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CNN Student News Transcript: September 30, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Discover how a public health care option fared in a Senate committee vote
  • Learn about the mission of NATO and its role in the conflict in Afghanistan
  • Consider a controversy involving a training tool for air traffic controllers.
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(CNN Student News) -- September 30, 2009

Quick Guide

Public Option Debate - Discover how a public health care option fared in a Senate committee vote.

NATO Meeting - Learn about the mission of NATO and its role in the conflict in Afghanistan.

Simulated Skies - Consider a controversy involving a training tool for air traffic controllers.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: From the Pacific Ocean to the public option, a military meeting to simulated skies, today's CNN Student News brings you headlines from land, sea and air. I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up:

AZUZ: First up, a massive earthquake strikes near Samoa, triggering dangerous waves in the Pacific Ocean. A government statement said at least 17 people were killed following the tremor, which registered a magnitude of 8.0 according to the U.S. Geological Survey. If you're not familiar with the Samoan region where this took place, it's about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. Scientists say the quake caused multiple tsunamis, massive waves that occur in the ocean. Tsunami warnings were called off after the quake hit yesterday, but the extent of damage caused by those waves was still being determined. Of course, the details on this are developing. You can always get the latest information at

Public Option Debate

AZUZ: There's been a new development we want to tell you about in the U.S. health care debate you've heard so much about lately. The Senate Finance Committee, which reviews everything from trade agreements to Social Security to health programs, voted yesterday to keep a public option out of a major health care bill. The public option, probably the biggest sticking point on health care reform. It describes a health coverage system that would be run by the government. Supporters say it would be cheaper than private insurance, cover people who don't currently have health insurance, and compete with private insurance companies, forcing them to bring their costs down.

SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: Something to keep competition real in the marketplace. Otherwise, the insurance companies will have you for lunch.

AZUZ: Opponents say a public option would cost way too much money, put a strain on the current health care system with so many more people covered, and eventually lead to a government takeover of health care.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R) IOWA: Giving people choice is very, very important, and this is going to kill choice.

AZUZ: President Obama wants a public option, but says it's only part of health care reform. Republicans generally don't want it, but what you may not guess is some Democrats don't either, as we saw in yesterday's vote. This doesn't mean that a public option is altogether out; lawmakers can still add it later on. But it's a strong sign that a bill may not pass if the public option is on it.

Chicago Olympic Bid

AZUZ: Meanwhile, President Obama is throwing his support behind another option: the host of the 2016 Olympics! Chicago, Illinois is one of the finalists to host the games, and Mr. Obama is heading to Copenhagen, Denmark later this week for the International Olympic Committee's announcement. The president attended an Olympic rally in Chicago back in 2008, when the city found out it was a finalist, along with Madrid, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro.

At first, Mr. Obama said he wouldn't attend this week's announcement because he needed to focus on health care. The White House says he changed that decision because he believes health care is in better shape. Some critics argue the president should be focused on bigger issues facing the country, but the Obama administration says this trip is connected to a major issue: the economy. Securing the Olympics could mean serious financial benefits for a host city.

Fast Facts

Downloadable Maps

MATT CHERRY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for some Fast Facts! The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, was established in 1949. It's an alliance that's made up of 28 countries from Europe and North America. The organization's main goal is to protect the freedom and security of its members. It does that through political and military methods. NATO forces have helped end conflicts in Kosovo and Bosnia, and its troops have worked to increase stability in Afghanistan, Iraq and Darfur.

NATO Meeting

AZUZ: The head of NATO is weighing in on the military approach to the conflict in Afghanistan, where troops from all 28 of NATO's member countries are part of the NATO-led force serving in Afghanistan. Secretary General Anders Rasmussen says he believes strategy should come before resources. That agrees with a similar statement made by President Obama recently. The two of them met at the White House yesterday to talk about Afghanistan. Secretary Rasmussen described NATO and the U.S. as partners in the mission there. In a recent report, a top American commander says more troops are needed to make that mission a success. Both NATO and the White House say they're reviewing the report before making any decisions about sending additional troops.

