“THE MAN FROM UNCLE”: STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★★★]

“THE MAN FROM UNCLE”: STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE

The Man from UNCLE

(P1) The opening of The Man from UNCLE is a delight. Set in 1963, it introduces a SUAVE CIA agent named Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill), who has been assigned to SPIRIT a pretty German mechanic, Gaby (Alicia Vikander), out of East Berlin. Unfortunately for him, the KGB’s Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) has other ideas, so the two spies are soon chasing each other around the city, taking it in turns to OUTWIT each other, and driving so close to each other that their BOXY East German cars are dancing CHEEK-TO-CHEEK. Combining the IMMACULATE style of an early Bond movie with the SHADOWY urban LANDSCAPE of The Third Man, it’s graceful, WITTY, and BREATHLESSLY entertaining. The annoying thing is that the rest of the film is NOWHERE NEAR as good.

(P2) There are various reasons for this, the main one being that Solo and Kuryakin TEAM UP shortly after their Berlin SKIRMISH, and no one else in The Man from UNCLE can challenge them as much as they challenged one another. A PREQUEL to the SNAZZY 1960s television series with Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, the film asks why two Cold Warriors from either side of the Iron Curtain would ever work together: how FORMIDABLE would a common FOE have to be to force them to put aside their differences? But the answer to that question is: a common foe who isn’t very formidable at all.

(P3) Directed and co-written by Guy Ritchie, The Man from UNCLE has Solo and Kuryakin POOLING THEIR RESOURCES to rescue a German atomic scientist – Gaby’s father – from a CABAL of Italian FASCISTS. And, put like that, it does sound like a BIG DEAL. As it turns out, however, our heroes’ joint mission is hardly TAXING. Their BRIEF is to INFILTRATE the fascists, which ENTAILS WINNING OVER the central villain, Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki), an amusingly SNOBBISH but not even slightly scary SOCIALITE. To do this, they have to LOUNGE AROUND in tourist spots and luxury hotel rooms in Rome, like the catalogue models they resemble. Their toughest task – the centre-piece of the whole film – is to sip champagne and make small talk at a motor-racing track. Surely the CIA could have handled that on its own.

(P4) The film’s LEISURELY tone seems to have been set by Cavill’s Solo, and his never-a-hair-out-of-place INSOUCIANCE. While Hammer’s GRUMPY Kuryakin sometimes behaves as if what he’s doing actually matters to him, Solo is presented as a former war PROFITEER and art thief who only works for the CIA so that he can avoid a long prison sentence. He doesn’t care about righting wrongs or saving civilisation, nor does he care much about Kuryakin or Gaby. Apparently modelling his QUIZZICAL DETACHMENT and SILKY over-ENUNCIATION on Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith in The Matrix, Cavill plays Solo as someone who may cock his head and raise an eyebrow when he’s getting emotional, but who is so COMPLACENT in general that he’ll stop for a sandwich and a glass of wine while his partner is DODGING machine-gun bullets. It’s certainly brave of Cavill to OPT for such an OBNOXIOUS characterisation, and initially it’s funny to see him reacting to danger with all the AGITATION of a cat SNOOZING on a sunny WINDOWSILL. But, ultimately, it’s a bit much to expect an audience to be tense about the potential ONSET of World War Three when Solo so obviously isn’t. He’s more concerned about whether he has spilt focaccia crumbs on his tailored three-piece suit.

(P5) Ritchie, LIKEWISE, directs the film with SMIRKING NONCHALANCE. After that masterful opening car BALLET, he makes a point of THROWING AWAY the action sequences: shooting them from a distance, IRONISING them with UPBEAT pop songs, chopping them into MONTAGES. We’re invited to SNIGGER rather than GASP. It is, like Cavill’s performance, a DARINGLY COUNTER-INTUITIVE approach, but if Ritchie is really so CONTEMPTUOUS of action movies, he probably shouldn’t have signed up to direct one.

(P6) Having said all that, there’s a lot to enjoy in his BREEZY stroll through the TRAPPINGS of a 1960s Mediterranean spy CAPER. Smartly DISTINGUISHING itself from all the other Bond WANNABES in the multiplex, The Man from UNCLE LUXURIATES in SPLIT SCREENS, GROOVY RETRO fashions and a finger-clicking soundtrack: not since Anchorman has so much jazz flute been heard in a Hollywood movie.  It also has a few jokes and a few plot twists that raise a smile. Finally, it’s worth remembering that Ritchie’s first Sherlock Holmes film peaked with its EXHILARATING opening sequence before TUMBLING DOWNHILL, and that the second one was a major improvement. If The Man from UNCLE gets a sequel, then it could be a treat, too, if only because it wouldn’t have to do the LEGWORK of establishing the Uncle organisation, and it could allow the team’s WRY boss (Hugh Grant) some more screen time. Whether this AMBLING film will be popular enough to MERIT a sequel is another matter.

