41 A Traditional Thanksgiving Meal, With Modern Shortcuts
This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
Thanksgiving Day is America's version of a harvest festival. The holiday is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.
This Thursday, millions of Americans will join family and friends to give thanks and eat a meal with a history that is centuries old.
Early European settlers in North America held other ceremonies where they gave thanks. But what Americans often consider the first Thanksgiving took place in Plymouth Colony. Today we call it Massachusetts.
Those settlers are known as the Pilgrims. They held a three-day celebration in the fall of sixteen twenty-one. They celebrated the harvest with members of a local Indian tribe. The best known food that Americans traditionally eat on Thanksgiving is turkey. The nation's turkey producers are expected to raise two hundred forty-two million birds this year. The government says that is two percent fewer than last year. Last year's turkey production had a value of about three and a half billion dollars.
Thanksgiving turkeys are traditionally served with a bread mixture that some Americans call stuffing. Others call it dressing. Side dishes include cranberries, sweet potatoes and green beans or other vegetables. The meal traditionally ends with a dessert of pumpkin pie or pecan pie. Some Thanksgiving foods have changed over time. For example, most turkeys these days are bred with larger breasts to provide more white meat. Corn -- known in much of the world as maize -- has also changed. It tastes much sweeter than the starchier corn of the past. The way Americans prepare for Thanksgiving has also changed. Economist John Anderson of the American Farm Bureau Federation says people look for ways to save time, though not everyone does.
JOHN ANDERSON: "There are a lot of us who have grandmothers who would not even think of using a store-bought pie crust. And that is kind of the least of the shortcuts that we use." He says shortcuts like buying prepared foods for the holiday are part of a bigger trend in America. JOHN ANDERSON: "If you think about our food in general, not just Thanksgiving dinner, but our food products in general, there has been a tremendous move over the last twenty or thirty years toward more convenience products."
Some people might not have the time or the desire to prepare a big meal, or the space for a lot of guests. Whatever the reason, John Anderson notes that more people go to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner than in the past.
Charity groups and religious organizations will also be busy this Thursday, serving Thanksgiving meals to the needy. The weak economy has increased the number of Americans receiving government assistance to buy food.
And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm Bob Doughty.
42 Using Lasers to Treat Kidney and Liver Tumors
FAITH LAPIDUS: This is SCIENCE IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I’m Faith
BOB DOUGHTY: And I’m Bob Doughty. Today, we will tell about a new cancer treatment and a study of the disease malaria. We will tell about the possibility of drier conditions in many populated areas. And we explain how cutting down on wasted food could lead to energy savings. (MUSIC)
FAITH LAPIDUS: Doctors at the Mayo Clinic are using a process known as MRI-guided laser ablation to fight kidney and liver tumors. They are said to be among the first American doctors to use the process against the cancers.
Until now, doctors in the United States have used laser ablation mainly to treat tumors of the brain, spine and prostate.
Liver cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. It is also the third leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Many liver cancer patients are too sick to survive traditional treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation. Even if they could, medical experts say these treatments only provide a small increase in life expectancy.
BOB DOUGHTY: Eric Walser is an interventional radiologist with the Mayo Clinic in Florida. He was one of the first radiologists to use the MRI-guided laser ablation procedure to treat kidney and liver tumors. He says the process makes it possible for doctors to target and destroy tumors without damaging the rest of the organ.
Patients are placed inside an MRI machine. They are given a drug to keep them from moving during the procedure. A special needle is inserted directly into the tumor and light energy is passed through a laser.
The MRI machine can measure the temperature inside the tumor. Doctors are able to watch a monitor showing the temperature rising. When the tumor is heated to the point of destruction, the laser is turned off. The whole process lasts about two and a half minutes.
FAITH LAPIDUS: Doctor Walser first used the MRI-guided laser procedure in June. The Mayo Clinic reported that he had successfully treated five patients by the middle of October. Earlier this year, doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota used MRI-guided laser ablation to remove tumors of the prostate. Doctor David Woodrum has successfully treated seven prostate patients with the procedure. He says it provides for a less invasive and less traumatic experience. The process is still being developed, but doctors say it could prove to be successful for treating most cancers in the body. The doctors say it should only be used on tumors that are less than five centimeters in size.
