Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Government in England to Make Forced Marriage A Crime

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. criminalize (v.) 
[krim-uh-nl-ahyz] – to make an act punishable by the law; to make something illegal
Example:  The city government announced it will criminalize smoking in public places.

2. jail time (n. phrase) [jeyl tahym] – the time spent in prison
Example: A criminal’s jail time depends on the seriousness of his crime.

3. abhorrence (n.) [ab-hawr-uhns, -hor-] – strong hatred or dislike of something
Example: The law against slavery resulted from the government’s abhorrence of human rights’ abuses.

4. spouse (n.) [spous, spouz] – a person’s partner in marriage
Example: One should be careful in choosing the right person to become his or her spouse.

5. discourage (v.) [dih-skur-ij, -skuhr-] – to  make someone not want to continue with an activity
Example:   The government discourages people from doing crimes by creating punishments.

Read the text below.

A new law in England and Wales will criminalize and punish parents who are guilty of forcing their children to marry. Those who commit this offense will be punished with jail time of about two years.

UK prime minister David Cameron strongly believes forced marriage is similar to slavery. Home Secretary Theresa May also expressed her abhorrence of forced marriage. She said making it illegal will show the government does not take this crime lightly.

She said a £500,000 fund will be dedicated to raise awareness in schools and other agencies. The government will also start an advertising campaign that will emphasize the right to choose a spouse.

The new law will also differentiate between forced marriage and arranged marriage. In arranged marriage, individuals still have the choice to continue or to refuse the union.

Critics of the forced marriage law say it might discourage victims from reporting their guilty relatives because victims would not want their family members to have criminal records.  However, Cameron has stated that careful protection and support would be given for victims in each case, and when possible, criminal charges would also be avoided.

The law is well-accepted by Freedom, a charity that is strongly against abuse and forced marriage. Freedom’s founder Aneeta Prem said human rights are violated by forced marriage and it can also result in other serious crimes such as kidnapping, rape and murder.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Why do you think some parents force their children into marriage?
·         How do you think parents should help their children when it comes to marriage? Should parents still help their children choose spouses? Why or why not?
Discussion B

·         Do you believe being “in love” is necessary for a good marriage? Why or why not? What other factors should two people consider before getting married?
·         Can you give some reasons why marriage is important?

Monday, July 30, 2012

China Launches Space and Deep Sea Missions

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. manned (adj.) 
[mand] – controlled by a person  or  by people
Example: The Soviet Union sent the first ever manned spacecraft to outer space.

2. craft (n.) [kraft, krahft] – a vehicle that carries people inside, used for traveling
Example: The man rode on a small craft, which carried him over the river.

3. look into (phrasal v.) [look in-too] – to check, study or collect information about something
Example: The scientists promised to look into the creation of a new kind of spacecraft.

4. no doubt (idiom) [noh dout] – for sure; definitely
ExampleNo doubt China is planning to be a world leader in the field of science.

5. spokesperson (n.) [spohks-pur-suhn] – someone who represents a group and is responsible for speaking in public
Example: A government spokesperson explained the new law to the media and public.

Read the text below.

In June, China launched two great projects in one day: the country’s first manned deep sea mission and first manned space mission. Both achievements have placed China on the same rank as the US and Russia.

The “Shenzhou-9” spacecraft carried three Chinese astronauts to a space lab called Tiangong 1. It was the first time that a manned Chinese craft had been sent to space.  The spacecraft’s mission was to manually land on the space lab without help of remote control.

Meanwhile, three Chinese “oceanauts” inside the submarine “Jiaolong,” dove 7,020 meters down into the Mariana Trench.  The dive, which took 11 hours, involved a three-hour exploration at the bottom of the sea, where the oceanauts placed markers and collected samples of water and sediments.

The success of the space mission is important to China’s plan of building a space station in 2020. A deep sea station to match the future space station will also be built to aid the country as it looks into deep sea mining and oil drilling for commercial purposes.

From a political view, the successful missions could help bring back the Chinese people’s faith in the government as the country undergoes a change in leadership later this year.

No doubt the successes have made many Chinese proud. However, some Chinese Internet users question whether these missions are the best ways to spend China’s money. They say the government should also focus on the people’s well-being.

According to a spokesperson for the space missions, the entire program would cost 40 billion yuan (US$6.7 billion). Experts say the missions are a symbol of China’s investment in technology and a warning to US and Western Europe that their top position in science is at risk.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         How do you think China’s success will affect other countries, including your own?
·         Do you think China should spend money on science missions or focus in helping people in the country?

