US Government Releases Most JFK Files

The American government has released over 3000 documents relating to the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963.  President Trump, however, has ordered some of the documents with sensitive information to be held back for 6 months after a request from the CIA and FBI. In 1992 President George Bush signed a law that required all documents about the JFK murder to be released within 25 years.

The published documents have not provided any sensational new information on the JFK assassination. The public had  hoped that the released documents would bring more light into the former president’s murder. Experts say that the decision to withhold some of the documents suggests that the government wants to keep some things secret .

Many of the documents are incomplete and some are only memos. The files show how disorganised government agencies were during the 1960s and how they dealt with the assassination.

In a series of memos, the FBI reports on Lee Harvey Oswald’s visit to Mexico City, where he met with a Soviet agent shortly before the Kennedy was killed. The material shows that authorities were trying to find out if a foreign government – Cuba or possibly the Soviet Union – was behind Kennedy’s death.

There is still no evidence that there was a conspiracy to kill the president. Nothing suggests that Lee Harvey Oswald worked with a partner.  There are, however, FBI documents that warned the Dallas police about a threat against Oswald. Kennedy’s killer was shot dead at the Dallas Police Department two days after the Kennedy assassination.

Among the documents are reports that are only indirectly related to the Kennedy killing, for example CIA plans to murder Cuba’s Fidel Castro .

John F. Kennedy in the motorcade shortly before the assassination
John F. Kennedy in the motorcade shortly before the assassination

Words

  • agency = organisation or department in the government
  • agent = person who works for another government
  • assassination = the murder of an important person
  • authorities = organisation or department in the government
  • conspiracy = a secret plan made by two or more people to do something that is against the law
  • deal with = handle
  • decision = to do something after you have thought about it
  • disorganised = without a plan or system
  • evidence = proof that something happened
  • files = documents
  • foreign = from another country
  • former = earlier, in the past
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • incomplete = not having everything that should be there
  • provide = to give; make available
  • public = ordinary people in a country
  • publish = to make public
  • relating to = about
  • release = to make public for everyone to see
  • request = a formal demand for something
  • require = here: the law says you have to do something
  • secret = not for everybody to know
  • sensitive = something that you have to deal with carefully
  • series =  a few
  • sign = to put your name on a document
  • Soviet Union = largest Communist country that existed between 1917 and 1991
  • threat = when someone says that they want to harm or trouble you
  • withhold = to hold back; not release

Che Guevara Died 50 Years Ago

Che Guevara was a Marxist revolutionary who was a close aide of Fidel Castro during the Cuban Revolution. He was killed in Bolivia 50 years ago.

Che was born into a middle class Argentinian family   in 1928  and studied medicine in his youth. From the beginning he was influenced by left-wing ideas and strongly opposed the government of Argentine leader Juan Peron.

Instead of finishing his studies, the young rebel decided to travel around South America, where he witnessed widespread poverty  and oppression among the population. In the 1950s he travelled to Guatemala where he saw how the CIA helped overthrow a leftist government.

In Mexico, Che Guevara met Fidel Castro and his brother Raul.  Together , they planned to overthrow the pro-western government in Cuba. After Castro took power in 1959 , Che Guevara held some top posts in his government and also became Castro’s military adviser.  He strongly opposed the United States and its policies. Instead he tried to strengthen ties with the Soviet Union and spread socialism to Central America.

The Marxist revolutionary was sent to developing countries  in order to show  them how Cuban socialism worked. In Congo, he trained rebels to fight against government soldiers. Che Guevara was finally captured in Bolivia where he was  he was executed in 1967.

 

Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara
Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara

Words

  • adviser = person who gives you advice because they know a lot about a topic
  • aide = person who helps a politician or leader
  • capture = to catch a person and keep them as a prisoner
  • developing country = poor country in Africa, Asia or America
  • execute = to kill someone as a from of being punished
  • influence = to affect or change the way someone behaves or thinks
  • instead = in something’s place
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • Marxist = person who supports the ideas of Karl Marx.  He explained changes in history as a result of the struggle between social classes
  • oppose = to be against
  • oppression = when you treat a group of people in an unfair way and do not give them the same rights that others have
  • overthrow = remove a leader or a government
  • policy = the way a government plans to handle a topic or problem
  • poverty= the situation of being poor
  • revolutionary = person who joins or supports a revolution
  • socialism = system in which many industries are owned by the state  and rich people pay more taxes than poorer ones
  • strengthen = make stronger
  • take power = here: become a leader or the head of a government
  • ties = relationship with another country
  • widespread = all over the place
  • witness = to see something because you are there

Rohingya People Flee from Myanmar

More than half a million Rohingya have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in the past year. For ages, the people have been oppressed and discriminated against by the Myanmar government, which does not officially recognise them as a minority.

