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Military Taking Over Thailand over Civil Unrest; Controversial Commercialization of 9-11 Memorial Museum in New York; Army and Hollywood Symbiosis

Aired May 21, 2014 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Midway through the week, welcome to CNN STUDENT NEWS. I`m Carl Azuz. Thank you for making us part of your day. A first report involves martial law. This is when military forces take over a country, usually in an emergency. And this is what`s happened in Thailand. Tensions there had been building for months. People are strongly divided over Thailand`s former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister, current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. A coup kicked Thaksin out of power in 2006. He is now living in exile. Many of those who oppose Thailand`s government think Thaksin is still calling the shots through his sister, but there are many who support him and want him back in power. And these two sides have been fighting each other in violent protests.

Well, after a lawsuit brought by senators who oppose the current leadership, Yingluck Shinawatra was removed from government earlier this month. The instability that followed is why the army says it imposed martial law. It says this could last a few months until things come down, but it also says this is not a coup. That the military is not forcing a change in government and that people should continue business as usual.

Yesterday, in the town of Moore, Oklahoma, a bell, a prayer, a remembrance of 24 people killed by a tornado one year ago. It was an EF5, the most powerful classification of twister. It was a mile wide in some places, and it left a 17-mile long gash in the landscape. There were scenes of unbelievable destruction. Block after block where only foundations were visible. City officials had to make new street signs so rescuers knew where they were going. 353 people were injured. A school, a medical center, businesses were lost, but for those who`ve chosen to stay, ground has been broken and rebuilding has begun.

Today is the public opening of the 911 Memorial Museum in New York. It centers on remembering a dark chapter in American history and honoring the ways Americans overcame it. But that`s not the only thing that distinguishes it from some other museums. Unlike the Smithsonian, for instance, the 911 Memorial charges a fee for the general public to get in. And another source of its revenue, which is accepted at other museums, is controversial here.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Praise for its beauty and dignity, there is growing criticism of high admission fees, $24 to get in, and the sale of souvenirs at the gift shop.

JIM RICHES, LOST SON ON 9/11: I think it`s a revenue generating tourist attraction.

CARROLL: Jim Riches shares the same sentiment shown in these "New York Post" headline titled "Little Shop of Horror." On sale, items such as silk scars with images of the Twin Towers, bracelets and stuffed animals. It`s not the way Richard says his son Jimmy should be remembered, a firefighter killed on that day.

RICHES: Basically, to make a money off my son`s dead body, I think that`s disgusting.

JOE DANIELS, PRES., AND CEO 9/11 MEMORIAL AND MUSEUNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we know is it`s the right thing that when visitors come here, they want to take a keepsake away.

CARROLL: Joe Daniels is president and CEO of the September 11 Memorial and Museum. He had spent the last eight years developing the site, which will cost an estimated 65 million per year to run.

The museum receives no government funding and relies on donations, revenue from tickets and money from that gift shop.

(on camera): Should you be extra-sensitive about what you sell there?

DANIELS: You know, the truth is this is the United States of America, and the number one thing is, if you don`t like what we are selling, don`t buy it. The number one seller in our gift shop is a book called The Place of Remembrance, which talks about the building of the memorial.

LEE IELPI, BOARD MEMBER, 9/11 MUSEUM AND MEMORIAL: Do I expect to say that everything we`ve done here is absolutely, 100 percent right? There`s always bumps in the road.

CARROLL (voice over): Lee Ielpi lost his son Jonathan who was a firefighter here, and while not perfect, Ielpi says the 9/11 Memorial Museum is like the USS Arizona Memorial in Perl Harbor or the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, which are also located at sacred sites and have gift shops.

IELPI: Somebody has to pay for these things, regardless how powerful it is. For Ielpi, feeling he has for his son when he sees his name at the reflecting pool, far outweighs any controversy.

IELPI: It`s reflecting absence, it says as if their souls are falling into the water.

CARROLL (on camera): A fitting tribute for Jonathan?

IELPI: For all of them. Yes. Absolutely.

