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CNN Student News Transcript: February 20, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Head north to hear what President Obama discussed with his Canadian counterpart
  • Watch the harrowing story of an Iranian woman who wants an eye for an eye
  • Gear up for a report on whether the sun is setting on the American muscle car
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(CNN Student News) -- February 20, 2009

Quick Guide

President Obama Visits Canada - Head north to hear what President Obama discussed with his Canadian counterpart.

Eye for an Eye? - Watch the harrowing story of an Iranian woman who wants an eye for an eye.

No More Muscle - Gear up for a report on whether the sun is setting on the American muscle car.



Teachers, please note that the third segment in today's program concerns an Iranian acid attack victim, and contains images that some viewers might find disturbing. We strongly suggest that you preview this report before showing it to your class.

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: President Obama in Canada and California? We'll explain that one in this Friday edition of CNN Student News!

First Up: President Obama Visits Canada

Downloadable Maps

AZUZ: First up, the president visits our neighbor to the north to meet with his Canadian counterpart. Yesterday's trip marked President Obama's first international trip since he took office, and it was all business. The main item on the agenda: the struggling U.S. economy and the newly-signed stimulus package, specifically, one provision that could have a serious impact on Canada. Samantha Hayes checks in with more of the details about yesterday's meeting in the Canadian capital.


SAMANTHA HAYES, CNN REPORTER: President Barack Obama arrived in Canada to a warm welcome and chilly temperatures.

MAN ON THE STREET: I think everyone here in Ottawa is kind of excited to have him, and especially us Obama enthusiasts who have been part of the campaign, like I said, since the very beginning.

HAYES: But there will be some tough issues on the agenda when President Obama meets with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, starting with that "Buy America" clause in the stimulus package. The provision requires the use of American-made iron and steel in public works projects funded by the stimulus plan. It is a major issue for Canada, the U.S.' biggest trading partner.

STEPHEN HARPER, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: If there's one thing that could turn a recession into a depression, it is protectionist measures across the world. I'm very encouraged by the fact that President Obama said that he was concerned about that as well, and I'm confident with the modifications that are made that the administration will implement this in a responsible way.

HAYES: And Mr. Obama has a couple of concerns on his list: Canada wants to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, just as the president has decided to increase America's military presence in the country.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: My hope is that, in conversations that I have with Prime Minister Harper, that he and I end up seeing the importance of a comprehensive strategy, and one that ultimately the people of Canada can support.

HAYES: Environmental issues are also on the table. Canadians extract oil from sands in Alberta, and that process is an environmental concern for the Obama administration. For CNN Student News, I'm Samantha Hayes.



ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Ms. Brown's World History class at Alexander City Middle School in Alexander City, Alabama! What line of latitude forms the border between the U.S. and Canada? Is it the: A) 38th Parallel, B) International Date Line, C) 49th Parallel or D) Tropic of Capricorn? You've got three seconds -- GO! The 49th parallel was established as the modern border between the two countries in 1846. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Stimulus Spending

AZUZ: Jumping back over that border, Wall Street is getting hammered by the struggling economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average -- it indicates how the overall stock market is doing -- ended Thursday at its lowest point since October of 2002. Of course, President Obama is hoping the stimulus package will help turn things around. Here's a look at how the biggest slice of the stimulus pie will be used.


AZUZ: Not all of the stimulus money will be spent; some is set aside for tax breaks. But the government does plan to spend $317 billion, or 40 percent of the stimulus plan. And here's how: Energy and environment will get $98 billion. Specifically, this will go for stuff like research into more efficient energy use, delivering electricity, the department of the interior, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Next, $66 billion will be spent on labor, health and education. Financial aid to college students, special education, school improvement programs and the department of labor will all get some funding. Transportation, housing and urban development will get $57 billion for everything from rebuilding bridges to helping the homeless. Federal and state governments will get a little more than $45 billion. And commerce, defense, and agriculture will get the least of the spending, for a combined total of a little less than $51 billion.


Eye for an Eye?

AZUZ: All right, turning our attention to Iran now. This next story contains images that some viewers might find disturbing, so teachers, we strongly suggest you preview this report. A court case in the Middle Eastern nation is getting international attention. It concerns a woman who was the victim of a violent assault. She wants her attacker's punishment to match his crime: blinding her with acid. Reza Sayah speaks with the woman, whose face was disfigured by this attack. Again, teachers, we encourage you to preview this report before showing it to your class.


REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ameneh Bahrami says her big brown eyes used to be the envy of her friends. But this is what a jilted suitor did to Ameneh's eyes when he threw acid in her face. The attack has made headlines in Iran because Ameneh, now 31, is demanding an eye for an eye.

