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, 21 Oct 2018 13:53:48 UTC<![CDATA[WORDS AND THEIR STORIES - Why Do We Use 'Rx' for Medicine?]]>Anna Matteo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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And now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.

Each week, we tell about terms and expressions we use in American English. Sometimes we give you the origin, or starting point. But oftentimes language experts do not know exactly how a word or expression came to be. So, there can be many "origin" stories.

Today we run into just that problem. But it is not about a word or expression, but rather a symbol – Rx.

A symbol is a sign that represents one or more words. The "Rx" sign is formed by placing a line across the right foot of the letter "R." It represents the word "prescription" and has come to mean "take this medicine."

In the States, we often see this sign on drug stores and doctor's offices. It also appears on bottles of pills and other medicines.

But how did Rx come to mean prescription medicine?

One common explanation is that "Rx" has Latin roots. Some word historians suggest that "Rx" gets its meaning from the Latin word "recipere," meaning "to take."

They add that by the late 1500s, the spelling of the word and its meaning had changed. It became "recipe," meaning a "medical prescription." This meaning remained in use until the middle of the 1700s. At that time, people also began to use the word "recipe" in food preparation, as we do today.

Yet, the symbol "Rx" and the meaning "take this medicine" stayed unchanged.

Okay, so that origin story is not so interesting. Instead, let's hear another story that also claims to explain the history of Rx.

The sun rises behind the Temple of Karnak during the alignment of the winter solstice sunrise to the temple in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor on December 22, 2015.
The sun rises behind the Temple of Karnak during the alignment of the winter solstice sunrise to the temple in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor on December 22, 2015.

Some experts say the sign began 5,000 years ago in Egypt. At that time, people prayed to Horus, the god of the Sun. Legend says that when Horus was a child, Seth, the demon of evil, attacked him.

When Seth put out the eye of the young Horus, the mother of Horus called for help. Thoth, the god of learning and magic, answered her cries. With his wisdom and special powers, Thoth healed the eye of Horus and the child was able to see again.

The ancient Egyptians used a picture of the eye of Horus as a magic sign to protect themselves from disease, suffering and evil.

Long after the collapse of ancient Egypt, doctors and scientists in Europe continued to use the sign. But over the years, it changed from the eye of Horus to the sign for Jupiter, the chief god of the Romans. Jupiter's sign looked much like the printed number "four."

Over time, that sign also changed. It became the easily-recognized letter "R" with a line across its foot. The sign no longer means help for the sick from an ancient god, but rather "medicine to take."

So, that is what the symbol means even though we cannot guarantee how it came to be. To make it up to you, we give you a useful, medicine-related expression.

Now, when a doctor prescribes a patient medicine, it is only for that patient, no one else. Giving someone a taste of their own medicine sounds like the right thing to do. A person is supposed to take the medicine as doctor has prescribed for them.

But that is not what this expression means.

When you give someone a taste of their own medicine, you treat them as they have treated you. And we almost always use this expression when talking about bad treatment.

Let's hear how it can be used.

A: Great party, Chuck!

B: Thanks! Hey, can you keep an eye on things here? I need to go and get Natalie.

A: I thought Michael was giving her a ride.

B: That's what he said. But he hasn't shown up. She's been waiting at her place for an hour.

A: Michael has been doing that a lot lately. He promises to do something and then doesn't follow up. Last week, we were supposed to go to the movies, but he stood me up. And he didn't even call to let me know he couldn't make it.

B: He was a no-show for me just last week too.

A: You know, one day, we should give him a taste of his own medicine. We should agree to do something -- something really important to him -- and then never show up.

B: Having a taste of his medicine might help. But you know we'll never do that.

A: I know. Look, you stay here and take care of the party. I'll go and get Natalie.

A: That would be a big help. Thanks! Be careful on the road.

B: Always. See you in about 30 minutes!

And that's Words and Their Stories from VOA Learning English. I'm Anna Matteo.

Do you use medicine in a similar expression in your language? Let us know in the Comments Section. Or simply tell us about a time when you had to give someone a taste of their own medicine.

Doctor Doctor, gimme the news

I got a bad case of lovin' you

No pill's gonna cure my ill

I got a bad case of lovin' you...

Frank Beardsley and Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor. At the end, Robert Palmer sings "Bad Case of Loving You."

Words in This Story

guess n. an attempt to give an opinion or answer about something when you do not know much about it or are not sure about it

symbol n. a letter, group of letters, character, or picture that is used instead of a word or group of words

prescription n. a written message from a doctor that officially tells someone to use a medicine, therapy, etc.

legend n. a story coming down from the past

demon n. an evil spirit

make it up to (someone) phrase : to do something helpful or good for (someone one has hurt or treated wrongly)

keep an eye on phrase : watch someone or something carefully; to be attentive to someone or something

stand (someone) up phrase : fail to meet someone for a date, meeting, or appointment, especially without telling them

]]>
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<![CDATA[Students Win Legal Action against US Education Department]]>Dorothy Gundy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/2018/10/21/0010/

Students defrauded by for-profit colleges won an important legal victory on Tuesday.

A U.S. federal court ruled against a request to delay a policy from former President Barack Obama's administration. The policy makes it easier for those students to get their student loans forgiven.

The policy is known as borrower defense, and was originally meant to go into effect in July 2017. But current Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the rule made forgiving loans too easy and was unfair to taxpayers. So, she blocked it while attempting to create a new policy in its place.

FILE - Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks during a student town hall at National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
FILE - Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks during a student town hall at National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss decided that DeVos' delay was unlawful. This week, he denied a request from an organization representing for-profit colleges to delay the rule even longer.

Julie Murray is an attorney with Public Citizen. She represents the students in the legal action against the Education Secretary.

"The rule is finally in effect," Murray told the Associated Press. "No more excuses. No more delays."

In a statement on Tuesday, Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill said DeVos "respects the role of the court and accepts the court's decision." She added that the department will soon provide information about how the rule will take effect.

But DeVos continues to consider the rule to be "bad policy" and will continue writing a new rule "that protects both borrowers and taxpayers," said Hill.

In this April, 28, 2015 photo, Adriana Garay, 29, right, talks with her niece, Haley Sandoval, 17, a student at the now-closed Everest College in Industry, California, hoping to get their transcripts and information on loan forgiveness.
In this April, 28, 2015 photo, Adriana Garay, 29, right, talks with her niece, Haley Sandoval, 17, a student at the now-closed Everest College in Industry, California, hoping to get their transcripts and information on loan forgiveness.

The court's decision means the Obama rule on loan forgiveness could be in effect until July 2020. At that point, the new rule written by DeVos will come into effect.

Under the Obama rule, students whose school closed mid-program or shortly after completion, will become eligible for immediate loan relief. This will likely help former students of Corinthian Colleges, for example, a company which closed its entire school system overnight in 2015. The U.S. government had found evidence it was defrauding its students. And the following year, several court cases ruled that Corinthian owed millions of dollars to both its debtors and former students.

The Department of Education first created the rule governing borrower defense in 1994. Use of the rule was uncommon, until the Obama administration made changes to it in 2016, following the closing of Corinthian and other for-profit colleges. The application process for student loan relief became clearer and more developed.

The Century Foundation is a policy research organization. Experts with the progressive organization estimate that the court's decision will affect tens of thousands of students at over 1,400 schools. The students will now be eligible for $400 million in immediate debt relief across the nation.

