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21st August 2014

British English edition
Issue Number 230
In this issue
Magpies’ reputation
questioned
Pictures of Pluto
Pope’s South Korean visit
Ebola drug go-ahead
‘Legendary dragon’ found
Left-Handers Day
Protest in Pakistan
Recording the Arctic seabed
Mathematician medals
New Solomon’s temple
Modi’s Independence Day
address
World’s oldest plant?
50,000 stumbling blocks
River Amazon’s biggest fish
Suez Canal upgrade
Snowden to stay in Russia
Clams record El Niño
World’s most resilient
creatures
Turkey’s new president
Glossary Crossword and
Wordsearch Puzzle
A Peshmerga fighter with an Iraqi Kurdistan flag in northern Iraq
The United Nations (UN) began a ten-
day humanitarian operation in northern
Iraq on 20th August. Several days be-
fore, the UN’s refugee agency warned of
the danger of a humanitarian catastrophe
in this part of the country.
The UN believes that 500,000 people
have become refugees in northern Iraq
within the last few months. These people
were forced to leave their homes when
their cities, towns and villages were at-
tacked and occupied by the Islamic State
(IS). This militant Islamic organisation
was formerly called ISIS or ISIL.
On the same day that the UN’s hu-
manitarian operation began, American
drones, or small, unmanned aircraft, at-
tacked IS bases in north west Iraq. Other
attacks on IS fighters were carried out
by American warplanes. These planes
are part of a large American navy force,
which is in the Persian Gulf.
Many of the people the UN wants
to help are Shia Muslims. Thousands
of others are from ethnic minorities.
They include Christians, Yazidis, Turk-
men, and Kurds. The ancestors of the
Turkmen in northern Iraq came from
what’s now modern-day Turkey. The
Yazidis are an ancient people. The re-
ligion they follow is more than 4,000
years old.
Muslims are either Sunnis or Shias.
Most IS followers are Sunnis. The divide
between Sunni and Shia goes back to the
Prophet Muhammad, nearly 1,400 years
ago. All Muslims believe that Muham-
mad was God’s messenger. When Mu-
hammad died there was a disagreement
about who should be the Muslim nation’s
leader. Shias wanted the leadership to
pass to one of Muhammad’s relatives.
Sunnis believed that this person should
be chosen or elected.
IRAQ – GENOCI DE, AI R ATTACKS AND AI D
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About 85% of the world’s Mus-
lims are Sunnis. Most Shia Muslims
live in Iran and southern Iraq. Syria,
Yemen, Lebanon, and Bahrain also
have large Shia communities.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is IS’s lead-
er. He started the organisation in Syria
three years ago. (Then it was known
as ISIS or ISIL.) The IS fighters dress
in black. They now control much of
northern Syria. There, together with
several other groups, it has been
fighting against the Syrian army.
Mr al-Baghdadi wants to over-
throw Syria’s president, Bashar
al-Assad, and his government.
Most Syrians are Sunnis. Yet Mr
al-Assad and many of the people
who run Syria are Alawites. This
small religious group is con-
nected to the Shia branch of the
Islamic faith.
Last January, IS fighters took
control of western Iraq. Then, in
June, they suddenly seized Mo-
sul and the north western part of
the country. Mosul is Iraq’s second
biggest city. IS fighters managed to
capture large amounts of modern
military equipment. The Iraqi sol-
diers left it behind when they quickly
withdrew towards Baghdad, Iraq’s
capital city. Most of this equipment
came from the USA.
Mr al-Baghdadi and his support-
ers believe that everyone should fol-
low strict Islamic laws. The IS treats
Shia Muslims, Christians and peo-
ple of other religions very harshly.
There are reports of IS fighters car-
rying out frequent executions. The
IS leaders say they do not recognise
countries like Iraq and Syria. Nor do
they believe in democracy. The IS,
they claim, will take over the Mid-
dle East and even parts of Europe.
Many Kurds live in north east
Iraq. Today this area of the country
is known as Iraqi Kurdistan. It is
still part of Iraq. Yet the Kurds have
their own prime minister and make
many of their own decisions. The
Kurds also have their own military
force or army. It’s called the Pesh-
merga. Kurdish leaders want Iraqi
Kurdistan to be a separate country.
During the first week of August,
IS fighters attacked several Christian
and Yazidi towns in northern Iraq.
The Peshmerga, which was protect-
ing the towns, withdrew. The IS
fighters, it said, were using captured
American weapons. So their weap-
ons were far more powerful than the
Peshmerga’s much older ones.
Thousands of Christians fled into
Iraqi Kurdistan, or over the border
into Turkey. Many Yazidis climbed
up into the Sinjar Mountains to es-
cape. People who stayed behind
were told that they had to agree to
become Sunni Muslims. Reports
said that many Yazidi men were shot
and killed. Younger women were
taken away. It’s thought that they
will be forced to marry IS fighters.
Helicopters and planes from
Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkey, the
USA, and the UK dropped food and
water for the Yazidis hiding in the
mountains. After the attacks on the
Christians and Yazidis, the leaders
of many countries accused the IS of
genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Barack Obama, the president of
the USA, ordered American war-
planes to attack the IS fighters near
the Sinjar Mountains. Hundreds of
American military advisers have now
been sent to Iraq. These people are
meant to help the Iraqi army and the
Peshmerga. However, they can also
pass information about IS targets to
American warplanes and drones.
After recent American air attacks
the IS killed an American news re-
porter. He was captured in Syria
two years ago. On a video post-
ed to the internet, one IS fighter
said the reporter had been ex-
ecuted to punish the USA.
Most Muslim leaders from
other countries are angry about
the IS. They say what it is do-
ing is against, or contrary to,
all Islamic teachings. Yet hun-
dreds of young Muslim men
from countries such as the UK,
France and Australia have trav-
elled to Syria to join the IS. The
man who talked about the death of
the news reporter sounded like he
came from the UK.
The leaders of countries such as
the USA and the UK don’t want to
get involved in another ground war
in Iraq. (This is called ‘putting boots
on the ground’.) Many countries, in-
cluding the USA, the UK, France,
Germany, the Czech Republic, and
the Netherlands, have now agreed to
give the Peshmerga better weapons.
They believe that, with help from
American warplanes and drones, the
Peshmerga and the Iraqi army will
defeat the IS.
The UN’s humanitarian aid in-
cludes: tents, blankets, cooking
equipment, clothes, food, water, and
medicines. Some is being flown to
Erbil, the largest city in Iraqi Kurd-
istan. The remainder will come from
Turkey and Iran by truck. 
TURKEY
JORDAN
SYRIA
IRAQ
IRAN
SAUDI
ARABIA
Baghdad
Mosul
Erbil
Sinjar
Mountains
I
r
a
q
i
K
u
r
d
i
s
t
a
n
O Area controlled by the Islamic State (IS)
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THIEVING MAGPIES?
In many European countries mag-
pies have a bad reputation. In these
places it is not unusual for people to
call them ‘thieving magpies’. Scien-
tists, who work at a UK university,
recently decided to find out if the
birds were being judged unfairly.
Folklore, myths and fables say
that magpies are attracted to small
shiny objects. These include expen-
sive rings and other valuable jewel-
lery. Many believe that the birds will
try to steal sparkling objects. When
they succeed the objects are used to
decorate their nests.
Magpie (Pierre-Selim)
The European magpie, or com-
mon magpie, lives in Europe, much
of Asia and north west Africa. The
birds are members of the crow fam-
ily. Magpies look as if they have
black and white feathers. However,
their black feathers have a greenish
purple blue shine, or gloss. Adult
magpies are around 46 centimetres
(18 inches) long. Male and female
pairs stay together for life. They will
only look for another partner if one
of them dies.
The scientists did some experi-
ments. They set up two piles of
shiny objects. These were put on the
ground in an area where magpies
are often seen. The objects included
metal screws, small rectangular
pieces of silver paper and ring pulls
from the top of cans. The other pile
had the same objects. However,
these were painted dark blue. This
meant they were non-shiny. The sci-
entists then placed some nuts, which
magpies like to eat, near to both
piles of objects.
