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CNN Student News Transcript: August 25, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Learn why the U.S. government is investigating past CIA interrogation methods
  • Explore the impact of desertification on Iraq's plants and people
  • Witness the whirlwind of success surrounding the world's fastest man
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(CNN Student News) -- August 25, 2009

Quick Guide

Interrogation Report - Learn why the U.S. government is investigating past CIA interrogation methods.

Iraq Dust Storms - Explore the impact of desertification on Iraq's plants and people.

Bolt Mania - Witness the whirlwind of success surrounding the world's fastest man.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Your commercial-free source for classroom news is pondering probes, planets and pumas! I'm Carl Azuz. CNN Student News starts right now.

First Up: Interrogation Report

AZUZ: First up, the U.S. government launches an investigation into methods used by the Central Intelligence Agency to question suspects. Attorney General Eric Holder, the country's top law enforcement officer, said he knew it would raise controversy when he announced the investigation yesterday, but he's seen enough information to move forward.

That information comes from a report written by the CIA in 2004 about the techniques used by some of its agents. Former President George W. Bush authorized what were called "enhanced interrogation" methods after the September 11th attacks. Those methods were used on suspected terrorists. The CIA report refers to some of the techniques that were used as unauthorized. Attorney General Holder's investigation is looking into whether or not the interrogations were illegal. The CIA says it didn't endorse any behavior that went outside the bounds of official guidelines.

Holder says this investigation will not focus on the people who carried out the questioning, who were following the guidance of the Bush administration. The second most powerful person in that administration, Vice President Dick Cheney, says that the interrogation methods and the program as a whole were needed to keep the country safe.

FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: The intelligence officers who questioned the terrorists can be proud of their work and proud of the results, because they prevented the violent death of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people.

AZUZ: Attorney General Holder is also considering the country's safety, and says the investigation won't pose a threat to it.

U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, ERIC HOLDER: We will not be doing anything that would endanger the American people or in some way lessen our national security.

New Interrogation

AZUZ: In the meantime, President Obama is making a change when it comes to who handles the questioning of suspected terrorists. That responsibility is shifting from the CIA to the FBI and a special unit of terrorist interrogators. The change is based on a recommendation of a task force that the president created after he took office. The new unit will make sure that future interrogations meet certain restrictions outlined in a U.S. Army manual.

Is this Legit?

TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? There are officially nine planets in our solar system. Not legit! According to the International Astronomical Union, there are eight planets, after Pluto was downgraded three years ago.

Pondering Pluto

Downloadable Maps

AZUZ: Two U.S. states -- Illinois and New Mexico -- have voted to re-instate Pluto's status as a planet. Three years ago, the International Astronomical Union voted that Pluto was a dwarf planet, and that knocked it off the list of official planets. So, what is a planet? One: it orbits the sun. Two: it must be nearly round. Three: there can't be other objects in its path. That last one was the sticking point; Pluto's orbit has ice and rocks in its path. Other scientists argue that any round object that orbits the sun should be a planet, and that would include Pluto.

Iraq Dust Storms

AZUZ: Moving from planets to plant life, or the lack of it. It's a problem in parts of Iraq, and it's being caused by a process called desertification. That's when plants and soil dry up and the land turns into a desert. Arwa Damon examines the impact that this is having in the Middle Eastern nation, not just on the plants, but on the people.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a typical dust storm: the unnatural and eerie orange glow, minimal visibility as suffocating tiny particles stirred up by desert winds descend on the people, causing obvious respiratory health concerns. Over the last few years, the frequency and intensity of these storms have increased, and experts say that's an indication of a much more ominous problem: the desertification of Iraq.

FADHIL FARAJI, MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE: "This is a real catastrophe," Fadhil Faraji of Iraq's agriculture ministry says, "because this crisis threatens food security in this country."

DAMON: Iraq was among the region's most fertile areas thanks to the flowing rivers of the Euphrates and the Tigris. But take a look at the Tigris today: it's anything but flowing. In fact, no one who we have spoken to has ever seen its levels this low. Jawad Khadim and his father take us on a tour of their once fertile land, which has been in the family for generations. They show us their now dying crops.

JAWAD KADHIM, FARMER: "The risk with the increase of desertification," he explains, "is that farmers will leave their farms and start looking for new jobs."