Other parts of the rule permit students to apply for loan relief as a group. It also prevents schools from forcing students to sign away their rights to take legal action against their program. And it makes sure that the schools have some financial responsibility to help relieve student loan debt if they close. That way it is not entirely taxpayer money covering those costs.

Over 100,000 students say their schools have defrauded them. They are currently waiting for the Education Department to consider their applications for loan forgiveness. James Kvaal is the president of the Institute for College Access and Success. He said the department must immediately stop student debt collections and completely relieve loans of those borrowers whose schools have been shut down.

In this March 24, 2016 photo, then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris points to an image showing the location of Corinthian Colleges located in California during a news conference in San Francisco.
In this March 24, 2016 photo, then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris points to an image showing the location of Corinthian Colleges located in California during a news conference in San Francisco.

Toby Merrill is the director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard University. His organization also took part in the legal action against the Education Department. He said, "This is a major victory for students across this country in the ongoing battle against the Department of Education and the for-profit college industry."

But Steve Gunderson described Judge Moss's decision as "disappointing." Gunderson is the president of Career Education Colleges and Universities, a group that supports the for-profit college industry.

"It will only create further confusion for students and schools," he said. He also urged the Education Department to provide as much as assistance as possible while it finishes writing the new rule.

The California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools is the organization that requested further delays to loan relief policy, in addition to DeVos's delays. The group did not return a request for comment from the Associated Press.

I'm ­Pete Musto. And I'm Dorothy Gundy.

Maria Danilova reported this story for the Associated Press. Pete Musto adapted it for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor. We want to hear from you. What kinds of rules has the government in your country made for for-profit colleges? Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

defraud(ed) – v. to trick or cheat someone or something in order to get money

originallyadv. when something first happened or began

attorneyn. a person whose job is to guide and assist people in matters relating to the law

eligibleadj. able to do or receive something

applicationn. a formal and usually written request for something, such as a job, admission to a school, or a loan

progressiveadj. using or interested in new or modern ideas especially in politics and education

forcingv. making someone do something that he or she does not want to do

sign awayp.v. to give something, such as rights or property, to someone by signing a document

disappointingadj. not as good as expected by not being what was hoped for or expected

confusionn. a situation in which people are uncertain about what to do or are unable to understand something clearly

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/21/0010/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/21/0010/VOA Special EnglishSun, 21 Oct 2018 07:51:00 UTC
<![CDATA[US Professional Basketball Continues to Grow Internationally]]>Jonathan Evans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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Every year, the National Basketball Association holds games before the official season starts to build support for its 30 professional teams.

Earlier this month, there was clear excitement in the final minutes of a preseason game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks.

The 76ers were winning by four points and had possession of the ball. Thousands of fans were screaming "defense" as loudly as they could.

The excitement is a common reaction from fans with one uncommon detail: The game was played in China.

NBA teams have been traveling overseas to play either preseason or official, regular-season games for about 40 years. And the NBA continues to expand.

The NBA has opened 12 international offices. It has established seven basketball training centers on four continents. NBA games are now broadcast in more than 200 countries and territories.

This season, the NBA returns to Mexico and Britain to play games that will count towards its regular season.

Basketball versus soccer

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told the Associated Press that he believes basketball can be the most popular sport in the world. He added, "The fact that young people, boys and girls, continue to love this sport, are playing this sport, are engaged in the sport of basketball on social media or with online games, I don't know what the limit is."

The NBA reports that 300 million people play basketball for fun in China alone. The organization also notes rising popularity growth in India. The NBA estimates that 1 billion people around the world have some way to watch the NBA Finals championship series.

Football, known as soccer in the United States, remains the world's most popular sport.

NBA training centers now appear to be copying what soccer teams around the world have been doing for years. For example, some of the top international football clubs have training centers in the U.S. Now, the NBA is starting its own training centers around the world.

Marvin Johnson moved from the Miami area in the state of Florida to China in 2017 to teach and coach at a basketball training center. The first thing he saw when he arrived in Beijing was a large Li-Ning sporting goods store. In the store, many items carried the name or image of NBA star player Dwyane Wade. Wade now has a lifetime agreement to endorse the Chinese company's products.

Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat
Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat

Johnson said that many local players wear NBA jerseys. He added, "If you ask any local playing basketball, they can't name the players on the local Chinese Basketball Association team — but they can name their favorite players in the NBA in an instant."

Other sports leagues look to grow internationally

Many star NBA players have traveled to Asia. LeBron James has made a yearly trip to China for years. Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson have also enjoyed their time in China.

Thompson told the AP, "Life is too short to be serious all the time. You've got to be able to show your personality. That's what I do when I come to China."

Mark Tatum is the deputy commissioner of the NBA. He said, "When you look at China, India and Africa, you've got about 60 percent of the world's population in those three places. So we're putting a lot of time and energy in how we become the No. 1 sport in those countries."

Other professional sports leagues in North America have an interest in the international market as well.

Major League Baseball will have its first games next season in Japan. It will be a two-game series between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics.

The National Football League is playing three regular-season games in London this year. And the Florida Panthers and Winnipeg Jets of the National Hockey League will play a two-game series in Finland next month.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Tim Reynolds reported this story for the Associated Press news agency. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

Words in This Story

continent –n. one of the great divisions of land (North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, or Antarctica) of the Earth

engage –v. to do something

endorse – v. to publicly say that you like or use a product or service in exchange for money

jerseys –n. a loose shirt worn by a member of a sports team as part of a uniform

favorite –adj. most liked

leaguen. a group of sports teams that play against each other

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/18/0247/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/18/0247/VOA Special EnglishThu, 18 Oct 2018 06:23:00 UTC
<![CDATA['First Man' Shows Sacrifice, Risk of Apollo 11 Mission]]>Caty Weaver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/2018/10/18/7348/

On July 20, 1969, the world watched as black and white television images showed astronaut Neil Armstrong make history by stepping onto the moon.

Now, Armstrong's bravery, spirit of exploration and ability to deal with intense pressure is celebrated in a new movie about his life.

The movie First Man is based on James Hansen's book, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong. Academy Award-winning director Damien Chazelle directed the film.

The Apollo 11 moon landing is the high point of First Man. Using sound, music and close-up images, Chazelle lets the audience see the punishing training, deadly technical failures and personal sacrifices that led to the first step on the Moon's surface.

Actor Ryan Gosling plays Armstrong, who leads the moon mission while still mourning the recent death of his daughter. He struggles with the risks of space travel as a husband and father.

Claire Foy plays Janet Armstrong as a firm, calm and supportive wife who tries to accept the danger her husband faces. She demands that he be honest with their young sons before he leaves for the rocket launch. She says he must tell them that he might not return.

Claire Foy and Ryan Gosling attend the 'First Man' premiere at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, October 4, 2018.
Claire Foy and Ryan Gosling attend the 'First Man' premiere at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, October 4, 2018.

The film had its premiere, or first official showing, at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Gosling told VOA he was deeply affected by the museum's flight and space exploration collection.

'I was so excited when they picked here to have the premiere. It seemed like such a perfect place to do it. It's my first time here, and I hope I get a chance to see it.'

Foy was also moved seeing a real space shuttle, astronaut uniforms and other objects that had been re-created for the film.

'It's kind of a firsthand experience of what these missions were like for these men and these families.'

During the premiere, Chazelle told VOA he sought to tell the real story of, in his words, 'these ordinary human beings throughout these extraordinary circumstances.'

'...Sacrificing everything, putting their lives on the line, and giving up so much, so that we can benefit from living in a world where we know humans have that potential.'

