(CNN Student News) -- October 28, 2009
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NATISHA LANCE, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: You've heard a lot about the H1N1 flu vaccine. Today, you'll find out how it's made and why some scientists want to alter the process. I'm Natisha Lance. CNN Student News starts right now!
LANCE: It might be fall on the calendar, but parts of Washington seem to be turning green. That's because environmental issues are moving into the government spotlight. We'll start on Capitol Hill, where a Senate committee is holding hearings on energy and climate change. The focus is a proposed bill that aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Some scientists believe those emissions contribute to climate change. Supporters of the bill say it could cut greenhouse gases by 20 percent over the next 10 years and more than 80 percent over the next forty years. How? Well, the government would offer emission credits that companies would be able to buy and sell. But there would be a limit on the number of credits. Lawmakers who support the proposal argue that it would help the environment and help create new "green" jobs. But critics say the bill is a tax that would result in economic struggles for the companies involved and fewer jobs for employees who are let go from their current positions.
Meanwhile, President Obama announced a program aimed at upgrading the country's energy grid. It offers $3.4 billion in funding for technologies that promote green energy. For example, smart meters that people can put in their homes which can help them monitor and control how much energy they use. The money for this program is coming from the $787 billion stimulus plan that was passed earlier this year. There are some concerns about how and where that money will be spent, and some critics argue that the program will do more for utility companies than for their customers.
LANCE: Meanwhile, violence is on the rise in Afghanistan. Eight U.S. troops were killed yesterday by roadside bombs in the southern part of the country. The attacks have made October the deadliest month for U.S. forces since the war in Afghanistan started eight years ago. Military officials say the roadside bombs, like the ones in yesterday's attack, have become the Taliban's standard method for attacking U.S. forces recently. These types of explosive devices are now considered the number one threat facing American troops in Afghanistan. Last month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates approved a plan to send three thousand troops to the country to deal with the issue.
Health Care Debate
LANCE: Back in Washington, Senator Joe Lieberman has come out against part of the health care bill announced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this week. Reid plans to include a government-run health care program in the bill, although states could choose not to take part. But Lieberman says that including the government program is "asking for trouble." He's threatened to join Republican Senators in an attempt to block the bill if it includes the public option. This is where the numbers become important. It takes 60 votes in the Senate to avoid a filibuster, which is a process that's used to block a vote. The Democrats usually have 60 votes, but that includes Lieberman, who's an independent. So if he or any other Democrats take part in the filibuster, then the bill might get passed.
Is this Legit?
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? Currently, U.S. government-approved H1N1 vaccines must be made using chicken eggs. This one's true. Right now, using eggs is the only way for a vaccine to get government approval.
LANCE: Using eggs might be the only way to get a government-approved vaccine right now. But that could change in the future as scientists work to come up with faster ways to make more flu vaccines. Given the current demand for doses of the H1N1 version, it's an issue that's getting some attention. Mary Snow investigates some of the alternative production possibilities.
MARY SNOW, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: With lines like this one in Salt Lake City, it's clear there's a demand for H1N1 vaccines. But where are they? Health officials say a delay in vaccine production comes down to a 50-year-old technology that relies on eggs.
DR. ANNE SCHUCHAT, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: It's a tried and true method, but it's not perfectly predictable. Some viruses grow quickly in eggs; some don't grow as well. And what happened with this year's H1N1 vaccine is that several of the manufacturers had challenges in getting a lot of the vaccine virus out of those eggs. So, we have a delay.
SNOW: That delay doesn't surprise Dan Adams, who told us this back in July.
DAN ADAMS, CEO, PROTEIN SCIENCES: No matter what you think, the way that the major pharmaceutical companies make flu vaccines is not going to solve a real pandemic problem. It takes too long to get there.
SNOW: Adams is the CEO of biotech Protein Sciences, and uses insect cells and not eggs to make vaccines. The company doesn't yet have a license to make H1N1 vaccines. But his company isn't the only one using different technologies.
