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 uniqueID 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, authoritiespoint out that the country’s smallness is an advantage. Such a system may not work very well in larger countries with millions of people.
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
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.
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
Experts from the World Health Organisation say that childhood obesity has risentenfold 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 researchersexamineddata 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.
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
Miwa Sado is a Japanese journalist who died in 2013 after working too hard. Her case became public this week after labour inspectors publisheda 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 limitovertime 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 advertisingagency.
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.
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
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.
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
For the first time England’s Prince Harry has talked about how he struggledemotionally 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 Togethercampaign , a charity that helps people who have psychological problems.
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
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 legalizerecreational 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 physicalinfluence 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.
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.
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 liquidparalyses the muscles and the third stops the heart from beating.
In the past few years, the number of executions has decreased, in partdue 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.
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