(CNN Student News) -- October 14, 2009
Health Care - Map out the next steps for a health care plan after a Senate committee vote.
Why 40,000? - Explore the math on a U.S. commander's request for more troops in Afghanistan.
Before We Go - Visit an old-fashioned ice cream parlor that's serving up the kitchen sink.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: I scream, you scream, we all scream for CNN Student News! Reporting from the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Carl Azuz.
AZUZ: 14 for, 9 against. That's how the votes stacked up yesterday when the Senate Finance Committee voted on a health care proposal, and that was enough for the proposal to pass. Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Democrat who helped write the bill -- called the Baucus Bill -- he called it a balanced plan. But the committee's top Republican says he's concerned about the direction that the bill might take health care in America. Now one thing we want to point out, this vote is just part of the process. Jessica Yellin looks at how we reached this point and where the debate is going from here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There have been at least 60 hearings, more than $124 million of TV ads, one presidential address, and an unknowable number of status updates. Finally, it's game day. Off the blocks, Chairman Baucus was feeling strong.
YELLIN: It's going to pass today?
SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D-MT), FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Yep, yep, yep. Big day.
YELLIN: But all eyes were on Senator Olympia Snowe, the one Republican who might vote yes. Would she?
SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE, (R) MAINE: Let's say I'm sorting through all the issues.
YELLIN: All this attention, all this interest.
BAUCUS: The meeting will come to order.
YELLIN: This must be the final decision on health care reform, right? Wrong.
This is just the vote of one Senate committee. Next, their bill has to be stitched together with another bill passed by a different Senate committee, and that new health care bill will go to a full vote of the U.S. Senate. So, you think that's it, one more vote and health care reform is done? Oh no. Over here at the House of Representatives, they are working on their own health care bill that would be paid for differently and include some type of public option. If that passes, then you have two health care bills, one from the House and one from the Senate. Here's the home stretch. Those two bills have to be merged before the full Congress can make the big vote on health care reform. Simple, right?
So, why is everyone taking this vote so seriously? It's serious because this committee has been the biggest roadblock to passing health care reform. And Republican Olympia Snowe announced she's voting yes.
SNOWE: They want us to continue working.
YELLIN: At least for now, the White House can claim a smidge of bipartisan support, and health care inches forward to the next step.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I'm an Asian country that's a little smaller than the state of Texas. On an alphabetical list of the world's countries, I come first! Most of my terrain is made up of rugged mountains. And in 1996, the Taliban took control of my capital city of Kabul. I'm Afghanistan, where the Taliban was removed from power in 2001 by the U.S.-led military forces.
AZUZ: There are 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan right now helping to fight the Taliban. The group that used to control the country has regained strength in recent years. A top American commander said 40,000 additional forces are needed to win that fight. That's a recommendation that many lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, are urging President Obama to follow. How did the commander come up with that number though? 40,000, what's that all about? Chris Lawrence has the answer.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: One hundred thousand American and allied troops are already fighting in Afghanistan. To understand why it's believed General Stanley McChrystal wants 40,000 more, you need to look at a map the way military strategists see it.
KIMBERLY KAGAN, ADVISER TO GEN. MCCHRYSTAL: What 40,000 does is fill in the gaps around Kandahar, around Khost, in Helmand Province. It does not, however, cover the entire country.
LAWRENCE: Kimberly Kagan is an adviser to McChrystal. She says it's the minimum number to root out the Taliban and identify and protect potential Afghan partners. But the military's own counter-insurgency ratio dictates it would take well over half a million troops to secure Afghanistan's 33 million people. But General McChrystal is not applying this ratio to all of Afghanistan. He feels certain parts of the country are peaceful enough, like the north, or just not as important, like the west, that they don't need the same number of counter-insurgency fighters as these areas do.
KAGAN: And that's what gets him from a figure of hundreds of thousands of troops down to a figure such as 40,000 or 60,000 troops.
LAWRENCE: Kagan says McChrystal would use those troops to turn the tide, so the Taliban doesn't control every other town. She says 10,000 or even 20,000 troops just aren't enough.
KAGAN: It's not as though we can simply plug half as many holes with half as many troops and somehow seize the initiative from the enemy. On the contrary, half as many troops will probably leave us pinned down as we are.
LAWRENCE: The problem is roughly 25 million Afghans live in thousands of small, rural villages scattered all over an area the size of Texas. Up to 80 percent of the population could still be out of reach for coalition troops. So, when 30,000 American troops surged into Baghdad, that's where one out of every four Iraqis lived. Even if you take the top 30 most populated areas of Afghanistan, you'd still only account for 20 percent of the population. That's how rural and spread out it is. Chris Lawrence, CNN, Washington.
AZUZ: Severe weather causing problems even when you think it wouldn't. Rain in an area that just struggled through fire. That might sound like a good thing, but experts are afraid it could make the situation even worse in parts of California. You remember the wildfires we told you about recently. Well, there is a storm that forecasters are calling the first major one of the season and it is pounding the state with strong winds and heavy rains. Officials are concerned that when those rains hit the land that's already been scorched by the wildfires, it could trigger dangerous floods and landslides.
A few states to the north, you see where that road ends? That's not intentional. It's the result of a landslide in Washington state. One resident said the whole face of the mountain just came off. It wasn't caused by an earthquake. It wasn't severe weather. It's what scientists refer to as a "natural land movement," one that caused an estimated $20 million in damages.
AZUZ: Delivering meals to the hungry. Offering music education to keep kids off the streets. Providing prosthetic limbs to young people in need. Just some of the work being done by this year's CNN Heroes. You can vote for the hero of the year at CNNStudentNews.com. Then tune in to a special program on CNN Thanksgiving night to find out who won.
AZUZ: Before we go, do you choose chocolate? Savor strawberry? Praise the virtues of vanilla? No matter what your ice cream cravings are, chances are that Jaxson's Parlour can meet them, just like it has been for more than half a century. We're gonna give you fair warning on this next report though. If you're not hungry before you watch this story, even if you just had lunch, you're gonna be hungry again by the time it's over. Check this out.
MONROE UDELL, OWNER, JAXSON'S ICE CREAM PARLOUR: My name is Monroe Udell. I'm the owner of Jaxson's, and I am the original owner of 53 years. I originally started it in 1956. I made the ice cream myself. Double-dip ice cream cone was 15 cents.
The location is a landmark today. We've always served humongous portions. We came up with the kitchen sink because people called their ice cream in kitchen sinks, which were actually in a punch bowl.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely worth the drive.
UDELL: We're not a cookie cutter. We're renowned, you know, in the industry as one of the outstanding ice cream parlors and restaurants in the country today. It's still made right here. All the good fruits and nuts, we haven't changed a thing. We still do it the old-fashioned way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm in heaven.
UDELL: We've had, you know, down time and good times with the economy.
CROWD: (SINGING) Happy birthday to you...
UDELL: It's about six weeks since I've had my quadruple surgery, heart surgery. I'm going to try to be here as long as I can. I hope another 50 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my God!
AZUZ: A kitchen sink full of ice cream? That's one way to make your troubles melt away. I know, I know, we can hear you groaning from here. But, listen. We're working on a new Facebook video, and if you've already seen our other ones, you already know they're... different. Swing by Facebook.com/cnnstudentnews and keep an eye out for our latest! That eats up all our time for today. We will look forward to seeing you again tomrrow here at CNN Student News. Bye bye now.