Thursday, November 30, 2006

Girl, four, locked in school bus

Read this BBC story and complete the gaps with these verb forms:

1. are taken 2. had allowed 3. had apologised
4. have been rigorously reassessed 5. stuck 6. taken 7. was locked
8. was only discovered 9. was only found 10. was overlooked
11. was opened 12. was picked up

A four-year-old girl spent more than six hours _________ in a school minibus after she ________ in it for the day, it has emerged.
The pupil _________ in the morning and ________ to St Joseph's Cathedral Infants School in Swansea (Wales) but ________ as everyone else got off. The unnamed girl ________ at the end of the school day.

The school said it ________ to her parents and taken steps to ensure it could not happen again. “As a caring school and community we were deeply upset by this incident as parents expect the very best from our school,” it said in a statement.
“A situation like this has never previously occurred and we will ensure that it will never reoccur again.
“All our processes and procedures _________ to ensure the safety of all our pupils.”

The girl _________ when the bus _________ to take pupils home.
“Staff were upset by what happened and the school has apologised to the child's family,” said Mr Kavanagh, Chairman of the school governors.
“The child's parents are satisfied with the additional measures taken to ensure an incident like this cannot happen again.”
He said they _________ the girl to continue to use the bus service.

“An incident of this nature is extremely rare,” he added. “Thousands of young people in Swansea ________ to and from school on school buses and minibuses every day and no one at the council can recollect something like this happening there.”

Key: Move your cursor mouse here >> stuck--was locked--was picked up--taken--was overlooked--was only found--had apologised--have been rigorously reassessed--was only discovered--was opened--had allowed--are taken

US man saved from alligator jaws

Read this BBC story.
Complete it with these words/verb forms:

1. are broken 2. believed 3. broken
4. dragged 5. had admitted 6. is believed
7. responded 8. saved 9. waded
10.was later caught 11. was later described
12. was overshadowed

A naked man ________ from the jaws of a 12-foot (3.6-metre) alligator by Florida police officers after reports of a man screaming in a lake in the early hours.
Four members of the Polk County Sheriff department ________ through waist-deep mud in the dark to reach Adrian Apgar, 45, and pull him free from the alligator. Mr Apgar _______ as critically ill in hospital.
Police said it was unclear why he was in the water in the early hours, but he _______ taking crack cocaine.
They _______to calls from the public who had heard a man screaming for help at central Florida's Lake Parker at around 0400 (0900 GMT).
“I remember him saying: 'I'm over here, get here quick, he's still got me, he's going to kill me, my arms ________',” one of the deputies, Michael Parker, later told a news conference.
The four officials _______ Mr Apgar 40 metres out of the water, up a steep bank to the ambulance.
He ________ to have severe injuries to his left arm, a ________ right arm and leg injuries.
Another deputy, Billy Osborne, said that any fear of the alligator ________ by need to rescue the man.
“'It was a human being, he was dying. He needed help,” Mr Osborne said. “I knew my partners were behind me. I wasn't too afraid another alligator was going to get me.” The alligator _______ to have carried out the attack ________, wildlife officials said.

Key: Move your cursor mouse here >> was saved -waded- was later described- had admitted- responded- are broken- dragged- is believed- broken- was overshadowed- believed- was later caught

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pupils head to the farm for class

How much has school taught you about these things?
- how food is grown and produced
- how it reaches you, the consumer
- good nutrition
- tackling obesity

Read this BBC text

Pupils in England will learn more about how food is grown and produced and how it reaches the consumer under a new government scheme starting next year.

The scheme will see pupils from primary and secondary schools visiting local farms, tending school gardens and learning how to prepare food. It will also provide schools with educational materials.
The Year of Food and Farming in education will run in the academic year from September 2007 to July 2008.
Pupils will learn what "good nutrition" means and how it can contribute to a healthier lifestyle. They will also find out what the countryside can offer in terms of leisure, sports and employment.

At a conference - Food And Farming, Reconnecting A New Generation - the Environment Secretary, David Miliband, welcomed the scheme.
"As consumers we have a great deal of power when it comes to buying food," he said.

"As well as influencing our health, the choices we make really do make a difference to our countryside, the environment, and to tackling the biggest challenge we all face: climate change.
"Consumers need to make informed choices, and where better to start than in educating the next generation."

Public health minister Caroline Flint said: "Improving diet and increasing exercise are key to tackling obesity in young people.
"This is a great opportunity for young people to reconnect not just with the food they eat but also to get active and take advantage of the countryside that's out there waiting for them to explore."

The Year of Food and Farming was first put forward by the charity Farming and Countryside Education (Face). It is supported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Education and Skills, the Department of Health, the Royal Agricultural Society for England and other organisations in the food and farming industries.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rich nations accused of dumping e-waste on Africa

The British newspaper The Guardian has just published an interesting text on e-waste. The rich countries are sending this waste to some of the poorest nations. At least 100,000 computers a month are entering the Nigerian port of Lagos. Good quality, second hand pieces of equipment? Local experts estimate that between a quarter to 75% of these items are defunct - in other words e-waste, in other words, long distance dumping from developed country consumers and companies to an African rubbish tip or landfill.

Unbelievable, isn’t it? How do you feel?
Where is that old computer you dumped last year?

The Guardian wrote:
“Growing consumerism and improvements in technology are leading to an increase in the amount of dangerous electronic waste being dumped on the world's poorest nations, the head of the UN Environment Programme said today.

Addressing a conference of delegates from 120 countries in Kenya, Achim Steiner said that alongside growth in trade between countries had come "the globalised phenomenon of consumerism and what one might call 'built in obsolescence'."

Hi-tech products like mobile phones and computers were "driving the purchasing and discarding of products in a way unknown a generation ago," he said.

Mr Steiner said he had just learned that at least 100,000 computers a month were entering the Nigerian port of Lagos.

"If these were good quality, second hand pieces of equipment, this would perhaps be a positive trade of importance for development.
"But local experts estimate that between a quarter to 75% of these items including old TVs, CPUs and phones are defunct - in other words e-waste, in other words long distance dumping from developed country consumers and companies to an African rubbish tip or landfill."

Some 20 to 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste are generated worldwide every year.

In the EU the volume of e-waste is expected to increase by 3-5% a year, while developing countries are expected to triple their output of e-waste by 2010.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Dear CLIP Caramulo Students (3)

Would you like to visit a few weblogs in English?
I’ve selected a few weblogs that are interesting and may be helpful. You may get some new ideas to expand your weblog.

1. Breakfast's space school blog
Some British schoolchildren from Wellsway School in Bristol have visited the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida (WOW!) and mission control in Houston, Texas (WOW!), and describe their experiences, in their own words, on this blog.

2. Sandaig Primary School
Sandaig is in Barlanark in the city of Glasgow, Scotland.
This is their weblog and a very interesting one written by kids.

Read what they wrote about a non-uniform day. I’m sure you can correct some of their typographical mistakes. Try.

3. Welcome to The Downs CEP School, Walmer, Kent, England

The special ICT teams have made some amazing animations, puzzles, movies and much more... all using ICT. Wow!

