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CNN Student News Transcript: February 19, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Examine a new plan aimed at fixing the U.S. foreclosure crisis
  • Hear how U.S. troops are adapting to a new deployment strategy
  • Get first-hand accounts of attending historically black schools
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(CNN Student News) -- February 19, 2009

Quick Guide

Foreclosure Fix? - Examine a new plan aimed at fixing the U.S. foreclosure crisis.

Afghan Troop Increase - Hear how U.S. troops are adapting to a new deployment strategy.

Black History Month - Get first-hand accounts of attending historically black schools.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: To all you official Facebook fans who've talked about sweater vests, today's edition of CNN Student News goes out to you. I'm Carl Azuz. Now for our top story.

First Up: Foreclosure Fix?

AZUZ: President Obama introduces a new plan aimed at fixing the country's foreclosure crisis. He says the collapse of the housing market has led to job losses and companies shutting down, and he believes this new measure could help millions of Americans. But it has to go through Congress. Some Republican leaders have raised concerns about how it would work, and one political analyst questioned the fairness of the plan. Gerri Willis breaks down the president's proposal.


GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: The wide-ranging program comes with a price tag of $75 billion. It targets two groups: homeowners who, because of falling real estate values, owe more than their home is worth. Group two: those families caught in the wave of massive layoffs.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Through this plan, we will help between seven and nine million families restructure or refinance their mortgages so they can avoid foreclosure. And we're not just helping homeowners at risk of falling over the edge, we are preventing their neighbors from being pulled over that edge too.

WILLIS: The multi-pronged plan will modify loans for borrowers who are struggling to make payments and facing foreclosure. The goal: bring payments to no more than 31% of a borrower's income; refinance loans for homeowners currently making payments into a 15-year or 30-year loan with a fixed rate of interest; give bankruptcy judges the power to reduce the mortgage debt of individuals in bankruptcy; encourage lenders to cooperate by offering them a payment of $1,000 for mortgages that are modified successfully. Professor Nicholas Retsinas runs Harvard's Housing Research Center.

NICOLAS RETSINAS, HARVARD UNIVERSITY'S JOINT CENTER FOR HOUSING STUDIES: How successful it will be will be in part determined with how successful the stimulus is in putting people back to work. If people keep losing their jobs, we'll see more and more foreclosures.

WILLIS: On the other hand, the federal government is in a better position than any time before to influence the housing industry, because it operates the largest lender to first-time homebuyers, plus its cash injection into the nation's lending industry gives it leverage over banks. The devil is in the details, and we will have more of those when eligibility requirements are released March 4. Gerri Willis, CNN, New York.


I.D. Me!

ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I'm an Asian nation that's a little smaller than the state of Texas. I was founded in 1747, and I got my independence from the UK in 1919. Much of my land was controlled by the Taliban from 1996 through 2001. I'm Afghanistan, and I'm home to nearly 33 million people.

Afghan Troop Increase

AZUZ: Of course, U.S. troops ousted the Taliban from power in 2001. But that group is regaining influence in the country and clashing with Afghan and U.S. forces. That's why President Obama is sending 17,000 new troops to Afghanistan. Atia Abawi, who was embedded with one division of the country's Logar Province, reports on the military's adjustment to this new assignment.


ATIA ABAWI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A unit of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division prepares to go on patrol. They've only been here for a couple of weeks.

U.S. ARMY SOLDIER: As we're walking through the streets, make sure that we're kinda looking at the rooftops. That way, we get good situationally aware around the area.

ABAWI: They're part of Task Force Spartan, a big increase in the U.S. presence in the region, and they are the first of tens of thousands to arrive, as Washington shifts its focus to Afghanistan and dealing with a resurgent Taliban.

CAPTAIN STAN POLK, U.S. ARMY: This has kind of been neglected, if you will. They had free reign and very unopposed here.

ABAWI: Adapting to their new mission isn't easy. The men and women here had been training for a deployment to Baghdad. Three months before they were due to go, their destination changed to this remote and unforgiving terrain.

POLK: Yes, there are a lot of intricacies and cultural training that we focused specifically on for Iraq. But a day-to-day insurgent fight, even in the cities of Pul-e-Alam, the mountains of Logar, Nuray or wherever, you're still sticking to the same basics.

