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STUDENT NEWS

Civil War in Syria; New Concerns Over the Fukushima Nuclear Plant; Climate Change

Aired August 22, 2013 - 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 Thursday, August 22nd. And today`s edition of CNN STUDENT NEWS begins in Syria. A civil war has been ranging there for nearly two and a half years. This is President Bashar al-Assad. He`s been Syria`s president since 2000. His family has been in power since 1970. In 2011, protesters started calling for a change. The Syrian government responded with force, and eventually rebel forces started fighting back. The United Nations estimates that more than 100,000 Syrians have been killed in the war. Each side has accused the other of using chemical weapons. Rebels are making new claims this week about the Syrian government using these weapons. Syrian officials deny that. A group from the United Nations is in Syria right now trying to determine if either side is using chemical weapons. U.N. officials say if they are being used, it would be a violation of international law.

From the Middle East we moved to Japan, with their new concerns surrounding the Fukushima nuclear power plant. It`s the site of one of the world`s worst nuclear disasters. Yesterday, the Japanese government was getting ready to classify a toxic water leak at Fukushima as a serious incident. The plant`s owner, TEPCO has been trying to manage contaminated water at Fukushima since 2011. That`s when a massive earthquake struck off the coast of Japan. It triggered a tsunami, a giant ocean wave that hit Fukushima. Three reactors went into meltdown. Regarding the current concerns, TEPCO says it`s moved radioactive water from a leaky tank to a better one. The nuclear engineer described this leak as extremely radioactive water. He said it could pose a significant health risk to workers trying to clean it up. But TEPCO says, the workers have protective clothing that will prevent exposure to radiation.

From the Golden State to the Gulf Coast with a volunteer stop in between. It`s time for today`s roll call. We`re going to bust it right out with the Bruins from Riverbank High in Riverbank, California. Then we`re jumping over to Germantown, Tennessee, home of the Owls from Our Lady of Perpetual Help. And Florida makes today`s roll call with the Wolf Pack from South Fort Myers High. Go Pack!

Next up today, the issue of climate change - global temperatures indicate that Earth has been getting warmer in recent decades. But there`s been debate about what`s causing the increase. A new report says many scientists are more certain than ever that the culprit is human activity. Tom Foreman examines the potential effects.

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TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know about climate change, the idea that basically greenhouses gases are trapping heat from outside, and you`re correct, they are now well over 90 percent saying that human activity is responsible for the preponderance of this, important to know, they`re saying there are other factors, but the preponderance3 of it is coming as a result of humans doing this. So, what is making - what is the result of all this? Rising oceans.

Why? Because we have warmer oceans, and those warmer oceans are causing melting ice caps, and beyond that, melting of glaciers and other large ice areas in the world, for example, Greenland. And I want you to watch this amazing piece of animation from NASA here. Tracking over the past few years what`s been happening to ice up in Greenland. You see all these light blue areas around the edge there - that`s where the ice has been steadily melting and retreating, in this entire country of Greenland. And as you go on through the years, this is about to 2005 here, as it moves forwards, you start seeing even the middle of the country here as it starts warming up, and they are losing even more and more ice. By the time you get through this entire animation, what you see is that NASA has captured how basically this entire area has seen significant loss in ice, all of which goes out into the oceans and that`s the real key here to concern about what`s that`s going to add up to in the long run.

We move on beyond this, if you look at Miami down here. This is where Miami is right now. Everglades National Park , it`s a little bit hard to see, but I want you to watch - as this progresses, what they are predicting is that over the next 80 or 90 years, if nothing changes, what you would see is a real encroachment. Areas like this down here, where you have the Florida Keys, they would basically go completely under water and a lot of areas would also be affected by much, much higher water levels. And even if you go to major cities, like New York City, for example - look at this. This is the island of Manhattan right here. Right now this is the edge of it, and you can see, that`s where the new edge would be. All of this out in here would be lost. What would that include - well, the simple truth is if you had it lost all the way out there, you would see things like Wall Street essentially starting to go under water, you would see the Statue of Liberty, the island that supports it out here starting to go under water. Does that mean it will happen? No, we have a lot of time, in which people could build levees and that sort of thing to keep it back, but it does mean it would become a genuine problem if this goes on unabated, and that`s what this whole debate is about, and now there`s an even greater agreement among all these climate scientists from around the world that, in fact, humans are making some of this happen, and only humans can stop it from happening worse.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See, if you can I.D. me. I was born in New York in 1984. I attended Harvard University, but didn`t graduate. In 2008, I was named the youngest self-made billionaire. Part of my life was a focus of an award-winning movie. I`m Mark Zuckerberg. One of the founders of Facebook.

