COLD WEATHER SHOCKS EAST ASIA

[WORLD NEWS ★★]

COLD WEATHER SHOCKS EAST ASIA

Snowy Asia

(P1) Snow, SLEET, and icy winds across east Asia have caused deaths, flight cancellations, and CHAOS as the region struggles with record-low temperatures due to a COLD SNAP that brought snow to several tropical areas for the first time in many people’s lifetimes.

(P2) In Taiwan, the capital Taipei recorded a low of 4C (39F), the coldest in 44 years. Local media said 90 people had died due to the cold weather, mainly from HYPOTHERMIA and HEART ATTACKS. Five more died in Japan.

(P3) Hundreds of flights were cancelled across the region, tens of thousands of vacationers were STRANDED in South Korea, and freezing conditions in sub-tropical Hong Kong caused MAYHEM on its tallest mountain.

(P4) In northern Vietnam, snow covered mountain areas as the wave of cold air arrived on Sunday to Lào Cai province. In the capital, Hanoi, it dropped to a milder 6C, although authorities said that was the coldest the city has been for two decades.

(P5) The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou saw sleet for the first time in 60 years.

(P6) A Guangzhou driver, Wang Jun, told the South China Morning Post that he had never seen sleet throughout his 20 years working in the city. “I woke up at 6am to work and saw small pieces of ice hit my windscreen. It stopped for a while, but happened again half an hour later. And then there was sleet at about 11am,” he said.

(P7) “It’s the first time I’ve see that. It’s very beautiful,” he said.

(P8) In Hong Kong, primary schools and kindergartens were closed on Monday after temperatures fell to 3C, a 60-year low. A 100km ULTRA-MARATHON race was stopped as competitors crossing the city’s tallest PEAK, Tai Mo Shan, slipped on the icy SLOPES. A race official described the scene as one of “CARNAGE”, with dozens of people suffering from hypothermia; firefighters called in to rescue them were filmed slipping and sliding on the icy roads.

(P9) In Bangkok, labelled the planet’s hottest city, the temperature dropped to 16C on Monday. SCARVES and padded jackets, normally bought only as winter holiday items by residents of Bangkok, appeared in the city as locals dealt with the unusually cool weather.

(P10) During the peak tourism season, the sea in many areas was dark and rough as grey clouds hung overhead.

(P11) Hundreds of flight cancellations left tens of thousands of vacationers stranded in South Korea, after the biggest snowfall in three decades shut the airport on the RESORT island on Jeju.

(P12) In China, 24 weather stations recorded all-time low temperatures. Further north, in Inner Mongolia, the temperature dropped to a record low of -46.8C (-52F) and in China’s eastern city of Qingdao, fishing boats were stuck in the frozen waters.

(P13) The weather changed many people’s travel plans for the CHINESE NEW YEAR, when families normally travel to their home towns.

WORDS: 473

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/25/deaths-japan-taiwan-snow-ice-chaos-asia

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. What is the coldest weather you have ever experienced?
  3. During extreme weather, it is usually old people who die. Why is this true?
  4. Do you own clothing for very cold weather?
  5. Has there been any unusual weather in your area in the past year?
  6. Is Chinese New Year celebrated in your country?

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.

  • Cold snap
  • Heart attack

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BILL GATES ON WHAT MAKES A TEACHER GREAT

[EDUCATION ★]

BILL GATES ON WHAT MAKES A TEACHER GREAT

Bill Gates

(P1) The best teachers leave a lasting IMPRESSION on students.

(P2) Bill Gates (above) talks about the moment he saw a film of a PHYSICS LECTURE by the late scientist and professor Richard Feynman (below). Although he never actually had Feynman as a teacher, he admires his teaching style.

Richard-feynman

(P3) To CELEBRATE the 50th ANNIVERSARY of Feynman’s NOBEL PRIZE win, Gates shared his thoughts on what made the professor so special. Here are those qualities, which can be applied to any classroom.

(P4) Great teachers are excited about the material.

(P5) Gates says he loves the way Feynman’s face LIGHTS UP when he explains how fire works. He shows an obvious love of knowledge, and it made his students excited about science too.

