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Civilians flee during Turkish bombardment on Syria's northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along

the Turkish border on October 9, 2019.

The traditional tenseness in relations had been due to disputes including the self annexation of the Hatay Province to Turkey in 1939, water disputes resulting from the Southeastern Anatolia Project, and Syria's support for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (abbreviated as PKK) and the now-dissolved Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (abbreviated as ASALA) which has been recognised as a terrorist organisation by NATO, EU, and many other countries. Relations improved greatly after October 1998, when PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was expelled by Syrian authorities. However, the Syrian civil war has once again strained relations between the two countries, leading to the suspension of diplomatic contact.[1] A serious incident occurred with the Syrian downing of a Turkish military training flight in June 2012, resulting in Turkey calling an emergency meeting of NATO.
etc.
As the situation report above, how about the living daily of Serians nowadays? When will peace come to take place in this area? God bless Serian soon.

 Many thanks to Google Translate and G Grammary together.

 

FRANCE 24 English – LIVE – International Breaking News & Top stories - 24/7 stream

https://youtu.be/0fKyrdQ15gs

.................................................

How Fast Can You Write on Your Smartphone?

4 hours ago

 Texting can lead to strain and injury, otherwise known as text neck. Here contestants compete in a texting championship in New York, Aug. 8, 2012.
Texting can lead to strain and injury, otherwise known as text neck. Here contestants compete in a texting championship in New York, Aug. 8, 2012.
 
How Fast Can You Write on Your Smartphone?
 

Many Americans use smartphones for most or all of their day-to-day communication activities. One result is that people have gotten faster and better at typing emails and text messages on their phones.

But how fast are we at using an electronic device compared to typing words on a traditional, physical keyboard? A new study has some answers. A team of researchers carried out an experiment. It involved more than 37,000 volunteers from over 160 countries.

The study was a project of researchers from Finland’s Aalto University, England’s University of Cambridge and ETH Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. They used an Internet-based system to test the typing speed of people on their smartphones.

On average, the volunteers estimated they spent about six hours a day using their phones. The majority said they used two thumbs to write messages. Both Android and iPhone users were tested, and most said they used the device’s standard keyboard.

Texting While Walking
Texting While Walking

The experiment

The volunteers were given 15 English sentences to type out on their phones “as quickly and accurately as possible.” The research team found that on average, people wrote about 36 words per minute. Those tested made a typing mistake 2.3 percent of the time.

The researchers noted that 36 words per minute is about 25 percent slower than the average rate for people using a computer keyboard. In a 2018 University of Cambridge study, the average speed for computer typists was about 52 words per minute.

The researchers noted one reason for the narrowing of speed rates between smartphones and computers. They said people have become slower at typing on keyboards over the years.

A man using a mobile phone walks past Google offices, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A man using a mobile phone walks past Google offices, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Seventy-five percent of those taking part in the study had typing speeds below 44 words per minute. But the fastest phone typists reached speeds of over 80 words per minute.

The published results show there was no difference between males and females in the typing speeds.

Subjects who reported using two thumbs or two fingers reached speeds of 38 words per minute. Those who said they used only one finger typed 29 words per minute.

Among age groups, the fastest typists on an electronic device were between 10 and 19 years old. They typed nearly 40 words per minute. People aged 40 to 49 wrote about 29 words per minute. And the rate dropped to 26 words per minute for those aged 50 to 59.

Reaction to the findings

Anna Feit, a researcher at ETH Zurich, helped lead the study. She said it makes sense that younger people have higher typing speeds because they generally spend a lot more time on their devices.

"Such a large amount of experience transfers to the development of typing skill,” Feit said. “And explains why young people - who spend more time with social media, communicating with each other - are picking up higher speeds."

FILE - An man works his phone as he drives through traffic in Dallas, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. Texas lawmakers are considering a statewide ban on texting while driving. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
FILE - An man works his phone as he drives through traffic in Dallas, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. Texas lawmakers are considering a statewide ban on texting while driving. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

The researchers also found that a phone’s automatic correct tool can be extremely helpful. Users were able to type faster than those without the correct tool. But word prediction tools were not very helpful to users in the experiment, noted Aalto University researcher Sunjun Kim.

“The given understanding is that techniques like word completion help people,” Kim said. “But what we found out is that the time spent thinking about the word suggestions often outweighs the time it would take you to type the letters, making you slower overall.”

The researchers call the difference between typing words on a smartphone and a physical keyboard "the typing gap." They predict this gap will further narrow in the future as people get less skilled with keyboards and as smart methods for typing on devices continue to improve.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. It was based on reports from Aalto University and ETH Zurich. George Grow was the editor.

