21 Banknote Knowledge: Who Are the Men on the Money?
DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson.
This week, we play songs from two new albums from music greats Elton John and Leon Russell and Elvis Costello.
We also answer a question about the faces found on American money ...
But first, a report on a shiny gem new to the Smithsonian museum in Washington. (MUSIC)
DOUG JOHNSON: The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History recently added a new gem to its collection. The Cullinan Diamond necklace is now on view at the museum with another famous jewel, the Hope Diamond.
Though smaller than the Hope Diamond, gemologists say the Cullinan Diamond is just as beautiful. Curator Jeffrey Post says it is one of the greatest gifts the museum has ever received. Katherine Cole has more.
KATHERINE COLE: The silver necklace has two hundred fifty-one diamonds. It has a beautiful bow and oval-shaped design in the center. Nine extremely rare blue diamonds are part of the design. The rare blue diamonds total more than five carats.
Like the Hope Diamond, the Cullinan Diamond also has a rich history. It is named after Thomas Cullinan, a famous South African explorer. He owned the Premier Diamond Mine in South Africa. Mr. Cullinan had promised his wife that he would find her the largest diamond in the world. His workers found such a diamond in nineteen-oh-five. It weighed almost three thousand one hundred seven carats before it was cut and polished. At that time, it was the biggest diamond ever discovered.
Thomas Cullinan sold the uncut diamond to the Transvaal government. It was later given to British King Edward VII on his birthday. The diamond was then cut into a number of different jewels which became part of the British Royal Family collection. The most famous of the pieces is known as the Star of Africa.
Mr. Cullinan had the Cullinan Diamond Necklace created as a special present for his wife in
nineteen ten. The necklace was passed down to the first daughter of each family until it was sold by a great-granddaughter in the early nineteen eighties.
Experts say the design of the Cullinan Diamond Necklace is an example of the jewelry of the Edwardian time period when the necklace was created.
The Cullinan Diamond Necklace is on view at the Harry Winston Gallery in the National History Museum. It is on a shiny blue cloth which helps bring out the beauty of its rare blue diamonds. An unidentified person gave the necklace to the museum in honor of its one hundredth anniversary.
It will remain on view at the Harry Winston Gallery until next spring when it moves to its permanent home in the National Gem Gallery.
Men on the Money
Our listener question this week comes from Iraqi Kurdistan. Farman Salih wants to know about the men whose pictures are on American paper money and why they were important. The picture of George Washington is on the one-dollar bill. He served as America‟s first president
from seventeen eighty-nine to seventeen ninety-seven. President Washington has been called the "Father of his Country."
The third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, is on the two-dollar bill. He was the main writer of the Declaration of Independence in seventeen seventy-six. Jefferson was one of the most influential of the nation‟s Founding Fathers. He was also a plant expert, architect, musician and inventor.
Another of America‟s greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, is on the five-dollar bill. He served as
the sixteenth president from eighteen sixty-one until eighteen sixty-five. He successfully led the country through the Civil War, saved the Union and ended slavery.
The picture of Alexander Hamilton appears on the ten-dollar bill. Hamilton was never president. But he was the first Secretary of the Treasury and one of the Founding Fathers. He was also an economist and political philosopher.
Andrew Jackson was the seventh president, serving from eighteen twenty-nine to eighteen thirty-seven. He supported popular democracy and individual liberty. His picture is on the twenty-dollar bill.
Another president is on the fifty-dollar bill. Ulysses S. Grant served from eighteen sixty-nine to eighteen seventy-seven. Before serving as president, Grant was the military commander of Union forces during the Civil War. Under his command, the Union Army defeated Confederate forces. So who do you think is on the one hundred-dollar bill? It is Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was never elected president, but was one of the Founding Fathers. He was also a leading writer and printer, political thinker, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist and diplomat. These American statesmen are on front of the one, two, five, ten, twenty, fifty and one hundred dollar bills. The backs of the notes show images from the nation‟s history or famous places. They are, in order, the Great Seal of the United States, the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Lincoln Memorial. The others are the Treasury Building, the White House, the Capitol building and Independence Hall.
You can learn about how American money is made on the Special English program THIS IS AMERICA on Monday.
