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VOA News- Learn English beslemesi beslemesine abone olun. VOA News- Learn English
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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Trump Confirms CIA Chief’s Meeting with Kim

Ça, 18.04.2018 - 17:02
U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed Wednesday his Central Intelligence Agency chief secretly met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump wrote on Twitter, (CIA Director) "Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea last week. Meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed.” The president added, “Details of Summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for World, but also for North Korea!” Trump had said on Tuesday the United States and North Korea "had talks at the highest level.” He said the two sides are considering five places for his meeting with Kim, which could take place by early June. Pompeo is Trump’s nominee as Secretary of State, the nation’s top diplomatic position. Pompeo has said he hopes the two leaders “can have that conversation and will set us down the course of achieving a diplomatic outcome that America and the world so desperately need.” He spoke last week at a Senate hearing on his nomination. Trump also said he supported South Korea’s plan to negotiate an official end to the Korean War. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim are set to meet on April 27. A South Korean official said Wednesday that peace talks are a possible subject. But the discussion of officially ending the war would need to involve the other countries, like the U.S. and China. After news reports of Pompeo’s meeting with Kim, China said it welcomes direct contact and talks between the U.S. and North Korea. China’s foreign ministry said it hopes the two sides will resolve tensions on the Korean Peninsula and set up a plan for peace. The two Koreas are technically still in a state of war. The 1950-53 Korean War ended with a cease-fire, not a peace treaty. Japan’s interests Trump’s comments came during his two-day meeting in Florida with Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe. Abe praised the U.S. president for his position on North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs. He said, "Donald, you demonstrated your unwavering determination in addressing the challenge of North Korea.” The prime minister also raised issues of concern to Japan, including North Korea’s kidnapping of Japanese citizens. I'm Mario Ritter.   Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English. His story was based on reports from VOA and the Associated Press. George Grow was the editor. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. ______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   smoothly - adv. without any problem delay and with ease summit - n. highest level denuclearization - n. removal of nuclear weapons conversation - n. a talk involving two persons, parties course - n. path or direction achieve - v. to reach a goal desperately - adv. having a strong need or desire to do something unwavering - adj. continuing in a strong and steady way address - v. to deal with an issue, problem challenge - n. a difficult task or problem

From Refugee Camp, Young Somali Hopes to Attend Princeton

Sa, 17.04.2018 - 23:58
  Asad Hussein is a 22-year-old refugee. Last August, he got onto the back of a truck in Dabaab, Kenya. He sat down with other passengers among food supplies being driven to Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital. The truck went across the desert and deep into an area controlled by supporters of the al-Shabab extremist group. On his way to Mogadishu, Hussein got the chance to see where his father grew up. The New York Times newspaper published his story about the ride. Now, Asad Hussein is preparing for another trip. He was recently accepted at one of the world’s most famous schools. He is making plans to attend Princeton University in the United States. Life in a refugee camp Asad Hussein was born in Dadaab, one of the world’s largest refugee camps, in 1996. His parents and older sister had fled the unrest in Somalia five years earlier in search of a new life. Dadaab was meant to be a temporary stop, but became the family’s home. In 2005, Hussein’s sister, Maryan, immigrated to the United States with her husband and son. It took 11 years for her and her brother to reunite. Hussein told VOA’s Somali service that the life in Dadaab is “basically stranded.” You are not permitted to work or to do anything as a refugee, “and the word ‘refugee’ comes with so many restrictions,” he said. Even with those limitations, Hussein said, people had to make lives for themselves. They had escaped war, and they were prepared to keep on going. People told Hussein that one way to a better life was education. He kept the words in mind, and has been trying to get into a university for three years after finished high school in 2014. Princeton has been among the U.S. colleges and universities trying to increase the number of students from different ethnic groups. That includes welcoming students with good grades who, like Hussein, may not have enough money to pay for college. Hussein said he has been offered a full scholarship of $70,010 from the university for the next school year. In Princeton’s Class of 2021, 13 percent of the students are from outside the United States. They include representatives of 11 African nations. Last month, Princeton’s president, Christopher L. Eisgruber, wrote a letter to the university community. He wrote that the school has depended on “the talent and contributions of newcomers to this country” since it was founded in 1746. Last week, Princeton joined 30 other U.S. colleges and universities in questioning the Trump administration's declaration to restrict immigration from several Muslim-majority countries. A news release said the university gave documents to the U.S. Supreme Court to support the state of Hawaii’s case against the restrictions. An ‘incredible achievement’ Ty McCormick is a former Africa editor at Foreign Policy. He invited Hussein to write about President Donald Trump’s travel ban after reading his work in The Times. McCormick told VOA Hussein is “an extraordinary young man.” He wrote that he has learned more things from Hussein “than he has from me.” Hussein overcame major barriers to get to where he is while most people can’t fully understand these difficulties. “My hat is off to him,” McCormick said. ‘People who can do something’ Hussein wrote about his feelings about living in a refugee camp for Foreign Policy early last year. “The words I write may travel all around the world, but I am confined to the refugee camp where I was born. I can’t move freely in Kenya; I need a permit to leave Dadaab. My whole life, it seems, I’ve been living the American dream. I just don’t know how much longer I can bear to live it outside of America.” Hussein hopes his success will change people’s minds about what refugees can do. “When we hear of refugees, we always think of people who want something,” he told VOA. “So I’m glad that my story shows that refugees are actually people who can do something.” Now, Hussein will be going to the same U.S. school that produced theoretical physicist Richard Feynman, former President Woodrow Wilson and first lady Michelle Obama. Hussein says he wants to study English and history. And, for the first time since he was nine years old, he will live in the same country as his parents and sister. I'm Susan Shand.   Salem Solomon and Falastine Iman reported this story for VOANews.com. Xiaotong Zhou adapted their report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. ______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   basically – adj. at the simplest level strand – v. to leave in a strange place scholarship – n. financial assistance editor – n. someone who changes or amends a written work extraordinary – adj. very unusual or different confine – v. to keep within limits

