VOA Special English - UNSV英语学习频道VOA Special Englishhttp://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/http://www.unsv.com/images/unsv.gifVOA慢速英语即VOA Special English,又叫VOA特别英语,是快速提高听力、纠正发音、改善阅读理解,扩充英语知识的绝佳节目,还被新东方、疯狂英语等培训机构选作核心教材。http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/zh-CNhttp://www.unsv.com60版权所有©2003-2011 UNSV.COM英语学习频道,保留所有权利。Sun, 15 Jan 2017 12:28:39 UTC<![CDATA[The Cost of Doing Business]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Sales clerks ring up customers at Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas. More Americans work in retail and as cashiers than in any other occupations. (Photo by Gunnar Rathbun/Invision for Walmart/AP Images)
Sales clerks ring up customers at Walmart in Bentonville, Arkansas. More Americans work in retail and as cashiers than in any other occupations. (Photo by Gunnar Rathbun/Invision for Walmart/AP Images)

Now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.

There are many special terms in the world of business. The following story is about a woman who has a business making signs. She tells us about a recent sweetheart deal. She made a deal with a friend, and they both made a profit.

Here is Faith Lapidus with that story.

I had started a small company several years ago. I worked hard to make it successful. It was a sign-making business. It was a small company, not a blue chip company. It was not known nationally for the quality of its signs. It did not make millions of dollars in profits. And it was private. It was not a public company with shares traded on the stock market.

Still, I worked hard building up my business. I did not work only a few hours each day -- no banker’s hours for me. Instead I spent many hours each day, seven days a week, trying to grow the company. I never cut corners or tried to save on expenses. I made many cold calls. I called on possible buyers from a list of people I had never seen. Such calls were often hard sells. I had to be very firm.

Sometimes I sold my signs at a loss. I did not make money on my product. When this happened, there were cut backs. I had to use fewer supplies and reduce the number of workers. But after several years, the company broke even. Profits were equal to expenses. And soon after, I began to gain ground. My signs were selling very quickly. They were selling like hotcakes.

I was happy. The company was moving forward and making real progress. It was in the black, not in the red. The company was making money, not losing it.

My friend knew about my business. He is a leader in the sign-making industry – a real big gun, if you know what I mean. He offered to buy my company. My friend wanted to take it public. He wanted to sell shares in the company to the general public.

My friend believed it was best to strike while the iron is hot. He wanted to take action at the best time possible and not wait. He offered me a ball park estimate of the amount he would pay to buy my company. But I knew his uneducated guess was low. My company was worth much more. He asked his bean-counter to crunch the numbers. That is, he asked his accountant to take a close look at the finances of my company and decide how much it was worth. Then my friend increased his offer.

My friend’s official offer was finally given to me in black and white. It was written on paper and more than I ever dreamed. I was finally able to get a break. I made a huge profit on my company, and my friend also got a bang for the buck. He got a successful business for the money he spent.

And that is the end of our business story. But even if you’re not in business, some of these expressions can be used in other situations.

For example, you can cut corners or get a break anywhere. Let’s say you are planning a party and don’t have enough money. You might have to cut corners on the food you serve. Or you could get a break by winning $100 on free food at your local grocery store!

The expression black and white can also mean a very clear choice that leaves no confusion. Sometimes we use it in the negative. Politics, for example, is not as black and white as some people may think. There are often shades of gray when dealing with complicated political issues and how they affect government policy.

And that’s all for this Words and Their Stories.

After listening to this story, you should strike while the iron is hot! While the expressions are still fresh in your mind, practice using them in a business conversation.

I’m Anna Matteo.

'Break even' is a common expression in American English. Watch this episode of English in a Minute to hear it used in a dialogue.

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<![CDATA[Obama Leaves Healthy US Economy to Trump]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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President Barack Obama leaves the economy to Donald Trump in much better shape than when he took office in 2009.
President Barack Obama leaves the economy to Donald Trump in much better shape than when he took office in 2009.

The American economy appears to be in good health as Donald Trump prepares to become the 45th president of the United States.

Trump will be inaugurated on Friday, January 20.

Economic conditions were far different when Barack Obama was sworn-in as president in January 2009.

Obama took office during one of the worst recessions in American history. Unemployment levels reached 10 percent. The recession slowed that summer, but the economy did not fully recover for many more months.

Trump, on the other hand, takes over an economy that has added jobs in each of the past 75 months. During that period, nearly 11 million jobs have been created.

Mark Hamrick reports on economic news and is Washington Bureau Chief for the website Bankrate.com. He says Obama is leaving office with a strong economy.

'Donald Trump can be, let's say confident, that he is being given an opportunity to do relatively well here, and I think Barack Obama can be relatively pleased about the job that he and his administration have done.'

The building trade is one part of the economy that added jobs under Obama and may continue to create jobs in the future.

Cracks and weeds grow daily as the National Parks Service struggles to repair the Memorial Bridge, Aug. 9, 2016. (E. Sarai/VOA)
Cracks and weeds grow daily as the National Parks Service struggles to repair the Memorial Bridge, Aug. 9, 2016. (E. Sarai/VOA)

Trump’s campaign website says he plans to invest government money in building new roads, bridges and pipelines and repairing ones that need fixing.

Ken Simonson is chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America. He says he hopes Trump’s administration follows through with that promise. There are many workers ready to start new projects, he adds.

U.S. oil producers may soon be able to sell their petroleum products overseas. That should help the economy, too.

Oil prices are rising, after falling in recent years. Three years ago, oil was selling for about $100 per barrel, according to Macrotrends.net. Now it sells for just over $50 per barrel.

Jack Girard is president of the American Petroleum Institute. He calls the likelihood of exporting American oil “a big deal.”

FILE - An employee welds pipe at Pioneer Pipe on Oct. 25, 2016 in Marietta, Ohio. The construction, maintenance and fabrication company employs around 800 people, supplying products to the oil and gas industry.
FILE - An employee welds pipe at Pioneer Pipe on Oct. 25, 2016 in Marietta, Ohio. The construction, maintenance and fabrication company employs around 800 people, supplying products to the oil and gas industry.

Wages paid to workers are important in judging the health of an economy. Hamrick of Bankrate.com says American wages are rising at their fastest rate since 2009.

“Hopefully we’ll see more of that in the future,” Hamrick said.

Many states also have plans to raise the minimum wage.

Yet, there are still some problems facing the new U.S. president and the economy.

In recent years, the country has added between 100,000 and 300,000 jobs each month. That rate of increase is likely to decrease. While 156,000 jobs were added in December, the unemployment rate stayed at 4.7 percent. That means 7.5 million people who were hoping to find work are still jobless.

There are also many people who have left the labor force after not being able to find employment. The measurement of that number is called the labor participation rate, and it remains historically low.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the labor participation rate was 66 percent in January 2006. By December 2016, it had dropped to 62.7 percent.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Mil Arcega reported this story for VOANews.com. Dan Friedell adapted his story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

What effect will Donald Trump have on the U.S. economy? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

inaugurate – v. an occasion or ceremony in which someone begins a new official job or position by making a formal promise to do the work properly, to be honest and loyal, etc.

confident – adj. certain that something will happen or that something is true

contractor – n. a builder or construction worker

petroleum – n. a kind of oil that comes from below the ground and that is the source of gasoline and other products

minimum wage – n. an amount of money that is the least amount of money per hour that workers must be paid according to the law

]]>
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<![CDATA[In Emotional Goodbye, Obama Awards Biden America's Highest Honor]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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President Barack Obama presents Vice President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Jan. 12, 2017.
President Barack Obama presents Vice President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Jan. 12, 2017.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom – America’s highest civilian honor.

U.S. President Barack Obama surprised Biden with the award Thursday during an emotional ceremony at the White House.

Obama announced the award after praising Biden for his years of service, calling him “the finest vice president we have ever seen.”

Biden appeared shocked at the announcement, which he said Obama and others inside the White House had kept secret. After hearing the award was about to be presented, Biden briefly turned away from the cameras to clear some tears.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is America’s highest award for civilians. Obama has awarded the medal to others during his presidency. But he explained that Biden’s award carried an additional level of distinction that he has never given out before.

Obama said this highest-level award was only given to three individuals by the three presidents that served before him. Those individuals were Pope John Paul II, former President Ronald Reagan and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

In his tribute to Biden, Obama said that from the very start, he never regretted choosing him as his right-hand man.

“He was the best possible choice, not just for me, but for the American people.”

Obama said Biden’s advice on many issues had made him a better president. He called the vice president “a lion of American history.”

“To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard and to live life fully.”

Both men said that during Obama’s eight-year term, the two had developed a relationship that went far beyond their work. Many extended members of the Obama and Biden families also became close personal friends.

First lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden visit with children as they make gifts for their mothers during their annual Mother’s Day Tea to honor military-connected mothers at the White House in Washington, Friday, May 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
First lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden visit with children as they make gifts for their mothers during their annual Mother’s Day Tea to honor military-connected mothers at the White House in Washington, Friday, May 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

After Obama placed the medal around his neck, Biden thanked him and then reflected on his term as vice president.

He said he greatly valued being trusted by Obama in “every single thing you've asked me to do.” He said he always found it easy working for and with Obama, for whom he said he had the highest level of respect.

“I’ve never known a president - and few people I’ve ever met - who have had the integrity and the decency and the sense of other people’s needs like you do.”

Biden said he hopes to always be able to look back and say, “I was part of the journey of a remarkable man who did remarkable things for this country.”

He noted that even though he felt he may not deserve the medal, he knew “it came from the President’s heart.”

President Barack Obama laughs with Vice President Joe Biden during a ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Jan. 12, 2017.
President Barack Obama laughs with Vice President Joe Biden during a ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Jan. 12, 2017.

“Mr. President, you know as long as there’s a breath in me, I’ll be there for you, my whole family will be. And I know, I know it is reciprocal.'

Obama gave his farewell speech as president on Tuesday in his hometown of Chicago. He will leave the White House on January 20, when President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, with additional material from the Associated Press. Hai Do was the editor.

