(CNN Student News) -- November 29, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: CNN Student News welcomes you back from Thanksgiving break! Hope you had a great turkey day. Here is your commercial-free news on this last Monday in November.
AZUZ: First up -- things are tense with North Korea. Again. U.S. Senator John McCain says he doesn't think the Asian country really wants war, but that's what it's talking about as the U.S. and South Korea start military exercises off the coast of the Korean peninsula. Here's CNN's Chris Lawrence.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: You're talking in the neighborhood of about 7,000 American sailors, 75 fighter jets on board. This is going to be a combination of air and sea, last for about four days. And, so, that's when we will have to start really keeping an eye on what North Korea's response will be when those training exercises start.
AZUZ: These military exercises have been planned for awhile. North Korea characterizes them as a "pretext for aggression" that could ignite a war and says they're creating a state of "ultra emergency" in the Korean peninsula. Why do some American lawmakers doubt there'll be a war? Because North Korea's done this sort of thing before -- they've made these threatening statements -- in hopes of getting other countries to pacify North Korea with aid or money. Senator McCain says the U.S. has given North Korea more than a billion dollars in the past 15 years to try to get North Korea to negotiate. So why is that country's threat still serious? Because last week, North Korea attacked a South Korean island, killing two South Korean marines and two civilians. It said that was in response to military exercises being done by South Korea alone. And North Korea has moved surface-to-air missiles to its border with South Korea. Why does all this matter so much to the U.S.? Well, you know that the U.S. was involved in the 1950s Korean War. Today, America has a defense treaty with South Korea. If war breaks out again between North and South, the U.S. is committed to help defend South Korea.
Plot in Portland
AZUZ: The place: Portland, Oregon. The event: The lighting of the city's Christmas tree. The problem: Officials say someone wanted to bomb the celebration, which attracts thousands of people. He failed, as you can see here, the tree shining with lights and the flashes of cameras from the crowd. Those who were here are thankful to the Portland police and the FBI who say this man -- 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud -- tried to blow up what he thought was a car bomb at the ceremony on Friday night. Police say the Muslim teen was interested in violent religious attacks, but that the people at the event were never in any real danger, because officials had had their eye on Mohamud for a long time. The FBI says it had worked undercover to trap the suspect. This included getting in touch with Mohamud, finding out what he allegedly wanted to attack, and then providing a fake car bomb that Mohamud is accused of trying to detonate several times during the ceremony. Muslim leaders in the Portland area spoke out against the plot and any violence that targets innocent people.
Is This Legit?
STAN CASE, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is This Legit? Haiti's government is a constitutional monarchy. Not legit! Haiti is a republic; its president is elected by popular vote.
AZUZ: So Haiti's people may choose their leader directly, but did they have the chance to do it fairly? There were 18 candidates for president in yesterday's election in Haiti. 11 of them say the vote was tainted by fraud all over the country. The leading politician even asked for the election to be canceled! Ivan Watson takes you to the political scene in a country crushed by poverty, disaster and disease.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Haiti's presidential palace still lies in ruins, but that hasn't stopped these politicians from competing for the top job. Eighteen candidates, mobilizing supporters and money, to win the post of president. Historically, Haitian elections are plagued by violence, allegations of fraud, and logistical problems. This year, election officials say they've trained staff and carefully prepared ballot counting centers to ensure a smoother election. But 48 hours before the polls were scheduled to open, crowds waited in line to receive identification cards that will allow them to vote. At the beginning of this month, hundreds of thousands of ID cards had yet to be distributed. Election workers, disorganized, struggling to maintain order. At least one woman collapses after waiting for hours. And tempers start to flare.
Meanwhile, fresh reports of violence. The United Nations says it deployed peacekeepers and police to one southern town Friday night after supporters of presidential candidate Michel Martelly clashed with members of the outgoing president's political party. Last week, U.N. Peacekeepers lost control of the streets of Haiti's second largest city, after a deadly cholera outbreak triggered violent protests. Haitian authorities aren't taking any chances. They're imposing strict curfews on vehicle traffic on election day, banning the sale of alcohol, and suspending licenses for guns until three days after the vote.