DOUG JOHNSON: Musician T-Bone Burnett recently produced two albums. He worked with Elvis Costello, Elton John, Leon Russell and others. Mario Ritter plays some music and tells about the new records.
MARIO RITTER: This is not the first time T-Bone Burnett has worked with singer-songwriter Elvis Costello. They have produced several albums together. T-Bone Burnett has also written and performed on Costello‟s albums.
"National Ransom" is the latest. It is a double album. It has been released digitally and on CD but there is also a vinyl recording for sale. And Costello thinks this is the way it sounds best. He says digital may be easier to get. But he says listeners cheat themselves if they do not hear the vinyl version.
Here Elvis Costello performs "Jimmie Standing in the Rain" from "National Ransom." (MUSIC)
T-Bone Burnett also produced the album "The Union." It features two singer-songwriters, Elton John and Leon Russell. Burnett says the record was made because Elton John considered Leon Russell a musical hero and had always wanted to work with him. Here they perform "Jimmie Rodgers Dream."
Last month, T-Bone Burnett got all three men and a few other artists he works with to perform live together. They held concerts in Boston and New York to raise money for arts and music education in public schools.
We leave you with Elton John and Leon Russell performing "Hearts Have Turned to Stone" from their new album "The Union."
DOUG JOHNSON: I‟m Doug Johnson. Our program was written by June Simms, Shelley Gollust
and Caty Weaver, who also was our producer.
You can get transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our shows at voaspecialenglish.com. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English.
If you have a question about American life, write to email@example.com. Be sure to include your name and country.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA‟s radio magazine in Special English.
22 Indian State Seeks Limits on Microfinance After Reports of Abuses
This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.
Microfinance is a fast-growing part of the financial industry in many developing countries. Micro lenders give small loans to poor people to start or expand businesses.
Microcredit offers a chance to improve lives and reduce poverty. But officials in Andhra Pradesh, in southern India, are investigating if debt collections are linked to a series of suicides among borrowers.
Reddi Subrahmanyam is a rural development official in that state.
REDDI SUBRAHMANYAM: "The feeling in the community is that many of these deaths have occurred immediately after the recovery agents of the microfinance institutions have either visited the house or have done something insulting."
Reports of corruption and abuses have led to emergency measures in Andhra Pradesh to ban some collection methods. These rules also aim to limit costly fees and high interest rates on loans. The Asian Development Bank says microfinance institutions in the Asia-Pacific area charge interest of thirty to seventy percent a year. Charges can be even higher when other costs are added. But micro lenders also face higher operating costs compared to traditional lenders. Groups like the Asian Development Bank oppose limits on interest rates because of these high business costs. Economist Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in two thousand six for his work with microfinance. In the nineteen seventies he started what became the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Grameen says it charges twenty percent for general loans, less for home and student loans. The poorest of the poor pay no interest.
But enough microfinance borrowers are paying enough for their loans to create a profitable business.
MFTransparency is an organization that works with microfinance lenders to make pricing policies more clear. The group is based in the United States.
Chief executive Chuck Waterfield says easy credit can lead some people to borrow more than they can repay. He says abuses affect only a small percentage of India's fifty million microfinance borrowers.
One of the clients of MFTransparency is the Microfinance Institutions Network. That group is fighting the new rules in Andhra Pradesh.
India's biggest microfinance company is SKS Microfinance. In its last budget year it reported profits of eighteen percent. SKS began selling stock on the Bombay Stock Exchange in August. New York University economist Jonathan Morduch says the microcredit industry is young and there are problems. But he says too much regulation could kill it.
And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter with Kate Woodsome. I'm Steve Ember.
23 G-20 Leaders Promise Steps to Avoid Currency War
This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.
Leaders of the world's twenty largest economies met this week in Seoul, South Korea. They agreed to try to let market forces drive currency exchange rates. Their declaration Friday also promised to avoid competitive devaluation of currencies.
A weaker currency lowers the price of a country's exports. That angers other exporters with stronger currencies, and it can lead to so-called currency wars.
Leaders from the Group of 20 urged "advanced economies" to guard against disorderly movements in exchange rates. At the same time, they rejected the idea of setting target amounts for national trade balances.
The United States and South Korea supported the idea. Others, including China, Germany and Japan, opposed it.
