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Cease-Fire Holding in Gaza, Israel; Fiscal Cliff Looming; Cleanup From Sandy Continues

Aired November 26, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to CNN STUDENT NEWS, your commercial- free source for news for middle and high school classrooms. My name is Carl Azuz. Returning from the Thanksgiving holiday, our first story today will take us to the Middle East.

There has been a break in the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians. A cease-fire started to take hold last week. And the two sides are scheduled to meet today in Egypt where they`ll discuss what they want as part of a longer term peace deal. The most recent conflict lasted eight days in mid-November and left dozens of Palestinians and six Israelis dead. Palestinians fired rockets from the region of Gaza that exploded in the Israeli communities, and Israel launched air strikes targeting Palestinian militants that also caused civilian casualties. Israeli forces had been preparing for a possible invasion of Gaza last week, that`s when the U.S., the U.N. and Egypt got involved, helping get the two sides to agree to a cease-fire. That happened last Wednesday, and though there has been some limited fighting since then, the cease fire appears to be holding.

Egypt, meanwhile, is having some trouble of its own: in the capital city of Cairo where massive protests led to the ouster of its formal leader in 2011, there were clashes yesterday. They were between protesters and government forces. Many Egyptians are angry with their new president Mohamed Morsi. Last Thursday, Morsi issued this edict that basically says: any decree or law that he has made since he took office cannot be overturned by Egyptian courts until a new constitution is finished. That can happen in six months, and that, along with some of his other actions, has some Egyptians calling him a dictator. Morsi is promising his new powers are only temporary.

China is the third stop in our international coverage today. Something you don`t see very often: a house on a highway. Look at this. A neighborhood was torn down to make way for the road you see right here. But the farmer who lives in this house, says the government offered him $35,000 to leave his property when he paid $95,000 to build it. The government raised the offer to 41,000, but that still wasn`t enough for the farmer. So officials literally built the road around the house. It`s not yet open to traffic, and the local officials expect the homeowner to work out a deal with the government soon. But this has become symbolic of the struggle between Chinese homeowners and the government that they say doesn`t offer them enough money to relocate.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s time for "The Shoutout." The term "bicameral" means having two of what? If you think you know it, then shout it out! Is it: parties, lenses, cylinders or chambers? You`ve got three seconds, go!

In a bicameral legislature, there are two chambers or houses. That`s your answer, and that`s your "Shoutout."


AZUZ: Those who serve in America`s bicameral legislature, are back at work today, and along with the president, representatives and senators have a major challenge ahead in December: the fiscal cliff you`ve heard us talk about. Senators and representatives and the president are trying to find a way to avoid this. And it all comes down to agree on how the government spends money and takes in money. But with Democrats controlling the Senate and Republicans controlling the House of Representatives, Athena Jones explains how compromise is going to be the name of the game.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After meeting with President Obama before the Thanksgiving holiday ...

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, I want to welcome the congressional leadership here ...

JONES: Congressional leaders expressed optimism about reaching a deal to avoid $500 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect next year.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R ), HOUSE SPEAKER: We had a very constructive meeting with the president to talk about America`s fiscal problem.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: We have the cornerstones of being able to work something out.

JONES: Staffers have been working behind the scenes to find common ground. Among the big sticking points, how to bring in more tax revenue and reduce spending on programs like Medicare.

But it`s not yet clear when lawmakers and the president will meet next. And even if some progress is made this week, a final deal could still be a long way off.

JENNIFER LIBERTO, CNNMONEY.COM SENIOR WRITER: We barely see the Hill and the White House make decisions early. They tend to do better when they have a deadline.


AZUZ: That deadline at this time is January 1. That`s how long Congress has to reach an agreement on the fiscal cliff.

The U.S. northeast, still cleaning up from Superstorm Sandy, it will be for quite a while, officials say sanitation crews have picked up 280,000 tons of trash and debris in New York alone. But while gas rationing is over, transportation is getting back to normal, thousands of people in New York and New Jersey still didn`t have power going into the weekend and many still didn`t have heat.

