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Ukraine as a Divided Country; Family Reunions for South and North Koreans; Loneliness Affecting People`s Health; John Glenn, Pioneer of U.S. Manned Space Program; Isaac Lufkin, Armless High School Football Player Getting Recognition from U.S. Presidents

Aired February 21, 2014 - 04:00:00   ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to Friday. And thank you for spending ten minutes of it with CNN STUDENT NEWS. It`s a little bit of a different look for us today. We mentioned yesterday that opposing groups in Ukraine looked like they were headed toward a truce. Hopes for that crumbled yesterday.

And violence got worse, between protesters and police. The protesters say police had snipers firing at them, and that 100 people had been killed. The government isn`t saying how many were killed, but it says demonstrators were kidnapping police officers. This all goes back to the Ukrainian president`s decision last year to sign a trade deal with Russia. It would help Ukraine`s economy, but some Ukrainians wanted a deal with the European Union instead, and the divisions deepened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because you have to look at where Ukraine is located, because this really is the historic divider between Russia and the rest of Europe. Right, Max?

MAX FISHER, WASHINGTON POST: Yeah, historians think the country`s name actually means borderlands. So the sense of being in between is really baked in to Ukraine`s identity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it`s only about 900 miles, if you were to drive down to Sochi, where the Olympics are going on right now. Let`s talk about the makeup of this country, Max.

FISHER: Yeah, it`s about the size of Texas, and its 45 million people. So, it`s big.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Now, why did all of this launch? It really goes back to something that happened in November with the European Union.

FISHER: Yeah. Ukraine was considering a deal for great economic integration with the European Union. And a lot of Ukrainians like this because they thought it was a good deal, and they liked the idea of being a part of Europe, but they didn`t get that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They got a very different deal, indeed. What happened?

FISHER: So, what happened is Ukraine`s surprised everybody by taking a deal with Russia instead for about $15 billion in bailout in cheaper natural gas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so those who opposed it, who wanted the European Union deal, then turned their attention, even more so, on the president.

FISHER: Yeah. President Viktor Yanukovych who`s seen by a lot of Ukrainians as corrupt, he`d been ousted in protests in 2004 previously. He`s seen as very cozy with Russia. It`s actually - Russian is his native language. So when he took this deal, people thought well, he`s sold out our country to Moscow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, in many ways, what this comes down to, is a historic division. And this has always been like two countries in one space and now it`s coming to a hit.

FISHER: Yeah, that`s right. So, if you look at this map, this purple western half, this actually mostly speaks Ukrainian. That`s where Kiev is, that`s where most of the protests are. The eastern half - people mostly speak Russian. That`s where Yanukovych is from. People have a little more fondness for the old ties to Russia. So, what you are seeing play out is this identity crisis Ukraine has had since its independence between are we a European country or are we facing more towards Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And of course, there is a big poll from both sides from Europeans and from the United States and others saying you should be free to do what you want and from the Russian side, because bear in mind: this was the region that went it was part of the Soviet Empire produced one quarter of all the agricultural products. It is a huge trading partner to Russia.


AZUZ: Parents, children, brothers, sisters divided for more than 60 years. It`s like they`ve lived one state away from each other, but the line that separates them is between North and South Korea, countries whose governments have been in odd since the Korean War.

And people aren`t able to travel freely between them. Reunions between dozens of North and South Koreans are going ahead, even though North Korea had threatened to cancel them earlier this month.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kim Sung Yung (ph) is 96 years old. The oldest person at this reunion. Her father urged her to walk hundreds of miles from North to South Korea at the start of the Korean War. Her sister was too young to join her. They are final reunited more than 60 years later.

This reunions are so rare, and those picked so elderly, even illness couldn`t keep them away. 90-year old Kim Sung Kian (ph) was transported in an ambulance and attended the reunion hooked up to an I.V. drip. Determined a bout of the flue wouldn`t ruin his only chance to see his son and daughter.

CNN affiliate YTN quotes him as saying, even if I die now, if I have seen my family, I will die in peace.

Every single story is heartbreaking. And a stark reminder of the pain of the people divided. The Korean War ended in a stalemate in 1953. Without any regular forms of communications between the two Koreas, families have gone decades without contact. Even this contact was monitored. North Korean officials stood by every table, listening to every conversation.

