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Learn English as you read and listen to news and feature stories about world events and politics. Our daily stories are written at the intermediate and upper-beginner level and are read one-third slower than regular VOA English. Everything is free.
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Can Technology Help Vietnam's Energy Dilemma?

Cum, 28.04.2017 - 23:59
  The Vietnamese government is dealing with an important question: how can the country supply its growing energy needs without destroying the environment? Trilliant is a software firm for electricity grids. It says that Southeast Asia in general will see energy use grow 80 percent in the next 20 years. But for Vietnam, growth will be closer to 200 percent. The answers to the problem might lie in a combination of technology, renewable power, and greater energy efficiency. However, the issue is a complex one for Vietnam's officials. They see coal as an inexpensive way to fuel the economy. By 2030, dozens of new coal power plants will open despite the pollution they emit. Although Vietnam just increased the price it pays to solar power investors, the market for renewable energy is still small. Vietnam faces the same problem many countries do -- economic growth comes at a price. Vo Van Hoan is the chief of staff  at the Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee. Hoan explains that Vietnam is taking part in the global technological revolution. The number of factories has grown in recent years as electronics have overtaken rice and coffee as a leading export. The growth, Hoan says, also brings pollution, deforestation, and other damages linked to climate change. Technology can be a problem, but it can also be a solution. It could help decrease the economy's harm to the environment, especially by addressing the country's energy needs. One such technology is the smart meter, an electricity meter that connects to the internet. Trilliant and the Saigon Hi-Tech Park finished a smart meter project in a manufacturing area that houses Intel and Samsung. The devices alert authorities when there is a power outage. They also detect tampering and measure power quality. Smart meters get information every 15 minutes, so that people can see and make decisions about their electricity consumption in real time. Another technology that could help developing economics is energy-efficient lighting, such as LED bulbs. Chinn Lim is the lead public sector strategist at Autodesk, which makes software for architecture, engineering, and manufacturing. Based in Singapore, Lim said his company is consulting with Vietnamese government agencies about how to cut energy waste. Lim said it is becoming more popular for buildings to be fitted with efficient lighting, such as LED bulbs and lights that can be programmed to shut off on their own. He added that a common application of emerging technology is to study traffic patterns, in the hopes of improving fuel use. In Singapore's case, Lim adds, the government simulates various building arrangements to see the impact on traffic. Smart bulbs and smart meters might offer small changes, but with more power blackouts expected in the near future, Vietnam needs all the progress it can get. I'm John Russell. Ha Nguyen reported this story from Ho Chi Minh City. 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   inexpensive - adj. low in price​ emit - v. to send (light, energy, etc.) out from a source global - adj. involving the entire world​ alert - v. to make (someone) aware of something detect - v. to discover or notice the presence of (something that is hidden or hard to see, hear, taste, etc.) grid – n. a network of electrical wires and equipment that supplies electricity to a large area renewable – adj.  restored or replaced by natural processes : able to be replaced by nature efficiency – n. the ability to do something or produce something without wasting materials, time, or energy : the quality or degree of being efficient meter – n.  a device that measures and records the amount of something that has been used tampering – n. that act of changing or touching (something) especially in a way that causes damage or harm bulb – n. a glass bulb or tube that produces light when it is supplied with electricity consumption - n. the use of something (such as fuel) efficient - adj. capable of producing desired results without wasting materials, time, or energy consult - v. to talk about something with (someone) in order to make a decision simulate - v.  to look, feel, or behave like (something)

South African Baseball Player Gets First Major League Hit

Cum, 28.04.2017 - 00:59
Gift Ngoepe of South Africa spent almost nine years playing baseball in the United States. He was in the minor leagues, the professional level below Major League Baseball. He started his career when he was 18. He is now 27 years old. He played for teams that are part of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball organization, in cities like Bradenton, Florida; State College, Pennsylvania; and Indianapolis, Indiana. He played over 700 games before finally getting promoted to the Pirates on Wednesday. When he entered the game against the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, he made history as the first African player in the Major Leagues. And then he did something even more special: he got a hit in his first at-bat against Jon Lester, one of the best pitchers in baseball. As it rolled into center field, Ngoepe rounded first base and clapped his hands. His teammates smiled and cheered. The television announcer said “at 2:49 South Africa time, Gift Ngoepe has made history.” The game stopped and the ball was taken out of play in honor of his first hit. “Awesome stuff, remarkable stuff,” the other announcer said. Ngoepe is from Pietersburg, near Johannesburg. Before the game, he said “it’s been my dream since I was a 10-year-old boy.” He said he hoped his appearance in the Major Leagues would inspire more Africans to consider playing baseball. He started playing because his mother worked for a baseball team in Randburg. After the game, Ngoepe said his success in the Major Leagues “means a lot to the people back home,” and “it doesn’t matter where you come from and no matter where you are or who you are, you can still make it.” I’m Dan Friedell.   Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English based on reporting by the Associated Press, VOA News and MLB.com. Hai Do was the editor. How do you feel about Ngoepe reaching the Major Leagues? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. ___________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   promote – v. to change the rank or position of (someone) to a higher or more important one clap – v. to hit the palms of your hands together usually more than once ◊ People often clap to show approval or pleasure. awesome – adj. causing feelings of fear and wonder : causing feelings of awe remarkable – adj. unusual or surprising; likely to be noticed

Childbirth Drug Greatly Reduces Bleeding Deaths

Cum, 28.04.2017 - 00:00
  A drug used to treat severe bleeding could save thousands of lives for mothers giving birth. A global trial of the drug found it reduced the risk of bleeding deaths during childbirth by nearly one-third. The study involved 20,000 women in 21 countries, mainly in Africa and Asia. The trial was carried out by London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The drug is called tranexamic acid. It is low-cost and researchers said it does not cause serious side effects for mothers or babies.    The drug was first developed by Japanese scientists in the 1960s, but no long-term studies of it were completed until now. The drug is used to treat mothers for severe bleeding during childbirth, also known as postpartum hemorrhage. Postpartum hemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. More than 100,000 women die of the condition each year. Haleema Shakur is the project director for the trial. She says despite medical advances in many countries, severe bleeding after childbirth remains a big problem in some parts of the world. “It’s one of the biggest killers of mothers. You know, mothers go into childbirth expecting everything to happen normally. But in Africa and Asia, about 10 percent of women will end up with severe bleeding.” The drug works by stopping blood clots from breaking down after a mother gives birth. The treatment can prevent the need for doctors to perform surgery to find the source of bleeding. Shakur said the best results were reported when the drug was given to women as soon as possible after childbirth. “The earlier you give it – so within the first three hours of giving birth – the better the effect. Overall we saw a 20 percent reduction in death due to bleeding, whereas in women who received the treatment within the first three hours, it was 30 percent.” The next step will be to get the drug where it is needed and provide training to doctors and nurses on how to use it. During the trial, women were given the drug through an intravenous (IV) line in a hospital setting. But researchers are looking for easier ways to administer the drug so it can be more widely used in small clinics and rural areas. I’m Bryan Lynn.   Henry Ridgwell reported this story for VOA News. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for Learning English. Hai Do 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   trial – n. test of how good something works maternal death – n. death relating to pregnancy and childbirth blood clot – n. when blood becomes thick, sometimes causing a blockage surgery – n. medical treatment involving a doctor cutting into the body to remove or repair parts intravenous – adj. entering the body through a vein  

