Jakarta – A Sinking City

The Indonesian capital Jakarta is in danger of sinking . According to a new report by environmentalist groups the city could be completely submerged by 2050. Jakarta is one of the most densely populated cities in the world – home to about 10 million people.

Jakarta is sinking at an average of 10 cm a year and , currently, half of it is already below sea level. Even more alarming, the luxurious northern part of the capital, with its modern buildings and high-rises has sunk by 2.5 meters in the past decade.

Sinking is partly due to the 13 rivers that flow through the Indonesian capital. Torrential rainfall in the monsoon season causes flooding on a regular basis.

In addition to natural causes, part of the problem is man-made. The city does not have enough piped water for its growing population. Authorities can only supply about 40% of the clean water that the city needs. Many people draw water out of the ground for drinking and other purposesAs a result the land above the ground water sinks. 

As in many Third World cities, infrastructure cannot keep up with the growing population. There are not enough sewers and a lack of pipes for the city’s water supplies. Indonesian authorities are now considering evacuating and relocating millions of people if the city continues to sink.

Global warming is also playing its part in Jakarta’s dilemma.  As ocean levels are rising more and more water is being forced into the city, causing rivers to sometimes flow upstream. Plans are under way to build a sea wall to keep ocean water out of the city.

 

polluted river in Jakarta
Boy takes a bath in a polluted river in Jakarta – Image : Jonathan McIntosh

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • authorities = group of people in the city who have the power to make decisions
  • average = here: in a normal year
  • capital = the most important city in a country; usually where the government is
  • cause = lead to
  • consider = think about
  • currently = at the moment, now
  • decade = ten years
  • densely populated = many people live on a small area of land
  • draw = pull
  • due to = because of
  • environmentalist = person who cares about nature
  • evacuate = here: to move people to a safer area
  • force = the power with which something moves
  • global warming = the increase in the world’s temperatures
  • high-rise = tall building with many floors
  • in addition = also
  • infrastructure = the basic systems that a city or country needs in order to work the way it should: for example roads, hospitals, bridges, public transport etc…
  • lack = not enough
  • natural causes = here: problems that are caused by nature
  • partly = some of it, but not all of it
  • piped water = clean water that runs through tubes to people’s homes
  • purpose = for something you want to do
  • relocate = to move a person to another place
  • sea level = the normal height of the sea, used as a standard for measuring other objects
  • sewer = pipe under ground that carries away waste material and dirty water from houses and factories
  • submerge = to cover completely with water
  • supply = give to the people
  • torrential rainfall = very very heavy rain
  • upstream = in the opposite direction of the way a river normally flows

Australia’s Population Reaches 25 Million

According to the country’s  census office Australia’s population has crossed the 25 million mark, almost a decade earlier than expected. Last year the population rose by almost 400,000, since 1970 it has doubled.

Since the end of World War II Australia has recorded a steady growth rate of 1.6% per year.  While natural increase makes up only 38% over 60% of the country’s growth comes from immigration. The Bureau of Statistics estimates that Australia will add another million to its population in three years time.

Australia attracts hundreds of thousands  of immigrants every  year. In the last two decades most of Australia’s newcomers have come from India, China , Great Britain and the Philippines. Today, over one third of Australia’s population  were not born in the country.

As in many other western countries, some politicians have called on the government to curb  immigration.  They argue that the rapid increase puts stress on infrastructure, demanding more schools, hospitals and public transportation. However, it also leads to a higher growth for Australia’s economy. Immigrants pay taxes and work in areas that Australians avoid.

One of the big problems is getting immigrants to move to rural areas, where there is already a shortage of skilled workers Eight out of ten Australians live in coastal regions . Melbourne and Sydney, the two largest cities of Australia, make up about 40% of the population. Much of the so-called outback is sparsely populated.

 

Country of Birth of Australian Residents
Country of Birth of Australian Residents – Image : Saruman-the-white

Words

  • according to = as said by, as reported by …
  • argue = give reasons for something
  • attract = here : to make something interesting so that people go there
  • avoid = don’t want
  • census office = place that is in charge of how the country officially counts its people
  • demand = need
  • doubled = to become two times as much
  • estimate = to calculate something in the future, based on the information that you have
  • cross = reach, move over
  • curb = slow down
  • immigration = when people go to another country in order to live and work there
  • natural increase = here: number of people who are born in the country minus those who die
  • newcomer = person who starts living in a new country
  • outback = the inner part of Australia ,  far away from the big cities
  • politician = someone who works in the government or in a political party
  • public transportation = trains, buses etc.. that everyone can use
  • put stress on = here: there is not enough for the growing number of people to use; you need more and more
  • rapid = fast
  • record = to write down information
  • rise – rose = go up
  • rural = in the countryside
  • shortage = not enough
  • skilled workers = someone who does something special they have learned through training
  • sparsely = only very few people
  • steady = slow but without stopping
  • tax = the money you pay to the government from what you earn; it is used for public services

 

 

Apple Worth 1 Trillion Dollars

Apple has become  the first US company to reach a market value of 1 trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) . The hi-tech firm has beaten  its rivals Microsoft, Google  and Amazon to pass the magical mark. Apple’s stock is now worth $207 per share, an all-time high. If it were a country, Apple would rank 17th in the world, on par with Indonesia.

Before Apple, only China’s oil giant PetroChina made it over the 1 trillion dollar  mark  back in 2007.  It’s value declined sharply shortly afterwards when oil prices collapsed.

Apple was founded in 1976 in a California garage by Steve Jobs. In the first two decades the company was famous for producing computers. Later on Apple developed its revolutionary MP3 player, the iPod, which also saved the company from bankruptcy 20 years ago.

The iPhone, the world’s first smartphone, was introduced in 2007 and has become the company’s flagship product. Up to now over 1.3 billion iPhones have been sold. Although Apple is currently selling fewer new models, sales and profits are rising. It is also making money by selling music and apps.

In 2017, Apple  has made profits in the range of $50 billion, selling over $220 billion worth of products .

Apple may soon be joined in the 1 trillion dollar club by other hi-tech giants . Amazon and Microsoft are close to the mark and may be passing it soon.

 

Apple headquarters in Cupertino , California
Apple headquarters in Cupertino , California – Image: Daniel L. Lu

Words

  • all-time high = the highest point ever reached
  • although = while
  • bankruptcy = situation in which you have no money left and cannot pay back what you owe to others
  • collapse = here: to go down very quickly
  • close = near
  • currently = at the moment
  • decade = ten years
  • decline = to go down very fast
  • develop = to design and produce a new product
  • flagship = the best and most important product
  • found- founded = here: to start a new company
  • introduce = here: to bring to the market
  • join = to be together with others
  • market value = what a company is worth on the market
  • on par = on the same level
  • profit = the money you get by selling products and services after  your costs have been paid
  • rank = position
  • reach = get to a certain point
  • revolutionary = something completely new and different
  • rival = another company that wants to be more successful than you are
  • share = a part of a company that belongs to you
  • stock = the total value of all the company’s shares
  • value = what something is worth

East African Rift is Growing Quickly

A large crack in the surface of the earth, several kilometres long,   has caused a highway to collapse in Kenya. The area lies on the East African Rift, where the Arabian and African plate meet.

The earth’s crust is broken up into several tectonic plates which are constantly on the move, gliding towards or against each other at various speeds. When these plates collide energy is set free, resulting in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

The East African Rift stretches over 3000 km from the Gulf of Aden in the north to Zimbabwe in the south.  It consists of several valleys that are filled with long lakes. Because the two plates are moving away from each other Eastern Africa will be separated from the rest of the continent.

A rift is the first phase of a plate that is breaking apart. After millions of years, it can lead to the formation of a new ocean.  A well-known example is a separation of Africa and South America and the creation of the Atlantic Ocean.

Where the earth’s plates move away from each other magma plumes come up through the mantle and cause volcanic activity. Forces are so strong that the plate breaks apart and causes major earthquakes. In many cases, plates move slowly, at a rate of only  a few cm per year and most of the time we don’t notice these movements.

