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CNN Student News Transcript: May 21, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Find out why plans to close a military prison are on hold
  • Consider the potential impact of a failure in the GPS
  • Celebrate the 120th birthday of a towering Paris landmark
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(CNN Student News) -- May 21, 2009

Quick Guide

Senate Votes on Prison - Find out why plans to close a military prison are on hold.

GPS Failure? - Consider the potential impact of a failure in the GPS.

Tower Turns 120 - Celebrate the 120th birthday of a towering Paris landmark.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: From Cuba to Paris and even space, we're ready to hit the road with today's edition CNN Student News. Thank you for coming along, I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Senate Votes on Prison

AZUZ: First up, the U.S. Senate votes not to fund President Obama's plan to transfer military detainees from Cuba to the U.S. It was one of his first official acts as president, Mr. Obama announcing his intention to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay by next January. But Congress, including many members of the president's own party, say they want more details before they'll approve funding for a plan. Dana Bash explores the issue.


DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay may be released, transferred or imprisoned anywhere in the U.S. That directive passed the Senate by a stunningly lopsided margin: 90-6. A blow to the president and a stark indication of how uneasy this explosive issues makes lawmakers, even Democratic leaders like Byron Dorgan.

SEN. BYRON DORGAN, (D) NORTH DAKOTA: Because I'm not very interested in transferring detainees from Gitmo to North Dakota. I'm sure many of my colleagues feel the same way. But first, let's see what kind of a plan the president proposes, and then we'll move forward.

BASH: FBI director Robert Mueller appeared to affirm senators' concerns, telling Congress bringing detainees to the U.S. does pose risks, even if they're behind bars.

ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: The concerns we have about individuals who may support terrorism being in the United States run from concerns about providing financing to terrorists radicalizing others.

BASH: Still, in the raging battle over what to do with Guantanamo prisoners, some lawmakers say they have no problem putting them in federal prisons.

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D) MISSOURI: As a former prosecutor, I am aware of the kind of people that we put behind bars in this country. They give terrorists a run for their money in terms of being bad, bad, dangerous people.

BASH: But in Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson's office, most callers on this issue say...

SEN. BEN NELSON, (D) NEBRASKA: Not to bring them to Nebraska. So, I think that might be true almost everywhere.

BASH: Nelson admits there is a "not in my backyard" fear factor at play, but says it's just inappropriate to imprison and try Guantanamo suspects in the federal system.

NELSON: I don't think the American people will stand for bringing a bunch of detainees for prosecution over here, and it's in many ways that simple.


I.D. Me!

GEORGE RAMSAY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! For years, I've been saving lives and creating thousands of jobs. I work with a network of 24 satellites that circle the earth. A lot of people use me simply to find out where they're going. I'm GPS, the Global Positioning System, and I'm running 24 hours a day.

GPS Failure?

AZUZ: A new report says the GPS may not be running so smoothly as soon as next year. That's because some of those 24 satellites are in danger of failing. For you and for me, disruption to the GPS might be a little frustrating. We might be late getting to a friend's house. But as Elaine Quijano explains, for the military, which created and still uses the system, the consequences could be more severe.


GPS DEVICE: Turn left.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON, D.C.: From cars to emergency call centers, the Global Positioning System has transformed the way Americans live and work. But a report by the Government Accountability Office says some military and civilian users of GPS could be adversely affected unless the Air Force, which maintains the system, gets new replacement satellites soon.

ALAN CAMERON, GPS WORLD: Some of the satellites on orbit have been up there since 1992. They've lived well beyond their design life. It's anybody's guess as to when some of them might fail.

QUIJANO: Experts say for most people, a failure would have no discernible impact on, say, getting directions to the local coffee shop. But military operations need accuracy down to centimeters. Congressman John Tierney, who sits on the House Oversight Committee, says that could affect national security.

REP. JOHN TIERNEY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: We don't want to take the risk of having the wrong blind spot at the wrong time.

QUIJANO: Congressman Tierney says that's why he recently held a hearing on the matter, to keep government officials on schedule and on budget for maintaining the GPS satellites. In a statement, Air Force officials said they're committed to maintaining at least their current level of service, while striving to improve service and capability through ongoing modernization efforts. Elaine Quijano, CNN, Washington.


