(CNN Student News) -- September 8, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: I'm Carl Azuz and you're watching CNN Student News! Today's headlines, no commercials. Bringing you stories from all over the U.S. today, and we start things off in Colorado.
AZUZ: That's where authorities are trying to put out a wildfire that's been burning for a couple days now. The state's governor has declared a state of emergency. The fire is near the city of Boulder. Around 3,500 people were told to leave their homes, and school was canceled in the area. As of yesterday afternoon, there hadn't been any reports of injuries. Planes, like the one you see here, are dropping fire retardant, chemicals that are used to try to put out the fires. The planes can only fly in certain conditions, though, so if the weather gets bad or the wind picks up, that can be problematic. Officials say that more equipment and more firefighters are heading to the area to help out with the efforts there.
Tropical Storm Hermine
AZUZ: These images were taken in Texas on Monday night. They give you an idea of the conditions caused by Tropical Storm Hermine. This storm made landfall near Brownsville. It got weaker as it moved across the state, but Hermine still dumped huge amounts of rain on parts of Texas. Forecasters expected some areas to get up to 10 inches of rain. And in the southern part of the state, Hermine threatened what are called "storm surges." Those can raise water levels; in this case, maybe as much as 3 feet.
Just the Facts
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Just the facts. The Quran is the holy book of the Islamic religion. Its name comes from an Arabic term that means "the recitation." The Quran is made up of 114 chapters, which are divided into different verses. It includes specific laws and rules for Islamic society, as well as guidance for Muslims about their daily lives.
AZUZ: The Quran is a big part of a protest that's scheduled for this Saturday. The Dove World Outreach Church in Gainesville, Florida is planning to burn Qurans. Terry Jones, the church's pastor, says the protest is aimed at Islamic extremists, not at all Muslims. And he acknowledges that it'll make some people upset.
TERRY JONES, CHURCH PASTOR, DOVE WORLD OUTREACH: We feel that the message that we are trying to send is much more important than people being offended. We believe that we cannot back off of the truth of the dangers of Islam, of the dangers of radical Islam just because people are going to be offended.
AZUZ: A lot of people are criticizing this idea to burn Qurans. That includes other religious leaders. Some of them came together in Washington, D.C. yesterday to speak out against the plan.
DR. GERALD DULEY, PASTOR, PROVIDENCE MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH, ATLANTA, GA: Religious leaders denounce anti-Muslim bigotry and call for respect for America's tradition of religious liberty. As religious leaders in this great country, we have come together in our nation's capital to denounce categorically the derision, misinformation and outright bigotry being directed against America's Muslim community.
AZUZ: Another group that's spoken out against this is the U.S. military. In a statement, General David Petraeus -- he's the U.S. commander in Afghanistan -- said burning Qurans "could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort in Afghanistan."
AZUZ: Well, there are always interesting comments on this, not only from the people involved in the story, but from you. We've put up a post on our blog at CNNStudentNews.com where you can talk this story, you can talk about how you feel about it.
This Day in History
September 8, 1504 -- Michelangelo's "David" statue is unveiled in Florence, Italy
September 8, 1565 -- St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in the U.S., is established
September 8, 1900 -- A Category 4 hurricane hits Galveston, Texas, killing more than 8,000 people
September 8, 1974 -- President Gerald Ford pardons former President Richard Nixon for any crimes he may have committed while in office
September 8, 1998 -- Mark McGwire breaks Roger Maris' record for the most home runs in a single season
Is This Legit?
JOHN LISK, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? Worldwide, one out of every 10 adults is illiterate. Not legit. It's actually twice that many -- one out of every five adults -- who can't read or write.
International Literacy Day
AZUZ: Some surprising numbers, and those are part of the reason why the United Nations created International Literacy Day. It's designed to raise awareness about literacy needs around the world. The theme of this year's event is "Literacy and Women's Empowerment." According to the U.N., two-thirds of the world's illiterate adults are women. The organization says that literacy is a basic human right because it's the main tool for learning.
AZUZ: Sticking with the education theme, different teachers have different teaching methods. You know that; you're aware of it; you see it all the time. In Japan, one principal is running his school like a business. And based on his students' test scores, it's working. Kyung Lah shows us how he's making the grade.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT, TOKYO: The school day begins at Wada Junior High with drills; math drills, as fast as these kids can do them. The theory here: train the brain with drills, much in the same way puzzles may prevent dementia among the elderly. Principal Akihisa Shirota believes it so much, he joins the students.
School curriculum is the basics, plus lessons from real-world business and community leaders to show kids where the basics will take them. Revolutionary for a Japanese school system known for rigidity and formality. But Shirota is not your average principal. He's not even a trained educator. He's a businessman who started and then ran publishing at high-tech companies. His lack of experience in this setting is what led the school to recruit him.
"Principals are people who became teachers right after graduating from college," says Shirota. "That limits any outside the box thinking," he explains. He runs the school more like a corporation; students, his workers. And he keeps track of them.
You know all the names of all the students.
PRINCIPAL AKIHISA SHIROTA, WADA JUNIOR HIGH: No only name, but also their testing score.
LAH: You know their test scores and their names?
SHIROTA: Yes, yes, yes.
LAH: Every single one.
SHIROTA: All of them.
LAH "He's different," says a student. "More like a friend sometimes, but still the boss." In the three years since Shirota has been principal, the school claims higher test scores. The result, he believes, of a number of innovations.
It's 6:40 in the evening and students are still here at Wada Junior High School. The reason why: night school is about to begin. This is an unusual move by this public school to try to boost its test scores. It's where I meet 15-year-old Koya Nakamora.
"We start at 7:00 p.m.," Nakamora explains. He's been in school since 8:00 in the morning and leaves at 9:30 at night. Critics call this too tough for a public school, but Shirota says the old must give way to new thinking. And other educators in the country are taking note. The bottom line, says this former businessman, if Japan's corporations must adapt and compete in a global economy, it only makes sense that, so too, must Japan's schools. Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.
Off the Beaten Path
AZUZ: Well, it is time for our first field trip of the school year: Off the Beaten Path. Turns out, people had a lot of time on their hands over the long Labor Day weekend.
AZUZ: Honestly, who doesn't dream of being a champion arm wrestler? Okay, don't answer that. Just arm yourself for a battle of the biceps! At Canada's National Arm Rasslin' Championships, it's about technique. For some, it's all in the wrist. For some, it's in speed. And for some, it's in the face. Would you wanna hold hands with this guy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they mean redneck festival, they mean redneck festival.
AZUZ: But we're not still talking about arm wrestling. We're talking about this: Pennsylvania's annual Redneck Festival! You can ride the bull or barrel. You can shop for jewelry or aluminum.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They sell like hotcakes.
AZUZ: But if a "haybale obstacle course" isn't your speed, saddle up for a one-wheeled whirl across the Brooklyn Bridge! When you're too coordinated for two wheels, you don't just want to boast balance; you want to show stunts. This person had a "can-do" attitude. At least people would hear it if he fell. It's easy to see how all this pedal-spinning can make your head spin.
So without a wheel, why not just turn yourself around at a Hawkeye State Hokey Pokey? To get this many people over age 8 to participate, you must be trying to set a record. And they did: a Guinness World Record. More than 7,300 hokey pokers putting their hands into history. That's what it's all about when you journey Off the Beaten Path.
AZUZ: A world record is always cool, even if group dances are a little hokey. And those unicycle guys are wheelie awesome. Time for us to brake for the day; I know it breaks your heart. CNN Student News returns tomorrow. Have a great one. Talk to you then!