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AMERICAN MOSAIC - May 2, 2003: Music in Memory of Nina Simone / Michael Jordan Retires Again / Question About Taxes in America - 2003-05-02



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. On our program today,

We answer a listener’s question about American taxes ...

Play music in memory of singer and pianist Nina Simone ...

And report about the retirement of a world famous American athlete.

Michael Jordan Retires Again


Ten years ago, Michael Jordan retired from the Chicago Bulls. At the time, he said he might consider returning to basketball one day. Michael Jordan did return to the game -- not once, but twice. Last month, he retired for the third time. Shep O-Neal reports.


Michael Jordan is widely considered basketball’s best player ever. He became known as Air Jordan. He seemed to fly through the air with the ball. He also gained wide notice by helping to sell products. Businesses paid him tens of millions of dollars.

Michael Jordan attended the University of North Carolina. He joined the Chicago Bulls in nineteen-eighty-four. He led the Bulls to six world championships during his thirteen years with the team.

Michael Jordan first retired from the Bulls in nineteen-ninety-three. He played baseball for a short time, but returned to the team in nineteen-ninety-four. He retired again five years later. He said it was time to do something else. But he could not end his relationship with basketball.

Michael Jordan became president of operations for the Washington Wizards, the team in the nation's capital. But the Wizards were not a very good team. So Michael Jordan decided to help by playing again.

His involvement as a player brought more people to watch the games. But the Wizards did not reach the playoffs in the two years that Michael Jordan played with them.

He plans to continue as president of basketball operations for the Wizards. He says his experience playing with the team will help him in that job. For example, he is in a better position to decide who should play on the team in the future.

Michael Jordan is forty years old now. He says it was fun to be around the young players. He says playing again helped him understand how the game has changed.

Taxation in the United States


Our VOA listener question this week comes from China. Mike Li asks about taxes paid by Americans and by those who are not citizens.

People who live in the United States but are not citizens pay taxes only on the money they earn in this country. How much they pay depends on how they earn that money. It also depends on any tax treaty between the United States and the person's home country.

Non-citizens also have to pay sales tax on goods they purchase, just like most Americans do.

American citizens pay other kinds of taxes, too, such as those taken by the state where they live. At the city and county level, they usually pay tax on property they own. The federal government also taxes some property and money left when someone dies. And it taxes earnings on the sale of a house and other investments.

Americans pay a social security tax that is used to pay retired workers. They also must pay federal income tax on the money they earn.

Americans usually have to report their income and pay their tax by April fifteenth. The federal tax agency is known as the I-R-S -- the Internal Revenue Service.

But most American workers do not wait until April fifteenth to pay all their taxes. This is because part of the tax is taken out for the I-R-S each time a worker is paid. If more is withheld than a person owes come April fifteenth, then the government gives the extra money back.

The federal income tax rate is not the same for everyone. People who earn a lot of money pay taxes at a higher rate than those who earn little. Those who earn very little do not pay any tax.

But even people who earn the same amount of money do not always pay the same tax. This is because of the many different tax laws. The government uses these laws for economic and social purposes. For example, people who borrow money to buy a house often pay less tax than people who rent a home. Homeowners subtract the interest they pay on their loan from their taxable income.

Yet critics say America's tax laws are much too complex. Also, many Americans agree with President Bush who says taxes are too high. Others, however, argue that tax cuts are not a good idea at a time of a weak economy and the war in Iraq to pay for.

Nina Simone



Singer and pianist Nina Simone combined spiritual, jazz and protest songs. She died last week at her home in France at the age of seventy. Steve Ember tells us about her.


Nina Simone was born Eunice Waymon, one of eight children of an African American family in North Carolina. She began to play piano at three years old. Her parents were poor. So a white woman her mother worked for paid for her early music lessons.

In the early nineteen-fifties, she studied classical piano at the Juilliard School in New York. Later she found work at drinking places. One bar owner told her he wanted a singer, not a pianist. So she began singing while she played. She changed her name to Nina Simone to hide what she was doing from her parents. One of the songs she often played was “Love Me Or Leave Me.”


Her first big success came in nineteen-fifty nine, when she recorded, “I Loves You, Porgy," from George Gershwin’s musical, “Porgy and Bess.”


In the nineteen-sixties, she began to write protest songs during the rise of the civil rights movement. Later, she recorded songs in just about every style and performed with symphony orchestras.

Nina Simone left the United States in nineteen-seventy-three. She said she was angry about the treatment of blacks in America. And she said Europeans gave her more respect. She lived in the Caribbean and Africa before settling in Europe.

In recent years, her songs have become popular again. One of her most remembered hits is “My Baby Just Cares for Me.”



This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

Our program was written by Nancy Steinbach and Cynthia Kirk. Our studio engineer was Rick Barnes. And our producer was Paul Thompson.

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