WORDS: 823

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20150812-film-review-is-the-man-from-uncle-more-than-sex-and-style

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. Spy movies seem to be very popular lately, WHAT WITH James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Mission Impossible. Do you enjoy this GENRE?
  3. Retro fashion from the 1950s and 1960s has been showing up a lot on television (Mad Men) and in movies like this. Do you like this style of dress?
  4. There is a lot of pressure on movies like The Man from UNCLE to succeed so that a FRANCHISE can be established. What is your favorite current movie franchise?
  5. Henry Cavill has also played Superman, and will soon do so again. Do you like all the superhero movies, or do you think there are too many of them?
  6. Do you read reviews like this before going to see a movie? If not, how do you choose what movies to see?

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.

  • Cheek-to-cheek
  • Nowhere near
  • Team up
  • Pool resources
  • Big deal
  • Win over
  • Lounge around
  • Throw away
  • Counter-intuitive
  • What with

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THREE LIES THAT 20-SOMETHINGS BELIEVE

[BUSINESS ★]

THREE LIES THAT 20-SOMETHINGS BELIEVE

young-business-people

(P1) If we’re going to successfully NAVIGATE our 20s, then we need to stop believing the following lies right now:

(P2) 1. I’m the Only One Struggling

(P3) Since publishing two books for 20-SOMETHINGS, I’ve received thousands of emails all basically saying the same thing: “I feel so alone.”

(P4) Our 20s are tough. That’s the truth. Yet, too many 20-somethings are struggling all by themselves.

(P5) We all need help. We all need support. We all need NUDGES, advice, and encouragement.

(P6) Too many 20-somethings are busy working on their social media profiles, and yet are still wondering why everyone else’s lives look more glamorous than theirs.

(P7) No one’s life is as amazing as his or her Instagram feed makes it look. We connect through our shared struggles, not our Photoshopped perfection.

(P8) No one has it all figured out. The 20-somethings who think they do are the ones in for the biggest shock of all.

(P9) 2. I Should Be Successful by Now! Like Right Now!

(P10) I fully expected to walk straight into a crazy-successful 20-something life with ACCOLADES, salaries, bonuses, and a PLETHORA of people who wanted to learn my secrets to success, all by 23 years old. Maybe 25 if I really hit some serious SETBACKS.

(P11) I didn’t realize that success takes time — lots of time.

(P12) Success is like the SISTINE CHAPEL — it takes years, pain, frustration, thousands of brushes, colors, and CRUMPLED up sketches before you have your MASTERPIECE.

(P13) The Mark Zuckerbergs of the world are rare. COUNTLESS famed figures that we idolize all failed in their 20s.

(P14) Success is not a SPRINT, it’s a MARATHON.

(P15) Our 20s are about building our ENDURANCE so that we can run the race in the future.

(P16) Your 20s are a time to set yourself up for success.

(P17) 3. I Am a Failure

(P18) The millennial generation doesn’t do failure extremely well.

(P19) Your 20s are about STRATEGIC failures, going for something bigger and harder than you can handle and learning in the process of a failed END RESULT.

(P20) The only failure of our 20s would be if we never had any failures.

(P21) Failure doesn’t ruin your story, failure helps you write it. You can fail, just don’t start calling yourself a failure.

(P22) There’s only one way to be successful in our 20s — fail, TWEAK, then try again.

WORDS: 385

SOURCE: http://www.businessinsider.com/3-lies-20-somethings-need-to-stop-believing-2015-7

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 felt pressure to succeed at an early age?
  3. The article suggests that we grow as a result of our failures. Has that been true for you?
  4. The article also suggests that many people are creating GLITTERING social media images that do not reflect the reality of their lives. Do you think that is true?
  5. Is society in your country becoming more youth-ORIENTED, or less?

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.

