Friday, April 21, 2017

Should restaurants have to provide free access to restrooms for the public?

A politician in Chicago wants to create a law which will force restaurants to provide free access to anyone who needs a bathroom if the situation is an 'emergency'. 

Here is the article about this situation:

Vocabulary from the article:

restroom, bathroom, washroom - these terms are used interchangeably for the place where a toilet is located. 

gotta go? - Do you have to go?

an ordinance - a law

when nature calls - another way of saying: when a person has to go to the bathroom

rookie - someone new is often called a rookie. If it is your first year as a nurse, you are a rookie nurse. Teacher: rookie teacher. a rookie Ald. means rookie Alderman. An Alderman in Chicago represents his neighborhood in the city government and helps make laws for the city.

to be humiliated - to be deeply embarrassed, to do something that others might laugh at or look down on someone for

who had just had an accident - this means that she either peed or pooped in her pants. If you are a parent and your very young child pees or poops in his/her pants, you might say, "Oops my child just had an accident. We need to change his/her pants."

to be inhumane - to be lacking in real human values or morality, not to act like a kind and caring human being

Moore's ordinances goes further - it should be 'ordinance'

general counsel - general adviser/lawyer

well-intentioned - the person who created the ordinance wants to do something good, but....

Wrigley Field - the place where the Chicago Cubs play baseball. It is an area with lots of restaurants.

St. Patty's Day - St. Patrick's Day, a day celebrating the accomplishments of St. Patrick, who brought civilization to Ireland. Lots of people drink on this day and there are parades in many American cities.

massive amounts - huge, large amounts

too much of a burden - too difficult to deal with; a burden is something heavy you have to carry

the mandate - the law

burdensome - difficult

to be equipped - to have the capacity or facilities necessary to do something

substantial - big enough to matter

a genuine emergency - a real emergency

hit the head without having to walk too far - to hit the head means to go to the bathroom

edict - law

imposed on - forced on

death by a thousand cuts - business owners are saying that the government of Chicago is killing business slowly by doing one little thing after another that hurts business, like the form of execution (public killing) called 'death by a thousand cuts' where the person dies slowly after being cut by a knife several times. Chicago has some of the highest taxes in the country because it did not transition well after all of its factories moved to other cities in other countries. So the government keeps trying to get as much money as it can from its businesses (thus causing more and more businesses to leave the city). Chicago, as well as its businesses, is dying a slow death. 

a higher minimum wage - the minimum wage in Chicago is now $11/hr. Businesses would prefer that wages be established by the market and by supply and demand. Many business owners feel that a higher minimum wage hurts their businesses. Proponents (supporters) of a higher minimum wage feel this helps people overcome poverty and that it puts more money into the economy.

paid disproportionately - there are many people in labor unions in Chicago. A labor union is an organization that is supposed to protect workers in a particular industry. The biggest unions in Chicago are of government workers: the police, firemen and teachers. There are many of these people and so politicians have given them good salaries and large pensions after their retirement. Politicians have done this to get the votes of these union workers. In order to pay for the huge pensions (money paid to a person after he/she retires) the city is taxing businesses well above and beyond what citizens are being taxed (businesses are being taxed disproportionately - not in the right proportion). Yes, Chicago is PIGS: Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain.

to be nickeled and dimed - to have someone stealing small amounts of money from you repeatedly

piling on - when one burden is added to another, then another burden is added then another etc.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The guy who was dragged off an airplane in Chicago...

United Airlines had a full airplane ready to go on a flight from Chicago to Louisville. They then realized that they needed to put 4 United employees on that last flight of the day to Louisville so they could begin work in Louisville the next morning. This meant removing 4 paid customers who were already seated.

Usually an airline will offer money to people who might be willing to give up their seats in a situation like this. In this case, nobody wanted to accept the money and leave and people were chosen randomly to be forced off the flight.

One man refused to move. When the police arrived, they violently removed him.

This is just another example of how people simply do not seem to have basic problem solving skills and will resort to violence and force instead of fully using their intelligence to defuse and resolve a problem.