East African Rift from outer space
East African Rift from outer space – Image: Christoph Hormann

Words

  • at a rate = how fast something happens
  • collapse = fall apart; break down
  • collide = crash into each other
  • consist of = is made up of
  • constantly = always
  • crack = a line that you see when something starts to  break apart
  • crust = the hard, outer layer of the earth
  • forces = here: the power or strength of an activity
  • formation = when something new is created
  • earthquake = a sudden shaking of the earth’s surface that can cause a lot of damage and kill people
  • eruption = if something  breaks out suddenly
  • glide = move slowly and quietly
  • magma plumes = hot melted rock from the inner part of the earth which comes to the surface
  • major = here: very strong
  • mantle = part of the earth below the crust
  • notice = to see something happen; to be aware of something
  • resulting in = something that leads to something else
  • separate = divide, split apart
  • several = a few
  • stretch = to spread from one place to another
  • surface = here: the top layer of the earth
  • tectonic = about the movments of sheets of rock that form the earth’s surface
  • various = different

 

Winnie Mandela – South Africa’s Mother of the Nation

Winnie Mandela was a female South African activist who fought against Apartheid, together with her husband, South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela. She died at the age of 81  in her home in Soweto, Johannesburg after a long illness.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was born in 1936  in the Eastern Cape province, which at that time was the homeland of Transkei. In her early life, she was a social worker in a hospital.

In the 1950s she met Nelson and married him in 1958. When her husband was imprisoned in 1963 it was Winnie who led the movement against Apartheid. For over two and a half decades she campaigned for his release. During this period Winnie Mandela was her husband’s link to the outside world.

Winnie was a prominent member of the African National Congress and the head of its Women’s League. When Nelson Mandela was released from Robben Island, it was the “Mother of the Nation”, as she was often called, who marched with him to freedom.

Shortly afterwards, the couple separated and divorced in 1996, two years after Nelson Mandela had become South Africa’s first black president.

Winnie Mandela continued her political career and became a deputy minister in the first post-Apartheid government. She was a member of parliament for several years.

However, Winnie was also a controversial figure and involved in many scandals. During the final years of Apartheid, she was accused of violence and blamed for killing and kidnapping informers in Soweto. She was sentenced to six years in prison, which was later turned into a fine.

After her death on 2 April 2018, politicians and human rights activists from all over the world praised South Africa’s most famous woman. Former Archbishop Desmond Tutu admired her as a revolutionary figure in his country’s history. The African National Congress said that the party had lost an icon.

 

Winnie Mandela - South Africa's Mother of the Nation
Winnie Mandela – South Africa’s Mother of the Nation

Words

  • accuse = to say that someone committed a crime
  • activist = a person who fights for something they believe in
  • African National Congress = political group that fought for the rights of black people in South Africa. It’s most famous leader was Nelson Mandela.
  • Apartheid = political system in South Africa, in which only white people had rights and people from other races, especially blacks, had to live separately; it existed between 1948 and 1990
  • blame = to be responsible for something
  • continue = to go on doing something
  • controversial = here: not everyone liked her and she also did bad things
  • deputy minister = person who is directly below the minister
  • divorce = to end a marriage
  • fine = to pay money as a form of punishment
  • freedom = being free and not in prison anymore
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • homeland = separate areas within South Africa where black people had to live
  • human rights = rights that everyone should have, like the right to vote or the freedom to speak freely
  • icon = someone who is famous and admired by many people
  • illness = being ill
  • imprison = put into prison
  • informer = someone who secretly tells the police about things that are going on
  • movement = campaign ; fight for beliefs and ideals
  • post-Apartheid = the time after Apartheid
  • praise = to admire a person for what they have done
  • prominent = famous; well-known
  • release = set free
  • revolutionary = here: a person who wants to change the system
  • Robben Island = famous prison island off the southern coast of South Africa
  • sentence = punishment that a judge gives to  someone who is guilty
  • shortly afterwards = a short time later

Malala Yousafzai Returns To Pakistan

Malala Yousafzai, a 20-year-old female human rights activist, has returned to Pakistan for the first time since being shot by Taliban extremists. She was attacked and shot in the head on a school bus in 2012 because she had been demonstrating for western values and more education for girls. Malala kept a diary about girls’ life under Taliban rule. It was turned over to the BBC and made public.

