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CNN Student News Transcript: September 18, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Consider the potential impact of a shift in U.S. missile defense plans
  • Find out how a tooth transplant helped one woman regain her sight
  • Gain some insight on CNN Student News from one of our first anchors
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(CNN Student News) -- September 18, 2009

Quick Guide

Missile Defense - Consider the potential impact of a shift in U.S. missile defense plans.

Tooth for an Eye - Find out how a tooth transplant helped one woman regain her sight.

Before We Go - Gain some insight on CNN Student News from one of our first anchors!



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Friday's are awesome! Like your commercial-free edition of CNN Student News Here with it, I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Missile Defense

AZUZ: Russia is appreciative, while the Czech Republic and Poland are not happy about a shift on a shield. Missile defense is what we're talking about. President Obama says he's altering U.S. plans for a defense system based in Europe. One expert says the new proposal makes strategic sense, but it could raise diplomatic concerns about U.S. relations with several European countries. Jill Dougherty has more on the reasons behind the shift and the potential consequences.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: In one of the biggest international policy decisions for this president so far, Barack Obama is saying that he will not proceed with a land-based system for missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic. But he does say that he is going ahead with what he calls a new missile defense architecture in Europe. Essentially, the president says the threat from Iran, and that's aimed at Iran, has changed. It does not have a long-range missile, but it does have short-range and medium-range missiles, and the president is saying that this new plan would use things like land- and sea-based interceptors and sensors to defend against any potential short- or medium-range missiles from Iran. Now, the secretary of defense made it clear. He says those who accuse us of scrapping missile defense in Europe are wrong. This will be a broader system, they say, throughout Europe.

Diplomatically, this is very complex. The Poles are not happy, to say the least. The response coming from a spokesperson for the defense ministry calling it a catastrophe for Poland. The Czechs also were displeased. But President Obama is trying to placate and downplay those fears.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I've spoken to the prime ministers of both the Czech Republic and Poland about this decision, and reaffirmed our deep and close ties. Together, we are committed to a broad range of cooperative efforts to strengthen our collective defense, and we are bound by the solemn commitment of NATO's Article 5, that an attack on one is an attack on all.

DOUGHERTY: One danger for President Obama is, he is now being accused here in the United States of caving in to Russia. Of course, he is denying that. The idea is that they would hope that the Russians would become more aggressive in trying to contain the nuclear program of Iran, signing on to more aggressive sanctions, for instance, in the international community. The feeling among the critics of the president is that he has caved indeed, and that in effect, he has pressed the "reset" button with Russia at the expense of Poland and the Czech Republic. Jill Dougherty, CNN, Washington.


Downloadable Maps


GEORGE RAMSAY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to the Water House students and teachers at Parkway Middle School in La Mesa, California. What is the highest award that can be given to someone serving in the U.S. Armed Forces? Is it the: A) Medal of Freedom, B) Bronze Star, C) Medal of Honor or D) Distinguished Service Cross? You've got three seconds -- GO! The Medal of Honor has been awarded to nearly 3,500 U.S. service members. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Medal of Honor

AZUZ: Yesterday, it was awarded to one more. Sergeant First Class Jared Monti, who lost his life in battle three years ago in Afghanistan. That was during an attempt to save the life of one of his comrades after their patrol was ambushed by Taliban fighters. President Obama awarded the medal to Monti's parents yesterday in a ceremony at the White House. Monti joined the Army in 1993, earning numerous medals and commendations for his service and actions. His is just the second Medal of Honor awarded to a service member for duty in Afghanistan. It's also the first one given by President Obama.

Mixed Economy News

AZUZ: Moving to the economy now, where the news is mixed. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke thinks the recession is likely over. He made that statement earlier this week. But according to a recent CNN poll, a majority of Americans disagree. More than 85 percent believe we're still in a recession. Meantime, the stock market has been climbing over the past several months, although it took a small dip yesterday. And the number of Americans filing new unemployment claims is down. Though, the number filing ongoing unemployment claims is up.

Is This Legit?

MICHELLE WRIGHT, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? Your canine teeth and your eyeteeth are the same thing. Different names, but they both refer to the pointed teeth that help you tear food!