Solar Plant to Launch at Chernobyl Nuclear Site

Per, 27.04.2017 - 23:42
  Thirty years after the world’s worst nuclear disaster, Chernobyl is about to become a solar farm. Officials in Ukraine plan to build a solar energy plant at the Chernobyl nuclear site. The announcement comes during the week of the 31st anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. The Chernobyl accident occurred on April 26, 1986. The incident would become the world's worst nuclear accident.  32 people died and dozens of others suffered painful radiation burns. Until recently, the government of Ukraine has largely ignored the area. Ostap Semerak is Ukraine’s minister of ecology. He spoke with VOA about the planned solar project. "Today, almost a year after we have started the work, I can announce the first private investment project working in the Chernobyl zone to build a small solar energy plant.” Semerak says more than 50 national and international companies have expressed interest in building the solar plant. He adds that when completed, the project will produce about half the power produced by the Chernobyl nuclear plant. "We have received over 50 applications from companies of various sizes. Cumulatively, those would be enough to produce 2.5 gigawatts of power, which would be 2,500 megawatts. This is comparable to the output by two units of a nuclear power plant. This is about half the capacity which the Chernobyl power plant had before the disaster." Officials expect to complete the solar plant project in May. I’m Jonathan Evans. Oksana Ligostova and Ruslan Deynychencko reported this story for VOA. Jonathan Evans adapted the report for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor. ________________________________________________________________ Words in this Story capacity – n. the amount of something that can be produced or managed by a factory, company, etc. ecology – n. a science that deals with the relationships between groups of living things and their environments

Who Are the Civilians Living in Refugee Camps?

Per, 27.04.2017 - 23:15
American researcher Kenneth Miller has been working with victims of war for more than 25 years. Miller is a trained psychologist. In school, he studied the mind and human behavior. He says most of what has been written about war over the years tells about soldiers and their experiences. But very little, he thought, was ever written about civilians. So he decided to write a book. His book, War Torn: Stories of Courage, Love and Resilience, describes the experiences of several civilians, including refugees. Miller wrote about people like 31-year-old Mustafa Hamed, a Syrian refugee who today lives in Germany. Hamed tried to cross the border between Syria and Turkey eight times, but was always stopped and sent home. On the ninth try, he made it. Now, Hamed is working hard to make a life for himself in Germany, but it is not easy. “The most important thing is you are lost here. You have to find a new job, new friends and you have to find a new life. So this is a new start for me.” His dream is to get a job in the news media. But first, he has to overcome some of the bad memories he has of living in Aleppo, one of the cities most affected by the war in Syria. Hamed has bad dreams, and remembers bombs exploding nearby. “You can imagine it was daily, and you can hear every night, bombing someplace near you — maybe for just two kilometers [away]. The electricity was cut down for a long time. So, you have to wait for seven or eight hours just to charge your mobile phone.” The new book also tells about an Afghan man named Samad Khan. He was a refugee in the 1980s. At the time, Afghanistan was in the middle of a conflict involving pro-government fighters, forces from the Soviet Union, and rebels known as mujahedeen. While driving on a mountain road, Khan had a terrible accident. Many members of his family died in the crash. Khan felt guilty about the traffic accident for a long time. But many years later he felt better. He became a leader in his community and seemed happy. Khan told Kenneth Miller about the accident during a counseling session. Miller could not believe Khan had recovered so well from such a bad experience. He said that his family, friends and belief in God helped him get better. Miller said he included Khan’s story because it seemed to have a lot in common with other refugees from around the world. “We are more alike than we are different. And his story also captures something we see in a lot of refugee communities. Which is, war, of course, can be devastating, but we are also built to heal. If the conditions are supportive and safe and stable, people have a remarkable capacity to be resilient and to heal." Miller also wrote about a young man, Emilio, who settled in Canada. He was forced out of Guatemala because of fighting in a village close to where he grew up. He and his family fled the country and went to a refugee camp in Mexico. Emilio now works as a musician, and is “doing wonderfully well” because of the support he received from his family, Miller said. Along with family support, Miller identified ways to help refugees feel comfortable in their new surroundings. He said the refugees need to feel welcome, be offered training in the local language and be given financial support or a chance to work. If they face discrimination, it will be harder for them to become part of a new society. "The more people feel marginalized and discriminated (against), of course the harder it is for them to integrate and the harder it is for them to heal." I’m Dan Friedell. Faiza Elmasry wrote this story for VOANews.com. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. Would you like to learn more stories about refugees and migrants? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. _____________________________________________________________ Words in This Story psychologist – n. a specialist in the mind and behavior courage – n. the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous resilience – n. the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens devastate – v. to destroy much or most of (something); to cause great damage or harm to (something) remarkable – adj. unusual or surprising; likely to be noticed comfortable – adj. not causing any physically unpleasant feelings; producing physical comfort session – n. a meeting or series of meetings; a period set aside for an activity  

