Week87

[World News ★] Robbery in Paris

[World News ★] Ferris wheel on fire in Bangkok

[Sports ★★] Leicester City in football fairytale win

[People ★★] Lady Gaga – The Queen of Social Media

[Jobs ★★] The $265,000 job that no one wants

[Technology ★★] New gym opens to train robots

[Life ★★★] Scandinavian Countries Do the Most for Women

[Entertainment ★★★] Ringling Bros. Elephants Perform for the Very Last Time

[Health ★★★] Every Belgium Resident to Get Iodine Ration

[Travel News ★★★] Singapore – World’s Most Expensive City

Singapore – World’s Most Expensive City

[Travel News ★★★]

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(P1) Singapore is the world’s most expensive city – for the second time in a row. The British magazine The Economist compared over 130 of the world’s major cities. Paris, Oslo, and Zurich follow the Southeast Asian metropolis as the most expensive cities in the world.

(P2) The study uses New York as the basis for calculating and comparing the cost of living. It shows that Singapore is more expensive than any other major world cities when it comes to shopping, transportation, and food. The report states that owning a car in Singapore is nearly unaffordable. Clothes cost twice as much as in New York. The city is experiencing rising housing costs as more and more foreigners choose to live there.

(P3) Singapore is also a financial and banking center and is becoming the Asian headquarters of many global companies. Despite such high prices, Singapore is still a major travel destination. In addition, the city-state celebrates its 50th birthday this year.

(P4) Well-known cities have disappeared from the exclusive list, including Tokyo, partly because of the declining value of the yen. Paris remains the most expensive European city, despite the weak euro.

(P5) At the end of the list Karachi, Pakistan is currently the world’s cheapest city. Among the least expensive cities are three from India: Bangalore, Mumbai, and Chennai.

WORDS: 215

SOURCE: http://www.english-online.at/news-articles/living/singapore-worlds-most-expensive-city.htm

VOCABULARY: metropolis, basis, unaffordable, city-state, well-known, exclusive, despite

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 visited Singapore? If yes, describe your visit. If no, would you like to visit Singapore?
  3. Singapore celebrated its 50th birthday. How old is your country?
  4. What is the cost of living like in your city?
  5. Is your country a major travel destination? Why or why not?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES: What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • In a row (P1)
  • Cost of living (P2)
  • Housing costs (P2)
  • Declining value (P4)

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Image source: by Calvin Teo http://www.english-online.at/news-articles/living/singapore-worlds-most-expensive-city.htm

Every Belgium Resident to Get Iodine Ration

[Health ★★★]

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(P1) Last month’s terrorist attacks in Brussels heightened already existing fears of ISIS building and setting off a dirty bomb in Belgium, and now the government is taking no chances. Health Minister Maggie De Block announced Thursday that iodine pills—which counteract radiation build up in the thyroid gland, the part of the body most sensitive to Iodine-131—will be rationed out to the country’s entire population of 11 million people, the Telegraph reports. This expands on Belgium’s previous program, which only covered allotments for those who lived within 14 miles of two major nuclear plants. The augmented rations were proposed after experts recommended expanding affected areas to those within 62 miles of the plants—basically the entire nation (NBC News notes Belgium is about Maryland’s size); the new rules have yet to be finalized.

(P2) Rations will be sent to pharmacies, with pregnant women, breastfeeding moms, and kids getting first dibs. “Given the population density and the risk of a nuclear disaster, this was absolutely necessary,” a Belgian politician told local paper La Libre, per RT.com. There are a couple of reasons for concern being cited, including a 10-hour surveillance video that shows the home of a senior Belgian nuclear official that was found in the possession of a man arrested after the Paris terror attacks. And there’s also the dilapidated state of the four-decade-old Doel and Tihange nuclear plants, with reports of metal degradation and fires, but De Block says the new pill mandate has nothing to do with facility safety concerns. RT.com calls Iodine-131 “one of the most harmful radioactive elements that can be released,” and notes it was linked to 5,000 thyroid cancer deaths in the wake of Chernobyl.

WORDS: 279

SOURCE: http://www.newser.com/story/224362/every-belgium-resident-to-get-iodine-ration.html

VOCABULARY: heightened, dirty bomb, counteract, allotments, augmented, rations. dibs, dilapidated, degradation, mandate

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 there nuclear power plants in your country? If so, where are they located?
  3. Is your country under heightened security because of potential terrorist attacks? If so, how has it been heightened?
  4. How has the world changed due to the potential of terrorist attacks?
  5. Are you for or against nuclear power plants? Why?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES:

What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • Setting off (P1)
  • Build up (P1)
  • Four-decade-old (P2)

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Image source: by AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File http://www.newser.com/story/224362/every-belgium-resident-to-get-iodine-ration.html

Ringling Bros. Elephants Perform for the Very Last Time

[Entertainment ★★★]

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(P1) Elephants will perform for the last time at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus on Sunday, as the show closes its own chapter on a controversial practice that has entertained audiences since circuses began in America two centuries ago. Six Asian elephants will deliver their final performances in Providence, Rhode Island, and five will perform in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, during several shows on Sunday. The last Providence show will stream live on Facebook and at Ringling.com at 7:45 pm, reports the AP. Alana Feld, executive vice president of Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, said the animals will live at its 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida.

