(CNN Student News) -- September 16, 2009
Global Headlines - Go global for headlines that include an unannounced trip to Iraq.
Cell Phone Risk? - Hear why some medical experts suggest a decrease in cell phone use.
NASCAR Goes Green - Find out how NASCAR is fueling a push to be more eco-friendly.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Buckle up. I'm Carl Azuz and CNN Student News starts right now!
AZUZ: First up, Vice President Joe Biden makes a surprise visit to Iraq. During the trip, he was scheduled to meet the country's leaders and with U.S. troops. But there was a distraction when the International Zone in Baghdad came under fire. A CNN reporter said the vice president wasn't injured, but it wasn't clear whether he was actually near where the attack took place because reporters aren't allowed to discuss the VP's location. That's for security reasons. Mr. Biden arrived in the Middle Eastern nation on Tuesday. He said he made the trip, in part, to show support for the Iraqi government as it takes full control of its country. All U.S. combat troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by next August.
Staying in Iraq, you probably remember this moment you're seeing over my shoulder here. That happened last year, when an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at then President George W. Bush during a press conference in the Middle Eastern nation. Muntadhar al-Zaidi -- that's him there with the sunglasses and sash -- was released from prison yesterday. He was sentenced originally to serve one year for the shoe throwing incident, but he was released three months early on good behavior.
Moving back to the States, now. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a measure formally criticizing Rep. Joe Wilson for his outburst during President Obama's recent address to Congress. The vote was mostly along party lines, with 240 votes for and 179 against the measure. Most congressional Democrats say Wilson's actions were a serious violation of House rules. Many Republicans agree his outburst was inappropriate, but they think the measure is a distraction from more serious issues like health care. Wilson had already apologized to the president for his outburst, and he called yesterday's vote a waste of time.
And an update on Rifqa Bary, the Ohio teen whose religious conversion from Islam to Christianity gained national attention. Investigators say they've found no credible evidence that Bary's father threatened to kill her because of her conversion. That's the accusation that the 17 year old made, which she said led to her decision to run away from home. Law enforcement officials also said there is no evidence to support a history of abuse against Rifqa. A judge has ordered the teen and her parents to sit down with a mediator and try to see if they can come up with a resolution to the situation.
ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I'm a device that became available to the public in 1984. I work on frequency, and I'm used frequently. Some of my versions have included the brick, flip and slider. I'm the cell phone, and I'm used by billions of people around the world!
AZUZ: Everywhere you go, you're gonna see someone on a cell phone. Some medical experts say we should be using them less. That is because of research that suggests there could be a connection between cell phones and some potentially serious health concerns. These same experts admit the science is not conclusive though. Brian Todd rings in with details.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON, D.C.: Ellie Marks thinks it may be too late to save her husband, but she's determined to tell his story in Washington. Alan Marks has brain cancer, and Ellie says his doctors pin it on one device.
About how much did Alan use his cell phone?
ELLIE MARKS, HUSBAND HAS BRAIN CANCER: Alan used his cell phone a lot. It was glued to his ear. He's in the real estate industry. He used it probably about and average of 22 hours a month.
TODD: Marks concedes this was in the 1990s, when cell phones were bigger and emitted more radiation. But she's also concerned about current cell phones and so-called PDAs, personal digital assistants. And she's not alone. A new report from the Environmental Working Group warns of radiation risks and has a top-10 list. Motorola has five models on it; BlackBerry has two.
This is a BlackBerry Bold, one of the top-ten emitters of radiation on your list. What's wrong with phones like this, basically, according to your study?
RICHARD WILES, ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP: Those phones emit high levels of radiation that has been associated with increases in brain cancer in the most recent studies that looked at people who used cell phones for more than ten years.
TODD: The Environmental Working Group says it didn't test the phones itself, instead used existing data, and it admits the science is not definitive. To clarify, the study says these phones emit higher levels of radiation, but does not assert the phones themselves increase the risk of cancer. Contacted by CNN, Motorola issued a statement saying radiation levels in its products "Are within safe exposure limits." A representative for the BlackBerry manufacturer did not respond to our calls and e-mails. The Wireless Trade Association cites FDA and American Cancer Society studies showing no adverse health effects from wireless phones. A researcher from the National Institutes of Health who's studied the risks says some data concerns him, but when pressed:
TODD: Taken as a whole, with the studies that we're talking about and the ones that you've done, are these devices really emitting radiation levels that are concerning or unsafe?
