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CNN Student News Transcript: September 21, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Take note of an alleged terror plot that stretches from the U.S. to Pakistan
  • Record an award-winning Hispanic author's advice for young, aspiring writers
  • Fly into a thunderstorm to see how scientists literally seed more rain
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(CNN Student News) -- September 21, 2009

Quick Guide

Terror Investigation - Take note of an alleged terror plot that stretches from the U.S. to Pakistan.

Hispanic Heritage Month - Record an award-winning Hispanic author's advice for young, aspiring writers.

Cloud Seeding - Fly into a thunderstorm to see how scientists literally seed more rain!



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: From our studio to your classrooms, this is CNN Student News! Hope you all had a great weekend. Reporting from Atlanta, I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Terror Investigation

AZUZ: First up, three men are in custody in connection with an alleged terror plot that stretches from Colorado to Pakistan. They're charged with "making false statements" -- lying -- to FBI agents who have been investigating this thing. If they are convicted, the three men could face eight years in prison. The Justice Department says it's investigating several other people as part of a plan to carry out a terrorist attack. Jeanne Meserve has the details on this weekend's arrests.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Najibullah Zazi and his father Mohammed arrested here in Denver, Ahmad Afzali arrested in New York, are all charged with lying to the FBI in the course of a terrorism investigation. According to the court documents, authorities found on Najibullah Zazi's computer nine pages of documents detailing how to build a bomb, handwritten documents. According to the charging documents, Zazi, during questioning by the FBI, said he had not written them, he had not put them there, but FBI forensics and handwriting analysis indicated that he had. Now also in these documents, we read that Zazi has admitted to the authorities that he attended an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan in 2008, at which he received weapons and explosives training. This, although Zazi and his attorney denied yesterday that he had made any such admission.

As for the father and Afzali, the man in New York, they allegedly lied to the FBI about a series of telephone calls which tipped Najibullah Zazi off to the fact that the FBI was investigating him. The specifics of any alleged plot to set off explosives in the U.S. are not detailed in these documents, and a Department of Justice official says that they still do not have any specific knowledge on the timing, the location, or the targeting of any such attacks. But this investigation is continuing. These charges allow authorities to detain these men and question them while that investigation continues around the world. Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Denver.


Sunday Talk Shows

AZUZ: President Obama took to the airwaves this weekend, doing interviews with five different TV networks. It was all part of an effort to help push some of the political issues that he's made a priority. When he talked with CNN's John King, the conversation hit on a whole range of topics, from North Korea's nuclear program to the number of U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan and the H1N1 flu vaccine. A big focus was on the U.S. economy and the president's outlook on the country's job situation.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I want to be clear, that probably, the jobs picture is not going to improve considerably, and it could even get a little bit worse over the next couple of months. And we're probably not going to start seeing enough job creation to deal with a rising population until sometime next year.

Rosh Hashanah

AZUZ: Catching up on a couple religious events now, starting with the celebration of the Jewish new year. Rosh Hashanah begins on the first day of Tishri on the Jewish calendar, and that was this past Friday night. Around the world, Jews gathered to take part in services and ceremonies, including the blowing of the shofar, a ram's horn that sounds kind of like a trumpet. Along with Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah is one of the Jewish High Holy Days, and this one marked the start of the year 5770 in the Jewish calendar.


AZUZ: Meanwhile, Muslims marked the end of Ramadan this weekend. The month-long observance is considered the most sacred time of the Muslim year, and it takes place during the ninth month on the Muslim calendar. During Ramadan, observers don't eat or drink during daylight hours, and usually break their fast with a meal after sunset. There's often a large feast on the last day of Ramadan, which is called Eid. In Islam, this holiday marks the time when the prophet Mohammed received the first of the teachings that make up the Qu'ran, the faith's holy book.

I.D. Me

NINETTE SOSA, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I'm an island nation whose government is communist. I'm home to more than 11 million people. I'm located in the Caribbean Sea, about 90 miles south of Key West, Florida. I'm Cuba, and my capital city is Havana.

Controversial Concert

AZUZ: A concert in that capital city is causing a bit of controversy. Colombian musician Juanes brought together more than a dozen international artists for the event in Havana yesterday. The 17-time Latin Grammy winner said his goal for this concert was to help relations between the U.S. and Cuba. But not everyone saw it that way. Some Cuban exiles who oppose the island nation's communist government spoke out against the concert and publicly smashed Juanes's records. The singer said he wasn't surprised by that reaction.

