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Thursday, 24 September 2015

25 sep 2015 editorials

The Hindu: September 25, 2015 00:02 IST

Bangladesh's imperilled writers


The threats issued by the Ansarullah Bangla Team, a Bangladesh-based Islamist group, against secular writers and activists pose a challenge to the polity of Bangladesh. The ABT, which has been blamed for a series of murders of secular bloggers, has released a hit list on the Internet. It names Bangla writers living in different countries, and threatens to kill them all unless its demands are met. It wants the government to revoke the Bangladeshi citizenship of the writers listed, who it terms "enemies of Islam, apostates… and unbelievers". This threat is a direct challenge to the state of Bangladesh. It comes weeks after ABT leader Abul Bashar and several other activists were arrested in connection with the murder of blogger Avijit Roy. Yet, the ABT has sent out a clear message that its violent campaign against critical thinkers and writers would only continue.


The secular bloggers are victims of an ongoing conflict between the ruling elite and violent Islamists. Ever since the Awami League government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina opened the trial of those who committed war crimes during the country's liberation war, Bangladesh has seen a steady rise in violence. The Islamist groups are steadfastly opposed to the trial, but they lack the political capital to influence either the society or the state. So they have chosen to vent their anger through violent street protests. The Jamaat-e-Islami, whose leaders were indicted in the trial, and the main opposition, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led the protests, which worsened the law and order situation. It was against this background that rightwing fringe groups such as the ABT started targeted killings. They attack the bloggers as they know they are soft targets. Hitting government officials and others involved in the trial would invite the wrath of the state machinery. The government's response was on expected lines. Instead of immediately taking action against the assailants, the authorities advised the writers to "avoid provocative statements on sensitive religious issues". It took four murders this year for the government to finally start cracking down on the ABT; by that time it had grown in strength. The government has to crack down on such fringe groups that are threatening free speech. The very survival of Bangladesh as a secular-democratic country may be at stake. Mainstream parties such as the BNP should set aside narrow political calculations and back the government in the fight against religious fundamentalism. They should realise that teaming up with fundamentalists might fetch short-term dividends, but in the long term it would only weaken the state and rupture the society.



·        pose verb (CAUSE)

> to cause something, especially a problem or difficulty:

Nuclear weapons pose a threat to everyone.

The mountain terrain poses particular problems for civil engineers.



·        revoke

› to say officially that an agreement, permission, a law, etc. is no longer in effect:

The authorities have revoked their original decision to allow development of this rural area.


·        apostate

› someone who has given up their religion or left a political party


·        elite

>the richest, most powerful, best-educated, or best-trained group in a society:

the country's educated elite

a member of the elite


·        vent

> a small opening that allows air, smoke, or gas to enter or leave a closed space:

If you have a gas fire in a room, you should have some kind of outside vent.


·        fringe noun [C] (EDGE)

> the outer or less important part of an area, group, or activity:

the southern fringe of the city

the radical fringes of the party

He attended several of the fringe meetings at the conference.

·        fringe noun [C] (DECORATION)

› a decorative edge of hanging narrow strips of material or threads on a piece of clothing or material:

a fringe around the edge of a tablecloth


·        wrath

extreme anger:

The people feared the wrath of God.


·        crack down

> to start dealing with bad or illegal behaviour in a more severe way:

The library is cracking down on people who lose their books.


·        team up

› to join another person, or form a group with other people, in order to do something together:

They teamed up for a charity performance.


·        rupture

› to (cause something to) explode, break, or tear:

His appendix ruptured and he had to be rushed to hospital.

figurative This news has ruptured (= violently ended) the delicate peace between the rival groups.

rupture yourself

› If you rupture yourself, you break apart the wall of muscle that keeps your stomach and your bowels in place, usually by lifting something too heavy.



The Hindu: September 25, 2015 00:13 IST

Revisit the sedition law

As ironies go, this one is rich. A circular in Maharashtra containing guidelines aimed at preventing the misuse of the law relating to sedition appears to endanger freedom of speech and expression. The Bombay High Court has now stayed the August 27 circular, pending a decision on its constitutional validity. The controversial aspect of the circular is that it seems to tell police personnel that strong criticism of public servants can possibly attract the sedition charge if it shows them as "representatives of the Union or State government". The circular was an offshoot of a judgment by the High Court in March this year on the question whether the police were right in slapping the sedition charge against a cartoonist in 2012. Though the charge was dropped subsequently, the court reminded the authorities that sedition as an offence requires the element of incitement to violence and disaffection against a government established by law, and mere criticism of government policy or public servants will not attract the provision. The Advocate General had said the government would come up with guidelines as a circular to police personnel on when and how Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code may be evoked. It seems a point in the High Court order that sedition will not be attracted by words or signs or representations against politicians or public servants, unless they were shown to be representative of the government, was loosely translated in Marathi to the effect that any criticism against politicians and public servants representing the Union or State government would attract the charge.

The potential for mischief from the circular has been stalled by the court order now, but the fact is that police officers continue to invoke Section 124A indiscriminately. Flagrant instances in recent times include the registration of a sedition case against cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, one of the petitioners against the latest circular, for cartoons produced in 2012 highlighting corruption, and the attempt to book some Kashmiri students in a university in Meerut last year for cheering for Pakistan in a one-day cricket match against India, using a pre-Independence era provision that was meant to suppress the freedom movement. While the possibility of groups and individuals promoting disaffection against a lawful government still exists, there is little justification to invoke the sedition charge against political movements unless they promote violence and public disorder. Instead of ad hoc attempts to put in place loose safeguards and guidelines, the government would do well to review such outdated penal provisions. Legislation exists to deal with unlawful activities and armed movements. There is no need to criminalise words spoken or written, however strong and provocative they are in their criticism of the state.


·        sedition

language or behaviour that is intended to persuade other people to oppose their government



·        irony noun [U] (OPPOSITE RESULT)

>a situation in which something which was intended to have a particular result has the opposite or a very different result:

The irony (of it) is that the new tax system will burden those it was intended to help.

