Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Aug 19, 2022 in Stuff You Should Know

Colombia’s New President

Gustavo Petro was sworn in as Colombia’s new president on August 7, 2022. This inauguration was historic because Petro is Colombia’s first leftist president and he was a former member of M-19, an urban guerilla group which fought against the nation’s past authoritarian government. For more than fifty years, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has battled the Colombian government. The conflict began in 1948 as a bloody political war between liberals and conservatives. Eventually, the two sides joined together to form a single leftist rebel force that pushed for revolution. In 2016, a truce between the government and FARC allowed voters to take their attention away from the violence and focus more on poverty, government corruption, and other problems. The COVID-19 pandemic placed greater public attention on Colombia’s widespread economic inequality. It helped propel Petro’s candidacy. 

Petro, 62, has an ambitious agenda. He has promised to focus on economic inequality, the climate crisis, and the nation’s drug problem. He also wants to improve social services by ending tax breaks for the wealthy and for corporations. He plans to overhaul the police and lessen Colombia’s dependence on foreign coal and oil. Petro also wants to work with the rebel groups that still exist to achieve lasting peace. His commitment to greater equality began this weekend, with his inauguration. Usually, presidential inaugurations in Colombia are serious events limited to VIPs only. But Petro’s inauguration was very different, with large screens broadcasting the event in public parks in Bogota, Colombia’s capital, so that hundreds of thousands of people could take part. 

Dig Deeper Use Internet resources to learn more about President Petro’s goals as president. Write a paragraph about what you discover. 

Honoring a Community’s Service

Does your community have a statue or memorial honoring U.S. military service members? Hundreds of these memorials exist all over the country. Dominique Claseman, who lives in Olivia, Minnesota, noticed that his town did not have a memorial. So, Claseman decided to build a veterans memorial as his Eagle Scouts project. Claseman’s family has a long military history, so the project felt like a good fit for him. 

Claseman began by visiting other towns to research their memorials before designing his own. His original design included a cement walkway imprinted with boot prints, paving stones, a main stone, and flags. He estimated that this would cost about $15,000. He decided to raise the money by putting up flyers and speaking at events around town. (Eagle Scouts candidates aren’t allowed to use digital communications to fundraise.) Claseman was more successful than he could have hoped. He raised $77,777! That meant that the project could be even bigger than he’d originally planned. The new design features 280 engraved paving stones, flag poles, benches, and additional landscaping. The concrete pathway leading to the flag poles is imprinted with twenty-one boot prints, to represent the traditional twenty-one gun salute. It was unveiled to the public on Memorial Day, 2022. 

Dig Deeper The American Legion maintains a database of all  war, military, and veterans memorials in the United States. Visit the American Legion website and enter your state to find a list of memorials. Write a paragraph describing an imagined road trip to visit a memorial of your choice. Where is the memorial located? What does it look like? Why have you chosen this one to “visit”?

World War II Bomb Discovered in Italian River

Droughts aren’t unusual in the summertime, but in 2022, Europe has experienced an extremely severe drought. Italy’s Po River flows through a region experiencing its lowest water levels in seventy years. The Po River is now so low that a bomb left over from World War II was recently discovered on the bottom. 

On July 25, 2022, fishermen discovered the bomb on one of the many dry stretches of the river, near the city of Mantua. Following the discovery, three thousand people living nearby had to be evacuated. Railways, waterways, and even airspace in the area were shut down as well. Experts then removed the fuse from the bomb. The bomb squad transported the explosive to a quarry about thirty miles away, where it was safely detonated and destroyed. The bomb was manufactured in the United States. It weighed almost one thousand pounds and contained 530 pounds of explosive.  

Falling water levels in Europe this summer have led to other interesting historical (though less dangerous) discoveries as well. For example, Rome’s Tiber River dried up so much that the ruins of an ancient bridge were exposed to view. The bridge was built sometime during the reign of Emperor Nero, who ruled from 54 to 68 AD. 

Dig Deeper In the United States, falling water levels this summer led to the discovery of a World War II-era boat in California’s Lake Mead. Use Internet resources to learn more about this discovery. What kind of boat was uncovered, and what was it used for? Write a paragraph about what you learn.