Influencing North Korea Not Easy for China

Per, 27.04.2017 - 22:25
U.S. President Donald Trump and many experts have said that China’s support in efforts to limit North Korea’s weapons programs is important. The Trump administration told U.S. senators Wednesday that sanctions and diplomacy were needed to get North Korea to return to negotiations. The United Nations, the U.S. and South Korea have all placed sanctions on North Korea to force it to end its nuclear weapons program. However, China’s willingness and ability to pressure its neighbor is not fully clear. Additional energy cuts possible Some observers in China say the government is doing all it can to restrain North Korea. China cut coal imports from North Korea earlier this year. It also is reducing financial flows to the North. Lu Chao is a North Korea expert at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences in northeast China. Lu says Chinese banks have stopped banking activities with North Korean banks. “China has imposed the harshest sanctions ever against North Korea, the effect of which may take some time to kick in, but they will be effective,” he said. Recent reports have said the price of gasoline in the capital, Pyongyang, more than doubled. This has led some experts to say that China is the cause. However, some analysts say North Korea could be saving gasoline to prepare for a future import ban. Others say that, as tensions rise, the military is getting the gasoline. China is unlikely to place new sanctions on North Korea by itself, observers say. However, North Korea could face greater restrictions if it continues to violate U.N. resolutions. These could include gasoline import cuts or other energy products. Cai Jian is director of the Center for Korea Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. He told VOA that such a move would have a big effect on North Korea’s nuclear weapons development. However, he said such moves “will also affect the livelihood of its people. So, we have to be cautious about these harsh sanctions, which should only be imposed as a last resort.” Close allies, strained ties China has been North Korea’s main ally for many years. They are often described as being as close as “lips and teeth.” However, relations between the two countries have been strained since leader Kim Jong Un came to power in 2011. Talks between North and South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the United States, known as the six-party talks, have not taken place since 2007. Kim Jong Un has now carried out three nuclear tests and more than 20 long-range missile launches. Unlike his father, leader Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un has not visited China. His uncle, Jang Song Thaek was said to have had close ties with China. He also called for opening the North’s economy. But he was executed in 2013. China recently tried to send its diplomat for nuclear issues, Wu Dawei, to North Korea. However, that move was rejected. China has not been satisfied with North Korea’s actions. But experts such as Daniel Pinkston say China is unlikely to place so much stress on North Korea that the government collapses. Pinkston is with Troy University in Seoul, South Korea. “I just don’t see the Chinese doing that,” Pinkston says. “They’ don’t believe it is in their interest and I think they are probably right.” Communications more difficult Recent opinion pieces in Chinese state media have warned North Korea not to carry out tests banned by U.N. Security Council sanctions. Bong Young-shik is with the Yonsei University Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul. He says China has warned leaders in Pyongyang not to go too far. “That’s a very stern warning to Pyongyang, to warn Pyongyang not to engage in any outright provocations that will be perceived by the United States as North Korea has crossed the redline.” North Korea was a major issue that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed during their meeting in early April in Florida. Euan Graham is an international security expert with the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, Australia. He says it is a problem that there is no one on the North Korean side who handles relations with China as Jang Song Thaek had. “There’s no central person like Jang Song Thaek, who for many years was the main channel,” Graham said. “So, it’s not as easy, and the Chinese, I think, have genuine frustrations.” I’m Mario Ritter.   Bill Ide reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson 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   Harshest –adj. the most difficult or most harmful kick in –v. take effect, to happen sanctions –n. actions taken against a country to cause it to obey international law, usually in the form of economic restrictions provocations –n. actions taken to cause someone to get angry or to cause a response redline –n. a limit frustrations –n. the state of not being able to do something

31 Years Later, Chernobyl Disaster Remembered

Per, 27.04.2017 - 01:04
Thirty-one years ago this week, the world eyes focused on the Ukrainian city of Chornobyl, where the world's worst nuclear accident was contaminating large swaths of what was then called the Soviet Union. Three years ago, VOA's Steve Herman visited the area, photographing monuments and artifacts near the Chernobyl reactor site.

Pope Francis to Meet with Christian, Muslim Leaders in Egypt

Ça, 26.04.2017 - 23:54
Pope Francis is making final preparations for a trip to Egypt. His visit begins on Friday. It comes just weeks after deadly attacks against the country’s Coptic Christian minority. This will be the second time a leader of the Roman Catholic Church has traveled to Egypt, the most populous Arab country. Pope John Paul II visited Cairo in 2000. Earlier this month, two terror attacks targeted Coptic churches in Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city, and the northern city of Tanta. More than 40 people were killed and more than 100 others were injured. The attackers exploded bombs as they stood among people gathered for prayers at religious services. The bombings took place on the Christian observance of Palm Sunday. They were the latest in a series of attacks against Egyptian Christians. Recently, Islamic militants carried out an attack on Christians in El Arish, a town in the northern Sinai Peninsula. The violence caused some Christian families to leave the area. Pope to meet with other religious leaders Egyptian editor and publisher Hisham Kassem spoke to VOA about Pope Francis’ visit. He said the trip was planned before the recent suicide bombings. Kassem noted that it takes place at a time when “Christians are facing the brunt of terror attacks and their security in the country is in jeopardy.” Pope Francis is expected to meet with Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah al Sisi. The pope will also meet with religious leaders, including the head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II. Francis and Tawadros will then meet with Egypt’s Grand Imam, Sheikh Ahmed al Tayeb, at al Azhar University. The Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, is also expected to attend the gathering. A papal spokesman told Italian media that Pope Francis would not be using an armored vehicle because of concerns that it would keep him from meeting the Egyptian people. A spokesman for the Catholic part of Egypt’s main Coptic Orthodox church discussed the visit with local media. He said Egyptian Christians were “expecting a message of peace and solidarity [as well as] a message of hope.” Egypt has the largest Christian population of any Arab country. About 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million people are said to be Christian. Egyptian political sociologist Said Sadek told VOA that the papal visit will be good for Christians and the government. He said it “will show the world that Egypt is stable.” He said this would help the country’s travel industry. The effect of the attacks on Coptic Christians has been to increase distrust. Both the president and Prime Minister Sherif Ismail have accused other countries in the area of involvement in the attacks. However, they would not name those countries. Arab media reported that the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the bombings at the Coptic churches. Egyptian government media said terrorists in the Sinai have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood group and the Palestinian group Hamas. They have stated that both groups have support from several countries in the area. I’m Mario Ritter.   Ed Yeranian reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted his report for Learning English. 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   brunt – n. the main force or effect jeopardy – n. a situation in which someone is in danger solidarity – n. a feeling of unity between people with the same interests stable – adj. not likely to change too much armored – adj. equipped or protected with flat pieces of metal  

Britain Marks First Coal-Free Day Since Industrial Revolution

Ça, 26.04.2017 - 15:20
Britain has recorded its first full day without electricity from coal-fired power stations since the Industrial Revolution. Britain’s National Grid says the milestone took place last Friday, April 21. The energy provider said it was the first time the country went without using coal as part of its energy mix for a full 24-hour period in 135 years. There have been other times when Britain did not use coal, but none as long as this. In May 2016, the country went for 19 hours without burning coal to produce electricity. Coal helped to power Britain’s Industrial Revolution, which changed the world’s economy. But the cost was extremely high levels of pollution. In the 1950s, clouds of smoke from coal burning combined with low-lying fog. The resulting smogs killed thousands of Londoners. Times have changed since then. Britain’s last deep coal mine closed in 2015. All coal-fired power stations are to be closed by 2025. Many people have welcomed the moves. Professor Paul Ekins of University College London is one of them. "To be honest, it's a time for the human race to celebrate, I mean certainly the humans who live in the UK. Coal has been a fantastic energy source, and no one would want to decry its historical role. But it is the dirtiest energy source. It is dirty both locally and it's dirty globally." Nuclear power and natural gas still form a big part of Britain's energy mix. The website Gridwatch.co.uk estimates that about half of British energy on Friday came from gas, with about one-fourth coming from nuclear power centers. Paul Ekins says the coal-free milestone was reached through a huge expansion of renewable energy. "So that's both solar and wind (power). And when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing together, the capacity of renewables now generates of lot of electricity. And it was that fortuitous circumstance that brought us to a day without coal." But Britain is still more dependent on coal than other countries in Europe. Renewable energy met all of Portugal’s energy needs over four straight days in 2016. Such progress offers developing countries a chance to avoid the kind of industrial pollution that affected Britain. "It's much cheaper to build decentralized solar than it is to put in a grid with a standard fossil fuel infrastructure. With the costs of solar of tomorrow, it is going to be an absolute no-brainer." In the United States, President Donald Trump has signed measures to ease federal rules on the environment. He has promised to put coal miners back to work and invest in what is being called carbon-capture technology. "My administration is putting an end to the war on coal. We are going to have clean coal. Really clean coal." But many critics say the falling cost of renewable energy compared to coal means it will likely make little economic sense to re-open the mines. I’m Marsha James.   Henry Ridgwell reported this story for VOA News. Marsha James adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section. ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   milestone – n. an important point in the progress or development of something smog – n. a cloud of dirty air from cars, factories, etc., decry – v. to say publicly and forcefully that you regard (something) as bad, wrong, etc. fantastic – adj. extremely good​ capacity – n. the amount of something that can be produced or managed by a factory, company, etc.​ generate – v. ​to produce (something) or cause (something) to be produced​ fortuitous – adj. happening by chance ​cheaper – adj. less costly infrastructure – n. the basic equipment and structures (such as roads and bridges) that are needed for a country, region, or organization to function properly​ absolute – adj. complete and total​

