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Hostage Taking in Sydney; Search for Flight 370 Continues; Sony Getting Hacked; Space Travel Going Commercial

Aired December 16, 2014 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to CNN STUDENT NEWS. My name is Carl Azuz. We are starting today with a recap of a hostage situation that unfolded

this week in Australia. In its largest city, Sydney, a gunman entered a cafe Monday and took about 17 people hostage. Australian officials believe

he acted alone. They don`t know yet what he wanted or why he targeted the cafe. Officials say the suspect was born in Iran. He considered himself a

Muslim religious leader. He had a criminal record in Australia, and experts believe he was inspired by Middle Eastern terrorists groups.

Hours after the standoff began, several of the hostages escaped, and 16 hours into the siege, Australian Special Forces and police storm cafe from

two entrances. They killed the gunman and ended the standoff. Two of the hostages died in the siege, four others, including a police officer were


Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott called it a difficult day, but said Australians had risen to the challenge.

Staying near Australia for our second story, hundreds of miles off the country`s coast, searchers are scouring the ocean floor for the wreckage of

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. It was traveling from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, China, on March 8. Authorities believe it took a turn, and

then just vanished somewhere over the Indian Ocean. The disappearance of its 239 passengers and crew is one of the biggest stories and mysteries of



NAJIB RAZAK, PRIME MINISTER OF MALAYSIA: Like MH 370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

MARTIN DOLAN, AUSTRALIAN TRANSPORT SAFETY BUREAU: How fast it goes depends essentially on the sort of terrain we cover. And that varies from quite

flat plains or sloping areas, to ravines and fissures and crevasses which will require a much closer look.


AZUZ: From Monday`s transcript page at, it`s time for "The Roll Call." We`ll start in the capital of Virginia. That`s Richmond

and that`s the home of Northstar Academy. Good to see you.

Delaware may be one of the smallest U.S. states. We`ve got a big welcome waiting for the students of MOT Charter High School, the Mustangs are

hopping it in historic middle town. And on the West Coast, in Moreno Valley, California, hello to the Mavericks of March Middle School rounding

at our roll.

There`s never been a hack like this before. It involves the computer systems of Sony Pictures. Hackers broke in last month. They`ve been

releasing confidential information online, and they say there`s more to come. It`s stuff any corporation wants to keep secret: Social Security

numbers, movie scripts, movies that haven`t been released, salaries of executives and actors. What executives have said about actors? The attack

shut down Sony`s computer systems. At one point, employees had to work with only paper, pens and fax-machines. Who did this?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While the Sony hackers promised a Christmas gift, yet another juicy and possibly worst data dump.

Sony is asking news organizations to ignore the leaked emails. The studio now hiring David Boies, a high-profile litigator to demand that news

organizations not reveal any further hacked material.

In the letter that CNN received, Boies writes, "If you do not comply with these requests, and the stolen information is used or disseminated by you

in any manner, Sony will have no choice but to hold you responsible."

In the letter, Sony strongly suggests that they are being blackmailed, not to release the upcoming movie "The Interview" calling the attack an ongoing

campaign, explicitly seeking to prevent Sony from distributing the motion picture." It`s the first time that company has said publicly that this

comedy, there pokes fun at a plot to assassinate leader Kim Jong-un appears to be the target of this attack. Sony hasn`t accused any particular group

of being behind the attack, but security experts now point their finger at North Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Essentially, we`ve done their bidding, we`ve maximized the exposure to this content, and I don`t do that lightly, but on the other

hand, it was going to get out there anyway. We have to be part of the conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This just weeks after hackers broke into the studio`s computer systems and published millions of confidential and embarrassing



AZUZ: You know the Wright brothers got us in the power of flight. But the pioneers of balloon flight were real animals. Back in 1783, when balloons

were taking off, there were concerns about the effects of altitude on people. So, the guinea pigs, so to speak, were duck, a sheep and a

rooster. They made that flight about a months before the first people did. Now, that`s random!

All right. Flash forward a couple of hundred years. Going into space was a reality, but you needed to be an astronaut. An advanced degree in

engineering or science, or math, at least 1,000 hours piloting a jet, those were NASA`s preferences. That`s not the case at the $209 million Spaceport

America. It`s in New Mexico. It`s where commercial space travel could get off the ground.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The future of travel can take place here. Some day. This is Spaceport America in New Mexico, a place where you buy a ticket for

a future ride to space.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And lift off ....

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For decades, NASA has dominated the space industry. But over the last ten years or so, entrepreneurs like Sir Richard Branson,

Elon Musk and Amazon`s Jeff Bezos have injected billions into the field. They are

Looking to make space travel commercial.

ELON MUSK: We want to make space accessible to everyone.

RICHARD BRANSON: That - that would be the ....

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Virgin Galactic plans to shuttle customers into suborbital space for a quarter million dollars each, and they plan to do it

from a facility like this. They are not alone. Xcor Airspace, World View, also have plans to send people to space.

But the tourism industry is just one part of commercializing space. Economist who studied the field say the real moneymaker will be something

called point to point travel. Imagine, traveling by space plane from London to Singapore in an hour. Or from Los Angeles to London in a couple

of hours.

These ships once they are tested and approved, could be the concord of the 21 Century. Zipping people and packages around the globe ultrafast.

Innovating for the future travel is a huge task and will take time. Point to point is still in its infancy, and commercial space tourism has yet to

find its legs. And there are setbacks along the way. Virgin Galactic, a company considered by many to be leading the pack in commercial space

tourism, suffered a major setback during a test flight in October.

One of their space planes flying over the Mojave came apart killing one pilot and injuring another.

As it grows, the commercial space industry is having to overcome some of the same issues its predecessors like NASA faced: fire, explosions and

losses of life.

But those leading the way like Virgin`s Branson say despite the challenges and setbacks, they too are enduring. They will push ahead.

RICHARD BRANSON, VIRGIN GALACTIC: In the early days of aviation, there were incidents and then aviation became very safe. We are going to learn from

what went wrong. Discover how we can improve safety and performance, and then move forwards together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are nine spaceports in the country, and more are planned in the coming years. When commercial spaceflights take off,

they launch from places like this one. Will buildings like Spaceport America and others one day shuttle paying customers back and forth to

space? We can`t say for sure, but at one point, the idea of a race to the Moon must have seemed pretty daunting as well.


AZUZ: In a one stoplight town, this wouldn`t work, but in a heavily populated city, were you have to wait a while to cross the street, why not

turn the wait into a competition? This is the brain child of two European graduate students. The idea? While you`re waiting for a walk signal, play

around the pong or a game style like it, with the stranger also waiting across the street. It will help you pass the time while you pass the ball,

plus gamers who can`t stop gaming will think there`s some paying (ph) really cool about it. And if it`s cost-effective and keeps people say for,

what could go pong? It`s a handy way to keep our feet from crossing cross across walk till the crossing, signals signals fit can safely walk across.

CNN STUDENT NEWS steps back in tomorrow.