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。Wed, 18 Sep 2019 23:27:03 UTC<![CDATA[Trump Administration Announces Plans to Ban Flavored E-cigarettes]]>Ashley Thompson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/2019/09/12/1258/

American President Donald Trump says his administration will propose banning thousands of flavors of electronic cigarettes, known as e-cigarettes.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will develop rules to remove all e-cigarette flavors, except tobacco, from the U.S. market.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar made the announcement Wednesday. He spoke at the White House during an appearance with the president, first lady Melania Trump and the acting chief of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Ned Sharpless.

E-cigarettes are a popular substitute for traditional smoking products. They have been available in the United States for more than 10 years.

The electronic devices heat liquid into vapor -- very small particles that users inhale. Many users vape with a liquid that includes flavoring, nicotine and other chemicals. Nicotine is a natural chemical found in tobacco plants.

Trump said vaping has become such a problem that he wants parents to be informed of what is happening.

"People are going to watch what we're saying and parents are going to be a lot tougher with respect to their children," Trump said.

It will take several weeks to develop the proposed flavor restrictions.

Trump's first public comments on vaping come as U.S. officials investigate hundreds of breathing problems in people who have used e-cigarettes and other vaping devices.

No single device, ingredient or additive has been identified, although many cases involve marijuana vaping devices. There is still little research on the long-term effects of vaping.

The administration proposal would only affect nicotine vaping products, which are subject to FDA rules.

The FDA has had the power to ban vaping flavors since 2016, but up until now resisted calls to take that step. Agency officials instead said they were studying whether flavors could help people stop smoking traditional cigarettes.

But many parents, politicians and health activists have called for action on flavors. They argue that flavoring is largely to blame for a rise in vaping among U.S. teenagers.

"We simply have to remove these attractive flavored products from the marketplace until they can secure FDA approval, if they can," Azar said. He added that flavored products could seek the agency's permission to re-enter the market.

Azar said the administration would let tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes remain available for adults. But he said that if children begin using those products, "we will take enforcement action there also."

A 2009 law banned all flavors from traditional cigarettes except menthol. But that law did not affect e-cigarettes, which were then a small percentage of the tobacco market.

A ban on flavors would represent a huge blow to the vaping industry. Juul, one of the best known manufacturers, has grown into a huge business by selling mint, fruit and dessert flavored-nicotine products.

Juul and other vaping companies argue that their products are supposed to help adult smokers reduce their dependence on traditional paper-and-tobacco cigarettes. But there is little evidence that e-cigarettes are effective for helping people stop smoking.

Federal law bars e-cigarette and all other tobacco sales to those under age 18. But last year, one study found that 1 in 5 high school students reported vaping in the past month. Government health officials have called the rising in vaping an "epidemic."

More than 80 percent of underage teens who use e-cigarettes say they chose the product because it "comes in flavors that I like," studies have found.

I'm Ashley Thompson.

George Grow adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on a report by The Associated Press. 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

flavor n. a substance that is added to food or drink to give it a desired taste

substitute – n. a person or a thing that takes the place of someone or something else

inhale v. to breathe in

ingredient – n. a part of any mixture or combination

attractive adj. appealing or pleasing to the senses

dessert – n. a usually sweet treat served at the end of a meal

epidemic – n. a situation in which a disease spreads very quickly and affects a large number of people

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/12/1258/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/12/1258/VOA Special EnglishWed, 18 Sep 2019 23:26:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Migrant Mothers, Children Sue US Over Asylum Ban]]>Susan Shand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/2019/09/19/4059/

A group of migrant mothers and children have taken legal action against the American government. They say the Trump administration has unreasonably banned their entry to the United States, violating their rights as asylum-seekers.

The 126 women and children from 59 families are mostly from the poor and violent Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The individuals were rejected early in the asylum process while they were detained in Dilley, Texas. They were denied asylum under a new law that requires migrants first seek asylum in another country as they travel to the U.S.

Hassan Ahmad is the lead lawyer for the mothers and children. He said the government has established changes to the asylum process without warning. He said asylum-seekers are not being told which of the new rules will apply to their cases. Ahmad says his group is arguing the way in which the new law is enforced, not the law itself.

He filed their legal action in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Other legal actions already are challenging the law. Lower courts had agreed to block the rule immediately. But last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the law can take effect immediately while the legal actions against asylum-seekers are considered.

The Justice Department did not immediately answer a request for comment.

President Donald Trump's administration has called the increase in migrants from Central America a "crisis." It says most migrants make false asylum claims as a way to enter the United States.

I'm Susan Shand.

The Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Catherine Weaver was the editor.

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

Words in This Story

challenge – v. to question someone's action or authority

apply - v. is relevant to a thing or person

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/19/4059/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/19/4059/VOA Special EnglishWed, 18 Sep 2019 23:24:00 UTC
<![CDATA[For Separated Koreans, Memories Fading and Time Running Out]]>Susan Shand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/2019/09/19/6004/

Jin Gyeong-sun was in his early 20s when he fled North Korea during the Korean War. He left behind two sisters and a brother.

Nearly 70 years later, Jin still has not spoken to or seen his family since.

'I cannot even express my sadness in words,' says Jin, who is now 89 years old and living in Seoul. ''I miss my family as much as ever.'

For Jin and other Koreans who left family behind in the early 1950s, time is quickly running out to see their family on the other side of the border.

Relations between North and South Korea have worsened in recent months. Plans for government-approved family reunions are often delayed.

Too late for some

For many, it is already too late. Sixty percent of South Koreans who have registered for family reunions since 1988 had already died as of last month. Those numbers come from South Korea's Unification Ministry.

Among the nearly 54,000 survivors, 23 percent are 90 or older. And 41 percent are in their 80s, the ministry says.

At 74, Lee Sang-won is among the younger North Koreans who fled during the war. He came to South Korea during the United Nations-led Hungnam Evacuation in 1950. He was 5 years old. He has difficulty remembering his family.

'It's just been too long,' says Lee.

Reunions of high importance

Since 1985, 21 rounds of family reunions have reconnected a total of 4,355 individuals and 1,757 families. Such events have taken place less often in recent years.

The parents of South Korean President Moon Jae-in also left North Korea during the Hungnam Evacuation. He has discussed the importance of restarting the family reunions.

In a statement last week, Moon said restarting the family reunions is 'highest priority' for the two Koreas.

'It's wrong that governments in both the South and the North have not given them even a chance for such a long time,' Moon said.

The most recent reunions took place a little over one year ago, at North Korea's Mount Kumgang resort. It included 83 North Koreans and 89 South Koreans. More had been invited to take part. But they chose not to attend after discovering their family members across the border had already died.

A few months later, Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to make the reunions official. They created a permanent meeting place and permitted family members to write letters to each other. They also restarted video reunions.

South Korea modernized 13 video conferencing rooms around the country. Such rooms were last used nearly 20 years ago. It also sent video equipment to North Korea.

But such plans have halted because of the collapse of nuclear talks between the two sides. North Korea has said it would not restart the reunions.

Last week, North Korea said it would accept the recommendation of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which urged the country to work with the South on helping separated families. But so far there appears to be no major progress.

It is a sad time for Jin. He says he has asked 21 times to attend reunion events, but has been rejected each time.

'There is little time for me, and people like me,' Jin says. He would love to one day visit Pyongyang, his old hometown.

'Or at least send a letter,' he adds.

I'm Susan Shand.

VOA's Lee Juhyun reported this story from Seoul. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Words in This Story

priority – n. the most important item

resort – n. a holiday location

sanctions – n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/19/6004/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/19/6004/VOA Special EnglishWed, 18 Sep 2019 23:23:00 UTC
<![CDATA[In Hard Times, Feed the Bees with a Mix of Flowers]]>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:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/19/0389/

Lack of food throughout the year is a leading cause of the world's decreasing bee populations.

This is what they sound like when they are buzzing, or flying, around, looking for food.

During some seasons, there just is not enough nutrition in the natural environment to feed all of the bees.

Also decreasing are the diversity and numbers of flowering plant species. Reasons include use of pesticide products and development of what once were rural areas.

Bees, other insects and even some animals act as pollinators. They cause plants to make fruit or seeds. They do this by moving pollen, the yellow substance produced by plants, from one part of the flower of a plant to another.

However, pollen is the only protein that bees eat. They cannot survive without it. Bees also collect nectar from flowers when they bloom. They use it to build their energy while storing it in their stomachs. Later the nectar becomes honey.

How can you help the bees?

What do bees need?

"Plant flowering plants," says Rebecca Finneran, a horticulture educator with Michigan State University Extension.

She adds, "People often only think of annual flowers as pollinator plants, but trees, shrubs, perennials, vines and herbs can provide a tasty diet for all types of pollinators."

The overall pollinator collapse is worrisome because bees, wasps, flies and butterflies are an important part of growing more than a third of the food we eat.

A Machaon butterfly gathers pollen from a lavender flower, on July 7, 2019, in Chisseaux near Tours (central France).
A Machaon butterfly gathers pollen from a lavender flower, on July 7, 2019, in Chisseaux near Tours (central France).

How to help

Here are some ways you can help.

First, find out what time of year the food supply is low in your area, and decide which pollinators are affected. Next, see which plant species would help them.

You want biodiversity — a nice mix of different plants and animals. Different bees do different things, so it is a good idea to have wild bees as well as honeybees.

North America, for example, is home to over 4,000 species of wild bees. The color, shape and size of flowers each have different ways of appealing to pollinators, Finneran said.

It is important to have "a wide variety to ensure blooms will be available to pollinators throughout the season," she said. "There is no 'one size fits all,' so I like to tell people to be thinking about mixing things up."

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)

When it comes to dealing with natural surroundings, less may be more. Let wild, unwanted plants bloom, she says. Use only the smallest amount of chemicals that can weaken or kill bees.

Once pollinator-friendly plants have bloomed, take off the dead flower so they can bloom again. Finneran suggests waiting to cut plants like hostas until they have fully finished blooming.

Pollinators need open ground and untouched areas, where some leave eggs or others raise their young. Do not work over the ground where they are, or clean that area in the fall.

Early spring can be when pollinators have the least amount of food, especially bees, Finneran said. The cold and windy weather makes longer flights difficult for some, she said.

"Later in fall, we see a decline in resources, especially for bumblebees," Finneran said.

Beautiful flower garden designs may be satisfying, but pollinators do not care how your land looks, she added. Just offer them nutritious plants that bloom successively through the seasons.

I'm Anne Ball.

Dean Fosdick wrote this story for the Associated Press. Anne Ball adapted his report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor. Bee sounds courtesy of reinsamba​.

Do you have pollinators in your garden, if so, what kind? What do you think of this story? Write to us in the comments section below.

Words in This Story

nectar – n. a sweet liquid produced by plants and used by bees in making honey

diversity – n. the quality or state of having many different forms, types or ideas

horticulture – n. the science of growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers

perennial – adj. of a plant : living for several years or for many years : having a life cycle that is more than two years long

vine – n. a plant that has very long stems and that grows along the ground or up and around something (such as a wall or tree)

one size fits all – phrase. one style or product would fit different shapes and sizes, usually of people. Not limited to one size.

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/19/0389/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/19/0389/VOA Special EnglishWed, 18 Sep 2019 23:23:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Facial Recognition Now Used to Identify and Follow Animals]]>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/2019/09/19/4817/

Facial recognition technology is already widely used by governments, law enforcement and some advertising companies.

The technology uses machine learning tools to search for faces in an attempt to identify people. Now, these systems are also being used to identify animals.

In a recent study, scientists announced they had developed machine learning tools to track the faces of individual wild chimpanzees.

The study was led by researchers from Britain's University of Oxford. The results were published in Science Advances.

Dan Schofield is a researcher and doctoral student working in Oxford's Primate Models Lab. He said in a statement that the system was developed to improve the quality of information collected about chimpanzees in the wild over a long period of time.

"For species like chimpanzees, which have complex social lives and live for many years, getting snapshots of their behavior from short-term field research can only tell us so much," Schofield said.

The researchers wanted to get a more complete understanding of the lives of the chimpanzees by studying them over several generations. But doing this would have required searching through hundreds of hours of video recordings of chimpanzees in the wild.

The study by Oxford University researchers used facial recognition technology to collect data on chimpanzees in the wild. (Photo credit: Kyoto University, Primate Research Institute)
The study by Oxford University researchers used facial recognition technology to collect data on chimpanzees in the wild. (Photo credit: Kyoto University, Primate Research Institute)

The video recordings that the researchers studied captured the activities of a group of chimpanzees that lived in the West African nation of Guinea. The video collection began in 1988. It was created as an "outdoor laboratory" by researchers at Japan's Kyoto University.

A facial recognition computer model was trained using more than 10 million images of the animals. The model was then used to search, recognize and track individual chimpanzees. The researchers said that the machine learning tools were effective even when processing poor quality images in different lighting conditions.

The team said the system was able to identify individual chimpanzees correctly about 92 percent of the time. It successfully identified the animal's sex 96 percent of the time.

The study included an experiment with humans to see how they could perform against the machine learning system in making identifications. The human subjects were able to correctly identify individual chimpanzees about 42 percent of the time.

Irish-based company Cainthus is developing a system to collect video data on milk-producing cows. (Photo: Cainthus/Twitter)
Irish-based company Cainthus is developing a system to collect video data on milk-producing cows. (Photo: Cainthus/Twitter)

The study also noted that the machine learning tool was much faster at completing the experiment. Human experts took about 55 minutes, while the computer took only seconds.

The researchers say they are permitting other scientists to use the system for similar projects. They hope the method will be used with other species to record animal behavior and monitor different animal populations in the environment.

Facial recognition technology is also being used with other animals. The New York Times reported earlier this year that several Chinese companies were developing facial recognition systems to track pigs. Most of the systems aim to improve feeding methods and search for sick animals.

A company based in Ireland has developed a system to collect video data on milk-producing cows. The company, called Cainthus, says the technology collects information on eating, health and reproduction. The information is immediately available to farmers to help manage the animals' activities.

In this photo from Aug. 1, 2012, cattle belonging to Todd Eggerling of Martell, Neb., graze in thin pasture. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
In this photo from Aug. 1, 2012, cattle belonging to Todd Eggerling of Martell, Neb., graze in thin pasture. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

In the United States, researchers at the University of Kentucky are working to create a facial recognition system to help identify cows spread over large areas of land. The system would use drones, or small, unpiloted aircraft, to search for the cows. The researchers are asking local farmers to send in pictures of cows to be used in the project. They will be used to help build a machine learning tool that will be taught to recognize different breeds, age and the sex of cows.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from Oxford University, ScienceAdvances, the University of Kentucky and online sources. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.

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

Quiz - Facial Recognition Now Used to Identify and Follow Animals

Start the Quiz to find out

Start Quiz

Words in This Story

track –v. to follow and try to find, to hunt down

snapshot n. a small amount of information that tells you a little about something

monitor v. to watch something carefully

manage v. to handle something successfully

breed n. a type of animal

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/19/4817/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/19/4817/VOA Special EnglishWed, 18 Sep 2019 23:22:00 UTC
<![CDATA[First Lady's Personal Touches for the White House]]>Ashley Thompson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/2019/09/19/3067/

Attendees of the White House's second state dinner of the Trump presidency on Friday will see some new personal touches from the first lady, Melania Trump.

There are new wall coverings in the Red Room, new window treatments in the Green Room and restored furniture in the Blue Room. Those are just some of the home improvement projects the first lady has overseen to keep the public areas of the White House looking their best.

Stewart McLaurin is president of the White House Historical Association. He said sunlight had left the wall in the Red Room "so faded it was almost pink."

He added, "Those rooms should always look their very best and it was just very faded and really, really needed to be done."

This Sept. 17, 2019, photo shows repurposed window treatments in the Green Room of the White House.
This Sept. 17, 2019, photo shows repurposed window treatments in the Green Room of the White House.

First Ladies meet often with experienced White House workers to decide what improvements should be at the top of the to-do list.

As first lady, Melania Trump has centered on her interest in history as she oversees improvement projects. At a recent event, she said, "Our family is grateful to live in this true symbol of our nation's history, but we are even more honored to play a part in restoring and enhancing our country's sacred landmark."

McLaurin said the first lady designed a new floor covering for the Diplomatic Reception Room. The new rug includes the state flowers of all 50 American states.

Last year, the first lady returned an historic set of furniture known as the Bellangé suite to the Blue Room. President James Monroe brought it to the White House in 1817.

But in 1860, nearly all of the pieces were sold. The White House has brought back 10 of the original pieces. The rest were "lost to history," McLaurin said.

