Chocolate in Danger of Becoming Extinct

Chocolate may be in danger of becoming extinct by the middle of this centuryPests and fungal diseases have been found in cacao trees that may endanger the crop’s survival.

In addition, cacao is also under attack by global warming. Trees grow in a very small area about 20° north and south of the equator, where humidity and temperatures are the same all year round. By 2050 rising temperatures and drier weather will push cacao production up into mountainous areas, many of which are home to wild animals.

Scientists from the University of California are trying to save the plant. Together with researchers from the American food company Mars, they are trying to grow cacao seeds that are more resistant and can grow at higher altitudes.

Most of the world’s cacao production comes from two countries in western Africa, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. These areas may not be suitable for cacao production in the decades to come. Millions of farmers depend on cacao for a living.

 

Cacao tree
Cacao tree – Image: Luis Ovalles

Words

  • altitude = how high up something is
  • cacao = seeds from which chocolate is made
  • decade = ten years
  • endanger = to be a threat to something
  • equator = line around the middle of the earth
  • extinct = die out; not exist anymore
  • century = a hundred years
  • depend on = need
  • fungal disease= disease caused by  a simple plant that has no leaves  and grows in the ground or on other plants; mushrooms are a type of fungus
  • global warming = an increase in the world’s temperatures caused by growing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere
  • humidity = the amount of water that is in the air
  • in addition = also
  • mountainous = in the mountains
  • pest = a small animal or insect that can destroy crops and plants
  • researcher = person who studies a topic in order to find out more about it
  • resistant = here: it cannot be destroyed or damaged
  • rise = to go up
  • scientist = person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • seed = small hard object from produced by plants, from which a new plant can grow
  • suitable = here: to be the ideal place to grow something
  • survival = existence ; staying alive
  • under attack = to be attacked by something

China Bans Ivory Trade

China has put a ban on all ivory trade in the country.  The ban came into effect on January 1 of this year. 67 official ivory processing factories and shops were closed last year and a remaining 100 were shut down on December 31. A similar ban in the U.S. went into effect in June 2016.

The Chinese decision to stop the ivory trading business has been welcomed by the World Wildlife Fund and other organisations as a major effort in protecting the world’s elephant population. It is estimated that over 30,000 African elephants are killed every year.

Chinese citizens regard ivory as a status symbol. People buy jewellery, chopsticks and other objects made of ivory, leading to the development of one of the world’s largest ivory markets. When trading ivory was officially banned worldwide in 1990, China continued to sell it through shops and factories. The legal trade also brought illegal ivory into the country.

However, there is a major concern that the new law does not apply to HongKong, an important ivory trading hub. Authorities in the former British colony are working on a ban of their own, expected to take effect soon. On the other side, customers will probably go to Laos, Vietnam or other Asian countries, where trading laws are not so strict.

In the past year, ivory prices started to go down as more and more Chinese shops were closing. The ban will have a big impact on African countries, especially Kenya and Tanzania,  where most of the elephant poaching is taking place.

Elephant tusk with a carved decoration
Elephant tusk with a carved decoration

Words

  • apply = take effect
  • authorities = government organisations that have the power to make decisions
  • ban = to forbid something; not allow
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • concern = feeling of worry about something important
  • development = growth
  • effort = try
  • especially = above all
  • estimate = to calculate how big something is by the information that you have
  • former = in the past
  • however = but
  • into effect = start to work
  • illegal = not allowed; against the law
  • ivory = hard, smooth yellowish-white material from the long teeth of elephants
  • jewellery = small things that you wear for decoration, like necklaces or rings
  • legal = allowed by the government
  • major = important
  • official = allowed by the government
  • poaching = to shoot or catch animals illegally
  • processing = here: when you make an elephant’s tusk into jewellery and other objects
  • protect = here to keep animals safe
  • remaining = those that were left
  • similar = almost the same
  • status symbol = something that you have that you think shows high social rank or position
  • strict= here: law that must be obeyed
  • trading hub = here: a place where ivory is bought and sold
  • welcome = to be glad that something has happened
  • worldwide = around the world
  • World Wildlife Fund = organisation that tries to save and protect endangered animals

 

 

Cailfornia Legalises Marijuana For Recreational Use

California has become the largest American state to legalize the sales of marijuana for recreational use. In November 2016,  citizens in the state voted in favour of a proposition that would allow citizens to possess small amounts of the substance. It is now legal to grow six plants of your own or have an ounce of pot.

