Pfizer Forbids Sales of Drugs For Lethal Injection

The American pharmaceutical conmpany Pfizer has said it will no longer sell drugs that can be used for lethal injections to the Amercian government.  A total of 7 substances on the list are mostly used for operations and certain illnesses but are also in liquids used for executions. According to a Pfizer representative, the company’s aim is to save lives and not help kill people.

Pfizer says it will closely monitor buyers who try to resell the drugs to state institutions, which may use  them for executions.

After Pfizer’s decision , there are no more companies in the USA and Europe that sell lethal injection drugs to the Amercian government . The European Union  has banned the export of such drugs to the US.

As a result, state authorities are trying to find new drugs and combinations of substances that can be used for executions. Normally, three mixtures of drugs are used to execute a prisoner. The first one makes you unconscious , the second liquid paralyses the muscles  and the third stops the heart from beating.

In the past few years, the number of executions has decreased, in part due to the availability of lethal drugs. Last year only 28 executions were carried out in the US. Among the 32 states that allow capital punishment, all of them use lethal injections as the main method of execution but some allow the electric chair,hanging, the firing squad and the gas chamber as alternatives.

Human rights organizations and other groups opposed to capital punishment have welcomed Pfizer’s decision as a bold move to ban the death penalty in the United States.

Pfizer stops selling lethal injection drugs
Lethal injection room in San Quentin, California


  • according to = as said by …
  • aim = what someone wants to do or achieve something
  • authorities = group of people who make decisions and have power in certain areas
  • availability = the fact that something can be bought and used
  • ban = forbid, not allow
  • bold move =  action that shows a lot of courage
  • capital punishment = to officially kill a person who has committed a crime
  • combination = mixture
  • death penalty = to officially kill a person who has committed a crime
  • decrease = go down
  • drug = chemical that is used as medicine
  • due to = because of
  • execution = the official killing of a person by the state
  • firing squad = group of people who are ordered to shoot and kill a prisoner
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • human rights = the basic rights that everyone should have, like the right to vote or the freedom of speech
  • illness = disease
  • in part = partly
  • lethal injection = a drug that is injected into your blood stream; it is used to execute people who have committed  certain crimes
  • liquid = substance like water
  • main = most important
  • method = way
  • mixture = here: combination of liquids
  • monitor = watch closely
  • opposed to = against
  • paralyse = if a person cannot move arms or legs or feel anything
  • pharmaceutical = about producing medicine
  • resell = sell again
  • substance = here: drug, medicine
  • unconscious = if you are not awake and do not know what is going on around you
  • welcome = here: to agree with


Voluntourism – A New Trend in Travel

Volunteering to help people in need combined with travelling to faraway places is a new trend in the travel industry.It is called voluntourism. People travel to other countries, learn languages and other cultures and gain new experiences. On the other side, they volunteer to help others who are not as well off as they are.

Recent statistics show that in the past few years voluntourism has been one of the fastest-growing areas of tourism. More than 1.6 million people around the world are volunteers in other countries. They work in orphanages, help build schools, assist in hospitals and  do farming work in developing countries. Some of them establish lasting bonds with people far away.

While voluntourism has been around  for over a century, modern volunteering started with the  Peace Corps,  a program that the US government started in the 1960s.

There are many reasons why people want to engage in voluntourism. Students see it as a gap year after school, others simply want to take time out from a job and do something else. Then there are those who are bored and merely seek adventure. However, many voluntourists do not see volunteering as what it is. They think it is a cheap way of traveling and don’t really want to get involved in hard work.

Not everyone sees voluntourism in a positive way. Critics say that if people really want to help those in need there are many opportunities in their own community to do this. On the other side, volunteers are often not skilled enough for the tasks that they do. Travel experts point out that in some cases voluntourists are exploited by the organization that sets up the trips.

Job organizations urge volunteers to inform themselves about organizations and projects before applying for a job.  Serious development programs are mostly sponsored by international organizations.



