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EDUCATION with Student News

Quick Guide & Transcript: Holiday shopping, Toxic spill in China


(CNN Student News) -- November 28, 2005

Quick Guide

Holiday Shopping - Witness some consumer chaos that broke out when retailers' doors opened over the weekend.

Around the World - Take a trip Around the World for the latest on Saddam Hussein's trial and two earthquakes in the Eastern Hemisphere.

Toxic Spill in China - Teach your students about benzene and why it has become a major concern in one Chinese city.



JUDY FORTIN, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: You might not think a pressurized cabin is needed when hot-air ballooning, but up next, we'll show you one skyward trip that actually required it! Welcome to CNN Student News! I'm Judy Fortin, and here are some of the questions we'll answer in today's show: When the doors opened on one of the year's most chaotic shopping days, how did retailers and consumers make out? When a five-point-nine magnitude earthquake rumbled beneath the Persian Gulf, what effects were seen and felt in Iran? And when an Indian adventurer reached for new heights in a hot-air balloon, what kind of basket kept him on top of the world?

First Up: Holiday Shopping

FORTIN: The National Retail Federation said the average shopper was planning to spend about 300 bucks this weekend, during the traditional start to the holiday shopping season. How well did stores do? Well, a retail research group said Saturday, this year's shopping appeared to get off to a lukewarm start, even though many retailers offered deep discounts and stayed open long hours. However, Black Friday itself may not be the best indicator of how the rest of the holiday shopping season, will go. In fact, the busiest shopping day of last year was actually the Saturday before Christmas -- talk about procrastination! Mary Snow now brings us insight now into why, for retailers, this is the most wonderful -- or at least the most profitable -- time of the year.


MARY SNOW, CNN REPORTER: In the black of night, Black Friday begins. It's the day by which retailers are generally out of the red -- indicating losses -- and finally turning a profit -- or "in the black." It's not necessarily the busiest shopping day of the year, but it is a barometer for retailers as they head into the all-important holiday shopping season, which can account for as much as half of annual sales and profits. Analysts say consumers are going into this season ready to spend, but with a sense of caution.

JOHN SALATA, DELOITTE: Fifty percent of them said they felt the economy would improve or stay the same this year. That compares to about 75% a year ago. At the same time, about 70% of consumers said they intended to spend the same, if not more, this holiday season.

SNOW: Shoppers were out in force at Macy's flagship store in Manhattan -- with some one-thousand waiting when the doors opened at six a-m. For some it was too much.

ANTHONY MAGGIO, CONSUMER: I don't know how you can even find anything in there. My wife and daughter are in there and I think I'm going to have to send in a search party.

SNOW: Elsewhere, the frenzy got out of control. Several people were trampled when the doors opened at five a-m at this Wal-Mart near Grand Rapids, Michigan. In Florida, a fight broke out among shoppers, and in Renton, Washington, police had to be called out when the crowd at this Wal-Mart got unruly.

MAN ON THE STREET: People saw it was limited supply and their animal instincts came out and they were behaving like animals.

SNOW: Some say it's all gotten out of control -- a group called "Ad Busters" has declared this Buy Nothing Day. And the self-titled Church of Stop Shopping is planning what it calls a "shopocalyse tour" preaching against rampant consumerism. Performance artist Bill Talen, who calls himself Reverend Billy, is the group's leader. He says Americans just spend too much.

REVEREND BILLY, CHURCH OF STOP SHOPPING: We are told that it's driving the economy - I don't think it's driving wealth -there are other kinds of economies to consider.

SNOW: Mary Snow, CNN New York.


Word to the Wise

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS REPORTER: A Word to the Wise... barometer (noun) an indicator; something that registers or responds to changes Source:

Around the World

FORTIN: Any earthquake of five-point-five magnitude or above, is capable of damaging buildings... And two such tremors struck over the weekend. With those stories, and the latest on Saddam Hussein's trial, here's Deanna Morawski's trip "around the world."