The scientists then watched what
the magpies did. They repeated the
experiment, or test, over 60 times. In
nearly all the tests the magpies did
not go near the shiny or blue objects.
The birds only picked up a shiny ob-
ject twice. On both occasions they
immediately put it down again.
As well as not picking up the
shiny objects, the birds seemed to
be scared of them. The magpies
stayed to eat more nuts when the
objects were taken away. The sci-
entists admit that the results of their
experiments may be wrong. The
magpies they watched eating the
nuts were all pairs. Single magpies
might behave differently. However,
the scientists said their tests do sug-
gest that magpies are not attracted to
small shiny objects.
If a person ever sees a magpie
pick up a shiny object they will
probably remember it. They may
also tell others what they have seen.
However, a person will not recall
when magpies pick up ordinary
things, such as bits of wood, to build
nests. The magpie’s reputation as
a thief goes back a long time. The
scientists suspect that it began after
a few people saw the birds pick up
something shiny.
There is a well-known opera
called The Thieving Magpie (‘La
Gazza Ladra’). Written by the Ital-
ian composer Gioachino Rossini
(1792 – 1868), it tells the story of a
servant girl. She is accused of steal-
ing a silver spoon and sentenced to
death. The girl is released after a
magpie is seen taking a silver coin.
The missing spoon is found in the
bird’s nest. 
PLUTO PICTURES
A spacecraft, called New Horizons,
has been travelling towards Pluto
for nine years. Launched by NASA
(National Aeronautics and Space
Administration) in 2004, it is ex-
pected to arrive in 12 months’ time.
NASA has recently released a
video of Pluto and Charon. Charon
is Pluto’s largest and nearest moon.
The video was made from 12 photo-
graphs taken by the New Horizons
spacecraft. These are the closest pic-
tures ever taken of Pluto and one of
its moons.
A few days before the Pluto vid-
eo was released, the ALMA radio
observatory also managed to photo-
graph Pluto and Charon. ALMA is
a powerful telescope. It is high up
in the Andes Mountains, in Chile.
ALMA stands for Atacama Large
Millimeter/submillimeter Array. Its
photographs of Pluto and Charon
were taken to help NASA plan the
final part of New Horizons’ journey.
New Horizons picture of Pluto and Charon
Pluto was first seen or discovered
in 1930. For many years it was listed
as the ninth planet in the Solar Sys-
tem. It was also the smallest and the
one farthest away from the Sun. Plu-
to has five moons or satellites. Cha-
ron was first seen in 1978. The others
were discovered within the last few
years. Pluto’s moons are called Cha-
ron, Nix, Hydra, Kerberos, and Styx.
Pluto was the Ancient Greeks’
god of Hades, or the underworld.
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Hades was where people were be-
lieved to go when they died. The
names of Pluto’s moons follow the
underworld theme. Charon is the
person who took the dead to the
underworld on a boat. This boat
crossed a river called the Styx. Nix
is Charon’s mother. Hydra is a mon-
ster that was supposedly born in the
Styx. Kerberos (which is the Greek
for Cerberus) was a three-headed
hound, or large dog, that guarded
Hades’ entrance.
Picture of Pluto and Charon by ALMA
The Kuiper belt was discovered
in 1992. It is a huge spread-out ring
of icy, and rocky, space objects be-
yond Neptune. Scientists then real-
ised that Pluto was one of the big-
gest objects in the Kuiper belt and
not a planet.
In 2006, the International As-
tronomical Union (IAU) officially
decided Pluto would no longer be a
planet. Instead it would be called a
‘dwarf’ planet. One reason for the
IAU’s decision was that several other
dwarf planets had been recently dis-
covered. These include Eris (which is
slightly bigger than Pluto), Haumea
and Makemake in the Kuiper belt,
and Ceres, in the Asteroid belt. This
is between Mars and Jupiter.
Charon is roughly half the size
of Pluto. At 1,200 kilometres (746
miles) across, it is much bigger
than Pluto’s other moons. Charon
is very close to Pluto. On aver-
age, the Moon is about 385,000
kilometres (239,000 miles) away
from the Earth. The distance be-
tween Charon and Pluto is only
18,000 kilometres (11,200 miles).
Because they are so close, Pluto
and Charon go around a central
point of gravity. In the video the two
space objects look like they are per-
forming an ‘orbital dance’.
In August, New Horizons will
fly past Neptune. This is the farthest
planet from the Sun. After this, the
spacecraft will be put into hiberna-
tion for a few months. Most of its
systems will be shut down to save
power. Then, in December, New
Horizons will be woken up. It will
then prepare for its meeting with
Pluto next year. 
POPE VISITS SOUTH KOREA
Pope Francis is the head, or leader,
of the Roman Catholic Church. On
14th August he began a five-day
visit to South Korea. This was the
first time for 15 years that a leader
of the Catholic Church had visited
an Asian country.
In South Korea there are about
5.5 million followers of the Roman
Catholic faith. This is about 10% of
the population. Everywhere Pope
Francis went big crowds came out
to welcome him. On 16th August
he held a large outdoor religious
service, or Mass. The service took
place in a square in the centre of
Seoul, South Korea’s capital city.
During the Mass, Pope Francis beat-
ified 124 Korean Catholic martyrs.
These people were killed for their
Roman Catholic beliefs between the
1790s and 1880s.
If the Roman Catholic Church
decides to make someone a saint
there are several stages. These take
many years. First the person is
canonised and then beatified. After
this they can be made saints. The 124
Korean martyrs were canonised by a
previous pope in 1984. Hundreds of
thousands of people crowded into
the square to take part in the Mass
and the beatification ceremony.
During his visit, Pope Francis
spoke with young and old people.
He surprised many Koreans when he
decided to travel on a train between
two events. On visits to other coun-
tries the pope is driven around in a
special car. This allows him to stand
and wave to the crowds. These ve-
hicles are known as ‘popemobiles’.
For this visit the pope requested that
a small Kia car be made into a pop-
emobile. A South Korean company
makes these inexpensive vehicles.
North and South Korea used to
be one country. They divided into
two soon after the end of the Second
World War (1939 – 1945). In 1950
the North invaded the South. This
led to the Korean War, which lasted
for three years. The United Nations
(UN), with mainly American troops,
helped the South. China supported the
North. The war ended in a truce. Yet
no peace treaty has ever been signed
between North and South Korea.
Pope Francis and South Korea’s president, Park
Geun-hye (Cheong Wa Dae)
On the last day of his visit Pope
Francis led another Mass in the
Catholic cathedral in Seoul. The
South Korean president, Park Geun-
hye, attended this service. Also tak-
ing part were several defectors from
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North Korea. Pope Francis said that
the two countries should ignore
their differences and live in peace
with each other.
On the way to South Korea,
Pope Francis’s plane flew over
China. This was the first time that
Chinese authorities had given the
pope permission to do this. When
former popes visited parts of Asia,
their planes were not allowed to en-
ter China’s airspace. Traditionally,
when travelling by plane, the pope
sends greetings to leaders of the
countries he flies over. So this time
Pope Francis sent a message to the
president of China, Xi Jinping.
The Vatican is the headquarters
of the Roman Catholic Church.
There has been no contact between
the Vatican and Catholics in China
since 1949. This was when the com-
munists under Mao Zedong took
control of the country.
In China there are two ‘Catholic
Churches’. The government ap-
proves of the main or ‘official’ one.
This church does not recognise the
pope as its leader. It also appoints its
own bishops. This is against Vati-
can rules. So the Vatican does not
support this organisation. There are
other followers of the Roman Cath-
olic faith in China. These Catholics
believe the pope is their leader. Yet
most of these people only go to se-
cret religious services. 
EBOLA DRUG
On 12th August an official from the
World Health Organization (WHO)
made an announcement. She said
that experimental drugs could be
used to treat people who have the
Ebola virus in West Africa.
The WHO is part of the United
Nations (UN). The organisation’s
main job is to advise governments
about health care. It also does re-
search into public health and dis-
eases. Using experimental drugs
is unusual. Normally, many tests
have to be done on new drugs, or
medicines, before they are given
to patients. This is to check if they
are safe to use. These tests, or trials,
usually take many years.
