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CNN Student News Transcript: April 23, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Examine concerns about increasing Taliban control in Pakistan
  • Hear why voting brings a sense of pride to many South Africans
  • Consider the potential impact of a shift in the Japanese diet
  • Next Article in Living »
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(CNN Student News) -- April 23, 2009

Quick Guide

Taliban Advance - Examine concerns about increasing Taliban control in Pakistan.

South Africa Votes - Hear why voting brings a sense of pride to many South Africans.

Recession Changes Diet - Consider the potential impact of a shift in the Japanese diet.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Friends, lend me your ears as we bring you headlines from around the globe. I'm Carl Azuz and this is CNN Student News!

First Up: Taliban Advance

AZUZ: First up, the Taliban extends its reach in Pakistan, raising concerns about the growing influence of that militant group. Earlier this year, the Pakistani government made a deal giving the Taliban control of the Swat Valley. That's a region near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan where the Taliban had unleashed a wave of violence. Some critics argued that the government shouldn't have budged an inch. And now, the Taliban is taking over more territory. Ivan Watson has the details.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, ISLAMABAD: Taliban militants patrol the streets just 60 miles from the Pakistani capital. Hundreds of Taliban fighters moved into Buner district from the neighboring Swat Valley, which they already control. Their commander says they're here to enforce Islamic Sharia law. Residents say the militants also warned barbers to stop shaving men's beards and stores to stop selling music and movies.

Last week, the Pakistani government signed a peace deal with this pro-Taliban cleric, Sufi Mohammed, allowing Sharia law to be imposed in Swat. On Sunday, he appeared before a crowd of thousands and denounced democracy, the Pakistani government and the Pakistani legal system, calling them un-Islamic. He said he wanted to spread Islamic justice across the rest of Pakistan. The same demand recently made here in Islamabad by hard-line cleric Mawlana Abdul Aziz. Fresh out of prison, he told thousands of worshippers praying in the streets of the Pakistani capital that the time had come for Islamic law.

The Taliban's already been carrying out its own form of vigilante justice in territories under its control. In a phone interview, the Taliban spokesman in Swat, Muslim Khan, told me that anyone who disagreed with their rule was a non-Muslim, and he said Osama bin Laden would be welcome in Taliban-controlled territory.

MUSLIM KHAN, TALIBAN SPOKESMAN: Sure. He's a Muslim, he can go anywhere. He can go anywhere in Pakistan.

WATSON: The Taliban have terrified lawyers in Swat, like Aftab Alam.

Is it dangerous to criticize the Taliban in Swat Valley right now?



ALAM: No comments.

WATSON: Pakistan's lawyers have been vocal and successful in challenging two governments in Islamabad to get an independent judge back on Pakistan's supreme court. But when it comes to the challenge of the Taliban, they are conspicuously silent. Aftab Alam says time is running out for Pakistan's ruling elite.

ALAM: In the near future, it can spread and engulf the whole country.

WATSON: The Pakistani government has made concessions in an attempt to appease the Taliban and try to undermine its base of popular support. That strategy now appears to have failed. The Taliban are emboldened, and the militants are creeping closer to the capital of this nuclear-armed country. Ivan Watson, CNN, Islamabad.


Clinton Reaction

AZUZ: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton believes that this situation poses a "mortal threat" to the safety and security of America and the world. She says the Pakistani government and the Pakistani people need to speak out about the potential danger of Pakistan falling under control of terrorists.

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We cannot underscore the seriousness of the existential threat posed to the state of Pakistan by the continuing advances, now within hours of Islamabad, that are being made by a loosely confederated group of terrorists and others who are seeking the overthrow of the Pakistani state.


ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! When did South Africa end apartheid, its policy of racial separation? If you think you know it, shout it out! Was it: A) 1974, B) 1984, C) 1994 or D) 2004? You've got three seconds -- GO! In 1994, South Africa's practice of apartheid ended. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

South Africa Votes

AZUZ: That same year, South Africa's first multi-racial elections resulted in black majority rule under the African National Congress or ANC. The party has been in power ever since, and experts say it's a foregone conclusion that the ANC will win this week's election. But as Robyn Curnow shows us, just having the ability to vote offers a sense of pride for many South Africans.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT, JOHANNESBURG: Nelson Mandela fought long and hard to win the right to vote. South Africa's former president is still clearly delighted at being able to again cast his ballot. And all those who suffered the indignities of apartheid with him, also quietly waiting to cast their hard-won ballot, braving the wind and the cold. Joining them outside the polling station, first time voters like Lucas.

LUCAS NOMBELANI, FIRST TIME VOTER: I woke up today (unintelligible) and said, "I'm going to vote." And I'm here now, going to vote to make a better future for my younger brother and for the new generation.

CURNOW: They are among a record 23 million registered voters in the country. Unlike in previous years, far more young people were expected to vote, galvanized perhaps by savvier campaigning on Facebook, Twitter and text messages, and Barack Obama's election, which many say underscored just how important one vote could be.

You just voted for the first time?

NOMBELANI: Yeah, (unintelligible) it was very happy. I'm very happy to vote for the first time. How it feels, you know, the taste. I think that's just my part and I'm happy.

BONGANI NTOMBELA, FIRST TIME VOTER: Yeah, well, I guess it's not, it didn't feel like it's just a scribble and everything. For a moment, I paused and like, OK, whichever cross I make, on whichever party I make, I guess it's going to make a difference. And I hope whoever I voted for makes it today.


Is this Legit?

NIVISON: Is this legit? Japan has the second-largest economy in the world. Totally true! The country's economy is second in size only to the U.S.

Recession Changes Diet

AZUZ: Just like the U.S., Japan's economy is in recession, so people there are looking for ways to save. When it comes to eating, for many, that means tossing aside traditional meals in order to feast on fast food. The shift might seem like much ado about nothing, but as Kyung Lah explains, some health professionals think it's cause for concern.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT, TOKYO: Lunchtime in downtown Tokyo: American, fast and cheap. The Golden Arches, the golden ticket for job seeker Sakumi Nakajo.

SAKUMI NAKAJO, MCDONALD'S CUSTOMER: They were decreasing prices. I think that is why everyone comes here to get the lunch, because everything is so cheap.

LAH: Ditching the sushi roll for the Happy Meal, Japan is biting into more burgers. The recession's tough times have been a cash cow for the king of burgers. McDonald's in Japan posted a historic sales record of more than five billion U.S. dollars in 2008. It's not just the dollar menu, says McDonald's, it's the whole deal.

KAZUYUKI HAGIWARA, MCDONALD'S CORP. RELATIONS [TRANSLATED]: Our product offers the value that matches the price. That's why customers support us.

LAH: But you will eventually pay, says Dr. Iwao Sasaki.

So, the McDonald's diet is upside down?


LAH: "That's right," says Dr. Sasaki. He says the Japanese diet of fish and veggies is ideal for the country's infamous longevity and health, but it's rapidly on the decline in this recession. On the increase, says Dr. Sasaki, two all beef patties and Japan's waistline.

You should choose food not for its price tag, says Dr. Sasaki, but what's good for your body.

The traditional Japanese meal is low fat and quite healthy. But it also costs at least twice as much as a Value Meal. It's why restaurant bankruptcies in Tokyo, especially Japanese restaurants, are on track to break records this year, a stark contrast to McDonald's success. McDonald's says any food in excess without exercise is bad for your health, and stresses a balanced lifestyle, which includes pricier Japanese food, is best. But for a lunch crowd trying to pinch pennies in this economic downturn, that's a tough sell. Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.


Before We Go

AZUZ: It's been said that all the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players. Forsooth, this be the gent that penned the phrase! The noble bard, whose name you know: Shakespeare! His work for centuries has been revered. And so, on this, the day that marks his birth, Mayor Daley of Chicago proves his worth by asking all that speaketh in the land to do so in the words of this great man.



AZUZ: You may say it's just sound and fury signifying nothing, but methinks thou doth protest too much. Parting is such sweet sorrow that we shan't say "so long." We'll just see you tomorrow.

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