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STUDENT NEWS

Tensions Among Afghanistan, Pakistan, United States

Aired November 30, 2011 - 04:00:00   ET

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


CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: It`s the end of November, the start of a new day of CNN Student News. Hello, I`m Carl Azuz. First up today, we`re looking at the tension between three countries.

And those are Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States. They`re connected by the war on terror, but that`s also what`s causing this tension between them.

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AZUZ (voice-over): There have been accusations for months. Pakistan says Afghanistan is allowing militant fighters to live there. Afghanistan says Pakistan is supporting terrorists who launch attacks against Afghan forces. One official said the two countries could end up in a military conflict.

The relationship between Pakistan and the United States is pretty rough right now, too. The country`s have fought together against Al Qaida, but the head of the terrorist group, Osama bin Laden, was found inside Pakistan, and Pakistan is still angry about the U.S. raid inside its borders to kill bin Laden.

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AZUZ: Pakistan`s also upset about a NATO airstrike last week that killed two dozen Pakistani troops. U.S. commanders are investigating what happened. Pakistan responded by boycotting a conference on the future of Afghanistan. Other officials said that decision would hurt efforts to try to create stability in this region.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the word? It`s a financial term that describes a business that can`t pay its debts.

Bankrupt: that`s the word.

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AZUZ: Well, now that word can be used to describe American Airlines. It filed for bankruptcy yesterday. Doesn`t mean the company`s going out of business. Certain kinds of bankruptcy let companies reorganize, and that`s what American Airlines is planning to do.

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AZUZ (voice-over): During that time, the airline says it`ll honor all of its tickets and reservations, and it plans to run a normal flight schedule. So if you have a trip booked on American Airlines, you shouldn`t be affected.

American was one of the last major U.S. airlines that actually hadn`t filed for bankrupt. But company officials said they weren`t able to compete with other airlines that can spend less money because they`ve already gone through bankrupt reorganizations.

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AZUZ: Congress has a busy few weeks ahead as the year winds down. This week, lawmakers are considering whether or not to extend a couple things.

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AZUZ (voice-over): First, a payroll tax cut. Less money has been taken out of American workers` paychecks, which means more money in their pockets. If Congress doesn`t extend it, it would be like raising taxes. But the extension would cost around $115 billion, and that money would have to come from somewhere.

Congress is also considering an extension of long-term unemployment benefits. They`re set to run out for more than 2 million Americans at the start of 2012. The federal government has been helping pay to keep them going, but the price tag for extending those is around $55 billion.

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AZUZ: Well, there`s a new study out about head injuries in sports. You might be thinking football. This one is about soccer. It was just a small study, just 39 players, so the results will need to be seen in other players before they can be considered conclusive.

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AZUZ (voice-over): The research says players who hit the ball with their heads too much could cause damage to their brains. The study looked at how water molecules move through the white matter in the players` brains. In healthy brains, there`s a solid pattern. In injured brains, the molecules move more randomly.

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AZUZ: So how many headers is too many? Well, the study says if you take more than around 1,300 headers per year, that`s when you could be causing some damage.

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AZUZ (voice-over): The effect is similar to head injuries in football. You can see it on this animation. When the head is hit, the brain swells up. In the soccer study, scientists said the damage seemed to be connected with memory problems, and how quickly players` brains could process information.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta says the sport isn`t what matters here. The big issue is how the brain is affected.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Keep in mind, a lot of the focus has been on football specifically, and we`ve done a lot of reporting on this. But the thing to keep in mind is when you think of the brain, it`s the brain movement within the skull that`s the bigger issue, even more so really than the brute force sort of these impacts. So it`s how the brain reacts to the -- to the force.

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AZUZ: We want you to send us your iReport. You could do it on practically any digital video camera. We did this on a phone. Tell us in 20 seconds or less what you`re looking forward to in 2012. It could be graduation, getting a driver`s license, or voting.

