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CNN Student News Transcript: May 12, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Find out why the road to health care reform may not be a smooth ride
  • Witness a Chinese town's rebirth one year after a deadly earthquake
  • Celebrate the culmination of college with New Orleans' "Katrina Class"
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(CNN Student News) -- May 12, 2009

Quick Guide

Easier Said than Done? - Find out why the road to health care reform may not be a smooth ride.

Rebuilding Yaojin - Witness a Chinese town's rebirth one year after a deadly earthquake.

Katrina Class - Celebrate the culmination of college with New Orleans' "Katrina Class."



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Space Shuttle Atlantis, taking off on its mission to the Hubble telescope. CNN Student News is also ready to take flight. This is your captain, Carl Azuz.

First Up: Easier Said than Done?

AZUZ: President Obama says the medical industry is on board with his plan to overhaul the country's health care system. He needs that support, because they're the ones who will have to make the changes. Some Republicans say the president hasn't explained how he'll pay for this new plan Obama says without it, the country's budget could end up on a "disastrous path."


AZUZ: The Obama administration says health care costs are out of control, and they're only going to get higher if nothing is done. So, the president's trying to slow those cost increases by proposing a new health care system, and that's why he met with some leaders of the health care industry on Monday. They say they're committed to reducing the growth in national health care spending. For example, if everything goes as planned, a family of four could save $2,500 five years from now. The president liked what he heard.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We are on an unsustainable course that threatens the financial stability of families, businesses and government itself.

AZUZ: But medical organizations have another reason to work with the president: They don't want Congress to make any laws determining medical prices. So, they're hoping that by promising to cut costs themselves, they'll keep the government from doing it. And the Obama administration says it doesn't have a way to enforce the companies' cost-cutting commitment other than saying who's kept their promise and who hasn't. So, the road to reform is anything but paved smoothly.



AZUZ: Checking out a couple other headlines now, starting in Iran. Roxana Saberi, whom you see in this file video, is free. The Iranian-American journalist was being held in prison in Iran after being sentenced to eight years on charges of espionage, or spying. Saberi denied the charges. Her release came one day after the country's court of appeals heard her case and changed the sentence. White House officials say President Obama, who had called for Saberi's release, was "relieved" at the news.

Staying in the Middle East, but moving to Israel. Pope Benedict the XVI visited the nation yesterday, the first time any Pope has been there in nine years. During his visit, Pope Benedict urged Israelis and Palestinians to end their long-running conflict, and he called for understanding and cooperation between all religions. The pope also visited Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, where he paid tribute to the millions of Jewish victims of Nazi Germany and prayed that "humanity will never again witness a crime of such magnitude."

Word to the Wise


epicenter (noun) the location on the earth's surface directly above where an earthquake begins

source: U.S. Geological Survey

Rebuilding Yaojin

AZUZ: In China's Sichuan Province, many residents are still rebuilding after a deadly earthquake that hit one year ago today. The 7.9-magnitude tremor claimed nearly 70,000 lives, with almost 18,000 more people still missing. But in a city just 17 miles from the quake's epicenter, residents are leading a relatively normal life. John Vause explains how volunteers from half a world away helped this town recover from the devastation.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What happened here in the small village of Yaojin is about more than bricks and mortar, of houses and buildings now standing where once there was rubble. This is where a community has been rebuilt, where confidence and hope, shattered as easily as concrete turned to powder, have been reborn.

"From the bathrooms to the kitchen, it's just like living in the city," the village leader told me. We're just 17 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake, and life has returned to Yaojin. It's ordinary, everyday life, and in this place, that seems extraordinary.

DAVID DARG, OPERATION BLESSING: We were able to go in and erase the fact that an earthquake wiped out their hope, wiped away their lives and their houses. And now they're living in a new village.

VAUSE: David Darg and a small team from Operation Blessing, a U.S.-based charity, arrived in Sichuan three days after the earth shook, bringing destruction across an area about the size of Spain. More than 69,000 dead, hundreds of thousands hurt, and millions were left homeless. Everywhere they looked, there was overwhelming need. So, they made a difficult choice.

