Monday, February 28, 2011

"The History of The Video Game" from VOA.




CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: I’m Christopher Cruise.

BARBARA KLEIN: And I’m Barbara Klein with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Video games have evolved over the past fifty years into one of the most popular forms of modern media entertainment. This week on our program, we explore the history of video games and look at some popular releases from the past year.

(MUSIC)

CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: Early versions of video games were not devices for the average person to play at home. Programmers developed them using what were then huge university computers.

In nineteen sixty-two, a team of students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a game called Spacewar! It had a big influence on future games. But it could only be played on a computer at MIT.

BARBARA KLEIN: Ten years later, in nineteen seventy-two, an engineer named Nolan Bushnell and a programmer, Ted Dabney, started the Atari company in California. Atari produced coin-operated video games.

Their first big hit was called Pong. It was an electronic form of ping-pong or table tennis that was easy enough for anyone to play. Atari video games became hugely popular at arcade centers.

Soon, other companies in Japan and the United States started making similar games. Popular games during the late seventies and early eighties included Space Invaders, Asteroids, Defender and Pac-Man.

CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: Little by little, gaming technology became more complex.

Back in the nineteen sixties, an engineer named Ralph Baer started work on an idea. He wanted to turn television sets in every home into a gaming device. His work resulted in the development of the Magnavox Odyssey, a video-game console for home use. The system was released in nineteen seventy-two and came with twelve games.

But it was hard to compete against Atari. Atari's video game system became the most successful on the American market. And it stayed that way until the market crashed briefly in nineteen eighty-three.

BARBARA KLEIN: By that point, another company had established itself as a big name in gaming: Nintendo. The Japanese company was not new at making games. It began in the nineteenth century as a producer of traditional playing cards.

The family-owned business later expanded into developing other kinds of toys.

Nintendo also began developing arcade games, and then game systems that could be played at home. One of the most influential programmers in the world works for Nintendo. Shigeru Miyamoto helped create hits like Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers and the Legend of Zelda.

CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: Nintendo also found success with the Nintendo Entertainment System for playing video games at home and the handheld Game Boy.

Today the main competitors to Nintendo systems are Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s X-Box 360.

In two thousand six Nintendo released its first Wii system. The Wii was not like a traditional video game. It was the first wireless system that could capture the movements of the player’s body. This way people could play sports against the game or against another person without ever leaving the house.

These days Wii systems can be found in retirement homes and community centers. One of Nintendo's aims with the Wii was to make video gaming more social and more popular with wider audiences.

(MUSIC)

BARBARA KLEIN: GamePro Media is a publishing company that follows the gaming industry. We asked news editor A. J. Glasser what makes a good video game.

AJ GLASSER: “It’s difficult to say. It will be different, I will say, for each platform.”

BARBARA KLEIN:

For example, games on mobile devices are less technically complex than games played on a system at home and with a high-definition TV. Those games can be enjoyed for hours.

Ms. Glasser says a great game on a mobile phone is a game that can be played for a short time -- even for just a minute on the train.

CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: We also asked her about some of the best games of the past year. She says the horror game Dead Space 2 has been extremely successful.

AJ GLASSER: “It’s sort of a visceral, very gory sort of horror game but at the same time sort of a psychological thriller.”

CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: Another popular game is Red Dead Redemption.

AJ GLASSER: “It’s open world in the way that Grand Theft Auto is, so you play a character that can go almost anywhere, and do almost anything. But it’s set in the Wild West, so you are doing it with horses.”

BARBARA KLEIN: A.J. Glasser at GamePro Media says the video game industry recognizes that many gamers today are girls and women.

AJ GLASSER: “It’s no longer just the twelve- to twenty-one-year-old boys that want to shoot up people or just solve puzzles. It’s everyone wants to play a little bit. So they try to make games for everyone, or at least make games that don’t forbid anyone from enjoying them.”

(MUSIC)

CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: Ryota Wada is a ten-year-old boy who recently moved with his family from Tokyo to Herndon, Virginia, outside Washington. Ryota is listed in the twenty eleven Gamer's Edition of Guinness World Records. He received a perfect score on the most difficult level of Dance Dance Revolution.

The game plays music and requires players to move their feet in difficult dance moves. Ryota began playing Dance Dance Revolution when he was three. He spends hours day playing the game he loves.

