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You are going to read short texts. Choose the best answer
Last week a South African judge lifted a domestic ban on trade in rhino horns, in a direct challenge to a government policy to try to stem rocketing poaching numbers. The government said it planned to appeal against the ruling. South Africa saw record 1,215 rhinos killed last year for their horn, yet rhino breeders say lifting the ban and selling legally harvested horns could stifle the lucrative black market trade and, accordingly, cause the number to decline.
1. Rhino breeders think that a South African judge’s decision could …
a) decrease the number of killed rhinos
b) fuel the black market trade in horns
c) harm the official anti-poaching policy
They are the galaxy’s equivalent of the graveyard in the attic – except on a much bigger scale. Astronomers have discovered two huge black holes, which together are ten times the size of our solar system. To estimate the black holes’ size, scientists used earthbound and celestial telescopes to record the speeds of stars caught in the holes’ gravitational pull. The sprawling stellar burial grounds contain billions of stars, some of which weigh as much as 21 billion suns. Since the holes are located at the centre of galaxies, they could provide hints about how galaxies are formed from the swirling gases emitted by the stars.
2. According to the text, the discovery of the black holes may help to …
a) establish how galaxies originate
b) study the size of our solar system
c) examine gases constituting stars
The Environment Agency came under fierce criticism for its handling of the flooding crisis last week as storms again buttered much of Britain. The chairman, Lord Smith, faced calls to resign over the failure to protect the Somerset Levels, where some 40 square miles of land have been under water for a month. In reply, he said the agency had no “bottomless purse”, and he faced hard choices whether to save “town or country” with its scarce resources. Luckily, the Prime Minister promised that the authorities would resume the regular dredging of local rivers, the project abandoned 18 years ago.
3. Defending himself, Lord Smith put the blame on …
a) the limited funds to cope with the flooding
b) a bigger than expected scale of the flooding
c) insufficient investing in the river dredging
MI6 is to return to the old-school method of “tapping up” recruits as part of a concerted effort to draw in a new cadre of black and Asian officers and finally dispel the image of British spies as the preserve of a posh, Oxbridge elite. The initiative has come directly from the agency’s chief, Alex Younger, who said that MI6, known officially as the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), needed to reach out to communities that were “selecting themselves out”.
4. MI6’s new initiative aims at …
a) changing the stereotypical image of agents
b) recruiting more agents among graduates
c) closely observing different minority groups
Turkey has been accused of violating academic freedom by rounding up university teachers who signed a petition denouncing military operations against Kurds. Police detained twenty-seven academics over alleged “terror propaganda” after they signed a petition calling for an end to Turkey’s “deliberate massacre and deportation of Kurdish people”. The US ambassador to Turkey condemned the crackdown as “chilling”. Local media reported that all the group were later released. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has severely criticized the signatories, including the political scientist Noam Chomsky and the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek.
5. According to the text, the Turkish president criticized …
a) the detention of the university teachers
b) the attempt to show support for Kurds
c) the US remarks about Turkey’s decision
A split in the global Anglican communion over gay rights was averted after the archbishops agreed to impose sanctions against a liberal US church and issue a statement in support of the doctrine that marriage should be between a man and a woman. The measures came after days of “painful” talks aimed at moving the world’s 85 million-strong Anglican fellowship beyond deep divisions over homosexuality. The statement said the fact that the US Episcopal Church (a member of the Anglican communion) accepted same-sex marriage was “a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority” on the doctrine of marriage.
6. The archbishops …
a) led to the deeper division within the Anglican communion
b) supported the US Episcopal church’s doctrine of marriage
c) expressed disapproval of a US Anglican church’s liberalism
Nutritionists don’t approve of them, but fasting diets appear to have a remarkable effect on the immune system. Scientists have discovered that fasting “flips a regenerative switch” which causes stem cells to create more of the white blood cells that fight infections. Researchers tested the effects of keeping to an ultra-low-calorie diet for two to four-day periods. First the fasting lowered white blood cell counts but then the body bounced back, producing numerous new cells. “If you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system,” said Valter Longo, a professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California.
