Protestantism Celebrates 500th Anniversary

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 criticism on the door of a church in Wittenberg, where he taught theology. 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 message spread across most of Europe. The Reformation caused 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.

 

 

 

Martin Luther
Martin Luther

Words

  • 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

World’s Lowest Wine Production in Over 50 years

The world’s wine production in 2017 is expected to be at its lowest since 1961. Grape harvests, especially in the major European wine-producing countries, Spain, France and Italy , are low. Thanks to surplus production in the last few years there is  enough wine available and there will be no shortages for consumers. However, wine experts say this could lead to an overall rise in wine prices.

Global wine production is expected to drop by 8%  to 246 million hectoliters, which would be the lowest overall production since 1961. Italy and France have reported that their grape harvest will go down by 20 % each  in  2017. Spanish production is expected to drop by 15 %. Nevertheless, the quality of the grapes is expected to be very good.

Countries that have had normal or larger grape harvests, like Australia, Argentina and South Africa will profit from the low European production and be able to sell bring more of their wine on world markets.

The United States, the world’s fourth largest wine producer, has witnessed wildfires in California, the country’s number one wine-growing state. But they have not done any significant damage because the crops had already been harvested.

There are two main reasons for the poor harvest in Europe. Cold temperatures  and frost in early spring damaged many vineyards. Dry summers and long heat waves have also lead to a drop in harvest figures. In some areas the decline in production means that small wine-producing families are facing financial problems and sometimes even bankruptcy.

 

Vineyard in France
Vineyard in France

Words

  • available = something that can be bought
  • bankruptcy = if you are not able to pay the money that you owe to others
  • consumer = a person who buys products
  • damage = when somersetting is destroyed
  • decline = go down, drop
  • drop = go down
  • especially = above all
  • expected = thought to be
  • face = deal with a difficult situation
  • grape = small round green or purple fruits that are grown for wine
  • heat wave = period of time when it is very hot and does not rain
  • however = but
  • major = very important
  • nevertheless = in spite of what was just said
  • profit = to have an advantage
  • rise = go up
  • shortage =  not enough of something
  • significant = to have an important effect on …
  • surplus = more than what is needed
  • vineyard = a piece of land where grapes are grown
  • witness = see,  experience

Estonia – A Digital Society

Estonia is a small Baltic state with a population of 1.3 million. Despite its size it is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world and has been creating a digital society since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

In Estonia, citizens are allowed to do most things online.  Every inhabitant has a unique ID card that they use for a number of purposes.They can file tax returns, get medical prescriptions  and manage their health records online. They can pay for a parking ticket via mobile phone and don’t have to go to a registration office when a child is born. Parents can check their children’s grades  and communicate with teachers. For many years Estonians have been able to vote online.

In 2014 the small Baltic country started a new digital initiative. It allows non-citizens to become digital residents for 100 euros. The government wants to bring qualified people to the country because the working population is steadily decreasing. The country desperately needs new programmers, web developers and media experts. Up to now 20 000 people from other countries have applied for digital citizenship.

Many countries, among them Finland and Japan are trying to copy Estonia’s digital society. However, authorities point out that the country’s smallness is an advantage. Such a system may not work very well in larger countries with millions of people.

Digital Summit in Estonia
Digital Summit in Estonia – Image: Anna Piperal

Words

  • advanced = very modern
  • advantage = here: something that helps you to be successful
  • apply = to make a request
  • authorities = the people who are in charge of a government organisation  or department
  • Baltic = region in the northeastern part of Europe
  • citizen = person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • collapse = breakdown , end
  • create = make
  • decrease = go down
  • desperately = very much
  • despite = even though
  • file tax returns = here: to send information  on how much you have earned to the local government; it then tells you how much tax you have to pay
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • health records = information about your health
  • however = but
  • ID card = small plastic card that has information about a person
  • inhabitant = a person who lives in a country
  • initiative = a new plan
  • point out = to show something that is important
  • population = the number of people living in a country
  • prescription = a piece of paper on which  the doctor writes down what medicine a sick person should take
  • purpose = what something is needed for
  • qualified = with special skills and talents
  • registration office = place where you have report to when a baby is born or someone dies
  • resident = a person who officially lives in a country
  • society = people in general and the way they live and work together
  • size =how large the country is
  • smallness = not large in size
  • Soviet Union = largest Communist country that existed between 1922 and 1991
  • steadily = slowly
  • unique = being only one of its kind
  • via = by way of , through

 

Gold Found in Switzerland’s Sewers

Researchers have found that 3 million dollars worth of gold lands in Switzerland’s sewage system every year. After taking a close look at Swiss waste-water treatment plants, they claim that over a hundred pounds of gold and 6,000 pounds of silver  are washed away with waste. However,  it would be too expensive to remove the gold from the wasted water.

