(CNN Student News) -- September 28, 2009
Iranian Nuclear Fears - Assess the international community's options regarding Iran's nuclear program.
Germany Elections - Identify a European leader, and hear how her party did in a recent election.
Golan Heights - Discuss how the address of the Golan Heights is causing a conundrum for Facebook.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: How did Facebook become part of a geographic controversy? We're to map out the answer to that in today's edition of CNN Student News! Hello, everyone. I'm Carl Azuz.
AZUZ: Missile tests. Nuclear plants. Accusations and denials. All part of the rising tension between several western nations and Iran. Yesterday, the Middle Eastern country fired two types of missiles - part of a series of exercises that it says are designed to promote the country's military defense capabilities. Those tests are expected to go on for the next 10 to 11 days. The missiles fired yesterday are short-range. Iran is scheduled to test a long-range missile today.
All of this comes after Friday's announcement that Iran is building a uranium enrichment plant. That would be the country's second one. Here's why that's controversial. Enriching uranium is part of the process to create nuclear power, and that's what Iran says the facility will do. Okay, fine. But enriching uranium is also part of the process for creating nuclear weapons. The U.S. and Israel believe that is the ultimate goal of Iran's nuclear plants. Iran says it will allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect the new facility. But as Elaine Quijano tells us, the country's nuclear program is the focus of international concern.
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ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON, D.C.: One day after the U.S., Britain and France called out Iran for building a secret nuclear site, Iranian officials insisted they have nothing to hide and will comply with demands to let international inspectors into the facility.
ALI ASGHAR SOLTANIEH, IRAN'S AMBASSADOR TO THE IAEA: And there is no nuclear material in this new site. And we are arranging, and inspectors will confirm my assertion.
QUIJANO: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomed the Iranians' pledge to allow inspectors in, but made clear the U.S. expects concrete action at key nuclear talks on Thursday.
HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We are hopeful that in preparing for the meeting on October 1st, Iran comes and shares with all of us what they're willing to do, and gives us a timetable on which they're willing to proceed.
QUIJANO: The United States has long suspected Tehran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, and in his weekly address, President Obama warned Iran's leaders the U.S. is not alone in its suspicions.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yesterday, I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our European allies in condemning Iran's program. In our meetings and public statements, President Medvedev of Russia and I agreed that Iran must pursue a new course or face consequences.
QUIJANO: That means possibly tougher sanctions, and President Obama says the U.S. is keeping all options on the table, including a military one. But in an interview for CNN's "State Of The Union" with John King, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said even that has its limits.
ROBERT GATES, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: The reality is there is no military option that does anything more than buy time.
QUIJANO: Next up is that crucial meeting Thursday in Geneva. That is when Iranian diplomats will sit down with officials from the U.S. and the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, as well as Germany, to discuss Iran's nuclear program. Elaine Quijano, CNN, The White House.
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BRENDAN GAGE, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I'm a European nation that was split into two countries from 1949 to 1990. I'm Europe's second-most populated nation, but I have the continent's largest economy. My capital city is Berlin. I'm Germany, and the head of my government is Angela Merkel.
AZUZ: And Chancellor Merkel will be keeping that title based on the results of yesterday's election. According to exit polls taken after the voting, Merkel's political party defeated the one led by Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who currently serves as the country's foreign minister. That means a second, four-year term for German Chancellor Merkel, who was first elected in 2005.
When voters headed to the polls yesterday, they actually cast their ballots not for chancellor, but for members of Germany's lower house of Parliament, which is called the Bundestag. It's those members who then pick the head of government. Most observers had predicted a win for Chancellor Merkel. But there was some suspense leading up to the election. Al Qaeda and the Taliban had released videos warning Germans not to vote for leaders who want to keep the country's troops in Afghanistan.
