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CNN Student News Transcript: September 9, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Hear President Obama's back-to-school message for U.S. students
  • Examine the impact of heavy rains on several West African nations
  • Connect to what's happening on Capitol Hill in Congress' new session
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(CNN Student News) -- September 9, 2009

Quick Guide

Education Address - Hear President Obama's back-to-school message for U.S. students.

Severe Flooding - Examine the impact of heavy rains on several West African nations.

Back in Session - Connect to what's happening on Capitol Hill in Congress' new session.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Hi. I'm Carl Azuz, this is CNN Student News, you are watching on this Wednesday, September 9th, and we are glad you're with us. Let's get to it.

First Up: Education Address

AZUZ: First up, we're talking about what President Obama said yesterday in a speech made directly to you. Work hard and stay in school: Those were the main points of the president's back-to-school address, which he made at a high school in Arlington, Virginia. It was available for classrooms around the country, but viewing it wasn't mandatory. Some schools and teachers chose to show the speech; others didn't.

As we reported Tuesday, there was some controversy leading up to this address. Some people suggested that it might be a disruption during the school day. Others were concerned about the president talking about political issues to public school students. He didn't really discuss those. Instead, he focused on the importance of education, and your responsibility in getting the most out of it.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world, and none of it will make a difference - none of it will matter - unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; unless you pay attention to those teachers; unless you listen to your parents and grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.


AZUZ: On our blog and on Facebook, you guys had a lot to say about this. Jacob notes, "The president's just encouraging us to stay in school and do our work. As long as he doesn't mention anything about health care reform or any other politics, that's okay with me." Sierra on Facebook says, "There are definitely policies I don't agree with, but I'll never know unless I listen to what the president has to say." Neerav writes, "I don't get what all the fuss is about. Don't our teachers tell us to study hard and achieve something great? The only difference now is that it's the president." But back on the blog, Alex says, "President Obama's speech seems more like a call for students that are 18 by the next election to vote for him." From McKenzie: "Obama is not my favorite president, but I will watch the speech simply because he is the president." And Leigh-Ann wrote: "It seems like this is just another speech. I'm tired of the government not understanding us students and how we feel."

Is This Legit?

MICHELLE WRIGHT, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is This Legit? Benin, Ghana and Senegal are all countries in West Africa. This is legit. You'll find all of these countries on the western part of the continent.

Severe Flooding

AZUZ: And right now, you'll find all of them struggling through severe flooding. According to the United Nations, 16 West African countries, including about 600,000 people, have been affected by heavy rains. More than 150 lives have already been lost. The U.N. says the flooding in one of those countries, Burkina Faso, is the worst in 90 years! The organization is working to get aid to the victims, but it also says that this is kind of a mixed blessing, since the rain will actually help the harvest in countries that depend on farming.


AZUZ: Moving to Afghanistan, where ongoing violence in the country's Kunar province claimed the lives of four U.S. service members yesterday. The region has seen an increase in clashes recently between American forces and the Taliban. And in the capital city of Kabul, a suicide bombing at the city's airport killed two people and left six others wounded.

Meanwhile, a chunk of the votes from last month's presidential election in Afghanistan are going to be recounted. The country's Electoral Complaints Commission made this decision after determining that there was "clear and convincing evidence of fraud" at a number of polling stations. Most of that is related to ballot stuffing, unusually high numbers of votes cast for only one candidate. Presidential hopefuls need more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a run-off. Current president Hamid Karzai is currently leading with more than 54 percent of the vote.


AZUZ: If you want to find out more information about that recount or some Daily Discussion of the stories in our show, or maps that pinpoint the location of cities and countries in the headlines? You'll find all of it, plus our blog and tips on how to send us iReports, at! This website is great. You want to go there. So, make us your home page today!


