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
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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. 

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

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

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The USA is losing badly to ISIS / ISIL

In 2003 I was one of tens of thousands of New Yorkers who tried to protest Bush's decision to start a war with Iraq.

Unfortunately, the mayor of NY (the leader of NY) - Bloomberg - had thousands of police blocking the protesters so that we could not get to the UN to protest. 

Bush attacked Iraq for no reason and when Obama took office as president he indicated he would end and fix this situation.

No, Obama has made it worse. Now there is a crazy organization called ISIS/ISIL which cuts off people's heads and destroys ancient art work. ISIS is growing stronger and stronger every day. They are taking more cities, killing more people and creating more harm daily.

What is shocking is that people in the US government do not even want to tell the truth about what is really going on. Basically, the USA has already lost this war. ISIS has taken several cities and is running its own government. People suffer every day because of this group.

Here is an article about a US politician who says he is a little worried about ISIS and how Obama is dealing with this situation. He should be VERY worried since, basically, ISIS has won. Obama will do nothing to stop the situation he helped create by removing US soldiers from Iraq too soon. Bush should not have started the war, but Obama made the situation worse and will not admit it.


to sound alarm bells - to indicate that something is worng and we should be aware of it

rhetoric - empty words; meaningless talk (something Obama is great at)

extremists - people who are extreme or the worst possible examples

a setback - something that is not only not good, but, in fact, pushes a person back

the metrics - the measurement

sorties - flights by airplanes that drop bombs

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Is Central Park Becoming More Dangerous?

Believe it or not, Central Park is not 'natural'. A neighborhood of houses was torn down in the 1800s and the park was built as a place where people could escape from the city. Dirt, trees, stones...almost everything...was brought in to create this park.

Now it looks as if the park is becoming more and more dangerous. A large group of teenagers attacked a couple over the weekend. The couple was just simply resting there. In fact, two other people were also attacked this weekend.

The newspapers in New York City are pointing out that more people are being shot by guns in NY City these days. I think this is due to the fact that there is way too much poverty in this city.  You have too many violent and poor neighborhoods where young people are not being allowed to grow up in safety and security. 

So the newspapers will demand more and more police, but instead the city needs to create economic development in poor neighborhoods so that families can live safely and have some money not only to meet their needs but also to be able to live better lives.  

The city provides free housing, free food and free medical care to many poor people - but these are basic services and not solutions to the problem of poverty. It is easier for politicians to just give out free stuff than to work with businesses to create meaningful opportunities for the poor.

The article:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

cops deployed - police officers have been sent into Central Park

a rash of something - a lot of something suddenly happening; a rash is a skin problem, when parts of a person's skin suddenly turn red

a roving gang - a wandering gang, a gang that moves around

stepping up - increasing

to deter crooks - to scare criminals; to deter means to scare someone from doing something

beefing up - increasing

a mugging - an attack to steal something

an aberration - something not normal but not a trend; something weird that probably won't happen again

the surge - increase

civilians - in this case, people who are not criminals

a thug - a criminal

a chokehold - a way to hold a person around his neck using your arm

a crime spree - a sudden increase in something; you can also go on a shopping spree (you do a lot of shopping in a short amount of time)

the robberies were unrelated - different people or groups committed the three crimes

skyrocketed - gone up quickly and a lot

anti-police sentiment - a lot of people in NY City do not trust or like the police any more because of a number of negative stories about police around the USA and NY City

to back the police - to support the police; I disagree - we need to have more anti-poverty programs that create jobs in poorer neighborhoods. We give poor people free stuff, but they need more than just superficial services.