Sunday, October 13, 2013

"The Extinct Woolly Mammoth"
and other science news from VOA

This is SCIENCE IN THE NEWS, in VOA Special English. I'm Bob Doughty. And I'm Barbara Klein.

This week, we will tell about a genetic map for an animal that disappeared long ago. We will tell about an unusual-looking insect from South America. And we will tell about a reported link between animals and health problems in children.

Scientists say they have completed most of a genetic map for an ancient creature -- the woolly mammoth. The map is said to be the first to show the genetic structure of an animal that no longer exists.

Biologists at the Pennsylvania State University studied the remains of two woolly mammoths from Siberia. One mammoth lived twenty thousand years ago. The other lived at least sixty thousand years ago.

The woolly mammoth belongs to a species, or group, linked to the modern African elephant. With its thick, long hair, the now extinct mammoth was able to survive in cold weather. Lead researcher Stephan Schuster says the mammoth and African elephant share more than ninety-nine percent of their genetic material.

STEPHAN SCHUSTER:"So this tells you that they are very, very similar. And also, just because the mammoth is extinct does not mean it is an ancient elephant. It is as modern as an Asian or African elephant. But unfortunately, it had the bad luck to go extinct before today."

Mr. Schuster and the research team studied genes, or DNA, that were found in long pieces of mammoth hair. They say genes from hair are better to study than those from bones or other remains. That is because the genes from hair are less likely to mix with other kinds of DNA.

The researchers say they were able to uncover about seventy percent of the mammoth's genome, or genetic structure. They also say the study will help scientists better understand how elephants evolved, or developed.

Mr. Schuster says the information shows the mammoth evolved from the African elephant six million years ago. Mammoths disappeared about ten thousand years ago.

The researchers hope their work will also increase understanding of how the woolly mammoth evolved and why it died out. Their findings were reported in the publication Nature.

The study also provides some information that would be needed to re-create the mammoth. But scientists say such an animal would not be possible any time soon -- if ever.

Some researchers like to study animals that disappeared long ago. But others want to discover new species -- creatures that may have existed for thousands of years, but remain unknown to scientists.

One recent discovery was made in Brazil. This is where a researcher from the United States discovered a new ant species. Christian Rabeling is a graduate student at the University of Texas in Austin. He believes the species could be linked to some of the earliest kinds of ants to have evolved. The ant has a very unusual appearance. It is extremely light in color and has no eyes. It also has large extensions from its head called mandibles. These are likely used to capture food.

Because of its appearance, the ant was given the scientific name Martialis heureka. The name means "ant from Mars."

The insect is two to three millimeters long. Scientists believe its appearance resulted from changes that took place for the ant to better live under the ground.

Genetic testing shows the ant belongs to a new ant subfamily. There are twenty-one known ant subfamilies. The discovery marks the first time since nineteen twenty-three that a new ant subfamily has been identified. Since then, new subfamilies have only been found from fossilized ant remains.

The genes of the new ant also show that it comes from a species that first evolved from the wasp. Ants developed from these insects more than one hundred twenty million years ago. Some species changed to live in trees or in their leaves.

Scientists believe others like the new species may have evolved to live in the dirt. That would explain the ant's loss of eyes and light color.

Christian Rabeling collected the only example of the new species in two thousand three. It was found among leaves in the Amazon rainforest. Mr. Rabeling reported on the discovery in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He says finding new ant species could help scientists understand more about the evolution of ants. He believes many other species have yet to be discovered in warm climates.

Many families in the United States have at least one pet. The most popular are dogs, cats and fish. Some Americans own exotic, less traditional pets. They care for animals like hedgehogs, monkeys or snakes.

Recently, a report warned that non-traditional pets may cause serious health problems in children. The report appeared in Pediatrics, a publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics. It says families with children less than five years old should not have exotic pets. It says children that age should avoid contact with such animals in petting zoos, schools and other public places.

The report says the number of exotic pets available in the United States has increased since nineteen ninety two. Many people find them easier to care for than other pets. For example, more than four million American homes have reptiles like snakes and turtles as pets.

Another exotic pet, the hedgehog, is native to Europe, Asia and Africa. But hedgehogs can now be found in forty thousand homes. Yet the animal also can spread salmonella infections. The sharp spines on their back also make it easier to spread infections like E. coli. Exotic pets also can cause allergic reactions and sicknesses like rabies.

