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CNN Student News Transcript: January 12, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Review today's headlines, from Gaza to a gubernatorial impeachment
  • Examine the findings of a recent survey about illiteracy in the U.S.
  • Follow one marching band's journey from Georgia to Washington, D.C.
  • Next Article in Living »
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(CNN Student News) -- January 12, 2009

Quick Guide

Headlines - Review today's headlines, from Gaza to a gubernatorial impeachment.

Illiterate in America - Examine the findings of a recent survey about illiteracy in the U.S.

Playing for the President - Follow one marching band's journey from Georgia to Washington, D.C.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Hi there. Hope you had a great weekend. I'm Carl Azuz, and we're ready to kick off a brand new week of CNN Student News. First up today, the headlines.

First Up: Headlines

AZUZ: Israeli operations in Gaza may be coming to an end. A defense official says its two-week assault on the territory could be in its final days after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution calling for a cease-fire. Israel's goal was to stop Hamas militants from firing rockets into the country; more than a dozen were launched into Israel on Sunday alone.

Emergency personnel are searching for victims of last Thursday's earthquake in Costa Rica. As of Saturday, 34 people had been killed by the magnitude 6.1 quake, and 64 others were missing.

Back in the U.S., Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich is vowing to fight after the Illinois House of Representatives voted to impeach him on Friday. Federal officials arrested him last month on several charges. Among the allegations, that he tried to get money or favors for appointing someone to Barack Obama's Senate seat. Blagojevich says he's not guilty of any impeachable offense. The question of whether to remove him from office now moves to the Illinois state senate.

Downloadable Maps

Meanwhile, Roland Burris, the man Blagojevich appointed to fill Illinois' open U.S. Senate seat, may be able to join that legislative body. He was barred from the Senate last week, partly because his appointment wasn't certified by the Illinois secretary of state. But the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that Burris doesn't need the certification. Senate Democrats are examining the issue.

And King Nut is issuing a total recall of its peanut butter products after salmonella was found in an open tub. The CDC is investigating a widespread outbreak of the disease. Around 400 people in 42 states have been infected, dating back to last September.

A Word to the Wise


literacy (noun) the ability to read and write


Illiterate in America

AZUZ: The National Center For Education Statistics takes that definition one step further. It says literacy means using printed and written information to function in society, develop your knowledge and potential, and achieve your goals. So, it's understandable why a new study by the group says that people who are illiterate will face many more challenges throughout their lives. Lisa Sylvester reports on the findings.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Washington, D.C., adults, many of them in their 40s and 50s, are learning to read for the first time. One out seven adults in the United States lacks basic literacy skills. What that means is they cannot read a sentence or comprehend even the most basic paragraph in English. The extensive survey was done by researchers at the Department of Education, who followed a large cross-section of Americans from 1992 to 2003. Why are so many unable to read in the United States, a first world country that mandates public education for children?

DAVID HARVEY, PROLITERACY: Why so high? Three reasons: Young people who drop out of high schools; failing schools, people with learning disabilities which may be undiagnosed in some circumstances, and immigration.

SYLVESTER: The states with the highest illteracy rates are California, 23 percent; Florida, 20 percent; New York, 22 percent; and the District of Columbia and Texas, both at 19 percent. Literacy experts say those who can't read often struggle to find jobs. If they do find work, they are among the lowest paid. And illiteracy is a cycle that perpetuates itself. Parents who are illiterate are unable to read to their children and not able to teach them basic reading skills.

RITA DANIELS, EXEC. DIRECTOR, LITERACY VOLUNTEERS: Based on what we know now, we will be the first generation whose children are less educated than we are, less smart than we are, because we failed them. So what it means for our nation is that we have children who we are rearing who will need tremendous help in order to be successful adults.

SYLVESTER: U.S. workers have to be globally competitive, but it's becoming tougher to keep up with so many adults unable to read and write. This report for the first time offers data on the county level. Researchers and educators can now identify precisely where to direct resources. Some states have made significant progress since the last report in 1992. Missisissippi decreased its illiteracy rate from 25 percent to 16 percent by making a concerted effort to push education and to bring that rate down. Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.



