Monday, February 9, 2015

Are Western countries responsible for the crisis in Ukraine? Yes.

I would tend to agree that Western countries are responsible for the crisis in Ukraine.

Viktor Yanukovych had been fairly elected as the president of Ukraine. In 2013 he made a deal with the government of Russia so that $15 billion would be provided to Ukraine from Russia. This $15 billion was badly needed and, basically, would have helped Ukraine greatly. The $15 billion was a gift from Russia to continue good and peaceful relations with a neighboring country.

Only because Yanukovych signed this agreement, people from an anti-Russian (against Russia) political party began protesting every day in Maidan Square in Kiev.  Day by day the protests became more violent and 25 Kiev police officers were killed (many burned to death) by Kiev protesters. It also seemed that many of the protesters supported a neo-nazi ideology ('neo' means 'new'). Many of the protesters were Nazis.

Western countries openly supported the violent protests.  Not one leader of one Western country called for the protesters to stop the violence and to wait for peaceful elections. 

Many people who supported the illegal overthrow of Yanukovych say that he was corrupt (dishonest). I don't know - maybe he was and maybe he wasn't. There was an election which was just one year away. If everyone in Ukraine had waited for this election, there would have been no civil war in Ukraine. If Yanukovych had been as corrupt as his opponents say he was, he would have lost the election and there would have been PEACEFUL change in Ukraine.

The anti-Russian political party might have felt that it could not beat Yanukovych in fair elections, and this is why they chose the road of violence and not peace. The only choice now, obviously, is to divide Ukraine into two countries so that the violence ends.

Here is an article about this topic:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

conflict - this is both a countable and non-countable noun meaning a lack of peace or a situation in which there is fighting and struggle

to renew - to begin again

blame - to say that someone has done something wrong

Franco-German - French and German

pledges - promises 

amid - in the middle of

to deny - to say something didn't happen

accusations - claims that something wrong happened

rebels - those fighting against a government

claimed more than 5,000 lives - more than 5,000 people have been killed in a war that didn't have to happen

intense - very strong, fierce

fatalities - deaths

to adopt a tougher stance - to be tougher or stronger; but, basically, John McCain is a right-wing idiot who thinks the US military should be fighting in about 10 different places right now.

our correspondent - our journalist

a rift - a division, a disagreement

to revive - to bring back to life

collapsed - fell apart

a demilitarized zone - an area where neither country's army can go; this is an absolutely stupid idea which will not bring peace. Ukraine simply has to be divided into two countries.

renewed - begun again

hollow - empty, of no value

to prompt them - to cause them

a coup d'etat - this is when an elected leader is illegally and violently forced out of office. Putin is correct, there was a coup d'etat and it was supported by Western countries. This countries continue to make the situation worse while pretending to talk about peace.

ousting - forcing out

to annex - to take over


Friday, January 30, 2015

Protesters recall Henry Kissinger's war crimes and crimes against humanity

Why would protesters call Henry Kissinger (National Security Advisor and Secretary of State of the USA for President Richard Nixon) a war criminal?

Probably because policies he recommended or created lead to the deaths of many innocent people, especially in South East Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia). As most international readers of this blog already know, however, no government leader from the USA ever gets arrested for war crimes or crimes against humanity because the USA is too powerful. George Bush should probably be in jail for war crimes for attacking Iraq in 2003, but he sits safely in his ranch in Texas.

In 1968, when Richard Nixon was running for the presidency, he told the American people that he had a secret plan to end the Vietnam War. History shows he lied in order to win an election. With Richard Nixon as president the war became worse. Indeed, Kissinger and Nixon even secretly sent US troops into Cambodia and other neighboring countries.

The Vietnam War was one of the most horrible and immoral wars the USA ever fought. Over 2 million Vietnamese were killed by the US military while the USA lost about 50,000 soldiers. Vietnamese children are still suffering from the effects of chemicals that were deliberately dropped on forests in that country to destroy trees so that Vietnamese soldiers could be seen more easily. To this day the people of Vietnam suffer because of people like Henry Kissinger.

Indeed, the Vietnam war should never have been fought. In 1964 one of the most corrupt and dishonest presidents the USA ever had - Lyndon Johnson - began the war when he lied about Vietnamese ships attacking American ships (The Gulf of Tonkin incident). The war lasted until Nixon finally removed US troops in 1972 because the USA could not beat the Vietnamese people.

{{{The flag of North Vietnam - when the US military was defeated by a third-world nation of farmers and Buddhists.}}}  

Here is an article about the protests. In the video Senator John McCain attacks the protesters and calls them various names. I am so glad this idiot never became president.

