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CNN Student News Transcript: January 22, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Discover some of the issues that President Obama addressed on Wednesday
  • Examine expectations for President Obama's role regarding the Middle East
  • Explore the mass migration taking place ahead of the Chinese New Year
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(CNN Student News) -- January 22, 2009

Quick Guide

On the Job - Discover some of the issues that President Obama addressed on Wednesday.

Mideast Challenge - Examine expectations for President Obama's role regarding the Middle East.

Massive Migration - Explore the mass migration taking place ahead of the Chinese New Year.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: From the west to the east with a stop in the middle, today's broadcast spans the globe. Glad to have you along with us. I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: On the Job

AZUZ: First up, welcome to the White House; there are only about a million things to do. Phone calls with world leaders, meetings on the economy and the war in Iraq, signing off on new orders for White House staff: It was kind of a busy day for President Barack Obama and some of his Cabinet nominees. Samantha Hayes wraps up Wednesday's agenda.

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SAMANTHA HAYES, CNN REPORTER: A day of formality and function for President Barack Obama, attending the traditional prayer service at the National Cathedral, and then quickly onto his first duties as commander in chief: the swearing in of top White House staff and signing his first executive orders, aimed at reducing the influence of lobbyists and creating more transparency in government.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known.

HAYES: Then the doors closed for private meetings. Obama was briefed on the economy and met with top military officials. Meantime, Capitol Hill continued to move through Obama's list of Cabinet nominees. Treasury nominee Timothy Geithner addressed his failure to pay more than $34,000 in taxes.

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY DESIGNATE: I've gone back and corrected these errors and paid what I owed.

HAYES: Republicans delayed a committee vote on Obama's pick for attorney general, Eric Holder. They say they want more time to question Holder about his role in a controversial presidential pardon during his time in the Clinton administration.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: I will do my best to discuss these issues with Mr. Holder with a view to seeing him confirmed.

HAYES: And after concerns about donors to her husband's foundation and whether they would pose a conflict of interest, the Senate confirmed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. And there's word that Obama will issue an executive order Thursday demanding that the military prison at Guantanamo Bay be closed within one year. In Washington, I'm Samantha Hayes for CNN Student News.


Blog Report

AZUZ: Surprise, surprise. The economy was far and away the biggest issue you think faces President Obama. That's according to the quick vote on our blog. Jaxon wrote that, "Obama should help the economy first and then turn to health care." Kirk says, "Economy first and then the war next, because the war needs to be taken care of too." Chloe voted for national security, saying, "Without safe borders, nothing else really matters." But Kim felt that way about the environment, writing that, "If we don't start taking care of our planet, nothing else will matter anyway." And Mikayla says Obama's first priority should be "getting a puppy, duh," a promise he made to his two daughters. Our blog is always open at But remember, we can only accept first names, period.

Word to the Wise


diplomatic (adjective) skilled in dealing with sensitive issues, specifically negotiations between different countries


Mideast Challenge

AZUZ: President Obama, like President Bush before him, is hoping to find a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He spoke with leaders on both sides of the issue yesterday. But as Nic Robertson explains, Obama visited the region while he was campaigning and made some statements that people there are hoping he'll make good on now that he's in the Oval Office.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is you with Barack Obama.

ROBERTSON: Pinhas Amer knows President Barack Obama better than most Israelis. Then-candidate Obama visited Pinhas and his rocket damaged house while he was campaigning. Pinhas liked what he saw.

PINHAS AMER, SDEROT RESIDENT: I saw this Obama like I saw in the Bible, like King David, like Moses. He come from...

ROBERTSON: From the people.

AMER: Yes.

ROBERTSON: Since that visit, Pinhas had another near miss: a neighbor's house hit by a rocket fired from Gaza during the three-week war with Hamas. He is happy his government has got a cease-fire, but believes it will take Obama to turn it into lasting Mideast peace. Just six months ago, Barack Obama stood right here in front of all these rockets fired from Gaza and told the Israeli people exactly what they wanted to hear: that America will always support Israel's right to defend itself. Obama went further, making it personal.

OBAMA: If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.

ROBERTSON: Just hours before Obama became the world's most powerful man, the world's top diplomat, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, was following Mr. Obama's footsteps in Sderot. He has his own advice for the new president.

BAN KI-MOON, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: I sincerely hope that President Obama will take as a matter of priority his Middle Eastern policies. As a leader of the world, the United States has a full responsibility to lead this peace process.

ROBERTSON: Which means reaching out amidst Gaza's ruins to Palestinians and their leaders. In Sderot, as in the U.S., now is the time they expect campaign promises to be made good, that daughters be able to sleep safely.

DAVID BOUSKILA, SDEROT MAYOR: He said it in the middle of a campaign when he visited Sderot. I expect from him to do it. Now he is the president, he is the leader of all the world. He can do it.

ROBERTSON: It's a lot for one man, a lot for a president thousands of miles away. Nic Robertson CNN, Sderot, Israel.



RAMSAY: Time for the Shoutout! On the Chinese calendar, this January 26th ushers in the year of the ______? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it the: A) Ox, B) Rat, C) Monkey or D) Dragon? You've got three seconds -- GO! The Year of the Ox officially begins on January 26, 2009. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Massive Migration

AZUZ: China is the most populated country on the planet. With many people hoping to celebrate that new year with their families, that means a lot of folks doing a lot of traveling. But once the holiday's over, some workers who left the big city to head for home are planning to stay put. Emily Chang explores why.


EMILY CHANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Throngs swarm a Beijing train station, many of them migrant workers desperately trying to get home for Chinese New Year. "Need two tickets to Weihan," this sign reads. "I've got to get to inner Mongolia," another man says.

But tickets are selling out fast. "I couldn't get one today," says this woman, "so I'll have to come back tomorrow." Ticket scalpers hoarding tickets are fueling the frenzy. This man hinted he had tickets to multiple destinations, but wanted 100 yuan, or $15 U.S., more per fare. Officials say they've sent teams to search out illegal ticket sellers and have already arrested more than 4,000 scalpers.

As lines get longer, frustrations rise. Officials say 188 million people will be making the long journey home for the holidays. That's more than the population of countries as big as Russia and Japan. Trains leave this station every six minutes, connecting the capital to points across the country. This is China's mass migration in progress.

"I'll be standing on the train for 24 hours," this man says.

If they can't get there by train, the next best option is by bus. But it's an even longer journey, a journey home to families in rural towns some haven't seen for years. An untold number of migrant workers who benefited from boom times in the big cities are carrying their lives on their backs. Now, they can't find jobs because of the global economic crisis, and they may be leaving the cities for the last time.

"I don't know if I'm going to come back," says this migrant. "I might end up working on the farm."

Already, millions more people are traveling this year compared to last year, a sign this mass migration could be more massive than ever before. Emily Chang, CNN, Beijing.


Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go today, we're bringing you a final gaze from a departing president. As he left Washington on Tuesday, the newly former President Bush looked out from his Marine helicopter at the U.S. Capitol. It's hard to say what he was thinking about, but maybe he shared some of those thoughts with his successor. In a White House tradition, the outgoing president left a note for the incoming leader in the Oval Office. What did it say? Only two men know.



AZUZ: Well, it is a job that comes with a lot of state secrets. It's no secret that we'll be back tomorrow. We hope to see you then.

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