Larry Pickering was a lead researcher in the study. He says eleven percent of salmonella infections in children are believed to be caused by touching lizards or other reptiles. Salmonella can cause the uncontrolled expulsion of body wastes. It also can cause high body temperatures and stomach problems.

Children can become sick by kissing or touching animals and then putting their fingers in their mouths. Young children are especially at risk because their natural defenses against disease are still developing. Also at risk are other persons with weakened defense systems, older adults and pregnant woman.

The report says parents need to be educated about the health risks caused by exotic pets. And, it says, families with children under the age of five should not own such animals.

It says parents should first talk with their children's doctors and animal experts to see if there is cause for concern. And, it suggests washing hands often to help decrease risks for disease.

Bacterial meningitis must be treated with antibiotic drugs as soon as possible or the infection can cause hearing loss and brain damage. It can also kill.

A large area in Africa holds the world record for the most meningitis cases. Known as the meningitis belt, this area extends from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east. More than two hundred fifty thousand people got sick there in nineteen ninety-six and nineteen ninety-seven. Twenty-five thousand of them died from meningitis. The disease still strikes the area from time to time.

Nations along the meningitis belt agreed in September to support a campaign to protect their populations with a new vaccine. The World Health Organization will provide technical aid with the vaccine.

The campaign will also get help from weather experts. One partner in the effort is America's National Center for Atmospheric Research. It will make long-term weather predictions along the meningitis belt. Local health officials can then plan the best times to vaccinate people.

The disease often strikes during dry, dusty weather. One possible reason is that dust can affect the breathing passages and people may be more open to infection. Another theory is that people may stay in their homes more during the dry season, making it easier to catch meningitis from others. The infections usually stop when the rainy season begins.

Weather experts will provide fourteen-day forecasts of atmospheric conditions. The weather program will start in Ghana next year.

This SCIENCE IN THE NEWS was written by Lawan Davis, Jerilyn Watson and Brianna Blake, who was also our producer. I'm Barbara Klein. And I'm Bob Doughty. Join us again next week for more news about science in Special English on the Voice of America.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

"Emerging Explorers" from Voice of America

I’m Steve Ember.

And I’m Shirley Griffith with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Every year, the National Geographic Society honors scientists, wildlife experts and others for their work. Each honoree receives a ten thousand dollar award to help them with their research and future projects. This week we learn about the latest National Geographic Emerging Explorers.

One of the honorees is searching for life in faraway places.

KEVIN HAND: “The big picture for me and many of my colleagues is the search for life beyond Earth. So if we’ve learned anything about life here on Earth, it’s that in general where you find the liquid water, you find life.”

That is Kevin Hand, a planetary scientist and astrobiologist who works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. This lab works with the American space agency on projects including looking for life in outer space. Kevin Hand is assiting with plans to send an orbital device to Europa, a moon of the planet Jupiter. Space agency officials hope to launch the device in about twenty-twenty.

Europa is covered in ice. Under the ice are deep oceans, which could be home to living organisms. However, this moon is not easy to explore. Depending on its orbit, Europa can be over nine hundred million kilometers from Earth. Its environment is freezing, with intense radiation and no atmosphere.

KEVIN HAND: “And when it comes to actually searching for this life, that’s a great challenge. We send these robots off as our little planetary emissaries to go and do the science. These robots basically have to take the scientific laboratory with them so they can do the experiments and chemical analysis on the planets.”

Kevin Hand and coworker Robert Carlson have recreated an environment like Europa in a laboratory to study its conditions. Mister Hand also has visited extreme places on Earth to see how organisms survive in cold climates. This could help experts know what to look for when looking for possible life forms on Europa.

The work of several Emerging Explorers aims to improve the lives of people in different ways. Juan Martinez grew up in poverty in the city of Los Angeles. In high school, he won a trip to learn about nature in the Teton Science Schools program in Wyoming. He says experiencing the wilderness and mountains changed his life.

Today, Mister Martinez campaigns to get young people, especially at-risk youth, interested in nature and the outdoors. He works with groups like the Sierra Club to get young people interested in the environment. And, he heads the Natural Leaders Network of the Children and Nature Network. The group creates links between environmental organizations, businesses, government and individuals to connect children with nature.

Jennifer Burney is an environmental scientist. She has studied links between climate change, food production and food security. She is especially interested in how people can use new technologies to create a better, more sustainable food system.