Vocabulary from the article:

protesters recall Kissinger's war crimes - protesters remember Kissinger's war crimes

to call out - basically this is a slang term meaning to insult people or speak badly of them; to verbal phase 'to call out' is not used very often

a protester - someone who does not like something and expresses his/her disapproval publicly

to swarm - to surround someone and bother him; bees sometimes swarm people who get too close to their hive

low-life scum - this term was meant as an insult...'low-life' means a very basic life form like bacteria or a type of worm...scum means dirt. So if someone calls you low life scum they are saying you are a type of dirt, basically.

disgraceful - not something to be proud of, something terrible that shoulod embarrass a person who does it

outrageous - unacceptable, terrible

despicable - something that should be hated because it is so wrong

demonstrations - protests, when people take action to demonstrate they are angry

to chant - to repeat something over and over

controversial - something that makes people argue; a hot topic

to be arrested - to be taken away by the police

the greatest distinction - if you have done something great, you have done something 'distinguished'...of great distinction means of great accomplishments

off the dias - the dias is the area where speakers usually sit

to be held fully accountable for their actions - to be punished

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Do you know these 5 high-intermediate vocabulary words?

a fiasco - a disaster, something that goes very badly
to demote or to be demoted - this is the opposite of to promote or to be promoted.  For instance, when I was younger, it was possible for students to be demoted to lower grades if they were not doing well in their particular classes.  If someone has a supervisory position but does not perform satisfactorily, he/she might be demoted.
a probe - an investigation.  To probe can mean to investigate.  A doctor will sometimes do a medical probe on a patient...a device with a little camera might be inserted into the patient, through the patient's mouth or whatnot, and this will allow the doctor to see inside the patient.
a shakeup - a sudden change to an organization due to poor performance.  Usually some people are demoted, some are promoted, some might be fired and some newly hired.  A CEO might say that he needs to shakeup his organization because people have become too corrupt or lazy.
to hoard - to collect some type of thing or differing things and store those things even though you do not need them or might not ever need them.  Animals, for instance, tend to hoard food in case the weather turns bad.
answers to the exercises are way at the bottom of this message
Because the huge amount of snow that fell during the recent blizzard was not plowed from the streets promptly, the newspapers demanded a __________________ at the Department of Sanitation.  Several high-ranking officials were later fired. 

{{{to plow - to push the snow, using a type of vehicle with a huge shovel on the front of it, toward the side of the road.  promptly - in a timely manner.  If you are a prompt person, you are generally on time.  The Department of Sanitation is basically the department that has to pick up garbage and plow snow.}}}
It was discovered that when the city government began its program of distributing free food in poor neighborhoods, some residents would take food they really didn't need and _______________ it, while others who truly needed the food could not gain access to it once the city ran out of supplies.
Once it was learned that a Governor of New Jersey was giving high-ranking government positions to handsome men who were not qualified for the positions, a newspaper launched (initiated or started) a _________________.  They then discovered that the Governor was secretly gay and was giving out important jobs to his lovers.
When David Patterson became Governor of New York State, after Governor Spitzer was caught secretly visiting prostitutes (women who sell their bodies for sex), many people had high hopes for him.  However, his term as Governor was a complete and total _________________.  The government became more corrupt and ineffective and taxes and MTA fares rose greatly.
Because Bob had been such an excellent journalist, he was promoted to the position of editor.  However, the skills required for being an editor were different from the skills required for being a journalist and he was shortly ________________ back to journalist, where he was quite happy again.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Should Greece have to pay back its entire debt to the EU?

(photo taken from the BBC)

It looks as if people in Greece do not like the idea of 'austerity'. Actually, probably nobody likes the idea of austerity.  Austerity means, basically, giving up luxuries and extra comfortable things and living as simply as possible.  It doesn't necessarily mean you will live uncomfortably, but it means you won't have the extra things you might want or have become accustomed to (used to).

When Greece borrowed billions of dollars from The Eurozone to keep the country running, the government of Greece agreed to austerity measures.  The government agreed to cut spending and other wasteful things (government workers, for instance, were receiving huge pensions upon retirement - a pension is free money you get after you retire). Now, however, there is a new political party in Greece and 1) they don't believe in austerity any more and 2) they don't want to pay back the money they borrowed from other Europeans. This party - Syriza - is now in power.

Apparently Greece is threatening to leave the European Union if they are forced to continue austerity measures and if they are forced to pay off their debts completely. If Greece leaves the EU, this will probably destroy the EU in that economic investors will lose confidence in the Union - they will fear that other countries may leave in the future as well (and many probably will).  So Greece is partially blackmailing the EU - "If you don't give us what we want, we will do something to severely hurt you." The EU does not want to give in to blackmail since other countries seriously in debt will do the same thing in the future.

What do you think?  Should Greece pay off its debt completely or should the EU cut some of the debt and stop requiring austerity measures? 