RAMSAY: Time for the Shoutout! The mellophone is a marching band version of what instrument? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it the: A) Clarinet, B) French horn, C) Tuba or D) Bassoon? You've got three seconds -- GO! The mellophone is similar to the French horn in musical range, but its horn faces forward. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Playing for the President

AZUZ: When President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural parade rolls down Pennsylvania Avenue, he'll be accompanied by mellophones, clarinets and percussionists a-plenty. After all, what would a parade be without some marching bands? Around 1,400 of them applied to take part in the festivities. As Brooke Baldwin tells us, for one, South Cobb High School in Georgia, just getting to the inauguration was an incredible journey.


ZACH COGDILL, BAND DIRECTOR, SOUTH COBB HIGH SCHOOL: So with that, we start our program. Here we go.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN REPORTER: Just a few years ago, the South Cobb High School Blue Eagle Marching Band was admittedly not too impressive: only thirty members and leadership was hard to find. Then came Zach Cogdill, a young man with a vision, a dream and drive.

KAMERON CRUTCHER, SENIOR BAND MEMBER: We used to get bad reviews all the time. But since Mr. Cogdill's been here and we've grown so much, the school is actually responding to us.

COGDILL: This was our second competition.

BALDWIN: Now, the band has more than 70 members. And this year, they hit some very high notes, winning trophies everywhere they went.

COGDILL: You know, we're proud to have these here. But for me, these are memories about what our kids did.

BALDWIN: But Cogdill and his ensemble had some obstacles to overcome as well.

COGDILL: In some cases, I had kids who had to live with another band parent. I know that some of my students had their utilities cut off for weeks at a time. But at the end of the day, that student and that parent comes in here, and we work to afford them the same opportunity that they're going to have at any other school. And they start to see hope.

BALDWIN: The Georgia high school football season is over, but band season marches on. Next appearance? The nation's capital, Washington, D.C. Their musical talents have them marching toward a prestigious performance: the historic 56th presidential inaugural parade.

COGDILL: There will not be yard lines on Pennsylvania Avenue.

DANA SHERER, SENIOR DRUM MAJOR: I swear, he's the the only one who believed in us from the beginning. And now he's here, and I think we all owe it to him.

BALDWIN: But can they afford this rendevous with history? The road trip and hotel stay won't be cheap. According to the school's principal, the cost: $1,000 per band member. Grand total: $70,000!

GRANT RIVERA, SOUTH COBB PRINCIPAL: The very next morning, a band kid walked past me on her way to first period class. I grabbed her and hugged her and said, "Aren't you excited?" She looked at me and her expression on her face didn't change one bit, and she said, "I'm not going." And I said, "Why?" And she said, "I can't afford it."

DJ, Q100 RADIO STATION: They hit the lottery! They just hit the lottery!

BALDWIN: But thanks to a fundraising effort by local media, she and her bandmates can now afford it. Donations quickly started flowing in from local businesses, other schools and celebrities. Within days, the community raised $110,000, more than enough to participate in this presidential parade.

RIVERA: The story of our band is not just about the D.C. trip. The story is about the way in which they've grown. And now the story of our band will be the way in which they give back.

BALDWIN: Seems to me you're above and beyond teaching music; you're teaching life.

COGDILL: Yeah, we're teaching life every day.

BALDWIN: By instilling hope in his students, whose lives outside this bandroom may have seemed hopeless.

COGDILL: So proud.

BALDWIN: Brooke Baldwin, CNN, Atlanta.


Web Promo

AZUZ: You might not be able to take part in the inauguration, but you can learn all about the event with our One-Sheet, and our Learning Activity sends students on a scavenger hunt for inaugural trivia. These free resources are coming soon to!

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, uncovering the past of America's pasttime. Among the boxes scattered around Bernice and her husband Al's antique store, the couple recently made a truly rare find: a baseball card, the first one ever made. Originally, they put it up on eBay for about ten bucks. But they decided to cancel that and hold off for a while once experts told them the card could be auctioned for about six figures.



AZUZ: Making this a real baseball diamond in the rough. Swing and a miss! For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.

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