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72 segments Advanced Female
During a long day spent roaming the forest in search of edible grains and herbs, the weary divine farmer Shennong accidentally poisoned himself 72 times.
But before the poisons could end his life, a leaf drifted into his mouth. He chewed on it and it revived him, and that is how we discovered tea. Or so an ancient legend goes at least.
Tea doesn't actually cure poisonings, but the story of Shennong, the mythical Chinese inventor of agriculture, highlights tea's importance to ancient China.
Archaeological evidence suggests tea was first cultivated there as early as 6,000 years ago, or 1,500 years before the pharaohs built the Great Pyramids of Giza.
That original Chinese tea plant is the same type that's grown around the world today, yet it was originally consumed very differently. It was eaten as a vegetable or cooked with grain porridge.
Tea only shifted from food to drink 1,500 years ago when people realized that a combination of heat and moisture could create a complex and varied taste out of the leafy green. After hundreds of years of variations to the preparation method, the standard became to heat tea, pack it into portable cakes, grind it into powder, mix with hot water, and create a beverage called muo cha, or matcha. Matcha became so popular that a distinct Chinese tea culture emerged.
Tea was the subject of books and poetry, the favorite drink of emperors, and a medium for artists. They would draw extravagant pictures in the foam of the tea, very much like the espresso art you might see in coffee shops today.
In the 9th century during the Tang Dynasty, a Japanese monk brought the first tea plant to Japan. The Japanese eventually developed their own unique rituals around tea, leading to the creation of the Japanese tea ceremony. And in the 14th century during the Ming Dynasty, the Chinese emperor shifted the standard from tea pressed into cakes to loose leaf tea.
At that point, China still held a virtual monopoly on the world's tea trees, making tea one of three essential Chinese export goods, along with porcelain and silk. This gave China a great deal of power and economic influence as tea drinking spread around the world. That spread began in earnest around the early 1600s when Dutch traders brought tea to Europe in large quantities.
Many credit Queen Catherine of Braganza, a Portuguese noble woman, for making tea popular with the English aristocracy when she married King Charles II in 1661. At the time, Great Britain was in the midst of expanding its colonial influence and becoming the new dominant world power. And as Great Britain grew, interest in tea spread around the world. By 1700, tea in Europe sold for ten times the price of coffee and the plant was still only grown in China.
The tea trade was so lucrative that the world's fastest sailboat, the clipper ship, was born out of intense competition between Western trading companies.
All were racing to bring their tea back to Europe first to maximize their profits.
At first, Britain paid for all this Chinese tea with silver. When that proved too expensive, they suggested trading tea for another substance, opium.
This triggered a public health problem within China as people became addicted to the drug. Then in 1839, a Chinese official ordered his men to destroy massive British shipments of opium as a statement against Britain's influence over China. This act triggered the First Opium War between the two nations. Fighting raged up and down the Chinese coast until 1842 when the defeated Qing Dynasty ceded the port of Hong Kong to the British and resumed trading on unfavorable terms. The war weakened China's global standing for over a century.
The British East India company also wanted to be able to grow tea themselves and further control the market. So they commissioned botanist Robert Fortune to steal tea from China in a covert operation. He disguised himself and took a perilous journey through China's mountainous tea regions, eventually smuggling tea trees and experienced tea workers into Darjeeling, India. From there, the plant spread further still, helping drive tea's rapid growth as an everyday commodity.
Today, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world after water, and from sugary Turkish Rize tea, to salty Tibetan butter tea, there are almost as many ways of preparing the beverage as there are cultures on the globe.
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  |  9166 learners#Culture #Stories

25 segments Advanced Female
Hello everyone. I'm the counselling administrator here at St. Ive’s College and I’ve been asked to come and talk to you about our counselling team and the services that we offer. We have three professional counsellors here at St. Ives: Louise Bagshaw, Tony Denby and Naomi Flynn. They each hold daily one-on-one sessions with students, but which counsellor you see will depend on a number of factors.
If you’ve never used a counsellor before, then you should make an appointment with Naomi Flynn. Naomi specialises in seeing new students and offers a preliminary session where she will talk to you about what you can expect from counselling, followed by some simple questions about what you would like to discuss. This can be really helpful for students who are feeling a bit worried about the counselling process. Naomi is also the best option for students who can only see a counsellor outside office hours. She is not in on Mondays, but starts early on Wednesday mornings and works late on Thursday evenings, so you can see her before your first class or after your last class on those days. Louise staffs our drop-in centre throughout the day. If you need to see someone without a prior appointment then she is the one to visit. Please note that if you use this service then Louise will either see you herself, or place you with the next available counsellor. If you want to be sure to see the same counsellor on each visit, then we strongly recommend you make an appointment ahead of time. You can do this at reception during office hours or by using our online booking form.
Tony is our newest addition to the counselling team. He is our only male counsellor and he has an extensive background in stress management and relaxation techniques. We encourage anyone who is trying to deal with anxiety to see him. Tony will introduce you to a full range of techniques to help you cope with this problem such as body awareness, time management and positive reinforcement.
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  |  9886 learners#General #Speeches

So, I was walking along the street, on my way to work, as usual, but for some reason I was in a hurry. I wasn't really sure why I was in a hurry. And then I realised that I was holding a banana in my hand. I didn't know why I was holding a banana in my hand, but I knew that the banana was really important for some reason. The banana had something to do with the reason that I was late, and in a hurry. It was a really important banana, only I didn't know why the banana was so important. Then I met my Aunty Ethel on the street corner. It was strange, because I hadn't seen Aunty Ethel for about twenty years.

