VOA Special English在线收听、MP3下载+文本 2011-3-11

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How High Will the Price of Oil Go This Time?

Photo: AP 
A gas station in San Diego, California, on Wednesday

This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

Unrest in North Africa and the Middle East has pushed oil prices back into the news. Prices have been rising at their fastest level since two thousand eight.

Libya is not among the ten largest oil exporters. But the rebellion against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has reduced production, affecting the global market.

This month, oil prices rose above one hundred dollars a barrel. Prices went above one hundred forty-five dollars a barrel in two thousand eight.

The price of oil affects prices and demand for energy, plastics, farm chemicals and many other products made with petroleum.

During the last week of February, Americans paid the second biggest weekly increase in gasoline prices in twenty years. This young woman has to drive a long way to school, so high gas prices mean less money for other things.

WOMAN: "I am a college student and I have to drive forty-five minutes to college, so it sucks."

The United States has a Strategic Petroleum Reserve that contains more than seven hundred million barrels of oil. President Obama could use some of this emergency supply to help ease fuel prices. But intervening in the market could hurt oil production in the United States.

Oil prices have been rising at a bad time, just as many economies have been recovering from the global recession. Also, several countries in the euro area are still struggling with debt crises.

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said last week that "strong vigilance" is needed to contain inflation. That could mean raising interest rates which could hurt European countries heavily in debt.

In the United States, higher fuel prices come just as General Motors and Chrysler show signs of recovery after their reorganizations.

American car sales last month were twenty-seven percent higher than last February. GM led all carmakers with a forty-seven percent increase.

High fuel prices reduce demand for big cars and trucks. But economist George Magliano says this time, high prices may be good for carmakers.

GEORGE MAGLIANO: "With gasoline prices higher, certain people might want to get a much more fuel-efficient vehicle and I don't mean even a hybrid or an electric vehicle which they could do, but the gasoline vehicles get twenty-five, thirty percent better mileage today than they did three or four years ago."

And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Share your stories about what high fuel prices mean to you at oxford.com.cn or on Facebook at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember.

British Singer Adele Is Number One in America

Photo: AP 
First lady Michelle Obama was introduced by Aissatou Hamidou Diallo, 13, from Burkino Faso, at the White House on Tuesday. The reception marked the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day.


Michael Jordan at a Chicago Bulls game last month with former teammate Scottie Pippen

DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. This week, we play music from Adele's new album, which is number one on Billboard's top two hundred ...

And we answer a question from Thailand about former basketball star Michael Jordan ...

But first, a report on the state of women and girls in the United States.


Women in America

DOUG JOHNSON: March is National Women's History Month in the United States. It is a time to recognize, honor and celebrate the important part that women play in shaping America's history. It is also a time to call attention to the social, political and economic?problems facing women and girls. Faith Lapidus has our story.

FAITH LAPIDUS: Earlier this month, the White House Council on Women and Girls released a historic report on the condition of women in America. It is the first time since nineteen sixty-three that the government has released such a detailed report on the subject.

The report is called "Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being."

The report says women have made major progress is several important areas. But, it says, there is still much work to be done.

Women today are more educated, have better jobs and earn better pay than at any other time in history. There are also more women than men graduating from high school, enrolling in college and attending graduate school. In fact, women are expected to represent nearly sixty percent of all college undergraduate enrollment by the year twenty nineteen.

All of these advances represent major progress for women. However, the White House report also noted some serious problems.

For example, female workers continue to be paid less than male workers. The report said that in two thousand nine women at all educational levels earned about seventy percent of what men earned. Women were also more likely than men to live in poverty. This was especially true for unmarried women with children. Twenty-eight percent of this group had income levels that were below the poverty line.

President Obama noted such inequities in his Presidential Proclamation for Women's History Month. Mr. Obama said countries are more peaceful and successful when their female citizens enjoy equal rights, equal voices and equal chances for success.

He also said the United States must lead by example in protecting women's rights and supporting their empowerment. Women are fifty-one percent of the total population in America.

National Women's History Month grew out of National Woman's Day which was first celebrated in the United States in nineteen hundred and?nine. The observance was celebrated worldwide as International Women's Day in nineteen eleven. Congress expanded it into a month-long celebration in the United States in nineteen eighty-seven.

This year's National Women's History Month celebration is called "Our History is Our Strength." Programs and ceremonies are planned around the country to celebrate women's successes.


Michael Jordan

DOUG JOHNSON: Our question this week comes from Thailand. Kitichai asks about the career of Michael Jordan, his favorite American basketball player.

Michael Jordan is widely considered the greatest basketball player of all time. He is most famous for playing for the Chicago Bulls, but later in his career he played briefly for the Washington Wizards.

Michael Jeffrey Jordan was born in the Brooklyn area of New York City in nineteen sixty-three. He went to high school and college in North Carolina. He played basketball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was chosen to play for the Chicago Bulls in nineteen eighty-four.

Michael Jordan played for the Bulls for thirteen years. During this time, the team won six championships. Jordan became one of the highest scoring players in the National Basketball Association. He averaged thirty points a game during the regular season. He was recognized as the NBA's most valuable player five times during the regular season.

Michael Jordan became famous for the way he jumped through the air to throw the ball into the net and score points. This skill earned him the nicknames "Air Jordan" and "His Airness." Jordan also became known around the world for appearing in advertisements for companies including Nike, Gatorade and Coca-Cola.Michael Jordan also won gold medals in nineteen eighty-four and nineteen ninety-two representing the United States basketball team during the summer Olympic Games.

Jordan retired from the Chicago Bulls in nineteen ninety-four to play minor league baseball for one season. He retired from the team permanently in nineteen ninety-nine. He played briefly for the Washington Wizards starting in two thousand one.

In two thousand six, Michael Jordan bought a minority ownership in the Charlotte Bobcats professional basketball team. In two thousand ten, his company, MJ Holdings, reached an agreement to buy the team from the Bobcats' majority owner. Last March, Michael Jordan became the first former National Basketball Association player to be majority owner of an NBA team.

Adele's "21"

DOUG JOHNSON: British singer Adele's new album has taken first position on Billboard Magazine's Top Two Hundred Albums chart in its first week. Her recording "21" now is headed into its second week at number one. The smoky voiced twenty-two-year-old sings about heartbreak on her new album. Bob Doughty plays some of the new songs.

BOB DOUGHTY: Adele recently told a reporter that she has not healed from the end of the relationship she sings about in "21." She laughed and said she would not recover until she fell in love again.

Here she is with the fiery "Rolling in the Deep."


However, Adele can feel very secure about her career. Her first album, "19," was released two years ago. It charted in the top ten of Billboard's Top Two Hundred Albums. It sold more than one million copies around the world. And Adele won Best New Artist at that year's Grammy Awards. Here Adele slows down the beat with "Take it All."


Adele is beginning a concert series in the United States in May. Current plans have her first appearing in Washington, D.C. May twelfth. Her last show is expected to be June twentieth in the "home of country music," Nashville, Tennessee. We leave you with Adele performing "I'll Be Waiting," from her album "21."


DOUG JOHNSON: I'm Doug Johnson. Our program was written by June Simms and Caty Weaver who was also the producer.

If you have a question about American life, write to mosaic@voanews.com. We might answer your question on this show. So please include your name and country.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.