EGYPT APOLOGIZES FOR MISTAKENLY KILLING MEXICAN TOURISTS

[WORLD NEWS ★★]

EGYPT APOLOGIZES FOR MISTAKENLY KILLING MEXICAN TOURISTS

Mexican Foreign MInister

(P1) Egypt has apologised after 12 people, including eight Mexican tourists, were mistakenly killed by security forces in an anti-terror operation.

(P2) The group had permission to travel to a REMOTE area of the Western Desert, tourism officials said.

(P3) However the interior ministry insists they entered a RESTRICTED area.

(P4) Egypt has been battling Islamist MILITANTS for years, with attacks ESCALATING since the 2013 OUSTING of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

(P5) While the vast Western Desert is a popular tourist site, it has become increasingly dangerous because of the DETERIORATING security situation in Libya.

(P6) Ten Mexicans and Egyptians were injured in the operation. Security officials put the number of Mexican tourists killed at eight, although this is yet to be confirmed by Mexico, with four Egyptians dead.

(P7) Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab offered his apologies in a phone call to the Mexican AMBASSADOR in Cairo, the Al-Yawm al-Sabi website reported.

(P8) “I have phoned Mexican Ambassador Alvarez Fuentes to REASSURE him that the injured are receiving proper medical care and that the government apologises for the foreign CASUALTIES,” the website quoted him as saying.

(P9) Mr Mahlab also said the incident took place “by mistake as the state continues to fight terrorism”.

(P10) SURVIVORS told the Mexican ambassador they had been bombed by helicopters and aircraft when they stopped for a break.

(P11) The head of the Egyptian Union of Tour Guides, Hassan El Nahla, posted online what appeared to be an ITINERARY sent to tourism police.

(P12) He told the BBC the group had a police ESCORT and travelled through several CHECKPOINTS before COMING UNDER FIRE.

(P13) An Egyptian interior ministry statement had earlier said the incident happened on Sunday in an area “OFF LIMITS to foreign tourists”, although it did not give an exact location.

(P14) It said they were “mistakenly dealt with” while travelling in the Wahat area of the Western Desert.

(P15) The security forces were PURSUING Islamic militants in the desert and targeted the four vehicles which were away from the main road with an Apache helicopter, the statement added.

(P16) The Islamist INSURGENCY in Egypt gathered MOMENTUM after the army OVERTHREW President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 following PROTESTS against his rule.

(P17) Until recently most of the fighting has taken place in the Sinai Peninsula with occasional attacks taking place in Cairo and other cities. 

WORDS: 388

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34248054

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 countries would you not visit because they are too dangerous?
  3. How should Mexico and Egypt handle this incident?
  4. The attack on the tourists came from the air. Do you worry about the increasing number of incidents involving aircraft, drones, and missiles?
  5. Do you think the families of the DECEASED will SUE the nation of Egypt?

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.

  • Off limits
  • Come under fire

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FRENCH ALPS AVALANCHE KILLS SEVEN CLIMBERS

[SPORTS ★]

FRENCH ALPS AVALANCHE KILLS SEVEN CLIMBERS

Alps

(P1) Seven people have been killed by an AVALANCHE in the French Alps in one of the country’s worst snowslides in a decade.

(P2) The avalanche struck at around midday at the Snow Dome in the Alps’ Massif des Écrins, an easily ACCESSIBLE 4,000-metre (13,000-ft) mountain popular with climbers.

(P3) The snowslide, which was the DEADLIEST avalanche to hit the Alps this year, swept away eight people, including several foreign climbers. One person was injured.

(P4) Pierre Besnard, PREFECT of the Hautes-Alpes region, said the avalanche had struck three groups of roped climbers. Staff at a nearby mountain REFUGE ALERTED authorities to the avalanche.

(P5) The victims included German and Czech climbers. Police officials did not confirm any foreign nationalities.

(P6) SEARCH AND RESCUE teams, including three helicopters and groups of search dogs, were continuing to SCOUR the mountain to ensure there had been no other victims.