Education Across the Border

AZUZ: Changing things up now, some of you may have to travel a little ways to get to school. But students at one Texas institution have to come from another country, and they do it every day! The Lydia Patterson Institute is in El Paso, Texas, but about 70 percent of its students live across the border in Juarez, Mexico. This is completely legal. Some of the students are American citizens with Mexican parents; others are Mexican citizens with student visas. The school offers a safe haven from the drug violence that's raging in Juarez, and for students, it provides a sense of security and stability.

MARINA DIAZ, LYDIA PATTERSON INSTITUTE STUDENT: When I cross the bridge, I feel like I'm in another home, like I have a home in Juarez and a home here. My school is a home for me, 'cause I have the teachers and they treat me like the parents, they take care of me. And then I come home to Juarez, and there are my real parents. I don't feel like it's two countries, but I feel like it's two homes.


RAMSAY: Time for the Shoutout! Which of these structures is the tallest? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it the: A) Washington Monument, B) Eiffel Tower, C) Statue of Liberty or D) Pyramids of Giza? You've got three seconds -- GO! At 984 feet, the Eiffel Tower stands tallest. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Tower Turns 120

AZUZ: And that looming landmark is celebrating a big birthday this week: 120 years old! Not bad for a design that actually started out as part of a contest. It only took about two years to build the Eiffel Tower, but in the 120 years since then, it's become one of the most famous icons on the planet. Jim Bitterman pays tribute to the "Iron Lady."


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENT, PARIS: It is, arguably, the most identifiable structure on the planet. Certainly one of the most visited; nearly a quarter of a billion people in 120 years. And a 7,300 ton example of a French "folie," an architectural extravagance with not a lot of practical use. In fact "useless and monstrous" is the way the arts community back in 1889 described the rising bucket of bolts -- well, actually two-and-a-half million rivets -- as it grew on the Paris skyline. Critics wanted it torn down. Even Gustav Eiffel himself described it as a "300 meter flag pole." But then radio came along, and someone decided it would make a great antenna, a utility the Eiffel Tower maintains to this day for both radio and television. But the "Iron Lady," as the tower came to be known, really is most important as something to get to, a destination. And while it may have been built long before man created "branding," it is the trademark of Paris.

NICOLA LEFEBVRE, EIFFEL TOWER DIRECTOR: It's a very strange building, with no real use at the time it was built, and in the same time, which is very important for everybody now.

BITTERMANN: Paris without the Eiffel Tower? It's unthinkable.

SAM HIMWEL, TOURIST: Paris wouldn't be Paris.

MONY MOLLER, TOURIST: It belongs to Paris.

BITTERMANN: But the real enemy of the Eiffel Tower is not the critics or the wear and tear from all the tourists, but rather the weather, specifically the rust. It takes a terrible toll on the iron structure and has to be repainted every seven years with 60 tons of paint. And so, as all gathered around to celebrate the birthday of Paris's majestic and longstanding hunk of iron, perhaps a few in the crowd were remembering the words from the lead character in the play Cyrano de Bergerac: It's even more beautiful exactly because it's useless. Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.



AZUZ: Speaking of birthdays, we have our own coming up. CNN Student News is turning 20 this fall! We have a lot of stuff planned to celebrate, but we want you, especially you teachers, to take part. We're looking for iReports explaining how you use our show, how long you've been using it, how awesome you think it is! You could see yourself on the show. We won't even make you get your parents' permission. Find out how to put together and submit your iReports at!

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, a scientific discovery goes old school. And we mean really old, like 47 million years. Say hello to Ida. Hi, Ida. Researchers have spent the past two years studying the ancient fossil, which is about the size of a small cat. Ida was originally discovered in Germany in 1983. What's interesting about her is how complete she is, except, no one figured that out for a while because she was split into two parts.



AZUZ: But eventually, scientists were able to put the pieces together. And if you were to ask us: if that was the best pun you could come up with? Ida-know. But I do know we will see you back tomorrow to close out the week. Bye-bye now.

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