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2014-12-15 NEWS Plus Special English
   2014-12-16 10:21:41    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Han





This is NEWS Plus Special English. I'm Mark Griffiths in Beijing. Here is the news.
Madrid has been the final destination for a train which has set the record for the longest train journey in history, 13,052 kilometers between the Chinese city of Yiwu and the Spanish capital.
The train departed from Yiwu in east China's Zhejiang Province on November 18th and arrived in Madrid on December 9th. It had 40 wagons, carrying 1,400 tons of cargo, consisting of stationary, craft products and products for the Christmas market. The train will return to China filled with luxury Spanish produce such as cured ham, olive oil and wine.
The historic journey marks the opening of a regular two-way rail link between China and Spain. The railway will commence operations early next year.
Two major advantages of rail travel are that it is much faster by rail than by boat, cutting the transportation time in half; and a train produces 60 percent less carbon dioxide pollution of a lorry making the same journey by road.
The marathon journey starts from eastern China and goes all the way to the west, passing through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France, before arriving in Spain.
The more than 13,000 kilometer journey between Madrid and Yiwu is a greater distance than that between the North and South Pole.
During the journey, the engine of the train has to be changed every 800 kilometers, while the crew shifts with each country the train traversed. Special stops were necessary at the frontier cities in Kazakhstan, Belarus and Spain, in order to deal with the different railway gauges encountered along the route.
Officials at the Chinese Embassy in Madrid say the railway shows the great attention China has paid to strengthening relations with Europe, while Spanish officials commented that the railway is like a "new silk road for the 21st century, except that now the commerce travels in both directions".
This is NEWS Plus Special English.
Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi has launched a smart air purifier as it tries to tap into the growing market created by the country's hazardous air quality.
Besides traditional functions, the new Xiaomi product can be connected to a smartphone, allowing users to remotely control the device and receive air quality readings.
According to information from Xiaomi's website, the device can learn about air conditions in real time and tell users when to turn on the device. It can also warn users when the filter needs to be replaced.
The purifier sells at around 900 yuan, roughly 145 U.S. dollars. It can provide at least 400 cubic meters of clean air per hour. Xiaomi says the device can clean more than 99 percent of PM 2.5, air particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter which are the main contributor of China's air pollution and are believed to pose great health risks to humans.
Worsening air quality in recent years has spurred the rise of air purifier sales in Chinese cities, but some consumers complain that effectiveness differs between brands.
The smart air purifier is the latest one among Xiaomi's growing line of products, which already includes smartphones, routers, smart televisions, tablets, Internet television boxes and wristbands. Xiaomi is now the world's third largest smartphone maker in terms of shipments.
This is NEWS Plus Special English.
China has donated 500,000 U.S. dollars to the Maldives government to speed up repairs in a desalination plant and restore water to the capital.
The donation was done after the Maldives government announced an estimated 20 million U.S. dollars would be needed to repair the plant that was damaged in a fire resulting in the capital's population of 130,000 being without water for four days.
The Defense Minister of Maldives, Mohamed Nazim, said that the Chinese government has already come forward with the donation, and discussions are continuing with a number of Arab countries, hoping to get monetary aid from them.
The appeals are being made through the Foreign Ministry of Maldives. Private donors have also chipped in with 1 million U. S. dollars also coming in from an anonymous Saudi businessman.
Water services to the capital Mal were shut off on December 4th after a crippling fire damaged crucial components of the island's sole desalination facility the Mal Water and Sewerages Company leaving thousands of people without water for bathing, cleaning, and cooking.
You are listening to NEWS Plus Special English. I'm Mark Griffiths in Beijing.
Day after day, Facebook captures the best and worst moments, from the birth of a new baby to heated political spats. So what was discussed most this year? One of the topics was the Ice Bucket Challenge, and also the death of Robin Williams.
The list Facebook has released is a testament to its global reach, given that more than 80 percent of its users live outside the U.S. and Canada. Worldwide topics, such as the World Cup football tournament and the Ebola outbreak, occupied the top two spots.
But a number 3 was the presidential election in Brazil. Facebook says some 48 million people had 670 million interactions, comments and likes, about the highly contested event. This made it the most talked-about election of this year, even more than the congressional midterms in the U.S.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, said in an interview that at its best, social media makes the world a smaller place and builds community on a global level.
Sandberg saw it fitting that the World Cup, the world's most widely watched sporting event, was also the most widely discussed event this year. More than 350 million people had 3 billion interactions about the tournament.
From June 1 to Sept. 1, Facebook users shared more than 17 million videos related to the Ice Bucket Challenge, a campaign designed to raise awareness and money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg joined celebrities and everyday users alike to post videos of themselves being covered with iced water. All told, those videos were viewed 10 billion times by more than 440 million people. Former US President George W. Bush had the most widely watched video, with more than 39 million views.
For Sandberg, the Ice Bucket Challenge marked an important milestone for Facebook - the explosion of video content on the site.
This is NEWS Plus Special English.
A man who stole part of the Porsche that "Fast and the Furious" actor Paul Walker died in has been sentenced to six months in jail.
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office says 26-year-old Anthony Janow was sentenced on December 9th in the US state of California.
Walker and driver Roger Rodas died in November last year when their speeding Porsche Carrera GT hit a tree and a lamp post in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita.
