“HOUSE OF CARDS” IS GREAT FOR OLDER ACTRESSES

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★★]

“HOUSE OF CARDS” IS GREAT FOR OLDER ACTRESSES

House of Cards

(P1) In an industry where women over 40 are often invisible, there is a TREASURE TROVE of female characters over 40 in the TWISTED political world of the ACCLAIMED television series “House of Cards.”

(P2) Seasoned actresses including Meryl Streep have spoken out about the DEARTH of good parts for older women. In the words of Streep, “once women have passed CHILDBEARING AGE, they are seen as GROTESQUE on some level.”

(P3) Yet on “House of Cards,” strong older women are STAPLES. Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is matched by his wife, Claire (Robin Wright, above left), and he finds other FORMIDABLE foes in former Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez (Sakina Jaffrey), congresswoman Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker) and even politics reporter Janine Skorsky (Constance Zimmer).

(P4) To Neve Campbell (above right), who appears in a new role as political strategist Leann Harvey in Season 4, it’s “wonderful” to see women playing those characters.

(P5) “They’re UNAPOLOGETICALLY powerful,” Campbell said.

(P6) According to Campbell, those powerful characters are a reflection of SHOWRUNNER Beau Willimon’s respect for successful women. Willimon spoke to the actress about the role before she accepted it. It takes “someone fearless” and “committed” to survive in Washington, D.C., Campbell explained, drawing a parallel to the qualities required of women in Hollywood — particularly women directors.

(P7) “When I’ve worked with female directors, they have to come across stronger male directors I’ve ever worked with because they’re up against a negative attitude,” she said.

(P8) “There are still people out there who would rather be working with a man than with a woman.”

(P9) Lead actress Robin Wright has directed four episodes of “House of Cards” and hopes to direct many more. Speaking to The New York Times in 2014, the actor-director recalled the UPHILL BATTLE she fought to convince her colleagues that she was serious about her intention to direct. A very small percentage of film and television directors are women.

WORDS: 321

SOURCE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/neve-campbell-house-of-cards_us_56d8aa61e4b03a405677e2af?ir=Entertainment&section=us_entertainment&utm_hp_ref=entertainment

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 watch many television dramas?
  3. Who are the most famous older actresses in your country?
  4. Who are the most powerful women you have known in your life?
  5. Why is it so hard for women to get work directing film and television?

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.

  • Treasure trove
  • Childbearing age
  • Uphill battle

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ASTRONAUT SCOTT KELLY RETURNS TO EARTH

[TECHNOLOGY ★]

ASTRONAUT SCOTT KELLY RETURNS TO EARTH

Expedition 46 Landing

(P1) After 340 days in space, astronaut Scott Kelly’s historic MISSION has come to an end.

(P2) Kelly returned following a nearly yearlong stay aboard the International Space Station. It was the longest amount of time an American astronaut has spent in space at one time.

(P3) Kelly traveled back to Earth aboard a small Soyuz space capsule along with Mikhail Kornienko, his fellow Year in Space crew member. After landing in a REMOTE area of Kazakhstan, near Russia, Kelly smiled, pumped his fists, and gave a THUMBS-UP. “This feels great,” he said.

(P4) Kelly is scheduled to return today to his hometown of Houston, Texas. He will be REUNITED with this family, including his daughters, Charlotte and Samantha, as well as his twin brother, Mark Kelly.

(P5) During the course of the yearlong mission, Kelly and Kornienko traveled 144 millon miles through space, circled the Earth 5,440 times, and experienced more than 10,000 sunrises and sunsets.

(P6) Kelly was part of a crew that conducted more than 400 science experiments. He also participated in three spacewalks outside the ISS to repair the station, and was part of a team that experimented with growing lettuce in space.

(P7) Kelly was also the subject of many biomedical experiments to determine how human beings are able to withstand long periods of time in space. His brother, Mark, was tested on Earth using the same measures to help scientists compare the effects of space on the body and mind.

(P8) NASA will continue to study Kelly in the coming weeks and months to see how his body adjusts upon his return to Earth. This research is CRITICAL to help NASA as it prepares to send people to Mars in the future. A journey to Mars will require humans to stay in space for at least two years.

(P9) With his one-year mission, Kelly has “helped us take one giant leap toward putting humans on Mars,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.

(P10) Kelly has spent more time in space, altogether, than any other American: 520 days over the course of four missions.

