(CNN Student News) -- December 14, 2009
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Hi, I'm Carl Azuz. Welcome to CNN Student News, as we're kicking off our last week of shows before the holiday break.
First Up: Climate Demonstrations
AZUZ: We begin today in Denmark, where week two of the U.N.'s climate conference is getting underway. One of the big goals of this meeting was to put together a deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. World leaders, including President Obama, are heading to Copenhagen later on this week to try to finalize an agreement. But some analysts have said there hasn't been much progress so far, and there are some questions about how the deal would be paid for.
Thousands of demonstrators in the streets of the Danish capital during the conference demanded that participants create a climate-change agreement. Most of the protests have been peaceful; some did turn violent. On Saturday, more than 900 demonstrators were detained by police. Nearly all of them were later released.
AZUZ: Over in Thailand, authorities have detained five men who were on board a cargo plane that stopped to refuel there on its way from North Korea to Sri Lanka. The concern: what was inside: 35 tons of weapons, including rocket launchers and tubes that could be parts for missiles. Thai authorities say the men are facing charges of illegal weapons smuggling. Sri Lanka officials say there was no shipment scheduled to come in from North Korea.
AZUZ: In the United States, President Obama is scheduled to sit down today with the heads of some of the country's biggest banks to talk about small businesses, ones that have 500 or fewer employees. Many of them are having a hard time getting loans from banks. But banks argue that the policies put in place because of this financial crisis have affected how they can offer loans. Kate Bolduan looks at how today's meeting could impact the situation.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON, D.C.: Andy Shallal has a rare story in tough economic times: his businesses, bookstore restaurants around Washington, are thriving.
ANDY SHALLAL, OWNER, BUSBOYS AND POETS: Washington is a political town, it's a literary town. It's a town that really needs this kind of a place, and I think it's been very successful because of that.
BOLDUAN: Shallal is looking to expand and add about 40 employees. But despite good business, the economy is still holding him back. He can't get a loan.
SHALLAL: I am a growing business. I have a track record. I've been in this business for a long time. I have good assets, great cash flow, great credit, and yet, I still have a hard time trying to get enough money to be able to grow my business.
BOLDUAN: The harsh reality many small businesses face, and something President Obama is now promising to tackle. White House officials tell CNN Mr. Obama will meet Monday with chief executives of some of the nation's biggest banks, including Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. His message...
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look, you have a responsibility now -- now that we have pulled you back from the brink -- to help make sure that Main Street is actually getting the kinds of loans that it needs.
BOLDUAN: But the banks say it's much more complicated than that at a time when Congress is considering sweeping changes to the banking regulatory system. Scott Talbott represents some of the country's largest financial firms.
SCOTT TALBOTT, THE FINANCIAL SERVICES ROUNDTABLE: Banks are lending to small businesses, but there are two challenges here. One is the small business aren't borrowing as much as they used to. They're holding back. Second of all, you've seen an increase or tightening of the credit standards. So, banks are cautious now about lending in terms of who are the borrowers. We're looking to make good, solid loans that can be repaid.
BOLDUAN: The Obama administration has also proposed redirecting unused TARP funds to help increase lending to small businesses. Andy Shallal says, whatever the solution, he just hopes to start feeling the ripple effect soon.
SHALLAL: You need to really give that money back to that, the source that is going to provide the most amount of jobs, the most amount of economic stimulus for the economy, which is small businesses.
BOLDUAN: When the president meets with bank executives Monday, the official White House schedule says they will discuss their shared interest in economic recovery, the need to increase lending to small business, and financial regulatory reform. But White House officials are a little more blunt, telling CNN the president will pretty much lay it out, saying that the banks were saved for the greater good, not their own profit margins, and it's time to pitch in. Kate Bolduan, CNN, the White House.