An article from the BBC about this:

Vocabulary from the article:

Syriza - this is the new political party that recently won the Greek elections.  They won because they promised the Greek people they would not continue austerity programs and that they would not pay off the complete Greek debt.

negotiation not confrontation - confrontation is when two people or groups have a different solution to a problem and they fight over the solution instead of using negotiation strategies.

the debt is not sustainable - usually if something is sustainable it can continue existing. Here I think he means that if Greece and the EU do not help Greece get rid of this debt there will be a disastrous situation.  Basically he is saying, "This situation cannot continue, or something terrible will happen."

a bailout - this is when a company or country desperately needs money in order to survive and a government or other lending sources provide this emergency money.

to live up to its commitments - it must honor its commitments, it must do what it promised to do

to unveil - to reveal or show

centrifugal - a centrifuge is a machine that spins very quickly so that heavy stuff in the machine stays toward the middle but lighter stuff gets thrown farther from the center of the machine. So this person is saying that the powerful contries will throw the less powerful countries out or force them away from the center of European life.

to incorporate change - to accept and live with change

to collapse - to fall apart

credible - serious, believable

protectionist - someone who wants to protect his/her own economy and who does not care about other economies or countries

sangfroid - cold blood, in this case I think it would test and see how strong the markets would be

a rupture - a tearing apart, an explosion

nationalists are in the ascendant - a nationalist is someone who only believes in his/her own country. To ascend is to rise. So investors might feel that any country dominated by nationalists will acquire huge debts and just refuse to pay them or drop out of the EU.

frenzied - wild

panic - when you are no longer acting in a calm manner

implausible - not easily believed

reason will prevail - to prevail means to win; so here if reason prevails, the right thing or the most reasonable thing will happen

to sanction a write-off - to agree to or to approve a cancellation of the huge debt

peers - those around us

viable - possible

troika - a group of three

not on the radar - radar is used to track airplanes, if something is not on the radar it doesn't exist

a volatile start - a shaky, quickly changing start


Please buy my amazing book for foreign learners of English:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Chinese lady cut off her husband's penis...twice.

If she had only done it once, I wouldn't have bothered writing about it. 

I guess I'm fascinated by the intensity of this Chinese lady's rage (extreme anger). It's amazing that she would be so angry that she would: 1) cut her husband's penis off (a penis is the male sexual organ) and 2) cut it off again after the doctors had sewed it back on. (Something is 'sewed' with a needle and thread.) Oh, 3) she also threw the severed (removed) penis out a window.

I'm also curious as to what happened to the penis after it was thrown out the window. The medical staff could not find it. Did a dog eat it? A crow? A rat? Apparently some animal enjoyed a tasty meal of human penis a few days ago in Shangqiu. Let's hope it didn't acquire an appetite for that kind of thing!  Men in Shangqiu - be faithful to your ladies!  There might be a hungry dog looking for more!

Here's the story.  Apparently the woman discovered that her husband was cheating on her (he was seeing another woman). She became so already know what happened. 

I think she will be in a lot of trouble now. Punishment exists primarily as a form of deterrence: some people are punished in order to make sure other people don't do the same thing. If they don't throw this woman in jail, Chinese ladies may feel they have the right to cut off the penises of their cheating husbands.  So I think she'll probably be punished to make sure other guys in China don't have to go through this horrible experience, even if they are cheating.

The article:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

jilted - if someone has been jilted, that person's spouse (husband/wife) has been cheating (seeing someone else)

two-timing - cheating, having sex secretly with another person

hubby - husband

manhood - penis, the male sexual organ, the thing that makes a guy different from a woman

jail - a place where criminals are sent after being found guilty

a dad of five - he has five children; this is difficult for me to understand - doesn't China have a one-child policy?

saucy - hot, erotic, sexual

marital home - the home where he lived with his married wife

stunned - shocked, surprised

flew into a rage - became outrageously angry, angry to the point where she did not care about consequences any more

stormed into - ran into, forced her way into, entered a place aggressively

to snip - to cut: chop chop...ooops there it goes...

sewn - sew, sewn, sewn or sewed - to use a needle and thread to attach something to something else

fuming - still very angry, fumes come from a fire

combed the area - searcher very carefully

missing member - his penis

emotionally distraught - very very very upset, depressed, shocked

fertility - ability to produce children

gruesome - bloody, disgusting, shocking

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Can we please learn the right lesson from the killings in Paris?

Please take a look at this disgusting image from a German magazine:

It says, "You cannot murder our freedom!"

It deliberately depicts a crazy looking person meant to be Muhammad sitting in a bathtub of blood.

