(CNN Student News) -- December 15, 2009
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Today's edition of CNN Student News is online, on HLN, and on iTunes...like every edition of CNN Student News. We are ubiquitous! My name is Carl Azuz. We've got a lot of info to bring you in today's show, so let's get to it.
First Up: Obama and Bankers
AZUZ: Bankers and bailouts leading things off today. The two were the topic of a meeting at the White House yesterday. When President Obama met with the heads of some of the country's biggest banks, he said his main message was that, "America's banks received extraordinary assistance from American taxpayers to rebuild their industry. Now that they're back on their feet, we expect an extraordinary commitment from them to help rebuild our economy." President Obama's push for banks to make more loans, which he hopes will give a boost to the U.S. economy, is based on the fact that those banks got government bailout money. But since several of the banks have already paid back that money, some people are wondering how much influence the president can have. Plus, the banking industry argues that government policies have limited their ability to make loans.
AZUZ: Meanwhile, the debate over health care reform is raging on in the U.S. Senate. It takes 51 votes to pass a bill, but it takes 60 to stop debate on the bill and to move it to a vote. And as Jim Acosta explains, with disagreement on some of the different options in the bill, it's something that may be tough to get.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just days after Democrats thought they were closing in on a compromise to pass health care reform in the Senate, the party's delicate coalition of 60 votes started cracking once again. Back to the drawing board after a group of ten liberal and conservative Democrats agreed to strip the public option out of the Senate bill and add a provision allowing 55 to 64-year-old Americans to buy into the Medicare program for seniors. But before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office could weigh in on the cost of the so-called Medicare buy-in, the grumbling had begun.
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, (I) CONNECTICUT: I think this Medicare buy-in is frankly another way to try to get to a single-payer, government-controlled health care system. And I and Senator Nelson think that would be bad for our country and for the people of our country.
ACOSTA: Even party loyalists are skeptical. A letter signed by some of the most liberal senators in Washington, including names like Leahy and Feingold, object to the Medicare buy-in because of the program's lower reimbursement rates for doctors. Add to that Republican complaints that Medicare is going bankrupt.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) MINORITY LEADER: Medicare, of course, is already unsustainable. It's going broke in seven years. And the bill itself, the core bill, purports to cut Medicare by half a trillion dollars. Then, if you expand Medicare and put more people on it, you make it even more unsustainable.
ACOSTA: What do Democrats want this holiday season? Try more votes in the Senate. And getting those votes will come at a price.
LIEBERMAN: It's frankly time to start subtracting some things that's don't belong there. And if we did that, I think this week, we could get more than 60 votes, including some Republicans. And that's what it ought to be.
AZUZ: 13 years in prison: That is the sentence for a former Georgia Tech student for being involved in terrorism activities. Syed Ahmed -- on the left here -- was convicted last June. Prosecutors say he and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee went to Canada a few years ago to meet with other terrorism conspirators, and that they planned to get training in Pakistan and then later on attack U.S. targets. Sadequee's sentence is for 17 years, and the judge said it wasn't his Muslim faith, but his conduct and that law that landed him in prison.
Is this Legit?
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created in 1984. Nope. Off by about four decades. The United Nations established the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
AZUZ: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security, and the freedom of thought, religion, opinion and expression. Those are all parts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was signed on December 10th, which now marks the start of Human Rights Week. As part of the event, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked about the U.S. government's approach to human rights, and what she sees as the most important parts of that policy.
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Human rights have both negative and positive requirements. People should be free from tyranny in whatever form, and they should also be free to seize the opportunities of a full life. That is why supporting democracy and fostering development are cornerstones of 21st century human rights agenda.
AZUZ: A WISE moment for NASA. The space agency launched its Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer -- WISE -- yesterday morning. This thing cost $320 million, and from its orbit about 325 miles above the Earth's surface, WISE is going to spend months scanning the sky looking at the infrared, or heat, characteristics of different objects. NASA says just about everything in the universe glows in infrared -- asteroids, stars, galaxies -- so this mission is designed to help make a sort of road map of space.
