(CNN Student News) -- April 24, 2009
Pakistan Update - Discover how close the Taliban militant group is to Pakistan's capital.
Counting the Vote - Journey to South Africa's capital, where all eyes are on poll results.
Local Currency - Find out how a North Carolina town is literally the land of "Plenty."
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Well, it is Friday -- which is marginally acceptable. We are glad you're spending part of it with CNN Student News. I'm Carl Azuz.
AZUZ: We begin in Pakistan, where government forces are being deployed against the advance of the Taliban. As we reported yesterday, the militant group is trying to expand its reach from the Swat Valley into Buner District. The government says that violates a deal it made with the Taliban. Yesterday, a van carrying Pakistani troops in the region came under attack. One police official was killed; another one was wounded. The military says these troops are being sent to Buner to protect civilians and property. The Taliban says it's there to impose Sharia, or Islamic, law, and its members won't disturb courts, schools or hospitals. As Ivan Watson reports, a greater concern is that this advance will reach Pakistan's capital.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, ISLAMABAD: News of the Taliban advance spreading fear in the Pakistani capital. This newspaper vendor repeats a somewhat misleading headline: "The Taliban Has Entered Islamabad." That's not exactly true, yet. But residents here are getting worried.
ALI REZA, STUDENT: Yeah, I think it's dangerous for Islamabad because they are coming to attack on Islamabad.
HAIDER ABBAS RIZVI, PARLIAMENT MEMBER, MQM PARTY: Taliban's spreading too fast, too furious.
WATSON: Lawmaker Haider Abbas Rizvi says the Pakistani government has to act fast.
RIZVI: There's just one city between Taliban and Islamabad, and that's the city of Harripur. And Harripur starts right after these mountains.
WATSON: Taliban fighters emerged from their stronghold in Pakistan's Swat Valley this week, taking control of Buner, just 60 miles from the Pakistani capital. Local Pakistani officials say the Taliban are also armed and operating in the districts of Shangla and Upper Dir, in violation of a peace agreement signed by the Pakistani government last week. So far, the federal government is standing by that agreement.
ABDUL BASIT, FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: Agreement is a local solution to a local problem, and we do believe that its implementation will bring peace and stability to that region.
WATSON: But families have started to flee Buner, fearful of what's to come. Shops are closed, market streets deserted, the police stations and courthouses in this alpine region locked shut. The Taliban say they want to impose their strict version of Islamic Sharia law across Buner and the rest of Pakistan.
The Taliban have issued a direct challenge to the legitimacy of the Pakistani state. The U.S. government, the Pakistani media and some Pakistani politicians are sounding the alarm about this growing and approaching threat. But from the Pakistani government, there is little sense of urgency. Ivan Watson, CNN, Islamabad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AZUZ: They say the waiting is the hardest part, but that's what South Africa is doing as results of Wednesday's presidential election are tallied. In the U.S., outcomes are usually announced pretty quickly. But in South Africa, which has 23 million registered voters, all the counting is done by hand. Nkepile Mabuse explains what the results might mean for the future of South African politics.
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NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, JOHANNESBURG: The focus of the South African election has moved away from polling statons to this election nerve center in the capital city, Pretoria. Now, this is where all the results from polling stations from around the country are being captured and then posted on these big screens for all to see.
Now of course, the three main political parties that everybody is keeping their eyes on are the ruling ANC. Will they be able to mantain their 2/3 parliamentary majority? And the other two main parties, their two opposition parties: the Democratic Alliance, the official opposition in South Africa, and then COPE, a party that broke away from ANC just a few months ago.
These elections have been described as the most important and most exciting elections since democracy in 1994. It's very difficult to tell when official results will be released, but it's expected it may be as early as Saturday. Nkepile Mabuse, CNN, Pretoria, South Africa.
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AZUZ: That means we don't have the results for you today. But if you want to check them out when they do come in, head over to CNN.com over the weekend.
ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mr. Bain's government classes at Union City High School in Union City, Michigan. In what decade was the first universal credit card introduced? You know what to do. Was it the: A) 1920s, B) 1930s, C) 1940s or D) 1950s? You've got three seconds -- GO! Individual companies offered credit cards in the 1920s, but the universal cards that could be used all over came out in the 1950s. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: President Obama says that credit cards are an important convenience, and he wants to protect consumers from some of the problems that can sometimes come with them. Yesterday, he met with executives from credit card companies to discuss the issue. Congress is considering legislation that would clamp down on rates and fees. Credit card representatives have concerns, though, especially because the proposed laws would prevent the companies from reacting to risky behavior from card users.
Blog Promo - The First 100 Days
AZUZ: The economic crisis is probably the biggest issue that President Obama has taken on during his first 100 days in office, but it's not the only one. The 100-day milestone is coming up next week, and it's time for a report card! We want you to head to our blog and grade the president on his first 100 days!
NIVISON: Here's the deal: Today's Money Word is currency. Currency includes coins and paper that are issued by the government and that can be traded for goods and services. Essentially, it's the physical representation of money. Put that in your word bank!
AZUZ: Food, clothes, gas: Just about everything requires money. But where can you get it when times are tight? Since money doesn't grow on trees -- at least that's what your mother told you -- maybe you could create your own currency. That is what some towns are doing in an attempt to energize the local economy. Brooke Baldwin cashes in the details.
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BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN REPORTER: In the wake of the economic downturn, local communities have taken note. Not this kind of note, rather, their own note, by printing local currency. In Pittsboro, North Carolina, they call it the "Plenty."
MELISSA FREY, PLENTY CURRENCY COOPERATIVE: We're all struggling, right? So, the idea is to build ourselves back up, and the Plenty allows us to do that.
BALDWIN: Melissa Frey is behind this new push in Pittsboro to relaunch the Plenty, a once-defunct local currency that, come May 12th, will be backed by this bank.
FREY: You can take nine federal dollars, go into Capital Bank, and exchange it for 10 Plentys. So, you're essentially getting a 10% discount on your local purchases by doing that.
BALDWIN: The point: spend locally; the perk: get a discount. Already, a handful of businesses accept the Plenty, including Chatham Marketplace. Mary Demare says much of the motivation is psychological.
MARY DEMARE, GENERAL MANAGER, CHATHAM MARKETPLACE: You can spend locally all you want with U.S. currency. But once you turn them into Plentys, you're saying, "I'm keeping this money right here."
BALDWIN: That's a message reminiscent of the Great Depression. Banks were closing, cash was short. So, local governments issued "scrip" to keep commerce flowing. Currently, about a dozen communities use local currency. One of the oldest is "Ithaca Hours," which went into circulation in 1991. The largest system is in Massachusetts, where about 350 businesses accept "Berkshares." And in Detroit, three business owners are now accepting the "Cheer." This concept of community currency is perfectly legal, according to the federal government, just as long as this doesn't resemble this. You still pay taxes to Uncle Sam just the same. But one economist says this idea doesn't add up.
EDWARD VAN WESEP, ASST. PROFESSOR OF FINANCE, UNC-CHAPEL HILL: If people want to stimulate the local economy by spending locally, they can do it with dollars just as well as anything else.
BALDWIN: Edward Van Wesep is an assistant finance professor at the University of North Carolina.
VAN WESEP: The idea of keeping money in the community doesn't actually make a lot of sense. You don't want to keep money in the community. You want to trade with other communities. Thats what makes everybody wealthy.
BALDWIN: Perhaps in Pittsboro and elsewhere, it's less about getting rich and more about a commitment to the community. Brooke Baldwin, CNN, Pittsboro, North Carolina.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Before We Go
AZUZ: Keeping with the currency theme here, some clothes can cost you a pretty penny. This one will run you about 10 million of them. It is the world's most expensive suit. Price tag: around $100,000! It's made from gold and platinum threads, rare silks and wool, and of course, diamond buttons in gold settings. Although the tie isn't included, so you'll need to save up for that. Hands off, mister reporter, this suit is fit for a king.
AZUZ: And it offers a tailor-made ending to today's show. We hope that pun was suitable. Check out the official CNN Student News Facebook page over the weekend. We got a new video up for you. And we will see you again on Monday.