Ebola virus seen through a microscope
The Ebola virus is often described
as one of the ‘world’s most deadly
diseases’. It is highly infectious. This
means the virus can be easily passed
from one person to another. Most
people who get Ebola die from the
disease. Currently there is no cure.
What’s more there are no vaccinations
that can stop Ebola from spreading.
The name of the disease comes
from the River Ebola in the Demo-
cratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
This was where the first outbreak
of the virus was recorded in 1976.
Since then there have been other
outbreaks in African countries such
as Uganda and Sudan.
It is not yet known where Ebola
comes from. Many suspect that fruit
bats carry the virus. Ebola does
not affect the bats, but the virus is
thought to live inside them. Ebola
can be passed to wild animals. In
places like West Africa many people
catch and eat these animals. They
also eat fruit bats.
The latest Ebola outbreak began
about five months ago. It started in
Guinea. Within a few weeks, some
people were found to be suffering
from the virus in Sierra Leone and
Liberia. These countries both border
Guinea. So far, Ebola has killed over
1,350 people in these three countries.
More recently it has spread to Nige-
ria. There, 4 people have died.
The first symptoms of Ebola ap-
pear about three weeks after a person
has been infected. They may get a
sore throat, muscle pain, headaches,
weakness, and fever. Vomiting, diar-
rhoea, kidney and liver problems then
follow. The person may also suffer
from internal and external bleeding.
The disease is spread from person
to person by body fluids that contain
the virus. Health care workers have
to wear special gloves and gowns.
They also use facemasks and gog-
gles. This prevents droplets from
coughs and sneezes getting into the
mouth, nose and eyes.
NIGERIA
LIBERIA
SIERRA
LEONE
GUINEA
ATLANTIC OCEAN
Several companies in the USA
have been working on new drugs
and vaccines to treat Ebola. One
of these untested drugs is called
ZMapp (pronounced Zee-map).
Two American medical workers
who were working in Liberia got
the disease. They were flown back
to the USA on a special plane. Both
were given ZMapp. Reports say that
their health is now improving. An
elderly Spanish priest who had Eb-
ola was also given the drug. Yet he
died two days later. Three doctors in
Liberia who have taken ZMapp are
said to be recovering.
However, the company that
makes ZMapp only had a small
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page 6
supply. There is not enough to treat
everybody. The company says it could
take between four and six months to
make a large quantity. By this time
many more people may have Ebola.
Health experts from other countries
are being sent to West Africa. They
say if people with the virus are kept
in special treatment centres the dis-
ease can be controlled. 
NEW ANKYLOSAUR
Farmers in the province of Liaoning
in north eastern China recently dis-
covered some ancient bones. Palae-
ontologists, or scientists who study
fossils, say the bones are a nearly
complete skeleton of an ‘armoured’
dinosaur. The dinosaur, the scien-
tists say, is a new type of ankylosaur.
Ankylosaur, life-size model
Many types of ankylosaur (pro-
nounced ank-ill-oh-sore) have been
discovered. The first one was found
in 1906, in the USA. Since then an-
kylosaur bones have been dug up on
every continent except Africa. The
first dinosaur fossil ever discovered
in Antarctica was an ankylosaur.
The name ankylosaur comes
from the Greek words that mean
‘fused lizard’ or ‘stiffened lizard’.
The name was given to this group of
dinosaurs because of their armoured
plates. These covered the creatures’
backs. They were made of a bone-
like substance. Yet the plates were
not attached to the dinosaurs’ skel-
etons. The top parts of ankylosaurs
were also covered in spikes. Some
even had a long, bony club-like tail.
Ankylosaurs were herbivores,
or plant eaters. They may have
weighed as much as six tonnes.
These dinosaurs had short legs and
wide bodies. Their bones show that
they were about 6.25 metres (20.5
feet) long. There are several ideas
why ankylosaurs evolved to be cov-
ered in ‘armour’. They may have
fought between themselves. These
fights could have been between
males that wanted to mate with
the same female. Their bony plates
would also protect them from other
bigger meat-eating dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs lived on the Earth be-
tween 252 million and 66 million
years ago. This long period, or era, is
called the Mesozoic. It is also known
as the ‘age of dinosaurs’ or ‘age of
reptiles’. The Mesozoic is divided
into three separate periods. These
are: the Triassic (252 to 204 million
years ago), the Jurassic (204 to 140
million years ago), and the Creta-
ceous (140 to 66 million years ago).
Ankylosaurs lived in the late Ju-
rassic and Cretaceous periods. They
died out at the same time as the other
dinosaurs around 66 million years
ago. Then, a large asteroid (or comet)
hit the Earth close to the east coast of
Mexico. The huge explosion caused
earthquakes, giant waves and forest
fires. Billions of tonnes of ash and
dust were thrown high into the atmos-
phere. This quickly spread around the
world. The climate became very cold,
as the ash blocked out the sunlight.
Most of the plants that ankylosaurs
and other dinosaurs fed on died.
The new ankylosaur found in
China lived around 110 million
years ago. It was 4.5 metres (15
feet) long. Because of its size, the
scientists think that it was not a
fully-grown adult. The dinosaur has
been given the name Chuanqilong
chaoyangensis. In Chinese ‘chuan-
qilong’ means ‘legendary dragon’.
‘Chaoyangensis’ comes from the
name of the place where the bones
were discovered.
Liaoning province in China is
well-known for its dinosaur fos-
sils. They are often very well pre-
served. This is probably because
of the way the dinosaurs died. Mil-
lions of years ago there were many
active volcanoes in this part of the
world. When they erupted hot poi-
sonous gases killed the creatures in
the surrounding area. Their bodies
were then covered in a thick layer of
volcanic ash. Over many millions of
years the ash hardened and became
stone. 
‘LEFTIES’ DAY
The International Left-Handers Club
was set up in 1990. Two years later
it decided that left-handers would
celebrate being ‘lefties’ every year
on 13th August. They call this date
International Left-Handers Day.
Barack Obama, president of the USA
The majority of people in the
world are ‘righties’ or right-handed.
This means that they naturally use
their right hand when writing or
holding a knife, racquet or bat. Sci-
entists do not know why most peo-
ple are right-handers. It’s thought
that between seven and ten percent
of the world’s population are
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page 7
left-handed. A few people are able
to do most things with either hand.
Those who can do this are described
as being ambidextrous.
Hundreds of years ago, many
people believed there was something
wrong with those who used their
left hand. Left-handed
people were supposed to
be influenced by witches
or the Devil. For exam-
ple, in English, when
something is described
as sinister it means it is
evil or threatening. The
word sinister comes from Latin for
‘left-hand side’. In old pictures or
statues, the Devil, or Satan, is nor-
mally shown to be left-handed.
In many languages, including
Chinese, the word for ‘right’ is
linked to good things. Yet the word
for ‘left’ is connected to things that
are wrong. The French word gauche
means awkward. Gauche in French
also means ‘left’. The expression
‘having two left feet’ means some-
one is clumsy or has a lack of skill.
Not long ago some parents would
force their children to use their right
hands if they were left-handed.
In the modern world some peo-
ple think that being left-handed is a
disadvantage. This is because most
items are made for right-handed
people. Many tools, for example, are
designed for right-handers. These
include chain saws and drills. Most
kitchen items, such as scissors and
tin openers, are much easier to use
with the right hand. In the classroom
it is difficult for left-handed students
to write in spiral bound notebooks,
or on paper in ring binders.
However, many clever people
have been left-handers. Isaac New-
ton (1642 – 1727) used his left
hand. He was an English scientist
and mathematician. Newton was the
first person to understand that an
invisible force holds planets in or-
bit around their sun, or star. He also
realised that the same force (called
gravity) keeps us on the ground. A
number of famous artists were left-
handed. Michelangelo, Raphael and
Leonardo da Vinci are
examples.
In recent years many
American presidents
have been left-handers.
They include: Gerald
Ford (1913 – 2006),
Ronald Reagan (1911 –
2004), George H W Bush, and Bill
Clinton. The current president of the
USA, Barack Obama, is left-handed.
