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CNN Student News Transcript: April 20, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Observe how a short exchange raised eyebrows at an international conference
  • Understand why U.S. officials are concerned about a U.S. journalist in Iran
  • Watch sport and science come together at a robotics competition in Atlanta
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(CNN Student News) -- April 20, 2009

Quick Guide

Summit of the Americas - Observe how a short exchange raised eyebrows at an international conference.

Journalist Sentenced - Understand why American officials are concerned about a U.S. journalist in Iran.

FIRST Robotics - Watch sport and science come together at a robotics competition in Atlanta.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: A competition where the contestants are mostly made of metal? We'll put the pieces together in today's edition of CNN Student News. Hope you had a great weekend. I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Summit of the Americas

AZUZ: First up, a gift given to President Obama grabs attention at the Summit of the Americas. That's because it came from Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela. He's spoken out harshly against the U.S. numerous times. One Republican senator says it's "irresponsible" for President Obama to be seen laughing and joking with "one of the most anti-American leaders in the entire world." Obama says he disagrees with Chavez on many issues, but he believes improving the relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela won't harm U.S. interests. Suzanne Malveaux wraps up the conference.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Call it the diplomatic book club. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez reaches out to President Obama with a handshake and a paperback. When asked a little later, Obama responds in good humor.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You know, I thought it was one of Chavez's books. I was gonna give him one of mine.

MALVEAUX: In front of a clamouring international press, the exchange stole the show. The book, "The Open Veins of Latin America," documents centuries of American and European exploitation of the region.

OFF-CAMERA REPORTER: Is the president going to read his new book?

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's in Spanish, so that might be a tad on the difficult side.

MALVEAUX: And U.S. officials say it will take much more than pleasantries to change relations.

JEFFREY DAVIDOW, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER, SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS: A shake and a smile does not constitute a new relationship. We have a strained relationship with Venezuela. I think what we have to do is rebuild a civil relationship.

Downloadable Maps

MALVEAUX: Chavez, who once called President Bush the devil, has been one the U.S.' fiercest critics, most notably on Cuba. Like Chavez, many Latin American leaders here are openly pressing Mr. Obama to bring Cuba back into the fold, normalize relations and lift the trade embargo. Mr. Obama said he was encouraged by Cuban President Raul Castro's offer for talks, but also wanted to see action on democratic reforms.

OBAMA: I think we are making progress at the summit.

MALVEAUX: U.S. officials caution that decades of tension with the communist regime will take a good deal of time to change.

MIKE HAMMER, SPOKESMAN, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: We'll just have to see what happens in the next few days and weeks in terms of how the Castro government decides to proceed.

MALVEAUX: Notably, one of President Obama's top economic advisors is on this trip, Larry Summers, and Summers tells us that the number one priority for all Latin American leaders is the success of the U.S. economy, because it has such a huge impact on their ability to export their goods and to employ their people. Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, Trinidad.


Journalist Sentenced

AZUZ: President Obama also says he's concerned about the safety of Roxana Saberi, and that he's confident she wasn't working as a spy. That's exactly what she's been convicted of in Iran. That country's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says he wants to make sure that Saberi has a fair chance to appeal her sentence. Rosemary Church fills us in on the details of this delicate situation.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: American freelance journalist Roxana Saberi has been sentenced to eight years in prison, the penalty, the court says, for working as a spy for the United States. Saberi had been living in Tehran, freelancing for a number of organizations, including National Public Radio. She was writing a book when she was arrested in January. First, she was accused of buying a bottle of wine, forbidden in the Islamic nation. Then, she was told she was working without a press permit. Then, a couple of weeks ago, a new charge.

ROBERT WOOD, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We are deeply concerned about the Iranian government announcement that Roxana Saberi has been charged with espionage.

CHURCH: Iran says Saberi confessed, but her father says that was a trick. She was told she'd be released if she cooperated. The trial was held behind closed doors and lasted just one day. Washington made its position clear earlier this week.

