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, 19 Feb 2020 10:50:29 UTC<![CDATA[Apple Lowers Sales Goals Because of Coronavirus Outbreak]]>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:
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Computer maker Apple is warning investors that it will not meet its three-month financial goal because of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

The company said Monday that all of its iPhone factories are outside Hubei province, where the outbreak began. It also said that all of the factories have reopened, but production is moving slowly.

"The health…of every person who helps make these products possible is our…priority," Apple said in a statement.

The number of people who died from the virus reached at least 1,770 by Monday. The new coronavirus causes a disease called COVID-19.

Apple says demand for iPhones has fallen in China because many of Apple's 42 stores there have been closed or have reduced hours. China is Apple's third largest market for iPhones, after the United States and Europe.

One person told the Reuters News Agency that Apple's supply chain was affected by the outbreak. Apple's suppliers and other smart phone makers are expected to face financial difficulties in the future.

"If one…factory stays closed and they're the only supplier, then everyone has to stop and wait. And if there are two suppliers and one is shut down, then we need the other to do more," said the person who did not have permission to speak about the company and did not want to be identified.

Stacy Rasgon is a financial expert with Bernstein, a business advising company. He said Apple's problems also mean fewer chips will be sold for cell phones because most chips are made in China.

The research company Canalys estimates that Apple and competitor Huawei receive 99 percent of their production from China.

"Every electronic supply chain runs through China in a big way," Rasgon said.

Outside of China, Apple said iPhone demand has been strong. The company expects to meet its sales goals for the rest of the world, but it is unclear if difficulties with supplies will affect sales in the future.

Late last month, Apple said it expected revenue between $63 and $67 billion for the three-month period ending on March 30.

I'm Susan Shand.

The Associated Press and the Reuters News Agency 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

outbreak - n. a sudden start or increase of fighting or disease

priority - n. something that is more important than other things and that needs to be done or dealt with first

chip - n. a very small piece of hard material (called silicon) in a computer or other device that contains many electronic circuits

revenue - n. money that is made by or paid to a business or an organization

supply chain - n. the movement of goods from one factory to another

]]>
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<![CDATA[Boy Scouts of America Seeks Legal Protection over Sex Abuse Claims]]>Jill Robbins如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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The Boy Scouts of America, BSA, asked a federal court in the United States for legal protection Tuesday.

The group wants to be declared bankrupt – meaning it is unable to pay its debts. The BSA says the move will help it to pay the fines courts have awarded to men who suffered abuse while taking part in its programs as boys.

There has been a growing number of cases against the Boy Scouts of America in recent years. The main reason for this is a change to state laws. Until recently, many states had a statute of limitations, SOL, law that required people who suffered from abuse as children to report it by the time they were 21 years old.

The CHILD USA research group notes that 2019 was a big year for SOL reforms. Nineteen states approved laws allowing people who suffered abuse as children to bring legal action later in life. The group says that most victims of childhood sexual abuse reported it at around age 48.

Several thousand men have accused local or regional Boy Scout leaders of unwanted sexual contact. Many cases relate to incidents dating back to the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

Effect of prevention policies

BSA says there were only five known abuse victims in 2018. It credits the change to a number of prevention policies enacted since the 1980s. The group now requires criminal background investigations and abuse-prevention training for all employees and volunteers. There is also a rule that two or more adult leaders must be present during all activities.

Paul Mones is a lawyer representing men who have brought cases against the Boy Scouts of America. He says the group's leaders knew about the sexual abuse for years and tried to hide it. Mones believes they 'made their decision to protect their reputation over the safety of innocent children.'

Roger Mosby is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Boy Scouts of America. He said in a statement that 'the BSA cares deeply about all victims of abuse and sincerely apologizes to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting.'

In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, photo, James Kretschmer holds photographs of himself at age 11 and 12 during an interview in Houston. Kretschmer says he was sexually abused by a Scout leader over several months in the mid-1970s in the Spokane, Washingto
In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, photo, James Kretschmer holds photographs of himself at age 11 and 12 during an interview in Houston. Kretschmer says he was sexually abused by a Scout leader over several months in the mid-1970s in the Spokane, Washingto

Until last spring, the organization had said it never permitted an abuser it knew about to work with young people. But in May, The Associated Press (AP) reported that lawyers for abuse victims had shown cases where the BSA permitted leaders who carried out sexual abuse to return. The following day, Mike Surbaugh, who was then Boy Scouts' chief executive, wrote to a congressional committee that BSA had allowed abusive leaders to return.

Reports of secret files

The AP reports that BSA has secretly kept records since the 1920s listing employees and volunteers involved in sexual abuse. The purpose of these files, they say, was to keep abusers away from Scouts. Court papers as of January show the files listed 7,819 suspected abusers and 12,254 victims.

The size of the legal fines could be huge because the Boys Scouts of America operates in all 50 states.

BSA's declaration of bankruptcy could temporarily delay payments to thousands of victims. But in the end the legal action could force the group to sell some large properties, including campgrounds and wilderness paths. The organization said in its court papers that it is worth between $1 billion and $10 billion, and it owes from $500 million to $1 billion.

BSA's finances have suffered recently because of lower membership and payments to victims of abuse. In the 1970s, the group had up to 4 million members. Now, there are fewer than 2 million. The Boy Scouts began including girls in 2017.

Like the Roman Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America is paying a high price for sexual abuse. One difference between BSA and the Catholic Church is that the church's finances are based on local groups of churches, while the Boy Scouts are a national organization.

Mike Pfau is a lawyer in Seattle. His law office is working with many men who claim they suffered sexual abuse as Scouts. He said. "A Boy Scout bankruptcy would be bigger in scale than any other child abuse bankruptcy we've ever seen."

James Kretschmer of Houston is one of the men bringing a case against the BSA. He says, "It is a shame because at its core and what it was supposed to be, the Boy Scouts is a beautiful organization."

"But you know, anything can be corrupted," he added. "And if they're not going to protect…the children, then shut it down and move on."

I'm Jill Robbins.

And I'm Anne Ball.

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

What do you think of the legal action by the Boy Scouts? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

Words in This Story

statute of limitations – n. a law that states the amount of time that must pass before a crime can no longer be punished or a right can no longer be given

regionaladj. of or related to an area or territory

bankruptcyn. a condition of financial failure caused by not having the money that you need to pay your debts

church n. a building where Christians or other people gather for religious services.

]]>
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<![CDATA[Iranians Tire of Tensions, Restrictions as Elections Near]]>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:
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As elections near, Iranian leaders appear to be worried about several crises that have left people with little hope for the future.

Tensions with the United States, economic weakness and the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger airplane have tired Iranian voters.

Elections are to be held on February 21.

This is not good news for leaders who hope that a lot of people will vote. If many people vote, it sends a message to the U.S. that Iran has not been hurt by sanctions.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on state television this week that voting is a "religious duty." Many see this election as a test of his popularity.

Both he and his allies have made sure most of the candidates are hardliners -- people considered to have severe or extreme ideas. Most of those elected will likely make the parliament even more hostile to the U.S.

But a low number of voters would help critics inside and outside the country. Many critics say the Islamic Republic needs to change its policies because the country is suffering economically.

"I'm a person who has voted before. My hope was that things would get a little better when I voted in the past. Now, all the red lines have been crossed," said a doctor in Tehran. Her office cannot get the medicine or equipment she needs.

"This time, I have no hope and I will definitely not vote," she said by phone. She asked not be identified.

Four years ago, things were very different. Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, and his allies had won many seats in parliamentary elections. They were seen as moderates. Many had hoped that a nuclear deal with world powers in 2015 would lead to the end of sanctions.

Those hopes died after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from an international nuclear agreement in 2018. He placed more sanctions on Iran in an effort to limit its nuclear program. The sanctions also seek to limit Iran's ballistic missile program and end its involvement in several proxy wars in the Middle East.

"The main root of everything is the economy," said Ali, who sells mobile phones in Isfahan. He talked to the Reuters news agency by telephone and asked that he not be identified.

"If (a person) doesn't have the money to take home bread to his wife and family, then he'll stop praying and even lose his beliefs," said Ali. He said he does not plan to vote next week.

"I voted for several years and it didn't make any difference," he said.

Government officials have been under pressure since last year, when protests turned deadly. Demonstrators were angry over increases in the price of fuel. Security officials answered with force. Hundreds of protesters are believed to have been killed. The effort to suppress the protests was among the most violent events in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Then, a U.S. drone strike killed Qassem Soleimani, a commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force, in January in Iraq. Iranians supported their government's anger. But support quickly disappeared when it became clear the Iranian government had lied about the shooting down of a Ukrainian airliner. All 176 people on the plane were killed.

The Revolutionary Guards apologized for shooting down the passenger jet. But thousands of people still protested in several cities.

Even before the latest troubles, sanctions cut Iran's oil exports by more than 80 percent. People are continuing to suffer from economic hardship.

The International Monetary Fund notes that Iran is expected to have 31 percent inflation this year.

I'm Susan Shand.

The Reuters News Agency 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

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

ballistic missile - n. a weapon that is shot through the sky over a great distance and then falls to the ground and explodes

proxy - adj. power or authority that is given to allow a person to act for someone else

drone - n. a type of small aircraft that flies without a pilot

]]>
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<![CDATA[Mental Health Experts, Educators Call for End to School Shooter Drills]]>Jill Robbins如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Two years ago this month, a 19-year-old American shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Fourteen of the victims were students; the other three were teachers. The gunman was a former student at the high school.

On this anniversary, as with other anniversaries of school shootings, Americans continue debating how to make sure students are safe in schools.

On February 11, a group called Everytown for Gun Safety released a report on one method for reducing gun violence at schools in the United States. Everytown is a not-for-profit organization. It joined with two labor unions in writing the report on school safety drills for active shootings. The two are the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA).

What is an active shooter?

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation defines an active shooter as an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area. To increase preparedness for such an event, many schools now hold active shooter drills for students and their teachers.

The new report notes the possible harmful effects of such exercises. It urges school administrators to look for better ways to make schools safe and to prepare children for an active shooter.

U.S. Department of Education numbers show how rare gun violence at schools is: Only 0.2 percent of about 36,000 gun deaths a year happen on school grounds. But almost all schools hold drills designed to prepare their employees and students for an active shooter. In fact, 40 states require such exercises.

