YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS MAY SOON AFFECT YOUR CREDIT SCORE

[LIFE ★]

YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS MAY SOON AFFECT YOUR CREDIT SCORE

Loans and credit score

(P1) There’s a new reason to be careful when updating your Facebook status. As reported on Investors.com, talking about a weekend of DEBAUCHERY might lower your CREDIT SCORE.

(P2) The Fair Isaac Corporation (or FICO), a credit rating agency, is IMPLEMENTING new strategies for assessing a consumer’s creditworthiness. In addition to looking at the information offered on social networking sites, the agency will also be looking at smartphone records.

(P3) “If you look at how many times a person says ‘WASTED’ in their profile, it has some value in predicting whether they’re going to repay their debt,” FICO CEO Will Lansing told the Financial Times.

(P4) TransUnion, another credit rating company, is also adding ways to determine a credit score. While the agency will not be using social networking websites, they will add data from PAYDAY LENDING BUSINESSES and club memberships.

(P5) The agencies both said the new data will supplement the current assessments tools, which include credit card and loan records.

(P6) The new credit assessing system is not necessarily intended to negatively impact credit scores. The new method can also give consumers access to credit. FICO reported that nearly 18 million Americans don’t have access to credit because they had negative reports in the past. An additional 25 million have never had credit.

(P7) In the report, FICO said, “Using the right alternatives to traditional credit bureau data, lenders can reliably identify millions more consumers who qualify for credit.”

(P8) TransUnion says its new CreditVision system has been able to approve an additional 24% of consumers for auto loan lenders.

WORDS: 264

SOURCE: http://www.forbes.com/sites/moneybuilder/2015/10/23/your-social-media-posts-may-soon-affect-your-credit-score-2/

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Does the HARVESTING of the information mentioned in this article seem like an INVASION OF PRIVACY to you?
  3. If police and courts need special permission to look at your smartphone records, how can credit agencies look at them? Is it possible that when you sign a contract with a smartphone company or similar business, you give permission for them to share this information with the credit agencies, without knowing that you are doing so because you haven’t read the FINE PRINT in the contract?
  4. Are you aware of your own credit score? Do you CONSCIOUSLY try to keep it high?
  5. Are you careful about what you post on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media because it might COME BACK TO BITE YOU?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Credit score
  • Payday lending
  • Invasion of privacy
  • Fine print
  • Come back to bite you

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CONCERNS OVER HEAD INJURIES IN SPORTS

[SPORTS ★★]

CONCERNS OVER HEAD INJURIES IN SPORTS

Philadelphia Eagles tight end L.J. Smith grimaces on the field, as he holds his head after a hard hit by Atlanta Falcons' Lawyer Milloy during the fourth quarter of a football game Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008, in Philadelphia. Smith suffered a concussion and Milloy was flagged for an unnecessary roughness penalty on the play. Eagles won 27-14. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

(P1) Medical experts and National Football League (NFL) officials will gather with peers from other top global sports to discuss how to properly DIAGNOSE and treat player CONCUSSIONS.

(P2) Three dozen doctors and executives from rugby, hockey, soccer and athletics will meet in London at the NFL’s second annual professional sports concussion conference.

(P3) Concussions and head TRAUMA suffered by athletes remain a controversial topic, prompting many CONTACT SPORTS to change rules and adopt new PROTOCOLS to ensure a higher level of player safety.

(P4) The NFL in April settled a lawsuit brought by about 5,000 former players who accused it of COVERING UP the dangers of concussions in a deal that could cost the league $1 billion.

(P5) Some critics see the NFL-hosted London event as WINDOW DRESSING by the various sports bodies to protect their REVENUE STREAMS. Revenues at the NFL, the most-popular and powerful U.S. sports league, topped $12 billion last year.

(P6) But the co-chairman of the NFL’s head, neck and spine committee, Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, said the conference is meant to help fill in gaps in an area of medicine where a lot about concussions remains unknown.

(P7) Fifteen different organizations will be represented in London, including the world soccer governing body FIFA, Australian Rules Football, World Rugby, the Canadian Football League and the International Federation for EQUESTRIAN SPORTS.

(P8) Also sending officials are the U.S. Olympic Committee, the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

(P9) Some critics said the NFL conference is an attempt to shape how the public views an issue that is still UNFOLDING.

