BERLIN PHILHARMONIC NAMES RUSSIAN AS NEW CONDUCTOR

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★★]

BERLIN PHILHARMONIC NAMES RUSSIAN AS NEW CONDUCTOR

Kirill Petrenko

(P1) The Berlin Philharmonic, REGARDED as one of the world’s best orchestras, TAPPED 43-year-old Russian Kirill Petrenko as its new chief conductor, it announced last week.

(P2) In a secret vote the day before, the orchestra’s 124 musicians picked Petrenko “by a big MAJORITY” as a SUCCESSOR to Britain’s Sir Simon Rattle, who is STEPPING DOWN in 2018, orchestra leaders said in a HASTILY arranged news conference.

(P3) Petrenko, currently general music director (GMD) at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, was not at the news conference, but said in a statement released by the orchestra that words could not SUM UP the emotions he felt on TAKING OVER. His START DATE is still being NEGOTIATED.

(P4) “I will MOBILISE all my strength to be a WORTHY leader of this EXTRAORDINARY orchestra and am AWARE also of the responsibility and the high EXPECTATIONS,” he said in a STATEMENT.

(P5)The announcement was UNEXPECTED after members of the orchestra failed to elect a new chief conductor in May.

(P6) While Petrenko’s name was FREQUENTLY mentioned as a possible candidate, he had been seen as having only an OUTSIDE CHANCE because he is NOTORIOUSLY MEDIA-SHY, a TRAIT which would not seem to SIT WELL WITH such a HIGH-PROFILE APPOINTMENT.

(P7) Petrenko was born in Omsk, in southwest Siberia, in 1972. The son of a violinist and MUSICOLOGIST, he studied piano at the local CONSERVATORY and performed as a soloist with the town’s orchestra at the age of 11.

(P8) He first CAME TO INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION while he was the MUSIC DIRECTOR in the tiny town of Meiningen in the east German state of Thuringia for his INTERPRETATION of Richard Wagner’s four-opera RING CYCLE in 2001.

(P9) After that, he moved to Berlin’s Komische Oper (Comic Opera) from 2002 until 2007 when he was invited to conduct some of the world’s leading orchestras.

(P10) Extremely MODEST and SELF-EFFACING, Petrenko has a REPUTATION for being a PERFECTIONIST, a FANATICALLY METICULOUS “musician’s conductor”, PAINSTAKING in his PREPARATION and REHEARSALS, and with an ability to DRAW OUT the best from his orchestra.

(P11) He never gives interviews and has made few recordings. Despite EFFUSIVE praise HEAPED on his Ring in Bayreuth – which he conducts for the last time this year – he refuses to allow a live recording to be made.

(P12) With an INFECTIOUS smile, he has quickly WOWED critics and audiences alike in Munich. He was named “conductor of the year” by Germany’s leading opera magazine, Opernwelt, in 2014.

(P13) The Berlin Philharmonic is UNIQUE in the world of classical music in that the members of the orchestra choose the chief conductor. On May 11, the 124 voting members had been called to a church building in the southwest of the German capital in the morning.

(P14) Members are SWORN TO SECRECY, and are even REQUIRED to leave their mobile phones and any recording devices outside for the CONCLAVE.

(P15) But the vote was DELAYED several times through the evening.

(P16) INSIDERS said the vote failed because the overall favourite, Christian Thielemann, failed to MUSTER an OVERALL majority.

(P17) A Berlin native, 56-year-old Thielemann is nearly UNRIVALLED in the CORE German REPERTOIRE of Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, and Strauss.

(P18) But after Rattle worked hard to EXPAND the Philharmonic’s repertoire, moving into both BAROQUE and contemporary music, REJUVENATING the RANKS of both the orchestra and its AUDIENCES, Thielemann’s much NARROWER and more CONSERVATIVE tastes were seen as a possible STEP BACK. The other hot favourite was Latvian Andris Nelsons, 37, who heads the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

(P19) Rattle, who has led the “Berliner Philharmoniker” since 2002, will take over as chief conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra in 2017. The 60-year-old Englishman will spend the year after that COMMUTING to London from Berlin – where he lives with his third wife, MEZZO SOPRANO Magdalena Kozena, and their young family – before finally HANDING OVER the Berlin BATON.