Real or not real?

The report says one problem with the way schools carry out active shooter drills is how much they frighten students. When a school fails to inform parents and students about plans for a drill, parents cannot prepare their children, and the children may think that the attack is real.

In some communities, the report says, schools deploy individuals who are told to act like "masked gunmen." Students as young as three or four years old may be told to stay quiet in a small space for a long period of time. Experts on mental health say these experiences can have both short- and long-term effects on how well the children behave in school, as well as on their physical and mental health.

For example, after one drill in New Jersey, an eighth-grade student reportedly said, "I was genuinely not sure if I would finish the day alive."

Melissa Reeves is a former president of the National Association of School Psychologists. She said the drills may "trigger either past trauma or trigger such a… reaction that it actually ends up scaring the individuals instead of better preparing them to respond in these kinds of situations."

Fifth grade student Alondra Gomez shows how to tie a door shut in a exercise at Pinnacle Charter School during TAC*ONE training for an active shooter situation in a school in Thornton, Colorado, U.S. August 29, 2019.
Fifth grade student Alondra Gomez shows how to tie a door shut in a exercise at Pinnacle Charter School during TAC*ONE training for an active shooter situation in a school in Thornton, Colorado, U.S. August 29, 2019.

There has been little research on how well the exercises prepare students for an active shooter. In 2007, one study found it better to prepare students for an "intruder," rather than a shooter. Another study noted the value of announcing drills in advance and following them with discussion. Students in that situation felt better prepared to handle possible violence.

Joe Emery, TAC*ONE trainer and former Las Vegas police department sergeant, is swarmed by fifth grade students in a shooter take down exercise at Pinnacle Charter School during TAC*ONE training for an active shooter situation in a school in Thornton, Colo
Joe Emery, TAC*ONE trainer and former Las Vegas police department sergeant, is swarmed by fifth grade students in a shooter take down exercise at Pinnacle Charter School during TAC*ONE training for an active shooter situation in a school in Thornton, Colo

Surprise drills, on the other hand, can result in trauma to children. One woman in Arizona described the effect drills at her son's school had on him. He started biting his fingernails and "refused to go anywhere alone, even to his room or a bathroom at home," she said.

Laurel Williams is chief of psychiatry at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. She warned about the worry active shooter drills can create in children: "It's not clear to them that the drill is not real. The younger the child, the less likely they are to understand that an act of violence is not occurring during a drill."

Other steps are needed

Everytown, AFT, and NEA point out that active shooter drills alone will not prevent gun violence. Last year the three organizations announced their own plan to end school shootings. The plan calls for better laws on keeping guns out of the hands of possibly dangerous people. The groups also support raising the age to buy semiautomatic weapons and requiring background checks on gun sales.

The Everytown plan also includes safer storage of firearms, as children sometimes bring guns from home to school.

Everytown, AFT, and NEA oppose any shooter drills for students. Aside from the trauma they may cause, another reason is to keep any detailed planning among adults secret from students. That is because of this troubling fact: almost all mass school shooters are either former or current students who show signs of trouble before the attack. The groups instead urge schools to watch for students who may become the next shooter and provide them the social support and mental health care they need.

I'm Jill Robbins.

Jill Robbins wrote this story for Learning English based on the Everytown/NEA/AFT and U.S. Department of Education reports. George Grow was the editor.

How do schools in your country prepare students for an emergency (perhaps a natural disaster if not an attack) on school grounds? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

Quiz: Mental Heath Experts, Educators Call for End to School Shooter Drills

Start the Quiz to find out

Start Quiz

Words in This Story

drill – n. an exercise done to practice military skills or procedures

psychology n. the science or study of the mind and behavior

triggern. something that causes something else to happen

trauma n. a very difficult or unpleasant experience that causes someone to have mental or emotional problems usually for a long time

scarev. frighten, to cause (someone) to become afraid

intrudern. a person who is not welcome or wanted in a place

in advancen. before something happens

]]>
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<![CDATA[US Companies Bought Fewer Robots in 2019]]>Jonathan Evans如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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American companies put fewer robots in place during 2019 than they did the year before, Reuters news agency reports. That is the first decrease in shipped robots since 2015.

Robot shipments last year fell to 23,758. That is a more than 16 percent drop from the year before. That information comes from the Association for Advancing Automation, an industry group based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Robot shipments also fell in Mexico last year, decreasing 25 percent to 3,263. Shipments in Canada were about the same, with just over 3,000 robots shipped.

A major goal of President Donald Trump's administration has been to get manufacturers to bring jobs back to the United States. New robotics permit U.S. companies to compete with low-cost labor in China and other countries. Some experts, however, believe there is a slowdown in manufacturing.

Alexander Shikany is vice president of the Association for Advancing Automation. He said a slowdown is not likely to last a long time. He noted that orders for new robots in North America increased last year by 1.6 percent to 29,988 units.

The largest driver of that growth was a more than 50 percent increase in orders from carmakers. Shikany said the car industry is making robots part of their investment for the future.

U.S. carmaker General Motors recently announced that it was investing $2.2 billion to build electric trucks and self-driving electric vehicles at its factory near Detroit, Michigan.

Hytrol Conveyor Company, Incorporated is a private company in Jonesboro, Arkansas. It makes conveyor belts and sold over $200 million of products last year. The company did not cut back on new robots in 2019. It spent $1.9 million last year to automate its assembly line.

David Peacock is the company's president. He said the company realized three years ago that it would have trouble meeting demand without more robots.

However, the investments have not cut jobs. The number of workers at Hytrol Conveyor's factory has increased 18 percent over the past three years to 1,300. And the company has seen a nearly 25 percent increase in profits.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Timothy Aeppel reported this story for the Reuters news service. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.

Words in This Story

shipment –n. a load of goods that are being sent to a customer, store, etc.

unit –n. a single thing, person, or group that is a part of something larger

conveyor belt –n. a mechanical apparatus for moving articles or bulk material from place to place

automate –v. to run or operate something, such as a factory or system, by using machines, computers, etc., instead of people to do the work

assembly line –n. an arrangement for assembling a product mechanically in which work passes from one operation to the next in a direct line until the product is finished

]]>
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<![CDATA[It's Alarming: What Wakes You Up Each Morning?]]>Anne Ball如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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How do you wake up in the morning?

If you set an alarm on your phone or clock that sounds like this:

beep beep beep

That hard, unpleasant sound may be making it harder to shake off the sleepy feeling in the morning known as grogginess.

So, is there a better way to wake up? A recent study says yes. The answer is music. Researchers say alarms that have a melody – like the beginning of this song – can help people feel fresher in the morning.

The study, carried out by researchers in Australia, involved 50 people. The study subjects answered questions about the alarm sound they like to wake up to, how they feel about that sound and how they feel when they wake up. The findings appeared this month in the publication PloS One.

The researchers found that people who wake up to musical alarms reported feeling more awake and alert.

Stuart McFarlane was a lead writer of the study. He told VOA, "We are very surprised by these findings as one might expect a harsh beeping sound to be more successful," at waking up a person.

A couple lay in a double bed during a photo opportunity organised by the Mental Health Foundation to mark World Sleep Day, on Parliament Hill, in London, March 15, 2018.
A couple lay in a double bed during a photo opportunity organised by the Mental Health Foundation to mark World Sleep Day, on Parliament Hill, in London, March 15, 2018.

Sleep inertia is another term for grogginess. It means a person has a heavy feeling when waking up, and has trouble getting moving again after sleeping.

McFarlane said people need to better understand sleep inertia's harmful effects on human performance later in the day. The grogginess we may feel in the morning usually lasts for up to 30 minutes. But he said it has been reported to last from two to four hours.

Not everyone will experience the full effect. But for those who do, "care should be taken" when performing duties that require a top performance within this period, he said. This includes "dangerous tasks like driving or riding our bikes" shortly after waking up.

The same is true for people who work in dangerous situations shortly after they wake. They include firefighters and pilots.

Sleep inertia has been linked to major accidents including airplane and shipping crashes.

Why is music better?

So, what makes musical alarms better for waking up?

The researchers think the music may be more successful in reducing sleep inertia because it has several tones, compared to the single tone of a "beeping" alarm. McFarlane said that the changes over time between the music tones may help increase a person's attention when waking from sleep.

But, he added, "it is early days though and more work is needed" to fully know the answer.

And is there a kind of music that is best to wake up to? There may be, McFarlane said.

"We could suggest alarm sounds that are tune full and easy to hum or sing along with. The current sounds I have been using include 'Close to me' by the Cure and 'Borderline' by Madonna."

Experts say, no matter how you wake up, you need at least seven hours of sleep a night.
Experts say, no matter how you wake up, you need at least seven hours of sleep a night.

No matter how you wake up, experts say, the amount of sleep you get also matters – a lot.

Dr. Stuart F. Quan is the clinical director of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Rhythm Disorders at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. He offered some suggestions for how people can get better sleep and feel fresh each morning.

  • Establish regular hours. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Researchers recommend getting at least seven hours of sleep a night.
  • Create a sleep-friendly room. It should be completely dark while sleeping. Place your bed away from windows. Try to make sure it is quiet and cool.
  • Exercise. Most studies show that usual exercise -- three or four times a week -- helps improve sleep.
  • Try not to use electronics in bed. Turn off your cell phone before bed, or put it on the "do not disturb" setting.
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime.
  • Limit nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol before bed.
  • Be more active during the day. This can help you fall asleep more quickly and easily.

I'm Anne Ball.

And I'm Bryan Lynn.

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

How do you wake up in the morning? If you use an alarm, what does it sound like? What do you think of this story? Write to us in the comments section below.

Quiz: It's Alarming: What Wakes You Up Each Morning?

Start the Quiz to find out

Start Quiz

Words in This Story

alarm – n. a device that makes a loud sound as a warning or signal

shake off – v. an act of getting rid of something unpleasant or unwanted

grogginess – adj. not able to think or move normally because of being tired, sick

alert – adj. able to think clearly and to notice things

harsh – adj. unpleasant and difficult to accept or experience

tone – n. the quality of a sound produced by a musical instrument or singing voice

hum – v. to make a low continuous sound

]]>
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<![CDATA[End of Catfish Fishing Ban Threatens Amazon's Pink Dolphins]]>Bryan Lynn如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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The Amazon river dolphin faces new threats because its meat is used as bait to catch a popular catfish.