The Economist offers some solutions to this situation in this brief article:

Vocabulary from the article:

to compensate - in this case, to provide money for a service or action

a bumped passenger - someone who has to leave the plane because it was overbooked

habitually - a habit is something you tend to do over and over again, for instance smoking is a habit, and drinking sugary soft drinks is a habit

the assumption - the belief

to misfire - in this case: to be wrong, to miscalculate, to develop in a way you did not want it to

plumped for - chose (this is an obscure word choice, don't bother memorizing it)

would strike someone as wrong - someone would realize it to be wrong

they upped the ante - a poker term meaning it raised the amount of money at stake or available

to tempt them to leave - if you tempt someone to do something you try to get them to do something by offering something pleasurable. 

randomly selected two people - they did not deliberately choose two people, they allowed a computer to choose two people by chance or without making a conscious choice

to disembark - to leave

distress - emotional pain

unrepentant - not sorry

mealy-mouthed - if someone says something in a mealy-mouthed way, he is lying because he is afraid to say what really happened

stinginess - cheapness

publicity - news

Questions to consider:

Why do airlines sometimes overbook flights?

Have you ever been in a situation where a flight was overbooked? What happened? 

If an airline overbooks a flight and nobody wants to leave, what should the airline do?

If the police come to a passenger who refuses to leave, what should they do?

If you had been that passenger, what would you have done?

Who was right and who was wrong in this situation?

Do you feel differently about United Airlines because of this video?

Some people want to boycott United now, how do you feel about this?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Were chemical weapons used by Assad's army in the Syrian Civil War?

{{{Photo from NY Daily News}}}

The Syrian Civil War began in 2011 when a series of protests around the country led to the formation of rebel armies meant to overthrow the dictator of Syria, Bashar al Assad. Anywhere from 250,000 to 400,000 people have died in the fighting. Millions of refugees have been forced to leave the country.

Initially the United States, under Barack Obama, tried to avoid involvement in this conflict. Later, the Obama administration began to support various rebel armies in their attempt to overthrow Assad. It is hard to understand what Trump's policy might now be - he seemed willing to support a Russian plan to keep Assad in power while eliminating ISIS and negotiating with other rebel groups to stop fighting.

The latest development concerns allegations that Assad's government attacked a city controlled by rebels with chemical weapons. Russia and Assad deny this. Hopefully this latest act of horror will not cause this war to escalate.

Below is an article from the BBC about this latest situation. 

Vocabulary from the above passage:

a protest - when groups of people gather publicly to express disapproval of some government policy or action.

a rebel group/army - a group or army opposed to the established government.

a dictator - one person who controls or dominates the government.

refugees - people forced to leave their own country due to war or some other horrible situation.

allegations - claims that something wrong has occurred.

to escalate - to get worse.

The article:

Vocabulary from the article:

fury (uncountable) - extreme anger

UN Security Council - an organization at the United Nations which is supposed to help ensure peace in the world.

an ally - a friend

pledged - promised

a monitoring group - a group that is supposed to watch what happens

choking - not being able to breathe

foaming at the mouth - lots of small bubbles due to the reaction between poisonous air and internal bodily fluids

to feel dizzy - not to feel stable, to feel as if you are going to fall down

symptoms - evidence of some type of disease or physical problem

neurotoxic - harmful to brain cells

to launch an attack - to make an attack or begin an attack

a depot - an area where things are stored

militants - fighters, soldiers

aviation - air planes

made a strike on - dropped bombs on or shot missiles at

munitions - stuff to be shot out of guns or dropped from planes, ammunition

making a mockery of the peace process - making a joke out of the peace process, not taking the peace process seriously, showing contempt for the peace process

brokered - negotiated

senseless - if something is senseless there is no reason for it

to impose sanctions on - if a country has sanctions imposed on it, other countries might not trade with that country or be allowed to interact with it

obsessed with - completely and totally focused on

a UN Security Council resolution - an order to do something issued by the Security Council

to be staged - if something did not really happen, but people made it look as if it happened, it has been staged

a false narrative - a false story

to deflect attention from - to deflect something means to push it to the side

hinting - not saying something directly but implying something, suggesting something

unilateral action - action by the USA alone

to be compelled to do something - to feel forced to do something

an array - a grouping

broadly aligned groups - groups agreeing with each other in general terms

fanciful - like a fantasy, not real

unsustainable - in this case, not provable

an affront - an insult

subsequently - afterwards

internally displaced - no longer living in their own homes