voa daily reading

voa daily reading







North Korea Reportedly Rebuilding Structures at Rocket Launch Area

North Korea reportedly has rebuilt structures at a rocket launch site that it had begun to take down last year.

That information comes from foreign observers and a South Korean lawmaker who spoke with the South’s spy service.

North Korea had promised to destroy the Tongchang-ri launch site after the June 2018 meetings between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Two Washington-based groups that follow North Korea say some structures at the launch site have been rebuilt in the past three weeks. The two are the Center for Strategic and International Studies and 38 North, a website specializing in North Korea studies. They say satellite images show the structures were rebuilt over the past month.

Also, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that South Korea’s National Intelligence Service told lawmakers on Tuesday about the rebuilding.

Recently, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano reported that North Korea’s Yongbyon uranium enrichment site is still active. He added that North Korea is continuing work on an experimental light-water reactor at Yongbyon.

On Tuesday, a top U.S. official said the United States would look at increasing sanctions against North Korea if Kim did not end his country’s nuclear weapons program.

“If they’re not willing to do it…we’ll look at (increasing) those sanctions up, in fact,” said National Security Advisor John Bolton.

North Korea’s nuclear sites

Last month, the U.S. president and North Korean leader traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam, for more talks. Those meetings collapsed when Trump left the negotiations. He said Kim demanded all sanctions on North Korea end at once in exchange for closing down the Yongbyon nuclear facility. The North Korean government denied making that request.

David Albright is the president of the Institute for Science and International Security and a former nuclear weapons inspector. He said Trump ended the negotiations because the United States knows North Korea can make nuclear weapons at other sites in its country.

“They have enough enrichment facilities outside Yongbyon to make (weapons),” he said.

Jeffrey Lewis is the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California. “The U.S. government believes there are at least two additional enrichment (facilities),” he said.

Olli Heinonen is a former deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He said that North Korea’s enrichment centers are easy to hide because of the kind of technology they use.

Experts agree that North Korea must declare all its nuclear sites and let inspectors into the country to confirm the destruction of the sites.

North Korea launches

Six months ago, South Korean President Moon Jae-in traveled to Pyongyang to meet with the North Korean leader. At those talks, Kim offered to “permanently shut down” the Tongchang-ri engine test ground and launch area, with foreign observers present.

In a statement, the two men described the move as part of a larger effort to make the Korean peninsula free from nuclear weapons. This could suggest that North Korea was confirming the Tongchang-ri site is a nuclear-related center. After several failures, North Korea successfully launched a satellite from the site in 2012. It had another successful launch in 2016.

North Korea says its satellite program is peaceful. Experts say, however, that nuclear missiles and satellite rockets use similar technology.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has ordered his government to do everything in its power to get the North Korean and U.S. leaders talking again.

“I expect that the two leaders will meet again in the near future,” Moon said, adding that he thinks the two will come to an agreement at their next meeting.

I’m Susan Shand.

The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted the AP reports for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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


Words in This Story

site – n. the place where something is, was, or will be

facility – n. something (such as a building or large piece of equipment) that is built for a purpose or reason

sanctions – n. an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, or by barring economic aid for that country

enrich – v. to improve the quality of something


Electric Cars Get Creative Sounds to Replace Engine Noise

The world’s top automakers are increasingly offering more electric vehicle models, as they steadily back away from gasoline engines. This growth is expected to continue, with more people choosing to hit the road with clean-running electric-powered cars.

Environmentalists have praised the automakers for taking major steps to limit harmful pollutants linked to worldwide climate change.

But electric vehicles are also known for not producing another kind of pollution – noise. They run on batteries instead of fuel, and can operate in silence.

While many people might consider this a good thing, quiet cars can also cause problems. The main danger is that people walking in areas around electric vehicles face a greater risk of being hit if they cannot hear the cars coming.

Governments in the United States and Europe have recognized this problem. So, they have set requirements for manufacturers to add warning sounds to vehicles operating on electricity.

