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STUDENT NEWS

The Crisis in Syria

Aired February 15, 2012 - 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 middle of the week, the middle of the month, the start of a brand new edition of CNN Student News. Hello, everyone. I`m Carl Azuz. We welcome you to this February 15th edition of our show, in which we are bringing you 10 minutes of completely commercial-free headlines.

First up today, the crisis in Syria. You`ve heard us talk about it. This has been going on for months, and it`s showing no signs of stopping. In the past 10 days, more than 700 people have reportedly been killed. CNN`s Arwa Damon, one of our reporters, was inside Syria. She said that everybody she spoke to believed the country was either heading for or already in a full-blown war.

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AZUZ (voice-over): Opposition groups blame this violence on Syria`s government, which has reportedly launched attacks against its own people. The government says the violence is being caused by armed terrorists. And CNN is finding some evidence of that. Barbara Starr reports that the U.S. government is keeping a close watch on what`s happening.

Barbara STARR, CNN Pentagon REPORTER (voice-over): All eyes and ears on Syria. CNN has learned that spying on Bashar al-Assad`s moves in the brutal war against his own people is now a top priority for U.S. intelligence and the military.

The State Department released these images, showing Syrian artillery guns outside a town. American officials tell CNN, classified higher- resolution images show military targets being tracked in case U.S. action is ordered.

The U.S. is looking to involve more satellites, drones and U-2 spy planes. Sources tell CNN that the U.S. is already secretly eavesdropping on telephone and electronic communications of Assad`s regime. It comes as a United Nations official accused Syria of crimes against humanity.

NAVI PILLAY, U.N. HIGH COMMISSION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: Children have not been spared. Children have been killed by beating, sniper fire and shelling from government security forces in several places throughout Syria.

STARR (voice-over): Assad`s government is not the only focus. U.S. intelligence has picked up on cell phone communications of known al Qaeda operatives inside Syria. After several suicide bombings, including this police station in Aleppo, there are growing indicators a small group of al Qaeda operatives from next door Iraq are now inside Syria.

SETH JONES, RAND CORPORATION: What`s already been clear is that al Qaeda in Iraq, in particular, has pushed in operational and tactical-level units into Syria right now and appears to have conducted some of the high- profile bombings.

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AZUZ: Back in 1985, Xi Jinping spent two weeks in Iowa. He was a Chinese regional official, and he was in Iowa to learn more about American farming. Well, Xi is scheduled to be back in Iowa today, but he`s not a Chinese regional official any more. He`s China`s vice president, and he`s expected to become president soon.

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AZUZ (voice-over): The stop in Iowa is part of Vice President Xi`s five-day trip to the United States, Yesterday, he was at the White House, meeting with President Obama. The U.S. and China have the world`s two largest economies, so global trade issues were a big part of their conversation.

Vice President Xi said the main goal of his visit is to strengthen ties between the two countries. Eunice Yoon looks at how that relationship has played out.

EUNICE YOON, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): You could say China and the U.S. are, in some ways, like an old married couple, permanently hitched. Over the past three decades, the two countries have depended on each other.

China relies on the U.S. to set up factories and create jobs, while the U.S. imports low-priced goods for American consumers, and needs China to invest in its massive pool of government debt.

But just like other long-time relationships, Beijing and Washington have their marital spats. The two nations have quarreled over everything, from trade, China`s currency and human rights. And with China growing in power, tempers are flaring over other global issues, like the U.S.`s growing security presence in the South China Sea.

Many of these issues will likely still be on the agenda later this year, when Xi is expected to take office as the next president of China.

YOON: Chinese officials say that Washington and Beijing suffer from a trust deficit. They hope that Xi`s visit will help bridge the divide.

YOON (voice-over): During Xi`s trip, both sides are getting a fresh view of their partner, and a chance to reset the tone of an ever-evolving affair.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s Shoutout goes out to Ms. Gallery`s world geography classes at Dreher High School in Columbia, South Carolina. What does this symbol stand for? You know what to do. It is biohazard, wildlife protection, recycling or medicine? You`ve got three seconds, go.

This graphic with three arrows is the international symbol for recycling. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.

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AZUZ: According to government estimates, Americans produced about 250 million tons of garbage in 2010. Now, of course, recycling can help cut down on the amount of trash we produce. But that`s not enough for one Colorado city. Officials there don`t just want to decrease the amount of trash, they want to do away with it entirely. Reynolds Wolf shows us how businesses are sorting it all out.