Discussion B

·         What are the advantages of missions into unknown places like space and deep sea?
·         Do you believe that space and deep sea missions are necessary? Why or why not?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mayor Wants to Prohibit Large-sized Sodas in NYC

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. deli (n.) 
[del-ee] – shortened form of delicatessen, which is a shop that sells ready-to-eat food such as cooked meat and salad
Example: The deli is full of people buying cooked turkey for Thanksgiving celebration.

2. upsize (v.) [uhp-sahyz] – to make something larger
Example: The customer has his drink upsized because he was really thirsty.

3. beverage (n.) [bev-er-ij, bev-rij] – a liquid used for drinking
Example: People love drinking cold beverages when the weather is hot.

4. proposition (n.) [shoog-uh-ree] – a suggested plan of action
Example: The mayor’s proposition is to ban smoking in public places.

5. sugary (adj.) [shoog-uh-ree] – sweet or filled with sugar
Example: Consuming too much sugary drinks might cause diabetes and other health problems.

Read the text below.

New Yorkers will not be able to buy large-sized soft drinks if Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed law comes into effect next year.

According to the suggested rule, restaurants, delis and other food shops will be disallowed from selling sweetened drinks that are larger than one pint (500ml). In addition, customers cannot upsize their drinks. These conditions will only apply to beverages that contain more than 25 calories for every 8oz.

Bloomberg recommends the ban because obesity is becoming a state-wide problem. Based on a recent research, more than half of New York’s adult population is overweight or obese.

However, the New York City Beverage Association is not in favor of the proposition. Spokesperson Stefan Friedman says sodas are not the cause of obesity and the city will not be solving the problem by prohibiting sugary drinks.

Soda companies and soda drinkers who have normal weight are also campaigning on the importance of choice for buyers.

City officials, however, are defending the planned ban. They cited a 2006 study which suggests that sodas are the main cause of rising obesity rates. According to the New York City Department of Health’s website, drinking a 590ml bottle of soft drink each day is equivalent to eating 22.6 kg of sugar in a year.

The proposal will still have to undergo a final screening at the Board of Health of New York before it becomes a law. But Mayor Bloomberg has already received a number of criticisms. His health-conscious laws—which include banning cigarettes and requiring restaurants to put calorie counts on menus—have earned him the nickname “Nanny Bloomberg.”

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think the mayor's plan will be effective in solving the weight problem in his city? Why or why not?
·         Should people have the right to choose and to buy as much as what they want to eat or drink? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         Why do you think people face weight problems like obesity?
                  How can people maintain a healthy weight?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What Homes Will Look Like in 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
1. passing (adj.) [pas-ing, pah-sing] – happening for only a short period of time
Example:  Fancy houses may only be a passing trend and may not be popular in the future.

2. be here to stay (idiom) [bee heer too, tuh stey] –  to be permanent
Example: House features that are environment-friendly are here to stay.

3. green (adj.) [green] – describes something that saves energy and lessens harm to the environment
Example: The city’s pollution problems convinced many people to build green homes.

4. flow (n.) [floh] – the way in which something moves around a space
Example:  Large furniture in the living room can stop the flow of people.

5. watch out  (phrasal v.) [woch out] –  to pay close attention (to something)
Example: Home buyers are watching out for a price drop in luxury houses.

Read the text below.

In the near future, houses in the US are expected to get much smaller, as more people become conscious of both budget and the environment.

A study by the US National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) shows that builders believe new houses in 2015 for single families will have an average area of 2,150 square feet (199.7 square meters).

Houses built in 2007 measured up to 2,521 square feet (234.2 square meters). Currently, houses measure about 2,400 square feet (223 square meters). 

While the weak economy may be partly to blame for the decrease in home sizes, many say small homes are not just a passing trend. Builders will likely continue to make smaller homes even if the economy recovers.  

Smaller homes are here to stay because not only do they cost less, smaller homes also challenge builders to be more creative. Small space lets builders design greener homes that save on electricity and create better heat and air flow.

Additionally, most new homes will likely be designed for older people aged 55 and above who are predicted to buy most of the houses in the future. These people would likely have more money, but may not have children living with them anymore.

One feature to watch out for in future homes would be the “great room,” one large room that combines the living room, dining room and part of the kitchen, to cut down space. About 52% of builders surveyed in the NAHB study predicted that great rooms will become popular, while 30% of builders even said there  may not be living rooms in future homes anymore.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
Discussion A 

·         What do you think about the living spaces in your area? Do you wish they could be smaller or bigger? Please explain your answer.
·         Do you think that people should continue to build smaller and greener houses in the future? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What do you think about the designs of houses or buildings where you live? Do you think the designs can be better?
·         What is your idea of a perfect home? Describe your dream home.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Soup Kitchens Feed More Greeks Every Day

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. local (n.) 
[loh-kuhl] – a person from a particular locality or area
Example: The locals from the neighboring city helped in the government’s tree planting program.

