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Veterans Affairs Hospitals Investigated by Government; U.S. Troops Headed to Chad to Help Rescue Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls; Ghost Town around Fukushima Nuclear Plant and Radiation Contamination in Japan; Nose Strips for the Horses Competing at Races; Famous People Giving Commencement Speeches

Aired May 22, 2014 - 04:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, I`m Carl Azuz. Happy to deliver your Thursday edition of CNN STUDENT NEWS. Thanks for watching. There are 26 Veterans Affairs hospitals currently being investigated by the U.S. government. Accusations recently came to life that some veterans nationwide have had to wait too long for treatment. Last month sources told CNN that 40 veterans had died waiting at a V.A. hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. Yesterday, President Obama made his first public comments about this. He called the idea dishonorable and disgraceful.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Our veterans deserve to know the facts, their families deserve to know the facts. Once we know the facts, I assure you, if there`s misconduct, it will be punished.


AZUZ: But no one is being punished yet. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki still has his job and President Obama says he needs more time to review what`s happening at V.A. hospitals before punishing anyone.

Critics say that president`s not doing enough to hold people accountable and to start cleaning things up at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Next story takes us to Chad, a nation in central Africa. The White House announced yesterday that 80 U.S. troops are headed there. Chad is right next to Nigeria where more than 200 schoolgirls were recently kidnapped by a terrorist group last months. Officials think the girls might have been taken to Chad or neighboring Cameroon. The U.S. Armed Forces will be operating a drone aircraft in the region, gathering intelligence that`s hoped to lead to the girls rescue.

President Obama informed Congress of the deployment yesterday. U.S. war powers are divided between the government`s executive and legislative branches. So, president has to tell Congress whenever he sends troops potentially in a harm`s way.

Next up today, we are crossing land and see to get to Japan. There`s an eerie sort of ghost town in the northern part of the country. It`s a city named Fukushima. And its residents had to leave after an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. In addition to killing almost 16,000 people and destroying parts of the Japanese coast, the water damaged the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and the danger that will linger for decades is of a kind you can`t see.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lifeless, decaying, desolate - Fukushima is virtually untouched since that awful day three years ago when people living here had just hours to take what they could and go.

Fields once full of crops now full of black bags with contaminated soil.

Right now we are on the bus heading towards Fukushima Daiichi. We just passed the police checkpoint, which stops anybody from coming in, and what we are seeing along this road are so many empty homes, empty businesses.

A senior scientist and his research team at Fukushima University just published a study claiming the power plants operator Tepco grossly underestimated the amount of radioactive poison, Caesium 137 released during the meltdown.

This material has already gone into the ocean, it`s already there. He`s especially worried about contaminated fish in a country where most meals come from the sea. His research team says caesium spewed into the air during the meltdown and later fell into the water contaminating the North Pacific Ocean and the Japanese mainland. Tepco says the company`s radiation estimates come from the best information they have, but a spokesperson admits nobody really knows for sure.

This is my first time going inside one of the most dangerous places on earth, wearing special suits to protect us from radiation, we pass through security, board the bus and go to the heart of the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Piece by piece workers are trying to safely take it apart.

Even under normal conditions this is slow ruling (ph) work. This is reactor four, this reactor is relatively intact. But reactors one, two and three melted down. There`s a lot of damage, a lot of contamination and the cleanup is expected to take decades.

Outside, buildings battered by the 50 foot wall of water during the 2011 tsunami. Inside, a reactor control room with walls turned into makeshift notepads when the plant lost power. Water level measurements from workers trying to prevent the meltdown.

The invisible danger from Fukushima is why these town will continue to seat empty for years, as crews try to contain the slow moving catastrophe that turned their homeland into this wasteland. Will Ripley, CNN, Fukushima, Japan.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for the "Shoutout." What was the name of the last horse to win the Triple Crown? If you think you know it, shout it out! Was it Affirmed, Secretariat, Man o` War or Seabiscuit? You`ve got three seconds, go!

It`s been 36 years since Affirmed won the Triple Crown. He was the most recent horse to do it. That`s your answer and that`s your shoutout.

AZUZ: Not easy for a horse to do. The Triple Crown is considered the most prestigious prize in horseracing. It`s winning three major races, the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, all in the same year. 11 horses have done this 1919. This year, California Chrome has a shot. He`s won the Derby and the Preakness. The Belmont is set for June 7 in New York. It is the longest race of the three Triple Crown`s classics. A mile and a half around the track. It tested durance as well as speed, and there`s been controversy over nasal strips. California Chrome wears them in the races. The Belmont previously banned this from the race. But officials changed their minds this week.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the very soft part of the horse`s nose right here. When you follow the pad down - very soft part. So that part is what you want to open up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, basically we are talking about a breeze right for the horses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s the same thing you see football players wear it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it doesn`t seem to bother Lacota (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. It`s not really pulling on him, it`s not offensive to them or anything.

The whole concept is to open up the nostrils to open them up to enhance the airway. That`s essential thing for a race horse.

Hopefully, it`s doing something for them. There`s not an exact science to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The idea that California Chrome would want to keep it on after winning the Derby and the Preakness that makes sense, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. You don`t` want to change anything when you are on a roll like that.


AZUZ: We`ve also got some horses on today`s CNN STUDENT NEWS "Roll Call" galloping from East to West, we are starting with the Mustangs. They are watching from Myers Park High School and you`ll find that in Charlotte, North Carolina. In the Evergreen State, it`s great to see the pioneers. Omak High School in Omak, Washington is on our roll. And even farther west, in the Aloha state, hello to everyone at Wai`anae Intermediate School. The Sea Riders are on line in Wai`anae, Hawaii.

Is there a formula for a successful commencement speech? Does humor, plus advice, plus wisdom equal a job well done or do you just keep it short and sweet? As many of your seniors gear up for commencement, we are sharing some highlights of speeches made by American celebrities.


STEVE JOBS, STANFORD UNIVERSITY, 2005: Stay hungry, stay foolish. Your time is limited. So don`t waste it leaving someone else`s life.

CONAN O`BRIEN, DARTMOUTH COLLEGE, 2011: Staff out there should be patient. But if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound reinvention.

PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY, 1963: Every graduate of this school who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace should begin by looking inward by examining his own attitude towards the possibilities of peace.

WILL FERRELL, HARVARD UNIVERSITY, 2003: I received a degree from the school of Hard Knox (ph). And our colors were black and blue, baby.


JON STEWART, THE COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY, 2004: So, how do you know what is the right path to choose to get the result that you desired? And the honest answer is this: you won`t.

ELLEN DEGENERES, TULANE UNIVERSITY, 2009: I don`t know if president (INAUDIBLE). I didn`t go to college at all. Any college. And I`m not saying you wasted your time or money, but look at me, I`m a huge celebrity.


ERIC SCHMIDT, BOSTON UNIVERSITY, 2012: The digital ties that bind our humanity together are not possible without technology, but it`s also not possible without you, without a heart. You have the heart. And the future will not beat without you.

OPRAH WINFREY, SPELMAN COLLEGE, 2012: Surround yourself with people who are going to fill your cup until your cup runs over, so when people say you are so full of yourself, you can say, yeah!

BILL COSBY, UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO, 2012: You have this education, you have this expectations. There are parents waiting for you to move out.



AZUZ: Whether or not you do, your speaker always has an address. They are usually trying to end things on a key note. Sometimes it gives people something to talk about, sometimes it leaves them speechless. How they react really depends, but you could argue that any kind of speech at a graduation is well worth the tussle. I`m Carl Azuz and I hope to speak to you again on Friday.