Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The WHO admits it needs revamping

The World Health Organization is an international organization with representatives from over 130 different countries. One of the goals of the WHO is to detect (discover), limit and eliminate possible threats to public health. It seems safe to say that they failed in this goal in regard to the Ebola outbreak in Africa. 11,000 people have already died and about 25 more per week are dying.

'to revamp something' means to fix something up and make it better. 

An article on problems and upcoming changes to the WHO:


Vocabulary from the article:

to be unfit - to be unfit for something means not to be able to do something effectively or properly

capacity - the ability to get something done

a damning report - a super critical report

commissioned by the WHO - the WHO paid for the repot and aksed someone to complete it

the review panel - the group that wrote the report

to get on top of something - to effectively handle something (it's not a common expression)

an overhaul - to completely fix something; if your car is running badly, you might have to overhaul the engine

reform - complete or near complete change

to be overwhelmed - to have too much to do and not to be able to do it; this is a good term to commit to memory...i.e. How do you feel these days? To be honest with you, I am totally overwhelmed by my work. I am so stressed out!

it shook this organization to its core - it shocked the organization, it negatively affected the organization at every meaningful level

rapid - quick, fast

scaling up - increasing

up to speed - up to date, aware

severity - how serious a situation is

pandemic flu - flu that crosses the borders of different countries and starts spreading

a contingency fund - a large amount of money to be used in an emergency

an epidemic - when a disease spreads rapidly

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Political Corruption in New York: Congressman Grace Meng (personal experience)

Congressman Grace Meng with her father after he was sentenced to jail. When the father was arrested by the government she said, "I am independent of my father, always have been always will be." Yet, he seemed to be a major factor in her political career and she had called him her 'moral compass' while she was running for Congress.

Many of my students tell me they have heard that New York City and New York State are very corrupt but they want examples.  Well, I can always tell them my personal example of a bad experience I had with a politician who is now a Congressman - someone who makes the laws in Washington D.C.

This story not only demonstrates corruption but points to why it exists and why it is not being changed in New York City or New York State. Basically this person is openly supported, for some reason, by the New York Times, which has written glowing articles about her instead of doing hard, real journalism about her.

In 2010 I felt compelled to report the activities of a foreign company I was working for to the Korean press.  

All my allegations were true and verified – among them was the fact that vulnerable young female performers were placed (for housing) in illegal units above a business in rooms the City of NY classified as ‘perilous to life.’ Bloomberg (God bless him) went after this company bigtime and they were forced to pay over $30,000 to the city in fines and ultimately moved back to Korea. 

Here's one posting from the City of New York about a $10,000 fine:

Here is a story about NINE building code violationshttp://nwww.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20121017000844

These girls were not given health insurance by their company and the journalist for the newspaper discovered that the performers were brought into the country under the wrong visa and that the president of the company admitted it was ‘illegal’ to do this. To me, this looks like felony visa fraud and I am concerned about the fact that the US government never prosecuted this company for what seems to be visa fraud to me. Could it be that if you have political connections you can get away with visa fraud?

Apparently afraid I was going to release more info, the company hired a law firm which sent me an intimidating letter demanding a retraction of undisclosed defamatory content. I didn’t see any defamatory content and they didn’t specify anything specific. My impression was that these were bullies trying to shut me up. 

A Korean-American journalist told me that this firm was ‘politically connected’ and knew the governor (Patterson). Because I had received some of Meng’s political mail, I thought I could count on her for help.

She immediately got back to me and promised assistance. 

Nothing ever happened. I waited weeks. She did nothing.  

Months later, unbelievably, I learned that MENG WORKED FOR THE LAWFIRM THAT HAD THREATENED ME. 

Basically I was being threatened by my own State Rep and my State Rep didn’t see fit to mention this. 

So the clients of this firm violated almost every housing code in the books, putting girls in harm’s way through illegal construction, and they seem to have violated visa laws – via their own admission. 

My State rep blithely accepted this? Because she was getting money from the law firm that represented this company?  I went from thinking Meng would be my knight in shining armor to realizing there was another shady person in Albany.

But it gets weirder. After I discovered - accidentally - that she worked for the firm, the firm changed her status on their web page (I have screen shots).

