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Boeing Protests Air Force Contract on Tankers

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 Boeing Protests Air Force Contract on Tankers

2008-03-14

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This is the VOA Special English ECONOMICS REPORT.

Must a country buy from its own defense suppliers? This is one of the questions in Washington in a dispute over a deal worth at least thirty-five billion dollars. The contract will supply the Air Force with one hundred seventy-nine tankers.

The Air Force says it has a serious need for new planes to refuel aircraft in mid-flight. Boeing has a long history of supplying tankers to the Air Force.

But on February twenty-ninth, the Air Force awarded the contract to another American company, Northrop Grumman, teamed with EADS. EADS is the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company, the parent of Airbus.

This week, Boeing protested the decision. The Government Accountability Office will study the appeal and expects to have a report by June nineteenth.

Boeing says it found problems in the process used to reach the decision. The Air Force has called the process fair and open.

But the decision not to give the contract to the Chicago-based company has angered lawmakers in Congress from states with Boeing factories. These include Washington state and Kansas.

Boeing offered a version of its Seven Sixty-seven airplane for the new tankers. Northrop Grumman and EADS based their tanker on the Airbus A-Three-Thirty. That plane is larger and would be able to carry more fuel.

There is debate about the possible effect on American jobs because production would be split between Europe and the United States. There is also dispute about what the deal could mean for national security. In any case, Boeing says the Air Force changed requirements in the middle of the competition.

Boeing and Airbus each had record numbers of orders last year for commercial airplanes. Demand is strong in Europe and Asia. But this week, EADS reported a loss of six hundred eighty-five million dollars last year, after a profit in two thousand six.

Airbus has had delays with its huge, new A-Three-Eighty passenger plane. A weak dollar also played a part in the loss.

Boeing has had its own problems with its new Seven Eighty-seven Dreamliner. To build it, the company is using a new system of suppliers around the world. Boeing says the Dreamliner could enter service early next year. Many buyers are waiting, but the new plane has not even had its first flight. The latest progress report is expected by the end of the month.

And that's the VOA Special English ECONOMICS REPORT, written by Mario Ritter. For more news, go to voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.
 
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Small-Town Georgia Influences Singer Lizz Wright's Latest Effort

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 Small-Town Georgia Influences Singer Lizz Wright's Latest Effort

2008-03-14

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[align=left]
Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English. I'm Doug Johnson.

On our show this week we play music from jazz singer Lizz Wright ??br />
Answer a listener question about the American presidential candidates ??br />
And, visit former President Abraham Lincoln's cottage, now a museum near Washington, D.C.
#Lincoln's Cottage

A newly restored house has opened in Washington, D.C. The house looks like it did during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln in the early eighteen sixties. In fact, Mister Lincoln and his family lived in the house while he was president. Faith Lapidus explains.

The house is known as President Lincoln's Cottage. He and his family lived there during the summers to escape the heat and noise of the White House during the Civil War. The cottage is on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. More than one thousand retired American military veterans live there today.

Washington banker George Riggs built the cottage in eighteen forty-two. He sold the house and land to the government about ten years later. The government built a large home for military veterans on the land. They also expanded the house nearby.

James Buchanan was the first president to use this house. But the Lincolns used it the most. They moved there each June or July, and did not return to the White House until early November.

Back then, the cottage was outside the city of Washington, about one and one-half kilometers north of the White House. President Lincoln returned to the cottage every night from the White House.

Today, the cottage and the retirement home are inside the city limits, in an area where many people live. The house has been open to visitors for only about one month. It does not have a lot of furniture, yet it tells many stories about President Lincoln and his family.

One story that many people do not know is that President Lincoln was the object of an assassination attempt near the cottage in eighteen sixty-four. Coming back from the White House, he was riding a horse alone at night when a bullet went through his tall hat. He did not take the incident seriously. But it led the War Department to increase security for the president.

Later, John Wilkes Booth watched the president ride from the cottage to the White House. He had planned to kidnap Mister Lincoln and exchange him for captured Confederate soldiers. But there were too many guards protecting the president. So Booth changed his plans. He shot and killed the president at Ford's Theatre in Washington in eighteen sixty-five.

