Wildlife Convention Protects Animals Great and Small

from VOA
Wildlife Convention Protects Animals Great and Small

Delegates from around the world met this week in Johannesburg, South Africa to discuss how to stop the trade in endangered animals.

Representatives from 183 countries attended the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species conference, known as CITES.

Pangolins are mammals found in Asia, India and Africa. They eat insects. Hunters catch pangolins and sell them for their meat and their scales. Some cultures believe the scales can be used in medicine.

They are the most illegally traded animal in the world.

While CITES often deals with the protection of large animals like big cats, elephants and rhinoceroses, it also pays attention to smaller animals.

One of the first agreements to come from the convention was to reclassify all eight species of pangolins. They are now in the most protected group of animals. This means the CITES considers them in danger of extinction.

John Scanlon is the CITES Secretary General. He said they used to call the pangolin “little-known.” But in recent years, Prince William spoke out against the pangolin trade.

Scanlon said he is pleased a famous person brought attention to the pangolin. But he noted that there are still hundreds of small, unknown animals that need help.

“But, we’ve got the snakes here, we’ve got the lizards here, we’ve got the frogs here. And some really interesting ones, the earless monitor [lizard], the Titicaca frog, the psychedelic rock gecko; there are some really interesting animals there that nobody’s paid much attention to.”

Dan Ashe is the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He said it is hard to make people aware of strange animals.

“We’re dealing with things like the Delhi Sands flower-loving fly or the Houston toad. These are things which often the public questions, ‘why is this important, why should we save this?"

Jen Creamer is president of Animal Defenders International. She said even a cockroach has a “strange sort of beauty.” Events like CITES provide the chance for discussion of all sorts of animals.

“With certain species it takes time to realize that they’re in trouble.”

One of the species Ashe is happy to see thriving is a small fish called the Oregon chub. It took nearly 20 years to bring the fish’s population back to strong levels.

The Titicaca water frog is another endangered animal that could use the support of a prince, or even a movie star. The Peruvian animal faces the threat of fungal infection and predatory fish.

I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.

Anita Powell wrote this story for VOANews.com. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

What do you think of the efforts to protect these animals? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.


Words in This Story


endangered – adj. used to describe a type of animal or plant that has become very rare and that could die out completely

mammal – n. a type of animal that feeds milk to its young and that usually has hair or fur covering most of its skin

scale – n. one of many small thin plates that cover the bodies of some animals (such as fish or snakes)

psychedelic – adj. suggesting the effects of psychedelic drugs by having bright colors, strange sounds, etc.

predatory – adj. an animal, fish or insect that lives by eating others

aware – adj. knowing that something (such as a situation, condition, or problem) exists

reclassify – v. to reconsider an arrangement of people or things that have already been grouped by ways they are alike


'Achievement Gap' Closing Slightly for Young Students in U.S.

'Achievement Gap' Closing Slightly for Young Students in U.S.

 United States President Barack Obama sits with 3- and 4-year-old students in a pre-kindergarten class at Powell Elementary School in Washington, DC, March 2014.

United States President Barack Obama sits with 3- and 4-year-old students in a pre-kindergarten class at Powell Elementary School in Washington, DC, March 2014.

It is no surprise that within many education systems, wealthier students often test better than poorer students.

To education experts this is often called the “achievement gap.”

What is a surprise is that, in the United States, the achievement gap seems to be closing, at least a little. That result surprised researchers at Stanford University in California.

Sean Reardon is a professor of poverty and inequality in education at Stanford. He studied children and how they prepare for kindergarten classes. He also looked at how their preparation has changed since the 1990s.

Kindergarten programs are for boys and girls before they enter first grade. At this level, children need to demonstrate simple counting, an ability to listen and language skills. They need to be able to focus on a project and act responsibly in a classroom.

Reardon found that from 1998 to 2010 the achievement gap closed a small amount. He said it was not a huge change. The important thing, he said, is that the gap is closing.

One way to reduce the gap is to offer pre-kindergarten programs to very young children.

Education experts and some politicians have long pushed for pre-kindergarten classes for all young children. In fact, it has been a promise heard on the political campaign trail -- universal pre-kindergarten classes for all 3- and 4-year-olds.

Such classes are already being offered in some areas around the United States, including the U.S. capital, Washington, D.C. In fact, education reformers may want to look to Washington as a role model.

