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Park Geun-hye Becomes South Korea`s First Female President; Rat Problem in Lower Manhattan

Aired February 25, 2013 - 04:00:00   ET





CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hi. Welcome to a new week of CNN STUDENT NEWS. I`m Carl Azuz. First up today, a little history in the making: four of these famous first were heading over to South Korea. As of today, that country has a brand new leader. Park Geun-hye is 61 years old. She won the presidential election last December and by now you`ve probably guessed why her win is historic. Park is South Korea`s first female president. But it`s not the first time she`s been connected to the South Korean presidency. In fact, her experience around this job started when she was younger than all of you.

While the world may not know much about South Korea`s first female president, the life of Park Geun-hye and her family fill her nation`s history books. Born into politics, her father Park Chung-hee was described by some as the country`s first dictator. He seized power when the military took control of the government in 1961. Park was just nine years old then. Her father would rule South Korea with an iron fist for the next 18 years overseeing huge economic growth as well as human rights abuses. Personal tragedy hit Park Geun-hye while she was studying overseas in 1974. Back in Seoul, her mother was shot dead by someone loyal to North Korea. The bullet was intended for Park`s father. The failed assassination attempt drastically changed the course of Park Geun-hye`s life. Her dreams of being a professor were set aside. She had act as South Korea`s first lady putting the nation`s interests above her own. Five years later, there was another assassination attempt on her father. This time it was successful. His intelligence chief shot him at a dinner party saying he wanted South Korea to become a free democracy. It was two decades later that Park Geun- hye decided to return to the public`s spotlight and launch her own political career.

And then last December, as head of the Conservative Party, this 61 years old who never married and doesn`t have children was elected president with an overwhelming majority. One of her major challenges as president will be dealing with North Korea. She met the late Kim Jong-il in 2002 in an attempt to end the bad blood between the two families. Park Geun-hye says she wants to resume talks with North Korea and restart the aid program on the condition that North Korea abandons its nuclear weapons program. But after its third nuclear test, analysts believe North Korean leader Kim Jong Un clearly isn`t interested.

Heading to Japan for our next story. Engineers there getting rid of an old hotel in Tokyo.




AZUZ: But not like that. They`re trying a different demolition approach. Say hello to the incredible shrinking building. This hotel is 40 stories tall, and engineers were taking it away one story at a time. May not look like much on the outside, but check out what`s happening on the inside. The crews go floor by floor using temporary jacks - those hold up the higher floor while the workers take out beams, support columns and debris. Then the jacks lower what`s left and the crew moves on. Why do it this way? That`s a lot quieter than a standard demolition which keeps the neighbors happy, and new chance of an implosion damaging other buildings. It`s also more expensive and it takes longer - in this case, and estimated six or seven months.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: See if you can I.D. me: you`ll find me in space about 93 million miles from Earth. Also, I`m made up of different gases. Astronomers consider me a yellow dwarf star and I`m the closest star to your planet. I`m the Sun. And the temperature at my core is believed to be 27 million degrees Fahrenheit.


AZUZ: So, the sun is hot. And what you`re seeing according to NASA is an eruption on the Sun surface. It`s set up a bunch of fiery plasma, and that appeared to rain back down in a circular ark. Look, how in comparison, the Earth is so much smaller than this eruption alone. The sun is thought to be about 109 times the width of the Earth. A couple of other things here: this was recorded last summer, and it`s sped up. Every second you see is about six minutes of real time. Scientists say the Sun`s magnetic field caused the plasma to cascade in a circle. And fans of Adele might appreciate how the Sun set fire to the rain.

Yesterday, was the Daytona 500. We`re not worried about who took the checkered flag on Sunday. We`re talking about what happened there on Saturday.


TONY STEWART, NASCAR DRIVER: I`ve never seen anything like that. I mean we`ve seen Petty, you know, we`ve seen a lot of big ones here. And I`ve been a part of a couple of big ones here, but I`ve never seen anything like that.


