It will soon be Easter, so here's an Easter-themed crossword for you or your students to do. You can download a PDF version (with solution) here, and access an alternative web-based version here, just in case the one below doesn't work.
BACKGROUND GP surgeries will begin offering out-of-hours appointments and consultations via Skype in a radical shakeup to be announced tomorrow. More than 1,000 surgeries will be told to offer evening and weekend appointments - aimed at those who cannot take time off work - as part of a £50m package to be unveiled by David Cameron. The new plans will see surgeries opened from 8am to 8pm in some areas, and consultations by email and Skype will become available. Full story >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Paul Thomas from the Daily Express shows a sick man (note the spots on his face) at home in bed wearing a dressing gown and pyjamas. He's looking at his laptop screen, where a receptionist is telling him (via Skype, we assume), "The doctor will Skype you now".
EXPLANATION To understand the joke, you have to know that the standard phrase (or cliché) used by receptionists in doctors' surgeries is "The doctor will see you now".
VOCABULARY To Skype (with a capital 'S') is to have a spoken conversation with (someone) over the Internet using the software application Skype, frequently also viewing by webcam. • My parents want to know when is a good time to Skype me. This is an example of a brand name which has become a verb. Other examples include Google, Hoover, and FedEx. Read this article for more examples.
Easter's around the corner and it's not just the big brands ready to cash in. As Hayley Platt reports a group of young Togolese entrepreneurs are on a mission to create Africa's own world class chocolate brand, using only local ingredients.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: It's painstaking work, but that doesn't worry these budding entrepreneurs in Togo. They're making chocolate for their own brand 'Chocotogo'. It's part of a scheme, backed by the EU, to help young people get into work. Pascaline Akakpo is one of 60 who travelled to Italy to learn the art. PASCALINE AKAKPO, ENTREPRENEUR: "I'm shelling the cocoa beans. You need to shell them to get to the nut inside. Before that they need to be roasted." REPORTER: Cocoa is Togo's second largest export after coffee, but chocolate isn't actually made in the country. That's something project organisers hope to change. ERIC AGBOKOU, COCOA PROJECT COORDINATOR: "We decided to produce our own cocoa paste at the quantity we want. Our pastes are 100 percent organic, with no chemical additives. It's a very healthy product." REPORTER: Chocotogo may not be able to compete with the big brands yet, but they have showcased their chocolate to international buyers. And they are a good example of a new approach in Africa. Instead of western firms profiting from Africa's natural resources, local ones are trying to cash in, helping combat unemployment and poverty at the same time.
PRONUNCIATION Cocoa is pronounced 'coco' /ˈkoʊ.koʊ/. The word 'cocoa' is an anglicized version of 'cacao' /kəˈkaʊ/.
PHRASAL VERB To cash in (on something) means to take advantage of or exploit (a situation). • The breweries are cashing in on the rediscovered taste for real ales.
BACKGROUND Global greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade were the "highest in human history", according to the world's leading scientific body for the assessment of climate change. Without further action, temperatures will increase by about 4 to 5C, compared with pre-industrial levels, it warns, a level that could reap devastating effects on the planet.The stark findings are to be revealed in the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) today, the last in a trilogy written by hundreds of scientists on what is considered the definitive take on climate change. Full story >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Brian Adcock from The Independent shows the planet Earth as a cartoon character, sweating profusely and covered with bandages and plasters. The Earth says, "Maybe people will notice if I tweet a selfie."
COMMENTARY The sweat is a clear reference to global warming, and the message seems to be that these days people are more interested in posting and viewing selfies on Twitter than worrying about climate change.
VOCABULARY 1. A selfie is a photo that you take of yourself, usually for use in social media. “Selfie” was the Oxford English Dictionary's word of the year for 2013. 2. To tweet is to send a message using the microblogging and social networking service Twitter. • The "Wall Street Journal" says 44 percent of Twitter's almost one billion registered users have never Tweeted.
