Cailfornia Legalises Marijuana For Recreational Use

California has become the largest American state to legalize the sales of marijuana for recreational use. In November 2016,  citizens in the state voted in favour of a proposition that would allow citizens to possess small amounts of the substance. It is now legal to grow six plants of your own or have an ounce of pot.

About 90 licences are to be handed out statewide to shops that want to sell recreational marijuana. In the last two decades, special shops have been allowed to sell marijuana only for medical reasons, in order to treat pain and anxiety. People who want to buy medical marijuana need a prescription from a doctor.

Apart from legalizing the drug, there will be strict controls monitored by state authorities. Californians will not be allowed to consume marijuana in public places or near schools. Local governments will be able to set up their own rules on where smoking is allowed.

Despite this new state law, the federal government still looks at marijuana as an illegal substance. California has become the eighth state to legalize the drug.

In 2016 California produced about 13 million pounds of pot. 80% of it was transferred illegally out of the state.The illegal marijuana market, currently at 5 billion dollars, is expected to grow to 7 billion in California by 2020. In addition, the state will be able to generate additional taxes from selling legal marijuana.

Shopkeepers who have been able to sell medical marijuana are worried that prices will go up because of additional taxes. Some fear that additional licences could ruin their business.

 

 

medical marijuana
Medical marijuana card that allows a person to buy marijuana for medical purposes

Words

  • additional = extra
  • anxiety = feeling worried about or afraid of something
  • apart from = besides
  • authorities = organisation that can make decisions
  • billion = a thousand million
  • citizen = person who lives in a place and has rights there
  • consume = here: smoke
  • currently = at the moment
  • decade = ten years
  • despite = even though
  • federal government = the government of the United States, not the state government
  • generate = produce, get
  • government = people who rule a country or state
  • hand out = give to someone
  • illegal substance = drug that is not allowed
  • in addition = also
  • in favour of = to be for something
  • legal = allowed
  • legalize = allow
  • licence = here: a document that allows you to sell something
  • marijuana = illegal drug that is smoked like a cigarette
  • monitor = to watch carefully
  • ounce = unit for measuring weight = 28.35 grams
  • pain = feeling you have when something hurts
  • possess = own, have
  • pot = another word for marijuana
  • prescription = piece of paper on which a doctor writes down what medicine you need
  • proposition = a suggested change of the law
  • public place = place where everyone can go to
  • recreational use = for fun or pleasure
  • ruin = destroy
  • small amounts = a little bit
  • statewide = in the whole state
  • substance = material ; here: drug
  • transfer = take, carry
  • treat = to try to help if oyu have an illness

 

 

Nepal Bans Solo Mountain Climbers

In an attempt to reduce the number of accidents and make climbing safer, Nepal has banned solo mountaineers from climbing Mount Everest and other peaks. In addition, beginning in January 2018, all foreign climbers will need a guide. The new law also prohibits blind and double amputee climbers from trying to reach the top peaks.

More than 200 people have died in an attempt to reach Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain, since 1920. The majority of deaths have occurred within the last 40 years. Recently, an 85-year-old mountaineer died in an attempt to be the oldest human to reach the top of Mount Everest. Two Europeans died while making a solo climb last spring.

Although mountaineers die for a number of reasons, almost every fifth death is caused by acute mountain sicknessAuthorities have announced that they will check medical certificates of climbers to see if they are physically capable of such a demanding task.

In addition to more safety, Nepalese authorities hope that the new law will create more jobs for mountain guides in the country. The government will also give Everest climbing certificates to high altitude guides and workers hired by foreign climbers.

Local citizens have welcomed the new law, but some officials fear that banning physically handicapped people from climbing could get them into conflict with human rights organisations.

According to statistics, 4,800 climbers have reached the top of Mount Everest since Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic climb in 1953.

Mountaineer in Nepal -
Mountaineer in Nepal – Image: McKay Savage

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • acute = an illness that comes very quickly
  • although = while
  • announce = to say officially
  • attempt = try to do something
  • authorities = organisation in a government that controls and decides certain things
  • ban = stop; forbid
  • capable = able
  • create = make
  • demanding task = activity that is very difficult to do
  • double amputee = someone who has lost both legs or both arms
  • foreign= from another country
  • guide = a person who shows you the way
  • high altitude = very high place
  • hire = to pay money to a person for a job they do
  • historic = when something important happened in history
  • human= person
  • human rights organisation = organisation in which people fight for the basic rights that everyone should have, like the right to vote or freedom of the press
  • in addition = also
  • law = rule, regulation
  • local citizen= person who lives in the region
  • majority = most of
  • medical certificate = piece of paper you get from a doctor or hospital that shows you are fit to do something
  • mountaineer = person who climbs high mountains in their free time
  • occur = happen
  • official = person who is in a high position in an organisation
  • peak = the highest part of a mountain
  • physically handicapped = person who cannot use parts of their body because of an accident or illness
  • prohibit = not allow
  • recently = a short time ago
  • reduce = lower
  • sickness = when you are ill
  • welcome = to be in favour of

