RIDE THE HELLO KITTY TRAIN

[TRAVEL ★]

RIDE THE HELLO KITTY TRAIN

Hello Kitty

(P1) A high-speed train painted in the colors of Hello Kitty made its first ROUND TRIP between the cities of Taipei and Taitung in Taiwan.

(P2) About 200 fans of the Hello Kitty character won tickets to take the four-hour trip.

(P3) Painted over the train’s exterior, the famed cat also dominates the interior, appearing on walls, headrest covers, serving carts, and meal boxes.

(P4) Passengers actually stole more than 300 of the headrest covers following the INAUGURAL ride.

(P5) The train is designed to attract international visitors.

(P6) “The design concept behind this train is ‘Travel around the world with Hello Kitty,'” a spokesman said.

(P7) The train’s eight cars are painted to reflect different travel scenes: Taipei, Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa, North and South America, and the North and South Poles.

(P8) The final car shows the counties of Hualien and Taitung on Taiwan’s eastern coast.

(P9) Japanese cartoon company Sanrio designed a special Kitty character, dressed in a captain’s hat and uniform, to serve as train master.

(P10) The 376-seat train will run again between Taipei and Taitung on March 25, and between Taipei and Hualien on March 27, to mark the 90th anniversary of the Hualien-Taitung line’s opening.

(P11) Starting April 21, it’s scheduled to run between Taipei’s Shulin Station and Taitung’s Zhiben Station on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

(P12) Japanese firm Sanrio launched Hello Kitty in 1974. It belongs on the list of global ICONS that somehow never stop being cool.

(P13) More than four decades later, the character ACCOUNTS FOR 75% of Sanrio’s $142 million annual PROFIT.

(P14) The Hello Kitty image has been LICENSED to appear on every sort of product.

WORDS: 269

SOURCE: http://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/23/travel/taiwan-hello-kitty-train/index.html

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

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

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Is Hello Kitty popular in your country?
  3. Do you like or dislike cute characters?
  4. Did you have a favorite cartoon or comic book character when you were a child?
  5. Why do popular cartoon characters have big eyes?

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.

  • Round trip
  • Account for

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MEXICO CITY SUFFERS INTENSE AIR POLLUTION

[ENVIRONMENT ★★]

MEXICO CITY SUFFERS INTENSE AIR POLLUTION

Mexico City

(P1) Authorities have banned more than 1 million cars from the roads and offered free SUBWAY and bus rides to COAX people from their VEHICLES during Mexico City’s first AIR POLLUTION ALERT in 11 years.

(P2) Officials advised people to limit outdoor activity owing to the high OZONE level that were nearly double the acceptable limit in the SPRAWLING capital, which lies in a high VALLEY ringed by SMOG-trapping mountains.

(P3) Amid a MUDDY brown HAZE, some residents covered their mouths with SCARVES or paper masks. The environment secretary, Alejandro Pacchiano, said ADDITIONAL measures would be considered if conditions did not improve, such as SUSPENDING industrial activity at factories.

(P4) The mayor, Miguel Ángel Mancera, told Televisa news that about 1.1 million cars in the Valley of Mexico, including nearly 450,000 in the capital, were ordered off the streets under the TEMPORARY RESTRICTIONS.

(P5) About 4.7 million vehicles were REGISTERED in the capital in 2014.

(P6) Mexico City used to regularly reach high smog levels, but its air quality has improved significantly since the 1990s.

WORDS: 173

SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/16/choked-mexico-city-bans-1m-cars-in-air-pollution-alert

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 there ever bad air pollution in your city?
  3. Are you very sensitive to air pollution, or not too bothered by it?
  4. 7 million vehicles is a lot, and means that traffic in Mexico City is very bad. What is traffic like in your area?
  5. Is your city high in the mountains, near the ocean, or IN-BETWEEN?

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.

  • Air pollution
  • In-between

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DRONES ARE DANGEROUS

[TECHNOLOGY ★]

DRONES ARE DANGEROUS

drones

(P1) Drones are entering RESTRICTED airspace and flying dangerously close to airplanes and HELICOPTERS, with the Federal AVIATION Administration (FAA) reporting hundreds of drone incidents during the past six months.

