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CNN Student News Transcript: March 6, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Hear how wasteful spending has presented problems for U.S. presidents
  • Learn about some of the health benefits that come with owning a pet
  • Celebrate Women's History Month with some famous firsts from the 1980s
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(CNN Student News) -- March 6, 2009

Quick Guide

Wasteful Spending? - Hear how wasteful spending has presented problems for U.S. presidents.

Pet Benefits - Learn about some of the health benefits that come with owning a pet.

Women's History Month - Celebrate Women's History Month with some famous firsts from the 1980s.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: It's the most awesome day of the week! Thank you for spending part of it with CNN Student News. I'm Carl Azuz. We're starting things off with a look at the headlines.

First Up: Top Stories

AZUZ: President Obama is calling for a massive overhaul of the country's health care system. At a summit on the issue yesterday, he called rising medical costs "one of the greatest threats" to American families and to the U.S. economy. An estimated 46 million Americans currently don't have health insurance. Among the changes he's pushing for, President Obama wants to create a health care reserve fund that would help move the country closer to universal coverage.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush is expected to make a full recovery following heart surgery earlier this week. The wife of the 41st president and mother of the 43rd was diagnosed with the heart condition less than a week before Wednesday's operation. Doctors say the procedure went smoothly and they expect Mrs. Bush to be out of the hospital in about a week.

And Wall Street is back on that roller coaster ride. After gaining a bit on Wednesday, the Dow Jones headed in the opposite direction yesterday. The economic indicator dropped 281 points and finished the day at its lowest level since 1997.

Word to the Wise


earmark (noun) in a legislative bill, an earmark is something that is set aside for a specific use


Wasteful Spending?

AZUZ: There's a bill making its way through Congress right now that includes more than 8,000 earmarks! The president of a group called Taxpayers for Common Sense says these things aren't necessarily good or bad, it's the process that's problematic. President Obama has vowed to cut down on earmarks and wasteful spending, and as Jason Carroll tells us, he's not the first president to try.


JASON CARROLL, CNN REPORTER: One might think Democrats and Republicans don't have much in common, but they do: a shared history of wasteful government spending. Remember the '80s and those military contracts that had the government shelling out $435 dollars for a hammer, $640 for a toilet seat? That type of spending stopped, but over the years, the waste has not.

BRIAN RIEDL, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Every president since Ronald Reagan has promised his own crackdown on waste, fraud and abuse, and none have been particularly successful.

CARROLL: True, promises have been made.

FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: So, let us work together to reform the budget process and cut the number and cost of earmarks at least in half.

CARROLL: Presidents have tried to carve the fat when they found it.

FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: There was $1 million to study stress in plants, and $12 million for a tick removal program that didn't work.

CARROLL: Now, it's President Obama's turn.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The American people's money must be spent to advance their priorities, not to line the pockets of contractors or to maintain projects that don't work.

CARROLL: Even as the president has promised to save taxpayers $40 billion a year, the stop-gap spending bill currently making its way through Congress has come under attack for having the same type of wasteful spending president Obama wants to eliminate. According to the citizens watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, it includes nearly $1.8 million for pig odor research in Iowa, another million for cricket control in Utah. President Obama says his plan will save taxpayers money by not outsourcing services the government can do, ending no-bid contracts that have led to abuses in the past, and strengthing oversight to help maximize accountability. But still, some consumer groups and critics question what incentive there is in President Obama's plan for lawmakers to change their old ways.

TOM SCHATZ, CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE: It's a full-time job requiring the attention of every secretary and every appointee and every agency, because the individuals that are involved in those systems don't always have an incentive to change them


Pet Benefits

AZUZ: Shifting now from politics to pets. If you've been pushing your parents to get you a dog or cat, you might want to show them this next report. Pet owners do a lot for their animals. But according to some scientists, those furry friends are doing something good for us, too: improving our health! Judy Fortin dives into the details.


JUDY FORTIN, CNN HEALTH REPOTER: People tend to dote on their pets. They groom them, even dress them, and spend a lot of time walking them.

JENNIFER ECKERSON, PET OWNER: We walk 5, 6, 7 days a week, 30 minutes every day at least.

