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Wordsmith.org Today's Word - 9 min 39 sec ago
1. Agreement or accord. 2. A combination of sounds pleasing to the ear. 3. The repetition of consonant sounds, especially at the ends of words as "st" in the phrase "first and last".

1,030 - Adopting a Pet

Who wouldn’t want to adopt a cute dog (other than me)? Find out in this episode.

Slow dialog: 1:14
Explanations: 3:34
Fast dialog: 18:16

Gabe: Why are we here? I thought we decided to put off getting a dog.

Rene: I know that’s what you’d like to do, but I thought a trip to the pound might convince you that this is the right time to adopt a dog. Look at this cute little dog. This card lists his breed and says that he was neglected and abandoned. How could you turn down a face like that?

Gabe: I don’t think he’s right for us. Let’s move on.

Rene: Look at this one. It says on his card that when they found him, he showed signs of abuse. Poor baby. How can you not be moved to take this little guy home?

Gabe: Let’s keep moving.

Rene: How about this little dog? I’d hate to see this little guy be put down. Here, pet her and look at her little face.

Gabe: This animal shelter isn’t going to put down these dogs. It’s a humane place.

Rene: They have no choice. They find so many strays that there’s no room to keep them. It’s so sad. It’s tragic, really.

Gabe: Maybe...

Rene: What did you say?

Gabe: I said maybe we could take one home, maybe two.

Rene: Really? Two would be great, but three would be better.

Gabe: Don’t push your luck!

Script by Dr. Lucy Tse

Cartoon: Between a Rock and a Hard Place..?

The English Blog - 5 hours 35 min ago

Rock cartoon

World powers have called a succession of emergency meetings to step up the international response to Russia after Kiev accused Moscow of a de facto invasion and of opening up a second front in the conflict in eastern Europe. The UN security council was meeting in emergency session, the US national security council convened at the White House, and Nato and EU leaders will consider their response on Friday, amid signs that hundreds of Russian soldiers are actively involved in the insurrection against Kiev's rule in Ukraine. Russia denies that any of its troops are in eastern Ukraine. But on Thursday Nato said it estimated there were now more than 1,000 Russian soldiers fighting there. The organisation released satellite images that it said showed Russian armoured vehicles and artillery had been crossing into Ukraine for at least a week. Full story >>

The cartoon by Adams from the Daily Telegraph shows Russian President Vladimir Putin driving a tank through a gap between two rocks. The right-hand rock bears the 12 stars from the EU flag, the left-hand one the compass rose emblem from the flag of NATO.

The cartoon is visual representation of an English idiom. If you are (caught) between a rock and a hard place, you have to make a difficult decision between two things that are equally unpleasant. • I'm caught between a rock and a hard place. If I go with Isobel, it'll be much more expensive and if I go with Julie, Isobel probably won't speak to me again. See The Phrase Finder for the origin of this expression. The irony is that Putin is not really between a rock and a hard place (as the question mark makes clear), and is literally driving a tank (or rather lots of tanks) through the divisions between the EU and NATO.

Gary Barker cartoon (The Times)
Brian Adcock cartoon (The Independent)

Related articles Ukraine: emergency UN, Nato, EU meetings after Russian invasion claim Ukraine: Russian tanks attack near Luhansk Ukraine: Nato to meet amid claims of Russian invasion Ukraine-Russia crisis: Russian forces brought into Ukraine, says Petro Poroshenko - live Russia to be hit with new EU sanctions

Newsy Video: California Passes Plastic Bag Ban

The English Blog - 6 hours 24 min ago

California's legislature has passed a ban on single-use plastic bags. It could soon be the first ban of its kind implemented at a state level. State lawmakers passed the bill along with a host of other measures during a late-night session Friday, after initially failing to clear the legislature in an eariler vote. It now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk for approval. If signed, the proposal would ban grocery and convenience stores from providing plastic bags for their customers. Shoppers would have to either bring their own bags, or pay 10 cents at checkout for a paper or reusable plastic bag. Full transcript >>