In the UK, Queen Elizabeth the
Second uses her left hand. So does
her son, Prince Charles. What’s more
Prince William, Prince Charles’ eld-
est son and the Queen’s grandson, is
also a left-hander.
The International Left-Handers
Club works to make people aware
of the difficulties that left-handed
people have in everyday life. It asks
companies, which produce hand
held items, to make special versions
for left-handers. 
PROTESTS IN PAKISTAN
Two large groups of protesters gath-
ered in Islamabad, the capital of
Pakistan, on 16th August. They had
set out from the city of Lahore the
day before. The protesters are fol-
lowers of two opposition groups.
Both groups want Nawaz Sharif,
Pakistan’s prime minister, to resign,
or stand down.
One of the groups is called the
PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf or
Pakistan Movement for Justice).
Its leader is Imran Khan. Mr Khan
is a former captain of the Pakistani
cricket team. In Pakistan cricket is
the most popular sport.
The other group of protesters
are followers of Mohammad Tahir-
ul-Qadri. He is a former politician,
law professor and Islamic scholar.
Dr Qadri lived in Canada for many
years. He believes in religious mod-
eration and argues against any form
of violence. While living in Canada,
Dr Qadri wrote several books and
gave many lectures.
Nawaz Sharif is the leader of a
political party called the Pakistan
Muslim League (PML-N). Paki-
stan has a parliamentary system of
government. The prime minister is
normally the person who leads the
party with the most number of seats
in parliament. Pakistan’s parliament
is called the National Assembly. The
last election for the National As-
sembly was held in May 2013. The
PML-N easily beat its main rival the
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
PTI protesters in Islamabad
Since it became an independent
country in 1947 Pakistan has had
many difficulties. There have been
a number of military coups (pro-
nounced ‘coos’). A coup is when a
military commander uses the army
to seize control. In Pakistan there
have been long periods during
which military leaders have run the
country. The election in 2013 was
significant. In Pakistan’s history, it
was the first time that one democrat-
ically elected government had taken
over from another.
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In recent years a militant Islamic
group has carried out many attacks
in Pakistan. Known as the Pakistani
Taliban, its leaders want to set up an
Islamic state in the country. Within
this state everybody would have to
follow very strict Islamic laws.
Mr Khan insists that there were
many problems with the election
last year. He says thousands of fake
votes were included and other votes
were deliberately miscounted. Mr
Khan and Dr Qadri claim that Pa-
kistan’s economy is getting worse.
Mr Sharif promised to fix the coun-
try’s electricity problems. Yet power
cuts, or blackouts, are still frequent
in Pakistan. Mr Khan and Dr Qadri
also accuse Mr Sharif of failing to
stop the militant attacks.
Mr Khan has announced that
his elected members will leave the
National Assembly. He says that he
and his supporters will continue to
protest until Mr Sharif and his gov-
ernment resign. This is unlikely to
happen. The government and other
opposition parties, such as the PPP,
accuse the protesters of trying to
wreck Pakistan’s democratic system
of government. 
MAPPING THE ARCTIC SEABED
Two ships have left the port city of St
John’s. This is the largest city on the
island of Newfoundland, in Canada.
One ship left on 8th August. The
other departed the following day.
Both are icebreakers. These vessels
are designed to clear, or break, a path
through thick sea ice.
Government officials said that
the icebreakers would spend six
weeks in the Arctic Ocean. The
ships’ crews will use special equip-
ment to make digital maps of part of
the sea floor. The officials believe
that the maps will prove that Can-
ada owns a large area of the Arctic
Ocean’s seabed.
Other countries also claim to own
this part, or other parts, of the Arc-
tic sea floor. They include Russia,
Denmark, Norway, Canada, and the
USA. Denmark is an Arctic nation,
as Greenland is one of its territories.
Canadian icebreaker (Canadian Coast Guard)
Ownership of the Arctic Ocean’s
seabed is important. This is because
there are probably valuable resources
underneath it. These include oil and
gas fields. Roughly 15% of the oil
and 30% of the gas in the world, yet
to be discovered, is likely to be under
the Arctic seabed. If oil and gas fields
are found, it will be necessary to work
out which countries they belong to.
The United Nations (UN) de-
cides which countries own parts of
the world’s seas and oceans. It has
a set of laws, or rules. These are
called the Convention on the Law of
the Sea. The laws say that countries
own the seabed within 200 nautical
miles (370 kilometres or 230 miles)
of their coastlines. These 200-nauti-
cal mile lines often overlap. Where
this happens the divide is drawn an
equal distance from each country.
A continental shelf is a shallower
area of sea. Thousands of years ago,
during ice ages, these areas were dry
land. There are continental shelves
around most coasts. Many are nar-
row. Yet some extend for hundreds
of kilometres. The UN rules say that
countries can claim ownership of
continental shelves (and any resourc-
es under them) beyond the 200-nau-
tical mile line. Yet, they can only do
this if the shelf stretches out from, or
is connected to, their own coastline.
Under the Arctic Ocean there is
a long ridge, or line of mountains.
Called the Lomonosov Ridge, it
is about 1,800 kilometres (1,120
miles) long. At its widest the under-
water ridge is around 200 kilome-
tres (124 miles) across. It goes from
one side of the Arctic Ocean to the
other. In some places the undersea
mountains rise 3,700 metres (12,100
feet) above the sea floor.
Russia, Canada and Denmark all
claim that the Lomonosov Ridge
is an extension of their continental
shelves. Canada says it is connect-
ed to Ellesmere Island. This is the
most northerly part of the country.
Denmark believes that the underwa-
ter ridge is attached to Greenland’s
northern shore.
ARCTIC
OCEAN
CANADA
Alaska
(USA)
Greenland
(DENMARK)
NORWAY
El l esmere
Isl and
North
Pol e
ATLANTIC OCEAN
PACIFIC OCEAN
RUSSIA
Equal distance line 200-nautical mile line
Lomonosov Ridge
In 2007, Russia sent a submarine
under the ice to try to find out if the
Lomonosov Ridge was an extension
of its continental shelf. The subma-
rine’s crew placed a Russian flag
made of metal on the seabed at the
North Pole. This annoyed Canada,
the USA, and Denmark.
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Russia made some maps of the
seabed around the North Pole. It sent
them to the UN. However, the UN
declared that more detailed maps
would be needed. Until these were
produced, it could not make any de-
cisions about ownership of the Arc-
tic sea floor beyond the 200-nautical
mile limit.
Last December Canada regis-
tered a claim with the UN. This was
for continental shelf extensions in
the northern Atlantic. Now the two
icebreakers will produce up-to-date
digital maps of the Arctic seabed. The
ships will map the Lomonosov Ridge.
They plan to go as far as the North
Pole. Canadian officials believe that
these maps will prove that the ridge is
connected to Canada’s shoreline. 
MEDALS FOR MATHEMATICS
The International Congress of
Mathematicians (ICM) was held in
Seoul, the capital of South Korea,
between 13th and 21st August. This
meeting is held every four years. It
is attended by many of the world’s
leading mathematicians.
Fields Medal
The ICM is organised by the
International Mathematical Union
(IMU). This organisation is based in
Berlin, Germany’s capital city. The
IMU was set up in 1920. It helps
top mathematicians from different
countries to work together, or coop-
erate, easily.
Every four years the IMU awards
Fields Medals to some of the best
mathematicians. Traditionally, the
winners of these medals are an-
nounced on the first day of the ICM
meeting. Many people describe a
Fields Medal as being like a ‘Nobel
Prize for maths’.
Fields Medals were first award-
ed in 1936. They were the idea of
a Canadian mathematician called
John Charles Fields (1863 – 1932).
The awards are given to mathemati-
cians who are under 40 years of age.
Fields wanted the medals to go to
younger people. The medals are a
reward for ‘outstanding mathemati-
cal achievement’. They are also
meant to encourage the winners to
achieve greater success in later life.
Two, three or four people can
be presented with Fields Medals at
each ICM. Each winner receives a
medal and C$15,000 (£8,250). The
medals have a bas-relief of the head
of Archimedes on one side. A bas-
relief (or low relief) is an image that
stands out from a flat surface. How-
ever, the image has a very shallow
depth. Many coins have bas-relief
heads on one side.
