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CNN Student News Transcript - August 15, 2011

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CNN Student News - 8/15/11

(CNN Student News) -- August 15, 2011

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Indianapolis, Indiana
Acworth, Georgia



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Standing outside CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, my name is Carl Azuz, and I welcome you to CNN Student News, kicking off its 2011-2012 school year!

First Up: The Downgrade

AZUZ: Every day on CNN Student News, we bring headlines from around the world right into your classroom. We do it without any commercials. First up today, we're going to look back and ahead.

What we're talking about is the U.S. economy, and we're starting with something called the debt ceiling. Debt is the amount of money that a person, company or government owes. The debt ceiling is this limit on how much debt a country can have. The U.S. hit that limit earlier this year, and there were concerns that if the government went over that debt ceiling, it wouldn't be able to pay some of its bills.

President Obama and members of Congress had a tense debate over the Summer about the idea of raising the country's debt limit. There were strong disagreements over how to make a deal or even if there should be one. A deal was passed on August 2nd. It raised the U.S. debt ceiling and set up some government spending cuts to help lower the country's debt down the road.

But as you know, actions can have reactions. Credit rating agencies give countries grades based on their ability or how willing they are to pay off their debts. One of the major agencies -- Standard and Poor's -- downgraded the U.S. from a AAA rating to a AA+. Ali Velshi is going to help explain that for us in just a second.

But that downgrade, along with some other factors, sent shock waves through the stock market. Last week was a roller coaster ride: big ups and downs. Experts are predicting that this week will be the same. Now, we're gonna get back to that credit rating. Ali Velshi is here to talk about why the U.S. was downgraded and what in the world that means.


ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Standard and Poor's lowered the U.S. from a AAA credit rating -- the best in the world, and the only one the U.S. has ever had -- to AA+. They said they downgraded the U.S. for two reasons. One is that the debt ceiling deal didn't go far enough: it didn't cut far enough and it didn't raise taxes. The other problem is political. They said that the United States has not demonstrated the ability to get its political house in order and make sound decisions about its budgeting.

Standard and Poor's is the full name; it's a credit rating agency. You've got those for your own personal credit, but globally there are three of them: S&P, Standard and Poor's, Moody's and Fitch. And basically, they assign every company, every publicly traded company, and every country a debt rating. A debt rating is the risk associated with lending that company or that country money.

You know, prior to this whole debacle, I think most people thought AAA was a battery size. Let me tell you what the difference is between AAA and AA+. AAA credit rating means extremely strong capacity to meet its financial commitments. That is the highest rating that S&P can give a country or a company. AA+ means very strong capacity to meet its financial obligations. That differs from the highest rating by just that little word: extremely strong and very strong. Even after a downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, the United States could borrow at a lower interest rate than it could before the downgrade. That's because comparatively, the U.S. is still one of the best and safest bets out there.


Stage Collapse

AZUZ: All right, our next story today: A "freakish accident" is how Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels described what happened at the State Fair this past Saturday. Around 8:45 p.m., a police captain got on stage to warn the crowd to find cover. Just minutes later, a powerful storm blew in, causing the concert stage to collapse. At least five people were killed. Dozens of others were hurt. What was good in all of this, though, was that many people who weren't hurt rushed into the area to try and help. Witnesses said folks were trying to lift the scaffolding back up, while others searched for victims and pulled people back out of the wreckage.

I.D. Me

STAN CASE, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I'm an African nation that got its independence from Britain and Italy. I'm located on the Horn of Africa, between the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. My capital is Mogadishu, but I don't have a permanent national government. I'm Somalia, and I'm home to around 10 million people.

Famine in Africa

AZUZ: Somalia is one of several African nations that are all facing the same crisis right now: famine, a severe shortage of food. Twelve million people are being affected by this hunger crisis. Reports say thousands of Somalis have been leaving the country each week, and they're looking for food, water and shelter. Aid workers in Somalia and other countries in the Horn of Africa are working to help the victims of this famine. The United Nations says many of these people -- especially in parts of Somalia -- need help immediately. But that aid costs money. The U.N. estimates it'll take about $2.5 billion to deal with the crisis. Right now, only about half of that amount has been donated.

Impact Your World

AZUZ: This famine's happening halfway around the world, but there are ways for you to get involved. You can go to our home page,, scroll down to the Spotlight section, and click the link that says "Impact Your World." That's how you can find out how you can make a difference.


TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the first Shoutout of the school year! What professional sport's hall of fame is located in Cooperstown, New York? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Baseball, B) Basketball, C) Football or D) Hockey? You've got three seconds -- GO! Cooperstown is home to the Baseball Hall of Fame! That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Field of Dreams

AZUZ: The players enshrined in Cooperstown are some of the best to ever take the field. But down in Acworth, Georgia, there's a group of young ballplayers who are excited just to get out on the diamond. Randi Kaye has this report on the field that helps them realize that dream.


RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Eight-year-old Justin Millwood is one of more than 100 kids who participate in the Horizon League in Acworth, Georgia. This field of dreams is a specially designed rubber field so kids with disabilities can play baseball. And all of this would never have been possible if not for a generous donation.

JAMES ALBRIGHT, DIRECTOR OF ACWORTH PARKS AND RECREATION: Between public and private partnerships, we were able to raise $500,000 to $600,000 right off the bat. Most of that was catapulted by an anonymous $250,000 donation.

KAYE: None of this could be possible without volunteers. Throughout his time with the Horizon League, 16-year-old Nick Geter has formed a special bond both on and off the field with Justin, who has been bound to a wheelchair all his life due to cerebral palsy, and aspires one day to be able to walk.

KAREN MILLWOOD; JUSTIN'S GRANDMOTHER: He loves it. It gives him a chance to get out and be like other kids.

KAYE: Nick says he's happy that he's been able to have an impact on kids like Justin.

NICK GETER, SENIOR, NORTH COBB CHRISTIAN HIGH SCHOOL: For me, impacting Justin's life and these other kids' lives and I really get a lot out of this. I always thought that you had to have the newest stuff, the best, brightest whatever. But I come out here and I see these kids and they have all kinds of disabilities and stuff, and they're so happy just to be able to play baseball.

JAY ULRICH, PARENT OF SPECIAL NEEDS KID: It changes everything. It lets them have a sense of accomplishment. And then when their buddies are here, they get to see football players, baseball players, high school cheerleaders that treat them as an equal. That doesn't necessarily happen in other environments.

KAYE: Thanks to the help of Nick and others, Justin gets to live out another dream.

GETER: You know how you been working with that walker at therapy?


GETER: Well, we were gonna try and raise the money for it, and guess what?


GETER: We got somebody to donate the walker for you and they've already bought it and it's on its way. You are gonna be able to walk. Isn't that cool?


GETER: I love seeing Justin's smile, and every day it's the last thing I see when I leave here.

KAYE: This makes a special moment even better on this field of dreams.

J. MILLWOOD: It's really been great.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Atlanta.


Before We Go

AZUZ: What a story! Before we go today, we've got time to round up one last story for today's show. You've heard of the bull in the china shop? This is the outdoor kind! A barreling bovine bounded his way down the streets of Auburn, Washington. He took police on a 30-minute chase -- or rodeo. The cops weren't able to corral the guy, so get this, they brought in cowboys. Eventually, they lassoed the bull and brought the tail to an end.


AZUZ: Calling out cowboys with lassos definitely took the bull by the horns. At least it roped up the situation. We hope you'll steer your way back for more CNN Student News tomorrow. Yeah, the puns are part of the show, so you're either gonna laugh or suffer with me! I'm Carl Azuz. We'll see you soon.