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July 22nd, 2011 at 07:42am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

The Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa has raised hopes and dreams. But can it raise money to invest in a better future? How to respond to the Arab uprisings was a major question for world leaders this week at the Group of Eight meeting in France. Earlier in the week, the head of the World Bank said international support can speed progress but only if coupled with real reform. World Bank President Robert Zoellick offered loans to Egypt and Tunisia. Tunisians and Egyptians led democracy protests that overthrew their presidents early this year. President Obama discussed American development plans in his Middle East policy speech last week at the State Department. BARACK OBAMA: The goal must be a model in which protectionism gives way to openness, the reins of commerce pass from the few to the many and the economy generates jobs for the young. Americas support for democracy will therefore be based on ensuring financial stability, promoting reform and integrating competitive markets with each other and the global economy. And we are going to start with Tunisia and Egypt. The World Bank will offer Egypt four and a half billion dollars in loans over the next two years. The money would be part of a plan with the International Monetary Fund to help control Egypts budget deficit. The goal is to improve the countrys credit rating in order to ease the concerns of investors and reduce borrowing costs. About two billion dollars in loans would be linked to progress in government reforms. The World Bank also promised at least one billion dollars for Tunisia. Twenty years ago, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development was created to help former communist countries after the fall of the Soviet Union. Now, that bank could invest up to three and a half billion dollars in the Middle East and North Africa. About four hundred million people live in those two areas. A majority are under the age of thirty. The anger of the many educated but unemployed young people has been a driving force in the Arab Spring movement. Oil is the main export for many of the countries. Yet a recent World Bank study showed that oil has not done much to raise wages. Income growth continues to fall behind East Asia and South America.

Over the years, private investment has been limited largely to the oil industry. But there are some efforts to change that. In March, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised two billion dollars through a government agency known as OPIC. OPIC is the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. It works with Americans businesses to invest in projects in developing countries. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Im Steve Ember. By admin 18 comments

Who Should Be the Next Chief of the IMF?


July 12th, 2011 at 07:34am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. The International Monetary Fund will need to find a new leader. Dominique Strauss-Kahn has resigned as managing director. Mr. Strauss-Kahn is charged with a sexual attack on a cleaning woman at a New York hotel last Saturday. He said in a resignation letter released Thursday by the IMF that he denies the charges with the greatest possible firmness. His fall has especially shocked Europe. The IMF is currently playing a major part in rescue loans to Greece, Ireland and Portugal. European nations have increasingly depended on the fund to help them in their recent struggles with debt. The IMF and the World Bank grew out of an international conference held in the United States in nineteen forty-four. They were created as ways to support economic cooperation and development. Both are both based in Washington. The World Bank has traditionally been led by an American and the IMF by a European. But fast-growing economies in the developing world say it is time for a change. Officials from Brazil, China and India say Mr. Strauss-Kahns replacement should come from outside Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, leader of Europes biggest economy, disagrees. ANGELA MERKEL: In the present situation, when we have significant problems with the euro and the IMF is very much involved there, there should be a European candidate with support from the international community. The main job of the IMF is to help make sure payments flow smoothly between nations. Sometimes this means providing loans so governments can meet debt payments.

The money it lends comes mostly from quotas financial promises made by its members. One hundred eighty-seven nations belong to the IMF. The lender currently has about two hundred fifty billion dollars in approved loans. Most of these loans have not yet been used, or drawn down. What effect the resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn will have is unclear. He was praised as a skillful negotiator in dealing with Europe and the global financial crisis. STEPHANIE RICKARD: But the actual negotiations of the loan conditions on the ground is done by technocratic economists, staff members at the IMF, and theyre going to continue to do their job. Stephanie Rickard is an expert on the IMF and World Bank at the London School of Economics. Dominique Strauss-Kahn became managing director in two thousand seven. The Frenchman widely known as DSK is a member of Frances Socialist party. Before his arrest, he was considered a leading candidate for Frances presidential election next year. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report. Im Mario Ritter. By admin 7 comments Previous Posts

Economy Report
You Are Your Brand: Using Social Media to Find a Job
July 6th, 2011 at 07:55am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Today we share some ideas for job hunters about presenting yourself online. Ben Kirshner is chief executive of a New York company he started in two thousand four. Elite SEM, or search engine marketing, has about twenty-five employees. Many companies use headhunters recruiting services that find workers for high-paying positions. But Mr. Kirshner says that can be costly. BEN KIRSHNER: Probably, for a one-hundred-fifty-thousand-dollar-a-year employee it would cost me in the range of ten to fifteen thousand dollars. He saves money by advertising jobs online and using social media. Sometimes finding the right person this way can take time. But recently Mr. Kirshner posted a job on the

advertising site Craigslist. He says he had one hundred fifty good candidates within four hours. He says his company does not use sites that offer to search the Web for information about job candidates. His company does that itself. Social networks and other websites can provide a lot of details about peoples lives. As Ben Kirshner points out, that may even include personal information that employment laws prevent employers from asking. BEN KIRSHNER: Things we are not legally allowed to ask in an interview, we can find because theyre publicly displaying it on the social networks. Leslie Stevenson directs the Career Development Center at the University of Richmond in Virginia. For young job-seekers, she says, the barrier between public and private is changing. LESLIE STEVENSON: In the past two years, candidates are not seeing social media as a place that we have to keep private from prospective employers but as a tool that will assist in my search. To do that, job-seekers need to carefully develop their online image. Ben Kirshner says an important part of that is managing public and private details on social media. BEN KIRSHNER: You are your brand. So everything you do online reflects who you are personally and professionally. He thinks a willingness to share experiences and skills will lead to a more open workplace. BEN KIRSHNER: I think there will be sites and services coming out that will make people even more transparent about what they do at their job. Even the kinds of links you share with other people on Facebook or other sites are part of your image. Image is one thing. But you also need skills. And career specialist Leslie Stevenson says that includes soft skills. LESLIE STEVENSON: Soft skills are the skills that help people communicate in the workplace. Theyre all of the things you bring to the table, such as your communication, how you interact both with your teammates, with potential clients. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report. You can find last weeks report about finding a job online at voaspecialenglish.com. Were also on Facebook at VOA Learning English. Im Mario Ritter. By admin 22 comments

Bernanke Meets the Press in a First for US Central Bank


June 24th, 2011 at 07:16am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Central bankers have to choose their words carefully. So they often say little in public or little that makes sense. But the United States central bank says it is trying to be more clear and timely in communicating its policies. The latest example: a press conference by Chairman Ben Bernanke. Wednesdays event was the first of its kind in the ninety-eight-year history of the Federal Reserve. In his opening comments. Mr. Bernanke explained a decision by the Federal Open Market Committee to leave its main short-term interest rate near zero. The committee had just completed a two-day meeting. BEN BERNANKE: The committee continues to anticipate that the economic conditions including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends and stable inflation expectations are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate for an extended period. In other words, the economy is not growing fast enough to worry about inflation. A reporter asked what an extended period means to the Fed. Mr. Bernanke said it suggests a couple of meetings probably but it all depends on the economy. The chairman said it is very hard to blame the American public for being impatient with the speed of the recovery. But he pointed out that unemployment is still high 8.8 percent in March. Oil and gasoline prices are high. And the housing market remains very weak. The committee said it will complete purchases of six hundred billion dollars in Treasury securities in June. The Fed launched the bond buying program late last year in an effort to keep interest rates low and strengthen the economy. Some economists say this second round of what is known as quantitative easing, or QE2, has not been effective. Mr. Bernanke disagreed and pointed to examples like gains in stock prices. The Fed has two main goals for its monetary policy: the highest possible employment rates and stable prices. The bank faced criticism for intervening either too little to some critics or too much to others in the financial crisis. The press conference produced no surprises. Yet, as recently as the middle of the nineteen nineties, the Fed did not even release its decisions or its interest rate targets to the public.

Today the Fed is trying to reach out to Americans through ways like this video on its website. BEN BERNANKE: Hi, Im Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve System. The Fed, as its often called, is the central bank of the United States The Fed announced in March that Mr. Bernanke will hold four press briefings a year. The next of three planned for this year will follow a decision on interest rates in June. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report. Im Mario Ritter. ___ By admin 19 comments

Gold Keeps Shining, 40 Years After Nixon Ended Gold Standard


June 12th, 2011 at 07:51am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. The best example of something is often called the gold standard. It sets the standard against which other things are measured. In economics, the term describes how major trading nations once used gold to set currency values and exchange rates. Many nations continued to use the gold standard until the last century. In the United States, people could exchange paper money for gold from the eighteen seventies until nineteen thirty-three. President Richard Nixon finally disconnected the dollar from the value of gold in nineteen seventy-one. Some politicians from time to time call for a return to the gold standard. But in nineteen seventy-eight the International Monetary Fund ended an official gold price. The IMF also ended the required use of gold in transactions with its member countries. Since that time, gold prices have grown, but unevenly. Prices uncorrected for inflation are now at record highs. The current price is above fourteen hundred dollars an ounce. But people keep buying. Neang Chan Nuon is a gold shop owner in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. NEANG CHAN NUON: Some of my customers have even bought more as they believe the price will probably go higher. I sell more gold at these higher prices.

Some people are gold bugs. These are investors who say people should buy gold to protect against inflation. People have valued gold for thousands of years. The soft, dense metal polishes to a bright yellow shine and resists most chemical reactions. It makes a good material for money, political power and, more recently, electrical power. If you own a device like a mobile phone or a computer, you might own a little gold in the wiring. The gold standard was the subject of one of the best-known speeches in American political history. It took place at the eighteen ninety-six Democratic National Convention in Chicago. William Jennings Bryan wanted the country to use both gold and silver as money. The idea was to devalue the dollar and make it easier for farmers to pay their debts. Here is Bryan reading his speech much later, in nineteen twenty-one. WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN: You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold. The speech made William Jennings Bryan famous. He was a presidential candidate three times. But he never won. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Im Steve Ember.
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Economy Report
Obama Enters 2012 Race on Good News About Jobs
June 6th, 2011 at 07:39am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Most of the news in Washington this week was about the budget talks to prevent a shutdown of many government services at midnight Friday. But this week, President Obama also announced his plans to seek re-election in November of next year. In an e-mail to supporters, Mr. Obama said the race may not reach full speed for a year or more. But he said the work of building the campaign must start today.

Some of that work will depend on how many jobs are created in the months ahead. Mr. Obama welcomed last Fridays report that the United States economy added two hundred sixteen thousand jobs in March. The unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of one percent for the second straight month. The Labor Department says unemployment is now 8.8 percent, the lowest in two years. And some economists say this spring may be the start of better news to come. Consumer spending has increased eight months in a row. Stephen Hess is a political scientist who studies the presidency at the Brookings Institution in Washington. STEPHEN HESS: The next election will, more than anything else, depend on employment in the United States. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis called attention to the fact that the economy has added jobs for twelve months in a row. HILDA SOLIS: We need to be reminded that weve added jobs 1.5 million private sector jobs, and that, I think, its right where we need to be. But we need to continue to not lose sight of where we need to go to increase opportunities for people to get employed in new jobs. This week, President Obama filled a top job in his party. He chose Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida to head the Democratic National Committee. She replaces Tim Kaine who plans to run for the Senate from Virginia next year. Among Republicans, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty recently formed a committee to explore a presidential campaign. Several other Republicans are also considering races for their partys nomination. The latest jobs report showed that thirteen and a half million Americans remained unemployed in March. Another concern is that oil prices remain over one hundred dollars a barrel. High energy prices could threaten the recovery from the recession. This week, Portugal became the latest member of the European Union with heavy debts to request emergency loans. Opposition parties refused to accept budget cuts proposed by Prime Minister Jose Socrates two weeks ago. Portugals borrowing costs rose sharply Wednesday as it sold almost one and a half billion dollars in short-term securities. Portugal may seek more than one hundred billion dollars in loans, joining Greece and Ireland in receiving aid. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report. Im Doug Johnson. ___

Contributing: Mil Arcega, Jim Malone, Carolyn Presutti and Mario Ritter By admin 11 comments

Microsoft Says Google Blocks Competition in Europe Search Market


May 30th, 2011 at 08:50am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Microsoft has fought legal battles with officials in Europe and the United States over competition in the personal computer market. But now Microsoft is accusing Google of being anti-competitive. A complaint to the European Commission accuses Google of unfairly controlling the Internet search market in Europe. Google is already talking to the commission about the issue and says it is happy to explain to anyone how its business works. Google also faces other issues. Gmail users in China began reporting problems with Googles e-mail service in late February. The problems came as news of the revolutions in the Arab world filled the Internet and there were online calls for protests in China. Google said the government was interfering with its e-mail service. (SOUND) Last week, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu called the accusations unacceptable. But Google spokeswoman Jessica Powell said the company stood by its earlier comments. JESSICA POWELL: This is a government blockage, carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail. Google is the world leader in Internet search. But in China, the biggest search engine is Baidu. And this week, Chinas largest Internet media company, Sina, dropped Googles search engine from its website. Sina says it is using its own technology. An estimated four hundred fifty million Chinese are online about half of all Internet users in Asia. Last year, Google said a cyberattack from China had attempted to get information from the Gmail accounts of human rights activists. Google also expressed concerns about censorship. So Google relocated its Chinese search engine from the mainland to Hong Kong.

