Green energy industry asks for government help to meet targets

Green energy industry asks for government help to meet targets
The renewable power industry has warned that it needs £500m from the government over the next two years in order to meet future energy demands. Half of this amount of money will be used for developing wind power generation by installing wind turbines in the sea, while the rest will go to making wind and tidal power generation commercially profitable, because up to now it has only seen an experimental development.
This call for a large injection of public money was made by RenewableUK, a group previously known as the British Wind Energy Association, in a presentation to the energy minister, David Kidney.
RenewableUK pointed to the example of Denmark as a country that had benefited from giving strong support to this new green industry for the development of wind energy generation projects. Denmark invested £1.3bn into this sector, and as a result of this investment, renewable energy industries in Denmark are now producing benefits of £2.3bn annually.

Social care for graduates: compassionate embrace

Hand in hand You may not need a degree to work in social care, but many graduates with a desire to help the vulnerable are finding rewarding careers within the sector. Being a carer comes with emotional pressure and demanding challenges, but for some graduates working in social care has proved the most satisfying step they have ever taken.
“I was going to do my master’s, but then I realised I needed to do something meaningful and important for other people. After spending all that time studying, I just wanted to do something real,” says Colette Lotscher, a graduate with a degree in literature who now works as a personal care assistant in Greenwich, London. At present, Lotscher is working with children with mental or physical disabilities and their families, helping parents and burnt out mothers to cope with the day-to-day reality of caring for a child with special needs. “It is tough, but you grow so much, you learn how to be tolerant and to become a better person”, she says.
Social care workers are often confused with social workers, but the two are distinctly different; you need a degree to practise as a social worker, but you don’t need any particular qualifications to go into social care as a carer. Social work usually deals with case-by-case scenarios, where a situation is complex enough to involve local authorities, the NHS (National Health Service), the police or probation services, whereas social care involves delivering practical and emotional support to the vulnerable, elderly or ill – either in residential homes or to families in need.

Beauty over youth

Beauty over youth
From the countless music videos portraying young healthy-looking beauties to a flourishing cosmetics industry that promises slow aging, women are led to believe that men primarily prefer youth to beauty. But a new study from Britain suggests that men go for older attractive women rather than younger plain-looking ones.
The new study by a psychologist of Chiterns University College shows that up to a certain age, men find attractiveness more important than youth when considering potential mates. The psychologist took a photo of a 36-year-old woman who was very attractive in the eyes of a group of men. They showed the picture to three other groups in their early 20s along with the same eight pictures of women aged 20-45 who had been considered less attractive. The researchers told the group the beautiful woman was either 36, 41 or 45 years old. When asked who they'd prefer as a long-term partner, all three groups of men chose her, regardless of how old they thought she was.
The study shows that beauty counts and that men are not concerned with the number of children they can have. The younger, plainer women will give them more children, but the fact that men are going for the "aging beauty" is indicative that beauty is more important at some level. But the psychologist also stressed that the study was based only on physical attractiveness and didn't take into account other characteristic traits like kindness, generosity, and caring, which were just as, if not more important, in determining long-term relationships.

Some people never forget a face

Facial recognition - Some people never forget a face
A new study finds some people can remember faces of people they met years ago and only in passing. Others of us, of course, aren't blessed with that ability. In fact about 2 percent of the population has prosopagnosia, a condition characterized by great difficulty in recognizing faces.
The "super-recognizers", as they are called, excel at recalling faces. The study suggests that there is — as with many things — a broad spectrum of ability in this realm. The research involved standardized face recognition tests, and the superrecognizers scored far above average on these tests. Often super-recognizers are able to recognize another person despite significant changes in appearance, such as aging or a different hair color. They also recognize other people far more often than they are recognized. In these cases, they often compensate by pretending not to recognize someone they met in passing, so as to avoid appearing to attribute too much importance to a brief encounter.
Super-recognizers, then, really stand out in terms of their ability to remember people. They have extreme stories of recognizing people; it doesn't have to be a significant interaction. They can recognize someone who was shopping in the same store with them two months ago, for example, even if they didn't speak to the person. One woman in the new study said she had identified another woman on the street who served her as a waitress five years earlier in a different city. This outstanding ability could be important in courts, where one person's eyewitness testimony might thus be more credible than another based on their varying abilities to recognize a face.

Un français champion du monde

Championnat du monde d’air guitar - Gunter Love
Le Français Sylvain Quimene a remporté vendredi soir l’édition 2009 du Championnat du monde d’air guitar après avoir séduit le jury grâce à des mouvements de danse acrobatique et un costume de scène détonant*, ont annoncé les organisateurs finlandais.
Originaire de Paris, Sylvain Quimene -Gunther Love de son nom de scène- a conquis la première place de cette compétition qui consiste à mimer de façon dérisoire* la gestuelle d’un guitariste, le tout sans guitare. La compétition, qui s’est tenue dans la ville d’Oulu, dans le Nord de la Finlande, a récompensé le Français pour ses prouesses* acrobatiques  et ses solos de guitare imaginaires. Âgé de 28 ans, le Français avait, pour l’occasion, revêtu un costume léopard moulant* et doré. Sa performance lui a valu de récolter 35,1 points et de terminer devant l’ancien champion, l’Américain Graig Billmeir qui a obtenu la deuxième place. Les participants avaient 60 secondes pour exécuter une chanson de leur choix du répertoire rock ou heavy métal, en prétendant l’interpréter sans aucun instrument.
Le jury a décerné* des notes à chaque candidat en fonction du choix de la musique, de la présence scénique, de la prouesse technique et de l’impression artistique.
D’après Presse Papiers,
Mai, juin, juillet 2010

Air-conditioned clothes in Japan

Air-conditioned jacket - clothes in Japan
A damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, severely limiting Japan’s power supply, has forced the country to reduce power usage. With restricted use of electricity, many people are looking for alternative ways to cool off in the hot Japanese summer. Hiroshi Ichigaya, engineer and president of the Japanese company "Kuchofuku", meaning air-conditioned clothing in Japanese, has invented a must for hot summers: the “Kuchofuku” jacket. The idea of “personal air-conditioning” struck Ichigaya in the 1990s, when he worked for Sony, trying to invent an air conditioner that would use little electricity. “It came to me that we don’t need to cool the entire room, just as long as people in it feel cool,” he said.
Kuchofuku jackets come equipped with a pair of battery-operated fans which draw air in, giving the jacket a puffed-up look. Ichigaya says the constant breeze inside the jacket helps evaporate all the sweat and creates a personal cooling system in the process. The goal is not to lower temperatures outside the body but expand the body's comfort zone, and eliminate the need for energy-consuming air conditioners.
Ichigaya's first collection only featured the standard air-conditioned jacket, but his collection has slowly expanded, along with the company. The Kuchofuku catalog now features air-conditioned cushions, shirts and pants, with fans installed in each pocket. Nearly 1,000 companies in Japan use Kuchofuku, including automobile giants, steelmakers, food companies and construction firms. The shirts and jackets are far from fashionable, but demand for them is soaring because they are not just economical. They also help boost worker productivity and aid in the fight against global warming.