Dear CLIP Caramulo Students (2)

Now take some time off ….. to laugh!

1. A history joke
Father: Why aren't you doing very well in history?
Son: Because the teacher keeps asking about things that happened before I was born!

Son: I can't go to school today.
Father: Why not?
Son: I don't feel well.
Father: Where don't you feel well?
Son: At school!

3. An ideal homework excuse
Teacher: Where's your homework?
Pupil: I lost it fighting a kid who said you weren't the best teacher in the school.

4. A math joke
Teacher: How much is half of 8?
Pupil: Up and down or across?
Teacher: What do you mean, up and down or across?
Pupil: Well, up and down makes two 3 or across the middle makes two 0!

5. A history joke
Teacher: Who succeeded the first king of Portugal?
Pupil: The second one!

6. A math joke
Teacher: Are you good at math?
Pupil: Yes and no.
Teacher: What do you mean?
Pupil: Yes, I'm no good at math!

Teacher: Why is the Mississippi such an unusual river?
Pupil: Because it has four eyes [iiii] and can't see!

8. Bad timing for an excuse
Teacher: Why were you late?
Pupil: Sorry, teacher, I overslept.
Teacher: It's three in the afternoon!

Dear CLIP Caramulo Students (1)

Your weblog CLIP is growing into a great experience, isn’t it?

You deserve our attention. That’s why I’ve decided to send you a few gifts.
You see, it’s Christmas next month! I’m sure you will enjoy visiting these webpages.
And, as a result, your English will improve.
Do you think you can turn (learning) English into a hobby? Believe me, that’s possible.

Have you thought of creating new sections in your weblog? You could turn yours into the best weblog in Portuguese schools! I’m sure your teachers would love that too, wouldn’t they?

Try this British Council webpage. It’s wonderful.
Then try one of the stories, Little Red Riding Hood, for example.
Don't forget to turn the sound on!

Don’t stop. Try the other stories. Tell your English teacher about them.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

JOSE MOURINHO has accused refs of favouring Man United

Two great football teams. Two many great players. Two brilliant coaches. A great football match. The English newspaper The Sun has highlighted Jose Mourinho's comments on referees. This is the typical build-up to a great match! To understand the story, you need some information not only about English football but also about recent refereeing problems there.
Read the story.
Chelsea’s boss let rip in the build-up to Sunday's Old Trafford blockbuster, where Howard Webb will be in charge.

Mourinho said: “We don’t want refs to treat us like they treated United when Tottenham’s Pedro Mendes had a shot which was two metres over the line and nobody saw it.
"We don’t want to be given penalties like United had in the first minute against Portsmouth to score as soon as the game has started.
“We don’t want any of that.
“We just want something that has always been abundant in the English game — fair play and dignity.”

The comments are sure to crank up the pressure on referee Webb, who was handed the game following recent controversies surrounding usual first-choice Graham Poll.

Mourinho added: “I know that people here don’t want us to win but in football the team that does enough to deserve the victory should win.
“You can’t be biased against one particular team because the team has won on many occasions in the past.
“Or because the owner of the club is who he is, or because the manager is who he is, or because the players are who they are.
“We want to win when we deserve to win and lose when we deserve to lose.”
Mourinho felt things went too far at Spurs as John Terry was sent off.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Nelly Furtado

Neil Smith, BBC News Entertainment reporter, talked to chart-topping pop singer Nelly Furtado about her music, career and her hopes for the future.

'Reinvigorated' Nelly cuts Loose
By Neil Smith Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Looking out the window of Nelly Furtado's hotel suite in central London, the skies look overcast and gloomy. From where the diminutive Canadian pop star is sitting, though, the view must look pretty good.

Her third album Loose is her most successful to date and has spawned two hit singles - Maneater, her first UK number one, and Promiscuous, her first number one in the US.

A five-continent tour is planned for early 2007, and earlier this month she was named best pop/rock artist at the World Music Awards.

One imagines that this acclaim and attention must feel all the sweeter given the tepid response her second album, Folklore, received in 2003.

But if Nelly is feeling vindicated or triumphant, she certainly does not show it.

Read the whole text here.

Rolling Stones 'beat tour record'

According to the BBC, Sir Mick Jagger is making loadsa money at the age of 63. Only great people can be that successful! How much money do you expect to earn one day?

Read the BBC story here.

The Rolling Stones' A Bigger Bang tour is the top-grossing tour in history, Billboard magazine has reported.
Since August 2005, the band have grossed $437m (£226m), playing 110 shows in front of 3.5 million fans.
The Stones' success comes despite the tour being dogged by delays and cancellations due to throat problems for lead singer Sir Mick Jagger, 63.
The tour was also postponed when guitarist Keith Richards fell from a tree while on holiday in Fiji.
Earlier this month, the band postponed five concerts and cancelled what was to be the final date of the tour in Honolulu, Hawaii, after Sir Mick was advised to take four days off to help him recover from laryingitis.
Irish rock group U2 previously held the record for the top-grossing tour, according to Billboard.
Their recent Vertigo tour grossed $377m (£195m).

Danish ad makes road safety sexy

We know speeding is responsible for a lot of road accidents. Have you thought of any new measures to make drivers more aware of the dangers of speeding? Well, take your time.In the meantime, read about this interesting campaign in Denmark.

Danish road safety officials have come up with a novel way of warning motorists about the dangers of speeding - by using topless blonde women. They have produced a spoof news report where the blondes carry road signs showing the Danish speed limit: 50km/h. The video - posted on the web - is aimed at grabbing the attention of young male drivers, but feminists say they hate it.

Speeding has been blamed for 25% of road deaths in Denmark. Julia Pauli of the Danish road safety council told the BBC that the reaction to the video had been mostly positive.

"If you want to reach the young people, you have to communicate on their conditions... So, topless women are working," she said.

She said the advertising campaign had been tested and in the target group it was really positive - more than 50% said they were thinking more about the dangers of speeding when driving.

Asked if the council would consider using a man exposing his bottom to appeal to speeding women drivers, Ms Pauli said: "Maybe. We'll see."

BBC story

Wheat's lost gene helps nutrition

Fill in the gaps.
Complete the "_____ gaps" using all these verb forms:

can be created
has been changed
has been identified
has largely been silenced
have discovered
is found

Complete the "------- gaps" using all these words:

A very special gene ______ in wheat. It has been called GPC-B1, GPC ------- for Grain Protein Content. It ______ in both wild and domesticated varieties of wheat, but in subtly different forms, -------- that it ______ by the long history of domestication. It ______ during the evolution of domestic varieties.

Scientists ______ that turning it back on could raise levels of protein, iron and zinc.
------- in the journal Science, they suggest that new varieties with a fully ------- gene ______ through cross-breeding with wild wheat.

"Wheat is one of the world's major crops, ------- approximately one-fifth of all calories ______ by humans," said project leader Professor Jorge Dubcovsky from the University of California at Davis.

"Therefore, even small increases in wheat's nutritional value may help decrease deficiencies in protein and key micronutrients."