Hello, I said to her. I haven't seen you for about twenty years! I was really surprised to see her, but she didn't seem surprised to see me. Be careful with that banana, she said. And I laughed, because I knew that it was a really important banana, and yes, I had to be careful with it. Aunty Ethel decided to walk to work with me, which was a problem because I was late and in a hurry, and she walked really, really slowly. Then, when we went round the corner, there was an elephant blocking the street. It depends where you live, I guess, but in Manchester it's pretty strange to see an elephant blocking the street. The strange thing was, though, that I wasn't really that surprised. Oh no, I was thinking, another elephant blocking the street, what a pain. Especially this morning when I'm late and in a hurry, and with Aunty Ethel, and this really important banana. Then I started to get really worried, and then I woke up.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Thank goodness for that I thought. How strange dreams are, I wonder why I was dreaming about elephants and bananas and Aunty Ethel. The radio was already on. The radio comes on automatically at 7 o'clock, to wake me up. I looked at the clock. It was already ten past seven. I had to get up quickly. I went into the shower, and I could hear the news on the radio. I couldn't hear it very well, but there was a story on the news about an elephant who had escaped from a local circus. The elephant was causing a lot of trouble walking around the town. I thought this was an incredible coincidence, but then I realised that I had probably heard the news story on the radio when I was half-asleep. That was why I was dreaming about an elephant. I quickly got dressed and went into the kitchen to get some coffee before I went to work. I work for a film company. We get ideas for films and film scripts, then we try to produce the films. I thought a film about an elephant in Manchester would be great.

There was a note on the kitchen table. It was from my wife. Don't forget to buy bananas on your way home from work today, it said. It was a good job she had written the note, because I had completely forgotten about the fact that she has to eat a lot of bananas because of the crazy diet she's on at the moment. I tried to remember to buy bananas on my way home from work, and rushed out of the house. As I was walking down the road my mobile rang. It was my mum. Hello mum, I said. What are you ringing at this time for? I've got some sad news, I'm afraid, love she said. Do you remember your Aunty Ethel? Just about I said, But I haven't seen Aunty Ethel for about twenty years.

Yes, well she was very old, and I'm afraid she died last night. She'd been very ill, I told you a couple of weeks ago. That's sad I said.

So there I was, walking down the street, late for work, thinking about Aunty Ethel and bananas and elephants, and of course I realised that it was all exactly the same as my dream. And as I started to think more about this, I realised I was walking more and more slowly, and I looked down and saw that the street was turning into hot, wet, sticky toffee, and it was sticking to my shoes, and the quicker I tried to walk, the slower I went I looked at my watch and saw that my watch was going backwards. That's OK, I was thinking. If my watch is going backwards, then it means that it's early, and not late, so I'm not late for work at all and then I woke up. Again.

Now this was strange. This was very, very strange. I got up and pinched myself to make sure I was really awake this time. Ouch, the pinch hurt. This meant I really was awake, and not dreaming this time. It was early. I wasn't late. The radio alarm clock hadn't come on yet. It was only half past six. My wife was still at home.

Have you got enough bananas? I asked her. She looked at me as if I was crazy. What do you mean bananas? She asked. I thought you had to eat lots of bananas for your special diet. I have no idea what you're on about! She said. Why, do you think I need to go on a diet? Do you mean that I'm fat? No, no, no, not at all, by the way, have you heard anything about an elephant? An elephant. Yes, an elephant which has escaped from a circus. We live in Manchester. There aren't any circuses in Manchester. And there certainly aren't any elephants. Listen, are you suffering from stress or something. You're working too hard on that new film you're trying to produce, aren't you? Perhaps you should just stay at home today, take it easy. Perhaps you're right, I said. I'll just phone my mum. Why do you need to phone your mum at half past six in the morning? Oh, nothing important, I said Well, I'm off to work. See you later, and take it easy today, OK.

OK. I phoned my mum. Hello mum. Hello love. What are you calling this early for? Do you remember Aunty Ethel? Of course I do, but I haven't seen her for about twenty years or so. How is she? I've got no idea. Why on earth are you worried about your Aunty Ethel who you haven't seen for twenty years. Oh nothing, bye.

I made a cup of tea and went back to bed. Perhaps my wife was right. Perhaps I should just relax and take it easy today. I phoned up my boss. Listen I said. I'm not feeling too good today, perhaps too much stress with the production schedule of the new film project. That's a shame said my boss. We've just got a really exciting new idea for a film. I wanted to talk to you about it today. It's a kind of action movie. It's a great story. You have to hear this, an elephant escapes from a circus in a big city, and it has eaten some strange, radioactive bananas, so it's going completely crazy. They eventually manage to stop the elephant by covering all the streets with sticky toffee, so that it can't walk. I see I said. And where does my Aunty Ethel come into it. Aunty who?

I hung up the phone, and hoped that I would wake up. Soon.
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  |  9902 learners#General #Stories

What is April Fool's Day and what are its origins? It is commonly believed that in medieval France, New Year was celebrated on 1 April. Then in 1562, Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar for the Christian world, changing New Year to 1 January. With no modern communications, news travelled slowly and new ideas were often questioned. Many people did not hear of the change, others chose to ignore it, while some merely forgot. These people were called fools. Invitations to non-existent New Year parties were sent and other practical jokes were played. This jesting evolved over time into a tradition of playing pranks on 1 April. The custom eventually spread to England and Scotland, and it was later transported across the Atlantic to the American colonies of the English and the French. April Fools Day has now developed into an international festival of fun, with different nationalities celebrating the day in special ways.

In France and Italy, if someone plays a trick on you, you are the fish of April. By the month of April fish have only just hatched and are therefore easy to catch. Children stick paper fish to their friends' backs and chocolate fish are found in the shops.