Vincent Gray is a former mayor of the District of Columbia. When Gray was chairman of the D.C. Council, he wrote the legislation for universal pre-K. His measure gave parents of all children in Washington the choice to begin school at either age 3 or 4.

“We’ve always had some form of early childhood care in the District of Columbia, for decades. But what we didn’t have was universal access. And I did the legislation in 2009 as Chairman of the Council to get it done. And then when I became the mayor, when I was sworn in in 2011, it gave me an incredible opportunity to be able to fully implement the legislation. The reason why I did it is that I believe that the opportunity to learn in a formal sense should not wait until a child is 5 years old.”

Gray says he made sure the legislation was in effect and fully enforced during his four years as mayor. He was defeated for re-election, but is now a candidate for re-election for a seat on the D.C. council.

Today, most of Washington’s youngest children are in school. Gray explains that the pre-K programs are not a requirement in the city. Parents can still choose what is best for their family. But many parents are choosing education.

"We now have in the District of Columbia, we have over 80 percent of our 3-year-olds that go to school. And I might add, it's not mandatory. You’re not required to put your child in school. But virtually no parent at this stage is saying ‘I don’t want my child in school.’ They want them in school because there’s not a cost associated with it, other than the cost of them not having the opportunity to learn. And then we have 94 percent of our four-year-olds who go to school all day. We have essentially reached universality.”

Pre-kindergarten classes for 3- and 4-year-olds offer hope for many youngsters. It is more than learning the ABCs or counting to 100. These classes give the youngest students the chance to learn how to listen, develop social skills, and interact with others.

However, there are theories that say a child does not need schooling at the age of 3 and 4. If we are looking at test results, Finland beats the United States and most other countries in mathematics, reading and science. Yet Finnish children do not start school until age 7.

Perhaps there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Perhaps different children need school at different times.

Generally, wealthier parents have more financial resources to help their children. Educated parents -- wealthy or not -- may know how to use the resources that are available to them. For example, they may take their children to free events at a public library or recreation center. Washington, D.C. also has many museums with free admission.

Perhaps children who grow up with these types of activities don’t need to start attending school at age 3. However, children who are growing up in what Vincent Gray calls socio-economically challenging situations may not have access to such activities. For some families, he says, starting school at age 3 can be a game changer.

“It’s especially important for kids who may the victims of an achievement gap, especially important for kids who are in socio-economically challenging situations.”

Pre-kindergarten classes do more than educate the child. They also bring parents and caregivers into the schools. This point of contact, explains Gray, is a valuable time to educate families.

A federal study found that, overall, parent involvement increased with such contacts. But it increased even more among low-income parents. It shows schools offer a place where conversations with these parents can happen.

I’m Anna Matteo.


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


Words in This Story


focus v. to direct your attention or effort at something specific

universal adj. done or experienced by everyone : existing or available for everyone : existing or true at all times or in all places : - n. universality

campaign trail n. a route that takes a candidate for office to different places in order to talk to people during a campaign <The candidates talked about the people they met on the campaign trail.>

role model n. a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others

incredible adj. extremely good, great, or large

implement v. to begin to do or use (something, such as a plan) : to make (something) active or effective

mandatoryadj. required by a law or rule

virtuallyadv. very nearly : almost entirely

associatedv. to combine or join with other parts

essentiallyadv. basically

library n. a place where books, magazines, and other materials (such as videos and musical recordings) are available for people to use or borrow

socio-economically adv. in a way that relates to, or involves a combination of social and economic factors

challenging adj. difficult

game changer n. an element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way


Study: Do Fitness Trackers Help You Lose Weight?

October 03, 2016 from VOA
Study: Do Fitness Trackers Help You Lose Weight?

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

We begin with bad news for people who bought a wearable fitness tracker in hopes of losing weight.

A new study finds the electronic device probably does not help with weight loss.

The study was a project of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

Fitness trackers are designed to record your physical activity. They are usually worn around the wrist, where they measure a person’s heart rate.

The University of Pittsburgh research team looked at two groups of individuals. The first wore a fitness tracker and took part in health counseling. In other words, they spoke with nutrition and physical fitness experts to consider the best weight loss plan.

The researchers compared this group with people who only took part in health counseling.

The study found that those who simply had health counseling lost more weight than those who had counseling and wore a fitness tracker. In fact, those who only spoke with the health experts lost nearly six kilograms. Those who used a fitness tracker lost only 3.5 kilograms.