This Sept. 17, 2019, photo shows a restored chair in the Blue Room of the White House.
This Sept. 17, 2019, photo shows a restored chair in the Blue Room of the White House.

The White House serves several purposes. It is an office for the president and his staff, a home for his family and a museum for the public.

About 500,000 people visit the White House every year. Heads of states and important people attend receptions and other events held there. This Friday, the Trumps will hold a state dinner for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife.

"The White House does get a lot of wear and tear," McLaurin said. And making changes to the White House is more complex than doing so in other homes.

Ideas for improvement projects need to be shared with the Committee for the Preservation of the White House. It provides advice on how to keep the public rooms of the White House in good condition. The committee then asks for money from the historical association. The association spends about $1 million to $1.5 million on such projects each year.

I'm Ashley Thompson.

Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on Associated Press story. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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

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

Words in This Story

fade - v. to become less bright, to lose color

grateful - adj. feeling or showing thanks

symbol - n. an object that represents a particular idea

enhance - v. to increase or improve

sacred - adj. highly valued and important

original - adj. happening first or at the beginning

reception - n. a gathering to celebrate something or to welcome someone

wear and tear - phrase. damage that happens as a result of normal use or aging

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/19/3067/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/19/3067/VOA Special EnglishWed, 18 Sep 2019 23:22:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Common Ways to Preserve Food]]>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:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/18/9403/

When you preserve food, you are taking action to stop it from breaking down, as it does naturally. You are killing or preventing the growth of microorganisms.

Today, we will explore how you can preserve some of the fresh produce you buy or grow. By following a few easy steps, you can still eat those tasty fruits and vegetables when they are out of season.

You can preserve late-summer fruits and vegetables in four basic ways. These include freezing, canning, pickling and drying or dehydrating.

Freezing

Freezing is the simplest way to save produce. It is important to freeze the produce as quickly as possible, and to do so in freeze-grade bags or other containers.

Eugenia Bone has written books about food and nature. She notes that you should cool down food before you freeze it.

One problem to avoid is freezer burn, which can affect the taste and feel of food. To prevent this, use plastic bags, wraps or containers designed for the freezer.

Good late-summer produce to freeze includes green beans, cabbage, apples and plums.

Canning

There are two main ways to can produce: boiling hot water baths and pressure canning.

A boiling water bath involves putting food in glass canning jars and then heating the jars in a pot of boiling water. The heat forces air from the glass jars and frees the food from bacteria and microorganisms.

You can then seal the jars.

This method works best with naturally acidic foods like fruits.

Pressure canning food requires a pressure canner. The pressure canner you use should be based on the kind of cooking equipment you have and the amount of food you plan to can.

Whichever method you use, always test the seal that keeps out fresh air.

Good late-summer fruits for water bath canning include apples, berries, cherries, figs and peaches.

Good foods for pressure canning include carrots, corn, okra and bell peppers.

Pickling

There are many methods of preserving food in vinegar, salt brine or a similar mixture.

You can pickle whole vegetables, like green beans or okra. Another possibility is to make chutney or relishes. This is done by adding salt, pepper or other seasonings to small, cut pieces of vegetables.

Good late-summer foods to pickle include cucumbers, hot chili peppers, watermelon rinds and eggplants.

Drying

A final way to preserve food is by drying it. Whatever food you are drying should be just ready to eat and not have bruises.

When drying, try to find specific directions for each food to ensure quality and safety.

Drying methods include air drying, oven drying and using a dehydrator.

A dehydrator is probably the best choice. If you think you will be drying foods regularly, think about investing in an electric dehydrator.

Good late-summer produce to dehydrate includes apples, mushrooms, grapes and hot and sweet peppers.

When you get a chance, let us know how you like to preserve foods. What are the popular methods in your country? Write to us in the Comments Section of our website https://learningenglish.voanews.com/

I'm John Russell.

And I'm Anne Ball.

Katie Workman reported on this story for the Associated Press. John Russell adapted it story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

preserve – v. to prevent (food) from decaying

picklev. to preserve or protect food in a liquid solution

acidic adj. sharp-tasting; containing acid

chutney – n. a thick liquid that is made from fruits, vinegar, sugar, and spices

relish – n. a seasoned mixture that is used to add taste to other foods

oven – n. an enclosed space for cooking and heating food

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

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/18/9403/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/18/9403/VOA Special EnglishTue, 17 Sep 2019 23:13:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Finding Classroom Space in the Bahamas]]>Reuters reporter Zachary Fagenson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/2019/09/18/2308/

The powerful ocean storm that struck the Bahamas earlier this month killed more than 50 people and destroyed many homes, businesses and school buildings.

Now, Bahamian education officials are trying to find classroom space for students whose families have been displaced.

Hurricane Dorian was one of the most powerful storms in the country's recorded history. It made landfall on September 1 and remained on top of the northern Bahamas for almost 50 hours. It damaged or destroyed nearly every structure on the island of Great Abaco. The nearby Grand Bahama island was hit hard, too.

Bahamian officials say they hope fewer than 10,000 students would need to be placed into new schools. The plan is to move them to schools across the islands.

Officials recently set up what they describe as a "one-stop shop" for the displaced students. Last Thursday, those students gathered inside the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium in Nassau, the Bahamian capital.

The students – aged 4 to 19 – waited in line for clothing, school supplies, shots and vision and hearing tests. They also sought appointments to speak with volunteer mental health workers.

"These kids need their education, how are they going to get jobs or have any options?" said Chandra Alexis, an 18-year-old evacuee from Abaco, about 150 kilometers north of Nassau.

"We lost everything; without school there's nothing," she said. She was waiting in line to find out which schools her younger sister and another family member would attend this year.

The island of Abaco had 17 schools, most of them public. Grand Bahama had about 20 schools, said Belinda Wilson. She is president of Bahamas Union of Teachers. She said all of the union's members on the two islands were found safe.

A man and girl peer out from a bakery and cafeteria in Freeport, Bahamas, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Those who survived Hurricane Dorian are facing the prospect of starting their lives over but with little idea of how or where to even begin. (AP Photo/Ram
A man and girl peer out from a bakery and cafeteria in Freeport, Bahamas, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Those who survived Hurricane Dorian are facing the prospect of starting their lives over but with little idea of how or where to even begin. (AP Photo/Ram

Public schools on most islands opened on September 9, a week later than the planned opening. But on Abaco and Grand Bahama, schools remained closed. Engineers have had to check the safety of the school buildings.

Wilson and the teachers union say that no teacher or student "is going to enter any of those buildings until an engineer is able to say to that those schools are structurally sound.'

Lorraine Armbrister is permanent secretary of the Bahamas' Ministry of Education. She said the main goal right now is to get children back into school, "so that they're not further disadvantaged or further traumatized."

She said, "We want to normalize their lives as soon as possible."

The government is registering evacuees living in temporary shelters in the capital. Soon it will work with those staying in Nassau hotels or with family and friends to get their children into schools.

People wait at the Leonard M. Thompson International Airport during an evacuation operation after Hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco Islands in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, September 6, 2019. REUTERS/Marco Bello
People wait at the Leonard M. Thompson International Airport during an evacuation operation after Hurricane Dorian hit the Abaco Islands in Marsh Harbour, Bahamas, September 6, 2019. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Nassau is on New Providence island. Wilson said that island's schools may not have enough room for all of the displaced children who were evacuated to the capital.

"There are many other islands that could accommodate students," said Wilson, whose union represents about 4,000 teachers on 24 islands.

She added that the process of moving teachers, students and parents to different islands will "take all of our imagination."

The United Nations Children's Fund is working with the Bahamian Education Ministry. It said student sign-ups would begin on other islands in the coming days.

The process is set to continue through the middle of October but may go longer if needed, Armbrister said. With every student needing health exams, education officials are able to process only about 200 to 300 students a day.

I'm Anne Ball.

This story was written by Reuters reporter Zachary Fagenson in Nassau. Anne Ball adapted this story for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

What do you think of this story? Write to us in the comments section below.

Quiz - Finding Classroom Space in the Bahamas

Start the Quiz to find out

Start Quiz

Words in This Story

displaced – v. to force people or animals to leave the area where they live

disadvantaged – adj. lacking the things (such as money and education) that are considered necessary for an equal position in society

traumatized – v. to cause (someone) to become very upset in a way that often leads to serious emotional problems : to cause (someone) to suffer emotional trauma

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/18/2308/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/18/2308/VOA Special EnglishTue, 17 Sep 2019 23:03:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Gates Foundation: Sex, Environment Determine Child's Future]]>Susan Shand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/2019/09/18/1602/

While living conditions in many areas have improved in recent years, a child's place of birth is still the biggest predictor of its future.

Oh, yes – and no matter where you are born, life is more difficult if you are a girl.

These claims come from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a leading philanthropic organization for health and development.

The group reports that some 500 million people worldwide lack basic health care or education. It also found that girls everywhere suffer from discrimination.

The new report is the foundation's third on United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The report looks at efforts to reduce inequality and poverty and improve health around the world. It follows progress on 17 measures that most UN member countries have said they will try to reach by the year 2030.

Those efforts are falling short, says Bill Gates, the 63-year-old co-founder of Microsoft Corporation. He sat down with VOA at the foundation's offices in Seattle, Washington, before the report's release.

"As much progress as we're making, a child in many countries still over 10% are dying before the age of five. And in richer countries, it is less than 1%," said Gates. "So the idea that any place in the world is still 10%, some almost 15%...should galvanize us to do a better job."

The results "prove that the world's investments in development aren't reaching everyone," the report said. It noticed progress in the education of girls. But it also found that women's opportunities are limited by social customs, discriminatory laws, and violence.

"If you reduce the child death rate, families…choose to have less children. As you educate women, more families…choose to have less children," Gates said.

Smaller families can reduce poverty.

Gates Foundation chief executive Sue Desmond-Hellmann says the clearest warnings from the report were of the dangers of "gender and geography."

She said the report showed that more children die in Chad every day than in Finland every year. Also, Finland's average education is up to college level, while in Chad the average child does not finish primary school.

"It's just not okay that a child in Chad is 55 times more likely to die than a child in Finland," Desmond-Hellmann said. She added that a girl born in Africa has her gender and her geographic location affecting her future.

Generally, the report noted "unabated" development progress, with life, health and economic success improving on average across the world. But it also pointed out the large number of people who are being left behind.

I'm Susan Shand.

VOA's Linord Moudou and the Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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

Words in This Story

No matter – phrase. it is of no importance

philanthropic – adj. the practice of giving money and time to help make life better for other people

galvanize – v. to cause people to become so excited or concerned about an issue that they want to do something about it

opportunity – n. an amount of time or a situation in which something can be done

gender – n. the state of being male or female

geographyn. the study of the physical nature of the earth and its atmosphere

primary – adj. relating to the education of young children

unabatedadj. without reduction in strength or intensity

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/18/1602/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/18/1602/VOA Special EnglishTue, 17 Sep 2019 23:03:00 UTC
<![CDATA[UN: 600,000 Rohingya Live Under Threat of Genocide]]>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/2019/09/18/5340/

A special United Nations team is calling for an international investigation into the dangers faced by Rohingya people in Myanmar's Rakhine State. The U.N. says 600,000 Rohingya who remain in the country live under the threat of genocide.

The three-member Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar presented its report on Monday to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. It said the government-led human rights crisis in the country continues.

Marzuki Darusman leads the mission. He noted last year's report, which found evidence of crimes against humanity and war crimes by Myanmar's Tatmadaw army against ethnic communities. He said these same crimes continue.

"We found genocidal acts…in the Tatmadaw's 2017 'clearance operations' against the Rohingya population," Darusman said.

He also said Myanmar's security forces have enjoyed impunity for their crimes for many years.

Darusman said the Mission's report is based on information from almost 1,300 discussions with victims and eyewitnesses. He said the report also considered tens of thousands of documented human rights abuses of ethnic minorities.

Darusman said the evidence shows that the dangers that forced more than 740,000 Rohingya refugees to flee to Bangladesh continue today.

The situation for about 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Rakhine State is largely unchanged, he said. He noted that laws that discriminate against Rohingya remain in effect and enforced. These include a 1982 citizenship law that bars Rohingya from all basic rights.

The mission found "serious risk of genocide recurring," said Darusman.

Myanmar's Representative to the U.N. in Geneva, Kyaw Moe Tun, questioned the reasoning and fairness of the report. He said it creates a misleading picture of the humanitarian situation in the country. He argued that the report is based on unsupported claims and misinformation.

He said his government does not accept impunity and acts against criminal behavior when there is acceptable evidence of such.

He also rejected moves to bring the issue before an international legal body. And, he denounced the U.N team's call for restrictions against Myanmar. He said efforts to hurt Myanmar economically would punish millions of innocent people and interfere with their human rights.

I'm Caty Weaver.

VOA's Lisa Schlein reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Words in This Story

impunity - n. freedom from punishment, harm, or loss — usually used in the phrase 'with impunity'

recur - v. to happen or appear again : to occur again

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/18/5340/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/18/5340/VOA Special EnglishTue, 17 Sep 2019 23:03:00 UTC
<![CDATA[OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma Seeks Bankruptcy Protection]]>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/2019/09/17/4290/

Purdue Pharma, maker of the drug OxyContin, has sought bankruptcy protection in a American court.

Purdue's board of directors met Sunday night to approve the expected bankruptcy request. The company is hoping to restructure itself in an effort to settle all the legal claims against it.

Local and state governments, as well as private individuals, have brought legal action against Purdue Pharma. They claim it aggressively marketed dangerous painkillers that helped fuel the opioid crisis in the United States.

Government studies have shown that nearly 400,000 people died from opioid use between 1999 and 2017.

Purdue's lawyers reached a conditional deal to settle cases with 24 states, five U.S. territories and other plaintiffs. They include more than 2,000 cities and county governments.

Twenty-four states are either against the deal or unsure about the possible settlement. This may lead to an ugly legal battle over who is to blame for the opioid crisis.

Thousands of cities and nearly every state have taken legal action against Purdue and, in some cases, the Sackler family, which has a controlling interest in the company.

The cases claim the company and family lied to doctors and patients about the effects of the painkiller. Millions of people became dependent on opioids, and many suffered or died from misuse of the drug.

Purdue and the Sacklers have denied the charges.

Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York are three states that oppose the conditional deal. They want the Sacklers to guarantee more of their own money to pay for a settlement. They also have questioned Purdue's estimate that $10 billion is enough money to pay all the victims.

The Sacklers would give up control of Purdue if the settlement is completed, the company says. It also says the family has offered $3 billion in payments and an additional $1.5 billion or more through the sale of another company, called Mundipharma. The Sacklers have also said they will not change their offer in any way.

"There are only two ways to go from here," said Purdue Chairman Steve Miller.

He said Purdue plans to argue to opposing states that fighting the possible settlement will likely result in additional and more costly cases. Those will reduce the value of the company and, in the end, leave less money for the victims.

Miller spoke to the Reuters news agency.

In a statement, Sackler family members said they hoped those against the offer will change their minds.

A U.S. bankruptcy judge would have to consider a reorganization and settlement.

States and others are claiming the Sacklers earned billions of dollars from opioid sales while knowing they were dangerous and harmful. The Sacklers have denied the charges.

States opposed to the settlement offer have said they fight attempts by Purdue and the Sacklers to use bankruptcy to end all the legal actions against the company.

On Friday, New York Attorney General Letitia James said she discovered that the Sacklers had moved about $1 billion to other companies and to banks in Switzerland.

The information James found showed that Mortimer D.A. Sackler, a former board member, moved the money. Her office claims that he used false companies to move Purdue money around the world. She also said he hid money in at least two properties he bought in New York City.

A spokesman for Mortimer D. A. Sackler said all his actions were "perfectly legal." He also said that the money was moved more than 20 years ago. He said the accusations were an attempt to get publicity for the New York attorney general's office.

I'm Caty Weaver.

VOA News and the Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

bankruptcy– n. a condition of financial failure

plaintiff– n. someone who brings a case against someone else in a court of law

opioid – n. a drug that is opium based and used to reduce pain

board of directors– n. a group of individuals who oversee a company

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/17/4290/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/17/4290/VOA Special EnglishMon, 16 Sep 2019 22:23:00 UTC
<![CDATA[China's New Ship Helps Strengthen Claim in South China Sea]]>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:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/17/3933/

A new large supply transport ship will help China get supplies to the islands it controls in the disputed South China Sea.

China is one of six governments with territorial claims to the 3.5 million-square-kilometer waterway. Since 2010, the others have expressed concern about Chinese efforts to build up islets, or small islands, for military purposes.

Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines claim all or parts of the South China Sea. China claims about 90% of it.

The waterway is rich in natural resources.

