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

 

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