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

 

 

 

India’s Unwanted Girls

The Indian government has announced that 63 million females are missing from its population.  About 2 Indian females go missing across all age groups because of abortions, diseases and malnutrition.

As in China, Indian society prefers men to women. Many families would rather have a son than a daughter. This can be seen in the country’s birth statistics.  For every 1,000 males that are born, there are only 940 females, which is much lower than average in many countries. According to population experts, there are about 21 million unwanted girls in India, females whose parents actually wanted a son.

Although testing for the gender of an unborn child is illegal, it still happens in many areas.

In Indian society, not only low-income families in rural areas prefer having a son instead of a daughter. In upper-class families, sons carry on the family tradition or take over the family business. While land and property pass on to a family’s son, many parents have to pay a fee, called dowry, when their daughter marries.

Social problems also arise in Indian society. Girls are often treated worse than boys. Some families keep on having babies until they get a son.  Although the preference for boys in Indian society cannot be ignored, the situation of girls and young women is improving. They are being better educated and have more opportunities in the workforce than decades ago.

 

Boy in an Indian family -
Boy in an Indian family – Image: Praveenpaavni

Words

  • abortion = a medical operation that kills an unborn baby
  • according to = as said by …
  • although = while
  • announce = to say officially, in public
  • arise = come up; emerge
  • average = normal, usual
  • decade = ten years
  • fee = amount of money you have to pay to someone
  • gender = being male or female
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • ignore = to pay no attention to something
  • illegal = against the law
  • improve = to get better
  • low-income = if you earn very little money
  • malnutrition = when someone becomes ill or weak because they have not had enough to eat
  • opportunity = here: the chance to get a job
  • pass on = to give to someone else
  • population = all the people who live in a country
  • prefer = to like something  more than something else
  • property = land that you own
  • rural = in the countryside
  • society = people in general and how they live together
  • take over = continue; take control from someone else
  • workforce = all the people who work in a country

UK Government Appoints Minister for Loneliness

British Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed 42-year-old Tracey  Crouch as the country’s first Minister for Loneliness. She will continue the work started by Jo Cox, a Labour Party MP who was shot by a right-wing extremist in 2016.

According to a commission headed by Cox, about 9 million Britons feel some form of loneliness. Half of all people aged 75 and over live alone – about 2 million across the UK. Many of them go on for days and even weeks without communicating or talking to anyone else.

However, not only the elderly feel lonely. A growing number of younger adults, especially those who use social media heavily, are in danger of becoming lonely.

Doctors claim that feeling lonely raises the likelihood of suffering a premature death.  It is even worse than smoking.  People who are isolated for a longer period of time often do not seek help. They eat and exercise less, which can lead to increased blood pressure and heart disease. Loneliness is also associated with dementia and depression.

In addition to the creation of a new government ministry, the statistics department has received the task of working out a way of measuring loneliness. Theresa May has pledged to raise additional funds to deal with the issue.

 

Millions of people in the UK feel lonely at some time or other
Millions of people in the UK feel lonely at some time or other – Image: Bert Kaufmann

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • additional = extra
  • appoint = to choose someone for a job or a government position
  • associated with = connected to
  • blood pressure = the force with which blood travels through your body
  • claim = to say that something is true even if you cannot prove it
  • dementia = illness that affects your brain and memory; it makes you unable to think clearly
  • department = organisation inside the government that deals with certain problems
  • depression = condition in which you feel sad and worried;  you are often unable to lead a normal life
  • especially = above all
  • funds = money
  • head = lead
  • heart disease = when your heart gets weaker
  • heavily = here: a lot
  • however = but
  • in addition = also
  • increased = higher than nromal
  • isolated = away from other people
  • issue = problem
  • likelihood = how much something can be expected to happen
  • loneliness = the feeling of being alone
  • measure = calculate how much something is
  • MP = member of British parliament
  • pledge = promise
  • premature death = when you die too soon; before you have to
  • raise = go up
  • raise = here: organise more money
  • receive = get
  • right-wing extremist = person who has radical conservative opinions and  is willing to do violent things  to achieve them
  • seek = look for
  • task = job

 

 

 

 

Iran Bans English From Primary Schools

Iran’s government has banned English from primary school classrooms in an attempt to fight Western influences. The country has been blaming the West for protests and demonstrations that have been staged throughout the country in the past months.

Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has repeatedly blamed the spread of English in schools for destabilizing his country. Authorities say that teaching English at an early age makes it possible for pupils to adopt the culture of Western societies. They state that primary education is the basis of Iranian culture and should be free of Western values.

English language lessons generally start in middle schools, with students aged between 12 and 14. Recently, however, more and more primary schools have been offering English lessons. It has also spread to some of the country’s nursery schools too.