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AZUZ: Mark Zuckerberg wants the entire world to have online access, not just to Facebook, to the whole Internet. He says, it`s a human right. Chris Cuomo talked with Zuckerberg about how he plans to make this virtual idea a new reality.

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CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When you visit the Facebook campus, you get the sense that anything is possible.

MARK ZUCKERBERG, FOUNDER OF FACEBOOK: We want the campus to feel like a little - a little city or village.

CUOMO: And now, Zuckerberg wants to make the entire world like the Facebook campus in a way by providing Internet access to the entire world. The idea is called Internet.org. It`s target - the 5 billion people around the globe without access to the net.

ZUCKERBERG: I mean here, we use things like Facebook to share news and I`m catching up with our friends, but there - they`re going to use it to decide what kind of government they want, get access to health care for the first time ever, connect with family hundreds of miles away that they haven`t seen in decades. Getting access to the Internet is a really big deal. I think we`re going to be able to do it.

CUOMO: And the world "we" is the key word here. Because this isn`t just about Facebook. Zuckerberg has done something extraordinary to achieve the extraordinary: reached out to the biggest players in social media and mobile data, a.k.a. his competitors, in part, to work together.

(on camera): How did those calls go?

ZUCKERBERG: That part varies.

But, I mean, in general - these are companies that we have deep relationships with, and have worked with on a lot of things for a long time, so this just kind of came out of all of the discussion that we had.

CUOMO (voice over): So, a team of the best in the business is coming together, but for a test this size, uniting five times the global presence Facebook has already, it`s going to take a lot more.

(on camera): What about the how - how do you do this? And how developed is the plan?

ZUCKERBERG: You know, we have a plan, a rough plan for what we think we`re going to need to do to pull it off, and, of course, the plan will evolve over time, and we`ll get better ideas, but, you know, if you look at the trends, I mean data is becoming more available to people, right? Apps are getting more efficient to run. There are new business models to help more people get online.

CUOMO: It`s also good for Facebook and these other companies, right, because mobile access to the Internet is where your business lies, right?

ZUCKERBERG: You know, if we were just focused on - on making money, the first billion people that we`ve connected have way more money than the rest of the next 6 billion combined. It`s not fair, but - but it`s the way that it is. And we just believe that everyone deserves to be connected and on the Internet.

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AZUZ: Today, CNN STUDENT NEWS character study focuses on a basketball player named Zach Hodskins. He`s high school senior in Georgia, his scouting reports start with phrases like excellent shooter and plays extremely hard. They don`t usually start by mentioning he was born without part of his left arm. Zach likes that scouts treat him as a player, first, and mention the disability second. Besides that, it`s not really something that`s gotten in his way: he`s already had it toward accomplishing one of his goals: the University of Florida has offered him a preferred walk-on spot for next season. That means, he`d be guaranteed the place in the basketball team, though not a full scholarship.

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ZACH HODSKINS, STUDENT ATHLETE: It means the world for me, because, you know, my whole life I worked for this opportunity and for somebody to notice me finally, it`s a great feeling.

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AZUZ: Down the road, he`d like to be a motivational speaker, he`s had a little experience with that, hearing from kids with disabilities from across the country. Zach`s advice - just keep your head up, and if you feel it in your heart - just go for it, and you`ll make it.

Protesters are usually passionate about their cause.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want?

When do you want?

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AZUZ: The general reaction from this flock seems to be ma-a-aoh. Find some fire, fellows, no need to be sheepish. It might have seemed like shear madness to organize a barnyard rally and post it on YouTube, but in the end, it didn`t turn out half bad. Wooln`t you say?

It`s time for us to hoof it, I`m Carl Azuz, have a great day.

END