(CNN Student News) -- April 29, 2008
I.D., Please! - Learn how the Supreme Court ruled on a controversial voter ID law.
Ancient Treasures - Check out some ancient artifacts that were returned to an Iraqi museum.
Green Wall of China - Root around in the reasoning behind China's "Great Green Wall" project.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MONICA LLOYD, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: It's Tuesday, and we're kicking off a brand new edition of CNN Student News. Glad to have you along for the ride. I'm Monica Lloyd.
LLOYD: First up, the U.S. Supreme Court rules on an issue that could have a big impact on this year's election. Your driver's license: It doesn't just give you the right to get behind the wheel. It's official proof of who you are. Without that, you can't drive, can't get into an R-rated movie, and in Indiana, you can't vote. A state law requires people to bring a photo ID to the polls. Some critics think it's unfair, but the Supreme Court sided with the state, which says the goal of the law is to prevent fraud. Kelli Arena reports on the ruling.
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KELLI ARENA, CNN REPORTER: Remember this? Protests, hanging chads, charges of voter intimidation. The 2000 presidential race raised questions about election integrity, and Democrats say today's Supreme Court ruling may raise even more.
DONNA BRAZILE, DIR., DNC VOTING RIGHTS INSTITUTE: The voter ID scam is a suppression tactic used by many people to undermine the right to vote in this country.
ARENA: In upholding Indiana's strict voter ID law, the toughest in the nation, the High Court cleared the way for other states to follow suit. Voting rights advocates say the impact will be felt most heavily among the poor, the elderly, minorities; people who tend to vote Democratic.
MELISSA MADILL, INDIANA VOTING RIGHTS ADVOCATE: It's actually infuriating. It's infuriating that people who really need to impact the system the most are being denied the right to do so.
ARENA: The hurdles are real for people like Karen Vaughn, a quadriplegic who doesn't have a driver's license or a passport. She had to pay more than $100 to get documentation to prove who she was.
KAREN VAUGHN, INDIANA VOTING RIGHTS PLAINTIFF: They just don't care; we're unimportant.
ARENA: The Indiana law was written and passed by the state's Republican legislature. And today, conservatives were celebrating the Supreme Court ruling.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: Common sense ruling, and so common-sensical that even John Paul Stevens, one of the most liberal members of the court, joined the majority here.
ARENA: Indiana isn't the only state to require ID. More than 20 states ask voters to present identification, including most of the key battleground states. Election officials say the laws are necessary to prevent fraud.
TODD ROKITA, INDIANA SECRETARY OF STATE: It's so easy for someone to claim that they are somebody else and steal an election that way.
ARENA: But there is little hard evidence to back that up. The ACLU and People for the American Way say there is evidence instead to suggest disadvantaged voters will have a hard time. In past elections in Ohio and Florida, some voters reportedly complained that poll workers tried to turn them away, even with proper ID.
State election officials say they are working very hard to make sure everyone knows what the rules are and what kind of ID is accepted. But some experts say Democrats will just have to work harder to make sure their members are well informed. Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.
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Word to the Wise
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS: A Word to the Wise...
Paleolithic (adjective) relating to part of the cultural period known as the Stone Age, which began about 700,000 years ago
LLOYD: One of the areas that flourished during the Stone Age was Mesopotamia. You probably know it better by its current name: Iraq! The region was home to the world's earliest civilizations, and it's a treasure chest of historic artifacts. Unfortunately, many of them were stolen during the Iraq War. But as Arwa Damon tells us, some have found their way back home.
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AMIRA IDAN, IRAQI GENERAL COMMITTEE FOR ANTIQUITIES AND HERITAGE: These pieces belong. You can see it has an IM number. That means Iraqi Museum code; it means it was a result of the looting.
ARWA DAMON, CNN REPORTER: The piece that Amira Idan, Head of the General Committee for Antiquities and Heritage, is holding dates back to the Paleolithic Age, testimony to a source of national pride: Iraq's role in history as the cradle of civilization. On display for the media: 701 Iraqi artifacts confiscated by Syrian authorities from smugglers looking to capitalize on Iraq's heritage.
MOHAMMED AL-ARAIBI, MINISTER OF STATE FOR TOURISM AND ANTIQUITIES: When I recovered the Iraqi artifacts in Syria, and then I got to my homeland and I was carrying Iraqi artifacts, I can't describe my feelings, my happiness.
