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April 20, 2015

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Read the articles and answer the following questions. In Line of Fire, David Von Drehle draws readers into the maelstrom triggered by a video showing a police officer shooting an unarmed black man in North Charleston, South Carolina. 1.

‘Before the video, the killing of Walter Scott had occupied the same contested territory in which hundreds of other cases have languished and festered”. What did the video show? Ans: p18 – The video shot by a passer-by showed indisputably an unarmed Walter Scott running away from police officer Michael Slager. Slager fired seven shots in succession at Scott and then an eighth one. The multiple shots were indubitably unrestrained use of force given that Slager was in no apparent danger. After Scott fell to the ground, Slager placed something, perhaps his Taser, beside the dying man. The video led to Slager being arrested and charged with murder, a crime punishable by life in prison or death in South Carolina.

2.

What two conclusions can be drawn from this incident? Ans: p18 – Firstly, it must be scary to be a police officer in a routine encounter questioning a citizen about his brake light, even if the latter happens to have a warrant out for his arrest over delinquent child support payments. Secondly, it is even more frightening and humiliating to be the black man being detained/questioned because the officer may feel threatened by the encounter and seek to arrest or even kill him in purported self-defence.

3.

Why is the outcome for Slager ‘impossible to know’? Ans: p19 – Even though the shooting had been flatly condemned by government officials, it remains difficult to convict a police officer in many jurisdictions. Communities ask a lot of the men and women who patrol the line between order and lawlessness and the public tends to cut them a lot of slack. Officers charged with illegal shootings or the use of excessive force may be eventually exonerated/acquitted even despite video evidence.

4.

What does it mean for the North Charleston video to ‘put an exclamation point on the assertion made by protesters across the country that the dead are not always to blame’? Ans: p19 – The video makes the point so clearly/graphically/undeniably that it will be hard for naysayers to maintain their position that all victims of police shootings must have done something to deserve their deaths. It can become an extremely powerful catalyst to advance the issue from the realm of argument to the search for solutions to prevent a re-occurrence of such unnecessary deaths, especially in states where police officers stop black suspects with distressing frequency.

5.

Why is the ‘best path forward more video, not less’? Ans: p20 – It is so easy for every case of deadly use of force by white officers on black suspects to be automatically generalised as racism and for the officers to be deemed guilty until proven innocent. If police officers were to have dashboard- and body-mounted cameras as part of their gear, the good ones can rely on more than their own word when they are in trouble while the bad ones will feel less free to level their weapons with impunity.

6.

According to the writer, what else needs to be done? Ans: pp19-20 – The troubled relationship between police departments and black citizens is national in scope but mending the relationship will need to take place town by town, department by department. The tendency for police departments to close ranks at times like this needs to be changed so that the reputation of law enforcement will not be poisoned. The North Charleston video ought to put the police on the same side as the protesters demanding change. Everyone benefits from less suspicion and fear and shares an interest in better training and technology to reduce the number of times officers use their guns.

In Little Big Island, Nikhil Kumar looks at what the newly elected president of Sri Lanka wants to achieve. 7.

What might have led to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s loss in the elections? Ans: p26 – Rajapaksa ruled Sri Lanka for nine years. As he tightened his power during his terms in office, he blithely ignored calls to investigate human rights abuses during the close of the country’s civil war. Moreover, the extended Rajapaksa clan took on key government positions (e.g. national defence, economic development and speaker of parliament), ‘wrapping itself around the government

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like out-of-control wisteria’. Dissidents risked being squashed with an iron fist and critical journalists and activists were arbitrarily detained or harassed by thugs, some never to return after being hauled away in unmarked vans (the Rajapaksa regime denies involvement). Voters wary of the slide towards autocratic rule by a one-familiar state jettisoned him in the latest elections in favour of Maithripala Sirisena, his former ally who promised to be anti-Rajapaksa. It was a victory that even Sirisena did not expect. 8.