FORTIN: Jennifer Eckerson's dog Rosco gets her up and out of bed almost every morning. Dr. Edward Creagan says owning a pet can be a prescription for good health.

DR. EDWARD CREAGAN, MAYO CLINIC ONCOLOGIST: Many times, I will put on a prescription pad: one cat, one dog, indefinite refills.

FORTIN: Creagan adds there is evidence to back the claims.

CREAGON: Studies have shown that individuals who have pets have lower blood pressure, they have a decrease in a stress hormone which is called cortisol, and they have a higher level in their blood stream of feel-good hormones.

FORTIN: Creagan says companionship is good for everyone.

ECKERSON: He doesn't know if you've had a bad day, he doesn't know, uh, he's just happy to see you no matter what.

FORTIN: Unconditional love with the added benefit of good health. Yet another reason to enjoy the company of man's, or in this case, woman's best friend.


Blog Report

AZUZ: I gotta get up early this Sunday morning, and you should too! Check out our new segment: "Extra Credit!" It airs at 8:45 a.m. ET on CNN, and we're planning to feature some of your blog comments.

While we're on the subject: Melissa says she admires McKay Hatch, the student who started the No Cussing Club, for trying to get people to stop swearing. "It's a nasty habit that some find hard to break." But Kate wrote, "I think that a club about that seems pretty silly. You'll hear the words in life no matter what."

When we put today's show together, about 59% of you had said you could completely stop cussing; 41% said you couldn't. Michael writes, "I could stop cussing if I really wanted to, but why would I? I am completely comfortable with the words and I believe I have a right to use those words." A lot of you mentioned peer pressure. Harry says, "I support Hatch's ideas and I want to join the No Cussing Club, unless my friends think I'm weird."


NIVISON: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mr. Patty's World Geography classes at Central High School in Keller, Texas. How many female justices have served on the U.S. Supreme Court? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Four, B) Three, C) Two or D) One? You've got three seconds -- GO! Two women have served on the country's highest court: Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Women's History Month

AZUZ: March is Women's History Month. We're celebrating the event on our show and online. You can check out our One-Sheet and Learning Activities at To kick off our coverage, we're looking back a couple decades to honor some famous firsts from the 1980s, starting with one of the women we mentioned in that Shoutout.


MICHELLE WRIGHT, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Sandra Day O'Connor is known for her sharp questioning from the bench, especially when she served for 24 years as justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. At the height of her career as a judge, President Ronald Reagan nominated her to fill an open seat on the nation's highest court, and in September 1981, O'Connor was sworn in as its first female justice.

O'Connor attended Stanford University, as did Sally Ride. But it was Ride who received her undergraduate and doctorate degrees in physics. While studying for her Ph.D in 1978, Ride was selected for the NASA astronaut training program. On June 18, 1983, she became the first American woman in space, an experience she later described as "the most fun I'll ever have in my life."

Back on Earth, Joan Benoit Samuelson gained stardom as a pioneer of women's marathoning. She won the Boston Marathon in 1979 and again four years later. But in 1984, at the age of 26, Samuelson became the first woman to win a gold medal in an Olympic marathon. A year later, she received a prestigious award as the nation's finest amateur athlete.

Another noted female athlete is Ann Bancroft. Her rise to stardom came from her passion for the wilderness. After 56 days by sled and on foot, Bancroft and her teammates arrived at the North Pole in 1986. But Bancroft was the first woman to do it. And she led the first American women's team on the 660-mile expedition to the South Pole. Honoring achievements from the 1980s this Women's History Month.


Before We Go

AZUZ: And finally, do you want to bolt down the hall when the final bell rings? Apparently, so does this guy. The deer broke into First Flight Middle School recently, and then just broke into flight down the hallway. The speedy scene was caught on security camera. And what's awesome is that Mrs. Blackstock submitted it as an iReport specifically because her students thought it would make a great Before We Go.



AZUZ: We "deer" say that they were right. Remember to set your clocks ahead for daylight-saving this weekend, and watch for our "Extra Credit!" segment Sunday morning on CNN. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.

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