(CNN Student News) -- April 21, 2008
Tension in Iraq - Learn about the tense backdrop for Secretary of State Rice's visit to Iraq.
The Young Faithful - Hear from some teens who traveled from Kentucky to New York to see the pope.
After the Mitchell Report - Consider whether the Mitchell Report will impact this year's baseball season.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MONICA LLOYD, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Thanks so much for tuning in to CNN Student News, I'm Monica Lloyd.
LLOYD: First up today, we're heading to Iraq, where the government and militia groups are clashing in words and action. Fighting between Iraqi forces and the Mehdi Army increased over the weekend. Government officials are hoping to break up the militant group and have called on all political parties to unite against them. The leader of the Mehdi Army wants the crackdown on his followers to end, and he's warning the government what might happen if the attacks don't stop. In the midst of this tension, a U.S. official traveled to the region.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. me! I was born in 1954 in Birmingham, Alabama. I started college when I was 15 years old, and I once considered becoming a concert pianist. I earned multiple awards as a professor at Stanford University and later became the first female National Security Adviser in U.S. history. We're identifying Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the first African-American woman to hold the position!
LLOYD: Secretary Rice is in the Middle East right now. She's scheduled to take part in a meeting tomorrow with representatives from Iraq's neighboring countries. But on Sunday, she stopped off in Baghdad to meet with Iraqi officials. Jill Dougherty has more on the surprise visit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN REPORTER: With violent clashes just a few miles away, mortar rounds lobbed at the Green Zone, it might seem hard to argue that conditions in Iraq are improving. But that's the case U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is making.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It is indeed a moment of opportunity in Iraq.
DOUGHERTY: Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki tells her his government has the will to confront armed militias that, he says, have no place in today's Iraq. For weeks, his government forces, backed by U.S. soldiers, have battled the Mahdi Army militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The government ordered al-Sadr to shut down his militia, but he's scorning that ultimatum, threatening "open war" if Iraq's government and U.S. forces do not stop their crackdown. Sunday, a key al-Sadr ally upped the ante.
FAWZI TARZI, SADRIST PARLIAMENTARIAN: Let it be known that disbanding the Mehdi Army will mean the end of Mr. al-Maliki's government. And therefore, the siege of Sadr City and Shula should end immediately or all options are open to us.
DOUGHERTY: But the Iraqi government isn't backing down, a spokesman telling CNN, "We cannot accept the presence of armed groups... Iraq cannot be the new Somalia." The commander of U.S. forces in central Iraq, Major General Rick Lynch, warns if Sadr and the Mahdi Army become very aggressive, "We've got enough combat power to take the fight to the enemy."
Secretary Rice says although Iraq's military operations against the Mahdi Army brought more violence, they're also bringing the country's sectarian and ethnic groups together. The heir to the leadership of Iraq's largest Shiite political party agrees and says al-Sadr must now make a choice.
AMMAR AL-HAKEEM: If he wants to go along with the political process, then he will be strong, because all the national forces will stand and applaud him. But if, God forbid, he decides to continue supporting armed groups, then I donšt think this will be a positive thing for him.
DOUGHERTY: Muqtada al-Sadr announced a unilateral truce last August. The U.S. military says it's had an effect.
REAR ADMIRAL PATRICK DRISCOLL, MULTINATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: His pledge that he made last year for the freeze has been a contributor, a significant contributor, to the decrease in violence that we've seen since 2007.
DOUGHERTY: If this fighting is part of a "truce," Iraqis can only wonder what all-out war would be like. Jill Dougherty, CNN, Baghdad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Pope Visits the U.S.
LLOYD: Back in the U.S., Pope Benedict XVI visited Ground Zero in New York on Sunday. During an event at the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he prayed for guidance and peace in the face of such terrible events. Then it was off to Yankee Stadium, where the religious leader led mass before 60,000 people as he wrapped up his trip to the U.S.
LLOYD: The pope's visit was especially memorable for a group of young people who traveled from Kentucky to see him in person.
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STUDENT ON PAPAL TRIP: I was one of six people to be chosen to come on this trip to see the pope.
STUDENT ON PAPAL TRIP: We just kind of got chosen to be a part of it.
DAVID AXMAN. ON PAPAL TRIP: It's a really big honor and it's another adventure. I'm real excited to go.
STUDENT ON PAPAL TRIP: So, we got randomly selected and here we are.
STUDENT ON PAPAL TRIP: I'm pretty sure it's going to be a life-changing experience. I'm seeing the pope, come on.
CHAPERONE: There's 49 of us and there's 49 seats.
STUDENT ON PAPAL TRIP: Oh yeah, it's really exciting. I get to go see the pope.
STUDENT ON PAPAL TRIP: Get on the bus.
