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CNN Student News Transcript: October 20, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Learn about the different enemies facing coalition forces in Afghanistan
  • Find out why social networking sites are popular among cyber thieves
  • Consider some of the challenges involving school buses around the U.S.
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(CNN Student News) -- October 20, 2009

Quick Guide

Afghanistan Elections - Learn about the different enemies facing coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Cyber Crime Concerns - Find out why social networking sites are popular among cyber thieves.

School Bus Safety - Consider some of the challenges involving school buses around the U.S.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Social networking sites are offering new opportunities to criminals. We're gonna explain what you should watch out for. I'm Carl Azuz, and you're tuned in to CNN Student News!

First Up: Afghanistan Elections

AZUZ: If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, then a runoff election will be held. That is what it says in Afghanistan's constitution, and that's why the country could be looking at the runoff scenario. Unofficial results from August's election showed that the current President Hamid Karzai with 54 percent of the vote. But the Afghan Electoral Complaints Commission threw out ballots because of fraud. And when an independent group checked the final tally, it found that President Karzai only had 48 percent of the vote. The only group that can order a runoff: the Independent Election Commission. There was no immediate reaction from them yesterday.

The situation isn't just affecting Afghans. It could impact U.S. troops, as well. President Obama is reviewing a military request to send 40,000 additional forces to Afghanistan. But on Sunday, a White House official said it would be "reckless" to deploy more troops without knowing what kind of government Afghanistan's going to have. The service members who are there are battling the Taliban and the al Qaeda terrorist group. But as Atia Abawi explains, those aren't the only enemies facing U.S. forces.


ATIA ABAWI, CNN CORRESPONDENT, KABUL: Coalition forces are fighting fierce enemies in Afghanistan, facing daily attacks by different groups with differing ideologies. And contrary to popular belief, it's more than just the Taliban and al Qaeda. Captain Richard Vickery's job is to help distinguish the various groups pitted against the coalition:

CAPTAIN RICHARD VICKERY, U.S. AIR FORCE: The biggest issue that you are dealing with when you're dealing with the different insurgent groups is that they all have different motivations for wanting to fight. And that causes where we have a lot of problems with how we engage them. Are they groups that we can engage and have them cease and desist through peaceful means? Are they groups that we have to engage kinetically?

ABAWI: This map shows the greatest areas of concern. In the west of the country, the insurgent groups entail more of a criminal element, some with ties to the drug trade. In southern Afghanistan you see the traditional Taliban, a group that Mullah Omar still has some influence over. The groups and alliances become more complicated as you move east.

In southeastern Afghanistan bordering Pakistan, the dominant militants are from the Haqqani group headed by Jalaludin Haqqani; it's an outfit more inclined than others to use suicide attacks. In the northeast, among the many groups is another major player: Gulbideen Hekmatyar, the leader of Hizbi-Islami-Gulbideen, more commonly known as HIG. And many of these groups have cross-border ties with Pakistan. They are funded mainly by elements within Persian Gulf countries.

PROFESSOR NASRULLAH STANAKZAI, UNIVERSITY OF KABUL [TRANSLATED]: These are the most dangerous fighters because they have the foreign connections with their strong ideologies and refuse to make peace with democracy, liberalism and freedom.

ABAWI: Professor Stanakzai believes that there are groups and militant fighters that can be reconciled, but many will continue to use Afghanistan as their ideological battlefield. And as long as Afghanistan remains poor and undeveloped, these groups are likely to have a strong sway over the population for some time to come. Atia Abawi, CNN, Kabul.


H1N1 Vaccine Delayed

AZUZ: Are you and your parents considering whether or not to get the H1N1 flu vaccine? You might have some more time to decide. Some deliveries of the shot are going to be delayed. Officials say that is because production of the vaccine is taking longer than they had hoped. About 40 million doses were expected to be ready by the end of this month. Now, it looks like that number will be closer to 30 million. As of yesterday, 11 and a half million doses were available. About eight million of those had been ordered.

Health Care Talks

AZUZ: And in Washington, D.C. the debate over health care reform has moved behind closed doors, at least for a while. That's where lawmakers are working to combine different versions of health care bills passed by two separate committees, into this one single bill that will be presented to the entire Senate. That could be ready by later this week.

