(CNN Student News) -- October 17, 2008
How Low Can it Go? - Examine some of the factors associated with the plummeting price of oil.
Targeting Gamers - Consider the practice of placing political ads inside video games.
Homecoming Queen - Witness a crowning achievement for one exceptional high school student.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: The bottom drops out on the cost of crude, and now some oil-producing countries are asking: Just how low can it go? Behind the wheel of this virtual racer, look closely as you speed down the streets. Some political campaigns are hoping you keep your eyes on more than the road. And one high school student's crowning achievement moves hundreds of onlookers to tears of joy. Hear the incredible story of this unlikely homecoming queen.
AZUZ: Hi, I'm Carl Azuz. Our first story today: the plummeting price of oil. As of Thursday, it's down more than 50 percent from its all-time high. Now, that's good news for drivers, because it means we're paying less at the pump. But it's not for OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. These are the guys who produce the oil. One analyst says the market is ignoring OPEC right now. Sasha Herriman examines the outlook for oil.
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SASHA HERRIMAN, CNN REPORTER: It's a slump, oil hitting its lowest level for 15 months, Brent crude at just $68 a barrel, U.S. light hovering at around $70 a barrel. It makes consumers happy, as they see lower prices at the pump. But producers are concerned.
IAN ARMSTRONG, OIL ANALYST, BREWIN DOLPHIN: It's a very political commodity that can be influenced by what's going on in the Middle East, what goes on with regards to terrorism, etc. And what you are seeing, I think, is that when you get to that sort of level, people start to worry about just how low can you let the oil price go.
HERRIMAN: That's what's bothering OPEC. Just 3 months ago, prices were about double what they are now, at a record $147 a barrel. With prices sliding, OPEC is trying to figure out what will happen next. Right now, the prices are sinking because of growing fears global demand's going to slip further as the world economy goes into recession. OPEC's just cut its estimate for growth in demand for oil this year and in 2009, because of what it calls "dramatically worsening'' financial market conditions and a sudden easing in demand from normally big consumer countries like the U.S. And last week, the International Energy Agency, which advises 28 nations, lowered its projection for global oil demand next year by 0.5 percent. So will the price go lower still?
JOHN HALL, OIL ANALYST, JOHN HALL ASSOCIATES: Well, that's what OPEC looking at now. So if the OPEC basket is below 70, my guess is they want to see it about 80. Saudi will be happy with perhaps 80, but others perhaps want to see it nearer a hundred. So we are there already. They are very concerned.
HERRIMAN: But lets keep this current low point in perspective. Oil prices have risen steadily over the last decade. In September 2000, oil hit what was a ten-year high, $38 a barrel, partly due to tensions in the Middle East. In summer 2006, it moved towards $80 a barrel; now that's around its current level. Oil crossed the $100 mark briefly on January 2nd of this year. The pinnacle? Well, that was on July 11th of this year. Oil surged to a new record: $147 a barrel following an increase in tensions between the West and Iran. Predictions were that it would hit $200. Now that's a far cry from where we're at today. Later this month, OPEC's due to hold a meeting to discuss the impact the financial crisis is having on oil prices. Some members have called for a cut in production to raise prices. Now, that'll be a blessing for those producers, but not for you and me. Sasha Herriman, CNN, London.
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How Now, Big Dow?
AZUZ: Low oil prices might have helped the stock market yesterday. Some analysts believe that because crude prices were cheaper, investors were eager to buy shares of oil during trading on Thursday. And that helped lead to a positive day for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Dow started off slowly, falling as much as 380 points during the morning. But it bounced back in the afternoon and closed the day up around 400 points. Experts warned that this roller-coaster ride we've been seeing is likely to continue on Wall Street.
GEORGE RAMSAY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Ms. Grosenbacher's government classes at Champion High School in Boerne, Texas! Which of these is NOT a video game? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Pilotwings, B) Phantom Reach, C) ExciteBike or D) Gauntlet? You've got three seconds -- GO! You might not know any of these titles, but they were all popular games except for Phantom Reach. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: According to one media group, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain are both spending more than a million dollars a day on advertisements. T-shirts, bumper stickers, television, radio. It seems like presidential campaign ads are all over the place! But this year, for the first time, a presidential candidate is targeting gamers, placing ads inside the games you're playing. Susan Roesgen ventures into this virtual battle for voters.
