(CNN Student News) -- November 20, 2009
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Hi, I'm Carl Azuz. Fridays are awesome on CNN Student News. Ten minutes of commercial-free headlines -- our free online Newsquiz, and then, of course, your weekend! Can't beat that. Let's get this started.
First Up: Fort Hood Investigations
AZUZ: Congress has a new investigation going on. A committee is trying to figure out whether the Fort Hood Army shootings could have been prevented. Two of the reasons why: One -- there's a two-year-old memo that's getting a lot of attention. It reportedly says that Nidal Hasan, the man accused of the shootings, had bad judgement and wasn't very professional in his work as an Army psychiatrist. Two -- some of the doctors who worked with Hasan say he was known for having extreme religious views. So Congress' investigation is looking into whether Army officials paid enough attention to these reports. This isn't the only investigation into the Fort Hood shootings.
U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT GATES: The Department of Defense will conduct a separate review to ensure the safety and health of DOD employees and their families. We do not enter this process with any preconceived notions; however it is prudent to determine immediately whether there are internal weaknesses or procedural shortcomings in the department that could make us vulnerable in the future.
AZUZ: "This is your captain. We're gonna be delayed." Not something you wanna hear on a plane. Interesting reason for yesterday's delays, though: A computer glitch. A system in Atlanta, Georgia and Salt Lake City, Utah went down for five hours yesterday morning. It was unable to automatically set up flight plans for planes, so air traffic controllers had to do it themselves, which takes longer. Not a safety problem, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, but a serious "efficiency problem" that led to delays and cancellations across the country.
AZUZ: College students, locking arms, sitting down and staying put at UCLA. Couldn't stop a hike in their tuition. That's the fee you pay to go to college. And California is raising that 32 percent! Very significant. The state's also cutting down on what it spends -- all because its budget is just running out of money. Officials say they will increase the amount of financial aid they give to some low and middle-income students, though. Thelma Gutierrez was on the scene of the protest.
MARITZA SANTILLAN, UCLA STUDENT: I'm Maritza Santillan I'm currently a 4th year English major. I'm already working two jobs so I would have to find some other job, probably on the weekend.
PROTESTORS: No cuts, no fees! Education should be free!
STEFFI YUTAN, UCLA STUDENT: I'm here protesting the increased fees for UC tuition. They want to raise it by 32 percent for this coming winter, and then an extra 32 percent for next year. And that's just something me and my family can't afford to pay.
THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LOS ANGELES: A tense day on UCLA campus. Students awaited their fate as the UC Board of Regents met. At issue, an unprecedented 32 percent fee hike in tuition to close a $535 million dollar budget deficit. The Regents say they simply didn't have the money; that faculty has been furloughed, staff have been laid off or had their salaries cut and students will have to share the pain. But, Maritza Santillan says the budget shouldn't be balanced on the backs of middle to lower income students.
SANTILLAN: I try to pay as much of my fees on my own and I don't use my family's money because they have a house to pay for and they have kids to feed and I try not to be a burden on them.
GUTIERREZ: Steffi Yutan says her mother, who's a nurse, works three jobs just to pay for her education. And Steffi doesn't qualify for government help.
YUTAN: To see her struggle so much; it pains me. It makes me feel selfish for wanting to be educated and that's not fair because I know more than anything it's why she came here, she came here so that I can get the education that she didn't get in the Philippines.
Here's the deal: Today's Money Word is debt. It means the amount of goods, services or money that one owes to another. Put that in your word bank!
AZUZ: The U.S. government goes into debt, borrowing money, to pay for its programs. It's expected to rack up $9 trillion in debt over the next 10 years. Now we've already reported that. But what's new here is that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, more than half of that debt -- $4.8 trillion --would be in interest. That's the price you pay just for borrowing the money. And taxpayers will be paying it back: either taxes go up, or the government finds a way to cut down on its spending.
AZUZ: Out for a walk, in orbit, for more than six hours! A day after docking at the International Space Station, two American astronauts got to work yesterday installing and maintaining some parts of the lab. They have two more spacewalks to go. Their mission, to stock up the station with spare parts. And this is cool: Because the station orbits the Earth so fast, during yesterday's walk, they actually circled the Earth several times.