The fish-like mammal is considered intelligent and friendly. The animal is known as the pink dolphin because its skin turns from gray to pink as it ages or when it gets excited.

But some wildlife activists are concerned about new threats facing the world's largest freshwater dolphin. Brazilian fishermen hunt and kill the animals illegally to make bait for a catfish called the piracatinga.

A temporary, legal ban on fishing for piracatinga ended last month. Since then, environmentalists and researchers have called for the ban to be restarted to help save Amazon river dolphins.

One supporter of bringing the fishing ban back is biologist Vera da Silva. She has been working to protect Amazon river dolphins for the past 25 years.

Silva told Reuters news agency that she and her team catch dolphins to examine, measure and mark them. The animals are then released into the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve in northern Brazil.

Such wildlife areas are established to protect land and animals in places where traditional populations live. The Mamirauá reserve covers about 11,000-square kilometers of flooded rainforest and wetlands.

"We captured a dolphin mother and her calf today and saw them calling out to each other," Silva said. "They have a very strong relation until the calf becomes independent after three years."

After being brought to a floating research center in the reserve, Silva's team takes blood and milk samples from the dolphins. A pregnancy usually lasts about 13 months. The mother then feeds her calf underwater for two years.

Because of this extended feeding period, females only reproduce every three to five years. Silva says this low reproduction rate increases the risk of extinction when the population of the Amazon river dolphins suffers major drops.

Legal officials in Brazil's Amazonas state sought the catfish ban in 2015. At the time, they warned that as many as 2,500 dolphins were being killed each year for bait.

Currently, Amazon river dolphins can still be found in large numbers across South America's huge Amazon and Orinoco river basins. But Silva says she fears the animals could disappear like the Yangtze river dolphin did in China in 2006, after years of overfishing and pollution.

"We don't want the dolphins to become just a legend of Amazonia," she said.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Reuters reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. 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

bait n. food used to catch fish or animals

calf n. the young of various large animals

extinction n. a situation in which a kind of animal no longer exists

basin n. a large or small depression in the surface of land or the ocean floor

legend n. an old story from ancient times

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<![CDATA[Dogs Smell Crop Disease Affecting Citrus Trees]]>Jonathan Evans如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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New research suggests that dogs might be able to help save diseased citrus trees.

A group of scientists trained dogs to use their sense of smell to detect a crop disease called citrus greening. The disease has affected orange, lemon and grapefruit trees in the American states of Florida, California and Texas.

The dogs can detect the disease weeks to years before it appears on tree leaves and roots, the researchers report. A study on their findings was published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The report says using dogs is also faster, less costly and more exact than having people collect hundreds of leaves for lab analysis.

Timothy Gottwald is a researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a co-writer of the study. He told The Associated Press, "This technology is thousands of years old – the dog's nose. We've just trained dogs to hunt new prey: the bacteria that causes a very damaging crop disease."

Citrus greening is caused by a bacteria that is spread by a tiny insect that feeds on the leaves and stems of citrus trees. Once a tree is infected, there is no cure.

The disease has also hurt citrus crops in Central and South America and Asia.

In one experiment involving grapefruit trees in Texas, trained dogs were correct 95 percent of the time in telling the difference between newly infected trees and healthy ones.

"The earlier you detect a disease, the better chance you have at stopping an epidemic" by removing infected trees, Gottwald said.

Matteo Garbelotto studies plants at the University of California, Berkeley. He says the new research shows that dogs can detect an infection well before current methods. Garbelotto has been involved in similar research but had no part in the new study.

Laura Sims is a plant scientist with Louisiana Tech University. She praised the steps taken to find out if the dogs were detecting the bacteria itself or a plant's reaction to an infection.

To do that, the researchers infected different kinds of unrelated plants with the bacteria in a laboratory. The dogs were still able to pick out the infected plants.

Gottwald said, "You've seen dogs working in airports, detecting drugs and explosives. Maybe soon you will see them working on more farms."

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Christina Larson reported this story for the Associated Press. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Words in This Story

citrus – n. a juicy fruit such as an orange, grapefruit, or lemon that has a thick skin and that comes from a tree or shrub that grows in warm areas

detect – v. to discover or notice the presence of something that is hidden or hard to see, hear, taste, etc.

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

stem – n. the main stalk of a plant that develops buds and shoots and usually grows above ground

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<![CDATA[Ninety-Year-Old 'Chef of the Poor' Cooks for Rome's Homeless]]>Anne Ball如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Dino Impagliazzo cuts onions like a professional cook. The Italian man makes a great vegetable soup, but most of his longtime "customers" can't even pay for a piece of bread.

Working with the energy of a much younger man, the 90-year-old, Impagliazzo is known as Rome's "chef of the poor."

Three days a week, he sets out to gather food with other volunteers. They are all part of RomAmoR (RomeLove), a group that he started. The volunteers go to markets and bakeries to collect donated food.

The other four days of the week, RomAmoR volunteers cook food and serve it in different places across the city.

Such efforts help Impagliazzo live out his dream of feeding the homeless.

It all began 15 years ago when a homeless man at a Rome train station asked Impagliazzo for money to buy a sandwich.

"I realized that perhaps instead of buying one sandwich, making some sandwiches for him and for the friends who were there would be better, and thus began our adventure," he said.

Dino Impagliazzo, Rome's 90-year-old 'chef of the poor', greets volunteers as they make sandwiches for the homeless living in the city.
Dino Impagliazzo, Rome's 90-year-old 'chef of the poor', greets volunteers as they make sandwiches for the homeless living in the city.

On Saturday nights, a RomAmoR group sets up in an area protected from bad weather outside St. Peter's Square. This is where they feed the growing number of homeless who sleep in the area. It is also where Pope Francis has opened spaces for medical and bathing places for the homeless.

Impagliazzo once worked for Italy's social security department. He launched his work to feed the needy with a handful of other retired people.

They quickly went from making sandwiches to cooking more complex hot meals. They first started at home. Later, they cooked in a convent, a building that houses religious women.

Now there are more than 300 RomAmoR volunteers, both young and old. They use their own fully equipped kitchen.

Impagliazzo recently received an award from Italian President Sergio Mattarella. He was recognized as a "hero of our times." He never dreamed his idea would become so successful, or create such good will.

On a recent Saturday night near the Vatican -- where the Pope lives -- four extra volunteers showed up.

"I am happy because we never tell anyone 'we don't need you tonight'," he said. "They stay among us."

I'm Anne Ball.

Emily G. Roe wrote this story for Reuters. Anne Ball wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

How do people help feed the hungry in your city? What do you think of this story? Write to us in the comments section below.

Words in This Story

chef – n. a professional cook who usually is in charge of a kitchen in a restaurant

sandwich – n. two pieces of bread with something (such as meat, peanut butter, or other food) between them

realize – v. to understand or become aware of

adventure – n. an exciting or dangerous experience

kitchen – n. a room in which food is cooked

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<![CDATA[Scientists Aim to Explore Area of Life 1000 Meter Under the Sea]]>Mario Ritter如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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A team of scientists plans to explore a little-known part of the ocean to search for new sea life and to investigate the effects of pollution and climate change.

The scientists will enter what they call the "Midnight Zone" of the Indian Ocean. It is an area at a depth of about 1,000 meters below the surface where light does not reach but life still thrives. The project is expected to begin on March 16 and to last about five weeks. The scientists aim to explore huge underwater mountains also known as seamounts.

The scientists involved in the project are part of Nekton, an ocean research group that works with the University of Oxford in Britain. They are working with the Seychelles' and Maldives' governments in an effort to protect ocean areas.

Oliver Steeds is the director of the Nekton effort. He told the Associated Press that the area his team will explore is home to many forms of life. "What we do know is that beneath 1,000 meters, there's no light down there, but a lot of animals…are bioluminescent. It's life that glows," he said.

Speaking to AP in Barcelona, Spain, Steed noted that this team was going into an unknown part of the ocean.

A submarine unlike any other

The Nekton scientists will be using one of the most modern deep sea submarines in the world. It is named Limiting Factor.

Last August, the Limiting Factor completed another project: to dive to the deepest point in each of the world's five oceans. That effort was called the Five Deeps Expedition. The deepest of these dives took the submarine to nearly 11,000 meters below sea level.

The Limiting Factor is built to withstand the huge pressure that exists in the ocean's deepest places. The compartment for the crew of two people is surrounded by titanium nine centimeters thick. The submarine also carries enough emergency oxygen for up to 96 hours.

Robert McCallum is the leader of the expedition. He said vehicles that can dive deep into the ocean are rare.

The scientists will use sensors and mapping technology to identify new species and landforms deep beneath the sea. But, they also want to observe the effects humans have on the deep sea environment. They will be trying to measure the presence of plastic pollution and possible effects of climate change.

Limiting Factor crew already have seen evidence that pollution is affecting places considered untouched. In May, they saw a plastic bag at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest point in the world's oceans.

The manned submersible emerges from the water after a dive off the coast of the island of St. Joseph in the Seychelles, Monday April 8, 2019. For more than a month researchers from Nekton, a British-led scientific research group.
The manned submersible emerges from the water after a dive off the coast of the island of St. Joseph in the Seychelles, Monday April 8, 2019. For more than a month researchers from Nekton, a British-led scientific research group.

Dan Laffoley is a marine expert for the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a group based in Switzerland. He said exploration of the Earth's living space is extremely important. He added, "…over 90 percent of that living space is in the ocean and most of that ocean is unexplored."

Laffoley said it is urgent, during a time of change, "…that we get people down there, we get eyes in the ocean and we see what's happening."

The Nekton scientists will combine their observations with an earlier study of the deep Indian Ocean last year. They plan to present their findings in 2022.

I'm Mario Ritter, Jr.

James Brooks wrote this story for AP. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted it for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

Do you think deep sea exploration is important for our knowledge of Earth? Let us know in the comment section below.

Quiz - Scientists Aim to Explore Area of Life 1000 Meter Under the Sea

Start the Quiz to find out

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Words in This Story

thrive –v. to grow and develop successfully

compartment –n. a separate area within a vehicle

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<![CDATA[Snowless French Ski Area Considers Future in Warming World]]>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/2020/02/16/2743/

France is experiencing an unusually moderate winter, which has led to low snowfall in ski areas across the country.

