Saturday, August 15, 2015

Artist Anish Kapoor wants to sue China over the 'fake Bean'.

Here's the 'Bean' (or Cloud Gate) by Anish Kapoor, which has become Chicago's most popular landmark:

(image from

In a Chinese city this work has recently been displayed, which seems quite similar to Kapoor's:

Kapoor is not happy about this at all. In fact he asked the Mayor (leader) of the city of Chicago to complain about this, but the Mayor of Chicago stated that it was no big deal to him and that Kapoor should drop matters and stop complaining.

Yet Kapoor claims that he is going to sue China because of this. With whom do you agree - the Mayor of Chicago or Kapoor?

(to sue - this is when a person feels that something wrong has occurred and hires a lawyer and they go to court to try to stop something from happening or to receive money from the person who did the wrong thing in order to punish that person.)

Here is the article:

Vocabulary from the article:

a knock-off - usually a cheaper version of an original thing, or an imitation of something original

to accuse someone of something - to claim or assert that someone did something wrong

blatant plagiarism - blatant means really obvious, plagiarism is when someone copies your work or steals from your work

affectionately - lovingly, warmly

a skyline - the view of skyscrapers from far away

reportedly - apparently, supposedly

something uncanny - something that is not natural, so an uncanny resemblance would mean that the Chinese sculpture does not look the same as the Bean for natural reasons

permissible - allowable, possible

infringement - violation; you infringe on a person's rights when you violate those rights

enforcement - to enforce something means to make sure that certain laws are followed and that people who violate the laws are punished

divulged - revealed (to divulge = to reveal)

he went on the record - he officially stated

Monday, August 3, 2015

1/3 of US children live in poverty

Poverty is the condition of not having enough money to live up to decent or acceptable standards. It's hard to define exactly how much money a person needs in order not to be in poverty, but UNICEF has created a standard by which to judge whether people in a country are living in poverty or not.

According to the UNICEF standard, 1/3 of US children live in poverty. The US is 36th out of 41 'developed' countries that were tested.

I think this is because the US government is good at providing free services, free food, free housing, free medical care etc., but it is not good at helping people to help themselves. The Democrats get people to vote for them by giving out free things and the Republicans just want to take free things away from people. There is no middle ground of useful answers in the USA - it's all politics.

This article is from last year, but it is worth reading:

Vocabulary from the article:

the developed world - I am not sure how they determine 'developed' versus 'undeveloped' countries, but developed countries would be countries with a strong business sector, I am guessing.

The US ranks near the bottom - to rank a series of things is to place them from first to last

the pack - the group, in this case

Let that sink in - basically the writer is saying this is so shocking you should think about it and absorb this or understand this deeply

pegs - establishes

more alarmingly - an alarm goes off when something is wrong, so more alarmingly means the writer is pointing out something even worse than he pointed out before

benchmarking - establishing; so the writer points out its really difficult to establish an amount of money under which a person can be considered to live in poverty.

former, latter - the latter is the last thing mentioned, the former is the thing mentioned before the latter thing

vulnerable - those who can be hurt easily

Sunday, August 2, 2015

An art project in India against sex-slavery, sex-trafficking

Among its other huge social problems (hunger, inequality, rape) India leads the world in slavery. In fact, India seems to have about 45% of all the world's slaves - about 15 million people are forced to live as slaves in India. Many of these people are women who are forced to live as sex slaves - they have to work as prostitutes (selling their bodies for sex). 

An artist (Leena Kejriwa) in Calcutta (Kolkata) is trying to make people aware of this issue so that sex-slavery can be stopped.

The article:


a red light district - this is an area in some cities where there are many prostitutes and men can find women to have sex with for money very easily. There are often many bars, nightclubs etc.

commercial sex trafficking - this means kidnapping girls and forcing them to work as prostitutes for money for others

a stencil - this is when you cut an image out from paper so that you can paint an outline of the image somewhere. (please look at the photos in the article)

a safe home - a place where children can live without fear of being harmed; it is free and run by a charity (maybe a religious charity)

rural areas - the countryside, not the city

to groom them into something - to develop them into something, to make them begin to behave in the way you want them to behave

puberty - the time when a child begins to change into an adult

silhouette - a black image of a person based on the person's outline

installation work - a work of art meant to be seen but not purchased

it has morphed - it has changed, it has developed, it has evolved

the magnitude of the problem - just how bad the problem is

to caption the silhouette - to add words next to it

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A robotic Abe bows in apology for Japanese war crimes (at a Shanghai robotics show)

So why did Germany apologize after World War II and work so hard to show that it was truly contrite (sorry, regretful) for all of the horrible things it had done during the 1930s and 1940s?