US Strike on Syria Sends Mixed Messages to North Korea

Pzt, 16.04.2018 - 23:56
The recent United States missile strikes against Syria could increase pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. Or the missile strikes could show North Korean officials the need for nuclear arms to keep the country safe from attack. The United States, France and Britain fired 105 missiles at three suspected chemical weapons factories in Syria early Saturday. The allies said they acted to answer a reported chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma. The attack killed at least 40 people and wounded or sickened hundreds of others. The Syrian government has repeatedly denied any use of chemical weapons. The raid on Syria comes as U.S. and North Korean officials are preparing for talks in late May or early June. They are working on plans for a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. U.S. officials want the North to discuss plans for ending its nuclear activities. North Korea is expected to demand security guarantees from the U.S. government. Maximum pressure Observers say Trump’s decision to use force against Syria can be seen to support his “maximum pressure” campaign message.   For the U.S. side, that means sanctions against North Korea, including a ban on most North Korean exports. In addition, the U.S. would take military action against the North, if necessary. The goal is to force Kim to end his nuclear program and the continued development of a nuclear armed intercontinental ballistic missile – one that could reach North America. On Monday, a South Korean newspaper, The Korea Joongang Daily, called the U.S. attack on Syria “a warning for Pyongyang.” It said that the North Korean leader must end his country’s nuclear program or face the same kind of airstrike. U.S. officials hope the show of force in Syria will increase pressure on North Korea to offer meaningful nuclear proposals at the leaders’ meeting. “The Trump administration will not be satisfied,” unless the North suspends at least some of its nuclear and missile activities, said Bong Youngshik. He studies politics at the Yonsei University Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul. Nuclear weapons as protection But the U.S. military strike on Syria could also increase concerns in North Korea that giving up its nuclear arms would leave the country defenseless in a similar attack. Kim Hyun-Wook serves as a professor of American studies at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul. He thinks that if North Korea thinks its leadership is not guaranteed, “it will keep the nuclear program.” North Korea has long justified the need for its nuclear program by pointing to what happened to Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. The long time Libyan leader lost power and was killed by rebel forces, just a few years after he agreed to give up his country’s nuclear weapons. At the time, those forces were allied with the U.S. government and NATO forces. The U.S. and its allies justified their military action in Libya as a “humanitarian intervention” to prevent government forces from killing the civilian opposition. Without nuclear weapons, North Korean officials worry the U.S. could use the same humanitarian justification to intervene in North Korea. Kim Hyun-Wook noted “The U.S. can see North Korea as an autocratic state or human rights violator,” and then it can remove Kim Jong Un if he does not have nuclear weapons. The Kim government could use the missile strikes in Syria to demand a step-by-step system to end the nuclear program as a way to guarantee security. That would include the reduction or removal of U.S. forces in Korea over time as part of the required security guarantees.  Asia reaction Major U.S. allies Japan, South Korea and Australia voiced strong support for military action to punish Syria’s reported use of chemical weapons and to stop other countries from using them. China, however, objected to the strike by the U.S. and its allies before an investigation and without the agreement of the United Nations Security Council. I'm Mario Ritter.   Brian Padden reported this story for VOANews.com. Susan Shand adapted his 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   maximum – adj. the most or largest amount sanction – n.  an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country intercontinental – adj. ability to move from one continent to another continent ballistic – adj. a weapon that is shot through the sky over a great distance and then falls to the ground and explodes autocratic – n. a person who rules with total power  

American Clergyman Denies Terror Links, Spying in Turkish Court

Pzt, 16.04.2018 - 23:55
An American clergyman jailed in Turkey since December 2016 went on trial Monday. Andrew Craig Brunson is accused of spying and “committing crimes on behalf of terror groups without being a member.” If found guilty, he faces up to 35 years in prison. The case has hurt relations between Turkey and the United States. The 50-year-old Brunson is an evangelical Christian. He is from the state of North Carolina. The Associated Press reports that he has lived in Turkey for 23 years and has served as the pastor of Izmir Resurrection Church. He and his wife Norine were arrested for suspected immigration violations in October 2016. Their arrests came weeks after members of Turkey’s armed forces attempted to overthrow the government. The overthrow attempt failed. More than 250 people were killed in the unrest. In the year after the overthrow attempt, the government arrested more than 40,000 people. Norine Brunson was later released. But Turkish officials expanded the charges against her husband. They accuse him of having links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is banned in the country. Turkey also accuses him of ties to a group led by exiled Muslim clergyman Fethullah Gulen. The government blames Gulen and his followers for the failed overthrow attempt. He denies any wrongdoing. The Turkish clergyman lives in the American state of Pennsylvania. On Monday, Andrew Brunson spoke at the beginning of his trial. He told the court “I don’t accept any of the allegations or accusations." The state-operated Anadolu news agency reported his comments. “I did not engage in any illegal activity. I had no relations with anyone engaged in such activity." Brunson added, “I am a Christian pastor. I did not join an Islamic movement. Their aims and mine are different.” The U.S. government has repeatedly asked Turkey to release Brunson. American President Donald Trump urged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to have his government “expeditiously” return the pastor to the United States. In September 2017, Turkey said it would release Brunson if the United States agreed to surrender Gulen. In a television broadcast, Erdogan spoke about the case. “They say ‘give us the pastor,’ he said. You have a preacher (Gulen) there. Give him to us, and we will try (Brunson) and give him back.” A declaration last year gave Erdogan the power to offer foreigners in exchange for Turkish prisoners jailed overseas. The order permits such exchanges in “situations where it is necessary for national security or in the country’s interests.” U.S. relations with Turkey have worsened recently over a number of issues. They include, what the U.S. government considers to be Erdogan’s expanding powers. I’m Ashley Thompson.   George Grow wrote this story for VOA Learning English. His report was based on information from the Associated Press and VOANews.com. Mario Ritter was the editor. ______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   commit – v. to carry out or do something behalf – n. someone’s interest or support evangelical – adj. of or relating to a Christian group that believes in the power of Jesus Christ as God’s son pastor - n. a clergyman responsible for a group of religious believers church – n. a building that is used for religious services allegation – n. claim or accusation engage – v. to take part in; the organize the use of something expeditiously – adj. acting or doing something quickly We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.  

Russia Blocks Telegram Messaging Service

Pzt, 16.04.2018 - 23:54
  Russia has begun enforcing a nationwide ban on the popular messaging service Telegram. A Russian government agency said on Monday that it had sent a notice to telecommunications providers to block Telegram. The order came from the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media. Last Friday, a Russian court ruled against the messaging service. The court said Telegram should be blocked until it obeys a government order to provide users’ encrypted messages to the Federal Security Service (FSB). Russian officials have said they need to read the messages to investigate the use of Telegram by violent extremist groups. Telegram has repeatedly refused to surrender access to messages, arguing this would violate its users’ privacy. The service is the creation of Russian businessman Pavel Durov, who criticized the ban Monday in a statement on social media. “We consider the decision to block the app to be unconstitutional and we will continue,” he said. Durov added that the ban will only hurt the quality of life for 15 million Russian users, and not do anything to improve security. “The terrorist threat in Russia will stay at the same level, because extremists will continue to use encrypted communication channels - in other messengers, or through a VPN,” he said. Durov said last week that Telegram had “built-in” features so people could continue using the service during the government’s ban. In addition to being popular with the Russian public, Telegram has also become the messaging app of choice for many government officials. For example, it has been used in the past to set up conference calls between officials and reporters. But on Monday, the Russia spokesman’s office said it will now start using a different app. I’m Bryan Lynn. Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. His story was based on reports from the Associated Press and Reuters. George Grow was the editor. Do you use the Telegram service? Write to us in the Comments Section, and visit our Facebook page _____________________________________________________________ Words in This Story access – n. way of getting near something encrypted – adj. having electronic information changed into a secret system of letters, numbers or symbols to hide its meaning app – n. computer program that performs a special function​ channel – n. way of communicating with people or getting something done VPN – n. short for Virtual Private Network, a private computer network within a larger system, such as the internet feature – n. an interesting part or quality of something .

