(CNN Student News) -- January 14, 2009
Capitol Hill Headlines - Review some of the stories making headlines on Capitol Hill.
Linking Lincoln - Examine why many Americans are fascinated with Abraham Lincoln.
Cell Phone Ban? - Consider a proposal to ban all cell phone use while driving.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Carl Azuz, and you've found your way to this Wednesday edition of CNN Student News. First up, some headlines from Capitol Hill.
AZUZ: One week before President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration, the Senate is holding confirmation hearings for some of his Cabinet picks. Senator Hillary Clinton, the nominee for secretary of state, spoke with the committee yesterday. She addressed the agency's wide-ranging impact, from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to the U.S. policy toward Cuba, and even the role the state department might play in economic issues.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: I assure you that, if I am confirmed, the State Department will be firing on all cylinders to provide forward-thinking, sustained diplomacy in every part of the world; applying pressure wherever it may be needed, but also looking for opportunities; exerting leverage; cooperating with our military and other agencies of government.
AZUZ: Meanwhile, the president-elect is hoping to persuade Congress to support his plan for how to spend the second half of that $700 billion financial bailout. President-elect Obama met with Senate Democrats yesterday to discuss the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. That's what the bailout is officially called. Lawmakers from both parties have expressed concerns about how the Treasury Department spent the first $350 billion.
The country's budget deficit dug a bit deeper in December, expanding by $83.6 billion. That brings the total deficit for the first three months of the 2009 fiscal year to just over $485 billion. The fiscal, or financial year starts in October. Just as a comparison, the budget deficit for the entire 2008 fiscal year was $455 billion. Experts predict the federal deficit will hit $1.2 trillion by next October 1st.
ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! Where does the phrase "government of the people, by the people, for the people" appear? Is it the: A) Declaration of Independence, B) Gettysburg Address, C) U.S. Constitution, or D) Treaty of Versailles? You've got three seconds -- GO! Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address includes that famous phrase. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: It only took about two minutes for President Lincoln to give the Gettysburg Address, but it's become one of the most famous speeches in U.S. history and part of Lincoln's enduring legacy. He went from humble beginnings to the highest office in the land, and Americans, including some of Lincoln's successors, seem to be fascinated with the 16th president. Carol Costello examines this love of Lincoln.
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CAROL COSTELLO, CNN REPORTER: He's a rock star. No, not him. Him. The big man in the stovetop hat is Washington's "it" man. Barack Obama reveres him, opting to use Lincoln's Bible at his inaugural, visiting Lincoln's memorial Saturday in D.C., and speaking of Lincoln's spirit often.
PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: Abraham Lincoln did not simply win a war or hold the union together.
COSTELLO: Even George Bush, in his last news conference as president, spoke of a spiritual bond with Lincoln.
PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: I've been reading a lot about Abraham Lincoln during my presidency. There was some pretty harsh discord when it came to the 16th president, just like there's been harsh discord with the 43rd president.
COSTELLO: Historians say Richard Nixon related to Lincoln too, his sentiments playing out in the movie "Nixon." It's true, Nixon paid a midnight visit to Lincoln's memorial at the height of the Vietnam war, searching for spiritual answers from a dead Civil War president, but finding war protestors instead.
ANTHONY HOPKINS, ACTOR, AS RICHARD NIXON: Hi, I'm Dick Nixon.
COSTELLO: Some historians worry all of this "Lincoln love" is a bit much. Harold Holzer wrote "Lincoln, President-Elect."
HAROLD HOLZER, AUTHOR, LINCOLN, PRESIDENT-ELECT: I worry when presidents try to massage the lessons of history to fit the contours of their own problems and their own reactions.
COSTELLO: While Holzer does not think Barack Obama is guilty of that, others do. Perhaps it began during the campaign when George McGovern introduced Obama in Illinois.
GEORGE MCGOVERN, (D) 1972 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Illinois gave us Abraham Lincoln. That state may now have given us a second Abraham Lincoln.
