Flight Attendants Train to Watch for Human Trafficking – VOA Learning English (Feb 17, 2017)

Flight attendant Sheila Fedrick says she knew something was wrong when she saw a teenage girl with greasy hair sitting on an airplane next to an older man.

The girl had bruises, possible evidence that she had been hurt. The man, however, appeared very well-dressed.

When Fedrick tried to talk to them, the man became defensive. So the flight attendant left a note for the girl in a bathroom. The girl later wrote back a message that said “I need help.”

Fedrick was able to inform the pilot of the Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to San Francisco. The pilot spoke to police officials on the ground. By the time the plane landed, officers were waiting for the girl and the man at the airport. She later learned the girl was a victim of human trafficking.

Keeping the skies safe

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation says human trafficking is thought to be the third largest criminal activity in the world. Trafficking involves the illegal transport of people from one country or area to another. This is usually done to force victims into forced labor or the sex trade.

Human traffickers have often used airplanes as a way to quietly transport their victims. Yet one group, Airline Ambassadors International, or AAI, is training airline and airport workers to recognize signs of human trafficking. The goal is to give more workers the same kind of skills and sensitivity Fedrick has.

AAI was the idea of Nancy Rivard, a former flight attendant. She founded the group as a way for flight attendants to help vulnerable children directly.

Rivard said AAI developed the first industry-specific training on human trafficking and trafficking awareness. She said that training just one person can have a big effect.

“Every flight attendant sees 500 people a week minimally… that’s 2,000 (people) a month and 24,000 (people) a year. So training 100 front line employees enables them to scan 2.4 million passengers.”

Airline support

Rivard said it has not always been easy to persuade airline companies to collaborate with her group.

“All airlines are required to train both pilots and flight attendants annually. And including us in the security section of training would seem simple enough to do. But the airlines were not that receptive, originally.”

Rivard told VOA that AAI can spend about $3,000 to set up one training program — or $5,000, if it’s international. The group contacts airport directors for a place to hold the classes, but AAI usually has to raise the money for the training itself.

Red flags

Rivard says the training program is divided into three parts. The first part is a description of human trafficking. Then a trainer, who usually is a survivor of trafficking, discusses the effects of trafficking on victims. The final part of the program discusses how to recognize and report human trafficking in an airplane or airport setting.

There are many signs to look for.

“We teach our crews … to be aware of victims and be aware of who is traveling and who they are traveling with… Are they with or under the control of a companion… and to look for different indicators like they are not in control of their travel documents. They are frightened, ashamed, or nervous. In many cases, two or three cases I know of where the victim was not even allowed to use the bathroom on their own. They may be unsure of their destination. They may have bruises… If they have scripted or inconsistent stories … Many of them appear drugged and they probably are.”

Rivard also said sometimes victims are tattooed — with a bar code or name like “daddy” printed on their skin.

Rivard says it is important not to try and rescue the victim when you first recognize the problem. This can endanger yourself and the victim. The most important action is to report what you see to police, with as many details as you can.

Sridhar Chillara is a volunteer with AAI. He used his trafficking awareness training while on a flight from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to Newark, New Jersey. He noticed two children that were being mistreated by two older people. He also saw that as they moved through the airport, they were passed to other individuals, both on and off the plane.

Chillara informed the flight attendants, who contacted the airport in Newark. He was later told that his report led U.S. officials to uncover a child pornography ring in Boston. Eighty-six children were saved.

How to report

Rivard says that if you see a situation suspected of human trafficking, there are several ways to report it.

In the United States, you can call 911, the number for emergency calls, or the Department of Homeland Security TIP hotline (866-347-2423 toll free in U.S. and Canada, or 802-872-6199 if outside the U.S.). This number is operational 24 hours a day. You can also call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

AAI has developed a free computer app that lets users not only report what they saw, but they can upload photographs, audio, video, and GPS location.

I’m Phil Dierking.

Phil Dierking reported on this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

What are other ways people can stop human trafficking? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

bruise – n. a dark and painful area on your skin that is caused by an injury

dress v. to put clothes on yourself

collaborate v. to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something

indicator n. a sign that shows the condition or existence of something

tattoo n. a picture, word, etc., that is drawn on a person’s skin by using a needle and ink

pornography n. movies, pictures, magazines, etc., that show or describe naked people

vulnerable adj. easily hurt or harmed physically, mentally, or emotionally

app – n. a computer program that performs a special function

GPS location – n. The technology can pinpoint longitude, latitude, ground speed, and course direction of the target somewhere in the world

awareness n. knowledge and awareness of your own personality, character, or surroundings

This was originally published on www.learningenglish.voanews.com and reproduced here with permission.

