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CNN Student News Transcript: April 1, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Preview this week's meeting of global economic powers in London
  • Hear why some U.S. senators want to end a ban on travel to Cuba
  • Consider the potential threat posed by a widespread computer worm
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(CNN Student News) -- April 1, 2009

Quick Guide

G-20 Summit - Preview this week's meeting of global economic powers in London.

Cuba Travel Ban - Hear why some U.S. senators want to end a ban on travel to Cuba.

April Fools' Virus? - Consider the potential threat posed by a widespread computer worm.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Kicking off a new month, new day and new edition of CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: G-20 Summit

AZUZ: A gathering of representatives from 20 of the world's leading economic powers is what's first up today. This group is called the G-20, and it was established 10 years ago to address key issues in the global economy. Member nations come from around the world, from Argentina and Brazil in South America, to India and China in Asia, the entire European Union, and of course the U.S., the world's largest economy. At this week's G-20 meeting in London, the worldwide financial crisis looks to dominate the discussion. Charles Hodson gives us a preview.


Downloadable Maps

CHARLES HODSON, CNN ANCHOR: The last big summit was just four months ago, but did the Washington G-20 meeting really help? And will this week's London extravangaza speed recovery? There will be some visible differences at the gathering. Big difference number one: this man's no longer U.S. president.

FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: It would be a terrible mistake to allow a few months of crisis to undermine 60 years of success.

HODSON: Now, Barack Obama carries the hopes of America, and on his first big trip overseas, the world's hopes, too.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It will take many months and many different solutions to lead us out. There are no quick fixes and there are no silver bullets.

HODSON: Back in November, his election provided brief respite from the stomach-churning drama of Wall Street's biggest names collapsing, global stock prices sliding, and economies crumbling. The G-20 offered unity rather than specifics.

NICOLAS SARKOZY, FRENCH PRESIDENT: We all agreed in the necessity of the revival of coordinated and concerted economic action by all countries.

HODSON: The world has since drunk deep of the bitter cocktail of recession: unemployment, poverty and hopelessness. With workers losing their jobs everywhere, G-20 governments have four main weapons in their armories. First, fiscal stimulus: in the U.S. case, $787 billion worth; the European Union, $546 billion; and China, $585 billion. Then, cutting interest rates and anything that pushes money through a choked-up financial system, direct intervention in troubled sectors like banking and carmaking, and tighter regulation so banks will not overreach again.

There'll likely be a statement with many action points as in November, but ultimately, each nation will decide which it'll implement and which it'll simply ignore. Beyond that, if they have a good talk, cry on each other's shoulders and avoid a quarrel, it'll be a good outcome. So, will it make a difference? When it comes to recovering economies, nobody can honestly say which measures do the trick. After all, economists are still debating exactly what brought on the Great Depression 80 years ago, or what got the world out of it. Charles Hodson, CNN, London.


I.D. Me!

ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I'm an island nation that was discovered by Christopher Columbus. I was under Spanish rule until 1898. Following a revolution in 1959, I've had a tense relationship with the U.S. I'm Cuba, and I'm located less than 100 miles away from Florida!

Cuba Travel Ban

AZUZ: Part of that tense relationship between Cuba and the U.S. includes an American embargo, or restriction, on trade with the island nation, and most Americans aren't legally allowed to travel there. That ban has been in place for nearly 50 years following Cuba's communist revolution. But as Jim Acosta reports, a group of U.S. Senators are proposing a bill to end it.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN REPORTER: Tessie Aral, the owner of this Miami travel agency that specializes in trips to Cuba, is in a good mood these days. Ever since Washington loosened the travel restrictions on Cuban-Americans visiting the island, Aral says non-Cuban-Americans have been calling in wondering when they can join the party.

TESSIE ARAL, ABC CHARTERS: I think most Americans are going to want to try to travel to Cuba because it's been the forbidden fruit for so long.

SEN. BYRON DORGAN, (D) NORTH DAKOTA: We allow Americans to travel to China, to Vietnam; both communist countries.

ACOSTA: North Dakota Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan wants to do the same for Cuba, with a bill in Congress that would end all travel restrictions -- yes, all of them -- for Americans visiting the communist nation, arguing the Cold War-era policy aimed at the Castro government has failed.

DORGAN: Seems to me, if something has failed for nearly five decades, you might want to take a look at it again and see whether you should modify it.