(P7) The peak, near the town of Pelvoux, is popular because it is a climb that is not considered to be too difficult for amateurs, although avalanches are a risk at the SUMMIT.

(P8) Climbers and skiers are SPORADICALLY caught in avalanches in the popular Alps, particularly during the winter, but this was the deadliest accident so far this year.

(P9) In January, six skiers were carried away by an avalanche in the Queyras range, and just over two months later, three died in the Écrins MASSIF.

(P10) Christian Flagella, a member of the police force in the Hautes-Alpes region, where the mountain is located, said the avalanche was probably TRIGGERED when a layer of snow separated and HURTLED down the hill. “The conditions are winter-like at the moment,” he said.

WORDS: 274

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/15/french-alps-avalanche-kills-climbers

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 have much experience with snow?
  3. What is the most dangerous type of natural event that happens near where you live?
  4. Does mountain climbing appeal to you, or do you consider it too dangerous?
  5. Search and rescue teams include PARAMEDICS in case anyone who is found is hurt. Have you or anyone in your family ever been assisted by a paramedic?

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.

  • Search and rescue

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CLASSICAL MUSIC NEEDS MORE WOMEN CONDUCTORS

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★★]

CLASSICAL MUSIC NEEDS MORE WOMEN CONDUCTORS

Women Conducting

(P1)This time two years ago, Marin Alsop was preparing to conduct the Last Night of the BBC Proms – the first woman to do so. On Saturday, she returns to conduct the Last Night, but she is still the only woman to do so in the Proms’ 120-year history, while it was only 30 years previously, in 1984, that Odaline de la Martinez became the first woman to conduct at the Proms at all. We’re making slow progress!

(P2) In the traditional Last Night conductor’s speech in 2013, Alsop said: “I want to say to all the young women out there, and as I say to all young people, believe in yourselves, follow your passion and never give up, because you will create a future filled with possibility.”

(P3) I graduated from university over 20 years ago and have been working across the UK, and from St Petersburg to Singapore, as a conductor ever since. Although female conductors are enjoying more success these days, they are still a RARITY. I have always wanted to be judged simply as a conductor, rather than a female conductor.

(P4) In a 2013 interview, I pointed out that very few women have chosen to become conductors, and this was unlikely to change unless we did something. Now was the time to normalise the idea of women in this role. I decided to become an ADVOCATE for women conductors and take PROACTIVE steps to inspire young women. I was inspired to create the Women Conductors program at London’s Morley College.

(P5) We ran a successful pilot course for 16- to 19-year-olds last year and are continuing and developing the course for this year. For 2015-16, we now have a two-phase program: the first is UK-wide WORKSHOPS for female music students, the second is for female musicians over 19, with no upper age limit.

(P6) Creating ROLE MODELS for women is important. Some of today’s most successful conductors have all agreed to run workshops. Women will see leading female conductors in action, which is CRUCIAL. When, 20 years ago, I first saw female conductors, it was such a relief – I could truly relate to them. My female colleagues have always been an inspiration. I saw Joana Carneiro conducting at the English National Opera recently, and it was THRILLING to watch her. She was in control, powerful, but also absolutely herself. Yet it struck me, thinking of the thousands of performances I’ve attended, how rare it still is to see a woman at the PODIUM.

(P7) There’s a core of women who know they want to conduct, and I’m delighted to encourage them. However, there are hundreds of qualified women who are still RETICENT about taking part in these workshops. Training to be a conductor is tough, because the real practical experience is so public. Conductors have to spend hours learning scores in private, and a certain amount of work can be done on BATON technique. But actually practising your “instrument,” which is the orchestra, has to be done in front of lots of people. When it goes wrong – which it will sometimes do – there’s no hiding. Are women more RELUCTANT to make mistakes in public than men are? Do they judge themselves, and are they judged by others more HARSHLY? These may be GENERALIZATIONS, but perhaps there’s some truth there.

