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CNN Student News Transcript: May 12, 2008

  • Story Highlights
  • View the damage from deadly storms that swept through several U.S. states
  • Learn about a U.S. deal with Myanmar to provide aid to cyclone victims
  • Go behind the scenes of a CNN reporter's visit to cyclone-ravaged Myanmar
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(CNN Student News) -- May 12, 2008

Quick Guide

Tornado Devastation - View the damage from deadly storms that swept through several U.S. states.

Myanmar Relief Effort - Learn about a U.S. deal with Myanmar to provide aid to cyclone victims.

Myanmar - Reporter's Notebook - Go behind the scenes of a CNN reporter's visit to cyclone-ravaged Myanmar.


Teachers, please preview today's show. Our undercover report from Myanmar contains some graphic images.


MONICA LLOYD, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: We're kicking off a brand new week of CNN Student News, and we're glad to have you along for the ride. Hi, everyone. I'm Monica Lloyd.

First Up: Tornado Devastation

LLOYD: First up, President Bush is promising federal help for three states struck by severe weather this weekend. At least 22 people were killed in Oklahoma, Missouri and Georgia by powerful storms that caused tornadoes in some areas. The weather system knocked down trees and reduced many people's homes to ruins. John Lorinc has more on the damage caused by the storms.


JOHN LORINC, CNN REPORTER: John Hutchinson of Picher, Oklahoma, examines what's left of his home and possessions on Sunday. Despite the dire situation, he managed to stay positive.

JOHN HUTCHINSON, LOST HOME IN STORM: We're not going to worry about these material things. We're just glad we're all alive. We got plenty of family to take care of us and we're not going to worry about it.

LORINC: Powerful storms that spawned twisters hit northeastern Oklahoma and nearby Missouri starting Saturday evening, flattening buildings and killing at least 20. The systems made their way all the way to Georgia. This is damage in the Carrollton area, outside Atlanta. Torress Levett says the storm put such a scare into him and his family, that they ducked into a closet and asked for divine intervention.

TORRESS LEVETT, HOUSE HIT BY STORM: I told my wife, "Baby, pray, just pray." And by that time we got through praying, and the loft in the attic had fell down, and I had covered my wife and kids up, covered them up to keep from falling debris hitting them.

LORINC: At one point, utility officials say 85,000 people in Georgia were without power because of storm damage. For CNN Student News, I'm John Lorinc..


Spoken Word

U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We send our prayers to those who lost their lives and the families of those that lost their lives. And the federal government will be moving hard to help. I'll be in touch with the governors and offer all the federal assistance we can.

Is this legit?

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this Legit? A tornado's size determines its strength. It's a commonly-held myth, but this one is not legit! A tornado's strength is determined by its wind speed. Check out our One-Sheet on for more tornado myths!

Myanmar Relief Effort

LLOYD: People are struggling to recover from a different type of natural disaster in Myanmar, where tens of thousands of residents were killed by Cyclone Nargis. It's been more than a week since the powerful storm hit, and aid is slowly making its way to the victims. Sara Sidner is in neighboring Thailand, where the U.S. military is getting relief supplies ready to go.


SARA SIDNER, CNN REPORTER: The U.S. military is furiously preparing to send in aid to Myanmar. We're here in U-Tapao, Thailand, on a Thai military base where the U.S. has been allowed to stage this operation. They've got buckets; they've got building materials, like plastic sheeting and nails. They also have thousands of pounds of blankets and water to be sent in on a C-130 airplane into Myanmar.

The deal that has been made is that Myanmar will allow the U.S. government to drop these items off, allow the military in Myanmar to pick it up and take it out to the people. This really is a mission, they're hoping, of trust, that will gain trust between the two nations so that more aid can be sent in. So far, Myanmar has allowed three planeloads from the U.S. to come into the country. The U.S. is hoping to eventually be able to also send in aid workers who can get on the ground and assess the situation. Never mind other things like boats and also helos, helicopters than can get very close to those in desparate need who are in the Irrawaddy Delta. Right now, this is really a mission of mercy. They're hoping that these items will end up saving lives. Sara Sidner, U-Tapao, Thailand.


