(CNN Student News) -- February 10, 2009
The Ripple Effect - Examine the ripple effects as many Americans cut back on spending.
Toxic Toys? - Consider how safety concerns could impact secondhand toy retailers.
Real Guitar Hero - Hear how a Texas teen claimed the title as the ultimate Guitar Hero.
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, I'm Carl Azuz. If you've ever played Guitar Hero, we've got a great story for you today on CNN Student News. But first things first!
First Prime-time Speech
AZUZ: A prime-time press conference for President Obama, his first one since moving in to the Oval Office. No surprise, the economy took center stage in last night's address. The president made the case for his $838 billion dollar stimulus plan, which the Senate could vote on later today. He believes the country can't afford to wait.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The federal government is the only entity left with the resources to jolt our economy back to life. It is only government that can break the vicious cycle where lost jobs lead to people spending less money which leads to even more layoffs. And breaking that cycle is exactly what the plan that's moving through Congress is designed to do.
AZUZ: The economic crisis is being felt across the country. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are losing their jobs, and according to a new survey, 25 percent of companies plan to freeze employee pay. With times like this, many people are looking for ways to cut back. But what happens to the industries that depend on people spending money? Jessica Yellin explores the ripple effects.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN REPORTER: The first ripple hit Erica Allen two weeks ago. She was laid off from her job with an interior design firm in Virginia. People are cutting back on home improvements.
ERICA ALLEN, INTERIOR DESIGNER: Interior design work is kinda slow, so I'm looking for other options.
YELLIN: She is young, in debt, trying to be positive, but she's worried about her mortgage, paying her bills, her money.
ALLEN: Not going out to eat. Not going to any kind of entertainment now. Didn't go see the new Underworld movie.
YELLIN: You wanted to?
YELLIN: Her cutbacks are rippling out. Look at local restaurants.
YELLIN: How much is business off?
EPIONNE KAPPATOS, RESTAURANT OWNER: Maybe 15%, I would say.
YELLIN: That is a big chunk.
YELLIN: Is that your profit?
KAPPATOS: I guess so, yeah.
KAPPATOS: We did not let anybody go yet. We hope for the best.
YELLIN: But to be safe, this restaurant owner is saving money eating at home.
KAPPATOS: Well, we don't eat out a lot. We just watch a lot of TV.
YELLIN: Another ripple: If you're not working, like Erica, you cut back on dry cleaning.
YELLIN: How is business now?
JAY YANG, CLEANERS OWNER: Very slow, too bad.
YELLIN: Down how much?
YANG: More than 20%.
YELLIN: Remember Erica's decision to cut back on movies? Here's the ripple: She's not alone. Companies that make movies and gadgets have been hard hit. The Sony Corporation has seen its value drop more than 50% in the last six months. And you've got to wonder how this is hitting the supermarket, with changes like this:
ALLEN: Well, not buying shrimp, salmon, really healthy, yummy foods like that. More just Tony's pizza, and just kind of off brands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AZUZ: Alright, switching gears now. Kyle wrote on our blog that if athletes get caught using steroids, they should just come out and say what they did wrong. That's exactly what Alex Rodriguez did last night. In an interview with ESPN, the baseball star confessed to using performance enhancing drugs from 2001 to 2003. A recent Sports Illustrated report revealed that Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003. During yesterday's interview, Rodriguez said, "I felt an enormous amount of pressure, felt all the weight of the world on top of me to perform and perform at a high level every day." He apologized for using the banned substances, saying, "I'm very sorry and deeply regretful. I'm sorry for that time, I'm sorry to my fans."
AZUZ: Even though performance-enhancing steroids are illegal, Derek says "baseball is entertainment, and all players should be able to take performance-enhancing drugs; they're merely the latest technology." That's not how most other folks on our blog feel. Shwayze says, "It's not fair for one guy to work his hardest in the weight room and another take steroids and be just as big without the work." Kyle calls steroids "the downfall of baseball. All those caught faking their bulk deserve to lose all recognition in the sport." From Bill: "There are kids out there who believe in you pro players. If you let them down, you should be ashamed of yourself." And Anabel says, "Steroid users are kind of cheating, because the steroids make them do better. And I don't think it's fair for the baseball players who don't do steroids."
