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4th September 2014

British English edition
Issue Number 231
In this issue
Healthy city spiders
Neanderthal extinction date
New memorial in Berlin
Human rights team to Iraq
Hong Kong election
Discovery of Phoenician ship
Coin hoard recovery
France’s cabinet reshuffle
Food fingerprinting plan
White dwarf supernova
By-the-wind sailors
Lesotho coup
Rediscovered Maya city
Fish evolving experiment
Famous footprint
photographs for sale
White House burning
anniversary
Sliding stones mystery
solved
New EU appointments
Baltic Way anniversary
Glossary Crossword and
Wordsearch Puzzle
Soldiers from the Ukrainian army in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine
Barack Obama, the president of the USA,
visited Estonia on 3rd September. He
made a speech in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital
city. Mr Obama accused Russia of ‘mak-
ing an assault on Ukraine’. He repeated
that the USA would support Ukraine. He
also promised that NATO would protect
its member countries in Eastern Europe
including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
J ust before Mr Obama spoke, the of-
fice of the Ukrainian president, Petro
Poroshenko, released a statement. It
said that after recent talks with Rus-
sian officials, there was a possibility of
a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. There,
separatist, or rebel, groups from two re-
gions, called Donetsk and Luhansk, are
fighting against the Ukrainian army. The
conflict in eastern Ukraine began five
months ago. So far about 2,600 people
have died. The rebel groups are backed,
or supported, by Russia.
On the same day Vladimir Putin, the
Russian president, arrived in Mongolia
for an official visit. On his way to Ulaan-
baatar, Mongolia’s capital city, Mr Putin
said he had come up with a possible plan
for ending the fighting in Ukraine. It
includes a withdrawal by Ukrainian sol-
diers, a ceasefire and prisoner exchange.
One of Mr Putin’s assistants said Rus-
sia could not arrange the ceasefire. This,
he explained, was because it was not
involved in the fighting. However, the
rebels seem to be using Russian-made
weapons. The leaders of the USA, the
European Union (EU), and Ukraine, all
claim that Russia is helping the rebels.
They say Russian troops have crossed
into eastern Ukraine and are now fight-
ing alongside the separatists. Mr Putin
insists that this is not true.
The day before Mr Obama arrived
in Estonia, the Ukrainian army had
RUSSI A, UKRAI NE AND NATO
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withdrawn from several towns in
eastern Ukraine. This was a surprise:
for the last few weeks the Ukrain-
ian army seemed to be winning the
conflict. A Ukrainian official in-
sisted that the rebel forces had been
strengthened by large numbers of
Russian troops. He said Russia was
sending more soldiers to Ukraine and
that this was the start of ‘a great war’.
Kiev
UKRAINE
RUSSIA
BELARUS
ROMANIA
M
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D
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V
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P
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Black Sea
Luhansk
Donetsk
On the same day, NATO an-
nounced its plans to set up a new
force of several thousand soldiers.
This force, it declared, would be
used to protect Eastern European
NATO members from Russian
threats or aggression. In response
a senior Russian official said his
country would now change its mili-
tary doctrine. This, he explained,
was because NATO forces were
moving closer to Russia’s borders.
Many now fear that the conflict
in eastern Ukraine could lead to a
return to the Cold War. This was not
a real war. The name is often used
to describe the period between 1947
and 1991. Then, the Russian-led So-
viet Union and the USA (together
with its allies in Western Europe)
were enemies. Many feared a nucle-
ar war could break out between the
Soviet Union and the USA. During
the Cold War, Europe was divided.
Most European countries were ei-
ther NATO members or part of the
Soviet Union.
NATO (or the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization) is a military
alliance. It was set up by America
soon after the Cold War started.
At first it had seven member na-
tions. Now 28 countries are mem-
bers of NATO. Albania and Croa-
tia were the latest to join. They
became members in 2009. NATO
countries agree to send military
forces to help if other NATO mem-
bers are attacked, or threatened
with attack.
The Soviet Union began to break
up in 1991. Nearly all the countries
within it became independent na-
tions. Many of the former Soviet
Union countries in Eastern Europe
have now joined NATO. These in-
clude: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia,
Lithuania, Hungary, and Poland.
So, as Russia lost its military allies,
NATO continued to expand.
Mr Putin first became Russia’s
president 14 years ago. In Russia he
is a very popular leader. The country
had many problems after the Soviet
Union broke up. Most Russians be-
lieve that Mr Putin has made their
country strong and powerful again.
Even though few people live in its
north and east, Russia is the biggest
country in the world. It has huge
supplies of oil, gas, and other valu-
able natural resources. As president,
Mr Putin reorganised the Russian
oil and gas companies. The country
now makes large amounts of mon-
ey from selling these resources to
other countries.
Ukraine used to be part of the So-
viet Union. Like most other former
Soviet Union members, it became
an independent nation in 1991.
However, many ethnic Russians
live in the east of the country. Most
of these people use Russian as their
first language.
At the end of last year large dem-
onstrations took place in the centre
of Kiev, Ukraine’s capital city. The
demonstrators demanded that the
country’s president, Viktor Yanuko-
vych, step down. They accused him
and his government of being corrupt
and dishonest. Those who demon-
strated want Ukraine to work more
closely with the EU. Mr Yanuko-
vych, who is from eastern Ukraine,
did not want to do this.
Most demonstrators were from
the west of Ukraine. Traditionally,
unlike those in the east, these people
distrust Russia. When the demon-
strations grew Mr Yanukovych fled
from the country. The protesters then
set up a new government. The EU
and the USA immediately offered
their support. Some people say this
was wrong. Mr Yanukovych, they ar-
gue, may have been a bad president,
but he was an elected leader. Russia
insisted that Ukraine’s new govern-
ment was unlawful. So the EU and
the USA giving their support to it
was likely to cause problems.
Most Russian speakers in eastern
Ukraine dislike the new govern-
ment. They also think it is illegal.
Many have joined the separatist
groups. Soon after the new govern-
ment took over, Mr Putin made an
announcement. He said that he had
a right to intervene if ethnic Rus-
sians living in other countries are
threatened, or attacked. There are
many Russian-speaking people
in some Eastern European coun-
tries. These include Estonia, Latvia
and Lithuania.
Ukraine is not a NATO member.
NATO is therefore unlikely to send
troops or military equipment to the
country. Yet Russia will probably
make sure that the rebel groups
in east Ukraine are not defeated.
Many people therefore think that
the only way to end the conflict is
for Donetsk and Luhansk to become
self-governing regions. 
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BIGGER URBAN SPIDERS
Researchers in Australia have been
studying a type of spider. They de-
cided to compare golden orb weaver
spiders found in cities, or built up
areas, with those that live in parks
and open spaces. Many people were
surprised by their study’s results.
Spiders are arachnids. This name
comes from the Ancient Greek word
for ‘spider’. People who are scared
of spiders have arachnophobia. This
word is a combination of the Greek
for ‘spider’ and ‘fear’.
Golden orb weaver spider
There are thought to be around
43,600 different types of spider.
They can be found everywhere in
the world except Antarctica. All spi-
ders have eight legs, yet they differ
in size. The smallest have a body
length of only 0.37 millimetres
(0.015 inches). The largest, called
the Goliath birdeater, has a leg span
of 25 centimetres (9.8 inches). All
spiders are able to produce silk. It is
from this that they make their webs.
Golden orb web spiders are com-
mon in Australia and tropical coun-
tries. Their name comes from the
spiders’ large round webs. These
look yellowish, or golden, in the
sunlight. Golden orb web spiders’
webs are up to one metre (3.3 feet)
across. They trap the insects on
which the spiders feed.
Golden orb web spiders rarely
move to different places. They usu-
ally keep the same web. If the web
gets damaged, the female spiders
carefully repair it. Female golden orb
web spiders are much bigger than
males. As many as four or five males
can often be found around the edge
of a female’s web. There, they wait
for a chance to mate with the female.
The researchers caught 222 fe-
male spiders in Sydney. This is the
largest city in Australia. The spiders
were collected from two separate
areas. About half were picked up
in parks. Here, there are many trees
and bushes. The others were found
in urban areas. In these places there
is a lot of concrete and few plants
and trees.
The researchers measured each
spider’s size. To work out the spi-
der’s health and fitness the research-
ers cut them open. The length of
parts of the spiders’ legs was then
measured against their body weight.
