This week's question:
Recently archaeologists in Jordan discovered what they believe is the oldest remains of bread. How old is this bread? Is it…
a) 18,000 years old
b) 14,000 years old
c) 5,500 years old
Listen to the programme to find out the answer.
something that is amazing, remarkable and extraordinary
to take off
to become popular
areas of a country that aren't the major cities
captures the imagination
makes you interested in something
real, genuine, not a fake or a copy
food prepared in a microwave oven
Note: This is not a word for word transcript
Hello. Welcome to 6 Minute English, I'm Neil.
And I'm Rob.
Now Rob, you like your food, don't you?
Oh yes, yum yum, food! One of my favourite things.
And what do you think of street food?
I love street food. There are some great places in London where you can find delicious foods from all over the world, cooked in front of you in market stalls on the street.
It's quite new though, isn't it - not really a British tradition?
I guess not, but it seems to be much more popular these days.
Well our topic today is street food, but before we tuck into that, here is today's question. Recently archaeologists in Jordan discovered what they believe is the oldest remains of bread. How old is this bread? Is it…
a) 18,000 years old
b) 14,000 years old, or
c) 5,500 years old?
What do you think?
I don't know - but what I do know is, I wouldn't really want to try a sandwich made from that bread!
Mmm, it might be a bit mouldy.
Yes! Anyway, I'm going to have a guess and say c) 5,500 years old.
Right, we will find out the answer later in the programme. Mark Laurie is from the Nationwide Caterers Association. He is an expert in the business of street food in the UK. He appeared on BBC radio's The Food Programme and was asked how the business of street food has changed in recent years. In his answer he talks about the areas where there is most growth in street food. What are those areas?
It's been phenomenal the growth in street food - it's really taken off, it's really become quite mainstream. Part of the cultural fabric of the country really, or it's beginning to be, certainly in the bigger cities and increasingly in the sort of provinces, if you like.
So where does he say the popularity of street food is growing?
He says that it's in the bigger cities and also in the provinces. The provinces is a word which means 'the parts of a country outside of the cities'.
So essentially, he's saying it's getting more popular everywhere.
Exactly. In fact he says the growth is phenomenal. This means he thinks the growth is spectacular, really big.
Yes he says that it's really taken off. Taken off is one of those phrasal verbs that can be used in many different ways. In this sense, when something takes off it means it becomes successful and popular.
You know, street food isn't really something you associate with Britain. Perhaps it's the climate or British food so street food is something that we are now getting used to and enjoying more. In fact Mark says that it's now becoming mainstream. This means that is no longer something that is seen as being unusual or different. It's becoming an accepted part of the everyday eating experience.
Well, let’s listen again to Mark Laurie talking about the growth of street food in the UK.
It's been phenomenal the growth in street food, it's really taken off, it's really become quite mainstream. Part of the cultural fabric of the country really, or it's beginning to be, certainly in the bigger cities and increasingly in the sort of provinces, if you like.
Mark Laurie goes on to talk about why street food has become popular. What kind of food does he say it's not like?
Yeah, it's just really captured the imagination of the public. It's honest food, it's authentic food and it's people that you can trust making it. It's not some microwave food or whatever that you might get in your local pub.
So street food is many things, but what isn't it?
Well he says that it's not like food you might get in some pubs. That food he says may be some microwave food. Which is food prepared in a microwave oven.
You know I quite like a microwave meal now and then - and I reheat my leftovers in the microwave.
But I guess if you were paying for a nice meal you wouldn't expect reheated leftovers! I think the point he is making is that in many places the food you are served is not freshly made. It may be pre-prepared and finished off in a microwave. Street food, he says, is authentic.
Yes, authentic. It's real, fresh and cooked right in front of you and if it's food from a particular country it's probably being prepared by people from that culture.
He also says that this has captured the imagination of the public. It's something that the public have experienced and thought - 'yep, you know, I like this, this is a great idea.'