WOOD: These charges, as I said yesterday, are baseless, without foundation. And we've been very concerned about the transparency of this judicial process. And, you know, just to emphasize again, we're going to work to try to get her released. And we call on the Iranians to provide as much information as they can to us about Roxana Saberi, and go from there.

CHURCH: Saberi's parents traveled to Iran from the U.S. weeks ago. The father has promised to stay put until their daughter is released. Rosemary Church, CNN, Atlanta.


Word to the Wise


commemorate (verb) to remember something; to be a memorial



AZUZ: This week, Americans are commemorating the 14th anniversary of the deadly attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The bombing claimed the lives of 168 people. More than 500 others were injured by the blast. Yesterday's ceremonies took place at the memorial which was built on the site where the federal building stood before the attack.

America also honors the victims of a deadly shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. That attack took place ten years ago and shined a spotlight on the issue of school safety. A memorial to those who lost their lives in that tragedy was unveiled two years ago at a park near the school.

And Captain Richard Phillips is back home in Vermont after his recent ordeal with pirates off the coast of Somalia. He was held hostage for days before being rescued by U.S. Navy forces earlier this month. Phillips thanked members of the military and said that they are the heroes, not him.

Extra Credit Promo

AZUZ: Well, if you've looked at our Facebook page recently, you know we get a lot of requests for Shoutouts, and we give some of them out on Sundays! How's that? It is Extra Credit, a new segment with yours truly airing on CNN around 8:40 every Sunday morning. We share some of your thoughts about what's in the news. We use comments from our blog and the official CNN Student News Facebook page. And we give out shoutouts - usually around two of them. So, we'd love for you to tune in Sunday morning for some Extra Credit and see if your class makes the cut. If you missed it this Sunday, you can check it out in the Spotlight section on!

Is This Legit?

RAMSAY: Is this legit? The word robot is an acronym that stands for Remote Operated Biologically Ordered Technology. Nope! In fact, robot isn't an acronym at all. It comes from the Czech word robota, which means compulsory labor.

FIRST Robotics

AZUZ: Students from around the country have labored to build their own robots as part of that contest we mentioned at the start of today's show. It's called the FIRST Robotics Competition. It stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology and it's part science, part sport. Teams have six weeks to build a machine designed to solve a common problem. Check out some of the action from this year's championships right now.


TIM BERRY, PARENT/MENTOR: They have to brainstorm: What are we going to make this robot look like? How are we going to make it pick up the balls, collect them, how are we going to get them into the trailers? There are so many ways of doing it.

CATHERINE FUKUI, SPACE COOKIES TEAM: Yeah, it is really fun. I mean, you get to use what we have learned at school to apply to building a physical object like this. I would have never thought I would have joined the robotics team.

ADAM RISLEY, ROBOWRANGLERS TEAM: We just enjoy socializing with all the teams here.

KERI PORTER, ROBOWRANGLERS TEAM: It is my first year. My brother was actually on the team, so I have kind of seen it and got really interested in it. I am sucked in now. I can't get out.

CHARLES WENSEL, ROBOWRANGLERS TEAM: As far as the ball path goes, we have two ways of loading. We can either human player load -- we can throw balls into the top here -- or we can pick up off the ground down here.

GREG HARPER, MENTOR: This is what is generating our future engineers. This is the bedrock of our country going forward.

WENSEL: I really hope to become a mechanical engineer.

RISLEY: The competition can be nerve wracking, but it is always fun. Always have fun. Whether we lose or win, it's just an awesome experience.


Before We Go

AZUZ: Awesome indeed. Before we go, if you ever get a chance to work in news, you're gonna find out that surveillance camera's can be awesome. You're gonna see it in this story. A convenience store customer conveniently comes to the rescue. At first, the guy you saw looked like he's shopping for something to snack on. You can see now, that is not the case. He was craving what was in the cash register. But the guy in the back steps up from the booth, leaps into action, you don't want to see that coming at you. Heb grabbed a stepstool and wailed on the would-be robber. The guy got away, but not without suffering some serious punishment and dropping some cash on his way out the door.



AZUZ: All thanks to a customer who really stepped up. That's the last hit in today's show. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.

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