Archimedes (287 – 212 BCE) was
an Ancient Greek mathematician, as-
trologer, engineer, and inventor. He is
often called ‘the father of mathemat-
ics’. This is because he was one of
the first people to study the subject.
Archimedes lived in Syracuse, on the
island of Sicily. People from Ancient
Greece founded this city. Today Sic-
ily is part of Italy.
This year’s winners were: Artur
Avila from Brazil, Manjul Bhargava,
a Canadian whose family came from
India, Martin Hairer, from Austria,
and Maryam Mirzakhani, an Ameri-
can who was born in Iran. Each has
worked towards the solution of, or
has solved, complex mathemati-
cal problems. Professor Mirzakhani
is the first woman, as well as the
first Iranian, to be awarded a Fields
Medal. She works at an American
university. Professor Avila is the first
mathematician from Latin America
to win one of these medals.
Professor Maryam Mirzakhani
Several other prizes were also
presented at the ICM. One, called the
Chern Medal, was awarded for the
second time. This prize was set up
as a memorial to Shiing-Shen Chern
(1911 – 2004). He was a Chinese
born American. Chern is thought to
have been one of the greatest math-
ematicians of the 20th century. Like
Fields Medals, the Chern Medal is
awarded every four years. It is given
to a person for lifelong achievements
in mathematics. The 2014 winner
was Phillip Griffiths, a mathemati-
cian from the USA. 
NEW SOLOMON’S TEMPLE
An unusual new building has recently
opened in São Paulo, the largest city
in Brazil. It is meant to be a replica,
or copy, of what the Temple of Solo-
mon might have looked like. This an-
cient temple (also known as the First
Temple) was in Jerusalem. It was de-
stroyed around 2,600 years ago.
The building of the new temple
has been organised and paid for by
Edir Macedo. It took four years to
construct and cost US$300 million
(£181 million). Mr Macedo is a very
wealthy businessman. He is the boss
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and owner of a large broadcasting
or media company. Mr Macedo is
also a preacher. In 1977 he founded
a new Christian organisation called
the Universal Church of the King-
dom of God (UCKG). Today, Mr
Macedo’s church has about two mil-
lion followers.
The Temple of Solomon was a
Jewish temple. King Solomon was
the son of King David. Both kings
are important figures in the Jewish
religion. Historians say that King
Solomon built a huge stone temple
in Jerusalem around 800 BCE. The
building is described in the Hebrew
Bible and the Old Testament of the
Christian Bible. These old texts also
list the temple’s dimensions.
The UCKG’s new temple, in São Paulo, Brazil
The old texts say the Temple of
Solomon was built to house the Ark
of the Covenant. This is believed to
have been a large chest. Inside were
several stone tablets. These were the
tablets on which God is supposed to
have written or carved the Ten Com-
mandments. These are rules by which
followers of the Jewish and Christian
faiths are meant to lead their lives.
The texts say the Ark of the Covenant
has special or mystical powers.
Around 400 years after the
Temple of Solomon was built the
Babylonians attacked Jerusalem.
The temple was set on fire and de-
stroyed. The Ark of the Covenant
disappeared. What happened to it is
still a mystery. About 70 years after
Solomon’s Temple was destroyed
another was built to replace it. This
building is known as the Second
Temple. In 70 CE, after a Jewish
revolt, the Romans destroyed the
Second Temple and most of Jerusa-
lem. Nothing now remains of either
temple building.
Artist’s impression of what the Temple of
Solomon, in Jerusalem, may have looked like
The UCKG is a Protestant
church. Traditionally, people in Bra-
zil follow the Roman Catholic faith.
However, in recent years more and
more people in the country, such as
the followers of the UCKG, have
become Protestants. The UCKG is
what’s known as a Pentecostal or
Evangelical church. Its followers
believe every word of the Christian
Bible. They say that all religious
truths can be found, or are written,
in its pages.
The new temple is the same
height as an 11-storey building. It
is made from a type of white stone.
The stone came from a quarry not
far from Jerusalem. Inside the tem-
ple there is room for 10,000 people.
On the large altar is a replica of the
Ark of the Covenant. This is reflect-
ed in a pool in which people can be
baptised. Unlike the original tem-
ple, the new one has a helipad on its
roof. This is a place where helicop-
ters can land and take off.
There is a large figure on a moun-
taintop overlooking the nearby city
of Rio de Janeiro. Called Christ
the Redeemer, it is one of the most
famous religious statues in the
world. The statue is of Jesus Christ
with his arms outstretched. Chris-
tians believe that Jesus Christ is
the Son of God. Officials from the
UCKG are hopeful that their new
building will soon be as famous as
Rio de Janeiro’s statue. 
INDIA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY
Narendra Modi was elected as In-
dia’s new prime minister three
months ago. On 15th August he gave
his first Independence Day speech,
or address. Independence Day is an
important date in India. It is also a
national holiday.
India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh
were once all part of a large British
colony known as India. The British
ruled this part of the world for over
300 years. After the end of the Sec-
ond World War (1939 – 1945) the
leaders of the UK decided that they
could no longer control India. There
had been an increasing number of
demonstrations in the colony. Those
who took part in these protests
wanted the British to leave.
In 1947 the UK government
agreed that the colony would be split
into two independent countries. India
was the largest, where most people
were Hindu. The other, Pakistan, had
a Muslim majority. At the time Paki-
stan also included an area called East
Pakistan. This part of the country
became a separate nation in 1971. Its
name then changed to Bangladesh.
The date of the ‘transfer of power’
from the UK to both India and Paki-
stan was 15th August 1947.
India has a parliamentary system
of government. The prime minister
runs the country. Usually, he or she
is the leader of the political party
that has the most seats in the elected
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page 11
parliament. The country also has a
president. Yet India’s president is not
elected directly by all the people. In-
stead the members of parliament and
local assemblies vote to decide who
will be the president. India’s presi-
dent is the country’s head of state,
but he or she has few powers.
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, making
his Independence Day address at the Red Fort
On Independence Day many peo-
ple put Indian flags on their houses,
cars, windows, and bicycles. They
also wear clothes or wristbands that
are golden yellow (or saffron), white
and green. These are the colours of
India’s flag.
On 15th August the prime min-
ister hoists, or pulls up, the Indian
flag at the Red Fort. This castle-like
building is in the city of Delhi. Parts
of it are over 400 years old. There is
a 21-gun salute. The firing of gun sa-
lutes is a way of celebrating or mark-
ing special or important events. The
prime minister makes his or her Inde-
pendence Day speech from the top of
one of Red Fort’s ramparts, or walls.
Mr Modi spoke for an hour. Un-
like previous prime ministers he
talked about some of India’s social
problems. Mr Modi said the coun-
try’s sanitation needed to improve.
He asked companies to help to build
more toilets, especially for women
and in schools. In recent years there
have been many attacks on young
women by groups of younger men.
Mr Modi said these attacks shamed
the country. He said parents had to
make sure that their sons behaved
correctly and did not break the law.
Mr Modi also talked about the
need for the country to become a
manufacturing nation with more
exports. This means factories in In-
dia making many things, which are
then sold in other countries. India is
one of a group of countries called
the South Asian Association for
Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
The others are: Afghanistan, Bang-
ladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal,
Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Mr Modi
explained that poverty was a prob-
lem in all SAARC nations. He said
all should work together to help the
poorer people in their countries.
On Independence Day, after the
prime minister’s speech, there is
a large military parade at the Red
Fort. 
WORLD’S OLDEST PLANT
Botanists, or scientists who study
plants, in Australia are worried about
a rare and unusual shrub. They fear
that the plant, which is called King’s
Lomatia, or King’s Holly, is in dan-
ger of becoming extinct.
A shrub is a woody plant that is
smaller than a tree. King’s Holly is
only found in one place in the world.
About 500 plants grow close to each
other on the island of Tasmania. The
shrub was named after an explorer
called Denny King. He discovered
it in 1937.