Instead, the leaders said they will order their finance ministers to develop a set of "indicative guidelines" early next year. These will measure trade and economic balances, to signal when deficits or surpluses are becoming too large.
President Obama noted that the G-20 leaders made progress in areas like approving reforms for the International Monetary Fund. But he himself failed in efforts to secure a free trade agreement with South Korea. And he made little progress in his push to get China to let the value of its currency rise.
Mr. Obama says the yuan is undervalued. He also said he believes China will continue to make progress on the issue.
BARACK OBAMA: "Letting currencies reflect market fundamentals, allowing your currency to move up and down depending on the role that you‟re playing in the international trading system, is the best way to assure that everybody benefits from trade rather than just some."
G-20 leaders say their Seoul Action Plan will help further strengthen the global economy. Stephen Schwartz is an economist at the Spanish investment bank BBVA in Hong Kong.
STEPHEN SCHWARTZ: "It should help ease some of the recent rhetoric and tensions over currency issues and imbalances for a little while. I stress a little while because as long as we have this very unbalanced global recovery we are going to get periodic tensions in policy setting." After two days in Seoul, President Obama arrived in Japan. Leaders of APEC, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group, are meeting Saturday and Sunday in Yokohama.
The United States is leading the effort for a Trans-Pacific Partnership. This would cut import taxes for nine countries, including Japan. But Japanese farmers are fiercely opposed. Last week, the United States central bank announced a plan to pump more money into the economy to support growth. Some Asian leaders and economists say the plan by the Federal Reserve could send a flood of dollars into Asia. They say prices could rise quickly and form "bubbles," whose collapse could cause another financial crisis.
Japan is the last stop on President Obama's ten-day trip to Asia. In India, he became the first American president to openly support a permanent seat for that country on the United Nations Security Council.
He also visited Indonesia, where he spent four years as a boy.
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.
24 Pearl S. Buck, 1892-1973: Writer Was Most Famous for 'The Good Earth'
FAITH LAPIDUS: I‟m Faith Lapidus.
JIM TEDDER: And I‟m Jim Tedder with PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English. Today we tell about the award-winning writer Pearl S. Buck.
FAITH LAPIDUS: The year was nineteen thirty-one. Americans were suffering through the Great Depression. The famous criminal Al Capone was sent to prison for not paying his taxes. “The Star Spangled Banner” officially became America‟s national song. The Empire State
Building in New York City was completed. And the top selling book in the United States was “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck.
JIM TEDDER: Pearl Buck won the Pulitzer Prize for the best novel by an American writer. She was the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She wrote more than one hundred books. She also wrote short stories, poetry, plays, essays and children‟s literature. But most people remember Pearl Buck for her novels about China. She knew the country and its people very well. For nearly forty years, China was her home. FAITH LAPIDUS: Pearl‟s parents were Caroline and Absalom Sydenstricker. They were
religious workers in China. In eighteen ninety-two they were visiting in the United States when Pearl was born in Hillsboro, West Virginia. Three months after her birth, the family left the
United States and moved back to China.
Pearl and her family lived among the Chinese people. Pearl played with Chinese children and visited their homes. She listened to their ideas and learned about their culture. From an early age, she spoke both Chinese and English.
JIM TEDDER: Pearl‟s education began at home. Her mother taught her many of the things she
would have learned in an American school. A Chinese tutor taught Pearl other subjects. They included the writings of the famous thinker Confucius and Chinese reading, writing and history. When she was seven, she began reading the works of British writer Charles Dickens. Many years later, after she had become a famous author, she said that Dickens‟ writing style had
the greatest influence on her own style.
FAITH LAPIDUS: In nineteen ten, Pearl went back to the United States to study philosophy at Randolph-Macon Woman‟s College in Lynchburg, Virginia. After graduation, she returned to
China. Three years later, she met John Lossing Buck. He was a religious worker who studied agriculture. They were married and moved to a small village in the north of China. Their life among the poorest people provided the subject matter for many of the books she later wrote. (MUSIC)
JIM TEDDER: In nineteen twenty, Pearl and John Buck‟s first child was born. Her name was
Carol. Doctors found that Carol had an unusual disease called PKU. This caused her to have trouble learning. Carol was sent to live at a special school in New Jersey. Pearl Buck was deeply saddened by having to send her only child to live far away from home. She also learned that she would never be able to give birth again.
