(CNN Student News) -- May 11, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: What you've learned in government and civics classes is unfolding right now on Capitol Hill. How the lessons apply in life -- our first story on CNN Student News!
AZUZ: Elena Kagan is a name you're going to be hearing in the weeks ahead. She is the solicitor-general -- the Obama administration's top lawyer. It's her job to argue cases for the government at the U.S. Supreme Court. President Obama now wants her to serve on that court; Kagan is the president's top choice to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: While we can't presume to replace Justice Stevens' wisdom or experience I have selected a nominee who I believe embodies that same excellence, independence, integrity and passion for the law and who can ultimately provide that same kind of leadership on the court.
AZUZ: But as you know from your government classes, President Obama can't just give her the job. He needs the "advice and consent" of the U.S. Senate, who'll make the final decision on Kagan. They'll be looking at her resume: Her law degree from Harvard University. Her work as dean of that university's law school. Her service as a lawyer for the former Clinton administration. But one major concern for some senators: Kagan has no experience as a judge, unlike all the current members of the Supreme Court. So she's likely to face some tough questions from senators; they're going to be trying to get an idea of how she would rule in certain situations before they decide whether or not to confirm her. If the 50-year-old New Yorker gets the job as associate justice, she would be the fourth woman to serve in the history of the Supreme Court.
AZUZ: While BP considers different ways to stop and clean up an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, other folks are trying to help out. Their livelihood depends on it. Rob Marciano shows us how dirty a job the clean-up is. And you're going to hear him mention "Valdez" -- that's a reference to the Exxon Valdez, a ship that spilled 11 million gallons of oil near Alaska back in 1989.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Clearing the oil is a big job, and the pros can't do it alone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a safety training class.
MARCIANO: So the call has gone out to recruit the locals.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're going to be working in contaminated water, you'll have to have boots -- rubber boots.
MARCIANO: Hundreds have already volunteered to help and safety trainings like this one are being held across the coast.
CAROL VAUGHN, BEACH CLEAN-UP VOLUNTEER: Why are they getting volunteers when they have contractors?
MARCIANO: A reminder that cleaning up oil is a dangerous job.
VAUGHN: Hearing today, the type of equipment you have to wear to pick up trash off the beach, was a realization that this is real and it's happening.
MARCIANO: Some volunteers who pitched in after the Valdez spill are still sick. Due to financial settlements, many can't even talk publicly about their health problems, but it is bad.
DEBBIE TAYLOR, BILOXI REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: They have long-term effects, some central nervous system effects and who's to say we won't see that here. It think it's just going to be a wait-and-see game.
MARCIANO: Debbie Taylor is on the frontlines at Biloxi's Regional Medical Center where preparations are already underway. Some of Taylor's first patients could be these fishermen.
Normally, these boats would be out trying to net some shrimp. But the oil spill has put a stop to that, so they sit and they wait. Some of these boats may actually be out working for BP trying to clean up the mess.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: BP's here to ask for your help.
MARCIANO: BP is already holding informational sessions. Phillip Nguyen attended, and now wants a long-term contract to clean up. He runs two shrimp boats that now sit idle.
PHILLIP NGUYEN, SHRIMP BOAT OPERATOR: Unpredictable for the future of the shrimp business and shrimp industry, we need to get some sort of financing income from somewhere.
MARCIANO: The Coast Guard performs safety checks before each vessel is approved for duty. Safety for the boat, but what about the crew?
RICK COW, FISHERMAN: We're worried about that too, but working and we've got to do it, you know? You got to take risks on that.
MARCIANO: So you need the money so you just start doing it?
COW: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
I. D. Me
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can ID Me! My goals include freedom and peace for almost 500 million citizens. I'm a partnership of 27 European countries. I have one official currency: the euro. I'm the European Union, and my main trading partner is the U.S.
AZUZ: All right, so you get an idea from that how the economies of Europe and America are linked together. Take what's happened in Greece. It has huge debt -- money it owes that some investors are worried it may not be able to repay. Because that's bad for Europe -- and Europe has that close trading partnership with the U.S. -- the American stock market dropped last week, after Greece's bad news. Well, here's some better news. The European Union has just come up with a new plan to deal with European debt. It's set aside almost a trillion dollars to stabilize and protect Europe's economies. And that has investors in America, and around the world, breathing a sigh of relief. As proof, the Dow Jones Industrial Average -- part of the American stock market -- jumped up hundreds of points yesterday. A good economic sign.
Brown Steps Down
AZUZ: Britain will be getting a new leader. Its current prime minister, Gordon Brown, whom you see right here -- he's asking his political party -- the Labour Party -- to get ready for a new leadership contest. But he won't be a candidate. This is all because of Britain's election last week. Three of Britain's political parties shared most of the vote. But none of them got enough votes, to form a government on its own. So it looks like two of them will have to get together, form an alliance to get leadership in place. Which two parties that will be hasn't been decided yet. But what's interesting about all this is that an election like this hasn't happened in Britain since 1974.
MATT CHERRY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mr. Tchaparian's students at River Bluff School in Fresno, California! Where would you find Hampton University? You know what to do! Is it in: A) Virginia, B) New York, C) Arkansas OR D) South Carolina? You've got three seconds -- GO! A historically black university, Hampton is located in Virginia! That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: Speaking at a graduation ceremony at Hampton University, President Obama talked about the importance of education. It's hard for anybody to disagree with that: The national unemployment rate is at 9.9 percent. The president pointed out that the rate is more than twice as high for people without a college degree than it is for those with a college degree. What might cause more disagreement, though, is what the president had to say about certain types of technology. Listen to this.
OBAMA: This class is graduating at a time of great difficulty for America and for the world. You're entering a job market, in an era of heightened international competition, with an economy that's still rebounding from the worst crisis since the Great Depression. You're accepting your degrees as America still wages two wars; wars that many in your generation have been fighting.
And meanwhile, you're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations; none of which I know how to work; information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it's putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.
AZUZ: Okay, it's your turn. We want to know what you think about this. Not everyone has an iPad or an iPod, but we've almost all played video games. You've grown up with computers in your classes, many of you. Do you agree with the president that the information you get from these things is a distraction? Or do you think you learn something from them? Talk to us today at CNNStudentNews.com! We're looking forward to seeing what you have to say.
Before We Go
AZUZ: When I told a friend today that our last story was about clogging, she wanted to know what people were clogging. In this case, shoes! The event may not feature the fanciest of footwork. But when it comes to sheer numbers, it stomped the old record -- that was 425 people dancing for less than five minutes. This, this event, included more than 2,500 stepped out for more than six minutes. They clogged the streets with victory.
AZUZ: ...that all depended on de-feet. With that foot-note, we're stepping away til tomorrow. I'm Carl Azuz, and I'm just gonna put a sock in it.