(CNN Student News) -- March 3, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: The earthquake in Chile was so powerful, it might have affected time! I'm Carl Azuz. You're tuned in to CNN Student News!
AZUZ: Aftershocks, still rumbling across parts of Chile. At least a dozen were recorded from Monday to Tuesday. This quake left thousands of residents without food, without water, without electricity and other just basic services. Yesterday morning, the country's president said that all emergency measures should be in place by the end of the day. Of course, the international community is pitching in, too. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Chile Tuesday, bringing along some supplies and promising that more help is on the way. Secretary Clinton also praised Chile for how prepared it was to respond to this kind of disaster and for how well the nation has responded so far.
So, what's with that point we mentioned at the beginning of the show about the earthquake affecting time? Well, according to one scientist, the quake was so powerful it's possible that it affected the Earth's rotation. Based on this scientist's calculations, it should have shortened the length of a day by one-and-a-quarter microseconds. Of course, this is the second major quake to strike recently. Haiti suffered a 7.0-magnitude quake in January. And while that tremor wasn't as powerful as the one in Chile, the devastation that it caused seems to have been significantly worse. Joe Johns examines some of the reasons why.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The quake in Haiti was a 7.0, killing more than 200,000 people. The quake in Chile registered 8.8, as much as 800 times stronger. The death toll less than a thousand so far.
Why is that? Geography, for one thing. The Port-au-Prince quake was in shallow earth, 15 miles from the city. The Chile quake was 30 miles off the coast, deep under water.
History is another factor. No one alive remembers the series of earthquakes that hit Haiti in the 1700s. But Chile's experience is much more recent; more than 28 quakes in the 20th century, including the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in 1960. All of which has led Chile to put in and adhere to strict building codes.
Chile learned its lessons the hard way, making engineering the biggest factor of all that sets Chile and Haiti apart.
Iraq Appoints Ambassador
AZUZ: Moving to the Middle East now. Iraq has selected an ambassador to Kuwait for the first time in two decades. Here's some background on this for you: Kuwait borders Iraq to the south. And in August of 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. That led to "Operation Desert Storm;" part of the Gulf War, when a U.S.-led coalition liberated Kuwait from Iraq in 1991. Iraq was controlled by Saddam Hussein back then. And since he was removed from power in 2003, Iraq and Kuwait have been building ties. This week's announcement is the latest step in that process.
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. Me! I'm a government agency that dates back to colonial times. I was first run by Benjamin Franklin. According to my unofficial motto, "neither snow nor rain nor heat" will keep my couriers from delivering the mail. I'm the U.S. Postal Service, and my funding doesn't come from tax dollars, only from the money my business makes.
AZUZ: That business isn't doing so well. At the end of last September, the Postal Service was $10 billion in debt! And the agency says it could lose more than $200 billion in the next 10 years unless it is allowed to make some changes. This is why we say "allowed": The Post Office is an independent agency, but Congress controls how it does business. And lawmakers would have to approve some of the changes that the Post Office is considering. Among those, no more mail delivery on Saturdays. Plus, the service would look to close some branches and raise some of its prices. The postmaster general, the man who runs the Post Office, says that it'll take a big effort to turn things around.
JOHN POTTER, U.S. POSTMASTER GENERAL: If we make the changes that are necessary, we can continue to provide universal service for America for decades to come. But there are some very significant changes that are gonna have to be made to the service that we offer and to the way we conduct our business on a daily basis.
AZUZ: Recalls: We've heard about a lot of those recently. Now, American carmaker General Motors, GM, is making a recall that affects 1.3 million vehicles in the U.S, Canada and Mexico. The problem: a potential failure in the cars' power steering. GM started investigating this problem more than a year ago. The company says it develops over time, so it's more likely to affect vehicles that have been driven 20,000 to 30,000 miles. GM says it's working on a solution to all of this. In the meantime, a company spokesman says the recall is "the right thing to do for our customers' peace of mind."
MATT CHERRY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mr. O'Connell's AP Human Geography classes at Penn High School in Mishawaka, Indiana! In what country would you find the world's fastest train? Is it: A) China, B) France, C) Japan or D) United States? You've got three seconds -- GO! The world's fastest train zooms through China at well over 200 miles per hour. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: With the largest population in the world -- 1.3 billion people -- China is making a huge investment in helping those folks get around the country by rail. Now, trains might sound kind of old school; you might think stagecoaches or something like that. But modern railways pollute less than planes; they're far faster than cars. Building them takes money, though. And in China's case, we're talking about stimulus money. Emily Chang reports from the railways.
EMILY CHANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT, BEIJING: Beijing's newest train station looks like a modern airport, and a ride on its bullet train is nearly as fast as taking a plane. China's high-speed trains have come a long way from the steam engines that once chugged into the capital before economic reforms in the 1980s transformed long-distance transportation. This is how the majority of people travel across China. Old trains like this go as slow as 55 kilometers per hour. When it's crowded, it's standing room only and the journey can take days.
But that's no longer the only option. China is now home to the world's fastest train, hurtling from Wuhan to Guangzhou at more than 350 kilometers per hour. This train is so fast, it's threatened airline ticket sales. China Southern Airlines is struggling to compete on this particular route as high-speed railways change the way Chinese people travel across this vast country.
China is spinning a web of high-speed railways with faster connections than ever before. The government plans to extend 3,000 current kilometers of high-speed track to 12,000 by 2012. Estimated cost: $360 billion U.S., or 60% of the stimulus package China enacted to combat the financial crisis.
JOHN GONG, CHINA ECONOMICS EXPERT: If you're investing in a high-speed railway system, you're sending checks to two million workers that are involved in the railway industry. So, that's a very easy call to make, politically.
CHANG: China's rail system is now arguably the most advanced in the world. U.S. company General Electric is collaborating with Beijing on technology to modernize America's own aging rail network. While nowhere close to China's investment, President Obama has committed $8 billion to high-speed rail.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Our nation has always been built to compete. There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains.
CHANG: Just like interstate highways transformed the United States, faster trains in China will bring infrastructure, investment and passengers to destinations deep in the countryside. Critics counter China is overbuilding and that tickets on fast trains are too expensive for average citizens. But with living standards rising, more and more will be able and willing to pay to satisfy the need for speed. Emily Chang, CNN, Beijing.
Women's History Month
AZUZ: March is Women's History Month. And we're helping students recognize the achievements of women with our free Women's History Month materials. These Discussion Questions and Activities help students explore the roles of women in fields like science, government and sports. You can find the free resources in the Spotlight section -- you know where to go --CNNStudentNews.com.
Before We Go
AZUZ: And finally, we're digging up some dirt on a man who lives in California. This is Wayne Daniels. And Wayne likes tulips...a lot! He plants 3,200 of them every year, and then sits back and watches his yard turn into a budding botanical garden. To most people, the retired teacher is simply known as "the Tulip Man." Wayne spends hundreds of hours planning and planting every year. Some people might think it's sort of a silly tradition.
AZUZ: But you won't hear something like that from our two lips. CNN Student News returns tomorrow. We hope you will return and watch us again then. Bye now!