The researchers also recorded how
much fat each spider had as well as
the size of its ovary.
Measurements of the ‘park’ spi-
ders were then compared with those
of the ‘urban’ spiders. The results
showed that the urban spiders were
both bigger and healthier. Urban
spiders also seem to be multiplying
faster, or having more babies.
The study was not set up to work
out why the urban spiders were big-
ger. However, the researchers have
several ideas. One possibility is
because concrete areas are warmer.
Another is city lights. The lights at-
tract insects, so more of them are
caught in the spiders’ webs.
In the countryside different spe-
cies of spider steal food from gold-
en orb web spiders. Where there is
no vegetation there are far fewer
‘thieving’ spiders. So ‘city’ golden
orb web spiders may have another
advantage: less of their food is
stolen. 
HOMO NEANDERTHALENSIS
Researchers from a university in the
UK have completed a new Nean-
derthal study. The purpose of their
study was to work out a precise, or
more accurate, date when Neander-
thals died out in Europe.
Homo neanderthalensis (usually
called Neanderthals) were an early
type of human. From the discov-
ery of ancient bones and teeth, it’s
known that Neanderthals were liv-
ing in Europe 400,000 years ago.
Their name comes from a place in
Germany. This was where the first
Neanderthal bones were found 150
years ago.
Neanderthals were what’s known
as hunter-gatherers. They moved
from place to place, hunting wild
animals and collecting fruit, nuts
and berries. Most Neanderthal bones
have been found in caves. For many
years, they were thought to have been
a primitive race. Yet more recent
studies suggest this is not true. Nean-
derthals seemed to have some form
of society or culture. For example,
it’s now known that they decorated
their bodies, looked after the sick and
buried the dead. What’s more Nean-
derthals cooked plants for food and
used some as medicines.
Artist’s impression of a group of Neanderthals
The ancestors of modern-day hu-
mans (Homo sapiens) are believed
to have originated in Africa. Be-
tween 60,000 and 70,000 years ago
these ancient humans began to move
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to other parts of the world. Homo
sapiens first arrived in Europe about
44,000 years ago.
For many years scientists won-
dered if Neanderthals and ancient hu-
mans mated, or bred, with each other.
Neanderthals were slightly shorter
than ancient humans, but their bod-
ies were stronger, or more power-
ful. The brains of Neanderthals and
Homo sapiens were similar in size.
Yet the shape of their skulls was dif-
ferent. Recent genetic studies show
that between one and four percent of
the DNA of today’s Europeans is Ne-
anderthal. This means that there must
have been some interbreeding.
The university researchers tested
nearly 200 items, or artefacts. These
were previously discovered at 40
separate Neanderthal sites. The arte-
facts included pieces of bone, char-
coal and shells. The sites range from
Spain to Russia. The researchers
used new technology to accurately
date all the artefacts.
After studying all the informa-
tion, the scientists believe that Ne-
anderthals disappeared in Europe
about 39,000 years ago. This means,
in Europe, Neanderthals and Homo
sapiens lived close to each other for
roughly 5,000 years. During this
time Neanderthal numbers probably
declined while the population of an-
cient humans increased.
It was thought that ancient humans
attacked the Neanderthals or forced
them to move to the farthest parts of
Europe. The researchers are now sure
that this did not happen. However,
the reason why the Neanderthals
died out is unknown. Some scientists
think they were probably unable to
compete with ancient humans.
Another possibility is that there
was a sudden change in the climate.
If the Neanderthals did disappear
around 39,000 years ago then cli-
mate change might be the reason.
Around this time there was what’s
known as a ‘Heinrich event’.
Between 12,000 and 65,000
years ago there were six Heinrich
events. For much of this period
huge ice sheets covered northern
parts of the world. A Heinrich event
happened when large areas of ice
melted quickly. The melting ice
added enormous amounts of fresh
water to the salty seas and oceans.
This caused some ocean currents
to stop or change direction. Ocean
currents affect the world’s climate.
Therefore the extra fresh water led
to sudden temperature changes in
many places.
In Europe the climate quickly be-
came much colder and drier. Within
ten years the temperature dropped
by about 10ºC (18ºF). This colder
period probably lasted for several
hundred years. Many animals and
plants would not have been able
to survive. This change of climate
might explain why Neanderthals
disappeared in Europe. The much
colder temperatures would have
also affected the ancient humans.
Yet, somehow, they must have
survived. 
BERLIN T4 MEMORIAL
On 2nd September Klaus Wowereit
officially opened, or unveiled, a
new memorial. Mr Wowereit is the
mayor of Berlin, the German capi-
tal city. The memorial is dedicated
to the thousands of handicapped,
or disabled, people who were de-
liberately killed during the Second
World War (1939 – 1945).
During the war the Nazis mur-
dered millions of people. At least six
million J ews and two million Sinti
and Roma (also known as gypsies)
were killed. Thousands of homosex-
uals and people who had disabilities
were also murdered.
The Nazis set up a special organ-
isation to kill disabled people. They
called it a euthanasia programme.
It was code-named T4. This name
came from Tiergartenstrasse 4,
an address of a mansion house, or
building, in Berlin. The people who
ran T4 worked in the large house.
T4 memorial in Berlin, in Germany
Under T4 disabled people who
were not thought to be ‘useful’ were
murdered. They included people
with physical handicaps and mental
illnesses. Disabled people were tak-
en to several hospitals in Germany.
There they were gassed or given a
fatal injection.
The programme was supposed
to last from 1939 to 1941. During
this period about 70,000 disabled
people were murdered. However,
after 1941, the T4 programme con-
tinued unofficially until the end of
the war. It’s thought that in these
four years another 200,000 people
were killed.
After the war many of those who
ran the T4 programme were arrested.
Like other Nazi leaders, they were
put on trial. The people who set up
the programme were found guilty.
They were sentenced to many years
in prison or death by hanging.
The memorial is Berlin’s fourth
monument to the victims of the Na-
zis. The first was unveiled in 2005
and is dedicated to the millions of
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J ews who were killed during the war.
Another smaller memorial was
opened in 2008. It is dedicated to the
homosexuals who were persecuted
by the Nazi regime. A monument to
the Sinti and Roma was officially
opened in 2012.
The new memorial is 24 metres
(80 feet) long. It is close to Berlin’s
Philharmonie building. This is a
world famous concert hall. The me-
morial is made of a large plain blue
sheet of glass. There is a long, low
wall near by. Information about the
murder of the disabled people and
the T4 programme is displayed on
this wall.
Several people spoke during the
unveiling ceremony. They included
relatives of those who were killed
under the T4 programme. The T4
mansion house no longer exists. It
was destroyed at the end of the war.
However, the memorial was delib-
erately erected next to where the
building used to be. 
HUMAN RIGHTS TEAM TO IRAQ
The United Nations Human Rights
Council (UNHRC) held an emer-
gency meeting on 1st September.
Its members decided that a special
human rights team would be sent
to Iraq. This team will investigate
atrocities, or war crimes, carried out
by the Islamic State (IS).
The UNHRC was set up in 2006.
Its job is to make quick decisions
about humanitarian problems. The
Council has 47 seats. Yet there are
192 United Nations (UN) members.
They therefore take turns to have
one of the UNHRC’s seats. Each
UN member country gets a seat
on the Council for three years. It
is then replaced by another nation.
No country is allowed to keep its
Council seat for two successive
three-year periods.
The UNHRC is based at the
Palais des Nations (the Palace of
Nations), in Geneva. This is one of
the largest diplomatic conference
centres in the world. It is also the
UN’s headquarters in Switzerland.
UNHRC meetings take place in the
Palace’s Human Rights and Alliance
of Civilizations Room.
TURKEY
JORDAN
SYRIA
IRAQ
IRAN
SAUDI
ARABIA
Baghdad
Mosul
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t
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O Area controlled by the Islamic State (IS)
The IS is an Islamic militant or-
ganisation. (It is also known as ISIS
and ISIL.) The IS was set up about
three years ago in northern Syria.
More recently its numbers of follow-
ers, or fighters, has greatly increased.
These men dress in black. The IS has
also acquired large amounts of mon-
ey and weapons. People who follow
the Islamic faith are either Sunni or
Shia Muslims. Most IS fighters are
Sunni Muslims. The organisation’s
leader and his followers believe that
everyone should follow very strict
Islamic laws.
