(CNN Student News) -- March 3, 2009
By the Numbers - Explore the pros and cons of additional government assistance for AIG.
Taking on the Taliban - Learn about clashes between the Pakistani military and Taliban forces.
Art Expansion - Observe the artistry of a place where self-expression has been restricted.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: It's Tuesday, I'm Carl Azuz and this is CNN Student News. The big story today: the U.S. government comes to the rescue of an insurance giant... again!
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AZUZ: Here come $30 billion. Well, $30 billion more dollars. It makes a total of $162.5 billion that the U.S. government is spending to keep AIG in business. The money will come from TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program set up last fall. American International Group is a massive insurance company, and it's in terrible shape. It just reported a loss of $62 billion, the most any American business has ever lost in a single quarter.
Now why, if this company is bleeding billions, does the government want to help? Why not just let AIG go under? One reason: the company is huge. 116,000 employees, business in more than 130 countries, 74 million insurance policies. If AIG collapses, thousands of jobs will be lost, much more business will be lost, and consumer confidence, a major force that keeps investors investing, will take another hit. Bad timing!
POPPY HARLOW, ANCHOR, CNNMONEY.COM: People really act on how they're feeling. Consumer confidence in this country right now is at a record low.
AZUZ: So by propping up AIG, the government hopes investors will feel safer. If they invest back in AIG and other businesses, it could bring some needed stability to the market. Not everyone supports the move.
DAVID SEAMAN, IREPORTER: Here the government is bailing them out, you know, rewarding a greedy company for bad decisions. And I would be surprised if this is the last time one of these companies down here is bailed out.
AZUZ: In fact, it may not be the last time AIG is bailed out. Some analysts say it'll eventually take a quarter of a trillion dollars to keep the company afloat.
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Dow Takes Big Dive
AZUZ: News of that additional bailout did not sit well with investors. And when you combine that with concerns about the overall economy and how long this recession might last, Wall Street is paying the price. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost nearly 300 points yesterday and has lost more than 2,000 points so far this year. That is the worst start in the 113-year history of the Dow. The index is used to gauge how the whole stock market is doing, and right now, that answer is definitely not good.
ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! In which of these countries would you find the Swat Valley? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Uzbekistan, B) Kazakhstan, C) Bangladesh or D) Pakistan? You've got three seconds -- GO! The Swat Valley is a region of Pakistan. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that the "most worrisome" part of fighting the Taliban is the safe haven that the militant group has in parts of Pakistan. Taliban Fighters have been clashing with Pakistani forces in the country's tribal areas, places like the Swat Valley, with both sides claiming victory in different parts of the region. Stan Grant has more on the fighting.
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STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The front line of Pakistan's fight against a rising Taliban threat: the border with Afghanistan. Local military commanders describe the militants as a "tough nut to crack," and they are not all home grown. Among the captured: Sudanese and Egyptians. Half the militants said to be Afghans, and a strong hint of al Qaeda influence. The military is claiming victory here in an area known as Bajaur, the Taliban, they say, fleeing after six months of heavy fighting, leaving widespread destruction. More than 1,600 militants claimed killed, 250 taken prisoner, among them what Pakistan commanders call "hard core suicide bombers."
MAJOR GENERAL ATHAR ABBAS, PAKISTAN ARMY: We have achieved successes, and Bajaur in particular is a success story.
GRANT: And Pakistan desperately needs success stories. A resurgent Taliban has been capturing more and more territory along the border and within two hours' drive of the capital Islamabad. Over the mountains here is Afghanistan. The U.S. military sees the action there against the Taliban and here as essentially the same front. What they are looking for is more success now on the Pakistan side. Only about 50 miles, 80 kilometres, from Bajaur, the Taliban is claiming its own victory in the Swat Valley. It has forced the government into a cease-fire, allowing the militants to impose their strict version of Islamic, or Sharia, law. Speaking to CNN on the telephone, a Taliban leader in Swat, Haji Muslim Khan, leaving no doubt who is in control.
GRANT: Have the Taliban won victory in Swat? Is it a victory for you over the Pakistan military?
VOICE OF HAJI MUSLIM KHAN, TALIBAN SPOKESMAN: Sure, and 100% sure that the victory of Taliban.