Chazelle is known for placing great importance on sound and music in film. His Oscar-winning films Whiplash and La La Land are examples of that interest.

The music for First Man, from Academy Award-winner Justin Hurwitz, communicates the excitement of the Apollo 11 mission and the emotional days surrounding it.

Chazelle said, 'Sound and music were both instrumental at this movie. We wanted you, the audience, to feel that you had never been to space quite this way before, and also find a way to link space to the home front.'

I'm Caty Weaver.

VOA movie reporter Penelope Poulou wrote this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

mission -n. a flight by an aircraft or spacecraft to perform a specific task​

benefit -n. a good or helpful result or effect​

potential -n.

circumstances -n. the way something happens : the specific details of an event​

uniform -n. a special kind of clothing that is worn by all the members of a group or organization (such as an army or team)​

audience -n. a group of people who gather to listen or watch something

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/18/7348/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/18/7348/VOA Special EnglishThu, 18 Oct 2018 02:56:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Humanoid ‘Pepper' Appears in Britain’s Parliament]]>Bryan Lynn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/2018/10/18/3394/

A robot appeared with British lawmakers earlier this week to demonstrate how machines are being engineered to act like human beings.

The robot is called Pepper. It is known as a humanoid, a machine designed to look and act like a person.

Pepper was called to sit Tuesday with the Education Committee in Britain's House of Commons. The parliament announced it was the first time a robot had ever appeared for questioning by lawmakers.

Japan's SoftBank Robotics launched Pepper in 2014. The robot appearing in parliament belongs to an engineering and computer science team at London's Middlesex University. The students are developing the artificial intelligence or AI programs that power Pepper. AI is the ability of a machine, such as a computer, to reproduce intelligent human behavior.

Pepper was welcomed to parliament by Robert Halfon, chairman of the Education Committee.

"Pepper, could you please introduce yourself."

"Good morning chair. Thank you for inviting me to give evidence today. My name is Pepper and I'm a resident robot at Middlesex University."

Pepper is shown at Middlesex University in London, England, where a team of engineers and computer scientists is developing the AI that powers the robot. (Middlesex University)
Pepper is shown at Middlesex University in London, England, where a team of engineers and computer scientists is developing the AI that powers the robot. (Middlesex University)

Pepper explained that it was involved in a special robot development project called Caresses. The European Commission and Japanese government launched the project in 2017. It aims to design robots that can assist older adults and "adapt to the culture of the individual they are taking care of."

Robots like Pepper are being engineered to help people carry out many common tasks and other activities. For example, a robot can help someone remember to take medicine or urge them to stay active. The humanoids can also serve as a communication link to help older adults keep in contact with family members and friends.

Engineers working on the Caresses project say they are using machine learning to make Pepper seem intelligent. They say their development methods help robots recognize the daily activities and desires of the people they are assisting.

Pepper told British lawmakers the Caresses project has helped make robots more intelligent and "culturally competent."

"Assistive, intelligent robots for older people could relieve pressure in hospitals and care homes as well as improve the care delivery at home."

Pepper added that this kind of personal robot can also be used to reduce loneliness and improve a person's quality of life.

In this photo dated March 12, 2018, Mihail Slanina, a guest from Moldavia, asks robot Robby Pepper for information at the front desk of hotel in Peschiera del Garda, northern Italy. The hotel uses the robot to assist guests. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
In this photo dated March 12, 2018, Mihail Slanina, a guest from Moldavia, asks robot Robby Pepper for information at the front desk of hotel in Peschiera del Garda, northern Italy. The hotel uses the robot to assist guests. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Several British lawmakers questioned Pepper about technology subjects. But all of Pepper's answers appeared to have been pre-programmed before the committee appearance.

The technology website The Verge reported how AI and robotics researchers noted that Pepper is not equipped to listen to questions and provide answers in real-time.

A spokesman for the Education Committee spoke about the issue with The Verge. "It will be clear on the day that Pepper's responses are not spontaneous," the spokesman said.

He added that Pepper's appearance provided the chance for lawmakers "to explore both the potential and limitations of such technology and the capabilities of robots."

Martin Loomes leads Middlesex University's School of Science and Technology. He says robots are sure to play a big part in many industries in the future. But Pepper is an example of how robots can do more than purely mechanical jobs and seek to connect meaningfully with people in social and cultural ways, he added.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA 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

introduce – v. to make known by an official announcement or act

resident n. someone who lives in a set or given place

adapt v. to be able to change to meet new needs or requirements

competent adj. able to do something well

relieve v. to ease a burden or load

promote v. encourage something to happen

spontaneous adj. happening naturally or sudden and without being planned

capability n. the ability or power to do something

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/18/3394/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/18/3394/VOA Special EnglishThu, 18 Oct 2018 02:28:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Constitutional Reform in Cuba Launches Unusual Public Debate]]>Dorothy Gundy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/2018/10/17/5246/

Cuba does not have public opinion studies, campaigns or large independent media groups. But meetings about reforming the country's constitution have launched an unusual public debate.

Cuba's government has organized the meetings. They are part of a nearly two-month period during which Cubans are invited to discuss a draft of the country's new constitution.

Cuba's National Assembly and ruling Communist Party have already approved the draft. Government officials are expected to review the public's comments and add the ideas into a final constitution. The public will then have a chance to approve it next February.

But it is unknown how many and which ideas will be included. Cuba's single-party government does not have a history of showing the people how it works or giving them a strong voice.

In this Oct. 2, 2018 photo, tourists take a joy ride in a vintage convertible car, past a billboard promoting constitutional reform
In this Oct. 2, 2018 photo, tourists take a joy ride in a vintage convertible car, past a billboard promoting constitutional reform

Direct elections and same-sex marriage

However, as a result of the meetings, everyday people are formally talking to each other about Cuba's political system and values. Some are calling for direct election of the president and other officials.

"We don't need multiparty democracy, but we should have direct elections," Reinaldo Gonzalez said during a meeting in Havana.

Currently, members of the National Assembly choose the president of Cuba. And government-controlled groups choose the members of the National Assembly.

Many Cubans are objecting to a constitutional amendment that would permit same-sex marriage. Hilario Brache, who calls himself a loyal revolutionary, said, "Nature says marriage should be between a man and a woman."

However, the daughter of Raul Castro, the country's Communist Party leader, strongly supports the amendment. Mariela Castro leads the country's institute of sexual health and education. She has pushed for increased rights for homosexuals.

But most of the proposed changes are not major reforms. For example, the draft identifies roles for foreign investment and private property. These reforms have already been part of a slow move over the last 10 years toward a more market economy.

Other changes deal with the country's large government structure. They suggest creating the positions of a prime minister and area governor.

Reporters from the Associated Press have been attending some of the meetings. They say many Cubans believe the new constitution aims to make the current situation in the country official. They note that many people in the government were revolutionary fighters with Fidel Castro. Those officials may want to make sure things stay the same before they retire or pass away.

The meetings have shown that Cubans are informed, interested and excited to talk about their country. Citizens meet in public areas and parks across the country. Many carry cards with the 224 articles of the proposed constitution. They stand for the national song. Then, they share their opinions while someone takes notes. The comments are later sent to the constitutional reform commission, which is led by Raul Castro.

Arturo Lopez-Levy was born and educated in Cuba, and is now an international relations professor in the United States. He said the debates have demonstrated that people in other countries "underestimate the extent of debate and popular feedback in the Cuban system."

