Traditional Sports in Britain on Boxing Day

Boxing Day, the 26th of December,  has become a traditional day of sports in the UK, with many events taking place all across the country.

The day got its name from a time when many upper-class families gave boxes of gifts to poor people who had to work at Christmas while everybody else was celebrating. Boxing Day is celebrated in many Commonwealth countries.

The first important sports event on Boxing Day took place back in 1860 when two of the oldest football clubs in England played against each other. Today the Englisch Premier League schedules a full round of matches on this Christmas holiday. In many cases, teams that are geographically close to each other play on Boxing Day so that fans do not have that far to travel.

While most European football leagues take a winter break, sometimes for several weeks, English football continues between Christmas and New Year.

The holiday schedule is welcomed by many football fans, but there are critics however who say that the Christmas season is a time when everybody should be at home with their families. Some managers point out that the season is very long and major teams need a break for players to recover from injuries.

Football is not the only popular sport that is played on  Boxing Day. Horse racing and rugby have also seen regular sports events on the second day of Christmas.  Traditional fox hunting is opposed by more and more Britons. In addition, Boxing Day has become one of the strongest betting days of the year.

 

Traditional King George VI chase on Boxing Day
Traditional King George VI Chase on Boxing Day – Image: Carine06 , https://www.flickr.com/photos/43555660@N00/8315710432/

Words

  • betting = when people risk money on the results of games  or future events
  • break = pause; a time during which you have no games
  • celebrate = to have fun or do something special
  • Commonwealth = group of about 50 countries that were once a part of the British Empire
  • critics = people who think that certain things are not good
  • everybody else = all the other people
  • gift = present
  • however = but
  • in addition = also
  • injury = when a part of your body gets hurt
  • major = important
  • manager = someone who is in charge of and coaches a football team
  • oppose = to be against
  • point out = to say something that is important for you
  • Premier League = the 20 best football teams of England an Wales which play against each other
  • recover = to  get better
  • schedule = to plan something for a certain time
  • traditional = something that has existed for a long time
  • UK = United Kingdom
  • welcome = to be glad that something happens
  • winter break = time during which teams do not play because it is too cold or there is too much snow on the ground

Facebook Introduces Messenger Kids

Facebook has announced that it will release a new version of its popular app Messenger for children aged between 6 and 12. They do not need their own Facebook account to access the app, called Messenger Kids.

With Messenger Kids, parents will be able to control what their children see and who they are allowed to communicate with. There are no ads in the children’s version and Facebook has promised not to use a child’s information for other purposesIn addition, children’s names will not be integrated into Facebook’s search tool. At the moment, the app will only be available in the United States.

Facebook aims at getting children to become used to its product even if they are under the age required to get a normal account. As the company is losing younger customers to rivals Instagram and Snapchat, the company is trying to get young users to connect to their product before competitors do.

Messenger Kids will offer text and video chat as well as stickers and drawing tools. Special detection filters prevent children from sharing sexual content or violence online.

According to Facebook,  over 90% of all 8 to 12-year-olds have smartphones or tablets. Many use their parents’ Facebook account.The new app is intended to give children a feeling of having their own account, while parents are still in control.  Messenger Kids will not automatically be converted into a normal Facebook account when children reach 13.

 

Children can now use a special Facebook app to contact their friends.
Children can now use a special Facebook app to contact their friends.

Words

  • access = use
  • according to = as said by …
  • account =a service that allows you to  do or  see things on the Internet
  • ad = picture, words or a short film which is intended to make people buy a product
  • aim = wants, plan to
  • available = here: use
  • announce = to say officially in public
  • communicate = talk, chat with or write to
  • competitor = rival
  • content = comments, pictures video etc..
  • convert = change into, automatically become
  • customer = person who buys something
  • detection filter = here: a tool that is used to stop bad things from getting seen by children
  • in addition = also
  • intend = plan to
  • prevent = stop
  • promise = to say that you will  do something
  • purpose = here: other things
  • release = here: you can download and use it
  • required = needed
  • rival = a company that sells the same things as you do
  • share = exchange, swap
  • sticker = here: a frame with a picture or words; you can collect them

 

Texting Celebrates 25th Birthday

Short Message Service (SMS), also called texting, is celebrating its 25th birthday. The first text message was sent in Great Britain shortly before Christmas in 1992 in Great Britain. It was British engineer Neil Papworth who sent the first message from a computer to a  mobile phone on the Vodaphone network. At that time mobile phones could only receive messages, not send them.

