(CNN Student News) -- January 20, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: An anticipated election, an education initiative, and a fuel-less flight. Details on all of them coming up in today's CNN Student News. From the CNN Center, I'm Carl Azuz.
AZUZ: We begin in Haiti. There are some signs of progress in getting help to victims of last week's devastating earthquake. In Port-au-Prince, the capital city, some space is opening up at the airport, the city's port is expected to re-open next week, and some roads are being cleared. Now, all of that should help in the delivery of relief supplies. Meantime, a U.S. Air Force plane found a way to work around some of the current obstacles. This airdrop you're seeing delivered 55,000 pounds of bottled water and food. A military official said there could be more of these airdrops. The United Nations estimates that 3 million people in Haiti are in need of food, water, shelter and medical assistance.
In some instances, that need has turned to desperation. Some Haitians have broken into abandoned stores, taking items that they need, sometimes taking items they don't, taking whatever they can find. Police officers have tried to break up these crowds, although one official called them "isolated incidents." The toll of this earthquake has been massive. Nearly half a million Haitians have been left homeless, and tent cities, like the one you see right here, have been set up in Port-au-Prince and other parts of the country. The Haitian government has reported that the quake caused more than 70,000 deaths, although that number is expected to increase.
The response to this disaster, though, has been incredible. Charities, companies, individuals: All of them are working to raise money for the relief efforts. And in the week since this quake hit, more than $220 million have been donated just from the U.S. About half of that has come through online donations. In fact, the American Red Cross has raised more than $23 million through its text message campaign. Errol Barnett looks at some of the other ways in which technology has been a big part of this story.
ERROL BARNETT, CNN IREPORT CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA: Technology has a played a huge role in the aftermath of Haiti's quake. First, we saw some of the first pictures of the devastation posted on social networks like Facebook. Then, we saw the reports of people, survivors, sending texts from within the rubble. Well, now we're seeing crowdsourcing emerge. It's basically taking all the information that's available on social networks and making it accessible from one place. There's a number of sites doing this. I'm going to show you right now.
Openstreetmap.org is one of them, an updated map of downtown Port-au-Prince around the national palace. These symbols are actually for the make-shift camps that have popped up. Another Web site, beextra.org/haiti, is trying to help victims find survivors. They've got a database of thousands of images with tags, and anyone can log on here. Martine Antoinette, if there's any pictures that matches up with her, you simply go through their database, yes or no.
But there's one group that really stands out, and that's Ushahidi. They've received more than 900 text messages from people in Haiti. What they've done is aggregated their information on an interactive, colorful map where you can submit an incident, a missing person, or place where more food is needed. I read one of these that said we need food, water, medicine in Martin San. I also read of one message, a nursery with some 30 missing children.
Now, you may wonder how they're able to do this. Well, they have a network of volunteers throughout Africa, Europe and the United States. They have about ten employees and they have partnerships as well. What you're seeing now is video from their situation room, they call it, at Tufts University in Boston. So what they really want to do is make sure they give a voice to those in Haiti who desperately need help. From the CNN Center, I'm Errol Barnett.
MATT CHERRY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! How long did Ted Kennedy serve the state of Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate? Is it: A) 19 years, B) 26 years, C) 35 years or D) 47 years? You've got three seconds -- GO! Kennedy served in the U.S. Senate from 1962 to 2009. He's one of only six U.S. senators to serve more than 40 years. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: And when Senator Kennedy passed away last August, it left his seat in the U.S. Senate open. Yesterday, Massachusetts held a special election to fill that seat. And despite snow and cold weather, one state official estimated that as many as half of Massachusetts' 4.5 million voters would head to the polls. He said "interest in this election will trump any bad weather." What's so interesting? The result could impact the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. Since 1972, no Republican has won a Senate race in Massachusetts. Until recently, the Republican candidate in this election, state Senator Scott Brown, was expected to lose to Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley. But Brown made up a lot of ground, partly because he promised to vote against Congress' health care reform plans.