COSTELLO: Or when artists started to morph Obama's and Lincoln's faces. Meet "Linc-Oma." Or when Obama said a portrait of Lincoln in his office "asks him questions." It prompted former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan to write in the Wall Street Journal: "I'm sure (that Lincoln portrait asks) 'Barack, why are you such an egomaniac?' Or perhaps, 'Is it no longer possible in American politics to speak of another's greatness without suggesting your own?'"
Others give Obama and other Lincoln lovers the benefit of the doubt. Lincoln's history is so rich, so varied, there is something about him we can all relate to. Actually, it seems every American has a fascination with Abraham Lincoln. He is by far the favorite American president ever. And if you check on Amazon.com, there are more than 1,000 books available right now on Abraham Lincoln. Carol Costello, CNN, Washington.
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Is This Legit?
NIVISON: Is this legit? No U.S. state has a total ban on using a cell phone while driving. This one's true. No state has a total ban, although it's against the law to talk on a hand-held phone in several states.
AZUZ: A couple months ago, we aired a report on the potential dangers of texting while driving. Now, one organization is asking lawmakers to signal the end of all cell phone use behind the wheel. The group says it's all in the name of safety, but cell phone companies say they're being singled out unfairly.
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AZUZ: Hang up and drive. The National Safety Council wants to make that much more than a bumper sticker. It's calling for a nationwide law against phoning while driving. No handsets, no bluetooth, no texting: If you're operating a car, you would not be operating a cell phone. The council cited a Harvard study from 2003 that estimated cell phone use on the road contributed to six percent of auto accidents. The council says, "When our friends are drinking, we take the car keys away. It's time to take the cell phone away."
You can guess where the cell phone industry stands on this: They don't like it. And many Americans wouldn't either. According to Nationwide Insurance, more than 80 percent of U.S. drivers say they've used the phone while behind the wheel. A spokesman for wireless association CTIA says, "We believe there can be safe, sensible, responsible [cell phone] use for a brief period of time." CTIA also believes that cell phones are taking too much of the blame over other distractions, like eating, fiddling with the radio, getting distracted with passengers or reading.
But the Safety Council says none of these distractions is as dangerous as talking on a phone. Currently, the group notes that it's illegal in six states to use a hand-held cell phone while behind the wheel. But no state has a total ban on phoning while driving. And the council admits this won't be a very popular idea among governments and politicians, meaning a cell phone ban could be an extremely tough call to make.
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AZUZ: So what do you drivers out there think of this? Would you hang up and drive? Tell us on our blog at CNNStudentNews.com!
Meanwhile, a few of you, ok a few hundred of you commented on yesterday's dance-off between me and CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. I'm happy to say I had a hundred percent of the vote, 'til we found out the thing was broken. But your comments told the truth. Austin said, "Carl, you've won. Just don't ever do that in front of the nation again." Gunnar thought I was the best dancer, and asked whether I did that backstage or out in public. It was totally backstage, when I thought no one was recording.
Veronica asked what I did with the money my mom gave me for dance lessons. Thanks, Veronica. Adam wrote, "When Carl busted a move, I busted a gut!" Alex claims he's got moves just like mine, which is probably pretty scary. Ms. Steadman's class says, "Well, actually, Ellen DeGeneres had the best moves." And Chuck said, "Carl's hips don't lie. Shakira's do."
Before We Go
AZUZ: Sticking with that musical theme for today's before we go, do you remember these guys? That would be a group of students from Atlanta's Ron Clark Academy, whose presidential campaign-inspired rap landed them in the national spotlight and on our show. Well, they're taking their act on the road. Next stop, Washington, D.C., where some of the pint-size performers will take the stage at several inaugural ball events with their new number, "Dear Obama."
AZUZ: We're just not quite sure who that one's about, but we are sure that we'll be back tomorrow. Hope to see you then.