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Obama, Romney on Afghanistan; What Is a Swing State?

Aired September 19, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: A jail break: island intensity, historic heat and rescue roaches? We`ve got it all covered in the next ten minutes. I`m Carl Azuz, and this is CNN STUDENT NEWS.

First up today, we are talking about foreign policy. This is something that every country and especially its leader deals with. Basically, foreign policy includes the ways, in which one country interacts with the other countries of the world. So basically, what happens outside of a country`s border. This includes issues like global trade, international treaties and military missions. In the U.S. foreign policy is a big issue during a presidential election. In fact, it will be the only focus for one of this year`s presidential debates. Some of the big foreign policy topics for the U.S. includes things like the European debt crisis, Iran`s controversial nuclear program, economic trade agreements with China and, of course, the war in Afghanistan. This last one is what this next report is about.

The U.S. has tens of thousands of troops there. But its involvement in Afghanistan is winding down, and this year`s presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have different ideas on how that process should go. Chris Lawrence compares their views.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Who never sits in the Oval Office will have to decide how the U.S. hands over to the Afghans. And that`s where we see the biggest difference, when it comes to talking with the Taliban.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We`re pursuing a negotiated peace. In coordination with the Afghan government, my administration has been in direct discussions with the Taliban.

LAWRENCE: While President Obama makes a distinction between Taliban and al-Qaeda, Governor Romney says he won`t haggle with the group that has killed American troops.

MITT ROMNEY, (R ) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We don`t negotiate with terrorists, I do not negotiate with the Taliban. That`s something for the Afghans to decide how they are going to pursue their course in the future.

LAWRENCE: So, there is negotiation versus no negotiation with the Taliban. President Obama announced an end day years in advance. Government Romney opposed publicizing that day.

The president ended the surge this month, during the fighting season. The governor would have kept additional troops there through December.

Analysts say neither man has spent much time talking about the war, but Mark Jacobson says that`s partly because the big strategic issues like the surge and handover have been pretty much decided.

MARK JACOBSON, GERMAN MARSHALL FUND: What we are looking at now is execution of the strategy, and that doesn`t require the same sort of political, capital and time from Washington D.C. that was required two years ago.

LAWRENCE: The two men don`t exactly agree on how the fighting affects the nation`s finances.

OBAMA: Because after two wars that have cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it`s time to do some nation building right here at home.

ROMNEY: Of course the return of our troops cannot and must not be used as an excuse to hollow up our military through devastating defense budget cuts.

LAWRENCE: So, the biggest difference on Afghanistan? Maybe how to spend the money when the war is over. Chris Lawrence, CNN, Washington.


AZUZ: Breaking news yesterday, after we produced this show, the Chicago teachers union voted to suspend its strike, class resumes today. More details at and we`ll have more in tomorrow`s show.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s "Shoutout" goes out to Mr. McDowell`s social studies students at Horace Mann High School in North Fandalak, Wisconsin.

These are the flags of what two countries? If you think you know it, then shout it out! Is it: China and South Korea, Turkey and Japan, China and Japan, or Turkey and South Korea? You`ve got three seconds, go!

The red flag with yellow stars is China`s and the white flag with the red circle is Japan`s. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout!"


AZUZ: Each of those countries thinks that its flag should be flying over a small group of islands in the East China Sea. This disagreement between China and Japan is getting more tense. These are the islands Japan calls them Senkaku, China calls them Diaoyu. No one lives on them, but each country says it owns them, and this dispute has gone on for decades. The situation was especially tense yesterday, and that`s because it was the anniversary of when Japan invaded part of China in 1931. Anti-Japanese protests like this one were happening in several Chinese cities. And there were anti-China protests in Japan as well. And plus, some Japanese companies stopped running some of their operations in China.

Next up, authorities in Mexico are searching for 132 prisoners who broke out of jail on Monday. This happened to the prison that`s near the U.S. -Mexico border, it`s in a city that`s about a 150 miles from San Antonio, Texas. Police set up blockades on roads that lead to the border. Authorities say the inmates got out through a tunnel in a minimum security part of the prison. Then they cut through a fence and ran across an empty lot to escape. Three prison officials are being held while the breakout is under investigation.


JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I`m Jonathan Mann with another political jargon buster. What is a swing state: it`s where the candidates spend the majority of their time in the weeks leading up to the election, because the outcome there is too close to call, and voters could swing other way.

Also called battleground, or purple states, there are nine this year, among them:


OBAMA: Colorado!


MANN: A handful of states, endless electoral possibilities, just one winner. They are crucial to winning the White House, swing states.


AZUZ: If you thought it was a sweltering summer, you are not alone. During the first eight months of the year, it has never been hotter. 2012 is the hottest year ever, at least from January through August. This map shows how high the temperatures have been spread around the country. The darker the red, the higher the temperature. So you see a lot more of this out West. As a whole, the country`s averaging four degrees above average for this year so far. The record hit stretches all the way from North Dakota down to Florida. In August, the hottest temperature was recorded in Death Valley, California where it hit 126 degrees.

According to a new report, America is getting fatter: this research examines adults obesity rates in the U.S. and how they could affect health and the economy. This map shows 2011 obesity rates. In the 12 states that are dark blue, the rate among adults is 30 percent or higher. This new report projects that by 2030, the adult obesity rate will be at least 44 percent in every state. Researchers say that kind of increase could lead to a rise in certain diseases. Things like diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers. The study estimates that the cost to treat all of that would be $550 billion. Critics say, it`s difficult to predict trends in obesity. So these projections might not be accurate.

We are going to wrap things up today with the story about a combination of technology and nature. Now, when you see a roach running across the floor, your first thought might be search and destroy, that`s my first thought, but you might want to make that search and rescue instead for reasons explained now by Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Next time you see a roach and panic ...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do we do? What do we do?

MOOS: Try imagining its coming to rescue you wearing a computer chip backpack, you are looking at a prototype for the search and rescue roach.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Biobots as we call them, or biological robots.

MOOS: Dr. Albert Bascard (ph) and his electrical engineering students at North Carolina State University have been installing circuit boards and microcontrollers on Madagascar hissing roaches.

Using a joystick, they can steer the roach along the chosen pathway by applying a tiny electrical current to the antennas and other sensors on the bug.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In order to, say, make it turn left, we stimulated right antenna.

See how zapping the antennas keeps the roach inline? Stimulating the antenna makes the roach think there`s an obstacle from which it veers away.

Researchers say it`s like riding a horse, pulling on the rains to direct it. Going where neither dog nor man can fit equipped with cameras and sensors designed to find humans buried in rubble.

The robo-roach project just got and $880,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, when the top of the roach antenna gets chopped off, and electrode inserted. Some animal lovers may hiss. Entomologists say it`s hard to say what a roach feels. They have nerves, yes, such a primitive system that it`s likely they don`t perceive pain like we do. But what about the human suffering seeing a swarm of robo roaches could induce? Note to survivors: do not step on the rescue roach.


MOOS: If it`s wearing a backpack, think of it as the San Bernard of roaches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, don`t (inaudible) your shoe, you are going to miss.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God, (inaudible) on the coach.

MOOS: New York.


AZUZ: The idea of being rescued by an insect might bug you, but if it works, there is probably no need to broach any concerns. Another round of headlines in ten minutes tomorrow. For CNN STUDENT NEWS, I`m Carl Azuz.