  • 20-something
  • End result

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AS SOUTH KOREAN VILLAGES EMPTY, MORE PRIMARY SCHOOLS FACE CLOSINGS

[EDUCATION ★★★]

AS SOUTH KOREAN VILLAGES EMPTY, MORE PRIMARY SCHOOLS FACE CLOSINGS

Korean Schools

(P1) The post office PULLED UP STAKES and moved away years ago. The police station is long gone. And so is the bank. Over the years, the residents of Nogok have watched almost every major institution disappear, victims of an EXODUS of young people that is emptying villages and towns across much of rural South Korea.

(P2) Now, Nogok is about to lose an important symbol of youthful VITALITY: Next spring, the local primary school will close when its only student, a 12-year-old named Chung Jeong-su, graduates.

(P3) “Villages around here have no more children to send,” the school’s only teacher, Lee Sung-kyun, said recently, looking over an empty, weed-filled playground surrounded by old cherry trees. “Young people have all gone to cities to find work and get married there.”

(P4) Nogok, which lies 110 miles east of Seoul, is typical of many rural South Korean towns. An IDYLLIC CLUSTER of 16 HAMLETS, it is NESTLED in a series of narrow valleys surrounded by LUSH hills. In the hills and valleys, farmers tend crops of potatoes, beans and red peppers; in town, persimmon and apricot trees grow in the well-tended gardens of every home. But the town also bears SCARS from the country’s rapid industrialization, a great transformation that places like Nogok helped UNLEASH.

(P5) And the primary school itself played a large part in those changes.

(P6) Like COUNTLESS other parents in the AFTERMATH of the Korean War, the SLASH-AND-BURN farmers of Nogok saw education as the ticket for their children to escape lives of BACKBREAKING work and poverty. Every morning, they would send them to study at Nogok Primary, with some of the children walking as many as five miles each way.

(P7) Later, the children joined streams of rural youths migrating to cities to seek higher education or factory jobs from the 1970s and onward, providing cheap and disciplined WORK FORCES to fuel the economy.

(P8) Many children from Nogok Primary, for instance, moved on to work as WELDERS and painters at shipyards on the southern coast of South Korea, earning wages their fathers could hardly have imagined as they TOILED on their HARDSCRABBLE PLOTS in the hills around Nogok.

(P9) This exodus also OVERLAPPED with a government BIRTH-CONTROL campaign that started in the 1960s and continued into the 1990s. In Nogok, married men reporting for MANDATORY army reserve training would receive condoms or EXEMPTIONS from serving if they agreed to free VASECTOMIES. Across South Korea, the BIRTH RATE dropped from 4.5 children per woman in 1970 to 1.2 last year, one of the lowest rates in the world. Over the same period, the number of primary school students decreased by more than half to 2.7 million.

(P10) HARDEST HIT by this DEMOGRAPHIC shift were rural towns like Nogok and their public schools. Since 1982, nearly 3,600 schools have closed across South Korea, most of them in rural towns, for lack of children.

(P11) Today, many villages look like GHOST TOWNS, with houses CRUMBLING and once-BUSTLING schools standing in weedy ruins, WINDOWPANES cracked or full of COBWEBS. In Nogok, the only store in the town center was closed during a recent visit in the afternoon.

(P12) “There are only old, useless people left here,” said Baek Gye-hyun, 55, a farmer here. “If we come across a young woman with a child, we stop and stare as if they were an ENDANGERED SPECIES.”

(P13) In 1960, Nogok had 5,387 people, 2,054 of them age 12 or younger. In 2010, the last year the government conducted a general census, the town reported a population of 615. Only 17 were 14 or younger.

(P14) Jeong-su, the Nogok Primary student, is the youngest child, and his 52-year-old father, Chung Eui-jin, the youngest married man in their village of Hawolsan-ri, which is part of Nogok. The school has not had a first grader since Jeong-su enrolled there five years ago. After two sixth graders graduated this spring, he was the only student left.

(P15) “It’s cool to have all the school to myself,” said Jeong-su, a shy boy with glasses, who said he wanted to become a VETERINARIAN.

(P16) When asked what he would remember the most from his school days, he mentioned playing table tennis with his teacher, Mr. Lee.

(P17) Mr. Lee said the PERSONALIZED attention was obviously good for Jeong-su. But he said he felt bad that the boy had no classmates with whom to share school memories later in life.

(P18) “Until last year, when we had several students, we used to play mini-soccer,” he said, referring to a STRIPPED-DOWN version of the game for small numbers of players. “Now, that has become impossible.” At recess, Mr. Lee said, he and Jeong-su now spent their time throwing paper airplanes.