CARROLL (voice over): Jason Carol, CNN, New York.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for the "Shoutout." What was the occupation of the person who designed the current American flag? You know what to do. Was it, seamstress, Marine, student or senator? You`ve got three seconds, go!

Robert G. Heft was the 17-year old high school student who designed the flag for a history project. That`s your answer and that`s your shoutout.

AZUZ: He got a B minus on the project, because his teacher reportedly thought it was unoriginal. But when the design was accepted by the U.S. government, the grade was changed to an A.

You`re going to see a lot of those Robert G. Heft-designed flags across the U.S. this weekend. Monday`s Memorial Day when America remembers its fallen service men and women. Whether you know anyone who served in the U.S. military, chances are you`ve seen troops portrayed in movies. It`s part of a long-standing partnership between Hollywood and the armed forces.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whether it`s launching a coordinated attack on Godzilla, using precision aim to take out pirates in "Captain Phillips" or killing Osama bin Laden in "Zero Dark 30," America`s favorite blockbuster hero is America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See, it looks like I`m back in the movie today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the patriotism of World War II to the special effects of modern day, the U.S. military has long had a symbiotic relationship with Hollywood. In many of these films, the Pentagon offers its expertise, equipment and locations in exchange for some oversight as to its big screen portrayal.

HELENA ANDREWS, THE WASHINGTON POST: When it comes to the movie industry, they want authenticity, it`s much cheaper for Hollywood to go through the military than to stage something like that, completely on their own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By glamorizing the Armed Forces in this theater, the Department of Defense hopes to bolster its ranks in the military theater, while boosting moral for those already enlisted.

ANDREWS: It`s about portraying the military in a positive way. You know, spit shining their image. We talk about retention, it`s making people in the military feel proud of what they do, and it`s almost like, you know, campaign video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The practice of using the military for film Cameosis, not without its critics, such as former Navy SEAL Harry Humphries.

HARRY HUMPHRIES, FMR. NAVY SEAL: It`s gotten out of hand. There`s entirely too much being discussed about a community that lives on the fact that it`s a group of folks that thrive on the concept called "Silent Pride."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After all, movies like Godzilla make glorify enlistment for young fans, but obviously, it`s far from the true bore of real battle.

Still after more than ten years of war, the line between America`s movie stars and war heroes continue to blur.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 2012`s "Act of Valor" real Navy SEALs portrayed themselves.

While last year, "Lone Survivor" parade (ph) actor Mark Wahlberg with Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell to tell the story of Luttrell`s real brush with death in Afghanistan.

(on camera): How close is it to what happened?

MARCUS LUTTRELL, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Oh, I`d say it`s as close as you can possibly without having to have killed some of these guys up on the mountain filming it.

MARK WAHLBERG, ACTOR: I`ve never been more proud to be a part of a project like this. Through the news and different various - you know, media outlets, you don`t really get the same kind of impact on understanding of what these guys do for us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whether the film industry helps or hurts that understanding, one thing is certain, the villains in this films do not stand a chance.


AZUZ: We are taking roll from around the globe today. It`s Worldwide Wednesday on CNN STUDENT NEWS. In New Brunswick, Canada, great to see you all the students at Beth Middle School watching. In Bucheon, South Korea, we are happy to be part of your day at Sunville (ph) Middle School. And in Cairo, Egypt, thank you for watching at the American International School of Egypt.

A high school football wide receiver says his whole life changed in five seconds. Here`s what those five seconds showed.

He was just playing around, really, decided to throw himself a pass, a long one, he sprinted fast and far enough to catch it and the cell phone video his friend took, went viral. It made national news. Garry Haynes dreams of playing college ball, playing in the NFL. He`s going to make this move part of his daily practice. With skills like that, you can see how his catch caught on. It`s a good thing he did the pass of the pigskin, and didn`t pass on the pigskin because just throwing something out there received a lot of attention and made for one field good story. We`ll be quarterback to business tomorrow, on CNN STUDENT NEWS. I`m Carl Azuz.