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GOP Primaries in Alabama, Mississippi; Rare Earth Elements

Aired March 14, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET



CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Hi, I`m Carl Azuz, and this is CNN Student News. Wanted to slice out a little time to wish everyone a happy Pie Day on this March 14th, 3-14 -- OK. Let`s go ahead and get to today`s headlines.

Two primaries, two caucuses, 110 delegates: that`s what was at stake yesterday in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.


AZUZ (voice-over): You know the candidates by now, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. Representative Ron Paul, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Senator Rick Santorum.

The battle for most of those 110 delegates happened in Mississippi and Alabama. Those were the states that held primary elections yesterday. And they were close ones, too close to call when we produced this program last night.

The caucuses were in Hawaii and American Samoa. Those results were still coming in last night as well. You can get all the latest details, of course, from Tuesday`s contest right on our home page. You go to the "Spotlight" section, click on the link to the CNN Election Center.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s Shoutout goes out to Mr. Moss` sociology class at Farson-Eden High School in Farson, Wyoming.

On the periodic table, cerium, promethium and europium are all what? Here we go. Are they noble gases, halogens, alkali metals or rare earth elements? You`ve got three seconds, go.

These are all part of the rare earth elements group, many of which are used in elections. That`s your answer, and that`s your Shoutout.


AZUZ: You might find some rare earth elements in your phones, and of course we`re also talking about things like flat screen TVs, any sort of electronics, really. Luckily, rare earth elements, despite being called rare, actually aren`t rare. In fact, we know most of them come from China.


AZUZ (voice-over): That country produces about 97 percent of the world`s rare earth elements. But other nations accuse China of hoarding these minerals. The U.S., Japan and the European Union are challenging China`s restrictions on how much of the materials get sent out of the country.

China says its policy meets international standards.


AZUZ: The countries involved think this is important because of what these rare earth elements can be used for. Chad Myers explains what they can do.


CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: They will power your battery. They actually -- they`re the part that makes the power.

They will turn red, green and blue, which are the colors of your TV set. They will make a tiny magnet, which in, with real magnets, would be this size, they could be almost down to the size of a quarter for the same amount of power, therefore making very small motors or aerospace or for spacecraft or for satellites that go up.

They are elements, they are plentiful in the world. They are all over the place. But a long time ago, China really reduced the cost of them and a lot of mines just basically went out of business. They couldn`t compete. Now China makes 97 percent of these minerals. They don`t want to give them away any more.

They want to make things with them, and sell the things rather than just give away the elements, color TVs, smartphones, wind turbines, all of these things rely on these rare earth elements. They are very powerful things. And they`re in the periodic table. There are 15 here.

The lanthanides here, down on the bottom, and then the 21 and 39 here in the middle are the -- are the biggest ones that we need. And you need them to make -- and to make anything, really, that`s now high-tech.

And here`s the deal. China says we`re just not going to give them away and let you make the things. We`re going to make the things and then sell them for higher value than just giving away the elements. That`s the issue here.


AZUZ: Imagine going 36,000 feet beneath the surface of the sea. That`s where movie director James Cameron is aiming for. We`ve had a couple of reports on Cameron`s upcoming journey to try to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

Today, Jason Carroll gives us a closer look at the vehicle that Cameron hopes will take him to the deepest spot on Earth.


JASON CARROLL, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): In this story, James Cameron isn`t the only character taking a voyage to the Mariana Trench`s deepest point, Challenger Deep.

JAMES CAMERON, FILM DIRECTOR: So you want to see how we`re going to do it?

CARROLL: Yes, let`s --

CAMERON: Want to see the vehicle?


CARROLL (voice-over): This, in Cameron`s eyes, is the other -- his submersible, Deep Sea Challenger. It took a team of scientists and the National Geographic Society more than seven years to make a sub able to withstand pressures at the trench`s depths, 16,000 pounds per square inch.

CARROLL: So it does stay vertical --

CAMERON: Flies like a seahorse.

CARROLL: Flies like a seahorse.

CAMERON: Yes, you know, how it just stays upright in the water column, you got a little fin on the back.

CARROLL: Want to tell you a little bit more about Deep Sea Challenger, as it`s docked and resting and being worked on here. It weighs 12 tons.

And even though it`s on its side, it`s actually 24 feet high. It`s powered by these specially created lithium batteries, and its body, it`s made up of a syntactic foam that was developed by Cameron and his team of scientists. And that color that you see there, Cameron calls that Kawasaki green.

