(CNN Student News) -- January 21, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: He's a musical maestro but he still has to worry about homeroom. You're gonna meet him in today's program. Thanks for tuning in to CNN Student News. I'm Carl Azuz.
AZUZ: First up, a political victory in Massachusetts shakes up the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. As you heard yesterday, Republican Scott Brown will become the newest member of the Senate after winning Tuesday's special election. Massachusetts hasn't sent a Republican to the Senate since 1972. How did Brown do this? Well, there are more independent voters in Massachusetts than registered Democrats and Republicans combined, and many of those independents came out in support of Brown. His win means the end of Democrats' supermajority in the Senate, and it could mean a detour for the health care bills currently being considered by Congress.
AZUZ: Massachusetts Senator-elect Scott Brown was chosen in large part because of this promise:
SCOTT BROWN, (R) MASSACHUSETTS SENATE CANDIDATE: I would be the 41st Senator, but it would make everybody the 41st Senator, and it would bring fairness and discussion back to the equation.
AZUZ: What he meant was he'd be the 41st Senator to vote with the Republicans against Congress' current health care plans. If a compromise bill comes back to the Senate after Brown is seated and Republicans filibuster it, Democrats won't have enough votes to stop debate, and the bill could die.
Democrats who don't want that have a few options. One: The House of Representatives could pass the Senate's bill as is. The Senate approved this bill on Christmas Eve, and if the House accepts it without changes, it would send the bill directly to President Obama for signature. Problem is, many Representatives, including some Democrats, don't like some key parts of the Senate health care bill. And it doesn't look like the House will have enough votes to do this.
Another option: Try to complete a compromise bill between the House and Senate plans, and then fast-track it through Congress before Brown takes his Senate seat. The cons: It could look unfair to the American public. A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found that most Americans are opposed to the congressional bills. And some Democrats who've supported these bills before say they may not vote for them again if that vote comes before Brown is seated. And, in any case, President Obama says he's against any move to rush the legislation through.
Democrats could try to pass reform using a controversial move called reconciliation. Bills considered like this can't be filibustered, just voted on. But it's an unpopular option because it's usually used just for the federal budget. It's also complicated; it would take a long time, and Democrats want to get health reform passed and move on.
Republicans want Congress to set aside its current health care bills and start over with negotiations. This would be a dramatic setback for President Obama, though, who's made health care overhaul his top priority and invested a great deal of time and effort in it. And it is possible that Democrats could strip down the bills they have to a smaller, simpler health care plan more likely to pass both houses with Brown seated. It probably wouldn't be the far-reaching reform that the president and Democrats wanted. But without a supermajority in the Senate, a significant compromise with Republicans may be Democrats only option.
AZUZ: Several possibilities discussed in that report. We want your take on this. What do you think Congress should do next? Where do you think the debate over health care reform is gonna go from here? And what might Senator-elect Brown's victory in Massachusetts mean for President Obama's political agenda? You can sound off with your thoughts and only your first names on our blog. Go to CNNStudentNews.com.
AZUZ: Moving to Haiti, where an aftershock has rattled residents still struggling to recover from last week's massive earthquake. This new tremor, which hit early Wednesday morning, registered a magnitude of 5.9. That is weaker -- about 40 times weaker than last Tuesday's 7.0 quake. But experts warned it could still cause dangerous conditions, especially in areas where buildings are already damaged. According to the United Nations, about a third of Haiti's population still needs food, water and medical attention.
That last concern is getting some help in the form of a U.S. naval ship. The USNS Comfort, which has a state-of-the-art hospital onboard, arrived near Haiti's capital Wednesday morning. This same ship helped out after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. It has about 900 doctors and medical staff and can hold up to a thousand patients, who will be carried to the ship by helicopter. That will also help out some of the hospitals and clinics on land that have already been overloaded by people who were injured in the quake.
AZUZ: In Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has urged residents, hundreds of them, to leave their homes because of severe weather. We're talking about torrential rains. They've been pounding parts of southern California all week, and they're expected to do the same thing today. The result: The floods, power outages and mudslides that residents were already facing could get a lot worse. Also reports on Tuesday that a tornado had formed in one county, damaging boats and buildings.
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Here's the deal: Today's Money Word is revenue. It's the total amount of money that a company makes. Put that in your word bank.
AZUZ: For the U.S. airline industry, revenue is down, way down. We're talking a drop of 18 percent from 2008 to 2009. That's the biggest increase in U.S. history. Some analysts believe that the weak economy grounded many would-be passengers. They think the numbers might improve in 2010, but higher fuel prices could make that recovery tough.
For many people who are traveling by plane, frustration is on the rise. One complaint: checked luggage fees. Five airlines have raised those this year. Another: shifting security rules. The government says those changes are designed to be unpredictable. But that may not matter to some travelers. In a recent poll, about 27 percent of people who took at least two round-trip flights last year are now more likely to skip the plane and find another way to travel.
AZUZ: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to talk about the Internet today and people's ability to have access to it. She's expected to lay out some new policies designed to encourage online freedom around the world and cut down on internet censorship. That's when governments restrict access or information. According to one U.S. official, more than 30 percent of the world's population lives in countries where there is some form of Internet censorship. That's certainly the case in China, where that government is clashing with Google over restricting some of the company's search results. Secretary Clinton has said that the situation in China raises "very serious concerns," but U.S. officials believe the issue is mainly between the company and the Chinese government.
MATT CHERRY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! How old was Mozart when he composed his first piece of music? If you think you know it, shout it out! Was he: A) Five, B) Eight, C) Ten or D) Thirteen? You've got three seconds -- GO! Mozart was composing music by the time he was five years old. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: Matthew White didn't start out quite that young, but the Texas composer has at least a dozen works under his belt, and he's still in the middle of his sophomore year in high school! Recently, he emailed a local symphony, asking for advice on how to get an orchestra to play his latest piece. Clara Tuma of affiliate KVUE explains what happened next.
CLARA TUMA, KVUE NEWS REPORTER: When you think of orchestras, you may think of music like this, then composers like Beethoven, Mozart or Tchaikovsky. But soon, we may be adding a new name to the list: Matthew White. His "Recollection of Memories Passed" had its world premiere Tuesday morning during the Austin Symphony's annual high school concerts tour.
MATTHEW WHITE, COMPOSER: It's wonderful. It's great fun.
TUMA: The audience: Matthew's classmates from Stony Point High School. The concert marked the first time the symphony has played a piece by a high school student, and the first time White and his parents heard the music on anything other than a computer.
MICHELLE WHITE, MATTHEW'S MOTHER: Though to hear a real symphony playing his song and seeing the violins in action, it's breathtaking.
TUMA: Matthew says his work is a story is about a man sitting on a dock, thinking about his life.
MATTHEW WHITE: It's really designed to allow people to focus on their memories as they listen to it.
TUMA: Composing is nothing new for Matthew. This is his 12th composition, but the first for a symphony.
MATTHEW WHITE: I love music, music is my passion. Eventually, I would like to become a professional composer.
TUMA: White is already at work on original composition number 13. By the way, he just turned 16 years old.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we go, the end of an arboreal icon. You're looking at the oldest elm tree in New England! We admit, it's not the most exciting story, but we'll try to spruce it up for you though. Herbie -- that's the tree, not these guys -- has been rooted in place since before the American Revolution. But the old guy suffered from -- what else -- Dutch elm disease, and just had to be cut down.
AZUZ: Left local residents pining for his glory days. We'll leaf you with that. Fridays are awesome on CNN Student News. Be sure to join us tomorrow.