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STUDENT NEWS

State of the Union; Wintry Conditions in Deep South; Julia Clukey, an Olympic Alternative and Recent Brain Surgery Patient; Lunar New Year Celebrations in China; Ed O`Bannon`s Lawsuit against NCAA to Get College Athletes Paid

Aired January 29, 2014 - 04:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: I`m Carl Azuz. Welcome to CNN STUDENT NEWS. As you can see, I`m not in our studio. Winter storm that sucked the American South this week, has frozen over roads, it`s canceled flights and yes, it kept me out of our studio, but we`ve still got you covered.

Last night, big in night in the U.S. politics. In yesterday show, we told you all about the president`s annual State of the Union address. The history, the tradition, the constitutional mandate. Teachers, you can find that in our show archive at cnnstudentnews.com. It all previewed the speech that President Obama gave last night, and as expected, he spent a lot of time focused on what he calls "Income inequality." "Basically, the difference in earnings between Americans. He also discussed the gridlock in Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have really been higher. And those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely botched. Inequality has deepened. Upper mobility has stalled. The cold out fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by, let alone to get ahead. And too many still aren`t working at all.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: So, our job is reverse this trends. It won`t happen right away, and we won`t agree on everything. But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class and built new ladder of opportunity into the middle class. Some require congressional action, and I`m eager to work with all of you. But America doesn`t stand still and neither will I. So, wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation take span opportunity for more American families, that`s what I`m going to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ: Right after the president`s speech, it`s traditional for the opposing political party, in this case, the Republican Party, to officially respond to the president. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Washington got the job. She focused on a lot of the same topics as the president, but with different approaches.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS, (R) WASHINGTON: Tonight, the president made more promises that sound good, but won`t actually solve the problems facing Americans. We want you to have a better life. The president wants that, too. But we part ways when it comes to how to make that happen.

So, tonight, I`d like to share more hopeful Republican vision, one that empowers you, not the government. It`s one that champions free markets and trust people to make their own decisions, not a government that decides for you. It helps working families rise above the limits of poverty and protects our most vulnerable, and it`s one where Washington plays by the same rules that you do. It`s a vision that is fair and offers the promise of a better future for every American.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ: State of the Union address and the opposing response are great ways for politicians to make their cases to the American people. They get to speak on TV, online, throughout the media without anyone interrupting them or refuting something they said. At least, at the moment they are saying it. But there is a lot that goes into crafting these speeches. You know that saying, you can`t please all of the people all of the time? That`s sort of what a State of the Union address tries to do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here." That was not true when Lincoln said it about his Gettysburg Address. It is true about most State of the Union speeches. Which is not to say they are nothing. They are a moment on the grandest (inaudible) pulpit of all, and in primetime, baby .

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President of the United States!

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are priceless in terms of being able to communicate your message and your agenda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These speeches have become the product of a cast of thousands and a nightmare for speechwriters. Government agencies weigh in on programs they want mentioned to elevate their status.

State Department and Pentagon types usually shortchange, push for more word count. Political operatives shake out troublesome verbiage. We are told that president, a wordsmith in his own right is heavily involved in writing and editing.

The key to success is no one in your audience, and that is not of these people, lawmakers and the House Chamber, they are pretty much window- dressing. CNN commentator Stephanie Cutter watched the process during the Clinton and Obama years.

STEPHANIE CUTTER, CNN CROSSFIRE HOST: Whoever is standing up and clapping, that`s great. Whoever is sitting in their seat refusing to clap, that`s great too.

OBAMA: Fellow Americans.

CUTTER: You`re not talking to the people in the room. You`re talking to people sitting on their coaches at home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Also helpful, if not too kitschy, props. President Reagan once brought along 43 pounds worth of federal budget.

NEWT GINGRICH, CNN CROSSFIRE HOST: It was talking about the need to shrink government and so forth. It was very vivid demonstration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Except for historians and the occasionally curious, State of the Union speeches, as Lincoln might say, are not long remembered, but certain phrases endure, capturing a moment in time.

Lyndon Baines Johnson January 8, 1964: This administration today, here and now declares unconditional war on poverty in America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Richard Nixon, January 30, 1974: One year of Watergate is enough.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bill Clinton, January 23, 1996: The air of big government is over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And George W. Bush, January 29, 2002: States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an Axis of Evil.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are like mile markers in the nation`s history.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: All right, so the reasons I`m not in our studio. Yesterday, a headline at cnn.com read "The Deep South Gets a Deep Freeze." It wasn`t only the south, as Midwesterners know well. Yesterday, about 140 million people, more than 40 percent of the U.S. population was under some sort of winter weather advisory, but southern states don`t have the resources to deal with unusual accumulations of snow, so states of emergency were declared. Thousands of flights were cancelled in the region. In Atlanta, many students were stranded at school when their parents got stranded in traffic on the way to pick them up.

Forecasts in some areas were for considerably less snow than they actually got. That took its toll.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: States that don`t usually see snow, are seeing it, and it might be pretty, but for many it`s a headache. Look at these pictures from Jackson, Mississippi. Roads are snow covered, and what few snowplows they do have, were out trying to clear the mess as quickly as possible. But for some, it wasn`t fast enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I started sliding and, you know, once I started sliding I couldn`t control it.

In Alabama, much of the same. Near whiteout conditions brought traffic to a standstill. This was the scene in Birmingham. In Atlanta when the snow started to fall, people rushed to get home, but found nothing but gridlock on the streets. It wasn`t much better for air travel. Thousands of flights were canceled, not just in Atlanta, but across much of the south. Even the slightest accumulation leads to serious issues. Thousands of students in Hoover, Alabama are spending the night in area schools after road conditions deteriorated. Alabama`s governor urged parents to remain calm.

In Georgia, conditions kept students on gridlock school buses for hours, while hundreds waited at schools for their parents.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: Next up today, anyone who wants to become an Olympian, knows about sacrifice, knows about overcoming odds, knows about doing everything possible to realize that dream, and maybe help inspire others along the way. Julia Clukey has taken all of that to extreme. Set a kind of parallels to sport she competes in, the luge, which you could say takes sledding to the extreme.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As she jumps into her sled, Julia Clukey has one focus. Getting down that track as fast as possible.

Clukey says her life experiences helped give her perspective, which is on the track.

JULIA CLUKEY, OLYMPIC ALTERNATIVE: I think anytime something happens to you, you have to decide, to feel, decide what you`re going to do to get there and then stick to the plan every day.

I was diagnosed with Arnold-Chiari syndrome shortly after the 2010 Winter Olympics games.

GUPTA: Chiari has a disorder, in which the fluid around her brain doesn`t circulate properly.

CLUKEY: A lot of the symptoms that I was having were severe headaches and pressure, you know, in the lower part of my skull, and a lot of problems with the right side of my body.

GUPTA: For her, surgery was the only option.

CLUKEY: They go in and they removed a little under a centimeter of my skull bone to create access for the spinal fluid to flow freely.

GUPTA: She didn`t let that stop her, though. Just 14 months later, she was back on the sled.

CLUKEY: I never lost sight of where I wanted to be after my surgery and that was back competing in the sport of luge.

GUPTA: While Clukey fell short of making her second Olympics by just a fraction of a second, she`s staying sharp as the team`s first alternate.

CLUKEY: I wake everyday knowing that I`m training for something I love.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: Man, with efforts like that, even without making the Olympic team, there is no way that Julia could luge her sense of accomplishment. We told you her story was great. So you can`t say we misled you. It puts today`s show on ice, but we`ll slide back with more news and puns in the days ahead. I`m Carl Azuz for CNN STUDENT NEWS.

END