THE TIME TO CANCEL THE RIO OLYMPICS IS NOW

[OPINION ★★]

THE TIME TO CANCEL THE RIO OLYMPICS IS NOW

Zika Mosquito

(P1) It is beginning to look like the time has come to CALL OFF the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The reason is simple: young women cannot travel there safely. While POLLUTED water and security issues have already made things tough for anyone who would be a visitor there, now Brazil is suffering from the MOSQUITO-BORNE ZIKA VIRUS EPIDEMIC. To host the Games at a site TEEMING with Zika, an OUTBREAK the World Health Organization (WHO) has labelled a “public health emergency of international concern,” is IRRESPONSIBLE.

(P2) Who is going to go to Rio in the middle of a Zika outbreak? Not young women fans, who might get pregnant and risk giving birth to a child with a BIRTH DEFECT. Not male fans who are sexually active and risk transmitting the disease to a partner. Maybe the athletes, coaches, and other members of national Olympic teams will travel to Rio.

(P3) Imagine playing a sport so well that it earns you a spot on your country’s Olympic team. All of the time, sweat, and money you’ve dedicated to your sport have resulted in an opportunity to compete with the best in the world. If you are one of those gifted and fortunate enough to compete in the Rio Games, you want to go. This may be your only chance to PARTICIPATE in the Olympics.

(P4) So, athletes may still want to go to Rio. But there is no way the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should let them. Corporations and media organizations also need to put safety ahead of their BOTTOM LINES.

(P5) Virus-carrying bugs attacking people in a city hosting a sports mega-event sounds like the basis of a Hollywood plot line. But this is no sci-fi or action movie. And it’s certainly not THE STUFF OF comedy or B-movies, either. The Zika virus is real, of course, and it requires a COORDINATED response from government institutions, health care organizations, and local and regional communities.

(P5) WHO officials said the virus is “spreading rapidly,” and could infect between 3 million to 4 million people within one year. Adding to the ANXIETY is that the particular type of mosquitoes that transmit Zika are the same ones that help spread diseases such as dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya.

(P6) The IOC is advising national Olympic committees to KEEP TABS ON and follow WHO guidance. IOC officials aren’t overly concerned about the Games taking place as planned in light of the Zika outbreak. Organizers in Rio are of the same thinking.

(P7) This is a risky—maybe even crazy—approach.

(P8) By the time the Games start, many fans aren’t likely to attend. The media will report on nothing but mosquitos and birth defects, more than a few athletes and coaching staffs will BALK at competing in Rio, and Brazil will be sinking further into debt trying to battle an epidemic while paying for the Games.

(P9) The IOC needs to either move the Games, POSTPONE them, or cancel them. Prevention is the best course in the face of a serious threat to humanity.

WORDS: 523

SOURCE: http://www.forbes.com/sites/leeigel/2016/02/03/zika-outbreak-means-it-is-now-time-to-cancel-rio-olympics/#da6bc5c4f922

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 the Olympics will be cancelled before the summer?
  3. If you were an athlete, would you go?
  4. If you were a spectator, would you go?
  5. Are mosquitoes and the illnesses they carry a problem 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.

  • Call off
  • Mosquito-borne
  • Zika virus
  • Birth defect
  • Bottom line
  • The stuff of
  • Keep tabs on

Cambly Practice Button

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

Cambly Practice Button

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE IS THE GREATEST BRITON

[OPINION ★★]

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE IS THE GREATEST BRITON

Shakespeare

(P1) Britain is a very fortunate land in at least one respect. For the last four centuries, the greatest Briton has not been a king or a general, an ARISTOCRAT or a political leader, but a poet and dramatist. This best of us all was not a man of action or wealth but of literature.

(P2) William Shakespeare’s HERITAGE is PASSED DOWN through the generations. It is in the language we use, the phrases we UTTER, the conversations we have, and in the images and references we use to express ourselves and to imagine our country and its history.

