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CNN Student News Transcript: January 4, 2010

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CNN Student News - 1/4/2010

(CNN Student News) -- January 4, 2010

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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Hi! Happy new year! We hope you had a wonderful break. My name is Carl Azuz, and CNN Student News is kicking off 2010 right here, right now.

First Up: National Security

AZUZ: First up, the U.S. government closes its embassy in the Middle Eastern country of Yemen, and that is because of security concerns. One official says that a group called al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula might be planning an attack against the facility.

That same group said it was behind an attempted plot to set off an explosive onboard a plane heading to Detroit, Michigan. That took place on Christmas day. The suspect allegedly brought the explosives on the plane in his underwear. The plan failed when the device he tried to use didn't detonate correctly. Some people have asked how the suspect made it past security. One U.S. official says it's because of human error. President Obama has promised that everyone involved in the attack will be held accountable for it. But some critics argue that the president's response to the situation hasn't been fast enough, hasn't been aggressive enough.

The president also announced that the suspect was trained by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. That's the same terrorist group we mentioned before. The U.S. military has been working with the government of Yemen for a while to fight al Qaeda terrorists. Barbara Starr looks at how that fight has played out in the past.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yemeni forces earlier this month on a raid against al Qaeda just north of the capital of Sana'a. The military shouts, "Come out. It is better for you. Do not be afraid." Shots are fired and several suspects are finally captured. This was one of Yemen's efforts to hit back at al Qaeda. U.S. assistance with several recent strikes that may have killed some of these men is now openly acknowledged.

ABU BAKR AL-QIRBI, YEMENI FOREIGN MINISTER: They are Yemeni armed forces attacks. They were, of course, supported by American intelligence and by the training of the Yemeni armed forces.

STARR: What's next? The U.S. military and the intelligence community are looking at everything they have got on al Qaeda in Yemen. Strikes are expected to continue and could involve U.S. missiles or aircraft, sources say. The U.S. and Yemen are looking for targets linked to the attack of Northwest flight 253. But direct retaliation hasn't always worked.

FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Our target was terror. Our mission was clear. There will be no sanctuary for terrorists.

STARR: In 1998, after al Qaeda attacked U.S. embassies in east Africa, President Clinton ordered cruise missile attacks against targets in Afghanistan. But al Qaeda was untouched; key operatives had long fled the area. U.S. retaliation that worked: it happened in Yemen back in 2002. A U.S. drone fired a missile. One of the dead was an al Qaeda operative believed to have been behind the October 2000 attack on the Navy warship Cole in Yemen that killed 17 sailors.

Even now, the U.S. is continuing to provide training, weapons and intelligence to the Yemeni forces. But if President Obama decides to strike back in retaliation for the botched attack on the Northwest Airlines flight, there will be a target list for him to approve. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


Is this Legit?

RICK VINCENT, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? About a third of the world's population is Christian. Legit! According to the U.S. government, approximately 33 percent of the global population is Christian, making Christianity the world's largest religion.

Christmas Celebrated

AZUZ: And of course, Christians around the world celebrated Christmas on December 25th, marking the birth of Jesus. One of those celebrations, which you see right here, was held in the city of Bethlehem, the site where Jesus was born. Worshippers gathered at the Church of the Nativity for a ceremony there. And at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI led the traditional Christmas Eve Mass. There was a disruption at the beginning, though, when a woman ran toward the pope and knocked him down. The religious leader wasn't hurt. He was helped up and continued with the ceremony, while Vatican guards removed the woman.

Iran Protests

AZUZ: A holy day in Iran marked by violence as protesters clashed with police forces about a week ago. Demonstrators have spoken out against the country's government for months now, but the clashes on the Muslim holy day of Ashura were the worst so far. At least seven people killed in the violence, though protesters and security forces disagree on how those deaths happened.