(P2) Among the incidents listed in a new FAA report that runs from August 2015 to January 2016 are several reports by airline pilots of “near misses” with drones.

(P3) In one incident in November, a helicopter departing the Children’s Hospital in Saint Louis had to TAKE EVASIVE ACTION to avoid a black drone. In another incident in August, a pilot flying at 7,000 feet near JFK airport reported seeing a black drone passing by in the opposite direction, a mere 20 feet to the right of the aircraft.

(P4) Consumer drones have become increasingly popular , and tech companies including Intel, GoPro and Samsung are racing to CASH IN ON the trend. Amazon and Google are developing drones they hope could bring packages directly to customers’ homes.

(P5) But the PROLIFERATION of drones is raising all sorts of new safety and security concerns, particularly as drones fly into parts of the sky that are subject to strict AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL systems.

WORDS: 187

SOURCE: http://www.businessinsider.com/faa-report-of-drone-incidents-2016-3

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. Should the use of drones be more REGULATED?
  3. Do you worry about what TERRORISTS could do with drones?
  4. Do you enjoy “tech toys”?
  5. Have you ever had a scary experience on an airplane flight?

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 evasive action
  • Cash in on
  • Air traffic control

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ARGENTINA SINKS CHINESE FISHING BOAT

[WORLD NEWS ★★]

ARGENTINA SINKS CHINESE FISHING BOAT

Argentina Coast Guard

(P1) Argentina’s COAST GUARD chased and sank a Chinese boat that it says was fishing illegally in Argentine waters.

(P2) The coast guard said one of its ships had fired WARNING SHOTS at the boat, called the Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010.

(P3) The coast guard said it had first tried to raise a RESPONSE by radio. All 32 CREW members were rescued, it said.

(P4) China has expressed “serious concern” over the sinking.

(P5) Chinese spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement that the Chinese government had made URGENT communications to Argentina, demanding a thorough investigation.

(P6) Illegal fishing is a common problem in the South Atlantic.

(P7) “The boat was HAILED over radio, and both visual and audio signals were sent to make contact. However, the boat turned off its fishing lights and FLED towards INTERNATIONAL WATERS without responding to repeated calls over various FREQUENCIES,” the coast guard statement said.

(P8) “On several occasions, the Chinese boat performed MANEUVERS designed to force a COLLISION with the coast guard, putting at risk both its own crew and coast guard PERSONNEL, who were then ordered to shoot at the fishing boat.”

(P9) China is the world’s largest market for SEAFOOD and has the biggest long-distance fishing FLEET, currently more than 2,000 boats.

Argentina Map

(P10) In 2012, Argentina captured two Chinese boats that had been fishing illegally for squid in its EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE. Warning shots were fired.

(P11) The latest incident comes despite Argentina’s relations with China growing closer in recent years.

WORDS: 245

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35815444

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

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

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you think that Argentina was JUSTIFIED in sinking the Chinese fishing boat?
  3. Why didn’t the Chinese boat respond to communications from the Argentine coast guard ship?
  4. Why do nations have an exclusive economic zone extending from their coasts?
  5. What is your favorite kind of seafood?

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.

  • Coast guard
  • Warning shot
  • International waters
  • Exclusive economic zone

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THE SEARCH FOR QUEEN NEFERTITI

[HISTORY★★★]

THE SEARCH FOR QUEEN NEFERTITI

Nefertiti-bust-330653

(P1) The search for a secret CHAMBER behind King Tutankhamun’s TOMB had a fresh development, as Egypt’s ANTIQUITIES minister said INFRARED SCANS have revealed fresh EVIDENCE of an empty space behind the 3,000-year-old tomb.

(P2) The space is believed by some to be the lost BURIAL site of Queen Nefertiti, thought to be the ancient king’s STEPMOTHER, who died in the 14th century B.C. Confirmation of this THEORY would be the most significant Egyptian ARCHAEOLOGICAL find so far this century.

