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STUDENT NEWS

Tensions Rise Between China and Hong Kong; The Plight of Iraq`s Christians; Dead Sea Shrinks Further

Aired November 22, 2016 - 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 STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Fridays are awesome! I`m Carl Azuz for CNN STUDENT NEWS.

Officially, Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. It`s not independent from the communist country. But under an agreement that

dates back to 1997, China promised it would not force its socialist economic system on Hong Kong, and that the region would stay highly

autonomous. Meaning, it would make its decisions on everything but international and defense issues.

There are a number of people in Hong Kong who want full independence from China. There are also those who say Hong Kong shouldn`t be separated from

China. For its part, China`s concern about a growing independence movement in Hong Kong and it`s called on officials in the region to keep the peace.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUBTITLE: Hong Kong & China: One Country, Two Systems.

IVA WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hong Kong and mainland China, one country but two very different systems. Hong Kong runs its own

finances, education, immigration policy and judiciary and people in the city enjoy basic rights like freedom of expression and freedom of the

press, rights that people in communist mainland China do not have.

Before the U.K. handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, it worked out a deal that allowed Hong Kongers many of the rights they enjoyed as British

subjects for 50 years after the hand over.

The term "one country, two systems" is the crux of Hong Kong`s de facto constitution, known as The Basic Law. It`s supposed to guarantee the city

a high degree of autonomy from China. But there`s growing concern that China is not honoring the deal.

In 2014, Hong Kong saw its largest demonstrations in decades, mass protests over how the city`s top leader is elected. Activists say the Basic Law

allows Hong Kongers the right to develop their own democracy and to hold free elections. But Beijing insists it has complete jurisdiction over Hong

Kong and must pre-approve all candidates who stand for the top posts.

There have also been protests over the erosion of press freedoms, and what activists say is Beijing`s interference in Hong Kong`s local political

matters. All proof, activists say, that Beijing is increasingly imposing itself on the city`s affairs.

The one country, two systems arrangement was supposed to be in effect for 50 years, after the British handover. But many here are worried their most

basic freedoms are already being stripped away.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: In the Middle Eastern country of Iraq, about two-thirds of the population is Shia Muslim and one-third is Sunni Muslim. The country`s

second largest region is Christianity, but at an estimated 8/10 of one percent of the population. Though Christianity came to Iraq in the first

century AD, the number of Christians there has dropped from millions in the 20th century, to a few hundred thousand today.

The U.S. has blamed the ISIS terrorist group known locally as Daesh for committing genocide, mass murder of Christians and other minority groups.

But many Christians left Iraq before ISIS came.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FATHER EMANUEL YOUKHANA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CHRISTIAN AID PROGRAM NORTHERN IRAQ: Christianity cannot die here. We are people of hope, but --

Of course, for a family who had everything and in one overnight lost everything, it`s very difficult to keep hope, keep faith.

And this is our challenge.

SUBTITLE: Christianity after ISIS?

YOUKHANA: We can estimate Iraqi Christians before 2003 around 1 million.

Targeting Christians -- it didn`t start with Daesh. Daesh is the most violent and barbaric. But it started even since 2003, we are being pushed

out.

The textile of Iraqi community was broken based on sectarian and cultural identity, so we need to bring back the people together.

To defeat Daesh militarily is not enough for our people to return back and to feel home and to build a future. The big question is, what are the

guarantees that it will not happen again?

We are concerned that Western countries, led by the States, that -- OK, Daesh is defeated, on the ground, mission is done. No. Mission will start

indeed after that. And by this mission I mean to give hope and to strengthen hope and give the guarantee for the people that they have a

future.

We don`t want church, our church to be museums. But living church. Not only for the faithful, the Christian faithful. But for all the community.

And this is our mission, to keep our hope alive.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: Staying in the Middle East. The Dead Sea is shrinking. Located between Israel and Jordan, it`s one of the saltiest bodies of water in the

world. It`s called dead because it`s so high in salt and minerals that plants and fish can`t survive in it.

An environmental group says the lake is drying up by more than three feet per year. In 2015, Israel and Jordan agreed to $900 million deal to try to

fix the problem. They`re building a canal from the Red Sea to the south, to the Dead Sea. This would allow the countries to pump water into the

shrinking lake. The project is estimated to take three years and it`s not clear yet if it will work. But it`s an example of how people are trying to

fix the problem that people caused.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GIDON BROMBERG, ECO PEACE MIDDLE EAST, ISRAEL: Well, this is the old Lido Hotel, built on the shores of the Dead Sea.

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No one was around to see the King Herod`s view, but many middle-aged Israelis remember walking through

this once swank lobby and right into the waves.

(on camera): The Dead Sea is way, way down there. My goodness. Are you serious? So the waterline was where?

BROMBERG: The waterline was actually right at the steps. The demise of the Dead Sea is completely manmade. This is not climate change. This is

not an act of nature. The demise of the Dead Sea is taking place under government license.

WEIR (voice-over): He shows me a mural of an old crusader map of the Jordan valley. And it`s a great way to get our bearings to understand that

it all begins in the Sea of Galilee where Jesus took that famous walk across the waves. That is the main source of the River Jordan. And for

centuries, it flowed into the Dead Sea with enough force to keep up with rapid evaporation under that scalding sun. But in the last 50 years,

warring neighbors began draining the Jordan.

BROMBERG: Israel took half of the river Jordan, another quarter from Syria and another quarter from Jordan.

WEIR: So there is no one villain in this manmade disaster. It is a simple equation of too many people and not enough cooperation.

(voice-over): As we drive down, down, down below sea level, ears a popping, we see a liquid victim of all that conflict, a lake unlike any

other, smooth as blueberry yogurt. Just imagine the elation of ancient travelers seeing it for the first time. Water in the desert!

But then they got close and crunched across a bizzaro beach of salt and found a thick mineral soup that stings the eyes and burns the tongue. No

wonder that for centuries the Dead Sea filled visitors with dread.

(on camera): They say that splashing any of the Dead Sea in your face is a sensation not unlike being pepper sprayed. More salt than pepper spray, I

suppose.

(voice-over): And so, one must ease into the warm and viscous water, which feels like 90 degrees and almost slimy. But the floating, amazing. You

need a bit of core muscle to keep from flipping over, but otherwise, if not for the blowtorch sun, you could almost nap out here.

Now, getting out brings the instant urge to shower. So for most, this is a "been there, done that" kind of experience. But for hundreds of thousands

of people a year, this is not entertainment. It is medicine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AZUZ: Well, there is jumping rope, then there`s Double Dutch, then there`s this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three, two, one -- go!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ: You can`t just credit the jumper for setting the new Guinness World Record for most Double Dutch style skips in 30 seconds. It took a Japanese

team with lightning feet and one lightning hands to complete 129 skips.

The record wasn`t actually given until it could be verified with slow motion, because if you`ve been roped in to recording a rope record, you

can`t make an accurate record if you skip the skip. The first step is the step by step count that counts on a quick turn of a turn by turn turn of

the rope, and once the old record is defeated by a feat of defeat, the shoes are a shoe-in for shoe fire shoetification that`s offi-shoe-ly

amazing.

I`m Carl Azuz. We are off the rest of the week and hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving. We`ll see you Monday when CNN STUDENT NEWS returns.

END