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CNN Student News Transcript: December 17, 2009

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CNN Student News - 12/17/2009

(CNN Student News) -- December 17, 2009

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Copenhagen, Denmark
North Korea
Washington, D.C.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: I'm Carl Azuz and this is CNN Student News. Controversial correspondence, recession reactions, altruistic artwork: It's our penultimate program of 2009, and it starts right now!

First Up: Climate Summit

AZUZ: Denmark is where we start, where protesters are clashing with police outside a global climate summit. More than 200 demonstrators were arrested yesterday. They've been holding rallies in the capital city of Copenhagen throughout the two-week conference. Meanwhile, inside the meeting hall, the person running the conference has stepped down. The Danish minister for climate and energy said she stepped aside so that the country's prime minister could take over. She said that's more appropriate, since many world leaders are arriving for the final days of the conference. They're going to try to work on a climate-change agreement, and President Obama will be there; he's scheduled to arrive in Copenhagen tomorrow.

President's Letter

AZUZ: A letter written by President Obama arrived in North Korea last week. A U.S. official says it was written directly to that country's leader, Kim Jong Il. America has been urging North Korea to rejoin the "six party talks." These are meetings that are aimed at shutting down North Korea's controversial nuclear program. The country has refused to return to the process. Recently, the U.S. has said that it will only meet with North Korea as part of the six-party talks. That's what makes this personal letter from President Obama significant.

British Airways Strike Threat

AZUZ: The threat of a strike could throw one of the world's busiest airports -- London's Heathrow Airport -- into total chaos during the holiday travel season. British Airways is asking a judge to stop the walkout, which is scheduled to start on December 22nd. The labor union that represents the airline's cabin crews voted to strike back in November. They're upset about some of the company's cost-cutting moves. The judge could make a decision today. You can check for the latest updates. If the strike does happen, it could affect a million passengers' holiday travel plans.

Economic News

AZUZ: Meantime, holiday travel in the U.S.: expected to be up this year. AAA is a leading travel group, and it's predicting a boost of about 4 percent over 2008. The organization says the reason for the increase is that people are feeling more confident about their finances.

Another possible good sign for the economy: The rate of new home construction went up in November. It jumped about 9 percent over the previous month, but it's still more than 12 percent lower than it was last year.

And despite some signs of improvement, the Federal Reserve believes the U.S. economy might stay weak for a while. That is why it's keeping a key interest rate, which affects things like credit cards and home loans, at almost zero percent. Now keeping the rate low is one way to try to boost the economy in the hopes that people will start buying things like homes and spending.

Person of the Year

AZUZ: The man who heads up the Federal Reserve is Ben Bernanke, and he is TIME magazine's "Person of the Year." The magazine is part of the same parent company as CNN, and it says it picked Bernanke because of his impact on the U.S. economy, which it considered to be the story of the year. Now that is their choice. We want to hear yours! Head to our blog and tell us your "Person of the Year."


TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! Who officially declares when a recession begins and ends? Is it the: A) National Bureau of Economic Research, B) Federal Reserve, C) Better Business Bureau or D) President? You've got three seconds -- GO! Only the National Bureau of Economic Research can officially declare that the U.S. economy is in a recession. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Students in Recession

AZUZ: And one year ago, that's what they did. The National Bureau of Economic Research said the recession, which is a significant decrease in economic activity, began in December of 2007. Now we have all seen or felt its impact in some way in the two years since the recession started. Ali Velshi talks with some college students about how it has affected their careers and their goals.


ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You're all of a generation where you've not seen this in your lives. A lot of people haven't seen this in their lives. This is pretty serious.

NEDRICK RIVERS, ADVERTISING MAJOR: This is a very competitive road, a very competitive field. I wasn't prepared for that, basically.

AJA SANDERS, TOURISM & HOTEL MANAGEMENT MAJOR: We go to school for four years, and most of us don't hope to be paid hourly. We hope to have a salaried job. I really can't complain right now. A lot of people don't have jobs.

VELSHI: Has that hit your confidence?

SANDERS: Nobody is too great to take a low-paying job. This is really America. People start from low and they go up real high. You have to start somewhere.

CATHERINE MCABEE, PHARMACOLOGY MAJOR: And hopefully, our generation will learn from these mistakes that led up to the recession. We won't be going out and buying outrageous houses that we can't afford and getting these mortgages, and we really appreciate our jobs.

VELSHI: How are you different than somebody who graduated five years ago?

SANDERS: I graduated in the depression. Not just economic depression, but, like, everybody is depressed.

