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CNN Student News Transcript: May 27, 2008

  • Story Highlights
  • Get a close-up of the photos being snapped by a robotic tourist on Mars
  • Observe some tributes paid to U.S. troops who sacrificed their lives
  • See how a Chinese wedding photographer captured earthquake history
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(CNN Student News) -- May 27, 2008

Quick Guide

The Phoenix Has Landed - Get a close-up of the photos being snapped by a robotic tourist on Mars.

Honoring the Fallen - Observe some tributes paid to U.S. troops who sacrificed their lives.

Moments Frozen in Time - See how a Chinese wedding photographer captured earthquake history.



MONICA LLOYD, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: We're back from the long weekend and ready to get going with a brand new edition of CNN Student News. Glad to have you with us. I'm Monica Lloyd.

First Up: The Phoenix Has Landed

LLOYD: First up, NASA's Phoenix Lander lives up to its name and rises from the ashes to touch down on Mars. Any of you Harry Potter or X-Men fans out there probably know that a Phoenix is a bird that's reborn. It's also an appropriate name for NASA's current mission to Mars. You see, a similar craft failed to reach the Red Planet nine years ago. But as Miles O'Brien explains, out of that setback came this weekend's success.


NASA INTERCOM: Phoenix has landed! Phoenix has landed!

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CHIEF TECHNOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT: Talk about a happy landing. NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander arrived alive and well on the surface of the Red Planet, opened its solar arrays and started snapping pictures like an eager tourist. 170 million miles away, the intrepid robot's human keepers rejoiced.

STEVE SQUYRES, MARS ROVERS SCIENTIST: This is hardware that these guys have held in their hands, that they nurtured, that they have sweated over for years. And to see that very same hardware on the surface of another world, it is an incredible feeling.

O'BRIEN: It was an incredible descent. The $420 million-lander breezed through a searing, perilous arrival at Mars. Pieces separated, the parachute unfurled, a radar started scanning the ground, and a dozen rockets fired, all as designed. And Phoenix slowed from 12,700 miles an hour to zero in all of seven minutes.

MIKE GRIFFIN, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: Today, you had a chance to watch a team in action, making something that is incredibly hard to do look easy.

ED WEILER, NASA ASSOC. ADMIN.: It's like trying to hit a hole in one, but you tee off in Washington and you hit the ball 10,000 miles and score a hole in one in Sydney, Australia.

O'BRIEN: The last time NASA tried a soft landing on Mars like this, it was a disaster. The sister craft to Phoenix, the Mars Polar Lander, crashed in 1999, a casualty of a cost-cutting program that NASA admits went too far. This time, the space agency spent more money and is ready to focus on the mysteries of Mars.

PETER SMITH, LEAD SCIENTIST: This is a scientist's dream right here on this landing site.

O'BRIEN: They believe the rocky tundra here is filled with ice crystals which could hold clues about life on the planet.

SQUYRES: For example, if there are organic molecules, which is one of the key ingredients of life, they may be trapped in that ice.

O'BRIEN: Miles O'Brien, CNN, Pasadena, California.


Is this Legit?

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I've been a fixture in pop culture for decades, from books to radio to movies. I've hosted famous visitors from the U.S. and Russia. You can sometimes see me hanging around at night. I'm Mars, the planet we've been talking about for the last few minutes, and I'm named after the Roman god of war.

Honoring the Fallen

LLOYD: Back on Earth, Americans celebrated Memorial Day yesterday. The national holiday honors U.S. troops who have sacrificed their lives in service to their country. To mark the event, President Bush took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. He and the three leading White House hopefuls spoke about the dedication of Americans in uniform.

U.S. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: On this Memorial Day, I stand before you as the commander in chief and try to tell you how proud I am of the sacrifice and service of the men and women who wear our uniform. They are an awesome bunch of people, and the United States is blessed to have such citizens.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You answered the call when it came, took up arms for your country's sake, and fought to the limit of your ability because you believed America's security was as much your responsibility as it was the professional soldier's. And when you came home, you built a better country than the one you inherited. It's a privilege and an honor to be in your company.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes, and I see many of them in the audience today, our sense of patriotism is particularly strong. Because while we gather here under open skies, we know that far beyond the Oregon Mountains, in the streets of Baghdad and the outskirts of Kabul, America's sons and daughters are sacrificing on our behalf. And our thoughts and prayers are with them.