In Scotland, April Fools Day lasts for two days! The second day is called Taily Day and tricks on this day involve the bottom or the tail in informal speech. Often a sign saying kick me is stuck onto someone's back without them knowing.

In Spain and Mexico, similar celebrations take place on 28 December. The day is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Originally, the day was a sad remembrance of the slaughter of the innocent children by Herod in his search for the baby Jesus. It eventually changed to a lighter commemoration of innocence involving pranks and trickery.

Today, Americans and the British play small tricks on friends and strangers alike on 1 April. A common trick is to point to a friend's shoe and say Your shoelace is untied. When they look down, they are laughed at. Schoolchildren might tell a friend that school has been cancelled. A bag of flour might be balanced on the top of a door so that when the victim opens the door, the flour empties over their head. Sometimes the media gets involved. Once, a British short film was shown on April Fools Day about spaghetti farmers and how they harvest their crop from spaghetti trees!

Most April Fool jokes are in good fun and not meant to harm anyone. The best trick is the one where everyone laughs, especially the person upon whom the joke has been played.

Two British policemen were sent to investigate a glowing flying saucer on 31 March, the day before April Fool's Day. When the policemen arrived at a field in Surrey, they saw a small figure wearing a silver space suit walking out of a spacecraft. Immediately the police ran off in the opposite direction. Reports revealed that the alien was in fact a midget, and the flying saucer was a hot air balloon that had been specially built to look like a UFO by Richard Branson, the 36-year-old chairman of Virgin Records.

Branson had planned to land the balloon in London's Hyde Park on 1 April. However, a wind change had brought him down in a Surrey field. The police were bombarded with phone calls from terrified motorists as the balloon drifted over the motorway. One lady was so shocked by the incident that she didn't realise that she was standing naked in front of her window as she was describing the UFO to a radio station.
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  |  10140 learners#Culture #Essays

The West African Republic of Senegal has a population of 10 million 95 percent Muslim and there are about 80000 cases of HIV-AIDS in the country. It seems like a large number but in fact, at about 2 percent of the population, it's very low in comparison to other countries. And this percentage rate has not increased for the last ten years. The United Nations recognises this success and has named Senegal, the Philippines, Thailand, and Uganda, as countries which have done the most to fight HIV-AIDS. How has Senegal achieved this? The political stability of the country over the past few decades has been an important factor. But what other things may have contributed to this success story? There is no doubt that social and religious values are an important factor. The Senegalese culture is traditional and religious belief is strong. This means that there is less sexual activity outside of marriage than in many societies. And many young people still believe in the traditional values of no sex before marriage and being faithful to your husband or wife.

Many nations in the world have strong religious and social values, but the Senegalese government decided early on that the subject of HIV-AIDS must be discussed openly. Political, religious and community leaders could not treat it as a taboo subject. This wasn't easy. Speaking openly about the use of condoms means accepting that people may have sex outside of marriage. Religious leaders spoke about HIV-AIDS and condoms in the mosques. They still talked about sexual abstinence and fidelity as the best way to avoid becoming infected, but they also recommended condoms for those people who were not going to abstain from sex.

The National Plan to Fight HIV-AIDS was already in operation in 1987, less than a year after the first cases were diagnosed in Senegal. Its aim was information, education and prevention and it was the first such campaign in Africa. A compulsory class was introduced into the national curriculum in schools. Private companies were encouraged to hold classes for their workers. The government gave the campaign strong support and a regular budget and the religious leaders became strong supporters too. Senegal has a long tradition of local community organisations and there were marches and workshops all over the country. High-risk groups such as sex workers, soldiers and lorry drivers were specially targeted. Women were particularly important in this process. Senegal recognised that women need more than education and condoms. They need to have the economic and social power to say No to unprotected sex. Many young, popular musicians also became involved in the campaign reaching young people all over the country. Prostitution was legalised in Senegal in the 1960s. Sex workers were registered and had to have regular medical check-ups.

Anyone who was suffering from a sexually transmitted disease was treated free of charge. This system gave Senegal two big advantages in the war on HIV-AIDS. Firstly, it wasn't too difficult to extend the system of testing and treatment to HIV-AIDS. And secondly, the fact that sex workers were registered and known to the authorities meant that it was easy to reach them with education programmes. Many prostitutes themselves became involved in educating other women, and distributing free condoms. Twenty years ago fewer than 1 million condoms were used in Senegal. Now the figure is more than 10 million.

In 1970, Senegal began testing all the donated blood in its blood banks. So, unlike many Western countries, infected blood transfusions never caused the spread of the virus. Senegal has HIV-AIDS scientists who are known and respected all over the world. Professor Souleymane Mboup, is a world-renowned AIDS researcher. He is most famous for his work on documenting HIV2, a strain of the AIDS virus which is common in West Africa. Professor Mboup is in charge of his country's National AIDS Programme. He co-ordinates the Convention of Research between Senegal and Harvard University in the United States. He also works with the African AIDS Research Network. So far so good, but Senegal itself knows that it still has a long way to go. The biggest challenge is to hold on to what has already been achieved. Many experts are afraid that this initial success will spread a false sense of security and people will become less careful. One problem is that Senegal is a regional crossroads. Many men go to work in neighbouring countries and return infected with the virus.

There is still a great deal of poverty in the country and many people cannot read or write. HIV-AIDS grows well in these conditions. Large numbers of prostitutes are working secretly without registration. Many sex workers cannot afford to refuse customers who don't wear condoms. And if women had more economic power they would not have to turn to prostitution to feed their families in the first place. So Senegal must continue with the work. And maybe we can all learn a little from what the country has achieved so far.
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  |  9223 learners#Health #Stories

Many animal and plant species have become extinct and many more are in critical danger. Finding ways to protect the earth's wildlife and conserve the natural world they inhabit is now more important than ever.