John Jakicic is the lead researcher. He is also chairman of the university’s Department of Health and Physical Activity. He questioned the use of electronic devices as tools for weight control in place of “effective behavioral counseling for physical activity and diet.”

The study involved 470 subjects between the ages of 18 and 35. Some of them were overweight, while others were heavier and considered obese. Over three fourths of the subjects were women, and 29 percent were minorities.

The researchers told all the subjects to increase their physical activity. The men and women also were told to start on a low calorie diet.

The subjects were told to have their weight measured once every six months over the two-year study.

After six months, researchers divided the group into two parts: one continued with monthly counseling, while members of the other group were given a wearable fitness tracker.

Eighteen months later, both groups "showed significant improvements in body composition, fitness, physical activity, and diet,” with no major difference between groups.

However, when it came to losing weight, the people who spoke with experts lost nearly twice as much weight.

Jakicic said the study’s findings “are important because effective long-term treatments are needed to address America's obesity epidemic.” He warned that “questions remain regarding the effectiveness of wearable devices.”

More information is needed, he adds, to learn how to best use these devices to change “physical activity and diet behaviors” in adults who want to lose weight.

The researchers published their findings in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

I’m Anna Matteo.


Matthew Hilburn reported this story for VOANews.com. Anna Matteo adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

fitness ­– n. the quality or state of being fit

tracker – n. a device that is aware of a fact, progression or condition

counseling – n. advice and support that is given to people to help them deal with problems, make important decisions, etc.

calorie – n. a unit of heat used to indicate the amount of energy that foods will produce in the human body

composition – n. the way in which something is put together or arranged : the combination of parts or elements that make up something

journal – n. a magazine that reports on things of special interest to a particular group of people


Scientists Explore Underwater Volcanoes

October 02, 2016 from VOA  
Scientists Explore Underwater Volcanoes

What covers nearly 29 million square kilometers of this planet beneath the sea?

The answer is seamounts.

Seamounts are mountains, usually volcanoes, that rise up from the sea floor. Some of the volcanoes are ancient, some are still active. But they are hard to find because they do not reach the surface of the water.

Scientists say seamounts cover more of the earth’s area than deserts, tundra, or any other land-based habitats. Marine life gathers at seamounts because they carry nutrient-rich water upward from the sea floor.

In September, a group of scientists set out to explore Cook Seamount. It rises almost 4,000 meters from the Pacific Ocean floor about 160 kilometers off the island of Hawaii. Humans have never seen it up close before.

The Associated Press went with the scientists, and provided exclusive images and information about this seamount and the marine life around it.

"Pisces V surface you're going in. Roger, going in."

Three people went in a submarine down to over 900 meters below the ocean surface to the top of the seamount. As the blue waters became darker, underwater creatures that glow, by chemically creating their own light, began to swim past the submarine.

The scientists dove below the level where sunlight can reach.

They spotted some wonders-- like a rare octopus with big fins that look like elephant ears. One even changed colors as it swam by the submarine.

The scientists also found several kinds of deep sea corals on the seamount’s sides. These included a possible new species of violet-colored coral they named “Purple Haze.”

Conservation International and the University of Hawaii worked together for the trip to Cook Seamount.

Greg Stone is the lead scientist with Conservation International. He spoke to AP news service on the ship.

“This three day expedition is the start of an effort to survey seamounts throughout the Pacific Ocean over the next five years. And we hope to study a total of 50 seamounts.”

He said humans know very little about seamounts, but they are a “key part” of what drives the ocean. Stone said he wants to find out what is living on the seamounts and how they support ocean life.

“From that, we will understand ocean health, and ocean health relates directly to human health.”

M. Sanjayan is Executive Vice President of Conservation International. He told AP that there are “10,000, maybe 100,000” seamounts across the world’s oceans. He called them “hotspots for marine diversity,” and because most have not been explored, he expects that they will see things new to science when they get there.

Sonia Rowley is a researcher at the University of Hawaii who is taking part in the project. She will be studying the samples taken from Cook seamount.
University of Hawaii researcher Sonia Rowley logs coral samples taken from deep ocean seamounts during an expedition to unexplored underwater volcanoes off the coast of Hawaii's Big Island on Sept. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)
University of Hawaii researcher Sonia Rowley logs coral samples taken from deep ocean seamounts during an expedition to unexplored underwater volcanoes off the coast of Hawaii's Big Island on Sept. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

“They were really magnificent actually, there were these huge structures that were going like tens of hundreds of meters high, and then on the edges they were kind of encrusted in many places with this beautiful purple Gorgonian sea fan.”

