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Execute me, please. I think that today I can't say anything at all. See you later!

 

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

https://youtu.be/is6Mv1U2hvw

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WHO Agrees to Launch Independent COVID-19 Investigation

May 18, 2020
This video grab taken on May 18, 2020 from the website of the World Health Organization shows WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaking through video link at the World Health Assembly virtual meeting from the WHO headquarters in Geneva. (Photo: WHO/AFP)
This video grab taken on May 18, 2020 from the website of the World Health Organization shows WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaking through video link at the World Health Assembly virtual meeting from the WHO headquarters in Geneva. (Photo: WHO/AFP)
 

The World Health Organization agreed Monday to launch an independent investigation of how it led the international effort to deal with COVID-19. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the announcement at the U.N. agency’s yearly General Assembly.

A coalition of WHO member countries had called for such an investigation. Tedros said the examination would not seek to answer the hotly debated issue of where and how the virus came to be.

American President Donald Trump has claimed he has proof suggesting the coronavirus was created in a lab in China. China denies the accusation. The scientific community says all evidence to date shows that the virus jumped to humans from animals.

Trump has repeatedly attacked the WHO, claiming that it helped China hide the extent of the coronavirus spread. Several Republican Party lawmakers have called on Tedros to resign.

Earlier Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that he supports calls for an investigation to learn how the coronavirus started and spread. But he argued for such action to start only after the worldwide health crisis is under control.

Xi spoke at the online WHO gathering.

The new coronavirus was first publicly identified in China in late December. It has since spread around the world, killing more than 315,000 people and infecting almost 4.8 million.

At the meeting Monday, Xi said China has always been “transparent” about its knowledge of the virus. He also announced that his country would provide $2 billion for the fight against COVID-19 over two years.

Governments around the world have been enforcing stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of the virus. Many also have called on people to wear face coverings and stay physically distant from others when they must go out in public. Those measures have brought economies to a halt. On Monday, Japan became the latest country to report that its economy is in recession.

Governments, especially in Europe, are starting to ease restrictions after reporting progress in bringing infection and deaths rates down. Belgium on Monday permitted stores and museums to reopen. More students returned to schools.

International travel restrictions are still in place in many areas, but some popular sites are reopening, including the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, and Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.

In India, a rise in new infections has led the government to extend its nationwide lockdown through the end of the month. The government reported more than 5,000 new cases and 157 deaths Monday.

Egypt is closing stores, beaches and parks during the holiday that marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Egypt also has established a nighttime curfew.

The United States is easing some restrictions. It leads the world in numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths, with about 1.5 million confirmed cases and 90,000 deaths.

I'm Caty Weaver.

VOA News reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. George Grow and Ashley Thompson were the editors.

_____________________________________________

Words in This Story

transparent -adj. honest and opennot secretive​

museum -n. a building in which interesting and valuable things (such as paintings and sculptures or scientific or historical objects) are collected and shown to the public​

lockdown -n. an emergency measure or condition in which people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a restricted area or building (such as a school) during a threat of danger​

beach -n. an area covered with sand or small rocks that is next to an ocean or lake​

park -n. a piece of public land in or near a city that is kept free of houses and other buildings and can be used for pleasure and exercise​

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Moderna Says Early Coronavirus Vaccine Shows Promise

May 18, 2020
FILE - Jennifer Haller, left, receives the first shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, March 16, 2020, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
FILE - Jennifer Haller, left, receives the first shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, March 16, 2020, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

American drug maker Moderna said Monday that its experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced antibodies in a small group of healthy people in an early trial.

The company said eight people who received two small amounts of its vaccine developed antibodies similar to those developed by people who have recovered from the disease.

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases led the experiment, also called a trial. It involved 45 volunteers who received one or two shots of differing amounts of the vaccine.

Tal Zaks is the chief medical officer at Moderna. Based on early results of the trial, he said the vaccine “has the potential to prevent COVID-19 disease….” He also said the company now can better choose the vaccine amount needed for further experiments.