Chinese Company Seeks to Buy MoneyGram

Sa, 25.04.2017 - 23:56
The Chinese company Ant Financial is intensifying efforts to buy the American company MoneyGram International. MoneyGram is the world’s second-largest money transfer company. Western Union is the largest. Ant Financial has been linked in media reports to the Chinese company Alibaba. Ant Financial has offered to pay $1.2 billion more for the company than Euronet Worldwide, a company making a competing offer. Euronet is based in the United States. MoneyGram has a network of 350,000 places where people can send and receive money. These include stores, post offices and banks in 200 countries. Ant Financial’s business is now mostly in the Chinese currency, the yuan. If it is able to buy MoneyGram, Ant Financial would be able to use American dollars and control accounts that are used to hold and manage the company’s money. After Euronet offered to buy MoneyGram in March, Ant Financial increased its offer by 36 percent. This decision confirmed that it was determined to buy MoneyGram and begin competing with Western Union. However, Euronet has not stopped efforts to buy MoneyGram. It is warning that if Ant Financial is able to buy the company it will have a huge amount of information about the company’s customers. Euronet says this is a security risk. If Ant Financial’s offer is accepted, the deal must still gain the approval of the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States, known as CFIUS. Some experts believe this would be the first test for a Chinese financial company seeking to do business in the U.S. Jeffrey Towson is a professor of investments at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management. He told VOA that “getting approval from CFIUS might be more difficult this year. Plus, Chinese acquisitions are more on the media radar than before. And finally, there is also a competing bidder, Euronet, and they will probably push for a regulatory denial based on security concerns.” Concerns raised on acquisition of MoneyGram Kevin Yoder of Kansas and Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas are members of the U.S. House of Representatives. They have written to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about the possible purchase of MoneyGram by Ant Financial. They wrote, “The proposal merits careful evaluation as it would provide Chinese access to the U.S. financial infrastructure, a move that would pose significant national security risks if completed.” Ant Financial has said that MoneyGram information will be stored in secure computer servers in the United States. And in a letter to people who own shares in the company, Douglas Feagin said MoneyGram will “continue to be headquartered in Dallas and run by its current U.S.-based management team after the deal closes.” He promised that Ant will “continue to invest in MoneyGram’s systems and compliance programs.” Recent development might help Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma was among the first to visit Donald Trump after he was elected president. Trump met recently with Chinese president Xi Jinping, and later said he no longer considers China to be a currency manipulator. Some experts believe these developments may help Ant Financial. Peter Fuhrman is the chairman of the company China First Capital. He says although CFIUS has denied “quite a few recent attempted Chinese takeovers, there isn’t an obvious national security case here as to why they should stop the transaction.” Jacob Kirkegaard is with the Peterson Institute of International Economics in Washington. He says Alibaba knows about internet financial transactions. He added, “I have no doubt that they can execute the deal and ensure integration.” Ant Financial was part of Alibaba, China’s biggest online seller, before Alibaba sold ownership shares to the public on the NYSE stock exchange in 2014. Ant Financial did not answer questions from VOA. Instead, it said VOA should read earlier statements the company has made. A public relations company working for Ant Financial said the company has no relationship with Alibaba. It refused to make additional comments. But several analysts, and most recent media reports, say Ant Financial is linked to Alibaba. I’m Mario Ritter.   Correspondent Saibal Dasgupta reported this story from Beijing. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted the report into VOA Special English. Mario Ritter was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section, or visit our Facebook page. ______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story currency –n. the money of a country acquisition –n. things that are bought merit –n. qualities, things with a value evaluation –n. a process of judging infrastructure –n. things needed to carry out business or commerce manipulator –n. someone who unfairly controls something transaction –n. a business deal integration –n. the process of bringing different things togeth

Where Are the Tallest Buildings in the World?