BOB DOUGHTY: Malaria kills about one million people a year and sickens another two hundred fifty million. Most of the deaths are in young children in Africa. People become infected when they are bitten by mosquitoes carrying the malaria parasite.
A new report estimates the possibility of ending malaria in countries that have the deadliest form of the disease. Researchers found that this could be possible in most parts of the world within ten to fifteen years. What it would require, they say, is reducing the spread of malaria by ninety percent from two thousand seven rates.
FAITH LAPIDUS: An international team created mathematical models and maps of areas where the disease is gone or almost gone. The report says malaria could be eliminated if countries are serious about using proven control measures like insecticides and bed nets.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation partly financed the research. The study appears in The Lancet medical journal.
Some malaria experts expressed concern about giving too much attention to eliminating the disease. They say such a goal could take many years, if it is possible at all. The concern is that resources for controlling malaria could be lost if the money is spent instead on efforts to defeat it. (MUSIC)
BOB DOUGHTY: A new study shows that long, severe droughts may strike countries with large populations in the not-so-distant future. The study was made for America’s National Center for
NCAR scientist Aiguo Dai led the research. It shows that drought conditions will threaten most of North and South America by the end of this century. The research found that large parts of Eurasia, Africa and Australia are also at risk. But places from Alaska to northern Europe may get more rainfall and snow. The findings appeared in the publication “Wiley Interdisciplinary
Reviews: Climate Change.”
FAITH LAPIDUS: In the study, Mr. Dai examined rising temperatures linked to climate change. He says the higher temperatures probably will create increasingly dry conditions. He says these conditions will be seen across much of the world in the next thirty years. The scientist also considered the possibility that drought could be much worse by the end of the century. At that time, he says, lack of moisture in many places could be as bad as or worse than any in modern time.
He made the predictions after looking at earlier studies and research. His study used modern
proposals of possible conditions. It also employed twenty-two computer climate models and a list of drought conditions. The International Panel on Climate Change used twenty-two models in its two-thousand-seven report.
BOB DOUGHTY: Mr. Dai said he based the new predictions on the best current projections of carbon dioxide and other gases linked to climate change. The projections are estimates of future amounts of such greenhouse gases. He says many conditions will decide what actually happens. The conditions include natural climate cycles and the amount of greenhouse gases that will be released into the air. Two good examples of such cycles are El Nino and La Nina. They are periodic events that change moisture levels in the atmosphere.
FAITH LAPIDUS: The study identified areas threatened with major drying in the future. They include much of Central and South America. Southeast Asia, large parts of southwest Asia, and most of Africa and Australia also will be affected. The research shows that drying in areas along the Mediterranean Sea could also become intense.
Other areas were said to expect more moisture. They are much of Scandinavia, Russia, Canada and Alaska. The study shows that some areas of the Southern Hemisphere also may escape drought.
BOB DOUGHTY: Do not waste food, and you will save energy. That is the message of scientists who say America wastes food energy equal to about three hundred fifty million barrels of oil a year. That represents about two percent of yearly energy usage in the United States. Scientists Amanda Cuellar and Michael Webber work at The University of Texas at Austin. They reported the findings last month in the journal “Environmental Science & Technology.”
Mr. Webber says a lot more energy goes into food than people think. His report estimates that, three years ago, between eight and sixteen percent of all energy used in the United States supported food production.
FAITH LAPIDUS: The Texas researchers estimated the energy intensity of preparing food from agriculture, transportation, processing and food sales. They also included the energy intensity of storing and preparing food. The researchers measured food intensity in British thermal units, better known as BTUs. A BTU is the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of about one-half kilogram of a substance by one degree Fahrenheit.
The scientists say they used information provided by the United States government from nineteen-ninety-five. At that time, the government estimated that twenty-seven percent of food for human consumption was wasted.
BOB DOUGHTY: The report said the most wasted foods were dairy products, eggs, fats, grains and oils. Among the least wasted were dry beans, fish, lentils, meat, poultry, peanuts, peas and tree nuts.
Last year, a report in the journal PLoS One considered the environmental effects of wasting food. Scientists from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases measured the energy content of America’s wasted food. They found that American waste of food
per person has risen by about fifty percent since nineteen seventy-four.