What are your thoughts on President Obama and Vice President Biden as they prepare to leave office? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

distinction – n. quality that makes someone or something special or different

tribute – n. something said or done to show respect or affection for someone

right-hand man - expression. an important assistant or helper

pretense – n. false reason or explanation used to hide the real meaning of something

integrityn. honesty and knowing what is morally right or wrong

decencyn. honest and moral behavior

remarkable – adj. unusual or noticeable, usually in a good way

deserve v. to be worthy of

reciprocal adj. way people agree to do things for each other

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<![CDATA[Alaskan Police Launch Kindness Campaign]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Alaska City Kindness Campaign - In this Dec. 20, 2016 photo, Thunder Mountain High School Principal Dan Larson, left, poses for photos with Mitchell Henderson, one of the students from Juneau-Douglas High School.
Alaska City Kindness Campaign - In this Dec. 20, 2016 photo, Thunder Mountain High School Principal Dan Larson, left, poses for photos with Mitchell Henderson, one of the students from Juneau-Douglas High School.

After a year of clashes between American citizens and police officers, police in Alaska are trying something different: Making 2017 a “Year of Kindness.”

The police department in Juneau, Alaska launched the campaign to urge residents to perform at least one act of kindness every day.

The department says it hopes to “build bridges” between people to overcome racial, religious or socioeconomic differences.

Fighting hate with kindness

The idea for the campaign came from police Lieutenant Kris Sell. She told VOA that her concern was not just for police, but also for safety of citizens.

“I had this idea in about late August that we needed to do something, and that maybe, all of these attacks, if they have at their roots hate, we can go after their hate. And how we can go after their hate is with kindness.”

Sell said the Juneau police are doing several different things to support the campaign. For example, officers are giving away donated socks the first Saturday of each month for anyone who needs them.

Alaska City Kindness Campaign
Alaska City Kindness Campaign

She also said the police department has developed a 'kindness surge' calendar. Juneau residents and community groups can sign up for weekly activities on the planner.

Sell said the goal is to measure the effect of kindness on crime, suicides and emergency calls by the end of 2017.

She adds that the campaign has received a lot of support.

“What I did is went out to the community, to say ‘how about we as an entire town push back against hatred and violence and just negativity?’ And I got a tremendous amount of support. The town was very excited about it. I’m not sure why this particular effort resonates so much with people, but I think it has to do with a position across the country that people don’t like what they are seeing happening around them, and they want to do something to try and change their environment.”

Making better communities

Sell said it makes sense for police officers to take the lead on a kindness campaign because they are the people who react when people don't treat others well. She hopes the campaign will spread across the country so other communities become nicer places to live.

“I can change what I do every day and I can change the area six feet (two meters) around me, but if I get thousands of people in the community on board with doing that, I think you can change an entire community. And that’s what we are hoping to prove with this initiative, in that we can change what it feels like to live in a particular city...”

She noted that the kindness campaign does not extend to law enforcement activities. Tickets for speed or other traffic violations are not being forgiven.

I’m Phil Dierking.

Victor Beattie wrote this story for VOANews.com. Phil Dierking adapted his report for Learning English, and included information from other media sources. George Grow was the editor.

Do you think a campaign of kindness by the police is a good idea? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

resident n. someone who lives in a particular place

sock n. a piece of clothing that is worn on your foot and that covers your ankle and sometimes the lower part of your leg

socioeconomic – adj. of, relating to, or involving a combination of social and economic factors

surge – v. to suddenly increase to an unusually high level

tremendous adj. very large or great

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<![CDATA[New Coin Shows 'Lady Liberty' as African-American Woman]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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The new $100 gold coin featuring an African-American woman as the face of Lady Liberty is shown. Courtesy of The United States Mint/Handout via REUTERS
The new $100 gold coin featuring an African-American woman as the face of Lady Liberty is shown. Courtesy of The United States Mint/Handout via REUTERS

This is What’s Trending Today…

Images of Lady Liberty have appeared on American money over the years.

Coins have shown her standing tall with a crown on head. She is usually holding a lamp in one hand.

And, one thing has remained the same: Lady Liberty has always been white.

That will change in April.

The United States Mint has released the design for a new $100 gold coin that shows Lady Liberty as a black woman. The special coin is being released to mark the 225th anniversary of the Mint’s coin production.

It will be made of 24-karat gold and go on sale April 6. But the $100 coin will not be available to the public; it is meant for coin collectors.

Lady Liberty
Lady Liberty

​The U.S. Mint says this will be the first in a series of gold coins that show Lady Liberty as a non-white woman. Future coins will show her as Asian-American, Hispanic-American and Indian-American. The Mint will release a new coin in the series every two years.

Officials say the goal is to represent the “cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States.”

Lady Liberty is one of the most powerful and enduring signs of America. Her image represents hope and freedom.

The Treasury Department said of the new Lady Liberty coins, “We boldly look to the future by casting Liberty in a new light, as an African-American woman wearing a crown of stars, looking forward to ever brighter chapters in our Nation’s history book.”

People reacted to the announcement on social media. “Lady Liberty” became a trending topic.

Chirlane McCray, a speechwriter and poet, wrote on Twitter: “Now, this? This is liberty.”

McCray is married to New York City’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio.

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Ashley Thompson.

Words in This Story

crown - n. a decorative object that is shaped like a circle and worn on the head

lamp - n. a device that produces light

enduring - adj. continuing or long-lasting

]]>
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<![CDATA[China Launches New Intelligence Gathering Ship]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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China Launches New Intelligence Gathering Ship
China Launches New Intelligence Gathering Ship

China has launched a new intelligence gathering ship in the latest addition to the country’s growing navy fleet.

The official China Daily reported the new ship arrived to join other military support vessels Tuesday in the eastern port of Qingdao. It will support China’s North Sea Fleet.

The newspaper said China’s navy now operates six electronic reconnaissance vessels. It noted that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “has never made public so many details about its intelligence collection ships.”

It added that the new vessel “is capable of conducting all-weather, round-the-clock reconnaissance on multiple and different targets.”

In this May 24, 2014 photo, China's Harbin (112) guided missile destroyer, left, and the DDG-139 Ningbo Sovremenny class Type-956EM destroyer, right, take part in a China-Russia 'Joint Sea-2014' navy exercise at the East China Sea off Shanghai, China.
In this May 24, 2014 photo, China's Harbin (112) guided missile destroyer, left, and the DDG-139 Ningbo Sovremenny class Type-956EM destroyer, right, take part in a China-Russia 'Joint Sea-2014' navy exercise at the East China Sea off Shanghai, China.

The ship launch comes as China has increased its patrols in disputed areas of the South China Sea. Regional navy officials have reported Chinese ships are increasingly following vessels – including U.S. and Japanese warships - passing through the area.

China claims most of the South China Sea, an important waterway through which more than $5 trillion worth in trade passes each year. The area contains rich fishing grounds and is believed to hold oil and natural gas. The Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia also have claims to the sea.

Other claimants and the United States have criticized China for creating man-made islands in the disputed area. Recently released satellite images also appear to show that China had added weapons to some of the islands.

A satellite image released by the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies shows construction of possible radar tower facilities in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea in this im
A satellite image released by the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies shows construction of possible radar tower facilities in the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea in this im

On Wednesday, Rex Tillerson, the nominee for U.S. Secretary of State, called on China to stop building more islands. He added that, “access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.”

China has refused to accept the ruling of an international court last year that rejected its “historical” claims to large areas of the sea. The Philippines brought the case to the court.

Chinese officials have said they want to settle disputes in the South China Sea through direct talks with other claimants.

As part of its latest navy buildup, China has also said it is working to complete the country’s second aircraft carrier. China currently only has one carrier – its Soviet-built Liaoning vessel.

China's Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducts a drill in an area of South China Sea, in this undated photo taken December 2016.
China's Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducts a drill in an area of South China Sea, in this undated photo taken December 2016.

Earlier this week, China said it had sent its Liaoning carrier into the Taiwan Strait to join military exercises in a nearby area. The 160-kilometer strait separates Taiwan from southeastern China.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said it had kept an eye on the carrier and found that it had not entered Taiwanese waters.

A Chinese spokesman said it was “very normal” for the Liaoning to pass though international waters as part of drills.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from Reuters, the South China Morning Post, the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse. Hai Do was the editor.

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

Words in This Story

fleet – n. a group of ships

vessel – n. a ship or large boat

reconnaissance – n. process of gathering information about a place or area for military use

patrol n. going through an area to make sure it is safe

aircraft carrier n. a ship on which airplanes can take off and land

drill n. training activity conducted by soldiers​

]]>
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<![CDATA[Minerals Important to Your Health]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/01/13/8959/

Minerals Important to Your Health
Minerals Important to Your Health

Minerals are important elements for keeping the human body healthy.

Minerals are necessary for life-saving medicines. They are also useful in cutting-edge medical equipment.

Minerals and their uses are the subject of an exhibition at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Washington, D.C.

The Clinical Center worked in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History to tell the story of minerals in medicine.

Visitors to the exhibit will see 40 minerals that look as if they could be used in costly jewelry. But these minerals are much more important than that.

The show is called 'Minerals in Medicine.' It explains how minerals dug up from the earth make a big difference in human health, medicines and treatment.

John Gallin is director of the NIH Clinical Center. He says minerals are important not only for good health but also for treatments that keep us healthy.

'Each mineral has a different role. Some are important as antibiotics, such as silver. Some are important in carrying certain proteins from one place to another, such as copper. Some are important in our teeth health, such as fluoride. They have different functions and that's what makes them so magical.'

He adds that these minerals are necessary for medical equipment used in health care centers around the world.

'For example Beryl, which is beautiful crystal, is very important in our imaging equipment for high resolution imaging such as in CT (Computed Tomography) scans and breast mammography.'

'This is the source of the CT, computed tomography…'

That was Les Folio, a radiologist working at the National Institutes of Health. He notes that other minerals are also required in imaging devices.

'These are resultant CT images getting us a three-dimensional information. You can see the lungs and the abdominal organs and these green areas are lymph nodes from metastatic cancer. CT picks those up beautifully thanks to the minerals on the exhibit.'