Constitutional lawyer Julio Fernandez Estrada noted that the meetings have been extremely good and useful. However, he is worried about how much of the public's opinions might actually be included in the final draft of the constitution.

I'm Dorothy Gundy.

Kelly Jean Kelly adapted this story for VOA Learning English from the Associated Press. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Words in This Story

draftn. a version of something (such as a document) that you make before you make the final version.

commission n. a group of people who have been given the official job of finding information about something or controlling something

extent – n. the point or limit to which something extends

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

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/17/5246/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/17/5246/VOA Special EnglishWed, 17 Oct 2018 00:12:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Japan Intensifying Pressure on China in the South China Sea]]>Mario Ritter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/2018/10/17/6087/

Japan's navy has been taking part in military exercises in the South China Sea over the past two months.

The exercises are evidence of increased Japanese activity in an area where Japan has long-term interests, including controlling China's influence.

In September, a Japanese submarine, helicopter carrier and two destroyer warships explored parts of the South China Sea.

The exercises are part of a two-month program called the Indo Southeast Asia Deployment 2018. The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense forces say it is designed to support the "interoperability of our partner navies."

Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised to work with Vietnam on security in the waterway. That statement followed a beach landing exercise involving forces of both Japan and the Philippines.

Japan does not claim territory in the South China Sea, as do Vietnam and the Philippines. However, the Japanese do want to keep the sea open to international shipping. China's military buildup in the waterway, then, is a concern.

China has been developing man-made islands in the area for its military. Some of these islets now have runways for large military airplanes. Some are defended with missiles.

Japan is an ally of the United States. The Japanese also have a territorial dispute with China in the East China Sea.

Jeffery Kingston is a history teacher at Temple University in Japan. He told VOA, "Clearly Japan wants to send a message to Beijing that China doesn't get to do anything it wants in the South China Sea."

Kingston added that Japan is developing relationships with other nations in East Asia, and the exercises are likely to continue.

"These exercises are going to become the new norm," he said.

Japanese interests expand in Southeast Asia

Japan started intensifying ties with Southeast Asia about 20 years ago, when China began expanding its own economic relations in the area. Since 1999, Japan has cut back on its development aid to China.

In March, Japan announced plans to lend money to the Philippines for Manila's first subway system. Japan also has helped rebuild Marawi, a Philippine city partly destroyed by civil war in 2017.

Last year, Japan also promised to work closely with Australia, India and the United States to keep the South China Sea open to shipping.

Stephen Nagy is an associate professor in politics and international studies at the International Christian University in Tokyo. He said Japan wants other countries to agree on international maritime "norms."

Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines all claim parts of the South China Sea.

In June, Japan offered a $23 million grant to Indonesia for building ports that face the sea. Two years ago, Japan offered loans and grants to the Philippines for naval patrol ships. And last month, a Japanese submarine visited Vietnam.

Nagy said Southeast Asia looks to Japan "as a counterbalance" to China. He said Japan and its allies are trying to develop an agreement "on how international law should be obeyed by countries within the region."

China has protested Japan's recent submarine activity, saying it took place in Chinese waters. The state-operated website Chinadaily.com said the activity "was testing one of China's redlines," meaning one of its sensitive areas.

Some observers say China may try to build stronger ties with Japan because of its trade dispute with the United States. This year the U.S. government ordered tariffs on some imports, requiring taxes on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Kingston said China hopes to "turn down the heat on Japan" because the United States is China's biggest headache now.

I'm Mario Ritter.

Ralph Jennings wrote this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted his report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

interoperability – n. the ability of a system to work with and use parts of another system

norm – n. something that is usual or expected

maritime – adj. related to sailing or doing business on the sea

consensus – n. a general agreement on something; an idea that is shared by all members of a group

grant n. a gift for a set purpose

counterbalancen. a weight that balances another

headache – n. a very difficult problem or situation

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

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/17/6087/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/17/6087/VOA Special EnglishWed, 17 Oct 2018 00:11:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Hologram of Former US President Goes on Display]]>Pete Musto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/2018/10/17/4623/

A three-dimensional, moving image of former American President Ronald Reagan waved to a crowd from a train car on Wednesday.

This special computer-generated image, made of light, is called a hologram. The hologram of Reagan spoke to people outside the former president's official library in Southern California.

"We think we made a good beginning, but you ain't seen nothin' yet!" the hologram said, as balloons fell around it.

The sound the hologram used came from a speech Reagan gave in 1984. The former president was speaking about the nation's future.

John Heubusch is executive director of the Reagan Foundation. He told the Associated Press his organization wanted to make the hologram look as much like the real man as possible.

"It's a stunning experience," he said.

Reagan was the 40th president of the United States. He died in 2004 when he was 93 years old.

There are two other holograms at the former president's library outside Los Angeles, California. In one, Reagan appears in formal clothing inside a recreation of the Oval Office in the White House. In the other, Reagan is wearing special clothing and carrying equipment for riding horses at his country home. His dog, Victory, is next to him.

All three holograms went on display on Thursday.

The Reagan holograms began with a copy of his head that was made using a substance called silicone. The copy was then photographed by 300 cameras from many different positions. Next, the photos were used to digitally recreate an image of the former president's head over the head of an actor. The actor was dressed like Reagan and stood in recreations of the environment of all three situations.

Reagan's face comes to life using special movements of the mouth, nose, eyes, and other parts of the face. Computers control the movements.

The presidential library worked with Hologram USA, a Hollywood-based company. The special-effects company also created holograms of singers like Michael Jackson, Billie Holiday and Roy Orbison.

David Nussbaum is the senior vice president of Hologram USA. He said that, because Reagan had been a radio announcer, television star and movie actor, he understood and valued new technologies.

"He always thought many steps ahead," Nussbaum said. "If he was looking down right now on this project, I think he would give us his seal of approval. I think he would totally get this and support it."

Joanne Drake served as Reagan's chief of staff after the end of the president's two terms. She is now chief administration officer for the Reagan foundation. She said seeing such a lifelike recreation of her former boss was a little strange. But she also said it was "very comforting."

"It's fun to think that he's standing in front of us," Drake said.

She added, "You know it's not him standing there, but you see his facial movements and his arm movements and his body and that twinkle in his eye and that little grin that he always got, and it makes you remember really what he brought to the office."

Drake said future plans could include developing a traveling display of the holograms.

"I do think we're going to see Ronald Reagan back in Washington, D.C.," she said.

I'm Pete Musto.

Amanda Lee Myers reported this story for the Associated Press. Pete Musto adapted this story for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Who else would you like to see a holographic image of? Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

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

generate(d) – v.­ to produce something or cause something to be produced

stunningadj. very surprising or shocking

formaladj. requiring or using serious and proper clothes and manners

on displayn. put somewhere for people to see

seal of approvaln. an action or statement that shows approval or official acceptance

comfortingadj. causing someone to feel less worried, upset or frightened

twinkle in (his) eyeidm. a friendly or happy expression in someone's eye

grinn. n expression on your face that makes the corners of your mouth turn up and that shows happiness, amusement, pleasure, or affection

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/17/4623/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/17/4623/VOA Special EnglishWed, 17 Oct 2018 00:10:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Harvard Accused of Discriminating Against Asian-Americans]]>Bryan Lynn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/2018/10/17/0828/

A United States federal court in Boston, Massachusetts, is hearing a discrimination case against the oldest university in the country.

The nonprofit organization Students for Fair Admissions first took legal action against Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2014. It says the school discriminates against Asian-Americans seeking admission.