AZUZ: Meanwhile, rescue workers in the Philippines are struggling to reach victims of deadly flooding. This was caused by the heaviest rainfall in the Asian country in more than 40 years. The severe weather claimed at least 75 lives, although some officials have said it's hard to determine the exact impact because so many roads were left impossible to pass. You can get an idea of that by these pictures. The heavy rains left more than 80 percent of the capital city of Manila under water. Not entirely surprising because it was a month's worth of rain that fell on the city in just six hours Saturday.
MARY ELLEN HOPKINS, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for some Fast Facts! The Golan Heights is a Middle Eastern region that's located between Israel and Syria. It's about 444 square miles in size. Syria controlled the area at first, but Israel occupied the heights in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, and Israel controls it today. Currently, the region is home to about 20,000 Arabs and 20,000 Israelis.
AZUZ: So, let's say you're one of those 40,000 people, and you're setting up your profile on Facebook. When you get to that section about what country you live in, what do you put? That question sparked a controversy. And as Paula Hancocks explains, it's put Facebook and residents of the Golan Heights in the middle.
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PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, JERUSALEM: This is is the Shouting Hill. Before mobile phones and the Internet, this is how Druze families split between Syria and the Golan Heights communicated. But times have changed. Behind this fence is Syria. Where I'm standing right now is Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Now, this border has been disputed for more than 40 years, and now Facebook has found itself caught in the middle. The social networking site, up until recently, followed international consensus, designating the Golan Heights as Syria. The Golan was captured by Israel in 1967 and has been considered occupied territory ever since. But pro-Israel Web site HonestReporting started a campaign to add an Israeli option, a campaign it says that's non-political.
ALEX MARGOLIN, HONESTREPORTING.COM: You know, it's totally possible that at some day in the future the Golan will change hands, go to Syria. It's not really what this campaign was about.
HANCOCKS: Ofri Baza lives in Odem in the Golan Heights, and always kept her country of origin blank. Thanks to Facebook, she now has the choice of Israel or Syria.
OFRI BAZA, ISRAELI GOLAN RESIDENT: Odem, Israel, woo!
HANCOCKS: Ofri's happy, but her neighbors in this Druze town of Magdil Schams are not. They consider themselves Syrian under Israeli occupation. Shopkeeper Sakur abu Sabit thinks Syria should be the only Facebook option.
SAKUR ABU SABIT, SYRIAN GOLAN RESIDENT [TRANSLATED]: We fought against all the occupiers. We fought against the French for our freedom as well as against the Turks. Here we will never give up our Syrian citizenship.
HANCOCKS: Across the border in Syria, the backlash is likely to be muted because Facebook has already been banned there for a couple of years.
AMMAR ABDULHAMID, SYRIAN SCHOLAR: The real reason for that, however, has nothing to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict. It has nothing to do with interaction between Syrians and Israelis. It's because these sites are really very popular with Syrian activists
HANCOCKS: The Israeli-Syrian fight for the Golan Heights is 42 years old; the cyber-war has only just begun. Paula Hancocks, CNN, in the occupied Golan Heights.
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AZUZ: A spokeswoman from Facebook tells CNN, "We deal with the listings for disputed territories on a case-by-case basis, and with Golan Heights, we decided a dual listing made sense in this instance." The company also notes that it has the same dual-listing policy with respect to the West Bank, which is listed in both Palestine and Israel.
AZUZ: No matter where you live, you can always check us out on Facebook. Watch our videos and find out what's going on behind the scenes. Just head to Facebook.com/cnnstudentnews. Or if you're logged on to the site, search for "CNN Student News official." Remember, if it's not official, it's not us.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we go, you've heard of speed reading, speed dating, speed skating? Check out speed mapping! Ok, we sped this up a little bit, but Terry Downing can actually draw all 50 states in just 90 seconds! He says he starts with his home state of Kansas, and then the rest just falls into place. But his map mastery isn't the end of terry's geographic genius. State nicknames, capitals, largest cities: all stored in his head.
AZUZ: Where he can draw on the information at a moment's notice. I kinda like that one. Log onto Facebook and tell us what you think of today's pun. CNN Student News returns tomorrow. You guys have a great day. Hope everything goes well for you and hope to see you then.