More examples

·        irony noun [U] (TYPE OF SPEECH)

> the use of words that are the opposite of what you mean, as a way of being funny:

Her voice heavy with irony, Simone said, "We're so pleased you were able to stay so long." (= Her voice made it obvious they were not pleased.)


·        endanger

› to put someone or something at risk or in danger of being harmed, damaged, or destroyed:

He would never do anything to endanger the lives of his children.

We must be careful not to do anything that might endanger the economic recovery.


·        offshoot

› something that has developed from something larger that already existed:

It's an offshoot of a much larger company based in Sydney.


·        evoke

› to make someone remember something or feel an emotion:

That smell always evokes memories of my old school.

a detergent designed to evoke the fresh smell of summer meadows


·        flagrant

› (of a bad action, situation, person, etc.) shocking because of being so obvious:

a flagrant misuse of funds/privilege

a flagrant breach of trust


·        instance

>a particular situation, event, or fact, especially an example of something that happens generally:

There have been several instances of violence at the school.


·        ad hoc

› made or happening only for a particular purpose or need, not planned before it happens:

an ad hoc committee/meeting


·        put sth in (FIX)

› to fix a large piece of equipment or system into a room or building, ready to be used:

I've just had central heating/a new kitchen put in.

·        put sth in (OFFER)

› to formally offer a particular thing to be considered:

I've put in an application to the college.

They've put in a bid for the company/a bid to buy the company.


Business standard

Mr Obama's legacy


 He could be one of the best post-War US presidents yet Prime Minister Narendra Modi touched down in the US on Thursday for his second visit in his first 16 months in office just as US President Barack Obama begins the last 15 months of his "lame duck" term. The new dispensation will take charge in January 2017 of a country that is in far better shape from the crisis-ridden one Mr Obama inherited in January 2009. To put it in a nutshell: the economy is growing faster (a projected three per cent this year against a 2.8 per cent contraction in 2009), he has created more jobs - six million - than George W Bush did in his two terms, he pushed through, against entrenched, moneyed lobbies, a medical insurance plan that has covered 18 million more Americans, took the US out of two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, that his predecessor began and cost more than $ 3 trillion for no appreciable gain, took the courageous decision that saw the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the world's most wanted terrorist till then, and ended decades-long enmities with Iran, with a breakthrough nuclear deal, and Cuba thus earning his Nobel Peace Prize in retrospect.

In a country where media scrutiny is intrusively intense, he has suffered no scandals so far - personal, political or monetary (the Obamas' net earnings actually fell after he became president). Few US presidents can claim so many significant achievements; Mr Obama, the country's first African-American president, has done so in the face of unprecedentedly vicious and intense opposition. A Republican-controlled Congress is one element of that and it is a risk many presidents have run before; but Mr Obama has had the added pressure of parrying ingrained racism as exemplified by the "birther" controversy, which endured into his second term, and regular taunts about being Muslim from such unedifying personalities as Donald Trump. Yet the egregious Mr Trump, who hopes to secure the Republican nomination for the presidency, would have been one of many beneficiaries since Mr Obama took office.

Naturally, for a job as complex as the US president's, the performance is not flawless. For instance, though the unemployment rate may have fallen to 5.6 per cent from 7.8 per cent, when Mr Bush relinquished charge, long-term employment remains a challenge. More Americans live in poverty than they did in 2009 and Mr Obama's effort to spend his way out of recession has meant federal debt at $13 trillion has grown more during his term than all US presidents combined - it could be the cause of yet another Republican-orchestrated government shutdown in October. In foreign policy, his strategy against ISIS in West Asia has lacked conviction, nor has he been able to reassure Japan and Pacific Rim countries against China's belligerence. It is unclear how much he could have achieved here; Mr Obama, who set new standards of public probity with his crowd-sourced campaign funding, has an acute understanding of the limits of American power. Under Mr Bush, America looked to be in terminal decline. Thanks to Mr Obama, America will enjoy its superpower status for a while longer in the best possible way.



·        touch down

› When an aircraft touches down, it lands.


·        lame adjective (UNABLE TO WALK)

› (especially of animals) not able to walk correctly because of physical injury to or weakness in the legs or feet

lame adjective (NOT SATISFACTORY)

› (especially of an excuse or argument) weak and unsatisfactory:

a lame excuse


·        duck

› [I or T] to move your head or the top part of your body quickly down, especially to avoid being hit:

I saw the ball hurtling towards me and ducked (down).

Duck your head or you'll bang it on the doorframe.

› [T] to push someone underwater for a short time:

The boys were splashing around and ducking each other in the pool.

› [I + adv/prep] to move quickly to a place, especially in order not to be seen:

When he saw them coming, he ducked into a doorway.


·        duck out of sth

› to avoid doing something:

You can't duck out of your responsibilities.


·        dispensation noun (PERMISSION)

special permission, especially from the Church, to do something that is not usually allowed:

The couple have requested (a) special dispensation from the Church to allow them to marry.

·        dispensation noun (SYSTEM)

› a political or religious system controlling a country at a particular time


·        in a nutshell

> using as few words as possible:

Well, to put it in a nutshell, we're lost.


·        entrenched

› Entrenched ideas are so fixed or have existed for so long that they cannot be changed:

It's very difficult to change attitudes that have become so deeply entrenched over the years.


·        in retrospect

> thinking now about something in the past:

In retrospect, I think my marriage was doomed from the beginning.

I'm sure my university days seem happier in retrospect than they really were.


·        breakthrough

>an important discovery or event that helps to improve a situation or provide an answer to a problem:

Scientists are hoping for a breakthrough in the search for a cure for cancer.

A major breakthrough in negotiations has been achieved.


·        scrutiny

>the careful and detailed examination of something in order to get information about it:

The government's record will be subjected to/come under (close) scrutiny in the weeks before the election.


