Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Family-Orchestrated Suicide Bombing in Indonesia

If something is "orchestrated" by someone, it is planned and guided by someone. In this case, members of one particular family in Indonesia orchestrated three suicide bombings of churches in the city of Surabaya.

The article:

Vocabulary from the article:

a wave of blasts - a series of explosions. If the same thing happens in a series of events, you can say that a "wave" of this thing happened. Let's say that there have been a series of fires in a neighborhood, one after the other, for 5 or 6 days. The news will say: There has been a wave of fires in ____ neighborhood. A blast is an explosion.

to target something - to choose something

to claim a bombing - if there is a bombing committed by a group, often this group will contact the police or newspapers and "claim" the bombing, meaning they will admit that they did it

a network - a collection of affiliated members, a group of members

a bomb-laden car - a car loaded or filled with bombs

detonated - exploded

to foil an attack - to stop an attack, to prevent some harmful plan is to foil a plan

barbaric - not civilized

perpetrators - those who have committed crimes

terrorist cells - a terrorist cell is a small group of terrorists who work together

sustained - continuing

a de-radicalization program - this is an educational program to convince people that they do not have to be so "radical" in their attempt to change things that they think are wrong. Radical is not usually a negative term - sometimes a radical approach to a problem is necessary or a radical person can do a lot of good. Radical often means "extreme" - but according to the origin of the word, a radical is someone who wants to change things from the roots of a problem. He/she wants a real solution.

alternative incomes for released terrorists - so the government basically said to these released terrorists, "Listen, here's a nice job and some money...please choose a less violent life." Alternative means something different. So this is an income different from what a person might make from terrorism.

to invigorate something - to give something or someone new life. A person might say, "I just ran six kilometers this morning. I feel invigorated!"

loosely constituted jihadi networks - loosely constituted means not very strongly organized or put together; a jihadist is a person who claims to follow the Islamic religion and who wishes to fight and kill his religious enemies.

intolerance - not being able to accept others who are different or believe in different things.

tolerant - able to accept and live with differences

pluralistic - diverse, one place containing many different kinds of people

civilians - non-military people

to predate something - to come before something

al Qaeda linked - affiliated with al Qaeda, associated with al Qaeda (this is a terrorist group that began in Afghanistan and which was responsible for the attack against the World Trade Center in New York City)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

One way to prove climate change to Trump - a melting iceberg in his image

Donald Trump, the current president of the United States, does not believe that humanity has been harmfully affecting the Earth's climate (weather patterns).

In America, he is the type of person who is called a "climate denier". To deny something is to say that you don't believe something. 

In fact, Donald Trump has blamed the idea of global warming on China, saying that China wants the world to believe that businesses and factories are harming the earth so that United States businesses will stop producing so many goods around the world. (Virtually no intelligent people believe Trump's 'conspiracy theory' about China). 

A group in Finland is trying to raise (gather/collect) $500,000 to have an artist carve a giant image of Trump on an iceberg near the North Pole so that Trump, himself, can watch his image melt as a result of global warming.

A very creative and peaceful response to a climate denier!!!!!

Article about this situation:

Vocabulary from the article:

to carve something into something - to use a sharp object to cut into an object so as to form a new image from the original object

The Arctic - this is the very cold region to the north of Earth; the Antarctic is the area to the south. Antarctica is an actual continent. There are seven continents: Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, Antarctica and Australia. The Arctic or the North Pole is not a continent, it is just a huge area of frozen water. 

a stunt - an action done to create publicity. Publicity means attention from television news shows, newspapers, the internet, social media etc. So a stunt is something that might be done to get everybody's attention.

to spearhead something - if you spearhead something, you are the leader - you are the first to do something, just as the tip of a spear enters a target first. A spear is a long, sharp weapon that can be thrown through the air.

the initiative - an initiative is a project or an endeavor, something someone or some group is going to do to reach some kind of goal.

they have dubbed the effort - they are calling the effort; to dub something as something is to give it a name or title

Trumpmore - there is a famous mountain in America called Mount Rushmore which has the faces of four US presidents carved into it.