FAITH LAPIDUS: This SCIENCE IN THE NEWS was written by Jerilyn Watson, Caty Weaver and June Simms, who was also our producer. I’m Faith Lapidus.
BOB DOUGHTY: And I’m Bob Doughty. Listen again next week for more news about science in
Special English on the Voice of America.
43 'Tibet in Song' Tells About the Importance of Protecting Musical Traditions
STEVE EMBER: I’m Steve Ember.
SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: And I’m Shirley Griffith with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special
English. Our subjects this week are movies. First, we discuss a movie made by Tibetan filmmaker Ngawang Choephel called “Tibet in Song.” It tells about his efforts to help protect traditional Tibetan music and better understand his own culture and homeland. We also learn about an online short-film festival celebrating women and the Muslim world.
STEVE EMBER: “Tibet in Song” is a celebration of traditional Tibetan folk music. It also explores resistance against cultural repression. The movie gives a clear picture of how China has worked to repress cultural freedom inside Tibet over the past fifty years.
Director Ngawang Choephel was two years old when he and his mother fled Chinese-ruled Tibet in nineteen sixty-eight. He grew up in a refugee camp in India. In the camp he heard traditional Tibetan songs from older refugees.
SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Like other folk music traditions, these Tibetan songs are about everyday life. They deal with subjects including family, social events, love and nature. NGAWANG CHOEPHEL: “Tibetan folk music originated directly from ordinary Tibetan people’s mind. It’s a very pure form of, you know, oral tradition, of our Tibetan people’s history, knowledge and beliefs.”
In nineteen ninety-three, Mr. Choephel graduated from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in Dharamsala, India. Then he received a Fulbright scholarship to study musicology and filmmaking at Middlebury College in the American state of Vermont.
He noticed that the school’s music library had traditional music from all over the world. But it only had one recording of Tibetan music.
He decided to collect Tibetan folk songs himself. In nineteen ninety-five he traveled to Tibet. He visited rural areas and filmed people singing folk songs. After two months, he was arrested by Chinese officials.
NGAWANG CHOEPHEL: “They thought that I was doing a kind of spy work, which I did not.”
STEVE EMBER: Ngawang Choephel was sentenced to eighteen years in prison. He learned folk songs from other prisoners. He wrote down the songs on paper from cigarette packages. He also wrote his own songs.
NGAWANG CHOEPHEL: "I composed the melody in prison and one of my prison mates, he's actually my hero, he wrote the lyrics. It is about his determination. He says that 'No matter how bad enemies are to you, I'll never bow down my head. I'll never stop the fight.'" Ngawang Choephel’s mother started a campaign to urge support for his release. Musicians Paul
McCartney and Annie Lennox became involved, along with several United States lawmakers. Their efforts led to his release in two thousand two. He had been detained for six and a half years. (MUSIC)
SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: When Ngawang Choephel returned to the United States, he decided to expand his project. He would collect Tibetan music and make a documentary movie about his efforts. Some of the recordings used in the movie were filmed by Mr. Choephel before his arrest in nineteen ninety-five. He had sent several tapes to a friend in India, so the recordings survived. NGAWANG CHOEPHEL: "There are about seventeen songs. The story of this film is about the beauty of Tibetan music, and the diversity of Tibetan music and the beauty of the Tibetan culture in general. The film also is about my story and what has happened to me.”
STEVE EMBER: “Tibet in Song” also brings attention to what has happened in Tibet over the last fifty years. Mr. Choephel says that there are not many traditional Tibetan songs left except in some rural areas. He says China saw Tibetan culture as a threat. He says China used to train Tibetan singers to sing Chinese propaganda songs instead of their traditional music. And today, younger generations are more interested in current pop music recordings than music of the past. “Tibet in Song” won the special Jury Prize for Documentary at last year’s Sundance Film Festival. Ngawang Choephel says his movie is a call to action to the world and to the Tibetan people to save this special music before it is gone forever.
SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: An online competition is now ending for what is being called the first-ever international viewing of short films about Islam and women. Women’s Voices Now is an organization that formed in January. Its aim is to empower women by bringing attention to their struggle for civil, economic and political rights. The organization launched the film festival as part of its first year in action.
