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The Origin of the American Flag

The Flag is only a few months older than the Declaration of Independence. The flag was designed by a special committee headed by George Washington himself. The colors chosen were red for courage, white for liberty, and blue for loyalty.

On June 14, 1777, a year after the proclamation of the Declaration of Independence, Congress adopted a resolution stating that the flag should contain 13 horizontal stripes (seven red and six white) to symbolize the thirteen independent States and 13 white stars arranged in a circle to symbolize the unity and equality of these states. Although this design has been changed many times, June 14 is celebrated by many Americans as Flag Day, a patriotic holiday.

Today, the flag still contains 13 horizontal stripes in honor of the original thirteen states. But now there are 50 stars (one for each state)

arranged in nine rows (six stars in one row alternating with five in the next). Because of its design, the American Flag has been nicknamed the Stars and Stripes.

Who isUncle Sam?


Uncle Sam is a fictional character who stands for the government or the people of the United States. The name derives from the expansion of "USA", the initials of the United States. Uncle Sam, like John Bull for the British, or Marianne for the French, is the human embodiment of the US. Uncle Sam is over 160 years old. There are several stories of his birth. His spirit "goes marching on" in hundreds of different interpretations. He has become part of the American culture, especially as recreated and reinterpreted by political cartoonists.


Translate the following text into Russian:

U.S. Electoral System "Worse Than Haiti"

New York Times — November 15, 2000


From Partisan Ranks, Electoral Referees By KEVIN SACK


MIAMI,Nov. 14 — As a former official with the Atlania-based Carter Center, Robert A. Pastor has monitored plenty of elections, mostly in developing countries where democracy is taking its first steps. But Mr. Pastor said he had never seen anything like what unfolded this week right here at home, where both Democratic and Republican partisans in Florida have used their elected positions to influence the counting of presidential ballots.

In most developing countries, Mr. Pastor said, officials quickly conclude that it is vital to separate the counting of votes from any suspicion of partisanship, and they do so by placing a respected jurist or nonpartisan commission over the process.

"The United States is at the most primitive level," said Mr. Pastor, now a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, "i mean, it's below

Nicaragua and Haiti in the sense that it doesn't have a national election commission and that the composition of the Federal Election Commission is made up solely of members of the parties."

Mr. Pastor said there were often questions in developing countries about whether ostensibly independent election officials were taking sides. "But I can't think of a situation in a developing country like this one, where the senior election officials have come out and declared themselves aspartisan," he said. '

If it is not quite a dirty little secret, it is at least a rarely considered component of American politics: from local canvassing boards, likethose in Palm Beach County, to the Federal Election Commission, people with a partisan stake can play a significant role in determining winners and losers.

Most elections, of course, are not close enough to trigger recounts orraise questions about defective ballots. And when they are, it is hard toknow for sure whether officials are acting out of partisanship or an earnest understanding of the law.

But after close contests, charges of partisanship are often hard to avoid, and perception can become reality. Those charges can become magnified in situations like the Florida standoff because a decentralized election system allows states, and even counties, to follow their own laws and regulations.

That has been the case in Florida, where cries of partisanship arose on Monday after Katherine Harris, the secretary of state and the co-chairwoman of Gov. George Bush's presidential campaign in Florida, used her powers to help Mr. Bush. A longtime Republican loyalist, Ms. Harris declared that the state's presidential vote would be certified at5 p.m. Tuesday, potentially suspending the recounts that could throw the election to Vice President Al Gore.

A state court decision handed down today heightened the Democratic pressure on the Republican official, because Ms. Harris now has thediscretion to accept or reject hand-tallied recounts from several counties later this week.

Florida's attorney general, Robert A. Butterworth, an ambitious Democrat and the chairman of Mr. Gore's campaign in Florida, is battling Ms. Harris. As soon as Ms. Harris instructed Palm Beach

County officials today to suspend their recount, Mr. Butterworth issued an advisory opinion contrary to hers. Partisanship has also been perceived in Sunday's 2-to-l vote by the Palm Beach County canvassing board to conduct a full manual recount. The board's two Democrats voted in favor of a recount while a third member- a judge appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, a Republican and

George W. Bush's brother - voted to oppose it.

But one Democrat on that board joined the judge this morning in voting to delay the recount, and a Democrat joined a Republican in Monday's 2-to-l vote by the Broward County canvassing board against a full manual recount.