That, along with some other factors have created some new problems for storm victims. Mary Snow reports on the dangers you can`t see.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lurking in the devastation from Sandy is yet another worry for homeowners. Exposure to toxins, mold and dust and in some places, sewage.

Long Beach homeowner Fred Morello will only enter his house wearing a protective suit and mask as he clears out areas that were submerged in several feet of water.

FRED MORELLO, LONG BEACH HOMEOWNER: I`m concerned about molds? Sure. But at this particular point, I don`t have a time for it. I have things to get done. And they`ve got to get done. So I protect myself as best I can.

SNOW: While Morello says, he has no time to get checked for the cough he now has, others have been showing up to MASH-like tents set up by federal disaster medical assistance teams.

(on camera): You`ve been to other disaster areas.


SNOW (voice over): Commander Kevin McGuillakati (ph) says besides people seeking psychological treatment, they`ve mostly come in complaining of coughs, bronchitis and asthma. Since the base was set up November 13th.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s the word? The major online shopping event that follows Black Friday? Cyber Monday, that`s the word.


AZUZ: And we have reports on both of those shopping days. First today, Cyber Monday when discounts are offered online. Definitely, it doesn`t look as hectic as many Black Friday events, but Cyber Monday shoppers who will be dressed in everything from business suits at work to pajamas at home will be surfing for sales.

A couple of interesting notes this year: Cyber Monday 2012 actually started last week. Online discounts were offered before and on Thanksgiving and during the weekend. Also, more Americans are doing their shopping on phones and tablets this time around, and many are looking for phone and tablet discounts online as well.

As far as Black Friday itself went more shoppers turned out for the event than last year, but they didn`t appear to spend as much money. This Youtube clip shows you one of the hectic Black Friday scenes: crowds clamoring to get in the malls and big box stores like Target or Toys "R" Us. Black Friday store visits went up 3.5 percent from 2011, but spending was down by almost two percent. That could be partly because many sales started before Black Friday, so some folks might have shopped early. Retailers and analysts pay close attention to all of this stuff to get a sense of how Americans are spending in a slow economy.

Don`t know yet how they are spending, but we do know what many Americans are eating: leftover turkey, a bird banquet is part of Thanksgiving tradition for many of us. But there is another tradition dating back to 1989 that you might not have heard about: the presidential turkey pardon. It guarantees at least one bird won`t wind up on anyone`s table. Karin Caifa tells us where these lucky turkeys go to leave.



BILL CLINTON: I`m told that Jerry the Turkey travel all the way here from Wisconsin.

CAIFA: A long line of lucky birds:

GEORGE W. BUSH: May and Flower, they are certainly better than the names the vice president suggested, which was Lunch and Dinner.


CAIFA: On Wednesday, President Obama added Gobbler and Cobbler to that least, the annual White House turkey pardon.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I have one more gift to give, and it goes to a pair of turkeys named Cobbler and Gobbler.

CAIFA: But after the camera stopped rolling, and the president heads back to the Oval Office, what does happen to those pardoned turkeys? Well, they`ll come right here, to the home of the nation`s first president. First stop, this specially prepared pen on the grounds of Mount Vernon, George Washington`s historic estate in Virginia. They`ll be a main attraction at a holiday festival for six weeks. Then, a tranquil retirement.

DEAN NORTON, MOUNT VERNON HORTICULTURE DIRECTOR: After the six weeks, they`ll move back to our livestock department, and be with all sorts of other animals, and you are just always thrilled when they get back there.

CAIFA: Historically, it`s appropriate. It was George Washington who suggested a national day of Thanksgiving in 1789. Giving thanks for life beyond Thanksgiving dinner. In Washington, I`m Karin Caifa for CNN STUDENT NEWS.


AZUZ: It`s hard to think of puns for the word "turkey" I mean there are other ideas we could shout from the rafters like that gobbles up our time for today. When we couldn`t a leg up on any great ideas, and when the whole gang couldn`t cook up anything better, we just decided to wing it. CNN STUDENT NEWS continues tomorrow. I hope to see you then.