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STUDENT NEWS

American Soldier Held Captive by Taliban Returns Home; Mission to Mars

Aired June 2, 2014 - 04:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to CNN STUDENT NEWS. I`m Carl Azuz. This is our last week on air before the summer break. First up today, a prisoner exchange. Bowe Bergdahl was the last American soldier held captive from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 28-year old Army sergeant went missing while deployed in Afghanistan in 2009. He was released by the Taliban Saturday. In order to get that done, the Obama administration released five men from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. These are photos obtained by WikiLeaks that match the names released by the U.S. Department of Defense. The Department of Defense would neither confirm, not deny their accuracy. We can tell you that the five men released were members of the Taliban, Afghanistan`s former rulers, and had suspected ties to terrorists. The U.S. has had a policy of not negotiating with terrorists and two Republicans in Congress say the Obama administration broke the law over the exchange because it didn`t tell Congress 30 days in advance of the deal. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the U.S. acted fast because Sergeant Bergdahl`s health was getting worse. There are a lot more unanswered questions, including how and why Bergdahl disappeared. We do have details on how he was recovered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB BERGDAHL, SGT. BOWE BERGDAHL`S FATHER: I`d like to say to Bowe right now who`s having trouble speaking English. [Speaking in foreign language] "I`m your father, Bowe."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An emotional moment as Bowe Bergdahl`s parents stand with the president.

JANI BERGDAHL`S, SGT. BOWE BERGDAHL`S MOTHER: I just want to say, thank you to everyone who has supported Bowe.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: After nearly five years in captivity their son Bowe is coming home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Release me, please, I`m begging you, bring me home, please. Bring me home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Behind the scenes, a secret choreography had quickly been worked out in just the last several days. A U.S. command center was set up, and at an undisclosed location. U.S. commandos secretly flew to a point near the border where the Taliban said they would be waiting to turn Bergdahl over.

Back at Guantanamo Bay, officials from Qatar were on standby, waiting to take custody of the five Taliban detainees that U.S. was releasing and return for Bergdahl.

That was the guarantee that Taliban need it to let the American soldier go after five years a prisoner.

The Pentagon will not disclose if it was Navy SEALs or Army Delta Force teams. They were taking no chances, several dozen of America`s most elite forces were involved. Other troops stayed at a distance planes and drones flew overhead keeping watch. The heavily armed U.S. troops landed facing 18 Taliban and Bergdahl. A senior U.S. officials says Beau Bergdahl was able to walk and they quickly got him on board of the helicopter.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: Next story, the head of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has resigned. Republicans and Democrats had been pushing for Eric Shinseki to step down. The Department he led has been caught up in a scandal over health care for American veterans. Thousands of them have reportedly had to wait indefinitely to see a doctor when they needed to. Veterans Affairs says 23 people have died waiting across the country, but sources told CNN earlier this year that 40 had died in one city alone, Phoenix, Arizona. Numerous other VA hospitals are now being looked at for possible misconduct. There`d been problems at VA facilities for decades, but Eric Shinseki says the situation can be fixed, and the next department head will have the tough task of living that process and getting veterans the health care they need.

Time for the "Shoutout." A corpsbruder is a close comrade or friend. How do you spell corpsbruder? If you think you know it, shout or spell it out. Is it a, b, c or d? You`ve got three seconds, go!

Answer here is C. Corpsbruder is spelled c, o, r, p, s, b, r, u, d, e, r. That`s your answer and that`s your shoutout.

Don`t feel bad if you missed that. A National Spelling bee champion missed it too. But Carl, how can a champion misspell a word and still be champion? Well, that`s because the other student misspelled the word antegrapalos (ph) right afterward. Then, both finalists nailed every word given to them. Didn`t matter that they included algenfilalogie (ph), zdruchula (ph), hollaschick (ph). I can barely say them, but Siram Hathwar and Ansun Sujo could spell them. They went round after round on Thursday night until finally officials at the Scripps National Spelling Bee ran out of words and announced a tie. It was the first time in 52 years that happened. Both of the teenagers walked away with the trophy, $30,000 in cash and thousands more in prizes. I guess each of them could call the other corpsbruder.