Tooth for an Eye

AZUZ: For one woman, one of her eye teeth is living up to its name. That's because doctors took it out of her mouth and used it to help recover her sight. That's something that had been lost years before. The surgeons say it's the first time this procedure has ever been attempted in the U.S. Elizabeth Cohen explains the incredible details.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kay Thornton lost her sight nine years ago when a bad reaction to a drug scarred her cornea, the clear covering of the eye. It was so bad, even a cornea transplant wouldn't help. Doctors gave her no hope. But Kay believes in miracles.

Did you ever think a miracle would involve a tooth?


COHEN: It's amazing that a tooth -- a tooth! -- could help someone see again. When Dr. Victor Perez at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami first heard of this odd-sounding procedure, he couldn't believe it either.

DR. VICTOR PEREZ, THE BASCOM PALMER EYE INSTITUTE: We thought, "Oh my God, how can people do that?" It seems to be a very far-fetched idea.

COHEN: First, Dr. Perez removed the scar tissue from Thorton's left cornea, because it was blocking her vision. Then, get this, he took her canine tooth and part of her jaw bone and whittled it down. This is the actual surgery. He then used a piece of her tooth and bone to hold in place a new lens that acts as her cornea. Just hours after the surgery, Dr. Perez removed Thornton's bandages, and for the first time in nearly a decade, she could see her best friend, Rick Brister.

THORNTON: He was the prettiest thing I believe I've ever seen.

COHEN: This procedure won't work for most blind people, and Thornton can't see perfectly.

THORNTON: I can't tell exactly what color you have on, either blue or black.

COHEN: Yeah, black, I'm wearing black.


PEREZ: Uh huh, that's really good.

COHEN: Her vision will get better, and meanwhile, she's thrilled by what she can see right now.

THORNTON: The blues are bluer, the clouds are bigger and just beautiful. The clouds here look like mountains.

COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Miami.


Before We Go

AZUZ: Great story. Well, lately, you'll find CNN correspondent Brian Todd in Washington. But twenty years ago, you would have found him right here, one of the first anchors of CNN Student News. Back then the show was called CNN Newsroom. As part of our anniversary celebration, I talked with Brian recently about then and now.


AZUZ: Brian, if you could go back, what would you do differently?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON, D.C.: You know, I'm not sure if I would do anything differently, honestly. Because it was so exciting at the time to start this out. It was a new venture, it was reaching out to a new audience that CNN was hoping to develop for the next 20 to 30 years or so, and it was basically breaking down some of the more groundbreaking news of the time. And I remember when we started, the things that were making headlines then were like the fall of the Berlin Wall and things like that. Just really monumental news events. I don't think I would go back and change anything, because the excitement of breaking that down, explaining that to a younger audience, bringing them into your world and kind of the broader world in general, it was just dizzying in its excitement. I don't think i would change a thing.

AZUZ: Let's go back a couple decades, Brian. Is there anything you miss about the 80s?

TODD: You know, maybe some of the music. Maybe just the excitement of myself being younger; having all that energy and vitality. That's what everybody misses about 20 years ago. I'd say that probably encapsulates it.

AZUZ: Do you have any things you regret, like let's say wardrobe, for instance?

TODD: Well, what's not to regret about the wardrobes? I'm sure you guys have some clips that you can show about the wardrobes and the hair.

AZUZ: Oh, we have a clip!

TODD: Sure. OK. Go ahead.

AZUZ: Let's roll that.

TODD: Hit me with it.

AZUZ: I didn't know plaid got that big.

TODD: I didn't know hair got that big. And look at that tanning makeup that they put on you then. That's really flattering, isn't it?

AZUZ: It was a day at the beach, Mr. Todd!

TODD: They wanted us to look younger. That was one of my more conservative outfits. I wore a lot of pastel sweaters, really awful things like that, if I tried to get away with these days they'd run me out of here.

AZUZ: Well, that's good to hear. Now, somebody was commenting earlier that my hair goes up and yours kinda went out. But I think either way it really adds to the effect of the show.

TODD: Listen, Carl, you're so much more hip than I was at that time. I'll tell you. I don't know. It's like the '80s called, they want their hair back. They can have it back.

AZUZ: I get that too, here in 2009, so, no regrets. Well listen, Brian, we thank you very much for taking time to talk to us today.

TODD: My pleasure, Carl, and congratulations on Student News for the anniversary.

AZUZ: Thank you very much, sir.

TODD: Thank you.




AZUZ: You can check out the full interview on our web site. Yes, it's really good! No, I did not offer him his old job back; you're stuck with me. Have a great weekend.

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