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Obama Thanks U.S. Troops in Afghanistan; Onboard the USS Cole; Pope Francis`s Visiting Middle East; India Elects New Prime Minister

Aired May 27, 2014 - 04:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: We hope you had a great Memorial Day holiday. We are happy to see you this Tuesday for CNN STUDENT NEWS. First up, a surprise - presidential trip to Afghanistan. There are about 32,000 U.S. troops there serving in what has become America`s longest running war. Some of them saw a country star Brad Paisley perform on Sunday, and then President Obama spoke, praising the work of the U.S. military in the 12 year old conflict.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You`re completing the mission. We said that we were going to deny al Qaeda safe haven, and since then we have decimated the al Qaeda`s leadership in the tribal regions, and our troops here at Bagram played a central role in supporting our counter-terrorism operations. Including the one that delivered justice to Osama bin Laden.


OBAMA: So, along with our intelligence personal you`ve helped prevent attacks and save American lives back home.


AZUZ: Executives visits like this are commonly kept secret until the last minute. The president said that Afghanistan is still a very dangerous place, but U.S. involvement is winding down.


OBAMA: We are going to stay strong by taking care of our wounded warriors and our veterans.


OBAMA: Because helping our wounded warriors and veterans heel isn`t just a promise. It`s a sacred obligation.


AZUZ: Those comments came as the scandal involving veterans swirled back in the U.S. Dozens of Veterans Affairs hospitals have been accused of delaying treatment for veterans, and the Obama administration has been criticized for not doing enough about it. A U.S. official says the scandal wasn`t a factor in planning this trip. A day later the president was in Virginia for a wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery. It`s a Memorial Day tradition in the U.S. The commander-in-chief paying respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. That`s a resting place of an unidentified American serviceman who was killed in World War I. Memorial Day ceremonies and events across the country honored U.S. troops who died serving in all of the nation`s conflicts. There`s a ship sailing out of New York today, at the end of Fleet Week that carries Memorials of its own.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I`m Miguel Marquez aboard the USS Cole, and I`m here with Hannah Taylor who`s going to take us on a little tour.


MARQUEZ: It is a sophisticated machine able to project American power around the world. It`s also one of the most famous or infamous ships in the U.S. fleet. October 12, 2000, the Cole was attacked as it ported in Yemen. This suicide mission using a small boat in hundreds of pounds of explosives. 17 sailors died, 39 injured.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As you see here on the floor, there are 17 gold stars, one for each member who perished that day.

MARQUEZ: On board, reminders of that day everywhere.

(on camera): So, everywhere you go around the ship .


MARQUEZ: This things exist.


MARQUEZ (voice over): Quarters cramped and luxuries lacking, the Cole`s history a source of strength. Its skipper Commander Dennis Farrell:

CMDR. DENNIS FARRELL, USS COLE: We leave on the shoulders of the sailors who came before us. Those 17 sailors who lost their life allows us to sail this mighty warship.

MARQUEZ: The last time the Cole was in New York Fleet Week, May 2000. This picture hanging in Commander Farrell`s cabin captured a moment before any of the history that changed everything.

(on camera): Before the Twin Towers were attacked.

FARRELL: That`s right. 11 months before 911, and we came back resilient, a strong force and the force that`s ready to go back and go into battle and resilient, just like men and women of New York.

MARQUEZ (voice over): The determined warrior, named for Medal of Honor recipient Sergeant Darrell Cole will ship out for another long deployment this summer.


AZUZ: The leader of the Roman Catholic Church has traveled through a region of conflict caring a message of peace. Pope Francis just completed a tour of the Middle East. He met with Muslim, Jewish and political leaders. He stopped in Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem. He visited places that are holy to the three Abrahamic religions, and he pushed for an urgent solution to the civil war in Syria as well as renewed efforts towards peace between Israelis and Palestinians. CNN reporter Delia Gallagher wrapped some of the pope`s events from Sunday.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The second day of the pope`s trip to the Holy Land has been one of surprises. It began in Bethlehem, on the West Bank, when the pope spontaneously stopped his pop-mobile heading towards Major Square and approached a concrete wall separating Israeli and Palestinian zones. He touched the wall in prayer, a prayer not just for this wall, but for all the walls in the world that are barriers to peace. And then a surprise invitation extended to Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli President Peres to his house at the Vatican for a day of prayer for peace.