Congo’s Artists Struggle for Recognition

Paz, 15.04.2018 - 23:56
  The arts world in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is very active. But talented local artists still struggle for international recognition.  One of those artists is 26-year-old Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga. Kamuanga says Congo's cultural and mineral wealth has influenced his artistry. He says another influence is his country’s painful colonial history. His paintings have been shown in South Africa, Europe and the United States. One of his pieces can sell for as much as $30,000 at an international auction. That makes him one of Congo’s highest paid artists. But art industry experts say his work only gets average prices when compared to artists worldwide. Kamuanga says African artists are thought of differently in the arts world. He adds,  “I think it is a struggle for many artists in Africa to get the same recognition.” Another artist, Freddy Tsimba, says one problem is the lack of support in DRC. Tsimba creates sculptures. His works are shown internationally, but get little attention in his home country. Congolese artist Vitshois Mwilambwe Bondo has shown his art work and lived around the world. But he returned home to Congo to work at a recently established studio for young Congolese artists. "I say, OK, it is good for me to stay here, why?  Because we need to build [the] art scene and to make something, since the people can buy artwork in Congo. And now, people are starting to buy, (but it) is a big process, it is a big challenge." Currently, the studio has two women artists. One of them is Dina Ekanga. She says it is not easy being both a woman and an artist because the men push you around from all sides. She adds that the art scene is rather difficult, especially in Congo. Younger artists, like painter Romario Lukau, also say they struggle to establish themselves. Lukau is one of four young painters who are trying to find success as artists. They sell their paintings for about $1,000 each. Lukau says his biggest dream is for people to talk about Congolese art the way we talk about American, German or Belgian art. He and other Congolese artists say they are hopeful that dream will come true one day soon.   I’m Jonathan Evans.   Anita Powell reported this story for VOANews.com. Jonathan Evans adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   studio – n. a place where people go to learn, train, or study art talented – adj. having a special ability to do something well challenge – n. a problem; a competition scene – n. the place of an action or event auction – n. a sale of an object to the person or group willing to pay the most money  

Nigerian Entrepreneur Turning Plastic Waste into Usable Items

Paz, 15.04.2018 - 23:55
  Olayemi Samson is a Nigerian entrepreneur. He is turning plastic waste into useful things like clothing, school bags, car covers and shoes. Samson says he is doing his part to fight pollution and support recycling while making a style statement. A World Bank report says the city of Lagos makes about 9,000 metric tons of waste a day. Samson says part of that waste includes about 27 million plastic water bags. “This waste, it takes takes 20 to 30 years before they decay. Where are they going to?” Samson says that is when he came up with the idea of changing the waste into something useful. The first step in Samson’s process is to collect the used bags from a dumpsite. Then, he washes them. After that, he can begin to sew the bags together, making car covers, school bags and other goods. His latest recycled creation is a raincoat. Some people cannot see past the history of Samson’s creations. Emmanuel Itiniyi of Lagos says the products are dirty. He says, “I won’t allow my child to wear it as a cloth to go to school or a bag to go to school. It doesn’t make any sense.” But others are more accepting, like Victor Anyaese. “Yes I can use it because, seeing the picture, it looks lovely. But it depends on the kind of outfit I am using it for. But I can use it probably for leisure.” Samson’s business is not profitable yet. But he hopes his work will help push young people and people in power to protect the environment. I'm Jonathan Evans.   VOA’s Mariama Diallo reported on this story from Nairobi, Kenya. Xiaotong Zhou adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor. _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   entrepreneur – n. a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk. dumpsite – n. a large trash receptacle metric – n. a standard of measurement allow – v. to permit (something): to regard or treat (something) as acceptable outfit – n. a set of clothes that are worn together leisure – n. enjoyable activities that you do when you are not working

Solar Projects Increase in the Mekong River Area

Paz, 15.04.2018 - 23:54
Solar and wind power projects are increasing in the area around the Mekong River in Southeast Asia. One energy expert said that the developments call into question the financial viability of major hydo-electric dams in the area.   Brian Eyler is Director of the Stimson Center’s Southeast Asia Program. He spoke about the increase in solar power development at the third Mekong River Commission Summit in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province. He said, in the last six months, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos have signed agreements to produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity from wind and solar. Eyler said, “In January 2017, my team visited with Cambodia’s energy plant making the suggestion of incorporating more solar and wind into the power development plan. That was basically off the table in January 2017.” He said that Cambodia has reorganized its energy industry in about a year. The country has planned to deploy solar power production.   Hyunjung Lee is a Senior Energy Economist at the Asian Development Bank. She said technologies such as wind and solar were “going to hit the region very significantly." Lee said, “The atmosphere in the region has been changed actually in the past one year even. So we see a lot of development can happen in solar and wind in the region and how it can happen actually in reality, not to repeat the experience of hydro.” A Council Study of the Mekong River Commission warned of problems if too many hydropower dams are built on the river.  The study warned of catastrophic results to the health of the river system if all the projects were built. Eleven dams are planned on the main river while more than 100 hydropower dams have been proposed to be built on tributary rivers. Costs of solar energy are falling In addition, the International Renewable Energy Agency said that the cost of solar power had fallen by 73 percent from 2010 to 2017. The cost is expected to fall below that of hydropower by 2020. The world’s solar power capacity grew 32 percent. Ninety-four gigawatts were added in 2017. Renewable energy and solar power grew faster in Asia than anywhere else in the world. At the same time, the amount of hydropower that has been commissioned around the world is the lowest it has been in ten years. Jake Brunner is a Program Coordinator for the International Union for Conservation of Nature. He said solar power makes economic sense in Cambodia. Land in Cambodia has not been costly while energy demand has been high in neighboring southern Vietnam. But, land is a sensitive issue in Cambodia. A Cambodian human rights group says that more than 500,000 people in the country have been affected by land conflicts. A Cambodian government study described a way to produce solar power without using land. It recommended that, instead of building the proposed Sambor dam on the Mekong River, solar cells be placed on the existing reservoir there. Gregory Thomas is an Executive Director of the Natural Heritage Institute. He told the people attending the third Mekong River Summit that it was possible to develop solar energy without using any land. He said placing solar energy equipment on the water in a reservoir solves the problem of land conflict. He said such a project could be completed quickly at low cost. Thomas said, “Such a project could be cost competitive and go online much quicker than a hydropower dam, with 100 megawatts deployable in (a) year.” Large solar energy projects are being developed around the world. In China, a 150 megawatt solar projects is being built on a lake. The lake used to be a deserted coal mine. It is expected to go into operation in May and provide power for about 15,000 homes. I’m Jonathan Evans.   David Boyle reported this story for VOANews.com. Rei Goto adapted his report for Learning English. 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   viability – n. capable of working, functioning, or developing adequately plant – n. the land, buildings, machinery, apparatus and fixtures employed in carrying on a trade or an industrial business incorporate – v. to unite or work into something already existent so as to from an indistinguishable whole region – n. an indefinite area of the world significantly – adv. in a way that is large or important enough to be noticed or have an effect catastrophic – n. a momentous tragic event ranging from extreme misfortune to utter overthrow or ruin commission – v. bring something into working condition reservoir – n. an artificial lake where water is collected and kept in quantity for use go online – v. to make operational to connect to power system

