Iran nuclear deal: Iran has agreed to reduce its nuclear activity and allow greater access for international inspectors in historic talks in Geneva. In return, the world powers will offer some relief from financial sanctions. The agreement creates a six-month trial period.
25 November 2013
In public, a key step along the path to the deal was the dialogue opened up at this year’s UN General Assembly between President Rouhani and Western nations, after years of the relationship being dominated by whether Iran is, or is not, seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
And – more than 30 years after the US embassy siege in Tehran – September’s fifteen-minute phone conversation between President Obama and Mr Rouhani gave further hope of potential progress towards resolving the nuclear dispute.
But, behind the scenes, it has now been revealed, the US and Iran have been engaged in secret face-to-face talks for months, in Oman and elsewhere. The Associated Press news agency says they were kept hidden even from America’s allies and negotiating partners until two months ago.
It was a high-stakes diplomatic gamble. While Israel argues that the deal reached in Geneva is dangerously skewed in favour of Iran, most of Iran’s Arab neighbours are clearly uneasy too.
But the public and private diplomacy from here on will clearly need to be just as intense – and is likely to face many more severe tests – if a more comprehensive nuclear agreement is to be achieved, and Iran’s relationships in its volatile region and with the rest of the world are to return to normal.
seeking: pursuing; wanting to do something
siege: military operation in which soldiers or police surround a place to stop food and supplies entering, so that the people inside stop fighting and come out
engaged in: involved in
high stakes: high risk
gamble: action which may be very successful but with a risk of failing very badly
skewed: unfair; unbalanced
uneasy: uncomfortable, worried
comprehensive: including many details; covering many aspects
Germany to have minimum wage: Germany is to introduce a national minimum wage. Chancellor Angela Merkel said she’d concede this measure to the Social Democrats with whom she is negotiating to form a coalition government. The move was welcomed by other countries in the Eurozone.
22 November 2013
Chancellor Merkel said she would accept the minimum wage but, in return, would not accede to Social Democrat calls for higher taxes.
The French finance minister welcomed the floor on German pay as a signal of what he saw as a more cooperative German attitude within overall European economic policy.
It is not clear, though, that a German minimum wage would transform the European economic situation. It all depends on what level it is set at, and there is great resistance in Germany to doing anything which would make German exports less attractive.
accede: agree to do what someone else wants
calls: requests; demands
taxes: money that people and businesses pay to the government
signal: sign; indication
resistance: (here) refusal to accept a change or something new
Biggest threat to modern medicine claim: Global health experts have warned that bacteria unaffected by antibiotics are one of the most serious threats to modern medicine. Writing in the medical journal, The Lancet, the experts are calling for people across the world to work together to fight the threat.
18 November 2013
The experts warn we’re at the dawn of a post-antibiotic era. Immediate global action is needed, they say, if dire consequences are to be avoided within just a few years.
This would involve cutting down on the unnecessary prescription of antibiotics and providing incentives to pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs. Research would be needed into how antibiotics in farming affect the growth of drug-resistant strains of bacteria.
The experts warn that without effective antibiotics, treatments ranging from minor surgery to current cancer chemotherapy regimes could become impossible and that deaths from infections in developed countries might return to levels last seen in the early 20th century.
They also say healthcare costs would probably spiral, as we’d be forced to resort to newer, more expensive drugs and stay in hospital for longer when recovering from illness.
post-antibiotic era: period of time when we don’t use antibiotics
dire consequences: seriously bad results
prescription: piece of paper on which a doctor writes the details of the medicine or drugs that someone needs
incentives: things that encourage or motivate people to do something
drug-resistant strains: types (of bacteria) that do not react to drugs
treatments: types of medical care
regimes: (here) ways of working
spiral: increase quickly / get much worse
to resort to: to do something you don’t want to do because there is no other option
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