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Fighting Between Israelis, Palestinians Intensifies; President Obama Set to Visit Myanmar; The End of the Twinkie?

Aired November 18, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET


NATISHA LANCE, CNN ANCHOR: It is Monday, and that means it`s a new week of CNN STUDENT NEWS. Hi there, everyone. I`m Natisha Lance, in for Carl today. And we`re taking you from the Middle East to Southeast Asia, so let`s get going.

First up today, we`re looking at the increased fighting between the Israelis and Palestinians. Representatives from other countries are trying to work out a cease-fire to stop the violence, but until that happens, millions of people from both sides are in harm`s ways. The attacks are mostly made up of two things -- that`s Israeli air strikes and Palestinian rockets. And those rockets, like the ones that are being launched right here, those are fired at Israel from Gaza. That`s a Palestinian-controlled territory. Israel says the air strikes it launched at Gaza are aimed at terrorist targets, including leaders of Hamas. That`s an organization that runs the Palestinian government in Gaza, and it`s been labeled as a terrorist group by the U.S. government.

The U.S. and some European nations say Hamas should get most of the blame for the current crisis, but most Arab and Muslim nations, though, have accused Israel of being the aggressor, or the one who attacked first. Tom Foreman breaks down some of the comparisons between the two sides in this conflict.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let`s look at how the battlefield is shaping up over in the Middle East. Here is Israel alongside the Mediterranean. It`s about the size of New Jersey. 7.5 million people, 75 percent Jewish. The economy is good, unemployment below 7 percent. Gaza by comparison geographically very small, only about twice as big as Washington, D.C., predominately Palestinian. The economy there is quite bad and unemployment is very high. has called Israel the tenth most powerful military in the world, so let`s break that down and see why. They have compulsory military service, that means every young person must go into the military for a while. 176,000 active troops are available and they have about half a million that they can call up from the reserves very quickly. Ground forces, also impressive. Some 3,000 tanks. If you count all the artillery pieces and mortars, things like that, you get up to about 12,000 units that can operate on the ground. And of course, their air force is formidable. About 800 aircraft out there, including some 200 helicopters. This is largely what they`ve used to have these strikes within Gaza.

Now, if you look at Hamas, their forces are much smaller in terms of their official forces, certainly, if you look at people who are really in uniform, soldiers, police, whatever you want to call it -- about 12,500 -- and of course they have nothing like the weapons that the Israelis have. However, Palestinian militants do have lots and lots of rockets, and I want to bring in a model of one of them here. This is a Kassam 2, you probably heard this a good bit. These rockets are popular because they are cheap, they`re easy to make out of steel tubes. They only weigh 70 to 100 pounds, and they are fueled essentially by commercial-grade fertilizer, and they can pack quite a punch. They`re not very accurate, but if you fire enough of them, they don`t have to be accurate.

If you go beyond this to some of their more robust and better targeted rockets and missiles, then you also start talking about range. In this conflict so far, we have reports of weapons fired from Gaza traveling as much as 50 miles to hit Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. In fact, Israeli officials now believe as much as a fifth of population of Israel is subject to these rocket attacks. That`s something they say they simply will not tolerate anymore, and that`s why we keep hearing all this talk and speculation about a possible ground invasion of Gaza.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just the facts. Myanmar is a country in Southeast Asia. It used to be known as Burma. The nation got its independence from Great Britain in 1948. Starting in 1962, Myanmar was ruled by a military junta, a small group that held all the power. Nearly 50 years later, in 2011, Myanmar established a civilian government.

LANCE: President Obama says the shift in Myanmar toward a democratic government is a good step. He also says the country has a long way to go, and he`s planning to deliver that message in person this week when he becomes the first U.S. president to visit the nation. Myanmar is one of three countries that the president is visiting on a trip to Southeast Asia. He will end up in Cambodia for the East Asia summit, but his first stop was in Thailand. President Obama took part in an official welcoming ceremony with the country`s prime minister. Later in the day, he was the guest at an official dinner. The U.S. and Thailand have a relationship that goes back nearly 200 years. The president brought that up during his visit, calling Thailand America`s oldest friend in Asia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can ID me. I am a microscopic agent that can cause infections. I was first identified in the late 1800s. I can spread in animals or plants, but only inside their living cells. My name comes from a Latin word that means slime or poison. I`m a virus, and different types of me cause colds and the flu.