(P2) Elephants have been used in the circus in America for more than 200 years. In the early 1800s, Hackaliah Bailey added the elephant “Old Bet” to his circus. P.T. Barnum added the African elephant he named “Jumbo” to “The Greatest Show on Earth” in 1882. The Humane Society says more than a dozen circuses in the United States continue to use elephants. But none tour as widely or are as well-known as Ringling Bros. It’s also getting more difficult for circuses to tour with elephants. Dozens of cities have banned the use of bullhooks—used to train elephants—and some states are considering such legislation.

WORDS: 215

SOURCE: http://www.newser.com/story/224423/ringling-bros-elephants-perform-for-the-very-last-time.html

VOCABULARY: chapter, controversial, conservation, humane, bullhooks, legislation

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 like going to the circus? Why or why not?
  3. Why do you think people like going to the circus?
  4. Should the use of bullhooks be banned? Why or why not?
  5. Tell me about something controversial in your country.

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES: What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • Will deliver their final performances (P1)
  • Stream live on Facebook (P1)

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Image source: by AP Photo/Julio Cortez http://www.newser.com/story/224423/ringling-bros-elephants-perform-for-the-very-last-time.html

Scandinavian Countries Do the Most for Women

[Life ★★★]

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(P1) According to recent studies, Scandinavian countries are doing more for women than any other country on Earth. In general, being a woman in northern Europe is better than elsewhere around the world.  In global rankings, Iceland leads the world in terms of gender equality. Sweden, Norway, and Denmark come in next.

(P2) The United States has improved its ranking, moving up from 31st place to the 19th spot, largely because President Obama has offered women more jobs in government offices. At the bottom of the list are Yemen and Pakistan, where it is least desirable to be a woman.

(P3) In Scandinavia, equality starts at an early age. Boys and girls have the same educational opportunities. There are even more women enrolled in universities than men.

(P4) In the workforce, men and women are equally respected and they get the same pay. Especially in Sweden, the government makes it easier for women to return to work after having a baby. A complex welfare system allows them to balance work and family life. All these measures have led to rising birth rates in Scandinavian countries.

(P5) Scandinavian countries have a long history in gender equality. They were the first to give women the right to vote. This has led to more women taking an active role in politics. Today Sweden, for example, has the highest ratio of females in parliament – 44%.

WORDS: 227

SOURCE: http://www.english-online.at/news-articles/living/scandinavian-countries-do-most-for-women.htm

VOCABULARY: rankings, gender equality, spot, desirable, enrolled, workforce, complex, welfare system, ratio, parliament

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 you think the Scandinavian countries do the most for their women?
  3. Would you like to live in a Scandinavian country? Why or why not?
  4. Does your government have maternity leave programs? If yes, describe it.
  5. Does your country have a welfare system? If yes, describe it.

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES: What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • Even more (P3)
  • Family life (P4)
  • Right to vote (P5)

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Image source: by “unknown” http://www.ntnu.edu/womenindesignresearch

New gym opens to train robots

[Technology ★★]

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(P1) Elon Musk has opened a kind of gym for robots, called OpenAI Gym. Mr. Musk is the boss of the companies Tesla Motors and SpaceX. He also founded the online payments website PayPal. OpenAI Gym is a free platform for code writers to test their work on artificial intelligence. They can also share their algorithms. These are rules in a computer program that can solve problems and deal with lots of information.

(P2) Mr. Musk wrote about why OpenAI Gym is free. He said: “Our goal is to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole.” It follows the idea of rewards for learning – like giving a dog a treat when it learns something new. If an algorithm does well in the gym, it gets a reward. If it fails, it doesn’t. Musk wants to develop algorithms that can multi-task; to do many things at the same time, rather than just one thing.

WORDS: 160

SOURCE: http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/1605/160501-robot-gym-1.html

VOCABULARY: platform, code, artificial, humanity, rewards, treat

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 robots will replace human beings in the future (e.g. work)?
  3. Tesla Motors manufactures electric cars. Are there people in your country who own electric cars?
  4. Do you think more people should drive electric cars? Why or why not?
  5. Why do people want to learn computer programming and become code writers?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES: What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • PayPal (P1)
  • As a whole (P2)
  • Rewards for learning (P2)

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Image source: by Oliver Burston – Getty Images http://www.gettyimages.com/license/158317693

The $265,000 job that no one wants

[Jobs ★★]

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(P1) There is a doctor’s job in a small New Zealand town that no one wants. It pays US$265,000 a year. There is no weekend work, and houses in the area are cheap. The job is just four days a week, with 12 weeks’ holiday a year. The current doctor Alan Kenny is leaving. He cannot find a replacement. Four medical companies also could not find a replacement. Dr. Kenny thinks people want to live and work in the city and not in the countryside.

(P2) Last year, Dr. Kenny could not go on a family holiday because he could not find a doctor to replace him. He has been a doctor in the town for 30 years. He said he wouldn’t change his countryside life for city life. He wants to retire and he needs to give his patients to a younger doctor. He said his work keeps him busy. He loves his job. He said: “I would like to stay but I hit my head against a brick wall trying to attract doctors.”

WORDS: 173

SOURCE: http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/1602/160226-doctors-1.html

VOCABULARY: replacement, countryside, retire, patients, attract

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. If you were a medical doctor, would you apply for this job? Why or why not?
  3. Do you prefer to live in the city or the countryside? Why?
  4. Have you ever traveled to New Zealand? If yes, describe your visit. If no, would you like to go there?
  5. Why do you think the doctor cannot find a replacement?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES: What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • Family holiday (P2)
  • Hit my head against a brick wall (P2)

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Image source: by “unknown” http://www.familydoctor.co.nz/Images/osg-header.jpg