JEFF BARNHILL, CHEMICAL ENGINEERING MAJOR: No doubt that I have the job that I have now because I kind of got in while the getting was good, for lack of a better term. I started internships back in '05- '06, when they were very intent on hiring lots of people and kind of stayed with it. If I didn't have that, I would probably be in the same boat as most other people now.

VELSHI: Anybody having disagreements with their families or siblings, their friends about the direction that they're going in?

DANIELLE MCQUEEN, RETAIL SALES AND FASHION MERCHANDISING MAJOR: I was a nursing major for two years. When I changed my major to retail, everybody was like, what? What are you doing?

VELSHI: Nursing has to be one of the biggest growing jobs in the country.

MCQUEEN: Nursing wasn't my passion. My passion was retail and fashion merchandising. So, I'm just going off of faith. That's what I really want to do.

VELSHI: You'd rather struggle a little bit and do the thing you want to do?

MCQUEEN: What I want to do. Because it will fulfill me.

SANDERS: I understand there are majors that pay more, but if it doesn't make you happy and you go to work hating your job, then there really was no point in you doing it. I'd rather go to work everyday and be happy and paid less than go to work and be miserable and hate my life.

VELSHI: The point of this trip, as I said to you earlier, was to take things that we're learning on the street from people, put them on TV and have our viewers, who may see themselves in each of you, get some lesson out of it. What's interesting in this conversation is that each of you, I think, I'm going to ask you for the lesson. If somebody is looking at you right now, what's your advice to them?

MCQUEEN: Study hard.

MCABEE: Plan for the future.

SANDERS: Make sure you're happy.

RIVERS: Don't ever feel like you're too good to do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: Help people out so that when you need help, they can help you.

BARNHILL: Don't be intimidated by this situation. I mean, it's a horrible situation, but like you've said, we've been talking about that for a year. Everybody knows it's a horrible situation. You can't use it as an excuse. You've got to put on your big boy pants and go for it.


Empty Bowls, Full Bellies

AZUZ: Well, another group that's been affected by this recession, as you might imagine, is the poor. There's one charitable organization in Washington, D.C. that says the number of homeless and hungry people that it helps has climbed more than 10 percent this year. In order to try and meet that need, the group hosts a fundraiser that aims to turn empty bowls into full bellies. Take a look at how.


FATHER JOHN ADAMS, PRESIDENT, SO OTHERS MAY EAT: I'm making a wonderful bowl to help raise money for feeding hungry people. We're at Corcoran College here at the Corcoran Art Gallery. This is the very first time I'm making a bowl in my life. Marge will sell these bowls for our Empty Bowls event to help support feeding the hungry.

Hunger is in our midst here in the nation's capital. We have 9,000 homeless people. SOME serves well over a thousand meals a day to people. Our goal is to walk the journey with people to help people become independent. The holidays remind us to, certainly giving thanks for what we have, but also the opportunities that we might have to reach out to people who don't have.

BOB DEVERS, CORCORAN COLLEGE OF ART + DESIGN: Anthropologists say that the earliest bowls were a mimicry of two hands holding together.

ADAMS: I can't think of a better way to participate in feeding hungry people.

DEVERS: It's two hands for a stomach: to give, to receive and to hold and to consume.

ADAMS: It's a very artistic symbol. We're really grateful for this partnership that we have this year. We have great artists and great people here that are interested in people in this city.

JEFF HERRITY, STUDENT AT CORCORAN: I mean, it's representing having nothing, and so I think prior to it being full, I think there are so many things that are going into it. So today, we're going to make upwards of around 500 bowls. You get the clay centered, then you start making the bowl form. It's good to get us to work with our community in any way we can. I mean, not everybody can donate, so this is a great way for people to participate and contribute to an organization. I think this is really important as an artist to keep giving back to the community. It's not just a gift for somebody at Christmas, it's a gift for someone you don't really know. And I think that's what's probably the most important thing, that we're really making this for somebody that needs it.


Before We Go

AZUZ: Finally today, check out some festive holiday homes. These first ones, all right, you can't live in them. But they sure do look tempting to the taste buds. One gingerbread house even comes complete with a canal made out of fruit roll-ups! That is sweet. But it pales in comparison to what's coming up here: this decked out domicile in Australia. The owner's lavish light show is enhanced by a program that times up the flashes with music.


AZUZ: And it's guaranteed to make any Scrooge lighten up! Just one more show to go in 2009, and that one is chock full of puns; you won't want to miss that one. We'll see you tomorrow to wrap up the semester. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.