Meng went from being a "Partner" in the firm to just being "Of Counsel".

When this happened, I had no idea where to turn. I contacted Albany and nobody there wanted to help (since Albany is the most corrupt legislature in America - still being run by Sheldon Silver at the time).

Frankly, the thought that Meng is in the Congress turns my stomach. It's like having Blajojevich in the Congress again. What further turns my stomach is that there seems to be a concerted PR effort to portray her as something she is not.

When she ran for Congress, for instance, her chief opponent was a Jewish politician. Suddenly, a Jewish guy affiliated with Meng also filed papers to run in the same election. His last name would easily be recognized by Jewish folks as being a Jewish name. So the strategy seemed to be that the group of Jewish voters in that district would split their vote into two and if all the Asian people in Meng's district voted for her, she would win. This is a form of racism and it was political corruption basically. Did the New York Times expose this? No. Other papers exposed this and then the Times wrote this: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/20/nyregion/gottlieb-quitting-house-race-in-queens.html?_r=0

Our system is badly broken if this can happen. Meng is a nightmare for democracy.

Daniel Gauss

Friday, July 3, 2015

Racial Segregation in the USA

{{{A data map of Detroit, showing that white people (blue dots) live in the north and black people (green dots) live in the south. Asian people are represented by red dots}}}

Segregation is when groups of people live or work separated from each other, usually because of their race or ethnicity.

The opposite word for segregation is integration. This is when different races and ethnicities live among each other, all mixed up.

New York City is a strange city because there are people from over 200 countries who live here, but people often live in segregated neighborhoods. For instance, most black and Latino people live in the northern area of Manhattan. The section of Manhattan below Central Park contains lots of white folks. There are some neighborhoods that are mainly Chinese - like Flushing, Queens or Bensonhurst, Brooklyn - and there is an Indian neighborhood called Jackson Heights. Immigrants tend to find the neighborhood (area of the city) where people of their race or ethnicity live and they move there.

If you look at the map of Detroit in the article, you will probably be shocked to see that black people live in the south part and white people in the north part.

Here is an article and a series of maps about how racially segregated the USA is. 



Vocabulary from the article:

race / ethnicity: if you are from China, your race is Asian, your ethnicity is Chinese. If you are white and from Poland, your race is white and your ethnicity is Polish. I am a 3rd generation American, but because the origins of my family are in Germany, I am often called a German-American (even though my father and his father were born here).

worrying racial divides - troublesome forms of segregation; the newspaper implies that racial divisions in the USA should be a cause for concern.

impossible to shift - impossible to change; to shift something means to move it, usually sideways

while New York appear more racially diverse - should be: while New York appears more racially diverse

racial tensions - if you feel tension you feel uneasy or nervous, so racial tensions are negative feelings that people have when thinking about or dealing with people from other races

at a peak - at their highest point

Charleston massacre - a massacre is when a group of innocent and defenseless people are killed. In Charleston a crazy white guy killed several black people in a church

a string of black deaths - a number of black deaths

census data - every 10 years the USA takes a census. This means every American has to fill out a form and submit it to the government. On the form every person at an address has to be listed. The purpose of the census is to determine how many people live in certain areas so that they can be represented in the Congress. For instance, if 1.5 million people live in an area, they might get 2 Congressmen. If 800,000 people live in an area they might only get 1 Congressman. Population changes a lot in the USA so the census happens every 10 years to decide how many Congressmen/women each area of the country will get.

a stark division - very strong, bold, striking
You can buy my bookNew York City Sucks, But You'll Still Want To Come Here from amazon: 


Or write to me at djg51qu@gmail.com and tell me you read my English blog and I'll send you a free copy via PDF file.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Euthanasia in Belgium

'Euthanasia' comes from two ancient Greek words: 'eu' - good and 'thanatos' - death. So euthanasia means 'a good death' or, basically, euthanasia is when a person is helped to die when he/she wants to, usually because of extreme pain which cannot be ended and a terminal condition (a condition which is leading directly and soon to death).