(P11) “Those of us who dream of sending astronauts to DEEP SPACE thank Kelly,” said Jim Green, director of planetary space for NASA, “and are thrilled to welcome him home.”

WORDS: 376

SOURCE: http://www.timeforkids.com/news/kelly-returns-earth/370496

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 would be the hardest part of living on the Space Station for a year?
  3. Why is it useful for NASA to have two astronauts who are identical twins?
  4. Do you think that it will be possible for human beings to live in space or on other planets for very long periods of time?
  5. Room on the Space Station is very tight. Would you get CLAUSTROPHOBIC?

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.

  • Thumbs-up
  • Deep space

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PERU EXPERIENCES WORST WEATHER IN DECADES

[ENVIRONMENT ★★]

PERU EXPERIENCES WORST WEATHER IN DECADES

Peru Weather

(P1) The heaviest rains and hottest TEMPERATURES in two decades have BATTERED Peru over the past week as weather linked to EL NINO caused FLOODING and LANDSLIDES that blocked the country’s central highway and forced many people from their homes.

(P2) At least five people have died in weather-related accidents.

(P3) Peru’s weather agency, Senamhi, warned about the possibility of even more INTENSE rains during the rest of the week, after DOWNPOURS OVERWHELMED towns along the northern coast and in the central Andes and Amazon areas.

(P4) “We haven’t seen this much rain since 1997” during the last strong El Nino PHENOMENON, AGRICULTURE Minister Juan Manuel Benites said.

(P5) El Nino is a warming of sea temperatures in the Pacific that can cause extreme weather.

(P6) Temperatures in several seaside and JUNGLE towns have also reached 20-year highs.

(P7) This season’s El Nino has already left 5,000 homeless and impacted an additional 80,000 people.

(P8) Trucks bringing potatoes, bananas, and other PERISHABLE goods to Lima remained STRANDED in the Andes for the fourth day, as authorities struggled to clear Peru’s central highway of DEBRIS following a series of landslides and floods.

(P9) Defense Minister Jakke Valakivi urged drivers to make use of ALTERNATE routes, and said that military planes were being used to transport people with urgent needs.

(P10) Peru will lose about $6 million in exports for every day the central highway remained blocked, according to Peru’s export association Adex.

(P11) “We’ve been working hard … to re-establish transit through the central highway as soon as possible,” said Valakivi. “Unfortunately, so far it hasn’t been possible.”

WORDS: 262

SOURCE: http://www.voanews.com/content/heaviest-rains-hottest-temperatures-two-decades-peru/3217490.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. Has there ever been any flooding in your city?
  3. What was the worst rainstorm that you ever experienced?
  4. Have you ever driven a car in terrible weather and driving conditions?
  5. Peru is affected by weather on the Pacific Ocean. What is the closest ocean to 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.

  • El Nino

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IS THE OFFICE HIERARCHY DEAD?

[BUSINESS ★]

IS THE OFFICE HIERARCHY DEAD?

Office Teams

(P1) The TRADITIONAL office structure is CRUMBLING. Organizations are moving away from the TOP-DOWN HIERARCHIES. In the past, jobs were organized by function—sales people worked with sales people; marketing people with marketing—and success meant moving UP THE CORPORATE LADDER. The goal was always to have a more IMPRESSIVE JOB TITLE, a higher level of responsibility, and more power to tell people what to do.

(P2) But in a modern workplace, people have less-defined jobs and move from project to project. “We’re now operating businesses as networks of teams,” said Josh Bersin of the business consulting company Deloitte, which did a survey on this topic. Companies that haven’t already shift to the team-based structure are thinking seriously about it. 92 percent of the companies in the survey mention organizational redesign as a top PRIORITY.

(P3) Studies have found that an EMPHASIS on hierarchy and who has the higher job title leads to conflict in teams. “The traditional hierarchical structure doesn’t necessarily work in every company,” said Jeff Luttrell, director of talent acquisition at Alorica. “Companies that depend too much on hierarchy can’t innovate and adapt.”

(P4) So companies are creating more FLEXIBLE structures. What these look like depends on the organization.

(P5) While hierarchy may be HEADED TOWARD a less dominant role in business organization, the move to team-based work has often been difficult. The same Deloitte survey found that 74 percent of employees rated their work environment as too structurally complex. “Companies are struggling with it,” said Bersin. A common complaint among workers is having to report to many managers and team members instead of just one SUPERVISOR.

