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Dateline: 1 May 2009

Story #1

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

Story #1: L'Aquila Earthquake Leaves Thousands Homeless
More than 7000 , including specialist cavers, joined forces in response to an earthquake in Italy. The earthquake occurred in the Abruzzo region and left close to people homeless in the medieval city of L'Aquila. While L'Aquila is known well for its architecture, many of the buildings in the region were built before seismic safety standards were put into effect. However, a hospital and a residence built during were badly damaged by the earthquake, leaving many questioning building practises. Italy's government refused foreign assistance but said it would funds from the US to help restore some of its historic buildings.

Comprehension Questions: Story #1

  1. Where is L'Aquila?
  2. Why were so many buildings damaged or lost in this earthquake?
  3. Why are the buildings in L'Aquila so important?
Discussion Question:
Do you believe that buildings where you live could withstand a powerful earthquake? Why or why not?

Story #2

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

Story #2: World Unites to Combat Pirates
An international conference was held by the UN last month to address piracy concerns in Somalia. prime minister asked the UN to lift its arms embargo to allow his government to fight back against pirates. The embargo has been in effect for 16 years. the presence of UN and US naval ships, 2009 has seen a dramatic increase in global pirate attacks. Many attacks have occurred off Somalia's in the Gulf of Aden. During the conference 250 million dollars was pledged by international donors to increase the security in and around Somalia. Europe's foreign policy chief Javier Solana believes that piracy can in Somalia with international aid. He stated that pirate gangs must be targeted on land as well as .

Comprehension Questions: Story #2

  1. What does the Somali prime minister want the UN to do?
  2. Where have many of the pirate attacks occurred in 2009?
  3. Who gave money to help prevent piracy in Somalia?
Discussion Question: Somalia's prime minister feels that the UN arms embargo prevents Somalia from fighting back against pirates. Do you think security in Somalia would improve if the embargo was lifted? Why or why not?

Story #3

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

Story #3: Saudi Man Divorces Wife by Text Message
A court in Saudi Arabia approved the divorce of a man and woman after the husband sent his wife a text message saying their marriage was over. In Saudi Arabia a man only has to say three times, and it is not mandatory for the woman to be present. After sending the text message the man called two relatives to notify them of his intentions. The woman went to court and the judge approved the divorce. Women's rights activists say that women are allowed to ask for a divorce in court, but do not always grant them their rights. To be taken seriously in divorce court a woman must be accompanied by a male . The number of divorces in Saudi Arabia is steadily . The Ministry of Social Affairs puts Saudi Arabia's divorce rate at 30%, but women's rights groups there suggest that 60% of marriages end in divorce.

Comprehension Questions: Story #3

  1. How did the woman find out her husband wanted a divorce?
  2. What did the man do after he notified his wife?
  3. What must a Saudi woman bring to court if she wants to ask for a divorce?
Discussion Question: What do you think are the main causes of divorce these days? Do you think more couples in Saudi Arabia would remain married if it were harder for a man to get a divorce?

Story #4

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

Story #4: Swine Flu Shuts Down Mexico City
An outbreak of swine flu hit this April, sparking fear of a global pandemic. The military distributed millions of masks to residents and placed notices on the doors of cathedrals, , and other public buildings urging residents to stay indoors and avoid contact with those who are ill. efforts to contain the virus, countries including the United States, Canada, Scotland, and Spain have confirmed several cases of the virus. The swine flu is in pigs, but becomes more serious when spread to humans, especially those in their 20's, 30's, and 40's. Medical experts that the virus is spread via human contact, not by eating pork.

Comprehension Questions: Story #4

  1. What did the military do in Mexico City?
  2. Why is this virus called "swine flu"?
  3. Why does the article mention people in their 20's, 30's and 40's?
Discussion Question: Do you think it's fair for other governments to issue travel advisories to Mexico considering this economic downturn? Why or why not?

ANSWER CHECK

Story #1

Story #1: L'Aquila Earthquake Leaves Thousands Homeless
More than 7000 rescuers, including specialist cavers, joined forces in response to an earthquake in Italy. The earthquake occurred in the Abruzzo region and left close to 20, 000 people homeless in the medieval city of L'Aquila. While L'Aquila is known well for its architecture, many of the buildings in the region were built before seismic safety standards were put into effect. However, a hospital and a university residence built during the 80's were badly damaged by the earthquake, leaving many questioning building practises. Italy's government refused foreign assistance but said it would accept funds from the US to help restore some of its historic buildings.

Comprehension Answers: Story #1

  1. L'Aquila is in Italy.
  2. Many of the buildings were built before safety standards came into effect in the region.
  3. Historic buildings from medieval times were lost or damaged.

Story #2

Story #2: World Unites to Combat Pirates
An international conference was held by the UN last month to address piracy concerns in Somalia. Somalia's prime minister asked the UN to lift its arms embargo to allow his government to fight back against pirates. The embargo has been in effect for 16 years. Despite the presence of UN and US naval ships, 2009 has seen a dramatic increase in global pirate attacks. Many attacks have occurred off Somalia's coast in the Gulf of Aden. During the conference 250 million dollars was pledged by international donors to increase the security in and around Somalia. Europe's Foreign policy chief Javier Solana believes that piracy can be defeated in Somalia with international aid. He stated that pirate gangs must be targeted on land as well as in the sea.

Comprehension Answers: Story #2

  1. He wants the UN to lift the arms embargo.
  2. Piracy has been severe off Somalia's coast in the Gulf of Aden.
  3. Countries around the world donated 250 million dollars to fight against piracy in Somalia.

Story #3

Story #3: Saudi Man Divorces Wife by Text Message
A court in Saudi Arabia approved the divorce of a man and woman after the husband sent his wife a text message saying their marriage was over. In Saudi Arabia a man only has to say "I divorce you" three times, and it is not mandatory for the woman to be present. After sending the text message the man called two relatives to notify them of his intentions. The woman went to court and the judge approved the divorce. Women's rights activists say that Saudi women are allowed to ask for a divorce in court, but judges do not always grant them their rights. To be taken seriously in divorce court a woman must be accompanied by a male relative. The number of divorces in Saudi Arabia is steadily increasing. The Ministry of Social Affairs puts Saudi Arabia's divorce rate at 30%, but women's rights groups there suggest that 60% of marriages end in divorce.

Comprehension Answers: Story #3

  1. She received a text message from her husband that said he divorced her.
  2. The man contacted a few relatives to confirm his intention of divorcing his wife.
  3. A woman is more likely to convince a judge she needs a divorce if she has a male relative with her in court.

Story #4

Story #4: Swine Flu Shuts Down Mexico City
An outbreak of swine flu hit Mexico City this April, sparking fear of a global pandemic. The military distributed millions of masks to residents and placed notices on the doors of cathedrals, stadiums, and other public buildings urging residents to stay indoors and avoid contact with those who are ill. Despite efforts to contain the virus, countries including the United States, Canada, Scotland, and Spain have confirmed several cases of the virus. The swine flu is common in pigs, but becomes more serious when spread to humans, especially those in their 20's, 30's, and 40's. Medical experts warn that the virus is spread via human contact, not by eating pork.

Comprehension Answers: Story #4

  1. The military handed out millions of masks to residents in Mexico City.
  2. It is called swine flu because it is a common virus that pigs get.
  3. People from that age group are more likely to suffer seriously from the virus.