(P20) Petrenko will be the Berlin Philharmonic’s seventh chief conductor in its history.

WORDS: 672

SOURCE: http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/arts-entertainment/article/1831923/berlin-philharmonic-names-russian-outsider-new

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 classical music, or do you prefer popular music styles?
  3. If you were famous, would you be media-shy, or would you welcome media attention?
  4. Why has the Berlin Philharmonic’s selection of chief conductors sometimes been compared to the Roman Catholic Church’s selection of popes?
  5. Kirill Petrenko will be under a lot of PRESSURE as the chief conductor of one of the world’s greatest orchestras. Do you do well under pressure, or not?

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.

  • Step down
  • Sum up
  • Take over
  • Start date
  • Outside chance
  • Media-shy
  • Sit well with
  • High-profile
  • Come to attention
  • Self-effacing
  • Draw out
  • Sworn to secrecy
  • Step back
  • Hand over

PRACTICE ARTICLE NOW

ITALIAN MAFIA LINKED TO AUSTRALIAN POLITICIANS

[WORLD NEWS ★]

ITALIAN MAFIA LINKED TO AUSTRALIAN POLITICIANS

Ndrangheta

(P1) Links between the Italian MAFIA organization known as the ‘Ndrangheta and senior Australian politicians have been UNCOVERED in a JOINT INVESTIGATION.

(P2) The ‘Ndrangheta is one of the world’s most powerful criminal groups and is one of the major players in the world of international drug TRAFFICKING.

(P3) In Australia it OPERATES using threats and violence in both LEGITIMATE businesses, such as fruit and vegetable sales, and illegitimate businesses, such as drugs.

(P4) The investigation has REVEALED a series of contacts between known and SUSPECTED criminals and senior politicians.

(P5) The son of an ALLEGED mafia boss worked at the Australian EMBASSY in Rome.

(P6) While there is no direct evidence that the embassy PLACEMENT — which involved the man’s son working in a CLERICAL role — led to any actual SECURITY BREACHES, security agencies have described it as a major LAPSE.

(P7) In another incident, a visa was GRANTED for a crime boss who was later jailed for drug trafficking and IMPLICATED in a murder PLOT.

(P8) The man, who is the brother of a well-known Melbourne businessman, has an EXTENSIVE criminal history in Italy.

(P9) Just a couple of years later, the man was involved in one of Australia’s largest ever drug BUSTS.

(P10) Who are the ‘Ndrangheta?

(P11) A mafia group from Calabria in the south of Italy. There are thought to be ROUGHLY 6,000 members in the world today.

(P12) Whilst not as well-known as the Sicilian mafia, the ‘Ndrangheta is the most powerful criminal organisation in the world.

(P13) The group’s best-known crime was the 1973 KIDNAPPING of the grandson of oil TYCOON John Paul Getty. His ear was chopped off to GARNER a RANSOM from his grandfather.

WORDS: 290

SOURCE: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-29/italian-mafia-group-linked-to-senior-australian-politicians/6579076

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 benefits could criminals and politicians provide to each other?
  3. Government CORRUPTION is a serious issue around the world. What discussions about this issue have taken place in your country?
  4. Is one political party better than another, or are they all about the same?
  5. The Italian and Russian mafias are famous, as are the Mexican and Colombian drug CARTELS. Who do you think are the scariest criminals in the world?

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.

  • Security breach

PRACTICE ARTICLE NOW

AEROMEXICO INVESTIGATED IN COLLUSION PROBE

[BUSINESS ★★]

AEROMEXICO INVESTIGATED IN COLLUSION PROBE

An Aeromexico aeroplane flies before landing on the airstrip at Benito Juarez international airport in Mexico City, July 8, 2015. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

(P1) Mexico’s largest airline, Grupo Aeromexico, is at the center of a PRICE AND MARKET-FIXING INVESTIGATION being led by the country’s competition authority, which CONDUCTED a DAWN RAID on the airline’s head office earlier this year.

(P2) Competition regulator Cofece has asked Aeromexico for information about its agreements with other airlines, sources said.

(P3) Reuters could not VERIFY with which companies Aeromexico might be SUSPECTED of having COLLUDED. The carrier is part of the SkyTeam Alliance, has numerous CODE-SHARING AGREEMENTS, and is currently trying to get APPROVAL for an ANTITRUST EXEMPTION for a JOINT VENTURE with Delta Air Lines, which owns a small STAKE in the Mexican CARRIER.

