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STUDENT NEWS

Snowmageddon in Atlanta; Aleppo, Ancient Syrian City, Struck by Syrian Civil War; State of the Union; Cory Remsburg, an American hero.

Aired January 30, 2014 - 04:00:00   ET

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


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: From the snowed over suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, I`m Carl Azuz. And this is CNN STUDENT NEWS. First up today, this. A line of freezing rain, sleet and snow has shut down parts of the South from Louisiana to North Carolina. Several people have died in the winter blast, and dozens have been injured, many of them in traffic accidents. States of emergency were declared in Alabama and Georgia. And the National Guard was called in both states to help people stranded on the road.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First priority was look for people that were stranded, you know, hadn`t had any food or water and to bring that to them you know if we could - if they need to go to a shelter, we try to find out what the closest one was for them, direct them there.

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AZUZ: City of Atlanta, Georgia is known for having bad traffic on a good day. So, when the snow hit, shutting down surface roads and interstates, stranding students for hours on buses and commuters overnight in their cars, some were wondering whom to blame. Georgia`s governor mentioned the forecast, which called for significantly less snow than many places actually got. Atlanta`s mayor said it was worsened when schools, businesses and government agencies all told workers to go home at the same time. He said better coordination is needed. Whatever or whoever was responsible, the roads were rife with racks.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Snowmageddon in a major city, and auto graveyard on the interstate, semitrucks jackknifed, cars abandoned by the hundreds, other struggling.

Over a thousand accidents were reported in the city of Atlanta and the greater area. Look at these school buses, children stranded inside them, nearly 100 children were stuck on buses until about midnight. Other kids had to sleep at their schools. Good Samaritans tried to free cars that had been stuck for hours. Trucker Greg Schroeder (ph) had been stuck in his truck for 23 hours when he spoke to CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve seen hundreds of accidents. I`m not stuck on anything, I just - there is nowhere to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All from a snowfall of at most 3.5 inches and a lair of ice so slippery these kids could play hockey on it.

Atlanta`s mayor admits the government was partly to blame, because schools and government offices let people out at about the same time businesses shut down in the early afternoon on Tuesday.

(on camera): Is that how it really escalates so quickly? Everyone hitting the road at the same time.

PROF. SAMER HAMDAR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: It does. Practically, if everybody is hitting the road at the same time your demand on the transportation metro could be so high that the corresponding capacity or supply of your network will not be able to handle such a demand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): In Atlanta, that led to people taking 12, 14 hours of longer to get home. In these situations, one traffic expert says, drivers become distracted by stressful conditions, trying to stay warm, take care of children in the vehicle. They often don`t obey traffic laws at those moments, he says, and at many place a simple lack of driving skill is a huge factor.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: Since 2011, we`ve been reporting on the Civil war in the Middle Eastern nation of Syria. It`s complicated, involving forces that want to protect the Syrian government, rebels who want that government out of power and terrorists trying to get their own foothold in Syria. We don`t know when this will end, but we did get a look inside Aleppo, an ancient city, Syria`s largest city, a city that`s been at the heart of the fighting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FREREDIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Takeoff from a Damascus airfield. The Syrian government packed about 20 journalists into a plane and didn`t tell us where we were going. But we soon found out it was Aleppo, one of the most dangerous places in Syria.

(on camera): The airport in Aleppo has been closed for many months, and the folks were operating these planes, that were apparently the first civilian flight that`s going to land there since it was closed. Not exactly sure that`s a good thing, but we hope it goes well.

(voice over): Local officials seemed as relieved as us, after we landed safely. They sent a welcoming party including the governor of Aleppo. His main focus, the negotiations between the Syrian regime and the opposition in Geneva.

GOV. MOHAMMED WAHID AL AKKAD, ALEPPO SYRIA (through translator): What we want from Geneva is to stop foreign money, fighters and weapons coming into Syria, he says.

We, as Syrians, can reconcile with each other and make our own government to rebuild our country.

PLEITGEN: The Assad regime wants to show it`s winning in Aleppo. But we weren`t sure how spontaneous these shows of support for the regime actually were, as we toured areas recently recaptured by the Syrian army. Soldiers say they have rebels on the defensive, but the going is tough.

"Al Qaeda were the worst people to fight against," this soldier says, "They are Islamists, they see us as infidels and they want to kill us."

The situation in Aleppo is remarkable: the city is one of the worst affected by the civil war and yet the streets in some districts are packed, shops well stock.

But only a few blocks away, destruction is clearly visible. And heavy fighting continues to rage as we saw when we visited a regime sniper position.

The government is very keen to show us the gains that it`s made here in Aleppo, but Aleppo still is very much a divided city. If you look over the skyline, and you are at a very high vantage point, everything to this area here is government controlled, but everything that is to the left of that is in the hands of rebel forces.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: Time for the "Shoutout." The rangers are a special operations unit, associated with what branch of the U.S. military? If you think you know it, shout it out? Is it the Army, the Navy, the Air Force or the Marines? You`ve got three seconds, go.

U.S. Army Rangers are tough soldiers who are especially trained in close combat. That`s your answer and that`s your shoutout.

During Tuesday night`s State of the Union address there was something that everyone, Republicans and Democrats could agree on. It`s that Cory Remsburg is a hero. He is 30 years old, a U.S. Army ranger who joined the service on his 18th birthday. He`s one of many heroes from the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and just by attending the presidential address, Sergeant First Class Remsburg brought the U.S. government to its feet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: "My recovery has not been easy," he says. Nothing in life that`s worth anything is easy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Perhaps the loudest applause delivered during the State of the Union went not to the president, but to this man, Army Ranger Cory Remsburg.

OBAMA: Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up and he does not quit.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His story of bravery and recovery is both incredible and inspiring. Remsburg led a squad in Afghanistan back in 2009. It was his tenth deployment overseas. On October 1, he and his fellow soldiers successful battled off insurgents on the outskirts of Kandahar. But on their way back to base, they would trigger a 500 pound roadside bomb. One of his soldiers, 24-year old Sergeant Robert Sanchez, was killed. Remsburg was tossed into the air by the blast. His head smashed in by shrapnel, the wound still visible today. He was in the coma for three months. President Obama first met Remsburg in the hospital in 2009, visiting several times in his years of recovery. And his recovery is nothing short of miraculous.

OBAMA: Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye, still struggles on his left side, but slowly, steadily with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he`s learned to speak again and stand again and walk again. And he`s working toward the day when he can serve his country again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: It`s time for the CNN STUDENT NEWS, "Roll Call". We are starting with the Cherokees of Morgan Township Middle High School. They are watching from Valparaiso, Indiana. Next, we`ve got some Broncos, but not from Denver. These are online in Florence, Arizona, hello to Poston Butte High School. And in Alabama, we are waiving to the Eagles of East Lawrence High School. Thank you all for watching.

Before we go, we can make snowballs, snow forts, snow men, but check out these snow rollers. This natural phenomenon was caught on camera in Columbus, Ohio. It`s shaped by the hands of the wind. Basically, a strong breeze bumps up against the chunk of snow, starts it rolling and leaves it curled up in someone`s yard. You can call them snow rolls, snow rollers or snow donuts, they all sound delicious, and there`s snowthing unnatural about them.

OK, I`m going to be honest. I`m running out of snow puns, just a thought of bore makes me freeze up, makes my mind melt. It`s nothing to ball about, but some warmer weather would help us (inaudible) some new ideas. I`m Carl Azuz. And we`re forecasting more news and puns tomorrow.

END