Cover of Journey of Hope - The Story of Irish Immigration to America
By Kerby Miller - Ed. Chronicle Books 
My great-grandfather was born in Ireland in 1842. His father was a fisherman who died at sea. That's all I know about this period of his life. When he was nineteen, he and his older brother made their way to the United States. I often think about what he left behind in Ireland during the country's worst famine; I am sure that there was poverty all around them. If his family survived, there is no historical record. It must have been a hard journey across the ocean leaving his mother, brothers and sisters, perhaps forever. It is the tears of the immigrants that made the green fields of the USA.
My Irish ancestor somehow managed to work long and hard enough to buy a small farm in rural Indiana. He married a girl in Illinois, eventually raising ten children. He became active in rural township politics and proudly became an American citizen.

Twitter and Facebook at school

Twitter, Facebook and other social media
A school in Taunton has begun teaching 13- and 14-year-old pupils about how to avoid defaming people on Twitter, Facebook and other social media.
Earlier this year, Lord McAlpine announced he would sue some Twitter users after being inaccurately connected to allegations of child abuse.
Media coverage of the McAlpine case prompted Taunton teachers to extend teaching on the use of the internet and social media, which falls into one section of the national curriculum. “The scheme began with lessons on basic internet safety”, said Carol Manley, senior teacher at the school. “We then realised that actually this was becoming quite a serious issue with things like parties on Facebook, the traps students can so easily fall into”.
The decision was made to teach pupils in year nine the basics of defamation, not least how to avoid being chased for compensation.
Manley said: “Of course, celebrities tweeting the wrong thing is in a different league to us, but it highlights how easily you can get something horribly wrong. It’s a good opportunity for us to say to the children, look, even something that starts off as a joke or something silly can actually get you into trouble. They’re also being taught to not even post anything like that.”“If you wouldn’t say something to a person’s face nor in front of me or your parents, then don’t say it.That’s the key bit that we try to get across to them. Pupils have to be aware that anyone can be defamed”, she added.
Adapted from an article by Peter Walker,, 26 December 2012

Halloween in Hollywood

Famous image of Poltergeist's child sitting in front of the TV
Poltergeist  by Steven Spielberg, Universal Studios 1982
All Hallows Eve is the night when witches and fairies traditionally dance in the moonlight, and when old superstitions come to the surface. But Halloween is also the night when television and cinema screens serve thrillers and horrors, a new tradition of demons, vampires and ghosts.
A sinister legend circulates Hollywood that these subjects, even on film, can be dangerous. The Poltergeist trilogy tells a terrifying tale of how the Freeling family is tormented by a group of demons which try to possess their five-year-old daughter, and in the process destroy their house. In Poltergeist II the demons return to the Freelings’ new home, and they turn for help to Taylor, a native Indian medicine man, or “shaman.”
During the filming., there were strange happenings. For instance, one of the actors would regularly return home and find the pictures on the walls had been moved. Another one died very young, after a long battle with stomach cancer. Finally, the actor who played Taylor, a shaman in real life too, exorcised the studio. When the shooting was over, the director said with relief: “I am convinced that the presence of a shaman on this film saved us all from tragedy.” However, the shaman himself died before the film was even released.

Death sites: How to log in your afterlife

Why so serious? Death sites: How to log in your afterlife
Lately a lot of websites (,,…) have sprung up offering to help users to solve a particular modern problem: what happens to your web presence when you die? In the past, a person’s legacy used to include a collection of letters and other personal papers; now it is more likely to include thousands of e-mails, tweets, blogs and online records.
The average internet user, with online banking facilities, Facebook and Twitter profiles, and internet based photos, blogs and e-mail accounts can now receive help in order to prepare “their posthumous online footprint”. The new sites promise to store safely data such as e-mail account passwords, online banking codes and “goodbye videos” to be sent only to nominated friends or relatives in the event of a death.
These websites require that customers either pay an annual fee or buy a “lifetime membership” to keep the information, which is stored in new online legacy depositories. After a death, the online archive is opened by beneficiaries exclusively. These websites have many ways of certifying the death of their users: The Deathswitch website sends out regular e-mails to check that users are still alive. If a series of messages receive no response, the site contracts qualified people (or experts) called “verifiers” that make sure that the missing person is dead, before making his/her stored information available.
Facebook website now offers a “memorial status” where deceased former users have their profiles free from features such as accepting new friend’s requests, and only previously accepted friends can see the profile. But it remains open to posts from mourning friends.
Neither Facebook nor e-mail providers such as Microsoft Hotmail and Google Gmail will give out the passwords of deceased former users. But Microsoft will provide authentic relatives with a CD of the late user’s e-mails; and Gmail allows close relatives access only to specific messages in a deceased person’s account. For that matter, relatives must provide copies of a death certificate, details of the content of the e-mails required and proof of legal right to access.
The American businessman Jeremy Toeman set up Legacy Locker, which is a website that promises to pass on “digital property” after death. Mr Toeman defines his website as a safe depository for vital digital property that allows access to online accounts for accepted friends and close relatives in the event of death. The idea occurred to him after his grandmother died. “I tried to get into her Hotmail account, as I wanted to contact people to let them know” said Mr Toeman. “But I couldn’t gain access”.
Responses to the new “death sites” are split. John Kay, 68, is a Facebook user but confesses that he wouldn’t sign up to a death service because he doesn’t keep anything confidential online. However, Stephen Marcus, 23, said: “I don’t mind people looking through my e-mails or Facebook when I die. And I’m seriously thinking about the idea of a posthumous video. It could be a nice gesture.”
In the end, all these sites are just trying to do us a pretty good favour, that is, they are likely to solve one of the most important mysteries in the history of humanity: how to be eternal.
Text adapted from The Times

Trick or treat! It's Halloween

Halloween stories - Trick or treat! It's HalloweenChildren celebrate Halloween around the world on the night of October 31st. They go out in macabre costumes of ghosts, witches or skeletons to knock on their neighbours' doors and shout "Trick or treat!" The neighbours must give them sweets; otherwise, the children will play tricks on them. Halloween is big business in the United States where people spend around seven billion dollars each year on Halloween products. Theme parks like Disneyland hold week-long festivals and many cities have parades. New York's Village Halloween Parade attracts two million people who celebrate in the streets, dressed in stunning costumes. The tradition is strongest in the United States, but interest is growing in Europe.
Actually, Halloween originated in Europe as a Celtic New Year celebration. For the Irish, in the Celtic calendar, October 3lst was Samhain, a pagan festival. The Celts believed that the dead returned to possess the living during that night, and so they opened their doors and provided food to the wandering good souls and wore costumes to scare off the evil ones.

