(CNN Student News) -- September 23, 2009
Leaders Talk Climate Change - Discover some of the topics addressed by the U.N. General Assembly.
Southeast Flooding - Witness the impact of severe flooding across the southeastern U.S.
Troops in Afghanistan - Consider different opinions on how to fight the war in Afghanistan.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: The U.N. General Assembly is in session, and so is this edition of CNN Student News. Bringing you today's commercial-free headlines, I'm Carl Azuz.
AZUZ: First up, representatives from nearly 200 countries come together in New York to talk about global issues. This is called the United Nations General Assembly, and the decisions and resolutions that it makes set the agenda for a lot of what the U.N. works on throughout the year. One of the biggest focuses for this gathering is climate change. Secretary General Ban ki Moon calls it one of the most important issues of the 21st century. He's hoping that countries will work on ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which many scientists believe contribute to climate change.
During speeches yesterday, President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, who lead the countries that give off the most greenhouse gases, pledged to try to reduce them. Neither leader offered a specific timeframe for this, but both said they plan to cut greenhouse gases and increase the use of clean energy sources.
President Obama also touched on another controversial issue yesterday: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Peace talks between the two groups have fizzled out recently, but Obama is urging both sides to come back to the negotiating table and work on a permanent solution. He met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday in an effort to restart discussions between these two.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Despite all the mistrust, we have to find a way forward. We have to summon the will to break the deadlock that has trapped generations of Israelis and Palestinians in an endless cycle of conflict and suffering.
SONNY PERDUE, GOVERNOR OF GEORGIA: This has been a 48-hour ordeal that people had been, stayed here and to care for the safety of people. I just want to thank them. I want to thank those firefighters and first responders all across Georgia, from the east and Stevens county, to the west in Paulding and Carroll and Douglas, and in Cherokee in northwest Georgia. This has been a huge effort.
AZUZ: Okay, that was Georgia's Gov. Sonny Perdue there, talking about severe flooding that has led to at least eight deaths. Noting that nearly all of those were from drivers and passengers who were swept away by floodwaters, Gov. Perdue pleaded with residents to stay off the roads until the waters recede. Yesterday, he planned to ask President Obama to declare a federal emergency in order to free up money that would help with the relief efforts. With flash flood watches stretching across parts of the southeastern U.S., Rob Marciano examines the impact of this severe weather.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's a cruel irony. After months of drought, heavy rains spawning deadly floods. Across much of the southeast, streets are covered. Homes are destroyed. Tranquil creeks now on a rampage. In some places near Atlanta, nearly two feet of rain fell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the highest water that I've seen, and I've been living around here all my life.
MARCIANO: This couple was rescued by boat in the pitch black. They had to use flashlights to see. And the only thing they could bring with them: their dog and a few family treasures.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are my wedding pictures.
MARCIANO: But they were luckier than others, others who lost something so much more dear. In Georgia, right now, 17 counties under a state of emergency. Officials say they're in rescue and recovery mode, but those rescues, especially around Atlanta, have been slow and difficult.
Pictures showing just how crippled some areas of the city are. In the western suburb of Powder Springs, a house is left to burn. Next to it, a fire truck stranded, helpless in the rising floodwaters. These two men had to get around on inflatable mattresses, and so many people are stunned by what they're seeing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, shock. I don't think it's really set in that this is real. This is, we're flooded out. We don't have a home.
MARCIANO: Rob Marciano, CNN, Austell, Georgia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AZUZ: For another perspective, look at this! This is the amusement park, Six Flags over Georgia and under water. It's located west of Atlanta, and what you're seeing here is a coaster called the Scream Machine. I think I've ridden this thing every time I've been to Six Flags. From the looks of it, I won't be doing that again anytime soon. Amazing pictures.
Impact Your World
AZUZ: Obviously, the relief efforts are going to be going on for a while. Several organizations are already at work. To find out how you can take part, head to the Spotlight section on our home page and click on the "Impact Your World" link.
MICHELLE WRIGHT, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I'm a Central American nation located between Guatemala and Nicaragua. I gained my independence from Spain in 1821. My capital city is Tegucigalpa. I'm Honduras, and I'm home to about 7.8 million people.
AZUZ: Political turmoil has led to clashes in that capital city, all based around Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya. He was actually removed from office back in June and faces charges of violating the country's constitution. Zelaya, who's in the white hat in the middle of your screen here, returned to Honduras Monday. He took up refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa. If he leaves, the Honduran government says it will arrest him. The Brazilian embassy isn't considered part of Honduras, so Zelaya can't be arrested as long as he stays inside. Police and soldiers positioned outside the embassy clashed with Zelaya's supporters before clearing the area yesterday. The situation has led the U.S. to close its embassy in the Honduran capital.
AZUZ: Meantime, the president of Afghanistan says he supports a top U.S. commander's call to increase the number of U.S. troops in the Asian country. President Hamid Karzai called it "the right approach." But it's certainly not the only one. As Barbara Starr explains, there are several ideas on how to fight the war in Afghanistan, and who that war should be against.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: As violence increases daily in Afghanistan, some are calling for a major troop build-up. The president signaling when he ordered a review of the Afghan war, he wasn't anxious to quickly send tens of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban insurgency.
OBAMA: Let's do a soup-to-nuts re-evaluation, focusing on what our original goal was, which was to get al Qaeda, the people who killed 3,000 Americans.
STARR: Attacking al Qaeda is fundamentally a counter-terrorism strategy, requiring a limited number of new troops. It's the "Plan B" advocated by some in the White House, according to a senior Pentagon official. But Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander, is still calling for a counterinsurgency strategy to strengthen Afghanistan to the point the Taliban have no safe haven there. That could take tens of thousands of more troops beyond the 68,000 now planned. Retired Gen. Montgomery Meigs says it's a must.
GEN. MONTGOMERY MEIGS (RET.), U.S. ARMY: If you're going to get the tribes over on your side and the side of government, you have to have enough people there to make things happen for them, economically, socially and in terms of security.
STARR: Could the Pentagon put U.S. firepower, such as fighter jets and drones, in neighboring countries to reduce the U.S. presence inside Afghanistan?
MEIGS: My point is, if you don't have the kind of intelligence you need to make those systems effective, you are going to swing and miss a lot.
STARR: The powerful chairman of the Senate Armed Service committee says more U.S. troops right away are not the answer for another reason.
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), CHAIRMAN, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: I've been recommending to the president that, first of all, before any consideration is made of additional combat forces, that we get the Afghan army bigger, better equipped.
STARR: The new bottom line? Support for the war in Afghanistan is declining, and the president and his commanders will have to make the case for whatever comes next. Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
AZUZ: Afghanistan, Honduras, the southeastern U.S.: Today's show is all over the map. But we've got a way to help students pinpoint locations that are in the news: our downloadable maps! These geographic guides offer some perspective on exactly where these headlines are happening. You'll find the free resources every day at CNNStudentNews.com.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we go, we've got a tale of true sportsmanship. At the end of a recent high school game in Missouri, Matt Ziesel took a handoff and hightailed it all the way to the end zone, scoring his team's only touchdown of the day. So, why is this noteworthy? Well, Matt has Down Syndrome, a genetic disorder. He's always dreamed of scoring a TD. So, with the clock winding down and his team down 46-0, Matt's coach wanted to give him that chance. He talked to the other team's coach, who agreed to give up the shutout and let Matt score.
AZUZ: Great story. We'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Would you give up a shutout to help someone out? Would you have done it for Matt Ziesel? Head to our blog at CNNStudentnews.com and share your opinions. We'll look forward to reading them, and we'll look forward to seeing you tomorrow for more CNN Student News.
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