Cook seamount is an extinct volcano, which means it is not active anymore. It is part of a group of undersea volcanoes known as the Geologist Seamounts, that are about 80 million years old and could hold many new animal species. They could also contain elements such as nickel and cobalt that mining companies could extract.

One of the other two seamounts studied on their trip was Lo'ihi, an active volcano.

Lo'Ihi has been studied by manned submersibles over the past 30 years.

The scientists saw an “old friend” on Lo’Ihi—a shark they had seen there before. They also saw a two-meter long eel and a number of new geological formations around the volcano’s crater.

Scientists say Lo'ihi could someday be the newest island in the Hawaii chain as volcanic activity pushes the seamount upward. But do not look for it to break the surface of the water any time soon. Estimates are that it will not be for tens of thousands of years, if ever.

I’m Anne Ball.

Caleb Jones of The Associated Press wrote the exclusive report. Anne Ball adapted his story for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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



Words in This Story

exclusive –adj. not available anywhere else

habitat –n. a kind of place where certain kinds of animals and plants live and grow

marine –adj. having to do with the sea

virtually –adv. through digital technology rather than physically

encrusted –adj. covered, overgrown

crater –n. a round hole at the top of a volcano or caused by the impact of a meteorite


Meltwater Lakes in Antarctica Show Signs of Trouble

October 01, 2016 from VOA  
Meltwater Lakes in Antarctica Show Signs of Trouble

Antarctica is home to the largest ice mass on Earth.

The continent sits on 14 million square kilometers of rock. About 98 percent of the land surface is covered by ice.

Beautiful lakes have begun to appear on the top of the ice. They look like islands of deep blue in an ocean of white. These lakes are called supraglacial or meltwater lakes.

Although the lakes can be beautiful, the ones scientists studied are a sign of trouble. Amber Leeson is a scientist with Lancaster University in England.

"We really weren't expecting to find lakes as far inland as 20 kilometers, which was the furthest inland lake we found during the study. And it was important that we found the link between the atmospheric temperature and the depth, number, and size of the lakes..."

Scientists say Antarctica has always had supraglacial lakes appearing on the ice during the summer months. But the more lakes there are, the more unstable they make the continent’s ice shelf.

Ice shelves are permanent, but floating pieces of ice that connect to the land. They form where a glacier or ice sheet reaches a coastline and into the sea.

Leeson says water from the lakes can drip down through the glacier, causing the huge river of ice and snow to weaken.

"If they form on the grounded ice, which is the bit of the ice sheet that sits on the bedrock, then the water they contain can drain away through the ice to the base, where it can lubricate the flow of the ice and make it flow a bit faster. If they form on the floating part of the ice, which is where the ice shelf extends over the ocean and begins to float on the sea, by repeatedly filling and draining they can actually weaken the ice shelf."

Leeson and other scientists believe that lakes are partly responsible for the collapse of the Antarctica ice sheets.

"...the Larsen B ice shelf collapsed in 2002 and we think that this is because it was covered in lakes in the years prior to collapse, and that by repeatedly filling and draining, they weaken the ice sheet, leading to its eventual disintegration..."

 And as temperatures rise, the team expects to see more and more lakes appearing in the continent. The scientists fear that all that meltwater could raise the world's sea levels.

I’m Marsha James.

Marsha James wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Her story includes information from an Associated Press report. George Grow was the editor.

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


Words in This Story

ice mass - n. a large piece of ice

supraglacial lake – n. any pond of liquid water on the top of a glacier

ice sheet – n. a very large and thick area of ice that covers a region

ice shelf – n. a floating sheet of ice permanently attached to a land mass

glacier – n. an large areas of ice formed from falling snow and building up over the years


US Brings Legal Action Against Chinese Company for North Korea Ties

2016-10-01 from VOA
US Brings Legal Action Against Chinese Company for North Korea Ties

The United States announced criminal charges and economic sanctions against four Chinese individuals and a Chinese company earlier this week.

The U.S. government said it acted to punish them for suspected support for North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

On Wednesday, a State Department official suggested that more Chinese companies and individuals could face investigation for suspected violations of sanctions on North Korea.

The State Department’s coordinator for Sanctions Policy, Daniel Fried, spoke to the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee.