In Belgium euthanasia is not only legal, but they seem to allow people who are not suffering physical pain to die if they want to. Please read the article below - it is about a young woman who does not find life to be meaningful and who literally said, "Life? It's just not for me."

So part of me agrees that if a person wants to die, he should should not be prevented from doing this, but in the case of this young woman, it seems that her desire to die was caused by a horrible life. Perhaps there is some type of psychological treatment that can convince her to stick around and live. What do you think?  

The article:


Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

a green light - if a person gets a green light to do something, the person may do it freely; the person has permission to do something

to commit suicide - please remember that suicide is not a verb, so we don't say, "He suicided..." we say: "He committed suicide."  Suicide is a noun and the verb to be used with it is: to commit

jumped by a third - increased by 33% or 1/3

a perfectly healthy girl - here the adverb 'perfectly' is used for emphasis, to stress how healthy the girl is

ranging from ____ to _____ - this means the category includes various types that can be represented as falling within two extreme types

ailments - physical problems

fictitious name - fake name, non-real name

she qualifies for euthanasia - she meets the standards or qualifications or criteria for this process

a troubled childhood - a difficult, painful childhood

her arrival was not planned - her parents did not want to give birth to her

this did not diminish ____ - this did not make her suicidal thoughts decrease, she kept thinking about suicide even though her grandparents were good to her

a stable family - a family in which one can predict what's going to happen and where people don't change in crazy ways

a funeral - the ceremony performed after a person dies

pulled the trigger - killed herself with the gun

a bearable life - a life that doesn't cause so much psychologically originated pain that a person wants to die

extensively - very detailed

everything has been appointed - arranged, established, this will happen

Those who are about to die salute you. - ancient gladiators in Rome used to say this before they fought against each other to the death. To salute someone is to pay respect to someone through a visual signal.

surged - increased rapidly

liberalized the law - made the law less strict, made it easier to engage in euthanasia

crept up incrementally - moved up or increased slowly but surely

unrelieved - can't be relieved, can't be made better

a capacity of discernment - an ability to think clearly and to understand what is going on

affirmed - acknowledged, verified, said to be true

consent - the agreement of their parents

safeguards - ways to prevent bad things from happening

gravely - seriously

a symposium - an academic talk

physical deformities - changes to one's appearance which make a person look terrible to others

involuntary - against their will, against their desire

in a coma - not conscious, in a medical condition where the person is not dead but not conscious

controversial - if something is controversial it causes people to argue

deliberately - not accidentally, choosing to do something

a living will - a document a person prepares ahead of time stating how he/she wishes to be treated if he/she falls into a coma

restricts - limits

emancipated - this word means 'free'

a GP - general practitioner, a doctor

urge - to encourage

high on their agenda - this issue should be a top priority, or an issue that is addressed very quickly

Monday, June 29, 2015

How Democratic Politicians Get Their Votes

(The logo of the Democratic Party)

There are two political parties in the USA - the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. They both suck.

The Republicans are, basically, evil. They support big business and do not care about providing any social services to people who might need them. They don't care about the poor at all and issues of equality are not important to them.

The Democrats are, basically, corrupt (dishonest). Lots of democratic politicians get thrown in jail for various reasons and they provide lots and lots and lots of social services when they have power, and this is how they get votes. They do not do anything to eliminate poverty, they use the poor to stay in office. The poor have to keep voting for them because they desperately need the services the Democrats are giving them. Free housing, free food, free medical care etc. 

New York State has a governor (leader) who loves, loves, loves, loves using NY State and US tax dollars to give away free stuff to poor folks. 

As you can see from the article below, he is giving away 400,000 daily free meals to poor children this summer.  He has no plans to help the parents of these children get jobs, go to school or make money. 

What is even more ridiculous is that he was offering 400,000 free meals a day and only 30% of the poor children eligible for the meals ate them. So the program wasn't even really necessary - 70% of the people thought to need the service did not even accept the service. The food and money was just wasted. It should have been a much smaller program, but it's not Mr. Cuomo's money so who cares. NY State has the highest tax rate in the country in large part because Mr. Cuomo does STUPID stuff like this. He wants to be president some day.