JOHN BUCHER, NATIONAL TOXICOLOGY PROGRAM, NIH: Right now, I cannot answer that question. We just don't have the data to answer that question yet.
TODD: But the Environmental Working Group also has an issue with the safety standards put out by the government. It says standards set by the Federal Communications Commission are based on 1992 recommendations, and are very outdated. Contacted by CNN, the FCC said it has always relied on the advice of government health agencies for its safety standards, and it says so far, no agency has suggested that the standards on wireless devices be changed. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
NIVISON: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mr. Dennis' civics classes at Miami Springs Middle School in Miami Springs, Florida! In what city was NASCAR founded? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Indianapolis, B) Charlotte, C) Detroit or D) Daytona Beach? Start your engines -- GO! NASCAR was officially founded 61 years ago in Daytona Beach, Florida. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: NASCAR is one of the most popular sports in the world! And in racing you burn gas, you burn rubber and you tear up track. But NASCAR is concerned about how all that might impact the planet. So Brianna Keilar is showing us how it's giving the green flag to going green.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON, D.C.: For a sport centered around cars that get about five miles per gallon, NASCAR is an unlikely incubator for some eco-friendly practices. At races, all used tires are shredded. Each year, 180,000 gallons of oil and automotive fluids are recycled.
MIKE LYNCH, NASCAR GREEN INITIATIVE COORDINATOR: All the fluids in these cars except for the coolant, because the coolant is actually just water, so that's environmentally friendly. But everything else, Safety Clean captures up to 180,000 gallons per year.
KEILAR: The oil in a stock car could be used for, for what?
LYNCH: It can be used in fleets, in cars, recycled oil.
KEILAR: NASCAR recently hired Mike Lynch to coordinate its new green initiative. He's trying to lessen the environmental impact of racing cars, but his major focus is beyond the track.
LYNCH: Imagine this venue full with 125,000 people, and all of the ways that they got here. What goes on on the track is maybe 5 percent of that.
KEILAR: NASCAR races are like small cities: thousands of fans, thousands of cars, tons of trash. Four tons of bottles and cans. How many bottle and cans is that?
JOHN BURGESS, COCA-COLA RECYCLING: It's about a million, a million and a half containers.
KEILAR: Here at Richmond International Raceway, that gets recycled. But only about one third of NASCAR's racetracks recycle, though officials say all of them will within the next few years. And they add, trying to offset what happens in and around the track is just one part of their strategy. The sport is hanging much of the success of its greening efforts on changing the everyday behavior of its fans. And that's where the drivers come in.
BRIAN VICKERS, NASCAR DRIVER: I love the environment. I love enjoying the outdoors. I wanna make sure it's still there for my kids and grandkids.
KEILAR: Brian Vickers, driver of the number 83 car, is one of the sport's young talents. His personal car is a hybrid, and he buys carbon credits to offset the environmental impact of his three homes. Since NASCAR fans are infamous for their loyalty to the brands that sponsor their drivers, Vickers thinks he and others might be able to sell them on eco-consciousness as well.
VICKERS: There is a connection in this sport to the fans unlike any other, and I'm excited about that. I think that presents an opportunity for this industry to make a bigger impact than any other.
KEILAR: The potential is there, but even Jeff Gordon, one of the biggest names in racing, will tell you the sport needs to do more to sell fans on a greener lifestyle.
JEFF GORDON, NASCAR DRIVER: I think there's a lot more we can be doing, and I think that the fans would appreciate that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we go, a parade makes an unexpected pit stop, especially since the parade was a cattle drive! These curious cows wandered off the route and into a nearby gas station. Just doing a little bovine browsing. But then check this out: Cowboys literally ride in to the rescue! Whoo, doggies! The rodeo round-up took a while, but they eventually did herd the cows back out the door.
AZUZ: And brought an end to the amoo-sing experience. We won't udder another word on the matter. We'll just see you tomorrow for more CNN Student News.