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CNN Student News Transcript: January 26, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Examine the impact of the economic crisis on the Chinese New Year
  • Explore the need for letter writers in the country of Afghanistan
  • Discover how a 73-year-old student made college basketball history
  • Next Article in Living »
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(CNN Student News) -- January 26, 2009

Quick Guide

Unhappy New Year? - Examine the impact of the economic crisis on the Chinese New Year.

Afghan Letters- Explore the need for letter writers in the country of Afghanistan.

Old School Hoopster - Discover how a 73-year-old student made college basketball history.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Well, it's the first day of the last week of January and we thank you for kicking it off with CNN Student News. I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Unhappy New Year?

AZUZ: First up, the global economic crisis hangs over the festivities as China ushers in the Year of the Ox. The Chinese calendar, which is based on the moon, turned the page today. Normally, it's a time of celebration for the world's most populated nation. But with the country's economy struggling, like many others around the world, some people are wondering just how happy this Chinese new year will be. John Vause explores their concerns.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the stroke of midnight, China welcomed in the Lunar New Year. According to tradition, the noise of the fireworks scares away the evil spirits. But many here have already been spooked by a more earthly, frightening reality: a quickly slowing economy, rising unemployment and fears the Year of the Ox may be more bear than bull.

WOMAN ON STREET: We think it's going to be a tough year, but we're going to make it through.

VAUSE: Almost everywhere, it seems, there is more pessimism than celebration, and fear of worse to come. This couple in China's south borrowed big, about $8,000 U.S., to open a store next to a factory. But when the factory recently went bust, so too did they.

GONG XINFEI, STORE OWNER [TRANSLATED]: "If this factory opens again, it will be good," he says. "Nothing else, only if this factory can get back to work again."

VAUSE: In recent months, more than 70,000 factories nationwide have reportedly closed, and millions have lost their jobs. But China's economic picture, say analysts, isn't entirely bleak.

PAUL CAVEY, MACQUARIE SECURITIES: Consumer sentiment has worsened, but it hasn't shattered. There's a softening, but there's not a shattering, which is reasonably good news.

VAUSE: The days leading up to this holiday are as close as China gets to a Christmas shopping spree, and this Beijing Wal-Mart and most other department stores are offering discounts to keep cautious customers spending.

VAUSE: "I think I'll be buying less this year," says this woman, "because the economic crisis might mean I'll earn less money, so I should be careful about what I buy."

VAUSE: The Chinese believe a new year is a time for new beginnings, a chance to put the worst behind them and start again. But in a collision of hope and reality, officials here warn the economy will get worse before it gets better, and there may not be any meaningful recovery before 2010, the Year of the Tiger. John Vause, CNN, Beijing.


Word to the Wise


parliamentarian (noun) someone who is a member of a parliamentary government


Afghan Letters

AZUZ: If you want to voice your opinion about something to your parliamentarian -- or in our case, your senator or congressperson -- you can always write a letter. But what if you don't know how to write? Not a big problem here, but it is for more than half the population of Afghanistan. As Atia Abawi explains, one group of people is eager to help.


ATIA ABAWI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a world of BlackBerrys, text messaging and e-mails, many Afghans still rely on letter writers. In cities across Afghanistan, men sit on small stools with papers and applications, ready for business. And business is booming: 72 percent of the country is illiterate, making this pen a powerful tool.

What they just told me is that they come here because no one in their family knows how to read and write. One woman just told me that she does have a son in the 5th grade; he is the only one getting somewhat of an education. But right now, they have to rely on the letter writers here to get what they need to be done for their family completed. There are a variety of reasons why Afghans come to the letter writers, and in today's new democracy, many are practicing their new freedom of speech.

He actually just came here because he is getting a letter written because he is not happy with his parliamentarian. He says that his parliamentarian is very lazy and he's not doing anything for his area. So, he is getting this letter written and handing it to the governor so there can be some kind of change to where he lives and where he works; he's a store owner. I ask the men, "If the country gets educated won't it be bad for business?"

