(CNN Student News) -- September 14, 2009
Tea Party Protests - Find out what kind of "party" is protesting a presidential priority.
Tradition Threatened - Discover how a virus is prompting France to bid adieu to the kiss.
Conversion Controversy - Get the facts on why a religious conversion is making national headlines.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: One European country is kissing an old tradition good-bye, at least temporarily. We're gonna explain the reason why in today's CNN Student News. Hello everyone. I'm Carl Azuz.
AZUZ: First up, protesters take to the streets of Washington, as the Tea Party Express rolls into town. This thing is an actual bus, but it's also a group that's speaking out against what it sees as out-of-control government spending. It's been using the bus to spread that message at rallies across the country. Saturday, the Express pulled into D.C., where a crowd of demonstrators marched to the steps of the U.S. Capitol and protested against things like higher taxes and parts of President Obama's health care reform plan.
Meanwhile, the president spent part of the weekend pushing for that reform in general. At a rally in Minnesota, he said the health care plan he proposed last week will help people who don't have insurance and help people who do. He also said the country is closer to reform than ever before.
AZUZ: On Friday, the president took part in a memorial at the Pentagon on the eighth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. It was just one of many ceremonies marking this event. Memorials at the former site of the World Trade Center in New York included a moment of silence. The city's mayor also praised the newly established "National Day of Service and Remembrance." Half a world away, U.S. troops in Afghanistan held ceremonies as well, honoring the lives of those people killed on 9/11 and service members who have died in battle since then.
AZUZ: In California, firefighters gathered at a memorial on Saturday to honor two of their own. Ted Hall and Arnie Quinones were killed last month trying to find an escape route for their crew while battling the Station Fire. During his speech at the ceremony, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger praised the two men and their courage. The Station Fire has been burning since August 26th. It is the largest blaze in the history of Los Angeles county, but as of Saturday evening, it was about 84 percent contained.
AZUZ: That same state, California, offered a landing strip for the space shuttle Discovery on Friday, as its crew returned from a 13-day mission to the international space station. Normally, the shuttle would touch down at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but bad weather scrapped those plans. There is a downside to landing on the west coast. It adds an extra week and an extra million dollars to get the shuttle back to Florida and ready for its next mission.
NINETTE SOSA, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I'm a European country that's a little smaller than the state of Texas. I was established as a nation more than 1,100 years ago. My current president is Nicolas Sarkozy. I'm France, and I'm home to about 62 million people.
AZUZ: And it's a country that seems comfortable showing its affection. Case in point? How many of those millions say hello: la bise, that double-cheek kiss. But the French government is asking its citizens to bid adieu to la bise, because it wants to help prevent the spread of a potentially dangerous virus. Jim Bittermann examines the possibilities of passing on puckering up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENT, PARIS: It has not gone without notice that France is a land which puts a certain value on physical contact. Hands get shaken, hands get kissed, business leaders kiss business leaders, politicians kiss politicians. It is part of the social fabric here, woven in at the very youngest age. Pigs would fly, one observer said in effect, before the French could ever give up such social graces. But then, swine flu.
From official publicity campaigns about the way the virus can multiply, to directives to avoid practically any close encounters of the corporal kind, the country is being put on alert as the flu season gets underway. In schools, it's being called the kissless return to class. Teachers are telling their young charges that instead of doing the "bises," as French cheek kisses are called, they should greet each other the way Indians do in the movies, with the word "How," or the French equivalent thereof, and save their displays of affection in kiss boxes. Restraint that is somewhat easier to sell to the really young than their older brothers and sisters.
But some things are selling. Namely masks, which in themselves would pretty well discourage just about any sort of kissing, and bottle after bottle of antiseptic hand wash to avoid the nightmare of unintended viral transmission. At a phone bank set up by the Ministry of Health, they are getting a thousand calls a day from all over the country from people who want to know the symptoms and what to do when they've got them. As for physical contact, the recommendations are clear.
PASCALE BASQUIN, GROUPE ACTICALL: No shaking hands, no kissing.
BITTERMANN: So, does this mean the flu will stop tradition cold? A French expert observes that her countrymen do not always do as they are told.
