Sunday, August 31, 2014

Beijing is attempting to control future Hong Kong elections. Is this a good or bad thing?




One thing I like about writing this blog is that I often find good examples of how American values differ from other values of other societies around the world.

The Chinese government, for example, certainly does not value "American style" democracy. Indeed, there are many problems with the electoral and political system in the USA that the Chinese government would like to avoid. So the values in China would seem to reflect a desire to avoid the conflicts that a two party political system can cause - as is evident in the USA.  Of course there are problems with a one-party system as well, but this is the system that is in place in China currently and the government wants to make changes within this system instead of abandoning it and replacing it with 'democracy'.

Hong Kong used to be an English colony.  The city was literally stolen from China by England at the end of the Opium War in the middle 1800s.  So the people of Hong Kong are still used to the democratic practices they learned of while being an English colony.  Many people in Hong Kong oppose any attempts by the Chinese government to control the way things work in Hong Kong.  Indeed, when Hong Kong was absorbed into China, the Chinese government seemed very tolerant and did not seem to interfer much in the life of the people there.

Now, however, Beijing is trying to integrate Hong Kong more into the overall Chinese system (Beijing is trying to make the way life in Hong Kong more similar to the way life in China is in general).

Here's an article on this topic:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-29004025

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

Occupy Central - this is a group of people who believe in democracy in Hong Kong. They believe Hong Kong should be separate from the government in Beijing.

a ruling - a decision by thos ein authority in the government

vowed - promised

legislature - the group that makes the laws

to nominate - to offer names for an election; a nominating committee is a group that will offer names for an election

an activist - someone who works to fight against or for something

to protest - when a group publicly expresses anger over some type of issue

unanimously - everyone agreed

the worst-case scenario - the worst thing that could have happened

pan-democratic - this is a political group that supports total democracy in Hong Kong

chaotic - wild, unorganized

meddling - interfering, disturbing

rallies - protests, public gatherings to express disapproval in regard to an issue

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Is Kim Jong Un a closeted gay man? Does it matter?


If you are gay and 'closeted' or 'in the closet' it means that you do not want others to know that you are gay.

Two people have come forward now to state that Kim Jong Un is gay.

The latest person was a university student with KJU and served in the North Korean military. This person has escaped from North Korea and is seeking asylum in South Korea. (Asylum is given to a person who escapes a country because he is afraid of being harmed - the USA grants asylum to lots of people who escape countries where they might be harmed by their own governments.) 

Here is an article:

http://worldnewsdailyreport.com/man-claiming-to-be-kim-jong-uns-lover-seeks-asylum-in-south-korea/

Vocabulary from the article:

to be puzzled - to be confused, to be unable to clearly understand something

a refugee - someone who runs away from his country because he is afraid of being harmed

controversial - if someone is controversial this means that people have strong emotions or feelings about the person

heterosexual - when a man loves a woman and vice versa

intimate - close

dictator - when one person controls an entire society

virtually - in this case if he was virtually KJU's sex slave he was nearly or almost completely KJU's sex slave

a praetorian guard - a group of body guards that used to guard the Roman emperor

the demilitarized zone - the area between North and South Korea where meetings are held.

miraculously - a miracle is an event which is difficult or impossible to do

manifested - shown

degenerated - if something degenerates, it gets worse

a fantasy - a type of imagined situation, a sort of dream or secret desire

degrading - if something is degrading it makes a person feel ashamed or humiliated

to loathe - to hate 

a playmate - someone who plays with another person - the implication here is that this Japanese man was a 'sexual' playmate

presents proofs - should be presents proof (proof is non-counntable)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The 'president' of Ukraine takes anti-democratic action

{image taken from vladimirsuchen.blogspot.com}

'anti' means against.  Anti-democratic action is action meant to harm or destroy a democracy.

The president of Ukraine has eliminated the Ukrainian parliament (the group of people who make the laws in Ukraine). Indeed, he even stated that he has 'dissolved' (removed, eliminated) the Ukrainian parliament because there are members of the parliament who support those in eastern Ukraine who do not want to be a country that is controlled by the government in Kiev, Ukraine.

