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        #224: The Reagan Years

        作者:Steve Ember 發布日期:9-23-2013

        President Ronald Reagan, right, and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on June 1, 1988, before a fourth day of talks in Moscow
        President Ronald Reagan, right, and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on June 1, 1988, before a fourth day of talks in Moscow

        STEVE EMBER: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION - American history in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

        This week in our series, we continue the story of the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

        (MUSIC)

        Soon after his presidency began, there was an attempt on his life. A gunman shot President Reagan in March nineteen eighty-one. Doctors removed the bullet. He rested, regained his strength and returned to the White House in twelve days.

        President Reagan during a news conference at the White House on March 19, 1987
        President Reagan during a news conference at the White House on March 19, 1987

        The new president wanted to reduce the size of the federal government. He and other conservative Republicans wanted less government interference in the lives of Americans.

        President Reagan won congressional approval for his plan to reduce income tax rates. Many Americans welcomed the plan. Others were concerned about its effects on the national debt. They saw taxes go down while defense spending went up.

        To save money, the Reagan administration decided to cut spending for some social programs. This pleased conservatives. Liberals, however, said it limited poor peoples' chances for good housing, health care, and education.

        (MUSIC)

        President Reagan also had to make decisions about using military force in other countries. In nineteen eighty-three, he sent Marines to Lebanon. They joined other peacekeeping troops to help stop fighting among competing groups. On October twenty-third, a truck carrying explosives bombed Marine housing at Beirut International Airport.

        RONALD REAGAN: "There was nothing in its appearance to suggest it was any different than the trucks or cars that were normally seen on and around the airport. But this one was different. At the wheel was a young man on a suicide mission.

        "The truck carried some two thousand pounds of explosives, but there was no way our Marine guards could know this. Their first warning that something was wrong came when the truck crashed through a series of barriers. The guards opened fire, but it was too late. The truck smashed through the doors of the headquarters building in which our marines were sleeping and instantly exploded."

        Two hundred forty-one Americans were killed.

        (MUSIC)

        Two days later, Marines led an invasion of the Caribbean island nation of Grenada. Communist forces were rebelling against the government there. Cuban soldiers were guarding the streets. President Reagan said he feared for the safety of American students at a medical school in Grenada. He sent the Marines to get them out safely.

        The Marines quickly defeated the communist forces. Many Americans were pleased. Others were angry. They said Grenada was invaded only to make people forget about what happened in Lebanon.

        (MUSIC)

        President Reagan speaks to Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in London on June 7, 1984
        President Reagan speaks to Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in London on June 7, 1984
        The next year, nineteen eighty-four, was a presidential election year. It looked like no one could stop President Reagan. His warm way with people had made him hugely popular. He gained support with the military victory in Grenada. And, by the time the campaign started, inflation was under control. The Republican Party renominated Ronald Reagan for president and George Bush for vice president.

        There were several candidates for the Democratic Party's nomination. One was the first African-American to seek the presidency, Jesse Jackson. He was a Protestant clergyman and a longtime human rights activist.

        The candidate who finally won the nomination was Walter Mondale. He had been a senator and had served as vice president under President Jimmy Carter. The vice presidential candidate was Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro. It was the first time a major party in the United States had nominated a woman for national office.

        Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale and his running mate Geraldine Ferraro on July 19, 1984, at the end of the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco
        Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale and his running mate Geraldine Ferraro on July 19, 1984, at the end of the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco
        GERALDINE FERRARO: "Tonight, the daughter of working Americans tells all Americans that the future is within our reach if we're willing to reach for it. [Applause]"

        One issue in the election campaign was taxes. Political candidates often try to avoid talking about taxes with voters. But former Vice President Mondale did talk about the issue. He said taxes would have to be raised to pay for new government programs.

        WALTER MONDALE: "The American people will have to pay Mr. Reagan's bills. The budget will be squeezed. Taxes will go up. And anyone who says they won't is not telling the truth to the American people."

