This Week in Words: Feb. 25 - Mar. 2, 2018

No time to scour the headlines or watch the news? No problem! We’ve rounded up the top words heard, read, debated, and discussed this week.

This week was a week when the consequences of previous actions and events reverberated. Satisfied with Xi Jinping at the helm, China has taken steps to abolish presidential term limits so that he may remain in power indefinitely. John Kelly was charged with putting the White House in order when he took over as Chief of Staff, and this week he curtailed Jared Kushner's access to top secret information. The protests that followed the tragedy in Parkland, Florida are having an effect. Dick's Sporting Goods has announced that it will no longer sell assault rifles. And after being Inundated with demands to end gun violence, several states are also exploring so-called "red flag" laws.

Take a look back at the week that was, vocabulary style.

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. momentous
    of very great significance
    China’s Communist Party has cleared the way for President Xi Jinping to stay in power indefinitely, by announcing Sunday that it intends to abolish term limits on the presidency, a momentous break with decades-old rules meant to prevent the country from returning to the days when Mao was shown cultish obedience. - The New York Times (Feb. 25, 2018)
    China is doing away with term limits for the office of President. This means that the current President, Xi Jinping, will be able to retain the office of president until illness or death prevents him from fulfilling his duties. Although China is rapidly modernizing in many ways, critics see this move as a step backwards for China, because without checks on their power like term limits, presidents can become dictators.
  2. refutation
    the act of determining that something is false
    The document was intended by Democrats to offer a point-by-point refutation of what it called the “transparent” attempt by President Trump’s allies on the committee to undermine the congressional and special counsel investigations into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible coordination with the Trump campaign. - The New York Times (Feb. 25, 2018)
    The Democratic memo refuting the GOP memo about the F.B.I.'s handling of the Russia investigation was finally released this week, after President Trump declined to allow its release several weeks ago. Even in the new, censored form, this memo suggests that the previous GOP memo was full of intentionally misleading assertions.
  3. discretion
    power of making choices unconstrained by external agencies
    The Trump administration argues that the DACA cancellation was a matter of policy discretion that the courts have no authority to review. -The Wall Street Journal (Feb. 26, 2018)
    After the repeal of DACA was blocked by lower courts, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to intervene and reverse the lower court ruling so the repeal of DACA could go into effect. The Supreme Court this week declined to intervene. Now the Trump administration's legal challenges will have to go through the same lower courts, a process that could take up to a year. During that time DACA will remain law, unless or until Congress comes up with a replacement for it.
  4. stave off
    prevent the occurrence of; prevent from happening
    High-protein diets rich in fish, meat and nuts may help to stave off Alzheimer's disease later in life, new research from Australia suggests. (Feb. 25, 2018)
    Australian scientists have found a link that suggests that eating a high protein diet can help prevent Alzheimer's Disease. Alzheimer's is thought to be caused by the overabundance of a certain protein in the brain that can form plaques, so it is interesting that a diet rich in protein can counteract the effects of this bad protein.
  5. scoff
    treat with contemptuous disregard
    On the other side, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has voted against unions in past related cases, scoffed at labor's argument that there is a difference between collective bargaining over government employees' pay and benefits, and unions' political activities, which nonmembers do not have to support. - The Chicago Tribune (Feb, 26, 2018)
    The Supreme Court heard a case this week that could decide the future of labor unions. The case hinges on whether a union can act as both a political entity, endorsing candidates, etc., and as a group that fights for its workers in, for instance, contract negotiations, where its function is not obviously political. In 24 states, unions can collect dues from even non-members because they fulfill the second, non-political function. The case before the court suggests that this is unfair.
  6. incendiary
    arousing to action or rebellion
    An incendiary report that North Korea has been providing Syria with material that could be used to make chemical weapons marks the merging of a pair of dangerous storylines involving two of the world's prime powder kegs. - The L.A. Times (Feb. 27, 2018)
