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Authorities Investigate Iraq Bombings; Illinois Primary

Aired March 21, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET


GROUP: From Park City High School at the Sundance Film Festival, you`re watching CNN Student News.


CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Thanks to those Park City High School students for helping us jump into today`s headlines. I`m Carl Azuz. This is CNN Student News. First up, we are heading to Iraq. Authorities there are investigating a series of bombings that rocked the Middle Eastern country on Tuesday. These attacks happened in more than a dozen locations across Iraq.

One official said they were coordinated and they blame them on the terrorist group Al Qaeda in Iraq. But as of yesterday morning, no one had independently claimed responsibility for causing this violence.


AZUZ (voice-over): At least 45 people were killed by the bombings. More than 200 others were wounded. Several of the attacks targeted police or government buildings. This all happened on the ninth anniversary of when U.S.-led forces invaded Iraq and three months after U.S. troops left the country.

Iraq is also getting ready to host a meeting of Arab leaders next week. Some officials are worried that Tuesday`s attacks could raise security concerns about that meeting.

Turning now to the crisis in Syria, international groups have accused Syrian government forces of abusing human rights, things like kidnappings and torture. Now those same groups are accusing the people fighting against the government of the same abuses. They`re urging everyone to stop.

A lot of the video we`ve shown you from Syria has been from YouTube. That`s because international journalists don`t have a lot of access inside the country. Phil Han looks at the role that social media has played in this crisis.


PHIL HAN, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): First, it was Tunisia, then Egypt. This time last year, much of the region was engulfed in upheaval and uprising, spurred on and inspired by what they saw and read on social media, no more so than in Syria. Thousands of YouTube videos have been published by Syrians through what little technology they have.

Those videos show the suffering and devastation at the hands of government troops. Most news organizations have been banned from reporting inside the country, which has led Syrians to become citizen journalists, risking their lives every time they post blogs or hit record on their phones.

WISSAM TARIF, SYRIA-LEBANON BORDER: From YouTube to Facebook to Twitter, to sat (ph) equipments, to hidden cams, all of that played the crusher role, because those are the tools that told the world what is going on inside the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see over there, another rocket landed on one of the civilian`s houses. This has been going on all day long. Why isn`t anyone helping us? Where is the humanity in the world?

HAN (voice-over): One activist named Danny documented the dire situation and became known as the voice of Homs. The situation was so dangerous that he fled the country.

TARIF: If there was no Internet and there was no sat (ph) equipments inside the country, which most of the uploads of the dayos (ph) happened via sat (ph) equipments, then the world wouldn`t know what is going in spite Syria, and the bloodshed would be much bigger and al-Assad will kill much, much more people.

HAN (voice-over): Phil Han, CNN, London.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s Shoutout goes out to Ms. Lentz`s students at Pilgrim Academy in Houston, Texas. Which U.S. state is highlighted on this map? You know what to do. Is it Illinois, Indiana, Missouri or Wisconsin? You`ve got three seconds, go.

You`re looking at Illinois, a state that`s home to more than 12 million people. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.


AZUZ: And that population is one of the reasons why a lot of delegates were at stake in the Illinois Republican primary. Bigger population equals more delegates and Illinois offered 54.


AZUZ (voice-over): For the leading candidates, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Senator Rick Santorum, the momentum of a win could be just as important as the actual delegate count. The results from Illinois came in after we produced this show. You can check them out on our home page, though. Go to the "Spotlight" section; click on the CNN Election Center link at


AZUZ: Every year, the U.S. Congress is supposed to come up with a budget. It starts with Democratic and Republican leaders offering budget proposals. We reported on President Obama`s plan earlier this year.


AZUZ (voice-over): Yesterday, Republicans in the House of Representatives released their proposal for the budget. The price tag: just over $3.5 trillion. It includes some changes to how Americans pay taxes and it would cancel a scheduled cut in spending for the Defense Department.

