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

 

 

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

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

Cult Leader Charles Manson Dies At 83

Charles Manson, the hippie leader who shocked the world in the 1960s, died at the age of 83. Manson, who has had health problems recently,  was serving a life-sentence in a Californian prison.

Charles Manson was the charismatic leader of a group known for murdering seven people in Los Angeles in 1969. Among them was Sharon Tate, a rising Hollywood star and wife of director Roman Polanski. Miss Tate was pregnant at the time she was stabbed to death 16 times. Although Manson was not at the scene of the crimes he ordered his followers to commit the murders.

Manson and his cult members roamed neighbourhoods looting stores and committing random murders. His racist views triggered widespread hate against Black Americans. The clan leader was a symbol of free-love and drug-driven California in the late 1960s.

In 1971, Manson and four of his followers were sentenced to death in the gas chamber. The sentences were reduced to life imprisonment when California’s Supreme Court abolished the death penalty in 1972.

In his youth, Charles Manson dreamed of becoming a rock star but was unsuccessful in his attempts at getting a record contract. This turned into hate against everything that represented the establishment and corporate America. His followers believed in everything he said and committed crimes on his behalf.

Charles Manson shortly before his death in 2017
Charles Manson shortly before his death in 2017 – Image: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Words

  • abolish = ban, not allow
  • although = while
  • attempt = try
  • charismatic = having the natural talent to attract people and make them like and admire you
  • commit = carry out
  • corporate America = here: the big businesses and companies that have a lot of power and can also make political decisions
  • death penalty = when the state legally kills someone who has committed a crime
  • drug-driven = here: a time when taking drugs was very common
  • establishment = group of people who have a lot of power  and influence and are often against changes or new ideas
  • hippie = someone in the 1960s who wore unusual clothes , had long hair and took drugs for pleasure
  • life imprisonment = being in prison for your whole life
  • life-sentence = to be in prison your whole life
  • loot = to steal things from shops that were destroyed
  • on his behalf = in his name; for him
  • pregnant = to expect a baby
  • racist = someone who believes that people of their own race are better than others; they treat them unfairly and sometimes violently
  • random = without a plan or pattern
  • reduce = to make something less
  • recently = a short time ago
  • record contract = to make music for a company
  • represent = to stand for something
  • rising = here: becoming more successful
  • roam = walk around without a clear direction or knowing what you want to do
  • sentence = a punishment that a judge gives you for committing a crime
  • serve = to spend time in prison
  • stab to death = to kill someone with a knife
  • Supreme Court = the highest court in the state
  • trigger = start
  • unsuccessful = when something does not work out the way you want it to
  • widespread = happening in many parts of the state

 

Disney Plans New Streaming Service

Entertainment giant Disney has announced that it intends to start its own streaming service in 2019. Subscription prices will be much lower than those of  Netflix and other competitors but the new service will not be able to compete with Netflix as far as quantity goes.

In addition to showing films like Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2,  Disney is also planning the production of a new Star Wars trilogy, a Star Wars TV series and several Marvel movies. The company is also working on TV adaptations of Pixar’s Monsters, Inc.

Disney will also launch a new  ESPN streaming service next year. It will feature many sports events including Major League Baseball, soccer and others.

Netflix has been streaming Disney and Pixar content for several years. Now Disney wants to pull their own content from Netflix’s services. A survey conducted shortly after the announcement of the new streaming platform showed that two out of 10 Netflix subscribers were willing to switch to Disney.

The world’s largest streaming service has announced that it will spend up to $7 billion on their own productions in 2018. They hope that focusing on original content will make viewers stay on board.

Consumers will have a tough time choosing which service offers the best content. In some cases, they may have to have several accounts in order to watch all their favourite shows and films.

Disney will produce its own Star Wars films
Disney will produce its own Star Wars films

Words

  • account = here: an agreement that lets you use a service; you have to have a username and password to log in
  • announce = to say officially, in public
  • billion = a thousand million
  • competitor = here: a business that does the same thing and wants to have more success
  • conduct = carry out
  • consumer = person who buys something or uses a service and pays for it
  • content = films and TV shows
  • focus on = concentrate on; give special attention to
  • in addition = also
  • intend = plan; if you want to do something
  • original content = the films and TV series they produce themselves, not the ones they buy from other companies
  • quantity = here: the number of TVs shows and films that people can watch
  • streaming service = a service that shows TV shows and movies on the Internet  whenever you want to see them, not when they are broadcast on a TV channel
  • subscription = here: the money you pay every month in order to watch a streaming service
  • survey =  a set  of questions you ask a number of people in order to find out what they want
  • switch = change to another service provider
  • tough = hard
  • viewer = a person who watches a TV show or movie

US Government Releases Most JFK Files

The American government has released over 3000 documents relating to the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963.  President Trump, however, has ordered some of the documents with sensitive information to be held back for 6 months after a request from the CIA and FBI. In 1992 President George Bush signed a law that required all documents about the JFK murder to be released within 25 years.