He said, “It would also be useful if Chinese banks and companies understood that increasingly dealing with North Korean companies, especially those that are sanctioned, is going to be risky.”

Two days earlier, the Treasury Department announced criminal charges and economic actions against a Chinese seller of industrial machinery. It named four top officials of Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Developmental Company Limited (DHID).

The four include the company’s chairwoman, Ma Xiaohong. They are accused of plotting to avoid sanctions against North Korea, and using American financial businesses to hide the money they earned illegally.

Chinese officials also are investigating the company. They are looking at its connection with the Kwangson Banking Corporation, a North Korean bank. U.S. and United Nations have said the bank has provided financial services in support of North Korea’s weapons programs.

A State Department officials said, “This shows we can work cooperatively with China; we both see it in our interests to apply greater pressure on North Korea.”

On Tuesday, a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs official spoke to reporters about the U.S. action. Spokesman Geng Shuang said China was prepared to support U.N. resolutions against North Korea. The resolutions call for sanctions to punish the North for its nuclear and missile tests.

However, the spokesman expressed opposition to other countries using their own laws against companies or people within China.

“I want to stress that we oppose any country enacting so-called ‘long-arm jurisdiction,’ using its own domestic laws against a Chinese entity or individual,” he said.

In March, China agreed to the strongest U.N. Security Council sanctions yet to limit trade with North Korea.

The council's members have approved other actions to punish the country for its nuclear activities and missile program. Those restrictions have largely halted North Korean trade with countries other than China.

North Korea has faced severe international sanctions to punish the country for its nuclear activity and missile program.

Those restrictions have largely halted North Korean trade with countries other than China.

However, new research suggests that North Korean state-operated businesses are using middlemen in China to avoid sanctions.

I’m Mario Ritter.

This story was written from reports by Pete Cobus and Nike Ching for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

entity –n. a legal business or organization, something that exists by itself and is separate from other things

middlemen –n. people who buy goods from a producer and sell them to someone else


New Tech Tools Might Help Americans Choose a President

2016-09-30 from VOA
New Tech Tools Might Help Americans Choose a President

Six weeks remain until elections in the United States. Yet many Americans say they still do not know who they want as president.

Now, there are some new tech tools that might help them decide. Startup businesses are creating products that try to change behavior and increase political activity.

Brigade is one of those startups. The California-based company runs a social media site and mobile app. It did not even exist in 2012, when the U.S. held its last presidential election.

Brigade is a platform for debating and deciding political positions. Users can follow the political issues that interest them, such as gun rights, immigration or the environment.

Matt Mahan was a creator of Brigade and now serves as its chief executive officer. He says a few problems need to be solved to increase American civic involvement.

“We need to give people easy access to the information they need to make decisions, but we also need to embed that within their social lives, we need to make it part of the conversations they’re having with friends, and we need to create cultural norms around participating."

Brigade lets users debate issues and try to influence other people online. Users can also see how their opinions compare with other users as well as political candidates.

"I think that's kind of the point of democracy -- is to create this public square where people can discuss and debate their values, and their perspectives on issues and, ultimately, create trade-offs and come to a conclusion about what's the best way to move forward to kind of create the greatest good for the most people."

Crowdpac is another politically-minded technology company. It also did not exist at the time of the 2012 presidential election.

Gisel Kordestani is Crowdpac’s chief operations officer. The company is, in her words, “using technology to try to help the average citizen to connect and engage in politics.”

The Crowdpac website describes itself as the first crowdfunding site designed for politics. It provides information about individuals seeking public office. It also helps users find and support the candidates who share their opinions. And, it helps those running for office raise money. It does this through crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is the activity of raising money through small donations from a lot of people. Generally, crowdfunding takes place on the Internet.

Kordestani said technology companies are changing how Americans take part in politics by creating new ways for political participation. That is why, she thinks, politicians should look to Silicon Valley, America’s technology center.

“This region has just grown over the last four decades, has grown into not a powerhouse just in the U.S. but globally, in setting the technology, the platforms and the rules of engagement of society, for work, for the environment, globally.”

Kordestani said many tech companies in Silicon Valley also recognize the importance of working with politicians and the government to create positive changes.

I’m Caty Weaver.

