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CNN Student News Transcript: February 2, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Hear how Kentucky officials are responding to deadly winter weather
  • Explore why President Obama is focusing on America's middle class
  • Discover how a new voice is helping Japanese students learn English
  • Next Article in Living »
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(CNN Student News) -- February 2, 2009

Quick Guide

Kentucky Storm - Hear how Kentucky officials are responding to deadly winter weather.

The Middle Class - Explore why President Obama is focusing on America's middle class.

Teaching English - Discover how a new voice is helping Japanese students learn English.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Happy Groundhog Day! No matter what our friend Punxsutawney Phil predicts, you're in for four more months of CNN Student News! So thanks for sticking with us. From the CNN Center, I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Kentucky Storm

Downloadable Maps

AZUZ: First up, National Guard troops go door-to-door in Kentucky to check on victims of severe winter weather. Ice and snow storms slammed the state last week, claiming at least seven lives in Kentucky and leaving hundreds of thousands of residents without power. 92 of the state's 120 counties have declared an emergency in the wake of what the governor calls "the biggest natural disaster" in the modern history of Kentucky. As emergency crews work to get power restored, 4,600 National Guard troops are taking part in the relief efforts. The governor says he called them up "to ensure the safety and well-being" of Kentucky's citizens. He believes the recovery process will require even more personnel.

GOV. STEVE BESHEAR, (D) KENTUCKY: We are in for a long haul here, and we are going to need the manpower that's exhibited by these 4,600 guard men and women, in addition to everybody that's out there, both from local officials to law enforcement, to the private organizations such as the American Red Cross and others.

AZUZ: Susan Candiotti visits one Kentucky neighborhood to view the effects of this storm.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN REPORTER: Kentucky's troubles started with all the snow that fell here, six, seven, eight inches in many parts of the state. But then they had an ice storm, and that created another kind of problem: the weight of many of the icicles hanging on trees, on power lines, snapping trees in two. So, we're giving you a look through one neighborhood to see the kinds of problems that that has created. You see all kinds of branches down here; you can see treetops now where you couldn't before. This neighborhood has just been ruined, and now you've got power lines down, as well. That is why the governor of Kentucky has asked for help from several states. This particular utility crew is from Georgia, and they are replacing the power lines here. They've got a lot of work ahead of them. Some people who live in metropolitan Louisville have managed to tough it out at home. Some of them have gas heat, just no power, but they are managing to get by.

JOHN STONE, JEFFERSON COUNTY, KENTUCKY RESIDENT: We're better off than the next door neighbor who everything's on electricity. At least we have hot water, our stove is gas, and we have heat, which is also gas. So, we just don't have power.

CANDIOTTI: How long will it take to restore power to everyone in Kentucky? Well, it's hard to say, but the early estimates are anywhere from seven to 10 days. It could be a little bit more, it could be a little bit less.


Word to the Wise


class (noun) It's not just where you're sitting right now; it also means a group of people who share the same economic or social status


The Middle Class

AZUZ: President Barack Obama is putting together a task force aimed at helping America's middle class, people who he says have been hit hard by the economic crisis. The White House says that the team will focus on the issues that matter most to families, and they've set up a Web site for where the public can offer its own ideas. Dan Lothian explores the new administration's focus on this group of Americans.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN REPORTER: Another blow to America's middle class: a shrinking economy, the worst in almost three decades.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This isn't just an economic concept. This is a continuing disaster for America's working families.

LOTHIAN: As President Obama signed executive orders that he says levels the playing field between labor unions and employers, he reached out to what he calls the backbone of the country: middle class families, people White House spokesman Robert Gibbs suggested the Bush administration ignored.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think one of the critiques that the president had of the previous administration was a tendency to help those that already had done quite well.

LOTHIAN: But Obama says the middle class is in desperate need of help; losing their jobs and homes, unable to afford college tuition for their kids. The American dream in reverse.

OBAMA: When I talk about the middle class, I'm talking about folks who are currently in the middle class, but also people who aspire to be in the middle class. We're not forgetting the poor.

LOTHIAN: Vice President Biden will lead a new middle class task force, looking at creating green jobs, making retirement more secure and child and elder care more affordable.