Cash rains down from skies

Cash rains down from skies
The people who were at Lewes Harbor (Delaware, USA) on the evening of August 17 got lucky because there and then $10,000 dropped from the sky. A helicopter flew above the marina for around five minutes dropping $50, $20, $10 and $5 bills on the amazed and appreciative crowd.
Anthony Guzzetti, a bartender at the marina, said he sprinted for the cash with about 50 other people. It was so strange that he thought: “Is this happening?” Guzzetti said he collected about $100. He also said he saw people swimming to grab notes that had landed in the water. Waiter Mark Tappan said, “I was eating chicken wings and watching money fall from the clouds”.
Lewes police said they were aware of the planned event and had sent an officer to the area to make sure there was no fighting. However, there was no dispute or arguing, and some people were fortunate enough to leave with as much as $700.
This bizarre act of kindness came courtesy of a Lewes resident, Leonard Maull, who had died the year before. His lawyer made sure the plan he had written into his will was carried out accordingly: exactly on the first anniversary of his death, the money should be dropped from a helicopter flying over the marina, which he apparently used to visit at least once a day.
Whatever reason Maull had for his unique gift, it certainly brought excitement to the people in Lewes. Unfortunately, no one got any pictures of the event because they were too busy finding free money – so those who were there had to rely on their storytelling skills to capture the moment.

Mobile phones in social life

Wedding figures talking on the phoneTen year ago, everybody was getting home after work to a fixed answerphone and nobody ever left a message. Now, everywhere you look – on trains, on buses, in shopping centres, in restaurants, at wedding receptions – what a miracle! What a transformation! So many people talking away into their mobile phones. Connected at last!
However, on some special occasions, from just a meeting of two friends to a funeral, mobile phones can be the enemy. They mean that people are not joining in, they’re imposing, they’re disrupting. It would have been better if they’d brought a book with them, which they could get with quietly in a corner. SWITCH THEM OFF. Liberate yourself. The missed call won’t be someone saying your house has burnt down. If you can’t control yourself, “check” your phone out of sight of the others, in the toilets, perhaps.
It’s perfectly obvious – but how often does it happen? – if you really have to either make or receive an urgent call during a social occasion, you should explain the situation to the others at the outset. When the time comes, remove yourself from the scene to deal with the call. Whatever you do, apologise.
And now, here is an appeal to the good, too-silent majority. Don’t put up with it. Don’t suffer in silence. If you come across some rude mobile phone addicts, don’t hesitate to interrupt and ask them to move away, to switch off. If they are passengers in your car, stop, ask them to get out, especially if it’s raining.

Are mobile phones dangerous?

Human body - mobile phone
Photo: Reuters
Are mobile phones dangerous to your health? It is difficult to know for sure. Some researchers suggest that heavy users of mobile phones are at a greater risk of developing brain tumours. Nevertheless, many other studies suggest there are no links between cancer and mobile phone use. Over three billion people use mobile phones on a daily basis, and many talk for more than an hour a day. Mobile phone antennas are similar to microwave ovens. While both rely on electromagnetic radiation, the radio waves in mobile phones are lower in radio frequency (RE). Microwave ovens have enough RE to cook food and are known to be dangerous to human tissues. However, the concern is that the lower frequency radio waves that mobile phones rely on may also be dangerous. Some researchers believe that other types of wireless technology may also be dangerous to human health, including laptops, cordless phones, and gaming consoles. They say that many cordless phones emit dangerous levels of Electromagnetic Radiation (ER) even when they are not in use. They even suggest keeping electronic devices, such as computers and alarm clocks, out of bedrooms, or at least 1.8 metres from your pillow. Besides, a growing number of health professionals recommend that children and teens, whose brains are still developing, use mobile phones only for emergencies. Concerned medical experts use the example of tobacco to illustrate the potential risks. Many years ago, people smoked freely and were not aware of the effects of cigarettes on their health. Today, people know that cigarettes cause lung cancer, though it is still unknown exactly how or why. Some doctors fear that the same thing will happen with devices such as mobiles.

Where does Dracula come from?

Mirada de Nosferatu, el vampiro
Image from Linkmesh
The English seaside town of Whitby is a fishing port which has changed little for the past 300 years. Critics say that it was this picturesque town, with the imposing ruins of a thirteenth-century abbey perched on a promontory, which gave the writer Bram Stoker the idea for his world-famous book Dracula. The writer, his wife and his son spent the summer of 1890 in Whitby, while he was probably engaged in planning the novel.
Dracula, published in 1897, is the story of a vampire from Transylvania who travelled to England. When his ship was damaged in a terrible storm, Dracula – the vampire – jumped to land at Whitby in the shape of a huge dog. Stoker, the author, is known to have consulted books on legends from Transylvania, Moldavia, and the Carpathians at the local library at Whitby and later in the British Library in London.
The Dracula of Transylvanian legend appears to originate from Vlad Dracul II, Prince of Walachia (1456-1476), known for his prodigious cruelties both to enemies – the invading Turks – and his own people.

Facebook generation suffers from information withdrawal syndrome

girl unplugged
In an experiment, called “Unplugged”, volunteers at 12 universities around the world spent 24 hours without access to computers, mobile phones, iPods, television, radio and even newspapers. They were allowed to use landline telephones or read books. Participants were asked to keep diaries about their experience. Entries in the diaries showed that many recorded feeling impatient, anxious or isolated.
Participants described feeling restless and reaching for their mobile phones even when they weren't there. There were also some good effects though, as people developed survival skills and went out for walks and visited friends rather than sitting in front of a computer.
“What was amazing for us was how dependent people now are on their technology. People often don't own watches or alarm clocks because they rely upon their mobile phones to wake themselves up," researchers commented. Most participants in the study struggled without their mobile phones and felt they were missing out by not using Facebook. However, it was abstinence from music that caused them the most difficulty. "A lot of them said they found the silence quite uncomfortable and awkward," he said. "But as they got used to it, they began to notice more things around them like birds singing or hearing what their neighbours were doing. In their reflections on what they had been through, people freely admitted that they were experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. The students compared the experience to going on a diet or giving up smoking radically. The word addiction kept recurring."
More info: The world unplugged

Insignia Test-it examen resueltoEXAMEN RESUELTO


Exams come to the bedroom

Young girl using the computer in bedThe US firm Software Secure Inc. has developed a new system that allows students to take tests from their bedrooms at any time of day or night. The University of Wales is already experimenting with this technology and dozens of others will be offered the service this summer. The system works through a unit that students plug into their computers and it incorporates software to prevent students from cheating.
Once a student feels ready to take the written exam, the technology takes a fingerprint to check his/her identity and a 360-degree webcam and microphone check that the student is not trying to cheat by receiving help from others. The computer also locks network access so that the student cannot search the internet for answers.
"The program acts in the same way as a normal invigilator. However, there are still some questions over whether a student would be able to cheat and how it would be possible, logistically, to use the system with thousands of students," said Mark Pelling, a senior administrator at the university.