BARBARA KLEIN: But is it healthy to spend so much time playing video games? The journal Pediatrics recently published a new study. Researchers studied about three thousand students in Singapore for two years. The study found that children who played video games "obsessively" had higher rates of depression, social fears and stress. Of course, that observation alone does not prove that video games cause mental illness.

Other studies have linked violence in video games to aggressive behavior. In nineteen ninety-three American lawmakers pressured the video game industry to develop a rating system. Since then the industry has rated games based on the age group for which they are considered acceptable.

CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: Video games may have their critics, but other experts see them as offering benefits. The Journal of Adolescent Health just published a new study by researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah.

The researchers said girls who played video games with a parent behaved better, felt more connected to their families and had stronger mental health. Said researcher Laura Padilla-Walker: “We’re guessing it’s a daddy-daughter thing, because not a lot of moms said yes when we asked them if they played video games."

For boys, playing video games with a parent made no noticeable difference in their behavior.

Other studies suggest that video games can be useful in teaching, supporting teamwork and improving hand-eye coordination.

(MUSIC)

BARBARA KLEIN: Mobile phones and other devices have created big competition for the handheld video-game industry. People might wonder why they need to buy a device like Sony’s PlayStation Portable or Nintendo’s DS player. Games that can be downloaded to a phone cost a lot less than games for those handheld players.

CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: For example, the game Angry Birds is a huge hit on the Apple iPhone and other devices. Players launch birds to try to crush their enemies, the fat green pigs. The game is easy enough for children yet difficult enough to keep adults interested. The game has been downloaded tens of millions of times around the world.

A market research company reported an early estimate of fifteen and a half billion dollars in sales of all games content in the United States last year. The NPD Group said that was about the same as the year before.

BARBARA KLEIN: In March, Nintendo will launch the American release of a new device that might make some people forget about playing games on their phones.

The new handheld game player, the Nintendo 3DS, offers three-dimensional images that do not require special glasses. The 3-D technology is not for everyone, though. The company warns that children six years old and younger should not play its games in 3-D mode. Experts say looking at the images for long periods of time could damage young eyes.

CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: Sony is also working on new handheld game devices. In late January, the company announced its next-generation portable entertainment system. The system does not have a name yet but it will have a touch screen, two cameras and 3G wireless service. The system is expected to be released by the end of the year, offering another example of the continuing evolution of video games.

(MUSIC)

BARBARA KLEIN: Our program was written and produced by Dana Demange. I'm Barbara Klein.

CHRISTOPHER CRUISE: And I’m Christopher Cruise. Our programs are online with transcripts and MP3s at voaspecialenglish.com -- where you can also tell us what video games you like and how often you play. You can also post comments on our Facebook wall at VOA Learning English. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

Want a career in Video Games? Check out this video from Youtube and VOA:


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"American Culture During The Depression" from VOA.

A Still from "Gone With the Wind"



THE MAKING OF A NATION – a program in Special English by the Voice of America.

Hard economic times and social conflict have always offered a rich source of material for artists and writers. A painter's colors can show the drying of dreams or the flight of human spirits. A musician can express the tensions and uncertainty of a people in struggle. The pressures of hard times can be the force to lift a writer's imagination to new heights.

So it was during the 1930s in the United States. The severe economic crisis -- the Great Depression -- created an atmosphere for artistic imagination and creative expression. The common feeling of struggle also led millions of Americans to look together to films, radio, and other new art forms for relief from their day-to-day cares. Our program today looks at American arts and popular culture during the 1930s.

(MUSIC)

The most popular sound of the 1930s was a new kind of music -- "swing" music. And the "King of Swing" was a clarinet player named Benny Goodman.

(MUSIC)

Benny Goodman and other musicians made swing music extremely popular during the 1930s. Swing music was a new form of jazz. Many of its first players were black musicians in small, unknown groups. It was only when more well-known white musicians started playing swing music in the middle 1930s that the new music became wildly popular.

One reason for the popularity of swing music was the growing power of radio during the 1930s.

Radio had already proven in earlier years that it could be an important force in both politics and popular culture. Millions of Americans bought radios during the 1920s. But radio grew up in the 1930s. Producers became more skillful in creating programs. And actors and actresses began to understand the special needs and power of this new electronic art form.

Swing music was not the only kind of music that radio helped make popular. The 1930s also saw increasing popularity for traditional, classical music by Beethoven, Bach, and other great musicians.

