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Obama Administration Expected to Push for Stricter Gun Control; Are Some Cars Too Quiet?

Aired January 10, 2013 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: There are loud cars, there are quiet cars. People are saying, some cars are too quiet, and now the governments getting involved. I`m Carl Azuz. We are hitting the gas on the new edition of CNN STUDENT NEWS.

Newtown, Connecticut, Aurora, Colorado, Tucson, Arizona - when a mass shooting happens like we`ve seen in those cities, the issue of gun control often comes up. President Obama has said he wants to take action on this, he`s put Vice President Joe Biden in charge of coming up with ideas on how to reduce gun violence. Vice President Biden`s task force is getting input from people with many different view points. Yesterday, I`ve met with gun safety organizations and victims from some of these shootings. Now, they are pushing for stricter gun control. Today, the task force is set to meet with representatives from groups that support gun rights, like the National Rifle Association. That organization says it`s committed to protecting people, but it thinks stricter gun laws aren`t the best way to do that. Retail stores that sell guns are also going to be involved in these meetings. President Obama said he wants some concrete proposals from the task force by the end of this month.

2012 is in the books, and it`s in the record books, too. Last year is officially the hottest year ever for the United States. It was also the second worst for extreme weather: things like hurricanes, droughts or floods. The average temperature across the lower 48 states was 55.3 degrees. That beat the old record by a full degree. Scientists say that when things get warmer, it raises the chances for extreme weather. All 48 of those states had above average temperatures last year, but some set their own superlatives.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve got to tell me if you don`t feel good.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The warmest year on record for the United States. Every here, every spot here in the red, a new record for the hottest event for any year ever recorded. And July, 2012 was the hottest year on record of any month we`ve ever recorded since we`ve been here.


AZUZ: In many U.S. States state legislatures are back in session this week and next. They`ve got different names in different states. They may be called the state house and senate. The legislative assembly, the general assembly, but basically, they are meeting of people elected by the states citizens to make laws.

All right, cool, so what - well, a lot of the things that affect you every day are determined by state legislatures. They make laws about your schools and the requirements for graduation. They decide who can drive and when, they ensure roads are taken care of and safe. They operate states courts and they decide how much tax you pay when you go out to eat or you buy clothes. These are all responsibilities of the state, so while we spend a lot of time talking about the U.S. Congress on CNN STUDENT NEWS, we want you to keep in mind that your state law makers pass laws that effect you as well. It`s part of what`s called "federalism." It`s a system of government where the same place is controlled by two different authorities, so in this case that would be your state government and the U.S. Federal Government. Each of the 50 states has a governor he or she represents the states executive branch. Your state courts are the states judicial branch and the state legislatures we just talked about make up your states legislative branch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can I.D. me. I`m a South American country that`s home to about 28 million people. I border the Caribbean Sea, Colombia and Brazil. I`m one of the world`s largest exporters of oil. My president is Hugo Chavez. I`m Venezuela. And President Chavez has been in charge of my government for nearly 14 years.


AZUZ: Hugo Chavez is supposed to stay in charge of Venezuela`s government for the next six years. He was reelected to a new term last year. The country`s constitution says his inauguration is today, on January Tenth. There`s a problem, though, Chavez won`t be there. The Venezuelan president has been in Cuba for the past month or so, he`s being treated there for cancer. There was some concern in Venezuela about what might happen if Chavez missed the inauguration. The Constitution there says that if a leader is permanently absent, there would have to be new elections. That`s not going to happen. Yesterday Venezuela`s Supreme Court ruled that President Chavez will start his new term today even if he`s not sworn in.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today "Shoutout" goes out to Mr. Breese`s class at Odyssey Charter School inn Palm Bay, Florida.

What U.S. State is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame? You know what to do, is it in New York, Ohio, Texas or California? You`ve got three seconds, go!

Baseball`s Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown. So if you said New York, you hit out the park. That`s your answer and that`s your shoutout.


AZUZ: That Hall of Fame isn`t getting any new members this year: there were 37 players eligible to get into Cooperstown on the 2013 ballot. But when the votes came in, no one was elected to the Hall of Fame. This isn`t that unusual, it has happened before seven other times since the Hall of Fame voting started in 1936. What`s really interesting about this, this time around is that some of the players who were eligible for the first time have been accused of using performance enhancing drugs. That includes all time home run king Barry Bonds, seven times Cy Young winner Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa, one of only eight players to hit more than 600 career home runs. All three have denied using performance enhancing drugs. The Hall of Fame is voted on by members of the Baseball Writers` Association of America. Players need to get support from 75 percent of the voters in order to get into Cooperstown. One voter said, this year`s results are a statement on baseball`s so called "steroid era." He says the concerns about players who were linked to steroids has hurt the Hall of Fame chances for some clean players as well. This is an issue we are talking about in our blog. So, you are welcome to log on to, to tell us your opinion.

In 2010, Congress passed a law called the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, it laid out new rules for certain vehicles. The Department of Transportation looked at a lot of factors including the extra costs for car companies, now they are planning to put these rules in effect. So why is the government making noise about cars that don`t make enough?


RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are green, fuel efficient, but too quiet and a potential threat to cyclists and pedestrians. That`s what the Department of Transportation says about hybrid and electric cars. The federal agency just proposed rules that would require new green vehicles make sounds loud enough to alert pedestrians and cyclists like George Abbot.

GEORGE ABBOT, PEDESTRIAN, CYCLIST: I have the experience going alongside them - and not, like not realizing that there was one there.

MARSH: It`s what`s under the hood that makes this hybrid an electric car so quiet on the road. This Nissan Leaf also has technologies similar to what the government wants in all electric and hybrid cars. Do you hear that sound? Well, the government believes it could save lives.

Eddie George sells the vehicles at Dart cars in Maryland.

EDDIR GEORGE, DARCARS NISSAN: The car is very quiet, you cannot hear anything, so I mean you have some people when they are coming to test drive the car, the car is on.

MARSH: But a flip of a switch and its pedestrian alert feature turns on. Without the feature, a much quieter drive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn`t know that would help, but I think, you know, again, I think people would just need to pay more attention.

MARSH: DOT says the sounds would need to be loud enough to still be heard despite other street and ambient noises when the vehicle is traveling under 18 miles per hour.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates their proposal would mean 2800 fewer pedestrian and cyclist injuries per year.

MARSH: You shouldn`t expect to hear blaring sounds coming from these green cars, if this is enacted, it was a lot louder in our piece because our mikes picked up the sound. Each company can pick their particular sound they want their cars to make. For example, the vehicle we looked at, the Nissan Leaf, the technology, it was developed with the help of students at some of the country`s schools for the hearing impaired. Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.


AZUZ: All right, well, before we go, we`ve got a beastly tail of mistaken identity: reports of a lion on the loose in Norfolk, Virginia, might have given some residents paws - look at this thing, it`s kind of cute. There was no need for concern, as you can see. The carousing cat was actually a dog. Easy to understand the mix up, though. This labradoodle`s owner cuts his canine so that he resembles the local university mascot - a lion. Still, police called the zoo just to make sure that cats were in their cages. So it seems like this time the main event was just the king of the concrete jungle. CNN STUDENT NEWS returns tomorrow. No lion about that, we look forward to seeing you all then.