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Ceremony in Baghdad Honors American, Iraqi Forces

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


CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Great? No. Excellent? Mmm-mmm. Stupendous? Not quite. Fridays are awesome. I`m Carl Azuz, this is CNN Student News, and that paper airplane of ours should be taking off in three, two, one.

First up today, a ceremony in Baghdad honors American and Iraqi forces. It happened in a palace that once belonged to Saddam Hussein, Iraq`s former dictator who was forced out of power by the war that started in 2003.


AZUZ (voice-over): The ceremony paid tribute to the sacrifices and accomplishments that U.S. and Iraqi troops have made during that war. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was there. He said that troops from the two countries, quote, "became partners and friends and now are brothers in arms."


AZUZ: The violence isn`t over. On the same day as that ceremony, at least 20 people were killed in attacks around the country. But America`s role in Iraq is winding down, and Martin Savidge looks at how that process works.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): If the war in Iraq has a finish line, then Camp Virginia is it. The last six weeks, as many as 350 vehicles a day have been rolling into this remote base in the Kuwaiti desert, delivering soldiers and equipment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No water, no MREs, no brass, no ammo.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): Here, teams work day and night, guiding convoys through a series of stops, each one like an assembly line in reverse, taking off -- or as they say, downloading equipment accumulated over years of war.

SAVIDGE: And so what sort of stuff are they getting out at this particular point?

SGT VALERIE CARTER, U.S. ARMY: They`re getting out -- getting any POL, any kind of oil, fuel, batteries, anything that was not issued to them or that they bought, they downloading it here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pull it all out?

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Everything is sorted and collected to be thrown out, recycled or put back in service.

SAVIDGE: We brought you to this motor pool because really it`s one of the few places where you can go to get a sense of just how much we`re talking about, how many vehicles, how many trucks, how much stuff. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Camp Virginia has the capacity to house close to 7,000 troops and more than 5,000 vehicles. And even though officials say they`re below those levels, they admit it`s been challenging keeping up with what`s coming out of Iraq.

LT. COL. BRYAN BOBO, CAMP COMMANDER: It`s very busy and I will say that we`re making use of every available cot we have, all the space that we have. But it`s going really well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At ease. Listen up. Now welcome to Camp Virginia. My name is.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): But there are signs of strain. The base has had to greatly increase housing and office space, and the dining hall now remains open 24 hours a day, just to keep everyone fed. The goal is to move the soldiers from convoy to a flight back to the U.S. within five to eight days. But officers admit it can sometimes take longer.

Yet despite such problems, morale remains high, because as every soldier who makes it here knows, the next stop is home -- Martin Savidge, CNN, Camp Virginia, Kuwait.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s Shoutout goes out to Ms. New`s social studies classes at Bingham Middle School in Independence, Missouri. Which of these states is most affected by Santa Ana winds? You know what to do. Is it Maine, Florida, Texas or California? You`ve got three seconds, go.

The Santa Ana winds affects southern California. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.


AZUZ: That part of the state is feeling the effects right now. The way Santa Ana winds work is that they usually start inland, usually in a desert region. And then they blow through mountain valleys on their way to southern California.

So the Santa Ana winds are hot, dry and, in this case, incredibly strong.


AZUZ (voice-over): Experts said one gust that hit southern California yesterday was moving at 97 miles per hour. That`s as strong as some hurricanes. These Santa Anas knocked down trees and knocked out power for thousands of people.

Part of L.A.`s airport lost power, too. That caused some flight delays and forced other flights to land at other airports. The winds also knocked down power lines. In one spot, it started a grass fire that burned across two acres.


AZUZ: From winds in California to fog in Tennessee, authorities say a heavy layer of fog on a state highway yesterday was part of what caused a massive string of car accidents.


AZUZ (voice-over): . and we mean massive. One hundred seventy-six vehicles involved, one person was killed, 16 others were injured, though none of those injuries was critical. It all started around 8:00 am yesterday. Officials say one car ran off the highway, and that triggered a chain reaction of crashes. In addition to the fog, authorities say black ice might have caused some of the accidents as well.



AZUZ: We want you to send us your iReport.

All right, you`ve been seeing this all week on CNN Student News and the reason is because you only have until next Thursday to complete this assignment. All we want you to do is talk to us, 20 seconds or less, you talking, no music.

