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CNN Student News Transcript: February 18, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Find out how the $787 billion stimulus plan is being sliced up
  • Explore a controversy surrounding a tennis tournament in Dubai
  • Hear why a recent surgery provided real-time updates on Twitter
  • Next Article in Living »
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(CNN Student News) -- February 18, 2009

Quick Guide

Stimulus Bill Signed - Find out how the $787 billion stimulus plan is being sliced up.

Dubai Tennis Ban - Explore a controversy surrounding a tennis tournament in Dubai.

Twitter in the O.R. - Hear why a recent surgery provided real-time updates on Twitter.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: We can't bring you everything in today's show on Twitter, but we can tell you about Twitter on today's show. Hi, everyone! I'm Carl Azuz and this is CNN Student News!

First Up: Stimulus Bill Signed

AZUZ: First up, President Obama's stimulus plan becomes law as he signs off on the $787 billion bill. Nearly every Republican lawmaker voted against this measure, and one GOP leader says it will "do more harm than it will do good." But President Obama believes the plan will "bring real and lasting change," although he acknowledges it's just the beginning of the process.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I don't want to pretend that today marks the end of our economic problems, nor does it constitute all of what we are going to have to do to turn our economy around. But today does mark the beginning of the end: The beginning of what we need to do to create jobs for Americans scrambling in the wake of layoffs. The beginning of what we need to do to provide relief for families worried they won't be able to pay next month's bills. The beginning of the first steps to set our economy on a firmer foundation, paving the way to long-term growth and prosperity.

Three Slices of Stimulus

AZUZ: We mentioned the stimulus bill's hefty price tag. The government doesn't spend all of that money in one place, or even in one way. The 787 billion dollars is being divvied up between three major categories, kind of like a pie. Check out a breakdown of the slices in this stimulus plan.


AZUZ: Just like a real pie can make your waistline grow, the government hopes this stimulus plan will help fatten up a starving economy. Here's how the $787 billion stimulus is sliced: First, the biggest piece: 39%. That's about $308 billion, and it'll go to "appropriations spending." Those roads and bridges and energy research you've heard about? They fall into this category. Next, with 34% of the pie: direct aid to Americans. $267 billion will be spent on things like unemployment benefits and food stamps. And finally, cooking up 27%: tax relief. $212 billion will give tax breaks for individuals and businesses, mostly individuals, though. It'll add up to about 13 extra dollars per weekly paycheck. And that serves up one heaping helping of stimulus!



ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! In what country would you find the city of Dubai? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) United Arab Emirates, B) Qatar, C) Oman or D) Yemen? You've got three seconds -- GO! Dubai is located on the Persian Gulf in the United Arab Emirates. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Dubai Tennis Ban

AZUZ: Many of the world's top female tennis players are in Dubai for a tournament this week. But Shahar Peer isn't there with them. The Israeli athlete qualified for the contest, but the United Arab Emirates denied her entry into the country. Tournament organizers say the move is to protect peer from anti-Israeli protests, like ones that have broken out at previous tournaments. But as Pedro Pinto explains, the decision is courting controversy in the tennis world.


PEDRO PINTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She should be here. Israel's Shahar Peer, ranked 45 in the world, earned the right to play at the Dubai Tennis Championships, but the government of the United Arab Emirates denied the 21-year-old an entry visa, a decision which disappointed her and the professional tour.

SHAHAR PEER, DENIED VISA INTO UAE: I was very, very disappointed, you know. First of all, it's my career. It's a big tournament. It's a $2 million tournament, and all the good players are playing there and, you know, I've been playing very good, Fed Cup and now in Pattaya semi-final. I'm on a good roll and a good momentum, and they really stopped my momentum.

LARRY SCOTT, WTA TOUR CHAIRMAN: We haven't been given an exact reason why her visa was denied, but I do know that Israel does not have diplomatic relations with the UAE. Having said that, we were assured when the tournament was sanctioned for Dubai that if an Israeli wanted to play, they would be given permission to play.

PINTO: It has been challenging to get a local perspective on the story. There is no comment from the government, the tournament director cancelled a previously arranged interview with CNN, and even the sponsors are refusing to go on the record. I did have a chance to speak with a couple of the players, and they had different takes on the issue at hand.