Baba Vanga Makes New Predictions for 2018

Baba Vanga, a mystic Bulgarian woman who died in 1996, has been known for predicting future events. She predicted the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the rise of Islamic terrorism and the Christmas tsunami of 2004. For 2018, there are two events that the blind woman said would become true.

China will overtake the USA as the world’s number one economic power and scientists will discover a new form of energy on our sister planet Venus. These two predictions may, in fact, just have a chance of becoming reality.

China’s economy has been growing steadily for many years. Today, China’s share of the world’s economy is at 15.6 % while the US still is the largest economic power at 16.7% . Many experts say that China will be overtaking the USA soon.

On the other side, NASA is not planning to send a space probe to Venus but will send a spacecraft to the sun in 2018. The mission was scheduled for 2015 but postponed because of technical problems. The probe will fly by Venus and scientists do not rule out new discoveries of the planet that may be made.

Baba Vanga, whom many followers call the Nostradamus of the Balkans, made predictions up to the year 5079, when, according to her, the world and the universe will come to an end. In 2028 the world will suffer a global hunger crisis and in 3005 a war on Mars will change the trajectory of the planet.

Referring to her predictions of 9/11 and Brexit, Baba Vanga said that two birds of steel would attack America and Europe would cease to exist in its known form by the end of 2016.

 

Baba Vanga predicted the 9/11 attacks on the USA
Baba Vanga predicted the 9/11 attacks on the USA – Image: Wally Gobetz

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • Balkans = countries in the southeast part of Europe
  • cease to exist = here: not exist anymore
  • discover = to find something for the first time
  • economy = system by which a country buys and sells goods and manages its money
  • follower = person who believes in what someone else teaches or says
  • global = worldwide
  • mission = trip by a spacecraft to the sun, moon or another planet in order to get information
  • mystic = person who tries to get to know facts  by praying, and talking with God
  • overtake = here: to be better than ..
  • postpone = to change the date of an event to a later one
  • predict – prediction  = to say that something will happen in the future
  • probe = spaceship without people in it that is sent into space to collect information
  • referring to = to mention or talk about something
  • rise = here: when someone becomes very powerful
  • rule out = to decide that something is not possible
  • scheduled = planned
  • scientist = a person who works in a lab and is trained in science
  • share = part
  • spacecraft = object that can travel in space
  • steadily = slowly and regularly
  • suffer = to be in a bad situation
  • trajectory = path that a planet takes around the sun
  • tsunami = very large wave that can flood large areas when it hits the coast
  • universe = all space, including all  the stars and planets

World Health Organisation Introduces Gaming Disorder

The World Health Organisation has added the term “gaming disorder” to its International Classification of Diseases. It refers to people who are addicted to video and other games and cannot stop. It is the first update in the WHO’s catalogue in almost three decades.

According to the WHO, gaming becomes a disorder if you are unable to control how long you play and when to stop. When that happens, it gets control of your life, influences everyday situations and affects your daily routine. WHO officials say that excessive gaming is  a serious disorder that must be closely watched

In order for a person to be regarded as having a gaming disorder, the behaviour must be going on for at least one year, either constantly or in phases. Gamers put their addiction above their family life, meeting with friends and going to school.

On one side studies have shown that playing video games may help with problems like depression and dementia.However, gaming is highly addictive and many people play for a longer time than is healthy. As a result, people get fired for not going to work or miss school classes for a longer period of time.

Many continue with their addiction, even if they see and realize the negative consequences it leads to.