What is the difference in speed between your typing on a phone and a computer keyboard? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.

 

Quiz - How Fast Can You Write on Your Smartphone?

Quiz - How Fast Can You Write on Your Smartphone?

Start the Quiz to find out

Words in This Story

 type – v. write out letters on a keyboard

keyboard – n. a set of keys on a computer that a user presses to make it work

standard – adj. usual and not special

accurate – adj. correct or exact

per – prep. for each

transfer – v. to move from one thing to another

automatic – adj. happening as part of a normal process or system

gap – n. the difference between groups or situations

................................................

Turkey Launches Offensive against Kurdish Forces

4 hours ago

In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, smoke billows from a fire inside Syria during bombardment by Turkish forces, Oct. 9, 2019.
In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, smoke billows from a fire inside Syria during bombardment by Turkish forces, Oct. 9, 2019.
Turkey Launches Offensive against Kurdish Forces
 

Turkey launched airstrikes and fired artillery at Kurdish fighters in northern Syria on Wednesday. The attacks came just days after American troops withdrew from the area.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the military campaign in a Twitter post. The goal of the offensive, he wrote, is “to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area.”

Reuters news agency says thousands of people fled the attack in the Syrian town of Ras al Ain and headed toward Hasaka, an area controlled by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The SDF said the airstrikes killed at least two people and wounded two others. A U.S. defense official and a Kurdish official in Syria told the Associated Press that the Turkish offensive has led the SDF to suspend operations against the Islamic State militants.

The attack followed a sudden and unexpected decision on Sunday by U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw American troops from northern Syria ahead of the operation.

Both members of Trump’s Republican Party and the Democratic Party expressed strong opposition to the withdrawal decision. Critics said the U.S. is abandoning its ally, the Kurdish fighters who fought with American troops against the Islamic State (IS).

Civilians flee during Turkish bombardment on Syria's northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border on October 9, 2019.
Civilians flee during Turkish bombardment on Syria's northeastern town of Ras al-Ain in the Hasakeh province along the Turkish border on October 9, 2019.

After Erdogan announced the start of the offensive Wednesday, Trump called the operation “a bad idea” and said the United States does not “endorse” it. He also said the U.S. expects Turkey to protect civilians and religious minorities so as to prevent a humanitarian crisis.

Several European countries called on Turkey to stop the operation. And Syria called the attack a “blatant violation” of international law.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the U.S. of playing “very dangerous games” with the Syrian Kurds. He said the U.S. first helped the Syrian Kurdish to establish a “quasi state” in Syria and now is withdrawing its support.

Turkey has long threatened to attack the Kurdish fighters in northern Syria. It says the Kurdish fighters are terrorists linked to a Kurdish rebellion in Turkey. But world powers fear the latest Turkish action could expand Syria’s eight-year-old civil war.

The SDF captured the last area controlled by the Islamic State militants in eastern Syria last March. It currently holds thousands of IS fighters in prisons. It has warned that a Turkish attack might lead to the return of the extremists in the area.

SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali told VOA's Kurdish service, "The difficulty we are going through is this, that we have partnered in dignity and clarity and friendship with American forces for five years and it is really hard for us to accept an end to this partnership in an unworthy way.”

I'm Anna Matteo.

Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on reports from VOA, Reuters and the Associated Press. Caty Weaver was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

_______________________________________________

Words in This Story

corridor - n. a long narrow piece of land

abandon - v. to leave someone who needs help or protection

endorse - v. to publicly say that you support or approve

blatant - adj. very obvious and offensive

quasi state - n. like an independent country but not official or true

dignity - n. a quality of being worthy of honor or respect

clarity - n. the quality of being clear

...............................................

6 Minute English

INTERMEDIATE LEVEL

Dating apps

EPISODE 190214 / 14 FEB 2019

Introduction

Research shows that fewer than 5% of people who have used dating apps, actually go out on a date with someone they met through them. Neil and Dan discuss the reasons for it and teach you related vocabulary.

This week's question

Around the world last year how much was spent on dating apps? Was it: 

a) less than half a billion dollars                   

b) between half a billion and a billion dollars 

c) over a billion dollars

Listen to the programme to find out the answer.

Vocabulary

motives
reasons for doing something 

makes sense
is understandable and not a surprise 

out of curiosity
for no real reason other than a casual interest 

disillusioned
no longer satisfied with something but disappointed by it 

jaded
a feeling of being tired and bored by something 

callous
emotionally hard and uncaring

Transcript 

Note: This is not a word for word transcript

Neil
Hello. And welcome to 6 Minute English. I'm Neil. 

Dan
And I'm Dan. 