Switzerland is a country that processes and refines gold on a large scale.  About 70% of the world’s most precious metal passes through Switzerland in some way or other. Gold is used especially in the country’s watchmaking industry, which dominates the world market.

Other valuable metals pass through the country’ sewage system, but they do not pose an environmental threat.

Most of the refineries lie in the southern canton Ticino, only a short distance from the Italian border.

Swiss watch
Swiss watch – Image: Joe Haupt

 

Words

  • border = line between two countries
  • canton = province of Switzerland
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • dominate = to be number one
  • environmental threat = danger to the world around us
  • especially = above all
  • pose = cause a problem
  • precious = very valuable
  • on a large scale = here: large factories refine large amounts
  • refine = here: to make gold purer
  • remove = take something away
  • researcher = person who studies a subject in order to find out more about it
  • sewage system = a place where waste water  from households is collected; the water is cleaned and returned into rivers or the sea
  • valuable = expensive
  • waste-water treatment plants = place where waste water from households is cleaned from unusable material
  • waste = unwanted material that we do not need

90% Vote For Independence in Catalonia

Over 2 million people voted in Sunday’s referendum on whether Catalonia should become an independent state. The government of the province has claimed that over 90% were in favour of breaking away from Spain. Before the referendum took place , Spain’s Supreme Court ruled that the vote  was unconstitutional.

The Spanish government in Madrid sent thousand s of policemen and other security officers to Catalonia to stop people from voting. Police in Barcelona and other towns fired rubber bullets at protesters and tried to stop people from going to schools and other public buildings used as voting stationsHundreds of people were injured, many of them seriously.

About 7 million people live in Spain’s northeastern province. Catalonia has its own language and  culture. In the past decades it has received more and more autonomy. However, Catalonian separatists still want independence and their own country.  They say that the region is a rich part of Spain and keeps pouring money into poorer parts of the country. Catalonia is highly industrialised and represents about a fifth of Spain’s GDP.

The European Union fears that Catalonia may declare independence on its own and trigger a political crisis on the Iberian peninsula. This may lead to the rise of other nationalist movements, for example in Scotland or Belgium.

People protesting for an independent Catalonia
People protesting for an independent Catalonia – Image : Manifestació Som Una Nació, Nosaltres Decidim! 13

Words

  • autonomy = the right to have your own parliament and make some decisions on your own
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • decade = ten years
  • declare = to say officially
  • GDP = gross domestic product = the total value of all the goods and services that a country produces in one year
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • Iberian peninsula = southwestern part of Europe, made up of Spain and Portugal
  • independent = free
  • in favour of = to be for something
  • injure = hurt
  • nationalist movement = group of people who want to the region to become an independent state
  • pour = here: give
  • receive = get
  • referendum = when people vote in order to decide on a certain subject
  • represent = here: to have a share of
  • rubber = a soft material, usually used to make tires or boots
  • security officers = people who are responsible for the safety of others
  • separatist = person who wants to break away from his home country and become independent
  • Supreme Court = the highest court in a country
  • trigger = start
  • unconstitutional =  not allowed by the set of rules that a country is governed by
  • voting station = place or building where people can vote

 

 

Italian Supervolcano May Erupt Soon

Scientists have discovered that one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes , Campi Flegrei, a huge caldera near Naples may erupt soon. Geologists have  found evidence that magma may be  building up inside the volcano, which could blow up soon.

The supervolcano is only a few miles west of Naples, Italy’s third largest city. To the east lies Mount Vesuvius,  the famous volcano that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum in a massive eruption in 79 A.D.

The last eruption of Campi Flegrei happened in 1538 after a series of earthquakes hit the area. A catastrophic outburst, however, occurred 39,000 years ago when an eruption formed today’s caldera and sent 48 cubic miles of ash and magma into the atmosphere. Geologists fear that a similar eruption could be catastrophic for the 2 million people who live in Naples and the towns around it.

In the last few decades scientists have  discovered a hotspot, a zone of magma, that lies about 4 km under the town of Pozzuoli , a few miles away from the supervolcano. They think that this zone of magma has been in motion in the past years but cannot locate in which direction. At the beginning of the 1980s,  the surface of the caldera rose by 2 metres but sank again shortly afterwards. This may be a sign of building pressure inside the volcano.