(P10) “What they’re attempting to do is create a body of opinion and body of literature that tells the public that these concussions are MANAGEABLE problems,” said Michael Kaplen, an attorney specializing in TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES who teaches at George Washington Law School, and a long-time critic of the NFL’s science around the subject.

(P11) Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior vice president of health and safety policy, said player safety is a top priority for the NFL, pointing to 39 rules changes over the past decade related to player safety and a 34 percent decline in concussions in the league over the last three years. The NFL has awarded more than $135 million in grants over the same period related to research on player safety.

(P12) The league and plaintiffs in the lawsuit agreed that based on ACTUARIAL statistics, up to 30 percent of former players could develop brain conditions such as ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE or a less DEBILITATING form of DEMENTIA.

(P13) Most sports leagues have been CAUGHT FLAT-FOOTED by the concussion issue, said Ohio University sports business professor Robert Boland.

(P14) In addition to the NFL, lawsuits have been filed in recent years against FIFA, the NHL and the NCAA. Even on the youth level the issue has gained prominence.

(P15) U.S. President Barack Obama and National Basketball Association all-star LeBron James are among those who have said they would not allow their children to play football due to the dangers from head trauma.

(P16) Several SUICIDES by former NFL players, including Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau in 2012, have GARNERED public attention. Last month, a study released by the Concussion Legacy Foundation found that 87 out of 91 former NFL players who donated their brains for research were diagnosed with a disease, CTE, linked to concussions and head trauma.

WORDS: 559

SOURCE: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2015/10/22/concussion-treatment-diagnosis-focus-world-sports-conference/

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. The science increasingly suggests that the only way to make American football safe is not to play it. What do you think the future of American football will be?
  3. Would you allow your child to play a contact sport in which head injuries are common?
  4. Have you ever suffered any kind of sports injury yourself?
  5. Sports fandom in the U.S. and around the world seems more intense than ever. Why is this true?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Contact sport
  • Cover up
  • Window dressing
  • Revenue stream
  • Caught flat-footed

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AUTHOR MARLON JAMES TALKS ABOUT WINNING MAN BOOKER PRIZE

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★★]

AUTHOR MARLON JAMES TALKS ABOUT WINNING MAN BOOKER PRIZE

Marlon James

(P1) AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: It will come to be seen as a classic of our times. That’s what judges of the PRESTIGIOUS MAN BOOKER PRIZE have said about this year’s winner, “A Brief History of Seven Killings.” The novel is an EPIC reimagining of the ASSASSINATION attempt on the singer Bob Marley in the Kingston of the 1970s. Marlon James is the author. He’s the first Jamaican-born writer to win the prize. We reached him earlier today in London.

(P2) MARLON JAMES: Thank you. This is – it’s amazing. It’s still shocking and totally SURREAL.

(P3) CORNISH: I read that you originally ENVISIONED “A Brief History Of Seven Killings” as a short crime book.

(P4) JAMES: Yes.

(P5) CORNISH: Seven hundred pages later…

(P6) (LAUGHTER)

(P7) CORNISH: …What happened?

(P8) JAMES: When I was writing the novel, I really did think it was one story. What happens is, every time I did one story, I ran into a DEAD END, and I’d pick another story and run into a dead end, and pick another story. And I kept doing this until a friend of mine said to me, you know, why do you think this novel is one person’s story? I think that’s when I FIGURED OUT that it was a multiple-person NARRATIVE. And maybe it was good or bad, but by then, I had written hundreds of pages. I just had to figure out how all the stories worked together.

(P9) CORNISH: And I understand this is actually your third novel, right? I mean…

(P10) JAMES: Yes.

(P11) CORNISH: …Your career had a bit of a BUMPY start. What kind of rejection did you experience when you first tried to get published?

(P12) JAMES: Well, you know, my first novel, “John Crow’s Devil,” which was eventually published, was TURNED DOWN by quite a few people – well, more than quite a few – around 78 publishers and agents and…

(P13) CORNISH: Wait. Wait a second. Seventy-eight’s a very specific number. So your first book, which was published in 2005, “John Crow’s Devil,” you’re saying, was rejected 78 times.

(P14) JAMES: Yeah.

(P15) CORNISH: Did you sit down and count?

(P16) JAMES: I didn’t count when I was doing it, or I probably would’ve stopped at 30.