The company is also facing new problems at home. A federal judge in New York has ruled against its plan to put millions of books online. Google wants to create a digital library of all the worlds books. It reached a one hundred twenty-five million dollar deal in two thousand eight with groups representing writers and publishers. Google agreed to create a system to pay copyright holders when their works are used online. But Judge Denny Chin rejected the proposed settlement. He said it gives Google monopoly control of the book search market. But he left open the possibility for a new plan. On a similar issue, Baidu says it has removed almost three million documents from its library. Writers have complained that Baidu did not have permission for their works to appear on its document-sharing site. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter and available online at voaspecialenglish.com. Im Steve Ember. ___

How High Will the Price of Oil Go This Time?


Posted by admin on May 10th, 2011 at 08:15am This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Unrest in North Africa and the Middle East has pushed oil prices back into the news. Prices have been rising at their fastest level since two thousand eight. Libya is not among the ten largest oil exporters. But the rebellion against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has reduced production, affecting the global market. This month, oil prices rose above one hundred dollars a barrel. Prices went above one hundred forty-five dollars a barrel in two thousand eight. The price of oil affects prices and demand for energy, plastics, farm chemicals and many other products made with petroleum. During the last week of February, Americans paid the second biggest weekly increase in gasoline prices in twenty years. This young woman has to drive a long way to school, so high gas prices mean less money for other things.

WOMAN: I am a college student and I have to drive forty-five minutes to college, so it sucks. The United States has a Strategic Petroleum Reserve that contains more than seven hundred million barrels of oil. President Obama could use some of this emergency supply to help ease fuel prices. But intervening in the market could hurt oil production in the United States. Oil prices have been rising at a bad time, just as many economies have been recovering from the global recession. Also, several countries in the euro area are still struggling with debt crises. European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said last week that strong vigilance is needed to contain inflation. That could mean raising interest rates which could hurt European countries heavily in debt. In the United States, higher fuel prices come just as General Motors and Chrysler show signs of recovery after their reorganizations. American car sales last month were twenty-seven percent higher than last February. GM led all carmakers with a forty-seven percent increase. High fuel prices reduce demand for big cars and trucks. But economist George Magliano says this time, high prices may be good for carmakers. GEORGE MAGLIANO: With gasoline prices higher, certain people might want to get a much more fuel-efficient vehicle and I dont mean even a hybrid or an electric vehicle which they could do, but the gasoline vehicles get twenty-five, thirty percent better mileage today than they did three or four years ago. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Share your stories about what high fuel prices mean to you at voaspecialenglish.com or on Facebook at VOA Learning English. Im Steve Ember. ___

Future Payments for Retirees Are Big Issue Now for US States
May 4th, 2011 at 11:08am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. State and local governments across the United States are facing big budget deficits. Many of these shortfalls include promises of future retirement payments for public employees.

Several states have had to borrow money for pension plans that have fallen below required funding levels. Pay and benefits for public workers have been a target as state and local governments try to cut spending. At the same time, there are efforts in several states to reduce the negotiating rights of public employees. In many cases, public employee unions have agreed to accept lower pay. But they oppose efforts to limit collective bargaining. An effort by Republicans to do that in Wisconsin has led protesters to occupy the state capitol building. Almost every state requires a balanced budget. Yet worries that state and local governments might not be able to repay their debts are now adding to the costs of borrowing. Illinois had to offer a high return of nearly six percent on bonds to be repaid by twenty nineteen. Experts say, on average, public employees are paid less but have better benefits than workers with similar skills in private jobs. However, they say these differences in labor costs are a lot less than some people think. Still, traditional pension plans pay a set amount for as long as a retiree lives. States like Georgia, Michigan, Colorado and Ohio are considering a change for future employees. They might offer retirement plans similar to what are called 401(k) plans. These are a common form of plan offered by private employers. Employers and workers both put money into the plan. Workers can invest the money in areas like stocks or bonds. Their retirement savings are defined by the return on their investments in the plan. Federal workers already have a savings plan similar to a 401(k). John McGlennon heads the Government Department at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He says the economic crisis of two thousand eight continues to affect state and local tax collections. Also, many pension funds have less money because their investments have yet to fully recover from the recession. But Professor McGlennon says things could change. JOHN McGLENNON: In terms of the future, states are not necessarily going to be in a rosy condition in the next couple of years. But they do tend to recover much more rapidly than we tend to anticipate. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. For more business news, go to voaspecialenglish.com. Im Steve Ember.
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Economy Report
A Stock Market Big Enough to Stretch Across the Atlantic
April 13th, 2011 at 02:05pm Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. A ten-billion-dollar deal aims to create the worlds largest exchange company. The plan would combine the operators of the New York Stock Exchange and Germanys Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The two companies, NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Borse, announced the agreement Tuesday. Deutsche Borse shareholders would own about sixty percent of the combined group. One thing it still needs is a name. The new company would have headquarters in Frankfurt and New York. The New York Stock Exchange is the worlds most famous stock market and a symbol of American capitalism. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says New York will remain at the heart of the worlds financial system for a long time to come. But the exchange business has changed in these days of high-speed trading by computers in a globally connected economy. The Big Board now has to compete with smaller exchanges. Where stocks are traded has become less important than how much those trades cost. NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Borse had profits of almost four and a half billion dollars last year. They expect to save four hundred million dollars a year by combining their operations. These savings could lower the cost of stock orders. But the size of the company could raise concerns about competition in the exchange industry. The new company would also have trading operations in Britain, France and other European countries. Stock trading and other financial services would remain important to the combined company. But much of its income is expected to come from trading complex financial products called derivatives.

The deal requires approval by American and European officials and by shareholders. Other exchange operators, like the CME Group, could try to offer a higher price for NYSE Euronext. The CME Group, operator of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, is one of the worlds largest traders of derivatives. Duncan Niederauer, chief executive of NYSE Euronext, is expected to keep that job in the new company. He says combining with Deutsche Borse will make the company more competitive. DUNCAN NIEDERAUER: This not only creates the worlds premier exchange group, but theres a word we all want you to focus on today, and that is diversified. This will position us to compete on what is increasing a global landscape in a very competitive industry. Last week the operators of the London and Toronto stock exchanges announced a deal to combine their companies. And the Singapore Exchange offered in October to merge with Australias exchange. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Im Steve Ember. By admin 17 comments

Egypt Not Alone in Its Economic Problems


March 29th, 2011 at 09:06am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Egypt is the biggest of the nations hit by recent protests in North Africa and the Middle East. One of the causes of this spreading wave of popular dissatisfaction is a lack of economic progress. Egypt is not a major oil exporter and its economy is not big enough to affect world economic growth. But important pipelines cross Egypt. And Egypt controls the Suez Canal. About eight percent of world shipping passes through this link between Europe and Asia. That includes two million barrels of oil each day, mainly to Europe.

Many experts say they expect the canal to remain open. Still, concerns about the Suez have pushed oil prices to their highest levels since two thousand eight. Fariborz Ghadar heads the Center for Global Business Studies at Penn State University. He says poverty in Egypt remains high up to forty percent in some areas. Yet Egypt is not alone. Foreign investors worry about corruption, mismanagement and security problems across North Africa and the Middle East.

Every year millions of young people enter the job market. Populations are young and fast growing. In Egypt, the economy grew about five percent last year too little growth to create enough jobs. Fariborz Ghadar says the United States in a good year creates fewer than two million jobs. FARIBORZ GHADAR: Europe and the US together generate three million jobs. [The] Middle East alone to keep their youth employed has to generate six, seven, eight million jobs. So they have to produce two or three times as many jobs as the total US and total European economies. Fariborz Ghadar says protests could spread to bigger economies. FARIBORZ GHADAR: So the mismanagement of the Iranian economy could in fact see a backlash of the Iranian population because their food prices are going up too. Their inflation is going up, too. The World Bank has praised Egypt for cutting barriers to trade. But economist Deborah Hewitt at the College of William & Mary in Virginia says private foreign investment remains weak. She says those investments have grown quickly from almost nothing eight years ago. But they are still not enough to lift the economy. Professor Hewitt says Egypt could look to reforms in Morocco that have appealed to investors. Morocco has strengthened its education system and invested in roads, ports and electric power. She says investments like these not only put people to work. They also create the basis for future economic and political development.

DEBORAH HEWITT: With economic growth and expansion comes the desire for more political freedom. And the two go hand in hand. They feed on each other. And thats the Special English Economics Report written by Mario Ritter. Im Steve Ember. By admin 11 comments

Looking for Answers to Rising Coffee Prices


March 21st, 2011 at 09:00am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Food prices are at their highest level since the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization began keeping records in nineteen ninety. The causes include bad weather and growing demand. Some experts also blame the use of food crops to make fuel. But higher food prices are not always the result of limited supplies. Coffee prices have jumped almost fifty percent in six months. Prices have reached a thirteen-year high. Yet growers expect their current crop to be almost ten percent bigger than the last one. JM Smucker is an American company known for its jellies and fruit spreads. But Smucker also owns Folgers, Americas top-selling packaged coffee. And it owns Dunkin Donuts, which sells coffee to wash down the doughnuts at its stores. On Tuesday, Smucker said it would raise the prices of its coffee products by an average of ten percent. It said the increase is driven by the higher prices for coffee beans. Experts say coffee prices are rising mainly because people are willing to pay more. Coffee sellers like Mark Warmuth say tastes are changing and more people want a good cup of coffee. MARK WARMUTH: Theres no right or wrong answer with regard to Whats a good cup of coffee? A lot of it has to do with personal preference or taste. Mark Warmuth owns the M.E. Swing Coffee Company in Alexandria, Virginia, near Washington. He says big coffee sellers like Starbucks help his business by building a base of customers who want something better. MARK WARMUTH: Theyre seeking something that would be better than what they can buy at Starbucks. Theyre seeking out smaller, boutique, artisan, craft coffee roasters, which I consider us to be, a boutique coffee roasting company. What we can do is source

better quality beans and supply them at a fresher level because were smaller and we can cater to the smaller metro area. That helps us compete with bigger companies. Yet Mr. Warmuth can thank those bigger companies like Starbucks for spreading the idea of coffee as an affordable luxury. The thinking goes that during hard times, people might not go on a trip but they might be willing to pay extra for good coffee. The company supplies restaurants and other businesses, but also has a store in Washington near the White House. Customers pay thirteen dollars for less than half a kilogram of beans about double the price of other brands. Greater demand for high-quality coffee has helped drive coffee prices higher. That includes greater demand among Brazilians. Brazil is the worlds largest exporter of coffee. People in India are also drinking more coffee. Starbucks just announced plans to enter that market in a deal with Indias Tata Coffee company. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Im Steve Ember. By admin 36 comments

Next Google Chief Knows Company; Jobs Latest Leave at Apple


March 17th, 2011 at 08:56am Under Economy Report Correction attached This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Changes are taking place in Silicon Valley in California. Larry Page will replace Eric Schmidt as chief executive at Google. And Apples chief, Steve Jobs, is taking another medical leave. Two years ago Mr. Jobs received a new liver. In two thousand four he had pancreatic cancer. This months announcement did not say how long he might be away or give a reason. Apple reported record-high earnings for the final three months of last year. But the health of Steve Jobs always brings questions about the future of the company. He helped start Apple Computer in nineteen seventy-six. Today the company that played a big part in the personal computing revolution just calls itself Apple. Its products include the iPod and iPhone and its latest success, the iPad tablet computer.

Steve Jobs has long been Apples public face. But some might forget that he left in nineteen eighty-five to form a computer company called NeXT.

