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CNN Student News Transcript: August 20, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Journey to a remote part of Afghanistan ahead of a presidential election
  • Learn about a pair of planned space launches in the U.S. and South Korea
  • Rock out to a report on the changing technology of electric guitars
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(CNN Student News) -- August 20, 2009

Quick Guide

Afghan Election Day - Journey to a remote part of Afghanistan ahead of a presidential election.

Launch Delayed - Learn about a pair of planned space launches in the U.S. and South Korea.

Guitar of the Future - Rock out to a report on the changing technology of electric guitars.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: One country prepares for its next orbiting opportunity while another has to wait to kick-start its space program. We're launching into the details in CNN Student News. I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Baghdad Violence

AZUZ: We begin in Iraq, where a series of bombings have rocked the capital city of Baghdad. The U.S. pulled its combat troops out of Iraqi cities and towns back on June 30th. That left security responsibilities to the Iraqis. But violence has been on the rise since then, and yesterday marked the deadliest day in the nation since the end of June. At least 95 people were killed and more than 560 others were wounded by six explosions across Baghdad, including two that targeted government buildings. Authorities said that two people who were believed to be connected to the attacks were arrested yesterday. Iraq's prime minister said the bombings will force the country to re-evaluate its security plans. But American officials said the attacks won't stop Iraqis from building a peaceful society and won't stop the U.S. from helping with those efforts.

Afghan Election Day

AZUZ: U.S. forces are also helping out in Afghanistan today, as that country holds just the second presidential election in its history. Security has been a big concern leading up to the event. Several election workers were killed in attacks this week, and the Taliban has vowed to disrupt the voting with violence. That's why American Marines and Afghan soldiers have been deployed to help protect voters.

Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission estimates that there are about 17 million registered voters in the country. That's about 4.6 million more than in 2004 during the last election. Many of them live in remote areas. In order to get them voting supplies, officials are using helicopters, cars, even donkeys. Ivan Watson went along for the ride to one of these polling places and he tells us about the preparations leading up to today's election.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're in a convoy in a police truck. We're escorting this truck up ahead of us -- in the dust, you might be able to see it -- and it's taking ballot boxes up to some of the polling stations here in Afghanistan's central Bamiyan province.

As you can see, security is important here, even though this is one of the safest provinces in the country. Despite that good track record, election workers say, in some parts of the province, they've heard of armed men going house to house, warning people not to vote. And also, there's been a spike in violence and insurgent attacks over the past three months, as insurgents have tried to disrupt this election process.

Now, you can tell the roads here are not paved. Despite the fact that Bamiyan is one of the safest provinces in the country -- it's been spared the daily car bombs and roadside bombs that the south and the east of the country have seen, and some of the assassination attacks -- it still hasn't really benefited from reconstruction. There are fewer than five miles, five kilometers of paved road in this entire province. And that makes this election a real logistical challenge.

You can see the posters over there of some of the candidates for provincial council and for president. People here, they say they are going to participate in the elections. And there is a lot of support here for the incumbent president, Hamid Karzai, in part because some of the traditional ethnic Hazara leaders, this is a predominantly ethnic Hazara province, they have endorsed the incumbent president, Hamid Karzai.


ID Me!

TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I became an independent country after World War II. I'm located on a peninsula in Asia. My capital city of Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics. I'm South Korea, and I'm home to around 48.5 million people.

Launch Delayed

AZUZ: South Korea's space program is in a holding pattern after officials cancelled yesterday's rocket launch just eight minutes before liftoff! In fact, this is the seventh time that the launch has been postponed since the program was started in 2002. Engineers say this week's delay is due to a technical glitch, and it will take at least three days to figure out what went wrong and try again. South Korea is hoping that the rocket, which cost about $400 million, will jump-start its space program. The ultimate goal is to send an unmanned probe to the moon by 2025.

Discovery Launch

AZUZ: The U.S. space program has been running for decades, and NASA is planning its latest launch for next week. Bad weather or technical concerns could cause delays, but if everything goes according to schedule, the space shuttle Discovery will go up Tuesday morning on its 37th mission into space. The seven-person crew will be delivering equipment and supplies to the international space station.

Hurricane Bill

AZUZ: ...whose current crew - up there now - is enjoying this view! What you're looking at is Hurricane Bill as seen from the orbiting space station. The first hurricane of the 2009 Atlantic season increased to a Category 4 storm by Wednesday afternoon. It's big, it's bad, it's moving through the Atlantic Ocean. But forecasters don't expect it to affect the southern United States, although they say it's too early to tell if Bill will have an impact on the northeast.


GEORGE RAMSAY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mr. Parks' government classes at Luverne High School in Luverne, Alabama! On what stringed instrument would you find a tune-o-matic bridge, tremolo and pickups? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it a: A) Cello, B) Piano, C) Lever Harp or D) Electric Guitar? You've got three seconds -- GO! You can find all of these features on an electric guitar. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Guitar of the Future

AZUZ: Electric guitars have been around for more than 70 years. They've seen some changes during that time -- the type of strings, the shape of the instrument, even what it's made out of -- but they've all basically sounded the same. Not anymore. Felipe Barral tells us about a new guitar that incorporates the past as it moves toward the future.


FELIPE BARRAL, CNN REPORTER: The last couple of years, guitars have added mini-computers that add a whole new dimension.

JOHN HALPEN, GUITAR CENTER: What this is attempting to do is kind of integrate digital and analog signals, and the worlds exist within them.

BARRAL: At the Guitar Center, John Halpen shows off the latest offering. It's the Gibson Dark Fire, which is based on the famous Gibson Les Paul classic guitar, but with a microprocessor inside, taking studio effects out on the road.

HALPEN: With the advantage of digital audio and recording systems that are available in-house, to where everyone can do it themselves. This allows you to tap into those abilities and get all sorts of different sounds that were never possible with a regular guitar.

BARRAL: The guitar tones itself, just by turning the master control knob, one can change to any of 18 different tones. With a small servo motor on each tuning key, it looks like magic. The guitar also has a technology called "chameleon" that can simulate several classical sounds, sounds that use to depend on the different types of wood a guitar is made from, like a classic electric guitar or an acoustic guitar to a more jazzy sound.

HALPEN: Guitar players are generally kind of looking to the past for what they've always liked sound wise. And what this does is lets you get all those classic sounds from the past, staples of rock music, jazz music and all that from one guitar.

BARRAL: The guitar can also be connected to a nearby computer that gives more choices: the type of amplifier you use, the equalization, effects and even record a "loop" and play on top of it, all live. For some guitarists, this is the evolution of sound: endless turning possibilities, cutting edge technology and the ability to produce different sounds with just one click. One has to realize that creativity has a very interesting new tool. Felipe Barral, CNN, Atlanta.



AZUZ: Showoff. But I guess if I were that good, I'd be showing off too. Now you tell us: Is this cool, with technology making something better? Or is it cheating, kind of taking something away from tuning the guitar yourself? We thought you musicians might have something to say about this. Say it on our blog! Head to and riff your opinion.

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, want to know the fastest way to ruin a quiet summer evening? Have this guy show up on your front porch! Yeah, that's all the same snake. 11 feet long, 55 pounds and doesn't seem to like being held. The pesky python slithered up on a California family's front stoop this week before getting stuck in a nearby fence. When animal control showed up, it took two officers to wrestle the rascally reptile into the truck.



AZUZ: They should have just called in Shirley Coen. If you don't get that joke, just watch yesterday's Before We Go segment. But we are going to slither away for today. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.

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