Neil
Now then, Dan. What do you think of dating apps - you know, apps on your phone that help you find a romantic partner? 

Dan
I can't say I've ever used them myself. How about you? 

Neil
Neither have I, but I've got friends who have, very successfully. Lots of weddings. 

Dan
Great! 

Neil
Now, research shows that fewer than 5% of people who have used dating apps, actually go out on a date with someone they met through them. We’ll find out the reasons for this shortly, but first, a question. Even though dating apps are not used as much as we might think, they are still big business, but do you know how big? Around the world last year how much was spent on them? Was it: 

a) less than half a billion dollars                    

b) between half a billion and a billion dollars, or

c) over a billion dollars? 

Any ideas, Dan? 

Dan
Well, this is purely a guess, but let’s say over a billion dollars. 

Neil
Well, we’ll have the answer at the end of the programme. Elizabeth Tinnemans is a researcher who studied the use of a particular dating app. She spoke on the BBC's You and Yours radio programme on Radio 4. Her study confirmed that comparatively few people who used the app used it to arrange to meet up with someone. She talked about people’s motives for using the app. Motives isa word which means‘reasons’ - so what were those motives

Elizabeth Tinnnemans
We found from all the people that we surveyed that only slightly more than half of them actually met up with someone. So it doesn't look like a lot of people are using it to meet up but it makes sense because we also looked at why they were using a dating app and the most popular and most common motives were using it out of curiosity and using it to pass time or entertainment. So they're not actively using these dating apps to meet people like swiping with friends is something that happens fairly often, especially among millennials. 

Neil
Tinnemans said that people use the app to pass the time and simply for entertainment. What other motives did she mention, Dan? 

Dan
Well, she said that people used it out of curiosity. If you do something out of curiosity you're just interested in seeing what it is and what it does. Maybe you’ve heard about something and although you don’t want to actually try it, you do want to see what it’s all about. For example, when I was travelling once, out of curiosity, I went to see people bungee jumping, but it was never something I was going to do myself. 

Neil
Was the lack of actual dating through the dating app a surprise? 

Dan
No, she said that because they looked at the motives, the result makes sense. When something makes sense, it’s understandable, it’s not surprising. 

Neil
There is another view as to why people are not using dating apps for actual dating. This is Zoe Strimpel who is a dating historian. She argues that because there is so much choice and so many opportunities to find a partner through an app, it can make the dating process unpleasant and people get tired of it. 

Zoe Strimpel
People are being horribly disillusioned. I think people have also started to feel jaded. People are feeling that they're aware that these relationships are often very callous and that's to do with the sort of incredible sense of choice. 

Neil
She says that people feel disillusioned and jaded. What does she mean? 

Dan
When you are disillusioned it means that you are unhappy with and disappointed by something because it isn’t as good as it used to be or it’s not as good as you thought it was going to be. If you have many experiences like that you become jaded which means you become bored and lose interest in something. 

Neil
She also commented that the dating experience can be callous

Dan
This means that emotionally it can be very tough and you have to be ready to accept rejection or to reject people yourself and this is not always done in the kindest way. 

Neil
Here’s Zoe Strimpel again. 

Zoe Strimpel
People are being horribly disillusioned. I think people have also started to feel jaded. People are feeling that they're aware that these relationships are often very callous and that's to do with the sort of incredible sense of choice. 

Neil
OK. Time to review today’s vocabulary, but first, let’s have the answer to the quiz question. I asked how much was spent on dating apps last year. Was it: 

a) less than half a billion dollars                    

b) between half a billion and a billion dollars, or

c) over a billion dollars? 

Dan, you said? 

Dan
I said c) over a billion dollars. 

Neil
Well, the total was just under $600m so the correct answer was b) between half a billion and a billion dollars. Good guess if you got that one right! Right, now it's time to recap today’s vocabulary. Our first word today was motives. A motive is your reason for doing something. 

Dan
If something makes sense it is not a surprise and you can understand it. 

Neil
The next phrase was out of curiosity. This is when you do something for no particular reason other than you are interested in seeing it or trying it. 

Dan
Then had disillusioned. This is a feeling you get when something isn’t as good as it used to be or as good as you expected it to be and you become disappointed by it. 

Neil
And that can lead to your being jaded, which isa feeling of dissatisfaction and boredom with something that has been going on for a while. 

Dan
And finally there was callous - an adjective which means uncaring and cold-hearted. 

Neil
Well, I hope you aren’t disillusioned with 6 Minute English and will join us again next time In the meantime find bbclearningenglish online and on social media and on our own app – and before you ask, it’s not a dating app!  Bye for now. 

Dan
Bye bye!

