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CNN Student News Transcript: April 28, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Travel to Mexico to explore how the current swine flu outbreak began
  • Hear how the Taliban gathers support from some impoverished Pakistanis
  • Mark the end of an era as a famous car brand reaches the end of its road
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(CNN Student News) -- April 28, 2009

Quick Guide

Swine Flu Mystery - Travel to Mexico to explore how the current swine flu outbreak began.

Taliban Rural Revolt - Hear how the Taliban gathers support from some impoverished Pakistanis.

Pontiac: End of the Road - Mark the end of an era as a famous car brand reaches the end of its road.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: How is a militant group claiming to be like a modern-day Robin Hood? We've got the details coming up. I'm Carl Azuz and this is CNN Student News.

First Up: Earthquake in Mexico

AZUZ: We begin in Mexico today, where residents facing a health crisis are dealing with an earthquake as well. The quake struck yesterday near the resort city of Acapulco. It measured a magnitude of 5.6, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The tremor was felt as far away as Mexico City, where people headed out of buildings and into the streets. There were no initial reports of damage or injury immediately following the earthquake.

Swine Flu Mystery

AZUZ: You might have noticed some people in that video wearing masks. That is because of the swine flu outbreak we've reported about. Yesterday, Mexican officials confirmed that at least 20 deaths were connected to the virus. The World Health Organization says there are at least 75 confirmed cases of swine flu worldwide, including at least 40 in the U.S. The organization has raised its pandemic alert to a level four. That means that the virus is significantly capable of being transmitted between people. The U.S. government has declared a public health emergency because of the outbreak. President Obama says this is a precautionary measure.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We are closely monitoring the emerging cases of swine flu in the United States. This is obviously a cause for concern and requires a heightened state of alert, but it is not a cause for alarm.

AZUZ: Doctor Sanjay Gupta went to Mexico, where this outbreak began, to explore some of the questions surrounding the virus.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Two weeks ago, Mexico City: A young woman is rushed to the hospital.

DR. ALEJANDRO MACIAS, SENIOR ADVISER, FEDERAL MINISTRY OF HEALTH: She goes to the hospital, she doesn't feel well, she's febrile, she feels short of breath, she goes to the hospital. In a very short time, she develops failure to take a good breath. We had people to put the patient in a machine.

Downloadable Maps

GUPTA: A medical mystery. What no one couldīve known at that time: the patient had a brand new virus, H1N1, swine flu, and it was about to spread around the world. So, we decided to fly to Mexico City to investigate. We've arrived in Mexico City, the plane ride was sort of unremarkable, a lot of people talking about the swine flu, somewhat concerned. But as soon as we got here, there was obviously something going on here. Just take a look at all the people, a lot of people wearing masks. A lot of people have concerns, adults and children alike, very concerned about this swine flu. We are in Mexico City because we want to go to this hospital where this all started, to see if we might establish some clues as to where this is going.

And clues started to emerge. At first, it was thought to be a late season flu, but something didn't make sense to us. It wasn't the very young and the elderly that were dying, it was people mainly between the ages of 20 and 50.

MACIAS: No doubt about it, this is terrible. I mean, this is a new disease, a new virus. No people have defenses against the virus. It's not good for Mexico or for the world.

GUPTA: And there was something else: it was very contagious. Swine flu is normally spread from pigs to humans, but here it can live anywhere, and hand-to-mouth contact is the biggest concern. ATM machines, computers, all potentially holding the virus.

MACIAS: The most efficient way of transmission is your hands.

GUPTA: This doctor doesn't even bother wearing a mask, and no one seems to understand why Mexico has been so hard hit. It is a mystery which we will investigate. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Mexico City.



ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! Which of these countries is Pakistan? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A, B, C or D? You've got three seconds -- GO! On this map, Pakistan is B; the country's located between India, Iran and Afghanistan. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Taliban Rural Revolt

AZUZ: U.S. Admiral Michael Mullen says he is "very alarmed" by the growing threat of extremism in Pakistan, specifically, the influence of the Taliban. This militant group says it's there to impose sharia law, a strict interpretation of Islamic law that's practiced by the group. As Ivan Watson explains, the Taliban is using that practice to gather support from local Pakistanis.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, PAKISTAN: A father and son cutting grass to eke out a living. Mohammed Daoud and 15-year-old Feisal are illiterate and desperately poor. Their only hope to ease this burden of poverty: sharia Islamic law.