But if it had not been for Carol‟s health problems, her mother might never have become a famous
writer. The reason was money. Pearl Buck needed a lot of it over the years to pay for her daughter‟s care. So she tried writing books about the subject she knew best. Her first novel was called “East Wind, West Wind.”
It tells the story of a Chinese girl who learns about the western world. But it was Pearl Buck‟s
next book that made her famous and brought the money she needed.
PEARL BUCK: “Now when I began to write, not having anything else to write about, I only knew China. And my first very successful book was “The Good Earth.” I used to say to these young
people, „Why don‟t you write about your peasants? They are wonderful people.‟ And they
would say, „Oh nobody would be interested.‟ And so I said well I‟m gonna write that book
then. If none of you will do it, I will write it. So I wrote „The Good Earth.‟”
FAITH LAPIDUS: “The Good Earth” became the top selling book in the United States in nineteen thirty-one and nineteen thirty-two. Pearl Buck won the Pulitzer Prize. She also received the William Dean Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In nineteen thirty-seven, “The Good Earth” became an Oscar-winning motion picture. The next year, Pearl S.
Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
JIM TEDDER: “The Good Earth” is the story of a poor Chinese man named Wang Lung. His
wife is O-Lan. They work together very hard and finally make enough money to buy some land for a farm.
After a time, they grow enough crops to feed their family well, with some left over to sell. Their lives improve greatly, and they are happy. But the good times do not last. FAITH LAPIDUS: For a long time it does not rain. The land dries up and no crops will
grow. Many people starve to death. Wang sells all he owns, except the land. Once again his family is poor and hungry. They beg on the streets to survive. Wang fears that they will die. But just when it seems that the end is near, good luck arrives.
JIM TEDDER: Poor people attack some rich people, hoping to get food and money. A crowd forces Wang into a rich man‟s home. The rich man fears Wang and gives him gold coins. With
this new-found wealth, Wang and his family survive. Every chance he gets, he buys more land. After a while he is richer than he ever thought he would be. For the rest of his life, Wang finds happiness in owning land and raising crops. He tells his sons that after he dies, they must never sell their land.
PEARL BUCK: “Now you couldn‟t imagine anything less interesting to Americans, you would say, than a book like „The Good Earth.‟ It came in the midst of depression times. And it was a
comfort to the American people to know that there were people worse off than they were.”
FAITH LAPIDUS: In nineteen thirty-two, Pearl Buck wrote a book called “Sons.” It tells about
Wang Lung‟s family after his death. Three years later, she wrote “A House Divided.” This book
is mostly about Wang Lung‟s grandson, Wang Yuan, who lives during a time of revolution in China. This book tells how China‟s people began to change from their old ways to a more modern
way of thinking.
Pearl Buck wrote her first books about China at a time when most people in the world knew almost nothing about the Chinese way of life. She told her stories with honesty. Her readers soon learned that the Chinese were far different from the way they had been shown in Hollywood movies.
JIM TEDDER: After almost forty years in China, the writer moved back to the United States. She bought Green Hills Farm in eastern Pennsylvania. She began to write articles for newspapers and magazines. She expressed her opinion on war, politics, religion, equal rights for all people and many other subjects.
PEARL BUCK: “One of the sad things about war is ...it‟s not so much that you lose the money
because you can always make money, somehow. But you lose people that you can‟t replace … the people who should lead our country are the best, who die early … the bravest, the most brilliant, the ones with the best leadership … and they are the ones who die, out of proportion to their
FAITH LAPIDUS: Pearl Buck‟s ideas often brought her criticism. But she continued to speak
and write about her support for the civil rights of black people in the United States. She also believed in birth control and equal rights for women. She said that there would be world peace only when all races had respect for each other.
PEARL BUCK: “We are one world and if we don‟t know it, it‟s dangerous. But I think we are beginning to know it more and more, and that does not mean that we give up our nationhood or our differences.”
JIM TEDDER: Pearl Buck gave many speeches in America. She talked to young people about the importance of a good education. She told them they needed to know more about other people around the world.
PEARL BUCK: “I beg of you to pay special attention to your history. Not just the history of the
United States, but the history of the countries with which we are involved.”