The Rohingya are a group of people without their own state. Living in western Myanmar, they have been denied citizenship, even though they have been there for ages.

The United Nations estimates that there were originally over 1 million Rohingya. Most of them are Muslim, a minority in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar.  They are among the most persecuted people in the world.

Since 2016, army forces have been carrying out attacks against the Rohingya. There have been reports that whole villages in western Myanmar  have been burned down as well as accusations of mass killings. Refugees arriving in Bangladesh also tell stories of  women being raped by soldiers.

Myanmar’s government says it is responding to attacks by rebel Rohingya groups. Officials say that the Rohingya are not being persecuted and  treated like other ethnic groups in the country.

The United Nations , Amnesty International and other human rights groups have called for a stop to what they call the ethnic cleansing of western Myanmar.

Rohingya Refugee Camp in Bangladesh
Rohingya Refugee Camp in Bangladesh –
Image: Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Words

  • accusation = to say that someone has committed a crime or has done  something wrong
  • citizenship = the right to belong to a certain country
  • deny = here: not give
  • discriminate against = to treat someone differently or in an unfair way
  • estimate = here: to guess how many there really are
  • ethnic cleansing = to make people leave a country because of their race , religion or culture
  • ethnic group = group of people who belong to a certain race , or who have their own culture, tradition and language
  • flee – fled = to leave a place very quickly in order to escape from a dangerous situation
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • minority = small group of people who live in a country
  • oppress = to treat a group of people in an unfair way and not give them the rights that other people have
  • persecute = to treat someone badly or unfairly over a period of time, because of their religion, or social status
  • predominantly = mostly
  • rape = to force someone to have sex
  • recognise = to officially accept
  • refugee = someone who has to leave their country because of a war or other dangerous situations
  • respond = react

 

 

90% Vote For Independence in Catalonia

Over 2 million people voted in Sunday’s referendum on whether Catalonia should become an independent state. The government of the province has claimed that over 90% were in favour of breaking away from Spain. Before the referendum took place , Spain’s Supreme Court ruled that the vote  was unconstitutional.

The Spanish government in Madrid sent thousand s of policemen and other security officers to Catalonia to stop people from voting. Police in Barcelona and other towns fired rubber bullets at protesters and tried to stop people from going to schools and other public buildings used as voting stationsHundreds of people were injured, many of them seriously.

About 7 million people live in Spain’s northeastern province. Catalonia has its own language and  culture. In the past decades it has received more and more autonomy. However, Catalonian separatists still want independence and their own country.  They say that the region is a rich part of Spain and keeps pouring money into poorer parts of the country. Catalonia is highly industrialised and represents about a fifth of Spain’s GDP.

The European Union fears that Catalonia may declare independence on its own and trigger a political crisis on the Iberian peninsula. This may lead to the rise of other nationalist movements, for example in Scotland or Belgium.

People protesting for an independent Catalonia
People protesting for an independent Catalonia – Image : Manifestació Som Una Nació, Nosaltres Decidim! 13

Words

  • autonomy = the right to have your own parliament and make some decisions on your own
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • decade = ten years
  • declare = to say officially
  • GDP = gross domestic product = the total value of all the goods and services that a country produces in one year
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • Iberian peninsula = southwestern part of Europe, made up of Spain and Portugal
  • independent = free
  • in favour of = to be for something
  • injure = hurt
  • nationalist movement = group of people who want to the region to become an independent state
  • pour = here: give
  • receive = get
  • referendum = when people vote in order to decide on a certain subject
  • represent = here: to have a share of
  • rubber = a soft material, usually used to make tires or boots
  • security officers = people who are responsible for the safety of others
  • separatist = person who wants to break away from his home country and become independent
  • Supreme Court = the highest court in a country
  • trigger = start
  • unconstitutional =  not allowed by the set of rules that a country is governed by
  • voting station = place or building where people can vote

 

 

Canada Plans to Legalize Marijuana

Canada plans to allow the limited use of marijuana for adults by the middle of 2018.  For some time now, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been promising  that he intends to legalize recreational marijuana. With the new law, Canada is joining  some US states which  have also voted to allow marijuana. It will become the second country in the world to legalize marijuana on a nationwide basis. A short time, ago Uruguay became the first country to officially allow its citizens the use of pot.

