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CNN Student News Transcript: January 20, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Check out some headlines from the holiday weekend in Washington, D.C.
  • Learn about a tense truce between Israeli forces and Hamas militants
  • Explore some of the traditions of the U.S. presidential inauguration
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(CNN Student News) -- January 20, 2009

Quick Guide

Inauguration Headlines - Check out some headlines from the holiday weekend in Washington, D.C.

Mideast Troops Withdraw - Learn about a tense truce between Israeli forces and Hamas militants.

Inaugural History - Explore some of the traditions of the U.S. presidential inauguration.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: We're back from the long weekend and ready to get going with this Tuesday edition of CNN Student News. I'm Carl Azuz. First up on this Inauguration Day, some inaugural headlines.

First Up: Inauguration Headlines

AZUZ: The official ceremony takes place today, but the inauguration festivities began over the weekend as hundreds of thousands of people braved the cold weather and gathered in the nation's capital for events leading up to today's swearing-in ceremony. On Sunday, the crowds came out for the "We Are One" concert, featuring artists like Bruce Springsteen, Usher and Sheryl Crow. The performance took place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the same spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963.

Downloadable Maps

Of course yesterday, the country honored the life and work of the civil rights leader. Many people, including President-elect Barack Obama, did so by getting involved with some of the 12,000 service projects taking place across the country. The president-elect spent part of his day helping out with renovations at a Washington-area shelter for homeless teens. He urged Americans to help those in need by participating in the MLK Day of Service and spoke about the benefits of the event.

PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: This country is great because of its people. And when all of our people are engaged and involved in making their community better, then we can accomplish anything.

AZUZ: And finally, today's inauguration marks the end of President George W. Bush's time in the Oval Office. He spent his last full day in the White House making calls to fellow world leaders, offering his farewells to presidents and prime ministers that he's worked with during the past eight years. President Bush was scheduled to take part in a reception for current and former members of his administration last night. He and first lady Laura Bush are expected to leave Washington for Texas today following the inauguration.

Web Promo

AZUZ: Won't be a near a TV today? No problem! You can watch the entire inauguration at Live! From the morning's parade to the evening's parties, check out all of the inaugural festivities and watch as Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. Plus, use our One-Sheet and Learning Activity to expand your inaugural experience. You'll find those free resources in the Spotlight section on!

Word to the Wise


impede (verb) to interfere with or slow the progress of something


Mideast Troops Withdraw

AZUZ: Humanitarian agencies are hoping to be unimpeded in their efforts to reach victims of the recent fighting in Gaza, now that both Israelis and Palestinians have declared a cease-fire. Both sides made separate announcements after weeks of clashes between Israeli forces and Hamas militants inside the Palestinian territory. Nic Robertson has the latest details on the situation.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Israel's army has pulled back. In the fields outside Gaza, tanks and artillary crowd the hillside, ready for a complete withdrawal. Some reservists are already leaving combat; all troops, according to a Foreign Ministry official, could be out of Gaza by President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration, 7 p.m. Israel time Tuesday.

It's an uneasy truce right now. It's almost silent up here overlooking Gaza. All you can hear is the drone of the Israeli surveillance aircraft looking down on the streets monitoring what's going on. At the border, Israel's newly apppointed, post-conflict humanitarian coordinator has opened a health center to help Palestinians. The government's message that despite so many hundreds of civilian deaths and reports of thousands of injuries in Gaza, they want to help the people.

ISAAC HERZOG, MINISTER OF SOCIAL AFFAIRS AND SERVICES: We've increased dramatically the amount of inflow of trucks of humanitarian goods and services, including food, medical supplies and the like there.

ROBERTSON: At border cossings, a more complex picture is emerging. Humanitarian help is not getting through the way aid agencies say it needs to.

CASSANDRA NELSON, MERCY CORP: Mercy Corps and the other colleague agencies that we work with closely are not experiencing this at all. And we're very frustrated and really, you know, demanding unimpeded access for humanitarian aid workers.

ROBERTSON: After three weeks of bombardment, aid officials estimate tens of thousands are displaced, most of the 1.5 million people in need of food assistance. Getting help in fast is critical.

NELSON: There are reports that over 4,000 homes have been destroyed and about 20,000 have been severely damaged. So, these people need plastic sheeting and material so they can fix their homes.

ROBERTSON: The army says it needs to be cautious and see if Hamas will hold the ceasefire.

CPT. DORON SPIELMAN, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCE SPOKESMAN: As the quiet continues, we'll be able to open up the border with more security. Let's not forget that every time we've had a lull in our fighting to enable humanitarian aid to go through, we've been hit with mortars and rockets. We've even seen contraband going through with those supplies.

ROBERTSON: For now in Gaza, no bombs dropping is almost relief enough, and the aid that is getting through so far, more than 130 trucks this day according to the Israel Defense Force, welcome help. On the Israeli side of the border, troops relax, reflect on the conflict, enjoy their first day without rockets for almost four weeks. Nic Robertson, CNN, on the Israel-Gaza border.



NIVISON: Time for the Shoutout! Who was the first U.S. president to take the inaugural oath from his father? Was it: A) John Quincy Adams, B) Calvin Coolidge, C) Franklin D. Roosevelt or D) George W. Bush? You've got three seconds -- GO! In 1923, Calvin Coolidge took the oath from his father, a justice of the peace. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Inaugural History

AZUZ: Most presidents have been sworn in by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. But President Coolidge's choice to have his father swear him into office isn't the only inaugural adjustment. In fact, there's not a whole lot about the inauguration that's actually required by law. Still, every president for nearly 220 years has taken part in the tradition, even as it's made some significant changes.


AZUZ: Inauguration Day was a lot warmer for our first president than our 44th. Then again, Washington wasn't in Washington when he took the oath of office. He was in New York at the end of April, and it took him 57 days to get there from New Jersey! Things moved slower back in the day. For many years, the inauguration was scheduled for March 4th, giving electors four months to travel to the capital after Election Day.

U.S. PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!

AZUZ: Shortly after Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in 1933, though, Congress ratified the 20th Amendment. That scheduled I-Day for January 20th, and it still goes.

U.S. PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: I solemnly swear...

AZUZ: You can thank the Constitution for that phrase. The 35-word oath of office is the only part of the inauguration required by law. The words at the end, "So help me God," were added by Mr. Washington himself, because he was so moved by the honor of the presidency. Everyone since him has said it, even though it's not required.

U.S. PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY: Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.

AZUZ: As far as the inauguration speech goes, it is strictly tradition. Our first president gave the shortest at 135 words. Our ninth, William Henry Harrison, gave the longest at almost 8,500 words. But that didn't work out so well: It was bitterly cold when Harrison gave it, and he died a month later of pneumonia, likely brought on during Inauguration Day. But traditionally, this is a time to celebrate. And the parades and inaugural ball events you see today are as old as the U.S. presidency itself.


iReport Promo

AZUZ: Enough about inaugural history. We want to hear your thoughts on today's event. So, turn on those video cameras and send us an iReport! The ceremony, speeches, parade or parties: Let us know what you thought about any or all of it. Just remember to get your parents' permission first. Then head to to submit your videos.

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, a London gym is trying out some new equipment. Don't you just hate it when you're trying to get in a workout and some guy jumps on your back? Actually, that's the point at GymBox. The facility has replaced some of its weights with people! The human helpers range from 66 to 341 pounds. The owner came up with the idea to help customers visualize what they're lifting.



AZUZ: Just one more way for folks to watch their weight. You guys have a great day. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.

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