Read the whole BBC story here.
Key: Move your cursor mouse here >: has been identified; is found; has been changed; has largely been silenced; have discovered; can be created; consumed; standing; indicating; writing; functioning: providing

Friday, November 24, 2006

Chinese students answer questions

Through the BBC, pupils at a Chinese school (the Beijing Academy of Educational Science Pilot Middle School) and an English school (Our Lady's Convent High School in London) are sharing the school day via a laptop link-up. The BBC has asked people to put questions to the students in China. Although the Chinese authorities have erased some of the questions on topics such as Tibet, Taiwan and freedom of expression, it is still worthwhile visiting the BBC site.

A few questions and answers:

Question from Matt Claremont-Davies, Exeter, UK
Is it important to modern students to understand the English language?

Wu Man: Of course! This is because English is the most popular language in the world and people use the language everywhere. I think Chinese is too difficult for foreigners - it is easier for us to learn English. I also speak a bit of Japanese and Korean.

Question from Anthony Hedrick, California, USA
Hello, I would like to know what a typical day of school is like, also what is the general feeling towards Americans in China. If I could visit your country I would like to see the Great Wall.

Liu Rai (17): I start school at 7am and each class lasts 45 minutes. Then we have a ten minute break before the next class. We have lunch at 12. It takes ages for us to have lunch because there are so many people in my class. When the bell rings at 12.45 we go back to class. Then we have self study and then formal classes after that. Because my home town is far away, I live at home which is just so-so. I see my family at the weekends, so it's not too bad. I don't know much about America as I don't have any American friends but I do have an English friend. I would like to go to India as I like their beautiful clothes. I would prefer to go to England rather than America as I like British English.

Question from Michael D. Griffin, Neil Murray, Tunbridge Wells, UK
Last year, when I was in Beijing in August, I noticed that there were very, very few children anywhere. I was told that this is because they were all in summer school, because the education system is so competitive. is this true?
Sun Hai Qing (16): It is true. I go to summer school but I don't mind as I learn about a lot of things I like. I like the education system though I agree it is fiercely competitive

Question from Ms. F, US
I would like to know if the students feel able to balance schoolwork with leisure activities. Many Chinese seem to think that all they should be doing is working.
Liu Feng (17): I think that having fun is just a small part of life. As a Chinese student, it is very important for us to study hard and pass the university examination: that has to come first. The exam is called the gaokao and on June 6th next year. The results decide whether we go to university or not. I have already drawn up a study plan for the exam.

Question from Zavier Horwell, Teddington, UK
What is it like to be living in such a big, overpopulated country? Also how do you fell about obesity and why do you do so much sport?

Sun Hai Qing: I am proud to live in China. There is 5000 years of history in China and no other country in the world has that. Obesity mostly affects younger children. Because of the one-child policy, parents spoil their child, but girls my age are all trying to lose weight to be pretty. I don't do much sport but I like to play basketball and run - it keeps me fit.

Sun Peng (18): I am very proud of living in this country. Although the large population needs more resources, we're united together to develop our country into a modern and strong country.
With the development of living standards, there are more and more children who are too fat. I think a balanced diet is important and doing exercise regularly is necessary. Children should not eat too much fast food such as potato chips, hamburgers and ice cream. They are rich in fat.
I like doing exercise. I like football very much. I play football everyday. I think sports make me strong and healthy.
Now it's your turn.
1. Write ONE question you would like to ask the Chinese students.
2. Remember something that struck you: ONE similarity or ONE difference, between you and the Chinese students.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Newsstories from Scotland

Pink limo for improving truants

A council has defended a decision to reward pupils at an Aberdeenshire school with a trip in a pink stretch limousine for improving attendance.
A project had been launched to reform a group of truants at Banff Academy.
Aberdeenshire Council said the pink stretch limousine trip was organised to mark the project's success.
A spokesman said: "The one-off event was organised at no cost to the school and recognised a significant improvement among the group."
Defending itself against reported parent concerns about such a reward, Aberdeenshire Council told BBC Scotland: "Banff Academy values the hard work of all of its pupils. "This event was merely to recognise a clear change in habits among this particular group."

Read the whole story here.

Smoking age rise 'within months'

The law will be changed within months to raise the legal age for buying cigarettes, according to the Scottish health minister.
Andy Kerr said legislation on raising the age from 16 to 18 would be put in place by February or March.
However, he added that the change may not be implemented until after the Holyrood elections in May.
He also said a tough approach would be needed to deal with vendors who sold tobacco products to under-age people.
An expert group on smoking prevention made the recommendation on Wednesday.

Read more here.

Dedicated environment court plans

The Scottish Executive is to carry out a public consultation on plans to create specialist environmental courts.
Environment Minister Ross Finnie said the aim would be to improve the enforcement of environmental law.
Fines could be imposed without a case going to court - a proposal welcomed by environmentalists.
However, the Greens said ministers' last major environment consultation ignored the views of 86% of people on the third party right of appeal issue.
The consultation will focus on issues such as pollution, waste and wildlife crime.
It will examine how training for enforcement authorities could be improved and whether public participation could be increased.

Read more here.

Climbers die after rescue effort

Two climbers who were found after spending a night in "dreadful" conditions in the Cairngorms have died.
The men, aged 18 and 23, were a student from Aberdeen University and a recent graduate of the university.
They were taken to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness after being found by rescue teams on Monday morning.
It is suspected the pair, who have not been named by police, were caught out by extreme weather returning from Coire an t-Sneachda on Sunday.
Succumbed to weather
The climbers were found on the hillside about a mile from the Cairngorm Ski area car park, rescuers said.

Read more here.

Hospital staff in smoking protest

Staff at Dundee's Ninewells Hospital have staged a walkout in protest of new rules on smoking.
Workers have claimed the decision by health chiefs to ban smoking within hospital grounds meant a long walk for a cigarette break.
However, NHS Tayside said it was doing its duty as a health authority, adding that it expected most people to comply with the move.
The short protest was not thought to have disrupted hospital services.
NHS Tayside said the new policy, which has now come into force, meant there would be no smoking by staff, visitors, contractors or out-patients within its buildings or grounds.
The health authority said in a statement: "We think that the majority of people will co-operate with the policy and understand that as a health promoting organisation, NHS Tayside aims to maintain a safe, healthy working environment and protect the health of patients, staff and visitors."
Read the whole story here.

Man 'knocked out' brother-in-law

A man was left unconscious after being punched by his brother-in-law, Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard.
Terrance Walton fell to the ground after being hit once, banged his head and was knocked out.
Grant Johnston, 30, was placed on probation for a year and given 200 hours community service after admitting assault to Mr Walton's severe injury.
The incident came after Johnston, from Edinburgh, argued with a friend of Mr Walton's in a pub in the city.
The attack took place in Lorne Street, Leith, on 11 March.
The court heard how Mr Walton followed Johnston outside after the scaffolder left the pub.
Read the story here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Magellan's epic voyage retold

What do you know about Ferdinand Magellan?
1. Ferdinand Magellan was born in

a) Portugal
b) Spain
c) France
2. He was
a) a doctor
b) an explorer
c) a pirate
3. He was the first European to cross
a) the Atlantic Ocean
b) the Indian Ocean
c) the Pacific Ocean
4. Magellan’s historic circumnavigation started in
a) 1518
b) 1519
c) 1520
5. Magellan
a) finished his voyage
b) was killed in India
c) was killed in the Philippines

Find the answers here.