DAMON: After the fall of Saddam Hussein, looters pillaged Iraq's National Museum; the only artifacts that survived were those too heavy to be carried away. The museum has lost an estimated 15,000 pieces. To date, Idan says they have only recovered 5,000 of them.
IDAN: Tablets from the Urfi period; that means the second millennium B.C.
DAMON: These inscribed bowls are from the first century B.C.
IDAN: Usually used for ritual and ceremony purposes, for example, to keep bad spirits away from my house.
DAMON: Preserving Iraq's cultural heritage goes beyond just what was stolen from these grounds.
IDAN: The majority of the pieces is from a result of the illegal digging that occur on our sites, especially the southern ones.
DAMON: Iraqi authorities fear that the trafficking of antiquities is one of the sources of funding for the insurgency, underscoring the need to protect archeological sites. Within moments of this press event coming to an end, you can see the employees rapidly packing up every one of these precious artifacts away. The museum is still closed; these pieces are going to be kept locked up. Everyone's main concern here is that they could be stolen once again.
Authorities deemed Baghdad safe enough to bring these artifacts back, but it's still not safe enough to put them on display. Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.
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AZUZ: Time for the Shoutout! Which of these is the longest? A) The distance from Earth to the international space station, B) The Mississippi River, C) The distance from L.A. to New York or D) The Great Wall of China? You've got three seconds -- GO! We served them up in increasing order. The Great Wall is the longest by more than 1,000 miles! That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
LLOYD: The Great Wall stretches more than 4,000 and was built over thousands of years. Right now, China is working on a new wall. It'll take about 70 years to complete and won't be quite as long. But just like the Great Wall, the goal of this new project is protection. Eunice Yoon gives us a look at the "Great Green Wall" of China.
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EUNICE YOON, CNN REPORTER: Chinese worker Zhang Hai Bo used to spend his days taking from the land. Now, the former farmer is giving back to it. Zhang is one of a thousand volunteers planting trees outside of Beijing as part of a government campaign to fend off the effects of an ever-expanding desert on China's capital.
ZHANG HAI BO, GREEN WALL VOLUNTEER: By planting trees, we are helping to prevent sandstorms from blowing into Beijing.
YOON: Beijing is just one of several cities around Asia hit every year by raging sandstorms. The storms shroud buildings and streets with clouds of toxic dust and are often referred to as a natural disaster. And environmentalists say this annual event is getting worse as a result of climate change and this: The Gobi, the largest desert in Asia, is growing, according to some researchers, at an alarming rate of 950 square miles a year.
BAI JIANHUA, CHINESE FORESTRY OFFICIAL: China's overpopulation, deforestation, overfarming and misuse of water contribute to the sandstorms.
YOON: The government believes this multi-billion dollar barricade of trees and shrubs is the answer. It's nicknamed the "Green Wall of China," and when it's finished in 2050, the wall is to stretch 2,800 miles all the way from Inner Mongolia to Beijing. Officials say it'll serve as a windbreak. They say the vegetation is arranged to create an artificial ecosystem to stabilize the dunes and help more plants to grow here.
BAI: The overall number of sandstorms is decreasing and each one is getting weaker.
YOON: Eight years ago, this mountainside was completely barren. Now, as part of the Green Wall project, it's covered in trees. Yet some environmentalists are skeptical that this strategically placed forest belt can actually ward off an encroaching desert.
JIA BAOQUAN, CHINESE ACADEMY OF FORESTRY: It would be difficult to completely solve the environmental problem with this project. It is more a matter of climate change than one caused by man.
YOON: Some environmental groups argue the government should address those man-made problems by paying farmers to reduce livestock and raise water prices. They say those moves would help prevent overgrazing on arid lands and encourage water conservation. Some Chinese scientists have called the project a waste of government funds. But Zhang sees the value in his work.
ZHANG: This is for my country, my kids and future generations.
YOON: And only future generations will be able to determine just how effective the Green Wall actually is. Eunice Yoon, CNN, Yanqing, China.
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LLOYD: The U.S., Iraq, China: Today's show is all over the map. But can your students track down the locations of these countries? Use our downloadable maps to find out! We've got geographic guides to all the continents. But labeling the individual countries, that part's up to you. Check out the free resources at CNNStudentNews.com!
LLOYD: That's where we head off the map. We'll see you tomorrow for more CNN Student News. Have a great day. I'm Monica Lloyd. E-mail to a friend