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CNN Student News Transcript: November 19, 2009

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CNN Student News - 11/19/2009
  • Health Care Issues
  • Afghanistan
  • Iran
  • Terrorism
  • Robert Byrd
  • Pirates
  • Kenya

(CNN Student News) -- November 19, 2009

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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: One ship, two pirate attacks, different outcome this time around. You'll see it in today's show! I'm Carl Azuz. CNN Student News starts right now!

First Up: Senate Health Care Plan

AZUZ: First up, the Senate has come up with its plan to reform the U.S. health care system. The proposed bill, released last night. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says it would give health insurance to 30 million more Americans and would cost an estimated $849 billion over the next 10 years. Some senators now opposed to the bill are concerned about what it covers and how much it costs. Republicans have threatened to try and block the legislation from being passed. Debate on it could start as soon as Saturday.

Afghan Inauguration

AZUZ: Hamid Karzai is scheduled to be sworn in today for his second term as the president of Afghanistan. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says this is a "critical moment" for that country, because it's a chance for Karzai to show what kind of government he'll lead. Clinton is visiting Afghanistan right now. She's scheduled to meet with Karzai while she's there. The Afghan president, under pressure to clean up corruption in his government, and Secretary Clinton is expected to talk with him about some guidelines that Afghanistan will have to meet in order to continue getting aid from the U.S. Clinton says that America wants to be partners with Afghanistan and with the Afghan people, and that is why President Obama has been reviewing the U.S. approach to the country.

Nuclear Fears

AZUZ: No deal! That's what Iran seems to be saying about sending some of its nuclear materials to other countries. This plan was worked out at a meeting last month. Iran would send raw nuclear materials to other nations who would make it into nuclear fuel, and then that would go back to Iran to be used in medical facilities. But now, instead of sending out materials and getting them back later as fuel, one Iranian official is saying the country will only swap raw materials for already processed fuel, and the trade would have to happen in Iran. All this is part of the ongoing tension over the Middle Eastern nation's nuclear program. Iran says it's only being used for peaceful reasons. But other countries believe Iran may be trying to build nuclear weapons.

Terror Trial Debate

AZUZ: Well, there has been a lot of back-and-forth about the Obama Administration's decision to try a group of suspected 9/11 terrorists in a civilian court in New York City. A lot of people spoke out about this on our blog and in Congress, where Attorney General Eric Holder, who made the decision, talked about it yesterday. Samantha Hayes has our report on that.


SAMANTHA HAYES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a move that's sparked a raging debate.

ALICE HOAGLAND, MOTHER OF 9/11 VICTIM: I think I can speak for many 9/11 families when I say that we are heartsick.

HAYES: On Capitol Hill Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder defended his decision to try five suspected 9/11 terrorists -- including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed -- in a civilian court, not a military tribunal.

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: It was a decision that was case-driven. It's a decision based on the evidence that I know, that frankly, some of the people who have criticized the decision do not have access to.

HAYES: Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee led the intense criticism of Holder's decision.

SENATOR JON KYL, (R) ARIZONA: How could you be more likely to get a conviction in federal court when Khalid Sheik Mohammed has already asked to plead guilty before a military commission and be executed?

HAYES: But Democrats who support the move expressed confidence in the court system and the ability of the city of New York to handle the trials, even though it was the epicenter of the 9/11 attacks.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D) CALIFORNIA: I happen to believe that New York City is able to handle this in a very professional and definitively legal manner.

HAYES: And Holder said it in no way undermines the administration's commitment to fighting terror.

HOLDER: We are at war, and we will use every instrument of national power -- civilian, military, law enforcement, intelligence, diplomatic and others -- to win.

HAYES: Holder also told the panel that he is not concerned that a federal court could find the suspected terrorists not guilty. He said he has told prosecutors that these are cases that must be won. For CNN Student News, I'm Samantha Hayes.