LLOYD: Senator Clinton didn't speak publicly about Memorial Day, but issued a statement on her Web site saying:

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our moral obligation is significant for the simple reason that the sacrifice of those who serve and have served in our military demonstrates a profound example of commitment and love for our nation. We must return to them all they have given, and we must remember and honor those who gave their all, their lives, for our great nation.

Midwest Tornadoes

LLOYD: In the Midwestern U.S., several states are cleaning up after powerful storms spawned tornadoes over the weekend. The severe weather battered the region, killing at least nine people and wounding dozens of others. Authorities say nearly half of this Iowa town is in ruins. Hundreds of homes are damaged or destroyed. According to the mayor, if it wasn't for the warning sirens, the amount of injuries and loss of life would have been tremendous.

Myanmar Aid

LLOYD: Heading overseas to Myanmar, the country is struggling to recover from a deadly cyclone that struck earlier this month, killing tens of thousands of people. Myanmar's government had been reluctant to accept aid from other countries, and last week, they refused to allow U.S. warships to deliver relief supplies. But during a recent visit from the U.N. secretary general, the government agreed to let aid workers, regardless of nationality, into the areas affected by the cyclone.

Moments Frozen in Time

LLOYD: In neighboring China, the toll of a recent, deadly earthquake is climbing almost daily. Officials now say more than 65,000 people were killed by the quake. Strong aftershocks have damaged homes and cut off roads in several provinces. And officials are concerned about flooding in some areas, after the tremors caused landslides that dammed a nearby river. Many news stories focus on what's happened after this massive quake. But Kyung Lah explains what one group of people was doing before it, and how their personal images of the disaster have been captured forever.


KYUNG LAH, CNN REPORTER: Frozen in time, the moment the quake struck: A bride in her wedding dress; her church in ruins. Young couples who had all scheduled wedding photos taken months before their wedding day, as is Chinese custom. They hoped to capture their joy, and were now immortalized in horror. This is one of the young couples minutes after the quake.

LAH: "I heard people shouting, 'earthquake,'" she says. "I couldn't run anywhere. I fell forward, crawling on the ground until I found my fiance. He held my hands tightly as the ground was shaking and shaking." Photographer Wang Qiang never stopped taking pictures.

WANG QIANG, WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER: I could hear the walls crashing, but my mind was blank. I started taking pictures out of instinct.

LAH: Through the aftershocks, they managed to crawl out of the rubble; their shoes, wigs and wedding veils left behind. They made it to this village, or what was left of it. Jiang You Cong's home was destroyed. But that night, he shared everything he could: clothes, food and a fire to stay warm.

LAH: "They're not locals," says Jiang, "but we are all one nation. How can I not help them?" A coal truck gave them a lift out of the village. Back home, their families were all safe, their homes still standing. There were six couples having their wedding picture taken that day. Some 33 people were inside this building. All of them somehow managed to make it out alive. There are very few signs that this was once a church, but a few remain. The story of this church and the images have made their way around the world on the Internet, embraced as a symbol of hope amid ruin.

LAH: "They're something we'll keep for the rest of our lives," says the groom. "They're the most important wedding photos for us." It's a moment that's changed them as a couple forever. They do have a few photos before the quake hit. But it is the ones after, and their life together, that they will cherish. Kyung Lah, CNN, Bailu, China.



LLOYD: In China, in Myanmar, in the U.S. Midwest, the victims of all of these natural disasters need help. If you want to take part in the relief efforts, go to Join the growing number of people who are grabbing the opportunity to take action, and find out how you can impact your world.

Before We Go

LLOYD: Before we go, ladies and gentleman, start your engines! Or your feet! The Indy 500's got nothing on these diminutive drivers. Except for speed, horsepower, torque... Ok, so it's not as fast, but it still looks like fun. And there's even the occasional wreck, just like the big boys. These tiny terrors are taking part in the Kindy 500. Four and five-year-olds compete in homemade box cars. Two and three-year-olds tear down the track on toys. There's even a baby division, but they still need some work on their trash talking.



LLOYD: Or any talking for that matter. That's where we hit the road for now. Have a great day. I'm Monica Lloyd.

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