US Developing Financial Rescue Plan

Bush administration seeks quick action by Congress on measures to rescue financial companies from bad housing debts; other steps also taken. Transcript of radio broadcast: 18 September 2008

This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

The United States government is working on a plan to rescue banks from the bad debts at the center of the financial crisis. World stock markets have risen sharply Friday on the news.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke met with congressional leaders Thursday night. Secretary Paulson says the measures will require legislation to deal with the bad housing debt held by financial companies. He says work on details of the plan will continue through the weekend and Congress will be asked to take action next week.

Also, the Treasury Department has announced a temporary insurance program to protect money market mutual funds in the United States. Concerns in financial markets spread this week even to money market funds — normally considered among the safest investments.

And, in another move, the Securities and Exchange Commission has temporarily barred short selling of stocks in financial companies. Short selling is selling borrowed stock in the expectation of buying it back later at a lower price, and keeping the difference. The commission said its emergency action should prevent short selling from being used to drive down share prices. Britain took similar action on Thursday.

Also Thursday, major central banks pumped extra money into financial markets to try to persuade nervous banks to lend to each other.

Last week, the United States government took control of the nation’s two biggest housing finance companies. This week the Federal Reserve agreed to lend up to eighty-five billion dollars to the nation’s largest insurance company. In return, the government will own eighty percent of A.I.G., the American International Group, and get interest on the two-year loan.

A.I.G. got into deep trouble on insurance policies that it provided for securities tied to risky home loans. It has dealings with every major financial company in the United States and operates in more than one hundred thirty countries.

While the government took over A.I.G., it refused a bailout for a big investment bank, Lehman Brothers. That forced Lehman to seek Bankruptcy Court protection from its creditors.

The United States had five big, independent investment banks before the credit crisis began a year ago. Now two remain: Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

And that’s the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. I’m Bob Doughty.


American History Series: Monroe Doctrine Warns Europe Not to Interfere in the Americas

In 1823, President James Monroe said any attempt to extend the European political system to Latin America would threaten the U.S.Transcript of radio broadcast: 17 September 2008

Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION – American history in VOA Special English.


As we said last week, Spain asked other European countries to help it put down rebellion among Spanish colonies in Latin America. Some of these colonies had overthrown their Spanish rulers and declared themselves independent.

Britain wanted no part of the Spanish proposal. It was trading heavily with these new Latin American countries. Spanish or even French control of this area would destroy or limit this trade.

So Britain proposed a joint statement with the United States to say that neither country wanted any of Spain’s territory in the New World. Britain also wanted the United States to join in opposing the transfer of any of Spain’s American territories to any other power in Europe.

Now, Maurice Joyce and Harry Monroe continue the story.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:


Most of President James Monroe’s advisers urged him to accept the British offer. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams opposed it. He did not believe the United States should tie itself to any European power, even Britain.

Monroe accepted the advice of his secretary of state. He included Adams’ ideas in his message to Congress in December eighteen twenty-three. This part of the message became known as the Monroe Doctrine.

The president said no European power should, in the future, try to establish a colony anywhere in the Americas. He said the political system of the European powers was very different from that of the Americas. Monroe said any attempt to extend this European system to any of the Americas would threaten the peace and safety of the United States.

VOICE TWO:

The president also said the United States had not interfered with the colonies of any European power in South America and would not do so in the future.

But, said Monroe, a number of these former colonies had become independent countries. And the United States had recognized their independence. We would see it as an unfriendly act, he said, for any European power to try to oppress or control these new American countries in any way.

At the same time, Monroe said, the United States never had — and never would — take part in any war among the European powers. This statement of Monroe’s was only part of a presidential message to Congress. But it clearly stated one of the most important of America’s foreign policies.

VOICE ONE:

The nation had continued to grow during Monroe’s term as president. A number of new states were added to the union. Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, and Alabama all became states before eighteen twenty. Louisiana had become the first state to be formed from part of the Louisiana territory that the United States bought from France.

The rest of this great area was given the name of the Missouri Territory. By eighteen nineteen, there were enough people in part of the Missouri Territory for that part to become astate. It would be known as the state of Missouri. But Missouri could not become a state without the approval of Congress. And this approval was almost impossible to get.

VOICE TWO:

The problem was slavery. Slaves were not new in America. Spain had brought them to the West Indies hundreds of years before. In sixteen nineteen, a ship brought twenty African slaves to Jamestown, Virginia. These black men were sold to farmers. Over the years, the use of slaves spread to all the American colonies.

There were many more slaves in the agricultural South than in the North. The farms in the North were smaller and needed less man-power. But in the South, farms were much larger, and needed many men. Slaves were the least expensive form of labor.

Most of the northern states had passed laws before eighteen hundred freeing slaves. Even the southern states made it illegal to import more slaves from Africa. But those southerners who already owned slaves believed they were necessary, and they refused to free them.