Indian Government Forced to Drop Move Against Fake News

Cts, 14.04.2018 - 23:55
  Media supporters reacted very strongly last week to an order by India’s Information and Broadcasting Ministry. The government threatened to suspend the work documents of any reporter accused of spreading, what it called, “fake news.” The new rule caused such an outcry against the government that Prime Minister Narendra Modi withdrew it in less than 24 hours. Opponents of the order said the government was trying to control the media as the country prepares for general elections in 2019. The government’s effort to stop what it considers fake news brought attention to a growing problem in the world’s largest democracy. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry said fake news in different mediums, including newspapers and the internet, made the order necessary. The ministry said it would punish journalists accused of creating fake news by not permitting them to go to government offices or press events. The Editors Guild of India protested the order. The trade group said it would lead to political pressure on journalists. Media experts pointed out that the government order did not define what fake news was. It also did not target non-traditional media online that have grown in number. Experts questioned the government’s ability to solve the problem. Jency Jacob is the managing editor for boomlive.in, a fact-checking website that seeks to disprove fake stories. Jency said political parties often create fake news, not the media. Jency added that the order was an attempt by the government to confuse people about the origins of fake news. How fake news spreads Many senior journalists questioned the timing of the effort to stop fake news. There will be important state elections before the general elections in 2019. And some observers say Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has lost some support. “The reversal has started. Somewhat bad press is coming up. This is overreaction to that,” said N. Bhaskars Rao, head of the Center of Media Studies in New Delhi. The BJP has ignored the criticism. The party said the order was removed quickly because Modi wanted to reinforce his belief in press freedom. Most fake news in India spreads through the social media platform WhatsApp. Its influence has grown as the spread of mobile phones increases internet availability around the country. A few people have started fact-checking websites to stop the spread of fake news. They say many people, especially in the countryside, do not ask where information comes from on social networks. They have also found that untrue information includes everything from false weather reports to bad health information. Fact checkers can't keep up Pratik Sinha started the website Altnews. He said the number of fake stories with political messages on social media often grows at election time. He said December elections in Modi’s home state showed that both the ruling and opposition parties have used fake news as a campaign tool. The biggest problem, Sinha said, is that fake news has the ability to increase religious tension and cause violence. His website has found fake news from many people who are ideologically active. Last month, the editor of the website Postcard News was arrested for writing an untrue story about Muslims attacking a Jain monk, a religious worker who had been hurt in an accident. A year ago, untrue stories in a village about child kidnappers led to the death of seven people. Mainstream media not immune Jacob of boomlive.in said traditional media also is to blame sometimes because they do not check their facts as they hurry to release a story. Jacob added that a lot of television stations and newspapers are using fake news and then saying ‘it is not my problem.’ However, many people agree that a government order is not the way to solve the problem. I’m Susan Shand.   Anjana Pasricha reported this story for VOA. Susan Shand adapted the report for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor. _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   fake – adj. not true or real journalist – n. the activity or job of collecting, writing, and editing news stories for newspapers, magazines, television, or radio confuse –v. to make someone uncertain or unable to understand something origins –n. where something begins or starts reversal – n. a change to an opposite state, condition, decision, platform – n. a type of media ideological – adj. the set of ideas and beliefs of a group or political party

Vietnam's Fishing ‘Militia’ to Defend Against China

Cum, 13.04.2018 - 23:55
Vietnam is reported to be quietly developing a state-supported fishing boat militia to hold off China at sea. The fishing militia is being created at a time when the two sides talk about easing territorial disputes. That is the opinion of experts who follow those disputes. Vietnam watchers say the country is asking its commercial fishers to use stronger boats and take military-trained people to sea in case of a clash with Chinese fishers. China has its own fishing militia operating in the same waters. “I think it’s a good policy to avoid future conflicts where militia fishermen are out in the sea,” said Trung Nguyen. He serves as dean of international relations at the Ho Chi Minh University of Social Sciences and Humanities. Vietnam has been working to develop the fishing militia since at least 2009. Over that time, the two countries have been holding talks. Just last week, Vietnam’s Communist Party general secretary met the visiting Chinese foreign minister. The party official suggested “joint safeguarding (of) maritime peace,” China’s Xinhua News Agency reported. Vietnam may be trying to appear strong now in case talks fail to produce results, noted Eduardo Araral of the National University of Singapore’s school of public diplomacy. How the militia works The Vietnamese fishing militia has not gone to battle with China. If the militia did, it would risk facing the third largest military in the world. But Vietnamese military forces are arming fishing boats, said Southeast Asia expert Carl Thayer. That may be similar to the deployment of former soldiers to help keep order as needed on land in Vietnam, Thayer noted. The Vietnamese government requires conscription, he added, so fishermen would already have some military skills. “Putting them at sea would just be getting people the right age and giving them that training,” he said. “All they did is move what they do on land, how to defend factories … and extend that to sea. Thayer is emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia. Thirteen fishing militia platoons have been helping more than 3,000 fishermen work near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. That information comes from a 2017 study by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. China controls the Paracels, but Vietnam also claims the islands. The study found that more than 10,000 fishermen and about 2,000 fishing boats in southern Vietnam have received military equipment. In 2014, Vietnam prepared a list of rules to aid fishermen who build “modern large capacity ships” to expand their reach, the study found. It said Vietnamese banks had lent $176 million to fishermen for improvements to about 400 ships. Record of clashes China claims about 90 percent of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea. Vietnam says it should control the sea’s waters off its long north-south coastline, extending into the Paracels and Spratly Islands. Sailors died in clashes between the two countries in 1974 and 1988. In 2014, the deployment of a Chinese oil rig in the South China Sea caused a boat-ramming incident at sea and deadly rioting in Vietnam against Chinese interests. China has long had its own fishing militia with military support and attention from the Chinese President, notes the United States-based Naval War College. Armed fishing boats help defend China’s maritime claims by pushing away foreign boats, the political intelligence service Stratfor reported in 2016. Five other governments claim all or parts of the South China Sea. They oppose Chinese efforts to build up and expand islands in the waterway. Vietnam and China often hold talks about settling maritime problems, but talks often fall short of a decision because of historic distrust, Araral said. He added that Vietnam may be sending China the message that while we talk, we assert our rights. A Vietnamese fishing militia will not be as large as China's militia, he said, but Vietnam feels it must try. I'm Susan Shand   Susan Shand adapted this story from VOA. George Grow 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 conscription – n. the act of calling citizens to serve in the military platoon – n. part of a company-sized military force; a group of people who are doing something together emeritus – ​adj. a person retired from professional life but permitted to retain as an honorary title the rank of the last office held​ capacity – ​n. ​the ability to hold or contain people or things — usually singular​ rig – n. a large structure on the sea assert – v. to state or declare, often forcefully ramming – adj. striking something violently dean – n. the head of a college or school at a university commercial – adj. related to or used in the buying and selling of products

