Porsche To Stop Production of Diesel Cars

German sports car maker Porsche has declared that it would no longer produce diesel cars, but instead concentrate on petrol-powered , electric and hybrid vehicles. It is the first German automaker to completely withdraw from the diesel car sector.

The company made the decision in the aftermath of the emission cheating scandal that hit Porsche’s parent company Volkswagen . In an interview, Porsche’s CEO Oliver Blume said that Porsche’s image had suffered due to the  scandal.

For luxury car manufacturer Porsche, the production of diesel cars has not been that important. In 2017 only 12 % of all Porsche cars produced were diesel-powered. The company has been making diesel cars for 10 years, but since February has stopped taking orders for them. It has never developed or produced any diesel engines of its own.

Porsche is also reacting to the fact that more and more European cities are considering a ban on diesel vehicles in an attempt to reduce air pollution. In addition, the demand for diesel cars is also decreasing.

Currently, the German car maker is investing heavily in new hybrid and electric car technology.  Next year it  will launch its first fully-electric sports car,  the TaycanBy 2025  Porsche expects that every second car it produces will be an an electric sports car.

 

Porsche Taycan
Taycan – Porsche’s first fully electric sports car – Image: Alexander Migl

Words

  • aftermath = the period of time that has passed after something important happened
  • attempt = try
  • ban = to forbid something
  • concentrate = focus on
  • consider = think about
  • currently = at the moment, now
  • decrease = go down
  • demand = the number of cars that people want to buy
  • due to = because of
  • emission cheating scandal = in 2015 the United States found out that Volkswagen had lied about emission tests on its cars
  • declare = to say officially
  • heavily = a lot
  • hybrid = here: car that has a petrol engine and an electric motor
  • in addition = also
  • launch = to start selling
  • petrol-powered = engine that runs on petrol instead of diesel
  • reduce = lower ; make something go down
  • suffer= here: to be in a difficult situation
  • vehicle = car
  • withdraw = here: to stop production

 

 

 

Mediterranean Migrant Crisis Causes More Deaths

The United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR has warned that migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Africa are putting put themselves in even more danger than in the past.

According to a UNHCR report, the number of refugees who have arrived in Europe has fallen while more of them have died on their trip across the Mediterranean. Over 1,000 people have died on the journey so far in 2018. The death rate is the highest since the migration crisis of 2015. One out of every 18 people attempting the passage have drowned .

The Mediterranean route leads from the Libyan coast  to Italy. Authorities in the northern African country are catching more and more traffickers who take  money to smuggle refugees to Europe. These smugglers try to get them to Europe as fast as possible in order to cut the costs of keeping them in warehouses and other hiding places for a longer period of time. However,they are also taking more risks due to increased Libyan surveillance.

While the EU has cooperated with Libya to intercept migrant boats, more and more organisations  are wiling to take the risk and bring people to Europe illegally

Migrants from all over Africa are arriving in Libya at an alarming rate.The EU has suggested opening up special migration centers in northern Africa in order to examine asylum applications .

EU member countries have not agreed on how to handle migration from Africa . Whereas states like Italy and Greece want to send migrants to other EU countries as quickly as possible, northern EU states suggest setting up migration centers in the south to control the number of asylum seekers.

 

Migrants rescued in Mediterranean sea
Migrants being rescued in the Mediterranean Sea – Image: Irish Defence Forces – https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfmagazine/18898637736/

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • alarming rate = very very fast
  • asylum application = if you officially say that you want to come to another country because you are in danger in your own
  • asylum seeker = person who wants another country to let them live there  because they are in danger at home
  • attempt = try
  • authorities = government organisation that has the power to make decisions
  • cooperate = work together
  • cut = lower, bring down
  • drown =to die from being under water for too long
  • due to = because of
  • examine = look at something very carefully
  • handle = deal with
  • however = but
  • illegal = against the law
  • increased = higher, more
  • intercept = to stop someone that is going from one place to another before they get there
  • journey = longer trip
  • Mediterranean Sea = sea between Europe and Africa
  • migrant = someone who goes to another country in order to live or work there
  • passage = here: journey
  • refugee = someone who has to leave their country because of war, natural disaster or because of political reasons
  • smuggle = to take something illegally from one country to another
  • surveillance = when police watch a place carefully  because it may be connected with criminal activities
  • trafficker = here: person who brings people from one country to another illegally
  • UNHCR = United Nations High Commission for Refugees = organisation that deals with helping and supporting refugees all over the world
  • warehouse = large building where you can store goods and products for a longer time
  • whereas = while

