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North, South Korea to March Together at Winter Olympics

Ça, 17.01.2018 - 23:00
North and South Korea have agreed to march together in the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Negotiators for the North and South announced the deal Wednesday after talks in Panmunjom on the border between the countries. The negotiators also said that the two Koreas will compete as one team in the women’s ice hockey event. North Korea plans to send a more than 400 member delegation to South Korea for the winter games in Pyeongchang. The delegation will include 230 cheerleaders and a 30-member team for a taekwondo demonstration. The North also said it plans to send a delegation of about 150 to Pyeongchang for the 2018 Paralympics Games, which are to be held in March. The two Koreas released a joint statement after their talks on Wednesday. Many details of the plan have yet to be discussed with the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Two North Korean figure skaters were chosen earlier to compete at the winter Olympics. The statement did not confirm their participation. However, the IOC said recently that it has “kept the door open” for North Korea to take part at Pyeongchang. IOC officials are set to meet on January 20 in Lausanne, Switzerland. The group will discuss details of the joint team and North Korea’s participation. In a statement, the IOC said it was considering several proposals. “There are many considerations with regard to the impact of these proposals on the other participating NOCs (national Olympic committees) and athletes,” it said. The Winter Games will take place from February 9 to the 25th. It has been nearly 12 years (Feb 10 2006) since North and South Korea marched together at the Olympics. North Korea’s participation next month would be the North’s first appearance in any Olympic Games held in the South. North Korea boycotted the Seoul Summer Olympics in 1988. I’m Mario Ritter.   Esha Sarai reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted her report for Learning English. His story includes information from the Associated Press and Reuters. George Grow was the editor. _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   participation –n. to be involved with others in doing something, to take part in an activity or event with others impact –n. to have a strong or meaningful effect We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

Bitcoin Loses Half of Its Value

Ça, 17.01.2018 - 22:55
The price of Bitcoin dropped below $10,000 on Wednesday. Bitcoin is the world’s best-known cryptocurrency. But, it has lost half of its value from the record price set last month. The digital currency was valued at over $19,000 last December. On Wednesday, Bloomberg financial service said the price dropped to about $9,600. Charles Hayter is a founder of Cryptocompare, a business that owns cryptocurrencies. He told Reuters, “There is a lot of panic in the market. People are selling.” He said the fall in the value of bitcoin is related to uncertainty about whether governments will try to set rules for its use. Bitcoin is different from national currencies, which are supported by governments and central banks. Bitcoin is stored as a line of computer code. It is not printed on paper or something you can hold like a coin. Computers keep a global record of how each bitcoin is exchanged so that ownership and transactions can be confirmed. Last week, the South Korean government said that it is considering measures to ban trading of cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin. Officials also are expected to debate the rise of bitcoin at the upcoming G20 summit, a meeting of the world’s major economic powers, in Argentina in March. Wild price swings In January 2017, one bitcoin was worth around $1,000. In April, the Japanese government recognized bitcoin as a legal currency for settlement of debts. As Venezuela’s national currency loses value, Venezuelans have increasingly turned to bitcoin for daily use. And North Korean computer hackers are believed to be stealing bitcoins from exchanges in South Korea. The digital currency reached its highest level in December after the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission permitted trading in bitcoin futures. Futures are financial agreements for trading valuable property at set prices. Warren Buffett is an influential American investor and one of the richest men in the world. Last week, he warned: "In terms of cryptocurrencies, generally, I can say with almost certainty that they will come to a bad ending." Some observers say the recent drop in value shows that bitcoin was overpriced. Others welcome government rules and expect the extreme price changes to continue. The price of bitcoin has dropped before. Marc Singer is an adviser with the investment company Singer Xenos. He noted that bitcoin lost 93 percent of its value in 2011 and half its value in 2015. Christopher Keshian is with the APEX Token Fund, an investment group. He told Reuters that the sharp change in value “is an expected, and important, part of the journey to becoming” an accepted asset. He expected sharp changes in value to continue and that the price of bitcoin would rise again. On Wednesday, Reuters reported that experts at Citi, an American financial company, said bitcoin could lose half of its value again, to about $5,000. I’m Jonathan Evans.   Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on Reuters and other news reports. Mario Ritter was the editor. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. _____________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   cryptocurrency –n. a form of money that only exists electronically founder –n. a person who establishes something meant to last for a long time hacker –n. someone who gains access to digital information or computer systems without permission code –n. a set of instructions for a computer transaction –n. a business deal involving an exchange asset –n. something of value

Japan Gets False Missile Warning, After Hawaii Incident

Sa, 16.01.2018 - 23:00
The Japanese public broadcaster NHK mistakenly sent out a message Tuesday warning of a likely North Korean missile launch. The false alarm for a missile attack was the second in the Pacific area since the U.S. state of Hawaii gave a mistaken warning on Saturday. NHK sent the message out on its website and through its mobile telephone app at 9:55 UTC. The message said, “North Korea likely to have launched a missile.” The warning urged people to take shelter in buildings or underground. About 10 minutes later, NHK sent out another message calling the alert a mistake. NHK blamed human error for the alert. There were no immediate reports of widespread panic as a result of the false warning. Similar to false alarm in Hawaii The event in Japan was somewhat like one that took place earlier in Hawaii over the weekend. However, in the U.S. Pacific island state, the Hawaii State Emergency Management Agency released the alert. It warned of a “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII.” The alert urged people to immediately seek shelter saying the message was not a test. Hotel workers sent guests into basements and people fled and struggled to find places to take shelter as a result of the wrong message. The mistaken alert was discovered within 20 minutes. But it took about 38 minutes for officials to send a correction. The state’s governor David Ige said the false alarm was sent out during an employee shift change. He added that there was no automated process to let people know that the warning was false. The governor apologized and said officials were taking steps to ensure that such a false alarm does not happen again. Hawaiian Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard criticized officials for the long delay in correcting the mistake. She said the delay “is something that has to be fixed, corrected with people held accountable.” In November, North Korea tested a ballistic missile that, officials say, could reach all of the U.S. mainland. It was the latest in a series of long distance missile launches by the North. Hawaii is home to the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Command and its Pacific Fleet. In December, the state restarted its monthly tests of a warning siren system to warn residents of any coming nuclear attack. I’m Mario Ritter.   Mario Ritter adapted this report for VOA Learning English with materials from Reuters and other sources. Hai Do was the editor. _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   false alarm –n. a warning of danger that does not exist app –n. (application) a computer program designed to do a specific task or set of tasks alert –n. something like a message or loud sound that tells people of danger shift –n. a planned or scheduled period of time that someone works automated –adj. done automatically by a machine or system, not done by a person siren –n. device that make loud sounds that are meant to warn people of danger We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

