(CNN Student News) -- December 2, 2009
Download PDF maps related to today's show:
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Thank you for taking 10 to tune into CNN Student News. My name is Carl Azuz, and my job is bringing you today's headlines. Let's go.
AZUZ: First up, President Obama plans to send 30,000 additional U.S. forces to Afghanistan. He made the long-awaited announcement last night. It's being called a troop surge, kind-of like the surge of U.S. forces sent to Iraq in 2006.
Back in August, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, requested that 40,000 additional troops be sent there over the next 12 months. President Obama says he wants these 30,000 reinforcements to be deployed in the first part of 2010, in what he calls "the fastest pace possible." The president also hopes to convince other countries to also send more troops. But he's also looking at when troops will leave. He wants to start pulling American forces out of Afghanistan in 18 months.
Before then, the plan is for U.S. troops to train Afghan forces so that they can take over security in their country. Republicans criticized the president for announcing a timetable, and some Democrats in Congress are against the troop surge all together. But President Obama believes the plan is the best option for America and Afghanistan.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak.
AZUZ: Frederik Pleitgen looks at where these 30,000 troops are likely to be going, and what they're going to be doing once they get to Afghanistan.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, AFGHANISTAN: Most of the American troops that are going to be sent into Afghanistan will be deployed to the east and to the south of the country. Now, they'll have multiple roles down here. What's going to happen is that some of these troops are going to be deployed as combat troops, directly fighting the Taliban. Others, however, are going to be used to try and train the Afghan security forces.
Of course, part of the president's plan to get America out of this war is to bring the Afghan security forces up to speed as fast as possible so that the Americans can then withdraw. Some of those programs are actually already in place; there's a mentoring program going on all over the south of Afghanistan in which American and Afghan forces go on combat patrols together, but with the Afghans in the lead.
However, we have heard from some U.S. soldiers on the ground here that they are frustrated with what they've perceived to be some very slow progress by the Afghan security forces. Nevertheless, here on this base in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, most soldiers that we've been talking to say they'd welcome more boots on the ground. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kandahar, Afghanistan.
AZUZ: But that ground that Mr. Pleitgen is talking about is very rugged, and transporting U.S. troops -- or anyone for that matter -- is tough. Helicopters and off-road vehicles do help out, but they, along with their fuel, come at a cost. Plus, weapons, equipment, caring for the troops: All of this needs to be paid for. Poppy Harlow shows us some ideas and disagreements about how to do that.
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT: America is $12 trillion in debt. Bank bailouts and stimulus spending have put taxpayers in the hole, and a troop surge in Afghanistan could mean more red ink. President Obama is sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. According to White House estimates, the price tag for that could be as as much as $30 billion a year. But a handful of Democrats want President Obama to impose a surtax to pay for it.
REP. JOHN LARSON, (D) CONNECTICUT: Overall, over the last eight years, and then also you take a look at the cost of the wars, these are, these are steep bills that we're asking future generations to pay. Don't you think we ought to pay for it as we go and therefore, I think, involve the American public more directly in the actual cost of the war.
HARLOW: The surtax would add one percent to the tax bill of families earning $100,000 a year or less. In other words, about $100. It would increase for wealthier Americans; up to five percent of their tax bill. Congressman Larson and several fellow Democrats argue, "If the president and the nation decide that the war is important enough to fight, then it ought to be important enough to pay for." But there's vehement opposition from other lawmakers.
REP. TOM PRICE, (R) GEORGIA: I think that's as cynical as it is irresponsible. The fact of the matter is the protection of the American people is the number one challenge, the number one task for the United States Congress. It ought to be a priority in our budgeting process. There's all sorts of money that has been ill-spent to date.
HARLOW: The government's former top accountant, David Walker, who's one of the country's best known deficit hawks, supports a war tax.
DAVE WALKER, FORMER COMPTROLLER GENERAL, CEO OF THE PETER G. PETERSON FOUNDATION: There's absolutely no question that this country is gonna spend several trillion dollars with regard to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both as it relates to cost of operations as well as the cost after the war is over. That's significant, but it is insignificant as compared to the tens of trillions in unfunded promises that this country has.