(P6) “Feynman has a lot IN COMMON WITH with all the amazing teachers I’ve met in schools across the country,” Gates writes. “You walk into their classroom and immediately feel the energy — the way they ENGAGE their students — and their PASSION for whatever subject they’re teaching.”

(P7) Great teachers make difficult subjects easy to understand.

(P8) Physics can seem complicated and ABSTRACT, but Gates says the best teachers make difficult subjects understandable.

(P9) Feynman once did a series of lectures at California schools for people who didn’t specialize in physics, and made the topic understandable for everyone.

(P10) “He takes something that’s a little mysterious to most people and uses very simple concepts to explain how it works,” Gates says.

(P11) Great teachers engage their students.

(P12) Like all great teachers, Feynman engaged his students and made physics fun.

(P13) “Feynman made science so interesting,” Gates says. “He reminded us how much fun it is.”

(P14) Great teachers have a wide range of interests.

(P15) Feynman wasn’t just a great teacher and RENOWNED scientist. He was also quite a character. He knew a lot about many different DISCIPLINES, and he brought that energy for learning into the classroom.

WORDS: 313

SOURCE: http://www.businessinsider.com/what-bill-gates-thinks-about-great-teachers-2016-1

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. Who is the best teacher you ever had?
  3. What is the most difficult subject that you ever studied?
  4. What helps you to learn a difficult subject?
  5. Have you ever taught? Did you enjoy the experience?

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.

  • Light up
  • In common with

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DUTCH CONDUCTOR NAMED DIRECTOR OF NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★★]

DUTCH CONDUCTOR NAMED DIRECTOR OF NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC

Van Zweden

(P1) The New York Philharmonic ORCHESTRA named the Dutch CONDUCTOR Jaap van Zweden as its next music director.

(P2) The 55-year-old, who now leads the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, will take the HELM of the most PRESTIGIOUS North American orchestra starting with the 2018-19 season.

(P3) Van Zweden said it took him “one minute” to decide to accept the offer and described New York as the “center of the world” for music.

(P4) Van Zweden follows the RETIRING Alan Gilbert, an American who has pursued both classic and modern works and has been active in trying to expand the Philharmonic’s audience.

(P5) The Dutch conductor will become the 26th music director of the New York Philharmonic, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF earlier greats such as Gustav Mahler, Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez and Kurt Masur.

(P6) Van Zweden owes his conducting career IN NO SMALL PART to Leonard Bernstein.

(P7) As a violinist and CHILD PRODIGY, Van Zweden at age 18 became the youngest CONCERTMASTER of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam.

(P8) Bernstein was conducting the Concertgebouw Orchestra on a tour of Europe in the late 1980s when the LEGENDARY MAESTRO handed the BATON to Van Zweden, despite the violinist’s PROTESTS that he had never conducted.

(P9) “Bernstein said afterward, ‘That was pretty bad, but I saw POTENTIAL there and I would really like you to take it very seriously,’” Van Zweden said.

(P10) Van Zweden has earned a REPUTATION as an EXACTING conductor able to deliver excellent performances of classic REPERTOIRE by the great composers such as Beethoven, Mahler, and Mozart, as well as modern composers.

(P11) “As both a strong musician and leader, Jaap brings energy and electricity that mirror our hometown, the great city of New York,” said the Philharmonic’s president, Matthew VanBesien.

WORDS: 297

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jan/27/jaap-van-zweden-named-director-new-york-philharmonic-dallas-symphony-orchestra

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 play a musical instrument?
  3. Have you ever been to an orchestra concert?
  4. What does a conductor do?
  5. “Exacting” is another way of saying “difficult to work for.” Have you ever had an exacting boss?

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.

  • Follow in the footsteps of
  • In no small part
  • Child prodigy

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EXPLORER DIES TRYING TO CROSS ANTARCTIC

[ENVIRONMENT ★★★]

EXPLORER DIES TRYING TO CROSS ANTARCTIC

Antarctica

(P1) The explorer Henry Worsley, who was ON THE BRINK OF becoming the first man to cross ANTARCTICA by himself, has died in his attempt.

(P2) The former British army officer was just 30 miles short of completing the record solo crossing when he had to be AIRLIFTED off the ice, his family announced on Monday.

