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Learning English use a limited vocabulary and are read at a slower pace than VOA's other English broadcasts. Previously known as Special English.

Are 'Rage Rooms' Good Mental Health Treatment?

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report. After nearly a year in pandemic lockdowns, many people have experienced stress. There are many different ways to reduce stress. Some people might choose to walk in nature or do another kind of exercise. Others may try some deep breathing or spend time doing an activity that makes them happy. But some people have found a much different way to beat stress – by breaking things into a million little pieces. Since doing this at home could be destructive and possibly dangerous, places have been set up to permit people to destroy things legally and safely.   The places are called rage rooms. Rage is a term that means strong anger. A rage room is a private business where you pay to break things. People who have used rage rooms and therapists who approve or disapprove of them recently spoke to the Associated Press. Business executive and father Josh Elohim recently visited a rage room. After breaking a computer printer and other items, he said the activity “felt good.” It was like the kind of exercise he used to get cutting wood at his country home in New York. Since last winter, Elohim and his wife, Michelle, have been in lockdown at home with four kids, ages 4 to 17. The two said they badly needed a way to reduce stress and let off steam. So, they went to marriage and family therapist Yashica Budde. After the family dressed in protective clothing and picked their “destructive devices,” they entered a rage room.   The family is religious. Josh, the father, explained that their belief in God keeps them grounded. But he added with a laugh, “I’m not opposed to breaking some stuff to relieve some tension.” In the United States, rage rooms became more common in late 2019. Many people used the rooms to release stress related to life events, such as going through a breakup. Others visited rage rooms with friends as simply a way to have fun. But the rooms became more popular as most other entertainment places started shutting down last March. As the pandemic continues, Budde sees her rooms as valuable therapy. She has been a therapist for 13 years. She suggests different kinds of therapy to the people she works with, such as yoga and meditation. Usually these are quiet treatments. For something different, she decided to create rage rooms. Other therapists have also been sending patients to her rooms, called Smash Rx. She hopes more will do the same. How healthy is it? Some therapists, however, thinks smash therapy is not a healthy form of treatment. “I don’t know of any therapist who would actually prescribe going to the rage room as a form of therapy,” said Kevin Bennett. He is a psychologist and professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University. Bennett adds that especially if a patient has issues with violent behavior, sending them to a rage room does not seem healthy. He compared it to sending a person with a gambling problem into a casino for treatment. The thinking behind this kind of therapy, Bennett says, goes back to Sigmund Freud’s psychotherapy theories nearly a hundred years ago. He explained that it is an “idea of catharsis.” This means if you relieve your aggression and anger, you may feel better. The problem, he said, is that more recent studies beginning in the 1960s showed an unplanned result. If people learn that acting violently is okay in one situation, they may do so at other times. Bennett said that while some supporters of Freud may still support the theory, he and most others think that rage rooms are best left as just a form of entertainment. Tom Daly operates one of the oldest rage rooms in the U.S. His Break Bar opened in 2015 in New York City. He says his visitors tell him that smashing things makes them feel better. However, his rooms “are purely designed for fun.” Daly says that during the pandemic, his rage rooms have stayed full. Before, the rooms were not the busiest part of his business. That would be the bar and restaurant he operates next door. But those services have been closed for much of the pandemic. “I think everyone’s stressed out across the country,” Daly said. Among the destructors on a recent night were a mother and her three teenage daughters. After being stuck together in the house for months, they were all happy to break things.   The mother said her daughters have been out of school for a long time and do not know when they are going back. Her 17-year-old daughter, Piper, said she had lost her whole last year of high school. But inside a rage room, the girls laughed and cheered as they destroyed item after item. One of the things smashed against the wall was a plate with “COVID-19” written on it. And that’s the Health & Lifestyle report. I’m Anna Matteo and I’m Jonathan.   John Rogers reported this story from Los Angeles for The Associated Press. AP videographer Eugene Garcia and AP photographer Jae Hong contributed to the story. Anna Matteo adapted it for VOA Learning English. Bryan Lynn was the editor.     ________________________________________________________________   Words in This Story   stress – n. a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in your life, work, etc. : something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety therapist – n. a person who helps people deal with mental or emotional problems by talking about those problems : a person trained in methods of treating illnesses especially without the use of drugs or surgery let off steam idiomatic expression relieve – v. to reduce or remove (something, such as pain or an unpleasant feeling) entertainment – n. amusement or pleasure that comes from watching a performer, playing a game, etc. meditation – n. the act or process of spending time in quiet thought prescribe – v. : to officially tell someone to use (a medicine, therapy, diet, etc.) as a remedy or treatment gambling – n. the practice or activity of betting money : the practice of risking money in a game or bet casino – n. a building or room that has games (such as roulette or blackjack) for gambling catharsis – n. formal : the act or process of releasing a strong emotion (such as pity or fear) especially by expressing it in an art form  

