(CNN Student News) -- January 6, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: More than 300 million people live in the United States. Why would anyone want to count all of them? That answer's coming up. This is CNN Student News. I'm Carl Azuz. Let's go!
AZUZ: "When a suspected terrorist is able to board a plane with explosives, the system has failed in a potentially disastrous way." The words of President Obama yesterday about an attempted attack on an airplane that took place on Christmas day. The plot failed, but the president met with security officials to ask why the attack wasn't stopped ahead of time, despite the fact that the government had several clues.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This was not a failure to collect intelligence. It was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.
AZUZ: The suspect in that Christmas Day plot has been linked to a terrorist organization in the country of Yemen. That nation has become a major part of the fight against terrorism. Mohammed Jamjoom tells us more about the country.
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is the poorest country in Arabia, a country of impenetrable mountains and wide expanses of desert, strong clan and tribal loyalties. The government's influence is weak beyond the main cities. Its oil revenues have fallen sharply, and it's running out of water. Unemployment is high, and very nearly half of Yemenis are age 14 or under. But Yemen matters because of where it is. It has a near 1,000-mile border with oil-rich Saudi Arabia, much of it unmarked, some of it disputed.
IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: Twenty-five million folks sandwiched in a very small piece of territory next to almost 30 million in Saudi Arabia, with all, lots of territory, lots of resources.
JAMJOOM: Yemen's coastline looks out on one of the world's major shipping lanes, from the Suez Canal to the Indian Ocean. Across the Red Sea, less than 100 miles away in places, lies the anarchy of Somalia, already a stronghold of al Qaeda affiliates. And it's in this strategically located country that the government is fighting not one battle, but three.
PROF. FAWAZ GERGES, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Yemen is a failing state. It's not yet a failed state. You have a collapsed economy. You have multiple political, ideological and tribal fault lines that are pushing the country into all-out war.
JAMJOOM: Besides a resurgent al Qaeda, there is a long-running Shiite rebellion in the north and a separatist movement in the south.
MUSTAFA ALANI, GULF RESEARCH CENTER: So, all these problems coming together at one time, undermining the government's ability to deal with the situation.
JAMJOOM: Yemen's al Qaeda problem first came to light when the USS Cole was attacked in Aden Harbor in October 2000, killing 17 U.S. sailors. Since then, it appears to have gotten worse. More and more extremists have crossed from Saudi Arabia, forming al Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula and easily obtaining training and weapons. It was a Saudi citizen who had fled to Yemen that tried to assassinate Saudi Arabia's deputy interior minister this year, the closest al Qaeda has ever come to carrying out one of its stated goals: to kill members of the Saudi royal family. For so long below anyone's radar, as attention focused on Pakistan and Afghanistan, Yemen is now front and center in the battle against al Qaeda. Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN, Dubai.
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I'm a survey that was first introduced in 1790. I'm required by the U.S. Constitution and I'm taken every 10 years. I'm a count of every person living in the United States. I'm the census! And I play a big role in determining how government money is spent.
AZUZ: Back when that first census took place in 1790, there were around 4 million people living in the U.S. Today -- we told you at the start of the show -- more than 300 million. And counting all of them, not an easy job. But the government believes it is an important one. Christine Romans looks at some of the reasons why.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: In New York's Times Square, the launch of a road show; not a Broadway show, but a national tour sponsored by the U.S. government to get America ready for the 2010 census.
GARY LOCKE, U.S. SECRETARY OF COMMERCE: It will have enormous impact on communities and people all across America.
ROMANS: Commerce Secretary Gary Locke heads up the agency that's supposed to count every single person in the country.
LOCKE: It's the responsibility of every person living in America, whether they are a voter or not, whether they're registered as a voter or not, or even whether or not they're a natural U.S. citizen.
ROMANS: The government is spending more than $340 million, including a massive ad campaign in 28 languages, to get people to fill out this census form. At stake: power and money. Congressional seats are doled out depending on a state's population, and so is $400 billion in federal funding.
