• From 24th to 29th October, 1929, five days marked the beginning of the Great Depression: from the famous "Black Thursday" (24), to the "Black Tuesday " (29)
    It was only in 1954 that the September 1929 peak, which preceded the crisis, was equalled.
    Since 1926, it had been allowed for investors at NYSE ("New York Stock-Exchange") to BUY SHARES 
      on a 90% credit; in 1929, interest rates became superior to earnings. So on October 24th, 1929, there were no buyers. The famous Wall Street crash had begun.
    In 3 weeks, the losses amounted to $ 30 billions. Millions of Americans lost their jobs, money, and status. In 1931, all western economies were in crisis. WW2 interrupted the depressionary trend.
    It was feared the October 2008 crisis might reduplicate the Great Depression.


    Vocab.: buy shares : acheter des actions en bourse; interest rates : taux d'intérêt ; earnings : les gains ; loss : perte ; depressionary trend : tendance à la dépression ; reduplicate : redoubler, répliquer ; the Great Depression : la Grande Crise de 29 .



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  • About 700,000 Cajuns live in South Louisiana, originally from Acadia (a French Canadian province). The word originates in the attempted pronunciation of "Acadian" by U.S. speakers.

    In 1604 -- sixteen years before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock – families from Western France settled in  Acadia, now Nova Scotia, Canada. An estimated 18,000 French-speaking Catholic inhabitants from Brittany, Saintonge, Poitou, Normandy, established a thriving, self-sufficient community. Later, the British won the colony from France in 1713, but for refusing to pledge allegiance to the British crown, which required renouncing their traditional Catholic religion for that of the Anglican Church, they were forced from their homes in 1755. This cruel and tragic event is known as Le Grand Dérangement (“The Great Upheaval”), and led families either to go to sea under dreadful conditions, (more than half lost their lives) or try their luck in other areas of Louisiana. Those who sailed away landed in Nantes, the greatest French port at the time.

    Who are the Cajuns ?

    This mural is seen in one of the old streets above the harbour in Nantes, it represents the Acadians preparing to depart from Nantes and sail back to America (they will eventually settle  in St Martinville, La)


    In 1784, the King of Spain allowed the rest of the Cajuns to settle in South Louisiana.  They received a hostile greeting from the French aristocracy of New Orleans, so they headed west of the city into a waste territory. They settled along the bayous where they could live according to their own beliefs and customs.

    Today, they are famous for their unique French dialect (a patois of 18th-century French), their music, their spicy cooking, and their folk customs (“joie de vivre, jambalaya, Courir du Mardi Gras, fais-do-do, boudin, andouille, etc.).


    Source : http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~jmeaux/cajun.html



    Now, let them talk !, and pay attention to the accent

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  • (Based on:) http://www.historyaccess.com/juliusandethelro.html


    In 1951, the Rosenbergs were found guilty in a federal courtroom of conspiring to commit espionage. Judge Irving R. Kaufman sentenced them to die, saying they had stolen America’s most precious military secret, the atomic bomb, and given it to the Soviet Union. The Rosenbergs maintained their innocence. Many people in America believed that the couple had been framed by a government caught up in the Red Scare of 1949-54. Both eventually became "the most internationally celebrated martyrs since Captain Dreyfus." (Ted Morgan)


    Julius Rosenberg, born 1918, the son of Polish immigrants, grew up poor on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a studious boy interested in rabbinical studies. His left wing ardor grew in 1934 when he enrolled at City College of New York, then a hotbed of American radicalism, in the depths of the Great Depression. Young Trotskyists and Stalinists sometimes engaged in passionate debates about humanity's future in lunchroom alcoves. Many students felt that Marxism offered solutions to humanity; Julius became active in the Young Communist League.


    He met Ethel Greenglass on New Year’s Eve, 1935, at a union fundraiser in New York City. Born on September 25, 1915, she, too, was a product of the Lower East Side tenements, a bright young woman (she graduated from high school at age 15) who had been stagestruck as a girl and aspired to become a performer. In the middle 1930s, she lost her job as a clerk for a shipping company, apparently because of her activism.


    Ethel and Julius married in the spring of 1939 after Julius graduated from CCNY with a degree in electrical engineering. He got a job in Brooklyn with the U.S. Army Signal Corps. They had two children, Michael (born in 1943) and Robert (1947).

    According to many scholars and observers, a convincing version of events is offered by historians Ronald Radosh and Joyce Milton in their 1983 book "The Rosenberg File." In 1943, Aleksandr Feklisov, a KGB officer at the Russian Consulate in New York, was given the name of Julius Rosenberg as a potential recruit for his group of secret agents. Feklisov met Rosenberg, who agreed to spy for the Soviets and said he would seek out others who would also engage in espionage. Julius stole technical secrets and handed them over to Feklisov, including a proximity fuse, used in anti-aircraft weaponry.

    Meanwhile, Ethel’s brother, David Greenglass, had gotten a job as a machinist in the Manhattan Project, America’s massive effort to build an atomic bomb. Julius recruited David into the spy network, obtained from him data about the inner workings of the bomb, and passed this to the Soviets. After the war Julius continued spying for the Soviet Union, turning over military and industrial information. Ethel knew of his work but her participation in it was minimal. 

    Federal agents discovered the Rosenbergs via a circuitous route. Another spy for the Soviets, a top scientist named Klaus Fuchs, was arrested in Great Britain in January, 1950, and quickly signed a confession ,leading  investigators to Harry Gold, a longtime Soviet spy in the United States who had collaborated with David Greenglass. Gold named Greenglass to the FBI; Greenglass fingered the Rosenbergs and agreed to testify against them.

