New Words – Cambridge Dictionary About words blog (Feb 20, 2017)

New Words – Cambridge Dictionary About words blog (Feb 20, 2017)

  1. Calexit
  2. Bremoaner
  3. democracy sausage

To know the definition and other details of these new words , visit About words, a blog from Cambridge Dictionary.

Blog post written by: Cambridge Words

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Mediterranean Plants May Help Brain Diseases – VOA Learning English (Feb 20, 2017)

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

In the future, chemicals from plants found in and around the Mediterranean may be used to help treat people with brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

These two diseases are age-related and neurodegenerative. Neurodegenerative relates to the degeneration of nervous tissue, especially the brain.

People suffering from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have deposits of sticky plaque in their brains. Over time, this plaque reduces brain function. Eventually, it causes death.

Scientists say plaque can be reduced

But scientists say the plaque deposits can be reduced with chemicals from plants, including prickly pear and brown seaweed. Scientists say the chemicals — or, extracts — appear to replace the harmful, sticky plaque with deposits that are less harmful.

These scientists are researchers at the University of Malta and the National Center of Scientific Research at the University of Bordeaux.

They tested the chemical extracts of the plants on a substance called Brewer’s yeast. This yeast had plaque deposits similar to those seen in Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists say the health of the yeast improved greatly after exposure to the chemical extracts.

Researchers then tested the extracts in fruit flies that were genetically changed to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

They found that when the flies were given brown seaweed extract, their lifespans increased by two days. Prickly pear helped the insects live four days longer.

That may not sound like a long time. However, the researchers remind us that one day in the life of a fruit fly is equal to one human year.

Researchers also noted that movement in some diseased insects improved.

They reported their findings in the journal Neuroscience Letters.

The best way to fight neurodegenerative diseases

Researchers say that the sticky plaques in both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases appear to form through the same biological pathways. Targeting these pathways, they say, is the best way to fight the diseases.

The lead author of the study is Ruben Cauchi of the University of Malta’s Center for Molecular Medicine and Biobanking. He says the Mediterranean plant extracts are already used in health foods and some cosmetics. So, they are very safe.

The research team is working with a company that extracts the chemicals for commercial use as so-called “fountain of youth” products.

And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report.

I’m Anna Matteo.

Jessica Berman wrote this report for VOA News. Anna Matteo adapted it for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

Check your understanding of the story by taking this reading quiz.


Words in This Story

neurodegenerative – adj. relating to or marked by degeneration of nervous tissue

degeneration – n. deterioration of a tissue or an organ in which its function is diminished or its structure is impaired

extract ­– n. a substance that you get from something by using a machine or chemicals

deposit – n. an amount of something (such as sand, snow, or mud) that has formed or been left on a surface or area over a period of time

Brewer’s yeast – n. a yeast used or suitable for use in brewing; also : the dried ground-up cells of such a yeast used as a source of the vitamin B complex

plaque – n. medical : a change in brain tissue that occurs in Alzheimer’s disease : medical : a harmful material that can form in arteries and be a cause of heart disease

exposure – n. the fact or condition of being affected by something or experiencing something : the condition of being exposed to something

extract ­– v. to get (a substance) from something by the use of a machine or chemicals

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Courtesy: Voice of America

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Poll Shows France’s Le Pen Gaining Support – VOA Learning English (Feb 20, 2017)

Marine Le Pen, the far-right nationalist leader, has gained more support in her campaign to become the next president of France.

On Monday a poll showed her ahead of the other two major candidates. They are the centrist Emmanuel Macron and conservative Francois Fillon. But Le Pen could still lose the final May 7th election to either candidate.

The Paris-based political research group Opinionway operated the study of French citizens’ opinions. The group asked people who they planned to vote for out of the five total candidates. If no candidate wins a majority of the votes on April 23, the two candidates with the most votes face each other again in May.

The poll shows Le Pen winning 27 percent of the first vote; more than any other candidate, but not a majority. She would then likely face either Macron or Fillon in the next round.

But against either candidate in May, Le Pen would likely lose. Macron would win 58 percent of the vote against her 42 percent. Fillon would win 56 percent to her 44.