CAMERON: I`m pretty used to clambering around this thing.

CARROLL (voice-over): It`s a one-seater, designed to have Cameron encased in a protective pod.

CARROLL: How tall are you?

CAMERON: Six-two.

CARROLL: Could have been easier if it had been built for me.

CARROLL (voice-over): It is a tight fit.

CAMERON: I`m pretty much like this for about 10 hours.

CARROLL: You`re not worried about cramps or anything?

CAMERON: Not yet.


CARROLL (voice-over): Cameron expects time will pass as he captures 3- D images and hopefully sea life from the trench`s floor as he has already done on previous test dives.

CAMERON: And I can actually slurp up little critters, or I can suck onto an animal and pick him up and drop him into a biobox.

CARROLL (voice-over): If something goes wrong, there is a failsafe system, a series of weights release with the flip of a switch. It brings little comfort to Cameron`s mother, who worries.

CAMERON: I love my family, my kids. There`s nothing I love more. But I also have to do this. I also have to go look. It`s like Jimmy Stewart says in "How the West Was Won," "Sometimes you`ve just got to go see the critter."

CARROLL (voice-over): The challenger`s frontier awaits -- Jason Carroll, CNN, on board the Mermaid Sapphire in the (inaudible) sea.


AZUZ: Well, this guy won`t be taking anyone to the bottom of the ocean, but engineers hope it could help save lives on ships. It`s a firefighting robot. It`s designed specifically to work on U.S. Navy ships. The robot has cameras and a gas sensor, and it`ll be able to activate fire suppressor systems or to throw grenades with fire extinguishing materials inside of them. But the thing is not ready yet. It`s not scheduled to be tested on board a ship until probably the end of next year.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s the word? It means "to carry," but it`s also a two-handled type of bag you can carry things in.

Tote -- that`s the word.


AZUZ: Tough one there. Well, Tanner Smith is a college basketball player. Back when he was younger than you are now, he started an organization to help kids with cancer, and tote bags are a big part of that. So far, nearly 2,000 of Tanner`s Totes have been delivered to children`s hospitals and Smith hopes they carry a little cheer for the people who get them.

Robin Meade has more on this great story.


ROBIN MEADE, ANCHOR, "MORNING EXPRESS WITH ROBIN MEADE" (voice-over): When Tanner Smith was in the fourth grade, he wrote a paper about three wishes. The first two seemed normal: he wanted a puppy and to be a professional basketball player. The last wish really stood out.

TANNER SMITH, TANNER`S TOTES: My third wish was to make kids with cancer laugh.

MEADE (voice-over): Tanner`s inspiration was his dad, who had battled cancer. He often wondered how kids his age faced a serious illness. So when Tanner turned 12, he and his parents began Tanner`s Totes. They found teens often spending time alone in hospitals, while parents worked and friends were in school. They made special bags just for them, to give a little extra support during their treatment.

CRAIG SMITH, TANNER`S DAD: I mean, he gets down to the patient`s level, and looks them in the eye, and says, you know, you know, I know what you`re going through, because I`ve lived it. I`ve seen it.

MEADE (voice-over): Today, Tanner`s Totes, a non-profit, is still a family affair. Mom, Kathy, fills the totes, and dad, Craig, handles the finances.

KATHY SMITH, TANNER`S MOM: We get emotional thinking about that -- this fourth grader, came up with another way for us to live our lives and make it important.

T. SMITH: I`d say the most rewarding thing is the relationship I`ve been able to build with my parents. That love that we have for each other has been passed through to these tote bags. I think when they open them and they start to enjoy them, they can feel a little bit of that.


AZUZ: All right. There was a time when people once got dressed up for a flight aboard a plane.


AZUZ (voice-over): But I don`t think you ever had to put on a full penguin suit. For these passengers, it`s just their everyday attire.

Pete (ph) and Penny (ph), a pair of penguins, paraded up and down the aisle on this flight recently. The pilot wanted everyone to get a chance to see the first-class flyers. They`re heading a movie premiere in New York City, so it turns out penguins can fly. They just don`t fly coach. Sorry, y`all.


AZUZ: Sometimes thinking up new puns can be a "bird-en", and we just got to wing it. It`s time for us to take flight. We will be back with more commercial-free headlines tomorrow. For CNN Student News, I`m Carl Azuz.