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CNN Student News Transcript: December 16, 2008

  • Story Highlights
  • Discover how severe winter weather is impacting the northern U.S.
  • Learn how one organization is working to help America's homeless
  • Consider some strategies to make the holidays more eco-friendly
  • Next Article in Living »
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(CNN Student News) -- December 16, 2008

Quick Guide

Wicked, Wintry Weather - Discover how severe winter weather is impacting the northern U.S.

Home for the Holidays - Learn how one organization is working to help America's homeless.

Greener Christmas - Consider some strategies to make the holidays more eco-friendly.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Walloped by winter weather: Ice and snow blanket parts of the country, as severe storms strike from Oregon to Maine. And finding ways to be festive and eco-friendly? The holidays often bring heaping helpings of trash; consider some strategies to cut down on seasonal waste. It is Tuesday, December 16th, and you've found your way to the latest edition of CNN Student News. Thank you for joining us. I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Wicked, Wintry Weather

AZUZ: First up, the weather outside is frightful, and it's wreaking havoc across parts of the U.S.: record-breaking lows in Oregon, avalanches in Utah, a blizzard in North Dakota. But thanks to early warnings, the damage has been somewhat controlled.

LT. ELDON MEHRER, NORTH DAKOTA HIGHWAY PATROL: We've had, luckily, only about four or five calls for service where people have gone into the ditch that have required tow trucks and that sort of thing. So, I think with the amount of fair warning, or forewarning, that we had from the Weather Service and all the weather input, people are actually heeding those warnings and staying put.

AZUZ: Temperatures up in the 50s are helping crews restore power to thousands of residents in the northeast. But they are fighting against time. The mercury is expected to dip well below freezing later this week.

A Word to the Wise


mercury (noun) In addition to being the name of a planet and a Roman god, it's also an element that's used in thermometers to indicate temperature.

Web Promo

AZUZ: Severe weather is striking all over the northern U.S., but what causes these different types of storms, and where are they most likely to occur? Today's Learning Activity challenges students to research a variety of winter weather events and examine how forecasting can help people prepare for them. Check out this free resource at!

Home for the Holidays

AZUZ: You've seen how hard this severe weather has hit residents in the northeast. But imagine how tough it can be for those who don't have a home. According to one organization, about three-quarters of a million Americans are homeless on any given night. Brooke Baldwin explores how one program is trying to turn that statistic around.



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN REPORTER: For many, a bed is simply a place to sleep. For Bridgette Mitchell, this mattress means much more than that.

MITCHELL: It's nice to just be able to get in bed and know my kids are safe and we're together. And it's another one of those things we just really take for granted.

BALDWIN: Looking at this mother of five now, many might never imagine this was once her reality.

MITCHELL: I was just basically in a situation that was do or die.

BALDWIN: The National Coalition for the Homeless estimates there are three-and-a-half million homeless in America. Mitchell was one of them: no money, no job, no bed of her own.

JONATHAN AKUAMOAH, REGIONAL COMMISSION ON HOMELESSNESS: My name's Jonathan. We're just here to help you.

BALDWIN: But groups like the United Way are working to change that. They're taking their mission to the streets in an effort to end chronic homelessness through a Housing First program.

AKUAMOAH: We just want to help you get off the streets and put you in an apartment, and just help you get the help that you need.

BALDWIN: The idea isn't to send someone to a shelter. Instead, thanks to donations, these workers place people like Larry or Mary in an actual apartment. When's the last time you had a hot meal?

MARY YOUNG, HOMELESS: About 4 days ago.

BALDWIN: After the cars are loaded up...

MAN ON THE STREET: I'm ready to go!

BALDWIN: Often, the first stop is here. Once Atlanta's old jail, now this facility functions as the largest homeless service center in the southeast.

PROTIP BISWAS, REGIONAL COMMISSION ON HOMELESSNESS: This used to be a place to hold people. Now, it's a place that sets them free.

BALDWIN: The message is simple: This is not a shelter.

BISWAS: They are not being kicked out early in the morning. They have a case manager that comes and visits them, a full-time nurse, so their medical needs are being met. At the same time, we can address their barriers.

BALDWIN: The goal: get these people treatment for the issues that put them on the street, help them get a job, and eventually, their own apartment. But not everyone wants help. The reality of the situation is, with a lot of people, you may come out here with a team, get them, take them to an apartment. But people like Larry could end up right back here under the I-20 overpass.

