Monthly News Digest Online comes to you from EnglishClub.com Dateline: 1 October 2009

Story #1

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

Story #1:Thailand Trial Increases Hope for HIV Vaccine
From two groups of volunteers in Thailand took part in a large trial to test a potential HIV vaccine. Half were given a combination of two vaccines while the other were given a placebo. All of the volunteers were educated about how to avoid HIV infection. The now suggest that those who took the vaccine had a 31% less chance of catching HIV than those who received the placebo. This is considered a ground breaking advancement, since it is the first sign in 25 years that a future vaccine may be effective in the spread of Aids. Scientists admit much more will have to be done to rule out the notion that the small difference in the two groups could be due to chance.

Comprehension Questions: Story #1

  1. Who took part in the trial?
  2. How many people in the trial were given the actual vaccine?
  3. Why is such a small percentage considered so significant?

Discussion Question:
If a vaccine for HIV became available in the future, what types of problems might arise? Would you want your children to have the vaccine? Why or why not?

Story #2

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

Story #2: Economists Say Global Recession is Ending Early
the Organization of Cooperation and Development(OECD), the global recession is going to be over earlier than expected. Some countries, such as Japan, and France have already seen positive growth in the past month or two. Despite the good news, economists were quick to say that recovery would still require major effort, including stimulus packages from governments and continued . An economist for the OECD suggested that even the in the US is beginning to turn around. While positive growth is expected soon for the G8, experts warn that the recession may not feel like it's over in these until unemployment begins to fall.

Comprehension Questions: Story #2

  1. Does this announcement mainly cover good or bad news?
  2. What will governments need to do to ensure the recovery of their economies?
  3. What needs to happen in order for people to feel like the recession is over?

Discussion Question: How has your native country been affected by the recession? Did anything positive come out of these difficult times?

Story #3

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

  • sanctuary: a place where people or animals are protected and cared for
  • banning: no longer allowing
  • extinction: the loss of a species from the world
  • delicacy: an expensive food that is saved for special occasions or for those who can afford it
  • crucial: very important
  • Story #3: World's First Shark Sanctuary
    The President of the tiny island nation of Palau announced at a UN this September that his nation would be banning all commercial shark hunting in its territorial waters. Palau is located about east of the Philippines. Though it is a small nation, its waters amount to about the size of France and are well-known for being rich with sharks. Approximately half of the world's sharks are of extinction. Sharks are killed for their fins and eaten as a delicacy in soup. At the UN meeting, the President of Palau called for on shark-finning. A healthy shark population is crucial for Palau's economy, which relies heavily on .

    Comprehension Questions: Story #3

    1. Where is Palau?
    2. What does the report say about the current shark populations in the world?
    3. According to the report, why do people hunt sharks?

    Discussion Question: Despite efforts to prevent shark finning in its waters, Palau does not have resources to patrol the waters. Do you think actions always speak louder than words or do you think raising awareness about an issue is equally, if not more, important?

    Story #4

    Pre-Listening Vocabulary

    Story #4: Torrential Rains Devastate the Philippines
    Massive floods in the Philippines this September caused close to 500, 000 people to flea their homes, overwhelming the government with needs. Approximately a month of rain fell in 12 hours over Manila and surrounding areas, submerging cities under of water. Many of the roads were turned into rivers, and people had to be rescued from rooftops and floating debris. When the began to recede, homes, businesses, and hospitals were left in a layer of mud. The rains came so quickly that most people had no time to gather any possessions. Tropical storm Ketsana for the worst torrential rains to hit the Philippines in decades.

    Comprehension Questions: Story #4

    1. Why did the government feel so overwhelmed by the floods?
    2. How much rain fell over Manila in 12 hours?
    3. How does the report describe these torrential rains?

    Discussion Question: Many of the flood victims did not have time to pack any belongings. How do you think it would feel to suddenly have no possessions? What would you do if you only had a few moments to flea your home?


    ANSWER CHECK

    Story #1: Thailand Trial Increases Hope for HIV Vaccine
    From 2003-2006 two groups of volunteers in Thailand took part in a large trial to test a potential HIV vaccine. Half were given a combination of two vaccines while the other half were given a placebo. All of the volunteers were educated about how to avoid HIV infection. The findings now suggest that those who took the vaccine had a 31% less chance of catching HIV than those who received the placebo. This is considered a ground breaking advancement, since it is the first sign in 25 years that a future vaccine may be effective in reducing the spread of Aids. Scientists admit much more will have to be done to rule out the notion that the relatively small difference in the two groups could be due to chance.

    Comprehension Answers: Story #1

    1. Volunteers in Thailand took part in the trial.
    2. Half of the volunteers received the actual vaccine. The other half received the placebo.
    3. The results are significant because there have been no other advancements in HIV vaccines in over 25 years.
    Story #2: Economists Say Global Recession is Ending Early
    According to the Organization of Cooperation and Development(OECD), the global recession is going to be over earlier than expected. Some countries, such as Japan, Germany and France have already seen positive growth in the past month or two. Despite the good news, economists were quick to say that recovery would still require major effort, including stimulus packages from governments and continued low interest rates. An economist for the OECD suggested that even the housing market in the US is beginning to turn around. While positive growth is expected soon for the G8, experts warn that the recession may not feel like it's over in these countries until unemployment begins to fall.

    Comprehension Answers: Story #2

    1. The announcement mainly covers the good news that the recession is going to be over earlier than expected.
    2. Governments need to continue to work at stimulating their economies.
    3. Unemployment rates need to go down before people will feel like the recession is over.
    Story #3:
    The President of the tiny island nation of Palau announced at a UN General Assembly this September that his nation would be banning all commercial shark hunting in its territorial waters. Palau is located about 800 kilometres east of the Philippines. Though it is a small nation, its waters amount to about the size of France and are well-known for being rich with sharks. Approximately half of the world's sharks are at risk of extinction. Sharks are killed for their fins and eaten as a delicacy in soup. At the UN meeting, the President of Palau called for a global ban on shark-finning. A healthy shark population is crucial for Palau's economy, which relies heavily on tourism.

    Comprehension Answers: Story #3

    1. Palau is a small island nation east of the Philippines.
    2. The report suggests that about half of the sharks in the world are in danger of extinction.
    3. People hunt sharks for their fins in order to make a delicacy called shark-fin soup.
    Story #4: Torrential Rains Devastate the Philippines
    Massive floods in the Philippines this September caused close to 500, 000 people to flea their homes, overwhelming the government with relief needs. Approximately a month of rain fell in 12 hours over Manila and surrounding areas, submerging cities under metres of water. Many of the roads were turned into rivers, and people had to be rescued from rooftops and floating debris. When the flood waters began to recede, homes, businesses, and hospitals were left coated in a layer of mud. The rains came so quickly that most people had no time to gather any possessions. Tropical storm Ketsana is to blame for the worst torrential rains to hit the Philippines in decades.

    Comprehension Answers: Story #4

    1. The government was overwhelmed because so many people needed relief.
    2. About a month's worth of rain fell over Manila in 12 hours.
    3. The rains are described as the "worst to hit the Philippines in decades".