Sa, 25.04.2017 - 00:05
  Skyscrapers look like their name: They are buildings so high; it appears like they are scraping, or touching the sky. With better technology, architects — people who design buildings — engineers and builders have been able to build buildings higher and higher. For the cities and countries where they are built, they bring a sense of pride and visitors. They bring their money and the desire to be entertained. Daniel Safarik works for the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), a group with members all over the world. He says the race to build tall buildings started in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries between companies showing their economic power. Now, he says, the competition is between cities, and countries. “Part of the competition, of course has to do with pure height and the bragging rights to say that you hold that title. That is certainly the case with say, the top ten and twenty.” But just being a very tall building is no longer enough to get people to visit. Safarik says those that invest heavily in entertainment will be most successful financially. “Some of the things that they have done is put amusement park style rides at the top. That includes Ferris wheels, roller coasters, sheer drop type rides — where you’re basically just in a moment of free fall before whatever safety equipment they have engages.” Older buildings have added items like glass floors or tilting rooms that give you the feeling of looking out high over the edge. Even within the same city, some of these tall buildings compete for people’s attention—and money. Take Shanghai, China for example. The Shanghai Tower is the world’s second tallest building. Its unusual shape—rounded and twisted, with a second outer layer is a sight to see. Nearby is the Shanghai World Financial Center, number nine on the list. There you can walk on a sky bridge with a glass floor to look down to the roofs and neighborhoods below. Safarik says a third building in the city, the 19th tallest one in the world, also opened a new attraction. “The Jin Mao tower the oldest of the three has just recently opened up an experience where basically you can be tied to the side of the building and lean over the edge outdoor and sort of (laugh) test your fortitude.”  Because of what it takes to get these buildings to rise up out of the ground, and stay there, Safarik says they are some of the safest buildings around. Grouping many people in one place makes sense as the planet’s population grows. These tall buildings can be environmentally sustainable, especially when they are located near mass transportation like trains and subways. How high will the next ones be? For now, one limit appears to be elevators-- how fast and far they can go, and what peoples’ comfort level is. Here is a list of the top ten tallest buildings in the world. 1) Burj Khalifa Standing 828 meters high, this building in Dubai, United Arab Emirates has 163 floors. The center of a new downtown, it was completed in 2010. It calls itself a “vertical city.” Level 148 holds the world’s highest observation deck. A new spiral flight enclosed in glass connects Levels 124 and 125 and opens to views of the city. 2) Shanghai Tower Shanghai Tower, completed in 2015, has 128 floors and is the tallest of three in the city’s finance area. The curved building is 632 meters tall and its twisted shape provides protection from wind. It has a see-through glass second skin that wraps around the building. It has one of the world's fastest elevators that moves up at 20.5 meters per second. 3) Makkah Royal Clock Tower Standing at 601 meters high, this tower is in the center of the holiest Islamic city, Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Completed in 2012, it 120 floors and housing for Muslims making the journey there every year for the Hajj. Four very large clocks — the largest and highest in the world -- are located near the top of the tower.   4. Ping An Finance Center Located in Shenzhen, China, it stands 599 meters high and was completed in 2017. It is connected to neighboring business and residential properties. The tower’s shape narrows to form a pyramid at the top. It has 115 floors and the world’s largest stainless steel façade, or face. 5. Lotte World Tower Newly opened in Seoul, South Korea. The 123-story glass and steel structure is South Korea’s tallest building. It rises 554.5 meters above the Seoul skyline. The tower features the world’s highest floor made of glass. The building also has the highest swimming pool in the world, and one of the world’s fastest elevators. 6. One World Trade Center This New York City building replaces the World Trade Center towers that were destroyed on September 11, 2001. It rises 541.3 meters above the memorials in the ground where the twin towers once stood. With 94 floors, the building helped bring back downtown Manhattan as a business center. It is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. 7. Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre Located in Guangzhou, China, this building is 530 meters high with 111 floors. Completed in 2016, it has four setbacks as it climbs in the air. This design allows for sky terraces and dramatic skylights. The use of terracotta as a building material helped environmentally. 8) Taipei 101  Located in Taipei, Taiwan, this building was the first 100 plus story building built in the 21st century. It once was the world’s tallest building because it had a 60-meter spire that made it 508 meters. The tower’s top section has observation levels and a private club, on floor 101. 9) Shanghai World Financial Center Completed in 2008, this is the second tallest skyscraper in China. It is 492 meters tall, and has 101 floors. Located in the financial center, it has luxury hotels and meeting areas. Builders say it can survive a massive 8-magnitude earthquake. Its Sky Walk is on floor 100 and creates the sense of walking in the air above the nearby buildings and city. 10) International Commerce Centre Located in Hong Kong, this building is 484 meters high with 108 floors. Completed in 2010, it houses financial institutions, a 360-degree observation deck and the world’s highest hotel, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong. I’m Anne Ball. And I’m Jonathan Evans.   Anne Ball wrote this story 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   bragging rights – n. a good reason to talk with pride about something you have done amusement park – n. a place that has games and rides for entertainment twisted – adj. not a normal shape fortitude – n. mental strength and courage that allows someone to face danger, pain, etc. sustainable – adj. involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources elevator – n. a machine used for carrying people and things to different levels in a building spiral – n. a circular curving line that goes around a central point while getting closer to or farther away from it pyramid – n. a shape, object, or pile that is wide near the bottom and narrows gradually as it reaches the top setback – n. in architecture, a steplike recession in the side of a high-rise building terracotta – n. a reddish clay that is used for pottery and tiles    

Macron, Le Pen Head to Runoff in French Presidential Race

Sa, 25.04.2017 - 00:00
France’s two non-traditional presidential candidates offer voters a big choice: stay or leave the European Union. Emmanuel Macron is a former economy minister and Marine Le Pen is the leader of the Nationalist Front party. The two will face each other in the May 7th election, after finishing first and second in the first round of voting on Sunday. Macron, 39, and Le Pen, 48, finished ahead of candidates from the leading French political parties, including the party of the current president.    Le Pen wants French voters to follow Britain and vote for France’s exit from the European Union. She also calls for major limits on immigration. Macron wants France to remain in the European Union. He promises new spending on job training and building up roads, transportation and less-polluting energy. Establishment backing Macron Macron ran as an independent and political outsider. But political leaders, both inside and outside France, quickly offered support for Macron. Outgoing French President Francois Hollande said Le Pen would “deeply divide France” at a time when terrorism threats require “solidarity.” Macron was the top adviser on economic issues for Hollande. He ended that role to start his En Marche independent party. His party’s name means, “In Motion" in French.  Francois Fillon of the conservative Republicans finished in third place in the weekend’s voting. On Monday, Fillon urged his supporters to vote for Macron. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel joined officials from Spain and the European Union in supporting Macron on Monday. If Macron wins on May 7th, he would become France’s youngest president. Le Pen out campaigning Le Pen did not waste any time attacking her opponent. On Monday, she called Macron “weak” in the fight against Islamic terrorism. During an appearance at a farmers’ market in northern France, she told reporters that Macron “has no program” to stop terrorism. Le Pen’s supporters criticized Macron’s job as an investment banker and his efforts under Hollande to deregulate the French economy. Florian Philippot is deputy leader of Le Pen’s National Front. He said on BFM TV that Macron will not help French workers. “He sold off national companies. He criticized French culture,” Philippot said. Macron’s early lead Macron’s establishment support and early lead in the polls appeared to please investors. Stock markets across Europe saw big increases Monday and the Euro increased value against the American dollar. CAC 40, the French stock market index, increased 4.1 percent on Monday to close at its highest level since early 2008. But some experts say a Macron win is not guaranteed. They noted that British voters surprised experts last year by approving withdrawal from the European Union, a move that has become known as “Brexit.” And few political experts saw Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton in last year’s American presidential election. Christophe Guilluy is author of “The Twilight of Elite France.” He said, “In France, Britain, the Netherlands, Austria and the U.S. the same people -- blue- and white-collar workers, intermediate occupations and farmers -- are joining the populist revolt. “The rift between the global market’s winners and losers has replaced the old right-left split.” Luis Ramirez and Jamie Dettmer reported on this story for VOA News. Bruce Alpert adapted the story for Learning English with additional reporting by Reuters and the Associated Press. Hai Do was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and share your views on our Facebook Page. _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   exit - n. the act of going out or away from something poll - n. 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 strategy - n. a plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time solidarity - n. a feeling of unity between people who have the same interests, goals motion - n. an act or process of moving deregulate - v. remove regulations on an activity  white-collar - adj. having the kind of jobs that are done in an office instead of a factory or warehouse intermediate occupations - phrase . other kinds of jobs  

