(CNN Student News) -- October 12, 2009
Pakistan Attack - Learn about the rescue operation that ended a 22-hour standoff in Pakistan.
Peace Prize Awarded - Study the praise and challenges that accompany President Obama's Nobel Prize.
Space Station's Future? - Discuss how the international space station could become an abandoned laboratory
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: It's Columbus Day! Some interesting info on that, just part of what you will find on CNN Student News today. What you will not find are commercials. I'm Carl Azuz, let's get started.
AZUZ: First up, a rescue mission ends a 22-hour standoff between militants and government forces in Pakistan. All this started on Saturday with an attack on an army post in Rawalpindi, which claimed the lives of six guards and five gunmen. Militants then took control of the army headquarters. They held dozens of people hostage and threatened to blow up the building. That sparked the standoff that lasted nearly a full day. Pakistani officials say they were in communication with the militants throughout the ordeal. On Sunday morning, the situation came to a close when Pakistani forces carried out a rescue operation that freed a total of 39 hostages. The militant who led the assault on the army facility was also captured. And according to one Pakistani military official, the Taliban said it was responsible for the attack.
NINETTE SOSA, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I'm an award that was first established in 1901. I'm given at an annual ceremony in Oslo, Norway on December 10. Some of my winners include Martin Luther King, Jr., UNICEF and the International Atomic Energy Agency. I'm the Nobel Peace Prize, named for a Swedish chemist and engineer named Alfred Nobel.
AZUZ: And the winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize: President Barack Obama! The announcement came last Friday and it came as a surprise to some people, including the President himself, who said he considers the award a "call to action." The reaction, both from around the U.S. and around the world, has been mixed. Ed Henry has more on the award and the response.
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U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Good morning.
HENRY: Yes, he can win the Peace Prize on the same day his war council met again to consider sending up to 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, while a second war is winding down but still raging in Iraq. Fresh reminders this award is more about the promise of change than actual change.
OBAMA: We have to confront the world as we know it today. I am the commander in chief of a country that's responsible for ending a war and working in another theater to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our allies.
HENRY: The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited the president's ability to create a new climate around the world. A deliberate approach from day one to break from the Bush years, especially with an historic speech to the Muslim world in Cairo.
OBAMA: And I'm also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country. Salaam alaikum.
HENRY: As well as major speeches in Prague and at the United Nations, laying out an aggressive plan to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
OBAMA: All nations have the right to peaceful nuclear energy. That nations with nuclear weapons have a responsibility to move toward disarmament, and those without them have the responsibility to forsake them.
HENRY: But so far, only great speeches, with little tangible results.
ED ROLLINS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think, certainly, you have to give him an A for trying, but at the end of the day, what has he accomplished?
HENRY: Not to mention the details of other accomplishments are still a little, well, fuzzy.
OBAMA: I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed, and we are doing the hard work of forging a framework to combat extremism within the rule of law.
HENRY: Top administration officials now admit they'll likely miss the January deadline of closing Guantanamo, a prime example of the difficulty of translating the president's vision into some actual victories. Ed Henry, CNN, Washington.
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AZUZ: Okay, President Obama is getting some advice on one of the challenges mentioned in that report: the War in Afghanistan. A top U.S. commander has reportedly requested 40,000 additional troops for the conflict. Sen. John McCain says not following that recommendation would be "an error of historic proportions." Yesterday, CNN's John King asked Senator McCain about his biggest concerns when it comes to Afghanistan.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION WITH JOHN KING: Do you think the United States can win in Afghanistan with fewer than 40,000 more troops?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: I do not. And I think the great danger now is not an American pullout. I think the great danger now is a half measure. Sort of a, try to please all ends of the political spectrum.
AZUZ: And the issue of gay rights gaining attention this weekend as the National Equality March took place in Washington, D.C. yesterday. Thousands of demonstrators took part, demanding full equality under the law. The day before, President Obama had addressed the nation's largest gay rights group. During his speech, he talked about protection against hate crimes, his support for the rights of gay couples, and his pledge to end the ban on gays in the U.S. military, what's known as the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
BRENDAN GAGE, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for some Fast Facts! The first Columbus Day was celebrated in New York City in 1792 to mark the 300th anniversary of the explorer's first voyage to America. It's been observed every year since 1920, and features parades and ceremonies around the country. For decades, many states celebrated Columbus Day on October 12, because that's when Columbus landed in the Bahamas. But in 1971, Columbus Day became a federal U.S. holiday. And now, it's always celebrated on the second Monday of October, which makes today Columbus Day!
AZUZ: From an Earth-bound explorer to exploration in the skies. The first part of the international space station was put in orbit back in 1998. Since then, modules and laboratories have been added, all with the goal of creating this massive research center to conduct science experiments. The only problem, as John Zarrella explains, is that it may never happen.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF AND CORRESPONDENT: More than a decade of construction. The U.S. cost alone, including shuttle flights: $44 billion. That's right, billion with a B, and still counting. Now, after all that time and money, the international space station is ready to do world-class science. The problem is, it may be scuttled before it ever has the chance.
ROBERT BRAUN, FORMER NASA CHIEF ENGINEER: The general idea that we would spend approximately 11 years building a space station, get it to its full operational capability and then kind of abandon it a few years later, to me personally, it doesn't make a lot of sense.
ZARRELLA: That's exactly what might happen. Funding to keep the station in orbit will run out by 2015. The promise of cures for diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's and ground-breaking research may never be realized.
THOMAS PICKENS III, CHAIRMAN, ASTROGENETIX: We think that you can't do them on Earth. That the bias of gravity is so extreme that you really need to take it out of a gravitational influence and start doing these things in space. It's probably the only place to get these done.
ZARRELLA: Tom Pickens' company is already reaping the benefits. A salmonella vaccine developed in space is moving through the Food and Drug Administration for approval. The last shuttle flight carried an experiment aimed at producing a vaccine for MRSA, a highly-resistant staph infection. The absence of gravity allows for the rapid growth of very virulent bacteria, perfect for building vaccines, says Pickens.
PICKENS: That process on Earth is extremely long. It can take up to 10 years to do if they get it at all, and we've sent it up to space for really three trips and we found that we already had a vaccine for salmonella just after three trips.
ZARRELLA: During its construction, the station has been used for some experiments, but not the kind that might produce miracle drugs and cures. Even if the station's life is extended, the science community acknowledges there are no guarantees the football field-sized flying laboratory will produce great breakthroughs. And getting funding for a "maybe" is tough. Still, the station's backers say funding to keep it flying is a no brainer. You don't spend a fortune on a house, they say, and then abandon it. So the question is, is the hope of great science, not the promise, enough for the Obama administration to keep the lights on? John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Well, it's a question you can answer too. Should the ISS be grounded? We'd love for you to weigh in with your thoughts on our blog. You can find that, you know where, on our blog at CNNStudentNews.com. Now before we go today, anyone hungry for a snack? Guess it's time for a trip to the vending machine and some delicious... apples? Apples! That's the whole point of these new products, which replace chocolate and chips with fruits and veggies. The goal is to help hungry folks make healty choices. And the company guarantees that the fresh foods won't go bad too quickly.
AZUZ: You might think that fact would be ripe for a pun, it's just a good thing we could produce something that met our usual standards. But would you really want apples over chocolate? I mean it is healthier, but c'mon. Really? For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz. Make the healthy news choice. Join us again tomorrow when we return.