Return to Transcripts main page


Congress Approves Fix to Fiscal Cliff

Aired January 3, 2013 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: At the edge of the fiscal cliff - U.S. government didn`t go over the edge, but it didn`t exactly solve the crisis either. First up on CNN STUDENT NEWS today is how Congress and the president sort of backed away from the edge.

It came down to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday night, the Senate had already passed a temporary fix to the fiscal cliff, but the House had to approve that plan and for the president to sign it and to make it law. When the votes were counted, representatives have voted 257 to 161 to approve the plan. It`s not perfect. Many lawmakers don`t like it. For one thing, it does not reduce government spending, something that will need to get done in order to reduce the debt. It does raise taxes on families that make more than $450,000 a year. It`s the first federal income tax hike since 1993. And it does put off some other tax raises and automatic government spending cuts that would have happened if no agreement had been made, but if the government had done this for a grade, it wouldn`t be an A, it wouldn`t really be an F. It`d be an "Incomplete." Christine Romans explains why.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Part of the fiscal cliff was averted, but there are two big issues not addressed in the bill: the spending cuts or the sequester, that issue was delayed two months. Two, there`s nothing about the debt ceiling in this bill either. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says the government has officially reached its limit, its $16.394 debt limit. Some analysts are warning that the gridlock in Washington is what could cause as even worse, more problems. Steven Englander, CitiFX said, quote "The process was so chaotic and the outcome so unsatisfactory, that we`re likely to see a further U.S. downgrade at some point. All this drama in Washington could well put the breaks on Wall Street. Christine Romans, CNN New York.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this legit? Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution focuses on the powers of the presidency.

Not true. Article 1 is all about the powers of Congress.


AZUZ: There is new Congress in town, the 113th Congress of the United States, it`s getting started today. All 435 voting members of the U.S. House of Representatives were elected last November. Representatives serve two year terms, and they are chosen in even numbered years. The more people a state has living in it, the more representatives it has in Congress. And in the 113th Congress the House is controlled by Republicans who hold 234 seats, Democrats have 201 seats. Things are different in the Senate. There are 100 Senators there, two for each state, and they serve six year terms, so only about a third of their seats were up for election in November. Democrats have controlled the Senate with 53 seats, Republicans have 45 seats, and two seats are Independent, though the Independents usually vote with the Democrats. Some of the top priorities of the new Congress: a longer term solution of the fiscal cliff as we talked about, getting federal money to victims of Hurricane Sandy. And generally, figuring out what the government spends money on.

With Democrats in control of the Senate and the presidency and Republicans in control of the House, you can see it`s going to take compromise to get legislation passed.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for "The Shoutout.": which of these documents is the oldest? If you think you know it, then shout it out!

Is it the Dead Sea scrolls? Gutenberg Bible, Declaration of Independence or Beowulf? You`ve got three seconds, go!

The Dead Sea scrolls date back to the 3rd Century, B.C. Which makes them the oldest of those documents. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout."


AZUZ: The Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in caves between Israel and Jordan. Many of the manuscripts appear on parchment, those are animal skins used for writing in ancient times. A new project is bridging thousands of years of technology, bringing the scrolls to your classroom, or to your living room. Sara Sidner shows you how this biblical and ancient texts can be as close as a click.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The painstaking process to preserve a tiny piece of history, more than 2,000 years old. In this delicate pieces of ancient parchment you can see the text of the Ten Commandments, Genesis, Psalms, many of the writings that make up the Bible, as well as other non- biblical books. These are some of the thousands of fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls found by a Bedouin shepherd in caves 65 years ago near the Dead Sea and what is now the West Bank.

PHINA SHOR, ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY: These are all manuscripts written 2,000 years ago at the time when both Judaism and Christianity were formalizing as we know them today.

SIDNER: There are only five conservators on the planet allowed to handle these fragments, which when pieced together reveal some of the holiest and well-known texts of the world. Now they are available for anyone to sea and study online. A joint project between Google and Israel`s Antiquity Authority. The five year process included photographing thousands of fragments, 28 times each front and back using different colors of the spectrum and NASA technology to reveal previously undetectable writings.

SHAI HALEVI, DEAD SEA SCROLLS PHOTOGRAPHER: Then I`m getting older exposures on the screen, and I`m combining them all into one multispectral image.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to integrate at this point the infrared image of this part, exactly this part, and no secret writings are going to be revealed by the infrared image.

SIDNER: In the 1950s, the scrolls were photographed and last year, five of the 900 manuscripts were put on the Internet. But for this project, nearly all 900 manuscripts are online and 1000 of the fragments have been enhanced by the new technology. Controversy has followed these scrolls from the day they were discovered. Arguments bound over who actually wrote them and who owns them. Now that they are available to the entire world for crowd sourcing, who knows what new controversies or perhaps answers can be uncovered in these ancient writing. Sara Sidner, CNN, Jerusalem.


AZUZ: Fascinating stuff.

Have you ever heard of Havard Rugland? Probably not. You might have seen his work on Youtube. He is a sort of trick shot champion, but with a foot in football instead of a basket in basketball. He says nothing about what you are seeing here is faked, though some of the shots did take more than one try. The video went viral on Youtube and the coolest part besides his fantastic foot was an email he got about it. It was from the NFL.


HAVARD RUGLAND, NORWEGIAN KICKER: I`ve got (inaudible) and things started to calm down a little bit, and maybe a weak or so, I got an email from New York Jets. The email asked me - and told me that they liked what they were seeing and I should contact them if I would be interested in the tryout with the New York Jets. I, of course, thought, these were some of my friends joking around.


AZUZ: But it wasn`t. So Rugland tried out with the Jets just before Christmas. He says it went well and that he`s got another tryout coming up. If he eventually makes the team, we`ll all get a kick out of it.

Right on our blog over the Christmas break, we asked what you think is the best kind of gift to give. Katie says, the best present to give is love. Whether it`s your dad coming home from Iraq and you get to see him or simply giving your mom a hug.

From Kaitlin, "I think the best gift to give or get is quality time with your family."

Cole says "A good gift doesn`t have to be expensive or come off a list. A legitimate good gift is something you put time and effort into to make someone happy."

Jahnavi thinks a holiday carol would brighten people`s days. Her best friend "always sings "Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer," and it makes everybody forget about their stress and join in with the caroling.

From Brynn, "I think that the best to give is happiness and joy and you could give some cookies to Santa and give carrots to the reindeer. The reindeer like carrots."

And finally, Jace says, "Our country is so focuses on the "What will I get or what will I receive" and it doesn`t get the full meaning of the holidays. That full meaning is to be with the family and people you care about, not those pointless gifts.

AZUZ: Well, before we go today, a common new year`s resolution is to trim down a little bit. This wouldn`t help. It`s one Australian shop`s way to ring in the New Year with some new weight. The Brobdingnagian burger bangs the scales at 220 pounds, it weighs more than I do, and it`s not just chuck that`s up on it, it`s fried eggs, bacon, it`s chickens, yeah, more than one. The usual stuff, too, like lettuce, tomatoes and of course, some really big buns. Vegetarians might have beef with the whole idea, and there will be plenty of meat to their argument. Eating too much would leave even the carnivores grounded, though no one would have to ask where is the beef?

It`s not too rare that we cook up these many puns on the show, though they are pretty well done, I have to say. We`ll be glad to stack up more news for you tomorrow, if you let us. For CNN STUDENT NEWS, I`m Carl Azuz.