US Increases Pressure on North Korea Ahead of Military Anniversary

Pzt, 24.04.2017 - 22:23
President Donald Trump spoke with the leaders of China and Japan about tensions related to the possibility of North Korea’s weapons tests. The phone calls took place as North Korea prepares to mark the 85th anniversary of the establishment of its Korean People’s Army on Tuesday. The Trump administration released a statement saying the president criticized North Korea’s “belligerence” saying the country’s actions were harming security on the Korean Peninsula. The statement also said the two leaders agreed on the urgency of the threat presented by North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs. It said the two leaders were committed to “strengthen coordination in achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” Chinese state media reported that Xi said he hopes “all parties will exercise restraint” over the issue of North Korea. He also restated the position that China opposes anything against United Nations Security Council Resolutions. Trump also spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for 30 minutes. Abe told reporters in Tokyo Monday, “We agreed to strongly demand (that) North Korea, which is repeating its provocation, show restraint.” He added that, “We will maintain close contact with the United States, maintain a high level of vigilance and firmly respond.” U.S. aircraft carrier nears the Korean Peninsula The discussions with the Japanese and Chinese leaders take place as the U.S. aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and a group of warships travel to waters near the Korean Peninsula. Officials in Seoul said Monday that the strike group is to carry out joint exercises with South Korean naval ships. A Ministry of National Defense spokesman did not provide further details. There are concerns that North Korea may carry out a long-range missile launch or another nuclear test on the military anniversary date. North Korea reacted angrily to news of U.S. warships nearing the area in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper. Officials said the country is “combat-ready” to oppose the nuclear powered aircraft carrier. China may increase pressure on North Korea over tests China may be showing a greater willingness to pressure North Korea over its nuclear tests. An editorial in the Chinese Communist Party newspaper, the Global Times, stated that another test would likely result in “decreasing the amount of petroleum exported to North Korea.” Reports over the weekend suggest that the price of gasoline in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, has more than doubled. It is unclear if the price increase and possible shortage are the result of decreased supplies or the threat of a cut in exports. China is North Korea’s largest trading partner and provides nearly 90 percent of its oil. U.S. President Trump has repeatedly called on China to do more to pressure its neighbor over activities not permitted by U.N. Security Council resolutions. The Global Times editorial also said "Beijing should oppose the move by diplomatic channels rather than get involved through military actions." However, the editorial said China would get involved militarily if South Korean and U.S. troops crossed the Korean border in an effort to oust the regime. South Korea’s Unification Ministry said Monday that the editorial, although not official policy, shows China is taking a more active part in controlling North Korea. North Korea detains another American On Saturday, North Korea detained a Korean-American who was teaching in Pyongyang. The man identified as Tony Kim was teaching at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST). Evangelical Christians established and partly fund the university, which teaches students who are children of the country’s leaders. Kim was arrested at Pyongyang International Airport as he was about to leave the country. The chancellor of the University, Chan-Mo Park, said the reason for the arrest is not known. However, he told Reuters that it may have been related to an outside activity such as helping an orphanage. Two other Americans are now held by North Korea. Kim Dong Chul, a missionary, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for subversion. Otto Warmbier, an American college student, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for trying to steal a political poster. I’m Jonathan Evans.   This story is based on reports from Steve Herman, Brian Padden, Zladica Hoke and Fern Robinson. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Hai Do 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   vigilance –n. watchfulness, carefully noting signs of danger provocation –n. an action that causes someone to become angry belligerence –n. an aggressive or angry action editorial –n. writing that gives the opinions of a publication’s editors regime –n. a form of government obligations –n. things that are required by law or because of a promise or requirement circumstances –n. a condition or fact that affects a situation

Chinese Officials Move to Ban Strongly Religious Baby Names

Pzt, 24.04.2017 - 00:00
Officials in northwestern China are reported to have banned baby names with strong religious meanings. American-based broadcaster Radio Free Asia reports that the officials work in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Uyghurs are a mostly Muslim ethnic minority in China. Mecca, Saddam, Hajj, Islam and Medina are among the names that parents are not permitted to give their children. The ban is part of the Chinese Communist Party’s “Naming Rules for Ethnic Minorities,” an official said Thursday. A naming ban reportedly took effect in the southern part of Xinjiang in 2015. Now, Radio Free Asia (RFA) says, Chinese officials are enforcing the ban throughout the area. RFA and VOA are each part of the U.S. government-supported Broadcasting Board of Governors. A worker who answered the telephone at a police station in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, said that “overly religious” names are banned. The worker said that any babies registered with such names would be barred from the government system that gives the child rights to education and health care. Traditional names Another person told RFA that the safest names for Uyghurs to name their children are those that sound more "mainstream." "I have been talking with friends in Xinjiang about this, and they all say that any with potentially extremist overtones will be banned,” the person said. “But names like Memet ... that you see everywhere, are considered more mainstream by the Chinese Communist Party.” Strike-hard campaigns The Chinese government aims to limit what it calls religious extremism in Xinjiang. Officials often carry out what have been called “strike hard” campaigns. These include police raids of Uyghur homes and restrictions on Islamic customs, as well as placing limits on the culture and language of the Uyghur people. Last month, Xinjiang officials reportedly dismissed a Uyghur official for holding her marriage ceremony at home – following Islamic traditions -- instead of at a government-approved area. Local people claimed that the woman was removed from her job for taking her marriage declarations — known as “nikah” in Muslim culture — in her own home.   Xin Lin reported on this story for RFA's Mandarin Service. Luisetta Mudie translated and edited the story. It was adapted for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor. ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   mainstream - n. the thoughts, beliefs, and choices that are accepted by the largest number of people overtones - n. an idea or quality that is suggested without being said directly

