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Mali Fights Rebels; Washington Gets Ready for Inauguration Ceremony

Aired January 15, 2013 - 04:00:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: From (inaudible) Lake Dallas, Texas is proud to announce that CNN STUDENT NEWS starts right now. Take it away, Carl.


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: What you`re looking at right here, pictures from the nation of Mali. These are police officers on patrol in the capital city. They are getting support from France, and other countries including the U.S are considering getting involved, too. That is because Malian government forces are fighting against rebels. The rebels are radical Islamic militants. They have links to the al-Qaeda terrorist group, they`ve been gaining control of territory in Mali for months now. We`re going to take a look at where exactly this is happening. On the map here, you`re going to see Mali. It`s in Western Africa, it`s about twice the size of the U.S. State of Texas, and it`s home to more than 15 million people.

This conflict started last year when a group of soldiers overthrew the government. When that happened, the northern part of the country, which is mostly desert, was kind of left out there on its own. And that`s where these militants started their takeover. We mentioned France is already involved in this conflict. They have hundreds of troops on the ground and they are using jets to launch airstrikes on rebel training camps and other targets. A spokesman for the rebels says, "the war has only started."

Next up, Cuba. The island nation is less than 100 miles away from the U.S., just a short flight or boat ride, but getting from one country to the other has been severely limited for decades. When Fidel Castro took control of Cuba in 1959, and set up the nation`s communist government, he put laws in place that restricted Cubans from traveling outside their country. So let`s say you lived in Cuba and had a family member who escaped to the United States. There was a good chance you wouldn`t see that person for years, because you wouldn`t be allowed to leave Cuba. Fidel`s brother Raul Castro is president now. He`s lifting some of those travel restrictions, although the new rules won`t be the same for all Cubans.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sport stars, doctors and military officials still face restriction, because of the value to Cuban society. But most Cubans now will be able to stay abroad for up to two years without losing the right to return, and for the first time, can take young children with them.

Reforms that were welcomed outside this Havana immigration office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): This is good, they should have done it years ago. But at least now things will be easier, I suppose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I sincerely think Raul is doing things better than his brother, but they left him a lot of problems to fix.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can I.D. me. I`m located in North America. I`m home to many species of fish and I provide drinking water to more than 35 million people. I`m the largest lake group in the world.

I`m the Great Lakes. Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario.


AZUZ: The water cycle - evaporation and precipitation, that`s how the Great Lakes usually work, snow and rain from the region refill the Lakes to make up for the effects of evaporation. But last winter, there wasn`t a lot of snow, and last summer was really hot. That led to this. The lakes aren`t any less great, there`s just less lake. Michigan and Huron hit record low levels for December. They could break the all-time low in the next few months. It`s not necessarily a new problem. Experts say the Great Lakes levels have been below average for years. It is an economic problem. Lower water levels mean cargo ships that travel along the lakes have to carry less, or they run the risk of running aground. Low levels effect the ability to fish, too, and that means fewer tourists visiting the Great Lakes.


JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

ROBERTS: So, help you God.

OBAMA: So, help me God.

ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.



AZUZ: All right. That was the moment four years ago when Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. After winning reelection last November, he`s getting ready to do that again. The presidential inauguration is this massive public event. Organizers want to make sure it goes off without a hitch. So, they are getting some practicing before the big day.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT : We saw the fife and drums practice, the marching band, members of every branch of the military practicing marching in formation. And then we had stand-ins conducting this swearing- in ceremony, stand-ins for Vice President Biden and President Obama as well as the first lady, and even two little girls standing in for Sasha and Malia Obama. So, a big day here. You know, not as many people are expected this time around as four years ago. But still, quite a crowd.

I should mention that the official swearing-in ceremony will take place at the White House on Sunday, January 20, that`s the constitutionally mandated day that the president must be sworn in. But the big public ceremony will be on Monday, and we know that the president plans to use a bible, a traveling bible used by the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. As well as the bible that belonged to President Abraham Lincoln, that one`s on loan from the Library of Congress here in Washington. Athena Jones, CNN, Washington.


AZUZ: Teachers, if you are planning on going to Monday`s inauguration, maybe you are taking students. If so, we want to hear from you before it happens. Go to the frequently asked questions box on our home page. Click on "How do I send CNN STUDENT NEWS an email," then please, fill out the form, let us know your plans.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s "Shoutout" goes out to Mr. Stevermer`s social studies classes at USC High School in Wells, Minnesota. The prefix "neuro-" refers to what system in the human body? Here we go - is it the immune system, circulatory system, respiratory system or nervous system? You`ve got three seconds, go!

Neuro refers to the nervous system, which sends impulses between your brain and other parts of your body. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout."


AZUZ: If you want to study those messages to and from your brain, you can use equipment that costs thousands of dollars or you can make your own for less than 100 bucks. That`s the challenge that a pair of graduate students took on, and what they came up with, is helping make the study of neuroscience accessible through every day electronics.



GREG GAGE, NEUROSCIENTIST: Teachers don`t really have the confidence to actually do hands on neuroscience activities. There`s like a hesitation to do that, because it is like a difficult field. So, we are trying to make the tools like simple enough that you can do as we use things people are already familiar with, cellphones or laptops. And then our equipment has one button on it, you just turn it on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never knew our muscle will respond like intensely like this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ve been enlightened by the neuroscience, I`ve been enlightened like how our brain functions. I have a better understanding of muscles and brain.

GAGE: I`m Greg Gage. I`m a DIY neuroscientist, and I co-founded Backyard Brains.

So, once the circuit boards are built, and we have the enclosure, we do a final assembly and then we put this acrylic on the top and we sandwich these together. And it`s good to go.

This is brand-new stuff, I mean this - this is what allows us to do neuroscience with the actual human being. And we just made it so that you can actually have pads, that you can actually put into your muscles and you record the electricity that is coming from your brain down to your axons, anterior muscles and as you record that voltage. It`s pretty neat.

These guys were like - like I was shocked, and I always continue to be amazed by how creative kids are, so you`ve got to listen to them. Student named Mohammad came up with an idea that instead of just recording the EMG for a muscle, you can have two kids recording for their muscles. And do it arm-wrestling, with the winners not by who falls over, but who has the largest signal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where is the biggest (inaudible).

GAGE: Yeah. This is brilliant.

One of the things that we say all the time is that we`re changing the world. We feel this way very passionately that what we`re trying to do change neuroscience education.


AZUZ: Well, before we go, we`re going to check out a record setting performance in Seattle. The city held its annual snow day over the weekend. The highlight of the event - the frozen flurry you`re seeing right here. A snowball fight, the world`s biggest one. Nearly 6,000 plucky participants pelted other people with perfectly packed piles of precipitation. Organizers trucked in 81 tons of snow for this, that`s more than 160,000 pounds. That`s a big commitment, but there`s no way you can deny that everyone there had a ball. Community coming together for entertainment and a world record. That`s the kind of story that just makes your heart melt. Hope you enjoy the rest of your Tuesday. For CNN STUDENT NEWS, I`m Carl Azuz.