British Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed 42-year-old Tracey Crouch as the country’s first Minister for Loneliness. She will continue the work started by Jo Cox, a Labour Party MP who was shot by a right-wingextremist in 2016.
According to a commission headed by Cox, about 9 million Britons feel some form of loneliness. Half of all people aged 75 and over live alone – about 2 million across the UK. Many of them go on for days and even weeks without communicating or talking to anyone else.
However, not only the elderly feel lonely. A growing number of younger adults, especially those who use social media heavily, are in danger of becoming lonely.
Doctors claim that feeling lonely raises the likelihood of suffering a premature death. It is even worse than smoking. People who are isolated for a longer period of time often do not seek help. They eat and exercise less, which can lead to increased blood pressure and heart disease. Loneliness is also associated with dementia and depression.
In addition to the creation of a new government ministry, the statistics department has received the task of working out a way of measuring loneliness. Theresa May has pledged to raiseadditionalfunds to deal with the issue.
according to = as reported by …
additional = extra
appoint = to choose someone for a job or a government position
associated with = connected to
blood pressure = the force with which blood travels through your body
claim = to say that something is true even if you cannot prove it
dementia = illness that affects your brain and memory; it makes you unable to think clearly
department = organisation inside the government that deals with certain problems
depression = condition in which you feel sad and worried; you are often unable to lead a normal life
especially = above all
funds = money
head = lead
heart disease = when your heart gets weaker
heavily = here: a lot
however = but
in addition = also
increased = higher than nromal
isolated = away from other people
issue = problem
likelihood = how much something can be expected to happen
loneliness = the feeling of being alone
measure = calculate how much something is
MP = member of British parliament
pledge = promise
premature death = when you die too soon; before you have to
raise = go up
raise = here: organise more money
receive = get
right-wing extremist = person who has radical conservative opinions and is willing to do violent things to achieve them
The European Union has released plans to recycle all plastic by the year 2030. It wants to ban all types of plastic that can only be used once. The measure comes as a consequence of China’s decision to ban imports of foreign plastic that is to be recycled in in the country. Currently, the EU exports half of its collected plastic, most of which goes to China.
The European Commission also plans to reduce plastic waste that is washed up on North Sea, Atlantic and Mediterranean shores. According to the new proposal, it will be illegal to dump plastic waste in the open seas.
Although the EU does not want to introduce a tax on plastic yet, it does aim at the development and production of new kinds of plastic that can be recycled in Europe. EU countries produce 25 million tons of plastic every year but only a fourth is recycled. It takes plastic hundreds of years to degrade.
The EU wants to invest 300 million euros to develop better plastic materials. The new strategy aims at making plastic recycling more profitable.
While the production of one-time-only usable plastic items, like drinking straws, coffee cups and takeaway packaging is to be reduced, families should also be persuaded to cut down on plastic usage altogether.
Non-EU countries are also consideringcracking down on plastic. Some countries have already started to tax the use of plastic bags. Iceland has announced that it will ban all plastic packaging for domestic products.
according to = as planned by…
aim = hope to do something
although = while
announce = to say something in public or in front of the media
ban = forbid
consequence = result of something that has happened
crack down on = to become more strict about dealing with a problem
currently = now; at the moment
cut down on = reduce
decision = choice you have made after thinking about something
degrade = when a material or substance changes into a simpler form
development = designing and producing something new
domestic = made in your home country
dump = here: throw something away at sea
European Commission = central organisation in the EU that has certain tasks to do
illegal = against the law
item = product
measure = action that should deal with a problem
persuade = to make someone decide to do something and give them reasons for doing it
profitable = to make more money out of something
proposal = plan or suggestion made by a group of people
recycle = to use over and over again
reduce = lower
release = announce; to say something in front of people and the media
shore = coast; where land meets the sea
tax = here: money you must pay to the government if you use or buy something
takeaway packaging = here: the packages that are used to put takeaway food into
Iceland has become the first country to make it illegal to pay women less than men. The new law, which took effect on January 1, imposes a fine on companies and government organisations employing more than 25 workers if they pay men more than women. The Scandinavian country wants to eliminate the pay gap between the sexes completely within the next four years.
Iceland has been considered the world’s fairest country in terms ofgender equality for the past nine years. In a country where half of the parliamentarians are female, women still earn about 15% less than men. The new Icelandic law aims at helping to change the attitude towards women in business and politics.
According to the World Economic Forum, a Swiss-basednon-profit organisation, there is a global 58 % difference in pay between the sexes. Economic experts predict that, if the current trend continues, women will have to wait over two hundred years to get equal pay and the same opportunities at work.
There is also a lack of female politicians. Only a quarter of the world’s politicians is female and fewer than one in five ministers are women. Only 23% of the world’s parliamentary seats go to females.
according to = as reported by …
aims at = wants to achieve something
attitude = the feelings you have about someone or something
considered = thought to be
current trend = if the situation of today goes on
eliminate = get rid of; do away with
employ = to give a person work
equal = the same
gender equality = the same chances and opportunities for men and women
global = worldwide
illegal = against the law
impose = to force people to accept something
in terms of = if you look at or observe closely
lack = not enough
law = rule or regulation that a country has
non-profit = to use the money you get to help other people
opportunities = chances
parliamentarian = member of parliament
pay gap = the difference in the amount of money men and women get for their work
predict = to say that something will happen in the future
quarter = 25%
seat = here: an elected member of parliament
Swiss-based = organisation that operates out of Switzerland
After the end of World War II, as many as 9,000 high-ranking Nazi officersescapedpunishment in Germany and fledabroad, 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 officerscaptured 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.