King’s Holly is what’s known as
a triploid. The shrub has three sets of
chromosomes instead of two. This
means it is sterile, or unable to repro-
duce like other plants. King’s Holly
has pink flowers. Yet the shrub does
not produce any seeds or fruits.
Instead of making seeds that
grow into new plants, King’s Holly
clones itself. Clones are living things
that are identical to a single parent.
Over time the shrub’s branches grow
upward and then fall over. A fallen
branch will grow roots and become
a new plant. By reproducing in this
way, no new genetic material is ever
added to the shrub. So the whole spe-
cies is a clone, or just a single plant.
The only area where King’s Holly
grows is kept secret. A cluster of the
plants covers a 1.2-kilometre (0.75
mile) long section of a small valley,
or gully. There are around 500 plants.
Each is believed to live for about 300
years. Fossilised leaves have been
found close by. These are 43,600
years old. As all shrubs are clones,
King’s Holly is probably the world’s
oldest living plant. Some scientists
think the shrub may have been clon-
ing itself for twice as long as this.
King’s Holly grown from a cutting
Over the last 43,600 years the
climate has changed in this part of
Australia. Thousands of years ago
there was an ice age. So King’s
Holly must have survived in a much
colder climate. The scientists can-
not explain how the plant managed
to do this.
Wildfires, or bushfires, are not
uncommon in Australia. If a wild-
fire spreads to where King’s Holly
grows, the ancient plant could be
lost. In recent years a fungus has
started to grow on the roots of some
King’s Holly plants. The fungus
makes the roots rot.
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Over the last 20 years scientists
have been trying to take cuttings
from some King’s Holly plants.
Gardeners often clone plants. They
do this by taking cuttings. These are
small woody pieces of the shrub.
The cuttings are then put in fresh
soil. If a cutting grows, it will be
identical to its ‘parent’. However,
getting King’s Holly cuttings to
grow has been difficult. So far only
a few have survived. 
STUMBLING BLOCKS
Gunter Demig is an artist from
Germany. He is best known for his
‘stolpersteine’ (stumbling blocks).
To stumble means to almost fall
over or trip. Mr Demig made his
first stumbling block in 1992. He
then fixed it into a pavement in
the German city of Cologne. This
year Mr Demig expects to make his
50,000th ‘stolperstein’.
Mr Demig’s stumbling blocks are
small memorials. They commemo-
rate individual people. These people
were taken from their homes, or the
places where they worked, and sent
to concentration camps. This hap-
pened in Germany, and many other
European countries, just before and
during the Second World War (1939
– 1945). Nowadays, this is known
as the Holocaust.
During the Holocaust the Nazis
murdered millions of people. Those
killed included at least six million
Jews, two million Sinti and Roma
(also known as gypsies) and thou-
sands of people who had disabilities.
Before the Second World War
began, Nazi officials set up prison
camps in Germany. They became
known as concentration camps. Af-
ter the war started more camps were
built in other countries. Some were
specially designed. This was so tens
of thousands of people could be
murdered inside them.
Mr Demig came up with the idea
for the small memorials when work-
ing on another project. In Cologne, he
was following the path, or route, that
gypsies took when they were forced
onto trains. The trains then took them
to the camps. A local woman asked
what he was doing. After he ex-
plained, the woman said that no gyp-
sies lived in this part of the city. He
realised that she knew nothing about
what had happened 75 years ago in
the place where she lived.
Stolpersteine in Berlin, Germany’s capital city
Mr Demig began to collect names
and addresses of people who died
in the Holocaust. He makes small
cubes of concrete. A brass plaque is
then fixed to one side. On the brass
is engraved the words ‘Hier wohnte’
(here lived) and the name of the per-
son. Also engraved is the year they
were born, the day they were taken
away, to where they were sent and,
if known, the date of their death. The
block is then fixed into the pavement
in front of the place where they used
to live. Many of the stumbling stones
end with the word Auschwitz. More
people died in the Auschwitz con-
centration camp than any other.
Often, several members of a
family were taken away at the same
time. In these instances Mr Demig
makes a stumbling block for each
family member. Mr Demig says the
memorials are meant to make peo-
ple pause. They are a reminder that a
person who lived at that address was
taken away and murdered.
There are now stumbling blocks in
973 cities, towns and villages in Ger-
many. They have also been placed in
many other European countries. Mr
Demig does much of the work him-
self. Yet, in recent years volunteers
have assisted him. People donate
money to help Mr Demig pay for the
memorials. Many people, who lost
relatives in the Holocaust, now ask
Mr Demig to make stumbling blocks
for their ancestors. 
GIANT AMAZON FISH STUDY
Scientists from the USA have been
studying one of the world’s biggest
freshwater fish. Called arapaima, the
fish are found in Brazil. They live
in parts of the River Amazon and
some of its tributaries. The scientists
wanted to find out if arapaima are in
danger of becoming extinct.
Arapaima
Over 100 years ago there were
many arapaima in Brazil. The fish
have no natural predators. In rivers
they are at the top of the food chain.
They feed on smaller fish, but no
other fish or animals prey on them.
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This map shows countries to which news stories refer in this issue. Visit www.newsademic.com for more detailed world maps.
USA
UK
UKRAINE
TURKEY
SOUTH
KOREA
SIERRA LEONE
RUSSIA
PERU
PAKISTAN
NIGERIA
LIBERIA
IRAQ
INDIA
Hong Kong
GUINEA
Greenland
GERMANY
EGYPT
DENMARK
CHINA
CANADA
BRAZIL
AUSTRALIA
Newfoundland
However, local people living close
to the rivers catch and eat arapaima.
Adult arapaima can grow to
lengths of over 2.5 metres (8.2 feet).
One of the heaviest ever caught
weighed 200 kilograms (1,760
pounds). These large fish are a grey
greenish colour with red markings
or flecks near their tails.
Arapaima build nests in the mud
at the bottom of the river. They do
this when water levels are low. The
female lays its eggs in the nest.
These hatch three to five days later.
The males look after their young
for about three months. After the
rainy, or wet, season begins the riv-
ers flood. Adults and their young,
or juveniles, then move to flooded
areas of forest where there is more
food. The juveniles feed on insects
and other fish larvae. When water
levels go down again, the adults and
younger fish separate.
The arapaima is one of the few
fish that breathes air. Most fish get
dissolved oxygen from the water.
However, there is not much oxygen
in the waters of the River Amazon.
In the dry season, when rivers are
low, there is even less. Being able
to breathe air gives the arapaima an
advantage. Because of the low lev-
els of oxygen, the fish it feeds on
become inactive, or sluggish. This
means they are easier to catch.
Arapaima come to the surface
every five to 15 minutes to take a
breath of air. This means they can
easily be seen, or spotted, by fisher-
men. Using small homemade boats,
local men spear, or harpoon, the fish
when they come to the surface. So
catching arapaima is not difficult.
Large numbers of arapaima used
to be commercially fished in Brazil.
This means the fish were caught
and then taken to other parts of the
country to be sold. However, some
time ago, the Brazilian government
banned commercial arapaima fish-
ing. Yet local people are still al-
lowed to catch and eat the fish.
The scientists spoke with fisher-
men in 81 villages, or communities.
In 19% of the villages there are no
arapaima in their part of the river. In
57% of villages there are only a few.
In places where there are not many
arapaima, fishermen use gill nets.
They do this to catch smaller fish.
Unfortunately, these nets also trap
juvenile arapaima. This makes the
problem worse.
The scientists discovered that a
few communities have introduced
fishing rules. One rule bans the use of
the nets. Another says arapaima only
of a certain size can be caught. Where
fishermen obey these rules there are
100 times more arapaima in the river.
The scientists say it is important for
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page 14
all the communities to have similar
rules. If they don’t, these large fish
may no longer exist in many parts of
the River Amazon. 
WIDENING THE SUEZ CANAL
Officials in Egypt have announced
that the Suez Canal is to be wid-
ened. This famous canal connects
the Mediterranean and Red Seas.
By using the Suez Canal, ships trav-
elling between Europe and Asia do
not have to sail around Africa.