(P19) Most South Koreans now live in the tall apartment buildings that are spread out like DOMINOES across South Korean cities, but many still BEMOAN the shrinking of rural communities. The slow death of rural schools is particularly POIGNANT in a culture that CHERISHES hometown and school ties.

(P20) Even decades after leaving rural hometowns, many urban MIGRANTS stay connected through “dongchanghoe,” or school alumni associations, whose bonds are so strong that politicians often use them as vote-gathering tools.

(P21) “It’s a SORRY SIGHT,” said Mr. Baek, a graduate of Nogok Primary, pointing at the weeds in the school’s playground. “When I was a student here, 300 children were crawling all over there, giving weeds no time to grow.”

(P22) In 1990, for the 60th anniversary of the school, graduates POOLED money to build statues of an elephant and a lion, as well as a MONUMENT that urges students to NURTURE their “dreams into the future, into the world.” But by 1999, the school had lost so many students it became a branch of another school, Geundeok Primary School, in the nearby town. Today, the monument stands FORLORN, OVERLOOKING a basketball hoop, slides and soccer goal posts RUSTING in the school field.

(P23) Inside the two-story concrete school building, it is oddly silent.

(P24) The wooden floors CREAKED when Jeong-su, Mr. Lee and the school’s janitor, Lee Dong-min, walked in on a recent school day. Walls lined with crayon drawings and ORIGAMI created by former students BORE WITNESS to a busier past.

(P25) GATHERING DUST in empty classrooms were big-screen TVs, table tennis tables, computers, a drum set, a piano, telescopes, anatomical charts, book-filled shelves, and desks and chairs, all empty.

(P26) Painting and guitar instructors visit the school twice a week to give Jeong-su lessons. A yellow van operated by the local educational office delivers lunch for the boy and his teacher.

(P27) It cost more than 100 million won (about $87,000) a year to run the school, Mr. Lee said.

(P28) “You can’t say all the excess is JUSTIFIED by one student,” said Kim Bok-hyun, 71, a Nogok villager.

(P29) Mr. Kim used to sell pencils, gum and toys to Nogok Primary students from a shop in front of the school. But he closed up years ago because of a lack of customers. He now spends most of his time sitting on a chair on the roadside, watching the few buses and trucks that pass by.

(P30) Some rural towns started campaigns to save their schools, hiring buses to transport children from neighboring towns and even offering free housing for couples moving in with school-age children.

(P31) Similar efforts did not work for Nogok, said Kim Jong-sik, 58, a village chief in the area.

(P32) “There is no one coming in to live here, only people moving out,” said Mr. Kim, who said all his own children lived in cities. “With all the best schools, jobs and shopping malls concentrated in big cities, their attraction for young people has become IRREVERSIBLE.”

WORDS: 1270

SOURCE: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/10/world/asia/as-south-korean-villages-empty-more-primary-schools-face-closure.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. Why do so many people prefer living in cities or their nearby suburbs, instead of in small towns and rural areas?
  3. Did you attend large schools or small schools when you were growing up?
  4. The teacher quoted in the article worries about his lone student having no classmates. Is school as much a social experience as an educational experience?
  5. With a very low birth rate, South Korean society as a whole is aging rapidly. What effects will this have 20 or 30 years from now?

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.

  • Pull up stakes
  • Slash-and-burn
  • Work force
  • Birth-control
  • Birth rate
  • Hard hit
  • Ghost town
  • Endangered species
  • Stripped-down
  • Sorry sight
  • Bear witness
  • Gather dust

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TENNIS PLAYER NICK KYRGIOS FINED FOR TRASH TALK

[SPORTS ★]

TENNIS PLAYER NICK KYRGIOS FINED FOR TRASH TALK

Nick Kyrgios

(P1) The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) fined Nick Kyrgios on Thursday for his “INSULTING remark” toward French Open champion Stan Wawrinka during a match at the Rogers Cup.

(P2) A courtside microphone during ESPN’s telecast on Wednesday night picked up Kyrgios saying that Australian player Thanasi Kokkinakis had slept with a player who is reportedly Wawrinka’s girlfriend.

(P3) The ATP said it would not reveal details of the fine until Kyrgios was notified. The ENTITY’S rulebook allows a fine of up to $10,000 for incidents of verbal abuse or UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT, noting that a “singularly EGREGIOUS…single violation of this section shall also CONSTITUTE the player Major Offense of AGGRAVATED Behavior.”

(P4) Wawrinka tweeted Thursday morning that the Australian’s words were “BEYOND BELIEF” and urged tennis’s GOVERNING BODY to take action.

