Singles Day is the biggest e-commerce day in the world. Organized by China’s Alibaba, shopping sales on November 11 hit a record $25 billion, 40% more than on Singles Day 2016. In contrast, Prime Day, organized by Amazonachieved only $1 billion in sales. During the Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend of 2016 American online shoppers spent $5 billion.
Singles Day started out as an informal holiday in China, celebrating people who stayed single. Similiar to Valentine’s Day in the western world Singles Day took place on 11/11 . In 2009, Alibaba turned it into a shopping holiday and in the past 8 years, sales have steadilyincreased.
Although the event targets mostly Chinese customers, shoppers came from 220 countries. Over 80 brands took part in the event, with Nike and Xiaomi Corp. among the biggest winners. Household goods and electrical appliances were the most bought products, but customers soughtbargains for almost everything, ranging from cheap toilet paper to rice.
At its peak Alibaba’s computers handled 250 000 transactions per second, most of them coming in via mobile phones. In the weeks before the event was held, Alibaba had helped 600,000 companies upgrade their computer systems to make them fit for Singles Day.
The event was also turned into a gala in Shanghai where celebrities Nicole Kidman and tennis star Maria Sharapova counted down the seconds until the world’ largest sales event started.
Many critics of the event say that Singles Day is environmentallycontroversial. It creates an enormous amount of waste. According to Greepeace, 1 billion packages were delivered in the days that followed the event.
Alibaba’s Singles Day is a display of Chinese spending power. The company’s owner, Jack Ma, is one of China’s richest men. He has been investing heavily in new technologies includingautomated stores which use facial recognition systems.
according to = … as said by
achieve = here: reach a number of sales
automated = where everything is done automatically, without people helping
although = while
bargain = to buy something cheaply, for less money than usual
billion = a thousand million
brand = type of product made by a company
celebrate = here: in honour of, to show respect for
celebrity = famous person
controversial = here: to cause a lot of disagreement
critic = a person who is against something
customer = a person who buys something
deliver = to bring to a person’s home
display = to show something
e-commerce = buying and selling things with computers over the Internet
electrical appliance = things you use at home and need electricity, like a cooker or washing machine
enormous = very large
environment = nature and the world around us
facial recognition = when a computer image of a person can find out who they are
handle = deal with
heavily = very much
household goods = things that you need in the house and use every day
in contrast = the difference between two things
including = also
increase = to go up
informal = not official
record = highest
sales = buying and selling products
seek – sought = look for
steadily = slowly
target = people who the event aims at; potential customers
transaction = here: the sales of a single product
upgrade = here: to give a computer more power, so that it can do more things
via = by way of, through
waste = unwanted things that you throw away and don’t need any more
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 surveyconducted 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.
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
Pope Francis has announced that the Vatican will ban the sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products in the Roman Catholic state beginning in January 2018. A spokesperson for the Vatican said that the mini-state cannot allow the sales of a product that is clearly damaging to a person’s health.
Vatican employees, diplomats and a few other fortunate ones who have a so-called “shopping card” are allowed to buy cigarettes, groceries and even gas in the duty-free stores of the small country. Some employees have been buying cartons of cigarettes and selling them cheaply on the streets of Rome.
The Vatican earns about $11 million a year through the sales of cigarettes. Tobacco products are the second-largest source of income after tax-free gas.
Italy, which has a 22% sales tax has been urging the Vatican to stop selling products tax-free. It is thought that about 5,000 employees, diplomats and other residents are in possession of such a card and can shop in the Vatican’s stores.
announce = to say something officially, in public
ban = forbid, not allow
damage = to do physical harm to someone
duty free = sell products without paying any taxes
earn = here: to get money for the products that you sell
employee = someone who is paid to work for someone else; worker
fortunate = lucky
groceries = food and other goods that are sold at a supermarket
in possession = to have something that is yours to keep
mini-state = very small country
sales = selling a product
spokesperson = someone who has been chosen to speak for a company, country or the government
source of income = the place from which the money comes that you earn
urge = to strongly suggest that someone should do something
The Paradise Papers are documents which show how rich people – celebrities, politicians and businessmen use offshore countries to protect themselves from paying high taxes. The documents were leaked to the German Süddeutsche Zeitung and examined by 400 journalists from all over the world.
There are more than 13 million documents that contain 1,400 GB of information. They revealfinancial transactions of hundreds of individuals, as well as famous corporations like Apple and Nike.
Among those accused of investing money in offshore accountsto avoid paying taxes are close advisors of US President Donald Trump and German ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. The documents also reveal that some of Queen Elisabeth’s private money was invested in offshore accounts. Russian oligarchs with ties to the Kremlin and an aide to Canada’s Prime Minister are also named in the report.
