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CNN Student News Transcript: June 4, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Look back at events that led to powerful protests in China 20 years ago
  • See China's reaction to media coverage of a significant anniversary
  • Check out a new technology that makes lawn care much less manual
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(CNN Student News) -- June 4, 2009

Quick Guide

Tiananmen Square - Look back at events that led to powerful protests in China 20 years ago.

Security Crackdown - See China's reaction to media coverage of a significant anniversary.

No More Yard Work? - Check out a new technology that makes lawn care much less manual.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Hi, I'm Carl Azuz and this is CNN Student News! Anyone looking to make money this summer by cutting lawns might have some metallic competition. The explanation on that is coming right up.

First Up: Mideast Trip

AZUZ: But first, we are reporting on President Obama on his trip to the Middle East. He is in Egypt, and early today, he was scheduled to make a major address at a university in the capital city of Cairo. His main focus was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a source of tension in the region and around the world. We'll have more coverage of the president's speech in tomorrow's show.

As we've reported, the goal of this trip is to reset relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world. Yesterday, we looked at a poll about how Americans view Muslim countries. In a recent survey, 14 percent of people in those nations, those Muslim countries, have a favorable view of the U.S., while a vast majority, 78 percent, have an unfavorable opinion. Before he arrived in Egypt, Obama began his Middle East trip with a stop in Saudi Arabia. He spoke about the importance of visiting the country.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I thought it was very important to come to the place where Islam began and to seek his majesty's counsel and to discuss with him many of the issues that we confront here in the Middle East.

Word to the Wise


dissident (noun) someone who disagrees with something, such as an opinion or belief


Tiananmen Square

AZUZ: Today marks the 20th anniversary of China's violent response to a group of dissidents protesting in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. The demonstrators, many of whom were college students, were speaking out against political policies in the communist nation. Their protests drew the attention of the world. Kristie Lu Stout looks back at the events that led up to the historic moment.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR, HONG KONG: In the spring of 1989, the elements for a perfect storm were coming together in Beijing. By the late '80s, a new mood was being felt in the socialist world. Old ways were being challenged. In China too, students and intellectuals were finding new voices, openly discussing taboo topics like democracy and freedom. Even within the communist party there were those who saw reform as the only way forward.

And then on April 15th, a momentous death. Hu Yaobang, once the head of the Chinese communist party, had spent the last two years of his life in obscurity. He had fallen foul of hardliners for his reformist views. What followed was a staggering outpouring of grief and anger. Thousands of students flocked into Tiananmen Square. While efforts were made to keep students out, they repeatedly broke through police lines.

And amazingly, in a country with no free press and tight controls on foreign media, the world watched these events unfold. By coincidence, the world's media happened to be in Beijing for a historic summit between China and the Soviet Union.

From expressions of grief, the students moved to demands, including a new appraisal of Hu Yaobang, a free press and the right to protest.

And it was infectious. Workers, civil servants and others all joined the crowds in Tiananmen.

Similar demonstrations broke out in cities throughout China. Domestic media began reporting on the events with unprecedented independence.

Upping the ante, the students declared a hunger strike. In meetings with government officials, their demands grew more strident. But after weeks of soft persuasion by moderate officials, the party elders had had enough.

The reformist General-Secretary Zhao Ziyang made an emotional last public appearance. In a surprise visit to the square, he told students, "We have failed you." And yes, that's Wen Jiaobao, China's current prime minister, standing right next to him. That night Zhao was removed from office, and Prime Minister Li Peng declared martial law. "The Goddess of Democracy" is soon unveiled and becomes a rallying point for the hundreds of thousands now gathered there. The occupation continued until the night of June 3. Tanks rumbled through the streets of Beijing. And in the early hours of June 4th, 1989, the People's Liberation opened fire.