Jakarta – A Sinking City

The Indonesian capital Jakarta is in danger of sinking . According to a new report by environmentalist groups the city could be completely submerged by 2050. Jakarta is one of the most densely populated cities in the world – home to about 10 million people.

Jakarta is sinking at an average of 10 cm a year and , currently, half of it is already below sea level. Even more alarming, the luxurious northern part of the capital, with its modern buildings and high-rises has sunk by 2.5 meters in the past decade.

Sinking is partly due to the 13 rivers that flow through the Indonesian capital. Torrential rainfall in the monsoon season causes flooding on a regular basis.

In addition to natural causes, part of the problem is man-made. The city does not have enough piped water for its growing population. Authorities can only supply about 40% of the clean water that the city needs. Many people draw water out of the ground for drinking and other purposesAs a result the land above the ground water sinks. 

As in many Third World cities, infrastructure cannot keep up with the growing population. There are not enough sewers and a lack of pipes for the city’s water supplies. Indonesian authorities are now considering evacuating and relocating millions of people if the city continues to sink.

Global warming is also playing its part in Jakarta’s dilemma.  As ocean levels are rising more and more water is being forced into the city, causing rivers to sometimes flow upstream. Plans are under way to build a sea wall to keep ocean water out of the city.

 

polluted river in Jakarta
Boy takes a bath in a polluted river in Jakarta – Image : Jonathan McIntosh

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • authorities = group of people in the city who have the power to make decisions
  • average = here: in a normal year
  • capital = the most important city in a country; usually where the government is
  • cause = lead to
  • consider = think about
  • currently = at the moment, now
  • decade = ten years
  • densely populated = many people live on a small area of land
  • draw = pull
  • due to = because of
  • environmentalist = person who cares about nature
  • evacuate = here: to move people to a safer area
  • force = the power with which something moves
  • global warming = the increase in the world’s temperatures
  • high-rise = tall building with many floors
  • in addition = also
  • infrastructure = the basic systems that a city or country needs in order to work the way it should: for example roads, hospitals, bridges, public transport etc…
  • lack = not enough
  • natural causes = here: problems that are caused by nature
  • partly = some of it, but not all of it
  • piped water = clean water that runs through tubes to people’s homes
  • purpose = for something you want to do
  • relocate = to move a person to another place
  • sea level = the normal height of the sea, used as a standard for measuring other objects
  • sewer = pipe under ground that carries away waste material and dirty water from houses and factories
  • submerge = to cover completely with water
  • supply = give to the people
  • torrential rainfall = very very heavy rain
  • upstream = in the opposite direction of the way a river normally flows

NASA Parker Probe On Journey To The Sun

The US space agency NASA has launched a space probe to get closer to the sun than any other spacecraft before it . The mission to the sun is named after Eugene Parker, a scientist who discovered solar winds in 1958.

The mission’s aim is to fly through the corona, the sun’s outer atmosphere, and find out more about how it’s made up and why it is many times hotter than the sun’s surface.

The spacecraft should also help scientists  better understand  solar winds. These streams of  charged particles can reach the earth’s magnetic field and cause the disruptions of communications , GPS systems and may also interfere with satellite navigation.

The Parker probe will get to within 6 million km of the sun’s surface, much closer than Helios-2, which traveled to within 43 million kilometers of the sun in 1976. It is planned to make 24 orbits around the sun within the next 7 years. Reaching almost 700,000 km an hour, the probe will also be the fastest object ever to travel around the sun.