The IS occupies a large part of
northern Syria. Last J anuary, IS
fighters took control of western
Iraq. Then, in J une, they suddenly
seized Mosul and a large area in the
country’s north west. Mosul is Iraq’s
second biggest city.
The IS treats Shia Muslims and
ethnic minorities very harshly.
Ethnic minorities are small groups
within a country who have a dif-
ferent culture. Ethnic minorities in
northern Iraq include: Christians,
Yazidis, Turkmen, and Kurds. The
ancestors of the Iraqi Turkmen came
from what is now modern-day Tur-
key. The Yazidis are an ancient peo-
ple. The religion they follow is more
than 4,000 years old.
Since it took control of north
west Iraq, the IS has carried out
frequent executions. Many reports
say younger women are being taken
away. Hundreds of Iraqi soldiers
captured by the IS have been shot.
Its followers have destroyed many
Shia mosques and shrines and other
religious buildings. IS fighters have
recorded some executions and post-
ed the videos on the internet.
The UN believes that over one mil-
lion people in Iraq have been forced
to flee from the IS since the begin-
ning of the year. Most of these people
are now living in refugee camps.
Many Kurds live in north east
Iraq. Today this area is known as
Iraqi Kurdistan. It is part of Iraq, but
the Kurds can make many of their
own decisions. Iraqi Kurdistan also
has its own military force or army.
Called the Peshmerga, it has been
fighting against the IS.
The Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations
Room in the Palais des Nations, in Geneva
Many countries have now decid-
ed to help the Iraqi government and
the Peshmerga in the fight against
the IS. American warplanes have
attacked IS fighters and military ve-
hicles. Soldiers from Iran are help-
ing the Iraqi army. Other countries,
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page 6
such as Germany, are sending bet-
ter and more powerful weapons to
the Peshmerga.
The UNHRC team in Iraq will
record and collect details of IS
atrocities. This information can then
be used in possible future war crime
investigations and trials. 
HONG KONG ANNOUNCEMENT
Senior officials in China made an im-
portant decision about Hong Kong on
31st August. In 2017 there will be an
election in the city. It will be held to
choose Hong Kong’s new leader, or
chief executive. The Chinese officials
declared that only approved candi-
dates would be able to take part. Their
decision angered people in Hong
Kong who want more democracy.
Hong Kong became a colony
of the UK in 1843. In 1898, China
agreed to lease some extra land to
the British for 99 years. Under UK
rule, Hong Kong became a crowded,
but very successful, city. Hong Kong
has a very large natural harbour. For
many years most of the world’s cargo
ships, which took goods to China,
passed through the city.
The lease arrangement ended on
30th J une 1997. Before this date, the
UK and China held many discus-
sions. The UK agreed to return all of
Hong Kong to China when the lease
ended. Many of the discussions
were therefore about how Hong
Kong would be run after China took
over. China’s leaders suggested
what became known as ‘one coun-
try, two systems’. So, even though
it would be a part of China, Hong
Kong’s laws and how it was gov-
erned would not alter for 50 years.
The change from UK rule to Chi-
nese rule in Hong Kong is usually
called the ‘hand over’.
‘One country, two systems’
means people in Hong Kong have
more political freedoms than those
in other areas of China. One dif-
ference is the right to hold peace-
ful demonstrations. Another is that
people are allowed to follow their
own religious beliefs. News report-
ers and journalists are also supposed
to be able to report the news in an
unbiased way.
Hong Kong and its harbour
The UK wanted local leaders to
be elected by everyone who lived
in Hong Kong. China was not in
favour of this. Eventually China
agreed to some elections. However,
most of those who run the city are
chosen by China. These people ap-
point the chief executive, or the per-
son in charge of Hong Kong. The
chief executive serves for five years.
However, China did agree that eve-
ryone in Hong Kong could vote for
the chief executive 20 years after
the hand over, or in 2017.
The current chief executive is Le-
ung Chun-ying. He was selected to
be Hong Kong’s leader in 2012. So
his five-year term will end in 2017.
In recent years there have been
several ‘democracy’ protests in
Hong Kong. Those who take part
want Hong Kong’s leaders to be
democratically elected. These people
hoped this would happen in 2017.
They say anyone who wants to stand
as a candidate for chief executive in
2017 should be allowed to do so.
The recent announcement by
China’s leaders confirms that eve-
ryone will be able to vote for the
chief executive in 2017. However,
only two or three candidates will
be allowed to stand. What’s more
China’s leaders will select the can-
didates. The democracy protesters
claim this makes the forthcoming
election meaningless.
Not everyone in Hong Kong
agrees with the democracy protest-
ers. Several opposing groups have
held their own demonstrations. They
say the protesters are damaging the
city’s reputation. Many of Hong
Kong’s business leaders have also
criticised the democracy protests. 
PHOENICIAN SHIP DISCOVERY
On 25th August the government of
Malta announced a new discovery.
It said a group of undersea scien-
tists, or archaeologists, had found
an ancient shipwreck. The wooden
boat is believed to have sunk around
3,700 years ago. If so, it is one of the
oldest shipwrecks ever discovered
in the western part of the Mediter-
ranean Sea.
Amphorae on the seabed at wreck site
Malta is an archipelago of seven
islands. The wreck of the ship is
about 1.6 kilometres (one mile) off
the coast of Gozo. This is Malta’s
second largest island. For 150 years
Malta was part of the British Empire.
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page 7
It became an independent country in
1964. The island nation is now one of
the 28 member countries of the Euro-
pean Union (EU). It joined in 2004.
Phoenicia was an ancient civili-
sation. It prospered between 1550
BCE and 300 CE. The Phoenicians
lived along the coast of modern-day
Lebanon and parts of Syria. Their
three main coastal cities were Byblos,
Sidon and Tyre. They were expert
ship builders and seafarers. The Phoe-
nician civilisation ended after their
cities were attacked and taken over by
the Persians and Ancient Greeks.
Demonstration of how amphorae were probably
transported on Phoenician ships
The Phoenicians were well-
known for their purple dye, glass-
ware and wine. Shells from a type
of sea snail were crushed to make
the dye. The Phoenicians’ wooden
sailing ships traded goods all along
the south coast of the Mediterranean
Sea and southern Spain.
The shipwreck was discovered
several months ago. It is about 120
metres (395 feet) below the surface
of the sea. The wreck’s location is
being kept a secret. The scientists,
who are from Malta, France and
the USA, have recently completed
a five-day study of the sunken ship.
During this time they used a mini
submarine, or remotely-operated
vehicle (ROV), to take 8,000 photo-
graphs. These pictures will be used
to make a three-dimensional (3D)
model of the ancient ship.
At the wreck site many amphorae
can be seen lying on the seabed. The
scientists have also counted at least
20 circular millstones, or grinding
stones. They are made from lava,
or volcanic rock. These millstones
were used to grind wheat or corn to
make bread.
Amphorae are large jars, or jugs,
made out of clay. (The singular is
amphora.) The Phoenicians, Ancient
Greeks and Romans all made these
storage jars. They were used to trans-
port things such as olive oil, wine,
grain, and fish. Amphorae usually
had double handles, a long neck and
a pointed base. Their design meant
they could be set upright in soft soil
or sand. They could also be placed
inside a ship’s hull and secured with
ropes tied through their handles.
The scientists say that the wooden
ship was about 15 metres (50 feet)
long. It was carrying at least seven
different types of amphorae. This
suggests that the ship had called,
or stopped, at several ports. It was
probably sailing from Sicily to Malta
when it sank. (Today Sicily is part of
Italy.) The scientists now plan to ex-
cavate the shipwreck and recover all
the items it was carrying. 
GROUVILLE HOARD
Researchers in Jersey have started
work on a solid mass of ancient
coins. The coins, which were found
in 2012, were buried about 2,000
years ago. As they were underground
for so long, the coins are stuck to-
gether in one large mass, or ‘lump’.
Many ancient valuable items
have been found buried under-
ground in Europe. These were prob-
ably hidden for safekeeping in times
of war or fighting. The owners may
have been killed or unable to return
and dig them up. When these ‘treas-
ures’ are found today they are usu-
ally called a ‘hoard’.
J ersey is one of the Channel Is-
lands. These are close to the coast
of France. Yet the islands are self-
governing territories, which are
loyal to the UK’s king or queen. The
coins were discovered in an area
called Grouville. They are therefore
known as the Grouville Hoard.