Courtesy: Voice of America

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Arrests, Dismissals Continue under Presidential Powers in Turkey – VOA Learning English (Feb 17, 2017)

This week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed into law constitutional changes designed to give him strong, wide powers.

The reforms are being hotly debated. Supporters say they will strengthen democracy. Opponents say the reforms could lead to dictatorship.

Turks are to vote on the amendments April 16. However, some critics say the government is already taking action against opponents of the laws.

Meral Aksener, a leading politician, recently spoke at a demonstration against the constitutional reforms. The meeting was held in darkness after electric power to the site was cut. Aksener told the crowd she believed the power outage was done on purpose.

She shouted out, “President, what are you afraid of, me as a woman opposing you and your powerful state?”

She later spoke to reporters.

“We look for democracy in darkness,” she said, “and hopefully on April 16 we will find democracy coming out of the ballots.”

Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, a Nobel Prize for Literature winner, said he gave an interview to a newspaper. But he said it refused to publish his comments after he told the paper he would vote against the reforms.

Additionally, a leading news reporter said he was dismissed from his job after tweeting about his opposition to the laws. And a top constitutional law expert says he was dismissed from his university position because he opposes the reforms.

Ibrahim Kaboglu of Mamara University in Istanbul, Turkey says some of his colleagues lost their jobs as well.

Purges after failed coup attempt

Turkey has been under emergency rule since a failed attempt to overthrow the government last July. The rule permits the president and his government to dismiss any state employee. Police also have wide powers to arrest people without charging them.

President Erdogan says only traitors and terrorists are against the reforms.

“Who says no to these reforms? The PKK terrorist says no. Who says no? The coup plotters say no. Who says no? Those who want to divide this country say no. Only those against the flag say no,” Erdogan said.

Police are continuing to carry out raids under emergency rule powers. They have arrested thousands of members of Turkey’s second largest opposition party, the Pro-Kurdish HDP. Among those detained is HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas.

Soli Ozel is an international relations expert from Kadir Has University in Istanbul. He questions if the vote April 16 will be fair.

“I think it will be very uncomfortable for the naysayers to be able to push their line of thinking, because the last two elections we’ve held have not really been either as fair or free as we’ve come to expect.”

I’m John Russell.

Dorian Jones wrote this story for VOA News. Caty Weaver adapted this story for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

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Words in This Story

interview – n. a meeting at which people talk to each other in order to ask questions and get information

colleague – n. a person who works with you

coup – n. a sudden attempt by a small group of people to take over the government usually through violence

uncomfortable – adj. causing a feeling of physical discomfort

naysayers – n. a person who says something will not work or is not possible

This was originally published on www.learningenglish.voanews.com and reproduced here with permission.

Courtesy: Voice of America

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Ten ways to learn new words as a language learner – Voice Magazine | British Council (Feb 16, 2017)

Ten ways to learn new words as a language learner – Voice Magazine | British Council (Feb 16, 2017)

As a language learner, you work hard to expand your vocabulary. You plough through new words every day, make long lists of words and practise with flashcards. However, when it comes to speaking, the new words seem to fall out of your head. For further reading, visit Voice Magazine, British Council.

This preview is provided here with permission.

Blog post written by: Svetlana Kandybovich

Courtesy: Voice Magazine, British Council

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Disagreements in Everyday Conversation – VOA Learning English (Feb 16, 2017)

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everyday grammar

For VOA Learning English, this is Everyday Grammar.

Imagine that you are walking down the street in an American city.

You might hear short conversations as you pass people. One such short conversation might sound like this:

A: Should we try that restaurant? I hear the food is cheap!

B: Their food is supposed to be bad, though.* There’s a reason the food is cheap!

A: Yeah but I need to save money for my Mom’s Christmas gift!

The point of this conversation is not to teach you that America has a lot of bad restaurants. In fact, America does have some very good restaurants!

The point of this conversation is to show you how some Americans disagree with each other in everyday conversation. These friendly disagreements, for example, might be between friends who are trying to decide what they want to do.

Americans often use the words, though and but, to show contrast or disagreement. They may use these words in specific ways to be more or less forceful.

In today’s report, we will explore how the words though and but are used in everyday conversation.