STAN CASE, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! In what field would you use an f-stop, aperture and SLR? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Formula One Racing, B) Aviation, C) Photography or D) Computer Science? You've got three seconds -- GO! These are all terms you'll find in the field of photography. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: Okay, you know when yearbook picture day comes along at school and some of you want to look your best, and some of you just don't care. But whether it's for something like that or for a family portrait, people have different reasons for wanting to have their picture taken. But having a reason doesn't always mean having the ability. That is why one photographer wanted to use his skills and equipment to offer pictures to people in need. Susan Candiotti gives us a snapshot of the project.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look here. Two, one. Awesome.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are moms and dads trying hard to make ends meet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give me a little smile.
CANDIOTTI: They are mother and son trying to get a troubled life back on track.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, guys. Here we go.
CANDIOTTI: They're a family worrying whether their son will live to sit for another portrait.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks awesome. Everybody smile.
CANDIOTTI: Bringing them all together on a single day is Nashville photographer Jeremy Cowart. He calls it Help-Portrait.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take one more step forward.
JEREMY COWART, FOUNDER, HELP-PORTRAIT: We just want to show people that they are beautiful, that they are valued, and it's really, really happening so far.
CANDIOTTI: And it was happening for Amanda, who's disabled and raising three kids alone. Volunteers did her hair and make-up for the shoot.
AMANDA LEON, RECEIVED PORTRAIT: I always wanted professional makeup.
CANDIOTTI: What was it like?
LEON: It's like being queen for a day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's great.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God, that is!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's fun.
CANDIOTTI: Jeremy Cowart came up with the idea over the summer. And before you know it, word spread, mainly over the Internet, to more than 50 countries, including the Netherlands and Italy, more than 6,000 pros volunteering their time and talent. And in nearly every state, photos. First-class photos.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cheese!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cheese!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cheese!
CANDIOTTI: Taken and printed for free.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is just something special for them. And that, that makes me happy, when I can give something, something as simple as smiling in a picture to someone else.
CANDIOTTI: In Tennessee, the Carter family wanted a portrait to include Barrett, who's recovering from cancer.
HOLLY CARTER, RECEIVED PORTRAIT: We're thankful for each picture that we have taken. You never know when it's going to be the last.
CANDIOTTI: In New York, 18-year-old Hansel Moronta, on probation for drug charges, is in a rehab program. He's trying to turn his life around and wants his mom to have a photo to show her he means it.
HANSEL MORONTA, RECEIVED PORTRAIT: It's going to make me feel positive, you know? Looking at myself smiling and my mother smiling. I haven't seen her smile like that in a long time.
CANDIOTTI: Nor these young people in a program battling low self-esteem.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really awesome to see them smile, especially some of the girls that don't really like smiling anyway.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Look at that!
COWART: It's a reminder to me that photography is a very special gift. It's not something that we should take for granted.
CANDIOTTI: From the looks of it, no one this day took it for granted, in about 30,000 portraits and at least that many smiles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're welcome.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I appreciate it.
CANDIOTTI: Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Well, before we go today, it's that time of year. You're going to see lights on homes, candles on windows, Frosty in the front yard: Christmas decorations all over the place! But this might be taking it a bit far. Oh deer. Residents say the lights are usually reserved for trees and fences, but this guy is bucking the trend. All the other deer probably laugh and call him names. He looks kind-of like a deer caught in headlights... or Christmas lights. With all that electricity wrapped around his head, we just hope he steers clear of bad weather.
AZUZ: Because it could be a shock if he gets caught in the rain, deer. I like that pun -- did y'all like that pun? Some students asked me last week if I wrote the puns, and I said our writer Jordan handles most of them, unless they're really bad, in which case they're probably from me. So that was Jordan; we owe him one for that. It's gonna wrap things up for today. Look forward to seeing you tomorrow when CNN Student News returns. I'm Carl Azuz.