Well, all this talk of food is making me hungry, so let's get the answer to the quiz and review today's vocabulary before we head off and grab a bite to eat. We asked about the age of bread discovered by archaeologists in Jordan. Was it a) 18,000 years old, b) 14,000 years or c) 5,500 years.
Mmm, and I said it was c) 5,500 years.
And I'm afraid it's a lot mouldier than that. The answer was 14,000 years.
Very tasty I'm sure.
Yes! Right then, the vocabulary. We started off with adjective phenomenal to describe something that is amazing, remarkable and extraordinary.
Then we had to take off, a phrasal verb which means to become popular. Street food has really taken off in the UK: it's become really popular.
And not just in the cities but also in the provinces, which is a noun to describe areas of a country that aren't the major cities.
Something which captures the imagination is something which makes you interested - and not just for a short time.
And one thing which has captured the imagination of the British public is authentic street food. Something authentic is real, it's genuine, it's not a fake or a copy.
And finally we had microwave food, food prepared in a microwave oven. And that kind of food is not seen by some as authentic.
Well, it's time to eat, so that's all we have time for today. Join us again next time and remember you can find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and of course on our website bbclearningenglish.com. See you soon, bye.
Guideline on charges of tourist guide service approved
Nov 18. 2019
By The Nation
The board of Tourism Business and Guides has approved the guideline on minimum guide service charges for three types of tourists - outbound tourists, inbound tourists and domestic tourists, said Thaweesak Wanitcharoen, director general of Department of Tourism.
Thaweesak said the rates were in line with the policy of Minister of Tourism and Sports, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, to prevent tourists from being exploited in spending and service charges by tour businesses and guides.
“After the approval, the sub-committee will consider ways to improve the Tourism Business and Guide Act, B.E. 2551 (2008) in order to enforce it as a law ,” he said.
The approved minimum guide service charges for outbound tourists range from Bt1,600 to 9,000 per person (three days and two nights), exlcuding airline ticket price.
For inbound tourists, the charges are: a minimum of Bt800 per person per night (Asean), Bt1,000 (Asia), Bt1,500 for others.
Domestic tourists will pay a service rate of Bt300 each for non-overnight stay, Bt600 per night for overnight stay. The charges include accommodation and transportation fees.
Hong Kong protesters make last stand as police close in on besieged university
Nov 19. 2019
A map locating the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Kowloon, Hong Kong Photo by: The Washington Post — The Washington Post
By The Washington Post · Casey Quackenbush, Anna Kam, Gerry Shih, Tiffany Liang ·
HONG KONG - Thousands of Hong Kong protesters flocked to the area around a besieged Hong Kong college campus Monday evening, clashing with police as they tried to help hundreds of students trapped inside to leave safely, while political leaders and school principals acted as mediators to stave off a bloody end to a days-long standoff there.
A map locating the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Kowloon, Hong Kong Photo by: The Washington Post — The Washington Post
Police blocked exits and told exhausted protesters to come out of the Polytechnic University on Monday to be arrested. When some attempted to escape, officers forced them back with tear gas and rubber bullets and made dozens of arrests. As night fell, and with explosions and black smoke emanating from the grounds, police repeated demands for the demonstrators - some of whom have been there for days - to surrender.
The situation threatened to be among the most chaotic and violent since protests began in March. By 10 p.m. Monday, Hong Kong's hospital authority said 116 people, between the ages of 6 and 84, had been sent to hospitals in the city. Only one was in serious condition, the authority added.
Late Monday, a deal was reached between the police and mediators to allow those under 18 still sealed off inside Polytechnic University to leave safely, without arrest. Under the terms of the deal, they would still have their pictures and identification details recorded by authorities.
According to protesters on the campus, some inside were as young as 10. A live broadcast of the area around the campus showed dozens of people walking out of the campus in the early hours Tuesday.
Among those negotiating with the police on behalf of those inside the university was Eric Cheung, the principal law lecturer at the University of Hong Kong.