These are clearly the actions of a dictator - a single person who controls all aspects of a government. Because there are people in the parliament who disagree with him, he has thrown them out and they will be replaced by people who agree with the new dictator of Ukraine - Petro Poroshenko.

The current government of Ukraine was established by violent protests that overthrew an elected president and now Poroshenko is openly taking the actions of a dictator.  It is a disgrace that the US government supports this kind of nonsense.

Here is an article about the latest illegal and anti-democratic actions in Ukraine:

http://www.businessinsider.com/ukrainian-president-dissolves-parliament-2014-8

Vocabulary from the article:

to dissolve s/t - if you dissolve something you usually drop it into water and it slowly disappears.  In this case, to dissolve a parliament means to eliminate it, get rid of it, remove it.

an insurgency - this is a group of people who reject the government of their area and fight for their freedom from it

snap elections - I am assuming 'snap' elections mean 'quick' elections.  In this case they probably also mean 'dishonest' elections

to prefigure - if something prefigures something else, it comes before something else

coalition - group

militants-separatists - these are the people who do not want to live under the Ukrainian government in Kiev 

rebels - those who fight against what they feel is wrong

a convoy - a group of trucks or other vehicles

stalling tactics - a strategy to delay something from happening

shelling - when an army shoots large explosive devices into a city to destroy buildings and kill people 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Moldova - caught and suffering between super-powers

Moldova is often classified as the 'poorest' country in Europe.

It's a small country of only a few million people and it is between Romania and Ukraine. Lately, due to the troubles between the USA and Russia, Moldova has been suffering a great deal. Very little is being written about this country in the US press since the country does not seem to be useful to the US government.

Yet, apparently, the current government of Moldova wants to have closer ties to western Europe and apparently Russia is punishing Moldova with a boycott of some of its fruit and vegetable produce. (a boycott is when someone or group or some country or group of countries refuses to buy products from a company or country). From what I have been able to tell, many people in Moldova are turning against the government because they do not feel it has acted in the interests of its people by pursuing a closer relationship with western Europe.

It's a shame that a ridiculous disagreement between the USA and Russia is hurting a country like Moldova. When the "Cold War" ended in 1989 everyone thought this would lead to a period of greater peace and harmony throughout Europe.  It's such a shame that politicians in the USA, Europe and Russia could not act with honesty and integrity (ethics, morals, goodness) to bring nations and peoples closer together.

Here is an article from the Guardian about Moldova:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/15/moldova-fights-back-russia-food-bans

Vocabulary to help you understand the article about Moldova:

a ban - if something is banned, people in a given area or society cannot buy or use it.  i.e. Cigarettes are now banned in nightclubs in New York City.

an embargo - this is more formal than a boycott.  An embargo is when one country bans something from another country.

begin to bite - begin to hurt

a raft of measures - a raft is a small structure that can be made to float small distances. A 'measure' is, in this case, a plan of action. I am guessing that a 'raft' of 'measures' means plans of action meant to help the Moldovan economy function despite the harm the Russian embargo is causing.

a crop - a fruit or vegetable is grown as a 'crop' - this is the whole group of a certain type of fruit or vegetable.  So a crop of grapes may include thousands of bunches of grapes.

a new market - a new place to0 have his produce bought.

fuming - to be very angry

scrapped - got rid of, ended

duty-free exemptions - an exemption is an exception.  So it means Russia charged duty fees (taxes) on imports, but allowed Moldova to send its goods to Russia without paying these taxes.

retaliation - revenge; if someone hurts you, you might hurt someone back as retaliation

encroaching on - trespassing on, crossing a line or boundary that should not have been crossed, going where one shouldn't go

former Soviet countries - countries that used to be controlled by Russia when Russia was a communist country called the Soviet Union.

government sponsored measures - actions brought about by the government

to promote - to encourage or increase

a largely symbolic farmer's market - it is largely symbolic because it isn't having any real effect.  A farmer's market is usually a place in a city where people can buy fresh produce.

a publicity stunt - something silly or crazy which is done to bring more attention to a product or issue or company etc.