(P17) CORNISH: Well, do you have any advice out there for the writers who may also be experiencing a little bit of rejection?

(P18) JAMES: Yeah, you know, “CATCH-22” was rejected 48 times. I mean, there are lots of stories out there of books and novels and stories and poems that go through rounds and rounds of rejection. Don’t lose sight that you are doing good work and you have something to say.

(P19) CORNISH: That’s Marlon James. His novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings” has won this year’s Man Booker Prize. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

(P20) JAMES: Thanks for having me.

WORDS: 469

SOURCE: http://www.npr.org/2015/10/14/448697158/marlon-james-becomes-first-jamaican-to-win-man-booker-prize

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Marlon James’s first novel was rejected by 78 publishers before a publisher accepted it. Do you think you could have been as PERSISTENT as he was?
  3. James’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel A Brief History of Seven Killings is not brief at all – the title is IRONIC. It is more than 700 pages long. Do you like very long books?
  4. The novel, like some other contemporary novels and movies, tells the stories of many characters who do not know each other but whose lives connect in UNEXPECTED ways. Do you like that type of story?
  5. This piece is an INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT. Do you read or listen to many interviews?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Dead end
  • Figure out
  • Turn down
  • Interview transcript

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LAST CALL FOR JFK AIRPORT’S TWA TERMINAL

[TRAVEL ★]

LAST CALL FOR JFK AIRPORT’S TWA TERMINAL

TWA Terminal

(P1) Despite the fact that it’s one of the busiest international airports in the United States, plenty of travelers do what they can to avoid New York’s JFK International Airport.

(P2) The hub is, after all, often included on lists of America’s worst airports.

(P3) It could be worth a visit this weekend, however, when the airport opens the doors to its classic TWA Flight Center terminal one last time before development.

(P4) The famed gull-winged building, which is set to become a hotel, will welcome visitors on October 18 as part of the Open House New York INITIATIVE that unlocks the doors of the city’s LANDMARKS.

(P5) The terminal was designed by the CELEBRATED Finnish ARCHITECT Eero Saarinen and opened in 1962.

(P6) It’s still celebrated as an ICON of the Jet Age.

(P7) On an artistic level, it’s seen as a masterpiece of 20th-century modernism, with SLEEK and FLOWING lines said to EVOKE the notion of flight.

(P8) On a practical level, it EVENTUALLY turned out to be a DUD.

(P9) The terminal struggled to handle larger airplanes and the higher volume of passengers brought on by rapid advances in air travel.

(P10) It’s been out of use since 2001, when the airline it was originally built for, TWA, WENT OUT OF BUSINESS.

(P11) Over the last six years the building has been PAINSTAKINGLY restored and included in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

(P12) Now, MCR Development (with offices in New York and Texas) plans to invest $265 million to turn it into JFK’s first on-site luxury hotel.

(P13) The hotel owner-operator firm says its plan, due to be completed in 2018, includes a museum focusing on New York City as the birthplace of the Jet Age of intercontinental travel.

(P14) It’ll also focus on the history of TWA, once among the premier carriers in the world, and the modernism design movement.

WORDS: 309

SOURCE: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/10/14/aviation/twa-terminal-jfk-airport/index.html

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. The TWA terminal became functionally OUTDATED (although still beautiful) rather quickly. How should architects design for the future?
  3. What is the best airport you have ever been in? The worst?
  4. What is the best hotel you have ever stayed in? The worst?
  5. Many airlines like TWA have gone out of business. Why is it hard for airlines to make money?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Go out of business

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THE WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE BEEF

[BUSINESS ★★★]

THE WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE BEEF

Wagyu Cattle

(P1) It’s the world’s most expensive beef, but Australia’s business competition WATCHDOG is currently investigating meat products that are labelled Wagyu.

(P2) There’s been an OUTCRY, from consumers and producers alike, who are worried that a product PARADING ITSELF as Wagyu beef may not be THE REAL DEAL. Especially if it’s a burger going for less than about $5 (£3.20), the price attached to some fast-food Wagyu burgers being sold around South East Asia.

(P3) About 10 years ago, for example, you may have been asked to pay as much as $130 (£85) for a Wagyu steak sandwich.

(P4)  A piece of buttery, sweet, and SUCCULENT Japanese full-blood Wagyu meat should most certainly cost much more than $5, say most farmers and restaurant owners.