Yousafzai’s arrival in Pakistan and her itinerary of the four-day visit was kept secret by Pakistani police. Ms Yousafzai said that it had been her wish to come back to Pakistan and speak with ordinary citizens there.

After the attack six years ago Malala Yousafzai was transported to the UK where a bullet was removed from her head. She recovered fully and is now studying at Oxford University.

In 2013 Yousafzai appeared before the United Nations, where she received standing ovations for her courageous action. In 2014 she became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Since then the young activist has been the figurehead of the Malala Fund, an organisation which raises money to help girls and young women in need of education.

Yousafzai’s return to Pakistan has not been welcomed by everyone. Although she has many supporters in her home country Pakistan, the country’s male-dominated society has criticized her for actively fighting for female rights.

Especially fundamentalists and conservative men are against her and have organised hate campaigns on the internet. Many say that women do not need education and should maintain their traditional role in the household.

 

Malala Yousafzai in 2015
Malala Yousafzai in 2015 – Image: Simon Davis/DFID

Words

  • actively = here: not just talking but doing something  or taking action
  • although = while
  • appear = here: to hold a speech
  • arrival = when you come to a place
  • attack = to hurt someone with a weapon
  • bullet = small piece of metal that comes out of a gun when you shoot
  • citizen = person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • courageous = brave
  • demonstrate = to protest for or against something in front of many people
  • especially = above all
  • figurehead = someone who is the leader of a movement or organisation
  • fully = completely
  • fundamentalist = someone who follows religious laws very strictly
  • extremist = someone who has very radical opinions about politics and society
  • hate campaign = things that a person does in order to harm someone they don’t like
  • human rights activist = a person who fights for basic rights that everyone should have
  • in need of = who need
  • itinerary = a list of things you want to do or places you want to visit
  • maintain = keep up
  • make public = publish; show to everybody
  • male-dominated society = country where men are more important than women and have more power
  • Nobel Peace Prize = prize that is given each year to a person who has done important work to make the world a safer and more peaceful place
  • ordinary = normal
  • raise = collect
  • receive = get
  • recover = to get well again
  • remove= take out of …
  • rule = government
  • secret = here: known only to a few people
  • standing ovations = people get up and clap their hands loudly to show that they like what you have said or done
  • supporter = person who wants to help you and shares your opinions
  • Taliban = group that took control of most of Afghanistan in 1997. They are known for following Islam very strictly.
  • traditional role = here: what they have always done
  • welcome = to be glad about something
  • western values = the way people in western countries live and what they think is good  or bad

 

 

 

MH370 – A Plane That Went Missing 4 Years Ago

One of the greatest mysteries of aviation history happened on March 8, 2014. Four years ago Malaysia Airlines MH370 went missing on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The plane left its programmed flight path and headed south towards the Indian Ocean. During the last four years, several search teams have tried to locate the missing plane, but up to now, it hasn’t been found.

The Malaysian Boeing 777 with 239 passengers on board disappeared from ground station radar screens but flew on for another six hours.  Nobody knows what happened during this time. The last known location of MH370 was somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean near Australia. A few parts of the plane were washed up on Africa’s east coast and on islands in the Indian Ocean

Australia, China and Malaysia have taken part in hi-tech search operations that covered a total area of 120,000 square kilometres and cost  $200 million. Now, another search is being conducted by an American firm.

Investigators speculate on what may have happened on board MH370. Some experts state that there may have been some kind of mechanical failure while others consider a sudden loss of oxygen in the cabin and cockpit. Officials do not rule out the possibility of the pilot crashing the plane deliberately in unknown waters.

Aviation inspectors say that it is important to find out what happened to MH 370 in order to prevent such an accident from happening again.