International volunteer helps people in southern India – Image: Planète Urgence


  • apply = to write a letter or email stating that you want a job
  • assist = help
  • bond = relationship
  • century = a hundred years
  • combine = together with
  • community = neighborhood, town
  • developing countries = poor countries in Asia, Africa and South America
  • development = when something gets bigger or better
  • engage in = get involved in
  • establish = create , make
  • experience = learning something new by doing or seeing things
  • exploit = to use someone in an unfair way; to take advantage of a person
  • gain = get
  • gap year = year between leaving school and starting at the university
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • however = but
  • in need = if you don’t have the necessary things in life
  • involve = here: to be part of an activity or work
  • lasting = something that continues for a longer time
  • merely = just, only
  • opportunity = a chance to do something that you want
  • orphanage = home for children whose parents are dead or not able to care for them
  • point out = explain, show
  • recent = a short time ago
  • seek = look for
  • serious = here: good
  • skilled = having the abilities to do a job well
  • sponsor = to support an activity by paying for it
  • task = job, work
  • urge = strongly advise or suggest
  • volunteer = person who does something out of their own free will without getting paid for it

Laser Pointer Incidents on the Rise

Laser pointer attacks against aircraft pilots are on the rise. They are becoming a growing threat to passenger planes, especially during take-offs and landings. In the United States alone over 3000 laser pointer incidents are reported every year.

More and more commercial airline pilots have reported laser pointer attacks in which flashes of light temporarily blind their vision. A recent study has found that laser pointers can cause permanent eye damage to pilots as well as .

In February, a Virgin Atlantic flight to New York JFK had to return to London Heathrow because a laser light had been shone into the cockpit.  In the same month, Pope Franciscus’ flight from Cuba to Mexico was targeted by a laser beamer during landing. In New Zealand, there have been reports of rescue helicopters being targeted by laser pointers.

While in the past laser pointers only had about 1 milliwatt of energy , they have become much more powerful today. Laser pointers with a thousand milliwatts of energy  can be purchased on the internet for $30 or less.

Most attacks are carried out by young men or boys, who are often not aware of the dangers of laser instruments. According to psychologists, playing around with guns and other weapons is something that typically attracts males.

Laser pointers are normally used for presentations and outdoor entertainment, like laser shows. Astronomers use them to point at stars. Scientists have been using such instruments for various tasks.

laser pointer
Laser pointers with lights in various colours – Image: Netweb01


  • according to  = as said by ..
  • astronomer = person who studies the planets, the stars and the sky
  • attract = here: like to do something because it’s fun or interesting
  • aware = to know what you are doing
  • carry out = to do a job or an activity
  • cause = lead to
  • commercial = to do something for money
  • especially = above all
  • flash = to make something shine suddenly an brightly
  • incident = unusual or even dangerous event
  • male = man or boy
  • milliwatt = one thousandth of a watt
  • on the rise = increase, go up
  • psychologist = someone who studies the way people think and behave in different situations
  • permanent = something that lasts forever
  • purchase = buy
  • rescue helicopter = a helicopter that rescues people who have hurt themselves or are in other dangerous situations
  • scientist = person who has studied science and works in a lab
  • study = to learn more about a topic by studying information
  • target = here: an object you aim at and want to hit
  • task = job, piece of work
  • temporarily = for a short time
  • threat = danger
  • various = different
  • vision = the ability to see things
  • weapon = a gun, knife or another object you use to attack someone


India Wants Kohinoor Diamond Back

India wants the world famous Kohinoor diamond back from Great Britain. It denies that the diamond was given to the British East India Company by Punjab rulers. The Indian government has said that it wants to persuade Britain to give back the diamond. The 105 carat diamond is part of the Queen Mother’s Crown which is on display at the Tower of London.

The Kohinoor diamond was found in the mines of southern India, probably in the 13th century. After belonging to several warring groups in southern Asia, it finally ended up in Queen Victoria’s possession in the middle of the 19th century.

In the past few years India has made attempts to get back several historic items. Some historians claim that the Kohinoor diamond was taken away from India by force.  The large colourless diamond was cut in order to improve its brilliance.

It is not the first time that the Indian government has demanded the return of the Kohinoor diamond. Shortly after India became independent in 1947, the government made its first claim for the diamond . Several requests followed, one of them at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

In  2000 members fo the Indian government signed a petition demanding the diamond be given back to its rightful owners. Pakistan and Afghanistan have also claimed ownership of the diamond.

The Kohinoor diamond
The Kohinoor diamond


  • attempt = try
  • brilliance = brightness
  • by force = to use physical action to get what you want
  • carat = the weight of a jewel
  • century = a hundred years
  • claim =
    • to say that something is true
    • to say that something belongs to you
  • coronation = event at which someone is made king or queen
  • cut = here: to make something more beautiful by cutting it
  • demand = here: to want something back
  • deny = to say that something is not true
  • East India Company  = one of the many European companies that traded with India in the 17th and 18th centuries
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • historian = a person who has studied history
  • improve = to make better
  • independent = free
  • item = here: valuable object
  • mine = hole in the ground where coal and other minerals are dug out
  • on display = people can come and see it
  • ownership = the fact that something belongs to you
  • persuade = to try to make someone believe that what you want is good for them
  • petition = an official document signed by many people who want something to be done
  • possession = the fact that you have or own something
  • Punjab = large area in eastern Pakistan and northwestern India
  • request = politely asking for something
  • rightful owners = here: the people or country who the diamond belongs to
  • several = some, a few
  • sign  = to put your name on a document
  • warring = at war