One of her projects is in northern Benin. She has worked with the Solar Electric Light Fund to build a water supply system for farming. Energy from the sun provides power for the project.

JENNIFER BURNEY: “This system enables farmers to cultivate vegetables year around and to cultivate new types of crops and to generally increase the area that they cultivate so they have much more food for their home consumption but are also able to sell a large majority of it and earn income that way.

Jennifer Burney also works with a group in India. They are studying the effects of replacing traditional cook stoves with safer, more environmentally-friendly cooking technologies. Traditional cook stoves produce a harmful black smoke.

JENNIFER BURNEY: “We know that it is a component of particulate matter which makes people sick, but it’s also a very potent climate warming agent.”

Miz Burney says replacing old stoves with safer ones could have a huge effect on improving human health and slowing climate change.

Palestinian Aziz Abu Sarah is a cultural educator who grew up in Jerusalem. After his brother was jailed and killed, Mister Abu Sarah was filled with hatred and publicly acted out his anger. He refused to learn Hebrew, which he considered the language of his enemy. But he knew he would have to learn the language to go to college and get a good job in Jerusalem. In Hebrew class, he met Jewish men and women who were not soldiers with guns. He learned they were human beings, just like he is.

Aziz Abu Sarah has spent his career working to break down emotional barriers between Arabs and Jews. In the United States, he helps lead the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University. He also created a travel company that helps bring people to the Middle East for multicultural visits.

Two Emerging Explorers are working to turn waste into a valuable resource. Ecologist Sasha Kramer is helping to fight poverty in Haiti. She also is working to solve one of the country’s environmental problems. Living in Haiti, Sasha Kramer learned that only sixteen percent of Haitians had access to toilets. Many people throw out bodily waste in the ocean, rivers, and empty areas. She helped create a non-profit organization that helps turn waste into fertilizer. This fertilizer helps improve the quality of Haiti’s soil. And it helps poor farmers increase their harvests.

Ashley Murray is a wastewater engineer living in Ghana. She is working to persuade governments that turning wastewater into clean water can be profitable. She says the profits made from reusing waste could change waste treatment systems and health around the world.

Several of the Emerging Explorers are working to protect and explore undeveloped areas.

Ecologist Paula Kahumbu heads an organization called WildlifeDirect, which has offices in Kenya and the United States. The organization’s website describes over one hundred conservation projects. The goal of WildlifeDirect is to connect scientists working to protect the environment with people who want to help. The group also helps spread information quickly to raise support during environmental crises.

Tuy Sereivathana is working to save endangered elephants in Cambodia. Up until now, many Cambodians have hunted elephants to protect their land and crops. Tuy Sereivathana works with Cambodians to educate rural populations on how to be successful farmers without harming the animals and the areas where they live. The National Geographic Society says his program has been very successful. But he says there is still much work to be done in getting government and developers to support growth that does not harm the environment.

Adrian Seymour is an ecologist and filmmaker. He studies the Indonesian population of a small meat-eating creature called the Malay civet. He says studying creatures at the top of the food chain can help explain what is happening in the whole ecosystem. He also makes movies about human issues linked to environmental efforts.

Four Emerging Explorers study creatures. Çağan Şekercioğlu is a biology professor at the University of Utah. The Turkish native has studied the effects of environmental pressures on decreasing bird populations. He helps to show people how important birds are for health, farming, and the environment.

Jorn Hurum studies the ancient fossil remains of animals in northern Norway. He and his team have found important fossils of sea reptiles, including several huge creatures that once stood over fifteen meters tall. In Germany, he helped unearth a forty seven million year old fossil of a primate. Jorn Hurum feels strongly about making his scientific publications available free of cost so that this knowledge can be seen by everyone.

Dino Martins is a scientist who studies insects. He studies environments in which bees and other pollinating insects are threatened. He helps educate farmers and others in east Africa about the importance of these insects in food production and how they can be protected.

Kakani Katija is a bioengineer who studies the power sources responsible for the ocean’s movements. Winds and tides drive the oceans, but so do the movements of swimming animals. Her research shows that the movement of sea creatures has a big effect on climate systems by continuously mixing the seawater. Mixing the water moves oxygen and nutrients from one layer of water to another.

