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Inside the North Korean Economy; Kenya has a New President; The Quest to Save Maritime History

Aired April 10, 2013 - 00:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, HOST, CNN STUDENT NEWS: As we start this Wednesday edition of CNN STUDENT NEWS, we`re taking you to the Korean peninsula. An American admiral says the tension between North and South Korea, and between North Korea and the U.S. is higher than it`s been in the past 60 years. Here`s some of the latest in this story.

South Korean officials say North Korea could be getting ready to test-fire a missile. They think it could happen as early as today. The North gave a warning yesterday to foreigners in South Korea. It told them to find shelter, or leave the country in case an armed conflict started. American commanders say the U.S. is ready to help defend its friends in the region, like South Korea.

Another one of those U.S. allies, Japan, says it`s putting missile defense systems around Tokyo. That would help it protect against a possible North Korean missile test.

North Korea`s economy is in bad shape. Its manufacturing industry started crumbling decades ago. The nation isolates itself from most of the rest of the world, so it doesn`t have many trading partners. Officials estimate that North Koreans face regular food shortages. Twenty-five percent of the country`s people don`t have enough to eat, and a military conflict can be expensive. So, how does North Korea take in money? Chris Lawrence looks at some ways.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: When it comes to selling technology, the launch-pad is Kim Jong-un`s show room. And the missile test doubles as a marketing tool.

JOE DETRANI, FORMER U.S. INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL: It`s telling other countries, look what you could have also -- for a price.

LAWRENCE: Libya and Iran have been willing clients, but former U.S. intelligence official Joe DeTrani says sanctions have cut into sales. Kim is profiting off illegal weapons, but brings in 20 to 100 million dollars less than his father.

How important is money to Kim Jong-un?

DETRANI: Money is key. He`s got to keep the elites happy.

LAWRENCE: North Korea has its own version of the one percent. Kim needs that money stream to keep them on his side. Fortunately for Kim, North Korea has legal goods and a willing trade partner right next door.

Who is Kim`s link to China?

DETRANI: It has to be Jang Sung-Taek (ph).

LAWRENCE: And Jang is part of the family. Kim elevated his uncle to number two. Jang Sung-Taek oversees some of the state-run trading companies, which mine reserves like coal and iron ore. Jang uses his connections to sell those minerals to China, and the profits come back to Kim.

DETRANI: This is the man who can cut the deal with China. He has a lot of credibility with the Chinese.

LAWRENCE: Thanks, in part, to Kim`s uncle, trade with China is booming. From one billion a few years ago to five billion now.

We`ve accounted for the weapons and the minerals, how else is he getting money?

DETRANI: He`s getting money through illicit transactions.

LAWRENCE: U.S. officials say North Korea is exporting illegal drugs like meth, producing knockoffs of popular cigarettes and pharmaceutical drugs, even counterfeiting good old Ben Franklin.

A U.S. official tells us that the illicit stuff is still pretty small scale, but the North does get a bit more from tourism and foreign investment from South Korea and China. But, in a country where residents don`t pay taxes and the country`s not connected to the international trading market, the official says basically it`s minerals and weapons that are the cash cows keeping Kim in power. Chris Lawrence, CNN, Washington.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today`s first shout out goes out to Mr. Meyer`s social studies classes at Reach Academy in Roseville, Michigan.

Which of these is the flag of Kenya? Here we go now, is it A, B, C, or D? You`ve got three seconds, go.

Kenya`s flag has black, red, and green bands and features a shield and crossed spears. That`s your answer, and that`s your shout out.

AZUZ: Kenya has a new president. Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of Kenya`s first president, now he`s the country`s youngest leader.


UHURU KENYATTA, KENYAN PRESIDENT: That I will diligently discharge my duties and perform my functions in the office of the President of the Republic of Kenya.


AZUZ: Kenya has the biggest economy in eastern Africa. It`s also a major U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism, and it`s an important trade route into the rest of Africa. Its newest president comes with some controversy, though. He`s facing charges from the International Criminal Court. Kenyatta has been accused of funding militias that carried out violent attacks after Kenya`s last election in 2007. Kenyatta denies those accusations and says he`ll cooperate with the court in an effort to clear his name.

