Sidewalk Toronto – City of the Future in Canada

Sidewalk Labs, a Google company, has announced  plans to build a futuristic city in Toronto, Canada. The new urban area, called Sidewalk Toronto, aims at turning the waterfront of Lake Ontario into a playground for city development and a testing site  for new technologies.

The project wants to make cities cheaper, healthier and even more exciting to live in .  The new city will offer its residents ultra-fast WiFi connections, lanes for self-driving cars and sustainable energy sources.  Thousands of sensors will report pollution and noise levels, as well as monitor traffic and levels of carbon monoxide.

Planners of Sidewalk Toronto want to find new solutions for  overpopulation, waste management , traffic , pollution and other urban problems. Several companies have said that they will make their services  available to the new city. 

Planners estimate that the project will cost around 1 billion dollars. However, it will also offer tens of thousands of people a place to live, work  and have fun. Eventually, similar projects may spread to other parts of the world, helping to build smarter and greener  cities.

Google has also announced that it plans to move its Canadian headquarters to Sidewalk Toronto.

 

 

 

Skyline of Toronto from Lake Ontario
Skyline of Toronto from Lake Ontario – Image: George Socka

Words

  • aim = wants to , plans to
  • announce = to officially say something in public
  • available = here: something that people can use
  • carbon monoxide = poisonous gas that produces carbon when it is burned
  • development = to become bigger, more modern and advanced
  • estimate = think about how much something will cost
  • eventually = as time goes on, slowly
  • futuristic = something  that looks unusual and very modern
  • headquarters = the main building or offices used by a large company
  • however =  but
  • lane = one of two or many areas on the road that keeps cars apart
  • monitor = watch, observe
  • overpopulation = too many people live on a small area of land
  • resident = here: a person  who lives in a city
  • services = work or help that a company gives you
  • similar = almost the same
  • solution = way of dealing with a problem
  • spread = move to another place
  • sustainable = something that can be used without causing danger to the environment or nature
  • urban = about a city
  • waste management = way of getting rid of unwanted materials and dirty water
  • waterfront = part of a city or town that is next to the sea or lake
  • WiFi connection = connecting computers and other machines to the Internet by using radio signals

 

Estonia – A Digital Society

Estonia is a small Baltic state with a population of 1.3 million. Despite its size it is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world and has been creating a digital society since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

In Estonia, citizens are allowed to do most things online.  Every inhabitant has a unique ID card that they use for a number of purposes.They can file tax returns, get medical prescriptions  and manage their health records online. They can pay for a parking ticket via mobile phone and don’t have to go to a registration office when a child is born. Parents can check their children’s grades  and communicate with teachers. For many years Estonians have been able to vote online.

In 2014 the small Baltic country started a new digital initiative. It allows non-citizens to become digital residents for 100 euros. The government wants to bring qualified people to the country because the working population is steadily decreasing. The country desperately needs new programmers, web developers and media experts. Up to now 20 000 people from other countries have applied for digital citizenship.

Many countries, among them Finland and Japan are trying to copy Estonia’s digital society. However, authorities point out that the country’s smallness is an advantage. Such a system may not work very well in larger countries with millions of people.

Digital Summit in Estonia
Digital Summit in Estonia – Image: Anna Piperal

Words

  • advanced = very modern
  • advantage = here: something that helps you to be successful
  • apply = to make a request
  • authorities = the people who are in charge of a government organisation  or department
  • Baltic = region in the northeastern part of Europe
  • citizen = person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • collapse = breakdown , end
  • create = make
  • decrease = go down
  • desperately = very much
  • despite = even though
  • file tax returns = here: to send information  on how much you have earned to the local government; it then tells you how much tax you have to pay
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • health records = information about your health
  • however = but
  • ID card = small plastic card that has information about a person
  • inhabitant = a person who lives in a country
  • initiative = a new plan
  • point out = to show something that is important
  • population = the number of people living in a country
  • prescription = a piece of paper on which  the doctor writes down what medicine a sick person should take
  • purpose = what something is needed for
  • qualified = with special skills and talents
  • registration office = place where you have report to when a baby is born or someone dies
  • resident = a person who officially lives in a country
  • society = people in general and the way they live and work together
  • size =how large the country is
  • smallness = not large in size
  • Soviet Union = largest Communist country that existed between 1922 and 1991
  • steadily = slowly
  • unique = being only one of its kind
  • via = by way of , through

 

Where Did Easter Island Inhabitants Really Come From?

Easter Island , or Rapa Nui as the natives call themselves , belongs to the remotest  places on earth.  The Chilean island, famous for its carved statues,  is located in the middle of the southern Pacific Ocean.

For decades, scientists have been wondering how the natives got to the island before the first Europeans came in 1722. Most experts think that the first settlers came to Easter Island  at around 1200 A.D. , probably on small boats  crisscrossing the Pacific Ocean. 

