(CNN Student News) -- May 18, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Hi, I'm Carl Azuz, wishing you a happy International Museum Day. We don't have any ancient artifacts in today's show, just 10 minutes of commercial-free headlines, starting right now!
AZUZ: First up, we're taking a civics lesson out of your textbooks and showing you how it applies in the world. Most of you know there's an election coming up in November. It's called a midterm election, because it happens in the middle of a president's four-year term. No one's campaigning for the oval office here, but there are a ton of congressional races taking place all over the country. 36 seats in the U.S. Senate are up for grabs, plus every seat in the House of Representatives. Not to mention local races in states and districts all around the U.S.
The big day is in November, but before then, states are holding primaries. These are elections that decide who actually runs in November. In primaries, people run against members of their own parties. It's Republican against Republican, Democrat against Democrat. So far, we've had primaries in 7 states. You can see them on this map. Today, we're adding 4 more: Arkansas, Kentucky, Oregon and Pennsylvania. And the votes people are casting today help determine who has a chance to get elected in November.
Gulf Coast Oil Spill
AZUZ: Some of the people who are in office right now are asking questions about how BP is dealing with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The company owns the well that the oil is leaking out of. And BP executives say they're having some success with the insertion tube we told you about yesterday. This thing is capturing oil and sending it to ships up on the surface. Right now, though, it's only catching about 20 percent of the oil that's leaking out. On Sunday, one BP official said they're hoping to increase that number soon.
DOUG SUTTLES, COO FOR EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION, BP: This doesn't capture all of it. There's still some oil coming out, but what we hope to do over the next 24 hours is continue to raise the rate, increase the rate, coming out of that insertion tube and capture more and more of this flow.
AZUZ: We've seen a lot of pictures of the oil collecting up on the surface of the water. There's a new concern about something underneath the surface: plumes. Basically, imagine a sort of column of oil that goes straight up. These could pose more threats to the environment, and some scientists think it would mean that more oil is leaking out than we originally thought. They also point out, though, that this kind of thing has never been seen in the Gulf of Mexico before. And they need to spend more time studying the situation before determining if this is actually happening, and if so, how bad it is.
AZUZ: All right, you've heard a lot about this in recent weeks. We've been talking about the impact it's had on fishing, the environment, tourism. Now, we're looking for your opinion. We want you to go to our blog and tell us what you think will be the most impacted by this oil spill. Our blog, you can find at CNNStudentNews.com. We're looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
Freedom of the Press
AZUZ: You've heard the phrase "freedom of the press." It's been part of our country since the founding fathers included it in the Bill of Rights. And it's something that the U.S. actually watches out for overseas. Now, the government's going to be keeping an even closer eye on it. Yesterday, President Obama signed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act. It requires the State Department to examine global freedom of the press more closely. It's named after Daniel Pearl, a reporter who was killed in Pakistan in 2001. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, more than 800 journalists have been killed while doing their jobs since 1992. During the signing ceremony yesterday, President Obama talked about the value of having a free press and how this bill makes that point clear to the international community.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What this act does is it sends a strong message from the United States government and from the State Department that we are paying attention to how other governments are operating when it comes to the press.
STAN CASE, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mr. Muench's class at Fremont Middle School in Florence, Colorado! When a company is making a profit, it is said to be in the ____________? Is it: A) Red, B) Blue, C) Green or D) Black? You've got three seconds -- GO! When a company is in the black, it's profitable. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: And that is where General Motors finds itself. The company was back in the black during the first quarter, the first three months of 2010. This is the first time that GM has made a profit since 2007. The automaker made $865 million during the first quarter. Now compare that to last year, when it lost nearly $6 billion in that same frame of time. This is good news for GM. It's also good news for Americans in general. GM took a huge hit during the recession, and it needed help from the government in order to stay in business. It's already paid back some loans. But now that it's making a profit again, GM can pay back more of the $50 billion it got in bailouts.
AZUZ: Things are moving along smoothly up at the international space station. The space shuttle Atlantis is up there on a 12-day mission to the ISS. Yesterday, two members of the Atlantis crew took a little walk outside the station. It's the first of 3 planned spacewalks during this mission. This one lasted around seven and a half hours. They installed a new space-to-ground antenna, and that will help improve communications between the ISS and the Earth. They did some prep work also for the next 2 spacewalks.
Word to the Wise
NINETTE SOSA, CNN STUDENT NEWS: A Word to the Wise...
desert (noun) You know this as an area without much rainfall, but "desert" can also describe any place that is missing something or has very little of it.
AZUZ: For example, a food desert is a place that doesn't have a lot of, not food; healthy food. You can probably figure out that living in a food desert can lead to some serious problems for your health. Samantha Hayes takes us to a food desert in Baltimore, Maryland, where officials are trying to turn things around.
SAMANTHA HAYES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heart disease is the number one killer in Baltimore and has been for a long time. When you start to explore some of the city's lower income neighborhoods, you begin to understand why. Baltimore's brand new Food Policy Director Holly Freishtat shows us the problem.
HOLLY FREISHTAT, BALTIMORE FOOD POLICY DIRECTOR: We are sitting in the middle of a food desert. A food desert being an area where there are no supermarkets or access to healthy food.
HAYES: The options are scarce; corner markets selling mostly processed food at high prices.
FREISHTAT: If you drove around this neighborhood, you see all fast food.
HAYES: Neighbors want to change that, and many came to this health fair at the local elementary school.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don't drive, you basically won't be able to eat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a grim reality of how we have to live out here.
HAYES: While grocery stores may be scarce, there are farmers markets within walking distance of some of these so-called food desert neighborhoods. The problem is that some people on the food stamp program can't buy fresh fruits and vegetables here.
Right now, if you come to the farmers market, you've got to have cash on hand. But in order to get low-income people to come and be able to use their food stamps, you need this particular machine, yes?
FREISHTAT: Truth to tell, they look and act like a debit card, a debit machine, an ATM machine.
HAYES: So, the first EBT machine, scheduled to arrive next month, is also expected to boost business for local vendors. Freishtat also wants to see more community gardens in the city and is working with local libraries where residents can pick up their groceries after ordering them online.
FREISHTAT: We can change the landscape for food.
HAYES: She is changing it in a way that just so happens to fall in line with initiatives the White House has been pushing. She says Baltimore can be an example. Let's say you and I are here a year from now, OK?
HAYES: And we're walking through the Waverly Farmers Market. How do you want it to look different?
FREISHTAT: I would like to see everyone who wants to eat fruits and vegetables to be able to come here and to be able to buy the produce in the amount that they want and need to satisfy their food security of their households.
HAYES: Bringing things like EBT machines into farmers markets is a first step. Baltimore health officials say what may be more challenging in the long term is to change people's eating habits.
Before We Go
AZUZ: The star of today's Before We Go segment has a special talent. I'm not gonna talk to you about it; I'm just gonna let her demonstrate. Take a listen. It's Sydnee, the counting canine! Sure, she can sit, lay down and roll over. My dog can do that. But this one's got something my dog doesn't: Sydnee's claim to fame is her numerical knowledge. Her owner calls out a number -- one through ten -- and that's how many barks she gets in return. Counting up, counting down, going in random order, Sydnee the counting canine can show off her skills in a bunch of different ways.
AZUZ: So you know that her owner, and anyone who appreciates a really intelligent animal, can really count on Sydnee. CNN Student News embarks on a new show tomorrow. You guys have a great day, and we'll see you then. I'm Carl Azuz.