Extra-large ship

The Sansha No. 2 transport ship can "cover the whole South China Sea," reports China's state-operated Xinhua News Agency. The ship passed tests in August. It has a displacement of over 8,000 metric tons and will help civilian and military work, Xinhua said.

The transport ship can go 6,000 kilometers without refueling and carry up to 400 people, the news agency noted. A ship that went into use 11 years ago could carry just 2,540 metric tons.

The Sansha No. 2 ship will help take equipment to the Paracel Islands – an area controlled by China, but also claimed by Vietnam. Some observers predict the ship may also take supplies to the more widely contested Spratly Islands.

Jay Batongbacal, a professor at the University of the Philippines, says China is showing other countries what it can do.

"They're expanding their capabilities in all areas," he said. "Deploying in the disputed areas is even more symbolic. It's also more important for them, because they're able to keep ahead" of the rest of the area.

This new large ship will probably take ammunition, food, fresh water and power equipment to the islets it now controls, said Andrew Yang of the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies in Taiwan.

The newest ship will "increase logistics support" for Chinese troops based on the islets, Yang said. Logistics are what must be done to plan and organize a complex activity that involves many people. "They have troops and operations stationed there, so they certainly need some kind of more capable logistical support systems," he said.

Spratly Island chain

The South China Sea stretches from Hong Kong south to the island of Borneo. The six governments with territorial claims prize it for fisheries, energy reserves and shipping lanes.

FILE - In this Feb. 25, 2014 photo taken by surveillance planes and released by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, a Chinese vessel, top center, is used to expand structures and land on the Johnson Reef.
FILE - In this Feb. 25, 2014 photo taken by surveillance planes and released by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, a Chinese vessel, top center, is used to expand structures and land on the Johnson Reef.

On three major islets in the Spratlys, China has built runways and buildings to hold military airplanes, notes the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

Other countries with South China Sea claims lack China's military power or technology. The People's Liberation Army, the world's third largest, flew bomber airplanes to the Spratly Islands last year. China plans to deploy floating nuclear power stations to the sea in 2020, says the U.S. Department of Defense.

The transport ship marks the "latest technology" for China, Batongbacal said.

The builder of Sansha No. 2 and the one before it, Sansha No. 1, plans to work on a third transport ship "to provide better service to personnel stationed on islands," Xinhua reported.

Taiwan sometimes sends a transport to the Spratly chain, Yang said. But he added that Taiwan has just one major island in that area.

Vietnam's navy operates transport ships but uses smaller fishing boats for South China Sea transport jobs, notes Collin Koh of the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. China could interfere with resupply operations handled by smaller vessels, he added.

The United States began increasing the number of ship passages through the sea in 2017 under President Donald Trump. The U.S. government does not claim the waterway but believes it should be open for international use.

I'm Anne Ball.

Ralph Jennings wrote this story for VOA. Anne Ball adapted his story, for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

What do you think of this story? Write to us in the comments section below.

Words in This Story

displacement – n. a technical word that means the amount of water that is moved by an object when it is placed in water

contest – v. to test or oppose in a competition

capability – n. the ability to do something

symbolic – adj. expressing or representing an idea or quality without using words

reserven. a supply of some material or product

lane – n. a passagway

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/17/3933/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/17/3933/VOA Special EnglishMon, 16 Sep 2019 22:23:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Warming Planet Risks Causing 'Cooling Poverty']]>Alice Bryant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/2019/09/17/7125/

Climate change has brought more frequent and extreme heat waves around the world.

This has led to strong demand for air conditioners and other cooling equipment. The demand for air conditioners is rising, with 10 new machines sold every second on average.

But a University of Oxford researcher warns that poor people may have to suffer through the rising heat.

By the year 2050, energy use for cooling is expected to be 300 percent higher than it is today. But in hot countries like India, China, Brazil and Indonesia, it is expected to grow by 500 percent, the World Bank has said.

Radhika Khosla leads an Oxford Martin School program on future cooling. She notes that, "By the end of the century, global energy demand for cooling will be more than it is for heating."

But not everyone will have the money to buy an air conditioner.

Khosla said that, traditionally, "energy poverty has been defined as people not having heating." Now that is changing and "we could have cooling poverty," she warned.

She spoke to the Thompson Reuters Foundation at a conference on lowering planet-warming gases.

Health risks of heat waves

Rising heat is having a serious effect on health, with the number of deaths and people being admitted to hospitals going up during heat waves.

But rising heat could also affect productivity, as workers suffer in dangerously hot conditions, climate scientists say.

The United Nations provides financial support to an organization called Sustainable Energy for All, or SEforALL. A report from SEforALL says more than 1.1 billion people worldwide face immediate risks from lack of access to cooling.

On a warming planet, cooling is a necessity for everyday life, said the group's leader, Rachel Kyte.

In buildings around Ho Chi Minh City, architects are testing green designs, like positioning buildings to let in the most natural light possible.
In buildings around Ho Chi Minh City, architects are testing green designs, like positioning buildings to let in the most natural light possible.

Better buildings

But because air conditioners use 20 times as much power as a traditional fan, their growing popularity could increase demand for electricity from fossils fuels, like oil and gas. And this would worsen climate change.

Instead of depending fully on air conditioning, buildings should be designed so they are easier to keep cool, which is still rare, Khosla noted.

Her modern home, for example, has windows that open just the width of a hand, making it hard to keep cool on hot days, she said.

She has herself lived in many hot cities from New Delhi to Chicago. And she predicted that in the future, housing that cannot stay cool or have air conditioning could see a drop in value, even in cooler areas.

New technology

In some developing nations with rising wages, buying an air conditioner is also a sign of success.

So, making less power-hungry, low cost air conditioners will be important, Khosla believes.

Most machines for sale now – the majority built in China – are half as energy-efficient as they could be, she said. But researchers are working on more efficient cooling technologies that could reach the market in as little as two years.

Judges are now looking at entries for a $3 million international cooling prize. The U.S.-based Rocky Mountain Institute launched the competition. The goal is to develop a less costly window air conditioning system that is at least five times more efficient than current models.

Amory Lovins is a co-founder of the institute. He said designing less costly, more efficient air conditioning is "extremely important."

Getting manufacturers to speed up production will also be central to the goal, Khosla said. And this can be done partly by making policies that require greater energy efficiency.

FILE - A home inspector checks air-conditioning coils at a home in the Kendall suburb of Miami.
FILE - A home inspector checks air-conditioning coils at a home in the Kendall suburb of Miami.

Better cooling

Khosla said energy-efficient cooling systems are one tool we have left to avoid worsening climate change. And using less energy for cooling would help prevent power blackouts in cities on very hot days.

Cities also deal with the issue of the cooling systems releasing heat as they use energy, which can raise temperatures even more, Khosla said.

All these risks mean smarter cooling must happen quickly, before the world gets even hotter and more families buy air conditioners, she added.

I'm Alice Bryant.

Laurie Goering reported this story for the Thompson Reuters Foundation. Alice Bryant adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

frequentadj. happening often

heat waven. a period of unusually hot weather.

accessn. a way of being able to use or get something

fann. a machine or device that is used to move the air and make people or things cooler

energy-efficientadj. capable of reducing the amount of electrical energy needed to provide products and services

blackout n. a period when lights are off because of an electrical power failure

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/17/7125/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/17/7125/VOA Special EnglishMon, 16 Sep 2019 22:22:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Oil Prices Jump as Attacks Cut Saudi Arabia's Oil Production]]>Mario Ritter Jr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/2019/09/17/9127/

Oil prices jumped sharply on Monday following an attack over the weekend on two Saudi Arabian oil-processing centers. The attacks endangered world oil supplies.

Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for the attacks, which appear to have used drones against the Saudi Aramco oil centers. The Houthi rebels have links to Iran.

The Houthis said they used 10 drones to cause huge fires at the Abqaiq and Khurais oil centers in eastern Saudi Arabia.

The incident cut Saudi oil production by more than 50 percent. That is estimated to be about five percent of total world oil production. Saudi officials say the country will not return to normal production for weeks.

By midday on Monday, oil prices had increased by more than 10 percent on world markets, to more than $60 a barrel.

Iran considered likely cause of the attacks

Many details of the attacks remain unclear.

Iraqi news media reported that the attacks were launched from southern Iraq, where Iranian-supported militias have influence. The Iraqi government, however, denies that its territory was used to launch the attacks.

This image provided on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, by the U.S. government and DigitalGlobe and annotated by the source, shows damage to the infrastructure at Saudi Aramco's Abaqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia.
This image provided on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, by the U.S. government and DigitalGlobe and annotated by the source, shows damage to the infrastructure at Saudi Aramco's Abaqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq, Saudi Arabia.

U.S. officials released satellite pictures of the damage to the Saudi oil centers. The officials say the pattern of destruction suggested that the attacks came from either Iraq or Iran – and not Yemen.

A Saudi military spokesman said an early investigation suggested that, in his words, "Iranian weapons" were used in the attacks.

U.S. President Donald Trump signaled that he was willing to launch a strike to answer the attacks. He wrote on Twitter that American forces were "locked and loaded." In other words, they were ready to react quickly.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted, "There was reason to believe we know the culprit." But he also said the United States was discussing the situation with Saudi Arabia.

Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet that "Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply."

Iran has denied involvement in the drone attacks. It called the accusations "maximum lies."

Iranian general Amir Ali Hajizadeh commands the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' aerospace force. He warned that Iranian missiles could strike any U.S. base or ships within 2000 kilometers of Iran.

Iran has seized foreign oil ships in the waters off its western coast in the past four months. It also has shot down a U.S. spy drone.

Saudi officials say they are holding talks with other oil-producing countries about increasing oil production. And, Trump announced on Monday that he would permit the use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve if needed. That is a large supply of stored oil that the U.S. holds in the event of an emergency.

I'm Mario Ritter Jr.

Mario Ritter Jr. adapted this story for VOA Learning English from VOA, AP and Reuters stories. 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

drone –n. a pilotless aircraft that is controlled remotely

pattern –n. something that happens in a repeated way

initial –adj. taking place at the beginning of something

culprit –n. a person who commits a crime or does something wrong

unprecedented –adj. not done or experienced before

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/17/9127/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/17/9127/VOA Special EnglishMon, 16 Sep 2019 22:18:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Cancer Is the Leading Cause of Death in Wealthy Countries]]>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/2019/09/17/7685/

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

Cancer is now the leading cause of death in wealthy countries. Researchers say cancer has replaced heart disease as the top killer in the industrial world.

If the trend continues, they predict cancer could become the leading cause of death worldwide later in this century.

However, the news is not that cancer deaths are increasing but that deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) are decreasing.

Cardiovascular disease, or CVD, is a group of medical conditions that include heart failure, heart attack and stroke. It remains the leading cause of death among middle-aged adults worldwide.

But when you only look at deaths in industrial economies – that is not the case. In those countries, the new report shows that cancer now kills two times as many people as cardiovascular disease.

Lancet graphic: Cancer deaths around the world in high-, middle- and low-income countries
Lancet graphic: Cancer deaths around the world in high-, middle- and low-income countries

The findings were published in The Lancet and presented at the recent European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris.

The research comes from a large, ongoing study called the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology or PURE. It is a project of the Population Health Research Institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences in Canada.

The PURE researchers have been collecting information about people from over 20 high-, middle- and low-income countries. The data includes a person's medical history and individual behavior, such as physical activity and diet.

Salim Yusuf is a researcher on the PURE study and a professor of Medicine at McMaster University. He also serves as head of the Population Health Research Institute.

Yusuf explained the study's findings in a statement to the press.

"The fact that cancer deaths are now twice as frequent as CVD deaths in high-income countries," Yusuf said, 'shows a change in the main cause of death in middle-aged people.' He added that 'as CVD declines in many countries because of prevention and treatment, cancer mortality will likely become the leading cause of death globally in the future."

Most recent paper on the PURE study

Data from the PURE study has been used in several reports over the years. For this most recent report, the researchers followed more than 162,500 adults for 9 ½ years. All of these men and women were between 35 and 70 years old. The subjects came from 21 countries.

Gilles Dagenais helped to prepare the report. He is a professor at Laval University in Quebec, Canada.

Speaking on a Canadian radio show, Dagenais explained that the world is experiencing a "transition" in disease trends. The main reason, he added, is the fact that cardiovascular disease rates have gone down in high-income countries.

Dagenais noted that there is no increase in cancer rates. If anything, he said, there is a decrease. However, over the past 20 years, there has been a sharp decrease in cardiovascular disease. He said the two main reasons are developments in medicine and technology, and changes in personal behavior.

Men smoke cigarettes in a pub on a last day before a smoking ban comes into effect in Prague, Czech Republic, May 30, 2017.
Men smoke cigarettes in a pub on a last day before a smoking ban comes into effect in Prague, Czech Republic, May 30, 2017.

One lifestyle change, he said, is that fewer people in high-income countries are smoking cigarettes. But he warned that more people in these areas are becoming overweight. He says researchers do not know how rising obesity rates will affect deaths from cardiovascular disease in the future.

Both Dagenais and Yusuf add that higher heart-disease death rates in low-income countries could be mainly the result of lower quality healthcare.

In recent years, several factors have greatly lowered the rate of heart disease in high-income countries. They include better treatment for heart disease and better medicines for blood pressure.

And that's the Health & Lifestyle report, I'm Anna Matteo.

Anna Matteo adapted this story based on several news stories and press statements. George Grow was the editor.

Quiz - Cancer Is the Leading Cause of Death in Wealthy Countries

Start the Quiz to find out

Start Quiz

Words in This Story

trend n. a general direction of change : a way of behaving, proceeding, etc., that is developing and becoming more common

prospective adj. likely to be or become something specified in the future

urban adj. of, relating to, or being a city

rural adj. relating to the country, country people or life, or agriculture

epidemiology n. a branch of medical science that deals with the incidence, distribution, and control of disease in a population

income n. a gain usually in money that comes in from labor, business, or property

data n. acts or information used usually to calculate, analyze, or plan something

mortality n. the number of deaths that occur in a particular time or place

transition n. a change from one state or condition to another

factor n. something that helps produce or influence a result : one of the things that cause something to happen

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/17/7685/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/17/7685/VOA Special EnglishMon, 16 Sep 2019 22:17:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Ghana's Cocoa Growers Lose Land, Livelihoods]]>Ashley Thompson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/2019/09/16/0319/

The government in Ghana has announced plans to increase the incomes of cocoa farmers. But, cocoa farms are being destroyed, with or without the permission of the farmers.

Many cocoa farmers cannot do anything about the situation because they rent the land. The land owners are ending their leases early to develop other crops.

This month, a bulldozer cleared the land Ama Serwah rented in Asikesu for growing cocoa and other crops. Serwah is the bread-winner of her family. Now, she is trying to think of how to support her children and grandchildren.

Asikesu is an area in Ghana famous for growing cocoa. The country supplies about 20 percent of the world's total cocoa crop.

Many hectares of cocoa trees like Serwah's have been destroyed in Asikesu. Farmers like Serwah have toiled for years growing their crops, on land they do not own or have control over. They believe the land was cleared to raise cattle.

Serwah said the money she received for the loss of her crops was not enough. And, with land and her crops gone, she said she does not know how she can feed her family.

David Servor is another former cocoa farmer. He returned to look at the recently destroyed land which he once farmed. Servor used the profits from his cocoa farming to help pay for his children's school fees.

Now, with no land to farm cocoa, Servor cannot pay his rent. He has been told to leave his home.

'About two weeks now I have not had sleep,' he said. 'Thinking, thinking, thinking, because all what I have done in my lifetime has gone forever. And it's like I'm alive but I'm dead."

In Ghana, a government body makes rules for the cocoa industry. This government body sets the price that growers earn from their beans.

Earlier this year, Ghana added a 'living income differential' fee of $400 on every ton of cocoa beans sold on the market. The country did this with the aim of improving the livelihoods of farmers.

Men pour out cocoa beans to dry in Niable, at the border between Ivory Coast and Ghana, June 19, 2014. Picture taken June 19, 2014. To match Insight GHANA-IVORYCOAST/COCOA REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon (IVORY COAST - Tags: BUSINESS AGRICULTURE FOOD)
Men pour out cocoa beans to dry in Niable, at the border between Ivory Coast and Ghana, June 19, 2014. Picture taken June 19, 2014. To match Insight GHANA-IVORYCOAST/COCOA REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon (IVORY COAST - Tags: BUSINESS AGRICULTURE FOOD)

The Concerned Farmers Association does not believe that will help. The president of the Association is Nana Oboadie Opambour Boateng Bonsu. He said Ghana's cocoa farmers need to protect the crop on which they depend.