Iran Nuclear Program

AZUZ: And U.S. officials involved in another set of talks taking place in Austria. This one is about the future of Iran's nuclear program. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who's hosting the meeting, said it got off to a good start yesterday. Participants talked about how nuclear materials made in Iran would be sent to other countries for further development and then sent back to Iran to be used in medical facilities. The hope in all of that is that the materials would only be suitable for medicine, not weapons.

Is this Legit?

TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? The state of Louisiana doesn't have counties. This one's true. Louisiana's local government districts are referred to as parishes, not counties.

Racial Controversy

AZUZ: Keith Bardwell, a judge in Louisiana's Tangipahoa Parish, has caused a national controversy after he refused to marry an interracial couple. The National Urban League calls that "a huge step backward in social justice." And the newlyweds, Beth and Terence McKay, who were married by a different judge in the parish, are fighting to have Judge Bardwell dismissed from his job. Bardwell insists he is not a racist and says he's performed marriages for black couples in his house. However, he doesn't perform interracial marriages because he believes most of them don't last, and he says he's concerned about the couples' children. Bardwell says he has no regrets about his decision, since it's "hard to apologize for something that you really and truly feel down in your heart you haven't done wrong."

Cyber Crime Concerns

AZUZ: Social networking sites let us connect with friends, but they can also potentially connect us with criminals. According to the FBI, popular sites like Facebook and Twitter are also popular among cyber thieves. Last year, the Internet Crime Complaint Center got more than 72,000 complaints about Internet fraud involving more than $260 million in losses. How does that happen? You click on what looks like an innocent link or video, or you answer an online request for money from a friend stuck somewhere overseas. Once thieves have access to your account, they can run the same scams on people who are connected to you. Some simple ways to protect yourself: Read up on sites' security policies, be careful what you click on, and change your password regularly.


MATT CHERRY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! About how many U.S. students ride the bus to school every day? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it around: A) 12 million, B) 24 million, C) 36 million or D) 48 million? You've got three seconds -- GO! Approximately 24 million students take the bus to school. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

School Bus Safety

AZUZ: By now, most of you have probably seen the effects of this global recession in your schools. There may be fewer field trips, less money for activities, fewer bus routes. We blogged about that awhile back, and some of you argued that it's dangerous to walk to school, or that you couldn't get to school without the bus. It's something a lot of us take for granted.


AZUZ: They're big. They're yellow. The sound of their engines is the last thing students want to hear when they're not ready for school. One question during National School Bus Safety week is are they safe? According to the Committee on School Transportation Safety and the National Research Council, yes, especially when compared to cars. There are 800 students killed every year going to and from school. 98 percent of those deaths involve passenger cars, bikes, motorcycles, pedestrian incidents. Only two percent involve school buses. The problem with buses is...

ROBIN LEEDS, NATIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION ASSOCIATION: We're seeing a lot of school districts cutting back on their transportation because their budgets are tight and they're looking for ways to save money.

AZUZ: So, what can be done about that?

LEEDS: If parents get up in arms and say we can't afford to let our children face the kind of risks they have to face when they don't have school buses, then the school board will make the decision that they'll keep the buses.

AZUZ: Beyond that, Robin Leeds of the National School Transportation Association suggests contacting state lawmakers, because many local school districts get budget money from state legislatures. If elected officials realize how important bus funding is to voters, they're less likely to eliminate bus routes.



AZUZ: Veterans Day is just around the corner, and we want to give you a chance to take part right here. Send us an iReport giving a shoutout to someone who's served in the Armed Forces, and you might see yourself on our show. If you want your own Shoutout, have your teacher send in an iReport with a photo of your school.

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, it's about time to go pumpkin picking. That one didn't make it. But no one in the crowd is disappointed. That's because they're all here to watch these pumpkins plummet. It's actually part of a science lesson for students in West Virginia. The whole point is to plunge the pumpkins off the roof and see just how far the guts of the gourds go when they fall.



AZUZ: Based on the reaction of the crowd, the event was a smashing success. You guys have a great day. we'll see you tomorrow, I'm Carl Azuz.

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