(P3) Shakespeare requires no ANNIVERSARY year to be CELEBRATED. This EXTRAORDINARY man, who seems to have known everything there ever was to know about human beings, was in so many ways so very ordinary. We can still relate to him.

(P4) Yet 2016 is nevertheless the 400th anniversary of his death in 1616 and, since big Shakespeare anniversaries only happen about once every 50 years, we should make something special out of it. There is only joy in celebrating the gift that Shakespeare has given the people of this country and the world for the past 400 years.

(P5) There will of course be serious exhibitions, SYMPOSIUMS, and other events to mark the year.

(P6) But the living COMMEMORATION will be in the plays, almost 40 of them, which as usual are being PERFORMED in every corner of the globe, and in every imaginable way. They will be done straight, cut, adapted, updated, reimagined, danced, sung, with and without music, indoors, outdoors, by professionals, by AMATEURS, in English and in other languages.

(P7) Shakespeare is hardly NEGLECTED in British life. But we can always treat him better and more imaginatively than we do. When we make NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS, many of us COULD DO WORSE than make two Shakespearian VOWS for 2016. First, to see a Shakespeare play, PREFERABLY one that is not done so often, in order to celebrate the work itself; and, second, if possible, to see the play in Stratford-upon-Avon, where his story started and ended.

WORDS: 332

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/31/the-guardian-view-on-shakespeares-400th-anniversary-the-plays-the-thing

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 greatest person ever from your country?
  3. Have you ever seen a Shakespeare play on stage or film?
  4. Have you ever acted in a play (maybe while you were in school)?
  5. Do you think it is important to celebrate the past?

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.

  • Pass down
  • New Year’s resolution
  • Could do worse

Cambly Practice Button

MARK ZUCKERBERG IS TAKING 2MO OFF TO BE WITH HIS NEWBORN

[OPINIONS ★★]

Mark Zuckerberg is taking 2 months off to be with his newborn — here’s why Facebook employees say his decision is so importantzuckerbergchan

(P1) Long before it was trendy, Facebook cultivated a company culture where it’s taboo for dads not to take parental leave, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent announcement cements Facebook’s status as a compelling case study for how to make parental leave policies work.

(P2) While it’s unclear how much time he plans to take during the year following his child’s birth — many dads at Facebook split their time rather than take the available four months at once — last week Zuckerberg announced on Facebook that he would take two months of leave following the arrival of his and wife Priscilla Chan’s daughter, citing the benefits that come when working parents take time to be with their newborns.

(P3) The news comes at a critical time for American parents: Currently the US is the only developed nation in the world that doesn’t ensure any paid time off for new moms, according to a report from the International Labor Organization.

(P4) In light of the lack of federal policy, some of the country’s biggest tech companies like Netflix, Microsoft, and Adobe have stepped up their paid parental leave policies, while CEOs who have chosen not to take more parental leave themselves have come under fire for not leading by example.

(P5) For the most part, generous parental leave policies are a brave new world for American companies. One vital lesson we’ve learned from Facebook is that taking parental leave from the top is key to seeing it trickle down. “We hear from our people that [parental leave] really matters to them, they care about it, and take it, which is fantastic,” Lori Goler, head of human resources at Facebook, previously told Business Insider. In fact, employees at Facebook love the policy so much that they rate it a resounding five out of five stars on Glassdoor, a workplace ratings and review site.

(P6) But this level of adoption isn’t always the case when it comes to generous leave policies. Stewart Friedman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, previously told Business Insider that when he studied unlimited-vacation policies, the main issue he saw was employees’ fear of using vacation days and looking less committed than their colleagues.

(P7) A study by Boston College’s Center for Work & Family found 86% of men surveyed said they wouldn’t use paternity leave or parental leave unless they were paid at least 70% of their normal salaries. This is devastating, especially in light of research out of Israel that shows the more leave men take to care for children when they’re young, the more the fathers undergo changes in the brain that make them better suited to parenting. And a study by two Columbia University Social Work professors found that fathers who take two or more weeks off after their child is born are more involved in their child’s care nine months later. Simply put, paid paternity leave can help foster better father-child relationships.