The published documents have not provided any sensational new information on the JFK assassination. The public had  hoped that the released documents would bring more light into the former president’s murder. Experts say that the decision to withhold some of the documents suggests that the government wants to keep some things secret .

Many of the documents are incomplete and some are only memos. The files show how disorganised government agencies were during the 1960s and how they dealt with the assassination.

In a series of memos, the FBI reports on Lee Harvey Oswald’s visit to Mexico City, where he met with a Soviet agent shortly before the Kennedy was killed. The material shows that authorities were trying to find out if a foreign government – Cuba or possibly the Soviet Union – was behind Kennedy’s death.

There is still no evidence that there was a conspiracy to kill the president. Nothing suggests that Lee Harvey Oswald worked with a partner.  There are, however, FBI documents that warned the Dallas police about a threat against Oswald. Kennedy’s killer was shot dead at the Dallas Police Department two days after the Kennedy assassination.

Among the documents are reports that are only indirectly related to the Kennedy killing, for example CIA plans to murder Cuba’s Fidel Castro .

John F. Kennedy in the motorcade shortly before the assassination
John F. Kennedy in the motorcade shortly before the assassination

Words

  • agency = organisation or department in the government
  • agent = person who works for another government
  • assassination = the murder of an important person
  • authorities = organisation or department in the government
  • conspiracy = a secret plan made by two or more people to do something that is against the law
  • deal with = handle
  • decision = to do something after you have thought about it
  • disorganised = without a plan or system
  • evidence = proof that something happened
  • files = documents
  • foreign = from another country
  • former = earlier, in the past
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • incomplete = not having everything that should be there
  • provide = to give; make available
  • public = ordinary people in a country
  • publish = to make public
  • relating to = about
  • release = to make public for everyone to see
  • request = a formal demand for something
  • require = here: the law says you have to do something
  • secret = not for everybody to know
  • sensitive = something that you have to deal with carefully
  • series =  a few
  • sign = to put your name on a document
  • Soviet Union = largest Communist country that existed between 1917 and 1991
  • threat = when someone says that they want to harm or trouble you
  • withhold = to hold back; not release

Sidewalk Toronto – City of the Future in Canada

Sidewalk Labs, a Google company, has announced  plans to build a futuristic city in Toronto, Canada. The new urban area, called Sidewalk Toronto, aims at turning the waterfront of Lake Ontario into a playground for city development and a testing site  for new technologies.

The project wants to make cities cheaper, healthier and even more exciting to live in .  The new city will offer its residents ultra-fast WiFi connections, lanes for self-driving cars and sustainable energy sources.  Thousands of sensors will report pollution and noise levels, as well as monitor traffic and levels of carbon monoxide.

Planners of Sidewalk Toronto want to find new solutions for  overpopulation, waste management , traffic , pollution and other urban problems. Several companies have said that they will make their services  available to the new city. 

Planners estimate that the project will cost around 1 billion dollars. However, it will also offer tens of thousands of people a place to live, work  and have fun. Eventually, similar projects may spread to other parts of the world, helping to build smarter and greener  cities.

Google has also announced that it plans to move its Canadian headquarters to Sidewalk Toronto.

 

 

 

Skyline of Toronto from Lake Ontario
Skyline of Toronto from Lake Ontario – Image: George Socka

Words

  • aim = wants to , plans to
  • announce = to officially say something in public
  • available = here: something that people can use
  • carbon monoxide = poisonous gas that produces carbon when it is burned
  • development = to become bigger, more modern and advanced
  • estimate = think about how much something will cost
  • eventually = as time goes on, slowly
  • futuristic = something  that looks unusual and very modern
  • headquarters = the main building or offices used by a large company
  • however =  but
  • lane = one of two or many areas on the road that keeps cars apart
  • monitor = watch, observe
  • overpopulation = too many people live on a small area of land
  • resident = here: a person  who lives in a city
  • services = work or help that a company gives you
  • similar = almost the same
  • solution = way of dealing with a problem
  • spread = move to another place
  • sustainable = something that can be used without causing danger to the environment or nature
  • urban = about a city
  • waste management = way of getting rid of unwanted materials and dirty water
  • waterfront = part of a city or town that is next to the sea or lake
  • WiFi connection = connecting computers and other machines to the Internet by using radio signals

 

2011 Tsunami Drives Marine Animals to US Coast

The 2011 tsunami , which led to the nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima, has swept thousands of sea creatures across the Pacific Ocean to the  US coast. In the past 6 years scientists have found mussels, starfish, crabs  and other marine animals washed up on the American Pacific coast. Marine biologists expect that there are even more species to arrive in the future.