WORDS: 268

SOURCE: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-03/the-office-hierarchy-is-officially-dead

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. How is your company organized? Departments, teams, hierarchies, or a combination of these?
  3. Do you report to one supervisor or several?
  4. Do you like to work in teams, or do you prefer to work on your own?
  5. Are the OFFICE POLITICS in your company stressful?

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.

  • Top-down
  • Up the corporate ladder
  • Job title
  • Head toward
  • Office politics

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SOUTH KOREAN LAWMAKERS TALK, AND TALK, AND TALK

[WORLD NEWS ★★]

SOUTH KOREAN LAWMAKERS TALK, AND TALK, AND TALK

Korean Lawmaker

(P1) South Korean lawmakers have set a new world record for a combined FILIBUSTER after speaking for 192 hours.

(P2) Nearly nine days of NON-STOP speeches included RAMBLING MONOLOGUES and long chunks of George Orwell’s novel 1984.

(P3) Some of the lawmakers wore TRAINERS to help them stay on their feet for hours.

(P4) They wanted to block an anti-terror bill that they said put personal freedoms at risk, but failed. The bill was passed hours after the filibuster ended.

(P5) A Canadian POLITICAL PARTY had set the previous world record for combined filibustering, talking for 57 hours in 2011.

(P6) Filibustering is a DELAYING TACTIC by which lawmakers continue speeches to the end of the ALLOCATED time, so that no vote can be held.

(P7) South Korea’s MARATHON attempt was SPEARHEADED by the main opposition party Minjoo which was joined by other smaller parties, and began on Tuesday, 23 February.

(P8) Some lawmakers reportedly REFRAINED from drinking water so that they could CUT DOWN ON bathroom breaks in order to continue speaking.

(P9) Tactics employed also included reading out lengthy academic articles in full as well as news stories and internet comments.

(P10) In all, 38 lawmakers are reported to have participated.

(P11) Jung Cheong-rae spoke for 11 hours 39 minutes and Minjoo floor leader Lee Jong-Kul ended the filibuster with a speech of more than 12 hours.

(P12) They would have succeeded if they had managed to hold out until the end of the PARLIAMENTARY session at midnight on 10 March.

(P13) But they faced increasing public criticism, since the filibuster was delaying votes on other important LEGISLATION.

(P14) The ruling Saenuri Party has a majority of seats in parliament and nearly 160 members voted for the anti-terror bill, with one against it.

(P15) The anti-terror bill allows INTELLIGENCE SERVICES to collect a wide range of personal information – including phone records – on anyone deemed to pose a security risk.

(P16) Opposition parties said it would VIOLATE privacy rights and could be used to STIFLE political DISSENT.

WORDS: 332

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35704123

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 possibility of filibustering exists in many legislatures, but could be easily eliminated by rules changes. Why isn’t it eliminated?
  3. Are the different political parties in your country COOPERATIVE, or not at all?
  4. Do you usually vote in national and local elections?
  5. Do you worry about terrorism?

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.

  • Non-stop
  • Political party
  • Cut down on
  • Intelligence service

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WINTER CAN’T SHUT ANCHORAGE AIRPORT DOWN

[TRAVEL ★]

WINTER CAN’T SHUT ANCHORAGE AIRPORT DOWN

Anchorage Airport

(P1) It snows a lot in Anchorage, Alaska, but the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport PRIDES ITSELF ON something that other airports can’t say: It is never closed down by winter weather.

(P2) “It’s a BRAGGING RIGHT,” says Zaramie Lindseth, airfield MAINTENANCE manager. “Anchorage is a top airport when it comes to snow and ice control.”

(P3) On average, more than 6 feet of snow falls annually in Anchorage.

(P4) “In Anchorage, we just plan for it every day,” he says. “For us, snow is not an emergency; it’s just part of doing business.”

(P5) One time, the airport had 27 inches of snow fall in 24 hours. “Even through that event we were able to continue operations,” Lindseth says. “It wasn’t pretty. We did have some DELAYS, certainly, but the airport continued to function and never closed all three runways during that event.”

(P6) Anchorage International Airport is the second busiest CARGO airport in the United States and the fifth busiest in the world, according to the airport. This is largely because it’s within 9.5 hours flying time of 90% of the industrialized world. More than 2 million people — about 40,000 passenger flights — also travel through the airport each year.

(P7) Managers say the 110 men and women who work in the airfield maintenance department are the key to keeping the 33 million square feet of airfield PAVEMENT clear from snow and ice.

