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Reactions to President`s Afghanistan Speech;` Stop the Hate` Contest

Aired May 3, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET



CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: From the CNN Newsroom in Atlanta, Georgia, it is Thursday, I am Carl Azuz and this is CNN Student News. First up today, we have more for you on President Obama`s surprise trip to Afghanistan.

Afghan forces are expected to fully take over their country`s security after most American troops leave in 2014. While he was there on Tuesday, President Obama signed a deal about how the United States and Afghanistan will work together after that. He also talked about the challenges that are still ahead for U.S. forces.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I recognize that many Americans are tired of war. As president, nothing is more wrenching than signing a letter to a family of the fallen nothing is more wrenching than signing a letter to a family of the fallen, or looking in the eyes of a child who will grow up without a mother or father.


AZUZ: Back in the United States, there were some different reactions to the president`s visit to Afghanistan.


AZUZ (voice-over): Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the Republican party`s presumptive presidential nominee, supported the trip. He said, quote, "Our troops and the American people deserve to hear from our president about what is at stake in this war."

But U.S. Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, said this visit was more about politics, quote, "Clearly this is campaign related. This trip to Afghanistan is an attempt to shore up the president`s national security credentials," he said.

One of Governor Romney`s primary opponents is officially dropping out of the Republican race. Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich announced yesterday he is suspending his campaign. Gingrich, who won primary contests in South Carolina and Georgia, thanked his supporters. He also expressed his support for Governor Romney.


AZUZ: A couple days ago we had a story on Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng. He had escaped from house arrest, and there were questions about where he was. The answer was in the U.S. embassy in China.


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Beijing right now. She`s there for a meeting about global issues like economy and technology. But the news that Chen was at the U.S. embassy could overshadow that meeting. Chen has spoken out against China`s government over human rights issues. That`s something U.S. officials have also raised concerns about.

Chen left the U.S. embassy to go to a hospital on Wednesday, but there are conflicting reports about how he left. U.S. and Chinese officials say it was Chen`s decision. One of his friends says Chen was forced to leave. Later Wednesday, Chen told CNN that he wants to leave China. He said he`s worried his life could be in danger if he stays.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s Shoutout goes out to Ms. Clark and Ms. Carnello`s social studies classes at California Area Intermediate School in California, Pennsylvania.

Which of these sports will be played at the 2012 Olympics? Here we go. Is it field hockey, baseball, rugby or curling? You`ve got three seconds, go.

The only one of these that will be played at this year`s summer games is field hockey. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.


AZUZ: Those Olympics are just a few months away now. The U.S. Women`s Field Hockey team is hard at work getting ready for the games. And one way they`re doing that, they`re training with Navy SEALs, the elite special forces unit. Katie Reinprecht, a midfielder on the team, talked about the experience.


KATIE REINPRECHT, MIDFIELDER, USA FIELD HOCKEY TEAM: I think there`s a lot to learn training with the Navy SEALs, obviously not really skill- based and focused on field hockey, but there`s a lot to learn, not only about yourself, but the teammates around you and I think it`s been a really good team building exercise for us.

You learn a lot about leadership and what works and how to stay calm in extremely stressful situations. So I think we`ve been able to pull a lot from our sessions with the Navy SEALs and apply them into game-like situations.

I wish I could say there was never a tough moment, but I think everyone at some point reached the point where they felt like they were going to break. But I think for a lot of the team, I`d have to say the log P.T., it`s where you`re split up into boat crews. There`s about six or seven of you.

And you essentially have to -- you`re responsible for carrying a huge log that`s I think a little over 200 pounds. And you do all sorts of exercises with it. And not only is it hard to just hold the log itself, but to do crunches with it, to do lunges, to run with it.

I think a lot of people feel like that`s a breaking point for them, where you just so badly want to drop it and you can`t, or you know there will be some sort of punishment waiting for you. And then just running with boats on your head or carrying them, there`s plenty of points where you just think this is it, and then you find a way to push yourself a little more and get through it and get onto the next step.

