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CNN Student News Transcript: May 13, 2008

  • Story Highlights
  • Hear survivors describe a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in China
  • Discover where some of the strongest, recent quakes have occurred
  • Examine the history of the sticky subject of U.S. postage stamps
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(CNN Student News) -- May 13, 2008

Quick Guide

Powerful Quake in China - Hear survivors describe a 7.9-magnitude earthquake in China.

Worst Earthquakes - Discover where some of the strongest, recent quakes have occurred.

42 Stamps - Examine the history of the sticky subject of U.S. postage stamps.



MONICA LLOYD, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Monica Lloyd, and you've found your way to the start of a new day of CNN Student News. Thanks for spending part of your Tuesday with us.

First Up: Powerful Quake in China

LLOYD: First up, Chinese President Hu Jintao has ordered an all-out effort to help the victims of a massive earthquake. Government officials say around 10,000 people were killed by the 7.9-magnitude quake. It struck Monday afternoon, local time, in the Sichuan province. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao traveled to the region to direct the rescue work, but the destruction is so extensive that rescuers are running into difficulty trying to get supplies to some of the worst-affected areas. Roads are damaged, buildings are destroyed, and according to local reports, at least six schools collapsed to some extent, trapping almost 900 students, mostly 8th and 9th graders, in the rubble. Now, China is just a little smaller than the U.S., and as we said, the source of this earthquake was in the Sichuan province. But just to get an idea of how powerful this was, tremors shook the ground 950 miles away in Beijing. It was even felt as far away as Vietnam and Thailand! John Vause was in Beijing when the quake hit.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN REPORTER: This was the moment when China shook. "Our building is still moving. This is real, absolutely real," says this man in the city of Chengdu, about 60 miles from the epicenter. Outside, streets were crowded with the dazed and frightened. "I was so scared," says this woman. "The room I was staying in was shaking like this."

VAUSE: Hospitals were evacuated. There was some damage and minor injuries in the area.

PERSON ON THE STREET: I said to my mum, "Let's get out of here." I then put on a pair of slippers and ran from the hotel.

VAUSE: The first major quake was felt mid-afternoon, and according to the U.S. Geological Survey, was followed by other powerful tremors. "The magnitude was big, and the area impacted was vast as well," says this government official. The tremors were felt across more than a dozen provinces, most of the country and beyond; all the way to Shanghai in the south, to Beijing in the north. In fact, here in Beijing about 900 miles from the epicenter, we felt the tremor. But at the time, it wasn't clear what was happening. The building began to sway, so I came out here to this balcony. And for about two minutes, there was no noise, just a rolling motion. Elsewhere in the capital, thousands fled buildings; others were ordered to leave.

PERSON ON THE STREET: The building started shaking quite a lot, so we just left. But there was no damage that we could see.

VAUSE: But across the country, state media report the number of dead and injured is starting to rise. Thousands of troops have been ordered in to help survivors, as China confronts the full extent of this natural disaster. John Vause, CNN, Beijing.



LLOYD: As new information comes in on the damage caused by this deadly natural disaster, you can go to our Web site,, to get the latest updates.

Worst Earthquakes

LLOYD: One expert tells CNN that Monday's quake in China is the largest one that this region has seen "for more than a generation." But it's not the first time this type of destructive natural disaster has hit the Asian country. Paula Hancocks looks back at some of the strongest and most destructive earthquakes in recent history.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN REPORTER: The deadliest earthquake of the past century was in China. Tanghshan, in the northeast of the country, was hit by a 7.5-magnitude quake in 1976. It killed more than a quarter of a million people and flattened the city. The U.S. Geological Survey says unofficial estimates of the death toll were up to three times higher. Just four years ago, a massive 9.1-magnitude earthquake under the sea off the Indonesian island of Sumatra triggered the deadly Boxing Day tsunami. More than 220,000 people in fourteen different countries were killed; around 1.7 million more displaced. Many of the devastated areas are still in the process of being rebuilt.

