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STUDENT NEWS

Afghanistan and NATO Troops; Green Factories

Aired November 17, 2011 - 04:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MIRANDA: I`m Miranda and this is my cat, Trouble. And welcome to CNN Student News.

CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Thanks to Miranda and Trouble for today`s iReport introduction. I`m Carl Azuz. Today CNN Student News is reporting on Syria, storms, sugar and a super committee. First up, we`re heading to Afghanistan.

There are more than 100,000 NATO troops in that country. Most of those are American troops. And most of them are scheduled to leave by the end of 2014. Afghanistan`s president, Hamid Karzai, says that`s a good thing. During a speech to tribal elders on Wednesday, Karzai complained about NATO.

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AZUZ (voice-over): He also tried to set some limits on what NATO troops can and can`t do in his country.

For example, Karzai thinks it`s a good idea for U.S. forces to have bases in Afghanistan, but he doesn`t want Americans to search houses or to arrest Afghans.

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AZUZ: NATO is trying to include the Afghan military in more of its operations, and as Nick Paton Walsh reports, more areas are being turned over to Afghan control.

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NICK PATON WALSH, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Slowly, NATO`s transferring the security of Afghanistan over to Afghans. The next regions to be handed over will soon be announced by President Hamid Karzai. It may, NATO and Afghan officials have told CNN, include two of what have been historically the most violent parts of the country`s south.

First, in Helmand, there`s the district of Nad-e-Ali, where many British troops have died over the years, but also in Kandahar, the Arghandab Valley, recently a hotbed of insurgent violence, where many Americans have also died.

Now an Afghan official in Arghandab tells us security is a lot better. But that`s because the Americans are there in force. If they leave, he tells us, things may get worse -- and fast. But the logic of this, some say, is to have Afghans face their toughest work while NATO still has enough troops to help.

HAROUN MIR, POLITICAL ANALYST: It is good while we have a significant NATO presence in Afghanistan to start with toughest parts in Afghanistan, and that will provide the opportunity for the Afghan security forces to defend themselves; in the meantime, have the support of NATO.

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AZUZ: Next up, the Middle Eastern nation of Syria, it`s been suspended by the Arab League. France has removed its ambassador from Syria. Turkey is threatening to cut off power supplies. All of this is because of Syria`s violent crackdown on people who are protesting against the Syrian government.

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AZUZ (voice-over): The Arab League voted to suspend Syria over the weekend. Officials from the group said this was because Syria`s president, Bashar al-Assad, didn`t keep his promises to pull troops out of some areas and give journalists access inside of Syria.

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AZUZ: There are also reports about a group of fighters that deserted the Syrian military. They call themselves the Free Syrian Army, and they claim to have attacked an important government security compound this week.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just the facts: Congress` so-called super committee was created in July as part of a deal to raise the U.S. government`s debt ceiling. The committee`s goal is to come up with a plan to reduce the country`s deficit. There are 12 members on the committee, six Republicans and six Democrats. And the committee is split evenly between U.S. representatives and senators.

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AZUZ: The clock is winding down for those 12 super committee members. They have until next Wednesday to come up with a plan that would save the U.S. government more than a trillion dollars over the next 10 years.

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AZUZ (voice-over): The committee has been working since September. It`s considered increasing taxes to raise money, lowering taxes for different groups of Americans, finding ways to cut government spending.

Whatever recommend the committee comes up with, Congress has until December 23rd to vote on it, and no one can change the recommendation by the committee, or try to block the vote. Them`s the rules. If the super committee can`t come up with a plan by November 23rd, or if Congress can`t pass it by December 23rd, automatic spending cuts go into effect, including cuts to the U.S. Defense Department.

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AZUZ: So there`s a lot at stake here and not a lot of optimism. According to a CNN ORC International poll that came out yesterday, 78 percent of the people who were asked think it`s either somewhat or very unlikely that this super committee is going to meet next week`s deadline.

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AZUZ (voice-over): As you can see from these pictures, parts of the southern U.S. have some cleaning up to do, after severe weather swept across the region yesterday. There were suspected tornadoes as part of the storms. They stretched from Louisiana through Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

Parts of a few other states were under a tornado watch as well. At least one person was killed. Several others were injured. And there was major damage to some homes and buildings. The strong winds and possible tornado knocked down trees and left more than a thousand people without power.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s Shoutout goes out to Ms. Schwickardt`s 7th grade students at West End Middle School in Nashville, Tennessee. Which of these sports leagues was the last to cancel an entire season because of a labor dispute? You know what to do. Was it the MLB, NBA, NFL or NHL? Three second on the clock: go.

A lockout canceled the National Hockey League`s entire 2004-2005 season. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.

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AZUZ: That`s the only time that a U.S. pro sports league has lost an entire season because of a labor dispute -- so far. The chance of a second lost season is getting greater as the NBA lockout gets longer.

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AZUZ (voice-over): The players and owners have been negotiating how to divide up the money made by the league. They can`t reach an agreement. Earlier this week, the players rejected the latest offer from the owners and the players` union has disbanded so it can file a lawsuit against the league.

All games through December 15th now have been canceled and NBA Commissioner David Stern says the entire season could be in jeopardy.

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AZUZ: Next month, South Africa is hosting the United Nations Convention on Climate Change. It`s all about finding ways to be environmentally friendly. The country is already home to factories that practice conservation. They`re designed to process sugar, but Nkepile Mabuse looks at how part of that production is providing a powerful byproduct.

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NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Under the blazing Durban sun, these canes sway to the rhythms of their work: converting sunlight into sugar. This plant is one of nature`s most efficient photosynthesizers, producing the component (ph) sucrose that brings sweetness to our lives.

Yet besides giving us energy through their juices, these canes have other previously undiscovered ways of putting power back into our lives.

This sugar mill (ph) is just one of 11 Illovo factories in operation across Africa. Together, they create around 2 million tons of sugar every year, making it the continent`s largest producer of one of the world`s most valued commodities.

Energy is required, not only for the crushing and extracting but for the heating of the juice to produce syrup and sugar crystals. Now the stems, once seen as waste, can be used to power the process.

DAVE HOWELLS, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ILLOVO SUGAR: Once we squeeze the sucrose, which is the juice, from the sugar -- from the stick of sugar cane, that fiber, we -- which we lift with is called bagasse. That bagasse is used in our process to create electricity and create steam.

MABUSE (voice-over): Bagasse is burnt to heat water that generates the steam needed to power the electricity-producing turbines. Every hour, nine megawatts are generated, enough to maintain 90 percent of all the factory`s operations.

JOHAN VAN RENSBURG, FACTORY MANAGER, SEZELA: The cost of energy and electricity is becoming so expensive that electricity become more profitable than sugar. So that`s why sugar will end up being the byproduct.

MABUSE (voice-over): Currently, the plant has prevented 40,000 tons of carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere. As the winds of change blow through South Africa, it could be that the humble sugar cane will one day be pepping up the country`s power as well as the people`s palates.

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AZUZ: Well, before we go today, having an office with a window can be a little distracting.

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AZUZ (voice-over): But with a view like this, maybe not so bad. These pictures were taken from the international space station as it made its way in orbit around the earth. The green glow that you see at the top of your screen there is the aurora borealis. It`s also called the northern lights. They can be seen from Earth, but only in certain spots. So when someone gets to view them from this spectacular angle.

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AZUZ: . it`s enough to make the rest of us green with envy. Hopefully, our puns don`t make you green with sickness. Either way, it`s going to wrap things up for us today. For CNN Student News, I`m Carl Azuz. We will see you back here tomorrow, because Friday`s are awesome.

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