The solar mission will first orbit around Venus  and use its gravity to propel it into an orbit around the sun. It will then spend a few days orbiting the sun before returning back to Venus to prepare for the next fly-by.

NASA has faced many challenges before the Parker probe could start. It had to produce a light spacecraft that could travel at high speeds and still resist  temperatures of over 1300° Celsius.

 

Parker Solar Probe
Parker Solar Probe – Image: NASA

Words

  • aim = purpose, something that you hope to do
  • challenge = a difficult job
  • charged particle = tiny object that carries electricity with it
  • corona = the shining circle of light you see around the sun when the moon passes in front of it
  • discover = find out something that you didn’t know about before
  • disruption = to stop something from working the way it should
  • face = to put you in a difficult situation
  • fly-by = to fly past the sun or another planet
  • GPS = Global Positioning System = system that uses radio signals from satellites to show your exact position on earth
  • gravity = the power that pulls a planet to another one
  • interfere = here: cause something not to work the way it should
  • launch = start into space
  • magnetic field = an area around the earth that has magnetic power
  • mission = trip to a place  somewhere in space
  • orbit = to move around
  • probe =object that is sent into space without any people on board
  • propel = push
  • resist = here: not to be damaged
  • scientist = person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • solar = about the sun
  • space agency = government organisation that controls space travel
  • spacecraft = object that can travel  in space
  • stream = line
  • surface = the top layer of an object

Australia’s Population Reaches 25 Million

According to the country’s  census office Australia’s population has crossed the 25 million mark, almost a decade earlier than expected. Last year the population rose by almost 400,000, since 1970 it has doubled.

Since the end of World War II Australia has recorded a steady growth rate of 1.6% per year.  While natural increase makes up only 38% over 60% of the country’s growth comes from immigration. The Bureau of Statistics estimates that Australia will add another million to its population in three years time.

Australia attracts hundreds of thousands  of immigrants every  year. In the last two decades most of Australia’s newcomers have come from India, China , Great Britain and the Philippines. Today, over one third of Australia’s population  were not born in the country.

As in many other western countries, some politicians have called on the government to curb  immigration.  They argue that the rapid increase puts stress on infrastructure, demanding more schools, hospitals and public transportation. However, it also leads to a higher growth for Australia’s economy. Immigrants pay taxes and work in areas that Australians avoid.

One of the big problems is getting immigrants to move to rural areas, where there is already a shortage of skilled workers Eight out of ten Australians live in coastal regions . Melbourne and Sydney, the two largest cities of Australia, make up about 40% of the population. Much of the so-called outback is sparsely populated.

 

Country of Birth of Australian Residents
Country of Birth of Australian Residents – Image : Saruman-the-white

Words

  • according to = as said by, as reported by …
  • argue = give reasons for something
  • attract = here : to make something interesting so that people go there
  • avoid = don’t want
  • census office = place that is in charge of how the country officially counts its people
  • demand = need
  • doubled = to become two times as much
  • estimate = to calculate something in the future, based on the information that you have
  • cross = reach, move over
  • curb = slow down
  • immigration = when people go to another country in order to live and work there
  • natural increase = here: number of people who are born in the country minus those who die
  • newcomer = person who starts living in a new country
  • outback = the inner part of Australia ,  far away from the big cities
  • politician = someone who works in the government or in a political party
  • public transportation = trains, buses etc.. that everyone can use
  • put stress on = here: there is not enough for the growing number of people to use; you need more and more
  • rapid = fast
  • record = to write down information
  • rise – rose = go up
  • rural = in the countryside
  • shortage = not enough
  • skilled workers = someone who does something special they have learned through training
  • sparsely = only very few people
  • steady = slow but without stopping
  • tax = the money you pay to the government from what you earn; it is used for public services

 

 

Apple Worth 1 Trillion Dollars

Apple has become  the first US company to reach a market value of 1 trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) . The hi-tech firm has beaten  its rivals Microsoft, Google  and Amazon to pass the magical mark. Apple’s stock is now worth $207 per share, an all-time high. If it were a country, Apple would rank 17th in the world, on par with Indonesia.

