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Quick Guide & Transcript: Iraqi Kurds remember poison gas attacks, Iran displays military might

(CNN Student News) -- August 21, 2006

Teachers: Please preview the first story in today's program, as it contains graphic material that may not be appropriate for all students.

Quick Guide

Saddam Hussein on Trial - Visit a Kurdish village where residents are happy to see Saddam Hussein on trial.

Show of Force - Find out how and why Iran is showcasing the strength and preparedness of its military.

Building Green - Observe one way in which some buildings are getting greener without using a drop of extra paint.



SOPHIA CHOI, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Glad to have you along for CNN Student News! This Monday edition starts off your week. Hello, I'm Sophia Choi, let's get right to today's top stories. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein goes back to court today. Why a second trial is getting underway. And what war crimes he's accused of now. There's a massive show of force underway in the Middle East. Who's conducting the military exercises and why? And some voters are going green and cashing in on the next big construction craze. What they're doing that helps the Earth.

First Up: Saddam Hussein on Trial

CHOI: Teachers should preview our first story, as it contains some graphic images. The report comes to us from Iraq, where Saddam Hussein's second trial started today. It is separate from a trial in which he's accused in the deaths of Shiite Muslims. In this second case, Iraq's former leader is accused of genocide and crimes against humanity stemming from a crackdown against the Kurds in the late 1980's. Harris Whitbeck reports on a village in Kurdistan where families still mourn their dead, and still want vengeance.


HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN REPORTER: The cemetery near the village of Swasnan, in Iraqi Kurdistan, is a peaceful place. Gravemarkers carved from local stone are shaded by old, leafy trees. For the last sixteen years, Gheidan Mahid has visited the cemetery every two weeks. Six of her relatives are buried here.

GHEIDAN MAHID, FAMILY KILLED: This is my husband Abdullah's's grave, this is my daughter Asso's grave, this is my other daughter Kajal's grave, this is my son in law's grave and the other two graves are his parents.

WHITBECK: They all died the same day, March 22 1988. Killed by the mustard gas and sarin which prosecutors say Saddam Hussein ordered unleashed on some 2000 villages in Kurdistan. Part of a campaign of ethnic cleansing code-named al Anfal: "The Spoils."

Just down the road in Swasnan, Mohammed Abdullah keeps the photos of the thirteen members of his family he lost on that day.

WHITBECK: Mohammed was saved that day because he was upwind of the area where the gas was dropped. But he was condemned to relive time and again the nightmare of what he saw. As Saddam Hussein and his top Baath party officials and military commanders face trial for the al Anfal campaign. Some of the survivors will testify - and Mohamed hopes the trial will somehow bring him peace.

MOHAMMED: I am happy with the trial, not only me but all Kurdish people are happy to see Saddam going through this trial. We all ready to be witnesses against Saddam in this trial.

WHITBECK: The group Human Rights Watch says over one hundred thousand Kurds died during the nerve gas attacks, in a campaign that lasted for several weeks. Saddam and his officers stand accused of being the first government ever to use chemical weapons against its own people.

WHITBECK: The Kurdish survivors say they think this second trial for Saddam Hussein is a luxury he doesn't deserve.

GHEIDAN MAHID: He should have been executed the day he was captured because he did many horrible things in his life.

WHITBECK: Saddam Hussein already faces a death sentence if he's convicted of crimes against humanity in his first trial. He faces the same penalty if found guilty in this trial. Harris Whitbeck, CNN, Baghdad.


Iraq Pilgrim Killed

CHOI: In Iraq, a new round of sectarian violence is stoking ethnic tensions. Thousands of Shiite pilgrims were marching in Baghdad yesterday when gunmen opened fire. Authorities say the shootings killed at least 20 people and wounded more than 300. Gunmen managed to attack the crowds despite tighter security, including a weekend ban on driving. The pilgrims were marking the anniversary of the death of an 8-th century Shiite Muslim hero.

Fast Facts

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS REPORTER: Time for some Fast Facts! Iraq is a religiously and ethnically diverse country. The CIA estimates that 97 percent of Iraqis are Muslim, with almost two thirds Shiite Muslims, and about one third Sunni Muslims. As far as ethnic groups go, Arabs dominate the country's makeup, while Kurds make up between 15 and 20 percent of the population. More than 26 million people live in Iraq.

Show of Force

CHOI: Iran is now conducting major military exercises that are expected to last several weeks. With U.S. troops posted in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan... Iranian commanders say the war games are meant to send a message to the West. The U.S. and other countries suspect Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, and are urging leaders there to suspend its nuclear program. Aneesh Raman is in Tehran, where Iran is flexing its military muscle.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (SOUNDS OF EXPLOSIONS) It is meant to leave little Iran, there is a readiness for war. Over the weekend the armed forces launched massive military exercises... set to continue over the next five weeks in half of the country's provinces...and set to showcase key assets, including this surface-to-surface missile, dubbed, in Farsi, "Thunder." Iranian Military officials say it can travel up to 155 miles...short range perhaps, but this all, they say, is part of a new defensive doctrine.