·        intrusive

affecting someone in a way that annoys them and makes them feel uncomfortable:

intrusive questioning


·        intense

> extreme and forceful or (of a feeling) very strong:

intense cold/heat/hatred

an intense flavour/colour

He suddenly felt an intense pain in his back.

> Intense people are very serious, and usually have strong emotions or opinions:

an intense young man


·        unprecedented

> never having happened or existed in the past:

This century has witnessed environmental destruction on an unprecedented scale.


·        vicious

> Viscious people or actions show an intention or wish to hurt someone or something very badly:

a vicious thug

a vicious dog

The police said that this was one of the most vicious attacks they'd ever seen.

He gave her a vicious look.

> used to describe an object, condition, or remark that causes great physical or emotional pain:

a large collection of vicious medieval torture instruments

a vicious lie/accusation/rumour


·        parry

› to defend yourself from a weapon or an attack by pushing the weapon away or by putting something between your body and the weapon

› to manage cleverly to avoid dealing with a difficult question or some criticism:

Predictably the president parried enquiries about the arms scandal.


·        ingrained adjective (BELIEFS)

› (of beliefs) so firmly held that they are not likely to change:

Such ingrained prejudices cannot be corrected easily.

The belief that you should own your house is deeply ingrained in our society.

·        ingrained adjective (DIRT)

› Ingrained dirt has got under the surface of something and is difficult to remove:

The oil had become ingrained in his skin.


·        racism

> the belief that people's qualities are influenced by their race and that the members of other races are not as good as the members of your own, or the resulting unfair treatment of members of other races:

The authorities are taking steps to combat/fight/tackle racism in schools.


·        taunt

› to intentionally annoy and upset someone by making unkind remarks to them, laughing unkindly, etc.:

The other kids used to taunt him in the playground because he was fat and wore glasses.


·        egregious

extremely bad in a way that is very noticeable:

It was an egregious error for a statesman to show such ignorance.


·        flawless

> perfect or without mistakes:

a flawless complexion


·        relinquish

› to give up something such as a responsibility or claim:

He has relinquished his claim to the throne.

She relinquished control of the family investments to her son.

› to unwillingly stop holding or keeping something:

She relinquished her hold/grip on the steering wheel.


·        belligerent

› disapproving wishing to fight or argue:

a belligerent person

a belligerent gesture

Watch out! Lee's in a belligerent mood.

› formal fighting a war:

The belligerent countries are having difficulties funding the war.


Indian Express

Grand scam auto

The Volkswagen emissions scandal is a breach of trust that will have widespread ramifications .As far as India is concerned, the VW scandal may not have an immediate direct impact on consumers.

The emissions cheating scandal involving Volkswagen (VW), leading to the resignation of the chief executive of the world's biggest automaker, is no ordinary tale of corporate fraud. It's already being talked of as the auto industry's Lehman Brothers moment. The issue here is one of trust. How could a company symbolising the best of "German Engineering" — and owning iconic brands like Audi, Porsche, Bentley and Lamborghini — be caught for fitting some 11 million diesel cars with software that masks vehicular pollution, often 30 to 40 times the permissible limit? VW faces penalties of roughly $18 billion from US regulators after admitting to systematically installing such software since 2009, apart from suffering a similar fall in its market capitalisation this week. But more than money, the real collapse is of public trust: If VW can do it, can one expect other automakers to be any different?

To be sure, this is not the first time that VW, or for that matter the automotive industry, has been caught cheating. In 1973, the US Environmental Protection Agency, which uncovered the latest scam, had penalised VW for installing a so-called "defeat" device to shut down the vehicle's pollution control system. In 1974, the EPA made Chrysler recall more than 8,00,000 cars after similar devices were found in their radiators. But despite the bans, such devices have survived and, in fact, become more sophisticated. Recognised global brands, including Toyota, Hyundai, Kia and GM, have also been found to be duping customers by either overstating mileage or understating emissions. Yet, what is remarkable in the latest scandal is the scale and kind of sophisticated software algorithms deployed, which can apparently recognise when a pollution test is being conducted and turn on full emissions control just for that moment. And there will be questions asked now on the viability of new-age diesel engines, which witnessed a renaissance after being projected as much cleaner than before.

As far as India is concerned, the VW scandal may not have an immediate direct impact on consumers. The level of fuel emissions allowed here are much higher than in the US or Europe. So, the cars being made and sold by the German auto major here may not meet the fate of VW or Audi diesel vehicles in the US. But there could be an indirect impact on the country's auto ancillary industry, which supplies a range of components to global vehicle majors. That impact may not be small, if the VW case turns out to be a mini-Lehman.


·        emission

>the act of sending out gas, heat, light, etc.:

Environmental groups want a substantial reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases.

>an amount of gas, heat, light, etc. that is sent out:

carbon dioxide emissions


·        sophisticated

> having a good understanding of the way people behave and/or a good knowledge of culture and fashion:

She was slim, svelte, and sophisticated.

I don't think I have any books that would suit your sophisticated tastes.

He was older than me and from London and I thought him very sophisticated.

> intelligent or made in a complicated way and therefore able to do complicated tasks:

I think a more sophisticated approach is needed to solve this problem.


·        deploy

› to use something or someone, especially in an effective way:

The company is reconsidering the way in which it deploys its resources/staff.

My job doesn't really allow me fully to deploy my skills/talents.

› to move soldiers or equipment to a place where they can be used when they are needed:

The decision has been made to deploy extra troops/more powerful weapons.


·        What is Lehman .. The press is full of the US crisis, with talk of banks going bankrupt and the financial system in chaos,

·        apparently

>used to say you have read or been told something although you are not certain it is true:

Apparently it's going to rain today.

Apparently he's had enough of England and is going back to Australia.

> used when the real situation is different from what you thought it was:

You know I told you Alice's party was on the 13th? Well I saw her last night and apparently it's on the 14th.