Extinction is a natural process. Many species had ceased to exist before humans evolved. However, in the last 400 years, the number of animals and plants becoming extinct has reached crisis point. Human population levels have risen dramatically in the same time period and man's predatory instincts combined with his ruthless consumption of natural resources are directly responsible for the situation.

The dodo is a classic example of how human behaviour can cause irreparable damage to the earth's biological diversity. The flightless dodo was native to the Island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. It lived off fruit fallen from the island's trees and lived unthreatened until humans arrived in 1505. The docile bird became a source of food for sailors and lacked the ability to protect itself from animals introduced to the island by humans such as pigs, monkeys and rats. The population of dodos rapidly decreased and the last one was killed in 1681.

In 2002, many animals remain threatened with extinction as a result of human activity. The World Wildlife Fund works tirelessly to raise awareness of the predicament facing these animals and find ways to protect them. By focusing on a number of high profile, charismatic icons such as the rhino, panda, whale and tiger, the WWF aims to communicate critically important environmental issues. The organization's ultimate goal is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.

The rhino horn is a highly prized item for practitioners of Asian medicine. This has led to the animal being relentlessly hunted in its natural habitat. Once widespread in Africa and Eurasia, most rhinos now live in protected natural parks and reserves. Their numbers have rapidly decreased in the last 50 years, over half the remaining rhinos disappeared in the 1970s, and the animals remain under constant threat from poachers.

The future of the WWF's symbol is far from certain. As few as 1000 remain in the wild, living in small isolated groups. These groups have been cut off from each other as a result of deforestation and human expansion into their natural habitat. The Chinese government has set up 33 panda reserves to protect these beautiful animals and made poaching them punishable with 20 years in prison. However, the panda's distinct black and white patched coat fetches a high price on the black market and determined poachers still pose one of the most serious threats to the animal's continued existence.

The International Whaling Commission meets every year. The agenda covers ways to ensure the survival of the species and the complex problems arising from countries such as Japan, wishing to hunt certain whales for scientific purposes. Despite the fact that one third of the world's oceans have been proclaimed whale sanctuaries, seven out of 13 whale species remain endangered. The plight of the North Atlantic Right Whale is particularly serious. Hunted for their rich supply of oil, their numbers have dwindled to just 300. Collisions with ships, toxic pollution and becoming entangled in fishing nets are other major causes of whale deaths.

The last 100 years has seen a 95 percent reduction in the numbers of remaining tigers to between 5000 and 7000 and the Bali, Javan, and Caspian tigers are already extinct. The South China tiger is precariously close to disappearing, with only 20-30 still alive. Like the rhino horn, tiger bones and organs are sought after for traditional Chinese medicines. These items are traded illegally along with tiger skins.

The WWF is actively involved in many areas of the world fighting to protect the natural habitats of endangered animals from further damage and curb the activities of poachers. They also work to influence governments and policy makers to introduce laws aimed at reducing the threat of pollution and deforestation. Our own individual efforts at home and in the workplace can also make a difference. By reducing waste and pollution, saving water, wood and energy, and reusing and recycling whenever possible, we can reduce the possibility of even more animals being lost, never to return.
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  |  10342 learners#Science #Lectures

Amelia Earhart was born in 1897, in Kansas, USA. Even as a child she didn't behave in a conventionally feminine way. She climbed trees and hunted rats with her rifle, but she wasn't particularly interested in flying. She saw her first plane when she was 10, and wasn't impressed at all. But she was very interested in newspaper reports about women who were successful in male-dominated professions, such as engineering, law and management. She cut them out and kept them.

During the First World War she worked as a nursing assistant in a military hospital, and later started to study medicine at university. Then, in 1920, Amelia's life changed. She went to an aviation fair with her father and had a 10 minute flight in a plane. That was it. As soon as the plane left the ground, Amelia knew that she had to fly.

So Amelia found herself a female flying teacher and started to learn to fly. She took all sorts of odd jobs to pay for the lessons, and also saved and borrowed enough money to buy a second-hand plane. It was bright yellow and she called it Canary. In 1922 she took Canary up to a height of 14000 feet, breaking the women's altitude record.

In 1928, Amelia was working as a social worker in Boston when she received an amazing phone call inviting her to join pilot Wilmer Stultz on a flight across the Atlantic. The man who organised the flight was the American publisher, George Putnam. Amelia's official title was commander but she herself said that she was just a passenger. But she was still the first woman passenger to fly across the Atlantic. She became famous, wrote a book about the crossing called 20 Hours, 40 minutes and travelled around the country giving lectures. George Putnam was like a manager to her, and she eventually married him in 1931.

Then, in 1932, Amelia flew solo across the Atlantic, something that only one person, Lindbergh, had ever done before. Because of bad weather, she was forced to land in the middle of a field in Ireland, frightening the cows. She broke several records with this flight, the first woman to make the solo crossing, the only person to make the crossing twice, the longest non-stop distance for a woman and the shortest time for the flight.

Now she was really famous. She was given the Distinguished Flying Cross another first for a woman, wrote another book, and continued to lecture. She also designed a flying suit for women, and went on to design other clothes for women who led active lives.

Amelia continued to break all sorts of aviation records over the next few years. But not everyone was comfortable with the idea of a woman living the kind of life that Amelia led. One newspaper article about her finished with the question But can she bake a cake?

When she was nearly 40, Amelia decided that she was ready for a final challenge, to be the first woman to fly around the world. Her first attempt was unsuccessful the plane was damaged but she tried again in June 1937, with her navigator, Fred Noonan. She had decided that this was going to be her last long-distance record breaking flight.