Elizabeth Lee reported on this story for VOANews.com. George Grow adapted this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Words in This Story

startup – n. a new business

mobile – adj. able to move from one place to another

access – n. a way of getting at or close to something or someone

embed – v. to set or place firmly in something else

conversation – n. a talk or discussion

participate – v. to be involved with others in doing something

crowdfunding – n. the act of seeking donations from a large number of people, especially on social media or through a website

globally – adj. of or related to the whole world

platform – n. a structure where people or machines do work


David Titcomb: Transforming Classical Music at New York Orchestra

2016-09-29 from VOA
David Titcomb: Transforming Classical Music at New York Orchestra

That music is Symphony No. 2, known as the Resurrection Symphony. Austrian Gustav Mahler composed the piece in the late 1800s.

Classical musician David Titcomb feels strongly about the composer and his work.

“Mahler is just… It’s so evocative. It’s so emotional and maybe those are cheap thrills, but to me they are deep emotional works especially the Resurrection Symyphony.”

Music has filled Titcomb’s life from almost the start. An inspiring music teacher handed young David a trombone to play in elementary school. He could barely make a sound at that time. But, he stuck with it.

Titcomb studied music at the State University of New York, Purchase. He went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts degree at Yale University School of Music.

David Titcomb played the trombone professionally for more than thirty years. He says it was a difficult decision to stop playing and to do something else.

“When I had to decide to stop my career as a player and move on to just the organizing of an orchestra, it was my heart and soul to play in orchestras and after a 30 year career I think I had done my part and wanted to move aside, now I’m semi-retired I only play the trombone in my wife’s rock and roll band now, but for 30 years I was a member of the New York City Opera Orchestra and I also played very often with the Metropolitan Opera and various other freelance organizations and the New York City Ballet as well.”

Now, Titcomb is the Managing Director for the Philharmonia Orchestra of New York (PONY). The organization held its first performance last March. It hopes to bring new audiences to classical music. It aims to make performances higher tech and more affordable.

Titcomb praises the more than eighty orchestra musicians, describing them as among New York’s finest.

“The Philharmonia Orchestra of New York its comprised of many musicians who I have worked with over the last 30 years and many of them continue to work in the major companies at Lincoln Center including Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, New York City Opera and we came together shortly after the nuclear disaster and tsunami in Japan.”
Mahler Symphony No. 2 music is reflective of a project dear to David Titcomb’s heart.

David Titcomb has worked effortlessly along with PONY Principal Conductor Maestro Atsushi Yamada on bringing the Philharmonia Orchestra of New York and more than 100 choral students from Japan together to perform. The program is called Project Hand-in-Hand.

Project Hand in Hand aims to use performance to support disaster relief, cultural exchange, and education.

David Titcomb says it is a collaboration.

“With our good friend Atsushi Yamada whose our conductor who we worked with at New York City Opera back in the early 2000s and we started as the friends of Japan orchestra we played a concert actually it was Resurrection symphonies about a year after the disaster in northern Japan and we brought over 100 kids just to kind of show them that we were still paying attention and we wanted to give them some inspiration to continue to deal with their troubles and manage.”

The joint performance with the PONY musicians and Japanese high school choir also includes students from American universities.

Titcomb says the collaboration makes him happy.

“Bringing the kids over to play at Lincoln Center a lot of these kids have never been out of there prefecture let alone been on a jet into New York to perform at Lincoln Center. So seeing an orchestra of 90 players on the stage and making music together with a chorus of 200 that what makes me smile.”

Hand in Hand was created in response to the earthquake and tsumani in Japan. Earlier this year, Japan marked the 5th anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country in 2011. More than 18,000 people died or disappeared. The 9.0 magnitude quake struck offshore, creating a huge, powerful surge of water that rushed inland. Whole towns were destroyed in moments. And, the tsunami caused a major failure at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The result was the worst nuclear disaster the world had ever seen.

More than 150,000 people were forced to leave their homes. Many have not been able to return because of radiation danger.

David says just like the Resurrection Symphony No. 2 by Mahler the music starts dark and has feelings of loss and by the end of the symphony, it is a triumph resurrection and things are reborn. This is the hope David Titcomb and PONY have for the victims of the 2011 disaster in Japan.

I’m Marsha James.

Marsha James wrote this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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

Try this video quiz to test your understanding of the story.

