(CNN Student News) -- November 2, 2009
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: I'm back! And so is CNN Student News! We hope you enjoyed that extra hour of sleep over the weekend. I know I could have used it. Let's get to today's headlines.
AZUZ: How can you have an election with only one candidate? Afghanistan might be about to find out. That's because Abdullah Abdullah, who was running against current President Hamid Karzai, has dropped out of a runoff scheduled for later on this week. A lot of votes from the original election were thrown out because of fraud, and Abdullah claims the same problems are just going to happen again. He argues some election officials should resign because they were hired by President Karzai, which might make them biased. The officials denied Abdullah's accusations and said he isn't in a position to ask anyone to step down.
What about the runoff? Both President Karzai and Abdullah believe the runoff should still be held because the country's citizens deserve the right to vote. But Abdullah believes his decision to drop out was the right one.
ABDULLAH ABDULLAH, AFGHAN PRESIDENTIAL CHALLENGER: This is for the best interest for those who have supported me and, as a whole, in the broader context in the interest of Afghanistan, if I dont participate. At the same time, work to promote those values and principles so in the future the people of Afghanistan are given much better and much more fair chance.
Off Year Elections
AZUZ: Tomorrow is election day around the U.S., and there are two governors' races that are getting a lot of national attention. That's because some people believe the outcomes could offer some clues about the political mood of the entire country. One contest is in Virginia, where Republican Robert F. McDonnell is facing off against Democrat R. Creigh Deeds. The other is in New Jersey. It pits the current Democratic Governor Jon Corzine against Republican challenger Christopher Christie. We'll have more details on both contests after tomorrow's election.
AZUZ: In the Middle East, attempts at working out a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians have stalled. One of the biggest conflicts seems to be the issue of settlements. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been in the region recently. She's urging both sides to return to the negotiating table. Jill Dougherty has more on Sec. Clinton's efforts.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON, D.C.: With the Mideast peace process at a standstill, the secretary of state is a blur of motion: flying to Abu Dhabi from Pakistan for a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas; Hillary Clinton joined by Special Envoy on Mideast Peace, George Mitchell. But the Palestinian leadership still insists no talks until Israel freezes construction of settlements. Another plane trip, another stop in Jerusalem for a session with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Another attempt to lower emotions on both sides over the U.N.'s Goldstone report, which accused Israeli forces and Palestinian militants of human rights violations during the conflict in Gaza. Another try at bridging the gap on the issue of settlements:
U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: I want to see both sides begin as soon as possible in negotiations
ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: We're eager to advance on both. We think that the place to resolve outstanding issues and differences of opinion is around the negotiating table. We think we should sit around that negotiating table right away. We're prepared to start peace talks immediately. I think what we should do on the path to peace is to simply get on it and get with it.
DOUGHERTY: In spite of what the U.S. admits has been a difficult period, a senior U.S. official says both sides continue to talk with the U.S. about how to relaunch negotiations. Neither side, he says, "has at all shut the door." And there's another stop in this shuttle diplomacy: the secretary travels on to Morocco to meet with Arab leaders in an effort to build regional support for the peace process. Jill Dougherty, CNN, Jerusalem.
AZUZ: Another member of President Obama's Cabinet is weighing in on the state of the U.S. economy. In an interview yesterday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said recent reports of economic growth are good news. Some critics have argued that several of President Oama's policies, like the economic stimulus plan or a government-run health insurance program, would raise the federal deficit. That's how much more money the government spends than it takes in. Well, Sec. Geithner believes the current deficit is too high. But he says that's not the government's top priority. He believes the president's main goals are helping the economy grow and creating new jobs. In his weekly address, President Obama said the stimulus plan has helped create or save more than a million jobs since it was passed in February. But both the president and Sec. Geithner have warned things could get worse before they get better.
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! Which of these countries is Guatemala? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A, B, C or D? You've got three seconds -- GO! On this map, A is Guatemala, a country that's home to more than 13 million people. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: Guatemala was also home to the ancient civilization known as the Maya. It was one of the most advanced in the western world. The Maya people practiced agriculture, built stone buildings and created their own form of writing. Most experts say that the Maya reached their peak as a civilization around the year 900. But as Brooke Baldwin shows us, a new discovery could be rewriting the history books.
BALDWIN: From the air, it looks like just jungle. But these forests in Guatemala hide an ancient secret: the city of Mirador, often referred to as the cradle of Mayan civilization, the size of a modern day metropolis. This is no mountain. It's a pyramid. And according to the Mirador Basin Project, it may be the largest pyramid by volume in the world. CNN is traveling with the project's director and lead archaeologist, Richard Hansen, and the founder of the Global Heritage Fund, Jeff Morgan.
RICHARD HANSEN, DIR., MIRADOR BASIN PROJECT: The pyramid is a structure the world should know, because it represents an investment of labor unprecedented in the world's history. Every single stone in that building, from the bottom to the top, was carried by human labor.
BALDWIN: And the work to save this pyramid is delicate, done by hand. Guatemalan archaeologists painstakingly help uncover pieces of history built by their ancestors. And the view from the top of La Donta, spectacular.
HANSEN: This is the sum of the Maya world.
BALDWIN: Here at the top of La Donta, we are 72 meters or about 224 feet from the forest floor. And when we talk about the sheer size of this area that is El Mirador, just one single Mayan city, archaeologist Dr. Richard Hansen says it's size is larger than all of downtown Los Angeles. And he says there are still thousands of pyramids yet to be uncovered.
Then, Dr. Hansen shows us something few people have ever seen: a relic referred to as the Popol Vuh that is the Mayan story of creation. CNN cameras are the first to capture this fresh discovery, which Hansen says will rewrite Mayan history.
This is the creation story of the Mayan people.
HANSEN: This is the creation story, and it goes back to at least 300, 200 B.C.
BALDWIN: For decades, historians believe the Popol Vuh was tainted by the Catholic views of Spanish conquistadors. Finding this frieze changes everything, because it predates the Spanish arrival by more than a millennium. The challenge now is preserving this area, a jungle constantly under threat by narco traffickers, loggers and cattle ranchers. Hansen's guards are on constant standby to keep looters out.
HANSEN: Where we've had guards in cities throughout the basin, we've had no new looters' trenches. Where we haven't had the resources for that, we have lost 100 percent.
BALDWIN: Hansen has made Mirador his life's work and hopes to share these Mayan secrets with Guatemala and the world.
HANSEN: The science for the sake of science is sterile if it doesn't bless the lives of people. And by conserving this, we're blessing the lives of an entire nation.
White House Halloween
AZUZ: Maybe someone you know dressed up as a president for Halloween. President Obama seemed to do that; he went as himself. For the thousands of trick-or-treaters who showed up at his door, the treat was pretty big: an activity book, a cookie, a box of M&Ms, some dried fruit, plus the chance to see his press secretary dressed as Darth Vader.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Many folks there seemed to have a ball, but not as big a ball as this! It took a very, um, dedicated man to stretch a rubber-band ball to a height of more than six feet, a weight of more than 10,000 pounds! Tons of fun? Maybe. The world's biggest? Definitely. He'd moved it to his driveway when it got too big for his house, and you see it here being sent off to a museum.
AZUZ: And that's where the rubber meets the road. But we'll snap back tomorrow with more CNN Student News! Looking forward to seeing you then, I'm Carl Azuz.