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

Environmental Pollution Kills More People Than Smoking and Wars

A new report concludes that environmental pollution is world’s number one killer. Every year it kills more people than global wars , natural catastrophes,  or hunger. About 9 million people die prematurely every year because of our polluted environment.  Experts state that this costs  about $4.5 trillion  a year, 6% of the world economy.

Researchers say that pollution has never reached such a dangerous level before. Pollution-related deaths are one and a half times higher than the number of people killed through smoking and six times higher than people who die in road accidents. The real figures are thought to be even higher because pollution isn’t monitored in some remote place in Africa , South America or Asia.

Two thirds of the deaths are caused by air pollution. Burning wood and coal, as well as fumes of cars and other vehicles cause 6.5 million deaths every year.

The authors of the new report examined not only air quality , but took soil and water probes as well. They received additional data from the World Health Organisation.

Most of the deaths  occur in poor developing countries  , where governments care less about the environment and do not have strict laws in effect. Bangladesh and Somalia are among the most polluted countries.  In India, the second most populous country in the world,  one out of four deaths is caused by some form of pollution. China’s environment is also considered to be one of the deadliest  in the world. 

On the other side Sweden and Brunei have the lowest pollution levels. Pollution in developed countries is especially high in low-income areas of large cities, whereas  the rural countryside shows very low pollution levels.

The report makes a few recommendations . Fighting pollution should become a priority everywhere and more funds should be made available to combat pollution.

Environmental pollution from a factory
Environmental pollution from a factory

Words

  • additional data = more facts and information
  • available = to be used
  • coal = hard black stone which is dug out of the earth and can be used  to produce heat and energy
  • combat = fight
  • conclude = to come to a result
  • developed countries = the richest countries in the world
  • developing countries = the poorest countries in the world
  • economy = the system of products , services and money in a country
  • environmental pollution = the process of making air, water  and soil dangerously dirty so that we cannot use it
  • especially = above all
  • examine = to look at something closely
  • fumes = gases and smoke that come out of a car or factory
  • funds = money
  • global = worldwide
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • level = amount
  • low-income = people earn very little money
  • monitor = watch closely
  • occur = happen
  • populous = many people live there
  • prematurely = something that happens before the normal time
  • priority = the thing that you think is most important  and that needs attention before anything else
  • probe = a sample of water or soil
  • recommendation = suggestion
  • remote = faraway
  • researcher = person who studies a subject very closely in order to get more information about it
  • rural = countryside
  • soil = the top layer of the earth, on which plants can grow
  • state = to say that something is true
  • strict = something that you must obey
  • whereas = on the other side
  • World Health Organisation = UN organisation that helps countries improve the health of the population by giving medicine and offering information about diseases
  • vehicle =  machine with an engine that is used to  take people or things from one place to another

More Amazon Rain Forest Destroyed By Mining

A recent survey , examining the years between 2005 and 2015, has come to the conclusion that more and more of the Amazon rain forest is lost due to mining operations. According to the government, most of these mining activities  are illegal and unregulated.

Brazilian environmental organisations  now say that mining is one of the major problems of the Amazon rain forest. Whereas earlier estimates put the destruction through mining at about 2% of the total area, experts now say that over 10% of rain forest loss is caused by mining. Most of the rain forest is cleared to create settlements for mine workers , as well as new transportation routes  and airports. Minerals mined in the Amazon region include iron ore, bauxite and copper.

The destruction of the rain forest through  mining is 12 times greater outside official and regulated  areas than within. In some cases  observers saw mining activity up to 70 km from a mine’s border.

Rain forests are essential to the planet’s climate. They bind carbon dioxide and provide a living space for many plants and animals . Since 2000 more than 190 000 square kilometres of the Amazon rain forest have been cleared.  The leading cause of deforestation is still farming.

Officials  also report that, for the first time in years, deforestation throughout the year has  actually decreased – by 16 % between  August 2016 and July 2017.  This is a result of more surveillance and stricter controls, but it is also caused by lower livestock prices on world markets.

 

Deforestation of the Amazon rain forest - satellite image
Deforestation of the Amazon rain forest – satellite image