In 1930, the Columbia Broadcasting System began a series of concerts by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra on Sunday afternoons. The next year, the National Broadcasting Company, NBC, began weekly opera concerts.

In 1937, NBC asked Arturo Toscanini of Italy to lead an orchestra on American radio. Toscanini was the greatest orchestra leader of his day. Millions of Americans listened at Christmas time as Toscanini and the NBC Orchestra began playing the first of ten special radio concerts.

It was a great moment for both music and radio. For the first time, millions of average Americans were able to hear classical music by great musicians as it was being played.

Music was an important reason why millions of Americans gathered to listen to the radio during the 1930s. But even more popular were a series of weekly programs with exciting or funny new actors.

Families would come home from school or work and laugh at the foolish experiences of such actors as Jack Benny, Fred Allen, George Burns, Edgar Bergen, and W.C. Fields. Radio helped people forget the hard conditions of the Great Depression. And it helped to bring Americans together and share experiences.

Swing music. Classical music. Great comedy programs. The 1930s truly were a golden period for radio and mass communications. But it was also during this period that Hollywood and the American film industry became much more skilled and influential.

In previous years, films were silent. But the "talkies" arrived in the 1930s. Directors could produce films in which actors could talk. Americans reacted by attending film theaters by the millions. It was a great time for Hollywood.

The films had exciting new actors. Spencer Tracy. Bette Davis. Katharine Hepburn. The young Shirley Temple. The most famous film of the period was "Gone with the Wind" with actor Clark Gable and actress Vivien Leigh. Directors in the 1930s also produced such great films as "It Happened One Night," "Mutiny on the Bounty," and "The Life of Emile Zola."

The success of radio and films, as well as the depression itself, caused problems for many Americans newspapers during the 1930s. The trouble was not so much that readers stopped buying newspapers. It was that companies talked about their products through advertisements on radio instead of buying advertising space in newspapers.

Nearly half of the nation's independently-published newspapers either stopped publishing or joined larger companies during the 1930s. By World War Two, only one-hundred-twenty cities had competing newspapers.

Weekly and monthly publications faced the same problem as daily newspapers -- increased competition from radio and films. Many magazines failed. The two big successes of the period were Life Magazine and the Reader's Digest.

Life Magazine had stories for everyone about film actors, news events, or just daily life in the home or on the farm. Its photographs were the greatest anywhere. Reader's Digest published shorter forms of stories from other magazines and sources.

Most popular books of the period were like the films coming from Hollywood. Writers cared more about helping people forget their troubles than about facing serious social issues. They made more money that way, too.

But a number of writers in the 1930s did produce books that were both profitable and of high quality. One was Sinclair Lewis. His book, "It Can't Happen Here," warned of the coming dangers of fascism. John Steinbeck's great book, "The Grapes of Wrath," helped millions understand and feel in their hearts the troubles faced by poor farmers.

Erskine Caldwell wrote about the cruelty of life among poor people in the southeastern United States, and James T. Farrell about life in Chicago.










"Theatre Circle" by Edward Hopper
The same social concern and desire to present life as it really existed also were clear in the work of many American artists during the 1930s. Thomas Benton painted workers and others with strong tough bodies. Edward Hopper showed the sad streets of American cities. Reginald Marsh painted picture after picture of poor parts of New York City.

The federal government created a program that gave jobs to artists. They painted their pictures on the walls of airports, post offices, and schools. The program brought their ideas and creativity to millions of people.

At the same time, photography became more important as cameras improved in quality and became more moveable. Some photographers like Margaret Bourke-White and Walker Evans used their cameras to report the hard conditions of the Depression.

All this activity in the arts and popular culture played an important part in the lives of Americans during the 1930s. It not only provided relief from their troubles, but expanded their minds and pushed their imaginations.

The tensions and troubles of the Great Depression provided a rich atmosphere for artists and others to produce works that were serious, foolish, or just plain fun. And those works, in turn, helped make life a little better as Americans waited, worked, and hoped for times to improve.

(MUSIC)

You have been listening to THE MAKING OF A NATION, a program in Special English by the Voice of America. Your narrators have been Steve Ember and Bob Doughty. Our program was written by David Jarmul. The Voice of America invites you to listen again next week to THE MAKING OF A NATION.