While geologists cannot predict when a major eruption will take place, they are sure that there is activity going on inside Campi Flegrei.

 

Caldera at Campi Flegrei
Caldera at Campi Flegrei – Image : Donar Reiskoffer

Words

  • activity = here: magma that is moving
  • ash = soft grey powder that comes from an eruption
  • atmosphere = the mixture of gases that is around the Earth
  • caldera = a large crater at the top of a volcano; in some cases it is filled with water
  • cubic mile = one mile high, long and wide
  • decade = ten years
  • destroy = to damage something completely so that it no longer exists
  • discover = to find out something for the first time
  • earthquake = a sudden shaking of the Earth’s surface  that often causes a lot of damage and may kill people
  • erupt = break out
  • evidence = facts that show something is true
  • geologist = a person who studies rocks that make up the Earth and the way they have formed
  • in motion = moving all the time
  • locate = find out where exactly something is
  • magma = hot melted rock below the Earth’s surface
  • major = important, very large
  • massive = great
  • predict = say that something will happen
  • pressure = weight that is put on something
  • occur = happen
  • outburst = eruption
  • shortly afterwards = a short time later
  • similar =like; almost the same
  • surface = top part of an object

Olympic Games in Paris and Los Angeles

The next Olympic Games have been awarded to Paris and Los Angeles. Both cities will host the games for the third time. 2024 will mark the 100th anniversary of the second Paris Olympics. The city had already organised the summer games of 1900. The 2028 Olympics will be held in Los Angeles for the third time,  after 1932 and 1984. It is the first time that the International Olympic Committee has named host cities for two summer games at once. Los Angeles originally wanted the 2024 games but agreed to hosting them 4 years later.

The IOC presented the new hosts at a time when the organisation is troubled by corruption and accusations that some members took bribes to vote for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The 2024 Paris Summer Olympics are expected to provide jobs and growth to the city. According to city officials, the games will generate 11 billion dollars in income and create jobs for 250 000 people  in the next seven years. Although Paris already has many venues ready for the games, several new ones will be built. The city wants to attract  visitors not only with the best sports stadiums  but also with its unique  cultural and historical sites.

Los Angeles organizers have also said they want to use many existing structures  built in the 1980s in order to make the games as cost-efficient as possible.

After recent terrorist attacks in Paris, London, Barcelona and other major cities , security is expected to be the main factor for both events.

Today, not very many cities are keen on organising  major sports events. On one side bidding costs millions of dollars and on the other side holding the games themselves costs local authorities  and governments billions.

 

Olympic Torch Tower at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles
Olympic Torch Tower at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • accusation = statement that says someone has done something wrong or against the law
  • agree = to say yes to something
  • although = while
  • award = give to someone
  • anniversary = date or year in which something important took place
  • bidding = here: to offer to organize an event
  • bribe = to give someone money illegally and you expect them to do something for you in return
  • cost-efficient = here: to save money by using buildings or infrastructure that already exist
  • generate = produce , create
  • growth = businesses and the economy grow in a certain region
  • host = here: city that holds a special event
  • income = the money you get for the work you do
  • keen on = happy to do something
  • local authorities = here: the people who are in charge of ruling a town or city
  • main factor = most important thing
  • major = very important; large
  • mark = celebrate an important event
  • official = person in an important position in a country
  • security = safety
  • several = many
  • site = interesting place
  • structure = building
  • troubled = worried; having many problems
  • unique = unusually special; very good
  • venue = here:place where a sports event takes place

Diesel Cars Cause Thousands of Premature Deaths in Europe

According to a new report, diesel cars have caused  thousands of premature deaths in Europe in the past few years. These deaths could have been avoided if countries had met anti-pollution standards. The recently published paper comes almost two years after the Volkswagen scandal, in which the German car maker was caught cheating  on emission tests.

Europe is a continent with  about a hundred million diesel-driven vehicles, almost twice as many as  in all the other countries of the world  combined. Years ago governments and car makers encouraged consumers to buy diesel cars because they were cheaper, used less fuel and produced less carbon dioxide. Many governments also offered tax reductions if people bought diesel cars. What has not been known until now is that diesel cars produce more nitrogen oxides, which may cause lung diseases.

Italy, Germany and France were the countries that recorded the most premature deaths from diesel-polluted vehicles. Especially diesel trucks that drive in densely populated areas contribute to the high level of pollution.