(P3) Worsley, 55, had covered 913 miles over 71 days on his own, including passing the south pole, when he was forced to call for help after SUCCUMBING to EXHAUSTION and SEVERE DEHYDRATION.

(P4) His wife, Joanna, said in a statement: “It is with HEARTBROKEN sadness I let you know that my husband, Henry Worsley, has died following complete organ failure, despite all efforts to save him.”

(P5) After spending two days unable to move from his tent, the married father-of-two decided to end his attempt.

(P6) He was flown to a hospital in Punta Arenas where he had surgery after doctors discovered his ABDOMEN was affected with PERITONITIS. He died on Sunday.

(P7) Peritonitis occurs when the thin layer of tissue lining the abdomen becomes INFECTED. SYMPTOMS can include swelling of the abdomen, vomiting, chills, lack of APPETITE, and a high temperature. COMPLICATIONS include SEPSIS and septic shock.

(P8) Worsley was attempting to complete Sir Ernest Shackleton’s unfinished journey to the south pole a century ago in 1915. Shackleton’s ship Endurance was trapped and sunk by PACK ICE, leaving his team STRANDED.

(P9) Shackleton’s granddaughter Alexandra Shackleton spoke of her huge sadness. She told BBC News: “Henry will be a huge loss to the adventuring world. The fact that he very nearly made it, only 30 miles short of his goal, makes it in some ways even worse.”

(P10) Paul Rose, the former base commander of the British Antarctic Survey, paid tribute to Worsley’s organisation and DEDICATION. “He wasn’t just a HEADCASE going off on mad adventures. Henry really THOUGHT THIS THING THROUGH,” Rose told BBC News.

(P11) He added: “The conditions haven’t changed from Shackleton’s days. The Antarctic is still an incredibly HOSTILE place.”

(P12) Prince William, who was PATRON of the EXPEDITION, expressed his sadness at the explorer’s death, saying he and Prince Harry had lost a friend.

(P13) The TREK was raising money for the Endeavour Fund, a CHARITY managed by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

Henry Worsley

(P14) Prince William said in a statement: “Harry and I are very sad to hear of the loss of Henry Worsley. He was a man who showed great COURAGE and DETERMINATION and we are incredibly proud to be associated with him. We have lost a friend, but he will remain a source of inspiration to us all, especially those who will benefit from his support to the Endeavour Fund. We will now make sure that his family receive the support they need at this terribly difficult time.”

WORDS: 474

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/25/explorer-henry-worsley-dies-during-antarctic-record-attempt

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. When asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, the British MOUNTAINEER George Mallory replied, “Because it’s there.” Henry Worsley felt the same way about Antarctica. Does this answer make sense to you?
  3. Henry Worsley had a wife and two children. Was it fair to them for him to take this kind of risk?
  4. Many people who are not adventurous enjoy reading about adventure or watching movies about it. Is that true of you?
  5. Why is Antarctica described as “the last FRONTIER on earth”?

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.

  • On the brink of
  • Pack ice
  • Think through

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WHY DO JERKS SUCCEED?

[OPINION ★]

WHY DO JERKS SUCCEED?

TedCruz031415

(P1) Is Republican presidential CONTENDER Ted Cruz the most popular JERK in America? He very well could be. It’s becoming clearer every day that this is a guy about whom few have nice things to say—if they can even TOLERATE him at all.

(P2) The magazine Mother Jones listed all the DEROGATORY ways that Cruz has been described throughout his career. No one seems to like him.

(P3) So how to explain Cruz’s success in politics?

(P4) People like Ted Cruz are all around us, of course — at work, in our communities, COACHING our children’s sports teams, running our schools.

(P5) There is actually a scientific explanation for the success of people like Ted Cruz. Behavior like his, among people at the top, is not all that uncommon. Studies show that unlikable people often find great success in their fields. There are famous examples of this: Steve Jobs was someone who could be really CRUEL towards his employees.

(P6) The studies have found that disagreeable people — those described as ARGUMENTATIVE, AGGRESSIVE, EGOTISTICAL, and HOSTILE — are excellent at getting their ideas heard. They’re just louder than everyone else.

(P7) And when it comes to politics, of course, being heard is MORE THAN HALF THE BATTLE.

