THE INFLUENCE OF LOBBY GROUPS
Have you heard such term as ‘lobby ’? Do you know what it means?
Task 1 You will hear a discussion about the idea of lobbying and its role in modern democratic societies.
a) Listen to the recording, but first listen to the words and phrases that are used in the text:
ü supranational – наднациональный
ü since the dawn of time – вечно; извечно
ü to preserve the status quo – поддерживать статус-кво
ü an ancestor – прародитель; предок
ü infinitely wise – умудренный; благоразумный
ü love them or loathe them – любить или ненавидеть
ü a key player – ключевой игрок
ü an adviser – советник; консультант
b) Choose the most appropriate answer according to what you will hear.
1. How important are lobby groups?
a) They are important only to politicians.
b) They are relatively important.
c) They attract the attention of a lot of people.
2. In an ideal world…
a) politicians wouldn’t need advice.
b) lobby groups would have joint charge of the country.
c) wouldn’t need politicians.
3. Individuals in a modern society…
a) would like to be left alone.
b) like to see society changing for the better.
c) wish to live as their parents did.
4. The author’s view…
a) seems rather in favour of the lobby groups.
b) is balanced.
c) is generally against the lobby groups.
5. Which sentence best describes the author’s views?
a) Lobby groups are clearly either good for society or bad.
b) The influence of lobby groups is not as transparent as it’s sometimes suggested.
c) Lobby groups act for the benefit of the majority of society.
Read the text below.
Task 1. Find the answers to the following questions;
1. What is the dictionary definition of the term ‘democracy’?
2. What is the difference between the direct and representative democracies?
3. Why are the ideas of democracy and freedom used interchangeably?
4. What does each group of freedom (political, social, economic) implement?
Democracy may be a word familiar to most. According to the dictionary definition, democracy “is government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system” (Webster’s New World Dictionary. Warner Books Paperback Edition. 1990). In the phrase of Abraham Lincoln, democracy is a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
Democracy falls into two basic categories: direct and representative. In a direct democracy all citizens can participate in making public decisions. Modern society, with its size and complexity, offers few opportunities for direct democracy. Today, the most common form of democracy is representative democracy, in which citizens elect officials to make political decisions, formulate laws and administers programs for the public good.
Freedom and democracy are often used interchangeably, but the two are not synonymous. Democracy is indeed the set of ideas and principles about freedom.
Most legal freedoms can be divided into three main groups:
Ø political freedom
Ø social freedom
Ø economic freedom
Political freedom includes the right to vote, to choose between the candidates for public office, and to run for office oneself.
Social freedom comprises freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, academic freedom, due process of law.
Economic freedom enables people to make their own economic decisions. This freedom includes the right to own property, to use it, to make profit of it.
(What is Democracy? US Information agency, 1997; The individual in Society: Issues in English. I. Geniene, L. Miseviciene, etc. CfBT Educational Service, 1997)
Task 2. Get divided into groups of 3 or 4. Discuss how the main ideas and principles of democracy and freedom are observed in the Republic of Belarus. Use the above text as the theoretical basis for your discussion
Task 1. Here are some opinions of famous people about freedom. Read and translate them. Work in pairs, choose one of the quotations, discuss it and make your comments. Present the results of your discussion to the group mates.
Ø “Man is condemned to be free.” Jean-Paul Sartre
Ø “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.” George Bernard Shaw
Ø “It is often safer to be in chains than to be free.” Franz Kafka
Ø “Do not believe in freedom in the philosophical sense. Everybody acts not only external compulsion but also in accordance with inner necessity.” Albert Einstein
Read the following texts and make their analysis according to the following plan:
Ø State the theme / topic of the text;
Ø State the minor themes / topics if there are any;
Ø Formulate the main idea;
Ø Find rhemes / key words which support and develop the theme and the main idea;
Ø Make the summary of the text on the basis of the chosen rhemes.
You can do it in the form of the chart or the cognitive / mind map and produce the summary with the help of the chart you’ve made.
CAN ONE OBAMA CHANGE EVERYTHING?
Take a moment and punch the word "change" into your Google news search engine and you will quickly understand the essence of Barack Obama's victory in the U.S. Presidential elections. Optimistic-dripping headlines like, "The Freshness of Change" (San Diego Union Tribune),"Voting for Change" (Boston Herald), "Change comes to America" (The Nation Newspaper), and weighing in for Europe, "Europeans Hope Obama's Change Reaches Across Atlantic" (Deutsche Welle) screamed from front pages in the United States and the world. Clearly, much of the world is hoping America, which is viewed by so many as a beacon of democracy, cleans up its house and endorses Change with a capital C.US President George W. Bush, before moving into the White House in 2001, took a cheap shot at his predecessor, Bill Clinton, by saying he would have to "disinfect" the Oval Office before moving in. But given the tremendous damage that Bush has done to the Oval Office himself, Obama will need a whole construction crew to rebuild the reputation of the White House.
The outright atrocities of the Bush administration - from the still operational Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, where inmates are held without legal representation, to the invasion of a sovereign state, Iraq, in direct contravention of UN law-will not and should not be forgotten any time soon, indeed, they must be addressed. For the United States to have fallen from global grace so quickly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 suggests that it behaved no better than the enemy it was pursuing around the world.
The United States has given the world a new toolbox of geopolitical terms - nation-building, axis of evil, preemptive strike, to name but a few - that it believes will help solve the world's problems. In fact, it has done the exact opposite.
Now, nations that were once strong allies in the war on terror, are questioning the true motives of their American partner.
Russia, for one, rightly questions the necessity of America building missile defense systems in Eastern Europe, on Russia's doorstep.
Is it any surprise that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia had no choice but to station Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave.
So this brings us back to Barack Obama, who has inherited a kitchen full of dirty dishes in the midst of financial meltdown. Barack Obama and the American people should work closely with Dmitry Medvedev and the Russian people. After all, there is nothing to gain from stewing over old animosities, many of which are vestiges of the Cold War.
(from The Moscow News, #44/7, 13 November 2008)