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STUDENT NEWS

U.N. General Assembly Meets; What Is the Electoral College?

Aired September 25, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: It`s a college wisdom, no sports teams, no classes, and it`s only opened once every four years. It`s a riddle you are going to hear the answer to in today`s edition of CNN STUDENT NEWS.

But first, what happens when leaders from around the world get together to discuss global issues? We are going to see because it`s going on this week. It`s the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. That`s the main body of the United Nations. All 193 U.N. members are involved, and it takes place at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. During the General Assembly world leaders give speeches in this hall you see right here. President Obama is scheduled to speak to the assembly this morning. Some of the topics that will probably come up during the General Assembly include Iran`s controversial nuclear program, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Europe`s debt crisis and the civil war in Syria.

Next up, we are going to head across the United States and out, out into the Pacific Ocean. It`s where you are going to see the Hawaiian Islands and it`s also where you`ll see some debris floating around. Like this, it`s a floating dock that a couple of fishermen came across. They estimated that it`s about 30 feet by 50 feet, the fishermen alerted the Coast Guard, because they were worried about other ships running into something this big without any lights to identify it, without any warning. The dock is part of the debris that was washed out to sea after last year`s tsunami in Japan. So is this, this giant, bin, normally used to hold seafood, when it washed up in Hawaii, it was covered in mussels and barnacles. The researchers who pulled it out of the water said they expected, this is just the start of the debris from the tsunami showing up in Hawaii.

From the islands, we are going to head over the mountains in the Asian nation of Nepal. This country is home to eight of the ten tallest mountains on the planet. That includes Mount Everest. Yesterday, rescue workers called off search efforts to find the victims of an avalanche on Mount Manaslu. At that point, officials had confirmed eight deaths, another 12 people were injured, and three were still missing. The avalanche happened early Sunday morning. Experts say it was probably caused by a piece of ice, one that was the size of six or seven football fields, falling from a glacier. Officials said more than 200 climbers were on the mountain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I`m Jonathan Mann with another political jargon buster. What is the electoral college? Established by America`s Founding Fathers, it`s actually a process, not a place. It`s even in the Constitution, described as a compromise somewhere between a voting Congress and a popular vote of the people. Each state has a number of electors, based on how many members it has in Congress. So, a state with a lot of people like California has 55 electoral votes, a small state like Delaware has just three. States award their electoral votes on the basis of the popular vote. In most states, it`s winner take off. But it takes some majority 270 of the 538 total electoral votes to win the presidency. After the November election, members of the electoral college meet to cast their ballots. The results are sent onto Congress, which tallies the vote and then makes it official.

DICK CHENEY: Barack Obama of the State of Illinois, has received for President of the United States 365 votes.

By the way, the candidate who wins the popular vote, doesn`t always win the election. In the year 2000 more Americans voted for Vice President Al Gore, but George W. Bush had more electoral votes. So, he prevailed and won the presidency. You can`t win the White House without it: the electoral college.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: We are more than a month away from the U.S. presidential election, more than two months away from when the electoral college casts its votes, and before any of these ballots are filled out, a lot of Americans are wondering, where this year`s presidential candidates stand on the issues. Tom Foreman is comparing their views today on the size of the federal government.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here are three reasons why the federal government has grown bigger in the past few years. Because the economy has crashed, forcing more people to rely on government programs like unemployment and food stamps, because the baby boomers started retiring, collecting Social Security and Medicare, and maybe, because Barack Obama is president.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.

FOREMAN: From the start, Mr. Obama has clearly believed the government is a positive force, that expansion is not bad, and that it serves to control what many considered the excesses of the free market.

OBAMA: And without the leveling hand of wise policy markets can crash. Monopolies can stifle competition. The vulnerable can be exploited.

FOREMAN: He frequently cautions against on warranted government growth, yet through the economic stimulus, health care reform and the auto bailout, he has sounded like another Democratic president, Franklin Roosevelt, who in the Great Depression insisted that government must protect economic rights.

FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT: The right of every family to a decent home. The right to adequate medical care. And the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.

FOREMAN: Flash forward four decades, and here comes another president with a very different view.

RONALD REAGAN: Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.

FOREMAN: Ronald Reagan`s perspective has dominated Republican thoughts on this matter for years including Mitt Romney`s opposition to Barack Obama.

MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a very different approach, the president and I, between a government-dominated society and a society driven by free people pursuing their dreams.

FOREMAN: Romney insists the federal government should be smaller and less intrusive in terms of regulations and taxes. It should expand only when absolutely necessary and that largely it should keep out of the free market.

ROMNEY: I line up with a smaller government, a less intrusive government, regulations being paired back.

FOREMAN: Such views on both sides, of course, can make a difference, but here is the catch: for the past century with a few exceptions, the government has been expanding no matter which party has held the White House.

More cabinet positions, more agencies, more spending per a citizen, and much of that is driven by things like we mentioned at the start, population growth, economic trends and entitlements meaning the question is probably now whether the government will keep growing under Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney, but rather how fast? Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: On this day in history, back in 1789, Congress approved amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and sent them to the states to be ratified. You know this document as the Bill of Rights.

In 1957, Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, was integrated when the U.S. Army troops escorted nine black students into the old white school. The group would become known as the Little Rock Nine.

And in 1981, Sandra Day O`Connor was sworn in as the first female justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. O`Connor served nearly 25 years on the court before retiring in 2006.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today "Shoutout" goes out to Mr. Williams` Texas history classes, a Canyon Vista Middle School. Which planet was named for the Roman god of war? You know what to do? Is it Mercury, Mars, Neptune or Saturn? You`ve got three seconds, go!

Mars was a Roman God of war and that`s whom the planet was named after. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout!"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ: The red planet has been an object of curiosity for centuries, and now when object named Curiosity is there, we are talking about the rover that landed on Mars last months, this thing is basically a rolling science lab, weighs about 2000 pounds, and Curiosity`s mission is to spend about two years rolling around Mars and exploring whether life might have ever existed on the red planet. This is what curiosity will run its first experiment on. It`s a rock named Jake, that`s not after a Roman god, it`s named after a NASA engineer who worked all the Mars rover projects. Curiosity will use its arm to run tests and see what elements the rock is made out of. The rover also caught a glimpse of this, now this is a solar eclipse like we have here on Earth, but that dark spot covering part of the Sun is one of Mars`s moons, it`s called Phobos.

AZUZ: They say curiosity killed the cat, but since Curiosity is hanging out on Mars, this guy is probably safe. That is unless the other candidates start to attack him. The reason this feline schedule is so full is because he is running for mayor. Tuxedo Stan -- his name is Tuxedo Stan is not allowed on actual ballot, but he is running a campaign to improve things for cats in his home town of Halifax, Nova Scotia. He may only care about one issue, but at least he has a solid paw-sition on it. Now you might think a feline mayor could be a catastrophe, but Stan probably makes a great cat--didate. He might even keep the election close, but he`ll probably lose by a whisk.

We reached tail in the today show. See you tomorrow for more headlines.

END