        This was a serious political mistake. President Reagan gained even more support as a result.

        The two candidates agreed to debate on television. During one debate, President Reagan looked old and tired. He did not seem sure of his answers. Yet his popularity was not damaged. On Election Day, he won fifty-nine percent of the popular vote.

        On Inauguration Day, the weather was bitterly cold in Washington. All inaugural activities, including the swearing-in ceremony, were held inside.

        President Reagan's first term began with an attempt on his life. Six months after his second term began, he faced another threat. Doctors discovered and removed a large growth from his colon. The growth was cancerous. The president was seventy-four years old. Yet, once again, he quickly regained his strength and returned to work.

        (MUSIC)

        For years, the United States had accused Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi of supporting international terrorist groups. It said he provided them with weapons and a safe place for their headquarters.

        In January nineteen eighty-six, the United States announced economic actions against Libya. Then it began military training exercises near the Libyan coast. Libya said the Americans were violating its territory and fired missiles at them. The Americans fired back, sinking two ships.

        On April fifth, a bomb destroyed a dance club in West Berlin. An American soldier and another person were killed. The United States said Libya was responsible. President Reagan ordered a bombing raid on the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Benghazi. Muammar Gadhafi escaped unharmed but said his adopted daughter was killed.

        Some Americans said the raid was cruel. Others praised it. President Reagan said the United States did what it had to do.

        (MUSIC)

        The president also wanted to intervene in Nicaragua. About fifteen thousand rebel troops, called contras, were fighting the country's communist government. President Reagan asked for military aid for the contras. Congress rejected the request. In fact, it banned all aid to the contras.

        At that same time, Muslim extremists in Lebanon seized several Americans. The Reagan administration looked for ways to gain the release of the hostages. It decided to sell missiles and missile parts to Iran in exchange for Iran's help. After the sale, Iran told the extremists in Lebanon to release a few American hostages.

        Not long after, serious charges became public. Reports said that money from the sale of arms to Iran was used to aid the contra rebels in Nicaragua. Several members of the Reagan administration resigned. It appeared that some had violated the law.

        President Reagan said he regretted what had happened. But he said he had not known about it. Investigations and court trials of those involved continued into the nineteen nineties. Several people were found guilty of illegal activities or of lying to Congress. No one went to jail.

        Most Americans did not blame the president for the actions of others in his administration. They still supported him and his policies. They especially supported his efforts to deal with the Soviet Union.

        (MUSIC)

        At the beginning of his first term, President Reagan called the Soviet Union an "evil empire." To protect the United States against the Soviets, he increased military spending to the highest level in American history. Then, in nineteen eighty-five, Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union.

        Reagan and Gorbachev held four summit meetings, in Geneva, Switzerland; Reykjavic, Iceland; Washington and Moscow. Each leader agreed to destroy hundreds of nuclear missiles. President Reagan also urged General Secretary Gorbachev to become more democratic. He spoke about the Berlin Wall, which communists had built to prevent citizens from crossing between East and West Berlin.

        RONALD REAGAN: "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. [Cheering] Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." [Cheering]"

        About this time, a new sense of glasnost, or openness, was beginning in the Soviet Union. It was also a time of perestroika, or restructuring.

        (MUSIC)

        The American economy grew rapidly during Ronald Reagan's presidency. Yet, at the end of his presidency, many Americans were concerned by what he left behind. Increased military spending, together with tax cuts, had made the national debt huge. The United States owed thousands of millions of dollars. The debt would be a political issue for presidents to come.

        Yet, Ronald Reagan will be remembered as one of America's most popular presidents. Above his burial place at the Reagan Library in California are these words, which speak to Reagan's belief in humanity: "I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph, and there is purpose and worth to each and every life."

        (MUSIC)

        Next week in our series, we'll look at life in the United States in the nineteen seventies and eighties.