(P5) In fact, a juicy 200g steak in some of the world’s top restaurants can SET YOU BACK as much as $200 – or more.

(P6) Its MELT-IN-YOUR-MOUTH TENDERNESS has been described by food AFICIONADOS, GOURMET grocers, master BUTCHERS and cattle BREEDERS as one of the most extraordinary meat products the world has to offer.

(P7) So when burgers containing very little full-blood Wagyu meat are on the market, it’s a cause of concern for Wagyu cattle breeders, especially farmers in Japan, where the product is carefully protected and TRADEMARKED.

(P8) It’s also a cause of concern in Australia – now a major exporter of the product.

(P9) Wagyu cattle were originally DRAFT ANIMALS used for farming purposes in Japan because of their strength.

(P10) Today in Japan, there are only four breeds that are considered Wagyu, and the product is sold according to where the animal was grown.

(P11) Kobe beef for example – which is ARGUABLY the world’s most famous Wagyu meat – comes from Japan’s Hyogo PREFECTURE where Kobe is the capital.

(P12) Wagyu beef outside of Japan can often include CROSSBRED meat.

(P13) In Australia, there are five grade descriptions of Wagyu beef, ranging from full-blood, which should have no evidence of crossbreeding, to Wagyu F1, which should have at least 50% Wagyu genetic content.

(P14) Australia’s crossbred Wagyu industry often involves a Japanese bloodline crossed with Angus and Braham breeds, among others.

(P15) In October last year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched its investigation.

(P16) The watchdog said it was concerned that products being labelled Wagyu were in fact from crossbred cattle, and that this “may have the potential to mislead consumers into thinking that the beef is from the (full-blood Japanese) Wagyu breed of cattle”.

(P17) The Australian Wagyu Association, which represents both full-blood and crossbred Wagyu breeders, says it supports the investigation – and stresses its concern over “truth in labelling and product INTEGRITY“.

(P18) But as some breeders continue to work towards creating a more honest marketplace, and the government’s national investigation continues, Wagyu meat is becoming more widely recognised – and retailers everywhere want A SLICE OF THE ACTION.

(P19) In Singapore alone, COUNTLESS restaurants, cafes and even fast-food outlets offer Wagyu beef on their menu – and Wagyu burgers are the trend.

(P20) Retailers selling good quality burgers are most likely to tell you straight away where their meat comes from and how they mix up their PATTIES, while others offering cheaper options are likely to avoid such questions.

(P21) One of Singapore’s best-known STEAK HOUSES, The Prime Society, orders a lot of Wagyu from Australia, and promises if customers want to find out exactly where their meat is from, they can.

(P22) “Sometimes I even leave the label on to show AUTHENTICITY,” says the restaurant’s chef Muhamad Zulkefle.

(P23) A 200g piece of Australian full-blood Wagyu from a farm called Mayura Station at the Prime Society will cost close to 90 Singapore dollars ($62; £40).

(P24) Meanwhile, Mos Burger, which is headquartered in Tokyo, offers Wagyu burgers through its Singapore stores for as little as $4.85 Singapore dollars ($3.50; £2.30).

(P25) The firm has more than 25 stores in Singapore, and some 1,400 in Japan, but, the firm would not respond over the phone or to several written requests for information about its beef products.

(P26) “I doubt very much a Wagyu burger selling for $5 anywhere would be 100% Wagyu,” Mayura Station’s founder, Adrian de Bruin, said earlier this year. “In fact, I’m sure it couldn’t be.”

(P27) Mr de Bruin is credited with importing Australia’s first black-haired Wagyu cattle from Japan in 1998, and Mayura Station is regarded today as one of Australia’s top Wagyu breeders.

(P28) He said very cheap Wagyu patties “could possibly have some Wagyu trim mixed with other products”, but was ADAMANT that such products should not be labelled “Wagyu”, and that crossbred products coming out of Australia should be clearly labelled.

(P30) “There’s nothing wrong with selling a crossbred product,” he said. “Just be honest and say what it is.”

(P31)”In some places though, you wouldn’t HAVE A CLUE what will turn up on your plate when you order Wagyu.

(P32) “Unless you’re educated and your PALATE is educated – you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Because some Wagyu just isn’t Wagyu.”