pledged - promised

compensation - money

lost revenue - lost money

state-subsidized - the government pays for it

slated to - scheduled to

allocated - set aside

a think-tank - a place where experts get together to talk about different policies and to make recommendations to companies and governments

the incumbent government - the current government

protests - when groups of people gather publicly to express their anger over policies or actions

a convoy - this is usually a long line of cars or trucks

their financial plight - their financial troubles

to scrap - to end

discontent - unhappiness, dissatisfaction

minimal - hardly anything, the least possible

pesticides - chemicals to kill the bugs which eat plants

autonomous region - there seems to be a region of Moldova which does not agree with the current government and it is now independent of Moldova and is supported by Russia.

keeping the lid on something - keeping something from getting worse

may hinge on - may depend on, may be base don

a quota - an amount which has to be reached; in this case a certain amount of goods from Moldova have to be bought

not holding their breath - this means something will not happen soon; there is an expre4ssion: When do you think this will happen?  Well, don't hold your breath!

to put the squeeze on someone - to make things difficult for someone

a glut - when there is too much of something

poses a hurdle - presents a problem presents an obstacle

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

If you are in New York City and need a good English teacher, please consider me. :)

http://djg51qu.wix.com/gauss

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Ukrainian government continues killing civilians in eastern Ukraine


How did Ukraine become such a mess? (a 'mess' is a dirty, disorderly, chaotic situation)

Viktor Yanukovych was elected president of Ukraine in 2010.  In 2013 he signed an economic agreement with Vladimir Putin of Russia that would have brought $15 billion of badly needed money to the Ukrainian economy.  

It is also important for Ukraine to maintain a good relationship with Russia because the two countries are neighbors and Ukraine receives natural gas from Russia.  Indeed, traditionally Ukraine has not paid its gas payments in a prompt (timely) manner and so a good relationship with Russia meant, under Yanukovych, that gas was continually supplied even though Ukraine was in debt to Russia.  

Although there were claims that Yanukovych was 'corrupt', he had been fairly elected and there was going to be another election within a year.  It would have been possible for someone else to be peacefully and fairly elected to replace him.  ('corrupt' means dishonest - a corrupt politician often makes money illegally through his political and business connections

Unbelievably, individuals who supported a rival political party began to protest this economic agreement between Ukraine and Russia.  (a 'rival' political party is a party or organization that is against another political party or organization - a 'protest' is when a group of people get together publicly to demonstrate that they are unhappy with some policy or decision). The protests become more and more violent as the USA and EU seemed to support this anti-democratic action ('anti' means against - the protests became more violent and became designed to overthrow or get rid of the elected president).


(a 'peaceful' Ukrainian protester in Kiev)

Indeed, the rival political party (the other political organization which wanted power) encouraged more and more violent protests, hoping to get rid of Yanukovych before the next elections. They created a huge amount of destruction in Kiev and acted in an undemocratic and violent manner.

Ultimately Yanukovych was forced to leave Ukraine and new elections were held in which a very wealthy and pro-western businessman was elected President. ('pro' western means he favors the west over Russia). This new president, Poroshenko, made all of his money making and selling chocolate.  So of course he should be a perfect president (that's sarcasm - of course this guy is not qualified to lead a country, but then again few leaders are really qualified - Obama certainly was never qualified.) 

So the people of Ukraine got rid of (eliminated) one very wealthy guy (a  guy with a lot of money) and they elected another very wealthy guy.  If so many people were not suffering I would be laughing my butt off right now.

Yet, people in the eastern part of Ukraine no longer want to be a part of a unified (whole) Ukrainian nation and the current president is killing more and more civilians in a civil war in which organized groups of eastern Ukrainians are fighting (just as the protesters in Kiev did) against a government they don't like.

Among other things, this has lead to the tragedy of a commercial airplane being shot down. Due to the fact many people in Ukraine refused to choose the road of peaceful change, hundreds of innocent people died in a horrible plane crash and hundreds of innocent people die each day.