The testing involved three different amounts. Zaks said the two smaller amounts of vaccine seem safe and the larger amount caused some short-term side effects. Three study subjects developed “flu-like” conditions following a second shot of the large dose. Moderna said it plans to drop that amount for the next part of the trial.

Amesh Adalja is an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security who was not involved in the study. He told Reuters that the findings are meaningful, but noted that they come from only eight people. “It was designed for safety. Not for efficacy,” he said.

A man stands outside an entrance to a Moderna, Inc., building, Monday, May 18, 2020, in Cambridge, Mass. Moderna announced Monday that an experimental vaccine against the coronavirus showed encouraging results.
A man stands outside an entrance to a Moderna, Inc., building, Monday, May 18, 2020, in Cambridge, Mass. Moderna announced Monday that an experimental vaccine against the coronavirus showed encouraging results.

Moderna has been permitted to start a second part of human testing that will involve several hundreds of people. In April, the U.S. government gave the company $483 million for vaccine development. Last week, U.S. officials gave the vaccine special recognition to help speed the process for approval.

Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna, said the company is hoping to start part three of the study in July. The company will try to find the lowest amount of vaccine necessary to protect people.

In May, Moderna and the biotechnology company Lonza agreed to work together over the next ten years to make a vaccine. The partnership could lead to the manufacture of 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine treatments a year.

There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19. Almost 4.8 million people are confirmed to have had the virus. It is known to have killed about 320,000. However, experts think the numbers may be underreported.

The World Health Organization has listed more than 100 efforts to develop effective treatments and vaccines for the coronavirus. The list includes clinical trials in China, at the University of Oxford, and with American drug makers Pfizer, Inovio and Moderna.

Experts predict a safe and effective vaccine could take 12 to 18 months to develop. The results of Moderna’s early trial have not been published. But the news lifted the company’s stock prices and spread hope that a solution against the infectious disease might be close.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

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

_________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

potential - n. a chance or possibility that something will happen in the future

efficacy - n. the power to produce a desired result or effect

clinical - adj. relating or based on work done with real patients

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6 Minute English

INTERMEDIATE LEVEL

Concepts of happiness

EPISODE 190124 / 24 JAN 2019

 Introduction

Research has suggested that while personal feelings of pleasure are the accepted definition of happiness in Western cultures, East Asian cultures tend to see happiness as social harmony and in some parts of Africa and India it's more about shared experiences and family. Neil and Rob discuss what makes people happy and ... are happy to teach you new vocabulary.

This week's question

The World Happiness Report measures "subjective well-being" - how happy the people are, and why. But do you know, according to a United Nations agency report in 2017, which is the happiest country on Earth? Is it…

a)    Norway

b)    Japan

c)    New Zealand

Listen to the programme to find out the answer.

Vocabulary

down in the dumps
(informal) feeling of unhappiness, sometimes with no hope

imperfection
fault or weakness

gild
cover something in a thin layer of gold

jolly
cheerful and happy

coping mechanism
something someone does to deal with a difficult situation

Transcript 

Note: This is not a word for word transcript

Neil
Hello. Welcome to 6 Minute English, I'm Neil. This is the programme where in just six minutes we discuss an interesting topic and teach some related English vocabulary. And joining me to do this is Rob. 

Rob
Hello, Neil. 

Neil
Now Rob, you seem like a happy chappy. 

Rob
What's the point of being miserable? 

Neil
Well, that are many things that could make you feel down in the dumps – a phrase that means 'unhappy' – but what are the things that keep you feeling happy, cheerful and chirpy, Rob?   

Rob
Oh many things like being healthy, having good friends, presenting programmes like this with you, Neil! 

Neil
Of course – but we all have different ideas about what makes us happy – and that can vary from country to country and culture to culture. It's what we're talking about today – concepts of happiness. 