·        renaissance

› a new growth of activity or interest in something, especially art, literature, or music:

Opera is enjoying a long-awaited renaissance.


·        ancillary

providing support or help:

ancillary staff/workers

an ancillary role



Sep 25 2015 : The Economic Times (Bangalore)

It's Time to Borrow More Abroad

The RBI's draft norms are on the right lines

The more liberal norms proposed by the RBI for Indian companies to tap foreign credit are welcome. This is an opportune moment for India to absorb more foreign debt.Yes, there is macroeconomic risk that will affect all borrowers associated with liberal foreign borrowings. How ever, by stipulating fairly tight -tighter than at present -spreads over Libor, the central bank has ensured that only creditworthy companies will be able to access external commercial borrowing. The RBI envisages more liberal norms for who can borrow, from whom and to what end. All this is welcome, as is the move to let companies issue rupee-denominated bonds overseas. But here, too, large-scale issuance of junk bonds by Indian companies with low creditworthiness would eventually depress India's overall credit rating. So, something less vague than `commensurate with prevailing market conditions' must guide issuance of rupee bonds abroad.

The promise to allow foreign investors in rupee bonds to hedge against currency risk in In dia would have to be backed up with an improved market for currency deriva tives that will make the non-deliver able forward contracts abroad for the rupee redundant. The US dollar rides high at present against all major cur rencies, thanks to relative US economic robustness and the safe haven effect during global financial volatility. Once growth picks up around the world, this overvaluation of the dollar will come down.

The rupee, too, will strengthen, in tandem, as India's productivity inevitably rises. Therefore, the currency risk in external borrowing is quite limited at present. At the same time, the cost of capital is extremely low in most parts of the world. India should be able to take advantage of this situation and mobilise cheap external capital, buy cheap commodities and build up Indian infrastructure and other industries. To take out the risk from the liberalisation this calls for, the domestic economy must become more flexible and competitive and macroeconomic management gain further credibility . This is a tough job but the rewards are well worth the effort.



·        opportune

happening at a time that is likely to produce success or is convenient:

This seems to be an opportune moment for reviving our development plan


·        stipulate

› to say exactly how something must be or must be done:

She agreed to buy the car, but stipulated racing tyres and a turbo-powered engine


·        Libor

› abbreviation for London Inter-Bank Offered Rate: the interest rate at which UK banks lend to each other. Libor is also used to set other interest rates:

These bonds pay an interest rate that is half a percentage point over Libor.


·        envision

› to imagine or expect that something is a likely or desirable possibility in the future:

He envisioned a partnership between business and government.

The company envisions adding at least five stores next year.


·        vague

> not clearly expressed, known, described, or decided:

I do have a vague memory of meeting her many years ago.

The patient had complained of vague pains and backache.

> not clear in shape, or not clearly seen:

Through the mist I could just make out a vague figure.

>A vague person is not able to think clearly, or gives an impression of not thinking clearly in order to hide their real thoughts:

My aunt is incredibly vague - she can never remember where she puts things.


·        commensurate

› in a correct and suitable amount compared to something else:

a salary that is commensurate with skills and experience


·        prevailing

existing in a particular place or at a particular time:

the prevailing attitude

The prevailing mood is one of optimism.

prevailing wind

› a wind that usually blows in a particular direction:

The town is kept cool by the prevailing westerly winds.


·        hedge noun (PROTECTION)

› a way of protecting, controlling, or limiting something:

She'd made some overseas investments as a hedge against rising inflation in this country.


·        backed up

› If traffic is backed up, the vehicles have to wait in a long line because there are too many of them:

The traffic is backed up for six miles on the road to the coast.


·        redundant adjective (NOT NEEDED)

>(especially of a word, phrase, etc.) unnecessary because it is more than is needed:

In the sentence "She is a single unmarried woman", the word "unmarried" is redundant.

·        redundant adjective (NOT EMPLOYED)

> having lost your job because your employer no longer needs you:

To keep the company alive, half the workforce is being made redundant.


·        robust

› (of a person or animal) strong and healthy, or (of an object or system) strong and unlikely to break or fail:

He looks robust and healthy enough.

a robust pair of walking boots


·        haven

› a safe or peaceful place:

The garden was a haven from the noise and bustle of the city.

They wanted to provide safe havens for the refugees.


·        volatile

likely to change suddenly and unexpectedly or suddenly become violent or angry:

Food and fuel prices are very volatile in a war situation.

The situation was made more volatile by the fact that people had been drinking a lot of alcohol.


Ø  inevitable

certain to happen and unable to be avoided or prevented:

The accident was the inevitable consequence/result/outcome of carelessness.

Ø  the inevitable

› something that is certain to happen and cannot be prevented:

Eventually the inevitable happened and he had a heart attack.


Ø  in tandem

› at the same time:

The heart and lungs will be transplanted in tandem.

› If two pieces of equipment, people, etc. are working in tandem, they are working together, especially well or closely:

I want these two groups to work/operate in tandem on this project.



Sep 25 2015 : The Economic Times (Bangalore)

A Country for Criminal Old Men?

With age comes wisdom. Releasing the detailed judgment this week of the Uphaar cinema fire case that claimed 59 lives in 1997, a three-member Supreme Court bench maintained that one of the guilty was `fairly aged' and it "may not be fruitful to ask him to undergo rigorous imprisonment". The other app ellant was also given reprieve on the grounds of parity . In a country where respecting elders is ingrained in our tradition letting the 75-year-old Sushil and 67-year-old Gopal Ansal walk must be the wise thing to do. Growing older, in the sharp but benevolent eyes of the court, must have been punishment enough for the Ansals.