We close this program with Hayat Sindi, a Saudi-born health technology expert. She is helping to spread the use of a low-cost, paper device that can help people in poor, rural areas to find disease. The device is the size of a postage stamp. It is being used to help people learn if they have health problems like liver damage. The device quickly provides important information to people in areas without medical workers or a laboratory. The National Geographic Society says the device she and her team developed holds promise to be an invention that will save millions of lives.

This program was written and produced by Dana Demange. I’m Steve Ember.

And I’m Shirley Griffith. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"Golden Gate's Guardian" a video from Karmatube

The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic landmark of San Francisco, drawing millions of visitors each year. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most popular suicide destinations in the world. California Highway Patrol Sergeant, Kevin Briggs, has saved hundreds of people from jumping over the famous railings in his 26 years of patrolling the bridge through his compassion and dedication - a true everyday hero.

"Golden Gate Guardian", Comprehension Check from
Eve Tarquino: ESL Instructor at Mission Campus of
City College of San Francisco.

1. Where and for whom does Kevin Briggs work?

2. Who does Kevin help?

3. When Kevin talks about the people he helps, he says, “Their sight is very narrow”. What does this mean?

4. How long is the bridge?

5. What does ‘despondent’ mean?

6. How long has Kevin be a highway patrol officer?

7. Where was Kevin raised?

8. What is the general success rate of preventing suicide?

9. What difficulty had Kevin been through when he was younger?

10. Has Kevin been 100% successful?

11. What was the longest time Kevin had to talk someone out of jumping, and why did he finally decide not to jump?

For more history of the Golden Gate Bridge see "The Golden Gate Bridge's 75 Birthday" from VOA

Saturday, February 9, 2013

"The Disability Rights Movement"

Ed Roberts

The disability rights movement began in the 1960s, encouraged by the examples of the African-American civil rights and women’s rights movements.

It was at this time that disability rights advocacy began to have a cross-disability focus. People with different kinds of disabilities (physical and mental handicaps, along with visual- and hearing-impairments) and different essential needs came together to fight for a common cause. In 1948 a movement started to first prove that there were physical barriers for the handicap in public places and also research ways to modify these areas to provide access. This process continued over 40 years.

One of the most important developments of the disability rights movement was the growth of the independent living movement, which emerged in California in the 1960s through the efforts of Edward Roberts and other wheelchair-using individuals. This movement says that people with disabilities are the best experts on their needs, and therefore they must take the initiative, individually and collectively, in designing and promoting better solutions and must organize themselves for political power.

Ed Roberts (1939-1995) is often called the father of the disability rights movement. He contracted polio at the age of fourteen in 1953, two years before the Salk vaccine put an end to the epidemic. He spent eighteen months in hospitals and returned home paralyzed from the neck down except for two fingers on one hand and several toes. He slept in an iron lung at night and often rested there during the day. He attended school by telephone hook-up until his mother Zona insisted that he go to school once a week for a few hours. At school he faced his deep fear of being stared at and transformed his sense of personal identity. He gave up thinking of himself as a "helpless cripple," and decided to think of himself as a "star." He credited his mother with teaching him by example how to fight for what he needed.

He went on to become an international leader and educator in the independent living and disability rights movements. He fought throughout his life to enable all persons with disabilities to fully participate in society. Ed was a true pioneer: he was the first student with significant disabilities to attend UC Berkeley. He was a founder of UC’s Physically Disabled Students Program, which became the model for Berkeley’s Center for Independent Living (CIL) and over 400 independent living centers across the country. He was one of the early directors of CIL. He was the first California State Director of Rehabilitation with a disability; he was awarded a MacArthur fellowship; and he was co–founder and President of the World Institute on Disability.

In 1973 the (American) Rehabilitation Act prohibited discrimination in federal programs and services and all other programs or services receiving federal funds. This was the first civil rights law guaranteeing equal opportunity for people with disabilities.

In 1983, Americans Disabled for Accessible Public Transit (ADAPT) was responsible for another civil disobedience campaign also in Denver that lasted seven years. They targeted the American Public Transport Association in protest of inaccessible public transportation; this campaign ended in 1990 when bus lifts for people using wheelchairs were required nationwide by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act became law, and it provided comprehensive civil rights protection for people with disabilities. Closely modeled after the Civil Rights Act and Section 504, the law was the most sweeping disability rights legislation in American history. It orders that local, state, and federal governments and programs be accessible, that employers with more than 15 employees make “reasonable accommodations” for workers with disabilities and not discriminate against otherwise qualified workers with disabilities, and that public places such as restaurants and stores not discriminate against people with disabilities and that they make “reasonable modifications” to ensure access for disabled members of the public. The act also ordered access in public transportation, communication, and in other areas of public life.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"Patriotic Millionaires" from VOA

Read, listen and learn English with this story. Double-click on any word to find the definition in the Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary.