Saudi Arabia Now Permits Women to Ride Bicycles

Cum, 13.04.2018 - 23:53
  Life for women in Saudi Arabia is changing quickly. They are now experiencing new freedoms, such as riding a bicycle. The government announced the new policy earlier this month. These freedoms are important for Saudi women like Amirah al-Turkistani. In 2015, Amirah finished her studies in the American city of Boston. While living in Boston, she rode a light green bicycle. When she was preparing to return to her home in Jeddah, she decided to take her bicycle with her. Her friends laughed at the idea. “They told me, ‘What will you do with it in Jeddah, hang it on the wall?’” she said. Riding a bicycle in public as a woman was unthinkable at the time.  In Saudi Arabia, religious police watch public spaces to enforce conservative dress rules, bans on music and alcohol, prayer-time store closures and the mixing of unrelated men and women. Now, three years later, Amirah often rides her same green bicycle along Jeddah’s seaside paths. Sometimes she rides by herself, other times with her husband and children. The new policy says that women must still be covered in an abaya when riding a bike.  Abayas are loose-fitting, full-length robes. They are required public dress for Saudi women. But abayas are changing, too. In the past, women could only where traditional black abayas.  Now, Amirah chooses from several colors of abayas. She designs them herself. ​“Jeddah today isn’t the same as Jeddah five, six years ago,” she said. “The scrutiny on clothes (has eased), there’s more places to go, working opportunities for women are the same as for men.” In recent years, Saudi Arabia has been changing from its more traditional past. Under a reform program aimed at modernizing the kingdom and reducing its economy’s dependence on oil, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has eased social restrictions. He has also ended a 40-year ban on movie theaters. And he has reduced the activities of the religious police. Last year, the government announced it would permit women to drive cars, something Amirah is very ready for. “It’s not like I want to drive just because I want to drive,” she said. “It’s a need.” Amirah is a 30 year-old mother of two children. She has a full-time job teaching graphic design at Jeddah International College.  She works on other design projects outside of work, as well. And she sells her handmade abayas. In her free time, she does yoga. She also does strength training at an exercise center. Amirah is part of a young generation of Saudi women seizing new chances.   Yet she realizes that not all women in this country of 32 million people have the same chances as her. Tribal customs, authoritative male relatives and religious conservatism keep many Saudi women from having the same rights. “She can be (modern) but her family isn’t,” Amirah says of Saudi women. “She can be like this but her husband doesn’t allow it.” She adds that she believes some people oppose the new reforms. “There’s a change, that’s true, but I’m talking about something very miniscule,” she said. “I don’t know about other places, other cities. I’m just talking about Jeddah.” I’m Phil Dierking.   This story was originally reported for Reuters News Agency.  Phil Dierking adapted the report for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor. What are other freedoms that you think all women should have? Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. ______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   authoritative - adj. having or showing impressive knowledge about a subject​ graphic - adj. relating to the artistic use of pictures, shapes, and words especially in books and magazines​ minuscule - adj. very small​ opportunity - n.  an amount of time or a situation in which something can be done​ robe - n. a long, loose piece of clothing that is worn on top of other clothes to show that someone has a high rank or an important job​ scrutiny - n. the act of carefully examining something especially in a critical way​ yoga - n.  a system of exercises for mental and physical health​

Report: Democracy Weakened Across Europe and Eurasia

Per, 12.04.2018 - 23:56
  The democracy monitoring group Freedom House says governments from Central Europe to Eurasia are showing disrespect for independent agencies and open discussion. It adds that the European Union, or EU, and the United States have little time left to stand up to the area’s anti-democratic forces. Freedom House released the findings in its latest Nations in Transit report, which is called “Confronting Illiberalism.” The report defines illiberalism as thinking that rejects the need for independent agencies to monitor the government and dismisses the idea of publicly disagreeing with those in power. Freedom House said that, in 2017, illiberalism established itself as the ‘new normal’ in the former Soviet Union and some of its allies. The U.S.-based group noted attacks on independent media and government critics in a number of countries. And it observed a never-ending push in some areas to combine the ruling party and the state. Very dramatic changes Nate Schenkkan is project director of Nations In Transit for Freedom House. He said his group has been speaking out about these issues for a long time in places like Russia, Central Asia and Belarus.  Schenkkan told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that “…increasingly, we see this now in Central Europe, in countries like Hungary and Poland. We see it starting to have an effect at the level of institutions. So, very dramatic changes, especially in Poland," he said. The report said that 19 out of the 29 nations in the study received lower democracy ratings than last year, the sharpest drop in the project’s 23-year history. It also found that for the second time in two years the number of consolidated authoritarian governments was higher than that of consolidated democracies. The report said that Turkmenistan was the area’s worst performer for what the report calls “Eurasia’s entrenched autocracies.” An autocracy is a system of government where one person has unlimited powers. The report identified entrenched autocracies in five other countries. They are Belarus, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. Russia moving towards authoritarianism The report said that Russian President Vladimir Putin won reelection last month in a political campaign where he faced no real competition. It said his only real opponent, anticorruption activist Aleksei Navalny, was barred from being a candidate after he was found guilty of corruption charges. The report questions the believability of the ruling, however. In addition, the report noted that Russia is facing “economic decay.” It said this has resulted from a lack of structural reforms, its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine, and international actions against Russia for taking control of the Crimean Peninsula. Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan have the area’s highest risk of moving into authoritarianism, the report said. “The window for fundamental reforms may not have closed in Ukraine,” the report said. But it noted political resistance to anticorruption reforms, attacks on civil society, and the media. As a result, the report said Ukraine’s democracy rating was lower for the first time since 2014. "It was a relatively small decline, but it was meaningful,” Schenkkan said. He added that the main cause is the pressure leading Ukrainian politicians have put on civil society and independent media. Largest declines The report said the weakening of democracy was most striking in two Eastern European countries: Poland and Hungary. It noted the two were successful in separating from authoritative systems in the 1980s. In 2017, the Polish government passed laws that give the ruling party-controlled parliament more influence in choosing Supreme Court members and other judges. In addition, Hungary passed laws in 2017 to limit the freedom of people to publicly critique the government. ​Some positive performers However, not all countries received poor ratings in the new report. It noted progress over the past year in Macedonia and Uzbekistan. The report has found that since the death of President Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan has made small, but noticeable improvements in the freedoms of civil society and the media. In addition, Macedonia formed a new government, Schenkkan told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). The new leadership has started on a plan to find peace with its neighbors Bulgaria and Greece. Macedonia hopes to eventually be a candidate for EU membership. Freedom House is a U.S.-government-financed non-government organization. RFE/RL and VOA are each part of the U.S.-government-supported Broadcasting Board of Governors. I’m Phil Dierking.   Eugene Tomiuc reported this story Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Phil Dierking adapted the report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor. How do you feel your country’s democratic performance is? Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   decay - v. to slowly lose strength, health, etc.​ decline - v.  to become lower in amount or less in number​ dramatic - adj.  sudden and extreme​ confront - v. to oppose or challenge especially in a direct and forceful way​ consolidate - v. to join or combine together into one thing​ authoritarian - adj. expecting or requiring people to obey rules or laws​ entrenched - adj. to place (someone or something) in a very strong position that cannot easily be changed​ fundamental - adj. forming or relating to the most important part of something​ monitor - v.  to watch, observe, listen to, or check (something) for a special purpose over a period of time​