Most gypsum comes from Spain. This mineral has long been used in dentistry – the study, prevention and treatment of diseases of the mouth. Robert Range is a dentist at NIH.

'The gypsum in this case is a stone that is being used to create the mold of the patient's gum tissue and teeth for diagnostic purposes.'

The 40 minerals in the exhibit are on loan from the National Museum of Natural History. The exhibit is part of an ongoing arts exhibition at the clinical center. John Gallin says that art can have an effect on a person’s health. And he considers looking at beautiful minerals as a form of art.

“The impact of art on health is very intriguing – probably very important. Art can be paintings, it can be music as well as looking at things like crystals and minerals. (It) makes people smile and makes them feel better.”

Gallin says he hopes visitors can also begin to understand the importance of minerals in their health and well-being.

I’m Anna Matteo.

June Soh wrote this story VOANews.com. Anna Matteo adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

cutting edgeadj. the newest and most advanced area of activity in an art, science, etc.

Computed Tomography n. technical : radiography in which a three-dimensional image of a body structure is constructed by computer from a series of plane cross-sectional images made along an axis —called also computed axial tomography, computerized axial tomography, computerized tomography

resultant adj. always used before a noun formal : coming from or caused by something else

three-dimensionaladj. having or seeming to have length, width, and depth

lymph node n. any one of many rounded masses of tissue in the body through which lymph passes to be filtered and cleaned

metastasis n. the spread of a disease-producing agency (as cancer cells) from the initial or primary site of disease to another part of the body; also : the process by which such spreading occurs metastaticadj.

mold n. a cavity in which a substance is shaped:

diagnostic adj. technical : of, relating to, or used in diagnosis : used to help identify a disease, illness, or problem

magical adj. an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source

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<![CDATA[Can You Catch These Native Speaker Mistakes?]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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From VOA Learning English, this is Everyday Grammar.

This week, we will learn a few English words and phrases that are commonly misused in English.

Even well-educated native English speakers make the mistakes you will read and hear about today, including reporters and English teachers!

After today’s program, you can have fun finding these mistakes when other people use them.

Let’s start with a very common written mistake that native English speakers make.

'could of' or could’ve

If you spend time on social media, such as Facebook, you may see that native English speakers often use the word of after the words could, would or should. For example, in the sentence:

I could of gone to New York last weekend.

However, the word of is a preposition. The sentence needs a verb instead. The confusion is caused by the shortened, or abbreviated, version of “could have.” It takes an apostrophe followed by the letters ve. The spelling then is could've.

The preposition of sounds just like the shortened version of the verb have, which is pronounced ’ve.

In speaking, this is not a problem, since both phrases sound the same.

In writing, an easy way to remember the correct form is that could, would and should are helping verbs. So another verb must always follow them.

In the example, “I could’ve gone to New York last weekend,” have and gone are forms of verbs. Of is a preposition and would never appear after a helping verb.

Every day or Everyday

Another writing error happens every day in America. Native English speakers often misspell “every day!” They will write it as one word instead of two.

When every and day are put together as one word, they become an adjective that means “common” or “used or seen each day.” When you use this adjective, you must usually put it before a noun. For example, you can say:

He didn’t let the problems of everyday life worry him.

But, if you wanted to tell someone that something happens each day, you must separate the words every and day in writing. For example, you could write:​

I practice my grammar every day.

When every and day are separate words, they are an adverb phrase that describes when, or how often, something happens.

So, how can you easily remember which one to use? Think of the title Everyday Grammar. Remember, if you are writing the single word everyday, it is an adjective that most often comes before a noun. But the two words every and day express how often something happens. And they are an adverb phrase, and must modify a verb.

The other mistakes we are looking at today can happen in either speech or writing.

Different than or different from

Many native English speakers use the phrase different than to show contrast between things or people. For example:

Children are different than adults.

Technically, that is incorrect. Standard English usage requires from instead of than, in this case. The correct sentence would be:

Children are different from adults.

But grammar experts do not always agree. Some of them say the phrase different than is acceptable. It has existed for centuries, they argue, and famous writers have used it in their works. For instance, 19th century writer F. Scott Fitzgerald used different than in his short story “The Rich Boy.” Listen:

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different than you and me.

Some grammar experts say that both than and from are acceptable. However, no one objects to from, so it would be your safest choice, especially in academic writing.

“15 items or less”

The less grammar you understand, the more mistakes you probably will make. And the fewer grammar mistakes you make, the better.

Which brings us to another common grammar mistake: the use and misuse of fewer and less. Fewer is used with countable nouns; Less, with non-countable.

This mistake is found at food stores throughout the U.S. where signs at checkout lines sometimes read “15 items or less.” These lines are for people who are not buying very much.

But the phrase uses the adjective less to describe items, a countable noun. So less is wrong; the correct adjective is fewer.

The word fewer must be used with count nouns, like items, animals, cars, or dresses. Less is used with non-count nouns, such as money, sand, love, or water. (See our Everyday Grammar episode on Understanding Non-count Nouns)

So how can you remember whether to use less or fewer? One easy way to remember is to ask yourself, 'Can I count this thing on a few fingers?' If the answer is 'yes,' use the word fewer.

We will be back next week with another Everyday Grammar. And remember: if you understand how to use the words discussed today, you are different from many English speakers!

I’m John Russell. And I’m Jill Robbins.

Alice Bryant wrote this story for Everyday Grammar. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Have you struggled with the commonly misused words we discussed today? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the comments section.

Words in This Story

native English speaker - a person whose first language is English

contrast - n. something that is different from another thing

standard - adj. accepted and used by most of the educated speakers and writers of a language

checkout line - n. the place or area where goods are paid for in a store

item - n. an individual thing

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<![CDATA[Michelle Obama Surprises Supporters on 'Tonight Show']]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Michelle Obama joined Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show" on Wednesday. She said goodbye to many people who followed her family in the White House.
Michelle Obama joined Jimmy Fallon on "The Tonight Show" on Wednesday. She said goodbye to many people who followed her family in the White House.

This is What’s Trending Today.

Barack and Michelle Obama are saying their goodbyes as their time in the White House comes to an end.

The President and First Lady have been making their final speeches and television appearances.

Michelle Obama recently did a farewell interview with television host Oprah Winfrey. Barack Obama gave his farewell speech to the American people in Chicago on Tuesday night.

And on Wednesday, Michelle Obama had some fun with late night television host Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show.”

One part of the show the first lady took part in is called “Thank-You Notes.” It is a popular segment. In it, Fallon usually writes humorous “Thank-You Notes” to celebrities, people in the news or strange things he notices about life.

For example, he once wrote a thank-you note to the word moist “for being the worst word, ever.”

Fallon and Obama took turns writing messages. Fallon wrote “Thank you, First Lady Michelle Obama, for bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘the right to bear arms.’”

Obama is known for showing off her strong arms by wearing sleeveless dresses.

But in a more serious segment, the show’s producers asked regular people to describe what Michelle Obama means to them.

The people looked at a painting of the first lady as they spoke. One woman said, “because of you, I know that my race does not define who I am, or what I can accomplish.”

Another person said, “Thank you for making me a more confident woman.”

One man said Michelle Obama reminded him of the best teachers he ever had.

Another man thanked Obama for inspiring his young daughter to eat more vegetables, and for always encouraging kindness.

After each person finished speaking, they got a huge surprise. Michelle Obama herself stepped out from behind a curtain. She hugged them and thanked them for their kind words.

The participants were surprised and emotional. Some even cried on the first lady’s shoulder.

One woman exclaimed, “This is not what I was expecting. I was eating pizza bites yesterday in my bed and now I’m meeting the first lady!”

Another participant turned out to be a former classmate of Obama’s. The two attended Princeton University together.

The video came out on Facebook and YouTube early Thursday morning. It has already been played over 11 million times.

Viewers described the video as “an amazing segment,” “really heart-warming.”

Some wrote that they watched with tears rolling down their cheeks.

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

What did you think of Michelle Obama’s appearance on the show? Let us know in the comments section.

Words in This Story

segment – n. a part of something larger

moist – adj. slightly or barely wet

bear – v. to carry or move something

accomplish – v. to succeed in doing something

farewell – adj. done when someone is leaving, ending a career, etc.

confident - adj. having a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something

inspire - v. to make (someone) want to do something

curtain - n. a piece of cloth that hangs down and can be used to cover the window (or doorway)

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<![CDATA[Music Service Spotify Recruits Barack Obama]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Barack Obama will leave office on January 20, 2017. What will he do next? Spotify has a job for him.
Barack Obama will leave office on January 20, 2017. What will he do next? Spotify has a job for him.

This is What’s Trending Today.

Barack Obama gave his final speech as President of the United States on Tuesday night.

His final day in office is Friday, January 20. That is the day that Donald Trump will be sworn in as America’s 45th president.

The Obama family plans to continue living in Washington, D.C. while younger daughter Sasha finishes high school.

But what will the former president do with his time?

Some observers think Obama will get to work helping the Democratic Party find new candidates who can win local elections in 2018.

Obama said in 2015 that he might go back to working on issues similar to those he worked on before he got involved in politics. Before he became a state senator in Illinois, he helped poor communities in Chicago.

But, in case Obama changes his mind, the popular music streaming service Spotify seems to have a job for him.

The music service published a job posting on Monday for a “President of Playlists.”

Some of requirements for the job are very specific. Obama is likely the only person in the world who is qualified for the job.

The job requirements include having had singer Kendrick Lamar perform at a birthday party. Lamar, Obama and Janelle Monae all sang “Happy Birthday” to Obama’s daughter Malia in 2016.

Another requirement is eight years of “running a highly-regarded nation.” Spotify also says the applicants must have a Nobel Peace Prize.

The listing also mentions being one of the “greatest speakers of all time.”

Many people enjoyed Obama’s summer music playlists he created last August. His playlists included artists like Miles Davis, Aloe Blacc and Leon Bridges.

The founder of Spotify is Daniel Ek of Sweden. He tweeted the job listing on Monday.

He wrote: “Hey Barack Obama, I heard you were interested in a role at Spotify. Have you seen this one?”

The message was liked and retweeted almost 20,000 times.

One person said she would sign-up for Spotify if Obama came to work for the service.