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. Hard economic times can _______________ an artist's imagination.
a. depress
b. limit
c. stimulate
d. exaggerate

2. During The Great Depression of the 1930s, people gained _________ from their day-to-day troubles by going to films, listening to the radio, and viewing new art forms.
a. pleasure
b. relief
c. anxiety
d. financial security

3. The most popular music of the 1930s was known as "_____________."
a. Swing
b. Jazz
c. Rock
d. Classical

4. People listened to the radio not only for news and music, but also for __________ programs.
a. historical
b. Toscanini
c. science
d. comedy

5. The type of movie in which you could hear actors' speech was called the ____________ .
a. silent film
b. talkie
c. adventure film
d. radio film

6. One of the following performers is not a comedian:
a. Benny Goodman
b. Jack Benny
c. George Burns
d. W.C. Fields

7. Newspapers began to go out of business in the 30s because _______________ used radio more.
a. entertainers
b. musicians
c. advertisers
d. journalists

8. John Steinbeck's great book "The Grapes of Wrath" told about the troubles of ___________ .
a. fascist victims
b. failed businessmen
c. poor farmers
d. Chicago residents

9. Another name for this article could be ___________________ .
a. "Film and Radio in the 30s"
b. "The Healing Culture of The Great Depression"
c. "Great Comics of the 1930s"
d. "Musical Trends in Desperate Times"

10. This article is mainly about ___________________ .
a. the music of The Great Depression
b. the culture of The Great Depression
c. photography and painting in the 30s
d. the tough economic realities of the 30s

See the trailer for "Gone With The Wind":


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Charles Lindbergh" a great solo pilot from Voice of America.



EXPLORATIONS -- a program in Special English by the Voice of America.

Today, Richard Rael and Shep O'Neal tell the story of one of America's most famous pilots, Charles Lindbergh.

Charles Lindbergh is probably one of the best-known people in the history of flight. He was a hero of the world. Yet, years later, he was denounced as an enemy of his country. He had what is called a "storybook" marriage and family life. Yet he suffered a terrible family tragedy.

Charles Lindbergh was born in the city of Detroit, Michigan, on February fourth, nineteen-oh-two. He grew up on a farm in Minnesota. His mother was a school teacher. His father was a lawyer who later became a United States congressman. The family spent ten years in Washington, D.C. while Mr. Lindbergh served in the Congress.

Young Charles studied mechanical engineering for a time at the University of Wisconsin. But he did not like sitting in a classroom. So, after one-and-one-half years, he left the university. He traveled around the country on a motorcycle.

He settled in Lincoln, Nebraska. He took his first flying lessons there and passed the test to become a flier. But he had to wait one year before he could fly alone. That is how long it took him to save five hundred dollars to buy his own plane.

Charles Lindbergh later wrote about being a new pilot. He said he felt different from people who never flew. "In flying," he said, "I tasted a wine of the gods of which people on the ground could know nothing."

He said he hoped to fly for at least ten years. After that, if he died in a crash, he said it would be all right. He was willing to give up a long, normal life for a short, exciting life as a flier.

From Nebraska, Lindbergh moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he joined the United States Army Air Corps Reserve. When he finished flight training school, he was named best pilot in his class.

After he completed his Army training, the Robertson Aircraft Company of Saint Louis hired him. His job was to fly mail between Saint Louis and Chicago.

Lindbergh flew mostly at night through all kinds of weather. Two times, fog or storms forced him to jump out of his plane. Both times, he landed safely by parachute. Other fliers called him "Lucky Lindy."

In nineteen nineteen, a wealthy hotel owner in New York City offered a prize for flying across the Atlantic Ocean without stopping. The first pilot who flew non-stop from New York to Paris would get twenty-five thousand dollars.

A number of pilots tried. Several were killed. After eight years, no one had won the prize. Charles Lindbergh believed he could win the money if he could get the right airplane.

A group of businessmen in Saint Louis agreed to provide most of the money he needed for the kind of plane he wanted. He designed the aircraft himself for long-distance flying. It carried a large amount of fuel. Some people described it as a "fuel tank with wings, a motor and a seat." Lindbergh named it the Spirit of Saint Louis.

In May, nineteen twenty-seven, Lindbergh flew his plane from San Diego, California, to an airfield outside New York City. He made the flight in the record time of twenty-one hours, twenty minutes.

At the New York airfield, he spent a few days preparing for his flight across the Atlantic. He wanted to make sure his plane's engine worked perfectly. He loaded a rubber boat in case of emergency. He also loaded some food and water, but only enough for a meal or two.