The Volkswagen scandal also shown that emission tests are not accurate and that in some cases diesel vehicles emit up to 4 times more substances than they do when tested in a lab.

Since the scandal broke , governments in Europe and elsewhere have been trying to get people to buy more  petrol-driven cars. They have become more efficient than diesel vehicles and the difference in prices are not not as high any more.

diesel-powered car
Diesel powered car – Image by Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • accurate = detailed; exact
  • anti-pollution standards = laws that are made to keep pollution levels in a country low
  • avoid = stop ; not happen
  • carbon dioxide = gas that is produced when animal or people breathe out or when carbon is burned in the air
  • cheat = here: to trick people and not tell them the truth
  • combined = together
  • contribute = to help make something happen
  • densely populated = when many people live in a small area
  • efficient = if something works well
  • emission test = testing how much gas or dirty substances are sent into the air
  • emit = send into the atmosphere
  • encourage = to say that people should do something
  • especially = above all
  • fuel = liquid used to produce energy and make a car drive
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • nitrogen oxide = combination of nitrogen and oxygen
  • paper = report
  • petrol-driven = run with normal petrol, not diesel
  • premature = something that happens before the natural time
  • record = write down information
  • substance = material
  • tax reduction = to pay less tax than you normally would
  • vehicle = machine with an engine that is used to transport people or products

 

 

Prince Harry Talks About How He Struggled After Diana’s Death

For the first time England’s Prince Harry has talked about how he struggled emotionally 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 Together campaign , a charity that helps people who have psychological problems.

Prince Harry
Prince Harry – Image: Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee

Words

  • 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
  • struggle = fight against
  • urge = to say you should to something

Gotthard Base Tunnel Becomes World’s Longest Railway Tunnel

The world’s longest railway tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel, was opened after many years of construction. Trains can travel at speeds of up to 250 km an hour through the 57 km long tunnel. It took 17 years to complete and cost $12 billion. The engineering milestone will bring southern Germany and northern Italy closer together.

The new Gotthard Base Tunnel is also the world’s deepest tunnel, located 2300 metres below Swiss mountain peaks. A total of 2600 workers involved in building the tunnel had to excavate more than 28 million tonnes of rock.

Gottardino shuttle trains will be running between the two endpoints of the tunnel and make a stop at Sedrun, a mountain station in the middle. 65 passenger  and 240 freight trains are expected to travel through the tunnel every day. The Gotthard Base Tunnel  will reduce the time it takes trains to pass through the Alps. A journey from Zurich to Milan, for example,  will be reduced by an hour.

The new tunnel is part of a larger European transportation project that includes two other tunnels in the Alps. Ultimately, the EU plans a high-speed rail connection between its two major harbours, Rotterdam and Genoa.

During the course of history  the Alps have been a natural barrier to travel. In the past traders and merchants had to use mountain passes to travel from north to south. The first Gotthard rail tunnel opened in 1882, but as time went on it could not handle the growing traffic.

In the 1990s, Swiss citizens approved of a government plan to build a new tunnel. How hard such a construction feat would be soon became obvious . In places where there was hard rock boring was extremely slow. Workers could only advance only about half a metre every day.

The new tunnel is expected to reduce road traffic crossing the Alps as more and more lorries and cargo companies will put their freight on Swiss trains.

Gotthard Base Tunnel
Inside the Gotthard Base Tunnel – Image : Hannes Ortlieb

Words

  • advance = move forward
  • approve = to agree with something or to say yes to a plan
  • barrier = a mountain, lake or any other natural object that stops people from going somewhere
  • boring = to make a hole in the mountain by using a special machine
  • cargo = goods carried by a train, ship, lorry, plane etc..
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • course of history = as time went on
  • complete = finish
  • connection = joining or linking two places
  • construction = building
  • engineering = the building of roads, railways bridges etc..
  • excavate = remove earth
  • feat = something very difficult to do
  • freight = goods that are transported from one place to another
  • handle = deal with
  • harbour = place where ships load and load goods
  • high-speed = very fast
  • include = something as part of something else
  • involved = here: worked at the tunnel site
  • journey = trip
  • located = where something lies
  • lorry = truck ; large car that carries goods
  • major = very big and important
  • merchant = person who bought and sold things in the past
  • milestone = an important development in history
  • obvious = easy for everyone to see
  • peak = the top part of a mountain
  • reduce = lower
  • shuttle = train that travels regularly between two places
  • speed = how fast something is
  • Swiss = from Switzerland
  • ultimately = here: when the whole project is finished