Though

In many grammar books, you will see that though introduces a clause that shows an unexpected result.

For example, you might read a sentence such as this: “Though it was raining, we went for a walk.”

Though is not commonly used this way in everyday conversation.

Susan Conrad and Douglas Biber are English grammar experts. They say that in conversation, though is commonly used as an adverb. The adverb can show a transition between sentences. In other words, it links ideas between sentences. When though is used as a transition, it shows disagreement or contrast.

It often appears at the end of a sentence.

3 Common Uses of Though in Conversation

Though has three common uses in conversation, say Conrad and Biber.

#1 Showing contrast with a previous statement

First, a speaker can use though to express contrast with their own statement.

So, for example, a speaker talking about a new pair of jeans might say the following:

“These jeans are a little loose. I like the color, though.”

#2 Showing contrast with another speaker’s statement

The second common use of though is to show a contrast with another speaker’s point. It does not necessarily mean that one speaker disagrees with the other, it just means that one speaker is adding a contrasting point to the statement of the other speaker.

Here is an example:

“A: These jeans are really nice.”

B: Yeah, they’re expensive, though.”

#3 Showing disagreement with another speaker

The third common use of though is to show disagreement with another speaker’s previous statement.

Consider this example:

“A: These jeans are really nice!”

“B: They’re poorly made, though.”

Despite their disagreement, these two speakers are showing a polite way to disagree.

Why? Because it is a less direct way of disagreeing. Often, Americans prefer less direct ways of speaking – particularly when disagreeing.

A more direct and forceful way of disagreeing would be in the following example:

“A: These jeans are really nice!

B: No, they are not.”

Some Americans would consider this to be an impolite way to disagree – especially if the other person was not well known to them!

This is because the language is much more direct and negative.

What about but in conversation?

The word but also shows contrast or disagreement. In everyday conversation, but is a conjunction that often appears at the beginning of a sentence.

Although though and but might seem alike, you will learn that there are important differences between how they are used in conversation.

Consider this example:

“A: I really like those jeans!

B: But you told me last week that you don’t like jeans!”

The second speaker is directly disagreeing with the first person’s statement.

Why did the speaker choose to start the sentence with but?

The second speaker also could have said, “You told me last week that you don’t like jeans, though!”

The speaker, who disagrees by using the word but, probably has strong feelings about the jeans.

Starting the sentence with a word – such as but ­- that shows disagreement is a stronger and more forceful way to speak.

Other ways to use ‘but’

One way that Americans reduce the force of the word but is to put words in front of it. The most common way to do this is to use the word yeah.

Here is an example of what this sounds like:

A: I really like those jeans!

B: Yeah but you told me last week that you don’t like jeans!

This way of disagreeing, even though it is informal, sounds softer and less forceful. Americans may choose to say yeah first because it sets a pleasant tone to the sentence. By beginning the sentence with the agreeable word, yeah, speakers can show that the strength of their disagreement is not very strong.

Using yeah but is less polite than using though, say Conrad and Biber. In addition, it is less forceful than using but alone.

What can you do?

Think back to the conversation at the beginning of this story:

A: Should we try that restaurant? I hear the food is cheap!

B: Their food is supposed to be bad, though. There’s a reason the food is cheap!

A: Yeah but I need to save money for my Mom’s Christmas gift!

You will notice that the two speakers show contrast or disagreement with the word though. One speaker uses yeah but when disagreeing with the other.

Learning these ways to disagree is not easy. It can take a long time to learn how grammar, word choice, and culture work together.

However, the next time you are watching an American film or TV show, try to focus on how speakers disagree with each other. You might notice that they disagree, or show contrast, in different ways.

Think about the situation to understand how and why the speakers might be disagreeing with each other.

In future Everyday Grammar stories, we will explore these issues in more detail.

I’m Anne Ball. And I’m John Russell.

John Russell wrote this story for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

*There is a debate about comma placement and the word “though.” We chose to use the comma for the sake of consistency. A discussion about comma placement is beyond the scope of this story. _____________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

conversation – n. an informal talk involving two people or a small group of people

contrast – n. something that is different from another thing

clause – n. grammar : a part of a sentence that has its own subject and verb

adverb – n. a word that describes a verb, an adjective, another adverb, or a sentence and that is often used to show time, manner, place, or degree

transition – n. grammar a word or phrase that connects ideas

tone – n. a quality, feeling, or attitude expressed by the words that someone uses in speaking or writing

This article was originally published on the www.learningenglish.voanews.com  and reproduced here with permission.