Before Apple, only China’s oil giant PetroChina made it over the 1 trillion dollar  mark  back in 2007.  It’s value declined sharply shortly afterwards when oil prices collapsed.

Apple was founded in 1976 in a California garage by Steve Jobs. In the first two decades the company was famous for producing computers. Later on Apple developed its revolutionary MP3 player, the iPod, which also saved the company from bankruptcy 20 years ago.

The iPhone, the world’s first smartphone, was introduced in 2007 and has become the company’s flagship product. Up to now over 1.3 billion iPhones have been sold. Although Apple is currently selling fewer new models, sales and profits are rising. It is also making money by selling music and apps.

In 2017, Apple  has made profits in the range of $50 billion, selling over $220 billion worth of products .

Apple may soon be joined in the 1 trillion dollar club by other hi-tech giants . Amazon and Microsoft are close to the mark and may be passing it soon.

 

Apple headquarters in Cupertino , California
Apple headquarters in Cupertino , California – Image: Daniel L. Lu

Words

  • all-time high = the highest point ever reached
  • although = while
  • bankruptcy = situation in which you have no money left and cannot pay back what you owe to others
  • collapse = here: to go down very quickly
  • close = near
  • currently = at the moment
  • decade = ten years
  • decline = to go down very fast
  • develop = to design and produce a new product
  • flagship = the best and most important product
  • found- founded = here: to start a new company
  • introduce = here: to bring to the market
  • join = to be together with others
  • market value = what a company is worth on the market
  • on par = on the same level
  • profit = the money you get by selling products and services after  your costs have been paid
  • rank = position
  • reach = get to a certain point
  • revolutionary = something completely new and different
  • rival = another company that wants to be more successful than you are
  • share = a part of a company that belongs to you
  • stock = the total value of all the company’s shares
  • value = what something is worth

East African Rift is Growing Quickly

A large crack in the surface of the earth, several kilometres long,   has caused a highway to collapse in Kenya. The area lies on the East African Rift, where the Arabian and African plate meet.

The earth’s crust is broken up into several tectonic plates which are constantly on the move, gliding towards or against each other at various speeds. When these plates collide energy is set free, resulting in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The East African Rift stretches over 3000 km from the Gulf of Aden in the north to Zimbabwe in the south.  It consists of several valleys that are filled with long lakes. Because the two plates are moving away from each other Eastern Africa will be separated from the rest of the continent.

A rift is the first phase of a plate that is breaking apart. After millions of years, it can lead to the formation of a new ocean.  A well-known example is a separation of Africa and South America and the creation of the Atlantic Ocean.

Where the earth’s plates move away from each other magma plumes come up through the mantle and cause volcanic activity. Forces are so strong that the plate breaks apart and causes major earthquakes. In many cases, plates move slowly, at a rate of only  a few cm per year and most of the time we don’t notice these movements.

East African Rift from outer space
East African Rift from outer space – Image: Christoph Hormann

Words

  • at a rate = how fast something happens
  • collapse = fall apart; break down
  • collide = crash into each other
  • consist of = is made up of
  • constantly = always
  • crack = a line that you see when something starts to  break apart
  • crust = the hard, outer layer of the earth
  • forces = here: the power or strength of an activity
  • formation = when something new is created
  • earthquake = a sudden shaking of the earth’s surface that can cause a lot of damage and kill people
  • eruption = if something  breaks out suddenly
  • glide = move slowly and quietly
  • magma plumes = hot melted rock from the inner part of the earth which comes to the surface
  • major = here: very strong
  • mantle = part of the earth below the crust
  • notice = to see something happen; to be aware of something
  • resulting in = something that leads to something else
  • separate = divide, split apart
  • several = a few
  • stretch = to spread from one place to another
  • surface = here: the top layer of the earth
  • tectonic = about the movments of sheets of rock that form the earth’s surface
  • various = different

 

Winnie Mandela – South Africa’s Mother of the Nation

Winnie Mandela was a female South African activist who fought against Apartheid, together with her husband, South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela. She died at the age of 81  in her home in Soweto, Johannesburg after a long illness.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was born in 1936  in the Eastern Cape province, which at that time was the homeland of Transkei. In her early life, she was a social worker in a hospital.