to ponder - to think about, to wonder about

Mr. Trump has previously whether climate change exists - this is a mistake by the editor of this article. It should be: Mr. Trump has previously questioned whether climate change exists

non-competitive - he feels that the USA and other countries are competing with each other or fighting against each other to see who can make the most products. He feels the USA is currently winning and making more products than any other country. So he believes that other countries have created the idea of global warming to try to stop US owned factories from making as many things as they are making.

in the Oval Office - the name of the office where the US president spends most of his time. It is shaped like an oval - like an egg.

to sue someone - to take someone to court to stop them from doing something or to get money from them

greenhouse gas emissions guidelines - the EPA or Environmental Protection Agency is a government agency in the USA which sets up rules or guidelines trying to limit the amount of 'greenhouse gases' that can be sent into the air by factories. Greenhouse gases are gases that get stuck in the atmosphere (the air surrounding the Earth) and cause heat from sunlight to get trapped in the atmosphere. So the guy Trump appointed to run the EPA once tried to stop the EPA from setting up rules to save the atmosphere from greenhouse gases.

poised - to be poised to do something means to be ready to do something

offshore drilling - this means drilling for oil in the oceans off the coast of the United States. This is very dangerous as accidents can happen and pollute the water. Trump believes in offshore oil drilling.

to be off limits - if something is off limits, it is prohibited, someone should not go there or do anything there

to muse about something - to think or ponder about something

prominent - if something stands out from other things, it is prominent. So the presidents on Mount Rushmore were four of the most famous presidents of that time.

a rally - a gathering of supporters where they hear speeches and feel good about an issue or person

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at Bush is running for president of Iraq

So one of my students said, "Hey, look at what he did with just his shoes! Imagine what he'll be able to do with an entire government!"

The article:

Vocabulary from the article:

flung - fling, flung, flung (to throw)

to run for office - we use the verb 'to run' if someone is trying to win a political position through the electoral system

chucked - another term for to throw is to chuck something at someone. It is more of a slang term.

launched - another term for thrown.

to brain someone - to hit someone in the head (again, this is a type of slang term)

widows - women whose husbands have died

orphans - children lacking parents (children without parents)

to be tackled - to be attacked and taken down to the ground

nimbly - skillfully

Bush cracked at the time - another verb for to 'tell' a joke is to 'crack' a joke

a ceremonial official - not much power

sovereignty - independence

the provisions of the constitution - what the constitution says should be done

alas - unfortunately 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexual assault 14 years after it happened

Bill Cosby was one of the most famous people in the USA. He began his career as a comedian and then he began doing TV series from the late 1960s through the 90s. He then became a public figure who often made comments on the lives of African Americans in the USA. He was considered somewhat conservative and believed that African Americans had to work harder to obtain greater opportunities in the USA.

Over 50 women have come forward in the past few years claiming that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them. Many of them claim that he would put a type of drug in their drink, they would unknowingly take in the drug with the drink and Cosby would have sex with them while they were unconscious. 

Some people believe that Cosby has been sexually attacking women since the 1960s. Apparently these women were afraid to come forward and accuse him of sexual assault. They felt Cosby might sue them for this or that such an accusation would ruin their careers.

How was Cosby found guilty 14 years after he attacked a woman? Well, initially, the prosecutor (the lawyer for the state of Pennsylvania) would not allow the police to arrest Cosby. He claimed there was no proof that Cosby attacked the woman. In fact, the woman reported the attack one year after it happened.

So the woman sued Cosby. There are two types of courts in the USA: criminal and civil. If someone breaks the law and can be thrown in jail for this action, he/she goes to the criminal court system. If the issue is just about a matter of money, then the civil court system is used. Many times if you cannot get a person arrested, you can at least sue the person and you may receive money from this person as a punishment against the person. So the woman sued Cosby, claiming that he caused her a great amount of emotional stress and pain.

When someone sues someone else, both lawyers have an opportunity to ask questions of the people involved in the law suit - when you sue someone you file (submit) a law suit. This questioning occurs outside of the court room. Yet, the answers by the people are recorded by a person called a "court reporter". These people are licensed by the state and they type out the answers given to the lawyers' questions.