DARG: We wanted to focus our efforts and make an impact on one location, rather than spread ourselves thin and try and help as many people as possible.

VAUSE: They chose Yaojin because here, they say, the villagers had shown a gritty determination to help themselves. And over the next year, men and women, old and young, more than two hundred people worked together to rebuild their homes .

DARG: They don't really care how tiring it is, they're just going to do it.

VAUSE: David and his wife Naomi spent the first eight months of marriage in Yaojin.

WOMAN: Merry Christmas!

VAUSE: Her father, an engineer, visited from Australia and designed the buildings with extra steel, enough to survive another quake.

PAUL KEVIN, CONSTRUCTION ENGINEER: So, if a building is being shaken, the walls won't crack in a horizontal line.

VAUSE: So, 11 months after they began...

DARG: We're finally moving them out of their temporary shelters.

VAUSE: ...And into their new homes. Never had a bathroom before, indoor plumbing. Mr. Chen proudly showed me around his 2-story, 5-bedroom home.

"We didn't have anything after the earthquake," he says. "How can we think this could happen?" 253 people live here in Yaojin. The village, they say, is bigger and better built than before the earthquake. But across the quake zone, they're the fortunate ones. Many are still living in temporary housing, unsure when they, too, will have a real home of their own. John Vause, CNN, Yaojin, China.



TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! What is the name of this song? Is it: A) Pomp and Circumstance, B) Rhapsody in Blue, C) Canon in D Major or D) Fanfare for the Common Man? You've got three seconds -- GO! Pomp and Circumstance has been played at graduations for around a century. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Katrina Class

AZUZ: In the next few weeks, many of you seniors will be walking to that traditional tune. Wrapping up an education and getting your diploma is always a major milestone. But for some college students in New Orleans, this spring's ceremonies carry special meaning because of how their college lives began. Maya Rodriguez of affiliate WWL explains why.


MAYA RODRIGUEZ, WWL REPORTER: The pomp and circumstance may seem typical of any graduation, yet these graduates are anything but.

ALCINA WALTERS, DILLARD UNIVERSITY GRADUATE: We came back, and we did what we had to do.


RODRIGUEZ: The times were the days surrounding Hurricane Katrina. This marks some of the first graduation ceremonies of the so-called "Katrina Class," the students who started college in New Orleans just days before Hurricane Katrina slammed ashore.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, (R) LOUISIANA: I certainly would be remiss if I didn't note that this is a class of students who are nothing if not determined.

RODRIGUEZ: Determined because the storm temporarily shut down all of their campuses and severely damaged others. At Dillard University, floodwaters swamped their Gentilly campus.

WALTERS: Two weeks we had here at Dillard before Hurricane Katrina.

RODRIGUEZ: Alcina Walters evacuated to Shreveport, then Austin, Texas, and eventually San Antonio. She temporarily enrolled at the University of Texas in San Antonio before returning to Dillard months later. During the storm, her dorm room flooded and then burned down in a fire. She lost everything. Despite that, she emerged as the top graduate of Dillard's class of 2009. But she says she shares her success with her fellow graduates.

WALTERS: We all did an amazing job together.

RODRIGUEZ: It's a story repeated across town at Xavier University's ceremony, where students reflected on how the storm damaged their campus and disrupted their education.

GONZALES: It's definitely hard to live in a hotel room for quite a long time, so it's definitely not the most ideal living situation, for sure.

KAYLAN DENNIS, XAVIER UNIVERSITY GRADUATE: It affected it very much. Out of school for six months, didn't know where some of our family members were, either. So, that was very hard, but we got through it.

RODRIGUEZ: And now, they share a connection across campuses here, bound together by a natural disaster at the start, and ending with a new beginning.


Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, all those times your mom told you to make the bed, maybe it was secret training for this! Actually, these guys have a lot better motivation than avoiding punishment: they're getting cash! It's Gainesville, Florida's annual bed-making contest, where winners can take home a couple hundred bucks. They're judged on neatness, speed and making crisp corners. If you're into cleanliness and competition, a bed-making contest is probably right up your alley.



AZUZ: To us, it just sounds like a real chore. That puts today's show to bed. We'll see you again tomorrow.

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