About 90 licences are to be handed out statewide to shops that want to sell recreational marijuana. In the last two decades, special shops have been allowed to sell marijuana only for medical reasons, in order to treat pain and anxiety. People who want to buy medical marijuana need a prescription from a doctor.

Apart from legalizing the drug, there will be strict controls monitored by state authorities. Californians will not be allowed to consume marijuana in public places or near schools. Local governments will be able to set up their own rules on where smoking is allowed.

Despite this new state law, the federal government still looks at marijuana as an illegal substance. California has become the eighth state to legalize the drug.

In 2016 California produced about 13 million pounds of pot. 80% of it was transferred illegally out of the state.The illegal marijuana market, currently at 5 billion dollars, is expected to grow to 7 billion in California by 2020. In addition, the state will be able to generate additional taxes from selling legal marijuana.

Shopkeepers who have been able to sell medical marijuana are worried that prices will go up because of additional taxes. Some fear that additional licences could ruin their business.

 

 

medical marijuana
Medical marijuana card that allows a person to buy marijuana for medical purposes

Words

  • additional = extra
  • anxiety = feeling worried about or afraid of something
  • apart from = besides
  • authorities = organisation that can make decisions
  • billion = a thousand million
  • citizen = person who lives in a place and has rights there
  • consume = here: smoke
  • currently = at the moment
  • decade = ten years
  • despite = even though
  • federal government = the government of the United States, not the state government
  • generate = produce, get
  • government = people who rule a country or state
  • hand out = give to someone
  • illegal substance = drug that is not allowed
  • in addition = also
  • in favour of = to be for something
  • legal = allowed
  • legalize = allow
  • licence = here: a document that allows you to sell something
  • marijuana = illegal drug that is smoked like a cigarette
  • monitor = to watch carefully
  • ounce = unit for measuring weight = 28.35 grams
  • pain = feeling you have when something hurts
  • possess = own, have
  • pot = another word for marijuana
  • prescription = piece of paper on which a doctor writes down what medicine you need
  • proposition = a suggested change of the law
  • public place = place where everyone can go to
  • recreational use = for fun or pleasure
  • ruin = destroy
  • small amounts = a little bit
  • statewide = in the whole state
  • substance = material ; here: drug
  • transfer = take, carry
  • treat = to try to help if oyu have an illness

 

 

Nepal Bans Solo Mountain Climbers

In an attempt to reduce the number of accidents and make climbing safer, Nepal has banned solo mountaineers from climbing Mount Everest and other peaks. In addition, beginning in January 2018, all foreign climbers will need a guide. The new law also prohibits blind and double amputee climbers from trying to reach the top peaks.

More than 200 people have died in an attempt to reach Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain, since 1920. The majority of deaths have occurred within the last 40 years. Recently, an 85-year-old mountaineer died in an attempt to be the oldest human to reach the top of Mount Everest. Two Europeans died while making a solo climb last spring.

Although mountaineers die for a number of reasons, almost every fifth death is caused by acute mountain sicknessAuthorities have announced that they will check medical certificates of climbers to see if they are physically capable of such a demanding task.

In addition to more safety, Nepalese authorities hope that the new law will create more jobs for mountain guides in the country. The government will also give Everest climbing certificates to high altitude guides and workers hired by foreign climbers.

Local citizens have welcomed the new law, but some officials fear that banning physically handicapped people from climbing could get them into conflict with human rights organisations.

According to statistics, 4,800 climbers have reached the top of Mount Everest since Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic climb in 1953.

Mountaineer in Nepal -
Mountaineer in Nepal – Image: McKay Savage

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • acute = an illness that comes very quickly
  • although = while
  • announce = to say officially
  • attempt = try to do something
  • authorities = organisation in a government that controls and decides certain things
  • ban = stop; forbid
  • capable = able
  • create = make
  • demanding task = activity that is very difficult to do
  • double amputee = someone who has lost both legs or both arms
  • foreign= from another country
  • guide = a person who shows you the way
  • high altitude = very high place
  • hire = to pay money to a person for a job they do
  • historic = when something important happened in history
  • human= person
  • human rights organisation = organisation in which people fight for the basic rights that everyone should have, like the right to vote or freedom of the press
  • in addition = also
  • law = rule, regulation
  • local citizen= person who lives in the region
  • majority = most of
  • medical certificate = piece of paper you get from a doctor or hospital that shows you are fit to do something
  • mountaineer = person who climbs high mountains in their free time
  • occur = happen
  • official = person who is in a high position in an organisation
  • peak = the highest part of a mountain
  • physically handicapped = person who cannot use parts of their body because of an accident or illness
  • prohibit = not allow
  • recently = a short time ago
  • reduce = lower
  • sickness = when you are ill
  • welcome = to be in favour of

Thousands of Nazis Escaped to South America After World War II

After the end of World War II, as many as 9,000 high-ranking Nazi officers escaped punishment in Germany and fled abroad, most of them to South America. Over 5,000 started a new life in Argentina, the rest were scattered across Brazil, Paraguay and other countries.

