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CNN Student News Transcript: October 16, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Gauge the reaction of some New Orleans residents to President Obama's visit
  • Hear what a new report says is the cause of an increase in world hunger
  • Find out how a Cuban blogger faces obstacles from her nation's government
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(CNN Student News) -- October 16, 2009

Quick Guide

New Orleans Visit - Gauge the reaction of some New Orleans residents to President Obama's visit.

World Hunger - Hear what a new report says is the cause of an increase in world hunger.

Blogger Blocked - Find out how a Cuban blogger faces obstacles from her nation's government.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Fridays are sweet! We're just trying to change it up a bit. What never changes is the fact that CNN Student News is commercial-free, and that I am Carl Azuz... as far as you know. All right, let's get going.

First Up: New Orleans Visit

AZUZ: First up, we're headed to New Orleans for President Obama's first trip to the city since he took office. During yesterday's visit, the president talked about health care and the economy. But he also focused on the recovery efforts taking place in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina struck there four years ago. The president said there's been a lot of progress in response to that devastating storm, but he added there's still plenty to do, and he pledged that his administration would be part of the rebuilding process.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I promise you this: Whether it's me coming down here or my Cabinet or other members of my administration, we will not forget about New Orleans. We are going to keep on working; we are not going to forget about the Gulf Coast. Together, we will rebuild this region and we will rebuild it stronger than before. It is going to be stronger than before.

AZUZ: Before yesterday's trip, Sean Callebs talked to some of New Orleans' residents to get a sense of their feelings before the president got there. Take a listen.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, NEW ORLEANS: Martin Luther King Elementary in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, one of the first schools to reopen following Katrina, will be President Obama's first stop in the city.

RODNEY GREEN, MLK CHARTER SCHOOL: I would tell him that, "Will you get New Orleans recovered as soon as possible?" Because a lot of people I know have lost their homes and they are not back yet.

CALLEBS: Any excitement about the president's first visit here is tempered with deep-rooted frustration. More than a year ago, candidate Obama told residents what they wanted to hear, that it's time to speed up the recovery.

BARACK OBAMA, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast extended their hands for help, help was not there.

CALLEBS: The administration maintains it's trying to remove red tape to get people back in their homes and spark the economy. Its stimulus package, for example, did pour about $3.8 billion into Louisiana. But ask the head of the state's Republican Party, who also happens to run a major florist business here, about Obama's first nine months in office, and he will not offer glowing reviews. Roger Villere says people are not spending on luxury items like flowers.

So, clearly, this is the type of business that would have benefited from the stimulus. Is it working?

ROGER VILLERE, CHAIR, LOUISIANA REPUBLICAN PARTY: It's not. The stimulus is not working.

CALLEBS: Villere says for all that he calls the hype on hope and change, this state has chiefly seen disappointment.

VILLERE: He hasn't delivered. He's talked about it, but he hasn't done it. So, until he delivers, then all he can say is just all talk.

CALLEBS: Much of the city looks like this: pockets of recovery surrounded by devastation. Democratic State Representative Juan LaFonta says sure, everyone here wants New Orleans to recover fast, but that people need to understand President Obama is dealing with pressing global issues.

JUAN LAFONTA , (D) LOUISIANA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: If people live in these conditions, they are going to be frustrated. But at the same time, he is helping us deal with commerce, deal with issues in the economy. We are about to have a toppled economy, issues with health care, public education. I mean, this president got in and started tackling a bunch of problems all at once.

CALLEBS: And now, many here argue, it's our turn. Sean Callebs, CNN, New Orleans.


Word to the Wise


undernourished (adjective) having less than the minimum amount of food required to be healthy


World Hunger

AZUZ: There's a new report out that says the number of people around the world who are undernourished is more than a billion! That means roughly one out of every six of us is going hungry, and that's a statistic that the head of the World Food Programme calls "unacceptable in the 21st century." According to the report, the increase in world hunger was caused by the global economic crisis. Nearly all of the world's undernourished live in developing countries. This study was released ahead of World Food Day, which is today. The event was created to raise awareness about world hunger and the fight against it.

