Lessons in the "Europe" Category

Cobblestones defeat Bond shoot in Rome

The latest James Bond movie to be shot has come up against a new enemy – cobblestones! The producers discovered this unforeseen problem of noisy cobblestones when filming the latest 007 movie Spectre in Rome recently.

The British spy, was involved in a high speed car chase involving his silver Aston Martin DB10 and a Jaguar C-X75. As they sped along the banks of the Tiber river, the sports cars had to drive across cobblestones. Producers noticed with dismay the loud sound created interfered with their audio inside Bond’s car. Post production film audio techniques will no doubt solve this matter.

Referendum on family values

Today’s English lesson is inspired by one of my students. When discussing her weekend activities, she told us she had been helping to promote an upcoming referendum on family values that will take place shortly in Slovakia.

There are three questions:

  1. Do you agree that only a bond between one man and one woman can be called marriage?
  2. Do you agree that same-sex couples should not be allowed to adopt and raise children?
  3. Do you agree that schools cannot require children to participate in sex education or euthanasia education if their parents don’t agree?

Je suis Charlie

Today’s English lesson looks at the terrible events that took place in France recently. “Je suis Charlie” – “I am Charlie” is the phrase or slogan given in support of the French cartoonists who were killed by attackers in Paris on Wednesday 7th January at the headquarters of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Events began at 10.30am when two masked gunmen raided the offices of the French satirical magazine. The gunmen killed 11 people including the magazine’s editor, and a policeman in a nearby street. The gunmen were identified as brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi.

Malaysian Airways Flight MH17 shot down over Ukraine

Today, let’s talk about the terrible Malaysian Airways disaster that happened on the 17th July 2014. The Malaysian Airways Flight MH17 was shot down in Ukraine near the Russian border as it travelled from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

The Boeing 777-200 aircraft exploded into flames at 33,000ft as it was hit by a sophisticated surface-to-air-missile over territory near Donetsk held by pro-Russian rebels. Dutch authorities said 298 people were on board the flight; including 173 Dutch, 9 Britons, and 27 Australians. Up to 100 passengers on board were headed for an international AIDS conference in Melbourne.

Category: Malaysian Airways / MH17 / Ukraine

Mobile phone banking revolution in Central Europe

In the Central European country of Slovakia, a mobile phone banking revolution is taking place. Thousands of people are now regularly making payments using their mobile phone. It’s all down to new technology that several Slovakian banks have introduced.

The system being used in Slovakia is called Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. This offers users a user-friendly solution to the mobile payment hang-up, but it requires coordination between banks and mobile operators, as well as infrastructure in shops. Slovakia is considered the European leader in adopting innovative solutions.

Category: Economic / Banks / Business

Ukraine - What next?

Today, let’s talk about the Ukrainian crisis. To briefly recap events: In November 2013, President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych rejected an EU pending association agreement, choosing instead to pursue a Russian loan bailout and have closer ties with Russia. This led to many protests in Kiev in Independence Square. These protests became known as ‘Euromaidan’ by the young pro-European Union Ukrainians.

Category: Ukraine / History / Eastern Europe

Edward Snowden on German TV

Recently the National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden was interviewed by German TV channel ARD. In it he said the NSA is involved in industrial espionage. He added that the NSA takes intelligence regardless of its value to national security.

Snowden cited German engineering firm Siemens as one target. Snowden also revealed he no longer had possession of any documents or information on NSA activities. He has though turned everything over to select journalists.

Category: Technology / Edward Snowden / NSA

Red double-decker buses to be considered in Bratislava!

SMS message – ‘I’ve just been for a free ride on a brand new red double-decker bus in Bratislava’. It’s true I did! The red bus was, to say the least, an unusual sight as it travelled around the historic old town of Bratislava in Slovakia.

Why is it in the city? The new Slovak built and designed red double-decker bus is on loan to the city to see if its citizens would like to have them in the future. Why not?

Category: Transport / Double-decker Buses / Bratislava

Czech alcohol poisoning scandal

Central Europe has been rocked recently by an alcohol poisoning scandal. The government of the Czech Republic was forced to ban the sale of hard liquor with more than 20% alcohol following the death of 17 people who drank bootleg spirits containing poisonous methanol. Hard spirits across the Czech Republic were cleared from shelves. Exports of hard liquor were also halted. Sales of Czech spirits were also banned in nearby Slovakia after some of its citizens were affected by the poisoning.

Category: Czech Republic / Alcohol poisoning / Economic

Should France preserve Hitler’s Atlantic Wall?

Sections of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall in France are being restored by enthusiasts. But should it be preserved? Should the Nazi fortification be fully embraced as part of the country’s image?

The so-called Atlantic Wall – Hitler’s defensive system against an expected Allied attack – stretched all the way from the Spanish border to Scandinavia. It was in France where the most extensive building took place. In fact 1,287km (800 miles) of French coast have substantial and evocative vestiges of war-time Europe. However, in France up till now there has been no effort to preserve this extraordinary historical landmark.

The French, have it seems, been quite happy to see the German defences rust away and crumble over time. But now it appears a new mood has emerged. Recently, several local associations dedicated to safeguarding portions of the Wall have been set up in France. Times have moved on, memories of the war have lapsed, and a new generation no longer feels pain or guilt, but curiosity.

Category: History / France / Hitler’s Atlantic Wall