(CNN Student News) -- November 23, 2009
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: CNN Student News is getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday. We have just two broadcasts this week, today and tomorrow. I'm Carl Azuz with your Monday edition.
AZUZ: When they get back from their Thanksgiving break, Senators will be debating - guess what? Health care reform! They've got 60 votes Saturday night, that is the minimum number they needed to get debate started. The Congressional budget office estimates the Senate plan would cost $849 billion. It does contain the controversial "public option," which would be a health coverage system run by the government. But even Senate Majority leader Harry Reid says this bill has a long way to go. The debate alone could take weeks, and there's no guarantee the Senate's going to approve it. If it does, the bill would have to be merged with the one from the House of Representatives. That would create a new bill and then, that new legislation would then have to get through both houses of Congress. For now, though, Dana Bash looks at how the senate got enough votes to kick-off the debate.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Without a single vote to spare...
SEN. CHRIS DODD (D), CONNECTICUT: The yeas are 60, the nays are 39.
BASH: Senate Democrats united to move forward on health care.
SEN. HARRY REID, MAJORITY LEADER: We Democrats stand ready to do what needs to be done. We welcome debate.
BASH: Losing even one Democrat would have stopped the president's top priority in its tracks. The Republican leader made one last plea.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, MINORITY LEADER: If there's one Democrat, just one of our friends on the other side of the aisle, just one who would say no tonight, none of this would happen.
BASH: But he was too late, the last two Democratic holdouts had already announced that they don't like their party's health care bill, but they don't want to block debate on it either.
SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, (D), LOUISIANA: I've decided that there are enough significant reforms and safeguards in this bill to move forward but much more work needs to be done.
SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN (D), ARKANSAS: It is more important that we begin this debate to improve our nation's health care system for all Americans rather than just simply drop the issue and walk away.
BASH: But in a sign of the rough road ahead for divided Democrats, both Mary Landrieu and Blanche Lincoln, who is facing a tough re-election battle in Arkansas, pledged to oppose a final bill unless a government-run insurance option is removed.
BASH: Republicans spent all day blasting the Democrat's bill.
SEN. JOHN THUNE, (R) SOUTH DAKOTA: They have been hiding behind this voluminous 2,100 page bill at a cost of $1.2 billion per page.
BASH: Democrats spent much of their time during the 10 hour session making arguments like this:
SEN. ROBERT MENDENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: Those who have chosen to block any attempt at health care reform this year are on the wrong side of history!
BASH: Senators now go home for a week and then they will return for what is likely to be several weeks of fierce debate. It will take a lot of compromise and presidential intervention to unify Democrats again on big differences over the substance of this health care overhaul, differences over everything from the cost, to government intervention. Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.
Is this Legit?
CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is This Legit? China, Northern Ireland and Gaza are all located north of the equator. Totally true -- you'll find all of these locations in the northern hemisphere.
AZUZ: Headlines from all three of those places now starting with China, where officials are blaming a gas explosion for a tragedy at a coal mine. Dozens of people died when the blast went off early Saturday morning in the northeastern part of the country. 530 miners were working at the time. Hundreds escaped, but several of them were still trapped as of yesterday. The explosion cut off communication and power, so rescue efforts have been very difficult. And China has a bad record on this industry -- its mines are considered the world's deadliest.
Northern Ireland Bomb
AZUZ: Major destruction might have been avoided when a car bomb went off in Northern Ireland Sunday. We say that because police think the 400-pound bomb didn't totally explode. It targeted a police headquarters, which was being evacuated after the car broke through barriers. No one was hurt. Officials aren't sure yet who did it, but they called this a terrorist attack. Northern Ireland saw decades of religious violence before the "Good Friday Agreement" in 1998. That put a stop to most of it.
Middle East Violence
AZUZ: Back-and-forth violence in the Middle East: Israeli fighter jets, firing into the Palestinian-controlled territory of Gaza Saturday night. Israel says it hit places used to make and smuggle weapons and that this was a response to rockets that were fired into Israel Saturday morning. Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, says three people were injured in the Israeli jet attack, but Hamas reportedly added that its rocket attacks on Israel would stop. Israel has settlements near Gaza, and many Palestinians think they unfairly occupy Palestinian land. You can see how this is just part of an ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians.