Bonsu said, 'This is a serious challenge and it's something that we have been fighting for for so long, but it seems the government has put wax in its ears because government is not all that serious about this cocoa issue.'

The Ghana Cocao Board sets rules for the cocoa industry in the country. It says the major issue is farmers losing their lands. The agency said farmers rent land from chiefs who later take it back when they see other opportunities.

While the cocoa agency works with chiefs to fight against the practice, it does not have the right to tell landowners what to do with their property. However, officials say the group offers legal representation to farmers to deal with payment for lost property.

I'm Ashley Thompson.

The Associated Press reported this story. Ibrahim Onafeko adapted it for VOA Learning English with additional materials from the World Resources Institute. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.

Words in This Story

rent –v. to regularly pay for the use of property

lease –n. an official agreement to pay the owner a set amount for the use of property

bulldozer –n. a kind of earth moving equipment

toil –v. to work

challenge –n. a difficult task

opportunity –n. a chance to do or gain something

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/2019/09/16/0319/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/16/0319/VOA Special EnglishSun, 15 Sep 2019 22:25:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Some US Cities Move to Limit Natural Gas Use]]>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:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/16/8082/

Cities in the American states of California, Washington and Massachusetts are considering bans or limits on the use of natural gas in homes and buildings.

The bans, if approved, could affect heating systems in large buildings and even cooking stoves in homes.

In July, Berkeley, California, became the first U.S. city to pass a law banning gas systems in new buildings.

Reuters news agency spoke with local officials, activists and industry groups about the issue. They told Reuters other cities may soon do the same. Los Angeles and Seattle are among the cities considering laws that could cut natural gas use.

Local officials and environmentalists point to evidence that gas leaking from pipes and other places hurts the climate more than carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide gas is released when carbon-based fuels are burned. Carbon dioxide is considered a heat-trapping gas that causes the Earth's atmosphere to warm.

A "bridge fuel" to cleaner energy

Until recently, many environmentalists considered natural gas to be a "bridge fuel" to a future of renewable energy.

U.S. utilities currently get about 35 percent of their electricity from natural gas. However, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) notes that utilities have increased their use of renewable fuels in the past 10 years, from 9 to 17 percent of all power.

The Environmental Protection Agency says buildings and homes produce about 12 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases are heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

If natural gas bans in buildings become widespread, they could hurt the business plans of some of the world's biggest energy companies.

Companies like Exxon Mobil, Shell and BP are investing billions of dollars to produce and ship more natural gas. Big gas producers argue that gas improves the environment by replacing fuels, such as coal, that pollute more.

Natural gas companies oppose bans. They have started an advertising campaign and supported research that says gas is a better cooking fuel and a low-cost energy option.

"We are trying to get ahead of it," said Stuart Saulters, the Director of Government Affairs of the American Public Gas Association. He added that he thought there was a chance that the push for bans could grow larger.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) represents the U.S. oil and gas industry. The API rejects claims that natural gas is bad for the environment.

API spokesman Reid Porter said that the industry is limiting methane emissions with improved technology. He pointed to data from the Environmental Protection Agency showing a decrease in recent years.

Seattle City Council Member Mike O'Brien is working on a law that could ban gas hookups in new buildings. The fuel, he said, "is odorless and invisible but has a huge impact on the climate."

In July, a group called Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions held a press conference. The group was formed by Sempra Energy which owns a gas company. The group invited Southern California restaurant owners who use gas stoves.

Charles Lu, who took part in the event, owns a Chinese restaurant chain. "We need instant, really strong fire," he said. "Otherwise, I think it will kill the business."

Wealthier homeowners may also resist electrification of kitchens and fireplaces, said Nic Dunfee of the environmental advising business TRC Companies.

He told a recent meeting of California energy officials that home builders are pushing back against proposed laws requiring electric stoves.

"They don't feel that they are able to sell a home that doesn't have natural-gas cooking," he said.

I'm John Russell.

And I'm Anne Ball.

Valerie Volcovici and Nichola Groom reported on this story for Reuters. John Russell adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.

Words in This Story

utility – n. a company that provides electricity, water, etc.

stove –n. an appliance used for cooking food

option – n. something that can be chosen : a choice or possibility

hookup – n. an arrangement or part by which pieces of equipment can be connected

odorless -- adj. not having a particular smell

electrification – n. the act of supplying (an area, building, etc.) with electric power

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

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/16/8082/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/16/8082/VOA Special EnglishSun, 15 Sep 2019 22:25:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Non-alcoholic ‘Mocktails' Growing in Popularity]]>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/2019/09/16/1282/

Five years ago, Lorelei Bandrovschi's friend urged her to stop drinking alcohol for a month. So to celebrate her 27th birthday, Bandrovschi agreed.

She never drank alcohol very much to begin with, so she thought it would be easy. It was, but she had not expected to learn so much about herself in the process.

"I realized that going out without drinking was something that I really enjoyed," Bandrovschi told The Associated Press.

That is how Listen Bar was born in downtown Manhattan, New York. At just under a year old, the bar that Bandrovschi opened is alcohol-free. It is one of a growing number of alcohol-free bars opening up around the United States.

Listen Bar is open once a month and it serves alcohol-free "mocktails," a play on alcoholic drinks called cocktails. Interest in such drinks is growing among young people more than ever before, especially women.

Amanda Topper is with the international market research company Mintel. She says fewer people overall are drinking alcohol in public places. Additionally, she says, the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse is leading women to find safer, more enjoyable bar environments.

Mocktails are not just appearing at alcohol-free bars. Traditional bars and restaurants are accepting the idea too.

Cat Tjan, 27, and Ammar Farooqi, 26, drink mocktails.
Cat Tjan, 27, and Ammar Farooqi, 26, drink mocktails.

Traditional cocktails are mixed drinks of alcohol and other ingredients. Mintel reports that alcohol-free mixed drinks grew 35 percent as a drink choice at bars and restaurants from 2016 to this year. Topper said 17 percent of 1,288 people between the ages of 22 and 24 who drink away from home said they are interested in mocktails.

She says the interest is also led in part by two other things. They are the health and wellness movement, and the availability of higher quality ingredients as bar workers take mocktails more seriously.

"It really started a few years ago with the whole idea of dry January, when consumers cut out alcohol for that month," Topper said. It has since changed into a long-term movement and lifestyle choice, she noted.

Fred Beebe works at the restaurant Sunday in Brooklyn. Sunday is not alcohol-free, but Beebe helped create several mocktails menu using non-traditional ingredients.

Palo santo is one example. It is a tree native to Peru, Venezuela and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula that is widely used in traditional medicines.

"Alcohol, for me, is not the most important part of a cocktail anymore," Beebe said. "The cool juices and … and mixtures and all that … makes a lot of the fun."

At the alcohol-free bar Getaway in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, mocktails go for $13 each. There is the Paper Train, with lemon juice, tobacco syrup, vanilla and San Pellegrino soda. Another mocktail there is called A Trip to Ikea. It is a mix of lingonberry, lemon, vanilla, cardamom and cream.

This image released by Saleina Marie Photography shows Marnie Rae Clark drinking a mocktail.
This image released by Saleina Marie Photography shows Marnie Rae Clark drinking a mocktail.

Getaway co-owner Regina Dellea says she and her business partner opened the bar after his brother, who was suffering from alcohol dependence, quit drinking.

"They missed having a space to hang out in at night, where you can meet up and just talk," she said.

Traditional suppliers are joining the movement. Beer companies are experimenting with alcohol-free selections. The United Kingdom based company Seedlip advertises itself as the world's first non-alcoholic spirits.

Chris Marshall of Austin, Texas, who stopped drinking alcohol in 2007, was once a drug and alcohol abuse specialist. He says the people he helped often shared their displeasure about not having an alcohol-free place where they could be social. So he opened one himself: Sans Bar in Austin. Now, there are Sans Bar sites all over the country, including Washington, D.C., Seattle and Nashville, Tennessee.

"We're taking out community spaces, coffee shops and places like that," said Marshall.

Marnie Rae Clark, who lives outside Seattle, was also an alcohol abuser. She has experienced the struggle of socializing without alcohol and started a website about the alcohol-free lifestyle in 2017. The 51-year-old established National Mocktail Week this year, and urges bars and restaurants to offer more mocktails.

"It's really about promoting inclusion and connection in the hospitality industry," she said.

I'm ­Dorothy Gundy.

And I'm Pete Musto.

Leanne Italie reported this story for the Associated Press. Pete Musto adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

We want to hear from you. What kinds of non-traditional food and drink movements are growing in popularity in your country? Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

realize(d) – v. to understand or become aware of something

barn. a building or room where alcoholic drinks and sometimes food are served

ingredient(s) – n. one of the things that are used to make a food or product

consumer(s) – n. a person who buys goods and services

juice(s) – n. the liquid part that can be squeezed out of vegetables and fruits

beern. an alcoholic drink made from malt and flavored with hops

spiritsn. strong alcoholic drinks

socialadj. relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other

promotingv. helping something happen, develop, or increase

hospitalityn. the activity of providing food and drinks for people who are the guests or customers of an organization

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/16/1282/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/16/1282/VOA Special EnglishSun, 15 Sep 2019 22:24:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Vegetarians Gaining Followers in Meat-Loving Argentina]]>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:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/16/8033/

Argentina is one of the world's leaders in beef consumption. Many people there love to eat meat.

But the country's meat-eating tradition is being threatened by a growing number of vegetarians and vegans, especially among young people.

A recent online questionnaire found that six out of every ten Argentines are willing to stop eating beef.

Adrián Bifaretti is head of marketing at the Institute for the Promotion of Beef. He wrote a report about the online survey.

Bifaretti noted that the findings show a growing cultural divide. The younger generations "have grown up amid the debate over abortion in Congress; inclusion, gender equality ... These collective questions have started to gain weight in decisions about the purchase of foods," he said.

The Chamber of Commerce for Beef and its Derivatives reported in July that Argentines are consuming on average 50 kilograms of beef a year. That number represents what it calls the lowest level of meat consumed in the country's history.

"This concern about cruelty and slaughter is here and is going to be felt," Bifaretti said. He added that movements from other parts of the world are arriving in Argentina. "It is starting to be a challenge," he said.

The cultural divide was clear several weeks ago when animal activists gathered near an event at the Buenos Aires Rural Society. They were met by cattle ranchers who charged at them on horses.

Much of the anti-beef activism comes from vegans.

Veganism developed as a movement in London during World War II. It is based on a diet free of animal products. Vegans also reject animal labor or use of animals in scientific experiments.

There are no official numbers in Argentina. But Adrian Bifaretti's group estimates vegans and vegetarians represent 7% to 8% of the population.

A dish at 'La Reverde' vegan restaurant in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019. A steak made with wheat gluten and ingredients including beet puree and spices help create a similar tone to beef. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko
A dish at 'La Reverde' vegan restaurant in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Aug. 30, 2019. A steak made with wheat gluten and ingredients including beet puree and spices help create a similar tone to beef. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko

"I don't love eating animals," said Melissa Aruj, a 25-year-old. "Without a doubt, I estimate that in 10 to 15 years a large part (of the population) will be vegetarian."

"I don't know if they will be vegan," she added. The change will be "little by little."

A group of young people from the animal liberation group Voicot held a protest on a recent Saturday. They gathered at the entrance to a meat-processing center in Buenos Aires.

"It makes me very sad. Words are not enough for me to apologize to the animals because they have miserable lives. They are born with a date to die," said one protester, Jazmín Romero.

She wore clothing with the words: "We are the species threatening to destroy everything."

On the other side of the divide, many Argentines see eating beef as part of their history and culture.

"We aren't talking about killing the animal for sport. The animal is being transformed into food," said Bifaretti. "It has been like this throughout the history of humanity."

I'm John Russell.

Debora Rey reported on this story for the Associated Press. John Russell adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in the Story

consumption – n. the using up of something; the eating or drinking of something

vegan – n. a person who does not eat or use animal products

abortion – n. a medical operation used to end a pregnancy and cause the death of the fetus

slaughter - n. the act of killing animals for their meat

doubt – n. a lack of sureness; indecision

miserable – adj. unhappy or sad; heartbroken

transform -- v. to change (something) completely and usually in a good way

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

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/16/8033/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/16/8033/VOA Special EnglishSun, 15 Sep 2019 22:24:00 UTC
<![CDATA[New Details on Asteroid Strike That Killed Off the Dinosaurs]]>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/2019/09/16/1721/

Researchers say they have discovered new details about the day an asteroid hit Earth and killed off the dinosaurs.

Scientists believe the asteroid struck the Earth about 65 million years ago near what is today Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.

The force of the massive asteroid crash is estimated to have been equal to the strength of about 10 billion nuclear bombs. The U.S. Space Agency NASA has estimated the strike created a huge crater about 180 kilometers wide and 900 meters deep.

The event is believed to have caused widespread wildfires, earthquakes and ocean waves, or tsunamis. It also released chemicals into the atmosphere, leading to severe cooling that harmed many living things.

A portion of the drilled cores from the rocks that filled the crater. Scientists found melted and broken rocks such as sandstone, limestone and granite. This finding suggests that the impact vaporized these rocks forming sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere
A portion of the drilled cores from the rocks that filled the crater. Scientists found melted and broken rocks such as sandstone, limestone and granite. This finding suggests that the impact vaporized these rocks forming sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere

Scientists blame this climate-changing event for causing the extinction of more than 70 percent of plant and animal life. In addition, all dinosaurs, that were not bird-like, died out.

The crater remained hidden until the late 1970s, when it was first discovered beneath the ocean by a team searching for petroleum. The theory about an asteroid causing the extinction of the dinosaurs was first presented by two American scientists in 1980.

Studies based on materials collected over the years from off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula led most scientists to agree that an asteroid struck in that place. In 2016, a team went to the area to drill down into the ground beneath the crater to bring up rock samples.

One of the leaders of that team was Sean Gulick, a research professor at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics. He also led a new study that researchers say provides more evidence and details about the destruction caused by the asteroid.

The study involved the examination of more than 130 meters of rock believed to have built up in the seconds and hours after the asteroid strike. The findings were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"It's an expanded record of events that we were able to recover from within ground zero," Gulick said in a statement. "It tells us about impact processes from an eyewitness location." He added that the rock record "offers the most detailed look yet" into the period immediately after the asteroid impact.

The researchers noted that the buildup of material was one of the largest in Earth's history. The materials and formations in the rocks provide evidence of what was happening in the environment right after the event.

Lead author of the study Sean Gulick, a research professor at The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences (right), with co-author Joanna Morgan, a professor at Imperial College London, on the International Ocean Discovery Program
Lead author of the study Sean Gulick, a research professor at The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences (right), with co-author Joanna Morgan, a professor at Imperial College London, on the International Ocean Discovery Program

By examining the rocks, the team found evidence that most of the material that filled the crater after the strike was produced where the impact happened. This included materials that were vaporized from the blast. Some of the material was carried in by seawater pouring back into the crater from the surrounding Gulf of Mexico.

The researchers also found evidence of burned material, sulfur and dust. They believe these substances were vaporized and entered into the atmosphere. They said that these substances blocked the sun's heat and caused the Earth to cool.

The team also found material they believe came from the fungal breakdown of wood within or just above layers of sand. This also showed signs of trees and plant life being drawn into the crater by resurging waters, likely caused by a huge wave, or tsunami.

An artist's interpretation is shown of the asteroid impact that scientists believe caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. (Credit: NASA/Don Davis)
An artist's interpretation is shown of the asteroid impact that scientists believe caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. (Credit: NASA/Don Davis)

Sean Gulick said the evidence suggests that a large heat blast, followed by a period of intense cooling killed off the dinosaurs. "We fried them and then we froze them," he said.

Gulick noted that the study provides clear evidence that the dinosaurs did not die from the asteroid impact. Instead, the research suggests they did not survive the resulting climate conditions.

"The real killer has got to be atmospheric," Gulick said. "The only way you get a global mass extinction like this is an atmospheric effect."

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the University of Texas at Austin, PNAS and NASA. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.

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

Quiz - New Details on Asteroid Strike That Killed Off the Dinosaurs

Start the Quiz to find out

Start Quiz

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

Words in This Story

asteroid n. a rocky object that goes around the sun like a planet

crater n. a big hole

extinction n. when a type of animal no longer exists

drill v. make holes in hard materials with a machine

impact n. the force or action of one object hitting another

location –n. a specific place

vaporize v. to turn from a solid or liquid into a gas

fungal adj. caused by a fungus

resurging adj. the rising again into activity

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/16/1721/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/16/1721/VOA Special EnglishSun, 15 Sep 2019 22:23:00 UTC
<![CDATA[China Steps Up Efforts to Influence Taiwan with Soft Power]]>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/2019/09/15/8472/

Experts say China is trying different ways to influence Taiwan, the self-ruled island it hopes to bring under its flag.