And, many people said they would happily take the job if Obama were not interested.

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English based on news service reports. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Do you think Barack Obama would be a good Spotify employee? Let us know in the comments section.

Words in This Story

streaming – adj. playing continuously as data is sent to a computer over the Internet

playlist – n. a list of songs to be played especially by a radio station

regard – n. a feeling of respect and admiration for someone or something

posting – n. a public announcement of something

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<![CDATA[Obama Appeals for Unity, Warns of Threats to Democracy]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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U.S. President Barack Obama waves after finishing his farewell speech in Chicago, Illinois, January 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
U.S. President Barack Obama waves after finishing his farewell speech in Chicago, Illinois, January 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

In his final speech as president, Barack Obama said he is more hopeful now than when he was first elected.

He called for unity and for all Americans to stay involved in the country’s democracy.

Obama went home to Chicago, Illinois to give his last speech as president. He leaves office on January 20.

Chicago was where his political career started more than 20 years ago. On Tuesday night, he spoke to thousands of supporters.

'Thank you! It's good to be home! Thank you!'

Obama took a look back on his eight years as president. He said the United States is a “better, stronger place” than when he took office in 2009.

People cheered as he listed some of the things his administration has done.

'If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history…if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran's nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11…if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens ... if I had told you all that, you might have said our sights were set a little too high...'

Recognizing the current political divide in the country, Obama urged Americans to seek common ground with one another. He said that while 'democracy does not require uniformity,' it does 'require a basic sense of solidarity.'

Obama is the first African American to serve as president of the United States. After his election, there was talk of a “post-racial” America — one where race is not important. But Obama said race is a still a “potent and often divisive force” -- meaning that it is still a strong issue, and one that divides people.

The president warned that the nation faces threats to democracy, such as issues of economic and racial inequality.

Obama said the United States has to guard against weakening its values because of fear. One of the loudest cheers he received was when he said he rejects discrimination against Muslim Americans.

The president said he was more hopeful about the country now than when he took office. He called on Americans to stay involved in the democratic process.

'I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written: Yes, We Can...'

It was a return to his 2008 campaign saying “Yes, we can.”

REUTERS Obama Farewell Address
REUTERS Obama Farewell Address

Some observers say the president’s comments sounded more like a campaign speech than a traditional farewell address.

Larry Sabato is a political scientist with the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. He told VOA the speech was different from others given by presidents before they left office.

“Certainly, it was untraditional, we’ve never had a farewell address like this. One can only imagine what George Washington, or for that matter Dwight Eisenhower, who had the most famous farewell address, would have thought of this manner of delivery. It was more like a political rally.”

Sabato says Obama leaves office with a mixed record. He thinks the president achieved a fair amount, but he adds, 'it’s also true that we’re more divided than ever.” And he notes, most of the speech was about positions and actions that Donald Trump wants to amend or end in the coming years.

“When we think back on this speech, we’re going to realize that most of what President Obama talked about is no longer reality...”

In less than two weeks, Trump will be sworn-in as president. And Barack Obama will return to being a private citizen.

Obama says he will stay involved as a citizen. He plans to stay in Washington while his youngest daughter finishes high school.

I’m Anne Ball.

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

Words in This Story

common ground – n. basing something on a common interest or agreement

uniform adj. having the same form

solidarity n. unity that is based on community interests or beliefs

divisive adj. creating disunity

abolitionist – n. a person who works toward the end of slavery

creed n. a statement of beliefs

farewell adj. of or related to a wish of well-being when leaving someone or something

address – n. a speech

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<![CDATA[Trump Says He Now Believes Russia Was Behind Election Hacking]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Jan. 11, 2017.
President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Jan. 11, 2017.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump now says he believes Russia was involved in cyberattacks during the presidential election.

It was the first time Trump has admitted Russian involvement in hacking computers of the Democratic National Committee. In the past, he refused to publicly accept U.S. intelligence community findings that Russia was involved in election hacking.

Trump’s comments came Wednesday during his first press conference since the election.

“As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” Trump said. Top U.S. intelligence officials have said they believe Russian President Vladimir Putin knew about and approved the cyberattacks.

Trump was asked in the press conference if he had any message for the Russian leader in response to the hacking.

“He shouldn’t be doing it. He won’t be doing it. Russia will have much greater respect for our country when I’m leading it, than when other people have led it. You will see that.”

President-elect Donald Trump takes questions during a news conference, Jan. 11, 2017, in New York. The news conference was his first as President-elect.
President-elect Donald Trump takes questions during a news conference, Jan. 11, 2017, in New York. The news conference was his first as President-elect.

U.S. intelligence agencies have suggested that Putin might have engaged in hacking as a way to help Trump win the election. Much of the information released by the hacks turned out to be embarrassing to the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton.

But Trump said the Republican National Committee also became aware of attempts to hack into its organization. He said possible attacks were stopped by putting security measures in place.

Speaking about future relations with Russia, Trump told reporters he does not think it is a bad thing if Putin actually likes him.

“If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what folks, that’s called an asset, not a liability.”

Trump added that cyberattacks from outside the United States were not only coming from Russia. He said China is also involved, along with other nations. Trump said he has asked his top national security officials to complete within 90 days a major report on ways the government can prevent hacking.

Trump denounced news reports that Russia is holding onto secret personal and financial information that could embarrass him. The reports also alleged that his campaign had made contact with Russian intelligence officials.

“I think it's a disgrace,” Trump said. “It’s all fake news.”

The unproven information in the news reports was reportedly included in a secret U.S. intelligence report on Russian influence in the election. Copies of that report were given last week to Trump, President Barack Obama and leaders of Congress.

Trump’s business interests

During the press conference, Trump also announced how he planned to deal with his business interests during his presidency. The president-elect has promised that his business activities would not pose a conflict of interest while he serves as president.

President-elect Donald Trump, accompanied by his family, arrives a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Jan. 11, 2017.
President-elect Donald Trump, accompanied by his family, arrives a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Jan. 11, 2017.

One of his lawyers explained that Trump had decided to give up control of his company to his two sons and another executive. His business assets will be put into a trust and Trump will take other steps to keep separate from his businesses, the lawyer said.

Trump was asked whether he is backing away from his pledge to have Mexico pay for a wall along the southern U.S. border. He said, “Mexico will pay for the wall” by reimbursing the United States.

On his pledge to get rid of the Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama, Trump promised to quickly replace it. He said his goal was to have a new, better health care law in place when the current law, often called “Obamacare,” is ended.

When asked about the Supreme Court, Trump said he will likely name his choice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia within two weeks of the inauguration.

I’m Ashley Thompson.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, with additional material from VOA News, the Associated Press. Hai Do was the editor.

What did you think of Donald Trump's first press conference since the American election? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

hacking – n. secretly getting access to files on a computer or network in order to get information, cause damage or change results

embarrass – v. make someone feel ashamed or shy

asset – n. something of value that a person or company owns

liability n. the state of being legally responsible for something

financial adj. pertaining to money or finances

disgrace n. condition of feeling ashamed or losing respect for

fake adj. not real, but made to look or seem real

trust – n. arrangement where someone’s money or property is legally held and managed by another person or organization

reimburse – v. pay back money, especially after the money was already spent to do work

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<![CDATA[Trump Appoints Son-in-Law as Top Adviser]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Jared Kushner, son-in-law of of President-elect Donald Trump walks from Trump Tower, Nov. 14, 2016, in New York.
Jared Kushner, son-in-law of of President-elect Donald Trump walks from Trump Tower, Nov. 14, 2016, in New York.

American President-elect Donald Trump has appointed his son-in-law Jared Kushner to a high-level position in his administration.

Trump asked Kushner to serve as a senior adviser to the president.

Unlike cabinet positions, the job of adviser does not require approval of the United States Senate.

Six members of Congress are questioning Kushner’s appointment. All six belong to the Democratic Party.

The lawmakers wrote a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. They noted that a 1967 law bars a public official from appointing a family member to the same agency in which the official serves. They also asked the Justice Department and ethics officials to investigate possible conflicts of interest.

Jared Kushner is married to Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

Lawyer Jamie Gorelick is advising Kushner on legal issues. She said the law does not affect the president because the White House does not fall under the definition of an agency.

The lawyer also said that Kushner plans to sell all his foreign investments and his financial interests in an investment company and an office building in New York. He also will resign as head of Kushner Companies and as the publisher of The New York Observer newspaper before working for the Trump administration.

The six lawmakers questioned Gorelick’s statement that Kushner would remove himself from decisions involving his remaining financial interests after leaving his companies. They said he would still have investments that could be affected by government policy that he influences.

Aides to Donald Trump said that, as a presidential adviser, Kushner will work mainly on issues involving trade and the Middle East. They said he will work closely with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon.

Legal experts are offering differing opinions about whether the appointment of Trump’s son-in-law violates the 50-year-old law.

Kathleen Clark is a law professor at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri. She said her understanding of the law is that it does affect the president.

“Congress didn’t in this law carve out an exception for the White House,” Clark told the Associated Press. She said it governs the presidency, the legislature, the courts and the District of Columbia government.

But Indiana University professor Gerald Magliocca said he did not think the law could be used to restrict the president’s team without risking constitutional problems.

“It’s hard to see why Congress has the authority to limit presidential staff members,” he said.

I’m Caty Weaver.

Chris Hannas reported on this story for VOANews.com. George Grow adapted his report for Learning English. Additional information came from the Associated Press. Mario Ritter was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the comments section.

Words in This Story

ethics – n. a theory or system of moral values

strategistn. policymaker

carve out – v. to create

authorityn. power

staff member – n. a worker or employee

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<![CDATA[US Could Become an Energy Exporting Country]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Workers work on a Chesapeake Energy natural gas well site near Burlington, Pennsylvania. New techniques are increasing oil production in the U.S.
Workers work on a Chesapeake Energy natural gas well site near Burlington, Pennsylvania. New techniques are increasing oil production in the U.S.

Experts say increased production of oil and gas in the United States, along with production cuts by OPEC, could lead to an American energy surplus.