You can hear more stories about President Lincoln's Cottage on the Special English program THIS IS AMERICA on Monday, March seventeenth.

#Presidential Candidates' Platforms

Our listener question this week is about the American presidential election. Armand Ngouala asks what the Democratic Party candidates plan to do if elected president, especially on the issue of Iraq.

Right now the race for the Democratic Party nomination is close. On Tuesday, Illinois Senator Barack Obama won the Democratic nominating election in Mississippi. A week earlier, New York Senator Hillary Clinton won in nominating elections in three states -- Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas. But she lost to Mister Obama in Vermont. And he remains the overall leader in the competition.

The two candidates hold similar positions, especially on social issues. For example, both support a woman's right to seek an abortion. Both also support stem cell research. And both candidates believe homosexuals should have rights to form legal unions similar to marriage. Senators Clinton and Obama also have plans that they say will provide health care to all Americans. Both also have plans to end the war in Iraq.

Barack Obama says as president he would immediately begin troop withdrawals from Iraq. He says he would get all American combat forces out of Iraq within sixteen months. The senator says he would leave some troops in the country to protect the American embassy and diplomats. But, he says he would not permit the building of any permanent American bases in Iraq.

Hillary Clinton says she would meet with America's top military and civilian security officials shortly after taking office. She says she would order them to make a plan to begin withdrawing troops within the first sixty days of her presidency.

Senator Clinton says she would also increase aid to Iraq and make sure it reaches the people who need it. And she says she supports the appointment of a high level United Nations representative to help negotiate peace among Iraqi groups.

Last week, Senator John McCain of Arizona gained enough delegates to become the Republican Party nominee for president. Senator McCain does not support ending the war in Iraq. He believes more American troops need to be deployed to crush rebel forces, end fighting among different Muslim groups and disarm militias. He says the United States must also help to strengthen the Iraqi armed forces and police. Senator McCain says political progress in Iraq depends on its security.

#Lizz Wright

Lizz Wright is a singer with a rich and smoky voice. The twenty-eight year old performer's third album is "The Orchard." She says her childhood in a small town in rural Georgia influenced the album. Critics say it is her best yet. Barbara Klein plays some of Wright's music.

#BARBARA KLEIN:

Before she began writing songs for a new album, Lizz Wright returned to her family's home in Georgia. She took photographs of the countryside and places that were important to her. Then she showed the photographs to people at her record company, Verve. She explained that this was the world she wanted to tell about in her album. Here is the song "Coming Home."
Lizz Wright first began singing and playing music as a young child at the religious center where her father worked. You can hear the influence of this gospel music in many of her songs. As an adult, Wright studied music at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Later, critics praised her singing in a traveling musical show honoring the blues singer Billie Holiday. On her earlier albums, Wright borrowed the songs and stories of other performers. She says that "The Orchard" mainly tells her own story. Here is "My Heart."
Lizz Wright also sings songs by other musicians on this album. For example, she performs a version of "Strange" by the country and western singer Patsy Cline. We leave you with a song that was first made famous by Tina Turner. Lizz Wright says she wanted to sing like Tina Turner's fiercely powerful voice in her own version of the song "I Idolize You."
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

It was written by Dana Demange, Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver, who was also our producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.

Send your questions about American life to mosaic@voanews.com. Please include your full name and mailing address. Or write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.
 
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Building a Better Cook Stove for the World's Poor

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 Building a Better Cook Stove for the World's Poor

2008-03-17

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This is the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

Breathing smoke from cooking stoves or open fires is a common cause of lung infections in developing countries. Indoor air pollution is blamed for an estimated four thousand deaths every day, mostly women and children.

A nonprofit group based in the American state of Colorado is working to save lives. Researchers at Envirofit International have developed a clean-burning cook stove that uses less fuel and reduces smoke.

They say it cuts the smoke and dangerous gases by up to eighty percent compared to open fires or simple traditional stoves. The cook stove was designed to produce the greatest amount of heat in the shortest amount of time and with the least amount of fuel. It can burn wood, animal waste or crop waste.

