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CNN Student News Transcript: March 15, 2011


(CNN Student News) -- March 15, 2011

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Japan: Disaster-affected Areas
Austin, Texas



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: It's March 15th, I'm Carl Azuz. You're tuned in to CNN Student News! We've got stories on sports and technology coming up. But we start today in Japan.

First Up: Japan Earthquake

AZUZ: In the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in that country, one of the many major concerns is problems at a nuclear power plant. In yesterday's show, we talked about how these plants work. There have been explosions inside some of them, but experts think those are probably being caused by a build-up of hydrogen. Another problem, though: The cooling system for one of the nuclear reactors went down. No cooling system means the water that covers up the nuclear fuel rods started to burn off; that left the rods exposed. If those things are exposed for too long, the heat and steam that they let off could melt the reactor's core. And that could be very bad news indeed. Officials are doing everything they can to keep this situation under control.

Meanwhile, rescue crews are spread out all over northern Japan trying to reach survivors of the quake and tsunami. But rescuers are facing obstacles as well. Obviously, they have to work around all the rubble and the flooding you see here. But they're also dealing with aftershocks. And the weather is supposed to get worse, which could in itself cause problems. There are scenes of incredible rescues taking place, like this one. A sixty-year-old man was swept out to sea, along with his house. He managed to hold on to part of his roof, and a Japanese naval ship found him floating nine miles off the coast.

We also talked yesterday about the help coming in from around the world. At least 70 countries have offered help to Japan, and the aid they want to send in is very unique. We have some examples of it for you right now. Rescue dogs. They're heading in from South Korea, Britain, Germany. These are specially trained animals that can tell the difference between survivors and dead bodies. So hopefully, they'll be able to help in the rescue efforts. Next, clinics for medical care. These are mobile clinics, so they can be set up, torn down really quickly and they can get aid to those who need it. Nuclear specialists are also there. And I don't just mean people who have experience with nuclear reactors and how to fix them. These folks are experts at containing radioactive materials, and the specialists are going to be needed. Next, telecommunications equipment. The power has failed in a lot of places. Backup generators are being brought in to restore that power. And phone equipment is being brought in to get loved ones in touch with each another. Finally, machinery to clean debris. We're talking about heavy duty equipment, stuff that can lift houses off of people who are trapped or cut through concrete. That kind of equipment could be crucial in towns like the one Gary Tuchman filed this report from.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Minamisanriku, Japan, about three miles from the Pacific Ocean. Never in my career of covering natural disasters have I seen a town so utterly pulverized. Just completely mowed down.

But this is not from the earthquake. This is from the tsunami. And we know that because this is where the water stopped on its way from the ocean. If you go to a half-mile of here, a half-mile to the west, there's absolutely no damage whatsoever in the nearby neighborhoods. But here, there's nothing left. We see cars, we see trucks, we see motor homes, trees, personal belongings of people all over the place. And they come from all over this town of 20,000 people.

Now, there are still thousands of people unaccounted for. That doesn't mean they're all dead. It doesn't mean they're all hurt. It's hard to keep track of people. But the fact is, there are still many bodies under this rubble.

Explainers, Interactives In the Spotlight

AZUZ: Teachers, we have a lot of resources up on our home page, They'll help illustrate some of what's going on in Japan. If you look in our Spotlight section, you'll see explainers and interactives on tsunamis, earthquake magnitudes and how nuclear power plants work. You'll also see a link to "Impact Your World." You can click on that for a list of some of the relief organizations that are working to help the victims of this disaster. You'll also find out how you can get involved and help, as well.

Crisis in Libya

AZUZ: The eyes of much of the world may have been on Japan this weekend, but the civil war in Libya rages on. In the latest developments there, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces pounded towns that were under control of the rebels who are against Colonel Gadhafi. Over the weekend, Gadhafi's forces took control of several towns back from the rebels. And his government seems determined to take back all of the territory that it's lost.