Meantime, Iran's government says it's getting ready to hold a "large-scale military exercise" next month. The country says the goal is to prepare its forces to fight against an attack by the nation's enemies. There's been a lot of tension based around Iran's nuclear program. The country says the program is for peaceful purposes. Other countries, including the U.S., believe Iran might be trying to build nuclear weapons.

Health Care Debate

AZUZ: Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives will be meeting this month to put together a final health care reform bill. The Senate passed its version on Christmas Eve. The House had already passed its bill. But there are some pretty big differences between the two. One of them: cost. The Senate bill checks in at $871 billion. The House version: Over $1 trillion. Another issue: the so-called public option, a government-run health insurance program. House bill includes it; Senate bill doesn't. So, some compromises need to be made to come up with a final bill. And since that then has to be approved by both Houses of Congress, there are some concerns about whether it will pass.

Money Word

TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Here's the deal: Today's Money Word is depression. It describes an extreme decline in economic activity, and it is much worse than a recession. Put that in your word bank!

Jobs Prospects 2010

AZUZ: The U.S. avoided slipping into a depression during the recent financial crisis, but it did end up in a recession. You know it; you heard about it all last semester. Now, when that economic decline started in December 2007, the number of Americans who were out of a job was around 5 percent. By last November, that number had doubled. Kitty Pilgrim examines what might lie ahead in 2010.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Happy New Year. More than 15 million people in the country are unemployed; many of them lost their jobs in 2009. What's ahead for 2010? Elena Escalona, who spoke to us late last year about her career hopes after sending out dozens of resumes and searching for a job, she suddenly realized what she wanted to do in life.

ELENA ESCALONA, SEARCHING FOR A JOB: Luckily, out of all of this and something really positive that has come out of it is that I've discovered that I want to become a teacher. And I think I would have never discovered that out of, you know, this entire year of looking for a job. That instead of having a job physically handed to me, I've really had to fight for it and kind of, you know, discovered where I belong in the world.

PILGRIM: As the unemployed site-surf and soul search, there is some glimmer of hope. The last report in December found that new claims for unemployment benefits fell sharply, down by 22,000. That was the lowest level since July 2008. And the four-week average of people who filed for benefits has been declining for 17 weeks straight.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We are in a very different place today than we were one year ago. We may forget, but we're in a very different place. We can safely say that we are no longer facing the potential collapse of our financial system and we've avoided the depression many feared. Our economy is growing for the first time in a year.

PILGRIM: Next week will also provide a good snapshot of how manufacturing and service sectors held up in December. As the economy gradually recovers from the worst recession since the Great Depression, going from cutting jobs to creating them is a slow adjustment. Businesses are likely to be cautious, fully convinced in recovery before adding any new hires.

DR. MARTIN REGALIA, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE CHIEF ECONOMIST: We're out of the recession everywhere, but we're not growing enough on Main Street to put people back to work. When the average person thinks of a recession, they don't think of it like economists do, you know, zero GDP growth or whatever. They think of it as, you know, "Am I losing my job? Am I getting a raise?"

PILGRIM: Kitty Pilgrim, CNN.



AZUZ: Well, if you're still looking for a New Year's resolution, why not make us your home page? is awesome! We've got a ton of free resources for you there: all of our shows from this school year, plus transcripts of every program we've done this school year. We've got Daily Discussion questions, links to our blog and downloadable maps. It's all right there. Log on, make us your home page today!

Before We Go

AZUZ: And before we go, we are bringing you some unique New Year's celebrations. Raleigh, North Carolina, where an enormous acorn is the countdown clock. You might think that's nuts, but the tradition's lasted nearly 20 years. Mobile, Alabama is over the moon about its MoonPie celebration. The tasty tradition: to ring in the New Year by watching the moon rise. And a traditional ball drop in Roanoke, Virginia. Okay, maybe letting students drop 11,000 rubber balls isn't exactly a traditional New Year's.


AZUZ: But it sure starts 2010 with a little bounce in their step. Ah, New Year's puns. They all deserve one chorus of Auld Lang Sigh. CNN Student News is back tomorrow; we hope you will be too! See you then.