Pope Francis Admits ‘Grave Mistake’ Over Chile’s Sex Abuse Problems

Per, 12.04.2018 - 23:54
  Pope Francis has admitted he made “grave mistakes” in dealing with reports of sexual abuse by clergy members in Chile. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church discussed his concerns in a public letter. He said he felt, in his words, “pain and shame” in an unusual letter released on Wednesday. In the letter, he called Chile’s church leaders to Vatican City for an emergency meeting to discuss the issue. Francis also invited abuse victims he had once doubted to come to Rome to seek their forgiveness personally. He said a lack of “truthful and balanced information” was the reason that he strongly defended Bishop Juan Barros. Barros has been linked to a priest accused of abuse, Reverend Fernando Karadima. During his visit to Chile in January, Francis voiced support for Barros. Victims had accused Barros of witnessing and ignoring their sexual abuse. In Chile and on his return trip to Rome, Francis accused the victims of “calumny,” or making false statements in order to hurt someone’s image. He also said they should present “proof” of their claims. He said he had twice rejected Barros’s resignation. “I am convinced he is innocent,” Francis said at the time. One of the Vatican’s most experienced sexual abuse investigators went to Chile to find out more. Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta later presented Francis with a 2,300-page report on the issue. Francis wrote his letter after receiving the report. The letter does not discuss the future of Barros. In a statement, three victims said they appreciated Francis’s request for forgiveness. They said they were considering his invitation. They also said they would continue fighting for payment and forgiveness “until zero tolerance about abuse and cover-up in the church becomes a reality.” I’m Mario Ritter.   Smita Nordwall 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   grave –adj. very serious convinced –adj. to be completely certain of something appreciate –v. to be grateful for something tolerance –n. willing to accept something  

Turkey’s Economic Policies Cause Its Money’s Value to Drop

Per, 12.04.2018 - 23:53
  The value of Turkish money, called the lira, hit another historic low compared to the U.S. dollar on Tuesday. Among the reasons for the drop is that currency traders are concerned that the Turkish economy is growing too quickly. With elections coming soon, the government is pushing economic growth. Currently growth is over seven percent. That makes Turkey one of the fastest-growing economies. But international investors are becoming more worried about the cost of such growth. Turkey has inflation of over 10 percent. The country also is importing more goods than it exports leading to an increasing trade deficit, or current account deficit. "Investors are disappointed by the fact the government is pushing growth even faster,” said economist Inan Demir of Nomura Holdings. He added that most investors believe the government should be trying to lower inflation and the current account deficit. "Some people say this: 'Too much growth is not a good thing,'" Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech Monday in an answer to critics. "Why? Because they are jealous. It is nothing else," he said. In another move to grow the economy, Erdogan announced $34 billion in new economic programs. Much of Turkey's growth has come from billions of dollars in government spending. Erdogan challenged international financial markets by restating his strong opposition to increasing interest rates. Often central banks increase interest rates to keep the exchange value of a currency from falling. Without an increase in interest rates, the lira will continue to depreciate, and the value of the lira will be set by international investors, Demir said. Since the start of the year, the exchange value of the lira has fallen over seven percent compared to the dollar. Last week, the lira fell sharply after reports that Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek had resigned after an angry telephone call with Erdogan over interest rate policy. Simsek is responsible for the economy. Experts say he is important in keeping the confidence of financial markets in Turkey because he formerly worked for the investment bank Goldman Sachs. Some in Ankara say Simsek later agreed to stay in his job after heavy government pressure. But with presidential and general elections upcoming in 2019, a growing economy is important to Erdogan and his ruling AKP Party's re-election chances. Abdulkadir Selvi is a writer and presidential expert for the Hurriyet newspaper.  Earlier this week, he wrote, "He [Erdogan] knows the way to win the election is by improving the economic situation."  Selvi added, "That is why he declared 2018 as the year of performance, growth and employment." Market expert Atilla Yesilada is with the business support company Global Source Partners. He said Erdogan’s party has nothing but economic growth to offer after abandoning human rights and modern democracy. Without economic growth measures, the economy will slow and they will not win re-election, he said. But a falling currency brings other economic risks. Experts warn that sharp currency decreases usually hurt consumer confidence and lead to less spending on goods and services. That causes economic growth to slow. A greater threat faced by Turkey is debt. Two of Turkey’s largest companies have been seeking to re-organize $12 billion in bank loans. International investors are watching Turkish banks. They want to know about the quality of loans they have provided and whether borrowers are still making payments. Yesilada explained that the government, the banks and the companies agree that the system must continue, so nobody will declare that there is a problem. Turkish bank stocks continue to lose value and are now at their lowest level in nine years. However, most experts believe that the banking system is still strong. But some market experts warn that banks may reduce their lending in the future. Such a move would likely affect growth. Demir said Erdogan and his government's push for growth could end in failure. He said that if investors continue to sell the Turkish lira, it will hurt companies that have loans, forcing them to cut back on workers and investment, and that will lead to much slower growth. I’m Susan Shand   Dorian Jones reported this story for VOA. Susan Shand adapted the report for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor. ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   disappoint – v. to make (someone) unhappy by not being as good as expected or by not doing something that was hoped for or expected jealous – adj. feeling or showing an unhappy or angry desire to have what someone else has challenge – v. something that causes something else to happen, develop, or become more active currency – n. the money that a country use depreciate –v. to lose value confidence – n. a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something abandon – v. to leave and never return to consumer – n. one who buys things  

As Europe's Prisons Fill Up, France Tries a Different Method

Ça, 11.04.2018 - 23:56
  A cook named William is working on making a sweet treat. Another is busily preparing paella, made of seafood and rice. They and other cooks are moving around a big kitchen in a hurry. They are not getting ready to serve guests at a restaurant, however. They are prisoners working in a French jail. The Eysses detention center is in Villeneuve-sur-Lot, a town in southwestern France. Eysses prisoners like 32-year-old William are part of the French government’s efforts to reduce the number of repeat criminals. Officials hope this would ease the country’s problem with overcrowding in prisons. The number of inmates in France has risen from 48,000 in 2001 to almost 70,000 today. Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron released measures meant to fight the country’s prison problems. The plan included reconsidering short-term prison sentences in favor of home detention. He also proposed building 7,000 new cells over the next four years to ease overcrowding. Other ideas included creating jobs for people recently released from prison as well as assistance programs for France’s growing prison population. Some say Macron’s crime plan does not do enough, especially when it comes to fighting radicalism, which is spreading in French prisons. But his plan has drawn support for pushing for experimental prison programs, such as the one at Eysses. The program is called Respect. It is based on a Spanish method that calls for rewarding prisoners with more freedom in exchange for good behavior. Eighteen prisons have used the Respect program since 2015. Another 20 are expected to start using the program over the next two years. The Respect program operates in only one part of Eysses. Becoming a part of the program is not easy. And prisoners who are accepted must sign a contract that lists several rules. Breaking those rules means risking expulsion from the program. The program’s rules include spending 25 hours every week either working or attending educational or health-related activities. The inmates must also clean common spaces. If they follow the rules, they are rewarded with keys to their own cells and a feelings of freedom. Philippe Sperandio is head of the Eysses detention center. He said it is still too early to know whether the program is helping to reduce the number of people who return to prison after being released. But he has seen a decrease in violence among inmates. Sperandio said one prisoner that was about to be released told him that he had never experienced anything like Respect before. “Will that help ensure that he won’t come back? I don’t know.” Sperandio said. “But he sees things differently. He knows what he’s lost.” For William, the Respect program is very different from anything he has experienced during his 10 years in prison. He said he has a sense of “liberty within the walls.” The program has helped create a stronger connection between Eysses guards and prisoners, as well. In the prison’s small garden, guard Carol Cerjak helps prisoners pull out the last of the winter vegetables. Cerjak says she rarely sees violence when she is working at Eysses. “You see a prisoner coming here, and a week later, they’re completely different.” This is sharply different from some other French prisons. Attacks carried out by radicalized prisoners led to a nationwide guard strike in January over prison conditions. A recent report by the human rights group Council of Europe listed French prisons as among the most overcrowded in Western Europe. It also found France is one of only a few countries where prison populations are rising. While Danish and Dutch prisons average one prisoner per jail cell, France averages 117 inmates per 100 cells. Overcrowding is especially severe in areas like Paris.  The Respect program is not the main answer for France’s problem with radicalism in its prisons. The country counts 1,600 radicalized prisoners.  For them, French officials plan to build more cells and isolated areas to help stop the spread of radical Islam. French Justice Ministry representative Youssef Badr said the smaller cells and one-on-one attention for radicalized prisoners are part of an effort to rehabilitate them. Experts point to Denmark as an example of an open system that could also help fight radicalism. Danish inmates wear their own clothes, take part in sports and cook their own food to prepare for life outside. At Eysses, inmate Jean-Luc is preparing the prison garden for spring planting. After 29 years behind bars, he is a believer of Respect’s ideas. “I’ve been in some where even a dog wouldn’t enter,” he says. “Here, Respect gives us back our dignity.” I’m Susan Shand. And I'm Bryan Lynn.   Lisa Bryant reported this story for VOA News. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor. _______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   restaurant - n.  place where you can buy and eat prepared food. detention - n. the act of keeping someone in a prison inmate - n. a person who is kept in a prison or mental hospital​ liberty - n. freedom radicalism  - n. the opinions and behavior of people who favor extreme changes especially in government reward - v. to give something to someone for something good that has been done garden - n. an area of ground where plants (such as flowers or vegetables) are grown dignity - n. the quality of being worthy of honor or respect isolate - v. to keep separate rehabilitate - v. to bring someone back to normal