 

Search operation for MH370
Search operation for MH370 – Image: US Navy

Words

  • aviation = the science of flying an airplane
  • conduct = carry out
  • consider = think about
  • cover = stretch = reach from one place to another
  • deliberately = on purpose; if you really want to do something
  • disappear = here: to be lost; not seen
  • firm = company
  • flight path = the course an airplane takes
  • ground station = here: building that watches and has contact with planes
  • head = to go in a certain direction
  • inspector = person who checks to see if something is done the way it should be
  • investigator = person who has the job of finding out what caused the accident
  • hi-tech = with the best and most modern technology
  • locate = to find out where something is
  • loss = to lose something
  • mechanical failure = an object or a machine on board the plane did not work the way it should have
  • official = person in a high position in an organisation
  • oxygen = element that is in the air and which we need to breathe
  • possibility = here: something may have happened
  • prevent = stop from happening again
  • programmed = here: the course it should have taken, according to flight computers
  • radar = machine that uses radio waves to find where something is and watch its movements
  • several = some
  • speculate = to guess about the possible causes or effects of something without knowing all the facts and details
  • sudden = something happening quickly
  • unknown = not known
  • wash up = when something drifts from the open sea to the coast

4400 Year-Old Tomb Found Near Giza Pyramids

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a tomb that dates back 4,400 years. Found near the famous pyramids at Giza, it probably belongs to a woman known as Hetpet, who was a female priest and closely connected to the royal family of the Fifth Dynasty.

Hetpet is well-known among ancient Egyptian archaeologists. Even though her mummy has not yet been found, some of her private belongings were discovered over a century ago.

The tomb found in the western part of the Giza necropolis is made out of mud brick and is in good shape. Its wall paintings show hunting and fishing scenes as well as animal offerings and monkeys gathering fruit.

Excavators unearthed 300 cubic meters of earth before they found the tomb. They hope there may be more discoveries to be made in what they call a very promising area of the cemetery. Even though much of the area has been thoroughly examined in the past centuries, modern technologies may still reveal new findings under the desert surface. Increased digging is also going on in Luxor and the Valley of the Kings

Authorities hope that the recent discovery will help boost Egypt’s tourism industry which has been declining since the Arab Spring of 2011.

 

The Giza Pyramid area
The Giza Pyramid area – Image: Ricardo Liberato

Words

  • animal offering = here: animals that are killed and given to God
  • Arab Spring = series of protests and revolutions in northern Africa and the Middle East in 2010 and 2011
  • archaeologist = person who studies old civilisations  and examines their buildings, tombs and what is left of that time
  • authorities = organisation within the government that is responsible for certain things
  • boost = improve ; make better
  • cemetery = area where dead people are buried
  • century = a hundred years
  • connect = link to; here: a close friend
  • decline = go down
  • desert = large area of dry land with rocks and sand
  • dig = to move the earth on the surface so that you can find something
  • discover = find for the first time
  • even though = while
  • excavate = to dig carefully in an area in order to find old objects like bones, cups or tools
  • examine = look at; observe
  • gather = collect
  • increased = more and more
  • mud brick = wet earth that is dried and used as a building material
  • mummy = a dead body that has been preserved  by wrapping it in cloth
  • necropolis = area of land where dead people are buried
  • priest = man or woman who does performs religious acts
  • private belongings = what belonged to her
  • promising = here: an area where archaeologists hope to make new discoveries  in the future
  • reveal = to find something that was not known at first
  • royal family = the king, his wife and children
  • surface = the top layer of something
  • technologies = methods of doing something
  • thoroughly = very closely; completely
  • tomb = stone structure  above or below the ground where a dead person is buried
  • unearth = to find something that has been buried in the ground
  • Valley of the Kings = area in central Egypt where kings and queens of ancient Egypt were buried between the 16th and 11th century B.C.

World’s Fishing Fleets Tracked From Space

For the first time, global fishing activity has been tracked from space. The data collected shows that 55% of the world’s oceans are used for commercial fishing, four times the area that is used for farming. In contrast, fish provides only 1.2% of the world’s food. 

According to the data, China is the world’s top fishing nation. In 2016 Chinese vessels spent 18 million hours catching fish on the high seas, travelling a total of 460 million km.

The fishing fleets of 5 countries (China, Spain, Taiwan Japan and South Korea)  account for more than 85%  of the world’s fishing.

