(CNN Student News) -- April 7, 2011
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: It's Thursday, I'm Carl Azuz, and this is CNN Student News! Today, we're going to talk about a race that's out of this world. Or, at least it's trying to get there. First up, though, we're headed to Japan.
AZUZ: Officials are talking about a sort of victory for workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The damaged one we've been talking about. Engineers have been fighting for nearly four weeks to keep the plant's nuclear reactors from overheating. But they ran into another problem when radioactive water started leaking out into the ocean. Here, you can see the leak and the water flowing out of it. That's the "before" shot. Here's the "after": no more leak. Workers were able to seal it up yesterday with a chemical compound they're calling "liquid glass." The radiation levels in the water near the Fukushima Daiichi plant were already going down. But government officials say just because they were able to plug that leak doesn't mean they can be optimistic. They're worried about other leaks that might show up in other spots around the plant.
Haiti Election Results
AZUZ: A quick update for you on Haiti's presidential election. Michel Martelly -- you see right here -- was declared the winner of the recent run-off election with more than 67 percent of the vote. Martelly has never been a politician before; he's a singer. But one analyst said he represents the change that many Haitians have been calling for.
AZUZ: In Washington, D.C., the clock is ticking down to midnight on Friday. Congress has until then to come up with some sort of budget deal, either a new budget or extending the deadline for one. And if they don't, we are set for a government shutdown. That doesn't mean that every part of the government turns off its lights. But if you're planning a trip to a national park or the Smithsonian? Sorry, they'll be closed. Government officials also say paychecks would stop for U.S. military forces, including troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. And around 800,000 government employees would be in that same boat. They'd be asked to stay home and wouldn't get paid. Again, all of this is an "if." Congressional leaders are trying to work on a compromise and avoid a shutdown. But the two sides aren't holding back about their frustrations.
SEN. HARRY REID, (D) MAJORITY LEADER: Republicans refuse to take yes for an answer. Every time we agree to meet in the middle, they move where the middle is.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: Now, we're not going to allow the Senate nor the White House to put us in a box where we have to make a choice between two bad options.
AZUZ: For any of you who don't have your driver's licenses yet, you probably can't wait for the day when you can get one. But your wallet, as all of the drivers know, might disagree. The cost of driving is going up. And some of the things that make up that cost might not be what you'd expect or even really think about. Karen Caifa explains how it all adds up.
KARIN CAIFA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Every time you fill up the tank, there's that reminder: if you want to hit the road, it'll cost you. Higher gas prices might be the most obvious cost of owning and operating a car, but they're not the only numbers creeping upward. AAA's annual study of driving costs found that on average, getting where you need to go costs 3.4% more than last year. That's based on 15,000 miles of driving the average standard sedan, 58.5 cents per mile, for a total just under $8,800 per year.
The biggest increases: the cost of tires, up more than 15%, largely due to a rise in the cost of raw materials. Fuel costs up 8.6%. And depreciation, the loss of your car's value that starts as soon as you drive it off the dealer's lot, up 4.9%. A cost many consumers don't think about because it doesn't have a price tag.
JOHN NIELSEN, AAA NATIONAL DIRECTOR OF AUTO REPAIR, BUYING & CONSUMER INFORMATION: That's the greatest cost, something that you can really shop for cars that have low depreciation and save yourself considerably.
CAIFA: Cost of insurance dropped on average for good drivers, as did maintenance. That's especially good news, since regular maintenance can prevent pricey repairs down the road.
NIELSEN: A lot of people might be inclined to save a little bit here and there and maybe not change the oil and rotate the tires, but just taking care of your car can really make it last longer.
CAIFA: Maintenance can also keep your car more efficient, maybe even saving you a little gas. In Washington, I'm Karin Caifa for CNN Student News.