FAITH LAPIDUS: In nineteen forty-nine, Pearl Buck helped start the Welcome House Adoption Agency. She had become very concerned about the children of mixed races around the world. She urged families to adopt these children without concern for the color of their skin or their cultural background. Pearl and her second husband, Richard Walsh, raised seven adopted children. Two of these were of mixed race. They also cared for many other children while they lived at Green Hills Farm.
JIM TEDDER: Pearl Buck died in nineteen seventy-three. She was eighty years old. She was buried near her house in Pennsylvania. Her memory lives on in the work done by Pearl S. Buck International. This organization provides adoption services and help to adopted people and their families. It also supports cultures around the world and works to end prejudice. FAITH LAPIDUS: This program was written by Jim Tedder and produced by Dana
Demange. I‟m Faith Lapidus.
JIM TEDDER: And I‟m Jim Tedder. You can learn about other famous Americans at
voaspecialenglish.com. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube at VOA Learning English. Join us again next week for PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English.
25 Words and Their Stories: Proverbs, Part 2
Now, the VOA Special English program WORDS AND THEIR STORIES.
A proverb is a short, well known saying that expresses a common truth or belief. Many proverbs give advice about the best way to live.
We asked our listeners to send us their favorite proverbs. A short time later, we received suggestions from around the world. We heard from listeners in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.
The top proverb among these listeners is this one: "Where there is a will, there is a way." This means that you can rise above your problems if you have a goal and work very hard. Some listeners liked another proverb: "Strike while the iron is hot." This means it is best to take action quickly and at the right time. Another favorite proverb was, "God helps those who help themselves."
Xu Da-ju from China wrote that his country has thousands of proverbs. Several of them are also used in the United States. One example is "Birds of a feather flock together." This means that people who are alike often become friends or spend time together.
Another proverb is "Blood is thicker than water." This means family ties are stronger than other relationships. A similar proverb states "Charity begins at home." A person should help his family or close friends before helping others.
Alina from China sent us this proverb: "He who would climb a ladder must begin at the bottom." That is good advice when working around your home or looking for a job.
Antonio Jose from Brazil says his favorite proverb is "Tell me who walks with you, and I'll tell you who you are." Didier Vermeulen of France sent us this one: "It does not matter the speed you go. The most important thing is to never stop."
Wafaa from Egypt says his favorite proverb is, "Think twice, act wise." He also says he is making an effort to use this saying in his life.
Another favorite proverb among our listeners is "Practice makes perfect." This means you will become good at something if you keep doing it. Another popular proverb is: "If you want
something done right, do it yourself."
Najeeb from Afghanistan sent us this proverb: "If you risk nothing, then you risk everything." And, here is the favorite proverb of Marius Meledje in Ivory Coast: "Your defeat now is your victory in the future." He says it means you can learn from your mistakes. This will help you do better when facing similar situations in the future.
This VOA Special English program was written by Shelley Gollust. I'm Faith Lapidus. We will present more programs about proverbs in the future. And you can find more WORDS AND THEIR STORIES at our website, voaspecialenglish.com.
26 New System May Let You Appear Someplace You Have Never Been
This is the VOA Special English Technology Report.
A hologram is a three-dimensional image -- an image that appears to have height, width and depth. More than thirty years ago, Princess Leia gave her famous holographic plea for help in the original "Star Wars" movie. Since then, holograms have become bigger, better and more widely used. Now, researchers have developed a holographic telepresence system. Traditional telepresence systems are used in video conferencing. They present two-dimensional images.
But the new system might be able to send a moving 3-D image of a person over great distances -- and show it in close to real time.
Nasser Peyghambarian is the lead researcher for the project at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He says holographic technology can make people appear in places where they have never been. Nasser Peyghambarian: "People can see you just the way you are as if you've been there." With the new system, the image is refreshed so often that it seems to look like a person's natural movement. An important part of the system is a screen that can refresh the holographic image every two seconds. The screen is made from a special photorefractive material. In experiments, the researchers placed sixteen cameras in a half-circle. They took pictures of people from different positions. Then the researchers sent the images to a different place over the Internet.
Lasers at the other end received the pictures and produced holographs on the screen. Mr. Peyghambarian says the new material permits the images to be continually written, erased and replaced.