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Obama`s Plan for Full Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan; Tourists in Favelas for the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro; Welcoming Airman Teacher Home; River of Clouds over Atlanta; Rescue Dolphin Turned Artist

Aired February 27, 2014 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Happy to have you watching CNN STUDENT NEWS. I`m Carl Azuz. We`ve got a lot of ground to cover today, starting in Afghanistan. The U.S. has more than 33,000 troops there, supporting the military mission that began in 2001. Many of those troops will be coming home this year. The question is, will some stay to train Afghan troops and help them fight terrorists? The U.S. wants Afghan president Hamid Karzai to sign an agreement about this. Because he hasn`t, President Obama is threatening to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by the end of December.


BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Why this is happening? It`s because the U.S. says it`s really running out of patience with Karzai. He`s indicated he won`t sign that security agreement that would be the legal framework for troops to stay there after the end of 2014. With no agreement, U.S. troops would have to go. They can`t get him to sign, so President Obama publicly now saying plan for a full troop withdrawal.


AZUZ: A government official from Pakistan says that would be a mistake. He says, without some U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the country would have a civil war.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for "The Shoutout." What`s the only South American country whose official language is Portuguese? If you think you know it, shout it out!

Is it Argentina, Portugal, Brazil or Guyana? There are several world nations whose official language is Portuguese. But the only one in South America is Brazil. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout."

AZUZ: Favela is a Portuguese word dating back to the 1940s. It translates to shantytown, or slum. An event coming soon to Brazil could bring a lot of money to some of Rio de Janeiro favelas. The FIFA World Cup, the biggest and most watched sporting event on the planet takes off on June 12. It will play out in Brazil over a month, and as the supply goes down for places where can stay, demand goes up as do prices and opportunities.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some of the best views in Rio from some of the cheapest rooms in town. World Cup fans, take note: Rio de Janeiro`s one infamous shantytowns or favelas have opened their doors to tourists. Dutch backpacker Michael Blommers says it`s the only way to go.

MICHAEL BLOMMERS, BACKPACKER: If they want to see the World Cup, want to see some football matches and - experience a true Brazilian life, they should really come to a favela and just check this out.

DARLINGTON: As the hostels along the beach, which usually go for around $40 will cost as much as $400 a night. Many hotels will charge over $1,000. But a bunk here at Alto Vigigal (ph) will cost just $65. Four times the normal price, but still, a bargain.

(on camera): Cheapest price around, actually.

(voice over): Still, in many ways, visitors really do have to slum it. Garbage piles up along the roads, electricity, water and sewage services are spotty at best. And transportation precarious. And then, there is security. Just a few years ago, Rio`s favelas were controlled by drug lords. Police have since stormed many of them, so called pacification. Driving out armed gangs in an effort to make it relatively safe for residents and visitors.

With all these tourists coming up here now, people have opened up shops in their own homes. This guy right down here is selling handy crafts and then right up here, there is a new tapioca sandwich shop, which I have to say, sounds pretty good to me. Let`s go try it.

"People are opening up little hotels, because demand keeps growing," he says. Indeed, upstairs his cousin has built a one bedroom that she`s going to rent for $500 during the World Cup. In other favelas the pacification efforts have had mixed success. In Hosigna (ph), Maria Clara Du Santos, says she could hear the recent shootouts from her terrace.

She rents rooms in her bright yellow house to foreign tourists. And she says safety depends on knowing where and where not to go.

That hasn`t stopped visitors in search of a more authentic experience and, of course, the great views.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Rio de Janeiro.


AZUZ: At the beginning of black history month, we explored some inspiring words from African American historic figures. As February wraps up, we are reporting on some of those who were making a difference today. We`ll start with a pair of politically minded people. First, meet Chelsea Henry. She`s been named a rising start by the Republican National Committee. Last year, she spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference and two years ago, she was the youngest Republican delegate to the party`s national convention.

Next, meet Atima Omara. She`s the first African American to lead the young Democrats for America. And in 2013, she was named one of "Ebony" magazines Power 100. It honors some of the world`s emerging leaders.

Here`s Kimberly Bryan. She started a program called "Black Girls Code," which we`ve covered before on our show. Bryan`s program teaches computer coding to young people. She says her students are able to take what they learn from their classes and use it to advance in other areas of their lives.

It takes a great deal of character to leave the people you love to serve the country you love. And while we love to show military homecomings usually involving U.S. service men and women surprising their kids, today`s character study is about how students celebrated an airman and a teacher at Linda Jobe Middle School in Mansfield, Texas.


ELIZABETH HOSTIN, JOBE MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: Each of you are a participant today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Call it a well-executed mission at Linda Jobe Middle School. With students assembled, his wife waiting in the shadows, Air Force tech sergeant Troy Harvey walked in to one surprising pep rally. His own.

Student council members planned the whole thing. To let their beloved teacher and coach know how much he was missed during his four months in Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) as we celebrate that his return, please stand and put your hearts up for Harvey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a message that Air Force veteran clearly received, time and time again.


TROY HARVEY, AIR FORCE TECHNICAL SERGEANT: They go to the trouble they did to set this up, and to express their things and love. It`s just amazing.

HOSTIN: I`m physically relaxing, probably for the first time in about four months.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Principal Elizabeth Hostin says her football, basketball and leadership coach has a calming presence that permeates the school.

HOSTIN: Having him here just gives all of us a sense of piece and comfort.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, having him back in their hallways?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s just like a ball of joy, like. He brings happiness wherever he comes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Students say now that is the perfect reason to cheer.


AZUZ: Let`s see who is watching us there. It`s time for the CNN STUDENT NEWS "Roll Call."

Pocatello High School, home of the Indians. You are on today`s roll. Glad to have you online in Pocatello, Idaho.

How about Hinesburg? It`s in Vermont. It`s where the red hogs are checking us out at Champlain Valley Union High School and in the Orange State, it`s the bull dogs day. Hi to the students of Crestview High School in Crestview, Florida.

Undulatus Asperatus, also known as River of the Sky. It`s a lot easier to say that nickname and it`s a lot cooler to look at. Check this out. These undulating waves of clouds rolled over Atlanta, Georgia the other morning. Though they are often seen in the plain states, they are not common in the American southeast. And scientists aren`t sure what causes them. They think it`s either a cold front meeting a warm front or a dry front meeting a humid one. They do agree it`s a meeting of two fronts. And whatever the right answer is, it was beautiful to those people who weren`t scared by it, and it gave us, commuters something to look out besides traffic, which sometimes moves slower than the clouds.

You can`t really call it a fish story, but it is a sight to see. This dolphin named Chance is an artist, by chance. His brush is custom-made using a pool noodle. His masterpiece is made by mouth. He is a rescue. Chance was found three years ago, stranded on an Alabama beach. He`s been recovering at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi. His rehabilitation has allowed him to brush up on some new skills. He`s a regular Leonardo Dolphinci. A Paul Cezanne. A Fincent Van Gogh. A Marine Cassatt (ph), an Edward Flipper, a Georges Seurat (ph). Teaching him to paint with a stroke of genius, we`re sure he has a massive fin club. Art critics need to get in the swim, because this mammalian Matisse isn`t taking a dive. He`s making waves, yo. I`m Carl Azuz for CNN STUDENT NEWS.