(P8) My first experience of conducting, aged 18, was MORTIFYING – I was so nervous and had no idea how I was going to tell people what to do. It was the last profession I imagined entering. But I was forced to conduct because I was an organ scholar at university: organists are expected to VENTURE from the relative safety of the organ loft and wave their hands about in the front of the CHOIR. Some have more APTITUDE for it than others, but many conductors start their career as organists. It took me two or three embarrassing years trying to conduct the chapel choir and college music society before I suddenly realised I loved it. It’s less lonely and cold than an organ loft, and you can’t play wrong notes!

(P9) I don’t want to force anyone to conduct, and it’s certainly not for everyone. But I want to inspire young women and show them that conducting is an option – something that they may not have even considered before – and these workshops offer a safe place to HAVE A GO.

WORDS: 730

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/sep/10/how-to-get-more-women-conducting-morley-college-alice-farnham

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 to a symphony orchestra concert?
  3. Conducting is a leadership role. Do you think that women are becoming more comfortable with being leaders?
  4. The author of the article, conductor Alice Farnham, suggests that women in general may be more reluctant to expose themselves to the possibilities of failure and public criticism. Do you think that is true?
  5. The author also suggests that the best way to FOSTER female conductors is “women helping women.” Have you seen examples of women helping women in your own life?

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.

  • Role model
  • Have a go

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THIS MAN TRAVELED TO EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD BEFORE HE WAS 40

[LIFE ★]

THIS MAN TRAVELED TO EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD BEFORE HE WAS 40

gunnar garfors argentina

(P1) By the time he was 37 years old, Gunnar Garfors had already traveled to every single country in the world.

(P2) His love for travel started at a young age.

(P3) Garfors’ father was a doctor on a cruise ship that sailed around the Pacific Ocean.

(P4) At the time, he was just 3 years old — too young to read — so his father would send cassette tapes to him and his brother in their home in Norway in which he recorded amazing stories from the places he visited.

(P5) This was before the time when social media made it easy to connect across the globe in an instant.

(P6) Garfors recalls the tapes being a major HIGHLIGHT of his childhood, and he ATTRIBUTES the source of his WANDERLUST to his father.

(P7) “Every day we ran down to the mailbox to see if there was a tape from our dad,” Garfors said. “And every once or twice a month there was a tape. I just remember this AWE, and thinking, wow this is incredible. It really made a big impact on me and it certainly BOOSTED my curiosity about the world.”

(P8) The tales his father told from his journeys around the world — to Alaska, Canada, China, and the Philippines, to name a few — inspired Garfors to book a trip to China with his brother, the first trip he took to another continent.

(P9) “China is something totally different: its lack of INFRASTRUCTURE, a totally different culture, new food, and all the rest of it,” Garfors said. “It really opened my eyes.”

(P10) That’s when his ADDICTION to travel really began. A few years later he booked a trip to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in central Asia and “totally fell in love with those countries.”

(P11) He decided that he wanted to visit all the -stan countries — there are seven of them — and after accomplishing that feat, he was HOOKED.

(P12) Before he knew it, Garfors had visited a total of 85 countries. That was when he just decided to TAKE THE PLUNGE and visit all 198. It took him another five years to complete his goal.

WORDS: 359

SOURCE: http://www.businessinsider.com/gunnar-garfors-inspiration-to-travel-2015-9

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. Would you be interested in doing what this man did, or is just too much travel?
  3. What country are you most interested in visiting?
  4. Did your parents and grandparents tell you many stories when you were growing up?
  5. What experiences in your childhood were FORMATIVE 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.

  • Take the plunge

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ARE BILLIONAIRES PLANNING TO LEAVE THE PLANET?

[OPINION ★★★]

ARE BILLIONAIRES PLANNING TO LEAVE THE PLANET?

Jeff Bezos

(P1) Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the latest tech billionaire to invest his money in spaceships: on Tuesday, he DEBUTED his space travel company Blue Origin’s newest rocket. Now, those who want to cruise the galaxy can choose choose this SLEEK new rocket, or they can opt to ride with Tesla founder Elon Musk on a SpaceX ship, or hop on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

(P2) At this rate, would-be space travelers will be able to choose their favorite tech company, find its richest guy and buy a ticket on his craft of choice. Why does everyone who achieves economic dominance over the planet immediately turn around and try to get off it?