The dramatic saga of the Co-op continues to unfold as the Co-op Bank reports a £1.3 billion loss and apologises to customers - but says it can raise funds to help fill a hole in its finances. David Pollard reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: It's salt into the wounds of a once proud British institution. A day after its senior independent director announced his plan to resign from the Co-op Group, the Co-op Bank has reported a massive loss of 1.3 billion pounds. And has issued an apology - chief exec Niall Booker saying it appreciates that customers feel angry over past failings. Despite everything, it says it's still confident it can raise extra funds to secure its future - even if some investors see that as a hard sell. Jasper Lawler is Market Analyst at CMC Markets. JASPER LAWLER, MARKET ANALYST, CMC MARKETS: ''There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Co-op at the moment ... It all speaks to sort of general negative sentiment from inside the Bank and so then as an outsider investing, you know, it definitely leaves a little trepidation.'' REPORTER: The Co-op group owns nearly a third of the bank - and has been brought to the edge by a 1.5 billion pound hole in the Bank's finances, the arrest of its chairman on drugs charges, and the resignation of its chief exec over - in his words - its ''ungovernable'' structure. Before announcing his intention to quit, independent director Lord Myners too, was trying to address the same issues - including the powers of the board. George Hay, European Financial Editor of Reuters Breakingviews. GEORGE HAY, EUROPEAN FINANCIAL EDITOR, REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS: ''The fact that he's resigned rather underscores the fact that the big problem with his, with what he was trying to do is that it required all the people on the board to vote for it, and surprisingly enough, they don't want to.'' REPORTER: Which could leave the group adrift - and investors looking to the hedge funds which control the Bank as the ones to force change. GEORGE HAY, EUROPEAN FINANCIAL EDITOR, REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS: ''This thing doesn't have shareholders who can say 'what the hell is going on?' And the members, one of Myners' key points was that the members don't have enough power to drive change. So it's really got to be the guys who've lent the one billion pound plus net debt to these guys, to the Co-op group.'' REPORTER: The final bill could be bigger. Last month the bank said it needed to raise a further 400 million pounds to cover the costs of past financial misconduct.
IDIOM A hard sell is a situation in which you have difficulty selling something or persuading someone to change their opinion about an idea. • We're trying to convince the public that the drug war is ineffective, but it's a very hard sell.
This giant rat could be the shape of things to come. Experts believe it is just part of a growing plague of mutant rodents who are gorging on discarded fast food and houshold waste. But there is virtually nothing they can do to stop them – because the super rats have become immune to poisons. Full story >>
VOCABULARY A plauge is an uncontrolled and usually harmful increase in the numbers of an animal or insects. • Parts of the city are in the grip of a plague of crickets.
BACKGROUND With just five months to go until Scotland goes to the polls in the referendum on independence, support for the Yes campaign has reportedly closed the gap on unionists and could have taken the lead “by July”. According to an authoritative new survey, 47 per cent of Scots are now in favour of breaking away from the UK – just six points behind those who would vote to remain. The huge cut in the No campaign’s lead, down from more than 24 points last year, comes after a series of gaffes from its cross-party leadership, the Sunday Times reported. Read more >>
THE CARTOON This cartoon by Adams from the Sunday Telegraph links the Scottish independence referendum and today's London Marathon. The cartoon is based on Aesop's fableThe Tortoise and the Hare. The story concerns a hare who ridicules a slow-moving tortoise and is challenged by the tortoise to a race. The hare soon leaves the tortoise behind and, confident of winning, takes a nap midway through the course. When the hare awakes however, he finds that his competitor, crawling slowly but steadily, has arrived before him. In Adams' version, the tortoise is SNP leader Alex Salmond, and the hare is UK Prime Minister David Cameron, wearing a Union Jack waistcoat and top hat (probably a reference to his membership of the elite Oxford University Bullingdon Club). Cameron wants Scotland to stay in the UK and is actively supporting the 'No' campaign.
COMMENT The message seems to be that the 'Yes' campaign is gaining momentum and could just win the referendum. Slow and steady wins the race, as we say in English.
A protest organized by France's far-left brings thousands to the streets of Paris to criticize President François Hollande's economic policies. Gavino Garay reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: Thousands of far-left opposition protesters take to the streets in Paris. They've had it with French President François Hollande's economic policies. They're likening him to his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy. Protester and Local politician Isabelle Bozzani is fed up. PROTESTER AND LOCAL POLITICIAN, ISABELLE BOZZANI: "Socialists are on the left, it's the left. But this is not a government of the left, it's a government of the right. It follows the same path as Sarkozy did, all the way. And actually I'd even say it's worse. Because with Sarko at least we knew, it's the right, we knew, we expected the worst." REPORTER: The protest, which includes French communists, say Hollande's government is increasing income inequality. Hollande had vowed to make an enemy of the world of finance during the economic crisis of 2012.
VOCABULARY If you liken a thing or person to another thing or person, you believe that the first thing or person is similar to, or like, the other thing or person. • Journalists have likened the fresh-faced ex-trader to the film star Tom Cruise.
COMMENT "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose", as they say in France.
