News Mash-up: Political Trouble

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. step up / stɛp ʌp / (phrasal v.) – to increase the amount or intensity of something

    The police stepped up the security of the event because a lot of VIPs will attend.

  2. absurd / æbˈsɜrd / (adj.) – relating to something that doesn’t make sense; silly

    I don’t want to spend an absurd amount of money on something that I’ll never actually use.

  3. stranded / ˈstræn dɪd / (adj.) – being in a place or situation one can't leave or escape because of a problem

    The stranded students and teachers had to spend the night in the school. They couldn’t get out because all the roads are flooded.

  4. contest / kənˈtɛst / (v.) – to formally go against a statement or decision because a person or a group doesn’t agree with it

    The man contested the company’s decision to fire him because he believes that it’s against the labor code.

  5. hard labor / hard ˈleɪ bər / (n.) – tiring physical work given to criminals as punishment

    Your 30-hour community service is nothing compared to years of hard labor if you get jailed.


Read the text below.

EU agrees to step up sanctions on Belarus

The European Union agreed Nov. 15 to step up sanctions against Belarus, which denounced as “absurd” Western accusations that it was driving a migrant crisis that has left thousands of people stranded in freezing forests on its borders with the EU.

The Western bloc is seeking to stop what it says is a policy by Belarus to push migrants toward the borders in revenge for earlier sanctions over a crackdown on protests last year against veteran leader Alexander Lukashenko’s contested reelection. (Reuters)

US journalist jailed in Myanmar is freed

American journalist Danny Fenster, who spent nearly six months in jail in military-ruled Myanmar and was sentenced Nov. 13 to 11 years of hard labor, was freed Nov. 15.

Fenster was handed over to former U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson, who helped negotiate the release, and the two landed in Qatar.

Fenster is one of more than 100 journalists, media officials or publishers who have been detained since the military ousted the elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in February. (AP)

These articles were provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • The European Union agreed to step up sanctions against Belarus over accusations that it was driving a migrant crisis. Do you agree with the European Union’s decision? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • What else do you think the European Union should do to help the people stranded in the freezing forests along its borders (ex. ask help from international organizations like the U.N.)? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Fenster spent nearly six months in jail in military-ruled Myanmar and was sentenced to 11 years of hard labor until he was freed on Nov. 15. Do you think countries should come up with a policy to protect journalists sent to other countries? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Myanmar has already detained more than 100 journalists, media officials, and publishers since the military took over its government. Do you think the U.S. should stop sending journalists to Myanmar? Why or why not? Discuss.