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CNN Student News Transcript: April 8, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Hear whom President Obama met with during a surprise stop in Iraq
  • Learn how a new project aims to protect tigers from poachers
  • Find out why drive-in theaters are experiencing increasing sales
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(CNN Student News) -- April 8, 2009

Quick Guide

Surprise Iraq Visit - Hear whom President Obama met with during a surprise stop in Iraq.

Tiger Passports - Learn how a new project aims to protect tigers from poachers.

Drive-In Popularity - Find out why drive-in theaters are experiencing increasing sales.



Teachers, we ask that you please preview the Tiger Passports segment. It contains images some students may find disturbing.

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: How might a tiger's stripes help protect the cat from being poached? That's coming up on this Wednesday edition of CNN Student News. I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Surprise Iraq Visit

AZUZ: First up, President Obama makes a surprise stop in Iraq as he wraps up his first overseas trip since taking office. During Tuesday's unannounced visit, the president praised the work of the members of the U.S. military serving in the Middle Eastern nation. He also said that the next 18 months will be a critical time period, as he plans to withdraw the majority of U.S. forces from Iraq. Matt Cherry has more on the president's trip.


MATT CHERRY, CNN REPORTER: For the first time since his inauguration, the new commander in chief met with troops on the ground in Iraq. According to the official schedule, President Barack Obama was heading home from Turkey after an eight-day diplomatic tour. Instead, he dropped in on about 600 U.S. troops at Camp Victory. The president commended the troops for what he called "extraordinary work."

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country. That is an extraordinary achievement, and for that, you have the thanks of the American people.

CHERRY: In addition to glad-handing with the troops, President Obama topped off his week full of talks with heads of state by getting together with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talibani. Mister Obama says the U.S. has made significant political progress in Iraq. He plans to bring about 100,000 of the 142,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq home by next August. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows about 70% of Americans back that goal.

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OBAMA: It is time for us to transition to the Iraqis. They need to take responsibility for their country and for their sovereignty.

CHERRY: For CNN Student News, I'm Matt Cherry, reporting from Atlanta.



AZUZ: Back in the U.S., a federal judge has cleared former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens of any wrongdoing related to Stevens' conviction for taking "freebies" from an oil company without reporting it. The judge also launched criminal proceedings against the government attorneys who prosecuted Stevens, saying they didn't turn over key evidence to Stevens' defense. Stevens has maintained his innocence for months.

And in Italy, the toll from Monday's deadly earthquake in the city of L'Aquila has climbed to over 200, with about a thousand others injured. Tension is still high in the region, especially after an aftershock Tuesday that registered a 5.6 magnitude. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says there are signs of damage on nearly every building in L'Aquila's historical center.

Impact Your World

AZUZ: The victims of this devastating earthquake are faced with rebuilding their town and their lives. Relief organizations are spearheading the recovery effort. If you want to get involved, head to the Spotlight section on our home page and click on the "Impact Your World" link. You'll see a list of the organizations and find out how you can help.

Is This Legit?

ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? Tigers are the largest living members of the cat family. Totally true! The biggest breed, the Siberian tiger, can weigh as much as 660 pounds!

Tiger Passports

AZUZ: There's one thing that every tiger has in common: being endangered. There are less than 5,000 in the entire world. That's down from 100,000 at the start of the 20th century. Dan Rivers explains how a new program aims to keep the population from getting smaller. Teachers, we ask that you please preview this segment. It contains images some students may find disturbing.


DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Forget walking the dog; this is tiger exercising, Thai style. The monks at this Buddhist temple have been raising tigers for ten years. Most of the cats were born here, some rescued from illegal private zoos. But now, they're part of a pilot project to help stop the illegal trade in tiger skins. These majestic animals are sometimes slaughtered simply so their pelts can be sold. This raid on a house also shows tiger meats ready for use in traditional medicine. Seizures of tiger remains like this pose a problem: How can the authorities prove where these tigers came from originally?

Well, cue the tiger temple. As well as giving tourists a chance to get scarily close, they're also the focus of a new pilot project. The aim: to eventually give every single tiger in Thailand its own virtual I.D. card, and the stripes are the key to how it'll work. These tigers are pretty difficult to distinguish, but actually, their stripes are like a human fingerprint, which makes them perfect for identifying each of these cats and can help prevent the illegal trade in wildlife.