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • bauxite = soft material that you use to get aluminium
  • bind = here: not let something escape into the atmosphere
  • border = the end of an area
  • carbon dioxide = gas that is produced when animals and people breathe out  and when carbon is burned
  • cause = reason
  • clear = here: cut down trees
  • conclusion = to decide or say something, based on the information you have
  • copper = soft reddish-brown metal that lets electricity and heat  pass through easily
  • decrease = to go down
  • deforestation = the cutting down or burning of all trees in an area
  • destruction = here: cutting down all trees in the area
  • due to = because of
  • environmental = about nature and the world around us
  • essential = extremely important and necessary
  • estimate = to calculate how big something is using the information you have
  • examine = to look closely at a topic in order to get more information about it
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • illegal = against the law
  • iron ore = rock that has iron in it
  • livestock = animals, such as cows or sheep, that are kept on a farm
  • loss = losing something
  • major = very important
  • mineral = material in the earth that is valuable and which you can sell
  • mining = the work of getting minerals, like coal, oil or metals out of the earth
  • official = here: allowed by the government
  • provide = offer, give
  • recent =  a short time ago
  • settlement = group of houses created to live in
  • surveillance = when the police watch a place very closely because there may be something wrong going on there
  • survey = questions that you ask people in order to find out more about a topic
  • unregulated = not controlled or watched by the government
  • whereas = although, while
  • within = inside

 

 

Australia Bans Climbing Uluru

Authorities at Uluru National Park have announced that tourists will no longer be allowed to climb up to the top of Australia’s most famous landmark. The ban will take effect at the beginning of 2019.  Officials say that  Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock,  is not an entertainment park, like Disneyland.

About 250 000 people visit the large red monolith in central Australia every year. However, only about  16% want to climb the rock.

Although Australia’s government  wants to keep the site open for hikers to climb, the decision was made out of respect to the native Australians who consider Uluru as a sacred place. In 1985 the government returned it back to the aboriginal people of the region. For a long time , local residents have asked visitors not to climb the rock out of respect.

National park authorities are worried that hiking to the top of 1,100 ft high rock will damage the UNESCO World Heritage SiteTour operators are now in search of other ways to show the monolith to its visitors, including camel rides around it.

Uluru National Park  is open all year round, but climbing is only allowed on certain days because of strong winds and other weather conditions. Climbing the rock is not always safe. In the last 70 years , 35 people have died in climbing accidents.

Not all locals, however, are in favour of the ban. Some say that hiking should only be allowed  with  a guide  and on special pathways.

Uluru
Uluru – Image: Thomas Schoch

Words

  • Aboriginal people = people who have lived in Australia from the earliest times on
  • although = while
  • announce = to say officially
  • authorities = an official organisation that controls or is in charge of something
  • ban = order that stops something from being done
  • consider = think that…; look at something as …
  • damage = cause harm to something
  • entertainment park = area where you can go to in order to have fun, ride on roller coasters etc..
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • guide = person who shows you around a place
  • hiker = someone who walks long distances in the mountains
  • in favour of = to be for something
  • including = also
  • landmark = something that is easy to see , even from far away
  • local = a person who lives in the area
  • monolith = a large tall block of stone
  • native Australians = the people who have been in Australia before Europeans came
  • official = a person in an organisation who is in charge of something
  • pathway = track that is made for walking
  • resident = a person who lives in a place
  • sacred = holy , religious
  • take effect = put into effect, become a law
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site = place that has been selected by the United Nations  because it is very valuable ; it should be protected by all countries

More Billionaires in Asia Than in US

For the first time in history there are more billionaires in Asia than in the United States. But, the amount of wealth among American billionaires is still higher than in Asia. There are a total of over 1500 billionaires in the world today , 10 % more than last year.  According to a new business report, one new billionaire pops up every second day.

The overall wealth of American billionaires reached $2.8 trillion last year, while Asian billionaires accumulated a total of $2 trillion.  If the trend continues,   within four years , Asian billionaires will have overtaken America . The combined wealth of the world’s billionaires has  increased to over $6 trillion.

The new Asian billionaires come mostly from India and China. Most of them make their money in consumer industries and technology. Especially in China,  billionaires are younger than elsewhere. Some haven’t even reached the age of 30 yet.

The new billionaires in Asia are investing large sums of their money in sports. They are buying whole sports teams in their home country as well as in Europe. Art and museums are other areas of interest for the new billionaires.

 

Li Ka-shing, one of the richest people in Asia
Li Ka-shing, one of the richest people in Asia – Image: EdTech Stanford University School of Medicine

Words

  • according to … =  as reported by …
  • accumulate = to get more and more money over a period of time
  • amount = here:how much money in total
  • billionaire = a person who has more than a thousand million dollars
  • combined = here: all billionaires in the world together
  • consumer industries = factories and companies that make everyday things that people need
  • especially = above all
  • increase = to go up
  • invest = to buy or spend money on something because you will need it later on
  • pop up = appears, comes up
  • overall = total, all in all
  • overtake = here: to have more than others
  • reach = climb up to ; increase to
  • sum = amount
  • trillion = 1,000,000,000,000
  • wealth = the money or valuable things that a person owns

Scientists Find Connection Between Sugar and Cancer Growth

A Belgian research team has found out that there is a connection between sugar consumption and the growth of cancer in a person’s body.