Adam Sieminski is head of the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Recently, he said demand for energy in the U.S. has grown slowly while production has increased notably. This imbalance could mean the U.S. would have an energy surplus.

“The U.S. could become a net energy exporter...”

Industry experts say production increases are the result of greater use of technologies that make recovery of oil and gas more effective.

Sieminski says the production increases mean the U.S. could have more energy than it can use.

During 2014, world oil prices began to drop sharply as supplies increased and demand weakened.

When a price drop happens, major oil producing countries often try to cut their output. But members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries – or OPEC – did not seek to do this for a long time.

Experts say OPEC hoped low prices would push competitors with higher production costs out of the market. These competitors included U.S. companies that use technology such as hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, to drill for hard-to-get oil and gas deposits.

Amos Hochstein is an energy expert with the U.S. State Department. He says American producers answered OPEC’s bet by becoming more efficient.

“The resilience of production meant for OPEC, the U.S. wasn’t going away, shale (oil) production wasn’t going away, so letting it (the price of oil) ride low is not going to be the answer...'

OPEC answered the long price drop only late last year, with members agreeing on some production cuts. Some OPEC members, including Venezuela, and even top producer Saudi Arabia, are facing budget deficits because of the big drop in income from oil.

Worldwide crude oil prices have increased since OPEC and some other large producers first announced an agreement to cut production. Among the non-OPEC countries agreeing to reduce output is Russia. However, for the second time in recent years, Indonesia suspended its membership over the issue of production cuts.

Benjamin Zycher is an expert with the American Enterprise Institute. He says producers now face very difficult decisions about whether decreasing oil output will help them. He says the deal reached last year might not last.

“I think that the agreement is unlikely to hold...”

Some experts note that as prices increase, fracking producers will have a bigger reason to expand production still more. That, they say, could force prices down once again.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Jim Randle reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

Words in This Story

net adj. what remains after subtracting imports, the balance of

hydraulic fracturing (fracking) – n. forcefully injecting material into the earth to release oil and gas deposits

deposit – n. an amount of a mineral resource existing underground

resilience – n. the ability to recover from a setback, difficulty or problem

shale oil – n. oil recovered by processing shale rock that contains oil

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<![CDATA[California Storm Brings Down Giant Sequoia Tree]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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The 'Pioneer Cabin Tree' giant sequoia is seen in Calaveras Big Trees State Park in northern California. (Courtesy: California State Parks)
The 'Pioneer Cabin Tree' giant sequoia is seen in Calaveras Big Trees State Park in northern California. (Courtesy: California State Parks)

A powerful storm has brought down one of the most famous trees in the United States.

The huge “Pioneer Cabin Tree” fell Sunday in northern California during a storm that caused severe flooding.

The giant sequoia is famous for having a large hole at the bottom of its trunk. The hole was big enough for people to walk under. In the past, California state officials permitted vehicles to drive through it.

Until now, thousands of people traveled to the Calaveras Big Trees State Park each year to see the giant sequoia.

The park is located east of San Francisco, near Yosemite National Park. Some officials believed the tree was to up to 2,000 years old.

The Calaveras Big Trees Association confirmed reports that the sequoia was no longer standing. “The Pioneer Cabin tree has fallen!” said a message posted to Facebook. The weekend storm was “just too much” for the tree to handle, it added.

The 'Pioneer Cabin Tree' giant sequoia is seen in Calaveras Big Trees State Park in northern California. (Courtesy: California State Parks)
The 'Pioneer Cabin Tree' giant sequoia is seen in Calaveras Big Trees State Park in northern California. (Courtesy: California State Parks)

California’s Department of Parks and Recreation said in a statement that root and trunk decay had weakened the tree. That area around the sequoia had been closed because of storms and no one was hurt by the falling tree, it added.

Photographs posted on social media showed the fallen tree broken apart in some places as it sat on top of flooded ground. The huge roots that kept the tree in the ground for so many years were showing.

The 'Pioneer Cabin Tree' giant sequoia is seen in Calaveras Big Trees State Park in northern California after a storm made the tree fall on Sunday, January 4, 2017. (Courtesy: California State Parks)
The 'Pioneer Cabin Tree' giant sequoia is seen in Calaveras Big Trees State Park in northern California after a storm made the tree fall on Sunday, January 4, 2017. (Courtesy: California State Parks)

Many visitors to the state park took pictures while standing underneath the famous sequoia. After hearing about the tree, some posted photos and messages on social media about their memories and experiences.

“It's kind of like someone in the family has died,” tree admirer Joyce Brown told the Associated Press. Brown, now 65, said she was just 12 when her parents first took her to see the “drive-thru tree.” She’s now a retired school teacher who spends about one-third of the year at a small cabin near the tree.

The tunnel that made the sequoia famous also weakened it over time. The hole was made in the 1880s to let people and vehicles pass through the tree. This began with horses and buggies and later with cars. Eventually, the path going under the tree was only open to people walking.

Sequoias are the largest tree species in the world. They can reach up to eight meters in diameter.

A volunteer at the Calaveras Big Trees State Park explained that when the already mostly dead tree hit the ground, it broke apart and was completely unrecognizable.

He said the tree quickly went from something 'majestic' to pieces of “rubble.'

I’m Dorothy Gundy.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from VOA News and the Associated Press. 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

trunkn. thick stem of a tree that branches grow from

decay n. process of being slowly destroyed by natural processes

admirern. someone respecting or showing approval for a person or thing

tunnel – n. long passage that goes under the ground or an object

diameter – n. the distance through the center of something from one side to the other

majestic – adj. large and impressively beautiful

rubble – n. broken pieces left over from a destroyed building

]]>
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<![CDATA[Start the New Year By Setting Reasonable Learning Goals]]>John Russell如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Education Tips #3
Education Tips #3

Editor's note: We revisit one of our popular Education stories from 2016 - an article that provides a good way to start the new year: setting reasonable goals for learning English.

In the Education Tips series, education experts in the United States give you ideas about how you can improve your English skills. This week, Eli Hinkel, a professor at Seattle Pacific University, and Marla Yoshida, a Teaching English as a Foreign Language Teacher at the University of California, Irvine, talk about accents and pronunciation.

For VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

Learning a new language is a long, difficult process.

This process can become easier if you set goals. Goals help guide language learners and give them reasons to continue studying a language.

However, if you set unreasonable goals, then you will probably become discouraged.

Many English learners set difficult, even unreasonable goals. For example, here at VOA Learning English, we often read emails with comments like: 'My goal is to sound like a native speaker...' or 'My goal is to lose my accent.'

The problem with the goal of sounding like a native speaker is that it is not a reasonable goal for many people.

Why it is difficult to sound like a native speaker

When English learners begin studying English after a certain age, they are not able to sound exactly like a native English speaker. That is the opinion of Eli Hinkel, a professor at Seattle Pacific University.

She says that people who have not reached puberty still have enough muscle and brain plasticity to allow their brain to control their mouth muscles. Puberty is the period of life when a child becomes an adult.

After your physical growth has stopped, the brain loses some of its ability to change the way it controls the muscles of the mouth. This is what results in an accent, according to Hinkel.

In other words, having an accent is a natural part of the aging process of the brain.

It's OK to have an accent

Just because you might not sound like a native speaker does not mean that you should give up trying to improve your pronunciation.

And just because you have an accent does not mean that your language skills are poor.

Hinkel suggested that English learners should not be too disheartened about their accents.

'So, there is really no connection between the quality of one's language and the accent.'

She adds that there are even benefits to having an accent.

Eli Hinkel is a native Russian speaker. But she works as a professor in a Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) program. She believes her accent helps her when she is teaching students.

'I teach MA TESL courses …So, my students think that I really, really know what I'm talking about…accent goes a great deal toward that.'

Practical tips

Another teacher says sounding like a native speaker is not necessary.

Marla Yoshida is a Teaching English as a Foreign Language Teacher at the University of California, Irvine. She says that improving your pronunciation is definitely possible – if you choose a reasonable goal.

'You can reach a stage where your pronunciation is easy for people to understand, where it never causes a problem... you go into Starbucks and say your name, and they understand … you give your order and they understand. So, that's a reasonable goal: being understood easily. Where sounding like a native speaker is wonderful if you can do it… it's not necessary.'

So, what can English learners do to improve their pronunciation?

Marla Yoshida says that, like when you decide to diet, you are more likely to have success if you set reasonable goals. She suggests working on specific areas of pronunciation that you can improve, instead of trying to sound like a native speaker.

'Work consciously, if you are an adult, to change the way you pronounce. It's kind of like a diet. If you set a more reasonable goal... then, the diet might succeed. In the same way, pronunciation … if you have a more reasonable goal, like… 'I have trouble with the r and l sounds, so first I'm going try those. And then, when I'm comfortable with those, then I'll move on to some other sound that causes problems.' It takes time, but it is possible.'

Yoshida added that English learners should understand that improving their pronunciation can take a long time. She said that learners should not be tricked by people who claim to be able to help people get rid of their accents:

'It is good to realize that it [improving pronunciation] is not a fast process. Everyone has been speaking their native language for years and years and years. And it's hard to change. Habits of how you move your mouth are really hard to change. So, don't expect miracles. Sometimes, people see advertisements for software or courses that say 'get rid of your accent in only five lessons'—or something... It's not going to happen! There are no miracles.'

So, what can you do?

Start by setting a reasonable goal. Choose one or two sounds that are difficult for you to pronounce. Then, work to improve those sounds. When you have improved, study other sounds. Progress might be slow for you, but don't give up!

Next week, we will give you examples of exercises that you can do to start improving your pronunciation.

I'm John Russell.

John Russell reported on this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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

Words in This Story

discouraged adj. less determined, hopeful, or confident

accent – n. a way of pronouncing words that occurs among the people in a particular region or country

puberty n. the period of life when a person's sexual organs mature and he or she becomes able to have children

plasticity n. the quality of being able to be made into different shapes

pronunciation n. the way in which a word or name is pronounced

]]>
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<![CDATA[Consumer Electronics Show 2017: Homes Think for Themselves]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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LG Electronics’ vice president David VanderWaal and Amazon Echo vice president Mike George present the LG Smart InstaView Door-in-Door Refrigerator to CES 2017 attendees at the LG Electronics press conference, Jan. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas.
LG Electronics’ vice president David VanderWaal and Amazon Echo vice president Mike George present the LG Smart InstaView Door-in-Door Refrigerator to CES 2017 attendees at the LG Electronics press conference, Jan. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas.