In the early 1980s two men who
live on Jersey heard a story about an-
cient coins being found. A farmer had
pulled a tree out of a hedge. Under
it was an old clay pot. Several silver
coins were inside. The men wanted
to check the area with metal detec-
tors to see if there were more buried
coins. However, no one knew exactly
where the clay pot was found.
Part of the Grouville Hoard
In recent years the farm changed
ownership. The two men asked the
new farmer if they could check
the field with metal detectors. He
agreed. Yet they could only do it
at a certain time of year. This was
between the harvesting of one crop
and sowing seeds for the next. This
meant the men had only about 15
hours a year to work in the field.
Each year the men returned with
their metal detectors. After 30 years
without success they found 60 Iron
Age silver coins and one made
from gold. Soon afterwards they
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discovered the huge mass of coins.
The men immediately told local of-
ficials. A team of archaeologists was
then sent to investigate.
The number of coins surprised
everyone. It is one of the world’s
largest coin hoards. The mass of
coins weighs 750 kilograms (1,650
pounds). Experts believe it contains
around 70,000 Iron Age and Ro-
man coins. Several pieces of gold
jewellery can be seen sticking out
from the mass. The hoard is esti-
mated to be worth about £12 million
(US$20 million).
The coins were probably buried
around 50 BCE. Then, J ulius Cae-
sar, the famous Roman general, was
attacking Celtic tribes that lived in
what is now northern France. His-
torians think a tribe trying to escape
from Caesar’s armies took the coins
to J ersey.
The mass of coins is in J ersey’s
museum. Researchers have start-
ed to remove and clean the coins
one-by-one. About 500 coins are
separated every week. The project
is therefore expected to take three
years. One wall of the researchers’
laboratory has been replaced with
glass. So visitors to the museum can
now watch as each coin is separated
and cleaned. 
CABINET RESHUFFLE IN FRANCE
On 25th August, Manuel Valls,
France’s prime minister, announced
that all the members of the cabinet,
or government, had resigned. He
made the announcement after three
cabinet members criticised François
Hollande, the country’s president.
In many countries the cabinet is a
group of senior government minis-
ters who make important decisions.
In France the president runs the
country. The president also has to
choose a prime minster. Then, they
select the members of the cabinet.
The prime minister is the cabinet’s
leader. Cabinet members are usu-
ally from the same political party
as the president and prime minister.
However, they may be members of a
coalition party. Coalitions are made
up of two or more political parties,
which agree to work together.
France’s president, François Hollande
People in the cabinet have spe-
cial jobs. For instance, they could
be in charge of education, justice, fi-
nance, foreign affairs, defence, and
the economy. A reshuffle is when
several members of the cabinet are
changed at the same time. The prime
minister may decide to sack, or fire,
one or two cabinet members. Others
are then promoted to these positions.
In France, the prime minister would
not reshuffle his cabinet without the
agreement of the president.
Mr Hollande was elected as
France’s president in 2012. In re-
cent years the country has had
many economic problems. France’s
economy has not been growing and
the number of people without jobs
is now nearly 3.5 million. Many
people think France’s government
is spending too much money. As the
economy has not been doing well,
much of the money the government
spends has to be borrowed.
Reducing, or cutting, the amount
of money a government spends is
often called austerity. Government
spending cuts are usually unpopu-
lar. Government workers might be
paid less. Some may lose their jobs.
In times of austerity the amount of
money spent on schools, hospitals,
the police, military forces, welfare,
transport, and law courts may be cut.
At the same time the amount of tax
people have to pay is often increased.
Before Mr Hollande was elected,
he promised to reduce government
spending cuts and austerity. He also
said that tax laws would be changed.
Wealthier people would have to pay
much more and poorer people less.
Like 17 other members of the
European Union (EU), France uses
the euro as its currency. These coun-
tries are often called the eurozone.
In recent years, economic growth in
many eurozone countries has been
shrinking. The eurozone’s strong-
est economy is Germany. Its leader,
Chancellor Angela Merkel, insists
that all eurozone countries must cut
government spending.
Manuel Valls, prime minister of France
Mr Hollande and Mr Valls now
say they want to increase the num-
ber of businesses, or companies, in
France. This, most experts say, is the
best way to reduce unemployment,
or the number of people without
jobs. Mr Hollande has announced
that the government will spend
more money on businesses. This is
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page 9
supposed to encourage companies
to expand and employ more people.
However, to do this, Mr Hollande
has decided to increase austerity and
not reduce taxes. This has angered
some members of his political party
and many people who voted for him.
On 24th August, Arnaud Monte-
bourg, the minister for the economy,
spoke to one of the largest French
newspapers. He said what Mr Hol-
lande was doing was wrong. He also
blamed Mrs Merkel for forcing more
austerity on other eurozone coun-
tries. Two other cabinet ministers
said Mr Montebourg was correct.
Cabinet members criticising the
president is unusual. Mr Valls spoke
with Mr Hollande. They agreed that
Mr Valls would announce the resig-
nation of the government, or every-
one in the cabinet. Soon afterwards,
Mr Hollande told the prime minister
to form a new cabinet. Mr Monte-
bourg and the two ministers who
agreed with him were replaced. Mr
Valls only selected people who sup-
port the president’s economic plans
to be members of the new cabinet. 
FINGERPRINTING FOR FOOD
Nicolás Maduro, the president of
Venezuela, recently announced a
controversial plan. From 30th No-
vember, grocery shops and supermar-
kets will have to use special devices.
These will scan people’s fingerprints
when they buy certain foods.
Venezuela is an oil-rich country.
It has the largest proven, or known,
oil supplies in the world. The coun-
try is very dependent on this indus-
try. Around 95% of the money Ven-
ezuela makes comes from oil.
In recent years the government
has been printing extra banknotes.
This is because it has been spending
more money than it earns. Printing
extra money usually causes infla-
tion. This is when a currency loses
value and the cost of things increase.
The more banknotes there are in a
country the less they are worth. At
around 60%, Venezuela now has
one of the highest inflation rates in
the world.
Empty shelves in a shop in Venezuela
Many of the things people in Ven-
ezuela need are imported from other
countries. Examples are: shampoo,
cooking oil, powdered milk, wash-
ing powder, toilet paper, and nap-
pies, or diapers. Government owned
companies control the import and
price of certain foodstuffs such as
flour, milk, butter, and sugar.
The Venezuelan government runs
a ‘price control’ system. This means
it sets prices for certain goods. Shops
are not allowed to increase them.
High inflation means it is expensive
for shop owners to buy goods, or
items, from other countries. Even if
they did, they would have to sell them
at the lower government ‘controlled’
price. Most shop owners have there-
fore stopped importing goods. This is
why many shops in Venezuela now
have empty shelves.
The foodstuffs that government
owned companies control are subsi-
dised. A subsidy is a payment made
by the government to keep the price
of something lower than its real cost.
When subsidised foodstuffs are de-
livered to shops in Venezuela, peo-
ple quickly buy them. Some make
money by illegally taking large
amounts of these goods across the
border into Colombia. This is called
smuggling. In Colombia the smug-
glers sell the goods for a far higher
price. Yet the prices Colombians pay
are still less than what the goods cost
in Colombian shops. Large amounts
of petrol are smuggled across the
border for the same reason.
The government’s price controls
and subsidies have led to a big in-
crease in smuggling. Last month the
Venezuelan government announced
that its border with Colombia would
be closed at night. Around 17,000
soldiers have been sent to the border
area. Many help to search cars for
smuggled goods. The government
of Colombia agreed to the border
closure. It also wants to stop the
Venezuelan smugglers.
Many people have complained
about the fingerprinting plan. How-
ever, Mr Maduro insists that it will
stop smuggling. Anyone who buys
certain goods will have their fin-
gerprints scanned. It will therefore
be difficult to buy large amounts of
these items without being detected.
If the smuggling is stopped, officials
say, the food shortages will end. Not
everyone agrees. Food shortages
and empty shelves, these people ar-
gue, are the result of high inflation
and government subsidies. 
DEAD STAR EXPLOSION
Astronomers, or scientists who
study the planets and stars, have
made a new discovery about dead
stars. They have proved that dead
stars, or white dwarfs, can reignite
and explode.
All stars have a life cycle that can
last for billions of years. Some are
many times hotter and brighter than
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others. The coolest stars are a red-
dish colour and the hottest ones are
blue-white.