Other anthropologists have been trying to find out if the natives have any connections to early South Americans, three thousand kilometres away. Latest research now claims that the Easter Islanders were, in fact, more isolated than previously thought.

Scientists have been examining the skeletons and  bones of five people that go back hundreds of years. However, they have found no evidence that suggests they have might have ancestors in South America.

The first theory of South American ancestry came up when Thor Heyerdahl saw  sweet potatoes when he arrived there in the 1950s. He also found people using fishing tools that South Americans also used.  Scientists at that time thought the people of the Easter Islands may have sailed to South America and back again some time before the Europeans came.

 

Famous statues on Easter Island
Famous statues on Easter Island – Image: Horacio_Fernandez

Words

  • ancestor = a member of your family who lived a long time ago
  • anthropologist = a person who studies people , their cultures and where they come from
  • carved = to cut an object with a knife
  • claim = to say that something is true even if you cannot prove it
  • Chilean = from Chile
  • crisscross = to travel many times back and forth without a certain pattern ; zigzag
  • decade = ten years
  • evidence = facts that clearly show that something is true or exists
  • examine = to look very closely at an object
  • however = but
  • isolated = here: to be alone and far away from others
  • located = can be found
  • native = a person who was born in a country or place
  • previously = earlier
  • remote  = very far away from civilisation
  • research = the study of a subject  in order to find out new facts
  • sail =  the wind brings you somewhere on a boat
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • settler = a person who goes to live in a place where not many people have lived before
  • sweet potato = a vegetable that looks like a red potato ,is yellow inside and tastes sweet

 

Childhood Obesity Rates At All-Time High

Experts from the World Health Organisation say  that childhood obesity  has risen tenfold in the last four decades  and is at its highest rate since 1975.

Worldwide obesity rates have increased from less than  1% in 1975 to about 7% today. A total of 120 million children are considered to be obese, boys more than girls. The researchers examined data  that tracked the height and weight of over 30 million 5 to 19 year-olds in the last 40 years.

Obesity at a young age can lead to heart disease and diabetes as well as social problems like bullying and teasing . It also can affect the progress of pupils at school. Apart from that, the effects of childhood obesity are estimated to cost the world’s health care systems over $1 trillion in the next ten years.

While the increase in childhood obesity rates in developed  countries in Europe and North America has slowed down , it is still at a very high rate.  Children in middle and higher class areas are especially at risk because families have more money to buy unhealthy food.

Experts suggest that countries in which childhood obesity is increasing should think about measures like introducing a tax on sugary drinks  or unhealthy food. Schools should offer healthier products in their canteens and better labelling could help show consumers how much sugar, fat and salt products have.

On the other side, many children in poor countries remain underweight and malnourished. Countries with the highest number of underweight children include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. In southern Asia about 25% of all children are thought to be underweight.

The WHO claims that if the trend continues there will soon be more obese  than underweight children in our world.

Childhood Obesity
Childhood Obesity – Image: Robert Lawton

Words

  • affect = change
  • apart from … = also
  • bullying = someone who uses their strength  or power to frighten or hurt someone who is weaker
  • canteen = place at school where students get a meal or other food
  • claim = to say that something is true even if you do not have the facts to prove it
  • considered = people think that
  • examine = look at information very closely
  • data = information
  • decade = ten years
  • developed countries = rich countries in the world
  • diabetes = serious illness in which there is too much sugar in your blood
  • especially = above all
  • estimate = guess how  high something is by looking at the information you have
  • height = how tall a person is
  • increase = to go up
  • labelling = information on a product
  • malnourished  = if you don’t have enough food to eat
  • measure = action that the government takes
  • obesity = when someone is very fat in an unhealthy way
  • offer = give, provide
  • remain = stay
  • researcher = person who studies a topic in order to find out more about it
  • rise – rose – risen = to go up
  • tax = money you must pay to the government for products you buy
  • tenfold = ten times as much
  • track = to look at information about something over a certain period of time
  • trillion = 1,000 000 000 000 = one thousand billion
  • weight = how heavy a person is
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) = international organisation that helps improve health around the world by giving medicine and providing information about diseases

 

 

Japanese Woman Dies After Working Too Hard

Miwa Sado is a Japanese journalist who died in 2013 after working too hard. Her case became public this week after labour inspectors published a detailed report

The journalist worked 160 hours of overtime  a month and then died of heart failure.  She was working for Japan’s public broadcaster NHK and at the time of her death was gathering information on a Tokyo election

The death of Sado is expected to make the Japanese government more aware of the health risks involved in working too much. According to a survey, about one in five workers risk a critical health condition because of too much work . Now the government wants to limit overtime to a maximum of 100 hours a month and fine companies that do not comply.

In another case that became known, 24-year old Matsuri Takahashi, killed herself in 2015 after suffering from stress and working long hours for a a Japanese advertising agency.

Japanese employees , on average, work more hours than anywhere else in the western world. They also consume only a third of the holidays they are entitled to. Many Japanese work hard in order to show that they are loyal to their company.