 

 

Gaming is now regarded as a WHO disorder
Gaming is now regarded as a WHO disorder – Image: Marco Verch

Words

  • according to = as said by …
  • addicted to = not able to stop doing something that may be harmful
  • addiction = when you have to and want to do something regularly
  • behaviour = here: too much gaming
  • classification = when you put people into a group
  • consequence = result
  • constantly = all the time, without interruption
  • daily routine = what you normally do every day
  • decade = ten years
  • dementia = illness that affects the brain, in which you cannot think clearly and behave in a normal way; you also forget a lot of things
  • depression = situation in which you are unhappy, nervous  and cannot live a normal life
  • disorder = mental or physical illness which stops your body from working the way it should
  • excessive = too much
  • get fired = lose your job
  • highly addictive = here: the will to play a game is so strong you cannot stop
  • however = but
  • influence = change
  • official = person who is in a high position in an organisation
  • realize = understand how bad the situation is
  • refer = to be about something
  • regard as = here: to put a person into this category
  • serious = very bad
  • studies = work that is done to find out more about a topic
  • update = change
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) = international organisation that is part of the United Nations, which helps countries improve the health of their population; it also offers information about diseases and provides medicine

US Life Expectancy Drops Because of Opioid Abuse

For the second year in a row life expectancy in the United States has decreased. One of the main reasons is the rise in opioid-related deaths, especially with young adults.

Life expectancy in 2016 was 78.6 years, compared with 78.4 years two years earlier. It is the first two-year decline in over 50 years. While life expectancy in other parts of the world is going up, the average American is dying at an earlier age.

According to a recently published report, overdoses of painkillers and other opioids are causing more and more premature deaths. The figures have risen from 6.1 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 21 per 100,000 people in 2016.

Last year 63 000 people died from some form of drug overdose. While 15000 of them were heroin addicts an alarming 14000 died from other painkillers. Most of them were in the 28-54 year age group.

In many cases, drug abuse is caused by a general dissatisfaction with a person’s personal situation. This results in depression and hopelessness if addicts don’t have a family to support them. Such victims don’t have the stability that they need. As a consequence, they turn to alcohol and drugs.

Opioids are drugs that reduce pain by targeting pain receptors in the brain. You need a doctor’s prescription to get them, but more and more people are buying them illegally on the streets.

While many start out with painkilling drugs, they later turn to heroin, also an opioid. In the terminal stages of cancer, morphine is often used to reduce a patient’s pain.

 

Different kinds of painkilling drugs
Different kinds of painkilling drugs

Words

  • abuse = using something in a way that you shouldn’t
  • according to = as reported by …
  • addict = someone who is not able to stop taking drugs
  • as a consequence = this results in; it leads to
  • average = normal
  • brain = organ in your head that control your thoughts, feelings and movements
  • cancer = very serious illness in which cells in your body grow in an uncontrollable way
  • compared with= to look at two things and see how they are different
  • decline = when something goes down
  • decrease = to go down
  • depression = a medical condition in which you are unhappy with yourself and cannot lead a normal life
  • dissatisfaction = here: not being happy with yourself
  • especially = above all
  • heroin = powerful and illegal drug made of morphine
  • illegally = not allowed; against the law
  • life expectancy = the number of years a person is expected to live
  • morphine = powerful drug that is used to make people calmer and stop the pain
  • opioid = a drug that acts on the nervous system to reduce pain
  • overdose = to take too much of a drug at one time
  • pain = the feeling you have when part of your body hurts
  • painkiller = medicine which removes or reduces pain
  • premature = when something happens before the natural time
  • prescription = piece of paper that a doctor writes so that an ill person can get medicine
  • recently = a short time ago
  • receptor = a nerve ending that gets information  and causes the body to react in a special way
  • reduce = lower
  • result in = lead to, be the reason for somehting
  • stability = here: strength
  • target = attack
  • terminal stages = the last days, weeks or months before a person dies of an illness

Baby Girl Born From Embryo Frozen 24 Years Ago

A human embryo that was frozen 24 years ago has now become a baby girl.  Emma Wren Gibson was born in Knoxville, Tennessee from an embryo frozen in 1992. The mother, Tina Gibson, at 25,  is only a year older than the embryo.  It is the longest known frozen embryo that has successfully become a baby.

The Gibsons are unable to have children of their own and, in the past, have taken care of several other children.

Couples who use IVF to have a baby usually end up with more embryos than they need. They can decide to store them for later use, dispose of them or donate them for scientific research. Many parents who have leftover embryos give them to special centres where they can be used for others.

Doctors claim them frozen embryos can develop just as well as fresh ones. The dangerous part, however, is the thawing process.Only about 75% of all frozen embryos survive it. Health experts think that there may be up to a million frozen embryos in the United States.

For those who can’t have babies, using a frozen embryo from a donation centre is similar to adoption, only that the baby grows inside the adoptive mother.

