Wednesday's News


CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Just 16 shows left before we break for the summer, so you better enjoy 'em while you can. Here with today's edition, I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Detainee Photos

AZUZ: First up, President Obama reverses his decision about releasing photographs that show alleged prisoner abuse. These pictures are from prison facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. The American Civil Liberties Union says the president's decision not to release them "makes a mockery" of his promise for transparency and accountability.

Here's a little history for you: Back in 2006, images of detainees being abused and humiliated at the Abu Ghraib military prison in Iraq sparked widespread outrage. Several prison guards were convicted, the prison commander was fired and the facility was shut down. It re-opened this year under Iraqi control.

The pictures showing military personnel allegedly abusing detainees were scheduled to be released later this month. These photos are from investigations between 2001 and 2006. The Pentagon says it is taking these allegations very seriously. At first, it wanted to keep these pictures from the public, but it agreed to release them after losing two court cases. Last month, the White House said it had no problem releasing the photos, but last week, President Obama met with his legal team because he "didn't feel comfortable" with the idea. Yesterday, he announced his decision to stop the release and offered his explanation.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals. In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.


GEORGE RAMSAY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! What country is considered the world's largest democracy? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) China, B) United States, C) Russia or D) India? You've got three seconds -- GO! With more than a billion people, India is considered the world's largest democracy. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

AZUZ: That's why India's general election lasts for a month! The country has more than 700 million voters; that is more than double the entire population of the United States. When the votes are tallied up this weekend, they won't include anyone from the village of Niwari, because everyone there refused to take part. Sara Sidner explains the reason behind the town's political protest.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the end of this dusty crumbling road, there's a political firestorm brewing. "What is the reason you hate politicians so much," village leader Munni Devi asks the group of women gathered. It's a loaded question with a simple answer. Everyone here agrees: Not one politician -- local, state or national -- has done a thing to fix the only road that connects this village with the rest of civilization. The road is so bad it doesn't matter if you're in a bullock cart or in a car, you're almost forced to go the same speed. The villagers here are so upset about the condition of the road they've formed a committee. The women have taken the lead, with Munni Devi as their leader.

MUNNI DEVI, VILLAGE LEADER (HINDI TRANSLATION): No politician has ever done anything for our village. This is why we made our committee here, and have decided that nobody will vote.

SIDNER: So, instead of the colorful political flags touting their favorite parties this election year, this village is flying black flags, signifying the will to vote is dead here.

BEGWATI TYAGI (TRANSLATION): I won't go to vote because of the road. The children travel on it; they are getting hurt by the vehicles. Everyone's worried. We will vote when the road is fixed.

SIDNER: This road has stirred up a political dust storm. Two months after its construction, it failed, and it's been deteriorating for five years now, even deterring students from attending this college. And more importantly, ambulances and some buses refuse to take this 7-kilometer stretch. Residents say it's also a killer, as vehicles try to navigate the pits and potholes.

ARUN TYAGI, VILLAGER (TRANSLATION): At least 6 young people have died here. Our pregnant women have had babies midway while being taken to the hospital. We face all these problems.

SIDNER: Political leaders have promised to fix the road. But until something's done, village life will have to continue as is. Munni Devi is just hoping she can create enough heat to get the politicians to smooth things over, literally. Sara Sidner, CNN, Niwari, India.


Shoutout Extra Credit

RAMSAY: Time for a Shoutout Extra Credit! When did NASA launch the first space shuttle? If you think you know it, shout it out! Was it in: A) 1979, B) 1981, C) 1983 or D) 1985? Countdown at 3..2..1.. GO! The first space shuttle reached orbit in 1981; the program's final flight is scheduled for next year. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout Extra Credit!

Repair Mission

AZUZ: Before that final flight, the space shuttle program still has some work to do, starting with its current mission to upgrade the Hubble Telescope. Atlantis caught up to the Hubble in orbit yesterday about 350 miles above your head, and used its robotic arm to bring the device into the shuttle's cargo bay. Astronauts are scheduled to make five space walks during this final repair mission to the telescope. All-told, the trip, which launched on Monday, is scheduled to last 11 days. A post-launch survey showed some dings in four of the shuttle's tiles, but NASA's flight director said they looked to be minor.

Summer Job Squeeze

AZUZ: Back on the ground, some of you who are searching for summer jobs might not be having much a lot of luck. The unemployment rate among teens is around 22 percent; that's the worst it's been in decades! Part of the reason: You're not the only age group applying for these positions. Sandra Endo examines the competition for seasonal employment.


SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When Virginia's Merritt Academy announced it was looking for summer camp counselors, camp director Amanda Sperling says she never expected what happened the next day.

AMANDA SPERLING, CAMP DIRECTOR, MERRITT ACADEMY: 55 emails and a full voicemail box.

ENDO: Another surprise? The ages of job seekers and their qualifications, some of them engineers or teachers like Hallie Rasmussen. Out of about 150 candidates, she's one of 25 that made the cut.

HALLIE RASMUSSEN, TEACHER, MERRITT ACADEMY: I had no idea how many people had applied, but that's very exciting that I did get it.

ENDO: In these economic tough times, the traditional summer jobs typically sought after by teens are also coveted by more experienced adults, many of them out of work or looking to change careers. Officials at Six Flags amusement parks say they've seen a lot of that lately.

MARK SHAPIRO, PRES./CEO, SIX FLAGS: We have almost American Idol lines at our job fairs. It's moms looking for jobs, teachers in the off season looking for jobs. It's grandparents looking to do something in the summer. It's fathers that are potentially looking for a second job.

ENDO: Good news for companies looking for workers with experience. Bad news for teens hoping to get some.

JACK KOSAKOWSKI, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT & COO, JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT: Our research shows that it's going to be very difficult for teens to actually get jobs. It's the toughest job market for teens since World War II.

ENDO: Experts say teens can increase their chances by applying for jobs in person, showing off their skills and keeping in mind experience isn't always everything.

SPERLING: Even though you're really well qualified, we want to make sure you still know how to have fun.

ENDO: Sandra Endo, CNN, Washington.


Blog Report

AZUZ: Some of you say texting is so much fun, it's impossible to stop, even while driving. On our blog, Mr. K's civics class asked if I text while I drive. No. No texts, no e-mail. I just tell people later I was driving. But that wouldn't work for Aimee, Scott and Jordan. They all noted that people get mad at you if you don't text them back. Frannie says, "I think people are just so used to texting that it's hard for them to stop, even just to get somewhere." A lot of you agree with Jack: "I don't think anyone really thinks they will crash or be pulled over for texting, so they just keep doing it." From Jen: "When I ride a bike, I send text messages and make a call with only one hand gripping the handle. I almost got hit by a car once by doing that, but I still do it." And from Marshall: "We can't disconnect because some people are just obsessed and don't care what happens. The benefit-to-risk factor is definitely not worth it."

Before We Go

AZUZ: Before we go, prepare for one of nature's most terrifying tales. Aahh! Okay, maybe this doesn't look that scary, but just wait for the description: headless, zombie ants. They're not coming to take over the Earth; they're already here! Attacked by vicious parasites that take over their bodies and turn them into walking zombies. Actually, scientists say this kind of thing happens more often than we know. How about that headless part? Well, the parasite larvae hatch inside the ants, eat their brains, and then their heads fall off. You know, the usual.


AZUZ: That's the kind of thing that'll really make you lose your head. I mean, it's zombie-lievable! We'll be back tomorrow to close out the week. We'll see you then.

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