From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report in Special English.

Congressional leaders and the Obama administration have begun budget negotiations. They are trying to avoid what is being called “the fiscal cliff,” a combination of tax increases and budget cuts that many experts worry could harm the economy.

However, a group of rich Americans has formed to try to influence those negotiations. More than twenty of them traveled to Washington recently to call on lawmakers to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

The group calls itself “Patriotic Millionaires.” Members of the group have incomes of at least one million dollars a year. Their message is simple: “tax us more -- we can take it.”

They are worried about the growing gap between the upper- and middle-classes in the United States.

The group supports President Obama’s plan to raise taxes on rich Americans as part of a budget agreement to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” If an agreement is not reached by the end of this year, taxes will go up for most Americans, and federal spending will go down sharply. President Obama says the country can avoid that if Republicans agree to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

“When it comes to the top two percent, what I’m not going to do is to extend further a tax cut for folks who don’t need it, which would cost close to a trillion dollars.”

But the Speaker of the House of Representatives -- John Boehner, a Republican -- says taxes for wealthy Americans do not have to go up.

“I have outlined a framework for how both parties can work together to avert the fiscal cliff without raising tax rates.”

The Patriotic Millionaires believe their taxes need to be raised. They also do not agree with the idea that increasing taxes on those who create jobs means fewer jobs will be created. T.J. Zlotnitsky is the head of iControl Systems, a data management company.

“When I make a decision about whether or not I’m going to hire people to help grow my business, I make those decisions strictly on the basis of whether the company needs them, whether the customers demand them, whether doing so would grow the business. In terms of my own personal tax rates, that never factors in.”

The group says increasing taxes on middle-class Americans -- but not on rich Americans -- would be bad for the economy. Frank Patitucci is the chief of NuCompass Mobility.

“It is especially important about the middle class. If you lose the middle class, you’re losing customers. So a strong middle class that’s helped by a fair tax system leads to long-term to a healthy economy.”

Patriotic Millionaires has more than two hundred members across the country. Members of the group work in finance, entertainment, technology and other areas.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chief Joseph, Part Two

The Sound of Lightning
Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: People in America, a program in Special English by the Voice of America. Every week at this time, we tell the story of a man or a woman who played an important part in the history of the United States. Today, Larry West and Warren Scheer complete the story of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians.


WARREN SCHEER: In eighteen seventy-seven, the American government decided to move the Nez Perce Indians from their land in the northwestern part of the country. The government had set up a reservation for them in Idaho. Chief Joseph did not want to leave the land. It was holy ground. It contained the bones of his father and mother.

But, like his father in earlier times, Chief Joseph knew it would be hopeless to stay and defend the land. There were too few Indians to win a war against the white men.

And so in June of eighteen seventy-seven, the Nez Perce left their home in the Wallowa Valley. They left quickly. They were able to take only a small part of what they owned, and just a few cattle and Appaloosa horses.

LARRY WEST: When the Indians reached the Snake River, the water was very deep and ran very fast with melted snow from the mountains. Chief Joseph and his people made boats from sticks and dried animal skins to cross the river. While the Indians were busy, a group of white men came and stole some of the cattle waiting at the edge of the river.

Chief White Bird
The other chiefs demanded that Joseph call a meeting. Two of the chiefs, White Bird and Toohoolhoolzote, spoke for War.

But Joseph said, "It is better to live at peace than to begin a war and lie dead."

WARREN SCHEER: Some of the young men in White Bird's group were very angry. That night, they rode into the countryside and killed eleven white persons.

During all his years as chief, Joseph had tried to keep the peace. Now he saw there was no hope. Although he and his young men had taken no part in the killings, he knew that the white men would blame all of the Indians. Chief Joseph said, "I would have given my own life if I could have undone the killing of the white men."

Many Nez Perce fled. Chief Joseph remained, because his wife was about to have a baby. After she gave birth, he and his brother and their families joined the others in White Bird Canyon to the south.

LARRY WEST: Joseph wanted to lead the people to safety in the flat lands of Montana. But the United States army quickly sent horse soldiers to follow them.