The majority of the Paradise Papers comes from Appleby, a law firm that helps companies and rich people reduce their tax burden through offshore accounts. The firm with headquarters in Bermuda has thousands of clients and offices around the world. The other documents come from various businesses in the Carribean.
Two years ago the Panama Papers revealed similar documents. It showed how hundreds of people set up businesses in tax havens in order to hide their money and pay fewer taxes.
accuse = to believe that someone has done something wrong or illegal
advisor = a person who helps you and gives you information because they know a lot about a certain subject
aide = someone who helps a politician
avoid = to prevent something from happening
business = company
celebrity = famous person
chancellor = here: leader of the German government
corporation = large company
examine = to look at very closely
financial transaction = here: money moves from one place to another
headquarters = the main building or offices used by a large company
individual = single person
leak = to give secret information to a newspaper, TV station or journalists
majority = most
politician = person who works in politics, either for a government or a political party
offshore = here: country in which you pay less tax than elsewhere
offshore account = bank account in a country where you pay fewer taxes than in your home country
oligarch = boss of a group of people who run a country or organisation
reduce = lower
reveal = show something that hasn’t been known before
similar = almost the same
tax = the money you must pay to the government based on your income
tax burden = here: the amount of taxes you pay
tax haven = country where people go to live in order to avoid paying high taxes in their own country
A recentsurvey , examining the years between 2005 and 2015, has come to the conclusion that more and more of the Amazon rain forest is lost due tomining 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 bindcarbon 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.
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
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 increasedto 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.
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
The world’s wine production in 2017 is expected to be at its lowest since 1961. Grape harvests, especially in the major Europeanwine-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 significantdamage 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.
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
The last car , a General Motors Holden, has come off the production line in Adelaide, Australia. It ends a 90-year long era of car manufacturing in Australia. At its peak, the Adelaide factory built almost 800 cars a day .
GM Holden is a subsidiary of GM . The closure of Australia’s last car factory will not only leave almost a thousand workers without a job, but also endanger industries that produce parts for Australian-made cars.
Holden has been an Australian national symbol for many decades. The company, which started out as a family business in the mid 19th century, was bought by General Motors in 1931. In 1948 the FX Holden became the first car to be mass-produced in Australia. By 1960, every second car manufactured in Australia was a Holden. The company’s most popular car was the Commodore, which was introduced in 1978.
Since World War II a number of foreign auto manufacturers, including Toyota, Mitsubishi have opened and closed car production plants in Australia. Ford shut down its last plant a year ago.
There are many reasons behind the decline of Australia’s car industry. Through free trade agreements automobile makers no longer have benefits when producing in Australia. Other reasons are high wages and production costs as well as a small domestic market of 24 million.
As the Australian dollar became stronger the country’s exports became more expensive. Holden cars became less competitive , while imported foreign cars were cheaper . Since 2001 Australia’s government has been pouring in $ 5.5 billion into the car industry.
Even though Australia’s car industry has come to an end , the GM Holden will still be available from other manufacturing plants around the world.
agreement = when people, companies or countries promise to do something
available = it can be bought
benefit = advantage, help you do or get something
century = a hundred years
competitive = to be more successful than others
closure = to be closed
decade = ten years
decline = when something becomes less important
domestic = home
foreign = from another country
endanger = to put something in danger
era = period of time
foreign = from another country
manufacture = produce, make
mass-produce = to make something in large numbers so that it can be sold cheaply
peak = when it was most successful
plant = factory
pour = here: give
production line = products move along a line of workers who make or check each part
subsidiary = company that is owned or controlled by a larger company
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 second largest diamond ever mined has been sold to a private owner at a public auction in London. The Canadian company Lucara brought the diamond to the surface in Botswana two years ago.
The gem, called Lesedi La Rona, which means “Our Light“, is the size of a tennis ball and has a weight of 1,109 carats. The diamond was bought by a London jeweler for $53 million , the biggest diamond sale in the last one hundred years. In the next few months the new owner of the diamond wants to cut it into several smaller stones.
The only diamond larger than the Botswana diamond was the Cullinan , which was discovered in South Africa in 1905. It was cut into several smaller diamonds, which are today part of the British Crown Jewels.
Lucara tried to sell the diamond last year but did not get the price it wanted, probably because the diamond is extremely difficult to cut. The Canadian mining company is one of the largest in the world and operates diamond mines in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Angola and South Africa.
carat = a unit for measuring the weight of jewels; 1 carat = 200 milligrams
discover = to find for the first time
extremely = very
gem = a beautiful and valuable stone
mine = to dig deep holes into the earth and get valuable minerals, like coal, gold or diamonds out if it
operate = to control a company or organisation
public auction = a meeting where everyone can go to and where land, buildings, paintings and other objects are sold to the person who offers the most money for them.