Although Sirisena appeared to be an unlikely leader, what factors enabled him to trump Rajapaksa in the elections? Ans: p27 – Sirisena is a member of the Sinhalese Buddhist majority and a political veteran (details in the 1 st and 2nd columns). Throughout his political career, he avoided scandal and cultivated an image as a clean-living leader with his feet firmly rooted in the paddy fields of his district (implies he is down-to-earth, scrupulously diligent, prudent, sensible, practical-minded). He made a strong contrast with the Rajapaksas’ plans for dynastic rule, love of luxury, and allegations of large-scale corruption. Sirisena also won a global PR battle by campaigning with the promise to set up an independent domestic probe into allegations of human rights abuses by the military at the end of the civil war against the LTTE.

9.

How has Sirisena tried to set himself apart from Rajapaksa after taking office and how are the changes ‘more than optics’? Ans: pp26-27 – Compared to Rajapaksa, Sirisena has a much smaller motorcade and security detail and waits at red lights rather than to barge his way through. He has not moved into the presidential compound but continues to live in the Colombo home he occupied as Rajapaksa’s Health Minister. The opulent banquet hall in the presidential compound has been given to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who uses it as an office. On the policy front, Sirisena is supporting constitutional amendments to weaken presidential powers, reintroduce term limits scrapped under Rajapaksa, and share authority with a stronger parliamentary executive headed by the PM. These measures should ensure that no single family can control Sri Lanka again. In addition, details of the proposed domestic probe into alleged human rights abuses are to be announced in end June. Colombo had appointed a new civilian governor for Jaffna and revived efforts to form a South Africa-style truth and reconciliation commission too. Moreover, activists and journalists in Colombo speak of a more tolerant attitude towards critical voices.

10. ‘Whether it wishes or not’, Sri Lanka is ‘a player in a geopolitical game among bigger players’. Explain how this can be seen. Ans: pp26-27 – Sri Lanka, which sits just off India’s southern coast, is a coveted bridgehead to the vast Indian Ocean where India, China and the U.S. are vying for influence. Its growing strategic significance is underlined by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the country in September and the Beijing-backed $1.4 billion Rajapaksa-era Colombo portcity venture to build shopping malls, hotels and apartment complexes on reclaimed land (the project has been suspended pending reviews by the new government). Under Sirisena (and given his criticism of the country’s foreign policy as having fallen into disarray in his election campaign manifesto), Sri Lanka may realign its diplomatic relations, a speculation stemming too from Wickremesinghe observing that the country needs the west, India as well as China. Since taking office, Sirisena has also visited China and hosted Indian PM Narenda Modi, signs that foreign policy is being realigned. 11. Explain what it means for (a) Sirisena to have ‘his feet firmly rooted in the paddy fields of his native Polonnaruwa district’ and (b) Rajapaksa to be ‘“like a sword of Damocles” over the new government’. Ans: p27 – (a) This image of Sirisena plays on the stereotype of farmers as hardworking, honest people who toil for a good harvest. It implies that Sirisena is down-to-earth, scrupulously diligent, prudent, sensible/practical-minded down-to-earth, scrupulously diligent, prudent, sensible, practical-minded. (b) The expression is a reference to a story about Damocles, a servile courtier to King Dionysius I of Syracuse, who was invited to a banquet to the king. The King, weary of Damocles’ obsequious flattery, seated him under a sword hanging by a single hair to point out to him the precariousness of is position. So if the sword of Damocles hangs over someone, he or she is in a situation where something bad is likely to happen to him or her very soon. In this case, Rajapaksa could contest a parliamentary seat and threaten the new government. Sirisena needs his political supporters to be re-elected so that he can counter Rajapaksa.

In Vietnam Looks Forward, Hannah Beech examines Vietnam’s bid to grow closer to the U.S. despite its devastating experiences forty years ago. 12. Why do the Vietnamese people know the Vietnam War as the American War? Ans: p31 – In full, the name of the war is the “War Against the Americans to Save the Nation” or “Resistance War Against America”. To call it “Vietnam War” will be to see the war as a domestic conflict fought between north and south. But the war was also part of a larger regional conflict and a manifestation of the Cold War between the U.S., the Soviet Union, and their respective allies. The U.S. viewed its involvement as part of a large containment strategy to stop the spread of communism. The North Vietnamese government and the Viet Cong were fighting to reunify Vietnam under communist rule and see the conflict was a colonial war. Ultimately, the north and communist forces prevailed and so did their version of events. 13. Four decades after the war, how has Vietnam changed? Ans: pp31-32 – With annual GDP growth of 6%, Vietnam is now an emerging Asian economy that ranks as one of the world’s top producers of rice and coffee. With 40% of its population under 25 years of age, its manufacturing base is booming as it can draw upon young women willing to trade farm