ELENA DEMENTIEVA, WORLD NUMBER 4: I really feel sorry for her and I wish she could play here. I think she is a very sensitive girl and she really cares about the situation.

VERA ZVONAREVA, WORLD NUMBER 5: I am not sure, you know. We are tennis players and we compete against each other every week, everywhere in any part of the world. So, I don't think we are thinking about it. We just here to try to play our best and to enjoy ourselves on the court.

PINTO: Tennis fans here didn't hold back when asked to give their views.

WOMAN ON STREET #1: I think it's appalling. Irrespective of what is happening in the world, this girl's earned a place in the tournamet and she is not allowed to play.

MAN ON STREET #1: Just like any player, she should be able to come and play.

MAN ON STREET #2: She should have all the rights to come and play. Everyone should have.

PINTO: For now, the show goes on, but there could be serious repercussions for the future of tennis in the UAE. WTA Tour officials will review the situation and could strip the Emirates of the right to hold professional events in the future. Pedro Pinto, CNN, Dubai.


Shoutout Extra Credit

NIVISON: Time for a Shoutout Extra Credit! What is the character limit for a Twitter post? You know what to do. Is it: A) 80 characters, B) 100 characters, C) 140 characters or D) 150 characters? Reset that clock for three seconds -- GO! Twitter posts have to be under 140 characters. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout Extra Credit!

Twitter in the O.R.

AZUZ: That may seem like plenty of space to answer Twitter's standard question: What are you doing? But it might be difficult to limit your words when "What you're doing" is something kind of complicated. A group of doctors took on that challenge recently, Twittering about an operation while they performed it! Elizabeth Cohen reports on the meeting of surgery and social networking.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: It's just after 7 a.m. at Henry Ford Hospital, and a surgical team is about to embark on a complicated cancer surgery.


COHEN: They're ready to go. Doctors, check. Nurses, check. Twitter, check. Twitter?

ROGERS: So, we are Twittering? Oh, good.

COHEN: That's right. Surgery meets social networking: The surgeons are Twittering the entire procedure for all the world to read.

COHEN: So, why are you Twittering a surgery?

ROGERS: We are trying to use this as a way to get the word out.

COHEN: Teaching via Twitter, Dr. Craig Rogers and his team want people to know about a relatively new technique to remove a cancerous tumor on the kidney without having to remove the entire kidney. "Wow! Live tweeting of surgery from Michigan," tweets one follower.

COHEN: While Dr. Rogers performs the robotic surgery, chief resident Dr. Raj Laungani documents what's going on in real time.

ROGERS: There's the tumor. See it? Right there.

COHEN: They finally reach the tumor, but then Dr. Laungani has to tweet some bad news.

ROGERS: My gosh this is big!

COHEN: Dr. Laungani immediately lets the Twitter-verse know, "The tumor has been isolated and it is penetrating very deep into the kidney."

ROGERS: OK, Spencer, let's talk this through.

COHEN: They may have to remove the entire kidney, and that's exactly what they didn't want to do. Dr. Rogers knows the twitter universe is watching.

ROGERS: Could I have picked a harder case for this?

COHEN: Adding to the tension, they have only 30 minutes to get the tumor out before a lack of blood flow damages the kidney. Then there's another problem. They are having trouble controlling the bleeding.

ROGERS: I need you to suck like there is no tomorrow.

COHEN: Just in the nick of time, crisis diverted. In the end, Dr. Rogers saves the whole kidney and shares the good news with the Twitter-verse.

ROGERS: Nice Twittering.

COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Detroit.


Blog Promo

AZUZ: No doubt, it's cutting edge. Now, the surgeons said they did this to inform other doctors about the new procedure. But if you were that patient, would you want someone sharing the details of your surgery on a social networking site? That is what we're talking about on our blog. Head to, see what I have to say about this and share your thoughts on the issue.

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, an efficient answer to prolonged puckering. The sign says it all: no kissing! A British train station was getting sick of extended smoochers blocking other passengers from getting into the building, so it laid the smack down! A quick handshake, and then you're on your way. And if anyone insists on locking lips to say goodbye, well, they just have to do it in a designated kissing zone.



AZUZ: And they better not give the authorities any lip! That raps up today's edition of CNN Student news. We hope you will join us again tomorrow. I'm Carl Azuz.

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