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Learning English - Words in the News
23 July, 2007 - Published 16:19 GMT
US presidential candidates questioned via YouTube
a guinea-pig
US presidential candidates are being asked whether voters are being treated like guinea-pigs

In the United States, a political debate with a difference; next year's presidential candidates will be questioned by voters via YouTube, the public access video website. Keith Adams reports on this growing role of the internet in American politics:

Listen to the story

Some of the 3000 questions submitted to YouTube for Monday's debate come from unlikely sources: a melting snowman asks about global warming, a tube of toothpaste asks about traffic congestion and a guinea pig asks if politicians are treating the voters like, yes, guinea pigs. But aside from the gimmicks, the vast majority of questions are short video clips, captured on computer-mounted cameras, from ordinary Americans:

(Montage of YouTube political questions)

Do you believe that the 2nd amendment gives all Americans the right to keep and carry firearms for defence…

We have 15,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan, yet they're still the leading producer of opium…

Out of the 80,000 chemicals we use in this country, only 12 have been specifically…

Everyday, thousands of jobs are lost to low-wage workers in countries like China and India. If elected, what would you do to stop this?

In 1960, when a nervous, sweating Richard Nixon faced a well-groomed, confident John F Kennedy in a televised debate, it was said the medium had arrived as the most powerful political tool. The same cannot perhaps be said yet for the internet - but it is now playing a significant role in campaigning. Candidates are posting their own blogs and video clips, and Hilary Clinton has even appeared in the virtual world, "Second Life". And how else would this cat from the West Coast get to collar the candidates directly?

"My name is Catsa and I have a question about the safety of cat food coming from China...Mioaowwww....."

Keith Adams, BBC News

Listen to the words

sent to, given to for inclusion

unlikely sources
unexpected people or places

snow that's been formed to look like the shape of a person

a guinea pig
a small furry mammal without a tail that's usually kept as a pet

unusual things or actions that are used to attract attention or publicity

perspiring, producing a salty liquid through the skin when hot, ill or afraid

carrying out a series of activities to achieve political change, here through votes

publishing, making available

online diaires

to collar
to force someone to give you their attention, here, in order to answer specific questions

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