Everything went smoothly and they landed in New Guinea in July. The next stage was from New Guinea to Howland Island, a tiny spot of land in the Pacific Ocean. But in mid flight the plane, navigator and pilot simply disappeared in the bad weather.

A rescue search was started immediately but nothing was found. The United States government spent 4 million dollars looking for Amelia, which makes it the most expensive air and sea search in history. A lighthouse was built on Howland Island in her memory.

Amelia always knew that what she did was dangerous and that every flight could be her last. She left a letter for her husband saying that she knew the dangers, but she wanted to do what she did. People today are still speculating about what might have happened to Amelia and Fred Noonan. There are even theories that they might have landed on an unknown island and lived for many more years. Whatever happened, Amelia Earhart is remembered as a brave pioneer for both aviation and for women.
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  |  8986 learners#General #Biography

Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane, ain't got time to take a fast train. Lonely days are gone, I'm a-goin' home, cause my baby just a-wrote me a letter.

Have you ever looked out of the window of a passenger plane from 30000 feet at the vast expanses of empty ocean and uninhabited land, and wondered how people can have any major effect on the Earth? I have. But it is now becoming pretty clear that we are causing a great deal of damage to the natural environment. And the planes which rush us in comfort to destinations around the globe, contribute to one of the biggest environmental problems that we face today, global warming.

For those of us lucky enough to have money to spend, and the free time to spend it in, there are a huge number of fascinating places to explore. The cost of air transport has decreased rapidly over the years, and for many people, especially in rich countries, it is now possible to fly around the world for little more than the contents of our weekly pay packets. Unfortunately, planes produce far more carbon dioxide CO2 than any other form of public transport, and CO2 is now known to be a greenhouse gas, a gas which traps the heat of the sun, causing the temperature of the Earth to rise.

Scientists predict that in the near future the climate in Britain will resemble that of the Mediterranean, ironically a popular destination for British holidaymakers flying off to seek the sun. If global warming continues, we may also find that many tourist destinations such as The Maldives have disappeared under water because of rising sea levels. As usual, people in the developing world are having to deal with problems created mainly by those of us in developed countries.

Beatrice Schell, a spokeswoman for the European Federation for Transport and Environment says that, One person flying in an airplane for one hour is responsible for the same greenhouse gas emissions as a typical Bangladeshi in a whole year. And every year jet aircraft generate almost as much carbon dioxide as the entire African continent produces. When you are waiting impatiently in a crowded departure lounge for a delayed flight or trying to find luggage which has gone astray, plane fares may seem unreasonably high, but in reality we are not paying enough for air travel. Under the polluter pays principle, where users pay for the bad effects they cause, the damage caused by planes is not being paid for. Aircraft fuel is not taxed on international flights and planes, unlike cars, are not inspected for CO2 emissions. Also, the Kyoto agreement does not cover greenhouse gases produced by planes, leaving governments to decide for themselves who is responsible.

So what can be done to solve the problem? Well, although aircraft engine manufacturers are making more efficient engines and researching alternative fuels such as hydrogen, it will be decades before air travel is not damaging to the environment. Governments don't seem to be taking the problem seriously, so it is up to individual travellers to do what they can to help. The most obvious way of dealing with the problem is to not travel by plane at all. Environmental groups like Friends of the Earth encourage people to travel by train and plan holidays nearer home.

However, with prices of flights at an all time low, and exotic destinations more popular than ever, it is hard to persuade British tourists to choose Blackpool instead of Bangkok, or Skegness over Singapore. Friends of the Earth also advise using teleconferencing for international business meetings, but most businesspeople still prefer to meet face-to-face. However, there is a way of offsetting the carbon dioxide we produce when we travel by plane. A company called Future Forests, whose supporters include Coldplay and Pink Floyd, offers a service which can relieve the guilty consciences of air travellers.

The Future Forest website calculates the amount of CO2 you are responsible for producing on your flight, and for a small fee will plant the number of trees which will absorb this CO2. Another company, co2dotorg, offers a similar service, but invests your money in energy saving projects such as providing efficient light bulbs to villagers in Mauritius. Yesterday I returned to Japan from England, and was happy to pay Future Forests 25 pounds to plant the 3 trees which balance my share of the CO2 produced by my return flight. Now the only thing making me lose sleep is jet lag.
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  |  9217 learners#Science #Lectures

The person who takes medicine must recover twice, once from the disease and once from the medicine.

If all the medicine in the world were thrown into the sea, it would be bad for the fish and good for humanity.

Alternative medicine has become much more popular in the West in recent years. It seems that people are becoming increasingly worried about the side effects of drugs, and are turning to treatments such as homeopathy, osteopathy, yoga, reflexology and acupuncture to complement, or sometimes even replace, Western medicine.

An event in my life three or four years ago made me examine my own attitudes towards alternative medicine. After suffering from insomnia for a few months, I was feeling mentally and physically exhausted. A trip to my GP, and attempts at self-medication with nightly doses of Guinness and whisky, failed to bring any relief from my condition. My friend Tony, who was studying acupuncture at a college near London at the time, suggested that I visit an acupuncturist. Since I have a healthy fear of needles from waiting in line for vaccinations in gloomy school corridors, I was reluctant to take his advice, but by this time I was so tired that I was prepared to try almost anything.

I made an appointment with the only acupuncturist in my area, and after another nearly sleepless night, turned up at his room in the local alternative health centre the following morning. After taking my pulse, looking at my tongue, and asking a few questions about my diet and lifestyle, the acupuncturist correctly deduced that I was worn-out I found this extremely impressive since he hadn't asked me why I had come to see him. He then inserted a needle in my right foot between my first and second toe, and, despite my anxiety, I fell asleep immediately. At the time I considered the whole experience to be close to a miracle.

