A lot is happening in our world right now! Make sure you stay informed by reading about five of the top news stories from the past two weeks.
Snowstorm sweeps across Texas, leaving thousands without power. Last week Texas faced record-low temperatures and unprecedented levels of snow, which left many roads impassable. The record setting freeze caused gas lines to freeze, and prevented windmills from turning. The resulting energy crisis left millions of Texans without power all across the Lone-Star state. According to the Washington Post, there have been at least 58 confirmed fatalities caused by this week’s snow storm. The Texas government has since been able to return power to the state, but it will likely be weeks before we know the full impact of the snowstorm in the community.
FaceBook comes under scrutiny in latest free-speech scandal. On Friday of last week, February 19, Mark Zuckerburg and his company Facebook became embroiled in another free-speech debacle after the CEO blocked access to news in Australia across the entire country. This followed a law passed in Australia that would require platforms, such as Facebook, to pay publishers for using their news stories. Facebook claims “[The legislation] fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” while the Australian government argues Big Tech possesses too much power over the dissemination of information. Politico reported on Saturday that Facebook has reentered negotiations with the Australian government, but no agreement has been reached as to when Australian news will return to the site.
NASA’s Perseverance Lands Successfully on Mars. On February 18, 2021 the rover Perseverance touched down on the surface of Mars. For the first time ever, a high-definition video of Perseverance landing on the Martian surface is available to be viewed by the public. To watch the video, click here. The rover is slated to last two years on the surface of Mars, according to Space.com, and will continue to take photos and videos. Also, the Perseverance is outfitted with a microphone and will be the first to record sound from the surface of the Red Planet.
Massacre in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. In the latest horror story surrounding the Tigray region in Ethiopia, an Amnesty International report Friday confirmed hundreds of civilians were rounded up and slaughtered by a combined force of Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers in the town of Axum in November 2020. It began as an offensive to take the town of Axum from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. According to eyewitnesses, after the coalition forces pushed the rebels out of the town, the Eritrean contingent began widespread looting and killings. They gunned down civilians indiscriminately, leaving total destruction in their wake. This is the just the latest in a string of war crimes that have rocked Ethiopia since the beginning of the conflict on November 4, 2020. For in-depth coverage of the Ethiopian conflict, click here.
FDA Clears Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine. On Saturday, an AP report confirms the approval of the J&J vaccine one-shot vaccine which may begin distribution as early as Monday. The company claims that the vaccine is 85% effective in preventing serious COVID-19 symptoms across all ages. This vaccine will be the 3rd vaccine on the market that prevents COVID. It is also easier to store, lasting up to three months in the refrigerator instead of being frozen like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine (which comes as a relief to medical personnel). The vaccine is not quite as effective when it comes to preventing moderate cases of COVID-19. For more information, check out the AP and J&J reports hyperlinked above.