Trump Threatens Missile Strike to Answer Attack in Syria

Ça, 11.04.2018 - 21:00
  United States President Donald Trump has tweeted that Russia should be ready for a missile strike in Syria. In the message on the social media service Twitter, Trump said, “You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” He said the missiles would be “new and ‘smart!’” The comments come after Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon said on Tuesday that Russian forces would shoot down any missile fired at Syria. A spokesman for the Russian government, Dmitry Peskof, said U.S. missiles should target “terrorists” and not the “legitimate government” in Syria. Peskov also said that all parties involved in Syria should refrain from actions that could destabilize the area. The Syrian state news agency called the threat of a missile strike “reckless escalation.” Suspected chemical attack and heightened tensions Tensions rose in Syria after reports of a suspected chemical attack in the town of Douma on Saturday. At least 40 people are said to have died. The World Health Organization said Wednesday it had received reports from its partners about the victims. The WHO said 500 people who sought treatment Saturday showed signs and symptoms of coming in contact with toxic chemicals. A WHO spokesman said, however, the agency cannot say the deadly incident was a chemical attack because it cannot get into the area. The WHO said it had reports that as many as 70 people may have died. The U.N. agency demanded that it be given the “immediate, unhindered” ability to meet with people injured in the attack. The United States and several allies have centered blame on military forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. But Syria and Russia have denied that charge. Trump also has blamed supporters of Assad in Iran and Russia for the attack. Soon after the suspected gas attack, Trump said those responsible would pay a “big price.” The U.S. president has spoken with the leaders of Britain and France about a possible answer. French President Emmanuel Macron said a decision on a possible strike would be made “in the coming days.” The United Nations Security Council met on Tuesday for an urgent discussion on Syria. Russia vetoed a U.S.-proposed measure to create a commission to investigate the attack. The Associated Press reports that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will send a fact-finding group to Douma “shortly.” The OPCW is based in The Hague. The AP says the Syrian government and Russian supporters requested the mission. However, it is unclear if such a mission might affect U.S. or allied military action in the area. The U.S. has more than 2,000 troops in Syria, and the U.S.-led coalition has launched thousands of airstrikes against the country. Most have been against the Islamic State terror group. President Trump has cancelled a planned trip to Latin America, which was to begin Friday. The administration said that Trump would “oversee the American response to Syria.” I’m Mario Ritter.   Mario Ritter adapted this story from VOA News for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor. ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   legitimate –adj. permitted or recognized by rule or law refrain –v. to keep from doing something destabilize –v. to cause to change in an unorderly or unplanned way escalation –n. to take to a higher level, to become more severe unhindered –adj. to restricted in any way We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

Vietnam Activists: Facebook Content Restrictions Are Worsening

Sa, 10.04.2018 - 23:44
  Vietnamese activists and independent media groups say Facebook policies on restricting content could increase government censorship. More than 50 individuals and groups sent an open letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. It expresses their concerns about how the social media service is operating in Vietnam. The U.S.-based human rights group Viet Tan released the document Monday. The letter says Facebook’s system of removing material if enough people protest about it could “silence human rights activists and citizen journalists in Vietnam.” The groups say they have worked with Facebook officials in the past to make sure content is not wrongly removed. In the letter, they say this worked well until 2017. But, they write, that year “account suspensions and content takedown” increased. Facebook has said its policies on content restrictions are necessary to prevent false news and enforce Facebook rules.  “We will remove content that violates these standards when we’re made aware of it,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement to Reuters. The spokeswoman said the company’s policies are the same in Vietnam as in other countries where it operates. “There are also times when we may have to remove or restrict access to content because it violates a law in a particular country, even though it doesn’t violate our community standards,” the statement added. Last year, Facebook’s head of Global Policy Management, Monika Bickert, met with Vietnamese officials to discuss policies for operating in Vietnam. At the time, the two sides agreed to directly cooperate to limit illegal or offensive material, according to Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications. Facebook also promised to remove false accounts and false information on the site about top government officials, the ministry said. Vietnam is among Facebook’s top 10 users by numbers, with more than 55 million people using the service. It is especially popular with activist groups and citizen journalists. But Vietnam has a history of restricting public comments that are critical of the government. In the past, Vietnamese police have arrested people for posting anti-government messages online. The letter said many accounts and pages of well-known citizen journalists were recently blocked on Facebook before and during a major trial of Vietnamese activists. In the case, Vietnam sentenced a longtime human rights lawyer and activist to 15 years in prison on the charge that he “aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration.” Another six activists were sentenced to seven to 13 years. The letter sent to Zuckerberg says the Vietnamese government employs a 10,000-strong “cyber army” to spread misinformation and silence dissent. The groups say this organization – called Force 47 - has misused Facebook policies to purposely publish false reports about activists and independent media organizations. The letter said the groups support Facebook’s efforts to fight disinformation for the community. However, they fear the company’s current restriction policies are “putting severe limitations on the very audience that you are trying to serve.” The letter came the day before Zuckerberg appeared before several U.S. Congressional committees in Washington. They questioned him about Facebook’s involvement in sharing user data with British research company Cambridge Analytica. Zuckerberg also discussed Facebook’s policies on users’ privacy. I’m Bryan Lynn. Bryan Lynn adapted this story for VOA Learning English, based reports from Reuters and Agence France-Press. Caty Weaver 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 censorship – n. to block or remove material such as writings, film, videos which are not approved by the government account – n. an arrangement in which a person uses internet or service of a particular company standard – n. level of quality aware – n. to know about something access – v. way of getting near something particular – n. kind of something offensive – adj. causing someone to feel upset or hurt cyber – n. relating to electronic communications, especially the Internet audience – n. people watching a performance or taking part  

