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CNN Student News Transcript: January 8, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Hear about a meeting of U.S. presidents past, present and future
  • Check out some of the features of President-elect Obama's limo
  • Discover the secrets of long life from the world's oldest person
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(CNN Student News) -- January 8, 2009

Quick Guide

The President's Club - Hear about a meeting of U.S. presidents past, present and future.

The Beast - Check out some of the features of President-elect Obama's limo.

Sensational Centenarian - Discover the secrets of long life from the world's oldest person.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: A presidential pow-wow, an aging honor, and one truly tricked out ride. We've got it all covered in today's edition of CNN Student News. From the CNN Center, I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: The President's Club

AZUZ: First up, the White House plays host to a meeting of presidents past, present and future. President of the United States: Only 42 men have shared that title. Yesterday, four of them -- Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush -- met with the next man in line, Barack Obama. It marked the first time in more than 25 years that all the living U.S. presidents have gathered at the White House. Ed Henry has the details.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A dramatic passing of the torch: four white men welcoming the first African-American into one of the world's most exclusive clubs.

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: One message that I have, and I think we all share, is that we want you to succeed. Whether we're a Democrat or a Republican, we care deeply about this country.

HENRY: The gravity of the moment, the first such meeting since 1981, was sinking in for President-elect Barack Obama.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT-ELECT: All the gentleman here understand both the pressures and possibilities of this office. And for me to have the opportunity to get advice, good counsel and fellowship with these individuals is extraordinary.

HENRY: Lots of smiles, despite potshots and petty rivalries of the past. At lunch afterwards down the hall from the Oval Office, aides say the men traded war stories and chewed over issues like the crisis in Gaza.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Every one of these presidents has dealt with the challenges there as they have evolved over time.

HENRY: And every one of them learned there are few easy answers, something Mr. Obama realized earlier in the day when a reporter pressed on why he's not speaking out more on the Mideast.

OBAMA: I am doing everything that we have to do to make sure that the day that I take office, we are prepared to engage immediately in trying to deal with the situation there. But until I take office, it would be imprudent of me to start sending out signals that somehow we are running foreign policy.

HENRY: While the presidents lunched, incoming White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs dined with outgoing spokeswoman Dana Perino and got a few pointers at the podium for the battles ahead. For now, however, everyone can still focus on the trappings of office, including the interior decorations. Former President Bill Clinton was overheard complimenting Mr. Bush on the carpet he selected for the Oval Office




GEORGE RAMSAY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! Which of these is not the name of a presidential vehicle? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Air Force One, B) Marine One, C) Transport One or D) The Beast? You've got three seconds -- GO! Transport One is the odd man out on this list. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

The Beast

AZUZ: Of course, Air Force One is the name used for any aircraft that the president travels in, and Marine One is the name of his helicopter. But "The Beast" is the nickname of his limo. A brand new one is set to roll out for the inaugural parade, and as Jeanne Meserve explains, it's not even close to your average car.


JEANNE MESERVE, HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Secret Service agents call the presidential limousine "the Beast." And if spy photos are any indication, President Obama's new ride lives up to the name.

KEN LUCCI, AMBASSADOR LIMO: It is a rolling tank with windows.

MESERVE: At the turn of the last century, when President McKinley was inaugurated, he relied on an entirely different kind of horsepower. President Harding's inaugural parade in 1920 was the first to use a car. President Franklin Roosevelt used the first bulletproof ride, one seized from mobster Al Capone. President Johnson's limo was armored and enclosed, a by-product of the Kennedy assassination. Ken Lucci owns a limousine used by Presidents Ford and Carter and another that carried President Reagan.

LUCCI: This is a 1975.

MESERVE: Though its doors and undercarriage are armored, it seems quaint next to the high-tech limousine President Obama will use.

MESERVE: I like this. No campaign, no election, instant president. Great!

MESERVE: Lucci notes the new limo's windows are smaller to make it less vulnerable. Some of the body appears to be built of a different material; he speculates it's a tougher composite. Lucci says rubber gaskets could protect against chemical weapons, and he guesses the holes in the door are for a mechanism to lock it like a bank vault.