This verdict will have far-reaching effects. Article 14 of the Constitution upholds equality of all be fore the law. So what holds true for the two senior citizens who committed their cri me when they were 57 and 49 will hold true for everyone. Eighty-year-old Harya na chief minister Om Prakash Chautala and 67-year-old Sahara chief Subrata Roy are only two elders who, by dint of their age, can immediately be released to spend their remaining non-salad years in contemplation. The fact that crimes of one's youth and middle age can be overlooked after a suitable passage of time may give people the idea, if such an idea is re quired afresh, that the best thing to do would be to drag a case till the age of forgiveness is reached.

This, of course, puts any criminal between the age of 18 and say , 66 right in the law's unforgiving sight. Unless, of course he uses the means to disappear till he is `fairly aged'. After which, no matter what the earlier crime committed, he should be granted geriatric amnesty . To begin with, all undertrials aged three score and more should be enlarged, without delay Let no one say the law benefits only a favoured few.


Ø  rigorous adjective (CAREFUL)

› approving careful to look at or consider every part of something to make certain it is correct or safe:

rigorous testing/checking/methods

rigorous adjective (SEVERE)

controlling behaviour in a severe way:

the rigorous controls governing the sale of shares


Ø  appellant

› LAW someone who appeals for a legal or official decision to be changed:

The jury acquitted the appellants on the conspiracy as it was originally charged.


Ø  ingrained adjective (BELIEFS)

› (of beliefs) so firmly held that they are not likely to change:

Such ingrained prejudices cannot be corrected easily.

The belief that you should own your house is deeply ingrained in our society.


Ø  contemplate

> to spend time considering a possible future action, or to consider one particular thing for a long time in a serious and quiet way:

[+ -ing verb] I'm contemplating going abroad for a year.

They were contemplating a move to California.


Ø  afresh

› If you do something afresh, you deal with it again in a new way:

She tore up the letter and started afresh.


Ø  geriatric

› for or relating to old people:

a geriatric hospital/ward/nurse

› UK informal disapproving old and weak:

Who's going to elect a geriatric President?


Ø  amnesty

› a decision by a government that allows political prisoners to go free:

Most political prisoners were freed under the terms of the amnesty.

› a fixed period of time during which people are not punished for committing a particular crime:

People who hand in illegal weapons will not be prosecuted during the amnesty.

The government refused to declare an amnesty for people who had not paid the disputed tax.



The Guardian

view on Muslims in the west: marginalised by mistrust

the book was in the college library, and a student enrolled for the very subject that it covered was spotted picking it up. The scene might not be so common as it was in the pre-Google era, but nor is it – one would hope – so rare as to prompt a college official to instigate a worried conversation, and then call for security. Indeed, the fact that this happened at Staffordshire University makes no sense at all until you know that the course was terrorism and security, the book title Terrorism Studies, and the student's name Mohammed Umar Farooq.

Mr Farooq's story comes to light within days of two tales about Muslim 14-year-olds, on both sides of the Atlantic. In Irving, Texas, young Ahmed Mohamed ended up in handcuffs after his homemade clock was presumed to be a bomb. Meanwhile, a young British Muslim, at Central Foundation Boys' School, north London, was questioned about Islamic State for having referred to "L'ecoterrorisme" while discussing environmental activism in a French lesson.

Spin these three yarns together, and you get a sense of why many Muslims feel they are treated differently. Jihadi terrorism is a real but very rare phenomenon in the west. The suspicion it engenders, however, is more routine. That creates two dangers – the alienation of Muslim citizens, and then, as a consequence, the failure of a multicultural society to knit together. Where any part of the population feels walled off from the rest by mistrust, hostile ideas will be encouraged on one side of the divide, while ignorance sets in on the other. That ignorance is bad in itself, but it also hobbles those tasked with preventing terrorist acts. It is therefore not only liberals and multiculturalists but also smart security services that should worry about the state being too heavy-handed.

For as long as a distinct jihadi threat remains, the sad truth that is public policy will struggle to eradicate all anti-Muslim prejudice. But it can, at the very least, recognise the danger and try to prevent discrimination. It can and should prevent the whims of suspicious minds from aggregating into systematic differences in treatment. It ought to be possible. Britain has more than half a century of pertinent and broadly successful experience to draw on, since the passage of the Race Relations Act, and much of the necessary legislation is already on the statute books. But the don'ts are just as important as the dos, which is where things are going awry. Counter-terror initiatives must never be allowed to warp into social engineering; instead, they must build the broadest support by working to the narrowest of definitions. The first Cameron government, however, imposed a "new duty to prevent" support for terrorism on public services, from schools to hospitals, that would not ordinarily regard security as part of their work; and the second is moving towards enshrining a new definition of "extremism" which does not require any connection with, or even support for, violence.

David Cameron has talked about ditching "the passive tolerance of recent years", and moving towards a "much more active, muscular liberalism", which makes for good headlines, but could also trigger the systematic suspicion that's so unhelpful. The mooted definition of extremism is opposition to "fundamental British values", which only patriotically fundamentalist historians would pretend this country has always measured up to. "Mutual respect and tolerance", for example, is listed as one such value, and reactionary attitudes towards homosexuality are increasingly held to be a warning sign in schools. But only a dozen years have passed since parliament scrapped its own sexual Jim Crow law, section 28, in a division in which Mr Cameron abstained; not 30 months have passed since the education secretary, Nicky Morgan, voted against gay marriage. And even if these much-vaunted values were more than humbug, at a time when 45% of Scots, and over 90% of Scottish MPs, are committed to dis-inventing Britain, the whole idea of "British" values is now contested.

The need is for a different language that talks to diverse society – a language that can condemn the vicious nihilism of Isis without lapsing into the sort of nationalism that could sound like chauvinism in disaffected Muslim communities; a language that allows the state to balance the objective of a happily integrated society with its duty to defend itself. That language exists: it is the language of international human rights. It is high time the government began speaking it, instead of seeking to undermine it.


Ø  instigate

› to cause an event or situation to happen by making a set of actions or a formal process begin:

The government will instigate new measures to combat terrorism.

