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Greek Debt; Palestinians Push for Full UN Membership

Aired September 19, 2011 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, there. Hope you had a great weekend. I`m Carl Azuz. This week at the United Nations, there`s a big meeting scheduled to take place at the annual gathering of the U.N. General Assembly, and that`s factoring into two of our top stories today.

The first of those stories, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou says he`s postponing his trip the United States. Papandreou was scheduled to speak at the U.N. meeting, but he said he needs to stay in Greece instead to focus on the nation`s ongoing financial crisis.

As we mentioned last week, there are fears that Greece won`t be able to pay its debts, and that`s taking a major toll on stock markets in Europe and the United States.

Papandreou says this week is an especially important time for Greece, to act on an agreement it made with the European Union back in July. That`s when Greece got a second round of bailout money, and because E.U. leaders were afraid its financial problems would spill over into other European countries.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just the facts: in 1947, the United Nations put forward a plan to divide a Middle Eastern area known as Palestine. One part was to become an Arab country, another a Jewish country called Israel.

The Arabs didn`t accept the decision to divide the land. A series of wars broke out between them and Israel. Israel won these wars, and there have been tensions between Israel and the Palestinians ever since.


AZUZ: Now Palestinians want a state of their own. And on Friday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced he`s going to push for full U.N. membership during the general assembly meeting this week.

Israel says that move could complicate the Middle East peace process. Right now, Palestinians are considered observers at the U.N. Richard Roth explains what full U.N. membership would mean, and where things could go from here.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): The nations of the world got yet another reminder from the Palestinians of their desire for a state of their own, a symbolic siege from Palestine was flown in, arriving in New York and U.N. headquarters, accompanied by activists and the Palestinian U.N. delegate.

Despite heavy pressure before the upcoming general assembly debate, achieving statehood on the world stage is not as easy as staging a photo op.

ROTH: This is the potential first stop for the Palestinians to apply for U.N. membership. This is the U. N. Security Council, though this chamber may pose the toughest obstacle to potential Palestinian membership.

Under the rules of the organization and the U.N. Charter, the Palestinians must first get approval from the security council in order to obtain membership and get their flag outside the building.

However, in this room are permanent members of the security council who have veto power. And one of them, the United States, has vowed to deny any request for potential membership.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The only way of getting a lasting solution is through direct negotiations between the parties. And the route to that lies in Jerusalem and Ramallah, not in New York.

ROTH: If they want to avoid a U.S. veto, the Palestinians are very likely to come here, next door, at the U.N. General Assembly, already full of 193 countries.

RIYADH MANSOUR, PALESTINIAN U.N. OBSERVER: If one road is blocked, we will follow another one. But the objective is still the same. And, as they say, they are many roads to lead to Rome, and we know that very well. And we will act accordingly.

ROTH: The Palestinians already have a seat here at the general assembly, but their status is just simply known as "observer." The assembly may grant them upgraded observer state status, not full membership though.

But they may get more rights, which will allow them to join other U.N. style international organizations. But their status would be on par with the Vatican. So in effect, their prayers to get a full U.N. member state would not be granted.

ROTH (voice-over): With upgraded diplomatic status, the Palestinians may be able to demand action against Israel at the international criminal court. The Palestine chair could be a hot seat for other U.N. members -- Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.


AZUZ: The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of a terrifying plane crash at a Nevada air show on Friday. A pilot lost control of his plane during the air race, and crashed into spectators. Nine people there were killed, including the pilot. Close to 70 others were injured.

The local mayor says this is the first time in 40 years that anyone has died at the air show. It looks like part of the plane broke off just moments before the crash. Investigators are looking into whether that played a role in the accident. As part of their investigation, they`re looking at photos and videos that captured the crash, a full investigation can take up to nine months.

And a day later, another plane crash, this time at an air show near Martinsburg, West Virginia. A plane performing in the show there plunged into the runway and exploded, while thousands of spectators watched. The pilot was killed, but no one on the ground was hurt. Safety investigators are looking into the cause of that crash as well.

There`s an invasion underway right now in South Florida. Giant African land snails: they once took a decade to get removed from the area. Now they`re back. They`re among the most damaging snails in the world, and they could also cause health problems for people.

Maggie Newland of WFOR reports on just how giant a problem these giant snails are becoming.


MAGGIE NEWLAND, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Snails are known for being slow. But agriculture experts are working fast to stop these snails from spreading across South Florida.

DR. PAUL SKELLEY: We believe we have caught this just in the nick of time.

NEWLAND (voice-over): An invasion of slimy stripe-shelled pests that, at least, by snail standards, live up to their name, giant African land snails.

JASON KESSER, SNAIL WITNESS: I think they are beautiful, but they`re - - they`ve populated at an incredible rate. I mean, exponential is an understatement.

NEWLAND (voice-over): Jason Kesser saw one for the first time in his mother`s house in Miami.

KESSER: I thought it was like a dream or something. It was like a mythic creature that walked -- it was about that big.

NEWLAND (voice-over): At the time, he didn`t realize the snails were dangerous. But as soon as the Florida Department of Agriculture learned there were giant African snails in Miami, it joined with the USDA to launch an emergency response, searching houses around Southwest 33rd Court for the snails. They`ve already found about a thousand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ,we just found shaking out some foliage and looking in the leaf litter.

NEWLAND (voice-over): The snails quickly destroy vegetation. They`ll eat stucco off a house. And just one snail can lay 1,200 eggs a year.

SKELLEY: They can actually be so numerous it becomes traffic hazards. I`ve heard of the shells puncturing tires.

NEWLAND (voice-over): And the snails can carry a parasite that causes meningitis, which is why Jason Kesser is thankful he didn`t decide to get rid of the snails himself.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See if you can ID me. I was written by 55 people and signed by 39. In the summer of 1787, I became known as the Great Compromise. In the U.S., I`m the supreme law of the land.

The U.S. Constitution is the oldest governing document that`s still in use.


AZUZ: Well, Saturday was Constitution Day. Maybe you celebrated by reviewing facts about the U.S. Constitution. But in case you didn`t, now`s your chance. It`s time for a little Shoutout-style fun. Here we go, first question.

If neither the president nor the vice president can perform his or her duties, the president`s position is filled by whom? Is it, A, secretary of state; B, secretary of defense; C, chief justice of the U.S.; or, D, speaker of the House? If you guessed D, speaker of the House, you got it.

All right. Here`s another shot. Questions about interpreting the Constitution are finally settled by whom? Is it, A, the President of the United States; B, the Supreme Court; C, the Senate; or D, the Department of the Interior? The answer? The Supreme Court.

OK, folks, last one: in what city did the Constitutional Convention meet? Was it A, Philadelphia; B, New York; C, Detroit; or D, Boston? Here we go. If you guessed Philadelphia, you`ve got it right.

That wraps up our quiz. But, teachers, we`ve got more free materials on the Constitution. They`re posted online at

Students, you guys see me all the time. We want to see you. We want you to intro our show even if you just say hello. It`s easier than your homework. All you have to do is send us an iReport. How do you do that? You go to our website and click where it says, "How do I . send CNN Student News my iReport?" Send it, look for our email response and maybe we`ll put you on TV.

Before we go, some people would do anything to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records. The question is what would dogs do? Well ,we can only speak for some of them. But at least 13 would jump rope together.

Oh, yes, that might look easy, but preparing for this kind of stunt is "ruff." So how has their newfound fame affected these clever canines? If they could talk, they might say it`s giving them a new "leash" on life, a "dog-gone" invigorating workout.

Tomorrow on CNN Student News we`ll try to "rope" you in again, when we "dig" into more headlines. Until then, have a great day.