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Past and future come together in Washington
[ 2007-01-08 09:24 ]

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

American history was made, and remembered, this week in Washington.

On Thursday, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California became the first female speaker of the House of Representatives. The new Congress opened with Democrats in the majority in both houses for the first time in twelve years.

New members in the House include the first Muslim member of Congress. Keith Ellison of Minnesota placed his left hand on a Koran during a ceremonial swearing-in. He used a Koran once owned by Thomas Jefferson, America's third president.

But before the one hundred tenth Congress opened, Americans looked back at an earlier chapter in their history.

Funeral services and a national day of mourning took place this week for Gerald Ford. America's 38th president died on December 26th at his home in California. Mister Ford, a Republican, was 93 years old.

He was remembered as a likeable man who brought calm and healing to a nation torn by the political dirty tricks known as Watergate. But for many, that time in the early 1970s also represents the end of a period of high public trust in government.

Gerald Ford became the only American ever to serve as president and vice president without election to either office. That was after he served in Congress for more than 20 years.

President Richard Nixon asked him to replace vice president Spiro Agnew. Agnew had resigned over accusations of financial corruption.

But less than a year later, in August of 1974, Nixon resigned because of Watergate. Had he not, Congress might have removed him from office.

The Watergate scandal is the name given to illegal activities by President Nixon's 1972 re-election committee. The name comes from a group of buildings in Washington, the Watergate complex. A failed break-in at the Democratic National Committee offices there led to the discovery of the illegal activities.

The discovery came from an investigation by two young reporters at the Washington Post -- Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

President Nixon ordered his aides to hide evidence of the wrongdoing. A White House recording proved it. Soon after the tapes became public, he resigned.

Then, a month after Gerald Ford became president, he pardoned Richard Nixon for all offenses he may have committed. Mr. Ford often said the pardon was a necessary step to unite the country. To this day, there is debate about whether he acted correctly. It meant Richard Nixon never had to face trial.

About 40 people were charged with Watergate-related crimes.

Gerald Ford's decision may have cost him the 1976 election. He lost to Jimmy Carter in a close race. Mr. Ford's presidency lasted just 29 months.

The former president was buried Wednesday at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Mario Ritter.


swear-in 
:  宣誓就职

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(来源:VOA  英语点津姗姗编辑)

 
 
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