SHELBY ERDMAN, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Ms. Madden's social studies classes at Huntsville Intermediate School in Huntsville, Texas! Who was the first person in space? You know what to do! Was it: A) Alan Shepard, B) Dennis Tito, C) Neil Armstrong or D) Yuri Gagarin? You've got three seconds -- GO! In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: Gagarin went into space on a Soviet rocket. Shepherd and Armstrong went up in U.S. spacecraft. Tito rode on a Russian vehicle. But all of those were launched by government-run space agencies. With the space shuttle program getting ready to end, NASA is turning to outside companies to take over future flights. John Zarrella checks out how this new space race is going.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Elon Musk is like a big kid with a new toy.
ELON MUSK, SPACE X CEO: We designed this to be super tough. I mean, you can beat the snot out of it and it will still work.
ZARRELLA: Musk's toy just happens to be a spacecraft. He sunk $100 million of his own money into developing it. We caught up with Musk and his Dragon capsule in Washington, D.C., where it was on display: the first commercially-owned vehicle to ever circle the Earth and land safely back.
MUSK: The guy who was the chief designer of the 747, when he saw that thing take off, he says, "I can't believe it works."
ZARRELLA: You say the same thing, don't you?
MUSK: That's how I feel!
ZARRELLA: Musk's company, Space X, is considered the leader in what is quickly becoming a commercial race to space.
MUSK: Races are good.
ZARRELLA: There's little doubt the race is now on. ATK, the company that builds the shuttle's solid rocket boosters, announced it's going to build a rocket called Liberty. Bigger, ATK boasts, than Musk's Falcon 9. And this month, NASA is expected to announce the names of half a dozen commercial companies getting seed money to start developing vehicles to replace the shuttle for carrying astronauts to the international space station.
CHARLIE BOLDEN, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: Ideally, we would like to have multiple competitors who come down to at least two that we can use, so that we always have an alternative should one be faulty or one fail.
ZARRELLA: The Space X Dragon would be modified to carry astronauts.
MUSK: It's highly likely that we will get one of the contracts from NASA to launch astronauts, and I'm also confident we will be the first to do so.
ZARRELLA: Space X already has a contract for a dozen cargo flights to the station starting next year. This summer, the company expects to make its last Dragon test flight, which is likely to be a docking with the space station. And as long as you're going, don't show up empty handed.
MUSK: We're carrying mostly food and water. That's stuff that has high value once you're in orbit, but if you blow up a cheeseburger, it's not that bad.
ZARRELLA: Musk says despite the successes so far, a failure along the way would not be a surprise. This is, after all, rocket science. John Zarrella, CNN, Washington.
AZUZ: We're getting a lot of mixed opinions from you on our latest blog post. I wrote about a proposal in the state of Maine and asked if you'd be willing to make less than minimum wage if it meant you might have a better chance of getting a job. We know teen unemployment, the rate for that, is far higher than it is overall. This is what Zach had to say: The proposal angered him. Zach says he knows "families that depend on the money a child makes, and the bill could hurt the families' financial troubles." Amanda-Jane would take the pay cut. "You have to think, some of the poorer people in the U.S. need a job, but don't get hired," she writes. Brian said he'd never do $7.25-per-hour work for less than $7.25-per-hour pay. But Jamey says getting a job for $5.50 an hour would be better than having no job at all. "A worker's mentality should be getting anything that could help them along." Pia says people have been fighting for years to up the minimum wage. "Just because a teenager is in training doesn't mean they should be paid any less." Nikki writes, "I would love to work. I don't think it matters how much you're being paid as long as you're getting paid." You can see from those comments how divided you guys were over that subject.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Well, you don't need an eagle eye to see today's Before We Go segment. You just need an eagle eye to star in it! You're watching the debut of some new eaglets. And you're not alone. This USTREAM clip has been watched more than 11 million times! We guess whoever hatched up the idea to record it knew what he was doing. Sure, adult eagles are majestic. But when they're young, that's when they develop their personalities.
AZUZ: Because after all, it's when they first start coming out of their shells. Man, there's no talon what kind of puns we're gonna come up with tomorrow. So you'll just have to tune in to find out for sure. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.