7. We learn from the text that after chemotherapy …
a) following a diet low in calories is harmful
b) eating less high-calorie food may be positive
c) fasting blocks the development of new cells
Malaysia’s former prime minister, Mohamad Mahathir, called for a “people power” movement to secure the removal of his one-time ally, Najib Razak, the country’s current leader. Mr Mahathir was among tens of thousands of people who joined demonstrations against him. Mr Najib, who denies any wrongdoing, has been buffeted by corruption allegations.
8. Mohamad Mahathir …
a) faced a lot of public opposition
b) rallied against his successor
c) demonstrated loyalty to his ally
Police in Arkansas are embroiled in a legal tussle with Amazon over access to data from one of its Amazon Echo devices, which investigators hope might provide crucial evidence in a murder case. James Bates, 31, is due to go on trial later this year, accused of killing his friend, Victor Collins, after a night of heavy drinking at Bates’s home in Bantoville in 2015. A voice-activated Echo gadget was found close to the hot tub where the victim was found strangled and drowned, and police think it might have sent sound recordings of the killing to Amazon’s servers.
9. It can be deduced from the text that Amazon ...
a) has refused to give the evidence to the police
b) has agreed to make data available to the police
c) has intentionally posted audio recordings online
The French military is literally going where eagles dare in an effort to combat the increasing use of drones by criminals and terrorists. Following incidents of drones flying over the presidential palace and restricted military sites – along with the deadly 2015 Paris terror attacks – the French air force has trained four golden eagles to intercept and destroy the rogue aircraft. Aptly named d'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis – homage to Alexandre Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers” – the four birds of prey have been honing their attack skills at the Mont-de-Marsan in southwestern France since mid-2016.
10. The French want to use “The Three Musketeers” to …
a) monitor terrorist hideouts
b) protect airfields from birds
c) capture hostile aircraft
Active protection systems (APS) are being built into Russia's new Armata T-14 tank, posing a problem for a whole generation of anti-armour weapons, not least the US-supplied Javelin guided missile, used by the Norwegian Army. Some say this is a problem that most NATO countries have barely begun to grapple with. APS threatens to make existing anti-tank weapons far less effective. Norway is one of the first NATO countries to grasp this nettle. Its latest defence procurement plan envisages spending £18.5-32.5m on replacing its Javelin missiles, "to maintain the capacity to fight against heavy armoured vehicles; there is a need for an anti-tank missile that can penetrate APS systems”.
11. The Norwegian Army is concerned because …
a) the usefulness of its weapon is decreasing
b) its guided missile system is malfunctioning
c) the expenditure on armament is insufficient
Scientists replicated a critical step in reproduction for the very first time, growing an artificial mouse embryo from stem cells. The cells, growing in gel, morphed into primitive embryos that replicated the internal structures that emerge during normal development in the womb, University of Cambridge researchers observed. The embryos were kept for seven days when the cells had organised into two anatomical sections that would go on to form the placenta and embryonic mouse. Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz, a biologist who led the work, said: “I’m looking at it as a miracle of nature”.
12. The experiment has shown that it is possible to grow …
a) stem cells in an artificial womb
b) mouse embryos outside a uterus
c) two embryos from one stem cell
After a months-long bidding process, Yahoo, a struggling internet company, announced that it is to sell its core business to Verizon. Last year the wireless carrier also paid $4.4 billion for AOL, another former internet darling. Merging AOL and Yahoo will give Verizon more eyeballs to sell to digital advertisers. The deal will surely bring the curtain down on Marissa Mayer’s tenure at Yahoo, which is widely regarded as a failure. Between 2012, when Ms Mayer took over, and 2015, Yahoo’s gross earnings have fallen by 44%. The firm has also written off much of the value of Tumblr, a social-networking site that it bought for $1.1 billion in cash in 2013.
13. Verizon …
a) is investing heavily in the digital advertising
b) intends to increase the scope of its business
c) has suffered losses under its current director
You are going to read a newspaper article. Choose the best answer
INDONESIA-AUSTRALIA SPYING ROW
Welcome to the world of full-contact diplomacy. Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natelagawa’s announced that Indonesia will review its intelligence co-operation with Australia and the United States unless they provide assurances they won’t spy on Indonesia. These warnings, however, shouldn’t be over-interpreted; they are just part of the rough-and-tumble world of diplomacy.