WORDS: 822

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-33095429

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you enjoy high-quality beef, or do you prefer other meats or fishes? Or are you a VEGETARIAN?
  3. What is the most expensive restaurant meal you have ever eaten?
  4. Are you a good cook?
  5. Do you think that food labels are usually accurate?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Parade itself
  • The real deal
  • Set you back
  • Melt-in-your-mouth
  • Draft animal
  • A slice of the action
  • Steak house
  • Have a clue

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SHOULD RESTAURANTS ELIMINATE TIPPING?

[OPINION ★]

SHOULD RESTAURANTS ELIMINATE TIPPING?

tips-gratuities

(P1) Recently, Danny Meyer, founder of the Shake Shack restaurant chain, announced that his restaurants will DO AWAY WITH tipping. He plans to pay his staff higher WAGES and pass the cost to customers by raising prices on menus. Is this a good idea? We invited food writers, restaurateurs and other experts to WEIGH IN.

(P2) Food writer Zora O’Neill writes:

(P3) One night years ago in Amsterdam, some friends and I had an EPIC dinner — creative food and excellent wine, served by a smart, enthusiastic woman. When the bill came, we knew tipping wasn’t the norm in the Netherlands, but we felt COMPELLED to leave something, to show our appreciation. When our server saw the extra cash, she looked IRRITATED, even hurt. “What is this?” she said, throwing it back on the table.

(P4) “We’re American,” STAMMERED my friend.

(P5) “That’s the only way we have of showing you we like you,” I added.

(P6) Which is sad, when you think about it. I’ve worked in restaurants and bars in the U.S. and abroad, but I’ve never loved tipping. I tip LIKE CRAZY, but I also feel OBLIGED to be nice to waiters and waitresses. It’s a MUTUAL effort — isn’t dinner better when everyone is happy to be there, well-paid and well-fed?

(P7) Tipping is part of a larger problem of price transparency in America. We’re encouraged to consume based on price alone, disregarding labor and other costs. Yet the price we see is not the price we pay, because it does not include sales tax and tips. In some other countries, the price you see includes all those costs.

(P8) Danny Meyers’s proposal to eliminate tipping at his restaurants is a small step in the right direction. More importantly, he’ll be paying servers a RESPECTABLE wage and raising menu prices to reflect that. The only problem is I’ll have to find another way to tell waiters how great they are. But I guess I could talk to them!

WORDS: 327

SOURCE: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/10/16/opinions/opinion-roundup-restaurant-tipping/index.html

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Is tipping the norm in your country, or not?
  3. How many times per week do you usually EAT OUT?
  4. Have you ever worked as a waiter or bartender, or any other job where you offered direct service to the public? Was it pleasant or unpleasant?
  5. Have you ever traveled to another country and been confused by some of the customs, such as tipping or no tipping?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Do away with
  • Weigh in
  • Like crazy
  • Eat out

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UNUSUAL SOLUTION PROPOSED FOR CHINESE BACHELORS

[LIFE ★★]

UNUSUAL SOLUTION PROPOSED FOR CHINESE BACHELORS

Gender Imbalance

(P1) With China facing the prospect of 30 million unmarried men by 2020, an economics professor has proposed a solution – allow poor BACHELORS to share a wife.

(P2) Xie Zuoshi, a professor at Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, said it would be a practical way for the nation to deal with the LEGACY of decades of an abnormally high sex ratio.

(P3) China has long had a traditional preference for boys over girls that has, IF ANYTHING, increased under the ONE-CHILD POLICY.

(P4) The birth ratio of boys compared with girls had been rising steadily, peaking in 2009. It dropped slightly to 1.16:1 by 2014.

(P5) Between 24 million to 34 million more boys than girls were born in the past three decades, and most are unlikely to find wives, at least in China.

(P6) “It is a reality that we have so many more men than women. Serious social problems, such as rape and ASSAULTS, will happen if men cannot find wives. But it doesn’t have to be like that if they are given choices,” said Xie, who said he saw the problem from an economics point of view.

(P7) In terms of SUPPLY AND DEMAND, the rising number of bachelors has increased the SCARCITY of women and raised their value. Men with high incomes find wives first because they can afford to look after them. For low income men, one option is to share a wife with another man.

(P8) “I am not joking. Any REASONABLE person applying CRITICAL THINKING will come to the same conclusion. We cannot DEPRIVE those men of wives,” Xie said, saying it was already a practice in poor RURAL areas for brothers to share a wife.