"We can accompany you all to walk out safely from the campus, without tears. We can make sure you won't suffer from violence," he told protesters at the site, according to a live broadcast of the event, adding that he could not guarantee those over 18 would not be arrested.
The developments drew sharp comments from U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who tweeted that the United States was "gravely concerned by deepening political unrest and violence." The Chinese government, Pompeo concluded, "must honor its promises to the Hong Kong people, who only want the freedoms & liberties they have been promised.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in remarks delivered on the floor of the Senate, urged President Trump to speak publicly in support of the protesters.
"The world should hear from him directly that the United States stands with these brave men and women," McConnell said. In Hong Kong, he added, "the world is seeing the true face of the Chinese Communist Party."
Earlier, a voice message described as being from a protester stuck inside the university pleading for help was widely shared on social media. He said many of the hundreds trapped inside for the past 30 hours of the confrontation were injured and exhausted, and he called on people to converge on the university to help those trapped inside.
"The effort to surround the police at PolyU from all four corners is our final hope," the message said.
At rallies across the city, people expressed support for the trapped students. "Save PolyU! Save the students!" they chanted. In the densely packed streets adjoining the university, demonstrators using umbrellas as shields edged toward police lines and were repulsed with tear gas.
Protesters were hoping to strain police resources and draw them away from the campus into new battles elsewhere, so those in the university could escape.
As the evening wore on, crowds grew and a fresh battle flared in the Kowloon area as demonstrators moved to break the police blockade of the campus. Some of the protesters trapped inside the college grounds managed to escape and were whisked away on motorcycles. Others were injured in the process, sustaining injuries to their limbs as they jumped off bridges and railings away from police.
A woman who identified herself as Mrs. Wong, in her 50s with gray hair, stood near a front line of protesters preparing for clashes with police outside a hospital in the Kowloon neighborhood. She said she had not seen her son, a protester, for days, and had gone to protest hot spots to look for him.
"I don't know whether my son is here," she said, gesturing toward the protesters, crying. "Where is the Hong Kong government? Where is our chief executive? Do the riot police just want our kids to die, surrounding them from all corners like this?" Police soon fired tear gas, forcing her to flee.
Unable to forge a political settlement to end an uprising that has shattered Hong Kong's reputation as a stable base for business, the city's embattled leadership has appeared increasingly paralyzed even as it has clamped down harder on demonstrators.
The spiraling violence and heavy-handed crackdown have sharpened concerns about China's "one country, two systems" framework under which Hong Kong, led by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, is supposed to enjoy relative freedoms and autonomy from Beijing until 2047.
At the Polytechnic University, a front-line protester, who declined to give her name out of fear of retribution, said people were frantically trying to find a way out of the campus in the face of the police encirclement. Protesters who broke inside a doctor's office left blood around the room - and a note apologizing.
Some 500 to 600 students remained trapped, said Derek Liu, head of the university's student union. PolyU's president, Jin-Guang Teng, in a video statement urged students to hand themselves over.
Nearby, broken bricks, scaffolding and fences were strewn across the streets of the Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district.
"We feel very disappointed about the government," said Peter, a 30-year-old clerk who was dressed in business attire and declined to give his full name as he watched tear gas billow out from an alleyway. "There are many ways to solve the problem, like dialogue. The government hasn't done anything to solve the issue, instead forcing protesters to violence."
At a news conference, regional police commander Cheuk Hau-yip said officers had given protesters "enough time and enough warnings" to disperse.
He said there was no plan for police to break into the campus for now. "If they surrender and come out, we will arrange the appropriate medical help for them," Cheuk said.
The violence on campus and the police response point to a lack of leadership and confusion among Hong Kong leaders and Beijing, said Minxin Pei, an expert on Chinese politics at Claremont McKenna College in California. Even as police threatened to use live rounds to crush the occupation at Polytechnic, Lam was notably absent from public view all weekend, at a time when Chinese leader Xi Jinping was traveling overseas.