Manuel Perez-Quinones is a computer science professor at Virginia Tech. He says Apple has led the development of some technologies, but that explains only part of its success. MANUEL PEREZ-QUINONES: Apple has been a driver in some things and they have been a faithful adopter of good ideas in others. For example, he says many development tools associated today with Apple came from NeXT. MANUEL PEREZ-QUINONES: The development environment, the programming languages, some of the libraries that are used were things that Steve Jobs was very tightly connected to from the very beginning. But it was not necessarily at Apple. It came from NeXT Computer. Apple bought NeXT in nineteen ninety-six. Mr. Jobs rejoined Apple and became the permanent CEO in two thousand. Last May, Apple passed Microsoft in market value and became the most valuable technology company in the world. Mr. Jobs says he will remain chief executive officer and stay involved in major decisions during his medical leave. But he put Tim Cook, his chief operating officer, in control of daily operations. As Steve Jobs steps back at Apple, Eric Schmidt is stepping down at Google. Mr. Schmidt plans to leave his CEO job in April after almost ten years. He will remain on Googles board of directors. Larry Page was Googles founding CEO when he launched the company with Sergey Brin in nineteen ninety-eight. But Mr. Schmidt has been the public face of Google while Mr. Page has mainly worked on new products. Today Google is the world leader in Internet search and has products like the Android operating system for mobile devices. But Google is seen as trying to recapture the creative energy and speed of its early days. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Im Steve Ember. ___

Correction: An earlier version of this page incorrectly said Apple expects to sell 6 million iPads this year. It sold more than that just in the last three months of 2010. By admin 16 comments Next Posts Previous Posts

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Business English Speakers Can Still Be Divided by a Common Language


March 9th, 2011 at 08:50am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Business is the most popular subject for international students in the United States. At last count, twenty-one percent of foreign students at American colleges and universities were studying business and management. The Institute of International Education in New York says engineering is the second most popular field, in case you were wondering. Thomas Coss is a professor of marketing and business at the University of Richmond in Virginia. He says international students who want to study business need to have good English skills and not just to study at his school. THOMAS COSS: At least among business schools, more and more worldwide are requiring that their students take English, and they are teaching more in English. But the world has more non-native speakers of English than native speakers. As a result, Americans working with foreign companies may need to learn some new English skills themselves. At the University of Richmond, teams of graduate students work with companies seeking to enter the American market. The students learn about writing market entry studies. The reports are written in English. But Professor Coss tells his students to consider who will read them. THOMAS COSS: My students have to write the report in such a way that it can be understood by someone who is an English speaker but not a native English speaker.

For example, he tells his students to avoid jargon and other specialized terms that people might not know in their own language. This can be good advice even when writing for other native speakers. But effective communication involves more than just words. Kay Westerfield is director of the international business communication program at the University of Oregon. KAY WESTERFIELD: If you just have the language awareness or the skills without culture, you can easily be a fluent fool. Cultural intelligence means the need to consider local behaviors in everything from simple handshakes to speaking to large groups. Still, Kay Westerfield says the ability of local workers to speak English is becoming more important to companies looking to move operations to other countries. Or, as she puts it, to off-source. KAY WESTERFIELD: While cost remains a major factor in decisions about where to off-source, the quality of the labor pool is gaining importance, and this includes English language skills. Also, she says English skills often provide a competitive edge for business students when they seek jobs. KAY WESTERFIELD: As one business student in West Africa put it, English is a lifeline. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. You can read and listen to our programs and find activities for English learners at voaspecialenglish.com. Were also on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube at VOA Learning English. Im Steve Ember. By admin 37 comments

Facebook Finds New Friends in the World of Private Finance


February 23rd, 2011 at 09:18am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Facebook is the worlds biggest social network and the subject of the movie Social Network. (SOUND)

The real Mark Zuckerberg and his friends at Harvard University launched the site in two thousand four. Facebook says it reached five hundred million users last July. Now, the American bank Goldman Sachs and the Russian company Digital Sky Technologies have friended Facebook. They are investing a total of five hundred million dollars in the company. The deal values Facebook at fifty billion dollars more than many publicly traded Internet companies. Goldman Sachs is expected to raise a billion and a half dollars more by selling shares of ownership in Facebook to rich investors. The plan does not include a public stock offering at least not right now.

For now, Facebook would remain a private company meaning a company that does not sell shares to the public. The plan has brought new attention to the largely secretive world of private financing and the rules for private companies in the United States. The idea is that investors in public companies have protections that investors in private companies do not. The Securities and Exchange Commission says a private company must report financial information if it has five hundred shareholders or more. A new business, a startup company, is usually considered too risky for average investors. But a promising startup may find a small number of private investors, often known as angels. These investors are willing to lose everything for a chance at big returns. Rikki Tahta has been involved in raising money for startups. He is now chairman of his own investment company, Covestor, with offices in New York and London.

Mr. Tahta compares the difference between public and private companies to the difference between marriage and dating. When people are dating, he says, there are understandings but few rules. In marriage, the rules are more clear and well-defined. In his opinion, the only real benefit for a private company is lower administrative and record-keeping costs. Yet he tells us Covestor remains a private company after a few years because it is still too risky for most investors. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. You can comment on our programs and find transcripts and MP3s at voaspecialenglish.com. Were on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube at VOA Learning English. Im Steve Ember. By admin 27 comments Next Posts Previous Posts

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Development Report
Hunger Rates Fall, but the Decrease Slows
November 10th, 2010 at 01:19am Under Development Report This is the VOA Special English Development Report. The latest Global Hunger Index report says the number of hungry people worldwide has fallen twenty-five percent since nineteen ninety. Last year the estimate topped one billion for the first time. But this years report says the number of people not getting enough to eat has fallen to nine hundred twenty-five million. Still, many experts worry that hunger rates are not falling fast enough to meet United Nations goals. One of the first of the Millennium Development Goals is to reduce the hunger rate by fifty percent between nineteen ninety and twenty fifteen. Caroline Hurford at the U.N. World Food Program says the reduction in hunger rates has slowed in recent years.

CAROLINE HURFORD: There has been a slight dropping off in the number of hungry people in the late nineteen nineties. But then it rose again, of course, during the financial crisis of two thousand seven-two thousand eight. And then the very high food prices, together with the high fuel prices, really knocked everything off track again. And then, of course, climate change has come in and thats made it more difficult to grow food. The Global Hunger Index is prepared by three private organizations based in Germany, the United States and Ireland. The latest report says twenty-nine countries have levels of hunger that are considered alarming. The biggest increases were found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The report says hunger has risen by more than sixty-five percent since nineteen ninety because of conflict and political insecurity. And Caroline Hurford says Congo is not alone. CAROLINE HURFORD: Clearly conflict is a huge problem as far as the actual growing of produce and crops is concerned. People cant necessarily tend their fields if they are always being chased away by armed rebels. A separate report says twenty-two countries have suffered from a hunger and food crisis for at least eight years. Twenty percent of the worlds hungry live in these countries, most of which are in Africa. That report is from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program. They say new policies are needed to deal with these long-term crises. Peter Smerdon at the World Food Program says emergency aid must include development assistance. PETER SMERDON: You have to do both things. You have to do both development and emergency assistance to keep people alive to reverse the situation. Otherwise, youre just going to be stuck in a protracted crisis, and have to keep trying to put out the fire. But youre not actually changing the structure of the crisis at all. Both reports were released ahead of World Food Day this past Saturday. And thats the VOA Special English Development Report, written by June Simms. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com. Im Mario Ritter. By admin 19 comments

Why Development Projects Fail: One Size Does Not Fit All
October 17th, 2010 at 12:19am Under Development Report

This is the VOA Special English Development Report. Last week we told you about FAILFaire, an event where people talk about international development projects that failed. Many of these projects started as good ideas. Others had some level of success, but not enough to have a measurable effect on the lives of people in developing countries. A nonprofit group in New York called MobileActive held the first FAILFaire earlier this year. MobileActive is made up of people and organizations that use technology to try to improve the lives of the poor. Katrin Verclas came up with the idea for FAILFaire as a way to help nonprofit groups improve by learning from the mistakes of others. Katrin Verclas: The primary goal is to learn from failure and not to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. And for a community of practitioners to benefit from the lessons learned from other people so that we can do better the next time around, collectively as a field, and individually as organizations and practitioners. Katrin Verclas says there are many reasons why projects fail, but one reason tops all others. She says development projects are not one size fits all, yet many people try to import ideas as if they were. What they fail to consider, she says, is the desires of the local people or their cultural, economic and political differences. She says the problem for many nongovernmental organizations and other groups is simply not knowing their audience.

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A Somali policeman helps a displaced Somali woman to carry food aid provided by a local NGO and the World Food Program in Mogadishu in May

Katrin Verclas: Western organizations, or NGOs, or donors in particular have particular ideas about what might be alleviating a particular problem in a developing country, without a really good understanding of the end users or the beneficiaries. The creator of FAILFaire says this is true not only with technology but other projects as well. Ms. Verclas hopes nonprofits in other industries and fields will create their own versions of FAILFaire. A second FAILFaire took place in July in Washington. The World Bank Institute cosponsored the event. To Katrin Verclas, it was a good sign to have the World Bank support such open discussions about failure. Katrin Verclas: We have a lot riding on this, after all. Its not just products; its peoples lives and well-being and livelihoods in many developing countries that were talking about. So its incumbent upon us to be very, very honest about what projects arent performing according to expectations. An award for the best worst failure story went to Michael Trucano from the World Bank Institute. What he presented was in fact a list. It was a list of what he considers the worst practices in the use of information and communication technologies in education. Mr. Trucano gets to keep the award until the next FAILFaire, which is expected to be held on the West Coast this fall. You can find a link to his list of the top ten worst practices at voaspecialenglish.com. And thats the VOA Special English Development Report, written by June Simms. Im Steve Ember. By admin 8 comments Previous Posts

World Bank Sees Progress on Development Goals


September 9th, 2010 at 03:02am Under Development Report This is the VOA Special English Development Report. The World Bank says most developing countries have made important progress toward the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Last week the international lender released its yearly World Development Indicators. Hundreds of indicators are used to measure progress in areas such as education, health, poverty, the environment and trade. One of the Millennium Development Goals is to reduce by half the number of people living in extreme poverty by twenty fifteen. Out of eighty-seven countries with data available, forty-nine seem likely to reach that goal. Extreme poverty is defined as earning less than one dollar a day. Another goal is to make education available to all young children. The report shows that in two thousand seven, seven out of ten children lived in developing countries that had met or were close to meeting that goal. Also, thirty-nine countries have achieved or are likely to achieve the goal of reducing child death rates. The target is a two-thirds reduction by twenty fifteen. And the report from the World Bank shows the first reduction in AIDS-related deaths. But even with all the progress, there is still a long way to go to reach all eight goals approved by world leaders ten years ago. This is especially true in sub-Saharan Africa, which falls behind on all of the goals. Eric Swanson is a program manager for the World Development Indicators. ERIC SWANSON: You have had a decade or more in Africa of very slow economic progress in the nineties. Youve had civil war and other disruptions, youve had poor governance in many countries that has not allowed the economy to grow and, in particular, has not allowed poor people to share in the benefits of growth. Still, he points to some hopeful signs including a large reduction in the child death rate in Malawi. ERIC SWANSON: Malawi is a landlocked state, it is one of the ones that we tend to worry most about, and yet it has demonstrated that when you focus attention on a problem you can make progress. Last week the World Bank also launched a new open data initiative. The bank will make its data on living conditions around the world publicly available. Officials say this will make it easier to measure the effects of policies and develop new solutions to help the worlds poor. And thats the VOA Special English Development Report, written by June Simms. You can comment on our programs and learn about other development issues at voaspecialenglish.com. You can find transcripts, MP3s and podcasts. You can also follow

us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and iTunes at VOA Learning English. Im Steve Ember. By admin 9 comments

Bringing Color to Life (and Tears to Eyes) With a Natural Dye


August 21st, 2010 at 07:04am Under Development Report This is the VOA Special English Development Report. Dye can bring a little color to life. Most clothing is colored with dyes. Modern, manufactured dyes can be costly. Natural dyes from plant and animal products have been used since ancient times. So this week, we describe a natural way to dye wool. The advice comes from information written by Jenny Dean of the Intermediate Technology Development Group in Britain. This anti-poverty group is now called Practical Action. There are several methods to put dye onto material. The vat method, for example, can be used to dye wool with onionskins. For this example, use one hundred grams of natural wool. The wool must be clean. Leave it overnight in water and liquid soap. Then wash it with clean water that is a little warm. Gently squeeze out the extra water. A solution called a mordant is used in the dying process. A mordant helps fix the dye to the material. Traditionally, mordants were found in nature. Wood ash is one example. But chemical mordants such as alum are popular today. Alum is sold in many stores. It is often mixed with cream of tartar, a fine powder commonly used in cooking. Mix eight grams of alum with seven grams of cream of tartar in a small amount of hot water. Add the solution to a metal pan of cool water. Next, add the wool and place the mixture over heat. Slowly bring the liquid to eighty-two degrees Celsius. Heat the mixture for forty-five minutes. After it cools, remove the wool and wash it. To prepare the dye solution, cover thirty grams of onionskins with water. Use only the dry, brown outer skins. Boil the liquid until the onionskins lose their color, about forty-five minutes,. Remove the skins after the dye cools. Now it is time to dye the wool. Place the wool into the dye and heat the mixture. Bring it to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to eighty-two degrees. Now heat the dye for about forty-five minutes or until the wool is the desired color. Keep in mind that wet wool looks darker than it is. Once the dye cools, remove the wool and wash it. Now the wool is orange or yellow. Or at least it should be.

