Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Apr 14, 2022 in Stuff You Should Know

Judge Jackson Confirmed to Supreme Court

On April 7, 2022, the Senate voted to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. Three Republicans and all of the Senate Democrats voted to accept Jackson’s appointment. The announcement of her confirmation was met with applause in the Senate chamber. Judge Jackson is the first female African American Supreme Court justice. Her appointment also marks the first time in more than three decades that a public defender will serve on the Supreme Court.

Many noted that the historic vote was presided over by Vice President Kamala Harris, the first African American (and first woman) vice president in history. During his 2020 presidential campaign, President Biden promised to nominate an African American woman to the Supreme Court if elected.

Judge Jackson will be officially sworn in after Justice Stephen Breyer retires, which will likely happen sometime this summer. In the meantime, she will continue in her current position on the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Dig Deeper Who were the three Republican senators who voted with their Democratic colleagues in favor of Judge Jackson’s appointment to the Supreme Court? What were their reasons? Use Internet resources to find out.

Ukrainian President Asks UN to Take Stronger Stand

On April 5, 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the United Nations Security Council. He asked the Council to take stronger action against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He asked the Security Council to remove Russia from the Council. Zelensky described some of the horrible things he has witnessed recently in the city of Bucha–a suburb of the capital city of Kyiv. He also shared a one-minute video of Bucha. He accused Russian troops of using blockades to starve the residents of the city, of shooting unarmed civilians in large numbers, and even of blowing up refugee shelters.

Zelensky said that the UN Security Council needed to take a stand against this kind of aggressive action. The Russian ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, denied these claims and called the video a hoax. Nebenzya said that the Russian military has not harmed a single Ukrainian civilian. According to the UN High Commission for Refugees over 4 million Ukrainians have sought refugee status in neighboring nations since the invasion began in February 2022.

U.S. ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, agreed with Zelensky. She stated that Russia is committing war crimes and human rights offenses. Russia was suspended from the U.N. Human Rights Council on April 11, 2022. President Biden has also accused Russian troops of war crimes and has called for a human rights violation trial to take place against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Dig Deeper What other nations are part of the United Nations Security Council? Conduct some research to learn what these other nations have said in response to Zelensky’s speech.

American Women Quarters Program: 2023 Honorees

Last month, btw took a look at a new program called the American Women Quarters Program, which depicts trailblazing American women on the backs of quarters. The U.S. Mint now has announced the women who will be honored on the 2023 quarters:

pile of one quarter coins isolated on white
The famous women to be honored on 2023 quarters has been announced.
  • Bessie Coleman: the first African American woman to earn an aviator’s license
  • Jovita Idar: a teacher, journalist, nurse, suffragist, and civil rights activists who helped organize the First Mexicanist Congress and created one of the first known Latina feminist organizations
  • Edith Kanaka’ole: an award-winning composer, chanter, and entertainer who founded an internationally recognized dance company
  • Eleanor Roosevelt: first lady, author, reformer, and leader
  • Maria Tallchief: an Osage dancer who became America’s first prima ballerina

As was true of the 2022 quarters, the women being honored represent a variety of races and ethnicities. They also represent a range of artists, politicians, reformers, and innovators. Just as in 2022, the front of the quarters will show an updated version of the portrait of George Washington, designed by sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser.

Dig Deeper: Choose one of the trailblazing women featured on a 2023 commemorative quarter. Use Internet resources to learn more about her life and contributions. Write a paragraph to share what you learn.

The Forty-Year-Old Art Heist

His life is like something from a movie. Decades ago, a notorious art thief named Rene Alphonse van der Berghe (otherwise known as Erik the Belgian) stole thousands of priceless works of art from about fifty museums around Europe. He replaced the art with fakes that he had made himself. His copies were so good that many museums never realized that the originals had been stolen. It is believed that many of his knock-offs are still displayed in museums today.

In 1982, van der Berghe turned himself in. He shared the stories of his crimes in interviews with several newspapers. This helped authorities recover 1,500 pieces of stolen art. There was one notable exception. Van der Berghe stole several Belgian tapestries from a church in Castrojeriz, Spain, and when he returned them, he had cut a two-foot-by-two-foot square out of the bottom left corner of one of them. The missing piece of the tapestry, which was woven in the seventeenth century, showed a cherub.

Fast forward forty years, when a Spanish investigator named Angel Alcaraz took an interest in the case. Alcaraz learned about the van der Berghe theft while working on a report with national police about art theft. He reached out to van der Berghe’s lawyer for leads, and from there was able to track down the whereabouts of the missing square.

Van der Berghe passed away in 2020 at the age of 81. He wrote an autobiography, in which he explained that he never used violence to commit any of his robberies. Doing so, he said, would have tainted the art. In fact, his justification for taking the art in the first place was that he would take better care of it himself than the museums did. In his final years, he created original paintings, which he donated to convents, churches, and religious charities.

Dig Deeper Use Internet resources to write a paragraph about why art historians consider tapestries to be so valuable. What is the most expensive one in the world today, and how much is it worth?