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CNN Student News Transcript: May 20, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Explore the potential pros and cons of new fuel efficiency regulations
  • Take a spin in a pair of vehicles that can hit the road without gassing up
  • Step into the "SHOC Room" of an organization monitoring the H1N1 virus
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(CNN Student News) -- May 20, 2009

Quick Guide

Fuel Effeciency Plan - Explore the potential pros and cons of new fuel efficiency regulations.

Fuel-less Vehicles - Take a spin in a pair of vehicles that can hit the road without gassing up.

Inside the WHO - Step into the "SHOC Room" of an organization monitoring the H1N1 virus.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Where is WHO? What? We're gonna make sense of that in today's edition of CNN Student News. Hi everyone, I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Fuel Effeciency Plan

AZUZ: First up, President Obama announces new regulations aimed at making cars more fuel efficient. The plan is to combine the government's current guidelines with California's tough emissions rules to make a new, nationwide standard. The goall of all of this is to help cut down on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. vehicles. The new regulations will take effect in 2012 and force automobiles to become more fuel efficient over the course of four years. By 2016, cars will be required to get 39 miles per gallon. Right now, the standard is 27 and a half. By that same deadline, light trucks will have to get 30 miles per gallon. Current standard: just over 22.

So, what is the potential downside here? Well, cost for one thing. The Obama administration estimates the new rules will add about $600 to the cost of a car. That's on top of an estimated $700 increase from fuel efficiency changes that have already been put in place. Some experts say that might keep consumers from buying. But several automakers have signed on to the plan, and President Obama says the announcement marks a milestone for the industry and the environment.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: For the first time in history, we have set in motion a national policy aimed at both increasing gas mileage and decreasing greenhouse gas pollution for all new trucks and cars sold in the United States of America.

Fuel-less Vehicles

AZUZ: A couple of vehicles already on the road aren't going to need to worry about new fuel standards, because they don't run on fuel! Melissa Long takes us out for a spin.


MELISSA LONG, CNN ANCHOR: A sports car and a scooter. An unlikely pair. But they have something in common.

STEVE SHAPIRO, VECTRIX OWNER: You just plug it in to a regular socket and charge it.

LONG: Neither use gas. Steve Shapiro bought this highway-friendly Vectrix Maxi Scooter last year when gas prices were high.

SHAPIRO: It takes two hours to charge, and then you have about 50 to 60 miles of driving. Underneath the seat and in this back storage compartment, I can get the equivalent of about three bags of groceries, so that works for my family of four.

LONG: We know the trunk can hold a couple of bags, but let me see if I could actually pack my work bag and ride to work. Well, it's a tight squeeze, but it does actually fit. For those willing to give up gas but not the trunk space, the Tesla Roadster might be a better fit.

JEREMY SNYDER, TESLA MOTORS: 95% of Americans drive less than 100 miles per day; the Roadster has a range of 244 miles, so for daily driving purposes, this suits 95% of Americans.

LONG: For about $100,000, it goes from zero to 60 in under four seconds, a bit faster than the Vectrix. This vehicle has a lot of pickup; it can go from zero to 60 in 6.8 seconds. Gun it. To date, Vectrix has sold about 1,500 scooters. Four hundred Tesla Roadsters have been purchased; 1,200 are on order, and there's a waiting list for the not-yet-released cheaper sedan model. This may change the quintessential road trip: no more gas stations.

JOHN ANTHONY, RIDES SCOOTER TO WORK: When you're riding this, you do keep an eye out. There are a lot of outside outlets, and I have plugged in.

LONG: Melissa Long, CNN.


Spoken Word

U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: I am announcing that the people of the United States are responding to a request for assistance from the government of Pakistan with more than $100 million in humanitarian support. Now, this money comes on top of almost $60 million that the United States has provided since last August to help Pakistanis who have been affected by the conflicts, and in addition to the other funding for Pakistan that we are already seeking from the Congress.

Pakistan Aid

AZUZ: Secretary of State Clinton talking about a humanitarian crisis that's affecting an estimated two million people in Pakistan. They've had to flee their homes to get away from fierce fighting between military forces and the Taliban. Secretary Clinton says the goal of that $100 million is to invest in Pakistan and give its people food and supplies. She says the aid is "essential to the global security and security of the United States."

