HOST: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. On our program this week:
Music from Tony-nominated Broadway shows…
A question from a listener about American highways…
And a report about World Environment Day.
World Environment Day
Every year on June fifth many countries celebrate World Environment Day. The United Nations established this special day in nineteen seventy-two to get people to think about taking care of the planet. Faith Lapidus tells us more.
FAITH LAPIDUS: Public events for World Environment Day are taking place from June first through June fifth. The events and conferences help teach world leaders and citizens how to protect the environment.
Every year World Environment Day is celebrated in a different city. This year it is being held in San Francisco, California. This is the first time since the beginning of World Environment Day that the conference is being held in the United States.
The main message of World Environment Day this year is “Plan for the Planet.” The events and conferences will show how to have “Green Cities.” This means that people will talk about ways that cities can have healthy environments.
Most people in the world live in cities. This makes them especially important areas of environmental concern. Cities use more than seventy-five percent of the world’s natural resources such as water and gasoline. World Environment Day will center on how people in cities can work together to help save the planet.
San Francisco is holding public talks to discuss pollution reduction, clean energy sources and the importance of healthy parks and gardens. Special experts are among the speakers. For example, former vice-president Al Gore will talk about climate change. There also are fun events such as music concerts, movies, art shows, parades, bicycle rides and tree plantings. Local farmers and restaurant owners will serve food that has been naturally grown.
The Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, invited city leaders from all over the world to attend this conference and share ideas. Representatives from many environmental organizations also are attending. The United Nations hopes to create an international agreement that countries and citizens will follow to help improve the Earth’s environment.
Highways and Freeways
|A highway in Chicago.|
HOST: Our listener question this week comes from Russia. Andrey Borzenko asks the difference between a highway and a freeway in the United States.
A highway is a main public road, especially one that connects cities and towns. A freeway is a broad highway designed for high-speed traffic. A freeway is also called an expressway, motorway, pike, state highway or superhighway.
In the United States it is possible to drive more than four thousand kilometers from the east coast on the Atlantic Ocean to the west coast on the Pacific Ocean. You can also drive more than two thousand kilometers from near the Canadian border south to the Mexican border.
You can drive these distances on wide, safe roads that have no traffic signals or stop signs. In fact, if you did not have to stop for gasoline or sleep, you could drive almost anywhere in the United States without stopping at all.
This is possible because of the Interstate Highway system. This system has almost seventy thousand kilometers of roads. It crosses more than fifty-five thousand bridges and can be found in forty-nine of America’s fifty states.
The Interstate Highway system is usually two roads, one in each direction, separated by an area that is planted with grass and trees. Each road holds two lines of cars that can travel at speeds between one hundred and one hundred twenty kilometers an hour.
The Interstate Highway system has been an important part of the nation’s economic growth during the past forty years. Experts believe that trucks using the system carry about seventy-five percent of all products that are sold. Jobs and new businesses have been created near the busy Interstate Highways all across the United States. These include hotels, motels, eating places, gasoline stations and shopping centers.
The highway system has made it possible for people to work in a city and live outside it. And it has made it possible for people to travel easily and quickly from one part of the country to another.
Who will win top honors for Broadway plays this year? Producers, actors and others in the industry will find out at the Tony Awards ceremony Sunday night in New York City. The rest of America can watch it on television. Steve Ember tells about the nominees for Best Musical Play.
STEVE EMBER: Four plays are competing for the Tony Award for Best Musical Play. “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” is based on a funny movie of the same title. The play is about two men who trick women out of their money. One man makes women fall in love with him. The other makes women feel sorry for him. Listen as the two men sing “Dirty, Rotten Number.”
|Looking on the bright side: "Spamalot."|
“Monty Python’s Spamalot” is another comedy competing for Best Musical. It is based on the funny movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” It tells about King Arthur and his knights. The play received fourteen Tony nominations, the most of any play this year. Several cast members sing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”
“The Twenty-Fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” is about students who take part in a spelling competition. William Finn wrote the songs in the show. Critics say the songs are both funny and emotional. Here the spellers sing “Why We Like Spelling.”
The final nominee is “The Light in the Piazza.” It is based on a book and a movie. The story tells about an Italian man and an American woman who fall in love. But the woman’s mother tries to keep them apart. We leave you now with the lovers singing “ Say It Somehow.”
HOST: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
Our show was written by Dana Demange, Shelley Gollust and Caty Weaver, who also was our producer. Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.