Rob
Now Neil, you could make us even happier if you gave us a really good question to answer. 

Neil
Here it is. Happiness is an emotion that actually gets measured. The World Happiness Report measures "subjective well-being" - how happy the people are, and why. But do you know, according to a United Nations agency report in 2017, which is the happiest country on Earth? Is it…
a)    Norway
b)    Japan, or
c)    New Zealand? 

Rob
WeIl, I  think they're all very happy places but the outdoor life of many New Zealanders must make New Zealand the happiest place. 

Neil
OK, we'll see. I'll reveal the answer later on. But now back to our discussion about happiness around the world. 

Rob
Happiness can be hard to define. Research has suggested that while personal feelings of pleasure are the accepted definition of happiness in Western cultures, East Asian cultures tend to see happiness as social harmony and in some parts of Africa and India it's more about shared experiences and family. 

Neil
It's something author and journalist Helen Russell has been looking at – she's even created an 'Atlas of Happiness'.  Her research focused on the positive characteristics of a country's population – and guess which country she found to be one of the happiest? 

Rob
New Zealand? 

Neil
Actually no. It was Japan. Here she is speaking on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour programme. What concept – or belief – is it that promotes happiness? 

Helen Russell, author and journalist
Millennials and perhaps older people are better at remembering wabi-sabi – this traditional Japanese concept around celebrating imperfection, which I think is something so helpful these days, especially for women – it's this idea that there is a beauty in ageing, it's to be celebrated rather than trying to disguise it, or trying to cover up the scars instead you gild them with kintsugi – if you break a pot instead of chucking it away, you mend it with gold lacquer so the scars, rather than being hidden, are highlighted in pure gold… We all have laughter lines and rather than being ashamed of them, they're something to be celebrated. 

Neil
So in Japan, there is a belief that people should celebrate imperfection. Imperfection is a fault or weakness. So rather than hiding something that's not perfect, we should celebrate it. 

Rob
Getting old, for example, is not something to be ashamed of – don't hide your wrinkles or laughter lines – these are the creases you get as you skin ages or even you get from smiling too much! 

Neil
Rather than spending time being ashamed of our faults, we should accept what and who we are. This concept is something that Helen feels is particularly being celebrated by Millennials and older people. 

Rob
Yes, and Helen compared this with the process of kintsugi – where the cracks or scars on broken pottery are highlighted with gold lacquer. This is called gilding. So we should highlight our imperfections. 

Neil
This concept is something that maybe English people should embrace more because according to Helen Russell's research, they are not a very happy population. Here she is speaking on the BBC's Woman's Hour programme again – what word does she use to describe people like me and you? 

Helen Russell, author and journalist
In England what we have is 'jolly', which many of us now associate with this kind of 'jolly hockey sticks' or maybe an upper-class thing but actually it's something that really plays through a lot of British culture in a way that we may not think of so much. So there's this sense that in a lot of our comedy, in a lot of our approach to life you just sort of… you get out there, you go for a dog walk, you have a boiled egg and soldiers ['soldiers' in this case are small slices of toast that you can dip into your egg and eat], and we do sort of get on with things – it's a coping mechanism, it's not perfect but it's worked for many Brits for a while. 

Rob
In the past we would use the phrase 'jolly hockey sticks' – a humorous phrase used to describe upper-class school girls' annoying enthusiasm. 

Neil
But Helen now thinks 'jolly' describes an attitude that is used as a coping mechanism – that's something someone does to deal with a difficult situation. We smile, do everyday things – like walking the dog – and just get on with life. 

Rob
I guess she means carry on without complaining. 

Neil
Well, here's something to make you happy, Rob – the answer to the question I asked you earlier, which was: according to a United Nations agency report in 2017, which is the happiest country on Earth? Is it…
a)    Norway
b)    Japan, or
c)    New Zealand? 

Rob
And I said c) New Zealand. 