Wildlife official Saksit Simcharoen's building up a database of tigers for the government, with photos of each animal's stripes. They're hoping new, special "stripe recognition" software will be available soon, so officials in the field can match a pelt with the I.D. cards quickly and easily.

SAKSIT SIMCHAROEN, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION OFFICIAL [TRANSLATED]: If possible, we would like all zoos or tiger farms to cooperate with us. In fact, it is not the law now, but it is something that can control smuggling.

RIVERS: They're even photographing wild tigers using camera traps, adding to the database of stripes. Each wild animal is incredibly rare.

CHATCHAWAN PISDAMKHAM, DIRECTOR, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION OFFICE: We hope that we still have wild tiger, about 300 for whole country. Very small population.

RIVERS: But there are many more captive tigers in Thailand, about 860.

ROD GONZALEZ, TIGER TEMPLE VOLUNTEER: This guy here, he is probably the best tempered cat in the temple, he's remarkable. At the end of the day, he is a tiger, but I don't think he'd ever hurt anybody.

RIVERS: But as volunteer warden Rod Gonzalez knows, the main problem is not tigers hurting people, it's people hurting tigers. These animals are in fact playful and seem almost gentle. It's hoped other less reputable tiger farms will be forced to adopt I.D. cards. The distinctive striped fur that tempts smugglers to kill them may become the one thing that, as Blake famously wrote, keeps them "burning bright." Dan Rivers, CNN, Kanchanaburi, Thailand.


ID Me!

NIVISON: See if you can I.D. Me! I premiered in 1933 in Camden, New Jersey. I reached the height of my popularity in the 1950s. I was the first way for people to watch a movie without ever leaving their cars. I'm the drive-in movie theater, and there are hundreds of me all around the U.S.

Drive-In Popularity

AZUZ: In fact, there's at least one in almost every state. If you've never been to a drive-in, it's less like stadium seating and more like stadium parking. And this outdoor entertainment is generating big bucks. Nick Montes of affiliate KTVN pulled into one Nevada drive-in to explore why some patrons prefer watching movies from the comfort of their cars.


NICK MONTES, KTVN REPORTER: Going to a drive-in theater is an American tradition that seems to have faded away. But the economy seems to be bringing people back to that tradition and spending quality time with each other.

AMY HIGHLANE, SUN VALLEY RESIDENT: I love coming to the drive-in. I've been coming since I was his age.

MONTES: Amy Highlane is trying to make the same tradition with her son Zachary that she once had with her mother when she was younger. The two are here to see the animated film "Aliens vs. Monsters." She says they didn't have to pay a monster price, even for a double feature, to enjoy some fun at the drive-in.

HIGHLANE: It's very affordable. It was $7.00 for us to get in. We stopped, got dinner on the way. It's much cheaper than going in and paying for the popcorn and the sodas and the candy and the tickets.

MONTES: It's the drive-in's affordability in this tough economy that many families are looking for. Even concessions like popcorn are inexpensive. A large is $4.75, and it comes with a refill.

STUART TAKEHARA, EL RANCHO DRIVE-IN : We've been here for a while, so our overhead isn't that high. So, we're lucky to be able to keep our prices low for everyone to come and enjoy every night.

MONTES: Theater officials say a family of four can get in for just under $15.00. That's a steal for Fern Manha and her family. She paid 40 bucks to get in. She brought her son and his friends on this Friday night to have fun.

FERN MANHA, SPARKS RESIDENT: There's seven of us total. That' all we can fit in our car. It's cheaper than going to the walk-in movie.


Facebook Promo

AZUZ: It's on a slightly smaller screen than a drive-in theater, but our new Facebook video is bound to be just as big of a hit! It answers some of the questions you've been asking on the official CNN Student News Facebook page... those of you who have been asking them, that is. So, log on and check it out!

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, when does someone's birthday top a world record? When the birthday is a world record! The woman at the middle of this celebration is Gertrude Baines. So, what's so special about her big day? Oh, she just happens to be older than every other person on the entire planet! She earned that title back in January, but this week, Gertrude turned 115! Which means the record books need some rewriting.



AZUZ: If she keeps this up, she might need to hire an age-nt. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.

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