Five Things Friday: from the Winter Olympics to strikes

Andy Miah

Photo by Andy Miah on February 25, 2018 , Link to Original work: , Link to license: , As part of the closing ceremony for PyeongChang’s 2018 Winter Olympics, skaters danced in synch with the LED lights.

02/25/18: 2018 Winter Olympics come to a close

The 2018 Winter Olympics came to a close Sunday evening following months of tensions between North and South Korea. The ceremony attracted 35,000 people to the stadiums, including several notable figures such as President Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Some highlights of the closing ceremony included a 10-year old guitarist playing at the highest point of the slopes, musical performances by K-Pop artists CL and EXO, as well as North and South Korean athletes entering together under the unified flag. With 39 medals, Norway set a new record for the most number of medals earned during the Winter Olympics. Germany was second with 31 medals; Canada third with 29. Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympic Committee, called the 2018 Olympics a success: “We have seen here how sport can make the world a better place… The way in which the DPRK athletes have been received by their fellow athletes and by the crowds shows the Olympic spirit in action.”


02/26/18: Papua New Guinea suffers from 7.5 magnitude earthquake

Early Monday morning, the United States Geological Survey indicated that an earthquake hit 3:45 AM in local time near Porgera, northwest of the capital Port Moresby. The areas most affected by the earthquakes were the Southern Highlands and Hela Provinces. Much of the damage done to the country is largely contributed to subsequent landslides that destroyed homes, roads, power lines, and more. Several countries, neighboring Australia, have pledged to help respond to the natural disaster, but natural disaster organizations- like the American Red Cross- state that conditions make it very difficult to send volunteers to the most critical areas. There are at least 20 dead from both the initial wave and the aftershocks.


02/27/18: A breakthrough in the search for the universe’s fingerprint

A news report published to the magazine, Nature, on Tuesday stated that researchers have identified the “fingerprintof the universe’s first light as background radiation left on hydrogen.

“This is the first time we’ve seen any signal from this early in the Universe, aside from the afterglow of the Big Bang,” stated Judd Bowman, an astronomer at Arizona State University who led the study for the past 12 years. Following the Big Bang, astronomers and physicists believe that was a period- known as the “Cosmic Dark Ages”- of about 180 million of only darkness. As the universe continued to expand during this time, the ionized plasma created by the Big Bang began to cool to form neutral hydrogen atoms, which were eventually pulled together by gravity to ignite. This ignition formed the first stars, the “fingerprint” of the universe. The discovery was made at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, a radio telescope in Western Australia operated by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Keith Bannister, an astronomer at CSIRO, recognized that although there is much work to be done, this is the closest scientist have ever come to observing the moment of “cosmic dawn.”


02/28/18: White House Communications Director resigns

On Wednesday, White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks, confirmed that she will be resigning from her position. As Communications Director, she was responsible for leading the president’s media campaigns as well as promoting the president’s agenda to the public. Her resignation comes only a day after she revealed that she has told “white lies” during a testimony before the White House Intelligence Committee. Hicks has been working alongside President Trump since the beginning of his campaign for office in 2015. “She is as smart and thoughtful as they come, a truly great person. I will miss having her by my side but when she approached me about pursuing other opportunities, I totally understood. I am sure we will work together again in the future,” President Trump released in a written statement. Although it is not clear who will replace Hicks as Communications Director- which is currently fulfilled by a team of four individuals- Mercedes Schlapp has stepped in to lead the team.


03/01/18: West Virginia teachers still strike

West Virginia teachers continue to strike against the pay and benefits of public school teachers. The strikers believed that the state health insurance plan, Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), required them to pay premiums that were too high and protested to demonstrate their disapproval of the situation. After several considerations throughout the week,  the eventual bill proposed stated that teachers be provided a 5% pay raise the first year. Despite this, the problems associated with PEIA were not fixed, but Senator Mitch Carmichael explained concerns that the state did not have the money to pay for the proposed raise and fix PEIA. Without an agreement, the state public schools remained closed and the strike continued. “The No. 1 thing was we needed a permanent fix to PEIA… It wasn’t about the money at all. It was about the insurance fix,” stated Lori Hausvater, a math and special education teacher at Lincoln High School in Shinnston. As of Thursday night, all 55 counties in the state reported closing for Friday.