Bangladesh to Send Rohingya Back to Myanmar

Sa, 16.01.2018 - 22:57
  Myanmar and Bangladesh have agreed on a plan to send refugees from Myanmar back to the country within the next two years. The refugees, Rohingya Muslims, fled across the border last year to escape a military campaign in Rakhine state. Statements from both countries said the agreement calls for Bangladesh to set up five transit camps on its side of the border. The camps are expected to begin sending refugees to two reception centers in Rakhine state as early as next Tuesday, January 23. Myanmar said it would build a transit camp that can hold up to 30,000 returnees. About 650,000 Rohingya have entered Bangladesh since last August. Many now live in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district. Humanitarian groups say many children there are suffering a number of health problems because of a poor diet and poor living conditions. The refugees have told human rights groups they fled to escape numerous attacks carried out by Myanmar security forces. They accuse the security forces of burning down homes and whole villages, raping women and shooting some people for no apparent reason. The United Nations has described the reported actions as "a textbook case of ethnic cleansing." Myanmar’s military has cleared itself of any abuses. The military says it carried out the campaign to answer attacks on police. And the government dismisses the reported abuses, claiming they are overestimated. Bangladesh said the process would attempt to first return “family units” and children who have lost parents. It would also give preference to “children born out of unwarranted incidence,” a term used to describe children born as a result of rape. Bangladesh’s foreign ministry said the agreement showed Myanmar had demonstrated its “commitment to stop (the) outflow of Myanmar residents to Bangladesh.” A spokesman for the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said the Rohingya should only return voluntarily when they feel it is safe to do so. “Major challenges have to be overcome,” the spokesman said. Rights group Amnesty International said it believes it is too soon to begin returning refugees. In a statement on Tuesday, the group said the new agreement does not guarantee the safety of refugees once they return to Myanmar. "The obfuscation and denials of the Myanmar authorities give no reason to hope that the rights of returning Rohingya would be protected, or that the reasons for their original flight no longer exist," the statement said. Amnesty added that “any forcible returns would be a violation of international law." The Rohingya have been denied citizenship and other rights in Myanmar, a country where Buddhists are the majority population. Myanmar considers them to be immigrants from Bangladesh. However, many Rohingya families have lived in Myanmar for generations. I’m Bryan Lynn.   The Reuter news agency and VOANews.com reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted this story 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   transit – n. the moving of people from one place to another atrocity – n. very cruel or terrible act or action unwarranted – adj. not necessary or appropriate obfuscation – n. making something less clear and harder to understand, especially intentionally challenge – n. a difficult problem; a refusal to accept something as true textbook – n. a book used in the study of a subject reception – n. the act of receiving  

Saudi Arabia Holds Car Show Just for Women

Sa, 16.01.2018 - 22:55
  Car manufacturers are wasting no time preparing for the day when Saudi Arabian women will be permitted to drive. The first car show just for women was recently held at a shopping center in the western coastal city of Jeddah. The event came a few months after Saudi Arabia’s King Salman ordered an end to a longtime ban on women drivers. An announcement in September said the order to give women legal permission to drive would be carried out by June 2018. Pink, orange and yellow balloons were placed in the showroom to welcome the women. Attendees were seen looking at different kinds of vehicles. Many sat inside the cars and some even posed for photos and selfies in front of their favorite models.​ One possible customer, Ghada al-Ali, said the car show was “a big deal” because it was the first such event to be held in the kingdom. “I’ve always been interested in cars, but we didn’t have the ability to drive,” she said. “Now I’m very interested in buying a car.” Another visitor said the main thing she liked about the car show is that it emphasized the idea of a woman driving a car. She added that it was also a good way for the whole family to get to learn about all the models. “Before you start driving, you need to know more about cars,” she said. Sharifa Mohammad supervised saleswomen at the event. She said the place where the show was held made perfect sense. “This whole mall is run by women anyway. All the cashiers are women. Everyone in the restaurants are women.” Saudi Arabia’s decision to end the ban on women drivers is part of a larger effort by the country’s 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He has proposed many economic and social reforms. Some reforms have faced opposition from conservative clergymen with large followings. One recent government decision gave women the right to attend events at what were once male-only sports stadiums. Another lifted a ban on movie theaters.   I’m Bryan Lynn.   Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from Reuters and Agence France-Presse. Mario Ritter 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   selfie – n. a picture that you take of yourself especially by using the camera on your smartphone​ customer – n. someone who buys goods or services from a business emphasize – v. to place special emphasis on something mall – n. large building or group of buildings containing different stores cashier – n. a person who takes in or gives out money in a store or other business  

Erdogan: NATO Must Take Stance against US

Sa, 16.01.2018 - 20:00
Turkey’s president has called on the country’s defense allies to take a stance against an American plan for a Kurdish-led border security force in Syria. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, should oppose such a force. The United States and its partners want to establish the security force to control the border area between Syria, Iraq and Turkey. The move is part of the United States-led effort against the Islamic State group often called IS. Syrian Kurdish militia are to lead the new security force, which is expected to reach 30,000 members in the next few years. Turkey strongly opposes a Kurdish-led militia However, Turkey has been threatening to launch a military offensive in Syria against Kurdish militia there. Turkey considers them to be terrorists because of their ties to outlawed Kurdish rebels fighting Turkey. On Monday, Erdogan accused the United States of creating a “terror army” in Syria, along the border with Turkey. He said Turkey would destroy this army “before it’s even born.” Erdogan addressed members of his ruling party on Tuesday. During his speech, he said: “Hey NATO! You are obliged to make a stance against those who harass and violate the borders of your members.” Both Turkey and the U.S. are NATO members. NATO called Turkey “a highly valued ally” and said the alliance was committed to Turkey’s defense. However, it said that the matter was an issue for the anti-IS coalition led by the U.S. Ties between Turkey and the United States have worsened over U.S. support of the Kurdish militia. Turkey says the Kurdish People’s Defense Units, or YPG, is a major threat to its security. But the U.S. has relied on Kurdish militia with ties to the YPG to defeat the Islamic State terror group. The U.S. also has said the new Kurdish-led security force is important to prevent the return of the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. Russia, a major force in the area, opposed the U.S. plan for a border security force. It said the force could lead to the splitting up of Syria. The Syrian government called the U.S. plan an attack on Syrian sovereignty. It promised to win back control of the whole country and remove any form of US-backed Syrian Kurdish force. Erdogan said on Tuesday that Turkey is planning an attack on the Kurdish-controlled area of Afrin in northern Syria. Turkey has already moved more troops to its border and fired artillery at the city in recent weeks. The Turkish president added that Turkey would conduct the operation in Afrin with Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces. Erdogan was asked if he planned to discuss the Kurdish-led border force with U.S. President Donald Trump. But, he said he had no plans to call the U.S. leader. The state-operated Anadolu Agency reported Erdogan’s comments. He said, “We discussed the issue before. He said he would get back to me. I won’t call him as long as he does not get back to me.”  I’m Jonathan Evans.   Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on AP news and other reports. Mario Ritter was the editor. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   take a stance –idiom to state a position on some issue of importance obliged –adj. required to do something harass –v. to make repeated attacks against an enemy rely –v. to depend on, to need for support sovereignty –n. to be independent and have the right to govern oneself     