(P4) The U.S. Department of Justice has launched a similar but separate investigation into whether U.S. airlines have worked together illegally to keep airfares high.

(P5) The Mexican investigation could serve as a TEST CASE for the country’s new COMPETITION LAW, which AIMS to break up heavily CONCENTRATED SECTORS such as banking, telecommunications, and transport. It also means that ALLIANCES between airlines are being PUT UNDER A MICROSCOPE.

(P6) Earlier this year, officials from Cofece TURNED UP at Aeromexico’s Mexico City headquarters without PRIOR warning as part of the investigation. The investigators were there until early the next morning making copies of documents and hard drives to take away.

(P7) A spokesman for Aeromexico DECLINED to answer questions about the investigation and referred to a company FILING after Cofece’s April announcement in which it said it would COOPERATE with authorities.

(P8) Cofece said in April it was looking into “absolute MONOPOLISTIC practices” in the transportation of passengers and or CARGO, but it did not name the TARGETS of the PROBE. The raid on Aeromexico is the only one so far in the investigation.

(P9) Companies found to be colluding can be fined up to 10 percent of income, have directors BANNED for up to five years or jailed for up to 10, according to Mexico’s new competition law.

(P10) If Aeromexico and Delta win U.S. and Mexican IMMUNITY from antitrust regulations for their joint venture, it would allow passengers to RESERVE, buy, and fly INTERCHANGEABLY between them, according to a March filing.

(P11) Delta owns a 4.17-percent stake in Aeromexico, and its President Ed Bastian sits on both BOARDS OF DIRECTORS.

(P12) The three other larger local air carriers are Interjet, Volaris, and Vivaaerobus. Aeromexico also has a codeshare agreement with regional carrier Aeromar.

(P13) Volaris Chief Executive Enrique Beltranena said on a CONFERENCE CALL in April that Volaris was not part of the investigation.

(P14) A spokeswoman for Vivaaerobus said that the company was cooperating with the investigation. Interjet declined to comment, and Aeromar did not return a request for comment.

(P15) Investigators do not need a judge-signed WARRANT to carry out raids in Mexico, just “OBJECTIVE cause” that there could be collusion, though the UNANNOUNCED visits are later subject to JUDICIAL REVIEW.

(P16) The Aeromexico visit was one of the first under the new competition law passed in 2014, which some lawyers have described as among the toughest in the world.

WORDS: 534

SOURCE: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/09/us-aeromexico-investigation-idUSKCN0PJ23520150709

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 do most countries have laws against competing businesses colluding on pricing and other market issues?
  3. What is your preferred airline to fly on?
  4. Are there multiple air carriers in your country, or only one major airline?
  5. Why are international business agreements legally complicated?

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.

  • Price-fixing
  • Joint venture
  • Test case
  • Put under a microscope
  • Turn up
  • Conference call
  • Judicial review

PRACTICE ARTICLE NOW

POOR EDUCATION IS A KILLER

[EDUCATION ★★]

POOR EDUCATION IS A KILLER

[ File # csp9751902, License # 1973128 ] Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php) (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / maxxyustas

(P1) MORTALITY ATTRIBUTABLE to low education “is comparable in MAGNITUDE to mortality attributable to individuals being current rather than former smokers,” concludes a published study.

(P2) The conclusion adds: “Existing research suggests that a SUBSTANTIAL part of the association between education and mortality is CAUSAL.”

(P3) The authors say that increasing levels of education could SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE adult death rates in the US.

(P4) The MECHANISMS CITED by which higher educational ATTAINMENT is linked to reduced death risk include:

(P5) Dr. Virginia Chang, associate professor of population health at New York University School of Medicine, says: “In public health policy, we often focus on changing health behaviors such as diet, smoking and drinking. Education – which is a more FUNDAMENTAL DRIVER of health behaviors and DISPARITIES – should also be a KEY ELEMENT of US health policy.”

(P6) The authors conclude: “Our results suggest that policies and INTERVENTIONS that improve educational attainment could substantially improve survival in the US population, especially given WIDENING educational disparities.”