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Words in the News: Slash

The English Blog - 6 hours 31 min ago


Those retiring since 2012 are getting around 20 per cent less from an annual annuity than those outside Europe because of EU regulations. It has led to claims Britons are being ripped off, with Brussels bureaucrats once again interfering in British affairs. Under the Solvency II directive, insurance companies, including pension providers, must keep a lump sum in reserve to ensure they can always meet claims. There are similar rules in the United States but the amount kept aside as a buffer is much smaller, meaning there is more money available for customers. Although the risks are slightly higher as a result, American ­pensioners pocket around £1,000 more a year than people of retirement age in the UK. The average British private pension annuity is around £5,700-a-year. Full story >>

To slash something is to reduce it by a large amount. • The budget had been slashed by £3 million. • The company has slashed production by 50%.

Related articles How EU 'health and safety' hits your pension Basic State Pension: What You Need to Know Revealed: How Brussels red tape leaves British pensioners £600 a YEAR worse off than Americans Pensions: Annuities 'rip-off' needs reform, say Sunday Times Is an annuity an investment product? Perhaps not!

UN: Boat People Fleeing Myanmar, Bangladesh

VOA Special English - 11 hours 43 min ago
The United Nations says there has been a sudden increase in people fleeing Myanmar and Bangladesh by boat. Activists fear the number will continue to rise as refugees leave unclean camps and violence in Myanmar. They say that is especially true of ethnic Rohingya. The U.N. High Commission for Refugees wrote the report.  It says from June 2013 to June 2014, more than 53,000 people fled by sea from the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar, formerly Burma. That is an increase of 60...

Could Dinosaurs Have Survived?

VOA Special English - 11 hours 43 min ago
Dinosaurs last lived on Earth about 65 million years ago. For many years, scientists have debated how and why dinosaurs disappeared. But improved tools and records of fossil remains have led some experts to agree about the disappearance of these ancient creatures. We get more from Jeri Watson. University of Edinburgh researcher Steve Brusatte led the team of experts. They blamed a huge rock from space – a 10-kilometer-wide asteroid -- for the dinosaurs’ disappearance. Their findings...

Brain Imaging Comes to Children in Poor Countries

VOA Special English - 11 hours 51 min ago
Brain Imaging Comes to Children in Poor Countries

Brain imaging was once thought to be too costly and difficult for widespread use in the developing world. But the...

Test 1, September 2014

Spotlight - 13 hours 40 min ago

If I ______ the money, I'd buy a house.


Spotlight - 13 hours 40 min ago
"Our arrival was delayed by bad weather."

Test 2, September 2014

Spotlight - 13 hours 40 min ago

Place the salad fork to the left ______ the dinner fork.

AWADmail 635

Wordsmith.org Today's Word - 31 August 2014 - 1:05pm
A Compendium of Feedback on the Words featured in A.Word.A.Day

BEP 256 – Discussing Staffing Needs (Part 1)

BusinessEnglishPod - 31 August 2014 - 11:15am

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on discussing hiring and staffing needs.

Business English for HRAny time we plan a new project, develop a new product, open a new office, or expand a business operation, we need to discuss staffing needs. How many people do we need? What type of work will they do? What qualifications do they need? Where can we find them? What will we pay them? These are all questions that must be resolved if we are to make sure we’ve got the right people in the right jobs.

As they discuss staffing, the speakers in today’s dialog will use many expressions that we call “collocations.” Learning collocations will help you improve your vocabulary and help you sound more natural in English. But what exactly is a collocation? Simply put, a collocation is a natural combination of words. It’s an expression that English speakers commonly use. For example, we often say that something “meets a need” or “fills a need.” That sounds natural. But if you say “take a need” or “makes our needs”, people won’t understand. Those combinations aren’t natural collocations.

As you listen to the discussion, try to pick out some of these collocations and we’ll discuss them later in the debrief.

In the dialog, we’ll hear a conversation between three managers who work for a fiber optics company that is starting a new production line. Carla works in the finance department, Hank is the HR manager, and Paul is a production manager. Together, they’re talking about how to staff, or recruit new workers, for the new venture.