Acupuncture is based on the idea that energy flows through the human body along 12 lines or meridians. These meridians end up at organs in the body, and illness is the result of a blockage of the energy flow to these organs. To remove the blockage, an acupuncturist inserts very fine needles into the body at points along the meridians. This stimulates the flow of energy, and restores the patient's health.

Traditional Chinese medicine has been practised for around 3000 years in the Far East, but is relatively recent in the West, and acupuncture only really became well-known in the West in the 1970s as people began to travel more frequently between the two areas of the world.

A significant event in the history of acupuncture came in 1971, when a journalist from the New York Times had his appendix removed in China, when on a trip to the country with Henry Kissinger, the Secretary of State for the USA. Surgeons used acupuncture to deaden the pain of the operation, which greatly impressed Kissinger.

Although at first doctors in the West were often sceptical of the medical value of acupuncture, in the last few years it has become more established as an alternative to Western medical treatments, since clinical tests have shown that acupuncture is effective for a number of conditions.

In the Far East acupuncture is used to treat a wide range of complaints, and is also used as a preventative medicine, since it is thought to increase the body's resistance to infection. In the West, the treatment is often used to relieve headaches, dental pain, back pain, and arthritis, and to treat depression, asthma, stress, high blood pressure and anxiety.

Since acupuncture is known to be effective against pain, it is not surprising that many sportspeople have experimented with acupuncture when fighting injury. Martina Hingis, the famous tennis player, had a wrist injury cured through treatment, and English Premier Division football club Bolton Wanderers employ an acupuncturist to keep their squad in good physical condition. While in Korea for the World Cup in 2002, Soo Ji Chim, a Korean form of acupuncture, was very popular with the German football team.

Cherie Blair, a well-known human rights lawyer, and the wife of the British Prime Minister, was recently spotted wearing an acupuncture needle in her ear, suggesting that she uses the treatment to cope with stress. The Queen of England is also interested in acupuncture, although she doesn't use the treatment herself she and many of her family rely on another alternative medical treatment, homeopathy, to keep them healthy.

Finally, if you do decide to visit an acupuncturist, it is important that you check that they are qualified and registered to practise acupuncture. In the past some people have experienced allergic reactions, broken needles and even punctured lungs while being treated, although this is very uncommon.
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  |  10224 learners#Health #Unclassified

Most people are aware that Canada and the United States are two very large countries in North America. However, most people do not know how these countries came to exist. The story of the creation of these countries is a very interesting one. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, some people from England and from France moved across the Atlantic ocean. English people lived on what is now the east coast of the United States, and French people lived in what is now Quebec, in the eastern part of Canada. The kings of England and France were often at war with each other. This meant that there was often fighting in North America between the soldiers of England and France.

By about the year 1750, there were many more people in the English colonies than in the French colonies. When the next war began, the English king was determined to defeat the French and gain complete control of North America. The English assembled a large force of ships and soldiers and attacked the French at Quebec. The French fought bravely, but they were too few in numbers, and the English won the war. England then gained control of all of North America.

After this war, the people of the English colonies in North America began to feel dissatisfied with their government. They were not represented in the English government, but they had to pay taxes to the English king. The taxes were used to pay for English soldiers who defended the American colonies, but the Americans did not want these soldiers. In 1775, the American settlers began to rebel, and in 1776 the Americans declared their independence. For several years, there was much fighting between the Americans and the English soldiers. For a while, it appeared that the Americans would lose, even though they fought bravely. Then, the king of France decided to help the Americans. He sent his ships and soldiers to America, and they helped the Americans to defeat the English forces. England recognized the United States of America as an independent country in 1783.

However, England kept control of Canada. When the American colonies rebelled against England, some of the people who lived in those colonies did not rebel. Those people were called Loyalists because they were loyal to the king. When the war ended, the Loyalists had to leave the country. They moved northward to Canada, where they started new English-speaking colonies. During the year 1812, the Americans invaded Canada, but they were not able to conquer the country.

During the nineteenth century, the people of Quebec continued to speak French and to maintain their French culture. Meanwhile, many more people moved to the English-speaking areas of Canada. In the year 1867, Quebec and the English-speaking colonies agreed to form a single country, Canada. By this time, there were two very large countries in the northern part of North America!
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  |  9240 learners#Politic #Essays

Imagine a beach, a quiet place, with only the noise of the sea and the gulls in the background. There are boats floating near the shore and a few people swimming in the water next to them. It's a hot day, and there are some people lying on the sand enjoying the sunshine and slowly going brown. There are no shops, no people making noises, no loud music, everything is peaceful. There is just the sea, the sun, and the beach, a little paradise.

The beach is on the south coast of Scotland, near a little town called Gatehouse of Fleet in the county of Dumfries and Galloway. 22 years ago my family and I found this place for the first time and we have never really left it. Every year in the summer while other people go on holiday to foreign countries and exotic places, we go to our private paradise and relax. There is a little campsite with tents and caravans next to the beach, and this becomes our home for one month every year.

For a child a beach is a wonderful place. Here I found lots of space to run and play on the sand or to swim in the water. Being a campsite there were always lots of other families with children to play with. Another of my favourite activities was climbing on the rocks and cliffs around the beach. Rock pools were very educational places where I used to study the little fish and sea animals. Silence was also important, at school I was always surrounded by people and noise but the beach gave me the chance to be on my own and think, or read, away from anyone else.