One affected ski area is Le Mourtis, in the Pyrenees mountains of southern France. The lack of snow has forced the resort to temporarily close its ski runs -- at the height of the winter season.

Local restaurants and hotels are seeing fewer visitors. People who do come to the area are seeking to do other things besides skiing. Warmer temperatures have made hiking one of the most popular activities.

Recent daytime temperatures at Le Mourtis have reached 10 degrees Celsius. Some hikers even removed winter clothing while making their way across mountain areas containing very little snow.

"Skiing? No one today can guarantee it," said hotel operator François Gillaizeau. "If the snow is not here, we have to sell something else." He has been making money by renting out two-wheeled scooters to help visitors in the area have fun.

The scooters can be ridden down grassy mountain hills. They come with equipment made for riding on snow, but Gillaizeau has attached bicycle wheels instead.

A general view shows the ski resort of Le Mourtis, with ski slopes closed due to lack of snow, in Boutx, France, February 10, 2020. (REUTERS/Regis Duvignau)
A general view shows the ski resort of Le Mourtis, with ski slopes closed due to lack of snow, in Boutx, France, February 10, 2020. (REUTERS/Regis Duvignau)

His ski rental equipment remains untouched. He says he has had to reduce the hours of some workers and expects business losses during the season to drop as much as 15 percent.

Many people in the area believe the latest winter is more than just a bad year. The last time France experienced such a mild December and January was in 1900, French weather officials say.

Christelle Robert is an official with Meteo-France, the country's national weather service. She told Reuters that mild winters and less snow seem to be a clear sign of global warming.

Scientists have predicted a continued rise in world temperatures. People connected to the area's ski industry are considering a future with much less snow. If such weather continues, ski resorts around 1,600 meters above sea level will be so warm that they will not even be able to use artificial snow because it will melt.

Some of the higher Pyrenees resorts did receive enough snow recently to open for business. But the Le Mourtis resort sits at 1,350 meters, putting it in a so-called melt area.

"It's the second year in a row that we've had no snow," said Laurent Morel, a visitor from the city of Toulouse who was walking on the mountainside with his family. "We love the mountains so we come anyway."

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Reuters news agency reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report 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.

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Words in This Story

ski v. to move over snow wearing skis (a pair of long, think pieces of wood of plastic worn on the bottom of boots

resort n. a place where many people go for vacation

hikingn. go for a long walk in the countryside or mountains

rent v. to pay to use something for a short time

scooter n. a small vehicle that has wheels attached to a long board and handle

mildadj. not extreme

globaladj. relating to the whole world

artificial n. not natural, but made by people

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<![CDATA[Scientists Make Jellyfish Faster]]>John Russell如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Researchers have used very small electronic devices to make jellyfish stronger and faster.

The scientists say they developed these electronic jellyfish in the hopes of sending them to study and explore the world's oceans.

A report on the experiment was published in the journal Science Advances.

The study

Jellyfish are unusual creatures. They move through seawater by contracting, or reducing the size of, their muscles.

For the experiment, the researchers put an electronic device, about 2 centimeters in length, inside a moon jellyfish, a common kind of jellyfish.

The researchers said the device caused the creatures to move their bodies more often. They swam around three times faster than usual. These jellyfish use "10 to 1000 times less external power per mass than other aquatic robots reported in literature," noted Nicole Xu and John Dabiri, the two lead authors of the report.

Jellyfish are known to release mucus at times when they are tense or feeling stressed. No such reaction was noted during the study. The jellyfish swam normally after the electronic device was removed, the researchers said.

"Care is taken not to harm the jellyfish," Dabiri explained.

The future

The next step will be to test ways to control where the jellyfish go. Another possible step: to develop small sensors that could take long-term measurements of ocean conditions, added Xu and Dabiri.

"It's very sci-fi futuristic," said Xu, a bioengineer at Stanford University in California. "We could send these bionic jellyfish to different areas of the ocean to monitor signs of climate change or observe natural phenomena."

One of the first goals will be deep dives, added Dabiri, who studies mechanical engineering and serves as a professor at the California Institute of Technology. Deep dives are important because of a major gap in human understanding of the deep oceans.

"Basically, we'd release the bionic jellyfish at the surface, have it swim down to increasing depths, and see just how far we can get it to go down into the ocean and still make it back to the surface with data," he said.

"Jellyfish have existed for over 500 million years, and over that time, their body structure has remained largely unchanged, said Xu. "So it's interesting to figure out what makes them so special and how we can learn from them."

She added, "Because we use animals with natural swimming motions, the hope is that they won't disturb the environment in the same way that a submarine might, so we can expand the types of environments we can monitor."

I'm John Russell.

Will Dunham reported on this story for Reuters. John Russell adapted his report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

aquatic – adj. living or found in or near water

author n. the writer of a book or report

mucus – n. a thick substance that is produced in some parts of the body (such as the nose and throat)

sci-fiadj. short for science fiction, a story based on imagined improvements in science or technology and major changes in society or the environment

phenomenon – n. plural phenomena; something (such as an interesting fact or event) that can be observed and studied and that typically is unusual or difficult to understand or explain fully

gap – n. a hole or space in an object or between two objects

disturb – v. to interfere with the normal operation of something; to change the position, arrangement, or order of (something)

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

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<![CDATA[Many South Africans Welcome a Vegan Lifestyle]]>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:
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Vegetarianism is growing in popularity in a lot of countries.

And now, South Africa is one of them.

Today, more and more South Africans are experimenting with the vegetarian way of life by cutting all meat out of their diet.

Others are exploring veganism. Vegans are similar to vegetarians but they avoid all animal-based products, including milk and eggs. Some vegans do not eat honey.

A Google Trends report puts South Africa at 14th around the world in searches for the word 'vegan,' the only African nation to be listed so high.

There is no official count of how many vegans there are in South Africa. But the interest has led to the birth of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Johannesburg, the nation's economic center. And this year, Africa's first big vegan and plant-based festival launches in Cape Town. The Vegan & Plant Powered Show takes place at the end May.

When VOA News spoke with some new vegans in South Africa, they gave moral and health reasons for giving up meat and animal products.

Dayalan Nayagar is 41-years-old and works as a financial advisor. He says he decided to change his diet in 2019 after being a meat-eater his whole life.

'And I got introduced to this whole new way of eating, you know healthy, eating organic-type food from plants and I couldn't believe it. Like I said, [it] blew my mind and I got fully involved into it and haven't turned back.'

But the owners of one of Johannesburg's newest and most popular vegan eateries say vegans do not owe anyone an explanation.

Banesa Tseki is one of two owners of Nest Space, a vegan café and yoga space.

She says people have given her warnings about veganism. For example, someone told her she would "definitely die."

"All I'm trying to do is live a life that's sustainable for me and that makes me happy."

Her business partner, Anesu Mbizvo, is a medical doctor. Mbizvo says science supports a vegan diet. Both she and co-owner Tseki teach yoga and said they feel stronger and better since cutting meat from their diet.

Traditional values

But veganism can be a lonely road for many South Africans.

The country is Africa's top consumer of meat from cows, pigs and sheep, based on information from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Many South Africans express shock at the thought of giving up meat, which is central to celebrations and spirituality.

This is an issue for many African vegans, including Anesu Mbizvo.

'In African culture, a big part of a family's net worth is their livestock. Their livestock define the wealth of a family. And so when you slaughter an animal at a gathering, it's seen as you giving of yourself.'

But offering home-grown vegetables, she added, would not be considered as valuable.

She said, "I think that's one of the barriers to veganism for people of African cultures.'

But she also understands giving up meat can have undesirable effects on some lives.

Her father heads a large farm in Zimbabwe and employs many members of the community. If he cut out his meat business, she says, all of those people would lose their jobs.

Gradual transition

Some South Africans are finding their path somewhere in the middle.

Thirty-one-year-old Thandiwe Ngubeni is a communications specialist. She still eats meat — but less and less of it as time goes by. When VOA spoke with her, she was at the Nest Space awaiting a food order of vegan pancakes.

'I feel way more energized when I eat a vegetarian or vegan meal. It actually just gives me more energy."

Ngubeni said the vegan food does not cause a heavy feeling in her stomach.

Tseki – the co-owner of Nest Space – has been vegan since 2017 and supports the slow method. She said there is no right way of cutting back on meat and animal products. Doing so has a lot of benefits but it's "a choice only you can make."

I'm Alice Bryant.

Anita Powell reported this story for VOA News. Alice Bryant adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

honey n. a thick, sweet substance made by bees

introduce v. to cause someone to learn about or try something for the first time

blew my mindexpression. to overwhelm a person with intense excitement, pleasure, astonishment or dismay

yogan. a system of exercises for mental and physical health

sustainableadj. able to last or continue for a long time

livestockn. farm animals that are kept, raised, and used by people

slaughter v. to kill an animal for food

pancaken. farm animals (such as cows, horses, and pigs) that are kept, raised, and used by people

benefitn. a good or helpful result or effect

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<![CDATA[WORDS AND THEIR STORIES - Wearing Clothes Made From Goat Hair, and Other Ways to Show You Are Sorry]]>Kelly Jean Kelly如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Now it's time for Words and Their Stories -- our weekly program about common, everyday expressions in American English.

During the next few weeks, many people in South America will celebrate Carnival. It is a time of music and dancing. The party ends before the Christian observance of Ash Wednesday, which this year falls on February 26.

Ash Wednesday has a very different feeling than Carnival. It is meant to be a day of prayer, sorrow and asking for forgiveness.

In American English, guilt or sadness is often expressed by the symbol of ashes – the gray matter left over from a fire. For example, if you are feeling really bad about something you did, you might say you are wearing sackcloth and ashes.

The phrase is repeated in several places in the Bible, the Christian holy book. The word "sackcloth" refers to a kind of clothing that feels rough on the skin. It was sometimes made of goat hair. Wearing something made of sackcloth was a sign that a person was trying to punish himself.

As for the ashes part, the willingness to be touched by dirty material showed that a person was humble and that he understood he would someday die.

Yes, the image is pretty serious. You can use the expression in a somewhat serious way, too. Let's say you forgot that you invited your boyfriend or girlfriend to a special birthday date. Your beloved waited for you, for hours, crying, in the rain. Much later, you sit up in bed and remember your missed appointment.