STUDENT ON PAPAL TRIP: I really don't know what to expect. I'm just going to go in there with open ears and hope for the best.
CHAPERONE: Here we go. Oh God, please be with us as we travel.
STUDENT ON PAPAL TRIP: I've been Catholic my whole life, so the pope has always been somebody that you look up to.
STUDENT ON PAPAL TRIP: The fact that it's while I'm, as a youth. It's really exciting to get to do it as a young person.
STUDENT ON PAPAL TRIP: May the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, continue to bless our country. And may the Mass that we will attend tomorrow remind us of him and of the goodness that is present in our archdiocese.
AXMAN: Not too many people get to say they have seen him. And it also gives me a great chance to meet new people. And it's another adventure.
STUDENT ON PAPAL TRIP: I can't go to over to Italy and Rome. I think a pilgrimage for me is what I can do now.
STUDENT ON PAPAL TRIP: It's worth it, 13 hours or whatever on a bus from Louisville.
STUDENT ON PAPAL TRIP: Part of it for me, I've never been to New York.
STUDENT ON PAPAL TRIP: Just being in his presence will be really awesome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AZUZ: Time for the Shoutout! In what sport could you be penalized for a "balk"? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Football, B) Hockey, C) NASCAR or D) Baseball? You've got three seconds -- GO! If a baseball pitcher gets called for a balk, everyone on base gets to move forward. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
LLOYD: The punishment for a balk is pretty small. But the penalty for using steroids? A 50-game suspension, and that's for the first bust. If you've been following baseball recently, you know performance-enhancing drugs are a big deal, big enough that Commissioner Bud Selig ordered an investigation into the issue back in 2006. Former Senator George Mitchell spent more than a year putting together his report, and when he released it last December, it linked dozens of Major Leaguers to performance enhancers. Larry Smith reports on baseball's first season after the report's release.
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LARRY SMITH, CNN REPORTER: The 2008 season is year one of Major League Baseball's post-Mitchell Report era. The report was the culmination of baseball's investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs by its players.
MIKE MUSSINA, YANKEES PITCHER: There's been a lot of other controversies in baseball over the 130-some years it's been around. This isn't the first thing that's come up. It seems to have survived all of these other things, and I'm hoping it survives all of this.
JOHNNY DAMON, YANKEES OUTFIELDER: The Mitchell Report, you know, probably had to happen. But, you know, hopefully we can just move on.
SMITH: Moving on could be difficult. Homerun king Barry Bonds was indicted on charges of lying to a federal grand jury about his use of steroids, and 7-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens is being investigated over whether he lied to Congress when he testified he never used performance-enhancing drugs.
MIKE TIMLIN, RED SOX PITCHER: I don't know if it will ever stop. You know, as someone else put it, Pandora's box is open. I mean it's open.
TOM VERDUCCI, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: Too many guys used steroids and too many people know about it for us to think that we're not going to learn more as the years go by.
DEREK JETER, YANKEES SHORTSTOP: It's still fresh in people's minds. It just happened. There are still a lot of legal things going on now. It's going to take time, but I think baseball's making some great efforts to clean up the game.
VERDUCCI: I do think that baseball has turned a page, at least philosophically. I hear from players now, especially the younger guys, who have been tested their entire lives starting from when they came up to the minor leagues, that the pressure is not there anymore to use steroids the way that it was in '90s.
JOHN HARPER, NY DAILY NEWS: I do think that this is the time where people are saying, "Let's play baseball," and hope it's over, and not be waiting for the next shoe to drop.
SMITH: Considering baseball has set attendance records each of the last four seasons, it seems playing ball is what fans care about most.
PERSON ON THE STREET: I think steroids is just a distraction. That's all it is.
PERSON ON THE STREET: I hope they clean it up. I don't want to see it continue, but it doesn't keep me away.
PERSON ON THE STREET: The game's still great. I mean, you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
SMITH: Congress has threatened to use legislation to improve baseball's drug testing policy. To avert that, baseball and the players union agreed to implement more changes to the current policy. It's the third time since 2005 they've acted to strengthen that policy. Larry Smith, CNN, Atlanta.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Before We Go
LLOYD: Before we go, we've got a speedy follow-up on someone we profiled during Women's History Month. Danica Patrick has been flying around race tracks for years, and now, she's driven her way into the record books. A track in Japan played host to history over the weekend. With two laps to go, Patrick took over the lead and then took home the title, becoming the first female winner ever in Indy-Car history. Her car owner said he thinks the victory is the first of many to come.
LLOYD: And that's where we zoom on out of here. But we'll see you again tomorrow for more CNN Student News. Have a great day, everyone. I'm Monica Lloyd. E-mail to a friend