Many people traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada last week for the 50th Consumer Electronics Show, or CES. The show is said to have the largest collection of new electronic devices in the world.

The 2017 show had many examples of “smart home” devices. “Smart home” technology is designed to make life easier for people by letting computers control many things inside our homes.

One such device actually begins working outside the home, when someone arrives and rings the doorbell.

Jeremy Warren is with smart home service provider Vivint.

“When someone comes to your front door and rings the doorbell, the light can turn on immediately. I get a notification when I’m halfway around the world that someone came, and I can start talking to the person who’s at my front door, and I can say, ‘Oh, here let me let you in.’ I can unlock the door for them very easily.”

Another use of smart home technology is being able to watch what is taking place in your home – whether you are just around the corner or half way around the world. Devices can even let homeowners look in on dogs, cats or other pets when they are away.

One electronics maker launched a device that lets people see and interact with their animals when they are away. The device, from Petcube, lets you remotely watch and talk to your pet through a personal device, according to a company official. It can even give the pet a treat – if you approve and order it.

For heating or cooling, there is a smart thermostat. This device can also send you a message if a big storm causes leaks or flooding. “We’re trying to catch it with just a few drips before it becomes a real big problem,” said Mike Sale of iDevices.

Another product, from iDevices, can turn your smartphone into a remote control for an electric fireplace.

While most of the devices can be controlled from anywhere, they also work in the same way when you are at home. Some devices, like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home, even let you use voice commands to talk to them.

A concern for many homeowners is the possibility that someone else might find a way to attack these smart home devices. An official from Vivint said his company is sure that only owners of the home can gain use of information on the devices.

Warren Katz from iDevices said his company employs engineers from the defense industry to help prevent hacking.

“So they’ve spent time working on the Patriot Missile and others, and we spend an awful lot of time ensuring that our products are both safe and safe from attack.”

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR LG ELECTRONICS - CES 2017 attendees get their first glimpse of the LG SIGNATURE 77W7 OLED, the world’s first ultra-thin Picture-On-Wall OLED TV, more popularly known as the “Wallpaper TV” on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, in Las Vegas.
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR LG ELECTRONICS - CES 2017 attendees get their first glimpse of the LG SIGNATURE 77W7 OLED, the world’s first ultra-thin Picture-On-Wall OLED TV, more popularly known as the “Wallpaper TV” on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, in Las Vegas.

Many of these devices at the Consumer Electronics Show were available before. But now they communicate better and can learn repeat behavior and habits. All of them can be bought separately, many for less than $100.

I’m John Russell.

George Putic reported this story for VOANews.com. Bryan Lynn adapted it 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

doorbelln. a bell outside a home that people usually ring by pushing a button

notification n. a message used to carry information

around the corner – phrase. very close; happening soon

thermostat – n. device that adjusts the temperature of a room

drip – n. small drop of liquid

remote – adj. far away

ensure – v. make sure something happens

habit – n. something someone does often in a regular and repeated way

]]>
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<![CDATA[US, North Korea Tensions Rise After Missile Test Threat]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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A new engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is tested at a site at Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County, North Pyongan province in North Korea.
A new engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is tested at a site at Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County, North Pyongan province in North Korea.

North Korea says it could test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at any time and from anywhere it wants to.

The North Korean state news agency KCNA made the announcement on Sunday.

American Secretary of Defense Ash Carter reacted by stating that an ICBM launch would be a “serious threat” to the United States. He said the U.S. military would shoot down the missile if it crossed into the territory of the U.S. or its allies.

Carter spoke on NBC television.

'If it were threatening to us, yes. That is, if it's predicted impact or one of our friends or allies, yes, we would shoot it down.'

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Nov. 28, 2016, in Washington. D.C. (Credit:Reuters)
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Nov. 28, 2016, in Washington. D.C. (Credit:Reuters)

He said the U.S. military has strengthened its missile defenses and deployed them in South Korea, Japan and Guam.

North Korea did not say for sure that it will carry out an ICBM test in the near future. But the statements could suggest the two sides are getting ready for a new relationship when Donald Trump becomes U.S. president. He will take office on January 20.

In a New Year’s message, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said that his country had reached the “final stages” of ICBM development. Two days later, Trump tweeted that the possibility of North Korea developing a nuclear weapon that can reach the U.S. “won’t happen!”

A North Korean Ministry spokesman said on Sunday that his government has the right to test missiles whenever it sees fit.

“The ICBM will be launched anytime and anywhere determined by the supreme headquarters of the DPRK,'' the spokesman told the KCNA news agency. DPRK is short for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Troy Stangarone is with the Korean Economic Institute in Washington, D.C. He told VOA there are good reasons for the North to delay testing of its missile. They include the start of the Trump presidency, and the political situation in South Korea.

“With everything going on in the region right now, with the transition to President Trump, with the political situation in South Korea, delaying might actually make more sense for them, in the sense that Trump is a wild card and you do not know how he might respond, and if they were to take and engage in a test now, they could end up actually unifying the populace on the conservative side rather than potentially allowing a liberal president to take power in South Korea if Park Geun-hye is impeached.”

On Monday, South Korean officials said they believe the North’s threat of a missile test is meant to influence relations with the new U.S. administration.

A man in South Korea watches a TV news program showing a missile launch conducted by North Korea, Oct. 20, 2016.
A man in South Korea watches a TV news program showing a missile launch conducted by North Korea, Oct. 20, 2016.

Jeong Joo-hee is a spokesman with South Korea’s Unification Ministry. He suggested that North Korea made the threat in hopes of forcing the Trump administration to deal with the North on its own terms. He said the goal was to “shift responsibility (to the U.S.) when North Korean fires (a missile) in the future.”

The South Korean Defense Ministry called North Korea’s talk of an ICBM test “regrettable.” It said there would be consequences, or results, like international sanctions.

Sanctions or other measures have yet to stop North Korea’s nuclear activities and missile development program. The North has carried out two nuclear tests and launched 24 missile launches in the past year.

Commenting on the North’s nuclear program last week, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “with every passing day, the threat does get more acute.”

North Korea is believed to have the ability to hit South Korea or Japan with a nuclear weapon. But there are still questions about whether the North’s missiles can reach the U.S. mainland.

North Korea says it has successfully made a nuclear device small enough to sit on the head of a long-range missile. But it has not demonstrated that ability. Also, it has yet to test the missile’s re-entry ability.

An ICBM test would be the next step in the development process.

Neither China nor Japan offered any strong official reaction on Monday to the ICBM statements coming out of North Korea and the United States.

President-elect Donald Trump stands with Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma as they walk to speak with reporters after a meeting at Trump Tower in New York, Jan. 9, 2017.
President-elect Donald Trump stands with Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma as they walk to speak with reporters after a meeting at Trump Tower in New York, Jan. 9, 2017.

In a tweet last week, U.S. President-elect Trump criticized China for not controlling North Korea’s nuclear threat. North Korea depends on China for 90 percent of its trade.

But China has been unwilling to put strong economic pressure on its ally. China fears that would lead to increased instability on its border and a stronger U.S. presence on the Korean Peninsula.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman last week defended his country’s efforts to peacefully resolve the nuclear issue. He urged the incoming Trump administration to “avoid remarks and actions to escalate the situation.”

I’m Anne Ball.

Anne Ball wrote this story for Learning English with materials from VOA and the Associated Press. George Grow was the editor.

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

Words in This Story

intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) – n. a type of missile that can fly form one continent to another

a wild card – n. a person or thing that could affect a situation in a way that cannot be predicted : an unknown or unpredictable factor

potential – adj. possible

acute - adj. very serious or dangerous; requiring serious attention or action

sanction – n. an action taken, or an order given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country, etc. instability – n. the quality or state of being unstable

escalate – v. to become worse or to make (something) worse or more severe

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<![CDATA[Experimental School in California Has No Homework]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Student Mishal Junaid loves attending Khan Lab School
Student Mishal Junaid loves attending Khan Lab School

Khan Lab School is bringing back the one-room model to teach young students in Mountain View, California.

The school is a laboratory for an experimental kind of learning.

Silicon Valley, known for its technology companies, is also the birthplace of the school.

Twelve-year-old Mishal Junaid loves the Khan Lab School’s untraditional methods.

“When I wake up in the morning, I want to wake up, unlike my last school where I want to sleep in and not go to school...”

Junaid and her sister’s reactions to the school surprise their parents.

The girls’ father, Junaid Qurashi, told VOA: “Our children, they love going to school, to the point that even if they are tired or sick or have the flu,” they will not stay home from school. “To the point that we worry why kids come home so happy. Are they really learning things?”

No homework

Students ages 5 to 15 attend the experimental Khan Lab School. It has no grade levels and no homework. The students are in school from 8:30 in the morning until six o’clock at night. And, the school is open all year long, with small breaks here and there.

Nine-year-old Holly Thompson enjoys going there.

'You get to choose what you learn, and it's not just a teacher hands you a worksheet and tells you what to do. You get to set your own goals. You have a schedule. You go to different classes.'

Khan Lab School uses an experimental method of teaching students
Khan Lab School uses an experimental method of teaching students

The school is the idea of Salman Khan, the founder of Khan Academy — famous for its educational videos. The videos are available on the internet free of charge and have millions of users around the world.

Khan said he started Khan Lab School because he thinks the current education system has problems. He hopes to create a better learning model.

“Where I see the future going is somewhat revisiting the past. There’s a lot of really good things about the one-room schoolhouse that you might have had in the rural areas that you still have today in a lot of places where you have mixed-age classrooms...”

He said this system lets the older students take responsibility and help younger students. That means the younger children get a lot of help. They get the help of the teacher and the older students.

Personalized learning

Khan said students also learn the study material at their own speed through videos. And, they get more attention through one-on-one discussions with teachers. They also learn by doing projects.