The Shell Foundation has formed a partnership with Envirofit to market the cook stoves. The British charity, established by the Shell Group in the year two thousand, has invested ten million dollars in a pilot project for India.

Martha Kohlhagen at Envirofit tells us that as many as ten million stoves will be sent to southern India by the end of this year. She says the stoves are being manufactured in China and will begin arriving in May. The stoves are designed to have a lifetime of up to three years at a cost of about fifteen dollars.

After India, the plan is to market them to China and Brazil, and to other countries around the world. Envirofit expects twenty-five million dollars from the Shell Foundation and other donors over the next five years to support its efforts.

Nongovernmental organizations and local stores, in some cases, will sell the stoves in villages. The price in different countries will be based on demand and local economic conditions.

Martha Kohlhagen says Envirofit will also work with local micro lending organizations to help support the sale of the stoves.

Envirofit says it will use any future profits from the stoves for further research and development. The group wants to develop combination technology, to be able use energy from the cook stove to provide things like heat or light.

Two students at Colorado State University, Tim Bauer and Nathan Lorenz, started Envirofit International in two thousand three. The group has ties to the university. Envirofit developed from research work in the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory at Colorado State.

And that's the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT, written by Jill Moss.
 
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The Story of Longitude

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 The Story of Longitude

2008-04-02

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[align=left]This is Steve Ember.

And this is Bob Doughty with the VOA Special English program EXPLORATIONS. Today, we tell about how people learned an important piece of information necessary for safely sailing on the oceans. It is called longitude.
On a foggy October night in seventeen-oh-seven, four English navy ships hit rocks in the Atlantic Ocean and sank. Two thousand men drowned. The ships had been sailing in the thick fog for twelve days. There was no sure way to know where they were. The commander of the ships had been worried that they could hit rocks if they were not careful. He asked his navigators for their opinion on their location in the ocean.

The navigators did not really know. They told the commander they thought they were west of a small island near the coast of northwestern France.

They were wrong. Instead, they sailed onto rocks near a small group of islands southwest of England's Atlantic coast. The navigators' lack of knowledge led to the loss of four ships and two thousand lives.

When people began sailing out of sight of land, sailors did not know how to tell where they were on the open sea. Land travelers can look at a mountain, or a river, or an object that shows them where they are in relation to where they came from. On the ocean, however, there is no sign to tell a sailor where he is.

The most important device for knowing directions on the ocean is a compass. A compass is a device containing a metal object that points toward the magnetic north pole. This shows navigators the direction of north, and therefore also south, east, and west. But sailors need more information to sail safely on the open sea.

Most maps of the world show lines that are not on the Earth's surface. One line is the equator. It is an imaginary line around the widest part of the Earth. There are similar lines both north and south of the equator. These circles become smaller and smaller toward the north pole and the south pole.

These lines, or circles, are parallel - meaning that they are equally distant from each other at any point around the world. These lines show what is called latitude.

A navigator can know the latitude of his ship by observing the location of stars, where the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, and what time of year it is. With this information he knows where his ship is in relation to the north or south pole and the equator.

Still, there is one more important piece of information necessary for safely sailing the oceans. For many centuries, scientists, astronomers and inventors searched for a way to tell longitude. The lines of longitude go the other way from latitude lines. They stretch from the north pole to the south pole, and back again in great circles of the same size. All of the lines of longitude meet at the top and bottom of the world.

In her book, "Longitude," writer Dava Sobel tells the story about longitude and how the problem of knowing it was solved.
For centuries, the great scientists of the world struggled to develop a way to learn longitude. To learn longitude at any place requires knowledge about time. A navigator needs to know what time it is on his ship and also the time at another place of known longitude - at the very same moment.

The Earth takes twenty-four hours to complete one full turn or revolution of three-hundred-sixty degrees. One hour marks one twenty-fourth of a turn, or fifteen degrees. So each hour's time difference between the ship and the starting point marks a ship's progress of fifteen degrees of longitude to the east or west. Those fifteen degrees of longitude mark a distance traveled.