Missing Rohingya Children Could Be Trafficking Victims

Paz, 23.04.2017 - 23:56
A number of Rohingya refugee children have disappeared in Bangladesh and are feared to be victims of human trafficking groups. In the past seven months, more than 70,000 Rohingya have fled violent persecution in their homeland of Myanmar. There have been widespread reports of rapes and murders as part of a military campaign against Rohingya civilians. The Myanmar government denies the charges. Rashida is among the Rohingya who fled. She and her children arrived at a camp in the Cox’s Bazar area of Bangladesh late last year. Her husband had been killed in a military offensive in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where most of the minority Rohingya live. A month ago, Rashida’s 10-year-old son Muhammad disappeared from a school he was attending. Rashida says all efforts to learn what happened to him have failed. “My daughter is always crying. She says that she’ll never see her brother in the future.” As many as 300,000 to 500,000 Rohingya are thought to be living in Bangladesh. Several non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, in the region are working to help the refugees. But political sensitivities restrain the groups from reporting fully about the issues Rohingya face.  Speaking out However, the recent child disappearances among the newly arrived refugees has led one NGO to speak out. Action Against Hunger says in knows of 16 suspected kidnappings since January. The group director says newly arrived refugee families are at special risk of kidnapping and exploitation. He says they lack the safety of community structures they had back home. "They don't have any support. They have to make a living so they have to be separated from their kids. So they have some kind of set-up where they're leaving the children assuming it's safe and they're going to try to earn some living. And those kind of separations, like when they are separated that is also the highest risk." Human trafficking groups are well established in the region. But little is known about the disappearances, which have taken place both inside and outside the camps. Many Rohingya fear asking local authorities for help. This leaves little hope for parents like Rashida. She says all she can do is protect her daughter, continue to search and find comfort in her religion. "I expect that I'll get him back if Allah wishes." I’m Marsha James.   John Owens reported on this story for VOANews.com. Marsha James adapted her report for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor. ______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   region – n. a part of a country, of the world, etc., that is different or separate from other parts in some way exploitation – n. the act or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work authorities - n. people who have power to make decisions and enforce rules and laws comfort - n. a state or feeling of being less worried, upset, frightened, etc., during a time of trouble or emotional pain   We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

Thai Officials Ban Bangkok’s World Famous Street Food

Paz, 23.04.2017 - 00:02
Bangkok, Thailand, is known for having some of the best street food in the world. But officials have announced plans to ban food vendors in an effort to clean up the city.  An assistant to Bangkok’s governor told The Nation newspaper the move is meant to improve the appearance, walkability and safety of city streets. “The street vendors have seized the pavement space for too long and we already provide them space to sell food and other products legally in the market,” the assistant said. “So there will be no let-up in this operation - every street vendor will have to move out.” Bangkok was recently named the world’s finest street food location for the second year by Cable News Network (CNN). Forbes magazine also rated Bangkok number one for its street food. The lifestyle website Thrillist placed it second, behind Singapore. Even the Tourism Authority of Thailand put out a video in 2015 that advertised Bangkok’s famous street food. CNN said it is “impossible to avoid street food in Bangkok.” It noted that vendors across the city change locations throughout the day to serve as many people as possible. Vendors can be found in all of Bangkok’s busiest areas. They serve everyone from business people to tourists to local citizens. The chairs and tables are basic. Customers have to deal with Bangkok’s extreme heat and polluted air while they eat. But the tasty food keeps people coming back again and again. Nont Nontskiul is a financial worker in Bangkok. He lives in a part of the city where street vendors will be some of the first to be removed. He told the Associated Press that, "even people who eat at pricey restaurants every day can't avoid street food. It's faster, tastes better, and costs less than half the price." Observers say local officials in Thailand have been strengthened by the military government that has ruled the country since a 2014 coup. It launched a campaign to “clean up society.” Efforts have included crackdowns on corrupt politicians, drugs and gambling. Critics of the street food clean-up campaign say low-income people – including food vendors and their customers -- will be most affected by the ban. They have called on the government to do more to help the vendors keep their businesses going in a legal way. Ubolwattana Mingkwan is a coffee vendor in Bangkok. She charges 85 cents for a cup of coffee. She says she cannot afford the cost of rent required to do business in a government-approved area. "I've asked city officials for help and understanding," she told the Associated Press. "All they say now is 'no, no, no.' They've already received their orders." An opinion article in the Bangkok Post said the ban will hurt working-class people. The writer of the article wrote, “While many seem worried that Bangkok ‘charm’ will be wiped from the tourism map, I’m more worried about the disappearance of affordable food choices for average men and women, especially low-income earners.” I’m Jonathan Evans.   Bryan Lynn adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on material from the Associated Press, Reuters, The Nation and Bangkok Post newspapers. Ashley Thompson was the editor. Where have you experienced the best street food in the world? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page. ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   vendor – n. person who sells something outside walkability – adj. how easy something is for a person to walk through pavement – n. the hard surface of a road basic – adj. not including anything special or extra crackdown – n. attempt to stop activities or punish people for doing something that is now allowed gambling – n. to risk money while taking part in a game, race or competition income – n. money a person earns from working charm – n. a quality that makes something very likeable or attractive affordable – adj. something with a price most people can pay  

Myanmar Has New Education Plan, But Not All Are Happy

Paz, 23.04.2017 - 00:00
Myanmar is launching a long-term plan to improve its education system after years of neglect under its former military leaders. The National Education Strategic Plan (NESP) aims to improve teaching and learning for all education levels, from kindergarten to universities. The plan runs through 2021. The plan seeks to extend basic education by two years to a total of 13 years. Other changes include new curriculums, child-centered learning and interactive classrooms. Many have praised the plan as an important start for developing a modern education system. But education experts note that there will be issues, including high costs. Some experts have criticized the plan for failing to include educators, civic organizations and ethnic minorities in the decision-making. The plan took more than three years to develop and has received financial assistance from international donors and education advisors. Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi presented the plan in February. She said the changes will be extremely important to Myanmar's social and economic development. And she asked everyone to think about what is needed to help the plan succeed. Bertrand Bainvel is the Myanmar representative for the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, or UNICEF. He said the launch was "a historic moment" for the country's education system. Costly improvements Myanmar's education system was one of Asia's best until the military took power in 1962. The military government sharply reduced spending. It also made rote learning the main learning style. And, it made huge cuts to higher education to avoid the possibility of student political movements.   It will be costly for the Myanmar government to launch the new education plan. It will cost more than $2.1 billion a year for just 80 percent of the proposed plan. Last year, the Myanmar government spent $1.13 billion on education. Mael Raynaud is an expert from the Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation. He said finding the financial support and professionals needed to start the plan will be a long-term challenge. Raynaud explained that it took 20 years for Indonesia, for example, to provide money for education comparable to East Asian and Western countries. Myanmar will also need time to train teachers, professors, and educational employees, he said. Many educators not included Raynaud said another major issue will be inclusion. In Myanmar, many Buddhist schools and civil and ethnic organizations offer education to poor students and children in rural ethnic areas. And rebel groups, like the Kachin, Karen and Mon, teach their own languages and culture in areas under their control. Thein Lwin is a former member of the democratic government and an education expert with the National Network for Education Reform (NNER). According to Lwin, the government provides very few ethnic language teaching programs and curriculums. "The difficulties are that ethnic languages are taught only in evening class, not in the school hours; Myanmar reader texts are translated into ethnic languages for teaching; and [there is a] lack of teachers for ethnic languages," he wrote. Lwin said teaching ethnic languages greatly reduces the problem of students dropping out – a big problem in Myanmar's ethnic regions. Kim Jolliffe is a political researcher who studied laws on social services for ethnic groups. Jolliffe said the new education plan's "clear strengths" are its move to child-centered learning and learning that centers on results. He said this could help all civic and ethnic education programs. I'm Alice Bryant.   Paul Vrieze wrote this story for VOA News. Alice Bryant adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor. __________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   inclusion - n. to make someone or something a part of something curriculum - n. the courses that are taught by a school, college, etc. interactive - adj. requiring people to talk with each other or do things together rote learning - n. the process of learning something by repeating it many times without thinking about it or fully understanding it text - n. the words that make up the main part of a book, magazine, newspaper, Web site, etc. drop out - v. to stop going to a school, college or university before finishing