(P8) And the more leave fathers take, the more mothers’ incomes increase. In Sweden, where fathers must take at least two months off before the child is 8 years old to receive the government benefits, researchers saw mothers’ incomes increase almost 7% for every month of paternity leave their husbands took.

(P9) Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, vice president of the 600-person ads and pages team, previously told Business Insider that people at Facebook are passionate about what they do, so it’s natural for parents to feel like they’ll miss out on their work. He strongly encourages all his dads and moms to take their full leave — it’s all about making the right guarantee. “You say, ‘Look, this is guaranteed not to affect your career — not just by law, but by the way Facebook operates,” he said. “You know, we have a tremendously deep respect for people building their families,” Bosworth said. “It’s the most important thing for society. So you gotta take the conflicts out of it.”

(P10) Bosworth is well known throughout Facebook for his belief that the true test of a leader is how long they can be away from work. “It’s really irresponsible for any member of the company, parent or otherwise, to have information or an ability that [nobody else has], because that means it’s a liability to the company,” he said. “If you’re a single point of failure, especially in an engineering organization like Facebook, that’s strictly a bad thing.”

(P11) Zuck’s announcement demonstrates that this idea is just as much at play for the CEO as anyone else in the company. “From the top to the bottom, I think the nice thing is, the leaders of the company are the ones who are pushing it the most because they know there’s a responsibility there,” said Adam Isserlis, a manager of corporate communications at Facebook who took leave following the birth of his daughter in December 2013.

(P12) He said that new parents can never get those first few months with a child back, so it seemed shortsighted for him to worry more about missing out on work than the first year of his daughter’s life. “That’s the way this was presented to me here at Facebook,” he said. “It’s like, ‘Things will come and go, and we’ll handle them, we’ll deal with them, but you should be with your family’ — that’s a really important and wonderful thing.”

WORDS: 900

SOURCE: http://www.businessinsider.com/mark-zuckerberg-just-made-facebooks-parental-leave-policy-even-better-2015-11

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. Why does CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s paternity leave make a strong case study for how to make parental leave policies work?
  3. Why did paid parental leave policies at other tech companies not work? (P4-5)
  4. What are some benefits of paternitiy leaves? (P7-8)
  5. Describe parental leave policy at your company? How has it improved compared to when you were young?

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.

  • Split their time
  • In light of
  • Step up
  • Come under fire
  • Trickle down

Cambly Practice Button

LEARNING TO SAY “NO” TO YOUR CHILDREN

[OPINION ★]

LEARNING TO SAY “NO” TO YOUR CHILDREN

girl wants

(P1) These days, kids have more demands than ever.

(P2) Never before have children been MARKETED to more AGGRESSIVELY than they are now. Never before have parents allowed marketers so many direct routes of access to their kids – social media, TV, the internet, even schools and EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES. We are increasingly UNWILLING to pay for content, so ADVERTISERS are STEPPING UP TO THE PLATE to FOOT THE BILL – and in return, we allow them to turn our kids into consumers.

(P3) As a parent, this BREAKS MY HEART.

(P4) Our kids are more than consumers.

(P5) I don’t like the idea of multimillion dollar advertising campaigns aimed at MANIPULATING my daughter’s desires. I don’t like companies using cartoon characters to sell unhealthy food, or gender STEREOTYPES to sell toys.

(P6) The solution has to come from parents.

(P7) First, cut off the advertising at its source – especially important as we head into the holiday season. Be a crazy parent and shelter your child away from as many ads as you can.

(P8) For older kids, install an ad blocker on your web browser and then encourage them to financially support the sites, artists, and media they value. The goal isn’t to isolate them from pop culture or media altogether – that would be tragic – but to allow them to be aware of what they’re INGESTING.