A French company built the Suez
Canal. Work began in 1859. The wa-
terway took ten years to complete. It
was dug by tens of thousands of lo-
cal workers. A saltwater lake makes
up part of the canal. Called the Great
Bitter Lake, it was formed when
a large dry valley was connected
to the waterway.
Unlike the Panama Canal, which
connects the Atlantic and Pacific
Oceans, the Suez Canal has no locks.
Seawater can flow through it. The
water in the canal south of the Great
Bitter Lake rises and falls with the
Red Sea tides. To the north of the
lake, water usually flows northwards
in winter and south in summer.
The Suez Canal is 193 kilometres
(120 miles) long and just over 200
metres (655 feet) across. Much of
the canal is only wide enough for
one ship. There are several passing
places. The biggest is the Great Bit-
ter Lake. The city of Port Said is at
the Mediterranean entrance to the
waterway. Suez is at the Red Sea
end. It is from this city that the canal
gets its name.
Ships take between 11 and 16
hours to pass through the Suez Ca-
nal. About 18,000 vessels use the
waterway every year. The ships’
owners are charged a toll, or fee.
This is paid to the company that runs
the canal. Egypt’s government con-
trols this company. Nowadays, the
annual total of all the tolls is roughly
US$5 billion (£3 billion). The Suez
Canal is therefore an important part
of Egypt’s economy.
A new channel is to be dug. It will
be parallel to a part of the canal. Oth-
er sections of the waterway are to be
widened. When the work is finished,
ships will be able to travel in both di-
rections along much of the canal at
the same time. The new channel will
be 35 kilometres (22 miles) long.
Satellite picture of the Suez Canal
Today, ships often have to wait
for around 11 hours at either end of
the canal before they can enter it. Of-
ficials say the new channel and wid-
ening work will reduce this waiting
time to three hours. Currently, about
49 ships use the canal every day. Af-
ter the new work is completed this
number should double.
In recent years Egypt has had
many difficulties. There have been
large street protests and disagree-
ment between different political and
religious groups. Traditionally, Egypt
has made a lot of money from tour-
ists, or foreign visitors. However, be-
cause of the troubles, fewer tourists
now travel to the country. This has
badly affected Egypt’s economy.
The Egyptian government now
wants to find other ways for the coun-
try to earn money. As part of the new
project, new port and transport fa-
cilities are to be built at the entrances
to the waterway. Officials hope that
once the work is finished, large in-
ternational shipping companies will
set up operations near the canal. The
construction work will cost about
US$4 billion (£2.4 billion). When
completed, the money Egypt makes
from the canal is expected to double
after a few years. 
SNOWDEN TO STAY IN RUSSIA
For the last 12 months Edward
Snowden has been living in Rus-
sia. On 7th August a Russian law-
yer announced that he could stay in
the country for another three years.
Mr Snowden is an American. In the
USA he is accused of stealing secret
documents and passing classified
information to several newspapers.
In America there is an organisa-
tion called the National Security
Agency (NSA). One of its main jobs
is to collect intelligence. This means
it tries to gather political and military
information or secrets about other
nations. A company that helped the
NSA employed Mr Snowden. At that
time he lived and worked in Hawaii.
In May 2013 Mr Snowden left his
house. Without telling his girlfriend,
or the company he worked for, Mr
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page 15
Snowden flew to Hong Kong. There
he stayed in a hotel. While he was in
the Chinese city, Mr Snowden spoke
to two news reporters. They worked
for well-known newspapers in the
USA and the UK. Mr Snowden told
the reporters what the NSA was do-
ing. He also gave them some secret
documents. This information was
then published in the newspapers.
Edward Snowden
Mr Snowden said that the NSA
was spying on millions of people. It
did this by secretly listening to, and
recording, telephone calls and inter-
net use. This, Mr Snowden explained,
was being done in the USA, and many
other countries. He also claimed the
NSA was listening to phones that be-
longed to important people such as
prime ministers and presidents.
Secretly listening to, and record-
ing, people’s private phone calls can
be called surveillance, spying, mon-
itoring, bugging, eavesdropping, or
wiretapping. Intelligence organisa-
tions like the NSA do this in several
ways. One is to work with telephone
and internet companies. Another is
to ‘tap into’ satellites and undersea
communication cables.
Mr Snowden explained that he
was unhappy about what the NSA
was doing. He said that it is wrong for
the American government to spy on
its people. People who take the risk of
making secret documents or informa-
tion public are often called ‘leakers’ or
‘whistleblowers’. Mr Snowden gave
the newspaper reporters permission
to say that he was the whistleblower.
He told them he expected to be ar-
rested for talking to them.
The American government asked
officials in Hong Kong to arrest
Mr Snowden and send him back
to the USA. Yet, before anything
happened, he managed to fly from
Hong Kong to Moscow, the capital
of Russia. He then stayed at the in-
ternational airport in Moscow for
six weeks. During this time he asked
at least 20 countries for asylum. All
said no. People usually ask for asy-
lum when they fear that they will be
badly treated in their own countries.
Eventually, Vladimir Putin, the
Russian president, announced that
Mr Snowden could stay in Rus-
sia for 12 months. This annoyed
the USA. Recently, the USA and
Russia have disagreed about what
is happening in the eastern part of
Ukraine. There, armed groups are
fighting against Ukrainian govern-
ment forces. The USA and several
other countries claim that Russia is
helping the armed groups. Russian
officials insist this is not true. Some
people suspect that this disagree-
ment explains why Russia has said
that Mr Snowden can stay.
If Mr Snowden returned to the
USA he would probably be sent
to prison. However, many Ameri-
cans support him. They believe Mr
Snowden was right to leak the secret
information about the NSA. 
CLAMS AND THE ENSO
A team of researchers from France,
Peru and the USA have been dig-
ging into some middens. The mid-
dens are in Peru. After collecting old
clamshells found inside them, the
researchers have produced a histori-
cal record of the El Niño Southern
Oscillation (ENSO). Their record
goes back 10,000 years.
Middens are ancient rubbish
dumps. They contain domestic
waste, or things used for day-to-day
human life. Examples are: animal
bones, broken pieces of pots, burnt
wood, and seashells.
Scientists who study the world’s
climate and weather patterns are inter-
ested in the ENSO. This is a dramatic
change of seawater temperatures in
the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean.
These ‘hot and cold’ temperature dif-
ferences can affect weather conditions
in many parts of the world.
The seawater temperature chang-
es are often called an El Niño or a
La Niña. During an El Niño, the
Pacific Ocean near the Equator
and northern South America is far
warmer than usual. In a La Niña the
seawater is much cooler.
Colours representing the different sea surface
temperatures during an El Niño and a La Niña
In Spanish El Niño means ‘the
little boy’. These words are also
used to describe the Baby Jesus.
Many years ago, people who lived
near the north west coast of South
America noticed differences as the
ocean became warmer. When this
happened there were fewer fish in
the sea and much more rain on land.
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page 16
They called it El Niño. This was be-
cause the sea seemed to begin to get
warmer around December or Christ-
mas time. This is when Christians
believe Jesus was born.
El Niños last for between nine
months and two years. They do not
happen at regular intervals. Increases
in water temperature in this part of
the Pacific can be anything from
two to seven years apart. On average
El Niños occur every five years. La
Niña conditions happen between El
Niños. La Niña means ‘the little girl’.
El Niños and La Niñas affect the
weather in certain parts of the world
in different ways. For instance, an El
Niño causes dry weather in Australia,
the north of New Zealand, Indonesia,
the Philippines, India, and East Afri-
ca. Yet during a La Niña these places
have much wetter weather.
The middens the researchers dug
into are close to the Pacific coast.
People have lived in this part of
South America for thousands of
years. They created big rubbish
dumps. Today these old dumps look
like large mounds. The researchers
searched inside them for burnt bits
of wood and clamshells.
Clams
The wood can be dated. It was
therefore possible to date clamshells
found close to pieces of burnt wood.
The deeper into the mounds the re-
searchers dug, the older the wood and
clamshells. Clamshells have growth
lines. These are similar to tree rings.