(P3) An ANALYSIS of infrared scans done last November has revealed the presence of empty spaces behind two walls in King Tut’s chamber, Egypt’s antiquities minister Mamdouh el-Damaty said at a PRESS CONFERENCE in Cairo.

(P4) In order to avoid disturbing the contents of King Tut’s chamber, the antiquities ministry worked with researchers from Cairo University and the HIP Institute, a French institute using technology to study and preserve cultural HERITAGE, to scan the chamber.

(P5) The effort uses infrared scans that can effectively look through the tomb’s walls because different materials return different FREQUENCIES of light when hit with an infrared beam.

(P6) The first scan took 24 hours.

(P7) The researchers are most INTRIGUED by cold spots revealed by the scans, which could be DRAFTY and indicate a previously undiscovered empty space such as a hallway or a room contained within the tomb.

(P8) The scans in November follow claims by British EGYPTOLOGIST Nicholas Reeves, who said HIGH-RESOLUTION images of the tombs provided hints of hidden doors to unexplored chambers.

(P9) Next up is a more advanced scan that is set to be conducted at the end of March with an international team of researchers who hope to confirm whether the empty spaces are in fact chambers. At that point, Damaty said he can discuss the possibility of how and when a team could explore the rooms.

(P10) While he says he’s 90 percent certain that chambers are there, “I never start the next step until I’m 100 percent,” he said.

(P11) Dr. Reeves, who is leading the investigation, believes that the young king’s MAUSOLEUM was originally occupied by Nefertiti.

(P12) The find could also be a BOON to Egypt’s tourism industry, an important part of the Egyptian economy that has suffered in recent years.

(P13) The discovery of Nefertiti herself — known for her REGAL beauty — would provide VALUABLE information about what remains a mysterious period of Egyptian history.

(P14) “It can be the discovery of the century,” said Damaty, the antiquities minister. “It’s very important for Egyptian history and the world.”

WORDS: 421

SOURCE: http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2016/0317/Evidence-mounts-in-search-for-King-Tut-s-roommate-Queen-Nefertiti

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 there any actual evidence yet of Queen Nefertiti’s tomb being discovered, or is this story mostly WISHFUL THINKING?
  3. Why is the Egyptian government trying to make an announcement before anything has actually been found?
  4. Should the news media report “non-stories” like this, or should they not allow themselves to be MANIPULATED?
  5. Are you interested in history? What countries and time periods are you most interested in?

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.

  • Press conference
  • High-resolution
  • Wishful thinking

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PEOPLE STILL BELIEVE GENDER STEREOTYPES

[LIFE ★]

PEOPLE STILL BELIEVE GENDER STEREOTYPES

drapers-w724

(P1) Old beliefs die hard—especially the habit of STEREOTYPING people based on GENDER. Even though a lot has changed for women over the years, a study just published in Psychology of Women Quarterly shows that many of our beliefs about gender have stayed the same.

(P2) The researchers compared survey results from 195 college students in 1983 to those from 191 people in 2014, and they looked very similar. Both men and women continue to associate men with masculine TRAITS like COMPETITIVENESS and technical professions like ENGINEERING, while many still think of women as kinder and more likely to enter CARING PROFESSIONS like NURSING. And even more people now than 30 years ago believe men are unlikely to take HOUSEHOLD and childcare responsibilities.

(P3) “The current study finds that people EXAGGERATE the extent to which men and women are different from one another,” the researchers said.

(P4) There was one positive FINDING, though: People are now more likely to expect women to be in control of their finances, and that reflects an actual increase in women’s earnings and education. And another recent study found that EXPECTATIONS for relationships have changed along with gender roles, with men caring more about brains and less about household skills.

(P5) It may take a while for our own beliefs to change, but at least we’re making progress.

WORDS: 224

SOURCE: http://www.glamour.com/sex-love-life/blogs/smitten/2016/03/gender-stereotypes-study

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

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

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you think that men and women are very different, or not that different?
  3. Are gender stereotypes common in your country?
  4. Why would the caring professions have more women?
  5. Why don’t men help more with household work?