At the same time, China has increased military pressure on Taiwan.

Scholars in Taipei say the Communist government in mainland China announced a list of incentives aimed at getting the attention of the Taiwanese people. They include ways to get Taiwanese to invest, work and study in mainland China.

The scholars warn that incomes in Taiwan are too low for people to afford housing in some cities. They say some of Taiwan's young people may turn to China in search of higher pay and a more international economy.

China's official Xinhua News Agency reported recently that five cities in Fujian province announced a so-called "talent exchange." The program aims to increase opportunities for Taiwanese youth to come to Fujian to start businesses.

Fujian is the Chinese mainland province nearest Taiwan.

Huang Kwei-bo is vice dean of the international affairs college at National Chengchi University in Taipei. He said more Taiwanese will be attracted to going to the mainland because of, in his words, "the very large size of mainland China's economy and because its economy is actually still growing, plus its internationalization is better than Taiwan's."

Chao Chien-min is dean of social sciences at Chinese Cultural University in Taipei. He said government agencies may offer other incentives, too.

Last year, the Chinese government announced 31 incentives to get people to work, study and invest. The proposals included reduced taxes and special land-use rights.

Chao expects younger Taiwanese to go for these incentives if economic problems at home continue. He said, "Finding work, especially for Ph.D. students, it's gotten extremely difficult."

China's economy most recently grew by 6.6 percent compared to Taiwan's 2.8 percent.

Huang said investments by international companies in China have fueled its growth. He said Taiwanese employees can get more "exposure" to them in China than at home.

However, there are a lot of risks. China and the United States are currently involved in a trade dispute. Copyrights and trademark property rights protections remain an important issue. The differences between the countries could affect China's manufacturing and legal system, and its future economic growth.

China considers self-ruled Taiwan a rebel province and has threatened to use force to take it back. The sides were separated at the end of China's civil war in 1949. The Chinese Communist Party took over the mainland and the Nationalist government ruled Taiwan.

In January of this year, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council carried out a study that found more than 80 percent of Taiwanese oppose rejoining China. The council considers China's incentives as a "soft" method to bring the sides together without force.

Soft power and hard power

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen strongly opposes rejoining China. To pressure Taiwan's government, China has flown airplanes and sailed ships close to the island. It has also held back tourist visits to the island, which is popular with mainlanders. These methods are what experts describe as "hard power."

Joanna Lei is chief of the Chunghua 21st Century Think Tank in Taiwan, a research group. Lei said China's official incentives will run out, and it is unclear if more will be offered.

Chao said China still has more "soft power" possibilities available. But it is unclear if the mainland will choose to use them. He added that universities in China continue to rise in the international rankings and are adding students. In that way, Chao said, China has "already raised its soft power by a lot."

"Taiwan needs to speed up a bit," said Liang Kuo-yuan, president of the Taipei research organization Polaris Research Institute.

Liang added, "National Taiwan University used to be well ahead of Peking University, and National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu (Taiwan) was also well ahead of the Tsinghua University in Beijing"

Today, Peking University ranks number 68 and Tsinghua University in Beijing number 50 on the U.S. News & World Report rankings. National Taiwan University ranks 174th.

I'm Mario Ritter, Junior.

Ralph Jennings reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Words in This Story

incentive –n. something meant to get people to behave in a certain way

talent –n. a group of people with a special ability

Ph.D. –n. the highest degree given at a college or university

scholar –n. a person who has studied a subject for a long time and is very knowledgeable in it

dean –n. a person who is in charge of a part of a university

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/2019/09/15/8472/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/15/8472/VOA Special EnglishSun, 15 Sep 2019 06:11:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Scientists Study Whether Virtual Reality Can Prevent Memory Loss]]>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:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/15/7908/

For three days a week, Wayne Garcia has been taking part in a nontraditional exercise.

He starts by putting on virtual reality (VR) equipment on his head. He then gets on a specially designed exercise bicycle and starts pushing its pedals. Faster and faster he goes.

Garcia is taking part in a study at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine. Researchers want to see if just a small amount of VR can help prevent memory loss as people age.

Garcia says he remembers how his parents and grandparents all suffered from dementia.

"It's very scary that one day that could be me."

Garcia recalls his father once reading a newspaper upside down and almost setting the house on fire by putting a towel on a heater.

"Just the sadness — you remember what your dad was like, what your mom was like when they were all good, and then the decline now. And now you're taking care of them rather than when they used to take care of you."

Garcia is taking part in the study to see if using virtual reality at the same time as physical exercise can help prevent dementia in the future.

Judy Pa is part of the team of researchers leading the study. She says the actual definition of "dementia is when a person is no longer able to take care of themselves, things like paying the bills, driving, cooking for themselves, dressing themselves."

She added that the break down and death of cells in the nervous system take 10 to 20 years.

Pa said that unlike usual games, VR provides a first-person, three-dimensional experience that is important to memory training.

"Our goal is to prevent dementia (and) to prevent Alzheimer's disease. There are no effective treatments yet. We hope that we will get there eventually, but my perspective and the research that we do in my laboratory at USC is really surrounding prevention."

The VR study exercises the subjects' body and brain at the same time, testing the memory and decision-making part of their brain.

Subjects have to pedal on the exercise bike and keep their heart rate up. In the VR experience, they are trying to learn and remember directions while collecting food items, and then feeding the food to some animals.

"Understanding changes in the brain that happen with exercise, changes in the brain that happen when you're in an enriched environment and putting those two together, and that's what our intervention is currently targeting."

Even if virtual reality can help, it may not be for everyone. In one study, four out of 40 people withdrew from the research because they reported motion sickness. Pa will be doing more tests over the next year with participants who are 50 to 80 years old to gather additional information.

Garcia is hopeful for what VR might mean for the future.

"There might be a place where you could go, and you can get your daily dose of virtual reality and cardio to keep the mind going."

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Elizabeth Lee reported this story for VOA News. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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

Words in this Story

bills – n. documents that says how much money you owe for something you have bought or used

cardio – n. any type of exercise that causes the heart to beat faster and harder for a period of time

dementia – n. a mental illness that causes someone to be unable to think clearly or to understand what is real and what is not real

decline –n. to become worse in condition or quality

dress – v. to put clothes on yourself

perspective – n. a way of thinking about and understanding something such as a particular issue or life in general

towel – n. a piece of cloth used for drying things

virtual reality – n. an artificial world of images and sounds created by a computer that is affected by the actions of a person who is experiencing it

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/15/7908/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/15/7908/VOA Special EnglishSun, 15 Sep 2019 05:52:00 UTC
<![CDATA[UN Chief Launches Effort to Protect Religious Places, Worshippers]]>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:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/15/5313/

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has launched an effort to protect religious sites around the world.

His announcement Thursday follows a rise in attacks on traditional religious centers and other places of worship.

'Religious sites should be places of worship, not places of war,' Guterres told reporters.

The effort aims to provide strong ideas on ways to help countries ensure that houses of worship -- and those who attend religious services -- are safe. Another aim is to make sure that the values of kindness and patience are supported worldwide.

In June, the UN leader launched another project to understand the causes of hate speech. Guterres has often warned that hate speech is fueling intolerance around the world. He has been critical of politicians who use language targeting minorities, refugees, migrants and, as he put it, 'anyone considered the so-called 'other.'" He has yet to identify any of those politicians by name.

'When (politicians) add fuel to the wildfire, we are all threatened,' Guterres said.

Earlier this year, more than 50 people were killed when a gunman attacked worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Following the attacks, Guterres went to the country to express his sympathy. Since then, he and his high representative for the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations have been reaching out to governments, religious leaders and others to put together a plan to keep religious sites safe.

'When people are attacked because of their religion or beliefs, all of society is diminished,' Guterres said.

'My…message to all countries in the world is that religious freedom needs to be respected in all circumstances…all religious sites must be protected,' he said.

Human rights groups have often criticized Guterres for not making a strong public statement on the abuses.

I'm Anne Ball.

VOA's Margaret Basheer reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words In This Story

site – n. a place where something is located

intoleranceadj. not accepting those who are different

migrant – n. a person who moves from place to place, usually for economic reasons

mosque – n. an Islamic religious center

diminish – v. to lessen

circumstance – n. an event or condition that exists

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/15/5313/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/15/5313/VOA Special EnglishSun, 15 Sep 2019 05:42:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Transgender College Students More Likely to Struggle with Mental Health]]>Alice Bryant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/2019/09/15/8521/

As growing numbers of young people report struggling with mental health issues, colleges and universities across the United States are working to meet their students' needs.

But a new study suggests that one group of students is facing these issues more than any other: transgender students. And some experts worry that many schools may not be doing enough to meet their needs.

Transgender people are people who no longer identify with their sex from birth. They feel they are really members of the opposite sex. Many often change their name, appearance and even undergo medical treatments to help match, or keep up with, the way they feel.

In 2016, about 1.4 million Americans identified themselves as transgender. That number comes from the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles' School of Law.

Earlier research has shown a growing number of U.S. college students have reported depression, anxiety or other mental health issues in recent years. This latest study attempts to examine the specific problems transgender students face. The findings were published last month in The American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

In this August 23, 2007, file photo, a sign marks the entrance to a gender-neutral restroom at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont.
In this August 23, 2007, file photo, a sign marks the entrance to a gender-neutral restroom at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont.

Researchers looked at information from an internet-based survey called the Healthy Minds Study. It involved 65,000 adults who studied at 71 U.S. colleges and universities between 2015 and 2017. All of them were questioned about their mental health.

Out of that group, about 1,200 students reported having an alternate gender identity, meaning they do not identify with their birth sex. The researchers found that almost 80 percent of those students reported dealing with at least one mental health issue. For comparison purposes, 45 percent of cisgender students -- those who identified as their birth sex -- reported having a mental health issue.

Sarah Ketchen Lipson is an assistant professor at the Boston University School of Public Health. She was one of the lead researchers for the Healthy Minds Study. She also helped to prepare the report on transgender students.

Lipson argues one troubling thing about the findings is not just that transgender students were more likely to face mental health issues than other students. Transgender students also were more likely to face every single kind of mental issue raised in the study, especially thoughts of suicide and attempting suicide.

There are many reasons for this, she says. Some causes of mental health problems can affect transgender students long before they ever go to college. For example, there are higher rates of family abandonment and homelessness, notes Lipson.

In this photo taken Thursday, May 5, 2016 Joaquin Carcaño is shown at his home in Carrboro, N.C. Carcaño, a 27-year-old transgender man, works for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In this photo taken Thursday, May 5, 2016 Joaquin Carcaño is shown at his home in Carrboro, N.C. Carcaño, a 27-year-old transgender man, works for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Once they do enter college, transgender students still face difficulties that may not be as clear to cisgender people, she says. Many U.S. colleges and universities are at least somewhat supportive of gay and lesbian students. But there still barriers to transgender students feeling fully accepted.

This includes the fact that many schools force students to use their birth name or gender pronoun and make changing this information on school records difficult. Restrooms are meant only to be used by people of a specific sex. And while schools may have policies to prevent discrimination against gay or lesbian students, their policies often fail to identify transgender individuals. Lipson suggests that all of these seemingly minor issues can intensify existing mental health problems, if not create new ones.

The report's findings do not surprise Shane Windemeyer. He is the executive director of Campus Pride, one of the largest organizations supporting lesbian, gay and transgender college students in the United States.

Windemeyer notes while most colleges and universities employ trained specialists to support different minority groups, that is not the case for trans students.

"Trans folks are not even visible on many college campuses," he says. "They are not seen as a population to serve, still on many campuses."

Windemeyer adds that dealing with all of these mental health issues makes higher education seem much harder for these young people. Mental health problems make success in their studies that much harder, he says. What is worse, most schools do not even give students the choice to report their chosen sexual identity on official documents. So administrators have no way of knowing how well or how poorly they are serving transgender students, he says.

Windemeyer argues that to know how to better help such students, school officials must be open to understanding their needs. This comes through a willingness to make changes, when needed. But he and Lipson agree that it also comes from being better informed.

Schools must employ physical and mental health experts who understand the issues transgender students face. But they also must teach cisgender students, professors and employees to be accepting of and communicate with trans students in ways that make them feel welcome.

"Allyship requires education," said Lipson. "It requires knowledge. It's not enough to be well-intentioned.

I'm Alice Bryant.

And I'm Pete Musto.

Pete Musto reported this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

How are transgender people treated in your country? Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Transgender College Students More Likely to Struggle with Mental Health

Start the Quiz to find out

Start Quiz

Words in This Story

anxietyn. fear or nervousness about what might happen

specificadj. special or particular

surveyn. an activity in which many people are asked a question or a series of questions in order to gather information about what most people do or think about something

abandonmentn. the act of leaving and never returning to someone who needs protection or help

gayadj. used to describe a man who is sexually attracted to other men

lesbianadj. used to describe a woman who is sexually attracted to other women

pronounn. a word, such as I, he, she, you, it, we, or they, that is used instead of a noun or noun phrase

visiblen. able to be seen

campus(es) – n. the area and buildings around a university, college, or school

well-intentionedadj. having or showing a desire to do something good but often producing bad results

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/15/8521/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/15/8521/VOA Special EnglishSun, 15 Sep 2019 05:39:00 UTC
<![CDATA[WORDS AND THEIR STORIES - 'Rocking the Boat' Upsets Everything]]>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/2019/09/15/4244/

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

On this show we explore common expressions in American English.

Today we take our show on the water on a boat – or at least a make-believe one!

You have probably seen a boat before. Watching one move through the water can be really fun. On the water, boats move with a grace similar to that of a plane in the air.

If you are lucky, you may have even sailed in a boat. That experience -- to feel the wind and water droplets hitting your face, to be out in the open air -- is so much better than simply watching it from a distance.

Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John F. Kennedy and wife Jacqueline in cockpit of their sailboat, Victura at Hyannis Port, Mass., Aug. 7, 1960.
Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John F. Kennedy and wife Jacqueline in cockpit of their sailboat, Victura at Hyannis Port, Mass., Aug. 7, 1960.

However, not everyone enjoys being in a boat. In fact, many people get sick from the rocking motion of a boat.

When boats are on calm water, the water moves it back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. This can cause many people to get seasick.

And that brings us to today's expression: rock the boat. This means to cause problems for other members of a group. When you rock the boat, you do or say something that causes change.

Now, we usually "rock the boat" in a negative way. Used this way, it means to cause trouble usually by changing something.

But you can also rock the boat in a positive way. Here's how. Another meaning of "rock the boat" is to question the status quo, or the usual way of doing things. So, if a situation is no longer healthy or good – then making changes is a good thing!

For example, one job of the media is to sometimes rock the government's boat. You know, shake things up a little.

The expression 'rock the boat' has been used since the early 1900s. And it should come as no surprise that it comes from boating.

Imagine that you and a friend are at sea in a small boat. Suddenly you get up and start moving your weight from side to side. Naturally, the boat starts rocking .

Your rocking of the boat does not just affect you. It also affects your friend. She starts to feel seasick. But you don't seem to care. You just keep on rocking the boat. And you rock it so hard, that it overturns. You and your friend end up in the water.

So, you were both fine in the boat before you started rocking it. Now with both of you in the water, the situation is worse.

It is worth noting that another expression means about the same thing and has a similar history: to make waves. The rocking of a boat is caused by waves in the water.

In life when you make waves, you change the usual way of doing things. Again, this can be good or bad.

So, that is where these expressions come from. Now, let's hear how to use them.

Two co-workers, Marissa and Thomas, are heading into a meeting at the chocolate company.

A: That's a big binder. What's in it?

B: This binder has all my suggestions.

A: Suggestions … on what?

B: Suggestions on how to improve our overall chocolate products, customer service, production, delivery systems ... all without increasing our costs!

A: Wow! Those are a lot of suggestions. You know, now may not be the best time. The economy is tanking. And everyone here is really happy.

B: What are you saying?

A: Well, maybe now is not a good time to rock the boat. Things aren't great. But they are pretty good.

B: That's what I mean. Why be okay when you can be great? Now is a perfect time to rock the boat! Let's challenge the status quo!

A: Look, Thomas. You've only been here a week. Why don't you observe and learn a little more before you make waves?

B: You know, that's good idea. I can always present my suggestions next week.

A: (sighs) Yes, I'm sure you will.

And that is all the time we have for this Words and Their Stories.

Until next time …I'm Anna Matteo!

How do you say 'rock the boat' in your language? Let us know in the Comments Section.