Internet users can get the full details at practicalaction.org. Again, the address is practicalaction dot org. And enter the word dye, d-y-e, in the search box. We will post a link to the site at voaspecialenglish.com. And thats the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jill Moss. Im Steve Ember. By admin 2 comments Next Posts Previous Posts

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Shortage of Nurses Is Worldwide, but Worst in Poorer Nations


August 3rd, 2010 at 07:46am Under Development Report This is the VOA Special English Development Report. The health care industry needs more nurses. All areas of the world face a nursing shortage. But the shortage is most severe in developing countries. Many of their nurses leave. They move to more developed nations for better pay, better working conditions and better chances for career development. A World Bank report earlier this year called attention to the problem. For example, nearly two thousand nurses left the Caribbean between two thousand two and two thousand six. Caribbean nations currently have about one nurse for every one thousand people. The ratio of nurses to population is about ten times higher in the United States and countries in the European Union. Currently, more than twenty-one thousand nurses who trained in the Caribbean are working in the United States, Canada and Britain. Gaetan Lafortune is with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. He says the nursing shortage also affects industrialized countries. GAETAN LAFORTUNE: There are concerns in most O.E.C.D. countries that the number of nurses is too small to respond to the demand. And what is more worrying is that their concerns are sort of growing.

Mr. Lafortune says a large number of nurses are expected to retire within the next ten years. At the same time, the health care needs of aging populations are expected to grow, intensifying the shortage of nurses. GAETAN LAFORTUNE: In the U.S., for instance, some researchers have projected that there may be a shortage of close to a million nurses by two thousand twenty. The United States is one of thirty-one countries in the O.E.C.D. Gaetan Lafortune says in recent years many of the countries increased their efforts to hire foreign nurses. GAETAN LAFORTUNE: But this has raised concern that O.E.C.D. countries were mainly exporting their shortage problem to countries that may have an even greater need for these nurses. In May, the World Health Assembly approved a global code of practice on the international recruitment of health workers. The assembly is made up of countries in the World Health Organization. The code advises against actively recruiting health workers from developing countries that face severe shortages. The world also faces a shortage of nursing trainers. As a result, nursing schools are forced to turn away qualified students. And thats the VOA Special English Development Report, written by June Simms. You can find transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our reports at voaspecialenglish.com. What are your thoughts about the nursing shortage and what should be done about it? Share your comments on our website or on Facebook at VOA Learning English. Im Bob Gotkin. By admin 6 comments

On World No Tobacco Day, Special Attention Goes to Women, Girls


July 15th, 2010 at 02:56am Under Development Report Download Mp3 This is the VOA Special English Development Report. World No Tobacco Day is celebrated each thirty-first of May. The observance is meant to bring attention to the growing use of tobacco and its deadly effects. The World Health Assembly established the event in nineteen eighty-seven. This year, special attention is being given to the harmful effects of tobacco marketing to women and girls. The World Health Organization says tobacco kills nearly five and a half million people a year another victim every six seconds. Tobacco use is a top cause of death worldwide.

One billion people smoke. More than eighty percent of tobacco users live in low and middle income countries. The W.H.O. says the tobacco industry has increasingly directed its marketing campaigns at women and girls. Women currently represent about twenty percent of smokers. But tobacco use among girls is increasing. Data collected from one hundred fifty-one countries show that about seven percent of young girls now smoke. That compares with twelve percent of boys. In some countries, however, the rates are almost equal. Almost one hundred seventy countries have signed a treaty called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The W.H.O. is calling on those governments to ban tobacco advertising to the fullest extent possible and to do more to protect women. The agreement seeks to reduce the demand and supply of tobacco products. This year marks the fifth anniversary since the treaty went into effect. Eighty percent of the signers have banned the sale of tobacco products to young people. Seventy percent have required health warnings on tobacco products. The W.H.O. estimates that tobacco use caused one hundred million deaths in the twentieth century. If current rates continue, that number could reach one billion in this century. Events are planned in a number of countries to mark World No Tobacco Day. Many of the events are aimed at persuading people, especially the young, not to start smoking. Others aim to educate people about the many health benefits of quitting. And thats the VOA Special English Development Report, written by June Simms. We have a link to a list of activities for World No Tobacco Day on our website, voaspecialenglish.com. And while youre there, tell us if you have been able to quit smoking, and what advice you might have for others. You can also post comments on Facebook at VOA Learning English. Im Bob Doughty. By admin 11 comments Next Posts Previous Posts

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Development Report
Small Drug Pouch May Offer New Tool to Protect Newborns From HIV
July 3rd, 2010 at 05:42am Under Development Report This is the VOA Special English Development Report. Researchers say they have found a way to extend the storage life of a drug used to treat H.I.V. Their work could give infected mothers in the developing world a new way to prevent the spread of the AIDS virus to their newborn babies. The drug is nevirapine. If it is given within seventy-two hours after birth, it can often protect babies from H.I.V. Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina have developed a small pouch made of foil and plastic. They say current tests show that the pouch can safely store the drug for as long as four months. But they expect that final results in October will show it can keep the liquid stable for up to twelve months. That way, H.I.V.-infected women could have plenty of time to get the pouch from a health care provider early in their pregnancy. Caroline Gamache is a biomedical engineer at Duke who worked on the project. CAROLINE GAMACHE: Many mothers deliver at home in sub-Saharan Africa and its very difficult for them to get to a hospital or clinic which may be miles away in that time period. And so we are proposing to give this pouch to mothers in their first or second trimester, when they come in for their first antenatal care visit. And then they would take the pouch home and theyd have it at their hands at the time of delivery. The idea is that mothers would pour the liquid into the babys mouth as part of an H.I.V. treatment program. The drug company Boehringer Ingelheim developed nevirapine. It says one dose of the medicine given to mother and child prevents the spread of H.I.V. in more than fifty percent of cases. Boehringer Ingelheim has been working with the nonprofit organization PATH to offer a similar pouch for the past several years. The nevirapine is contained in a small dropper placed inside the pouch. They got the idea from health workers in Kenya. The workers had been putting the medicine into droppers, then wrapping the tube with tape, aluminum foil and plastic. PATH designed a foil pouch that could keep the medicine stable for up to two months.

Adriane Burman is with the PATH office in Seattle, Washington. She says the pouch is an important tool for preventing the spread of H.I.V. from mother to child. She noted a United Nations report that in two thousand eight about four hundred thirty thousand babies were born with H.I.V. Nine out of ten were born in Africa. The report said nearly all the mother-to-child infections could have been prevented through interventions. And thats the VOA Special English Development Report, written by June Simms. You can find transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our reports at voaspecialenglish.com. Im Steve Ember. ___ Correction: This story misstated the protection offered by a foil pouch designed by the group PATH to hold a medicine dropper of nevirapine. The drug is considered safe for up to two months in the dropper; the pouch itself is only for packaging protection. By admin 4 comments

Taking Action Against Child Labor


June 16th, 2010 at 07:58am Under Development Report This is the VOA Special English Development Report. Delegates from around the world have agreed on a new plan to end the worst kinds of child labor by two thousand sixteen. More than four hundred fifty delegates from eighty countries approved the plan at the Global Child Labor Conference. It was held in The Hague, the Netherlands, last week. A week earlier, the International Labor Organization released its third Global Report on Child Labor. The report said there are still two hundred fifteen million child laborers in the world. One hundred and fifteen million of them are working in some of the worst kinds of child labor. These are often dangerous to their health and safety. The ILO notes that child labor is decreasing worldwide, but at a much slower rate than four years ago. The organization also warned that the global economic crisis could slow progress even more. It called for an increase in global efforts in order to reach the goals for ending the worst forms of child labor. Representatives at the conference last week talked about what actions need to be taken. Patrick Quinn is with the ILOs International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor. He says there is clear evidence of the kinds of policies and programming interventions that can be most effective in combating the problem.

PATRICK QUINN: We know for example that if governments tackle the barriers that stop poor families accessing education, if they tackle the fees which many poor families often have to pay for education, they can encourage children to attend school. So governments putting in place the right education policies. In many parts of the world weve seen that if governments introduce social protection programs, measures for example which give family benefits to families with children, particularly poorer families, this can have an important impact in enabling people to keep their children in school and out of the work force. Mister Quinn says efforts to combat the problem must also be increased at the community level. He said the ILO is working with local civic organizations to change opinions about child labor. The ILO report notes that several areas of the world are making important progress. They include Latin America, the Caribbean and south Asia. The least progress has been made in Africa. Mister Quinn says world leaders will discuss the issue later this year at a meeting on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. He says there is a close link between these goals and combating child labor. And thats the VOA Special English Development Report, written by June Simms. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs are at voaspecialenglish.com. Im Steve Ember. By admin 7 comments Next Posts Previous Posts
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Development Report
Water Shortages Continue to Threaten the Worlds Growing Population
April 20th, 2010 at 06:13am Under Development Report Scientists are working on a new way to turn sea water into drinking water. This is the VOA Special English Development Report. The lack of clean drinking water is a major problem worldwide. The World Health Organization says more than one billion people live in areas where renewable water resources are not available. The problem is especially serious in Asia and the Pacific. A

United Nations report says water availability in that area is the second lowest in the world, after Africa. Nearly seven hundred thousand people in Asia and the Pacific lack safe drinking water. The U.N. report notes that the worlds poorest countries are also the ones that use the most water for agriculture. Agriculture uses about eighty percent of the water in the Asia-Pacific area. There has also been an increase in water used for industry. China and India more than tripled their industrial water use between nineteen ninety-two and two thousand two. The lack of clean drinking water around the world forces millions of people to drink unsafe water. This leads to an increase in diseases like diarrhea, the second leading cause of death in children under five. Floods, droughts, pollution and climate change have created even more problems. The Millennium Development Goals for two thousand fifteen call for a fifty percent decrease in the number of people without safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Scientists, governments and aid organizations around the world are increasing their efforts to meet these goals. Still the U.N. says there is much work to be done. During its yearly World Water Day observance last month it called on the international community to work together to solve the water crisis. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are doing just that. The American and South Korean researchers are investigating a new technology for turning sea water into drinking water. The new technology is called ion concentration polarization. The process uses electricity to help separate electrically charged salt particles from water to make it drinkable. The researchers tested their desalination process on a computer chip the size of a postage stamp. The chip removed ninety-nine percent of the salt and other harmful substances from water samples. So far the method purifies only small amounts of water. But the researchers say it may someday be available as a personal water purification product. And thats the VOA Special English Development Report, written by June Simms. Im Steve Ember. By admin 14 comments

Experts Watch for Spread of Chikungunya, a Highly Painful Virus


September 13th, 2009 at 03:31am Under Development Report
The disease carried by mosquitoes has been found in Africa and Asia for many years, but appeared in Italy in 2007. People rarely die from it, but the muscle and

joint pain can last for weeks or months. Transcript of radio broadcast: 11 April 2009

Correction attachedThis is the VOA Special English Development Report. People get chikungunya fever when they are bitten by mosquitoes infected with the disease. For many years, the disease has been found in countries in Africa and Asia. The symptoms are increased body temperature, pain in muscles and joints and stomach sickness. The disease is not usually deadly. But the muscle and joint pain can last for weeks or months. There is no vaccine to prevent the disease and no special drug to treat it. Doctors advise taking medicines like aspirin or ibuprofen.

Hospital patients suffering from chikungunya in Ahmadabad, India, in 2006

The name chikungunya means that which bends up in the Swahili language. People infected with the virus walk in a bent-over position because of the severe pain in the joints. Malaysia reported more than one thousand one hundred cases of chikungunya so far this year. In Indonesia, about two hundred people in central Java became sick from the virus last month. And about one thousand people near Yeshwanthpur in India also showed signs of the disease in March. But the disease also appeared in a cooler climate in two thousand seven, causing concern about its spread. Italy reported about two hundred cases during warm weather. The medical journal Eurosurveillance Weekly said it was the first time mosquitoes carried the virus inside Europe.

Two kinds of mosquitoes carry chikungunya fever. One is called Aedes albopictus, or Asian tiger mosquito. It has been reported in many European countries including France, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands. It also lives in the southern United States. The other mosquito that can carry chikungunya, Aedes aegypti, also is present in the United States.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito can carry the chikungunya virus

Ann Powers is an expert on viruses. She works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Fort Collins, Colorado. She said the disease spread is not directly connected to climate change. But she also said C.D.C. scientists are preparing for possible cases of chikungunya in the United States. People around the world can prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes by removing standing water from their property. They should try to keep mosquitoes out of their homes. And they should wear clothing that covers the arms and legs when they are outside. DEET and other chemicals that work against insects can keep mosquitoes from biting. And thats the VOA Special English Development Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. Im Steve Ember.