Myanmar - Reporter's Notebook

LLOYD: Just after the cyclone hit, CNN's Dan Rivers and his crew snuck into Myanmar to report on the situation there. The government didn't know that Rivers had entered the country, and once it found out, it wasn't happy about it. Rivers details his experience in this reporter's notebook. Teachers, we ask that you please preview this segment, as it contains some images that may not be appropriate for all students.


DAN RIVERS, CNN REPORTER: The furious winds of Cyclone Nargis had ripped apart towns and villages. Tens of thousands were dead and the airport had been shut for two days. We were on the first flight in when it reopened and we were shocked at what we saw. Yangon was choked with fallen trees. There were plenty of soldiers, but many seemed to be standing, doing nothing. And then there were the lines for fuel. Finding fuel for our car was also a nightmare. And all the while, we had to be careful that we weren't followed by the authorities.

RIVERS (DRIVING): It just goes on and on and on, for miles really.

RIVERS: There was limited electricity and communications were fraught, but we were still managing to report on what's happening. We have to change hotels every day; but now that my reports were on air, I was a marked man.

RIVERS (WALKING DOWN A STAIRWAY): We're having to sneak in and out of the hotel through the back stairs, so that they don't know we're here. Because we understand the authorities are out looking for me specifically. There's someone coming.

RIVERS: Well, there were two guys basically sitting in a car outside our hotel. Look like they could have been sitting and waiting and watching. It's really difficult not to get completely paranoid and ridiculous here, because you feel like everyone is potentially military intelligence and they are all looking for you.

RIVERS: We spent more than eight hours driving to the worst affected area, through torrential rain which was compounding the misery of survivors huddled in the debris of their homes. The roads are terrible. There are also numerous checkpoints. We're forced to find another way in. We finally manage to get to the heart of the Irrawaddy Delta, where the devastation was appalling. We'd narrowly avoided being arrested and we were effectively on the run.

RIVERS: Well, I almost got caught in the last town. The police had my photo, and they took the rest of my team in and were questioning them and showing them my photo and they were let go. And I caught up with them afterwards. We then drove down, we hit a checkpoint, we got turned around. We decided basically that we were going to get caught. We pulled off the road and we've taken a boat up here. And we are now stuck in the middle of the Irrawaddy Delta with about two Snickers bars and a Jerry can of fuel to last us.

RIVERS: We try to push further into the Delta, but just after this video is shot, we are detained by the police. Somehow we talk our way out and decide it's time for me to leave. I'm left feeling angry the junta has spent so much time hunting us, while the bodies of tens of thousands of poor souls are abandoned and decomposing. We even film bodies being carried and unceremoniously dumped in the river; perhaps this is why the regime is so keen to keep us out. Dan Rivers, CNN, Myanmar.



LLOYD: What a story. If you're moved by what you see and would like to help those affected by the cyclone, go to and impact your world! Add your name to the growing number of CNN viewers grabbing the opportunity to take action. That's at


AZUZ: Time for the Shoutout! Which of these strategies will help you get better gas mileage? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Buying gas on Wednesday, B) Driving the speed limit, C) Keeping your windows rolled up or D) Using a fuel additive? You've got three seconds -- GO! Most of these are mileage myths, but staying away from speeding will actually save you some cash. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Record Gas Prices

LLOYD: And if you're filling up your tank anytime soon, saving cash might be a big priority. That's because gas prices are shooting sky high. According to AAA, the average cost of a gallon of regular topped out at over $3.70 this weekend. That's up three cents from just Friday! And compared to last year, drivers are paying 22 percent more at the pump.

Al-Masri Update

LLOYD: And in other news, U.S. military officials are denying reports that the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq was captured last week. Iraqi authorizes announced the arrest of Abu Ayyub al-Masri on Thursday. American commanders weren't able to confirm the reports at first, and now, they say they're certain al Masri isn't in custody. The insurgent leader has been the head of the terrorist group since 2006.

Before We Go

LLOYD: And finally, the first family is a little big bigger these days. That's because President Bush has a new son-in-law! His daughter Jenna married Henry Hager this weekend at her family's ranch in Crawford, Texas. About 200 family members and friends were on hand for the big day, which the president said was "all we could have hoped for." The bride and groom met while they were both working on President Bush's re-election campaign in 2004. Hager proposed last summer after asking the president for permission.



LLOYD: That's where today's show walks down the aisle and out the door. We'll see you right back here tomorrow. I'm Monica Lloyd.

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