(CNN Student News) -- March 1, 2011
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Hey there. I'm Carl Azuz and this is CNN Student News! It's the end of an era for one generation of American history. We're gonna explain why in just a few. But we start today in Washington, D.C.
AZUZ: Congress is back in session, and the House and Senate are staring down a pretty big deadline. Has to do with how the federal government pays for what it does. Congress has to approve bills that determine how the government spends money. So far this year, they haven't approved a bill. They're using a temporary solution, but that is scheduled to end this Friday.
There was talk yesterday that a deal was in the works. But if they can't come up with a compromise, the government might shut down. And if that happens, some things will keep running. The mail will still get delivered. Air traffic controllers will keep directing planes. But thousands of government workers would have to stay home. Any trips to national parks or museums? Nope; they would be closed. So, there is a lot at stake here. And Sandra Endo is covering the negotiations happening on Capitol Hill. Sandra, what do you have?
SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carl, this week is crucial. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have to get together in agreement so that the government doesn't shut down. House Speaker John Boehner says he wants congressional Democrats to accept a short-term spending plan which would cut $4 billion. Now, the proposal would extend government funding for two weeks. The current spending plan expires Friday at midnight. So if no agreement is reached, the federal government could shut down on Saturday, which would be the first time in 15 years.
Now, the House already passed a spending measure cutting $61 billion from the current levels for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends on September 30. Senate Democrats say they don't want those cuts; they want to invest in areas like clean energy and other key proposals. Now, both sides, though, do say they want to work together to avoid a government shutdown, and negotiations are underway.
HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER, (R) OHIO: We have a moral responsibility to address the problems that we face. And that means working together to cut spending and to rein in government, not shutting it down.
SEN. KENT CONRAD, (D) NORTH DAKOTA: It is acceptable to me to have $4 billion in savings in a two-week package. Sure. The make-up of that is up for discussion and negotiation. That negotiation's ongoing. I'm confident we'll achieve a conclusion on that.
ENDO: Confidence, but also some fears. Democrats are saying that they think maybe Republicans would force a government shutdown if they don't get everything they want. So, the key word here on Capitol Hill is compromise. That's the latest from here in Washington. I'm Sandra Endo. Carl, back to you.
Fires and Floods
AZUZ: Thank you, Sandra. Other headlines around the U.S. In Texas, firefighters are trying to get blazes like this one under control. Officials have responded to at least 25 fires in 15 different counties since Sunday. They're looking into what might have caused the fires. Water was the problem in parts of the Midwest, like you see here in Indianapolis. Heavy storms -- some with winds blowing at 60 to 70 miles per hour -- led to flood warnings and watches across most of the state. Some roads and neighborhoods were washed over. And a similar situation in Ohio, where the National Weather Service put out a flash flood warning. That came after strong rains caused a complete failure of a dam in the Cleveland area. A river nearby is already experiencing major flooding.
AZUZ: We've reported on the space shuttle Discovery's mission to deliver parts and equipment to the international space station. But the Discovery crew has some other work to do while they're up there. That includes the six-hour spacewalk scheduled for yesterday. Here, you see one of the astronauts getting ready. The preparations can be intense. The two men who are taking this spacewalk spent 14 hours camped out in the station's airlock to help their bodies get ready for the vacuum of space. Today is day six of what is expected to be an 11-day mission for Discovery.
CATHERINE PANDUR, EVACUATED FROM LIBYA: It's just nice to be home. Just to be so afraid, and to hear gunfire all over your house. I just got the phone call before I left and he's out now. He's out now. The feeling of trying to get out and you can't do it. I'm sorry. It's just nice to be back.
AZUZ: Powerful emotions related to what's going on in Libya. The U.S. military says that Navy and Air Force personnel in that part of the world are being moved around just to prepare for any possibilities. Meanwhile, reports of violence from inside Libya keep coming in. Yesterday, a Libyan military jet reportedly bombed a military base in an area that's being controlled by protesters. The United Nations says more than a thousand people have been killed in the violence. Understandably, many people inside Libya are trying to get out. Ivan Watson gives a sense of what the situation is like just outside Libya's borders.
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are just some of the estimated 40,000 people who have fled across the border from Libya here, to Tunisia, in just the last week. Most of these people are Egyptian migrant workers, day laborers, who are fleeing the bloodshed and the violence in Libya. And it's difficult to even call this situation a camp, because some of the men we've spoken with say they have spent two, three, four nights sleeping out here in the cold, out on the streets. Sir, you've been here one day, two days?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One day.
WATSON: One day? Sleeping right here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two. Two.
WATSON: Two days?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we come from traveling to Tunisia, they take our laptops, six laptops in the same bus, take my mobile...
WATSON: Who took your laptops and mobile?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The military.
WATSON: The military?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The military, yes.
WATSON: Libyan soldiers?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Libyan soldiers, yes.
WATSON: The Tunisian military say they need more help, perhaps from the United Nations, from aid organizations, to help deal with this exodus of humanity. Tunisian civil society is stepping forward. We've seen convoys of Tunisia vehicles, volunteers coming in, bringing in help, bringing in support, and even organizing demonstrations here against Moammar Gadhafi, where they've ever bean waving the pre-1969 Libyan three-color flag that has become a symbol against Gadhafi. We're seeing a show of support from Tunisia, the first Arab country to launch this pro-democracy movement. Support for Libya's own democratic uprising.
But as you can see here, the numbers of people just get bigger and bigger day after day. And the fear is if the bloodshed gets worse, that these scenes could get worse as well if Libyans join the flow of refugees escaping the violence in their country. Ivan Watson, CNN, near the Tunisian-Libyan border.
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mrs. Groves' social studies classes at Crestview Middle School in Huntington, Indiana! Which of these wars ended in 1918? You know what to do! Was it the: A) Spanish-American War, B) World War I, C) Crimean War or D) Korean War? You've got three seconds -- GO! World War I, also called the "Great War," ended on November 11, 1918. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: So, the war ended just more than 92 years ago. But an American era ended yesterday with the death of Frank Buckles. He was the last surviving U.S. veteran of the nearly 5 million Americans who served in World War I. Mr. Buckles was a corporal when World War I ended. He drove Army ambulances in Europe and also escorted German prisoners of war. Buckles became a prisoner of war himself during World War II.
And in his later years, Buckles pushed for a national World War I memorial in Washington, D.C. He said it was part of his responsibility to honor the memory of his fellow veterans. According to his family, Buckles passed away Sunday in his home of natural causes. He was 110 years old.
Women's History Month
AZUZ: Today is March 1st, the start of Women's History Month! We'll be celebrating the achievements of women in America on our show and our home page. Today, you can check out our discussion questions and learning activities which, of course, are 100 percent free. Women's History Month: in the Spotlight all through March at CNNStudentNews.com!
Before We Go
AZUZ: And before we go, you might know some folks who are easily amused. This is taking it to the extreme. All it takes to crack up little Micah here is for his dad to rip up a piece of paper. This kid is losing it! The dad realized the uproarious repercussions of ripping and posted the video online. It's gone viral, hundreds of thousands of people checking it out.
AZUZ: We guess they can't tear themselves away. Who knew all you needed was a piece of paper to have such rip-roaring fun. At Facebook.com/CNNStudentNews, a viewer named Seong suggested today's sign-off line: "I'll be back." Tomorrow, in fact. We'll see y'all then.