Archive for Rick English

A Wave of Ransomeware Attacks

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Hundreds of thousands of Computers around the world were hijacked last week. In Great Britain the blackmailers attacked 48 hospitals. Doctors had to move or cancel operations. In Spain, a large telephone company was affected. In Germany, computers of the country’s train system were attacked. Security agencies around the world are now investigating the attacks.

The blackmailers used a virus during the attack. After becoming infected with the virus, the computers can no longer recognize data. Next a demand appears on the screen. It tells the owners of the computers to pay blackmail money to remove the virus. Only then do the computers work again.

This kind of attack is called a ransomeware attack. They have been increasing rapidly over the past several years.

 

 

Have you ever been hacked?

 

 
This scale is based on the grade level of the text. For example, a “10.0” means the reading level of a tenth grade elementary textbook. A ’12’ is equal to the 12th grade or last year in high school, a ’13’ equals the first year in university. The grade levels correspond to the U.S. school system.

France Gets a New President

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A new president has been elected in France. The new president is Emmanuel Macron. He is for the European Union. Macron beat Marine Le Pen. She is against the EU.

Emmanuel Macron received 66 percent of the vote. Marine Le Pen got 34 percent. Macron will replace François Hollande.

Macron was very pleased with the victory. He is not in any party. He is said to be an independent politician. He used to be in the Socialist Party. Macron wants all French people to have equal rights and the same responsibilities. He wants to make many reforms, especially to the French economy.

On the other hand, his competitor, Marine Le Pen, wants refugees to have fewer rights. And she wants France to leave the European Union. The French rejected that view in this last election.

 

 

Which political category are you in?

 

 
This scale is based on the grade level of the text. For example, a “6.0” means the reading level of a sixth grade elementary textbook. A ’12’ is equal to the 12th grade or last year in high school, a ’13’ equals the first year in university. The grade levels correspond to the U.S. school system.

The Good and Bad Side to Chocolate

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We love chocolate. We love it so much we eat five kilograms of it a year. But how did it get so popular?

Chocolate was first introduced to Europe about 400 years ago. But it was quite different from the chocolate of the Aztecs in Mexico who first produced it. The Aztecs took the beans of the cocoa tree and ground them into a paste, which was added to water and drunk. It was incredibly bitter. When the Spanish explorers discovered it in the 1600s, they added sugar to sweeten it. This helped it to become popular among the ruling class in Europe.

As it spread across Europe, its price decreased and more people were able to experience its wonderful taste. Over the years, advancements were made in processing the beans and today its taste is very consistent.

But chocolate sadly has a dark side as well. Often, small children are forced to work on cocoa plantations. Because of this, the Fair-Trade Foundation has worked with cocoa growers to make sure they are not using child labor. By buying Fair-Trade chocolate, we can have chocolate that is both good for us and good for others.

 

 

How often do you eat chocolate?

 

 
This scale is based on the grade level of text. For example, a “5.0” means the reading level of a fifth grade elementary textbook. A ’12’ is equal to a the 12th grade or last year in high school, a ’13’ equals the first year in university. The grade levels correspond to the U.S. school system.

World’s First Lab-Grown Chicken Strips Announced

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Americans love chicken. In fact, it’s the most popular meat in the United States. Americans eat more than eight billion chickens per year. But bringing all of that chicken to the dinner table creates a lot of big problems. Meat production is bad for the environment and the welfare of the animals. Plus, it’s really quite inefficient and unsustainable.

Well, a high-tech food company in California may have the solution. In March of this year, Memphis Meats, a pioneer in the “,” announced the first chicken meat grown in a lab from chicken cells. They invited taste-testers to sample the chicken in front of the media. Those who tried it said that it tasted like real chicken, but a little spongier.

You may have to wait a while before you see the high-tech chicken in your local supermarket. It’s still extremely expensive to produce. They estimate that one kilogram costs almost 20,000 dollars. According to the company that price should come down, and they plan to release a reasonably priced product by 2021.

 

How often do you eat meat (beef, chicken, fish, etc)?
 

The push by high-tech companies to develop methods for producing meat directly from animal cells without having to breed, feed and kill animals.)

 
This scale is based on the grade level of text. For example, a “9.0” means the reading level of a ninth grade elementary textbook. A ’12’ is equal to a the 12th grade or last year in high school, a ’13’ equals the first year in university. The grade levels correspond to the U.S. school system.

Brexit Process Begins

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Brexit Process Begins (fast) fast

It’s official. Soon, Great Britain will no longer be a member of the European Union. Many people call Great Britain’s exit from the EU “Brexit.” It’s the first time for a country to leave the EU.

The country’s withdrawal will not take place immediately. Leaders from the UK and the EU still have a lot to discuss. They must decide on many rules for the exit. It will take two years to complete.

There are many controversial issues. For example, it’s not clear how much money Great Britain still owes to the EU. Politicians in the UK will have to rewrite many laws. People from other EU countries will no longer be able to live and work there without visas. New trade deals will have to be drawn up. And many people are now wondering if Scotland and Northern Ireland will try to leave the U.K.

Many EU politicians find it unfortunate that Britain does not want to stay. Some have even said that it’s a big mistake. President Donald Tusk of the European Union gave a speech to the press about the withdrawal. He called it a sad day and ended his speech by saying, “We already miss you.”