The giant waves caused by the tsunami in Japan  were almost 40 metres  tall and washed objects into the open sea.  In 2012, scientists found debris together with living creatures on them near the Alaskan coast as well as in Hawaii. They were sea animals that have never before been seen there.

Scientists are surprised that marine species have been able to survive over such a long period in such bad conditions. However, most species travelled on plastic or glass objects, things that do not decompose and stay the same for many years. On the other hand, animals that travelled on wooden objects did not make the long journey across the Pacific, because wood lasts only for a short time.

Because the debris moved slowly across the ocean the animals had time to get used to their new surroundings as they travelled the 4,000 mile journey across the Pacific.

With so much plastic and other garbage swimming in the world’s oceans, the danger of marine animals being washed up on foreign coasts has never been greater.

Experts are not sure what effect these new species may have on the local environment. Such invasive species may change the ecosystem of the area  they arrive at. They might transport new diseases or kill off existing species . In any case, it will take a decade or more to see the results.

 

Starfish found off the Pacific coast
Starfish found off the Pacific coast

Words

  • crab= sea animal with a hard shell , five legs on each side and two large claws
  • creature = animal; living thing
  • debris = garbage, waste
  • decade = ten years
  • decompose = to break down into many smaller parts
  • disease = illness
  • ecosystem = the animals and plants in a certain area and they way they live together
  • effect = result ; change caused by an event
  • foreign = another country
  • garbage = waste; things people throw away
  • however = but
  • invasive species = plant or animal that does not grow naturally in an area but has come there from somewhere else
  • journey = trip
  • local environment = the world around the place that you live in
  • marine species = animals and plants that live in the ocean
  • mussel = small sea animal with a soft body  that can be eaten and a black shell that is split into two parts
  • nuclear catastrophe = here: an atomic power plant explodes and sends dangerous radioactive waves into the atmosphere
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • starfish = flat sea animal that has five arms and looks like a star
  • surroundings = the place or natural area around a person or animal
  • survive = live on after a dangerous situation
  • sweep – swept = to push something away
  • tsunami = very large waves, most of the time cause by an earthquake in or near the sea.

 

 

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

Canada Plans to Legalize Marijuana

Canada plans to allow the limited use of marijuana for adults by the middle of 2018.  For some time now, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been promising  that he intends to legalize recreational marijuana. With the new law, Canada is joining  some US states which  have also voted to allow marijuana. It will become the second country in the world to legalize marijuana on a nationwide basis. A short time, ago Uruguay became the first country to officially allow its citizens the use of pot.

The Canadian plan will allow users to possess 30 grams of the drug and grow up to four plants at home.  While possession is to be  allowed , selling the drug without a licence will lead to up to 14 years in prison. The government has also set the age limit for buying and using marijuana in public to 18. It will also control producers and give special licences to sellers.

On one side , Canada’s government hopes that the new law will stop the spread of illegal marijuana. But it also wants adults to decide for themselves if they want to use the drug. Opponents of the new law state that the government is sending a message that marijuana is not harmful. Experts agree that pot may have a greater physical influence on your brain than tobacco.

According to a report recently released by UNICEF more teenagers in Canada use cannabis than anywhere else in the developed world.

 

A marijuana cigarette
A marijuana cigarette

Words

  • according to = as shown or said by …
  • agree = to have the same opinion about something
  • brain = organ inside your head that controls how you think, feel or move
  • cannabis = marijuana
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • developed world = rich countries of the world
  • drug = substance that you smoke or use to make you feel happy
  • harmful = dangerous
  • illegal = against the law
  • influence = effect
  • law = rule that a government has passed
  • legalize = to allow by law
  • limited = controlled, not in a great amount
  • marijuana = drug that is smoked like a cigarette
  • nationwide = across the whole country
  • officially = formally
  • opponent = a person who is against something
  • physical = about the body
  • possess = to have
  • pot = another word for marijuana
  • recreational = for pleasure or fun
  • state = to say officially
  • UNICEF = worldwide organization that helps children who are poor or suffer from disease , hunger etc.