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Development Report
Hunger Rates Fall, but the Decrease Slows

November 10th, 2010 at 01:19am Under Development Report This is the VOA Special English Development Report. The latest Global Hunger Index report says the number of hungry people worldwide has fallen twenty-five percent since nineteen ninety. Last year the estimate topped one billion for the first time. But this years report says the number of people not getting enough to eat has fallen to nine hundred twenty-five million. Still, many experts worry that hunger rates are not falling fast enough to meet United Nations goals. One of the first of the Millennium Development Goals is to reduce the hunger rate by fifty percent between nineteen ninety and twenty fifteen. Caroline Hurford at the U.N. World Food Program says the reduction in hunger rates has slowed in recent years. CAROLINE HURFORD: There has been a slight dropping off in the number of hungry people in the late nineteen nineties. But then it rose again, of course, during the financial crisis of two thousand seven-two thousand eight. And then the very high food prices, together with the high fuel prices, really knocked everything off track again. And then, of course, climate change has come in and thats made it more difficult to grow food. The Global Hunger Index is prepared by three private organizations based in Germany, the United States and Ireland. The latest report says twenty-nine countries have levels of hunger that are considered alarming. The biggest increases were found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The report says hunger has risen by more than sixty-five percent since nineteen ninety because of conflict and political insecurity. And Caroline Hurford says Congo is not alone. CAROLINE HURFORD: Clearly conflict is a huge problem as far as the actual growing of produce and crops is concerned. People cant necessarily tend their fields if they are always being chased away by armed rebels. A separate report says twenty-two countries have suffered from a hunger and food crisis for at least eight years. Twenty percent of the worlds hungry live in these countries, most of which are in Africa. That report is from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program. They say new policies are needed to deal with these long-term crises. Peter Smerdon at the World Food Program says emergency aid must include development assistance.

PETER SMERDON: You have to do both things. You have to do both development and emergency assistance to keep people alive to reverse the situation. Otherwise, youre just going to be stuck in a protracted crisis, and have to keep trying to put out the fire. But youre not actually changing the structure of the crisis at all. Both reports were released ahead of World Food Day this past Saturday. And thats the VOA Special English Development Report, written by June Simms. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com. Im Mario Ritter. By admin 19 comments

Why Development Projects Fail: One Size Does Not Fit All
October 17th, 2010 at 12:19am Under Development Report This is the VOA Special English Development Report. Last week we told you about FAILFaire, an event where people talk about international development projects that failed. Many of these projects started as good ideas. Others had some level of success, but not enough to have a measurable effect on the lives of people in developing countries. A nonprofit group in New York called MobileActive held the first FAILFaire earlier this year. MobileActive is made up of people and organizations that use technology to try to improve the lives of the poor. Katrin Verclas came up with the idea for FAILFaire as a way to help nonprofit groups improve by learning from the mistakes of others. Katrin Verclas: The primary goal is to learn from failure and not to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. And for a community of practitioners to benefit from the lessons learned from other people so that we can do better the next time around, collectively as a field, and individually as organizations and practitioners. Katrin Verclas says there are many reasons why projects fail, but one reason tops all others. She says development projects are not one size fits all, yet many people try to import ideas as if they were. What they fail to consider, she says, is the desires of the local people or their cultural, economic and political differences. She says the problem for many nongovernmental organizations and other groups is simply not knowing their audience.

AP

A Somali policeman helps a displaced Somali woman to carry food aid provided by a local NGO and the World Food Program in Mogadishu in May Katrin Verclas: Western organizations, or NGOs, or donors in particular have particular ideas about what might be alleviating a particular problem in a developing country, without a really good understanding of the end users or the beneficiaries. The creator of FAILFaire says this is true not only with technology but other projects as well. Ms. Verclas hopes nonprofits in other industries and fields will create their own versions of FAILFaire. A second FAILFaire took place in July in Washington. The World Bank Institute co-sponsored the event. To Katrin Verclas, it was a good sign to have the World Bank support such open discussions about failure. Katrin Verclas: We have a lot riding on this, after all. Its not just products; its peoples lives and well-being and livelihoods in many developing countries that were talking about. So its incumbent upon us to be very, very honest about what projects arent performing according to expectations. An award for the best worst failure story went to Michael Trucano from the World Bank Institute. What he presented was in fact a list. It was a list of what he considers the worst practices in the use of information and communication technologies in education. Mr. Trucano gets to keep the award until the next FAILFaire, which is expected to be held on the West Coast this fall. You can find a link to his list of the top ten worst practices at voaspecialenglish.com. And thats the VOA Special English Development Report, written by June Simms. Im Steve Ember.

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Economy Report
Bernanke Meets the Press in a First for US Central Bank
June 24th, 2011 at 07:16am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Central bankers have to choose their words carefully. So they often say little in public or little that makes sense. But the United States central bank says it is trying to be more clear and timely in communicating its policies. The latest example: a press conference by Chairman Ben Bernanke. Wednesdays event was the first of its kind in the ninety-eight-year history of the Federal Reserve. In his opening comments. Mr. Bernanke explained a decision by the Federal Open Market Committee to leave its main short-term interest rate near zero. The committee had just completed a two-day meeting. BEN BERNANKE: The committee continues to anticipate that the economic conditions including low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends and stable inflation expectations are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate for an extended period. In other words, the economy is not growing fast enough to worry about inflation. A reporter asked what an extended period means to the Fed. Mr. Bernanke said it suggests a couple of meetings probably but it all depends on the economy. The chairman said it is very hard to blame the American public for being impatient with the speed of the recovery. But he pointed out that unemployment is still high 8.8 percent in March. Oil and gasoline prices are high. And the housing market remains very weak. The committee said it will complete purchases of six hundred billion dollars in Treasury securities in June. The Fed launched the bond buying program late last year in an effort to keep interest rates low and strengthen the economy. Some economists say this second round of what is known as quantitative easing, or QE2, has not been effective. Mr. Bernanke disagreed and pointed to examples like gains in stock prices. The Fed has two main goals for its monetary policy: the highest possible employment rates and stable prices. The bank faced criticism for intervening either too little to some critics or too much to others in the financial crisis.

The press conference produced no surprises. Yet, as recently as the middle of the nineteen nineties, the Fed did not even release its decisions or its interest rate targets to the public. Today the Fed is trying to reach out to Americans through ways like this video on its website. BEN BERNANKE: Hi, Im Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve System. The Fed, as its often called, is the central bank of the United States The Fed announced in March that Mr. Bernanke will hold four press briefings a year. The next of three planned for this year will follow a decision on interest rates in June. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report. Im Mario Ritter. ___ By admin Add comment

How an Allowance Helps Children Learn About Money


June 18th, 2011 at 07:11am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Many children first learn the value of money by receiving an allowance. The purpose is to let children learn from experience at an age when financial mistakes are not very costly. The amount of money that parents give to their children to spend as they wish differs from family to family. Timing is another consideration. Some children get a weekly allowance. Others get a monthly allowance. In any case, parents should make clear what, if anything, the child is expected to pay for with the money. At first, young children may spend all of their allowance soon after they receive it. If they do this, they will learn the hard way that spending must be done within a budget. Parents are usually advised not to offer more money until the next allowance. The object is to show young people that a budget demands choices between spending and saving. Older children may be responsible enough to save money for larger costs, like clothing or electronics. Many people who have written on the subject of allowances say it is not a good idea to pay your child for work around the home. These jobs are a normal part of family life. Paying children to do extra work around the house, however, can be useful. It can even provide an understanding of how a business works.

Allowances give children a chance to experience the things they can do with money. They can share it in the form of gifts or giving to a good cause. They can spend it by buying things they want. Or they can save and maybe even invest it. Saving helps children understand that costly goals require sacrifice: you have to cut costs and plan for the future. Requiring children to save part of their allowance can also open the door to future saving and investing. Many banks offer services to help children and teenagers learn about personal finance. A savings account is an excellent way to learn about the power of compound interest. Compounding works by paying interest on interest. So, for example, one dollar invested at two percent interest for two years will earn two cents in the first year. The second year, the money will earn two percent of one dollar and two cents, and so on. That may not seem like a lot. But over time it adds up. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. We invite you to share your family stories about getting or giving an allowance. Write your comments at voaspecialenglish.com where you can also read, listen and learn with our programs and English teaching activities. Im Steve Ember.
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Economy Report
Gold Keeps Shining, 40 Years After Nixon Ended Gold Standard
June 12th, 2011 at 07:51am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. The best example of something is often called the gold standard. It sets the standard against which other things are measured. In economics, the term describes how major trading nations once used gold to set currency values and exchange rates. Many nations continued to use the gold standard until the last century.

In the United States, people could exchange paper money for gold from the eighteen seventies until nineteen thirty-three. President Richard Nixon finally disconnected the dollar from the value of gold in nineteen seventy-one. Some politicians from time to time call for a return to the gold standard. But in nineteen seventy-eight the International Monetary Fund ended an official gold price. The IMF also ended the required use of gold in transactions with its member countries. Since that time, gold prices have grown, but unevenly. Prices uncorrected for inflation are now at record highs. The current price is above fourteen hundred dollars an ounce. But people keep buying. Neang Chan Nuon is a gold shop owner in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. NEANG CHAN NUON: Some of my customers have even bought more as they believe the price will probably go higher. I sell more gold at these higher prices. Some people are gold bugs. These are investors who say people should buy gold to protect against inflation. People have valued gold for thousands of years. The soft, dense metal polishes to a bright yellow shine and resists most chemical reactions. It makes a good material for money, political power and, more recently, electrical power. If you own a device like a mobile phone or a computer, you might own a little gold in the wiring. The gold standard was the subject of one of the best-known speeches in American political history. It took place at the eighteen ninety-six Democratic National Convention in Chicago. William Jennings Bryan wanted the country to use both gold and silver as money. The idea was to devalue the dollar and make it easier for farmers to pay their debts. Here is Bryan reading his speech much later, in nineteen twenty-one. WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN: You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold. The speech made William Jennings Bryan famous. He was a presidential candidate three times. But he never won. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Im Steve Ember. ___ Contributing: Pich Samnang

Correction: Nineteen seventy-one, when President Richard Nixon ended the gold standard, is 40 years ago, not 30 years ago as an earlier headline on this story said. By admin 28 comments

Obama Enters 2012 Race on Good News About Jobs


June 6th, 2011 at 07:39am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Most of the news in Washington this week was about the budget talks to prevent a shutdown of many government services at midnight Friday. But this week, President Obama also announced his plans to seek re-election in November of next year. In an e-mail to supporters, Mr. Obama said the race may not reach full speed for a year or more. But he said the work of building the campaign must start today. Some of that work will depend on how many jobs are created in the months ahead. Mr. Obama welcomed last Fridays report that the United States economy added two hundred sixteen thousand jobs in March. The unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of one percent for the second straight month. The Labor Department says unemployment is now 8.8 percent, the lowest in two years. And some economists say this spring may be the start of better news to come. Consumer spending has increased eight months in a row. Stephen Hess is a political scientist who studies the presidency at the Brookings Institution in Washington. STEPHEN HESS: The next election will, more than anything else, depend on employment in the United States. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis called attention to the fact that the economy has added jobs for twelve months in a row. HILDA SOLIS: We need to be reminded that weve added jobs 1.5 million private sector jobs, and that, I think, its right where we need to be. But we need to continue to not lose sight of where we need to go to increase opportunities for people to get employed in new jobs. This week, President Obama filled a top job in his party. He chose Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida to head the Democratic National Committee. She replaces Tim Kaine who plans to run for the Senate from Virginia next year.

Among Republicans, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty recently formed a committee to explore a presidential campaign. Several other Republicans are also considering races for their partys nomination. The latest jobs report showed that thirteen and a half million Americans remained unemployed in March. Another concern is that oil prices remain over one hundred dollars a barrel. High energy prices could threaten the recovery from the recession. This week, Portugal became the latest member of the European Union with heavy debts to request emergency loans. Opposition parties refused to accept budget cuts proposed by Prime Minister Jose Socrates two weeks ago. Portugals borrowing costs rose sharply Wednesday as it sold almost one and a half billion dollars in short-term securities. Portugal may seek more than one hundred billion dollars in loans, joining Greece and Ireland in receiving aid. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report. Im Doug Johnson. ___ Contributing: Mil Arcega, Jim Malone, Carolyn Presutti and Mario Ritter

Economy Report
Microsoft Says Google Blocks Competition in Europe Search Market
May 30th, 2011 at 08:50am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Microsoft has fought legal battles with officials in Europe and the United States over competition in the personal computer market. But now Microsoft is accusing Google of being anticompetitive. A complaint to the European Commission accuses Google of unfairly controlling the Internet search market in Europe. Google is already talking to the commission about the issue and says it is happy to explain to anyone how its business works. Google also faces other issues. Gmail users in China began reporting problems with Googles email service in late February. The problems came as news of the revolutions in the Arab world filled the Internet and there were online calls for protests in China. Google said the government was interfering with its e-mail service.