The U.S. Department of Transportation finalized its rules a year ago. The rules require electric and hybrid vehicles to be equipped with some kind of warning sound when moving at speeds up to 30 kilometers per hour. The rules are aimed at preventing injuries among people walking or riding bicycles and to protect the blind.

So what kinds of sounds can we expect to hear from the next generation of electric vehicles? While the development of such sounds is ongoing, some manufacturers have released examples of their car noise creations.

That sound, released last year, was created for Jaguar’s electric I-Pace vehicle.

Of course, one of the easiest solutions would be for carmakers to simply reproduce the sound a car would make if it actually did run on fuel. But many industry officials believe this would be a mistake. They say this would not support the electric vehicle’s true identity. It would also limit great possibilities to link the car’s sound to a whole new image, which could help increase sales.

Representatives from some major automakers spoke about the issue this week ahead of the Geneva International Motor Show in Switzerland.

Frank Welsch is head of technical development at Germany’s Volkswagen. He told Reuters that finding the perfect sound mix is not an easy process.

“The electric vehicle sound is its identity,” he said. “It cannot be too intrusive or annoying. It has to be futuristic and it cannot sound like anything we had in the past.”

Welsch said Volkswagen’s electric cars will have special speakers designed to get attention. The company is developing different sounds to correctly fit the size, make and overall image of each model, he added. For example, he said high-performance models and larger vehicles would have more bass added to their sound.

An official from German competitor Mercedes-Benz said the company had developed a noise for its new EQC model. The official said the sound was designed to provide a safe warning without annoying passengers inside the vehicle. Developer Jochen Hermann said the goal was to create a car that remains completely quiet on the inside, but fills the sound requirements and supports the model’s image on the outside.

It might seem strange to think that part of our automotive future is currently being developed in the same kinds of recording studios used by musicians. But that is exactly what is happening.

Listen to the sound Nissan created in 2017 in an attempt to make one of its future electric models “sing.”

Mercedes-AMG offers its buyers high-performance vehicles that combine modern design with speed and power. The head of Mercedes-AMG, Tobias Moers, told Reuters that the company decided musical influences could help define how its future electric cars are heard. He said AMG is currently working with the American rock band Linkin Park to find exactly the right artificial sound.

A representative from BMW Group said the sound is being developed for one of its vehicles, a new electric Mini. Esther Bahne, Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at BMW’s Mini, said sound is something that will greatly shape the car’s identity.

Michael Pfadenhauer is head of sound development for German sports carmaker Porsche. He told the company’s official magazine that finding the right sound for a sports car can be very tricky. “There is no e-sound. It has to be invented,” he said.

Pfadenhauer added that different sounds will be needed at low and high speeds to help drivers “experience the potential” of high-performance electric sports cars.

American manufacturer Harley-Davidson recently launched its first fully electric motorcycle, called LiveWire. The company is known for building large, powerful bikes with huge, loud motors. Here is what Harley’s sound development team created for its electric model.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from Reuters and online sources. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

We want to hear from you. What do you think of these artificial sounds created for electric vehicles. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

hit the road phrase: to leave a place or begin a trip

battery n. object that provides and stores electricity for things

hybrid n. vehicle that can run on either gasoline or electricity

intrusive adj. causing disruption or annoyance by being unwelcome or uninvited

annoying adj. causing irritation or annoyance

bass n. sound producing the lowest tones

artificial adj. not natural, but made by people

potential n. qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to something better in the future


China’s Huawei to Test US Security Law in Court

Chinese technology business Huawei is taking the United States to court.

Huawei wants a U.S. federal court to rule on a law that identifies the company as a security risk. It also claims the measure would limit the company’s ability to sell its products in the United States.

Huawei Technologies Ltd. announced the legal action on Thursday. The case asks the court to reject as unconstitutional part of the legislation setting military spending levels. The measure bars the U.S. government and businesses working for the government from using Huawei equipment.

Huawei is the world’s largest maker of telecommunications technology. The company is fighting to keep its worldwide market share as phone carriers prepare to release the next generation of technology, called 5G. The U.S. government has urged America’s allies not to use Huawei equipment.