When Cosby had to answer questions for the victim's lawyer, he admitted that he used drugs to make women fall asleep. After Cosby made these statements, he offered $3 million to the victim to drop the law suit against him and to agree to have all the documents sealed (meaning that nobody could ever look at Cosby's answers). She took the money and agreed to drop the law suit. However, a news source in the USA demanded that the documents be unsealed in the name of justice, and a judge unsealed them. When the Pennsylvania prosecutor saw that Cosby admitted to drugging women, he arrested him. Cosby has now been found guilty of sexual assault and will probably die in prison.

An article on this topic:


conservative - old fashioned, not very open-minded, not willing to take risks or think new ideas

to sue someone - to take someone to court to try to get money from the person

a retrial - if a person is accused of a crime, he/she may choose to have a jury trial. This means that 12 people will decide whether the person is guilty or innocent. If all 12 people cannot agree, then a new jury might be selected and a new trial might happen. This is called a retrial. Cosby was tried once before and the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict (unanimous - everyone agrees).

a verdict - a decision as to whether a person is guilty or innocent. So you can have a guilty verdict or a not-guilty verdict or a verdict of a hung jury (the jury cannot unanimously decide)

3 counts - three different crimes

aggravated - means something was made worse or it was done more than once

assault - means to attack someone

indecent assault - sexual assault; indecent means dirty or of an unwanted sexual nature

TV icon - a famous person from television history; if something is iconic it is famous and easily recognizable. The Statue of Liberty is an icon of New York City. The Great Wall of China is an icon of China.

to be convicted - found guilty

haunted America - like a ghost that won't go away; if there are ghosts in your house, your house is haunted

serial sexual predator - serial: happens over and over: sexual predator: a predator is an animal that hunts for prey that can be eaten, so a sexual predator is a person who looks for people he can abuse

molested - sexually attacked

deliberations - when the jury thinks about whether a person is guilty or innocent

$1 million bail - if a person wants to stay out of jail until the end of his trial, he can hand over money to the court system. If he/she fails to show up, he/she loses all the money and the police will hunt for this person all over the country.

sentencing - when the judge determines the punishment

bail revoked...flight risk - the prosecutor wanted the bail to be given back and Cosby to be placed in jail because he thinks Cosby will try to run away or leave the country. The judge knows this is impossible, however, because Cosby is nearly blind and too famous to escape.

deadlocked - they couldn't decide on a unanimous decision

a mistrial - when a jury cannot reach a decision, it is called a mistrial

consensual - he said that he had sex with her, but that she agreed to it

asserting - strongly stating

an appeal - they will go to a higher court and a higher judge and try to get the verdict overturned

resilience - being able to tolerate a lot of stress and trouble; to be resilient

advocates - spokespeople, people who speak for others

inspiring - making others believe that they can do something difficult

exultant - extremely happy

vindicated - proven to have been right

validated - proven to have been speaking truthfully

the legacy of this case - how this case will influence other cases in the future

to feel empowered - to feel as if you can do things, that you have power and strength instead of feeling like a helpless victim

perpetrators - criminals

to mount protests - to organize and hold protests

a topless protest - women took off their shirts and bras to protest

sequestered - if a court case is really big, the judge may require that the jurors be kept in a hotel without televisions, radios or the internet. They are completely cut off from the world. This is why the judge thanked the jury so deeply - they were cut off from the world during the trial and could not even communicate with family members.

the metoo movement - the internet movement to expose powerful men who have been secretly
sexually attacking women

to creep into the courtroom - to get in without anyone noticing, to secretly get in and influence the jurors

to be politically correct - to say and do the right thing based on what you think a majority of others want you to do

biased - prejudiced against him, holding negative feelings against him because of the metoo movement and news reports about him before the jury was sequestered

to testify - to make statements in the trial

the judge put his thumb on the scale - if you are weighing something and put your thumb on the scale, you will not get an accurate weight, the weight will be higher. Some people who sell candy or other foods will put their thumbs on the scale to get more money. By saying the judge put his thumb on the scale, this person is saying the judge was trying to influence the case so that the jury would find Cosby guilty.

where there's smoke, there's fire - if you see smoke, it had to come from a fire, so if a lot of people (over 50 women) are claiming that Cosby attacked them, that's like a lot of smoke pointing to a fire - Cosby attacked them.

an alleged crime - a supposed crime, a crime that was claimed but not proved

an accuser - someone who claims someone else did something wrong

acclaimed - famous

to garner - to get

daunting - difficult

burden-of-proof - this means that a person can be found guilty ONLY if the prosecutor REALLY, TRULY proves guilt. No smoke, fire!

