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.
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
The government of Thailand has announced that smoking on tourist beaches will not be allowed any more. Those who do not obey the new law must pay a fine of up to $3850 or risk going to prison for a year.
The ban will affect 20 tourist beaches. Authorities in Thailand have been coping with the problem of cigarette butts being thrown away and polluting the country’s wonderful beaches.
Tourism officials say, however, that there will be places further inland where tourists will be allowed to smoke.
The ban was proclaimed after authorities collected over 140,000 cigarette butts on a 2.5 km long stretch of beach on Phuket Island – 30% of all the total waste found near the coast.
Tourism makes up about 10% of the Thailand’s income. About 35 million people visit the country’s beaches every year.
affect = here: where the new law is put into effect
announce = to say in public
authorities = organisation or government department that has the power to make decisions
ban = law that forbids something
cigarette butt = part of a cigarette that remains when someone has finished smoking
cope = deal with
income = the money a country gets for services and products
inland = farther away from the beaches
obey = follow, respect
official = person who is in a high position
pollute = to make dirty
prison = building where you keep people as a punishment because they have done something wrong
proclaim = to say officially that something exists
Che Guevara was a Marxistrevolutionary who was a close aide of Fidel Castro during the Cuban Revolution. He was killed in Bolivia 50 years ago.
Che was born into a middle class Argentinian family in 1928 and studied medicine in his youth. From the beginning he was influenced by left-wing ideas and strongly opposed the government of Argentine leader Juan Peron.
Instead of finishing his studies, the young rebel decided to travel around South America, where he witnessedwidespread poverty and oppression among the population. In the 1950s he travelled to Guatemala where he saw how the CIA helped overthrow a leftist government.
In Mexico, Che Guevara met Fidel Castro and his brother Raul. Together , they planned to overthrow the pro-western government in Cuba. After Castro took power in 1959 , Che Guevara held some top posts in his government and also became Castro’s military adviser. He strongly opposed the United States and its policies. Instead he tried to strengthenties with the Soviet Union and spread socialism to Central America.
The Marxist revolutionary was sent to developing countries in order to show them how Cuban socialism worked. In Congo, he trained rebels to fight against government soldiers. Che Guevara was finally captured in Bolivia where he was he was executedin 1967.
adviser = person who gives you advice because they know a lot about a topic
aide = person who helps a politician or leader
capture = to catch a person and keep them as a prisoner
developing country = poor country in Africa, Asia or America
execute = to kill someone as a from of being punished
influence = to affect or change the way someone behaves or thinks
instead = in something’s place
government = the people who rule a country
Marxist = person who supports the ideas of Karl Marx. He explained changes in history as a result of the struggle between social classes
oppose = to be against
oppression = when you treat a group of people in an unfair way and do not give them the same rights that others have
overthrow = remove a leader or a government
policy = the way a government plans to handle a topic or problem
poverty= the situation of being poor
revolutionary = person who joins or supports a revolution
socialism = system in which many industries are owned by the state and rich people pay more taxes than poorer ones
strengthen = make stronger
take power = here: become a leader or the head of a government
Africa’s Great Green Wall is a project to create a natural wall of trees across Africa. The wall will stretch across Africa south of the Sahara desert from the Atlantic Ocean to the Horn of Africa. When finished the 8,000 km long and 15 km wide Great Green Wall will be the largest man-made structure on earth.
The project started in 2007 in an attempt to fight desertification, permanent drought and food shortages in countries of the Sahel zone, one of the poorest regions in the world.
However, the building of the wall is not moving forward fast enough. Up to now, only 15% of the trees have already been planted, mainly in Senegal. The ambitious project will cost over $4 billion. 21 African countries, the World Bank, the FAO and the French government have committed themselves to financing the natural wall.
The Great Green Wall will run through an area, in which the dry season can last up to 10 months a year. Experts claim that by 2025 a large part of the fertile land in the region could be lost if nothing is done to save it. In addition, the wall is expected to provide food for 20 million Africans and also bind millions of tons of carbon dioxide.
ambitious = good but difficult to do
bind = here: to make it stay in the ground and not let it escape into the atmosphere
carbon dioxide = gas that is produced when animals breathe out or when carbon is burned in the air
claim = to say that something is true, even if you cannot prove it
commit = here: to say that you will do something
desert = land where it is always dry and where there are few plants and a lot of rocks and sand
desertification = when farmland changes into desert
drought = long period of dry weather when there is not enough water for plants and animals to live
FAO = Food and Agriculture Organisation = organisation in the United Nations that helps produce food and gives it to poor people around the world
fertile = here: land that is good enough to produce food
mainly = mostly
move forward = to make progress; here: to continue building
permanent = existing for a long time
provide = give
Sahel zone = dry area of land between the Sahara desert and tropical Africa
Miwa Sado is a Japanese journalist who died in 2013 after working too hard. Her case became public this week after labour inspectors publisheda detailed report.
The journalist worked 160 hours of overtime a month and then died of heart failure. She was working for Japan’s public broadcaster NHK and at the time of her death was gathering information on a Tokyo election .
The death of Sado is expected to make the Japanese government more aware of the health risks involved in working too much. According to a survey, about one in five workers risk a critical health condition because of too much work . Now the government wants to limitovertime to a maximum of 100 hours a month and fine companies that do not comply.