Now read part a BBC text about Magellan and his circumnavigation voyage.

Five hundred years ago a stricken ship, the Victoria, limped into the port of Seville. Its crew of 18 were all that was left of the 265 men that started out three years earlier. They were half-dead from starvation and disease, having just completed a voyage that would change the course of history and profoundly shape the way we live today.

Victoria was part of a fleet of five ships commanded by Ferdinand Magellan. His objective was to get to the unimaginable riches of the Spice Islands through the New World, making Spain the richest country in the world. And of course Magellan would have the fame and share the wealth.
Magellan never planned to, wanted to, or indeed did, sail around the world.

When he set off on this voyage, the plan was to get to the Spice Islands and then return the same way back. Yet, still today in many countries, it is Magellan who gets the credit for being the first person to circumnavigate. But the reality is that it was another great man, Juan Sebastian Elcano, who has the honour of being the first circumnavigator.

The Portuguese controlled the known route eastwards to the Spice Islands so Magellan had to pioneer a new route westwards. No-one had ever sailed this way before. The fleet of five ships set off across the Atlantic. It was a hair-raising passage. After months of searching the east coast of South America, Magellan was faced with the fact that he could not find a passage west. He was forced to endure a brutal winter which included a starvation diet, freezing conditions, mutiny and murder.
You can read more about the Nao Victoria, a perfect replica of the original Victoria, which completed a re-creation of the journey this year.
Key: Click here with your cursor mouse>>1a; 2b; 3c; 4b; 5c

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Laugh! More science jokes

How many gorillas does it take to change a light bulb?
Just one, but it takes a lot of light bulbs.
How many students does it take to change a light bulb?
None. They are smart enough to use fluorescent bulbs that almost never need changing.

The foolish gardener planted a light bulb and thought he would get a power plant.

Wind power is very popular because it has a lot of fans.

Relativity:Two hairs in my cup of milk is too much. Two hairs on my head is too less.
Two hydrogens are walking along a street.
The first one says, "Hey! I think I lost an electron!"
The second one replies, "Are you sure?"
The first one then says, "Yeah, I'm POSITIVE."
H2O is hot water, and CO2 is cold water.

A physicist, an engineer and a mathematician were all in a hotel sleeping when a fire broke out in their respective rooms.
The physicist woke up, saw the fire, ran over to his desk, and began working out all sorts of fluid dynamics equations. After a couple minutes, he threw down his pencil, got a graduated cylinder out of his suitcase, and measured out a precise amount of water. He threw it on the fire, extinguishing it, with not a drop wasted, and went back to sleep.
The engineer woke up, saw the fire, ran into the bathroom, turned on all the taps, flooding out the entire apartment, which put out the fire, and went back to sleep.
The mathematician woke up, saw the fire, ran over to his desk, began working through theorems and hypotheses, and after a few minutes, put down his pencil triumphantly and exclaimed, "I have proven that I can put the fire out!" He then went back to sleep.

States sign nuclear energy pact

An international consortium has signed a formal agreement to build an experimental nuclear fusion reactor. The multi-billion-euro project known as Iter - or "the way" in Latin - will aim to produce energy from nuclear reactions like those that fuel the Sun. If successful, it could provide energy that is both clean and limitless.

The project, which will be based in France, follows years of talks between South Korea, Russia, China, the EU, the US, India and Japan. If all goes well, officials will build a demonstration power plant before rolling out the technology to the world. Iter says electricity could be available on the grid within 30 years.

"Fusion could become the dominant source of electricity on Earth in a century or so - we have to work to try to get it," Jerome Pamela of Iter told the BBC.

In a fusion reaction, energy is released when light atomic nuclei - the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium - are fused together to form heavier atomic nuclei.

To use controlled fusion reactions on Earth as an energy source, it is necessary to heat a gas to temperatures exceeding 100 million Celsius - many times hotter than the centre of the Sun.

Read the whole BBC story here. Then answer these questions.
1. Where did the signature take place?
2. What was Mr Jose Manuel Durao Barroso doing there?
3. What will begin in the spring?
4. What will happen in 2009?
5. How do a fusion reaction and a typical chemical reaction compare?

Dutch government backs burqa ban

Social interaction is easier if faces are not covered. You see the other person, you see his / her emotions. Face-to-face conversation sounds much better than on the phone, for example.

However, banning a tradition (like wearing burkas) has led some to say that basic human rights are at risk.

Read the story about a controversial decision in the Netherlands, a country that has been synonymous with FREEDOM.

Complete the text with these passive voice forms.

are promoted - can be disturbed - has been backed - is expected - is known - are thought - would also be covered - would be banned

A proposal to ban Muslim women from wearing the burqa in public places ______ by the Dutch cabinet by the country's immigration minister.

The burqa, a full body covering that also obscures the face, ______ by law in the street, and in trains, schools, buses and the law courts. Public order, citizens and safety ______ by burqas, the cabinet said. The decision comes days ahead of elections which the ruling centre-right coalition ______ to win.

Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk, who ______ for her tough policies, said it was important that all people in the Netherlands were able to see and identify each other clearly. That way integration and tolerance ______.

Last year a majority of MPs in the Dutch parliament said they were in favour of a ban. An estimated 6% of 16 million people living in the Netherlands are Muslims.

But there ______ to be fewer than 100 women who choose to wear the burqa, a traditional Islamic form of dress.

The latest move came after an expert committee judged that it would not contravene Dutch law. Other forms of face coverings, such as crash helmets with visors that obscure the face, _____ by a legal ban.

Read the whole BBC story here.

Key: To see the key, move your cursor mouse from here >> 1. has been backed 2. would be banned 3. can be disturbed 4. is expected 5. is known 6. are promoted 7. are thought 8. would also be covered

Think about this issue. What’s your position? Are you for or against the ban?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Annan warns of biotech dangers

A few days ago Mr Kofi Annan was in Switzerland where he spoke about the benefits and the dangers of biotechnology and compared it to the potential impact of nuclear power.

Complete the text with these words:

biological - biotechnology - bringing - concerted - endeavours - expanding - highlighted - poor - progress - right - threshold - wrong

United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan has warned the world is on the ______ of a new biotechnology era, similar to the advent of nuclear power.

Speaking in Switzerland, Mr Annan has called for a ______ international drive to both harness and control ______, which he says offers huge promise in terms of medical advances, environmental protection and food security for rich and ______.

But he warns it will also bring huge dangers if it falls into the wrong hands, with the threat of ______ weapons or "accidents" growing as scientific knowledge and skills become more widely available.