2. facility (n.) [fuh-sil-i-tee] – a place that is built for a certain use
Example: The government provides facilities to get free meals for homeless people.

3. afford (v.) [uh-fawrd, uh-fohrd] – to be able to pay for something; to have the money for something
Example: Her family can afford to buy expensive cars.

4. hand out (phrasal verb) [hand out] – to distribute
Example: Members of the charity handed out gifts to the children.

5. solidarity (n.) [sol-i-dar-i-tee] – unity among people with same goal or interest
Example: People showed their solidarity by helping victims of the disaster.

Read the text below.
As economic recession continues in Greece, soup kitchens are serving free food not only to the homeless, but also to locals who are not able to provide food for themselves.

One of the facilities in Athens is run by George Apostolopolos and a team of volunteers. The soup kitchen is funded by the government, but Apostolopolos says there is no certainty if the funds will still be enough in the future.

More Athenians, especially older people, are coming to the soup kitchen every day. Christos, one of the kitchen soup users, says this is the most difficult situation he has ever seen in Greece. His life changed when his parents died, after which he experienced a car accident. He lost his job, and now he is depending on soup kitchens for meals.

Maria, who also frequently visits the soup kitchen, used to run a clothes shop, but lost her job due to the weak economy. She also lost her home because she could no longer afford the 450-euro rent.

The soup kitchens may be very helpful for now, but the lines of people who need food are getting longer. Fortunately, there are still those who are willing to help. With support from the government, farmers from the city of Crete recently handed out 27 tons of eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and other vegetables for free.

Nikos Saprovalakis, who handed out food at Central Athens park, said Greeks may be facing hard times, but they somehow survive by showing their solidarity with one another.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         How has the economic recession affected your country?
·         What are some of the things that citizens in your country do to help each other at times of national crisis?

Discussion B

·         Why do you think people volunteer to help others?
·         Have you ever joined a volunteer program before? If not, what volunteer program would you be interested in joining?


Thursday, July 26, 2012

US Survey Says Twitter’s Growth is Slowing Down

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. slack off (phrasal verb) 
[slak awf, of] – to become less in energy or activity
Example: The growth of sales of the company slacked off because of a new product from a competitor.

2. live (adj.) [lahyv] – actually happening at the same time of announcement or broadcast
Example: The reporters will go to the national event to deliver livenews updates to TV viewers.

3. diverse (adj.) [dih-vurs, dahy-, dahy-vurs] – made up of different kinds, qualities or characteristics
Example: The class is composed of students with diversenationalities.

4. sustain (v.) [suh-steyn– to keep up or maintain something; to make something continue
Example: The product must be advertised and updated often to sustain its popularity.

5. techie (n.) [tek-ee] – an informal term for a person who is interested in technological devices, such as computers
Example: He asked a techie to find out the problem with his laptop.

Article (10 minutes)
Read the text below.
According to a survey conducted by Pew Center for Internet and American Life, Twitter’s growth seems to be slacking off, because data show only 8% of Americans check their Twitter accounts each day.

This rate of Twitter use is higher than the 2% in November 2010 and 5% in August, but when compared to the use of other networking sites, the 8% rate is very low. Sixty six percent of the people interviewed in the survey said they use Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google Plus.

There seems to be some growth in terms of number of tweets per day, advertisements, and celebrities and brands using Twitter, but the proportion of people using it is relatively low. Twitter has only 140 million active users per month, while Facebook has 901 million active users.

Twitter has been useful in spreading live news updates in different areas of the world and promoting communication between diverse groups of people. But Twitter is still not as popular as other networking sites.

However, Twitter spokesperson Carolyn Penner says Twitter is actively growing. The number of users quickly increased from 100 million just last September to the current 140 million. Furthermore, a billion tweets are produced every three days.

In terms of the ages of Twitter users, the number of adults using the service doubled since May 2011 with mostly younger people sustaining the service’s growth.

Meanwhile, techies argue that Twitter and Facebook are not comparable as they serve different purposes—Twitter for news updates and Facebook for friend connections and activities.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Which would you prefer, posting short messages through Twitter or using Facebook to connect with friends? Please explain your answer.
·         What features would you like in a social networking site (e.g., music, games, photo uploads, friend connections, privacy, etc.)?

Discussion B

·         What makes social networking so popular?
·         Do you think social networking sites will still be important in the future? Why or why not?