(P7) The researchers used data from the National Health Interview Survey carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(P8) Data ENABLING an ESTIMATE of the number of deaths attributed to low levels of education were available on more than a million people from 1986 to 2006. The team studied people born in 1925, 1935 and 1945 to look at changes over the generations.

(P9) The results showed that 145,243 deaths could have been saved in the 2010 population if adults who had not completed high school went on to earn a General Educational Development or high school degree.

(P10) This figure was comparable to the estimated number of deaths that could be AVERTED if all current smokers had the mortality rates of former smokers.

(P11) The team also estimated that 110,068 deaths could be saved if adults with some college education went on to complete a bachelor’s degree.

(P12) The differences in death rates across different levels of education grew substantially over time, say the researchers.

(P13) For example, mortality rates fell MODESTLY among those with high school degrees, but much more RAPIDLY among those with college degrees. Therefore, encouraging adults who have not finished high school to do so could save twice as many lives among those born in 1945 compared with the generation born in 1925.

(P14) Patrick Krueger, PhD, assistant professor in the department of health and behavioral sciences at the University of Colorado Denver, says: “Unless these TRENDS change, the mortality attributable to low education will continue to increase in the future.”

WORDS: 451

SOURCE: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/296491.php

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 with better education make better choices about health, finances, etc.?
  3. Is the level of educational attainment in your country improving? How does the government encourage this?
  4. Do you think that the rate of smoking in your country is going down?
  5. Do you plan on getting more formal education and degrees?

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.

  • Well-being

PRACTICE ARTICLE NOW

GOLFER RORY MCILROY WILL MISS BRITISH OPEN WITH ANKLE INJURY

[SPORTS ★]

GOLFER RORY MCILROY WILL MISS BRITISH OPEN WITH ANKLE INJURY

Rory

(P1) Rory McIlroy won’t be back to DEFEND his TITLE in the Open Championship, the first time in 61 years the defending CHAMPION will not be playing.

(P2) The world’s No. 1 player announced Wednesday that a RUPTURED LIGAMENT in his left ankle will keep him from playing in the Open Championship at St. Andrews.

(P3) McIlroy said he INJURED his ankle while playing soccer with friends in Northern Ireland over the weekend. He was hopeful that he would RECOVER in time for The Open, but decided two days later it was not worth risking a full recovery.

(P4) He will be the first player not to defend his Open title since Ben Hogan in 1954. Hogan won the only Open Championship he played in 1953 at Carnoustie.

(P5) “We are NATURALLY very disappointed that Rory will be UNABLE to defend his title at St. Andrews next week,” the R&A said in a STATEMENT. “Rory will play in many more Open Championships and our PRIMARY CONCERN is for his complete recovery.”

(P6) He was REPLACED in the field by Russell Knox, who grew up in Inverness in the north of Scotland and will be making his Open DEBUT.

(P7) His absence makes Jordan Spieth the favorite at St. Andrews in his QUEST for the Grand Slam. Spieth is only the fourth player since 1960 to have won the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same year.

(P8) “It’s HUGELY disappointing, especially with him and Jordan and everything that’s going on,” Graeme McDowell said from the Scottish Open.

(P9) “It was looking to be a really exciting Open for all involved. I’m sure he’s really disappointed. … No one would love to STOP JORDAN IN HIS TRACKS next week more than Rory. With the fun RIVALRY going on and everything, he’s going to be GUTTED. I saw the golf course last Saturday. I believed that Rory was rightly a favorite. I thought he’d get it done around there.”

(P10) Still to be determined is how long the ankle injury keeps McIlroy out of golf.

(P11) He also is the defending champion in the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone on Aug. 6-9, and the PGA Championship the following week at Whistling Straits. McIlroy finished one shot out of a playoff when the PGA Championship was last held there in 2010.

(P12) “We want him back. Everybody does,” Spieth said Tuesday at the John Deere Classic. “It’s unlucky, it’s UNFORTUNATE, and I’m sure he’s taking it harder on himself than anybody else.

(P13) “But I don’t think he did anything wrong, it was just an unfortunate situation. And hopefully, he REBOUNDS quickly and gets back right to where he was.”

(P14) Spieth will have a chance to replace McIlroy at No. 1 in the world with a good finish at the John Deere and a victory at St. Andrews.

(P15) Tiger Woods is the only other No. 1 player to miss a major championship — the British Open and PGA Championship in 2008 recovering from knee surgery, and the Masters last year when he had surgery on his back.