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work for factory labour. Life expectancy has increased from 40 years in 1960 to 73 today. The effects of wealth are evident: new golf courses, boutiques, and high income inequality too. The U.S. and Vietnam have normalised diplomatic relations in 1995. Foreign tourists are flocking to the country. 14. How can it be seen that ‘peace … a rarity in Vietnam history’? Ans: p32 – Vietnam’s geographical location makes it a prize of empire and it suffered 17 foreign invasions over the centuries. In all but three instances, the Vietnamese troops quickly repelled the invaders. During the Cold War, the U.S. saw it as a battleground to stop communism spreading in SEA and so intervened in the Vietnam War. Now, Vietnam is a front against China because of their conflicting claims on Spratly and Paracel Islands and its alliance with the U.S. to counter China’s attempts to dominate the South China Sea. 15. Account for the Vietnamese’s lack of rancour against the Americans. Ans: pp32-33 – Pragmatism rather than friendliness is at the core of the tradition to make friends with one’s former enemies. The country and its people understand they need to do what it takes to survive (and prosper) and are willing to be friendly with the nations that once waged war against it. Moreover, even though Vietnam’s struggle against the U.S. looms large in the American imagination, Vietnam’s oldest and bitterest foe is China. Any rancour is more likely to be directed at it, especially given its belligerence in recent years. America, in contrast, is an ally to be cultivated. 16. ‘For all of Vietnam’s resolve to move on, the war still resonates.’ Explain the effects of Agent Orange on the post-war generation and what the U.S. is doing about the situation. Ans: p34 – As a result of millions of Vietnamese being exposed to dioxin during the war, thousands of children were born handicapped. After years of questioning the scientific certainty of dioxin poisoning, the U.S. government has begun to fund dioxin hot-spot clean-ups and to help victims. Congress has allocated $100 million for the cause. 17. According to the writer, how do Vietnamese youth differ from their parents? Ans: p35 – Generation gaps exist in every society. Vietnamese youth in the last century were willing to sacrifice themselves for their country to fight off the French, Chinese and Americans. Their individual ambitions were subsumed by the national cause. Today’s youth thrive on their own terms. They want to live for themselves and follow their dreams. 18. The writer’s father calls America’s intervention in Vietnam in 1965-1975 ‘the most humiliating chapter in American history’. If you are unfamiliar with this piece of history, do some research to understand the reasons for his stinging criticism.

In In the Heart of the Mountain, Vivienne Walt describes the construction of the Gotthard Base Tunnel. 19. Other than the Gotthard Base Tunnel, do you know of other megastructures that were built using the latest technology and inspired innovations to facilitate their construction? How well did the megastructures serve their intended purposes?

Complete the contextual meanings of the following words. After completing this exercise, use the words in sentences of your own making. Bye-Bye Great Satan 1. Ramin, in particular, has been cited in the Iranian press as a subversive agent, paid for by the CIA to conduct secret antiregime training. Ans: seeking or intending to [D10] undermine the power and authority of an [D24] established system of institution 2.

So I asked with some trepidation, “What do you think of the deal?” Ans: a feeling of [A18] apprehension about something than may happen

3.

Western news and culture – fed by satellite dishes, which are ubiquitous – are dominant in the society. Ans: very common; [D19] all-pervasive

4.

… Naqdi is the Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Iran, and he gave immediately ballast to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refrain that the Iranians can’t be trusted. Ans: something providing stability or [A27] substance

5.

He was forced to resort to the spurious argument that the framework would launch a nuclear-arms race in the region. Ans: not being what it [A23] purports to be; false or fake

6.

