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Reporting on Syria; Iran Sanctions; Campaign Spending

Aired January 30, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Give us 10 minutes, we`ll give you the headlines. You`re starting your week off with CNN Student News, and we thank you for it. I`m your anchor, Carl Azuz.

We`re starting the week off with a report about Syria. There`s been an apparent spike in violence between Syrian government troops and the people protecting against the government. It`s gotten so bad that the Arab League, which had sent monitors to Syria to try to protect civilians, says it`s unable to continue that mission right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

AZUZ (voice-over): This video comes to us from YouTube. According to a group that opposed the Syrian government, dozens of people were killed in the country yesterday; dozens of others were killed on Saturday.

Now CNN can`t confirm these reports, because the Syrian government has limited what our journalists are able to do there. The protesters want Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out of power. So does the international community. The country`s ambassador says Syria is going to stay as it is.

East of Syria, you`ll find Iran, where inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have arrived. They`re there to investigate the country`s controversial nuclear program. The United States and other nations believe Iran is trying to make nuclear weapons, and they`ve asked it to stop.


AZUZ: The country has refused, insisting its nuclear program is peaceful. The European Union is among those who don`t believe that, so it`s putting sanctions, a form of punishment, on Iran, saying E.U. member countries will stop buying Iranian oil in July. Matthew Chance explains how that would hit Iran in its pocketbook.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): The sanctions are a direct attack on Iran`s major source of revenue, meant to force the regime to negotiate.

Iran`s oil exports account for the vast majority of its income, but European countries by just 20 percent. Most is sold in Asia, China, India, South Korea and Japan. Analysts say Europe`s oil sanctions may damage Iran`s economy, but they won`t destroy it.

MARK FITZPATRICK, ANALYST: I don`t think anyone is expecting that China, in particular, or India, or some of the other major Asian markets are going to cut off purchases of Iranian oil. Their economies are too dependent on it. But if Europe and Japan and a couple other countries cut off, that will be a major blow to Iran.

CHANCE (voice-over): But will it be enough to give Iran pause and restart nuclear talks?

CHANCE: The answer, say experts, is maybe. There`s no way these E.U. sanctions are going to get Iran to reverse its nuclear policy, they say, or to end its uranium enrichment activities, but it may just get Tehran back to the table. And for European countries nervous about Iran`s nuclear ambitions, that`s progress.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this legit? In the U.S., the FCC monitors contributions to political campaigns.

Not true. It`s the FEC, the Federal Election Commission, that keeps tabs on campaign contributions.


AZUZ: And in election years, the FEC has its work cut out for it. There are rules about how campaign money is handled. For example, Americans can each contribute up to $2,500 to a candidate per election. But they can give over $30,000 to a national political party. Tom Foreman tallies up just how much is spent and where it all goes.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN REPORTER: The average American family would have to work more than 14,000 years. The highest paid in the NBA, Kobe Bryant, would have to play for 29 years to make as much money as Barack Obama spent to become president in 2008 --


FOREMAN: -- $730 million. This year, the winner, whether it is him again or someone else, is widely expected to spend as much or maybe more for the privilege of getting that ultimate corner office, the one with no corners. So where does all that money go?

For Mr. Obama, 56 percent of it went to media, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsible Politics -- television, radio and Internet ads, $427 million worth. That means even at $3 million for 30 seconds, he could have bought every commercial in the last Super Bowl and half of this year`s game, too.

Still, it`s not all advertising, of course. Presidential campaigns are like rapidly growing startup businesses, and that accounts for the second most expensive item on the president`s tab last time, administration. About $175 million went for travel, staff salaries, shipping, rent, food and supplies, like staplers, Liquid Paper and umbrellas.

On the Republican side, various candidates have reported spending $32,000 on cell phones, $2,000 on floral service and, in one case, $200 on an interpreter, among other things.

The next biggest item -- campaign expenses, consultants, polling units, posters, flyers, websites and all those rallies. Bunting and balloons may be hung on trees, but they don`t grow there. And on it goes. Money for fundraising events, money for unexpected expenses.

So how much difference does all this money make? Well, there are exceptions as a rule. The candidate who spends the most or has the most spent for him wins. It`s just that simple.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time for the Shoutout. In which sport would you see these symbols? If you think you know it, shout it out. Is it squash, swimming, curling or skiing? You`ve got three seconds, go.

On a trail map and on the slopes, these are symbols for skiers. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.


AZUZ: You skiers know the sport takes a lot more than reading that trail map. You need skill, concentration, balance, and it`s considerably more challenging for someone recovering from the wounds of war. But the mission of the Wounded Warriors program is to help America`s veterans readjust to peaceful civilian life. Here`s how that`s done on the slopes of Virginia.


TOM BROWN, WINTERGREEN ADAPTIVE SPORTS: This is the 8th Annual Wounded Warrior event at Wintergreen. The objective is to help these wounded warriors learn what`s even possible in their lives. Many of them have sustained horrific injuries, and they`re not sure what they can do.

We want to show them that skiing can be a part of their life. So we like to say that this is all about discovering new possibilities.

MATTHEW STATON, WOUNDED IRAQ WAR VETERAN: Last year I was here as an actual wounded warrior. I was one of the -- one of the soldiers or veterans here, taking ski instructions from the Wintergreen Adaptive staff, and having a good time.

This year, I`m back on staff as an instructor, an assistant instructor this year, and working and really enjoying it.

ROBERT LEE SKALITSKY, WOUNDED AFGHANISTAN WAR VETERAN: I`m very much into any kind of recovery, you know, something that`s going to help my brain, anything that stimulates this is good. It keeps my mind off of other things. So, yes, I was invited and I said, yes, you know, I`m going.

STATON: I get the enjoyment out of it. For me, it`s being able to get back out and do things like this outdoors. But at the same time, I get to show my peers who are here for maybe the first time that, hey, you can be seriously injured and then come back out here and do this. Yes, it may take a little modified technique, but we`re going to -- we`re going to get you down the hill safely, and you`re going to have fun.

SKALITSKY: So they got me rigged up in this bi-ski with these side riggers and then the hand riggers and then I`m going to have people tethering, right, tethering.

No, I really wasn`t. Wait up. So I know I`m not going down. I got five people with me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a bond that most civilians can`t relate to. I may not have personally experienced every exact moment that they have through their recovery process or their exact injuries, but at the same time, we share that bond of we went down range and we`ve done our duty, and we`ve paid with blood, but we`re not going to trade it for a single day in the world.


AZUZ: We want to see you on an upcoming edition of CNN Student News. And this is how you can do it. You can record yourself on either a camera or a phone, like you see me doing right now, talking about Black History Month. It`s next month.

We want you to tell us, in 60 seconds or less, about an important figure in black history. We don`t want to hear any music or see any pictures. We just want to see you talking. Send it to us as an iReport at, and then look for our response in your email inbox.

AZUZ: We`ve had a lot of Lego stories this school year. We`ve shown you a Lego conversation, a Lego stadium, this giant Lego man. Today, a Lego is boldly going where none has gone before --


AZUZ (voice-over): -- space. We don`t know if his hat fell off at this hair-raising altitude. We do know it was a triumph for a pair of Canadian students who rigged up a camera, GPS, Lego man and weather balloon on a budget of $400. Its 97-minute journey took it 14 miles high, literally into the stratosphere.


AZUZ: Now some might build a case that the Legonaut never saw space, but the facts all stacked up. And the pictures proved it. So you know we`re not just pulling your Lego. That`s about all the time we`ve blocked out for today`s show. For more CNN Student News, you`re just a day away. `Bye.