea and opposing President Moon’s policy of open dialogue.

Dig Deeper President-elect Yoon has promised to abolish the ministry of gender equality, calling it unnecessary. But the World Economic Forum ranks South Korea 102 out of 156 nations in its gender gap index. Why? Use Internet resources to learn more about the gender gap in South Korea, and what rights women there continue to fight for. Create a poster or infographic that displays what you find, including facts, statistics, and images.