ACOSTA: Dan Erikson, the author of the book "The Cuba Wars," says there's one problem with lifting the ban: the embargo which stops U.S. companies from doing business in Cuba.

DAN ERICKSON, AUTHOR, "THE CUBA WARS": So, you have American tourists traveling on to Cuba to drive around on Chinese buses, stay in Spanish hotels, eat Canadian food.

ACOSTA: They wouldn't be able to stay at a Marriott, at a Hilton. They wouldn't be able to use their Delta Sky Miles.

ERICKSON: There's no Hilton. There's no miles. The only drive-thru McDonald's I've ever seen in Cuba was at the military base at Guantanamo Bay.

ACOSTA: President Obama has hinted at changes in U.S. policy on Cuba, but never mentioned how much. On a trip to Chile, Vice President Joe Biden indicated support for the embargo, but added:

U.S. VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We thought there was a need for a transition in our policy toward Cuba.

ACOSTA: That transition would have to get past Cuban-Americans in Congress, like Senate Democrat Bob Menendez.

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ, (D) NEW JERSEY: The government is, pure and simple, a brutal dictatorship. The average Cuban worker lives on an income of less than a dollar a day.

ACOSTA: Travel agent Tessie Aral is one of a growing number of Cuban-Americans who say it's time to move on.

ARAL: For our country to tell us we're not free to choose where we want to travel to, I think that's just archaic.


April Fools' Virus?

AZUZ: Okay, switching gears. Today is April 1st, a day designed for pranks, and researchers hope that's all Conficker.c is. Analysts say this thing is a computer worm, one that's infected millions of machines and that is set to launch today. This could end up like the Y2K bug: hype about the year 2000 computer changeover that didn't really amount to much. But as Errol Barnett explains, security experts are taking this threat very seriously.


ERROL BARNETT, CNN REPORTER: Right now, the Conficker worm is moving through servers like these around the world. It has the best anti-worm researchers scrambling to figure out what to do, and the clock is ticking. It first surfaced last October, targeting computers using Microsoft's Windows software. Since then, it spread, evolved and become such a threat Microsoft is offering $250,000 to anyone who can stop it. Analysts say it's programmed to become active on April 1, and according to their research, here's how Conficker works: First the worm, which is a complex computer program, is created and sent out through the Internet. Landing in servers, it then searches for computers on the network to hack into. It preys on computers with weak network passwords, old anti-virus softare or Windows software not recently updated. But once inside, it creates a so-called "zombie computer" that could be controlled by the worm's designer.

One person who's been following this worm since it was created is Rik Ferguson. He's the senior security advisor at Trend Micro. He joins me now via webcam from England. Rik, once this worm gets into your computer, what can it do?

RIK FERGUSON, SENIOR SECURITY ADVISER, TRENDMICRO.COM: Well, in terms of what it's going to do on April the 1st, it's really anybody's guess. The worst case is that the outside estimates of the numbers of infected machines are true, and that's multiple millions. We could, for example, drown under a deluge of spam. We could have, alongside that spam, a vast number of previously unknown machines that are now infected, hosting malicious software which will create a vicious circle of more people getting infected.

BARNETT: Now, this is specifically targeting Microsoft users. Microsoft is telling its users to head to I have that pulled up here, where it says you can get a free PC safety scan. But if my computer's infected, I might have a problem getting to this site, correct?

FERGUSON: That's right. One of the things that the latest variant of this worm does is it blocks access to a large number of security-related and clean-up related Web sites, one of those being

BARNETT: And being that it comes out April 1st, any possibility that this is some sort of hacker's hoax?

FERGUSON: No. The people behind this software are very skilled programmers and they're very well informed. We've seen them incorporate updates using the latest encryption technology, literally as it was released, within this worm. These are very skilled cyber-criminals.

BARNETT: Alright, Rik Ferguson, the senior security advisor at Trend Micro. Appreciate your time talking to me via webcam as we continue to keep an eye on the Conficker worm, expected to activate on April 1st. From the CNN Center, I'm Errol Barnett.


Before We Go

AZUZ: And finally, we've got spirit, yes we do. But how 'bout these guys? Apparently, they do too, but they need some help harnessing it. That's why they're at mascot boot camp, churning through cheers, perfecting poses and probably sweating like crazy in those suits. Mascots actually have to learn how to whip a crowd into a frenzy, which apparently involves shaking a tail feather or two. We won't make any opinions about who's the best mascot.



AZUZ: And besides, we wouldn't want it to give any of them a big head. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.

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