 

An eight-cell human embryo
An eight-cell human embryo

Words

  • adoptive = to become parent of a child that isn’t your own
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • develop = grow
  • dispose of = get rid of; destroy
  • donate = give something to an organisation in order to help
  • donation centre = here: a place where couples can give embryos they don’t need for others to use
  • embryo = a human being that has not yet been born but just started to develop
  • however  = but
  • IVF = in vitro fertilisation = process in which a human egg gets together with male sperm outside a woman’s body; it is also called a test-tube baby
  • leftover = here: embryos that you do not need any more
  • scientific research = when scientists try to find out more about a disease or medical problem
  • similar = like
  • store = to put things away and keep them somewhere until they are needed
  • successfully = having the effect that you wanted
  • survive= live on after a dangerous situation
  • take care of = to care for someone or look after them
  • thawing process = here: to take an embryo out of a freezer and wait until its body temperature becomes normal
  • unable = cannot

 

 

 

California Publishes New Cell Phone Guidelines

California’s Department of Health has published new guidelines on how to handle cell phones. It warns that radiation emitted from cell phones can be harmful but does not say that cell phones are dangerous.

.Health authorities in California suggest a few measures cell phone users should take. When sleeping, you should keep your phone at least an arm’s length away from your body.  You should also avoid keeping your cell phone in your pocket. They also recommend only using cell phones when reception is strong.

Some doctors agree that carrying cell phones close to your body could increase the risk of getting brain tumours , cancer and becoming infertile. It may also lead to headaches, hearing problems and a loss of memory. On the other side, there are many health experts who say that the risks cell phone usage present are not proven

Cell phones emit radiation in the form of low-energy radio waves when they receive and send signals from cell towers.    The frequencies that cell phones use could be linked to various illnesses.

The new cell phone guidelines have existed since 2009 but not been published. Recently, a Berkeley professor won a lawsuit against the Department of Health to release the guidelines to the public and push for more action.

 

The California Department of Health has released new guidelines on how to use cell phones.
The California Department of Health has released new guidelines on how to use cell phones.

Words

  • authorities = government organisation that can make decisions
  • avoid = stop; not do something
  • brain tumour = illness in your brain  in which cells increase in an uncontrolled way
  • cancer = serious disease in which cells in one part of your body start to grow in a way that is not normal
  • cell tower = high object that sends out and receives cell phone signals
  • Department of Health = authorities that are responsible  for health programs and health information that is given to the public
  • emit = release, send out
  • guidelines = instructions on how people should do something or deal with something
  • handle = use
  • increase = go up
  • infertile = if you are not able to have babies
  • lawsuit = a problem that is settled by a judge in court
  • loss of memory = when you start forgetting things
  • public = the people in general
  • publish = to release official information to all people
  • radiation = form of energy that is sent out as waves that you cannot see
  • receive = pick up, get
  • recently = a short time ago
  • reception = the quality of the signal you get for your cell phone
  • suggest = recommend
  • usage = how something is used

Facebook Introduces Messenger Kids

Facebook has announced that it will release a new version of its popular app Messenger for children aged between 6 and 12. They do not need their own Facebook account to access the app, called Messenger Kids.

With Messenger Kids, parents will be able to control what their children see and who they are allowed to communicate with. There are no ads in the children’s version and Facebook has promised not to use a child’s information for other purposesIn addition, children’s names will not be integrated into Facebook’s search tool. At the moment, the app will only be available in the United States.

Facebook aims at getting children to become used to its product even if they are under the age required to get a normal account. As the company is losing younger customers to rivals Instagram and Snapchat, the company is trying to get young users to connect to their product before competitors do.

Messenger Kids will offer text and video chat as well as stickers and drawing tools. Special detection filters prevent children from sharing sexual content or violence online.

According to Facebook,  over 90% of all 8 to 12-year-olds have smartphones or tablets. Many use their parents’ Facebook account.The new app is intended to give children a feeling of having their own account, while parents are still in control.  Messenger Kids will not automatically be converted into a normal Facebook account when children reach 13.

 

Children can now use a special Facebook app to contact their friends.
Children can now use a special Facebook app to contact their friends.