Is this a mature, reasonable manner in which to respond to this recent situation in Paris?  No. It is a childish, malicious and racist way to respond. It encourages hatred toward the Muslim religion and does nothing to resolve the underlying tensions in France between the dominant culture and the new additions to French culture who are not being treated fairly.

"to play devil's advocate" is an expression in English which means that a person will make an argument that others will probably not like, but the argument has to be made if a person cares about the truth.

So I am going to play devil's advocate in regard to this recent situation in Paris where several followers of the religion of Islam killed several cartoonists from the magazine Charlie Hebdo.

So the magazine Charlie Hebdo often presented cartoons mocking (making fun of) the prophet Muhammad.  Why?  Can someone please tell me what purpose drawings of Muhammad naked or having gay sex might have accomplished? 

The argument I would like to make is that having the freedom to say anything you want to say does not mean you are obligated to say horrible things that will offend, harm and provoke other people.

What is especially troubling to me is that now everyone seems to feel cartoonists and writers should go out of their way to mock the prophet Muhammad, as a tribute to those cartoonists who died in Paris.  This is INSANITY. 

I would also like to please point out that in France the Muslim minority has been discriminated against and treated badly by the white, French dominant culture.  I would argue that the cartoons by Charlie Hebdo were RACIST in nature and meant to attack people who were different from the French and of a different color and culture.

I would argue that the cartoons by Charlie Hebdo were not free speech, but a form of racist hate speech.  Just because you have the right to say anything you want to say, this does not mean you are obligated to attack people of a different color and culture. 

Of course, there was no justification for the murder of the staff or the innocent people who were taken as hostages.  But please remember the quote: "You reap what you sow." If you put hatred, racism and anger out there, you will NOT receive kind-hearted consequences. If you sow hatred, please do not be surprised if you reap hatred. Unfortunately, what seemed to be continually racist and hate-filled images reaped a hatred far too extreme. 

What ever happened to the idea that we need to become the peace and the change that we wish to see in the world?  Charlie Hebdo was spreading peace and love?  No, they were attacking a sacred figure over and over and over again.  It became part of the way they made their living to attack the religion of a minority population of a people of color in France.

Freedom of speech does NOT mean that you have to attack people you do not like because of their race or religion.  The highest form of freedom of speech consists of addressing matters with civility and humanity. But it takes maturity and character to reach this level, and I do not see much maturity in the responses to this horrible attack that I am seeing in the news.

Friday, January 9, 2015

More injustice for Yingluck Shinawatra in Thailand

Thailand is divided between two groups of people - the red shirts and the yellow shirts.  For many years the folks who now identify as 'yellow shirts' controlled the Thai government.  These were, primarily, people from the various cities of Thailand.

For many years the economic policies of Thailand favored people who lived in the cities and the people of the countryside suffered greatly.  Basically the 'red shirts' are people who have supported Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck Shinawatra. After he gained power, Thaksin, and later his sister, Yingluck, developed economic policies that finally helped the poor farmers (who had definitely been seriously neglected).

Unfortunately, the yellow shirts have friends in the military and last year the Thai military lead an illegal and anti-democratic 'coup' (they took over the government by force).  This was solely to remove Yingluck Shinawatra from power and to take Thailand back to the old days when the yellow shirts controlled the country.  Yingluck had been fairly elected the leader of Thailand.

Now the military which broke the law by removing an elected prime minister is putting Yingluck Shinawatra on trial.  It will NOT be a fair trial, because the military in Thailand is totally corrupt (dishonest).

Here is a brief article about this situation:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

ousted - forced from office, removed from office through force (often through illegal means)

charges - allegations, complaints, accusations

impeachment - this is a formal hearing or trial to 'legally' remove an elected president from office.  So this is, basically, a joke - the Thai military has already removed Yingluck from office illegally, now they are pretending to have a legal hearing (trial).

a subsidy scheme - an attempt by the government to provide money to support a business.  In this case the subsidy didn't work (Obama, for instance, tried subsidizing businesses that did not work and nobody is impeaching him here).

the foreseeable future - for as long as anyone can imagine

dismissed - rejected, said to be untrue

politically motivated - the charges were brought against her by the yellow shirts for political reasons

a verdict - a decision

anti-graft - anti-cheating, anti-corruption, anti-dishonest (anti means against)

indicted her - indicted is pronounced in DITE id, to force the person to go to trial 

dereliction of duty - not doing what should should have done as well as you should have done it

dismantled - taken apart

wiped out - eliminated

ascension - rise, her quick rise to power

curbing the power - decreasing the power

junta - the group of generals from the military who illegally changed the government

at bay - away from where the action is, to keep her harmless

incurring the wrath - suffering from the anger of the many red shirts

polarization - the deep division between the Thai people

allegedly - supposedly, apparently but it hasn't been proved