Art Lover Buys Digital Work for $6.6 Million

When a painting by a famous artist like Vincent Van Gogh sells for millions of dollars, it makes headlines. But what about a digital work made by a current artist? Would you expect it to sell for $6.6 million? That is exactly what happened last week, with a 10-second video made by the artist known as BEEPLE. Last year, an art collector from Florida bought Beeple’s video for about $67,000. Last week, the collector sold the video for $6.6 million. The video artwork shows former U.S. President Donald Trump on the ground, with his body covered in slogans – phrases used by groups to gain attention. The marketplace for digital work is growing quickly. Thanks to software that guarantees a digital file is unique, such art buys are becoming more common. The software is called blockchain. It acts as a “digital signature” and proves that an item that may only exist virtually is one-of-a-kind. Beeple’s real name is Mike Winkelmann. He has another digital work of art that is being sold by Christie’s, a famous auction company. The artwork is a collection of 5,000 photos. So far, offers have reached $3 million. When the auction ends, Christie’s will accept payment in traditional money or in the virtual currency known as Ether. Noah Davis works for Christie’s. He said, “We are in unknown territory.” It’s not just artwork that is being sold this way. For many years, people have traded sports cards -- thick pieces of paper that had pictures of sports stars. Eventually, some of those sports cards became valuable and would sell for many thousands of dollars. Sports cards are still popular, but some sports leagues are moving into the digital world, as well. For example, the National Basketball Association has a new marketplace for trading short videos, called Top Shot. Short videos of big moments from games, like a dunk by LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, are selling for thousands of dollars. The largest sale on the site so far came in February, when a user bought the dunk by James for $208,000. One Top Shot user told the Reuters news agency he had bought items on the marketplace for about $1 million and re-sold them for almost $5 million. Experts in the business of buying and selling digital items say people are getting more used to the idea of owning something they cannot touch. Andrew Steinwold runs an investment fund that buys and then re-sells these digital files. The fund started in January with a value of $6 million. While he said he warns investors to be careful with their money, he also thinks there is the possibility for the market for digital files to increase over time. “I think it’s going to reach into the trillions of dollars one day,” he said. I’m Dan Friedell. Elizabeth Howcroft and Ritvik Carvalho wrote this story for the Reuters news agency. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor. What do you think about the digital sales? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and visit our Facebook page. ______________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   digital –n. using or characterized by computer technology unique –adj. belonging to or connected with only one particular thing, place, or person signature –n. a person's name written in that person's handwriting virtual –adj. existing or occurring on computers or on the Internet auction –n. a public sale at which things are sold to the people who offer to pay the most dunk –n.  the act of jumping high in the air and pushing (the ball) down through the basket fund –n. an amount of money that is used for a special purpose item –n. an individual thing