Although the sea can be beautiful, this beach is sometimes a dangerous place to be. When the weather is bad there are often storms with strong winds. When this happens the waves can get up to 2-3 metres high, definitely not weather for swimming. Every year some of the boats anchored on the beach are lost because the sea is so rough. I remember holding down our tent to stop the wind blowing it away on many occasions. However, if the waves weren't too high all the children and some adults used to go swimming in life jackets, as it was very exciting.

Sailing is a very serious activity in the UK, and this beach is no different. There are large racing boats for three or more people, smaller boats such as the Topper for just one or two people, fishing boats and windsurfers. In fact people on this beach are willing to try any type of water-sport, water skiing, speed boating, even the recent sport of sail surfing is becoming popular. Over the years my family has had 4 different boats, from a small Topper to a large Caprice for racing. We have sailed, raced, and fished off the boats, and have even capsized in bad weather a few times.

If this beach had been next to a town or near a popular tourist area I don't think we would have continued going there. But its location is very beautiful indeed. It's in the middle of green countryside with many different types of plants and flowers, and in the background the hills of Galloway can be seen. Lots of photographers and artists come to the area also known as the Solway because they can capture such beautiful scenery.

Even after 22 years, the beach is still a sanctuary for me. It's a place away from the rest of the world where I can forget about life's problems, and just relax. In today's modern, busy world, everyone should have a place like this.
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  |  9469 learners#Science #Unclassified

Today, in the early twenty-first century, most countries no longer have kings and queens. However, some countries have remained as monarchies, including England and its former colonies. However, even in these countries, the monarch is a ceremonial figure who no longer has any real power over his or her subjects. These countries are called constitutional monarchies because they are democracies in which the monarch remains the official head of state.

Many years ago, the kings and queens of England did have real power, but gradually this power was transferred to the people and their elected officials. It is interesting to examine how this transition occurred. Even in very early times, the king of England did not have absolute power. He was the most powerful man in the country, but he could not entirely force his will upon others. If he became too demanding, he might face opposition from powerful local land-owners. These men, called the barons, might resist a king who tried to become too strong. This is exactly what happened in the year 1215. The king of England had made many unreasonable demands upon the country, and the barons decided to resist. They forced the king to agree to a list of rules that would limit his power. These rules were written in a famous document called the Magna Carta. This document described not only the rights of the barons, but also of the common people of England.

During the next few hundred years, the kings still had much power. However, some other people, such as the landowners and the richer men of the towns, also had influence. Their meetings became known as Parliaments, and the king had to share power with the parliament. During the 1640s, one king tried to rule without Parliament, and tried to take away the rights of Parliament. This led to a civil war, and the king was defeated. England soon became a monarchy again, but it became clear that Parliament would have more power than the king. Until the twentieth century, the Parliaments of England became more democratic, as more and more people were allowed to vote.

Today, England still has a constitutional monarchy. But not all English-speaking countries recognize the English queen. For example, the United States became an independent country over 200 years ago and has become a republic ever since. In some countries, there is debate about the future of the monarchy. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand still recognize the queen of England as their own queen even though those countries are no longer governed by England. Many people in those countries want to abolish the monarchy. They believe that their countries should now have their own head of state. On the other hand, some people in those countries want to keep the monarchy because it reminds them of their country's early history. This is an ongoing topic of debate for Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders.
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  |  9191 learners#Culture #Essays

During the past several decades, there have been major changes within most Western countries in people's attitudes toward sex, and in sexual behaviour. For people who have lived throughout this period, the changes have seemed quite remarkable. Until the early twentieth century, people in most Western countries did not have permissive attitudes regarding sexuality.

For the most part, young people were expected to wait until marriage before having sexual intercourse. Of course, some premarital sex did occur, and prostitution was not rare. However, sexual behaviour was relatively restricted. As the twentieth century progressed, there was a gradual trend toward liberalization of attitudes toward sex. However, this trend was greatly speeded after 1960, when the first birth control pills became available. These contraceptive pills made it possible for women to engage in sexual intercourse without much risk of an unwanted pregnancy. As a result, many women were more willing to have premarital sex than was previously the case.

Also during the 1960s, Western countries were reaching high levels of wealth and education. A new and very large generation of young people was approaching adulthood, and there was a mood of rebellion against traditional norms. There was an increase in the number of people who engaged in sex before marriage, and also a greater openness about such behaviour. By the 1970s, sexual attitudes had become quite liberal, and many young people were quite promiscuous in their sexual behaviour. However, this pattern reversed somewhat during the 1980s. There was increased concern about sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, moreover, many young women had been uncomfortable with the idea of unrestricted sexual behaviour. As a result, sexual attitudes became slightly more conservative during the 1980s and 1990s, although they remained much more liberal than in previous decades.

In the early twenty-first century, most young people in Western countries begin having sex during their high school years, although some people wait until they are considerably older. Some young people are promiscuous, but most engage in monogamous relationships that typically last for a period of several months or a few years. When one relationship ends, another usually begins soon after. This pattern usually continues until marriage. After marriage, most people have sex exclusively with their spouse, however, some people do commit adultery. Sexuality has changed a great deal in recent decades. It will be very interesting to see how people's sexual attitudes and behaviour will change in the future.
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  |  9165 learners#Education #Lectures

Charles Darwin made what might be the most important scientific discovery of all time the theory of evolution by natural selection. It was Darwin who first understood how it was that plants and animals evolved over time to produce new and different species. At first, this theory faced much opposition, but since that time it has been supported by evidence from many areas of science.

Darwin was born in a small town in England in 1809. When he was a young man, he went to university, first to study medicine, and later to study religion. However, Darwin found his schoolwork to be very boring. Instead, he preferred outdoor activities and was very interested in nature. While Darwin was at university, the British navy was planning to send one of its ships, called the Beagle, on a voyage of exploration. As part of this voyage, the ship would need a naturalist, who could study the various plants and animals that might be found. Darwin was recommended for this job by one of his professors, who had been impressed by Darwin. Darwin was chosen as the naturalist of the Beagle, and the ship left England in 1831. The ship's voyage took Darwin around the world, and he observed many species of plants and animals on his trip.

