Friday, March 13, 2015

Is there 'free speech' in US news sources?

No. There is very little 'free speech" in US newspapers and mainstream internet news sources.

In fact, the US comes in at 49th in the world in regard to freedom of speech in its newspapers.

I would say that even the New York Times does not show freedom of speech. For example, the NY Times has many political biases (prejudices or orientations - likes/dislikes). It tends to write good stories about Democratic politicians, even if these politicians are corrupt (dishonest).

Recently one of the most corrupt Democratic politicians in history was arrested by the US Government. Everyone in NY State knew that Sheldon Silver was a corrupt guy, but you never read any articles in the NY Times about this.  There are several corrupt Democratic politicians who are left alone by the NY Times. (Interestingly, the NY Post seems to be the paper that attacks corrupt politicians the most.) In the article below, however, it seems that the NY Times no longer likes Obama and is very critical of him.

So although this article states that the amount of freedom newspapers have is limited because of Obama's policies, I would argue that the newspapers themselves are often corrupt and dishonest and they often do not present the news fairly or objectively.

Here's an article about the lack of freedom of speech in the USA.

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

drops to 49th - they had a higher ranking but fell

worst ranking since Obama became president - they seem to imply that Obama is trying to control the news in the USA

to abridge - to shorten or hurt (in this case)

fared even worse - did even worse

banning - prohibiting; so Israel killed foreign journalists and stopped other Israelis from going on TV to complain about all the children being killed by Israel in a war

cited - indicated

persecution - if someone is persecuted, he is unfairly or illegally attacked. Jim Risen had received secret information from someone in the government about Iran's nuclear program and Risen published this information. Obama wanted Risen to tell the government the name of the person in the US government who gave Risen the information. Risen would not.  The government threatened to throw him in jail but dropped matters completely instead. So this wasn't really a 'persecution.'

an arrest - when the police take someone to the police station for a supposed crime

to plummet - to drop quickly

scathing - harsh

a denunciation - an attack against something felt to be wrong

eroded - worn away, slowly gotten rid of something

leaks - when secret information is given to journalists

a precedent - an example from before

echoed - reinforced, repeated


My book:

Two Thais were thrown in jail for insulting the King of Thailand

This happened a couple weeks ago, and I meant to post it back then, but I have been a bit overwhelmed. 

In Thailand now a military 'junta' (a group of members of the military) has taken control of the Thai government from the elected leader Yingluck Shinawatra. So there is no democracy in Thailand any more.

There is also no freedom of speech as two students were recently arrested for writing a play that was felt to be disrespectful toward the Thai King.

The story seems to indicate they had been waiting for their trial (a trial is a process in a court room where you are either found to be guilty or not guilty) for one year and they will be in jail for another two years +.

Here is the story:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

to insult someone - to say things meant to make some look bad

the monarchy - in this case the monarchy means the king of Thailand

pleaded guilty - stated that they were guilty or that they had broken a law

strict - very severe, harsh, hard

a lese majeste law - this is a law that protects the reputation of a king or queen. 

the charges - the accusations, the alleged crimes, the supposed crimes

to silence dissent - to keep people who disagree with the military junta quiet; those who dissent are those who disagree 

convicted - found guilty

a sentence - in this case a punishment dealing with doing time in prison

reduced because they admitted guilt  - decreased because they said they were guilty; I believe the only reason they said they were guilty was to avoid spending 15 years in jail. Thailand seems to be a terrible place to live these days.

a verdict - a decision of guilt of innocence

activists - people who try to change things that are wrong

to dare to do something - to do something even though you may be harmed by doing it

staging the play - performing the play

allegorical songs - symbolic songs, songs in which certain symbols represent something else; for instance a wolf might represent the king.

left leaning groups - political groups that favor the people and not business or the military

bolder - stronger

the glorification of the king - making the king look much better than he actually is

transgressors - people who have violated or broken a law; so the current junta is going through past actions and finding people who insulted the king because the junta wants the people of Thailand to live in fear

a fantasy kingdom - not a real kingdom

featured a fictional king - it's main character was a fictional king

pro-democracy - for democracy; anti means against democracy

the offence - the violation, the crime

to defame - to make false statements about someone

snaring - catching

a coup - a military attack to take over the government

aiming to - they intend to, they are going to

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The US Government cracks down on illegal 'ghost' schools run by 3 Koreans in Los Angeles

U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura from the Federal Government

In the book I wrote: "New York City Sucks, but You'll Want to Come Here Anyway" I wrote about 'ghost' schools or F-1 Visa schools in New York City.

This is a type of (illegal) place where foreign students pay money to get an F-1 student visa, but they don't have to go to classes. These are places which call themselves schools, but which are not really schools.  They are able to do the paper work to give students an F-1 student visa and students can stay in the USA and enjoy themselves. They have to pay the 'ghost' schools, but the amount is less than what they would pay for a real school.

Some students I have worked with in the past have attended 'ghost' schools in New York City. There is a government agency called The New York State Education Department which is supposed to investigate 'ghost' schools, but my students have told me NYSED sucks and doesn't care. Indeed, NY state is one of the most corrupt (dishonest) states in the USA and there are lots of people in positions of power who simply don't care about doing proper investigations. 

Someone told me that NYSED gets much of its funding money by fees the schools it investigates pays to them. So if they close down these schools, they receive less funding money. Some of my students have told me that NYSED will give a 'school' notice that it will be investigated on a certain day. So on this day people actually show up and pretend to be students. After this day, nobody shows up.

So thank goodness the Federal Government cares. They shut down some ghost schools in Los Angeles. These fake schools were being run by some Koreans who were making millions of dollars illegally. They need to come to New York City.

Here is an article from the LA Times:

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

to crack down on something - to take forceful action to stop something

feds - investigators from the federal government - Washington D.C. There are 50 states with state governments and one federal government in Washington D.C. with power over the states.

to allege - to claim, to assert, to state that something is true

fraud - illegal activity in which money is stolen

trade schools - these are schools which teach skills, including languages

to arrest - when the police believe a person has committed a crime and they take him/her in to the police station to charge the person with a crime (to formally accuse a person of having done something wrong). The person then has to go to trial in a courtroom.

a scam - an illegal activity

foreign nationals - people from foreign countries.

to tap, tapped - to tap something or tap into something means to reach something or gain access to something

booming - increasing

suspects - the people who were believed to be running the ghost schools

an indictment - pronounced in DITE ment, when the court system agrees that there is enough evidence for a person who has been arrested to go to jail. A 21 count indictment means the court believes the people arrested should be charged with 21 crimes.

a federal grand jury - this is a collection of citizens who determine whether there is enough evidence for the people accused of the crimes to go to a trial in a court room.

to enroll - to take in as students

abused their responsibility - they acted illegally, they were not responsible

to ensure - to make sure

legitimate - lawful, those who follow the law

integrity - honesty

arraigned - another legal term meaning they'll go before a judge and say whether they want a trial or they want to say they are guilty

money laundering - a legal term for a type of crime where money is hidden or not reported properly

the culmination - the final result

The key to the scam was an immigration document that allows shows - this doesn't make sense, remove "shows" for this sentence in the article to work.  Someone didn't edit this article very well.

to fake something - to make something seem real when it isn't

If you are in New York City and need a good tutor, here is my ad: