Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson.
listen to music nominated for Country Music Awards …
a listener question about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac …
report about efforts to protect a huge rare desert plant in the Southwest.
A saguaro is a giant cactus found only in the Sonoran
Desert of the southwestern United States and Mexico. A saguaro can live about two hundred years
and grow to a height of fifteen meters.
More than one million of these cacti are in Saguaro National Park near
Tucson, Arizona. Chief Ranger Bob Love says the purpose of the park is to
protect these rare plants. Faith Lapidus
is illegal to remove any plants from a national park in the United States. Arizona law bans removing saguaros from any
public or private land without government permission.
Rangers at Saguaro National Park say
many people in the Southwest want a saguaro in their yard. And they are willing to pay more than one
thousand dollars for one. So people have
been stealing these plants to sell to homeowners. The thieves usually take young plants that
are only about one or two meters tall and can fit into a truck. They dig up the
plant and take it away at night. Last
year, seventeen saguaros were taken at one time.
Saguaro National Park recently decided to take action
to stop this theft. It is planning to
place microchips in some of its saguaros.
A microchip is an extremely small electronic marker placed in a plant,
animal or object. Each chip in the park will contain the saguaro's location,
elevation, height, weight and general health. Waving a special stick near the
chip permits it to show this information.
Officials say the microchips could help them discover if
a saguaro found outside the park has been stolen. But Chief Ranger Bob Love
says the real purpose of the project is to stop anyone from stealing the
plants. He also says the chips will help
officials follow the health changes and learn more about the growth of each
Microchips are already protecting cacti in another
national park, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada. Officials there began placing the chips in
barrel cacti in nineteen ninety-nine.
Public Affairs Officer Andrew Munoz says the electronic chips have
reduced the number of cactus thefts and have made it easier for officials to
study the life changes of the cacti in the park.
Mae and Freddie Mac
Our listener question this week comes from China. Peggy Guan wants to know the difference
between Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The short answer is that there is not much difference
between the two so-called government sponsored enterprises. Fannie Mae is a
nickname for the Federal National Mortgage Association. It was created as a
federal agency in nineteen thirty-eight.
At the time, the economic depression had greatly weakened the nation's
housing market. Banks were not lending
much money to people so they could buy houses.
Fannie Mae was designed to provide banks with federal money so they
could make home loans. Home ownership slowly increased.
nineteen sixty-eight, Congress re-established Fannie Mae as a private company
owned by shareholders. Two years later,
Congress established the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, or Freddie
companies buy home loans, or mortgages, from banks. Then they either keep them as investments or
resell them as securities to investors.
law requires that the federal government guarantee either company's financial
activities. However, their positions as government sponsored enterprises
strongly suggest such support. They also
were given permission to operate under easier rules than other financial
companies. In the past several years,
lawmakers, officials and activists have pushed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to
help more Americans buy homes. These include people with low or moderate
recently, the federal government provided no financial support to Fannie and
Freddie. However, in September, the
United States Federal Housing Finance Agency seized control of both companies
as a result of the collapse of the nation's housing market. The Treasury Department also promised to
provide billions of dollars to the companies as part of a rescue plan.
the time of the collapse, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac owned or guaranteed almost
half of all home loans in the United States.
They held almost five and one-half trillion dollars worth of guaranteed
mortgage backed securities and debt at the time. Fannie and Freddie's market share was
falling. American officials decided the
companies could no longer operate safely on their own. So the government took control of them to
protect the larger American economy.
On Wednesday, country music performers, producers and
fans will gather in Nashville, Tennessee for "country music's biggest
night." The Country Music Association
will give Country Music Awards to some of the brightest, biggest and newest
stars in the industry. Barbara Klein
plays some of the nominated music.
was "Don't Blink " by Kenny
Chesney. It is competing for Single of
the Year. Chesney has the most nominations this year. His seven nominations include Entertainer of the Year, Male
Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year.
Close behind him, with six nominations, is Jennifer Nettles, half of the
singing group Sugarland. Here the group performs "Stay." It is nominated for both Song and Single of
Alison Krauss was nominated for Female Vocalist of the
Year along with four other singers. Krauss released an album with British rock
and roller Robert Plant late last year called "Raising Sand." The Country Music
Association honored the two artists with a Musical Event of the Year nomination
for one of the album's songs. We leave
you with "Gone, Gone, Gone."
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written by Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver, who
was also our producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go
to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.