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
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 Leagueschedules 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 criticshowever who say that the Christmas season is a time when everybody should be at home with their families. Some managerspoint 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.
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
Over the next few decades, Europe’s Muslim population is expected to continue growing. A studyestimates that by 2050 the Muslim population could grow to 58 million, or 11 % of the total European population, compared to 5 % today.
The study conducted by Pew research, is based on census and immigrationdata from 30 countries. It created three scenarios. In the first scenario, Muslim immigration into Europe would come to a complete halt. Even then, the Muslim population would rise to 7.4 %. This is because Muslims, on average, are 13 years younger than Europeans and have a higher birth rate.
On the other side, a high migration scenario is based on the flow of refugees from 2015- 2016 and expects it to continue. If this happens, the total Muslim population in Europe will rise to 75 million, about 14% of the total population.
According to the Pew report, not all countries will be affected evenly by future Muslim immigration. Germany and Sweden will see the biggest increases because these two countries accepted most asylum seekers during the 2015-2016 refugee crisis.
At the moment, Germany (5 million) and France (5.7 Million) have the largest Muslim populations in Europe.
The recently published study is likely to cause more debate on immigration into Europe. It citesinstability in the Middle East and Northern Africa as well as the ongoing conflict in Syria as the main factors that drive people to European countries. In the last 6 years seeking asylum in conflict regions was the most important motive for Muslims coming to Europe. Only few came to Europe for employment or education.
according to = as reported by …
affect = here: changed by the situation
asylum seeker = person who leaves their country because they are in danger, mostly for political reasons, and asks another country to let them live there
birthrate = the number of births for every 1,000 people in a year
census = official counting of a country’s population
cite = mention
compared = to look at two things in a similar way
conduct = carry out
data = information
debate = discussion
decade = ten years
employment = job, work
factor = reason
flow = steady movement of people
estimate = to calculate how big something will be based on the information that you have
halt = stop
immigration = when you go to another country and plan to live there permanently
increase = to go up
instability = when the situation in a country is not stable because of war or other conflicts
is based on = use something as the starting point for your research
is expected to = will probably
motive = reason
ongoing conflict = here: conflict or war that is continuing
refugee = people who have to leave their home because of war or a natural disaster
rise = go up
scenario = situation that could possibly happen
study = piece of work that is done to find out more about a subject
According torecent scientific researchconducted by Germany’s Max Planck Institute, the plague was in Europe as far back as the Stone Age. When scanning the remains of 500prehistoric skeletons, scientists found plague bacteria in six individuals. The samples come from Russia, Germany and the Baltic countries.
The deadly bacterium came to Europe during the mass migration of people who moved from Central Asia eastwards about 5,000 years ago. The findings suggest that the disease came to Europe in waves during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. Some experts think that people may have been moving eastwards to escape the bacterium.
Most of the people at that time were nomadic farmers who travelled with their livestock. Animals may have harboured the plague bacterium and helped spread it.
By analyzing the bacterium scientists hope to find out how it evolved and became more deadly over periods of time.
The plague was responsible for many mass killings in history. The deadliest was the Black Death which occurred in Europe during the 14th century and killed about a third of the continent’s population. It still causes deaths in certain areas of the world. Recent outbreaks in Madagascar have killed hundreds of people.
according to = as said by …
bacterium, bacteria = some living things, some of which cause illnesses or diseases
Baltic countries = Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
Bronze Age = time between 6,000 and 4,000 years ago when bronze was used for making tools
century = a hundred years
conduct = do, carry out
disease = illness
escape = get away from
evolve = grow; develop; change
harbour = here: to have something in them that is dangerous
livestock = animals such as cows, sheep, goats that are kept on a farm
mass migration = when many people leave their homes, often in order to escape from a dangerous situation
Neolithic = the last period of the Stone Age, about 10,000 years ago, when people started to live in small groups
nomadic = people who travel from place to place instead of living in one place all the time
outbreak = when something suddenly starts to happen
plague = deadly disease that produces high fever and swollen places in the body; it often leads to deaths of a large number of people
prehistoric = time in history before anything was written down
recent = a short time ago
remains = what is left of a body
research = to study a subject seriously so that you can find out more about it
responsible = the reason for something
scan = look at something carefully
scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a lab
spread = take from place to place
suggest = imply; to say that something is probably true
Stone Age = early time in human history when stone was used for making tools
One hundred years ago, in 1917, the Russian Revolution ended the monarchy. Tsar Nicholas II had to step down and the Bolsheviks underVladimirLenin took control of the country. As a result, the Soviet Union evolved and became the biggest Communist country in the 20th century.