(P5) “So disappointing to see a fellow athlete and colleague be so disrespectful in a way I could never even imagine,” Wawrinka tweeted.

(P6) “There is no need for this kind of behaviour on or off the court and I hope the governing body of this sport does not STAND FOR this and stands up for the INTEGRITY of the sport that we have worked so hard to build.”

(P7) Kyrgios issued an apology Thursday on his Facebook page.

(P8) “My comments were made IN THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT and were unacceptable on many levels,” Kyrgios wrote. “I take full responsibility for my actions and regret what happened.”

(P9) The fifth-ranked Wawrinka announced in April that he had separated from his wife, with whom he has a daughter. The 30-year-old Swiss player has since been linked with 19-year-old Donna Vekic of Croatia, who is ranked 127th among female players.

(P10) Vekic played MIXED DOUBLES with Kokkinakis, also 19 and ranked No. 76, at the 2014 Australian Open.

(P11) Kyrgios, 20, beat Wawrinka on Wednesday when the Swiss retired with a lower-back injury while trailing 4-0 in the third set.

(P12) In a postmatch interview on court, Kyrgios said Wawrinka had PROVOKED him.

(P13) “He was getting a bit LIPPY at me so, I don’t know, it’s just in-the-moment sort of stuff,” Kyrgios said. “I don’t really know, I just said it.”

(P14) Wawrinka’s coach, Magnus Norman, also tweeted criticism about Kyrgios, who has been at the center of controversy in recent weeks.

(P15) At Wimbledon, Kyrgios battled with umpires time and again, was accused of TANKING — he appeared to make little attempt to return a serve during a fourth-round loss to Richard Gasquet — and swore so loudly and abused his rackets so violently that he was fined nearly $10,000.

(P16) Australian swimming great Dawn Fraser said she was disgusted with Kyrgios’ behavior at Wimbledon, telling a breakfast television show that he “should be setting a better example for the younger generation of this great country of ours” and that he should go back to where his parents came from.

(P17) Kyrgios, who was born in Australia to a father born in Greece and mother born in Malaysia, replied on Twitter that Fraser was a “BLATANT racist.” She later apologized.

WORDS: 504

SOURCE: http://espn.go.com/tennis/story/_/id/13428451/stan-wawrinka-urges-action-nick-kyrgios-mutters-unacceptable-comment

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. Professional tennis has a long tradition of “BAD BOYS” such as John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Do you think this adds to the entertainment of the game, or should their behavior not be tolerated?
  3. TRASH TALK has become common in certain sports (such as American football), and even sometimes in politics. Is this kind of talk acceptable in your country, or is it considered BAD FORM?
  4. Modern athletes are frequently fined by leagues or governing bodies. Do you think this has any real influence on their conduct?
  5. Athletes used to be considered as ROLE MODELS for young people. Are they still considered that way, and should they be?

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.

  • Unsportsmanlike conduct
  • Beyond belief
  • Governing body
  • Stand for
  • In the heat of the moment
  • Bad boy
  • Trash talk
  • Bad form
  • Role model

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WHERE THE WHITE SPIRIT BEAR ROAMS

[ENVIRONMENT ★★★]

WHERE THE WHITE SPIRIT BEAR ROAMS

Great Bear

(P1) SITUATED on Canada’s British Columbia coast between Vancouver Island and the Alaska Panhandle, the Great Bear Rainforest is the largest TRACT of TEMPERATE RAINFOREST left on Earth. The 70,000 sq km territory, ROUGHLY the size of Ireland, contains some of the richest TERRESTRIAL and AQUATIC life on the planet, including killer whales, mountain goat, coastal wolves, and sea otters.

(P2) In 2006, a LANDMARK agreement was passed to protect up to a third of the rainforest from LOGGING. But the region is still threatened by those who log in unprotected areas, TROPHY HUNT bears, and over-fish the salmon and Pacific herring. Plans have also been DRAFTED to allow supertankers carrying fossil fuels to cross Great Bear waters – a move that opponents say will further DISTURB MARINE life and raise the SPECTRE of an ecological disaster.

(P3) The Great Bear Rainforest has long been home to FIRST NATION groups, with ARCHAEOLOGICAL evidence dating human SETTLEMENT back to the end of the last Ice Age, more than 10,000 years ago. Today, the territories of 27 First Nations fall within the BOUNDARY of Great Bear Rainforest. As a marker of their history, rock art and PETROGLYPHS are not uncommon.