Ibrahim Onafeko wrote this story with additions by Anna Matteo. George Grow was the editor. The song at the end is The Hues Corporation singing, 'Rock the Boat.'

Words in This Story

grace – n. a way of moving that is smooth and attractive and that is not stiff or awkward

motion – n. an act or process of moving

seasick – n. feeling sick because of the movement of a boat or ship that you are traveling on

negative – adj. harmful or bad : not wanted

positive – adj. good or useful

status quo – n. the existing state of affairs

customer – n. someone who buys goods or services from a business

delivery – n. the act of taking something to a person or place

to tank – v. to suffer rapid decline, failure, or collapse

challenge – n. a difficult task or problem : something that is hard to do

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/15/4244/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/15/4244/VOA Special EnglishSun, 15 Sep 2019 05:39:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Taliban Want US Deal, but Some in Bigger Hurry Than Others]]>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:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/14/2691/

Afghanistan's Taliban leadership agreed it wanted a deal with the United States. But some of the leaders were in more of a hurry than others.

Even before U.S. President Donald Trump canceled talks with the Taliban last weekend, its negotiators argued with their Council of Leaders, or shura, about whether or not to attend the meeting.

Taliban officials who know about the talks say the Council of Leaders was against sending a negotiating team to Camp David, a country home of U.S presidents. Some Taliban leaders criticized the negotiators who wanted to go.

The militant Islamic group has been holding talks with U.S. representatives for over a year in Doha, the capital of Qatar. The Taliban has a political office in Doha. The group calls itself The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Suhail Shaheen is a spokesman for the Doha office. He told the Taliban Al-Emarah website this week that U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad had invited Taliban negotiators to Camp David in late August.

The Taliban agreed. Then it delayed. Taliban members demanded the deal be announced first by Qatar. They wanted a signing ceremony witnessed by the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Russia, China and other countries. The delay reportedly followed the shura's rejection and criticism of the negotiators.

Taliban representatives spoke on the condition that they not be identified because they did not have permission to discuss the situation with reporters.

Several months earlier, the shura opposed an offer to give the U.S. military 14 months to withdraw 14,000 troops from Afghanistan. The offer was the idea of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the chief negotiator and co-founder of the Taliban. The shura told Baradar it did not agree with the suggested withdrawal date. They also told him he could not make decisions without their approval.

Taliban officials who had knowledge of both the negotiating team and the shura said that the Taliban leadership debated every part of the agreement. They also said the negotiating team either got the shura to agree or accept its decisions.

"The Taliban mobilized at the highest levels to support negotiations with the U.S.," said Michael Kugelman. He is deputy director of the Asia Program at The Wilson Center, in Washington, D.C. "Senior Taliban officials…helped lead (the talks.)"

"There may be divisions within the Taliban, but they presented a relatively common front in the negotiating process. That's more than one can say for the Afghan government, or even the Trump administration," Kugelman added.

Baradar, the lead negotiator, has been campaigning for a peace deal in Afghanistan even before the U.S. government was willing to open talks. As far back as 2010, he had secretly opened peace talks with Afghanistan's then-president, Hamid Karzai. When Pakistan learned of this, Baradar was arrested in a raid carried out with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. He spent eight years in a Pakistani jail. This was his punishment for trying to open peace talks that did not include Pakistan.

Karzai had told The Associated Press he asked both Pakistan and the United States to release Baradar, but was told no. The first secret contacts between the Taliban and the U.S. government started in 2013.

Today the Taliban are in their strongest position in Afghanistan since they were removed from power in 2001. They now have control over more than half the country. Nearly every day, Taliban forces carry out a deadly attack.

Khalilzad's year-long peace effort has been the U.S. government's strongest push for peace. The discussions include the Taliban, the Afghan government, leading Afghans and the governments of neighboring countries.

Some of the countries have been accused of trying to interfere with Afghanistan. These include Pakistan, Iran and Russia.

The talks should start again soon or the progress that Khalilzad made will be lost, warned Andrew Wilder. He is the Asia Programs' vice president at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Wilder fears that Afghanistan's neighbors could begin to again interfere or cause problems. If the U.S. withdraws, he said, "Pakistan may decide that it's more important than ever to support a proxy like the Taliban to protect Pakistan's…interests in Afghanistan."

For now, the Taliban has been unapologetic about the daily attacks that have killed many civilians — and which have been blamed for the talks' collapse.

Trump claimed earlier this week that the Taliban had later expressed regret.

Shaheen, the Taliban spokesman in Qatar, did not express regret. He argued that the U.S. military has also continued its operations in Afghanistan during the peace talks. "There was no cease-fire and the agreement was not signed," he added.

However, it appears the two sides are still talking, even if it is just to ask the other what it all means.

"We have contacted them (U.S. officials) and they too have (contacted) us," Shaheen said, adding that he asked for more information about Trump's decision. "We are hopeful of a response and are waiting for their response."

The Trump administration still wants U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. While Trump said the peace talks were "dead," he also said that the troops have become policemen in Afghanistan and that is not their job.

"The Taliban are in a good place right now," said Kugelman. They want a U.S. troop withdrawal, he said, adding that "unlike the U.S. they're in no rush to get one."

I'm Anne Ball. And I'm Bryan Lynn.

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

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

Words in this Story

mobilize – v. to move or to get ready

proxy – n. a substitute for a peson or thing

rush – n. to go quickly, to hurry

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/14/2691/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/14/2691/VOA Special EnglishSat, 14 Sep 2019 00:31:00 UTC
<![CDATA[New Film 'The Sound of Silence' Quietly Explores Noisy Life]]>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/2019/09/14/3894/

With the right marketing, you can get people to buy almost anything. This is especially true in Manhattan, where many wealthy New Yorkers live.

In the new film The Sound of Silence, lead characters Peter and Ellen meet because she has paid him to "tune" her apartment.

No, Ellen does not live inside a musical instrument. Peter, played by actor Peter Sarsgaard, is a 'home tuner.' His especially strong sense of hearing enables him to hear small things that most others cannot. They can include an ice maker, toaster or other simple machinery.

Rashida Jones plays Ellen. She is tense and sleepless. Some friends suggest she turn to Peter for help. The skill he brings to his work had been reported about in The New Yorker, a respected magazine.

Peter travels around New York City with his tuning devices and his headset. He tests wind movements in parks and makes house calls.

At Ellen's place, he lies on her bed to try to recreate her usual mornings. Then, he explains the problem: her toaster. He advises her to get a new one.

The Sound of Silence is based on a short film from the same writer and director, Michael Tyburski.

Peter makes the lives of his customers better. He helps them sleep better or improves their love relationships. He is more centered on helping others than seeking riches. But, he longs for recognition in the academic world. He wants his scientific findings to gain wide acceptance.

So, when a sharp businessman offers him the chance to join forces and make some real money, he is not interested. He does not want to sink that low.

At the same time, Ellen is showing more interest in Peter, finding his intensity appealing. For a while, we do too, especially when he explains that Bach and Beethoven, no less, used neurological methods to affect their listeners.

But even Ellen questions Peter's expertise. She finds it hard to accept his claims that her home is producing the musical note of C Minor. He also tells her that unseen forces are governing her choices.

However, he stops trusting in his expertise as his effort to help her fails. And Ellen chooses to keep believing that she has some control over her life.

The Sound of Silence is humor and seriousness combined. There is a painful scene in which Peter meets an academic he greatly respects. She is a leading specialist in the field of sound. When he asks her if she has seen the work he sent her, her answer is unkind, but honest.

Critics have been mixed on the success of The Sound of Silence. The Los Angeles Times calls the movie, "fascinating, original and, yes, deeply resonant."

The Hollywood trade magazine Variety, however, says the film feels "undernourished" in its new, long-version form. It calls The Sound of Silence "a deeply silly movie that takes itself incredibly seriously…"

The movie has been presented at several film festivals since the start of the year. It opened to the general public in limited release on Friday.

I'm Caty Weaver

Caty Weaver adapted this report for VOA Learning English based on stories by the Associated Press and other sources. 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

character - n. a person who appears in a story, book, play, movie, or television show​

tune - v. to adjust (usually a musical instrument) so that it makes the correct sound when played​

academic - adj. of or relating to schools and education​

neurological - adj. of or relating to the scientific study of the nervous system and the diseases that affect it​

scene - n. a part of a play, movie, story, etc., in which a particular action or activity occurs​

fascinating - adj. very interesting or appealing​

original - adj. not like others : new, different, and appealing​

undernourished - adj. not getting enough food or not getting enough healthy food for good health and growth

resonant - adj. strongly affecting someone especially with a particular quality​

festival - n. an organized series of performances

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/14/3894/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/14/3894/VOA Special EnglishSat, 14 Sep 2019 00:30:00 UTC
<![CDATA[British Town Joins a Growing ‘Nature's Rights’ Campaign]]>Ashley Thompson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/2019/09/14/4239/

An English town is asking British officials to approve "legal personhood" for the river that runs through it.

Frome is a market town in the county of Somerset. It has asked Britain's government to effectively give the River Frome human rights.

In doing so, Frome has joined a worldwide "rights of nature" movement. In each case, communities are reimagining ways to use the law to defend the Earth's living tissues -- and the places they call home.

Peter MacFadyen is the mayor of Frome. He and his supporters see their efforts as part of a struggle to reset the balance between nature and the modern world.

"This is much bigger than just wanting to punish people for doing something wrong," Macfadyen said. "It's about trying to change a mindset about the environment in which we live."

The town has been waiting for months for an answer from the government.

Supporters of the nature's rights see Frome as the first test case for the movement in Europe. But some in Frome are not so sure.

Lawyer Neil Howlett lives by the river. Howlett says he supports many of the community-building steps taken by Macfadyen and other independent local politicians. But he sees the council's push for a "river's rights" bylaw as a distraction.

"Having a law which is completely outside the cultural basis of the society in which you pass the law doesn't make for law that works," Howlett said. "It's lovely as an idea. But it's only lovely as an idea."

'Programmed for self-destruction'

Some indigenous peoples have long believed that rivers, mountains and lakes are in some sense living beings. In 1972, American Christopher Stone expressed the idea in modern-day legal terms.

Stone wrote a book called Should Trees Have Standing?. In it, he argued that the best way to protect things in nature would be to give them the kinds of legal protections usually only offered to human beings.

That idea is spreading. Campaigners won what is called the first "rights of nature" courtroom victory in Ecuador in 2011. In that case, judges stopped a road-widening project from leaving stones in the Vilcabamba River.

Around the same time, Bolivia developed a vision of nature's rights in a law known as "The Law of the Rights of Mother Earth."

In 2017, New Zealand's parliament became the first legislature to confirm a river's legal personhood. That same year, a high court in India ruled that the Ganga and Yamuna rivers had legal rights.

Colombia's constitutional court made a similar move for the Atrato River basin, where communities face illegal gold mining and paramilitary violence.

This summer, Bangladesh recognized the rights of all its rivers.

Supporters see such rulings as an important part in moving away from the goal of economic growth while ignoring ecological harm.

"The current system is programmed for self-destruction, and the legal system is the enabler," said lawyer Mumta Ito. She founded Nature's Rights, a Scotland-based advocacy group that has been advising Frome's town council.

Ito added, "The only way we'll be able to change things is by creating a new operating system with nature's rights at its core."

The world's waterways face growing pressure from the extremes of heat, rainfall and dry weather, all driven by climate change. Macfadyen argues any effort that helps people to look at nature differently is important.

"We're in the situation we're in because we've misunderstood our position in the ecosystem," he said. "We can't do what we like. If we pour poison over everything, it comes back to bite us."

I'm Ashley Thompson.

The Reuters news agency reported this story. Ashley Thompson adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

mayor - n. an official who is elected to be the head of the government of a city or town

basis - n. something (such as an idea or set of ideas) from which another thing develops or can develop

indigenous - adj. produced, living, or existing naturally in a particular region or environment

distraction - n. something that makes it difficult to think or pay attention

ecological - adj. related to a science that deals with the relationships between groups of living things and their environments

advocacy - n. the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal : the act or process of advocating something

ecosystem - n. everything that exists in a particular environment

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/14/4239/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/14/4239/VOA Special EnglishSat, 14 Sep 2019 00:29:00 UTC
<![CDATA[AMERICAN STORIES - The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Part Two]]>Edgar Allen Poe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/2019/09/14/7542/

We present the second of five parts of the short story 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue,' by Edgar Allen Poe. The story was originally adapted and recorded by VOA Learning English.

It was in Paris in the summer of 1840 that I met August Dupin.

Dupin was a strangely interesting young man with a busy, forceful mind. He seemed to look right through a person and uncover their deepest thoughts. Sometimes Dupin seemed to be not one, but two people — one who coldly put things together, and another who just as coldly took them apart. One morning, in the heat of the summer, Dupin showed me once again his special mental power.

We read in the newspaper about a terrible killing. An old woman and her daughter, living alone in an old house in the Rue Morgue, had been killed in the middle of the night.

The story in the paper went:

Paris, July 7, 1840 -- Early this morning, cries of terror were heard in the western part of the city. They reportedly came from a house on the Rue Morgue, in which the only occupants were a Mrs. L'Espanaye, and her daughter Camille.

Several neighbors and a policeman ran to the house. By the time they reached it, the cries had stopped. They forced the door open.

As they entered, they heard two voices, apparently from above. The group searched but found nothing until the fourth floor. There, they came to a door, locked from the inside. Quickly they forced it open. Before them was a bloody horror scene!

The room was in total disorder — broken chairs and tables and the mattress pulled from the bed. Blood was everywhere; on the walls, the floor, the bed. A sharp knife lay on the floor in a pool of blood. In front of the fireplace was a clump of long gray hair, also bloodied; it seemed to have been pulled straight out of a head. On the floor were four pieces of gold, an earring, several silver objects, and two bags containing a large amount of money in gold. Clothes had been thrown around the room. A lock box was found left open with just a few old letters and papers inside.

There was no one there. But, when the group inspected the fireplace, they discovered another horror. A still-warm body had been forced up the chimney. It was the old woman's daughter.

There was blood on the face, and dark, deep finger marks on the neck, suggesting a strangling.

After searching the house thoroughly, the group went outside. They found the body of the old woman behind the building. Her neck had been cut so severely that when they tried to lift the body, the head fell off.

The next day the newspaper offered to its readers these new facts:

Paris, July 8, 1840-- The police have questioned many people about the vicious murders in the old house on the Rue Morgue. But none of the answers revealed the identity of the killers.

Pauline Dubourg, a washwoman, said she has known both of the victims for more than three years, and washed their clothes. She said the two seemed to love each other dearly. They always paid her well. She did not know where their money came from, she said. She never met anyone in the house. Only the two women lived on the fourth floor.

Pierre Moreau, a shopkeeper, said Mrs. L'Espanaye had bought food at his shop for almost four years. She owned the house and had lived in it for more than six years. He never saw anyone enter the door except the old lady and her daughter, and a doctor eight or ten times, perhaps.

Many other persons, neighbors, said the same thing. Almost no one ever went into the house. Mrs. L'Espanaye and her daughter were not often seen.

Banker Jules Mignaud said that Mrs. L'Espanaye had put money in his bank, beginning eight years before. Three days before the killings, she withdrew a large amount in gold. A man from the bank carried it to her house for her.

Isidore Muset, a policeman, said that he was with the group that first entered the house. While he was going up the stairs, he heard two voices, one low and soft, and one hard, high, and very strange — the voice of someone who was surely not French, the voice of a foreigner, maybe Spanish.

It was not a woman's voice, he said, although he could not understand what it said. But the other voice, said softly, in French, "My God!"

Alfonso Garcia, who is Spanish and lives on the Rue Morgue, says he entered the house but did not go up the stairs. A nervous man, he was afraid he might be sick. He heard the voices. He believes the high voice was not that of a Frenchman. Perhaps it was English; but he said he doesn't understand English, so he is not sure.

William Bird, an Englishman who has lived in Paris for two years, also entered the house. He said the low voice was that of a Frenchman, he was sure, because he heard it say, in French, "My God!"

The high voice was very loud, he said. He is sure it was not the voice of an Englishman, nor the voice of a Frenchman. It seemed to be that of an Italian, a language he does not understand. He said it might have been a woman's voice.

Mr. Alberto Montani, an Italian, was passing the house at the time of the cries. He said the screams lasted for about two minutes. Montani, who speaks Spanish but not French, says that he also heard two voices. He thought both voices were French. But he could not understand any of the words spoken.

All who went in the house agreed that the door to the room on the fourth floor was locked from the inside. It was quiet. They saw no one. The windows were closed and locked from the inside. There is only one stairway to the fourth floor.