You immediately call your partner and say that you are so sorry. You promise to wear sackcloth and ashes for the rest of the month.

Of course, you do not really have to put on a shirt made of animal hair. But you could show you are sorry in a different way. Maybe you cook your partner dinner every night for a week, or buy a meaningful gift.

You can also use the phrase "sackcloth and ashes" in a sarcastic way. This means you say it, but do not really mean it. Let's say you have done some very small bad thing, like borrowed your co-worker's coffee cup without asking. And now, she won't let you forget it. Every time you walk by, she holds her cup close to her and gives you an angry look. She also tells all your other co-workers not to trust you with any of their supplies, such as pens or plastic spoons. At the next team meeting, she asks your boss for a lock so she can keep her cup safe from you. "Okay, okay!" you might say. "I'm sorry! Do I have to wear sackcloth and ashes?"

Your angry co-worker just might say yes. She is clearly enjoying raking you over the ashes. In other words, she repeatedly brings up a past mistake. The phrase calls to mind a fire that has almost gone out, but that can be started again with a little effort.

Of course, being sarcastic is not always a good idea. It rarely makes other people want to forgive you. You would probably be better off apologizing honestly to your co-worker. But saying something nice when you are angry can be difficult. The sweet words might turn to ashes in your mouth. In fact, as an expression, anything can turn to ashes. A hopeful feeling, a relationship – maybe even your job if your co-worker keeps complaining about you – all can dry up and disappear.

Fortunately, most things can also rise from the ashes. In other words, what was thought to be dead or destroyed can return to life, often in a new and better way.

That is a good image to remember during periods of difficulty or loss. Usually, the situation does not last. In time, things get better, and you might soon find yourself playing music and dancing again.

And that's Words and Their Stories.

I'm Kelly Jean Kelly.

Kelly Jean Kelly wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Words in This Story

humble - adj. not proud : not thinking of yourself as better than other people

spoon - n. an eating or cooking tool that has a small shallow bowl attached to a handle

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<![CDATA[Valentine's Traditions: Korea, Wales, Argentina and the US]]>Jill Robbins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/2020/02/15/9022/

The United States celebrates Valentine's Day each year on February 14. Images of hearts are everywhere, as are red roses and boxes of chocolates to give to that special person. You could say that "love is in the air."

Many other countries celebrate Valentine's Day, too, each in their own way. Here is a look at four countries' Valentine's Day traditions.

South Korea: three is a charm

For South Koreans, Valentine's Day happens in three parts: February 14, March 14 and April 14.

On February 14, women traditionally give men gifts of chocolate to show their affection. One month later, on a holiday known as White Day, men show their thanks by giving women a sweet gift. The name "White Day" comes from the mostly outdated custom of giving white-colored gifts.

And, let's not forget Black Day on April 14. Single people who did not get gifts on February 14 or March 14 often gather on Black Day to eat Jjajyangmyeon noodles with black bean sauce.

Wales: land o' love spoons

Unlike many European countries, Wales does not celebrate Saint Valentine. It has its own Saint of Love. Her name is Saint Dwynwen. The Welsh holiday is called St. Dwynwen's Day and takes place on January 25.

The traditional romantic gift on this day is a love spoon. Beginning in the 17th century, Welsh men carved beautiful wooden spoons as a representation of their love for that special person in their lives. Each pattern has a different meaning. For example, horseshoes mean good luck; keys represent the key to a man's heart; and wheels are a sign of support.

Today in Wales, love spoons are also given at weddings, births and other celebrations.

Argentina: a week of sweets

Argentina celebrates Valentine's Day in February, but also gives a whole other week to love in July. They call it Sweetness Week. If you kiss someone, they have to give you a sugary treat.

Sweetness Week started in 1989 with a candy company called Arcor. They made an advertisement called "Candy for a Kiss." The idea was to give the company's chocolates and other candies in exchange for a sweet kiss on the cheek. The campaign had a stronger effect than the company expected -- it led to a new holiday!

Every July, couples who take part give each other candies and kisses all week long.

United States: female friends

Finally, we turn to the United States.

Galentine's Day, February 13, began as a made-up holiday on an American television show, Parks and Recreation. In one part of the show in 2010, the show's main character, Leslie Knope, said Galentine's Day is about "ladies celebrating ladies." So, the day is a celebration of friendship between women.

Today, women use the holiday as a time to go out and have fun with female friends, co-workers or family members, or to show their love for personal female heroes.

On Galentine's Day in 2020, for example, Michelle Obama thanked her girlfriends who support her through life's ups and downs.

I'm Jill Robbins.

And I'm Alice Bryant.

Alice Bryant and Jill Robbins wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Words in This Story

affection – n. a feeling of liking and caring for someone or something

saint – n. a person who is officially recognized by the Christian church as being very holy because of the way he or she lived

spoon – n. an eating, cooking or decorative tool that has a small shallow bowl attached to a handle

pattern – n. a repeated form or design especially that is used to decorate something

key – n. a small device that is used to open a lock on a door

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

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<![CDATA[Foreign Dancers Train in Samba at Brazilian Carnival]]>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:
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Jessica Hahn-Chaplin smiles for cameras while wearing the beautiful yellow clothing and high heel shoes of passista samba dancers. She is in Rio de Janeiro to study the techniques of passistas through the Paraiso do Tuiuti samba school.

In Rio and other cities across Brazil, the weeks before Carnival are filled with the lively rehearsals and parades of samba schools. All of it is in preparation for the big day itself, which happens this year on February 23.

Paraiso do Tuiuti has been a home of Carnival culture for people in the working-class area near central Rio for over 60 years. But Hahn-Chaplin is not from Brazil. She comes from Bristol, in England.

The 31-year-old is part of a movement of foreigners who come to Brazil each year to train in the ways of samba dance. During Carnival season, these dancers spend a month or more at the samba schools. At the world-famous celebrations in Rio, they will dance for more than an hour through the massive Sambadrome parade space. Each year, 70,000 people fill the seats to enjoy the show. Tens of millions of people watch the television broadcast from their living rooms.

After the parade, the non-Brazilian dancers return to their home countries and share their passion for samba.

In this Jan. 15, 2020 photo, performers of the Paraiso do Tuiuti samba school practice in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
In this Jan. 15, 2020 photo, performers of the Paraiso do Tuiuti samba school practice in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Samba dance classes

During classes, students dressed in athletic wear can be seen moving their feet in the quick samba steps as their arms make circles. Their hips go to the right and left as they keep their heads and shoulders as still as possible. Doing these things well together is important to the dance form.

On the floor in front of the dancers lies a soft, thin object which they must avoid touching with each step as their teacher calls out the tempo.

These are no classes for beginners. All foreigners have passed a difficult exam to join this high-level course and train with Brazilians who have danced samba since childhood. The course is free. But leaving their jobs for long periods is not. It is evidence of their loyalty to samba.

Once a week, the students join the full Paraiso do Tuiuti for a rehearsal on the road leading up to the school. Passistas and drummers, all wearing yellow clothing, temporarily turn the dark street into a small Sambadrome.

"It is very intimidating," Hahn-Chaplin told the Associated Press about dancing as a foreigner in front of several hundred people at rehearsals. "We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make the mark."

Unlike dances from other Latin American countries, samba has largely stayed inside Brazil's borders but has become hugely popular in recent years. These days, samba schools are being launched throughout the world as far away as Australia and Russia.

Samba's music and dance have roots in Africa, specifically Angola and Congo. The custom started in what is now Bahia State, in northeastern Brazil, then spread throughout the country.

In this Jan. 27, 2020 photo, Rie Tankana dances during a rehearsal of the Paraiso do Tuiuti samba school in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
In this Jan. 27, 2020 photo, Rie Tankana dances during a rehearsal of the Paraiso do Tuiuti samba school in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Foreigners at Rio's Carnival

Back home in England, Hahn-Chaplin works as a language teacher and also teaches dance. In Rio de Janeiro, she is one of 15 foreigners who came to study this year with teacher Alex Coutinho. The best dancers join Paraiso do Tuiuti in its official parade on February 23.

Coutinho, who is 30, said foreign participation in Carnival grows every year, with dancers returning again and again to learn the latest moves.

"Samba dancers, as with any other profession, need to recycle themselves. Every year, there will be a new thing: a different arm move, a different step," Coutinho said. "They come here, do classes and return to their countries with the skills to pass on to their students. They're propagating our culture."

Hahn-Chaplin, for example, dances samba every year in Bath, England. Another dancer, Sashya Debrito, heads a samba school in Australia and performs shows in Sydney. She says samba gets more popular there every year.

Rie Tankana came all the way to Rio from Japan, where she performs at Tokyo's yearly Carnival celebration.

"It's happiness in my life. It's healing," said Tankana, who is 33 years old. When she is not dancing, she is a jobs recruiter in Osaka.

A 2019 video of Tankana in Kobe, Japan, shows her front and center, leading a group of Japanese samba dancers with shiny wings on their arms.

She first found Paraiso do Tuiuti School on Instagram in 2019 and is participating for the first time this year.

I'm Alice Bryant.

Anna Jean Kaiser reported this story for The Associated Press. Alice Bryant adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

rehearsal – n. an event at which a person or group practices an activity to prepare for a public performance

passion – n. a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something

hip – n. the part of your body between your waist and legs on each side

tempo – n. the speed at which a musical piece is played or sung

drummer – n. a person who plays a drum or set of drums

intimidating – adj. having a frightening, overawing or threatening effect

recycle – v. to use something again

propagate – v. to make something, such as an idea or belief, known to many people

recruiter – n. a person who finds suitable people to join a company

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<![CDATA[Thousands Trapped on Cruise Ship in Japan Over COVID-19 Virus Fears]]>Kelly Jean Kelly如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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What is being kept in a small space because of the new coronavirus like? Passengers on a vacation trip in the western Pacific Ocean know very well.

They are on the Diamond Princess, a huge, cruise ship that is quarantined in the Japanese port of Yokohama.

More than 200 passengers on the ship have been infected with the new coronavirus, COVID-19. Health officials have reacted by keeping about 3,500 passengers on the ship. They are waiting until existing cases can be treated, and other passengers are cleared of the disease.

The number of cases from the ship is the largest group of infections in the world outside of China.

The Associated Press spoke with passengers and looked at their communications on social media.

Some people are making the best of it

Even during the quarantine, Cheryl and Paul Molesky appeared to still be on vacation.

