Week88

[Life ★] Cardboard boat
[World News ★] Fire in Canada
[Health ★★] Worries over eating disorders in Japan
[Environment ★★] Plastic Endangers World Oceans
[Business ★★] Russian weapons maker now a fashion brand
[Technology ★★] Samsung Starts Music Streaming Service MILK
[People ★★★] ‘The Punisher’ Wins Philippine Election
[Entertainment ★★★] As You Pick a Netflix Flick, Netflix Watches You
[Business ★★★] Falling Oil Prices – Winners and Losers
[World News ★★★] China’s Skyscrapers Become the World’s Tallest

China’s Skyscrapers Become the World’s Tallest

[World News ★★★]

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(P1) When it comes to building skyscrapers, China has become the world’s leading country. The Communist nation’s leaders are urging city planners to expand to the sky.  By the end of next year, every third building over 150 meters will be standing in China. The Shanghai Tower, which will be the world’ second tallest building, is scheduled to be completed soon.

(P2) Suzhou, a city of a slightly over one million people in Eastern China, will be home to the Zhongnan Centre, the third-largest building in the world. Within the next 5 years, 6 out of the world’s ten top skyscrapers will be located in China. The world’s largest building, however, will remain the 828 meters high Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

(P3) The Shanghai Tower is definitely a unique building, a skyscraper that has never been planned in such a way before. The 121-floor building has a spiral form, with 9 cylinders placed on top of each other. The huge skyscraper provides not only office space but also homes, stores and even gardens in staggering heights. It is a futuristic multi-platform city of its own.

(P4) In Shenzhen, another new urban project is under construction. City authorities are planning a gigantic skyscraper complex with platforms and connecting bridges. Cloud Citizen, as it is called, will be like a city within a city, able to generate its own power and produce its own food.

(P5) The Chinese are not only building such complex structures merely as prestige projects. A growing number of Chinese citizens are moving from the countryside to the cities. By 2030, 70% of China’s 1.4 billion people will be living in urban areas. Authorities say they must plan cities the right way in order to control growth and avoid the creation of slums and shantytowns.

WORDS: 292

SOURCE: http://www.english-online.at/news-articles/living/chinas-skyscrapers-become-worlds-tallest.htm

VOCABULARY: skyscrapers, urging, spiral, cylinders, staggering, futuristic, urban, gigantic, prestige, slums, shantytowns

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 in a skyscraper? If so, where? If no, do you want to go inside one?
  3. Do you have a fear of heights? Why or why not?
  4. Do you prefer living in the countryside or city? Why?
  5. In your opinion, is it possible to build skyscrapers higher than the ones already built today? Why or why not?

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

  • Expand to the sky (P1)
  • Within the next 5 years (P2)
  • 6 out of the world’s ten (P2)
  • multi-platform (P3)
  • Under construction (P4)

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Image source: by Alex Needham https://www.decodedscience.org/crashing-stock-markets-mean/55655

Falling Oil Prices – Winners and Losers

[Business ★★★]

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(P1) For the first time in four years, the price of oil has been decreasing steadily.  At the moment, it is down to $60 to $80 per barrel after years of prices above $100. And there are no signs of prices going up in the near future.

(P2) One of the reasons for the fall of oil prices is that there is more than enough oil on the world markets.  Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer has tried to stabilize the prices by producing less oil but other OPEC members have reacted by producing more oil.

(P3) Another reason for the cut in oil prices is that the United States has been producing more and more energy from fracking. The oil that is trapped in the rocks of the western US can be extracted at a cheaper price. This means that the US can produce more oil itself and does not have to import oil from foreign markets.

(P4) The decrease in oil prices is expected to help the world’s economy. Especially in Europe, the downward movement of oil price is expected to be good for the economy. China and Japan should also profit from falling oil prices as they must import almost all of their oil. In most cases, low oil prices mean lower inflation and people spending more money on goods. Cheap oil prices may also influence the travel market as airline fuel costs should drop.

(P5) Some oil exporting countries are the big losers of this downward slide in oil prices. Most of them for example, Venezuela, need higher oil prices to pay for government programs and secure the economy. Russia also needs income from oil and gas. The two natural resources bring the country 70% of its income.  In addition to the falling value of the ruble, the Russian currency, the country also misses over 2 billion dollars of income per year.