The revolt in the north is believed to have been instigated by a high-ranking general


Ø  engender

› to make people have a particular feeling or make a situation start to exist:

Her latest book has engendered a lot of controversy.


Ø  suspicion noun (FEELING)

a belief or idea that something may be true:

[+ that] I have a suspicion that he only asked me out because my brother persuaded him to.


Ø  knit verb (MAKE CLOTHES)

> (present participle knitting, past tense knitted or knit, past participle knitted or knit) to make clothes, etc. by using two long needles to connect wool or another type of thread into joined rows:

She's forever knitting.

She's busy knitting baby clothes.


Ø  hobble verb (WALK)

› [I usually + adv/prep] to walk in an awkward way, usually because the feet or legs are injured:

The last time I saw Rachel she was hobbling around with a stick.

Some of the runners could only manage to hobble over the finishing line.

hobble verb (LIMIT)

› [T] to limit something or control the freedom of someone:

A long list of amendments have hobbled the new legislation.

› [T] literary If you hobble an animal, especially a horse, you tie two of its legs together so that it cannot run away.


Ø  whim

>a sudden wish or idea, especially one that cannot be reasonably explained:

We booked the trip on a whim.

You can add what you want to this mixture - brandy, whisky, or nothing at all - as the whim takes you.


Ø  awry

› not in the intended way:

Anything that goes awry (= goes wrong) in the office is blamed on Pete.

The strike has sent the plans for investment seriously awry.

› in the wrong position:

She rushed in, her face red and sweaty and her hat awry.


Ø  warp verb (BEND)

› If wood warps, or if water or heat warps it, it becomes damaged by bending or twisting:

After being left in the damp garage, the wooden frame had warped.

The heat had warped the boards.

warp verb (STRANGE)

› [T] to make a person or their behaviour strange, in an unpleasant or harmful way:

Prison warps people. Had it warped Kelley enough that he would kill a stranger?


Ø  enshrine

› to contain or keep something as if in a holy place:

Almost two and a half million war dead are enshrined at Yasukuni.

A lot of memories are enshrined in this photograph album.

be enshrined in sth

› If a political or social right is enshrined in something, it is protected by being included in it:

The right of freedom of speech is enshrined in law/in the constitution.


Ø  moot

› to suggest something for discussion:

The idea was first mooted as long ago as the 1840s.

His name was mooted as a possible successor.


Ø  extremist

>someone who has beliefs that most people think are unreasonable and unacceptable:

a group of extremists (= people with extreme opinions)


Ø  vaunted

praised often in a way that is considered to be more than acceptable or reasonable:

His (much) vaunted new plan has been shown to have serious weaknesses.


Ø  humbug noun (DISHONESTY)

dishonest talk, writing, or behaviour that is intended to deceive people:

the usual political humbug

humbug noun (SWEET)

› a hard sweet, usually with a mint taste and strips of two different colours on the outside:

mint humbugs


Ø  condemn

> to criticize something or someone strongly, usually for moral reasons:

The terrorist action has been condemned as an act of barbarism and cowardice.


Ø  nihilism

› a belief that all political and religious organizations are bad, or a system of thought that says that there are no principles or beliefs that have any meaning or can be true


Ø  Viscious people or actions show an intention or wish to hurt someone or something very badly:

a vicious thug

a vicious dog


Ø  chauvinism

› the strong and unreasonable belief that your own country or race is the best or most important:

The war stimulated an intense national chauvinism.


Ø  undermine

>to make someone less confident, less powerful, or less likely to succeed, or to make something weaker, often gradually:

The president has accused two cabinet members of working secretly to undermine his position/him.



Moscow Times

Putin at the UN: Sorting Optimism From Reality (Op-Ed)

President Vladimir Putin's speech before the UN General Assembly this coming Monday has every chance of becoming the main Russian foreign policy event of the year. Putin's fourth appearance at that distinguished podium — especially after an absence of 10 years — is bound to draw a great deal of attention.

Putin will most likely focus on his favorite topics: the importance of combating international terrorism and extremism, the need to respect national sovereignty and the immorality of "double standards," sanctions and pressure politics in international relations. He will probably link these topics to the crisis in the Middle East while trying to avoid focusing attention on Ukraine and the confrontation between Russia and the West that resulted from the annexation of Crimea.

On the one hand, it seems the Russian president has a good chance to put forward a positive agenda for the Middle East and strengthen Russia's role in it, and on the other hand, to divert international attention from what appears to be an endlessly smoldering conflict in Ukraine.

Those chances are growing as Europe and the U.S. become increasingly hysterical about Russia's actions in Syria: most recent publications compare the situation with Moscow's initial moves in Ukraine and accuse Russia of creating yet another hotbed of instability.

In my opinion, the two conflicts are fundamentally different. In the first, Russia acted as an aggressor against the legitimate government of a neighboring country. In the second, it offers assistance to a legitimate government.

In the first, Russia contributed to a separatist movement in the Donbass. In the second, it is trying to ensure Syria's territorial integrity. And finally, in the first Russia has done little to achieve reconciliation, whereas in the second Moscow fulfilled its 2013 agreement to help destroy Syria's chemical weapons. Therefore, the West is making a mistake if it does not listen to Putin.

Putin is likely to propose the creation of an international coalition to combat the Islamic State and a compromise concerning the status of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Washington has serious rational and emotional reasons to reject those proposals.

However, the "larger game" in the Middle East is so complicated that Washington's straightforward methods are probably not capable of resolving it. A coalition might prove the only realistic means for combating the Islamists inasmuch as the U.S.-trained Iraqi regular army and the anti-government rebels in Syria cannot put up any serious resistance to the Islamic State.

The task facing the West is not to simply reject Putin's proposals out of hand, but to draw a distinction between cooperation in the fight against terror and Russia's full return to global politics.