As the results came in last night, CNN projected a victory for Brown. That means that Democrats no longer have a 60-seat "super-majority" in the Senate. And it means that Senate Republicans have enough seats to block a vote on things like the health care reform bill.
Race to the Top
AZUZ: Well, President Obama has his eyes on another race: the "Race to the Top." That's the name of a program aimed at improving education standards. It would offer states government money if they met certain requirements. Critics are concerned about the federal government being too involved in education policies, because those are run by states and school districts. But the president believes this is a national issue.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There are any number of actions we can take as a nation to enhance our competitiveness and secure a better future for our people, but few of them will make as much of a difference as improving the way we educate our sons and daughters. Offering our children an outsanding education is one of our most fundamental, perhaps our most fundamental, obligation as a country. And whether we meet that obligation not only reflects who we are as Americans, it will shape our future as a nation.
AZUZ: President Obama is pushing for an additional $1.35 billion to fund the program. More than $4 billion was set aside in last year's economic stimulus plan.
AZUZ: Tens of thousands without electricity, hundreds evacuated from their homes, all because heavy rains have drenched Southern California. And here's why they're so dangerous: A wildfire scarred 160,000 acres of the region last year, burning up a lot of the trees and bushes that hold soil in place. With more downpours and high winds expected this week, flooding and mudslides are more likely on the unstable ground. Makes for a very scary situation.
Word to the Wise
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: A Word to the Wise...
wingspan (noun) the distance between an airplane's wing tips
AZUZ: Now, think about a plane with a wingspan wider than a 747 jumbo jet -- two-thirds the length of a football field -- but actually lighter than an SUV and without a single drop of fuel. That's what they're thinking about at the World Future Energy Summit in the United Arab Emirates. Cal Perry lifts off with something that may need recharging, but never needs refueling.
CAL PERRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT, BEIRUT: One of the things at this year's energy summit in Abu Dubai that almost everybody is talking about is the unveiling of a solar airplane by the company Solar Impulse, based in Switzerland. We're going to give you a look at a model of the solar airplane, and we're lucky enough to be joined by an explorer, a man of discovery, Bertrand Piccard. Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us. First, just walk us through the solar airplane, how it's designed.
BERTRAND PICCARD, PRESIDENT AND PILOT OF SOLAR IMPULSE: So, you have to imagine an airplane that is 64-meter wingspan like an Airbus 340 or a Jumbo Jet, with the weight of a middle-sized car, 1.6 tons only. And solar cells on the wing load the batteries and run the four electrical engines during the day, so you can run, during the night, on the batteries to reach the next sunrise. And then you make the next day, and the next night, and the next day, all this with absolutely no fuel.
PERRY: Now, this airplane has been tested and has been flown by a test pilot already? Is that correct?
PICCARD: Absolutely. We made the first test flight last December, and the goal is this spring and this summer to make high altitude flights and to make the first cycles: day, night, day. And when this works, then we plan to cross the Atlantic and we plan to fly around the world in two or three years' time.
PERRY: And you'll be flying this spring, I understand.
PICCARD: Yes. I will be one of the pilots. Andre Borschberg, my partner, will be the other pilot, and we'll take turns on different missions. This airplane has to fly several missions to demonstrate really the potential of renewable energies and demonstrate what we can do today already in terms of energy savings and energy efficiency.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Finally today: On your mark, get set, snow! Okay, this isn't really a race, because most of the vehicles might break down before they crossed the finish line. It's actually a gathering of vintage snowmobiles. Some of these treaded treasures date all the way back to the 1960s! Apparently, that's vintage when it comes to snowmobiles. Riders say part of the fun is fixing up the old sleds and getting them back on the trail.
AZUZ: And that's where we hit the trail. Yeah, I know, that was a pretty treadful joke, so we can't even quit while we're a-sled. We'll see you guys tomorrow!