Tell us what you`re looking forward to in 2012. You have to be at least 13 years old, you can shoot it on any digital video camera -- we did this one on a smartphone -- and you can send it to us at


AZUZ: All right. At a high school in Boca Raton, Florida, the cheerleading squad was looking to expand. That worked out well, because some of the school`s students wanted to join. Angela Rozier of affiliate WPBF has this report on the results of the matchup.



ANGELA ROZIER, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): It`s three o`clock in the afternoon, and it`s time for cheerleading practice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And throw. (Inaudible). Here it comes, (inaudible).

ROZIER (voice-over): But here at Boca Raton Community High School, the young ladies on this year`s squad are trying something different.

JACQUELINE WARNE, CHEERLEADER: Well, this is my first time, because they built a special needs team and I`m on special needs teams.

ROZIER (voice-over): Jacqueline Warne is a senior here at Boca Raton Community High.

ROZIER: Why do you like cheering?

WARNE: I like it because it`s fun.

DON FRANCESCO: It was kind of twofold. We wanted to grow the program and really make it as inclusive as possible, you know, get as many kids out as we could.

ROZIER (voice-over): Coaches say Jacqueline and about six other special needs students expressed an interest in joining the team.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you remember where you are? You`re over here, all right?

TIFF O`BRYAN, CHEERLEADING COACH: I love it. It`s like a -- I`m a ESE (ph) teacher, so it`s a dream come true for me, too. You know, I just -- I love to see them a part of everything.

DON FRANCESCO: We alter things as needed. But for the most part, I really kind of try to just let them go and treat them, you know, like everybody else.

ROZIER (voice-over): And they say the veterans of the squad just love them.

MARGOT KESSLER, 9TH GRADE CHEERLEADER: They`re just so much fun, like they`re always smiling. And like everybody gives you a hug and stuff when they see you.

PAIGE STERRENBERG, 9TH GRADE CHEERLEADER: Oh, I loved it. They`re so much fun, like they bring so much energy to us and they just always like brighten our day, like they catch on so fast, like everything we do, it`s just a blast to work with them.


AZUZ: Finally, today, working in a newsroom studio requires focus. You see people moving around behind me. Got to ignore that. There`s a director and a producer talking in my ear right now. Y`all need to be quiet. But I don`t let any of that throw me off my game. There is one kind of distraction that can just be overwhelming, though. Jeanne Moos has the alarming details.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): No cause for alarm.


MOOS (voice-over): Fire alarms go off everywhere, from the U.N. to church.


MOOS (voice-over): But the one that went off at the beginning of the NBC "Nightly News" made news.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, ANCHOR, "NIGHTLY NEWS WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS": For all the bankruptcies we`ve covered in this grim U.S. economy, this one gets your attention.

You`ll forgive us. We have.

MOOS (voice-over): The alarm was unforgiving.

WILLIAMS: . though perhaps not something special anymore.

MOOS (voice-over): . it went on.

WILLIAMS: Andrea, thanks. That fire alarm we assured everybody had been given the all-clear is back on.

MOOS (voice-over): . and on.

WILLIAMS: Thanks for bearing with us here.

MOOS (voice-over): . not totally stopping until about 23 minutes into the newscast.

WILLIAMS: We continue to be under no danger. It`s just clearing the electronics.

MOOS (voice-over): But poor Brian Williams is not alone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Especially in some already close races here in the northeast -- fire alarm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s the fire alarm.

MOOS (voice-over): The fire alarm has been alarming anchors regularly.

CONNIE CHUNG, CNN ANCHOR: (Inaudible) -- oh, my goodness.

MOOS (voice-over): Connie Chung was tortured by one during her very first show at CNN.


CHUNG: There it goes again.

MOOS: There is one sure-fire TV strategy for when the fire alarm goes off when you`re live on the air -- go to break.

MOOS (voice-over): But sometimes it`s the real thing.

LINDA STOUFFER, CNN ANCHOR: . Florida became the first state to allow citizens -- excuse me. We`re having some technical problems in the studio.

Let me try to get through this and while we figure out what to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to have to go to a break, guys. We have a fire in the studio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dissolve 17. Hit your music.

MOOS (voice-over): Abandon set. A popped light was shooting sparks.


AZUZ: I`ll tell y`all, a fire in the studio would be pretty scary but it`s also bound to "spark" some conversation. Now I don`t want to "alarm" you. It looks like we`re out of time. I`m Carl Azuz. See you guys, Have a wonderful weekend and we`ll see you back here next Monday. Bye-bye.