"If I get to Paris," Lindbergh said, "I will not need any more food or water than that. If I do not get to Paris, I will not need any more, either."

May twentieth started as a rainy day. But experts told Lindbergh that weather conditions over the Atlantic Ocean were improving. A mechanic started the engine of the Spirit of Saint Louis.

"It sounds good to me," the mechanic said. "Well, then," said Lindbergh, "I might as well go."

The plane carried a heavy load of fuel. It struggled to fly up and over the telephone wires at the end of the field. Then, climbing slowly, the Spirit of Saint Louis flew out of sight. Lindbergh was on his way to Paris.

Part of the flight was through rain, sleet and snow. At times, Lindbergh flew just three meters above the water. At other times, he flew more than three thousand meters up. He said his greatest fear was falling asleep. He had not slept the night before he left.


During the thirty-three-hour flight, thousands of people waited by their radios to hear if any ships had seen Lindbergh's plane. There was no news from Lindbergh himself. He did not carry a radio. He had removed it to provide more space for fuel.

Lindbergh uses the lights of Paris
to guide the Spirit of Saint Louis

On the evening of May twenty-first, people heard the exciting news. Lindbergh had landed at Le Bourget airport near Paris. Even before the plane's engine stopped, Lindbergh and the Spirit of Saint Louis were surrounded by a huge crowd of shouting, crying, joyful people.

From the moment he landed in France, he was a hero. The French, British and Belgian governments gave him their highest honors.

Back home in the United States, he received his own country's highest awards. The cities of Washington and New York honored him with big parades. He flew to cities all over the United States for celebrations.

He also flew to several Latin American countries as a representative of the United States government. During a trip to Mexico, he met Anne Morrow, the daughter of the American ambassador. They were married in nineteen twenty-nine.

Lindbergh taught his new wife to fly. Together, they made many long flights. Life seemed perfect. Then, everything changed.

On a stormy night in nineteen thirty-two, kidnappers took the baby son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh from their home in New Jersey. Ten weeks later, the boy's body was found. Police caught the murderer several years later. A court found him guilty and sentenced him to death.

The kidnapping and the trial were big news. Reporters gave the Lindberghs no privacy. So Charles and Anne fled to Britain and then to France to try to escape the press. They lived in Europe for four years. But they saw the nations of Europe preparing for war. They returned home before war broke out in nineteen thirty-nine.

Charles Lindbergh did not believe the United States should take part in the war. He made many speeches calling for the United States to remain neutral. He said he did not think the other countries of Europe could defeat the strong military forces of Germany. He said the answer was a negotiated peace.

President Franklin Roosevelt did not agree. A Congressman speaking for the president called Lindbergh an enemy of his country. Many people also criticized Lindbergh for not returning a medal of honor he received from Nazi Germany.

Charles Lindbergh no longer was America's hero.

Lindbergh stopped calling for American neutrality two years later, when Japan attacked the United States navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attack brought America into the war.

Lindbergh spent the war years as an advisor to companies that made American warplanes. He also helped train American military pilots. Although he was a civilian, he flew about fifty combat flights.

Lindbergh loved flying. But flying was not his only interest.


Anne Murrow Lindbergh

While living in France, he worked with a French doctor to develop a mechanical heart. He helped scientists to discover Maya Indian ruins in Mexico. He became interested in the cultures of people from African countries and from the Philippines. And he led campaigns to make people understand the need to protect nature and the environment.

Charles Lindbergh died in nineteen seventy-four, once again recognized as an American hero. President Gerald Ford said Lindbergh represented all that was best in America -- honesty, courage and the desire to succeed.

Today, the Spirit of Saint Louis -- the plane Lindbergh flew to Paris -- hangs in the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. And the man who flew it -- Charles Lindbergh -- remains a symbol of the skill and courage that opened the skies to human flight.

(MUSIC)

This Special English program was written by Marilyn Rice Christiano. Your narrators were Richard Rael and Shep O'Neal.

I'm Shirley Griffith.


COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. In 1919, a $25,000.00 prize was offered to the first pilot who ______________________ .
a: flew around the world
b: flew from New York to California
c: flew across the Atlantic Ocean
d: flew from Saint Louis to Chicago

2. Charles Lindbergh's greatest fear in his flight from New York to Paris in 1927 was _________________________ .
a: running out of fuel
b: falling asleep
c: not having enough food
d: crashing into the ocean

3. Charles Lindbergh met Anne Murrow in 1929. She was ______________________ .
a: from a wealthy family in Saint Louis
b: the daughter of a New York banker
c: the daughter of the ambassador to Mexico
d: the widow of a pilot who had died trying to cross the Atlantic Ocean

4. When Charles Lindbergh flew the mail between Saint Louis and Chicago, ________________________ .
a: he had to jump from a plane twice because of bad weather
b: he always landed his plane safely
c: he flew only in the morning hours because the visibility was better
d: he was uninterested in the lonely, dangerous job

5. When war broke out in Europe in 1939, Charles Lindbergh ______________________ .
a: felt that the United States should not enter the war
b: believed that Nazi Germany could be easily defeated
c: joined the Air Force to become a fighter pilot
d: refused to accept a medal from Nazi Germany honoring him

6. The Spirit of Saint Louis didn't have a radio because _______________________ .
a: Charles Lindbergh didn't want to talk to interviewers
b: Charles Lindbergh wanted more space for fuel
c: Charles Lindbergh thought that music on the radio would put him to sleep
d: Charles Lindbergh didn't think a radio was really necessary

7. Charles Lindbergh _________________ to attempt to fly a plane solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
a: wasn't the first
b: was the first
c: was the second
d: wasn't in the mood

8. When Charles and Anne Lindbergh's son was kidnapped, newspaper reporters _________________________ .
a: helped the Lindbergh's find their son
b: gave the Lindbergh's no privacy
c: wrote nice stories about the Lindberghs to make them feel better
d: wrote articles critical of Charles Lindbergh's politics

9. Charles Lindbergh ________________ honored as an American hero.
a: was always
b: was never
c: wasn't always
d: will eventually be

10. Flying was not Charles Lindbergh's only interest. He was also very interested in _____________________ .
a: helping the US discover new sources of oil and gas
b: helping French doctors develop a mechanical heart
c: helping Gerald Ford become elected president of the United States
d: developing a website for the purposes of teaching English as a Second Language

This is a nice color documentary about the life of Charles Lindbergh.
It shows the appetite for sensational stunts common in the 1920s.




Friday, February 11, 2011

"Hosni Mubarak Resigns. Egypt Wins the Day" from VOA




This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

The resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak after eighteen days of protests filled Cairo's Tahrir, or Liberation, Square with celebrations.

(SOUND)

CROWD: "Freedom!"

But with that freedom comes unanswered questions about Egypt's political future.

On Thursday, Mr. Mubarak had again told Egyptians that he would stay in power until elections planned for September. But on Friday his recently appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman, announced the resignation of the eighty-two-year-old president. He said Mr. Mubarak had asked the military to take control.

An Egyptian woman among many celebrating in Tahrir Square in Cairo
AP
An Egyptian woman among many celebrating in Tahrir Square in Cairo

President Obama says the resignation marks only a beginning of Egypt's transition. Mr. Obama said Egyptians had made it clear that they will accept "nothing less than genuine democracy." He said the military will now have to make sure the transition takes place in a way that Egyptians can trust.

BARACK OBAMA: "That means protecting the rights of Egypt's citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free. Above all this transition must bring all of Egypt's voices to the table."

Mr. Mubarak survived at least six assassination attempts as president. He was vice president to Anwar Sadat. He became president in October of nineteen eighty-one after militants killed Mr. Sadat.

Under Mr. Mubarak's rule, Egypt kept peace with Israel and close ties with the West. His government was an important ally of the United States in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He also earned Western support for his efforts to suppress Islamic extremism.

But he kept Egypt under a deeply unpopular emergency law that restricted freedoms and gave the police wide powers of arrest. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's leading opposition group, were often targets of those arrests.

We asked Egyptians and others to comment on Mr. Mubarak's resignation on the VOA Learning English page on Facebook. Here are some of their comments, starting with this from Wessam Elmeligi:

Ours is one of the most honorable revolutions in history. We did not fall into the pit of civil war. We did not get any help from any government. This is our victory. Our freedom. Our Egypt. Egyptians have taught the world one lesson: when the people speak, their voice is not words. It is thunder. And when thunder strikes the entire forces of nature listen. Because thunder is sent by God.

Another Facebook user named Kefaya Punk said: In Egypt we were told that we can never revolt, but after we saw with our own eyes that Tunisians were able to oust their president and the regime, we were still suspicious that we would be able to repeat what they did, but we did.