The legal action accuses Harvard of holding Asian-American students to higher requirements than students of other races. It says the university uses "racial balancing" policies that unlawfully limit how many Asian American students it accepts.

The organization argues that race should not be considered when deciding which students to accept. The use of "racial classifications and preferences" is "unfair, unnecessary, and unconstitutional," the group says on its website.

It accuses the school of discriminating against Asian-Americans seeking admission by giving them a "personal rating."

Lawyers for Students for Fair Admissions said these ratings seek to measure personal qualities such as "courage" and "likeability." Such qualities are measured subjectively, leaving the process open to discrimination, the lawyers argued.

People sit on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
People sit on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

The group says it has more than 20,000 members, including students, parents and others.

Harvard denies using discriminatory practices in its admissions process. The Ivy League school says it uses race as one of many things it considers in admissions decisions. It believes considering race can help create a mixed community "where students from all walks of life" can learn with and from each other.

Education and employment policies that consider race are known as affirmative action. Supporters say these policies can help make up for historic, widespread racial discrimination of minority groups. Critics have long argued that affirmative action is unfair to white people and Asian-Americans who outperform other groups on academic measures.

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard several cases about affirmative action in recent years.

The Supreme Court's most recent decision on the subject approved limited use of race in the admission process. That 2016 decision came from a lawsuit against the University of Texas that accused the school of discriminating against white students.

Harvard leaders have said the school only considers race in the way earlier Supreme Court cases have ruled is permitted.

The university has also noted that its share of Asian-Americans has grown in recent years, reaching 23 percent of the latest first year class.

In this March 7, 2017 file photo, rowers paddle along the Charles River past the Harvard College campus in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
In this March 7, 2017 file photo, rowers paddle along the Charles River past the Harvard College campus in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Harvard reports that 15.2 percent of its most recent first year class is African-American. Hispanic or Latino students make up 12.3 percent, while 1.9 percent are Native American. That leaves a remaining group of mainly white students at under 50 percent.

President Donald Trump's administration supports the argument against Harvard.

In July, the Trump administration announced it was withdrawing government guidelines meant to increase student diversity at U.S. schools. The guidelines were developed during the presidency of Barack Obama. The guidance stated that schools could consider race in admissions decisions as long as the policies did not violate Supreme Court decisions.

The U.S. Justice Department said it was withdrawing the guidelines because it considered them "unnecessary or outdated." Civil rights groups criticized the move and some university officials said they would continue their efforts toward mixed student populations as before.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

----------------

Words in This Story

classification n. the process of putting people or things into groups by their type, size, etc, or one of these groups

preference n. the feeling of liking something or someone more than another person or thing

courage n. the ability to do something without being afraid

subjective adj. influenced by someone else's beliefs or feelings instead of facts

affirmative action n. the practice of improving the educational and job opportunities of members of groups that have not been treated fairly in the past because of their race, sex, etc.​

]]>
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<![CDATA[A Half-British, Half-American Royal Baby on the Way]]>Caty Weaver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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This is What's Trending Today…

Another royal baby is on the way.

Britain's Prince Harry and his American wife Meghan Markle are expecting a child. Kensington Palace tweeted the announcement Monday morning.

It read: "Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019."

Markle had been wearing looser clothing for several weeks. Then, on Friday, she wore a large coat to a royal wedding. Media reports quickly spread that she was possibly trying to hide signs of a pregnancy.

The couple has been married almost five months. Their wedding ceremony last May in Windsor, England was a hugely popular televised event.

The Duke and Dutchess currently are in Australia at the start of a 16-day trip that will also include visits to Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand. The pregnancy news came out shortly after they landed in Sydney. It set off a series of congratulatory posts on social media sites.

Many people are also guessing the sex of the baby, making lists of possible names and discussing the possibilities for its future in public service.

Some guesses are funny. American journalist Greg Pollowitz posted that the child will be an American citizen and might run for president someday.

He wrote, "Congratulations to Princess Meghan and Harry, and to the #RoyalBaby who will one day rule the Great American Empire."

Another Twitter user posted that the baby will help,' Make America Great (Britain) Again."

And that's What's Trending Today.

I'm Caty Weaver.

Caty Weaver wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

royal --adj. of or related to a king or a queen

coat --n. a piece of outer clothing that can be either long or short that is worn to keep warm and dry

wedding --n. a marriage ceremony

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/16/1751/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/16/1751/VOA Special EnglishTue, 16 Oct 2018 02:46:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Trump Says Saudi King Denies Any Knowledge On Khashoggi]]>Caty Weaver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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American President Donald Trump said on Monday that he had spoken with Saudi Arabia's King Salman.

The president said the king "denies any knowledge" of what happened to the Saudi reporter who disappeared in Istanbul two weeks ago. Jamal Khashoggi is a Saudi citizen who was living in the United States at the time of his disappearance.

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters from the White House in Washington, October 15, 2018 before leaving for Florida to inspect hurricane damage there.
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters from the White House in Washington, October 15, 2018 before leaving for Florida to inspect hurricane damage there.

Trump said the Saudi leader "didn't really know" what happened to him.

"Maybe, I don't want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers – I mean, who knows?" he added.

Trump is sending American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the Middle East to investigate the situation. The president said Pompeo will meet with King Salman.

Khashoggi wrote for the Washington Post newspaper. Some of his opinion pieces are critical King Salman's son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is called MBS. Many observers say he is a more powerful force in Saudi Arabia than the King.

Turkish officials have said they believe Saudi agents killed Khashoggi after he entered Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul. They also said Turkey has audio and video recordings of the attack.

The Saudi government says the Turkish claims are "baseless." It says Khashoggi left the consulate the same day he came. However, it has not provided evidence to support that claim.

Trump has promised "severe punishment" if the U.S. government finds that Khashoggi was killed inside the building. He made the comment to the CBS News program "60 Minutes."

Saudi Arabia has threatened economic action for any U.S. action designed to punish the country.

When embassies become places of terror

Consulates, embassies and other diplomatic offices worldwide are often considered safe places. Yet they have not always been impervious to acts of violence.

Killings, suicide bombings, militia attacks and hostage crises all have taken place in diplomatic buildings.

Here are a few examples:

Attack on U.S. offices in Libya

Supporters of the Ansar al-Shariah militant group attacked two U.S. government offices in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in the attack. Last year, a U.S. jury found Ahmed Abu Khattala, a Libyan man, guilty on several terrorism-related charges for his part in the attacks.

Hostage-taking at Myanmar embassy in Thailand

On October 7, 1999, a group known as the Vigorous Burmese Student Warriors attacked Myanmar's embassy in Bangkok. The attackers took 38 hostages to demand democracy in their country, also known as Burma. Thai officials gave the hostage-takers permission to fly to the border. The move angered the government in Myanmar but ended the incident without violence.

Al-Qaida bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa

Two hundred twenty-four people were killed when trucks carrying bombs exploded near U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on August 7, 1998. Al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the attacks. Most of the victims were Kenyans, but 12 Americans also died. The man suspected of plotting the attacks, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, avoided capture for 13 years before he was killed at a security stop in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.

Japanese embassy hostage crisis in Peru

On December 17, 1996, Tupac Amaru rebels seized the Japanese ambassador's home in Lima, Peru. At that time, the ambassador was holding a large party to celebrate Emperor Akihito's birthday. Diplomats and government officials were taken hostage. The group demanded the release of jailed rebels. The group held 72 people hostage for 126 days before Peruvian government troops attacked. One hostage, two soldiers and all rebels were killed.