(P4) With traditions rooted in ECOLOGICAL knowledge, First Nation groups such as the Heiltsuk, Wuikinuxv and Kitasoo-Xai’xais are ASSERTING their SOVEREIGNTY and rights over these coastal ECOSYSTEMS. They argue that their historical connection, PROXIMITY, and TITLE to the area make them better decision-makers and STEWARDS than government BUREAUCRATS in distant cities.

(P5) As the logging and fishing industries decline, a new TREND towards SUSTAINABLE industries can be seen, with hiking, whale watching, bear viewing, and photography EXCURSIONS drawing travellers to the region. Spirit Bear Lodge, a world-class bear viewing operation in the Swindle Island town of Klemtu, is an ECO-TOURISM SUCCESS STORY. Owned and operated by the Kitasoo-Xai’xais First Nation, the lodge is tied to a community-driven wildlife research project that MONITORS salmon numbers and bear distribution in the territory. Over the years the operation has provided greater purpose and MATERIAL GAIN to an otherwise isolated community, as well as helping paint an accurate picture of the ecological stresses facing the area.

Great Bear 2

(P6) While parts of Great Bear Rainforest are threatened, others remain either largely or completely UNALTERED by human activity. The Kitlope Heritage Conservancy, a 3,200 sq km PROVINCIAL park in the rainforest’s north, hosts the largest CONTINUOUS tract of INTACT temperate rainforest in the world. The Haisla First Nation, based in the community of Kitamaat and whose territory ENCOMPASSES the park, succeeded in protecting it in 1994. They now co-manage the area with the provincial government.

(P7) A few of Great Bear’s forests contain as much as four times the BIOMASS of their tropical counterparts, including the Amazon. The area is home to some of the oldest and largest tree species found anywhere, including western red cedar, Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and Douglas fir. Some are more than 1,000 years old. Large CONIFERS UPHOLD the ecosystem by capturing rain, providing a home for animals, preventing soil EROSION, and creating STABLE conditions for salmon eggs to HATCH.

Great Bear 3

(P8) Both grizzly and black bears live in many of the region’s river systems and ESTUARIES, including a rare variety of black bear known as the Kermode or “Spirit Bear” – so named because of a RECESSIVE GENE that gives it a white or OFF-WHITE coat. The trophy hunting of bears, allowed by the province of British Columbia, continues despite WIDESPREAD public disapproval. In 2012, nine First Nations BANNED the hunt in their territories of the Great Bear Rainforest.

(P9) Pacific salmon play a unique role in how the whole ecosystem functions. Salmon are a dietary COMPONENT for the bears, as well as for 190 other plant, animal and aquatic species, including wolves, gulls, eagles, seals, and sharks. Salmon CARCASSES also act as FERTILISER for the rainforest FLORA.

(P10) Every year, salmon are born in the CREEKS, lakes, and river systems of Great Bear. The Koeye River, near the Heiltsuk First Nation town of Bella Bella, is one WATERWAY where all five major varieties of Pacific salmon can be found. If the fish survive their journey into adulthood, they will return from the ocean years later to the very same spot to SPAWN and die.

(P11) The DIZZYING richness of terrestrial species in the rainforest is reflected in the ocean ABUTTING it. The SHALLOWS of the Pacific contain a PLETHORA of life, including dozens of fish species, marine mammals like sea otters and sea lions, and plants and KELPS so numerous and thick they could COMPRISE their own forests. The Great Bear’s “intertidal zones” – sections of shoreline affected by the FLUCTUATING TIDES – form another layer of life. Low tide often reveals a CACOPHONY of clams, mussels, barnacles, sea stars, and anemones.

Great Bear 4

(P12) Some of the largest mammals on Earth – humpback, fin, grey, and blue whales – travel through the waters of Great Bear. Following the ADVENT of whaling in the colonial period, the animals suffered a sharp decline and were almost hunted to EXTINCTION. But thanks to international whaling bans that began in the latter part of the 20th Century, these creatures have made a COMEBACK. Humpback whales are now PREVALENT on the coast, especially around Caamaño Sound and Whale Channel near the Gitga’at First Nation community of Hartley Bay. Scientists say the return of humpbacks is both a sign of hope and an example of what the Great Bear Rainforest could be if PROPERLY PRESERVED.