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! Who's credited with writing the poem that begins, "'Twas the Night before Christmas"? If you think you know it, shout it out! Was it: A) Charles Dickens, B) Mark Twain, C) Mitch Albom or D) Clement Moore? You've got three seconds! GO! The story goes that Clement Clarke Moore wrote this ballad to entertain his kids on Christmas in 1822. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: In that poem, Saint Nick is described as "all tarnished with ashes and soot." But as far as we know, he was free of the H1N1 virus. Some seasonal Santas are afraid they won't stay that way, though. Jason Solowski of affiliate WFTS in Tampa, Florida tells us what's putting a damper on at least one Father Christmas' holiday cheer.
"SANTA CLAUS": Ho, Ho, Ho!
JASON SOLOWSKI, WFTS REPORTER : Tis a month before Christmas and Santa is worried, not about roof top landings or people who forgot to put the fire out in the fireplace. No, jolly ol' Saint Nick is worried about getting sick. While Santa's been busy checking who's naughty and nice, the list he really wants to be on is the CDC's guideline for who can get the swine flu vaccine.
SANTA: I need to be safe because I don't want to infect the kids and I don't want them to infect me.
SOLOWSKI: So I asked Steve Huard of the Hillsborough County Health Department why can't Santa get vaccinated?
STEVE HUARD, HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT: Well, we're not trying to be Scrooges and keep the swine flu or the H1N1 vaccines from Santa but what we are trying to do is to make sure those in our community who need it the most are able to get it.
SOLOWSKI: He says the best way to keep Santa safe is to make sure all the kids who see Santa get the flu shots themselves.
HUARD: Oh, I'm counting on getting coal in my stocking this year, now.
SOLOWSKI: He's also encouraging Santas to see their doctors to get the vaccination. SANTA: Fortunately, my doctor moved me up to the top of the list because of the high priority job that I have.
SOLOWSKI: Malls in the Bay area are taking precautions to keep Santa safe as well. At West Shore Plaza, Santa-tizer is available at both ends of Santa's Village. Something Santa hopes will keep him from being grounded this Christmas
SANTA: If Santas get sick and can't show up, ya know, there are going to be alot of disappointed kids throughout the country.
AZUZ: Here at CNN, we have a new hero. My colleague, Anderson Cooper, named him Saturday night.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360°: Ladies and gentlemen it's my great privilege to announce the CNN Hero of the Year. The CNN Hero of the Year is Efren Penaflorida.
AZUZ: Mr. Penaflorida started a "pushcart classroom" in the Philippines, helping poor children join the educated, instead of the gangs. He'll get $100,000 to continue his work.
EFREN PENAFLORIDA, CNN HERO OF THE YEAR: Each person has a hidden hero within. You just have to look inside you and search it in your heart.
AZUZ: And heart was seen in all of our CNN Hero nominees this year. You might not have heard of Penaflorida until now, but the names Carrie Underwood, Eva Mendes, Randy Jackson and Neil Patrick Harris may ring a bell. You can see all the stars who came out -- and the top 10 heroes they honored -- Thanksgiving, 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, on CNN.
Before We Go
AZUZ: We've got just one more story to fill up our show today. And it's in the bag. Who woulda thunk they'd have a competition to bag groceries? And it's not just about speed and weight, the 20 New York City competitors were also judged on technique -- you have to finesse the groceries -- and style! The winner had 15 years' experience, and will now go on to a state competition. Others are just going to have to let bag-ons be bag-ons.
AZUZ: Bagging groceries was actually my first job back in the day. I never achieved the title of expert, though -- I pretty much stayed a bag-inner. Ack! Okay, check it out: We've got one more this week. That is going to be tomorrow, and then CNN Student News will be off for the Thanksgiving holiday. So please be sure to join us tomorrow -- that's Tuesday -- and afterward, we will see you on Monday. Meantime, have a great day; thanks for watching.