The troops rode all night. They were extremely tired when they reached White Bird Canyon. An Indian -- carrying a white flag -- walked forward to meet them. A soldier shot him.

With that shot, war between the Nez Perce and the United States began.

Chief Toolhoolhoolzote
WARREN SCHEER: The young Nez Perce men were skilled with their guns. They knew the land. And they were calm in battle. The army officers did not know the land. And they were not wise. When the soldiers attacked, they fired on Indian women and children.

The two sides fought hard. The soldiers could not defeat the Indians.

Joseph, White Bird and Toohoolhoolzote led their people across the mountains to join another Nez Perce group led by Chief Looking Glass. Together, the Nez Perce forces then numbered more than two-hundred-fifty warriors.

The chiefs met. They knew they could not return home. They decided to lead their people to Canada. And so they headed north, always keeping their horses in front of them. The chiefs believed the soldiers would not follow them again.

LARRY WEST: The chiefs did not know, however, that army officials in Washington were discussing the situation. The officials did not understand why the United States army could not capture several hundred Indians.

So they decided to send General William Tecumseh Sherman -- a hero of the Civil War -- to find out.

The Indians continued to move toward Canada, battling groups of soldiers along the way.

When the Indians reached the great Yellowstone Park, General Sherman himself was waiting for them. His troops closed every road out of the park. But Joseph, with his people and their horses, escaped through the trees.

WARREN SCHEER: General Sherman sent word by telegraph to other army commanders along the Indians' way north. At one place in the mountains, the Indians found a group of soldiers building a wall across the only road.

Chief Looking Glass
Joseph, White Bird and Looking Glass rode down to the wall and spoke to the officers. The chiefs told them: "We are going by you without fighting if you will let us. But we are going by you anyhow."

The soldiers would not let the Indians pass. Fighting broke out. And, again, the Indian warriors defeated the white soldiers.

Joseph was not a military man. In fact, before the war against the American army, Joseph had never been in battle. But he understood human nature. He understood his enemy. And he was able to unite his warriors and his people.

LARRY WEST: Many weeks after the Nez Perce had left their home lands, they reached the Bear Paw Mountains. They were only eighty kilometers from Canada. The Nez Perce were close to their goal. But safety was not yet in sight.

Six-hundred army troops, under the command of General Nelson Miles, were waiting at Bear Paw.

The soldiers attacked two times on the first day. They were beaten back two times. Joseph's brother was killed in the fighting, as well as Toohoolhoolzote and some of the other chiefs.

After the long march and so many battles, only eighty-seven warriors remained. Many of the women and children were wounded or sick. Most of the horses were dead.

The weather turned cold in the mountains. The wind blew, and it began to snow.

General Miles sent a message to Chief Joseph. He said: "If you will come out and give up your arms, I will not harm you, and will send you to the reservation."

Bear Paw Mountains
WARREN SCHEER: Chief Joseph would not give up. The battle continued. On the fourth day, Chief Looking Glass was hit by a bullet and died. On the fifth day, Chief Joseph rode out -- alone -- to the snowy battlefield. He surrendered. He said:

"I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. It is cold, and we have no blankets. Some of my people have run away to the hills. No one knows where they are. I want to have time to look for my children. Hear me, my chiefs! My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands. . . I will fight no more forever. "

LARRY WEST: Two days after Chief Joseph surrendered, the government ordered him and his people far away.

First, they went to an army base in Kansas. Then they went to a dry and empty piece of land in Oklahoma. Within a year, almost half the people died. Joseph buried all of his children.

Years later, Chief Joseph and his people were permitted to return to the northwest. But they were not permitted to return home.

Joseph spoke to American officials. Nothing changed. He could never go back to the holy ground that held the bones of his father and mother. He lived in the northwest -- in exile -- until September, nineteen-oh-four, when he died.

WARREN SCHEER: Chief Joseph's words expressed the ideas of justice and civil rights. . . Even though he lived in a time when he could not have those rights himself. He said:

"Treat all men alike. Give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. The earth is the mother of all people. And all people should have equal rights upon it. Then the great spirit chief who rules above will smile upon this land, and send rain to wash out the bloody spots made by brothers' hands upon the face of the earth."


SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: You have been listening to the VOA Special English program, People in America, and its story of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians. You narrators were Larry West and Warren Scheer. Our program was written by Barbara Dash. This is Shirley Griffith.