        You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and pictures at www.squishedblueberries.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember, inviting you to join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

        ___

        Contributing: Jerilyn Watson

        This was program #224. For earlier programs, type "Making of a Nation" in quotation marks in the search box at the top of the page.

        里根1981年1月就任總統,3月份就遭到暗殺。所幸醫生取出了里根身上的子彈,里根總統身體迅速康復,短短12天后就回到了白宮。

        里根希望縮小聯邦政府規模。他和共和黨的其它保守派希望政府能少插手美國民眾的生活。里根提出的降低收入所得稅稅率的計劃得到了國會批準。這項計劃受到了很多美國人的歡迎,但是另外一些人則擔心這樣做會增加國家債務,因為有目共睹,稅率下降的同時,美國的國防開支卻在上升。

        為了節省開支,里根政府決定減少在一些社會保障項目方面的開支,這樣做合了保守派的意。但是自由派卻提出:減少社會保障會限制窮人在住房、保健和受教育等方面的機會。

        里根任期內還數次下令出軍海外。1983年,里根派遣美國海軍陸戰隊前往黎巴嫩,跟其他維和部隊一起,制止黎巴嫩交戰各方的沖突。10月23號,一輛裝滿炸藥的卡車在貝魯特國際機場附近的美國海軍陸戰隊營地爆炸。里根總統說:"從外表看,這輛卡車跟機場附近常見的卡車沒什么兩樣,但是這輛卡車不同尋常,駕駛艙里坐著的年輕人,身負自殺爆炸的使命??ㄜ嚿涎b著大約兩千磅的炸藥,但是我們的海軍陸戰隊員不可能知道,直到卡車沖破幾道路障,他們才覺得不對勁,這時候開槍,但是已經太晚了??ㄜ嚊_破海軍陸戰隊員們睡覺的主樓大門后爆炸。"這次襲擊造成241個美國人喪生。

        兩天過后,美國海軍陸戰隊又對加勒比海島國格林納達發動進攻。當時,那里的共產武裝跟政府對抗,古巴士兵在街道上巡邏。里根總統說,他為格林納達一個醫學院里美國學生的安全感到擔心,因此派海軍陸戰隊去把他們解救出來。

        美國海軍陸戰隊迅速擊敗了共產武裝,很多人為此歡欣鼓舞,但是另外一些人卻感到憤怒,他們指責說,里根政府進攻格林納達,目的就是為了讓大家盡快忘記黎巴嫩發生的事情。

        1984年是美國大選年。這次總統大選,似乎沒有誰能挑戰里根。里根總統德高望重,在格林納達的軍事勝利更增加了他的威望。與此同時,通貨膨脹也得到了控制。共和黨提名里根和布什參選連任。

        民主黨參選總統提名的包括非洲裔美國人杰西.杰克遜,他是新教牧師,長期積極推動人權。最后,民主黨提名沃爾特.蒙代爾為總統候選人。蒙代爾曾任國會參議員,是卡特任期內的美國副總統。蒙代爾的競選搭檔是聯邦女眾議員杰拉爾丁.費拉羅。費拉羅是美國歷史上第一個獲得總統副總統提名的女性。

        費拉羅說:"今天晚上,美國勞動階層的女兒告訴所有美國人,只要努力,未來就觸手可及。"

        1984年大選的議題之一是稅率。政治參選人往往回避跟選民討論納稅的問題,但是前副總統蒙代爾并非如此。他表示,只有提高稅收,政府才有錢用于新項目。他說:"美國人民要為里根買單。政府預算會緊縮,稅收要提高。如果有誰不這么說,那他就沒跟美國人民講實話。"

        這是蒙代爾犯下的嚴重錯誤,反而讓里根得到了更多的支持。蒙代爾和里根同意參加電視辯論。在其中一次辯論中,里根顯得衰老疲憊,對自己的回答模棱兩可,但這并沒有讓里根的民眾支持率受到影響,里根最終在選舉中得到了59%的選票。

