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Wildfires Raging; Touring Tripoli; President on Jobs

Aired September 2, 2011 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, HOST: It`s Friday. I`m Carl Azuz, and this is CNN Student News. During the next 10 minutes, we`re heading to Washington and northern Africa. We`re going to get us started in Texas and Oklahoma.

Those states are dealing with what`s called fire season, and the one going on right now is terrible. Temperatures are soaring, up over 100 degrees. There`s a historic drought going on. And when you combine those conditions, extremely hot and extremely dry, it`s almost like you`re striking a match.


Blazing wildfires, like this one, are burning across thousands of acres of land. An acre is roughly the same size as a football field. And so far this fire season more than 3 million acres have burned.

Firefighters are making some progress, trying to get these flames under control. One method that`s had some success is what you see here, helicopters and aerial tankers attacking the fires by dropping water from above. But these dry conditions aren`t going away, especially in Oklahoma. So while some flames are put out, others start up.

And this is what they`re leaving behind, homes burned down, neighborhoods abandoned. And some of the areas that weathered the fires better, authorities are working on plans for how and when people will be allowed back in.


AZUZ: Looking ahead to next week, the economy will likely have a big role in a couple of political events that you`ll want to keep an eye out for.


The first is the debate happening in California on Wednesday among several of the Republican presidential candidates. The economy is one of the biggest issues on their minds, on the minds of many American voters right now. So it is likely to be front and center at that debate.

The next day, Thursday, President Obama is scheduled to give a speech to the joint session of Congress, like the one you see in this video. The president is expected to announce a new job growth plan right after Labor Day. Analysts think he`ll push Congress to take action on the plan during the speech.

Earlier this week, we talked about August being a tragic milestone regarding U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The situation was the opposite in Iraq, though. Thousands of U.S. troops have died in that country since the start of the conflict in 2003.

But August was the first month without a single American military death. There were no combat casualties or accidents. Now there is still violence in Iraq. The country`s citizens and military are often targeted by attacks. But during August, for the first time in more than eight years, no Americans lost their lives in the Middle Eastern nation.




The term "curator" comes from the Latin word for museum.

Not legit. "Curator" comes from the Latin word that means "to care," though you often find curators in museums.


AZUZ: For example, the museum featured in this next report from Athena Jones. This is called the Newseum, and its latest exhibit opens today. It`s about the war on terror and how it changed the work of the FBI. The exhibit features artifacts connected to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. One Newseum official says the most powerful pieces are the most personal.


ATHENA JONES, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): They are haunting symbols of grief, found in the rubble of the World Trade Center site.

Sixty artifacts make up the Newseum`s war on terror exhibit, items used as evidence in the FBI`s investigation into the September 11th attacks, like engine parts from Flight 175, found several blocks from Ground Zero; hijackers` passports found in Shanksville, Pennsylvania; and part of the five-page letter -- translated from Arabic here -- that was given to each of the 19 hijackers with instructions on how to spend their last night.

And there are several more personal items that belonged to victims, like cell phones and pagers that rang for days after the towers fell.

A team of 30 from the Newseum worked closely with the FBI for eight months to put the exhibit together, part of an effort to remember and to educate.

CATHY TROST, NEWSEUM DIRECTOR: The story was not only the investigation, but also how it changed the FBI forever. The FBI`s mission was indelibly changed by 9/11.

JONES (voice-over): The FBI`s top priority after 9/11 was to prevent another attack, and the exhibit includes articles from the shoe bomber case, like Richard Reid`s boarding pass, shoes and the four matches he struck in his attempt to bring down his transatlantic flight in December 2001.

But it`s the items from September 11th that hit home the most for this visitor.

PHIL BADUINI, NEWSEUM DONOR: It would be emotional for any American, because it`s just so searing. It`s still so hard to believe, at least for me, even though it`s been 10 years.


AZUZ: (voice-over): We`ve been asking for your comments about that 10th anniversary, and you`ve been answering on our blog at We want to share your opinions on why you think it`s important to remember 9/11 on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

Kevin says, "Remember the events can help try to prevent them and to honor those who suffered." You can share you reflections on 9/11 at


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time for the Shoutout. You`ve heard it in the news a lot this year. What is the capital of Libya?

If you think you know it, shout it out. Is it Islamabad? Misrata? Tripoli or Tehran? You`ve got three seconds, go.

Libya`s capital city, Tripoli, is home to around a million people. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.


AZUZ: Well, Tripoli is no longer under the control of embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. But there was an audio message released Thursday, supposedly from the former Libyan leader, urging his supporters not to surrender.

No one knows where Gadhafi is, and the message didn`t give any clues about that, either. If anything further develops on this over the weekend, you can get the latest news updates at

But, meantime, Nic Robertson found one group affected by the war in Libya whose story hasn`t gotten much attention so far. We`re talking about animals.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN REPORTER: Well, we`ve just come into Tripoli`s main zoo. The gates were locked. We were told that it had been under renovation for the last three years, that there weren`t any animals here. We`re just getting a look around. I can see a big vulture up there, certainly a huge bird of prey.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): As I`m looking at it, we hear a lion roaring.

ROBERTSON: It`s an eerie feeling walking around here. You don`t know what you`re going to bump into. Gunfire`s still going off. Most of the cages seem empty. We`re just trying to follow the sound of that roaring.

There he is. There he is, a tiger. He`s seen us. Just looking at him, you can see how thin he is, and the way that he`s walking, those back thighs, they`re so skinny against his back. He looks like he`s going in there to get some shade.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Then we see the lions, the male particularly skinny, with a deep scar on his head.

ROBERTSON: There`s no one here to tell us how often they`re being fed, how much they`re getting fed. We don`t even know if there`s a vet here to look after them. All we`ve seen so far is that food left by the giant tortoises. The lions look like they`re just not getting enough to eat.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Suddenly, we get some answers.

ROBERTSON: The zookeeper`s just arrived, so I`m going to ask him about the animals. (Inaudible).

How are you?


ROBERTSON: Fine? Fine. So what about the animals? Are they getting enough food, the lions, the tigers?

ROBERTSON (voice-over): He tells me for seven days the animals got nothing. Now 10 of the 200 staff have returned. They`re trying to feed all the animals. The big cats get only half the food they need, but their biggest problem is water.

He takes us to see the hippos. Of all the animals, they seem the most forlorn.

ROBERTSON: The keeper tells us he tried to get some more water in here. He even laid this plastic pipe on the floor, right into the tank here with the hippopotami. But it didn`t work, and they`re just left with that rank, fetid water that even they don`t seem to want to go into.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): They`re struggling to keep up, so many animals to feed, hyenas, bears, monkeys, deer, emus. But it`s the big cats, the meat eaters, they can`t feed enough.


AZUZ: Excellent reporting by Nic Robertson there. Before we go today, some folks in California are dying to be in a parade. Looks like they found the right one.


AZUZ (voice-over): It`s San Jose`s annual Zombie Walk. If they`re zombies, why are they still worried about doing cardio?

These walking dead have "risen up" to raise money for a local food bank. Probably doesn`t hurt that participants had a chance to show off their favorite costumes.


AZUZ: Whoever organized this event is a genius, because getting all those zombies to follow directions certainly takes a lot of "brains." I know, you`re "dying" over that one. But, please, just keep this in mind, it`s all in "ghouled" fun.

Quick programming note: we are off next Monday for Labor Day. Please enjoy the long weekend. We will see you on Tuesday. For CNN Student News, I`m Carl Azuz.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s the best one.