(CNN Student News) -- November 18, 2009
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Hi, I'm Carl Azuz. This is CNN Student News.
First Up: Purple Heart
AZUZ: First up, Congress considers a new bill that would make some soldiers eligible for the Purple Heart. Representative John Carter introduced the new legislation yesterday. The Fort Hood Army Post is located in his home district in Texas, and this bill is focused on the victims of the recent shooting there. The Purple Heart, first created in 1782, is given to any U.S. service member who is wounded or killed while serving in action against an enemy or in a terrorist attack. Representative Carter says the Fort Hood victims deserve the Purple Heart because he considers the shooting to be an enemy attack.
AZUZ: China has a big role on the international scene. The country is a major part of the talks about North Korea's controversial nuclear program, and it holds one of the five permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council. Ed Henry fills us in on what happened when President Obama met with Chinese President Hu Jintao yesterday.
HENRY: In Beijing's bitter cold, President Obama was all about showcasing a new warmth with China as he toured the historic Forbidden City and its Hall of Supreme Harmony.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It's beautiful. What a magnificent place to visit.
HENRY: By the end of this week, Mr. Obama will have visited 20 nations, the most in the first year of any American president, though he told Chinese President Hu Jintao in the ornate Great Hall of the People their relationship may be most pivotal of all.
OBAMA: In this young century, the jobs we do, the prosperity we build, the environment we protect, the security that we seek, all these things are shared.
HENRY: It was not, however, all sweetness and light. While Mr. Obama avoided a meeting with the Dalai Lama in Washington last month to not ruffle feathers before this visit, here in Beijing, he gently but publicly pushed the Chinese to cool tensions with the Tibetan spiritual leader.
OBAMA: While we recognize that Tibet is part of the People's Republic of China, the United States supports the early resumption of dialogue between the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve any concerns and differences that the two sides may have.
HENRY: And while they spoke of broad economic cooperation, Hu slapped at the U.S. for recently hitting Chinese tires and steel with new levies.
PRESIDENT HU JINTAO, CHINA [TRANSLATED]: Our two countries need to oppose and reject protectionism and all its manifestations in an even stronger stand.
HENRY: But the world's two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases vowed to work together to get concrete action on climate change at a summit next month in Copenhagen.
OBAMA: An accord that covers all of the issues in the negotiations and one that has immediate operational affect. This kind of comprehensive agreement would be an important step forward in the effort to rally the world around a solution to our climate challenge.
HENRY: But the Chinese president stopped far short of endorsing tough new sanctions against Iran, though both sides are pledging cooperation to stop North Korea's nuclear program just a couple of days before Mr. Obama visits South Korea, the final stop on this long Asian journey. Ed Henry, CNN, Beijing.
AZUZ: All right, Mr. Henry there mentioned Iran's nuclear program. That includes a facility that was made public just recently. A new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency says the fact Iran kept the facility a secret brings up some serious questions. For example, are there other facilities Iran hasn't made public? Under a previous agreement, the country is required to tell the energy agency about them. Iran says its nuclear program only has peaceful purposes; other countries believe Iran may be trying to build a nuclear weapon. That is why the U.S. is concerned about the program and why it is making this: a massive ordinance penetrator. This is a 30,000-pound bomb that could blast through 60 feet of concrete and potentially damage underground weapons factories. The military says it's building the bomb; it doesn't have any immediate plans to use it.
MICHELLE WRIGHT, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! What is the name of the student-led demonstration that took place in Prague in November 1989? If you think you know it, shout it out! Was it the: A) Cultural Revolution, B) Boxer Rebellion, C) Velvet Revolution or D) Industrial Revolution? You've got three seconds -- GO! The Velvet Revolution took place about a week after the fall of the Berlin Wall. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: Thousands of marchers went out in Prague yesterday, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the peaceful uprising. It looked something like it did in 1989, when citizens of Czechoslovakia demonstrated against the country's communist government and eventually helped to bring it to an end. Czechoslovakia would later split into two countries: the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Musicians and other artists played major roles in the Velvet Revolution, and yesterday's rallies in Prague wrapped up with a massive concert.