Sadiq Khan Becomes London’s First Muslim Mayor

Labour Member of Parliament Sadiq Khan has been elected the new mayor of London with a stunning 57% of the popular vote. The 45-year-old Khan is the son of a Pakistani bus driver and the first Muslim leader of a large western city. He will succeed Boris Johnson, a Conservative who became mayor in 2008.

In his first speech after election Khan promised to be mayor of all Londoners and to unite citizens of all religions. In the campaign, Khan’s Conservative opponent Zac Goldsmith tried to discredit him by claiming he was friendly to Islamic terrorists.

Sadiq Khan, a liberal social democrat,  said he would tackle the major problems of the city, like housing, public transport and pollution. He also promised to make Oxford Street , one of the main shopping streets of the British capital, a car-free zone.

Sadiq Khan had been a human rights lawyer before he was elected to parliament in 2005. In 2008, he became transport minister in Gordon Brown’s cabinet.

London is one fo the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.  25% of all Londoners were born outside the UK  and about 12% are Muslims.

Sadiq Khan - London's new mayor
Sadiq Khan – London’s new mayor – Image: Steve Punter



  • cabinet = group of important people in a government who make most of the decisions ; they are led by the Prime Minister
  • capital = most important city in a country; where the government is
  • citizen = person who lives in a city or country and has rights there
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • cosmopolitan = with people from many different parts of the world and many social backgrounds
  • discredit = to say wrong and bad things about a person even if they are not true
  • elect = to choose someone for a top position in government or an organisation
  • housing = building places for people to live in
  • human rights = the basic rights that everyone should have, like the right to vote or say what you want
  • lawyer = person who gives advice about the law or defends people in court
  • mayor = person who is elected to govern a city or town
  • opponent = here: person from another party who also wanted to become mayor
  • popular vote = here: all the votes from the citizens of the city
  • promise = to say what you will do in the future
  • public transport = buses, trains, subways etc.. that can be used by all people
  • stunning = surprising
  • succeed = here: take the job after someone else
  • tackle = try to solve a problem
  • unite = bring together


European Central Bank Stops Printing 500-Euro Banknote

The European Central Bank has announced that it will stop producing the 500-euro banknote. It has become popular among money launderers, drug traffickers and terrorists, who move large amounts of money in small bags or briefcases. The banknotes that are in circulation now can continue to be used, but they will slowly be exchanged for smaller bills. The 500-euro banknote will be phased out completely by 2018. It can be exchanged at national central banks of EU states at any time after this date.

Such large banknotes are not so popular in many countries. In the United States, the largest banknote is the $100 bill . After World War II the US stopped producing $500 and $1000 bills.

Money experts welcome the decision by the EU’s main banking authority. They say that with smaller banknotes criminals  will find it more difficult to handle large amounts of money without being noticed.

500-euro banknotes are not used very much in everyday life. While many people are afraid of losing them, some shops do not even accept them. The 500-euro banknote accounts for 30% of the value of all euro banknotes but only 3% of all paper euros in circulation.

The discussion about large banknotes has been going on for  a long time. Especially after the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels many experts have called for a ban of large bills because terrorists may use them to pay for their activities.While there are many illegal ways of hiding and transferring money, using cash is among the most popular.


The 500-euro banknote
The 500-euro banknote


  • accept = take them
  • account for = to form the total of  something
  • amount = how much of something
  • announce = to say officially
  • authority = here: organisation that controls  something
  • ban = forbid
  • bill = banknote
  • briefcase = flat box used for carrying documents and business items
  • cash = banknotes and metal money
  • circulation = here: the money that moves around in a country
  • completely = altogether
  • handle = deal with
  • decision = choice
  • drug trafficker = person who buys and sells drugs
  • especially = above all
  • European Central Bank = the central bank for countries that use the euro
  • exchange = to give something instead of something else
  • illegal = against the law
  • main = most important
  • money launderer = person who moves money that has been made from illegal activities through other banks so that it is hard to find out where it came from
  • notice = to see or become aware of something
  • phase out = to slowly stop using something
  • popular = much liked
  • value = what somehting is worth
  • welcome = here: to be in favour if something

Is Craig Wright the Bitcoin Founder?

