(CNN Student News) -- June 2, 2011
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Hi, I'm Carl Azuz and this is CNN Student News! It's June 2nd. And in our penultimate program of the school year, we're starting things off on Wall Street.
First Up: Headlines
AZUZ: Talking about the stock market, and yesterday was not a good one. Experts use the Dow Jones Industrial Average to get an idea of how the whole market is doing. The Dow dropped 280 points yesterday. That is the worst drop since last August.
Next up today, northern Africa, where Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces are fighting against rebels in a civil war. Other countries are involved in this, too. The U.S., Britain, France: They're part of a military coalition that's being led by NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The goal of that coalition is to protect Libya's civilians during this civil war, and NATO says it's extending that mission for another 90 days. A lot of what the coalition's been doing is carrying out air strikes, like these. They're targeting Colonel Gadhafi's forces, his compounds, and trying to limit his military resources. The conflict in Libya has been going on since February. Recently, several top officials have left Gadhafi's government. That includes some generals in the Libyan army. One official who left the government yesterday said that it's in shambles.
AZUZ: Turning to the U.S. government now, where a big topic on Capitol Hill is the country's debt ceiling. That is the amount of debt that the government is allowed to have. President Obama wants the ceiling raised. Republicans in Congress say they won't do that unless the government makes some cuts in spending. In fact, on Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted against the idea of raising the debt ceiling without making spending cuts. Christine Romans is here to help us get a better picture of what's going on. Christine, let's start off with the question, what exactly is the debt ceiling?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: It's basically America's credit limit. Congress sets the cap on how much money the country can spend to pay its bills and to pay our interest payments. The debt ceiling is sort of like the credit limit on your credit card bill, only much, much bigger. And think of it this way: if you're running a $3,000 balance on a $10,000 credit limit, the U.S. government, we run right up to our credit limit over and over again. And instead of paying it off, we just raise the debt limit.
How big is this pile of debt? $14.3 trillion. More precisely, $14,293,975,000,000. This is money the government has already spent. Stacked on top of each other -- this is just to give you an illustration -- $14 trillion would reach from the Earth to the moon more than four times. Your share of this pile of debt: about $47,000 for every man, woman and child in America.
We hit our debt ceiling, the debt limit, on May 16th. How are we operating now? The treasury secretary is juggling the bills that are coming in to keep the country from defaulting. He says we can go until August 2nd. After that, the situation, he says, is critical. Secretary Geithner says not raising the debt limit so America can pay its bills would be "catastrophic." It's like being, he says, a homeowner with only enough money to pay some of the bills. You either pay the mortgage or you pay the credit card bills. Which one are you going to pick?
The government would like to pick and choose, would have to pick and choose what to pay. Geithner says some bills won't get paid. Checks to millions of Americans, like Social Security, perhaps, would have to stop. Republicans say he's wrong. The U.S. won't default so long as we keep making interest payments on our bonds. All of it, a big political debate now.
But here you go, you guys: Congress has raised the debt ceiling 74 times since 1962; 10 times just since 2001. This is the first time it's been so critical politically and turned into such a big ideological fight. For more information and complete coverage of the debt ceiling debate, you can check out more at CNNMoney.com.
AZUZ: Thank you, Christine. November 6, 2012 might sound like a ways away, but some people are working toward something that's going to happen on that day: the U.S. presidential election. Campaign season is here, and before we head off for the summer, we want to give you an idea of where things stand.
On the Democratic side, President Obama has announced that he's running for another term in office. But whom will he be running against? That will get decided through primary elections.
Those start happening once we get to 2012, and several Republicans have announced their candidacy. That includes former CEO and talk show host Herman Cain, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. Representative Ron Paul and former governors Gary Johnson and Tim Pawlenty. Another name you might know -- former governor Mitt Romney - is expected to announce his candidacy today.
Some other big names have already said they won't be running, and there's always the possibility that more candidates will join the field.
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mr. Shimasaki's social studies classes at Valley High School in Santa Ana, California. What do these signal flags mean? You know what to do. Is it: A) Diver down, B) Stop immediately, C) Hurricane warning or D) Man overboard? You've got three seconds -- GO! This double flag is the signal for a hurricane warning. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: Hurricane season is on! In the Atlantic Ocean, it lasts from June through November. That's not the only time hurricanes can form, it's just the time when they're most likely to form. Forecasters who make predictions about how many hurricanes might form say this year is likely to be an above-average season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is predicting 12 to 18 named storms. It expects six to 10 of those to become hurricanes, with three to six strengthening into major hurricanes. Last year, zero hurricanes made landfall in the U.S., but experts say it's always important to be prepared.
AZUZ: Coming in for a final landing: the space shuttle Endeavour touched down at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida early Wednesday morning. It was the shuttle's 25th and last mission. And this is the crew that did it: Endeavour's astronauts, led by shuttle commander Mark Kelly, who said it was sad to see Endeavour land for the last time. As that ship heads into retirement, this is the one that will close out NASA's space shuttle program: Atlantis, waiting on the launch pad, scheduled to go up on July 8th in the last shuttle mission.
AZUZ: In Charlotte, North Carolina, there's a restaurant that works on a kind of "pay it forward" concept. When you buy a meal there, you're also paying to help feed other people who are in need. Tom Foreman looks at the ingredients that make up this unique story.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In busy downtown Charlotte, by lunchtime folks have built up an appetite. So at the King's Kitchen Restaurant, that's when the real building begins, because Chef Jim Noble's goal every day is to help his diners help their community.
CHEF JIM NOBLE, KING'S KITCHEN: And I think everybody wants to help. They just don't know how.
FOREMAN: Noble is one of the state's most renowned chefs and deeply religious. So, he opened the King's Kitchen a year and a half ago as a non-profit restaurant. The money made here goes to programs that feed the poor throughout the community. Last year, $50,000. Mindful of recessionary pitfalls that could derail this effort, the chef started by raising enough donations to open without any loans.
NOBLE: This is not the best time in the world to get in debt in a restaurant, you know. So, we wanted to do this debt-free.
Number five. And what does that say?
FOREMAN: The restaurant also offers job training for jobless people, folks such as Philip Lewis, who joined the program less than two months ago when he heard about it at church.
PHILIP LEWIS, KING'S KITCHEN: I've got more than I've asked for here. Faith, finances, everything I needed this place has given me. It's a life-changing place. No matter where you are in your life, it will bring something positive to it that wasn't there before.
FOREMAN: Sure, this non-profit restaurant competes with Chef Noble's for-profit places, but he has faith there is room for all.
NOBLE: Sometimes in life, you have to make a distinction between success and significance.
FOREMAN: And for him, the significance lies in knowing every plate that goes out of the kitchen here means poor people are being fed all over town. Tom Foreman, CNN, Charlotte, North Carolina.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we go, when the weather's not fit for man nor beast, I guess you could send this out. It's called the Big Dog. And it's an all-terrain robot that can run, climb and carry heavy loads. It's also designed to absorb shock. The guy's not being mean; he's just showing off the Big Dog's stability. It handled the kick all right. Maybe not quite so stable on the ice. Someone could invent artificial little creatures that attack the Big Dog.
AZUZ: I guess you'd have to call them robo-ticks. But that's a tail for another day. Just one more show to go. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.