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CNN Student News Transcript: September 22, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Discover the details of an investigation into an alleged terror plot
  • Learn one general's recommendation for U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan
  • Hear one news anchor's advice on how confidence can help overcome obstacles
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(CNN Student News) -- September 22, 2009

Quick Guide

Suspects in Court - Discover the details of an investigation into an alleged terror plot.

Troops in Afghanistan - Learn one general's recommendation for U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan.

Morning Sunshine - Hear one news anchor's advice on how confidence can help overcome obstacles.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: A warning about the war in Afghanistan from the top U.S. commander in the country? We'll tell you what he has to say. I'm Carl Azuz. CNN Student News starts right now!

First Up: Suspects in Court

AZUZ: First up, an investigation into an alleged terror plot moves to the courtroom, as three men charged with lying to federal agents appear before a judge. We first reported on this story yesterday. Authorities arrested two of the suspects in Colorado and the other one in New York. The Justice Department says the three are among several people who are under investigation in connection with an alleged plan to set off explosive devices somewhere in the U.S. The mayor of New York City says this is a reminder "that terrorism hasn't gone away." Jeanne Meserve has the latest on this investigation.


JEANNE MESERVE, HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan national who has been the focal point of this terror probe, was arrested at his home outside Denver Saturday night along with his father, Mohammed Zazi. The owner of this Muslim burial service in Queens, New York, Ahmad Afzali, was the third taken into custody. All are charged with making false statements to the FBI during a terror investigation. Court documents reveal no details about the timing or targeting of the alleged explosives plot, but they allege that Najibullah Zazi lied about nine pages of detailed bombmaking instructions found on his computer.

RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: The FBI had taken his computer, had mirrored it -- had copied it, in essence -- put it back in his car. Mr. Zazi had not known that that had happened, apparently. So when he was questioned about whether or not he knew anything about these handwritten notes, and they were shown to him, he denied that knowledge

MESERVE: The court documents also allege that Najibullah Zazi admitted getting explosives and weapons training at an al Qaeda camp in Pakistan, though Zazi and his lawyer claimed Saturday he had not made such an admission. Experts say the charges were filed to pressure the men into cooperating with the ongoing investigation of Najibullah Zazi.

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: What direction is he getting from al Qaeda members in the federally administered tribal areas in addition to the training that he got? Secondly, who else has he communicated with here in the United States? Obviously, the government has some idea of who that is based on their surveillance, both electronic and physical. But what they want to do is make sure they've identified the entire net, the whole range of conspirators.

MESERVE: In Queens, New York, where one of the arrests took place, a member of the Muslim community expressed surprise the alleged plot had come to light now.

MAN ON THE STREET: It's the end of Ramadan. People are more humble, people are more religious. It would be very hard for me to imagine people who would be doing wrong deeds during that month, a special time of the year.

MESERVE: Experts say it is possible, even likely, that additional charges will be brought. They say the government likely revealed as little as possible in these first charges as it shores up its case and continues the investigation in the U.S., Pakistan and elsewhere. Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Denver.


Troops in Afghanistan

AZUZ: Moving to military news, now. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, says that more troops are needed there in the next year, or else the war "will likely result in failure." That statement was part of a document that was leaked to The Washington Post newspaper recently. There are currently 62,000 U.S. forces serving in Afghanistan. The Pentagon plans to add an additional 6,000 troops by the end of the year. But some members of Congress think Gen. McChrystal may call for thousands more.

President's Week

AZUZ: Ultimately, that is President Obama's choice as Commander in Chief of the U.S. He says he wants to evaluate the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan before he makes decisions about troop levels. Meantimne, the president is looking at a busy schedule this week. Starting today, he's in ew York for the United Nations General Assembly. That conference will address a number of global issues. Then Thursday, the president heads to Pittsburgh to host a two-day meeting of the G20, a group of the world's largest economies.

Word to the Wise


deluge (noun) a heavy rain, downpour or flood


Southeast Flooding

AZUZ: Deluge, however you say it, that is what parts of the southeastern U.S. are struggling through right now. Days of deluge led rivers and creeks to overflow on Monday, causing severe flooding that claimed several lives in parts of Georgia and Tennessee. This in a region that was recently gripped by a severe drought.