They said that the chimney opening is too small for escape that way. It took four or five people to pull the daughter's body out of the chimney. It was four or five minutes from the time they heard the voices to the moment they entered the room.

Paul Dumas, a doctor, says that he was called to inspect the bodies soon after they were found. They were in a horrible condition, badly marked and broken. He said only a man could have caused such injury. The daughter had been strangled, he said.

When we had finished reading the newspaper's report of the murders, we were quiet for a while. Dupin had that cold, empty look that I know means his mind is working busily. He asked me what I thought of the crime. I said I considered it a mystery with no answer.

But Dupin responded, "No, no. No. I think you are wrong. A mystery, yes. But there must be an answer. Let us go to the house and see what we can see. There must be an answer. There must!"

Download activities to help you understand this story here.

Now it's your turn to use the words in this story. Have you ever heard of a terrible crime happening in your city or town? Were the police able to solve it? Let us know in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

QUIZ

Quiz: The Murders in the Rue Morgue, Part Two

Start the Quiz to find out

Start Quiz

Words in This Story

lock(ed) – v. to fasten something with a lock

scenen. the place or event of an action

mattressn. a cloth case that is filled with material and used as a bed

clumpn. a small ball or mass of something

earring - n. a piece of jewelry that is worn on the ear and especially on the earlobe

lock box – n. a box that locks, usually for storing money or valuables

fireplace n. a specially built place in a room where a fire can be built

chimney n. a part of a building through which smoke rises into the outside air

stranglinggerund. the killing of a person or animal by squeezing the throat

viciousadj. very violent and cruel

reveal(ed) – v. to make something known

shopkeepern. someone who owns or manages a shop or store

stairsn. a series of steps that go from one level or floor to another

nervousadj. having or showing feelings of being worried and afraid about what might happen

stairwayn. a set of stairs that go from one level or floor to another

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/14/7542/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/14/7542/VOA Special EnglishSat, 14 Sep 2019 00:28:00 UTC
<![CDATA[ASK A TEACHER - English at the Movies, or English at the Films?]]>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:
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/14/7852/

This week we answer a question from Quyunh.

Question:

Our reader Quyunh writes, "May I know what is difference between a film and a movie ? You have a program named 'English at a movie' why not 'English at a film' ?"

Answer:

Dear Quyunh,

Thank you for writing in with two good questions.

Film and movie mean the same thing. The word you use may help others guess where a person lives or is from.

First, let's look at the word film. One definition is the special material used for taking photographs. But you can also see a film in a theater. Used this way, film and movie mean the same thing.

And as a verb, to film means to record something with a video camera.

Here is an example:

"Do you want me to film the ceremony so you can remember it?"

Now let's turn to movie. The word – a noun - comes from the phrase "moving pictures."

Movies -- and films -- are recordings of moving images that tell a story.

Here are some example sentences with the word movie:

"Do you want to go to the movies tonight?"

"If you go to Hollywood in California, you might see a movie star."

In the United States, it is common to say "the movies" for when you talk about going to a movie theater.

Here is an example for you:

"Do you know what's playing at the movies this weekend?"

Stephen Follows is a writer, producer and film data researcher who lives in England. He wrote that people who work in the film industry use 'film' more than 'movie.'

People who live in the U.S., he found, usually say 'movie', while those in Britain use both. 'Film' is still popular in Europe and parts of Africa, but 'movie' is best in the Americas, as well as in Japan and India.

So -- that is why we say "English at the Movies" and not "English at the Films!"

And that's Ask a Teacher!

I'm Anne Ball.

Anne Ball wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Do you have a question for the teacher? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section. Tell us where you are from and how to pronounce your name!

Words in This Story

phrase - n. a group of two or more words that express a single idea but do not usually form a complete sentence

producer – n. someone who is in charge of making and usually providing the money for a play, movie or record

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/14/7852/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/14/7852/VOA Special EnglishSat, 14 Sep 2019 00:27:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Trapped in Jordan, Syrian Refugees See No Way Home]]>Susan Shand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/2019/09/13/1790/

Seven years ago Zahir Hamshari fled to Jordan to escape the civil war in Syria. But, his life now is full of questions and fears. Can he pay the cost of rent or electricity? What about food?

One thing he knows: he cannot return to his home.

"There is no future for us in Syria," Hamshari said.

In this Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019 photo, Syrian refugee Zahir Hamshari sits with his children in his rented apartment in east Amman, Jordan. Seven years after fleeing the civil war in his homeland, Hamshari's life is filled with questions and doubts. (AP)
In this Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019 photo, Syrian refugee Zahir Hamshari sits with his children in his rented apartment in east Amman, Jordan. Seven years after fleeing the civil war in his homeland, Hamshari's life is filled with questions and doubts. (AP)

Jordan opened its border with Syria so that Syrian refugees could return home. More than one million Syrians are living in the Kingdom. There are few jobs that pay well. The refugees are trapped by poverty and hopelessness, living in a country that was already struggling to feed its own people.

The Syrian crisis has hurt the progress made by Jordan over recent years, Jordan's Planning Ministry said in a statement. "Education, health and water infrastructure have been…strained in several communities," he added.

Many Jordanian schools now have separate morning and afternoon classes to make room for the refugee children. Water use is up over 20 percent in a country with severe water shortages.

The ministry said that while some countries have been supportive with aid, "donor fatigue" is a problem. Foreign donors have paid just 6.1 percent of the $2.4 billion needed for refugee services this year, the government said.

Jordan shares a border with southern Syria. At the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, refugees flooded two refugee camps organized by the Jordanians. Now, most refugees have moved to the cities where they are permitted to work in some jobs.

Jordan has accepted an estimated 1.3 million Syrians, including some 670,000 people officially named by the U.N. as refugees. That is a large problem for a country of roughly 10 million. Turkey took in 3.6 million refugees, and Lebanon took nearly 1 million.

When Jordan opened its main border with Syria last October after four years, there were hopes that refugees would begin to return home. Since then, only 28,000 refugees have gone back, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

The agency found late last year that 78 percent of refugees hope to return to Syria one day. But only eight percent will do so in the next year.

In this August 29, 2019 photo, Yousef Samara, a 42-year-old refugee from Syria's Deraa province plays with his children and nephews inside his caravan, in the Zaatari camp in northern Jordan. (AP)
In this August 29, 2019 photo, Yousef Samara, a 42-year-old refugee from Syria's Deraa province plays with his children and nephews inside his caravan, in the Zaatari camp in northern Jordan. (AP)

"We do see that (most) plan to go back to Syria one day in the future, but only a small portion of them are wanting to go back in the next 12 months," said Lilly Carlisle. She is the U. N. spokeswoman in Jordan.

Refugees say they fear for their safety or being forced to join the army. There are also few jobs or housing. Families and friends still in Syria tell the refugees the situation is still dangerous and they should not return.

The UNHCR is working with the Jordanian government and aid organizations. It provides services for refugees, including education and health services. It can also provide money. But donor nations gave just 25 percent of the needed amount this year, and the U.N. is struggling to meet demands.

Hamshari fled with his family from their home in Damascus in 2012.

General view from Zaatari, the largest Syrian refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. (AP)
General view from Zaatari, the largest Syrian refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. (AP)

The 36-year-old said he left Syria after he was arrested following anti-government protests. He said he was tortured during three months in jail. He believes he will be in danger if he returns. He added that his home near Damascus is destroyed.

Today, he works in a pharmaceutical factory and lives in a small apartment in a working-class neighborhood in east Amman. He says he receives about $200 in food coupons from the U.N. each month, but gets no other assistance.

Like many other refugees, he cannot pay his rent and electricity bills.

He lives by borrowing money from friends and relatives, but says few people have money to lend because they are in the same situation.

"I feel lost," he said. "I haven't achieved anything in the last six or seven years, only eating and drinking and being indebted. If I stay like this, I will die from anger."

I'm Susan Shand.

The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.

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

Words in this Story

infrastructure – n. the basic equipment and structures (such as roads and bridges) that are needed for a country, region, or organization to function properly

strain- v. a feeling of stress and worry that you have because you are trying to do too much, are dealing with a difficult problem

fatigue – n. the state of being very tired : extreme weariness

pharmaceutical – n. of or relating to the production and sale of drugs and medicine

coupon – n. a usually small piece of printed paper that lets you get a service or product for free or at a lower price

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/13/1790/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/13/1790/VOA Special EnglishFri, 13 Sep 2019 03:16:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Bahamian Officials: Islands Still Open for Tourism]]>Susan Shand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/2019/09/13/2494/

Before Hurricane Dorian hit the island group, the Bahamas was expecting one of its best years for tourism. Now, the future for that industry is unclear.

Some of the best-known resorts in the country, like Atlantis or Paradise Island, were not affected by the powerful ocean storm that destroyed other areas. Nassau, the largest city on the 700-island nation, had little damage.

But Grand Bahama Island and the Abaco islands are 100 miles away. There, many small hotels and holiday rental properties were damaged or destroyed. That means Bahamian officials have two problems. They must keep attracting tourists, but also recognize the deep suffering of those affected by the storm.

"All of the donations are welcome, but they can also…assist us by still visiting the islands of the Bahamas in the unaffected areas. They are open for business," said Ellison Thompson. He is the deputy director general of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation.

The Bahamas Investment Authority says the islands depend on the tourism industry. It supplies half the islands' yearly gross domestic product of $5.7 billion.

The Ministry of Tourism confirmed last week that all hotels on Abaco and Grand Bahama are closed. Together, the islands have about 3,000 hotel rooms, or 19 percent of the 16,000 rooms in the Bahamas, said Frank Comito. He is the chief of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association. The islands also have hundreds of vacation homes. Airbnb lists more than 600 rentals for the two islands.

The government says Grand Bahama received 670,000 visitors in 2018, mostly from cruise ships. More than 100,000 visitors arrived by airplane last year into Marsh Harbour, the largest town in the Abaco islands.

Comito has property on the beach in the Abaco islands, but does not know if it was damaged. Some hotels are providing information on Facebook. For example, the owners of Pelican Beach Villas said their oceanfront houses were completely destroyed. They were evacuated to Nassau by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. Firefly Resort Abaco tweeted photos of fallen trees and a collapsed building.

"Hurricane Dorian destroyed our paradise. We will rebuild," the resort said in its Twitter post.

There also is some industry in the area. Grand Bahama is home to the Freeport Container Port, a port for container ships that cross the ocean. Hong Kong-based Hutchinson Ports owns the business. It said its emergency team was helping with rescue efforts and trying to re-establish power at the port. Spokesman Anthony Tam said the company's nearby cruise station had little damage and was expecting ships carrying aid for hurricane victims soon.

Those businesses could help speed the recovery. Carnival Cruise Lines said it is committed to a port development project in Grand Bahama announced earlier this year. It will be completed in 2021 and will be the largest port the company owns. It is expected to create at least 1,000 jobs.

Tourism to unaffected islands could also bring in much-needed money and provide jobs for hotel workers. In early 2019, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation reported record levels of tourism partly because of the newly completed Baha Mar resort.

"One of the best ways that people around the world can show their support and solidarity...is to visit our other islands by air or by cruise ship," Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Friday.

I'm Susan Shand.

The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter Jr. was the editor.

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

Words in This Story

tourism – n. the activity of traveling to a place for pleasure

rental –adj. related to rent, paying an amount to use something such as a room or a house, for a short period of time

resort – n. a place where people go for vacations

gross domestic product – n. the total value of the goods and services produced by the people of a nation during a yea

cruise – n. to travel on a boat or ship to a number of places as a vacation

paradise – n. a very beautiful, pleasant, or peaceful place that seems to be perfect

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/13/2494/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/13/2494/VOA Special EnglishFri, 13 Sep 2019 03:14:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Dogs Smell Out Dangerous Plant Invaders]]>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/2019/09/13/3968/

It is already known that dogs can use their highly developed sense of smell to search out drugs, explosives and disaster survivors. Now, some are being trained to find a different kind of threat - plant species that can harm the environment.

New York officials have identified an invasive plant species starting to spread in several of the state's major parks. The plant is a yellow-flowered bush called Scotch broom. Scotch broom is widespread in areas of America's Pacific Northwest. But it is still fairly new to New York. Officials are seeking to stop the plant's growth before it becomes widespread.

Handler Joshua Beese plays with Dia, a Labrador retriever, while they work to find Scotch broom, an invasive species, in Harriman State Park in Tuxedo, N.Y., Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Handler Joshua Beese plays with Dia, a Labrador retriever, while they work to find Scotch broom, an invasive species, in Harriman State Park in Tuxedo, N.Y., Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The plant spreads quickly, grows thick and can crowd out native plants. The growth of invasive species can also close off areas to wildlife.

One not-for-profit group is using the dogs to help fight Scotch broom and other invasive species. The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference launched its Conservation Dogs program in 2018. The program coordinates the training of dogs to find invasive species. It receives money from donations as well as New York's Department of Environment Conservation.

After the dogs identify the species, people then attempt to remove the plants before they become a wider problem.

A 2010 study reported high success rates of dogs using their noses to search out invasive species. The study found that trained dogs could smell and find two times more invasive plants than humans could observe with their eyes.

Joshua Beese is a dog handler with the Trail Conference group. He has worked with a Labrador retriever called Dia to hunt for Scotch broom in New York state parks.

Dia uses her sense of smell to find Scotch broom, an invasive species, in Harriman State Park in Tuxedo, N.Y., Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Dia uses her sense of smell to find Scotch broom, an invasive species, in Harriman State Park in Tuxedo, N.Y., Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

"If we had to find all these plants ourselves, combing the grass for every tiny plant, it would take so much longer. And we'd still miss a lot," Beese told The Associated Press. Dia was able to lead him to hundreds of small Scotch broom plants largely hidden by other growth. Beese has trained Dia and other dogs to find other invasive species too.

Another not-for-profit organization working on the problem is Working Dogs for Conservation. It is based in Bozeman, Montana. It seeks to train dogs "to protect wildlife and wild places," including invasive species work. The group has trained dogs in several states including Montana, Iowa, Colorado and Hawaii.

The organization's director, Pete Coppolillo, said, "We've trained over 200 dog and handler teams to help in global wildlife trafficking, and now we're doing a lot of invasive species work."

Dia leads her handler Joshua Beese through dense vegetation while smelling for an invasive species called Scotch broom in Harriman State Park in Tuxedo, N.Y., Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Dia leads her handler Joshua Beese through dense vegetation while smelling for an invasive species called Scotch broom in Harriman State Park in Tuxedo, N.Y., Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Coppolillo added that human teams had tried for years to find and remove a destructive plant in one area of Montana without much success. But after a border collie and golden retriever from Working Dogs for Conservation were brought in to help, the species nearly disappeared within a few years.

Dogs are especially effective at this work because they can smell plants hidden among other species. People often need to see flowers on the plants to make an identification.

"That's a game-changer," Coppolillo said. "Each plant can set up to 15,000 seeds a year, and seeds can live seven years in the soil. Dogs find plants before they flower and reproduce."

I'm Bryan Lynn.

The Associated Press reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for Learning English, with additional information from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. 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

species n. group of plants or animals that share similar qualities

invasive adj. tending to spread in an uncontrollable way

crowd outv. to force something out of a place by filling the space

comb v. search a place or an area very carefully

global adj. happening worldwide

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/13/3968/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/13/3968/VOA Special EnglishFri, 13 Sep 2019 03:09:00 UTC
<![CDATA[US Supreme Court: New Asylum Rule Can Go Forward]]>Mario Ritter Jr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/2019/09/13/2002/

The United States Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday to lift court orders blocking a new rule on asylum seekers at the southern U.S. border.

The court ruling requires these individuals to seek asylum in the countries they pass through on their way to the United States. If their requests are then denied, they may ask the U.S. government for asylum.

The court's ruling cancels orders by lower courts and permits the new policy to go into effect.

Two of the nine Supreme Court justices -- Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- disagreed, or dissented.

After a legal challenge to the new policy, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco ordered in July that the policy be blocked all over the country. The government appealed the judge's decision.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals then ruled that the new policy could only be blocked in the states of Arizona and California, where the 9th Circuit Court has jurisdiction.

That meant the administration of President Donald Trump could enforce the rule in the states of New Mexico and Texas.

Then on Monday, Tigar released a new order again blocking the policy everywhere in the U.S. The following day, the 9th Circuit court again limited Tigar's order to the states of California and Arizona.

The Supreme Court's decision on Wednesday permits the new rule to go forward as legal action against it continues to go through the court system.

Rule affects those seeking asylum from Central America

Thousands of people have been put on waiting lists at border crossings in Mexico to make asylum claims in the U.S. More than 30,000 people have been turned back to Mexico to wait out their asylum claims there, the Associated Press reports.