Tablets to beat desktop sales

Teenager using a tablet
Tablet computers are set to beat bulky desktops for the first time this year, according to research. Millions are replacing their old-fashioned computers with slimline, touchscreen gadgets.
Sales of tablets such as Apple's iPad and Google’s Nexus are about to overtake the type of computers that introduced the internet to the masses, said the International Data Corporation (IDC).The IDC said 128 million tablets were sold last year worldwide, an increase of nearly 80 per cent in 2011.The trend represents a rapid transformation in computer use, just three years after Apple introduced the iPad. And the growth in sales is forecast to continue, meaning tablets will overtake desktops in months and outsell laptops by the end of next year.
Experts said that computers are seen as a device for work, but tablets are preferred for leisure activities, such as surfing the web and watching videos. Technology researcher Martin Garner, from CCS Insight, said: “People are using the money they previously used to replace a PC to buy a tablet. In the long term, nearly every person will have their own tablet.”
The battle for domination of the mobile and tablet market has become intense in the past 18 months, with Apple’s competitors taking it on with a series of new products. Nokia and Microsoft joined forces to launch two new phones which run on the Windows operating system. Apple registered figures for the Christmas period that showed its rocket-like growth had come to a standstill.
Daily Mail, 29 March 2013

American obesity problem

Obese man with American flagThe U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that about six out of ten Americans were either overweight or obese. Furthermore, the prevalence of obesity almost doubled from about 15 percent in 1980 to 27 percent in 1999. Dr. J. McGinnis said the current weight statistics predict future problems. 'Obesity now will lead to a higher number of deaths from diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer, and increased prevalence of osteoarthritis."
The CDC noted that most schools have vending machines or snack bars including foods that are largely nutrient-poor and calorie-rich. People are also less likely to cook for themselves these days. Roughly half of all meals are consumed outside the home and many of these are from fast foods. "We have become year-by-year an increasingly sedentary society," McGinnis said. "People used to enjoy walking a half-mile or a quarter-mile but now they take the car to go across the street. And instead of walking or playing sports during free time, children sit in front of the TV or computer.

Caffeine and alcohol potent mix for young

Caffeine and alcohol potent mix for young
Mixing alcohol and caffeine is hardly a new concept, but a series of cases involving students and others who were taken to hospitals after drinking beverages that combine the two in a single large can has alarmed college and health officials around the country. The drinks are dangerous, doctors say, because the caffeine masks the effects of the alcohol, keeping consumers from realizing just how intoxicated they are.
A brand called Four Loko, a fruit-flavored malt beverage that has an alcohol content of 12 percent and as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, has been particularly criticized after students who drank it this fall at Ramapo College in New Jersey ended up in emergency rooms, some with high levels of alcohol poisoning.
‘This is one of the most dangerous new alcohol mixtures I have ever seen,’ said an emergency room doctor at Lancaster General Hospital, who said he had treated more than a dozen teenagers and adults over the last three months who had been brought there after drinking Four Loko. ‘It's a recipe for disaster because your body's natural defense is to ge sleepy and not want to drink, but in this case you're tricking the body with the caffeine.’

Elvis lives!

Young Elvis playing the guitar
He was the rock legend known as The King, she was a school-girl who loved him tender and swooned at the mere mention of his name. Now, thirty-nine years after she wrote to Elvis Presley promising to marry him when she grew up, Karen Golz has learned that her idol did not have a wooden heart. In a message from beyond the grave, his reply finally arrived.
It was as her 11th birthday approached in 1960 that Karen wrote to Elvis, who was serving as an American GI(1) in Germany. In a letter posted to the house where he was staying, she wrote: “Dear Elvis, It’s my birthday soon and if you send me your autograph I promise I will marry you when I grow up.”
Anxious not to disappoint his young fan, he wrote a note back, scrawling her name and address in Germany, on the envelope. Inside, the note said: “Dear Karen, May you have a very happy 11th birthday —and a lot of Teddy Bears. Your friend, Elvis.”
He gave the stamped and addressed envelope to his landlady to post. But she mislaid it and the letter lay undiscovered until the woman died. It was only when her family was cleaning out the house that the memento was rediscovered. Even though they realised its value to collectors, they donated the letter to the local Elvis Presley society.

Amphibians may soon disappear

Red eyed tree frog
Source: Swami Atma
The Chinese calendar says 2008 is the year of the Rat, but according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), 2008 should be the Year of the Frog. The reason is that frogs are disappearing from our planet at an alarming rate and, in a few years, they may all be extinct.
In August 2007, more than 230 delegates representing zoos and aquariums from 35 countries gathered in Hungary to sign a petition, calling on governments to help preserve amphibian life. This marks the first time that zoos and aquariums have initiated a global call to action on behalf of an endangered class of animals. Their concern is that one-third to one-half of all species of frogs are in danger of becoming extinct in the near future — which would be the largest mass extinction since the disappearance of the dinosaurs.
About 4,000 species of amphibians exist worldwide and most of them are frogs and toads. The term amphibian comes from the Greek amphibios and means double life, referring to the fact that they begin life in the water as tadpoles and gradually transform themselves into land dwelling creatures with legs. Frogs are "cold-blooded" and rely on the environment to regulate their body temperature. The skin of a frog is moistened by the secretion of numerous mucous glands and plays a vital part in the frog's water balance, respiration and protection. But since the skin is highly permeable to water, it also makes them highly susceptible to environmental changes.
Doug Porter, 2 April 2008 -

Solomon's real mine discovered?