APRIL WILLIAMS, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for a Shoutout! What is the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend known as? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Leftover Monday, B) Online Monday, C) Cyber Monday or D) Manic Monday? You've got three seconds -- GO! Many stores see Cyber Monday as the beginning of the online shopping season for the holidays! That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
More Hype than Sales?
AZUZ: That means today, millions of Americans will be shopping online; many of them are going to be at work when they do. Consumer Reports says that 17 percent of adult Americans will be surfing for internet deals today, while 13 percent are expected to actually set foot in a store. So you can see the difference between Cyber Monday, and Black Friday, which was last week. Retailers were hoping to get in the black, meaning they'd be making profits, but this time around, it looks like Black Friday was more hype than sales. The crowds were bigger overall. But the actual increase in Black Friday sales was only slight. In fact, it was about the same increase over last year as last year was over the year before.
AZUZ: CNN recently interviewed Fred McNeill. He's a former Minnesota Vikings linebacker who clearly remembers one of the big plays he made in Super Bowl 11. That was back in 1977. But if you were to ask McNeill where he was yesterday and whom he just met, the 58-year-old has trouble remembering. Doctor Sanjay Gupta interviews another football player and tells us what could be the reasons why for these memory issues.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you feel like now, in retrospect, you ever stayed in the game or was sort of pushed to stay in the game when you shouldn't have?
KURT WARNER, FORMER NFL QUARTERBACK: Yes, there's no question that's happened. A lot of guys when they get those hits or those concussions, they think, "OK, I'm just going to play through it here for the short-term and it's going to get better."
UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: He was just lifted up and deposited -
GUPTA: Playing through it is part of football says Warner. A big part.
WARNER: Probably 100 percent of the guys that played my sport in the NFL have been there. And I think for a long time it was felt like, well, if you didn't get up dizzy or with no memory, then you really didn't suffer a concussion.
GUPTA: What does a concussion feel like?
WARNER: It's like a mental fogginess, where you almost seem like you're separated from the situation. You're in it, but you're kind of looking at it from the outside looking in.
GUSKIEWICZ: How many of you have -- by show of hands - had a concussion?
GUPTA: Kevin Guskiewicz, formerly a Pittsburgh Steelers trainer, studies concussions' impact on the brain in high school players.
KEVIN GUSKIEWICZ, BRAIN INJURY RESEARCHER, FORMER NFL TRAINER: This is showing moderate levels of atrophy.
GUPTA: And retired NFL athletes. In his study, players who've had three or more concussions get MRIs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to say three words.
GUPTA: And memory tests.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Apple, penny, table. Now you say those.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apple, penny, table.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good.
GUPTA: Memory problems are not the only thing they are finding.
GUSKIEWICZ: The brain has shrunk.
GUPTA: Concussions may be shrinking memory and learning centers in the brain, thwarting its ability to transmit signals.
AZUZ: We asked the NFL about Kurt Warner's statement about players staying in the game even if they are hurt. The organization's response: "If anything, we are going in the other direction where people sit out until they are totally symptom-free. There are so many protocols now, if a guy gets pulled out in a game, he cannot go back until he's cleared by the team doctor."
Before We Go
AZUZ: 'Tis the season when you see members of the Salvation Army, ringing bells outside stores. They don't have to be human. Here's Tinker, a miniature horse who's harnessed the heart of the holidays. His owner says she saw too many people passing by the kettle without making donations. So with a little training, Tinker rings a bell and brings money to the pan!
AZUZ: Silencing all the neigh-sayers. Hey, Tinker may be a little guy, but he's still a stud. We're riding out -- I'm Carl Azuz for CNN Student News and we'll see you tomorrow.