"Carrie Lam really does not want to be seen as responsible for any large-scale violence at this point, as Beijing will make the ultimate decision whether to escalate to use live rounds," Pei said. "I don't think Beijing wants to cause massive bloodshed, but the decisions made in Beijing over the next 48 hours will be crucial."
In a new setback for Lam, Hong Kong's High Court ruled Monday that the government's use of a British colonial-era emergency ordinance to ban face masks at public gatherings was unconstitutional. Lam had introduced the measure to aid police in identifying protesters and effectively expand powers of arrest.
Lam visited an injured police officer in the hospital Monday, but she did not make public remarks, and her office did not respond to a request for comment. In a message on Facebook later, she condemned protesters and urged them to obey police.
The clashes renewed concerns that the Hong Kong government might suspend local district elections on Sunday. Patrick Nip, a Hong Kong official responsible for mainland affairs, said the vote depended on whether protesters halted violence.
With the crisis escalating, fears are mounting that China's ruling Communist Party might attempt a lethal intervention reminiscent of 1989, when soldiers opened fire in Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of student demonstrators.
Chinese state media, meanwhile, urged harsher measures. In a commentary Monday on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times tabloid, called for Hong Kong police to be authorized to use rifles against demonstrators, who have armed themselves with molotov cocktails, bows and arrows, bricks and other weapons. Snipers should use live ammunition to take out armed demonstrators, Hu said, adding that "if there are rioter deaths, police do not have to assume legal liability."
In an English-language editorial, the China Daily said Xi had urged Hong Kong's government to take "firmer action" to restore order, in his strongest statement to date. "The [Hong Kong] government, which has taken a relatively soft line up to now, should shoulder its responsibility to safeguard the lives and well-being of Hong Kong's law-abiding residents and take more decisive measures to counter the violence and uphold the rule of law," the editorial said.
Pressured by a trade war with the United States, criticism of China's repression of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and a slowing domestic economy, Xi has sought to project a tough line on Hong Kong. But a bloody crackdown would play out under the glare of the world's media and further inflame worries about Hong Kong's loss of autonomy.
China's Foreign Ministry said Monday that no one should underestimate Beijing's determination to safeguard China's sovereignty and Hong Kong's stability.
China's Defense Ministry also weighed in, noting the presence of the People's Liberation Army garrison in Hong Kong that over the weekend participated in the removal of debris and barricades left by protesters.
"The PLA Hong Kong garrison is determined, confident and capable of protecting national security, development interests and the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong," the ministry said.
The protests flared in June over a now-abandoned proposal to allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. But the movement has grown into a wider pushback against China's growing reach into Hong Kong, encompassing demands for full democracy and police accountability. And what had started as weekend protests in the city's business district have now taken on new life as protests have spilled into the workweek and taken on new life in the university campuses spread throughout the city.
Emily Lau, a pro-democracy politician, said Lam was unable to do anything, because "she is waiting for orders from Beijing." But Xi was caught in a power struggle, she said, and his enemies within the party were "happy to see Hong Kong burn" because it made him appear unable to control the situation.
Among the protesters, Hong Kong's general population, the local government and central authorities in Beijing, "the weakest of the four players is our government," Jasper Tsang, who is the former head of Hong Kong's legislature and belonged to the pro-Beijing camp, said over the weekend as he described a city in paralysis.
"The [Hong Kong] government, it is incapable of doing anything - Carrie Lam has admitted it," Tsang told the Hong Kong Free Press in an interview. "There is no strong decision-making mechanism. [Lam] listens to the hard-liners, and there is no politician who could take responsibility."
Samson Yuen, assistant professor of political science at Hong Kong's Lingnan University, said Hong Kong's government has been absent throughout the crisis.
"It would actually be quite surprising it they came out at this moment and suddenly offered a political solution," he said. "It's almost designed to be like this, from the moment they decided not to negotiate with protesters. That just means a suppressive outcome."
November 19, 2019