French investors are concerned with news of Le Pen’s lead in the poll. She has suggested France stop using the currency called the Euro and calls for a vote on leaving the European Union. She also suggested putting greater taxes on imported goods and contracts of foreign workers.

I’m Pete Musto.

Simon Carraud, Yann Le Guerigou and Richard Balmforth reported this story for the Reuters news service. Pete Musto adapted it for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor. We want to hear from you. Who do you think will become the next president of France? Why do you think that? Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

far-rightadj. having or supporting ideas and policies that are associated with conservative groups

nationalistn. a supporter of or believer in a feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their country often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries

polln. an activity in which several or many people are asked a question or a series of questions in order to get information about what most people think about something

centristn. a person whose political opinions are not extreme, falling between those of liberals and conservatives

conservativeadj. believing in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society

currencyn. the money that a country uses

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US Assures EU, Seeks ‘Common Ground with Russia” – VOA Learning English (Feb 20, 2017)

Vice President Mike Pence says the United States will “continue to hold Russia accountable.” But he adds that President Donald Trump wants to find “new common ground with Russia.”

Pence’s comments came Monday in Brussels, Belgium with European Union Council President Donald Tusk.

“In the wake of Russian efforts to redraw international borders by force, we will continue to support efforts in Poland and the Baltic states through NATO’s enhanced forward presence initiative. And with regard to Ukraine, the United States will continue to hold Russia accountable and demand that Russia honor the Minsk agreements beginning by de-escalating the violence in eastern Ukraine.”

Vice President Pence did not provide any details about possible closer ties with Russia. He said that Trump believes they can be found.

He said cooperation is needed to have free and fair economies, saying “strengthening our economic vitality will require hard but necessary choices.”

US- EU relations

Pence is on his first trip to Europe since taking office. There have been concerns about the new administration’s “America First” policy. The purpose of the trip is to let allies know that the U.S. remains a loyal friend.

The vice president said he was speaking for Trump when he expressed U.S. commitment “to continued cooperation and partnership with the European Union.”

“Whatever our differences, our two continents share the same heritage, the same values, and above all the same purpose, to promote peace and prosperity through freedom, democracy and the rule of law. And to those objectives we will remain committed.”

Donald Tusk of the EU said Monday’s meeting was “truly needed.” He said that he heard from Pence words that are promising about the future, and explain the Trump administration’s views.

Last month in interviews with two European newspapers, Trump said he thought other countries would follow Britain in leaving the EU.

Tusk talked about the importance of the EU. He said “Americans know best what great value it is to be united.”

Earlier Monday Pence held talks with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. She said on Twitter the two had an “excellent meeting, good basis for our cooperation.” Pence also met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the afternoon to close his European trip.

The vice president expressed support for NATO at the alliance’s security conference in Munich last Saturday. His comments came after Trump’s campaign statements described NATO as “obsolete,” meaning no longer useful.

“The United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in our commitment to our transatlantic alliance,” Pence said in his first major foreign policy address for the new administration.

Pence, his wife, Karen, and daughter Charlotte visited the Dachau concentration camp memorial early Sunday. The camp was the first one established by the Nazi government in 1933 near Munich. It was where an estimated “countless thousands” Jews and other political prisoners died or were killed.

I’m Anne Ball.

Anne Ball adapted this story for Learning English with material from VOA News reports. Hai Do was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and visit us on our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

initiative – n. a plan or program that is intended to solve a problem

de-escalate – v. to slow down or decrease

vitality – n. lively or energetic quality

necessary – adj. so important you must do it or have it, an absolute need

unequivocal – adj. very strong and clear with no doubt

unwavering – adj. continuing in a strong and steady way

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N. Korea, Malaysia Disagree over Kim’s Death – VOA Learning English (Feb 20, 2017)

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak said his government’s investigation of the killing Kim Jong Nam will be “objective.”

Kim Jong Nam was the half-brother of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un.

