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STUDENT NEWS

Crisis in Syria

Aired February 8, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET

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


GROUP: We are the (Inaudible) Warriors. We are (inaudible) CNN Student News. Take it away, Carl.

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CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: That`s a great way to launch today`s show. From those students in Ohio to the CNN Newsroom here in Atlanta, Georgia, we are welcoming our viewers from around the world. This is CNN Student News.

First up, strong words from the Gulf Cooperation Council about a crisis taking place in Syria. The Gulf Cooperation Council is a group of Arab countries, and it describes the violence in Syria as a massacre against defenseless people.

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AZUZ (voice-over): There are reports that dozens of people are dying in Syria every day. Activists and other groups blame the Syrian government for launching attacks against citizens. The government says the violence is being caused by armed terrorist groups.

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AZUZ: You know, it`s hard for CNN to confirm reports from either side in this story, because the Syrian government has restricted how much access journalists have inside the country. But we did hear from an activist inside Syria, who talked about the conditions there and the world`s reaction to what`s going on.

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Let me say one word, I think that the entire world should be ashamed of what`s happening here. Everybody is just silent and looking at us being slaughtered every moment for no reason, just for asking for our freedom. No power, no fuel, it`s too cold. This is too much, for God`s sake. This is too much.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can ID me. I was formed in the 1850s. Some of my members who were elected president were William Taft, Calvin Coolidge and Teddy Roosevelt. I`m the U.S. political party whose symbol is the elephant.

I`m the Republican Party, and I`m also known as the Grand Old Party or the GOP.

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AZUZ: There are four candidates hoping to be the Republican Party`s nominee in this year`s presidential election. To do that, to be the nominee, they need to win delegates in primaries and caucuses.

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AZUZ (voice-over): Yesterday was the most recent opportunity to do that. We had caucuses in Minnesota, in Colorado, and there was a primary in Missouri. The results had not been announced when we produced this show last night.

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AZUZ: Now we`ve had several primaries and caucuses already, but yesterday was the first time there had been more one of those in the same day. And according to some political analysts, besides the delegates, momentum was the big thing at stake here.

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AZUZ (voice-over): And these are the people who are hoping to get some of that momentum. Starting from the left, we have former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, then U.S. Representative Ron Paul, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Senator Rick Santorum.

Now if you go to the "Spotlight" section on our home page, you will see a link for CNN`s Election Center. That is the place where you can get all the latest news on the race for the White House, including the full results from yesterday`s contests.

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AZUZ: Out in California there`s a legal battle over Proposition 8. Proposition 8 was a referendum that voters passed in 2008. And what it did was ban same-sex marriage. Yesterday a federal appeals court ruled that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. It said the ban singles out gays and lesbians for discrimination by denying their right to civil marriage.

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AZUZ (voice-over): The reaction, as you can probably imagine, was split. People who support same-sex marriage celebrated. People who are opposed to it said they were upset by the court`s decision. They also said they`re willing to take the issue up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

There won`t be any same-sex marriages in California right now. They`ve been halted while this legal process plays out. The appeals court judges pointed out that their decision only refers to Prop 8 in California. They say other states would have to decide the issue of marriage themselves.

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AZUZ: Having your house overrun by robots and rockets might not sound like the best thing. But that`s what President Obama asked for. He hosted the second White House science fair yesterday, honoring students who won competition in science, math, technology and engineering.

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AZUZ (voice-over): More than 100 students had the chance to show off their research and inventions. Robots in the Blue Room, rockets in the Red Room and in the State Dining Room, the extreme marshmallow cannon.

The thing works with compressed air. Looks like the president had a bit of trouble pumping enough air into the machine, but after he was able to get it filled it up, he took a turn firing marshmallows at the drapes.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today`s Shoutout goes out to Mr. De Jong`s economics and government classes at Ontario High School in Ontario, California.

Which of these snakes is a constrictor? Here we go. Is it the cobra, python, mamba or rattlesnake? You`ve got three seconds, go.

The only constrictor on the list is the python, which squeezes its prey. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.

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AZUZ: Because they`re not poisonous, a lot of people keep pythons or boa constrictors as pets. But they`re not welcome everywhere. Burmese pythons, for one thing, are huge. They`re among the largest snakes on earth. They can get up to 23 feet long. They can weigh up to 200 pounds.

The question you might be asking is what does something that big eat? The answer, you might already know, is a lot, especially based on this next report from John Zarrella. In one part of Florida, the fact that they eat so much is what is becoming the real problem.

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JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Florida`s Everglades, home to an incredible cluster of species. But some are disappearing and disappearing quickly.

LINDA FRIAR, EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK: Raccoons were such a problem that we actually had to put a policy in place to try and manage them.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): No policy needed now. Scientists believe this invader to the Everglades, the Burmese python, is responsible for nearly wiping out several species. For eight years, researchers drove back and forth over two main roads in Everglades National Park. They compared the number of dead animals they found -- road kill -- to the numbers recorded in past decades.

In areas inhabited by pythons the longest, the findings were stunning. Rabbits and foxes gone. Raccoons and opossums down 99 percent.

SKIP SNOW, NATIONAL PARK BIOLOGIST: If a bobcat is looking for something to eat, those are no longer available. What does a bobcat do now?

ZARRELLA (voice-over): And scientists worry what will the snakes eat next? Even more frightening, these non-venomous constrictor snakes may be here to stay. No way to get rid of them all.

SNOW: No example we can turn to that they`ve ever been eradicated by any of the tools and techniques we have.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): It`s a problem that has frustrated park biologist Skip Snow for years. Poison would kill native creatures, too. Traps would catch others besides pythons. And visually hunting them down across a million-plus acres, next to impossible.

ZARRELLA: Here`s one of the problems with trying to completely eradicate the python. You probably don`t even see it. It`s right here, a six-footer. Now you could walk up on this snake, and you wouldn`t even know it`s sitting there.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): There may be as many as 100,000 pythons slithering through the `Glades. The perception that they are everywhere, rangers say, is flat out wrong. But it is a perception not lost on park visitors.

SUSAN BUCK, TOURIST: And I says I don`t even know if I want to stop here, because I was afraid that there would be snakes everywhere, pythons and everything.

ZARRELLA (voice-over): It`s not great mystery how the pythons got here. People bought these exotic pets, and when they got too big, they got rid of them. No one would have guessed, just a decade ago, snakes in this river of grass might upset the balance of nature here forever -- John Zarrella, CNN, Everglades National Park.

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AZUZ (voice-over): We want you to think of cnnstudentnews.com as your home -- your home page. It`s a one-stop shop for tons of free resources. Our daily discussion questions for one. You can also find our show archives there. We have downloadable maps. It`s all free.

Plus we have links to our blogs, "From A to Z" with me, and there`s also our new "Schools of Thought" blog about all things education. Have all of them right at your fingertips. Make cnnstudentnews.com your home page. You`re going to love it.

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AZUZ: All right. Before we go, some tributes can get pretty big.

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AZUZ (voice-over): This might be the biggest -- at least physically. It`s a giant snow sculpture that`s tebowing. In fact it depicts Tebow tebowing. The term is named after Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow and the way he prays at games.

The sculptor said he moved about 10 tons of snow to build this tribute. Of course, some people say if he wanted to be really ambitious, he could have made 10 more players and had them run an offensive play. They`d probably be able to pull off a great shovel pass --

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AZUZ: -- but we guess those other snow sculptures just got left out in the cold. It`s time for us to take a hike, but we hope you will take the option to join us back here tomorrow for more CNN Student News. We`ll see y`all later.

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