(CNN Student News) -- February 1, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Welcome to February and a new week of CNN Student News! Today's show is dedicated to all of our viewers serving in the U.S. military and their families stationed overseas, including those in Ms. Youness' classes at Kubasaki High School in Okinawa, Japan!
AZUZ: First up, record snowfalls in the eastern U.S. as winter weather blankets the region. Half a foot in Baltimore, twice that much in parts of Virginia: Those were the forecasts this past weekend as the storm dumped snow and ice up and down the East Coast. It left thousands of people without power and caused some states to declare an emergency. Pat St. Claire has more on the winter weather's impact.
PAT ST. CLAIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA: A tough day to be outdoors in the nation's capital, as a large storm brings inches of snow in the D.C. metro area. A local news crew caught up to Ben Cheran, who had scoring and snow on his mind.
BEN CHERAN, STUCK IN SNOW: I'm trying to go to the Georgetown-Duke game, and I'm having a tough time getting over to the Verizon Center.
UNIDENTIFIED WJLA REPORTER: Can't get a cab?
CHERAN: Can't get a cab.
ST. CLAIRE: The storm has made for treacherous roads across the Southeast and much of the Mid-Atlantic. At this shopping center in northern Georgia, where many headed to stock up on essentials, residents expressed concerns about ice.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN ON THE STREET: Kind of scary. If we have ice on the lines, we will have no power, no heat, and I don't have a heater.
ST. CLAIRE: The cold weather meant brisk sales for some stores selling supplies or gas stations selling kerosene, but things weren't as rosy for Giovanni Scotti and his North Carolina Italian restaurant.
GIOVANNI SCOTTI, BUSINESS OWNER: Nobody is coming inside for it.
ST. CLAIRE: And some wonder what the big deal is.
CHERAN: I'm from Massachusetts originally, so this is kind of normal for the wintertime. But, I think in D.C. people go pretty nuts.
ST. CLAIRE: I'm Pat St. Claire, reporting from Atlanta.
Football in D.C.
AZUZ: In Washington, D.C. yesterday, the temperature stayed below 20 degrees most of the day, so not exactly T-shirt weather. But there was one group of guys who refused to let the winter weather cancel their regular weekend football game; the snow could not put out their competitive fire. Check this out.
BENTON STRONG, PLAYS FOOTBALL ON THE NATIONAL MALL: It's been cold here for a couple of months now, so if you can't go outside in the cold, you're never going to be able to go outside. So, we want to have fun. We've been doing this every week since probably August. A couple weeks before that it was much colder, much wetter; it was worse than that. So, we figured Saturday morning we want to come out and run around a little bit.
CRAIG DULNIAK, PLAYS FOOTBALL ON THE NATIONAL MALL: We just need some way to relax on the weekends, and playing football is the best way to do that. So, we come out here about 10:30 every Saturday. Rain, sleet, snow, we're going to play. Doesn't matter, doesn't stop us.
AZUZ: Well, moving from play to work and the issue that President Obama has called his number one priority this year: jobs. New reports say that in the last three months of 2009, the government's stimulus plan paid for nearly 600,000 jobs. That includes money being spent to keep teachers and police officers employed, as well as jobs connected to rebuilding roads and other projects. One White House official says that since the stimulus bill was passed nearly a year ago, it has boosted employment by 1.5 to 2 million jobs overall.
But there are some problems here. The current U.S. unemployment rate is still around 10 percent, the highest it's been in decades. Some Republicans argue that the stimulus plan isn't creating long-term employment, and they point out that 3 million Americans have lost their jobs since the bill was passed last February. Since the recession started in December of 2007, more than 7 million jobs have been lost across the country. Some experts say it could take years before those lost jobs are recovered.
AZUZ: About $2 billion from the stimulus bill will be going to fix up houses that have been foreclosed on. Now, these are homes that have been taken over by banks because the owners couldn't make their mortgage payments. Here's the thing: If you have a foreclosure near your own home, it can drive down your property value; make your own home less valuable. And that can make it harder for you to sell your own house for the money you think it's worth. This stimulus money we're telling you about would be spent renovating the foreclosures, so that they can be sold and so that they don't hurt other sellers.
Black History Month
AZUZ: Black History Month was launched in 1976 to celebrate the achievements and contributions of African-Americans, and it starts today. We've put together some Discussion Questions and Learning Activities to help students research the culture and history of African-Americans. They're completely free, and you can find them in the Spotlight section at CNNStudentNews.com!