1. The Nez Perce left their home in the Wallowa Valley because ___________________ .
a: the land no longer supported them
b: another tribe had taken over the land
c: the U.S. Government ordered them to leave and move to a reservation
d: an oil company had moved in and begun to drill for oil

2. Chief Joseph didn't want to begin a war with white people because he believed that _______________________ .
a: war would only lead to the death of his people
b: he could negotiate with the white people and eventually get back his land
c: war would empower the young men of his tribe and they would soon take away his leadership
d: he didn't want to hurt the white people because they were so innocent

3. The Nez Perce War started because ____________________________ .
a: Chief Joseph sent his warriors after the settlers
b: some young men in White Bird's group killed several whites
c: Toohoolhoolzote ordered his group to retaliate because the whites stole cattle
d: the Chief was angry because his brother had been killed

4. While the Nez Perce were preparing to cross the Snake River, ____________________ .
a: White bird demanded a meeting to discuss attacking whites
b: white men stole some of the Nez Perce's cattle
c: some Appaloosa horses ran away
d: the water ran very fast with melted snow

5. ___________________ said, "I would have given my own life if I could have undone the killing of the white men."
a: William Sherman
b: Chief Joseph
c: White Bird
d: Toolhoolhoolzote

6. At White Bird Canyon, when a Nez Perce carried the white flag of peace _____________________ .
a: he was shot
b: the army began negotiations
c: the army moved the Nez Perce to Kansas
d: the Nez Perce attacked

7. The following is not an advantage the Nez Perce had over the whites: ___________________ .
a: the Nez Perce warriors knew the land
b: the Nez Perce warriors were excellent marksmen
c: the Nez Perce warriors were Civil War Veterans
d: the Nez Perce warriors were calm in battle

8. At the mountains near Bear Paw, when the Nez Perce were only 80 kilometers from Canada, _____________________ .
a: General Miles' troops were defeated
b: Chief Joseph surrendered on the fifth day
c: General Miles' troops finally killed Chief Josesph
d: all the Nez Perce were killed except for Toolhoolhoolzote

9. Chief Joseph was a very effective leader of his Nez Perce warriors because ______________________ .
a: he understood human nature and his enemy
b: he was an experienced military man
c: he had studied the tactics of other Indian warriors such as Sitting Bull
d: he had attended classes at West Point

10. After the battle in the mountains around White Bird Canyon, ____________________ .
a: Chief Joseph journeyed to Washington D.C.
b: the Nez Perce went back to the Snake River
c: the Nez Perce found safety in the flat lands of Montana
d: the chiefs decided to lead their people to safety in Canada

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, Part One

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Stamp Act of 1765

This is Rich Kleinfeldt. And this is Sarah Long with THE MAKING OF A NATION, A VOA Special English program about the history of the United States.

Today, we tell about relations between the American colonies and Britain after the French and Indian War about two hundred fifty years ago.

The French and Indian War was one part of a world conflict between Britain and France. It was fought to decide which of the two powerful nations would rule North America.

The British defeated the French in North America in 1763. As a result, it took control of lands that had been claimed by France. Britain now was responsible for almost two million people in the thirteen American colonies and sixty thousand French-speaking people in Canada. In addition to political and economic responsibilities, Britain had to protect all these colonists from different groups of Indians.

This would cost a lot of money. Britain already had spent a lot of money sending troops and material to the colonies to fight the French and Indian War. It believed the American colonists should now help pay for that war.

The colonists in America in 1763 were very different from those who had settled there more than one hundred years before. They had different ideas. They had come to consider their colonial legislatures as smaller -- but similar -- to the Parliament in Britain. These little parliaments had helped them rule themselves for more than one hundred years. The colonists began to feel that their legislatures should also have the powers that the British Parliament had.

The situation had changed in England too. In 1707, the nation became officially known as Great Britain. Its king no longer controlled Parliament as he had in the early 1600s. Then, the king decided all major questions, especially those concerning the colonies.

But power had moved from the king to the Parliament. It was the legislature that decided major questions by the time of the French and Indian War, especially the power to tax. The parliaments in the colonies began to believe that they should have this power of taxation, too.

The first English settlers in America considered themselves citizens of England. They had crossed a dangerous ocean to create a little England in a new place, to trade with the mother country and to spread their religion. By 1763, however, the colonists thought of themselves as Americans.