(P9) Xie is 50 years old and married.

(P10) Another option is for women in other countries in Asia, such as Vietnam, to come to China to get married.

(P11) He even proposed that China change its laws that make MONOGAMY the only legal form of marriage. Sharing or even gay marriage should also be allowed, he said.

(P12) Xie’s proposal was not WELL-RECEIVED, with many questioning his morality. Yet Xie said he also received some support.

(P13) Some say that it was common in Chinese rural areas before 1949 to have a bachelor living with a couple to share the wife and economic BURDEN of the family.

(P14) Others say that marriage is a private matter and should depend on the CONSENT of the parties involved.

WORDS: 406

SOURCE: http://www.businessinsider.com/outrageous-solution-for-chinas-bachelors-2015-10

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you think that Professor Xie’s proposal is PRACTICAL, or was it just an attempt to get attention for himself?
  3. Why do families, not just in China but all over the world, prefer having a boy child to having a girl child?
  4. Men, especially young unmarried men, cause most of the VIOLENCE in any society, and lately there have been a number of violent attacks in China CARRIED OUT by unmarried poor men. What should the Chinese government do about this SOCIAL PROBLEM?
  5. Women in many countries prefer urban husbands rather than rural ones. Why is this true?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • If anything
  • One-child policy
  • Supply and demand
  • Critical thinking
  • Well-received

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JUSTIN TRUDEAU IS CANADA’S NEXT PRIME MINISTER

[WORLD NEWS ★★]

JUSTIN TRUDEAU IS CANADA’S NEXT PRIME MINISTER

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks to media during a break at the federal Liberal summer caucus meeting in Edmonton on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

(P1) Canada’s Liberal leader Justin Trudeau rode a late SURGE to a STUNNING majority election victory on Monday, TOPPLING Stephen Harper’s Conservatives with a promise of change and returning a touch of GLAMOR, youth, and CHARISMA to Ottawa.

(P2) Harper CONCEDED defeat and the Conservative party announced his resignation, ending a nine-year run in power.

(P3) The Liberals SEIZED a Parliamentary majority. The center-left Liberals had been a distant third place party before this election.

(P4) “My friends, we beat fear with hope. We beat CYNICISM with hard work. We beat negative, DIVISIVE politics with a positive vision that brings Canadians together,” Trudeau, 43, told a crowd of cheering supporters in Montreal.

(P5) “This is what positive politics can do.”

(P6) The PHOTOGENIC son of former PRIME MINISTER Pierre Trudeau PLEDGED to stimulate Canada’s ANEMIC economic growth.

(P7) Trudeau thanked his closest friends and advisers for shaping his campaign to show “that you can appeal to the BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE. And you can win doing it.”

(P8) Trudeau has said he will repair Canada’s cool relations with the Obama administration, WITHDRAW Canada from the COMBAT mission against Islamic State militants in favor of HUMANITARIAN AID and training, and TACKLE climate change.

(P9) Trudeau VAULTED from third place to lead the polls in the final days of the campaign, and will now return to the Prime Minister’s residence in Ottawa where he grew up as a child.

(P10) “When the time for change strikes, it’s LETHAL,” former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said in a television interview. “I ran and was successful because I wasn’t Pierre Trudeau. Justin is successful because he isn’t Stephen Harper.”

(P11) Liberal supporters at the party’s campaign headquarters broke into cheers and whistles when television projected that Trudeau would be the next prime minister.

(P12) The Conservatives become the official opposition in Parliament, with the left-leaning New Democratic Party in third.

(P13) Trudeau TOOK CHARGE OF the Liberal Party just two years ago and guided it out of the political wilderness with a pledge of ECONOMIC STIMULUS and stirring appeals for a return to social liberalism.

(P14) Trudeau will become the second-youngest prime minister in Canadian history and, like his father, brings an appeal more common in movie stars than STATESMEN. He is the married father of three young children.

(P15) Criticized for being more style than substance, Trudeau has used attacks on his good looks and privileged upbringing to win over voters, who recalled his father’s ROCK STAR presence and an era when Canada had some SIZZLE on the world stage.

(P16) Pierre Trudeau, who died in 2000, was in power for 15 years – with a brief interruption – and remains one of the few Canadian leaders to be known abroad.

