(CNN Student News) -- April 28, 2011
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: I'm Carl Azuz, and in today's show, we're talking about the U.S. economy, education, defense -- could be a presidential Cabinet meeting. And we're gonna be talking about the cabinet, too. CNN Student News starts right now!
AZUZ: First up, violence in Afghanistan, where a gunfight broke out at an air force compound in Kabul. Eight U.S. service members and an American contractor were killed in the shooting Wednesday. Coalition officials said an Afghan military pilot started the gunfight. The Taliban said it's responsible for yesterday's shooting. The Taliban is the group that the U.S.-led coalition removed from power when the Afghanistan war started in 2001. A Taliban spokesman said the group had worked with the shooter. But coalition authorities -- and the shooter's brother -- denied that. The shooting happened at the North Kabul International Airport. Officials say it started as an argument between the Afghan pilot and an international colleague. That argument led to the gunfight.
Defense Dept. Shift
AZUZ: Some changes getting ready to happen inside President Obama's administration. In fact, it's going to be one of the biggest shifts since Obama took office. And it starts with this man: Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Secretary Gates has been leading the Defense Department since George W. Bush was president. He stayed on at President Obama's request, but he's planning to retire later this year. And this is who President Obama wants to replace Secretary Gates: name is Leon Panetta. He's currently the director of the CIA. He also served as former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff. President Obama plans to nominate Director Panetta to be the new defense secretary. The U.S. Senate has to confirm him for that position.
Obama Birth Certificate
AZUZ: That wasn't the only announcement at the White House yesterday. President Obama publicly showed off his birth certificate, which says that he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Okay. Why? Well, there are two requirements to be U.S. president. You have to be at least 35 years old, and you have to be a "natural born" citizen. Some people had doubts that President Obama was born in the U.S. They wanted to see this: his long-form birth certificate. Because without that proof, their argument was that he might be constitutionally ineligible to be president. This issue's gotten a lot of attention in the media recently. The White House released the birth certificate yesterday to try to put an end to the questions.
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Ms. Cormican's enrichment class at Clinton Township Middle School in Clinton, New Jersey! What is the term for financial aid that companies get from the government? Here we go! Is it: A) Subsidy, B) Commodity, C) Liability or D) Security. You've got three seconds -- GO! Financial aid given out by the government is called a subsidy. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: Subsidies are usually designed to help companies or industries that produce things for the public. For example, farmers might get money from the government to grow crops. This next report from Lisa Sylvester is about subsidies for the oil industry. With gas prices increasing, so are the questions about whether those subsidies should continue.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The oil and gas industry rakes in billions of dollars in profits a year. Last year, Exxon Mobil made more than $30 billion; Chevron, $19 billion; ConocoPhillips, more than $11 billion; and Royal Dutch/Shell, $20 billion. Meanwhile, it's costing consumers a load of money just to fill up their tank.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no reason for the price to continue to go up, because there's lots of gas. I mean, lots of oil, I hear.
SYLVESTER: Average price for regular gasoline is $3.87 a gallon. But in cities like Washington, D.C., gas at some stations is already at the $5 mark or higher. Those prices are expected to contribute to huge first-quarter profits for oil companies. On top of the mega-profits, the oil industry enjoys $4 billion in federal tax breaks. There's now a growing chorus to end those subsidies.
FADEL GHEIT, FINANCIAL ANALYST, OPPENHEIMER AND COMPANY: The oil companies do not need subsidies, especially when you have $100 oil. It's outrageous for an oil company or oil lobbyist to ask for a subsidy when you have this high level of profitability.
SYLVESTER: The American Petroleum Institute represents the largest oil companies. API's senior economic adviser, Rayola Dougher, says when profits are up, it's the shareholders who benefit. She says they are, for the most part, regular joes.
RAYOLA DOUGHER, ECONOMIC ADVISER, AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE: And at the end of the day, the final earnings, the profits to these companies, broadly go to tens of millions of Americans. Anybody with a 401(k), a pension plan, retired firefighters, teachers. These are the folks that, at the end of the day, benefit from these earnings. About 98.5 percent of the stock of these companies is broadly owned by the American people.