LANCE: And those viruses are pretty common around this time of year, and that`s because from October through May, it`s cold and flu season. So instead of just running through some facts and advice, we thought that we`d have a little bit of fun with this. So get ready to shout out some answers to our flu and cold quiz.

First, true or false? You get colds from being cold. False. We covered this one in the ID me. Colds and flu are caused by viruses. They pop up more during the winter because people stay inside more, and so that means germs spread more easily.

Next, true or false? You need to come in direct contact with someone to catch the flu from them. That one is false too. You can be six to 10 feet away from someone who`s sick and still catch their cold or flu.

True of false? One of the best ways to avoid getting sick is to wash your hands regularly. That one is totally true. Experts say washing with soap and water will keep germs from spreading.

True or false? If you get a flu shot, you are guaranteed not to catch the flu that year. Oh, that one is false. Flu shots are not 100 percent effective, but getting one will significantly cut down your chances of getting sick, and experts say if you do get sick, the symptoms probably won`t be as bad.

OK, and the last one, true of false? If you catch the flu, the best treatment is to get plenty of rest. That one is true. Doctors may recommend medication sometimes, but for the most part, the best way to treat the flu is with lots of rest and lots of fluids.

S if you go out to the store this weekend and you see a Twinkie on the shelves, you might want to remember what it looks like, because there is a chance you won`t see it again any time soon. The company that makes them, and that`s Hostess, is shutting down. It announced the decision last Friday. Closing up shop means more than 18,000 employees will lose their jobs. A lot of those bakers have been on strike. They were protesting against a new contract that would cut their pay and benefits. Hostess says it cannot afford to stay open through the extended strike.

With the company closing, the future of the food it makes is up in the air. Alison Kosik looks at one of those items, evolved from a snack into a part of American culture.


ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Following a nasty labor dispute and almost a year in bankruptcy, Hostess Brands is closing its 33 bakeries, more than 500 distribution centers, and selling off its assets, putting the future of the 82-year-old Twinkie in question. It`s been a long road for the cream-filled pastry, now part of the American lexicon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s Twinkie the kid!


KOSIK: The Twinkie was born in 1930 in Illinois. Inventor James Dewar was looking for a way to use the Continental Baking Company`s seasonal strawberry shortcake pans year round. He came up with a yellow sponge cake filled with banana cream, but during World War II, banana rationing forced the company to change to vanilla cream filling. The replacement was so popular, it never changed back. Over the years, the Twinkie became a part of American popular culture. In the 1950s the Howdy Doody show host Buffalo Bob gave it an endorsement.

BUFFALO BOB: Presto, and what do we have? Hostess Twinkies.


KOSIK: In the 1990s there was a presidential endorsement as President Bill Clinton included a Twinkie in a millennium time capsule. And in the Youtube age, we`ve seen the Twinkie put to the test for shelf life, toughness and microwave ability.

KOSIK: But now the Twinkie needs someone to come to its rescue or we`ll have to say good-bye to the Twinkie for good.

Alison Kosik, CNN, New York.


LANCE: Before we go, we`re going to look at a really unique bike, and this thing is so cool. So you`ve seen a two-wheeler, probably had a three- wheeler when you were growing up, but this Georgia teenager came up with a 2 by 4 wheeler. It`s a bike built entirely out of wood, and it might not be good for all cyclists, but it could appeal to a splinter group. They might really pine for it. This is the kind of thing you have to cedar to believe, but even then you might want to take it out for a spin. But we`re guessing that if you could, you would. So the big question, why did he pick this material for his bike? And the answer, he was board. Sometimes the puns just really write themselves here, you guys. But we`ll be back with more of them tomorrow too, so for CNN STUDENT NEWS, I`m Natisha Lance. Have a good one.