People seeking asylum in the U.S. must pass a screening called a "credible fear" interview. It is meant to find out whether asylum-seekers face danger in their home country. Most people pass this step in the process and must wait for further action. However, under the new rule, candidates cannot pass unless they have sought asylum in at least one country they traveled through, and were denied.

In publishing the new rules, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it faces more requests than it can deal with. Of the 900,000 immigration cases waiting trial, 436,000 include asylum applications, it said.

Lee Gelernt is the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who is representing pro-immigration groups in the case. He said the decision is temporary and that he believes he will win the case. "The lives of thousands of families are at stake," he added.

The acting U.S. Customs and Border protection commissioner, Mark Morgan, said the Trump administration is "doing everything they can" to deal with the situation at the U.S. border with Mexico.

I'm Mario Ritter Jr.

Mark Sherman reported this story for the Associated Press. Mario Ritter Jr. 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

challenge –n. a legal action against something

panel –n. a group with special knowledge that is to make decisions

jurisdiction –n. the power or right to make judgements about law in a certain area

interview –n. a meeting at which people talk to each other in order to ask questions and get information

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/13/2002/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/13/2002/VOA Special EnglishFri, 13 Sep 2019 02:57:00 UTC
<![CDATA[EVERYDAY GRAMMAR - Verbs That Change with Gerunds and Infinitives]]>Alice Bryant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/2019/09/13/2932/

In English, we sometimes follow a verb with another action. When we do this, we must use an infinitive or a gerund.

You may remember that a gerund is the form of a verb that ends with the letters -ing. For example, in the sentence 'I love laughing,' the word 'laughing' is a gerund.

An infinitive is the simplest verb form and often has the word "to" in front of it. In the sentence 'I want to go for a walk,' the words 'to go' are an infinitive.

English learners often have trouble knowing when to use a gerund or an infinitive. There is a good reason for this: There are a handful of rules. For example, some verbs can only be followed by infinitives. Others can only be followed by gerunds.

There are other rules, but we won't talk about them today.

Instead, we will explore a small group of verbs that can be followed by a gerund or an infinitive. But their meaning changes depending on which form is used.

There are seven verbs in this group. Today we will explore four of them: try, forget, stop and regret.

Let's start with the verb "try" and use it with an infinitive.

Try + infinitive

When you try to do something, it means you make an effort to do it. But it may be difficult or impossible, and you may not succeed, as in this example:

I tried to lift that box but it was too heavy. Can you help me?

Lifting a heavy object is often difficult.

When you try to lift a heavy box, you may or may not be able to do it.
When you try to lift a heavy box, you may or may not be able to do it.

Try + gerund

But when you try doing something, it means you are experimenting with an action to find out if it works, as in this:

My back hurts. I tried taking pain medicine but it's not helping.

The action itself isn't difficult but may or may not have the desired result.

The change in meaning between the infinitive and gerund with "try" is smaller than the change in meaning for other verbs we will look at today.

Forget + infinitive

Next up is the verb "forget."

When you forget to do something, it means you wanted to do it but you did not remember. So, you did not do it.

Say, for example, you wanted to set your alarm clock last night. But you didn't do it because you forgot. You might say:

I forgot to set my alarm clock last night.

Oh, no! I hope you won't be late for work, school or an important meeting.

Forget + gerund

Yet when you forget doing something, the meaning changes. It means you did do it. But you fail to remember the act of doing it. In other words, you forgot a memory.

Listen to this speaker use a gerund with "forget."

Ben forgot meeting Savana's aunt at the last family gathering.

The speaker is saying that Ben did meet Savana's aunt. But he doesn't remember the act of meeting her.

However, the structure forget + gerund is more commonly used when someone declares they will not forget a treasured memory, as in this sentence:

I will never forget seeing my child walk for the first time. I was so happy!

Don't forget to set your alarm clock! Pictured is an old-fashioned version. Today, most people use digital clocks or mobile phones.
Don't forget to set your alarm clock! Pictured is an old-fashioned version. Today, most people use digital clocks or mobile phones.

Stop + infinitive

Let's now move to the verb "stop."

When someone stops to do something, it means they suspend one action for the purpose of doing something else. Take this example:

We've been cleaning all morning. Let's stop to get something to eat.

The speaker is suggesting they stop cleaning because she is getting hungry.

Stop + gerund

But when a person stops doing something, it means they have quit an action. Listen to this person asking someone to stop an action:

Can you stop looking at social media? We have a big test tomorrow.

Putting a gerund after the verb "stop" is also common when talking about bad or unwelcome habits, as in this example:

I stopped smoking cigarettes.

The difference in meaning here can be tricky for some English learners. So let's compare the infinitive and gerund more closely. Have a listen:

I stopped to smoke a cigarette.

I stopped smoking cigarettes.

"I stopped to smoke a cigarette" means the speaker stopped doing something else because she wanted to have a cigarette. "I stopped smoking cigarettes" means the speaker no longer uses cigarettes. The person has ended this habit.

Saying that someone 'stopped smoking' cigarettes and 'stopped to smoke' a cigarette have different meanings.
Saying that someone 'stopped smoking' cigarettes and 'stopped to smoke' a cigarette have different meanings.

Regret + infinitive

And finally, we have the verb "regret."

When you regret to do something, you are sorry to give someone bad news. This is a formal expression and almost always goes with the verb "inform" "say" or "tell." Have a listen:

We regret to inform you that your flight has been cancelled.

Regret + gerund

But when you regret doing something, you feel badly about something you did in the past. You are not happy about it, as in this example:

She regrets choosing that university. It wasn't a good fit for her.

The person does not like her choice of school. She wishes she had not chosen it.

What you can do?

Here are two suggestions for using the information that you learned today.

The first is to listen and look for the four verbs we talked about wherever English is being used. If a second verb follows, try taking note of whether it's a gerund or an infinitive.

The second is to try using these verbs in your speaking and writing. And don't worry about making mistakes with the forms. Even with mistakes, in many cases, other English speakers will still understand your meaning.

I'm Alice Bryant.

Alice Bryant wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

handfuln. a small amount or number

alarm / alarm clockn. a device that makes a loud sound at any desired time

auntn. the sister of your father or mother or the wife of your uncle

quitv. to stop doing an action or activity

habitn. something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way

formaladj. suitable for serious or official speech and writing

fitn. suitable or appropriate for someone or something

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/13/2932/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/13/2932/VOA Special EnglishFri, 13 Sep 2019 02:56:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Britain's Political Crisis Sets Prime Minister against Parliament]]>Susan Shand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/2019/09/12/2285/

Britain will most likely hold general elections in November. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lost his parliamentary majority and no longer has the votes to pass legislation.

Parliament was officially suspended early Tuesday morning. The move came just weeks before Britain is supposed to leave the European Union.

Opposition lawmakers have likened parliament's suspension to a coup. A high court agrees. Judges at Scotland's highest court have ruled the suspension "illegal."

The case is to go to Britain's Supreme Court next week.

The country is set to withdraw from the European Union on October 31. Last week, opposition lawmakers passed legislation that may force the prime minister to ask EU officials for an extension.

The political crisis must end soon, says Stephen Booth. He is acting director of the Open Europe policy group in London.

The British public is readying for an election, he said, and that is one reason Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbin and others want to see "Johnson sent to Brussels…to ask for an extension."

Johnson says Brexit will happen

On Tuesday, the prime minister met with students at a London school, where he announced new investment in education. The announcement was widely seen as a start to his election campaign.

"I think we will get a deal (with the EU). But if absolutely necessary, we will come out with no deal," Johnson told reporters.

Opposition lawmakers have warned they will take him to court if he refuses to ask for an extension.

British politicians are looking for an escape route, noted Stephen Booth.

"One is simply refusing to comply and seeing what happens in terms of any court cases or legal action that might happen," he said.

Parliament suspended

For now, parliament has been silenced, and opposition lawmakers are angry.

Tuesday morning, several lawmakers interrupted parliament's closing ceremony by trying to stop the parliament speaker from leaving his chair. Others held up protest signs and shouted "Shame on you!" at Conservative Party lawmakers.

The Conservatives will likely have an election campaign that accuses parliament of trying to overturn the 2016 EU membership referendum, says Catherine Barnard. She is a professor of European Union Law at the University of Cambridge.

"What we're seeing…is direct democracy through referendum fighting representative democracy" through parliament, Barnard added.

On Tuesday, EU officials began appointing a new team of representatives for negotiations. Even if Britain asks for an extension, some EU member countries could veto it, Booth said.

"I think (there is) a growing frustration in the European Union, sort of, 'We are open to an extension but what is the plan?'" he added.

One of the major problems in negotiations is the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Now a peaceful, open border, there are fears that any changes resulting from Britain's EU withdrawal could lead to a return of violence.

On Monday, dissident Irish Republicans attacked police in Londonderry, a sign that the effects of a British withdrawal are about more than political theatrics.

I'm Susan Shand.

VOA's Henry Ridgwell reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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

Words in this Story

coup – n. a sudden attempt to take over the government and get rid of the ruling party

supreme adj. chief or leading; first

routen. a way of getting from a starting point to a target or goal

comply – v. to follow, obey or respect

interruptv. to stop the progress of someone or something

shame – n. dishonor or disgrace

referendum – n. an event in which the people of a county, state, etc., vote for or against a law that deals with a specific issue : a public vote on a particular issue

frustration – n. anger; bitterness

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/12/2285/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/12/2285/VOA Special EnglishThu, 12 Sep 2019 03:33:00 UTC
<![CDATA[World Military Spending Is on the Rise]]>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/2019/09/12/9252/

The world's military spending is at an all-time high.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reports that total spending was $1.8 trillion in 2018. SIPRI Senior Researcher Pieter Wezeman calls it a "worrying trend."

Total spending last year was 76 percent higher than it was in 1998, the lowest year since the end of the Cold War. Military spending began rising after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, which killed almost 3,000 people in the United States.

World military spending 1988–2018
World military spending 1988–2018

The U.S. accounts for more than a third of world military spending. Experts say the American military remains the world's strongest. It has 11 aircraft carriers, a powerful nuclear weapons supply, new fighter airplanes and about 2.1 million troops.

China is now the world's second-largest military spender. It went from just 2 percent of the world's military budget in 1990 to 14 percent in 2018.

In this Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015 file photo, Chinese President Xi Jinping is displayed on a big screen as Type 99A2 Chinese battle tanks roll across during a parade.
In this Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015 file photo, Chinese President Xi Jinping is displayed on a big screen as Type 99A2 Chinese battle tanks roll across during a parade.

China built two aircraft carriers in the past 10 years, and a third one is in production. It has developed its own modern fighter planes. And, its troop numbers have grown to more than 2.5 million. The country is also investing in new technologies, including weapons that would fly at five times the speed of sound.

Wezeman says the speedy progress China has made has been seen "as a threat by its neighbors.'

Other top spenders

In reaction, India has increased its military spending by more than $11 billion in just three years. It now comes in fourth in military budgets, behind Saudi Arabia.

Last year, Russia dropped out of the top five spending countries. But it still has NATO's attention after invading Georgia in 2008 and annexing part of Ukraine in 2014.

The 29 NATO countries spent $963 billion -- 53 percent of world military spending -- in 2018.

That number is likely to increase as the United States continues to pressure NATO allies to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense.

'We can't let countries off the hook,' U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday at the Royal United Services Institute in London. 'You can't simply substitute and say, 'Well, my 2 percent is going to go to technology, or I'm going to build infrastructure.' We need real capability.'

I'm Caty Weaver.

Carla Babb reported this story for VOA News. Caty Weaver adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Words in This Story

annex - v. to add (an area or region) to a country, state, etc. : to take control of (a territory or place)​

gross domestic product - ​n. phrase the total value of the goods and services produced by the people of a nation during a year not including the value of income earned in foreign countries — abbreviation GDP

let off the hook - expression release from responsibility

infrastructure - ​n. the basic equipment and structures (such as roads and bridges) that are needed for a country, region, or organization to function properly​

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/2019/09/12/9252/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/12/9252/VOA Special EnglishThu, 12 Sep 2019 03:23:00 UTC
<![CDATA[Apple Keeps iPhone Prices Unchanged, Sets Launch of Video Service]]>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/2019/09/12/3336/

Apple launch events usually involve new products and product improvements, along with higher prices for some devices.

But at the launch event this week, the company announced a number of new products without raising prices. In the case of Apple's low-end iPhone, the price was lowered from the current model.

Apple also reported that the price for its new video service will be well below competing companies like Netflix and Disney Plus. And the company said it plans to launch a video game subscription service on September 19.

Industry experts say Apple's price-freeze and expansion into a pay video service appear to be an answer to a drop in iPhone sales worldwide the past few years. It has become more difficult for Apple to get people to pay for new devices that sell for $1,000 or more.

Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, talks about the new iPhone 11 Pro and Max, during an event to announce new products Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, talks about the new iPhone 11 Pro and Max, during an event to announce new products Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

This year, iPhone shipments are down 25 percent, technology researcher IDC reported. The drop has put more pressure on Apple to generate earnings from service offerings like music, video and gaming. The company was able to raise its services revenue 14 percent to nearly $23 billion during the first half of this year.

None of the new products demonstrated this week differ greatly from earlier models. They include three new smartphones: the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro Max.

The main difference for the iPhone 11 is that it has two back cameras, including a lens designed to take extra wide images. This model starts at $699. The iPhone 11 is meant to replace the iPhone XR, which has a higher price of $749.

The iPhone 11 Pro sells for $999. It has three cameras on the back, including one for extra wide photographs and one for telephoto. The iPhone 11 Pro Max also has the three-camera design and the biggest display of all the models. It starts at $1,099, the same price as the iPhone XS Max from last year.

Phil Schiller talks about the new iPhone 11 Pro and Max, during an event to announce new products Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Phil Schiller talks about the new iPhone 11 Pro and Max, during an event to announce new products Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

The company also showed off new camera tools, including one to improve picture quality in low-light conditions and a new setting aimed at helping capture human subjects.

Apple says all the new iPhones are made with long-lasting batteries. Users of the iPhone 11 Pro Max can expect the power to last up to 5 hours longer than the iPhone XS Max, the company said.

All the new models will begin shipping on September 20.

The launch event also included new versions of the Apple Watch and iPad.

Sumbul Desai, MD, Apple's vice president of Health talks about new features on the Apple watch during an event to announce new products Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Sumbul Desai, MD, Apple's vice president of Health talks about new features on the Apple watch during an event to announce new products Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

The new Series 5 watch now has an always-on display, which many competing devices already have. The Series 5 will come in new case designs, such as titanium and ceramic. And it will work with a new Compass app for directions.

Apple is offering a new low-end model iPad with a larger display size, starting at $329. It also launched a new iPad Pro, which the company calls "the most advanced iPad ever." That model – designed to compete with laptop computers - starts at $799.

One big announcement was that the company plans to launch its new Apple TV Plus video service on November 1. Users will pay $4.99 per month. In the first few weeks, the service will have nine Apple-produced shows and movies – some with major Hollywood stars - with more to be added each month.

The Apple TV Plus starting price is below Netflix's rates of $8.99 to $15.99. The offer is also lower than the planned Disney Plus video service, which is set to launch November 12 for $6.99 a month.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announces new products at an event Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces new products at an event Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Apple is offering Apple TV Plus free for one year to buyers of a new iPhone, iPad, Mac or iPod Touch.

Apple also announced the September 19 launch of its Apple Arcade video game service. The service, costing $4.99 a month, will offer unlimited use of more than 100 different games.

One thing not announced at the launch event was when Apple planned to release iPhone models that will support the new 5G wireless system.

Apple competitors, including Samsung, are already offering 5G device versions at a higher cost. But industry experts say Apple is currently in a "holding pattern" for the new technology. They say 5G iPhones are not expected to be released until next year.

So users will have to wait until 2020 to see if Apple goes back to higher pricing for its latest 5G models.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from Apple, The Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse and online sources. George Grow was the editor.

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

Quiz - Apple Keeps iPhone Prices Unchanged, Sets Launch of Video Service

Start the Quiz to find out

Start Quiz

Words in This Story

subscription n. an amount of money paid to regularly receive a product or service

generatev. to bring into existence; to create

revenue n. the amount of money produced; the money returned by an investment

lens n. curved piece of glass used by cameras to capture pictures

display n. the area where information and operations are shown on an electronic device

battery n. object that provides power to things

laptop n. a computer small enough to be carried around and used when the person is sitting

pattern n. a particular way something is done or repeated

]]>
http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/12/3336/http://www.unsv.com/voanews/specialenglish/scripts/2019/09/12/3336/VOA Special EnglishThu, 12 Sep 2019 03:22:00 UTC