Mr Annan has ______ the development of new vaccines opened up by biotechnology to deal with long-standing and emerging viruses, and the prospect of new treatments for diabetes and other diseases.
"The bright side of biotechnology reflects the best of human ______ in the service of the deepest human needs," he said.
"In the _______ hands and with the appropriate safety precautions, these are sound scientific ______ that increase our knowledge of viruses," Mr Annan said. "But if they fall into the ______ hands, they could be catastrophic."

Mr Annan has called for global initiatives.
One would use biotechnology and life sciences "to build better lives for people around the world" by ______ the availability of new technologies, encouraging transparency and increasing cooperation.
The second involves ______ together myriad discussions on safeguards against biological weapons and other risks by scientists and attempts to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention.

Read this ABC Newsonline story.

Key: Move your cursor mouse here > threshold concerted biotechnology poor biological highlighted progress right endeavours wrong expanding bringing

Why are GM foods so controversial?

You have been reading about GM foods. This BBC page helps you revise and widen your views and arguments. Read it and make notes.

GM crops are created by inserting genes from different plants or even animals into a crop to provide it with special attributes, such as resistance to pesticides. The issue has provoked bitter controversy.
Supporters say that GM crops will increase yields. But opponents argue that they could have unpredictable health risks. Both sides of the argument regularly produce evidence disputing the same point – for example, whether GM crops damage or benefit the environment.

What are the arguments for and against GM crops?

Biotechnology companies and some scientists say that these crops are produced in a more efficient and environmentally-friendly way. They argue that GM crops:

  • Are more cost-effective: GM crops have lower costs of production because herbicide-resistant and insect-resistant plants produce higher yields, according to Monsanto, a major GM producer.
  • Are safe for human consumption: There is no evidence to suggest that GM foods are unsafe, the British Medical Association said in a 2003 statement. But it has called for more research to provide convincing evidence of safety and benefit.
  • Can benefit human health: Crops can be enriched with nutrients to address human health issues, according to the Royal Society, the UK’s science academy.
  • Could help the developing world: GM crops could help the developing world by increasing yields of native crops, potentially addressing poverty and hunger.
  • Cut down on pesticide and herbicide use: Pesticide use has decreased in GM crop-growing areas, according to a 2002 study by the US-based National Center for Food and Agricultural policy.
  • Help preserve natural habitats: Monsanto says that natural ecosystems would be protected from demands for agricultural land as GM crops allow efficient use of existing farm land.


Green groups, organic farmers and other campaigners point to a range of environmental and health hazards. They argue that GM crops:

  • Could increase herbicide and pesticide use: Pesticide and herbicide tolerance could mean that farmers spray their crops more liberally – so increasing the risk of pesticide residue in food.
  • Could damage non-GM farmers: Cross-contamination of non-GM fields could affect farmers with GM-free status and destroy their trade, argues Friends of the Earth.
  • Have unpredictable health risks: GM crops could be harmful to human health, according to a report by an activist group, Scientists for Global Responsibility. A Food Standards Agency (FSA) study showed that antibiotic-resistant genes can cross from our food to our stomach, possibly making antibiotics ineffective.
  • Won't help feed the developed world: The cause of hunger isn’t scarcity of food but the distribution of grain says Oxfam.
  • Mainly benefits big biotechnology companies: Companies control patents on seeds so farmers lose control over seed production.
  • Could affect biodiversity: Using herbicide on resistant crops could lead to fields being cleared of weeds, removing food sources for wildlife, according to Genewatch.

Many people are undecided about GM crops and say that they cannot make up their minds until more tests have been conducted on, for example, the effects of GM crops on human health. Others argue that the debate should be widened beyond GM to look at how we regulate and produce our food and how we tackle health problems through diet.

What do you think?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Extinct pig spotted again … at a museum in Scotland!

I found this story this morning and it's very interesting.

Complete the story with the ten verb forms. Check the key later.

1. are delighted 2. attacked 3. decided 4. has been
5. has been created 6. has been seen 7. researched
8. was covered 9. was handed 10. was kept

An extinct pig which was indigenous to Shetland (Scotland) _____ for the first time in more than 100 years. A model of the pig - which was the size of a large dog and had tusks -______ after work by researchers and a taxidermist.

The pig, which ______ lambs, _____ domestically until the 1800s. It ______ with long stiff bristles over a fleece of coarse wool.

In order to reconstruct it, Dr Ian Tait, curator of collections at Shetland Museum, ______ published sources to find various descriptions.

The job of bringing the pig back to life _____ to taxidermist David Hollingworth.
They _____ to use an immature wild boar, adding tusks and a ridge of four inch long black hairs down the animal's back.

Dr Tait said: “Making this reconstruction relied on months of research, finding out how large the animal was and what colour and shape it was. The result _____ well worth all the hard work.”
“We are confident that the reconstruction is an excellent interpretation of the pig breed that lived in Shetland for many centuries. We _____ that visitors to the museum will now be able to see for themselves an animal that had such a large part in Shetland's farming history.”

The model will go on display at the new Shetland Museum and Archives.

Learn: Taxidermists may practise professionally for museums or as amateurs. Taxidermy is the art of mounting or reproducing animals for display or study. This is a practice generally done with vertebrates.

Read the BBC text here.
For the latest news on the development of the New Museum and Archives please visit the link here.

Key: Move your cursor mouse here from x to y: x 6 – 5 – 2 – 10 – 8 – 7- 9 – 3 - 4- 1 y

Sony's PlayStation 3 launch in downtown San Francisco

A few days ago one of my posts was about the launch of PS3 in Japan.Remember PlayStation 3 hits the Japanese market ?
Today you can read about Sony's PlayStation 3 launch in downtown San Francisco. It was a spectacular event.

But first look at the photo. If you had enough money to buy the Sony console, would you queue for two days? Vote here.

The street had to be blocked off for the evening.
The band Angels and Airwaves played on a specially constructed stage, there were spot lights, video screens and a giant LED clock counted down the time until the first sale at midnight.

At 8pm there was a dramatic delivery of the new consoles with the arrival of 200 systems in a 40-foot truck. Sony executives did not disclose the exact number of systems on sale nor could they confirm how many of the $499 20GB and the $599 60GB system were available, though a representative insisted no one would be disappointed despite the two variants being doled out on a first-come first-served basis.

At midnight the first sale was made to 21-year old Chris Toribio amid a sea of media cameras. He had waited in line since early Wednesday morning when he and his four friends set up camp on the pavement near the store.By mid-afternoon there were 50 people in this unofficial queue.