(SOUND) Last week, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu called the accusations unacceptable. But Google spokeswoman Jessica Powell said the company stood by its earlier comments. JESSICA POWELL: This is a government blockage, carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail. Google is the world leader in Internet search. But in China, the biggest search engine is Baidu. And this week, Chinas largest Internet media company, Sina, dropped Googles search engine from its website. Sina says it is using its own technology. An estimated four hundred fifty million Chinese are online about half of all Internet users in Asia. Last year, Google said a cyberattack from China had attempted to get information from the Gmail accounts of human rights activists. Google also expressed concerns about censorship. So Google relocated its Chinese search engine from the mainland to Hong Kong. The company is also facing new problems at home. A federal judge in New York has ruled against its plan to put millions of books online. Google wants to create a digital library of all the worlds books. It reached a one hundred twenty-five million dollar deal in two thousand eight with groups representing writers and publishers. Google agreed to create a system to pay copyright holders when their works are used online. But Judge Denny Chin rejected the proposed settlement. He said it gives Google monopoly control of the book search market. But he left open the possibility for a new plan. On a similar issue, Baidu says it has removed almost three million documents from its library. Writers have complained that Baidu did not have permission for their works to appear on its document-sharing site. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter and available online at voaspecialenglish.com. Im Steve Ember. ___ Contributing: Stephanie Ho By admin 9 comments

How High Will the Price of Oil Go This Time?


May 10th, 2011 at 08:15am Under Economy Report

This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Unrest in North Africa and the Middle East has pushed oil prices back into the news. Prices have been rising at their fastest level since two thousand eight. Libya is not among the ten largest oil exporters. But the rebellion against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has reduced production, affecting the global market. This month, oil prices rose above one hundred dollars a barrel. Prices went above one hundred forty-five dollars a barrel in two thousand eight. The price of oil affects prices and demand for energy, plastics, farm chemicals and many other products made with petroleum. During the last week of February, Americans paid the second biggest weekly increase in gasoline prices in twenty years. This young woman has to drive a long way to school, so high gas prices mean less money for other things. WOMAN: I am a college student and I have to drive forty-five minutes to college, so it sucks. The United States has a Strategic Petroleum Reserve that contains more than seven hundred million barrels of oil. President Obama could use some of this emergency supply to help ease fuel prices. But intervening in the market could hurt oil production in the United States. Oil prices have been rising at a bad time, just as many economies have been recovering from the global recession. Also, several countries in the euro area are still struggling with debt crises. European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said last week that strong vigilance is needed to contain inflation. That could mean raising interest rates which could hurt European countries heavily in debt. In the United States, higher fuel prices come just as General Motors and Chrysler show signs of recovery after their reorganizations. American car sales last month were twenty-seven percent higher than last February. GM led all carmakers with a forty-seven percent increase. High fuel prices reduce demand for big cars and trucks. But economist George Magliano says this time, high prices may be good for carmakers. GEORGE MAGLIANO: With gasoline prices higher, certain people might want to get a much more fuel-efficient vehicle and I dont mean even a hybrid or an electric vehicle which they could do, but the gasoline vehicles get twenty-five, thirty percent better mileage today than they did three or four years ago.

And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Share your stories about what high fuel prices mean to you at voaspecialenglish.com or on Facebook at VOA Learning English. Im Steve Ember. ___
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Economy Report
Future Payments for Retirees Are Big Issue Now for US States
May 4th, 2011 at 11:08am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. State and local governments across the United States are facing big budget deficits. Many of these shortfalls include promises of future retirement payments for public employees. Several states have had to borrow money for pension plans that have fallen below required funding levels. Pay and benefits for public workers have been a target as state and local governments try to cut spending. At the same time, there are efforts in several states to reduce the negotiating rights of public employees. In many cases, public employee unions have agreed to accept lower pay. But they oppose efforts to limit collective bargaining. An effort by Republicans to do that in Wisconsin has led protesters to occupy the state capitol building. Almost every state requires a balanced budget. Yet worries that state and local governments might not be able to repay their debts are now adding to the costs of borrowing. Illinois had to offer a high return of nearly six percent on bonds to be repaid by twenty nineteen. Experts say, on average, public employees are paid less but have better benefits than workers with similar skills in private jobs. However, they say these differences in labor costs are a lot less than some people think.

Still, traditional pension plans pay a set amount for as long as a retiree lives. States like Georgia, Michigan, Colorado and Ohio are considering a change for future employees. They might offer retirement plans similar to what are called 401(k) plans. These are a common form of plan offered by private employers. Employers and workers both put money into the plan. Workers can invest the money in areas like stocks or bonds. Their retirement savings are defined by the return on their investments in the plan. Federal workers already have a savings plan similar to a 401(k). John McGlennon heads the Government Department at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He says the economic crisis of two thousand eight continues to affect state and local tax collections. Also, many pension funds have less money because their investments have yet to fully recover from the recession. But Professor McGlennon says things could change. JOHN McGLENNON: In terms of the future, states are not necessarily going to be in a rosy condition in the next couple of years. But they do tend to recover much more rapidly than we tend to anticipate. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. For more business news, go to voaspecialenglish.com. Im Steve Ember. By admin 7 comments

A Stock Market Big Enough to Stretch Across the Atlantic


April 13th, 2011 at 02:05pm Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. A ten-billion-dollar deal aims to create the worlds largest exchange company. The plan would combine the operators of the New York Stock Exchange and Germanys Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The two companies, NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Borse, announced the agreement Tuesday. Deutsche Borse shareholders would own about sixty percent of the combined group. One thing it still needs is a name. The new company would have headquarters in Frankfurt and New York. The New York Stock Exchange is the worlds most famous stock market and a symbol of American capitalism. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says New York will remain at the heart of the worlds financial system for a long time to come. But the exchange business has changed in these days of high-speed trading by computers in a globally connected economy. The Big Board now has to compete with smaller exchanges. Where stocks are traded has become less important than how much those trades cost.

NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Borse had profits of almost four and a half billion dollars last year. They expect to save four hundred million dollars a year by combining their operations. These savings could lower the cost of stock orders. But the size of the company could raise concerns about competition in the exchange industry. The new company would also have trading operations in Britain, France and other European countries. Stock trading and other financial services would remain important to the combined company. But much of its income is expected to come from trading complex financial products called derivatives.

The deal requires approval by American and European officials and by shareholders. Other exchange operators, like the CME Group, could try to offer a higher price for NYSE Euronext. The CME Group, operator of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, is one of the worlds largest traders of derivatives. Duncan Niederauer, chief executive of NYSE Euronext, is expected to keep that job in the new company. He says combining with Deutsche Borse will make the company more competitive. DUNCAN NIEDERAUER: This not only creates the worlds premier exchange group, but theres a word we all want you to focus on today, and that is diversified. This will position us to compete on what is increasing a global landscape in a very competitive industry. Last week the operators of the London and Toronto stock exchanges announced a deal to combine their companies. And the Singapore Exchange offered in October to merge with Australias exchange. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Im Steve Ember. By admin 17 comments

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Economy Report
Egypt Not Alone in Its Economic Problems
March 29th, 2011 at 09:06am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Egypt is the biggest of the nations hit by recent protests in North Africa and the Middle East. One of the causes of this spreading wave of popular dissatisfaction is a lack of economic progress. Egypt is not a major oil exporter and its economy is not big enough to affect world economic growth. But important pipelines cross Egypt. And Egypt controls the Suez Canal. About eight percent of world shipping passes through this link between Europe and Asia. That includes two million barrels of oil each day, mainly to Europe. Many experts say they expect the canal to remain open. Still, concerns about the Suez have pushed oil prices to their highest levels since two thousand eight. Fariborz Ghadar heads the Center for Global Business Studies at Penn State University. He says poverty in Egypt remains high up to forty percent in some areas. Yet Egypt is not alone. Foreign investors worry about corruption, mismanagement and security problems across North Africa and the Middle East.

Every year millions of young people enter the job market. Populations are young and fast growing. In Egypt, the economy grew about five percent last year too little growth to create enough jobs. Fariborz Ghadar says the United States in a good year creates fewer than two million jobs.

FARIBORZ GHADAR: Europe and the US together generate three million jobs. [The] Middle East alone to keep their youth employed has to generate six, seven, eight million jobs. So they have to produce two or three times as many jobs as the total US and total European economies. Fariborz Ghadar says protests could spread to bigger economies. FARIBORZ GHADAR: So the mismanagement of the Iranian economy could in fact see a backlash of the Iranian population because their food prices are going up too. Their inflation is going up, too. The World Bank has praised Egypt for cutting barriers to trade. But economist Deborah Hewitt at the College of William & Mary in Virginia says private foreign investment remains weak. She says those investments have grown quickly from almost nothing eight years ago. But they are still not enough to lift the economy. Professor Hewitt says Egypt could look to reforms in Morocco that have appealed to investors. Morocco has strengthened its education system and invested in roads, ports and electric power. She says investments like these not only put people to work. They also create the basis for future economic and political development. DEBORAH HEWITT: With economic growth and expansion comes the desire for more political freedom. And the two go hand in hand. They feed on each other. And thats the Special English Economics Report written by Mario Ritter. Im Steve Ember. By admin 11 comments

Looking for Answers to Rising Coffee Prices


March 21st, 2011 at 09:00am Under Economy Report This is the VOA Special English Economics Report. Food prices are at their highest level since the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization began keeping records in nineteen ninety. The causes include bad weather and growing demand. Some experts also blame the use of food crops to make fuel. But higher food prices are not always the result of limited supplies. Coffee prices have jumped almost fifty percent in six months. Prices have reached a thirteen-year high. Yet growers expect their current crop to be almost ten percent bigger than the last one. JM Smucker is an American company known for its jellies and fruit spreads. But Smucker also owns Folgers, Americas top-selling packaged coffee. And it owns Dunkin Donuts, which sells coffee to wash down the doughnuts at its stores.

On Tuesday, Smucker said it would raise the prices of its coffee products by an average of ten percent. It said the increase is driven by the higher prices for coffee beans. Experts say coffee prices are rising mainly because people are willing to pay more. Coffee sellers like Mark Warmuth say tastes are changing and more people want a good cup of coffee. MARK WARMUTH: Theres no right or wrong answer with regard to Whats a good cup of coffee? A lot of it has to do with personal preference or taste. Mark Warmuth owns the M.E. Swing Coffee Company in Alexandria, Virginia, near Washington. He says big coffee sellers like Starbucks help his business by building a base of customers who want something better. MARK WARMUTH: Theyre seeking something that would be better than what they can buy at Starbucks. Theyre seeking out smaller, boutique, artisan, craft coffee roasters, which I consider us to be, a boutique coffee roasting company. What we can do is source better quality beans and supply them at a fresher level because were smaller and we can cater to the smaller metro area. That helps us compete with bigger companies. Yet Mr. Warmuth can thank those bigger companies like Starbucks for spreading the idea of coffee as an affordable luxury. The thinking goes that during hard times, people might not go on a trip but they might be willing to pay extra for good coffee. The company supplies restaurants and other businesses, but also has a store in Washington near the White House. Customers pay thirteen dollars for less than half a kilogram of beans about double the price of other brands. Greater demand for high-quality coffee has helped drive coffee prices higher. That includes greater demand among Brazilians. Brazil is the worlds largest exporter of coffee. People in India are also drinking more coffee. Starbucks just announced plans to enter that market in a deal with Indias Tata Coffee company. And thats the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Im Steve Ember. By admin 36 comments

Women Inmates Train to Start Businesses After Prison


July 24th, 2011 at 07:44am Under Education report This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Getting a job can be especially difficult for someone with a prison record. So a prison training program in the American Northwest prepares women to start their own businesses. (SOUND) The program is called Lifelong Information for Entrepreneurs, or LIFE. The training combines business and social skills. The women learn how to manage their time, set goals and settle conflicts peacefully. Saresa Whitley is serving five years for assault at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, a womens prison in Oregon. She has a job waiting for her when she is released in January. But she also plans to start a small business with the knowledge gained from the months of class. SARESA WHITLEY: When I was talking about knowing if my business is viable or not, through a profit-and-loss model, I was like Wow, I didnt even know the word viable before, and now I do. Ive learned a lot, Ive learned a lot about how to write a business plan, about effective communications skills, how to listen, something I didnt know how to do before. Cynthia Thompson is serving time for stealing someones identity. She says the lessons learned in the program are important not just for the inmates, but also the communities they will re-enter. CYNTHIA THOMPSON: I think the goal of it is to produce people that are being part of the community, paying their taxes and being volunteers. Not just necessarily successful small businesses, but just successful, accountable people in the community. MercyCorps Northwest started the training program four years ago. MercyCorps is an international development organization. Doug Cooper is assistant director of MercyCorps Northwest. DOUG COOPER: We were looking for ways that we could apply our expertise around economic development and small business management to populations that could use it. Its identical to what we do internationally, except we apply it here in Oregon and Washington. MercyCorps Northwest has just started a LIFE program at a womens prison in Washington state. Doug Cooper says he hopes the idea will spread to prisons throughout the country. The group says just three of the one hundred graduates of its training program have returned to prison. Graduates of the LIFE program have started businesses like cutting hair and selling goods at farmers markets.