King Solomon's real mine discovered
In a discovery straight out of an Indiana Jones movie, archaeologists believe they have uncovered one of the lost mines of King Solomon. The vast copper mine lies in an arid valley and was created in the 10th century BC ―around the time Solomon is believed to have ruled over the ancient Hebrews. The mines are enormous and would have generated a huge income for the king, who is famed for bringing extraordinary wealth and stability to the newly-united kingdom of Israel and Judah.
According to the Bible, Solomon was the third king of Israel and ruled for 40 years, between 965 BC and 925 BC. The son of King David ―of the David and Goliath story― and Queen Bathsheba, Solomon was renowned for his wisdom, his writings and the size of his harem. During his reign, Israel was at the heart of a prosperous and stable empire. He rebuilt Jerusalem, creating magnificent palaces and fortresses. He is said to have accumulated a huge fortune from mining and trading, some of which was spent on building the grand temple and opulent palace of Jerusalem.
Archaeologists and treasure-hunters have searched for the mines in Africa since 1885. This is because the best-selling Victorian novel, King Solomon's Mines, was set in this continent. Besides, it claimed they could hold a treasure of gold and diamonds. But now, it seems the real mines could have been closer to Solomon’s kingdom, and, in fact, supplied the king with copper. The ancient mine was found in a desolate region south of the Dead Sea in modern-day Jordan in an area called Khirbat en-Nahas, which means 'ruins of copper' in Arabic.

Teen spirit: The secret life of Britain's teenage boys

Air Cadets - Teen spirit: The secret life of Britain's teenage boys
Nasif Mugisha lives in South London. He is full of life, seems kind, likes to run, and looks a little scary in his cadet’s uniform. Actually, Nas wants to join the Air Forces. He has wanted to be a pilot ever since he was four and first flew in a plane. At 15, he is already thinking ahead to a degree and career when all his friends talk of the pressure of exams. In the early evening, after Nas’s mum, Sophia, has made some delicious noodles, Nas and his friends go to the park.
Adults move out of the way, often giving them hostile looks. The boys feel empowered, but also annoyed at the adults’ reaction.
At 7.30 am every Sunday, whether sunny or cold, Nas stacks his newspaper trolley with copies of the local paper. “It can be very depressing when the weather is bad, delivering all those papers through the wind and the rain. But at times it’s really good.” Two years ago when he started he was paid £20 for delivering the papers, now it’s just £10 or £15 on a good day. “They don’t call us newspaper boys any more,” says Nas, “we’re called walkers. I call myself a newspaper distribution expert.”
Nas’s mother was born in Uganda, his father in Rwanda. They divorced when he was three, and yet he considers himself fortunate—both parents remarried and now he’s got two great sets of families. “My mum confides in me. When I was a child, certain things happened and mum would say, ‘Ah, you’re too young to know.’ Now that I’m older, she tells me everything.” Nas talks more formally than most of his friends; he uses full sentences and only a little slang. “There are expectations of how a teenage boy will talk and act—especially a black teenage boy,” he says.
And he adds, “African parents want you to do well and they always push you to speak properly.”
Nas is more confident than he was at primary school. “It all changed when I joined the cadets.” He learned practical skills such as map-reading and ironing. “At school, the older you get, the more fixed groups become,” he says. Because he is so busy with extracurricular activities, Nas feels left out at times. “At school there is the cool group, and then lots of other groups. The cool kids are really the ones who never make progress at school. Many of them drink and take drugs. I’d say a third of them either smoke or drink.” Nas says he doesn’t drink or smoke at all.
Why doesn’t he? “First of all, I’m Muslim. But also, I don’t see the point. I think if you’re an interesting enough person you can be interesting at a party without alcohol.”
On Monday evening Nas goes to Air Cadets; he has to take two buses and then walk. He is pleased because his group finished third out of 15 in last week’s athletics competition. They put in so much time and effort that tonight, as a reward, they don’t have to wear their uniform. Nas will give a map-reading lesson to the junior cadets, some of whom are actually older than him, and they are all extremely disciplined. The group is racially mixed, and yet the kids appear to be colour blind, as they line up orderly to salute the picture of the Queen. Nas appears to be more mature and prepared for adult life than earlier generations of teenagers. In a strange way, maybe society’s demonisation of teen boys has made them grow up more quickly.
Text adapted from The Guardian

Can Africa be saved?

Graphic desing of Africa's problemsAfrica is the earth’s second-largest continent. With a population of approximately 1 billion, it is also the world’s second most crowded continent, accounting for 15 percent of the global population.
Those who travel to Africa are captivated by its beauty. From majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, to the exotic savannas of the Serengeti, to the giant Great Rift Valley, to beautiful Lake Victoria, to the mighty Nile River, to the imposing pyramids, to the beauty of Table Mountain, Africa leaves a permanent mark on many visitors. It has both the world’s longest river and largest desert. Dozens of animals not typically found elsewhere abound in Africa. It is simply a unique continent.
Furthermore, Africa is fabulously rich in natural resources, more than any other continent. It has 50 percent of the world’s gold and diamonds, along with large unexploited oil reserves. Its fertile fields have the potential to feed not only itself, but also many other countries. Its lakes and rivers are capable of producing 40 percent of the world’s supply of hydroelectric power. Moreover, Africa’s massive rainforests have the potential for maintaining or destroying the equilibrium of the earth’s atmosphere and ecology. For example, massive deforestation could destroy the world’s ozone layer and affect negatively Earth’s climate.
Yet, despite these riches, most Africans live in societies troubled by war, instability, corruption, poverty, hunger, disease and early deaths. The United Nations said that Africa has the largest number of poor countries of any continent. Tragically, as many as 50 percent of Africans live on less than $1.25 a day. Wars devastate the continent. Since 1981, at least 28 nations in sub-Saharan Africa have been at war. Deadly diseases like AIDS and malaria cause devastation throughout nations.
The world’s richest countries have provided billions of dollars in aid, but with no effect. Indeed, Africa is poorer now than when it first achieved independence from the colonial powers some 50 years ago. As the international community considers the dilemmas of this troubled continent, the question must be asked: “Can Africa be saved?”

Linkshänder - Die Welt falsch konstruiert

Barack Obama - Linkshänder - Die Welt falsch konstruiert
Nicht nur Barack Obama macht alles mit links. Experten schätzen, dass die linke Hand bei etwa zehn bis 20 Prozent der Weltbevölkerung dominant ist. Doch immer noch scheitern deutsche Schüler wegen Linkshändigkeit.
Am Computer sitzt der Ziffernblock auf der falschen Seite. Am Geldautomaten wird der 5 Karteneinschub zur akrobatischen Fingerübung. Und aus der Gitarre wollen keine harmonischen Klänge herauskommen. Wenn es um das Bedienen technischer Geräte und das Spielen von Instrumenten geht, fühlen sich Linkshänder bisweilen, als ob sie gleich zwei linke Hände hätten. Ihr Problem: Fast alle Automaten, aber auch sämtliches Werkzeug oder Musikinstrumente sind für Rechtshänder konstruiert. Auf Benachteiligungen im Alltag, die für Linkshänder bestehen, 10 macht der Weltlinkshändertag an diesem Donnerstag aufmerksam.