Attack on Egyptian embassy in Pakistan

A suicide attacker drove a truck filled with explosives into the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad on Nov. 19, 1995. Fifteen people died in the attack. Egypt found Ayman al-Zawahri, an Egyptian citizen and leader of a militant group, guilty and sentenced him to death in absentia. Al-Zawahri later combined his group with al-Qaida and took the place of Osama bin Laden as al-Qaida's chief.

Attacks on Israeli embassy, Jewish center in Argentina

A bomb destroyed the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires on March 18, 1992. The attack killed 29 people. Two years later, a Jewish community center in the city was bombed, killing 85 people. It was the deadliest bombing ever in Argentina. Israel and Argentina have accused Iran of being responsible for the bombings. Iran has denied any part in the attacks.

I'm Caty Weaver. And I'm Jonathan Evans.

The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand and George Grow adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page. ----------------

Words in This Story

roguen. a dishonest, troublesome person

consulate – n. diplomatic office

impervious adj. not permitting passage; not able to be harmed

absentia – adj. one who is not present (at a trial)

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http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/16/3479/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/16/3479/VOA Special EnglishTue, 16 Oct 2018 01:33:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Koreas Agree on Joint Railway, Road Projects, But Experts Are Concerned]]>Mario Ritter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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North and South Korea held more high-level talks Monday in the demilitarized zone separating the two countries. Both sides agreed to begin a joint project to improve roads and railways to link the two countries.

Some international experts, however, remain cautious about the increase in cooperation between North and South Korea. They say North Korea must make progress toward ending its nuclear weapons program before economic restrictions are eased.

The meeting Monday was part of continuing diplomatic talks. The two Korean leaders called for the continuing talks during a summit in September.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon led the five-member South Korean delegation. Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the Committee for Peaceful Reunification, led the North's group.

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, on the right, greets his North Korean counterpart Ri Son Gwon.
South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, on the right, greets his North Korean counterpart Ri Son Gwon.

Officials said the two sides agreed to begin a joint project to modernize and connect railways and roads by the end of the year. They said teams would begin inspecting the transportation links along the Gyeongeui railway line by the middle of October and a line to the east by early November.

Along with infrastructure plans, the sides also reached agreement on humanitarian and cultural issues. They agreed to hold talks with the Red Cross at the Mount Kumgang Resort in North Korea about families separated by the Korean War. They also agreed to discuss issues related to a North Korean art group that would soon be able to perform in the South.

Moon's diplomacy and experts' concerns

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called for the international community to reward North Korea's effort to reduce its nuclear program.

But several Korea experts have voiced concerns about some of Moon's proposals. Bruce Klingner is a researcher for Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He said, in his opinion, Moon appears to be very willing to provide a "long and growing list of economic benefits and economic promises to North Korea."

Klingner warns that they "could be violations of [United Nations] sanctions or [United States] law."

Klingner added that there is growing concern in the United States about Moon's willingness to improve inter-Korean relations without the required action by North Korea.

Another Korea expert, Bruce Cumings, said North Korea has made progress. Cumings said it is "very significant" that over a year has passed since North Korea stopped testing missiles and nuclear weapons. He said this is important because the North has not reached a point where they have proved "that they can marry a warhead to a missile and carry it across the oceans."

Moon is currently visiting several nations in Europe. He is building support for easing sanctions on North Korea. Moon spoke to the French newspaper Le Figaro about his discussions with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He said the "meetings have convinced me that he has taken the strategic decision" to end his country's nuclear weapons program.

Former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Christopher Hill, however, said North Korea has not fully acted on its promises. "I'd like to hear the argument that suggests that they've done something in denuclearization," he said.

I'm Mario Ritter.

Steve Miller wrote this story for VOA News with contributions from Lee Ju-hyun. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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

Words in This Story

cautious –adj. careful about avoiding danger or risk

summit –n. a meeting between the leaders of groups such as countries or companies

reward –n. money or another kind of payment that is given or received for something that has been done or that is offered for something that might be done

benefits –n. a good or helpful result or effect

sanction –n. measure put in place to cause a country to obey international law, usually by limiting or banning trade

significant –adj. very important

convince –v. to cause someone to believe that something is true

strategic –adj. of or relating to a general plan that is created to reach a goal in war, politics, etc., usually over a long period of time

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/16/5113/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2018/10/16/5113/VOA Special EnglishTue, 16 Oct 2018 00:15:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Study: Air Pollution Reduces Intelligence]]>Anna Matteo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/2018/10/16/6147/

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

Air pollution is a killer.

The World Health Organization says it kills an estimated seven million people around the world each year. Even if polluted air does not kill us, it can make us very sick.

However, breathing dirty air may do more than hurt your body. It can also affect your brain and your ability to think.

A new study shows that air pollution can cause a "huge" reduction in our intelligence. The study was a project involving researchers at Peking University in China and Yale University in the United States.

The researchers reported that long-term exposure to air pollution can affect a person's mental abilities in two areas: language and mathematics.

The researchers studied about 25,000 people from across China. Between 2010 and 2014, these Chinese men, women and children were given language and math tests. Then researchers compared the test results with measurements of pollution in the air, namely nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide.

Xi Chen of the Yale School of Public Health led the study. He and his team found that breathing polluted air can reduce a person's education level by about one year.

Chen said that the effect generally is worse for those over 64 years of age, for men and for those with little or no education.

"The older persons -- they are more affected. And we find, quite interestingly, males are more affected than females. And people working outdoors are more affected than people working indoors."

He noted that the youngest people in the study were 10 years old, while the oldest was 90. They came from 25 of China's 33 provinces. In his words, this range of ages and locations across the country provided a "good representative sample."

The researchers noted that the effect of pollution on verbal ability is even more serious as people age, especially among men and the less educated.

Why were language skills more affected than math?

Xi Chen told VOA that there are two main kinds of tissue in the brain: white matter and gray matter. White matter, he said, is more connected with a person's language skills, while gray matter is connected to our ability to solve math problems. Other studies, he noted, have shown that air pollution has a great effect on the white matter in the brain, but not the gray matter.

"Our findings are very consistent with the hypothesis that the white matter is the key to explain this result. In our brains, we have two main tissues: one is white matter. The other is gray matter. And we know that gray matter is more responsible for people's math skills. But white matter is more related to people's language skills. So, that's why we find a much larger effect on language skills."

Chen said that air pollution did affect the math skills of the study participants, just not as much as their language skills.

The study was carried out in a single country. But the findings may be important to people all over the world, especially those living in highly polluted areas.

In May 2018, the WHO reported that nine of every 10 people worldwide are breathing polluted air.

WHO experts note that of the seven million deaths from air pollution, "more than 90% of air pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries in Asia and Africa.

In 2018, the WHO found that India had the world's 14 most polluted cities.

The study we described earlier found that people who work outdoors fall into a high-risk group. However, that does not mean those who work inside buildings are safe from air pollution.

Researcher Xi Chen spoke about the smallest pieces of air pollution, called particulate matter 2.5 or simply PM2.5.

These particulates are only 2.5 micrometers long; sometimes they are even smaller. So you can easily breathe them in, and they are found indoors.

"Everyone is actually affected. And there are some studies already showing that the very small particulate matter can go directly into the brain affecting office workers. So, no matter whether you stay outdoors or indoors, everyone is affected. Some studies show that PM2.5 – which is very small particulate matter -- 70 percent of outdoor PM2.5 can go directly into the building."

