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CNN Student News Transcript: April 16, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Drink in the details of "tea party" protests that took place around the U.S.
  • Discover why a marriage in Saudi Arabia is causing international controversy
  • Find out how a robotic stuffed animal is offering therapy to Japan's elderly
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(CNN Student News) -- April 16, 2009

Quick Guide

Tax Tea Parties - Drink in the details of "tea party" protests that took place around the U.S.

Saudi Bride - Discover why a marriage in Saudi Arabia is causing international controversy.

Cuddly Therapy - Find out how a robotic stuffed animal is offering therapy to Japan's elderly.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: We're in the midst of National Library Week, so today's show goes out to all the librarians and media specialists in schools around the country. Thanks for doing what you do. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Tax Tea Parties

AZUZ: First up, American cities host more than 300 tea parties, but we're not talking about sipping hot drinks out of fancy cups. These are more like that famous tea party that took place in Boston in 1773, and just like that one, it's about taxes. Back then, the party cry was "no taxation without representation." Yesterday's tea parties - "T" standing for "Taxed Enough Already" - were protests against President Obama's bailout policies. Demonstrators believe those practices are putting a big burden on taxpayers. Samantha Hayes has more on the protests.

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PERSON ON THE STREET #1: We the people demand a return to the Constitution of limited federal government, limited taxation.

SAMANTHA HAYES, CNN NEWSOURCE CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON, D.C.: Fed up with high taxes, bailouts and President Barack Obama's proposed $3.6 trillion dollar budget, hundreds of demonstrations called tea parties are being attended and promoted by conservative media outlets all over the country, including Indianapolis, Indiana, Montgomery, Alabama...

PERSON ON THE STREET #2: Taxation with representation isn't so great either.

HAYES: And of course, Boston, home of the pre-revolutionary tea party in 1773.

ANDREW LANGER, INSTITUTE FOR LIBERTY: I think this is sort of the first real test as to whether there's a movement that's out there.

HAYES: Andrew Langer, whose organization fights for lower taxes and helped sponsor the tax day tea party, says it's aimed at both Democrats and Republicans.

LANGER: The fact is, when it comes to spending and growing the size of government, neither party is innocent over the last eight years; both parties have been complicit in all this.

HAYES: But President Barack Obama, speaking from Washington, says he's been true to his campaign promises.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We've given tax relief to the Americans who need it and the workers who have earned it.

HAYES: Georgia Congressman Tom Price, a leading GOP voice in the House, says the Obama administration needs to take note.

REP. TOM PRICE, (R) GEORGIA: What people have seen is a move in a direction they don't recognize.

HAYES: Joe the Plumber, who you may recall questioned Obama during the presidential campaign about raising taxes, was the featured speaker during a protest in Lansing, Michigan. For CNN Student News, I'm Samantha Hayes.


Pirates Thwarted

AZUZ: Heading overseas to waters near Somalia, where pirates are acting on their vow of revenge against U.S. ships, attacking the Liberty Sun, the ship you see here, earlier this week. Luckily, the Liberty escaped and was being escorted to safety by the U.S.S. Bainbridge, that's the same Navy ship that was involved in the recent rescue of pirate hostage Richard Phillips.

And more bad news for high-seas hijackers: The French Navy captured 11 suspected pirates on Wednesday. They were caught off the coast of Kenya after attacking a ship there. The European Union, NATO and the U.S. have been patrolling the region in response to increased pirate activity.

Saudi Bride

AZUZ: Now we're taking you to Saudi Arabia and a marriage that's raising concern around the world. The bride is just eight years old. One expert points out that while child marriages aren't uncommon in some parts of the world, they can be seen as a violation of human rights. There's nothing illegal about this situation based on Saudi law, but the country's top justice official is working on a plan that would protect young girls from these kinds of marriages. Mohammed Jamjoom reports on this controversial situation.


MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN REPORTER: An eight-year-old girl is denied a divorce from a 47-year-old man for the second time. In the deeply conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where women must cover and religious police are constantly on patrol, this latest verdict has shocked many, none moreso than women's rights activists.

WAJEHA AL-HUWAIDER, WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST: It made us really sad, you know. Why do we have to go through all this hassle to make something, to correct something that was wrong from the beginning?