LOCKE: If you want your fair share, be counted, because this is money for schools, for human services, for medical services, as well as for transportation.
ROMANS: Things got so contentious during the 2000 count that Utah sued the Census Bureau.
PAMELA PERLICH, SR. RESEARCH ECONOMIST, THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH: In the end, we were 856 persons short of having that Congressional seat.
ROMANS: The Supreme Court ruled Utah couldn't count missionaries serving overseas. Since Congressional seats are limited to 435, the extra seat instead went to North Carolina.
PERLICH: Who knows exactly what that would have meant as far as dollars and cents and programs and policies? But at the margin, to have one more person there in the Congress working on behalf of Utah does make a difference.
ROMANS: This time around, Utah is likely to get that House seat. According to one projection, eight states in the South and West are expected to gain at least one seat after the big 2010 census. Texas could gain as many as four. Ten states, most located in the Northeast and the Midwest, may well lose at least one House seat, but those numbers could have been far worse.
LARRY SABATO, DIR., CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: The recession has actually frozen a lot of people in place, and so people who might have left the North and Midwest and gone South or West stayed. They stayed where they were. And that's saved some seats for the North and the Midwest.
ROMANS: All of this depends on how many people actually fill out the form. Historically, counting minorities has been an issue, and the Census Bureau is working hard to combat mistrust.
There are some -- a vocal minority, I would say -- who've been cautioning against some people in the Latino community actually participating in the 2010 Census. What do you say to that?
LOCKE: You don't obtain political empowerment unless you're counted, so that we know exactly how strong and how large you are. So, I think that boycotting the census is actually counterproductive to their goals of greater political participation.
ROMANS: Christine Romans, CNN, New York.
Word to the Wise
MATT CHERRY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: A Word to the Wise...
apex predator (noun) a species that hunts or eats other animals, but has few or no predators of its own
AZUZ: Think lions or tigers or hawks. Apex predators actually help the environment by keeping populations of other species under control. But when there aren't enough predators, there can be too many prey. And as Vic Lee of affiliate KGO tells us, it's a problem that one California county is dealing with. The solution? Call in nature's exterminators.
BETH SLATE, BIOLOGIST, CONTRA COSTRA COUNTY: Over here, we have a raptor. It's going on the back side of the hill.
VIC LEE, KGO REPORTER: Beth Slate is with Contra Costa County's Agriculture Department. She says the county is luring birds to come here to help solve what some say is a crisis.
SLATE: Yes we are. We welcome them.
LEE: So you might say this county really is going to the birds. In fact, they've even built welcome mats to attract them. Specifically, raptor perches, like that one.
SLATE: So, we want to encourage the hawks, which are a lot more suburban, residential friendly, to reduce the squirrel population.
LEE: The county says it's being overrun by ground squirrels. They've been on a rampage, wreaking havoc on gardens and digging up lawns. Their burrows are everywhere. The rodents are also destroying infrastructure. Their burrows have weakened these old ranch buildings and undermined roads such as this one.
SLATE: It just weakens the road and causes this erosion to occur, or this settling, or the breakaway on the road.
LEE: This fall, the county built 20 of these perches, strategically placing them next to large colonies of burrows to attract raptors.
AGRICULTURAL COMMISSIONER VINCE GUISE: They like to perch in an open area looking over a field and swoop down and get their prey.
LEE: The county also uses pesticides to control the rodent population, but officials say this method lets nature do the job. Project officials are optimistic these perches will work and that their squirrel problem will fly away.
Before We Go
AZUZ: All right, before we go, bundle up. We're bringing you a New Year's tradition that always gets a frosty response. Come on in, the water's fine! If you can ignore the fact that it's zero degrees outside! Apparently, that didn't bother these cool customers. More than a thousand people lined up to do this in Minnesota's annual Ice Dive. Get this: It was actually so cold that the water started freezing on people's skin. Tell me again why this is popular? I don't know; I guess we shouldn't judge.
AZUZ: I mean, after all, everyone has different ways of chillin'. That is a total nosedive; it's gonna put this show on ice. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz. We'll see you tomorrow.