UN: Technology Threatens Whistled Language in Turkey

Pzt, 15.01.2018 - 23:00
  The United Nations is calling for urgent action to protect a whistled language used in a mountainous area of Turkey. The UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, has identified the “bird language” as an endangered cultural heritage. UNESCO noted that technological developments, as well as social and economic changes, have led to a drop in the number of people who communicate in this way. It also noted a drop in the number of areas where the language is spoken. The UN agency placed much of the blame on the use of mobile phones. A whistled language is a highly-developed method of communication. People use whistling sounds in place of words. The language was created as a way to communicate across great distances in difficult mountain conditions.  Most whistling sounds are created by blowing air through the lips and teeth. Sometimes fingers and the tongue are also used to make different or louder sounds. To communicate, people use whistling to simulate, or create, the sound of some words. They also use sound patterns, repeating certain sounds, to represent other common words and expressions. New words and terms can be added to keep up with changes in spoken language and cultural life. UNESCO estimates the whistled language is spoken or understood by about 10,000 people in the Eastern Black Sea area of northern Turkey. However, only a small number of villagers still use the language. Currently, officials estimate it is mostly only spoken in a small community in Giresun province. UN officials say members of the community consider the practice a major part of their cultural identity. They believe using the language helps strengthen interpersonal communication and solidarity. UNESCO called whistled language “an environmentally friendly form of communication.” It added the language can make life easier and “reinforce social bonds for the people living in the region.” With the new generation’s lack of interest in whistled language, there is the risk it will eventually be “torn from its natural environment, becoming an artificial practice,” UNESCO said. In Turkey, at least one group has been formed to find ways to keep the whistled language strong. The group is working to create a plan for passing the language on to future generations. It will also seek to raise international recognition of the issue. In addition, UNESCO said scientific research will be carried out to support efforts to continue the whistled language.     Other areas also have used whistled languages. In 2009, UNESCO expressed concerns about one such language disappearing from Spain’s Canary Islands. The language, called Silbo Gomero, was based on Castilian Spanish. It was handed down from one generation to the next over many centuries. UNESCO said it was the only whistled language in the world to be fully developed and practiced in a community of more than 22,000 people. I’m Bryan Lynn.   Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor. Would you be willing to learn a whistled language? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page. ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   whistle – v. to make a high sound by blowing air through your lips or teeth heritage – n. the traditions, achievements, beliefs, etc., that are part of the history of a group or nation pattern – n. a repeated form; something that happens in a repeated way practice – n. something that is done often; a custom or tradition solidarity – n. feeling of unity between people who have the same interests, goals, etc. bond – n. something shared between people or groups that forms a connection between them artificial – adj. not natural, but instead made by people  

China’s Silk Road Plan Facing Problems

Pzt, 15.01.2018 - 22:59
  China’s plan for a modern Silk Road linking Asia and Europe hit a pothole recently in Pakistan. Pakistan and China have good relations; some Pakistani officials even call China their “Iron Brother.” China has played an even bigger role in the country since U.S. President Donald Trump decided last week to suspend security assistance to Pakistan. Yet, plans for the countries to build a $14-billion dam on the Indus River were put in doubt, after Pakistan’s water authority announced China wanted to own part of the project. China has denied making the demand. However, the water authority rejected China’s reported demand as against Pakistani interests, and withdrew Pakistan from the dam project. Belt and Road Initiative From Pakistan to Hungary to Tanzania, projects under Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road Initiative” are being canceled, renegotiated or delayed. Host countries have disputed costs and benefits that they would receive.  The “Belt and Road Initiative” is a plan to build projects across 65 countries, from the South Pacific through Asia to Africa and Europe. Such projects include oil drilling in Siberia, new ports in Southeast Asia, railways in Eastern Europe and power plants in the Middle East. The United States, Russia and India view the Belt and Road initiative as a way for China to expand its influence. Many countries have welcomed plans to build infrastructure that would keep their economies growing. Nations such as Japan have given or lent billions of dollars for development through the Asian Development Bank. China, however, remains the largest or only source of money for many projects.​ Many projects cancelled or delayed In November, Nepal canceled plans for Chinese companies to build a $2.5-billion dam. Officials said building contracts for the Budhi Gandaki Hydro Electric Project violated rules that require offers from numerous bidders. The European Union is also looking into whether Hungary awarded contracts to Chinese builders for a high-speed railway to Serbia without competing bids. In Myanmar, plans for a Chinese oil company to build a $3-billion refinery were canceled in November because of financing problems. In Thailand, work on a $15-billion high-speed railway was delayed in 2016 following complaints that not enough business went to Thai companies. In Tanzania, the government has reopened negotiations with China and the gulf state of Oman over ownership of a planned $11-billion port in the city of Bagamoyo. Tanzania wants to make sure its people get more than just taxes collected from the port. Even Pakistan, one of China’s friendliest neighbors, has failed to agree on key projects. Among them are a $10-billion railway in Karachi and a $260-million airport for Gwadar. Limited success There is no official list of all Belt and Road projects. However, BMI Research has created a list of $1.8 trillion worth infrastructure investments across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Christian Zhang is with BMI Research. He said, “it’s probably too early to say at this point how much of the overall initiative will actually be implemented.” Kerry Brown is a Chinese politics professor at King’s College London. He said China has faced and may continue to face “a lot of disagreements and misunderstandings.” Brown added, “It’s hard to think of a big, successful project the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ has led to at the moment.” Despite the setbacks, Chinese officials say most Belt and Road projects are moving ahead with few problems. The state-run China Development Bank announced in 2015 it had set aside $890 billion for more than 900 projects across 60 countries in gas, minerals, power, telecommunications, infrastructure and farming. The Export-Import Bank of China said it would support 1,000 projects in 49 countries. And last November, deputy commerce minister Li Chenggang said that work on pipelines to deliver oil and gas from Russia and Central Asia is making “steady progress.” I'm Ashley Thompson. And I'm Caty Weaver.   Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on an Associated Press report. Ashley Thompson was the editor. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. _________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   hit a pothole - idiom. to face unexpected challenge (pothole: a deep, round hole in a road or some other surface (such as the bottom of a river) initiative - n. a plan or program host - n. a person who entertain guests or country that receive visitors bidder - n. a person who offer to pay a certain price refinery - n. a place where something like oil is refined implement - v. to begin to work on a plan despite - preposition, used to say that something happens or is true steady - adj. lasting or continuing