“We have no reason why we want to do something to paint North Korea in a bad light, but we will be objective,” Najib told reporters on Monday in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Japanese broadcaster Fuji TV released video footage that appears to show Kim Jong Nam being attacked in Kuala Lumpur International airport last week. Two women, believed to be North Korean agents, participated in the attack; one of them appeared to put poison on Kim Jong Nam’s face.

Officials have not confirmed this footage.

Tensions rise between Malaysia and North Korea

Tensions have been rising between Malaysia and North Korea in the week following the killing.

Early on Monday, Malaysia recalled its representative in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. Malaysia’s foreign ministry said it had recalled its representative “for consultations.”

The North Korean ambassador in Kuala Lumpur raised doubts about Malaysia’s impartiality. He said the man killed in Kuala Lumpur’s airport was not Kim Jong Nam.

North Korean officials have tried to prevent Malaysia from doing an autopsy. An autopsy is an examination of a dead body to find out the cause of death. Instead, North Korean officials have insisted that Malaysian authorities release the body to them.

Malaysian authorities have said they will release the body to Kim Jong Nam’s son, Kim Han Sol.

Malaysian police said they were hunting for four North Koreans who fled the country the day of the attack. They have already detained several other suspects.

Implications and consequences of the attack

Malaysia is one of the few countries that maintain ties with North Korea, and this dispute could further isolate the country.

Following the news of Kim Jong Nam’s death, South Korea convened a meeting of its National Security Council.

South Korea’s Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn was nearly certain that North Korea was behind the killing.

“The North Korean regime’s terrorism tactics are getting bolder so we must be more vigilant,” Hwang said.

Kim Jong Nam had been living in Macau under Chinese protection.

On Saturday, China announced that it had suspended all coal imports from North Korea, a vital source of revenue for the country.

I’m John Russell.

Rozanna Latiff and Joseph Sipalan reported on this story for Reuters. John Russell adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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

Words in This Story

objective – adj. based on facts rather than feelings or opinions

to paint (someone ) in a bad light – idiom to do something in a way that makes someone or something look bad

consultation – n. a meeting in which someone (such as a doctor or lawyer) talks to a person about a problem, question, etc.

impartiality – n. treating all people and groups equally

autopsy – n. an examination of a dead body to find out the cause of death

isolate – v. to put or keep (someone or something) in a place or situation that is separate from others

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Know Your English – The Hindu (Feb 19, 2017)

Know Your English – The Hindu (Feb 19, 2017)

What is the meaning of ‘mansplaining’? (KS Nitya, Vellore)

‘Mansplaining’ is a relatively new word; it is a combination of ‘man’ and ‘explaining’. For further reading, visit “The Hindu”.

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Everyday Grammar: Linking Verbs – VOA Learning English (Feb 19, 2017)

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Eyes in the Sky Map Amazon on the Ground – VOA Learning English (Feb 19, 2017)


The Peruvian Andes and Amazon created with laser-guided imaging spectroscopy. Credit: Greg Asner

Looking at a rainforest from high in the sky, you might think all the trees look about the same.

But they are not.

Take, for example, the Amazon rainforest in South America. Research shows that the Amazon’s biological diversity—the huge number of plants and animals living there—is more of a mix than experts believed. It turns out the rainforest has many species of trees and even different kinds of forests.

The Amazon covers an area of about 7 million square kilometers. It lies within the borders of nine countries: Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, which belongs to France.

About 60 percent of the rainforest falls within Brazil.

For about 150 years, researchers have explored the Amazon. They searched under its tall trees to study the many plants growing there.

Greg Asner has done that too. He is the principal investigator for the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) program.

Asner studied the plants and then, with his team, developed a tool to identify what is growing in the Amazon rainforest. They use an airplane equipped with a high-technology laboratory to create maps of the area.

When the plane flew over Peru, the team learned there are many more — and different kinds of — forests than was documented before.

Researchers once thought the western Amazon had three to five different forests. Then, Asner notes, his team mapped the area in the CAO aircraft.


Map of Peru Showing Different Tree Species Identified by CAO

“We flew over and we mapped 36 distinct forest types. And so what we did, we just increased the diversity of the region by tenfold and that’s important because the region, the Peruvian Andes and Amazon, just like all the other countries that occupy that region, are rapidly developing.”


Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) inside the airplane and laboratory used the map Peru and the Amazon rainforest. (Courtesy Greg Asner)

The CAO is equipped with airborne laser-guided imaging spectroscopy. This technology enables Asner and his team to take three-dimensional images of the forest far below. These pictures give the appearance of length, width and depth. They have bright colors and look like modern art paintings. Yet they show different tree species.


Three-dimensional image using laser-guided imaging spectroscopy taken by CAO shows natural color of trees in one hectare of rainforest


Three-dimensional enhanced image using laser-guided imaging spectroscopy taken by CAO shows different species of trees in same hectare of rainforest

Asner says the team is gathering more than just pictures of plants.

“And at the same time we’re able to assess the health, composition and types of trees that are there, from their chemical signatures.”

He says getting chemical information on the trees is like a doctor taking blood from a patient. The images tell the researchers about the health of the forests, and give them genetic information, too.

But how can you get chemical information from trees while flying above them?

Asner says the CAO aircraft uses sunlight as the main measurement tool. The sunlight reflects off the tops of the trees. With the equipment on the plane, they can measure infrared light – the light that cannot be seen.

“This is in the shortwave infrared. So we can’t see this with the naked eye. But we are able to read the molecular composition of the tree canopy.”

This information helps them understand how the plant species and forests change in different areas.

Asner says they can use airborne laser-guided imaging spectroscopy over a huge area that has never been mapped. In this case, it is 76 million hectares in the Amazon.

The Carnegie team joined with the Peruvian Ministry of Environment to study that country’s forests. Asner says this technology is still new to science, and it can help officials watch over and protect the forests.

“The application to Peru is really a big step forward because it tells us that we can use this still-new approach to map the composition of forests, in this case,and use that information to do better forest management, conservation and planning for future changes that we know the region is undergoing.”

He says their maps help researchers and government officials make decisions based on the actual biodiversity of each area. No longer are people treating the Amazon rainforest “like a big green carpet” – one that is the same everywhere.


The view of the Amazon forest looking down from the tree top. (Greg Asner)

NEWS Researchers will be busy because they noticed plant species that are little known, or completely unknown, in the forest communities.

The Carnegie team is now working with Equador to map its countryside. The images will help Ecuadorean officials preserve their forests.

The next step is to take the technology even higher—to orbit the Earth. Then researchers may observe the biodiversity not just of the Amazon, but the whole planet.

The orbiting satellite would remap the entire Earth every 30 days and measure the health of its biodiversity.

Biodiversity is important to the health of the planet, Asner explains. It is the “fabric” that is under all the planet’s systems, like water and food.

“So where the different species are and what types of species we have actually affects all the major processes that regulate our climate.”

So, Asner adds, finding ways to watch the Earth will help researchers make better decisions on how to save more species and help stop destruction of our planet.

I’m Anne Ball.

Anne Ball wrote this story for Learning English with information from Kevin Enochs from VOA. George Grow was the editor.

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

Now check your understanding by taking a listening quiz.


Words in This Story

biodiversity – n. the existence of many different kinds of plants and animals in an environment

tenfold – adj. ten times as much or many

laser – n. a device that produces a narrow and powerful beam of light that has many special uses in medicine, industry, etc.

spectroscopy – n. using a tool to measure different properties of light.

assess – v. to make a judgment about (something)

reflect – v. of light, sound, etc. to move in one direction, hit a surface, and then quickly move in a different and usually opposite direction

infrared – adj. producing or using rays of light that cannot be seen and that are longer than rays that produce red light

shortwave – n. a radio wave with a wavelength between 10 and 100 meters

canopy – n. the highest layer of branches in a forest or on a tree

conservation – n. the protection of animals, plants, and natural resources

This article was originally published on the  and reproduced here with permission.

Courtesy: Voice of America

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US Aircraft Carrier Begins Patrol in South China Sea – VOA Learning English (Feb 19, 2017)

A U.S. Navy aircraft carrier strike group has begun “routine operations” in the South China Sea. The operations came despite a warning from China not to interfere with Chinese sovereignty in the area.