A year later, 2005, northern Pakistan suffered a 7.6-magnitude earthquake. Rescue efforts were hugely complicated by the mountainous terrain; landslides and rockfalls cut off access to parts of Kashmir for days. At least 86,000 are thought to have perished. Iran has suffered a number of earthquakes over the past century. The most catastrophic in 1990 in the western part of the country killed up to 50,000. More recently, in 2003, a lesser earthquake in the southeastern town of Bam killed 31,000. The U.S. Geological Survey says this was believed to be the biggest earthquake in the area for some 2,000 years. Paula Hancocks, CNN, London.


Fast Facts

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for some Fast Facts! Earthquakes happen when two blocks of the earth slip past one another, releasing energy through the earth's crust. An earthquake's magnitude measures how much energy is released at the source of the quake. The epicenter is the location on the surface of the earth directly above where the earthquake starts. Many quakes are followed by aftershocks, smaller tremors that occur in the same place as the main earthquake.


LLOYD: To help your class understand more about earthquakes, check out our Learning Activity at It challenges students to investigate why and where quakes happen, and look for patterns to examine if these tremors can be predicted.


AZUZ: Time for the Shoutout! Who was the first U.S. postmaster general? If you think you know it, shout out it! Was it: A) Ben Franklin, B) Alexander Hamilton, C) Thomas Jefferson or D) Aaron Burr? You've got three seconds -- GO! All of these Founding Fathers held government positions, but Ben Franklin was the first head of the post office. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

42 Stamps

LLOYD: When Ben Franklin was in charge, the post office's main job was delivering letters between Congress and the army. One postmaster actually brought mail to revolutionary soldiers on foot because he couldn't afford a horse. Transportation isn't a problem these days for the postal service, but money still is. That's part of the reason why, starting this week, it costs you a penny more to send stuff through the mail. With the price of a first-class stamp going up to 42 cents, Carl Azuz looks at the history of this sticky subject.


CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Business ain't booming at the U.S. Postal Service. It just posted a $700 million loss. Thanks in part to e-mail, snail mail volume is down. Thanks in part to gas prices, delivery costs are up. And so's the stamp, by one penny.

That's a far cry from the first stamp, which featured a picture of this Founding Father. In 1847, Ben Franklin's face traveled all over the country for five cents a pop. Some folks thought that was too expensive, so in 1851, the price was dropped to three cents!

About the only thing lower than the price: the speed at which letters traveled. It took about a month for mail to get across the country. And even after the Pony Express rode onto the scene in 1860, you were looking at ten days' travel time, with letter carriers facing lots of risks, like death. But the stamp system was well-affixed, and so were the faces on it.

Some guy named George Washington has been pictured more times on U.S. stamps than anyone! They've featured everything from Star Trek to Secretariat, Frankenstein to Frank Sinatra, who's on the new 42-cent stamp. When the Hoboken crooner was born in 1915, a first-class sticker cost three cents; when he died in 1998, we were paying 32 cents. And now, his postal portrait is priced at 42 cents. But if you think that's too much, compare how long it takes to deliver a letter today to what it used to be; you'll see that at least in one sense, you get what you pay for. Carl Azuz, CNN Student News.


Blog Promo

LLOYD: Now, collecting stamps is a popular hobby, but when's the last time you used one to mail something? After all, you can pay your bills, write letters to your friends, even send birthday cards online. So, what kind of impact will this price increase really have? Go to our blog at and tell us what you think.

Barr Enters Race

LLOYD: The race for the White House is getting a little more crowded. That's because former Representative Bob Barr has announced his candidacy. Barr served Georgia's 7th district in Congress as a Republican, but he left the party in 2006. He's seeking the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination, and he says he's running to give voters a choice beyond the two major political parties.

Talking Democracy

LLOYD: Speaking of the election, we asked, you answered! Some more classes are Talking Democracy with us this year. We got an awesome iReport from Mrs. Hillenbrand's classes in Evansville, Indiana, showing us their mock presidential primary and surveying some students on issues like gas prices and the war in Iraq. Check it out in the Spotlight on our Web site. And while you're there, get those cameras rolling. With your parents' permission, send us an iReport on this month's Talking Democracy topic: political polling! You might see yourself on CNN Student News!



LLOYD: That's where we call cut for today. But we'll be back in action again tomorrow. Have a great day. I'm Monica Lloyd.

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