Scientists have found out that sugar not only gives us energy but may also be responsible for faster-growing tumour cells of cancer patients. Although  there is no proof that eating less sugar is good for cancer growth there are indications that if there are already cancer cells in your body sugar can make them grow faster. Low sugar diets, therefore,  could be beneficial for people who already have cancer.

The study shows that cancer cells process food differently than healthy cells in the body.  They also break down glucose, a form of sugar, more rapidly.

The research has been carried out for 9 years and now gives doctors new insights in the connection between sugar and cancer.

 

Sugar
Sugar

Words

  • although = while
  • beneficial = to have a good effect on your body
  • cancer = a very serious disease in which cells in one part of your body start to grow in a way that is not normal
  • carry out = here: to do experiments
  • connection = link, relationship
  • consumption = intake; the amount that we eat
  • diet = the food that we eat regularly
  • indications = signs that shows that something is happening
  • insight = to be able to understand  something better
  • process = here: to turn into substances that your body can use
  • rapidly = quickly
  • research = to study a subject closely in order to find out new facts about it
  • responsible = to cause or lead to something
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • therefore = that is why
  • tumour cell = the bad cells in your body that divide and increase quickly

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

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

Singapore Bans Additional Cars

The government of Singapore has announced that it will ban further cars from its streets and roads starting in February 2018 . Authorities in the island state want to avoid the country from being clogged up in traffic as space is running out.

Singapore has already limited the number of new vehicles that are allowed to drive every year. It has also increased registration fees and import taxes on private vehicles. In Singapore it is four times more expensive to own a car in than elsewhere.

Singapore, which is even smaller than New York, is the most densely populated country in the world. 12 % of the land is taken up by roads. Since 2000, the population has risen by 40% to 5.6 million. Currently, there are 600 000 private cars  in operation.

Citizens need a permit to own a car. They can get them at regular auctions that are held in the country.  Fees for a ten-year permit cost  at least $30,000 .

In addition to banning the registration of new cars, the government is spending 28 billion dollars  on public transport projects in the next five years. It is expanding its rail network  and has added new bus lines. 

Traffic in Singapore
Traffic in Singapore – Image: Jacklee

Words

  • announce = to say officially, in public
  • auction = here: event where people who offer the most money can buy permits
  • authorities = people or organisations that are in charge of certain things in daily life
  • avoid = stop something from happening
  • ban = forbid
  • billion = a thousand million
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • clog up = to become blocked
  • currently = at the moment
  • densely populated = many people live on a small area of land
  • elsewhere = in other countries
  • expand = to make bigger
  • fee = the money you pay for  a service
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • in addition = also
  • increase = to become bigger or more
  • limit = to stop from becoming  more and more
  • permit = document that allows you to do or have something
  • public transport = busses, trains, subways etc.. that everyone can use
  • registration fee = the money you pay for officially owning a car
  • run out = to become less and less
  • vehicle = machine or engine that is used to take people from one place to another, such as a car, bus or truck

 

Behaviour of Whales and Dolphins Connected to Brain Size

Scientists have found out that the behaviour of marine mammals, especially dolphins and whales, is connected to their brain  size . In a recent study, researchers have found out that mammals with larger brains behave in a more complex way.

Researchers have collected information on about 90 different types of dolphins and whales. They found out that social behaviour among these two  species is more complex  than previously thought.

Whales, for example, change calling songs regularly and pass certain information on to their younger ones and other groups. They use various languages which are similar to human dialects. Sperm whales, with a brain six times the size of a human one, organise other whales to babysit for them while they go hunting for food.

Other whale species, like blue or humpback whales, have smaller brains. They live in a more solitary way and don’t have long-term relationships.

Dolphins have a way of contacting  other individuals , even if they are not present. Scientists regard this as a form of gossip. As well as having rich and varied diets, they play and hunt  together.

Scientists think that bigger brains have evolved in order handle the complex way that mammals socialise.

Sperm whales
Sperm whales – Image : Gabriel Barathieu

Words

  • behaviour = the things that a person or animal does
  • brain = the organ inside your head that controls how you think , feel and move
  • complex = here: with many different parts; difficult to understand
  • especially = above all
  • evolve = develop
  • gossip = information that is passed on to others about how they behave
  • handle = deal with
  • mammal = type of animal that drinks milk from its mother’s body when it is young
  • marine = in the sea or ocean
  • previously = before now; some time ago
  • recent = a short time ago
  • regard = think, consider
  • regularly = often
  • researcher = a person who studies something closely in order to find out more about it
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • similar = like
  • size = how big something is
  • social behaviour = here: the way they behave in groups
  • socialise = here: to spend time together with others or in groups
  • solitary = spending a lot of time alone; not in a group
  • species = group of animals or plants that are similar and can have babies together
  • study =  a piece of work done to find out more about certain things
  • varied diet = here: they eat all kinds of different food
  • various = different kinds of …