 
 

Was Brexit a good idea?
 
 

 
This scale is based on the grade level of text. For example, a “6.0” means the reading level of a sixth grade elementary textbook. A ’12’ is equal to a the 12th grade or last year in high school, a ’13’ equals the first year in university. The grade levels correspond to the U.S. school system.

Check out our new YouTube Channel!

Hello Listeners!

You may have noticed a few changes on the site recently, like the new shadowing app and more frequent stories. I hope they are helping your English studies.

Well, today I would like to announce one more. We have started creating videos to give an added dimension to our articles. Please try the link below and let us know what you think in the comments section.

News in Easy English YouTube Channel

 
 

Norway to Build World’s First Tunnel for Ships

Credit: Norwegian Coastal Administration

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Credit: Norwegian Coastal Administration

There are tunnels for cars, tunnels for trains, tunnels for pedestrians, but now Norway has a plan to build the first ever tunnel for large ships. The tunnel will be built in the west of the country for large seagoing ships. It will be 1.7 kilometers long and have a height of roughly 50 meters from top to bottom. This will make it large enough for even large cargo ships to pass through. It will cut through the narrowest part of a peninsula.

Credit: Norwegian Coastal Administration

The tunnel is being built to shorten a frequently stormy route in the region. The coastal waters in the west of Norway are particularly dangerous due to a combination of currents, shallows and high waves. Bad weather there often delays freight traffic and liner service.

There has been talk of building such a tunnel since 1870. Construction of the tunnel should begin in 2018 at the earliest. It is expected to take four years to complete.

 

 
This scale is based on the grade level of text. For example, a “8.0” means the reading level of a eight grade elementary textbook. A ’12’ is equal to a the 12th grade or last year in high school, a ’13’ equals the first year in university. The grade levels correspond to the U.S. school system.

Trump’s and Merkel’s Awkward Meeting

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On March 17 the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, met U.S. president, Donald Trump for the first time. Trump has been president of the USA since January 20th. The two talked about many things, for example about NATO. Trump wants Germany to pay more money for NATO. They also talked about fighting Islamic terrorism and the trade deficit.

During the election campaign last year Trump criticized Merkel several times. Specifically, he criticized her refugee policy. At the meeting in the White House, Merkel said it was better to talk with each other than about each other.

In one of the more awkward moments of the meeting, Trump appeared to refuse to shake hands with the German Chancellor. He did, however, shake hands with her when she arrived at the White House earlier.

 

What do you think about Trump's presidency so far?

 
This scale is based on the grade level of text. For example, a “5.0” means the reading level of a fifth grade elementary textbook. A ’12’ is equal to a the 12th grade or last year in high school, a ’13’ equals the first year in university. The grade levels correspond to the U.S. school system.

Volta – The Stylish Electric Bicycle from Pure Cycles

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A lot of us would love to go to work by bicycle. There are lots of reasons to switch. It’s good for the planet. It’s certainly healthier. And who really enjoys sitting in traffic?

On the other hand, it’s no fun starting out your workday all sweaty and tired. An e-bike seems like a perfect solution, but up to now they have been too heavy and ugly.

Enter the Volta, one of the most innovative e-bikes on the market now. The Volta weighs only 15.8 kilograms. That’s light enough to easily carry upstairs. The Volta comes with lots of options and features. You can choose a low maintenance, mess-free belt drive or a traditional chain. The rear-mounted motor makes steering it very natural. And it looks great; the battery is hardly visible, but it is able to give you a 64-kilometer range. And the motor has the power to take you up the steepest hills in your route.

It has other great features like headlights and taillights which automatically activate in low-light and an automatic brake light. It comes with a built-in GPS tracker in case your bike is ever lost or stolen.

Find out more about the Volta at their Kickstarter site in the link:

Volta on Kickstarter

 

How do you commute to work?

 
This scale is based on the grade level of text. For example, a “5.0” means the reading level of a fifth grade elementary textbook. A ’12’ is equal to a the 12th grade or last year in high school, a ’13’ equals the first year in university. The grade levels correspond to the U.S. school system.

The Radioactive Wild Boars of Fukushima

The Radioactive Wild Boars of Fukushima

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Hundreds of radioactive boars are roaming the towns of Fukushima. These towns were abandoned after the nuclear power plant meltdown in 2011. The Japanese government will allow residents to return to their homes in some towns this year. However, officials worry that the wild boars will attack people when they try to come back. Over the six years, the boars have lost their fear of humans. Some are even living in abandoned homes.

Hunters have been hired to kill the boars. So far around 800 have been killed. Boar meat is a popular dish in Japan. However, the meat of these boars is too dangerous to eat. In fact, it is 300 times over the safe limit. Disposing of the dead boars is very problematic; there are very few facilities to handle them.

Now, there are many wild animals in the area. There are reports of large populations of wild dogs and rats, as well.

 

 

Are you for or against nuclear power?

 
This scale is based on the grade level of text. For example, a “5.0” means the reading level of a fifth grade elementary textbook. A ’12’ is equal to the 12th grade or last year in high school, a ’13’ equals the first year in university. The grade levels correspond to the U.S. school system.