Time for the Shoutout! Whether you call it soda, cola or pop, what gives it fizz? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) NO2 B) H20 C) CO2 D) NaCl You've got three seconds--GO! The gas carbon dioxide, or CO2, is what puts the fizz in fizzy drinks. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: An issue bubbling up nationwide: In Illinois, some of those sodas recently got more expensive. Could happen soon in San Francisco and Colorado. Even President Obama has said quote, "kids drink way too much soda." Could a national tax on sodas reduce obesity and bring in government money? It could. Could it be seen as a threat to the freedom to enjoy a soda, without extra taxes? It could. Louise Schiavone discusses an issue that's fizzing up.
LOUISE SCHIAVONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thirsty? Have a soda, that's what your brain is telling you, says former Food and Drug Commissioner David Kessler.
DAVID KESSLER, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: The fact is that our brains, not only our brains but our children's brains are being hijacked. Our behavior is becoming conditioned and driven by all the fat, sugar and salt that's been put on every corner and made available 24-7 by the food industry.
SCHIAVONE: And that's why there are growing calls for taxation on foods that lead to obesity starting with sweet drinks. There's currently no such provision in the House or Senate health care reform bills and at Yale University, Kelly Brownell says 33 states tax soft drinks with little impact on consumption. He recommends a federal tax on sugar-sweetened drinks of a penny an ounce to deliver $15 billion in the first year alone which he says should be targeted to health programs.
KELLY BROWNELL, YALE UNIVERSITY RUDD CENTER: If there's any evidence to suggest that a tax would work it's how hard the soft drink industry is fighting this. They're lobbying extremely hard.
SCHIAVONE: The food and beverage industry has spent $26.4 million on lobbying for the first three quarters of this year. The figure is from the Center for Responsive Politics. It's a significant increase from the roughly $21 million in lobbying dollars spent last year and about $15 million spent in 2007.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, TELEVISION AD: Now we're hearing about a new tax on juice drinks and sodas. It's a tax that hurts families that can least afford it and it comes at the worst possible time.
SCHIAVONE: This ad comes from a coalition of beverage, food and agricultural industries among others who have tried to get ahead of the conversation before it becomes policy.
SUSAN NEELY, PRES., AMERICAN BEVERAGE ASSN.: And people don't want to pay one penny more on anything right now, particularly what they put in their grocery carts, so we're for solutions that will really work.
SCHIAVONE: People who care about their health, says the coalition, should understand that calories consumed and calories burned in exercise need to cancel each other out.
It's a touchy subject, and although President Obama told one interviewer earlier this year that a sin tax on soda should be explored. The White House says it is not a notion that the administration is currently pursuing. Louise Schiavone for CNN, Washington.
AZUZ: Well, this is sweet. We've got a new look for our home page, and there's a different way of getting there. You go to CNN.com -- what you wanna look for is the U.S. tab.You click on that near the top of your screen, and that's going to help you get to where we are. Just scroll down a bit on the U.S. page, you look over on the right-hand side, you see Student News. Click there, and will take you to our page. It's also the same address you remember: CNNStudentNews.com. That is your direct link. Also, we have a new Facebook video that's pretty cool -- you'll want to check this out this weekend. Our Facebook videos -- those of you who've seen them before, you know they're um...different. And this time around, it's kind-of like The Office meets Cribs. So log on to Facebook.com/CNNStudentNews, and check it out.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Driving a car: There's an app for that! But it took a team of engineers to rig it up. Wrenches on the pedals, a chain looped on the steering wheel, a phone controlling it all. The ride itself, they say, is a bit jerky. But the car can rocket from zero to sixty in, well, it doesn't. It's actually more like zero to 35. Eventually. It's not blazing speed, but when they're operating from a car with a phone, sitting from the hood.
AZUZ: You gotta give 'em a brake. I mean, they always wanna steer for safety. These puns starting to grind your gears? Are we driving you crazy? Well, my name is Car-l Azuz. We'll be rolling your way next Monday and Tuesday, so please be sure to tune in before the Thanksgiving holiday. Meanwhile, have a great weekend.