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Quick Guide & Transcript: Bush speaks on Iraq, Disease and hunger haunt Malawi

SPECIAL REPORT

• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide

(CNN Student News) -- December 1, 2005

Quick Guide

Bush Speaks on Iraq - Take a seat at the U.S. Naval Academy, where the president addressed the issue of Iraq.

On the Ground in Iraq - Have a look at how Iraqi security forces are faring in the fight against insurgents.

World AIDS Day - Listen to a report about the daily struggle for survival faced by millions in the African country of Malawi.

Transcript

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

MONICA LLOYD, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Welcome to December and the month's first edition of CNN Student News! I'm Monica Lloyd in Atlanta. A speech in Annapolis: The president restates his case for keeping troops in Iraq, until their job is done. But when it's done, is a controversial subject. The situation on the ground: Some say Iraqis are stepping up to the challenge of defending their own country, and others say they've a ways to go. And a nation in need: Hunted by death, disease and drought, people in Malawi spend their days in search of relief.

First Up: Bush Speaks on Iraq

LLOYD: The president stepped up to the podium in Annapolis, Maryland yesterday, to respond to recent criticism about the war in Iraq. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said the speech was made up of tired rhetoric. But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, felt the address exhibited real leadership. The party lines are clear, but you can make up your own mind, after hearing the highlights presented in this report by Sumi Das.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUMI DAS, CNN REPORTER: At the Naval Academy on Wednesday morning, President Bush delivered a message to critics who say he has no clear plan for the war in Iraq: a strategy for victory exists and the mission will not be abandoned.

U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I'm your commander in chief.

DAS: The president's forty-five minute speech highlighted progress in Iraq... The drafting of the constitution... the elections held in the country... and the strides achieved by Iraqi security forces.

BUSH: Iraqi units are growing more independent & more capable. They are defending their new democracy with courage and determination.

DAS: As in the past, Mr. Bush did not offer a date for troop withdrawal, pledging instead to stay until victory is achieved. He said Iraqis were increasingly taking the lead in the fight and that U.S. tactics were flexible and dynamic. Democratic senator and Armed Services Committee member Jack Reid says the president's speech laid out few, if any, specifics.

SEN. JACK REED, (D) RHODE ISLAND: His inability to articulate such a plan has allowed the nation's doubts to grow about the force of our efforts in Iraq. The American people are hungry for a frank appraisal of how we're doing.

DAS: Much of the president's speech was based on this declassified document outlining the national strategy for victory in Iraq. The report was released early Wednesday morning, but it is based on policies in place since 2003. For CNN Student News, I'm Sumi Das.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Shoutout

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS REPORTER: Time for the Shoutout! When did the war in Iraq begin? If you think you know it, shout it out! Was it: A) March 2003, B) September 2001, C) February 2004 or D) August 2002?You've got three seconds--GO! U.S. and coalition forces launched military action against Iraq in March 2003. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

On the Ground in Iraq

LLOYD: So how does the situation in Iraq look today? The country's ability to defend itself against insurgents is seen as a measure by which the U.S. can plan to withdraw its troops. But there's some discrepancy between what some officials are saying about Iraq's security... And what those forces are actually doing. Nic Robertson crunches some of the numbers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN REPORTER: President Bush talked about 120 Iraqi Army and police battalions being ready, about 40 of those battalions now ready to lead the fight, about 80 of those ready to fight alongside U.S. troops. It's not really clear how to define those categories of leading the fight and ready to fight. What we've seen on the ground, though, there is a wide disparity between some Iraqi battalions and the readiness of others. President Bush talked about it being uneven, and the U.S. commanders here who help oversee the training of Iraqi troops, they say the unevenness is because of the lack of good leadership in the Iraqi Army. They say some leaders are good, some not so good.