In 2016, two thousand Japanese workers killed themselves  due to  stress and overwork. Many other died from stress-related diseases, suffering from heart attacks and high blood pressure.  The Japanese refer to such work-related deaths as karoshi

 

Too much work causes stress and illnesses
Too much work causes stress and illnesses

Words

  • according to = as reported by
  • advertising agency = company that designs ads for other companies
  • aware = when you know that a situation exists
  • blood pressure = the power with which blood flows through your body
  • case = here: what happened to her
  • comply = follow the rules and laws
  • consume = use up ; spend
  • critical = dangerous
  • due to = because of
  • election = when people vote to  choose someone for an official position
  • employee = person who works for a company
  • entitled = the right to have something
  • fine = money that you have to pay as punishment
  • gather = collect
  • government = the people who rule the country
  • heart failure = when your heart stops beating
  • labour inspector = a person who checks to see if companies obey the rules and the law
  • limit = here: not allow more than a certain number
  • loyal = here: to show that you are connected to a company
  • overtime = time that you spend working in addition to your normal working hours
  • public = known about by everyone
  • public broadcaster = TV company that belongs to the state
  • publish = to print something so that everyone can read it
  • refer = call
  • stress-related = coming from stress
  • survey = set of questions that you ask many people in order to find out what they think about a topic

Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban on Women Driving

The Saudi Arabian government has announced that  the country  will start allowing women to drive cars. The new law will be in effect starting in June 2018. At the moment, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that does not let women drive a car.  The driving ban has become a symbol of oppression in the kingdom.

In the past Saudi women have had to organize drivers to take them to places in everyday life. If caught  driving they risked  being arrested and were sometimes even punished. Women were not even allowed to have  a driving licence.

Countries around the world welcomed the step taken by Saudi king Salman ibn Abd al-Aziz. Many human rights groups have been fighting for women’s rights , including the right to drive, for years.

In the last few years, the Middle Eastern kingdom has been slowly granting women more rights in an attempt to open up to Western society. In 2015 , women, for the first time were allowed to vote and be candidates in local elections. Recently, the government announced that girls would be allowed to do sports and  take part in physical education lessons in school.

Still, Saudi Arabian society is deeply conservative. Women still need a man’s permission  to do certain  things, including  marrying or going abroad. Those who oppose the new law say that it would violate the sharia.

Saudi leaders hope that lifting the driving ban will let women take on a more more active role  in the country’s booming economy.

 

Words

  • announce = to say something officially, in public
  • arrest = to take a person to the police station because they have done something wrong
  • attempt = try
  • ban = to forbid something
  • booming = when the economy increases and businesses are very successful
  • deeply = very much
  • driving licence = document that says you have the right to drive
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • grant = give, award
  • human rights group = group of people who want everyone to have basic rights, like the right to vote or the right to speak freely
  • including = also
  • in effect = here: to start being a law
  • kingdom = country ruled by a king or queen
  • lift = remove
  • local election = when you choose a person to have an official job in a city or town
  • oppose = to be against something
  • oppression =  to treat someone or a group of people in a bad way  and not let them have the same rights as others
  • permission = to be officially allowed to do something
  • physical education = sports taught in school as a subject
  • sharia = a system of religious laws followed by Muslims
  • violate= here: to break the law
  • vote = to choose someone for an official position
  • welcome = to be glad that something has happened

Prince Harry Talks About How He Struggled After Diana’s Death

For the first time England’s Prince Harry has talked about how he struggled emotionally after the death of his mother , Lady Diana, in September 1997. The 32 year old prince said that the the past few years of his life had been disturbing until finally his brother, William, urged him see a counselor.

Harry told journalists that it took him almost two decades to finally get over the tragic event. When Princess Diana died in a car accident, Harry was 12 years old.

He said that counselling helped him a lot because it is always good to open yourself up to a complete stranger. Apart from getting professional help, Harry started boxing to help overcome his grief.

In his late 20s Harry said that he had felt angry and left alone . He almost suffered a nervous breakdown as well. He said he had been dealing with the situation by not thinking about his mother and sticking his head into the sand.

Together with Prince William and his sister-in-law, Kate, Harry started the Heads Together campaign , a charity that helps people who have psychological problems.

Prince Harry
Prince Harry – Image: Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee

Words

  • apart from = besides, also
  • campaign = movement ; events about a certain topic
  • charity = organization that gives money or goods to people who are poor or need help
  • counselor = a person who advises you and gives you help
  • decade = ten years
  • disturbing = worrying, upsetting
  • emotionally = about your feelings and how you control them
  • grief = extreme sadness because someone you love has died
  • nervous breakdown = a mental illness in which someone becomes extremely nervous and cannot deal with normal situations
  • open yourself up = to stop being shy and say what you really think
  • overcome = to control a feeling or a problem
  • psychological = about the way your mind works  and how it influences your behavior
  • sister-in-law = the sister of your husband or wife
  • struggle = fight against
  • urge = to say you should to something

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.

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