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CNN Student News Transcript: September 21, 2007

  • Story Highlights
  • Find out why demonstrators filled the streets of Jena, Louisiana
  • Learn about a young burn victim's first step on the road to recovery
  • Meet a teenager who's been to the top of the world's tallest peaks
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(CNN Student News) -- September 21, 2007

Quick Guide

Rally for Jena 6 - Find out why demonstrators filled the streets of Jena, Louisiana.

Youssif's Story - Learn about a young burn victim's first step on the road to recovery.

Young People Who Rock - Meet a teenager who's been to the top of the world's tallest peaks.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Thanks for stopping in for CNN Student News, your commercial-free source for news for the classroom. I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Rally for Jena 6

AZUZ: First up in today's show, a small town in Louisiana shuts down as thousands of demonstrators fill the streets. Now, we first told you about Jena earlier this week. It's been in the national spotlight since last December, when six African-American teens were accused of beating a white classmate there. They've been dubbed the "Jena 6," and the charges against them have sparked controversy, leading to yesterday's rally. Kyung Lah reports from Jena on the protest.


KYUNG LAH, CNN REPORTER: Chanting in unison, shouldering children and signs, thousands arrived by bus from across the country. They jammed the streets of the small town of Jena, recalling an old civil rights era; some say, fighting a new front.

AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I think this is the beginning of the 21st century civil rights movement. Every generation has to fight its issues.

LAH: Led by the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, two marches weaved through Jena, demanding the release of Mychal Bell, one of six boys now known as the "Jena 6." The case begins with this tree, where white boys hung three nooses after black students sat under it. Racial tension simmered at the high school, coming to a head in the schoolyard beating of Justin Barker, allegedly by six black boys. Barker was knocked unconscious and sent to the hospital, but released and returned to school that day. Mychal Bell remains behind bars.

MAN ON THE STREET: What we're talking about is not condoning fighting, we're talking about how justice is applied.

LAH: But the district attorney, talking to reporters Wednesday with Justin Barker by his side, says the charges are warranted.

REED WALTERS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: This case is not and never has been about race. It is about finding justice for an innocent victim and holding people accountable for their actions.

LAH: The protests shut down the town. Many Jena residents left for the day and businesses we drove by were closed. State police say, so far, there are no reports of major crowd issues or violence. In Jena, Louisiana, I'm Kyung Lah.


Youssif's Story

AZUZ: Another person in the news we've been following recently is Youssif. The 5-year-old Iraqi boy was badly burned in an attack in his home country earlier this year. Well he and his family are in America now, where he's getting medical treatment. On Thursday, Youssif had his first surgery, and his doctor said it went well. Arwa Damon has more on the procedure.


ARWA DAMON, CNN REPORTER: Youssif's first and main surgery has been successful. What they did in the operating room today, which lasted about three hours, was they injected steroids into the scarring on his forehead and into the thick scars on his face. The intent there is to try to flatten and soften those scars. They've also inserted balloon-like structures into his right cheek and right underneath his chin, where the "good skin" meets the scar tissue. These balloons will be slowly inflated over the next three months. Then Youssif will go back into the operating room, that scar tissue will be removed and the good skin will be stretched on top of it. They also removed the heavy scarring that is around his nose, that runs all the way down to his mouth. They've placed temporary cadaver skin there. That will be removed and replaced by one of Youssif's own skin grafts over the next few days.

This has been an emotional roller coaster ride both for Youssif and for his parents. When they saw him in the recovery room, they were taken aback by his appearance. He has heavy yellow bandages around his nose. He has a white bandage around his face. Both of his parents walked up to his bed, he was still asleep, and they had to turn around and walk away, crying in their corners. It took his father about half an hour to be able walk back up to his son's bedside.

It's been highs and lows here. They've watched Youssif's emotional transformation over the last week since he arrived in the United States, coming here as a sullen, withdrawn boy, and then the Youssif that we saw in the last few days. In his mother's words: Happy.

All of this has really come together thanks to the donations from viewers and others. Thanks to Dr. Peter Grossman, the Grossman Burn Center and of course, the Children's Burn Foundation. Youssif will have many tough months ahead, but everyone here is hoping for the best. Arwa Damon, CNN, Los Angeles.