(P17) Single when he took power, the elder Trudeau dated movie stars and models before marrying. He had three boys while serving as prime minister, the eldest of whom now succeeds him in the nation’s top office.

WORDS: 486

SOURCE: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/20/us-canada-election-idUSKCN0SD17X20151020

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Justin Trudeau benefits from the fame of his father and is now part of a political DYNASTY. Are there important political dynasties in your country, such as the Trudeaus, Kennedys, Bushes, or Clintons?
  3. Justin Trudeau’s youth, good looks, energy, and family background combine to give him a genuine STAR QUALITY. How important is star quality in politics?
  4. Trudeau’s political principles are highly liberal and PROGRESSIVE, like Barack Obama’s. Do you think that is the basic direction of world politics today?
  5. What POLITICAL PARTIES are dominant in your country today?
  6. The phrase “the better angels of our nature” comes from a speech by Abraham Lincoln, who is often considered the greatest American president. Who have the greatest leaders of your country been?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Prime Minister
  • Better angels of our nature
  • Humanitarian aid
  • Take charge of
  • Economic stimulus
  • Rock star
  • Star quality
  • Political party

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STRESSED TEACHERS REDUCED TO TEARS

[EDUCATION ★]

STRESSED TEACHERS REDUCED TO TEARS

Stressed Teacher

(P1) Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, says she has been told of one teacher crying every night at home and another being ordered not to burst into tears in the staffroom.

(P2) Dr Bousted mentioned a young man who told her how worried he was about his partner, a primary school teacher.

(P3) “Increasingly, when he came home from work, he found her crying on the kitchen floor,” Dr Bousted said.

(P4) She told how she had heard from another teacher who had been given a performance objective that she must not cry in the staffroom.

(P5) “She did not know what to be more MORTIFIED about – that she had cried in the staffroom, or that her line manager could propose such an OBJECTIVE without any thought about what might cause her to cry in the first place,” Dr Bousted said.

(P6) She added: “Tales like these are told to me just too often. It seems that teacher stress is increasingly being regarded as PAR FOR THE COURSE and part of the job.

(P7) “A newly qualified teacher, asking for help to deal with an impossible workload which took up every evening until 11pm and all of the weekend, was told by her line manager ‘that’s the way it is in teaching’.

(P8) “Teachers, as professionals, expect to work hard but should not be expected to devote every minute of their lives to their work. Teachers need time to relax, to pursue hobbies, to talk to their families and friends. They need time to be human.”

(P9) Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said there was no doubt the whole teaching profession, from the newly qualified teacher to the senior leader, was under CONSIDERABLE pressure.

(P10) “It’s essential that we all pay attention to the WELL-BEING of staff. Clearly, if a member of staff is in tears in the staff room, it would be INCUMBENT ON the school, someone in the school, to look at what the problem was and discuss it with them, so they can give them the appropriate support they need.”

(P11) Dr Bousted also pointed out that the education system cannot afford to be so “PROFLIGATE with its teachers”.

(P12) “At the moment England is in a PERFECT STORM of rising pupil numbers, falling teacher RECRUITMENT, and poor teacher RETENTION. If our education system is to meet this immense challenge, it needs to value its teachers as its most precious RESOURCE and treat them ACCORDINGLY,” she added.

WORDS: 415

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/education-34602720

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Does your job require you to work nights and weekends?
  3. Have you ever felt so stressed at your job that you became emotional?
  4. Is teaching a well-paid profession in your country, or are the WAGES below average?
  5. 50% of new teachers leave the profession within five years. Why do you think that is?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Par for the course
  • Well-being
  • Incumbent on
  • Perfect storm

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VOLCANO COULD MEAN EXTINCTION FOR ROCKET FROG

[ENVIRONMENT ★★★]

VOLCANO COULD MEAN EXTINCTION FOR ROCKET FROG

Volcano Frog

(P1) Biologists near Quito, Ecuador, are rushing to EVACUATE a CRITICALLY ENDANGERED FROG SPECIES before a VOLCANIC ERUPTION WIPES IT OUT.

(P2) The small, chocolate-striped rocket frog was once common around Quito, even in PASTURES and BACKYARDS (it adapts well to peopled LANDSCAPES). Now, for UNCLEAR reasons, there is just one population left. Fewer than 100 adults, plus an unknown number of JUVENILES and TADPOLES, CLING TO life in the Andes along the Río Pita, a river fed by melting snow and ice ATOP the recently active volcano Cotopaxi.