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SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN REPORTER: Full throttle in a place called Paradise. In this new X-box video game called "Burnout Paradise," you've got a lot to watch out for! But if you could slow down enough to see it, why look who's on the billboard! Could it be Senator Barack Obama urging you to vote? And here he is again in a basketball video game!
EVAN TRACEY, CAMPAIGN MEDIA ANALYST: First of all, I think it is clear evidence that the Obama campaign has more money than they know what to do with.
ROESGEN: In fact, Obama has raised nearly twice as much in campaign funds as Senator John McCain. According to the Obama campaign, the ads are supposed to encourage players to register to vote, but the ads only appear in games that are distributed in ten battleground states. And talk about change. Campaign media analyst Evan Tracey says video games are a new way to reach the next generation, if Obama can get people to stop playing long enough to vote!
TRACEY: This is a captive audience. The other risk is that they are going to stay in and play games and not vote. I think what they are really trying to do is a subtle, gentle reminder to turn off the games on Election Day and get out and vote.
ROESGEN: Even better might be to put Obama and McCain themselves in those virtual cars, and see who leaves whom in the dust. Susan Roesgen, CNN, Chicago.
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AZUZ: Today's blog post asks what you think of political ads in video games, and if games are even a good place for politics. Log on to our Web site and shout out your thoughts. Meanwhile, here's what some of you are saying about Wednesday night's presidential debate: Sarah wrote, "In terms of public speaking, I thought Obama did better, but McCain would be the better president for the country." Joaquin thinks Obama has a good chance to win because "he wants to lower taxes for people who don't earn a lot of money a year." Andrea and Alexis say "Obama has a good campaign," adding that "McCain doesn't really look or sound like he will make our national environment a good place to live in." But Magali thinks John McCain has a great chance of winning "because he's offering all his help to us and he will make a change in the USA." Sophie thought this was the best debate between these candidates, saying "they really made this debate exciting, and that they were both really good."
AZUZ: Turning from the top of the ticket to this year's vice presidential candidates and a couple programs you'll definitely want to check out: "Joe Biden and Sarah Palin Revealed." These special Classroom Editions detail the events that have shaped the lives of the VP hopefuls. The program on Senator Biden premieres this coming Monday on CNN. The one on Governor Palin aired last Monday. And the free curriculum guides for both are at CNNStudentNews.com.
AZUZ: Before we go, it's around this time of year when schools across the country select their homecoming queens. Many of you young women out there dream of being bestowed with the title. But Carol Cavazos of affiliate KTXA in Aledo, Texas tells us how that dream came true for one exceptional student.
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CAROL CAVAZOS, KTXA REPORTER: Friends say that Kristen Pass never met a stranger she didn't like, and she's always hugging or text messaging someone.
KRISTEN PASS, HOMECOMING QUEEN: I do. I'm really bad.
CAVAZOS: But she could only imagine becoming a homecoming queen. Then Friday night, the 18-year-old Aledo High School senior with down syndrome received the crown...
PASS: I like it.
CAVAZOS: ...And hasn't taken it off since!
CAROLYN PASS, KRISTEN'S MOTHER: It's extremely special. It's been just a wonderful community, very supportive community; great young kids here that are good friends to Kristen.
CAVAZOS: One hundred of those friends at Aledo High nominated her. Kristen only wished her father could be there. He died two years ago. So her grandfather, Dr. David Campbell, escorted her down the field. And then, the moment:
ANNOUNCER: Miss Kristen Pass (crowd cheers).
KENDALL PASS, KRISTEN'S YOUNGER SISTER: We were so excited and everyone in our family started bawling, even the guys. She's like my best friend too, so whenever she got crowned too, it was really a blessing. It just made me cry a lot.
CAVAZOS: For Kristen, it was a night she no longer imagines.
PASS: I'm happy.
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AZUZ: Great story. That's our crowning moment for today. You guys have a great weekend. We'll look forward to seeing you again on Monday.