(P16) Knox was first ALTERNATE from the world ranking published Monday, and he was hopeful he would get into his first Open.

(P17) This wasn’t what he had in mind.

(P18) “Everyone is gutted for Rory,” Knox said after his pro-am round at the Scottish Open. “He is in the PRIME of his career and would have had a great chance to win there. Nobody wants to get in because someone else got injured. It’s a horrible way to get in, I guess, but I’m very happy I’m in the field.”

(P19) McIlroy has never won at St. Andrews, though the Old Course is special to him. It was at the Dunhill Links in 2007 that he finished third to earn his European Tour card.

(P20) And he tied a major championship record with a 63 in the opening round of the 2010 British Open at St. Andrews, only to follow with an 80 when a big wind arrived the next day. He tied for third that year.

(P21) He PUT A SCARE INTO the leaders at Chambers Bay in the final round of the U.S. Open, closing with a 66.

(P22) “It BODES well for the rest of the summer the way I’ve hit the ball this week,” McIlroy said before leaving Chambers Bay.

(P23) “And I’ve got a couple of weeks to work on my putting and get that up to the shape that it has been in. If I can do that … I’m really excited about what can happen over the summer.”

WORDS: 784

SOURCE: http://espn.go.com/golf/theopen15/story/_/id/13221271/rory-mcilroy-says-miss-open-championship-ankle-injury

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. Was it UNWISE of Rory McIlroy to play RECREATIONAL soccer a few weeks before a major golf championship?
  3. Have you ever played golf, or would you like to? Do you think golf is very difficult?
  4. The “Old Course” at St. Andrews has a special AURA because it is considered the BIRTHPLACE of golf. What places in your country have a special aura?
  5. Jordan Spieth is considered a PHENOM because he has won six golf tournaments before turning 22, including the last two major championships. Who have been famous sports phenoms from 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.

  • Stop in his tracks
  • Put a scare

PRACTICE ARTICLE NOW

CYBER SECURITY CRISIS DEMANDS NEW ANSWERS

[OPINION ★★★]

CYBER SECURITY CRISIS DEMANDS NEW ANSWERS

the-nsa-trained-edward-snowden-to-be-an-elite-hacker

(P1) The Internet era is GIVING WAY to the age of cyber VULNERABILITY.

(P2) The long list of private companies that have been PATSIES for HACKERS includes Target, Home Depot and most recently health INSURER Anthem, which exposed the records of a BREATHTAKING 80 million of its customers and employees.

(P3) As INFURIATING as it is when business computer systems crash, or when credit card data are stolen, attacks on the government are far more serious because they THREATEN national security. WITNESS the EPIC theft of sensitive data from computers at the Office of Personnel Management, the government’s HUMAN RESOURCES department.

(P4) Hackers, whom government officials have linked to China, broke into computers at OPM and stayed there UNDETECTED for months, downloading VAST amounts of information on millions of current and former federal employees. The hackers took millions of the forms used by people to DISCLOSE INTIMATE details of their lives for national security CLEARANCES. The information could be used to UNMASK COVERT agents or to try to BLACKMAIL Americans into spying for an enemy.

(P5) It’s still not clear how many people’s records were stolen. The total could be 18 million or more, and OPM Director Katherine Archuleta is expected to RELEASE a number as soon as this week. On Wednesday, at the fifth congressional HEARING since OPM disclosed the attacks last month, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, promised to KEEP THE HEAT ON: “We will … continue to demand better answers from OPM on the EXTENT of this BREACH,” he said.

(P6) Government employees have received letters promising them 18 months of credit MONITORING services. That’s COLD COMFORT to people whose clearances contained information about drug abuse, money troubles, affairs, mental health treatment and other sensitive information.

(P7) Michael Hayden, the former head of the NSA and the CIA, told The Wall Street Journal that the EMBARRASSING theft was “a TREMENDOUSLY BIG DEAL.” How did it happen? “RAW INCOMPETENCE,” he said.

(P8) That sounds ABOUT RIGHT.

(P9) Last fall, OPM’s inspector general detailed numerous LONGSTANDING FLAWS in the agency’s computer security systems. An ANALYSIS by the tech site Ars Technica said the BREAK-IN probably began as a PHISHING email, which TYPICALLY tries to get an employee to click on a link or open an attachment that then secretly INSTALLS MALWARE.