In another case that became known, 24-year old Matsuri Takahashi, killed herself in 2015 after suffering from stress and working long hours for a a Japanese advertisingagency.
Japanese employees , on average, work more hours than anywhere else in the western world. They also consume only a third of the holidays they are entitled to. Many Japanese work hard in order to show that they are loyal to their company.
In 2016, two thousand Japanese workers killed themselves due to stress and overwork. Many other died from stress-related diseases, suffering from heart attacks and high blood pressure. The Japanese refer to such work-related deaths as karoshi.
according to = as reported by
advertising agency = company that designs ads for other companies
aware = when you know that a situation exists
blood pressure = the power with which blood flows through your body
case = here: what happened to her
comply = follow the rules and laws
consume = use up ; spend
critical = dangerous
due to = because of
election = when people vote to choose someone for an official position
employee = person who works for a company
entitled = the right to have something
fine = money that you have to pay as punishment
gather = collect
government = the people who rule the country
heart failure = when your heart stops beating
labour inspector = a person who checks to see if companies obey the rules and the law
limit = here: not allow more than a certain number
loyal = here: to show that you are connected to a company
overtime = time that you spend working in addition to your normal working hours
public = known about by everyone
public broadcaster = TV company that belongs to the state
publish = to print something so that everyone can read it
refer = call
stress-related = coming from stress
survey = set of questions that you ask many people in order to find out what they think about a topic
More than half a million Rohingya have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in the past year. For ages, the people have been oppressed and discriminated against by the Myanmar government, which does not officially recognise them as a minority.
The Rohingya are a group of people without their own state. Living in western Myanmar, they have been deniedcitizenship, even though they have been there for ages.
The United Nations estimates that there were originally over 1 million Rohingya. Most of them are Muslim, a minority in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. They are among the most persecuted people in the world.
Since 2016, army forces have been carrying out attacks against the Rohingya. There have been reports that whole villages in western Myanmar have been burned down as well as accusations of mass killings. Refugees arriving in Bangladesh also tell stories of women being raped by soldiers.
Myanmar’s government says it is responding to attacks by rebel Rohingya groups. Officials say that the Rohingya are not being persecuted and treated like other ethnic groups in the country.
The United Nations , Amnesty International and other human rights groups have called for a stop to what they call the ethnic cleansing of western Myanmar.
accusation = to say that someone has committed a crime or has done something wrong
citizenship = the right to belong to a certain country
deny = here: not give
discriminate against = to treat someone differently or in an unfair way
estimate = here: to guess how many there really are
ethnic cleansing = to make people leave a country because of their race , religion or culture
ethnic group = group of people who belong to a certain race , or who have their own culture, tradition and language
flee – fled = to leave a place very quickly in order to escape from a dangerous situation
government = the people who rule a country
minority = small group of people who live in a country
oppress = to treat a group of people in an unfair way and not give them the rights that other people have
persecute = to treat someone badly or unfairly over a period of time, because of their religion, or social status
predominantly = mostly
rape = to force someone to have sex
recognise = to officially accept
refugee = someone who has to leave their country because of a war or other dangerous situations
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 stations. Hundreds 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.
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
60 years ago , on October 4th, 1957, the Soviet Unionlaunched the first man-made satellite into space. Sputnik showed that the Soviets were willing to overtake American technology. The launch was also the beginning of a new episode in the Cold War – the Space Race.
Sputnik looked like a big basketball and weighed 84 kilograms. Two radio transmitters and four antennae were attached to it. The satellite sent out a beeping signal and could be seen on Earth with the naked eye.
The Soviet satellite orbited the Earth over 1,400 times in a period of three months before it burned up in the atmosphere. A month later Sputnik 2 was launched, this time with the first animal on board, a dog named Laika.
Sergei Korolev was the father of the Soviet space program. He oversaw the creation of a booster rocket that sent Sputnik into orbit. Korolev was also responsible for bringing German engineers to the Soviet Union after World War II.
While Sputnik took the rest of the world by surprise, the Soviet Union told their people about the historic launch only a few days later.
In January 1958 the Americans were able to launch their first satellite into orbit. Explorer I remained in orbit until 1970 and was the first satellite to detect the Van Allen radiation belt. Later that year Congress passed a law that created NASA , the American space agency.
antenna = a long piece of wire used to receive radio or television signals
atmosphere = the mixture of gases that is around the Earth
booster rocket = a rocket that has enough power to send a satellite into Earth orbit
Cold War = unfriendly relationship between the USA and the Soviet Union after World War II
detect = to show that something existed
engineer = here: person who can understands how to build rockets and satellites
episode = time during which something happens
launch = start ; here: send into space
naked eye = without the help of a telescope
orbit = to go around a planet or star
oversee = to be in charge of ; the leader of
overtake = here: to do something more quickly than someone else
remain = stay
Soviet Union = largest Communist country in the world ; it existed between 1917 and 1991
space agency = government organisation that controls space travel and the study of space
transmitter = object that sends out radio signals
Van Allen radiation belt = particles of energy that are kept together by the Earth’s magnetic field
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.
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.
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 destroyedPompeii and Herculaneum in a massiveeruption in 79 A.D.
The last eruption of Campi Flegrei happened in 1538 after a series of earthquakeshit the area. A catastrophic outburst, however, occurred39,000 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.
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