APRIL WILLIAMS, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for some Fast Facts! Taiwan is an island located off the southeastern coast of China, and it's home to about 23 million people. Both China and Taiwan consider the island to be a province of China, but Taiwan has a different government. And it's not certain whether Taiwan will one day declare independence or officially become part of China.
AZUZ: Here's where it gets complicated: China says it'll invade Taiwan if the island ever declares independence, and the U.S. says it'll defend Taiwan if China ever attacks. This tension between the U.S. and China shot up over the weekend because the Obama administration announced it would sell weapons to Taiwan. Here's the deal with that: Taiwan would pay $6.4 billion. The U.S. would send over Black Hawk helicopters, Patriot air defense missiles, two ships that can find mines, and communications systems. The American State Department says all this would help keep the area around Taiwan secure. But China says the agreement seriously harms its relationship with the U.S. It has formally complained about the deal, and it's canceled military meetings with American officials. China's also threatened to penalize any American companies that sell weapons to Taiwan.
AZUZ: Well, there's a massive food distribution program underway in Haiti. It's scheduled to last two weeks, and the goal is to get this aid to two million victims of last month's earthquake. Tons of food will be handed out every day at more than a dozen spots in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, although yesterday, some of those locations couldn't participate because they weren't ready or because they weren't secure. Meantime, there's a new challenge facing some Haitians who need medical help. Susan Candiotti reports on the situation.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN MIAMI-BASED CORRESPONDENT: For now, these patients suffering frightening spinal cord injuries aren't going anywhere. After 435 MEDEVAC flights, suddenly, they are suspended. No more airlifts to get critically-ill Haitian patients out of the country for help.
DR. BARTH A. GREEN, CHAIR OF GLOBAL INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI: We have no explanation why suddenly it stopped.
CANDIOTTI: The military temporarily put the brakes on. At first, a spokesman said some states were unwilling to take any more patients. Then, the White House explained it's not a policy change; it's just that hospitals were starting to run out of room. Florida hospitals who've taken in more than 500 patients started to grumble about other states not pitching in.
GOV. CHARLIE CRIST, (R) FLORIDA: I wrote a letter to Secretary Sebelius expressing that federal assistance would be helpful to us, and if we could share that with some of our sister states, it would make a big difference. Obviously, because of Florida's proximity to Haiti, we've really bore the brunt of it, but we're happy to continue.
CANDIOTTI: Happier if they get more emergency funding as requested.
GREEN: Public hospitals all over the southeastern United States are in a tremendous fiscal crisis and a lot of our states are as well. And this burden, although the heart is in the right place, was overwhelming.
CANDIOTTI: More volunteer specialists may be coming in and the White House says it's bringing in more beds. Dr. Barth Green has been told as many as 500 in a couple of weeks. The White House plans also call for the USS Comfort offshore to take on more critical patients and transfer those less serious somewhere else.
AZUZ: Late yesterday, the White House said it had been checking up on whether there could be additional access to medical facilities to treat those victims from Haiti. After finding out there was, medical evacuation flights were reportedly on track to start up again as early as Monday.
Word to the Wise
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: A Word to the Wise...
public domain (noun) that status of a product that is not under copyright protection and can be used by anyone
AZUZ: A rallying cry for the Super Bowl-bound Saints has forced the NFL to tackle questions about the public domain. The league had ordered some New Orleans retailers -- businesses -- to stop selling items that included the phrase "Who dat?" The team's fans have been using the phrase for years; their argument is that it's just part of the public domain. After some public protest and criticism from Louisiana lawmakers, the NFL has run a reverse on its position. Now, it says the "Who dat" shirts are fine as long as they don't include any official trademarks of the Saints. The team faces off against the Colts in the Super Bowl next Sunday.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we leave you, what do firefighters do when they're not fighting fires? They fight water! Or fight water with water, in this case. It's Iowa's annual Winter Water Fight. Firefighters from around the Midwest come to compete in the event. The idea is for opposing teams to try to spray this barrel to the other end of the rope. It's kind of like tug of war, but without any tugging.
AZUZ: Either way, it does sound like a barrel of fun. We just hope the contestants take the time to really soak in this experience. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz. We will see you tomorrow with a new experience for you then.