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Flip-Flops Gains More Footing | Presidential Retirement | Tom Petty


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


I'm Faith Lapidus. On our show this week:

We answer a question about what American Presidents do after they retire …

Play some music by Tom Petty …

And report about a popular kind of footwear.


Flip-flop shoes have become very popular in the United States, mostly among young people. Steve Ember tells us about them.


Flip-flops have a flat sole and a V-shaped strap. The strap goes between the wearer’s big toe and second toe and around either side of the foot. The name flip-flop comes from the noise the shoes make while slapping against the bottom of the wearer’s foot and the ground when he or she walks. Listen to see if you recognize the sound.


People in other countries have worn flip-flops for many years. Today, flip-flops are often made of rubber. They are popular in developing countries because of their low cost. Some flip-flips only cost about a dollar.

They recently have become very popular in the United States. Many people have worn flip-flops at the beach or around the house during the summer. But now you can see young women wearing flip-flops just about everywhere. Some people wear simple ones made of rubber. But others wear flip-flops made of leather, cloth or plastic, with jewels and other materials added. Some special flip-flops even cost a lot of money.

Most people find flip-flops pleasant to wear, especially this summer when it has been very hot around the country. Some young women wear their flip-flops to work instead of painful high heels. But other people think that flip-flops should be worn only at the beach and not at the office.

Last summer, flip-flops were in the news in Washington, D.C. Young female athletes from Northwestern University were honored at the White House. The team had just won the national lacrosse championship. Several of the young women on the team wore flip-flops to the White House celebration. Some people in the media criticized this. Many people thought it was not right to wear such shoes to the White House.

While most of the flip-flop wearers are young women, some older women wear them too. So do many young men. But other people will not wear them on city streets. They say they do not protect the foot and do not offer enough support. Some foot doctors agree. They say flip-flops have been linked to a growing number of foot problems among teenagers and young adults.

Presidential Retirement

Our VOA listener question this week comes from Nepal. Amrit Rai asks what American presidents do after they retire.

Former Presidents continue to receive special government services and money after their presidential term ends. Each former president receives retirement pay, money to pay travel costs and money to pay the people who continue to work for them. They also get security protection for the rest of their lives.

Some former presidents seem to disappear from public life. But others continue to serve the American people. Former President Jimmy Carter is well known for humanitarian work since he left office. He helps build homes for poor Americans. He also helps settle international disputes. He has served as an election observer in other countries. And he has written several books.

Many people have called Mister Carter an example of a successful former president. Some experts note that public approval of Mister Carter increased several years after his defeat in the presidential election of nineteen eighty.

Just the opposite happened to former president Ronald Reagan. His popularity fell after he left office. Many people criticized him for accepting an offer from a wealthy Japanese publisher to visit Japan. Mister Reagan was paid about two million dollars to make a few appearances there. In nineteen ninety-four, Mister Reagan announced that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He died ten years later.

Former President Gerald Ford has made few public appearances since leaving office. Former President George Bush has done the same. Recently, however, he and former President Bill Clinton have traveled together to places in need of aid following natural disasters. They worked together to get help for the people of Thailand following the tsunami there. And they helped the people of the American Gulf coast following the storm known as Hurricane Katrina.

Bill Clinton is one of the most active former presidents. He makes speeches around the world. He wrote a best-selling book about his life. And he has a foundation that supports many humanitarian causes. These include providing low cost medicines for people with H.I.V and AIDS around the world.

Tom Petty


Rock musician Tom Petty has just released a third record under his own name. It is called “Highway Companion.” His band, the Heartbreakers, was not part of this album. Katherine Cole tells us more about Petty’s latest effort in his thirty years of making music.


Critics say many of the songs on “Highway Companion” are about being lost in the world and looking for something to hold on to. Petty says he did not plan to create a theme-based record. But, after listening to many of the songs he recognized the idea of being alone in the world. This song combines the sounds of Z-Z Top and John Lee Hooker into a fast beat. It is called “Saving Grace.”


Many songs on “Highway Companion” include images of motion, travel and the road. Other songs are about love. This song is about a man trying to recapture the love of a woman. It is called “Jack”.


Tom Petty joined forces with Jeff Lynne to produce “Highway Companion.” The two musicians played together in the late nineteen eighties in the band called the Traveling Wilburys. Lynne also helped produce Petty’s first solo album. In “Highway Companion,” the two musicians create a simple sound that mixes rock, country and folk music.

Some critics say too many of the songs on “Highway Companion” have the same rhythm. But they agree that “Highway Companion” is worth the trip. We leave you now with another song from “Highway Companion”, “Big Weekend.”



I'm Faith Lapidus. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

Our show was written by Jill Moss, Erin Schiavone and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site,

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