It`s just a mental test the whole time. You`re -- physically, you`re pushed to your limits. And you just have to learn how to cope with it and take it step by step. And you learn a lot about yourself and the person next to you. And you learn what way to push each other to get the best results.

And I think one of the most important things is calmness is contagious. You know, if you`re in a really stressful situation and you`re calm and you keep everyone around you feeling like they`re in control, you get the best results.

And I think each time we`ve gone with the SEALs, we`ve learned some sort of new lesson about what we`re capable of convincing our minds. And I think that`s been really important for us on the field, and I think it`ll continue to be beneficial for this team, heading into the London Games.


AZUZ: Eric Legrand is the newest member of the NFL`s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the former defensive tackle from Rutgers University isn`t expecting to play any more football.


AZUZ (voice-over): Legrand was partially paralyzed during a college game in 2010. He`s fought back from that injury, making major progress in his recovery. The signing is honorary. Legrand says there`s no money involved. His coach at Rutgers, who`s now the head coach of the Bucs, said he wanted to honor Legrand`s spirit and perseverance.

ERIC LEGRAND, FORMER COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYER: In my dark days, I just tell myself I can`t stay down. There`s someone out there that`s always worse than you. And that`s what I tell myself. If there`s someone out there that`s worse than me, why am I sitting here complaining? Why am I crying? I have a whole world behind my back that is waiting for me to get up out of this chair. I`ve got to keep on going.


AZUZ: Stop the Hate is the name of an annual essay contest in Cleveland, Ohio. The goal is to give students the chance to consider the consequences of hate and discrimination and to think about how things can change. Kris Pickel of affiliate of WKYC reports on this year`s winner.


KRIS PICKEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Childhood can be difficult. For Gabrielle Jones, it was torture. The pain reflected in her writing --

GABRIELLE JONES: During recess, the kids would ask me to be their horse, and they would push me on the ground.

PICKEL (voice-over): -- taunted at school, bullied on the school bus.

JONES: Kids would throw candy wrappers and Debbie cakes in my seat and tell me to eat it. Every day, I would come home and run in my room to cry my eyes out.

PICKEL (voice-over): Gabrielle isn`t suffering any more.


PICKEL (voice-over): An essay on bullying earned Gabrielle a $50,000 college scholarship for writing not just about the pain. Her focus: the inner power she found once she hit high school --

JONES: I was not going to allow myself coming into an adult to be a victim of hatred, you know, to be a victim of bullying.

PICKEL (voice-over): -- joining the NAACP, even elected student council vice president, battling back the forces that were forcing her down.

JONES: I found out that I had a voice, and it was very powerful.

Don`t give up. Never give up. You`re as unique as a fingerprint.

PICKEL (voice-over): Gabrielle plans to attend law school and become a judge, finding the strength to make her experience an inspiration.

JONES: I`m the voice. I`m the voice for all of these kids out here who are being bullied.

PICKEL: What does the future hold for Gabrielle Jones?

JONES: It`s bright. The future holds so many things for me, you know, going through college, going through law school, staying on the right track and just an exciting future of a successful woman.

AZUZ (voice-over): Tough to beat that for a story of someone overcoming bullying. She found an outlet that was constructive and she found a way to stay positive despite everything she`d gone through.

How else can students overcome bullying? It`s a subject on our blog at


AZUZ: Today`s last story could make someone a nervous wreck.


AZUZ (voice-over): One of the oldest homes in Kasota, Minnesota, was scheduled for demolition. So the owners decided let`s have some fun. Let`s trash it with a tank.

Turns out you can rent one. (Inaudible) ran it right through the house four times. The extreme makeover attracted quite a crowd. Took about 25 minutes for the whole thing to be flattened.


AZUZ: The house was built nearly 150 years ago, but now it`s like "tanks" for the memories. The new owners might want to consider putting up a fast food joint, though, because it`s obviously the perfect spot for a drive-through. We`ll tread through some more headlines tomorrow. For CNN Student News, I`m Carl Azuz.