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Major Flooding in Pakistan; China`s Middle Class

Aired September 15, 2011 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for spending part of your Thursday with CNN Student News. Glad to have you along. From CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, I`m Carl Azuz.

First up today, heavy rains and flooding are taking a major toll in Pakistan. The floods have already drenched more than 4 million acres of land. Think of 4 million football field just covered in water. Here`s a look.


AZUZ (voice-over): The floods have killed more than 230 people, ruined about 80 percent of the area`s crops and damaged more than a million homes, forcing many people into temporary camps. And the wet weather is not over. Forecasts are predicting more rain, and that means Pakistan`s going to need a lot of help.

Several countries have already offered to do that, including the United States, Iran and Japan. This disaster comes only a year after another round of severe floods hit Pakistan. Those floods killed more than 1,700 people and caused nearly $10 billion in damage.


AZUZ: Now to the U.S., the federal government has released its final report on a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. You might remember that. It was last year, April 2010. That`s when an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig killed 11 workers and led to 200 million gallons of oil spilling out into the ocean. Here`s some of the images we saw back then.


AZUZ (voice-over): The report says the main cause of the explosion, a problem with the cement seal at the oil well`s site. And it blames three companies for the disaster: BP, which operated the rig; Transocean, which owned the rig; and Halliburton, which did the cement job.

The report says all three had different responsibilities for keeping the rig and its employees safe.


AZUZ: NASA`s shuttle program ended earlier this year, but Wednesday NASA officials unveiled plans for the next generation of spacecraft. Here`s what it would look like.


AZUZ (voice-over): It`s called SLS, stands for Space Launch System. The space agency says it will be the most powerful rocket ever. It`s expected to cost $18 billion. And as John Zarrella explains, it would take astronauts further into space than ever before.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN REPORTER: It`s going to be 2017 at the earliest before the first launch of the new super rocket that -- you know, NASA had said right along, look, we have to stop shuttles so we can build this new rocket. So they ended the shuttle program. Now they have finally announced the new rocket which, in many respects, is kinda sorta going to look like a shuttle, except that the capsule`s going to be on the top.

It`ll have a huge engine, a tank in the middle, engines on the bottom and boosters on the sides, and ultimately NASA says this rocket will be able to take humans first to an asteroid by 2025, and then to Mars in the 2030 time period. Going to have to wait and see if that all pans out.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for the Shoutout. Someone who buys goods and services for personal use is usually called a: is it marketer? Consumer? Retailer or producer? You`ve got three seconds, go.

B is the answer. Consumers help keep an economy running. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.


AZUZ: Some groups of consumers help keep an economy running more than others, and right now as economic growth slows down in the U.S. and Europe, many companies have their eyes on China`s middle class. As Andrew Stevens tells us, it looks like this particular consumer group is turning out to have some serious buying power.


ANDREW STEVENS, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): The Lee (ph) family represents perhaps the most important consumer in the global economy today, the Chinese middle class, a customer base estimated in the hundreds of millions with cash to spend.

As growth slows in the U.S. and Europe, companies are desperate for new customers. Many already get a growing share of their revenues from China.

Last month, luxury jeweler Tiffany posted dazzling quarterly results, helped by Chinese tourists who stepped up diamonds in the U.S.. But as luxury brands revel in China`s newfound prosperity, further down the ladder, the environment is more challenging.

FREDERICK NEUMANN, HSBC: So we`re very good at selling image brands, consumer goods. We`re also good at selling some other types of products, like certain cars. But broadly speaking, the Chinese have -- in the mass market have their own brands, their own companies. And it`s there that -- where western firms struggle to really penetrate the local consumer market.

STEVENS (voice-over): Despite competition from homegrown brands, the sheer scale of the Chinese consumer market is too big for companies to ignore. And it`s only going to get bigger. The Brookings Institution (sic) says that by 2020, China could be the world`s top middle class consumer market. And by 2030, they may account for 18 percent of all global spending.

These are mouthwatering statistics for global retailers. And like the Lee (ph) family, they, too, hope that China`s god of wealth continues to smile on the world`s second biggest economy.


AZUZ: School district in Maine is giving all kindergartners an iPad to try to help them learn reading. And your opinions on this are streaming in.

Kristin thinks it`s a great idea as long as the iPads are used for school skills and not games. But we still need regular paper books, too.

Michelle thinks advances in technology are going to influence our education. People probably had the same fears when schools first introduced computers.

And Richard believes that because of our latest advancements in technology, the kids will be successful in becoming more literate readers.

On the other side from Andrew, "I grew up with just books, my family, and my teacher to help me learn to read. I think face time is way better than an iPad."

Sara says the kindergartners need to work on being social with other students instead of having their face stuck in a screen. The money could be spent on more instructional aides or teachers.

And Jenny and Kiara say, "School is supposed to take away the focus of electronics, not encourage it."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this legit? Spanish is the second most spoken language in the U.S.

Legit. English is spoken by 82 percent of the U.S. population, Spanish by just over 10 percent.


AZUZ: Well, today is the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month, which takes place from September 15th to October 15th. It`s a chance to celebrate Hispanic culture and heritage, and that`s exactly what we`re going to do here on CNN Student News.

Cheryl Castro kicks off our coverage with this next report


CHERYL CASTRO, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): On this day every year, many Central American countries celebrate Independence Day. We`re taking you on a geographical tour south of the United States, starting at Guatemala, which borders Mexico, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras.

Guatemala has been a center of Maya civilization since long before it was freed from Spanish rule in 1821. The quetzal is the country`s national bird, and a symbol of freedom, seen here on the flag.

Moving to El Salvador, the smallest country in Central America that`s also the most densely populated. In the 1980s, it was a major battlefield as more than 75,000 people were killed during the country`s 12-year civil war. The national motto is written on El Salvador`s flag, which translates to "God, Union and Liberty."

Located to the north and east of El Salvador is Honduras, whose neighbor is Nicaragua. Both countries had sustained massive destruction by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. The storm was one of the deadliest and most powerful natural disasters to hit the Caribbean and Central America.

The stars on the Honduran flag were inspired by the American flag and represented the five members of the former Central American federation, symbolism that also appears inside the triangle on Nicaragua`s flag in the form of five volcanoes.

Finally, we go to Costa Rica, located between Nicaragua and Panama. Its national parks continue to be popular tourist attractions. The country has designated a larger percentage of its land for preservation and protection than any other country in the world. Costa Rica`s flag was inspired by the French revolution back in the 18th century, standing for freedom, equality and brotherhood.

Celebrating Independence Day in Central America, this Hispanic Heritage month.


AZUZ: Our last story today, when you gotta go, you gotta go. So before we go, why not go in style?

Consider yourself "privy" to some of the top contenders for America`s best restroom. Everyone wants to be king of "thrones." So how to "sink" the competition? Entrants have really "plunged" into the game, touting everything from full-time bathroom attendants to water than turns red when hot and blue when cold.

We hope all that bathroom talk didn`t turn you "flush" with embarrassment. It brings us to the end of today`s edition of CNN Student News. We`ll give it a "rest" for now, and another world tomorrow. Hope to see you then.