Stars’ life cycles depend on their
mass, or the amount of matter they
contain. A star is born when a cloud
of gas and dust in a nebula is pulled
together by gravity. It begins to spin
faster and faster and heats up to
form a protostar.
A process called nuclear fusion
then begins. This turns hydrogen
atoms into helium atoms and pro-
duces light and heat. The protostar
starts to glow brightly. At this stage
it is called a main sequence star. The
star will stay like this for millions
or billions of years. Our Sun is cur-
rently a main sequence star.
Type Ia supernova in the M82 galaxy (ESA)
Eventually, the hydrogen sup-
ply in a star’s core runs out. It can
no longer produce heat and light.
The core shrinks, or contracts. Yet
the star’s outer part expands, cools
and glows red. At this stage stars
are called ‘red giants’. All stars will
become red giants one day but then,
depending on their mass, they de-
velop in one of two ways.
Low-mass stars (like our Sun)
will lose their outer shell. The core
collapses to become a ‘white dwarf’,
a small but very hot star. Over sev-
eral billion years, white dwarfs cool
and fade and turn into what are
known as ‘black dwarfs’.
High-mass stars are different.
Their core gets hotter and hotter.
Eventually, the core becomes so hot
that it explodes. This huge explo-
sion is called a supernova. After a
supernova explosion a neutron star
or black hole is formed. Both have
extremely strong forces of gravity. In
a black hole, gravity is so strong that
nothing, not even light, can escape.
For some time scientists have sus-
pected that white dwarfs could also
explode or become supernova. Yet
they were not sure how or why this
happened. Exploding white dwarfs
were thought to have another nearby,
or companion, star. This is known as
a binary system, or two stars orbiting,
or going around, each other. If a white
dwarf in a binary system explodes it
is called a Type Ia supernova.
Supernovae are the most pow-
erful explosions that occur in the
Universe. They create huge bursts
of gamma rays. Gamma rays are
invisible to the human eye. They
have a very short wavelength and
are very energetic. (If you were
exposed to a large dose of gamma
radiation on the Earth it would be
very dangerous.)
The scientists were using a Eu-
ropean Space Agency (ESA) space
telescope, or observatory. Called
INTEGRAL, it was launched 12
years ago. The telescope was de-
signed to study gamma rays. The
scientists detected a supernova at
the end of J anuary. Later, this super-
nova was given the name SN2014J .
The explosion was in a galaxy called
M82. This galaxy is about 11.5
million light years from the Earth.
SN2014J was the nearest Type Ia
supernova ever recorded.
The scientists have spent sev-
eral months studying SN2014J ’s
gamma rays. They can now con-
firm that an exploding white dwarf
created them. The white dwarf, the
scientists explain, was taking in or
pulling matter from its companion
star. The ever increasing weight of
this matter compressed the carbon
within the dead star’s core. Even-
tually, this caused a huge nuclear
explosion, which tore, or ripped, the
white dwarf apart. 
BY-THE-WIND SAILORS
Millions of small jellyfish-like or-
ganisms have been appearing on
beaches along the West Coast of the
USA. Called velella, they are nor-
mally found floating far out at sea.
When many marine creatures are
washed up on coasts, it is called a
mass stranding.
Velella are also known by several
other names. These include ‘sea raft’
and ‘by-the-wind sailor’. They are a
deep blue colour and less than ten
centimetres (four inches) long. On
their upper part is a stiff transparent,
or see-through, fin. It looks and acts
like a sail. (The name velella comes
from ‘velum’, or the Latin word
for ‘sail’.)
By-the-wind sailor (Jacopo Werther)
The floating velella are unable to
swim. Instead they are blown along
by the wind. If the currents and
winds change, thousands of them
can be washed up on coastlines.
Velella are hydroids. This means
they are ‘colonial organisms’. So, un-
like jellyfish, each by-the-wind sailor
is not a single creature. Instead it is
made up of many smaller organisms
that live together. These individual
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organisms are called polyps. A polyp
is similar to a small sea anemone.
It has its own jelly-like body and a
mouth surrounded by tentacles. So
velella are not single creatures but
colonies of polyps. Corals are an-
other type of hydroid. They too are
made up of many polyps.
By-the-wind sailor mass stranding (NOAA)
Velella feed on tiny marine crea-
tures called zooplankton and fish
eggs. The velella’s tentacles hang
down from their underside. They
sting or stun their prey. Velella
stings have little effect on humans.
Not much is known about vele-
lla. They seem to have an unusual
life cycle. In the middle of the ocean
small parts of them, called medu-
sae, drop off. These then sink into
the sea. Around 2,130 metres (7,000
feet) below the surface, the medusae
produce either sperm or eggs. Ferti-
lization then occurs at these depths.
The young velella, or larva, develop
a small gas filled float or sack. They
then slowly float up to the surface
of the sea.
By-the-wind sailors only have
a few predators. One is a type of
sea slug. If they get washed up on
a beach, velella do not live for very
long. After drying up, they look like
small pieces of plastic.
Some people think mass strand-
ings only happen after velella
population explosions, or dramatic
increases in their numbers. Ocean
temperatures becoming warmer
than usual might cause this. In the
Pacific Ocean there is a warm water
event, which, on average, happens
every five years. These events are
called El Niños. During an El Niño
the seawater in the eastern Pacific
Ocean becomes much warmer. 
COUP IN LESOTHO
Tom Thabane is the prime minis-
ter of Lesotho. On 30th August he
suddenly left Maseru, the country’s
capital city. After arriving in South
Africa, Mr Thabane claimed that the
army had taken over Lesotho and
his life was in danger. When a mili-
tary force takes control in this way
it is known as a coup d’état, or coup
(pronounced coo).
About two million people live in
Lesotho. The country is an enclave.
This means it is a territory, or area of
land, that is enclosed within another.
Lesotho is surrounded by South Af-
rica. The country is about the same
size as Belgium or the American
state of Maryland. Lesotho used to
be a colony of the UK. It became an
independent country in 1966.
Maseru
Pretori a
SOUTH
AFRICA
BOTSWANA
M
O
Z
A
M
B
I
Q
U
E
LESOTHO
ZIMBABWE
Lesotho is a mountain kingdom. It
is sometimes called the ‘Kingdom in
the Sky’. This is because the whole
country is more than 1,000 metres
(3,280 feet) above sea level. Thabana
Ntlenyana, one of the highest moun-
tains in Africa, is in Lesotho.
Lesotho is a constitutional mon-
archy. This means a king or queen is
the head of the country, yet he or she
does not govern it. The country’s
elected prime minister and his or her
government make all the important
decisions. Letsie the Third is Leso-
tho’s king. The UK, J apan, Spain,
and the Netherlands are examples of
other constitutional monarchies.
There are three main political par-
ties in Lesotho. Mr Thabane, who
has been the country’s prime minister
since 2012, leads one. However, last
June he temporarily closed, or sus-
pended, Lesotho’s parliament. This
was because of arguments between
the three political leaders.
The Southern African Develop-
ment Community (SADC) is a group
of 15 African countries. All are in the
southern part of Africa. The organi-
sation’s members agree to work or
cooperate with each other. Lesotho is
one of the SADC’s members.
Soon after Mr Thabane arrived
in South Africa he met with J acob
Zuma, the country’s president. Mr
Zuma then arranged a meeting of
officials from other SADC coun-
tries. This took place in Pretoria,
one of South Africa’s largest cities,
on 1st September. The leaders of
Lesotho’s other two political parties
also attended.
Reports say that there has been
fighting between the police and the
army in Lesotho. Many of the police
are said to have left the country. Mr
Thabane is believed to have the sup-
port of the police. Yet senior army
commanders back one of the prime
minister’s rivals. In the past the
army has taken control of Lesotho
several times. The country’s parlia-
ment was reopened, or restored, in
1993. This was after the army ran
the country for seven years.
Mr Thabane asked the SADC to
send a group of peacekeeping sol-
diers to his country. However, the
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page 12
organisation did not agree to this.
Instead it announced a plan to send
an observer team to Lesotho. 
MAYA CITY REDISCOVERED
A team led by an archaeologist from
Slovenia has rediscovered a ‘lost’
Maya city called Lagunita. It was
found in thick forest in Mexico’s
Yucatan peninsula. The ruined city
is close to the country’s border
with Guatemala.