Courtesy: Voice of America

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Dubai to Launch Self-Flying Air Taxi by July – VOA Learning English (Feb 16, 2017)

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Dubai is planning to launch an air taxi service in 2017. It will use self-flying drones built by China’s EHang Inc. The battery-powered egg-shaped EHang 184 aircraft is designed to transport one passenger on short to medium range trips. (EHang Inc.)

Dubai officials say they plan to use Chinese-made drones to launch a self-flying air taxi as soon as July.

The Chinese-made EHang 184 drone has four propeller wings. It is designed to carry one passenger – weighing up to 100 kilograms – and a small piece of luggage.

The head of Dubai’s Roads and Transportation Authority says the autonomous taxi has already been tested in the city-state. He said regular service is expected to begin by July.

The egg-shaped aircraft can reach a top speed of 160 kilometers per hour. It can operate for up to 30 minutes on a single battery charge, with a flying range of 50 kilometers.

A video demonstration of the air taxi shows the whole trip being automated. Drones can be requested through an app to arrive at an approved pickup location. The passenger then climbs in and enters the desired destination into a device built into the seat.

The auto-piloted aircraft then powers up, takes off and heads to the drop-off location.

Officials from EHang say all movements and functions of the drone will be monitored by people in a “Command and Control Center” on the ground. The person inside the aircraft will also be able to communicate with the command center if needed.

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Dubai is planning to launch an air taxi service in 2017. It will use self-flying drones built by China’s EHang Inc. The interface shown allows the passenger to enter the desired destination for short to medium range trips. (EHang Inc.)

EHang said it has done major testing on its 184 vehicle in China over the past few years. It has also developed and sells several consumer drone models controlled by remote devices.

Last year, EHang signed an agreement with officials in the western state of Nevada to conduct test flights of the EHang 184. Nevada operates a testing center in cooperation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA. The goal is to get FAA approval for the EHang 184 to fly in the United States.

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Dubai is planning to launch an air taxi service in 2017. It will use self-flying drones built by China’s EHang Inc. The battery-powered egg-shaped EHang 184 aircraft is designed to transport one passenger on short to medium range trips. (EHang Inc.)

The company has said the drones could have other uses besides carrying passengers in the air in busy cities. They could also help in emergency rescue operations or deliver human organs.

Dubai is the commercial capital of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf. Officials there have long been pushing to adopt high-tech transportation alternatives. The ruler of the city-state has said that by 2030, at least 25 percent of all passenger trips are to be completed with driverless vehicles.

Dubai is already home to the world’s longest driverless rail line. It also signed a deal with American businessman Elon Musk to look into building his proposed super-fast Hyperloop system.

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Dubai is planning to launch an air taxi service in 2017. It will use self-flying drones built by China’s EHang Inc. The battery-powered egg-shaped EHang 184 aircraft is designed to transport one passenger on short to medium range trips. (EHang Inc.)

Officials in Dubai have not outlined special regulations for the air taxi system. Currently, people who operate drones are required to register the aircraft. Last year, several drone incidents around Dubai International Airport, causing officials to briefly ground flights at the facility – one of the world’s busiest.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the Associated Press and other sources. Hai Do was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Would you be willing to try out this flying drone for a ride? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

dronen. a small flying machine flown remotely by a pilot

propellern. device with blades that turn quickly to make an aircraft move

luggagen. bags people carry when they travel

autonomousadj. existing separately from other things

destinationn. the place where is person is going to

consumern. someone who buys or uses goods and services

This article was originally published on the www.learningenglish.voanews.com  and reproduced here with permission.

Courtesy: Voice of America

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Killing in Malaysia Seen as Evidence of North Korea’s Illegal Acts – VOA Learning English (Feb 16, 2017)

The apparent assassination of the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has increased support for critics of the country’s government.

Those critics accuse North Korea of being a state that operates outside the law. They say the government kills its enemies and depends on criminal activity for survival.

Malaysian officials continue to investigate the death of Kim Jong Nam, who was attacked at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Monday. He died a short time later.

Kim Jong Nam and Kim Jong Un are sons of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Investigation into Kim Jong Nam’s death continues

On Thursday, Malaysian police said they arrested a woman suspected of involvement in the killing. She is said to have an Indonesian passport.

Another woman was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of involvement in the case. She reportedly had Vietnamese travel papers.