GEORGE RAMSAY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! How many voting members are there in the U.S. House of Representatives? If you think you know it, shout it out! Are there: A) 100, B) 250, C) 435 or D) 585? You've got three seconds -- GO! 435 voting representatives plus 100 senators make up the U.S. Congress. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Back in Session

AZUZ: And Congress is back in session after a month off. One of the first things on the agenda? President Obama's speech to both houses about health care. He's making that speech tonight; we'll have more on it tomorrow. This recess wasn't necessarily a vacation for many congressmen and women. While they were in their home states, many members of Congress met with the people they represent to discuss some of the political issues coming up in this new session. And some of those meetings got pretty heated. Well, now that the representatives and senators are back at work, we're going to be taking a look at what they're working on in our new segment called Capitol Connection. CNN Radio's Lisa Desjardins brings us the inside scoop from inside the building.


LISA DESJARDINS, CNN RADIO CORRESPONDENT, CAPITOL HILL: Like many of you guys, Congress is just now getting back from summer break. So members are flying into Washington, they are putting on their special little pins that get them through security and they are getting right to work. And they have a massive list of issues to face in the next two months. At the top of the list? Global warming, financial reform, student loans and of course, health care.

I know many of you may be sick of hearing about health care, but it is at a pivotal point right now. So pivotal that tonight, President Obama will do something very rare. He will give a speech in the middle of a congressional session. Why is he doing that? Well, the truth is, the president doesn't have the votes he needs to get through the health care law that he wants. So tonight, he may propose a compromise and he certainly will be trying to get more votes out of Congress. At the same time, many Republicans and even some Democrats don't like the president's ideas. You can bet that they will be emailing me, even as the president is speaking, to tell me why they disagree.

That's just one fight. Remember, financial reform and global warming. Those debates are still ahead. With Capital Connection, I'm Lisa Desjardins.


Teen Tennis Star

AZUZ: Thank you Lisa. Well, serving up some tennis, now. A teenager has been upsetting some folks around the sport. But in this case that's a good thing, at least from her point of view. Melanie Oudin of Marietta, Georgia is ranked 70th in the world. But she's taken on some of the best players in the sport during the current U.S. Open, and she's won! That includes former number one ranked Maria Sharapova. Monday, Oudin took down 13th seed Nadia Petrova, and became the youngest American to make the tournament's quarterfinals in almost a decade! Recently, the 17 year old talked about playing against some of the world's best.

MELANIE OUDIN, TEEN TENNIS STAR: Realizing that I could actually win, I think, was my key thing. Realizing in the first set that she was no better than me and that I was right there. And whether I won or lost the match, at that moment, I knew that I was right there with her and I could compete with her.

Before We Go

AZUZ: Pretty impressivestuff. I know she could beat me. Finally today, we want to get back to the topic of education -- specifically, yours -- and what you might want to change about it if you were given the chance to do that. That's the question we asked some students recently from Piney Grove Middle School in Cumming, Georgia when they came for a tour inside CNN Studios. Check out what they had to say.


TJ LOWE, 8TH GRADE: I would change the price of college, because it's too expensive and not everyone can afford to go to college.

ZAIN KHAN, 8TH GRADE: I think that teachers need to be more rigorous in their work, because some students just, like, slack off.

YVENARDE SEMEXAN, 8TH GRADE: If we worked harder and the teachers were stricter on the students, then maybe we would be like really smart, and the students would have a better future as an adult.

DAISY GUTIERREZ, 8TH GRADE: One thing I would change is the classes they offer at school, because I think in middle schools they don't give you a big enough variety.

NAYAAB BABAR, 8TH GRADE: I think in middle school and high school you should be able to choose your classes and when you should have them.

CHARIS TAYLOR, 8TH GRADE: Change the classes so they would be smaller, because you get like more information and the teachers can focus on you more.

NICHOLAS FONG, 8TH GRADE: I would say that people shouldn't drop out during high school, because the education, I think, is important.




AZUZ: Some great ideas there. And we're always looking for your input on our show. Whether it's through our blog, which you can find at Or, more recently, a lot of you, as you saw in some earlier comments, have been on Facebook. The URL for that is We look forward to seeing you tomorrow, Thursday, when CNN Student News returns. Have a great day.

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