STEVE EMBER: “Women’s Voices from the Muslim World: A Short-Film Festival” is aimed at
bringing together women from many religions and backgrounds so they can tell their stories. The short movies are about women who live in Muslim majority countries, as well as Muslim women living as minorities around the world.
An invitation to submit films for the online competition went out in early October. The project was open to everyone, no matter his or her film experience, nationality or religion. Organizers will judge the films and give prize money to the winning filmmakers. The top films will also be shown in March at a Women’s Voices Now Festival in Los Angeles, California.
Human rights lawyer Catinca Tabacaru helped create Women’s Voices Now. She says the film festival aims to give a fair and deep look at how Muslim women are defending their rights.
CATINCA TABACARU: “There’s so much work being done in Muslim majority countries and by Muslim women outside of those countries for women’s rights. There is a social movement
happening and that’s what we wanted to get behind.”
Catinca Tabacaru says the festival is the first to show a group of films about women who are in some way touched by Islam. She says it was especially important that some movies pay attention to the successes of Muslim women.
CATINCA TABACARU: “We’re very used to hearing about the Muslim woman as the victim, the oppressed, the veiled. What we are seeing through this film festival is that we’re getting stories which we would have never dreamed of getting. They are about women doing things that, before doing this project, I wouldn’t have imagined.”
SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Organizers chose short films because they are less costly to produce and they can more easily be shared with viewers online. Showing the movies online was important so that people can easily watch them, make comments and rate the movies. Entries for the festival include a wide range of movies from around the world. Some tell imaginary stories, while others are documentaries. Countries represented include Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Niger and Turkey. STEVE EMBER: Iranian-born Mostafa Heravi’s movie “Somaye” has no words. His movie
shows striking images of a woman in a head-covering alone on a windy beach.
Pakistani Sanaa Iftikhar made a movie called “I Accept, I Accept, I Accept.” The film shows a young bride preparing her clothing and jewelry for her marriage ceremony. She expresses her doubts and fears about her future with her husband as she gives up her independence. Jehan Harney in the United States submitted a film called “The Color of Veil.” It tells about the
experiences of an American Muslim woman named Kimberly who wears a special cloth to cover her hair. She talks about how it was not easy for her to find a job because people did not like her head-covering.
Many of the films are from Afghanistan. One is called “We Are Postmodern” by Alka Sadat. It shows a girl and her mother begging for money in the street, day after day. A young boy stops to give them a coin every time he passes them.
Another Afghan film is called “A, B, C.” This movie by Mahbooba Ibrahimi tells about a
fifteen-year-old Afghan girl named Tamanna. She is disabled and cannot attend school. Her mother tries to find a teacher who will give her daughter private lessons so she can have an education.
SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Catinca Tabacaru says the response to the online film competition has been very good. More than seventy-five films have been entered. She says she hopes the films will get people to open their minds about the Muslim world.
CATINCA TABACARU :"And this is one thing this festival does; it provides information and it provides a new and more complex and nuanced view of these women, which I hope will challenge perceptions and will challenge the way we are so typically used to relating to the Muslim world. I think it's very important to the future."
STEVE EMBER: This program was written and produced by Dana Demange, with reporting by Faiza Elmasry and Julie Taboh. I’m Steve Ember.
SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: And I’m Shirley Griffith. Our programs are online with transcripts and
MP3 files at voaspecialenglish.com. And you can find us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube at VOA Learning English. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.
44 WHO Says Health Debts Push 100 Million a Year Into Poverty
This is the VOA Special English Health Report.
The World Health Organization says the rising cost of health care is a struggle for people and governments around the world.
The problem is greatest in countries where people must often pay directly for services. A new report says these costs push one hundred million people into poverty each year. Aging populations are one reason why health costs are rising. Also, more people are getting chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease that require long-term treatment. And new treatments for health conditions are more costly than old ones.
This year's "World Health Report" offers guidelines to strengthen health financing systems and make services available to more people.
The report says about one billion people do not get the care they need because it costs too much or it is unavailable.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan says no one should have to risk financial ruin to take care of their health. David Evans agrees. He is the director of health systems financing for the WHO, which is part of the United Nations.