In this image from a video taken on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, Paul Molesky and Cheryl Molesky are interviewed through Skype in their cabin room on the Diamond Princess, anchored at a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo.
In this image from a video taken on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, Paul Molesky and Cheryl Molesky are interviewed through Skype in their cabin room on the Diamond Princess, anchored at a port in Yokohama, near Tokyo.

The two Americans from Syracuse, New York, can be seen in YouTube videos relaxing, often in bathrobes. They appear to be enjoying themselves looking at the ocean and snow-covered Mount Fuji in the distance.

"We try to have an upbeat presentation…we're not hurt, we're not in pain...we're actually just enjoying ourselves," said the 78-year-old Paul Molesky.

Fifty-nine-year-old Cheryl Molesky spends several hours each day answering emails and texts and preparing their YouTube videos.

She said they are concerned when a new group of cases is announced. But she added there was little they could do: "We decided to make the most of every day."

Less space and room to move

One Japanese man in his 30s, who did not want to give his name, said he spends his days mostly taking pictures of each meal. He then posts them anonymously on Twitter.

"All I can do is to wait and tweet," he said.

The ship has restaurants and many forms of entertainment, but they are mostly closed. Passengers now mostly must stay in their rooms.

Less costly rooms on the ship are not much wider than a double bed. Pictures posted on the ship's website show that there is space only for a desk chair. The least costly rooms do not have windows. The larger rooms are about 20 square meters or less.

People on the ship must clean their own rooms and clothes. Contact with the crew has been limited since the first 10 cases were confirmed in early February.

For many, the days now center on food service. One crew member wearing a mask and gloves hands out the plates, another provides other things needed for the meal, while another notes names and room numbers.

The boat has added more movies and TV channels to try to help with the boredom. People without balconies are permitted to walk outside for about an hour each day. They must keep two meters apart, however, to avoid spreading the virus. Passengers talk and wave to each other from their balconies.

For the Japanese man on the ship, the food is one of the biggest problems. "I miss Japanese food," he said.

Some people are afraid

A recent video posted on Twitter shows a group of men wearing masks and what appears to be the clothing of kitchen workers. One man, identified as Binay Kumar Sarkar, says, "We are scared. We appeal to the Indian government and the United Nations to help us."

Members of Japan Self Defense Forces walk into the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess in the Yokohama Port Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Yokohama, Japan.
Members of Japan Self Defense Forces walk into the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess in the Yokohama Port Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in Yokohama, Japan.

Some of the crew members who got infected with the virus are restaurant, bar or housekeeping workers. They most likely had contact with passengers until those services were closed.

"Until the quarantine started, everything was business as usual, and everyone was freely moving around," said Kazuho Taguchi. He is director of global health cooperation at Japan's health ministry.

Crew members still share rooms, as the number of cabins for them is limited, Taguchi said. But, one crew member said he had been isolated in his room two days after he reported a pain in his throat.

"Everyone on the ship is scared. Many people are falling sick, and now the crew's getting sick too," he said. While he waits for test results, he has been reading all the news and communicating with friends and family.

Officials in Japan say isolating people on the ship is one way to prevent the disease's spread. Other experts argue the measure could create more infection.

Reiji Goto is a doctor at Diayukai General Hospital in Ichinomiya. He told TBS television: "More and more people are getting infected while they are trapped on the ship, which is not good for disease prevention."

Tara Smith is a professor who studies infectious diseases at Kent State University's College of Public Health in the United States. She said a hospital, not a ship, is the best place to keep people quarantined. Smith added that she has concerns about new infections and the passenger's mental health.

For some, however, the fear might be worse than the virus. Many people, for example, do not show strong signs of infection with the COVID-19 virus.

On Thursday, an Australian mother and daughter spoke to Australia's Nine Network television from a Japanese hospital. The two said officials took them off the ship after a test showed that the daughter, Bianca D'Silva, was infected with the new coronavirus.

She said health workers put her in a wheelchair covered with a protective material.

Bianca and her mother, Suzanne, said they were both briefly sick, but feel fine now.

"Honestly, it just felt like your everyday cold," Bianca said. "I had a bit of headache before and just a slight fever but that's about it, honestly," she added.

I'm Kelly Jean Kelly. And I'm Mario Ritter, Jr.

The Associated Press reported this story. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted it for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

Words in This Story

quarantined –adj. being kept apart from others in order to prevent a disease from spreading

anonymously –adv. not named or identified

boredom –n. the state of being bored, of not having anything to do of interest

balcony –n. a raised area on the side of a building or ship that lets a person step outside from a room in a tall structure

isolated –adj. apart from others

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<![CDATA[What are ‘Cheapfake' Videos?]]>John Russell如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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An edited video of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has raised questions about social media and political campaigns in the United States.

The video was produced last week after President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech. The video shows Pelosi repeatedly tearing up a printed copy of the speech while the president spoke.

Trump posted the edited video on Twitter.

Pelosi did tear the pages of her copy of the speech. But she did so only after Trump finished speaking – not during the address as the video shows.

Pelosi's office asked Twitter and Facebook to take down the video. Both companies refused to do so.

Researchers worry the video's "selective editing" could mislead people.

"Selective editing" is a term for editing or changing videos in a way that does not show what really happened. Such recordings are sometimes called "cheapfake" videos.

Researchers fear the number of "cheapfakes" could increase if social media companies do not identify or make rules about such videos.

The United States has a long history of political candidates showing their opponents in a negative light. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams attacked each other in newspaper advertisements over 200 years ago.

In 1960, John F. Kennedy's campaign used an ad showing different images of Richard Nixon sweating and looking weak.

In some ways, the edited video of House Speaker Pelosi is not unusual. What is different now, says Clifford Lampe, is how widely such videos can spread in such a short time. Lampe is a professor of information at the University of Michigan.

"The difference now is that the campaigns themselves, the president of (the) U.S. himself, is able to disseminate these pieces of media to the public," he said. Lampe added that political candidates "no longer" have to work "with media outlets."

Facebook, Google and Twitter have reported on their efforts reduce disinformation on their services. The hope is to avoid some of the backlash created by social media misinformation during the U.S. elections four years ago.

But the video of Pelosi does not violate existing policies, both Twitter and Facebook said.

Facebook has rules that ban what are known as "deepfake" videos. Such videos use artificial intelligence, or AI, technology to make it seem like someone "said words that they did not actually say."

Researchers say the Pelosi video is a "cheapfake" video, a video that has been changed without the use of AI.

Cheapfakes are much easier to create and are more common than deepfakes, notes Samuel Woolley. He is director of propaganda research at the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas.

The Pelosi video is "deliberately designed to mislead and lie to the American people," Pelosi deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill tweeted last week. He criticized Facebook and Twitter for not taking down the video from the social media services.

Andy Stone, who works for Facebook, reacted to Hammill's comments on Twitter. Stone wrote, "Sorry, are you suggesting the President didn't make those remarks and the Speaker didn't rip the speech?"

Speaking with The Associated Press, Stone confirmed that the video did not violate the company's policy. In order to be taken down, the video would have had to have been created with newer, more advanced technology. It would have also possibly tried to show Pelosi saying words that she did not say.

Twitter did not remove the video either. It pointed toward a blog post that says the company plans to start identifying tweets that contain "synthetic and manipulated media." The new policy will take effect on March 5.

U.S. law does not say much about cheapfakes. Social media companies generally police their own websites.

A law, section 230 of the Communication Decency Act, protects technology companies from most legal action related to the information posted on their sites.

Most social media companies now ban violent videos and videos that could cause real-world harm. In recent years, Facebook, Twitter and Google's YouTube have received criticism about offensive videos that have appeared on their sites. The companies sometimes remove the videos. Other times, they leave the videos on their sites, pointing to the right to freedom of expression.

The future of misinformation through social media is unclear. Jennifer Grygiel, an assistant professor at Syracuse University, called for laws to better govern social media in cases of political propaganda.

However, this proposal has some weaknesses, she admits. One difficulty is that the "very people who will be regulating them [social media sites] are the same ones using them [social media sites] to get elected."

I'm John Russell.

And I'm Ashley Thompson.

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

Words in This Story

edit v. to change or amend something for publication

page – n. a piece of paper

negative – adj. showing or talking about the bad qualities of someone or something

sweat – v. to release small, wet droplets from the skin

disseminate – v. to cause (something, such as information) to go to many people

backlash – n. a strong public reaction against something

deliberately – adv. in a way that is meant or planned

chief of staff – n. the top officer of a service

synthetic adj. not real; related to a copy of a natural product; untrue or false

manipulate – v. to operate in a skillful way; to control of influence something unfairly

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

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<![CDATA[ASK A TEACHER - How Can I Improve My English Pronunciation? (Part 2)]]>Jill Robbins如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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Many people write to us here at VOA Learning English with this question:

Question:

How can I improve my English pronunciation?

Answer:

Last week on our program, we talked about setting realistic goals. That means, you do not have to sound exactly like a native English speaker. You can keep your accent and still communicate clearly. We also talked about learning the rhythm of English.

Today we will talk about three things you can do to sound more like a native speaker.

Watch and listen to yourself

A good place to start is to watch and listen to videos and other programs recorded in English.

For example, choose a story from our website. Listen to the recording while looking at the words. Make a note of any words you think may be hard to say, and then say them aloud. Play the audio again and read along. Then record yourself reading it slowly and clearly. Listen to your recording. Are you speaking loudly enough? As an English speaker, speaking more slowly than you normally do and speaking loudly with confidence can make it easier for others to understand you.

Take 'Selfie Videos'

You can also learn how to improve your pronunciation by taking selfie videos. Record a few sentences. Watch the video and ask yourself: Is my voice loud enough? Did I say all of the words clearly? Next, ask an English-speaking friend to listen, or try reading the story for a friend.

Listen to your dictionary

Our final piece of advice is to listen to recordings from an online dictionary. Try using a dictionary app, like the Merriam-Webster Learners' Dictionary, which gives you the correct pronunciation in an audio file.

Click on the small picture

(it looks like a speaker) to play the sound of the word.

You can also use a website like Google Translate. Type in a word, then click on the small picture to hear the pronunciation.

If you click it a second time, it will play more slowly so you can hear each part of the word clearly.

What else do you do?