At the equator, where the Earth is widest, fifteen degrees stretches about one thousand six hundred kilometers. North or south of that line, however, the distance value of each degree decreases. One degree of longitude equals four minutes of time all around the world. But in measuring distance, one degree shrinks from about one hundred nine kilometers at the equator to nothing at the north and south poles.

For many centuries, navigators hoped they could find longitude by observing the movement of stars at night. During the day, the sun provided information about the time on a ship, and its direction. However, it did not provide necessary information about the time somewhere else. In the sixteenth century, one astronomer suggested that navigators could observe the moon as it passed in front of different known stars to tell longitude. But, there was not enough information about the stars to use this method effectively. Astronomers could not tell exactly where the moon would be from one night or day to the next.

Yet it seemed to those seeking to solve the longitude problem that the only solution was in the moon and stars.
During the Seventeenth Century, English astronomers began a major effort to map the stars and their relationship to the moon as it passed across the sky. Royal Astronomer John Flamsteed worked at this task for forty years. The next Royal Astronomer, Edmund Halley, spent another forty years gathering information about the moon's orbit.

After many years of gathering the necessary information, it became possible to learn longitude by observing the stars and the moon. In seventeen sixty-six, Royal Astronomer Nevil Maskelyne published the Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris.

It contained all the necessary information about the moon and stars that sailors would need to help them learn their longitude.

This new method was not simple. A navigator had to use complex observing instruments to note the position of the moon and stars. Then he had to seek the correct information in the Nautical Almanac about the moon and stars at that time of night or day. The final step in the process was to take the mathematical information from the book, link it to the current information and solve the resulting problem. This took an average of four hours to do.

While scientists were studying the stars and moon to solve the longitude problem, a man named John Harrison was working on another project. He was trying to build a clock that would help sailors learn longitude. His task also was difficult and complex. Mister Harrison had to develop a clock that was not affected by the movement of a ship on the ocean or changes in temperature or atmospheric pressure.

He began developing his clock in seventeen thirty. It took five years to complete. The complex device weighed thirty-four kilograms. Several years later, Mister Harrison built a second clock. It was smaller, but weighed more than the first. Mister Harrison was not satisfied and began working on yet another device.

Twenty years later, he completed a device that was smaller than the first two, and

weighed less. But still Mister Harrison was not satisfied.

Two years later, in seventeen fifty-seven, he produced a small clock that he could hold in his hand. The clock could tell the correct time in two places, meeting the requirements for learning longitude on the sea.

For many years after Mister Harrison's work was completed, the idea of using a clock to learn longitude was rejected. However, that opinion changed when manufacturers learned how to make better and less costly versions of Mister Harrison's clocks. The clocks became known as chronometers. By eighteen fifteen, five thousand chronometers were in use on ships sailing the world's oceans. The complex documents and mathematical work were no longer necessary. Almost any sailor could tell what his longitude was by simply looking at a clock. The world had changed.

John Harrison's clocks can be seen today at the Old Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England. The first three are still operating, showing the correct time. To look at them is to see the simple solution to a problem that worried people for many centuries. Today, the solution to the problem is so common that it is difficult to understand that there was a problem at all.
This program was written by Oliver Chanler and produced by Paul Thompson. Our studio engineer was Al Alaby. This is Steve Ember.

And this is Bob Doughty. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS, a program in Special English on the Voice of America.
 
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Pope Says World Must Intervene If Nations Do Not Protect Human Rights

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 Pope Says World Must Intervene If Nations Do Not Protect Human Rights

Friday, April 18, 2008 03:00:04 PM


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[align=left]This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

Pope Benedict this week made his first visit to the United States since being elected leader of the Roman Catholic Church three years ago.

President Bush met the pope on his arrival Tuesday from Rome. After events in Washington, including his eighty-first birthday, Benedict flew to New York City on Friday for three days there.

He said in a speech to the United Nations that all nations have a duty to protect people from human rights violations and humanitarian crises. If states are unable to guarantee such protection, he said, then the international community must intervene.

He said supporting human rights remains the most effective way to eliminate inequalities between countries and social groups, and to increase security.