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REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Steamboat Springs, Colorado, home of amazing views, snow-capped peaks, stunning treelines and mountains of -- garbage?

Believe it or not, the connection between these snowy heights, this mound of trash and these overflowing lunch trays are closer than you might think. You see, about three years ago, Steamboat Springs set an ambitious goal. They wanted to eliminate all garbage. They`d recycle or reuse everything. The goal: to be 100 percent waste-free by 2014.

Here`s how it works. Restaurants and town events should use only recycled products. That means that cups, plates and eating utensils have to be compostable or made from recycled goods. Even trash cans are sealed, so customers can`t throw anything away. They have people who do it for you.

WOLF: When a tray comes up to your station, what`s your job? What are you doing?

CHRIS JIGGENS, STEAMBOAT TRASH ATTENDANT: We take a soda bottle out. We take any plastic wrappers out, and the plastic wrappers go in the garbage. The soda goes in recycling. Anything left, food or the bioplastic that`s left, we put in our compost bin.

WOLF (voice-over): Yep. These guys sort through Steamboat`s trash, making sure the right items get to the right places.

WOLF: And to show us how it`s done, we`ve got Jesse Rights (ph) with us. Jesse, I`ve got this plate that came up. It is a full one. Oh, wow. OK, how do I get started? You tell me what to do with this.

JESSE RAIKES, STEAMBOAT TRASH ATTENDANT: Yes, this is quite a typical plate right here. This is what you`d see on a normal basis.

First, we`re going to start with the trash. So we can`t recycle anything like this.

WOLF: All right.

RAIKES: Tinfoil wrappers -- so we`re going to take these and we`re going to go straight to the waste with that. (Inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

WOLF: What about these guys, the paper?

RAIKES: This is completely compostable --

WOLF: So that goes in --

RAIKES: -- follow me. We`re going to go in the compost bin right here.

WOLF: And what about this stuff, like plastic?

RAIKES: This is actually compostable, too, as well.

WOLF (voice-over): At the end of the day, all those leftovers come here, the Twin Enviro Composting Facility, just outside of town, where trash disintegrates into dirt. Every year, they turn more than 175 tons of food scraps and other compostable waste into 400 tons of fertile soil, which goes right back to the mountains of Steamboat Springs.

WOLF: Jesse, when you look at all this stuff, I mean, some people would see it and just say, all this goes in the trash, but a little different when you look at it, huh?

RAIKES: You know, when I look at it, I see a big garden of dirt right here. And we can use that. We can bring it in. We can make a, you know, a ramp for our wintertime festivities, or we can get a biking trail started with this.

WOLF: This is, one day, possibly plant food --

RAIKES: Exactly.

WOLF: Unreal.

RAIKES: That`s a playground right there.

WOLF (voice-over): Steamboat already cut its waste by at least 70 percent. They think that with a little guidance any city in any country could do just as well.

JIGGENS: People are on vacation, so they`re -- you know, they`re here for fun. And then when they see something like that, and it interests them, they can bring it home to where they`re at. I think any bit helps. And if Steamboat brings that to the nation and the world, then that`s a good thing.

WOLF (voice-over): Reynolds Wolf, CNN, Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

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AZUZ: You fans of our puns are going to love this next story. Those of you who don`t like them are just going to have to suffer through it.

Before we go, we`re going to check out some barnyard harmonizing.

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AZUZ (voice-over): A donkey singing, and that might be the best you can hope for when your duet partner is a donkey.

The woman who posted this video on YouTube said she just wanted to play some music for the animals on her farm. The donkey wasn`t content to be in the audience, though. He wanted to be in on the act.

Might not have had perfect pitch --

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AZUZ: -- but if you`re going to sing in the wrong key, try not to "B flat." We`d say the donkey and his fiddle-playing partner killed it on that song, but we don`t want to promote "violins." Maybe he should recruit some of his farmyard friends for the next "corral" concert.

We definitely take note of that and be sure to tune in. The puns are coming at a fever pitch. We`d go for more, but we`re going to hold "fermata" solid seven. That last one was for you band members. Hope you got it. Enjoy the rest of your day. For CNN Student News, I`m Carl Azuz.

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