(CNN Student News) -- March 8, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Yes, we know, it is Monday! But at least you're starting off the week with CNN Student News. Here to take you through the next 10 minutes of commercial-free headlines, I'm Carl Azuz.
AZUZ: First up, Iraqis head to the polls to cast their ballots in the country's parliamentary election. The United Nations calls this "an important milestone in Iraq's democratic progress." It is the second, full parliamentary vote since former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was removed from power in 2003. One official thinks voter turnout could reach 55 percent.
Militants who were intent on disrupting the vote did unleash violent attacks that killed more than 35 people. But many Iraqis refused to let the threat of violence stop them from voting. One woman in line at a polling station said that voting was her way of fighting back against acts of terrorism in her country. Arwa Damon talked with some Iraqis about their reasons for casting their ballots. She explains a bit about the election process. Take a listen.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, BAGHDAD: Many Iraqis came with their families. Children carried flags. People were proud that they had came out to vote. Ali brought out his 2 month old; he says he wants his baby to start voting early. Hasun also brought her children. She says even though she was afraid, she had to come to cast her vote, that it was an opportunity to provide a better future for her kids. This is how the process works. A voter's identity is checked. They sign next to their name, and then they receive the ballot. They can vote for a political bloc, or, if they choose to do so, an individual within that bloc. This is the open list system, and it's the first time that Iraqis are using it on a national level.
AZUZ: It wasn't just limited to Iraq; Iraqis all over the world took part in this election, including right here in the United States. One of those voters thinks it's important for young Iraqis living outside the Middle Eastern country to care about what's happening in their homeland.
HALLO SHIKHA, IRAQI VOTER: But it's really nice to see the young ones also have love for the country, because most of them were raised here, and to see them still have pride in their country and come out here to vote is really big for us.
AZUZ: In South America, the nation of Chile is in the middle of three days of national mourning for victims of the powerful earthquake that hit the country recently. Every house in Chile has been authorized to hang the national flag in honor of those who died. But even as the nation recovers, aftershocks are still shaking the ground there. Two strong aftershocks hitting on Friday, and those were just the latest in a string of tremors following the original quake. Aid, like the supplies being brought in by these planes, is flowing in both from home and overseas. "Chile helps Chile," a telethon that aimed to raise $27 million, ran in the country over the weekend. The United Nations has pledged $10 million for recovery efforts. The U.S. has sent a million dollars to relief organizations and delivered necessary supplies. Things like satellite phones, water treatment units, and field hospitals. One Chilean official said it could take months to determine the full extent of the devastation caused by this quake.
Word to the Wise
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: A Word to the Wise...
franchise (noun) the right that a company gives an individual or a business to sell the company's products
AZUZ: A lot of General Motors franchises are getting a second chance to stay in business. The company, GM, has about 5,500 dealerships. But when it filed for bankruptcy last may, GM decided to close about 2,000 dealers. However, a lot of them are fighting to stay open through a process called arbitration. Under arbitration, an outside party will hear the case and decide whether the dealership is allowed to stay open. About 1,100 dealers applied for it. But GM is getting a jump on things. The automaker looked at the arbitration applications and offered 661 of the dealerships their franchises back. The company expects to contact all of those dealers by the end of the day today. A GM official said the decision is "good for our customers, our dealers and GM."
AZUZ: Another automaker, Toyota, says it hasn't found any fault with the electronic systems that would cause the sudden acceleration problems which have triggered a major vehicle recall. Some safety experts claimed that the electronics are most likely the cause of the problem. One professor ran a demonstration of how it could happen. A research company hired by Toyota ran its own test, got the same results. It also ran the test on other companies' cars, though, and had a similar outcome. And the company says the test presents an unrealistic situation that is extraordinarily unlikely. Toyota plans to run its own simulation some time today.
PAT ST. CLAIRE, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mrs. D's middle school students at St. Gabriel's in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania! What is widely known as "the last great race on Earth"? Is it the: A) America's Cup, B) Tour de France, C) Iditarod or D) IronMan Triathlon? You've got three seconds -- GO! The Iditarod, a sled dog race across Alaska, is often called "the last great race on Earth." That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: That race is on! The 38th Iditarod got going over the weekend. According to the organizers' Web site, this thing covers more than 1,100 miles, takes anywhere from 10 to 17 days, is raced in below-zero temperatures, and you also have to control at least a dozen dogs to help you get across the finish line. The ceremonial start on Saturday kicked things off. Some people are saying this is the most stacked Iditarod ever. Of the 71 mushers on the course, 49 of them have competed in the event before, and five former champions are taking part. The trail started out as a mail route. Now, it's a national historic trail.
International Women's Day
AZUZ: March, as many of you know, is Women's History Month. But today is International Women's Day. The goal of both of them is the same thing: honoring the achievements of women. One of the themes for this year's International Women's Day celebration is "equal rights, equal opportunities." In India, that theme can be seen in women joining the country's workforce. But just getting to work can be a challenge for many Indian women. Mallika Kapur shows us how the country is helping out.
MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT, MUMBAI: They sing and dance quite often on this train. It's a great way to pass time, says this group of travelers. Plus, it's fun! Leela takes a local train from the small town of Panwal to her office in New Delhi every day. She used to travel in one of these. But they're so crowded, it's hard to even get on, she says. There are other problems, too. Men stare and pass lewd comments. In response to growing complaints about "Eve teasing," the government decided to remove men from some trains. Last year, it introduced eight commuter trains for women only in four of India's largest cities.
ANIL SAXENA, SPOKESMAN, INDIAN RAILWAYS: In the peak hours, the rush is tremendous. People jostling with each other to get into the train, to provide a better comfort and better convenience for the lady passengers, the ministry decided that such trains should be introduced.
KAPUR: Since India began its economic liberalization in the 1990s, millions of women have poured into the formal workforce. They face many challenges at work; getting to office should not be one of them, says this activist.
BRINDA KARAT, POLITICIAN AND ACTIVIST: It has to be an enabling environment, which is a zero-tolerance area for sexual harassment. And I think transport and getting to work itself, it's so impossible these days because of the traffic congestions in Delhi. Public transport has to be made much safer for women.
KAPUR: "I am ambitious. If I want to reach my goals, I need to commute," says 20-year-old Nisha. "This train lets me do that safely." "It's encouraging more women to work," says this student, who also teaches in the city.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There won't be any kind of misbehavior or mischievous things happening on the train. So, it will definitely encourage them that, OK, now we can go out freely.
KAPUR: Here, they can get ready for work, snatch a few moments of peace, and catch up with friends.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are just like family over here.
KAPUR: A family on a journey that's safe and fun. Mallika Kapur, CNN, New Delhi.
Before We Go
AZUZ: All right, before we go today, check out this impressive underwater assist. This is a nurse shark. And that thing on her neck was keeping her from eating. So, bam! A diver comes to the nurse shark's aid. He tries to tug it off, but the shark didn't seem too happy about it. So, he gets chummy with it, grabs hold, wrestles the thing off of her neck. That eventually lets the shark swim off.
AZUZ: It works; now the thing will be able to nurse itself back to health. Whoo! We assume that awesome pun left your jaws on the floor. We'll have more for you tomorrow. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.