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CNN Student News Transcript: October 21, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Consider the potential impact of Afghanistan's presidential runoff
  • Hear how new recommendations for school lunches aim to battle obesity
  • Serve up the details of one school district's "Meatless Mondays" program
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(CNN Student News) -- October 21, 2009

Quick Guide

Afghanistan Elections - Consider the potential impact of Afghanistan's presidential runoff.

Nutrition Guidelines - Hear how new recommendations for school lunches aim to battle obesity.

Meatless Mondays - Serve up the details of one school district's "Meatless Mondays" program.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Glen Crest Middle School and all the schools watching our show today worldwide, welcome to CNN Student News! I'm Carl Azuz, and we're getting started right now.

First Up: University Attack

AZUZ: We begin in Pakistan, where a pair of bombings at a university is just the latest in a string of violent attacks in the country. At least five people were killed and more than 20 others were wounded by yesterday's back-to-back explosions. They happened at the International Islamic University in Pakistan's capital city of Islamabad. One witness said he heard explosions in both the men's and women's sections of the school.

More than 12,000 students from Pakistan and other countries are enrolled there. A school official said that the attack tells Muslims from around the world that Pakistan isn't safe for anyone. Some students spoke out against yesterday's bombing and offered explanations for the ongoing violence in Pakistan.

ZAINAB HASHEMI, STUDENT: Obviously, this is not the right way to take revenge, but the war has driven them mad. This is the reason.

AZMAT ULLAH, STUDENT [TRANSLATED]: They've committed an awful act. These are innocent students who are just studying. It's a very bad situation here today.

Obama, al-Maliki Meeting

AZUZ: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is visiting the U.S. this week, meeting with American leaders and taking part in a conference about his country's business opportunities. During yesterday's meeting with President Obama, the two talked about Iraq's economy, but they also discussed that nation's security situation. President Obama says he's committed to all U.S. troops leaving Iraq by the end of 2011. But both leaders are concerned about an increase in violence in Iraq and the possibility that the country's upcoming parliamentary elections could be delayed.

Spoken Word

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: President Karzai as well as the other candidates, I think, have shown that they have the interests of the Afghan people at heart; that this is a reflection of a commitment to rule of law; and an insistence that the Afghan people's will should be done. And so I express the American people's appreciation for this step.

Afghanistan Elections

AZUZ: Okay, President Obama there, reacting to Afghan President Hamid Karzai's announcement that he will take part in a runoff election. When Afghans first cast their ballots back in August, there were reports of violence against voters. One U.S. official says the international community is committed to helping make the runoff process a smooth one. Samantha Hayes has more on this.


SAMANTHA HAYES, CNN CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON, D.C.: A runoff presidential election in Afghanistan is set for November 7th between President Hamid Karzai and his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah. The decision came after a U.N.-backed panel reported evidence of fraud in the first round of the August vote, putting Karzai below the 50 percent threshold that would have allowed him to avoid a runoff. From Kabul Tuesday, Karzai said he accepts the panel's report and is ready for round two.

AFGHANISTAN PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI: Fourteen days' time we will be making preparations for the elections. We believe good days are lying ahead.

HAYES: The stability of Afghanistan is crucial as President Barack Obama considers a request for thousands more troops from the region's top commander, General Stanley McChrystal.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think any credible person in this country would make a case that all the troops in the world will not solve a problem without a partner that is there ultimately to help.

HAYES: Senator John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who was present during the announcement from Kabul, says a secure and viable runoff is possible.

SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D-MA) CHAIRMAN, SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: The international community is 100 percent committed to helping to carry out this election.

HAYES: Karzai's challenger says he too, is ready.



TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! What does the word alimentative mean? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Important, B) Explosive, C) Nutritious or D) Yellow? You've got three seconds -- GO! Alimentative is an adjective that means nutritious or nourishing. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Nutrition Guidelines

AZUZ: There are some new recommendations out aimed at making school meals more alimentative. That could mean less salt; more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk. Yesterday, CNN's John Roberts interviewed Dr. Virginia Stallings. She's in charge of the group that came up with the guidelines. She explained why it's not just important what you eat, but how much of it you eat.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: You also are suggesting putting caloric limits on school lunches, as well as breakfasts, and grading them on children's age and development. For example, K through 5, you're recommending that lunches be limited to 650 calories; grades 6-8, 700 calories; 800 for high school. And for breakfast, respectively for the same grade levels, 500, 550 and 600 calories.

How far can a school lunch program go in battling the obesity epidemic in this country?

DR. VIRGINIA STALLINGS, CHAIRWOMAN, PEDIATRIC GASTRO-ENTEROLOGY, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: One of the important things the new recommendations address is that we want to keep enough calories and quality food in the program for children that may not have enough food, who come from families where food resources may be scarce.

On the other hand, one of the things that's changed in the last 20 years is the obesity epidemic in pediatrics. So, we will now have both a minimum and a maximum, so a range. So, we'll be able to support the safety net, if you will, and continue to be watchful about not providing too many calories in the school setting.


Meatless Mondays

AZUZ: One U.S. school district is adjusting its lunch menu by trying out an idea that might be the first of its kind: "Meatless Mondays!" Think eggplant dip instead of chicken nuggets. School officials say they made this move to offer healthy choices, but the program is leaving a bad taste in some people's mouths. Lisa Sylvester serves up the story.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the Hampstead Hill Academy in Baltimore, it's meatless Monday. The only food served in the cafeteria: vegetarian. The Baltimore city schools implemented the district-wide policy this year as a way to cut costs and to promote healthier eating.

TONY GERACI, FOOD & NUTRITION DIRECTOR, BALTIMORE SCHOOLS: In every culture on the planet there are, you know, plant-based meals, and we wanted to be able to start a conversation around that.

SYLVESTER: On the menu: vegetarian chili with rice, corn, green beans and fruits. The policy is being embraced by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, which presented the school district with its Proggy award for the most progressive public school district 2009. And has been praised by the Center for Livable Future, a group out of Johns Hopkins University that's promoting these cartoons called the MEATRIX -- a play off the movie "The Matrix" -- criticizing large factory farms. Baltimore school officials say they do not have a political agenda.

MATT HORNBECK, PRINCIPAL, HAMPSTEAD HILL ACADEMY: We're not the food police. And so, we know that families and children will make choices, and we don't want to judge those choices. We just want to provide more options.

SYLVESTER: Parents we spoke to didn't have a problem with the new menu.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a great choice for kids. I mean, they can learn about there's other ways to eat food without having meat.

SYLVESTER: But the American Meat Institute does. The institute represents meat packagers and processors and says that what kids are being served up is an unhealthy dose of indoctrination. Janet Riley is with the Meat Institute. She's also a mother of two.

JANET RILEY, AMERICAN MEAT INSTITUTE: I am not suggesting that every child should be forced to eat meat every day, absolutely not. What I'm suggesting is that children and parents should have the ability to choose what their children eat.

SYLVESTER: Riley says the school lunch may be the only source of protein some children get during the day. Three-quarters of Baltimore's students qualify for free or reduced price lunches. The American Meat Institute says, in fact, three out of four children are actually not getting enough protein. Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.



AZUZ: So, what do you think? Are meatless Mondays a good way to help schools save money and promote healthy choices? Or is it denying students necessary protein and taking away their choice in the lunch line? We want your opinions on our blog at!

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, parts of San Francisco are being colonized by sea lions! That's what you call a group of sea lions, a colony. And this group is growing. The city's Pier 39 usually hosts about 300 of the animals. It's famous for that. Right now, there are nearly five times that many sea lions there! The pier actually had to put in additional docks for them to hang out on. Officials are trying to keep the flippered friends contained.



AZUZ: Although I'm not sure what the big deal is. They just seem to be lion around. Hope your day's a roaring success. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.

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