Catholics are the largest single religious group in the United States. A recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life estimated that almost one-fourth of adults belong to the church.

A large number of American Catholics, however, have left the church or dissented from its teachings. Yet, in the last thirty years, the share of Catholics in America has remained almost unchanged. This is mainly because of Catholic immigrants, mostly from Latin America.

Throughout the week, Pope Benedict the Sixteenth expressed regret about the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy. He said the abuse has caused great suffering for the church in America and for him personally. He said the situation has sometimes been handled very badly.

The American church says almost fourteen thousand claims of abuse have been brought against Catholic clergy since nineteen fifty. So far, the church has paid more than two billion dollars to victims, largely in the last six years.

On Thursday the pope met with several victims and apologized to them. Reaction to the meeting was mixed. Some activists said it was just for show; others said it was an important step.

Now, we answer a question. Sholeh from Indonesia wants to know how religions compare in size in the United States.

That recent study said almost eight out of ten adults are Christian. Catholics are the largest Christian group. More than half of Christians are Protestant, but the Protestant tradition has many different denominations.

The study said less than two percent of adults in the United States are Jewish and six-tenths of one percent are Muslim. Among other religions, Buddhists and Hindus also each represent less than one percent.

The researchers found that sixteen percent of American adults do not identify with any religion. And they said a surprisingly high number of Americans change religions.

The study found that more than one-fourth of American adults have left the faith of their childhood for another religion or no religion. That jumps to forty-four percent if it includes movement from one Protestant denomination to another.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.
 
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New Malaria Drug Launched in Latin America, Southeast Asia

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 New Malaria Drug Launched in Latin America, Southeast Asia

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 05:30:09 AM

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[align=left]This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

A Brazilian drug company and a nonprofit group have developed a new, simplified malaria treatment.

Patients have to take only one tablet a day for three days for some ages, or two tablets a day for three days for other ages.

The medicine combines two existing malaria drugs, artesunate and mefloquine. This combination has been widely used in recent years in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

The Brazilian government will make the new treatment available throughout Latin America and Southeast Asia over this year and next. The fixed-dose drug will be offered to public agencies at a target price of two and a half dollars for the full adult treatment.

Bernard Pecoul is head of the nonprofit group, called the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative. He says the new formulation is safe and fast-acting, and effective for children and adults.

The World Health Organization says artemisinin-based combination treatments are the best way to treat common malaria. Research shows that the simpler the treatment, the more likely people are to complete it. People increase the risk of drug resistance when they do not complete a full treatment.

Researchers tested the new medicine in a one-year study of seventeen thousand patients in the state of Acre in the Brazilian Amazon. Health care resources in the area were also expanded, including early identification of malaria. Health officials say the result was a thirty-six percent drop in cases.

Malaria is caused by a parasite which is passed to humans though mosquito bites. As many as five hundred million infections happen every year. Around sixty percent of the cases, and more than eighty percent of the deaths, happen in Africa south of the Sahara. Africa suffers more than a million deaths, mostly children.

Doctor Pecoul says his organization is supporting a study in Tanzania to see if the new drug could be used successfully in Africa. Currently in Africa, there are two first-line treatments with artesunate and other drugs. He says artesunate and mefloquine could have a use in places like eastern Africa where there are high levels of resistance to several drugs.

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative began in two thousand three. It was established by the Pasteur Institute and Doctors Without Borders along with four publicly supported research organizations.

And that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Caty Weaver. For transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our reports, go to voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.
 
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World Food Crisis Could Push Millions of People Into Poverty

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 World Food Crisis Could Push Millions of People Into Poverty

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 05:30:04 AM

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[align=left]
#VOICE ONE:

I'm Steve Ember.

#VOICE TWO:

And I'm Barbara Klein with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today we tell about growing food problems around the world.

#(MUSIC)

#VOICE ONE:

Food prices are rising in many countries. Economic policy makers warn that the effect of rising food prices could push millions of people into poverty. Aid organizations are concerned that they will not be able to feed the poorest people.

The rising cost of food caused riots in a number of countries in recent weeks. International officials met this month to take steps in an effort to ease the problem.