In the 1950s she met Nelson and married him in 1958. When her husband was imprisoned in 1963 it was Winnie who led the movement against Apartheid. For over two and a half decades she campaigned for his release. During this period Winnie Mandela was her husband’s link to the outside world.

Winnie was a prominent member of the African National Congress and the head of its Women’s League. When Nelson Mandela was released from Robben Island, it was the “Mother of the Nation”, as she was often called, who marched with him to freedom.

Shortly afterwards, the couple separated and divorced in 1996, two years after Nelson Mandela had become South Africa’s first black president.

Winnie Mandela continued her political career and became a deputy minister in the first post-Apartheid government. She was a member of parliament for several years.

However, Winnie was also a controversial figure and involved in many scandals. During the final years of Apartheid, she was accused of violence and blamed for killing and kidnapping informers in Soweto. She was sentenced to six years in prison, which was later turned into a fine.

After her death on 2 April 2018, politicians and human rights activists from all over the world praised South Africa’s most famous woman. Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu admired her as a revolutionary figure in his country’s history. The African National Congress said that the party had lost an icon.

 

Winnie Mandela - South Africa's Mother of the Nation
Winnie Mandela – South Africa’s Mother of the Nation

Words

  • accuse = to say that someone committed a crime
  • activist = a person who fights for something they believe in
  • African National Congress = political group that fought for the rights of black people in South Africa. It’s most famous leader was Nelson Mandela.
  • Apartheid = political system in South Africa, in which only white people had rights and people from other races, especially blacks, had to live separately; it existed between 1948 and 1990
  • blame = to be responsible for something
  • continue = to go on doing something
  • controversial = here: not everyone liked her and she also did bad things
  • deputy minister = person who is directly below the minister
  • divorce = to end a marriage
  • fine = to pay money as a form of punishment
  • freedom = being free and not in prison anymore
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • homeland = separate areas within South Africa where black people had to live
  • human rights = rights that everyone should have, like the right to vote or the freedom to speak freely
  • icon = someone who is famous and admired by many people
  • illness = being ill
  • imprison = put into prison
  • informer = someone who secretly tells the police about things that are going on
  • movement = campaign ; fight for beliefs and ideals
  • post-Apartheid = the time after Apartheid
  • praise = to admire a person for what they have done
  • prominent = famous; well-known
  • release = set free
  • revolutionary = here: a person who wants to change the system
  • Robben Island = famous prison island off the southern coast of South Africa
  • sentence = punishment that a judge gives to  someone who is guilty
  • shortly afterwards = a short time later

Malala Yousafzai Returns To Pakistan

Malala Yousafzai, a 20-year-old female human rights activist, has returned to Pakistan for the first time since being shot by Taliban extremists. She was attacked and shot in the head on a school bus in 2012 because she had been demonstrating for western values and more education for girls. Malala kept a diary about girls’ life under Taliban rule. It was turned over to the BBC and made public.

Yousafzai’s arrival in Pakistan and her itinerary of the four-day visit was kept secret by Pakistani police. Ms Yousafzai said that it had been her wish to come back to Pakistan and speak with ordinary citizens there.

After the attack six years ago Malala Yousafzai was transported to the UK where a bullet was removed from her head. She recovered fully and is now studying at Oxford University.

In 2013 Yousafzai appeared before the United Nations, where she received standing ovations for her courageous action. In 2014 she became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Since then the young activist has been the figurehead of the Malala Fund, an organisation which raises money to help girls and young women in need of education.

Yousafzai’s return to Pakistan has not been welcomed by everyone. Although she has many supporters in her home country Pakistan, the country’s male-dominated society has criticized her for actively fighting for female rights.

Especially fundamentalists and conservative men are against her and have organised hate campaigns on the internet. Many say that women do not need education and should maintain their traditional role in the household.