Children of Terror Left Behind in Iraq

Pzt, 15.01.2018 - 22:58
  “Maya” is a plump, smiling child less than two years old. Her parents are dead and she might never learn about them. Maya is not her real name. Her mother and father were suicide bombers for the Islamic State group. Her four siblings were among their victims. Maya now lives at an orphanage in the Iraqi city of Mosul. "She was skin and bones when we got her," says Sukaina Mohammed, director of the Department of Women and Children in the Nineveh province. Mohammed points to another child. "That baby had six broken ribs when she arrived," she says. As Iraqi officials deal with the children IS left behind — orphans, children of sex slaves and children of foreign fighters — aid workers say they want to protect the youngest ones from their painful beginnings. None of the small children born of or raised by IS supporters are considered a threat to society. However, officials say many people will denounce them anyway. Sukaina Mohammed says Maya's best chance for happiness is if she and those who might adopt her know nothing about her parents. "I don't tell people which babies' parents were IS militants," Mohammed explains, "because if someone wants revenge on IS, they might hate the children." The less lucky ones The Haj Ali refugee camp in northern Iraq is home to many of the wives and children of IS fighters who are now dead or in jail. Dalal Tariq is an aid worker with the International Organization for Migration. She says the children were terrified when they arrived at the camp. "They were afraid of the soldiers," she explains. "IS militants told them the soldiers would beat them up." Other children had watched their fathers die in battle and, in Tariq’s words, "they come here nearly destroyed." The IS war is now officially over in Iraq, and families living in the camp are not accused of any crimes. However, they cannot leave, says Hoda, the mother of three children. Her husband was an IS fighter before he was killed in an airstrike.  In her village, the children of IS are considered suspect, and local leaders ordered her not to return. "Even if my family comes here to visit me, they could be in danger."   Before they were found At the orphanage in Mosul, many children wait for the chance to be adopted.   "All the children we found were in a terrible state," explains Mohammed.  "I remember one time, we found a baby who was so thirsty, she died in the hospital after only a few days. She had no energy left to live." Some babies were rescued from the streets after being left in the sun as bait to bring Iraqi soldiers into the line of fire. Others were found in destroyed homes after their parents died fighting for IS.  There are also the children of rescued sex slaves, whose families will not accept them. Many children were just found alone in the wreckage left by airstrikes and battles in Mosul. One boy survived for seven days alone under a collapsed house. "Some we don't know about exactly," Mohammed later says, pointing to a girl about six years old. "She speaks only Turkish. We think she was kidnapped by Turkish militants in 2014." Foreign children Some countries are trying to get back the orphans of foreign IS fighters in Iraq and Syria. Last month, three children were sent to live temporarily with a family in France. Their mother and youngest sibling remain among the foreign wives and children of IS fighters held in Iraq. The non-profit group Human Rights Watch says there are 1,400 such detainees. Officials from Germany, Russia and other countries have requested the return of the children of their nationals. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says children are increasingly targets of fighting around the world. It says the young are also used as human shields, and forced to fight in battles.   "Children are being targeted and exposed to attacks and brutal violence in their homes, schools and playgrounds," noted Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s director of emergency programs. “Such brutality cannot be the new normal." I’m Caty Weaver.   VOA’s Heather Murdock wrote this story. Caty Weaver adapted her story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. _________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   plump – adj. having a full, rounded shape​ sibling – n. a brother or sister​ crib – n. a small bed with high sides for a baby​ revenge – n.  the act of doing something to hurt someone because that person did something that hurt you​ grenade – n. a small bomb that is designed to be thrown by someone or shot from a rifle​ adopt – v. to take a child of other parents legally as your own child​ thirsty – adj.  having an uncomfortable feeling because you need something to drink : feeling thirst​ bait – n. something (such as a piece of food) that is used to attract fish or animals so they can be caught​ expose – v. to cause (someone) to experience something or to be influenced or affected by something​ brutal – adj. extremely cruel or harsh​

High Patient Death Rates after Operations in African Hospitals

Pzt, 15.01.2018 - 22:00
  A new study shows that patients in African hospitals are two times as likely to die after doctors operate as the average death rate worldwide. More than 30 African researchers worked on the study. They examined records for all operations performed during a one-week period at 247 hospitals in 25 African countries. The researchers noted that while African patients were usually younger and at lower risk than average, 1 percent died of problems after elective surgery. The death rate worldwide is 0.5 percent. Bruce Biccard of the University of Cape Town was the lead writer of the study. He said, "It's really concerning when you see how high the mortality is, considering that the patients are generally fit and they're having a lot more minor surgeries." Biccard and the other researchers wrote that workforce and resource shortages across Africa are likely to affect patient deaths. Their findings were published in the journal The Lancet. The study found a severe shortage of African surgeons, obstetricians and anesthesiologists. Earlier research showed that fewer patients die after surgery when there are 20 to 40 specialists per 100,000 people. The new study found that Africa has an average of less than one specialist per 100,000 people. In addition to the high death rate, the report said, "the most alarming finding was how few people actually received surgery." Experts have estimated that 5 percent of the population needs surgery in a year. African hospitals on average performed less than one-twentieth of that number. The report noted that patients were receiving surgery later in the course of their diseases. Nearly 60 percent of the operations were urgent or emergency treatments. In industrial countries, the rate is about 25 percent. Most of the patients who died did so in the days after their surgery, not during the operation. Biccard said, "We're actually failing to recognize patients who are having complications in the post-op period. So a minor complication becomes a major complication." Biccard noted that increasing the number of doctors is an unlikely short-term solution. His group is working on a method "that will tell us before surgery which patients we think are going to get into trouble." The group is planning another study in 2019. I’m Jonathan Evans.   Steve Baragona reported this story for VOANews.com. Jonathan Evans adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. _________________________________________________________________ Words in this Story   anesthesiologist – n. a doctor who specializes in administering drugs that cause a person to lose feeling and to feel no pain in part or all of the body complication – n. disease or condition that happens in addition to another disease or condition; a problem that makes a disease or condition more dangerous or harder to treat obstetrician – n. a doctor who specializes in a branch of medicine that deals with the birth of children and with the care of women before, during, and after they give birth to children urgent – adj. very important and needing immediate attention surgery – n. a medical operation performed by a doctor or team of doctors mortality – n. the number of deaths in a given time or place fit – adj. being physically or mentally able resource – n. a supply of something; the ability to meet and deal with something course – n. movement from one point to another; an orderly series of actions

Venezuelans Seek Treasure in Polluted River

Paz, 14.01.2018 - 22:58
  Venezuela was once one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America. Today, images of poor Venezuelans eating from food waste in Caracas are evidence of the country’s deepening economic crisis. Young men and boys often search the dirty waters of the Guaire River for small pieces of metal that might help feed their families. One of those young men is 26-year-old Angel Villanueva. He searches the dirty, brown water for lost rings or other objects he may be able to trade for money.   “Working in the Guaire isn’t easy,” he told the Associated Press. “When it provides, it provides. When it takes, it takes your life.” The waters of the Guaire are known for being filthy. The river acts as a drain. It carries away rainwater from the streets and sewers, as well as industrial waste. Alejandro Velasco is a native of Caracas and teaches Latin American history at New York University. He says ,“As long as I can remember, the Guaire was this open sewage. It certainly seems to reflect the depth and extent of the desperation that this particular crisis has spawned.” Venezuelans have lived under socialist rule for nearly 20 years. During that period, food and oil production have dropped sharply. Poor organization of state resources and a drop in world oil prices have made many Venezuelans desperate. Each morning, people go to the Guaire River from nearby neighborhoods to search for treasure. Some cover their fingertips in tape to protect from cuts and infections. They largely ignore any possible long-term health effects from standing in dirty water for hours each day. Calls to clean up the river and the large amount of money already spent have had no result. In 2005, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez recognized the river’s filthy condition and promised a full cleanup. Seven years later, the Inter-American Development Bank provided a $300 million loan to build wastewater centers and treat waste that goes into the river. Nearly six years later, the water remains filthy. Bank officials refused to comment on the project. Venezuelan government leaders have also been silent on when the Guaire might be cleaned. Some parts of the river smell of sewage. Other parts produce a toxic, harmful smell. Most days, the treasure hunters go unnoticed by other people as they drive vehicles over the river on a major road. Angel Villanueva lives with his father in one of the poorest and most dangerous parts of Caracas. The son wanted to earn money, but he could only get low-paying jobs, such as cleaning the streets. The lowest legal wage for public employees in Venezuela is less than $7 a month. Food has become increasingly hard to find or very costly. One recent study estimated that 75 percent of Venezuelans lost an average of 8.7 kilograms last year. Angel Villanueva first started searching in the river six months ago. His first day’s work resulted in finding $20 worth of materials. People back in his neighborhood often tell him to keep away because he smells like the Guaire. Villanueva dreams of leaving Venezuela to find a better job. But for now he is taking his chances searching for treasure in the river. I'm Jonathan Evans.   Scott Smith reported this story for the Associated Press. Jonathan Evans adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. _________________________________________________________________ Words in this Story   desperation – n. a strong feeling of sadness, fear, and loss of hope filthy – adj. very dirty Latin America – n. South America and North America south of the U.S. resources – n. supplies of something such as money that someone has and can use when it is needed spawn – v. to cause something to develop or begin; to produce or create something