The new ban only applies to the first years of education, where all lessons will be in Persian, the country’s official language.

 

Primary school class in Tehran
Primary school class in Tehran – Image: Farzad Khorasani

Words

  • adopt = here: to use; take on; let something into your country
  • apply = here: where the ban is in effect
  • attempt = try to do something
  • authorities = government organisations that have the power to decide things
  • ban = forbid; not allow
  • blame = to say or think that you are responsible for something bad that has happened
  • destabilize = when a government has problems controlling events that happen there
  • generally = normally
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • influence = power to affect the way something changes or develops
  • nursery school = kindergarten; school for children between 3 and 5 or 6
  • official language = the language that all the people in a country speak
  • primary school = the first years of education; usually between 5 and 11
  • recently = a short time ago
  • repeatedly = over and over again
  • society = the way people live in a country
  • spread = when something moves from one place to another
  • stage = organize
  • supreme = highest
  • throughout = all across the country
  • values = the things you believe in

Equal Pay For Men and Women in Iceland

Iceland has become the first country to make it illegal to pay women less than men. The new law, which took effect on January 1, imposes a fine on companies and government organisations employing more than 25 workers if they pay men more than women. The Scandinavian country wants to eliminate the pay gap between the sexes completely within the next four years.

Iceland has been considered the world’s fairest country in terms of gender equality for the past nine years. In a country where half of the parliamentarians are female, women still earn about 15% less than men. The new Icelandic law aims at helping to change the attitude towards women in business and politics.

According to the World Economic Forum, a Swiss-based non-profit organisation,  there is a global  58 % difference in pay between the sexes.  Economic experts predict that, if the current trend continues,  women will have to wait over two hundred years to get equal pay and the same opportunities at work.

There is also a lack of female politicians. Only a quarter of the world’s politicians is female and fewer than one in five ministers are women. Only 23% of the world’s parliamentary seats go to females.

 

Women campaigning for more rights and gender equality in Iceland
Women campaigning for more rights and gender equality in Iceland – Image: Magnus Fröderberg/norden.org

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • aims at = wants to achieve something
  • attitude = the feelings you have about someone or something
  • considered = thought to be
  • current trend = if the situation of today goes on
  • eliminate = get rid of; do away with
  • employ = to give a person work
  • equal = the same
  • gender equality = the same chances and opportunities for men and women
  • global = worldwide
  • illegal = against the law
  • impose = to force people to accept something
  • in terms of = if you look at or observe closely
  • lack = not enough
  • law = rule or regulation that a country has
  • non-profit = to use the money you get to help other people
  • opportunities = chances
  • parliamentarian = member of parliament
  • pay gap = the difference in the amount of money men and women get for their work
  • predict = to say that something will happen in the future
  • quarter = 25%
  • seat = here: an elected member of parliament
  • Swiss-based = organisation that operates out of Switzerland
  • take effect = start; become law

Baba Vanga Makes New Predictions for 2018

Baba Vanga, a mystic Bulgarian woman who died in 1996, has been known for predicting future events. She predicted the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the rise of Islamic terrorism and the Christmas tsunami of 2004. For 2018, there are two events that the blind woman said would become true.

China will overtake the USA as the world’s number one economic power and scientists will discover a new form of energy on our sister planet Venus. These two predictions may, in fact, just have a chance of becoming reality.

China’s economy has been growing steadily for many years. Today, China’s share of the world’s economy is at 15.6 % while the US still is the largest economic power at 16.7% . Many experts say that China will be overtaking the USA soon.

On the other side, NASA is not planning to send a space probe to Venus but will send a spacecraft to the sun in 2018. The mission was scheduled for 2015 but postponed because of technical problems. The probe will fly by Venus and scientists do not rule out new discoveries of the planet that may be made.

Baba Vanga, whom many followers call the Nostradamus of the Balkans, made predictions up to the year 5079, when, according to her, the world and the universe will come to an end. In 2028 the world will suffer a global hunger crisis and in 3005 a war on Mars will change the trajectory of the planet.

Referring to her predictions of 9/11 and Brexit, Baba Vanga said that two birds of steel would attack America and Europe would cease to exist in its known form by the end of 2016.