Police also detained a man who provided information that led to the arrest of one of the women.

South Korean officials have said two North Korean female agents poisoned Kim Jong Nam at the airport. They say the women sprayed liquid droplets at him and then held a cloth over his face.

That information is different from early reports of how Kim Jong Nam may have been poisoned.

Airport cameras captured images of the suspects. One woman wore a shirt with the letters “LOL” on the front.

There are reports that Malaysian officials have refused efforts by North Korean officials to stop a medical exam of the body.

North Korea involved in illicit activities

North Korean critics have described the government as a highly corrupt, family-led criminal operation. They say North Korea is active in smuggling, secretly transporting goods and other materials in and out of the country.

Critics also say the government is involved in drug trafficking and arms dealing, including the exchange of nuclear materials and missile parts. They say all the money earned goes to North Korea’s wealthy leadership.

In 2012, United Nations diplomats reported on the discovery of North Korean-made graphite cylinders on a Chinese ship traveling to Syria. They said the tubes could be used to make missiles.

In 2005, an official from Ireland was arrested for having high-quality counterfeit copies of money from the United States. The counterfeit $100 bills reportedly were made in North Korea.

In 2016, a British citizen was sentenced to 15 years in prison for plotting to import 100 kilograms of North Korean methamphetamine drugs into the U.S.

Robert Kelly teaches at Pusan National University in South Korea. He says he would not be surprised if the North Korean leadership was to blame for the killing of Kim Jong Nam.

“You know, the North Koreans, they just don’t follow the rules, both internally and externally. They treat their own people terribly and overseas they basically have engaged in this massive illicit economy and it’s not surprising that that would also include illicit political behaviors like assassinations.”

China’s cooperation needed

Kim Jong Nam was once considered a possible replacement for Kim Jong Il as North Korea’s head of state. But the son was caught trying to enter Japan with a false passport in 2001, reportedly to visit Tokyo Disneyland. After that, Kim Jong Nam spent most of his time in Macau.

In 2012, he wrote a note to a Japanese reporter. It said, “The Kim Jong-un regime will not last long. Without reforms.”

The South Korean National Intelligence Service said recently that the North Korean leader had given a “standing order” for his half-brother’s killing when he took power.

Robert Kelly says stopping unlawful activity by North Korea’s leadership could put pressure on the government to change. But, he says, that would require cooperation from China, North Korea’s main ally. He thinks China is unwilling to do anything that would weaken the Kim family’s control and that would create instability within its neighbor.

As of Thursday, there was no news of Kim Jong Nam’s death in North Korean media.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un marked the birthday of his father Kim Jong Il, which is a national holiday in the country.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Brian Padden and Youmi Kim reported this story for VOANews.com Mario Ritter adapted their report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

assassination – n. the killing of a person for political reasons

graphite – n. a light-weight carbon material

externally – adv. outside of something, not inside

illicit – adj. something not allowed or illegal

instability – n. the state of being easily changed or disordered

This was originally published on www.learningenglish.voanews.com and reproduced here with permission.

Courtesy: Voice of America

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ISRO sets the bar high – The Hindu (Feb 16, 2017)

ISRO sets the bar high – The Hindu (Feb 16, 2017)

The Indian Space Research Organisation boosted its reputation further when it successfully launched a record 104 satellites in one mission from Sriharikota on Wednesday by relying on its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket. For further reading, visit “The Hindu”.

This preview is provided here with permission.

Courtesy: The Hindu

Word List-1:

  1. set the bar (phrase) – fix/make the standards that others to meet.
  2. boost (verb) – improve, raise, increase/augment.
  3. rely on (phrasal verb) – depend (on), count (on), bank (on).
  4. workhorse (noun) – a machine which works dependably for a long period of time.
  5. Cartosat-2 (noun) – it is an Earth observation satellite in a sun-synchronous orbit and the second of the Cartosat series of satellites and it was built, launched and maintained by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Courtesy: Wikipedia).
  6. cement (verb) – settle/establish firmly.
  7. lucrative (adjective) – profitable; productive; successful.
  8. orbital (adjective) – relating to an orbit ( orbit (noun) – course, path, trajectory).
  9. altitude (noun) – height, elevation, distance above the ground/sea.
  10. accomplish (verb) – fulfil, achieve, complete successfully.
  11. successive (adjective) – consecutive, in succession, following.
  12. besides (preposition) – apart from, other than; in addition to.
  13. technology demonstrator (noun) – it is a prototype, rough example or an otherwise incomplete version of a conceivable product or future system (Courtesy: Wikipedia).
  14. objective (noun) – aim, intention, target/goal.
  15. payload (noun) – it can be a satellite, space probe, or spacecraft carrying instruments and others which are (not fuels) used for a rocket’s operation. (Courtesy: Wikipedia)
  16. carry out (phrasal verb) – perform, implement, execute.