(P8) The studies have also shown that overconfident jerks are perceived as having higher social STATUS, which appeals to people, and also that the ruder someone acts, the more convinced most of the rest of us become that he or she is powerful.

(P9) Ted Cruz’s chances for success may be favorable not only despite his being so dislikable but, in fact, because of it. Do jerks come out on top? In this case, let’s hope not. But it certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

WORDS: 290

SOURCE: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/01/25/opinions/ted-cruz-why-jerks-get-ahead-drexler/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. Can you give examples of dislikable people from your country who have been very successful?
  3. Are there any dislikable people at your workplace who are succeeding more than others?
  4. Would you rather be nice and well-liked, or rich and successful?
  5. Do you care who the next U.S. President is, or not really?

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.

  • More than half the battle

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WHY WOMEN OVER 50 CAN’T FIND WORK

[BUSINESS ★★]

WHY WOMEN OVER 50 CAN’T FIND WORK

older-woman-working-factory

(P1) If you’re a woman over the age of 50, finding work has gotten harder since 2008.

(P2) The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis recently published a study that showed that half of the LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYED in the United States are now women over 50. So what’s going on?

(P3) ECONOMICS reporter Paul Solman sat down with Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist, to talk about how AGE DISCRIMINATION and ASSUMPTIONS about the worth of women’s labor affect the job and RETIREMENT PROSPECTS of “older” women workers.

(P4) Paul Solman: What explains discrimination against older women in the workplace?

(P5) Teresa Ghilarducci: We all know about age discrimination, but thought it affected men and women equally. The fact that women are the ones that don’t get the jobs when they’re over 50 and looking for work does though, on second thought, make sense.

(P6) Solman: Why does it make sense?

(P7) Ghilarducci: A lot of what women do in their lives is PUNCTUATED by time outside of the labor market — taking care of family and children — and women’s labor has always been DEVALUED. So if you have an older woman coming to you and applying for a job, you’re going to think about what kind of experiences she had, what kind of SKILLS she might have. You’re going to assume that she had some time out of the labor market and that she was doing something that was BASICALLY WORTHLESS, because she wasn’t being paid for it.

(P8) The fact that caring labor is devalued in our society is something that hits a woman really, really hard when she’s trying to get hired.

(P9) Solman: What’s going through the mind of the employer?

(P10) Ghilarducci: The employer is thinking, “Alright. I have a job applicant who doesn’t have the experience that I value.” That employer is also probably a man.

(P11) We all live, including this employer, in a PATRIARCHAL society, and the very definition of patriarchy is that women’s lives and skills are devalued.

(P12) We all know that women’s perceived economic value is less than men’s. Women are paid less in almost every job. But what’s surprising is that the chances of women getting a job after age 50 are a lot lower than men’s chances of getting a job.

(P13) Solman: But so many more women are in executive positions and have become employers, right?

(P14) Ghilarducci: So many more women are employers and are in executive positions, only because 2 or 3% is a lot more than zero. It is more than we used to have.

(P15) The studies that show that women are discriminated against in hiring mostly reflect how male employers act. I’m not so sure that female employers view women differently, though.

(P16) Solman: Why not?

(P17) Ghilarducci: Well, if you look at our even basic measurement of economic value, our GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT, women’s labor, or caring labor, is not included at all if it’s not bought or sold. Even when caring labor is sold and bought, it’s usually bought by a nursing home or a child care center. And all of those places pay very, very little.

(P18) So the perceived value of “women’s work” is still very low.

(P19) Solman: The standard way to value a life STATISTICALLY is lifetime earnings.

(P20) Ghilarducci: Right. Look at women’s labor and how it’s valued in a WRONGFUL DEATH SUIT. If a male executive dies in an accident and that family sues, the chances are that the insurance company is going to pay out a lot more money than if a woman dies.

(P21) Most of the ways that we value lives are based on EARNING POWER.

(P22) Age discrimination is going to be a bigger problem for women as more and more of them are having to work longer because of their life CIRCUMSTANCES, such as divorce or the EROSION of savings. This age discrimination is going to create a large population of very LOW-INCOME ELDERLY. Women are going to be hurt worse than men.

