Tutoring Students Might Lower Dementia Risk in Older Americans
Chaniya Anderson is a second grader
at Whittier Elementary School in Washington.
She's a little behind
in math and reading.
She gets one-on-one tutoring twice a week
from 62-year-old volunteer Shirley Mickel.
"I really love it.
It gives me an opportunity
to give back.
It's my way of giving back.
And also, it helps me to stay alert
and stay involved with children.
I love children.
I love to see them learn."
Mickel retired from federal government
as an employment discrimination investigator.
Gloria Pendleton worked for the U.S. Navy
as a computer systems programmer.
She also tutors students at Whittier.
"I feel much better.
I feel like I'm learning.
So I'm constantly trying to learn
along with the children."
Mickel and Pendleton are members
of Experience Corps,
a national program
that engages people over 55
in helping students of low-income families.
Experience Corps' 2000 volunteers
tutor and mentor elementary students
in 23 cities across the country.
at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland
indicates that the volunteers do benefit
from their efforts.
Michelle Carlson is the associate director
of the Center on Aging and Health at Johns Hopkins.
through this particular program, Experience Corps,
what it may be showing preliminary
is that volunteering and exercising your brain
to help problem solving and to help children read
may actually be improving
areas of the brain
such as frontal lobes.
And, by improving these parts of the brain,
we may be reducing the risk for dementia
such as the most common form of dementia
being Alzheimer's disease."
Carlson says that older adults are growing in numbers around the world,
and there are mutual benefits
to pairing them with children
who need help.
"The beauty of it
is that we are not asking you to take a pill.
We are asking you to get back, you know, to engage
with...uh, with…, with other people in need,
so that at the same time that you are helping others,
you are helping yourself."
The volunteers say they feel rewarded
by looking at children and seeing them grow,
and enjoy being able to contribute
and being part of the community.
For Producer June Soh, I’m Carol Pearson, VOA News.
Astronauts to Aquanauts; NASA Conducts Experiments on Sea Floor
Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield
has spent most of the past two weeks
about 19 meters below the waves
off the Florida coast.
He is leading a two-week NASA mission
aboard the Aquarius Underwater Laboratory,
which is run by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Hadfield's team includes a NASA astronaut,
an undersea engineer and a scientist.
They live inside Aquarius,
and they run experiments in the lab
and explore the blue depths
outside the porthole windows.
"When I was working outside here
over the last couple of weeks,
I would suddenly notice where I am
while I'm working.
I'm busy working on some part of a space suit design,
and then an angel fish goes by
or a ray scuttles across the bottom of the ocean,
and it reminds me
of the comfort level I've gotten to
and the amazing difference of where I am."
Hadfield is on the sea floor
inside the Aquarius underwater habitat's 122 square meters
of living and working space.
It is anchored next to a coral reef,
five and a half kilometers off Key Largo
in the Florida Keys.
But even on the ocean floor,
Aquarius is visible on the World Wide Web.
Commander Hadfield can be seen
via webcam on NASA's web site.
He stands in a narrow white room
with stainless steel equipment
as he speaks to reporters
using something that looks akin to a cordless phone.
It is the round window
that looks out into the pale blue water
that provides the biggest clue
to Hadfield's whereabouts.
The view might be serene,
but the undersea environment is potentially deadly to humans,
just as space is.
Hadfield would know.
He has completed two spacewalks
in his 18 years as an astronaut,
and he says there are similarities
between working in space and in the sea.
"They are remarkably similar.
You are wearing gear
to protect you from an environment
that would kill you.
Every breath is amplified
so you sound like Darth Vader
when you're out walking around out there."
By the time the 14-day mission wraps Monday,
the crew will have conducted a total of 52 so-called "space walks"
in the sea.
At the end of the mission
they will ascend to the water's surface
over the course of about 16 hours,
at a rate of roughly one meter per hour,
so their bodies can adjust
to the changes in pressure.
Suzanne Presto, VOA News, Washington
World Financial Markets Sharply Lower
For weeks, the Greek debt crisis has taxed investor optimism
while sapping strength from the Euro.
The global downward market trend accelerated Thursday
with two economic reports
that cast doubt
on the sustained vitality
of the U.S. economic recovery.
First, the Labor Department reported a spike
in the number of Americans filing for jobless benefits.
