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The Great Green Wall
The Sahel area, straddling 27 countries, has now been mapped in detail showing where and how to create Africa’s Great Green Wall. Some 166 million hectares of land have been identified for restoration - nearly three times the size of Kenya or France. The Great Green Wall project was launched by the African Union to combat desertification. (Great Great Wall, Sahara, Africa, FAO, reversing desertification, sustainability.)
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Rapping For The Party
In his baseball cap and baggy yellow t-shirt, the rap star Li Yijie - better known by his stage name “Pissy” - is an unlikely face of China’s strait-laced ruling Communist Party. is group, Tianfu Shibian, has won fans and the support of the party’s youth league with songs like “Force of Red” and “This is China” that chime with President Xi Jinping’s nationalist vision of China and its place in the world. (Music, millennials, politics, Communist Party.)
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Waste Warriors
Naz is one of five Afghan refugee women who are not only battling traditional gender roles by going out to work, but who have also become unlikely warriors in the Indian capital's fight to curb plastic waste pollution. (Refugees, small businesses, dealing with plastic waste, India.)
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U.S. Makers Moving Homeward?
Why move production from the world's low-cost workshop back to a unionized U.S. factory where wages are six times higher than in China? Efficiency. Monster Moto's experience is an example of the obstacles American companies face as they, along with President Donald Trump, try to rebuild American manufacturing. (Business, China, the United States, brainstorming, despite and however.)
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Life In the Dry Zone
Myo Myint fondly remembers when his one-acre farm regularly produced 100 baskets of rice. But as rainfall became erratic, he started growing betel leaves, a less thirsty cash crop. This summer, the 50-year-old is considering leaving fallow his land in Myanmar's central "Dry Zone". (Drought, climate change, Myanmar, water conservation and irrigation sensors)
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Enslaved
Pimp turned do-gooder Kaushic Biswas has swapped the brothel for the kitchen and is now teaching the sort of women he once exploited how to cook their way out of sex trafficking. (Slavery and forced labor.)
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Beauty Beyond the Skin
With its evening gowns, celebrity judges and tears of joy, the beauty pageant in Nairobi was like others elsewhere, except for one thing - all 20 contestants who strutted, sashayed and swaggered down the catwalk had albinism. (Beauty, albinos, discrimination, Kenya.)
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Bikes Against Trafficking
Five hundred nuns from the Buddhist sect known as the Drukpa Order, www.drukpa.org/index.php/en/ on Saturday complete a 4,000-km (2,485 mile) bicycle trek from Nepal's Kathmandu to the northern city of Leh in India to raise awareness about human trafficking in the remote region. (Human trafficking, disaster relief, Buddhist nuns, extraordinary journeys.)
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Strict Diets
This lesson has some mixed news about diets and their long term effects. Do this lesson and go to the fridge?? (Diets, food, exercise)
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Isle of Trump
Donald Trump has played up his family roots from Lewis, an island off the northwestern tip of Scotland, but his success in the U.S. Republican presidential battle has not drawn the kind of rapture the billionaire might like from his home crowd. (Donald Trump, Scotland, weather, religion, politics.)
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Fixing Faulty Genes
The world's first life-saving gene therapy for children has been recommended for approval in Europe, boosting the pioneering technology to fix faulty genes. (Medicine and biotechnology, gene therapy, making predictions.)
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Digital Assistants for Assistance?
As the tech giants race to build ever better artificial intelligence platforms, they are obsessing over the nuances of their digital assistants' personalities. For users, digital assistants are a gateway to powerful artificial intelligence tools developers expect to influence major decisions about what to buy and how to spend time. (Business, digital assistants and IT, Artificial intelligence.)
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Back To Basics
A self-described shaman who discovered the healing powers of herbs while seeing visions on his sickbed; a former consultant for IBM who ditched PowerPoint presentations to drive across Africa and an artist from Luxembourg who is a qualified plumber. (Migration, alternative lifestyles, conjunctions.)