MICHELLE WRIGHT, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mr. VandenHeuval's social studies classes at Dos Rios Elementary School in Tolleson, Arizona! Who is the longest-serving member in the history of the U.S. Congress? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Robert Byrd, B) Strom Thurmond, C) Harry Reid or D) Ted Stevens? You've got three seconds -- GO! Today is Senator Robert Byrd's 20,775th day serving in Congress. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Congressional History

AZUZ: Six years in the House of Representatives; elected to the U.S. Senate nine terms -- only person ever to do that -- it makes Sen. Byrd's total time representing residents of West Virginia 51 years so far. Plus, he's turning 92 tomorrow. As he became the longest-serving member of Congress yesterday, Byrd's years of service were praised by Democrats and Republicans. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell talked about Sen. Byrd's love for both the country and the Congress. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid predicted that many of Byrd's records will never be broken.

Somalia Pirates

AZUZ: Deja vu in waters off the coast of the African nation of Somalia, when pirates tried to hijack a ship called the Maersk Alabama. If that sounds familiar to you, it's because that was the same ship that was hijacked back in April. A Navy operation rescued the crew members in that incident. And yesterday, a private security team on board the Maersk kept the attempted hijackers from taking over. When we talk about pirates, we don't mean "of the Caribbean." These are very dangerous people with guns; they hold ships for ransom; they're very active in this part of the world.

Is this Legit?

MATT CHERRY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? The African elephant is the largest animal on land. This one's true. These animals can grow to be 9 tons; that's 18,000 pounds!

Elephant Orphanage

AZUZ: Okay -- that's the full-grown version, but even the babies are huge! African elephants can still weigh around 220 pounds at birth! But big doesn't necessarily mean safe. They're losing their habitat; they're being hunted by poachers: Baby elephants can face a lot of threats in the wild, and not having a mother around doesn't make it any easier. David McKenzie examines a program in Kenya that's trying to help orphaned elephants.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They grow up to be one of Africa's giants, but like all creatures, they start off pretty small. Dwarfed by their keepers, each orphaned elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has a tragic tale. This is Sala. She's 6 weeks old. They say her mother died because of starvation in the Kenyan drought. The person who found her gave her cow's milk, which is extremely harmful to elephants because of the fat. Sala wandered into a tourist camp in Kenya's Sala National Park, alone and confused. The orphanage scrambled a plane to rescue her.

Carefully strapped in and traumatized, they evacuated Sala to Nairobi. For weeks, she was too sick to stand. Three days ago, she started walking again. If she makes it, she won't be alone. Drought, poaching and shrinking habitats have decimated elephant herds across East Africa. And the orphanage is fuller than it's been in 30 years. Still, Dame Daphne Sheldrick will take more.

DAME DAPHNE SHELDRICK, DAVID SHELDRICK WILDLIFE TRUST: Whatever comes in, we have to make space.

MCKENZIE: It takes years to rehabilitate and reintroduce the orphans into the wild. For the keepers, it's not just a 9 to 5 job.

EDWIN LUSICHI, CHIEF KEEPER: But after working with these elephants, it's no longer just a job. It is from inside your heart, the love that you have for these animals.

MCKENZIE: Every three hours, day and night, the keepers mix fortified soy milk for the elephants. It costs $900 a month to care for each orphan, so the elephants have to earn their keep. With a slap of sunscreen to protect their sensitive skin, the babies go on parade. They slush and slide for the throngs of tourists who see the fun, but not the heartbreak.

MCKENZIE: So, they hope to lead these infants through their most fragile stage. It could take years before Sala joins a family of wild elephants. In the care of her human family, she might just make it. David McKenzie, CNN, Nairobi, Kenya.


Impact Your World

AZUZ: Helping elephant orphans, providing aid to victims of natural disasters, finding ways to clean up the environment: There are a lot of ways to impact your world. Head to and check out the resources to find out how you can make a difference.

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, it's crazy what you'll find on the side of the road. Like a turkey, for example. Actually, this fearless fowl's walking right through the middle of traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike. Highway workers say Tammy -- Tammy the Turkey -- has been hanging out for about a year. Why did the turkey cross the turnpike? Who knows -- it's a turkey. But she does get a lot of looks from people driving by, and she seems to enjoy it!


AZUZ: In fact, you could say Tammy's gobbling up all the attention. That's where today's show hits the road. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.