For some, the overwhelming emotion was simply too much. Tens of thousands of Koreans applied to be part of this reunion. Those that were picked already had one disappointment last September when the meeting was canceled at the last minute.

HANCOCKS: These reunions are bitter sweet. The joy of being reunited is tainted by the fact they only spend a total of 11 hours together, before going back to their separate lives knowing that their good bye is permanent. Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


AZUZ: A lot of people have temporary loneliness, the kind that comes when you move to a new city or school. But for those who live with it, day in and day out, it`s a serious condition. One that doctors say can significantly affect your health. It can keep you from getting good sleep. It can shorten your life. CNN`s Dr. Sanjay Gupta recently contributed to a PSA called "Just Say Hello." It encourages people to do that, say hello to strangers or folks they hadn`t heard from in a while. Here`s why.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN ANCHOR: What sort of struck me as - from a physical standpoint, if someone`s having a heart problem, for example, you may know to go over there and pump on their chest. If someone is suffering from loneliness or something, we tend to avoid those people. They are loners. They are people who are sort of, and we know these people in our buildings, in our workplace. And this was part of this campaign, it was trying to address that particular issue. Recognizing that loneliness by itself is a risk factor for so many different things.


AZUZ: For those who are lonely, ways of addressing it include becoming active. Getting involved in activities, clubs or places of faith like church.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actual pictures of Glenn in the capsule will give scientists the opportunity to study his reactions. As he passes over the Canary Islands, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Australia, back across the Pacific and over the United States. He speeds at 17,500 miles an hour, reaching a high point of 160 miles and the low altitude of 99 miles. Each of the three orbits takes about 90 minutes. Three times the colonel sees the sunrise within the period of four hours and 56 minutes. Three times around the globe.


AZUZ: Still impressive, all these decades later, but it took amazing courage back in 1962 when the U.S. manned space program was just getting off the ground. Yesterday was the 52 anniversary of when astronaut John Glenn made those trips around the Earth. He was the first American in orbit, and in 1998, he went back up on the Space Shuttle Discovery becoming the oldest person ever to travel in space. That time, he was 77. Glenn is more than an astronaut. Throughout his life, he`s served as a Marine fighter pilot, a test pilot, a U.S. senator. He worked as an adjunct professor at Ohio State University. And in 2012, he was awarded the presidential Medal of Freedom.

Isaac Lufkin is accomplished in his own right. He`s only 14, but as a freshman, he helped classical high school in Providence, Rhode Island to win the freshman football state title.

Lufkin was born without arms. But he takes a no excuses approach to everything he does. His continuing success story, on and off the field, has gotten him national recognition. Lufkin who is featured on our show earlier this month, was a VIP at this year Super Bowl. He met former president Bill Clinton while he was there. And he just received a letter of praise from President Obama. It says, Lufkin`s achievements remind people of what can be accomplished when they work hard and stay focused on reaching their goals.

On yesterday`s CNN STUDENT NEWS "Roll Call" we started out west. Today, we are starting in the Midwest. Check out the ellers (ph). That`s a cool mascot. They are watching from Elkhorn Middle School in Elkhorn, Nebraska. We`ve got the Hart - it`s good to see you all in Hartley, Iowa where we find Hartley Melvin Sanborn High. And we`ll zoom east, northeast, all the way to Lewiston, Maine. The blue devils from Lewiston High School are on today`s roll.

Not all hamburgers are created equal. The true king of them may not even be at Burger King. At first glance, this may look like any old burger. But wait till you see the bun. Oh, yeah. That`s a mark of royalty right there, a New Orleans King Cake. Just ahead to Mardi Gras season, to give a little extra flavor to an all-American favorite, it`s becoming a bestseller aboard the food truck that introduced it. Of course, it carries a truckload of calories, but the holiday isn`t called Fat Tuesday for nothing. And if taste is truly king, this may take the cake, maybe, as it`s paraded around New Orleans, it`s sure to attract the crew of fans. People who love carnival food would probably tell you - you just can`t beat it. I`m Carl Azuz and we`ll be floating more news in pongee way next week.