(CNN Student News) -- December 15, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Any of you who are looking for help shoveling snow, we might have a solution for you. I'm Carl Azuz; this is CNN Student News, bringing you today's commercial-free headlines from around the world!
First Up: Senate Tax Vote
AZUZ: First up, a debate in the nation's capital with a deadline that is getting closer every day. Tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush are set to expire at the end of this year. The debate is over whether or not to extend them, and for whom. As we've reported, President Obama and Republican leaders have come up with a plan to extend the cuts for everyone for two years. So if it passes, your taxes would stay exactly as they are now. The U.S. Senate was scheduled to vote on this plan yesterday. When we produced today's show, the vote hadn't happened yet. You can get the latest details at CNN.com. And even if this plan does pass in the Senate, it still has to be approved by the House of Representatives, and that's not a sure thing.
AZUZ: Farmers down in Florida -- you're looking at one right now -- they're waiting to see how their crops make it through all this cold weather. The temperatures have been dropping down into the 20s in some parts of the state. The 20s might not seem cold where you are, but for Florida, that is frigid. Officials say there hasn't been too much damage to crops so far. But if you're wondering what it matters if something does happen to the crops, it's obvious it's bad for the farmers who are growing them. But it could affect you and me, too. If some fruit and vegetable crops get destroyed, the cost will probably go up on the ones that survive, which could mean you or your family paying more at the supermarket.
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! The freedom of speech is established in what historic U.S. document? If you think you know it, then shout it out! Is it the: A) Declaration of Independence, B) Magna Carta, C) Articles of Confederation or D) Bill of Rights? You've got three seconds -- GO! That freedom is found in the Bill of Rights. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
Bill of Rights Day
AZUZ: The Bill of Rights, of course, is the name for the first ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It officially became law on this day -- December 15th -- back in 1791. The promise of a Bill of Rights is what helped get the Constitution approved by some states. These first ten Amendments were designed to protect individuals. They include freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to a speedy trial, and protection from cruel and unusual punishments.
AZUZ: Every month, President Obama gets together with his national security advisers to talk about the war in Afghanistan, the situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to examine the U.S. policy in the region. That monthly meeting happened at the White House yesterday. It came after some sad news earlier this week: Richard Holbrooke died on Monday at the age of 69. He was a long-time U.S. diplomat and served as a special envoy -- as America's representative -- in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. President Obama described Holbrooke as someone "who has made America stronger, safer and more respected." Over in Afghanistan, U.S. troops are taking on the Taliban in areas where the militant group has power. Nic Robertson explores how the fight is going.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a short ride. Arghandab is a key gateway to Kandahar. Unless it's secure, Kandahar is vulnerable.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL ROGER LEMONS, U.S. ARMY: The low ground down there, they would shoot rockets up here at us.
ROBERTSON: Brigade Commander Colonel Lemons arrived in August. His job: expel the Taliban from one of its strongholds.
LEMONS: We've gained the initiative in the Arghandab River Valley from the enemy. We definitely have gained the initiative. Now, our job is to sustain that, improve the development here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we're just going to head out through the mosque.
ROBERTSON: It was supposed to be a quiet patrol. A model village rewarded with a new mosque, courtesy of local government.
LEMONS: We're starting to see more and more of these communities which are interested in their own security, so that they gain development. They gain the ties to the district governance and they stabilize the area, which is extremely important.
ROBERTSON: Suddenly, there are shots.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 7226. Roger, we just had six audibles.
ROBERTSON: Our producer Tommy Evans points to where the bullets hit the hillside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About 250 meters into the orchard, there's four guys running around, staying low.
ROBERTSON: It's not the picture of security Lemons wanted to show. Impossible to confirm if Taliban are responsible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, I want you guys to go ahead and push....
ROBERTSON: After a few minutes, we move on. Lemons knows there are limits to his success.
LEMONS: We're definitely not everywhere. You're right. It would be nice to have more soldiers to be everywhere. We're not going to be able to do that, so we focus where the people are and where we can have the most effect.