Historians think the Maya civili-
sation first began around 4,000 years
ago. The Maya people lived in Cen-
tral America in what is now Guate-
mala, the southern part of Mexico,
Belize, and parts of Honduras, and
El Salvador. The Maya were at their
most powerful between 250 CE and
1000 CE. During this period they
built many stone buildings, temples
and pyramids.
Maya ruins in Lagunita (Ivan Sprajc)
Spanish invaders arrived in this
part of Central America in the early
1500s. By this time the Maya civili-
sation had declined. Many of its cit-
ies had already become ‘lost’. Their
buildings were overgrown by trees and
plants. Nobody knows what caused
the Maya’s decline. It may have been
wars, disease, a very long drought, or
even a combination of all three.
The Maya had an impressive
knowledge of the planets, the stars
and how the Sun appears to move
across the sky. They used a com-
plicated calendar. It marked time in
cycles, called baktuns. Each baktun
was roughly 394 years long. The
Mayan system of writing used sym-
bols. These are called glyphs. Yet
the knowledge of their writing died
out soon after the Spanish arrived.
The Maya never completely
disappeared. Today, many of the
people living in this part of Cen-
tral America are descendants of the
Maya. Around five million people
still speak Mayan languages. Today,
many of the ancient glyphs have
been deciphered, or decoded. So
experts are able to understand what
most of the symbols mean.
In the 1970s, Eric Von Euw, an
American archaeologist, explored
some forests in the Yucatan. He
claimed to have discovered a lost
Maya city. Von Euw called the city
Lagunita. He made drawings of some
of its ruined buildings. One had an
unusual door, or entrance. The sides
of the door looked like the open jaws
of a monster. However, Von Euw nev-
er published his drawings. Nor did he
record exactly where the city was. So
Lagunita became lost once more.
The team’s leader says they re-
discovered Lagunita after looking
at aerial photographs. In one of the
pictures they noticed something in
the trees that could be stone build-
ings. The team then set off to search
for the ruins. After finding the site
the team’s members realised it was
Lagunita. This was because many
of the ruined buildings matched Von
Euw’s drawings.
The team spent two months in the
forest. They also found the ruins of
another city. It is about six kilome-
tres (3.7 miles) from Lagunita. Both
cities have plazas, or what used to
be wide-open spaces, pyramids, and
palace-like buildings. Some stone
pyramids are 20 metres (66 feet)
high. In the second city there are at
least 30 deep underground chambers.
These were used to collect rainwater.
The team made maps of the cen-
tral areas of the two cities. Its leader
believes the cities were inhabited
between 600 and 1000 CE. He be-
lieves there are many other lost
Maya cities in this part of Mexico
and Guatemala. 
EVOLVING FISH?
Researchers in Canada have com-
pleted an experiment with some
unusual freshwater fish. Called
polypterus, these fish live in African
rivers. The experiment shows how
some types of fish may have evolved
into land-dwelling creatures many
millions of years ago.
Polypterus
There are around 18 species of
polypterus (pronounced polly-ter-
us). These fish are also called birch-
irs. Most polypterus are about 41
centimetres (16 inches) long. The
name polypterus comes from two
Greek words, which mean ‘many’
and ‘wings’. These words describe
the fishes’ long dorsal fin, or the one
on their backs. The dorsal fin is re-
ally made up of many smaller fins.
It looks like the teeth of a saw, or its
cutting edge. Polypterus are carni-
vores, or meat-eaters. They feed on
insects and smaller fish.
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page 13
This map shows countries to which news stories refer in this issue. Visit www.newsademic.com for more detailed world maps.
VENEZUELA
USA
UK
UKRAINE
SWITZERLAND
SOUTH AFRICA
RUSSIA
MONGOLIA
MEXICO
MALTA
LITHUANIA
LESOTHO
LATVIA
IRAQ
GERMANY
FRANCE
ESTONIA
COLOMBIA
CHINA
Hong Kong
CANADA
Bermuda
AUSTRALIA
The first creatures to crawl on the
land evolved from ones that lived in
the sea. Scientists know this from
the study of ancient fossils. The
‘move’ from sea to land happened
around 400 million years ago. Be-
fore this there were only plants
and insects on the land. Then, over
a long time, these ‘new’ fish-like
creatures slowly changed. They be-
came tetrapods, or the world’s first
vertebrates. A vertebrate is an ani-
mal with four limbs and a backbone.
Over many more millions of years,
tetrapods evolved into amphibians,
reptiles, birds, and mammals.
Some species of polypterus can
live in very shallow water. Unlike
most fish, they have a lung-like
breathing organ. Polypterus there-
fore get the oxygen they need from
the air. Most fish use gills to extract
oxygen from the water. Air-breath-
ing polypterus are able to move over
land from one pool of water to an-
other. The fish have a large fin on ei-
ther side of their bodies, just behind
the head. Polypterus use these fins
to move over land. As the fish wrig-
gle from side to side, the two fins
pull their bodies along.
The Canadian researchers used
150 very young polypterus for their
experiment. Two large, specially
designed glass tanks, or aquariums,
were set up. Fifty of the fish were
put in one tank, which was filled
with water. Only the bottom of the
other tank was wet. However, the air
in this tank contained a lot of mois-
ture. The researchers used ‘misters’
to do this. These can be found in
some fresh food shop displays. They
keep the enclosed air moist, or hu-
mid. The fish in both tanks were fed
in the normal way. The ones in the
‘dry’ tank did not seem unhappy, or
in any discomfort.
After eight months, the research-
ers compared the fish in the two
tanks. When put in water, the ‘dry’
tank fish could swim just as well as
the ‘wet’ tank ones. However, the
‘dry’ tank fish were much better at
moving over land than the others.
They kept their front fins closer
to their bodies, did not wriggle so
much, and took quicker ‘steps’. The
‘dry’ tank polypterus were also able
to lift their heads off the ground.
The researchers also checked the
fishes’ anatomy. The skeletons of the
‘dry’ and ‘wet’ tank polypterus were
slightly different. Those that grew up
on land had stronger chests and shoul-
ders. They were also a little longer.
This extra length was just behind the
fishes’ heads. The researchers believe
that this might be the ‘beginnings of
a neck’. The ‘dry’ tank fish were able
to move their heads from side to side
and up and down easily.
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page 14
The results of the experiment sur-
prised the researchers. The changes
in the polypterus seem to match
some ancient fossils. Therefore, the
researchers’ experiment may have
recreated what gradually happened,
over a far longer time, many mil-
lions of years ago. 
FAMOUS FOOTPRINT PHOTOGRAPHS
Christie’s has announced that some
old photographs are to be sold.
Christie’s is a well-known interna-
tional auction house company. The
photographs were taken 65 years
ago. Soon afterwards, they became
world famous. This was because
many believed the pictures con-
firmed that yetis exist.
Shipton’s picture of an ice axe with footprint
Eric Shipton (1907 – 1977) took
the photographs. He was a British
mountain climber. In 1951 Shipton
led an expedition to the Himalayan
Mountains in Tibet, in China. His
team was trying to find the best way,
or route, to climb Mount Everest.
Two years later another expedition
followed Shipton’s route. Two mem-
bers of this team, Edmund Hillary
(1919 – 2008) and Tenzing Norgay
(1914 – 1986), were the first people
to get to the top of Mount Everest.
Hillary was a New Zealander. Tenz-
ing (also known as Sherpa Tenzing)
came from Nepal.
During his 1951 expedition,
Shipton took some photographs of
strange animal tracks in the snow.
Two pictures show another climb-
er’s ice axe and boot beside a sin-
gle footprint. This was to show how
big it was. Later, this climber wrote
about the footprints. He said they
were high in the mountains, or at
around 5,000 metres (16,500 feet).
The climber described how he and
Shipton followed several sets of
tracks for about 1.6 kilometres (one
mile). Wherever the tracks crossed
small, deep cracks, or crevasses,
claw marks could be seen in the
snow. These marks were at the end
of each toe imprint.
Many people who live in the
Himalayas insist that yetis exist. The
creatures are said to be tall, hairy,
ape-like animals that walk on two
legs. Some claim to have seen them.
Sightings of yetis in this part of the
world go back thousands of years.
However, none of the creatures have
ever been found or killed.