Alltagshürden eines Linkshänders 

Die Diskriminierung von Linkshändern fange schon in der Kindheit an, sagt Matthias Wüstefeld. Er ist Linkshänder, wurde jedoch in der Grundschule wie viele andere linkshändigen Kinder gezwungen, mit rechts zu schreiben. Erst vor knapp zehn Jahren – im Alter von 43 – begann Wüstefeld, sich auf seine eigentlich dominante Hand zurückzuschulen. Heute werde ihm 15 schwindlig, wenn er mit rechts schreiben müsse, sagt er. Beruflich hat Wüstefeld als Feinmechaniker begonnen. Doch die für Rechtshänder konstruierten Maschinen und Werkzeuge ließen ihn an seine motorischen Grenzen stoßen. Wüstefeld sattelte um, studierte Sozialpädagogik und betreibt heute in Münster eine von bundesweit 76 Beratungsstellen für Linkshänder. 20

Mit links mehr Schulerfolg

Vor zwei Jahren erschien Alexandra Marschner mit ihrem Sohn Felix in der Beratungsstelle. Felix hatte damals erhebliche Probleme, in der Grundschule mitzukommen, erzählt Marschner: „Felix war immer sehr unkonzentriert.“ Dass ihr Sohn es nach der Grundschule auf das Gymnasium schaffen würde, daran hatten sie und ihr Mann schon fast nicht mehr geglaubt. „Wir haben zu Felix gesagt, wenn er es auf die Hauptschule schafft, ist das gut.“ 25 Inzwischen ist von Hauptschule keine Rede mehr. Nach den Sommerferien geht es für Felix am Gymnasium weiter. Innerhalb von zwei Jahren hat der Elfjährige einen erstaunlichen Leistungsschub hingelegt – nach Überzeugung der Eltern ist die 2007 begonnene Rückschulung ihres Sohnes auf links der Grund.

Lehrer sind nicht ausreichend geschult 

Felix sei kein Einzelfall, erklärt Wüstefeld. Viele Kinder blühten regelrecht auf, wenn sie damit 30 begännen, ihre dominante Hand zu gebrauchen. Sie gewännen an Selbstsicherheit und fühlten sich ausgeglichener. Im Gegenzug bringe das zwangsweise Drillen auf rechts gravierende Probleme mit sich: „Mögliche Primärfolgen sind Konzentrationsschwierigkeiten, Lese- und Rechtschreibschwächen oder auch Sprachstörungen wie Stottern.“ All dies könne dazu führen, dass sich die Kinder immer weiter zurückzögen oder sozial auffällig würden. Auch Inkontinenz sei 35 eine mögliche Auswirkung. Viele Jahrzehnte wurden linkshändige Kinder in deutschen Schulen zum Gebrauch der rechten Hand erzogen. „Noch bis vor Kurzem stand in den Lehrplänen einiger Bundesländer, dass Lehrer versuchen sollen, leicht linkshändigen Kindern das Schreiben mit rechts beizubringen“, beklagt Wüstefeld. Inzwischen werde das Problem in der Lehrerausbildung zwar behandelt, allerdings 40 nur stiefmütterlich.

Aufstand lohnt

Eine gezielte Förderung von linkshändigen Kindern finde etwa in Nordrhein-Westfalen nicht statt. „In Düsseldorf ist man der Ansicht, eine solche Förderung braucht man nicht im Lehrplan. Die Lehrer wüssten, was zu tun ist, und andere Sachen seien wichtiger“, kritisiert Wüstefeld. NRW sei aber nicht das einzige Bundesland, das hinterherhinke. Ganz anders sehe der Lehrplan von 45 Bayern aus. Dieser sei in Bezug auf die Förderung von Linkshändern sehr gut. Die noch immer allumfassende Dominanz der Rechtshänder erklärt der Münsteraner Experte mit dem Unvermögen der Linkshänder, sich Gehör zu verschaffen. „Das Problem der Linkshänder ist, dass sie es nicht schaffen, sich als Gruppe zusammenzutun und zu sagen, wir legen jetzt mal alle unsere Probleme auf den Tisch. Auch viele Linkshänder meinten: ‚Ach, dafür lohnt sich doch 50 der Aufstand nicht.´“

London restaurants

A. Anchor & Hope

Great things at friendly prices come from the open kitchen at this packed, no-reservations, leading gastropub on the Cut in Waterloo: pot-roast duck and chicken pithivier (puff pastry pie) are two standouts. It's cramped, informal, and highly original, and there are great dishes for groups, like slow-roasted leg of lamb. Expect to share a table, too.

Gordon Ramsay B. Boxwood Café

Attached to the Berkeley and in the Gordon Ramsay stable, the Boxwood is the best uptown but relaxed place to dine in Knightsbridge, with opulent marble, brown, and greens. The New Yorkstyle restaurant is open late (until midnight Thursday-Saturday) and set lunch is useful at £28. Favorite dishes range from Orkney scallops to yellowfin tuna, and veal burger to treacle tart. Service is top-notch, and you'll find a fashionable buzz.

C. Great Queen Street

Expect crowds and a buzz at Covent Garden's leading gastropub that showcases classic British dishes in a burgundy and bare oak-floor-and-table setting. Old-fashioned dishes like pressed tongue, mackerel and gooseberry, and mussels and chips may be revived from a bygone era, but Londoners adore them. Dishes for the whole table—like venison pie or seven-hour shoulder of lamb—are highly convivial. There's little for nonmeat eaters, and no dinner Sunday.

D. Skylon

Located in the Royal Festival Hall, Skylon is the Southbank Centre's destination restaurant/bar/grill. Spacious, attractive, and with huge picture windows with spectacular views of the Thames, Skylon guarantees a classy pre- or post-performance meal in the '50s Festival Hall.
Against a background of dancing and music, concertgoers sip lush cocktails at the central bar and dine on lamb and harissa at the grill, or Anjou pigeon, spelt risotto, and sea bass with bok choy in the restaurant. The food is accomplished, and the setting impressive.