By Thursday afternoon the official queue consisted of roughly 700 people who had all been guaranteed a console. They waited in deck chairs or on sleeping bags. Some snoozed, others listened to music. Many were playing on their Nintendo DS handheld consoles while others opted for a low-tech game of cards.
Would you like to have a look at the BBC story?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Lydia, from Somerset, England, took up drinking at the age of just 14

Read this BBC story about an English girl who got hooked on alcohol.
Complete the text with these words:

1. did 2. disrupting 3. drank 4. drinking 5. going
6. hooked 7. realized 8. started 9. took 10. used to

Lydia is only 16 now, but until recently she ____ at least two litres of cider on a Friday and Saturday night - and sometimes on a Sunday too.
Lydia, from Somerset, England, _____ up drinking at the age of just 14. She _____ get older boys to buy her cider.
"I was absolutely wasted," she said.
Finally, she ______ she needed to seek professional help.
"It was ______ my family, it was getting in the way of friendships, and also there were health issues - not that I knew exactly what they were. I just hope that I haven't damaged anything yet."
Lydia said her parents _____ "everything they possibly could have done" to try to tackle her problem.
"But it is not easy to stop your daughter, or son from _____ out. It is easy to say I'm just going to such-and-such's house, and then go somewhere completely different."
Lydia admits that peer pressure was the main reason she got _____ on alcohol.
"Everybody I was with was older than me, and they were all drinking. So I _____ drinking too. What are you supposed to do?
"I haven't stopped _____. I drink now in moderation, and I don't get wasted at every opportunity."

Key: Move your cursor mouse from x to y : x 3-9-10-7- 2- 1- 5 - 6- 8 - 4 y

Related sites
Alcohol Concern
They work to reduce the incidence and costs of alcohol-related harm.
They provide information and encourage debate on the wide range of issues affected by alcohol, including public health, housing, children and families, crime and licensing. They support specialist and non-specialist service providers helping to tackle alcohol problems at a local level. They also work to influence national alcohol policy.
Most people drink. Some drink more regularly than others. But how often is too often? And how much is too much?

Junk food ad crackdown announced

On November 17th, Ofcom published details of restrictions intended to limit children’s exposure to television advertising of food and drink products high in fat, salt and sugar. These measures will come into effect before the end of January 2007.

(Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for the United Kingdom communications industries, with responsibilities across television, radio, telecommunications and wireless communications services.)

The measures will apply to:
-All pre-school children's programmes
-All programmes on mainstream channels aimed at children
-All cable and satellite children's channels
-Programmes aimed at young people, such as music shows
-General entertainment programmes which would appeal to a "higher than average" number of under-16s.

Some of the measures:
-Junk food ads during TV programmes targeted at under-16s will be banned. ( junk foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar)
-There will be a total ban on ads during children's programmes and on children's channels, as well as adult programmes watched by a large number of children.
- The use of celebrities and characters, such as cartoon heroes, free gifts and health or nutrition claims will be banned.

Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: "We will introduce significant but proportionate measures to protect children under 16. We will look to advertisers and broadcasters to follow both the spirit as well as the letter of the rules we are putting in place."

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, Head of Science and Ethics at the British Medical Association, said: "Ofcom's ban does not go far enough. Some of the most popular programmes amongst the under-16s are soaps which will not be covered by this ban. We must use all the weapons in our armoury to prevent the next generation of British children being the most obese and unhealthy in history.”

Paul Lincoln, chief executive of the National Heart Forum, said: "This represents a missed opportunity by Ofcom."

Melanie Leech, director of the Food and Drink Federation said: “Ofcom's regulations were over the top.

David Lynn, of children's channel Nickleodeon, said: "There's no doubt that the restrictions announced today very tough and that they are going to impact on the quality of kids' programming in the UK. They amount for a total ban on advertising for dedicated children's channels."

A spokesman for the government said: "We welcome Ofcom's report and their proposals to tighten the restrictions on the advertising of unhealthy foods during programmes that children watch."

For the whole BBC text, click here.
Your reaction:
What do you think? Are these measures good? Adequate?
What would you do in your country? Are such measures mecessary?

'Web-rage' man gets prison term

In England, a man was sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of assaulting another man with a pickaxe handle. They had been exchanging insults in an internet chatroom.

Read the text below and complete it with these verb forms:
1. assaulted 2. be underestimated 3. has been jailed 4. highlights
5. tracked 6. was armed 7. was beaten

A man _______ for more than two years after carrying out the UK's first "web-rage" attack on an internet user. He admitted unlawful wounding last month.
Paul Gibbons, 47, _________ John Jones, 43, at his Essex home, after the pair exchanged insults in an internet chatroom.
Gibbons, of Bermondsey, south-east London, ________ down father-of-three Mr Jones to Clacton, from personal details he put online.
He ________ with a pickaxe handle and was with a man carrying a machete.
Mr Jones _______ and had his neck cut after going to the door of his home with a knife.
"The circumstances are unusual," said Judge Richard Hawkins after passing sentence.
"This case ________ the dangers of internet chatrooms, particularly with regards to giving personal details that will allow other users to discover home addresses," said Jean-Marc Bazzoni of Essex Police.
Mr Bazzoni said Mr Jones' "terrifying ordeal" was a consequence of "upsetting somebody he had never even met".
"The dangers of giving personal information out in a chatroom environment must never _______."

To read the whole BBC text click here.
KEY Move your cursor mouse over the space between x and Y: x 3 - 1 - 5 - 6 - 7- 4 - 2 y

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Average European is overweight.

Only 38% of EU citizens consider themselves to be overweight.
However, the latest figures show that the average citizen in 20 EU countries is overweight, according to a European Commission poll of about 1,000 people in each of the 25 EU member states.
The Maltese and the Greeks are the heavyweights of Europe. The Maltese recorded the highest average BMI (body mass index) at 26.6. The Italians recorded the lowest, at 24.3.
The average Briton - like the average European - is slightly over the ideal weight.
A BMI of between 18.5 and 25 is considered healthy, between 25 and 30 overweight and above 30 obese.

Obesity is a growing problem in the rich countries. It is linked to a range of health problems, including heart disease.
Obesity is measured by calculating body mass index (BMI).
Click here to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI)

What causes obesity?
Most blamed a sedentary life with very little physical exercise.
Less than one third said they engaged in regular "intensive" physical activity.
A large majority - 85% - said public authorities should play a stronger role in fighting obesity.

Read the whole BBC story here.
Italy - 24.3
France - 24.5
Austria - 24.8
Poland - 24.8
Netherlands - 24.9
Slovakia - 25.0
Belgium - 25.1
Latvia - 25.1
Estonia - 25.2
Czech Rep - 25.2

Malta - 26.6
Greece - 25.9
Finland - 25.8
Luxembourg - 25.7
Hungary - 25.6
Cyprus - 25.6
Lithuania - 25.5
Slovenia - 25.5
Denmark - 25.5
UK - 25.4

Do some research about Portugal. Start here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

007 is back

James Bond is back.

Even from the first few seconds of Casino Royale it's clear how things have changed. For a start it begins in black and white. There's Bond in the shadows, ready for the kill. It's moody film noir stuff, and it instantly establishes Daniel Craig as a tough cookie.

Daniel Craig in Casino Royale becomes the sixth actor to play James Bond.