Words

  • access = use
  • according to = as said by …
  • account =a service that allows you to  do or  see things on the Internet
  • ad = picture, words or a short film which is intended to make people buy a product
  • aim = wants, plan to
  • available = here: use
  • announce = to say officially in public
  • communicate = talk, chat with or write to
  • competitor = rival
  • content = comments, pictures video etc..
  • convert = change into, automatically become
  • customer = person who buys something
  • detection filter = here: a tool that is used to stop bad things from getting seen by children
  • in addition = also
  • intend = plan to
  • prevent = stop
  • promise = to say that you will  do something
  • purpose = here: other things
  • release = here: you can download and use it
  • required = needed
  • rival = a company that sells the same things as you do
  • share = exchange, swap
  • sticker = here: a frame with a picture or words; you can collect them

 

Texting Celebrates 25th Birthday

Short Message Service (SMS), also called texting, is celebrating its 25th birthday. The first text message was sent in Great Britain shortly before Christmas in 1992 in Great Britain. It was British engineer Neil Papworth who sent the first message from a computer to a  mobile phone on the Vodaphone network. At that time mobile phones could only receive messages, not send them.

In 1994, Nokia presented its first mobile phone that could actually send and receive messages.  It was the first phone that could produce more than an audio signal. Shortly afterwards the first commercial SMS service started in Finland. Text messages were limited to 160 characters.

25 years later text messaging is widely popular.  97% of all smartphone users send some type of text message regularly. About 25 billion are sent every day. Today there are more complex messaging services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messanger and iMessage.

Media experts regard texting as the first step towards today’s smartphones, which are basically pocket computers with countless apps.

Texting has changed the way we communicate. For the first time, you could send the same text to different contacts at the same time and it didn’t matter if the recipient was reachable or not. A new language has also emerged with abbreviations and short sentences.

Texting on a mobile phone
Texting on a mobile phone – Image : Helar Lukats

Words

  • abbreviation = short form of a word or phrase
  • actually = really, in fact
  • basically = practically
  • celebrate = to show that an event is important
  • commercial = here: something that you can make money with
  • communicate = exchange information or get into contact with each other
  • complex = advanced; with many different parts
  • countless = very many
  • emerge = develop, appear
  • engineer = person who designs and builds machines and other objects
  • limit = only allow
  • network = here: system of telephone lines that are connected to each other
  • reachable = here: speak to someone
  • receive = get
  • recipient = here: a person who receives a message
  • regard = think of something as…
  • widely popular = used by many people

Europe’s Muslim Population Will Continue to Grow

Over the next few decades, Europe’s Muslim population is expected to continue growing.  A study estimates that by 2050 the Muslim population could grow to 58 million, or 11 % of the total European population, compared to 5 % today.

The study conducted by Pew research, is based on census and immigration data from  30 countries. It created three scenarios. In the first scenario, Muslim immigration into Europe would come to a complete halt.  Even then, the Muslim population would rise to 7.4 %. This is because Muslims, on average,  are 13 years younger than Europeans and have a higher birth rate.

On the other side, a high migration scenario is based on the flow of refugees from 2015- 2016 and expects it to continue. If this happens, the total Muslim population in Europe will rise to 75 million, about 14% of the total population.

According to the Pew report, not all countries will be affected evenly by future Muslim immigration.  Germany and Sweden will see the biggest increases because these two countries accepted most asylum seekers during the 2015-2016 refugee crisis.

At the moment, Germany (5 million) and France (5.7 Million)  have the largest Muslim populations in Europe.

The recently published study is likely to cause more debate on immigration into Europe.  It cites instability in the Middle East and Northern Africa as well as the ongoing conflict in Syria as the main factors that drive people to European countries.  In the last 6 years seeking asylum in conflict regions was the most important motive for Muslims coming to Europe. Only few came to Europe for employment or education.

 

Migrants near the Hungarian-Serbian border during the 2015 refugee crisi
Migrants near the Hungarian-Serbian border during the 2015 refugee crisis – Image: Gémes Sándor/SzomSzed

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • affect = here: changed by the situation
  • asylum seeker = person who leaves their country because they are in danger, mostly for political reasons, and asks another country to let them live there
  • birthrate = the number of births for every 1,000 people in a year
  • census = official counting of a country’s population
  • cite = mention
  • compared = to look at two things in a similar way
  • conduct = carry out
  • data = information
  • debate = discussion
  • decade = ten years
  • employment = job, work
  • factor = reason
  • flow = steady movement of people
  • estimate = to calculate how big something will be  based on the information that you have
  • halt = stop
  • immigration = when you go to another country and plan to live there permanently
  • increase = to go up
  • instability = when the situation in a country is not stable because of war or other conflicts
  • is based on = use something as the starting point for your research
  • is expected to = will probably
  • motive = reason
  • ongoing conflict = here: conflict or war that is continuing
  • refugee = people who have to leave their home because of war or a natural disaster
  • rise = go up
  • scenario = situation that could possibly happen
  • study = piece of work that is done to find out more about a subject