MOHAMMED DAOUD, WATER BUFFALO FARMER [TRANSLATED]: "Only rich people get justice in Pakistan," Daoud says. "We hope with sharia, life will get better."

WATSON: That is exactly what the Taliban is demanding to win the hearts and minds of tens of millions of poor Pakistanis. These are the people the militants are trying to appeal to, and they're promising them something that many Pakistanis don't have. They're promising them a sense of justice. Many Pakistanis complain they have no fair shake in this society. The Taliban say they have the answer: Islamic sharia law. Amnesty International says the Taliban have promoted themselves as a kind of Islamic Robin Hood, attacking wealthy landlords and corrupt bureaucrats, shutting down court houses, and replacing secular judges with Muslim clerics.

SAM ZARIFI, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: The Taliban move into an area. They use local existing resentments, that's for sure. They scare away some local thieves, they certainly impose very, very quick justice, very harsh justice, and initially, in some places, they are even welcomed.

WATSON: But if farmers like Babar Hussein have their way, Taliban justice means taking away freedoms from Pakistani women.

Should they be driving cars?

BABAR HUSSEIN, FARMER [TRANSLATED]: "Women should not even come out of their houses," he says. "That is against Islam."

WATSON: Music, too is against the Taliban's strict interpretation of Islam. If the Taliban's rural revolt succeeds, it will bring silence to the Pakistani countryside.


Hunger Strike

AZUZ: Following up on a story out of Iran, where American journalist Roxana Saberi is on a hunger strike. The news was confirmed by her father, who says Saberi plans to continue the protest until she's freed from jail. Saberi was convicted of espionage earlier this month and sentenced to eight years in prison. The U.S. government says Saberi is not a spy and President Obama has called for her release. Saberi is planning to appeal her conviction.

Is this Legit

NIVISON: Is this legit? The first Pontiac vehicle was introduced in the 1920s. Legit! The brand, which is part of the General Motors family, made its debut at the 1926 New York auto show.

Pontiac: End of the Road

AZUZ: By the end of next year, the brand will be gone. It's part of GM's plan to stay in business. The automaker also says it'll lay off about 23,000 workers by 2011. Many of those cuts were first announced back in February. GM says it's focusing on some of its core brands like Chevy and Cadillac. Which means for Pontiac, it's the end of era.


AZUZ: There'll be less "excitement" at General Motors. After more than 80 years, its excitement division, Pontiac, has reached the end of the road. Maker of such streamlined beauties as this 1954 Bonneville Special -- only two of these ever rolled -- the company picked up speed as a performance brand in the years that followed.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just sitting in this car, you feel like you're stepping back in time.


AZUZ: But by 1979, when this TransAm bandit stalked the streets, Pontiac had reached peak power, and began a long, downhill drive. Despite selling more than 267,000 vehicles last year, and assembling such models as the smooth-lined Solstice, company sales have dropped 70% in the last three decades. And when models lose money, even classic American muscle loses its strength. So, whether it hit the road in 1929 or 2009, soon, every Pontiac will be a classic.



AZUZ: We've been getting great comments on our blog about what grade you'd give President Obama on his first 100 days in office. But we can always use more! Head to and keep those report cards coming! Plus, tune in to CNN tomorrow night starting at 7 p.m. eastern for coverage of the president's press conference marking this 100-day milestone.

Before We Go

AZUZ: To be honest with you, we were striking out on ideas for today's Before We Go segment until we heard Mackenzie Brown was doing the same thing! Striking out. When the 12-year-old little leaguer took the mound last week, she struck out 18 batters, all guys, making her the first female in the history of her city's little league to pitch a perfect game. Word of her skills spread fast. A few days later, Mackenzie got called up to the majors!



AZUZ: And by that we mean she got to throw out the first pitch at a Mets game. That's where we wrap up today's show. We'll take the field again tomorrow. See you then.

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