The number of newly laid off workers jumped unexpectedly
to 471,000 last week,
25,000 more than the previous week.
Economists have long assumed
that job creation would lag behind overall improvement
of economic conditions in the United States.
But another report has cast doubt
on the second part of that assumption.
After rising steadily for more than a year,
the index of leading economic indicators actually slipped
by 0.1 percent in April,
according to a private research group.
Six of 10 components of the index deteriorated,
including new home permit applications, jobless claims,
and factory materials deliveries.
The onslaught of worrisome news is creating an investor climate
similar to a brief panic
that erupted on May 6,
when the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged
by 1,000 points
before bouncing back later in the day.
The events of May 6 triggered an investigation
as to whether the feverish sell-off
stemmed from a computer glitch
or market manipulation.
But not everyone is panicked.
Charles Bobrinskoy of Chicago-based Ariel Investments.
"We remain cautiously optimistic
about the U.S. economy.
Uh, in fact the manufacturers
who are filling inventory levels
are telling us
that inventories were at unsustainably low levels,
and so business is better.
I think this is right now a case
of fear getting ahead of reality."
Markets in Paris and Frankfurt closed
down more than 2 percent.
London and Tokyo lost just over 1.5 percent on the day.
Wall Street's Dow Jones Industrial Average was down
more than 3 percent
in mid-day trading.
Michael Bowman, VOA News, Washington
Want to Live in a Work of Art?
If you ask Americans
to name a famous architect,
chances are they'll think first of Frank Lloyd Wright.
His minimalist buildings,
designed to blend with nature,
revolutionized architectural thinking.
Wright was born
on a Wisconsin farm in 1867,
two years after the end of the U.S. Civil War.
He would live to see
the Soviet Union send a Sputnik satellite into space.
Even before young Frankie was born,
his schoolteacher mother decided
that he would be an architect.
Bright and curious, the lad obliged
by arranging blocks and paper
in the shapes of simple buildings and furniture.
Wright apprenticed in Chicago
under the early designers
of modern skyscrapers.
Eventually he inherited his father's Wisconsin farm,
where he built
one of the world's most famous houses - Taliesin.
Wright called it
the supreme natural house
that blended so well into the surroundings
that it was hard to tell
where the floors left off and the ground began.
He incorporated what he called his Usonian style
into clients' low, flat homes
that were almost works of art.
Avoiding fancy Victorian flourishes,
Wright designed long rooms
with lots of right angles and shelves
that ran the length of the house.
His houses were not what you would call cozy.
Wright was an imaginative architect
but a terrible engineer.
Clients loved to show off their homes
but found the austere wooden furniture -
which was bolted in place and difficult to move -
as uncomfortable as park benches.
Floor-to-ceiling windows were drafty.
And worst of all, most of the roofs leaked.
Some of Wright's customers put up with it all
as a sacrifice for the sake of art and design.
in Florence, Alabama,
said she and her family
sometimes grew tired of living
in an architectural laboratory.
She joked that the kids might get up
in the middle of the night sometime
and unscrew the place!
I'm Ted Landphair.
Obama Visits Oil Imperiled U.S. Gulf Coast
A rain-soaked President Obama delivered a somber message
from a Coast Guard station
on Louisiana's threatened coastline.
with a massive and potentially-unprecedented environmental disaster.
The oil that is still leaking from the well
could seriously damage the economy and the environment
of our Gulf states,
and it could extend for a long time.
It could jeopardize the livelihoods
of thousands of Americans
who call this place home."
Mr. Obama said that even while hoping for the best,
the federal government is prepared
for a worst case scenario,
if the spill from the underwater well continues.
He promised a full investigation of the disaster,
and said that petroleum giant BP will be held responsible
for the accident.
But for now, he said, there is work to be done.
affected by this spill
should know this:
Your government will do
whatever it takes
for as long as it takes
to stop this crisis."
An explosion nearly two weeks ago
aboard the now-sunken oil rig
killed 11 workers.
The U.S. Coast Guard says
millions of liters of oil have since spilled
into the Gulf of Mexico.
The oil slick threatens ever-larger swaths
of the coastline,
placing sensitive marine ecosystems in peril.
If uncontained, experts say
oil could saturate beaches and marine habitats
as far away as Florida,
devastating fishing and tourism.