Huawei’s argument against the law

The lawsuit was filed in Plano, Texas, where Huawei has its U.S. headquarters. The company’s complaint argues that the law violates the U.S. Constitution. Huawei says the law punishes the company for unproven accusations, and would harm its future earnings.

Relations between the United States and China have been tense over technology competition and use of computers to gather information. Huawei has argued for years that it is not involved in Chinese spying. It also argues that the Chinese Communist Party has no control over the company.

“We [were forced] to take this legal action,” the company’s chairman, Guo Ping, said at a press conference. Guo said the ban would limit competition and lead to higher prices for telecom services. He also said it would delay the release of 5G communications.

In January, Huawei has said in court it is not guilty of U.S. trade-theft charges. The court statement came after a federal court in Seattle, Washington, announced charges against two of the company’s businesses in January.

Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada on December 1, 2018. The U.S. government has charged her with lying to banks about doing business with Iran. U.S. officials have asked Canada to send her to the United States for trial.

On December 10, China arrested two Canadians, a former diplomat and a businessman, in what many observers think is an attempt to get Canada to release Meng.

Huawei denies accusations

On Thursday, a Chinese foreign ministry official said China also objects to the U.S. law. He did not know if the government would join Huawei’s lawsuit. He added that Huawei has the right to defend its business through the legal system.

Huawei has about 40 percent of the international market for telecom equipment. But it sells very little in the United States after Congress said the company was a security risk in 2012. Congress told American businesses to avoid Huawei products.

Huawei says the new law would make it illegal for anyone working for the U.S. government to buy the company’s products. It would also ban any company in the world that uses Huawei products from working with the U.S. government.

The United States makes up 20 to 25 percent of the worldwide market for computer and telecom technology. Huawei says the law would shrink its market share.

The ban is “based on numerous false, unproven and untested” accusations, the company’s chief legal officer, Song Liuping, told reporters. He also said there is no “evidence” against Huawei.

Australia, Japan, Taiwan and some other governments also have set limits on using Huawei technology.

Huawei wants to negotiate with U.S. officials about their security concerns, but the law bars President Donald Trump from agreeing to negotiations, Guo said. He noted Trump has said he is against the ban of Huawei products.

Industry experts say banning Huawei from markets for 5G equipment could reduce competition. It might also cause higher prices.

Huawei says it supplies 45 of the world’s top 50 telecom companies. It also has agreements with 30 other companies to test 5G technology, it says.

Chinese officials and some industry experts say the U.S. government might be overstating security concerns to limit competition with Western telecom companies.

European governments are refusing to accept the U.S. requests to ban Huawei. The company has also announced deals with telecom companies in the Middle East.

I’m Susan Shand.

The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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


Words in This Story

theft – n. the act of stealing

file v. to provide documents needed to launch a case or lawsuit

complaint – n. an official claim or accusation against someone or something


Waahh or Wee-oww? That Is the Question

Anyone who goes to New York City knows it can be very noisy. One of the common sounds you hear on the streets is a siren: a loud, high noise that comes from police cars, fire trucks, or ambulances. It sounds like “Waaaaaahhhhhhh.” People living in New York City often call city officials to complain the noise wakes them up and makes dogs cry out loudly.

Now, two city lawmakers want to change the sound so it is the same as sirens in Europe. Sirens there make a sound that goes from high to low, as in “WEE-oww-WEE-oww.” If the lawmakers’ proposal passes, all sirens on emergency vehicles in New York City would have to change within two years.

What do people say about the European siren?

Some think the European siren is gentler and causes less noise pollution. Helen Rosenthal is one of the supporters of the proposal. She says the people she represents tell her that “the current sirens in New York are a high-pitched, continuous noise — a nuisance.”

The sounds of European and American sirens are at the same decibel level, or loudness. But the European siren is at a lower frequency, so it would not seem as painful to a person’s ears. Carlina Rivera is another lawmaker supporting the new law. She says the European sirens are “not as piercing.”