Prosecutors say Janow and a friend stole a roof panel when a tow truck carrying the wreckage stopped at a red light.
Janow and 19-year-old Jameson Witty each pleaded no contest to grand theft, destroying evidence and obstructing a peace officer.
Witty was sentenced earlier this year to six months in jail.
This is NEWS Plus Special English.
The well-heeled Marilyn Monroe reportedly once said that if you give a girl the right shoes, she could conquer the world.
The allure of high-heeled shoes is no secret among women, who have used them to entice men from the streets of Ancient Rome to the New York City sidewalks of Carrie Bradshaw. Heels have also been a controversial symbol on the battleground of sexual politics.
Now a scientific study in France has measured their power.
Scientists conducted experiments that showed that men behave very differently towards high-heeled women. The results may please the purveyors of popular brand shoes, yet frustrate those who think stilettos encourage sexism.
The study found if a woman drops a glove on the street while wearing heels, she's almost 50 percent more likely to have a man fetch it for her than if she's wearing flat shoes.
Another finding: A woman wearing heels is twice as likely to persuade men to stop and answer survey questions in the street. And a woman wearing high-heels in a bar waits half the time to get picked up by a man, compared to when her heel is nearer to the ground.
The study's author, Nicolas Gueguen, a behavioral science researcher, says that women's shoe heel size exerts a powerful effect on men's behavior, and that to put it simply, they make women more beautiful.
Raised shoes have an unglamorous beginning, being worn first by Egyptian butchers, who donned platforms to avoid treading in bloody offal.
But on women as "signifiers of femininity", raised shoes initially appeared in Ancient Greece and Rome. In Rome, where the sex trade was legal, high heels helped clients identify prostitutes in crowds.
High heels only made their way into the West in the 1500s, when they were associated with imperial power and popularized as erotic in the 19th and 20th centuries. Such was the allure that a person with status or wealth became referred to as "well-heeled".
This study shows that the allure is very much alive.
Paris-based sociologist Jean-Claude Kaufmann, who was not involved in the study, says that although it's a relatively small cross-section, the study is very significant since the results are clear and consistent.
You're listening to NEWS Plus Special English. I'm Mark Griffiths in Beijing. You can access the program by logging onto NEWSPlusRadio.cn. You can also find us on our Apple Podcast. If you have any comments or suggestions, please let us know by e-mailing us at mansuyingyu@cri.com.cn. That's mansuyingyu@cri.com.cn. Now the news continues.
The US space agency NASA says that despite recent media reports, a newly spotted 1,300-foot wide asteroid is not a threat and will not hit the Earth.
The asteroid was discovered in October by Russian scientists. It will not even get that close to Earth in the next 150 years; and it is not a threat to any other planet, either.
Calculations by NASA and Harvard University say the closest asteroid that will get to Earth is about 2.7 million miles in April 2047. That is so far away that it does not make NASA's running list of risky near-Earth objects.
In-depth analysis has confirmed that the space rock will not be close to Earth soon.
This is NEWS Plus Special English.
Australians lost more than 19 million U.S. dollars to fraudsters on online dating sites this year.
A new study reveals that people scammed by online dating sites accounted for 74 percent of all complaints made to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission throughout the year.
The remaining quarter was made up of people conned into job and investment opportunities, unexpected prizes and unexpected money. However, online dating sites were listed as the "chief culprit" of fraudsters.
There were 50 confirmed cases of people losing in excess of 28,000 U.S. dollars each, and the majority of fraudsters originate from West Africa, using stories about inheritance, gemstone dealings and gold bullion to appeal to potential victims.
Scammers are beginning to use other social media websites to lure victims, while preying on their search for love.
Just over one third of these people were contacted by the scammer through social media channels.
The excuses and stories are designed to extract the maximum funds and commit the victim both financially and emotionally.
The study comes as the commission announces a nation-wide crackdown on online scamming.
The commission has sent 1,500 letters to users of dating websites, warning them of the danger of fraudsters, while 100 dating websites have been checked to ensure they maintain appropriate warning measures.
This is NEWS Plus Special English.
A sheep wearing a festive red-and-green sweater was found wandering around Omaha in the US state of Nebraska over the weekend.
The sheep was found by police in an Omaha neighborhood and was brought to the Nebraska Humane Society, awaiting its owner.
A Humane Society spokesperson says the sheep, which appears healthy, has a thick coat, so it likely didn't need the sweater for warmth.
The Humane Society is caring for the sheep while it tries to find its owner and learn the animal's name.
The sheep is used to walking on a lead and doesn't seem to mind that the holiday apparel it was wearing appears to have been designed for a dog.
The sheep will be held for a few days before being put up for adoption. It may have been a pet or someone's 4-H project.
In the U.S, 4-H is a youth organization administered by the Department of Agriculture, and is the largest youth serving organization in the world. The 4-H sheep project is intended for individuals who are interested in showing sheep.
That is the end of this edition of NEWS Plus Special English. To freshen up your memory, I'm going to read one of the news items again at normal speed. Please listen carefully.
That is the end of today's program. I'm Mark Griffiths in Beijing. Hope you can join us every day at CRI NEWS Plus Radio, to learn English and learn about the world.



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