These are the men who have portrayed the legendary British secret agent:

Sean Connery
George Lazenby
Roger Moore
Timothy Dalton
Pierce Brosnan
Daniel Craig

Take Sean Connery, for example.
Films:Dr. No (1962)
From Russia with Love (1963)
Goldfinger (1964)
Thunderball (1965)
You Only Live Twice (1967)
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Famous lines:
Honey Ryder: "Are you looking for shells too?"
James Bond: "No, I'm just looking." (Dr. No)

James Bond: "You expect me to talk?"
Auric Goldfinger: "No, Mr Bond. I expect you to die." (Goldfinger)

Tiger Tanaka: "In Japan, men come first, women come second."
James Bond: "I might just retire to here."(You Only Live Twice)

Click here to read about them.

Can you say the names of three movies with Sean Connery starring as James Bond?

Write three questions you would like to ask Sean Connery about his role.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Study hopeful for world's forests

Good news
The state of the world's forests may not be as bad as previously feared.
An international team of researchers say its Forest Identity study suggests the world could be approaching a "turning point" from deforestation. The study measures timber volumes, biomass and captured carbon - not just land areas covered by trees.

"The trend is better than previously thought," said Pekka Kauppi, one of the study’s co-authors. "We see prospects for an end to deforestation; we do not make a forecast but it is possible."


-Forests cover 30% of the world's total land area
-Deforestation rate: 13m hectares per year
-Only one-fifth of the Earth's original forests remain undisturbed.
-Iceland has three native tree species, Brazil has 7,780.
-In North America, more than half of the coastal temperate rainforests, once extending from California to Alaska, have been destroyed.
-One-third of the planet's virgin temperate rainforest is in the Tongass National Forest on the southeastern coast of Alaska.
-The world's trees store 283 gigatonnes of carbon, 50% more than there is in the atmosphere (Source: FAO)

Read the BBC text now.

Did you read carefully?

Mention three Forest Facts.

What can be done to preserve our forests?

Do you play air guitar?

Do you want to improve your air guitarist skills?
Australian scientists have just given you a hand. They have created a T-shirt that allows you to play real music! - without resorting to a real guitar.

The T-shirt has motion sensors built into its elbows that pick up movements and relay them wirelessly to a computer which interprets them as guitar riffs.
"It's an easy-to-use, virtual instrument that allows real-time music-making - even by players without significant musical or computing skills," said the research team leader, Richard Helmer.
"It allows you to jump around and the sound generated is just like an original mp3."

Researchers specialising in computing, music and textile manufacture have been working together to make this T-shirt.

Similar sensors could be used in the future to reproduce a person in a virtual world so they could get feedback on their actions and improve their sporting techniques.

You can customise the software to make an air tambourine and a percussion instrument called an air guiro.
Read the whole BBC text here.

Are you satisfied?

Are you satisfied with your phone and internet service providers?

A survey has revealed very interesting things about British consumers’ satisfaction with phone and internet providers or suppliers. The survey was conducted by uSwitch Customer Satisfaction. They have just published their report.

- more than 11,000 customers were surveyed;
- most internet and phone providers fail to match rising customer numbers with improved services and technology;
- there has been a 9% drop in broadband satisfaction levels;
- customer trust in their internet suppliers is currently at an "all time low";
- customer satisfaction levels were also shown to have dropped 4% among home phone users compared to an earlier survey conducted six months ago;
- low-cost broadband deals have seen subscriber numbers rise by almost 650,000 since March;
- the providers aren't investing enough money in their technology, to ensure that they are looking after customer needs in an acceptable manner;
- Broadband provider came top, with 85% of its customers expressing satisfaction;
- Telewest came second with 83% and Tiscali third with 80%;
- Tiscali came top of the home phone providers with a customer satisfaction rating of 81%;
You can read the BBC text here.

What about your satisfaction here in Portugal?
Do you think these surveys are useful and worthwhile?
What do you do when you aren’t satisfied?
a. I smash my computer

b. I call the service provider and complain

c. I send the provider a gift.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Time for some jokes

Why do Giraffes have long necks?
Because their heads are a long way from their bodies!

How did you finally quit smoking by using those nicotine patches?
I put six of them over my mouth.


What's green and runs around the garden?
A hedge.

In the period that Einstein was active as a professor, one of his students came to him and said: "The questions of this year's exam are the same as last year's!"

"True," Einstein said, "but this year all answers are different."

Charlie Chaplin had invited Albert Einstein to the premiere of City Lights. When the public cheered them both, Chaplin remarked:

"They cheer me because they all understand me, and they cheer you because no one understands you."

Learning English

Let me introduce you to a wonderful treasure! Here you will be able to find hundreds of quizzes, tests, exercises and puzzles to help you learn English as a foreign language.

I have copied the top of their list. Just try one.
Then take some time to get used to doing those exercises. You'll love them. Bookmark this website and learn on your own. There are no limits!

Level 1: Try these first.
34 Easy Questions (Charles Kelly) - HTML-only
Assorted Questions: Choose the Best Answer - (Vera Mello) Flash [M] 20 Questions
Short Answers (Carlos Gontow) - HTML-only [M]

Level 2: Easy
Assorted Quizzes
Superstitions (Donna Tatsuki) - Flash, [M] 20 Questions
Practice for EIKEN Fourth Grade (Kevin Glenn O'Leary) - JavaScript, [M] 20 Questions, Grammar and Vocabulary
Practice for EIKEN Fifth Grade (Kevin Glenn O'Leary) - JavaScript, [M] 20 Questions, Grammar and Vocabulary
Matching Quiz 1 (Charles Kelly) - JavaScript, Matching, 60 Questions, Grammar/Vocabulary
Comparisons (Charles Kelly) - Flash, Type in, 26 Questions, Vocabulary/Grammar
About, At, For or To (Vera Mello) - JavaScript, 4 Choices, 14 Questions
A, An or [Nothing] (Charles Kelly) - Flash, 3-Choices, 57 Questions
A or An (Carlos Gontow) - HTML-only
A, An, The or Nothing (Charles Kelly) - Flash, 4-Choices, 10 Questions
A, An, The or Nothing (Larry Davies) - HTML-only
A, An or Nothing (Letitia Bradley) - HTML-only
A or An (Violeta Tsoneva) - HTML-only
Death Penalty - A Cloze Quiz (Vera Mello) - HTML

PlayStation 3 hits the Japanese market

Thousands of people queued for many hours in cities across Japan on Saturday, but many people went home empty-handed. The console went on sale for about £270 (about 400 euros).
There are also reports that poor Chinese men and women and homeless people were hired by opportunistic Japanese businessmen to queue for the console in many Japanese cities. The Chinese men and women were being paid up to £90 (about 135 euros) for queuing.

An extreme lack of supply ignited an extreme surge of demand and some people took full advantage of it. Sony is being accused of staging a national launch event with 80,000 units.

No wonder PlayStation 3 consoles advertised as used are appearing for sale in Japanese shops as well as online auctions. They are being sold for up to four times the retail price of the console.
One PS3 with a 60GB hard drive, which cost about £270 in Japanese stores, was on sale on the auction site eBay for an asking price of £1,200, that’s about 1,800 euros! Other PS3s were attracting bids starting from £313 up to £771.