One woman who served time for theft now runs an automobile repair business. Lori does not want her last name used. She says she worries what people might think if they knew she had been in prison. Lori stayed in contact with a MercyCorps mentor after she left prison. Together they found answers to questions about running a small business. LORI: What works, what doesnt? And is it worth having a website of your own, and what avenues of advertising can you exploit for free? Those are the type of things that I found invaluable. And thats the VOA Special English Education Report. Im Christopher Cruise. By admin 17 comments

Girls Lacrosse Team Raises Hopes at School


July 16th, 2011 at 07:39am Under Education report This is the VOA Special English Education Report. Ballou High School in Washington might not seem the mostly likely school to have a lacrosse team. (SOUND) But lacrosse has grown beyond the popular image of a sport mainly for wealthy private schools. Ballou is a public school in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. In the past six years, more than forty students have died violent deaths. Many were the result of drug violence. (SOUND) Ballou has just had its first year with a lacrosse team. The team is for girls. They lost every game. But their coach, Holly McGarvie, says this was also the first time they ever played. HOLLY McGARVIE: You know, I think the goal each year is going to change. This year, I think, just starting and building a foundation that we can build from and create a tradition of womens lacrosse here at Ballou. Lacrosse is a fast-moving sport, the modern version of a game played by American Indians. Teams try to make goals with a ball caught and thrown using a net at the end of a stick. School officials decided to make changes at Ballou after less than sixty percent of the senior class graduated in two thousand six. Since then the graduation rate has improved by ten to fifteen percent. Rahman Branch, the school principal, says one change was to increase activities after the school day.

RAHMAN BRANCH: We decided to take some more approaches to add on to them being comfortable being a kid, to now making sure they are a kid who knows what they want, what it takes to get there, and then has the stamina to go through. Mr. Branch says Holly McGarvie was a perfect match for Ballou. She was on a national team and a star player at Princeton University. She was in her first year of teaching. She wanted to take the lessons she learned from sports and use them in teaching biology. Coach McGarvie says the first practices for the new team were difficult. Some players got angry at one another. She helped them learn to keep their mind on the game. HOLLY McGARVIE: On our way home from our first game, from Wilson, and we are all talking about it, and the girls are extremely excited. Despite the loss of, I think, maybe eleven to one, you know, they were already in the mindset of what can we do better? Tylashia Joyner says lacrosse has helped her think more about her future. TYLASHIA JOYNER: I will want to play in college because it will keep me in shape and it will help me stay focused and want to do something. Because if you want to play a sport, you have to have your grades up. And thats the VOA Special English Education Report. You can watch a video report about the lacrosse team at voaspecialenglish.com. You can also write to us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. Im Christopher Cruise. By admin 7 comments

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No National Standards: Strength or Weakness for Schools in US?


July 8th, 2011 at 07:10am Under Education report This is the VOA Special English Education Report. What American students are expected to learn has long been different from state to state. We talked last time about the tradition of local control of schools. To some people, the lack of national academic standards is an important limit on federal powers. But others say all it does is limit American competitiveness in a world that is becoming more educated. Now, state governors and chief school officers are leading a movement toward what are known as the common core state standards. These list content in math and English language arts that students are expected to learn each year from kindergarten to high school. In the past year, most of the fifty states have adopted these standards. That speed is partly explained by President Obamas Race to the Top competition. Accepting the standards helped states that competed last year for federal money for school reform efforts. Patrick Murray has been an elected member of the school governing board in Bradford, Maine, for four years. The public school system is small, just one thousand two hundred students from five towns. In April, Maine became the forty-second state to approve the common core standards. Mr. Murray says he does not trust supporters of these standards. They say this is a stateled effort, he says, but he thinks the goal is national control of education. PATRICK MURRAY: Any school that receives federal or state money is going to be required to use the common core standards. He says many states have adopted the common core standards only because they were offered federal money. PATRICK MURRAY: My opinion is when you have federal mandates and federal money involved, its no longer state-led. Mr. Murray says national academic standards would violate the United States Constitution. He believes the federal government should have no role in education none. Patience Blythe disagrees. Ms. Blythe has taught for five years. She recently moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Before that she was a science teacher in Texas one of the few states not to adopt the common core standards.

Ms. Blythe says national standards could improve the results of American students on international science tests. PATIENCE BLYTHE: Not everything has to be a state issue. There could be a benefit from some more federal involvement in our education system, that we could address a lot of the inequalities that we have. She also disagrees with those who say the standards could limit the ability of teachers to be creative. PATIENCE BLYTHE: The reality is the standards give you keys and tools to understand what the objectives are, and understand what the questions on whatever state assessment youre going to take are going to cover. I can be as creative as I want to, especially if I have a good team of teachers to work with, and that we can work together and bounce ideas off each other. And thats the VOA Special English Education Report. You can find last weeks report on the debate over national standards at voaspecialenglish.com. And tell us what you think of this issue. You can also write to us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. Im Christopher Cruise. By admin 6 comments

Should All US Students Learn the Same Thing?


July 2nd, 2011 at 07:52pm Under Education report This is the VOA Special English Education Report. More than forty of the fifty American states have approved what are known as the common core state standards. These are lists of content that students are supposed to learn at each grade level from kindergarten to high school. State governors and schools chiefs led the effort to develop the standards. The project involved teachers, administrators, experts and public comments. The final standards were released last June. Acceptance is voluntary. But acceptance helped states that entered President Obamas four-billion-dollar Race to the Top competition for school reform. The standards are for English language arts and math. More subjects may come later. Supporters say the standards provide clear goals to prepare students to succeed in college and in jobs. But critics of national standards say the idea goes against one of Americas oldest traditions local control of education.

Political conservatives generally oppose federal intervention in schools. Yet it was a Republican president, George W. Bush, who expanded testing requirements to show that public schools are making yearly progress. Still, opponents of national standards call them one-size-fits-all. They say the idea does not make sense for a country as large and diverse as the United States. One of those opponents is Bill Evers at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California. He was an assistant education secretary under President Bush. BILL EVERS: We are having Washington, DC, having control and final say over, and supervision over and direction over, what is happening in the classrooms of America. Most changes, most positive influences have bubbled up from below. So its closing the door on innovation by locking in a national, uniform bureaucratic system. But the states dont have a problem in setting their curriculum theyve been doing it ever since thereve been public schools. Richard Riley was education secretary to President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. Mr. Riley says the federal government is not forcing the common core standards on states. RICHARD RILEY: Conservatives would be concerned if we had federal-mandated common core standards. Thats not what we have. Its a state-driven measure. High standards, challenging work for young people across the country. To be challenged to do and be the same, and not one way in Texas and another way in South Carolina. Mr. Riley says when he served in the nineteen nineties, he pushed states to develop their own statewide standards. But some of those standards were not very strong, he says, so he believes national standards are needed. But Bill Evers says technology now makes it easier to develop individual learning plans to meet the different needs of students. BILL EVERS: If we put a bureaucratic hand on this, we will stifle the capacity for modern technology to give us a better shot at the students learning the material. He says schools should worry less about a common curriculum and more about improving teacher quality. And thats the VOA Special English Education Report. Well have more about this debate next week. You can find a link to the common core standards at voaspecialenglish.com. Im Christopher Cruise. By admin 12 comments Next Posts Previous Posts

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Education report
Lecture or Interactive Teaching? New Study of an Old Issue
June 26th, 2011 at 07:18am Under Education report This is the VOA Special English Education Report. Professors have lectured for centuries. But how effective is lecturing to students compared to working with them? A new study compared two classes of a beginning physics course at the University of British Columbia in Canada. There were more than two hundred sixty students in each section. Both were taught by popular and experienced professors. The study took place for one week near the end of the year. One class continued to be taught in the traditional lecture style. The other professor was replaced by two teachers. They had little teaching experience but received training in interactive teaching methods. The training was led by Carl Wieman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who leads a science education program. There was almost no lecturing. The teachers put the students in small groups to discuss and answer questions. They gave them readings and quizzes to finish before class so they would come prepared to discuss the material. Professor Wieman says before the experiment with these and other activities, test scores for both classes were the same. CARL WIEMAN: There was a great deal of careful data collected showing how identical the two sections, these two large sections of the class were beforehand. And this focused very much on looking at exactly what could be learned with the different methods from the classroom experience, the time when you have the maximum instructor interaction, or faceto-face interaction time. Afterward, both classes took the same test. Students in the interactive class scored nearly twice as high as those in the traditional class. Attendance also increased that week.

Graduate student Ellen Schelew was one of the teachers. She says the methods they used are designed to encourage students to think like scientists. ELLEN SCHELEW: Their brains are turned on. Theyre thinking hard and theyre really working through these problems. So even if they dont have enough time to complete a given problem, they are prepared to learn from the instructor feedback that always follows groups tasks. The study appeared in May in the journal Science. It seems to confirm earlier findings about lecturing to large classes. But some experts have criticized the way the study was done. Both of the researchers who taught the class, Ms. Schelew and Louis Deslauriers, were also authors of the study. This could raise questions about whether their involvement might have influenced the results. Professor Wieman is currently on leave from the University of British Columbia and the University of Colorado. He is the associate director for science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He says research has shown better ways to teach based on evidence about how the brain learns. And he hopes more professors will learn that how someone teaches may be more important than who does the teaching. And thats the VOA Special English Education Report. Im Christopher Cruise. By admin 20 comments

US Schools Under Pressure to Deal With Sexual Violence


June 20th, 2011 at 07:12am Under Education report This is the VOA Special English Education Report. Federal officials in the United States are telling schools that they need to do a better job of preventing sexual violence and helping victims. The Obama administration has released the first guidance on how schools should deal with the problem under a nineteen seventy-two law. That law is known as Title Nine. It bars discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. The Department of Education says sexual violence is a form of sexual harassment of students which violates Title Nine.

Last month, Vice President Joe Biden joined Education Secretary Arne Duncan at the University of New Hampshire to announce the new efforts. Secretary Duncan says the problem has not received enough attention. ARNE DUNCAN: Sexual violence is one of those issues we all wish didnt exist. And too often, our society has chosen to ignore it, rather than confronting it openly and honestly. And that denial must end. Every school would like to believe its immune from sexual violence, but the facts suggest otherwise. A study found that one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college. About six percent of male college students say they have also been victims. Mr. Duncan said that by some estimates, more than one in ten high school girls are physically forced to have sex in or out of school. He said the numbers are probably low because many sex crimes are never reported. In one recent school year, public schools reported eight hundred rapes or attempted rapes and almost four thousand other cases of sexual violence. The Education Department has written a nineteen-page letter to all school systems, colleges and universities that accept federal money. It explains requirements for them under Title Nine in dealing with sexual violence. These include making sure victims know their rights and are kept informed about the progress of the investigation. Schools must also protect victims from suspects who may still be in school with them. Secretary Duncan says police and prosecutors have their job to do, but schools also share responsibility under federal civil rights laws. Investigations of sexual violence often take too long, he says, and the victims are not taken seriously. Victims are more likely to do poorly in school, get depressed and abuse drugs and alcohol. And thats the VOA Special English Education Report. Well have more on this subject next week. You can find links to information about dealing with sexual violence in schools at voaspecialenglish.com. You can also post comments on our website and on the VOA Learning English page on Facebook. Im Christopher Cruise. By admin 19 comments Next Posts Previous Posts

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Education report
A School That Teaches Children to Eat Better
June 14th, 2011 at 08:05pm Under Education report This is the VOA Special English Education Report. About one-fifth of Americans age six to nineteen are considered overweight. To reduce those numbers, some schools are teaching children to make better food choices. TEACHER AND STUDENT: So I can have spinach and what, who can give me one combination. Spinach and Diego? Eggplant? Eggplant. Spinach and eggplant. So here is my first combination. Hannah Chen is teaching the eight and nine year olds in this math class in Washington how to make sets. HANNAH CHEN: We just incorporated food into different types of combinations, like with the pizza we had two types of toppings that the kids can provide, and figuring out the different combinations using those toppings. The EW Stokes Public Charter School has started to include food topics in its third-grade math and English teaching. The school formed a partnership with Seedling Projects, an environmental group in San Francisco, California. Peter Nalli is a curriculum director for the program called Farm to Desk. He says they are doing this in part to address the issue of childhood obesity. PETER NALLI: One of the main components of our program is our belief that if kids are exposed to positive and healthy messaging about food throughout the instructional day, that has the most potential to impact long-term change. School chef Makeisha Daye says the school buys most of its food from local farms, but the students grow some themselves. MAKEISHA DAYE: They are replanting everything now so that we will be using fresh herbs, fresh vegetables straight from our garden. So, the children, they love it. Teacher Hannah Chen agrees. HANNAH CHEN: We have a salad bar at the school, and now the kids love the salad bar. They love the fruits and vegetables. So I think it is making a big difference in their lives.

