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CNN Student News Transcript: March 25, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Witness what was said during a confrontation on Capitol Hill
  • Understand how an entire conference hinged on a single invitation
  • Slip behind the wheel of the cheapest car on the world market
  • Next Article in Living »
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(CNN Student News) -- March 25, 2009

Quick Guide

AIG Hearing - Witness what was said during a confrontation on Capitol Hill.

Peace Conference - Understand how an entire conference hinged on a single invitation.

World's Cheapest Car - Slip behind the wheel of the cheapest car on the world market.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: From a cancelled conference to some inexpensive wheels, we are hitting the road in today's edition of CNN Student News. Hi, everyone. I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: AIG Hearing

AZUZ: First up, confrontation on Capitol Hill over how the government is handling the bailout of this giant insurance company we've been telling you about: AIG. The officials in charge of the bailout, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, say that the government had no choice but to come to this company's rescue. Lawmakers grilled the government officials during a congressional hearing yesterday. One said that the $182 billion given to AIG is an outrage to taxpayers. Secretary Geithner said he understands that feeling.

U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY TIMOTHY GEITHNER: I share the anger and frustration of the American people, not just about the compensation practices at AIG and in other parts of our system, but that our financial system permitted a scale of risk taking that has caused grave damage to the lives of so many Americans.

AZUZ: All right, remember those controversial bonuses that AIG paid out to some of its employees? The New York state attorney general says that 15 of the 20 executives who got the biggest bonuses have given them back. All told, about $50 million of the $165 million in bonus money has been returned.

Malls Shorten Hours

AZUZ: And in another sign of the economic times, some of you might need to shift your shopping schedule, because that is what many malls are doing. Some of the country's biggest mall owners are cutting back their hours in response to slumping sales. Of course, that's due to the recession. Some critics think this move is going to be bad for stores and consumers, but mall owners say it'll help cut down on labor costs and reduce energy.

Blog Report

AZUZ: Lamiya's not gonna like this; she's among six or seven of you who say you like hanging out at the mall as a way to have fun without having to spend tons of money. Melissa says she loves to "sit down with a good book, historical fiction or facts, as a type of affordable entertainment." And Juniper's into sports, saying she likes "running around, swimming and jumping rope."

We have a quick poll up on our blog asking what you like to do when days are long and cash is short. "Talking with friends" leads the options. From Matthew: "Movies and TV just don't deliver reusable entertainment, but conversations and video games hit the nail on the head." Adam likes making Rube Goldberg contraptions, adding that he's "trying to construct one to open soda bottles." Jason enjoys "playing football, basketball, working out, hanging with friends, hanging with the 'ball and chain,'" his girlfriend. Jason's gonna be in trouble! And Courtney asks what I like to do when money is short. Movies, mountain biking, my gym and seeing my friends all come to mind.

I.D. Me!

ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I'm a country that contains the Cape of Good Hope. For decades, my residents lived under a policy of racial separation known as apartheid. That ended in 1994, when elections led the way to black majority rule. I'm South Africa, and I'm home to about 49 million people.

Peace Conference

AZUZ: Plans for a peace conference in South Africa have been canceled after the country denied entry to the Dalai Lama. You might recall this ongoing tension between the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, and the Chinese government, and it's all over the region of Tibet. South Africa, meanwhile, is hosting soccer's World Cup next year, and organizers wanted to use this conference to showcase the nation as a champion of human rights. Nkepile Mabuse explores the controversy surrounding the cancellation.


NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After two of South Africa's Nobel laureates, Desmond Tutu and former president F.W. De Klerk, decided they would boycott a peace conference scheduled to take place on Friday in Johannesburg, organizers of that conference had absolutely no choice but to cancel the whole event. This after the South African government refused to issue a visa for the Dalai Lama, who was also supposed to be at the event. Now, one of the organizers of the conference is Nelson Mandela's grandson, and he says that this decision by the South African government has tainted the country's image.