..........................................................

 

Lack of critical thinking makes Thailand's competitiveness ranking slip

Oct 10. 2019

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By Wichit Chaitrong
The Nation

Thailand could improve its competitiveness among nations by tackling its weakest points – a lack of critical thinking in teaching, failure to dominate any markets, and unsafe drinking water, according to Switzerland-based World Economic Forum.

 

Thailand’s ranking among 141 economies has dropped to 40th place from 38 in 2018 in the just-released WEF Global Competitiveness Index.

Singapore tops the rankings, overtaking the United States, while Vietnam jumped 10 spots to 67th

place, according to a survey by the WEF, which seeks to promote public-private cooperation.

Kobsak Pootrakool, deputy secretary-general to the prime minister for political affairs, on Wednesday (October 9) acknowledged Thailand’s ranking slipping even as some scores rose. “It’s like a running competition – if our pace is slower, others will overtake us, so we have to run faster,” he said.

Assistant Professor Wilert Puriwat, dean of the Chulalongkorn Business School, which is allied with the WEF, said that, If Thailand wants to improve its ranking, labour skills must be improved. 

“The survey found that skills among new university graduates have declined, especially in the area of critical thinking,” he said.

The way students are taught needs to change, he said, noting that Thailand’s score on critical thinking in the classroom was the world’s lowest at 37 out of 100 points. In assessing skills possessed by the future workforce, the survey names Finland first for critical thinking in teaching, with 89 points.

“We’ve failed the exam and it can’t be fixed by simply retaking the test – we need to restart learning,” Wilert said, alluding to Thai students routinely performing poorly on tests compared to foreign counterparts, a lag blamed on the traditional reliance here on rote learning through memorisation.

The WEF urged Thailand to encourage creative and critical individual thinking in the classroom instead.

Finland ranks second for skills of current workforce, scoring 75.8 points compared to Thailand’s 52.2. The WEF recommended better staff training and increased attention to digital skills.

Noting the only a few large Thai companies dominate the domestic market, muscling aside smaller contenders, Wilert said Switzerland provides a model for spreading dominance among many firms by helping smaller ones gain market share. Switzerland ranks first in the sharing of market dominance, he noted.

“This will take time since the few big firms have dominated the market for so long,” he said.

Although tap water has become widely available widely across the country, it is not as safe to drink as that found in developed countries, said Wilert.

The index covers four main categories. 

First is proving an “enabling environment” and assesses institutions, infrastructure, ICT adoption and macroeconomic stability. Second is “human capital” and examines health and skills. 

In the third, product markets, the labour market, the financial system and market size are compared. Fourth is the “innovation ecosystem”, which looks at business dynamism and capacity for innovation. 

In all there are 103 separate factors examined for which up to 100 points can be awarded.

Thailand’s 68.1 GCI ranking places it in the top 40 among the 141 economies surveyed, but it it progressing more slowly than other countries, Wilert noted.

 

Its identified weaknesses are in institutions, innovation capability, product markets and skills. Its strengths are the financial system, public health and macro-economic stability.

The score for institutions dropped from 55.1 in 2018 to 54.8 this year, the ranking from 67 to 60. Corruption and an inefficient legal framework for challenging regulations were the key damaging factors, the WEF said.

The score for infrastructure fell from 69.7 to 67.8 and the ranking from 71st to 60th place due to continued reliance on an inefficient railway service.

“Improvement in the rankings will come if there is rapid progress in several areas, such as reducing corruption, improving infrastructure and workforce skills, and boosting the level of domestic market competition,” Wilert said.

 ............................................

Transport Ministry seeks to revise Bt122-bn Orange line project

Oct 08. 2019

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By The Nation

2,052 Viewed

Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anuthin Charnvirakul said the Transport Ministry has proposed a revision of the Bt122-billion Orange mass transit line project - running from Thailand Cultural Centre to Bang Khun Non in Thonburi, west of Bangkok.

It was approved by the previous government but bidding has not been called. 

  The former junta-backed government designated the project a public-private partnership (PPP), coming under a single contract for both construction and operation. It planned  to start public services of the orange line in 2026.

  However, the Transport Ministry under new minister Saksayam Chidchob, now wants to split the project into two contracts of construction and operation, against the Finance Ministry's preference for a single contract as approved by the former government.

  Several government agencies have calculated different internal rate of return of the project, Anuthin said.

  Transport officials would meet today (September 10) to discuss all related issues, before making a proposal to the Cabinet. 

  “Personally, I like a split of the contract into two as risks would be diversified. It would also allow the participation of more contractors,” he added.

 ......................................................

FINISHED 

October 10, 2019



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