Terror Suspect's Plea

AZUZ: Not guilty. That's the plea that Najibullah Zazi entered in federal court yesterday. Zazi, who you see in these courtroom sketches, has been charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism. Investigators allege that the Afghan native was plotting to make bombs from common chemicals and use the homemade explosives somewhere in New York. Zazi's attorney says that while he hasn't seen all of the evidence against his client, what he has seen doesn't amount to a conspiracy. A judge ruled that Zazi be held without bail.

Typhoon Hits Vietnam

AZUZ: Moving to Vietnam, where the country's prime minister is urging authorities to get relief efforts moving as fast as possible after Typhoon Ketsana slammed into the nation yesterday. This is the same storm that caused deadly flooding in the Philippines. The Vietnamese prime minister says those relief efforts will be focused on searching for victims and getting aid to them. About 200,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas to higher ground because of flood warnings. Ketsana lost strength after it hit Vietnam, and was expected to break up completely last night.


MICHELLE WRIGHT, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mrs. Westgard's 8th grade geography class at Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Junior High in Dilworth, Minnesota! Which government agency is responsible for safety in the skies? Is it the: A) FAA, B) OMB, C) SEC or D) FCC? You've got three seconds -- GO! The Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, was created in 1958 to regulate and enforce aviation safety. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Simulated Skies

AZUZ: Part of the way the FAA does that is through the air traffic control system. That's made up of the people who help guide planes through take off and landing, and while they're in flight. As you might guess, it's a job that requires confidence, decision-making and a fair amount of training. But one new teaching method is raising some controversy. Here's Jason Carroll taking off with the details.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rated one of the most stressful jobs in America: air traffic controller. They're the ones in the towers, like this one at New York's JFK Airport, tracking each plane. Not easy, considering the crowded skies. Each triangle on radar is a plane. So many flying on a typical afternoon, the entire country looks red. Controllers and those who train them, like John Kubik, know the stakes.

JOHN KUBIK, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL SUPPORT SPECIALIST: A mistake on my part could cause somebody to die. It's just that simple.

CARROLL: Kubik, a former controller, now has a new, high-tech tool to train his students: a high-tech simulator. It's a digital reproduction of the view from an airport tower, and it looks remarkably accurate. David Jennings helped create it.

CARROLL: How is this different from how you were trained in the very beginning?

DAVID JENNINGS, ADACEL: Light years different.

CARROLL: The simulator's circular structure modified for any weather condition or airport.

JENNINGS: The student goes upstairs with more knowledge, better skills and a level of confidence.

CARROLL: Students like Asif Ali say the simulator has helped his training.

ASIF ALI, TRAINING ON SIMULATOR: With the simulator, you can practice before you actually go into the tower.

CARROLL: The simulation training is not easy.

KUBIK: When he pops up like this, you get this call-all sign: JetBlue 741, Kennedy ground, taxi 2, runway 3, one left. But we want him to go that way, via right alpha, then gulf and zulu.

CARROLL: You want me to say all that?

KUBIK: Yeah.

CARROLL: Not everyone likes the idea of training on a simulator. Stephen Abraham represents the air traffic controller's union in New York.

STEPHEN ABRAHAM, NATIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ASSOCIATION: You don't teach people to drive a car with a video game, and I don't think you should teach people how to work air traffic with a video game.

CARROLL: Abraham says the traditional method of on-the-job training, where students train alongside experienced controllers in the tower, is best. Randy Babbitt, the head of the FAA, says the simulator won't be instead of on-the-job training, it will be in addition to.

RANDY BABBITT, FAA ADMINISTRATOR: We're giving them quality training as opposed to quantity, so we're giving them a higher quality of exposure and experience training to help them in their future decision making. So, it's a very effective tool.



AZUZ: If you missed our 20th anniversary celebration last week, you can still catch up on our Web site. We've got an awesome photo gallery looking at some of the biggest headlines from the past two decades. You'll find it in the Spotlight section at, the same place you can always find more information about stories in our show.

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, we want you to think of the best burger you've ever had. This beats it. Feast your eyes on the Craz-E burger. The concept here is simple: Take a bacon cheeseburger and then slap it on a bun made out of a honey-glazed donut. Yeah, you might survive it, but your arteries will sure get a beating. The restaurant sold 2,000 in just one day, so don't assume no one would want that much deliciousness.



AZUZ: Unless you're a vegetarian. That's all we can stomach for today. We'll be back tomorrow with more CNN Student News.

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