Myanmar Brings More Charges Against Suu Kyi, Protests Continue

Myanmar’s former leader Aung San Suu Kyi appeared at a court hearing using video conferencing on Monday. Her supporters, however, marched in several towns and cities. They ignored a crackdown following the deadliest day since February 1, the day that the military seized power in the country. Suu Kyi appeared to be in good health during her appearance before a court in the capital Naypyidaw, one of her lawyers said. Two more charges were added to those already brought against her after the military takeover, she said. “I saw Amay on the video, she looks healthy,” lawyer Min Min Soe told Reuters. She used the respectful word for “mother” to describe Suu Kyi, as many people in the country do. Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize-winner. She also leads the National League for Democracy (NLD). She has not been seen in public since the military dismissed parliament. She was detained along with other party leaders at that time. At first, she was charged with importing six illegal communications devices. Later, the charge of violating coronavirus restriction laws was added. On Monday, two more charges were added. The first was illegally publishing information that may “cause fear or alarm.” A lawyer said the other charge was under a telecommunications law that requires special permission for some equipment. The next hearing will be on March 15. Critics of the military’s seizure of power say the charges were false. ‘Severe action’ Police fired tear gas and noise makers to break up hundreds of protesters in the main city of Yangon on Monday, witnesses said. They later searched streets firing rubber bullets. Local media reported that least one person was hurt. Demonstrators also marched on Monday in the northwestern town of Kale holding up pictures of Suu Kyi. A live video stream on Facebook showed protestors in the northeastern city of Lashio. Police and soldiers later raided a Christian religious center in the town and detained 11 people, a Christian group said in a statement. There have been protests in Myanmar every day since the military took power after claiming that the November election, won by the NLD, was unfair. The protests are becoming increasingly violent as police and the military try to stop them. On Sunday, police fired on protestors in several places killing 18 people, the United Nations human rights office said. “We have to continue the protest no matter what,” Thar Nge said after police forced him and others to leave a Yangon street. “This is my neighborhood. It’s a lovely neighborhood but now we’re hearing gunfire and we don’t feel safe,” he added. The military has not commented on Sunday’s violence. Police and military spokesmen did not answer requests for comment. The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper warned that “severe action will inevitably be taken” against protestors. The military’s takeover brought an end to Myanmar’s small steps toward democracy that followed nearly 50 years of military rule. The action has been condemned by Western countries and concern is growing among Myanmar’s neighbors. Foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are expected to discuss the situation on Tuesday during a video meeting. Myanmar is a member of ASEAN. The organization will listen “to the representative of the Myanmar military,” Singapore’s foreign minister, Vivian Balakrishnan, told parliament. Balakrishnan called for the security forces to stop using deadly force, for Suu Kyi to be released, and for talks to find a way back to democracy. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken denounced what he called “abhorrent violence” by security forces. Canada’s foreign minister, Marc Garneau, called the use of deadly force “appalling.” U.N. special rapporteur Tom Andrews said the international community had to answer Myanmar’s military because it will continue to use deadly force. He suggested an arms embargo, more sanctions on military businesses and sending cases to the International Criminal Court. “We must act,” Andrews said in a statement. I’m Susan Shand. The Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor. ____________________________________________________________ Words in This Story   crackdown – n. a serious attempt to punish people for doing something this is not permitted; a sudden increased effort to enforce the rule of law inevitably –adv. in a way that is sure to happen abhorrent – adj. causing or deserving strong dislike or hatred appalling – adj. very bad, in a way that causes fear or shock rapporteur – n. (foreign) a person whose job is to do research and present official reports on a subject sanctions – n.(pl.) actions taken to force a country to obey international law by limiting or stopping trade or cutting economic aid We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section, and visit our Facebook page.

Reporter Helps Get Sports Gear to US Children in Need

  Rhiannon Potkey writes about sports for a newspaper in Tennessee. She learned through that work that some young people did not have good sports equipment, or gear. She decided to do something about it. Potkey started an aid group called Goods4Greatness. The charity connects teams and children who need sports equipment with donors. Like Aubree Munro. Munro is a player on the U.S.A. Women’s softball team. She was hoping to compete at the Olympics in Japan last year. When the event was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, Munro started cleaning out her home in Florida. She realized she had a lot of extra sports equipment. Munro had heard about Potkey’s organization. So she sent pictures of the gear she no longer needed. Potkey helped find people in Florida who could use the softball equipment. Munro said by making the donation, she was “paying it forward.” This means to do good for someone as a thanks for the help other people give you. One person who got some of her softball equipment was a girl who reminded Munro of herself when she was young. “That one was particularly special,” she said. “I had a lot of people do really great things for me when I was growing up.” Munro said doing something nice for a stranger made her feel good. Many people have donated to Goods4Greatness. The softball team at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina donated used equipment. Former U.S. Women’s Soccer star Julie Foudy donated 100 soccer balls. Colleges in states including Georgia, California and Colorado sent equipment, too. The U.S. is a big place. Potkey said her group saves on expenses by finding donors in the same areas as those who need the equipment. Jarrett Walls is the tennis coach at a high school near Raleigh, North Carolina. He said many of his players never would have tried the sport if it had not been for the donation from Potkey’s charity. Last year, he said, only seven girls tried to play tennis. This year, he has about 30. Potkey said she enjoys helping children play sports. But, there is one problem: space. The donations take up an entire room in her home. She said she hopes to someday do the aid work full time. “I feel like there’s so much more need that I could help,” Potkey said. I’m Dan Friedell.   Teresa M. Walker wrote this story for the Associated Press. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor. What sports gear would you be able to donate? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section and visit our Facebook page. ________________________________________________________________   Words in This Story   remind –v. to make (someone) think about something again : to cause (someone) to remember something particularly –adv. more than usual charity –n. the organizations that help people in need