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STUDENT NEWS

Violence in Syria

Aired February 17, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET

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


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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, Carl. We are the English class from China.

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CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: An introduction all the way from China, that is awesome. We thank you all for sending that in. We thank all of our audience for spending part of your Friday with CNN Student News.

Twelve months -- that`s how long this political revolt and violence have been going on in the Middle Eastern nation of Syria. Other countries have spoken out against Syria`s government for reportedly attacking civilians.

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AZUZ (voice-over): Yesterday, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution that calls for an immediate end to the violence. It`s the strongest statement that the U.N. has made on the crisis in Syria. But the resolution isn`t binding. It doesn`t force Syria to do anything.

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AZUZ: A lot of the violence has been reported in cities like Homs and Dura (ph) those are in the southern part of the country. Ivan Watson`s team were in the northern part of Syria. He filed this report on the situation there.

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IVAN WATSON, CNN REPORTER: What is striking is at one point we saw a skyline of the largest city in the area, Idlib. And there you could see a Syrian government flag prominently flying in the heart of the city, and less than a kilometer away, a Syrian opposition flag of green, black and white, also flying in the heart of the city.

WATSON (voice-over): It`s very clear that government and opposition control, sometimes what`s dividing these forces is sometimes just kilometers.

And there have been cases, we have been told, within the last 24 hours, of deadly artillery assaults hitting opposition-held villages and killing at least two residents of that village. The inhabitants here, they are enjoying what they say is self-rule. They are calling these pockets of liberated Syria.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today`s first Shoutout goes out to Ms. Dearinger`s photojournalism and broadcast journalism students at Legacy High School, in Mansfield, Texas.

Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac are all brands from what car company? You know what to do. Is it Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota? You`ve got three seconds, go.

Those brands are all made by General Motors. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.

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AZUZ: General Motors is celebrating some good company news this week. It announced that in 2011, it made its biggest annual profit in GM`s history, $7.6 billion. It was two years ago that General Motors declared bankruptcy and needed a bailout from the U.S. government.

But that`s actually why this profit news is kind of mixed.

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AZUZ (voice-over): When GM declared bankruptcy, it let the company make some significant changes. It closed plants. It closed dealerships and it got rid of some brands. That restructuring helped the company be more profitable. But it`s not because of how many vehicles GM is selling. Sales levels in 2011 were lower than they were before the recession.

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AZUZ: Well, no matter what you drive, the federal government wants carmakers to limit what you can do using the car`s electronics. On some vehicles, drivers can tweet. They can use navigation or Facebook.

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AZUZ (voice-over): Well, the Department of Transportation is recommending that a lot of that stuff be shut off to drivers while the car`s in motion, or at least limited in how much they can spend using it. The reason? Wrecks. In 2010, more than 3,000 people in America died in crashes blamed on distracted driving.

Down the road, the government may recommend electronic limits on any devices brought into the car, like smartphones or tablet computers. But for now, it`s only for devices already installed in cars. And these are voluntary recommendations for carmakers, not laws they`re required for follow.

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AZUZ: We`re going to try to fold in one more automotive story, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We should be able to make it fit, since it`s about a car that can fold.

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AZUZ (voice-over): It`s an electric car that was built at MIT. You`re about to see why it`s unique. Watch the wheels. They can turn all toward the center of the car, which lets it fold up on itself.

And you`re probably wondering what the point it. The idea is to save space when parking on city streets. When these cars fold up, you can fit three of them in a space that would normally fit one vehicle. Plus there are no side doors -- you get out from the front.

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AZUZ: And our social media question of the week: we asked you which organization was founded 55 years ago this week during the Civil Rights Movement. One of the Thunderbirds at Harmony Middle School in Kansas was the first person to get the right answer: the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, or SCLC.

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AZUZ (voice-over): The organization was officially founded on February 14th, 1957. Its headquarters is in Atlanta, Georgia, and its first president was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The mission of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is to ensure equal rights and justice for all Americans. The group worked to achieve that goal by helping local organizations that were part of the Civil Rights Movement. The SCLC coordinated training programs, education projects and voter registration drives.

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AZUZ (voice-over): The SCLC was founded 55 years ago this week. Did you know that the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was created more than 100 years ago. If so, you already know one of the answers on our Black History Month quiz. Check it out in the "Spotlight" section, cnnstudentnews.com. See if you can score a perfect 10.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for a Shoutout Extra Credit.

Whose face is on the U.S. nickel. Here we go. Is it Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Franklin Roosevelt or George Washington? Rewind that clock to three seconds and go.

The five-cent piece bears the face of America`s third president, Thomas Jefferson. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout Extra Credit.

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AZUZ: President Obama`s administration says it`s more concerned with what`s in coins than who`s on them. The penny in your pocket might look like copper, but copper actually makes up less than 3 percent of a one-cent coin. And the main metal in nickels ain`t nickel. According to this next report from Athena Jones, the material makeup of U.S. currency could be in for a change.

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ATHENA JONES, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Julian Leidman knows coins. He`s been collecting them since he was 11 years old, and he`s been dealing them for nearly half a century.

JULIAN LEIDMAN, COIN DEALER: When cents were first made, this was the size of the cents.

JONES (voice-over): He says the look in metal content of the coins made in America have changed multiple times over the years.

LEIDMAN: They started in 1793. There was three different designs in 1793.

JONES (voice-over): And now pennies, as well as nickels, could be set to change again as part of an effort to cut costs. In the last budget the Obama administration asked Congress for permission to change the metal makeup of pennies and nickels, because they`ve become more expensive to produce than they are worth -- a lot more expensive.

It costs 2.4 cents to make one penny, and 11.2 cents to make a nickel as of last year.

The reason? The rising prices of the copper, nickel and zinc that go into the coins. Since 1982, pennies have been made mostly of zinc, and are merely copper plated. Nickels, on the other hand, are 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel. And at current market rates, the price of raw materials alone is almost six cents per nickel. Add in the minting process, and it`s more than double face value.

JONES: Does it surprise you that it costs so much to make these coins?

LEIDMAN: Well, because of the raw metal, no, it doesn`t surprise me. It`s -- what surprises me is they haven`t found something before.

JONES (voice-over): The U.S. mint is in the early stages of studying the issue, so it`s too soon to know what the final mix could be or just how much cost savings could be achieved.

But Leidman thinks both coins could be discontinued.

LEIDMAN: My thoughts as a coin dealer is I`d like to have them. I`d like whatever they make them of, I`d like to have them. My thoughts as a guy on the street is get rid of them. And do the rounding.

JONES: This is just the latest attempt to cut costs at the mint. The decision to stop making the presidential one-dollar coins last December is expected to save the mint $50 million a year -- Athena Jones, CNN, Washington.

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AZUZ: We`re going to admit we were a little confused with today`s "Before We Go" video. We know that --

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AZUZ (voice-over): -- these two are out for a walk. What we`re not sure of is if she`s walking the dog, or if the dog is walking her. Maybe he thinks she just needs a little push to get going.

According to the guy who`s shooting this YouTube video, the upright rover refuses to put all four feet on the ground when he goes out for a walk. Might be a little odd, probably a little stubborn --

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AZUZ: -- but at least she`s willing to make a stand. Whoo! All right. Now, before you give us our walking papers, want to let you know that there`s no show on Monday in honor of President`s Day. We hope you enjoy the long weekend, and we will see you on Tuesday.

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