Florida Student Reaction

AZUZ: Taking a look back now at another story we covered earlier this week. Remember this, that student Tasered by University of Florida police? Well, we asked your opinion about the story, and here's what some of you had to say:

Melinda from Bonney Lake, Washington, wrote in, "I feel [the student] had the right to question John Kerry and the actions taken by the police were rash. He should have been able to ask his questions instead of being ushered out by police so forcefully."

Here's one from Katie from Jaffrey, New Hampshire: "I think that the police went too far. The student has freedom of speech. The police shouldn't have tazed him."

But Kurk from Jaffrey wrote, "Yes, there should be times when the freedom of speech should be restricted. For instance, when someone is insulting a person and being extremely loud, or if a person is threatening someone or a number of people."

We've posted some more of your opinions at Just log on and check out what's "In the Spotlight."


AZUZ: Today's first Shoutout goes out to Mrs. Emmert's classes at J.H. House Elementary School in Conyers, Georgia. What Asian region is home to the world's largest tigers? You know what to do. Is it A) Sumatra, B) Bengal, C) Tibet or D) Siberia? You've got three seconds -- GO! Siberian tigers are the biggest and they're native to the Russian region. And now you know the answer to a Newsquiz question at That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Newsquiz Promo

AZUZ: If you were with us yesterday, you know those big cats are facing a growing number of threats. Poaching is a serious problem in the region, and logging and forest fires are destroying the Siberian tiger's natural habitat, leaving the species in danger of extinction. That story and others from around the globe are covered in our weekly Newsquiz. You can check out the free resource at

Shoutout Extra Credit

AZUZ: Here comes your Shoutout Extra Credit. What is the tallest mountain in North America? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it A) Mount Saint Helens, B) Mount McKinley, C) Mount Whitney, or D) Stone Mountain? You've got three seconds -- GO! No, it's not Georgia's Stone Mountain. Alaska's Mount McKinley is North America's highest peak at more than 23,000 feet. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout Extra Credit!

Young People Who Rock

AZUZ: That makes Mount McKinley one of the Seven Summits, the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents. Nicole Lapin talks to a teenager who's been to the top of all of them.


NICOLE LAPIN, CNN.COM LIVE ANCHOR: Young People Who Rock, it's our weekly series featuring a different young person or people under 30 doing amazing things. Our Young Person Who Rocks this week is Samantha Larson, and at 18 years old, she is perhaps the youngest person to climb all Seven Summits of the world, including Mount Everest. Well, I have to ask you: Why do you do this? Why did you do this? Because it was never done before. And some people said it couldn't be done, especially by a young girl and an American.

SAMANTHA LARSON, MOUNTAIN CLIMBER: Well, when I initially got into climbing, I think a huge part of it for me was just spending the time with my dad. I climbed all the Seven Summits with my dad, and it was such an amazing hobby to share with him. And then through my climbs, I just grew to love it. And there is nothing like it. Just being out there, it's so beautiful. And, just, I love the challenges that it presents to me and I think it's a great sport.

LAPIN: I think so, too. And some people said it couldn't be done. Samantha Larson, you are proof that it could be done, and we love your sheer will and determination. And thank you so much for joining us. Our Young Person Who Rocks.



AZUZ: Check out the Young People Who Rock page to learn more about Samantha and a few other young people doing amazing things. And if you know someone who rocks, like a neighbor or a friend, tell us about them! We've got a link to it on our site, And don't forget, we've got a blog at tool. There, you can find out what's brewing behind the scenes and what it takes to bring the news to your classroom.

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, SpongeBob offers some aquatic assistance. See anything weird with this picture? Say, right there? It's a football. And that protruding plaything helped keep the Clam Juice from getting watered down. The fishing ship was taking on water last weekend, and rescuers needed something to plug up the leak. SpongeBob to the rescue! A football featuring the cartoon character was a perfect fit. It sealed the hole and let the boat get back to dry land.



AZUZ: A sponge helping clean up water. Now there's something you don't see every day. But you can see us right back here on Monday. Have a great weekend, everybody. I'm Carl Azuz. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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