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.

  • Caring profession

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ARGENTINE CLEANER’S DOUBLE LIFE AS PRIZE-WINNING NOVELIST

[CULTURE AND ENTERTAINMENT ★★]

ARGENTINE CLEANER’S DOUBLE LIFE AS PRIZE-WINNING NOVELIST

Kike Ferrari

(P1) When the Buenos Aires subway closes at night, Enrique Ferrari goes underground to mop the platforms — and to polish his next THRILLER.

(P2) The Argentine station cleaner, 44, is also a prize-winning crime novelist.

(P3) He has been published in several countries, but it is the nighttime cleaning job which puts food on the table for his three children.

(P4) “Live off writing? The money isn’t good enough,” he says.

(P5) A representative for cleaning and other unskilled staff in the subway workers’ UNION, he is seen as a CURIOSITY: a writer who has never been to university.

(P6) The author and his GRITTY prose have captured the media’s attention. He has appeared on television and radio, and is called the “subway writer” in news reports.

(P7) “I understand that people find it surprising, but I am not a strange creature. There are lots of laborers who write, paint, or play music,” says Ferrari.

(P8) “It is wrong to think that we workers have no culture,” adds the novelist, whose many TATTOOS include one of KARL MARX on his left arm.

(P9) Ferrari, known as Kike, has published five novels and two collections of short stories.

(P10) His murder mystery  “Que de lejos parecen moscas” (“They Look Like Flies From A Distance”) won a prize at the PRESTIGIOUS Gijon CRIME FICTION FESTIVAL in Spain in 2012. That got him published in France, Mexico and Italy.

(P11) Previously he won a prize in Cuba for “Lo Que No Fue” (“What Was Not”), a political thriller set in Barcelona during the SPANISH CIVIL WAR.

(P12) In the subway, he cleans up garbage in an ATMOSPHERE that reflects the dark settings of his crime fiction.

(P13) In the brief breaks during his cleaning shift, he switches on an old laptop and polishes his MANUSCRIPTS.

(P14) “I write whenever I can, wherever I can,” he says. “Although during the day I’m most interested in finding time to sleep.”

(P15) His other work space is a little table piled with books in a corner of his apartment.

(P16) He has worked as a baker, driver, and street VENDOR.

(P17) He spent three years living illegally in the United States before being DEPORTED, but came back home with his first novel UNDER HIS BELT: “Operation Bukowski”, published in Buenos Aires in 2004.

(P18) A fan of soccer and rock ‘n’ roll music, Kike grew up in a MODEST home.

(P19) When he was eight, his father gave him a book titled “Sandokan”, from a series of classic pirate adventure novels by the early 20th-century Italian writer Emilio Salgari.

(P20) “Instead of dreaming of being a pirate, I dreamed of writing without stopping, like Salgari.”

(P21) But he doesn’t want to END UP the same way as his literary hero.

(P22) “Salgari committed SUICIDE. He was tired of the publishers sucking his blood,” he says.

(P23) “He wrote them a letter saying: ‘I bid you farewell as I break my pen.’ I’m going to tattoo that on myself,” he says with a laugh.

(P24) Despite the prizes he has won, Kike is ON THE MARGINS OF the literary scene, SHUNNED by major publishers.

(P25) “I do not think of literature as a career,” he says.

(P26) “But at quarter to eleven, 15 minutes before I go to mop the floors, I dream of winning an international prize or of Steven Spielberg wanting to film one of my books.”

WORDS: 554

SOURCE: http://artdaily.com/index.asp?int_sec=11&int_new=86055#.VvX5rOIrLIU

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 reading thrillers and crime fiction?
  3. Why do many writers make very little money?
  4. Do you know any writers, artists, or musicians who work at other jobs to make enough money to live?
  5. Is there respect for workers’ culture in your country, or not really?

EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:

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

  • Crime fiction
  • Under his belt
  • End up
  • On the margins of

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