16FEB17_WL1Note:

  1. Click each one of the words above for their definition, more synonyms, pronunciation, example sentences, phrases, derivatives, origin and etc from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/.
  2. Definitions (elementary level) & Synonyms provided for the words above are my personal work and not that of Oxford University Press. Tentative definitions/meanings are provided for study purpose only and they may vary in different context. Use it with the corresponding article published on the source (website) via the link provided. 
  3. This word list is for personal use only. Reproduction in any format and/or Commercial use of it is/are strictly prohibited.
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Me, myself and I: How to use pronouns (1) – Cambridge Dictionary About words blog (Feb 15, 2017)

Me, myself and I: How to use pronouns (1) – Cambridge Dictionary About words blog (Feb 15, 2017)

Pronouns are words we use instead of nouns in order to avoid repeating the nouns. Compare the following:

Laura picked up the book. Laura gave the book to Zalie. 

Laura picked up the book. She gave it to Zalie. 

For further reading, visit About words, a blog from Cambridge Dictionary.

This preview is provided here with permission.

Blog post written by: Liz Walter

Courtesy: Cambridge University Press

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Expanded Panama Canal Still Facing Problems – VOA Learning English (Feb 15, 2017)

Over seven months have passed since Panamanian officials launched an expansion of the world famous Panama Canal.

Officials agreed to the expansion so that many of the world’s largest cargo ships could easily pass through the canal. Yet the Associated Press reports the $5.25-billion project has problems. It says ships continue to rub against the canal’s walls and wear out defenses designed to protect both shipping and the waterway.

The Panama Canal has been in operation for more than a century. The United States completed the canal in 1914. The waterway remained under U.S. control until the end of 1999, when it was given to Panama.

A dangerous system

The canal links two oceans – the Atlantic and the Pacific — through a system of locks. The locks are like steps. They raise and lower ships from one part of the waterway to another on their trip from ocean to ocean.

With the old locks, which are still in use, large ships would be tied to powerful locomotives on both sides. These engines help to keep the ships in the center of the canal. In the new locks, the ships are tied to tugboats. One tugboat is tied to the front of the ship, with the other tied to the back. These boats then guide the ships through the canal.

At first, pilots of the cargo ships and tugboat operators would sometimes try to rub the boats against the canal walls as a way to keep the ships straight. But this caused damage to rubber padding lining the walls.

In one case, a ship called “Ever Living” tried to pass through the canal when one of the massive steel lock doors failed to open all the way.

The ship’s pilots and tugboat captains decided to continue using the tugboats to guide the ship through the narrowed passageway. But to avoid the stuck door, the ship came dangerously close to the side of the lock walls.

“These are things that shouldn’t happen,” tugboat captain Mauricio Perez said. “Sometimes the only thing we can do is pray.”

Not enough training

Even before the expanded canal opened in June 2016, tugboat operators had expressed concern about the new system. Many asked for more training.

“The fears and dangers remain, although the boats are going through,” Perez said.

The Panama Canal Authority reports that, between June and January 2017, there were only 15 incidents that resulted in damage to locks or ships. That represents about 2 percent of the 700 times ships have sailed through the expanded canal. Officials say the first seven months have been a learning process, but they remain hopeful.

Manuel Benitez, deputy administrator of the canal, said it has been “pretty positive the way our people have been able to navigate that (learning) curve.” Benitez felt that the problems that have been reported were not enough to affect the operation of the locks.

Still, many ships are carrying containers with goods, and any delay because of an accident can cost them money.

In perhaps the most serious incident, a Chinese ship hit a lock wall a few weeks after the expanded canal opened, and made a hole in the side of the ship. This forced a delay in the trip.

The Canal Authority did not say how much money is being spent on repairing the new rubber bumpers.

Captains who navigate the canal say the defenses were expected to last at least a few years before they wear out. Pilots have argued they should be replaced with a system of floating bumpers like those used in some European locks.

Officials say they plan to continue operating with the current system of defenses, but changes could happen in the future.