Indonesians Explore Plans to Move Capital

Paz, 14.01.2018 - 22:56
  For many years, Indonesians have talked and dreamed of moving their capital. Jakarta, on the island of Java, became the capital when Indonesia declared its independence from the Netherlands in the 1940s. The city, formerly called Batavia, was once an important Dutch colonial port. So nationalist leaders had an easy time agreeing on its home to the new Indonesian government. But since then, Indonesia’s capital has been an unending nightmare for city planners. Jakarta is the world’s second-largest metropolitan area. But it is sinking -- up to 18 centimeters every year. The design of the city and its road system has created a near-permanent traffic jam. The Jakarta Transportation Agency estimates those delays cost the government, businesses and the city’s residents $11 billion a year. Yet Jakarta remains Indonesia’s economic center. It is easily the largest city and provides more jobs than anywhere else in the country. The slow improvement of roads, public transportation and other infrastructure has led most Indonesians to wonder whether it is possible to move the capital. In 2017, after years of flooding, Indonesian President Joko Widodo asked for the National Development Planning Agency, or BAPPENAS, to study land on the island of Borneo. The main candidate for a new capital is Palangkaraya, a city in Central Kalimantan province. Years ago, even former president Sukarno imagined the city as Indonesians' capital. Widodo has said little about the project. Yet he admitted on Twitter last year that discussions have begun. “We are still carrying out the study on what it would take to relocate the capital,” said BAPPENAS Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro last year. “But it would be outside Java for sure.” The island of Java is the economic and population center of Indonesia, which has over 15,000 islands in all. “Preferably the new capital is in a central location within Indonesia, not too far East or West,” said Brodjonegoro. His comments would rule out Sumatra, the largest island. Sumatra is west of Java and home to several important cities and natural resources. Indonesia lies on what is known as the “Ring of Fire,” an area with many volcanoes, and where earthquakes are common. However, Borneo is farther away from the tectonic plates that cause most of the earthquakes and volcanic explosions. Last week, the governor of Central Kalimantan said that his province is preparing 500 hectares of land if the government decides to move the capital. Many countries have moved their capitals throughout modern history. One example is the United States. In 1800, the U.S. capital city was moved from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. In Southeast Asia, Myanmar, also known as Burma, moved its capital from Yangon to Naypyidaw in 2005. In North Africa, Egyptians are building a new capital in the desert outside Cairo. Some critics think the dream of moving Indonesia’s capital is part of a desire by some people to revisit the Sukarno era. Writer Johannes Nugroho believes Indonesians are experiencing a longing for Sukarno and his leadership. It was a “time when Indonesia was a major player on the international stage,” he says. “I think the desire to revisit Palangkaraya as a new capital city stems from the same nostalgia, to finish what Sukarno started.” The writer added that Sukarno thought Indonesians needed to break with the past and have a fresh start. There would be great economic and geopolitical costs to moving the capital from Java to Kalimantan. Most importantly, Indonesia shares Borneo with Malaysia and Brunei, and the political balance is delicate. Central Kalimantan has very low sea access for a nation of islands. “Political parties would have to move out,” noted Indonesian Vice President Yusuf Kalla last year. “Courts and Supreme Courts would also have to move, aside from the president. Military bases would also have to move. There would be hundreds of thousands who would need housing and offices,” he added. And finally, developing Palangkaraya or a nearby area would cause  environmental damage on Borneo. Palm oil and other industries have already cleared land, destroying forests where many animals lived. The island is home to many endangered species, such as the Borneo orangutan. Some Indonesians wonder if relocating the capital may mean simply moving problems from one island to another. I'm Susan Shand and I'm Dorothy Gundy.   Krithika Varagur reported this story for VOA. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning Engloish. Mario Ritter was the editor. _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   Infrastructure – n. the roads, structures and public services that are needed for a city of area to operate properly Delicate – adj. easily broken or damaged Tectonic plates - n. structures in the Earth’s surface that move, float, and break, causing earthquakes, volcanoes, Nightmare – n. a frightening dream Traffic jam – n. a situation where a long line of vehicles have stopped moving or are moving very slowly Location – n. a position or place Resource – n. something that can be used to increase one’s wealth Era – n. a time or period Nostalgia – n. a desire or longing for something from the past Access – n. permission or ability to en

China-led Group Wants More Development on Mekong River

Paz, 14.01.2018 - 22:55
  China and five Southeast Asian countries have set goals for developing the Mekong River area, but experts wonder if the group can succeed. Leaders of the five countries met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in early January in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. This was the second leaders’ meeting of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperative. Lancang is the Chinese name for the Mekong. The China-led cooperative was formed in 2015. All six countries on the Mekong River are part of the group. Other members are Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The Chinese premier said that his country would supply benefits to all the group’s members. “We talked about important principles in the meeting,” Li said. “We have to respect each other, and consider each other with equality for common development.” Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told reporters about plans to create centers for improving water supply and environmental cooperation. He did not provide additional details of the five-year development plan, however. On Thursday, China and Cambodia signed agreements to improve Cambodia’s infrastructure, including a $2 billion deal to build a new expressway. Radio Free Asia noted that, in exchange, Cambodia promised to support China’s goals, including its territorial claims in the South China Sea. Chinese state media say China plans to loan countries billions of dollars for projects on the Mekong. Yet the Lancang-Mekong Cooperative is not the first group to deal with Mekong River issues. The Mekong River Commission (MRC) was formed to guide development on the river. The older group describes itself as an “inter-governmental organization” that works directly with Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam “to jointly manage the shared water resources and the sustainable development of the Mekong River.” China is not a full member and not required to offer its proposals for dam projects to the group. The MRC has been criticized for not doing enough to stop harmful projects on the river. But it is unclear if the Lancang-Mekong Cooperative, or LMC, will do better. Some observers say the LMC is another plan to expand China’s influence in Southeast Asia. China has pushed its Belt and Road initiative, a development plan for Asia, Europe and even Africa. Officials say their aim is to support cooperation and development in many of China’s trading partners. However, the six members of the LMC find it difficult to agree on their individual development projects. Countries downstream -- where the Mekong is widest -- are concerned that too many dams will hurt fisheries and reduce water flow. In 2016, water levels in the Mekong Delta area were extremely low. The lack of water threatened Vietnam’s rice crops. China agreed to increase the flow of water from dams in its territory, causing water levels to rise. An important resource for Southeast Asia The Mekong is Southeast Asia’s longest river. It flows more than 4,000 kilometers from its beginnings in Tibet to its mouth in Vietnam. The Mekong is home to important fisheries. At least 60 million people depend on it for food. It also is important for transportation and energy. China has reportedly built eight dams on the Mekong. The government has plans for at least 20 more. Laos is building two dams and preparing a third, although MRC members have protested. Maureen Harris is Southeast Asia director for International Rivers, an environmental group. She said communities in Thailand and Laos have reported problems linked to the dams for years, but nothing was done. Harris said that, over the past 20 years, dams upstream have changed the natural flood-drought cycle of the river. She said they block dirt and other materials from flowing downstream and hurt ecosystems and fisheries. A 2009 study warned about overdeveloping the river and its tributaries. The study was prepared for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Researchers found that fish on the Mekong would decrease by half if all the proposed projects were built. These include 11 mainstream dams and 78 tributary dams. Ian Baird is an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin. He studies river fisheries on the Mekong. He said LMC’s members would like access to China’s money, but gaining respect and cooperation in the area is more difficult. “Are they willing to give up enough power and say (influence) to the other countries that will make them really want to support this initiative?” he asks. He says it will take time to see how well the cooperative works. I’m Mario Ritter.   David Boyle and Sun Narin reported this story for VOANews.com. Mario Ritter adapted their report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   benefit – n. a good outcome of some plan or activity principles – n. guiding beliefs about right and wrong or behavior manage – v. to direct someone or something sustainable - adj. using methods that do not completely use up resources initiative – n. an action, plan or program upstream – adj. or adj. in the direction opposite to the flow of water cycle – n. a process that repeats itself sediment – n. soil that is carried away by water ecosystems – n. environments and the life that depends on them tributaries – n. rivers and streams that flow into larger rivers We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