ERIC NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! What is the chemical symbol for lead? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Ld, B) Fe, C) Le or D) Pb? You've got three seconds -- GO! The symbol for lead is Pb, an abbreviation of the Latin word for the element, plumbum. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: Lead can be toxic, especially if you're exposed to too much of it. You might remember headlines last year about toys being recalled because they were contaminated by the element. Well, a new law aims to reduce that risk for young children, and it goes into effect today. But as Kate Bolduan explains, it might bring unintended consequences for some retailers.
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KATE BOLDUAN, CNN REPORTER: At a time when people are relying more on secondhand stores because of the economy, Maryland thrift store manager Marilyn Seitz isn't celebrating.
MARILYN SEITZ, MANAGER, PENNYWORTH THRIFT SHOP: I don't want to sell something that's going to put me in jail. There's just no way I could go through all this.
BOLDUAN: After a wave of highly publicized tainted toy recalls last year, Congress stepped in, passing the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, aimed at protecting children. As part of the law, new federal lead limits take effect Tuesday, banning lead content beyond minute levels, 600 parts per million, in any product for kids 12 and younger. Now, it's not only illegal to manufacture lead-laced products, but also illegal to sell them, no matter when they were made. Stores could be fined up to $100,000 per violation.
BOLDUAN: Does this law have the potential for putting you and many thrift stores out of business?
SEITZ: Yes, yes. That's the bottom line.
BOLDUAN: The National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops claims some of the tens of thousands of secondhand stores across the country are preparing to shut their doors out of fear.
ADELE MEYER, EXEC. DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RETAIL & THRIFT SHOPS: This has gotten so serious and it is so frightening because we serve consumers that sometimes have no other way to clothe their children.
BOLDUAN: The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the agency implementing the sweeping law, acknowledges while well-intended, the new rules are confusing.
JOE MARTYAK, CPSC SPOKESMAN: With the economy the way it is right now, we all are concerned about safety. But we don't want to unnecessarily be impacting jobs and businesses
BOLDUAN: The commission is allowing manufacturers an extra year to comply with testing requirements, but can't offer a reprieve for selling restricted products. So, what does that mean for Marilyn Seitz?
SEITZ: We're the....
BOLDUAN: In a classic "between a rock and a hard place"?
SEITZ: You're not kidding. Right. It's a shame. And I see my customers that really want these things and need these things. You could wipe out a whole industry.
BOLDUAN: The law is supposed to protect kids, but Seitz fears her business may become an unintended casualty. Kate Bolduan, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AZUZ: And finally today, you guitar heroes out there know that it takes some shredding to unleash your inner rock legend. Well, there's this one young musical master out there who has you and me and everyone else on the planet beat. Sandra Hernandez of affiliate KDAF introduces us to this monster of rock.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDRA HERNANDEZ, KDAF REPORTER: Fourteen-year-old Danny Johnson of Grapevine set a new Guinness world record by scoring nearly one million points with a rendition of "Through the Fire of Flames." Guitar Hero is one of the fastest-growing, music-based video games. This is the game's most difficult song.
DANNY JOHNSON, YOUNG MUSICIAN: The only thing I'm really thinking is don't miss a note, or else you're going to mess up pretty bad
JACK JOHNSON, DANNY'S FATHER: Well, people just don't realize what a talented kid he is. I mean, he does play music. He writes his own music. There's several songs on YouTube that he wrote when he was 10, 11, 12 years old.
HERNANDEZ: Danny can play a real guitar. He's only had six piano lessons.
DANNY JOHNSON (PLAYING DRUMS): My dad showed me a few things, but I pretty much taught myself in two days.
HERNANDEZ: He also plays the saxophone and oboe. This 14 year old is home schooled and excels in math. He knows Thai, Laos and Vietnamese, but music is his passion.
DANNY JOHNSON: I hear something and I try to match the notes, and I just start playing it.
NUANCHAN JOHNSON, DANNY'S MOTHER: Very smart boy, and he's talented. I'm just proud of him.
HERNANDEZ: Danny is very modest and very competitive.
DANNY JOHNSON: Records are meant to be broken, so if somebody actually does break the record, I will try to defend it.
HERNANDEZ: In Grapevine, Sandra Hernandez for CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AZUZ: Danny actually broke his controller while he was setting that world record! Must have been on a power chord. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.