Listening Questions

1. Why does Carla think it will be difficult to bring in 15 new people?
2. What does Hank suggest about staffing the new project?
3. What kind of work does Paul say they will need to hire new people for?

Premium Members: Study Notes | Online Practice | PhraseCast

bletting: Dictionary.com Word of the Day

Dictionary.com Word of the Day - 31 August 2014 - 9:00am
bletting: the ripening of fruit until the desired degree of softness is attained.

Cartoon: Obama Challenged

The English Blog - 31 August 2014 - 8:25am

Obama challenged

This cartoon by Chappatte from NZZ am Sonntag shows President Obama sitting at his desk in the Oval Office having buckets of ice poured over his head. The buckets are labelled with various crises he is facing around the world: Ukraine, Middle East, ISIS ...

The Ice Bucket Challenge is an activity involving dumping a bucket of ice water on someone's head to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and encourage donations to research. It went viral on social media during July-August 2014. The cartoonist uses the Ice Bucket Challenge to illustrate the veritable host of international problems the Obama administration is confronted with. 

In real life, President Barack Obama has decllined to take part in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Instead, he has opted to donate $100 to the charity fighting Lou Gehrig’s disease. Read more >>

Related articles Cartoon: Ice Bucket Challenge The Ice Bucket Challenge has taken on a whole new life in Gaza The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Has Raised $100M. But It's Finally Cooling Off. Ice bucket challenge goes presidential Cartoon: Obama's Foreign Policy

Newsy Video: Campaign To Keep Scotland In U.K. Leans On Star Power

The English Blog - 31 August 2014 - 7:59am

As the vote on whether Scotland will remain a part of the United Kingdom draws nearer, more and more celebrities are voicing their opinions on the matter. Sir Paul McCartney become the most recent figure to sign an open letter urging Scots to shoot down the independence campaign. Hundreds of British celebrities have now signed a "Let's Stay Together" campaign letter. Full transcript >>

Related articlesSir Paul McCartney joins 'Let's Stay Together' campaignSir Paul McCartney backs No vote in Scottish independence referendumMcCartney: Scotland, you can't do thatCome Together! Paul McCartney joins campaign to keep Scotland in UK ahead of voteSir Paul McCartney makes his stance on Scottish independence known

Words in the News: Knee-jerk

The English Blog - 31 August 2014 - 7:55am


Tensions between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats over how to counter the terrorism threat from extremists have been exposed as Paddy Ashdown accuses Tory ministers of "kneejerk" responses and of stoking fear in the minds of the British people. The former Liberal Democrat leader and former high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, writing in the Observer, also criticises David Cameron for ill-judged rhetoric that he says could alienate ordinary Muslims and hamper the battle to defeat jihadis. Full story >>

A knee-jerk reaction is immediate and not carefully considered. • Toto Wolff says Mercedes will not make a “knee-jerk reaction” following the fallout between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Related articles Cameron and Clegg to hold terror talks Sunday's National Newspaper Front Pages Paddy Ashdown: The global power shift


OALD Word Of The Day - 31 August 2014 - 3:00am
awning: a sheet of strong cloth...

Go Away! You're Buggin' Me!

VOA Special English - 31 August 2014 - 2:30am
Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories. There are many American expressions about insects -- like bees, for example. Bees are known as very hard workers. They always appear to be busy, moving around in their homes, or hives. So you might say you were "as busy as a bee" if you spent your weekend cleaning your house. In fact, you might say your house was a "beehive of activity" if your whole family was helping you clean. You also might say...

It's an Emergency in Any Language

VOA Special English - 31 August 2014 - 2:15am
In most countries, people can make a telephone call to ask for medical or police help using just three numbers. In the European Union, the number is 1-1-2. Some Asian countries use 9-9-9. In North America, the number is 9-1-1. Wherever you are in the world, when you call for help, you do not want the person answering to say “I don’t understand you.” In the United States, most of the workers who answer calls for emergency help speak just one language -- English. But many people in...


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