Skip to main content

CNN Student News Transcript: March 10, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Learn about different types of human stem cells and their possible uses
  • Explore the controversy surrounding human embryonic stem cell research
  • Discover why some toy companies are turning to nostalgia to drive sales
  • Next Article in Living »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

(CNN Student News) -- March 10, 2009

Quick Guide

Stem Cell Research - Learn about different types of human stem cells and their possible uses.

Order Overturned - Explore the controversy surrounding human embryonic stem cell research.

What's New is Old Again - Discover why some toy companies are turning to nostalgia to drive sales.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: I'm Carl Azuz, and this is CNN Student News! Today's show goes out to the teachers and students at Appleton North High School in Appleton, Wisconsin. Thank you for watching.

First Up: Stem Cell Research

AZUZ: First up, President Obama signs an executive order concerning the use of human embryonic stem cells for scientific research. These are cells that can divide and renew themselves over long periods of time. What's really unique about stem cells is that they're unspecialized; meaning they haven't been genetically assigned to be a heart cell or a liver cell, for example. But under the right conditions, stem cells can be formed into specialized cells, and scientists think they can be used to help study a bunch of different diseases. Doctor Sanjay Gupta has more on the different types of stem cells and how scientists use them.

Downloadable Maps


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's worth talking about all the different types of stem cells. Of course, embryonic stem cells are the ones that have caused so much controversy. Simply put, you have to take cells from an embryo to get these cells, and the embryo is destroyed in the process. That's where a lot of attention has been focused over the past several years. But there's other types of cells as well. Adult stem cells, for example, cells that come from blood, come from liver, come from bone marrow. These are not controversial; they come from adults. And also, something known as induced pluripotent cells (iPS cells); very exciting stuff. A couple of years ago, they started looking at skin cells, exposing them to viruses and essentially creating a type of embryonic stem cell. They are very early in the research.

Everyone seems to agree that you need to have all these kinds of cells researched, focused on, because who knows what will lead to some sort of advance in medicine. Speaking of which, when it comes to stem cells and medical advances, the way this works is you take these and they can grow into all sorts of different cells, and you start targeting certain different disease processes, like diabetes, like Parkinson's, like heart disease, replacing the cells that have been damaged. So, for example, someone has had a heart attack, some of the heart cells have died, being able to replace some of those cells. Very, very exciting stuff.

"What has been done so far?" is a question that gets asked often. I think it's worth pointing out that it's a bit of a moving target, scientifically. Because there hasn't been much in the way of federal dollars over the past several years, we don't know what the potential really is over the next several more to come. You could start to see exponential advancements in stem cell research overall. And in January of this year, just a couple of months ago, you had the first approved clinical trial for embryonic stem cell research; it's in spinal cord injured patients. They are going to start recruiting those patients this summer. Over the next few years, we'll have a lot more information about whether or not this works.


Order Overturned

AZUZ: You heard Dr. Gupta mention that there's some controversy surrounding the use of embryonic stem cells. That's because getting them destroys the embryos. Many critics argue that this type of research can be done with other stem cells, but President Obama disagrees, and he says the work can and would be done responsibly. Suzanne Malveaux explores the debate over embryonic stem cells.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The executive order, the fulfillment of a controversial campaign promise.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If we are going to discard those embryos, and we know that there's potential research that could lead to curing debilitating diseases, Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's disease, if that possibility presents itself, then I think that we should, in a careful way, go ahead and pursue that research.

MALVEAUX: President Obama's order will direct the National Institutes of Health to develop revised guidelines on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research within 120 days. It will allow scientists to apply for government grants to support any stem cell research. Under President Bush, taxpayer money for embryonic stem cell research was limited, to be used for just a small number of stem cell lines that had already been created from destroyed embryos.

FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Without crossing a fundamental moral line, by providing taxpayer funding that would sanction or encourage further destruction of human embryos that have at least the potential for life.

MALVEAUX: Obama administration officials say this is a broader effort to end the Bush administration's practice of putting ideology over science. Critics who oppose the research argue that federal funding could lead down a slippery moral slope.

REP. ERIC CANTOR, (R) MINORITY WHIP: Federal funding of embryonic stem cell research can bring on embryo harvesting, perhaps even human cloning that occurs. We don't want that. That shouldn't be done. That's wrong.

MALVEAUX: Supporters say the new policy opens the door for research that may lead to cures for diabetes, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MISSOURI: My religion teaches me to heal the sick. And God gave us this intelligence to find cures for the sick. I think it's a great moment.