Almost half of the total catch comes from the high seas, where industrial ships fish for tuna and shark. Smaller fleets stay near coastal areas.

The data was collected over a period of four years from 22 billion automated emergency radio signals of over 70,000 ships.  Although it is not totally accurate because smaller boats are not required to use tracking signals, it does show where most of the fishing takes place. Special software was used to generate maps that show where fishing is most intensive, such as the northern Atlantic and northwestern Pacific Ocean.

The study also shows that the biggest influences on fishing come from political and cultural activities. Environmental problems, seasonal differences or the changing of ocean currents do not affect fishing that much.

British fishing vessel
British fishing vessel

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • account for = to form a certain part of something
  • activity = things that people do
  • accurate = exact, perfect
  • affect = change
  • although = while
  • automated = here: created automatically
  • billion = a thousand million
  • catch = the fish that are caught at a certain time
  • coastal areas = near land
  • commercial fishing = here: ships catch fish and process them so that they can be sold to customers
  • data = information
  • emergency radio signal = every ship sends  signals to show where they are in case something happens to them
  • environmental = about nature and the world around us
  • fleet = the ships that belong to a country
  • generate = produce
  • global = worldwide
  • high seas = the parts of the ocean that are far away from land
  • in contrast = on the other side
  • influence = the power to affect or change something in a certain way
  • intensive = here: where most of the activity takes place
  • map = drawing of an area that shows where something is
  • ocean current = the movement of water in the world’s oceans
  • provide = offer, give
  • required = need to do or have something
  • seasonal = referring to the seasons
  • space = outside the earth; here: from satellites that orbit the earth
  • track = to follow the movements of an object
  • tuna = large sea fish caught for food
  • vessel = ship

 

New Measles Outbreak in Europe

According to the World Health Organisation, there was a new massive outbreak of measles in Europe last year. There were four times as many cases in 2017 than there were in 2016, a record low year. Across Europe, over 20,000 people fell ill and 35 died.

The outbreak affected 15 countries. Romania, Italy and Ukraine reported the highest number of measle cases. 

One of the reasons for the new outbreak is that more and more adults don’t want to get vaccinated. Most children in European countries are vaccinated at an early age, however, recently more and more parents have not wanted their children treated. Italy, for example,  reported that only 85% of all under two-year-olds are vaccinated.

Measles is an infectious disease that can be deadly if not treated. It starts with a runny nose, coughing and sneezing and is often accompanied by fever. Typical symptoms show a red-brown rash on various parts of the body. One in a thousand cases develops a swelling of the brain that may cause serious diseases and even lead to blindness.

Apart from Europe, measles has been on the decline worldwide.  For the first time in history, there were less than 100,000 measles deaths a year. About  85 % of the world’s children receive immunisation by the time they reach their first birthday.

The WHO has now put pressure on European countries to raise public awareness. Many are introducing measures to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated.

 

Measles on a person's skin
Measles on a person’s skin – Image : Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • accompany = together with
  • affect = here: happen in
  • apart from = except for
  • blindness = not being able to see anything
  • brain = organ inside your head that controls how you think, feel and move
  • decline = to go down
  • encourage = to get people to do something
  • however = but
  • infectious disease = illness that can be passed on from one person to another, especially through the air that you breathe
  • massive = very strong
  • measles = infectious disease in which you have a fever and small red spots on your body or face
  • measures = action; to do something
  • outbreak = here: an illness or disease that starts very quickly and affects many people
  • pressure= to try to make a person do something that you think is important
  • public awareness = to make more and more people know and understand something about a subject
  • raise = improve
  • rash = a lot of red spots on a person’s skin
  • receive = get
  • record = here: lowest ever
  • runny nose = when sticky liquid comes out of your nose, usually because you have a cold
  • swelling = a part of your body that becomes larger than normal
  • symptom = something wrong with your body that shows you have an illness
  • treat = to cure an illness by giving someone medicine
  • vaccinate, vaccination = to protect a person from an illness by giving them medicine that contains  a weak form of bacteria or the virus that causes the disease
  • various = different
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) = international organisation which helps countries improve their people’s health by giving them medicine and information about diseases