Chen urges government policymakers to make serious changes.

'So, the longer term affects suggests to the policymakers that we need to engage in cleaning up the sky instead of investing in short-term avoidances, for example the face masks or air filters."

Xi Chen and his team reported their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

And that's the Health and Lifestyle report.

I'm Anna Matteo.

Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

exposure n. the fact or condition of being affected by something or experiencing something

range n. a sequence, series, or scale between limits

sample n. a representative part or a single item from a larger whole or group especially when presented for inspection or shown as evidence of quality

verbal adj. of, relating to, or consisting of words

consistentadj. always acting or behaving in the same way

hypothesis n. an idea or theory that is not proven but that leads to further study or discussion

participant n. a person who is involved in an activity or event : a person who participates in an activity or event

occur v. to come into existence

income n. money that is earned from work, investments, business, etc.

engage v. to take part in or cause to take part in something

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<![CDATA[Author: Matthew Bible 'Was Bought With Blood']]>Caty Weaver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/2018/10/15/2193/

The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. calls the King James Bible "the most influential and widely read Bible for more than 350 years." That version of the Christian holy book – sometimes called the KJV – was originally published in 1611. It includes sayings that are well known among English speakers, such as "Let there be light," and, "Beware of false prophets."

But a Canadian writer says even people who know the King James Bible or its sayings likely do not know how it came to be. Ruth Magnussun Davis says its roots are in a little-known book called the Matthew Bible. She says the name hid the fact that the Matthew Bible's main author was a disputed reformer named William Tyndale.

An image believed to be of William Tyndale.
An image believed to be of William Tyndale.

"That beautiful poetic language in the New Testament is mostly William Tyndale's. It's his voice speaking to us down the centuries."

Davis recently published a book called The Matthew Bible: That Which We First Received. She says after she learned about the Matthew Bible, she wanted to tell others.

"I came to faith later in life and I left my law practice to work with the Matthew Bible when I realized how beautiful it was… It's a gentler, sweeter, and richer, and clearer Bible than the later ones."

The story begins

Davis says that, in a way, the story of the Matthew Bible begins in England in the 1400s. At that time, the Roman Catholic Church ruled the country and the lives of those who lived there. But very few people could read or understand the Latin Bible the Catholic Church used.

In answer, several experts wanted to translate the Bible into English so everyday people could understand it.

But Church officials objected. Strongly. They passed laws saying that anyone who translated the Bible into English without official permission could be burned.

In the early 1500s, one man began translating it anyway. His name was William Tyndale. He was a priest – a Catholic religious official – but he also questioned some of the Church's ideas. Tyndale believed that the Bible should guide Church teachings, and that believers should be able to read it in their own language. The BBC history website notes that "these sorts of ideas were closely associated with Martin Luther and other controversial Protestant religious reformers."

To avoid punishment, Tyndale soon fled to the European continent.

There, says Davis, Tyndale completed the first English version of the New Testament – the part of the Christian Bible that tells about the life and teaching of Jesus.

"It was smuggled back into England. And pirate printers began making their own versions. And it was a very popular book. However, King Henry VIII promptly outlawed it and he banned all of William Tyndale's writings. And the authorities on the continent were seeking Tyndale, they wanted to capture him. And he did all this translation work while he was a fugitive, on the run from the authorities. Working in hiding and in great poverty."

In addition to the New Testament, Tyndale was able to translate some of the Old Testament – the part of the Christian Bible mostly relating to the ancient people of Israel.

But then a friend betrayed him to the authorities. Tyndale was arrested for the crime of heresy – speaking out against accepted religious teaching. In 1536, officials strangled Tyndale and burned his body.

The Matthew Bible is born

But the story does not end there. Two men connected with Tyndale continued his efforts. One, named Myles Coverdale, completed Tynsdale's translation of the Old Testament. He added a translation of the New Testament and published the first full English Bible in 1535.

Another man, named John Rogers, used Tyndale's and Coverdale's work to make another version of an English Bible. Then Rogers added his own notes, comments, study aid, and a kind of Bible dictionary, says Ruth Magnussun Davis. Davis argues it was, the first English study Bible.

The Matthew Bible New Testament title page
The Matthew Bible New Testament title page

John Rogers' version was printed in Antwerp and then shipped to England. The title page claimed it had been written by someone called Thomas Matthew, likely to disguise Tyndale's involvement.

What's more, the Bible was dedicated to King Henry VIII, the same king who had outlawed all of Tyndale's writing.

Nobody knows why John Rogers chose the name Thomas Matthew says Davis.

The work became known as the Matthew Bible.

By this time, King Henry VIII had decided he wanted to give the English people a Bible in their own language. He approved both the Coverdale Bible and the Matthew Bible for the church.

'The world's most beloved Bible'

Here the story of the men behind the Matthew Bible takes two very different turns. John Rogers went on to continue to challenge the authority of the Catholic Church. He was sentenced to death and, in 1555, burned at the stake.

Coverdale, however, became friendly with King Henry VIII and some of his top officials. When Catholics objected to some of the notes and comments in the Matthew Bible, Coverdale was asked to revise it. The new version was called the Great Bible – but it was really the Matthew Bible under a new name, says Davis.

Two more major revisions followed. They were called the Geneva Bible and the Bishops' Bible. But both were criticized because of the authors' religious and political points of view.

So King James I of England called for a committee to get together and agree on a translation. In the early 1600s, that committee produced the King James Bible. That text has been "the world's most loved Bible for centuries," says Davis. More than 80 percent of it are the words of William Tyndale, taken from the Matthew Bible.

'Bought with blood'

Davis says that several things make the first Matthew Bible special.

"For one thing, it's the only English bible that's bought with blood. William Tynsdale and John Rogers paid for their work with their lives. They worked for no reward, for no money, for no fame, but solely for the love of God's word."

Yet perhaps most important for Davis is the kind, merciful language of the Matthew Bible. In some places, she says, the Matthew Bible offers a different meaning than the King James and other Bibles modern Christians may know. For example, Davis points to a passage from the book of Proverbs about raising children.

The King James Bible urges parents to punish their child and not to stop, even if the child cries. If you stop, the King James Bible says, the child will not learn.

But the Matthew Bible is closer to the original Hebrew, Davis says. In Tyndale's translation, the passage says to punish the child, but not too severely. "For great wrath brings harm," Tyndale writes.

In other words, Davis says, a child will learn only hate and despair from needlessly severe treatment. You can teach him more later, when he has had time to grow.

Davis says comparing the translations of the Bible helped her understand her religion and grow more deeply in faith.

"When I came to faith late in life, I wasn't expecting the harshness that I thought that I saw, and then when I found the Matthew Bible, and I found William Tyndale, and he's so full of love, it's like, wow, I've come home!"

I'm Caty Weaver.

And I'm Jonathan Evans.

Kelly Jean Kelly wrote this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Words in This Story

prophet - n. a member of some religions who delivers messages that are believed to have come from God​

faith - n. belief in the existence of God : strong religious feelings or beliefs​

practice - n. to have a professional medical or legal business​

translate - v. to change words from one language into another language​

associated - adj. to think of one person or thing when you think of another person or thing​

controversial - adj. relating to or causing much discussion, disagreement, or argument​

smuggle - v. to take or bring something secretly​

authorities - n. people who have power to make decisions and enforce rules and laws​

revise - v. to make changes especially to correct or improve​

reward - n. money or another kind of payment that is given or received for something that has been done​

merciful - adj. treating people with kindness and forgiveness​

wrath - n. extreme anger

despair - n. the feeling of no longer having any hope​

harshness - n. having the quality of being severe or cruel

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<![CDATA[Study: Bees Went Silent During Total Solar Eclipse]]>Bryan Lynn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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On August 21, 2017, millions of people across America stopped what they were doing to observe a total solar eclipse.