In 1994, Nokia presented its first mobile phone that could actually send and receive messages.  It was the first phone that could produce more than an audio signal. Shortly afterwards the first commercial SMS service started in Finland. Text messages were limited to 160 characters.

25 years later text messaging is widely popular.  97% of all smartphone users send some type of text message regularly. About 25 billion are sent every day. Today there are more complex messaging services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messanger and iMessage.

Media experts regard texting as the first step towards today’s smartphones, which are basically pocket computers with countless apps.

Texting has changed the way we communicate. For the first time, you could send the same text to different contacts at the same time and it didn’t matter if the recipient was reachable or not. A new language has also emerged with abbreviations and short sentences.

Texting on a mobile phone
Texting on a mobile phone – Image : Helar Lukats

Words

  • abbreviation = short form of a word or phrase
  • actually = really, in fact
  • basically = practically
  • celebrate = to show that an event is important
  • commercial = here: something that you can make money with
  • communicate = exchange information or get into contact with each other
  • complex = advanced; with many different parts
  • countless = very many
  • emerge = develop, appear
  • engineer = person who designs and builds machines and other objects
  • limit = only allow
  • network = here: system of telephone lines that are connected to each other
  • reachable = here: speak to someone
  • receive = get
  • recipient = here: a person who receives a message
  • regard = think of something as…
  • widely popular = used by many people

Europe’s Muslim Population Will Continue to Grow

Over the next few decades, Europe’s Muslim population is expected to continue growing.  A study estimates that by 2050 the Muslim population could grow to 58 million, or 11 % of the total European population, compared to 5 % today.

The study conducted by Pew research, is based on census and immigration data from  30 countries. It created three scenarios. In the first scenario, Muslim immigration into Europe would come to a complete halt.  Even then, the Muslim population would rise to 7.4 %. This is because Muslims, on average,  are 13 years younger than Europeans and have a higher birth rate.

On the other side, a high migration scenario is based on the flow of refugees from 2015- 2016 and expects it to continue. If this happens, the total Muslim population in Europe will rise to 75 million, about 14% of the total population.

According to the Pew report, not all countries will be affected evenly by future Muslim immigration.  Germany and Sweden will see the biggest increases because these two countries accepted most asylum seekers during the 2015-2016 refugee crisis.

At the moment, Germany (5 million) and France (5.7 Million)  have the largest Muslim populations in Europe.

The recently published study is likely to cause more debate on immigration into Europe.  It cites instability in the Middle East and Northern Africa as well as the ongoing conflict in Syria as the main factors that drive people to European countries.  In the last 6 years seeking asylum in conflict regions was the most important motive for Muslims coming to Europe. Only few came to Europe for employment or education.

 

Migrants near the Hungarian-Serbian border during the 2015 refugee crisi
Migrants near the Hungarian-Serbian border during the 2015 refugee crisis – Image: Gémes Sándor/SzomSzed

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • affect = here: changed by the situation
  • asylum seeker = person who leaves their country because they are in danger, mostly for political reasons, and asks another country to let them live there
  • birthrate = the number of births for every 1,000 people in a year
  • census = official counting of a country’s population
  • cite = mention
  • compared = to look at two things in a similar way
  • conduct = carry out
  • data = information
  • debate = discussion
  • decade = ten years
  • employment = job, work
  • factor = reason
  • flow = steady movement of people
  • estimate = to calculate how big something will be  based on the information that you have
  • halt = stop
  • immigration = when you go to another country and plan to live there permanently
  • increase = to go up
  • instability = when the situation in a country is not stable because of war or other conflicts
  • is based on = use something as the starting point for your research
  • is expected to = will probably
  • motive = reason
  • ongoing conflict = here: conflict or war that is continuing
  • refugee = people who have to leave their home because of war or a natural disaster
  • rise = go up
  • scenario = situation that could possibly happen
  • study = piece of work that is done to find out more about a subject

Automation Could Cost Up To 800 Million Jobs

Up to 800 million people worldwide could lose their jobs because of automation. About half of them will have to learn new skills to get another job. In the United States alone, up to a third of the workforce could become unemployed within the next few decades. These are the results of a recent publication by McKinsey Global Institute.