        宣誓就職那天,華盛頓嚴寒刺骨,一切跟宣誓就職相關的活動,都改在室內舉行。里根第一個總統任期兩個月時,曾遭到暗殺。里根第二個總統任期開始半年后,又接受了一個結腸癌手術,里根當時雖然已是74歲高齡,但還是迅速康復,返回白宮。

        多年來,美國一直指責利比亞領導人卡扎菲支持國際恐怖集團,向他們提供武器和從事恐怖活動的指揮中心。1986年1月,美國宣布對利比亞采取經濟行動,隨后開始在利比亞沿海一帶舉行軍事演習。利比亞說,美國侵犯了自己的領土主權,對參加演習的美軍發射導彈。美國反擊,擊沉兩艘戰艦。

        4月5號,西柏林一個舞廳受到炸彈襲擊,打死了一個美軍士兵和另外一個人。美國方面說,這次襲擊是利比亞干的,里根總統下令空襲利比亞城市的黎波里和班加西??ㄔ泼l未傷,但聲稱自己的養女在空襲中遇害。一些美國人認為,這些空襲是殘酷的,另外一些人則對空襲行動表示支持。里根總統說,美國這樣做是迫不得已。

        里根總統還想出兵干預尼加拉瓜。當時,大約一萬五千人的反政府武裝跟尼加拉瓜共產政權戰斗,里根主張武力支援反政府武裝,遭到國會拒絕,國會宣布,禁止向尼加拉瓜反政府武裝提供任何形式的援助。

        與此同時,黎巴嫩的穆斯林極端分子扣押了一些美國公民。里根政府設法營救人質,決定向伊朗出售導彈和導彈部件,換取伊朗的支持。交易完成后,伊朗讓黎巴嫩的極端分子釋放了幾個美國人質。

        此后不久,有報導對美國政府提出嚴重指控,說向伊朗出售導彈的收入被用來支持尼加拉瓜的反叛武裝了。為此,里根政府好幾位官員辭職,政府里似乎確實有人在這件事上違反了法律。

        里根總統表示,對發生此事深感遺憾,但自己并不知情。圍繞此事展開的調查和審理一直持續到1990年代,一些人被判定從事非法行為,或是向國會撒謊,但是沒有任何人為此入獄服刑。

        大多數美國人并沒有因為某些政府官員的所作所為而怪罪里根。他們一如既往地支持里根,支持里根的政策,特別是在對待蘇聯的問題上。

        第一個任期之初,里根曾稱蘇聯是"邪惡帝國"。為了保護美國安全,里根將軍費開支增加到了史無前例的高度。1985年,戈爾巴喬夫上臺。里根和戈爾巴喬夫在瑞士的日內瓦,冰島的雷克雅未克,華盛頓和莫斯科先后舉行了四次峰會,雙方同意銷毀數以百計的導彈,里根還敦促戈爾巴喬夫推動民主,里根談到當年共產力量興建的,將柏林分為東西兩部分的柏林墻時說:"戈爾巴喬夫總書記,如果你要為蘇聯和東歐尋求和平,尋求繁榮,如果你尋求自由,就到這座大門前面來,戈爾巴喬夫先生,打開大門,戈爾巴喬夫先生,推倒這堵墻。"大約就是這段時間,開放和重建之風開始席卷蘇聯。

        里根任期內,美國經濟飛速發展。然而,里根期滿卸任時,因為軍費開支增長,稅收減少,所以國債膨脹,讓很多民眾感到擔心。里根留下的大筆國債,成了他的繼任者們必須面對的政治問題。

        里根是美國歷史上最受歡迎的總統之一,美國加州里根圖書館安葬里根的墓碑上寫著:"我從內心深處相信,人類都是善良的。正義終將戰勝邪惡。每一個生命都有其存在的意義和價值"。

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