The revelations about the collection of signals intelligence at Australian missions in regional capitals are the work of an American whistleblower and Australian journalists, not neighbouring governments. If foreign governments are genuinely surprised and shocked that the US and Australia spy on them, they are naive in the extreme. Personally, I would argue that stealing secrets has been a part of statecraft since time immemorial, and probably makes the world a safer place by minimising the chances that governments will catch each other unawares.
In reality, Jakarta is well aware that Australia is part of the most potent eavesdropping partnership in the world. Indonesia has been a beneficiary of Australia’s intelligence capabilities in its fight against terrorism, just as Australia has benefited from intelligence cooperation with Jakarta. Against this background, Natelagawa’s threatened “review” takes on a Yes, Minister slant – something that’s done in order to look decisive, while leaving things pretty much as they are.
The Indonesian foreign minister is responding loudly because he and his president don’t want to seem to be passive in response to allegations of Australian eavesdropping. Indonesia is in the countdown to a presidential election next year, and one way for the opposition to discredit the ruling party politicians is to accuse them of selling out to western interests. President Yudhoyono is already criticised by nationalists for being too nice to Canberra; and even though he can’t run again, he can’t dismiss his party being punished if he isn’t seen to be outraged by this apparent assault on Indonesia’s integrity.
There’s another element to Natelagawa’s response that can’t be ignored either. Diplomacy is not all about smooth talk and cocktail parties; it’s often a brutal competition, even between apparent friends and allies. The ability to exploit the slightest weakness can be worth its weight in gold as governments manoeuvre against each other.
Natelagawa, who studied in Australia, has probably watched the odd State of Origin game. He knows the first 10 minutes of the match are known as the “softening up period” – a display of aggressive physicality in which each side tries to put the opposition into a disadvantageous state of mind. Right now, there's a new government in Australia, and neighbouring governments, including Indonesia, are keen to test its determination. The odd diplomatic jab can give Natelagawa a better sense of what can be expected from a new government than years of polite cocktail discussions. New Australian governments over the past two decades have had some rocky foreign policy starts – think of the Howard and Rudd governments’ run-ins with Beijing early on – which makes one think that a bit of softening up may have become part of the regional diplomatic scene.
Remember, this is not the first time Natelagawa has muscled up to the Abbott government. More than a few eyebrows were raised in Canberra in September last year when he disclosed the contents of private discussions with Julie Bishop to the media – on the foreign minister’s first overseas trip no less. For this reason, the government’s latest neither-confirm-nor-deny, steady-as-she-goes response is spot-on. The last thing they want to do is to look unsettled.
Does all of this add up to a new attitude of antagonism in Jakarta? No. Indonesia has demonstrated over several years that it well understands the value of building a strong and pragmatic relationship with Australia. Sometime earlier this year, a decision was made in Jakarta that it needed to do more to meet Australia half-way on the asylum seeker issue – and it has done so, under a distracting cover of grim warnings about Australian policy positions. So the current protestations should be taken as a bit of Indonesian wayang theatre, while the real business of collaboration carries on behind the curtains.
14. The Indonesian foreign minister’s warnings are …
a) a part of the political game
b) a threat against Australia
c) an asset in negotiations
d) a protest against spying
15. According to the author, spying …
a) reduces the risk of being taken by surprise
b) leads to mistrust among allied countries
c) is unnecessary among coalition countries
d) is necessary to improve security services
16. In reality Minister Natelagawa’s threat means …
a) limiting capabilities of fight against terrorism
b) stopping spying on each other by both countries
c) no further intelligence cooperation with Australia
d) no real change in the countries’ cooperation
17. At the national level, the real reason for the foreign minister’s protest is to …
a) show the opposition is selling out to western interests
b) discredit the opposition’s candidate for the president
c) increase the governing party’s chances in the elections
d) lower the country’s president’s chances for re-election
18. When it comes to relations with Australia, Netalagawa wants to …
a) get advantage in bilateral relations
b) weaken the ally’s position in the region
c) find weaknesses in his foreign policy
d) check the new government’s reaction
19. After the latest Natelagawa’s statement, the Australian government …
a) admitted to eavesdropping
b) publicized its official denial
c) showed hardly any reaction
d) criticised the leak to the media
20. Jakarta …
a) rejects the idea of compromise in bilateral relations
b) refuses to accept Australian policy on asylum seekers
c) has adopted a new antagonistic attitude to Australia
d) continues the cooperation with Australia as before