The centennial celebrations did not stir up a lot of publicity and Russian media did not report extensively on the topic. The Russian government under Vladimir Putin all but ignored the anniversary.
In contrast, thousands of Communist party members marched through downtown Moscow in honour of the Bolshevists, holding up flags of Lenin and Stalin.
During the Soviet era, November 7th was always a state holiday with military parades and a display of power on Red Square. It was stopped after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Public opinion on the Russian Revolution is divided . While most citizens have a positive view of Lenin’s role in history they are opposed to the events that took place under Joseph Stalin’s authoritarian regime. On the other side, many Russians are proud of having won World War II and of the country’s military and scientificachievements.
Lenin’s legacy collapsed in 1991. After years of chaos and a massivegap between the rich and poor, stability returned in the new millennium. While many cities and towns still honour Lenin in some way, others, like St. Petersburg, have returned to pre-revolutionary names.
achievement = something important or successful that you have done and can be proud of
anniversary = a day on which something special happened years ago
authoritarian regime = government that forces people to do what it wants and where the citizens cannot state their opinions
Bolsheviks = group of people who supported the communist party at the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917
centennial = day or year exactly 100 years after a special event
century = a hundred years
citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
collapse = break down; when something stops existing
divided = split
downtown = the centre of a city
evolve = grow
extensively = in detail, very much
gap = big difference
ignore = pay no attention to something
in honour = to show how much you admire or respect someone
legacy = here: what is left over from a certain period in history
massive = very large
millennium = the beginning of the next one thousand years
monarchy = country in which a king, queen or another person rules
oppose = to be against something
parade = here: public celebration where soldiers and weapons move down the streets for the people to see
pre-revolutionary = before the revolution
publicity = attention that something gets from newspapers or TV
public opinion = what the people on the streets think
Red Square = large open area in the centre of Moscow
Pope Francis has announced that the Vatican will ban the sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products in the Roman Catholic state beginning in January 2018. A spokesperson for the Vatican said that the mini-state cannot allow the sales of a product that is clearly damaging to a person’s health.
Vatican employees, diplomats and a few other fortunate ones who have a so-called “shopping card” are allowed to buy cigarettes, groceries and even gas in the duty-free stores of the small country. Some employees have been buying cartons of cigarettes and selling them cheaply on the streets of Rome.
The Vatican earns about $11 million a year through the sales of cigarettes. Tobacco products are the second-largest source of income after tax-free gas.
Italy, which has a 22% sales tax has been urging the Vatican to stop selling products tax-free. It is thought that about 5,000 employees, diplomats and other residents are in possession of such a card and can shop in the Vatican’s stores.
announce = to say something officially, in public
ban = forbid, not allow
damage = to do physical harm to someone
duty free = sell products without paying any taxes
earn = here: to get money for the products that you sell
employee = someone who is paid to work for someone else; worker
fortunate = lucky
groceries = food and other goods that are sold at a supermarket
in possession = to have something that is yours to keep
mini-state = very small country
sales = selling a product
spokesperson = someone who has been chosen to speak for a company, country or the government
source of income = the place from which the money comes that you earn
urge = to strongly suggest that someone should do something
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant religion. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther published his 95 theses, which criticized the Roman Catholic Church. As a result, the new religion broke away from the high church in Rome.
Luther nailed his list of criticismon the door of achurch inWittenberg, where hetaughttheology. He attacked the Church because it claimed that a sinner could reduce God’s punishment by giving money to the church. He also claimed that popes were too powerful and abused their power.
A few years later Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. However, because of the printing press, which was invented at that time, his messagespread across most of Europe. The Reformationcaused widespread change in Europe. It led to wars and people leaving their home country in pursuit of religious freedom.
In England, Henry VIII broke his ties with the Roman Catholic Church and, based on Luther’s theses, founded the Anglican Church. Over the centuries Protestants have created many different branches of their religion. Many Protestants are found in Scandinavia, Germany and the United States.
About 800 million Protestants live in the world today. Even though there are still many disagreements between Protestantism and Catholicism, both churches have overcome their differences. Their relationship has improved since the 16th century.
The anniversary was celebrated throughout the Protestant world. Most ceremonies took place in Germany, the cradle of Protestantism.
abuse = to use something in the wrong way
anniversary = date on which something important happened in the past
attack = to criticise something in a strong way
based on = here: to create a new church out of Protestant ideas
cause = lead to
century = a hundred years
ceremony = important event that is performed in a traditional way
claim = to say that something is true
cradle = here: where everything began
disagreement = when two or more people do not have the same opinion
even though = while, although
excommunicate = to punish someone by no longer allowing them to be a member of the Roman Catholic Church
found – founded = create something new
however = but
invent = to make or design something new
message = news
printing press = machine that prints newspapers, books etc.. in large numbers
publish = to make something official, for everyone to see
pursuit = follow
nail = to fasten something to an object
overcome = here: not to argue anymore
reduce = make something smaller or less
Reformation = religious changes in Europe in the 16th century that led to the creation of Protestantism
sinner = a person who does not obey or follow God’s laws
spread = to move from one place to another
theology = the study of religion and religious ideas
theses = an opinion about something, often in writing
widespread= something that happens in many places at the same time