The Chinese Red Cross initially reported 2,600 people died over the two days, but later retracted that figure. The official figure stands at 241 dead and 7,000 wounded. Perhaps the most enduring image of Tiananmen is what happened on June the 5th. This lone protester stood defiantly in front of a line of tanks. The world watched and held its breath, until onlookers dragged him away. The "tank man" captivated the world and, to this day, his identity remains a mystery. Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.


Security Crackdown

AZUZ: A powerful image. The Tiananmen Square demonstration, and especially the image of that single protester and the tanks, became famous. But China often tries to downplay the event. This week, one official referred to it as simply "a political incident that took place in the late 1980s." And as John Vause shows us, the government doesn't seem too keen on coverage of the anniversary. Watch this.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, BEIJING: These plainclothes officials are using these umbrellas here to block our view whenever we try and do any videotaping anywhere near the square. They're also carrying these walkie talkies, right there. That gentleman has a walkie talkie. So does this other gentleman here. Authorities are also rounding up dissidents. Many, they say, according to some reports, in fact, have been sent out out of town. Others have been detained.

University students, too, have also been warned to watch what they say, and there is also heavy security around many of the schools and some of the bigger campuses in Beijing. And right now, as you can see, these officials continually blocking our view to try and stop us from filing any kind of report from Tiananmen Square.



RAMSAY: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mr. Templeton's social science classes at Concord High School in Concord, Michigan. Which of these is NOT a type of grass? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Bermuda, B) Centipede, C) Millipede or D) Blue? You've got three seconds -- GO! Bermuda, blue and centipede, sure; but there's no such thing as millipede grass. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

No More Yard Work?

AZUZ: No matter what kind of grass you've got this time of year, it all needs cutting. It's not a fun chore, as many of you know, and some folks might even hire you to take care of it for them. But if you're looking for an automated option, and you have just a few thousand bucks to spare, a new mini-mower may be right up your alley. Sean Callebs explains the unique yard service.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, NEW ORLEANS: This summer, the Lynch family wants to spend more time playing and less time working.

MITZI LYNCH, HOMEOWNER: It's actually nice to not having to be outside for hours doing yard work for hours on a Saturday afternoon

CALLEBS: They're hoping this little robot can help.

LYNCH: My son decided to call it "mowie."

CALLEBS: Its real name is "automower," a battery-operated and self-charging device that could give your lawn that freshly mowed look and you'll never even break a sweat. So, how does it work? Simply program the times you want it to start and stop, then a wire installed around your yard lets automower know where to cut and guides it back home when it needs recharging.

GENT SIMMONS, PRODUCT MANAGER, HUSQVARNA: It can operate day, night, rain, wind, doesn't matter. Automower is designed to be out there whenever you need it out there, regardless of the weather conditions.

CALLEBS: And this gadget is just as "green" as the grass it clips. The automower doesn't use gas or oil and gives off zero emissions. Plus...

SIMMONS: You don't have to have chemicals or fertilizers to put down. The grass decomposing actually acts as a natural fertilizer. I think you are going to see more traditional mowers that will have alternative fuels, more traditional mowers that will have battery technology. This is the way that the industry is trending.

CALLEBS: Sean Callebs, CNN.


Stay in touch this summer

AZUZ: After tomorrow, our show is taking a two-month break. But we're not going away completely over the summer! At, we'll be posting new blogs and putting new stories in the Spotlight section. Plus, we'll be updating the official CNN Student News Facebook page. Plenty of ways for you to spend your summer with CNN Student News!

Before We Go

AZUZ: And finally, it is normal to see animals hanging out in trees. Not quite as normal when it's a bear. And even less normal when that tree is in the middle of a neighborhood! But that is what happened in Wisconsin this week. The bear found himself a nice perch and just kind of hung around for a while. No wild ending here. Eventually, it just came down on its own. Which experts say is the right way to handle this situation.



AZUZ: So remember, the next time you see a bear in a tree, just leaf him alone. Yeah, I know it. That was just horrible. But there's just one more show to go this school year, so we hope you'll bear with us. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.

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