Words In This Story

evocative adj. bringing thoughts, memories or feelings into the mind

thrill – n. a feeling of great excitement or happiness

resurrection – n. the act of causing something that had ended or been forgotten or lost to exist again

symphony – n. a long piece of music that is usually in four large, separate sections and that is performed by an orchestra

semi-retired – adj. working only part time at a career or job because you have reached the age at which you no longer need to work full-time

freelance – adj. working for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company

comprise – v. to be made up of something

triumph – n. a great or important victory

reborn – adj. brought back to life


American College Students Know Little of World Events

September 27, 2016 from VOA  
American College Students Know Little of World Events

Young people in the United States do not have a strong understanding of the world and their place in it.

Two U.S.-based groups, the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Geographic Society, commissioned an online survey earlier this year. They wanted to know what young people educated in American colleges knew about geography, U.S. foreign policy, recent international events, and economics.

In general, the results were not very good.

The bad news

The survey was given to over 1,200 Americans between the ages of 18 and 26 years. All of them currently attend, or formerly attended, a 2- or 4-year college or university.

The average test score, out of 75 total possible answers, was 55 percent.

The study identifies a few important questions that American students did not know about their own country.

For example, less than 30 percent knew that a treaty requires the United States to protect Japan if it is attacked. Only 30 percent knew that the only part of the U.S. government that can declare war is Congress.

The online survey produced findings that are similar to the findings of other recent studies.

The Internet

Part of the problem, say the organizers of the survey, is the Internet. They say it is becoming harder to get good information about what is happening in the world today.

Susan Goldberg is with the National Geographic Society. She says people never have to see anything that differs from their understanding of the world; many get their news from a newsfeed.

Forty-three percent of those questioned said they read about national and international news on Facebook.

Another problem is that classes do not require students to learn about international issues. That is the opinion of Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations.

"The problem is schools do not require that students take these courses to graduate," he said. "There is a fundamental difference between offering a course and requiring it."

If such information is not required, Haass said, then the United States could have leaders like Gary Johnson. Johnson is the presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party. He did not know about the Syrian city of Aleppo when a reporter asked him about it.

The good news

The survey results were not all bad. The young people who were questioned demonstrated a good understanding of climate change and renewable energy.

Even if the young people failed to understand many of the questions, the majority of them said that international issues were becoming more important to them.

Only two percent said that knowledge of foreign or non-U.S. cultures was not important. One percent said knowledge of world events was not important.

Haass says these findings suggest the need to find ways to get good information to students, both in school and online. To help, the Council on Foreign Relations is creating a new program called CFR Campus, designed to help build knowledge about global issues.

I’m John Russell.

Kevin Enochs wrote this story for VOA News. John Russell adapted this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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


Words in This Story

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

commission – v. to order or request (something) to be made or done

newsfeed – n. An electronic transmission of news, as from a broadcaster or an Internet newsgroup

online – adj. connected to a computer or the internet


Health Experts Warn of Overuse of Antimicrobials

Health Experts Warn of Overuse of Antimicrobials

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

For today’s report, we talk about the dangers, not of an illness, but of medicines -- antimicrobial medicines. Health experts are more and more concerned about the overuse of antimicrobials. A growing number of bacteria and other disease-causing organisms are developing resistance to these drugs.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says the growing resistance is a threat to people and animals alike.

The FAO recently noted an "increased use and abuse of antimicrobial medicines in both human and animal healthcare." It said their use and abuse has led to a growing number of disease-causing microbes that are resistant to traditional medicines.

FAO officials say this can be seen, for example, in multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. The problem is so serious that U.N. officials called a high-level meeting to consider the dangers of antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial resistance is also called AMR.

But just how widespread is antimicrobial use?

“We don't really know how much of the antimicrobials, including antibiotics, are being used in food and agriculture.”

Juan Lubroth is an expert on animal health. He serves as the Chief Veterinary Officer for the FAO. He says there are many unanswered questions about the manufacturing and marketing of antimicrobial drugs.

“In fact, we don't really know how much is being made. Who is buying? Who is selling? How much is the international traffic, either as drugs ready to be used or the active ingredient inside a drug that is then formulated someplace else?”

Doctor Lubroth says the overuse of antibiotics involves everything: humans, animals and agriculture get caught in what he calls a cycle of disease transmission.

“We can get sick. They can get sick. They can die. They need the antibiotics to be given in a proper way so they can recover. So, it's not only about food and agriculture. It's also about our dogs and cats, our mascots.”

Misuse of antimicrobials includes failing to follow directions and possibly taking someone else’s medicine. Lubroth admits that even he has misused antibiotics.

“Even I'm guilty. My physician may have given me antibiotics to take for the course of a week, seven days, and I stopped at day six. Well, that's bad. That's not good. That's a misuse of the antibiotics.”