(P6) On the other side, falling energy prices will not affect Middle Eastern countries that much. The oil-producing states of the Gulf region have enough money to withstand lower oil prices for some time.

WORDS: 346

SOURCE: http://www.english-online.at/news-articles/business-economy/falling-oil-prices-winners-losers.htm

VOCABULARY: steadily, barrel, stabilize, OPEC, fracking, extracted, downward, inflation, affect, withstand

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 has the decreasing oil prices affected your country?
  3. Is inflation high or low in your country? Why do you think so?
  4. Do you think the world’s oil supply will run out sometime? Why or why not?
  5. What are the gas prices in your city? Are they higher or lower than last year?

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

  • Down to (P1)
  • For the fall of oil prices (P2)
  • For the cut in oil prices (P3)
  • Travel market (P4)
  • Downward slide (P5)

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Image source: by Joshua Doubek https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frac_job_in_process.JPG

As You Pick a Netflix Flick, Netflix Watches You

[Entertainment ★★★]

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(P1) Netflix wants you to watch more Netflix. To that end, the company has been testing how the cover art that accompanies a movie or TV show influences a viewer’s decision to ultimately watch it, the Daily Dot reports. Netflix figures it has about 90 seconds to capture your attention before you lose interest in watching a movie, writes the company’s Nick Nelson in a blog post and the best way of doing that is through images (which, a previous study found, is where watchers put 82% of their focus). “Imagine having to tell your friend about the last movie you watched through a single drawing on the back of a playing card,” writes Nelson.

(P2) Users spend only about 1.8 seconds assessing a title presented to them, and Netflix has gleaned some insights into what works. (Read a technical post on the undertaking here.) Highlights:

  • Close-ups of expressive faces that “convey a wealth of information … regarding the tone or feel of the content” outperform images depicting “stoic or benign expressions.”
  • The effectiveness of an image decreases when it contains more than three people. Writes Nelson: “While ensemble casts are fantastic for a huge billboard on the side of a highway, they are too complex at small sizes.”
  • Cover art that depicts villains performs “surprisingly well in both kids and action genres in particular.”
  • Due to what Netflix calls “regional nuances,” the performance of artwork varies by country; for example, the top Sense 8 image was different in the UK, US, Brazil, and Germany. From the Verge: “There’s definitely some sneaky demographic targeting going on” that is driven “at least partially by racial identity.”

WORDS: 273

SOURCE: http://www.newser.com/story/224601/as-you-pick-a-netflix-flick-netflix-watches-you.html

VOCABULARY: accompanies, gleaned, insights, undertaking, convey, stoic, benign, ensemble, depicts, villains, nuances, demographic

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 subscribe to Netflix or another online streaming service (e.g. HULU or Amazon Video)? Why or why not?
  3. Does the cover art of a movie influence whether you watch it or not? Why?
  4. Why do people like to stream movies and music online?
  5. Which genres of movies do you like? Why?

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

  • Cover art (P1)
  • To that end (P1)
  • Close-ups (P2)

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Image source: by AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File http://www.newser.com/story/224601/as-you-pick-a-netflix-flick-netflix-watches-you.html

‘The Punisher’ Wins Philippine Election

[People ★★★]

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(P1) Rodrigo Duterte, the bombastic mayor of a major southern city, was heralded Tuesday as president-elect of the Philippines after an incendiary and populist campaign that projected him alternatively as an emancipator and a looming dictator, the AP reports. The 71-year-old, whose nicknames include “The Punisher” and “Asia’s Trump,” said he accepted the win with “great humility” after polls showed him with an overwhelming lead over his rivals, reports the BBC, which notes that while Duterte has promised a harsh crackdown on crime and a sweeping overhaul of the political system, it’s not clear what he plans to do to deliver on his promises—which include killing “100,000 criminals” and pardoning himself.