The disaster comes
as the Obama administration attempts to chart a course
toward U.S. energy independence and less reliance on fossil fuels.
President Obama endorsed more off-shore drilling
as part of a comprehensive strategy,
but he has since halted new drilling projects
until investigators determine the cause of the BP accident.
Michael Bowman, VOA News, Washington
American Colleges are Going Green
The nickname of sports teams
at Tulane University in New Orleans
is the Green Wave.
North Texas University's squads are the Mean Green.
Once called the Indians,
Dartmouth College's teams are now the Big Green.
Green is in
in college sports.
But there's an even bigger green wave
in the classroom.
Last year alone, colleges and universities across the country created
more than 100 major or minor programs
in energy, sustainability, environmental studies
and other so-called green subjects.
Two reasons for this:
Even in a tight economy,
green industries are offering good jobs
And students and their parents are pressuring colleges
to train them for these jobs.
So college architecture, agriculture, and engineering departments
to do just that.
According to the USA Today newspaper,
the Obama Administration estimates
that opportunities in energy and environmental occupations will grow
by 52 percent by 2016,
compared to just a 14-percent increase in other fields.
Ten years ago at the University of California-Berkeley,
just 40 students enrolled
in an introductory class
on the subject of energy.
This year, 270 students are taking the class.
There are energy clubs on campus.
The one at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
has 1,700 members.
And at Arizona State University,
600 students have declared sustainability
as their major.
Not long ago, even top college students would likely have had trouble
Now, a lot of them are specializing in it.
I’m Ted Landphair.
Visiting Washington This Summer?
It's Spring -
prime tourist season
in the Washington, D.C., area.
But sweltering summer weather will soon arrive
along the Potomac River,
and America's most famous farmhouse is ready.
the home of George Washington, the nation's first president,
What's so special about that?
The owners of historic properties struggle
with a basic question.
Should we preserve our treasure
as close as possible to its condition
when famous people lived or worked here?
After all, we do things like scraping through layers of paint
just to find and restore authentic colors
from a century or two ago.
Or should we bend our preservationist principles
and make the place comfortable
for visitors and staff?
The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association -
the nation's first preservationist organization
that once saved Washington's estate
from ruin after the U.S. Civil War -
struggled mightily with this dilemma.
For years many members opposed
any climate-control measures,
noting that George and Martha Washington
certainly never flipped on an air-conditioning switch.
They also worried
that the installation of a/c would damage
plaster and wallpaper and wood.
When the Mount Vernon Ladies decided
to go ahead and put in the cooling system
a few years ago,
two key staff members resigned in protest.
One called the move unethical.
But renovation forces won out.
Air conditioning would help preserve
valuable furniture and musical instruments
that heat and humidity were degrading,
And contractors convinced them
that vents and ducts and such would be barely noticeable.
So even though Mount Vernon is 211 years old,
I’m Ted Landphair.
High Costs Drive Americans Overseas for Medical Help
John Freeman took a gamble
a few years ago.
The 62-year-old retired computer analyst
dropped his health care insurance,
because the high monthly premiums and a huge deductible
were eating up his retirement savings.
He hoped he would not need major medical care
until he turned 65 and qualified
for the government's Medicare insurance program.
But last year, he had a heart attack.
He was told
surgery in his hometown of Reno, Nevada,
would cost close to $120,000.
Freeman felt he had two choices:
use up all his savings or die.
"I thought that the American medical system was gonna take away
my life savings
and essentially ruin any prospects I had
for a pleasant retirement
after the operation."
So he did
what hundreds of thousands of Americans do each year:
go abroad for the surgery.
After some research, Freeman decided
to have his operation done
at the Anadolu Medical Center
in a suburb of Istanbul, Turkey.
Just 15 percent
of what it would cost in Reno:
$18,000, all-inclusive, except for airfare.
Acknowledging that medical tourism is a growing industry
because of lower medical costs overseas,
both the American Medical Association and the American College
that encourage patients
to seek out the treatment
that best suits their needs.
However, both organizations also warn patients
to make sure they choose certified doctors and surgeons
at health care institutions
that have met high standards of accreditation.
John Freeman took that advice seriously
when he researched Anadolu Medical Center.
"When I first looked at the website,
there's a logo that says
'Affiliated with Johns Hopkins University'
and I think that really helped my comfort zone,
so to speak for this,
because I knew there was an affiliation
with a well-known American hospital."
