90% Vote For Independence in Catalonia

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

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

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

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

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

Words

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

 

 

Italian Supervolcano May Erupt Soon

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Words

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

Olympic Games in Paris and Los Angeles

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Words

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

Diesel Cars Cause Thousands of Premature Deaths in Europe

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words

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

 

 

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

For the first time England’s Prince Harry has talked about how he struggled emotionally after the death of his mother , Lady Diana, in September 1997. The 32 year old prince said that the the past few years of his life had been disturbing until finally his brother, William, urged him see a counselor.

Harry told journalists that it took him almost two decades to finally get over the tragic event. When Princess Diana died in a car accident, Harry was 12 years old.

He said that counselling helped him a lot because it is always good to open yourself up to a complete stranger. Apart from getting professional help, Harry started boxing to help overcome his grief.

In his late 20s Harry said that he had felt angry and left alone . He almost suffered a nervous breakdown as well. He said he had been dealing with the situation by not thinking about his mother and sticking his head into the sand.

Together with Prince William and his sister-in-law, Kate, Harry started the Heads Together campaign , a charity that helps people who have psychological problems.

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

Words

  • apart from = besides, also
  • campaign = movement ; events about a certain topic
  • charity = organization that gives money or goods to people who are poor or need help
  • counselor = a person who advises you and gives you help
  • decade = ten years
  • disturbing = worrying, upsetting
  • emotionally = about your feelings and how you control them
  • grief = extreme sadness because someone you love has died
  • nervous breakdown = a mental illness in which someone becomes extremely nervous and cannot deal with normal situations
  • open yourself up = to stop being shy and say what you really think
  • overcome = to control a feeling or a problem
  • psychological = about the way your mind works  and how it influences your behavior
  • sister-in-law = the sister of your husband or wife
  • struggle = fight against
  • urge = to say you should to something

Netflix Hits 100 Million Subscribers

The American video streaming service Netflix has 100 million subscribers around the world. This year alone the company has gained almost 5 million new viewers. Its content can now be seen used in 190 countries. Almost half of Netflix’s subscribers live in the United States.

The company expects to expand even more quickly as services in Asia, Africa and Latin America have just been started. Almost 75% of the world’s population live here.

A major part of Netflix’s success comes from producing its own shows.  “House of Cards”  or “Stranger Things” have won many awards become worldwide hits.

The success of the video streaming giant is also reflected at the stock markets. At the moment, Netflix has a market value of  $63 billion and its stock price continues to rise.

In the past decade, Netflix has changed the way we watch television.  More and more people are turning away from traditional TV, where you have to watch a film when it is aired or wait a week to watch the next episode of your favourite show. With video on demand viewers tend to watch whatever they want when they want to.

Competitors of Netflix have started to gain ground and are trying to make life tough for the streaming giant. Amazon Prime has launched its own streaming service and the big US networks are streaming their own shows as well.

 

Netflix
Netflix

Words

  • air = broadcast on television
  • award = prize
  • content = here: films and movies it offers
  • continue = to go on
  • decade = ten years
  • expand = to make bigger
  • gain = to become more ; get
  • gain ground = catch up with; to become better
  • launch = start
  • reflect = show
  • rise = go up
  • stock market = place where parts of companies and businesses are bought and sold
  • streaming service = when you can watch a video while it is being broadcast over the Internet
  • subscriber = person who pays money every month to use something
  • success = to achieve what you wanted; to become very good at what you do
  • tend = have a habit of doing something; to do something regularly
  • tough = hard
  • value = what something is worth
  • video on demand = you can watch something whenever you want to
  • viewer = a person who watches something on TV or the Internet

Gotthard Base Tunnel Becomes World’s Longest Railway Tunnel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words

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

Heathrow Airport Celebrates 70th Anniversary

London’s Heathrow Airport is celebrating its 70th anniversary.  The airport opened commercial services in 1946. Today over 70 million people pass through Heathrow Airport every year. It services 180 destinations  in 90 countries. Over 93% of all passengers are international travellers. In 2015, Heathrow was the world’s sixth largest airport.

Heathrow,originally named London airport, lies 14 miles (22 km) west of central London . Construction of a military airport began in 1944. By the time it was finished the war had ended and Heathrow was turned over to civil authorities. The first  passenger plane flew to Buenos Aires. In its first year of operation, 60000 passengers travelled through Heathrow Airport.

As time went on Heathrow grew and grew. In the last 10 years the airport has invested billions of dollars  in modernising facilities for travellers.

Last year Terminal 1 was closed to make way for a modernised Terminal 2, which was reopened in 2014. Currently, the airport has two runways but there are plans for the construction of a third runway for Europe’s busiest airport.

 

terminal 5 at Heathrow airport - image:
Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport – image: Citizen59

Words

  • anniversary = day on which an important event happened years ago
  • celebrate = to show that a day in history is important by doing something special  on it
  • civil authorities = organisation that belongs to the public, not the military
  • commercial service =  here: people pay money for travelling to and from other places
  • construction = building something
  • currently = at the moment
  • destination = place to travel to
  • facility = place or building that you use for something special
  • invest = here: to spend money to make it better
  • operation = here: in use
  • originally = at first
  • reopen = open again after being closed for some time
  • runway = long flat piece of ground on which planes take off and land
  • service = to provide something that people need