NASA Releases Hubble

Downloadable Maps

AZUZ: And the Hubble Space Telescope is now floating free after being released by the shuttle Atlantis early yesterday morning. The shuttle's robotic arm has had a hold on the telescope for the past several days, as astronauts made a series of repairs and upgrades during a series of five spacewalks. NASA expects the repair work to keep the Hubble in operation for at least another five years. As we've reported, this was NASA's fifth and final trip to the telescope, which was launched into orbit 19 years ago.


ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS : Time for the Shoutout! What city is home to the headquarters of the World Health Organization? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) New York, B) London, C) Atlanta or D) Geneva? You've got three seconds -- GO! The WHO's headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Inside the WHO

AZUZ: The World Health Organization, or WHO, is the branch of the United Nations that's responsible for global health issues. They're the ones who track diseases like the H1N1 virus and how these outbreaks spread around the globe. Fionnuala Sweeney takes us inside a room at the organization's headquarters in Geneva that serves as the "nerve center" of this surveillance.


FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN ANCHOR, WORLD NEWS EUROPE: The SHOC Room; the World Health Organization's very own Situation Room. Short for Strategic Health Operations Center, SHOC is the eyes and ears for the scientific world's response to outbreaks, be they natural or man-made.

JAMES ZIMMERLY, OPERATIONS MANAGER, STRATEGIC HEALTH OPERATIONS CENTER: Well, we might call this similar to a newsroom. This is where the situation is monitored and created. We make a situation report every evening depending on the type of information which is gathered during the day.

SWEENEY: SHOC swung into action in the early hours of Friday, April 24 to respond to the outbreak of H1N1 virus, or as it was known then, swine flu. Three hundred people -- scientists, doctors and communications specialists -- were mobilized to respond to a crisis which less than a month later escalated to Phase 5; one phase short of a pandemic, which means H1N1 is finding its way around the world.

DR. MICHAEL J. RYAN, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: It's a little bit like starting a number of brushfires and wondering which one will burn the forest down.

SWEENEY: The U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, came to see for himself.

BAN KI-MOON, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: This can give hope to many people.

SWEENEY: A rare and ironicly lighthearted moment in a room that has been 24/7 for weeks.

BAN: I'm very much grateful to all of you, who must have been spending many, many sleepless nights.

SWEENEY: A vaccine for H1N1 is some time off yet. Clinical trials are not expected to begin for some weeks. So, there are issues about timing, but also to ensure that there are enough stocks of the seasonal influenza vaccine, which, by itself, kills an estimated half a million people a year. After the SHOC Room, a closed door meeting between the Secretary General and 30 pharmaceutical manufacturers in an attempt to find common ground on the development and distribution of a vaccine.

BAN: We are working very hard. Based on all scientific research and evidences and most of the industrialised countries as well as pharmaceutical CEOs, they have committed themselves that they would stand ready.

SWEENEY: Back in the SHOC room, H1N1 flu is a crisis which is still touch and go.

RYAN: To some extent, it's a matter of time. And that time is precious because it gives everyone a chance to prepare.

SWEENEY: The SHOC Room will be in operation for some time. Fionnuala Sweeney, CNN, Geneva.



AZUZ: You might have missed something we said in today's show, but our transcript didn't! It's a written version of everything in the program, even the words I'm saying right now! And I just checked and in yesterday's show there were more than 1,600 words spoken. You can use our transcript to catch something you missed or maybe study up on some words you don't know. And you can always find it at!

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go today, some mornings can feel like a real cattle drive. And these ladies know what I'm talking about. Actually, these cows are on the lam. It's a bovine breakout! Although by the looks of it, not a very well planned one. They escaped from a nearby dairy farm and made it a little ways down the road, before police showed up to steer them back in the right direction.



AZUZ: At least they got to enjoy a mooo-ving experience. You knew that was coming. We're gonna hoof it on out of here. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz. We'll see you right back here tomorrow.

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