Jobs that involve manual or factory work are the ones that are most at risk. People who work in social fields, the environment or management are less likely to lose their jobs. In countries with ageing populations, more jobs will be needed in health care.

The report says that there is no reason to panic because new job fields will emerge which will more than compensate the loss of traditional jobs. In addition, economic activity and rising productivity will also provide for more jobs.  However, workers will need to adapt to jobs more quickly than before and lifelong learning will be essential.

Artifical intelligence is already spreading quickly in some areas. Technological inventions, like self-driving cars, will become hugely popular within a decade. More jobs will be needed in the energy sector and people will find more work building modern infrastructure in cities.

However, governments around the globe will have to give support and spend money on programs to train workers for new tasks.

The report states that the situation today is similar to the beginning of the 20th century when agricultural societies became more and more industrialised.  The invention of the automobile contributed to this change. In the 1980s the computer revolution eliminated some jobs but created many others.

Automation in a German factory
Automation in a German factory – Image: KUKA Roboter Gmbh

Words

  • adapt = change; get used to
  • ageing = getting older
  • agricultural = farming
  • artificial intelligence = the study of how to make computers do intelligent things  that people can do, such as think and make decisions
  • automation = the use of computers and machines to do jobs that normally people do
  • century = a hundred years
  • compensate = replace
  • contribute = here: to play a major part
  • decade = ten years
  • economic activity = producing and consuming goods
  • eliminate = lose; do away with
  • emerge = come up, appear
  • environment = people and things that are around you in your life
  • essential = extremely important and necessary
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • health care = services that a country provides for its people
  • hugely = very much
  • in addition = also
  • infrastructure = the basic systems that a country or city needs, like railways, banks, schools etc..
  • invention = a useful machine that is created
  • involve = here: to be about
  • less likely = will probably not …
  • management = controlling and organising the work of a company
  • manual = with your hands and physical strength
  • productivity = the goods that are produced by workers in a certain time
  • provide =  give, offer
  • publication = when information is printed for everyone to read
  • recent = a short time ago
  • similar = like
  • skill = the ability to do something well
  • task = job
  • traditional = here: jobs that have existed up to now
  • train = here: prepare people for a new job
  • workforce = all the people in a country who can work
  • unemployed = without a job , out of work

 

Cult Leader Charles Manson Dies At 83

Charles Manson, the hippie leader who shocked the world in the 1960s, died at the age of 83. Manson, who has had health problems recently,  was serving a life-sentence in a Californian prison.

Charles Manson was the charismatic leader of a group known for murdering seven people in Los Angeles in 1969. Among them was Sharon Tate, a rising Hollywood star and wife of director Roman Polanski. Miss Tate was pregnant at the time she was stabbed to death 16 times. Although Manson was not at the scene of the crimes he ordered his followers to commit the murders.

Manson and his cult members roamed neighbourhoods looting stores and committing random murders. His racist views triggered widespread hate against Black Americans. The clan leader was a symbol of free-love and drug-driven California in the late 1960s.

In 1971, Manson and four of his followers were sentenced to death in the gas chamber. The sentences were reduced to life imprisonment when California’s Supreme Court abolished the death penalty in 1972.

In his youth, Charles Manson dreamed of becoming a rock star but was unsuccessful in his attempts at getting a record contract. This turned into hate against everything that represented the establishment and corporate America. His followers believed in everything he said and committed crimes on his behalf.

