(CNN Student News) -- March 26, 2009
Invisible Flood Wall - Hear how a unique wall may shield some Fargo residents from flooding.
Small Biz, Big Sacrifice - Consider the sacrifices being made by some small business owners.
YouTube Blocked? - Head to China to download the details on restricted access to YouTube.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Small business sacrifices, an Internet interruption and a pool table prodigy. We're covering it all today. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.
AZUZ: We begin in North Dakota, where residents are bracing for what could be record-setting floods. Back in 1997, the Red River rose up to 39 and a half feet in Fargo, the state's most populated city. But the record came in 1897, when the river reached 40.1 feet. The National Weather Service predicts the flood waters could top that level this weekend. We've reported that the National Guard and FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are helping prepare for the severe weather. Josh Levs reports on the city's unique flood wall.
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JOSH LEVS, CNN REPORTER: This is actually a Web site about it right here from Flood Control America, from FloodControlAm.com. I'll trace you through what it's about, but I'd like to start off with some video of North Dakota in 1997. Let's go to that, because I want everyone to see how serious this is, what we're talking about. This is how bad it got at the time. We're told 11 people died in the Dakotas, in Minnesota, more than $4 billion in damages. Something needed to be done. That's why that area was one of the first in the country to get this, what you see in the next video, which is this invisible, flood control wall. We have some photos there. And what you're seeing there is the horizontal planks actually lift out, so at any time when the area is expecting to get a flood, they're able to take these horizontal planks and drop them in to the base. It's a concrete foundation and a metal-silled plate, then they can make these horizontal planks any length, and apparently it can be enough to help sometimes withstand the flooding. We have one more video here that shows you how it's put on. And all this coming from this Web site. It's very interesting.
There has been some success. Let's zoom in on the board. I want to show everyone one thing right here. There was an independent study called mitigation success stories, FEMA links to this, and they do say there are parts of the Dakotas, for example in Fargo, where it's credited with protecting a high school, protecting part of a neighborhood as well. Now ultimately, how bad can it get in this case, I can't tell you. I don't want to send out the message, "OK, everybody, you're safe." But the fact is this invisible flood control wall that lifts out, let you have a view, then when the flood's coming they drop in those planks, that has been credited with helping in the past.
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Impact Your World
AZUZ: As North Dakota braces for that severe weather, a number of organizations are getting ready to provide volunteers, food and supplies to the residents who are in the flood's path. If you want to find out how you can take part, go to CNN.com/impact and learn how you can impact your world.
Is This Legit?
ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? Around half of the companies in the U.S. are considered small businesses. Nope! It's a lot more than that. 99.7% of U.S. companies are small businesses!
AZUZ: Many of them are struggling right now. The government bailouts you hear about are usually for major corporations like AIG or GM. But President Obama has pledged to help small businesses too, by working with banks to give smaller companies loans. He says it will be a long-term effort. Carol Costello explores how some small business owners are making due in the meantime.
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CAROL COSTELLO, CNN REPORTER: Forget about a big, fat check from Uncle Sam. Here, survival means a bailout of a different kind. For Accutech Photo Machining, it means owner Paul Gemellaro is cutting his pay in half, from $75,000 to less than $40,000, all so he can pay his employees.
PAUL GEMELLARO, CEO, ACCUTECH PHOTO MACHINING: Well, there was no credit available for us and, you know, the bills kept piling up. A lot of people who work here are my friends; that makes it more difficult. They're loyal to me and they help me through the tough times, so I have to return the loyalty.
COSTELLO: His employees are not just thankful, but willing to work even harder.
MIKE MURRAY, PRESIDENT, ACCUTECH PHOTO MACHINING: It's amazing. I don't anybody else really who would do that because, you know, you have your own responsibility for your own family. It's very difficult to go from making money to making nothing.
COSTELLO: Gemallaro isn't alone in his generosity. According to a December study done by office supply retailer Staples, 50% of small business owners have cut their own salaries to avoid layoffs. Meg Hagele, who owns High Point Cafe, hasn't paid herself since December, and says she has dipped into her own savings to pay her staff.