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is known as the Festival of what? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Forgiveness, B) Lights, C) Trees or D) Study? You've got three seconds -- GO! Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights! That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
Festival of Lights
AZUZ: One of the most recognizable symbols of Hanukkah -- you see right here -- it's the menorah, which is a type of candelabra. This one in New York is billed as the largest in the world. Part of the holiday's celebrations include lighting candles on each of Hannukah's eight nights. That's where the "Festival of Lights" name comes from. Hanukkah began on Friday night, and it commemorates the victory of a group of Jews, the Maccabees, over the Syrians, and the rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem around 165 B.C.
AZUZ: Some people in California are returning to their homes after being forced to evacuate because of potential mudslides. The concerns were triggered by heavy rains north of Los Angeles. Mud and rock slides stranded more than a hundred vehicles over the weekend. Some roads were still closed yesterday because of debris.
And heavy rains in New Orleans flooded some streets on Saturday there. City officials say that water pumps were working at full capacity; they just couldn't keep up with the downpour. According to the National Weather Service, some areas saw more than two and a half inches of rain in just one hour.
AZUZ: Tiger Woods is one of the most famous athletes in the world, and when he's away from golf, it actually affects the entire sport. When he was sidelined by an injury from July 2008 to February of this year, TV ratings for golf actually dropped 50 percent! The sport is going to be facing more time without its star. Last Friday, Woods said he's taking an "indefinite break" from golf after admitting that he cheated on his wife. Susan Candiotti explores what led to this decision.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What a two weeks it's been for Tiger Woods. It all began Thanksgiving night with a minor accident. A few days later, he issued a statement on his Web site saying he would "never let it happen again." A few days later, he talks about "transgressions," as allegations of affairs began to swirl around him. And finally, Friday night, another statement in which he admits that he was not faithful to his wife.
The statement reads in part, "I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children. I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I've done, but I want to do my best to try."
And he adds, "After much soul-searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father and person."
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, "USA TODAY": I think this shows the magnitude of the problem. I think it shows that Tiger and his team is starting to get how big a deal this is. The fact that he used the word "infidelity" for the first time instead of "transgressions," there's another step. And I think it shows a little window into the world in Orlando, Tiger Woods' world, the bunker that he's in right now, how bad things are, how they seem to be getting it.
CANDIOTTI: The PGA has also issued a statement. It says, "We fully support Tiger's decision to step away from competitive golf to focus on his family."
And on his Web site, fans also weighed in, about 50/50, some in favor, some not. One saying, "I know the road to recovery takes time. Good choice on your part about hiatus." But another one said, "Maybe you learned your lesson, but at what cost?" Crisis experts say it may be time for Tiger to play the inside game.
HOWARD BRAGMAN, CELEBRITY PUBLICIST: You have to get a really thick skin for the next couple of months and say, "I'm not going to read a newspaper, I'm not going to turn on the TV, and I'm going to do the business at hand. I'm going to walk the talk, I'm going to make breakfast, I'm going to change the diapers, and be the best husband that ever was for a little while."
CANDIOTTI: Will Tiger's absence on the greens make a difference? Experts say count on it. At some point, they say, he may have to face an interviewer before he once again faces the public at a golf tournament. Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.
AZUZ: Gillette is one of Tiger Woods' corporate sponsors, and it's supporting his decision to step back from golf. In a statement released Saturday, the company said, "As Tiger takes a break from the public eye, we will support his desire for privacy by limiting his role in our marketing programs." But another sponsor, Accenture, is dropping the golf star. The company said, "After careful consideration, [we have] determined that he is no longer the right representative for [our] advertising."
Before We Go
AZUZ: Well, finally today, you know how your mom said don't play with your food? John Young might disagree. Come on, now, man. If you're not happy with the pancakes, you don't need to throw them! Actually, the reason Mr. Young is flinging these flapjacks is because he's breaking a world record: the tallest pancake toss. He set the mark back in May, but somebody then beat it 45 minutes later. So last week, John reclaimed the record with a toss of 27 feet.
AZUZ: I bet the guy just flipped out. I mean, he did really batter the competition. Y'all have a great day. We'll see you tomorrow. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.