(P23) Solman: I wouldn’t have thought of a 50-year-old woman as “old.”

(P24) Ghilarducci: Neither do I, nor do I think of a 50-year-old man as being old. But it turns out the labor market views people in their mid-40s as old. The Federal Reserve study has shown that WAGES stop increasing at about the age of 45. And so, from 45 to 55, wages decrease by 9%. From 55 to 65, another 9%. The age of peak earnings is a lot younger than we ever thought. If you don’t get a RAISE at your current job at around age 45, you probably will never get a raise.

(P25) It is also true that if you lose your job at 45 to 50, and you do find another one, your salary will probably be 20% or 25% less.

(P26) That’s one of the reasons why RECESSIONS are so hard on older people. You lose your job THROUGH NO FAULT OF YOUR OWN, based purely on general economic conditions, but when you go back into the labor market, you’re facing a 25% wage decrease.

(P27) The United States leads developed nations in the production of low wage jobs. About 25% of our jobs pay $20,000 dollars a year or less. We are really, really good at creating jobs that barely make the POVERTY LEVEL for a family.

WORDS: 880

SOURCE: http://www.businessinsider.com/a-economist-explains-why-women-over-50-cant-find-jobs-2016-1

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. What is the situation like for women workers in your country?
  3. Is it common in your country for older workers to lose their jobs?
  4. Do you plan and save for your retirement?
  5. Have you had to look for a job in the past few years? Was it easy or difficult to find one?

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.

  • Long-term
  • Age discrimination
  • Gross Domestic Product
  • Wrongful death suit
  • Earning power
  • Through no fault of your own
  • Poverty level

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JAPAN HAS ITS FIRST SUMO CHAMPION IN A DECADE

[SPORTS ★★]

JAPAN HAS ITS FIRST SUMO CHAMPION IN A DECADE

Sumo

(P1) Japan’s long wait for a SUMO CHAMPION has ended after Kotoshogiku became the first Japan-born wrestler in a decade to win a TOURNAMENT.

(P2) The 31-year-old claimed the Emperor’s Cup and SPARKED wild CELEBRATIONS inside the ARENA after throwing his opponent, Goeido, to the ground.

(P3) His victory could mark the beginning of a challenge to years of DOMINATION by Mongolian ATHLETES, and REKINDLE interest in the ancient sport among younger Japanese people.

(P4) The international domination of the traditional Japanese sumo style of WRESTLING began with Konishiki and other Hawaiian wrestlers in the 1990s. It continued with the arrival of the Mongolian wrestler Asashoryu, whose BRILLIANCE in the ring was sometimes TARNISHED by bad behaviour off it.

(P5) No Japan-born wrestler had won a tournament since Tochiazuma exactly a decade ago, and the sport has not had a Japanese grand champion, or yokozuna, since Takanohana retired in 2003.

(P6) Kotoshogiku broke into a BEAMING smile as his win SANK IN. His parents, who were in the crowd, BURST INTO tears, and relatives and friends watching on a big screen in his HOMETOWN of Yanagawa, in south-western Japan, ERUPTED in celebration.

(P7) “It’s hard to find the words to describe how I feel,” said Kotoshogiku, who stands 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 180 kilos (28st 4oz).

(P8) “I am so delighted … I thought about the tough times when I struggled [with injury] and my record was poor, but I have come this far with the support of so many people and the GUIDANCE of my COACH.”

(P9) Traditionalists will hope that Kotoshogiku’s victory marks the beginning of a new era for sumo, whose REPUTATION has been hurt in recent years by a series of SCANDALS, including FIXING, GAMBLING, and drug taking.

WORDS: 295

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/24/japan-born-sumo-wrestler-kotoshogiku-first-in-10-years-to-win-tournament

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. Have you ever won a COMPETITION or a prize? What did it feel like?
  3. Sumo is a very Japanese sport. Are there any sports that are special to your country?
  4. Do you care how athletes from your country perform in international competition, or not very much?
  5. Who is the most famous person from the town where you grew up?

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.

  • Sink in
  • Burst into

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THE ENCHANTING EAST COAST OF CUBA

[TRAVEL ★★★]

THE ENCHANTING EAST COAST OF CUBA

Eastern Cuba

(P1) TURQUOISE water. Sugary white sand. LUSH tropical trees stretching back into a wide MOUNTAIN RANGE. In this forgotten corner of Cuba, you won’t find big RESORTS, just beauty.