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Fleeing Yemen
The rocket that tore through a minivan outside the Aden Grand Hotel last week killing nine men, women and children was a clear message that it was time to leave. Yemen's civil war had come too close for comfort. (Discussion, sequencing)
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NOPE
The desperate cry of a mother finding her 17-year-old son dead from a painkiller and another prescription drug instantly silences hundreds of students who listen to her 911 call. That recording is the gut-punch that anchors a new educational program aimed at combating the rising abuse of prescription opioid abuse among U.S. young adults. (Drug overdoses, teenagers, anti-drug education programs.)
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Self-publishing?
For any author frustrated by rejections from publishing houses or wanting to cut out the middle man, there has never been an easier or cheaper time to self-publish. A host of free self-publishing platforms offered by Amazon, Apple and specialists like Smashwords have created new opportunities. (Self-publishing, books, drawing a process diagram.)
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Wanderlust
For Americans looking to retire abroad, deciding where to live can be a challenge. But Lynne and Tim Martin took that question off the table by deciding to retire everywhere and anywhere. (Retirement and travel, word families.)
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Epidemic Fear
Staff with the World Health Organisation battling an Ebola outbreak in West Africa see evidence the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimates the scale of the outbreak, the U.N. agency said on its website. With West Africa facing the deadliest Ebola outbreak ever fear and mistrust is driving dozens of victims to evade treatment, frustrating doctors trying to contain the epidemic. (Ebola, deadly illnesses and West Africa.)
Advanced  Lesson Updated: 22 August 2014
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Star Wars Arms
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a robotic arm for amputees that is named for the "Star Wars" character Luke Skywalker and can perform multiple, simultaneous movements, a huge advance over the metal hook currently in use. (Robotic arms and hands, amputees, collocation, sensory tests.)
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Tennis Riddles
As a player Andre Agassi relied as much on a razor-sharp tennis brain as brute force to collect eight major titles and complete a career grand slam. Now his eyes light up at the prospect of following the likes of Ivan Lendl and Boris Becker into coaching. (Coaching, Andre Agassi, tennis, compound adjectives, talking about sporting events.)
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Child Stars
Three years after a popular TV talent show launched child soprano Jackie Evancho on a meteoric career, she still has no singing coach, can't read music and sticks to a modest rehearsal routine. As she makes the transition to professional artist, Evancho, is seeking to balance her school work - and play time - with a busy concert tour schedule and recording her sixth album. (Singing, Jackie Evancho, child stars.)
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Growing Food for the Needy
Surrounded by rows of kale and collard greens, Bill Shick ticks off statistics about yields and the man-hours it takes to harvest the leafy green vegetables to be given away by the Chester County Food Bank in its efforts to grow food for the needy. The fresh produce program gives low-sodium, low-sugar foods to the poorest Americans year-round.
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"I Have a Dream"
Clarence Jones was sitting 50 feet behind his boss, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in 1963 when King delivered the speech that would forever change the course of race relations in the United States. Now, 50 years later, Jones recalls how the words "I have a dream," were not written in the text that King prepared and began to read that day. (Martin Luther King, famous speeches, "I have a dream" speech, punctuation.)
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Testing The Littlest
A national push to make public schools more rigorous and hold teachers more accountable has led to a vast expansion of testing in kindergarten. And more exams are on the way, including a test meant to determine whether 5-year-olds are on track to succeed in college and career. (Exams for kids, summarizing, scanning, giving your opinion)
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Old and Older
Two years short of 70, Zhang Guosheng spends his days caring for an 81-year-old fellow villager - a routine he'll keep up until he himself needs the type of care he is now giving. "Living here is better than staying at home alone. We help each other and have a common language," said the spritely Zhang, an enthusiastic dancer. "We are very happy here." (Aging, China, care of the elderly.)
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Medical Trips
Sitting in a private clinic in an upscale neighborhood of Istanbul, Salem is preparing to leave Turkey with a smile on his face and more hair on his head. Having been to Istanbul for sightseeing and shopping, Saleh has returned as the new kind of high-spending visitor Turkey is increasingly seeking to attract: a medical tourist. (Medical tourism, Turkey, plastic surgery.)