Neil
The answer is a) Norway. The report has been published for the past five years, during which the Nordic countries have consistently dominated the top spots.
OK, now it's time to remind ourselves of some of the vocabulary we've mentioned today. 

Rob
We mentioned the phrase down in the dumps – which is an informal way of describing the feeling of unhappiness, sometimes with no hope. 

Neil
The next word was imperfection, which is a fault or weakness. You won't find any imperfections in this programme, Rob! 

Rob
Glad to hear it. Maybe we should gild this script – to gild something is to cover it in a thin layer of gold. We also heard about the word jolly which means 'cheerful and happy'. 

Neil
And being jolly can be used as a coping mechanism - that's something someone does to deal with a difficult situation. If something doesn't go well, you just smile and carry on. 

Rob
Well, there's no need to do that in this programme. Now there's just time to remind you that we have a website with lots more learning English content. The address is bbclearningenglish.com. 

Neil
Thanks for joining us and goodbye. 

Rob
Goodbye!

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Thai Airways faces privatisation if it declares bankruptcy

May 19. 2020

Facebook Twitter

By The Nation

It is expected that the Cabinet will give the go-ahead to the rehabilitation of Thai Airways International (THAI) as per the Bankruptcy Court’s procedure at its meeting today (May 19). This could potentially result in the airline losing its status as state enterprise.

THAI is listed on the stock market and has been in financial trouble for many years, and now, with the Covid-19 crisis, things have become worse. 

Deputy Prime Minister Anuthin Charnvirakul said THAI may lose its status as state enterprise once it starts going through the rehab procedures set by the Bankruptcy Court. Once that happens, the State Enterprise Committee will no longer have authority over the carrier, though the manager of the rehabilitation will have the power to manage the airline’s business restructuring plan. 

The airline will be able to continue operating while its debts and businesses are being restructured, and it will not have to service debts during that time. 

Narumon Pinyosinwat, government spokesperson, said it is still not clear whether the airline’s bankruptcy case will be filed in a Thai or foreign court. 

However, an informed source at the Transport Ministry said the case should go to a Thai court even though 30 per cent of the airline’s Bt200 billion debt is owed to foreigners. 

Some sources suggested that the government file the case in the United States in order to stop foreign creditors seizing THAI airplanes when they land on foreign soil. 

The Transport Ministry source, however, said there should be no such problem if THAI can negotiate with its foreign creditors, most of whom have leased planes to the airline. 

Meanwhile, Nares Puengyam, leader of the THAI trade union, voiced concern about the airline potentially losing its status as state enterprise. 

“The union agrees with the plan to rehabilitate via the Bankruptcy Court’s process, but we do not agree with the proposal to reduce the Finance Ministry’s stake by 2 per cent,” he said. 

The Finance Ministry currently holds a 51.03 per cent stake in the airline, but if its holding is cut to below 50 per cent, THAI will no longer be a state enterprise. 

Nares said he was worried that this would adversely affect the company’s credit rating and push up the cost of future borrowing. 

Officials, however, say that once THAI becomes a private entity, it will find it easier to restructure by cutting redundant staff, slashing wages as well as cancelling perks offered to the local elite and efficiently managing its costs as a whole. 

A recent news report suggested that the Finance Ministry may sell some of its stake to Vayupak Fund, an investment vehicle that was set up by the ministry, which will inject fresh funds into the airline. 

Initially, THAI management had proposed that the Finance Ministry borrow Bt50 billion to finance the ailing airline, but the plan was rejected.

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

New BTS stations checked for readiness

May 18. 2020

Facebook Twitter

By The Nation

Deputy Bangkok governor Sakoltee Phattiyakul visited BTS stations from Kasetsart University to Wat Phra Si Mahathat on the Sukhumvit Line (Green Line) to see if they are ready to serve commuters from June onwards.

The Green Line is being extended from Mo Chit to Khukhot.

 

 .........................................................
 
FINISHED
 
Tuesday, March 19, 2020
 

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