“Thanks to the expertise of our practices, these incidents are happening less and less,” Benitez said.

A delicate operation

There have been important improvements to operations at the Panama Canal, according to the Associated Press. Tugboat pilots say average travel time through the canal has dropped to two-and-a-half to three hours. It was four hours when the locks first opened. With experience, captains have become more at ease taking ships straight down the center of the locks, especially when weather conditions are good.

But it’s still a delicate operation.

As the 334-meter-long Ever Living moved into the 426-meter lock chamber, workers tied the ship against the walls to keep it in place while it waited to move to the next lock. The tight space left little room for the tugboats, both in front of and behind the ship.

Tugboat captains still fear their boats could be crushed against the walls if things get out of control during bad weather.

Captains also regret that no wall was built at the entry to the Pacific Ocean side. They say such a wall would help to keep the ships straight and protect them from fast water currents. This is where the Chinese ship had its accident.

I’m Phil Dierking.

The Associate Press reported on this story. Phil Dierking adapted the report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Should canals still be used if they are not yet safe?? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

authority – n. people who have power to make decisions and enforce rules and laws

delicate – adj. easily broken or damaged

lock – n. an area in a canal or river that has gates at each end which are opened and closed to control the level of the water in different sections of the canal or river as boats move through it

locomotive – n. the vehicle that produces the power that pulls a train

tugboat – n. a small, powerful boat that is used for pulling and pushing ships especially into harbors or up rivers

cargo – n. something that is carried from one place to another by boat, airplane, etc.

positiveadj. good or useful

navigatev. to find the way to get to a place when you are traveling in a ship, airplane, car, etc.

padding – n. soft material used

This was originally published on www.learningenglish.voanews.com and reproduced here with permission.

Courtesy: Voice of America

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The conviction and after – The Hindu (Feb 15, 2017)

The conviction and after – The Hindu (Feb 15, 2017)

Corruption in high places is a malaise that is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Even in the rare cases they are arraigned before a court, top politicians often pay their way through legal battles, and spend little or no time in incarceration. For further reading, visit “The Hindu”.

This preview is provided here with permission.

Courtesy: The Hindu

Word List-1:

  1. conviction (noun) – declaration/pronouncement of guilt, sentence, judgement.
  2. malaise (noun) – illness, disease.
  3. arraign (verb) – indict, prosecute, put on trial.
  4. incarceration (noun) – imprisonment, confinement, custody.
  5. abate (verb) – lessen, decrease, diminish.
  6. wrath (noun) – anger, displeasure, discontentment.
  7. uphold (verb) – confirm, endorse, justify.
  8. in toto (latin word) (adverb) – as a whole.
  9. concur (verb) – agree, accord; be concurrent/coincide.
  10. vice (noun) – immorality, wrong, evil.
  11. insatiable (adjective) – unappeasable, uncontrollable; never satisfied.
  12. avarice (noun) – greed, covetousness, rapacity.
  13. self-aggrandisement (noun) – the act of projecting oneself as being powerful.
  14. unscrupulous (adjective) – unprincipled, unethical, immoral.
  15. mystify (verb) – bewilder, puzzle, perplex/confuse.
  16. ruling (noun) – judgement, adjudication, verdict.
  17. thrust (noun) – intention, meaning, significance.
  18. hold (verb) – (of a court) rule, decide.
  19. expeditiously (adverb) – quickly and efficiently.
  20. inordinate (adjective) – excessive, undue, unwarranted.
  21. stake a claim (phrase) – assert, declare, proclaim.
  22. hold off (phrasal verb) – delay, postpone, hold back.
  23. anticipate (verb) – expect, predict; pre-empt.
  24. rank and file (phrase) – ordinary members.
  25. notwithstanding (preposition) – in spite of, despite, regardless of.
  26. trump (verb) – outshine/outperform, surpass, beat.
  27. destined for (adjective) – intended for/heading.
  28. churn (noun) – disorder, confusion, mess up.

Note:

  1. Click each one of the words above for their definition, more synonyms, pronunciation, example sentences, phrases, derivatives, origin and etc from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/.
  2. Definitions (elementary level) & Synonyms provided for the words above are my personal work and not that of Oxford University Press. Tentative definitions/meanings are provided for study purpose only and they may vary in different context. Use it with the corresponding article published on the source (website) via the link provided. 
  3. This word list is for personal use only. Reproduction in any format and/or Commercial use of it is/are strictly prohibited.
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