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CNN Student News Transcript: March 28, 2011

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CNN Student News - 3/28/11

(CNN Student News) -- March 28, 2011

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Japan: Disaster-affected Areas



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: I'm Carl Azuz and today, CNN Student News shows you what it looks like when the lights go down in the city. But our journey through today's headlines starts in Libya.

First Up: Libya Civil War

AZUZ: And our first subject: who is leading the coalition military operation in that north African country. The U.S. has been in charge. But a deal was worked out over the weekend for NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to take responsibility for running the operation. The first part of that, NATO enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya, is scheduled to happen today.

On the ground, Libyan forces are fighting against rebels who want Libya's leader, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi, out of power. The rebels were pushing westward over the weekend and taking control of some key cities along the way. But in others, the fighting between rebels and military forces is fierce. President Obama is scheduled to give a speech tonight about the situation in Libya. That'll happen at 7:30 ET.

Crisis in Japan

AZUZ: Over in Japan, we're getting some conflicting reports about the radiation coming out of a damaged nuclear power plant. Early Sunday, tests showed that one building at the plant was giving off radiation levels 10 million times more than normal. Tokyo Electric, which owns the plant, later said the number was closer to 100,000 times normal level.

The problems at the plant started with the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan a little over two weeks ago. In this YouTube video, you can see the impact of that tsunami. The water is rushing over the barrier, flooding a road. Then, it starts sweeping across a parking lot filled with cars. At this point, the flood is pouring in so fast you can't even see the barrier. And those cars are tossed around like toys in a tub, smashed up against the side of a building. This is how an entire town can be washed away. Eventually, the force of the water, the force of the cars, one building is just ripped off its foundation and floats away.

It might seem strange to talk about a Cherry Blossom Festival in relation to the crisis in Japan. But the annual event in Washington, D.C. highlights the relationship between the U.S. and Japan. And this year, people used the festival to show their support for victims halfway around the world.


DANIELLE PIACENTE, COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER, NATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL: We thought it was a really good time to bring everyone together in a show of solidarity and support for the people of Japan in this great time of need.

ICHIRO FUJISAKI, JAPANESE AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: This a very tough fight. But the consolation is that people around the world are trying to be with us.

NORITAKA TAKEZAWA, JAPANESE-AMERICAN: Cherry Blossom Festival, cherry blossom is always special for us. But this year, the Cherry Blossom Festival is very, very special. Japanese people, we need to restore our country again. For that, we need a lot of support, especially American support. A hundred years ago, Japanese people sent cherry blossoms to the United States. And after a hundred years, still blooming. And that represent our friendships.

MAYA WALSH, JAPANESE-AMERICAN: My mother is Japanese, and I thought this is a good way to help support the efforts. My culture is really important to me, and I'm really proud to be out here with everyone.

KAZU KOYAMA, JAPANESE-AMERICAN: I just want the people of Japan to know that the people of the United States, from the bottom of their hearts, ordinary Americans truly and genuinely care for the Japanese people. And I hope that message can be brought to them through this festival.


Sound Check

GERALDINE FERRARO, 1984 DEMOCRATIC VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to thank Fritz Mondale for asking the convention to nominate me as his running mate. This choice says a lot about him, about where the country has come, and about where we want to lead it. Fritz called my road here, the classic American dream. He's right.

Remembering Ferraro

AZUZ: Geraldine Ferraro, talking in 1984 about her nomination as the U.S. Democratic vice presidential candidate. Ferraro made history as the first female VP candidate from a major political party. Her running mate, Walter Mondale, said he picked her because "she's smart, she knows the issues, she believes in social justice."

Mondale and Ferraro didn't win the election. But 10 years later, Ferraro was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in recognition of her accomplishments and contributions to American society. Geraldine Ferraro died on Saturday from complications from blood cancer. She was 75 years old.

Nuclear Plant Tour

AZUZ: The name Three Mile Island might not sound very familiar to you, but it probably does to your parents and teachers. On this day in 1979, Three Mile Island was the site of the most serious nuclear accident in U.S. history. With the crisis going on in Japan, some people are asking about the safety of nuclear facilities in the U.S. David Mattingly is here to give us a tour of one.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This is a rare look at the inner workings of a nuclear plant, this one owned by TVA, the Tennessee Valley Authority, at Browns Ferry. They're opening up this tour today because they want to reassure the public that what happened in Japan could not happen here.

This nuclear plant was built to generate electricity the same way as the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant. But operators here say redundant layers of generators and batteries would keep the critical systems running after a catastrophe.

This is a very interesting place right here. Just step through right here and right below my feet is a thousand pounds of pressurized steam. I'm standing right on top of one of the reactors.

Shutting it down in an emergency is easy. Keeping the nuclear fuel from overheating, though, was a problem in Japan.

This is the pool where spent fuel rods are kept cool, just like the one that malfunctioned in the Japanese plant. Fire hoses are strung nearby to pump water into the pool manually if all systems fail.

PRESTON SWAFFORD, TVA CHIEF NUCLEAR OFFICER: You can never in our business say ever, positively, because I think the Japanese may have said the same thing. But I'll tell you, I don't believe we're going to have a 43-foot high wall of water that's going to hit this interior plant inside in the state of Alabama.

MATTINGLY: This big red area is a huge reservoir of water that sits underneath the reactor. The water in here is then pumped into the reactor in emergency situations. What I want to show you is right here, that piece of metal right there that looks like a shock absorber for your car. That's a shock absorber for this reactor. It's called a snubber, and it goes into operation in case there's an earthquake.

This plant is designed to withstand a 6.0 earthquake and a million-year flood on the Tennessee River.

One big change after watching what happened in Japan: operators of this plant and others are going back to the drawing board to decide if they have figured out what is their worst-case scenario. They'll be playing a very long game of "what if" to determine if they've got it right. David Mattingley, CNN, Browns Ferry, Alabama.


Blog Report

AZUZ: Our blog asked what you thought of a Florida school's rules to accommodate a student with a life-threatening peanut allergy. If you haven't seen that report, you can find Friday's show. It's in our archive at Zayne says "the rules go overboard. The student should be homeschooled; her parents are making the whole school go through a lot of hassle." Colin calls protesting the new rules "petty." He can't believe some parents refuse to suffer the minor inconveniences mentioned to protect the welfare of a young girl. The results of our quick poll: 44 percent of you called the new rules appropriate; 56 percent said they go too far. Shannon says "the child deserves to be safe at school. The regulations on her classmates should be seen as compassion, not an inconvenience." Effie asks "why other people have to be responsible for another child's health issue," and says her sister has the same problem and was taught early how to handle it herself. Perspective from Zackson: "Think about how the allergic girl must be feeling. All these new rules because of her -- that must be embarrassing."

Before We Go

AZUZ: Our last story today is a dark one, but for a good reason. It's Earth Hour! Cities around the world flipped the switch this past Saturday, turning off their lights for one hour at 8:30 p.m. The event started a few years ago in Australia. It's designed to raise awareness about environmental issues. Last year, more than 100 countries participated. If you want to get involved with all this, you better be serious about going dark.


AZUZ: Because once you've committed to Earth Hour, you can't black out. A little pun to lighten the mood. That story was lights out! And so are we. We'll see you tomorrow.