(P3) In August, Cotopaxi, whose activity endangers more than 300,000 people, COUGHED UP steam and ash after lying DORMANT since the early 1900s. The mountain continues to SPUTTER, and MAGMA is rising within. A much bigger eruption—one that would melt the mountain’s SNOWCAP and TRIGGER MASSIVE mud flows and floods—could be months, or even weeks, away.

(P4) LAVA, water, and mud BARRELING along the Río Pita, combined with layers of ash settling on the land would almost certainly push the rare rocket frogs to EXTINCTION. So biologists are trying to rescue as many as possible before Cotopaxi erupts.

(P5) “Normally an eruption would be almost IRRELEVANT to a species because there would be populations elsewhere that wouldn’t be affected,” says HERPETOLOGIST Santiago Ron, of Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE) in Quito. But for the rocket frog, the population at risk is the species’ LAST STAND.

(P6) Since the summer’s volcanic activity, Ron’s PUCE team has been SCOURING the frog’s HABITAT, so far bringing 25 tadpoles and a juvenile frog back to the lab. “Dry-season conditions mean the frogs are inactive, making them extremely hard to find right now,” Ron says. Plus, they’re diurnal (active during the day) and the adults are WARY of the scientists’ presence.

(P7) Gathering will get easier soon. When the rains come—ANY DAY NOW—“the frogs’ vocalizations will give away their hiding places,” Ron says.

(P8) Ron and his team are already in the business of saving Ecuador’s THREATENED frogs. The country is the one of the most AMPHIBIAN-diverse in the world, with more than 550 species described so far (40 percent of those exist nowhere else)—but a third or more are threatened or endangered. Ron and his colleagues’ Balsa de los Sapos (Life Raft for Frogs) project aims to collect, house, and breed as many national species as possible, with plans to release some back into the wild, when and if the environment allows.

(P9) Currently, Ron’s university lab houses about 1,500 individual amphibians representing 30 species, and they’ve had some breeding successes—no easy task, as many frogs are FICKLE REPRODUCERS, with very specific climate and food requirements that the scientists are still trying to MIMIC in CAPTIVITY.

(P10) Rocket frogs are NO EXCEPTION: They’re tough to breed and raise. But that effort is a ways off. First, Ron needs to rescue at least 50 adults from the Quito population, plus about 100 tadpoles. “Tadpoles have a low probability of survival in nature,” he says. “So bringing them into captivity actually increases their chances for survival to 80 or 90 percent.” Also, taking tadpoles has little impact on the population, and animals raised in the lab are more likely to thrive in captivity as adults.

(P11) Collecting a near-extinct species to breed in captivity for reintroduction to the wild isn’t UNPRECEDENTED. For example, in 2001, biologists working in Tanzania collected Kihansi spray toads, which were in rapid decline, and successfully bred them, eventually reintroducing the toads in 2012.

(P12) Can the rocket frog see similar success? Ron hopes so, though it might take years for the current habitat to recover after a Cotopoxi eruption. Still, the animals could be reintroduced into parts of their historic range.

(P13) “It would be neat to get rocket frogs back to where good habitat still exists,” says Don Church, executive director of the Amphibian Survival Alliance. “Why they became so rare isn’t entirely clear, but Ecuadorian researchers believe disease and climate change are major CULPRITS.”

(P14) “These problems have not gone away,” Church says, “but we have new tools for MITIGATING such threats in the wild.”

(P15) And now, with the Quito rocket frog needing special attention, he says, “we have the perfect candidate.”

(P16) That is, if the volcano doesn’t get to them first.

WORDS: 712

SOURCE: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/10/151014-rocket-frog-volcano-ecuador-animals-conservation-science/

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do people care more about big endangered species such as pandas than small endangered species such as frogs?
  3. Are there any volcanoes in your country? Are they active?
  4. Have you ever kept fish or other animals in an AQUARIUM or TERRARIUM tank?
  5. Even though Ecuador STRADDLES the EQUATOR, parts of it are at high ALTITUDE and are not very TROPICAL at all. Is your home city at high or low (SEA LEVEL) altitude?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Endangered species
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Wipe out
  • Cling to
  • Cough up
  • Last stand
  • Any day now
  • No exception
  • Sea level

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