a felony case - a felony is a major crime, a misdemeanor is a minor crime

a statute of limitations - a law which indicates how much time can go by before a person is arrested. There is no statute of limitations for murder in the USA, so a murderer can be arrested many years after a murder

to expire - to end

Cosby was deposed - he was asked questions by the victims lawyer and his answers were recorded; the process is called a deposition

the decisive point - the most important point

quiescent - quiet

he charged Cosby - he had Cosby arrested and set for trial

to frame a celebrity - to falsely accuse a celebrity to make money

sniping at - shooting at, verbally attacking 

a caustic attack - a burning, harsh attack

a defense lawyer - a lawyer that tries to keep a person out of jail; the opposite of a prosecutor

a con artist - someone who lies or deceives to make money illegally

bashed - hit, attacked

sordid - dirty

to belie something - to prove something to be untrue

the dawning - the beginning

nobody lives in a vacuum - we are all affected by things around us

diligent - serious, conscientious, wanting to do the best job possible

credibility - believability

to be sympathetic to someone - to feel sorry for someone

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Tourists in China killed a kangaroo by throwing bricks at it (to make it hop)

{{{a kangaroo}}}

Personally, I don't like zoos. In the novel The Life of Pi a zoo keeper states that animals are happy in zoos because an animal's entire aim in life is to eat and zoos make eating very easy for the creatures. This is a middle-class guy's perspective of animals, however. There is substantial research that animals suffer emotional/psychological pain in zoos. You don't even see an animal's true nature in a zoo because the animal is so restricted in regard to its movements.

So when people go to a zoo, they expect to see animals behaving "naturally" in very restricted and unnatural areas. When they just see the animal standing there, doing nothing, as lots of zoo animals do (because, honestly, what else is there for them to do?) they become disappointed.

In China, some tourists were so disappointed by not being able to see the kangaroos jump in one zoo that they began throwing bricks at the kangaroos. Bricks are those reddish/brown objects that houses are often made of (they are, basically, a type of dried clay).

They killed a kangaroo by doing this.

An article about this:

Vocabulary from the article:

to hop - you can see the kangaroo in the photo above hopping; to hop is to jump slightly in the air while moving forward. Bunnies/rabbits also hop.

to hurl something (at someone or something) - to throw something, but actually, if you hurl something it is implied that what you are throwing is a little larger than normal. So you would throw a ball but hurl a brick.

to injure someone or some creature - to hurt without killing

a marsupial - this is the type of animal that a kangaroo is; a marsupial is an early type of mammal and they are found largely in Australia. Many of the females have pouches (like a giant pocket) where their young live. 

a chunk - a piece of something

veterinary surgeon - a doctor who operates on animals; a veterinarian is an animal doctor

ruptured - when something is torn or forced open

a projectile - anything which can be thrown or launched

severed - cut off

intravenous drip - when they put a needle into a patient's arm which is attached to a bag of fluids, so that the patient can take the fluids directly into his/her blood system

to provoke someone or something - to cause it to do something, to push s/o or s/t to do something

their signature hop - their famous hop; the hop that gives them their identity to humans

to deter visitors from - to scare visitors from doing something; to deter someone from doing something means you do something to stop a person from doing something because he/she is afraid of the consequences

lightly regulated - there are not that many laws or rules

abysmal conditions - horrible conditions; an abyss is a very deep and deadly hole in the ground

the notion of something - the idea of something

to be deeply ingrained - to be a part of someone's nature or personality; if you have a deeply ingrained sense of right and wrong it might be because your parents stressed what is right and wrong to you until this became a part of you

an enclosure - an area where an animal is kept in a zoo

an investor - someone who provides money for a business while hoping to make a profit

a business dispute - a business argument

to be mauled by tigers - the be attacked and partially eaten or bitten very badly

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The African American guys arrested at the Philadelphia Starbucks tell their side of the story

Two African American guys went to a Starbucks to meet a guy with whom they were working on a business project. They did not bother to buy anything. One of them tried to use the bathroom and was told he could not do so unless he bought something first. The manager then told the guys they could not sit and wait without buying anything. They would not buy anything and they would not leave.