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Travel Plans
When Robert Reid last visited London he stayed in an apartment he found on a "couch-surfing" site. "The people were super and it gave me a great outlook on London and I appreciate the city more than I did before." People visiting cities in particular are now choosing to stay in residential apartments and live like locals. (Role play, skimmimg, scanning, intensive reading, discussion)
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Life and death on India's Network
As the Kalka Mail train pulls into Delhi railway station at dawn, it is every man, woman and child for themselves. Before the train has stopped, crowds elbow and jostle into packed compartments destined for Kolkata, 1,500 km (930 miles) and 25 hours away on one of the largest, most decrepit and dangerous rail networks in the world. (Train travel, business investment, India, descriptive verbs.)
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Greek Mosquitos
Just when it seems things couldn't get any worse for Greece, the exhausted and indebted country has a new threat to deal with: mosquito-borne diseases. Species of the blood-sucking insects that can carry exotic-sounding tropical infections like malaria, West Nile Virus, chikungunya and dengue fever are enjoying the extra bit of warmth climate change is bringing to parts of southern Europe. (Malaria, Greece, health system, disease and prevention control).
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Free Medicine for All
For Ramaiyah Venkat, the two-hour bus journey to get free insulin is worth it even if he has to queue for hours at the dispensary and sometimes gets less than he needs. Tamil Nadu is one of two Indian states offering free medicine for all. (Scanning, reported and indirect speech)
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Sports Rights
The image of 24-year-old Nour Fitiany resting courtside as the pounding of basketballs and thumping of feet reverberated around her wouldn't merit a second glance in most countries. But in Saudi Arabia, where girls are banned from sports in state schools, powerful clerics castigate women for exercising and female gyms must adhere to strict regulations, Fitiany's ambition to play basketball - let alone represent her country in international tournaments - is a bold political statement.
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An Olympic Love Story
Mention the name Missoni, and most think of a fashion empire that revolutionized textile patterns, spawned the no-bra look on the catwalks, and is now a global brand that designs everything from sweaters to sheets to hotels. But none of it would have happened had it not been for the 1948 London Olympics. (Sequencing, completing a table, predicting)
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Teaching Millions the Art of War
China is rapidly becoming a country on wheels and its crowded driving schools are racing to churn out licensed drivers as fast as cars roll off the assembly lines. But judging by the daily smash-ups and blatant disregard for even basic traffic rules on China's roadways, quantity seems to have trumped quality at many schools. (Driving and driving tests, Beijing, cars.)
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Replacing the Carrot with a Stick
While workers mostly like to see an employer offer smoking cessation classes and weight loss programs, too few are signing up or showing signs of improvement. So now more employers are trying a different strategy - they're replacing the carrot with a stick and raising costs for workers who can't seem to lower their cholesterol or tackle obesity. They're also coming down hard on smokers. (Health care and compulsory wellness programs, business, pair crossword, opinion essays and discussion.)
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Renewables "gold rush"
Renewable energy has created a "gold rush" atmosphere in Germany's depressed north-east, giving the country's poorhouse good jobs and great promise. The natural resources attracting investors and industry are of a simple variety: wind, sunshine, agricultural products and farm waste such as liquid manure. (Germany, renewable energy, business.)
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India schoolgirl defies tradition
Her fate looked sealed when her family began organizing the nuptial celebrations. But the bride-to-be, a shy schoolgirl from a remote village in western India, wasn't ready to say "I do." In a region where patriarchy and age-old customs dictate a woman's life from birth to death, 15-year-old Sapna Meena in April joined a small but growing number of girls who are standing up against the widespread practice of child marriage in India. (Child marriage, education, marriage, India.)
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Change of Energy Source?
The lakeside town of Port Hope, Ontario, encompasses both the promise and the dark side of the nuclear industry. The town is home to the world's longest running facility to process nuclear fuel, a massive white eyesore that towers over the sailboats bobbing in its tranquil harbor. (Nuclear energy, the environment, business, nuclear accidents, like and unlike.)
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Russia's Saint and Savior?
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin cultivates the image of a bare-chested macho man, but a nun-like sect in central Russia thinks actually he's the reincarnation of St. Paul, the apostle. (Famous people, Fact Or Opinion, Matching Information, Politcians)
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China to Age Before it Gets Rich?