Malika Junaid noted a change in her daughters after they began attending the school. She said that, after six months, they seemed sure of their abilities. They are now not afraid to talk to adults and other students and now they always want to help.

The school’s director, Dominic Liechti, said this way of learning better prepares students for the future. He said the duties of a teacher need to change from leading the class to being someone who guides students in their learning, and provides individual support. A teacher is also a life-long learner, he said, not just someone who gives presentations.

Leichti also said the role of students is becoming more creative.

Work in progress

Salman Khan describes his Khan Lab School as a work in progress.

“Like a R-and-D lab [research and development lab], the first time that you make the drug or the first time that you make the material,” Khan said. “It’s not scalable yet, but you need to make it the first time and say 'that’s a pretty strong material.' And then you can think about how do you make it so that it’s more affordable and more scalable.”

Dominic Liechti says the community in the Mountain View area has been open to this new method to educating students.

“Especially in Silicon Valley because that’s the culture that you can start something,” he said. “You can pioneer something, and people join that movement, and I feel that amongst my staff.”

Liechti says he has that same feeling amongst his students and members of the community.

I’m Alice Bryant.

Elizabeth Lee wrote this story for VOANews.com. Alice Bryant adapted her report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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

Words in This Story

flu - n. the flu, also called influenza, is common disease that is used by a virus. It causes high body temperature, weakness, and breathing problems

grade - n. a level of study that is completed by a student during one year

scalable - adj. easy to make larger or more powerful

pioneer - n. a person who helps create or develop new ideas or methods

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<![CDATA[Experts Divided over How Trump Policies Will Affect Oil Industry]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Rex W. Tillerson gives a speech at the annual Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in 2016 when he was ExxonMobil CEO and chairman.
Rex W. Tillerson gives a speech at the annual Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in 2016 when he was ExxonMobil CEO and chairman.

Oil industry leaders and experts have conflicting opinions about what the policies of U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump could mean for the oil industry.

Low oil prices have hurt profits for leading oil companies in recent years. However, prices are rising again, creating other problems.

Jack Gerard is president of the American Petroleum Institute, a group that represents the oil industry.

Gerard notes that Trump has promised to change regulations and reform taxes. He says that could help energy companies and lead to more oil industry jobs.

Gerard said America’s oil and natural gas industries support 9.8 million jobs. He thinks the industry could create hundreds of thousands of additional jobs if what he called “smart” regulation was put in place. He says the “smart” rules would replace ones that appear to duplicate existing measures or are in competition with them.

Other observers say some of Trump’s proposed policies and his statements present problems for international oil markets.

Diane Munro is an oil industry expert. In December, she wrote a story for the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, DC. The non-profit group aims to increase understanding of the Gulf States in the United States.

Munro wrote that some of Trump’s statements present, in her words, a “cauldron of contradictions.” For example, Trump has strongly criticized the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers. The agreement eases many economic restrictions on Iran in return for limits on its nuclear activities. The president-elect said he would consider canceling the deal.

Munro wrote that Trump also has threatened to ban oil imports from the Middle East, accusing oil producers there of unfairly controlling prices. Statements against the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have been considered unfriendly to Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia, she noted.

Munro added that such statements are likely to cause concern or “rattle” the oil market. They also might hurt already the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, which she described as “fraying.”

Trump’s choice for secretary of state called “oil-centric”

At least one nominee for Trump’s cabinet has strong ties to the oil industry. His choice for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, retired as chief executive officer at ExxonMobil earlier this month. Tillerson is to receive a retirement deal valued at $180 million from his former employer.

Gerard praised the nomination as “world class.” He said Tillerson’s skills can represent the nation well.

Vladimir Putin, at the time Russian Prime Minister, meets with Rex W. Tillerson, chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corporation.
Vladimir Putin, at the time Russian Prime Minister, meets with Rex W. Tillerson, chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corporation.

But Munro called the choice “oil-centric.” She wrote the nomination appears to show the growing influence of Russia on U.S. policy. She said this will create a mixed message for America’s Middle East allies.

Tillerson has good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Under his leadership, ExxonMobil has developed oil projects in Russia and also in the South China Sea, with Vietnam.

Oil prices have been rising since OPEC members announced a deal to reduce production in late November.

OPEC has historically had a difficult time enforcing its agreements, however. It is difficult to predict how the cartel’s latest move will affect prices this year.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Jim Randle reported this story for VOANews.com. Mario Ritter adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

regulation – n. an official rule about how something should be done

duplicate – v. to make something that is basically a copy of something else

contradict – v. to make the opposite argument

cauldron – n. a large pot used to mix things in, often magical potions

cartel – n. a group that fixes prices among members of a group of producers

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<![CDATA[Researchers Testing New Cancer Treatment]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Kattesh Katti, PhD, University of Missouri, prepares gold nanoparticles in his lab.(Credit Justin Kelley, University of Missouri)
Kattesh Katti, PhD, University of Missouri, prepares gold nanoparticles in his lab.(Credit Justin Kelley, University of Missouri)

Liver cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world, and now researchers are developing new forms of treatment.

If tests show you have liver cancer, there are several ways to treat the disease. One is removing the cancerous part of the liver. The other is having doctors replace the organ through a transplant operation.

The liver cleans the blood and helps remove toxins from the body. (From the book Anatomy of the Human Body; illustrator Henry Vandyke Carter, 1918.)
The liver cleans the blood and helps remove toxins from the body. (From the book Anatomy of the Human Body; illustrator Henry Vandyke Carter, 1918.)

Patients who get someone else’s liver must take immuno-suppressant drugs the rest of their life. The drugs keep the body from rejecting the new organ. There may be serious side effects that come with taking those powerful medicines.

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are also used to treat liver and other cancers. Those treatments require the patient to take strong drugs or exposure to radiation. The drugs or radiation destroy the cancer cells. But then, the healthy cells around the tumor are damaged.

Chemotherapy medicine is prepared for a liver cancer patient at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland
Chemotherapy medicine is prepared for a liver cancer patient at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland

Now scientists are working on an experimental, minimally invasive treatment. They say it reduces the chances of harming the patient.

This treatment involves the use of natural, non-poisonous chemicals from plants. That is why the researchers call it a “green” method for fighting cancer.

Kattesh Katti is a professor of radiology and physics at the University of Missouri’s School of Medicine. For more than 10 years, he has studied the use of nanotechnology to fight cancer.

Nanotechnology is the science of making things unimaginably small. For this study, Katti used extremely small objects to target and destroy precancerous tumor cells in the livers of mice and human cells in the laboratory.

“It sounds like a fairy tale, but we are really in advanced stages in terms of tumor treatment, in terms of disease diagnostics.'

Kattesh Katti used very small particles of gold. The gold was covered in a protective material called gum arabic. It comes from an acacia tree. He says the particles attract precancerous and cancer cells. Those cells are far more affected by lower levels of heat than healthy cells.

Kattesh Katti, PhD, University of Missouri, prepares nanoparticles to fight liver cancer. (Credit Justin Kelley, U. of MO)
Kattesh Katti, PhD, University of Missouri, prepares nanoparticles to fight liver cancer. (Credit Justin Kelley, U. of MO)

Once the particles travel to and connect with the cells, they are heated with a laser. That destroys the cancer cells, but the healthy ones around them live.

Katti explains how the treatment would work on a human patient.

“The patient will be administered with these nano particles. Within a couple of hours, the patient will be treated with lasers, and then the patient can go home. So, there is no radioactivity. There is no toxic waste. There is no toxicity, systemic toxicity, to the patient.”

What that means is the patient would not have the same side effects one can have from radiation and chemotherapy. Chemotherapy drugs often are toxic. While they kill off the cancer tumors, they are also poisonous to the healthy cells and the patient can get very sick.

Katti says the cost of treatment will be low because one gram of gold can be used to treat 50 patients. He says this form of treatment could be used for other types of cancer, arthritis and other diseases.

The next step is testing in human subjects.​

If this treatment method works, it will be good news for the nearly 800,000 people who are found to have liver cancer every year. It may also help save the lives of some 700,000 people who die every year from the disease.

More than 80 percent of the liver cancer cases are found in less developed countries, with the highest numbers in Asia and Africa.

In the United States, liver cancer is one of the top 10 cancers that kill.

I’m Anne Ball.

Carol Pearson reported on this story for VOANews.com. Anne Ball 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 us on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

immuno-suppressant – n. a substance that control’s someone’s immune response to a foreign organ in their body

chemotherapy – n. treatment for disease like cancer that uses strong chemicals to kill the disease

precancerous – adj. tending to become cancerous

minimally invasive --adj. affecting the body in the smallest possible way

fairy tale – n. a children’s story with magical creatures that is not true and usually has a happy ending

toxic – adj. containing poisonous substances

exposure n. the fact or condition of being affected by someone or something else; public attention

attractv. to pull toward oneself or itself

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http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/01/09/2056/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2017/01/09/2056/VOA Special EnglishSun, 8 Jan 2017 19:52:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Skier Rescues Friend Caught on Chairlift]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Mickey Wilson climbed a tower and crawled along a cable to help save another skier's life.
Mickey Wilson climbed a tower and crawled along a cable to help save another skier's life.

This is What’s Trending Today.

Mickey Wilson set out to have fun skiing on a Colorado mountain.

But he wound up saving a man’s life.

Wednesday night, Wilson used social media to report on his story of rescuing a friend. The images and video were published on Facebook and Instagram. They have been shared thousands of times in the past 24 hours.

Wilson said his friend became caught on a chairlift.

Chairlifts carry people from the bottom of a mountain to its top so they can ski down the hill.

Wilson’s friend was wearing a backpack. When it was time for him to get off the chairlift, the backpack became caught and he could not get off. The lift circled around and started bringing him back down the mountain.

The man was hanging from the chairlift, with the bag wrapped around his throat.

Wilson said his friend was not able to breathe.

Other skiers gathered under the man’s chair and tried to think of a way to reach him. But they could not get him down.

Wilson had an idea. He climbed up a tall, nearby structure and then climbed across the lift’s guide wire to reach his friend. He used a knife to cut the backpack strap that was caught.

