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Protests in Athens; 2 Pacific Island Nations About to Run out of Drinking Water

Aired October 6, 2011 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: How can a country that`s surrounded by water run out of it? The answer`s coming your way. I`m Carl Azuz, welcoming you to this Thursday edition of CNN Student News.

First up, anger in Athens as Greek protesters take over the streets of their capital city. Earlier this week, we talked about Greece being in financial trouble. The government`s trying to find ways to cut spending in order to avoid going broke.

They`ve already made some changes, including layoffs and salary cuts, and they`re planning to do more.


AZUZ (voice-over): Obviously, this is not going over well with Greek citizens. Yesterday, thousands of them marched through Athens, speaking out against their government and its cuts. They actually shut down part of the city.

There was also a nationwide strike by public workers. That shut down the Athens airport, government offices and schools. Some high school students held their own protests at schools that were in session.


AZUZ: Several countries are trying to find ways to stop the violence that`s been going on in Syria. Protesters there are speaking out against their president, and Syrian government forces are reportedly cracking down on the protesters.


AZUZ (voice-over): The United Nations Security Council voted on a resolution Tuesday that would have called for an immediate end to the violence. But two of the council`s permanent members, China and Russia, voted no. So the resolution didn`t pass.

China said it wouldn`t have helped Syria`s situation. Russia was concerned it might send the wrong message. The no votes led to some pretty harsh words from other nations.

SUSAN RICE, AMBASSADOR: The United States is outraged that this council has utterly failed to address an urgent moral challenge and a growing threat to regional peace and security.

GERARD ARAUD, FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S. (through translator): Let there be no mistake: this veto will not stop us. No veto can give carte blanche to the Syrian authorities, who have lost full legitimacy in assassinating and kill their people.


AZUZ: There`s a bill moving through the U.S. Senate that could take aim at one of America`s trading partners, China. This bill would put a tax on any products that come from a nation whose currency is undervalued.


AZUZ (voice-over): China has been accused of manipulating its currency to keep it weak. Now why would a country want to do that? Well, if your currency is weak, it means your products are cheaper to buy.


AZUZ: That might be good for the country with the weak currency. But if you`re an American manufacturer, it means having to compete with cheaper Chinese products. The senators who support this bill say they`re trying to help out American companies. But some leaders in the House of Representatives say the U.S. should not get involved with another country`s currency.


JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think it`s pretty dangerous to be moving legislation through the United States Congress, forcing someone to deal with the value of their currency. This is -- this is well beyond, I think, what the Congress ought to be doing.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See if you can ID me. I`m a weather event that takes place in the Pacific Ocean. I`m associated with unusually cold water temperatures that could affect the weather around the world.

My name means "little girl" in Spanish.

I`m La Nina, and I usually occur every few years.


AZUZ: Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. It`s a very real and very serious concern for a pair of islands in the South Pacific, and it`s all because of a La Nina event going on right now.

What`s worse here is that experts don`t think this event is going to go away for a while. Guillermo Arduino looks at what led to the current situation and just how bad the problem is.


GUILLERMO ARDUINO, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): A crisis in paradise: two Pacific island nations are running out of water. Tuvalu and Tokelau, surrounded by a turquoise ocean, have declared a state of emergency because they will run out of drinking water in less than two weeks.

The islands are about 3,000 kilometers to the north of New Zealand, and about halfway between Australia and Hawaii. Thousands of people here rely solely on rainwater to drink.

MARI RAMOS, CNN WEATHER: The rainfall tends to happen usually between November and April, but we`ve had a La Nina here this year. And that has brought drier-than-average conditions. And it really poses a toll on this entire region.

ADUINO (voice-over): According to the U.S. Climate Prediction Center, La Nina is expected to strengthen and continue into the beginning of next year. CNN meteorologists do not expect any substantial rain in the near future, but the New Zealand Red Cross is airlifting water containers, tarps and emergency desalination units.

Rain is not the only climate challenge on the local islanders` minds. Tuvaluans have also struggled with a sinking of their island due to the rise of seawater levels in the past year. Yet residents are unwilling to leave home, still longing to live a lifestyle that is tranquil but now thirsty -- Guillermo Arduino, CNN, Atlanta.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s Shoutout goes out to Ms. Schuttert`s history classes at Del Webb Middle School in Henderson, Nevada.

James Naismith is known as the inventor of what sport? You know what to do. Is it baseball, basketball, football or hockey? You`ve got three seconds, go.

Naismith developed the game of basketball when he was an athletic instructor at the YMCA. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.


AZUZ: And, of course, people have been playing basketball ever since. But they`re not playing it now, at least not in the NBA. The league is in a lockout. The entire preseason has been canceled, and the start of the regular season could be in jeopardy.


AZUZ (voice-over): Representatives from the players` union and the league office have been trying to make a deal. So far nothing has happened. A contract that sets up rules for players` salaries is the biggest hitch here.

But if games get canceled, no one gets paid. Players won`t get paychecks, owners won`t make money from the games, the NBA says canceling the pre-season costs more than $200 million in revenue. But some players are finding a way to stay on the court. They`re signing short-term contracts with teams in Europe.


AZUZ: A lot of times the stories you see in the news are about violence or anger. But there are people out there making good news, like Eddie Canales. He`s one of this year`s CNN Heroes, people who make a positive difference in their communities.

Canales is helping high school athletes all over Texas by providing information, inspiration and hope.


CHRIS CANALES, GRIDIRON HEROES: Growing up in Texas, football is very important, just like a religion. You get the adrenaline going, you want to win.

EDDIE CANALES, GRIDIRON HEROES: It was senior night. Chris was having the game of his life.

CHRIS CANALES: It was the fourth quarter. I made a touchdown-saving tackle. I didn`t hear my teammates saying, Chris, come on, let`s go. I couldn`t move.

EDDIE CANALES: You don`t want to even think that your son might never walk again. That was a hard pill to swallow.

CHRIS CANALES: Around my one-year anniversary, I was going through a lot of depression.

EDDIE CANALES: So I said, "Let`s go to a football game." We ended up watching another young man suffer a spinal cord injury. Chris, he turns to me, said, "Dad, we`ve got to go help him."

I`m Eddie Canales. My goal is to be there for young men that have suffered spinal cord injuries playing high school football.

CHRIS CANALES: When we hear about injury, we go to the family as soon as we can.

EDDIE CANALES: . since we`ve started, and we`ve worked with 19 families just in the state of Texas. We help them with ramps in their homes or wheelchair accessible vehicles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, we got room.

EDDIE CANALES: It`s a very expensive injury. For someone injured on the professional level, it`s going to be taken care of. But on the high school level, it`s a totally different story. We want to make sure that these kids are not forgotten.

CHRIS CANALES: We`re a band of brothers. Our biggest bond is football.

EDDIE CANALES: They were on the gridiron, but they`ve never quit. They`ve never given up. That`s what keeps me pushing.


AZUZ: Fantastic story there. Teachers, you can check out our CNN Heroes Curriculum Guide on our home page.

Before we go today, you can see brown bears at the Bronx Zoo every day.


AZUZ (voice-over): But every weekend in October, you can see them do this -- well, at least the ones with good hand-eye coordination.

It a total trick-or-treat setup. The pumpkins are the treat and then the bears show off their tricks, like dunking it underwater. Besides, everyone needs some special food sometimes.


AZUZ: . otherwise they`d just be left with the "bear" necessities. All right. CNN Student News returns tomorrow to close out the week. Enjoy the rest of your Thursday, and we`ll look forward to seeing you then.