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CNN Student News Transcript: March 18, 2011


(CNN Student News) -- March 18, 2011

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Japan: Disaster-affected Areas
Detroit, Michigan



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: You've made it to the end of the week with CNN Student News. Thank you so much for joining us. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, I'm Carl Azuz.

First Up: Disaster in Japan

AZUZ: First up, water is the key ingredient in efforts to avoid a nuclear meltdown at a power plant in Japan. The workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are trying to cool down the fuel rods inside the nuclear reactors. The normal cooling systems aren't working. So, engineers are using fire trucks and police water cannons, like you see in this animation here, to try to attack the problem from the ground. Using military helicopters to drop water from the sky. Thursday, authorities said these efforts had been "somewhat effective." That was based on the steam coming out of the reactors and on the lower levels of radioactivity around the plant.

But radiation is there. The workers who are at the site have full-body hazardous material suits on. But that protective clothing isn't very effective at actually stopping the radiation that these workers are being exposed to. One way of measuring nuclear radiation is in units called millisieverts. Radiation levels at these plants have spiked to higher levels in an hour than people naturally come into contact with in a lifetime. These guys are experts, though. They work around nuclear reactors. They know exactly what the dangers are. The fact that they're willing -- in some cases volunteering -- to stay at the power plant, to try to prevent a meltdown, that's why they're being called heroes.

The massive earthquake that started all of this hit about a week ago, and Japan is still feeling aftershocks. Watch what happened while CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta was talking with Kiran Chetry from CNN's American Morning.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're feeling an aftershock right now, Kiran. I'll just tell you the, I don't know if you saw that at all, but things moving around a bit on us even as I'm talking to you. These aftershocks have come quite frequently. It's still continuing here. OK. I think we're all good.

Q & A

AZUZ: OK, we're going to bring in Steve Kastenbaum. He's a national correspendent for CNN Radio who just got back from Japan. Steve, you were in Japan right after the earthquake happened. Talk to us about the wreckage you saw.

STEVE KASTENBAUM, CNN RADIO CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK: It was pretty amazing. The earthquake itself really didn't cause a lot of damage in much of the northeast region of Japan. It was the tsunami that really caused a lot of the problems that we saw the pictures of. You're looking at some images of a small fishing and farming village called Ishiyami that I was in, north of the city of Sendai. And you can just see what the tsunami did to this area. It just barreled through there with a tremendous amount of force, literally lifting houses right off their foundations and dropping them on top of other homes. It was almost wiped off the map.

AZUZ: And Steve, afterward, in the days that followed, we've heard so much about this radiation from the nuclear plant in Japan, and we know that a lot of folks are trying to get out. You were in Tokyo. What did you see at the airport there?

KASTENBAUM: We saw massive crowds of people. The lines literally snaking through the terminals at Narita Airport in Tokyo. You're looking at some pictures I took on the day that we left. Look at that. The lines just went on for as far as the eye could see, and it took forever to check in to the flights there. And the terminals were extremely crowded, yet it was a very orderly place. Nobody was complaining, you didn't see looks of anxiety on people's faces. People just wanted to get out of Tokyo by any means possible. They would take seats on flights that would get them out of the country and it proceeded in a very orderly fashion. There really wasn't a panic at all. Tokyo, the streets of Tokyo, were unusually quiet and traffic was very light for Tokyo, a city that's known for having incredible traffic jams. So, people were definitey staying off the streets, most likely because of their fears about the potential for radiation contamination.

AZUZ: Steve Kastenbaum from CNN Radio, thanks very much for speaking to us today on CNN Student News.

Is This Legit?

PAT ST. CLAIRE, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? This is the national flag of Libya. This is legit. Green is the traditional color of Islam, which is the state religion of Libya.

Libya Civil War

AZUZ: An update for you now on the civil war happening in Libya. The international community is looking at ways it might get involved. The United Nations Security Council is talking about different options. And the New York Times reported yesterday that four of its journalists in Libya were missing. The newspaper got second-hand information that they were swept up by government forces. The Libyan government said it has no information about the missing journalists.

Fighting between government forces and rebels, though, is going on in towns around Libya. In a lot of those cases, the military is trying to regain control of towns that the rebels took control of. Tanks, radar systems, heavy artillery: That's what military forces are using as they fight their way into these towns.


TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Miss Orr's global studies class at Academic Magnet High School in Charleston, South Carolina! Who was president when March became National Women's History Month? Was it: A) Lyndon Johnson, B) Gerald Ford, C) Ronald Reagan or D) Bill Clinton? You've got three seconds -- GO! Ronald Reagan was president in 1987, when Congress declared March to be National Women's History Month. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Committed to helping others

AZUZ: In his Women's History Month proclamation that year, President Reagan said that all Americans should be grateful for women's accomplishments throughout history and in the present. We're commemorating Women's History Month all throughout March. Today, Fredricka Whitfield reports on a woman from Detroit, Michigan, whose accomplishment is helping make a difference in her community.


VERONIKA SCOTT, EMPOWERMENT PLAN FOUNDER: My name is Veronika Scott. The Empowerment Plan is more of a system than anything. It centers around a product that I designed.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: The Empowerment Plan, as Veronika Scott likes to call it, began over seven months ago when a school project took the industrial design student into another realm of creating: designing a multipurpose overcoat to meet the needs of homeless people.

SCOTT: It stores up or prevents body heat from escaping during the day. So as you're walking around, as you're moving, your body heat is trapped within the coat.

WHITFIELD: So, Veronika fabricated Element "S", a thermal coat made of wool and a building material called Tyvek. A coat by day, converting into a sleeping bag by night.

SCOTT: This coat is just something to temporarily help people that are freezing. Am I trying to compete with the shelters? No. I'm trying to help them get people that they normally can't reach.

WHITFIELD: Veronika partnered with Carhartt, a 120-year-old company known for its outerwear. Carhartt donated three industrial machines and over three hundred yards of fabric, and taught Veronika how to cut her twelve-hour production time to two hours. With each stitch, warmth for the homeless and a possible job. Elisha Carpenter wasn't working until landing this job as a seamstress.

ELISHA CARPENTER, EMPOWERMENT PLAN EMPLOYEE: I'm a mother of three, three boys, recovering addict, aspiring missionary at my church. I really believe that God placed me in this job. Even though I'm in my situation, there are some people that are worse off than I am. There are people who are living and sleeping in the streets.

WHITFIELD: Donations keep Veronika's Empowerment Plan going, help pay the employees and ensure the homeless receive the Element "S" coat for free.

SCOTT: The whole point of this was to create a process that gets people jobs, employs them, educates them, gets them a sense of pride, a sense of trust. And the product kind of just fits into all of that

WHITFIELD: All of this from a college senior committed to helping people in desperate need.


Before We Go

AZUZ: Inspiring story there. Before we go, we've got a precious story from California. Or at least it's a precious metal. That's a gargantuan gob of gold! And we've got some interesting nuggets of information about it. The thing weighs nearly 100 ounces. That's 7 pounds! It was discovered last year. Experts say it's valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars. But putting it up for auction is a golden opportunity to see what buyers think it's worth.


AZUZ: And once you're talking about that much gold, though, the whole thing is just element-ary. Hopefully the auction pans out. They just shouldn't try to rush anything. We try to come up with creative puns. And with all those, I think we're golden. Have a great weekend. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.