David Cameron's commitment to the green agenda will come under the fiercest scrutiny yet this week when top climate-change experts will warn that only greater use of renewable energy – including windfarms – can prevent a global catastrophe. Full story >>
VOCABULARY To avert is to prevent something bad or harmful from happening. • Violence may have been averted with a greater police presence.
BACKGROUND The European Commission is stepping up its efforts to help Ukraine's interim government, following Ukraine's recent political agreement with the European Union and an outline agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on emergency funding. Under the IMF deal, struck on 27 March, if Ukraine carries out reforms, it could receive $14 billion-$18bn (€10.2bn-€13.1bn), although the agreement still needs the support of the IMF's board. The EU has promised to contribute €1.61bn to the package, €100m of which has already been approved and could be disbursed in late April. Read more >>
THE CARTOON In Chappatte's cartoon from the International New York Times, Ukraine is portrayed as a man dressed in old clothes wearing a fur hat and begging for help from a nameless EU official and IMF director Christine Lagarde. He's holding a sign which reads, "Bankrupt and threatened by Russia." The EU official comments, "I miss the Greek crisis."
COMMENTARY In response to the Greek government-debt crisis in May 2010, the Eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed on a €110 billion bailout loan for Greece. Due to a worsened recession and the fact that Greece had worked slower than expected to reform its economy, a second €130 billion bailout loan was agreed by Eurozone leaders in October 2011. Although the loans were (so far) much greater in the Greek crisis, the situation in Ukraine threatens to get a lot worse before it gets better, and there's an added geo-political dimension which was not present in the Greek crisis. This is why the EU official says he 'misses' the Greek crisis.
VOCABULARY A country or state that is bankrupt owes more money than it can ever pay back. • Years of mismanagement had left the region virtually bankrupt.
A Fabergé egg, once belonging to Alexander III, is on show for the first time in London after disappearing from public view over a hundred years ago. Jeanne Yurman reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: It's the furthest thing from a chocolate bunny or a marshmallow chick. This 20-million-U.S.- dollar Fabergé egg is from the Third Imperial Easter Egg collection, which was thought to be lost for over 100 years. Kieran McCarthy, Director of the London-based antiques dealer Wartski, says it resurfaced in the strangest way. KIERAN MCCARTHY, DIRECTOR (FABERGE SPECIALIST), WARTSKI: "Well it literally walked in thorough our front door. This is Wartski, and I was sat at my desk here and in walked a gentleman very very modestly attired, and incredibly nervous also, and he walked up to the desk, never said why he was here but he handed me a sheath of photographs. And in these photographs were pictures of the Third Imperial Easter Egg - the missing Fabergé treasure." REPORTER: The man had purchased the egg in the U.S. for $14,000 at a bric-a-brac market. Now owned by a private collector, it was first commissioned by Russian Emperor Alexander III as a gift in 1887 for his wife for Easter. The egg was last seen at a 1902 exhibition in St. Petersburg - one of 50 made by Fabergé for Russian royalty between the late 19th to early 20th centuries. People around the globe have called McCarthy wishing to fly in and see the oval gem in person. Better hurry up, he says. After its four-day showing this month, it may disappear for another hundred plus years.
Two new underwater signals have been detected in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370. The sounds, which could be from the black box of the plane, raise fresh hopes after a search for signals previously detected remained futile yesterday. Angus Houston, the Australian official leading the search, told a press conference in Perth that he believed that the wreckage could soon be found. Full story >>
VOCABULARY A black box is a piece of equipment in a plane used for recording details about a flight, especially to try to find out the cause of a problem or crash. • Searchers are "very confident" that signals detected in the hunt for missing flight MH370 are from the plane's black box.
NOTE In aviation, the flight recorders are sometimes called a "black box", although it is a bright orange or bright yellow container with reflective stripes to facilitate their being found after a crash. The "black box" contains 2 aviation recorders - the Flight Data Recorder (FDR), and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR). [Wikipedia]
BACKGROUND Momentum is building to raise the US minimum wage. Several states have already taken action -- Connecticut has boosted it to $10.10 by 2017, the Maryland legislature just approved a similar measure, Minnesota lawmakers just reached a deal to hike it to $9.50. A few cities have been more ambitious -- Washington, D.C. and its surrounding counties raised it to $11.50, Seattle is considering $15.00. Senate Democrats will soon introduce legislation raising it nationally to $10.10, from the current $7.25 an hour. Read more >>
THE CARTOON The cartoon by Chappatte from Le Temps, Geneva is set in a restaurant. The customer asks the waiter, "How's that $15 pie of the day", to which the waiter replies, "... better than my hourly pay."
EXPLANATION The joke is that the pie costs more than the waiter earns in an hour.