Baracoa

(P2) The HUB of Cuba’s eastern end is the tiny city of Baracoa, which has some powerful CLAIMS TO FAME. Not only is it the spot where Christopher Columbus likely first landed on the island, but it was Cuba’s first capital and oldest Spanish SETTLEMENT.

(P3) But Baracoa’s ISOLATION has kept it from becoming a more famous place.

Malecon

(P4) On one side of the Malecòn or BOARDWALK – is the Atlantic Ocean. On the other, El Yunque Mountain rises. During the day, the ATMOSPHERE is TRANQUIL.

(P5) The food in Baracoa is creative. Lechita is a MIXTURE of COCONUT milk, tomatoes, garlic, and spices that’s often poured over SEAFOOD. Chocolate is everywhere.

Cucurucho

(P6) Cucurucho looks like an ice cream cone, but actually consists of shaved coconut, sugar, honey, nuts, guava, and papaya inside a PALM leaf.

National Park

(P7) The Alejandro de Humboldt NATIONAL PARK (named for the famous German scientist) is “one of the most biologically diverse TROPICAL ECOSYSYEMS anywhere on Earth”, and it hosts a lengthy list of ENDEMIC species that includes more than 1,000 flowering plants, mangroves and palm, CACAO, and BANANA trees within its borders.

Taco Bay

(P8) The peaceful Taco Bay is on the edge of the national park.

Underwater_photography_of_fish_and_manatee

(P9) The most famous resident here is the ENDANGERED West Indian MANATEE, which lives in the bay in the summer months.

WORDS: 243

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20151210-an-island-paradise-you-havent-seen

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. What is the most beautiful place you have ever seen?
  3. People either love or hate the flavor of coconut. What foods do you love and hate?
  4. When you go on vacation, do you like to go where there a lot of people, or not many people?
  5. Do the beach towns in your country have boardwalks? What are they like?
  6. Are there famous national parks in your country?

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.

  • Mountain range
  • Claim to fame
  • National park

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FORTY MEN ESCAPE FROM BRAZILIAN PRISON

[WORLD NEWS ★]

FORTY MEN ESCAPE FROM BRAZILIAN PRISON

brazil-prison-break

(P1) Forty INMATES escaped from a prison in the eastern Brazilian city of Recife after a bomb was used to blow a hole in an external wall, authorities there say.

(P2) Most of the prisoners were captured after a MANHUNT through local streets lasting several hours, but two were killed and one remains AT LARGE.

(P3) It is the second mass BREAKOUT in the area in a week.

(P4) On Wednesday, 53 men escaped from another jail on the city OUTSKIRTS and only 13 of them have since been found.

(P5) Social media images broadcast on Brazilian TV captured the moment when the explosion ripped through the external wall of the Frei Damiao de Bozanno prison.

(P6) Minutes before a man in the street walked up to the prison wall, left a package and moved quickly away.

(P7) Seconds after the blast, dozens of men are seen leaping through the hole in a cloud of dust.

(P8) They FANNED OUT into the residential streets, many running into houses.

(P9) The prison guard’s UNION said it had warned the authorities that a breakout was IMMINENT.

(P10) It said that at the time of the explosion, only half the observation towers at the prison were manned because of staff shortages.

(P11) The union said that the state of Pernambuco in which Recife lies has little more than 1,500 prison guards for its PENITENTIARIES when there should be at least 5,000.

(P12) Prisons in the state are often run by electing inmates to maintain security alongside the guards.

(P13) The union also said that like most Brazilian jails, this one was severely OVERCROWDED.

(P14) The prison complex houses four times the number of prisoners it was built for.

WORDS: 277

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35397442

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. Have you ever met anyone who spent time in prison? How did they describe the experience?
  3. What is the REPUTATION of the prisons in your country?
  4. Why would inmates try to escape if they know they will be punished worse if they are re-captured?
  5. Do you think that prison conditions are usually too bad, too good, or about right?

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.