The Australian businessman Craig Wright has announced that he is the creator of the digital currency Bitcoin. He claims to be the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto who created the technology which Bitcoin is based on. Wright has always wanted to be anonymous but now has come forward because he does not want wrong information about his name to spread.

Journalists and the public have been hunting the Bitcoin founder for many years. Now it seems that they may have found him. Wright showed proof of his identity to the BBC and other media companies but says he will not show this proof to the public. BitCoin experts who have seen the evidence are satisfied that Wright is the Bitcoin founder.

The currency was launched in 2009. Since then it has become the world’s number one digital currency, worth a total of 7 billion dollars. With Bitcoin, customers can pay for things without the help of banks or national currencies. But because the currency is anonymous it has been popular among criminals, drug traffickers and speculators. Financial experts say that Bitcoin may change the world of money completely in the future.

If Craig Wright is the Bitcoin founder his fortune would be huge.He is thought to have about a million Bitcoins worth about $450 million.


Craig Wright is the Bitcoin founder
Bitcoin logo



  • announce = to say officially
  • anonymous = we do not know his real name or identity
  • billion = a thousand million
  • based on = something that leads to the start of something else
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • come forward = here: to say who he is
  • creator = person who has made something for the first time
  • currency = money that the people of a country use to buy things with
  • customer = person who buys something in a shop
  • digital = here: not physical; something that only exists as computer information
  • drug trafficker = person who buys and sells drugs
  • evidence = facts that show that something is true
  • fortune = the money and other valuable things that a person has
  • founder = person who created something
  • huge = very big
  • identity = who a person is
  • launch = start
  • mysterious = strange, not known until now
  • popular = liked and used
  • proof = facts that show that something is true
  • public = people in general
  • satisfied = pleased
  • speculator = someone who buys products, land, houses or other currencies in the hope of selling them at a higher price
  • spread = here: information that becomes known in many other places
  • worth = the value of something


Netherlands want to ban non-electric cars

The Netherlands have passed a law which will ban non-electric cars starting in 2025. New car owners would have to buy electric cars while old cars with diesel or petrol-driven motors could still drive on the roads. The government plans  to phase out these cars slowly. A majority of representatives in the lower house of parliament supported a motion to ban non-electric vehicles.

The Netherlands is already a country in which electric cars play a major role. They have a 10% share of the car market, second only to Norway where 22% of cars are electric. Last year, Dutch drivers bought 43,000 electric cars. However, most of the cars driven in the Netherlands are hybrid models. They would be banned by the new law. Now, the government wants to increase tax cuts for people who buy electric cars .

The Netherlands have been very innovative when it comes to green transportation.  The country opened the first solar road, a bike path that produces energy from solar panels. In addition, the Dutch energy company wants to introduce a train that  will be powered by wind energy.

Other cities and countries are also considering a ban of non-electric vehicles sometime in the future. One of the main questions, however,  is whether the Netherlands can ban the use of a car that is legally allowed in another EU state.

Car companies are working hard on changing the negative image of electric cars. For many people they are slow, expensive and unsafe. Carmakers hope that shorter charging times and a better range will help achieve a breakthrough for electric vehicles.

electric cars in the Netherlands
Electric cars at charging station in Amsterdam – Image : Ludhiana E. Moreira Sales and Mario Duran (Mariordo)


  • achieve = make, get
  • ban = forbid
  • breakthrough = here: if something starts to become really successful so that many people buy it
  • charge = to put electricity into an object so that you can use it agan
  • consider = think about
  • Dutch = from the Netherlands
  • government = people who rule a ocutry
  • green transportation = to use renewable energy for cars, buses, trains etc..
  • however = but
  • hybrid = here: car that uses both electricity and petrol
  • image = the way some people think about a topic or object
  • in addition = also
  • increase = make higher
  • innovative = using new methods or ideas
  • introduce = start something new
  • law = rules of a country , made by the government
  • legally = by law, officially
  • major = very important
  • majority = most of …
  • motion = here: suggestion made by a group of representatives in parliament
  • path = small road
  • petrol = liquid made from petroleum used to run cars and other vehicles
  • phase out = slowly stop using something
  • range = here: how far a car can travel without charging
  • representative = person who speaks for other people in parliament
  • solar = from the sun
  • solar panel = pieces of metal or glass that are used to get energy from the sun
  • support = to vote for something
  • tax cut = people get money back from the government when they buy something
  • vehicle = machine that uses wheels and a motor, like a car, truck, bus etc..
  • whether = if

Reducing Food Waste Helps Fight Climate Change

Reducing wasted food would probably help lower dangerous emissions into the atmosphere and slow down climate change, according to experts. Over 15% of  emissions from farming and agriculture could be avoided if we managed our food supplies better. About 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide comes from food waste.