By measuring the shells’ growth
lines, the researchers worked out if
the water was warm or cold when
the clam was in the sea. So, from the
shells, they created a historical record
of past El Niños and La Niñas.
Some people have suggested that
the ENSO has been getting stronger
over the past 10,000 years. How-
ever, the clamshells show that this is
not true. They also show that, even
over a very long time, the ENSO
does not have a predictable pattern,
or cycle. What causes El Niños and
La Niñas is still unknown. 
WORLD’S TOUGHEST CREATURES
Water bears are one of the most re-
silient, or toughest, species on the
Earth. These creatures are micro-
scopic, or very tiny. There are at least
1,000 different species of water bear.
Two researchers from Italy have just
found a new one. It lives in Antarcti-
ca. These water bears are transparent,
so you can see through them.
Water bears are also known as
tardigrades. This name comes from
two Latin words that mean ‘slow
stepper’. Water bears can be found
almost everywhere in the world.
This includes the highest mountains
and the deepest oceans. When fully
grown the tiny creatures are between
0.05 and 1.2 millimetres (0.002 and
0.05 inches) long. They lay eggs,
which hatch after about 14 days.
Tardigrades have eight legs. Their
bodies look like they are divided into
segments. Each segment has one pair
of legs. On the end of each leg are
between four and eight claws. Tar-
digrades feed on fluids. These can
come from plant and animal cells or
bacteria. Other small organisms, such
as amoebas and nematodes, feed, or
prey, on water bears.
Most species of tardigrades live
in fresh water or places where it is
wet. The easiest place to find them
is in the film, or thin layer, of water
on algae, lichens and moss. For this
reason water bears are sometimes
called ‘moss piglets’. They can also
be found in moisture in the soil and
old wet leaves. Without water, tar-
digrades are not able to do anything
such as moving or eating.
Even though they need water,
tardigrades can be found in some of
the driest places on the Earth. Those
that live on land are able to survive
long periods of drought. They do
this by drying or shrivelling up. The
tardigrades lose nearly all the water
in their bodies. Their metabolism
slows down and very nearly stops.
Metabolism is the different chemi-
cal processes in living things that
control growth, energy production,
and getting rid of waste.
Water bear as seen through a microscope
As soon as dried up water bears get
wet, they ‘come back to life again’.
The tiny creatures can survive in this
dried up, or deathlike, state for a long
time. Experiments have shown that
water bears can come back to life
after ten years. Some scientists sus-
pect that they could do this after one
hundred years.
However, where there is a lot of
moisture (so they never dry up) wa-
ter bears only live for a few months.
Water bears can survive in other
extreme conditions. These include:
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page 17
temperatures as low as -200°C
(-328°F) and as high as 151°C
(304°F); where there is no oxygen;
under pressures that are five times
greater than in the deepest oceans;
high levels of radiation (that would
kill humans); and in a vacuum, or
where there is no air.
One group of scientists did an
experiment with water bears. They
attached some to the outside of a
space rocket. The rocket orbited, or
went around, the Earth for ten days.
After it returned, the scientists col-
lected the water bears. They discov-
ered that nearly 70% were still alive.
The new tardigrades in Antarc-
tica were found living on some
moss. This was growing on stones
near to the shoreline. The females of
this species are twice as big as the
males. These water bears are see-
through. Yet, after they feed on the
moss’ fluids they turn green. 
TURKEY’S NEW PRESIDENT
An election for the president of
Turkey took place on 10th August.
There were three candidates. The
official result was announced a few
days later. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
won with nearly 52% of the votes.
His main rival got 38.5%.
Currently Mr Erdoğan is Tur-
key’s prime minister. The country
has a parliamentary system of gov-
ernment. Traditionally, the prime
minister is the leader of the politi-
cal party with the most members of
parliament. The president is the
country’s head of state. He acts as a
figurehead but has few powers.
This presidential election was dif-
ferent from previous ones. In the past
members of parliament elected the
president. However, several years ago
the law was changed. Now everyone
takes part in a presidential election.
Mr Erdoğan is therefore Turkey’s
first directly elected head of state.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881
– 1938) set up the modern-day Re-
public of Turkey in the 1920s. He
was the country’s first president
and is a national hero. Even though
most people in Turkey are Muslims,
Atatürk insisted that the country
should be a secular state. This means
politics and religion are kept sepa-
rate. In a secular state the govern-
ment should not support, or oppose,
any type of religion. All citizens
must be treated equally whatever
their religious beliefs.
Turkey’s new president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
In later years Turkey had many
political problems. It was not unu-
sual for powerful army commanders
to seize control of the government.
These military leaders also believed
that Turkey should be a secular state.
In his younger years Mr Erdoğan
trained to be an Islamic preacher. In
1994 he was elected as the mayor of
Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey.
In 2001, Mr Erdoğan set up a new
political group called the Justice
and Development Party (AKP). The
AKP got more seats than any of the
other parties in the 2003 election.
Mr Erdoğan then became the coun-
try’s prime minister.
Elections for Turkey’s parliament
are held every four years. After its
success in 2003, the AKP also won
the 2007 and 2011 elections. Each
time the number of people who
voted for the party increased. About
50% of those who took part voted
for the AKP at the last election.
Over the last ten years Mr
Erdoğan has been a very popular
and successful leader. During this
time Turkey’s economy has greatly
improved. Mr Erdoğan has also re-
duced the power of the army.
However, Mr Erdoğan has many
critics. These people accuse him of
trying to introduce religious laws
in a secular country. Many who do
not agree with him, say Mr Erdoğan
has become too autocratic. A few
months ago he and several other
AKP members were accused of cor-
ruption, or dishonesty. Mr Erdoğan
insists that this is untrue.
Turkey’s constitution, or rules by
which the country is governed, say that
the prime minister cannot be elected
for more than three four-year terms.
So, at the next election, Mr Erdoğan
would have had to stand down. He
wants Turkey’s system of government
to change. If this happens the presi-
dent will have more power than the
prime minister. This is similar to how
France and Russia are governed.
Mr Erdoğan will officially be-
come Turkey’s president on 28th
August. Before this he and senior
members of the AKP will choose
the person who will be the country’s
new prime minister. 
Newsademic.com
Editor: Rebecca Watson
Acknowledgements:
News story photographs by gettyimages
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ISSUE 230
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
ACROSS
1 Adjective Describes two lines that never touch or cross
as they are separated by an equal distance at every
point
4 Noun (Plural) People who do things without being asked
or paid
6 Noun Buildings, equipment and services provided for a
particular purpose
8 Noun A disaster, often one that happens suddenly and
causes a lot of suffering or damage
12 Adjective Describes secret information that can only be
seen by certain people
13 Noun A permanent, inscribed notice in a public place,
usually to commemorate or identify something
15 Adjective Describes something that is strong and able to
recover from damage quickly
17 Noun An inactive state
18 Noun (Plural) People who suffer death or hardship for
their beliefs
19 Noun (Plural) The measurements of something in a
particular direction, for example its height, length, or width
DOWN
1 Adjective Something that can be foreseen, or that
happens in exactly the way it is expected to happen
2 Verb Become absorbed in a liquid solution
3 Adjective Describes something to do with people’s homes
or family life
5 Noun The murder of a large number of people from a
particular ethnic group or country
7 Noun The opinion that people have about something or
someone
9 Noun (Plural) Rivers or streams flowing into larger rivers
or lakes
10 Noun The systems for taking waste products and dirty
water away from buildings to protect people’s health
11 Noun (Plural) People who leave their country and go to
live in an opposing one
14 Noun A large hole in the ground from which stone or sand
is dug up for use in building
16 Noun A number of pieces of equipment of the same
type, connected together to do a particular job, especially
telescopes or solar panels
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ISSUE 230
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.
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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
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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
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U B L K E M G U L E K X U A Q W K G
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I N X O U Z T P I D E W X H T F N T
S M P C Z I U R E D A D F S A J V I
M B V A R R T D A E O Y W S C Z E O
K P R O K O N I C T R O C A O I P N
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I B J S Z Y Z G G M L Z N L U L E U
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X S Y T I U T S Z D V X T X U T I U
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S U O V Z E D N E R R J W P W N Z J
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