  • At large
  • Fan out

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CHALLENGER ENGINEER STILL FEELS GUILTY 30 YEARS LATER

[TECHNOLOGY ★★]

CHALLENGER ENGINEER STILL FEELS GUILTY 30 YEARS LATER

Challenger

(P1) Thirty years ago, as the nation MOURNED the loss of seven astronauts on the SPACE SHUTTLE Challenger, Bob Ebeling was ENVELOPED in his own deep GRIEF.

(P2) The night before the launch, Ebeling and four other engineers at NASA contractor Morton Thiokol had tried to stop the launch. Their managers and NASA OVERRULED them.

(P3) That night, he told his wife, Darlene, “It’s going to BLOW UP.”

(P4) When Challenger exploded 73 seconds after LIFT-OFF, Ebeling and his colleagues sat STUNNED in a conference room at Thiokol’s headquarters outside Brigham City, Utah.

(P5) They watched the spacecraft explode on a giant television screen and they knew exactly what had happened.

(P6) Three weeks later, Ebeling and another engineer separately and ANONYMOUSLY described that CONTENTIOUS pre-launch meeting to National Public Radio (NPR) journalists. Both were DESPONDENT and in tears as they described hours of arguments. The data showed that the rubber seals on the shuttle’s booster rockets wouldn’t seal properly in cold temperatures, and it was known that this would be the coldest launch ever.

(P7) Ebeling, now 89, is speaking to NPR again on the 30th anniversary of the Challenger explosion, and allowing us to IDENTIFY him.

(P8) “I was one of the few that was really close to the situation,” Ebeling recalls. “Had they listened to me and waited for the weather to change, it might have been a completely different OUTCOME.”

(P9) “I think the truth has to come out. NASA ruled the launch,” he explains. “They had their mind set on going up and proving to the world they were right and they knew what they were doing. But they didn’t.”

(P10) A presidential commission found FLAWS in the space agency’s decision-making process. But it’s still not clear why NASA was so ANXIOUS to launch without delay.

(P11) The space shuttle program had an ambitious launch schedule that year and NASA wanted to show it could launch regularly and RELIABLY. President Ronald Reagan was also set to deliver the STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS that evening and planned to discuss the Challenger launch.

(P12) Whatever the reason, Ebeling says it didn’t JUSTIFY the risk.

(P13) “There was more than enough information there to say, ‘Hey, let’s give it another day or two,’ ” Ebeling recalls. “But no one did.”

(P14) Ebeling retired soon after Challenger. He suffered deep depression and has never been able to lift the BURDEN of guilt. In 1986, as he watched that haunting image again on a television screen, he said, “I could have done more. I should have done more.”

(P15) He says the same thing today, his eyes watery and his face GRAVE. The data he and his fellow engineers presented, and their persistent and sometimes angry arguments, weren’t enough to SWAY Thiokol managers and NASA officials. Ebeling concludes he was INADEQUATE. He feels that he didn’t make the case against launching well enough.

(P16) As a religious man, this is something he has prayed about for the past 30 years.

(P17) “I think that was one of the mistakes that God made,” Ebeling says softly. “He shouldn’t have picked me for the job. But next time I talk to him, I’m gonna ask him, ‘Why me. You picked a loser.’ ”

(P18) I reminded him of something his late colleague and friend Roger Boisjoly once told me. Boisjoly was the other Thiokol engineer who spoke anonymously with NPR 30 years ago. He came to believe that he and Ebeling and their colleagues did all they could.

(P19) “We were talking to the right people,” Boisjoly told me. “We were talking to the people who had the power to stop that launch.”

(P20) “Maybe,” Ebeling says with a weak wave as I leave. “Maybe Roger’s right.”

WORDS: 614

SOURCE: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/28/464744781/30-years-after-disaster-challenger-engineer-still-blames-himself

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 Mr. Ebeling should feel guilty about what happened, or was it beyond his control?
  3. Why was NASA so anxious for the launch to happen on schedule?
  4. The live television coverage of this disaster is among the most memorable broadcasts in history. What news events have you seen on television that you can’t forget?
  5. There hasn’t been a moon landing in more than 40 years, and in general we go into space far less than we used to. Why do you think this is 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.

  • Space shuttle
  • Blow up
  • Lift-off

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