It seems that Moscow is using the situation in Syria to draw attention to the problems it considers most significant and as a tool to remind the West — and primarily the U.S. — that unilateral solutions are not always effective.

It is unlikely that Russia is planning to launch a new Afghanistan-style military campaign in Syria as some observers have suggested. If Putin's initiative to create an international coalition does not find support, Russia will not stand behind Assad "to the bitter end" and devote significant resources and military forces to defending his regime.

Therefore, despite Russia's seemingly advantageous position in the discussion taking shape at the UN, the West has no need to agree with Putin's proposals. In the days and weeks ahead, each decision made in this area will be based on the situation at the given moment and will not reflect some larger strategy.

That is why I am convinced that Putin's upcoming speech before the UN General Assembly will not so much resolve long-standing problems as it will invite the West to renew its dialogue with Russia in one particular area. At best, it will serve as the starting point for extended negotiations, but Putin's major talking points will not become a guide to action.

Any rash reactions to the speech — in whatever form it might take — risk missing the mark and leading to a dead end. After all, Putin firmly believes that only a weak opponent expresses a willingness to hold talks and reach a compromise. That is exactly how he interprets Washington's changing position on Syria. But isn't his own openness to dialogue an acknowledgement of the changed geopolitical position in which Russia now finds itself?



Ø  podium

› a raised area on which a person stands to speak to a large number of people, to conduct music, or to receive a prize in a sports competition:

Tears ran down her face as she stood on the winner's podium.


Ø  sovereignty

› the power of a country to control its own government:

Talks are being held about who should have sovereignty over the island.

Ø  immoral

> morally wrong, or outside society's standards of acceptable, honest, and moral behaviour:

an immoral act


Ø  annex

› to take possession of an area of land or a country, usually by force or without permission:

The UK annexed this small island west of Scotland in 1955.


Ø  smoulder verb [I] (BURN)

› to burn slowly with smoke but without flames:

a smouldering fire

smouldering embers

The fire was started by a smouldering cigarette.

Ø  smoulder verb [I] (PROBLEM)

› If a problem or unpleasant situation smoulders, it continues to exist and may become worse at any time:

The dispute is still smouldering, five years after the negotiations began.


Ø  hysterical

> unable to control your feelings or behaviour because you are extremely frightened, angry, excited, etc.:

Calm down, you're getting hysterical.

The police were accused of hysterical over-reaction.

hysterical laughter (= uncontrolled laughter)

› informal extremely funny:

His last film was hysterical.


Ø  a hotbed of sth

› a place or situation where a lot of a particular activity, especially an unwanted or unpleasant activity, is happening or might happen:

The police department was a hotbed of corruption.

In the 60s the city was a hotbed of crime.


Ø  aggressor

› a person or country that starts an argument, fight, or war by attacking first


Ø  reconciliation

>a situation in which two people or groups of people become friendly again after they have argued:

It took hours of negotiations to bring about a reconciliation between the two sides.

› [U] the process of making two opposite beliefs, ideas, or situations agree


Ø  put up

› to stay somewhere for the night:

We put up at a small hotel for the night.


Ø  resistance

>the act of fighting against something that is attacking you, or refusing to accept something:

Ø  resistance to disease

Government troops offered no resistance (to the rebels).

There's a lot of resistance (= opposition) to the idea of a united Europe.

› a force that acts to stop the progress of something or make it slower:

The car's speed was reduced by air/wind resistance.

› specialized physics the degree to which a substance prevents the flow of an electric current through it:


Ø  to the bitter end

> until something is finished


Ø  rash noun (SKIN CONDITION)

> a lot of small red spots on the skin:

I've got an itchy rash all over my chest.

If you stay in the sun too long you'll get (a) heat rash.

He came out/up in a rash after he fell in a patch of nettles.

rash noun (LARGE NUMBER)

Ø  a rash of sth

› a large number of unpleasant events of the same type:

There has been a rash of robberies/accidents/complaints in the last two months.


Ø  acknowledgement


› a letter or email to say that you have received something that someone sent to you:

I applied for five jobs, but only got three acknowledgements.


NewYork Times

Let Refugees Fly to Europe

OXFORD, England — There are no easy solutions to Europe's refugee crisis. In a world of fragile states and increasing mobility people will continue to come, irrespective of whether they neatly fit the legal definition of a "refugee." Europe needs a clear strategy on who it wants to protect, and where and how to assess people's asylum claims.

The European Union's agreement earlier this week centered on a quota system to relocate 120,000 Syrian, Iraqi and Eritrean refugees across member states — most likely from transit centers in Greece and Italy. The plan has several flaws: It was passed without political consensus, it has no mechanism to ensure that people remain in the countries assigned to take them, and it does not say how those denied asylum will be treated.

The biggest problem, though, is that the plan does nothing to stop people from embarking on perilous journeys to Europe. In order to claim asylum under this plan, refugees would still have to arrive in Europe through clandestine means. This has been the direct cause of tragedy and chaos, with people dying on Europe's roads and drowning at sea. The greatest strain has been at key border areas from Hungary to the Greek islands.

The way to avoid this would be to provide an alternative, legal means for asylum seekers to travel to Europe through "humanitarian visas." Small consular outposts could be created outside the European Union, in places like Bodrum in Turkey or Zuwara in Libya. As migratory routes change over time these posts could be relocated. At these transit points people could be quickly screened and those with a plausible asylum claim would be allowed access to Europe. They could then simply fly to Europe or take a scheduled ferry at their own expense

At the moment, Syrians are paying over 1,000 euros for a short but dangerous crossing from the Turkish coast to Greek islands like Lesbos or Kos, some being rescued by the Greek coast guard. The cost in lives and in resources for the already-stretched Greek state is high. In contrast, a nonstop flight from Bodrum to Frankfurt costs 200 euros.