Instead, Republicans have suggested making cuts to other government programs. Political experts, though, say neither budget proposal, the House Republicans or the president`s, has much chance of being passed by Congress.


AZUZ: The nation`s capital might be feeling some tension inside, but outside a symbol of friendship is in full bloom, and up to a million visitors are expected to visit D.C. to check this out.


AZUZ (voice-over): It is the National Cherry Blossom Festival. It started this week, runs through late April. This year`s event is a true milestone, because it marks the 100th anniversary of when these trees were planted. The cherry blossoms were a gift from Japan. They`re meant to be a symbol of international friendship and the beauty of nature.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can ID me.

I was born in Kansas in 1897. I was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, first as a passenger, then as a solo pilot.

I disappeared in 1937 while trying to fly around the world.

I`m Amelia Earhart, and my disappearance has been a mystery for decades.


AZUZ: It`s been called the last great unsolved mystery of the 20th century, but now some researchers think they might have found a clue about Amelia Earhart`s disappearance.

In July, exactly 75 years after the famous aviator was last heard from, a new expedition will set out to try to find her plane. Lisa Sylvester explains what led to this new search.


LISA SYLVESTER, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Amelia Earhart was attempting to circumnavigate the globe in 1937. She was roughly 20 hours into the trip, flying from New Guinea to Holland Island when she and her navigator vanished over the Pacific Ocean.

Now a new clue may solve the decades-old mystery. This picture was taken a few months after Earhart disappeared. It`s off the Pacific atoll, Nikumaroro in Kiribati, formerly Gardner Island. Rick Gillespie has spent more than 20 years searching for Earhart.

RIC GILLESPIE, THE INTERNATIONAL GROUP FOR HISTORIC AIRCRAFT RECOVERY: This is a ship that went aground on the reef in 1929. It was an old wreck then. And what struck us is that there`s something sticking up out of the water over here. This is a piece of the jigsaw puzzle that fits right in with the other pieces we had.

So, yes, I think it`s probably the landing gear of her airplane.

SYLVESTER (voice-over): Forensic imaging specialists say it could be part of her plane`s landing gear. And there are more clues. Items common in the 1930s were found on excavation sites on the island.

GILLESPIE: The artifacts we found on this site are bottles from personal care items that an American woman of the 1930s would have, the parts of a mirror and makeup from a woman`s compact.

SYLVESTER (voice-over): Navy planes searched around the island in the days after she went missing, but found no sign of her Lockheed Electra aircraft. Gillespie believes most of it had already slipped below the ocean`s surface.

At a news conference at the State Department, Gillespie, whose group recovers historic aircraft, announced a high-tech deepwater search will begin this summer off the Pacific Island using a small robotic submarine. The U.S. government is lending it support. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she`s been captivated with Amelia Earhart since her mother first told her the aviator`s story.

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: But she embodied the spirit of an America coming of age and increasingly confident, ready to lead in a quite uncertain and dangerous world.

SYLVESTER (voice-over): Gillespie says the photograph gives them a starting point of where to look.

GILLESPIE: And the only thing we can do is make a best effort to go and search and look and see what we can find. And it`s the searching that`s important.

SYLVESTER (voice-over): The search for Earhart has been like looking for a needle in a haystack, but the haystack may be a lot smaller now.


AZUZ: Finally, today, one ski slope`s end of season tradition:


AZUZ (voice-over): They dig out a giant pond in the middle of the mountain. It looks like that snowboarder made it across OK, but this skier doesn`t quite have enough momentum. At least the crowd`s encouraging.

Momentum not a problem for our next contestant. He builds up enough speed and then easily skims his way across. Check this out. Don`t let him fool you, though. This is a tricky skill to master, even if it does seem like a simple task on the surface.


AZUZ: We`re curious how this whole "ski-eme" got started. We could have done extensive research on it. We decided to just skim through the information. So I guess we`re just left to "pond-er" the possibilities. This is painful. For CNN Student News, I`m Carl Azuz. We`ll see you tomorrow.