In one place near South America, known as the Galapagos Islands, Darwin observed many unusual species of birds. Several of these birds seemed closely related to each other, but they differed in interesting ways. For example, some birds had long beaks that could reach insects hidden in the bark of trees, but other birds had thick beaks that could break open the shells of nuts. What Darwin realized was that certain characteristics could help an animal or a plant to survive and reproduce. Individuals that lacked those characteristics would become more likely to die without reproducing.

Over many generations, the useful characteristics would then become more and more common, as the surviving individuals passed the characteristics on to their offspring. Eventually, after many generations, the changes would be so great that a new species would exist. In this way, a single species could divide into two or more new ones. This was called the process of evolution by natural selection. When Darwin returned to England, he studied plants and animals in more detail. After much research, he began writing a book about his theory of evolution by natural selection.

When the book, The Origin of Species, was published in 1859, it was very popular and very controversial. During the next twenty years, Darwin continued his scientific research, and he wrote several more books. By the time of his death, in 1882, many biologists had realized that Darwin had made one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time. or the first time, scientists could understand the origin of the many different species of plants and animals.
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  |  8988 learners#Science #Stories

Of the fifty states in the United States, forty-nine are located on the mainland of North America. The other state is Hawaii, which consists of several islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii is known as an especially beautiful and interesting place. The Hawaiian islands were formed by volcanic eruptions that pushed molten rock, called lava, above the surface of the ocean.

Some of the islands no longer have any volcanic activity, but there are still active volcanoes on two Hawaiian islands, Oahu and the big island which is known simply as Hawaii. One of these volcanoes, Mauna Loa, still erupts sometimes, with spectacular explosions of lava. Another volcano, called Mauna Kea, is now dormant. These volcanoes are both very tall and reach over 4000 metres above sea level. The air above Mauna Kea is so clear and thin that scientists use the mountain as a base for observing the stars. The islands of Hawaii are located in the tropics, and they are known for their beautiful weather. The temperatures are usually in the range of 20 to 30 degrees Celsius, and the days are usually sunny. This weather allows people to enjoy swimming and surfing on the beautiful beaches of Hawaii.

Despite the sunshine, most of the islands also receive enough rainfall to support many beautiful flowers and trees. The first people to live in Hawaii were Polynesian groups who arrived from other islands in the Pacific, well over 1000 years ago. The islands were visited by European explorers during the late eighteenth century. During the early nineteenth century, the islands became unified under a single king. However, during this time, many Hawaiians died from diseases that were brought by European and American visitors. The Hawaiian islands are excellent places for growing sugar cane and pineapples. In the late eighteenth century, some Americans began large farms, called plantations, in Hawaii.

The Americans eventually gained control of the government, and Hawaii became a territory of the United States. The United States built a naval base on the island of Oahu, at Pearl Harbor. This base was attacked by Japan in 1941, but it was soon repaired. The naval base is still in use today. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there was great demand for labour on the sugar and pineapple plantations. People came to Hawaii from many lands, and Hawaii became a place of many cultures. The native Hawaiians mixed with people from places such as Japan, China, Korea, the Philippines, Portugal, and Puerto Rico, as well as the mainland United States.

Today, many Hawaiians can claim a diverse heritage. In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States, with the city of Honolulu as its capital. Today, there are more than one million people in Hawaii, more than half of whom live in Honolulu. Each year, many more people visit Hawaii as tourists, to experience the beauty of these islands.
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  |  9084 learners#General #Essays

Benjamin Franklin was one of the most famous people in American history. He was never a President of the United States, but he made great achievements in many areas of life, including business, literature, science, and politics. Benjamin Franklin was born in the city of Boston, during the year 1706.

In his early years, Franklin was very poor. As a young man, he worked for his older brother, who was a printer. However, the two brothers soon argued with each other. Benjamin decided to leave, and he moved to the city of Philadelphia. He worked very hard and soon became a successful printer. He published his own newspapers, and he also published books called almanacs, which contained many wise sayings. Many of the wise sayings in Franklin's almanacs are still repeated today. Franklin's printing business was very successful, but he was also very interested in science. He performed experiments on the topic of electricity. Some of these experiments were very dangerous.

In one experiment, Franklin was almost killed when he went outside during a lightning storm and flew a kite that had a metal key attached. However, Franklin was lucky enough to avoid injury, and he learned new facts about electricity. In addition to scientific research, Franklin was also an inventor. He invented a new kind of eye-glasses called bifocals. Bifocals are eye-glasses that allow people to see things that are far away, but also allow them to read things that are very close. Another invention was a new kind of stove for burning wood. This new stove was much more efficient than the older stoves had been. He also invented a lightning rod, which keeps houses safe from lightning.

Franklin was also interested in making his city a better place to live. He started a public library, and he helped to organize a hospital and a fire department. In addition, he supervised the postal service, which operated profitably under his command. In his later years, Franklin became heavily involved in politics. For most of Franklin's life, the United States was not yet a country. Instead, the United States were still colonies of England, but Franklin encouraged other Americans to become an independent country. When the United States became a country, Franklin became the American ambassador to France. The French people liked Franklin very much. Franklin later returned to the United States, and he died in 1790.

Today, many Americans still admire the brilliant achievements of Benjamin Franklin, who did so much to improve people's lives. The picture of Benjamin Franklin can be seen on the American hundred-dollar bill.
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  |  9041 learners#Science #Biography
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