COLONEL SALEHI, CHIEF COMMANDER OF THE IRANIAN ARMY: The war games are in operation across the country in a large scale and they are aimed at encountering all sudden attacks from enemies.

RAMAN: The threat of sudden attacks is a not so veiled reference to potential air strikes Iran could face from the West against it's nuclear facilities; a prospect being urgently prepared for here ahead of a U.N. deadline for Iran to suspend it's nuclear program.

As early as Tuesday Iran could officially give it's decision on that. But on Sunday came a preview...

HAMID REZA ASEFI, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: Suspension is moving back to the past and it is not on Iran's agenda and we will not suspend our nuclear activities.

RAMAN: Iranian officials have, from the start, maintained theirs is a peaceful, civilian nuclear program that they have the right to pursue it. But with suspension off the negotiating table, Iran will almost certainly face action by the U.N. Iranian officials say they are ready for sanctions. And, as these scenes are meant to reinforce, ready for any military strike by the West.

U.S. officials have said military action against Iran is an option, but have seriously downplayed that any detailed plans are in the works. That matters little to Iran's government, who firmly believe that the U.S., through this nuclear issue, is seeking nothing less than regime change. Aneesh Raman, CNN, Tehran.



AZUZ: Time for the Shoutout! Which of the following is NOT a fossil fuel? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Natural gas, B) Bitumen, C) Oil or D) Coal? Trick question! All of these are fossil fuels. If you're wondering about bitumen, it's a natural substance that's used in tar and asphalt. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Building Green

CHOI: With fuel prices making some folks see red, builders are increasingly responding by building green. Using advanced buildings are sprouting up everywhere. They are designed to reduce greenhouse gases, and to be cheaper to heat and cool. As Gary Nurenberg explains that makes sense for the Earth, and saves dollars on energy bills.


GARY NURENBERG, CNN REPORTER: From a Santa Monica office building on the West Coast...

DANIEL HINERFIELD, NRDC: We use about 60 percent less electricity than typical office building this size.

NURENBERG: to a Gaithersburg, Maryland Youth Center On the East.

BOB PEELER, ROBERTSON PARK YOUTH CENTER: It is renewable and it is environmentally-friendly

NURENBERG: Buildings designed to be energy efficient and conserve natural resources are sprouting like black-eyed Susan on this rooftop in Washington, D.C.

MICHELLE MOORE, U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL: It's a no-brainer. There's no reason today that you should be building any other way than green.

NURENBERG: Michelle Moore is with the United States Green Building Council.

MOORE: Green buildings are an immediate and measurable way to save energy, reduce CO2 emissions, reduce water consumption, and create a better healthier environment

NURENBERG: The American Society of Landscape Architects...

DENNIS CARMICHAEL, ASLA PRESIDENT: We consider it like trading in an SUV for a hybrid.

NURENBERG: Has loaded the roof of its D.C. headquarters with plants.

CARMICHAEL: They will cool the roof, they'll clean the water. They also act as an insulating blanket. they should reduce our heating and cooling bills. Buildings contribute 40 percent of emissions and 40 percent of heat that's radiated into the environment. Buildings are actually worse consumers of energy than cars

NURENBERG: Some of the solutions are as simple as an open window.

HINERFIELD: Instead of constantly air-conditioning the office, which you need to do in a typical office building, here you can just open the window and catch an ocean breeze

NURENBERG: The Natural Resources Defense Council uses motion sensors to turn lights off and on in the Santa Monica offices built with recycled materials. It captures and recycles rainwater and uses special toilets.

HINERFIELD: There are two buttons on the top, so you can choose to flush with a whole tank of water or half a tank of water

PEELER: The wall insulation is made out of recycled blue jeans

NURENBERG: That Maryland Youth Center uses geothermal energy to heat and cool, has cabinets made from wheat straw and window blinds made from recycled aluminum cans.

PEELER: We don't burn any fossil fuels in this building and we're saving energy.

NURENBERG: And with energy costs consistently rising, being green has building owners seeing green on their bottom line. Gary Nurenberg, CNN Washington.


Before We Go

CHOI: Before we go...Your mom says don't play indoors. But these gearheads are riding indoors with their motorcycles. This moto mayhem took place in Romania... and was part of "Romaniacs" ... A weeklong endurance race that wrapped up this weekend. Riders went over mountains, spun across streams and even stormed through this six-story construction site. Now check out this crash landing.. ouch!Besides the hard falls.. riders also also saw some awesome scenery along their very bumpy ride.


CHOI: Thanks for joining us for this edition of Student News. Don't forget we're online and on the air. And we'll look forward to bringing you the news tomorrow. I'm Sophia Choi.

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