MALVEAUX: Critics argue it is immoral to use stem cells from human embryos because it requires destroying them. They say stem cells taken from adult bone marrow, the skin or placenta can also potentially create cells that will lead to curing disease. The issue crosses party lines, with notable Republicans Nancy Reagan, John McCain and Arlen Specter in support of Obama's plan.


Blog Promo

AZUZ: This is an issue that brings out a lot of opinions, and we want yours. Should scientists get money from the federal government in order to study embryonic stem cells? Head to our blog at and tell us what you think. And you can weigh in on our next story, as well. We're guessing it's one that will get your wheels turning.

Two Tire Tax?

AZUZ: Some Oregon lawmakers are peddling an idea that would require people to pay a fee for something we've all done: ride a bike! This isn't aimed at every two-wheeler, just cyclists who are over 18 and ride on highways. But as Adam Ghassemi of affiliate KATU in Portland reports, some bikers have already spoken out against the proposed bill.


ADAM GHASSEMI, KATU REPORTER: It may be a way to live greener and healthier, and around Portland it's just a part of the culture. But should you have to pay to ride your bike? Proposed House Bill 3008 would require cyclists to pay $54 every two years to register their bikes, a concept many say is a downright slap in the face.

DAVID BARTS, CYCLIST: And I'm already paying for the streets, and that is a sort of double taxation on bicyclists.

GHASSEMI: The money would go into a bicycle transportation improvement fund to pay for bike lanes, paths, as well as future projects. River City Bicycles owner David Guettler says it could work.

DAVID GUETTLER, OWNER, RIVER CITY BICYCLES: I don't know too many cyclists that would not sign up for $50 every two years to increase the level of safety.

GHASSEMI: But he's also worried some who rely solely on their bikes to get around might suffer.

GUETTLER: There's a lot of people that are not high-end bicycle riders that use their bike for transportation all the time, and putting a burden on those people I don't think would be a good idea.

GHASSEMI: What may be good, some say, is cyclists getting more rights on the road to hopefully curb any antagonizing.

HEATHER BEUSSE, CYCLIST: You can't imagine how many times you're biking uphill and some overweight person yells out of their car, "Get off the road. I paid for these roads!" And you're thinking, "I pay a lot of taxes myself, sir, and I'm keeping healthy and reducing health care costs."


Word to the Wise


nostalgia (noun) a longing for things or situations from the past


What's New is Old Again

AZUZ: It can be comforting, thinking about something you already have a connection with. That's why some toy companies are counting on nostalgia to help their sales during the current recession. Instead of new products, they're relaunching toys that you or even your parents might have played with when they were younger. Alina Cho explores the idea of moving forward by looking back.


BARBIE COMMERCIAL FROM 1961: It all started at the dance.

ALINA CHO, CNN REPORTER: In 1959, Barbie looked like this.

BARBIE COMMERCIAL: Think of the fun you'll have.

CHO: Now, she's 50. Look familiar? Mattel is bringing back Barbie's original face with a two-piece twist.

CHO: This is something that is tried and true.

NEIL FRIEDMAN, PRESIDENT, MATTEL BRANDS: Yes, it is, and when you have a tried and true classic brand or a brand that a consumer really knows and loves, there is much less risk.

CHO: Take Candyland.

CANDYLAND COMMERCIAL FROM 1950S: And you don't have to read to play.

CHO: The most popular toy of the 1940s is back, this time with a customized board. Hasbro is launching a new G.I. Joe and an update on the classic that has more than meets the eye.

TRANSFORMERS COMMERCIAL FROM 1980S: Transformers. Robots in disguise.

CHO: In a bad economy, when toy sales are down, nostalgia sells.

LINDA KAPLAN, THALER/MARKETING EXPERT: They were hits once. There's no reason why they shouldn't be hits again. These toys feel familiar, and there's a certain amount of comfort in knowing that.

CHO: To celebrate Barbie's 50th birthday, Toys "R" Us is selling the new version of the 1959 Barbie at what it calls the original $3.00 price. And there's nothing like a tie-in. This summer, new movies will be out featuring both the Transformers and G.I. Joe. In this tough economy, anything to drive sales. And one of the biggest selling points right now is nostalgia. Alina Cho, CNN, New York.


Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, some beauty pageant contestants that are real dogs. Luckily, they're supposed to be. Now, you might describe these cuddly canines as cute. Gotta love the hat and shades. But these are actually going for the opposite effect. You see, the point of this pageant is to find the ugliest dog! Or maybe the one that looks most like a leprechaun. The reigning rover is stepping down. Apparently she's just not ugly enough anymore.



AZUZ: Or maybe she just wanted a new challenge to embark on. That's where we pause for now. We'll see you again tomorrow.

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print