So, I've heard two different things right now. This gentleman next to me said even if it does ruin business, he doesn't care as long as Afghanistan gets educated. This gentleman right here just told me that, you know, even if people get educated, he has high schoolers, he has college students, he even has doctors coming to him. That no matter what, their business will still be running because they know how to write these letters, they know how to write the applications. So no matter what, they want Afghanistan to be educated, because they know that their business will be here throughout the years, like it has been throughout the centuries. Mohammad Arif compares writing to construction: "Anyone can lay bricks," he says, "but you still need the cement to keep the structure solid." Atia Abawi, CNN, Kabul.



RAMSAY: Time for the Shoutout! Who is credited with inventing the game of basketball? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) James Naismith, B) Abner Doubleday, C) George Mikan, or D) Walt Frazier? You've got three seconds -- GO! James Naismith invented the game in 1891 when he was a P.E. director at the YMCA. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Old School Hoopster

AZUZ: From James Naismith to Jerry West, Michael Jordan to Lebron James, basketball has grown from those humble beginnings to become one of the most popular games on the planet. Ken Mink recently added a new chapter to the sport's history. Ray D'Alessio introduces us to this college player, who's listed as a senior both on and off the roster.



RAY D'ALESSIO, CNN REPORTER: By his own accounts, Ken Mink was a pretty good college basketball player.

KEN MINK, 73-YEAR-OLD COLLEGE BASKETBALL PLAYER: I scored 21 points in my opening game in college.

D'ALESSIO: That was in 1956, Mink's freshman season at Lee's College in Jackson, Kentucky. That same year, someone doused the coach's office and shoes with shaving cream. School officials didn't find the prank funny.

MINK: President Landoff said that we had someone who said they saw you in that area or coming out of his office or something like that. And he said, "You're outta here."

D'ALESSIO: Over a half-century later, the now 73-year-old Mink maintains his innocence as well as the desire to settle some unfinished business. While shooting baskets in a neighbor's driveway, Mink decided to give college basketball another try. After contacting eight schools and getting no response, he was about to give up hope when the phone rang. It was Roane State Community College basketball coach Randy Nesbit.

RANDY NESBIT, ROANE STATE HEAD BASKETBALL COACH: We can help somebody like Ken reach a goal that he had, kinda give him closure to something that's bugged him for a couple of years. No, actually, 53 years it's bugged him.

D'ALESSIO: At first, teammates treated him with kid gloves. But soon after, Ken became one of the guys.

KEITH BAUER, KEN'S TEAMMATE: We think it's hilarious having a 73-year-old talk about some of the stuff like I would talk about with a teammate, and some of the stuff that, you know, most of the times around an elder you wouldn't talk about .

RENARD FLOWERS, KEN'S TEAMMATE: We'll catch him with his shorts pulled up, up to his stomach, you know, trying to make them a little shorter, you know.

MINK: They asked me if I could dunk one day and I said, "Yeah! A dunkin donut." That's the only thing I can dunk, you know.

D'ALESSIO: On November 3rd, Mink became the oldest player to ever score in a college game. His story has resulted in numerous talk show appearances, and there's even some discussion of a possible movie.

MINK: I've gotten hundreds of responses from people from around the country and around the world actually, from six different countries that have contacted me about, you know, I'm an inspiration for them and they are taking a new attitude toward aging because of that.

D'ALESSIO: Athough his playing days at Roane State are coming to a close, technicially, Ken still has 2 years of college eligibility remaining. And while he's already reached the majority of the goals he set for himself, Ken says he welcomes the chance to continue his inspirational story at another school. Ray D'Alessio, CNN, Harriman, Tennessee.


Blog Promo

AZUZ: So, Ken's teammates treated him lightly at first. But what about his opponents? If you're assigned to guard Mr. Mink, do you take it easy on him or play all out? That's what we're asking on our blog. What's the right thing to do, and what would you do? Head to; tell us what you think.

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, a frosty response to one student's promotional skills, which is exactly what he was hoping for. The University of Wisconsin campus broke out in an airborne display of frigid fun this weekend when hundreds of students showed up to square off in a massive snowball fight. The flurry-ous activity didn't break any world records, but the organizer guesses about 2,000 people turned out to participate, all from seeing his ad on Facebook.



AZUZ: The impact of these social networking sites has really snowballed. We're gonna leave for today. You guys have a great one, I'm Carl Azuz.

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