AZUZ: All right. You've heard President Obama's decision, the strategy for the Afghanistan conflict, and some of the debate on how to pay for it. Now, we want you to weigh in. Head to our blog at CNNStudentNews.com, vote in our Quick Poll, and share your thoughts on the president's announcement and the war in Afghanistan.
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! How many stocks are part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average? Is it: A) 30, B) 50, C) 75 or D) 100? You've got three seconds -- GO! The Dow Jones is an average of 30 stocks; it's often used as a guide of how the entire stock market is doing. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: Yesterday, it was looking up. The Dow Jones gained 127 points and closed the day at its highest level in 14 months. That is good news, because it indicates that investors might be feeling more confident about the U.S. economy. Another economic number on the rise: the number of signed contracts to buy homes. That went up more than three percent in October. That's the ninth month in a row that that statistic has increased. Another hopeful sign: Cyber Monday, the mega online shopping day a couple days after Thanksgiving. Well, according to experts, sales were up 14 percent this year compared to last year. The most popular e-tailers were clothing and jewelry sites.
AZUZ: Gaming systems, also popular in cyber sales. One in particular, the Nintendo Wii, might have some medical benefits. There's a new study out that looks at how the console could help in the fight against Parkinson's, a disease that can cause shaking in a person's hands and slower movements. Doctor Sanjay Gupta examines a unique form of Wii-hab.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: For occupational therapist Ben Herz, it was almost too easy.
BEN HERZ, MEDICAL COLLEGE OF GEORGIA: It seemed to me to be almost a no-brainer in the sense of, "Let's try this and see if it works."
GUPTA: Video games as rehab tools for Parkinson's patients. You see, Parkinson's leads to a sharp decrease in dopamine. That's a brain chemical responsible for the body's movement.
HERZ: When somebody is diagnosed with Parkinson's, they have 70-80 percent dopamine depletion. So, my underlying thinking was, one, I read an article about video gaming and how it increases dopamine production, and then exercise also increases dopamine production. So, the Wii puts both together.
GUPTA: 68-year-old Bob Rohrman participated in Herz's study. He has been battling Parkinson's for three years.
BOB ROHRMAN, PARKINSON'S PATIENT: It's kept me loose to where I don't stiffen up.
GUPTA: Funded by the National Parkinson's Foundation, the research participants exercise using the Nintendo Wii one hour a day, three days a week for four weeks. Herz found that fine motor skills, rigidity, balance issues have all improved. But the biggest improvement was mood: depression levels almost eliminated. That's a big deal, considering almost half of those diagnosed with Parkinson's suffer from depression. It works so well for Rohrman, he bought his own game console to play at home.
ROHRMAN: It makes you get up and exercise. And that's the whole point of the thing to do: to keep you loose. The more you walk and the more you move, the more you're beating Parkinson's.
GUPTA: Herz says video games and virtual reality are the future of rehab. As others work to find a cure for Parkinson's, Herz focuses on what can be done now, slowing those symptoms to improve quality of life. For Rohrman, that meant the chance to walk his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day without falling.
ROHRMAN: Didn't trip over her; didn't step on her feet or nothing. So, I think I did pretty good.
GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Good stuff. Before we go today, what does the world's cutest dog look like? This. Okay, you might not think he's much. I kinda like him. His name is Dr. Papidies -- it's not mister; it's doctor. He took top prize in a cutest dog competition recently, beating out 60,000 other dogs and taking home a million bucks! Except his owner has other ideas. Before the contest, she decided that if the good Doctor Papidies won, the owner would donate all the money to a pair of animal shelters.
AZUZ: So, he gets the title, while the money goes to a good paws. I can hear you groaning from here, but I liked it! That's the tail end of today's show. CNN Student News returns tomorrow. We're looking forward to seeing you then. Have a great one.