South African Grandmothers Are Boxing to Fight Old Age

Cts, 13.01.2018 - 22:56
Some older women in South Africa are fighting the effects of aging with boxing exercises. They call themselves the grannies. They belong to a boxing group near the South African capital, Johannesburg. The 75-to-80-year-old women are fighting the pains of aging while keeping their bodies fit. Mariam Barie is one of the boxing grannies. "The advice I give to other grannies like me is that they should leave the old way of telling themselves that they are old, and that they are grannies, and to try their best. Just because you are a granny does not mean you need to burden yourself with that word "granny." You need to wake yourself up and show that you are a granny with life." The group started five years ago with a special, aerobic exercise training program.  Nqobile Khumalo is one of the boxing trainers. “We were doing fitness…they saw my gloves. And then they just tried them on. And then since from there, they just never stopped.” Boxer Constance Guban seems to have turned back time. “I feel young. I feel like I’m 16, but my age is 80, yes.” Boxing is more than just good exercise for at least one of the grannies. Germina Maluleka learned recently that she has cancer. She says boxing gives her new hope for the future. "The gym has helped me through my illness. When I was starting out I had a problem with my feet. I used to have swollen feet. Since going to the gym I do not have that problem anymore.  I never used to have a problem with my knees, with my legs, but the gym helped me a lot." The trainers say the grannies are inspiring a younger generation to get fit at an earlier age. I’m Jonathan Evans.   Arash Arabasadi reported this story for VOANews. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor. _____________________________________________________________ Words in this Story   aerobic – adj. strengthening the heart and lungs by making them work hard for several minutes or more boxing – n. the sport of fighting someone with your hands while wearing very thick gloves burden – v.  to make (someone) hold or carry something heavy or accept or deal with something difficult granny – n. an informal term for grandmother inspiring - v.  making someone want to do something; to give someone an idea about what to do or create

Disease Spreading Among Rohingya at Refugee Camp

Cts, 13.01.2018 - 22:55
  Unclean water, crowded shelters and dirty conditions create a perfect environment at the Balukhali refugee camp for spread of preventable diseases. The camp is in Cox’s Bazaar, a town in southeastern Bangladesh. It is home to some of the estimated 650,000 Rohingya Muslims who fled unrest in neighboring Myanmar. More than 200 mobile vaccination teams have given about 900,000 doses of oral cholera vaccine to the refugees. However, another contagious bacterial infection, diphtheria, has appeared. "Diphtheria is a vaccine preventable disease,” notes Kate Nolan. She works for the international aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders. Nolan added that the appearance of diphtheria shows the Rohingya did not have good health care in Myanmar, also known as Burma. The disease often causes the buildup of a sticky grey-white substance in the nose or throat. The infection makes breathing difficult and damages the heart and central nervous system. Without diphtheria medication, death is possible. Navaratnasamy Paranietharan is the World Health Organization representative to Bangladesh. He says the refugees have low vaccination rates. He believes conditions in the camp could lead to the appearance of “infectious diseases like cholera, measles, rubella and diphtheria.” Health care in Myanmar is considered among the worst in the world, especially in areas where conflict and poverty have delayed medical development. The Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar's northern Rakhine state after militants attacked security forces in late August. Myanmar’s military answered the attack with an operation that some observers have called ethnic cleansing. Myanmar's government denies it is involved in ethnic cleansing. The government says a majority of the violence and burning of Rohingya villages was the work of Rohingya militants who attacked security forces. “Just a small amount of the needs were being met, even before the attacks in August," noted Chris Lewa, an expert on Rohingya. Lewa is with the Arakan Project, a human rights organization that studies and documents the situation. She said that health care in Rakhine state was very bad before the violence. According to Lewa, the Rohingya from northern Rakhine say Myanmar medical workers at government hospitals discriminate against them. And they said they face severe restrictions on movement when traveling to health care centers. Lewa pointed to Myanmar's Maungdaw District, where the army carried out what it called "clearance operations" after deadly militant attacks last year. Health centers set up by international non-governmental organizations in Maungdaw have been burned to the ground, Lewa said. She added that this will make it even more difficult for the Rohingya Muslims if and when they are allowed to return.” Currently, international non-governmental organizations are not permitted to operate in the areas outside Maungdaw. Doctors Without Borders has reacted to the spread of diphtheria in Bangladesh by building treatment centers at the Balukhali refugee camp. Nolan said doctors are concerned about public health at the camp. Now, those who have come in contact with the bacterium must get antibiotics and other drugs to prevent the further spread of the disease and kill it. "We need to find all the suspected cases in the camps and get them all here to start the antibiotic treatment and keep them isolated for 48 hours," said doctor Thomas Hansen. Because the disease spreads easily, medical workers must quarantine the sick and then visit the patient's family to know if they also have the disease. Doctors Without Borders and its health partners are working together to find and quarantine suspected cases. One of the biggest problems for health workers is getting to rural areas where the disease can spread. With the arrival of the 650,000 refugees, new camp housing is being built well beyond the main roadways. "They live in areas that are difficult to reach," said Dagne Hordvei, team leader with the Norwegian Red Cross. "We have an agreement with [Doctors Without Borders] that we take the measles patients from them, and they take the diphtheria patients, with lots of activity going out to the communities to try to reduce the speed of the spreading of diphtheria." As Bangladesh's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launches a vaccination campaign to prevent diphtheria, it appears that at least some of the young Rohingya will have protection from preventable diseases. As of December 21, Doctors Without Borders has observed more than 2,000 diphtheria cases in its health centers, and the number is rising. Most of the patients are between the ages of 5 and 14 years old. More than 20 Rohingya in Bangladesh have died from the disease. I'm Susan Shand.   _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   dose - n. the amount of a medicine, drug, or vitamin that is taken at one time contagious - adj. able to be passed from one person or animal to another by touching ethnic cleansing - n. the practice of removing or killing people who belong to an ethnic group that is different from the ruling group in a country or region isolate – v. to separate or set apart from others quarantine - n. the period of time during which a person or animal that has a disease or that might have a disease is kept away from others to prevent the disease from spreading    