E. Yauatcha

It's a superbly lighted slinky Soho classic. Well designed by Christian Liaigre—with black granite floors, aquarium, candles, and a starry ceiling—the food is a match for the seductive setting.
There's wicked dim sum (try prawns or scallops), crispy duck rolls, silver cod, fancy cocktails, and tea and colorful cakes in the first-floor tearoom. Note the quick table turns, and ask to dine in the more romantic basement at night.

F. Cecconi's

Enjoy all-day buzz at this Italian brasserie opposite the Royal Academy on Burlington Gardens.
Between Savile Row and New Bond Street, clients pitch up for breakfast, brunch, and Italian tapas (cichetti) at the bar, and return for something more substantial later on. Ilse Crawford's green-andbrown interior is a stylish background for classics like veal Milanese, Venetian calves' liver, and tiramisu. Note: it's a nice pit stop during a shopping spree.

G. Scott's

Scott's is so hot that it's where the A-list go to celebrate. Founded in 1851, and recently renovated and reborn as a glamorous seafood haven and oyster bar, it draws beautiful people who pick at Cumbrae oysters, Red Sea prawns, and Stargazy pie. Standouts like cod with chorizo and padron peppers are to die for. Prices are high, but you're dining at the hippest joint in town.

H. Tayyabs

City finance boys, Asians, and medics from the Royal London Hospital swamp this high-turnover halal Pakistani curry canteen in Whitechapel. Expect queues after dark, and bear in mind it's BYOB, jam-packed, noisy, and mildly chaotic. Nonetheless, prices are dirt cheap and you can gorge on minced meat shami kebabs, skewed beef seekh kebabs, karahi chicken, or marinated lamb chops.

Stress am Arbeitsplatz

Stress am Arbeitsplatz
TEIL 1. Laut einer OECD-Studie leidet jeder fünfte Arbeitnehmer unter psychischen Erkrankungen. Immer mehr Unternehmen suchen daher nach Ansätzen, um ihren Beschäftigten bei seelischen Belastungen, bei Stress und Überforderung beizustehen.

TEIL 2. "Ich denke, heute ist es so, dass der Erschöpfte den Gebrechlichen ersetzt," sagt Andrea Gensel. Mit Erschöpfung am Arbeitsplatz kennt sich die 48-Jährige aus. Vor zehn Jahren hat sich die gelernte Betriebspsychologin mit einer Personalberatung für Führungskräfte selbstständig gemacht. Am Anfang ging es in ihren Seminaren noch hauptsächlich um arbeitstechnische Fragen: "Wie komme ich in Verkaufsgesprächen überzeugend rüber, wie löse ich Konflikte mit Mitarbeitern?" Im Laufe der Zeit aber hat sich das geändert: "Und wir haben schon vor fünf Jahren ganz deutlich in meinem Unternehmen bemerkt, dass immer wieder Fragen in dem Bereich der psychischen Störungen auftauchten, dass das Coaching kein technisches Coaching unbedingt mehr war, also wie gestalte ich meine Arbeitszeit optimaler, sondern das waren immer mehr psychologische Themen."

TEIL 3. Als sich Krankheitsbilder wie Burn-out und Depression häuften und viele ihrer Kunden mit dem Wunsch nach einer psychologischen Einzelberatung zu ihr kamen, erkannte Andrea Gensel die Marktlücke und reagierte. 2009 gründete sie das Unternehmen CarpeDiem24. Sein Angebot nennt sich externe Mitarbeiterberatung. Das Prinzip: Ein Arbeitgeber schließt einen Vertrag mit CarpeDiem24 und zahlt eine monatliche Pauschale. Im Gegenzug können alle seine Angestellten eine Hotline wählen und sich von geschultem Fachpersonal am Telefon psychologisch beraten lassen. Bis zu vierundzwanzig Stunden am Tag, kostenlos und anonym. Egal, wo der Schuh drückt: ob beruflich oder privat. Jeder, der die Hotline wählt, landet erst einmal hier. Da der Service komplett anonym ist, muss der Anrufer bis auf den Namen seines Arbeitgebers keine Angaben machen. Dann wird er zum persönlichen Gespräch an einen der Berater durchgestellt. Für viele, die anrufen, geht es erst einmal darum, sich über ihr Problem selbst klar zu werden. Vertrauen ist das wichtigste Kapital von Andrea Gensel. Und darum wirbt sie. Bei jedem neuen Kunden spricht sie auf der Betriebsversammlung vor allen Mitarbeitern. "Das ist ganz wichtig. Weil so sieht die gesamte Belegschaft ein Gesicht dazu. Die sehen, dass wir bodenständig sind.“ Zum Vertrauen gehört aber auch, dass nichts von den Gesprächen nach außen dringt. Stichwort Datenschutz. Deshalb unterliegen nicht nur alle Berater der Schweigepflicht; auch wer als Journalist über CarpeDiem24 berichtet, muss schriftlich seine Verschwiegenheit versichern. Für die Arbeitgeber gibt es zweimal im Jahr eine Auswertung mit viel statistischem Material. Darin steht dann beispielsweise, wie häufig die Mitarbeiter insgesamt angerufen haben und mit welchen Themen. Rückschlüsse auf konkrete Personen ergeben sich daraus nicht.

TEIL 4. Im Schnitt sind es um die zehn Prozent der Mitarbeiter in einem Unternehmen, die das Angebot von CarpeDiem24 nutzen. Die meisten wegen privater Probleme: Krach in der Ehe, ein plötzlicher Krankheitsfall in der Familie oder Schuldenprobleme - oft sind es ganz konkrete Dinge, von denen sich Menschen überfordert fühlen. Der Anteil der Anrufer mit psychischen Störungen liegt bei insgesamt zwanzig Prozent. Tendenz steigend. "Wir beraten zu Depression, Zwänge, Ängste, psychische Störungen, Suchtprobleme, alles, was das Leben zeigt.“. Doch gerade wenn ein psychisches Störungsbild vorliegt, kommt es vor, dass die telefonische Beratung an ihre Grenzen stößt. Dann hilft nur noch eine Therapie: "Manchmal reichen drei bis fünf Gespräche, um den Menschen wieder stabilisieren zu können und wenn es nicht reicht, das sind zwanzig Prozent der Gespräche, wo wir dann sagen, hier vermitteln wir weiter an niedergelassene psychologische Psychotherapeuten."