Failure to follow directions when taking medicine is one way germs can develop a resistance to a drug.

The FAO says that antimicrobial medicines are critical in the treatment of farm animals and plants. "Their use," it says, "is essential to food security, human well-being and animal welfare."

Lubroth says the Food and Agriculture Organization has developed a four-part action plan for antimicrobial resistance.

“One is to create the awareness among the general public of the issue. Two would be to have the evidence. Have the surveillance in place that I can monitor when the antimicrobial resistance appears, and I report it in a timely fashion...”

The action plan calls for strengthening governmental agencies that deal with public health, food and agriculture. It also calls for sharing of information with each other and with medical experts.

Another part of the plan is to provide support for good practices in food and agricultural systems and the effective use of antimicrobials. Such drugs are often used in small amounts in animal feed to support growth. Once in farm animals, they become part of the food chain.

“I think that the consumers should be empowered to really push their governments or their food providers that they want safe food -- wholesome food. I think we can all agree on that. We may disagree on some of the specifics of how to get there, but I think that the consumer and the voice of the consumer has to be heard.”

Lubroth says "the long-term consequences of not being able to use an antimicrobials because of resistance” would be terrible. He adds that the medicines bring a "global public good to the planet."

I’m Anna Matteo.


Joe DeCapua wrote this report for VOANews.com. Anna Matteo adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

mascot – n. a person, animal, or object used as a symbol to represent a group (such as a sports team) and to bring good luck

consequence – n. something that happens as a result of a particular action or set of conditions

food chain – n. a series of types of living things in which each one uses the next lower member of the series as a source of food

empowered – v. to give power to (someone)

veterinary – adj. relating to the medical care and treatment of animals

ingredient – n. one of the things that are used to make a food, product, etc.

formulate to create, invent, or produce (something) by careful thought and effort

cycle – n. a recurring series of events: as

transmission – n. the act or process by which something is spread or passed from one person or thing to another

awareness – n. the state of knowing that something (such as a situation, condition, or problem) exists

surveillance – medical n. close and continuous observation or testing

fashion – n. manner or way of doing something









[ はじめに ]

[ 名前 ]
松井 清 (スラチャイ)

[ 略歴 ]
・99/10 タイ全土を旅行
・00/10 タイに移住
・03/07 カイちゃん誕生
・07/06 シーファーちゃん誕生

[ 座右の銘 ]
Slow and steady wins the race.

[ 学習の手引き ]
・Think in English.

seesaa100 英字新聞s HPs





01 あいさつ
02 別れのあいさつ
03 声をかけるとき
04 感謝の言葉と答え方
05 謝罪の言葉と答え方
06 聞き直すとき
07 相手の言うことがわからないとき
08 うまく言えないとき
09 一般的なあいづち
10 よくわからないときの返事
11 強めのあいづち
12 自分について述べるとき
13 相手のことを尋ねるとき
14 頼みごとをするとき
15 申し出・依頼を断るとき
16 許可を求めるとき
17 説明してもらうとき
18 確認を求めるとき
19 状況を知りたいとき
20 値段の尋ね方と断り方
21 急いでもらいたいとき
22 待ってもらいたいとき
23 日時・場所・天候を尋ねるとき
24 その他

01 あいさつ
02 別れのあいさつ
03 声をかけるとき
04 感謝の言葉と答え方
05 謝罪の言葉と答え方
06 聞き直すとき
07 相手の言うことがわからないとき
08 うまく言えないとき
09 一般的なあいづち
10 よくわからないときの返事
11 強めのあいづち
12 自分について述べるとき
13 相手のことを尋ねるとき
14 頼みごとをするとき
15 申し出・依頼を断るとき
16 許可を求めるとき
17 説明してもらうとき
18 確認を求めるとき
19 状況を知りたいとき
20 値段の尋ね方と断り方
21 急いでもらいたいとき
22 待ってもらいたいとき
23 日時・場所・天候を尋ねるとき
24 その他

01 雨の日にも傘をささないタイ人
02 勉強熱心なタイ人女性たち
03 タイ人は敬謙な仏教徒
04 タイの市場
05 タイの食堂
06 タイ人は外食が大好き
07 果物王国タイランド
08 タイ人の誕生日
09 タイの電話代は高い
10 微笑みの国タイランド



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Preliminary Japanese lessons for Thai students

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