AKUAMOAH: Right. We understand and we know not everybody will stay in the programs. If we get 80%, or 8 people to stay out of 10, I think that's huge for us.

BALDWIN: Larry is back on the streets. But Mary and 10 others from this most recent outreach effort has remained in the program, a program that Bridgette Mitchell says saved her life.

MITCHELL: I would just wish everyone, just really pay attention to the stuff around you, because it could be gone so fast. I mean illness, any life-changing event, can just turn the tables on you so quickly. So, just appreciate what you got.

BALDWIN: Bridgette does every night she crawls into bed. Brooke Baldwin, CNN, Atlanta.


Blog Report

AZUZ: Give us all something to think about. Now, after yesterday's show, I asked you on our blog whether first ladies should be paid. Josh says, "Unless the first lady holds an actual position in the Cabinet, she does not deserve pay. She's not required to do anything as first lady, so she should not receive salary." Mr. Owen's classes agreed, saying, "The presidency is a constitutional office; being first lady is not. Besides, we do give first ladies a house, car, airplane, helicopter, Camp David, security..." And Megan Marie suggests "if the president's spouse gets paid, every stay-at-home mom should get paid as well!" But Jessica argues, "Just because first ladies don't get elected doesn't mean they don't work as hard as the president. They work hard and support their husbands and step in when there's a problem..." Emily says, "Even if she wasn't elected for the presidency, the first lady is still serving our country and deserves to be recognized." And Rohan argues, "If it were a man as first lady, he would've been paid years ago." Andrew cracked me up. He said, "First ladies should not get paid. I bet they even get the shoes that are thrown at their husbands," referring, of course, to this little incident that took place in Baghdad over the weekend. If you've got something to say, tell us on our blog!


GERSHON: Time for the Shoutout! The word "deciduous" is often used to describe what? Is it: A) Amphibians, B) Motorcycles, C) Trees or D) Clouds? Ready, set, GO! Deciduous describes something that seasonally sheds, and it often describes trees. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Greener Christmas

AZUZ: Now, most christmas trees are not deciduous. But they are part of the pile that we shed at the end of the season, assuming your tree doesn't stay up until April, like mine always used to do. Think about it: wrapping paper, cards, the tree. The holidays generate a lot of waste. Kara Finnstrom examines how to make a white Christmas a little bit greener.


KARA FINNSTROM, CNN REPORTER: Heaps of waste: It's nothing we want to associate with the holidays. But the government says every holiday season, while we're enjoying all of this, we are also generating more waste than we do during any other month of the year; about 5 million tons more waste. So, step one to greening your holidays is cutting the waste. And we brought you here to a nursery, because one way you can do that is by foregoing the fresh-cut tree and the artificial tree, which will have trouble breaking down when it's ultimately thrown away, and opting for one of these: a potted tree. And joining us now is Tom Johnsey with Armstrong Nursery. What's involved with getting one of these?

TOM JOHNSEY, ARMSTRONG'S GARDEN CENTER: Well, first thing, you want to do a little planning before selecting the tree. You want to know what you are going to do with it afterward. Some of these trees can get quite large. We are looking at an Alepo pine here. We have Monterey pines, some of the smaller ones here. This little dinky guy here is an Italian stone pine. It gets 35-45 feet tall with an equal spread.

FINNSTROM: How popular are these?

JOHNSEY: These have been very popular. The living trees come in right before Thanksgiving, and we typically sell them very quickly before Thanksgiving and through now. We just sold one a couple of minutes ago.

FINNSTROM: Two other ways to cut the waste: Instead of using wrapping paper, put your gifts in decorative, reusable bags, or wrap them in brown paper bags or even your kids' drawings. And consider sending at least some of your holiday greetings by e-cards. The government estimates that every year, enough of these paper holiday cards are sold in the U.S. to fill a football stadium 10 stories high. You'll not only help cut down on the waste, you also save yourself money on cards and postage. Kara Finnstrom for CNN, Los Angeles.


Before We Go

AZUZ: And finally, a holiday tradition that gets 'em howling at the White House. It's Barney's Christmas video! The dog, not the big purple dinosaur. The terrier is taking viewers on a tour of the festivities during his last holidays at the famous home. The first pet has stolen the spotlight in the annual videos for years, wandering the halls, running into celebrities and White House staff, and giving us a ground-level look at all the trees and decorations.



AZUZ: Plus, he can probably sniff out all those hidden presents. We just hope he doesn't leave any of his own. See you tomorrow when CNN Student News returns.

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