(CNN Student News) -- November 12, 2009
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SUMAYA AHSAN, PAKISTANI STUDENT: He's like a legend to us because he saved our lives, our friends' lives.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: We've got that incredible story coming up in just a minute. I'm Carl Azuz. CNN Student News starts right now!
AZUZ: First up, a look at President Obama's executive agenda. Today, he's taking off for Asia, making a nine-day trip to the region to meet with world leaders and to take part in an economic conference. Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea. All of them are stopping points along the way. The president plans to talk about the importance of the U.S. and Asian countries working together on things like economic growth, climate change and the war in Afghanistan.
That last subject, the war, is something he discussed with his war council yesterday. It was the latest in a series of meetings to review the U.S. approach to the conflict in Afghanistan. President Obama is said to be considering four options, some of which may include sending additional troops to the country. That's something that military leaders have requested and some Republican lawmakers have urged the president to do. In a recent CNN poll, 56 percent of people were against sending more troops, while 42 percent were in favor of it.
Earlier in the day, President Obama took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. Just one of the Veterans Day events held around the country. He and first lady Michelle Obama walked through the cemetery's Section 60, where service members from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been laid to rest. During a speech yesterday, the president said "to all who served in every battle in every war, it's never too late to say thank you."
Is this Legit?
RICK VINCENT, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? Brazil is the biggest country in South America. Legit! In fact, Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world, and it's home to nearly 200 million people.
Blackout in Brazil
AZUZ: About 60 million of those people were left in the dark Tuesday night by a massive power outage. Officials say it affected 18 of Brazil's 26 states, including some of the country's largest cities. There's some uncertainty about what actually caused the power outage, but it's been linked to a hydroelectric dam. The power was back on in most areas by Wednesday morning.
AZUZ: Pakistan is a country that's seen a lot of violence this year. Three weeks ago, suicide attacks at a university claimed seven lives. One of them was a janitor who had only started working at the school a week earlier. But his reported actions on that day have many people in Pakistan calling him a hero. Ivan Watson shares his story.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, ISLAMABAD: 70-year-old Kurshaid Siddique makes this walk every day, clutching a photo of her son. Pervaiz Mahsi was killed on October 20th when a suicide bomber attacked the university cafeteria where he worked. Pervaiz was a janitor. He barely earned enough money to feed his family. Now, some people are calling him a hero.
SUMAYA AHSAN, STUDENT: Now, he's like a legend to us because he saved our lives, our friends' lives.
WATSON: 20-year-old Sumaya Ahsan and her classmates are also in mourning. The suicide bomber killed three of their friends in the women's cafeteria of Islamabad's International Islamic University. But if it wasn't for the janitor named Pervaiz, they say many more of their classmates could have been killed.
AFSHEEN ZAFAR, STUDENT: If he couldn't stop that suicide attacker, there could have been great, great destruction.
WATSON: On October 20th, a suicide bomber disguised in women's clothes shot and wounded the guard on duty and then approached this cafeteria, which was packed full of hundreds of female students. The café where this deadly attack took place is back open. This is the doorway where, by some accounts, Pervaiz Mahsi helped stop the suicide bomber from coming in and doing more damage. The explosion instantly killed Pervaiz. Who knows how many young women would have died if the bomber had gotten got into this room?
Pervaiz's family lives here, in a house crowded with three other families. The family of eight people lives in this single room, sleeping on three beds.
You all are Christians?
MAHSI'S SISTER: Yeah
WATSON: They are members of Pakistan's Christian minority, one of the poorest communities in Pakistan. They had to borrow money for Pervaiz's coffiin, and now they're behind on the rent. Pervaiz's mother is inconsolable.
From what we've heard, your son really helped save a lot of people and he's a hero.
KURSHAID SIDDIQUE, MOTHER OF PERVAIZ MAHSI [TRANSLATED]: "But my hero is dead now," she says.
WATSON: The illiterate Christian man who saved the lives of so many Muslim girls is buried here, just a few feet from a muddy road in a garbage-strewn grave. The government of Pakistan is calling him a national hero. Ivan Watson, CNN, Islamabad.
Word to the Wise
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: A Word to the Wise...
segregation (noun) the separation of people or groups, especially by race
AZUZ: Segregation was a policy that was practiced in many schools across America before a Supreme Court ruling declared it unconstitutional. In Macon, Georgia, many students from the class of 1959 recently attended their 50th reunion. And they decided that while their schools were segregated then, they wanted to come together now. Brooke Baldwin takes us there.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are the nametags, the nerves, the hugs of recognition. But a typical 50th high school reunion this is not. Instead, this luncheon marks the first time Macon, Georgia's classes of 1959 have sat side by side ever.
BETTY WEBB-HAYES, 1959 GRADUATE, BALLARD-HUDSON HIGH SCHOOL: I grew up in a town for 50 years with all those people around and never knew who they were.
BALDWIN: Betty Webb-Hayes knows. In 1959, the southern city's three public high schools -- Ballard-Hudson, Lanier and Miller -- were segregated. In the 1950s, Jim Crow laws ruled, and separate was supposedly equal. But as a Ballard Hudson alumna, as a young child, she says segregation was simply a way of life.
WEBB-HAYES: We didn't find out that we were being discriminated against until we were in high school, until that high school teacher told us that we were living in a segregated society. We didn't know it.
BALDWIN: Fifty years later, Lanier alumnus Tom Johnson, former CNN president and publisher of the "L.A. Times," had an idea to close the five-decade gap. In a letter to Macon's three classes of 1959, Johnson wrote, "It was a different world then. We were divided by policies, politics, and tradition. It is a different world today. We no longer are separated except by personal choice." That letter and several months of planning later, 210 members of the class of 1959 sat together at last.
RUBY DEAN DUPREE, 1959 GRADUATE, BALLARD-HUDSON HIGH SCHOOL: Well, the old saying is better late than never. I could not sleep last night. So, it just means the world to me. It was just like waiting for Santa Claus to come.
LINDA CARSTOFFEN GUGEN, 1959 GRADUATE, A.L. MILLER HIGH SCHOOL FOR GIRLS: I realized how much we actually missed, people that we could have known.
BALDWIN: For this former class president, the gathering of old and new friends brings tears to her eyes, not just because of the symbolism, but for the empty seats, classmates whose attitudes on race 50 years later haven't changed.
GUGEN: There are some people that still feel resistant to the idea and think that what we're pushing for is not a good thing. And I think we have to focus on the ones that were here today. I think those people went away with a changed heart.
BALDWIN: It may have taken those people 50 years to come together. Unlike these old-fashioned photos, their story is no longer told in black and white. Brooke Baldwin, CNN, Macon, Georgia.
AZUZ: CNN Student News has made an online upgrade! To check it out, go to the U.S. page on CNN.com, scroll down, and click on "Student News." Or you can enter "CNNStudentNews.com" into your browser. Our redesigned site has all of the free materials you love: Daily Discussion questions, downloadable maps, our blog. Log on and check out our new look today!
Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we go, some reputations are hard to keep. But Joey Chestnut -- the guy in the middle -- is up for the task. He's one of the world's top-ranked competitive eaters, and he showed off his skills, if that's what you want to call it, at this meatball eating contest. Chestnut gobbled up 50 meatballs in just 10 minutes, setting a world record along the way. The guy who came in second finished one meatball behind.
AZUZ: A close loss like that has to be a punch to the gut. You guys have a great day. CNN Student News will see you tomorrow to close out the week.