SYLVESTER: The American Petroleum Institute says taking away those subsidies would be like a tax on the companies and could cost American jobs. But it is a hard case to make when so many Americans out there are getting squeezed at the gas pump, when we are seeing $5 a gallon for gasoline, and when the companies are making billions in profits. Lisa Sylvester, CNN, Washington.
AZUZ: This next headline is one you've heard a lot lately, and not one we like reporting: the southern U.S. recovering from another round of severe weather that plowed through the region yesterday. At least 12 deaths were reported. Hundreds of thousands of people lost power. This is what some Arkansas residents woke up to Wednesday morning: damaged buildings, downed trees, no power. That's from another storm system that moved through the South Tuesday night. And this severe weather may not be over. The National Weather Service issued tornado watches for parts of the South yesterday, as the storms worked their way east. In fact, there were 25 tornado warnings across parts of Alabama last night. And officials said a tornado hit the city of Cullman. These images you're seeing are some of the damage that was caused.
Show Your Teacher Appreciation
AZUZ: We've been asking you to head to CNNStudentNews.com and send us your iReports for Teacher Appreciation Week. Keep at it, don't give up; Teacher Appreciation Week is next week. There's just something we want you to remember: You need to be at least 13 to send us an iReport. Also, you can show your teacher appreciation on our blog! I just put the post up last night, and you know where to find it: CNNStudentNews.com!
AZUZ: CNN's "In America" series explores different aspects of U.S. society. The newest documentary we worked on focuses on something you are all very familiar with: education. I had the chance to sit down recently with CNN's Soledad O'Brien. She's the correspondent for the "In America" programs, and we talked about what this new program is all about.
AZUZ: Soledad O'Brien, you've worked on CNN's "In America" series. We've seen "Black in America," "Latino in America." Your latest report is titled "Don't Fail Me." What's the story behind that title?
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is an "Education in America" series. "Don't Fail Me" is the story of three students who represent different geographical and also socio-economical areas in the United States. And what we wanted to look at in that particular title was really the position students, American students, are in today.
You know, American students rank 17th and 25 in math and science, respectively, in this country, when you look at all industrialized nations. Those are terrible, terrible, terrible statistics. And so, the question was: How do you change that? How do you move the United States back up to number one, where we used to be several decades ago?
The question is really these three students, who are great students, ambitious students, motivated students. Who, their plea is very much "don't fail me." Sometimes teachers fail students, sometimes systems fail students, sometimes students fail themselves; they're not ambitious. In this particular case, we're looking at the entire educational system. Is it failing these young people?
AZUZ: Those of you who participated in FIRST Robotics will wanna check this out too; that's part of this program. You are not going to want to miss it. "Don't Fail Me" airs on May 15th -- that's a Sunday night -- at 8 p.m. ET on CNN. And if you want to check out my full interview with Soledad O'Brien, learn what else she has to say about the upcoming documentary, you can check that out on our home page: CNNStudentNews.com.
Before We Go
AZUZ: All right, before we go, we've got time for a speedy lesson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take your foot off the brake and we'll go forward.
AZUZ: Move forward, all right. This ain't driver's ed. It's pace car 101. Rachel Gilbert's been a big NASCAR fan for 50 years. And since she's turning 100 years old today -- happy birthday -- her family got her an amazing gift: the chance to tool around the track in a pace car. Ms. Gilbert hasn't been behind the wheel of any car in about 16 years, but it was smooth sailing as she revved it up to about 50 miles per hour.
AZUZ: Maybe this'll be her new motor -- mode or -- method of transportation. She probably bragged that she was going more than 50, but that's just rev-isionist history. Especially since the course tracked her speed. We were gonna drive through a few more of these puns, but we gotta learn to pace ourselves. So we'll brake for now. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz. See you later.