 

Malala Yousafzai in 2015
Malala Yousafzai in 2015 – Image: Simon Davis/DFID

Words

  • actively = here: not just talking but doing something  or taking action
  • although = while
  • appear = here: to hold a speech
  • arrival = when you come to a place
  • attack = to hurt someone with a weapon
  • bullet = small piece of metal that comes out of a gun when you shoot
  • citizen = person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • courageous = brave
  • demonstrate = to protest for or against something in front of many people
  • especially = above all
  • figurehead = someone who is the leader of a movement or organisation
  • fully = completely
  • fundamentalist = someone who follows religious laws very strictly
  • extremist = someone who has very radical opinions about politics and society
  • hate campaign = things that a person does in order to harm someone they don’t like
  • human rights activist = a person who fights for basic rights that everyone should have
  • in need of = who need
  • itinerary = a list of things you want to do or places you want to visit
  • maintain = keep up
  • make public = publish; show to everybody
  • male-dominated society = country where men are more important than women and have more power
  • Nobel Peace Prize = prize that is given each year to a person who has done important work to make the world a safer and more peaceful place
  • ordinary = normal
  • raise = collect
  • receive = get
  • recover = to get well again
  • remove= take out of …
  • rule = government
  • secret = here: known only to a few people
  • standing ovations = people get up and clap their hands loudly to show that they like what you have said or done
  • supporter = person who wants to help you and shares your opinions
  • Taliban = group that took control of most of Afghanistan in 1997. They are known for following Islam very strictly.
  • traditional role = here: what they have always done
  • welcome = to be glad about something
  • western values = the way people in western countries live and what they think is good  or bad

 

 

 

MH370 – A Plane That Went Missing 4 Years Ago

One of the greatest mysteries of aviation history happened on March 8, 2014. Four years ago Malaysia Airlines MH370 went missing on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The plane left its programmed flight path and headed south towards the Indian Ocean. During the last four years, several search teams have tried to locate the missing plane, but up to now, it hasn’t been found.

The Malaysian Boeing 777 with 239 passengers on board disappeared from ground station radar screens but flew on for another six hours.  Nobody knows what happened during this time. The last known location of MH370 was somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean near Australia. A few parts of the plane were washed up on Africa’s east coast and on islands in the Indian Ocean

Australia, China and Malaysia have taken part in hi-tech search operations that covered a total area of 120,000 square kilometres and cost  $200 million. Now, another search is being conducted by an American firm.

Investigators speculate on what may have happened on board MH370. Some experts state that there may have been some kind of mechanical failure while others consider a sudden loss of oxygen in the cabin and cockpit. Officials do not rule out the possibility of the pilot crashing the plane deliberately in unknown waters.

Aviation inspectors say that it is important to find out what happened to MH 370 in order to prevent such an accident from happening again.

 

Search operation for MH370
Search operation for MH370 – Image: US Navy

Words

  • aviation = the science of flying an airplane
  • conduct = carry out
  • consider = think about
  • cover = stretch = reach from one place to another
  • deliberately = on purpose; if you really want to do something
  • disappear = here: to be lost; not seen
  • firm = company
  • flight path = the course an airplane takes
  • ground station = here: building that watches and has contact with planes
  • head = to go in a certain direction
  • inspector = person who checks to see if something is done the way it should be
  • investigator = person who has the job of finding out what caused the accident
  • hi-tech = with the best and most modern technology
  • locate = to find out where something is
  • loss = to lose something
  • mechanical failure = an object or a machine on board the plane did not work the way it should have
  • official = person in a high position in an organisation
  • oxygen = element that is in the air and which we need to breathe
  • possibility = here: something may have happened
  • prevent = stop from happening again
  • programmed = here: the course it should have taken, according to flight computers
  • radar = machine that uses radio waves to find where something is and watch its movements
  • several = some
  • speculate = to guess about the possible causes or effects of something without knowing all the facts and details
  • sudden = something happening quickly
  • unknown = not known
  • wash up = when something drifts from the open sea to the coast