At the beginning of World War II, Argentina already had a large German community. President Juan Peron sympathized with the Third Reich and helped set up routes in Spain and Italy, through which Nazi officers escaped. He also gave them false passports and new identities.

With the help of the Vatican and relief organisations like the Red Cross, more and more Nazis poured into South America, building a network of contacts that made it easier for the rest of them to flee. In the decades after the war, some were tracked down and brought back to Germany, however many Nazis escaped justice.

One of the most famous Nazis who found his way to South America was Adolph Eichmann. He was an SS officer in charge of Hitler’s final solution – sending millions of Jews to death camps all across Europe. He lived in Buenos Aires until 1960 when a team of Israeli intelligence officers captured him and got him out of the country.  After his trial in Jerusalem,  he was hanged in 1962.

Another famous Nazi was Joseph Mengele, a doctor who conducted medical experiments at the Auschwitz death camp, where he often used prisoners as guinea pigs. He spent several years in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay where he died in 1979.

Adolf Eichmann on trial in Jerusalem in 1962
Adolf Eichmann on trial in Jerusalem in 1962

Words

  • abroad = to a country across the ocean; here: North or South America
  • capture = to catch a person  and keep them as prisoner
  • community = people who live together in the same area
  • conduct = carry out
  • death camp = place where a large number of prisoners are killed or die
  • decade = ten years
  • escape = get away from a bad or dangerous situation; leave a place because it is dangerous
  • false passport = here: a passport that is not real, with a made-up identity
  • flee – fled = escape; get away from a bad situation
  • guinea pig = someone who is used in a test or experiment to see how successful  something new is
  • high-ranking = in a high position in an organisation
  • hang – hanged = to kill someone with a rope around their neck
  • however = but
  • identity = name
  • in charge of = responsible for
  • intelligence officer = person of a foreign government who tries to collect secret information in other countries
  • justice = system by which criminals are punished
  • network = system
  • officer = someone who has power in the military or police department
  • pour into = come in large numbers
  • prisoner = someone who is kept in prison  for a crime they may have committed
  • punishment = to make somebody suffer because they have done something that is against the law
  • relief organization = organization that helps people who are in danger
  • scattered = spread over a large area of land
  • sympathize = here: like, support, help
  • Third Reich = period of Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler
  • track down = to find someone who  has been hiding
  • trial = legal process in which a judge and a jury in a courtroom decide if a person is guilty or not

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

Missing Australian Sub Finally Found

More than a hundred years after it had disappeared, Australia’s first submarine was finally discovered. The submarine, called AE-1 , went missing on September 14, 1914, with a crew of 35 on board. It was the first Allied submarine loss of the war.

After decades of searching, the missing Australian sub was found about 300 metres underwater,  off the coast of Papua New Guinea. It appears to be well-preserved and in one piece. Experts are now trying to examine the wreck and find out why the sub sank. They think it was probably an accident and not because of enemy fire.

The sub was on a mission to occupy German New Guinea, one of the German colonies in the Pacific.

In the past, there were 13 government – funded searches for the sub but, until now,  none of them proved successfulWhen the submarine was found navy officials held a commemorative service for the crew that the Australian navy had lost.  Families were contacted and told that the oldest naval mystery in Australian history had finally been solved.

 

Missing Australian submarine AE-1
Missing Australian submarine AE-1

Words

  • Allied = group of countries that fought together in the first and second World Wars
  • appear = seems to be
  • coast = where land meets the sea
  • colony = area that is under control by a government that is far away
  • commemorative service = event that shows you remember and respect something important that happened a long time ago
  • crew = all the people who worked on the sub
  • decade = ten years
  • disappear = here: to get lost
  • discover = here : find
  • enemy fire = attack by the enemy
  • examine = look at something closely in order to find out more about it
  • government – funded = paid for by the state
  • in one piece = not broken
  • loss = not having something anymore
  • mission = important job, done by the army, air force or navy
  • naval = about the navy
  • navy = part of a country’s military that fights at sea
  • occupy = to enter a place with an army and keep control of it
  • official = here: a person in a high position in an organisation
  • prove successful = if something you try to do really works the way you want it to
  • submarine = ship that can stay underwater for a longer period of time
  • well-preserved = in good condition
  • wreck = a ship that has sunk

California Publishes New Cell Phone Guidelines

California’s Department of Health has published new guidelines on how to handle cell phones. It warns that radiation emitted from cell phones can be harmful but does not say that cell phones are dangerous.