 

Baba Vanga predicted the 9/11 attacks on the USA
Baba Vanga predicted the 9/11 attacks on the USA – Image: Wally Gobetz

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • Balkans = countries in the southeast part of Europe
  • cease to exist = here: not exist anymore
  • discover = to find something for the first time
  • economy = system by which a country buys and sells goods and manages its money
  • follower = person who believes in what someone else teaches or says
  • global = worldwide
  • mission = trip by a spacecraft to the sun, moon or another planet in order to get information
  • mystic = person who tries to get to know facts  by praying, and talking with God
  • overtake = here: to be better than ..
  • postpone = to change the date of an event to a later one
  • predict – prediction  = to say that something will happen in the future
  • probe = spaceship without people in it that is sent into space to collect information
  • referring to = to mention or talk about something
  • rise = here: when someone becomes very powerful
  • rule out = to decide that something is not possible
  • scheduled = planned
  • scientist = a person who works in a lab and is trained in science
  • share = part
  • spacecraft = object that can travel in space
  • steadily = slowly and regularly
  • suffer = to be in a bad situation
  • trajectory = path that a planet takes around the sun
  • tsunami = very large wave that can flood large areas when it hits the coast
  • universe = all space, including all  the stars and planets

World Health Organisation Introduces Gaming Disorder

The World Health Organisation has added the term “gaming disorder” to its International Classification of Diseases. It refers to people who are addicted to video and other games and cannot stop. It is the first update in the WHO’s catalogue in almost three decades.

According to the WHO, gaming becomes a disorder if you are unable to control how long you play and when to stop. When that happens, it gets control of your life, influences everyday situations and affects your daily routine. WHO officials say that excessive gaming is  a serious disorder that must be closely watched

In order for a person to be regarded as having a gaming disorder, the behaviour must be going on for at least one year, either constantly or in phases. Gamers put their addiction above their family life, meeting with friends and going to school.

On one side studies have shown that playing video games may help with problems like depression and dementia.However, gaming is highly addictive and many people play for a longer time than is healthy. As a result, people get fired for not going to work or miss school classes for a longer period of time.

Many continue with their addiction, even if they see and realize the negative consequences it leads to.

 

 

Gaming is now regarded as a WHO disorder
Gaming is now regarded as a WHO disorder – Image: Marco Verch

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • addicted to = not able to stop doing something that may be harmful
  • addiction = when you have to and want to do something regularly
  • behaviour = here: too much gaming
  • classification = when you put people into a group
  • consequence = result
  • constantly = all the time, without interruption
  • daily routine = what you normally do every day
  • decade = ten years
  • dementia = illness that affects the brain, in which you cannot think clearly and behave in a normal way; you also forget a lot of things
  • depression = situation in which you are unhappy, nervous  and cannot live a normal life
  • disorder = mental or physical illness which stops your body from working the way it should
  • excessive = too much
  • get fired = lose your job
  • highly addictive = here: the will to play a game is so strong you cannot stop
  • however = but
  • influence = change
  • official = person who is in a high position in an organisation
  • realize = understand how bad the situation is
  • refer = to be about something
  • regard as = here: to put a person into this category
  • serious = very bad
  • studies = work that is done to find out more about a topic
  • update = change
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) = international organisation that is part of the United Nations, which helps countries improve the health of their population; it also offers information about diseases and provides medicine

US Life Expectancy Drops Because of Opioid Abuse

For the second year in a row life expectancy in the United States has decreased. One of the main reasons is the rise in opioid-related deaths, especially with young adults.

Life expectancy in 2016 was 78.6 years, compared with 78.4 years two years earlier. It is the first two-year decline in over 50 years. While life expectancy in other parts of the world is going up, the average American is dying at an earlier age.

According to a recently published report, overdoses of painkillers and other opioids are causing more and more premature deaths. The figures have risen from 6.1 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 21 per 100,000 people in 2016.

Last year 63 000 people died from some form of drug overdose. While 15000 of them were heroin addicts an alarming 14000 died from other painkillers. Most of them were in the 28-54 year age group.

In many cases, drug abuse is caused by a general dissatisfaction with a person’s personal situation. This results in depression and hopelessness if addicts don’t have a family to support them. Such victims don’t have the stability that they need. As a consequence, they turn to alcohol and drugs.

Opioids are drugs that reduce pain by targeting pain receptors in the brain. You need a doctor’s prescription to get them, but more and more people are buying them illegally on the streets.

While many start out with painkilling drugs, they later turn to heroin, also an opioid. In the terminal stages of cancer, morphine is often used to reduce a patient’s pain.

 