Medical industry observers expect
an exponential increase in medical travelers,
as continuing costly health care at home
drives more Americans
to seek services overseas
from the growing medical tourism industry.
For VOA News, I’m Jan Sluizer in San Francisco.
Transit Systems Worldwide Boost Security After Moscow Bombings
It is a commuters' worst nightmare,
a normal day turned upside down
by an explosion.
But some global security experts say
the Moscow bombings represent a kind of terrorism
that is here to stay.
Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution.
"This kind of violence cannot be permanently stopped,
and that we may be living with this
for much of the rest of our lifetimes."
In the wake of the bombings,
cities in the United States and Europe boosted security
in and around their mass transit systems.
But the heightened security will only last
a short time.
O'Hanlon says there should be more permanent changes
in mass transit security.
"I do believe we probably should step up
the relatively unobtrusive and relatively easy, although sometimes
somewhat expensive, means
of looking for explosives
perhaps many more K-9 bomb teams
at these kinds of places.
And we should continue to put a lot of resources
into intelligence work."
While terrorism is a constant threat,
local and federal emergency responders in the U.S.
regularly conduct drills, like this one,
to prepare for disaster.
In this drill, police and fire fighters in Washington are rushing
to treat the survivors
of a bomb explosion
inside a bus.
The goal of these exercises is to practice,
so when a real emergency hits
these crews will be prepared.
From the tragedy in Moscow's subway,
to the 2004 Madrid train bombings
and the explosions in London's public transit system the following
experts say no country is immune to terrorism.
"Today, the goal of modern apocalyptic terrorism
is often to do as much disruption as possible
and kill as many as possible
in order to really shake up the way
in which societies operate
and governments make decisions
and make the pain so high
that decisions are reassessed."
O'Hanlon says even though the aim of modern day terrorists
is to force a change in policy,
so far the tactics do not work.
"What I think some of these terrorist groups may have underestimated
is that we in the west or in Russia, in this case, are perhaps
not quite as soft
as they might have first believed."
O'Hanlon says since the September 11 attacks,
Western societies have not tolerated terrorism.
And cities across the United States will continue to prepare
for the worst,
in exercises like this one,
so if another attack occurs,
they will be ready for it.
Elizabeth Lee, VOA News
Ancient Japanese Art of Origami Thriving in San Francisco
Remember how much fun it was
to play with paper planes
as a kid?
Most people give up those kinds of hobbies
once they grow up,
but not Robert Lang.
"The biggest thing was just like this paper airplane,
it was a way you could make something
with found materials, cheap paper,
scraps, even trash."
Lang lives in the San Francisco bay area.
He is a laser physicist
and graduate of the California Institute of Technology,
and has nearly 50 U.S. patents to his name.
Eight years ago he gave up his job
to pursue origami,
making him one of the few professional origami artists
in the country.
He never stops creating,
even during lunchtime.
"I'll give it to the waitress.
That'll be part of the tip."
"So, this is for you!"
"Thank you very much.
This is really neat.
I love it!"
But Lang can turn bills
into lots of other things
Using his understanding of complex geometric forms,
Lang has played an important role
in origami's evolution.
Many of these models were unheard of
just 10 or so years ago.
Lang's works have been displayed
in the Lindsay Wildlife Museum
near San Francisco for years.
Loren Behr is executive director of the museum.
"It's kind of hard to believe sometimes
when I look at his work
to realize that one sheet of paper goes into each of these animals
with all of these complexities,
all the amazing number of folds.
I can't imagine
that he can actually do that."
Many countries around the world have origami traditions.
But it has played a particularly important role
in Japanese culture.
San Francisco's Japan town is home
to some origami masters,
including Linda Tomoko Mihara.
Linda is a third-generation Japanese-American.
She is famous for her origami cranes,
which once played an important role
in Japanese culture.
"It was tradition for the bride
to fold 1,000 cranes
to wish for a long, prosperous marriage,
and also to demonstrate, um…I guess, her patience."
She and Lang have worked together.
They once created all the origami models
for a 3D animated commercial.
The great response that the commercial got has further spurred
the two artist's passion to create.
They are now hoping
to one day do the first-ever origami movie.
For producer Suli Yi in San Francisco, Ruth Reader, VOA News