(CNN Student News) -- April 15, 2009
North Korea Quits Talks - Examine North Korea's claim that it will end talks about its nuclear program.
Protesters Surrender - Discover why protesters have suspended their demonstrations in Thailand.
How Tax Money is Spent - Find out where your tax dollars go after they're collected by the government.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Six countries have been talking the talk, but now one is threatening to walk. We'll explain what it all means. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.
First Up: Economic Outlook
AZUZ: We begin in Washington, where President Obama is talking about his efforts to restart the U.S. economy. He says that while those efforts are starting to show signs of progress, the recession's gonna cause more job loss, more foreclosures and more pain before it ends. During a speech yesterday, President Obama discussed the steps that his administration has taken to fight the economic crisis, things like the stimulus plan, working to help banks, attempts to boost the housing market. His critics say the government is spending too much and trying to tackle too many issues at one time, but President Obama believes that things are starting to turn around.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There is no doubt that times are still tough. By no means are we out of the woods just yet. But from where we stand, for the very first time, we are beginning to see glimmers of hope. And beyond that, way off in the distance, we can see a vision of an America's future that is far different than our troubled economic past.
ERIK NIVISON, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for some Fast Facts! North Korea has a nuclear program, and the international community wants it stopped. A series of meetings has focused on the issue since August 2003. They're called the "six-party talks" because they involve six nations: North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the U.S. North Korea wants to meet with the U.S. one-on-one and get a promise that America won't attack the Asian country. The U.S. wants other nations to stay involved and help negotiate an end to North Korea's nuclear program.
AZUZ: And now, North Korea says it's done with the process entirely. The country is walking away from the six-party talks, asking atomic inspectors to leave the nation, and planning to reactivate its nuclear program. The U.S. says this is "a serious step in the wrong direction." John Vause explores what led North Korea to pull out of the talks.
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JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, BEIJING: North Korea says not only is it quitting the stalled negotiations aimed at ending its nuclear program, but it will "never again" participate. The statement by the North's Foreign Ministry was carried by official state media, and it warns the country will restore its nuclear facilities which had been disabled during previous rounds of the so-called, six-party talks involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States. The North says it plans to bolster what it calls its nuclear deterrent for self defense. In October of 2006, the Stalinist state tested a nuclear device.
Both Japan and China are urging the North Koreans not to walk away from those negotiations, while Russia says it regrets Pyongyang's decision. All of this comes after the U.N. Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea's rocket launch earlier this month as contravening an existing ban on testing long-range missiles. Pyongyang claims it was a satellite on the rocket and part of a peaceful space program.
North Korea won't be back in the nuclear business overnight. More than a year ago, technicians began disabling the main reactor at the Yongbyon plant, and last June, they blew up the cooling tower there. At the time, it was seen as a dramatic gesture of goodwill. Experts say it could take a year, maybe more to rebuild. Even so, Pyongyang claims to have weaponized its existing stockpile of plutonium. Experts say that's enough for four or five, maybe six nuclear weapons. John Vause, CNN, Beijing.
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AZUZ: Moving to Thailand, where those intense political protests we told you about appear to be over, at least for now. The "Red Shirts," protestors who support Thailand's former prime minister, were asked to stop their demonstrations by one of the group's leaders. Several others surrendered to police. Dan Rivers now reports on what appears to be the end of the tense situation.
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DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, BANGKOK: After so much sound and fury, the climb-down took everybody by surprise. Just hours after proclaiming this would be their last stand, the anti-government Red Shirts were packing up and going home. It had become clear they were surrounded and outgunned by the Thai army, who'd already shown they were willing to open fire. Monday's events had clearly left the Red Shirts' leadership rattled; automatic gunfire raked over their heads. And this was their response: hijacked, empty buses as missiles. And then this one last act of defiance before the protesters gave up. The army apparently relieved that the Red Shirts had gone home.
COL. APICHART KONGSOMPONG, THAI ARMY: From now, we don't have any yellow, any blue, any red. Why don't we have the same color?
RIVERS: A refence to the color-coded sides in this political power struggle played out on the streets of Bangkok over the last two years. The Red Shirts had been trying to oust the government and get their man, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, back into power. He'd previously called for his followers to engage in a revolution, but soon called for an end to the violence.
THAKSIN SHINAWATRA, FORMER THAI PRIME MINISTER: I would like to urge everybody to come together peacefully, not just by using force. War never ended with war, and violence begets violence. I don't think that's the right approach.
RIVERS: For now, the Red Shirt mayhem is over. Four of their leaders have surrendered to the police. This stage has been the focus of the protests for several weeks, but now, finally, it's empty, and the Red Shirts have backed down. But there's still a real possibility that they may come back at some point in the future. Dan Rivers, CNN, Bangkok.
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NIVISON: Time for the Shoutout! When was April 15 established as the deadline for filing income taxes? If you think you know it, shout it out! Was it: A) 1861, B) 1913, C) 1954 or D) 1967? You've got three seconds -- GO! Congress determined the April deadline in 1954. That's your Shoutout answer, and you can take it to the bank!
AZUZ: And that is why some people might be really stressed out right now, because the deadline to file your taxes is today! Of course this annual event is based on your income, and everyone who gets a paycheck is part of the process. But where do taxes go once the government collects them? Christine Romans follows the money trail.
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CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The price of admission to the most dynamic economy in the world is your federal income tax. And among other things, the money withheld each week from your paycheck paves roads, provides health care to children, buys tanks and fighter jets, and pays the interest on America's mounting debts. It comes out of every paycheck, and you have until Wednesday to settle up the bill with the government. You might get a refund, or you may owe more.
LEN BURMAN, DIRECTOR, TAX POLICY CENTER: Generally, you end up paying more if you have additional income, like for example, you get some consulting fees or something like that, or you take on a second job, you earn more money or you get a big raise.
ROMANS: So, we thought you'd like to know how exactly how your hard-earned money is being spent and where. The largest portion goes to Social Security. After that comes defense programs, followed by Medicare. The remaining money supports programs such as food stamps, retirement and disability. But some of that money goes towards something you'll never see: about 8 percent is paying the interest on the country's mounting national debt, which totals more than $11 trillion. The 2012 projections put it closer to $16 trillion.
BURMAN: We will have more spending on interest than we spend on discretionary programs other than defense. That's a lot of money. Over time, the federal interest costs is going to be a serious problem, and it really worries tax and budget experts of both parties.
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AZUZ: A quick story from a high school in Texas, where the senior class prank seems to be not doing a prank at all. In fact, just the opposite. A group of graduating seniors opted for construction over destruction, building a garden in an on-campus traffic island. The project cost about $400, all from student donations. The pranksters hope it'll plant the seeds for a new tradition at the school.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we go, some car dealers offer all sorts of incentives. For example, if you buy this vehicle, you'll get a free gator! Convincing him to come out from underneath the car is up to you. Although by the looks of this, you might want to leave that to the professionals. They showed up to escort the unwanted visitor away -- watch that tail; you'll wreck the paint job! -- and took him off the premises.
AZUZ: See ya later, alligator.
CNN STUDENT NEWS ASSOCIATE PRODUCER (OFF CAMERA): After while, crocodile!
AZUZ: I've gotta thank our AP for rhyming with me. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.