Several mountain climbers from
other countries say they have seen a
yeti. Photographs have been taken,
but none are clear. Most scientists
insist that the yeti is a myth. They
argue that it would be difficult for a
large animal to live in the mountains
where there is not much food.
Last year a professor completed
some DNA tests on hairs found in
two separate places in the Himala-
yas. The professor, who works at
Oxford University in the UK, claims
that the hairs belong to a type of
bear. This, he says, is a ‘new’ bear,
or one that has never been recorded
before. The DNA results suggest
the unknown animal might be ‘part’
brown bear and ‘part’ polar bear.
Some people think Shipton faked
the photographs. He was a ‘joker’
and often played tricks on fellow
climbers. These people suspect that
Shipton was surprised when his
pictures became so famous. After
this, he was too embarrassed to ad-
mit that they weren’t real.
Shipton’s picture of a boot with footprint
When he was older, Shipton
wrote two books about climbing in
the Himalayas. Neither book men-
tions the yeti footprints or pictures.
Shipton died aged 70. He never said
that the footprint photographs were
faked. Christie’s expects Shipton’s
pictures to sell for about £4,000
(US$6,600). 
BURNING OF THE WHITE HOUSE
On 24th August 1814, a group of
British soldiers captured Washing-
ton, the capital city of the USA. The
soldiers were then ordered to set fire
to many of the city’s buildings. One
was the American president’s home.
So, 24th August 2014 was the 200th
anniversary of what is often called
‘the Burning of the White House’.
Beginning in the early 1600s,
Britain set up settlements and colo-
nies on the eastern coast of what is
now the USA. By the 1770s there
were 13 separate colonies. All were
controlled by Britain. Yet, at that
time, many people in the 13 colonies
were unhappy about being governed
by Britain and its king. They wanted
to elect their own leaders. The rulers
of Britain disagreed.
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page 15
In 1775 a war broke out. It ended
in 1783. This war is known as the
American War of Independence, or
the American Revolutionary War.
George Washington (1732 – 1799)
commanded the army that fought
against the British. Washington’s
soldiers eventually defeated the
British forces. One year after the
war began the leaders of the 13 col-
onies had made an announcement.
Each colony, they declared, was an
independent state. Together, these
states were part of a new country
called the United States of America.
Painting of the White House after the burning
Six years after the end of the war,
George Washington was elected as
the USA’s first president. Wash-
ington DC, the country’s capital
city, was named after him. Work
on building a mansion, or large
house, for the president began in
1792. It was finally completed eight
years later.
J ohn Adams (1735 – 1826),
America’s second president, was
the first person to live in the large
mansion. Then, it was known as the
‘President’s House’ or ‘President’s
Palace’. It was not called the White
House until sometime later.
Even though the USA became a
separate country, Canada remained
part of the British Empire. In 1812
American soldiers crossed the bor-
der and tried to annex, or take over,
some parts of Canada. This led to an-
other war. Called the War of 1812, it
lasted for three years. One year after
the war began, a group of American
soldiers captured York. (This city is
now called Toronto. It is the largest
city in Canada.) The soldiers then
set fire to the Canadian parliament
buildings. Nearby houses were bro-
ken into.
In 1814 General Ross (1766 –
1814) was ordered to attack Wash-
ington. He commanded a force of
2,500 British soldiers. The attack, he
was told, would be in retaliation for
what had happened in York. General
Ross set out from the island of Ber-
muda in several ships. After landing
on the coast, his soldiers advanced
towards Washington. They easily
defeated a weak American force,
which was supposed to protect the
capital city.
After occupying Washington, the
British soldiers set fire to the Presi-
dent’s House and many other gov-
ernment buildings. They left the city
two days later. General Ross then
tried to capture the city of Balti-
more. This attack failed and he was
killed in the fighting.
The White House
After the fire, only the outside,
or exterior, walls of the President’s
House remained. Rebuilding work
started the following year. It had
been completed by 1817. The first
president to live in the reconstructed
building was J ames Monroe (1758
– 1831). He was the USA’s fifth
president.
About 30 years ago some reno-
vation work was carried out in the
White House. Scorch marks, made
by the flames, were uncovered. A
decision was made not to paint over
all the black marks. Some were left
to remind people of what happened
in 1814. 
SLIDING STONES EXPLAINED
Two American researchers have fi-
nally solved a longstanding geologi-
cal enigma. For many years people
have wondered how large rocks
seem to mysteriously move across a
desert lakebed in California, in the
USA. The researchers managed to
film the rocks moving. Their expla-
nation has recently been posted to a
special scientific website.
The dried up lakebed is not far
from Death Valley. Known as the
Racetrack Playa or the Racetrack, it
is about 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles)
long and 2.1 kilometres (1.3 miles)
wide. It is very flat. As there is lit-
tle rain in this part of California, no
plants grow on the dry lakebed. The
Racetrack is 1,130 metres (3,700
feet) above sea level. The tempera-
tures are very hot during the day.
Yet, at night, in winter, they can
drop below freezing.
J ust over 100 years ago miners
working near Death Valley noticed
something strange on the Race-
track. Large rocks, or boulders,
on the dried up lakebed must have
moved. The miners did not see
the rocks moving. Yet there were
long trails, or paths, in the mud be-
hind them. Some larger ‘moving’
stones weighed over 227 kilograms
(500 pounds).
The paths in the mud are flat. This
means the stones must slide and not
roll. Most trails go in roughly the
same direction. Some are straight,
but others bend, or meander. Zigzag
courses have also been recorded.
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page 16
The Racetrack is in a very remote
area. Few people go there. From the
nearest town it is a three-hour drive.
Over the last 60 years several geolo-
gists, or scientists who study rocks,
have visited the Racetrack. Each has
tried to work out what makes the
rocks move.
Sliding stone on Racetrack Playa
Many people thought that the
rocks must be blown along by strong
winds. As an experiment, a person
landed a propeller-driven aircraft
on the Racetrack in 1953. He then
tried to use the wash, or wind, from
the plane’s propellers to move the
rocks. Some rolled, but none slid.
The two researchers had an idea.
They drilled holes in some rocks
and put GPS trackers inside them.
The researchers then took the rocks
to the Racetrack and left them there.
They also set up some time-lapse
cameras. These cameras can be set
to take photographs at intervals. For
example, pictures can be taken eve-
ry hour, day or month. The track-
ers were set to start recording their
speed and position when the rocks
started to move.
Last December, the two research-
ers returned to the Racetrack. They
wanted to change the GPS track-
ers’ batteries. They camped for the
night. Heavy rain had fallen the day
before, so part of the lakebed was
covered in a few centimetres of wa-
ter. During the hours of darkness, the
temperature dropped below freez-
ing. The surface of the water froze.
Soon after sunrise, the ice started to
crack and melt.
Large but very thin sheets of ice
were blown by the wind. They float-
ed on the thin layer of water under-
neath them. Some ice sheets were
about 15 metres (50 feet) across. As
they covered a large area, the mov-
ing ice sheets created enough force
to push the rocks. By the afternoon
all the water had dried up. The re-
searchers could then see the mud
paths trailing behind the stones.
Some rocks had moved over 100
metres (330 feet).
The researchers think that the
conditions must be exactly right
for the rocks to move. There must
be rain, and then freezing tempera-
tures followed by warm sunshine.
The lakebed’s mud also has to be
slippery enough. These conditions
probably don’t happen very often.
The researchers were therefore
lucky to have been at the Racetrack
on one of the few days that the rocks
moved. 
NEW EU APPOINTMENTS
The leaders of the 28 member coun-
tries of the European Union (EU)
attended a special meeting on 30th
August. The meeting was held at the
EU’s headquarters in Brussels, the
capital of Belgium.
At the meeting the leaders agreed
on who would be given two impor-
tant positions, or jobs. These posi-
tions are the president of the Euro-
pean Council (also known as the
president of the European Union)
and the high representative (HR).
Most countries have a foreign min-
ister. His or her job is to deal with
other countries. The role of the EU’s
HR is similar. He or she is responsi-
ble for the EU’s foreign policy.
The EU has several leaders.
The most important people are the
president, or head, of the European
Commission, the president of the
European Council, the HR, and the
European Parliament’s president.
The European Commission is
also known as the ‘Commission’ or
the executive of the EU. It proposes
and writes all new EU laws. Rep-
resentatives of member countries’
governments discuss them. Then
the laws are passed to the European
Parliament. The parliament can ei-
ther change or approve them.