Britain Hopes to Join Pacific Trade Deal

Cum, 12.01.2018 - 22:55
  British officials say they hope their country will one day join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. The TPP is currently being negotiated by 11 other countries. All 11 have a border facing either the Pacific Ocean or the South China Sea. The British government hopes trade with fast-growing economies will make up for any losses that may take place after it leaves the European Union (EU). Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, known as Brexit, is expected in 2019. On a recent trip to China, Britain’s Trade Minister, Liam Fox, suggested his country might one day join the TPP. “We don't know what the success of the TPP is going to yet look like, because it isn't yet negotiated,” Fox said. “So, it would be a little bit premature for us to be wanting to sign up to something that we're not sure what the final details will look like. However, we have said that we want to be an open, outward-looking country, and therefore it would be foolish for us to rule out any particular outcomes for the future,” he added. London sits some 7,000 kilometers from any Pacific coastline. So, is geography no longer an issue in 21st century trade? Not so, says economist Jonathan Portes. He works as a professor at Kings College London. Portes says, “There has been an argument put forward that, particularly as trade in services expands, and as a result of technology, it will matter considerably less in the future, and that seems to make a lot of sense. So far at least, the actual data and evidence don’t really support this contention. For whatever reason, geography at the moment seems to matter as much as it ever did,” he added. By withdrawing from the EU’s Single Market and Customs Union, Britain will leave a free trade agreement that makes up about half of its foreign trade. By comparison, the 11 countries now negotiating the TPP combined accepted less than eight percent of all British exports last year. Portes said it will take many years for Britain to profit from other trade deals. He added that British companies have close ties with the European Union. He thinks there will likely be problems because of Brexit. The countries negotiating the TPP include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan and Mexico. The others are New Zealand, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Barack Obama, former president of the United States, was a driving force behind TPP. But the next president, Donald Trump, pulled the United States out of the deal, saying it would be bad for America. Negotiations between the 11 remaining countries continue slowly. Because of the U.S. withdrawal, “the TPP has its own internal problems,” said Portes, adding it will be a lot of work to fix those issues. But Britain’s interest in the TPP has been welcomed by some of the countries involved, namely Australia. British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to visit Asia later this year in an attempt to strengthen relations before Brexit. I’m Susan Shand. _________________________________________________________________ Words in this Story   premature – adj. happening too soon or earlier than usual geography – n. an area of study that deals with the location of countries, cities, rivers, mountains, lakes, etc. contention – n. something (such as a belief, opinion, or idea) that is argued or stated outcome – n. results

Researchers Find 2,700-Year-Old 'Governor Seal' In Jerusalem

Cum, 12.01.2018 - 22:55
  Archaeologists in Israel have recovered a seal impression that they say confirms the existence of Jerusalem governors identified in ancient religious writings. The researchers say the impression was discovered in an archaeological project in the Western Wall plaza of Jerusalem. The small clay object has a message written in the ancient Hebrew language. It says 'Belonging to the governor of the city.’ First evidence of its kind The archaeologists say the impression could have been placed on shipments from the city leader to another leader or important person. For historians, the discovery from the First Temple-period of Jerusalem is evidence that the city had a governor at least 2,700 years ago. A Jerusalem governor is identified two times in The Bible, the holy book of Judaism and Christianity. Until now, there has never been any historical evidence of such a position. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah is with Israel’s Antiquity Authority. She says this is the first time that researchers have found evidence of the governor in an archeological dig around a structure from 2,700 years ago. The seal impression shows two men facing each other and wearing striped clothing. They are holding a round object between them, which might be the moon. Weksler-Bdolah says the meaning of the image is unclear. Archaeologists know that the moon was considered an object of worship in neighboring cultures. Yet this does not explain why the image would show the governor of Jerusalem in what appears to be a position of worship, showing respect to the moon. The archeologists discovered the clay object some time last year while they were examining dirt from the dig in Jerusalem's Old City.  An important discovery at a difficult time The seal impression does not have the name of Jerusalem on it. Yet archaeologists say the area where the impression was found proves that it shows a Jerusalem governor. They say it also proves that the city has been an important center of a Jewish state for around 3,000 years.  "The 'governor of the city' is reminded [identified] several times in the Bible in several cities. The 'governor of Jerusalem' is reminded [identified] twice, but we never found him actually in an archaeological excavation, so that's the big importance." The archaeologists are publicizing their discovery at a time of growing tension around Jerusalem. Recently, United States President Donald Trump recognized the city as Israel's capital. The official standing of Jerusalem is a sensitive issue in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinians want the eastern part of the city as the capital of their future state. I’m Phil Dierking.   Zlatica Hoke wrote this story for VOANews.com. Phil Dierking adapted her story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   clay - n. a heavy, sticky material from the earth that is made into different shapes and that becomes hard when it is baked or dried​ impression - n.  something (such as a design or a footprint) made by pressing or stamping a surface​ seal - n. an official mark that is stamped on paper or on a small piece of wax to show that something (such as a document) is genuine and has been officially approved​ stripe - n. a long, narrow line of color​ worship - v. to show respect and love for God or for a god especially by praying, having religious services, etc.​

French President Calls for Trade Balance in Visit to China

Per, 11.01.2018 - 22:56
  Observers say French President Emmanuel Macron communicated two important messages during his recent visit to China. One was about the huge possibilities cooperation between China and Europe could bring and Macron’s support of that effort. The other was a warning not to underestimate European concern about China’s possibly unfair trade practices. These include Chinese restrictions on investment in many businesses and industries. Matheiu Duchatel is deputy director of the Asia and China Program at the European Council of Foreign Relations. He said that Macron’s visit will influence actions not only in France, but in other countries also. “He wants to present himself as a leader” of the European Union (EU),” Duchatel said. “But at the same time, I think he wants to send a signal that Europe and the EU are in better shape than many think in China,” he noted. Duchatel said that Europe, the United States and Australia are all expressing growing concern about China’s trade practices. “Many (people) are coming to terms with the reality that China is no longer the factory of the world,” he added. “But it is clearly a country that has very strong ambitions in terms of economic leadership for the world and it is not a market economy.” Macron presented Chinese leader Xi Jinping with a gift of an 8-year old horse named Vesuvius. He promised to visit China at least once every year while he serves as France’s president. He also said that he is ready to work to “get the Europe-China relationship into the 21st Century.” The two sides signed major trade deals during the visit. China’s president said the two countries will deepen their “strategic cooperation.” During his first stop in Xi’an, Macron expressed French support for China’s huge trade and commerce project, the “Belt and Road” initiative. Xi’an was once the starting point of the Silk Road, the name for roads and transportation links used by traders many centuries ago. In a speech, Macron noted that the ancient Silk Roads were never only Chinese. “By definition these roads can only be shared,” he told a meeting of business people, students and professors. “If they are roads, they cannot be one-way.” On Tuesday, Macron met with Alibaba founder Jack Ma and officials of other Chinese and French companies. In a speech, the president talked about the possibilities cooperation could bring. But he warned about the threat of protectionism if changes were not made. I’m Caty Weaver.   Bill Ide and Joyce Huang reported this story for VOANews.com. George Grow adapted their report for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor. _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   ambition – n. a desire to get things done; a goal or aim commerce – n. the change of products or services initiative – n. a plan that is designed to solve a problem advantage – n. a gain or desirable quality screening mechanism – n. a method or model for testing globalization – n. the combining of national economics through trade, investment and technology   We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