Many of their families had been in North America for fifty to one hundred years. They had cleared the land, built homes, fought Indians and made lives for themselves far away from Britain. They had different everyday concerns than the people in Britain. Their way of life was different, too. They did not want anyone else to tell them how to govern themselves.

The British, however, still believed that the purpose of a colony was to serve the mother country. The government treated colonists differently from citizens at home. It demanded special taxes from them. It also ordered them to feed British troops and let them live in their houses. Britain claimed that the soldiers were in the colonies to protect the people. The people asked, "From whom?"

As long as the French were nearby in Canada, the colonists needed the protection of the British army and navy. After the French were gone -- following their defeat in the French and Indian War -- the colonists felt they no longer needed British military protection.

The British government demanded that the colonists pay higher and higher taxes. One reason was that the British government wanted to show the colonists that it was in control. Another reason was that Britain was having money problems. Foreign wars had left it with big debts. The British thought the colonists should help pay some of these debts, especially those resulting from the French and Indian War.

The American colonists might have agreed, but they wanted to have a say in the decision. They wanted the right to vote about their own taxes, like the people living in Britain. But no colonists were permitted to serve in the British Parliament. So they protested that they were being taxed without being represented.

In 1764, the British Parliament approved the Sugar Act. This legislation placed taxes on sugar, coffee, wines and other products imported to America in large amounts. It increased by two times the taxes on European products sent to the colonies through Britain. The British government also approved new measures aimed at enforcing all trade laws. And it decided to restrict the printing of paper money in the colonies.

The American colonists opposed all these new laws. Yet they could not agree about how to resist. Colonial assemblies approved protests against the laws, but the protest actions were all different and had no real effect. Business groups tried to organize boycotts of goods. But these were not very successful...until the British government approved another tax in 1765: a tax on stamps.

The Stamp Act probably angered more American colonists than any earlier tax. It said the colonists had to buy a British stamp for every piece of printed paper they used. That meant they would be taxed for every piece of a newspaper, every document, even every playing card.

The colonists refused to pay. Colonial assemblies approved resolutions suggesting that the British Parliament had no right to tax the colonies at all. Some colonists were so angry that they attacked British stamp agents.

History experts say the main reason the colonists were angry was because Britain had rejected the idea of "no taxation without representation." Almost no colonist wanted to be independent of Britain at that time. Yet all of them valued their local self-rule and their rights as British citizens. They considered the Stamp Act to be the worst in a series of violations of these rights.

The American colonists refused to obey the Stamp Act. They also refused to buy British goods. Almost one thousand store owners signed non-importation agreements. This cost British businessmen so much money that they demanded that the government end the Stamp Act. Parliament finally cancelled the law in 1766. The colonists immediately ended their ban against British goods.

The same day that Parliament cancelled the Stamp Act, however, it approved the Declaratory Act. This was a statement saying the colonies existed to serve Britain, and that Britain could approve any law it wanted. Most American colonists considered this statement to be illegal.

History experts say this shows how separated the colonies had become from Britain. Colonial assemblies were able to approve their own laws, but only with the permission of the British Parliament. The colonists, however, considered the work of their assemblies as their own form of self-rule.

Britain ended the Stamp Act but did not stop demanding taxes. In 1767, Parliament approved a series of new taxes called the Townshend Acts. These were named after the government official who proposed them. The Townshend Acts placed taxes on glass, tea, lead, paints and paper imported into the colonies.

The American colonists rejected the Townshend Acts and started a new boycott of British goods. They also made efforts to increase manufacturing in the colonies. By the end of 1769, they had reduced by half the amount of goods imported from Britain. The colonies also began to communicate with each other about their problems.

In 1768, the Massachusetts General Court sent a letter to the legislatures of the other colonies. It said the Townshend Acts violated the colonists' natural and constitutional rights. When news of the letter reached London, British officials ordered the colonial governor of Massachusetts to dismiss the legislature. Then they moved four thousand British troops into Boston, the biggest city in Massachusetts -- and the biggest city in the American colonies.

The people of Boston hated the British soldiers. The soldiers were controlling their streets and living in their houses. This tension led to violence. That will be our story next week.

Today's MAKING OF A NATION program was written by Nancy Steinbach. This is Sarah Long. And this is Rich Kleinfeldt. Join us again next week for another Special English program about the history of the United States.