Cambodia’s Bamboo Trains

It might restore the country’s train lines progress.

Cambodia’s famous bamboo trains around Battambang could be about to grind to a halt as plans to restore the country’s train lines progress. The homemade trains, known as ‘norries’, are powered by small motorcycle engines and can carry as many as 15 people.

One driver said that he and 40 others had been working at the tracks for 20 years, and they do not know how they will eat or care for their families. They are appealing to the government to ‘please find another place to run the norries’. The government has said that it may relocate the railway to the nearby Banan district.


Difficult words: grind to a halt (move more and more slowly and then stop), district (an area in a country or a city).

Putin Warns of 'Global Catastrophe' over North Korea

It could cause a "planetary catastrophe"

Russia's president Vladimir Putin has warned that the crisis over North Korea could cause a "planetary catastrophe". He said if war broke out on the Korean Peninsular, there would be a huge loss of life. He told reporters at a meeting in China that talking and "peaceful dialogue" were the only ways to end the crisis. He warned the USA and North Korea that talking about military action and war was very dangerous. He said: "Ramping up military hysteria in such conditions is senseless. It's a dead end." Mr. Putin said North Korea would never give up its nuclear program He said: "They will eat grass instead of stopping their nuclear program as long as they do not feel safe."


Tensions in Korea are reaching very dangerous levels. On Sunday, North Korea carried out its most powerful nuclear test ever. The United Nations Security Council met after to tell North Korea to stop its testing. Many countries called for stronger sanctions against North Korea. Mr Putin said sanctions have never worked and would never work. He said sanctions against North Korea would be useless and ineffective. The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said North Korea was "begging for war" because of its words and actions. She said: "War is never something the United States wants. We don't want it now. But our country's patience is not unlimited. We will defend our allies and our territory."

Why do People Yawn?

It is Contagious.

Do you ever wonder why we yawn? Do you always yawn when you see other people yawn? A new study from Nottingham University in the UK has done research on this. Researchers found that yawning is contagious. It is a powerful and unstoppable reaction. People automatically want to yawn when they see other people yawning. The researchers said people actually yawn more when they try to stop yawning. The researchers also found that some people have a much stronger urge to yawn than other people. Lead researcher Professor Stephen Jackson said that even reading about yawning could be enough to make people yawn. You might even want to yawn right now.

The researchers studied the reactions and brain activity of 36 adult volunteers. The volunteers looked at video clips of other people yawning. They then had two choices - either to stop themselves yawning or to allow themselves to do it. The volunteers were videoed as they yawned or tried not to yawn. The researchers also monitored the brain activity of the volunteers and checked how strong their feeling to want to yawn was. Jackson said understanding more about yawning will help to treat conditions such as dementia, epilepsy and Tourettes. He said: "We are looking for potential non-drug, personalized treatments…that might be effective in [changing] imbalances in the brain."

Irish TV Station 'Forced' to Use Queen's English


Radio newsreaders and television presenters at Ireland's national broadcaster RTE are up in arms at being told to pronounce words according to the Queen's English. A report in The Irish Sun newspaper claims that RTE's broadcasters have been issued an A-Z style guide of words which instructs them on how to pronounce certain words in an effort to ensure they are clearly understood. The A-Z comes with audio clips containing elocution lessons of how to "properly" pronounce the "problem" words. An official at RTE told the Irish Sun that producers issued the guide to keep up standards. It said RTE had received complaints from the public over how certain words were supposedly mispronounced.

Irish linguistics expert Professor Raymond Hickey called the RTE's actions "internalized colonialism". He expressed his disbelief that Irish speakers were being asked to use words with an English accent. He said: "The basic issue is RTE expects its staff to speak as if they were English. Why? We have our own form of English, which is different but fully legitimate and accepted worldwide." Professor Hickey highlighted some examples of the words Irish presenters are being asked to pronounce with a British English accent. He said: "The Irish don't pronounce the TH [in 'birthday'] as a fricative, but as a stop with no breath….The same is true of 'news' - the Irish pronunciation is and always has been 'nooze'."



Binge-watching Television Causes Sleep Problems

New research shows that binge-watching television can adversely affect your health. Binge-viewing involves excessive watching of back-to-back TV shows in a single sitting. It has become prevalent across the world with the advent of online streaming and downloading services. Researchers from the University of Michigan in the USA and the Leuven School for Mass Communication Research in Belgium surveyed 423 people aged 18-25 on their TV-viewing habits. Their research found that binge-viewing greatly interrupted sleep patterns. Co-author Professor Jan Van den Bulck said: "Our study signals that binge-viewing is prevalent in young adults and that it may be harmful to their sleep." The researchers asked participants about their sleep quality, levels of fatigue and prevalence of insomnia. They also enquired about their frequency of binge-watching programs on televisions, laptops and desktop computers. Over 80 per cent of the participants reported binge-watching, with 20 per cent doing so several times a week. Binge-watchers are 98 per cent more likely to experience poor sleep quality. A researcher said: "Bingeable TV shows have plots that keep the viewer tied to the screen. We think they become intensely involved with the content and may keep thinking about it when they want to go to sleep." She said this caused people problems when trying to sleep.

Popular sungazer lizards under threat from poaching

The Sungazer (Smaug giganteus), a dragon-like lizard species endemic to the Highveld regions of South Africa, is facing an assault on two fronts as farming and industrialisation encroaches on its natural habitat -- which already consist of only a several hundred square kilometres globally -- while the illegal global pet trade is adding pressure on pushing the species into extinction.


Lizard table information

DATE 1-Aug-17
SOURCE University of the Witwatersrand

The sungazer (Smaug giganteus), a dragon-like lizard species endemic to the Highveld regions of South Africa, is facing an assault on two fronts as farming and industrialization encroaches on its natural habitat -- which already consist of only a several hundred square kilometers globally -- while the illegal global pet trade is adding pressure on pushing the species into extinction.