The Canadian plan will allow users to possess 30 grams of the drug and grow up to four plants at home.  While possession is to be  allowed , selling the drug without a licence will lead to up to 14 years in prison. The government has also set the age limit for buying and using marijuana in public to 18. It will also control producers and give special licences to sellers.

On one side , Canada’s government hopes that the new law will stop the spread of illegal marijuana. But it also wants adults to decide for themselves if they want to use the drug. Opponents of the new law state that the government is sending a message that marijuana is not harmful. Experts agree that pot may have a greater physical influence on your brain than tobacco.

According to a report recently released by UNICEF more teenagers in Canada use cannabis than anywhere else in the developed world.

 

A marijuana cigarette
A marijuana cigarette

Words

  • according to = as shown or said by …
  • agree = to have the same opinion about something
  • brain = organ inside your head that controls how you think, feel or move
  • cannabis = marijuana
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • developed world = rich countries of the world
  • drug = substance that you smoke or use to make you feel happy
  • harmful = dangerous
  • illegal = against the law
  • influence = effect
  • law = rule that a government has passed
  • legalize = to allow by law
  • limited = controlled, not in a great amount
  • marijuana = drug that is smoked like a cigarette
  • nationwide = across the whole country
  • officially = formally
  • opponent = a person who is against something
  • physical = about the body
  • possess = to have
  • pot = another word for marijuana
  • recreational = for pleasure or fun
  • state = to say officially
  • UNICEF = worldwide organization that helps children who are poor or suffer from disease , hunger etc.

Barack Obama First American President to Visit Hiroshima

Barack Obama has become the first American president  to visit Hiroshima.  During his recent visit to Japan he visited the city which was destroyed by the first atomic bomb.

Together with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama laid a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. In an emotional speech, Obama did not apologize to the Japanese people, but called the dropping of the first atomic bomb the biggest crime in human history. The American president demanded a world without nuclear weapons. The United States would also continue to stand by Japan, which turned from an enemy into an important ally in Asia. After the ceremony, Obama signed the guest book  and spoke with survivors.

About 140,000 people were killed on August 6, 1945 when in the first atomic bomb exploded over the city. An additional 70000 died when the second bomb was dropped over Nagasaki. Nine days later Japan surrendered and World War II ended. Tens of thousands died from radiation illnesses in the decades that followed.

Obama did not mention the 20 000 Korean victims, who were forced to work for the Japanese in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing.

Although visiting Hiroshima has been a very sensitive issue for past American presidents, polls revealed that most Japanese wanted Obama to visit the city.

 

Hiroshima Peace Memorial
Hiroshima Peace Memorial – Image by Oilstreet

Words

  • additional = extra
  • ally = a friendly country that you help
  • although = while
  • apologize = to say you are sorry for what happened
  • continue = keep on
  • crime = an action that is against the law
  • decade = period of ten years
  • demand = want, wish for
  • destroy = to damage completely, so that nothing is left
  • emotional = with strong feelings
  • force = make someone do something
  • lay a wreath = put down a circle of flowers at a place where people have died
  • memorial = an object or building that has been built to honor a person or a famous event
  • mention = talk about
  • nuclear weapon = a bomb that releases energy by splitting atoms; it can kill thousands of people and destroy whole cities
  • poll = a study in which people are asked about their opinion on a certain topic
  • radiation illness = here : people who became sick because of the dangerous energy that came from the bombs
  • recent = a short time ago
  • reveal = show
  • sensitive issue = here: something that you have to deal with carefully, so that you do not make others angry
  • sign = put your name on a document
  • stand by = support, help when it is needed
  • surrender = give up
  • survivor = person who managed to live on after the bombing
  • victim = here: people who died

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

Words

  • 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