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Fighting in Syria; Boehner Reelected Speaker

Aired January 4, 2013 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Fridays are awesome. First one of 2013, and CNN STUDENT NEWS is covering everything from international affairs to civics to technology. Welcome. Thank you for watching.

The new year hasn`t seen any new let-ups in the fighting in Syria. The Middle Eastern country`s been ripped apart by a civil war. It started in March of 2011, with the government of President Bashar al-Assad fighting the rebels who want him out. Since then the war has ballooned. Different groups and even terrorists have joined in. The U.N. estimates that 60,000 Syrians have been killed. And while experts and CNN correspondents don`t know when this will end, exactly, they believe it will include the removal of Syria`s president.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Will rebels defeat the regime? There`s very little doubt that will happen, it`s not going to be one day, which has a decisive changing of the flags over buildings in Damascus and then the whole country turns 180 degrees in terms with government. But there have been weeks now of consistent bad news for the regime.

For a week, regime air bases and military outposts have fallen daily. Rebels now focusing on besieging the bases from where the regime projects its brutal force.

Now it affects not only how people feel inside the regime in the circle, it affects how their sponsors feel, and, of course, it boosts morale for the rebels as well, so that real sense of momentum that`s been in place now for months, is beginning to meet (ph) around the capital, and I don`t think any observer at this point thinks that the Assad government really has a chance in terms of retaining long term power over the country.

As the rebels increasingly make more military gains, the question is beginning to be asked: will Assad stay on fight to the end, as he has said or will he go?


AZUZ: Yesterday was the first day back-to-school for the students of Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. They`ve been out since a shooting happened at Sandy Hook in the mid-December. Seven miles away, in Monroe, Connecticut, what used to be a middle school was converted for them. Teachers spent part of their Christmas break decorating, putting in a welcome sign, paper snowflakes sent in from around the world, the school`s pet turtle and familiar rugs and furniture so that the kids would have a smoother transition to the new place. Counselors and police were also there to help. The new school, Chalk Hill Elementary, also has more security. At least one parent interviewed by CNN says her son isn`t afraid, he`s just looking forward to seeing his friends.

On their first day back, one of the first items of business for congress men and women was to elect a new House speaker. This comes right out of the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, which says "The House of Representatives shall chuse" - note the spelling there -- "their Speaker and other Officers."

The Speaker is the leader of the House. He or she is also a second in line to the presidency behind the vice president. The Constitution doesn`t specifically mention what the Speaker should do, but today that job includes presiding over the House, often speaking to the media, communicating House priorities and representing constituents back home. The speaker also represents the majority party in the House, and since Republicans have control with 234 representatives to the Democrats` 201, it was certain to be a Republican. Yesterday, they reelected John Boehner as House Speaker. He got 221 votes, and that means he`ll be doing the job for at least the next two years.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this legit? The U.S. has more tornadoes than any other country.

Totally true. Tornadoes can form almost anywhere, but the U.S. gets most of any nation.


AZUZ: It`s not just tornadoes, the National Severe Storms Laboratory says thunderstorms in general are most common in America. And look at these stats from the National Weather Service: the U.S. gets about 100,000 thunderstorms a year, 10,000 are severe storms. We get floods, hurricanes making landfall. It`s part of the reason why some folks want to climate prove more parts of the U.S. That`s something that`s been tried by some cities around the world with both the wanted success and some unwanted side effects. It usually involves some major engineering work, and with that, comes major fees.


CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You have to understand where we are in the world, how our weather is so different here in America. First of all, we have the Rocky Mountains to the west, we have a Gulf of Mexico, very warm water here. And the cold air that plunges to the east of the Rocky Mountains, and that`s where a tornado threat comes from: moisture here, dry air here, cold air here, and that is tornado alley. Something else we have, a very large Atlantic Ocean allowing those big storms, those hurricanes to come in at full throttle, full speed because the water is still very warm there. So where do we go from here? How do we get ready? I guess, how do we get climate ready? If it gets warmer and the water does go up, if the ice melts, and the water in the ocean gets another foot higher, how do we protect ourselves? Well, the first place that`s protected itself now, obviously, New Orleans. They built all of these barriers, did a very good job this year at protecting New Orleans.

Now, those barriers did something else - they blocked the water from going into New Orleans, but they also really increased the amount of water that went into Plaquemines Parish. So you have to watch what you do, because you just can`t put a barrier around the entire world and hope that you stop all the water. I take you over her at Rotterdam, where they stop the water from coming down the river with these huge, just big gates right there. They will close, if there`s surge coming down from the North. And this is what will be. Right here. Those two gates right there will swing together and stop the water from coming in. Huge projects. I mean significantly big projects, when it comes to how much money this could possibly all cost.



AZUZ: Time for "The Shoutout!" Which of the following objects is three dimensional? If you think you know it, then shout it out! Is it a trapezoid, rhombus, cylinder or rectangle. You`ve got three seconds, go!

A Cylinder representing a water bottle or the coffee cup on your teacher`s desk is a 3-D object. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout."


AZUZ: We can print any of those two dimensional shapes on paper at the printer at your home, like we did right here. You see these shapes. New technology is making it possible to print out 3D objects as well. All of these things were made using a 3D printer. Look at this. It uses files (ph) pictures and adds layers of material, usually plastic to actually make the object. Some companies are already using 3D printers to make medical devices and architects are printing models of buildings in 3D. You could check out that shoe we showed you that last image there. That was made on a 3D printer. Now the technology has come down in price for just over a $1000, that means for their price, you can have a 3D printer in your house. It will make stuff out of plastic, but some higher end printers can make small objects out of metal. The architect in this video took an idea from nature to try to print bigger objects - buildings.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I`m Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Meet Neri Oxman, she believes we can one day 3D print our buildings and she`s using the innate wisdom of nature as her muse.

NERY OXMAN, DESIGNER, MIT`S MEDIA CLUB: When you think about other systems in nature, one often think of the spider web. So, the spiders are creatures of the environment that generates silk, they create trailing routes, they capture their prey, they wrap their prey. So in a way this spider is a kind of multi-material 3D printer. The spider itself is a kind of printing machine, only instead of printing plastics, it prints with silk.

GUPTA: At a lab at MIT`s media lab, she is experimenting with different printable materials, everything from concrete to silk.

STEVEN KEATING, RESEARCH ASSISTANT, MIT MEDIA LAB: With the system we`re hoping to be able to 3D print buildings with whatever geometry we want. So imagine that Dr. Seuss looking curved house would cost the same amount as a rectangular, box-shaped house.

OXMAN: In the near future, we will be using 3D printing to print buildings, to print houses.


AZUZ: Do you want to know what happiness looks like? Watch this YouTube clip of an Alabama football fan seeing what was inside his Christmas gift.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ll give you a receipt, just in case.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What size is it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What size is it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fit (ph) him. Fits him, I guess.

We are going to the game, Pa! We are going to the game!

Look at that (inaudible).



AZUZ: We got to tip our hat to that. The tickets left the fan of the Tide tongue-tied, He`d never been to any Alabama bowl game, let alone a national championship, so his surprise was Ala-fantastic. You don`t need to be a Bama fan to hope he has a ball at the game against Notre Dame

That foots the ball for this week on CNN STUDENT NEWS. We`ll field more stories on Monday.