Almanac – 16 August 2010 – Monday

Read the text first then listen to the audio at the bottom of the page.

Good Morning!

It is the sixteenth of August 2010. It is Monday.


It is fine.
The sky is clear.
It is clear and it is quite windy.
Yesterday the wind picked up.
It is cold.
It is quite cold.
It is quite cold but it is getting warmer.

Look at this scale:

It is quite windy.
It is windy.
It is very windy.
It is extremely windy.
The wind is very very strong.
It is blowing a gale.

How does the wind affect your emotional state? Does it un-nerve you? Does it make you feel uneasy? How does it make you feel?

Answer the question orally. Say your answer aloud. Say it now:
[audio:make you feel.mp3]
How does it make you feel? Does it un-nerve you? How does it make you feel?

If you have trouble, use these words in your answer:

The wind makes me feel…

Write your answer in the “comments section below at the bottom of this post.

Look at these variations:

It is getting hotter.
It is getting warmer.
It is getting cooler.
It is getting colder.

Here is a quick listening test. Look at this phrase:

The wind picked up.

Can you find a phrase which has the opposite meaning? Listen to the first part of this weather report


and find the phrase which means the opposite of:

The wind picked up

If you cannot find the phrase read the text at this link: Almanac – 14 August – 2010

then listen again. Write your answer in the comments section at the bottom of the post.

Now I want you to tell me about the weather where you are. What is the weather like where you are? Answer this question. Say your answer aloud.
What is the weather like today?

Now write an answer. What is the weather like today in your area? (Post the answer below in the “comments” section)

The news is next but first here is a commercial from a sponsor:


Here is a current news headline:

Flood and fire rock Eurasia

In “news headline English” we use present simple tense to show present continuous tense or present perfect tense. Look at these examples from other current headlines:

UN chief urges aid for Pakistan

which means

The UN chief has urged aid for Pakistan


The UN chief is urging aid for Pakistan


PKK announces ceasefire in Turkey

could mean

The PKK has announced a ceasefire in Turkey for Ramadan


The PKK is announcing a ceasefire in Turkey for Ramadan.

Present perfect tense is used for a completed action (in the past) while present continuous tense is used for a current event or action right now at this moment.

Flood and fire have rocked Eurasia with Himalayan run-off waters causing devastation in the south of the continent and wildfires causing the same thing in the north.

To rock


to move in a vigorous manner

or in this context, one of these:

wreak havoc
cause widespread damage
cause widespread devastation
cause widespread destruction
cause mayhem

Russia is located in the northern part of the Eurasian continent and Pakistan is in the southern part next to China and on the other side of the mountains.

In Pakistan 20 million people have been affected by the devastating floods and in China a national day of mourning has been observed for the more than 1200 victims of mudslides on the other side of the Himalayas.


Are you doing an IELTS test? When you do the IELTS test, in the written section, you have to write numbers in words like this:

twenty million

not like this:

20 million

The IELTS test is based on British English.

Look at this progression:

a national day of morning has been scheduled
a national day of morning has been announced
a national day of mourning has been observed

Look at these opposites:

on this side of the Himalayas
on the other side of the Himalayas

Russia stretches from Europe to Asia.

In the Russian controlled part of the continent, hundreds of wildfires are burning out of control. The harvest has been severely damaged and the export of wheat has been prohibited to protect the local market. The United States has sent fire-fighting equipment to help fight the fires.

Look at these variants:

bush fires
forest fires

Look at these opposites:

the export of wheat
the import of wheat

Look at these variants:

has been prohibited
has been banned
has been made illegal

Look at these terms:

fire-fighting equipment
fire-fighting teams
fire-fighting crews

Let’s look at another headline but first here is a message from our sponsors:

Cartel leader believed shot

In this headline, the past participle is used as an abbreviation for a passive phrase so

is believed shot


is believed to have been shot

has become simply:

believed shot

Mexican soldiers said the man was shot.

Cartels have blockaded the streets of the industrial city Monterrey, which is Mexico’s richest city. Gunmen ordered people from their cars, which were then used to make barricades that closed thirteen major roads.

Look at these phrases:

have blocked roads
have blockaded roads
have blocked streets
have blockaded streets

They have pretty much the same meaning but remember a road can be a road from one city to another but a street does not usually lead to another city.

The blockade was a show of force by the cartel after soldiers killed its local leader, El Sonrics, who only replaced Raul Luna Luna recently, after he was killed.

Look at these phrases:

the previous leader (the former leader)
the current leader (the present leader)

the former president (the previous president)
the current president (the incumbent president)

In Mexico the drug cartels have more power than the government. The previous President has recommended legalising drugs and treating addiction as a medical problem in order to break the back of the cartels by destroying their earning power.

Look at these opposites:

have more power
have less power

have more money
have less money

Look at this nest of phrases:

legalising drugs
de-criminalising drugs
outlawing drugs
controling drugs
prescribing drugs

What a mess! Use your dictionary to find out exactly what each term means then write a report and post it in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

To break the back of something


to destroy its power

You can hear this idiom in another conversation about OPEC if you click this link.

News and weather Summary

Now listen to a summary. If you do not understand everything you hear, go back and read the text again. Look up all the new words in the dictionary.

Download audio file (nw160810.mp3)

That is all for now. See you tomorrow!