TEIL 5. Zu den Kunden von CarpeDiem24 zählt seit Kurzem auch der Schlüsselhersteller Assa Abloy. Das mittelständische Unternehmen mit Sitz in Berlin hat rund vierhundertdreißig Beschäftigte. Für sie nimmt vor allem die Arbeitsdichte immer mehr zu, stellt Personalleiter Alexander Vath fest: "Das merken mit Sicherheit viele Mitarbeiter, dass die Arbeit heutzutage trotz der technischen Verbesserungen, E-Mail etc., nicht einfacher geworden ist, sondern wahrscheinlich schwieriger geworden ist. Die Zeit ist die gleiche, aber es spielt sich einfach viel, viel mehr ab in der gleichen Zeit als früher und das ist das Problem." Für Vath sind deshalb die Unternehmen in der Pflicht, sich mehr um die seelische Gesundheit ihrer Mitarbeiter zu kümmern.

TEIL 6. Anders als in den Vereinigten Staaten gibt es hierzulande noch keine verlässlichen Studien über die Auswirkungen der externen Mitarbeiterberatung. Sichtbar jedoch ist der Erfolg bei den Kunden: 25 Unternehmen mit insgesamt rund 25.000 Beschäftigten betreut Carpe Diem 24 derzeit an seinen Standorten in Lübeck und Hamburg. Der Preis pro Mitarbeiter liegt zwischen 1,10 Euro und 5,80 pro Monat. Je nachdem wie groß ein Unternehmen ist und ob es den Service für den ganzen Tag oder nur für ein paar Stunden bucht.
Kritik an diesem Modell kommt von den Gewerkschaften. Zwar sei die externe Beratung am Telefon durchaus ein sinnvolles Angebot, sagen auch sie. Allerdings nur als ergänzende Maßnahme. Denn die eigentlichen Ursachen von Stress und psychischer Überforderung am Arbeitsplatz beseitige sie nicht. Für Hanns Pauli, Gesundheitsexperte beim Deutschen Gewerkschaftsbund, hilft da nur eins: bessere Arbeitsbedingungen in den Betrieben und die genaue Einhaltung von arbeitsschutzrechtlichen Vorschriften. Eine externe Unterstützungsstruktur sei für die Beschäftigten auf jeden Fall sinnvoll. Aber das ändere nichts daran, dass letztendlich intern auch etwas getan werden muss und dass vor allen Dingen das Thema auch der Gefährdungsbeurteilung maßnahmenorientiert weitergetrieben werde und die Beschäftigten auch gefragt würden, was sich an ihren Arbeitsbedingungen ändern sollte."
Quelle: www.dradio/ firmenporträt

Große Architekten sind nie zufrieden mit der Welt – und das ist gut so

Große Architekten sind nie zufrieden mit der Welt – Jürgen Mayer
Große Architekten sind ihrer Zeit oft voraus. Ihre Entwürfe sind Abbild der Wünsche und Konflikte einer Epoche. So leitete das 1919 in Weimar gegründete Bauhaus mit seiner neuen Sachlichkeit, seinen funktionalen Bauten und Möbeln das Ende einer Zeit ein, die es gern neobarock und verschnörkelt hatte. Für den Architekten Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, der am Bauhaus wirkte, war die Baukunst »der räumliche Ausdruck geistiger Entscheidungen«. Der Architekt Le Corbusier, geboren 1887 in einer kleinen Schweizer Uhrmacherstadt, hat gleich mehrfach versucht, ideale Welten zu bauen. 1947 zum Beispiel hat er die Cité Radieuse entworfen: ein Hochhaus in Marseille, in dem es alles gab, was eine Stadt ausmacht: einen Friseurladen, ein Hotel, einen Supermarkt und auf dem Dach einen Spielplatz mit Blick aufs Mittelmeer.
Es gibt genügend Beispiele dafür, dass Regierungen Architekten engagierten, um ihre politischen Absichten in Bauten zu manifestieren. So entwarf der brasilianische Architekt Oscar Niemeyer für die Regierung irgendwo im Nirgendwo die Hauptstadt Brasilia, mit der sich für Brasilien der Aufbruch in eine neue Zeit verband. Visionen sind wichtig, um die Zukunft zu meistern. Heute suchen Architekten vor allem nach Antworten auf Fragen wie die nach der Erderwärmung oder nach sozialen Ungerechtigkeiten. Niedrigenergiehäuser für Privatleute, aber auch für Firmen werden das Stadtbild in Zukunft prägen. Bekannte Architekten wie Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid oder Jürgen Mayer zeigen, dass in der Architektur oftmals aus visionären Entwürfen Antworten auf die gesellschaftlichen Veränderungen entstehen.

Wenn alle anderen Klassenkameraden mehr haben…

Wenn alle anderen Klassenkameraden mehr haben…
Photo: Xue Jianyue
Ich gehöre in der Klasse zu den Ärmsten, aber den Unterschied zwischen meinen Mitschülern und mir sieht man erst auf den zweiten Blick. Im Gegensatz zu mir haben sie ein iPhone oder benutzen im Unterricht ihr iPad. Viele fahren mit ihrem Motorroller oder sogar einem eigenen Auto zur Schule. Ich selbst bin anderthalb Stunden mit dem Zug unterwegs. Meine Mutter, meine Schwester und ich wohnen in einem Vorort von Frankfurt, weil dort die Mieten billiger sind.
Meine Schule liegt in einer wohlhabenden Gegend, dem Westend in Frankfurt. Dort mache ich nächstes Jahr mein Abitur. Mein Glück ist, dass ich nicht die Einzige bin, deren Familie wenig Geld hat. Es gehen auch Kinder aus dem weniger betuchten Gallus-Viertel auf mein Gymnasium. Armut bedeutet für mich, dass wir uns über alle Anschaffungen Gedanken machen müssen und nie Geld da ist, wenn es für mich drauf ankommt: Für Studienreisen zum Beispiel können meine Mitschüler Angebote in Japan, Rom oder den USA annehmen. Ich kann nur an obligatorischen Klassenfahrten teilnehmen, weil die vom Amt bezahlt werden. Ich muss dann jedes Mal einen sogenannten Beihilfeantrag vom Lehrer unterschreiben lassen. Das ist unangenehm, weil es die anderen oft mitkriegen.
Meine Mutter ist mit Ende Zwanzig als politischer Flüchtling aus dem Iran nach Deutschland gekommen. Weil ihre Zeugnisse hier nicht anerkannt wurden, hat sie ihr Abitur noch einmal gemacht und Soziologie studiert. Vor zwei Jahren hat sie eine Ausbildung zur Erzieherin begonnen und arbeitet nun in Teilzeit an einer Schule.
Insgesamt hat sie so um die 1.100 Euro im Monat für uns drei. Taschengeld ist für uns nicht drin. Mein Zukunftswunsch: Medizin studieren und später bei „Ärzte ohne Grenzen“ im Ausland arbeiten. Ich möchte anderen Menschen helfen und Dinge tun, die mich glücklich machen.
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