The harsh logic of China's one-child policy is starting to unravel... Demographers worry that without change, China will become the first country in the world to age before it gets rich. China's choke on family size to usually one child in cities and two in the countryside now threatens its economic future, with fewer people left to pay and care for an increasingly gray population. (Aging population, one child policy, China, family size, census results.)
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I'd rather watch "X Factor"
When she was a little girl, Elsa Hardcastle loved to dress up as a princess and read stories about young women swept off their feet by a prince charming. Now, the 10-year-old would rather watch a blockbuster episode of reality TV talent show "X Factor" and meet one of its pop singer judges than see Kate Middleton become a real-life princess when she marries Britain's Prince William. (Royalty, fame, X Factor, would rather.)
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A Clamor for Education
Saudi teenager Abdulrahman Saeed lives in one of the richest countries in the world, but his prospects are poor, he blames his education, and it's not a situation that looks like changing soon. "There is not enough in our curriculum," says Saeed, 16, who goes to an all-male state school in the Red Sea port of Jeddah. "It is just theoretical teaching, and there is no practice or guidance to prepare us for the job market." (Education, Saudi Arabia.)
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Grand Slam Champ
With six Wimbledon trophies already packed on to his mantelpiece, Roger Federer would like nothing more than to win a singles gold medal on the hallowed turf when it hosts the Olympic tennis event in 2012. (ambitions, ordering questions, completing a table, vocabulary)
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Permits Required
In the land where Jesus lived, Christians say their dwindling numbers are turning churches from places of worship into museums. And when Christian pilgrims come from all over the world to visit the places of Christ's birth, death and resurrection, they find them divided by a concrete wall. As a boy growing up in Jerusalem, Yacoub Dahdal saw Christians from all over the Middle East converge on the city at Easter time to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.
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Japan's "Iku-men"
Hiroyuki Ogino stayed home from his job in telecoms to take care of his son for a month this spring -- one of a tiny but growing number of Japanese men opting for paternity leave despite the risk to their careers. "It really is as if we are putting a minus against our names, causing problems for our colleagues by not being around to pull our weight," said Ogino, a 38-year-old father of two. (Stayhome dads, parental leave, Japan, employment issues.)
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China's Development Juggernaut
China has put big money down on a momentous gamble: rush to build new cities in its poor interior, then wait for people to come and help drive the economy to a new stage of growth. Here in this corner of the Chinese hinterland, the government has widened farm lanes into highways, turned wheat fields into an industrial park, spent a fortune on government offices, and set up a school for thousands of students in what was a dusty town a few years before. (China, government, development, migration.)
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Heroin Help
The drawings on the wall of the Sanga Amaj clinic show one 11-year-old's family tableau - father and mother huddled over heroin kits as their sons watch haplessly. Sanga Amaj is one of three U.S.-funded drug clinics for women and children in Afghanistan, the most overlooked and vulnerable of the country's many opiate addicts. (Drug addiction, children and treatment, Afghanistan.)
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How much is too much?
The son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett has an old-world spiritual message for today's money-rich parents: teach your children values and do not give them everything they want. Multi-millionaires want help in preventing wealth from corrupting their children's values. (Wealth, spoiling children, financial services, business.)
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Step Into Someone's Shoes!
When entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie saw Argentinean children walking barefoot on streets strewn with garbage and broken glass, he didn't just donate some money, he started a company with the goal of putting shoes on the feet of every needy child. Four years later TOMS Shoes has given away more than 400,000 pairs through a new form of business called "conscious capitalism." (Business philanthropy, children in developing countries, idioms.)
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Do Journalists Help?
"Can you help?". "Oh ... maybe the American soldiers or the Red Cross up there can." "No, can YOU help? I need YOU to help my baby." Veteran journalists from all round the world came to cover the disaster, and it was interesting to see how they handled the often unspoken question of how to help: whether to photograph or carry the wounded baby first. (Haiti, Natural disasters and the role of the media.)
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Welcome To Clone Farm
To the untrained eye, Pollard Farms looks much like any other cattle ranch. Similar looking cows huddled in similar looking pens. But some of the cattle here don't just resemble each other. They are literally identical - clear down to their genes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of food from clones and their offspring, stating the products are indistinguishable from their non-clone counterparts. (Cloning, degrees of certainty, second conditional.)
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