MANDLA MANDELA, CONFERENCE ORGANIZER: I'm very saddened today to see that someone like the Dalai Lama, who all of our laureates hold highly, has been turned down on the visa application. And I hope that as we strive forward to better our country and better our democracy, these are things that we in the future will look close to. I don't think that as a sovereign independent country, we need to succumb to international pressures.

MABUSE: Now, Nelson Mandela was among the Nobel laureates who extended an invitation to the Dalai Lama, and many in South Africa believe the government buckled under pressure from China not to allow the Dalai Lama to come here. China made no secret of the fact that the Dalai Lama's presence in South Africa at this time may strain trade relations between the two countries. Now, China is fast growing to be a very significant trading partner of South Africa, and the South African government has said it will do anything possible to protect the relationship that it has built with China. Many are now saying this is how far the South African government has gone to protect that relationship, by denying the Dalai Lama entry into this country. Nkepile Mabuse, CNN, Johannesburg.



NIVISON: Time for the Shoutout! Which of these cars is the most expensive? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it the: A) Bugatti Veyron, B) Rolls-Royce Phantom, C) Ferrari California or D) Tata Nano? You've got three seconds -- GO! At a price of around $1.5 million, the Bugatti Veyron leaves these other options in the dust. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

World's Cheapest Car

AZUZ: If you haven't heard of the Nano, that's because it's a new brand, and its price is actually on the other end of the spectrum from the Bugatti. In fact, for the cost of one Veyron, you could buy 7,500 Nanos! Production of the affordable auto will shift into high gear in a few months. Sara Sidner rolls out the details.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In India, a dramatic encounter with the vehicle being touted as the world's cheapest car. The world saw a similar scene a year ago, but this time the Tata Nano is finally ready to roll out to showrooms.

RATAN TATA, CHAIRMAN TATA: We hope that on a day like this, we will usher in a new form of transport. It never was conceived of as being the cheapest car. It was conceived of as being a car that would give the people of India an opportunity to own a car that had not been within their reach before. And I hope that that is what we will achieve. And I hope that we will achieve this, bearing in mind that we made a promise and that we have kept that promise.

SIDNER: Well, sort of. The lowest end Nano was supposed to be priced at 100,000 rupees, around $2,000. The standard version is priced that way, except that does not include transporting the car from the factory, so when customers finally see the car in showrooms, it will end up costing several hundred dollars more. The basic model will have no air conditioning, no air bags, and its top speed will be 105 kilometers, or about 60 miles per hour. Nevertheless, auto industry analysts say Tata has pulled off a major feat at that price.

MURAD ALI BAIG, AUTO INDUSTRY ANALYST: It will mark a new entry level for cars. It will be almost half the price of the cheapest hatchback that you can buy today.

SIDNER: Tata Motors is hoping the Nano will be the new "people's car," bridging the gap between motorcycles and cars the world round. In India, the two-wheeler is king of the road, often used by families all at once; a precarious proposition.

SURAJ SAROJ, FATHER (HINDI TRANSLATION): We need more space. Nano will have it. Now on the scooter, we have problems.

SIDNER: Environmentalists are not enthusiastic about the Nano.

AMANITA ROYCHOWDRY, CENTER FOR SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT: What is happening right now is that already when car numbers are exploding in Indian cities, what cheap motorization is going to do is to give that extra push. And that's what worries us. Anything that increases the number of cars on our roads is bad news.

SIDNER: But Tata Motors company points out the Nano does have high fuel efficiency and the lowest CO2 emissions among cars in its class. The first Nanos arrive in Indian showrooms on April first, no foolin'. But look out for them on the roads in July. Sara Sidner, CNN, New Delhi.


Before We Go

AZUZ: In that report, you might have noticed something strange: an elephant walking down the middle of the street. Or maybe that's not so unusual these days. But this pachyderm parade isn't in India. It's moving through Manhattan, and probably causing a traffic jam. This is all part of the annual animal walk, a tradition dating back nearly 140 years that takes place every time the circus comes to town.



AZUZ: And you herd about it right here on CNN Student News. I'm Carl Azuz.

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