WORDS: 903

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20150713-where-the-white-spirit-bear-roams

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

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

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. The Great Bear Rainforest is one of the most important natural areas in Canada. What is the most important natural area in your country?
  3. What is your favorite type of tree?
  4. What do you think the responsibility of human beings to the natural environment is?
  5. Do you enjoy hiking and camping in the forest, or is that too wild for you?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

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

  • Eco-tourism
  • Success story
  • Material gain
  • Off-white

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WE MUST NEVER FORGET HIROSHIMA

[OPINION ★★]

WE MUST NEVER FORGET HIROSHIMA

Stillman-Hiroshima-690

(P1) On August 6, 1945, a single bomb was dropped that took more than 130,000 lives in my hometown of Hiroshima, Japan.

(P2) Seventy years later, one survivor’s message in particular is ETCHED into my thoughts. Indeed, it has become a personal CONVICTION of mine, as well: “Even though I would like to forget what happened to us, I must always remember the atomic bombing, to help ensure that the experience is never repeated.”

(P3) As we mark the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is VITAL that we learn from the past to help ensure a more peaceful future.

(P4) Japan has long been at the FOREFRONT of the global movement to eliminate nuclear weapons, a commitment that is as firm today as it has ever been. And while I know there is skepticism among many that the nuclear powers of the world will willingly disarm their nuclear ARSENALS, as Japan’s foreign minister, and as a native of Hiroshima, I truly believe that the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons is achievable and that we must pursue it.

(P5) Across the globe, there are now a total of about 16,000 warheads. While that may be a sharp reduction from the 70,000 at the peak of the Cold War, this is still far too high a number, and progress at eliminating them has also been much too slow.

(P6) It is true that the New START treaty, signed in 2011 between Russia and the United States, will further reduce these numbers. But the obligation to pursue nuclear disarmament does not rest solely on the two states with the largest arsenals; all other nuclear states should also take part in nuclear disarmament NEGOTIATIONS.

(P7) With that IN MIND, we urge those nations not yet engaged in nuclear disarmament efforts to reduce their arsenals with the eventual objective of their total elimination.

(P8) But if we want to eliminate nuclear weapons, an urgent priority must be to prevent greater RELIANCE on them. This means that cuts in the number of weapons should be accompanied by steps toward reducing their role and significance in security strategies and military DOCTRINE.

(P9) Unfortunately, some nations now seem to be placing greater emphasis on nuclear arsenals as part of their overall defense strategy — a clear STEP IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.

(P10) Most recently, I was extremely disappointed that the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the NON-PROLIFERATION of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) failed to reach a formal CONSENSUS. Despite this, there are many elements to the draft agreement that drew WIDESPREAD support and so must not be lost, including the need for full ACCOUNTABILITY and TRANSPARENCY for the world’s nuclear arsenals.

(P11) We cannot properly address the issue of nuclear disarmament without knowing the exact scope of the weapons IN QUESTION. Another benefit of greater transparency is that it will also help build public confidence that progress is being made on this issue. I therefore call for solid data from all nuclear weapon states.

(P12) Public support for change is vital, and with that in mind I encourage political leaders and young people from around the world to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to see firsthand the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. Such visits themselves, I believe, would act as a powerful force for nuclear disarmament.

(P13) Tied closely with the question of disarmament is the issue of nonproliferation, and here I would strongly urge North Korea to take CONCRETE steps to fulfill its commitment of abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs, something that has been repeatedly requested by the international community.

(P14) Japan has been, and will remain, a strong ADVOCATE for strengthening the SAFEGUARD system of the International Atomic Energy Agency, an INDISPENSABLE instrument for preventing any DIVERSION of nuclear materials to non-peaceful use. We also continue to promote STRINGENT export control in Asia and globally.

(P15) Of course, much of the world’s attention has been focused on the nuclear deal with Iran, an agreement that we welcome and hope will be steadily IMPLEMENTED.

(P16) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Barack Obama said in April in their joint statement on nonproliferation: “In this 70th year since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we are reminded of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use. Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be forever engraved in the world’s memory.”

(P17) Their statement AFFIRMS that the LEGACY we must leave behind is a simple one: that Japan remains the first and the last place on Earth that has experienced the RAVAGES of an atomic bomb.

WORDS: 768

SOURCE: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/05/opinions/kishida-hiroshima-anniversary/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. Are you surprised that there has not been another use of nuclear weapons since Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
  3. Which do you think are more dangerous, big countries with nuclear weapons or small countries with nuclear weapons?
  4. There has long been a worry that terrorists will construct a nuclear weapon. Do you think this will happen?
  5. Do you support the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, or do you think it is too dangerous?

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.

