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CNN Student News Transcript: May 22, 2009

  • Story Highlights
  • Find out why hurricane hunters fly into storms in the name of science
  • Consider whether Michael Vick should be allowed back in pro football
  • Explore the meaning of Memorial Day and the history of this holiday
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(CNN Student News) -- May 22, 2009

Quick Guide

Hurricane Hunter - Find out why hurricane hunters fly into storms in the name of science.

Redeeming Vick - Consider whether Michael Vick should be allowed back in pro football.

Memorial Day - Explore the meaning of Memorial Day and the history of this holiday.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: You know how we feel about Fridays here on CNN Student News. We're glad you've chosen to tune in and check out the show. I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Obama vs. Cheney

AZUZ: First up, political heavyweights offer opposing views on the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. President Obama wants to close the facility and move many of the detainees being held there to prisons in the United States. Yesterday, he pledged not to release any detainees who might pose a threat to the U.S. But he believes leaving the Guantanamo facility open poses its own threat.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Rather than keep us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies. It sets back the willingness of our allies to work with us in fighting an enemy that operates in scores of countries. By any measure, the costs of keeping it open far exceed the complications involved in closing it.

AZUZ: Former Vice President Dick Cheney disagrees. He's criticized Obama's decision to close the prison and says the president's plan would weaken the country's ability to combat extremists.

FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half measures keep you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States. You must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States.


GEORGE RAMSAY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mr. Smith's World History classes at Lee High School in Springfield, Virginia. When does the Atlantic hurricane season officially begin? Is it: A) May 1, B) May 31, C) June 1 or D) June 30? You've got three seconds -- GO! Hurricane season kicks off on June 1; it ends on November 30. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Hurricane Hunter

AZUZ: Predictions are in for this year's hurricane season and NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says it should be about normal. The agency is forecasting nine to 14 named storms. They predict four to seven of those will turn into hurricanes, with one to three becoming major storms. Just to compare, last year, we had 16 named storms. Eight became hurricanes, five of which were major. Scientists are able to make these predictions, in part, based on information they learn from flying into these storms. iReporter James Brierton has more on the hurricane hunters.


JAMES BRIERTON, IREPORTER: Some light rain here on Long Island; nothing for the crew of the Hurricane Hunter aircraft behind me, who are used to flying through some of our most severe hurricanes to get the National Weather Service the latest information. They stopped here at Republic Airport as part of their week-long severe weather tour. NOAA's Lockheed WP-3D Orion Turboprop aircraft slices through a hurricane, as nerves inside rattle with every wake of turbulence.

AL GIRIMONTE, "HURRICANE HUNTER" PILOT: Because as a pilot, I was trained to fly to stay away from bad weather, and now that's my mission, to fly into bad weather. The plane itself is just a 1976 P3. It's not structurally enhanced at all. There's a lot of scientific gear in the back that makes it special, but up here, it's pretty much an airliner.

BRIERTON: Once inside, the HH crew releases a probe to measure the storm's power. The data is then sent back to the Hurricane Center in Miami. Long Island hasn't seen a major hurricane in over two decades, but the threat still remains

BILL READ, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: The problem you have here is just like you imagined. You can go a whole generation without substantial impact from a hurricane, so it becomes a story rather than something someone lived. I think the challenge there is convincing people that this threat is real for them. Even though it's a rare event, it will happen again.

GIRIMONTE: So, we come up here to remind people, "Don't let your guard down." It's been a while since Long Island's been hit by one. Who knows what this season will bring?

BRIERTON: At Republic Airport on Long Island, I'm James Brierton, iReport for CNN.


Redeeming Vick

AZUZ: From Long Island to Virginia, where football star Michael Vick is home after serving 21 months in a federal prison. Two years ago, Vick pleaded guilty to financing a dogfighting operation. He could return to pro football as soon as September, but does Vick deserve a second chance in the NFL? Here's Carol Costello to explore the issue.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Call it Michael Vick's "great big redemption challenge." There are those who say the former superstar hasn't paid quite enough for his dogfighting sins. Humiliation, prison and $3.7 million-plus in legal fees are not nearly enough, not for the privilege of making a living in the NFL again. To do that, the National Football League says Vick must show "...genuine remorse..."