(P8) “The guys are great at what we do,” says Brendon Knox, airfield maintenance foreman.

(P9) They also have some help from some high-tech equipment, including million-dollar SNOWPLOWS.

(P10) Equipment operator Jeremy Hans says his favorite pieces of equipment are the massive SNOW BLOWERS.

(P11) “We have three primary runways here all in excess of 10,000 feet long. We can get a runway cleaned in 18 to 22 minutes,” Lindseth says. “Once that runway is done we move on to the next and keep that ROTATION going until the snowfall stops.”

(P12) Snow removed from the runways is piled to the side, but in other areas such as the ramps and plane parking spots, it has to be trucked away and piled in what is called a “snow storage area.”

(P13) Often the mountains of snow don’t melt until the following August.

(P14) After the runway is cleared, sand and several chemical mixtures are spread onto the TARMAC to keep it from icing over. The mixtures are specially FORMULATED so they won’t cause problems with the aircraft or any CORROSION, which is what salt does.

(P15) Lindseth is careful not to criticize other airports that are forced to close when snow piles up.

(P16) “Certainly every airport has UNIQUE challenges,” he says.

(P17) But keeping the airport open in Anchorage is important.

(P18) “There aren’t too many other options in Alaska for aircraft of this size. So it’s CRITICAL for us to stay open,” Lindseth says. “We cannot lose time to a snow or ice event. We’ve got to be ready for it.”

WORDS: 485

SOURCE: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/04/travel/anchorage-alaska-airport-snow/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. Does it snow much in your area?
  3. What is the longest delay you have ever experienced while traveling?
  4. What is the farthest away from your home that you have ever traveled?
  5. Why is Alaska actually close to Europe?

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.

  • Pride oneself on
  • Bragging right
  • Snow blower

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CHAPO GUZMAN WANTS TO BE SENT TO THE US

[WORLD NEWS ★★]

CHAPO GUZMAN WANTS TO BE SENT TO THE US

chapo collage bb2016xxxi

(P1) After his escape from Mexico’s most secure prison, his CONTROVERSIAL meeting with actors Sean Penn and Kate Castillo, and his recapture, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman of the Sinaloa CARTEL says he will not fight EXTRADITION, and in fact wants the U.S. to take him as quickly as possible.

(P2) Guzman’s ATTORNEY, Jose Refugio Rodriguez, says it is because of the TORTURE suffered by Chapo in Mexico that he will TAKE HIS CHANCES with the U.S. prison system.

(P3) “He asked me to EXPEDITE the extradition, because the situation in Mexico is INTOLERABLE, and he can no longer stand living here”, says Rodriguez. “Extradition takes time, and the fear is that under the conditions Chapo faces in Altiplano prison, he may die before extradition is granted.”

(P4) “For him, extradition is a way to escape the TORMENT of his TREATMENT while in prison.”

(P5) Chapo’s wife Emma Coronel claims that the Mexican government intends to kill Chapo after he reveals “all he knows.”  She said that she and her daughters are American citizens.  She intends to follow Chapo to the United States when he is extradited.

(P6) The chief of Mexican federal prisons, Eduardo Guerrero Duran, denied that Guzman is being subjected to a VIOLATION of his human rights, although he admitted that the prisoner is awakened every four hours to confirm his presence.

(P7) “We must be aware that he has escaped twice from a high security prison, and we will not let it happen a third time”, Guerrero said in an interview.

(P8) Guzman’s attorney Rodriguez said that the US authorities will present new charges against “El Chapo” in the District Courts of New York and Chicago. He would most likely be sent to one of those two states rather than California and Texas.

(P9) Guzman’s legal team wants to NEGOTIATE “a REASONABLE SENTENCE” and imprisonment at a medium-security prison. But the US government is likely to insist that Guzman serve his time at the Florence, Colorado “Supermax” prison.

WORDS: 335

SOURCE: http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2016/03/he-can-no-longer-stand-being-tortured.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. Chapo Guzman is like a modern Al Capone, the famous Chicago crime boss of the 1930s and 1930s. Who are the most famous criminals from your country?
  3. Does your country have any prisons that are NOTORIOUS for their HARSH conditions?
  4. Why do crime bosses often have GLAMOROUS wives?
  5. Chapo Guzman is a very popular figure in his home state of Sinaloa. Why would a crime boss be popular with the public?

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 your chances

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