CAMILLE HERCOT, FRENCH STUDIES PROFESSOR: So, if it's really important and if there are rules in the offices or if they get very scared, they will. But otherwise, they will say, "Pfffff."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Word to the Wise
SOSA: A Word to the Wise...
conversion (noun) a change from one religion, belief or viewpoint to another
AZUZ: One Ohio teen's conversion has gained national attention and raised a bit of controversy. The 17 year old ran away to Florida because she says her parents threatened her after she converted from Islam to Christianity. The parents say that accusation is untrue. And now, a judge has gotten involved in the situation. Susan Candiotti has the details.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN MIAMI-BASED CORRESPONDENT: If there's one thing all sides agree on...
RIFQA BARY, RUNAWAY TEEN: I'm fighting for my life. You guys don't understand. They don't understand.
CANDIOTTI: It's that Ohio teen runaway Rifqa Bary appears to be one frightened girl.
RIFQA BARY: They have to kill me.
CANDIOTTI: She says her parents want to kill her for converting from Islam to Christianity.
Your daughter says that at one point, you held up a laptop and said, "I'm going to kill you."
MOHAMED BARY, FATHER: It's not at all true. It's not at all true. I have never hit my child.
CANDIOTTI: Rifqa's parents say the 17 year old first talked about being a Christian at age 14 to get babysitting jobs.
MOHAMED BARY: We did not fight over it. We discussed it and that was it.
CANDIOTTI: A couple of years later, Rifqa joined Internet Christian prayer groups, including this one on Facebook run by a college missionary student.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, FRIEND: She shared with me her testimony of how she became a Christian.
CANDIOTTI: Brian Williams says he sometimes met the teenager at a prayer group near Ohio State University, and baptized her at her request. Williams says after Rifqa's dad allegedly threatened her, she announced on Facebook she was running away. Rifqa's parents insist she's free to be a Christian. They say they even allowed their daughter to be a high school cheerleader, wearing short skirts and no head scarf. An anti-Muslim extremist group, the Florida Security Council, says Rifqa's case deserves all the attention it can get.
TOM TRENTO, FLORIDA SECURITY COUNCIL: Publicity is a double-edged sword. On one sense, the story is getting out, and more and more people are in this position, and seeing it, and she wants the story out. So, the positive benefits outweigh the negative possibilities of a sudden jihad syndrome, jihadi running around and trying to kill her.
CANDIOTTI: At the family's Ohio mosque, supporters insist they don't advocate honor killing and say it's not in the Koran.
DR. ASMA MOBIN-UDDIN, NOOR OUTREACH COMMITTEE: I really fear that the longer this goes on, and the more hype and hoopla and things, the more difficult it's going to be for her to reconcile with her family in the future.
MOHAMED BARY: I want to say to my daughter, I love you. I want you to come back home. It is safe for you. Nobody will harm you.
CANDIOTTI: A Florida juvenile court judge has sealed a long investigative report looking into the alleged threat. But instead of scheduling a trial, that judge has instead ordered all sides to get together for a mediation to try to work things out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AZUZ: We thought that report might get you talking. You heard a lot of perspectives in it. We want to hear yours. What do you think about Rifqa's conversion and the controversy that followed? Do you think the judge's idea of getting everyone together to try and work things out is going to be effective? And what sort of solution would you have had? You can weigh in with your thoughts on all of this on our blog. You'll find that at CNNStudentNews.com. And remember, please use only your first names because your first names are all we need.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we go today, it's something, it kinda seemed like a good idea at first. It's one zoo's creative way to beat the heat: a giant popsicle! From the looks of this leopard, it's a great idea. You'd think that massive mound of ice would be enough for multiple leopards. But when another cat wants in, things turn ugly. Yeah, that is not the face of someone who wants to share his popsicle. Seriously, back off. This is your last warning. Alright, that's it. It's on! Now, if you think this is really odd that you would have all this discord over a simple popsicle...
AZUZ: ...you gotta understand that some people can be so catty. We're gonna turn tail and run for now, but we'll be back tomorrow with more CNN Student News. Hope to see you then. I'm Carl Azuz.