Charles Manson shortly before his death in 2017
Charles Manson shortly before his death in 2017 – Image: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Words

  • abolish = ban, not allow
  • although = while
  • attempt = try
  • charismatic = having the natural talent to attract people and make them like and admire you
  • commit = carry out
  • corporate America = here: the big businesses and companies that have a lot of power and can also make political decisions
  • death penalty = when the state legally kills someone who has committed a crime
  • drug-driven = here: a time when taking drugs was very common
  • establishment = group of people who have a lot of power  and influence and are often against changes or new ideas
  • hippie = someone in the 1960s who wore unusual clothes , had long hair and took drugs for pleasure
  • life imprisonment = being in prison for your whole life
  • life-sentence = to be in prison your whole life
  • loot = to steal things from shops that were destroyed
  • on his behalf = in his name; for him
  • pregnant = to expect a baby
  • racist = someone who believes that people of their own race are better than others; they treat them unfairly and sometimes violently
  • random = without a plan or pattern
  • reduce = to make something less
  • recently = a short time ago
  • record contract = to make music for a company
  • represent = to stand for something
  • rising = here: becoming more successful
  • roam = walk around without a clear direction or knowing what you want to do
  • sentence = a punishment that a judge gives you for committing a crime
  • serve = to spend time in prison
  • stab to death = to kill someone with a knife
  • Supreme Court = the highest court in the state
  • trigger = start
  • unsuccessful = when something does not work out the way you want it to
  • widespread = happening in many parts of the state

 

Mungo Man Returns Home

The remains of Australia’s oldest aboriginal man, who died about 42,000 years ago, has been returned to his original burial ground in  New South Wales. For years, he had been at a university in Canberra for study purposes.

The skeleton was discovered in 1974 in a dry salt lake in Mungo National Park about 800 km west of Sydney. The remains were taken to the University of Canberra to be studied. At the time, the Aborigines protested heavily against removing the remains from their original burial grounds.They have been fighting for decades to bring the skeleton, known as Mungo Man, back home.

Mungo Man was probably a hunter-gatherer, who died at the age of 50. Scientists think that the man probably suffered from arthritis. He was found lying on his back with his hands crossed in his lap. His limbs were stretched out and his body was covered with red ochre, which came from some 200 km away.

Aborigines celebrated the return of the remains in a traditional ceremony with green gum leaves burned over a small fire. In an official statement, the university apologized for the pain they have caused by not letting the ancient human rest in peace.

satellite image of Lake Mungo, where the remains of Mungo Man were discovered.
Satellite image of Lake Mungo, where the remains were discovered.

Words

  • aboriginal = connected to someone who has lived in  a place or country from the earliest times
  • Aborigines = someone who belongs to the race of people who have lived in Australia from the earliest times
  • apologize = to say you are sorry about something
  • arthritis = disease that causes bones and flexible parts of your body to become painful and swollen
  • burial ground = place where a person is laid to rest after they have died
  • cause = create
  • celebrate = to show that an event is important by doing something special
  • ceremony = important social or religious event
  • decade = ten years
  • discover = to find for the first time
  • gum leaves = leaves from a gum tree; they produce  a strong smelling oil that is used in medicine
  • heavily = very much; strongly
  • hunter-gatherer = person who lived  by hunting animals and looking for plants that could be eaten
  • lap = the upper part of your legs   when you are sitting down
  • limbs = arms and legs
  • ochre = red-yellowish earth
  • official statement = here: the university announced something in public
  • original = here: for the first time
  • remains = the body or skeleton of someone who has died
  • remove = bring away from the original place
  • scientist = person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • skeleton = structure of all the bones in the human body
  • study purposes = when something is looked at or examined closely by scientists and experts
  • suffer = to feel pain because you are ill

Dog Ownership May Improve Your Health

A Swedish publication released recently says that having a dog could not only make your life more worthwhile but actually save it. Apart from being great companions, especially for single individuals, dog ownership may lengthen your life. The survey studied Swedish individuals between 40 and 80 over a 12-year period.

The study found out that owning a dog reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases by almost a third. The risk of suffering a heart attack is 11% lower compared to singles without a dog. People who owned hunting dogs, like terriers and retrievers, benefited the most.