The PlayStation 3 is being sold in two configurations. The more expensive version has a 60GB hard drive and wi-fi on board and its official cost in Japan is about £270. The cheaper version has a 20GB hard drive, lacks the wi-fi and will cost about £222. Both versions include a wireless controller, a Blu-ray high-quality video player and a port so they can work with a high-definition display. Buying a PS3 also gives owners free access to the online PlayStation Network where they can meet and take on other gamers.
The firm put the European launch of the console on hold until March 2007 due to the shortages.
Would you like to read the BBC text?

Vista to hit the shops in January

We talked to a Microsoft boss (M.B.) about Vista, the new operating system.

When will Windows Vista be available to retail customers?
M.B.: It will be available to retail customers from 30 January 2007.

When will the new software be unveiled? Where?
M.B.: It will be unveiled at an event at the New York Stock Exchange.
Will it be unveiled by Bill Gates?
M.B.: No, Microsoft boss Steve Ballmer will present it.
What’s Vista?
M.B.: Vista is Microsoft's first new version of Windows for the PC market since 2001.
Do you mean it is an updated version of Windows?
M.B.: Well, yes, you can say that it is a major overhaul of Windows which updates many of the core technologies. It is the long-awaited update of the Windows operating system.
Long-awaited? How long has the software been under development?
M.B.: For more than five years.
Didn’t they say it would be released in August 2006?
M.B.: Yes, that’s true. But corporate customers will have to wait until November 30th and retail customers will have to wait longer.
What’s been updated? What are some of the new elements?
M.B.: New elements in the updated software include an improved 3D interface, more search options and extra security, plus new sound and networking technologies.
How many versions will there be? Will Microsoft launch just two or three?
M.B.: There will be six versions of Vista - three for business, two for home use and one for developing nations.
What about the price? How much will they cost?
M.B.: The price of the software will range from $100 to $399.
Don’t you think that they will miss out on the lucrative Christmas marketing period?
M.B.: Yes, I agree with you.
Has Microsoft any strategies?
M.B.: Of course they have. They are offering coupons for free or discounted versions of Vista to customers who buy a PC with the older Windows XP installed to convince consumers to buy computers over the holiday period.
How much do they expect to earn?
M.B.: Well, Microsoft has estimated that the new system could trigger a rise of 10% or more in Windows PC software sales.
What must PCs have to run the the new software?
M.B.: Microsoft has already released information about that.

Processor - Minimum: 800MHz ---------- Recommended:1GHz 32 or 64 bit
System Memory - Minimum: 512MB -----------Recommended: 1GB
Graphics card - Minimum: DirectX 9 capable --- Recommended: Runs Windows Aero
Graphics Memory - Minimum: - - Recommended: 128MB
Free space on Hard Drive - Minimum: 15GB ------ Recommended: 15GB

You can read a BBC text on the same topic here.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Pupils can have a greater voice at school

Do you have a voice at school?
How do you participate in school management?
Do you elect any representatives?
Do you elect a school council?
Are you satisfied with your system?
In Wales

The Welsh Assembly has just passed legislation to allow all schools in Wales to have school councils. The pupils will be able to give their views on school life ranging from the uniforms they wear, to the kind of food served at mealtimes. At secondary level, two representatives from the school council will be able to sit on the school's board of governors, but they will not be able to take part in discussions about disciplinary issues.

Welsh Education Minister, Jane Davidson, said: "Many young people don't feel that school is an environment where they can have their own views heard and what we are doing with this legislation is making sure their views are heard. The head and the governing body are now required by law to listen to the views of the pupils."

Tredegar Comprehensive School in Blaenau Gwent has just used the school council to bring about a change to the school uniform.
Head girl, Kayleigh Bennett, said: "The school council did a survey about what kind of school uniform people wanted. Lots of people said they wanted black and that's what we now have."
Head teacher Anna Foote said the council presented a sound case for change. "The council said the will of the school was that they wanted a black jumper, they saw it as part of quite a smart look they wanted to design."
What do you think?
Read the BBC text here.
Would you like to read more stories from Wales?
Try this BBC page.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

My wife saw this poster inside a loo at the Tower of London.
She said it was supertidy.

Incredible story about an elephant

A young man was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from college. While he was walking through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed so the man approached it very carefully.
He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot. There was a large thorn deeply embedded in the bottom of the foot. As carefully and as gently as he could he worked the thorn out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.
The elephant turned to face the man and with a rather stern look on its face, stared at him. For a good ten minutes the man stood frozen -- thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned and walked away. The man never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later the man was walking through the zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to where they were standing at the rail. The large bull elephant stared at him and lifted it's front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times, all the while staring at the man.

The man couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. After a while it trumpeted loudly; then it continued to stare at him. The man summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. Suddenly the elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of the man's legs and swung him wildly back and forth along the railing, killing him.

Original story

Blogosphere sees healthy growth

The web's love affair with blogging shows no signs of abating.

Did you know ….
…every day 100,000 new blogs are created?
…160,000 were created every day in June 2006?
…1.3 million posts are made?
…postings intensify around significant events?
…English and Japanese remain the two most popular languages in the blogosphere?
…despite problems for bloggers in China, Chinese remains at number three?
…Farsi - a Persian language spoken in Iran and Afghanistan - has moved into the top ten languages of the blogosphere for the first time?
Technorati – a blog tracking firm - is now tracking more than 57 million blogs?
…around 55% of the blogs are 'active' - updated at least every three months?

Technorati ranks blogs depending on how many sites link to it.
The blogging elite - weblogs which have more than 500 other blogs linking to them - number about 4,000.
Many of these blogs have been in existence for several years and tend to have new posts at least twice a day.

Read the BBC text here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Nature 'can help people keep fit'

Can you remember three times you have used outdoor green areas in the past, let's say, six months?
Did you take the initiative or did another person persuade you to go?
Did you like it?
Were you aware of any benefits?

Read this BBC text. And take some of your quality time to think about it.

Getting in touch with nature can help keep people fit, reducing the burden of sickness on the health service, conservation experts say.
Natural England is launching a campaign to get people to spend more time outside among the country's wildlife and natural environment.
It said being close to nature can cut stress and increase physical activity.
The conservation agency said the aim was to help prevent ill-health, such as obesity, rather than treat it.

Natural England health adviser Dr William Bird said: "Increasing evidence suggests that both physical and mental health are improved through contact with nature. Yet people are having less contact with nature than at any other time in the past. This has to change."
Dr Bird said children with attention disorders had been shown to improve when they had contact with nature, and people recovering from operations had been shown to need less painkillers if they looked out on to green fields.
He also said people were more likely to keep up regular exercise regimes if they took place in natural settings, rather than in a gym or leisure centre. The aim of the campaign is to get people to have more contact with the natural environment where they live by promoting green spaces and encouraging health professionals to incorporate them into the advice and care plans they give to patients.

Natural England is working with the BBC and more than 300 partners, including councils and health charities, to promote its campaign, called Breathing Spaces.
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1. List some of the aims of Natural England's campaign.
2. How many organizations are working together?
What will change in your lifestyle after this reading?