Now you have heard our suggestions for sounding more like a native English speaker. What do you tell your friends about improving your pronunciation? Write to us and tell us your own advice. Our email is learningenglish@voanews.com

And that's Ask a Teacher!

I'm Jill Robbins.

Dr. Jill Robbins wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

pronunciation – n. the way in which a word is said

accentn. a way of saying words that is common among the people in an area or country

rhythmn. a regular, repeated order of sounds or movements

confidencen. a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something

filen. a collection of computer data or other information stored in an electronic device

click – v. to press or strike a button on a control device

type v. to write something on a computer or typewriter

Do you have a question for the teacher? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

]]>
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<![CDATA[EVERYDAY GRAMMAR - A Common Form: Be + Adjective + Infinitive]]>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/2020/02/14/9109/

On a recent Everyday Grammar program, we talked about the phrase "be willing to." For example, you might say, "She was willing to travel during the rainy season." The adjective "willing" belongs to a group of more than 30 adjectives that are followed by infinitive verbs.

You probably remember that the infinitive form of a verb is "to" plus its simplest form. In the sentence about the woman, the infinitive verb is "to travel."

Adjectives followed by infinitives are the subject of today's Everyday Grammar program.

Generally, the adjectives in this group describe a person or people, not a thing. Many of them describe a person's attitude toward or feeling about something.

Listen to two sentences and decide which sounds better:

I am happy to see you.

I am happy seeing you.

If the first sounds more natural, it is probably because you have heard infinitive verbs after the adjective "happy" many times in English. In the example, the infinitive is "to see."

If the second sentence – "I am happy seeing you" – sounds strange, it is because we don't use gerunds after "happy." A gerund is a verb that ends in –ing, such as "seeing." The grammar of "I am happy seeing you" is incorrect, but the listener might still understand your meaning.

"Happy" follows the structure be + adjective + infinitive. Other adjectives in this group include: easy, hard, careful, prepared, good, relieved and difficult.

Are you careful to check if the sign says 'walk' or 'don't walk' before you cross a busy street?
Are you careful to check if the sign says 'walk' or 'don't walk' before you cross a busy street?

A short exercise

Next, I have Jill Robbins joining me to demonstrate the grammar with a short exercise. Jill, I'll ask you a question and you answer it using an adjective followed by an infinitive verb. Are you ready?

Yes, I'm ready.

Here's the first one:

Alice: Crossing busy streets in D.C. can be dangerous. What are you careful to do before you cross the street?

Jill: I am careful to put away my phone before I cross the street. I am also careful to check whether the sign says "walk" or "don't walk."

Good job! You used the adjective "careful" plus the infinitive verbs "to put away" and "to check" in your answer.

I noticed you used the adverb "also" in your second sentence. That's great! Adding an adverb is common in be + adjective + infinitive phrases since we often use them to express attitudes and feelings.

Let's do another:

Alice: I noticed that you worked long hours yesterday. When you got home last night, what were you relieved to do?

Jill: I was relieved to take off my shoes. I was also relieved to sit down for dinner. Later, I was ready to sleep.

Very good! You used the adjective "relieved" followed by the infinitives "to take off" and "to sit down."

And I used the adjective "ready," which also belongs to the group of adjectives we're discussing today. I followed it with the infinitive "to sleep."

Yes! And you used the past tense of "be," which is "was."

After working a long day, you would probably be relieved to sit down for dinner. 'Relieved' belongs to a group of adjectives followed by infinitives.
After working a long day, you would probably be relieved to sit down for dinner. 'Relieved' belongs to a group of adjectives followed by infinitives.

Let's do one more:

Alice: Some things in life are easy to do and some are hard to do. What is something that is hard to do?

Jill: It is really hard to change a habit.

You're right about that! It is hard to change habits.

Jill used the adjective "hard" followed by the infinitive verb "to change."

Notice that she started this sentence with the pronoun "It." When we use "it" in this way, the pronoun is not the true subject of the sentence. The true subject is the infinitive verb, but we do not speak this way. Consider these two examples. Which sounds more natural?

It is hard to change a habit.

To change a habit is hard.

The sentence "It is hard to change a habit" sounds more natural, even though the true subject is "to change."

In English, we rarely begin sentences with infinitive verbs, except in some kinds of writing, such as poetry and other forms of literature.

By the way, if we wanted to write the sentence another way, we could replace the infinitive subject "to change" with the gerund "changing." Then the sentence becomes: "Changing a habit is hard," and "changing" is the subject of the sentence.

But for today's lesson, what's important is knowing you will see and hear sentences with be + adjective + infinitive everywhere. And they sometimes begin with the pronoun "It."

What can you do?

So, what can you do to practice?

Here's one idea: Try to become familiar with the 30+ adjectives that are followed by infinitives, without trying to memorize them. I will provide the list on our website.

Then, the next time you hear those adjectives in real life, in a song, on television or in a movie, listen for the structure we talked about today. Try to make note of the example in your phone or a notebook.

You can also practice writing your own sentences and using them when you speak English to friends or practice partners. With time and practice, you will be delighted to use the structure whenever you speak or write English.

I'm Alice Bryant.

And I'm Jill Robbins

Alice Bryant wrote this story for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

Reference

Below is a list of the most common adjectives followed by infinitives.

amazed angry awkward careless clever crazy delighted difficult disappointed easy

funny generous glad happy hard horrified impossible lucky kind nice

proud relieved ridiculous rude selfish silly sorry strange stupid surprised wise

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<![CDATA[Robot Leads Human Musicians in Orchestra Performance]]>Bryan Lynn如果想下载文章的MP3声音、PDF文稿、LRC同步字幕以及中文翻译等配套英语学习资料,请访问以下链接:
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A robot has led human musicians during a live performance in the United Arab Emirates.

The robot, called Alter 3, has a human-like face and two long arms.

Video from the recent performance in the Emirate of Sharjah showed the machine turning to face orchestra members and waving its arms. Alter 3 even sang at times.

The performance was an opera called "Scary Beauty," created by Japanese composer Keiichiro Shibuya. He told Reuters news agency that the robot acted as the conductor by setting the speed and sound level of the performance.

Shibuya said the involvement of robots in the everyday lives of humans is continually increasing. But, he said he thinks people will need to decide in the future how artificial intelligence, AI, can best improve the human experience.

Shibuya added that he believes humans and robots can learn to work together to create beautiful art. "This work is a metaphor of the relations between humans and technology," he said.

Shibuya noted that sometimes the music-leading robot can "get crazy," making it difficult for the musicians to keep up. But other times, the humans and machines cooperate very well.

Shibuya said the robots and AI that exist today are "far from complete." He is interested in studying how such incomplete technology can be combined with art.

From those who witnessed it, the performance drew mixed reactions. "I think this is a very exciting idea...we came to see how it looks like and how much is possible," said Anna Kovacevic.

Another attendee, who gave his name only as Billum, said after the show: "You know, a human conductor is so much better." Although he said he is interested in AI and looks forward to big developments, he noted of the project: "the human touch is lost."

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Reuters reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English, with additional information from Tokyo's New National Theater. Mario Ritter, Jr. 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

orchestra n. a large group of musicians who play different instruments together

composer n. someone who writes music

conductor n. person who leads a group of musicians or singers

artificial intelligence n. the development of computer systems with the ability to perform work that normally requires human intelligence

metaphor n. a way of describing something by comparing it with something else that has some of the same qualities

crazy adj. extremely enthusiastic or excited

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<![CDATA[Maryland State House Reveals Statues of Anti-Slavery Activists]]>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/2020/02/14/0636/

Statues of historical figures have been the subject of much debate in the United States in recent years. The debate has centered mainly on statues of individuals linked with the Confederacy, the losing side of America's Civil War in the 1860s. Among other things, the Confederacy fought for the right to continue enslaving people with African origins.

Now, the state of Maryland has revealed statues of two famous anti-slavery activists, or abolitionists. They are Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. Lawmakers presented the statues to the public during a ceremony Monday night in the Maryland State House.

A bronze statue of abolitionist Harriet Tubman is seen during a private viewing ahead of its unveiling at the Maryland State House, Monday, February 10, 2020, in Annapolis.
A bronze statue of abolitionist Harriet Tubman is seen during a private viewing ahead of its unveiling at the Maryland State House, Monday, February 10, 2020, in Annapolis.

The life-sized statues were dedicated during a special joint session of the Maryland General Assembly in the Old House Chamber. That is the room where lawmakers agreed to end – or abolish – slavery in the state in 1864.

House Speaker Adrienne Jones is the state's first black and first female House speaker. In a prepared speech, she spoke of the importance of Tubman and Douglass and their fight against oppression.

"The statues are a reminder that our laws aren't always right or just. But there's always room for improvement," Jones said.

Tubman and Douglass

The statues, dedicated during Black History Month, were made to show Tubman and Douglass as they would have appeared in age and dress in 1864.

Both Tubman and Douglass were born on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Tubman escaped from slavery to become a leading abolitionist. She helped slaves escape using an organized group of anti-slavery activists called the Underground Railroad.

Douglass also escaped slavery. He went on to become a writer, speaker, abolitionist and supporter of women's rights. He wrote and published the story of his life in 1845. It was a bestseller that helped fuel the abolitionist movement.

Reporter Bryan Sears, left, takes a cellphone photograph of a bronze statue of abolitionist Harriet Tubman during a private viewing ahead of its unveiling at the Maryland State House, Monday, February 10, 2020, in Annapolis, Maryland.
Reporter Bryan Sears, left, takes a cellphone photograph of a bronze statue of abolitionist Harriet Tubman during a private viewing ahead of its unveiling at the Maryland State House, Monday, February 10, 2020, in Annapolis, Maryland.

The statues are not the only recent example of the state taking steps to demonstrate its rich black history.

Last month, a portrait of a black female former lawmaker took the place of one of a white governor who had been on the wall for 115 years. The painting of Verda Welcome, who was elected to the state Senate in 1962, is the first portrait of a black person on the Maryland Senate's walls.

Maryland also has removed painful reminders of its past in recent years. In 2017, the state removed a statue of Roger B. Taney, the U.S. Supreme Court justice and Maryland native. Taney wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that permitted slavery to continue and denied citizenship to African Americans.

I'm Pete Musto.

