(CNN Student News) -- March 22, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: It's our first show of spring! And one of the rites of the new season: 10 minutes of commercial-free headlines. Here to take you through it, I'm Carl Azuz.
AZUZ: First up, the question that dominated the weekend in Washington: Who has the votes on President Obama's health care reform bill? 216 was the magic number in the U.S. House of Representatives. That means Democrats who supported the bill needed to get at least 216 votes for it to pass. Republicans and Democrats who opposed the bill needed at least 216 votes against it to stop it from becoming law. That vote was expected to happen last night. But when we recorded today's show, it hadn't happened yet. You can get the latest details at CNNStudentNews.com. And, of course, we'll have a lot more on this for you tomorrow.
Let's back up and talk about what was happening leading up to yesterday's scheduled vote. Democrats were rallying to try to wrap up those 216 votes. Some were guaranteeing the bill would go through, calling it a historic day. But Republicans, who have been opposed to the bill, promised to keep fighting to try and stop it from becoming law. One Republican said if the bill did pass, they would try to repeal it. Tension was high outside the Capitol building over the weekend, too. As you can see in these pictures, protesters rallied to speak out against the bill.
The House of Representatives was actually voting on two things yesterday. The first was the health care reform bill that the Senate already passed. If the House approved that, it would go straight to President Obama for his signature; it would become law. The second thing the House was voting on was a set of changes to the Senate bill. And if that was approved, it would still have to get through the Senate before it could become law. Again, for the latest on all of this: CNNStudentNews.com. Tuesday's show will have details as well.
Word to the Wise
AMANDA MOYER, CNN STUDENT NEWS: A Word to the Wise...
crest (verb) As a verb, crest means to reach the highest point or level
AZUZ: People in North Dakota and Minnesota are keeping a close eye on the Red River. Forecasters said that it crested yesterday at around 37 feet. That's nearly 20 feet higher than flood stage. Around Fargo, North Dakota, 700,000 sandbags are guarding the city against the river's waters. In fact, more than a million sandbags were stacked between Fargo and Moorhead, Minnesota. Those sandbags can be removed once the river goes back below 30 feet, but the National Weather Service says that probably won't happen until next Sunday. The governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, says that planning for a possible flood might have helped keep the Red River at bay.
GOV. TIM PAWLENTY, (R) MINNESOTA: We're very confident in the flood fight. Again, there will be damage, there will be some flooding. But we believe it'll be a manageable event, in large part, because of the incredible preparation, skill and leadership of Minnesotans all across this state who rallied to fight this flood and put maximum preparations in place to have an effective flood fight this year.
AZUZ: Now, Chris Welch shows us how scientists try to plan for these flood situations. Check it out.
CHRIS WELCH, CNN ALL-PLATFORM JOURNALIST, MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA: This is Chris Laveau, and his job is critical. As a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, he helps determine how high the river will go.
CHRIS LAVEAU, USGS HYDROLOGIST: This instrument, we put it in the water and it actually sends a sound pulse down into the river, and it returns information on the speed of the particles and actually the depth.
WELCH: The data they collect here actually goes straight to the National Weather Service and plays a big part in forecast development. The crest prediction was lowered a half foot Friday and again Saturday, thanks in part to the findings of the USGS.
LAVEAU: The channel was moving water through a little bit more efficiently than we thought.
WELCH: The technology they use is new within the last decade. What used to take half a day can now be done in an hour. They send their findings here, to the river forecast center near the Twin Cities.
SCOTT DUMMER, CHIEF HYDROLOGIST, USGS: We're the technical experts and the modelers. We come up with a technical forecast.
WELCH: Less ice on the river and less precipitation were factors in the lower crest outlook, plus the colder weather back in Fargo translates to less snow melt. But lower temps don't make Laveau's job any easier.
LAVEAU: The equipment doesn't want to work as well. We don't want to work as well. But we get out here and we get the job done because it's important.
WELCH: Chris Welch, CNN, on the Red River, near Fargo, North Dakota.
AZUZ: Heading across the Atlantic Ocean to Iceland, a country that has more land covered by glaciers than all of Europe. And underneath the country's fifth-largest glacier: this! A volcano that started erupting over the weekend. Not unusual for Iceland; it sits on a volcanic hotspot. It's had 21 eruptions in the past 47 years. But this is the first time that this particular volcano has erupted since 1821, and experts say there was not a lot of warning. Hundreds of people were evacuated; police declared a state of emergency. One scientist said there's just no way to know how long the eruption will last: could end today, could go on for a year or two. But he did add this is a small eruption.
AZUZ: Well, figuring out the results of Iraq's parliamentary election won't take a year or two, but it is going to take a while longer. The votes from the election -- it was on March 7th -- are still being tallied. But Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is calling for a recount. He says it's to "preserve the integrity of the electoral process." Right now, the race is too close to call. Based on partial results, al-Maliki's party is leading in some of Iraq's provinces, but it's losing the overall vote. Iraq's electoral commission has rejected the demand for a recount. A spokesman for the commission says there have to be "compelling reasons" for it, and they don't think there are any. The final election results are expected to be announced on Friday.
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mr. Dunston's social studies classes at Bethune Middle School in Decatur, Georgia! Gorillas belong to what scientific genus? You know what to do! Is it: A) Theropithecus, B) Suricata, C) Papio or D) Gorilla? You've got three seconds -- GO! Gorillas are classified in genus gorilla. Surprise, surprise. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: Gorillas are in the family of "great apes." And according to the World Wildlife Fund, the Cross River gorilla is the most endangered great ape in Africa. For a while, people thought the species had already gone extinct. Christian Purefoy takes us into the forests of Africa to learn about the dangers facing these gorillas and the people who are trying to help them.
CHRISTIAN PUREFOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT, LAGOS, NIGERIA: We're searching West Africa's last rainforest for its last remaining gorillas.
JOSEPH NJAMA, ECO-GUARD: These are the teeth of the gorilla. Look at them biting it, you see, forcing it to break.
PUREFOY: It's a rare sign that there are actually any gorillas left here. Our trackers, who are ex-poachers now turned gaurdians for the gorillas, only see them maybe twice a year. Sightings are so rare that these pictures shot last year are thought to be the only known images of the gorillas. The difficult terrain of these mountains has helped keep the gorillas out of sight and hidden from poachers. Somewhere out there in the forest is the Cross River gorilla. It's the rarest in the world and also the most endangered; they think there's maybe 300 in Nigeria and Cameroon alone and just 35 in these Mbe mountains. The local communities of the Mbe mountains have come together to try and protect the gorillas, but disagreement over exactly how is proving divisive. But as we continued our search, we found signs of life: a gorilla nest only two to three weeks old.
In your research, how important are these nests?
INAOYOM IMONG, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY: It's very important because we rarely see them, and the only way we can get information on the population is by finding nests such as this to give us an idea of the population size and to give us an idea the ranging behavior of the gorillas.
PUREFOY: We didn't see any gorillas, but that is a hopeful sign; the more these gorillas fear humans and stay hidden, the better their chances of survival. Christian Purefoy, CNN, the Mbe Mountains, Nigeria.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we go, if you've ever wondered what it takes to put together a basketball court, the answer is about 10-and-a-half hours! We don't have that kind of time, so we're speeding things up for you. This is the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is how workers transformed it from a hockey arena to a basketball stadium overnight! We're not sold on hiring these guys the next time we need to set up a party.
AZUZ: But we are courting the idea. That sinks our last points for the day, but CNN Student News will get your Tuesday show on the rebound. Join us when we begin our final four shows of the week tomorrow.