But a new study suggests humans were not the only living beings who took a break from their usual activities during this historic event.

A total solar eclipse happens when the sun, moon and Earth perfectly line up. Last year's total solar eclipse was the first one in 99 years to pass over parts of the whole United States.

A crowd gathers in front of the Hollywood sign at the Griffith Observatory to watch the solar eclipse in Los Angeles on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
A crowd gathers in front of the Hollywood sign at the Griffith Observatory to watch the solar eclipse in Los Angeles on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

The new study found that bees went silent when within the path of totality of the solar eclipse. The results were recently published in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America.

The research was led by Candace Galen, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri. She found there was a lot of interest leading up to the eclipse by people wondering how different animals might behave.

"It seemed as if everyone and their dog was asking me what animals would do during a total eclipse,' Galen said in a statement.

Scientists had previously observed behavioral reactions in some animals during solar eclipses. These have included some forms of sea life, birds, antelope and cattle. But very few studies specifically examined the behavior of insects during a solar eclipse, and none had dealt with bees.

Bees are important for the growth of wild and agricultural plants. They help spread the substances that make it possible for flowers to reproduce through the process known as pollination.

Before the eclipse, Galen and her team had been field testing a system to examine bee pollination activities. The system used listening devices placed in nature to measure buzzing sounds. The buzzing is caused by movements in the bees' wing muscles during flight.

Bumble bees inspect and pollinate a sunflower on a Gaddis Farms field in Bolton, Miss., Friday, July 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Bumble bees inspect and pollinate a sunflower on a Gaddis Farms field in Bolton, Miss., Friday, July 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Galen said she thought "it seemed like a perfect fit" to use those same methods to look at bee behaviors during an eclipse.

The researchers organized a team of about 400 citizen scientists and elementary schoolchildren in different areas of the country to help with the experiment. The teams were deployed to areas in three U.S. states – Oregon, Idaho and Missouri. The three states represent different kinds of geology and climate.

Very small microphones were hidden among the natural environment to capture buzzing sounds as bees flew from flower to flower. In some areas, light and temperature information was also collected.

The sounds were then examined to measure the level of activity before, during and after the solar eclipse. In recordings taken during the totality part of the eclipse, researchers heard almost complete silence. "Only one buzz interrupted the quiet," the study said.

In this Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015 photo, a bee works atop Gift Zinnia at Hudson Valley Seed Library in Accord, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
In this Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015 photo, a bee works atop Gift Zinnia at Hudson Valley Seed Library in Accord, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

However, during partial stages of the eclipse, 90 percent of the microphones recorded buzzing. This meant there was still widespread bee activity before and after the total solar eclipse. The researchers said there was some slowing of activity immediately before and after totality.

Changes in light affect the bee's ability to see and find food sources and carry out pollination activities. Drops in temperature make it difficult for them to keep their bodies warm enough to fly.

Galen said results of the study were in keeping with normal bee behavior. Bees commonly fly more slowly when the sun goes down and return to their colonies at night. But what did surprise researchers was how quickly the bees went silent during totality.

"We had not expected that the change would be so abrupt, that bees would continue flying up until totality and only then stop, completely," Galen said. "It was like 'lights out' at summer camp! That surprised us."

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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

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Words in This Story

pollination n. the process of moving a very fine dust that is produced by a plant for reproduction to another plant

buzzing n. the sound a bee makes when it flies

geology n. the study of rocks and soil and the physical structure of the earth

interrupt v. to stop an action or activity, usually for a short period of time

stage n. a period of development in a process

abrupt adj. sudden and not expected

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<![CDATA[Study Says the Brain Remembers Thousands of Faces]]>Anne Ball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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Some people claim they "never forget a face." But what does that saying mean? Is there really no limit to the number of faces a person can remember?

A new study has found that, on average, people can remember as many as 5,000 faces.

That number comes from a group of researchers at the University of York in England. They published their findings on facial recognition this month in the Proceedings of The Royal Society B, Biological Sciences.

There have been many studies recently on facial recognition technology. But the authors of this study say theirs is the first time that scientists have been able to put a number to the abilities of humans to recognize faces.

The research team tested people on how many faces they could remember from their personal lives and in the media. They also tested them to see how many famous faces they recognized.

Rob Jenkins works in the psychology department at the University of York. He said the researchers' study centered on "the number of faces people actually know."

He said the researchers were not able to discover whether there is a "limit on how many faces the brain can handle."

FILE - Facial recognition technology is used to screen people before they visit the Statue of Liberty in New York, US.
FILE - Facial recognition technology is used to screen people before they visit the Statue of Liberty in New York, US.

How does facial recognition help humans?

Jenkins said the ability to tell individual people apart is "clearly important."

Throughout history, humans have mostly lived in small groups of around one hundred individuals. But in today's modern world of big cities, computers, televisions and social media, we meet and deal with thousands of people.

The study suggests our facial recognition abilities help us to deal with the many different faces we see on the screens, as well as those we know, like family and friends.

The results of the study give a baseline for comparing the 'facial vocabulary' of humans with facial recognition software.

Scientists have been working on computer technology to remember and identify faces since the 1960s. Today, facial recognition technology is used in many ways, including by law enforcement agencies to prevent crime and violence.

Governments use it to keep secret areas secure and, in extreme cases, control populations. Some governments use the software to watch people and find out where they go and what they do.

Even Facebook uses facial recognition. For example, when you "tag," or name, a friend, Facebook technology may recognize the person's face from a different picture you had shared before.

For the human study, people spent one hour writing down as many faces from their personal lives as possible. Some examples may include people they went to school with, people they work with and family members. Then, they wrote down famous faces they know, such as actors, politicians and other public people.

At first, they found it easy to come up with many faces. But by the end of the hour, they found it harder to think of new ones. Their change in speed let the researchers estimate when they would have run out of faces completely.

1,000 to 10,000 faces remembered

People who took part in the study were also shown thousands of photographs of famous people. Researchers asked them which ones they recognized. To make sure they knew these people, researchers required them to recognize two different photos of each famous person.

The results showed that the participants knew between 1,000 and 10,000 faces.

How do they explain such a wide range?

Jenkins said one explanation may be that some people have a natural ability for remembering faces. "There are differences in how much attention people pay to faces and how well they process the information," he said.

Jenkins also said it could be because of different social environments. Some people may have grown up in more populated places. So, they may have had more social contact throughout their lives.

The people in the study included 25 men and women students from two universities. They were between 18 and 61 years old.

Researchers think age may be an interesting area for further research.

'It would be interesting to see whether there is a peak age for the number of faces we know', Jenkins said. He said it is possible that we gather more faces throughout our lifetime. But, he added, there also may be an age at which we start to find it harder to remember all of those faces.

I'm Anne Ball.

Anne Ball adapted this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor. We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

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Words in This Story

handle – v. to deal with or act on

baseline – n. information that is used as a starting point by which to compare other information

software – n. the programs that run on a computer and perform certain functions

range – n. a series of numbers that includes the highest and lowest possible amounts

participant – n. a person who is involved in an activity or event: a person who participates in an activity or event ​

peak – adj. at the highest point or level

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