(P10) That let the hackers in, and EVENTUALLY they had THE RUN OF OPM’s computers.

(P11) Government computers are GUARDED by a system called “Einstein” that SADLY doesn’t seem as smart as its NAMESAKE: It looks for SUSPICIOUS network ACTIVITY based largely on known attacks, but isn’t SKILLED at IDENTIFYING new ones.

(P12) Blame for the OPM breach includes AGENCY managers, though there’s EVIDENCE they were trying to fix the problems. More important than identifying officials to fire is finding out how many other government agencies are just as vulnerable and fixing that — now.

(P13) How to RESPOND? In past incidents, U.S. computer experts are said to have TRACKED stolen data to hackers’ servers and ALTERED or destroyed them there. If so, GODSPEED. Last year the Justice Department INDICTED five ALLEGED Chinese hackers for stealing commercial data, despite the almost zero LIKELIHOOD they’ll ever see the inside of a U.S. courtroom.

(P14) Publicly CALLING OUT the Chinese, who DENY doing any of this, raises the price of that behavior.

(P15) CONFRONTING China more AGGRESSIVELY is TEMPTING; an executive order AUTHORIZES SANCTIONS when cyberattacks threaten national security. But that seems UNLIKELY. James Clapper, director of national intelligence, publicly CONCEDED the U.S. would do the same thing to China if it could, and he openly ADMIRED the hackers’ skill: “You have to kind of SALUTE the Chinese for what they did.”

(P16) If the government isn’t going to PLAY OFFENSE — or isn’t going to PUBLICIZE it if it does — it’s going to have to get much better at defense. This situation simply cannot continue. Whether it’s the ROLLOUT of the Obamacare website or these attacks on an UNFORGIVABLY vulnerable computer system, the administration seems to need a DISASTER before it wakes up and gets technology right. It certainly has another one ON ITS HANDS now.

WORDS: 692

SOURCE: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/07/08/opm-chinese-cyberattack-hacking-computers-personnel-data-editorials-debates/29839141/

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 been the victim of IDENTITY THEFT?
  3. Are hackers smarter than LEGITIMATE computer programmers?
  4. Is it actually possible to protect people’s personal information on the Internet?
  5. What kinds of cyberattack could do the most WORLDWIDE damage?

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.

  • Human resources
  • Keep the heat on
  • Cold comfort
  • Big deal
  • About right
  • Break-in
  • The run of
  • Call out
  • Play offense
  • On its hands

PRACTICE ARTICLE NOW

THE DRAMATIC RESCUE OF THE BONTEBOK

[ENVIRONMENT ★★★]

THE DRAMATIC RESCUE OF THE BONTEBOK

bontebok-herd-lead

(P1) Make a list of the best-known African animals, and the bontebok isn’t going to MAKE THE CUT. CHANCES ARE, you’ve never even heard of this antelope.

(P2) But the bontebok deserves a place in the ANNALS of CONSERVATION history. It is ARGUABLY the first African animal saved from human-caused extinction. Its rescue is FLAT-OUT one of the most DRAMATIC conservation success stories anywhere.

(P3) At one point, the global bontebok population had been REDUCED to 17 animals. That’s right. Seventeen. Other species were disappearing around it. The bontebok was, it appeared, DOOMED.

(P4) Today, there is a long list of African wildlife in PERIL. But not the bontebok. Its population is SECURE and growing, and its NEAR-MISS with OBLIVION is LARGELY forgotten.

(P5) How did such a dramatic TURNAROUND occur? Like many conservation rescue stories, this is a story of destruction followed by a bit of drama and a bit of luck.

(P6) In this story, though, a QUIRK of bontebok behavior – some might even call it a FLAW – also helped SAVE THE DAY.

(P7) European settlers landed on the Cape of Good Hope in 1650, and the Dutch ESTABLISHED a TRADING POST there in 1667 – beginning a WAVE of COLONIZATION. This had DISASTROUS results for INDIGENOUS people and for wildlife.

(P8) At the time of colonization, the South African Cape had large numbers of MEGAFAUNA, including the animals familiar to us VIA nature DOCUMENTARIES today: lions and elephants and rhinos.