In Florida, the canvassing boards, which manage recounts and certify results, are composed of a county judge, the county elections supervisor and the chairman of the county commission. All are elected.

Those officials report results to the secretary of state, who is also elected, as are the secretaries of state in about 40 states. Those positions are often seen as steppingstones to higher office. Paradoxically, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment two years ago that will

make the job an appointed post in 2002.

On the national level, the Federal Election Commission, which monitors campaign fund-raising and spending, must be divided between Democrats and Republicans, with the president nominating appointees who are confirmed by the Senate.

Several academic authorities and public officials interviewed today said that the chaos in Florida suggested that election officials, including secretaries of state, should be appointed rather than elected. "They probably should not be partisan jobs," said Raymond E. Wolfmger, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. But, Mr. Wolfmger added, Americans like the accountability elections provide and may resist giving up control.

Several authorities proposed that a standing federal commission be created to set uniform standards for voting practices and to monitor results. Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana who was a secretary of state, recalled that Indiana created a bipartisan commission to conduct recounts after a tumultuous 1984 election in one Congressional district.

In that race, the Democratic candidate Frank McCloskey, won the initial count by 72 votes only to lose his lead in a recount certified by a Republican secretary of state. The House of Representatives, with a Democratic majority, ultimately overturned that result and sat Mr. McCloskey.

Two years later, Mr. Bayh said, the commission worked well in overseeing recounts in both congressional and legislative races. "You can structure a process that attempts to minimize the amount of partisanship involved," said Mr. Bayh, "but ultimately you have to rely on the integrity and judgment of the people involved. You just can't get around it."

Former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York, a former secretary of state, said he saw little need for reform because the courts provide the ultimate recourse. "What would you trust any more than the political system?" Mr. Cuomo asked. "As long as you can get to a court, you don't have a problem."

But judges, of course, can also wield bias, as any judge-shopping lawyer can attest. Over the last two days in Palm Beach County, five judges recused themselves from hearing arguments in a lawsuit involving the election because of potential conflicts of interest.




Act as an interpreter:

Язнаю, что вы хорошо знакомы с деятельностью федерального правительства США. Не могли бы вы помочь мне разобраться в некоторых вопросах?

• Please, feel free to ask whatever questions you are not clear about.

• Кого у вас в стране называют "конгрессменом"? Я пришел квыводу, читая прессу США, что не каждого члена конгресса называют конгрессменом.

• Your observation is quite astute in a way. Actually a Congressman is a Member of either the Senate or the House of Representatives. However, a Member of the Senate is usually referred to as a Senator and a Member of the House as a Congressman. The official title of a Member of the House is "Representative in Congress".

•Я слышал, как, характеризуя некоторых сенаторов, их называют "старейшинами". Это относится к их возрасту?

· Oh no, it doesn't. The word "senior" or ''junior" as applied to Senators refers to their service, and not to their ages. A "senior Senator" may be much younger in years than a "junior Senator". A

Senator must have served continuously to be entitled to the senior rank, which also carries a little more prestige with the Senate body and the administration.

· Скажите, пожалуйста, а как вносятся поправки в конституцию?

· Amendments may be proposed on the initiative of Congress (by a two-thirds vote in each House) or by convention (on application of two-thirds of the State legislature). Ratification may, at the discretion

of Congress, be either by legislatures or by conventions in three fourths of the States.

· Сколько было поправок к конституции и когда была принята последняя?

· There are 27 amendments at present. One of the most recent amendments, the 26th, was ratified on July 1,1973. It is the only one to have been ratified by State conventions. It lowered the voting age

to 18 for federal, state and local elections.

· А что произошло с поправкой, предоставляющей женщинам равные права с мужчинами?

· То my deep personal regret, this ERA — equal rights amendment — failed to get ratification from the required 38 state legislatures. Though it did get pretty close to that mark! But I know that its

supporters are still committed to it and are getting ready to start their fight all over again.

· Слово "лоббисты" часто употребляется в нашей прессе при описании закулисных махинаций в законодательных органах США. Ну, а в чём конкретно заключается их деятельность?

· In the broadest sense, lobbying is any activity which has as its ultimate aim to influence the decisions of Congress, state and local legislatures, or executive agencies. The term arose from the use of lobbies, or corridors, in legislative halls as places to meet with and persuade legislators to vote a certain way. Lobbying in general is not an evil; many lobbies provide legislatures with reliable information of considerable value. But some lobbies have given the practice an undesirable connotation.


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