France Attack Leads To Increased Security Ahead of Weekend Election

Cts, 22.04.2017 - 00:03
  Security has been tightened across France, after a suspected terrorist attack killed a police officer ahead of the country’s presidential election on Sunday.   A gunman shot and killed a policeman and wounded two other officers in the attack Thursday night in Paris. Officials say the gunman opened fire with an automatic weapon on a police vehicle on the city’s famous Champs-Elysees. The gunman then fled and was killed by police in a gun battle that injured the two officers. A German tourist was also injured. Officials told the Associated Press the gunman was detained in February for threatening police, but was let go. He was also reportedly convicted in the past of attempted murder in the shootings of two police officers.   French President Francois Hollande called the attack "terrorist-related." The Islamic State (IS) terror group claimed that one of its "fighters" had carried out the attack. But the group identified the gunman as a Belgian national, while French officials believe he was a French citizen. The shooting was the latest in a series of attacks by Muslim extremists in France in recent years. The attacks have killed more than 230 people. The Paris attack came as the presidential campaign was coming to an end, with voting in the first round set to begin Sunday. President Hollande said the country’s security forces were committed to protecting the election process. "We shall be of the utmost vigilance," he said in a statement. Issues in the presidential campaign Terrorism and national security have been major issues throughout the presidential campaign. Candidates have also focused on France’s future in the European Union, a weakening economy and high unemployment. Four candidates have emerged as the top contenders. The two receiving the most votes will advance to a runoff election to be held May 7. One of the leading candidates is far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who has pushed anti-EU, anti-immigration measures. She said the Paris attack showed the current government is weak on national security. She promised to beat “Islamic terrorism.”   Le Pen, leader of the National Front party, urged the outgoing Socialist government to immediately re-establish border controls. French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve accused her of trying to politicize the Paris attack. Current opinion surveys show Le Pen is running a close second behind Emmanuel Macron, a former economy minister. He is seen as a centrist candidate, running without major party backing. In a video posted after the attack, Macron said the French people must not give in to fear, division and intimidation. He said the goal of terrorists was to “destabilize” the country. He added that it was the role of president and commander-in-chief to protect the French people from enemies and said, “I am ready.”   Macron has called for an increase in police and military forces to improve national security. He also wants to strengthen intelligence services and step up French military operations against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Conservative Francois Fillon and far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon each have about 20 percent support. A new opinion survey showed up to 30 percent of French voters were still undecided going into Sunday’s vote.   Fillon also spoke about the latest attack. He wants to continue a state of emergency put in place after a series of deadly attacks in November 2015. "The fight for the French people's freedom and security will be mine. This must be a priority," he said. Melenchon is running for president for the second time after finishing in fourth place five years ago. He has promised to tax the rich and renegotiate France's role in EU and international trade agreements. He also wants to give more power to parliament and stop the use of nuclear power, the source of nearly 80 percent of France’s electricity. I’m Bryan Lynn. Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on material from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse. Hai Do 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   utmost – adj. greatest or highest in degree vigilance – n. carefully watching for problems or signs of danger runoff – n. second or final election for the top candidates intimidation – n. intentional attempt to make someone afraid emerge - v. to become known or regarded as something​ step up - phrasal verb. to increase in amount or speed​ priority – n. something important to be dealt with before other things  

Popular Vietnamese Song Again Permitted in Public

Cts, 22.04.2017 - 00:00
Hanoi’s decision to ban public performances of a popular Vietnamese anti-war song did not go over very well.

Venezuelans Promise To Continue Protests

Per, 20.04.2017 - 23:58
Opponents of the Venezuelan government have promised to continue street protests aimed at forcing out President Nicolas Maduro. The opposition warning came a day after at least two people were killed and hundreds arrested in Venezuela’s largest anti-government demonstrations in years. Thousands of Venezuelans filled the main streets of the capital, Caracas, on Wednesday. Many demonstrated in support of the president. Many others protested against Maduro and socialist policies. Security forces armed with tear gas were deployed in a neighborhood on the west side of Caracas. One teenager shot in the head near an anti-government protest died while doctors operated on him. Pro-government militias were blamed for his death, as well as the killing of a woman in the city of San Cristobal. Venezuelan officials are investigating the events leading up to both deaths. A National Guard soldier was reported killed during protests in Miranda state, near Caracas. At least eight people have been killed since the political unrest started three weeks ago. Wednesday’s protest fell on an important date for Venezuelans. On April 19, 1810, Venezuelans began their drive for independence from Spain. U.S. reaction In Washington, United States officials are worried the Venezuelan government is working to suppress the opposition. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said “We are concerned that the government of Maduro is violating its own constitution and not allowing the opposition to have their voices heard, nor allowing them to organize in a way that expressed the views of the Venezuelan people.” “We are concerned about that situation,” he added. “We’re watching it closely and working with others … to communicate those concerns to them.” Tillerson spoke at the State Department on Wednesday. In recent protests, security forces have fired rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons. The demonstrations began after a Venezuelan Supreme Court ruling on March 30. The court said it would take away the legislative powers of the opposition-controlled National Assembly. However, the court overturned its position after national and international criticism about an attempt to seize power. Opponents call for democratic customs Maduro's opponents gathered in Caracas on Wednesday to pressure his administration to respect the assembly's autonomy. They also want the government to hold long-delayed elections, free political prisoners and restore other democratic customs. The National Socialist Party has ruled Venezuela for 17 years. Economic pressures have grown in recent years. The price of oil, Venezuela's chief export, began falling in 2014. Venezuelans also face severe shortages of food, medicine and basic goods. In related news, the American car manufacturer General Motors has stopped doing business in Venezuela after the government took control of its only factory in the country. In a statement Thursday, the company said vehicles and other property were also seized, “causing irreparable damage to the company.” I’m Jonathan Evans.   Alvaro Algarra wrote this story for VOA News.com with contributions from Nike Ching. Jonathan Evans adapted the report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. ______________________________________________________________ Words in this Story   autonomy – n. the power or right of a country or group to govern itself socialist – adj. of or related to a system in which there is no private property tear gas – n. a liquid or gaseous substance that is used mainly to break up protests; the substance causes an allergic reaction in the body allow – v. to permit; to let view – n. the act of seeing or watching something; a pictorial image  



Perşembe, 27.04.2017
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