AMENEH BAHRAMI [TRANSLATED]: People like him should be made to feel my suffering.

SAYAH: In accordance with Islamic law, Ameneh wants to blind Majid Mohavedi, the man who blinded her.

BAHRAMI [TRANSLATED]: He called me every day and harassed me. He told me he would kill me. He said, "You have to say yes."

SAYAH: This corner that you're looking at right now, that's where her jilted suitor Majid used to hide. And a couple of days before this incident, she said, "Look, I don't want to marry you." But Majid wouldn't take no for an answer.

November 2004, as Ameneh walked home from work, the threats turned to violence. This is Ameneh's first visit back to the scene of the attack in Tehran. She says she went up a little bit and then she sensed someone was right behind her. The moment she looked back, she says, Majid attacked.

Attack victims in Iran often get what's known as "blood money" from the culprit, a monetary fine in lieu of harsh punishment. With no insurance and mounting medical bills, Ameneh could've used the cash, but said no.

BAHRAMI [TRANSLATED]: I don't want to blind Majid for revenge. I'm doing this to keep this from ever happening to someone else.

SAYAH: Ameneh's demand has outraged some human rights activists. Usually, they support victims of acid attacks. But on Internet blogs they criticized her. Her determination to blind her attacker is as barbaric as the crime, they write. Late last year, a court in Tehran handed down the sentence: acid in each of Majid's eyes. He has appealed the decision, but this month, the court ruled the sentence stands.

BAHRAMI [TRANSLATED]: If I don't do this and there is another acid attack, I will never forgive myself for as long as I live.


Blog Promo

AZUZ: A very difficult story to take in, but what do you think: Is justice served by blinding Ameneh's attacker with acid? Is there another punishment that would fit this crime? Or do you think Ameneh should've instead taken what's known as "blood money"? We'd like you to tell us on our blog.

No More Muscle

AZUZ: Well, we're shifting gears now. An automative era could be coming to a close. Camaros, Thunderbirds, Mustangs: Not so long ago, these so-called "muscle cars" defined a time when American vehicles dominated the landscape. But as Jim Acosta explains, with the economy in atrophy and U.S. automakers appealing to the government for help, these muscle cars may be getting muscled out.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN REPORTER: If the '70s were good for one thing, it was American cars. They were cool, they were fast, and Hollywood made movies about them. "Smokey and the Bandit" was just as much about the Pontiac Trans-Am as it was about Burt Reynolds. But today, they're not laughing in Detroit. In its plea for billions in new bailout money, General Motors plans to downsize Pontiac. Not quite killing it off, as GM says it may do with Saturn and Hummer, but close.

JOHN DAVIS, HOST, "MOTORWEEK": Clearly, Detroit lost its passion for cars.

ACOSTA: For more than a quarter century, John Davis has hosted PBS' car consumer show "Motorweek." He says Detroit built cars that defined an era that's in danger of coming to an end.

DAVIS: The American auto industry is in a mess. Too much involved with trucks. The public sentiment changed, and they weren't able to change fast enough.

ACOSTA: A V-8 is a V-8?

MATT HOLTZMAN, FLEMINGS ULTIMATE GARAGE: Yup. Sounds different. Feels different. Brings back memories of when I was a heck of a lot younger.

ACOSTA: Matt Holtzman is the general manager of Flemings Ultimate Garage, a small-scale, classic car dealership.

ACOSTA: Just sitting in this car, you feel like you're stepping back in time.

HOLTZMAN: You are.

ACOSTA: This '79 Trans-Am Bandit is one of its showroom showpieces. The T-Top still works.

HOLTZMAN: It's iconic as a brand.

ACOSTA: He hopes the bailout will drive the auto giants back to their glory days.

HOLTZMAN: I hope someday, someone will replicate this car exactly as it looks...

ACOSTA: And put it on the road?

HOLTZMAN: Put it on the road.

ACOSTA: GM insists it's doing all it can to get back in the driver's seat.

RICHARD WAGONER, GM CEO: Obviously, what we can do on our side is continue to bring out really exciting products and get behind them in the right way.

DAVIS: I think passion is a key to the American car buyer and to the American car design.

ACOSTA: Something even "Smokey" could appreciate.


Before We Go

AZUZ: And finally, about that double-dose of President Obama we mentioned? Here's the other half, appearing at a charity event in California. OK, he's not the real deal. But this impressive impersonator is more than happy to pretend. Reggie Brown is his real name. He says he's working on perfecting the president's look, but he's already good enough to make some Marines who were at this event do a double-take.



AZUZ: A little more practice, Reggie could have a full-time gig as the commander-in-cheat. Hope you guys have an awesome weekend. I'm Carl Azuz.

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