(P2) “Forget the laws on human rights. If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor,” Duterte said during his final campaign rally on Saturday. “You drug pushers, hold-up men, and do-nothings; you better go out. Because I’d kill you,” he said. “I’ll dump all of you into Manila Bay, and fatten all the fish there.” On foreign policy, he vowed that if South China Sea talks failed, he would sail to an artificial island newly created by China and plant the Philippine flag there. China, he said, could shoot him and turn him into a national hero. In the election for vice president, who’s separately elected in the Philippines, the son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is trailing by a hair to a political neophyte, Rep. Leni Robredo, who is backed by outgoing President Benigno Aquino III.

WORDS: 256

SOURCE: http://www.newser.com/story/224866/asias-trump-wins-philippine-election.html

VOCABULARY: bombastic, heralded, incendiary, populist, emancipator, looming, overhaul, pardoning, vowed, neophyte

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 to people and the news compare him to Donald Trump?
  3. In your opinion, do you think he will make a good president?
  4. What can countries do to fight against illegal drug dealers?
  5. What character traits should a good president have?

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

  • The Punisher (Article Title)
  • President-elect (P1)
  • Drug-pushers (P2)
  • Hold-up men (P2)
  • Do-nothings (P2)
  • Trailing by a hair (P2)

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Image source: by Kiwi Bulaclac, Davao City Mayor’s Office via AP http://www.newser.com/story/224866/asias-trump-wins-philippine-election.html

Samsung Starts Music Streaming Service MILK

[Technology ★★]

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(P1) Samsung, the world’s leading producer of smartphones, has started a music streaming service called Milk Music. At present, the service is only available for Samsung Galaxy smartphones in the USA. The service offers over 200 radio stations and a total of 13 million songs. The company does not want to bother their users with ads in the near future. In addition, users do not have to log in to use the service.

(P2) Although there are many other streaming services that can be used on any smartphone Samsung states that restricting Milk Music to its own devices will attract users who want a better service with more quality. Recently Apple launched iTunes Radio with a variety of over 300 different music tastes.

(P3) Milk can also download music tracks for offline use, in case you do not have any connection. You can also customize the service so that it will offer the music or artists you want to listen to. At the moment, Samsung does not let you buy the music, but this may be added in the future.

WORDS: 178

SOURCE: http://www.english-online.at/news-articles/living/chinas-skyscrapers-become-worlds-tallest.htm

VOCABULARY: streaming, bother, states, restricting, launched, variety, customize

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 Milk Music was available to you, would you use it? Why or why not?
  3. Which types of music do you like? Why?
  4. Can music help people de-stress? Why or why not?
  5. Which types of music are popular in your country?

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

  • At present (P1)
  • Music tastes (P2)
  • Music tracks (P3)

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Image source: by “unknown” https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/43/24/dd/4324ddd6d7a740eba49bade4d2570359.jpg

Russian weapons maker now a fashion brand

[Business ★★]

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(P1) The Russian gun maker Kalashnikov will move into fashion. Kalashnikov is one of Russia’s most famous companies. It makes the AK-47 rifle. The company said it has to make different things because Western countries stopped buying Russian weapons. This was because of the conflict in Ukraine. Before the conflict, Kalashnikov sold a lot of weapons to Europe and the USA. Kalashnikov’s fashion label will make ‘military stylecasual clothing and accessories. The company also plans to open 60 clothes stores across Russia by the end of this year.

(P2) Kalashnikov is not the first Russian arms company to sell clothes. A tank maker opened a shop in 2014 selling T-shirts, jackets, shoes and bags. Most of its products have images of its tanks on them. The Kalashnikov CEO said his company would still make most of its money from making guns. He said it would develop new products. He also wants to double the sales of guns by 2017. He added that the company would start making at least 10 new products. A marketing manager said Kalashnikov’s fashions could sell well because people want to support Russia.

WORDS: 186

SOURCE: http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/1605/160509-kalashnikov-2.html

VOCABULARY: conflict, label, military style, casual, accessories, arms, tank, marketing

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 buy clothes from Kalashnikov? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think it’s important for companies to offer different products? Why or why not?
  4. Are people allowed to own guns in your country? Why or why not?
  5. Tell me some of the famous companies in your country?

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

  • Will move into fashion (P1)
  • Across Russia (P1)
  • Double the sales (P2)

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Image source: by © Vladimir Vyatkin / Sputnik https://www.rt.com/news/342198-kalashnikov-military-style-clothing/