(CNN Student News) -- May 10, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Environment, economy, elections, education. All E words, and all part of this Monday edition of CNN Student News. From the CNN Center, I'm Carl Azuz.
AZUZ: First up, officials are moving on to plan C to try to stop the oil that's gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. They've tried remote controlled subs. They've tried a giant dome. We're gonna have more on that in a second. What is plan c? A lot of junk! Basically, you stuff the leak with trash and try to clog the thing up. So, what about the containment chamber, the giant dome they were planning to drop over the leak? The thing didn't work. Crystals formed on the dome and made it float. Officials haven't totally given up on the idea, but they're considering other options, including junk.
As this oil spill starts to wash ashore, meanwhile, it could have a huge impact on several industries. About 40 percent of the country's seafood harvest comes from the Gulf Coast. Fishermen, dock workers, restaurant owners: All of them could be affected by this, as supplies go down and prices go up. The biggest challenge is how to get all of this oil under control and then to get the oil out of the water. Allan Chernoff shows us how the government gets ready for these kinds of situations.
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK: When trying to clean up a giant oil spill, how does the oil industry know exactly what to do, what techniques are going to work? The research is done right here at OHMSETT, the Oil and Hazardous Materials Simulated Environmental Test Tank. This facility is run by the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service, and it is the largest of its kind in the entire world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire in the hole!
CHERNOFF: Oil sprays into the water, a slick forms and expands, but it's all intentional. Here, the government creates controlled oil spills in a giant tank more than two football fields long. Operators create ocean wave conditions, then they use various techniques to clean it all up. There are three primary plans of attack for cleaning oil spills in the water: burn the oil, apply chemical dispersants to break it down, or manually remove it. All three are at work in the Gulf of Mexico. Today, cleanup experts are practicing manual techniques to remove oil.
Taking oil off the surface of the water is kind of like peeling the filling off of an oreo cookie; you're skimming it. And that's what all these various devices do. They skim the oil off the water. Depending upon the grade of oil, how heavy it is, you use a different type of skimmer.
At OHMSETT, all different types of oil are sprayed into the tank from a moving bridge. Workers can test skimmers, various dispersants, even burning, all in a safe, enclosed environment that simulates the ocean's salinity and even its wave patterns.
We all know oil is lighter than water. That's an advantage when it comes to cleaning up a spill, because the oil sits on top of the water. Using those booms, oil can actually be pushed into that skimmer, and then it's sucked up using this giant vacuum.
Cleanup workers from private industry, government and 24 countries around the world have come here to practice and research such techniques, including responders trying to clean the Gulf of Mexico right now.
AZUZ: We will continue to keep you updated on that story. Now, to unemployment. Last month, the U.S. unemployment rate went up, from 9.7 percent to 9.9 percent. Some experts are actually saying that's a good sign. What? The unemployment rate includes people who are actively looking for a job. Let's say you're out of work. In March, you're so discouraged that you don't think it's worth it to even look for a job. In that situation, you're not part of the unemployment rate. Then in April, you think there's a better chance of finding a job, so you start looking. Now, you are included in the rate. So, according to some experts, the fact that unemployment rate went up, means that more people are feeling more optimistic about the economy. But the bottom line is, there are still more than 15 million Americans out of work.
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mrs. Robbins' contemporary issues class at Meadow Heights High School in Patton, Missouri! Who lives at 10 Downing Street in London? Is it: A) Sherlock Holmes, B) Queen of the UK, C) UK Prime Minister or D) U.N. Secretary-General? You've got three seconds -- GO! 10 Downing Street is the UK prime minister's home and office. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: The question is, who is going to live at 10 Downing Street? The UK is trying to figure that out after last week's parliamentary elections. None of the parties got a majority of seats. So now, a scramble is on. In the UK, people vote for members of parliament. Whichever party wins a majority of the seats in parliament gets to form the new government, and that party's leader usually becomes prime minister. Gordon Brown has held that job since 2007. He heads up the Labour Party. But they only got 29 percent of the vote in last Thursday's election. The Conservative Party, which is led by David Cameron, got 36 percent. Over the weekend, Brown and Cameron both met with Nick Clegg. He is in charge of the Liberal Democrat Party, which got 23 percent of the vote. Clegg could form a coalition -- basically, sort of team up -- with either the Labour Party or the Conservative Party and then together, form a majority.
AZUZ: Well, we're staying in Europe. An ash cloud from a volcano is causing problems for airplanes. And if that story sounds familiar, it's because it is! This is the same volcano and the same problem. It's in southern Iceland under a glacier; it's been erupting since last month. The problem is the ash that you are seeing right here. If this ash gets into a jet's engine, it can cause the engine to fail. Back in April, concerns about the ash shut down air travel across most of Europe for nearly a week. This weekend, several hundred more flights were canceled, and some officials closed airports in Italy, Spain and Scotland.
Word to the Wise
RICK VINCENT, CNN STUDENT NEWS: A Word to the Wise...
zero tolerance (noun) a policy of strictly enforcing rules and laws, without making exceptions
AZUZ: The state of Georgia, where we are, has a zero tolerance policy about weapons in school: any kind of weapon -- gun, knife, chain -- strictly forbidden on campus. A 14-year-old student named Eli Mahone was recently affected by this. He couldn't find his backpack one morning. You've probably experienced that yourself. So, Eli grabbed another backpack to use for the day, and he got to school before he found out that the backpack had a knife in it. It was a two-and-a-half inch blade that he uses when he goes fishing.
ELI MOHONE, ARRESTED UNDER ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY: I get to school. I mean, it was just like a regular day. I went to reading and, I don't know, one of my friends told me, "Is that yours?" And when I looked down, there was a knife on the ground and it was mine.
AZUZ: Eli took the knife and turned it in himself to the principal's office. But here's where zero tolerance kicked in, and Eli got in serious trouble: the policy does not allow school administrators to consider the circumstances. So, following that policy, school officials and police treated this as a crime. And a teen who'd never broken the law before was arrested and sent to a youth detention center. Eli was also expelled from the school, and he had to go to an alternative school with students who'd committed serious crimes.
AIMEE HENSLER, ELI MAHONE'S MOTHER: It was basically like standing outside your body watching as it was going on. I mean, I never imagined seeing him handcuffed and put in the back of a police car.
AZUZ: Eli's mom got in touch with a state senator. He crafted a bill that would relax Georgia's zero tolerance policy. The bill passed the state House and Senate; it's waiting for the governor's signature. As far as zero tolerance policies go, a local judge says they are effective in fighting certain types of crimes, but critics argue they go too far in schools.
AZUZ: What do you argue about zero tolerance policies? It's a new week; we have a new post up on our blog at CNNStudentNews.com. What do you think of zero tolerance policies? If they're effective? Are they worth it? Or do you think they go too far. Tell us on our blog. The address: CNNStudentNews.com. The rule: first names only.
Before We Go
AZUZ: We've stuffed a lot in today's show, but hopefully you have room for just a bit more. A lot more. But it's worth it. This might be the world's biggest burger. 590 pounds! A Canadian chef concocted this creation. Of course, he had to use a special grill, one that has a forklift inside to flip the patty. Sure, he's trying to break someone else's record, but it's to raise money for a charity.
AZUZ: So if they were to ever meat, the old record holder might grill him for a while, but we doubt he'll have any beef with the new guy. Whoo! All right, we're having fun with this story. You guys have an excellent day. We're looking forward to seeing you tomorrow when CNN Student News returns on HLN, online or on iTunes. We'll see you then!