U.S. VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Quite simply, a strong middle class, in our view, equals a strong America.

LOTHIAN: Obama has long focused on the middle class, a frequent theme on the campaign trail.

OBAMA: Middle class families have the kinds of quality of life that has always been the hallmark of the American dream.

LOTHIAN: But beyond setting up a Web site, holding high level meetings and going on a national listening tour, will this task force get the middle class closer to the help they need? Gibbs says yes.

GIBBS: I think the beginning of that is in this recovery and reinvestment plan, to ensure that the tax cuts that are contained in it are focused towards those that need it the most.

LOTHIAN: As the president pushes the stimulus plan, senior administration officials say next week the president is expected to unveil a comprehensive plan that looks at the financial system; what went wrong, what needs to be changed. It's also expected to include a crackdown on those Wall Street bonuses. Dan Lothian, CNN, The White House.


I.D. Me

RAMSAY: See if you can I.D. Me! I'm an island nation that's home to more than 127 million people. I'm located in eastern Asia to the east of the Korean Peninsula. I'm known as the Land of the Rising Sun. I'm Japan, and my official language is, you guessed it, Japanese!

Teaching English

AZUZ: Not too much of a surprise there. But Japanese students do study other languages in school, just like you guys might take Spanish or German. For many people, the best way to learn a language is to hear it spoken. So, some Japanese English teachers are turning to a well-known speaker for assistance, someone you might be pretty familiar with. Kyung Lah reveals the voice that's helping the Land of the Rising Sun learn English.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In this high school English class in suburban Tokyo, the teacher is relying on an outside voice.

OBAMA: The world is watching what we do here.

LAH: You may have heard of him.

OBAMA: The world is paying attention.

STUDENT: The world is paying attention.

OBAMA: We say, we hope, we believe.

STUDENT: Yes we can!

LAH: Their textbook is an English language book and CD set featuring the speeches of Barack Obama. The students mimic his speaking style and take grammar quizzes from the president's election night victory speech in Chicago's Grant Park.

OBAMA: It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

ASATO MAEJIMA, STUDENT [TRANSLATED]: The way he speaks is different from us.

LAH: Their teacher says that difference is inspiring them to learn English. The book isn't just a hit in high schools. It's a bestseller across Japan, a nation that's embraced guides on learning English with gusto, but never like this. This book has sold so well that the publisher has followed it up with a sequel, this one featuring the president's inaugural address. This one is #1 on Japan's version of Amazon, this one is #2, based on book reservations alone.

OBAMA: Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real.

YAMAMOTO YUZO, ASAHI PRESS, DIRECTOR [TRANSLATED]: "People wrote us letters saying they were moved and they cried," says the publisher. "Obama is giving Americans hope, and Japanese people feel it as well."

LAH: Japan's own lawmakers, quite a bit more subdued than the American president. Most readers don't understand all the words, but the publisher says the speeches still manage to capture the Japanese imagination.

OBAMA: Yes, we can.

SHIZUKA ENDO, TEACHER [TRANSLATED]: "It's not just English," says this teacher, "it's communication."

LAH: Beyond language, and proving beyond borders. Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.


Facebook Promo

AZUZ: Well, it finally happened. I'm officially on Facebook! And if you are too, you can become a fan on our official Facebook page. Just search "Carl Azuz, CNN Student News official" -- the "official" is the key -- and you can write on the wall, participate in polls, you can even check out some pictures from our production studio as well as candid captures of yours truly. Plus, the discussion board gives you guys the opportunity to sound off on all sorts of topics. One of my favorites: Just how awesome are Fridays? So, log on and become a fan today! It's the only official Facebook home of your CNN Student News host; Heaven help us all! We'll look forward to seeing you guys there.

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, a lot of backyards have a slide, but not like this one! This slippery slope is made entirely out of ice! John has built his backyard luge course for seven years in a row. Each time, it gets a little bit bigger. This year's snowy slide stands at more than two stories tall! He says it took him about 14 days combined to constuct the monster course.



AZUZ: Two weeks? What a luger. That precipitous drop takes us off course. You guys have a great one, I'm Carl Azuz.

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