.Health authorities in California suggest a few measures cell phone users should take. When sleeping, you should keep your phone at least an arm’s length away from your body.  You should also avoid keeping your cell phone in your pocket. They also recommend only using cell phones when reception is strong.

Some doctors agree that carrying cell phones close to your body could increase the risk of getting brain tumours , cancer and becoming infertile. It may also lead to headaches, hearing problems and a loss of memory. On the other side, there are many health experts who say that the risks cell phone usage present are not proven

Cell phones emit radiation in the form of low-energy radio waves when they receive and send signals from cell towers.    The frequencies that cell phones use could be linked to various illnesses.

The new cell phone guidelines have existed since 2009 but not been published. Recently, a Berkeley professor won a lawsuit against the Department of Health to release the guidelines to the public and push for more action.

 

The California Department of Health has released new guidelines on how to use cell phones.
The California Department of Health has released new guidelines on how to use cell phones.

Words

  • authorities = government organisation that can make decisions
  • avoid = stop; not do something
  • brain tumour = illness in your brain  in which cells increase in an uncontrolled way
  • cancer = serious disease in which cells in one part of your body start to grow in a way that is not normal
  • cell tower = high object that sends out and receives cell phone signals
  • Department of Health = authorities that are responsible  for health programs and health information that is given to the public
  • emit = release, send out
  • guidelines = instructions on how people should do something or deal with something
  • handle = use
  • increase = go up
  • infertile = if you are not able to have babies
  • lawsuit = a problem that is settled by a judge in court
  • loss of memory = when you start forgetting things
  • public = the people in general
  • publish = to release official information to all people
  • radiation = form of energy that is sent out as waves that you cannot see
  • receive = pick up, get
  • recently = a short time ago
  • reception = the quality of the signal you get for your cell phone
  • suggest = recommend
  • usage = how something is used

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

World’s Largest Battery in South Australia

The world’s largest battery has gone into operation in Australia. American technology giant Tesla built the 100-megawatt lithium-ion battery for South Australia’s state government.

The battery was connected to the power grid only  2 months after Tesla and the Southern Australian government signed a contract. Tesla boss Elon Musk said that he could deliver the battery and make it operational within one hundred days. Tesla made the deadline easily.

According to the company, the battery can provide electricity for over 30,000 homes for an hour in case of an electricity blackout. It is also intended to help supply more energy during peak times.

The battery packs, about the size of a football field,  are connected to a nearby wind farm, 120 kilometres north of Adelaide.  They went into operation at the beginning of the Australian summer, when more energy is needed for air conditioning.

While many regions in Australia still rely on fossil fuels as their main energy source, South Australia gets a lot of its energy from renewable sources, especially solar and wind power.  However, backup energy is important for a region that has recently experienced severe storms.  The entire state witnessed a blackout in September 2016. 1.6 million people were left without electricity.

 

Tesla battery chargers in Adelaide Australia
Tesla battery chargers in Adelaide Australia – Image: Timeshift9

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • air conditioning = system that makes the air in a room cooler and drier
  • battery pack = several  batteries connected to each other
  • blackout = when everything  goes dark because there is no electricity
  • connect = link to
  • contract = official agreement between two parties
  • deadline = date or time by which you have to have something finished
  • deliver = to bring a product to a certain place
  • electricity = power that is carried in wires and cables  and is used for heating, lighting and to make machines work
  • entire = whole
  • especially = above all
  • experience = see, witness
  • fossil fuels = energy that is produced by dead plants and animals over millions of years; for example coal, oil and gas
  • however = but
  • intend = here: designed to work as …
  • lithium-ion battery = very powerful battery that can be used over and over again; it is used in laptops, cellphones, iPods etc..
  • make it operational = make something work
  • megawatt = one million watts
  • power grid = network of electrical wires that connect power stations
  • provide = give, deliver
  • recently = a short time ago
  • rely = depend on; need
  • renewable = here: energy that replaces itself naturally and never ends
  • sign = to put  your name on a document
  • severe = very strong
  • solar = from the sun
  • source = where something comes from
  • witness = experience, go through