You can see how deep the water is in this video from Atlanta. The flooding trapped some students at school for a while. They were able to get out later with help from the fire department. In other parts of the region, people were forced to evacuate their homes because of fears about dams and levees failing. Georgia's governor declared a state of emergency for 17 counties. Yesterday, one emergency official said, "We're in rescue-and-recovery mode. It has not stopped raining, and another line of thunderstorms is coming."

Shuttle Arrives Home

AZUZ: Those same storms made for an interesting flight home for the space shuttle Discovery. It hitched a ride on the back of a 747 for the 2,500-mile trek from California back to Florida. You might remember that Discovery touched down on the west coast after its recent trip to the international space station. During yesterday's final leg of the journey home, the shuttle's carrier aircraft actually had to navigate around those storms, which the pilot said made for the most challenging weather situation he's dealt with in more than 10 of these trips.


GEORGE RAMSAY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mr. Gleason's social studies class at Ron Watson Middle School in Yuma, Arizona! Who said, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you are right"? Was it: A) William Shakespeare, B) Mark Twain, C) Thomas Edison or D) Henry Ford? You've got three seconds -- GO! That quote on confidence comes from Henry Ford. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Morning Sunshine

AZUZ: Confidence is a major theme of Robin Meade's new book, "Morning Sunshine." You might recognize the name, Ms. Meade is the anchor of "Morning Express" on HLN. Recently, I talked with her about some of the challenges she's faced and what advice she might have for you. The full interview is at Part of our conversation is right here.


AZUZ: We all struggle on that path to wherever we're going. You discussed times when you have struggled with your singing voice, with your speaking voice in the past. How would you encourage a quarterback who's missing his receivers, or a band member who's missing her notes, or an A student who's going to get a B?

MEADE: So in my case, at one point in my early 20s I lost my singing voice; I had a voice paralysis. And then when I had some panic attacks about ten years ago on the air, and in effect I lost my speaking voice. For me, I didn't appreciate those talents until they were gone. So you bet, when they came back I was like, "Oooh, I am so grateful for that." So, maybe while you are missing the receiver, maybe while you are not getting the grades that you want this quarter, just know that you have so much to be grateful for. You're not getting those grades, but it's not because you're not intelligent. You're intelligent; something's just missing the mark. But it shouldn't change your perception of your own talent. That does not change. That is a constant.

AZUZ: All right, I'm going to out you here. Robin Meade is not perfect.

MEADE: Not perfect at all.

AZUZ: Despite what some of you all may believe. You talked about how you had pneumonia as a child up until you were five years old, some of the struggles that you had along the way. And you write that "it's dangerous for young people to assume that everyone else's accomplishments came easily." Can you talk about some of the struggles you had on the way to hosting "Morning Express"?

MEADE: One of the points in writing this book was I wanted it to be a road map for people, for young people as well, who maybe have some self-esteem issues. I wanted to give you a short-cut, maybe a little pointer about confidence boosters. But I do think it's dangerous for people to look at people in the spotlight like myself or a football player or even if it's your local accountant. To look at them and go, "Hmmm, that must have been easy; I on the other hand have problems, so I'll never be successful like that." That's not true. All of us have some hurdle that we have to overcome. So, maybe you're experiencing something right now. It doesn't mean that you can not be successful in the future. You are a success right now. You just have to figure out how to channel everything that's going on in your life.



AZUZ: Great advice. Believe it or not, CNN Student News has been around for 20 years! No, I have not been with the show that long. But it is a good time for us to celebrate, so we are! Check out our special anniversary show this Friday! It'll take a look at some of the biggest stories from the past two decades. We hope you'll join us to mark the occasion.

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, a story about science on a budget. So, let's say you're a college student who wants to takes pictures from space? No problem, at least for these guys from MIT. Earlier this month, they launched a weather balloon, along with a camera, cell phone, drink cooler and hand warmers 17 miles up. All to snap some shots of the Earth. It worked! Better yet, the whole thing cost less than $150!



AZUZ: That's impressive, because since sometimes, the price of projects like these can really balloon out of control. We'll pop back in tomorrow for more CNN Student News. I'm Carl Azuz, hope to see you then.

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