LUCCI : That door probably weighs as much as a 757's aircraft door, and the inside of that cab is as sealed as a jet plane.

MESERVE: And that may surprise Obama, says Joe Funk, a former secret service agent who drove President Clinton's limo.

JOE FUNK, U.S. SECRET SERVICE (RET.): It's a cocoon, and the everyday noises will be gone and he will be totally isolated in this protective envelope.

MESERVE: When Ken Lucci bought this limosine, he removed the bulletproof glass. Here's a piece of it. You can see it's about one-and-a-half to two inches thick. A number of pieces of safety glass sandwiched together, and it is very heavy. Lucci said just taking out this glass reduced the weight of this vehicle by about 6,000 pounds. Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Clearwater, Florida.


Gaza Crisis

AZUZ: Turning our attention overseas now, where a planned truce in Gaza didn't last quite as long as expected. The Israeli military said it would pause its activities for three hours every other day so that relief groups could get aid to people inside Gaza. But fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas militants erupted just minutes after yesterday's truce was scheduled to begin.

Senate Seat Controversy

AZUZ: And back in the U.S., a possible about-face in the Senate on Roland Burris, the man appointed to fill President-elect Obama's open Senate seat. Earlier this week, Democratic leaders blocked Burris from being seated. But yesterday, majority leader Harry Reid said the Illinois Supreme Court, which is considering Burris's appointment, could clear the way for him to join the Senate.

Word to the Wise

RAMSAY: A Word to the Wise...

centenarian (noun) someone who is 100 years old or older


Sensational Centenarian

AZUZ: Living to a hundred is, well, it's amazing. Especially when the average life expectancy in the world is just over 66 years. But one California centenarian has special bragging rights. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, she's been alive longer than anyone else on the entire planet! Mark Coogan of affiliate KCAL in Los Angeles introduces us to this incredible woman and shares the secret of her longevity.


MARK COOGAN, KCAL REPORTER: It's a new day for Gertrude Baines, one of the most remarkable people you will ever have the privilige of meeting. Because the Los Angeles woman, at age 114, is the oldest person in the world.

GERTRUDE BAINES, WORLD'S OLDEST PERSON: Out of the millions of people in the world, I got to be the oldest person?

COOGAN: That's right. Gertrude Baines was born in Georgia in 1894, the daughter of fomer slaves. She's lived in Canada and Ohio, and once arthritis confined her to a wheelchair at age 100, she's been in this Los Angeles nursing home.

BAINES: I feel good. I'm not hurting. I feel good. I'm not hurting nowhere now, and I feel good.

COOGAN: Gertrude Baines became the world's oldest living person last Friday, following the death of a 115-year-old woman in Portugal. This woman, whose life began when Grover Cleveland was president, helped make more history last November when she voted for Barack Obama.

BAINES: Yep, I voted for him. All my votes practically went for him, that man up there you see with his family.

COOGAN: What do you hope he can do?

BAINES: I hope he can do the best he can. I hope nobody don't hurt him.

COOGAN: At age 114, she's become an all-around inspiration to everone at the home.

NURSING HOME RESIDENT: It makes me feel good, and I pray that I'll be able to get part of it.

COOGAN: Gertrude Baines attributes her longevity to religious faith, doing the right thing and the occassional piece of crispy bacon.



AZUZ: Mmm, bacon. Well, if you're looking for a heaping helping of info about CNN Student News, then dig in to our daily e-mail! It serves up the details on stories we're covering, plus links to our blog and show-specific maps. Sign up today at!

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, some people just insist on living in the past.

CROWD: 4...3...2...1... Happy New Year!

AZUZ: Uh, little late, guys. Actually, the ball that dropped in Times Square last week is being sent back up to the top. No one's looking for a do-over of December 31st. Apparently, the idea here is to turn the kaleidoscopic countdown contraption into a tourist attraction and leave it lighting up the sky all year long.



AZUZ: So that everyone who comes to New York is guaranteed to have a ball. We'll see you again tomorrow to close out the week. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.

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