DAMON: Their farm, for example, only produces around 50 percent of what it used to, barely enough to feed and clothe this extended family of 45 that relies on these lands.

KADHIM GAZI, FARMER: "There has been no rain in the past three years," Khadim's father tells us, "and we've had more sandstorms. We've never experienced weather this bad."

DAMON: Iraq's agriculture ministry estimates that 90 percent of the country's lands now produce unprofitable food.

FARAJI: "When there is a food shortage," Faraji warns, "people will turn to other methods to get what they need, and that includes violence."



JONES: See if you can I.D. Me! I'm an island nation that's located in the Caribbean Sea. I was settled by Spain, but I got my independence from the United Kingdom in 1962. My capital city is Kingston. I'm Jamaica! And I'm home to around 2.8 million people, including the fastest man in the world!

Bolt Mania

AZUZ: It's like he's got lightning in his shoes. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, the "fastest man in the world," recently set two new records at the Berlin World Championships. Bolt bolted 100 meters in 9.58 seconds, 200 meters in 19.19 seconds - I don't think I drive that fast. And while he was in Berlin, Fred Pleitgen found out that Bolt's shoes are seeing success both on the track and in the bank.


PEOPLE ON THE STREET: Usain Bolt, Usain Bolt.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a one-man show. Fans lined up for hours at this Puma flagship store to meet the fastest man in the world. Bolt mania in Berlin.

USAIN BOLT, FASTEST MAN IN THE WORLD: I think it is all my hard work and dedication. I'm really dedicated to being a champion. I want to be a legend. So, I have to work really hard if I want to be a champion. So, I'm just doing that and that's it.

PLEITGEN: How about this for legendary: Berlin dedicated an original piece of the infamous Berlin Wall to Bolt to be displayed in his homeland, Jamaica.

BOLT: It's definitely it's an honor. I got my face painted all over it. I'm going to put it in front of my house if I can get it there. I'm looking for that. It was an honor getting a piece of the wall.

PLEITGEN: Many are trying to grab a piece of the pie. There's the Jamaican tourism board, and Puma's Jamaica collection is flying off the shelves. Usain Bolt's big success means big money for his sponsor Puma. You have the Usain Bolt hoodie shirt, a whole Jamaica collection, including t-shirts, and the Usain Bolt shoes, which are sold out in almost every store.

JOCHEN ZEITZ , CEO, PUMA: He's not just an athlete, he's just an amazing personality, which I think for the first time gives a great opportunity to promote an athlete beyond his sport. He's about fun, he's about the Jamaican lifestyle, and that's something that we're also trying to incorporate into our collections.

PLEITGEN: Puma believes Bolt's advertising value goes into the hundreds of millions. Even Bolt's dad says he's never seen so many people sport Jamaica's colors outside Jamaica.

WELLESLEY BOLT, USAIN BOLT'S FATHER: That surprises me. Everybody wants to be Jamaican now.

PLEITGEN: But Puma may want to watch out. Head hunters are prowling their star athlete, even at this Puma event. Listen:

MAN ON THE STREET: Here is a million dollar contract for you. We will make a million dollar contract. Here's my contacts for a German company. Here's my contacts, an advertising contract we would make.

PLEITGEN: Bolt seemed less than interested, but for a man who can mobilize the masses like this, other offers are sure to follow.

BOLT: Yes, yes this is a good one.

PLEITGEN: Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.



AZUZ: If you teachers want to have a Shoutout dedicated to your class, and we know that a lot of you do. Make yourself stand out. Send us an iReport. You can see how at Include a picture of yourself, your class or your school. It's easy to do, and it might get you a dedicated Shoutout on our show.

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, you might dream about showing up to your class reunion in a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. Any exhotic set of wheels. This guy decided he only needed two wheels - old school. But his wheels still impressed all his former classmates, especially since he rode them 800 miles to get there! Oliver Seikel -- that is really his name -- he biked from Cleveland, Ohio to Boston, Massachusetts for his 50th college reunion just to prove to himself he wasn't getting old.



AZUZ: Normally, we'd make a pun here, but how can you top a biker who's name is cycle? Even if you tried, the wheels would just come off. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.

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