So the manager of the Starbucks called the police and the police told the men they had to buy something or leave. They did not do either thing - they told the police they were waiting for someone.

The police arrested the men, but later (after 8 hours) released them.

Starbucks fired the manager and apologized. They are going to provide a training program to teach all of their staff members how not to discriminate against people at Starbucks. (prejudice is an attitude, something a person feels; discrimination is action taken against people because of prejudice)

The Philadelphia Police Department (this happened in Philadelphia) claims that the police did the right thing. If you walk into a coffee shop, you have to buy something, you cannot use the space for free.

How do you feel about this?

An article:


to be arrested: this is when the police take a person into custody (they take a person to the police station because they believe he/she has committed a crime)

to be accused of something: when someone says you have done something wrong

trespassing - going some place you were not allowed to go (often this means you entered onto land that doesn't belong to you - here it means they entered a restaurant and didn't buy anything)

an entrepreneur - a business person, someone who wants to get involved in a business activity

a barista - at Starbucks, the people behind the counter are called baristas

to decline - to say 'no'

real estate - property

ultimately - finally

to handcuff someone - to put a metal device around a person's two wrists so that he cannot fight

escorted them - led them, removed them from the store

a squad car - a police car

the charges they were facing - the accusations against them, what they were accused of, what they supposedly had done wrong

the charges were dropped - the police said, "OK, we are removing any accusations against you, you may go."

prompted protests - caused protests

a protest - when a group of people come together publicly to complain about something they feel is wrong

minding their own business - not bothering any one

their Miranda rights - whenever anyone in America is arrested, the police have to tell the person his/her rights - "You have the right to remain silent, you don't have to say anything, you also have the right to get a lawyer immediately..." Miranda was a person who was arrested but he wasn't told his rights and he complained about this. So now there is a la named after him requiring the police to tell every arrested person what his/her rights are.

defiant trespassing - you are someplace you shouldn't be and you won't leave (you are defiant - you say "No! I won't do that!")

a video testimonial - a video statement

candidly - completely honestly

to spot something - to see something, to realize something

unconscious bias - bias means prejudice; unconscious bias means you are not even aware that you are acting because you are prejudiced against certain people

reprehensible - very, very wrong, disgustingly wrong

subsequently - later, afterwards

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Lyft driver abandoned a pilot mid-ride due to the low price of a fare

So what would you have done? 

Let's say you are a Lyft driver and you pick a guy up and start driving him to the airport. After a few minutes you realize you are going to travel an hour and only make $6. Well, you picked the guy up and started driving him, so you have to finish your job, correct?

Well, one Lyft driver didn't see things that way. He just stopped his car and forced an airline pilot out in the middle of nowhere. The pilot was late for his flight due to this. 

Thankfully the pilot recorded enough of this exchange to prove what really happened.

So, obviously, if you pick a guy up, you have to finish the job, correct? If the fare is too little for you, do not pick the guy up. 

But, whose fault is this ultimately? 

The article:


to kick someone out of some place - to force the person to leave

to drop someone off at a place - to drive a person somewhere

a random spot - not a chosen spot, just any spot, a spot decided on arbitrarily or randomly or not due to a rational or deliberate choice

a tight schedule - he did not have much extra time, a schedule that does not give you much extra time

abruptly - suddenly

to be worth it - super useful: It wasn't worth it for him to....It wasn't worth it for me to... It was worth it to go to the beach today because it was free and I was able to relax.

a ride hailing app - to hail a cab, or to hail a car is to literally wave on the sidewalk to get the driver's attention so that you can use his service. So a ride-hailing app is an app that helps you get a car ride without actually 'hailing' a cab on the street.

initial - first

to feel frustrated - to feel as if there is no solution to a problem or that you are in a bad situation and all the choices suck

his rank - the fact that he was an airline pilot

gunning it - that means he started driving the car super fast to get the ride over with as soon as possible

running stop signs - not stopping for stop signs

whipped out his cell phone - he pulled out his cell phone quickly

things were going downhill - things were getting worse

incredulous - if someone is incredulous he has a hard time believing something is happening

citing - indicating, pointing to

what transpired - what happened

a form letter - a letter that a company sends to everyone or to a certain group of people