DEANNA MORAWSKI, CNN STUDENT NEWS REPORTER: The trial of Saddam Hussein and his seven co-defendants is scheduled to resume today in Iraq. The eight are charged with the killings of more than 140 people in the town of Dujail in 1982, following an unsuccessful assassination attempt against the former Iraqi leader. The trial was already postponed for 40 days to give the defense more time to prepare. Now defense attorneys plan to ask for a three-month delay in the proceedings. They're concerned about their security after two defense attorneys in the case were assassinated.

An earthquake in southern Iran has left at least ten people dead and dozens more injured. Search and rescue operations are underway after the magnitude 5.9 quake leveled several villages Sunday. Experts say the time of day likely played a role in the number of casualties.

WAVERLY PERSON, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: It was about 1:52 pm so that means most people were up and around, and they were not all at home sleeping, and usually when you have those in the wee hours of the morning quite a few more people are killed because everybody's in one place.

MORAWSKI: Seismologists in Iran put the quake's epicenter in the waters of the Persian Gulf. Its effects were felt as far away as Dubai in United Arab Emirates.

Another quake struck over the weekend in eastern China, killing at least 17 people. Thousands are sleeping in tents or in the open air after the 5.5 magnitude quake destroyed their homes early Saturday morning. But even those buildings left standing may have structural damage, and authorities are advising people to stay outdoors in case they collapse in an aftershock. There's been at least one aftershock so far - measuring 4.4 in magnitude, but seismologists believe the worst is over. That takes us around the world. For CNN Student News, I'm Deanna Morawski.


Word to the Wise Extra Credit

AZUZ: A Word to the Wise...extra credit! benzene: (noun) a clear, highly flammable liquid that is derived from petroleum and used in a wide variety of chemical products


Toxic Spill in China

FORTIN: Benzene is also carcinogenic, which means it's capable of causing cancer in humans. And that's why a benzene-polluted water supply was shut off last week in part of China, the world's most populous nation. How many were affected? Well, take the population of New York City and add it to that of Detroit... And you'll have about the same number as those who were without water until Sunday in Harbin, China. Jaime FlorCruz has more.


JAIME FLORCRUZ, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Chinese soldiers upgrading Harbin's filtration system - as the city of nine million people endures without its water supply. They are waiting and watching as a slick of toxic benzene oozes down the partially frozen Songhua River, the city's main source of water. The contamination follows an explosion at a chemical plant in neighboring Jilin City and the blame game has already begun.

ZHANG LIJUN, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY OFFICIAL: We will be very clear about who's responsible. It is the chemical plant of the China National Petroleum Corporation.

FLORCRUZ: For days plant managers and Jilin officials covered up the river pollution. Now they have sent teams of workers to help drill deep water wells in Harbin and have issued a public apology. But there is anxiety about long term ecological damage from the benzene.

FLORCRUZ: The Harbin disaster, environmentalists say, is not isolated story. China now faces an acute shortage of clean water.

JOHN MCALLISTER, CEO, AQUA BIOTRONIC: China cannot sustain economic growth with current path of water use and water pollution. Seventy per cent of the rivers and surface water are polluted.

FLORCRUZ: And that pollution - the price of a headlong rush for growth - makes its way into the soil and the food chain.

MCALLISTER: Far more people are being killed as a result of the pollution in this northern China plain, than eventually those will be killed from leukemia effects of the benzene in Harbin.

FLORCRUZ: Earlier this year China's leadership called for a new approach in economic growth that was less damaging to the environment. But as the Harbin disaster has shown, enforcing laws at industrial plants across this rapidly modernizing country is often beyond even the might of the Communist party. Jaime FlorCruz CNN Beijing.



FORTIN: There's still a month to go in 2005, but we're already thinking about next semester, and we need your help! Please log on to, and send us your feedback on the show, including any suggestions you have on how to improve it. We're here because you're watching, and we're watching for your feedback!

Before We Go

FORTIN: Before we go... Up, up, and out of this world? While this may look like an everyday hot air balloon...this isn't your average traveling basket! It's actually a pressurized cabin, because the pilot was aiming high, for a new world record. He reportedly topped out at a height of 69-thousand feet. That'd break the world record for the highest flight in a hot air balloon, but it still has to be verified before it's official.


FORTIN: Always trying to give you a lift at the end of a show! For CNN Student News, I'm Judy Fortin.

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