Basically, because a rival political party encouraged violent protests, and because the USA and EU supported this anti-democratic violence, hundreds of innocent people are being killed every day.


Here you see the 'peaceful' Ukrainian protesters in Kiev literally attempting to burn police officers to death:



An article about the military attacks against civilians in eastern Ukraine:

http://news.yahoo.com/ukraine-rebel-city-lugansk-verge-humanitarian-catastrophe-134114295.html

Vocabulary from the article:

a rebel or a rebel city - a rebel is a person who does not obey or do what he/she is supposed to do. Politically a rebel is often someone or some group that opposes the dominant or stronger government of a territory. In the US Civil War the southern states were the rebellious or rebel states.  A rebel city is a city that refuses to do what the central government wants it to do.

on the verge of - close to; if something is on the verge of happening, it will probably happen soon.  i.e. We are on the verge of success!  It could happen any day now!

a humanitarian catastrophe - a catastrophe is when something horrible happens.  If a building collapses and many people die, that is a catastrophe.  A humanitarian catastrophe means that many innocent people will probably die.

insurgent stronghold - insurgents are those who fight against a government which they feel is not legitimate (lawful or legal).  Insurgents are rebels.  A stronghold is a place which a military group can defend well.

a mayor - the leader of a city

a siege - when a military group completely surrounds a city and refuses to let any food or water get inside. That military group also tries to get the city to surrender or they attempt to invade (forcefully enter) the city.

the hub - a hub usually means a central location but in this case it means a place where many people live and work

shelling - shells are large explosive things that are shot out of cannons so that lots of people will be killed.  To shell a city means to shoot many of these huge explosive devices into a city to kill people.


scores of civilians - a score is 12, so scores means 'lots'  - civilians are non-army people, just normal people

to tighten your grip on something - to gain greater control of something

to hunker down somewhere - to get comfortable somewhere and to kind of dig in at a specific place

blockade - when a city is surrounded and no food or supplies can get in

incessant - not ending, continuous

brutal - not merciful, not gentle, very harsh, very severe, horrible and cruel

severed - cut in half, cut, interrupted

overstretched - there is not enough, so they are stretching what they have...only providing a little bit instead of a lot

butchers - these are folks who kill animals and sell the parts as food

halted - stopped

pensions - money a person gets after he stops working; money a person gets after he retires

to have fled - to have run to or escaped to

Monday, July 28, 2014

Protests by some Israelis against the war in Gaza


Many Americans support Israel for many reasons.

First, it is a stable democracy and business partner in the Middle East.  Secondly, Israel is considered an ally (friend) in an area where the USA seems to have many enemies.  Third, America welcomed Jewish people into this country when Jewish folks were being treated terribly in Russia and other countries (in the late 1800s).  So, there are relatively many Jewish people here. I think more Jewish people live in the USA than in Israel (but I might be wrong about that). Furthermore, there are many Jewish politicians involved in the US government.

Also, many Americans know that the Jewish people have been attacked for many generations and I think Americans are sympathetic to that fact.

However, many people around the world are becoming more and more upset about what Israel is doing in Gaza. Even in Israel people are protesting against what their government is doing.

Here is an article about people in Israel who want the war against the people in Gaza to stop.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/1.607311

Vocabulary:

to protest - to publicly show disagreement with a policy; a protest is often done in groups of people but an individual can protest against something too

an operation - a military operation is also called a military campaign; it is an action that will take some time but which is meant to achieve some military goal

the IDF - Israeli Defense Force (the Israeli army)

rallied - a rally is a gathering of people to show support for some policy or person. to rally is to gather to show support for something

clashes - conflicts, when two rival groups meet physically and violently

leftist - more liberal, more open-minded

combatants -those who have fought in a war; so there are some Israeli soldiers who oppose the current war

was slated to begin - was scheduled to begin

the prompt resumption of - the early or quick begiining of something

casualties - those who were injured or wounded or killed

gratitude - thanks

devoted to - dedicated to, loyal to, resolved on doing something

channel these efforts for peace - Hamas and the Palestinians are digging tunnels to bring supplies into Gaza (Israel is blocking supplies from entering this area) and Israel keeps building fences to keep Palestinians out of various areas...so this person is saying that if all of this effort were being made to work for peace, there would be peace.