One hospital has already changed its sirens. Mount Sinai Health System started using the high-low siren last year. The Mount Sinai Emergency Medical Service Director, Joseph Davis, played different siren options to find out which one the neighbors of the hospital liked better. He found that “people hated them all.” However, he said, the high-low siren was not as offensive.

Davis says changing the siren sound in an emergency vehicle is easy. An electronic box in each vehicle has seven different sounds. For example, one can make the sirens give a loud, long cry. Another can make a series of short, high cries, like a dog that is in pain. And another can make a sound so sharp and forceful that it seems to be making a hole in the air. Davis explains that workers could add the European siren to these choices.

Some don’t think change is a good idea. Linda Sachs lives near the Mount Sinai Hospital and hears the new high-low sirens. She likes the old ones better. The old ones never woke her up, she says, but the new ones make her shake in fear.

I’m Jill Robbins.

Verena Dobnik reported on this story for the Associated Press. Jill Robbins adapted this story for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

What kind of sirens do you hear where you live? How do they make you feel? Are they piercing or the high-low kind? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.


Words in This Story

siren– n. a piece of equipment that produces a loud, high-pitched warning sound

ambulance– n. a vehicle used for taking hurt or sick people to the hospital especially in emergencies

nuisance n. a person, thing, or situation that is annoying or that causes trouble or problems

decibeln. a unit for measuring how loud a sound is

frequencyn. the number of times that something (such as a sound wave or radio wave) is repeated in a period of time (such as a second)

piercing adj. very loud and high-pitched

UN, Others Mark International Women’s Day

Rights groups and government organizations around the world are recognizing International Women’s Day on Friday.

The day — March 8 — is a celebration of women’s social, economic, cultural and political successes in the world, as well as a call for gender equality.

It all began in 1908 in New York City. Thousands of female clothing workers went on strike and marched through the streets of the city. They were demanding better pay, shorter workdays and voting rights.

In 1910, a German woman named Clara Zetkin suggested the declaration of a Women’s Day at an international meeting attended by 100 women. The idea received support from everyone there.

Women’s Day was first celebrated in 1911 in Germany as well as Austria, Denmark and Switzerland. More than 1 million women and men attended demonstrations in support of a woman’s right to work, vote, study and hold public office.

The United Nations officially recognized International Women’s Day for the first time in 1975.

This year, the UN’s theme for the day is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change.” The UN aims to use the day to bring attention to “public services, safe spaces and technology to advance progress for women and girls.”

Violences and other dangers

There are also new efforts centered on ending gender-based violence during war and ethnic conflicts. Last month, Red Cross and Red Crescent and the UN began working together to end the use of rape as a weapon of war.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “Sexual and gender-based violence in conflict is not only a horrendous and life-changing crime…It is also used as a tactic of war, to terrorize families, dehumanize communities and destabilize societies.”

Also last month, Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio declared rape a national emergency in his country. He warned that anyone caught having sex with a minor could face up to life in prison.

He said, “These despicable crimes of sexual violence are being committed against our women, children and even babies.”

On Wednesday, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) released its report on the five most dangerous place in the world to be a girl. They are: Niger, Yemen, Bangladesh, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. The report considered data on child marriage, birth rates among very young women, literacy, rates of violence and child labor.

Nicole Behnam, director of IRC’s Violence Protection and Response office, said in a statement, “Until we achieve true gender equality, young girls will suffer the most. This is unacceptable and it’s why the IRC continues to advocate for changes that will improve the lives of girls everywhere.”

I’m Caty Weaver.

Ashley Thompson adapted this VOA News report for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

advance – v. to move forward

tactic – n. an action or method that is planned and used to achieve a particular goal

horrendous – adj. very bad or unpleasant

despicable – adj. very bad or unpleasant : deserving to be despised

destabilize – v. to cause (something, such as a government) to be unable to continue existing or working in the usual or desired way

advocate – v. to support or argue for (a cause, policy, etc.)


Bir cevap yazın

E-posta hesabınız yayımlanmayacak. Gerekli alanlar * ile işaretlenmişlerdir