JAMJOON: Details of the case emerged in December, when a judge in the city of Onaiza first refused to annul the marriage on a technicality. Since the girl's mother is not considered her legal guardian, she didn't have the authority to petition the court. According to the mother's lawyer, the girl is living with her mother and still doesn't know she's married. What's more, the girl's mother only found out about the marriage by accident, saying it was arranged by another family member. A court of appeals then took up the case, rejected the initial verdict and asked the judge to reconsider his ruling. This week, the original judge reviewed the case once more and refused to grant a divorce, again. CNN tried unsuccessfully to reach out to both the girl's father and the judge in this case.

Child marriages have recently become a hot-button issue in Saudi Arabia. On one side of the debate are the moderates who want a law passed specifying a minimum age for marriage. On the other side are the hardline conservatives, like the country's top cleric, who was quoted in the Saudi press saying that it was ok for girls as young as 10 years old to marry. Rights groups are outraged. UNICEF has issued a statement of concern in this case and says child marriages should not be allowed under any circumstance.

ANN VENEMAN, UNICEF EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: It is a violation of these children's rights, and it's a violation of what is good for children all the way around. And it should not be tolerated anywhere.

JAMJOON: Meanwhile, the new Saudi minister of justice, considered more liberal than the man he replaced in February, told a Saudi newspaper that he is preparing a new child marriage law and it will be enacted soon. It's unclear if a new law would help in this case. A close relative tells CNN that the court of appeals will hear the case in the next few weeks again. Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN, Atlanta.


A Word to the Wise...


therapeutic (adjective) relating to the treatment or cure of a medical condition


Cuddly Therapy

AZUZ: A Japanese scientist believes in the therapeutic benefits of a baby seal. That's why he built one! You see, the animal is actually animatronic, and its inventor created it to be interactive. It's not a toy, though. As Kyung Lah explains, the stuffed animal is meant to help medical patients, and so far, it's showing positive benefits.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT, TOKYO: You can't help but giggle. He is, after all, cute. But this robot baby seal named Paro is so much more, says inventor Takanori Shibata. With more than 100 sensors, Paro responds to light, specific voices and even language. All this artificial intelligence planned with a purpose. Sometimes, these nursing home residents can be withdrawn, distant and lonely. But when Paro shows up, the visible change is immediate. 85-year-old Masako Asaga suffers from the effects of an aneurysm. The nursing home claims Paro helped bring back her ability to speak.

MASAKO ASAGA, NURSING HOME RESIDENT [TRANSLATED]: "She's my friend," says Asaga. "I come here to play with her."

LAH: The inventor believes Paro has the potential to help those who are even more ill, like this Alzheimer's patient in Italy. Paro appears to help him communicate with the therapist. While there are no formal, long-term medical studies on Paro's impact, Denmark is purchasing 1,000 of the robots for its elderly, and testing is underway in 20 American nursing homes and hospitals. Shibata hopes cute little Paro, part animal therapy, part robot, could help comfort the rapidly aging population and unlock some of the mysteries of the mind. Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.


Blog Report

AZUZ: Turning to our blog at On the subject of honoring the fallen, Mr. Merritte's communications class says that "by allowing media access to the flag-draped coffins, Americans realize the cost of war in human terms." But Jordan wrote, "Death is a private thing. For those who loved or cared for the deceased, hearing it on the news would just cause more pain."

A student from the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility doesn't like the fact that they're naming stadiums after corporations, saying, "It's more attractive to have the team name or city on the stadium." But Ryan doesn't think putting company names on sports stadiums is a bad thing: "All the company is doing is advertising."

On the topic of texting, Amy says she has friends who've become ridiculously addicted to cell phones, "not even being able to stop texting for 15 minutes; face-to-face communication is going down the drain." From Adam: "I don't even have a cell phone, but don't really want one. I can't even figure out a dishwasher, let alone a cell phone."

Before We Go

AZUZ: Finally, if you've ever watched any of those TV talent contests, you know it's kind of hard to judge whether a contestant's going to be amazing or awful just based on how they look at first. When 47-year-old Susan Boyle stepped onto the stage on a recent episode of "Britain's Got Talent," the judges, including Simon Cowell, weren't sure what to expect. But we're guessing they probably didn't expect this:

SUSAN BOYLE, "BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT" CONTESTANT [SINGING]: I dreamed a dream in times gone by,
When hope was high and life worth living.
I dreamed that love would never die,
I dreamed that God would be forgiving.



AZUZ: Awesome perfomance! We figured Susan could help us end the show on a high note. We'll be back tomorrow to close out the week. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.

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