ALAN SHAW, CEO, VAXINNATE: This is the equivalent of about 100,000 eggs.
SNOW: Alan Shaw's biotech firm VaxInnate uses proteins and bacteria.
SNOW: Why is it so much faster?
SHAW: E. coli double every 20 minutes. A hen will lay an egg once a day, roughly.
SNOW: This company is applying for federal money, but the government has already invested in others, including Protein Sciences, as it seeks alternatives to using eggs. Critics ask, should the government have invested in alternative technologies earlier?
SCHUCHAT: We're optimistic that over the years ahead, some of these new technologies will bear fruit. But none of them were ready for this pandemic. It's just a sad truth that the pandemic came too early, basically.
SNOW: Currently, the government has contracts for H1N1 vaccines with five companies, all of which make the vaccine the same way.
ANDREW PEKOSZ, JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: And since growing the virus in eggs is the only FDA-approved means of generating the vaccine, that really becomes our major stumbling block right now.
SNOW: MedImmune is having less difficulty with its nasal spray vaccine, but it's not for everyone. It's approved for those ages 2-49 who don't have underlying illnesses. But it's not recommended for pregnant women because it contains a live virus. Mary Snow, CNN, New York.
RICK VINCENT, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! What U.S. city is home to the nation's first accredited college program for hip-hop? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Brooklyn, New York, B) Atlanta, Georgia, C) Los Angeles, California or D) St. Paul, Minnesota? You've got three seconds -- GO! A school in St. Paul is home to the program. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
LANCE: You heard right, it's possible to get a degree in hip-hop, right there in my home state of Minnesota. Call it a musical genre or call it a culture, hip-hop and its influence are huge. As Chris Welch shows us, whether students rock the mic or master the turntable, this program helps them explore the history of hip-hop in order to develop its future.
CHRIS WELCH, CNN ALL-PLATFORM JOURNALIST, MINNEAPOLIS, MINN.: This isn't a rapper's open mic night, and this is not a New York night club.We're in St. Paul, Minnesota, in the classrooms at McNally Smith College of Music. And these students are part of the nation's very first accredited diploma program for hip-hop.
HARRY CHALMIERS, PRESIDENT, MCNALLY SMITH COLLEGE OF MUSIC: We can study its impact on society, on people's lives. Where does this music come from? When it's angry, what are people trying to say?
WELCH: Austen Huls is one of 14 students in the inaugural class.
AUSTEN HULS, HIP-HOP STUDENT: I get chills every time I talk about it! I dunno, just being on stage, man. If I were to do it for a job, it wouldn't feel like work, and I could be having fun making my own money.
WELCH: The program is three semesters long and combines both hands-on techniques and textbook learning. Class topics include rap history, the music business and composition. Here, student Mike Johnson is performing what he's written. The industry knows this man by his professional name: Freddy Fresh. But it's Mr. Fresh to these students. He's an internationally known DJ and now, after Top 40 hits in the UK, Fresh is part of the hip-hop faculty.
FREDDY FRESH, DJ TURNED TEACHER: I was never fortunate enough to have anybody show me. I kind of stumbled into everything on my own and learned everything the hard way, and trial and error. And to see a student that has a lot of passion and has a little bit of natural ability, and to see the satisfaction that the student receives from that...
MIKE JOHNSON, HIP-HOP STUDENT: When I came here, I couldn't tell you what a quarter note was, I couldn't tell you what a sixteenth note was. And now I can tell you those things. So, I can tell you I'm learning!
WELCH: In St. Paul Minnesota, Chris Welch, CNN.
Before We Go
LANCE: Before we go, there's a saying that "the world is your canvas." This must be what that means. It's a festival in California featuring street chalk art. Some of the work is incredible, and apparently life-like enough for some people to try tossing a few coins in the water-less fountain. The display gives artists the opportunity to show off their creativity, and viewers the chance to hopefully not walk all over it.
LANCE: Although if they did, you could just chalk it up as an accident. That's where today's program draws to a close. Hope you guys have a great day. I'm Natisha Lance.