DAVID EVANS: "But what the report says, it’s not just not acceptable, but it’s not necessary. Something could be done and something can be done about it now."
The report says one thing governments can do is provide more money for health care. For example, ten years ago, African leaders agreed to spend fifteen percent of government funds on health. So far, only Liberia, Rwanda and Tanzania have met that goal.
The report says governments could also raise money more fairly and spend it more wisely. David Evans says several countries are doing this.
DAVID EVANS: "Gabon is a low-income country. It has introduced a tax on financial transactions and that is going to help. If Gabon can do something like that, other countries can do it. "In terms of financial risk protection, Thailand has introduced health insurance for everyone. And that health insurance is tax-funded, particularly for the poor, so that what happens is the insurance now pays the cost that the people would have paid previously out of their own pockets." The WHO says smarter spending could reduce health care costs between twenty and forty percent. The report identifies ten areas where better policies and practices could make health systems more efficient.
One area is in the purchase of medicines. The report says higher-priced drugs are often chosen
even when lower-priced medicines of the same quality are available. Also, medicines can go to waste simply because the right storage is not available.
And that's the VOA Special English Health Report. I'm Shirley Griffith.
45 Giving Thanks for a Winning Soccer Team
This is the VOA Special English Education Report.
Thursday is the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States. Americans gather with family and friends to share a meal. Some celebrate the holiday by telling what they are most thankful for. This holiday season, a group of student-athletes in Woodburn, Oregon, has given its community something to be thankful for.
The Woodburn High School boys soccer team has reached the state soccer championship playoffs for twenty-five straight seasons. But the Bulldogs had never won the state championship -- until this year.
Their victory on Saturday also represents a win for their mostly Hispanic hometown. Writer Steve Wilson spent a year recording the successes and problems of the team. He wrote a book called “The Boys from Little Mexico: A Season Chasing the American Dream.” It tells about a community struggling with issues such as immigration and cultural changes.
Migrant farm workers from Mexico started coming to Woodburn, Oregon about fifty years ago. Many of the workers stayed and made the town their home. So the town became known as "Little Mexico."
Steve Wilson thinks the Woodburn boys soccer team’s continued hard work and effort to win the state championship is similar to their cultural experiences.
Like many Mexican-Americans, the boys on the Woodburn team faced major problems. They include poverty, a language barrier and immigration issues. Mr. Wilson wondered if those challenges were preventing the team from reaching its goal of winning a state championship. So he decided to follow the team for an entire season. He got to know the players, coaches and supporters.
One of the players he writes about in the book is Martin Maldonado-Cortez. Martin says he and the other boys on the team knew that Woodburn had a bad image.
The town has a population of only twenty-two thousand people. But it faces many of the same problems found in large cities. These include gang violence and illegal drugs. He says when the
team went to play other schools the people did not act friendly toward them. Martin says his coaches told him to show pride in his culture. They told him to make an effort to be successful in life -- and not just on the field.
And that’s the VOA Special English Education Report. Our programs are online with transcripts
and MP3 files at voaspecialenglish.com. And you can find us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember.
46 American History Series: The United States Turns Inward After World War One
MARIO RITTER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA
The years after World War One were an important turning point in the making of the American nation. The country turned away from the problems of Europe. Now it would deal with problems of its own.
This week in our series, Kay Gallant and MAURICE JOYCE: tell about the many changes in America during the early nineteen twenties.
KAY GALLANT: There was a presidential election in America in nineteen twenty. President Woodrow Wilson was not a candidate. He had suffered a stroke and was too sick. The two major candidates were Democrat James Cox and Republican Warren Harding. Voters had a clear choice between the two candidates.
Cox supported the ideas of President Wilson. He believed the United States should take an active part in world affairs. Harding opposed the idea of internationalism. He believed the United States should worry only about events within its own borders.
Warren Harding won the election. By their votes, Americans made clear they were tired of sacrificing lives and money to solve other people's problems. They just wanted to live their own lives and make their own country a better place.
MAURICE JOYCE: This was a great change in the nation's thinking. For twenty years, since the beginning of the century, the United States had become more involved in international events.