  • In mind
  • Step in the right / wrong direction
  • In question

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FRENCH SEASIDE TOWN DESPERATE TO CONTROL SEAGULLS

[WORLD NEWS ★]

FRENCH SEASIDE TOWN DESPERATE TO CONTROL SEAGULLS

Pictured - The seagulls can be seen dive bombing and flocking towards Alex's camera. See Ross Parry copy RPYSEAGULLS. A plucky photographer has captured the terror of a SEAGULL attack after they swooped on his camera. Brave Alex Newsome, 24, headed to the seaside to get a glimpse of being surrounded by flocks of the food-snatching birds. The images show a birds-eye view of the seagulls as they swoop down and attack the camera with spread wings and open beaks. The snaps of the birds that have long plagued holiday makers and beachgoers, were taken in Whitby, North Yorks.

(P1) A French seaside resort is testing an “anti-SEAGULL” drone to keep the increasingly AGGRESSIVE birds AT BAY.

(P2) Trouville-sur-Mer in Normandy, northern France, claims to be the first town to test a special drone that can spot seagull nests and spray them with STERILISER, as its DEPUTY mayor warned that the birds could soon “MAKE OFF WITH a baby”.

(P3) “They are PROFOUNDLY changing their living habits from eating fish and building nests on cliffs to living in towns and becoming CARNIVOROUS as it is much easier to find food,” said Pascale Cordier, Trouville’s deputy mayor in charge of environment.

(P4) She said a woman had recently suffered a BRUTAL gull attack when she UNWITTINGLY approached a chick on a pavement, and was violently PECKED in the calves.

(P5) “They are no longer scared of man at all, and I’m worried that one of these days they’ll make off with a baby,” she said.

(P6) Local fishermen say the gulls regularly DIVE BOMB them on their TRAWLERS,but they can do nothing as the gulls have been a protected species since 2009.

(P7) Instead of CULLING the birds, the town has used climbers to scale buildings and spray eggs with a mixture of formalin and paraffin to EUTHANISE the chicks and keep the TEEMING population IN CHECK.

(P8) However, last year, a council climber was seriously injured after falling off a particularly PRECARIOUS perch.

(P9) A robotic expert at the College de France, the country’s most ILLUSTRIOUS university, suggested that Trouville DEVISE a drone to spot seagull nests perched on roofs and buildings. They then SWOOP over them to spray the eggs with steriliser.

(P10) Built by Civic Drone, a company in the Paris area, the device is also protected by a BUFFER to FEND OFF gull attacks and to keep the birds from being sliced by its sharp blades.

(P11) “This job takes a lot of time if you do it by hand and the risks of accidents very are high, whereas here it takes two minutes to sterilise the eggs,” Fabien Lanzini of Civic Drone said.

(P12) However, the new anti-seagull technique has hit a SNAG.

(P13) France’s League for the Protection of Birds has filed a complaint with French aviation authorities, which has ordered the town to stop using the drone for now.

(P14) “A meeting is due in September to get authorisation and I’m convinced this will be a solution going forward,” said Ms Cordier.

(P15) France’s problem with “goëlands”, a term to describe larger gulls, still pales into comparison to recent attacks in Britain.

(P16) Last month, David Cameron called for a “big conversation” on the issue after gulls killed a Yorkshire Terrier in Newquay, a Chihuahua puppy in Devon and a pet tortoise in Cornwall called Stig.

(P17) Mr Cameron told BBC Radio Cornwall: “It is a dangerous one for the prime minister to dive in and come up with an instant answer with the issues of the protection of seagulls, whether there is a need for a cull, what should be done about eggs and nests.

(P18) “I think a big conversation needs to happen about this.”

(P19) Cornwall PENSIONER Sue Atkinson was left BATTERED and bloodied after a seagull attack yards from a primary school. She said: “It was like a scene from the film The Birds.”

(P20) British Members of PARLIAMENT recently called for a change in the law to allow the protected status of seagulls to be AXED so that their population in urban areas could be better controlled.

WORDS: 576

SOURCE: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11798697/French-seaside-town-brings-in-drone-to-tackle-carnivorous-seagull-invasion.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. Have you ever had a dangerous encounter with a wild animal?
  3. Why do seagulls like places with lots of people?
  4. What do you think is the best way of controlling NUISANCE animals like seagulls, geese, and deer?
  5. Have you ever seen Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film The Birds, mentioned in the article, or other films in which animals attack people?

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.

  • Dive bomb
  • Keep in check
  • Fend off

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