Trump, China Criticize Opposing Trade Actions

Pzt, 09.04.2018 - 23:11
  United States President Donald Trump has criticized U.S. trade relations with China. The president expressed opposition to what he called “stupid trade” relations with China. His comments appeared Monday on the Twitter social media service. "When a car is sent to the United States from China, there is a Tariff to be paid of 2 1/2%," Trump said on Twitter. "When a car is sent to China from the United States, there is a Tariff to be paid of 25%. Does that sound like free or fair trade. No, it sounds like STUPID TRADE - going on for years!" he wrote. ​ His tweet comes after the U.S. and China have each announced lists of imported products that will face new taxes. Earlier Monday, China’s foreign ministry said that trade talks under the current conditions were not possible. However, on Sunday, Trump tweeted that he believed trade disputes with China would be solved. He said, “China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do.” Trump added that he believed taxes on trade between the two sides would become reciprocal. He also said he believed that there would be a deal on intellectual property that would be good for the future of both countries. The U.S. leader called Chinese President Xi Jinping “a friend” no matter what happens in the trade dispute. Sides trading tariffs Last week, China announced tariffs on more than 100 U.S. products, including vehicles and plastic goods. The list also includes agricultural products, such as soybeans, wheat, corn, beef and tobacco. The new tariffs would affect $50 billion worth of American products. The move followed a Trump administration announcement that it plans to impose tariffs on about $50 billion dollars in Chinese exports. A list of products has yet to be identified. However, after China announced its latest measures on Thursday, President Trump suggested that he might impose additional tariffs. He said those taxes might affect $100 billion in Chinese goods. The suggestion added to growing tensions over trade. Speaking to CBS News Sunday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, while there is a risk of a trade war, he does not believe one will take place. “Our expectation is that we don’t think there will be a trade war. Our objective is to continue to have discussions with China. I don’t expect there will be a trade war,” he said. Many U.S. lawmakers are concerned that American businesses could be hurt if China sets up more tariffs on U.S. goods. Gary Hufbauer is with the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He told VOA that the president and Trump administration officials recognize that tariffs would be “very damaging to both economies.” Hufbauer noted that, “The short-term impact would be highly adverse. Both sides have a lot to gain by negotiations rather than actually implementing a tariff war,” he said. I’m Mario Ritter. Ken Bredemeier reported this story for VOANews.com. 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   tariffs – n. taxes on imported or exported goods or services reciprocal – adj. a situation where each side agrees to do something similar for the other intellectual property – n. property that come from invention or ideas, which is protected by patents or copyright agreements matter – n. something that is being done or talked about impose – v. to put a rule, law or tax officially into effect adverse – adj. not good, unfavorable implementing – v. causing some plan or policy to happen or take place  

Abused Chimpanzees Find Home in Sierra Leone Wildlife Refuge

Paz, 08.04.2018 - 23:41
  For more than 20 years, the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary has cared for abused chimpanzees and chimps whose mothers have died. Victims of the illegal wildlife trade, the animals often arrive at the sanctuary with many problems. The wildlife refuge was set up near Freetown, Sierra Leone, in 1995. Since then, the sanctuary has accepted 77 chimpanzees, all victims of the wildlife trafficking. Money to operate the camp comes from the European Union, several zoos in western countries and environmental groups. Willie Tucker serves as the camp’s supervisor. He has been with the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary since it opened. He says that the illegal trade of chimpanzees is inhumane and hurts local ape populations. "One chimpanzee pet at home means several other chimpanzees would have been killed in the process…because in the capture a young chimpanzee from the forest, you must first interfere with the mother…you end up killing the mother first, the father, the uncles.” The sanctuary has a program to help chimpanzees as they recover from abuse. Tucker says the surviving chimps often arrive at the camp with bullet or knife wounds. Others were starving. “Sometimes they are living in bad conditions. So when they get here, we make sure that we change their diet slowly.” He adds that the chimpanzees are given vaccinations to protect them against diseases such as polio and tetanus. Once healthy, they get to meet and spend time with other chimps. Over time, the animals are placed in an enclosed, semi-wild environment, where they can look for food and act as naturally as they would in the wild. But many chimps reject the wild life. “Chimpanzees, once kept as pets, it’s difficult to be released. It’s like they have been used to staying with people. It’s possible that even after 20 or 30 years you send them back to the jungle without any controlled areas and they will find their way back to people’s homes.” Sierra Leone’s chimpanzee trade has dropped sharply in the past few years. Tucker believes this is resulted from Tacugama’s education program for local communities, which teaches people to leave the animals alone. David Momoh heads those programs. “Since the sanctuary started, we were getting something like five to six chimps a year, but now we are looking at the point we take only maybe one chimp a year.” But now, there is a new threat to Sierra Leone’s chimpanzee population: the clearing of forests. In 2010, the government reported that just five percent of original forests remain untouched. And development is moving closer to those few remaining forests, including the one at the national park around Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Momoh says more housing is being built in and around Freetown because of the city’s growing population. He says this has led to a lot of deforestation, even within the protected area itself. Momoh believes the government must increase its efforts to protect the natural habitat of chimpanzees. But until then, the animals can find sanctuary at Tacugama. I’m Susan Shand.   Jason Patinkin reported this story for VOANews.com. Susan Shand adapted his report for Learning English. The editor was George Grow. ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   sanctuary – n. a place where someone or something is protected or given shelter zoo – n. a place where many animals are kept pet – n. an animal kept for pleasure or company, not for its usefulness semi – prefix Partial or incomplete jungle – n. a thick growth of plants; a large area usually covered with a think growth of plants original – adj. of or relating to a beginning; not secondary park – n. a piece of ground kept for recreation; a space occupied by animals or plants

Robots Could Take Jobs from Africans, Researchers Warn

Paz, 08.04.2018 - 23:33
  It could soon cost less to operate a factory of robots in the United States than to employ a human worker in Africa. That is the finding of a report from a London-based research organization. The report warns that automation could have a bad effect on developing economies. It says to avoid that governments must invest in digitalization and skills training. Businesses traditionally have sent production work to the developing world where labor is less costly. But, technology may soon bring an end to that. The policy research organization Overseas Development Institute recently examined furniture manufacturing in Africa. Karishma Banga was a lead researcher. She says that in the next 15 to 20 years the use of robots to make furniture will cost less than Kenyan labor. By 2033, she says, it will be more profitable for American businesses to return production operations to the United States. Robot costs are falling about 6 percent every year, but the cost of wages is rising every year. Some businesses are trying to help the human workers who are competing with robots. The Funkidz furniture factory in Kenya ended its traditional system of production. Now, skilled workers operate automated machines that use computer-aided designs. The investment is successful. There has been growth and expansion into Uganda and Rwanda. But the company leader Ciiru Waweru Waithaka says she cannot find enough skilled workers. She said, “There are many people who need jobs, yes, we agree, but if they have no skills… I would love to employ you, but you need a skill, (or) you cannot operate our machines.” She also said she is urging the government to help train workers. The ODI report writers are doing the same. They say African governments should use the next few years to build industrial and digital skills among people before it is too late. I’m Susan Shand.   VOA's Henry Ridgewell reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.  ________________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   automation – n. the system of using machines or computers, instead of people, to do the work digitalization – n. using or characterized by computer technology furniture – n. chairs, tables, beds, that are used to make a room ready for use

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