    A report by the United Nations suggests that North Korea has been providing Syria with the raw material to make chemical weapons. Syria has been repeatedly accused of using chemical weapons against its own people in the ongoing civil war there. This report provides a link between two countries that the United States regards as dangerous and suggests that it is not just in terms of nuclear posturing that North Korea poses a threat.
  7. referendum
    a legislative act referred for approval to a popular vote
    Five other states — Connecticut, California, Washington, Oregon and Indiana — have passed similar “extreme risk” laws, sometimes known as “red flag” laws, having done so either in the legislature or by voter referendum. - The New York Times (Feb. 26, 2018)
    In the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, several states are pursuing tougher laws concerning who can have access to high powered guns. These laws, which seek to identify individuals who may be mentally unstable and on the verge of committing a violent act, are known as "red flag" laws. These laws deal with the mental health component of a tragedy like Parkland, rather than addressing gun access.
  8. induce
    cause to arise
    Rather, gluten induces an overactive immune response when it’s modified by the enzyme transglutaminase 2, or TG2, in the small intestine. - (Feb. 25, 2018)
    Scientists believe they have found the biochemical "trigger" that causes Celiac disease. Not only has the cause been located, but some preliminary progress has been made in "turning off" the trigger, which is potentially a cure for the illness. Celiac is an immune disorder in which the body reacts negatively to gluten, a substance found in breads and many, many other foods.
  9. inundated
    covered with water
    One law enforcement source said agents in two Washington-based squads tasked with completing background checks are " inundated" with "thousands of people" across the government who still require background investigations before receiving permanent security clearances. (Feb. 27, 2018)
    White House advisor and President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner has had his security clearance downgraded. He will no longer be able to view materials labelled "Top Secret." Chief of Staff John Kelly has instituted some changes in the clearance system, and Kushner being downgraded is a result. Although inundated originated as a term about being nearly drowned at sea, it is now regularly used to describe being overwhelmed by anything — homework, paperwork, phone calls, etc.
  10. helm
    a position of leadership
    He has our family's complete trust and is the perfect person to be at the helm of the campaign," he said. - USA Today (Feb. 27, 2018)
    President Trump has announced that he will run for re-election in 2020. The President promoted Brad Parscale , who ran his digital campaign in 2016, to Campaign Chairman, meaning that Parscale is in charge of the entire re-election effort.
  11. curtail
    place restrictions on
    Dick's Sporting Goods Inc., one of the largest retailers of its kind in the United States, is taking new steps to curtail the sale of firearms in its 700-plus stores, including ending sales of assault-style rifles and banning the sale of guns to people younger than 21, the company announced this morning. - (Feb. 28, 2018)
    In response to the Parkland shooting, Dick's Sporting Goods, one of the country's largest retailers, announced that it will no longer sell assault-style rifles or high capacity magazines. Dick's will also institute a policy that prevents people under 21 years of age from buying a gun in one of their stores, regardless of what the state law may permit. Walmart and L.L. Bean have joined Dick’s in not selling guns to anyone under 21.
  12. habeas corpus
    a writ ordering a prisoner to be brought before a judge
    The ACLU countered that few detainees have access to legal counsel and that a backlog of such habeas corpus petitions almost guarantees delays in winning release. (Feb. 27, 2018)
    A Supreme Court ruling this week held that illegal aliens in jail in this country do not have the right to regular bond hearings before a judge. In the past, non-citizens have been afforded some measure of Constitutional protection while they were in this country, but this ruling denies these prisoners bail while it is determined whether they are in the country legally. The Justices ruled that holding the prisoners is necessary for law enforcement to do its job.
  13. mystique
    an aura of heightened interest surrounding a person or thing
    She maintained one of the lowest public profiles of anyone to ever hold the job, declining to sit for interviews or appear at the White House briefing room podium. That mystique added to the outsize attention she received. - The San Diego Union Tribune (Feb. 28, 2018)
    White House Communications Director Hope Hicks announced that she will resign soon. Hicks recently testified before a Senate committee that she has told “white lies” for President Trump but never about Russia. Sources claim that Hicks’ departure is unrelated to her testimony. Hicks has been with the Trump team since the earliest days of his run for president.

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