Dog owners are more active because they exercise with their dogs. Extensive physical activity reduces the risk of heart diseases, strengthens the immune system and makes life less stressful. It also results in lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Dogs are increasingly used as a therapy after a severe illness. An American study shows that patients who have undergone surgery recovered more quickly if they had contact with dogs.

On the other side dogs have a calming effect on people and are important company for those living alone. Loneliness and lack of social interaction is one of the biggest problems of older people. Petting a dog, for example, has proven to be helpful to those suffering from depression. In addition, dogs are especially helpful in helping and guiding disabled and blind people.

 

Dog helping an elderly person
Dog helping an elderly person

Words

  • apart from = besides; in addition to
  • benefit = to have advantages
  • blood pressure = the force with which blood travels through your body
  • calming = relaxed and quiet
  • cardiovascular  disease = illness connected with the heart and blood moving through your body
  • cholesterol = chemical substance in your blood; too much of it may cause heart disease
  • company = when you are with someone else and not alone
  • compare =to look at two things and show how much the same or different they are
  • companion = friend
  • depression = the feeling of sadness  that makes you think there is no hope for the future
  • disabled = someone who cannot use parts of their body properly
  • especially = above all
  • exercise = physical activity that makes you stronger and keeps you healthy
  • extensive = a lot ; much
  • guide = lead to a place
  • heart attack = when your heart suddenly stops beating
  • heart disease = illness related to your heart
  • illness = disease
  • immune system = system by which your body protects itself  against diseases
  • in addition = also
  • increasingly = more and more
  • lack = not enough of …
  • lengthen = make longer
  • loneliness = being alone
  • ownership = having or possessing something
  • patient = someone who receives medical treatment in a hospital or at a doctor’s
  • pet = to touch or move your hand softly over an animal
  • publication = when you make something known to the public
  • recently = a short time ago
  • recover = to get better after you have been ill for some time
  • reduce = lower
  • release = to publish
  • severe = bad
  • social interaction = when two or more people do things together
  • strengthen = to make stronger
  • survey = a set of questions you ask a larger number of people about a certain topic
  • therapy = treatment or an illness after  a long period of time
  • worthwhile = if something is important or useful; you can profit from  something
  • undergo surgery = to be operated on

Twitter Increases Number of Characters to 280

The social networking service Twitter has increased the number of characters that can be used for a single tweet to 280. The new limit will apply to English and other languages that use a Roman alphabet. Languages, such as Chinese, Japanese or Korean, are not affected by the change because users can say more with fewer characters.

Twitter says that the change has been made to give people more opportunity to say what they think and express their opinions without making texts shorter or using bad grammar. More space makes it easier to put your thoughts in writing.

Twitter decided to implement the change after a month of intensive testing .Those who tested the new character limit said it was good because they were able to express themselves in a better way.

In the first few days after the new rule took effect, many people used up the full 280 character limit. A spokesperson said that, after a few days, everything had become normal again.  Only five percent of all tweets exceeded the old 140 character limit, probably because most users were used to it.

Twitter’s 140-character limit goes back to the days when the company was founded in 2006. Back then, the limit for sending SMS text messages was 140 characters and Twitter based the new service on that limit. Texting today is considered out of date and not used that much anymore.

 

Twitter logo
Twitter logo

Words

  • affect = here: to do something that produces a change
  • apply = affect; to be used for
  • character = letter, number or sign used in an alphabet
  • considered = thought to be …
  • exceed = to be more than …
  • express = tell or show what you think or feel
  • found – founded = here: to start a new company
  • implement = here: to make changes
  • increase = to go up
  • intensive = here: a lot of
  • limit = here: the number of characters you are allowed to use
  • opinion = what you think about something
  • opportunity = chance
  • out of date = not useful, because something more modern has taken its place
  • Roman alphabet = alphabet used in English and other European languages
  • spokesperson = someone who speaks for a company and makes announcements in public
  • take effect = to start to produce results after something has changed
  • thought = what you think
  • tweet = a message on twitter

 

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