AZUZ: He`s talking about a wreck in the final lap of a warm-up race. Sports come with risk, that`s something Nascar drivers all deal with, but not usually the fans. Some of the debris from this crash flew into, over and threw a protective fans. At least 28 people in the stands were injured, some were taken to hospitals, others were checked out by a medical staff at the track.

It`s been about four months since the so-called Superstorm Sandy hit the northeastern U.S. People are still feeling the effects of the storm, working to rebuild homes and businesses. But it`s not just people who were affected. Natural disasters can take a toll on the natural habitat of animals as well. When that happens, the creatures may be forced into new areas. In the New York City, that`s causing some problems.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Night descends on New York City, and things can get pretty creepy. And after Superstorm Sandy, even creepier. Terry Riggio says the rat problem in her hard-hit Lower Manhattan neighborhood exploded.

THERESA RIGGIO, NEW YORK RESIDENT: It`s crazy. You come home from work, you see a rat. It could be daylight, you see a rat. Your walk your dogs past nighttime, you see rats frolicking like they are playing like they are pets having fun. It`s disgusting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When Sandy flooded subways and tunnels, the theory is rats were literally flushed out, forced to relocate and they`re staying put. Traps to try and catch them dart streets in Lower Manhattan where construction has only compounded the problem.

Timothy Wong says, his pest-control company is constantly trying to stock up on supplies.

TIMOTHY WONG, M&M PEST CONTROL: We even have, believe it or not, for these really nice fancy areas in Manhattan where they can`t use really ugly base station, they have live rock base stations where, you know, it looks like a rock and you can`t tell, but inside there`s actually a whole where the rats can go in, where you can actually put poison in there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wang says his company, M&M pest control has gotten more than twice as many complaints about rats and mice compared to a year ago at this time. It`s not what the Health Department says it`s seeing. Saying that while large storms can flush out rats, they can also drown them.

JEFF WOODS, M&M PEST CONTROL: Some poison up in the ceiling ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Growing numbers are not. M&M exterminator Jeff Woods says he sees New York in a whole different light.

WOODS: So it is three years of doing it, we kind of get a - you`re always looking over your shoulder.

WANG: It`s been keeping us busy. People`s nightmare is really, you know, a good day for us.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s "Shoutout" goes out Ms. Flatebo`s class at Lincoln Intermediate School n Mason City, Iowa. Which of these is a measurement of the imperfections in a diamond? Here we go, is it cut, color, carat or clarity? You`ve got three seconds, go! A diamond`s clarity refers to how many imperfections the stone does or does not have. That`s your answer and that`s your "Shoutout".


AZUZ: Diamonds and people have imperfections, but what Billy Ray Harris did when he found a diamond ring was flawless.


BILLY RAY HARRIS: What I actually feel like is what has the world come to when a person to return something that don`t belong to him.

AZUZ: Billy is homeless. He lives in Kansas City, so does Sarah Darling. One day Sarah gave Billy some change, and accidentally gave him her ring, too. When Sarah came back, Billy was ready to hand the ring back over.

SARAH DARLING: So, I just am so grateful.

RAY HARRIS: I could tell exactly how much it meant to you the moment I held it up like that.




AZUZ: Billy says, he acted the way his grandfather who raised him would have expected, and wasn`t looking for a reward. Sarah and her husband started the fundraiser to thank Billy, though. Their goal was to raise $1000. As of yesterday, donations were up to $139,000 and counting.

Some friends of mine were debating this, if they found $5 in the ground and no one was around, they`ll probably keep it. But for something as valuable as a ring, they`d try to find its owner or at least a lost and found. What is the cut off? Join in today`s blog at

We`re going to wrap things up today with a little friendly teasing. The frog is a little odd, but that`s not what this Youtube clips are about, it`s about how the dogs react. Some flip out, some are confused. What they do seem to know is that it sounds exactly like one of their squeaky toys. Unfortunately for them, there is no chance the dog sinking their teeth into this thing, which means there is no danger of the frog croaking. We`re going to end with that ribbitting story. Teachers, don`t forget to visit out page and give us your feedback on today`s show. We`ll hop back tomorrow with more CNN STUDENT NEWS.