ROBERTSON: And so, too, do the Taliban. That is the Arghandab Valley. That is Colonel Lemon's area of operation. The sun's going down; I've still got a full cell phone service on my phone here. But within a couple of minutes, once the sun goes behind the horizon, the Taliban will come out and exert their influence on the community and shut down the cell phone service. The transmitters will be turned off. This phone will be useless. That's the influence the Taliban still have here.
STAN CASE, CNN STUDENT NEWS: See if you can I.D. me. I'm a European country that's also a peninsula. I was home to a Renaissance period that influenced the world. My prime minister is Silvio Berlusconi, and my capital city is Rome. I'm Italy, and I'm home to more than 58 million people.
AZUZ: Some Italians aren't too happy with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. He's had some political challenges recently, and he's been involved in some personal scandals and legal problems. Angry protests broke out in Rome yesterday, some protesters fighting with police, after Italy's parliament held a no-confidence vote on Berlusconi. Now, he survived that vote by a pretty small margin, meaning he's gonna stay where he is for now. The prime minister is on the right in this picture. He said in a speech Monday, "we all have to find a way to be united and do what is best for the country."
AZUZ: Over in the South American nation of Venezuela, lawmakers are considering changing some laws that would give their government more control over the internet. The changes include setting up a government-run internet hub and putting restrictions on what kinds of content can be shown. The people who support the changes say they're designed to prevent hatred or anxiety among the public. Critics argue that the proposed laws could be used as a way of censorship and to clamp down on people who speak out against the government.
AZUZ: If you haven't made CNN Student News your home page, now's your chance! Instant access to the free resources in our Spotlight section. Links to our student blog, From A to Z, and the CNN Teachers' Lounge. And if you've missed any shows this school year, also, you can find all of them in the transcript archive. It's all at CNNStudentNews.com!
AZUZ: The weather outside is frightful, but you still have to get out of the house. And for anyone being hammered by wintry weather, that's gonna mean shoveling snow. Jennifer Carmack of affiliate WRTV shows us the idea some college students came up with to make the chore of shoveling snow just a little bit easier.
JENNIFER CARMACK, WRTV REPORTER: Once the snow stops falling, the clearing process begins. And when it's this frigid out, that job is never a fun one. But that's where this little device comes in.
DAVID HOFF, PURDUE UNIVERSITY MECHANICAL ENGINEERING STUDENT: We call him the "Snobot."
CARMACK: The robotic snowblower is the brainchild of several Purdue University mechanical engineering students.
ZAK KNUTH, PURDUE UNIVERSITY MECHANICAL ENGINEERING STUDENT: We started by creating a list of ideas of things, products that would make people's lives easier.
HOFF: You don't have the risk of slipping, falling, hurting your back. Some people have heart attacks while shoveling snow. It's a lot of health and comfort issues.
CARMACK: Snobot runs off of batteries and, little by little, clears patches of snow.
HOFF: We're using an electric dog, pet fence to have the robot be able to detect when it comes to the edge of the driveway or near the street, so it can know where to stay in bounds.
CARMACK: The trial run didn't come without problems.
ALLISON PRINZ, PURDUE UNIVERSITY MECHANICAL ENGINEERING STUDENT: We had issues with the wheels getting clogged up in the snow.
CARMACK: How realistic would it be to market something like this?
HOFF: We think it's very realistic. There's already the robot vacuums and there's some robot lawnmowers on the market.
CARMACK: The snobot may not be able to throw snow very far just yet, but it sure beats doing the job the old-fashioned way.
PRINZ: We did prove that it's a feasible concept, to be able to take a robot and make it into a snowblower. Eventually, it will be an awesome concept to clear the driveway without having to leave the house.
CARMACK: Staying warm while getting your driveway cleared beats this any day.
AZUZ: Yes it does. And while having a robot shovel your driveway might seem like cold comfort, for some people it's snow laughing matter. And if the snobot catches on, those students can expect an avalanche of praise. That'll put today's show on ice. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz. We'll look forward to seeing you tomorrow.