VOICE ONE:

Slavery had been legal when France and Spain controlled the Louisiana territory. The United States did nothing to change this when it purchased the area. So slavery was permitted in the Missouri Territory at the time it asked for statehood.

A New York congressman, James Tallmadge, offered an amendment to Missouri’s request to become a state. Tallmadge proposed that no more slaves be brought into Missouri, and that the children of slaves already there be freed at the age of twenty-five. His proposal started a debate that lasted a year.

Supporters of Tallmadge argued that his proposed amendment was Constitutional. The Constitution, they said, gave Congress the right to admit new states into the union. This also meant, they said, that Congress could refuse to admit new states unless these states met conditions demanded by Congress.

VOICE TWO:

Supporters of the amendment also said small farmers of the North and East could not compete with the southern farmers and the free labor of slaves. They argued that these northern and eastern farmers had as much right to the land of Missouri as anyone else. The Louisiana territory had been paid for by the taxes of all Americans.

Those opposed to slavery also argued that slave-holding states would be given too great a voice in the government if Missouri joined them.

Under the Constitution, three of every five slaves were included in the population count to decide membership in the House of Representatives. In the past, each time a slave state was admitted to the union, a free state also had been admitted. This kept a balance in Congress.

VOICE ONE:

Southerners had an answer for each argument of those supporting the Tallmadge amendment. They agreed that Congress had the Constitutional right to admit or reject a state. But they said Congress did not have the right to make conditions for a territory to become a state.

William Pinkney of Maryland argued that states already in the union had joined without any conditions. If Congress, he declared, had the right to set conditions for new states, then these new states would not be equal to the old ones. The United States no longer would be a union of equal states.

The debate was violent on both sides. Representative Howell Cobb of Georgia told Tallmadge: “You have started a fire. All the waters of the oceans cannot put it out. Only seas of blood can do so.”

VOICE TWO:

The House of Representatives passed the Missouri bill with the Tallmadge amendment. It was rejected by the Senate. The people of Missouri would try again for statehood when the new Congress met in eighteen twenty.

By this time, another free state was ready to enter the union. Maine — with the permission of Massachusetts — asked to become a separate state. Once again, a New York congressman tried to put a condition on statehood for Missouri. He offered an amendment that Missouri should agree never to permit any kind of slavery inside its borders.

House Speaker Henry Clay said that as long as any kind of condition was put on Missouri, he could never permit Maine to become a state. Clay was not strong enough to prevent the House from approving statehood for Maine. This bill was sent to the Senate for its approval. The Senate, however, joined the Maine bill with the one for unlimited statehood for Missouri. Senators refused to separate the two.

VOICE ONE:

Finally, Senator Thomas of Illinois offered a compromise. He said Missouri should be admitted as a state permitting slavery. But he said no other state permitting slavery could be formed from the northern part of the Louisiana territory.

The compromise was accepted. And Congress approved statehood both for Missouri and Maine. But they would not become states until President Monroe signed the bills. President Monroe had to make a difficult decision. He was a slave-holder. Many of his friends urged him to veto the bills, which would limit slavery in the Louisiana territory. And electors would soon be chosen for the next presidential election. Still, a decision had to be made.

(MUSIC)

ANNOUNCER:

Our program was written by Frank Beardsley. The narrators were Maurice Joyce and Harry Monroe. To learn more about America’s fifth president, go to voaspecialenglish.com. You can download transcripts of our programs, along with MP3s and podcasts. Join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION – an American history series in VOA Special English.


Foreign Student Series: First Steps

17 September 2008

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

This week in our Foreign Student Series, we discuss the first steps for students interested in higher education in the United States.

One place to go for advice and information about American colleges and universities is an EducationUSA center. More than four hundred of these educational advising centers are located around the world.

The advisers at EducationUSA centers do not charge any money for their services. They help students find schools and get information about financial aid, admissions tests and visa requirements.

The centers are supported by the State Department. You can find the nearest one on the State Department’s Web site for international students. The address is educationusa.state.gov. Again, it’s educationusa.state.gov.

Another place to get information is at an educational fair. Representatives of American colleges and universities present information and answer questions from students and their parents.

The Institute of International Education has been organizing United States Higher Education Fairs in Asia since nineteen eighty-two. Last year, more than fourteen thousand students attended these fairs in China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam.

The next higher education fairs in Asia are in October. For example, more than seventy colleges and universities will have representatives in Hong Kong on October eleventh.

Other organizations hold similar events in other parts of the world. Information about educational fairs in your country can be found at the same Web site, educationusa.state.gov.

One important piece of advice — give yourself plenty of time to plan your studies in the United States. Educational advisers say you should begin planning at least two years before you want to start classes.

If you have a question for our series on American higher education, send it to special@voanews.com. Or use the Contact Us link at voaspecialenglish.com. Make sure to tell us who and where you are. We might answer your question on our program in the weeks ahead.

And that’s the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. Transcripts and MP3s of our Foreign Student Series, and a link to the EducationUSA Web site, are at voaspecialenglish.com. I’m Steve Ember.