Different kinds of painkilling drugs
Different kinds of painkilling drugs

Words

  • abuse = using something in a way that you shouldn’t
  • according to = as reported by …
  • addict = someone who is not able to stop taking drugs
  • as a consequence = this results in; it leads to
  • average = normal
  • brain = organ in your head that control your thoughts, feelings and movements
  • cancer = very serious illness in which cells in your body grow in an uncontrollable way
  • compared with= to look at two things and see how they are different
  • decline = when something goes down
  • decrease = to go down
  • depression = a medical condition in which you are unhappy with yourself and cannot lead a normal life
  • dissatisfaction = here: not being happy with yourself
  • especially = above all
  • heroin = powerful and illegal drug made of morphine
  • illegally = not allowed; against the law
  • life expectancy = the number of years a person is expected to live
  • morphine = powerful drug that is used to make people calmer and stop the pain
  • opioid = a drug that acts on the nervous system to reduce pain
  • overdose = to take too much of a drug at one time
  • pain = the feeling you have when part of your body hurts
  • painkiller = medicine which removes or reduces pain
  • premature = when something happens before the natural time
  • prescription = piece of paper that a doctor writes so that an ill person can get medicine
  • recently = a short time ago
  • receptor = a nerve ending that gets information  and causes the body to react in a special way
  • reduce = lower
  • result in = lead to, be the reason for somehting
  • stability = here: strength
  • target = attack
  • terminal stages = the last days, weeks or months before a person dies of an illness

Baby Girl Born From Embryo Frozen 24 Years Ago

A human embryo that was frozen 24 years ago has now become a baby girl.  Emma Wren Gibson was born in Knoxville, Tennessee from an embryo frozen in 1992. The mother, Tina Gibson, at 25,  is only a year older than the embryo.  It is the longest known frozen embryo that has successfully become a baby.

The Gibsons are unable to have children of their own and, in the past, have taken care of several other children.

Couples who use IVF to have a baby usually end up with more embryos than they need. They can decide to store them for later use, dispose of them or donate them for scientific research. Many parents who have leftover embryos give them to special centres where they can be used for others.

Doctors claim them frozen embryos can develop just as well as fresh ones. The dangerous part, however, is the thawing process.Only about 75% of all frozen embryos survive it. Health experts think that there may be up to a million frozen embryos in the United States.

For those who can’t have babies, using a frozen embryo from a donation centre is similar to adoption, only that the baby grows inside the adoptive mother.

 

An eight-cell human embryo
An eight-cell human embryo

Words

  • adoptive = to become parent of a child that isn’t your own
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • develop = grow
  • dispose of = get rid of; destroy
  • donate = give something to an organisation in order to help
  • donation centre = here: a place where couples can give embryos they don’t need for others to use
  • embryo = a human being that has not yet been born but just started to develop
  • however  = but
  • IVF = in vitro fertilisation = process in which a human egg gets together with male sperm outside a woman’s body; it is also called a test-tube baby
  • leftover = here: embryos that you do not need any more
  • scientific research = when scientists try to find out more about a disease or medical problem
  • similar = like
  • store = to put things away and keep them somewhere until they are needed
  • successfully = having the effect that you wanted
  • survive= live on after a dangerous situation
  • take care of = to care for someone or look after them
  • thawing process = here: to take an embryo out of a freezer and wait until its body temperature becomes normal
  • unable = cannot

 

 

 

NASA Discovers Star System With 8 Planets

NASA has discovered the eighth planet of a star system, similar to our solar system. The star, Kepler-90  is over 2,500 light years away and larger and hotter than our sun. It is the first star known to have as many planets as our solar system.

The Kepler-90 star system is much more compact than our solar system. The outermost planet orbits the star at about the same distance as the earth orbits the sun.  its inner planets are small and rocky while the outer ones are larger and made up of gas

The newly discovered planet, Kepler -90i, is the third celestial object in the star system. It is probably rocky and similar to our earth, but because of its closeness to its home star has an average surface temperature of about 400° C. It moves around the star once every 14.4 days.

The discovery was made based on data provided by the Kepler space telescope. Launched in March 2009, the telescope has constantly been scanning certain sections of the universe in search of new stars and planetary systems. Up to now, over 2,000 new worlds have been discovered.

To help analyse the data NASA has been relying on artificial intelligence software supplied by Google.  This software examines weak signals of light when objects pass in front of a star.  The new way of examining data is expected to reveal even more new planets in the future.

 

Kepler 90 star system compared to our solar system
Kepler 90 star system compared to our solar system

Words

  • artificial intelligence = when computers do intelligent things  that only people can do, such as think and make their own decisions
  • average = normal, usual
  • based on = use
  • celestial = about the sky
  • closeness = being close to something
  • compact = here: the planets are closer together and near to the star
  • constantly = always
  • data = information
  • discover = to find something for the first time
  • distance = the amount of space between two objects
  • examine = look at something closely
  • launch = to send  an object into space
  • light year = the distance light travels in one year = 9,460,000,000,000 km
  • orbit = to go around
  • outermost = the farthest away from something
  • planetary system = star with planets moving around it
  • provide = give
  • rely = depend on; need
  • reveal = to show something that was not known before
  • rocky = covered with or made of rocks; here: a hard surface
  • scan = when a machine looks at things carefully but quickly
  • similar = like
  • solar system = our sun and the eight planets that move around it
  • surface temperature = temperature you get when you stand on the planet
  • weak = not strong