Indonesia, Philippines Hold Talks on Security Cooperation

Per, 11.01.2018 - 22:55
  The Philippines and Indonesia are working together to stop supporters of the Islamic State terror group from entering the Philippines. Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi recently met with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in the southern city of Davao for talks. The discussion centered on Islamic State sympathizers in Indonesia going to the Philippines to join anti-government fighters. Duterte and the Indonesian foreign minister agreed to additional cooperation in stopping terrorism. The website of the president’s office said they also discussed “maritime security.” Indonesia is mainly a Muslim country. It has so-called sleeper cells of people who sympathize with the Islamic State. The extremist group has mainly been driven out of bases in Iraq and Syria. The U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group says that in 2016 Islamic State, or IS, picked a Filipino rebel as its leader in Southeast Asia. Reports, however, say that he was recently killed. Some Indonesian sympathizers worked with Filipino rebels in a five-month war in the southern Philippines last year. Philippine officials believe that Indonesians and also Malaysians went to the southern island Mindanao at that time. They are believed to have supported local rebels who sympathize with the Islamic State group. That fighting in the Philippines killed at least 1,127 people, including more than 900 militants. In October, Philippine troops declared victory over the Maute Group of Muslim rebels. The group had declared allegiance to Islamic State, which is also referred to as ISIS. A police spokesman in Jakarta told reporters that at least 38 Indonesians were helping Philippine rebels as of last June. That is one month after fighting broke out in the Philippine city of Marawi. Bibhu Routray is a visiting security and counter-terrorism professor at Murdoch University in Australia. He says some of the 40 to 50 foreign rebel supporters in Marawi had traveled from Indonesia to fight for Islamic State after the group called for volunteers. Thirty Indonesians got there from Syria and it is believed they were sent by Islamic State, Routray said. He added that on their return home they went through the Philippines. He said this suggests that Islamic State sent them to fight in Marawi. The Indonesian government said in November it would support the Philippine efforts to stop Islamic State in Marawi. In June, the same government had sent 119 police officers and 200 special forces to Sulawesi Island to help the army stop terrorists. Philippine officials have warned against new Muslim rebel violence in Mindanao although they say Marawi is under control. Eduardo Araral is an associate professor at the National University of Singapore. He said, “I think it’s logical that Indonesia should always keep its guards up, because they know for a fact that their main sleeper cells around Indonesia are waiting for opportunities to come.” About 20 Muslim rebel groups operate in Mindanao. The large island is rich in resources by economically poor.  People there say the majority Catholic country has taken a lopsided share of resources although there are many Muslims on the island. Violence has killed about 120,000 people on Mindanao since the 1960s. The Straits Times of Singapore online newspaper reports that Islamic State “sleeper cells” operate in most Indonesian provinces.  The extremist Islamic group East Indonesia Mujaheedin recruits young people on Sulawesi Island. It has promised to support Islamic State. Experts say there is a lack of security patrols in the Celebes Sea. The body of water south of Mindanao and east of Borneo. But Indonesia and the Philippines do have reached maritime agreements before. They signed an agreement in 2014 after twenty years of talks on formal boundaries around their economic zones in the Celebes Sea. I’m Susan Shand   Ralph Jennings reported this story for VOA News. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor. ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   Maritime – adj. of or relating to sailing on the sea or doing business (such as trading) by sea Sleeper cell – n. group of sympathizers in hiding Allegiance - n. loyalty to a person, country, group, etc. Resource – n. something that a country has and can use to increase its wealth Lopsided – adj. uneven or unequal Recruits –v. to get someone to join a group, service or company Patrols –n. a group of people, vehicles, etc., that go through an area to make sure that it is safe  

South Korea Plans to Ban Bitcoin Trading

Per, 11.01.2018 - 21:19
South Korea said on Thursday it plans to ban trading of cryptocurrency, including the popular bitcoin. The announcement sent bitcoin prices much lower and created unrest in the cryptocurrency market. Justice Minister Park Sang-ki said the government was preparing a bill to ban trading of the virtual money on South Korean currency exchanges. He said, “There are great concerns regarding virtual currencies and the justice ministry is basically preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading through exchanges.”  The price of bitcoin in South Korea dropped as much as 21 percent immediately after the minister’s comments. Around the world, one bitcoin was valued at about $14,000 on Thursday, January 11. Over the past year, the price moved from less than $1,000 in January 2017 to a high of $19,000 last month. Bitcoin is different from national currencies, which are supported by governments and national banks. It is stored as a line of computer code. It is not printed on paper or something you can hold. Bitcoin is similar to real money because you can spend it without using your real identity, as you do with a credit card. People who want to buy and sell things anonymously like bitcoin. Exchanges of bitcoin in South Korea By Thursday afternoon, more than 55,000 South Koreans called on the government to stop the proposed ban. After the price drop, the South Korean president’s office said a ban on cryptocurrency exchanges had yet to be finalized. It said the ban was one of the measures being considered. A press official at the justice ministry said the proposed ban on cryptocurrency trading came after “enough discussion” with finance ministry and financial officials. Once a bill is written, legislation for a ban of virtual coin trading still requires a majority of the vote in the National Assembly. It is a process that could take months or even years. Mun Chong-hyun, chief analyst at EST Security, told Reuters the ban “will make trading difficult here, but not impossible.” Mun added, “Keen traders, especially hackers, will find it tough to cash out their gains from virtual coin investments in Korea but they can go overseas, for example, Japan.” Park Nok-sun is a cryptocurrency expert at NH Investment & Securities. Park said “Some officials are pushing for stronger and stronger regulations because they only see more (investors) jumping in, not out.” South Korean officials are worried that the rising value has fueled huge demand for cryptocurrency in the country. They fear college students and housewives are hoping to get rich quick by investing. They likened it to a game of chance. The news of South Korea’s proposed ban came as governments around the world are looking to control the trading of cryptocurrencies. I’m Jonathan Evans.   The Reuters news agency reported this story. Hai Do adapted the report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. ____________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   cryptocurrency - n. money that only exists electronically virtual - adj. existing or occurring on computers or on the internet anonymously - adv. not named or identified analyst - n. a person who study or analyze something hacker - n. a person who secretly gets access to a computer system in order to get information, cause damage, etc.

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