#VOICE TWO:

Last Friday, the United Nations World Food Program urgently appealed for two hundred fifty-six million dollars in donations. The World Food Program says it needs that amount in addition to the five hundred million dollars it requested last month.

The head of the U.N. agency, Josette Sheeran, said the cost of food the program buys has risen more than fifty percent in less than one year. She says this is forcing the agency to either raise more money or help fewer people. She says higher food prices are threatening the security of countries around the world.

Another aid agency says rising food prices are hurting efforts to fight poverty. The Asian Development Bank has asked governments to avoid trade restrictions that might increase the crisis.

#VOICE ONE:

International aid officials met in Italy last week to discuss ways of dealing with food problems around the world. The meetings involved representatives of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, CARE and Oxfam.

The aid agencies say about eight hundred fifty million people have been suffering from hunger. And that was before the latest price increases began causing food shortages and unrest. At least ten million people die from the effects of poor diet each year and that number is increasing.

#VOICE TWO:

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank met earlier this month in Washington, D.C. World Bank President Robert Zoellick said hunger, malnutrition and food policy are important issues. He urged food donor nations to provide immediate aid to help poor countries deal with the crisis.

Mister Zoellick said a doubling of food prices over the last three years could push one hundred million people in poor countries deeper into poverty. And that could hurt future generations. He also said the price of rice has increased about seventy-five percent in just two months, to near historic levels. Wheat prices have risen one hundred twenty percent in the past year.

#(MUSIC)

#VOICE ONE:

There are several reasons for this food crisis. Farmers are planting more wheat and rice. But some rice-producing countries have cut exports to protect their own supplies. And population growth is raising demand. Higher fuel prices are also partly to blame for rising food prices. The International Food Policy Research Council says rising prices for fuel affect the cost of production. Record oil prices have meant higher costs for oil-based fertilizers, and for energy and transportation.

#VOICE TWO:

Increased oil prices and concerns about climate change have led some farmers to raise crops for use in biofuels, such as ethanol. These fuels are made at least partly from biological material, such as corn. Biofuels burn cleaner than oil or gasoline. As the price of oil rises, farmers are finding it more profitable to raise corn for ethanol, instead of for food.

The World Bank says concerns about oil prices, energy security and climate change have led governments to urge people to make and use biofuels. That means greater demand for unprocessed materials, including wheat, soy, palm oil and corn. Bank officials say this results in costlier food.

#VOICE ONE:

Some critics of biofuels say that using food-based fuel for transportation leads to a competition for food between people and cars. Kimberly Elliott of the Center for Global Development says governments should stop placing so much importance on biofuels like ethanol.

The American state of Iowa is among the nation's leaders in growing corn and ethanol production. Michael Ott is the head of a trade group for biofuel producers. He says ethanol production is not really a choice between food and fuel. He says people cannot eat the corn used to make fuel. People eat only about five percent of the corn crop. The rest is fed to animals or used in other products.

Kimberly Elliott says the long-term answer is to put more effort on developing new kinds of biofuels. These include ethanol that comes from switchgrass or from the outer area of the corn plant instead of the corn itself.

#VOICE TWO:

Food also costs more because more people are eating meat and milk products in economies like China and India. More grain is being used to feed farm animals.

Weather has also pushed up prices. For example, Australia, a major wheat exporter, has received little rain recently. Crop diseases in other parts of the world have also added to the problem.

#(MUSIC)

#VOICE ONE:

High food prices have the most serious effect on the poorest people. For example, World Bank President Robert Zoellick says two kilograms of rice now cost about half of the daily wages of a poor family in Bangladesh.

Christopher Barrett is an agricultural economist at Cornell University in New York State. He says many poor farmers use more of their crops than they sell. He says more investment is needed in agricultural research. Another expert, Gerald Nelson, says what is needed is another "Green Revolution" to increase productivity.

#VOICE TWO:

Last week, President Bush released two hundred million dollars in emergency food aid. It will be sent to countries in Africa and other areas.

The Bush administration said the President has urged his administration to develop a long-term plan that helps poor and hungry people around the world.

In Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said his nation would double its emergency food aid to meet the food crisis. Mister Sarkozy said French aid would increase to about one hundred million dollars this year. He also urged aid agencies, financial organizations, private industry and governments to work together to solve the crisis.

#(MUSIC)

#VOICE ONE:

The food crisis has caused rioting in parts of Africa and Southeast Asia. In Haiti, days of protests against rising food prices turned violent earlier this month. Several people were killed. The Haitian parliament ousted the country's prime minister, Jacques Edouard Alexis. Haiti's president, Rene Preval, approved a series of emergency aid measures. He announced plans to work with local suppliers and international aid groups to cut the price of rice by fifteen percent. The World Bank also said it would provide ten million dollars to help Haiti.

People in Haiti's capital say higher fuel prices and the changing value of the American dollar are to blame for the rising costs of imported foods and other goods. Many Haitians earn less than two dollars a day. They have suffered the most from the rising cost of rice and other products.

#VOICE TWO:

The United Nations World Food Program warned last week that North Korea is also facing a food crisis. The main reasons are food price increases and the lasting effects of severe flooding last year. U.N. officials said prices for foods like corn and grain have at least doubled since last year. They say urgent action is needed to prevent a serious tragedy in North Korea.

#VOICE ONE:

But there was some good news from another country. Bangladesh says its current rice harvest is very successful. Rice is the main crop in Bangladesh. The majority of the population works in agriculture.

The government has ordered the country's five hundred thousand-member army to eat potatoes instead of rice and wheat. This is meant to guarantee that civilians have enough rice to eat.

A World Food Program official in Bangladesh says the general population will also need to eat more potatoes, which is not a traditional food. Bangladesh suffered two serious floods and a powerful storm in the past year. The natural disasters ruined several million tons of food grains.

#(MUSIC)

#VOICE TWO:

This program was written by Shelley Gollust and produced by Mario Ritter. I'm Barbara Klein.

#VOICE ONE:

And I'm Steve Ember. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs are at voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.
 
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Deaths in Blood-Thinner Patients Bring Calls for Answers

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 Deaths in Blood-Thinner Patients Bring Calls for Answers

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 02:30:09 AM

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This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

Heparin is a blood-thinning medicine made from pig intestines, which often come from small farms in China. The drug is often used to prevent blockages during kidney dialysis treatment and different operations.

But in February, a major producer, Baxter International, recalled almost all of its heparin. Tests showed the presence of a chemical called oversulfated chondroitin sulfate. This is chemically similar to heparin but should not have been used. Who added it, and why, remains unclear.

Officials in the United States have received hundreds of reports of severe reactions, including deaths.

On April twenty-first, the Food and Drug Administration released a warning letter to a Chinese supplier for the Baxter heparin. The letter said Changzhou SPL had received material from an unacceptable supplier, and could not purify the materials used to make the drug. F.D.A. inspectors found that the company did not follow good manufacturing practice.

Chinese officials have suggested that the contaminant entered the heparin during the finishing process in the United States. Baxter disagreed. A Chinese delegation visited a Baxter factory in New Jersey last week.

Scientists have offered explanations for how the chemical could have caused the allergic reactions and low blood pressure seen in patients.

Reports from two teams were published online last week in the New England Journal of Medicine and Nature Biotechnology. Both teams were led by Professor Ram Sasisekharan at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Officials in the United States are investigating eighty-one deaths in heparin patients with signs of allergic reactions or low blood pressure. Most of these deaths happened between November of last year and February of this year. But F.D.A. officials say the reactions may not have been the cause of death in all cases.

China says there is no proof of a connection between the contaminant and the deaths. The chemical has been found in heparin supplies in other countries. But Chinese officials note that the United States and Germany are the only countries that have reported any health problems.

The widespread use of foreign drug suppliers has led American lawmakers to call for at least five hundred additional F.D.A. inspectors. Also, a House subcommittee held a hearing Tuesday called "The Heparin Disaster: Chinese Counterfeits and American Failures."

And that's the VOA Special English Health Report written by Caty Weaver. I'm Barbara Klein.
 
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