The European Parliament has
751 elected members. People living
in EU member countries elect these
MEPs (members of the European
Parliament). The parliament meets
in two buildings. These are in Stras-
bourg, a town in France, close to
the country’s border with Germany,
and in Brussels.
Mr Tusk (l), Mr Rompuy (c), Mrs Mogherini (r)
J osé Manuel Barroso has been the
Commission’s president for the last
ten years. The former prime minis-
ter of Portugal is about to complete
his second five-year term. The lead-
ers of the EU’s 28 member countries
chose Mr Barroso’s successor sev-
eral weeks ago. He is J ean-Claude
J uncker. Mr J uncker, who used to be
prime minister of Luxembourg, will
officially take over from Mr Bar-
roso on 1st November.
The European Council is made
up of 30 people. They are the elect-
ed leaders of the 28 EU member
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page 17
countries, plus the presidents of the
European Council and Commission.
The current Council president is
Herman Van Rompuy. He is a for-
mer prime minister of Belgium. Mr
Van Rompuy will also stand down
on 1st November. Donald Tusk,
Poland’s prime minister, has been
selected to succeed him.
The new HR is Federica Mogh-
erini. She is an Italian politician.
Many people were surprised at her
selection. Mrs Mogherini, who
speaks French and English, is 41
years old. She only became Italy’s
foreign minister seven months ago.
Mrs Mogherini will replace Cathe-
rine Ashton, a UK politician (who is
also a Baroness) on 1st November.
Baroness Ashton has been the EU’s
HR for the last five years.
Currently the EU is supporting
the government of Ukraine in its
dispute with Russia. For several
months there has been fighting be-
tween government forces and sepa-
ratist, or rebel, groups in eastern
Ukraine. The rebel groups want to
form a self-governing area. Russia
supports them. As the EU’s new
HR, Mrs Mogherini will need to
work with Ukraine and Russia to
find a way to stop the fighting. 
BALTIC WAY ANNIVERSARY
The 25th anniversary of the Baltic
Way was on 23rd August. The Bal-
tic Way, which took place in 1989,
surprised people in many parts of
the world. As a protest, people from
Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania stood
in a 600-kilometre (373 mile) line.
They then held hands for 15 minutes
to form a long human chain.
Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania
are three small European countries.
Together they are often called the
Baltic States. Each became an inde-
pendent nation after the end of the
First World War (1914 – 1918).
Before the Second World War
(1939 – 1945) began, the leaders
of Germany and the Russian-led
Soviet Union made a secret pact, or
agreement. Then, Adolf Hitler was
Germany’s leader and J oseph Stalin
was in charge of the Soviet Union.
This agreement is known as the
Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. It was
signed on 23rd August 1939. The
pact was named after the Russian
and German foreign ministers who
signed it.
Riga
Tallinn
Vilnius
POLAND
BELARUS
LITHUANIA
LATVIA
ESTONIA
RUSSIA
Baltic Sea
The secret pact meant that when
German soldiers invaded Poland
from the west, Russian troops would
attack the country from the east. It
was also agreed that Russia would
take over the Baltic States. About
ten months after the invasion of
Poland, the Russian army occupied
Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.
In 1941 Hitler ordered an inva-
sion of Russia. The German army
quickly advanced towards Moscow,
the Russian capital city. During its
advance, the German army moved
into Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.
At first many people welcomed
the German soldiers. They thought
they would now be free. However,
the German leaders soon set up
their own occupation with similar
harsh rules.
By 1944 Germany was losing the
war. Russian forces recaptured the
Baltic States. They defeated the Ger-
man army in many Eastern European
countries. When the war ended these
countries, including Latvia, Esto-
nia and Lithuania, became part of a
much bigger Soviet Union.
In 1989 some people in the Bal-
tic States decided to organise a large
demonstration. They wanted to end
the Soviet occupation of their coun-
tries. Their unusual protest became
known as the Baltic Way. It was held
on the 50th anniversary of the sign-
ing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.
Around two million people took
part. The human chain stretched
from Tallinn, the capital of Estonia,
in the north, to Vilnius, Lithuania’s
capital city, in the south. The line
of people passed through Riga, the
Latvian capital.
The Baltic Way was a peaceful
protest. It showed how three small
countries could overcome what a
much larger, more powerful nation
had imposed on them. By the end
of 1989, the Soviet Union was be-
ginning to break up. Mikhail Gor-
bachev, the Soviet leader at that time,
decided not to stop Eastern European
countries declaring independence.
Within two years of the Baltic Way
each of the Baltic States had become
a self-governing nation. 
Newsademic.com
Editor: Rebecca Watson
Acknowledgements:
News story photographs by gettyimages
For further details about Newsademic
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ISSUE 231
GLOSSARY PUZZLE
INSTRUCTIONS:  Complete the crossword. The answers are
highlighted in orange in the news stories. There are 25
words highlighted and you need 20 of them to complete the
crossword.  Once you have solved the crossword go to
the word search on the next page

1 2
3
4 5 6
7 8 9 10
11 12 13
14
15 16
17
18
19
20
ACROSS
1 Verb To flare up or catch fire again
5 Noun Political or religious belief or set of beliefs
9 Noun Something that is puzzling or cannot be explained
11 Noun A female reproductive organ in which ova or eggs
are produced
14 Adjective Describes something basic or very simple, or
something from the time of very early civilisation
15 Noun An idea or plan of a political party or organisation
16 Noun The science of the structure of living things’
bodies
18 Adjective Likely to cause arguments
19 Noun The painless killing of someone in a permanent
coma or suffering from an incurable and painful illness
(illegal in most countries)
20 Verb Discovered, found or proved the existence of
something
DOWN
2 Verb To intentionally become involved in a difficult
situation to stop it from getting worse
3 Noun Describes actions taken to save money, especially
living more simply and strictly controlling spending
4 Verb Forced to accept
6 Noun Two or more things joining or mixing together, or
happening at the same time
7 Verb Gained wealth and success
8 Noun (Plural) Animals able to live both in water and on land
10 Verb Discovered the meaning of something, especially a
code
12 Noun The state of having been restored to a previous or
better condition
13 Noun An action taken in revenge or payback for something
17 Verb To be brought into contact with something, often
something harmful
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ISSUE 231
GLOSSARY PUZZLE CONTINUED
INSTRUCTIONS:  Find 19 of the 20
crossword answers in the word search.
Words can go vertically, horizontally,
diagonally and back to front.  After
finding the 19 words write down the
20th (or missing) word under the puzzle.
C S E Y V N E A U F D M G D U F Q S
O O S Y V F N Y S L O F J E G Y A N
N V M Q Z A Z C Y B Q P D R T C C A
T A K B T I M P O S E D D E U I R I
R O M O I G N G E X A E H P E L E B
O V M G J N D T O I R K H S X O I I
V Y F O I O A X E E Y C E O P P G H
E O R Z X N I T H R U K E R O X N P
R F U X Z J E P I N V O H P S A I M
S L A U R G I H O O B E U D E I T A
I S W R D C X I D U N T N T D S E K
A D E T E C T E D I L W H E V A R O
L O E D M A K S R X M C O N F N Z W
L S N I V T P T O H B V T K L A L Z
Z L J O Y G C Y F K A T O G K H A A
P S N B N O A P R R Q M F R U T V N
M E M F D C A Y Y T I R E T S U A S
R E T A L I A T I O N I S K K E J O
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I
S
S
U
E

2
3
0

A
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S
W
E
R
S
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L D S Y V F K Y S L O F J Z G S A I
B E E Q Z V Z D O M E S T I C A C B
A V K F G K D C O L E V V T U N A E
T L B L E G D G N X A S H T I I O R
C O G W D C D K O O O E H F U T N N
I S E O B E T X X J I I E B L A X A
D S N Z X V I O R J U T E X U T F T
E I O S Z J J F R D S I A X P I J I
R D C U R G J H I S B L U T A O N O
P S I R P E X M D S Y I K T U N D N
M A D F U A E V A G S C H A M P R O
L O E Q M N R T F X M A R R A Y E W
L S A I S T P A N H B F L K R R L R
Z L J I Y G W Y L U C T O C T R A A
P S O B N C A P R L L M F R Y A V N
M N M F J C A Y Y I E O J Q R U V S
S E I R A T U B I R T L V K S Q J O
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