400,000 children who don't have parents who can buy them food is a CRISIS (a terrible situation that has to be taken care of). We should be looking for the underlying causes of this crisis and trying to end poverty. But this would not help Governor Cuomo to potentially become president of the United States. So he will not be tackling (addressing/trying to solve the problem of) poverty any time soon.

Here is a message from the Governor:


Vocabulary to help you read this message:

to remind - to repeat something so that it will be fresh in a person's mind

drawing to a close - coming to an end

to be or remain eligible for s/t - to be qualified for something, to be able to be a part of something

nutritious - food which is good for one's health

fills a gap - meets a need that isn't being met

a proclamation - a formal announcement

to highlight an issue - to call attention to an issue

vital - essential, necessary for life

federally funded - so Cuomo got this money from the US government

only an estimated 3 out of 10 eligible students are being fed - this means that most students who can use the program are not using the program because they don't need it. So the program isn't even necessary, but Cuomo wants to run it anyway to make himself seem more popular.

disseminating information - giving out or spreading information

a food pantry or soup kitchen - a food pantry is a place in a city where people can come and pick up free food. A soup kitchen is where people can come and get a free hot meal (it is called a soup kitchen but soup is usually not served).

migrant programs - I am guessing these are programs that travel around

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Craigslist - the most dangerous and corrupt site on the internet?

This site is dangerous.

Many people lose money because of this site and some people have been killed. At least 20 people were killed because of craigslist in 2014.

Does craigslist care? No. Obviously not. Their attitude seems to be: millions of people use the site, so 20 dead people doesn't sound that bad.

Because craigslist does not care how many people die using their website, the police in the USA are trying to do something

Here is an article about craigslist.org


Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

a haven - a safe place

desperately - if you are desperate to do something, you really, really, really want to do it

authorities - this usually means the police

an ambush - when people hide and wait for someone and then jump out ad attack

dumping - dropping

a pond - a small body of water

rural - outside of a city, in the countryside

armed robbery - stealing something with a gun

heartache - a painful emotional feeling

surveillance - the area is being videotaped by police

the lot - an open area, like a parking lot

a deterrent - a deterrent is something that will stop a person from committing a crime

to launch a program - to start a program

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Stereotypes of Americans (among international students in Japan) ~~~so funny!

America is a pretty diverse country (diverse - many different types of people), but people around the world seem to have stereotypes as to what an average American might look like and how an American might behave. (A stereotype is a common image or impression that comes to mind when you think of a 'type' of person.)

In this article in London's Daily Mail, international students in Japan think Americans are 'white, fat and they eat a lot of hamburgers.' Actually, if you came to NY City, you would be surprised by how diverse (different) the people here are. 

The article:


Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

to reveal - in this case, to tell

comical - funny

interviewees - people being interviewed

to distinguish _____ from ______ - to be able to tell the difference between, to notice differences between one group or thing and another

abroad - away from your home country

tell-tale signs - little things that can be noticed about someone that reveal knowledge about that person

it's a cinch - it's a sure thing, it's certain.  i.e.  Do you think you will pass the test tomorrow?  Yes, it's a cinch! (Or - It will be a cinch.)

to run the gamut from - to fall into a range of possibilities from, to be among these possibilities

personality - the basic features of the way a person is or acts make up a person's personality. i.e.  Joe has a nice personality; he is polite and kind and always helpful.

to poke fun at - to make fun out of in a nice way

politically correct terminology - in this case: when you want to say something negative but you say it in a very nice way

mimes stuffing her face - to mime something is to pretend to do it, so her friend pretends to be putting a lot of food into her mouth

plump and chubby - not fat but kind of fat

a red flag - some indication of something, usually an indication that something is wrong, but not in the case of this article

staples - something very common and used a lot; this term 'a staple' is often used in regard to food: Rice is a staple food in many cultures. (Rice is a common food that supports people's lives.)

the laid-back attitude - if you are laid-back you are easy-going and not bothered by many things. In America we think that people in California have laid-back attitudes.

to get wasted - to get very drunk (after drinking a lot of alcohol)

a mistake in the article: We don't go to people and say, "Hey what's up?" not: We don't got to people and say, Hey what's up? 

jolly - happy, in a good mood