The next surprise was for the Holy Father himself at a meeting with Palestinian refugee children as they greeted him with placards saying they are under occupation. The pope told the kids I have understood your message, the past doesn`t determine your lives, violence is never overcome by violence, it is overcome by peace.

And peace was the pope`s message, reiterating the Vatican`s support for a two state solution to the crisis recognizing both Israel`s right to live in peace and security and the Palestinian right to a sovereign homeland. From Bethlehem to birthplace of Jesus to the Holy Sepulcher where Jesus is said to have been buried. The pope finished the day in a solemn ceremony of historic reconciliation between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, split since the year 1054. Reconciliation and peace for his own church and for the Holy Land. Delia Gallagher, CNN, Jerusalem.


AZUZ: A European leader called Sunday`s election in the European Union a political earthquake. The union was established in 1993. Its goals included closer political and economic cooperation between members. The E.U. works kind of like Congress, but instead of 50 states, it represents 28 European countries. Some voters in those countries want out of the union. They gave significant wins to parties that are very conservative, some that are against immigration and some that are skeptical of the E.U. Mainstream parties still have the majority in the European parliament, but the election showed that confidence in the E.U. was dropping across Europe.

Ukrainians also went to the polls over the weekend. It appeared that a billionaire business owner named Petro Poroshenko would become the next president of Ukraine. He`s known for his pro-European views, and the nation divided over whether to forge closer ties with Europe or Russia. But unrest there continues. There was violence yesterday in the region of eastern Ukraine between fighters who support Russia and Ukrainian government troops.

Finally, election results in what`s called the world`s largest democracy. India`s 15th prime minister was sworn in on Monday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: India is celebrating with drums, with firecrackers, on the streets and at the stock market. The change in mood is because of this man Narendra Modi, the runaway winner of the world`s biggest elections.

PIYUSH GOYAL, BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY: See a mood of the nation to reinvest in India, to start - kick start the investment cycle. And I thought that was one of the biggest challenges.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s the view from Modi`s camp. But winning is the easy bit. Far great challenges lie ahead. Modi has promised faster growth, more development, better infrastructure. In the coming days, he`ll need to begin delivering.

Modi will present the new budget in weeks, some of his decisions might be unpopular widening the tax base of cutting subsidies, but most of all, he will be judged on whether he can create jobs.

100 million Indians turned 18 in the five years. This was their first election. Once they hit the job market, Modi will need all of those promises and more to come good. And then there are the unknowns, the infamous 3 a.m. calls. On Friday, India`s consulate in Herat, Afghanistan, came under fire. Four men (INAUDIBLE) machine guns and grenades. They were eventually repelled. But for Modi, it was a stock reminder that leading the world`s biggest democracy comes with challenges not just at home, but abroad as well.


AZUZ: We start today`s "Roll Call in the most populated state in the Union. That`s California and it`s Simi Valley High School, the pioneers are on the train in Simi Valley. Across the country, in the Keystone state, it`s the bears who are watching in the Union City area school district. Hello to Union City, Pennsylvania. And one state up, in upstate, New York, the Queensbury Middle School Spartans in Queensbury are watching CNN STUDENT NEWS.

Longest purr on a cat. Largest collection of traffic cones. They are some pretty obscured Guinness World Records out there. How about the most people in one building wearing duct tape? It`s 752, and it was set last Thursday in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Participants had to be wearing something made completely out of duct tape. It was part of an event that encouraged its students to think creatively in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. In the end, they won the record by sticking together, by taping responsibility for their actions and by measuring up to the tale of the tape. I`m Carl Azuz for CNN STUDENT NEWS.