(P3) The “boys and their toys” explanation is the obvious one – once you’ve bought all the cars and boats and planes you want, why not buy a rocket? Space is INHERENTLY cool.

(P4) Of course, UBER-wealthy tech entrepreneurs aren’t just buying rockets for their personal amusement. They want to get you off-planet, too. Well, not you, exactly, but someone like you with much, much, much more money.

(P5) And that’s where the VOGUE for billionaire space travel MAGNATES gets a little weird –and maybe even SINISTER. It’s already very true that money expands your world; the person with the funds to have a car is less RESTRICTED in her movements than the person without one, and the person with a huge plane and the money to fly it is less restricted still.

(P6) The expansion of rich people’s travel HORIZONS comes at a price for everyone, both rich and poor. Travel that costs more and feels more INDULGENT is also travel that has a CATACLYSMIC effect on the environment. The faster and further you can afford to travel, the greater your environmental FOOTPRINT.

(P7) Companies like Blue Origin are using money and resources to push outwards, to expand the worlds of their rich customers all the way into space. But those same customers – and some of the owners – are making their TERRESTRIAL money in the classic capitalist terrestrial way: by working around any OBSTACLE to profit, including environmental regulations and conservation efforts. Almost all industry is environmentally disastrous, after all; truly PRIORITIZING earth-friendliness would destroy most companies.

(P8) Some people with a great deal of money care more about the fate of the world than others, but they’re all willing to CUT CORNERS if it affects the BOTTOM LINE. You can tell because they have a great deal of money; you can also tell because they’re willing to spend it on a ride in a spaceship.

(P9) Which raises the question: are they just GEARING UP to WASH THEIR HANDS OF the planet and leave the rest of us to clean up? By pushing outward while ignoring the problems it causes back on the HOME TURF, are they effectively creating a GALACTIC upper class that rests on the backs of the EARTHBOUND? Even if that’s not LITERALLY the plan, it may be the ultimate outcome.

WORDS: 496

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/16/mega-rich-rocket-ships-escape-earth

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. Would you be willing to fly into outer space, or would this be too scary?
  3. Are rich people able to buy their way out of problems that everyone else is stuck with, as the author of the article suggests?
  4. Why is space travel changing from being a government activity to a private business activity?
  5. Do you think that there will be a Mars landing or another moon landing within the next ten years?

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.

  • Cut corners
  • Bottom line
  • Gearing up
  • Wash hands of
  • Home turf

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CORPORATIONS NEED A HUMAN VOICE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

[BUSINESS ★★]

CORPORATIONS NEED A HUMAN VOICE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

big-corporations-social-media

(P1) For companies, behaving like an actual human being on social media is dangerous. Tightly control your company’s voice on Twitter and Facebook with endless rules, regulations, and procedures and the results might be ROBOTIC and ‘corporate,’ but at least you’ll avoid social media disasters. Allow your employees to express a little bit of a unique voice (or even humor), however, and you’re OPENING THE DOOR to potential MISSTEPS and the resulting embarrassment.

(P2) Given these TRADE-OFFS, what’s the right path to walk for most small business owners? Should you play it safe and potentially come off as boring, or be human and risk all too human mistakes?

(P3) A new study out of the Netherlands offers entrepreneurs PONDERING this DILEMMA some food for thought. The research focused on the social media profiles of the Dutch airline KLM, polling nearly 2,000 consumers in the country who had interacted with the company on social media about their level of contact with the brand and their perceptions of the ‘humanness’ of its voice. The researchers also asked for the consumers’ assessment of KLM’s reputation.

(P4) The results probably shouldn’t surprise anyone who has spent any time being social online. The more ‘human’ a person thought KLM was being on social media, the more they interacted with the brand online and the better their perception of the company’s reputation. To put it simply, not speaking like a robot makes people more INCLINED to interact with your brand, and more likely to form a positive impression of it.