Brian Witte reported this for the Associated Press. Pete Musto adapted it for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

origin(s) – n. the place, social situation, or type of family that a person comes from

dedicate(d) – v. to officially make something a place for honoring or remembering a person or event

remindern. something that causes you to remember or to think about something

portraitn. a painting, drawing, or photograph of a person that usually only includes the person's head and shoulders

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<![CDATA[Smiling Japanese Man Is World's Oldest]]>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/2020/02/14/2898/

A Japanese man who believes in smiling has become the world's oldest male, Guinness World Records reports.

Chitetsu Watanabe was born in Niigata in northern Japan in 1907. He received a certificate recognizing him as the world's oldest man Wednesday at a healthcare center in the city. It confirmed he was 112 years and 344 days old.

The former record holder was Masazo Nonaka, another Japanese, who died last month. The oldest living woman, Kane Tanaka, is also Japanese. She is 117 years old.

Until about 10 years ago, Watanabe did bonsai, the Japanese traditional art of growing small sculpted trees. His work appeared at shows.

These days, he loves eating desserts, such as sweet custards, Guinness said.

Watanabe attended an agricultural school, and completed a study program there. He then moved to Taiwan to work at Dai-Nippon Meiji Sugar.

He lived in Taiwan for 18 years. He and his wife Mitsue had five children, Guinness also reported.

After the end of World War II, Watanabe returned to Niigata, Japan. He worked for the local government until retirement. He also grew fruit and vegetables on the family farm.

Asked about the secret to his long life, Watanabe says: Don't get angry and keep smiling.

I'm Susan Shand.

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

Words In This Story

certificate n. an official document

sculptv. to form a shape from marble, wood or other product

dessert – n. sweet food eaten at the end of a meal

custard n. a creamy sweet dessert

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<![CDATA[The Democrats' New Leading Candidate Against Trump]]>Kelly Jean Kelly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/2020/02/13/5629/

The Democratic Party has a new leading candidate to challenge President Donald Trump for the White House this November. Senator Bernie Sanders won the party's primary contest on Tuesday in the U.S. state of New Hampshire.One of the top two winners of the New Hampshire primary usually goes on to become the Democratic candidate for president.

Sanders also had a strong finish last week in the state of Iowa.

But some moderates in the party are not happy with Sanders' left-leaning views. They are looking for another candidate to hold Sanders back.

In New Hampshire, former mayor Pete Buttigieg at first seemed to be the favorite to win. But he ended up splitting the moderate vote with Senator Amy Klobuchar, leaving Sanders in front.

Former Vice President Joe Biden fell behind badly in both New Hampshire and Iowa. He is the only moderate with strong backing from African-American and Latino voters. He has promised to fight on at least until the end of February. At that time, some states with large groups of non-white voters will hold primaries.

All the candidates are also getting ready for another face. Former mayor Michael Bloomberg did not compete in Iowa and New Hampshire, but he will be on the ballot in a number of large states in March. Bloomberg is a billionaire who is paying for his own campaign.

These early primaries show that the battle for the Democratic nomination could go on for weeks or even months, observers say. Whoever pulls ahead as the moderate candidate could become very important to the election.

What does Sanders' victory mean?

At the end of Tuesday night's primary in New Hampshire, the total votes for moderates Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Biden were 53 percent. The two more liberal candidates, Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren, received a combined 35 percent. Many believe this is a sign that most Democrats prefer a moderate candidate that could get more votes in the general election.

While Sanders got less than 30 percent of the vote in New Hampshire on Tuesday, his thin victory has given him momentum.

Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan from Wisconsin is a Sanders supporter and the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He believes the party will back Sanders if he keeps winning and proves that his message is popular with voters.

"I think everyone understands that he's got a message that is appealing to a lot of people," said Pocan.

Sanders has focused on turning out non-white voters, young voters and new voters. He has a strong chance to win on February 22 in Nevada. Biden is still hoping that South Carolina's large African-American population will return him to the front of the race.

I'm Kelly Jean Kelly.

The Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

Words In This Story

momentumn. the strength or force that allows something to continue or to grow stronger or faster as time passes

caucus n. a group of people who work together for a shared, usually political goal

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<![CDATA[At Home with Australian Couple who Protected Baby Kangaroos from Fires]]>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/2020/02/13/9577/

Even as a bushfire threatened the rural Australian community of Wytaliba, Gary Wilson and his partner Julie Willis decided not to flee their wooden house.

The two had a home full of orphaned baby kangaroos to protect.

More than 10 of the baby kangaroos -- called joeys – stayed safe inside fabric pouches that hung in the couple's living room. Each piece of cloth looked like the opening in which mother kangaroos carry their young.

Wilson and Willis have taken care of wild animals before. Recently, full-grown kangaroos and other wildlife that had left their care long ago came back to the house in search of protection as the fires grew nearer.

"We had way too many animals in the house and around the house so we really couldn't go,' Wilson told the Reuters news agency from his home. 'We decided we were going to stay and fight." Their home is now surrounded by burned land and vehicles.

"At three o'clock it was a beautiful summer's day, by four o'clock it was midnight," Wilson said. "You couldn't see any more than 20 yards [18 meters] and then the firestorm came through and pretty much burned everything."

Wilson and Willis defended their home for at least 14 hours with fire extinguishers and water pumps. Their house also had a special device on top that sprayed water on hot ashes falling on the property.

Good preparation -- and very good luck -- helped the building stay safe. And the motherless animals have survived. But the November fire that hit the small community killed two of Wilson's neighbors.

"It was a horrible thing,' Wilson said. 'The whole bush has been burnt. It's been vaporized."

Willis said she had never seen such fierce fires. She said most animals -- such as possums, gliders, lizards and even many birds -- were not fast enough to escape.

She said, "It's not until after the fires when it really hits you how close you were to dying...but at the time you are too busy trying to put the fire out."

Australia's bushfire season has killed over 30 people and an estimated 1 billion native animals since September. About 2,500 homes have been destroyed, and more than 11.7 million hectares of dry bushland have been burned through.

While Wilson and Willis usually care for joeys that are rescued after their mothers are struck by vehicles, they are now welcoming an increasing number of fire orphans.

Willis said the joeys will one day be released into the wild.

She said, "We didn't have children ourselves; this is what we spend our time doing. We think it's worthy - a worthy cause - looking after our babies no matter what they are..."

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

orphaned –adj. not having a mother or father

pouch –n. a pocket of skin that acts like a container for baby animals in marsupial mammals

midnight –n. the middle of the night, 12 a.m.

extinguisher –n. a device that can put out fires

spray –v. to send out a stream of water or liquid in a wide area

vaporized–adj. to be turned into a gas, to be completely destroyed

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<![CDATA[Samsung Launches New Foldable 'Flip' Phone, 5G Devices]]>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/2020/02/13/5577/

Samsung Electronics has launched a new foldable phone and several new 5G devices.

Samsung announced the telephone and other products during an event Tuesday in San Francisco, California. The new phone is called the Galaxy Z Flip. It goes on sale February 14 and has a starting price of $1,380.

When open, the Galaxy Z Flip is similar in shape and size to most smartphones. When closed, the phone collapses down to half its size, in the shape of a square.

The Galaxy Z Flip is the company's second foldable phone. Samsung launched its first model, the Galaxy Fold, last year. That phone closes up over the middle and opens up to the size of a small tablet.

People look at different Samsung Galaxy S20 5G phones displayed at the Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
People look at different Samsung Galaxy S20 5G phones displayed at the Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Technology critics have noted design problems with the Galaxy Fold, which also experienced delays in production. There were also reports that screens on some of the first Folds began breaking after just a few days of use.

Samsung says the Z Flip's screen is made of a glass-like material. The Galaxy Fold device had a plastic screen.

When the Z Flip is closed, users can still see the time, take selfies and be notified of messages. It can be set up in different positions for taking pictures, watching videos or typing.

Rebecca Hirst is a marketing director at Samsung Electronics. She said at the launch event that the new phone marks a "giant step forward" for the company. "We're changing the shape of the future with the Galaxy Z Flip. This is no ordinary smartphone – it changes everything," Hirst said.

Rebecca Hirst, head of UK Mobile Product Development, speaks in front of a photo of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip Phone at the Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Rebecca Hirst, head of UK Mobile Product Development, speaks in front of a photo of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip Phone at the Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Last year, China's Huawei launched a foldable smartphone called the Mate X. And, Motorola recently began selling its own flip phone model, called the Razr. The device sells for $1,499.

The foldable phones represent an attempt by manufacturers to energize a market where sales have slowed. Many people are holding onto their old phones longer, in part, because new phones can be costly. In addition, critics say the new products do not necessarily offer major upgrades in performance.

Technology experts say since the new foldable models are pricey, they are likely to appeal only to a limited market.

TM Roh, President and Head of Mobile Communications Business, holds a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G phone while speaking at the Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
TM Roh, President and Head of Mobile Communications Business, holds a Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G phone while speaking at the Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Paolo Pescatore studies the mobile phone market for PP Foresight. He told The Associated Press that while there has been "a lot of excitement" around foldable phones, the devices are likely to go through many changes in coming years.

At its product event this week, Samsung also announced three new versions of its Galaxy S smartphone line. The phones include the S20, S20 Plus and S20 Ultra.

All the S20s promise upgraded cameras and will connect to wireless 5G. 5G is the next generation of wireless technology. It promises much higher internet speeds.

The S20 phones will go on sale in the United States on March 6, with prices from $1,000 to $1,400.

A woman holds a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip Phone displayed at the Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A woman holds a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip Phone displayed at the Unpacked 2020 event in San Francisco, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Samsung was the top smartphone company in the world last year. But Apple took the number one position in the December quarter, the research service IDC reported.

Apple's rise came after a drop in pricing for the iPhone 11 helped the company enjoy its best growth since 2015.

Samsung and Apple also face strong competition from Huawei, which finished a close third in market share in the final three months of 2019.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from The Associated Press, Reuters and Samsung. George Grow was the editor.

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

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Words in This Story

foldable adj. able to be folded or doubled over (bent in two so that one part lies flat on top of the other)

tablet n. a small computing device that is controlled by touching the screen or by using a special instrument

screenn. a flat area on an electronic device where images can be seen

type v. to write something using a keyboard

ordinary adj. not special, different or unusual

flip v. to turn or make something turn onto a different side

upgrade n. an improvement to something to make it better or higher quality

quarter – n. any three-month period

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