Mars, not a warm place. It does not have much atmosphere. It can`t hold water. It`s a desert with about the same amount of dry land as Earth. Despite all that, thousands of people want to go there. In fact, a company preparing for a Mars mission and potential reality show had no problem finding volunteers even if it meant they`d never come home.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, reality TV is going where no man has gone before. Mars.

BAS LANSDORP, MARS ONE: Just like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, when they landed on the moon, it was a story that was shared.

CARROLL: Bas Lansdorp is co-founder of the Mars One mission, a nonprofit foundation that hopes to send its own astronauts to the red planet and televise every step of the way.

LANSDORP: I compare it more readily to the Olympic Games, where extraordinary people do things that almost nobody else can do, and shared that success with us.

CARROLL: Lansdorp spent nearly a decade researching the mission. Its cost, $6 billion, and Mars One has already partnered with Lockheed Martin, which built 10 spacecrafts for NASA.

ED SEDIVY, CHIEF SPACE ENGINEER, LOCKHEED MARTIN: This is the first privatized space mission that Lockheed Martin is going to be involved with, right, and that makes it very exciting.

CARROLL: Mars One`s goal: Get people there by 2025.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, ASTROPHYSICIST: I think it`s unrealistic. I think they have underestimated the challenges of long-term space flight. I think they have under-assessed what it means to sustain a person in a wholly hostile environment.

CARROLL: Did we mention the trip is one-way? The astronauts would set up a permanent Mars colony? So who would sign up for such an adventure?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will be my dream come true to go to Mars.

CARROLL: 200,000 worldwide sent video applications. The field narrowed to just over 700. These six made the second round of cuts.

Why would anyone want to take a one-way trip to another planet?

MARINA SANTIAGO, HARVARD GRAD STUDENT: So I grew up watching Star Trek with my dad, and was completely inspired.

LEILA ZUCKER, ER DOCTOR: I wanted to be a doctor and I wanted to go into space. I`m a doctor. Now it`s my opportunity to go into space.

BRIAN ROBLES, EMT, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY STUDENT: They say it`s a suicide mission and you`re going to die on Mars, and I`m like, well, we`re going to die here too. So might as well live your whole life to the fullest.

CARROLL: But is one-way the best way?

SCOTT KELLY, ASTRONAUT: You got to applaud their enthusiasm.

CARROLL: Still, astronaut twin brothers Scott and Mark Kelly have their doubts.

MARK KELLY, ASTRONAUT: We didn`t send people to the moon on a one-way trip for the first time. Would have been easier to do that. But that`s not what our country is about.

CARROLL: Mars One is a private venture. These candidates say they`ve thought about the risks, the rewards.

GREG SACHS, COO, EMPOWER SOLAR: It may inspire millions if not billions of people across the earth.

CARROLL: And the goodbyes.

DANIEL CAREY, COMPUTER PROFESSIONAL: I`m torn. I do not know if I have what it will take to turn my back on my family, but this is the only thing that would make me even think about trying.

CARROLL: Mars One, an idea once out of this world.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: If you know what the Show-Me State is, then you can show me the first state featured on today`s roll call. It`s Missouri, home of Fort Zumwalt South High School Bulldogs, thank you for watching in St. Peter`s. Whether you call it the Badger State or America`s Dairy Land, Wisconsin is where we find Horlick High School. Hello to the Rebels in Racine. And in the Tarheel State, specifically in the town of Selma, North Carolina, it`s good to see the Vikings of Selma Middle School watching.

It`s tough life being a Florida black bear. You`ve got your scrounging to do, garbage to rummage through. Fortunately, one of them near Daytona Beach found a place to relax. After he tore through some trash, he apparently decided to take a nap in a hammock. Here is what`s awesome. He laid down for a bit, ran off after getting spooked, then came back half an hour later. Neighbors said it`s exciting, it`s unusual. They hope it does not happen again.

The picture alone is pretty un-bear-ievable. He`s kind of bear-coming a neigh-bear-hood cele-bear-ty. Though you`d think he could waive or sign something, he`s just got to learn to grin and bear it, y`all. I`m Carl Azuz, and we`ll bear-ing you more news tomorrow. Tame time, tame place.

END