RADIO 790 "THE ZONE" CALLER: Everybody is entitled to a second chance...

COSTELLO: At Atlanta's sports radio 790, "The Zone," some football fans who once revered Vick think he's paid his dues. After all, Vick did show remorse before he went to prison for 21 months.

MICHAEL VICK, FORMER ATLANTA FALCONS QUARTERBACK: First, I want to apologize for all the things that I've done.

COSTELLO: But for the animal rights group PETA, Vick's apologies don't add up to "genuine remorse."

DAN SHANNON, PETA SPOKESMAN: We think that Michael Vick has lost the privilege of having his remorse, if he does choose to express it, taken at face value. And we feel that we do need to see some evidence that he's capable of it and that it's genuine, before it can be taken seriously.

COSTELLO: PETA wants Vick to undergo a brain scan to see if he's capable of remorse.

STEAK SHAPIRO, CO-HOST, 790 "THE ZONE": What authority does PETA have? You have guys busted on coke, vehicular homicide, domestic abuse; they get in front of the commissioner. Nobody is taking a brain scan to Roger Goodell to show the authenticity of their remorse, and Michael Vick ain't doing it either. So, that whole notion is preposterous.

COSTELLO: And there's the thing: The NFL has re-instated lawbreakers before.

RAY LEWIS, RAVENS FOOTBALL PLAYER: I'm angry; I'm mad at myself.

COSTELLO: In 2000, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in a murder case. In 2005, Ravens running back Jamal Lewis went to prison on drug charges. Both are now NFL superstars.

MICHAEL MCCANN, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: I don't know if it's hypocrisy, but it certainly seems as if Michael Vick has been targeted as the greatest villain around.

COSTELLO: And there are plenty who understand why. Animal rights groups say Vick viciously abused animals who could not fight back: dogs. And you know many in America consider dogs members of the family.


Blog Promo

AZUZ: You've heard both sides of the argument, now it's time for you to make the call. Should Michael Vick be allowed to play professional football again? Head to our blog at and sound off with your opinions.

Memorial Day

AZUZ: For the past 140 years, America has set aside a day to pay tribute to men and women who have lost their lives while serving in the armed forces. Of course, it is Memorial Day, and it's coming up on Monday. We'll be off the air in observance of the occasion. Right now, we're taking a look at the evolution of this holiday.


PERSON ON STREET: He was in the service for 27 years. He did a great service to his country. He joined right out of high school.

SPEC. THOMAS WEBER, U.S. ARMY: I'll remember them as five guys who were doing their jobs, who were doing what they raised their right hand and swore to do.

AZUZ: And that is the purpose of Memorial Day: to honor those who've served our country and are no longer with us. The time period or conflict doesn't matter. Politics don't play a part. The holiday itself goes back to the Civil War. It was originally known as Decoration Day, named for the flowers placed on the graves of Union and Confederate troops. In 1868, General John Logan, who headed up an organization of Union veterans, pushed for this day to be observed on May 30, and so it was for more than a century. But after World War I, Americans began observing this day in honor of all U.S. troops who'd fallen in all conflicts. That gave rise to the name "Memorial Day," and in 1971, Congress, in order to create a three-day weekend, established the holiday as the last Monday in May. This year, as always, you'll see American traditions observed at Arlington National Cemetery, in addition to religious ceremonies, parades and events across the country. They'll share a common theme regarding the nation's fallen and those still serving.

WILLIAM FRANK, VIETNAM VETERAN: If they are sent, and when they are in harm's way, do everything, everything to support them and let them do their mission.

RETIRED ARMY GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY: All of us here will again be reunited with these brave soldiers, who we remember the last time we saw them, when they were alive, frozen in time, their youth, their optimism.

AZUZ: ...their memory.


Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go today, they say lightning never strikes the same place twice. The Seattle Space Needle begs to differ. It took not one, not two, but three hits during a storm earlier this week. Of course, when you're a giant, metal needle that literally functions as a lightning rod, it could happen. The building's designed for it though, so the electrifying experience is harmless to anyone who happens to be inside.



AZUZ: All the same, it makes for some shocking video. Okay, well we have two more Shoutouts on the way! They're coming up Sunday. So watch CNN Sunday Morning at around 8:40 a.m. Eastern to see them. And we will be right back here next Tuesday!

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