Humanitarian visas would also undercut the smuggling markets. Since the start of the crisis, Europe has declared a "war on smugglers," even proposing to use military force against them. However, like the "war on drugs," such policies are doomed if they only offer supply-side solutions but do nothing to remove the underlying demand of vulnerable people. Enabling refugees to access legal travel routes would immediately reduce the smuggling problem.

There are several ways this policy could be implemented. It could be adopted throughout the European Union, and connected to the Europe-wide quota system. The union could establish outposts at which plausible asylum seekers are identified, in some cases purely on the basis of nationality. They could then quickly receive a travel document, perhaps linked to a "temporary protection status" in a designated member state. The right to remain could last until they are able to return home or regularize their immigration status in the new host country.

Even if an E.U. agreement could not be reached, there are other options. Visas could be offered unilaterally by countries that have agreed to accept refugees. Indeed, Brazil has already done this by announcing its willingness to provide humanitarian visas, so far taking over 2,000 Syrian refugees through the scheme, all of whom were recognized as refugees upon arrival. Germany and Sweden, which have pledged to take an even greater number, could do the same, and provide screening and visas at strategically located consular outposts.

The idea of refugee travel documents has an historical precedent: the Nansen Passports used by the League of Nations. Following World War I, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the consequences of the Russian Revolution made hundreds of thousands of people stateless and brought refugees to Europe's borders.

In 1922 the first High Commissioner for Refugees of the League of Nations, Fridjtof Nansen, convened a conference in Geneva at which a group of countries agreed to recognize Nansen passports as legitimate refugee travel documents. Between 1922 and 1942, the scheme was recognized by over 50 countries and enabled 450,000 people, including Assyrian, Armenian and Turkish refugees, safe passage to Europe. In recognition of its work the Nansen International Refugee Office received the Nobel Peace Prize.

There are challenges to issuing refugee travel documents today, but they are surmountable. Governments will understandably worry that allowing legal entry is likely to lead to a "pull factor" and increase the demand to move to Europe. This risk can be addressed in several ways.First, establishing consular points near Europe's external border would cater mainly to people who are already almost in the European Union and about to risk a dangerous boat journey. Second, visas would only be given to likely refugees, to whom we already have an internationally recognized legal obligation. Third, while it is possible that more Syrian refugees would choose to seek admission to Europe rather than remain in neighboring countries, a slight increase in numbers is a worthwhile price to pay if it saves lives, cuts costs, alleviates pressure at Europe's borders and drastically curtails the human-smuggling market.

Humanitarian visas would not be a panacea and they would not completely remove irregular immigration to Europe. However, even if they were only granted to Syrians, that would address the immediate challenge for more than 70 percent of the people arriving on the Greek islands.

Powerful images of people walking long distances across train lines and motorways have created a widespread sense of crisis in Europe. But much of this tragedy and chaos is avoidable. Simple policy decisions by countries that have agreed to accept large numbers of refugees could halt the mass exodus. In the age of the budget airline and modern consular screening capabilities, such perilous journeys are not necessary.



> easily damaged, broken, or harmed:

Be careful with that vase - it's very fragile.

The assassination could do serious damage to the fragile peace agreement that was signed last month.


Ø  mobility noun (ABILITY TO MOVE)

› the ability to move freely or be easily moved:

Some neck injuries cause total loss of mobility below the point of injury.

I prefer the mobility of a hand-held camera.


Ø  asylum noun (PROTECTION)

protection or safety, especially that given by a government to people who have been forced to leave their own countries for their safety or because of war:

to seek/apply for political asylum

asylum noun (HOSPITAL)

› old use a hospital for people with mental illnesses:

a lunatic asylum


Ø  embark

› to go onto a ship:

We embarked at Liverpool for New York.


Ø  perilous

extremely dangerous:

The country roads are quite perilous.


Ø  clandestine

planned or done in secret, especially describing something that is not officially allowed:

The group held weekly clandestine meetings in a church.

He has been having a clandestine affair with his secretary for three years.


Ø  means noun (METHOD)

>a method or way of doing something:

They had no means of communication.

We need to find some other means of transportation.

We need to use every means at our disposal.


Ø  plausible

> seeming likely to be true, or able to be believed:

a plausible explanation/excuse

› disapproving A plausible person appears to be honest and telling the truth, even if they are not:

a plausible salesman



Ø  ferry

> a boat or ship for taking passengers and often vehicles across an area of water, especially as a regular service:

a car ferry


Ø  doomed

certain to fail, die, or be destroyed:

This is a doomed city.


Ø  vulnerable

>able to be easily physically, emotionally, or mentally hurt, influenced, or attacked:

I felt very vulnerable, standing there without any clothes on.


Ø  precedent

>] an action, situation, or decision that has already happened and can be used as a reason why a similar action or decision should be performed or made:

There are several precedents for promoting people who don't have formal qualifications.


Ø  convene

› to bring together a group of people for a meeting, or to meet for a meeting:

The prime minister convened (a meeting of) his cabinet to discuss the matter.


Ø  surmount verb [T] (DEAL WITH)

› to deal successfully with a difficulty or problem:

They managed to surmount all opposition/objections to their plans.

There are still a few technical problems/obstacles/hurdles to be surmounted before the product can be put on sale to the public.


Ø  alleviate

› to make something bad such as pain or problems less severe:

The drugs did nothing to alleviate her pain/suffering.


Ø  panacea

› something that will solve all problems:

Technology is not a panacea for all our problems.

› something that will cure all illnesses


Ø  immigration

> the act of someone coming to live in a different country:

There are strict limits on immigration (into the country).

>the process of examining your passport and other documents to make certain that you can be allowed to enter the country, or the place where this is done:

After you've been through immigration (control), you can go and get your luggage.

immigration policy


Ø  halt

› to (cause to) stop moving or doing something or happening:

"Halt!" called the guard. "You can't go any further without a permit."

Production has halted at all of the company's factories because of the pay dispute.


Ø  exodus

› the movement of a lot of people from a place:

There has been a mass exodus of workers from the villages to the towns.