His friend fell a little over three meters into the snow, where rescue workers helped revive him. They brought him down the mountain and took him to a hospital.

Wilson told a Denver newspaper it was one of the most frightening things he had ever seen.

Wilson said he was confident he could help his friend because of his experience as a competitive slackliner.

Slacklining is an acrobatic activity where a person balances and does tricks on a narrow strap tied down at both ends.

And that’s What’s Trending Today.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Dan Friedell wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

What do you think of Wilson’s daring rescue? Let us know in the comments section.

Words in This Story

backpack – n. a bag for carrying things that has two shoulder straps and is carried on the back

strap – n. a narrow and usually flat piece of a material that is used for fastening, holding together, or wrapping something

revive – v. to make (someone or something) strong, healthy, or active again

confident – adj. having a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something : having confidence

acrobatic – adj. used to describe a difficult and dangerous act

skiing – n. the sport of sliding and jumping on skis

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<![CDATA[China's Contacts with Vatican Could Be Big Loss for Taiwan]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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FILE - Chinese women walk past a decoration displaying a Baby Jesus doll part of a Nativity scene, at the Nantang Catholic Church in Beijing.
FILE - Chinese women walk past a decoration displaying a Baby Jesus doll part of a Nativity scene, at the Nantang Catholic Church in Beijing.

China and the Vatican have held talks in recent months. Observers say the talks could lead the two sides to re-establish diplomatic ties.

But if this happens, the Vatican would likely have to give up its existing ties with the government in Taiwan.

China watchers say this would be a big loss for Taiwan, which currently only has official ties with a handful of small, mostly poor countries.

China considers self-ruled Taiwan as part of Chinese territory, not an independent state with rights to establish foreign relations. The Chinese government bars countries it has diplomatic relations with from having official ties with Taiwan.

The Roman Catholic Church operates from an independent territory within the Italian city of Rome. The territory is called Vatican City or the Holy See. It is recognized internationally as an independent state with its own government.

Pope Francis celebrates a new year's Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Jan. 1, 2017.
Pope Francis celebrates a new year's Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Jan. 1, 2017.

China cut off relations with the Vatican in 1951. This was two years after Communist forces won China’s civil war. The end of the war sent the Nationalists fleeing to Taiwan, where they set up a government.

Catholics can now legally attend religious services in China. But they can only attend government-approved churches that are not controlled by the Vatican. China and the Vatican disagree over who should have power to appoint bishops. During talks between the two sides, each has sought more power to choose top church officials.

Over the years, the government has closed religious centers and imprisoned some clergymen, according to reports from China. About one-third of the country’s estimated 12 million Catholics worship at underground churches.

Last month, the government’s head of religious affairs met with leaders of the official Catholic Church in China. He expressed hope that the Vatican would try to improve relations with the government by trying to adapt to Chinese society.

In this photo released by Henan Catholic, Rev. Joseph Zhang Yinlin, second left, takes part in an ordination ceremony to be named coadjutor bishop of Anyang, in Anyang city in central China's Henan province, Aug. 4, 2015.
In this photo released by Henan Catholic, Rev. Joseph Zhang Yinlin, second left, takes part in an ordination ceremony to be named coadjutor bishop of Anyang, in Anyang city in central China's Henan province, Aug. 4, 2015.

Recent reports from Taiwan and Beijing have described Pope Francis as being interested in establishing relations with China. The Catholic News Agency reported in October that this had become a “major effort of this papacy.”

But the Vatican’s current ties with Taiwan could hurt its moves to re-establish ties with the government in Beijing.

A possible China-Vatican agreement was set back because of the activities of a bishop who had been excommunicated by the Catholic Church. The religious leader, who was supported by the Chinese government, helped fill leadership positions in the church.

Taiwan’s Vice President Chen Chien-jen recently described the island’s current relations with the Vatican as “normal.” “I think (Vatican) relations with Taiwan are continuing to develop in a stable way.”

Chen added that he understands that China is also holding talks with the Vatican on improving ties. He said it is “quite important” for every Catholic to seek to “have the Vatican’s blessings.”

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen speaks with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump through a speaker phone in Taipei, Taiwan. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen speaks with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump through a speaker phone in Taipei, Taiwan. (Taiwan Presidential Office via AP)

Some experts see Beijing’s latest efforts to seek closer ties with the Vatican as a result of worsening relations between Taiwan and China.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen angered Chinese officials after her election in May by not agreeing to see Taiwan as part of “one China.”

China was also angered when she called Donald Trump after he won the American presidential election. China watchers saw the call as a sign of possible closer ties between Taiwan and Trump’s administration.

I’m Jill Robbins.

Ralph Jennings reported this story for VOANews.com. Bryan Lynn adapted it for Learning English, with additional material from Reuters. 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

bishopn. high official in some Christian religious group

worship v. to show respect for god by praying or attending religious services

excommunicate – v. to bar someone from being a member of the Catholic Church

blessing – n. approval by a person or group to a certain course of action

adaptv. to change or make changes

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<![CDATA[Immigrants Learn New Customs in New Lands]]>UNSV.COM英语学习频道如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Ajuda Thapa, left, stands near her son, Jay Thapa, in their home in Burlington, Vermont.
Ajuda Thapa, left, stands near her son, Jay Thapa, in their home in Burlington, Vermont.

Over 1 million migrants arrived in Europe in 2015. Most were fleeing struggling economies and war in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and East Africa.

Many of these people arrive in new countries and expect life to become easier almost immediately. After all, they just traveled months by foot and by boat just to get to a new country and start fresh.

But when they arrive, the migrants face a world that can be confusing in many ways.

Melissa Fogg is the program manager for the Philadelphia Refugee Mental Health Collaborative (PRMHC). The PRMHC is an organization that helps refugees entering the U.S. build their lives in their new country.

The PRMHC teaches the refugees skills and helps them adjust to living in a different environment. Fogg told VOA that weather, language and safety issues are only some of the things that can cause problems.

'A lot of immigrants and refugees … when they come, they have a very idealized version of the United States from movies, magazines, the media … And a lot of that is just not true. … Generally, our country is very welcoming and very accepting of immigrants. But it can be a tough environment to come into, with a lot of barriers.'

What seems normal in one country might be illegal in another country. For example, men and woman have equal rights under the law in the U.S.

There are laws about gender equality in many countries. These laws can be hard for new arrivals to understand. But that is not the only confusing thing about being in a different country.

Some laws and rules are written down. You can learn about them before you arrive. But there are lots of 'unwritten rules,' too. Unwritten rules are behaviors that no one talks about, but that most people understand.

People in a host country might think their behavior is normal, while newcomers might find it offensive or inappropriate. Fogg said that these differences can make becoming part of a new culture seem impossible.

'When people come to a new country, at first they’re very excited... Shortly after that, there is reality that sets in. America’s not a perfect country...'

But, after some time and a lot of work, most new arrivals begin to feel like they belong, Fogg said.

Also, it is important to know that not all differences are major. Often there can be small differences between places that share a border and a language.

A person from Canada might find people in the United States are less polite. Likewise, Americans might find Canadians too reserved.

Fogg and VOA worked together to create a list of five important issues any new arrival to the U.S. should know about.

Be 'on time.' In some cultures, time is not a big issue. If you tell your friend to meet you at 2 p.m. and you arrive at 2:45 p.m., there is no problem. In the U.S., people feel that being on time is a sign of respect. If you are late by more than a few minutes, people will think you do not care. They will feel you are wasting their time. They will take your lateness as an insult. Being on time is even more important in a professional or formal situation, such as a job interview or when you plan to see a doctor.

Be sure you always 'tip.' In many countries, after you eat at a restaurant, you only pay the amount shown on the bill. But, in the U.S., people who work in restaurants and bars often earn a low hourly wage. So, they try to provide excellent service, hoping the customer will give them a “tip,” meaning a little extra. Tips are extra money you pay above the cost of the meal. People in the U.S. tip between 15 percent and 20 percent of the bill. You also give tips to taxi drivers, hotel employees and the people who cut your hair.

Be careful what you say. Any place you go there will be some things that are appropriate to talk about and some things that are not. Would you talk about how good you feel with a person who is very sick? Probably not. In addition, many people in the U.S. can feel strongly about some topics that people in other cultures have no problem discussing. Assuming that people have the same beliefs as you is a bad idea. In the past decade, people in the U.S. have become more open about discussing strong political and religious views. But it is still best to listen to people share their opinions first and then decide about sharing your own. Also, there are several topics you should avoid asking questions about: how much money a person makes and if they are married. But if a person offers this information, then there is no problem.

Be aware of 'personal space.' Physical contact is the best way to show someone they are your friend or loved one in some cultures. Other cultures feel that showing affection in public is highly inappropriate. People in the U.S. fall somewhere in the middle on this issue. Two people usually do not kiss when saying “Hello,” unless they are family members or very close friends. Shaking hands is the most common thing to do when meeting someone. Also, people in the U.S. dislike it when strangers stand very near them.

Be polite for the situation. People in the U.S. define being polite in very special ways. For example, waiting in line involves a strong set of rules in this country. You must wait until the people in front of you have done what they are waiting to do. When going through a door, the person behind you expects you to hold the door for them. Also, it is common for people you do not know to say some form of hello to you when passing you. But this does not always mean they are inviting you to stop and talk for a long time. Many times the person is just being friendly. If you don’t say hello back to them they may think you are being unfriendly. You should examine the situation and think about what you want to do next.

I’m Dan Friedell.

And I’m Pete Musto.

Dan Friedell and Pete Musto wrote this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck and George Grow were the editors.

We want to hear from you. What are some situations you faced while visiting the U.S. that you were not prepared for? What are some things people should know about the culture before visiting your country? Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

migrant(s) – n. a person who goes from one place to another especially to find work

confusingadj. difficult to understand

adjustv. to change in order to work or do better in a new situation

toughadj. very difficult to do or deal with

set(s) inp.v. to begin to be present or show something unpleasant or unwanted that often lasts for a long time

politeadj. having or showing good manners or respect for other people

reservedadj. not openly expressing feelings or opinions

customern. someone who buys goods or services from a business

assumingv. thinking that something is true or probably true without knowing that it is true

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