AZUZ: How do you feel about the government's decision to try five suspected 9/11 terrorists in a New York civilian court instead of a military tribunal? Monday's show at CNNStudentNews.com has a refresher if you need it. Sara believes the suspects should be tried in a military court. "They are not U.S. citizens and should not be entitled to the same privileges. They would still be given a fair trial," she says. "The wounds from 9/11 run deep," Kreven says, "and by bringing these suspects back to New York, it would re-open some of these harsh wounds." From Nicole: "Bringing them to America shows that we are giving them a fair trial... it's important to give them the same justice that's given to everyone." And Billy doesn't think it matters where they're tried, just as long as they get tried. He thinks they should've gone to trial years ago. The government's decision, not a popular one: In a recent CNN poll, 64 percent said that confessed 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- one of the suspects -- should be tried in a military tribunal, not a civilian court.
AZUZ: NASA isn't going anywhere, but its space shuttle program is about to be a thing of the past. It's scheduled to end next year. The future of space travel will include private companies that could take you on a trip out of this world. One business has already sold 200 tickets for $200,000 a each! Don't know where you're going to get that, but Bill Tucker takes us to New Mexico for a look at what could be America's launch pad.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Out here in the vast desert of southern New Mexico is where America's space program was born with pioneers like Joe Kitinger and Robert Goddard. And it is here that some believe it is being reborn. New Mexico is investing almost $300 million in a project known as Spaceport America, an airport for commercial space exploration.
STEVE LANDEENE, EXEC. DIRECTOR, SPACEPORT AMERICA: It's about being visionary, and I think of the state of New Mexico back from the early days of Goddard, Von Braun, Kitinger, space has always been in the mainstream of what New Mexico is all about. And this is just one more step.
TUCKER: Virgin Galactic will use Spaceport America to launch its space tourism business, offering wealthy clients rides into spaces, carried aloft by the White Knight II. Virgin Galactic is the largest private partner in this futuristic and futuristic-looking venture in the desert, committing more than $200 million in technological development. The project broke ground in June; construction contracts have been awarded. Over the next year and a half, the state expects construction will provide between 400 and 600 jobs in the middle of nowhere.
In this field where there is nothing but grassland, cactus and mesquite bushes, a year from now there will be a runway, 10,000 feet by 200 feet, with the spaceport hangar located just over there. Virgin Galactic is attention-getting, the headline grabbing stuff. But space tourist rides are still a couple of years away. Small entrepreneurial companies are already busy changing the face of space exploration.
JERRY LARSON, UP AEROSPACE: I think any time you get entrepreneurs getting into the space business or any business, actually, you'll see some real innovation, because entrepreneurs and companies have to make money with it. So, that's what's exciting about this. You start to see small companies like mine that are actually in this business for money.
TUCKER: His company is Up Aerospace, providing low-cost launch facilities at the spaceport to clients like Moog FTS, a company involved in space research and manufacturing. His launch costs are one-tenth of those of a standard facility, and there's a fast turnaround time between launches. Which means engineers like Ray Nielson can get away from their desk and on to the launch pad.
RAY NIELSEN, MOOG INDUSTRIES: That's huge. So, if you can do ten of these vehicles for what it costs to do one mission on a sophisticated military test range, it's an amazing simplification of your life, just to go out quickly, get the data you need, build another one and try it again.
TUCKER: Up Aerospace is just one of several small companies with big ambitions and dreams. Lockheed Martin is one of the not-so-small names at Spaceport America. Bill Tucker, Spaceport America, New Mexico.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Okay, before we go, anyone pondering whether cardboard can float, here's your answer. All it takes is sealing up the cardboard with 16 rolls of duct tape. Then yar, she be a fine' sea-goin' vessel. This is actually a part of a science class at a school in Connecticut where students race their boats across the school pond. The "Titanium Rubber Duck" came in first place. But the paddlers didn't celebrate too quickly.
AZUZ: 'Cause after all, they didn't want to go overboard in their excitement. Man. CNN Student News sets sail again tomorrow. See you then.