infrastructure of terrorism - basically this person is saying that terrorism is caused by poverty (a lack of money) and poor living conditions.  If we want to end terrorism, we need to help economically develop various poor areas of the world and establish schools and businesses etc.

demonstration - a protest, when a group of people gathers to complain or express disapproval over something

right-wing incitement - conservatives causing trouble; a right-winder is usually very conservative and narrow-minded, as opposed to folks from the left-wing, who are liberal and open-minded

to combat it - to fight against it

ill-will - bad feelings

corralled - to force people into a limiting area (a rancher will corral horses)

merrily - happily

major arteries - major roads and highways

cavalry - military staff on horses

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A French blogger was fined for a negative restaurant review title

{This is an image of a judge in an American courtroom. This posting is about a judge's decision in a French courtroom.}

I like this story because it shows the difference in values between the USA and Europe. I actually think European values are 'better'. In the USA internet laws protect giant internet corporations or companies. In Europe, the laws protect the people.

"Values" means what people believe in or consider to be important.

In Europe a person's reputation on the internet is considered very important. (a person's 'reputation' is how people feel about that person)  Europe recently passed a law which forces Google to remove negative comments about a person from that search engine. The law is called "The Right to Be Forgotten Law". A 'right' is a promise made to a citizen by the government concerning what a citizen may freely do or positive aspects of life experience the government protects for a citizen.

In the USA it is very difficult to get negative comments removed from the internet.  In the late 1990s the US Congress passed a law that stated that an internet site cannot be held responsible for what people post on the site.

The Congress did this because internet web sites did not want to be sued if a strange person used the site to post false and negative information about a person on the site.  (to sue someone is when a person hires a lawyer and takes a person to court to change a situation or to get money in regard to a situation - a court is where you have a judge {see the image above})

So let's say that I have a website in which people can post comments and someone posts a comment involving false information about another person, and that false information hurts that person's reputation. The law states that the person who posted the false information can be sued and punished in court, but the website cannot.

Unfortunately, this has caused lots of problems.

Let's say that someone posts false information about you on an American blogging website. You will, of course, write to the website and say, "Hey! Some mentally ill idiot wrote something terrible about me on your site!  It is obviously false, so please remove it."  The site will write back and say, "We don't have to, so we won't. Go get a lawyer and sue the person who left the posting." You can do this, and if you do this the person who attacked you will get into lots of trouble, but this takes time and needless effort.

Actually, the site won't say that, the site will say, "We believe in 100% freedom of speech, so we will NOT remove this from out site."  But, of course, there is no such thing as 100% free speech, anywhere. Basically web sites don't want to pay extra staff to remove content from their site that is hurting people. Because of the law passed by Congress, they don't have to, so they don't.

This is not, however, want the law intended. The law states that a website cannot be sued if an idiot posts something false on it. The law does not say that a website should not remove false content which hurts people. Obviously, a responsible website WILL remove this content.  Most American web sites just don't want to and so lots of people are getting hurt through crazy, malicious postings all the time. 

In the USA internet law protects giant internet corporations.  In Europe, the law protects people.

In any case, this doesn't happen in Europe - I think Europe has a much better system. In regard to the article below, a blogger had a bad experience at a restaurant and, apparently, deliberately tried to ruin the restaurant's reputation.  I would agree with what the judge did. How about you?

Here is a recent article about a French blogger:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2014/07/17/fined-french-bloggerrestaurant-critic-i-will-never-say-bad-things-its-too-dangerous/

Vocabulary:

to be fined - to be punished by a judge and forced to pay money to the person who was hurt

stemmed from - came from

chronicled - detailed in a narrative (story) form; to chronicle something is to talk about it as if you are telling a story in a detailed way

slip ups - mistakes

incompetence - if you are incompetent you cannot do your job well

proprietors - owners

glitches - mistakes

tab - bill, how much she had to pay the restaurant as a fine

a harpy - a character from mythology which is half bird and half woman