The only thing is, you`ve got to be at least 13 years old and we only want to hear you talking, so no music or anything like that. The deadline for this is Thursday, December 8th. Send us your iReports in the "Spotlight" section at cnnstudentnews.com.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s Shoutout goes out to Ms. Bracknell`s freshman seminar classes at National Academy Foundation High School in Baltimore, Maryland.

Which planet is named after the Roman god of war? You know what to do. Is it Mercury, Mars, Jupiter or Neptune? You`ve got three seconds, go.

Mars, the Red Planet, is named after the Roman god of war. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.

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AZUZ (voice-over): And that`s where NASA is heading right now. The spacecraft got a boost from this rocket launch on Saturday. It`s heading to the Red Planet, and should get there around August of next year. It`s a 354 million-mile trip. But the spacecraft isn`t the important part of this mission.

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AZUZ: That would be what`s on board, a rover that will work its way around the surface of Mars for one Martian year -- that`s 687 days here on Earth. The project has a price tag. It costs around $21/2 billion. T he payoff could be an answer to an age-old question. John Zarrella fills us in on that.

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JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Mars: does life exist there? Did it ever? NASA is poised to take its boldest step towards answering questions that could change forever our view of humanity`s place in the universe.

ASHWIN VASAVADA, DEPUTY PROJECT MANAGER: I think the best way of saying why we`re so excited about this mission is that it sets us up for the future of finally answering that, you know, really age-old question of does life exist on other planets?

ZARRELLA (voice-over): The mission is called the Mars Science Laboratory, or MSL. The most sophisticated vehicle ever sent to Mars, it has the capability to detect signs of life.

If it works, come next August, after traveling 350 million miles, a 2,000-pound, six-wheel rover called Curiosity will arrive at the Red Planet. Using a tether system never tried before, it will be lowered down to a place called the Gale Crater. The size of a small car, Curiosity is the Cadillac of rovers.

JESSICA SAMUELS, SURFACE SYSTEMS ENGINEER: We`re choosing to make the rovers bigger and bigger because we want to cover more ground. We want to be able to put an arm out and drill a rock.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Drill a rock? Why?

ROB MANNING, MSL CHIEF ENGINEER: On Mars, if you -- if life exists as single cell organisms, or if it ever existed, we believe it will be under the ground or inside rocks.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Inside Gale Crater sits what scientists believe is a layered mountain, in essence, the history of Mars told in the layers. And if water ever flowed on Mars, it might have been in that crater. Curiosity`s arm will collect samples and place them in its onboard laboratory with the ability to detect organic material.

VASAVADA: Now if we discover organic materials on Mars, that -- then it gets very exciting. You know, the chances of it may be low, but the payoff is huge. Organic materials are required for life as we know it.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): But it won`t mean life exists, just the building blocks.

MANNING: If you go to the driest desert on Earth, can you find life on your -- on your samples if you do a year of robotic study? Probably not. It`s actually quite difficult. Life has to stick up and make itself seen.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Finding life itself would be left to the next wave of explorers, robotic and perhaps even human -- John Zarrella, CNN, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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AZUZ: Well, before we go, if you`ve ever wondered how astronauts entertain themselves in space, here`s one idea.

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AZUZ (voice-over): This guy enjoys playing baseball -- by himself. First, the pitch in slow motion -- zero gravity helps here. Then he pushes his way down to the other end of the module so he can grab a bat and switch from pitcher to hitter. It`s kind of impressive, but he`s just getting warmed up.

Of course, he`s going to make contact. Bam! Right there, but he knew what pitch was coming. Then it`s back to defense as he springs into the air and makes a diving catch. The Japanese astronaut made this YouTube video during his time on the international space station. Sure, he can handle a pop fly.

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AZUZ: . but I don`t think he got too much practice with ground balls. We "batted" around a few pun possibilities before coming up with that . You would have "balked" at the others. Still, three puns in 10 seconds? It`s more than a bargain, it`s a "steal." For CNN Student News, I`m Carl Azuz.

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