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Dateline: 1 September 2007

Story #1

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

Story #1: Suicide Linked to Massive Toy Recall
Chinese CEO, Zhang Shuhong committed suicide this August after his company, Lee Der Industrial, was blamed for the massive Fisher Price toy recall. 1 million plastic preschool toys, featuring popular characters such as Elmo, were recalled after they were found lead paint. Most of the toys were sold in the U.S., though other nations including Australia had to advertise the recall. A ban on the export of Lee Der products caused the company an initial estimated of $30 million dollars. Lee Der's paint supplier was believed to be Zhang's closest friend.

Comprehension Questions: Story #1

  1. Who was Zhang Shuhong?
  2. Why was there a major toy recall?
  3. Why does the article mention Zhang Shuhong's best friend?
Discussion Question:
In July, China executed its previous food and drug chief due to his role in approving untested medicine. Some people feel that this played a role in Zhang Shuhong's decision to take his own life. What do you think?

Story #2

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

Story #2: Bridge Collapses over Mississippi River
of motor vehicles toppled into the Mississippi River after an bridge collapsed during rush hour traffic in Minnesota this August. Some were able to swim out of their cars safely while others drowned or were . A group of 60 children riding a school bus made it safely off the bridge after the driver instinctively the parking brake. Terrorism and seismic activity were quickly ruled out, and the disaster was blamed on structural failure. The bridge had been recently inspected and repairs were being . 13 people were killed and over 100 were injured.

Comprehension Questions: Story #2

  1. When did this incident occur?
  2. What happened to the kids on the school bus, and why?
  3. What did officials say was NOT a possible cause of the collapsed bridge?
Discussion Question: The U.S. government spends millions of dollars building and repairing infrastructure in foreign countries. Do you think they should spend some of this money on their own ageing roads and bridges?

Story #3

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

Story #3: Peru Devastated by Earthquake
A massive earthquake Peru this August killing at least 500 people, and injuring more than 1500. The towns of Inca, Pisco, and Chincha were also structurally devastated by the 8.0 earthquake, which lasted for two minutes and was followed by aftershocks. Doctors taking part in a national strike at the time of the earthquake were quick to resume service. Hundreds of victims waited for in and around the badly damaged in Chincha, while hundreds of escaped the local jail. Evacuation orders went out in nearby Pacific Coastal regions due to fear of a tsunami.

Comprehension Questions: Story #3

  1. What were doctors doing before the quake happened?
  2. Besides the injured people and fallen buildings, what other major concern was there in Chincha following the quake?
  3. What did people in nearby coastal areas fear after the quake?
Discussion Question: Peru's President spoke out against looting, suggesting that the survivors of the earthquake would receive the aid they needed. Do you think that taking necessities from other people's damaged property after a disaster should be classified as stealing? Why or why not?

Story #4

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

Story #4: Arsonists Blamed for Forest Fires in Greece
More than 60 people have died in a series of forest fires that broke out in Greece in late August causing the government to a state-of-emergency. Some of the fires are being as arson, though environmentalists are skeptical. A reward of 1 million euro has been issued for anyone with information that could lead to . Thousands of villagers on the southern Peloponnese peninsula were forced out of their homes, and many were trapped in the smoke-filled forests. The fires reached Olympia, though fire fighters were able to save the 2800-year old ruins from destruction.

Comprehension Questions: Story #4

  1. Why does the article mention a reward?
  2. What do government officials and environmental groups disagree on?
  3. What disaster was prevented by fire fighters?
Discussion Question: The government of Greece has been widely criticized for the response to these fires. In addition, their suggestion that people might intentionally burn forestland to get around laws that prevent construction in forested areas, has been questioned by environmentalists. Given the upcoming election, do you think that the government would invent the idea of an arson campaign in order to shift some of the blame?

ANSWER CHECK

Story #1

Story #1: Suicide Linked to Massive Toy Recall
Chinese CEO, Zhang Shuhong committed suicide this August shortly after his company, Lee Der Industrial, was blamed for the massive Fisher Price toy recall. Close to 1 million plastic preschool toys, featuring popular characters such as Elmo, were recalled after they were found to contain lead paint. Most of the toys were sold in the U.S., though other nations including Australia had to advertise the recall. A temporary ban on the export of Lee Der products caused the company an initial estimated loss of $30 million dollars. Lee Der's paint supplier was believed to be Zhang's closest friend.

Comprehension Answers: Story #1

  1. Zhang Shuhong was the CEO of Lee Der Industrial in China.
  2. The toys that were recalled contained lead paint, which can be poisonous.
  3. It is believed that the supplier of the paint was Zhang Shuhong's best friend.

Story #2

Story #2: Bridge Collapses over Mississippi River
Dozens of motor vehicles toppled into the Mississippi River after an 8-lane bridge collapsed during rush hour traffic in Minnesota this August. Some motorists were able to swim out of their cars safely while others drowned or were crushed . A group of 60 children riding a school bus made it safely off the bridge after the driver instinctively slammed on the parking brake. Terrorism and seismic activity were quickly ruled out, and the disaster was blamed on structural failure. The bridge had been recently inspected and repairs were being considered. 13 people were killed and over 100 were injured.

Comprehension Answers: Story #2

  1. The incident occurred during a rush hour commute.
  2. The children got out of the bus safely because the bus driver put the parking brake on when the bridge started to fall.
  3. Officials said that the cause of the bridge collapse was not due to an earthquake or a terrorist plot.

Story #3

Story #3: Peru Devastated by Earthquake
A massive earthquake struck Peru this August killing at least 500 people, and injuring more than 1500. The towns of Inca, Pisco, and Chincha were also structurally devastated by the 8.0 earthquake, which lasted for two minutes and was followed by numerous aftershocks. Doctors taking part in a national strike at the time of the earthquake were quick to resume service. Hundreds of victims waited for treatment in and around the badly damaged hospital in Chincha, while hundreds of prisoners escaped the local jail. Evacuation orders went out in nearby Pacific Coastal regions due to fear of a tsunami.

Comprehension Answers: Story #3

  1. Doctors were taking part in a national strike, but went back to work as soon as the quake hit.
  2. Hundreds of prisoners broke free from a damaged jail in Chincha.
  3. There was a concern that the earthquake could trigger a tsunami.

Story #4

Story #4: Arsonists Blamed for Forest Fires in Greece
More than 60 people have died in a series of forest fires that broke out in Greece in late August causing the government to issue a state-of-emergency. Some of the fires are being treated as arson, though environmentalists are skeptical. A reward of 1 million euro has been issued for anyone with information that could lead to an arrest. Thousands of villagers on the southern Peloponnese peninsula were forced out of their homes, and many were trapped in the smoke-filled forests. The fires reached Ancient Olympia, though fire fighters were able to save the 2800-year old ruins from total destruction.

Comprehension Answers: Story #4

  1. A reward of 1 million euro is being offerred for anyone who may have information about someone deliberately setting a fire in Greece.
  2. The government of Greece suspects that the fires may be caused by arson, while environmentalists think this is unlikely.
  3. The fire reached the ancient archeological site of the Olympic games, but was saved by firefighters.