Hispanic Heritage Month

AZUZ: Right now, we're in the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month. It lasts from September 15th to October 15th, and it was established to celebrate the culture and traditions of Hispanic Americans. For his "Pioneros Latino Firsts" segment, CNN's Don Lemon recently talked with author Oscar Hijuelos, the first Hispanic to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. When he wrote his award-winning novel "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love," Hijuelos said he didn't have big expectations, and he actually saw that as a good thing.

OSCAR HIJUELOS, AUTHOR, "THE MAMBO KINGS PLAY SONGS OF LOVE": I never even thought that book would get published when I first wrote it. And because of that, having been poor in the first place, I had nothing to lose. And not having expected it to be published, I had felt enormous amounts of freedom.

AZUZ: During the interview, Hijuelos also offered some advice to young people who might be interested in a writing career.

HIJUELOS: When I talk to young kids today who want to be writers, and they're Latinos, in particular, I tell them don't let anyone get you down. Always proceed forward with confidence and believe in yourself.


AZUZ: The CNN special documentary "Latino in America" explores what life is like for members of the Latino community, and how they're reshaping the American culture. The program airs next month, and we'll have a free curriculum guide to go along with it. You can find more information about the show by checking out the Spotlight section at


ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! What cloud's name comes from the Latin word for "rainstorm"? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Cirrus, B) Cumulus, C) Nimbus or D) Stratus? You've got three seconds -- GO! Nimbus means rainstorm or rain cloud. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Cloud Seeding

AZUZ: That's what some Texas residents probably wish they could see right now. While some parts of the country - like here in Atlanta - are experiencing heavy rains, central and south Texas are going through the worst drought in 50 years! But as Natalie Stoll of affiliate KXAN explains, some scientists are taking to the skies in an effort to plant the seeds of a solution.


PILOT: I see one, two, three, four, five, six, seven little showers.

NATALIE STOLL, KXAN REPORTER: These scientists fly right at thunderstorms, high-tech rain farmers planting seeds in the clouds to help them rain longer.

TODD FLANAGAN, PROJECT METEOROLOGIST: Essentially, we're giving the clouds sort of a shot of adrenaline.

STOLL: Pilots navigate through a growing thunderstorm's updraft and set off silver iodide flares.

PILOT: And flares away.

STOLL: It's a chemical that mimics ice crystals and travels through the storm, attracting supercooled water droplets. When they become too heavy, the ice falls and melts on its way down. More ice crystals mean more rain. Back on the ground, the scientists wait.

FLANAGAN: The seeding happened right about here, and we notice that everything is still increasing, as far as the liquid in the cloud.

STOLL: Storms grow larger but not stronger. They estimate over two times as much rain falls from seeded clouds.

FLANAGAN: Because we don't create rain from thin air, we have to work with what's out there.

GEORGE BOMAR, WEATHER MODIFICATION PROGRAM SPECIALIST: We're seeding or modifying the weather on such a small scale. We know today, as we knew 20 years ago, that you have to work with the hand that mother natures deals you.

STOLL: And in a severe drought, a lack of moisture means fewer clouds to seed. Bomar says cloud seeding is a long-term water management strategy, not a quick fix.

PILOT: I see a really thick shower due west here right now.

STOLL: Weather modification isn't new. Cloud seeding started as a way to suppress large hail in the 1970s.

BOMAR: I was fascinated at the impact that seeding using just a couple of airplanes could have on a monstrous thunderstorm.

STOLL: But after years of research, Bomar believes widespread weather modification techniques are around the corner.

BOMAR: Always before, we thought the key to growth was finding additional water down below. Why don't we in turn start looking about drilling up into the atmosphere? Because the marvelous thing about the atmosphere is that it's replenished every day.


Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, you've heard about a well balanced breakfast? This ain't it. All grits, all the time, at least for 10 minutes. If you're not familiar with the breakfast food, grits are... that stuff! Think oatmeal, but grainier. The winner put away nearly 19 pounds - 19 pounds! - in 10 minutes. The man behind the mouth is "Humble Bob," who's on a bit of a roll. The day before, he downed 33-and-a-half burritos in 10 minutes.



AZUZ: Burritos and grits? His stomach must not be in perfect hominy. That eats up all our time for today. I'm Carl Azuz.

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