The Right to Speed

AZUZ: Internet access. You have it; you use it; do you have a right to it? The country of Finland says yes! And we're not talking dial-up; we mean high-speed Internet! Finland just passed a law that will make telecommunication companies give high-speed access to all of Finland's 5.2 million citizens. 95 percent of them are already wired. This new law is designed to bring faster access to rural areas, where it's harder to get the high-speed technology. The estimated cost for the Finnish government: more than $18 million.

Quake Drills

AZUZ: And in California, authorities announced a magnitude 7.8 earthquake yesterday morning. No damage though, because it wasn't real. It was an earthquake drill, like you might have a fire drill, and you're seeing an example of one. This was one that came last November. Now experts predict that a 7.8 magnitude earthquake will eventually hit California, that's why they rant this drill, he state, to work on response to that kind of powerful tremor. Almost 7 million people, including 4 million students, took part in yesterday's event, one of the largest of its kind.


RICK VINCENT, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! What kind of government does Cuba have? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it a: A) Communist state, B) Democratic republic, C) Constitutional monarchy or D) Oligarchy? You've got three seconds -- GO! Cuba is a Communist state, where a single party holds all the power and controls the country's economy. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Blogger Blocked

AZUZ: That also means that Cubans don't necessarily enjoy the same freedoms as people in other countries. For example, freedom of the press. One blogger on the island is facing a backlash from the Cuban government after using her site to speak out. But as Shasta Darlington shows us, despite the obstacles, she refuses to back down.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Armed with a laptop and a flash drive, Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez is breaking down barriers. Her feisty and often courageous blog, Generacion Y, gets more than a million hits from around the globe every month.

YOANI SANCHEZ, BLOGGER [TRANSLATED]: I think the goal is to express myself, and that expression is the biggest hammer against the wall.

DARLINGTON: Last year, "Time" magazine named her one the 100 most influential people in the world, but she does run up against obstacles. Cuba has blocked access to her blog. And this week, the government denied Sanchez permission to travel to New York to receive a journalism prize from Columbia University.

LEE C. BOLLINGER, PRESIDENT, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: That's very unfortunate. Unfortunate for her, because she deserves to be recognized, but also unfortunate for the world, because it's freedom of the press that's going to really give us the information we need to be able to think about the great issues of global society.

DARLINGTON: Sanchez isn't bitter.

SANCHEZ [TRANSLATED]: I don't let things drive me crazy. I can't be at the ceremony, but I travel virtually every day. I'll celebrate it with friends.

DARLINGTON: Sanchez pens wry commentaries on life in communist Cuba, shedding light on taboo topics like police harassment and the thriving black market. She's openly critical of the government. In one recent entry, she complains she can't find detergent in stores despite warnings about the spread of swine flu. Sanchez was a pioneer. Now, despite restricted access to Internet, there are dozens of independent Cuban bloggers. They send posts into cyberspace and use flash drives and CDs to share entries at home. Their voices resonate in a country where all mainstream media is controlled by the state.

SANCHEZ [TRANSLATED]: The blogger phenomenon is there pushing against the wall, which isn't going to be brought down by kilowatts or posts, but it helps.

DARLINGTON: Sanchez writes her blog at home, saves it on a flash drive or laptop, and then wanders Havana trying to get into a cybercafe or hotel business center. One way or another, she gets her message out. Shasta Darlington, CNN, Havana.


Blog Promo

AZUZ: You saw it right there: Some freedoms we enjoy seem to be restricted for Yoani Sanchez. Are there any freedoms that you think we take for granted? That's what we're asking on our blog at Obviously, we don't have as many restrictions on our page as Sanchez has on hers. But one to remember: first names only.

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, why is one 10 year old being called a hero?

KYLE FORBES, STUDENT HERO: Don't worry, Mrs. Lowe. I'll save you.

AZUZ: He did save her. Sheri Lowe says Kyle Forbes saved her life after she started choking earlier this week. He was the only other person in the classroom when it happened. But Kyle, who happens to be autistic, leaped into action and gave his teacher the Heimlich maneuver, which he learned in the Cub Scouts.



AZUZ: A great story, and a great way to wrap up the week. We have a new Facebook video up we promised you. So that's all ready to go. You can check that out on And we look forward to seeing you next Monday when we return. Have a great weekend.

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