In the midst of the fighting, the Arab League, a coalition of the world's Arab countries, voted Saturday in support of a no-fly zone over Libya. If the no-fly zone is put into place, it means Libyan planes wouldn't be allowed to fly without permission. The Arab League says that move would help protect Libya's civilians. Libya says the vote violates what the Arab League is supposed to be about.


TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mrs. Lee's sociology classes at Imlay City High School in Imlay City, Michigan! When was the National Football League's last work stoppage? You know what to do! Was it in: A) 1987, B) 1992, C) 1997 or D) 2002? Three seconds on the clock -- GO! The last NFL work stoppage happened 24 years ago in 1987. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

NFL Labor Fight

AZUZ: We could be headed for another one. The NFL and the players' union are trying to negotiate a new contract, including how to split up the money that the NFL makes. Last year, it made more than $9 billion. The talks between the owners and the players broke down late last week, and the players' union said it was decertifying itself. Basically, the union changed its status so that it could sue the National Football League. This could mean a long, legal fight. The big question is, what does this mean for next season? Will there even be a season? The answer right now: We don't know. If there is a lockout, the draft will happen next month. But other offseason activity will be canceled. And if that lockout lasts long enough, it could delay or cancel the start of the new football season.

Fennville Win

AZUZ: Want to follow up on another sports story from Fennville, Michigan. The community is mourning Wes Leonard. He was a student and star basketball player who died recently. Wes's team decided to keep playing, in part to honor him, and it played in the district tournament last week. They got a close win on Monday. Blew out their opponent in this game on Wednesday. That let them advance to the championship on Friday. And when the final buzzer sounded, Fennville won. You can see the pandemonium that just erupted when the game ended. The emotion carried straight through the trophy presentation, and that's because the person who went out to get the trophy was Wes Leonard's younger brother, Mitchell. The 13-year-old is an honorary member of the team, and he says Wes's teammates have helped support him since his brother's death. In Mitchell's words: "They are like brothers to me now."

Is This Legit?

STAN CASE, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? Dallas is the capital of Texas. Nope! Texas' capital is a smaller city named Austin!

South by Southwest

AZUZ: Okay, Austin is also home to a festival called "South by Southwest." This started back in 1987. Thousands of people show up in the Texas capital for it every year. Originally, it was a music showcase. Now, South by Southwest includes movies and technology. Dan Simon checks in with this report on why the festival is so important to the tech world.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, SAN FRANCISCO: It's been called spring break for tech geeks. Thousands of people from all over the world descending on Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival. This festival has been around for 25 years now, but it's really been in the past few years where it's been sort of a launch pad for some of the hottest technology companies including Twitter and Foursquare. Right now, it's a bit of an open question to see what trends may emerge this year. But in a sense, it's a bit like American Idol for budding technology companies.

HUGH FORREST, DIRECTOR, INTERACTIVE FESTIVAL, SXSW: If people come in thinking they will be the next Twitter or Foursquare, that's probably not the right attitude. What you want to do at SXSW is take your career to the next level, whether you are a two-person start-up that needs funding so you can make it through the next six months, or whether you're a much larger company that wants to gain a larger audience. SXSW, across the board, is about taking your career to the next level.

SIMON: SXSW is a nine-day festival. In addition to the interactive technology portion, it's also a music and film festival with lots of networking going on, lots of panels and we're going to be here trying to see what companies have a chance of breaking out and getting into the mainstream.


Before We Go

AZUZ: I know some people who've run 50 miles in a month. I know some who did it in a week. The woman you see on the left here did it in a day! 50 miles on her 50th birthday. Sandy Smith did this in blocks of five miles at a time, her friends sometimes beside her in support, though she was the only one to run the full distance. With each step, Smith raised money for autism, which her daughter has. And to stay fueled up, she nibbled on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.


AZUZ: A little breading for the treading on a distance that's simply mind-joggling. We have a sign-off line for you, comes from Clayton. "This has been around the world in 10 minutes." Send your sign-off line to