Another comparison we can look at here, measuring what President Bush was saying in his speech and what we see on the ground. He talked about the September offensive in Tal Afar, compared it to the Fallujah offensive in November last year. The Fallujah offensive, he said, by far, U.S. troops outnumbering Iraqis. In the Tal Afar offensive, he said, 11 Iraqi battalions, 5 U.S. battalions. Iraqis leading the way. But talking to journalists who were there for that offensive, they say, look, it was a U.S. plan, it required the use of heavy U.S. armor, U.S. air power, U.S. helicopters, so from the perspective of some of the journalists there, they saw it as the U.S. troops leading the way on the ground.

And also, if we look at two other recent offensives: "Steel Curtain" up on the Syrian border, about three or four weeks ago, and a new offensive just started in the west, it is still U.S. troops outnumbering Iraqi troops at least four to one.

I think this gives a clear idea, that the Iraqi troops, while getting ready, they still, the U.S. troops still very much in the lead, despite the fact that in Tal Afar, the Iraqi troops did out number the U.S. troops. Nic Robertston, CNN Baghdad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Fast Facts

AZUZ: Time for some Fast Facts! Today is World AIDS Day, when people around the globe work to increase awareness about AIDS and HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Red ribbons are worn as a sign of support for those who are infected, and a sign of hope for the future. More than 40 million people worldwide are estimated to have AIDS or HIV. And while there is no cure, there are treatments that can significantly delay the disease's progression.

World AIDS Day

LLOYD: AIDS is only part of the reason why the life expectancy in Malawi, a country in south-east Africa, is just 41 years. Compare that to about 77 years in the United States. More than half of the African country's 295 million people live below the poverty line. And for them, survival can be an everyday struggle. Jeff Koinanage takes us to Malawi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN REPORTER: The hills of Nansale deep in Malawi's hunger-ravaged south were once lush and green. Now they are parched and brown. And drifting across the valley the all too familiar sound of mourning in the village of Mpeni. The lethal combination of hunger, poverty and disease that stalks much of Southern Africa has claimed another victim. On this day, the people here are mourning 35 year-old Liford Kaponda. His family says he died of pneumonia, a polite way of saying AIDS.

In some parts of Malawi, up to one third of adults are HIV positive. But it's also likely that Kaponda's resistance was weakened by a lack of food. This year, drought has reduced the maize crop by 25 percent and Malawians are crying for help.

Experts estimate that nearly half of Malawi's ten million people face starvation in the coming months if more help doesn't arrive on time and many people here fear that if the long awaited rains don't arrive on time, funerals like Liford Kaponda's are only set to increase.

Further south in what was once the country's rich agricultural heartland, a fourth straight season of low yields and failed rains have reduced these people to eating wild fruits and berries. This is a food distribution center run jointly by the World Food Program and the Irish NGO, GOAL. Thousands of Malawians have been waiting here for hours under a scorching African sun, waiting for handouts. Woman with children....children on their own, portraits of hunger....fatigue.....depression.

PENELOPE HOWARTH, WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: We don't have enough food for the people we need to feed and unfortunately our food is fast running out.

KOINANGE: Penelope Howarth says the World Food Program's appeals seem to be falling on deaf ears. It launched an appeal for 88 million dollars for Malawi, but so far, its received just 28 million. The result: empty food warehouses.

HOWARTH: Really what we're looking for at this point is cash donations which we can then expedite the procurement process because the window is closing. We've been saying that for months but really now it's the end of the line. We really need those donations as soon as possible so that we can buy the food.

KOINANGE: Several hours of waiting and Rose Maisson finally makes her way to the front of the long line. She's registered by the officials, signs the form with a simple thumb print....and heads to the warehouse to collect her quota. She's given her share of dried vegetables, some cooking oil and the all-important 50-kilogram sack of corn or maize meal, which she has to carry on her head....along with one of her babies permanently strapped to her back. Rose gets some assistance, while her son carries his younger brother on his back. They begin the long trek home. At least they have food for two weeks. And then? Well, that depends on people and governments far beyond this ravaged land. Jeff Koinange, CNN, Chikwawa in Southern Malawi.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Goodbye

LLOYD: If you're looking for ways to help those in need, we've included links to relief organizations on our web site, CNN.com/EDUCATOIN. Thank you for watching CNN Student News. I'm Monica Lloyd.

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