ABAWI: Logar and Wardak Provinces are close to the capital, Kabul, which has seen an alarming increase in Taliban attacks. Some 3,000 U.S. troops will be based here, trying to prevent Taliban infiltration and getting the co-operation of local people. We just had a walk through the Pul-e-Alam district center, where the Afghans were staring at the U.S. troops. But not necessarily because they were not happy that they were here, but because they were curious. This is the largest presence that the U.S. troops have had in Logar Province since the war began. The locals appear to have mixed feelings about the new presence.

MAN ON STREET: We just have a request that they not go into homes, bombard our homes at their own will, or air-strike innocent people. We are happy if they bring us security.

ABAWI: And that's what these troops say they will bring. Making this "forgotten war" today's priority. It is a far away place for soldiers from Fort Drum in New York to find themselves, and it won't be long before the Taliban's expected spring offensive tests them. Task Force Spartan may provide early clues about whether a new influx of troops can work. Atia Abawi, CNN, Pul-e-Alam, Afghanistan.



NIVISON: Time for the Shoutout! What is the oldest historically black college or university in the U.S.? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Howard, B) Cheyney, C) Morehouse or D) Tuskegee? You've got three seconds -- GO! Cheyney University was founded with the name "the African Institute" in 1837. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Black History Month

AZUZ: The oldest, but certainly not the only. Historically black schools make up about three percent of America's colleges and universities, but of all the African-Americans who earn undergraduate degrees, nearly 25 percent of them graduate from HBCUs. As our special coverage of Black History Month rolls on, we hear from some of the students who attend these schools about their experiences there.


KEN NELSON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Howard, Morehouse, FAMU, Spelman, Xavier: just a few of the nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities, also known as HBCUs. HBCUs are accredited, historically black institutions of higher learning established before 1964, whose principal mission is to educate black Americans. Today, over 300,000 students are enrolled at the more than 100 HBCUs across America. HBCUs don't just offer bachelor's degrees; many of these schools offer graduate degrees and professional degrees, including medicine, pharmacy and law. Here's what the students have to say about the experience:

FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY (FAMU) STUDENT #1: I thought it was important to be submerged in my culture for at least four years before I go into a place where's that not as prevalent.

FAMU STUDENT #2: Florida A&M University prepares you for the corporate world, for the real world. It instills in you the values that you need no matter what color, race or creed that you are, what you need to be successful in life and to be a moral person.

FAMU STUDENT #3: We may not have sports, like Duke University, or we may not have sports like UGA and UF, but we do have education. One thing about HBCUs, we strive for education.

NELSON: Recognizing the higher education of HBCUs this Black History Month.


Blog Report

AZUZ: Yesterday's story about doctors using Twitter in the OR got some good responses on our blog. One thing we want to point out is that the doctor himself wasn't Twittering; he was telling an assistant what to Twitter. Dan writes, "I think it's okay, but it all depends on what part of my body they are operating on!" Good Point! B.J. says, "If it was me, I would not want the whole world knowing that I have a tumor." Ditto for Matt, who told us, "I would not want my business or my kidney all up in the world." Phillip thought it may be distracting for the surgeon, "they should be concentrating on the surgery." And Addy says, "I wouldn't mind, but I'm not sure I'd want to read the story later."

Facebook Promo

AZUZ: There are two ways you can interact with us online: our blog and our official Facebook page! We have a couple new videos up. One responds to some of your posts on our wall, and in the other, yours truly offers a little behind-the-scenes look at our studio. So, log on to Facebook, search for "Carl Azuz, official" and check them out!

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, a story you can really sink your teeth into. You're looking at about 20 tons of ground beef, literally! Thousands of burgers spilled across this Utah interstate Tuesday morning when a truck that was transporting the patties crashed. Sadly, no signs of a nearby ketchup spill. The hamburger holdup lasted for a few hours, because authorities had to chuck the mounds of meat before they could remove the truck.



AZUZ: Whoever had that cleanup assignment really got a raw deal. We'll be back tomorrow to serve up our last show of the week. Hope to see you then.

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