MEG HAGELE, OWNER, HIGH POINT CAFE: I take huge responsibility for the fact that I have 15 people who depend on me for their living, and that's something that I take very seriously. And I think that that's what's missing in large business.
COSTELLO: Experts say small business owners have little choice; they don't have much fat to trim.
JOHN CHALLENGER, CHALLENGER, GRAY AND CHRISTMAS: Small business owners really get to know each and every one of their employees. They really live with them and work with them. So, it's much different than a big business, where everybody is more anonymous, certainly, as you get past a particular department.
COSTELLO: Of course, both Hagele and Gemallaro would like some government help, but both say they would never accept a bailout. What do they want? For the banks to start lending again so they can make payroll and still manage to bring home a paycheck. How often have you heard that? The Obama administration says it has a "substantial program" in place to get the banks to lend money again, but it hasn't happened yet. Carol Costello, CNN, Washington.
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AZUZ: Tough times mean difficult decisions, but do you think you'd make the same call as those small business owners? If you had built up your own company and employed dozens of people, would you be willing to take a pay cut so that they could keep their jobs? Head to our blog at CNNStudentNews.com and share your thoughts.
NIVISON: Time for the Shoutout! What type of government does China have? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it a: A) Parliamentary democracy, B) Federal republic, C) Constitutional monarchy or D) Communist state? You've got three seconds -- GO! China has been a Communist state for nearly 60 years. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: This probably isn't how you're used to seeing CNN Student News, but it is how millions of people watch and post online videos through YouTube. But try logging on to the site in China right now, and you won't see anything at all! Some say the interruption is intentional, a decision made by the country's communist government. Emily Chang downloads the details.
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EMILY CHANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: YouTube, the popular Web site where users can upload, watch and share videos, has suddenly become inaccessible in China. We're at a café in Beijing, so let's give it a try: www.YouTube.com, and then you see an error message: "The connection has timed out. The server at YouTube.com is taking too long to respond." A spokesperson from YouTube's owner Google said: "We do not know the reason for the blockage and we are working as quickly as possible to restore access to our users."
Analysts say this is the latest in the cat-and-mouse game between the Chinese government and the Internet. But why now? There's speculation the Chinese government may have blocked YouTube because of politically sensitive video released by a Tibetan exile group. The group claims the video was shot last year and shows Chinese authorities beating Tibetans, but CNN has not been able to independently verify that.
DUNCAN CLARK, INTERNET ANALYST: You never exactly know what is behind, which fingerprints are on which regulatory measure. But probably Tibet.
CHANG: It's not the first time users in China have been unable to access the site. Last March, YouTube was blocked during riots in Tibet.
CLARK: On YouTube, we tend to describe it as the government says "WeTube," not "YouTube." The government is basically used in traditional media to controlling what people see, and they don't really accept the fact that technology means they can no longer do that.
CHANG: China has routinely blocked Web sites it considers politically unacceptable, including the BBC and Voice of America. The government has also blacked out TV broadcasts of the BBC and CNN during coverage of issues like Tibet and Taiwan. But recently, CNN hasn't experienced any interruptions. The Chinese government hasn't confirmed it has indeed blocked YouTube, but in response to questions, said China is not afraid of the Internet:
QIN GANG, FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: We manage the Internet according to law, to prevent the spread of harmful information.
CHANG: If YouTube is being "managed" by the Chinese government, there's no indication of if or when the site will be available in China again. Emily Chang, CNN, Beijing.
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Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we go, we want you to see one toddler's big break. There it is. Keith O'Dell isn't even two years old, and he's racking 'em up like a pro! The little guy spends a couple hours a day at the pool table. And his parents, who met in a pool hall, go figure, say as long as he's having fun, they don't plan to pry him away. Think you could take on the two-year-old terror?
AZUZ: Beware: You might end up behind the eight ball. That's our cue to leave. You guys have a great day.