We are halfway through today`s show, and we`re hoping you teachers will tell us how we`re doing. The place to do that is our homepage, That`s also where you`ll find our blog, where we recently asked students "what are your college expectations if you`re planning to go?"

For Raj, it`s all about skills, "I hope to get specific skills that will be needed for my own life and profession."

For Abita, "College is the first step to making your dream come true, whether it is music school, art school -- whatever it is you want to do with your life."

Ehren writes, " I want to get a good education and learn valuable life skills and maybe get a basketball scholarship."

Jordan plans to go to the U.S. Naval Academy, join the Navy, and become an aviator.

Tatiana wants "to consume as much knowledge as possible. I would also want to experience the feeling of taking responsibility for my future and learning to make it in the `real` world."

And Louis plans to go to college "to become wiser and maybe even get a Ph.D., with my education, I want to make the world a better place."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time for a shout out extra credit. Which of these is a designation of an American civilian ship? You know what to do. Is it SS, USS, HMS, or NCC? Put another three seconds on the clock and go.

If you picked A, you`re in for smooth sailing. SS stands for "steam ship." That`s your answer and that`s your shout out extra credit.

AZUZ: In the 1950`s and 60`s, the SS United States carried world leaders, royalty, actors, even works of art across the Atlantic Ocean, and it did it faster than any ship before or since. The designer said, quote, "You can`t set her on fire, you can`t sink her, and you can`t catch her." But she hasn`t sailed since the 1990`s. It costs almost $80,000 a month to keep her from sinking, and unless someone saves this piece of maritime history, she could end up in pieces.


SARAH HOYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The SS United States is sending out what could be its final SOS. Once the fastest ocean liner to cross the Atlantic, America`s flagship is in need of a rescue. Larger, faster, and safer than the Titanic, the first time the SS United States took to the water, she set the world speed record -- a feat that has never been surpassed. But time and money are running out for the ocean liner that carried heads of state and celebrities across the Atlantic during the 50`s and 60`s. Dubbed "the Big U," this lady in waiting could be sold for scrap unless her owners come up with enough money to save her.

The ship`s designer, naval architect William Francis Gibbs, put everything he had into his ultimate ship. The 2,200 passenger liner also doubled as a convertible troop ship if war broke out. Gibbs` obsession with creating the perfect vessel became his granddaughter`s obsession with saving it.

SUSAN GIBBS, SS UNITED STATES CONSERVANCY: I mean, this is an extraordinary American achievement and an amazing expression of our post-war history, and it would be so tragic to see it destroyed.

HOYE: Out of service since 1969, the vintage vessel is now docked in Philadelphia. The goal is to turn the ship into a stationary entertainment complex and museum. For now the clock is ticking.

GIBBS: Its name is the SS United States and she`s been here for 17 years because she is not done yet.

HOYE: Sarah Hoye, CNN, Philadelphia.


AZUZ: A dog eating peanut butter? You`d smile. A dog eating peanut butter while wearing a suit? Worth a chuckle. A dog feeding itself peanut butter while wearing a suit? Almost too much for a cameraman to take. Jeanne Moos serves up a story,


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Why make a sandwich when you could eat peanut butter straight out of a jar?



MOOS: The dog`s name is Odin, the guy laughing is the cameraman, and the hands handling the spoon belong to Odin`s owner.


MOOS: And if you think the cameraman`s laughter is contagious, just imagine being there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was basically crying behind the camera, I was laughing so hard.

MOOS: At least Trevon Spencer (ph) could see the action. His roommate and the dog`s owner Ashlynn Parker (ph) was underneath the green jacket with her head covered.

Who cares about peanut butter and jelly? We prefer peanut butter and German shepherd. Jeanne Moos, CNN.




AZUZ: At first, it`s a little jarring, but that performance deserves a hand or two and the cameraman better pay back the dog for giving him all that laughter. You could say he Odin one. I`m Carl Azuz, have a great day.