(P9) Second, do not give in to your children’s TANTRUMS in stores.

(P10) Try to prevent this situation altogether. Before you enter a store, explain what you are there to buy. Tell your kids they can look at things, but that they will not be taking anything home.

(P11) Now, the hard part. STICK TO what you said. You must be strong, firm, and RESOLUTE. The key is just not to GIVE IN. Ever.

(P12) Your children should know what to expect. ELIMINATE UNCERTAINTY.

(P13) I think that kids want limits. They want PREDICTABILITY. They want to trust that you can make good decisions for them until they’re able to make them for themselves.

(P14) Choosing to SWIM AGAINST THE TIDE of a consumer economy isn’t easy.

(P15) Parents, it’s OK to say no. It’s also OK to say: not yet.

WORDS: 355

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/nov/24/holiday-season-say-no-advertising-children

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 agree with the writer of the article that children are exposed too much to advertising and marketing?
  3. Do you think that raising children has become too expensive?
  4. How would you control your child’s demands?
  5. Have holidays become too commercial?

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.

  • Extracurricular activities
  • Step up to the plate
  • Foot the bill
  • Break your heart
  • Stick to
  • Give in
  • Swim against the tide

Cambly Practice Button

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

Cambly Practice Button

WOMEN SHOULD BE SUBJECT TO THE MILITARY DRAFT

[OPINION ★★]

WOMEN SHOULD BE SUBJECT TO THE MILITARY DRAFT

Military Women

(P1) President Obama and I agree: Equality for women should mean equal SUBJECTION to DRAFT REGISTRATION.

(P2) Will America’s military be FUNDAMENTALLY transformed? Maybe.

(P3) I’m against a draft in general, despite ONGOING efforts by people like  Congressman Charles Rangel to bring it back. But if we’re going to have a draft, I don’t see why it shouldn’t apply to women, too. And I’m happy to see that President Obama agrees with me.

(P4) In the old days, a nation could lose a large CHUNK of its FIGHTING-AGE men and still BOUNCE BACK, so long as its FERTILE women remained.

(P5) But nowadays, women’s primary activity is no longer childbearing, and many women will never have kids at all. And even those who do have kids often delay childbearing until their late 20s or even 30s, long after any draft-induced military service would end.

(P6) There’s also the question of fairness. In the past, it maybe made sense to require men to PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE for their nation. But we have equality, now. Women vote, are overrepresented among college graduates, live longer than men, and so on.

(P7) Meanwhile, to be CONSCRIPTED into the military is to be ripped from your home, friends and family, to see your life plans PUT ON HOLD, and to be subjected to a kind of harsh DISCIPLINE that civilians never encounter — while being placed at the risk of death. If men, who have historically been subjected to this, are to remain subject to it in the future, then why shouldn’t women?

(P8) In today’s modern society, I see no reason why men should be subjected to the draft, or to its PRECURSOR, registration, while women are not.

(P9) This puts me ON THE SAME PAGE as President Obama, who has backed draft registration for women. Here’s what Obama said in 2008: “I think that if women are registered for service, I think it will help to send a message to my two daughters that they’ve got OBLIGATIONS to this great country as well as boys do.”

(P10) I agree. Women should be just as subject to draft registration as men. That’s what equality means.

WORDS: 361

SOURCE: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/10/15/glenn-reynolds-draft-women-why-not-equality-sexes-column/73930900/

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. In Israel, there is MANDATORY military service for both men and women; in South Korea, only for men. Which system do you think is better?
  3. Do you think that women in the military should serve in COMBAT, or not?
  4. Has anyone in your family served in the military?
  5. Is the idea of equality between men and women completely accepted 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.

  • Draft registration
  • Fighting-age
  • Bounce back
  • Put life on the line
  • Put on hold
  • On the same page

Cambly Practice Button