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President Obama Warns Bashar Al-Assad Against Use of Chemical Weapons; Is Voyager Ready to Leave Solar System?

Aired December 5, 2012 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: We have a lot of ground to cover today. Asia, Australia, the Middle East, North America - even what could be the edge of the solar system. Let`s go.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Today I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command, the world is watching. The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable.

And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences. And you will be held accountable.


AZUZ: That was President Obama on Monday talking about Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. There are concerns that al-Assad`s government forces might use chemical weapons, like poison gas in its fight against rebels in Syria`s ongoing civil war. Syrian officials say the government doesn`t have any plans to use those kinds of weapons. The fighting in Syria, though, is not letting up. You can see some of the damage here in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Reports say more than 42,000 Syrians have been killed since the civil war started 21 months ago.

This picture was taken from the international space station. The giant white spiral, that`s a typhoon, it`s the same kind of storm as a hurricane. This one is called Bopha, and it`s huge. At one point on Monday it was a super typhoon, the same size and speed as a category five hurricane. Yesterday, it hit the Philippines. This is some of what it left behind: massive flooding, landslides, homes destroyed, more than two dozen people were killed and more than 50,000 have been affected by the typhoon. A lot of the communities in Bopha`s path weren`t prepared for it before the typhoon hit. Government agencies tried to get people out of the way and to get relief supplies and emergency crews in place to help out afterward.

Less than four weeks to go, and still, no deal in D.C. Yes, we are talking about the fiscal cliff, the series of automatic government spending cuts and tax increases that will take place on January First, if President Obama and Congress can`t agree on ways to cut the nation`s debt.

We don`t have a deal, we do have a proposal. Two of them, in fact. President Obama offered his plan last week, Republican leaders rejected it. Republicans offered a counter plan this week. The president rejected it. There are some ideas that both sides agree on, but the two big sticking points are government spending and tax rates for Americans who make more than $250,000 a year. So, right now we have proposals, but no agreement.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s "Shoutout" goes out to coach Christinsen`s social studies classes at Maize South High School in Wichita, Kansas.

"Which of these was launched into space first? Here we go. Was it the Curiosity Rover, International Space Station, Voyager I spacecraft of space shuttle Discovery. You`ve got three seconds, go!

Voyager One was first taking off on September Fifth, 1977. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout."


AZUZ: A 35-year road trip, and it`s not going to be over any time soon. Voyager I is getting ready to leave the Solar System? Or maybe, let`s go back to start. When it launched in 1977 few people could have imagined that Voyager might tell us more about our Solar System than any other spacecraft. The main mission was to explore Jupiter and Saturn. It did that. And NASA decided to just let the thing keep on going. Past the other planets, heading toward interstellar space. That means out of our Solar System. NASA officials thought it was almost at the border, but than on Monday when it was about 11 billion miles from the Sun, Voyager sent back some surprising news. Sorry, all, it turns out the Solar System is bigger than we thought. Voyager has traveled farther in the space than any other man-made object, but it`s going to have to keep on going to bust out of the Solar System. NASA`s new prediction is that it could happen in the few months or a couple of years.

Imagine the life of a presidential nominee: for months of campaigning, TV cameras follow your every move. There are these giant cheering crowds everywhere you go. And then you get to election night, and if you end up on the short hand of the electoral college count, everything stops. What is it like to lose the presidential election and what do you do after that? Lisa Sylvester takes a look.


LISA SYLVESTER, CBS CORRESPONDENT: They are a hair away from the highest office of the land.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next president of the United States of America Mitt Romney!

SYLVESTER: Then suddenly, it`s over. Mitt Romney joins the list of the almost but not quite, along with Senator John McCain, Senator John Kerry, former Vice President Al Gore, former Governor Michael Dukakis, and former Senator Bob Dole.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: In Great Britain, if somebody like Mitt Romney, you know, after they lost, they would be able to go in the House of Lords, kind of a wise men council. We don`t have it in the United States. When you lose, you lose.


SYLVESTER: Reinvention can take different forms. Senators McCain and Kerry have their day jobs to return to on Capitol Hill. In fact, Kerry`s name is now being floated for secretary of state replacing Hillary Clinton.

Vice President Al Gore made global warming his calling, winning the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, Gore also promoted sustainable investing and co- founded current TV. Bob Dole has been a special council at a top law firm.

Moving from the political life back to civilian life can be tricky. Take Mitt Romney, he had round the clock secret service protection, a legion of followers.


SYLVESTER: Crowds of thousands chanting his name. And then, nothing.

Former congressman Mark Kennedy who now heads up George Washington University`s Graduate School of Political Management offers this sage advice:

MARK KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: I think what makes a difference is having a focus: you mentioned Al Gore. He focused on environmental issues. If you look at John Kerry who`s focuses on foreign policy issues. If you pick some piece of your message that did resonate with the American people and after a pause come back and start emphasizing that in important ways, that I think is the path to really helping to make a difference after you run.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can I.D. me.

I`m a geographic landmark that`s also a popular tourist attraction. I`m home to thousands of different species. I`m located off the coast of Australia and I`m the world`s largest coral reef system.

I`m the Great Barrier Reef. And I cover around a 135,000 square miles.


AZUZ: One group is trying to map out every inch of the Great Barrier Reef, and they are posting the pictures online. Sure, it`s a way for people who can`t visit in person to see the world`s largest coral reef, but the point of this project isn`t just for people to see the reef, is to help keep it from disappearing. Philippe Cousteau dives into the details.


PHILIPPE COUSTEAU: We are in the water with the researchers of the Catlin Seaview Survey. Their mission map the world`s coral reefs creating a comprehensive study for scientists while giving the rest of us a chance to see their work in real time.

360 degree panoramic images that will soon be used by researchers monitoring the effects of climate change are already available on Google maps. And a social media campaign connects the team with more than 2 million followers online.

Coral reefs are source of food and income for over 500 million people in more than 50 countries. But for most of us, they remain out of sight and out of mind. And the neglect is taking its toll. Overfishing, pollution, warming ocean temperatures have all contributed to what scientists are discovering is the reefs` rapid decline.

OVE HOEGH-GULDBERG, CHIEF SCIENTIST: We had a paper published on it at the (inaudible) Sciences that shows that half of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef has disappeared over the last 27 years. That`s a momentous change. And if continue on that pathway, the Great Barrier Reef will largely not have coral on it.

COUSTEAU: The Catlin team says waiting to share results simply is not an option. The future health of the reefs needs to be understood now and not just by researchers.

RICHARD VEVERS, PROJECT DIRECTOR: There is amazing scientific work being done, but it`s being read by up to sort of 100 people around the world. And we wanted to bridge this gap, well, we need to bridge this gap between scientific awareness and public understanding.


AZUZ: Before we go, dogs like to splash around in water. But this guy might want to rethink his choice of play pals. That is a killer whale. The close encounter in this Youtube video happened in New Zealand. Luckily, the dog did get to safety in time, although turning around and barking back at the whale might not have been the best decision. We`d say the whale should pick on someone its own size, but that doesn`t leave many options. Maybe the thing he was just lonely and just wanted some company. When the dog swam away, the massive mammal was just this blubbering mess. It brings us to the finish line for today, but we whale be back tomorrow with more CNN STUDENT NEWS. See you then.