By contrast, Ramin Ahmadi’s view seems improbably fresh and fiendishly delightful. Ans: [A29] diabolically; extremely wickedly or cruelly

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Vietnam Looks Forward 7. The prevailing national attitude in Vietnam is encapsulated by the slogan on T-shirts sold to hipster foreign tourists: VIETNAM: A COUNTRY, NOT A WAR. Ans: expressed the [A9] essential features of something [D22] succinctly 8.

Hanoi was embroiled in two military confrontations, a brief but bloody war with an invading China that was precipitated by another conflict: Vietnam occupied Cambodia for a decade ... Ans: EMBROILED: involved [A6] deeply in a conflict or difficult situation. PRECIPITATED: caused an [A3] undesirable situation to happen unexpectedly or [A19] prematurely

9.

Americans visiting Vietnam often express amazement at the lack of rancour expressed by ordinary Vietnamese. Ans: [D8] bitterness or resentfulness, especially when long standing

10. They beseech the whale spirit to protect them from storms – and from the Chinese. Ans: ask someone urgently and [A26] fervently to do or give something 11. Half an hour from the Quang Ngai ferry terminal, amid shimmering rice paddies still ploughed by implacable buffalo, is the cluster of hamlets that was destroyed in the 1968 My Lai massacre ... Ans: unable to be stopped; [D12] relentless 12. Toan’s atrophying fingers can no longer handle a keyboard, so he depends on a mouse. Ans: [D11] wasting away, especially as a result of the [D1] degeneration of cells 13. The lingering effect of Agent Orange is a potent reminder that, for all of Vietnam’s resolve to move on, the war still resonates. Ans: POTENT: [D4] powerful. RESONATES: [A5] evokes images, memories and emotions 14. “The Americans are upon us like bloodthirsty devils,” she wrote on Aug 27, 1968, after a particularly harrowing field surgery. Ans: [A17] acutely distressing Fashion’s Hot New Age 15. Small and thin, with a short crop of silver hair, Apfel festoons her 93-year-old forearms from wrists to elbows with a stack of fat bracelets. Ans: [A14] adorns with decorations 16. And the timing is idea, says Lynn Deal, the 82-year-old owner of Manhattan’s Off Broadway Boutique – a mecca for women who are proud to be the opposite of invisible. Ans: a place which [D20] attracts and is important to people of a particular group or interest 17. Dell’s panache is regularly featured on Advanced Style, a popular site run by 33-year-old Ari Seth Cohen that showcases all sorts of beautifully put-together seniors, from impeccable traditionalists to silvery bohemians from the Carole King school of natural woman. Ans: PANACHE: [D15] flamboyant confidence of style or manner. IMPECCABLE: [A25] faultless. BOHEMIANS: socially [A2] unconventional people, especially those who are involved in the [A16] arts 18. Cohen regularly returns to a core group of muses who have never met an outfit that was too architecturally ambitious. Their hats tower and tilt, their wraps engulf, and their colour combinations demand attention. Ans: MUSES: people who are the source of [D7] inspiration for a creative artist. ENGULF: surround or cover [A28] completely 19. Apfel is pleased that the industry has come around, but deflects her status as a fashion icon with gestures of dismissal. Ans: [D13] diverts something away 20. “The greatest faux pas is looking in the mirror and seeing someone else, which many women do,” Apfel says. Ans: an [D21] embarrassing or tactless act in a social situation. Ans:

A2. Unconventional A9. Essential A18. Apprehension A26. Fervently D1. Degeneration D10. Undermine D15. Flamboyant D22. Succinctly

A3. Undesirable A14. Adorns A19. Prematurely A27. Substance D4. Powerful D11. Wasting D19. Pervasive D24. Established

A5. Evokes A16. Arts A23. Purports A28. Completely D7. Inspiration D12. Relentless D20. Attracts

A6. Deeply A17. Acutely A25. Faultless A29. Diabolically D8. Bitterness D13. Diverts D21. Embarrassing

Permission is granted to individual teacher to reproduce this Student Worksheet for classroom use only. Reproduction by an entire school system or any other organization is strictly prohibited. Copyright © 2015 Time Asia (Hong Kong) Limited. All rights reserved.