(P9) It also was home to many large mammals that are largely unfamiliar to the viewer of nature documentaries. Springbok, a GAZELLE species, MIGRATED by the millions. There were quaggas, a subspecies of zebra with INDISTINCT stripes. There were black wildebeest and mountain zebras and rhebok.

(P10) And there were bontebok.

(P11) Most biologists consider the bontebok to be a SUBSPECIES of blesbok. Bontebok are a DISTINCT and beautiful subspecies: they have a bright, white RUMP PATCH and purplish HIGHLIGHTS on their SLEEK coat.

(P12) The bontebok occurred only in the Western Cape of southern Africa. Dutch settlers saw it – and all HOOFED MAMMALS – as COMPETITION for FARMLAND. They shot huge numbers of them without RESTRAINT or MERCY.

(P13) The Cape was CLEARED of its large mammals, one by one. For a while, it looked like the bontebok would follow the path of another Cape ENDEMIC species, the bluebuck.

(P14) The bluebuck’s meat had an OBJECTIONABLE taste, but that did not slow the SLAUGHTER. This ANTELOPE was REGARDED as a NUISANCE and ELIMINATED with such speed that there are few descriptions of them, and even fewer museum SPECIMENS.

(P15) By the 1700s, it existed in ISOLATED HERDS. This did not matter. Farmers still shot them, until there were none left to shoot. It was declared EXTINCT in 1799, the first large African mammal to go extinct in modern times.

(P16) The bontebok seemed DESTINED to be the second.

(P17) Just a couple of decades after the bluebuck’s disappearance, only one herd of bontebok remained on some Cape farms. These PARTICULAR farmers were SYMPATHETIC to the bontebok’s PLIGHT. But once they left the property, ALL BETS WERE OFF.

(P18) SALVATION came in an UNLIKELY form. The bontebok was saved because bontebok can’t jump.

(P19) Many African antelopes are known for their dramatic jumping ability. The springbok, for instance, can jump 13 feet in the air.

(P20) Other species like kudu and impala have similar athletic abilities. A fence presents no OBSTACLE for these animals.

(P21) Not so the bontebok. It can make little LEAPS, but it cannot clear even a basic LIVESTOCK fence – the only fence available in the 1800s.

(P22) So when Dutch farmer Alexander van der Bijl built a fence to ENCLOSE the last bontebok on his farm, the bontebok didn’t escape. Whereas almost any other African antelope would have simply and quickly moved out of this simple enclosure, the bontebok couldn’t jump.

(P23) The ability to jump would have been a leap into extinction.

(P24) The bontebok RECEIVED a STAY OF EXECUTION, but its future was far from secure. PASTURE land was not ideal HABITAT. And so the last herd of bontebok survived, but barely.

(P25) In 1931, only 17 bontebok remained. These animals were TRANSFERRED to a national park established to save the species, appropriately named Bontebok National Park.

(P26) The population grew slowly, but the habitat was still not quite right for the animals. In the 1960s, half of the park population died due to worm INFESTATIONS, copper DEFICIENCY, and other MALADIES.

(P27) In 1961, Bontebok National Park changed locations, to better match the needs of its NAMESAKE animal. Sixty-one bontebok were RELOCATED to the new park.

(P28) There, the population finally began to THRIVE, EVENTUALLY reaching the CARRYING CAPACITY for the small national park. Conservationists moved animals to other Cape national parks and private RESERVES, and the bontebok thrived.

(P29) By 1969, there were 800 bontebok in the world. Today, the population HOVERS between 2,500 and 3,000. That hardly makes it ABUNDANT, but its future is considered secure.

(P30) It’s one of the most dramatic turnarounds for a large mammal, ever.

WORDS: 858

SOURCE: http://blog.nature.org/science/2015/07/08/bontebok-cant-jump-the-most-dramatic-conservation-success-youve-never-heard-about/

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 physical INABILITY helped the bontebok to survive?
  3. What animals is your country famous for?
  4. When you were growing up, what was your favorite zoo animal? Lion, tiger, giraffe, zebra, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, panda, or another?
  5. Why is it important for humans to protect wild animals?

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.

  • Make the cut
  • Chances are
  • Flat-out
  • Near-miss
  • Save the day
  • All bets are off
  • Stay of execution
  • Carrying capacity

PRACTICE ARTICLE NOW