GRANT: Pakistan military, though, says despite the cease-fire, it has not surrendered Swat. Dealing with the Taliban, it says, is the price of giving the local people in Swat peace.
ABBAS: The military is being retained in Swat; it is not being pulled out of Swat.
GRANT: Two regions of strife-torn Pakistan: Bajaur and Swat. The military claiming victory in one, the Taliban the other. Many more battles still to come in this war. Stan Grant, CNN, on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
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Word to the Wise
NIVISON: A Word to the Wise...
revival (noun) renewed interest in or attention to something
AZUZ: There's an artistic revival taking place right now in a place where you might not expect it: Iran. The Middle Eastern nation is often in the headlines because of conflicts between its government and Western countries, like the U.S. But some Iranians claim that the country is turning into a hot-bed for artistic expression. Reza Sayah explores the shift.
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REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Groundbreaking contemporary art, photography, handicraft and packed showrooms. In the Islamic republic of Iran, the art scene is undergoing a dynamic revival, challenging what Iranians say are Western art fans' misconceptions about a country associated with three decades of Islamic extremism.
SARA REYHANI, DESIGNER: They're scared of coming, and that's the funniest part for me, is that they're scared to come to Tehran or Iran.
SAYAH: Come to Iran, says designer Sara Reyhani, and you'll see young artists expressing themselves in a society where self-expression has been discouraged and restricted.
REYHANI: I've always liked to do it, but I didn't have enough courage.
SAYAH: Sara found the courage with her handmade headwear.
NASSIM KHAKPOUR, JEWELRY DESIGNER: All of a sudden, about four or five years ago, there was a boom in the art world in Iran.
SAYAH: Nassim Khakpour joined in on the boom with her jewelry.
KHAKPOUR: I love it, I love it. It's the best thing that can happen to you.
KAMRAN ADLE, PHOTOGRAPHER [TRANSLATED]: "Whenever there is pressure, talent blossoms," says Kamran Adle, one of Iran's most famous photographers.
SAYAH: Although restrictions are in place, artists say Iran's government has been increasingly open to public displays of art. But pushing the envelope is at your own risk.
VAHID SHARIFIAN, CURATOR [TRANSLATED]: "Iranian artists are finding their talent more and more," says curator Vahid Sharifian. "The talent is now at an international level."
SAYAH: Appreciating Iranian talent has now become a weekly social activity at Tehran's galleries.
SHIRIN TAVAKOLIAN, GALLERY OWNER: It's becoming like a habit for Iranians, like, "What should we do on a Friday evening, a Friday afternoon?" And they come visit galleries.
SAYAH: This type of scene is becoming more and more common in Tehran: Galleries displaying the work of Iranian artists, and Iranians coming in droves.
ARYA KASAEI, ART BUYER: The galleries are getting better and better, and the art scene is changing its face.
SAYAH: At a time when Iran's conflict with the West dominates headlines, a new generation of Iranian artists is reviving Iran's rich history of art. Sara Reyhani says set aside the stereotypes, open your eyes, and you'll see it.
REYHANI: Come, maybe that's the best thing I can say. Don't be afraid of coming to Iran.
SAYAH: More art lovers, it seems, are accepting the invitation. Reza Sayah, CNN, Tehran.
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AZUZ: The origin of Women's History Month dates back to the early 1900s. But do you know why we celebrate it during March? You'll find the answer in our One-Sheet at CNNStudentNews.com! And check out our Women's History Month Learning Activities while you're there. You'll find both in the Spotlight section on our homepage. Plus, keep an eye out for special programming on the show throughout the month of March.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we go, check out this fancy home in the hills. And we mean in the hills. They built this sucker inside of a cave! But the family isn't roughing it. Gourmet kitchen, luxury bathroom, three bedrooms. The only problem? They're facing foreclosure! They're hoping to carve out some cash by selling the house, cave and all, on eBay. The minimum bid is $300,000! Hopefully, the cave dwellers can raise enough money in time.
AZUZ: Otherwise, they might really find themselves between a rock and a hard place. That's all for CNN student News, I'm Carl Azuz.