She says the third graders have also learned to read the sugar and fat content listed on food packages. She says the EW Stokes Public Charter School in Washington plans to expand the Farm to Desk program to other grades next year. Charter schools get public money but do not have to follow the same rules as traditional public schools. Many charter schools have specialized areas of study like Environmental Charter High School near Los Angeles. Students learn the importance of protecting the environment. Rigo Estrada says he used to be the kind of person who threw trash on the street. RIGO ESTRADA: But now that I have seen firsthand videos, I have done beach cleanups, I have helped develop like water-catchment systems, I have taught elementary schools like the importance of water conservation, I know the importance of green and that it actually is a really serious topic. Students also learn how to prepare a business plan that they can use to help pay for college. They learn from teachers and outside experts like Nancy Gale. She owns an environmentally friendly business that makes handbags. NANCY GALE: The idea behind the program is that if these kids see what they can do together and what they can accomplish, that they recognize that their skills extend into the same real world as kids that go to successful private schools. And thats the VOA Special English Education Report, available online at voaspecialenglish.com and on the VOA Learning English on Facebook. Im Steve Ember. ___ By admin 10 comments

Thousands of US Teachers Lose Jobs as States Cut Budgets


June 8th, 2011 at 07:41am Under Education report This is the VOA Special English Education Report. Americas recession ended in June of two thousand nine but recovery has been slow. Many states face budget problems and have cut spending in areas including education. In California, thousands of teachers have lost their jobs. Veronica Pellegrin received a layoff notice in the mail. VERONICA PELLEGRIN: Getting the letter and seeing [you] will no longer be employed, your services will no longer be required it is very disheartening, to say the least, and frustrating.

Sixty percent of the teachers at the Mariposa-Nabi primary school in Los Angeles have received layoff notices. Salvador Rodriguez, the school principal, has been able to provide computers for his students. SALVADOR RODRIGUEZ: We have to keep going and make it the best year possible with all these changes. But fewer teachers mean bigger classes at his school. Mr. Rodriguez says there used to be twenty students to a teacher. By next year, he expects nearly thirty students in a class. SALVADOR RODRIQUEZ: If you cut personnel, they can not give that individual attention. Teachers say this is true especially in schools with large immigrant populations where English is not the first language of many students. Los Angeles has the nations second-largest public school system after New York City. The district has dismissed ten to twelve percent of its staff during the past two years. About half of those laid off were teachers, says John Deasy, the head of the Los Angeles Unified School District. JOHN DEASY: The recession has had an enormous impact on the state budget and we have had a huge drop in funding. An education professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, John Rogers, says other states have also laid off teachers. JOHN ROGERS: Some projections estimate that across the country, one hundred sixty thousand teachers have received layoff notices this spring. But he says the situation in California is worse because the state was already facing a budget deficit before the recession. Also, California was spending less per student than the national average. Primary and secondary schools in California receive most of their funding from the state government. AJ Duffy is president of the United Teachers Los Angeles union. Mr. Duffy says the amount of funding each year depends on the economy. AJ DUFFY: In the past two and a half to three years, we have lost twenty billion dollars in funding for public education. And Superintendent John Deasy expects more changes if the state budget does not improve.

JOHN DEASY: We are cutting all of our librarians, our nurses. We would be forced to close and consolidate schools. Most California school districts have already reduced the number of days per year that students must attend classes. Other states are also talking about shortening the school year to save money. And thats the VOA Special English Education Report. You can read and listen to this program and watch a related video at voaspecialenglish.com. Im Steve Ember. ___ Contributing: Elizabeth Lee By admin 17 comments Next Posts Previous Posts

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Education report
A Social Network Aims to Speed Up Progress in Science
June 2nd, 2011 at 07:33am Under Education report This is the VOA Special English Education Report. A few years ago, a university researcher was having problems with an experiment that involved medical imaging. His adviser and his friends had no solutions. The researcher was Ijad Madisch at Harvard in Massachusetts. IJAD MADISCH: I was so frustrated. I said, you know, there has to be something online where I go, where people can, you know, present themselves as a scientist, and where they put their information about their research and their publications and you can search for it.

The solution was to start a scientific network to connect researchers and share information. ResearchGate is similar to another social network developed at Harvard Facebook. But Mr. Madisch says the purpose of his site is to make scientists more productive. IJAD MADISCH: My goal: to win the Nobel Prize. And I really believe in that. Like, if we think that ResearchGate will accelerate research in all the different fields, it will change the speed of science significantly in the future. So i definitely do believe that ResearchGate could win the Nobel Prize for that one day. Investors liked the idea, including a former Facebook executive and the same investment group that put money into Twitter. So far, nine hundred thousand people have signed up as members of ResearchGate. CAROLINE MOORE-KOCHLACS: Logging in One of those users is Caroline Moore-Kochlacs at Boston University. Her profile page shows her picture and her specialty neuroscience. It also lists her doctoral adviser and the work she has published. She can follow other researchers and click onto group pages that discuss different subjects. CAROLINE MOORE-KOCHLACS: Lets see whats going on in the computational neuroscience group today. She also uses Facebook but says people almost never discuss science there. She says on ResearchGate she can ask questions and learn about what other researchers are working on before they publish their results. She can also learn about recently published science. CAROLINE MOORE-KOCHLACS: The scientific literature is so huge at this point, that its really impossible to get through everything in your topic area. People really rely on hearing it from other people. ResearchGate developer Ijad Madisch says he knows his site will only prove valuable if scientists use it to help each other. But not every user is pleased with it. Kim Bertrand at the Harvard School of Public Health is an epidemiologist someone who studies the spread and control of diseases. Ms. Bertrand says she finds more value in her own offline network of researchers and advisers than in this online network. KIM BERTRAND: Sometimes I get these e-mails that are like: Dear Sirs: Im writing a dissertation on public health. Any suggestions? Please advise. I dont need that. And thats the VOA Special English Education Report. Do you use a social network for work or just for fun? Post your comments on the VOA Learning English page on Facebook or at voaspecialenglish.com. There, you can also download program transcripts and MP3s and get podcasts. Im Steve Ember.

___ Contributing: Curt Nickisch By admin 10 comments

Kids in Britain + Online Tutors in India = Divided Opinions


May 24th, 2011 at 08:47am Under Education report This is the VOA Special English Education Report. India was once a colony in the British Empire. But now Indian tutors are helping to teach math to some British children over high-speed Internet connections. Early results suggest that online tutoring may improve student performance. But not everyone is happy at this so-called outsourcing of tutors. (SOUND) Its three-thirty in the afternoon at Raynham Primary School in London. Students are gathering for their after-school math lesson. Five time zones and thousands of kilometers away, their math tutors are also arriving for class. (SOUND) Each pupil gets an individual online tutor. The students work with activities on their computer screen and wear a headset and microphone to talk to their tutor. Their classroom teacher, Altus Basson, says he has seen an improvement in results. ALTUS BASSON: Children who struggle to focus in class focus a lot better on the laptops. Nine-year-old Samia Abdul-Kadir says she enjoys the online lessons. SAMIA ABDUL-KADIR: It helps me because sometimes when were doing it in class, I dont hear the teacher very much and I dont understand, but online is better. Her friend, Abdul-Fadil Badori, agrees. ABDUL-FADIL BADORI: Online, you can hear it, its not shared by everyone, everyone has different topics theyre learning.

Tom Hooper started the company that provides the online tutoring. The company is called BrightSpark Education. TOM HOOPER: Children today feel very confident online, they feel very engaged, they feel very in control. And thats half the battle with education. Give them control, make them feel confident and enjoy their learning and youll see them start to improve and embrace it. Online tutoring costs between twenty and twenty-five dollars an hour. An online tutor is about half the cost of traditional face-to-face coaching. But some people say an Internet connection is not enough of a connection for teaching and learning. Kevin Courtney is deputy general secretary of Britains National Union of Teachers. KEVIN COURTNEY: We think theres something thats a really important emotional connection between a teacher and a child, whether its a whole class or whether its one-toone. You need that immediacy of feedback, and were not convinced that that can happen across an Internet connection. In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we think that we can afford to have teachers with the genuine emotional connection there with the children. BrightSpark Education says the online tutoring is used only as an addition to supplement regular teaching. The company says its service does not represent a threat to teachers jobs in Britain. Some parents say they are satisfied with the results. And what about the children? CHILDREN: I love it! I love it! I hate maths! So math or, as the British call it, maths is still not everyones favorite subject even with the latest technology to teach it. And thats the VOA Special English Education Report. You can watch a video of the online tutoring by going to voaspecialenglish.com. Im Steve Ember. ___ Contributing: Henry Ridgwell By admin 27 comments Next Posts Previous Posts

ducation report
A Push to Get More Indonesians to Study in US
May 18th, 2011 at 08:23am Under Education report This is the VOA Special English Education Report. The Obama administration wants to double the number of Indonesians studying in the United States. More than fifty American universities recently attended an education fair in Jakarta as part of a visit by a top American trade official. The United States is reaching out to fast-growing economies like Indonesia and Vietnam as new markets for American goods and services. International students put an estimated nineteen billion dollars into the American economy last year. Last June, the Obama administration set a five-year goal to increase university partnerships and student exchanges with Indonesia. The subjects include agriculture, business and information technology. Micro-scholarships will support intensive language training programs for Indonesians, and for more Americans to study there. Ambassador Scot Marciel says student exchanges create a personal basis for better relations. But he says the United States has to work harder to get more Indonesians to study in America. SCOT MARCIEL: We have to do a much better job of A) marketing our universities, which are the best in the world; and B) changing this terrible perception that you cant get a student visa. So Im literally almost out on the streets grabbing people as they walk by saying, Hey, well give you a visa if you go study in America. Ambassador Marciel says more than ninety percent of Indonesians who request a visa to study in the United States are approved. Still, the number coming to the United States has been falling since the Asian financial crisis in nineteen ninety-eight. Last year, there were fewer than seven thousand. That was a loss of about eight percent from two thousand nine. More Indonesians have been choosing to study in Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. But the United States still has many of the worlds top universities and research centers. English remains a favorite subject among students from Indonesia. However, many are also choosing business and science.

Education Minister Mohammad Nur says increased cultural diplomacy will help develop Indonesia and its friendships. (SOUND) There is a lot of history behind Indonesias relationship with America, he says. That is why it needs to be strengthened. But the worlds largest Muslim-majority nation also wants to strengthen ties with other countries and Europe. Some Indonesian students at the education fair said they are less concerned about where they study than about having enough money to pay for it. And thats the VOA Special English Education Report. Im Steve Ember. ___ Contributing: Sara Schonhardt By admin 13 comments

A School Newspaper Links Sioux Indian Teens to Their Community


May 12th, 2011 at 08:17am Under Education report This is the VOA Special English Education Report. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the American state of South Dakota is home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Its also where Nicky Oulette is in her first year as the journalism teacher at Little Wound High School. NICKY OULETTE: What else would make this a newsworthy story? STUDENT: Human interest? NICKY OULETTE: Totally human interest Ms. Oulette teaches the twelve students on the school newspaper, the Mustang News. NICKY OULETTE: They pick the articles that we write. Sometimes, if were getting stuck, Ill kind of guide them along. Say, like, heres a couple of things that happened last week, heres who we can talk to. But, especially lately, theyve been the one picking the articles. One girl wanted to write her own column, comparing the weather to different parts of her own life. One girl wanted to start writing some song reviews. So now, every two weeks, shell pick out a couple of songs and write a review about them.

The reporters also cover news like a recent flood at the school caused by a broken water pipe. Yet the real story here is that Nicky Oulette is the schools first journalism teacher in years. The Mustang News had stopped publishing. But now, not only is it back, copies are included every other week in the Lakota Country Times, a local newspaper. This way, school news reaches parents and other people in the community. NICKY OULETTE: I know a lot of schools have their own newspaper or newsletter, but dont know of many who have a newspaper for the school thats part of a reservation-wide or huge area-wide publications. Other student newspapers have been incorporated into Native American papers, but not many. The publisher of the Lakota Country Times, Connie Smith, says the public has welcomed the idea. CONNIE SMITH: Everywhere I go, people are talking to me about how proud they are. The kids do the news. They do the interviews. They take the pictures. Sometimes a teacher may have something that goes in, but mostly its the students. So I think the quality is as good as some of the stories I get from community members, because we get stories and photos from community members that come in. So Ive been really pleased. The idea inspired two other schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation to publish their own papers. They take turns being included in the Lakota Country Times. Brooke Chase Alone works on the Mustang News at Little Wound High School. She says her favorite story so far has been covering the history of the annual Big Foot Ride. This is a two-week trail ride from the Standing Rock Reservation to Wounded Knee. Wounded Knee was where government soldiers killed more than two hundred Sioux in eighteen ninety. The Army called it a battle; Indians called it a massacre. Brooke has a personal connection to the story. BROOKE CHASE ALONE: My grandpa, Percy White Plume, he was one of the original riders. He helped start it the first year it got started. And I just went to his house and interviewed him about it. And its, like, really interesting because you learn a lot of things about him that you cant get from other people, because its like a point of view, like, from their perspective. And thats the VOA Special English Education Report. We welcome your comments at voaspecialenglish.com and on the VOA Learning English page on Facebook. Im Christopher Cruise. ___ Contributing: Jim Kent

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