(P5) “This study shows the importance for a company to communicate in a human-like way for establishing the best relationships with consumers,” researcher Corn Dijkmans said, SUMMING UP the findings.

(P6) That might seem GLARINGLY obvious from the consumer’s perspective (who enjoys chatting with CARDBOARD corporate DRONES, after all?) but from the business owner’s side the terror of possible disasters — and the media SCORN HEAPED on these social media SCREWUPS — can COUNTERBALANCE the UNMISSABLE fact that nearly everyone prefers interacting with fellow humans.

(P7) This study suggests you might want to get over that fear. If you’re going to go through the effort of being on social media at all, you certainly want to see a positive impact in your customers’ opinion of your company. If you HOLD THE REINS so tightly so that whoever handles your social media is afraid to express any SPARK of humanity, it might not be worth spending much time and effort on your accounts at all.

WORDS: 417

SOURCE: http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/being-a-human-on-social-media-pays-off.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 your company active on Facebook and Twitter? Do you think this is necessary for companies today?
  3. What is the worst “social media screwup” that you have heard about?
  4. Are you active on Facebook and Twitter yourself? How much?
  5. Have you ever made a comment or expressed an opinion online or in social media that was misunderstood?

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.

  • Open the door
  • Trade-off
  • Sum up
  • Hold the reins

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KINDERGARTEN TEACHER REMEMBERS STUDENT 30 YEARS LATER

[EDUCATION ★]

KINDERGARTEN TEACHER REMEMBERS STUDENT 30 YEARS LATER

Teacher and Student

(P1) Most of us will never forget our first kindergarten teacher.

(P2) And sometimes… they remember us too.

(P3) “When I first saw him, I could hardly believe it,” said Lorly Schik about a little boy who walked into her classroom nearly 30 years ago, whom she recognized when she turned on the local television news last spring.

(P4) “I can still picture him as a small dark-haired child in kindergarten!”

(P5) Time has turned some of those dark hairs grey for Cory Hepola. The years took him through school, college, and into a TV career that moved him to five different states before he finally returned home to Minnesota and TV station KARE 11.

(P6) Those years were spent much differently for Lorly. In 1989, she retired from the Perham school district and was planning to experience the country with her husband, only to see him PASS AWAY unexpectedly. Lorly stayed in Perham for nearly 25 more years until a difficult decision was made.

(P7) Nearing 90 years old, Lorly decided to leave the comfort and familiarity of her smaller community and move closer to the rest of her family in the Twin Cities. She cried as she left her long-time house in Perham in 2013 for an independent senior living complex in St. Paul.

(P8) While leaving her past behind was difficult, Lorly was happy to be living just blocks away from her kids, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But, her past wasn’t ready to let her go.

(P9) Lorly began teaching in the 1940’s, and over the years she made a positive impact on hundreds and hundreds of lives. Amazingly, she seems to remember nearly every single student that walked through the door of her classroom. That’s how she instantly recalled Cory, that dark-haired kid in 1988, her second to last class before she retired.

(P10) She smiled as she watched her former student on KARE 11 Sunrise. And, then, she got out her pen.

(P11) “I just had to tell them how proud I am,” she recalled.

(P12) Lorly sat down and penned a card, addressed to Cory’s parents.

(P13) “Hi Diane & Terry. It is with a great deal of pride that I am now watching my former kindergarten student telecast the news on KARE 11.

(P14) “Greet Cory. Tell him his K-teacher is now 90 years old, enjoys seeing his newscast, and wishes him (and you, too) the very best!”

(P15) A couple of weeks later, she received a card in return.

(P16) “I just had to tell Mrs. Schik how much her note meant to me. And, really, how much she meant to me,” Cory said.

WORDS: 432

SOURCE: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/humankind/2015/09/08/humankind-kindergarten-teacher/71871884/

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 remember many of your schoolteachers? Do you remember their names?
  3. Who are your oldest living relatives?
  4. Have any of your classmates from school or university become famous?
  5. Have you ever re-ESTABLISHED contact with someone from your past after many years?

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 away

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