My guess is that during the domination (extreme control) of the Nazi government in Germany (from 1933 to 1945) there were many Germans who still opposed (were against) Hitler and even secretly fought against him and his government.  When World War II ended, some of these Germans took control of the German government. Since they had never been 'real' Nazis themselves, it was easy for them to say that Germany had done horrible things and to openly apologize and admit to all the war crimes and crimes against humanity of those years.

I am not sure there was much of a resistance in Japan during World War II (resistance would mean an organized movement of people against the government). Also, the Emperor was allowed to remain in office after the war. I am assuming that the Japanese who took control of the Japanese government after WWII had supported the war and the policies that occurred under Hirohito's reign. The worst Japanese war criminals were executed by the US military (killed by the military) but the people who took office in Japan had probably supported the war and the war-time government. 

I think this helps to explain why Germany went out of its way to admit the truth about WWII and apologize for starting it. China and Korea are still upset with Japan to this day for, as they see it, not following suit (not doing the same thing as Germany). 

This lingering (lasting) anger toward Japan can be seen at a robotics show in Shanghai, where someone has created a robot of Japanese Prime Minister Abe bowing to apologize for what Japan did during WWII. 

The article:

Vocabulary from the article:

to bow - this means to bend one's body forward from the waist as a sign of respect or sorrow or regret

atrocities - war crimes, horrible things done by soldiers in a war

a stiff smile - an unmoving smile, a tense smile, a smile that doesn't change

presumed - guessed, assumed

to ridicule someone - to make fun of someone, to make it seem as if someone is foolish

China is set to - China is ready to

to mark - to remember

However, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said a press conference on Monday Abe has not received such an invitation. correction: However, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a press conference on Monday that Abe has not received such an invitation.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Zimbabwe wants to put Cecil's killer on trial

An American dentist went to Zimbabwe, in Africa, and killed a lion which had become famous throughout the world. This dentist, apparently, enjoys hunting large animals around the world.

Zimbabwe is now seeking to extradite him. This means that they want the United States to send him back to Zimbabwe to be put on trial. A trial is a legal process in which a person is determined to be guilty or innocent of a crime.

Apparently it was illegal to hunt this lion, and the American dentist 'lured' the lion outside of a park where it was protected by the law in order to kill it. "To lure" someone or something means to attract it or draw it from one place to another.

The dentist thought that by luring the lion outside of the park and onto another person's land, he could legally kill it. This was not the case.

Here is a story about this from CNN:

Vocabulary from the article:  

outrage - extreme anger

to extradite - this is when a person is wanted for a crime in a country where he is no longer located and his home country is asked to send him to trial in the country where the crime may have happened

prized - valued

a well-orchestrated agenda - a well-designed and organized plan

to tarnish an image - to make an image look worse; a silver spoon can become tarnished if it is not taken care of - it turns a brownish color

to strain a relationship - to add stress or difficulties to a relationship

a guide - someone who assists a hunter to find wild animals

to be accused of something - this is when the police officially blame someone for doing something illegal

using a crossbow - this is a type of bow and arrow: they did not want to use a gun or they would have been caught illegally hunting.

a lion quota - if there are too many lions in a park, hunters may be allowed to enter the park and kill lions until the proper number is reached

poaching - illegal hunting; apparently the landowner helped lure the lion onto his property, where the dentist shot it

to condemn an action - to strongly say it is wrong

a conservationist - someone who wants to protect wild animals

sustainable utilization of natural resources - making sure that natural resources do not run out or 
are destroyed completely

to ensure a legal hunt - to make sure of a legal hunt

collared - scientists had placed an electronic collar on the lion to study where it traveled

allegedly - supposedly, apparently

to be lured - to be attracted by something so that someone or some animal moves to a place others want it to go to

the uproar - the noise created by an angry public

a petition - a document demanding something from the government which can be signed by numerous people

to be tried - to be put on trial, a process in a courtroom to determine a person's guilt or innocence

Feds mum - this means the federal government is mum on this issue - they are silent on this issue

a hunting quota - a number of animals which can be killed

a boost - an increase

in the wake of - following

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The WHO admits it needs revamping

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

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

An article on problems and upcoming changes to the WHO:

Vocabulary from the article:

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

capacity - the ability to get something done

a damning report - a super critical report

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

the review panel - the group that wrote the report

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

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

reform - complete or near complete change

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

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

rapid - quick, fast

scaling up - increasing

up to speed - up to date, aware

severity - how serious a situation is

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

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

an epidemic - when a disease spreads rapidly

Sunday, July 5, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a story about NINE building code violations

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

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

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

She immediately got back to me and promised assistance. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Gauss