The U.S. Navy announced the operations on Saturday. The strike group includes Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.

The Navy Times reported last week on the planned operations with information provided by unnamed Navy officials. The report clearly angered China’s foreign ministry. A foreign ministry spokesman urged U.S. officials “not to take any actions that challenge China’s sovereignty and security.”

China claims the man-made islands are part of its territory, along with many other parts of the South China Sea. Satellite images suggest China has added military weapons to some of the islands.

Other countries with territorial claims in the sea are the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

Freedom of navigation operation

A U.S. Navy release said the California-based Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group left last month for a deployment to the western Pacific. A Navy official was reported as saying the deployment would, among other things, contribute “to freedom of navigation and lawful use of the sea.”

Freedom of navigation operation, or FONOP, is meant to show military force and free movement of shipping in international waters. But the operation represents a test to countries holding territorial claims in disputed areas.

China has objected to earlier freedom of movement exercises performed in or around its territory. The U.S. military has carried out at least four FONOP operations in the South China Sea in recent years. The most recent one took place last October, when a U.S. Navy destroyer was sent to waters near Chinese-claimed islands. At the time, a Chinese official called the move “illegal” and “provocative.”

In the past, China has sent military airplanes and/or ships to follow American ships taking part in freedom of navigation exercises.

The U.S. government defends the operations, saying they fully comply with international law. During a recent visit to East Asia, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the U.S. military was prepared to hold future freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.

Zack Cooper is with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS, a research group based in Washington, D.C. He says international law is clearly described in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“Beyond 12 nautical miles from the shoreline, basically any country can fly, sail or operate military vessels in those areas – despite the fact that some countries claim that they can limit that sort of operation.”

Zack Cooper of CSIS has been watching new U.S. President Donald Trump. He thinks the new U.S. administration is likely to take a more assertive position to freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.

Cooper added that the next test for China’s government could be in waters near Mischief Reef, in the Spratly Islands. China has been expanding that man-made island for years and has reportedly built extensive military positions on the reef.

“I would expect that one of the early operations that the Trump administration might do would target Mischief Reef by sailing fairly close to it – (to) demonstrate that the new administration is willing to accept more risk to directly challenge Chinese claims.”

U.S. freedom of navigation operations can send an important message to any state testing international maritime law, he added.

“It’s important for the United States and other countries to demonstrate to China that where the law has been made quite clear, that those countries are not going to be intimidated into walking away from what is very clear international law.”

Still, Cooper said, it is not likely that freedom of navigation operations will stop Chinese militarization or existing development projects in the South China Sea. But he said it could prevent China from claiming and developing new territory.

China announced changes to its maritime law

China recently announced a proposal to change its own laws controlling how it can react to foreign ships entering its territory. According to the country’s official Global Times, a draft of the law “would empower maritime authorities to prevent foreign ships from entering Chinese waters if it is decided that the ships may harm traffic safety and order.”

Cooper said the revision suggests the law would give China the power to declare control over foreign ships passing through the South China Sea and other major waterways.

“If China was to revise the law in that way, it would again directly contravene the restrictions on those kinds of domestic laws that are in the UN Convention on the Law of the sea. So in many ways it would be seen I think as a direct challenge to the UN Convention.”

He said other nations should send a strong message to China that they would oppose such changes.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn reported this story for VOA Learning English. His report includes information from Reuters, the Associated Press, Navy Times and other sources. George Grow was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

navigationn. moving a boat or ship over an area of water

sovereigntyn. power of a country to control its own government

assertiveadj. confident or strong in speaking or actions

intimidatev. intentionally make someone afraid

revisionn. a change to something that already exists

provocation – n. something causes anger or action; incitement

comply – v. to do what you have been ordered or asked to do

maritimeadj. of or related to the sea

contravenev. to fail to follow a rule or law

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English in a Minute: On a Roll – VOA Learning English (Feb 18, 2017)

What does it mean to be “on a roll?” Watch this week’s EIM to find out!

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