A third of the food produced worldwide is never eaten. It gets spoilt during day-long transport or in shops. Huge amounts of food are also thrown away by consumers, who often buy too many things which they do not eat. While the demand for food per person has stayed the same in the last decades, more and more food is available.

Richer countries waste more food than poorer ones. According to farming experts,  more and more food is wasted in growing Asian economies, like India and China. As people become richer they also adopt to western eating habits.

It is not only important to waste less food but also to get food to the  places where it is needed, where people do not have enough to eat or farming conditions are bad.

Heads of governments and agriculture ministers from around the world have recently met to discuss ways in which food waste can be reduced. Currently, we are producing 20% more food than we actually need. With such a surplus we could feed another 1.5 billion people. On the other side, over 800 million people suffer from undernourishment.

Another suggestion mentioned by food experts is to cut back on eating meat. More meat is eaten in richer countries, thus producing more greenhouse gases because producing meat is more energy intensive.

Food waste
Food waste – Image: Muu-karhu


  • according to = as said by …
  • actually = really
  • adopt = get used to , change to
  • atmosphere = the mixture of gases around the earth
  • available = something that can be bought or used
  • billion = a thousand million
  • carbon dioxide = gas that is formed when carbon is burned or when people breathe out
  • climate change = changes in the world’s weather because it is getting warmer
  • condition = situation, method
  • consumer = person who buys something in a shop
  • currently = at the moment, now
  • cut back = reduce
  • decade = ten years
  • demand = need something that is sold
  • economy = here: state, country
  • emission = sending out dangerous gases etc… into the atmosphere
  • energy intensive = it needs more energy
  • food supplies = the food we produce and eat
  • greenhouse gases = the gases that get into the atmosphere like carbon dioxide ; they cause climate change and the rise of temperature
  • heads of government = the people who lead countries
  • huge = very large
  • lower = reduce , to make smaller
  • manage = deal with , control
  • mention = point out, refer to
  • recently = a short time ago
  • reduce = to make a smaller amount
  • spoil = when somehting is no longer good enough to eat
  • surplus = more than is needed
  • thus = that is why
  • undernourishment = situation in which people do not have enough to eat
  • waste = unwanted material




Leicester City – Underdogs Win Premier League

Leicester City have won the English Premier League title for the first time in the 132-year history of the club.  At the beginning of the season, the team was a 5,000 to 1 underdog after they had struggled to stay in the top division a year before.

For the first time in many years has a small club overpowered the top teams from Manchester and London.

The “Foxes“, as they are nicknamed, are a team without big names and international stars, but they managed to play consistently over the whole season. Two days before the final whistle, they clinched the title when Tottenham only played 2-2 at Chelsea.

While Leicester City, owned by Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, only invested 20 million dollars in new players, Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea spent hundreds of millions. Jamie Vardy, the club’s leading scorer, played in lower leagues and worked in a factory before he came to Leicester City. Now he is a member of England’s national soccer team.

Team manager Claudio Raneiri had a big part to play in one of the most remarkable victory stories of sports. Although the Italian coached teams in England, Spain and Italy he had never won a league title before.  With his tactics of a strong defense and quick offense Leicester City  became a team that could not be stopped.

The provincial club from the English Midlands will make about 200 million dollars next season from prize money , participation in UEFA’s Champions League and revenues from ticket sales.


Jamie Vardy - top scorer of Leicester City
Jamie Vardy – Leicester City’s top scorer – Image : Pioeb


  • although = while
  • billionaire = person who has billions of dollars, euros etc…
  • clinch = to finally get or win something
  • coach = to train a sports team
  • consistently = here: at the same level the whole season
  • defense = players who try to stop the attacking team from scoring a goal
  • division = league
  • final whistle = here: the final day of the season
  • leading = number one, the best
  • manage = to be successful in doing something which is not easy
  • manager = person who organizes and trains a sports team
  • Midlands = central part of England, once an industrial region
  • nickname = the informal name that you give to someone
  • offense = players who try to score a goal
  • overpower = to win against others by being stronger than they are
  • own = belong to
  • participation = here: to play in an event
  • Premier League = the top league in English soccer
  • provincial = from the country , away from the capital city
  • remarkable = unusual and very special
  • revenue = money you get from selling something
  • scorer = person who makes goals against the other team in soccer
  • struggle = fight
  • underdog = here: a team that has less money than other teams and which nobody expects to win