    Who were the Rosenbergs ?


    At Sing Sing Prison in New York, on June 19, 1953, at 8 p.m., Julius Rosenberg died on the electric chair. A few minutes later, Ethel his wife died in the same conditions.It is said that a few Rosenberg supporters were astounded that the government would execute two innocent peole. Meanwhile, many Americans were relieved to hear of the deaths.

    But did Julius Rosenberg steal the "atomic secret"? Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were guilty of "putting into the hands of the Russians the A-bomb years before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb", which led to "the Communist aggression in Korea, with the resultant casualties exceeding 50,000." This was not accurate. Several spies did much more damage to Western interests than the Rosenbergs. For example, material stolen by Klaus Fuchs was far more important. There's no question that Julius Rosenberg committed a serious crime, but they were sentenced to die in the hope that they would identify collaborators in exchange for life imprisonment. David Greenglass said in 2001 that he lied on the witness stand about her involvement. 

    Note that the French historian Alain Decaux wrote a play about the couple (Les Rosenbergs ne veulent pas mourir)

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    Needing rapid communication, the companies built telegraph lines along the railroad. The linkage made these lines easier to protect and maintain than the original First Transcontinental Telegraph lines.

    In addition to track laying (which typically employed approximately 25% of the labor force), the operation also required the efforts of hundreds of tunnelers, explosive experts, bridge builders, blacksmiths, carpenters, engineers, masons, surveyors,  teamsters, telegraphers, and even cooks, to name just a few of the trades involved in construction of the railroad. The Union Pacific laid 1,087 miles (1,749 km) of track, The Central Pacific laid 690 miles (1,100 km) of track. (Vocab.: bridge builders : employés aux ponts ; carpenters : menuisiers ; explosive experts  : spécialistes d’explosifs ; involved in : impliqués dans … ; track laying : pose des rails ; teamster : routier ; tunnelers : employés aux tunnels)

    Asa Whitney, first, Theodore Judah, later, did their utmost to have the railroad built. The Pony Express from 1860 to 1861 was to prove that the Central Nevada Route across Nevada and Utah and the sections of the Oregon Trail across Wyoming and Nebraska was viable during the winter. With the American Civil War raging, the apparent need for the railroad became more urgent. (Vocab.: did their utmost to : firent de leur mieux pour …)

    Six years after the groundbreaking, laborers of the Central Pacific Railroad from the west and the Union Pacific Railroad from the east met at Promontory Summit, Utah. It was here on May 10, 1869 that Stanford drove the The Last Spike -- or golden spike, now on display at Stanford University -- that joined the rails of the transcontinental railroad. Travel from coast to coast was reduced from six months or more to just one week.

    Visible remains of the historic line are still in service today, especially through the Sierra Nevada Mountains and canyons in Utah and Wyoming. (Vocab.: golden spike : pointe d’or ; groundbreaking : la première percée ; on display : exposé(-e) à …; Visible remains : les vestiges / témoignages visibles)

    U.S. First Transcontinental railroad (2)

    Salt Lake City : Inside view of the Gateway.

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  • The First Transcontinental Railroad (known originally as the "Pacific Railroad" and later as the "Overland Route") was a railroad line built between 1863 and 1869 that connected Iowa with the Pacific Ocean at Alameda, California, opposite San Francisco. The road thus connected the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States by rail for the first time. The construction and operation of the line was authorized by the Pacific Railroad Acts of 1862 and 1864, during the American Civil War. The Congress supported it with 30-year U.S. government bonds and extensive land grants of government-owned land. Opened for through traffic on May 10, 1869, with the driving of the "Last Spike" at Promontory Summit, Utah, the road established a mechanized transcontinental transportation network that revolutionized the population and economy of the American West. (Vocab.: government bonds : emprunts d’état ; land grants : concessions de terrain ; network : réseau ; railroad line: ligne de chemin de fer)

    The transcontinental railroad served as a vital link for trade, commerce and travel that joined the eastern and western halves of the late 19th-century U.S.A. The transcontinental railroad slowly ended most of the stagecoach lines and wagon trains that had preceded it. They provided much faster, safer and cheaper (8 days and about $65 economy) transport east and west for people and goods across half a continent. (Vocab.: goods : marchandises ; halves : moitiés; stagecoach lines :  lignes desservies par diligence )

    The main workers on the Union Pacific were many Army veterans and Irish immigrants. Most of the engineers and supervisors were Army veterans who had learned their trade keeping the trains running during the American Civil War. The Central Pacific, facing a labor shortage in the West, relied on Chinese immigrant laborers (the “Celestials”). (Vocab.: Army veterans : anciens combattants; labor shortage : pénurie de main d’oeuvre ; trade : métier;

    Completion of the railroad substantially accelerated populating the West, while contributing to the decline of territory controlled by the Native Americans in these regions. The Native Americans saw the addition of the railroad as a violation of their treaties with the United States. War parties began to raid the moving labor camps that followed the progress of the line. Union Pacific responded by increasing security and hiring marksmen to kill American bison, which were both a physical threat to trains and the primary food source for many of the Plains Indians. The Native Americans then began killing laborers when they realized that the so-called "Iron Horse" threatened their existence. (Vocab.: Completion : achèvement; hiring marksmen : engager des tireurs d’élite ; labor camps : chantiers ; a threat to : menaces pour … ; War parties : groupes de guerilla)

    U.S. First Transcontinental railroad (1)

    Salt Lake City : The Gateway (Station)

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