Hanaa Elbhery said: I am Egyptian and I am so proud of the first real achievement of our generation.

And Mohammad Elfiky wrote: Some celebrate and some cry but we are all Egyptians. I love this land and I'm ready to die for it. Let's hope the future will be better than ever.

There were also expressions of support from other countries.

Heba Hassan wrote from Bahrain: Congrats to our brothers and sisters in Egypt! We are so happy for them. My eyes were full of tears when I heard the news on TV.

Jill Harper wrote: I am from the US and so happy for the Egyptians!!

Franz Josef Hildinger had this advice: Education is everything. Invest in it now!

Karam Adnan Alhafiz wrote: Congratulations. You proved that the will of the people is above everything.

And Iclal Yoksuc said to Egyptians: I hope you have a good president that cares about all Egyptians and that deserves you.

There were also comments like this from Peshang M Hussen: Now it is step 2 to dictators in other countries. And this from Moshtaq Abdullah Jamel: Mubarak has gone with the wind. Who's next?

You can read all the comments and add your own at the VOA Learning English page on Facebook. Or post a comment at voaspecialenglish.com.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

For more news on the events in Egypt, check out this article

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"Unrest in the Arab World" from Voa News.




This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

Earlier this week, Hosni Mubarak promised to leave office, but not until elections in September. President Obama spoke twice with the Egyptian leader by phone and said an "orderly transition" must begin now.

Supporters of Mr. Mubarak attacked protesters and reporters, but the protests continued in Cairo and other cities.

(SOUND)

Opponents of Mr. Mubarak demanded that he leave office now. They declared Friday the "Day of Departure." Supporters of the Egyptian president declared it the "Day of Loyalty."

Protests also took place in other Arab countries this week.

In Jordan, hundreds of people demonstrated Friday to pressure the newly chosen prime minister to make promised political reforms. The demonstration in Amman came a day after Jordan's main Islamist opposition party met with King Abdullah to discuss its demands.

Some people have called for the newly named prime minister to resign. But leaders of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood say they will give Marouf al-Bakhit a chance to seek reform.

King Abdullah dismissed his government this week following weeks of anti-government protests. The king says reforms have been slow. He says all parties should work together to help increase the role of citizens in decision-making.

One of the demands of the Muslim Brotherhood is to change the constitution to involve parliament in appointing prime ministers. Currently only Jordan's king has that right.

In Yemen, tens of thousands protested in the capital, Sana’a, on Thursday. They called it a "Day of Rage."

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"No to corruption," they say. "No to dictatorship." Others demonstrated in support of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Mr. Saleh has been in power since nineteen seventy-eight. The Yemeni leader has been an ally of the United States in fighting terrorism.

His latest promise to leave office came Wednesday. He said he would leave in two years when his term ends, and that his son would not replace him.

Lutfi Shatara of the Yemeni news agency, Aden Press, says the protesters have taken their lead from the uprising in Tunisia.

LUTFI SHATARA: "What happened in Tunisia -- it gives the people in the Middle East belief in themselves."

Nadim Shahadi is a Middle East analyst with Chatham House in London. He thinks the American-led invasion of Iraq in two thousand three led to what is happening now in the Arab world.

NADIM SHAHADI: "I believe that the trigger for this was the fall of the statue of Saddam Hussein. This was a huge shock to the region."

Iran's top leader has praised the anti-government protests in Egypt and Tunisia. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the demonstrations an "Islamic awakening." He accused Hosni Mubarak of serving the United States and Israel.

There have also been protests in Lebanon, although for different political reasons. Haleem is an international affairs student in New York. He is from Lebanon, but worries about Egypt.

HALEEM: "I am just afraid of the transition and what happens next because we can see for example what happened in the Iranian revolution, and I cannot really rule out the Iranian case to repeat itself in Egypt.

"It can have also many spillover effects, either on Israel, and then if on Israel, it can also have some impacts on Lebanon. The Middle East is like a system by itself."

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

But what is the response from the Obama Administration? The United States is in conflict because, on the one hand, the U.S. encourages the desire for freedom and democracy, but on the other hand, the U.S. depends on Egypt and Yemen for its support against extremists. This dilemma is well discussed in this article.



A link to Arab-American reaction to events in Tunisia, Cairo, and Yemen.

Here is a video from PBS, reporting on both the protest in Cairo and Yemen.